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christianity: cult of human sacrifice?

Christianity has never lacked for critics and cynics. During the past decade its critics have returned to an argument almost as old as Christianity itself. Dr. Sam Harris, a cognitive scientist, argues that Christianity is a cult of human sacrifice, a companion criticism to that made by the late Christopher Hitchens. How can educated, intelligent people make such preposterous claims? I’m afraid their criticisms arise from what they hear Christians say.
Consider one variety of popular Christian theology—it goes something like this. Human sin has made God very angry. So angry in fact that His righteous wrath judged humans worthy of hell. Fortunately for us, God’s own Son stood in for humanity and, by dying on the cross, Jesus took the punishment we deserve. Because of Jesus’ death, divine anger has been appeased. Believers in Jesus are saved from God’s wrath and headed for heaven.

Sound familiar? Well, you won’t find that formula in the Bible.

The Bible does not describe God as an angry cosmic despot who must be placated by human blood. He is not the perpetrator of cosmic child abuse, as critics claim. The Bible portrays God as a loving, generous provider. Jesus taught God should be addressed as heavenly Father. The apostle Paul encouraged Christians to speak to Him as daddy!

Jesus did indeed die on the cross for 
the sin of the world. That includes your sin and mine. But the Bible claims Jesus’ crucifixion expressed God’s deep, deep love for humanity, not His wrath. The cross achieved something big, something we urgently needed, something that could not be achieved any other way. Earliest Christ-followers identified Jesus’ crucifixion with God’s deep, rich love. While the Roman world viewed crucifixion as terror and humiliation, Jesus’ followers quickly identified His cross with revolution.

In the Bible the goal of Christianity is not just getting people into heaven. 

God plans to bring His heaven to this earth. The cross began that process. 
NT Wright claims Good Friday was the day the revolution began. Jesus’ resurrection proved human reality was changed the previous Friday by God’s deep, self-sacrificing love. Death has been defeated because sin has been solved by the only One who could do anything about it.

Sin makes people lesser humans; damaged and degraded. We are not the creatures God designed. Instead of fulfilling our divine vocation to be stewards of creation, we’ve made ourselves dependents upon creation. We’ve exchanged faith in and relationship with God for our own efforts. Our problem is not misbehavior that deserves divine punishment. Our problem is that we’ve enslaved ourselves to the material world. 

Jesus called those preoccupied with things “pagans” because they worship the creation rather than the Creator. Misdirected worship deforms what you were created to be, and so damages humanity. That is the sin of the world. And that’s what Jesus’ cross solved. ~

Dan Nygaard