Paarsurrey was kind enough to reply to what I wrote. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, his comments aren’t showing up on my site. I have no idea as to why, but since they aren’t showing up, I’ll provide his comments here:
Hi friend Joel
I ask you a little question; I think you don’t mind. Are you married and have sons and daughter?
I suppose you are married and have a beautiful little baby girl. If she says; papa I am willing, just kill me. Will you kill her? If you kill her; won’t it be a cruel act? I think, it will be a cruel act; so even your own Catholic church will declare it to be cruel.
You will need a very cruel heart to perform this act.
Sorry, it is as simple as that. I think even the Catholics/Protestants/JWs/Mormon viewers of your blog will agree with me on this point.
I love Jesus and Mary
I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim
I understand that from human terms and perspectives it can seem cruel. However, God is not to be judged in the same manner humans are to be judged. For instance, if God kills someone we can rest assured that He has done so justly. We understand that the person deserved it, because God is just. If I arbitrarily kill someone, no matter what, there will always be doubt as to why I killed the person. Why? Because I am not just. I can act justly, but being just is not part of my nature as it is with God.
So we come to the cross and we see the Father sacrificing the Son. Is this cruel? Is this evil? To understand, we must first look to why we were created, secondly to our fallen nature, and third to God’s solution.
1) Why we were created – God created us out of love and sacrifice. Tell me, which displays greater love; giving flowers to your wife, or giving up something you like to do in order to fulfill her needs? Which displays greater love for a friend; giving him things, or sacrificing your wants and desires for that friend?
Sacrifice is the ultimate show of love. It shows that we are willing to put the other person ahead of us when need be. The very act of creation is a sacrifice for God. God plus nothing is perfect; God plus something is less than God. Out of love He created the universe and all within.
Our entire purpose as creatures of God is to be in perfect fellowship with Him. Though He is transcendent and wholly other than us, though He is above us, He has stooped down to love us in loves most perfect form.
2) Our fallen natures – G.K. Chesterton once wrote in his book Orthodoxy that the one empirical belief in Christianity is that of original sin, or that humans have a sin nature. Certainly this can’t be denied. But just in case we seek to deny it, let us look at sin and see if humans intrinsically have the desire to sin.
What is sin if not the offending of God’s nature? God, being God, is perfectly good because all goodness flows from His nature. Thus, any violation of the good (which is part of God’s nature) is a sin. God wants us to pursue goodness so that we can fellowship with Him. When we turn away from that goodness, we “sin”, that is, we miss the mark. Thus, all sin is a sin against the very nature of God.
But God is also eternal and His goodness is infinite. I say infinite, but please don’t think that His goodness is a substance. Just as my sense of humor or emotions can’t be measured, so too God’s goodness can’t be measured. I say infinite only to say that it is perfect goodness, and because it is part of who God is, it is eternal. In light of this, anything less than His goodness is eternally evil. When I sin against God, who is an eternal being, because my sins fail to measure up to God’s goodness, they are eternally short of reaching His goodness and are subsequently eternally evil.
How can a finite being make up for an eternal evil? I would have to perform an infinite about of good works, but since I am finite this is quite impossible. In our sin against God, we mark ourselves for eternity.
3) The purpose of Christ – Logically, the only solution to the aforementioned problem is for an eternal being to take the punishment deserved for eternal sins. So, is it cruel that the Father sacrificed the Son? Consider the following:
a) Christ willingly went to the cross to solve a problem. In the analogy you offer, the killing seems almost arbitrary. In the actual event of Christ going to the cross, Christ goes as a solution to a major problem. It is the equivalent to someone giving up his own life so that others might live. Though such an act is cruel in the grand scheme of things (the fact that the situation exists where one person must give his life is cruel), the act itself is considered one of love and compassion.
b) God sacrificed God. This is a statement that is wrapped up in the mystery of the incarnation. This is not to say that the person of the Father was on the cross with the person of the Son. Rather, God was both in Heaven and on the cross; in Heaven in the person of the Father and on the cross in the person of the Son. Though this is a mystery, this would rule out God being arbitrarily cruel as the essence of God suffered on the cross.
c) This act was done out of love. Christ gave His life willingly out of love for us. The Father didn’t simply say, ‘Go do this and if you don’t there will be consequences for you.’ The Son willingly went. He did so in order to demonstrate His love for us. While we were rebelling against Him, while we were the enemies of God, He took His place on the cross and died for us, paving a way for us to have fellowship with Him. That is the ultimate act of love. It is not cruel. It is not the same as me giving up my own child for no purpose. It is the ultimate act of love – to sacrifice your life for your enemies so that they might one day be with you.
d) The Father did not leave Jesus to rot in the tomb. The Father raised the Son from the dead, out of love for the Son and to demonstrate Christ’s position. Though the very act of sacrifice isn’t cruel, further evidence that the act wasn’t cruel was that the Father raised the Son from the dead through the Holy Spirit. God raising God from the tomb through the power of God – this is the mystery of the incarnation and the Trinity. The Father raised the Son in glory, how is that cruel?
I offer part of the Athanasian Creed to maybe expand a bit of what I said in point d:
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but OneGod. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, norcreated, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three HolyGhosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity isTrinity, and the Trinity is Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of theTrinity.
So I fail to see how your analogy adequately summarizes the situation surrounding the cross. In all honesty, all analogies are going to fail absolutely because to understand the sacrifice of Christ, one must turn to the Trinity and the Incarnation. But both the Trinity and the Incarnation cannot be analogous to anything because there is nothing in all of creation that is even similar to these two concepts. Thus, rather than use analogies, it is best to handle the issue straight on. I hope this helps explain why the Father sent the Son to die on our behalf.
As a side note, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not even come close to believing any of this and subsequently are not Christian. If anything, they are Christian heresies, but they certainly do not share in the common faith of Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholic Christians, and most orthodox Protestant Christians.