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.
RE: "God sacrificing Jesus to make a covenant with us" - but the part about that, that makes it incomprehensible gobbledygook, is that sacrifices were made to appease a god, so in essence, this is the case of a god, sacrificing his son, to himself! One would expect an omniscient god to know a little about logic.
If it weren't for all of the drama and priestly promotion, a story like this would wind up in a short, single column near the bottom of page forty-seven in a two thousand year-old Jerusalem newspaper! "Two thieves and the son of god were crucified today - in other news, transportation costs rose sharply, as the camel-driver's Union continues their strike, film at eleven!"
But this was a culture used to making sacrifices to recognize a covenant/agreement. ("Bypasses, bypasses have got to be built!") A covenant wouldn't be valid without the blood of something being sacrificed. The idea of Jesus' sacrifice gained traction because it was no longer humans sacrificing their hard earned livestock, etc. It doesn't make sense to us because we seal our contracts with 30 page legal documents, not blood. It made perfect sense to them. In 2000 years our descendants may well be discussing how absurd it was to pay people called lawyers a lot of money to write long documents only other lawyers could understand.
The omniscient god (and the son) referred to in this story does not exist. But the people who believe in them do and this change is one reason why people preferred to believe in the the new testament as opposed to the old. That's why this aspect of the story makes perfect sense to me.
As for your newspaper analogy, this is more along the lines of "New Testament Party Wins Election on Promise to Abolish Income Tax." Front page baby. :)
Sorry, but that requires far more mental gymnastics to be useful. There are far better stories that illustrate what you're trying to say and we don't need this particular story to do that. Particularly since...
1. This line of thinking can easily justify suicide bombing, particularly if the participant believes they are sacrificing themselves for God's will and will be rewarded for it.
2. The whole point of the 'resurrection' of Jesus was to open the gates of heaven such that we can have eternal life. This is in stark contrast to previous ways of thinking in a more natural sense that life was cyclical and that we would return to the earth. Earlier resurrected deities (like the green man) were in a constant cycle of death and rebirth matching the natural seasons and growing cycles in a particular land as an homage to those natural processes. Jesus broke that cycle continuing the separation between humans and the environment which began in the Abrahamic religion with Genesis 1 and then the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve. The message is that if we can live forever in magic land, we don't need to worry about what happens to the environment after our death so therefore we can use and abuse it as we will, hence agriculture. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about the story of Jesus. (Your last paragraph clearly shows you are under the spell that I'm talking about here. Supernaturalizing the human experience makes it impossible to understand and value humanity's place in the natural environment.)
And of course, it is just that.. a story.
Well put, Kyle. I'm sure that Aesop or Mother Goose had fables at least as instructive.
I have been dating a rather charming gal that is a Lutheran. Yesterday, as a way to show my glassnost sensibilities, I went to church with her and, after a few hours of intellectual preparation previous, took communian. It was ok, they used a rather nice sour dough bread with a rather sweet and stout wine.
After the reception, we were offered the remains of the bread! Now as an ex-and recovering catholic, this felt a little odd. I did ask the minister if it would be ok to finish it up with peanut butter, or bean dip, she said 'fine'. Latter at the local park, my date and I finished off the bread with a nice slice of ham! Again I just had to ask if my date could think of any reason to be seqmish, 'nah, if you are expecting to drown in blood, it would seem by now that the oceans would have been replaced which such a mess'. The rest of the day was spent happy and full. Sadly, the church did not offer the remains of the wine.....;p(
Sounds to me like you still harbor an embedded belief of transubstantiation considering your awkwardness regarding the bread used in the sacraments. It also sounds that what was alien to you was the fact that these particular Lutherans lean towards a more Baptist view of the sacraments, which is merely a materialization of the bread and wine rather than any change or significance in substance.
I think you missed the 'real' point of the day! I should not need to hint! ;p)
Oh, no. I get it - the wine.
Yes, in a celebratory sense I think....emotacons would hardly touch my actually meaning....so how many lines can an atheist read between?
RE: "emotacons would hardly touch my actually meaning" - not even THIS one?
Dang, that one just might do the job!
Is it crying, or having a humor convulsion? ;p)