Why did God sacrifice Himself to Himself?

image

As a Christian blogger and defender of the faith, I either see this meme or read the words in it all the time.

If you ever encounter it, it is easy to explain how wrong it is.

The meme is representative of a common sentiment expressed by the internet atheist community. Christianity is laughable because, “The idea of God sacrificing himself to himself to save us from himself is too much for any rational person to believe.” Now, to be fair, when you say it like that, it does sound ridiculous. But is it? No, and I think I can illustrate why by offering another example. Before that though, I want to deconstruct the phrase to show where the rhetorical power comes from.

First of all, the repetition of the word “himself” makes this phrase rhetorically powerful. If you have ever seen the movie “Liar Liar,” you will remember the scene where Jim Carrey is in the bathroom beating himself up–punching himself, throwing himself against the wall, and smashing his own head with the toilet seat. That is the sort of picture of God that this phrase paints. To zero in on what might be the lynchpin of this phrase, I think the real power lies in the words “to himself.” If it simply said “God sacrificed himself to save us from himself,” it would still throw some people for a loop, but it wouldn’t sound quite as ridiculous. Adding “to himself” suggests a person being sacrificed to the same person. According to the meme, that is what Christians believe. I agree that this would be wrong.

In fact, this notion, coming from Sabellianism, Patripassianism, and/or Modalism, has been refuted by orthodox Christians dating back to the 2nd century and was officially condemned as heresy at the council of Nicaea. Thus, what the meme suggests is actually a misrepresentation of the Christian view. Christians are trinitarian monotheists. That is, they believe that there is one God that exists in three distinct persons. Thus, if the Son is sacrificed to the Father, it is incorrect to say that one person is sacrificing himself to himself.

Advertisements


Categories: Apologetics, Christianity

Tags: , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. I have a different take. God didn’t sacrifice Himself. We sacrificed Him. Jesus was our sacrifice, not God’s. Hosea told us God wanted “mercy, not sacrifice”. At the cross, where was God? He was on the cross, being sacrificed. So who did the sacrificing? God was not to be found in Pilate, Caiaphas, Caesar, or the crowd who yelled for Barrabas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. Jesus was (and is) the once and for all sacrifice for our sins. OUR sins. Just as before Christ, the priests would offer the sacrifice for sins to God, so did the High Priest (Caiaphas), Pilate, and Caesar Nero offer Him up as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: