"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Voltaire, "A Bloody Religion", and Life vs. Death

Voltaire once criticized Christianity as a “bloody religion."

The French philosopher felt Christians placed too much emphasis on blood, particularly the bloody death of its founder, Jesus Christ. 

Many, like Voltaire, who read or hear the word "blood" only think of the red internal liquid of the human body. And thus, Christianity is called "a bloody religion."

Those who deem Christianity "bloody" misunderstand the significance of blood. In the Bible, blood is used as a synonym for life, and the loss of blood as a synonym for death. 

For example:
"For life... is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11)
"Without the shedding of blood (ie, loss of life), there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrews 9:22).
In the Old Covenant, the blood of the sacrificial animals played a prominent role in Jewish worship. 

From the priest dipping his fingers into the blood and sprinkling it on the ground and the altar to the various instructions for the use of the blood according to the kind of sacrifice being offered, blood was a predominant theme. 

However, there was no magic in the blood of the sacrificial animals, and there is no magic in the blood of Jesus Christ

The blood represents life, and the loss of blood represents death.

When Christians sing songs like Nothing But the Blood, or Are You Washed in the Blood?  or Oh, the Blood of Jesus, and There Is Power In the Blood, the thought processes of the worshipper often wrongly move toward the red liquid plasma in the body of Christ. 

We should be considering the death of Jesus Christ, not the red blood cells of our Savior. The shedding of Christ's blood is simply a synonym for His death. God, in His love for us, sent His Son to die in our place. 

It is not the actual blood of Jesus that saves us, it is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ - conquering death for sinners - that saves us from the punishment of sin, which is death.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried,that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (I Corinthians 15:3).
Christ died willingly (voluntary). No man took His life, He laid it down for us (John 10:18). 

Christ died and took the punishment for sin (penal). The word penal, as in 'the penal system,' means "punishment" for offenders. 
"God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:25-28). 
Christ died as a Substitute for us, the real sinners (substitutionary). 
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21). 
God punished the Son He loves with death so that He might remove the punishment of death for those who love His Son. He gives to those who embrace Christ the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). 

Because the emphasis in Scripture is on God providing His Son to die for sinners, salvation from God's punishment is called "salvation by grace."

Sinners who believe in Christ "gain approval with God by faith" (Hebrews 11:39). 


Accountability to the Creator

Ultimately, the problem skeptics have with Christianity is the idea that God holds people accountable for their sins--or maybe to drill down even further--that there is even such a thing as sin.

 Yet, it is clear from logic and the logos (the Word) that God, that the righteous Judge of the universe, punishes those who hate Him and harm others with death. 

What kind of judge would He be if He didn't?

Yet, God's punishment is not arbitrary or capricious. He is holy and righteous in all His actions. The punishment will always match the crime. 

This is why Scripture declares that the sentenced pronounced by God for sinners varies according to one's sin (Matthew 10:15), but the end of all sinners is ultimately a death (Proverbs 14:12), called "the second death" (Revelation 21:8) because it is different from the first death in that there is no resurrection - it is a final punishment. 

John Stott came to the conviction that the judgment of God for sinners is always temporal and the ultimate punishment from God for sinners is eternal (eternal death). Stott believed God righteously judges sinners according to their sins, meting out sentences of judgment in various degrees and lengths, but in the end, every sinner experiences the second death. 

I am convinced that Scripture teaches eternal punishment (death), not eternal punishing (torment). The punishment is eternal; the punishing is temporal. There is a difference. 

On the other hand, all the riches of God's grace are the possession of every believer in Christ. 

Christ died for our sins. He rose for our justification. 

All the rewards of Christ are ours because of His active obedience (His life) and His passive obedience (His death). 

As those who trust in the work of Christ, we become co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). 

So the next time you sing about the blood, reflect on what it is that you are actually singing. The emphasis in Scripture is not on the red corpuscles in the body of Jesus as if they possess some magical powers...

The blood of Jesus Christ is His death.

There is a difference between literalism and a belief in the infallible, life-giving Word of God. 

Wise is the one who understands the difference.

27 comments:

Alaskan in Texas said...

I think you are white washing the presentation of blood, at least as it is presented in the Old Testament. I agree that blood in the Bible is metaphorical for life and death, it is pretty clear that Old Testament authors intended blood, the actual liquid plasma, to be literally and liberally used in the cultic practices of the Hebrews. One cannot read passages such as, just for limited examples, Exodus 28-29 or virtually all of Leviticus without witnessing very bloody scenes of literal red plasma being sprinkled, displayed, and drained. In just those passages, we see priests dabbing blood on their ear lobes and right-hand thumb, sprinkling blood on each other's linen clothes, smearing blood on the horns and base of the altar, and slaughtering young bulls, making sure their blood drains completely out of the carcass, directing the flow of it along the side the altar. I doubt that at that time the Hebrew people were thinking about all that blood metaphorically as we do today. I think most historical sources will agree that the Israelites of that time did, in fact, believe in, as you put it, the "magical" qualities of literal blood. In other words, I think sacrificial blood during the Iron Age was thought of much differently by the early Hebrews than 21st-Century American Christians do as they read about it during church services.

Christiane said...

glad for the mention of John Stott in this post, Wade, as I find him a fascinating individual in how he related to the whole Church

John Stott's extension of 'evangelicalism' into a deeper understanding of 'the mercy of God' and 'Who is my neighbor?' are, for me, something I can relate to,
even though I may not come to the same conclusions he held,
but I strongly identify with this quote from Stott, found in an article by Molly Worthen, which aligns so closely with orthodox and catholic Christian thinking, this:


“it is our duty to be involved in socio-political action; that is, both in social action (caring for society’s casualties) and in political action (concerned for the structures of society itself).” Throughout his career he called upon evangelicals to decry inequity and cruelty wherever they found it, just as the prophets of ancient Israel did:
“apathy is the acceptance of the unacceptable,”
https://religionandpolitics.org/2012/05/01/john-stott-c-s-lewis-j-r-r-tolkien-why-american-evangelicals-love-the-british/

The evangelical world turned on Stott's concept of annihilationism, but if they were more present to the 'the Mercy of God' as it is taught in the whole Church,
I think they would quickly realize that his viewpoint was formed out of a great hope in God's infinite mercy for His wounded creation.

Perhaps Stott's emphasis came out of an imbalance in evangelicalism between 'the Justice of God' and 'the Mercy of God' (?);
and Stott sought to reconcile the two in some way that made sense to him as an evangelical (?). I'm not sure.

In any case, I think Stott was enthralled by his insight into 'the Mercy of God', and I find that to be an understandable 'reason' for his conclusions about annihilationism . . . his heart was engaged so completely by the compassionate love of God for His Creation, that I see in Stott something of this:

"the heart has reasons that reason cannot know"
(Blaise Pascal)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

In 1994, I wrote “The Truth of Acts” which has four statements added to the cover:

1.Two Denominations

2.The Devil’s greatest victory was confusing his greatest defeat—Calvary

3. “Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden road always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.”.…Voltaire

4. The Truth of Acts is not a new road, but an old road that’s been hidden by the devil’s hedges made by proud men of little faith.

Rex Ray said...

Jesus believed His Father would NEVER forsake him. He even told his disciples: “…the time is coming…indeed it is here now, when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” (John 16:32 NLT)

The loss of blood did not kill Jesus.

What killed Jesus was: “…MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME” (Matthew 27:46 Mark 15:34 KJ) And He died alone of a broken heart.

When Jesus became sin (our sin) his Father could not comfort sin. Jesus didn’t know his question was answered by God’s tears.

We cannot fathom God’s love that He would execute His Son for mankind. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

Christiane said...

Please pray for our Coast Guard service members who are now no longer receiving pay checks. Here is what they are up against:
https://media.defense.gov/2017/Mar/06/2001707730/-1/-1/0/CI_1740_8.PDF

Rex Ray said...

CHISTRINE,

:)

Is this link that’s a mile-long a joke? It’s rules that the Coast Guard abides by. Probably other military services have something similar.

The reason that Democrats won’t provide an ounce (compared to the total budget) of money for the ‘wall’ is not that they don’t want our borders protected, but it’s because it’s Trump’s idea. They’d be against anything Trump wanted to do even it was providing emergency money for the Coast Guard.

Wade Burleson said...

Alaskan,

Thanks for your comment. I'll reflect on your words.


Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Don't know if you saw, but I received your books! Wow - thank you for your generosity, and I look forward to reading them. Could you, again, tell me how you are related to all the "Rays" featured in all three books?

Wade Burleson said...

Christiane,

Prayers to all those affected by the shut down.

Christiane said...

Thanks, Wade. So many people are being affected and are worried. I was remiss in not asking for help for them all. God Bless!


Hello there REX RAY,
sorry for confusion about that link, but the USCG is very strict about its people being responsible for their finances and that link does emphasize that responsibility. When my son was in boot camp, they had classes on why financial responsibility was a part of being a service member and he took it to heart. Bad times ahead, please pray for the folks affected. Nothing political intended, just worried for them.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I was named after our uncle, Rex Ray, who was a missionary to China 30 years and Korea 6 years.

David W Ray was our father, school teacher, preacher, soldier in World War I and chaplain in World War II.

Hez Ray was my twin brother that left college our senior year and spent 20 years in Alaska.

Wade Burleson said...

Thank you, Rex.

What a heritage.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

The “Blood songs” you mentioned sure brought back fond memories of singing in church, and many road trips of our family.

The only blood that washes sin must be innocent and results in death. That’s why Abele’s sacrifice was accepted by God whereas Cain’s was not.

Our church songs have been bloodless for many years. Could it be that’s what led to this?

https://blog.lifeway.com/newsroom/2018/06/01/worship-attendance-rises-while-baptisms-decline-in-sbc-congregations/

• The number of churches cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention grew for the 19th consecutive year, reaching 47,544. That’s a 16.3 percent increase in churches since 1997.
• Membership fell for the 11th consecutive year, to 15 million. Since 2006, SBC congregations have lost about 1.3 million members.
• Baptisms also declined, as they have for eight of the past 10 years. Congregations reported baptizing 254,122 people—26.5 percent fewer than in 2007.

Christiane said...

Wade writes "Christ died willingly (voluntary). No man took His life, He laid it down for us (John 10:18)."


as is confirmed by the prayers of the Body of Christ, as there was strong affirmation found in the worship of the early eastern Byzantine Christians, these words:

"You were transfigured on the mountain,
and your disciples, as much as they were capable of it, beheld Your glory,
O Christ our God,
so that when they should see You crucified they would understand
that Your Passion was voluntary,
and proclaim to the world
that You truly are the splendor of the Father."

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Thanks for saying thanks. I’ll add that my uncle Rex’s son retired as a missionary to Korea, and his son retired as a missionary to Australia. Also, my son was a missionary to Israel for 7 years. (That forced signing of the BF&M 2000 came along.)

Maybe the heritage started with my dying grandfather telling his wife, “Now, you can make all our boys preachers.” (He had wanted them to be ranchers.)

Guess I was the ‘black sheep’ as I was a ‘dropout at SWBTS. :)

Christiane said...

Hey there, REX RAY

black sheep? I don't see it.
You see, not all 'preachers' go to seminary all the way through. . . . and the Church needed volunteer carpenters to help build in foreign lands for people who needed places to pray, even if the places were humble, that counts mightily in the Body of Christ.

So you've done some carpentry work in the mission fields? No stigma there. Our Lord Himself was a carpenter so I'd say that is fine profession for a Christian person, especially when the person uses it to serve those in need of help. Cheer up, old friend. The Church could use less 'important' people and more with a willingness to go forth and serve in foreign lands. The Southern Baptist denomination has no lack of people willing to 'go forth' and you are among them. That is a blessed witness the Church could not do without.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

I guess me being a “black sheep” was referring to ‘preaching’. I asked Jesus to save me when I was 10 and people asked if I was going to be a missionary like my uncle. All I wanted to do was play ‘Cowboy and Indian’. One day, my brother and I moved the temporary four foot high back door steps to make a fort to fight make-believe Indians. Mother prevented our father from waking us up at mid-night and giving us a whipping because he had taken one long step in the dark.

Yes, I’ve driven a lot of nails for the Lord during the 20 years we went with Volunteer Christian Builders to help new churches being built. But most of the time, I was doing ‘tape & bed’ sheetrock as my brother and I learned that when we were 18.

I’ve worked also in Israel, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Adding up the time of 13 trips in Japan would be about 18 months. Bill Walker was the missionary there in charge of building churches but mostly house to rent to offset rent that missionaries payed. Walker said it was easy to get carpenters, but ‘tape & bed” workers were scarce. They could furnish airfare and use homes of missionaries on vacation a lot cheaper than hiring local labor. Some of the towns were where my uncle had been.

Short story 30 plus years ago.
Thirty miles from our house, I noticed about ten Mexicans standing around on a Saturday. I asked what were they doing. The only one that spoke English said they were gong to build a house, but didn’t know how to read a blueprint. After five hours all the walls were up. When I refused to take any money, he sincerely asked, “Are you an angel? :)

Christiane said...

Hey REX RAY,

loved your 'Are you an angel?' story which made my morning

in the American southwest is a chapel with a 'miraculous' staircase and there is a story there about a 'mystery carpenter' who appeared to help build it, and disappeared when it was done

Here's a photo of the starecase:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Loretto_Chapel.jpg

it's a strange story, but your own witness to those people in Mexico prompted a question from them that, for them, seems like a very real possibility . . . that there comes 'angels' disguised to help people in need, and I myself join them in the belief of angelic visitors come among us to help us, being me and all.

Your Christian witness is probably still spoken of among the people of that place where you helped build the Church, and took no money for doing it. I'm would not be at all surprised if they still think you might have been an 'angel'. :)

Here's the story of that 'miracle' staircase, but Snopes has called it a 'hoax', which may be the case as those nuns now charge $3 to see it, which doesn't exactly fit the story of something built for them that costs them nothing
(I guess they needed the money for charity ??) . . . anyway, it's a good story
https://www.machinedesign.com/blog/engineering-miracle-or-just-good-carpentry

Anonymous said...

Grew up in NM and would say the Loretto Chapel stairs are definitely not a hoax.

But then in the Land of Enchantment we were used to things happening we could not explain.

Linda

Christiane said...

Thanks, Linda

I like to think it's not hoax, and that the legends about it are true. They made a film about it called simply 'The Staircase', a made-for-TV movie.

Rex Ray has written before about helping the people in Mexico with a Church . . . 'with a dirt floor and a tin roof' and then when he returned to his own home Church in the States, he spoke of being upset when his own Church were arguing over what color the new carpeting should be in the sanctuary. . . . I always remembered his account of this, it was so moving. I guess it was the contrasts between the gratefulness of the humble people in Mexico, glad to have the little Church with a packed dirt floor AND the pettiness of the disagreements of a well-off congregation in the States choosing to fight over a carpet's color. . . . it was too much for him. I remember weeping when I read what he wrote about it.

Glad for you that you live among such beauty. I myself have a souvenir from the Southwest, a lithograph of 'The Lizard Man' by the artist Acevedo, which I picked up in Old Town, San Diego. Still love it after all these years, and sure, it brings back memories of the West.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

I can’t imagine how the ‘stranger’ built the spiral staircase. It’s beautiful. We built one in Japan but it had a supporting pole in the middle.

I’m amazed with your memory of our church a long time ago being upset when many wanted to replace the good red carpet with blue carpet while in Mexico they were happy with a dirt floor.

At one time we were in a church where our youth helped to have ‘vacation-bible-school in Mexico once a year. We usually had a ‘work project’ on the side. Besides the church bus, I had a cargo-van. One year, a number of churches replaced their fluorescent lights and gave us their good old ones. Since fluorescent is much cheaper to produce the same light, we replaced the lights in churches in many small towns. I added a large ‘box’ on top of the van to hold the lights.

One church didn’t have any lights and required a long line to a source. We didn’t help its reputation when one of our guys didn’t know the black wire should NOT be connected to the white wire. You can imagine the anger when the town was put in darkness for a while.

P.S.
The ‘angel story’ happened in Fate, Texas which was 30 miles from our house at the time. It was the town where three of our families went together and built a house to sell.

I had a heated argument with the city plumber that connected our house to the city sewer line. He had dug a ditch a short distance that was ten feet deep on the far end and I told him it was too deep.

He replied, “I’ve plumbed every house in this town!” He asked me to read his plumber’s book on how much a ditch should drop every ten feet. His red face turn white when I asked him if he knew the difference between an ‘inch mark’ and a ‘foot mark’.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

I got to thinking about how the spiral staircase was built. I’m a retired ‘Tool Designer’, and everything I build I think of as a tool. To complete the last 20 feet of the 40 foot stairway that goes to the slide, I made a ‘jig’ that held parts in place to make a 'room'. (Made three rooms.) Each room had a floor and the four pipe corner poles welded on to one below it.

Back to the staircase.

1. Wooden nails would be dowels (round pegs) driven into matching holes to hold wood together.
2. Steps would be tapered. (Inside would have less width.)
3. A jig would hold some steps in place to make a section.
4. Sections would be put together on the floor.
5. When complete, the structure would be raised vertically in place with a pulley.

Wouldn’t guarantee it would work. :)

Rex Ray said...

Long time ago.

AVOID APPEARANCE OF EVIL WHEN BAPTIZING

My brother, Hez, told of a woman being baptized. The congregation wouldn’t have laughed hysterical if their pastor had not been a fanatic on avoiding the appearance of evil. He was very ‘straight laced’.

She was from the ‘red-light’ district and after being saved at a revival. She invited her friends to see her baptized. She had never seen a baptism.

The pastor took so long in explaining the meaning of baptism she thought she was supposed to baptize herself. When she did her feet slipped and the very lean lady never came up. He was unable to find her.

The congregation became concerned she would drown. Finally, one beautiful bare leg rose from the water like a periscope, knee bent over the glass, with toes searching the air until they found the back of a choir seat.

The pastor rushed to save her and should have reached down and brought her up. But he started to grab her leg. His hands circled around but couldn’t touch. In that position, he froze. Time stood still.

The congregation started laughing. (Hez had sore ribs for a week resulting from his wife’s elbow.) When the pastor finally got her head up, they were still laughing. The poor lady didn’t come back because she thought they were laughing at her.

Christiane said...

Good Morning, REX RAY

thank you for the stories!
That last one is one I have heard before and it is the funniest . . . I still laughing.
You can't make this stuff up, LOL

Hope all is well with you.

Today there will be some kind of announcement concerning the unpaid Coast Guard and other federal workers, so am hopeful for some good news to come. It's getting hard for people, especially those with families to support.

Poor lady in that story. I wouldn't have come back either. She must have been mortified!
I like that Hez's wife tried to get him to stop laughing. I would have probably been laughing too and very ashamed of myself afterwards. :) At least the lady got baptized, sort of, I guess, maybe. (?) Poor minister! It's too funny. I'm still laughing.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

You’re my favorite ‘responder’ [usually the only one :) ]

The man that dismissed the service, made it short; then ran outside where he exploded. Hez’s wife, Bev, was polite in church but when they (5 kids) got home, someone giggled and even she laid on the floor laughing.

For years Bev wouldn’t let Hez tell that story because he always broke up laughing. Another story, “To many arms” she prohibited because of nudity.

Christiane said...

Now you've done it, REX RAY, I'm laughing again. :)