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Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Mysterio448 » November 16th, 2018, 7:35 pm

I saw an interesting YouTube video recently.  There is a Jewish rabbi by the name of Michael Skobac who regularly teaches in an effort to de-proselytize Messianic Jews and return them to the practice of Judaism.  He has uploaded many videos giving critiques against Christianity, but the one that has intrigued me the most is one that proposes that Jesus didn't actually have to be sacrificed in order to atone for the sins of mankind.  Here is a link to the YouTube video: [WHY JESUS DIDN’T HAVE TO DIE to Atone for Our Sins](https://youtu.be/jB7EZ5fgr4I). This is interesting to me because Christianity is founded on the idea that Jesus died for our sins, and this dying for our sins is founded on the idea that the only way God can forgive a person's sins is through a blood sacrifice ritual.  However, Rabbi Michael Skobac proposes that the Tanakh does not actually stipulate such a rule.  

For example, Leviticus 4:22-29 states that the sin offering involving the killing of an animal is designed for unintentional sins, and this appears to be the primary purpose for blood sacrifice in the Tanakh.  Rabbi Skobac says that there is no particular law prescribing a blood sacrifice for intentional sin.  

Leviticus 5:7-13 prescribes that when a person is particularly destitute and cannot afford to purchase a sheep for sacrifice, and even too poor to sacrifice turtledoves, he can actually opt to sacrifice a portion of flour instead.  This appears to contradict the Christian claim (such as in Hebrews 9:22) that the shedding of blood is the only way to atone for sin.

In 1 Kings 8:46-53, King Solomon describes a scenario in which the children of Israel may be carried away in exile and no longer have access to the temple in which they can make sacrifices. In this scenario, King Solomon proposes that if the children of Israel will repent and make supplication and return to God that God will forgive them of their sins.

One very simple but important point that Rabbi Skobac makes in the video is that the most important response to sin that God requires is not so much blood sacrifice as repentance.  God mainly wants people to turn away from their wrongdoing and live righteously, and blood sacrifice is mainly just a symbol of this change of heart.  Yet Christian theology teaches that repenting of sin and turning to righteousness is actually useless without the blood sacrifice of Jesus.  Christian theology implies that without Jesus's sacrifice, there can be nothing but anger and wrath from God; yet according to Skobac, God on some occasions was known to forgive people simply because he wanted to.  Micah 78:18 says that God does not retain his anger forever, but is merciful.  But that kind of mercifulness is not consistent with the idea that God will, across the board, condemn all to eternal damnation who has not believed in Jesus.

Consider 1 Samuel 15:22 -- "And Samuel said, 'Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams'."  How can Christians reconcile this verse with Christian doctrine which says that God will only forgive us through accepting a blood sacrifice, and that mere righteousness and obedience to God is insufficient?

This video really made me think about Christianity in a way that I've never thought before.  Christian theology frames a system in which God is essentially a kind of machine, and the only way to activate this machine and obtain forgiveness from God is to undergo this process of accepting Jesus's blood sacrifice, and God will not forgive you any other way. But the problem is that this system does not seem to jibe with the Old Testament understanding of God's nature. In the Old Testament, God's mercy is much more spontaneous and liberal then how it is framed by Christianity.

Here is a [link](http://jewsforjudaism.ca/why-jesus-didn ... e-for-sin/) to the lecture notes for the video; the notes contain many of the scriptures he refers to in the video. It's a very compelling video and I recommend watching it in its entirety.  So what do you think of Rabbi Skobac's arguments?  Is he wrong?

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Gertie » November 17th, 2018, 11:31 am

An atheist's view here.

The fact that Jesus's prophecy of the Kingdom of God arriving any day didn't happen, along with his own death, required a radical re-think for his followers. A post hoc explanation in the face of apparent devastating failure.

Some of which we can see being worked through in the gospels and significantly Paul's letters (the key proponent of salvation through faith rather than works). These are our extant snapshots in time of a larger, messier and longer process. The 'winners of the debate' contributions which gained traction and eventual orthodoxy.

The Suffering Saviour who offers individual (rather than tribal Jewish) salvation draws on sacrificial tradition, but has a strong psychological appeal when embodied in a personal saviour, as well as making Christianity available to gentiles. It's both universal and intensely personal, which turned out to be a winning combo, hence that's a large part of what Christianity has come to represent.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Fooloso4 » November 17th, 2018, 11:55 am

As I see it, if Jesus was the promised messiah then the promise died when he did. Stories of resurrection and his dying for our sins were created in order to keep hope alive. Some early Christians scoured the Hebrew Bible looking for anything they could find to support their belief that Jesus was the messiah as well as the growing and changing mythology. I think Jesus would have been profoundly disturbed to learn that he had been made a pagan god.

As to sacrifice, there are various modes of sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible. If Jesus had been burnt at the stake then the story would be that a burnt offering rather than a blood sacrifice was necessary. The burnt offering, olah, literally, an offering of ascent, would have been tied to the notion of Jesus’ ascent to heaven.

Paul makes death as freedom from sin a central theme. He changes the messianic promise from something that will happen here and now to something that is fulfilled at the end of time. But Paul’s revised promise failed as well. He died without the transformation he envisioned occuring. His was not the last generation:
Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:34)
Nor was the next or any other generation since then.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Hereandnow » November 17th, 2018, 1:46 pm

The better question, the one that should begin this inquiry, is, what IS this thing called sin? Luther said it was an abomination in the eyes of god so horrendous that it cannot be imagined. But this is a reference to Adam's transgression, and we all know what Adam did. Sin for us is original sin: we are born into it, and this sounds absurd, I know (though required reading for this idea is Kierkegaard's book on hereditary sin and dogma). But there is something to this as we are born into suffering and for no apparent reason, and the moral nihilists that seem to dominate our intellectual culture, are quite fine with this, that is, they are afraid to step in to the dangerous world of groundless metaphysical thinking, where they find Plato's FOG (Form Of the Good) lurking behind every mention of some moral grounding, so they play it safe: god forbid they appear weak minded in presenting an argument that isn't logically tightly wrapped.
This is the point i would make: at least Jesus as savior addresses the issue of our suffering in the world, rather than ignoring it. Empirical science makes not one step int he direction of understanding why it is in the first place that we need saving at all (and not to be thrown by this religious term, saving, for it just means that this world is not morally stand alone. It absolutely requires a metaphysical counterpart to explain what it is).

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Fooloso4 » November 17th, 2018, 3:48 pm

Hereandnow:
Sin for us is original sin …
Augustine is generally credited with the invention of the concept of original sin. Sin as it appears in the Hebrew Bible is not original sin. Sin for Jesus and Paul is not original sin.

The first mention of sin in the Bible is at Genesis 4:6:
But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
This represents the traditional Jewish view, a view that Jesus appears to have shared. Sin is a matter of choice. Paul, however, at least in some passages, says that man is powerless against sin because of the flesh. His message is to do the best you can but the end is near and you can be saved by Christ and be reborn as a spirit body, that is, without a physical body.

The connection Paul makes between sin and evil is not one that is found in the Hebrew Bible. Job was blameless. In the face of calamity he poses a challenge:
Shall we accept the good from God but not the evil? (Job 2:10)
Isaiah 45:7 says:
Forming light, and preparing darkness, Making peace, and preparing evil, I am Jehovah, doing all these things.
In the Garden man was sheltered from evil, but in the world he encounters both good and evil. This is a senseless brute fact that must be accepted and cannot be explained. What we can do is not intentionally cause evil and help those who suffer.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Mysterio448 » November 17th, 2018, 7:15 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 1:46 pm
But this is a reference to Adam's transgression, and we all know what Adam did. Sin for us is original sin: we are born into it, and this sounds absurd, I know (though required reading for this idea is Kierkegaard's book on hereditary sin and dogma)..
I personally don't think the concept of original sin is consistent with the Jewish scripture. Ezekiel 18:20 says, "The word of the Lord came to me: The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." This verse says that a child will not inherit his father's sin. But the concept of original sin states exactly that -- that we all have inherited the sin of our father, Adam.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Hereandnow » November 17th, 2018, 8:44 pm

Just a quick note on that Mysterio448, I don't think it so worthy to take seriously how this myth of god and Adam's fall from grace makes sense in a popular religious context. Thinking philosophically, the question goes to an examination of what original sin is about in material terms, in terms of the world that sits before us. Sin is a transgression, life is a punishment (notwithstanding our strides of science and technology in overcoming this, much of which has brought about the banalization of human culture along with the cure: television and commercialism is certainly a distraction away from disturbing questions). Though I would never give a second thought to taking this as a model for metaphysics, I say at LEAST this religious idea takes seriously the QUESTION of our being thrown into this world of the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to. I mean, it seems simply a given in prevalent intellectual thought that the material moral dimension of our being humans, our suffering-in-the-world condition is dismissable on positivist grounds: can't be verified or falsified, so leave it alone.
My thoughts are along the lines of an error theory: I don't think there is very much to say at all about this, and in this the positivist caveats carry authority with me. BUT: the world is not stand alone morally; it is incomplete, the narrative we have about what we are about ,that is dominated by empirical theory, does not explain at all the most salient part of our being here, value and ethics.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Greta » November 17th, 2018, 11:26 pm

Space a spade, any creed that thinks blood sacrifice is effective or reasonable is clearly undeveloped.

I am not skeptical about all mysticism but animal and human sacrifices are simply the result of misinterpretations of events, treating coincidences as related (eg. a lot of young girls died when the rains were good).

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Hereandnow » November 18th, 2018, 1:00 am

Fooloso4

A
ugustine is generally credited with the invention of the concept of original sin. Sin as it appears in the Hebrew Bible is not original sin. Sin for Jesus and Paul is not original sin.

The first mention of sin in the Bible is at Genesis 4:6:
Sin, he held, is the absence of God, I recall reading somewhere. There is something to this, though I have never liked the term 'god'. But in terms of what occurs in our actual existence, there is that extraordinary sense of alienation, or wonder, that lies waiting for, how would Heidegger put it, the light of language to be placed upon it.
The connection Paul makes between sin and evil is not one that is found in the Hebrew Bible. Job was blameless.
This is challenged, I have read, his being blameless and therefore without sin. I expected as much. Adam and original sin are not to be separated, most believe.
Sin is a matter of choice. Paul, however, at least in some passages, says that man is powerless against sin because of the flesh. His message is to do the best you can but the end is near and you can be saved by Christ and be reborn as a spirit body, that is, without a physical body.
Paul had never heard of what Buddhists were doing, I suppose. But sin, personal sin and original sin, Kierkegaard gives a fascinating analysis of these in his Concept of Anxiety. I won't bore you with a summary, but it a worthy read.
In the Garden man was sheltered from evil, but in the world he encounters both good and evil. This is a senseless brute fact that must be accepted and cannot be explained. What we can do is not intentionally cause evil and help those who suffer.
......and, I would argue, there is a third 'duty": to identify what is within that is at the root of one's alienation, and undo its influence. This is what philosophy is for, one way to put it, at any rate.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Fooloso4 » November 18th, 2018, 12:39 pm

Hereandnow:
Sin, he held, is the absence of God, I recall reading somewhere.
Sex is sin, according to Augustine, but permissible for purposes of reproduction. It is, however, still sin and the sin is transmitted to the child. This is tied to his asceticism and Platonism.
Adam and original sin are not to be separated, most believe.
I don’t know if most believe this or not. One can read it into the story but then the question is whether one finds it there because they put it there or because they are influenced by what they expect to find there. There is a long and continuing history of commentary in which original sin plays no part.
......and, I would argue, there is a third 'duty": to identify what is within that is at the root of one's alienation, and undo its influence. This is what philosophy is for, one way to put it, at any rate.
I do not reject this view as wrong but it is not one that informs my own philosophical activities.

As to whether Jesus needed to die for our sins, the mention of John Caputo on another thread led me to re-read some of what he says about “radical hermeneutics” last night. He does not look for textual evidence, in fact, he is quite critical of much of what he finds in the gospels. What interests him is the “event”. His is what he calls a “weak theology”. Jesus’ death is the victory of powerlessness. Kierkegaard and Derrida are two of his main influences.

I can see the appeal of this. I would not argue that he is wrong, in fact, I can see a great deal of good in that it calls us to action and moves beyond the abstract and theoretical, from merely thinking to being, but I am unconvinced by the story of Jesus however it is told.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Hereandnow » November 18th, 2018, 3:18 pm

fooloso4
Sex is sin, according to Augustine, but permissible for purposes of reproduction. It is, however, still sin and the sin is transmitted to the child. This is tied to his asceticism and Platonism.
Weird, contradictory, hypocritical, counterintuitive...the entire notion of sex as sin is a neurotic abomination. I look things as phenomenological reductions first, and in sex as it is "in itself", it is not only not bad, it is one of the best goods we have. Now, things get complicated in our affairs, but then, so do cheese sandwiches, which will make you fat and clog your arteries if not indulged in with sufficient caution.
On the other hand, there is something about human happiness, the experience of well being for no particular reason or indulgence, but just happy, clearly and unqualifiedly, just by being there, as Emily Dickinson once put it: this has a special kind of goodness that,like all the rest, is in incomprehensible in its being good, but is not confined to appetite or desire particularly. This kind of good can be overlooked if one is eating too much, having too much sex and so on, and since this happiness kind of good, or, goodness in happiness (weird to talk like this, I am aware) possesses, and this is where Kierkegaard has helped a lot, a qualitative distinction, that is, it reaches beyond itself, like a yearning rather than a craving or desire. It is this that would give appetites for things like sex a negative designation, for sex is so strong it can occlude this Other in that it possesses an dominates so. This opens a door to a condemnation of sex, and the rest of the everyday world of normal indulgences, in religious terms, that is existentially grounded.
I don’t know if most believe this or not. One can read it into the story but then the question is whether one finds it there because they put it there or because they are influenced by what they expect to find there. There is a long and continuing history of commentary in which original sin plays no part.
But there is in the story such harsh divine judgment, one can see how can be seen as the initial cause of all our trouble. It was that moment when things turned from sweet to sour. It is the HOW of it that is most puzzling: How do receive the fault of Adam> K. says it is through our language and culture, which is quantitative and historical; and he further says that this leads to (not sure the one actually leading to te other) a qualitative sin that is personal and existential, and this occurs in our dialectical dilemma of estrangement from god, our imperiled soul and the world we are attached to. This is pretty close, anyway.


I am taking the time to read some of Caputo.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Greta » November 18th, 2018, 4:51 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
November 18th, 2018, 3:18 pm
On the other hand, there is something about human happiness, the experience of well being for no particular reason or indulgence, but just happy, clearly and unqualifiedly, just by being there, as Emily Dickinson once put it: this has a special kind of goodness that,like all the rest, is in incomprehensible in its being good, but is not confined to appetite or desire particularly. This kind of good can be overlooked if one is eating too much, having too much sex and so on, and since this happiness kind of good, or, goodness in happiness (weird to talk like this, I am aware) possesses, and this is where Kierkegaard has helped a lot, a qualitative distinction, that is, it reaches beyond itself, like a yearning rather than a craving or desire. It is this that would give appetites for things like sex a negative designation, for sex is so strong it can occlude this Other in that it possesses an dominates so. This opens a door to a condemnation of sex, and the rest of the everyday world of normal indulgences, in religious terms, that is existentially grounded.
Sensitisation and desensitisation.

It's hardly a wicked thing to be so wired and stimuli-hungry that you miss the forest for the trees, so to speak. So if that was deemed sinful, might it be that the ancients' semantic around the word "sin" was different to the modern notion of doing evil? This suggests to me that the ancients might have seen "sin" as being as much about bad strategy as much as bad morals.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Fooloso4 » November 18th, 2018, 5:03 pm

Hereandnow:
Weird, contradictory, hypocritical, counterintuitive…
But, nevertheless, an critical part of our spiritual and intellectual history, even though perhaps today largely vestigial.
But there is in the story such harsh divine judgment, one can see how can be seen as the initial cause of all our trouble.
I see it as a mythology that addresses the problem of evil. Part of the problem is that the world is not always hospitable, but another part, as we see with Cain and Abel, is that we are both a source of and a victim of evil at our own hands, brother against brother. I also see it as a mythology of the problem of knowledge, which is a related problem. The serpent is deceptive but part of what it tells Eve is confirmed by God, that is, God does not want us to become gods. That is why He blocks the entrance to the Garden. God says that they have become like “one of us” knowing good and evil/bad. But they are still mortal. If they remained in or returned to the Garden they would have eaten of the tree of life and lived forever, not simply like the gods but actual gods. God does not complete the thought of what might happen in that case.
How do receive the fault of Adam …
Would we have acted differently? Do we act differently? On the problem of knowledge: the term has a basic connection with the ability to make or produce - Adam and Eve did not know how to make adequate girdles for themselves. They had not need to, but now they do. Why? The Hebrew term translated as girdles means armor. They became aware that they were naked, that is, exposed and vulnerable, but did not know how to protect themselves. They now knew that they were in need of protection. The use of the term meaning armor suggests that they now knew how dangerous they could be. Having knowledge of good and evil means knowing how to do evil. The term knowledge is used for sexual reproduction, to make or produce others like themselves. Since man is mortal, if mankind is to survive, it is necessary to reproduce; something that would not have been necessary in the Garden if they had eaten of the tree of life. (This interpretation follows that of Robert Sacks, "The Lion and the Ass".)

One addition point: desire, wanting what we do not have. Eve saw that the fruit of the tree of knowledge was desirable for wisdom. In addition, a woman’s desire will be for her husband, and in multiplying God will multiply her sorrow. Both the desire for wisdom and the desire for sex are sources of both good and evil.
I am taking the time to read some of Caputo.
Reading Caputo has made me think that I need to read Derrida again. Perhaps I will be more successful this time. But it will probably be some time before I get to it. Let me know what you think.

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Hereandnow » November 18th, 2018, 10:02 pm

Greta
It's hardly a wicked thing to be so wired and stimuli-hungry that you miss the forest for the trees, so to speak. So if that was deemed sinful, might it be that the ancients' semantic around the word "sin" was different to the modern notion of doing evil? This suggests to me that the ancients might have seen "sin" as being as much about bad strategy as much as bad morals.
I don't think it's a wicked thing at all. In fact, if you look sort of directly at sex, I mean for what it is and not at all what has been said about it through millennia of fear and metaphysics, there is nearly no greater "good" I can think of, if you put this sort of thing in competition, and all this sex on the internet is no less than emancipation, pure and simple. Of course, when sex takes shape in the world, when it gets mixed with the imagination and fetishized and anything goes becomes a little oh my god, even then, if I were called make a judgment, I would lean to favor the fetishized sex. I mean, to it is just obvious: take out that hedonic calculator and see what is going on. No harm here, just pleasure; how is this morally different from turkey dinners and roller coaster rides? This kind of language almost sounds perverse but then, that is how we have been conditioned in a society of thoughtless and irrational taboo. Mill's harm principle works just fine for me.
The historical take on sin, as the ancients had it, was different, I think, from the modern sense, if the modern sense is to be taken as secularized morality, in that religious metaphysics permeated everything. But ancient Greeks were altogether different from this, weren't they? There was none of the taboo, as if concupiscence were inherently evil. The gods were sexy. At any rate, most of our history of taboo has Plato at it back and looks down on all things delicious and sexy.
The other hand of this is a very different story, and happiness is a different kind of good from indulgence. I think the monkish desire to go off into a cave somewhere to find god is motivated by this strange matter we call happiness, or love, if you like. I find no meaningful distinction between the two. Love has this openess and need for consummation, not sexual, but in the original sense, consummation as completion. It reaches beyond in ways that are difficult to talk about, and abides even through marriage and devotion to spouse and family.
Not sure what you mean by strategy. Vying for power and position?

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Re: Did Jesus really need to die for our sins?

Post by Greta » November 19th, 2018, 1:09 am

HAN, there are layers involved. At the base is sex for procreation, not enjoyment. Then there'd be self indulgent sex. Then there's passionate bonding sex. Then there's sex without the pressure, just for love. So I think the ancients may have been trying to encourage a shift from sensation to bonding.

As far as I can tell in my relative ignorance, there seemed to be some peer pressure amongst the ancients regarding behaving in a ways that were distinctly non animalistic. I see the dynamic as akin to how young musicians, excited by their relatively new skills and keen to prove themselves, tend to overplay tastelessly until they become assured enough to just let it flow.

No doubt some circles would have frowned upon hedonistic or casual sex as being too close to the behaviour of other animals and may well have played a part in the shaping of Abrahamic sexual taboos, along with the objectified status of women. I have been reading some fascinating stuff about digisexuals - those who are pleasured by either the internet, games or devices, but not actual humans. Why not? Some will seek actual humans and their complications, torments and betrayals and others will seek inanimate sexual partners (or at least limited in animation, dare I say) and their lack of love, care, warmth and creativity.

Many of the mores and ideas inherited from the ancients and still enforced by law today (thankfully not blood sacrifice any more) were based on the particular circumstances of a place and time and misinterpreted and rationalised as universal truths.

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