A: As far as I know, the only place that we read about Jesus dying for our sins is from Christian theologic writings—I am not even sure that the Bible makes this error, but I don't know quite enough about it to say...
It is important to remember that Jesus was not a Christian, nor did he found the Christian church. Jesus' mission, Jesus' religion, and Jesus' message were quite different from what subsequently became the doctrine of atonement which became the cornerstone of the Christian church. The doctrine of atonement says that Jesus had to die for the sins of humanity in order to reconcile man to God—to pay for mankind's sins and "ransom" the sinner—to become the "sacrificial lamb" that could accomplish this task.
According to The Urantia Book, this is a primitive and unworthy doctrine, for it paints the loving heavenly Father as a stern, vengeful deity who demands that innocent blood be shed to atone for the sin of another, not-so-innocent person, or persons—in this case, the whole of humanity. Jesus came to reveal a different, and more mature concept God—a God of love, forgiveness and mercy. Instead of reconciling humanity to God through blood sacrifice, Jesus taught reconciliation with God through the idea that God is man's spirit Father, and that through the faith-grasp of this concept, man can recognize the Father's love, and "daily experience, this ennobling truth..."
But, as primitive as the atonement doctrine is, it was just the sort of thinking that was prevalent in Jesus' time—sacrificial lambs were slaughtered regularly as offerings to God, and the subsequent leaders of what became the Christian churches used this reasoning to explain Jesus' death; he became a literal human sacrifice demanded by an angry god—just the kind of god that is pictured in much of the Old Testament writings.
193:0.4 "I admonish you ever to remember that your mission among men is to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom—the reality of the fatherhood of God and the truth of the sonship of man. Proclaim the whole truth of the good news, not just a part of the saving gospel. Your message is not changed by my resurrection experience. Sonship with God, by faith, is still the saving truth of the gospel of the kingdom. You are to go forth preaching the love of God and the service of man. That which the world needs most to know is: Men are the sons of God, and through faith they can actually realize, and daily experience, this ennobling truth. My bestowal should help all men to know that they are the children of God, but such knowledge will not suffice if they fail personally to faith-grasp the saving truth that they are the living spirit sons of the eternal Father. The gospel of the kingdom is concerned with the love of the Father and the service of his children on earth."
Christianity, as it evolved, was also influenced by the legends of Mithra ( read about it HERE ) and the then-popular "mystery religions"
Is it any wonder that we are taught that this is a primitive belief...especially given the actual revelation of God to mankind that Jesus embodied? He said "he who has seen me, has seen the Father." Was Jesus EVER vengeful, wrathful, or demanding of sacrifices? Even in the Bible, Jesus is not portrayed thus...I am pretty certain that he never referred to himself—or God—that way. Correct me if I'm wrong...my understanding is that this doctrine is a man-made doctrine.
I will give you several Urantia Book quotes here about Jesus' real mission to earth:
His prime mission:
This passage speaks to the overlying purpose of Jesus' bestowal—he needed to gain the experience of being a human being in order to earn the right to take control over planetary and universe affairs as a merciful sovereign. This is revelatory information found nowhere but The Urantia Book. Remember—this was the last of seven similar bestowals to our universe, as all seven forms of creature/spirit life. All seven bestowals gave Michael of Nebadon the right to assume sovereignty over universe affairs—the universe of his creation. And this is also the underlying reason that he chose to carry out the final drama of his life—the death on the cross. Had he not done what he did, he would not have been able to complete his "normal" life of a human. Any other human in Jesus' position would have died that same ignoble death. By his choosing to go through what he went through, he reveals yet another facet of the Father's nature—that of voluntary love and devotion.
128:7.6 Never lose sight of the fact that the prime mission of Jesus in his seventh bestowal was the acquirement of creature experience, the achievement of the sovereignty of Nebadon. And in the gathering of this very experience he made the supreme revelation of the Paradise Father to Urantia and to his entire local universe. Incidental to these purposes he also undertook to untangle the complicated affairs of this planet as they were related to the Lucifer rebellion.
His motive for the public missions that he undertook with his apostles:
Nowhere does Jesus teach that his life—or death—was a response to God's wrath, or as a sense of needing appeasement. I think that, even in the Bible, we do not hear Jesus teaching this doctrine of atonement.
140:7.4 ... Jesus many times repeated to his apostles the two great motives of his postbaptismal mission on earth: 1. To reveal the Father to man. 2. To lead men to become son-conscious—to faith-realize that they are the children of the Most High.
145:5.6 "Andrew, have I not taught you and these others that my mission on earth is the revelation of the Father, and my message the proclamation of the kingdom of heaven?"
This next passage speaks to the remembrance supper established by Jesus, vs the Christian ideas of what subsequently became the "body and blood" communion rituals of Christianity. Again, this "body and blood" idea springs directly from the sacrificial beliefs—the "dead chains of tradition and dogma..."
This next passage speaks to the cross, and its true significance:
179:5.4 In instituting this remembrance supper, the Master, as was always his habit, resorted to parables and symbols. He employed symbols because he wanted to teach certain great spiritual truths in such a manner as to make it difficult for his successors to attach precise interpretations and definite meanings to his words. In this way he sought to prevent successive generations from crystallizing his teaching and binding down his spiritual meanings by the dead chains of tradition and dogma. In the establishment of the only ceremony or sacrament associated with his whole life mission, Jesus took great pains to suggest his meanings rather than to commit himself to precise definitions. He did not wish to destroy the individual’s concept of divine communion by establishing a precise form; neither did he desire to limit the believer’s spiritual imagination by formally cramping it. He rather sought to set man’s reborn soul free upon the joyous wings of a new and living spiritual liberty.
Jesus' mission was a spiritual mission for the spiritual uplift of an entire universe—not a mission of atonement:
188:5.11 Make sure, then, that when you view the cross as a revelation of God, you do not look with the eyes of the primitive man nor with the viewpoint of the later barbarian, both of whom regarded God as a relentless Sovereign of stern justice and rigid law-enforcement. Rather, make sure that you see in the cross the final manifestation of the love and devotion of Jesus to his life mission of bestowal upon the mortal races of his vast universe. See in the death of the Son of Man the climax of the unfolding of the Father’s divine love for his sons of the mortal spheres. The cross thus portrays the devotion of willing affection and the bestowal of voluntary salvation upon those who are willing to receive such gifts and devotion. There was nothing in the cross which the Father required—only that which Jesus so willingly gave, and which he refused to avoid.
196:2.11 Jesus offered no rules for social advancement; his was a religious mission, and religion is an exclusively individual experience. The ultimate goal of society's most advanced achievement can never hope to transcend Jesus' brotherhood of men based on the recognition of the fatherhood of God. The ideal of all social attainment can be realized only in the coming of this divine kingdom.
And what is this "gospel" that his followers are to preach? Again, quoting Jesus from the passage above: "Sonship with God, by faith, is still the saving truth of the gospel of the kingdom. You are to go forth preaching the love of God and the service of man. That which the world needs most to know is: Men are the sons of God, and through faith they can actually realize, and daily experience, this ennobling truth."
143:1.4 “I have come into this world to do the will of my Father and to reveal his loving character to all mankind. That, my brethren, is my mission. And this one thing I will do, regardless of the misunderstanding of my teachings by Jews or gentiles of this day or of another generation.
165:6.3 "... my mission will not bring peace in the material affairs of men—not for a time, at least. Division can only be the result where two members of a family believe in me and three members reject this gospel. Friends, relatives, and loved ones are destined to be set against each other by the gospel you preach. True, each of these believers shall have great and lasting peace in his own heart, but peace on earth will not come until all are willing to believe and enter into their glorious inheritance of sonship with God. Nevertheless, go into all the world proclaiming this gospel to all nations, to every man, woman, and child."
The Christian belief says that man is an organically tainted sinner, a worm of the earth, who needed Jesus' innocent blood to stand clean before an angry god who demanded this kind of sacrifice.
Questions: Which of these doctrines can you experience in your own heart? Which makes more sense to your logical mind? Which brings you closer to God?
It is important that you try to read through the links and surrounding text that I have given you. This will help you even more to formulate your own points of discussion when you wish to explain these concepts to other seekers of truth.
Finally, please see Christianity's Problem
I hope that my reply has been helpful to you. Please write again if you have further questions...!"