The Christian god and forgiveness
I recently caught the above video online and, well, I don't think it's that great of a video. Not because I don't agree with the message (quite the contrary), but because it's just not a very creative video and it's peppered with f-bombs for some reason. I'd hope that people who make such videos generally expect that some inquisitive believers will watch them, and I don't think that God saying "fuck!" early on is exactly a persuasive rhetorical device.
Anyway, aside from it not being the best video, the central message is interesting to me because it's one of the many conundrums that drove me away from Christianity. In the description of the video, the creator ("DarkMatter2525") states,
"I can do something that the mythological Abrahamic God can't: I can forgive someone without giving them an ultimatum."When I was a Christian, the book of Hebrews did more to drive me away from the faith than just about anything else. Hebrews more or less explains how the sacrifice of Jesus is connected to Old-Testament Judaism, but it left me with one major question:
God is supposedly omnipotent. Why couldn't he just forgive? Why this elaborate system of faith-based covenants and ritual sacrifices? What does killing an animal (or a person) have to do with forgiveness? Now, the de facto response I've had from Christians over the years is that it's a matter of justice. Some price has to be paid for our sins. Why? Well, because God says so, that's why. But I'd argue that we bear the price for selfish behavior in this life. We may gain material wealth or power through selfish behavior, but we'll never know the happiness of loving and being loved while viewing others as our equals – we'll be alone and looked up with scorn and contempt through the eyes of others.
But still, let's entertain this idea that some people can just "get away with it" in this life, so presumably there needs to be retribution in the next. Why? What's the value of such "justice"? Let's say, for example, that Hitler pays for his evils by burning horribly forever. What does that accomplish that his mere annihilation in death could not? Does knowing that he's burning in Hell relieve the pain of those who suffered because of him? Does it erase or change anything that happened? Of course not. It's not "justice" at all – the entire concept of Hell is little more than petty revenge.
Then you have the nonsensical nature of the Christ covenant in itself. Jesus is supposedly sacrificing himself to God on our behalf, to pay the price for our sins so that – if we believe – we won't have to. But according to Christianity, Jesus is God. So, God is sacrificing himself to himself to pay a price he determined was sufficient to atone for our sins. Which, for some reason, involves ritual blood sacrifices. Couldn't it just as arbitrarily involve, say, burning large amounts of crops or submitting to a good old-fashioned face-punching?
So it may be a pretty lame video, but it does raise some interesting points that played an important role in my exodus from Christianity. Maybe next time he can make one without the f-bombs.
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