For intuitive and critical discussions, from spirituality to theological doctrines. Fair warning: because the subject matter is personal, moderation is strict.

Moderator: Dan~


Postby phenomenal_graffiti » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:19 am

The Sacrificial Dream Hypothesis: What Was Going On In The Mind Of Jesus Christ While Dying On The Cross?

By Jay M. Brewer

Taken literally, the obvious meaning of Romans 6: 5,6:

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

And 1 Peter 2:24:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

:is that Christ bore our sins in his body (somehow) rather than merely suffer physical crucifixion as the punishment for all sins as he died upon the cross.

If these verses are taken in literal or straightforward fashion (For how can one confuse the straightforward meaning of ‘bore our sins in his body’ to mean: “bore physical wounds upon his body as if these were our sins” or some other meaning to avoid the obvious and straightforward meaning of the verse?) and there is no question or doubt regarding translation from Greek or Hebrew and any ambiguity of the English translation of the scriptures or other factors—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (as opposed to any other human being in the history of the universe or history of crucifixion) and its atonement for the sins of every human that shall ever exist (or every human covered by the atonement) involved something more than physical crucifixion and the physiological effects leading to the physical death of Christ (see A Physician Testifies About The Crucifixion by Dr. C. Truman Davis: good read).

But how is the sin of a person born 2,000 years after the resurrection of Jesus, for example, placed in the physical body of Christ (if we take 1 Peter 2:24 by its obvious, literal meaning) as it is being crucified 2,000 years before the person was born or committed the sin? How is sin, which is a physical action and/or mental state taken and placed within another ’s physical body—much more the sin of every person that has ever existed from Adam to Christ and from Christ to the last human before Final Judgment?

Perhaps supernatural magic plays a role, with God inscrutably and unimaginably (or perhaps one imagines a giant, ghostly hand reaching into one’s head) “taking” one’s sin and teleporting it back through time to inscrutably or unimaginably (or perhaps one imagines a giant, ghostly hand placing one’s sin in the physical body of the crucified Christ) place the sin within the body of Christ, which resides in the physical body of Christ rather than in his mind (if one takes the term ‘body’ in 1 Peter 2:24 to mean the physical body as opposed to the mind).

[Note: God must take sin and move it forward through time for those born before the crucifixion of Christ (including every person living at the time of Christ’s crucifixion). But there remains the question: if Christ had not yet been born or crucified, for the billions living before the birth of Christ without knowledge of his existence or future existence as a human being and his atoning sacrifice, how are these individuals, pre-death, able to know of the existence of Jesus and his atoning sacrifice in order to be saved? The sacrifice of animals by ancient Hebrew custom (Hebrews 9: 19-22) notwithstanding, things seem not to bode well for those billions from other nations, cultures, and customs that have never heard of sin, sacrifice for sin, nor participated in Hebrew pre-Christ ritual. The concept of Sheol and Christ’s travel to Sheol during the three days following the death of his body prior to resurrection to preach the Gospel to the unknowledgeable dead, however, seems to solve this problem.]

It seems more coherent and plausible that the sins of the world are carried in Christ’s mind rather than his physical body (never mind the difficulty if not impossibility of imagining how the physical and mental/emotional behaviors and states of trillions of human beings can somehow reside in a physical body rather than the mind). That is, the manner in which Christ ‘bore our sins in his body on the tree’ is most coherently in the mind.


While not impossible but arguably unlikely Christ used waking imagination to “see” the sins of the world (which would require his possession through the Father of omniscient foreknowledge or post-knowledge of every sin of every human that shall ever exist in order to actively imagine those sins during the mere hours he is on the cross), the most immediately plausible method for this type of atonement for all sins is for Christ to contain all sins in the mind, in the form of a non-lucid dream in which he assumes the identities of every human that shall ever exist (or every believing human) and performs the “sin” of every human that shall ever exist (or every believing human), thereby suffering both the physical punishment for all sin in the form of the crucifixion and mental punishment for sin in the form of taking (in dream form) the place of every sinner and every sin to provide justification for sins, in a manner beyond mere symbolic connection between physical crucifixion and atonement for sins.

Question: What, then, is the purpose of having Christ ‘[bear] our sins in his body [mind as the mental aspect, property, or dimension of the body] on the tree’ (1 Peter 2:24)?

Answer: So that we might be ‘united with him like this in his death’ (Romans 6:5).

The Sacrificial Dream transforms sin into a state God accepts as an alternate nature of the repentant believer (and all potential believers) as opposed to sin itself independent of any connection to Christ on the cross. If Christ ‘bore our sins in his body on the tree’ (rather than merely suffer the punishment for all sins as held by those believing that Christ never contained the sin of mankind upon or within himself on the cross) then man is considered by God not to stand alone and guilty in one's sins, but to have re-enacted (or pre-enact, for those born and living before the crucifixion of Christ) the suffering of Christ within the Sacrificial Dream.

Human sin performed by Christ within the Sacrificial Dream (With Christ helplessly disguised as every sinner in the moment of every sin they shall ever commit) is not actual sin but quasi-sin God does not consider sin but cosmic suffering. The quasi-sin is substitution for or transformation of any actual sins committed by believing humans (by right of sins being replicated and their meaning transformed from sin into "Christ's suffering") into a cosmic suffering shared between Christ and the believing, repentant human.

‘…by his knowledge [of their sins] shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.’

-Isaiah 53:11

In the meantime, it is important to address and offer rebuttal to the other side of the atonement coin: the belief that Christ, in order to be a valid sacrifice for the sin of mankind must remain experientially sinless, devoid of any personal experience of sin or “sin nature” while dying upon the cross. It is necessary, in light of the contradiction this view poses to the straightforward meaning of 1 Peter 2:24 and Romans 6:5 (‘…bore our sins in his body on the tree’/ ‘…our old self was crucified with him’) to address the debate between the opposing atonement beliefs of Absolute Sinlessness and "Quasi-Sin" Sinlessness.

The Atonement Belief Of Absolute Sinlessness

The Atonement Belief of Absolute Sinlessness maintains that while dying upon the cross, Christ atoned for the sins of mankind through physical punishment of the cross and symbolic sin-imputation (treated as a sinner though he was not [John MacArthur] and punished through crucifixion and physical death only for the sins of the trans-historical population of the human race or at least the trans-historical population of all believers) but at no time experiencing what sin is or sustaining the "sin-content" of human beings.

Nathan Busenitz defends the Absolute Sinlessness view against the belief that Jesus took upon or carried within himself the sins of the world by assuming a sin nature or becoming the sin of every person that shall ever exist or believe.
In What Way Was Jesus ‘Made Sin’ On The Cross?

by Nathan Busenitz

Yesterday, as I was reading through portions of Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians, I came across the following:

“Christ took upon Himself our sins, not by constraint, but of His own good will, in order to bear the punishment and wrath of God: not for the sake of His own person (which was just and invincible, and was not in any way guilty), but for our person. So by means of a joyous substitution, He took upon Himself our sinful person, and gave to us His innocent and victorious person: with which we, being now clothed, are free from the curse of the law. . . . By faith alone therefore we are made righteous, for faith alone lays hold of this victory of Christ.” (Commentary on Gal. 3:13)

John Calvin’s comments on 2 Corinthians 5:21 are similar:

“How can we become righteous before God? In the same way as Christ became a sinner. For He took, as it were, our person, that He might be the offender in our name and thus might be reckoned a sinner, not because of His own offences but because of those of others, since He Himself was pure and free from every fault and bore the penalty that was our due and not His own. Now in the same way we are righteous in Him, not because we have satisfied God’s judgment by our own works, but because we are judged in relation to Christ’s righteousness which we have put on by faith, that it may become our own.” (Commentary on 2 Cor. 5:21)

Those quotations, which underscore the doctrines of substitutionary atonement and Christ’s imputed righteousness, reminded me of an earlier study I had done regarding 2 Corinthians 5:21, specifically with regard to this question: In what way was Jesus “made sin” on the cross? To state the question another way: Did Jesus become the literal embodiment of sin, or take on a sin nature, or become a sinner when He died at Calvary?

The heart of the question centers on Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In what sense did Jesus become “sin on our behalf”? Does that phrase mean that Jesus literally became a sinner on the cross? To come back to the original question: “Did Jesus become the literal embodiment of sin, or take on a sin nature, or become a sinner when He died at Calvary?” My answer to that question is a resounding no.

Here are five reasons why (My interjection: I include only Busenitz’ first two reasons for brevity):

1. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul declares that Jesus “knew no sin.” Whatever the rest of the verse means, it must be interpreted in light of Paul’s statement that Jesus “knew no sin”—meaning He had no personal experiential knowledge of sin in any way. If Jesus became a sinner or took on a sin nature then Paul would have contradicted himself in that very verse.

2. The rest of Scripture makes it clear that the Lord Jesus remained perfectly sinless, righteous, and obedient throughout His entire Passion. At no point did He ever become less than perfectly holy. Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:21 must be interpreted in light of the whole witness of Scripture. Below is a sampling of biblical passages that make this point explicit:

a) Isaiah 53:10-11 – “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.”

Comment: The Suffering Servant is called the “Righteous One” even in the context of bearing the sin of others

[My rebuttal: Busenitz means ‘bearing the guilt of (treated as though he were guilty of the sin of) and punishment for the sins of (by crucifixion on a cross) others rather than “bearing the sins of others”, which is transparently interpreted as carrying the sins of others rather than merely bearing the guilty of or punishment for the sins of others. That is, “bearing” in the verse above seems to transparently mean “bearing the weight of” the sins of others with “bear” in this sense meaning holding up the weight of things present upon or within the person holding them up. Otherwise Isaiah 53:11 should have said: “bear the guilt (or punishment) of their iniquities.” “Bear” may also mean “bearing the appearance of their iniquities” as in wearing the form of the sinner and that persons sin while on the cross in the sense that one can “bear” a particular appearance or resemblance.]

Based on the above passages, we can safely determine what 2 Corinthians 5:21 does not mean. It cannot mean that Jesus became unrighteous, or that He became a sinner, or that He took on a sin nature, or that He literally embodied sin.
So, then what does it mean? This brings us to our third point.

The best way to understand Paul’s statement (that Jesus became sin on our behalf) is in terms of imputation. Our sin was imputed to Christ, such that He became a substitutionary sacrifice or sin offering for all who would believe in Him.
As John MacArthur explains in The MacArthur Study Bible:

“God the Father using the principle of imputation, treated Christ as if He were a sinner though He was not, and had Him die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him (Cf. Is. 53:4-4; Gal. 3:10-13; 1 Pet. 2:24). On the cross, He did not become a sinner (as some suggest), but remained as holy as ever. He was treated as if He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by all who would ever believe, though He committed none. The wrath of God was exhausted on Him and the just requirement of God’s law met for those for whom He died.”

Martin Chemnitz, the second-generation Lutheran Reformer, explained that same truth this way:

“How was Christ made sin? Certainly by imputation. And thus we are made the righteousness of God in Him” (Examination of the Council of Trent, “Concerning Justification,” 1.7.6.)

It is should be noted that, if Jesus took on a sin nature or became a sinner on the cross, He would no longer have been an acceptable sacrifice for sin, since He would have been blemished by sin at the very moment of His death.

In the Old Testament, only a spotless lamb could be offered as an acceptable sacrifice. As Moses recorded in Leviticus 22:20 –
“Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you.”

The analogy, fulfilled perfectly in the Lamb of God, necessitates that Jesus remained spotless even in His sacrificial death.

Finally, on a theological level, the idea that God the Son even temporarily became a sinner, or the literal embodiment of sin, raises serious questions about the unchangeableness of His holy character and perfect nature. Those who would twist 2 Corinthians 5:21 to claim that Jesus’ perfect nature was momentarily replaced by a sin nature immediately raise unanswerable theological questions about the immutability of Jesus Christ.

[My rebuttal: Christ remained perfect in nature even while wearing the “sin” nature of man—precisely because the “sin” nature he took on was that of not his sins, but those of mankind.]
The Atonement Belief Of "Quasi-Sin" Sinlessness

There is, presumably, agreement between the atonement beliefs of Absolute Sinlessness and "Quasi-Sin" Sinlessness that Jesus never, throughout the length and quality of his existence personally sinned in the sense of sinning as himself, in his indigenous or native mind and personality. The bone of contention between beliefs, then, is whether or not Christ took on a "other-persons-sins" nature or absorbed, so to speak, the sins of others into himself while dying on the cross. The Sacrificial Dream, as stated before, arguably lends the most plausible explanation for how the sins of the world may be placed or contained within a person, in a person's mind in the form of a dream, as opposed to normal wakeful thought or fanciful imagination.

[Note: the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is, if the Sacrificial Dream Hypothesis is true, punishment for the sins of mankind upon the one being who deserves it the least through combination of physical trauma of crucifixion (Christ's blood in the physical sense) and the horror in the content in the Sacrificial Dream (Christ's "blood" in the mental sense). To experience both, it is necessary that the Dream intermittently ceases at various points throughout the crucifixion to allow Christ to return to the present physical trauma and state his famous words prior to his death.]

In the "Quasi-Sin" Sinlessness view of Atonement, it is certainly never the case that Christ bore his own sin on the cross (as he cannot sin) but bore the “sins” (in terms of a mental replica) of others in his body [mind] while on the cross. Therefore at no time in the eternal length of Jesus’ existence did he personally sin and only sustained the “sins” of others in his mind from the time he was raised upon the cross to physical death (‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’-John 12:32).

[Note: As repeated below, it is logically impossible barring magic that Christ should bear the actual sins of others as they are committed outside Christ's physical body and mind, and in time periods before and after the Crucifixion.

How Does Christ Remain Sinless While Assuming The Sins Of The World?

If 1 Peter 2:24 (in terms of its obvious, straightforward meaning) is true, Christ remains sinless:

(i) In that the sins he ‘bore…in his body on the tree’ (cross) were not his sins, but those of every human that shall ever exist (if Universalism is true) or every human that shall ever exist that believes in Christ.

(ii) In that it is ultimately and solely God who determines what--in the absurd set of all objects, persons, and actions that form the set of all things that actually or potentially exists--constitutes sin.

Do you not know brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed, I would not have known what sin was except through the law; For I would not have known what coveting was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet’. But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire, for apart from law, sin is dead.

-Romans 7: 1;7,8

All sin according to Romans 7 is contained in the Law, and since the Law is derived from God sin, which exists only when the Law is trespassed, is by extension defined only by God and that which God considers a trespass of the Law. It is God rather than any other person, therefore, that determines what is sin and what is not.

Christ, ‘being in very nature God’ (Phillipians 2: 6) cannot sin, therefore anything in any form in the mind of this exceptional being cannot be sin nor considered sin by God, regardless of whether or not the same thing existing in mental or physical form in a human is considered sin. And at no time, as stated before, did Christ ever sin (as if he could) as himself, in his indigenous mind or personality. The sins of mankind (in terms of their sin-content and replica of the identity of the sinner) within the mind of Christ as he dreamt the Sacrificial Dream cease to be sin and are considered aspects of Christ’s sufferings or "Christ’s death" (not the physical death of Christ but a cosmic death defined as the state or condition of having within himself the appearance of something other than the perfect absence of sin-content in the eternity prior to mortality and the eternity following resurrection and ascension).

Sin, therefore, never existed and cannot exist in Christ—but the very form and appearance of that which in man is and would be considered sin (sin-content) in the mind of crucified Christ is and can only be ‘the suffering of the Servant’ (Isaiah 53).

Like a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.

-Psalm 73:20

Some might argue that in order for Christ to have truly sacrificed himself for the sins of mankind, if indeed he ‘bore our sins in his body on the tree’, then by necessity he must have borne actual sin by reason of bearing the very appearance and replicating, in the form of a dream-alter, the personality of all sin and sinners (Universalism) or all believing sinners.

But it is a false necessity. Following Wayne Jackson in his defense of Absolute Sinlessness in the online article: Did Christ Literally Bear Our Sins On The Cross?, the authors of the New Testament, having not the complexity and subtlety of meaning of modern language, may have intended a metonymy in their use of the term ‘sin’ in 1 Peter 2:24 (and every other passage supporting or seeming to support the concept of Christ bearing the sins of mankind within himself).

Excerpt from Jackson’s article:

Alleged Proof-texts

Advocates of this view often appeal to such passages as Isaiah 53:6; John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28, and 1 Peter 2:24 to support their argument. For example, the latter text affirms that Christ “his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree.” But Peter’s declaration can hardly mean that the Lord became infected with sin while upon the cross.

[My rebuttal: Peter’s declaration can be interpreted as nothing other than that which the verse obviously conveys, with metonymy underlying the term ‘sin’ in the sense that Christ bore a replica of the appearance and mentality of all sin in a dream, rather than the sins of all mankind or all believing mankind appearing in actual wakeful consciousness.

Given the logical impossibility of Christ containing, either in mind or body the actual sins of persons as they are committed outside the body and mind of the dying Christ (especially given the sins are committed in time periods before and after the crucifixion of Christ), it is necessary for the sake of logic that a copy of the sins of mankind appear only in a non-lucid dream in which the copy, in terms of content, would ordinarily be considered sin if appearing in a human but is not considered sin because they appear in Christ. God considers the copy Christ’s sufferings, and the sufferings of Christ in this form are then considered our suffering with Christ as opposed to our sins if and when a human believes in this type of atonement for sins and asks for forgiveness of all sins. Once a human has faith in Jesus (in this sense) God no longer views the sinner as committing sin qua sin but views the sinner as an outward extension of Christ sharing in the dream-sufferings of Christ [the mechanism causing this altered perception of the sinner explained in what follows]).

The copy of man’s sins and God’s perception of it as Christ’s suffering avoids—alongside Absolute Sinlessness’ insistence that Christ is completely devoid of sin-content—the contradiction that would occur between 1 Peter 2:24 and the earlier verse 1 Peter 1:19 if ‘sin’ in Christ is literally sin. As Jackson states:]

The apostle already had declared that Jesus died as “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1:19). If the Lord died, having “absorbed” sin [my interjection: or if in Christ “sin” in terms of copied sin-content is considered by God to be actual sin], the foregoing language becomes meaningless.

Interjection: Jackson then introduces the concept of metonymy to counter the obviousness of 1 Peter 2:24.

What, then, is the explanation of these passages? They involve a common biblical figure of speech known as “metonymy.” In this figure a subject is named when in reality something associated with the subject is intended. Any good textbook on sacred hermeneutics (the science of Bible interpretation) will provide ample evidence and illustrations of this figure of speech. Concerning 2 Corinthians 5:21, D. R. Dungan wrote:

“Literally, Christ could not be sin; He was wholly without sin; and the only way for the language to be true is by the use of this form of metonymy. He became a sin-offering for us” (n.d., 284; Bullinger, 1968, 584; cf. Eph. 5:2).

Either that, or else Christ was allowed to suffer as if he were afflicted with sin—which, of course, he was not, in any actual sense.

[My rebuttal: In any ‘actual sense’ that Jackson refuses to believe but that could exist “behind everyone’s backs” in the actual nature of Christ’s sacrifice for sin.]

J. H. Thayer saw the metonymy as a use of the “abstract for the concrete,” with the sense being: “Though Jesus knew no sin, i.e., he was sinless, nonetheless God allowed him to be treated as if sinful” (1958, 31).

Q: What lies beyond the "Matrix" that is consciousness?

A: The conscious and unconscious mind of God.


Jay Marcus Brewer
Austin, Texas
Email: [email protected]
User avatar
Posts: 922
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2003 3:08 pm
Location: Texas

Return to Religion and Spirituality

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users