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February 06, 2007



How interesting. This reminds me of the Gandhi movie, in which Gandhi tells a guilt-stricken Hindu that he can recieve forgiveness for having killed a Muslim child if he will adopt a Muslim orphan and raise him as a Muslim. I remember thinking that this was a very wise response. God's forgiveness is probably not conditional on such acts, but I think our sense of being forgiven often is.


Theology is a funny endeavor. I find it hard to take the idea of atonement seriously from the killing of animals in the Jewish scriptures to the post-Easter doctrine of atonement.

Reading the gospels closely, it's difficult to imagine the idea ever occurred to Jesus. When I read the story of the prodigal son, I don't see any inkling that the father refused to forgive the prodigal until an animal or human was killed for the sins of the son. Similarly, it seems like a plausible reading of the 'purging of the temple' story that this might have been Jesus' asserting that the whole sacrificial system was invalid.

I'm not saying that the idea of atonement (as in atoning for the harms we do to others) is not valuable. It's just that the thought that we aren't forgiven or can't feel forgiven until we see the state-sponsored murder of Jesus as somehow a good or necessary thing that seems odd to me.


James Alison wrote about this several years ago.


About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You

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