here’s a very popular Christian hymn titled, “Are You Washed in the Blood?” It’s catchy enough to be stuck in my head now that I’m writing about it. Here, have a listen:
I used to love this hymn and now I really can’t stand it. The thing I hate about this hymn is that it trivializes the brutal concept of vicarious redemption via the slaughter of an innocent. When I was a Christian I thought it was a great song (and even better when my uncle would sing it because instead of “washed” he would say “warshed”) but when I was a Christian I also didn’t think too much about the concepts being presented. To me, Jesus’ death was simply a gift from my creator because he loved me and wanted me to be with him forever, avoiding the punishment and suffering I deserved, just for having been born. This made perfect sense at the time. Here’s what I missed:
nce you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart, your next step is showing your obedience and symbolizing your rebirth through baptism. The Christian denominations in which I grew up believed that baptism was only valid as a personal decision. Some denominations practice infant baptism or sprinkling, but in the context of what I was taught that practice seems to have no significance whatsoever (except to upset the baby).
The basis for baptism is vague and consists (like most Christian doctrine) of cherry-picked verses scattered throughout the New Testament and inferences from dialog contained therein. This site contains a lengthy discussion on why believers must be baptized and why immersion is necessary. A quick glance tells you right away that the ritual is heavy on symbolism and light on substance. Here’s the gist:
You are “crucified” (standing upright in water), you are “buried” (immersed into the water), and you are “resurrected into life” (raised out of the water).
etting saved through Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit sounds like it would be a really big deal. I mean, the sheer mechanics of opening up one’s heart and having the Holy Spirit move in like a college kid moving into the dorms is difficult to wrap your head around. Oddly enough, Christians seem to think it requires nothing more than the ability to repeat phrases told to you by another person. This applies mainly to children who are too young to formulate a sentence based on the premise that a person died for you thousands of years ago so you won’t go to Hell when you die. It goes something like this:
Heavenly Father, I know that I have sinned against you. I want to be a better person. I believe you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, that you raised him from the dead, and that he hears my prayers. Please forgive me and let Jesus come into my heart and life. I give my life to you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
was indoctrinated into Protestant Christianity from birth and accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior at the ripe old age of four. I don’t remember much about my childhood but I still remember that evening and the place of worship in Panama we called “The Home.” It wasn’t a formal church and I imagine it was more like what you would have seen in the Apostle Paul’s day where believers gathered in homes to praise god together through song and prayer.
A quick aside: on my blog I’ll never capitalize the word “god.” It’s not a proper name. If I use a proper name like Jehovah or Jesus or Allah I’ll capitalize it as per English grammatical rules. However, since I commonly refer to “god” you can assume I’m speaking of the Biblical deity known as Jehovah or Yahweh.
Comments on a recent blog post of mine prompted me to do a thought experiment. Seeing as how the Bible has been fragmented, pieced together, translated, interpreted and altered is there a better way than the written word for god to have disseminated what could be considered the most important information in the history of the world? I think so.
I’m running with the standard model of the Biblical god for this example meaning he is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and omnipresent. He is perfect and unconstrained by time and space. Consider this:
When a child reaches the age of 12 he or she is considered by god to have the capacity to understand the concept of his existence and Jesus’ sacrifice for their eternal salvation. On each child’s 12th birthday, god visits them in a vision. During this vision, the child is locked in a trance state where no stimuli other than god can be experienced. In the vision, god reveals to each child that he’s their Heavenly father, he created them because he loves them, and that they have the choice to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. He reveals this in their native tongue without using parables or vague language. When the vision ends, the child is released from the trance state feeling refreshed.
At this point, the child has the choice to use his or her free will to either accept the vision as truth or reject the vision as a delusion. They have the choice to accept the gift of salvation or reject it as nonsense.
Here’s the rub: the vision is the same no matter the culture, language, or dialect of the child. A child in India can compare their vision to that of a child in Zimbabwe, Chile or Canada and the description will be identical. Some will accept this for the miracle that it is and rejoice. Others will consider it coincidence or mass hysteria and dismiss it out of hand. Others may take years to decide what they think but no matter what the message was clear, concise, and cannot be misinterpreted.
Would that not be (at the very least) a better solution than a vague book full of magical stories and parables? It certainly beats the telephone game of the oral tradition.
Here’s the question: what problems do you see with this approach?