[quote=utica]I need some help.
I’m engaged in a friendly debate in another site with someone who is a former baptist and is now an atheist.
He put this question to me: “If God is omnipotent, how could he sacrifice. Being omnipotent, he would have nothing to lose. He could come down to earth again and again, knowing that he really wasn’t going to die. Therefore, if God does exist, there could be no sacrifice through Jesus.”
He’s been disatisfied with my answers so far, which have dealt with the fact that Jesus was both fully God and fully man.
I’d like to continue this debate with him on strictly logical and reasoned grounds.
I’ve been searching this site, but haven’t been able to find an answer that hits the mark. I’m also about to reread B16’s Introduction to Christianity to try to find some insight.
A googled definition of sacrifice brought this up: *Sacrifice (from a Middle verb meaning ‘to make sacred’, from Old , from Latin sacrificium : sacer, sacred; sacred + facere, to make) *
**Is there something here that’s worth following through on? I think we usually think of sacrifice as something one gives up, rather than as making something sacred.
I greatly appreciate any help. One blessing of engaging non-believers, especially smart non-believers like this fellow, is that it causes me to think more deeply about our faith.
Plus, I think, he’s the type of guy who, if the light bulb goes off, will be as passionate about Christianity as he now is about atheism.
1. Gods were given meals because they were thought to need them - that was part of the understanding of them which was behind the idea of sacrifice, when Israel had its own priesthood: gods needed attention, just as men did. Israel got ideas from its environment - and many of these ideas are present in the NT documents, often in different form: see Romans 12, for example, for what Paul says about sacrifice.
- Sacrifice is given to God, not because God needs it, but because man needs to worship. It’s a need in human nature. Since there is a God, a Being greater than man; and since this God has made all men in His own image, it is not surprising that we should want to act in accord with how He has made us. To give something to God, is what man does in offering sacrifice. It is separated from this-worldly uses - IOW, it is made holy - and it thereby ceases to be man’s, and becomes God’s. That is why destruction of a sacrifice has been so important: by destroying what is given, men make sure that they cannot be given it back - it becomes God’s, no matter what; it is a way to put the sacrifice beyond all possibility of being reclaimed; though, not all sacrifice has involved destruction.
So you’re right - it is made sacred because it is “set apart”, made holy, so that it may be used for a holy purpose: so that it can be “made over” to God’s uses. To be “profane” is to be “outside the temple”, outside the realm of the holy, outside the area where the god of the temple is operative. temples are holy because they are god’s houses;& the most holy place in them, the sanctuary, is holy because it is where the god lives. the priest is the person who transfers the “profane” offering (a calf, say) from being “profane” to being “holy”. It can be used for the god - it is fit to be offered in sacrifice.
In the Mass, the priest, people, and place are all holy - so all can attend the Sacrifice, instead of being at a distance. God gains nothing - if anything, the God to Whom we sacrifice, is the God Who has provided the means of sacrifice: we give Him only what He has already supplied, so that from His riches we in our poverty may have something to give Him - & that something, is Himself. God is alway giving to us: we could not give to God, if He did not. That is why the Eucharistic Prayer says that “Of your own do we give You”, and stresses that He is the Creator of all things: for as He is, there is nothing that we cannot give to God, just as He has given us Himself in His Son. ##