Previously posted on alldeaf.com, and the subsequent posts have been modified accordingly…
Here’s a dilemma I’ve been thinking lately, and not only does it prove the incoherence of Christianity, it also demonstrates the internal contradiction within apologetics. It has to do with God’s pure and holy state that cannot abide the presence of a sinner. He is incapable of forgiving sinners without a meditator, and that is the sacrifice of JC himself, jayzum kerow, alias Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sacrifice was necessary, for otherwise, even one little widdle sin would result the utter annihilation of the sinner in the presence of the Almighty. But here’s the crux of the problem, and consequently the incoherence as well as the illogic of Christianity.
If God’s presence results in the destruction of the sinner, because of His inability to abide any sin whatsoever, then it makes no difference whether the sinner accepted Christ or not.
The Church teaches us, traditionally, that we have salvation because jesus was crucified on the cross, and his death satisfies God the judge. However, even if Christ’s death fulfilled God’s justice, there isn’t a requirement of personal belief or acceptance of Jesus Christ.
God the judge demanded a price for sin, and the death of Jesus Christ paid for it. The Christian would insist that this price includes our true repentance as well, but if it is up to us to truly repent, then we are the ones who determine our salvation, not God. God cannot force us to submit to salvation, else he overrules and overrides human free will. That is one prong of the dilemma, and there’s another.
Even if the believer “accepts Jesus Christ” in his heart, why doesn’t the presence of God obliterate the sinner? It seems like the only remedy is the sinless nature of Jesus Christ (or the Holy Spirit) “indwells” with the believer and acts as a shield. Yet, this solution is fraught with problems: why doesn’t this affect free will? If Christ’s pure nature is in a person, then the person’s free will is overshadowed and rendered mute. As long Christ is in a person, the person cannot sin because s/he no longer has any sinful nature or even the ability to sin. But this is impossible, for there is no christian who won’t slip up and sin on occasion.
Now, if God cannot abide sin, and Christ is the only way a person can be in God’s presence, how can the Christian sin at all? Furthermore, if the christian does sin, and then dies, what happens to him/her when brought before God?
The concept of God in Christianity is a judge, and must include some sort of sacrifice, but acknowledgment (repentance) is unnecessary.
If God’s nature destroys sin, then Jesus Christ cannot be the bridge between God and the sinner unless his nature indwells fully with the believer. But there is no perfect, sinless Christian.
Incidentally, if God’s presence blots out sin, then the idea of hell becomes absurdly immoral, for God would have to deliberately maintain the sinner alive in order to torment and punish him eternally. In addition, since there is no hope for rehabilitation in hell, the divine punishment is excessively cruel. Neither God nor the sinner benefits, for the sinner cannot repent, and God is no longer infinitely merciful.
Bottom line: if God’s presence erases sin, and the sinner cannot survive in such divine presence unless Jesus Christ’s sinless nature dwells in him, but this “indwelling” will obstruct free will, for the believer will not be able to sin, and this is obviously false.
Traditional Christianity holds that sin is the separation of humans from God, and biblical scripture stipulates that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The only reconciliation is the incarnation, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are several models of atonement proposed by Christian theology.
One of them, penal substitution, contends that humans incur a moral debt by sinning, and this debt requires payment. The payment is the separation and the death of the sinner, because the moral debt is enormous, nearly infinite. God chose to send his incarnate Son, free of the blemish of original sin, in order to die and pay for the debt. Only an infinitely perfect being can erase this debt.
If the price of sin has been paid, then our acceptance or refusal is irrelevant, and immaterial. Justice does not depend on anything other than the payment in itself. If someone pays for my parking ticket, then the judge couldn’t care less whether I accept this action or not. The standard of justice has already been met by the blood debt. If Jesus paid off the price of sin, demanded by God, then what else is needed? If you think acceptance and repentance is required, then you are insisting that there are elements every sinner has control, which makes the idea of a sinless sacrifice rather superfluous and redundant. Why or why not?
Earlier, I wrote: …if it is up to us to truly repent, then we are the ones who determine our salvation, not God. That is what the Christian is saying because s/he doen’t think jesus’s death paid for our sins, and that we also have to repent and accept, two additional conditions for salvation.
If a sinner cannot stand before God, because of his divine nature that obliterates sin (penalty of sin is death), then what kind of protection does Jesus Christ have against the corrosive nature of God? The only solution I see is if christ’s perfect and sinless nature is transferred into the believer. This is never the case because all Christians are still sinners, and even the most famous ones lead sinful lives.
If the only way a sinner can be spared before God’s nature is to have Christ’s perfect nature replace his own, then Christ’s nature, which is essentially acceptable to God in every way, overrides the free will of the believer. How can this be? If this was the case, then no Christian could sin, even if he or she wanted to, and the desire, and including the ability, to sin, is the epitome of genuine moral free will – given the story of the Garden of Eden. This brings up a fresh can of worms – could Christ sin if he wanted to? If so, then he wasn’t perfect. If not, then he had no free will. Christ did not have any free will because his will was God’s will, and God, given his perfection, cannot sin. Therefore, to gain Christ’s sinless nature, because that is the only thing to protect the believer from God’s holiness, is to no longer have free will to choose sin either.
A person cannot accept Christ after death, and that means when the Christian is brought before God, the sinful nature no longer exist, because the whole point is to survive God’s nature after death, and the acceptance of Christ is the only thing that can ensure this.
If Christian doctrine is correct, that the Christian is purified after death (purgatory or sanctification). But this means the sinful nature is destroyed. Now, the Christian does not believe he will be destroyed at death because Christ has paid for his sin. But the contradiction isn’t about payment, for it is about God’s perfect nature, which annihilates sin, no matter what. The sins of the Christian may be forgivien in a moral sense, but its experiential nature remains.
If Christ makes the Christian capable of standing in God’s presence after death, then this means He makes the Christian sinless. But what has changed from before death to after death? Why cannot Christ save the Christian from the experiential consequences of his sinful nature now? Because the price of sin is death. Well, if Christ is incapable of sparing the Christian from the experiential consequences of his sinful nature, how will that be the case after death, when the Christian is in god’s presence? The instant the sinner comes into contact with God – he’s history.
Christian doctrine insists that Christ is required as a payment for sin before the holy and just God, and at the same time, also insists that i must accept this payment in order for it to be effective in preventing my damnation. However, these concepts are incompatible, for if salvation is freely acquired by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Christ, then there is nothing, absolutely nothing i can do to positively or negatively affect that grace. If i can, then my response is elevated above God’s sovereignty. Therefore, my acceptance of Christ is irrelevant, if the payment has already been made. However, if my repentance and acceptance is required, then this payment is dependent on my actions, and contradicts the idea that there is nothing i can do to personally satisfy God’s justice. This conclusion is inescapable.
Free will is totally irrelevant – even though i can reject the payment, but my rejection cannot affect the payment itself, which has already been made and accepted by God on the behalf of all sinners. Even though i have the free will to jump off the cliff, the law of gravity will still be in effect. If God’s perfect nature demanded an absolute payment, then that payment is irrevocable under any circumstance whatsoever.
You insist that God is concerned with our response, rather than the payment itself. However, my free will does not have anything to do with the absolute payment, any more than the jumping off a cliff eliminates free will. If you think God is concerned with our response, our personal actions – repentance and acceptance – then Christ is just a symbol with no atoning power.