Why did Jesus die?

And this question, both infidels are accustomed to bring up against us, ridiculing Christian simplicity as absurd; and many believers ponder it in their hearts; for what cause or necessity, in sooth, God became man, and by his own death, as we believe and affirm, restored life to the world; when he might have done this, by means of some other being, angelic or human, or merely by his will.

— Anselm, Cur Deus Homo

The United Methodist News Service asks the question “Why did Jesus have to die?

For the most part, the story is a typical United Methodist one. The gist of it is that there are lots of ways to think about the atonement. The article does briefly describe Anselm’s theory of atonement for the purpose of explaining why so many people disagree with it.

In the comments, the UMNS editor suggests that Jesus did not have to die.

The story ends by offering up an Abelardian subjective explanation of the atonement.

Perhaps the greatest comfort the cross offers is the knowledge that there is no sorrow, pain or despair humans can undergo that God does not know and walk through with us. And because of the Resurrection, we know that sorrow and death do not have the last word.

For those who are interested, Article VIII of the Confession of Faith has this to say.

We believe God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The offering Christ freely made on the cross is the perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, redeeming man from all sin, so that no other satisfaction is required.

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4 thoughts on “Why did Jesus die?

  1. “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.” -Edward Everett

  2. This is a great post, and I’ll have to answer that question Easter Sunday, standing before some of the unbelieving scalawags in my family. I love them, but they don’t understand the Cross, only the hidden eggs hunted by the children and the deviled eggs eagerly consumed off the brunch table. “Amazing love, how can it be…”

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