Scott Mintz, in his March 21 letter, “Cruelty ingrained throughout” (which attacked an earlier letter by Jennifer Kim), says he singles out Christianity for its “cruelty” only because it is the religion he is “most familiar with”. If so, I shudder to imagine his mischaracterizations of other religions!
Mintz’s primitive view of the Atonement — that God “had his son violently killed as a blood sacrifice” for “a single misdeed by ancestors” — misunderstands the core of Christianity. It is not merely that misdeed but also its symbolized thirst for power and grasping for “equality with God” that has plagued humanity with unbridled pride and cruelty.
Even the wise pagans understood that such was our nature that the “truly just man,” should he come, would be misunderstood, scourged and indeed “crucified,” a prophetic prediction by Plato 400 years before Christ (“Republic,” Book 2, section 361e). It was God’s love, not cruelty, that sent the luminous justice of his Son into the world even in the knowledge of how He would be received.
The Romans, not God, cruelly killed Jesus to protect their power, yet the powerlessness and compassion of God conquered. This act changed history by showing, as Pope Benedict XVI said, that “we are saved by Him who was crucified, not by those who crucified Him” — by sacrificial love and not by raw power.
What light has this Son of God brought to fallen humanity?
Hardly more cruelty, which abounds from the very rejection of God, as Kim rightly illustrated. He has brought the radical message of the Beatitudes, forgiveness for the Prodigal Son, sparing the adulteress while imploring her to turn from sin — in sum, a polestar for perfection in compassion and holiness that offers, but does not compel, redemption for humanity.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.