Sometimes I put answers on “Answers.com”. I saw the following question:
How do Thinking Christians persuade modern men that it is necessary to shed blood to atone for sin that it is necessary for Jesus to die in order to reconcile men to God?
It is possible that this is a loaded question… implying that Christians are really unthinking. I remember years decades ago a person posing the question on the RELIGION FORUM of COMPUSERVE, “Why do many Christians worship on Sunday (1st day) rather than Saturday (7th day)?” I gave what I considered a fairly detailed and thoughtful answer. Then the person who asked the question responded with: “Well, I find people who worship on the 7th day to be more spiritual.” That suggests to me that the person wasn’t really asking the question to find an answer, but to pose a complaint. Ultimately I Peter 3:15 suggests that we should try our best to answer questions:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
I see key points here:
1. Everyone. While the Bible may give caution about answering fools, it seems best here to not be quick to judge the character or motive of a person, but do one’s best to inform regardless.
2. Reason. It’s not just faith. God made us to be reasoning beings. As such, we share our faith, in part, by sharing our reasoning.
3. Gentleness and respect. Going back to the Golden Rule, We answer others as we would want others to answer us.
Returning to the question above regarding blood sacrifice, someone had given the following answer:
The necessity of the death and resurrection of Jesus to reconcile men to God is and has always been the key central doctrine of all forms of Christianity having an orthodox theology. Anything else is heresy.
I do not believe you can persuade anyone of this that chooses to believe otherwise. This may be one of those things that must be revealed to a person by the Holy Spirit, not by human persuasion.
I feel the answer given was inadequate. First of all, it made no attempt to answer the question… it answered a different question. Second, it made no attempt to consider the intended audience. Ultimately, the “answer” given is that the blood sacrifice of Christ is true and anyone who says otherwise is a heretic. Not much of an answer. I added my own answer:
We do not know what God HAD to do to reconcile Us to Himself. We know from the Bible what He DID do. The Bible says that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” However, since that is true because God made the rules, it is, perhaps, possible that a different system could have been made. The question would be then, “Why do it that way?”
1. Cross-culturally, there seems to be a recognition of guilt, shame, unworthiness… one could say “sin.” It appears to be, perhaps not universal but very common, that blood sacrifice and blood covenants are recognized worldwide as needed to appease and make peace. Even “modern man” tends to identify death as the ultimate justice (or poetic justice) for actions that are unconscionable. Whether that is hardwired into our beings, or if it is deeply ingrained in our cultural histories, blood sacrifice on some level has always “made sense.”
2. On a less cultural, more personal, level, we seek a God (or divine power) that is good, that is powerful, that is caring. Yet we live in a world that is not good, that seems to be out of control, and is heartless. How does one reconcile this. Throughout history, there have been many attempts by many groups to come up with an answer to this. However, the Biblical answer is that we live in a world of evil and chaos, despite a Good, Powerful, and Caring God. This, however, is a temporary state, not God’s intention for a permanent condition. The point that reconciles the two seemingly contradictory points is that God is powerful and at work to reconcile all things. He has chosen to identify with us, to suffer with us, and to sacrifice for us. In so doing, He shows His goodness and care.
Is this a better answer? I don’t know– you decide. But it, at least, TRIES to answer the question asked for the intended audience. Of course, I don’t believe anyone can be persuaded. But one can attempt to answer with gentleness and respect regarding the hope that is within us.