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

Tuesday, April 26, AD 2011

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.

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

  • 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”.

  • I believe Lewis was influenced by Chesterton as well.

    I’ll probably go out kicking, but hope to see the light before it’s too late.

  • …which raises an oft-asked question: “Is there salvation outside the Catholic Church?”

  • “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.

  • 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.

  • Actually, Joe, you *do* see Protestants quoting popes. Just a few weeks ago you had Protestants aplenty favorably reviewing and quoting from vol. 2 of B16’s book on Jesus.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  As someone who received an undergraduate degree in the teaching of social studies, I am never very surprised when a school administration decides to engage in an act of public stupidity, however, this incident is in a class all by itself.

A second grade student at the Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, People’s Republic of Massachusetts, was sent home from school after drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.  The student made the drawing in response to a class assignment that the students draw something that reminded them of Christmas.  Apparently the student’s dullard teacher decided that the drawing of the cross was too violent.  The school administration, in a move which hearkens back to the old Soviet Union placing dissidents in psych wards, decreed that not only would the child be sent home, but that he would have to undergo a psych evaluation.

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17 Responses to A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

  • That’s “The Peoples Republic of Taxachusetts.” Otherwise known as “the Pay State.”

  • Well it’s kind of a happy ending.

    He still had to get a psychiatric evaluation and be approved that he was “sane”.

    He did just that and “passed”.

    He then was so traumatized by the entire incident he didn’t want to return to the same school so the father is petitioning (I think he got approval) for his son to transfer.

    This is very scary. For a school administrator to cater to hate-mongering of an innocent depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion makes my blood boil.

  • I would NEVER take my child to a psychologist over this, but I learned my lesson the hard way. When my son (who was then seven) was having trouble in class, the school wouldn’t do anything until we had a complete evaluation to make sure he didn’t have psychological or emotional problems. My husband and I went for OUR evaluation with the school psychologist (“case history” stuff before he was scheduled for a trip) and were so unimpressed with her that we cancelled his eval and went to our pediatrician instead. Our son didn’t even know anything was going on. Then, when things got really ridiculous (I was observing in the classroom and the teacher was incompetent) I threatened to take him out of school and he was moved immediately. His problems were solved. I learned then not to do ANYTHING the school said (not the lesson they intended to teach) but instead to insist on my child’s rights under the law. And they wonder why parents are antagonistic! Could an 8-year-old be traumatized over this incident? You bet, depending on the kid and on how it was handled. The parents should have had a nice, calm, conversation with the principal and the teacher. And then if that didn’t work, they should simply have said that he would be back in class the next day or the school would hear from their lawyer the next day.

    All schools freak out over violence. When my son was eight he used to draw soldiers, bloody knives, spaceships shooting each other, etc. on his papers. The teachers told us that was “unacceptable” and so just told him that the school was silly about things like that, so he would have to draw those things at home. Don’t ALL little boys draw that stuff? Likewise, same year, he got a discipline point for reading an “inappropriate” book in class. When I asked the teacher what it was, she said it was a book about the Battle of Gettysburg and it had photographs of dead soldiers in it. I told her that he got it from the SCHOOL LIBRARY, so she took the discipline point away — but he still couldn’t read the book in class.

    They are all terrified of boys becoming violent. My kids are now in Catholic school, but they can’t bring in toy guns — even neon-colored plastic squirt guns — for skits and things.

  • It seems like there are plenty of news stories everyday of the public schools doing something not terribly intelligent….

    This has especially been on my mind with kids right around the corner. What a faddish wastebasket of wishful thinking many schools are…..read about the Kansas City case (and New Jersey, for that matter, following the court cases of the 80s) for example.

    What folly!
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298es.html

    What is needed is not more money but better moral foundations.

  • This is the logical result of all those “zero tolerance” anti-violence, anti-sexual harassment, and drug abuse policies that became so popular after Columbine.

    Zero tolerance policies forbidding absolutely ANY word, image, object or action that even hints at violence allow school administrators to APPEAR to be doing something about youth violence, without the bother of actually having to get to know students personally, judge each case individually, or risk being accused of racism or discrimination if the child/youth involved happens to be of a protected minority group.

    The result is that little kids get busted for drawing crucifixes, kissing girl classmates on Valentine’s Day, etc. while outside (or even inside), gang violence, suicide, drug abuse, etc. continue unabated.

    The main reason schools are “terrified of boys becoming violent” is because so many of them HAVE NO FATHERS and therefore no idea how to be real men, except by being the kind of macho jerks they see on TV or in movies.

  • Zero tolerance usually means zero brains. It allows administrators to mindlessly follow policy rather than to make real decisions, which of course is what they are supposed to be doing. True profiles in uselessness.

    I agree that public schools usually have no clue as to how to handle boys who act, well, like boys. A perfect example is a timeout. Most of the time a timeout will simply make an energetic boy bored and hostile. Much better to give him a task to accomplish, especially if it is something physical. Of course this is just common sense knowledge of the differences between girls and boys, something that seems to be verboten in public schools, but which is obvious to most parents who have spent time rearing both boys and girls.

  • I’m not a “rogue parent” at my daughters’ virtual school (where my wife is also a teacher). My emails to their former teacher (who was not accommodating my eldest’s disability) are now being quoted regularly at meetings as signs of a parent to watch out for. The latest suggestion was that parents who challenge “school policy” (which is defined as the whim the principal, a Charlestonian elitist who goes way back with Mark Sanford) could be charged with educational neglect.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

  • Having dealt with public schools Todd both as an attorney and as a parent, I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators until the opposite is proven.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

    Heard that before.

    http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2005/11/expelled.html

  • What Mr. McClarey said on Paul Zummo’s Cranky Conservative bears repeating: “The forces of open minded tolerance so often are represented by narrow minded bigots.”

    Quite frankly, I’m surprised “Christmas” was even mentioned, much less had an assignment attached to it.

  • “I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators …”

    It would seem there’s a good bit more to the story than was posted here. What’s still standing today is a he-said/they-said tussle that’s more than two weeks old. The news reports I’ve seen is that the drawing was not the one that got the young lad noticed, that there’s a history with the boy and his family, and that nobody was expelled from school. It would seem enough doubt has been thrown into this story to cause prudent observers to withhold judgment. Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.

    In my long experience in parishes and schools, I often find that two sides in a dispute often are talking past each other and not even in agreement on the point(s) in question. It’s usually adequate enough to make the communication connection and allow diplomacy to smooth kinks in the relationship.

    What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    I would hold it is possible to be right (pointing out a grave moral or administrative error, for example) but to go about it in the wrong way (producing a forged document, or making oneself a threat–even just a perceived one–to a school administration). Prudence would dictate leaving the judgment to the Judge, and taking necessary precautions for one’s own children, or one’s own morality, depending on the circumstances.

  • “Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.”

    Actually Todd, that is by choice. The legal profession is not one where all attorneys wish to be judges. Some, as in my case, make it very clear to judges who indicate that we would make a good judge that we do not wish to have to wear a black robe on the job.

    The school administration, after coming under intense media scrutiny yesterday, has a different story from the parent. That is as surprising as the sun coming up in the east or bureaucrats dodging responsibility. This incident in June 2008 indicates to me that bozos are in charge of the Taunton school system and that the parent is probably more accurate:

    “This is not the first time in recent years that a Taunton student has been sent home over a drawing. In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher and a classmate.

    The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.”

    http://www.tauntongazette.com/news/x1903566059/Taunton-second-grader-suspended-over-drawing-of-Jesus

  • I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago. Parents themselves insist that schools be hypervigilant when it comes to the safety of their children. A one-day suspension for a blatant act of insubordination to a teacher … I’m sure you saw enough contempt of court citations in your years in the courtroom. Authority figures take authority very seriously.

    According to you, the school administration was a loser no matter what they did. If they were totally wrong, they could confess or clam up or lie. If they had justification for criticizing the lad, they could either remain silent on the matter and let the conservatives spin it, or they could offer a public rebuttal. By your statement, whether they lied or told the truth, your reaction would be the same.

    The caveat emptor in this case: if something sounds too good to be ideologically true, it probably is. Given how this story is unravelling for the father, I’d say there are a number of media and blog outlets with egg on their faces today.

  • What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    News to me.

    I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago.

    So we call the cops over some other kid’s droodles.

  • Part of feminizing men is to make all violence bad because boys tend to violence. Ladies, before you get upset with me, there is nothing wrong with the feminine – I love and respect my beautiful bride and the Blessed Virgin Mary – but women should be women and men should be men – equal in dignity yet different.

    Violence is not necessarily bad, or good. It just is. Drawing a picture of Christ crucified is a picture of violence – what could be more violent than Diecide?
    Mel Gibson’s movie was also violent – too violent for some tastes. Was this bad violence? I don’t think so, the worst evil was also the greatest good. There is nothing wrong with depicting Christ crucified, in fact there is everything right with it, as violent as it is. All men should wish to be Christ on His Cross.

    Boys are violent – boys like guns, swords, fights, tanks, knights, cavalry, shields, war games, etc. and that is as it should be. Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.

    Thank God that the generation born in the 1920s was violent. They went overseas and did some violence to the Nazis – and I am pretty sure we’re all happy with how that turned out.

  • “Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.”

    Which is exactly what a society in which vast numbers of young boys are raised without stable father figures fails to do. Even among animals like elephants, the presence of older males keeps fighting among the younger ones from getting out of hand.

    Was the World War II generation really any more “violent” than we are? I’m not so sure. Yes, boys played with guns, collected toy soldiers, and played cops, robbers, cowboys and Indians and other politically incorrect games. However if you take a look at the movies from that era, even the toughest tough guys like Bogart, Cagney, et al. used far less firepower and killed far fewer bad guys in 10 movies than, say, Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger did in just one.

    Also, Knight, I think you overlook the fact that there are times when women can or must become “violent” in a “good” sense, particularly when defending their children from harm. Again, even among animals, a mother defending her young from real or percieved threat is often far more dangerous than the male.