Vicarious Redemption

As people celebrate Easter, I am always reminded of how immoral and unethical the basic underlying premise of Christianity is. It’s what gives rise to the “Jesus Saves” signs littered across America’s rural highways and the “Jesus died for our sins” mantra so many Christians espouse without every really thinking about what that means. One of the more frequently quoted Bible passages is John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The concept of having someone’s sacrifice serving as a payment for others’ debts, called substitutionary atonement or vicarious redemption, is a core concept of Christianity. Christians are to accept Jesus’ death on the cross as blood payment for the Original Sin of their forefathers. God, having punished mankind for countless generations over the missteps of Adam and Eve in the Garden, offered redemption from His wrath: Accept your part in the filthy, bloody human sacrifice at Calvary and be Saved from the eternal torment He has in store for you. To see how bizarre, twisted and immoral such a thing is, follow me down the allegorical path.

PIcture the scene at a local shopping mall in any given December, in any given city or township in the United States. Children line up to have a chance to visit with Santa Claus. They may sit on his lap and ask for something special from him for Christmas. As Santa arrives with some helpful Elves, the children beam with excitement. Santa asks Johnny, the first boy in line, if he’s been good, or bad. Johnny responds, “I’ve been very good Santa!” But Santa shakes his head slowly.

“No Johnny, you haven’t been. In fact, you’re truly bad to your very core. Not for anything you’ve done, but for the crimes and wrongdoings of your father, his father, and all the fathers before him. In fact, all of you children are bad.”

As the children look at Santa confused and somewhat nervous, Santa offers them this opportunity at redemption:

“But don’t worry kids. One of my elves will serve as payment to me for your ancestors’ missteps against me.”

With that, Santa begins to beat one of his elves about the head and shoulders with a cane until he’s bloodied and bruised. The children look on in horror, some crying, some hiding their faces in their hands. Santa continues, “This elf has done nothing wrong, but I am willing to sacrifice him to appease my anger at generations of your parents.” The elf is now a bloody mess and Santa has his other elves nail him up against a wooden post, putting large spikes through his hands and feet to secure him. As the elf breathes his last breath, and the children are all in tears and feeling incredible levels of sorrow and terror, Santa tells them:

“Now children, if you accept this elf’s death, accept his sacrifice on your behalf, I will no longer be angry with you and will give you a present. But only if you accept his death as payment for your indiscretions. If you choose not to, then the original crimes of your ancestors remain in place and there will be no presents for you. In fact, I may have something else in store for you… something truly horrible.”

This is the message of substitutionary atonement. This is what the Christian clerics and theologians have spewed for thousands of years. Easter Sunday is the day Christians commemorate Jesus’s alleged resurrection from death’s cold, icy and eternal grip. They see it as a celebration of life after death and a promise of rebirth. But what they often fail to see is how reprehensible God’s execution of Jesus really was. After all, Christ’s sacrifice was by design. God impregnated a young Palestinian girl with his Holy Ghost sperm, bringing His god-man into the world, just to have him murdered so He could forgive mankind from the punishment He Himself had placed on them. It’s a horrible concept, but the tales of God’s handiwork are replete with horror, so after a while, one can grow numb to it.

 

 

 

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