Most Christians assert that mankind needed a sacrifice to redeem their sins, but an
ordinary human sacrifice wouldn’t do; only a divine sacrifice would suffice. Strict
monotheists—be they Orthodox Jew, Unitarian Christian or Muslim—may object, as in
this typical exchange:
Monotheist: Oh. So you believe God died?
Trinitarian: No, no, perish the thought. Only the man died. Monotheist: In that case, the sacrifice didn’t need to be divine, if only the
Trinitarian: No, no, no. The manpart died, but Jesus/God had to suffer on
the cross to atone for our sins. Monotheist: What do you mean “had to”? God doesn’t “have to” anything.
Trinitarian: God needed a sacrifice and a human wouldn’t do. God needed
a sacrifice big enough to atone for the sins of mankind, so He sent His
only begotten son. Monotheist: Then we have a different concept of God. The God I believe
in doesn’t have needs. My God never wants to do something but can’t
because He needs something to make it possible. My God never says,
“Gee, I want to do this, but I can’t. First I need this certain something.
Let’s see, where can I find it?” In that scenario God would be dependent
upon whatever entity could satisfy His needs. In other words, God would
have to have a higher god. For a strict monotheist that’s just not possible,
for God is One, supreme, selfsufficient, the source of all creation.
Mankind has needs, God doesn’t. We need His guidance, mercy and
forgiveness, but He doesn’t need anything in exchange. He may desire
servitude and worship, but he doesn’t need it.
Trinitarian: But that’s the point; God tells us to worship Him, and we do
that through prayer. But God is pure and holy, and mankind are sinners. We can’t approach God directly because of the impurity of our sins.
Hence, we need an intercessor to pray through. Monotheist: Question—did Jesus sin?
Trinitarian: Nope, he was sinless. Monotheist: How pure was he?
Trinitarian: Jesus? 100% pure. He was God/Son of God, so he was 100%
Monotheist: But then we can’t approach Jesus any more than we can God,
by your criterion. Your premise is that mankind can’t pray directly to God
because of the incompatibility of sinful man and the purity of anything
100% holy. If Jesus was 100% holy then he’s no more approachable than
God. On the other hand, if Jesus wasn’t 100% holy, then he was himself
tainted and couldn’t approach God directly, much less be God, the Son of
God, or partner with God.
A fair analogy might be that of going to meet a supremely righteous man—the
holiest person alive, holiness radiating from his being, oozing from his pores. So we go to
see him, but are told the “saint” won’t agree to the meeting. In fact, he can’t stand to be in the same room with a sintainted mortal. We can talk with his receptionist, but the saint
himself? Fat chance! He’s much too holy to sit with us lesser beings. So what do we think
now? Does he sound holy, or crazy?
Common sense tells us holy people are approachable—the holier, the more
approachable. So why should we need an intermediary between us and God?
Frustration approaches critical mass for anyone who attempts to argue such
issues, for rational discussion gives way to emotionally charged justifications. For
example, when scriptural evidence fails, those who argue on the basis of nonbiblical
doctrine are forced to close the book from which they claim to take guidance (i.e., the
Bible) and switch gears to the mystical. Who can argue with such condescending
questions as, “Haven’t you ever felt the power of Jesus in your life?” Whether or not a person (including the one asking) understands the question is a
separate issue. Strict monotheists can be quick to answer in the affirmative, but with the
amendment that the truth Jesus taught is more powerful than the blasphemies that
subsequently grew to dominate Christianity. The strict monotheist, whether Orthodox
Jew, Unitarian Christian or Muslim, might also question what the power of Satan’s
deception might feel like. Pretty slick and persuasive, we would think, for how many
souls could Satan win over if he didn’t appear in a cloak of righteousness?