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Posted by Harvey on July 14, 2003 04:24:28 UTC


I don't claim to have all the answers with respect to Christian answers to difficult questions, but I'll share with you my perspective on this issue.

I don't understand the concept of redemption that well because it seems to me that one goes to church to ask for forgiveness and then goes home to continue their lifestyle, both good and bad habits included. Do you just get "redeemed" every Sunday and then go on sinning?

Redemption has a few contexts in many Christian theologies. It can mean 'being saved' by the blood of Christ who has paid our sins (one time event) and has redeemed us (bought us back so to speak). It also means a future day of redemption in which we exchange the earthly body for a heavenly body, one that will not die.

As I understand it, the general Christian concept of redemption (in the sense of being bought with the price of Christ's blood) is that this happens at the time of original repentence and receipt of God's Holy Spirit. This is when Christ's sacrifice covers your past transgressions and you become a 'new man' in Christ. That is, you are no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to Christ. You live everyday anew in him. You are not supposed to go back to your old lifestyle, rather you are supposed to live everyday with Christ living in you. This doesn't mean that you are not a sinner subject to hell, rather you are saved from this fate since you are in Christ. To be in Christ means a change in lifestyle and dedication to the Christian calling of coming out of sin and leading a righteous life with the power of the Holy Spirit.

You'd think redemption would be God's intervention in the very habits you're asking forgiveness for having ... a second chance to start fresh so to speak. But then again, he doesn't override freewill. Prayer & hymns don't seem to avert temptation, nor do they seem to reverse the inertial trend downward.

Christian theologies are much more abstract than this, I think. They generally aren't concerned about living a perfect life, in fact they suggest that it is impossible to do so. Rather, the abstract issue that Christianity is focused is the question "How can a perfect God have anything to do with a sinful person without affecting his own perfection?" This question, I think, is central to the whole Christian outlook. The answer given by Christianity is that we need a perfect Son to act as a mediator and who took on human form so that he could be one among us, but who gave himself up as a perfect sacrifice. This sacrifice was acceptable as a sin offering, and thereby is a form of payment for our sins as well as the original sin (i.e., Adam's sin) and thereby releases us from the consequence of sin, which is considered to be eternal suffering and eternal death.

The problem for Christianity today, and the reason why the Christian message is largely missed by many, is the whole issue of sacrifices and how important an understanding of sacrifices were to the people of the first century. A sacrifice was the ancient (Hebrew bible) solution to how the sin of Israel was forgiven and the consequences of sin (destruction of their land) could be removed. If the sacrifice was acceptable (i.e., done in accordance with the Mosaic law), then sin was removed. Christianity was largely based on the substitution of the animal sacrifice for the sacrifice of Christ for humanity, thereby making a connection between God and man possible. It was no longer necessary for the people to go to a high priest to give the annual sacrifice each year in the holiest part of the temple. Rather, Christ is the high priest who entered the temple (heaven) and is our sacrifice which is acceptable before God.

The significance of sacrifice is of critical importance in Christianity. Due to the abstractness of this concept, as well as the modern eye-brow raising that comes with a God that still requires sacrifices in the 21st century, the issue is generally deglected. The way most Christian churches approach the subject is the purity of God and how he loved us so much to give us his Son to bring us to him, this theme is much more meaningful to most Christians, and so it tends to be predominate. Although, it's only when people start intellectualizing these issues that the abstract issues must be dealt with.

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