OK, this is just stupid. A lawyer is trying to get the conviction of Jesus overturned. The state involved no longer exists, the man has no living kin or friends to carry the case forward, and it’s not even certain the individual actually existed…not to mention that the case is 2000 years old and is only one of many thousands of similar executions carried out by Rome. Dumb, a total waste of time, something to laugh at briefly and then dismiss.
But the article goes on and on, at overtly theological length. I had just clicked through when someone sent me the link, and as I was reading this, I was wondering…what is the source here? Is this one of those wacky religious newspapers or something? No serious secular source would give a good god damn for this nonsense.
So I looked. This was from Time magazine.
As oddball as the case may be, Indidis’ effort does raise a larger theological question that Christians have long debated: Why did Jesus have to die? Theologians have argued that his death was required for salvation to actually happen and that it was important for Jesus, who claimed to be the Messiah, the God-man, to experience human suffering and death.
TIME devoted a cover story to that question in 2004, when Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ premiered. Theories of atonement, the theological term for the meaning of Jesus’ death, have varied throughout Christian history, and the story is a deep dive into how the doctrine of atonement changed over time:
What was the cosmic reason for his agony? What is its purpose, its divine calculus? How precisely does his death, usually referred to in this context as the atonement, lead to the salvation of humanity?
The atonement “is the centerpiece of Christianity, and it’s what distinguishes it from all other religions,” says Giles Gasper, a religious historian who has written a book about one of the topic’s great medieval interpreters. Without at least an intuitive comprehension of atonement, a believer stands little chance of making sense of the faith’s promises of redemption and eternal life.
It is a question believers will continue to ponder. But as the Apostle Paul explained, in the New Testament’s Book of Romans, the atonement comes with rewards: “If we have been united with [Christ] in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
How does the execution of some guy lead to our salvation, and what cosmic purpose did his agony have? It doesn’t, and none. Case closed. Bye.
I knew there was a reason I haven’t read Time in years.