POssibly dumb religious question

Ok… let’s get one thing clear. I’m not trolling, I just want an answer to a question.

Why was Jesus crucified?

I mean, apart from the obvious “The romans wanted him dead”. I’ve been told countless times “he died for our sins”, but… what does that mean exactly?

I asked this question on some other forums and I got this

To answer your question, he died for our sin, so we could be forgiven in our ways. As well as, free worship in a way. Before that, the pharases controlled everything, and I’m pretty sure they burned some guy to death because he decided it might be an idea to bring a different incense…

Does that mean before he died that no one was forgiven for sins?

:edit: sweet, stupid typo in the topic!

I never got that part either. As an athiest, I was never quite sure how ‘loving God’ went hand in hand with ‘had own son tortured to death for no apparent reason beyond pique / personal satisfaction’. After all, if you’re omnipotent, the creator of the universe, and the god with the Capital G, it’s not like there’s anyone forcing your hand to make a quick blood sacrifice. It’s not out of character for the way the deity is portrayed throughout - I’m not sure how anyone can read his actions in the Bible and walk away thinking ‘loving God’ - just…uh… more in keeping, say, the Lady Godiva story (“Sure, I’ll give them salvation, just as soon as your spine comes out of your nose, kiddo”) or with a traffic warden with a brand new notepad than a kind gesture to the people.

But then, that whole scene is largely the definition of ‘tell-don’t-show’.

“When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.’ When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’”

John 19: 6-10

I’m not in the “the Romans wanted him dead” camp.

And I’m not in the “bible texts are the literal and objective truth” camp.

As a pastafarian, I can’t really say. FSM forevah!

The simple, materialist answer: he was a controversial figure in a violent society.

The complex theological answer: I have no clear idea. It seems like different sects invest Christ’s death with different shades of meaning. Even the facts aren’t entirely free from dispute. But we have like six divinities scholars on this forum, so I’m sure that this thread will turn into a vicious 4+ page technical argument.

Theologically, Christ dies because God sent him to. Previously the expiation of sins was via regular animal sacrifice. Christ represented the final sacrifice for all sin for all time.

In relation to the rest of the world, Christ made a some powerful people nervous. He was inconvenient and controversial, and potentially dangerous so he was killed. Both the Pharisees and Romans seem to have had some stake in removing hem.

This is why some people find the allegorical nature of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so offensive… because it really does illustrate the basics of christian doctrine quite well. The Aslan sacrifice scene is particularly relevent to nutsak’s question. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the children’s book spells out the narnia-world-logic for why Aslan let himself be killed: all of which is a way of explaining Christ’s crucifixion in fantasy storybook form.

As for Unicorn’s response… I’m not so sure I agree. I think the basic concept of Christ’s death as a sacrificial and substitutionary act for mankind’s sins is one of the few things all christian denominations/sects have in common. Even among the most liberal of christian denominations that no longer believe anything in the Bible actually happened and that it’s all metaphor, they still hold that Christ’s crucifixion was, if not a literal historical event, a story meant to illustrate man’s chance for redemption.

In short, I’m pretty sure the best simple answer (in religious terms) would be: Why was Christ crucified? Because it was the only way God would let anybody in to Heaven.

In Christian theology the crucifixion was only the cap on a harsh weekend of sufferering for our sins.


In the Mormon and most other modern evangalistic faiths the earlier suffering, especially the suffering in the garden of Gethsemani, is the actual suffering for our sins.

You know that feeling you get when you do somthing bad? No? Ok how about that feeling you got when you were five when you did something bad. That shame and guilt. Supposedly Jesus felt this for all of us for every sin ever commited in the garden. So now we can not feel bad about any of our sins as long as we repent because God will forgive us and we don’t have to feel this way as long as we don’t sin again or die in a state of sin.

The idea that Jesus suffered for our sins on the cross is a very conservative (not as in modern conservative 15th century conservative) idea. More modern religions tend to focus on the garden and the aloneness Jesus felt there and the torture and shame he was exposed through throughout the ordeal leading up to the crucifixion. The suffering beforehand was for our sins, the death on the cross was so that he could be resurected and show us that there is triumph over death.

So basically the answer is that the death on the cross was just icing on the cake of suffering that Jesus ate for us that long weekend 2000 years ago. Most of your more modern Christians think of the cross as the triumph over death, not the triumph over sin.

Unicorn McGriddle is right, there are all sorts of intrepretations of how important the crucifixion itself is.

Ryan A. is right that the suffering and crucifixion were necessary to let people into heaven. God created a world where there is consequence for sin so Jesus suffering for our sins is a loophole that lets us not suffer for our sins. It’s generally considered to be retroactive, a good share of the old testament prophisies of the messiah who will come and perform this act for all mankind.

Traditional Jews are still waiting for this messiah, if you look around on the web you can find various Jewish sects that believe their current rabbi is the messiah.

Edited to add a bit

One interest aspect of mormonism is that it is literally the only “christian” sect that no other christian sect will accept as part of christianity.

Is there a recipe for that somewhere?

As an athiest, I’ve never been able to square ‘loving God’ with ‘had own son tortured to death out of pique’ (after all, if He made the rules, it ultimately falls to him as a choice). Although in fairness, I never saw a loving God in the Bible at any point - genocidal, petty, cruel to the point of sadism, and vengeful, yes, but described as love? Never could see it, and the explanation always pretty much boiled down to ‘Shut up and believe’. So I don’t. I prefer the Greek gods. More fun, more believable, and had the guts to provide their address so that people could one day say “Hey, there’s no divine palace on Mount Olympus!”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s a fundamental difference in orthodox (small ‘o’) belief about the crucifixion and your understanding of it. Basic orthodoxy holds that Christ chose to be crucified rather than “God told him to.” This, of course, opens up the can-of-worms of the Godhead and how could “God” be three distinct persons, but there you have it.

Whichever version you play, it’s never washed. Told to, chose to, was destined to… at no point can I see any version that doesn’t boil down to divine cruelty, if the outcome or intended result is the forgiveness of sin. In some way, Godhead or no, that deal has to be made with the power that is (monotheism being what it was) - otherwise it’s just plain martyrdom.

I really hope this doesn’t look like I’m trying to change your mind, Charybdis… but I find the differences to be very interesting.

Told to: wow: sucks to be christ – he’s got the worst dad in the universe

Chose to: christ as hero — the self-sacrificial hero is pretty much one of my favorite archetypes

Destined to: christ as… darth vader?

Hey, I didn’t say it wasn’t interesting ;-)

Chose to is dumb. What did he sacrifice himself for? Why did it require a sacrifice at all? The other thing is: What did he really sacrifice? He’s still the lord kind god of the universe. So it was a pointless sacrifice that didn’t sacrifice anything. And what sins were forgiven anyway? If God is all-powerful, how can he really be sinned against? And the whole idea of absolving sin through faith is morally repugnant. If I do something wrong, and I am truly sorry, I want to make up for it (or at least try) - accepting forgiveness after having it just handed to you is wrong. when you do something to hurt somebody, it’s bad period - not just bad for them. It’s not in anybody’s power to forgive unless the perpetrator is sorry and wants to fix it. And the victim of the sin stepping in and saying he forgives me if I kiss his ring - that doesn’t count as forgiveness. Nothing about all this Jesus stuff makes any sense, but the followers of Christ try to speak the language of reason - ‘this is why x, this is how y, therefore we are z’. Up to a point, there is an unmistakeable internal logic to the thing, but it always ends in: faith! Why go through all that unless you’re just trying to fleece people? It really burns me up.

Random stream-of-consciousness religious rant at 1:23 am whee.

Theodore Rex, I would argue that your usage of the following terms indicates a basic misunderstanding on your part of christian belief:


I think it’s particularly interesting that your comments seem to indicate you believe in an objective and universal standard of right and wrong, yet you mock any belief that involves faith.

All of the stupid and annoying things people have done in the name of christianity over the years certainly makes christians an easy target for well-deserved mockery, but you might want to actually learn something about the basic concepts before you say none of it makes sense.

Two points:

  1. Traditional Jews do not believe this is the function of the messiah. No-one can atone for someone else’s sins. (AFAIK the idea of messiah-as-atoner is Pauline in origin)

  2. AFAIK there’s only one sect which holds that their Rebbe is the Messiah (Lubavitch), although I think even they’ve pretty much abandoned that idea.


It might be interesting to compare the stories of Abraham and Jesus from this perspective, since those are the two closest in theme in Christianity.