When that Christian emperor, Constantine, had murdered his wife, son, nephew, and several other relatives, he raised his hands toward heaven, and exclaimed, "The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin." Here is an example of the pernicious and demoralizing effect of the Christian doctrines of atonement and forgiveness.
The [Dead Sea] Scrolls reveal the dementia of men who believed in the coming of a blood-crazed Messiah. They also help us to understand the dementia of men who believe in the intervention of the divine savior. After all, what if the concept of divine salvation by proxy was spawned by men too spiritually malignant and toxic to make moral and spiritual changes of their own bat? The man who requires a divine mediator to "save" him from his own sins, is the man incapable of moral change for its own sake. Weak, demon-haunted, men of this kind are plentiful today and were plentiful in ages past. The first Christian emperors and bishops (such as Augustine of Hippo) were such men. St. Paul - the great Christologist himself - was definitely such a man. His own words show that he was troubled of heart and filled with animosity towards himself and his grievous sins. Masochism and extreme guilt are common dilemmas among "good" Christians.
Every man must be his own priest before God. There can be no other, for every man must be his own savior through his own Holy Spirit within himself
Christian symbolism made Jesus the sacrificial Lamb of God slain to atone for sin like the paschal lamb. Some early Christian writers insisted that animal sacrifice came first, and human sacrifice was a later, "higher" development: "God is a man-eater. For this reason men are sacrificed to him." Among medieval theologians there was a general opinion that Jesus's sacrifice was not really effective; only "a few" were saved by the Savior's death. St. Thomas Aquinas and others claimed the vast majority of people were still doomed to eternal suffering in hell. Thus the theory of atonement for all time or for all humanity was actually denied by the same church that propounded it as a basis for worldly power.
A ram played the part of Sin Bearer at atonement festivals of Egypt, which is why Aries the Ram is still the zodiacal sign of the New Year that began in March, by ancient reckoning. Egyptians called him Amon the ram god; the Jews assimilated him to the paschal lamb and sacrificed him at Passover.
In ancient Mesopotamia the Day of Atonement corresponded to the beginning of the New Year, when all sins were collectively purged for a new time-cycle.
As a salvation cult, early Christianity based its scheme of redemption on the premise of female wickedness. Salvation was needed because there had been a Fall, brought about by archetypal Woman. Without the myth of Eve's defiance, there would have been no sin, hence no need for salvation or savior. Fathers of the church declared that the original sin was perpetuated through
all generations by every woman, through sexual conception and birth-giving. Woman's mysterious, devilish sexual magnetism seduced men into the "concupiscence" that, even within lawful marriage, transmitted the taint of sin to every man. So said St. Augustine, and the church never altered his opinion.
But there is a yet deeper part of our animal selves which lies completely below the threshold of consciousness and is inaccessible to it. We cannot transform this part by the exercise of free will, no matter how persistent, because the corruption of our animal selves has seeped down into our vegetable and mineral selves.
In order to purify and transform these parts of ourselves we need supernatural help.
The mission of the Sun god [Jesus], then, was to sink right down into deepest matter, introducing his transforming spiritual influence. The Sun god has the ability to reach right down into the most material part of humanity, which is why it was written 'None of his bones shall be broken'.
Theologians insist that the blood of Christ spilled upon Golgotha purifies all who believe on him, and by a unique virtue cleanses all men of original sin. This is, indeed, a strange foundation for a faith; and is peculiar to Christendom alone of all great religions. [...]
Frankly and honestly, this entire belief and all the consequences that have been built upon it, have been footed on a most insecure foundation. There is no absolute proof that it did take place. The principal and almost sole foundation of the crucifixion account are in the Gospels, and the immense literature derived from the Gospels. It follows therefore that until the Gospels themselves are authenticated and their true authorship determined, no account peculiar to them can be regarded as historically established.
The theme of human and animal sacrifice can be easily charted from the ancient world to the present day. Ironically, but understandably in the context of this book, much of it was designed to preserve life rather than destroy it. The belief was that one sacrifice to appease ‘the gods’ would protect the lives of many more. This is another origin of the concept of the scapegoat, the one killed for the ‘sins’ of others. This has, of course, manifested as many mythical religious ‘heroes’ who “died so our sins could be forgiven”.
Anyway, Christians will tell you that they have been bathed in the blood of the lamb. Now, nothing could be more repulsive than to be bathed in the blood of the lamb. But, that is exactly what the high priest in ancient Israel, and the ancient Hebrew religious philosophies would do. They would cut the heads of the lambs off, and then they would drain the blood and sprinkle the blood on the sacrifice and then sprinkle the blood on the people as a great blessing, and then they would sprinkle it on themselves. And, that is very holy, until you start to think about it, and see what it looked like to see an old man with blood all over him. That just does not bring up, into my mind, something of holiness. That sounds like animal sacrifice and cruelty to animals.
This covenant of Melchizedek with Abraham represents the great Urantian agreement between divinity and humanity whereby God agrees to do everything; man only agrees to believe God's promises and follow his instructions. Heretofore it had been believed that salvation could be secured only by works—sacrifices and offerings; now, Melchizedek again brought to Urantia the good news that salvation, favor with God, is to be had by faith. But this gospel of simple faith in God was too advanced; the Semitic tribesmen subsequently preferred to go back to the older sacrifices and atonement for sin by the shedding of blood.
Belief is the act of be-living, for to be live is to believe...
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the father. Every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.
And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The hierophants had their atonement enacted in the Mystery of Initiation ages before the Gnostics, or even the Essenes, had appeared. It was known among hierophants as the BAPTISM OF BLOOD, and was considered not as an atonement for the "fall of man" in Eden, but simply as an expiation for the past, present, and future sins of ignorant but nevertheless polluted mankind. The hierophant had the option of either offering his pure and sinless life as a sacrifice for his race to the gods whom he hoped to rejoin, or an animal victim. The former depended entirely on their own will. At the last moment of the solemn "new birth," the initiator passed "the word" to the initiated, and immediately after that the latter had a weapon placed in his right hand, and was ordered to strike. This is the true origin of the Christian dogma of atonement.
Sin must be redefined as deliberate disloyalty to Deity. There are degrees of disloyalty: the partial loyalty of indecision; the divided loyalty of confliction; the dying loyalty of indifference; and the death of loyalty exhibited in devotion to godless ideals.
The ancient social brotherhoods were based on the rite of blood drinking; the early Jewish fraternity was a sacrificial blood affair. Paul started out to build a new Christian cult on "the blood of the everlasting covenant." And while he may have unnecessarily encumbered Christianity with teachings about blood and sacrifice, he did once and for all make an end of the doctrines of redemption through human or animal sacrifices. His theologic compromises indicate that even revelation must submit to the graduated control of evolution. According to Paul, Christ became the last and all-sufficient human sacrifice; the divine Judge is now fully and forever satisfied.
But men and women are addicted to making foolish and needless vows, and the men of old held all such pledges to be highly sacred.
Human sacrifice has been virtually universal; it persisted in the religious customs of the Chinese, Hindus, Egyptians, Hebrews, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Romans, and many other peoples, even on to recent times among the backward African and Australian tribes. The later American Indians had a civilization emerging from cannibalism and, therefore, steeped in human sacrifice, especially in Central and South America. The Chaldeans were among the first to abandon the sacrificing of humans for ordinary occasions, substituting therefor animals.
Animal sacrifice meant much more to primitive man than it could ever mean to modern races. These barbarians regarded the animals as their actual and near kin. As time passed, man became shrewd in his sacrificing, ceasing to offer up his work animals. At first he sacrificed the best of everything, including his domesticated animals.
The tendency to bow down before power and to prostrate oneself in worshipful adoration in the presence of mystery is foreshadowed in the fawning of the dog before its master. It is but one step from the impulse of worship to the act of sacrifice. Primitive man gauged the value of his sacrifice by the pain which he suffered. When the idea of sacrifice first attached itself to religious ceremonial, no offering was contemplated which was not productive of pain. The first sacrifices were such acts as plucking hair, cutting the flesh, mutilations, knocking out teeth, and cutting off fingers. As civilization advanced, these crude concepts of sacrifice were elevated to the level of the rituals of self-abnegation, asceticism, fasting, deprivation, and the later Christian doctrine of sanctification through sorrow, suffering, and the mortification of the flesh.
Primitive man regarded himself as being in debt to the spirits, as standing in need of redemption. As the savages looked at it, in justice the spirits might have visited much more bad luck upon them. As time passed, this concept developed into the doctrine of sin and salvation. The soul was looked upon as coming into the world under forfeit--original sin. The soul must be ransomed; a scapegoat must be provided. The head-hunter, in addition to practicing the cult of skull worship, was able to provide a substitute for his own life, a scapeman.
The savage was early possessed with the notion that spirits derive supreme satisfaction from the sight of human misery, suffering, and humiliation. At first, man was only concerned with sins of commission, but later he became exercised over sins of omission. And the whole subsequent sacrificial system grew up around these two ideas.