Yes, yes, I know…this is supposed to be a religion-free zone. But in the United States, the state and religion are also supposed to be separated, and they’re not. So this post is going to be a potpourri of observations I’ve made over the course of my life, and how I ended up an atheist. I mean no disrespect to anyone’s religion, so please bear with me.
The major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have their roots in older beliefs that were grounded in blood sacrifice. Consequently, Christianity in particular has had since its very inception its own roots in the belief that a blood sacrifice is required as an atonement for sins (wrongdoings) and as its main tenet.
“Jesus died for your sins” is the very foundation of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. One worships Christ crucified (hence, the crucifix), and the other worships Christ risen (hence, the empty cross).
Everything else is just window-dressing: Jews don’t recognize Christ as the Messiah, Protestants don’t recognize the pope as the vicar of Christ on earth, and Southern Baptists don’t recognize each other at Hooter’s.
I maintain that the whole concept of blood sacrifice is a holdover from before the Dark Ages and has nothing whatsoever to do with the mission of Christ.
Want proof? If God truly required a blood sacrifice of his own son, why not have him crucified as an infant, to save time? Then there would have been no need for the humiliation and suffering he underwent at the hands of the Romans.
Yes, it was the Romans and not the Jews who were responsible for the crucifixion. Consider: the Jewish priesthood accused Jesus of blasphemy, the scriptural punishment for which was death by stoning. Crucifixion, on the other hand, was Rome’s punishment for enemies of the state.
Pontius Pilate knew exactly what he was doing when he had Christ crucified as an enemy of the state, which is why he hung the sign “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” As a descendant of David, Jesus could rightfully claim to be the king of the House of Israel; Pilate said to the Jews, “Okay, here’s your king. He’s DEAD. Any questions?”
Later, when Christianity became one of the religions of the Roman Empire, and later still, the official religion, the powers that be realized that they had a real problem in the fact that they themselves had killed their own savior! What do do? Hey, let’s blame it on the Jews! Nobody really likes them, and besides, as the winners, we get to write the history!
Now That We’ve Eliminated the Need For Blood Sacrifice…
Where does that leave us? My theory is that over the past 21 centuries, we’ve lost sight of the true purpose of Christ’s mission, which was not to die for us, but to be an example of how to live.
Why do churches rely so heavily on the morality of the Old Testament, and all but completely ignore Christ’s message (read The Beatitudes) as well as the example he lived?
Christ cleansed the temple of the hawkers and vendors who had made it their home, but many churches today demand 10% of your earnings. He advocated feeding the poor, housing the homeless, and healing the sick. And we’re all witness to what that has become in the United States.
Christ Didn’t Die For Your Sins
For make no mistake: if Christ was truly one with god, then he, too, would have been all-powerful and would have had no problem smiting his enemies.
Rather he lived his life as an example of how everyone should live their lives. And in the end, as the supreme example, he died for his beliefs, showing us that it is better to die for your beliefs than to kill for them.
And that’s a lesson we’ve conveniently forgotten over the past 2000 years.