The central tenants and doctrines of Christianity are severely flawed, but there just might be one theological statute that takes the cake as the most blatantly immoral – vicarious redemption. Christopher Hitchens says it best (as usual), and I’ve posted the video below.
What is vicarious redemption? The concept is that a person can throw their sins onto someone else. Vicarious redemption means that the actual sin, the responsibility, the guilt, the spiritual presence of a wrong-doing, can somehow be thrust upon another person, and the sinner is then completely redeemed and made clean. This does not just mean the person receiving the sin (Jesus, in this case) will just pay our debt (serve the sentence, in other words, which in and of itself is unjust – *see side-note below video).
Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. I believe I can safely say that the majority of civilized humans can agree on that. There are many kinds of forgiveness depending on whether or not the victim wants to try to forgive and forget, forgive but still end the relationship, or whether or not the perpetrator has asked forgiveness, etc. Many different scenarios are possible, but the fact remains that the accountability for the action is still on the perpetrator. The pain the act caused, the lives the act affected, and the lingering effects on the remainder of the person’s life are still a reality. The sin hasn’t just disappeared – but forgiveness is still an option, and a beautiful option at that. Many times in life, forgiveness is all we have. It’s the only way to heal note only the perpetrator, but for the victim to heal and let go.
But, the sole purpose of the crucifixion was not just to forgive – forgiveness could have happened without a human sacrifice. The reason Jesus’ death is so important to Christians is that they believe it was necessary in order for the debt to be paid (somebody’s gotta pay, who’s it gonna be?), in order for Jesus to actually absorb the sins of the world, take away the responsibility from the world, and thrust it upon himself. To wash us all clean by himself bearing our sins. Christians want to believe that Jesus’ death will completely exonerate them of all wrong-doing, and become “like Jesus” in Heaven.
And vicarious redemption, they say, is the only salvation we have – the only thing that will keep us safe from the fires of Hell.
It’s late – let’s listen to Hitchens put it so eloquently…
Side-note: Vicarious redemption is also unhealthy for the sinner since the resultant unresolved guilt will linger, as they know an innocent person paid the price for their mistakes. Even after redeemed of their sins, guilt will still remain in some form.