then why are we still born into sin?
To feel guilty…
So he died in vain?
Who says we’re born into sin?
Who says that Jesus died for our sins?
Who says that any version of Christianity is correct?
Who says that god exists?
That’s just for a start.
If your conclusion follows logically from your premise but the conclusion doesn’t correspond with reality, you need to assume that your premise is wrong and start over.
If I may say so, that’s a pretty smartass, pointless answer. He’s asking how Christians believe about a particular subject, not whether their beliefs are true or not.
Christians believe that Jesus took upon himself the judgment/damnation from God for which all humans are liable. He did not reverse the original sin (committed by Adam and Eve) that caused every human afterwards to be damned. God gave humans free will so that they could acknowledge their sinful nature and willingly choose to follow him. At the same time, they’re meant to ask God to forgive their sins, and allow Jesus’ sacrifice to save their individual soul. So, it’s there, but you still have to ask for it.
Why not automatically make all humans perfect? Well, if you’re God, and you want to make something that loves you, there would be a big difference between creating a loyal robot and creating a free-thinking human who has the opportunity to NOT love you.
That’s a partial answer, anyway. And note that this is a literal description of classical Christian thinking, shared by most conservative Christians. Very many Christians today view Jesus’ role as more of a symbolic one, so questions like whether Jews/Muslims/atheists are damned are more up in the air. Heck, I’d say even conservative Christians would have a hard time claiming that infants who die are damned. Catholics have the concept of purgatory to address that sticky theological point.
As is the case with most religious questions appearing in GQ, I am assuming that diggleblop is asking about documented beliefs and dogma of mainstream Christianity rather than opening a Great Debate about it. However, I would agree that your first two questions are valid ones for diggleblop.
I think that would be limbo.
It depends - there are two main thoughts on this. One is the “armenian” position, which posits that we all have free will, and that Jesus’s death was a reconciliation act. When we choose to reconcile with God, then we have accepted the “gift” of salvation, and received the covering that the sacrifice provided.
The other is the “calvinist” position, which says that God knew before time who would receive the gift of salvation, and therefore Christ died only for those who He knew would choose him.
Totally irrelevant to the OP, but that doesn’t make sense. When he gave them free will (at their creation), they were presumably still holy, and had no sinful nature.
To my understanding, most christians mean, when they say “Jesus died for our sins,” that “Jesus suffered the punishment for our sins.”
When they say “we are born into sin,” they mean, “We have, from birth, an inescapable tendency to sin.”
I don’t see what incompatibility there is supposed to be between these two statements.
Maybe you can clarify what that incompatibility is supposed to be, or alternatively, give a different take on what the two statements you listed mean.
I suspect you mean the Arminian position. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminianism
I always find it amusing when this particular school of theological thought is attributed to Armenians!
Oops - yes, not the Armenians. Thanks for that catch.
Nice, now how about stating something that doesn’t go in circles?
The OP is really more of a debate than a General Question. So off we go.
If our sin is in our “nature”, it’s not our fault. It’s logically inconsistent for a just and benovelent God to want to punish people for a “nature” which he gave them himself and over which they had no choice or control.
There wasn’t any Adam and Eve but even if that myth were true it’s logically and morally senseless to blame their descendants for their sin (which incidentally occurred before they knew right from wrong so could not have logically been a sin in the first place).
There is no logical reason for God to require punishment in order for him to save us from his own wrath. If he wanted to forgive us, all he had to do is decide to forgive us. What does he need with a sacrifice?
The idea that another person can relieve you of your own moral culpability by taking your punishment is logically and morally bankrupt.
I’ve barely scratched the surface. Traditional Christian salvation theology never has and never will make sense to me. It’s rooted in primitive notions that gods could be placated or bribed with animal sacrifices. In ancient Judaism this led to the practicing of sacrificing an unblemished lamb at Passover. This would forgive their sins for the year. Christianity then conceived Jesus as the ultimate agnus dei, the perfect Paschal lamb who could forgive all sins once and for all. It makes sense only if you believe that blood sacrifices are a rational demand to receive forgiveness of sins, if you believe a human sacrifice in particular is a reasonable demand from a benevolent God, and if you believe without evidence that this event (God incarnates as a human and commits suicide in order to save his own creation from his own unjustified wrath) actually occurred.
Actually, my take on this is a bit different from those expressed so far. We human beings are mortal, fallible creatures. We all screw up or do things we regret, even Atheists. To adjust human nature so we didn’t screw up and make mistakes would require some major rewiring of the human psyche and, I suspect, remove our capacity for free will. Part of the Episcopalian confession of sins goes, “We have not loved You [God] with our whole hearts. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.” If Jesus’ atonement for our sins rendered us incapable of loving God with anything less than our whole hearts, we’d lose that bit of free will which enables us to choose whether we’re Episcopalian, Atheist, or still trying to figure the whole thing out. We’d be little better than robots, compelled to worship God regardless of what we would do left to our own devices. That may be all right for angels, but I’m no angel and it strikes me as a bit boring and unpleasant, although it might be all right on the surface.
My take on what Jesus’ atonement means is a bit unorthodox. You see, we Christians seem to have spent a great deal of time throughout history speculating on who does or does not get into heaven and what we have to do to atone this. Whether it’s the pre-determinist notion that God has already decided that X number of people whose names are on this list or the idea that anyone who’s born again or baptized into this, that, or the other church, we’re always trying to figure out who’s in and who’s out. To me, the Bible’s message that Christ’s death has redeemed us all and our sins are forgiven means I shouldn’t worry about whether I’ll get into heaven or speculate on the fate of the coworker who ticked me off today. By Christ’s death and resurrection, my sins are forgiven, so I should quit worrying about them and get on with living the best life I can and serving Him as best I can. In a way, it’s like being taken on a vacation by a rich friend. Rather than worrying about what it will cost and who’ll pay the bill, I’m to enjoy myself and him and make the most of it while it lasts. Yes, there will be a bill to pay, but it’s covered. It’s been covered for nearly 2,000 years, so rather than fussing about who’s going to pay and what my share will be, I should get on with what I’m to be doing and trust God, even if it’s only spouting nonsense on a message board.
Cynical answer : To excuse the need for a priesthood and church. A Catholic expressed that opinion to me, so it is a Christian’s answer.
Nicely said, Siege.
At some point in here I should mention that I’m not Christian, but just familiar with Christian point of view. I don’t see why this has to be a Great Debate, as far as I can tell the OP just wanted to clarify what Christians believed.
To Diogenes’ points:
(1) Our nature is to have free will. That was God’s choice. By definition, this included a capability for us to turn away from God.
(2) Damnation is, by definition, the total absence of God, i.e. the soul’s final separation from God. God is not punishing us in the sense most people assume. The “torment” we always picture is an expression of the state of despair a soul finds itself in without God, which is analogous to eternal torture. In short, God’s wrath is not really an angry, hurling-lightning-bolts kind of thing. (Some nuts have a more vindictive view of God but that’s a more mainstream take on it.)
(3) Finally, Jesus is not a literal sacrifice, like a lamb. He’s often represented symbolically as a sacrificial lamb, but what actually transpired is much more esoteric. (Another example of superhuman events being expressed in terms that mere humans can understand.) The best description I’ve heard is that Jesus literally takes the fall for humans, that each person’s imperfect soul - which is currently inadequate to reach God’s standard - is substituted at the moment of judgment for Jesus’ divine soul, which is adequate.
Again, those are my layman’s explanations; someone who’s been through seminary would be able to answer better.
Don’t sell Christian theology short. I don’t agree with it, but I respect it; its minute points have been debated, analyzed, and expounded on for two thousand years by some very intelligent men and women. Jaroslav Pelikan wrote a great five-book history of Christian theology, if you’re ever up for some not-light reading.