No doctrine is more important to the Christian Church than the doctrine of the vicarious atonement. All evangelical churches maintain that Adam sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit. As a result he did not only become a sinner himself but his sin was imputed to all his posterity. This imputed sin is commonly called original sin. Virtually all Christians passionately believe that all humans who are ever born are consigned to eternal doom on account of this imputed and original sin of Adam. In their view the whole humanity was cut off from God and the only way back to God is through a vicarious atonement. For this very reason Christians urge sinners to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour and to put their trust in his shed blood.
In Christian theology Jesus died to atone for sin and to reconcile the estranged world with his Father. They believe that Jesus, through his shed blood, is the propitiation for sin. The word propitiate means to win over someone who has been offended, to appease. The word appease means to pacify. When Adam allegedly ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - so Christians believe - God became so angry and wrathful that He cursed the whole world on account of Adam’s sin. God could not be pacified nor could He reverse His curse and sentence imposed on Adam and his whole posterity unless an innocent victim paid the penalty which Adam incurred on himself and his whole progeny. Addis & Arnold’s Catholic Dictionary, Art. Original Sin, on pp. 608-609 gives us this pertinent information concerning the so-called original sin:
"Original sin is the sin which WE INHERIT BY NATURAL DESCENT FROM ADAM, our first father. The Council of Trent defines, as of faith, that Adam lost original justice not only for himself BUT ALSO FOR US; that he ‘poured sin, which is the death of the soul, into the whole human race,’ and that this sin comes not by imitation of Adam’s transgression, BUT BY PROPAGATION FROM HIM…In sinning he lost all, as well as for himself AS FOR US. Had he persevered, we should have been born in original justice. As it is WE ARE CONCEIVED AND BORN IN SIN AND THE CHILDREN OF WRATH.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, Art. Sin - Original Sin, on p. 519 says:
“Original sin means that a nexus of sin embraces ALL PEOPLE WITHOUT EXCEPTION…By the trespass of one, sin has entered into the world, and with it condemnation and death. Quite APART from the guilt of individual sins, there is a UNIVERSAL GUILT AND CONDEMNATION IN ADAM OUT OF WHICH NONE CAN CONTRACT AND FROM WHICH THERE CAN BE NO PARDON OR DELIVERENCE EXCEPT IN CHRIST, the second and righteous Adam.”
The same source reference, Vol. 2, Art. Imputation, on pp. 812-813 points out the following:
“…the term “imputation” has been used in theology in a threefold sense to denote the judicial acts of God by which the GUILT OF ADAM’S SIN IS IMPUTED TO HIS POSTERITY…It is not meant that Adam’s sin was personally the sin of his descendants, BUT THAT IT WAS SET TO THEIR ACCOUNT, SO THAT THEY SHARE ITS GUILT AND PENALTY.”
This is the official stance not only of the Roman Catholic Church but actually of all EVANGELICAL CHURCHES. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Art. Sin - Original, on p. 1198 says:
“The doctrine known as Pelagianism denies any necessary connection between the sin of Adam and the character and actions of his descendants. Every human being is by nature as pure as Adam was before his sin…This doctrine is repudiated by all evangelical churches.”
That God imputed Adam’s sin and his guilt and penalty on every single individual born into this world is the most dogmatic and central doctrine of the Christian Church. If you don’t believe in this fable, you are not a Christian but rather a “cultist.” Did you know that this fundamental Christian doctrine does not exempt infants and little children from guilt and hellfire? The early Church Fathers introduced the INFANT BAPTISM precisely because they accepted and believed in the doctrine of the “original sin” and that Adam’s sin and penalty was “imputed” to ALL CHILDREN BORN INTO THE WORLD. Very influential Church Father Irenaeus, who lived in the 2nd century regarded infants as sinful because of Adam. He spoke of infants being “born again” in baptism. African Church Father Tertulian did not only hold that Adam imputed death to all his posterity but that he also infected all his progeny with lust and sordid inclination to sin.
Clement of Alexandria connected physical death and humanity’s curse with Adam’s original sin. Origen, the most learned of the Church Fathers, also expressly taught that the sinful nature and the inclination to sin is inherited from the fallen nature of Adam. Origen referred to infant baptism as the purification rite from Adam’s original sin. He argued that infants committed no sin of their own but only by carnal descent from Adam have they contracted the infection from ancient death. He insisted that infants were not baptised for their own sins but rather for the sin of Adam which they have genetically contracted. Cyprian also maintained that condemnation and the inclination to sin is the result of Adam’s fall. St. Augustine however was the chief exponent of the original sin doctrine and the need for a vicarious atonement. Jesus believed that infants were holy and that the Kingdom of God belong first and foremost to them.
In fact, he argued that unless we become like little infants and receive the Evangel as children - we shall never enter the Kingdom of God. If infants are infected with Adam’s sin and if they share in his guilt and are under Adam’s penalty - how then could God say that the Kingdom of God was actually theirs? Jesus also plainly taught that he came to save only those who were lost and sick. He said that the healthy did not need a physician and that he did not come to call the righteous but only sinners to repentance. According to the Christian doctrine - which is based solely on the teaching of Paul - all have sinned and there are none righteous. But Jesus did not agree with this idea. He insisted that there were righteous people in his time who did not need his teaching, his vicarious atonement, nor his call to repentance. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were just such righteous people whom Jesus did not come to call to repentance. Luke 1:6 says of them:
“And they were both RIGHTEOUS before God, walking in ALL the commandments and ordinances of the Lord BLAMELESS.”
If they have blamelessly observed all the commandments and ordinances of God, then they most certainly did not need Jesus' call to repent. John the Baptist was another such man. His righteousness surpassed the righteousness of any other human being. Jesus himself testified that John was the greatest of all those born of a woman. John was in fact Elijah in the flesh. Elijah was so righteous that he did not see death but was taken up to heaven. John’s righteousness was even greater - since he was greater than Elijah. John was filled with God’s spirit while he was still in his mother’s womb.
If he was infected by Adam’s sin and if God imputed Adam’s sin to John then it follows that an accursed man and a sinner actually baptised Jesus in the river Jordan. To believe so is preposterous. In the Essene Humane Gospel it is abundantly clear that Jesus did not regard all people as sinners nor did he believe that he had to shed his holy blood in order to pacify his own Father and thus reconcile all humanity with God. The text clearly shows that the Essenes did not need his teaching nor his vicarious atonement since they were already righteous - obeying the laws and the commandments of his Father:
“But the Scribes and Pharisees murmured against Jesus’ disciples, saying, why do ye eat and drink with the publicans and evil doers, know ye not better men? But Jesus hearing their complaining said unto them, they who are whole need not a physician, but only they who are ill. Thus, I COME NOT TO CALL THE SAINTS AND RIGHTEOUS, THOSE OF THE HOLY WAY, THE VERY ELECT, BUT I COME TO CALL SINNERS TO REPENTANCE! FOR I TELL YE TRULY, IF ALL WERE AS THE ESSENE BROTHERHOOD, ALL WOULD BE DOING THE WILL OF MY FATHER-MOTHER IN HEAVEN AND ALL WOULD BE WELL.”
Christian theologians - on the basis of the Yahwist source in Genesis - maintain that Adam was created ignorant and that he did not know the difference between GOOD and EVIL. So much so that Adam and Eve are portrayed as those who did not even know that they were in the nude. Only after they allegedly partook of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil did they receive the ability to distinguish RIGHT from WRONG and only then did they realise that they were naked and thus felt embarrassed. Apostle Peter repudiates this idea and argues that Adam knew right from wrong from the very start and that he in fact never ate from the forbidden tree nor did he rebel against Yahweh. Peter’s view is recorded and preserved in the Clementine Homilies:
“He [Adam] himself being the only true prophet, fittingly gave names to each animal, according to the merits of its nature, as having made it. For if he gave a name to any one, that was also the name of that which was made, being given by him who made it. HOW, THEN HAD HE STILL NEED TO PARTAKE OF A TREE, THAT HE MIGHT KNOW WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT IS EVIL, IF HE WAS COMMNADED NOT TO EAT OF IT? But this senseless men believe, who think that a reasonless beast was more powerful than the God who made these things” [Homily 3, ch. 21].
If Adam was ignorant of GOOD and EVIL and could not even tell whether he was dressed or naked until the forbidden fruit allegedly opened his eyes - how then was he able to name all the living creatures and give them appropriate names? If Adam did not know what was GOOD and what EVIL how did he know that no animal that was brought before him was actually suitable to be his wife? How did he know that Eve was suitable for him and how did he know that she was “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones” and that therefore she should be called “Isha” - that is, WOMAN - or MAN WITH A WOMB? If he was ignorant until his eyes were allegedly opened after partaking of the forbidden fruit, how did Adam know that the woman will leave her father and mother and cleave to her husband forming one family? Furthermore, how did Adam know that there were going to be parents and marriage and therefore procreation if he was ignorant - as Christian preachers would want you to believe?
How did Adam know to give appropriate name to his son - Abel - since the name means “grief” and it foreshadowed the tears his parents were to shed over his murder? And, most importantly, if Adam was ignorant and was not able to tell GOOD from EVIL until he supposedly ate from the TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL - how then could God hold Adam responsible and accountable for his transgression? How could just and righteous Creator then impute Adam’s sin which he committed in ignorance and innocence - as a little infant does - to all his progeny? How could God subject all His creation to decay and how could He place the whole cosmos under a curse because of a single sin committed in ignorance? Not only was Adam extremely intelligent who possessed a brilliant mind but his wife was also aware of what was right and what wrong. We are clearly told that she led a conversation with the serpent. We are also told that she was able to appreciate the beauty of the fruit and that the fruit could make her WISE. This clearly tells us that Eve knew the difference between “beauty” and “ugliness” and the difference between “wisdom” and “foolishness.” In the book of Ecclesiasticus - a book which was a part of the Greek Septuagint Bible - from which most of the New Testament quotes are made, we are clearly told that after God created humanity He Himself and not the forbidden fruit actually IMPARTED THEM THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL:
“The Lord fashioned man from the earth, to consign him back to it. He gave them so many days’ determined time, he gave them authority over everything on earth…HE FILLED THEM WITH KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING, AND REVEALED TO THEM GOOD AND EVIL…he set knowledge before them, he endowed them with the law of life. He established an eternal covenant with them, and revealed his judgements to them. Their eyes saw his glorious majesty, and their ears heard the glory of his voice. He said to them, beware of all wrong-doing; he gave each a commandment concerning his neighbour…OVER EACH NATION HE HAS SET A GOVERNOR, BUT ISRAEL IS THE LORD’S PORTION” [Ecclesiasticus 17].
The author of Ecclesiasticus believed - just as Genesis 1 reveals - that God in the beginning did not only create Adam and then later his wife, as the Yahwist source says, but rather that the Almighty crated HUMANITY - males and females - in His own image and set before them His true laws and revealed to them what is RIGHT and what WRONG. He also believed - as did also Moses - that the Almighty created a variety of people and grouped them as “nations” and over each “nation” He appointed a “governor.” Deuteronomy 32:7-9 ascribes these words to the lips of Moses:
“Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generation: ask thy father, and he will shew thee, thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the MOST HIGH divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.”
Here we have a song of antiquity, ascribed to Moses. This division of the nations took place many generations prior to the days of Moses - in fact at the time of creation. The text says that Elyon [Most High] divided the nations “according to the number of the Children of Israel.” The King James Bible and a handful of other English versions follow the reading of the Masoretic text. Many other English versions follow a different Hebrew text which reads
“according to the number of the SONS OF GOD.”
This reading is also supported by some LXX manuscripts, by the version of Symmachus, Old Latin and the scroll from Qumran. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, on p. 584, says:
“the MT erroneously has “sons of Israel,” but the versions [e.g. LXX, Symmachus, Old Latin] and a scroll from Qumran support the reading ‘sons of God’.”
The translators understood the text of Deuteronomy 32:7-9 differently. Those who were influenced by modern monotheism identified Elyon [the Most High] and Yahweh as one and the same Being. James Moffat understood that a “guardian angel” [Moffat Bible] was appointed over every nation except the nation of Israel which was ruled by the Most High personally.
The translators of the Good News Bible understood that “a god” was appointed over each nation by the Most High but that He ruled over Israel personally. The translators of the Living Bible - Life Application Bible understood that “a supervising angel” ruled over each nation while the Most High ruled over Israel directly. The compilers of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia understood that the Most High and Yahweh are two distinct beings and that Yahweh, like all other Sons [Gods] was merely an heir who inherited Israel from his Father Elyon. Please note the comment in Vol. 5, art. Sons of God, on p. 584:
“In Canaanite religion and myth, the term “sons of God” or “sons of the gods” referred to the gods in general. They were the deities of the pantheon who convened to render decisions regarding the governance of the world. Ugaritic mythological texts, e.g., call this divine council “the assembly of the sons of God” [or of El the chief god]…The same usage occurs, at least vestigially, in certain passages in the Hebrew Bible. Dt. 32:8 says that “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bound of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God…In other words, the Most High assigned one of the peoples of the world to each of the divine beings in the council. AS V. 9 INDICATES, YAHWEH’S PORTION WAS ISRAEL. The original notion seems to have been that YAHWEH, God of Israel, STOOD ALONGSIDE THE OTHER NATIONAL GODS IN A COUNCIL PRESIDED OVER BY THE MOST HIGH.”
Many Bible commentators are aware that the sons of “God” - [Most High] were members of the Divine Council which was presided by the Most High. Nelson’s New Bible Dictionary, art. Sons of God, on p. 1194, says:
“The sons of God presented themselves before God in what might be called a HEAVENLY ASSEMBLY.”
The Zondervan NIV Commentary, Vol. 1, on p. 746, says: “The DIVINE COUNCIL is made up of the SONS OF GOD.”
Hasting’s Dictionary Of The Bible, on p. 135, says:
“In a few passages in the Old Testament the term ‘sons of God’ is applied to DIVINE BEINGS, demigods or angels, members of the HEAVENLY COUNCIL…Thus in these cases the ‘children of God’ usually called ‘sons of God,’ were the family of divine beings of whom GOD WAS APPARENTLY THE PHYSICAL FATHER.”
The Oxford Companion To The Bible, on p. 713, says:
“The sons of God are divine members of God’s heavenly assembly.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, art. Sons of God, on p. 584, says: “
SONS OF GOD - divine beings. Just as ‘sons of man’ means human beings in Hebrew, so ‘sons of God’ means divine beings, i.e. gods.”
New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, art. Sons of God, on p. 1133, says:
“In the Old Testament [a] individual of the class ‘god.’ ‘Son’ [Heb. Ben, Aram. Bar] is commonly used in Semitic languages to denote membership of a class, as “son of Israel’ for “Israelite,’ ‘son of might’ for ‘valorous.’ ‘Son of God’ in Heb. means ‘god’ or ‘god-like.”
Did you get that? Just as ‘son of man’ in Hebrew means ‘a human being’ so the term ‘son of God’ means ‘God.’ Just as dogs beget dogs, and men beget men, so does “God” beget “Gods.” In the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, on p. 108, we find this comment in relation to the text of Deuteronomy 32:7-9:
“For “sons of Israel” read “sons of God” with the LXX and QL. The idea is that ELYON, high god of the Canaanite pantheon, assigned each of the 70 nations of the world [Gen. 10] to one of the 70 deities of the pantheon and that Israel had the good fortune to be assigned to Yahweh.”
The “Jewish Christian Sects” commonly called “Essenes/Nazarenes/Ebionites/ did not believe that Adam rebelled against Yahweh by eating from the forbidden fruit. Nor did they believe that Adam was ignorant or created naked. Cardinal Jean Danilou in his book The Theology of Jewish Christianity, on p. 63 states:
“…The general Ebionite view now emerges: there is a succession of prophets who maintain the tradition of the true religion, of whom Moses and Jesus are the chief. In this sense the conception of Adam as a prophet and impeccable is typical, as is also the importance of Moses.”
Cardinal Danilou tells us that the Ebionites regarded Adam as the true Prophet and impeccable. The word impaccable means “without sin - sinless.” The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that the “Jewish Christians” whose leader was James, the brother of Jesus, did not believe that Adam sinned and therefore they did not believe in his fall:
“Similarly discarded were all the passages [of the Jewish Bible] providing for kingship - an institution which they abhorred - all anthropomorphic expressions of God, and unpraiseworthy stories about the representatives of true prophecy, e.g., ADAM’S SIN, Noah’s drunkenness, Abraham and Jacob’s polygamy, etc.” [Art. Jewish Christian Sects, p. 39].
Here we are told that the “Jewish Christians” discarded, that is, rejected as forgeries and interpolations many pericopes of the Bible. Some of these pericopes had to do with ADAM’S SIN AND THE FALL. The Essenes/Nazarenes/Ebionites did not believe in Adam’s fall and they in fact believed and taught that Adam was a true Prophet just like Moses was for example. The Clementine Homilies preserved a saying of Apostle Peter on the subject:
“Assuredly, with good reason, I neither believe anything against God, nor against just men recorded in the law, taking for granted that they are impious imaginations. For, as I am persuaded, NEITHER WAS ADAM A TRANSGRESSOR, who was fashioned by the hands of God; nor was Noah drunken, who was found righteous above all the world; nor did Abraham live with three wives at once, who, on account of his sobriety, was thought worthy of a numerous posterity; nor did Jacob associate with four - of whom two were sisters - who was the father of the twelve tribes, and who intimated the coming of the presence of our Master; nor was Moses a murderer, nor did he learn to judge from an idolatrous priest - he who set forth the law of God to all the world, and for his right judgement has been testified to as a faithful steward” [Homily 2, ch. 52].
Apostle Peter flatly denies and says that he is persuaded that Adam was not a transgressor and therefore he was not responsible for the supposed curse on his progeny. Great scholar Larson also confirms the fact that the Essenes/Ebionites did not believe in the fall of Adam. He points out that the fall and the great change to this world was brought about by the Watchers - the fallen angels who married women and procreated their bastard giant sons:
“It was the basic Essene doctrine that sin did not derive from Adam but from the activities of the fallen angels known as Watchers…Some of the lower angels came to this earth to give instruction…They became degenerate and could no more ascend to heaven. This was the Fall, precisely as we learn in Enoch and Jubilees…This, according to Essene-Ebionite doctrine, was the origin of that DREADFUL IMPIETY, THE EATING OF MEAT. Blood thus shed, polluted the air with noxious vapors; mankind was filled with diseases; and death came prematurely and in agony” [The Essene Heritage].
The Dictionary of Historical Theology, art. Ebionites, on p. 167 points out that the Ebionites rejected Paul’s teaching concerning soteriology and atonement:
“He was the ‘true prophet’ [cf. Deut. 18:15-22], a second Moses, a teacher and reformer…He was not a priest; rather, he came to abolish the sacrificial cultus and to restore the true, spiritual meaning of the Mosaic code. THE PAULINE CONSTRUAL OF THE DEATH OF JESUS AS SACRIFICE WAS THEREFORE WRONG. The name ‘Christ’ was given to Jesus at his baptism, when God adopted him as his messianic prophet. The Ebionites maintained a strong eschatological hope: the Son of Man, transfigured into supra-angelic form, would return in glory. THE TWIN FOCI OF EBIONITE CHRISTOLOGY WERE THUS BAPTISM AND PAROUSIA, NOT INCARNATION AND ATONEMENT.”
The Ebionites emphasised BAPTISM and PAROUSIA, that is, the return of Jesus in glory - while Paul and the Orthodox Christianity emphasised INCARNATION [God in the flesh] and ATONEMENT [human sacrifice in order to appease God]. Man, Myth and Magic - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown, art. St. Paul, on p. 2152 points out:
“He ]Paul] imagines that before a series of world-ages [aiones], of which present is the last, God planned to save mankind from their subjection to the archontes. The plan took the form of deceiving the archontes by sending into the world a PRE-EXISTENT DIVING BEING, designated the ‘LORD OF GLORY’, who was INCARNATED in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Not recognizing his true nature, the archontes crucified Jesus, and thereby forfeited their hold over mankind. The implications of Paul’s brief but pregnant statements were worked out by LATER CHRISTIAN THEOLOGIANS INTO WHAT BECAME THE CLASSIC FORM OF THE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION. Paul thus identified Jesus as the INCARNATION of the ‘LORD OF GLORY’, and he interpreted his crucifixion AS THE CLIMAX OF GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION. He makes the archontes responsible for this crucifixion…By so doing, PAUL TRANSFORMED THE ORIGINAL BELIEF IN JESUS AS THE MESSIAH OF ISRAEL INTO AN ESOTERIC DOCTRINE OF A DIVINE SAVIOUR, WHOSE DEATH HAD DELIVERED MANKIND FROM THEIR ENSLAVEMENT TO THE PLANETARY POWERS.
Such a presentation of Jesus was intelligible to Graeco-Roman society…In thus interpreting Christianity, Paul believed, as we have seen, that he was inspired by God for the salvation of the Gentiles, to whom the ‘gospel to the circumcised’ was both unintelligible and offensive. When, however, THE ORIGINAL JEWISH CHRISTIANS AT JERUSLAEM REALIZED THE NATURE OF PAUL’S TEACHING, THEY WERE SHOCKED AND VIGOROUSLY REPUDIATED IT. THEY REFUSED TO RECOGNIZE PAUL AS AN APOSTLE [HE HAD NEVER BEEN AN ORIGINAL DISCIPLE OF JESUS], AND THEY SENT EMISSARIES TO PAUL’S CONVERTS TO PRESENT THEIR OWN ‘GOSPEL’ AS THE AUTHENTIC VERSION O F FAITH.” The same encyclopedia, art. Jesus, says: “Paul’s gospel can be reconstructed from his epistles. The main outline is that mankind had become enslaved to the demonic powers that ruled the planets. To save humanity from this fatal condition God sent into the world a pre-existent divine being, whom Paul called ‘the Lord of glory’...Paul paid scant regard to the historical circumstances of Jesus’ career; even his crucifixion is ascribed to the demonic powers, with no reference to Pilate and the Jewish authorities. If this was Paul’s gospel, what was the other interpretation of Jesus against which he inveighed so strongly?
The evidence points unmistakably to the ORIGINAL APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES OF JESUS, LOCATED AT JERUSALEM, AS PAUL’S OPPONENTS AND THE PROTAGONISTS OF THE ‘OTHER GOSPEL...Paul in contradiction, taught that Jesus was the incarnation of a divine ‘Lord of glory’. His death had been planned by God, in order to save mankind from their fatal enslavement to the demonic rulers of the world...As soon as the Jewish Christians realized the nature of Paul’s gospel, they repudiated both it and him. They sent emissaries among Paul’s converts, warning them that Paul was not an apostle and that his teaching WAS NOT THE ORIGINAL FORM OF THE FAITH.”
Here we are plainly told that Paul preached a different “gospel” from the one preached by the Twelve and that his view on soteriology different significantly from the one entertained by the Jewish “Christians.” The Roman Catholic professor, John C. Dwyer, in his book Church History: Twenty Centuries of Catholic Christianity, on pp. 27-28 candidly admits that Paul radically reinterpreted the original Evangel preached by the Twelve and that this idea brought him into open conflict with the original Apostles of Jesus.Please note:
“Paul’s importance for the early church is paralleled by his place in the New Testament: more in the New Testament is by or about Paul than is the case for anyone except Jesus himself. Paul began as an outsider who had persecuted the early Christians, but he brought about a radical reinterpretation of Christianity, as it was understood by the OFFICIAL LEADERSHIP OF HIS DAY...This brought him into OPEN CONFLICT with the AUTHORITIES OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY...Paul’s role in the early church raises some serious questions. Paul has been called THE SECOND FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY, and it is not at all inappropriate to ask WHETHER HE REMAINED TRUE TO THE MESSAGE OF THE FIRST FOUNDER - JESUS - OR WHETHER HE RELATIVITIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF JESUS AND TWISTED THE MEANING OF HIS MESSAGE.
Paul encountered embittered opposition in his own day, and in modern times the question has frequently been raised of whether Paul DISTORTED the simple message of Jesus - the message of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man - and warped it into the theory of the ATONEMENT OF AN ANGRY AND VENGEFUL GOD BY A MEANS OF A BLOODY SACRIFICE”.
When we realise that the Essenes/Nazarenes/Ebionites did not believe in Adam’s fall nor that God cursed the universe because of Adam’s alleged sin and rebellion, then it becomes clear that either they and ultimately the Twelve [and especially James, the brother of Jesus,] were propagating the false “gospel” or else Paul and his later Catholic movement were in the wrong. The Catholic scholars candidly admit that the Old Testament Prophets say nothing of Adam’s fall or the need for a bloody atonement. They also frankly admit that the doctrine is traced directly to Paul and not Jesus or the Twelve.
“The Old Testament never asserts that we sinned in Adam, or even inherited sinfulness from him...IN ST. PAUL WE HAVE THE FIRST EXPLICIT STATEMENT OF THE DOCTRINE. It is enough for Catholics to show, as they certainly can, that their belief in the doctrine is due, not to St. Augustine, but to ST. PAUL” [Addis & Arnold’s Catholic Dictionary, pp. 609, 611].
All evangelical and conservative theologians and scholars dogmatically insist that because Adam sinned their angry and wrathful God was furious with him and cursed the whole globe - subjecting every living creature to pain, suffering, misery and death. They also maintain that their God could not be appeased and reconciled with his creation unless a DIVINE BEING DIES and reconciles the world to their God. For this very reason they all maintain that their Jesus was a pre-existent God Being who became Man so that he could shed his blood and appease the wrath of his Father. In the New International Dictionary of the Christian Church on p. 502 under incarnation we find the definition of the Chalcedonian Christology, accepted by virtually all of Christendom:
“To say that Jesus Christ has a divine nature is to say that all the qualities, properties, or attributes by which one describes the order of being pertain to Him. In short, He is GOD HIMSELF, not like God, but just God...He is the God who became a man. HE DID NOT CEASE TO BE GOD WHEN HE BECAME A MAN. He did not exchange divinity for humanity; rather He assumed humanity so that, as a result of the incarnation, HE IS BOTH HUMAN AND DIVINE, THE GOD-MAN. Therefore we can never think of Him as a man, without at the same time thinking of Him AS GOD”.
In a footnote of the Living Bible - Life Application Bible, in reference to verses 1 and 14 of John 1 we read:
“Although Jesus took upon himself full humanity and lived as a man, he never ceased to be the ETERNAL GOD who has ALWAYS EXISTED, who is the creator of the universe...This is the truth about Jesus and the foundation of all truth...When Christ was born, GOD BECAME A MAN. He was not part man and part God; he was COMPLETELY DIVINE.”
The Church of God, Seventh Day states:
“the statement that the Word became flesh is the CORNERSTONE of Christian faith. It says that GOD, THE WORD, BECAME INCARNATE IN A HUMAN PERSON, JESUS CHRIST...When the Word became flesh, GOD became MAN. He became human for a time WITHOUT CEASING TO BE WHAT HE HAD ALWAYS BEEN - GOD” [The Bible Advocate, Sept. 1988].
The reason why the Christian Church insists that their Jesus is ETERNAL GOD is so that they may claim the full PROPITIATION FOR SIN. If “GOD” died for the sin of Adam then there can be no question of forgiveness. But how absurd it is to assume that God was so angry and full of wrath that He had to put Himself to DEATH in the form of the Second Person of the Trinity in order to appease His own anger with His own blood! That God died in order to atone for the sin of Adam is the most plain teaching of the Christian Church. Please note the statement of the Christian theologian by the name of Anselm. He defined the atonement for sin in such a way that the Christian Church gladly embraced it:
“Satisfaction could be made only by one WHO IS BOTH GOD AND MAN, and for this reason GOD BECAME INCARNATE IN JESUS” [Collier’s Encyclopedia, Vol. 13. p. 558].
The Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts on p. 551 explicitly states:
“GOD HIMSELF, in the person of Jesus Christ, was willing to GIVE HIMSELF TO DIE FOR MAN’S SINS. In this way, He bridged the gap that sin had opened between Him and man”.
This statement is the cornerstone of Christianity. It is the most fundamental doctrine. To deny this would mean to suffer eternal condemnation. Isn’t it most unnatural to assume that forgiveness can only be obtained if there is punishment and killing of an innocent victim? How much more monstrous it is to believe that this victim is in fact GOD HIMSELF who punishes Himself and puts Himself to DEATH in order to appease His own wrath! To believe that God actually died in order to be able to forgive His own children and to be able to reconcile Himself with the world is monstrous. But it is much worst to believe that He actually demanded an independent innocent victim - whether an animal or Jesus, as some prefer to believe. Where is justice if God had to take the life of an innocent victim in order to be able to forgive the alleged sin of Adam?
Where is justice and the love of God if He could not forgive sin unless there is SHEDDING OF BLOOD? How absurd it is to believe that eternal life depends on DEATH! But that is exactly what Christians believe. And this belief is the most central belief of all. Christians agree that the victim was needed in order to pay the penalty which Adam allegedly incurred on himself and all his progeny. They however do not agree as to precise reason for this. Origen and Gregory of Nyssa expressly taught that the victim was needed in order to pay the ransom to the Devil. In their view man became the property of Satan after the fall. All Adam’s descendants also became his property. Thus God had to die in order to pay the ransom and set His children free. This doctrine was rebuked and rejected by Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzus in 370 and 390 c.e. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary on pp. 124-125 says:
“A fanciful notion, it is true began to appear at that early period, a notion that afterward obtained some measure of prominence. Christ was regarded as a ransom paid to the devil to redeem men who by their sin had come under the dominion of the devil. This was taught by Origen and more emphatically by Gregory of Nyssa...But it is to remembered that this phase of doctrine was always met with the strongest denial and opposition, as by Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzum. It was never the accepted doctrine of the Christian church...Prominent in the history of the doctrine of the atonement must stand the name of Anslem, a.d. 1100. In his book Cur Deus Homo he brings out most clearly and emphatically the idea of the atonement as satisfaction to DIVINE MAJESTY. He viewed the necessity of atonement as entirely in the JUSTICE OF GOD. He made this term ‘satisfaction’ it has been said, ‘a watchword for all future time’. It is certainly that what is known as the satisfaction theory of the atonement will ever be associated with his name, although this satisfaction theory is not quite the same as that of the Reformers...Chief among the opponents of Anselm was Abelard, a.d. 1141. He referred the atonement wholly to the love of God and taught that there could be nothing in the divine essence that required satisfaction for sin. The death of Christ on the cross was solely an exhibition of DIVINE LOVE...An epoch in the history of the doctrine was reached when Grotius, a.d. 1617, wrote his Difensio fidei Cathol, de Satisfactionare.
He wrote in refutation of the teaching of Socinus, who denied the vicarious character of Christ’s death and the need of any reconciliation of God with man. Grotius held fast to the vicariousness of Christ’s sufferings and used the term satisfaction. But in his view it was a satisfaction to the requirements of moral government and not to the justice that inheres in God Himself. The necessity of the atonement, accordingly, he found not in the nature of God but in the nature of the divine government. The purpose of the atonement is to make it possible to exercise mercy toward fallen and sinful men, and at the same time maintain the dignity of the law, the honor of the Lawgiver, and protect the moral interests of the universe. Grotius thus founded what is known as the rectoral or government theory. The doctrines of Anselm, Abelard, and Grotius represent the principal tendencies of thought and discussion throughout the whole history of the doctrine. Under the treatment of various theologians these doctrines received modification more or less important, but in their leading principles these three forms of teaching have been the most prominent in the theology of the Christian church...
The thought of the Christian church today is divided in its adherence between the satisfaction and governmental theories, these theories appearing in various forms. But no one of these views is free from GRAVE logical objections if held too rigidly and exclusively. Thus the satisfaction theory, if held in the sense that Christ actually BORE THE PUNISHMENT for the sins of men, or that He literally, according to the figure of Anselm, paid the debt of human transgressors after the manner of a commercial transaction, must lead logically to one of or the other of the two extremes - EITHER THAT OF A LIMITED ATONEMENT OR THAT OF A UNIVERSALISM. It tends also to antinomianism, to say nothing of other objections often raised.
The governmental theory, held alone and too boldly, looses sight of the fact that the divine government must be reflection of the divine nature and that what is required by that government must be required also by some quality inherent in God. Further, this theory, if not guarded strongly, and by bringing in, in some form, the idea of satisfaction to divine justice, reduces the death of Christ to a great moral spectacle. It becomes, in fact, another moral influence theory. A strong tendency, accordingly, of the present day is to seek some way of mediating between or uniting the elements of truth found in these various theories. It is certain that the Scriptures do represent the death of Christ as a most affecting manifestation of the love of God. It is certain also that His death is represented as sacrificial and required by the justice of God. And it is equally true that it is often viewed in its relations to divine law and the moral economy that God has established.
And if the earnest attempts of devout thinkers do not succeed wholly in penetrating the mystery of the cross and in bringing the exact meaning of Christ’s death within the compass of their definitions, still it is held as beyond all question that the atonement wrought by Christ is a FUNDAMENTAL FACT IN HUMAN SALVATION, A REAL ‘COVERING’ FOR SIN, THE DIVINELY APPOINTED MEASURE FOR “RECONCILIATION” BETWEEN GOD AND MAN.”
None of these three “theories” - for this is exactly what they are - do actually make any sense. Would God die in order to satisfy and appease His own self? Does it make sense to think that He died in order to pay the ransom to the “Devil”? Did God or the “Devil” have the upper hand? The Law of God is the very character and reflection of God. How then could we think that He died in order to satisfy the norm of the Law without at the same time satisfying the nature of Himself? To think that He had to die because of the Law is to think that He was trapped by His own Law. Just who is greater - the LAW or the LAWGIVER? The simple fact is that God did not die. Neither did Jesus die to appease, satisfy or cool off the wrath of God. Jesus' death was in no way vicarious atonement for the sin of Adam. The father Adam did not rebel against God. He was a great prophet of God. Ellen White - of the Adventist Church - defended the doctrine of vicarious atonement on the basis of her spurious visions. Mrs. White wrote:
“Sorrow filled heaven, as it was realized that man was lost and that world which God had created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness, and death, and there was no way of escape for the offender. THE WHOLE FAMILY OF ADAM MUST DIE. I saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, He is in close converse with His Father. The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communicating with His Father. Three times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time He came out from the Father, His person could be seen. His countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and doubt, and shone with benevolence and loveliness, such as words cannot express. He then made known to the angelic host that a way of escape had been made for lost man.
He told them that HE HAD BEEN PLEADING WITH HIS FATHER, AND HAD OFFERED TO GIVE HIS LIFE A RANSOM, to take the sentence of death upon Himself, that through Him man might find pardon; that through the merits of His blood, and obedience to the law of God, they could have the favor of God and be brought into the beautiful garden and eat the fruit of the tree of life. At first the angels could not rejoice, for their Commander concealed nothing from them, but opened before them the plan of salvation. Jesus told them that He would stand between the WRATH of His FATHER and guilty man, that He would bear iniquity and scorn, and but few would receive Him as the Son of God. Nearly all would hate and reject Him. He would leave all His glory in heaven, appear upon earth as a man, humble himself as a man, become acquainted by His own experience with the various temptations with which man would be beset, that He might know how to succor those who should be tempted; and that finally, after His mission as a teacher would be accomplished, He would be delivered into the hands of men and endure almost every cruelty and suffering that Satan and his angels could inspire wicked men to inflict; that He would die the cruelest of deaths, hung up between the heavens and the earth as a guilty sinner; that He would suffer dreadful hours of agony, which even angels could not look upon, but would veil their faces from the sight. Not merely agony of body would He suffer, but mental agony, that with which bodily suffering could in no wise be compared.
The weight of the sins of the world would be upon Him. He told them He would die and rise again the third day, and would ascend to His Father to intercede for wayward, guilty man. The angles prostrated themselves before Him. They offered their lives. Jesus said to them that He would by His death save many, that the life of an angel COULD NOT PAY THE DEBT. HIS LIFE ALONE COULD BE ACCEPTED OF HIS FATHER AS A RANSOM FOR MAN...With a holy sadness Jesus comforted and cheered the angels and informed them that hereafter those whom He would redeem would be with Him, and that by His death He should ransom many and DESTROY HIM WHO HAD THE POWER OF DEATH. And His Father would give Him the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, and He would possess it forever and ever. Satan and sinners would be destroyed, nevermore to disturb heaven or the purified new earth. Jesus bade the heavenly host be reconciled to the plan that His Father had accepted and rejoice that through His death fallen man could again be exalted to obtain favor with God and enjoy heaven.
Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven. And the heavenly host sang a song of praise and adoration. They touched their harps and sang a note higher than they had done before, for the great mercy and condescension of God in yielding up His dearly Beloved to die for the race of rebels. Praise and adoration were poured forth for the self denial and sacrifice of Jesus; that He would consent to leave the bosom of His Father and choose a life of suffering and anguish, and die an ignominious death to give life to others. Said the angel, “Think ye that the Father yielded up His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no. It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, WHETHER TO LET GUILTY MAN PERISH, OR TO GIVE HIS BELOVED SON TO DIE FOR HIM”. Angels were so interested for man’s salvation that there could be found among them those who would yield their glory and give their life for perishing man, “But”, said my accompanying angel, “that would avail nothing. The TRANSGRESSION WAS SO GREAT THAT AN ANGEL’S LIFE WOULD NOT PAY THE DEBT. NOTHING BUT THE DEATH AND INTERCESSIONS OF HIS SON WOULD PAY THE DEBT AND SAVE LOST MAN FROM HOPELESS SORROW AND MISERY” [The Story of Redemption, pp. 42-45].
Ellen White claims that all this truth was revealed to her in a vision. I however do not accept this vision to have been from God. It simply does not agree with the facts. If I am supposed to accept this vision on the testimony of Ellen White then Adventists should accept the vision of Joseph Smith, the founder of “Mormonism.” They should also accept the vision of Mohammed - the founder of Islam. They however, reject these visions as “spurious” or “hallucinations.” Therefore the same can be said about the visions of Ellen White. Her teachings are based on Pauline Christianity and therefore it could not have been derived from God. When we carefully read the quotation just presented we cannot help but notice the beautiful and lovely character she portrayed of Jesus. He is so loving and gentle that he ignored his own needs - thus he offered himself to be the SACRIFICE which was to stand between the WRATH OF GOD and the FALLEN MAN. The lives of angels were rejected as insufficient to pay the GREAT DEBT.
Only his BLOOD AND INTERCESSIONS could do the job. Where does this place God? He is portrayed as One who is FULL OF WRATH - ready to crush Adam and his wife. And He would have surely done so had it not been for the PROPOSITION OF JESUS. White claims that the RANSOM had to be PAID. He, that is, Satan, who supposedly had the power over death had to be paid the RANSOM so that Adam and some of his descendants could be saved. But I will now prove beyond refute that RANSOM WAS NOT AND COULD NOT HAVE BEEN PAID BY JESUS. Seventh Day Adventists and other Sabbatarian groups who reject the doctrine of immortality of the soul ridicule those who accept it. They claim that those who believe that the penalty Adam incurred through his alleged rebellion was ETERNAL CONDEMNATION IN THE HELLFIRE are still in their sins. They insist that if the PENALTY for Adam’s sin was eternal burning in hellfire then that penalty has not been paid by Jesus who only died the physical death.
Thus if Adam was to be ransomed Jesus should have been IN BLAZING INFERNO FOREVER. Since he only died and then rose from the dead they claim that the immortal concept is a myth and that those who embrace it are still in their sins. But these same Sabbatarians who ridicule other Christians do not realise that their teaching on atonement faces exactly the same problem. If Adam deserved to DIE FOREVER rather than BURN FOREVER they themselves must still be in their sins since Jesus did not and could not have paid the PENALTY ADAM SUPPOSEDLY INCURRED ON HIMSELF AND HIS POSTERITY. In order for Jesus to PAY THE DEBT he must have remained DEAD FOREVER. Since he arose three days later the penalty has not been paid and the Sabbatarians themselves are still lost in their sins. Therefore it becomes obvious that both groups try to CHEAT THE SYSTEM. If Satan demanded the RANSOM he would not have been satisfied with THREE DAYS DEATH - whether the ransom was to be eternal death or eternal punishing. On the other hand, if the ransom was demanded by God in order to APPEASE HIMSELF and bring Him to a state of RECONCILIATION - would He have played a game? Would He have put Himself to death only to bring Himself back to life three days later? Just what would He achieve by doing so?
Now I want you to think of something much more important than this. This fact alone proves beyond refute that Jesus did not die for the sin of Adam. Nor did he die for the sin supposedly inherited from Adam by birth. It is commonly accepted that Adam through his fall CAUSED DEATH TO ALL HUMANITY. Because of one man’s sin all humanity - so it is alleged - were subjected to DEATH PENALTY. This death penalty is supposedly lifted by the DEATH AND BLOOD of Jesus - the perfect innocent victim. If this is so why then, I ask, people continue to die after Jesus shed his blood on Golgotha? If he fully atoned for the sin of Adam and removed the inherited sin through natural generation - why then do infants still die? Why did even Adam die when Jesus supposedly offered himself as a substitute? Since death was immediately introduced upon the descendants of Adam before they were even born or done anything deserving death - why then was not the death also immediately removed? If all were punished because of one man’s sin, then all men should be saved because of one man’s righteousness.
Paul actually accepts this reasoning in 1 Corinthians 15 but elsewhere rejects it. Just what kind of sacrificial atonement was it achieved by God if salvation still depends on the works of man? Even though the PENALTY WAS PAID IN FULL we are still LOST unless we accept JESUS AS PERSONAL SAVIOUR. This of course is another way to say ‘salvation by works.’ To be saved you must BELIEVE, you must be “born again” in baptism, you must live a NEW LIFE, you must not practice the OLD WAY OF LIFE. If you commit sin you MUST REPENT. Christians condemn those who teach salvation by observance of the Law - that is, by works. But they themselves will tell you that if after your new birth you continue to murder, lie, steal, practice sodomy, homosexuality, witchcraft, or do anything else they define as sin - you will end up in the BLAZING INFERNO - burning forever! Isn’t this actually saying that salvation is based on WORKS even though “Jesus” supposedly paid in full the debt you owed?
Even though they tell you that “JESUS DID IT ALL FOR YOU ON THE CROSS” they still have strings attached to the way of salvation. The whole ATONEMENT DOCTRINE is a FARCE. It is ABSURD. It portrays God as a STERN, WRATHFUL AND ANGRY GOD who cannot forgive unless he sees the shed blood. The Christian teaching that forgiveness cannot be obtained WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD is quoted from Hebrews. Please notice the following text:
"This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect WITHOUT BLOOD. When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the BLOOD of CALVES and GOATS together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep’. In the same way, HE SPRINKLED WITH THE BLOOD BOTH THE TABERNACLE AND EVERYTHING USED IN ITS CEREMONIES. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood. AND WITHOUT A SHEDDING OF BLOOD THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS” [Hebrews 9:18-22].
Please compare this text with that of Exodus 24:5-8. When you do so carefully - word for word - you will realise that a number of details do not agree. The Exodus text says nothing of the blood of “goats.” It says nothing of the use of “water, scarlet wool and hyssop.” It states that Moses sprinkled the blood on the ALTAR. The author of Hebrews says that he sprinkled the BOOK of the COVENANT with BLOOD. The words of Moses are different than those in Exodus. But the greatest problem the Hebrew text poses lies in the fact that it claims that Moses sprinkled the TABERNACLE and ALL ITS UTENSILS with BLOOD in order to purify it. Whoever wrote this text was not very much acquainted with the facts written in the Jewish Pentateuch. At the time Moses allegedly killed the young bulls and made the BLOOD COVENANT with the Israelites the TABERNACLE and its UTENSILS were not even in existence as yet. It was constructed some nine months later.
Furthermore, even when the Tabernacle and its utensils were purified LATER it was not done with the BLOOD but rather with OIL. See this fact for yourself in Exodus 40:9-11. The author of Hebrews states that no forgiveness can be obtained UNLESS THE BLOOD IS SHED. But this simply is not true. Even the Jewish Pentateuch in its present form plainly shows that sin could have been forgiven without the shedding of blood. Those who were excessively poor and unable to offer even “young pigeons” obtained the remission of sin by offering a “cereal” offering [Lev. 5:11-13]. Some purification could be obtained through “water” [Lev. 15:10]. Some things are purified with “fire” [Numbers 31:22-23]. On one occasion “gold” made atonement for warriors [Numbers 31:50]. On another occasion “incense” atoned [Numbers 16:46]. Of all methods - WATER and NOT blood is the real cleanser and purifier. Atonement was accomplished not through blood but through prayer and supplication - as we have already seen in chapter 1 of this book. The author of Hebrews was not only wrong about the BLOOD ATONEMENT but he did not even know when ATONEMENT WAS MADE.
He claimed that the High Priest offered a sacrifice on the daily basis in order to ATONE FOR HIS OWN SIN AND THE SIN OF THE NATION [7:27]. This was not true. The High Priest was obligated to offer sacrifice once a year only [Leviticus 16:11-19]. The author of Hebrews also made a great blunder when he claimed that the ALTAR OF INCENSE was located in the HOLY OF HOLIES [9:3-4]. Exodus 30:6 locates it in the HOLY PLACE. If the ALTAR was in the HOLY of HOLIES - to which access was barred to all except the High Priest once a year - how then would have the priests been able to offer daily incense?
In Hebrews we are also told that in the Ark of the Covenant was placed “golden manna jar and Aaron’s budding staff” [9:4]. The Old Testament claims that only ‘Ten Commandments” were deposited in the Ark. How much can you trust the doctrine of atonement taught in Hebrews when the author was ignorant even of the basic facts recorded in the falsified Jewish Pentateuch? Can you believe him and trust him with the complex issues when he was wrong even about the most basic principles of the Tabernacle?