The common view of salvation within traditional Christianity is to view the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the purchase of the souls of those who believe Jesus is the Son of God who offered himself as a necessary sacrifice to God for the forgiveness of sins so we would not spend eternity in Hell, but in Heaven. For this theology to work, Jesus must be the only begotten Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and without sin to be the only acceptable sacrifice God required as just payment for the sins of the world. This theology contradicts itself and makes no sense if God is “just” as Christian theology claims, since a “just God” could never by definition be unjust, which is exactly what it means to punish the innocent for the sake of the guilty. As found in Proverbs:15.
“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.”
Yet acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – that which contradicts the very “just” nature of God is exactly what traditional Christian theology purports to be God’s method of “salvation” when it claims that Jesus, as the innocent spotless Lamb of God, was sacrificed to save the guilty from their sins.
Despite this self-contradictory theology, and the fact there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for egotistical survival of physical death, the ego finds the notion of “eternal life” far too appealing to its natural self-preservation mechanism to resist, and persists in believing what is impossible because of its instinct to preserve itself at all costs, even if it means lying to itself to pacify its hopes and validate its fears. The ego is the very notion of identity – the notion of “I,” or “me,” as separate and distinct from “other.” One of the ways the ego distinguishes and defines itself from others is it clings to ideas it finds appealing to itself, such as being the center of the universe, and belief systems which validate its desires to live forever. Christianity promises “eternal life” for our egos if we believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, as it says in the Biblical passage from John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
With a reward so tantalizing for a price that cheap – simply believing in the idea someone else can be scapegoated so we do not have to accept the full responsibility and consequences for our actions, it is understandable why so many sheep are led astray by the shepherds who preach this ego-based gospel of delusion. The ego simply desires to be validated in what it wants to believe. Since Christianity validates many deep-seated ego needs better than most if not all other religions, and has been very skillfully crafted to appeal to the hopes and fears of the masses through the coercive means of reward and punishment, promoted and backed by the authority of the Roman Empire, which at its height was the most extensive political and social structure in the history of western civilization, it is no wonder Christianity’s popularity is greater than that of any other religion.
Beyond Christianity’s self-contradictory theology, the foundation for the entire Judeo-Christian conception of salvation – ego, the “soul,” the self-concept, the very notion of “me,” of “I,” is ultimately an illusion to begin with, rendering all belief structures which assume the ultimate reality of the self to be fiction. Since All is One, the self cannot possibly be anything but an illusion. There is only One Reality, thereby making any such thing as “individual immortality” a fantasy and nothing more. This poses a serious problem for all who would defend the correctness of Judeo-Christian and Islamic theology, which among other religions, falsely assumes the ultimate reality of the ego, the “soul,” the self. It fascinates me I have rarely heard any criticisms of any of these religions from this point of view – by either “religious” authorities or secular, but it is this single, damning truth which makes all of these ego-based theologies utterly false and invalid from start to finish. This means the Christian notion of the “righteous” going to Heaven, with the “unrighteous” going to Hell after they die, is just as implausible as the Muslim belief the “righteous men” will get 72 virgins in paradise after they die. Both are based on the same delusion – that the self, the “I,” the “me” will survive physical death, when it will not.
True Salvation, True Freedom is in not needing one’s ego to survive physical death. To not have the need to be “saved,” “justified,” or validated is True Eternal Life, since all else is nothing more than enslavement to our illusory egos. True Salvation is Real Freedom since it is independent of the ego, and involves seeing it for the illusion it is instead of needing to endlessly justify it, as is the case in the Judeo-Christian, Islamic notions of salvation. We are only free when we no longer need to hang on to the childhood fantasy of immortality, and can accept the limits of our lives with grace, dignity, and an immensity of respect and humility only the stark realization of the fact of the permanence of mortality can bring. When the Oneness of All is seen – truly seen, not simply “understood” as an intellectual concept, true liberation takes place because that is when one is finally dead to the ego and its illusions, when all the wasted movements of game-playing egotistical self-justification comes to an end. This is what it truly means die into Eternal Life – to be dead to the ego and its illusory existence – to see it for what it is. This is True Salvation, not being deemed “righteous” before a “just” and “holy” god. True Salvation has everything to do with awareness, and has nothing whatsoever to do with “righteousness.” Being “made right” or “justified” depends on the reality of the ego because there must be some thing to justify. Since the ego, also referred to as the “soul” or “spirit” is ultimately not Reality, and is an illusion, there truly is no thing to justify. All is One.
It is understandable why almost nobody would want to admit the fact all ego-based theologies are untrue, because almost nobody wants to admit the totality of their egotistical existence is ultimately illusory. We believe we are “real,” when in truth; we are unique, temporary manifestations of the same One. We are, in a sense, “real,” but only in so far as our dreams are real – actual experiences in our mind, but not Reality. We, like all of manifested existence, are indeed “God’s dreams” and “God’s nightmares” – “real” in a sense, yet temporary, passing, and illusory – just like our own dreams. Since all is of one essence, there can be no “individual essence,” as to think so would be a contradiction, like a round square. Therefore, since there is no such thing as the individual soul, then there is no “thing” to be “saved.” The notion of a “soul” is merely an egotistical projection of the hope our mortal selves with our collection of memories and relationships will never die, and our fears of losing our self-identity and relationships. This notion of “salvation” is completely selfish, childish, and entirely egotistical, as it is all about me. It is all about my soul, my salvation, my standing before a “just” and “holy” god, with my ego getting to “live forever” in an “eternal reward” for good behavior and/or believing in the “right things.” The consequences of believing in this egotistical notion of salvation are endless. We hurt, kill, threaten, shun, coerce, and destroy others who do not share our beliefs, attempting to “convert” others through coercion, creating “Hell” on Earth through our own ignorance. The Crusades and the Inquisitions are perfect examples of this, but even the less extreme examples of modern-day Christian fundamentalism with their anti-homosexual, anti-intellectual, religiously intolerant ways is a contradiction to the notion of a “God of Love,” and is reflective instead of a god of ignorance and stupidity. And by their fruits, we shall know.
Unlike the non-truthful story of humanity’s “fall” in the Biblical book of Genesis, it is admirable and refreshing to hear Buddhism’s honesty in the way they illustrate the truthful origins of us all – born into illusion, with enlightenment being a process of peeling away all layers of the illusions of the ego so the Truth of the Oneness of All can be revealed. Christianity teaches we “fell from grace” by displeasing God, and had to be redeemed to Him through the brutal torturing and murdering of his son, and believing this “sacrifice” was “acceptable” to a “holy God.” The difference between the two visions of salvation is beyond striking. They are completely opposite views. One believes in the reality of the self, while the other sees it as illusion. What makes Buddhism truthful is that it accepts the truth the ego is illusion, making enlightenment, true salvation all about awakening to this truth, while Christianity is completely false because it is all about justifying the illusion of the self, the ego, through the bloody sacrifice of God’s son. The Buddhist view is truthful, without contradiction, and therefore makes sense. The Christian view is riddled with contradictions, is not truthful, and therefore makes no sense whatsoever.
Endless justifications of the illusory ego, as found within egocentric worldviews such as Christianity and Islam, will never make us a truly compassionate people, even it such an idea was true. That is the point virtually everyone misses. It does not matter whether the “soul” or “spirit” actually exists because even if it did, the fact is, we cannot be compassionate while attached to our egos, our self-concepts, or “souls,” because under such a scenario, we are always looking first and foremost to defend our ideals, beliefs, and everything else the ego constructs to separate us from everyone and everything else, leading to endless conflict and war. The very act of defending itself is war-mongering behavior, so whether or not the soul exists is not the point. The point is when we know we have nothing to defend, and simply engage a dialogue of truth instead of playing an egotistical game of defending our beliefs, real communication can actually take place. The problem is, most of us are so busy defending our egos and their corresponding agendas, beliefs, ideologies, and faiths, we are not open to dialogue to discover what is actually true. Instead our egos think the beliefs it constructs to comfort and defend itself are truth, when they are not at all one in the same as awareness of that which is actually true. Defensiveness always prevents true communication no matter what it is we are defending, whether it is our religious beliefs or any other agenda. That is why if we want to live lives of real compassion and understanding, then we have no choice but to let go of our egos and its corresponding beliefs and prejudices. Christianity teaches its believers the exact opposite, to hold on to our egos, and justify them by accepting Jesus Christ as “Lord and Savior.” This is why Christianity, like Islam, produces so much war, conflict, and suffering. Whenever the illusion of the self is perpetuated, there is always inevitable conflict and misery. Christians often try to smooth this over by saying the “soul” or “spirit” is somehow “different” and “uncorrupted,” unlike the ego, but this too is an illusion since the soul and the ego are one and the same. The “soul” or “spirit” is simply nothing more than a projection of our ego – our self-concept, onto an idealized “version” of itself. The words “soul” and “spirit” are just clever adjectives the ego creates to “legitimize” itself with “spiritual words.” It’s as simple as that. Calling the ego a different word, such as a “soul” or a “spirit,” combined with the concept it will somehow “live forever” does not make it true. It is just another manifestation of the self-justifying egocentric dualistic game and nothing more.
Christianity teaches there is “hope” for our “souls” if we “believe Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world,” enabling us to spend Eternity with him in Heaven. This is a complete delusion since there is no such thing as the permanent reality of the self. The truth of the matter is, there is never any hope for the ego. There is never any hope for any manifested form, as all are impermanent and illusory. What the ego wants to believe is that its form will “live forever,” when it never will. The only which is forever is the Oneness of All, the essence of ALL. Hope is the desire for egotistical survival. Hope is therefore fear. Fear is ego. While it is perfectly natural and understandable for the ego to desire permanence, it is an illusion with no reality, just as the Earth was never flat, even though we once believed it to be so.
Also, the very notion of “vicarious redemption,” sometimes also called “imputed righteousness,” which is the idea someone else can be scapegoated so we don’t have to accept responsibility for our actions, is simply immoral since it undermines the very foundation of morality itself – individual accountability. This is perhaps the most damning reason why Christianity is not a moral worldview, since its central premise involves the immoral concept of vicarious redemption. You would have thought the idea of the validity of human sacrifice to appease a god would have died with the ancient Mayans and Incas, and other ancient cultures and religions of our superstitious past, but it is amazingly still alive and well in modern Christianity. We would never deem it “just” to allow a person to serve a lifetime prison sentence for Charles Manson or the death sentence for John Wayne Gacy while letting Manson and Gacy roam free about the world to cause more mischief and bloodshed. This would be not only unjust, but incredibly irresponsible and dangerous to potentially thousands of others as well. Yet God revealed his ignorance on what constitutes genuine “justice” long before Jesus, within the pages of the Old Testament when he allowed others to sacrifice an innocent ”spotless lamb” in their place for their sins – hence the term scapegoating. However, at the same time, the Old Testament itself contains at least three scripture passages which completely contradict the validity of vicarious redemption. From Jeremiah 31:30.
“Instead, everyone will die for his own sin.”
And from Deuteronomy 24:16.
“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children be put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.”
And from Proverbs 17:15.
“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.”
To rebut these passages with the notion that Jesus’ death and resurrection invalidated the Old Testament, contradicts Jesus’ own words as recorded in Matthew 5:18.
“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
And from Matthew 5:17.
“Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
So, for all those who would claim the Old Testament “does not apply” after Jesus, contradicts Jesus’ own words, which in itself creates a major contradiction within Christian theology about the supposed validity of vicarious redemption. We cannot have it both ways.
The reason the concept of vicarious redemption is false is because each action brings its natural consequence. We reap what we sow. The universe has its own natural “balancing” mechanism, “karma” if you will – or action and consequence, which is perfect and absolute, requiring no additional man-made “justice” or “payment” for “sin.” If we were to accept responsibility for our actions without “passing the buck,” life would take care of itself. But because we believe we can make things “better,” by creating our own notions of “justice” when we or others do not accept responsibility, we interfere with action and consequence, because of our egotistical need to control. In doing this, we inadvertently only make things worse, creating all kinds of mischief.
We are not asked to follow and accept an authority to be “saved,” as Christian theology claims, but to be controlled by those who hold the power of that authority, whether it be the church, a prophet, or Jesus Christ. If Jesus ever existed as a truly enlightened and aware human being, he would have never asked we follow an authority – neither him nor anybody else, because those who are about the truth know there is no authority, and the fact all notions of authority are nothing more than playthings of the ego to coerce and manipulate others to do their will. Knowledge of this truth is how we know much of the gospel record is false – particularly the exclusivist, authority-laden propaganda which pervades so much of the Gospel of John in particular. We cannot find truth by following an authority since doing so only enslaves us to another and requires belief. In knowing for ourselves, we do not need to rely on belief, and are no longer second-hand people, but people who are alive with the vitality of the knowledge of truth within. This is only possible when we come to knowledge of truth through our own investigations, not by simply believing in and following an “authority.” Authority following is enslavement. Knowledge for ourselves is freedom. No person who is truly dedicated to the well-being and freedom of another would ever require they follow an authority. They would instead encourage them to find truth within, through their own inquiry. But humanity has historically never been about true freedom. We claim to be dedicated to ensuring the “freedom” of others while hypocritically making slaves of others. We do this because the ego is so terrified of relinquishing control, it does whatever it can to perpetuate slavery. Through slavery, ego can maintain its need to control, not by finding freedom for oneself nor encouraging others to do the same. This clearly reveals what “god” humanity truly worships… and by their fruits, we shall know.
The truth is, nobody can take away our responsibility for our actions. And nobody can “buy” us salvation through the exchange of blood, money, or anything else. Salvation is not that cheap. Salvation is not about justification of the false self, but in awakening to the truth of self’s illusion, and the truth All is One. Nobody can “buy” this for us. Only truth can awaken to itself within each one of us. True salvation cannot be reduced to a mere “spiritual transaction” – a deal cut between ourselves and God. This entire notion as found in Christian theology is disgustingly unjust, untrue, lacking in awareness, and absurdly perverse. Even if we assume as a given all of the Christian notions of God are true, under such a belief, this entire human dilemma could have been much more easily dealt with than the way God handled it, putting himself and his creation through so much needless agony, suffering, and misery. All God had to do to bypass all of this nonsense, was use his perfection to make us “perfect” to begin with, without the ability to sin. That way, everyone, including God, would be happy, and this God of “compassion and love” would not have had to resort to becoming a mass murderer by almost wiping out the whole of humanity in a flood, and later having his son brutally tortured and crucified to satisfy his wrath over our inability to do what he made us incapable of doing in the first place. At this point, the numerous contradictions and mind-blowing absurdity of the Christian notions of God and salvation should be abundantly clear.
What is most shocking about the whole “vicarious redemption” notion in Christianity, is the way God exposes himself as being no better than his “fallen creation.” Instead of showing love and compassion to Adam and Eve for sinning, he condemns and tortures them with crops yielding thorns and increasing women’s’ pains in childbirth, then wonders why humanity becomes lost in sin and destruction after setting the example for us to not take responsibility for our failures, and to “do unto others as we have had done unto us.” God refuses to accept responsibility for his part in creating an imperfect, failed creation, and instead uses scapegoating, passing the guilt and blame on someone else as a means of “salvation” by having his innocent son tortured and crucified, showing himself to be no better than Eve blaming the serpent, or Adam blaming Eve. So God’s brilliant “solution” to the problems of humanity is to do unto them as they did unto him – (an “eye for an eye”), completely the opposite of the Golden Rule Jesus taught to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Two acts of scapegoating, or two “wrongs,” do not make something “justified” or “right” as Christians have been brainwashed into believing. Again, we have a blatant contradiction which cannot be reconciled. The notion of “vicarious redemption” is like a “round square;” because it is a contradiction, and is therefore not true.
Ultimately, the biggest problem with Judeo-Christian theology is the same problem which exists in all theologies which assume the notion of a “creator ego-god,” or a separate “supreme being” from his creation – it assumes the ultimate reality of the self, which is always illusion. Since the self has no lasting reality, then all notions of “selves” or “beings” such as God, Satan, the soul, the saints, angels, spirits, apparitions and the like are all illusions and therefore not true. As long as it is ego, and not the Oneness of All upon which all notions of reality and salvation are based, then we are utterly lost and delusional. This is why Christianity and Islam, among other ego-based theologies, are utterly false and untrue from top to bottom. All ego-based notions are by nature, a contradiction, because the ego is always two-sided, and is therefore not reality. It is only in oneness where contradiction does not exist, because it is only in oneness where there are no “two independent sides” to contradict each other. This is Reality. True salvation lies in recognizing the truth we are not our limited, dualistic egos in need of preservation and justification, but the truth of our natures as the unlimited, egoless, Oneness of All.