No Greater Love

“…the idea that you can give your sins to someone else and have them taken away. It’s one of the many reasons I believe Christianity to be an immoral doctrine as well as an untruthful and fictitious and mythical one. The idea that a scapegoat can be fixed upon and your responsibility dissolved by handing your sins to him. And then the ensuing and disgusting human sacrifice that’s required. There’s no conceivable moral mechanism or process by which crimes that you’ve committed, actions that are your responsibility, can possibly be removed from your record by the maltreatment of somebody else, even if you’ve asked for that to happen…”
Christopher Hitchens

January 13, 1982. Air Florida Flight 90 failed to gain altitude after taking off from Washington National Airport. Crashing into a bridge, it then plunged into the freezing Potomac River. Only six passengers survived the initial crash. What followed was written in The Washington Post the next day…

“He was about 50 years old, one of half a dozen survivors clinging to twisted wreckage bobbing in the icy Potomac when the first helicopter arrived. To the copter’s two-man Park Police crew he seemed the most alert. Life vests were dropped, then a flotation ball. The man passed them to the others. On two occasions, the crew recalled last night, he handed away a life line from the hovering machine that could have dragged him to safety. The helicopter crew – who rescued five people, the only persons who survived from the jetliner – lifted a woman to the riverbank, then dragged three more persons across the ice to safety. Then the life line saved a woman who was trying to swim away from the sinking wreckage, and the helicopter pilot, Donald W. Usher, returned to the scene, but the man was gone.”
“A Hero – Passenger Aids Others, Then Dies”, The Washington Post, January 14, 1982.

Christopher Hitchens said the opening quote during a debate with Larry Taunton. This was Larry’s reply…

“I am somewhat amused, ladies and gentlemen, by these continual expressions of moral outrage. We have seen it throughout the debate. On the one hand, he keeps appealing to some sort of absolute moral law while simultaneously denying the existence of a Law Giver. Where does he get this Code? His own vague inner-promptings? Those are no more valid than anyone else’s, ladies and gentlemen. Sacrifice for others is both noble and Christian. Jesus told his disciples, ‘Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.’ It is an oft-repeated theme that sits at the heart of Christian theology. Christopher, however, has misunderstood it. He has confused the taking of one’s life with the giving of it, but this is to confuse authentic sacrifice with something else.”

The only Good in Good Friday is incomparable love. Share it.


Air Florida Flight 90 details here.
Image: Detail from Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald, 1512–1516.

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