Saturday, April 11, 2009

Giles Fraser: The merciful crucifixion | Comment is free | The Guardian

Giles Fraser: The merciful crucifixion | Comment is free | The Guardian important it is for Christians to insist upon a non-sacrificial reading of the death of Christ. For too long, Christians have put up with a theory of salvation that has at its core the idea that God requires the sacrifice of his own son so that human sin can be cancelled. 'There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin,' we will all sing. The fact this is a disgusting idea, and morally degenerate, is obvious to all but those indoctrinated into a very narrow reading of the cross.

No, Jesus is not a blood sacrifice to appease a vicious God. The story is not an endorsement of the idea that sacrifice brings peace with God but an attack on it. 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' Jesus insists, going on to side with the scapegoats themselves. The Gospel is clear. I am with the hunchback. I am with the one cast out. He became one with the rejected and the cast out. And thus he suffered the same fate. This is not to endorse sacrificial theology but to condemn it."

Yet despite this clear identification with the victim, much official Christianity holds on to the sacrificial reading of Christ's death. The present pope has insisted that the Eucharist must be seen as a sacrifice rather than as a meal among friends, and evangelical Christians remain committed to their theory of Christ being sacrificed to offset human sin. Lord have mercy.

I sometimes a problem with this issue of substitutionary satisfaction. But neither am I willing to see the Eucharist as a meal with friends. The whole of Catholic tradition is that the mass is a sacrifice.

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