The following is a response to an article by Daniel Miessler, which can be found here.
Why is it a sacrifice if he isn’t dead?
The old testament had many kinds of sacrifices, including grain offerings and the like. These weren’t ‘killed’ in any real sense, yet they are sacrifices. So I think we can leave behind your narrow definition of a sacrifice. But going further, Jesus is considered ‘the lamb’, something clearly killable, and there lies the issue; the sacrifice isn’t defined by a state, it is defined by an action, namely the execution of Jesus. And as a slight aside, most people I know inherently understand that sacrifice in their own lives, deep and painful ones harder than death even, are a very real thing. Indeed, Romans 12 says we are to be a ‘living sacrifice.’
Ah, but perhaps you’re thinking…
Jesus is not just a man. He is 100% God and 100% man, this is the basic theology. He felt pain, fear, etc. as you say, but all you do in this paragraph is say, “I don’t understand how that works” and therefore you discount it. To the degree we understand the trinity, it is at least clear that Jesus submitted himself to the Father’s will by his own words; psychological theories propound concepts like ego, superego, and id as individual sub-personalities and these are generally regarded to be what constitutes ‘you.’ I believe the trinity is like that, in a sense.
Every. Single. Obstacle…was self-imposed.
Yes, Christians understand this, Jesus submitted himself to God the Father, he chose willingly to carry out the entire drama of the crucifixion and was there when the whole thing was put in motion since the dawn of time. I know that there are countless things I can do at any given moment, many life-altering changes, many mundane ones. But I make a choice and I would suspect that you would admit at the very least it was in my purview to make these decisions. Do you object to God’s individuality, his choices, his ‘will’? Is that a concept that sours the idea of God for you? Seems an odd sword to fall on.
Explain that to me. Who gave who? God is God Jesus is God.
Begotten means only born, solely generated, etc. Jesus was the only being whose father was God the Father constructing the very being of the man Jesus in the womb of a woman as opposed to from the natural process of a mans sperm fertilizing the egg of the woman. God gave this miraculously born individual, whose spirit is that of the Word, the Logos, i.e. Jesus pre-incarnate, to the events described in the gospels leading to the physical death of him, and the physical regeneration of him, and glorification of him. Is that good? Also, Jesus actually died. That’s a fact, so I don’t know why you say he didn’t actually die. Of course, if you don’t believe in an afterlife, die means to cease to exist. So perhaps you’re treating your axiom as a priori knowledge?
Then explain how an omnipotent…
I am under the impression that this paragraph is rhetorical cynicism, but to give you the benefit of the doubt, I’ll answer. The difficulty of some manefestation of God’s power vs. his (in your mind, trivial) loss of his Son, is actually not the real issue, although some may think it is. The real issue is that if one believes that God cares about humanity, or even the universe that he created, why does he let any bad thing happen, let alone the most heinous act in history? In all actuality, the very things we often call bad, not just hurricanes and such, but issues of war, murder, rape, in a word, evil, these are from God himself, ultimately. He at the very least allows these things to happen through our wills (if one believes in free will, which still can do nothing except as he allows) so as you say later, he must be responsible. Have I fleshed out the issue well enough? So, having revealed the actual issue of this and the next four paragraphs, I answer. God can do all of those things. He chooses not to. God didn’t have to create Jesus and have him die on a cross. He chose to. He chose not to love or favour Esau, he chose to love and favour Jacob. He has compassion on whom he has compassion. His values, his will, his world. You don’t believe in God, you don’t believe in free will, but for some reason it seems you despise God having free will, and that he chose to do it this way. And I’m not sure which one you hate more.
There was nothing…Just God… It is not a moral act…
What is moral when there is just God? Morality (certainly as you define it) is a human construction that seeks to find its way in the world by various standards of success. God is simply not beholden to your morality. Your first numbered point always reminds me of women marching for abortion - ever in cognitive dissonance, not recognizing that if they had been aborted they wouldn’t have existed. Indeed, if you believe existence is this blip in time and nothing more, then you have a strong case to say that in cases where the suffering in life exceeds the pleasure (something like this) it would be better to have not existed. I have issue with this idea, but moving on. And your second point reminds me of why there is a higher correlation of atheists with liberals - both clearly think they could do better than reality, and both are clearly wrong. This is the world as it is.
The free will argument…
I’ll take it a step further and say not only did he assemble them atom by atom, but he actively instantiates the order of events according to the system which he defined, at times acting outside the system, and holds the very nature of existence together as it occurs. Also, He has said if you commit adultery, murder, bear false witness against your neighbor, et al, you are an evil person. He said if you accept his Son Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf and submit to his lordship you will be saved from your evil. He does know every variable and option. And it leaves one feeling like they are just a boat afloat in the ocean of existence, rudderless. Of course, you already see life like that. But Christians also believe that not only all this, but God actively enables us to believe in Jesus, so while we are afloat, we aren’t rudderless, even if our hand isn’t on the rudder.
Anyway, that’s the setup … He knew he’d live forever.
My only point to make here is that when you say he should be able to make more ‘only sons’ the fact is he had only one begotten son. Whether or not he ‘could’ have made another son is immaterial, and simply repeats your disdain for God’s will. Also, I don’t know that Jesus was scared when they came for him, in fact it would seem the opposite, according to the gospels.
Jesus is to be revered…
Let me go back a few responses to where I stated that God put into motion the most heinous act in history, namely the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. First, again, discount your narrow view of sacrifice, it is invalid. Now, let me explain why all your examples in the previous paragraph, while admirable in many cases, are not in the same category. And since this is about our response to Jesus, our world view matters. Jesus isn’t to be revered for all time for performing a task that any good person would do, because there isn’t any good person. There is only one who is good, that is God. To paraphrase Matilda, He’s right, we’re wrong, he’s big, we’re small, get used to it. Jesus is to be revered because he was the only good man, and he died in our place.