Sunday, 26 May 2013

God so loved the world . . .

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (NIV)

Anyone who has grown up in a christian tradition can't help recognising those few words.  Our reaction to the words is a bit less predictable.  For me they used to have the comforting feeling of familiarity.  After that I started to wonder what they really meant.  Nowadays I find them quite risible - even pathetic.

Let's set aside the problem of the lack of evidence for an historical Jesus outside the (hardly un-biased) bible itself.  Don't even consider whether God exists, or which particular version of the Christian God he might be.  It doesn't matter.

What matters is the claim itself.  Omniscient God had made a mistake at the very beginning of the Old Testament, and through some totally inexplicable mechanism had contaminated humanity with something mysterious called 'Original Sin'.  Omnipotent God (the same person - although there are three of them in the one person of course) couldn't think of any way to fix this mistake other than to send his son (one of the three parts of himself) to Earth to be tortured and killed in some kind of scapegoat ritual.  He loved the world so much that he gave up his own son (one third of himself) for this reason.

But he didn't, did he?

If you think about it for a few moments, the very most charitable version of the story is that he lent his son (or part of himself) to the world for a few decades, then let him be killed for reasons that hardly make any sense and let him remain dead for a few days.  During that time he might have visited hell, but it is hardly likely that the devil was totally in control of that little interlude.  Then he resurrected him(self) and in due course whisked him(self) safely back up to heaven.

Being omniscient he knew all along that things were going to pan out this way.

So how much did God really love the world? 

Not as much as you would think!

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