The Role of Sacrifice

All religions have this theme of sacrifice and repentance, but one religion has finessed it in a brilliant way that few commentators have grasped. The story starts in Genesis. Instead of making Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac, God lets him sacrifice a ram instead, which you will probably agree is much more sensible. The Jews developed this form of sacrifice into a fine art. The Temple in Jerusalem had a special system to drain away all the blood when the rich brought hundreds of animals at a time to the slaughter.

But then came a radical change. About 2000 years ago in a confusing episode over which people still furiously argue, God said: Enough of all this wasteful sacrifice. Because I so love the world, I will sacrifice my own Son for your sins so you don’t have to sacrifice your sons or your livestock.

This Christian doctrine can have a practical effect. In China, when non-Christian villagers experience sickness or misfortune they often sacrifice their livestock to appease the evil spirits. But Christian villagers don’t sacrifice, for Jesus already died for their sins.

They end up being more prosperous.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

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