[quote=Curious]In Karl Keating’s book Catholicsm and Fundamentalism he mentions that Jesus did not have to die. That he could have simply willed our salvation and it would have happened. That He died to show the depth of his love for us. The latter statement, I have no problem with. The former, however, is completely alien to me.
The way I’ve been taught, Jesus’ death was something of a “legal” issue. From the time of Adam and Eve, sin resulted in the shedding of blood. God had to kill some animals to cover Adam and Even with the skins. Later, God instituted the sacrificial system with atoning for sin with the blood of animals.
Originally, God gave Adam dominion over the earth and animals. When Adam sold out to Satan, God could not have just said, “Okay well…that was a bust. I changed my mind. Gimme my earth back.” He could not because He would have had to go back on His word, and God doesn’t do that.
So He had to “buy back” the souls of man by using the system He Himself set up. He Himself came and offered Himself as the final sacrifice - perfect and without blemish like the Passover lamb. And his blood did not simply atone for, it did away with our sins.
So yes…I believe Jesus did have to die according to the system that God Himself laid down. God could have chosen a bloodless redemption but He did not. By remaining spotless, He Himself was the perfect sacrifice to do away with sin “once for all.”
It also follows the concept of “covenant” found throughout the Old Testament. The shedding of blood, the becoming family, the exchange of benefits.
Your conclusion not fall far from what Keating is trying to say. Christ had to suffer and die for our sins as far as God had planned it, but God could have planned any way he wanted to save us.
Augustine supports this when he says that God could have saved us in any number of ways.
Aquinas goes into great depth about why God sent his only son to die to save us rather than just forgiving us. He sets out several reasons and I will set them out here. Here it is.
On the contrary, St. Augustine says (De Trin. xiii): “There was no other more suitable way of healing our misery” than by the Passion of Christ.
I answer that, Among means to an end that one is the more suitable whereby the various concurring means employed are themselves helpful to such end. But in this that man was delivered by Christ’s Passion, many other things besides deliverance from sin concurred for man’s salvation. In the first place, man knows thereby how much God loves him, and is thereby stirred to love Him in return, and herein lies the perfection of human salvation; hence the Apostle says (Rm. 5:8): “God commendeth His charity towards us; for when as yet we were sinners . . . Christ died for us.” Secondly, because thereby He set us an example of obedience, humility, constancy, justice, and the other virtues displayed in the Passion, which are requisite for man’s salvation. Hence it is written (1 Pt. 2:21): “Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps.” Thirdly, because Christ by His Passion not only delivered man from sin, but also merited justifying grace for him and the glory of bliss, as shall be shown later (Question , Article ; Question , Articles , 5). Fourthly, because by this man is all the more bound to refrain from sin, according to 1 Cor. 6:20: “You are bought with a great price: glorify and bear God in your body.” Fifthly, because it redounded to man’s greater dignity, that as man was overcome and deceived by the devil, so also it should be a man that should overthrow the devil; and as man deserved death, so a man by dying should vanquish death. Hence it is written (1 Cor. 15:57): “Thanks be to God who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It was accordingly more fitting that we should be delivered by Christ’s Passion than simply by God’s good-will.