Saturday, April 7, 2012

Washing Off Jesus' Blood

Well, it is Easter weekend, the most important weekend for many who call themselves Christians. Christmas is important, but to many Easter is where the really important work took place. I grew up going to Good Friday services, and then services on Easter Morning, sometimes at sunrise. On Friday I was sullen and guilt-ridden, believing that it was my sin and wrong-doings that put Jesus on the cross. There were dramatic presentation in church, where "centurions" would lead a half-naked Jesus down the centre aisle, complete with fake blood. It was very effective. I sat in my pew bawling.

We sang songs such as Nothing But The Blood, which contains lyrics such as:

Nothing can for sin atone, nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Then there was the song There's Power In The Blood:

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There's pow'r in the blood, pow'r in the blood;
Come for a cleansing from Calvary's tide;
There's wonderful pow'r in the blood.

Finally, There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood:

There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged benearth that flood lose all their guilty stains.

Somehow many Christians go to great lengths to make sure that their children aren't exposed to violent movies, but when it comes to Jesus' blood, bring it on. I'm surprised I didn't have even more nightmares than I did when I was a child.

Easter morning was a  much more happier occasion, with songs like Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.

What once came naturally, namely the blood atonement for my sins, now frankly seems grotesque, bizarre, and unneeded. As most reading this will know, I left fundamentalist Christianity about 10 years ago, and no longer believe that humans are originally sinful. Therefore we are no longer in need of an atoning sacrifice. The idea of "bathing in the blood of Jesus" or "standing underneath "the fount of Jesus' blood" not only seems unnecessary, but grotesque and kind of bizarre.

So if Jesus is no longer my Saviour, the atonement for my sins, this must mean that I completely reject Jesus, correct? Wrong. I believe that the atonement and his "saving blood" are theological suppositions placed onto the person of Jesus hundreds of years ago and I no longer believe in those suppositions. But the example that Jesus provided - helping the sick, being merciful, caring for the poor, the power of humility - these are things that I can definitely still get behind. There are many Christians worldwide who also do not believe in the substitutionary atonement; this should be remembered. 

On this Easter weekend, I thought I would share a quote from retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong:

"Easter with is story of the resurrection can also be transformed, I believe, and carried with us into a postexilic future. Yet before that is possible, the miracles of physical resuscitation, the angels who roll stones away from tombs, and the bodies that appear out of nothing and disappear into thin air must be dismissed for the developed legends that they are. But life that transcends every human limit is a powerful portrait. Death, which opens all things to new possibilities; love, which triumphs over hatred; being, which overcomes nonbeing - those are truths to which Easter points, and those are the truths that emerge when God is met on the edges and at the limits of our finite humanity. That is what the stories of the resurrection are all about."