OK – here’s another. Same site (I would have represented some very interesting email correspondence instead but I don’t yet have the co-corerespondent’s blessing…), and the challenge here is ‘defend the indefensible’ in terms of the prevailing societal view. My atheist mate posted a very strong accusation of a God who demands ‘human sacrifice’, citing many bloodthirsty OT passages such as that of Jephthah’s daughter or Saul’s descendants. His assumption was that Christians should be, at best, embarassed. Another atheist, in commenting, presumed that Christians would claim that it was irerelevant nowadays as it was the Old Testament. I felt I had to express our view, in the full knowledge it would get heavily criticised. A good idea? (Let me know as I’m most unsure!)

PS the reference to the Spanish touches on Cortes and the Spanish colonisation of Mayan/Incan peoples. It is cited in the original post as an example of ‘Christian’ hypocrisy as those killed by the invaders were apparently condemned largely for their practise of human sacrifice…

“Just felt I should show up here briefly because it would smack of ducking the tough ones otherwise. I could go into technicalities, placing each example in context (eg Jephthah’s rash vow was entirely unnecessary and uttered during the rule of the Judges – a time in which Israel was going its own way and doing a lot of stupid things. God is notably silent throughout the episode). However, it would merely be to skirt around the fact that yes, God does sanction killing in the Old Testament and yes, he does see death as ‘the wages of sin’.

It’s a toughie to us pampered and liberal 21st Century types (although significantly less of a toughie for most who have preceded us). However, it is helpful I think to note a few underlying principles.

Death is absolutely and consistently portrayed throughout the Bible as a just and appropriate fate for sinful rebellion against a holy God. It is the entitled destruction of created beings by the one who created us – having seen his handiwork rebel against him and his purposes, trying instead to put themselves in his place. The New Testament hasn’t seen God change personality or us get any better – its just, as you correctly note, that Jesus has paid the price as the entirely sufficient sacrifice by virtue of his blameless life. Thus, no more blood for now. God didn’t have to act painfully in order to spare us a deserved punishment. Therefore we can rightfully see him as God of Love, as well as of Justice and Righteousness. It is worth noting however that those who reject Christ’s act will still have to stand on their own merits – a somewhat alarming prospect…

You are also right to see Jesus as the fulfilment of OT sacrifice – and of substitutionary sacrifice. The lamb that took Isaac’s place on the altar, the Jews’ place at Passover, and the Israelites place on the Day of atonement in the temple is fulfilled by the long-prophesied ‘Lamb of God’, Jesus.

And, as post-Christ New Covenant ‘Christians’, the Spanish were, of course, bang out of order…

Right, I entirely anticipate being ripped to shreds here but try to resist making it personal. I’m not hitting you around the head with this stuff – I just read “let’s see what some likely Christian responses would be”, so I thought I’d better give one. And, as a sign off, I would note that I don’t think this much touches upon the issue of God’s existence. It is, after all, a puerile argument that God can’t exist if you find some of his methods unpalatable…”


4 comments so far

  1. Tom Stanbury on

    Would it be worth engaging the chap with the idea of love and his love for us?
    Kellers points on Sat about all love being subsitutionary are really helpful for the way lots of people think today.

  2. andybeingachristian on

    Funny you should say that – the idea of love and substitution is exactly where the ongoing debate has taken us. It’s worth tracking, but I don’t want to link to the URL as it opens the door here for the atheist site admin. And, as I’ve said many a time, this isn’t a place designed for apologetics (eg arguing with atheists)… I will email you it instead! (That offer is open to all!)

  3. Phil C on

    Andy, you have written comments on that blog with the usernam anybeingachristian – one Google search of that name and they’re here. Worth a move perhaps?

  4. andybeingachristian on

    Yeah I never meant for that to happen – wordpress seemed to make that decision (to put my comment under this name) of its own accord and caught me unawares – now it looks weird if I change back… Worth a move?? I don’t think so. With the possible exception of my good atheist friend (who I trust enough to believe he’ll respect my intentions here) I don’t imagine I’m either interesting or offensive enough for many to deem me worth looking up and hounding!

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