- Religion and Philosophy
The Price of Salvation
In several conversations I've had with Christian theists legitimate questions I have about the validity of the Bible have been side-stepped by bringing up Jesus's sacrifice. It seems that to some Christians no matter how evil their God is in the Old Testament bringing up the fact that his son died for us is supposed to make all that badness go away. This one act of love, according to Christians erases all sin, apparently that must include the sins of the vile Biblical God Yahweh as well.
It is often emphasized to me that this gift of Salvation is free. God freely gave his son, they say, offering Salvation to any. But these people are making a big mistake, Salvation may be a free gift but it is one that carries with it a heavy price. It was only free from God's end in that the pain Jesus endured on the cross was only the finite human pain we mortals suffer, to an all powerful deity it wouldn't even register. And three days spent dead? There are people who wake up from coma's far longer than that. So for an infinite God to suffer one day of torture and two days worth of death before coming back is nothing. But to believe it happened and to live your life by the commandments set up by Christ and the Bible is a very hefty price.
His Yoke is Easy?
While many Christians believe that faith alone is good enough to get into Heaven the Bible says that Faith without works is dead. So faith without action is dead. There are many actions in the Bible through which one can show obedience to God. Even if we cut out the gruesome or draconian laws of the Old Testament we're left with some pretty bizarre commandments from Christ. Does anyone really want to cut off their hand if it causes them to sin? And how exactly does one go about keeping their right hand from knowing what the left is doing? But these are likely metaphorical... right?
What about your loved ones? Spouse, kids, friends and relatives alike. You should be free to love them right? Well not according to Jesus...
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."
It certainly seems like Salvation carries with it a very hefty burden if it requires you to hate your family and take up the cross. Now of course the cross is likely metaphorical, figurative language representing the burden of salvation. Jesus briefly compares his disciples to cattle in another metaphor saying that his "yoke" is easy and his burden light. Compared to what exactly? How many other self proclaimed Messiah's require people to hate their families.
Jesus also never states that the old commandments are to be done away with. In Matthew 5 he explains that he came not to destroy the Law of the Prophets but to fulfill it and finishes this declaration by telling his disciples that anyone who follows the commandments will be great in the Kingdom. So maybe killing folks for adultery by beating their skulls in with stones isn't required for getting into Heaven but if Jesus is to be believed we will get better seats for it. Of course in one of the most stunning Biblical Contradictions ever Jesus later stops people from stoning a woman who committed adultery and even works on the Sabbath (another deed punishable by death).
In Second Corinthians the Apostle Paul even claims that people should "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."... This is in stark contrast to Jesus' claim that "who the son shall set free shall be free indeed" ... Yeah, free to do as Christ tells you apparently.
Faith is something that religious people and small children who believe in the Easter Bunny have in common. You may think the idea of a rabbit laying eggs and then hiding them is absurd but if you also believe that a man born of a virgin who was God and God's son at the same time died and rose again three days later than I really don't think you have a place to talk. Both ideas require the suspension of disbelief (not the sort you undergo while watching a movie mind you) in the absence of evidence known as faith.
Faith in Christ isn't easy. After all you're expected to believe something absurd, something supernatural and something for which there is no evidence OR ELSE you will burn (forever in most interpretations). The requirement of credulity in the absence of evidence under penalty of torment I find to be a most repugnant and immoral aspect of Christianity.
Even if you remove the threat of torment you are still left will the cost of your intellectual honesty by having to believe in something based solely on ignorance or the religious leanings of your parents. Faith is a requirement, a cost, of earning your "Salvation"...
What a merciful and loving God, to give us a means of not having to burn forever only though having to trick ourselves or our kids into believing unsubstantiated supernatural claims.
Imagine you've lived your whole life a good Christian and now you're dead. You get up to Heaven only to find that most of your loved ones and closest friends didn't make it in. Instead of going to Heaven for whatever reason, be it lot's of sinning or merely deciding there wasn't enough evidence and de-converting, they went to Hell. So now you have to spend eternity with a bunch of complete strangers while your friends are being char-broiled by God. And what's God doing? He's sitting on a throne in the center of the Heavenly city being worshiped ENDLESSLY while they burn.
And why? For what? What did your loved ones ever do? Did they drink a little bit too much? Did they curse a few too many times? Did one of them shop-lift a few items from a local store? What sin could possibly deserve eternal punishment and what sort of loving God deserving of worship would damn people at all?
Suddenly you see your mistake for what it was. You thought eternal life with God was a gift but now that you see him as the sickening tyrant he is you suddenly realize it wasn't worth it. You know have to bow down and worship the guy who's torturing the people you love. I'd rather be tortured than serve and obey one who tortures.
What are you really getting saved from?
I did a whole hub about this question but it kinda bears repeating, what exactly are you getting in return for accepting Salvation? Sure you get the CHANCE of getting into Heaven but as I explained in my hub it isn't as though accepting Jesus automatically gets you in, there's still temptation, back-sliding, logic and the complete absence of evidence standing between you and the pearly gates (not to mention however many years you have left to live).
Jesus doesn't save you from sin, Hell, death, Satan, doesn't improve your credit score, cures cancer and other diseases only at the same rate as chance and plans on damning most people to Hell for even the slightest act of defiance (or any type of pleasure he doesn't condone).
The only conclusion one can reach, even if Jesus really were the son of God and the Bible were true, is that the price of Salvation outweighs the benefits. Any Christian claiming that salvation somehow sets you free or that it itself is offered freely has forgotten to mention the chains it puts upon you and the uncomfortable moral and intellectual position it forces you into.