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A Critique of the Penal Substitution Interpretation of the Cross of Christ

In this essay, John MacDonald attempts to recover the oldest meaning of the cross of Jesus and that of Jesus' resurrection in their historical context. The paper argues that penal substitution, the popular conservative evangelical interpretation of the cross, is incorrect, and furthermore that it results in interpretive absurdities when applied to the text/evidence. Penal substitution claims that a just God lacks the ability to forgive, and so requires punishment for sin, where the innocent Jesus was substituted for us sinners and brutally bore the punishment for our sins, wiping our sin debt clean. By contrast, this essay presents a nonpenal substitution participation crucifixion model, where Jesus is understood to be our willing victim as a catalyst for opening our eyes to our hidden "satanic influenced vileness" and for encouraging repentance. The oldest meaning of the resurrection of Jesus will also be shown to be what Jesus' disciples took to be evidence for overcoming death in a blessed way, and empowering us to live righteously. The cross/resurrection argument will further be contextualized in a Second Temple framework of apocalypticism and demonology/superstition to show that the original meaning of the cross and resurrection is so divorced from most modern Christian frameworks and beliefs that many modern Christian would reject the heart of what their ancient counterpart would hold as fundamental to living a good and holy Christian life. The upshot is that the usual modern conservative interpretations of the cross and resurrection bear no, or at least merely superficial, relation to the original ancient ones.

The Origin of Evil

Where did evil in the world come from? In this article Edouard Tahmizian considers God's causal influence on the origin of evil. He aims to show that, if biblical hard determinism is true, God would be the efficient cause of Adam and Eve's transgression—the original sin that the rest of humanity inherited when the first humans, Adam and Eve, purportedly ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil according to the Book of Genesis. Moreover, he argues, even if biblical hard determinism is not true and all events could have turned out differently, God would still be the final cause of Adam and Eve's sin, making him at least somewhat causally responsible for the sin of Adam and Eve that we all purportedly inherited. In the end, Tahmizian's analysis implies that God is ultimately the source of all evil.

Hallucinatory Near-Death Experiences

This essay has been significantly revised to reflect updates that were published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies in 2007. Several points have been streamlined for clarity and to remove unnecessary verbiage. The section on psychophysiological correlates has been rewritten to be much more accessible, and now ends on a discussion of what is implied by the influence of medical factors on NDE content. A discussion of circumstantial evidence of temporal lobe instability among NDErs has been added to the section on the role of the temporal lobe in NDEs. A few points have been incorporated into the main text from Augustine's replies to Journal commentaries where they elaborate on points in the lead essays, such as a discussion of why cross-cultural diversity undermines a survivalist interpretation of NDEs. That argument is followed up by a similar one, cut for space from the Journal discussions, about the meaning of the apparently random distribution of pleasant and distressing NDEs. Additionally, a large number of new endnotes have been added to this essay. Most of these summarize the most important points of the Journal exchanges (notes 1-6, 10, 17, 20, 23, 28, and 30-32), but a significant number also concern other issues or recent developments (notes 5, 7, 8, 11-16, and 22).

The Case Against Immortality

An analysis of the philosophical arguments and scientific evidence against life after death, one which weighs the parapsychological evidence for survival of bodily death against the physiological evidence for the dependence of consciousness on the brain This essay is divided into four main sections: Defining the Problem; The Philosophical Case Against Immortality; The Scientific Case Against Immortality; and Postscript on Survival.

The Christian Nation Myth

The Christian Nation Myth Farrell Till Whenever the Supreme Court makes a decision that in any way restricts the intrusion of religion into the affairs of government, a flood of editorials, articles, and letters protesting the ruling is sure to appear in the newspapers. Many protesters decry these decisions on the grounds that they conflict […]

Mathew Intro

An Introduction to Atheism (1997) mathew   Traducción al Español / Spanish translation (Off Site) Português / Portuguese translation (Off Site) | Danish translation (Off Site) | Russian translation Foreword This article attempts to provide a general introduction to atheism. Whilst I have tried to be as neutral as possible regarding contentious issues, you should always remember that […]

Richard Carrier Atheism

What is Atheism Really All About? (1996) Richard Carrier   "He who decides a case without hearing the other side, even if he decides justly, cannot be considered just" — Seneca What is an Atheist? An atheist is a person who does not believe that any gods exist. Why don’t you believe in God? There […]