Good Friday – A Simple Equation

I don’t know if the people who read here have any interest in this subject or not, but I’ve often thought that Christianity at times doesn’t explain itself too well.  Or maybe it’s just that Christians don’t.

The prime example of inadequate explanation is the very essence of the thing.  On Good Friday Christians supposedly commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross which was, you know, the Big Event or at least the first part of the Big Event.  Why was it the Big Event?  He “died for our sins”, it is said.

Well, just what does that mean?  Assuming we have sins and that Jesus died “for” them, what are we talking about here?

Christian theology is all bound up with Greek philosophy.  Whether that is because it “steals” a lot of its ideas from Greek philosophy; or because in some respects Greek philosophy and Christianity deal with a lot of the same questions and answers them similarly because one substantially correct answer is going to resemble any other substantially correct answer; or for some other reason is not the point right now.  We’re just trying to figure out what is being said in the first place.

Christianity says, over and over again, in explicit and implicit ways, that God is “perfect”.  And the ancient Greeks had an impersonal conception of the perfect themselves:  the perfect would be one thing, the same throughout, eternal, unchanging, and completely separated from anything that was imperfect, since even contact with the imperfect would render the perfect less than perfect, which of course is impossible if it’s perfect to begin with.

Sorry.  This is how these things have to be expressed.  At least, it’s the only way I know to express them.

Then of course you remember:  Walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And don’t forget:  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.

So this sets up the problem:  1) God is perfect;  2) We are imperfect – because of “sin”; 3) the perfect can have no contact with the imperfect; 4) therefore, we can have no contact with God.

But since “salvation”, as conceived by Christians, is precisely to have contact with God, then by this chain of reasoning salvation is impossible.  But it might not be impossible if the imperfect can somehow be made perfect.

I know this doesn’t strictly make sense, but if you’re interested bear with me.  I’m not advocating for the idea here, I’m just trying to explain it.

If it were possible to make the imperfect perfect, how might that conceivably be done?  You would have to, in some way, as part of such a feat, go beyond perfect.  But even assuming that isn’t incoherent, can we imagine what such a thing might be or what it would consist of?

I think we can.  You take something that is perfect.  You inflict upon it the consequences of imperfection – that is, the separation from God and death that the imperfect have brought upon themselves but of which the perfect is, of course, completely innocent – and then if, somehow, the imperfect can participate in this stringent beyond-perfect cleansing they can be dragged up, from imperfection to perfection. Through that “sacrifice”, as it were.

And if that happens, they will have become perfect can have contact with the perfect God.  They can be saved.  They can be restored to “life”.

God is supposed to be life’s author and originator.  So in terms of an equation we have God giving life to man:

Life

We have man making his contribution to the whole thing:  sin.  Man, in case you hadn’t realized, is a major screw up in this context:

Life + sin

We have the consequences of man’s screw up:

Life + sin = death

We have the perfect Jesus who has no sin of his own but rather “takes away the sins of the world”, as they say:

Life + sin – sin

but then he dies anyway:

Life + sin – sin + death = death

From there it’s simple algebra.  Sin cancels out:

Life + sinsin + death = death

Death cancels out:

Life + sinsin + death = death

And life is all that’s left.

So Christ’s death, paradoxically, defeats death because it cancels it out algebraically, and thus if you want to understand what Christianity and especially Good Friday mean, you have to know a little about the ancient Greeks and a little about algebra.

This is the idea.  Not proselytizing here, just explaining.  In case anyone is interested, even as a matter of intellectual curiosity.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Good Friday – A Simple Equation

  1. B

    I think you are mixing philosophy and religion, which even if they are not replacing each other, they don’t get along all the time, as philosophy involves logic.

    “And life is all that’s left”? If you use algebra all the way, it means that “Life = 0”? This sounds like blasphemy to me. Either by understanding that life is meaningless, or that life can exist by itself, outside religion. God created it, it can’t be 0.
    You can go beyond perfect? You mean, you can go beyond God? Ludicrous and blasphemous! This is even more dangerous to suggest now, as these days are very important for all the Christians around the world to pray to Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, when searching for prosperity, blessing, and protection, which only a truth prayer can bring.

    On the other hand, if you look at it from a logical point of view, it you apply the truth table and do the logic operations on it, I understand why “sin” cancels out, because Jesus took it with him, but “death” would not cancel out, as false and true (“death” AND “- death” in this case) returns false (“-death”). Which makes sense, life = -death.

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    • Well, I was hoping to get through all that without being accused of something like “blasphemy”. Unsuccessfully, it turns out.

      Just a few thoughts to chew on. Not to be taken so seriously.

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  2. Karl

    Everytime I try to think about the perfect being, God, and christianity I stumble on the same conclusion/train of thought: The Bible is THE book. It is the only truth and every christian follows it, or should.

    But then how about these:
    Proverbs 13:11 (KJV) Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

    Proverbs 13:11 (NIV) Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

    Proverbs 13:11 (English Standard Version 2001) Wealth gained hastily [or by fraud] will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

    Proverbs 13:11 (Wycliffe Bible 1395) Hasted chattel, that is, gotten hastily, shall be made less; but that which is gathered little and little with hand, shall be multiplied.

    Proverbs 13:11 (Young’s Literal Translation 1862) Wealth from vanity becometh little, And whoso is gathering by the hand becometh great.

    Yep, sure if someone gave me The Book, the original, where the plan was laid out, sure, I would be interested in practicing its teachings.

    But I cannot, I will not, put my sanity in the hands of men who try to modernize, translate to fit with the era and the thoughts of the time when a new “modern” Bible is made.

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  3. Nathanael

    Christianity is a contradictory mess. It’s very much not internally consistent.

    It’s best understood not as a belief system, but by understanding the common cognitive *errors* and psychological *biases* and how those can be manipulated by skilled leaders; the so-called belief system is largely a very effective manipulation of human mental biases, as are most religions. Christianity in particular has a lot of illogical belief loops of the “If you don’t believe this you should feel bad” style, which actually work on most people’s brains and make them feel bad.

    Try studying some of those biases….

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