Christ Died For Your Sins? Don’t Be Silly!

Who was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification.

Saint Paul, Romans 4:25

Jamie Manson of the National Catholic Fishwrap Reporter doesn’t think much of the dogma of the Catholic Church that Christ died for our sins, viewing that as a silly pre-Vatican II guilt trip.  Unfortunately for her, two of the finest masters of the art of fisking decided to take notice of her scribblings.

First up, Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal who I have designated Defender of the Faith because of the number of times, he, a non-Catholic, has taken up the blogging cudgels in defense of the Faith:

Here’s another.  At the National Catholic Reporter, Jamie Manson doesn’t want to know what happened on Good Friday as much as she wants to know why it happened:

I’ve had more than one Catholic who grew up either before or on the cusp of Vatican II tell me horror stories of how they were taught that Jesus died because of their sins.

“Horror stories of how they were taught that Jesus died because of their sins.”  I think you already know where Ms. Manson is going with this.

This was a particularly heavy-handed way for priests and nuns to lay an even thicker coat of guilt on impressionable Catholic school children. Because they were sinners, Jesus had to suffer and die to redeem them. It was one rendering of the traditional theological interpretations of the crucifixion — that Jesus had to die to fulfill the Scriptures and that his death atoned for the sins of the world.

Get ready for the customary condescending pat on the head.

I know that countless people throughout the centuries have found profound, life-changing and even comforting meaning in this understanding of the Cross.

Since Ms. Manson has much more important fish to fry(see what I did there?), she’ll let the rest of you have your little legend.

But I’ve often felt that if we immerse ourselves in the accounts of Jesus’ arrest, passion, and death as told by the four Gospels, these texts can broaden and deepen our understanding of the crucifixion.

I don’t know how much deeper one needs to go than getting one’s sins taken care of so that one can go home to the Father.

It can help us make meaning of so much of the anguish that we witness in our world and in our church.

I stand corrected.  Jesus died the most horribly agonizing death that it is possible to imagine in order to “help us make meaning of so much of the anguish that we witness in our world and in our church.”  Got it.

Me, I’ve never ever been able to “make meaning” of diseases, wars, genocides, famines, earthquakes, tsunamis and other tragedies with their attendant human suffering.  I guess I’m not trying hard enough.

When I read the passion narratives of the Gospels, I don’t hear simply that Jesus suffered and died for our sins. Rather, I hear the four evangelists very clearly say that Jesus’ suffering and death was the will of those who conspired against him — those whose political systems he had undermined, those whose religious convictions he had offended.

Glad we’ve finally cleared that up.  Neither Romans nor Jews killed Christ.  It was the Republican Party and the religious Right.

Go here to read the brilliant rest.  Then we have Father Z, the Master of the Fisk as I like to call him.  He didn’t do a fisk in regard to Ms. Manson’s article, but he did imagine the Stations of the Cross as redesigned by Ms. Manson:

  • The 1st Station – Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura Condemns Jesus to Death.
  • The 2nd Station – The President of the Pontifical Council for the Authentic Interpretation of Legislative Texts Gives Jesus His Cross
  • The 3rd Station – The Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy Trips Jesus the First Time
  • The 4th Station – Jesus Meets the Congregation for Religious
  • The 5th Station – The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Helps Jesus Carry the Cross.
  • The 6th Station – The Sister President the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Wipes the Face of Jesus
  • The 7th Station – Jesus is Tripped for the Second Time by the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops
  • The 8th Station – Jesus Meets the Women’s Ordination Conference
  • The 9th Station -  Jesus is Tripped for the Third Time by the Secretary of State
  • Go here to read all about the rest of the new Stations.

    CS Lewis saw long ago the error into which Ms. Manson and the publication she writes for have fallen:

    Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that “only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations”. You see the little rift? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game,

    Screwtape Letters-Letter XXIII

    StumbleUponRedditPrintFriendlyShare

    14 Responses to Christ Died For Your Sins? Don’t Be Silly!

    • Joe Green says:

      I won’t stick my beak in this doctrinal debate, as Tony Soprano might say, but I find it curious, Don, that Catholics often quote C.S. Lewis, who wasn’t a Catholic. We don’t see Protestants quoting the Popes or Bishop Sheen.

      BTW, Don, is it possible that some of us non-believers will never get it. I reread the parable of the sower constantly and do not believe I am “good earth” in which the sown word can take root. Why are some of us so stubborn?

    • “quote C.S. Lewis, who wasn’t a Catholic.”

      I quote him because he was a brilliant thinker and writer and his Screwtape Letters show immense insight into the human condition. Not all straight thinking is confined to the Catholic Church. Lewis himself was rather eclectic in his use of sources and would sometimes cite Catholics.

      “Why are some of us so stubborn?”

      Free will Joe applied to the complex process by which we humans make decisions about anything. It took a miracle before Saint Paul stopped “kicking against the goad”.

    • “Outside the Church there is no salvation”

      “846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

      Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

      847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

      Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

      848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”

      In times past the formulation “No salvation outside the Church” was interpreted so as to emphasize the Justice of God. Today it is interpreted so as to emphasize the Mercy of God. My own humble observation is that it is probably an error to presume too much on either the Justice or Mercy of God.

    • Ike says:

      I had a teacher with a similar absence of soteriology. He asked me what I thought of Anselm, and for the rest of the semester, the college professor went after the seventeen year old, all the while preaching non-judgment. I have a suspicion that these guys harbor just a little resentment toward Catholics.

    • R.C. says:

      It’s true, of course, that C.S.Lewis wasn’t a Catholic.

      There’s some question, though, whether he was aware of this. Not, of course, that he believed himself erroneously to be in communion with the Roman pontiff!

      But he seems to have believed the claim of the Anglicans to have been a continuation of an ancient communion as equivalent to that of the Eastern Orthodox; one could say that he thought the orders of the clergy to whom he submitted himself valid ones because he thought he was in the Anglican Orthodox church, so to speak.

      It’s worth noting that Lewis held this view during an era when the Anglican communion could more easily be mistaken for the Catholic Church. The relaxing of the prohibition against contraception took place during Lewis’ lifetime and he inveighed against it in several writings. Lewis also practiced auricular confession to his Anglican priest (and on occasion to an Orthodox priest of his acquaintance, I believe). Lewis believed in Purgatory and in prayers for the dead, seems to have believed in the intercession of the saints, and in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and in the obligation of obedience to the bishop.

      He did however note that he rejected the Roman doctrine of Purgatory. What to make of this? Apparently what he rejected was the Middle Ages’ imaginings of Purgatory rather than the doctrine itself: All the devils poking sinners with forks and the like. About this, and about the popular forms of devotions to the saints which he also rejected, he does not seem to have made a distinction between what the Church teaches as dogma and what the imaginations of the faithful have added, in a non-canonical fashion, to this over centuries. Or rather, he made that distinction, but seems to have believed that the Catholics did not, and that he therefore could not be Catholic.

      Anyway, he considered himself to be within the ancient church, and was very comfortable quoting all the saints and doctors of the church, including some from the East after the 11th-century schism and some from the Catholic side of the divide after the 16th-century divide.

      The Church calls those divided from her “separated brethren” because by virtue of Christian baptism they have been adopted into the family of God. The Church sadly notes the separation, the lack of the fullness of the union which Christ desired. But she also notes that the separation is not an utter and complete separation: Because the Christian communions and sects hold certain doctrines and sacraments in common, there remains a partial unity, though it is incomplete and insufficient to make us one “as the Son and the Father are one” so that “the world may know.”

      Given the very high percentage that which Catholics affirm which C.S. Lewis also affirmed — rather more than the garden-variety non-denominational American evangelical, in fact! — and given his attention to the ancient saints and doctors and his lack of animosity towards Catholics in his day, it is hard to find much reason for Catholics not only to quote him, but recommend him.

    • T. Shaw says:

      How’s her uncle Charlie doing?

      A quote of Bishop Sheen: “Not many men want to die to their lower selves; it costs so much. Some prefer to have a cosmic religion, which neither puts restraint on their pride nor curbs their passions.”

      Zingers from Bishop Sheen:

      “There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.”

      A heckler asked Bishop Sheen a question about someone who had died. The Bishop replied, “I will ask him when I get to heaven.” The heckler replied, “What if he isn’t in Heaven?”
      The Bishop replied, “Well then you ask him.”

      A man told Bishop Sheen he did not believe in hell. The Bishop replied,
      “You will when you get there.”

      TRUTH

    • Pinky says:

      If you take the NCR article to its reasonable conclusion, you’d end up with something virulently anti-Semitic. After all, Christ didn’t die for all our sins, but died because of the situation he was in. Our little acts of intolerance may be mini-deaths of God, but the death of God Incarnate was caused by the Romans and the Jews, and I don’t see any Romans standing around for me to vent at.

    • Joe Green says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but this presents Christ as “victim.” Rather, he said that no one took his life; he laid it down and could pick it up again.

    • Clinton says:

      Wasn’t this NCR article’s premise– that the Jews and the Romans were
      responsible for the crucifixion– the same reason for which the NCR and
      their ilk denounced Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ?

      Before they were for it, they were against it…

    • Mel Gibson has his problems, to say the least, but he made a magnificent film in The Passion of the Christ, and showing his hands as the hands driving the nails into Christ demonstrates a very Catholic understanding of whose sins are responsible for Christ being on the Cross.

    • Phillip says:

      Don,

      If you don’t have it you should get Benedict XVI’s (Cardinal Ratzinger’s) “Feast of Faith.” Discusses the Eucharist as sacrifice (and only in a limited and sacramental sense, as a meal.) Also discusses the false interpretation of the OT verses which ask not for “sacrifice but a heart turned to God” as denying God seeks sacrifice. Shows how true abadonment to God is in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and our union in sacrifice.

    Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
    Bookmark and Share
    Subscribe by eMail

    Enter your email:

    Recent Comments
    Archives
    Our Visitors. . .
    Our Subscribers. . .