PZ Myers posted an entry on his blog with the title “Odious Christianity.” He is commenting on a tract that came his way which includes the following cartoon:
After sharing it, he writes:
Whoa, hang on there. How is justice served by punishing an innocent? So, with this judge, if I get a parking ticket I could get out of it by bringing in a baby and chopping off a finger, and announcing that there, I’ve more than paid off my crime now? Or do I need to get someone who loves me very much to selflessly volunteer to mutilate themselves in order to get me off?
It seems to me that if I were to accept such an offer, it would make me even more of a disgusting monster than just someone who let a parking meter expire. I don’t think justice is served by allowing others to take responsibility for my crimes — yet somehow a fundamental precept of Christianity is the doctrine of the scapegoat.
So, sorry, I reject the core belief, so I must reject the whole of Christianity. Joshua, get down off that tree! You’re doing me no favors!
Atonement theories are, historically speaking, a result of Christians trying to make sense of the crucifixion of Jesus. Since there has never been a single creed stating a particular view of the cross as orthodox, on this topic more than any other, Christians should feel they have a lot of freedom to reflect and rethink. And I would hope that all would agree that any view which says that God is just, and yet simultaneously claims that God behaves unjustly, is a self-contradictory and irreverent mess which ought to be rethought.
I wonder how many readers of this blog have a particular view of the crucifixion of Jesus, how many interpret it in terms of a theory of atonement, and in the case of the latter, which of the various views of atonement you find most helpful.