In The God Delusion, author Richard Dawkins asks: “If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment … ?”1
The answer depends on three things: What is sin? Why does God oppose it? How can God justly forgive it?
Note: Dawkins begins with the axiom2 that God does not exist. We shall begin with the axiom that God does exist and the Bible is His written Word.
1. What is sin?
When God created Adam and Eve, He made human beings who were not only dependent on Him for existence and life, but who He intended to enjoy a relationship with Him of sharing in His life and love. Sin, in essence, is the desire of mankind to be free from this dependence on God, and indeed from any relationship with God at all.3
When Satan4 tempted Eve to disobey God, the ‘bait’ he used was the assertion “you will be like God”.5 Thus, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had forbidden them, they were defying God, repudiating His authority over them, and elevating their own wills above God’s will.
Sin does not primarily refer to isolated acts (sins), for they are only the outworking of human self-will. It refers primarily to the rebellion of men and women against God, which may range all the way from careless indifference to the hell-bent hostility of which Dawkins’ posturing is an extreme example. Since sin is defined by this opposition to God and his standards, if God doesn’t exist, then the concept of sin becomes meaningless.
2. Why does God oppose sin?
The Creator God of the Bible (Elohim in Genesis chapter 1) is the great “I am who I am” (Yahweh in Exodus 3:14), who claims to be the one and only holy, true, and loving God, whose word and authority are binding on us all absolutely. Cf. “I am the Lord your God … you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2, 3).
Sin an attack on the ‘Godness’ of God
Sin opposes God’s holiness, repudiates His authority, and rejects His self-giving in love. God remains God whatever happens, and so by His very ‘Godness’, i.e. His eternal will as God to be who He is, God must and does oppose sin. If He did not, He would not be God, and there would be no ultimate difference between God’s will and the sinner’s will, or between good and evil. Hence sin merits God’s ‘curse’ (Genesis 3:14–19) and God’s wrath.
God’s wrath is not petulance, but is His holy anger against man’s rejection of the truth about Him (Romans 1:18). It is a measure of the gravity of sin. Inasmuch as sin opposes God’s infinite holiness, God’s perfect justice requires the exercise of His holy wrath. Otherwise He would cease to be God.
Nothing trivial about sin
When we see sin as deliberate rebellion against an infinitely holy and loving God, it is obvious that God cannot “just forgive” it, as Dawkins naïvely suggests. Sin is not just a matter of things we have done, but of what we are in our attitude to God in the light of His perfect holiness, i.e. our polarization against Him. Dawkins’ ‘wave-of-the-hand forgiveness’ implies that all this is so trivial that it doesn’t really matter. Such indifference on God’s part would only encourage us to continue in our rebellion against God, confident that we could do so with impunity.
One result of Adam and Eve’s sin was that they produced offspring with a tendency to sin. We have all been born with a sinful nature—so sin belongs irrevocably to the nature of mankind (Romans 5:12).6 And as long as we are in this condition, God can no longer admit any of us to His presence, apart from judgment.
3. How can God justly forgive sin?
Christ the Son of God
Since the whole of the human race is under God’s condemnation, we can’t initiate reconciliation; it must come from God. And, in His love for us and His grace, He has done just that. His plan to redeem us involved God Himself, in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ,7 entering our humanity in order to deliver us from our captivity to sin.
The deity of Jesus Christ is essential for our salvation, for unless salvation is an act of God it would be worthless. Furthermore, our Redeemer must be fully divine to endure God’s infinite wrath. A mere creature could not withstand it, and the death of anyone else would have no redeeming value. If Jesus is not God, then there is no Gospel.
Christ our substitute
Christ also needed to be ‘one of us’—fully human, yet without sin, a descendant of the first Adam (Genesis 3:20) via Mary; hence He is called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). Thus, in addition to His divinity, He is a blood relative of every human who has ever lived (and so is qualified to be the “kinsman-redeemer” prophesied in Isaiah 59:20). Because of His life of perfect holiness and obedience to God whereby sin had no power over Him, He was uniquely qualified to be the substitute for all humanity. He is not like the priests of Israel who first had to offer sacrifices for their own sins (Hebrews 7:27).
This necessary dual nature of the Redeemer fits perfectly with 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” An effective mediator between two groups should ideally be a member of both. Jesus is such a mediator, because He is the only member of both groups: ‘God’ and ‘man’.
God’s provision for our salvation had to pay the price for our transgression of His law. So Christ, the sinless Son of God, had to die on the Cross as our substitute (His life for ours), to pay the just penalty for our sin.8 The Son of God took our curse upon Himself.9 There was no mitigation (lessening) of judgment, because any such would have meant that God had not really opposed sin, and that sin had not been totally dealt with. So, because our judgment has been paid in full, God can justly forgive all those who exercise faith and repentance,10 and we can know that we are truly forgiven.
Atonement is the divine work of covering and putting away sin, thus creating reconciliation between God and us.11 The Bible says: “God … loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The Greek word translated “propitiation” in the KJV, NASB and ESV, and “expiation” in the RSV, is rendered “atoning sacrifice” in the NIV. It means that when the Lord Jesus died by shedding His blood on the Cross, He was the means whereby the cost of our reconciliation with God was fully met (expiated), and God’s wrath upon us by reason of our sin was turned away (propitiated).
Note that the Bible does not say that Jesus propitiated God, or that Jesus somehow persuaded a reluctant God to forgive us. It was God in His love who supplied the atoning sacrifice, i.e. Jesus Himself is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). So it is God who performs the act of propitiation, expiation, atonement, forgiveness, reconciliation, and removal of sin (cf. Isaiah 43:11).12
The importance of the Resurrection of Jesus
The Cross was no mere act of amnesty,13 but an action in which our sins are utterly dealt with, overcome, and undone. Unless salvation vindicates God’s holiness, righteousness and justice, as well as His love, mercy and grace, it would not be valid. Romans 3:25 tells us: “This was to show God’s righteousness” cf. “ … to demonstrate His justice” (NIV). Furthermore this was ratified by God through the resurrection of Jesus, “who was … raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
Dawkins wonders why Christ had to die. In addition to all the above, one further reason was so that He could overcome death by rising from the dead (before ascending into Heaven). Thus the overcoming/undoing of sin in atonement was confirmed by the overcoming/undoing of death (sin’s consequence) in the resurrection of Jesus. As theologian Thomas Torrance explains: “If death is not actually overcome, then the act of forgiveness has not ultimately touched sin at its very root and undone it.”14
Dawkins would also do well to ponder the fact that the Bible says the resurrection of Jesus is proof that there is a coming Day of Judgment of the living and the dead, at which Christ will be the Judge (Acts 17:31, 10:42).15 And, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).
Dawkins, R., The God Delusion, W.F. Howes edition, Leicester, UK, 2006, p. 373 Return to text.
An axiom is a self-evident principle or one that is accepted as true without proof as the basis for argument. Return to text.
Animals do not sin because they were not created to have a relationship with their Creator, which is a fundamental disconnect between humans and animals. Return to text.
“[S]in came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Return to text.
“Jesus Christ is the full reality of God and the full reality of man in one person, in such a way that his divinity and humanity cannot be divided or separated from one another, but each remain fully what they are without any change or confusion with the other.” Torrance, T., Atonement: The person and Work of Christ, IVP Academic, Illinois, 2009, p. lxxiii. Return to text.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18); cf. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Return to text.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). Return to text.
Note the word “just” in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Return to text.
The word “atonement” was introduced by William Tyndale (from “at-one-ment”) in his 1526 new Testament translation of the Greek words katallassō (καταλλάσσω) and katalagē (καταλλαγή), rendered “reconcile” and “reconciliation” in 2 Corinthians 5:18–19 (KJV). See Gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/2008/12/william-tyndales-atonement. This is reflected in the Anglican Homily for Good Friday which reads: “Without payment God the Father would never be at one with us.” Return to text.
“I, even I, am the Lord: and besides me there is no Saviour.” So calling Jesus ‘Saviour’ is logically calling Him YHWH (Yahweh) since YHWH is the only Saviour. No wonder that the great Trinitarian Church Father Athanasius (c. 293–373) noted: “Those who maintain ‘There was a time when the Son was not’ [i.e. was only a created being] rob God of his Word, like plunderers.” Return to text.
A period during which a law is suspended to allow offenders to admit their crimes without fear of prosecution. Return to text.
“God … commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). “He [Jesus Christ] is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42b). Return to text.
Dawkins, R., The God Delusion, W.F. Howes edition, Leicester, UK, 2006, p. 373
An axiom is a self-evident principle or one that is accepted as true without proof as the basis for argument.
Animals do not sin because they were not created to have a relationship with their Creator, which is a fundamental disconnect between humans and animals.
See Grigg, R.,
“[S]in came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
“Jesus Christ is the full reality of God and the full reality of man in one person, in such a way that his divinity and humanity cannot be divided or separated from one another, but each remain fully what they are without any change or confusion with the other.” Torrance, T., Atonement: The person and Work of Christ, IVP Academic, Illinois, 2009, p. lxxiii.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (
Note the word “just” in
The word “atonement” was introduced by William Tyndale (from “at-one-ment”) in his 1526 new Testament translation of the Greek words katallassō (καταλλάσσω) and katalagē (καταλλαγή), rendered “reconcile” and “reconciliation” in
“I, even I, am the Lord: and besides me there is no Saviour.” So calling Jesus ‘Saviour’ is logically calling Him YHWH (Yahweh) since YHWH is the only Saviour. No wonder that the great Trinitarian Church Father Athanasius (c. 293–373) noted: “Those who maintain ‘There was a time when the Son was not’ [i.e. was only a created being] rob God of his Word, like plunderers.”
A period during which a law is suspended to allow offenders to admit their crimes without fear of prosecution.
Torrance, T., ref. 7, p. xlix.
“God … commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (
I love reading the articles that you email me so thank you. However this one got under my skin because the worlds silliest man was given a reason to be seen as correct and you gave him that reason. In the heading of the article, you say that God "forgives" sin. It is of no interest to the unbeliever what comes next because the heading defies "common sense." How many times does God have to tell us that He has "forgiven" sin and has given to us the ministry of reconcilliation. You infer, when you say "forgives" that Jesus dies repeatedly, He does not He died and paid the price "once" and if anyone thinks He's coming back to do it again they are sorely mistaken as He is coming back again "not for sin but for salvation." You must make this point clear. English words mean something and they should be used correcttly. The cost was met and the price was paid. The issue is "not" sin, the issue is, what you do with Jesus. Mr Dawkins will run you around the yard and back again because he uses the language correctly. He knows what he's doing, he just doesn't understand why! Remember the end of our book shows that Jesus defeated the devil, so in any other way you say it, like forgives other than "forgave" or "has forgiven" infers that it is "not finished."
It's all about what Jesus has already done, praise His wonderful name. Thank you God for your son Thank you that He is Our Lord, Jesus Christ my saviour.
God Bless you and your ministry.
Carl Wieland responds
Thanks for your kind words about the ministry despite the associated rebuke, which we will take in the spirit of Proverbs 27:6, as I'm sure it's well-meant. I hope folk don't take it in the way that concerns you, though even after reflection, I don't think I would have taken it that way as a reader. "Time" words when applied to God can be problematic, because of course from God's perspective in timelessness, He has already forgiven the sin of someone yet unborn who by grace through faith receives His gift of salvation, and is born again through the regenerating power of His Holy Spirit. But since, should the Lord tarry, over the next year, for example, many many people will indeed have their sins forgiven, from their perspective, each of these events is at a point in time that is yet to come. So for that whole year, God is 'forgiving' sin. Just as He is doing so right now for individuals being regenerated in the same fashion. Similarly, it is not an inappropriate use of language for me to say to someone contemplating salvation that, on the basis of Christ's once-for-all death and resurrection, paying the price for sin as a propitiation for God's righteous anger at sin, 'if you cast yourself on God's mercy right now, and seek His forgiveness, believing that He has done in Christ what the Scriptures teach, you can be assured that He has promised that He will in no wise cast you out, and that your sins will be forgiven'. As the old hymn says: "The vilest offender that truly believes, That moment from Jesus a pardon receives."
Richard O., Australia, 22 April 2013
I found this article to be wonderfully accurate, coherent and informative.
As a believer, I already had a strong grasp on what is written in this article. But like many, I am always looking for better ways of answering critics and atheists alike.
This article has successfully (from a Biblical perspective) counter argued 'Richard Dawkins' dilemma'
I thank you for this article. I would like to use it for a tool in my evangelism.
Terry P., Australia, 22 April 2013
“Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” said Jesus, the Son of God.
Why couldn’t God have just forgiven us our sins without sacrificing himself? Maybe, just maybe, if Prof. Dawkins could find it in his heart to forgive God for the “sin of existing”, he might come to appreciate the love of God in paying the price to in order forgive him.
Curtis C., United States, 22 April 2013
It seems abundantly clear to me that God designed the universe and humanity this way out of love. He was willing to give us freewill, but more relevant in this case, He set it up so that in order to express His love for us, even knowing we would choose wrongly, He would suffer one of the worst experiences we can imagine for us.
In creating things this way, God was saying to us, "this is how much I love you." He both created the system that enabled those very, very bad things to occur (though through freewill, rather than God being responsible for them) and willingly put himself on the receiving end of it.
If God had just made the dry, cold universe Dawkins seems to imagine, in which He remains above all that pain and suffering, it would be hard for us to understand just how much He loves us. Dawkins seems to think the point was to find the -easiest- way to forgive sins. But how would that help us understand the depth of God's love?
If I may attempt a Jesus-style parable briefly, it is like the difference between something you buy for one dollar and something you buy for every shred of currency on the entire planet. Whether God could have set things up so that forgiveness could be cheap or not (and I suspect not, as it just wouldn't make sense, as you explained well), this is vastly more meaningful. (Infinitely so.)
I can't understand how anyone with a heart could respond to what God did at the cross with such cold indifference and flippancy as Dawkins does. Sometimes he strikes me as almost inhuman. Of him the description in the Bible of having a heart of stone seems apt. I can only pray that somehow God may lead even him and his followers to repentance and new life in Jesus.
Robert S., Australia, 22 April 2013
“If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment …?”
Dawkins himself is living proof of the seriousness of sin…
"For all our days have passed away in your wrath; we finish our years as a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Psalm 90:9, 10.
…and that God cannot simply forgive sin without atonement being made.
A righteous holy Creator and Judge cannot but require an overall account of and reckoning for sin and crime.
But, he has provided a means of escape from this reckoning and punishment through sacrificing himself in our place. The price of redemption, which is infinitely beyond our means, could only have been paid by an infinite God with infinite means (which exposes the folly of trying to gain salvation through works or good deeds).
The fact that God himself had to make atonement for us demonstrates the seriousness of our condition.
Chuck J., United States, 22 April 2013
Thank you again for once again the explanation of the Gospel. Could it be that Dawkins' railing against God is more an act of a lie by him that he does in fact believe in God. After all, I cannot imagine railing against Purple People Eaters as a lifetime vocation, since I do not believe in them.
F. G., United States, 22 April 2013
Dawkins is no doubt an intelligent man, and one who thinks a lot. But people like him inevitably have to avoid actually thinking through certain things in order to cling to their positions.
He would claim to have arrived at his position by way of logic, but it's clearly the other way around: he arrives at his logic by way of his position.
Hans G., Australia, 22 April 2013
Hahaha, the old fox Dawkins did it again. With a few remarks he ferret out some knowledge Christians jumping to explain and defend to whom? An atheists, a mocker, one of the devils advocate or this poor misled human being who actually is innocent?
Get behind me Satan, should be the response.
Brian H., Canada, 22 April 2013
Our minister said on Sunday that we endure hardships (which of course come from the fallen sinful world that we live in) for two reasons. So that we get to know ourselves better, and two so that we get to know God better. The Son of God coming to earth allowed us to get to know him better, and to know that God loves us. When we forgive someone (as humans), it takes caring and loving on our part, and I would say a small part of us stays there with that forgiven person. How much more has God, and his Son given, and left with us where he has offered forgiveness to all of us. We know God better because he gave so much too us.
wayne T., Australia, 22 April 2013
A good article. it always has intrigued me how Richard Dawkins and other evolutionary ambassadores,travel the world trying to convince people not to believe in a God that they themselves do not even believe exists? It is also noteworthy, that if God does not exist, then why has EVOLUTION made God almost the pinnacle of its belief and doctrine? and therefore is not Dawkins by evolutionary logic preaching against a concept that could only be said to be a natural product of evolution? He cannot have it both ways!
A man that is involved with the British skeptics society whose bus advertisements apparently state God PROBABLY does not exist, is a little bit too double minded for any one to rely on his theological ramblings as amounting to anything credible or reliable.
There have been more books written and more history on this amazing man Christ Jesus,than any historical figure that has ever lived, and it would do him well to take heed of this fact. That being the case Dawkins will stand before God without excuse,for it has been observed that he never has openly said that God does not exist,but his speech is PROBABLY NOT or MAYBE NOT. which is weak and without authority. His comment about Christ's death shows him to not deny The death of Jesus but to mock and try to create doubt in the minds of his readers, no different to what happened in the Garden of Eden, and similar to what he is doing trying to brainwash and create doubt in the minds of our young people through his children's books.
If all men will stand before the Lord without excuse, then it is also a statement of God's observable reality, as [Romans chapter 1] affirms ,and by spiritual logic Dawkins is in denial about God and the Bible, and is thus willingly rebelling against the knowledge of God.
Dan M., United States, 23 April 2013
Good thoughts but I think misses the point. God is a God of law and justice as well as love. If our deaths were adequate for Him to forgive sin, then why is that not fulfillment enough? It comes down to the first Adam and the second Adam. The first Adam was a sinless son of God. Once the race fell, and sin spread to all men, there was not a perfect sacrifice to meet the legal justice required of God. Eye for Eye and Tooth for Tooth is justice. But to show God's righteousness AND justice at the same time he found the only just sacrifice that fulfilled the requirement of the law. A sinless man sinned. A sinless man must die. That is justice. That is why it HAD to be Christ. The law was given to show sin to be sin until faith should be revealed. Faith was revealed in the coming of Jesus Christ and the end of the law came when its demands were met, once for all time.
Why the horrific death? God made Christ to be sin for us.... look upon the man who no longer look like a man because of the torture, suffering and agony and that is how God sees sin.
Jesus is now the end of the law for righteousness to all them that have faith. Without law, sin lies dead. And this explains the necessity of Christ's agonizing death. To fulfill the just requirements of the law for us.
wayne T., Australia, 23 April 2013
There is also an aspect of Christs death that Dawkins irresponsibly is in error of. God has granted pardon and forgiveness for sin even under the old covenant, and before Christs death, but as the book of Hebrews declares the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin.
There is a word that is too often overlooked in the new covenant that does not appear in the old covenant,and that word is REMISSION, which is a further strengthening of the word FORGIVE, and has within its meaning to give Liberty,Deliverence,to Cleanse,to Omit.'Forgiveness' actually occurs through Gods grace ,but 'Remission' would require the death of an atoning sacrifice,and the willing act of salvation on the part of believers. On the cross of calvary,Christ paved the way for our sins not only to be forgiven, but to be Remitted.This is the point where Dawkins lacks credibility.
Effectively if our sins are only forgiven,as Dawkins suggests as is all that is required, we have not yet partaken of Remission of sin, which according to Acts 2;38 is required to obtain not only pardon and forgiveness,but also cleansing,liberty and deliverance from sin.This qualification is strengthened by the scripture that states in [Luke 24;7] that Repentance and Remission of sin should be preached in his name "beginning" at Jerusalem.
So if Richard Dawkins wants to treat sin as haphazardly,as just a God that gives you a hand wave or says "i'll let you off this time",he is misrepresenting the truth of Gods salvation plan.
Unfortunately Dawkins has a grand ability to misrepresent truth, but it remains that we Christians as priests of God have a responsibiliity to pray that God will deliver and convert people like Dawkins,and if he will not yield,then for God to deal with him accordingly.
David D P., South Africa, 23 April 2013
An excellent article expounding very clearly an exceptionally difficult issue. I see Richard Dawkins as one that has been blessed with much intelligence. My prayer is that he will be further blessed with a Damascus Road experience.
Tyler C., United States, 23 April 2013
What is sin? Good question but not so easy to define. Many see it as "missing the mark" according to the Hebrew "chata" or some define it as James does, "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17 NKJV).
To me the best definition is, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 Jn. 3:4 KJV). The newer translations seem to catch the meaning a little better, "sin is lawlessness" (1 Jn. 3:4 NKJV) which I think speaks of an attitude toward law in general. I believe this is the definition that you are thinking of because in rejecting a law a person is actually rejecting the authority that established the law.
I also believe that Paul agrees with this definition in Rom 2:12-14 as being a matter of principle concerning our relationship to law in general since law sets the boundaries of our behavior and shows us what the product of sin is. That seems to be the reason why people are, "judged according to their works" (Rev. 20:12, 13 NKJ see also Mat 7:23; 13:41 where the attitude is an ongoing thing).
Tyler C., United States, 23 April 2013
Under the subheading "God's Wrath" the article said, "God’s wrath is not petulance, but is His holy anger against man’s rejection of the truth about Him (Romans 1:18)".
In a substantial way I disagree with the way the article defines wrath. You state that it is "God's holy anger" after you say that it is not petulance; to me that is contradictory. Why is it that so often we Christians tend to interpret God's character with respect to our own rather than the other way around?
It seems to me that we are forgetting texts like, "for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:20 NKJV) and, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8-9 NKJV). Besides, while you reference Rom 1: 18 the following verses after that shows what God's wrath is:
"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness . . ." (Rom. 1:24 NKJV).
"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions . . ." (Rom. 1:26 NKJV).
". . . God gave them over to a debased mind . . ." (Rom. 1:28 NKJV).
To me, therefore, God's wrath is God finally giving up on the sinner and letting Satan have him somewhat in the same way that Paul did to some people (1 Cor 5:5; 1 Tim 1:20) except it is more permanent - He lets go of them which in many cases eventually ends with the unpardonable sin. Hos. 11:8 and Matt. 23:37-38 are good examples of this. Even Mat 27:46 shows this in that, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21 NKJV) and died the second death in our place as a matter of wrath.
Carl Wieland responds
While not disputing that God gives people up, I would gently suggest that equating this with his wrath, period, may not do justice to the 'whole counsel of God' on the matter. Consider:
John 3:36 - Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Romans 1:18 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Romans 2:5 - But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
Romans 2:8 - but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
Romans 3:5 - But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
Romans 5:9 - Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
Romans 9:22 - What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
Romans 12:19 - Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
Romans 13:4 - for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.
Rev 6:16 - calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb..."
Helen D., Australia, 24 April 2013
Thank you for another logical, informative, helpful and precisely written article. This morning I was praying and to my surprise Richard Dawkins was on my mind - I really felt compassion for him, so I'm praying for this man. It seems to me that he is very angry at God, for whatever reason - and he strikes me as a very angry child who deep down wants to be taken firmly in hand and told the truth. I realise he has some Christian background, but it seems that something essential was missing and he just can't grasp faith. I realise some people would find it hard to feel compassion toward him considering the way he attacks Christian beliefs, but at the heart of the Gospel is the understanding that we are all sinners, all descendants of Adam and Eve and all in need of a Redeemer. Even for this man, I have hope.
Steve B., United States, 24 April 2013
This is the expected response of a person who has never progressed in his thinking beyond an adolescent's view of God.
Either this, or Dawkins purposefully makes such comments out of a spirit of derision.
I personally am of the opinion of the former.
Most men, even self-vaunted intellects, retain an adolescent's view and understanding of God.
God is foremost holy.
He is therefore perfectly righteous and strictly just.
Both righteousness and justice must be fully satisfied before He can be propitiated.
The Son did His work of righteousness and justice in His life and on the cross first for God.
And then for His elect.
Dawkins either knows nothing of systematic theology, and is therefore ignorant.
Or, he is being derisive.
I don't give him that much credit.
I believe the man is truly ignorant.
Eric J., New Zealand, 25 April 2013
Dawkins Dilemma. I commend Russell Grigg for his absolutely brilliant article, all the major doctrines in a Nutshell. I am reminded what Isaiah said, "he was "More Marred than any Man", Christ's body looked "inhuman",Mel Gibson was dead right with his portrayal in the "Passion". It was my Sins that did this, I am appalled at my own sinfulness. While the whole world was against Christ, Paul making "Havoc' of the church, God reached down and saved the "Worst Sinner Paul"."of whom I am chief ".What an "Amazing thing God did'. This "Incredible Gospel" is for Richard Dawkins. Look what it did for C S Lewis and others. This Gospel transformed Europe and you and I.
D. R., United States, 25 April 2013
As pictured, Mr. Dawkins looks like a miserably angry and unhappy person.
I pray that he will open his heart to the immeasurable love and forgiveness which can only come from a loving and forgiving creator so he will be free to enjoy God's wondrous creation.
Jean L., United States, 26 April 2013
Insofar as Jesus dying only once, since God spans the entirely of time, with all things in the present, then possibly light years from earth Jesus would just be dying?
Carl Wieland responds
Not quite. If one was on a planet (call it Zork) say 2,000 LY from earth, and was watching the Calvary region on the earth with a very powerful telescope, then the event might only now be seen happening, but it would still have occurred thousands of years ago, even for those on Zork. That assumes of course that Zork clocks and those on earth are running at the same rate. General relativity allows the possibility that they are not, but it require some very serious differences in their velocity/acceleration and/or their gravitational situation. See the articles listed under the heading of seeing distant stars many lightyears away, here. But even in the unlikely event that they were not, it would not change the fact that the event is happening on earth in the past from Zork's perspective, it would only change how far in the past, i.e. it would affect the time it took for the light to get from Earth to Zork. ONe has to always bear in mind that a light-year is not a measure of time, but of distance. The moment at which Christ died is the same for all parts of creation. You may be thinking of the propagation of the effectiveness of that sacrifice, which is a different issue, but an irrelevant one since there are no Zorkians for whom Christ died. Christ will have only one Bride, an earthly one, in eternity, since He will not likely be a polygamous, as our site has discussed more than once. You may be thinking that like heat, that effectiveness can only propagate at the speed of light. But there is no reason to think that there would be such a limitation, in any case. But you are correct that with God, time is not an issue, He is in timelessness. So He knows the end from the beginning, and sees the future and the past as one total present. But that would not affect the fact that from every other perspective, i.e. within His created physical universe and to His creatures, Christ's death happened at one point in time and space, 'Once for all' as the writer of Hebrews emphasized.