Shedding of Blood and Remission of Sin: more on the idea of transpositions
The Internet provides platforms for every order of discussion and every leaning of persuasion. As one person remarked regarding the new era of Internet opinion open forum, "Here comes everyone." An up and down side of this freedom is the expression of an almost unbelievable range of religious and doctrinal ideas. As one might expect, there are countless attacks against the authenticity and teachings of the Bible. You can easily find innumerable arguments about the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, hell, "thousands of mistakes" in the Bible, and so on. Even within the community of professing Christians there is such a spectrum of disagreement as to leave no wonder at all that we are seen as irrational.
One area on which I have found little to no discussion, is that of the possible metaphysical explanations to biblical mysteries. Of course metaphysics cannot be proven. They are highly speculative. However, they are not entirely speculative, as most people assume they are. Those who understand the benefit of metaphysics, understand that metaphysics must in some essential way demonstrate a strong association with the physics we can prove. In this way, metaphysics can be used to infer a picture of reality beyond our purely objective observation.
It would be fair to ask, since we have the Bible and faith, "Of what benefit are metaphysics?" I believe that much of the confusion about things like hell ("If God is loving..."), could be best explained from a metaphysical point of view; specifically a point of view considerate of what I refer to as transpositions. The idea supposes that essential within God are immutable principles which transpose into physical laws in our time space reality. Thus, if God can only be God, absolute laws cannot be other than we perceive and experience them. This would include both physical and moral laws. I have previously written on the application of transpositions with regard to the questions concerning hell. You will find it in the archives of this same website.
This current article touches on another biblical puzzle, namely the idea of the need of a blood sacrifice for the remission of sin. Again, the reader will understand that nothing can be proved by this exercise. But it may open reasonable lines of thought that could come in handy if or when one desires an explanation other than the leap of faith. You never know. Some day your mission field could require it. With that said, I will begin.
"For without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin." Hebrews 9:22
From the first account of sin in the Garden of Eden, cleansing has required or been associated with the sacrifice of innocent blood. Remarkably, the connection between the shedding of innocent blood and the appeasing of gods has through history been almost universally acknowledged in theistic and polytheistic religions. In many pagan religions of earlier times, human sacrifice was a common practice. Human sacrifice may still be practiced in some form in isolated areas. In the Hebrew tradition, human life was held sacred, and the shedding of animal blood was sufficient for remission. As Christians, we understand that the sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament was meaningful only as an act of faith, pointing toward the coming of the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus, whose blood truly would save men from their sins.
I have always found this association curious, as I’m sure many have. And although for most Christians it is enough that the word of God establishes it to be fundamental, and although understanding more about why it is so has nothing to do with the fact that it is so, I still find the exploration, the contemplation too alluring to resist. For the analytical mind, there is no rest until an explanation is at least attempted. "The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects." (Thomas Aquinas)
We recall that in the Garden of Gethsemane, our LORD prays to the Father, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” (Mathew 26:39) Let us agree that this had to do with more than simply physical pain. Most likely, it had more to do with that moment when all the sin of man is put upon the true Lamb, and the Father, pursuant to His essential nature, must turn away. However, it also certainly had to do with the shedding of Christ’s righteous blood. "By His blood we are healed." Why would it be, how could it be, that the blood of the Lamb is essential to the remission of sin?
In my thinking, this very possibly has to do with a transposition from metaphysical to physical, such as I suggested in the article “Thoughts on Hell.” This follows from the idea that creation has been an unfolding of divine nature; nature is God’s nature. Dr Gerald Schroeder, The Science of God,
speaks of creation as a “tzimtzum,” or birth process, which is a very similar idea. It seems to me that we are otherwise subscribing to a “God” who makes no sense to us, demonstrates no particular continuity between His essential being, and His works or ways. Such an idea of God raises all kinds of questions and answers none. But this is not necessary if we consider that God must always be God. Therefore, what God does
in our temporal experience is a natural unfolding of what and who God is
. And so, the question is “what within the essential being of God accounts for the necessity of blood being shed for the remission of sin?”
We might suppose that there is immanent within Gods eternal being, something that functions like a mechanism to release all that we the redeemed associate with Father God, all the glory and benefit we associate with the work of the cross; which is certainly beyond measure. We could also imagine such a release to be a constant state; as it likely would be if God's nature is constant, unchanging.
It is important here to talk just a bit about the cross; that is, to develop the person of Christ. We must establish Christ as being present at the time of creation. In John chapter 1 it is stated, “The Word was with God and the Word was God…All things were made by Him.” Here we find the Word said to be One with God, and referred to as "Him." A good many Christians will say this places Jesus at the scene of creation. To point out that this view is not necessarily sound may be splitting hairs; a difference that makes no difference is not a difference. After all, Christ is none other than Jesus, and Jesus is none other than Christ. However, I personally would stop short, and say only that Christ was most certainly there as the creative "Word" In my thinking, the Word had not yet been "made flesh." Furthermore, this clears the way for the Word, the Christ part of God,
to appear in other forms at earlier times: perhaps, for example, as Melchizedek, the King of Salem (many believe); also, the LORD who met with Abraham (Genesis 18-19)
So then, what do I mean by “Christ”? I mean that part of God that is man-ward. This would include, as I have suggested above, every part of God that had to do with the creation of man, all that had to do with salvation, all that had to do with fellowship, the “commutable attributes” of Exodus 33:19 ( The Goodness of God), the fruit of the Spirit and so forth. You might well ask, “Is anything left?” What is left, I believe, would kill us; we could not stand before the face of God were it not for Christ. And so this mechanism I speak of would, if you will allow, release within God that essential part we refer to as Christ, and who is now our savior, Jesus the Christ. I have said it this way, The Christ part of God is what made Jesus inevitable.
Perhaps, the first time we get a glimpse of this mechanism in action is “In the beginning.” I am inclined to think so; creation is certainly the work of the Christ part of God. For it is man-ward in that as it seems to suggest a work of love, grace, mercy, harmony and so on. In fact, the more we consider such a mechanism that releases Christ, the more clear it becomes that we have never known God apart from it. And perhaps, apart from the Christ, God is unknowable to man. (The Christlike God,
John V Taylor)
Now let us also suppose that this mechanism acts in the essential being of God much as an immune system. Of course, God cannot die, or get sick, as we do. But it is possible that God, being self-defined, remains so because the mechanism (immune system) we are supposing is also the system of self-definition. In a sense, this is what our immune system does for us. It defines the parameters and principles of how our bodies should properly function. In other words, God must be the God He has proven to be, or He would not be God at all. The idea of the Divine’s Essence including something of an immune system is not so outlandish, if we think of creation as an unfolding of God’s nature and remark that every living thing has a form of immune system. In fact, some years ago I was thinking of how the immune system works (by quarantining alien bodies) in comparison to how salvation might work on sin, and in connection with the phrase from Psalm 68:18, “…led captivity captive.” But that is another discussion.
And now, let us finally suppose that sin is the one thing that God must be immune to. A simple way of saying this, that we will all be comfortable with, is that God cannot abide that which opposes Him. This is simply because it contradicts His nature. Think of laws of physics. Take the properties of water, for example. Due to gravity, water by nature flows from high point to low point, never the reverse. So rivers flow downhill. Anything that stands in the path of the downward flow of the water gets beat upon or washed downstream. Is that because the water has a thing about seeking out and pushing against objects? No. Water’s nature decrees that it must push against all that stands in its path. God’s nature decrees that God cannot countenance sin. We don't need to talk about what sin is in this article. For now you can think of it as anything that resists God.
I began by suggesting that the connection between the shedding of blood and the remission of sin, may be one of a natural transposition from a metaphysical reality pertinent to the essential being of God to the temporal plane of physical creation. Such a transposition would perhaps act something like this: In the metaphysical being of God, something like what we experience here as an immune system rises up against sin. As I stated earlier, this is likely a constant state; that is immaterial. This something releases, or exposes what we experience here on the temporal plane as grace, forgiveness, love etc.. In a word, Christ
. Why these and other virtues? Because they are the essence of God, just as Christ is the essence of God. They are the definers of God. When whatever that mechanism is rises or is exposed in the being of God, it is simultaneously transposed here, on the temporal plane, as a supreme sacrifice - specifically, the shedding of the blood of Jesus.
As to why, according to this line of reasoning, aspects of God's nature would transpose into pain I have no answer. It does, however, seem to fit a pattern. The only real death in God's eyes is spiritual death. What we otherwise consider death, God refers to as sleep. And so, "the evening and the morning" are the order of the day; joy follows sorrow "in the morning"; spring follows from the "dead of winter"; Eve follows from Adam's deep sleep; and the church is born out of the death and resurrection of Christ. Suffering seems to be the only path to life and wholeness. I am not personally put off by the idea of a suffering God. If God does not suffer I have a difficult time understanding why Jesus should have to die to redeem mankind; why Eve had to be torn from Adam's side. or why there is pain at all in creation. I believe there is truth in the phrase creation was abdication.
The God who suffers with us and infinitely for us is also capable of loving infinitely. That is the only way I can make sense of the need for shedding of innocent blood. It must be that there can be no other way.
This is the present extent of my exploration of the matter. If what I am saying here has any truth to it, or if it does not, it makes no difference to the doctrine of salvation. However, in my thinking, considering it in this way we can at least begin to consider the connection between Christ’s shed blood and the remission of sin as possibly something other than the an inexplicable oddity of divine whim, or caprice. Instead, we can view it as an immutable association based on a principle certainly beyond our full understanding, yet immanent within the very person and nature the God who has made Himself known to us; a principle that God cannot change (for God must always be God), and that could only unfold one way in the process of creation. And so, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the assumed reply to the request, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” was that there is no other way.
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