This idea can have logic and great value even for an atheist.
Not that long ago I offered for some angry people to kick my head in, to prove a point about how men should treat women (i.e. don't bully them). (I guess they didn't have the heart to do it.)
Among the many interpretations which can be placed on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, we can say this:
Jesus went to his death willingly - in that he knew it was going to happen, and didn't run away, when he could have done - in order to prove and illustrate a point. That point was his life's work (well, the last 3 years'). One of his main lessons was that we can all be given the chance for our sins to be forgiven, provided we earn it and do the necessary real work involved. Provided we go to our Crucifixion willingly. If he can get himself crucified, we should be up to saying sorry and putting things right when we have to. We should be humble enough to suffer for what we have done. We should be humble enough to let something go instead of escalating to some kind of blood feud.
He also forgave the people who were crucifying him.
By dramatically illustrating the idea that God can forgive our sins, will always give us a second chance to make good: life became possible, life became good, life became fruitful. Instead of nasty, brutish and short. Hence the Resurrection.
I used to believe all that too. Here is why I no longer do:
1) I reject "original sin". God created us as cosmic waste, and condemns us to a celestial incinerator unless we magically purify ourselves? Hell, no.
2) I reject Hell. Eons of punishment and torture simply for acting out as we were created? Hell, no.
3) I reject magic and the supernatural. Waiting for Jesus to return to Earth, like Linus (from "Peanuts") waiting for the Great Pumpkin? Hell, no.
Jesus did not need to suffer for anyone's sake but his own.
Even if it's all true, how can it be that one man suffering for a few days can pay back for all the billions of crimes (puny to enormous) that have been committed by people over the last two thousand years which surely total up to a lot more than three days of suffering by one man, and allow them to skate into heaven. Even if true it's ridiculous. Good thing it isn't true.
Further, the New Testament was "corrected" many times by scribes, to counter the claims of one or another of the many sects that arose after its writing, when they found a passage they felt they could use to prove their point of view.
A good example of this was a group now known as the "Separationists," who believed Yeshua (Jesus) to have been a mortal, and the "Christ" to have been a spirit that entered into him at his baptism and left him hanging out to dry on the cross - there were instances when Paul or one of the gospel writers would write of "Jesus," the scribes would add "Christ," making it, "Jesus Christ," just to make sure the Separationists couldn't use that passage to demonstrate that "Jesus" and the "Christ" were two entities.
There's no way of knowing for certain how many other "corrections" they made.
Basilides, a follower of Simon Magus in the second century CE, maintained (this same belief was also found in the scriptures of the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered at Dag Hammadi) that Yeshua was not flesh at all, but entirely spirit who only gave the appearance of being man - a belief shared by yet another group of fanatics, known as the Docetists - as such, he was capable of shape-shifting, and on the road to Golgotha, when helped by Simon of Cyrene to lift and carry the cross, changed shapes with Simon, allowing Simon to be crucified in his place, while he stood below, watching, basically telling poor Simon to have a nice day.
When you start making up crazy stories and calling it religion, there really IS no limit! Crazy has none. When Paynton speaks of the Yeshua story, he's only talking about the one particular fictional story that won the arm-wrestling contest in the 325 CE Council of Nicea - there were a LOT of them floating around.
It's too funny how we are still debating the merits of 2000 yrs old scriptures...let's see...wonder what a fundy would do if he/she goes to doc for some ailment or the other and doctor pulls out a 2000 yrs old medical text...heck a 200 yrs old medical text...wonder what the fundy would think?
I expect that the age of the document is less important than the substance of the document. If we found over the course of 2000 years of study and research that bleeding a patient is less effective than antibiotics, then I would hope that sanity would prevail, and a new method we be used.
Sadly, it is possible that theists might 'assume' that age of the document is more important than substance. They might even be willing to throw whole schools of thought and study away, only because it is not 'biblical', or they are unwilling to reserve judgement long enough to explore the new research. In this case their gross ignorance is preserved, and their commitment to 'biblical' teachings survive the march of culture/history, but with a much smaller population in time. Surely the willingness of some theist groups to not use 'modern' medicine, and as a result killing their own, could marginalize them to the statis of a historical footnote.
I expect that the larger population of theists are sane and reasonable folks, but as usual with the statistical outlyers.
What I was really driving at is the seeming immutability of scripture...of course I realize it must be this way because once you start with the final answer there is no where left to go....but we have changed...we have acquired much knowledge that contradicts or is outside the scope of these ancient texts...the liberal adherents incorporate these developments into their philosophy (this is enabled by the fact that these ancient texts are so messy and complicated and contradictory that they become tabula Rasa)...the fundies of course fight tooth and nail (in an odd way I respect this)...but even for the liberal adherents there is a level of immutability because they believe in a final answer that came out of a put-upon desert tribe over 2000 yrs ago.
pulls out a 2000 yrs old medical text.
Allegorically, sure, it's a great story.
But it contains no truth. And no logic.
lol. I reckon quite a few of us 'regular' humans could handle crucifixion if we knew we were going to be in a 'heaven,' forever, just a few days latter. An eternity of bliss is a long time to forget your death.