Christ did not die for our sins

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Well, yes, He did, but — and this is a gigantic but — certainly not in the way many Christians have been taught to believe: that the Son of God became man and died on Calvary to satisfy divine justice and pay for humankind’s sins.

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“That’s heresy.” So said leading Filipino theologian Catalino Arevalo of the Jesuit-run Loyola School of Theology about the widespread teaching that God would not have forgiven humankind’s sins if Jesus Christ did not suffer and die for us.

The 90-year-old Jesuit was most emphatic in expounding on the wrong and right doctrines of divine forgiveness at his usual 9.30 a.m. Mass last Sunday in Our Lady of Pentecost Parish Church, Varsity Hills Subdivision, Loyola Heights.

“God sent His Son and allowed us to kill the Son to open our hearts to His Love,” Fr. Arevalo stressed in his homily on Laetare Sunday, the pink-vestment Fourth Sunday of Lent, which interrupts the season’s purple garb of atonement to celebrate the Mercy of God, just like Gaudete Sunday in the third of Advent’s four violet-clad weeks.

A false picture of God — Benedict XVI

In his lecture-like homily, Fr. Arevalo even read from the seminal 1968 book Introduction to Christianity, by German theologian Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, who is among the leading figures in Christian theology worldwide.

Ratzinger wrote that the faulty doctrine of God demanding Christ’s death for man’s sins may be understandable in light of man’s sense of justice and retribution. But it grossly disfigures the truth of God and “makes the image of [His] love incredible. This picture is as false as it is widespread.”

So let’s get this straight. God did not let His Son die as expiation for our sins, as many believers through two millennia have been led to believe. Rather, His Incarnation, Passion and Death express and invite us into God’s infinite love for humanity.

There are doctrinal and scriptural discussions of why God sent His Son to live, teach, suffer and die with humankind 2,015 years ago. Fr. Reginald Malicdem, Private Secretary of the Archbishop of Manila, cited four reasons in his doctrinal formation lecture to lay ministers last Saturday.

First, to reconcile man with God, Jesus Christ had to be both God and man. No mere man could fully communicate with the divine, and no one could speak for humankind except a human being.

Second, as Benedict XVI explained, Christ showed humanity the love of God in an earthly form and life that people can see and understand. In Jesus’s life and death, the fullness of God’s love is clearly manifested to men.

Third, to give us a model for holiness, which we can emulate to also become holy like God, rising above our fallen earthly nature. This sets man apart from other creatures as the only one able to achieve holiness.

Fourth, by combining divine and human natures in one person, Jesus Christ opened the door for all human beings to partake of God’s being and life as His children in His heavenly kingdom.

Divine love comes in human suffering

Of course, the most astounding and challenging aspect of Jesus’s portrayal of divine love in His life is the Passion and Death we commemorate at Lent. The fullness of
God’s love, as expressed in a human ‘s life, must include the total giving of oneself in the most excruciating and unjust suffering and death ever.

Anyone seeking to become holy and loving like God must embrace the Cross and live and love as Jesus did, all the way to one’s own Calvary. As the Lord told His Apostles at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I have loved you.” And that means laying down our lives for one another as Christ did.

Suffering, of course, is inextricably part of humanity’s world and life. Even the wealthy and powerful eventually face disease, deterioration and death. And in showing man how to be holy and loving like God, Christ had to also undergo human suffering, or else His portrayal of Godliness in human terms would be woefully incomplete.

Most Christians, though, while holding fast to this doctrine of human suffering as the highest expression of divine love in our earthly life, may understandably feel that they can never achieve or even come close to the height, depth and intensity of Christ’s love as vividly and bloodily demonstrated on the Cross.

Thankfully, saints through the centuries, from the Blessed Virgin Mary to Mother Teresa and John Paul II, have shown how any person in any state of humanity can live lives of holiness and heavenly love.

On Thursday the saint with whom most family men can identify was extolled for his life of humility, acceptance and sacrifice before God. The Feast of Saint Joseph, the chaste spouse of Mary, Mother of God, was celebrated on March 19.

In his homily at the Santuario de San Jose fiesta mass in Greenhills, Bishop Teodoro Bacani said St. Joseph faced several crises — Mary’s pregnancy, no room at the inn for her to give birth, the flight to Egypt from Herod’s soldiers, and the boy Jesus’s disappearance in Jerusalem — and always acted with full trust and acceptance of God’s will, and every effort to care for Jesus and Mary.

The good bishop also remarked the Filipinos also face crisis after crisis, recounting the tribulations under various presidents. Yet the nation has persevered, and our faith and longsuffering spirit, not unlike Joseph’s, has always carried us through and shown us the love of God in our life as a people.

And in laying down His life for His beloved faithful, Jesus Christ points the way for all of us to find Him, His Father and Their Holy Spirit in our own blood, sweat and tears. Amen.

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21 Comments

  1. Ikabod Bubwit on

    As far as I know the death of Jesus was the sacrifice needed for mankind to earn the benefit of God’s Kingdom and His presence. It was not necessarily the requirement for God’s forgiveness of our sins. Well, that’s my 2-cent’s worth about the matter !!!

  2. lleuxquiocho on

    there we go again… we cannot even agree on the fundamentals of our faith… our muslim brothers/sisters are laughing on the side!

  3. Further proof that people should not just read, but understand their Bibles regarding such things. Leonardo and BABYBOO’s comments further disprove the statement given in this article, where Christ did not die for our sins.

  4. Amnata Pundit on

    How do all these Catholic doctrines square with the Ten Commandments ? Unless one doubts that God Himself is the origin of these Commandments, all teachings that concern obedience to the God of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses must contend with the contents of this Holy Tablet handed by God Himself to Moses 5000 years ago. First, is Jesus God ? Was it the intention of God or Jesus and His apostles to establish a new religion with Jesus at the center of worship? As long as there is no proof of this, the answer must be no. “Thou shalt not worship other gods before me” is clear and unequivocal. So is “Do not worship graven images.” Why is the Catholic church the foremost transgressors of these two commandments? Why did they remove the second commandment about graven images from their own version of the commandments? Isn’t this APOSTASY of the highest order, one of the first recorded dagdag bawas in mankind’s history? As for the second commandment on graven images, what can be more graven in the eyes of God than the sight of HIs only Begotten Son nailed to the cross? Who is happy to see his beloved like this, certainly not Jesus’ mother Mary nor any of the apostles. Only His enemy is laughing in his lair at this vicious joke played on God, as if he is saying, “Yan ba pinadala mo? Sige, padala ka pa ng isa pa!” In the bible it is written that THE WHORE will bear the full brunt of His rage at the end times. Who is this whore? Jesus belonged to God’s chosen people that descended from Abraham, namely the Jews. He went into an inexplicable rage only once, and that was against the moneylenders doing their business in the temple. Why? Usury which is forbidden in the bible is the gravest of sin because it is the tool of the devil to establish his dominion over this world. As a matter of fact, in the Koran God/Allah classifies usury as several degrees worse than fornicating with your own mother ! Lending money for interest especially today because of fractional banking where all these money is just simply manufactured out of thin air will enable the lenders, over time, to end up owning everything. When the final confrontation comes between God and His rival over dominion of this world the devil will have all the legal documents to prove that he already owns this world, and if they are playing according to some unknown( to us ) celestial rules as they obviously are ( why can’t the Universal Creator just simply wish away this creature that is His avowed enemy?), then God will just turn his back on these INFIDELS and just rapture up with Him only those who were faithful to Him alone and not to other gods or graven images, and leave those who allowed themselves to be deceived by the devil because they abandoned the Armor of God which is just nothing but simply CRITICAL THINKING to know what eternal damnation really means, in this life, not in the afterlife.

    • Amnata Pundit on

      This in a nutshell explains what Jesus’ real mission was, to straighten out God’s Chosen People with regards to the diabolical practice of usury, and the real reason why he was nailed to the cross. It just simply boils down to the contest between God and the devil for the ownership of this world, some kind of a celestial chess game where us humans are the mere pawns.

    • Amnata Pundit on

      Last, please read what for me is the most important verse in the Bible , Ephesians 6:10-17. Take note of the last line,” Take the HELMET of salvation, the SWORD of the spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD.” Not the word of celibates who are actually just a power seeking, wealth seeking, dominion seeking fraternity bent on becoming the USURPERS OF GOD’s ROLE IN THIS WORLD !

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Since your first concern has to do with God’s commandments, let us say you are really concerned. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy comprise the Pentateuch under the authorship of Moses. Up to this day, the Jewish people take to heart Deuteronomy 6:4. The early followers of Jesus were Jewish as Jesus was Jewish. A distinctive expression of Deuteronomy 6:4 for the early Christians has come down to this day in the SIGN OF THE CROSS. One hand (right hand) to signify One God; 3 fingers (index, middle, ring finger) to signify 3 Persons in One God touch the forehead, then touch the gut area (heart), then touch the shoulders thus forming a cross.

      Deutero (second) nomy (law). The 10 commandments found in Exodus 20 are compressed in Deuteronomy 6:4. Perfect obedience to the will (command) of Yaweh is expressed by the Messiah on the cross. The vertical beam points upward (God) and the horizontal beam points to our neighbors. The 10 commandments and Deuteronomy 6:4 are expressed in the sign of the cross: love God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and your neighbor “as I have loved you” Jesus commanded. The Cross is the constant and center in the life of all disciples of Jesus. There is no way you or the pagan Romans or the modern communists can get rid of the cross. You would have to amputate the right hands of all Catholics. Even then imagination can always be used to make the sign of the cross. Words accompany the action of making the sign of the cross. Catholic practice is best shown by actually doing. Reading is just for information. Demonstration is for actual teaching the “Way” as the early christians called their way of life following the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

      If you really want to know more, consult the internet: type “catechism of the catholic church”. Form your own conclusions as you read it.

  5. How many street children ( many of whom have no inkling as to the identity of their fathers) littered on the streets who were sired out of wedlock because of their fathers’ loose sexual appetite. How many crimes have been committed because of intoxication from drugs and liquor. How massive the seemingly unabated corruption in our government and oligarchic exploitation that continue to drag the poor sector of our society into abject poverty, and so on. Maybe these societal menaces think that God will forgive them anyway owing to Jesus crucifixion.

  6. Venerando Desales on

    The truth is: we are destined for eternal damnation or spiritual death because we inheried the original sin of disobedience of Adam and Eve. That is the law! Just like in a court of justice, when the judge sentences a convicted criminal, only executive clemency can commute or pardon him. By God’s design to save man, Jesus Christ was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh so that death itself will be condemned in the flesh and so that man lives! This is an act of love in the highest order: that man lives in communion with God as his Father! The passion and death of Jesus was the logical consequence, otherwise there can be no resurrection. We must aim for this highest good, that is eternal life. God did not do this redemptive plan to the angels! Those who failed the test became demons. Those who succeeded earned the beatific communion with God! That is why Lucifer and his demons want man to fail as the only way of exacting revenge to those whom God loves! Lucifer knows he cannot hurt God! He can’t even hurt holy people! The only way to hurt God is the indirect way of drawing as many people to sin. Even this is futile for God has sent guardian angels to His chosen ones. So, the equation is do we belong to God or are we subjects of the devil, the so called weeds to be uprooted by the time the plants’ roots are strong enough to withstand being pulled up by the uprooting of the weeds?

  7. Logically speaking, one shall not bear the burden of others. If I am certain that I will be forgiven for all the sins that I have yet to commit owing to Jesus calvary, then I will relish doing my whims and caprice to satiate my satisfaction, thus crimes will flourish on this earth. It is more logical to believe that sincere repentance, patience and firm restraint should be the key to atonement.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Logically speaking, creatures are not entitled to the favors or graces that the Creator can give. That is the natural order of things. Creatures include the angels. Spiritual beings. As such, angels are vastly more intelligent than human beings who are only partly spiritual and partly physical or material beings. When the light carrier (luci-fer) and his followers refused to obey the Creator, they turned into devils and were banished forever from the presence of the Creator. When Adam disobeyed the Creator, he too was banished from Paradise; he was reduced to living his natural state. His continued yearning for Paradise is logically impossible to satisfy, because life in Paradise is supernatural. Man cannot literally pull himself by his bootstraps. He needs Someone equal to the Creator and equal to the creature at the same time. Jesus is not just man or prophet. Jesus is also God (John 8:58 “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.”) I AM is the name the Creator revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14b …”This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.”

      In the case of the rebellious angels, Divine Justice is not tempered with mercy simply because they are spiritual beings whose decision is irrevocable. In the case of Adam and his descendants, Divine Justice is tempered with Divine Mercy. That is why the second Person of the Blessed Trinity took on human nature and became our Redeemer: His atonement for our sins is acceptable to the Creator. Colossians 1:22 “But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence.” Colossians 3:12b “…So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

      Life is a constant following of our Redeemer who says to the doubting Thomas, “I AM the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; no one comes to the Father but through ME (John 14:6).

  8. After Adam and Eve sinned they were sent away from the garden of Eden to henceforth live by the sweat of their brow. The wrath of God descended on the sinful people during the time of Noah and the floods came to exterminate them and Sodom and Gomorah was totaled by fire and brimstone because there was not one among the people there who was righteous and worth saving. I believe in divine retribution as well as God’s mercy. After the floods God promised to never again bring about a similar disaster but mankind fell back to being sinful so that keeping His word and since He so loved mankind He sent Jesus His only son to redeem mankind from their sins by dying on the cross. God’s admonition must however be remembered and heeded when He declared that Jesus is His son “LISTEN TO HIM” God warned. That there is divine retribution may be discerned even from the words of Mother Mary in her apparitions where she warned about God’s anger about to burst admonishing Christians to pray to hold back God’s hand from striking at man’s sinfulness. I am a firm believer in God’s love and mercy but I also believe in divine justice that in the end those who lived righteous lives will be rewarded and those who did not will be punished like separating the sheep from the goats at the final judgment.

  9. Justaskingseriously on

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: #615 ” …Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.” #616 “It is love “to the end” that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction….the existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embrace all persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.”

    The faith that has been handed to us from the apostles is called catholic faith, because it is holistic (kat + holos or total in Greek). Anytime the totality of the faith is pushed to the back burner to give attention to something “new” and “sensational”, there is the danger of the totality being dismembered. That is when someone should raise a red flag of “heresy”. It does not mean there is heresy; there is just that danger that someone or some group might run away with it and form their own “church”. Then you have a heresy in action.

    No one can add or subtract from what the official catechism of the Catholic Church promulgates without sounding very much of a theologian (prominent or not). Clearly #615 and #616 have divine justice as a backdrop of the words “atone” “satisfaction for our sins” “redemption” and “reparation”. Amen? Amen.

  10. granny goose on

    So the Bible is heretic?
    “But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.” [Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, Hebrews 2:9-10]

    “For God so LOVED the world He GAVE His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes shall not perish but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]

  11. Jesus was crucified and died in the cross to fulfill a prophesy. Jesus was resurrected to demonstrate, there is resurrection of the dead. Words of Jesus in the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing”. Words of wisdom to demonstrate that God is Mercy. The events portrays there is merciful God that forgives sins and by the will of God, everything is possible….. Jesus prayed, “Father, if it is your will, let it be done”. Let us accept and suffer the will of God. It is for the glory of resurrection and/or salvation. Those who does not suffer will not find glory but are cursed into damnation. Can there be light with out darkness? Pity are those who did not see. They are like blind searching but can not find. .

  12. Ang baksik, ano? That the unbaptized newborn baby is already a sinner. To those who ask why life is horribly difficult… theologian Arevalo says that is gift from the heavens and “….this doctrine of human suffering as the highest expression of divine”

  13. ““That’s heresy.” So said leading Filipino theologian Catalino Arevalo of the Jesuit-run Loyola School of Theology about the widespread teaching that God would not have forgiven humankind’s sins if Jesus Christ did not suffer and die for us.”

    The Mass is called a sacrifice, the sacramental sacrifice at Calvary. Why is it then called a sacrifice? A sacrifice means to suffer for someone else or for something or for some belief or truth. This quoted teaching above takes away the reality of sacrifice in the Christian life. Even in secular life there is the reality of sacrifice. It takes away the cross. The very being of Jesus is a cross being both God and man. In the “biological” sense. Life is a cross, having to fight to live a life against evil due to original sin. This is a denial of the struggle to live a life of holiness.

  14. Leonardo Aromin on

    There are a good number of verses in the Bible that clearly say that Jesus Christ has died for our sins. For instance: (Romans 4:25) He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God; (1 John 2:2): He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world);

    And therefore, it is very wrong to say or even imply that “Christ did not die for our sins…” The truth is: Jesus Christ died for our sins…!