"Why did Jesus need to die on the cross for our sins?" This is the subject we'll be tackling today in Chapter 20 of Natasha Crain's Keeping Your Kids on God's Side. Brace yourselves because we are in for a bumpy ride! Natasha acknowledges that understanding why Jesus had to die on the cross can be a difficult concept for a child to grasp. You think? If Christian children can't understand why they are unacceptable to their creator and therefore can't grasp why God needed his son Jesus, who is also God, to die a horrific death by hanging on a cross to pay for their many sins, then good for them! They absolutely should not understand it! As Natasha notes, "But when our kids don’t have a clear understanding of the nature of Jesus’ sacrifice, skeptics can easily get a foot in the door of their hearts by characterizing the Christian God as a horrible, bloodthirsty being who demands human sacrifice." Oh, how I wish a skeptic had gotten a foot in the door of my heart about 35 years ago!
Natasha addresses three major points that parents can use to aid in their children's understanding of why a blood sacrifice makes things better. Oh, boy. That sentence just kind of turned my stomach. Anyway...they are as follows:
1) Sin is real and is a major problem.
2) God is just.
3) God has chosen justly to forgive.
Starting with the first point, Natasha explains that sin (an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law) drives a wedge between the sinner and the Creator, which is obviously a serious problem. She goes on to note, "In an atheistic worldview, it follows that sin is a meaningless concept because there's no way for a person to actually do something wrong." Ugh! Not this again. While the word sin is undoubtedly meaningful to the Christian, the difference between right and wrong and its consequences is a universal concept, no god required. First, to make such a statement, Natasha really needs to demonstrate that a god exists. That burden of proof has not been met. Then, she needs to provide evidence for objective moral standards. Next, it needs to be demonstrated that objective moral standards require a god. And finally, which god or gods is it? How can Natasha or any other Christian that buys into this argument determine that Yahweh, the son of the Canaanite god El who didn't emerge on the scene until the Iron Age, is the one true god from whom all objective moral standards flow? Let's check out some of those objective moral standards.
Moving on to point two, God is just. What? You don't believe me? It says so in the Bible. Natasha states, "God, as our ultimate judge, also sets the penalty for our sin: death (Romans 6:23)." Nice. Help your kids to understand that they actually deserve to die for their sins. That's always good for their self-esteem.
Lastly, God has chosen justly to forgive. Rather than have us die for our sins, God sent himself to die for himself to satisfy himself. And all you have to do to receive this free gift of forgiveness? Just believe it's true; because if you don't, there will be hell to pay, literally. As Natasha explains, "The difference between Christians and nonbelievers is that Christians acknowledge their guilty position and accept God's gift of forgiveness, paid for by Jesus on the cross." Actually, I'd say most nonbelievers (you know, the two-thirds of the Earth's population that don't accept the Christian worldview) believe that the wrongdoer should be subject to the consequences of his/her own actions. That's just. She continues, "Without a real problem of sin to solve (as in the atheist's worldview), all you have is ancient people believing in the need for a human sacrifice to ambiguously appease an angry God." Pretty much. I'll let our judicial system handle the rest.