Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.
Why was Jesus crucified? Depends on whom you believe, doesn’t it? The Christian scholars of theology and religion who believe in the fall of Adam and Eve from God’s grace, who believe our progenitors were expelled from the garden for their sin, who thereby believe that all mankind is saddled with a sinful nature will explain that the violent, ignoble, bloody death of his “only begotten son” was a necessary payment to God to attain God’s forgiveness.
Really? I know I am questioning one of the foundational tenets of modern Christianity, but can we believe that? Prior to the 11th century Christians did acknowledge that payment (ransom) was due, but it was not due to God, rather it needed to be paid to the devil. Then Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) wrote a paper WHY DID GOD BECOME HUMAN. In this writing he asserted that yes “a price needed to be paid to restore God’s honor, and it needed to be paid to God the Father.” (1)
With the popularity of this one piece of literature during the 11th century, God was confirmed by the Church not only as a vengeful, condemning, agitator of fire and brimstone, but now a Father who had demanded his only begotten Son’s life. Instead of a loving and compassionate Father, the Christian world embraced a bloodied, broken body on a cross as the price due for communion with their God.
Think about it. The death of Jesus of Nazareth was a historical event. Jesus’ ministry is documented by a multitude of writings by his followers and at least one unbiased historian, Josephus. Jesus was an insurrectionist who dismayed the powers of the Roman Empire and he made himself a thorn in the side of the established Jewish hierarchy. Both wanted him gone.
It is up to each of us to decide what we will believe in our faith walks. But, what about forgiveness? What does forgiving or being forgiven mean to me, to you? When was the last time you handed your neighbor a $20 bill and then asked him to forgive you for mowing down his prized petunias? You may have repaid him for replacement of his flowers, but the money did not buy his forgiveness. Can forgiveness have a price if it’s an act extended and received by one man/woman to another freely from a mindset of love and compassion? Would a loving Father demand payment for his forgiveness through crucifixion of his only begotten Son?
We must be concerned that possibly what is accepted as inerrant theology has somehow strayed off course by way of human fallibility. I refuse to abandon my faith tradition because sometimes what I am told to believe doesn’t make sense to me. If I am led to read the scriptures of our Christianity as examples of sober-living and paths to spiritual recovery, then I must ask questions. I must question the scholars and theologians who have established inerrancy and certitude as hallmarks of their interpretations. My adventure into the mysteries of eternity and God cannot be a trek which ends with definitive answers; rather it has to be a discovery process which only poses more questions.