Could God Just Forgive Sins?

The BBC Religion forums have a plethora of topics for me as of late.

From the BBC Religion forum:

*Why* did he have to “punish” them, such that he dragged himself onto a cross to be brutally tortured and executed ?

Why not just *forgive our sins* ?

Paradoxically, one of Jesus’s key messages was to forgive, something God (whom is supposed to be the greatest) is unable to do – hence the eternal torture.

The basic thrust of the question is was it necessary for Christ to die on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins?

The short answer is, “Yes, God could have chosen to redeem mankind without Christ’s sacrifice.” But the fact remains, that God didn’t choose to redeem mankind this way. Why is that?

The 20th century theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer discusses this in his book Discipleship. He makes the distinction between cheap and costly grace.

Cheap grace is grace without sacrifice. A blanket pardon of sins.

Cheap grace means justification of sin but not the sinner. Because grace alone does everything, everything can stay in its old ways. (43)

[T]he Christian need not follow Christ, since the Christian is comforted by grace! That is cheap grace as justification of sin, but not justification of the contrite sinner who turns away from sin and repents. It is not forgiveness of sin which separates those who sinned from sin. Cheap grace is that which we bestow on ourselves. (44)

Costly grace, on the other hand, has some kind of sacrifice attached to it.

It is costly because it calls to discipleship; it is grace, because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. it is costly because it costs people their lives; it is grace because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son – “you were bought with a price” – and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did, indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God. (45)</blockquote

You can find the entire discussion here.

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