Anyone who would object to the notion of God on the grounds of suffering, should only do so with the knowledge that there exists one religion that conceives of a God who experienced more of that suffering than any other being in the universe, in order to rescue us from it.
If “God” is to be found guilty, then this God must be among those put on trial, as a suffering God is the only God Christians have ever proposed.
Death is, in fact, what some modern people call ‘ambivalent’. It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.
C.S. Lewis, Miracles, Ch. 14, ‘The Grand Miracle’
Why did Jesus die? To take the punishment for our sins, of course. But did you ever wonder: how did God plan to achieve this death? What strategy did he need in order to make it happen?
If it was God’s wrath that was poured out on Jesus on the cross, why were any humans involved in his execution at all? Could Jesus not have called all of Israel to gather atop a hill for God himself to reign down a purely divine, public execution?
“It is a glorious phrase of the New Testament, that ‘he led captivity captive.’ The very triumphs of His foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to subserve his end, not theirs. They nailed him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet. They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne. They flung him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in. They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had defeated God with His back the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.”
The Cost of Forgiveness
Easter is at hand. I really believe Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, and the weekend that they compose, make up the most important of all Christian holidays. While the media and our society in general make a lot more fuss over Christmas (probably more to do with its position on the calendar than anything else), there is really no more pivotal an occasion for the Christian than the weekend on which, so says our doctrine, Christ died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. For the Christian, this event was the most important event in the history of mankind, because Christ’s death was the means by which we can be saved from our sins; thus the event is the foundation of the entire Christian worldview.
But unfortunately I think this event is misunderstood by non-Christians everywhere, as well as many Christians. This video, entitled “Richard Dawkins schools Howard Conder on morality”, is one of the clearest demonstrations of this lack of understanding:
I really do recommend watching the video, or at least the first few minutes to get the idea. But basically, Dawkins is drilling this Christian man about the whole thinking behind Jesus atoning death. Now I find a lot of Dawkins’ objections to Christianity to be rather childish, but what he raises here, I think, is a very legitimate concern. Christians claim that Jesus died in order that God could forgive our sins – his death ‘atoned’ for our sinfulness so that we could be made right with God, so that we could be saved from an eternity of punishment in Hell. Dawkins simply asks why this was necessary: why couldn’t God just forgive us? Continue reading