A great deal has been written, preached and said about the great sacrifice which Jesus made for the world.
We deny that he made any such sacrifice as is claimed for him by the Christian Church. In fact, we cannot see, find or learn from any record of the New Testament that he made any sacrifice at all. This whole idea about the sacrifice of Jesus depends upon a theological assumption.
Jesus had no earthly honor, position or estate to sacrifice, even had he been disposed to offer such for the good of mankind. Not only is there no evidence of any tangible renunciation possible by Jesus, but there is no proof and no sign that Jesus possessed even the spirit of sacrifice. We challenge the Christian admirer of Jesus to point to a single act of this hero that can honestly be called a sacrifice. We know of no such act. We have studied the Gospels to find such an act, and we have studied them in vain.
When a mother sees her boy pinned to the timbers of a wrecked car where the scalding steam must escape into his face and destroy his life, and to save her boy, voluntarily stands where this steam, with its hot breath, will take her life instead of her boy’s, this mother makes a sacrifice that is apparent, real. Such an act is sublime, grand, beyond heroism. Such an act wipes the Christian slander of total depravity from human nature. Such an act makes us almost worship the heart great enough to perform it.
Jesus did no such things as this. He braved no danger for another. He did not walk in the path of peril to save the life of friend or fellow. On the contrary, he seemed bent on a selfish mission, inspired by a purely personal ambition. He did not say: This world is suffering from oppression; I will lay down my life to make it free. He did not seek to destroy the throne and the scepter that bear so heavily on the poor and weak; but he sought a throne and a scepter for himself so that he might rule the world.
Jesus sacrifice himself for the world! No! He demanded that the world sacrifice itself to exalt him! A poorer specimen of self-sacrifice could hardly be found in all the historical out-of-the-way places that we know anything about. Jesus had nothing to give up, nothing to renounce, nothing but his life to offer to the world, and this, even when it was taken, did the world no good.
The only incident in the whole career of Jesus which has been construed as a sacrifice was his crucifixion, but this was not voluntary on the part of the victim. Jesus, in dying, made no sacrifice. He surrendered his life at the command of a political power; he did not offer it for the world’s advancement. Jesus was the sport of circumstances, the victim of a cruel fate. He played for high stakes and lost. He was an adventurer, and suffered the penalty of failure. Taking the account of his career in the Gospels as true, it is totally barren of any lofty, sublime action for the good of the human race. He did not throw his efforts into the public strife to elevate the condition of the majority, but he loaded himself on the shoulders of his followers to ride into divine greatness. Like hundreds of others, he threw the dice of political chance and was beaten.
In following the Gospel steps of the deluded Nazarene we are not sure which are his and which are not, but take all the stories as true which his devoted disciples have told about him, they do not reveal a mind consecrated to any lofty purpose.
He was working to establish the “kingdom of heaven,” but nobody knows what that is. He talked about his “father in heaven,” but nobody knows who he is. He had no practical ideas, he did no practical work.
History would have written this man’s name among the unfortunate victims of political revolutions, if it had preserved it at all, which is doubtful, but Jesus was made by priest-craft to play a leading part in a theological drama, and religion has immortalized his name.
But it is a false part that Jesus has played. No such character has any reason for existing. The necessity for any human offering to God does not exist. The idea of an atoning sacrifice is a relic of a barbarous faith. It is time to take Christianity off the stage. It is an insult to the twentieth century.
The silly, sickly superstition of the sacrifice of Jesus should be left to die. It sprang from falsehood and has no basis in fact, in reason or in truth.