Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Vicarious Life

To share in the desired outcome or the desired experience, but from someone else's efforts and actions, is to live vicariously. An easy example of this is the fan that lives vicariously through their favorite sport hero, movie star or celebrity. On a larger scale of reward and consequence, there can be a vicarious sacrifice, where lives are spared due to the work and sacrifice of another. An old Biblical/Hebrew Scripture example of this is found in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the book of Genesis.

Three men approach Abraham; he refers to them as Lord. Some scholars say them to be angels; others say them to be the Trinity. Abraham learns of God’s intention to destroy Sodom for its wicked ways but is allowed to intercede, to ask if the town could be spared should some righteous people be found. It is agreed that the town could live vicariously through the life of a few.
And the LORD said, if I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes... And he (Abraham) said, Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.
- Genesis 18:26 & 32 (KJV)
When God completed his count of the town, the agreed upon number of righteous people was not found. God proceeded to inflict the consequent of wrath and destruction to the town found guilty of wickedness.

Ultimately, sin brings about the consequence of God’s wrath. Sacrifices are made, codes of conduct are followed and a life of faithfulness is what had kept peace between God and his people. Building over time, a wicked and sinful world in it’s majority, the consequence of wrath was being prepared. The intent was not to destroy a few more cities, but the world. At the same time, a vicarious sacrifice was being prepared for the world to have a vicarious life. If we observe that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2), and that he was the sacrifice, we can observe on that day he saved all creation from wrath and destruction.

Being as torturous as it was, it was not the crucifixion, the crown of thorns, or lashings that caused Jesus great anxiety before his sacrifice. It was a “cup” of wrath or the full consequent of a world’s worth of sin that he was to bare, which brought about sweat of blood (Luke 22:42-44). In addition to the wrath intended for the world, was the endeavor of conquering the power of death (Revelation 1:18) and the conquest of hell (Ephesians 4:8-10, Acts 2:31)
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. - 1 John 2:2 (NIV)
This is the vicarious life.


  1. Great post. I wonder what Christ's 'true' passion was. I think he was rather beyond the physical torture or humiliation. As an Essene, a spiritual Master, ascetic (sometimes), and a supra-personality or super-personality, i don't think any of these, even the weight of the world's sin, was what affected him---was he not carrying the sins of the world on his shoulders his entire life? what about the crucifixion suddenly brought this on? I think his cries out to God were his apotheosis (yes, he was always god, but still), his ultimate act as a human being. it was something deeper, more rending. nor do i believe it was the separation from the father (that man hypothesize due to his carrying sin)-he knew that would be coming. as man, he would have 'felt' that separation anyway. No, Jesus' passion is the expression of his ultimate will. he makes no secret that he orchestrated his death; this was his ultimate act--his body and mind(s) and soul were united in a single, powerful act of transcendental magic--transferring his body into another realm--and releasing his/the father's spirit into an egregore of ultra-immense power. Jesus died in childbirth. The birth of himself to us.

  2. I like your style and appreciate the comment. I have some agreements and disagreements with you. I don't consider Christ to have become God through theosis or apotheosis. I think that assumption was properly distinguished as heresy. He is a part of the pre-existing divine trinity. I do consider your suggestion of a death at child birth, I find this very interesting. I don't think Christ carried the sins of the whole world at all times, but that at birth he did take on some ills of the flesh and our world. I would agree that more took place during the crucifixion than what I could express in my article or even from the beginnings of my slight perception. This idea of soul and body united is interesting.

  3. I am intrigued and encouraged by the idea of apocatastasis. I know many Christians who would absolutely reject it, of course. But I sometimes think, if it were true that God really will save everyone, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, whether they believe in Him or not, is that a bad thing? Does it weaken my belief in Christ's atonement in any way to believe that someone who has rejected Him will still be saved through Him? I don't think it does. "God so loved THE WORLD," as it says in John 3:16. I am often saddened that so many of my Christian brethren seem to take such glee in the idea that Our Lord will consign many of our friends and family to everlasting torment.