Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Did God send himself to sacrifice himself to himself to save us from himself?

Secular Outpost retweeted
Linda Beatty
@LindaBeatty
Dec 8
Atheist: Because god sending himself to sacrifice himself to himself to save us from himself is a bit too much.

I wouldn't normally comment on a tweet by an atheist bimbo, but since this is an atheist trope, and since this was retweeted by the Secular Outpost, I'll discuss it. 

i) As is so often the case, this illustrates the chasm between the self-image of atheists and the reality. Atheists pride themselves on their superior rationality, yet so many of them operate at such pitifully deficient intellectual level. 

ii) To begin with, the formulation is unitarian. But according to the Christian doctrine of the atonement, the Father sent the Son. And the Son didn't sacrifice himself to himself. There are two individuals, two parties, not one. (Not to mention the role of the Holy Spirit in the plan of salvation.)

iii) But let's play along with the trope for a moment. Is there something innately absurd about the notion of a person sending himself? Take the case of someone who volunteers to go somewhere on an errant of mercy. In a sense, he sent himself by volunteering for the task, rather than sending someone else or leaving it up to someone else to go. 

iv) Is there something innately absurd about the notion of saving us from himself? Suppose a policeman discovers that his teenage son committed arson. The policeman has conflicting duties. On the one hand, he has a prima facie paternal duty to protect his son from harm. If his son is convicted of arson, that may ruin his life. 

On the other hand, he has a prima facie official duty to protect the community from arson. Indeed, even if he wasn't a policeman, he has a prima facie duty to protect his neighbors. What should he do?

Suppose he tells his son that if he ever repeats the crime, he will turn him in. Suppose he also makes an anonymous donation to recompense the arson victim. He makes that a loan to his son, which he requires his son to pay back, by working a job. If his son defaults on the loan, he will turn him in.

On the one hand, the father saves his delinquent son from himself (the father) by not arresting him. As a law enforcement officer, he has a prima facie duty to arrest an arsonist. In that capacity, he poses a threat to his delinquent son. Indeed, his son deserves to be arrested. But is there a way to give his son a second chance, while making restitution for the crime? 

There's nothing ridiculous about the possibility of competing duties. And there's nothing ridiculous about the same agent attempting to do justice to competing duties. 

Not that God has an obligation to save sinners, but if he chooses to exercise mercy, that must be consonant with divine justice. Forgiveness cannot be at the expense of justice, for that would compound the wrong. 

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