Couldn’t He just say it’s all good? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
One objection that seems to be pretty common is asking why can’t God just forgive? It seems to work in Judaism and Islam. Right? Islam actually has never had to have a system of sacrifices in place. Jews today without a temple have other means of forgiveness open to them they say.
Christians have never needed animal sacrifices, but it seems we have gone a step further. Apparently, we need the Son of God to come and offer Himself as a sacrifice for us. Doesn’t that seem bloody and grotesque? Why would God have to have something like that?
Something to point out is that there are plenty of atonement theories. Sometimes when people ask me how it works, I try to focus also on the more important issues. Let’s say Jesus really did die on the cross and that He did rise from the dead and thus demonstrate His claims about who He was were true. We have that, but we’re not sure just how we are forgiven based on that.
Would that lead anyone to believe Christianity was false?
However, this is a question I have thought about and yes, I do have a response to it. To start off, everything is going to be going on the assumption that the basic Christian account is true. If you do not believe that, then accept it for the time being because this is a hypothetical scenario. It’s testing to see if Christianity is internally coherent and not if it lines up to the external world. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, this is just trivia. If He did, then this definitely matters.
If Christianity is true, then God is the greatest good in the universe. Nothing can top Him. Nothing can go beyond Him. God will also be consistent and treat Himself as the greatest good. If He does not, then He is denying His own nature.
So now we have people who sin. One problem could be we treat sin as such a nonchalant word. Imagine a doctor coming to you and telling you you’re sick. That’s not good, but you’re not going to be panicking. Now imagine the same doctor telling you you have cancer. Are you sick if you have cancer? Yes. The two are quite different. A fender bender is a car accident, but so is a total collision. The two are quite different.
So what is sin? It’s not a slip-up or an accident or a mistake. Locking yourself out of your house is a mistake. Breaking into your neighbor’s house is an evil. Sin is really an act of divine treason. It is an implicit statement that you oppose God and all He is and stands for and desire to sit on His throne. It is the same even for those of us who are forgiven Christians. Somewhere, we all still doubt God and think we can do better.
So if God just forgives us, then what does that say? It says that He values our good above His own good, which is also goodness itself. There is something greater than the good. The creation is more important than the creator. In a sense, God becomes an idolator.
Now can He just let us go and not provide any means of forgiveness to us? He can, and He would be just in doing so. God owes us all nothing. Whatever you think of Hell, be it real or be it annihilation, God does not have to save any of us from it. He is under no obligation to free anyone from sin and under no obligation to forgive.
But suppose He wants to anyway. God is just. Sin must be punished, but there is no way that we can pay that price, that price of death. After all, money and good works could never overcome what has been done and if they could, it would require an infinite amount, which we can never pay.
Who can pay an infinite amount? An infinite being could. That would mean Jesus. His sacrifice pays the need for justice and for mercy and still shows the love God has in being willing to go through this for our sakes. God is still the greatest good out there and humanity is shown goodness and love.
That’s my understanding of it at least. Hypothetically, even if this cannot be proven, I at least see it as coherent and thus the question is answered. Even if it wasn’t, that doesn’t show Christianity is false. It just shows we lacked understanding in something, which should shock no one.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)