While I have never been an atheist, if I had not come across the unique concepts of theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, I would have rejected all official systems of belief. I certainly would have rejected, and still do, all ideas by the traditional Christian Church that faith trumps enlightenment.
There is something wrong when millions upon millions of hungry and curious neurons occupying the human brain are asked to have “faith” and “belief” at the expense of knowledge and rationality.
What really makes my neurons cringe is the doctrinal idea that God is “three Persons” and that Jesus ransomed His life to appease the wrath of His Father. Such doctrinal notions implore us to suspend all reasoning and blindly believe that by some kind of divine hocus-pocus (called a divine mystery) Jesus magically took all our sins and guilt to the cross with Him, and by dying on the cross, put the Father into the right mood and loving frame of mind to again be interested in human salvation.
Besides this scenario making Jehovah God look temperamental and subject to moods, I am at a loss as to how anyone’s bad behavior can be transferred and credited to Jesus, or how the Father can then credit us back with righteousness. This is “voodoo” redemption and implies that Christians are spared from living a life according to the Commandments.
It also suggests that God is glorified in the same way men wish to be glorified—by being served rather than serving, since good works play no part in our redemption.
Jesus was not a ransom for an angry Father-God. If this were so, then Jesus would not have started a ministry and gone to great lengths to share new teachings. While on earth, what Jesus did ransom was His human inclination to exercise command and dominate others. Instead, He choose to wash the feet of the seemingly unworthy. This self-induced humbling action is how God was glorified. The Lord attained greatness through humility rather than through a show of force or might.
“It shall not be so among you; but whosoever would be great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:26-28, Mark 10:44,45)
The Lord took human sin upon Himself by coming into the world and acquiring an imperfect physical body through a human female and real human ovum. In this way, He acquired humankind’s defects and hereditary inclinations towards evil. During the Lord’s life on earth He was given the medium through which He could be influenced by and defeat evil, until He succeeded in perfecting His human nature and uniting it with His divine nature (which was Jehovah). Jesus was Jehovah, and became the Alpha and Omega.
This process of the Lord uniting his human nature with His divine spirit, or Jehovah, was one of perfect humility (exinanition) that reached its ultimate intensity on the cross where the human flesh cried out to be spared from this indignity and be treated specially. Instead of coming down from the cross and showing His true power, he fought to stay on the cross. He brought His flesh under the complete control of the divine will. He showed His ultimate power that divine truth ruled over the selfish and anxious impulses of human flesh.
There is nothing more contrary to heavenly love than the love of self. Therefore, what was ransomed by the Lord’s life on earth was the human compulsion to be served by others for the sake of self and demand obedience.
If the Lord had come off the cross and taken full control, He would have compelled humankind to worship Him. Only humans compel others and force them into submission.
But coercion is not the strategy of God’s Infinite wisdom.
Love is God’s strategy. This includes His first Advent and Second Coming.