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.
"Jesus does not have the market cornered on spiritual principles though. I learned about the importance of forgiving, but not from Jesus' story."
This is true, and if J was alive today, I should think he would be the first to agree with you. Personally, when I think of forgiveness, it's always the Jesus story and the Crucifixion which springs straight to mind. This is intuitive, without doing any intellectual analysis.
I believe that it can be very useful to illustrate, personify certain concepts with powerful myths in order to study those concepts. The subconscious speaks the language of symbols and myths. This is where physical fact crosses over into human meaning.
I agree with you about the usefulness of examining the subconscious with symbols and myths. It is strange - I don't think much about Jesus, the Bible or God but my subconscious does. I've had some bizarre dreams that betray my subconscious' attempts at sorting this all out or a t least categorizing it. The end result can be very amusing.
Actually, about the only time I think about 'religion' is when someone else mentions it. Occasionally I see something quiet beautiful, and many times interesting, that can get me into some funk with spiritual over tones, but I am still a recovering catholic. I don't pretend to use sliced bread and bad wine for a kitchen mass, I am further on than that...;p)
Frankly, I prefer the Good Samaritan story, he didn't feel the need to forgive anybody, he simply helped a man who needed it - far more "intuitive, without doing any intellectual analysis."
Jesus -- fictional or not -- died for his beliefs, not for my sins. If you remove the 'our sins' bit I don't have much issue with your version of the moral of the story though my views are a bit different, perhaps.
This brings up an interesting question.... "He forgave the people who were crucifying him".... does that mean that they get to go to heaven, even though they were still unbelievers?
If they don't get to go to heaven then Jesus's forgiveness is empty.
"does that mean that they get to go to heaven"
In theory, yes.
Ok, If Jebus forgave the ones killing him and they did not ask for forgiveness and they get to go to heaven? Then while we are breaking all the rules anyway, lets just have Jebus forgive everyone without asking and send everyone to heaven!
I never did understand why the creator of the universe could not forgive sin, (the wasting of semen) without killing his son?
OK, time to drag the stock answer out of mothballs: "God works in mysterious ways --"
"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. "
He illustrated that God could forgive our sins but wouldn't until worshipped in the correct way in the correct religion. 'Will always give us a second chance"? I don't know how one short life of mistakes and then eternal damnation is always giving us a second chance. There's only ONE chance and if you don't take it before you die then you are doomed to one short dismal life and then eternal suffering etc..etc.. I don't see how this makes life good or fruitfull . This also sets up an elitist mindset where all other people and religions are wrong regardless of their teachings about god and an afterlife, love, forgiveness, helping others, doing good etc.... These others are doomed to hell regardless of what they do or believe.
To me it is this mindset that is nasty and brutish.
RE: "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." - according to some anonymous writers, writing 40-100 years after Yeshua allegedly lived. At least Superman flies around actually saving lives, wouldn't we be better off, emulating him?
Top 10 Reasons Why Beer Is Better Than Jesus
10. No one will kill you for not drinking Beer.
9. Beer doesn't tell you how to have sex.
8. Beer has never caused a major war.
7. They don't force Beer on minors who can't think for themselves.
6. When you have a Beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.
5. Nobody's ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured over his brand of Beer.
4. You don't have to wait 2000+ years for a second Beer.
3. There are laws saying Beer labels can't lie to you.
2. You can prove you have a Beer.
1. If you've devoted your life to Beer, there are groups to help you stop.