In a recent message, my brother Norman provocatively asked:
Does anyone know the difference between a Suni and a Shia? From what I can gather they are lined up against each other in all the mideast. Why can't the Muslims just get along with each other? Of course, if they did, they'd unite against the rest of the world, right?
- Jesus died on the cross as a human blood sacrifice to atone for man's sins, and that
- Accepting that notion on faith somehow washes away their sins and allows them to go to heaven and enjoy eternal relationship with God (be saved), whereas
- Not accepting that notion on faith will cause the unbeliever to burn in hell forever.
Many Christians espouse and push that atonement doctrine with all their hearts, stuffing it into every possible sensory orifice of every possible child and adult with all the vigor they can muster. If you argue against the notion, there will be hell to pay. And you never get your pesky questions answered, questions like these:
- Since God ordered his children not to murder others as a major tenet of the 10 commandments, why would he break that rule in ordering the sacrificial murder of Jesus?
- Why would the Father order a sacrifice of his only begotten son to pay for the sins of others when such an order violates principles of justice and fairness? Isn’t God always fair and just?
- If the Father loves his imperfect, sinning children on earth and wants to save them, wouldn’t he love his only begotten sinless son at least as much?
- Why would the Father order the death of a being nearly his equal? Since Jesus rose from the dead, doesn’t that put his sacrificial death in the category of a sham? If his death had a sacrificial nature, why didn’t he stay dead?
- Isn’t the murdering of a human being as a sacrifice an effort to bribe God so that he will show favor to his children even though they do not deserve it? Can we bribe God?
- Doesn’t the offer of a sacrifice to God as a bribe to keep him from punishing us sort of turn God into some kind of divine Mafia Chief?
- If God is “no respecter of persons” why would he accept any bribe or sacrifice at all for any reason?
- Didn’t Jesus show disdain for the concept of sacrifice by overturning the moneychangers’ tables, driving sacrificial beasts out of the temple, shunning sacrificial meat at his Passover feasts, and saying “love is greater than all the burnt offerings”?
- What need or want could God have for sacrifice if he already has everything he wants and needs?
- How can belief in sacrifice make man able to have relationship with God when at least 18 different bible scriptures clearly state that the Spirit of God indwells our minds? What could be closer than that? How can any other relationship possibly compare to our Father’s individuated presence in the human mind?
- Didn’t Jesus teach in Matthew 6:14 and 15 that if you forgive the sins of others, your Father will forgive yours, but if you don’t, he won’t? Doesn’t this mean your forgiving others earns your Father’s forgiveness, even if you don’t believe the death of Jesus had a sacrificial nature? Doesn’t it also mean that even if you believe the death of Jesus had a sacrificial nature, you will not have your Father’s forgiveness so long as you refuse to forgive others who have sinned against you?
- Didn’t Jesus teach in Luke 10:25-28 that if you love God and your fellow humans you live forever (you go to heaven after you die)? Doesn’t that stand true even if you don’t believe Jesus’ death had a sacrificial nature?
- Didn’t Jesus say he was sent to this world in order to teach the gospel of the
? Kingdomof God
- If so, how does the concept of his sacrificial death fit into that gospel when Jesus taught the gospel early in his ministry, but never mentioned his death till over 3 years into his public ministry, and even then he told the apostles to stay quiet about it?
- If the purpose of Jesus’ life on this world was to die a sacrificial death, why didn’t he teach about that atonement doctrine throughout his public ministry instead of NEVER mentioning it publicly, not even once?
- If the belief in the sacrificial death of Jesus was so important to man’s salvation, why didn’t Jesus say so on the morning of Pentecost when he gave his apostles his final orders before ascending into Heaven?
- Why did Jesus tell his apostles to go into all the world teach all he had commanded, and to spread his gospel to every creature, when neither his commands nor his gospel contained any words of reference to the atonement doctrine?
Muslim factions fight now somewhat like Christian factions fought 600 years ago. Give Islam another 600 years to catch up, and it will reform itself significantly, as did Christianity.
The Urantia Book, page 1585.
This same evening Thomas asked Jesus: "Master, you say that we must become as little children before we can gain entrance to the Father's kingdom, and yet you have warned us not to be deceived by false prophets nor to become guilty of casting our pearls before swine. Now, I am honestly puzzled. I cannot understand your teaching." Jesus replied to Thomas: "How long shall I bear with you! Ever you insist on making literal all that I teach. When I asked you to become as little children as the price of entering the kingdom, I referred not to ease of deception, mere willingness to believe, nor to quickness to trust pleasing strangers. What I did desire that you should gather from the illustration was the child-father relationship. You are the child, and it is your Father's kingdom you seek to enter. There is present that natural affection between every normal child and its father which insures an understanding and loving relationship, and which forever precludes all disposition to bargain for the Father's love and mercy. And the gospel you are going forth to preach has to do with a salvation growing out of the faith-realization of this very and eternal child-father relationship."
The one characteristic of Jesus' teaching was that the morality of his philosophy originated in the personal relation of the individual to God--this very child-father relationship. Jesus placed emphasis on the individual, not on the race or nation. While eating supper, Jesus had the talk with Matthew in which he explained that the morality of any act is determined by the individual's motive. Jesus' morality was always positive. The golden rule as restated by Jesus demands active social contact; the older negative rule could be obeyed in isolation. Jesus stripped morality of all rules and ceremonies and elevated it to majestic levels of spiritual thinking and truly righteous living.
This new religion of Jesus was not without its practical implications, but whatever of practical political, social, or economic value there is to be found in his teaching is the natural outworking of this inner experience of the soul as it manifests the fruits of the spirit in the spontaneous daily ministry of genuine personal religious experience.
After Jesus and Matthew had finished talking, Simon Zelotes asked, "But, Master, are all men the sons of God?" And Jesus answered: "Yes, Simon, all men are the sons of God, and that is the good news you are going to proclaim." But the apostles could not grasp such a doctrine; it was a new, strange, and startling announcement. And it was because of his desire to impress this truth upon them that Jesus taught his followers to treat all men as their brothers.
In response to a question asked by Andrew, the Master made it clear that the morality of his teaching was inseparable from the religion of his living. He taught morality, not from the nature of man, but from the relation of man to God.
John asked Jesus, "Master, what is the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus answered: "The kingdom of heaven consists in these three essentials: first, recognition of the fact of the sovereignty of God; second, belief in the truth of sonship with God; and third, faith in the effectiveness of the supreme human desire to do the will of God--to be like God. And this is the good news of the gospel: that by faith every mortal may have all these essentials of salvation."