Fundamentals of the Christian Faith in the Light of the Gospels

by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din

Jesus did not Teach the Doctrine of Atonement: Sin Washed off by Repentance

The other doctrine whereon Jesus has laid special stress is that man, renouncing all his sinful activities through remorse and repentance, should become as pure and clean as an innocent child whose very nature abhors sin and cherishes love for virtue. Jesus even tries to carry man much higher than this state of inno­cence, and inculcates that if you wish to be perfect, you must imbue yourself with Divine attributes. This is indeed an ideal teaching, which stands in bold contrast to the notion of Original Sin and the consequent dogma of Atonement. To quote Jesus’ own words:

“Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew, 19:13–14).

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew, 5:48).

That man should strive to become innocent and pure like children, and that he should imbue himself with Divine attrib­utes, was the highest aim of Jesus’ ministry. It will, therefore, be the grossest injustice to Jesus to assert that he inculcated that man was sinful by nature. On the contrary, Jesus never believed that man had become rotten and impure to such an extent that it was impossible to reclaim and reform him, and that the only way to save and deliver him was that Jesus himself should lay down his life on the cursed Cross, bearing the burden of the sins of humanity. There is nothing in the Gospel to approve and endorse this doctrine. The Gospel, while directing on the one hand that man should become sinless and pure like innocent children, and should imbue himself with Divine attributes, cannot on the other hand have subscribed to the doctrine of Atonement.