Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #11 – Paying for sin?

Jesus on the cross

This article continues a series examining R.E. Pucket’s article “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer“. 

 

A variety of the Christian views that Pucket attacks in these questions are held by a very specific sect of Christian believers, and by no means characterize the whole of Christian views. The questions also occasionally make broad statements which either mischaracterize Biblical teachings, or are backed up with no supporting evidence. Where these mistakes are made, the responses are largely aimed at correcting these mischaracterizations. This is not to say that the attack has no merit, but the attack would need to be re-worked to fit a proper representation of that belief. 

One of the important things that the Pucket list teaches is the danger of dogmatism. If a system of belief stands or falls on every minute doctrine or teaching within the system, then disarming one of these causes the whole thing to fall. Christianity has undergone inspection by hosts of intelligent and thoughtful people over its 2000-year history. Some, like Pucket, have come to the conclusion that it was untenable. Many more have explored different ways of thinking about and applying Christian ideas that do not involve abandoning the system. The very fact that Christianity is a system of thought that allows individual thinkers to explore it, rather than to blindly embrace it, at least suggests that it is not a system of intellectual tyranny.  

This author suggests that many of things about Christians popularly believe may be found faulty without the entire system being destroyed. For Christianity to be untrue, it would have to be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that either humans do not require some sort of salvation from evil and suffering, or that no such salvation has been provided. 

The answers provided to the questions in this series may not always be punchy rejoinders, magic bullets, or truth bombs. They may be far from convincing to a skeptic; however they do show that Christianity is at the very least internally consistent and existentially plausible. 

Finally, it is worth noting that the questions are sometimes phrased in highly emotive or sarcastic forms. These articles will attempt to respond to the fundamental objection being raised, rather than the tone in which they are presented, however the questions themselves will be presented in their original form. 

Source

11 – If Jesus died on the cross and spent three days in hell to pay for the sins of the world, then why would we have to go to hell ourselves and pay for them again? God is then, in essence, being paid for our sins twice. With that said, was Jesus’ sacrifice not worthy enough? If that is the case, why should we care that he died for our sins if his sacrifice means nothing at all? 

There is little or no scriptural reference to Jesus going to hell, and this is certainly not universally held to be true by Christian denominations. This little doctrinal difference aside, the question still remains: why would anyone have to pay for their sins if Christ already paid for them?

This is fairly simple. Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient, but the salvation it offers certainly isn’t compulsory. As always, people still have the choice of abandoning their self-centered mindset, repent of their misdeeds, and cling to the salvation Jesus purchased; or they have the choice to continue to pursue their self-interests at the expense of the grace offered by God.
People are not dragged kicking and screaming into God’s presence. They either freely choose to approach him, or they do not.

Consider, for instance, this verse from the book of Romans.

Romans 4:4-5English Standard Version (ESV)

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Here, it essentially states that there are two potential means of access to Heaven: being entirely perfect by your own works, or accepting the free gift of salvation purchased by Christ through his death and resurrection. One has the option of one or the other, but since it is virtually impossible to work your way to heaven, one must necessarily accept Christ’s gift. Even so, it must be accepted.

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