Symbolism of the cross.

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Elijah John
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Symbolism of the cross.

Post #1

Post by Elijah John »

For those of us who reject the notion that Jesus died to "pay for" our sins, does the story of the crucifixion and resurrection have any value, symbolically?

Paul's interpretation was that Jesus death was a blood-atonement. But that's just it, his was an interpretation. No matter that the Church and millions of Christians take that interpretation as "Gospel" it is still an interpretation.

Even if Jesus didn't actually rise from the dead, it's a good story, isn't it. After all, here we have a disgraced, failed apocalyptic prophet executed at the hands of the mighty Roman empire. Yet, God vindicates Jesus, and makes him triumphant in his resurrection and ascension. "Christ" lives on in the hearts of millions as their Lord and Savior, even as the Roman empire has fallen.

As a Theistic skeptic, what I derive from this story is this. God favors the lowly of the world, and the world's values are not God's values. The cross is a symbol of ultimate triumph of the oppressed and downtrodden. That interpretation is in line with the teachings of Synoptic Jesus (Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" etc) and even with some of the teachings of Paul. ("God chooses the weak to shame the strong" or words to that effect)

Also, I see Jesus death as a martyrdom. He died for his beliefs and for his devotion to God as he understood Him. And God vindicated that devotion by raising Jesus from the dead. (in one way, or another)

That is how I find meaning in the story of the crucifixion and the resurrection. How about you? Beyond blood-redemption, do you (even as a dissenter from orthodoxy or even as an atheist) find any value in the story of the crucifixion and resurrection? Whether or not it actually happened?
My theological positions:

-God created us in His image, not the other way around.
-The Bible is redeemed by it's good parts.
-Pure monotheism, simple repentance.
-YHVH is LORD
-The real Jesus is not God, the real YHVH is not a monster.
-Eternal life is a gift from the Living God.
-Keep the Commandments, keep your salvation.
-I have accepted YHVH as my Heavenly Father, LORD and Savior.

I am inspired by Jesus to worship none but YHVH, and to serve only Him.

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Post #31

Post by brianbbs67 »

Elijah John wrote:
brianbbs67 wrote: Its a story of being redeemed because of faithful belief. That belief is in God. Christ did die for others who followed him and maybe future ones too. He also encourage critical thinking. IE, why do we believe what we are told? I believe he was a great prophet(I do not know if he was God incarnate). He described himself as the Son of man. I , too, was baptized in his and the Father's name. Like the earlier prophets, he was rejected and killed by Judah, for the same reason. He pointed out their misuse of the law and constructing their own and deeming it equal. He called us back to God. At this point in time, neither the pharisees or sadducees were willing to admit fault and lose their power.

So, this an epic story even if a fable. I don't believe it all is, personally. Men have modified this NT a lot. But, its basic tenants still show. The same is true of the Tanakh. I can't seem to recall God commanding the entire work be made and therefore inerring. He did have Moses write down 10 commands. And then 603 more, so it seems, after the Isrealites complained of the 10.
The Ten seem pretty universal. Jews say the Sabbath law does not apply to "the Nations". (Gentiles) Some of the 603 are related to the governace of Moses theocracy. Others, to ritual sacrifice. Many are obsolete, their Divine origin suspect.

The movie is entitled "The Greatest Story Ever Told." I think it does work as a story, at the very least.
Its true these laws were given to the Hebrews. The Sabbath one of the ten seems to be universal and the return of the lost , whether Hebrew or alien are all taught to obey the same. God did repeat thru and to His prophets , that He desired mercy not sacrifice. i realize that Christianity made up its liturgy. I have heard that "its ok, so did the Jews."

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Re: Symbolism of the cross.

Post #32

Post by brunumb »

[Replying to post 25 by Elijah John]
That is a dishonest representation of my positon. I DIDN"T SAY THAT! Please re-read my last post to Tcg. What I do object to are those who do not want to contribute attempting to derail this thread, and arguing about process and not content.
My apologies. I worded it badly and really didn't mean exactly what I said. I won't try to elaborate as it just might make things worse.

You mentioned the vindication of the resurrection. I don't see that it makes up for what has gone before. The countless other people who have sacrificed their lives weren't afforded that vindication. What is more, acts like throwing oneself on a grenade to save others means more to me than a preacher getting himself executed, almost accidentally, and subsequently having it elevated as a noble act. It is very probable that my view of it all is coloured by the fact that I believe it to be a fabrication for propaganda purposes.

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Re: Symbolism of the cross.

Post #33

Post by Tcg »

Elijah John wrote:
Tcg wrote:
Elijah John wrote:
Tcg wrote:
Elijah John wrote:
Can't we derive inspiration from a story, even if it didn't really "happen"? If the resurrection was myth?
I thought your inquiry was to individuals. Given that, I answered for myself, not for "us".

Obviously some people derive inspiration from the story. As my earlier reply revealed, I am not one of them.
Fair enough. Perhaps I should have said "can one derive.." as opposed to "can we derive..."
I don't see how that would have made any difference. We have already seen that some can. If some can, then one could.

It doesn't provide the least bit of inspiration to me.

Once again, I thought that answers the question the OP asks.

Unless it wasn't really a question and you simply want everyone who replies to state that it's a great story.

If that was your goal, I've ruined it I suppose.

In any case, my answer couldn't be clearer and I answered it in good faith.

I suppose you could phrase it a third way (or would it be a fourth way), but I'll answer it the same honest way I did the first time.
Again, fair enough. I get it, you don't derive anything from the story. I don't mind anyone saying that, but it would be nice to elaborate a little, or else why bother to post on the thread?
I did with my very first post.

Given that you keep asking the same question, but phrasing it differently, my original elaboration still applies and my answer based on that elaboration hasn't changed.

Each time I posted, including the first time, was to answer a question you asked or to address a reply directed at me. That is why I bothered to post on this thread.

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Re: Symbolism of the cross.

Post #34

Post by Tcg »

Elijah John wrote:
But much to my disappointment, (with some wonderful exceptions) I have been finding there are as many literal minded atheists as there are literal minded fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. Something is either true or false, with all too many. Categorical, black and white thinking infects the non-Theist, as often as it does the Theist. Two sides of the same dogmatic coin.
You conclude all this from the consideration of one single topic?

That's a rather broad conclusion from one single consideration is it not?

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Re: Symbolism of the cross.

Post #35

Post by showme »

[Replying to post 1 by Elijah John]

With respect to the symbolism of the cross, the cross is the symbol given to the beast, Constantine, by the dragon/devil/Sol Invictus at the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. This can be confirmed by the coin minted by Constantine in 313 AD. By that symbol, Constantine was to "go out and conquer". That is the symbol used by the Roman church to conquer, such as in the Americas in converting the Indians by way of the blunderbuss, under the banner of the cross carried by the Spanish padres.

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Jesus was crucified for insurrection against Rome

Post #36

Post by polonius »

Elijah John posted
For those of us who reject the notion that Jesus died to "pay for" our sins, does the story of the crucifixion and resurrection have any value, symbolically?

Paul's interpretation was that Jesus death was a blood-atonement. But that's just it, his was an interpretation. No matter that the Church and millions of Christians take that interpretation as "Gospel" it is still an interpretation.
RESPONSE:
Jesus and the two others crucified with were executed as insurrectionist.

Jewish belief about the messiah:
“The mashiach (messiah) will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). The mashiach is often referred to as "mashiach ben David" (mashiach, son of David). He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15). But above all, he will be a human being, not a god, demi-god or other supernatural being.�

And he would return the rule to Israel . The Romans rarely crucified criminals, but in the case of a insurrectionist, crucifixion was the penalty. The charge sheet on Jesus' cross said mockingly, “King of the Jews.�

“Paying for our sins� was Paul’s rationalization to avoid the embarrassing facts.

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Post #37

Post by Wootah »

[quote="StuartJ

And now we have the expected "I'm offended" dodge.

I will indeed excuse myself from further participation.[/quote]

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Hi StuartJ

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Re: Symbolism of the cross.

Post #38

Post by shnarkle »

[Replying to post 1 by Elijah John]

For those of us who reject the notion that Jesus died to "pay for" our sins, does the story of the crucifixion and resurrection have any value, symbolically?
I think there is a growing number of Christians today that view "pay for" sin in a different light than most traditional Christians do. Some may look at it symbolically, but there are also those who look at it as "the way", not just for Christ to show us the way to reconciliation, but to point out that there simply is the way, and that his voluntary self sacrifice is the most potent illustration of what he was teaching.
Paul's interpretation was that Jesus death was a blood-atonement. But that's just it, his was an interpretation. No matter that the Church and millions of Christians take that interpretation as "Gospel" it is still an interpretation.
Perhaps, but it is an interpretation that is not without significant merit. The law stipulates that an unblemished lamb is the only one that qualifies for sacrifice, and Jesus was an innocent man who the Mosaic law points out is cursed if they be hung on a tree. There has to be some meaning to it. One can't just sit back and accept the slaughter of a completely innocent human being as some freak absurdity of God's law. It plainly states that whoever is hung upon a tree is cursed, and Paul looks at the crucifixion, and necessarily must find an explanation, and he finds it within not just the Mosaic law, but Christ's own teachings within the context of that same law.
Even if Jesus didn't actually rise from the dead, it's a good story, isn't it. After all, here we have a disgraced, failed apocalyptic prophet executed at the hands of the mighty Roman empire.
Failed and disgraced by your interpretation, yet not those of the gospels or Paul. John sees Christ glorified in the crucifixion itself. His judgement upon Jerusalem is hardly what most would consider failed prophecy; at least within the context itself.
Yet, God vindicates Jesus, and makes him triumphant in his resurrection and ascension. "Christ" lives on in the hearts of millions as their Lord and Savior, even as the Roman empire has fallen.
This is the explicit idea in John's gospel when Christ prays that he be in them as the father is in him..etc., but John also see's Christ vindicated on the cross itself.
As a Theistic skeptic, what I derive from this story is this. God favors the lowly of the world, and the world's values are not God's values. The cross is a symbol of ultimate triumph of the oppressed and downtrodden. That interpretation is in line with the teachings of Synoptic Jesus (Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" etc) and even with some of the teachings of Paul. ("God chooses the weak to shame the strong" or words to that effect)

Also, I see Jesus death as a martyrdom. He died for his beliefs and for his devotion to God as he understood Him. And God vindicated that devotion by raising Jesus from the dead. (in one way, or another)

That is how I find meaning in the story of the crucifixion and the resurrection. How about you? Beyond blood-redemption, do you (even as a dissenter from orthodoxy or even as an atheist) find any value in the story of the crucifixion and resurrection? Whether or not it actually happened?
The teachings are clearly illustrated by the gospel narratives themselves. The fact that the gospel of John is referred to as "the signs gospel" by scholars should indicate the fact that the so-called miracles aren't meant to be taken literally. They point to the greater reality of life which is that life doesn't consist in the things of the world, but in denying the illusion of our separate identities as real. It's a pervasive theme, one which most so-called believers tend to ignore, and perhaps for good reason given that no one wants to let go of their illusions of all the things they think they own. These things tend to give people a sense of self esteem or self worth especially in the eyes of others. That in and of itself is an abomination according to Christ's teachings.

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Re: Symbolism of the cross.

Post #39

Post by shnarkle »

[Replying to post 4 by Divine Insight]
According to the Gospel rumors Jesus was not crucified by "the mighty Roman empire".

To the contrary, the Gospel rumors have Pontius Pliate exonerating Jesus of any wrong doing and repeating many times that he finds no fault in him. He also publicly washes his hands of the whole affair and tells that Jewish Chief Priests, "ye see to it".

So it's not the Gospel narrative that Jesus was executed by "the mighty Roman empire".

According to the Gospels Jesus was crucified by demand of the Jewish Chief Priests who had supposedly incited a mob of Jews to call for the crucifixion of Christ.
And yet the tale points out that the chief priests didn't then take Jesus to be stoned which would have been according to their own law, but instead utilized the Roman method of crucifixion which only Rome had the authority to carry out. Technically, Israel's leaders had no authority to carry out capital punishment, and this is precisely what we see in the narratives. So contrary to these ideas that what we're dealing with here is a "rumor", it stands to reason that these narratives are actually quite historically accurate, even if they're nothing more than fictional accounts.

As a people occupied by a foreign empire, they were obliged to turn in traitors to Rome. This doesn't then make them the instrument, but merely shows their zeal in cooperating with their oppressors.

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Re: Symbolism of the cross.

Post #40

Post by shnarkle »

[Replying to post 5 by Divine Insight]
I see a major problem with all of this... there still shouldn't be any ambiguity in God's message in all of these cases.
Just becuase one's interpretation leads to ambiguity doesn't mean that there is ambiguity in the message itself. As the authors point out themselves, not everyone is supposed to get the message in the first place.
The fact, that it's not clear and that no one can agree on what the meaning might have been only suggests that there is no omnipotent God behind Jesus in any case.
One could make the same argument for theories such as gravity, evolution, quantum physics, etc., and conclude that there is no merit to them in any case. Just because someone disagrees with it, doesn't make it false.
Therefore the stories of Jesus having anything to do with any God in any capacity (even as a mere prophet) must all necessarily be false.
Therefore these theories must be false as well.

The argument from ignorance doesn't work with either scenario.

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