I was raised Catholic, never really “rebelled” against the Church as a teen or any of that stuff, but throughout my life (I’m in my fifties) my faith has waxed and waned. Much about Catholicism appeals to me greatly, but at this point I think that appeal might be largely due to nostalgia. I am broadly sympathetic to the whole Catholic enterprise–particularly in its ethical teaching and its philosophical underpinnings, but I have big problems with many of Christianity/Catholicism’s main doctrines. My interest in ritual, liturgy, etc., is about nil. My belief in the Real Presence is also about about nil–I haven’t taken communion for a couple years. I have a slew of questions, and I do a lot of reading on various religion/theology-related topics, but I thought I’d put one out here to see if I could get some help.
This one’s really basic (not simple, I grant you, but certainly fundamental): Why is our salvation necessary and how does it supposedly work?
Here’s the context for the question… I was listening to a sermon the other day in which the priest said that “we are responsible for the death of Christ by our sins.” This is not new, of course. We’ve all heard it a thousand times. And I take the line of reasoning to go something like this: Our sinful nature is offensive to God, and we need to be rescued. This rescue could only be effected by a blood sacrifice, so God sent his Son, the spotless lamb, so to speak, to pay the price in our place. The challenges, for me, with this argument are many, and many questions pop up. Why is a sacrifice required in the first place? How does killing someone (i.e., the sacrifice) help anything? And I’m not so sure I buy the notion that our sins are so offensive to God as to require this kind of fix. How can we “offend” an omnipotent, omniscient Creator? He made us; didn’t he see our “offensiveness” coming? I understand the argument about free will being a requirement for loving and for doing genuine good (i.e., doing good only has value in a world where doing bad is possible), but if that’s God’s take on it (free will as a baseline feature of human nature), then why doesn’t He abide by that design decision and let us live with its consequences? Why offer us an “out” by sending Christ? And how does sending an incarnate version of Himself to carry out the expiation accomplish anything? Isn’t that something like an adult man being brought in to pinch-hit in a Little League game? He’s going to dominate, but how meaningful will it be to him?
I know this all supposedly goes back to Adam & Eve, or original sin, but that’s just another problematic can of worms. How do the personal failings of our first ancestors devolve onto us? In what logical or ethical system does that seem reasonable?
Lots there, but what I’m looking for at this point is a simple point-by-point explanation of why salvation is necessary and how the Christian version of it is supposed to work.