This brilliant photo-quote raises the question for me: Is it possible to be a "Christian" without believing in this nightmare mythology?
The answer for me is a resounded Yes. I can be a Christian through the model of Friendship, not Sin and Atonement.
Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, but Friends." Sin and atonement have nothing to do with my Christianity. Jesus is the beloved friend of my heart, an intimate companion on the way, an enlightened master whose humanity embodies and radiates divine love.
Jesus is also a child of my Divine Mother. So are Buddha, Moses, Mohammad, and the great Rishis of India. In friendship, there is no hierarchy. There is no separation of the human and divine. We are all divinely human children of the Mother.
Jesus is my Friend, but not my Savior. I would never ask my Friend to die for my sins, even if I had any. What is there to be saved from?
God isn't interested in sin. She wants me to make mistakes, learn from them, grow from them, and then move on. It's called evolution, not sin. And God loves evolution. Her creation is the perfect flowering of countless mutations, imperfections, and infinitesimal fuck-ups.
God loves to see what her children will do next, what we will invent, how we will turn our missed notes into new melodies. We ourselves were "created in the image of God," were we not? That means, we are creators too. What will a creator do next? You never know, and neither does the creator. God has no plan. God is amazed.
How did we ever get this brutal myth? My take is this: it is a projection of the abused psyche of the dysfunctional "nuclear family" in Dark Age Europe. The nuclear family is a recent and not very successful experiment in human history: nothing like the extended family model of the Bible and other ancient societies.
The experience of the nuclear family in the Dark Ages, whether in a hovel or a castle, was lonely and brutal. The children lived in fear of an abusive angry Father. They fled for protection to a loving but sorrowful Mother. They also were covered from the Father's rage when he beat up the eldest Son. The firstborn Son became the scapegoat and the "savior," by taking upon himself the brutality of the patriarch.
This was such a common experience in European society that it was enshrined in a religious myth, a paradigm for understanding our origins, and our relationship to the creator. The Church used this myth effectively to scare people into submission to authority, because it resonated with their own experience in the dysfunctional family.
When authorities get us to believe we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, and make up a hell to threaten us, they don't need a police force or an army.
But when you give up the myth of the angry Father, when you give up the Medieval belief in hell, when you realize that God is not interested in guilt or punishment, then you can begin to heal from religious abuse, and awaken a living relationship with the Friend, whose luminous joy radiates from the center of your heart, deeper inside than your soul. This is what early Quakers called the "Inward Light" and the "Seed Christ."
The Friend whispers from within us, saying, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mat 11:28). The Friend says, "Drop all religious duties and just surrender to me: I will free you from bondage, don't worry" (Bhagavad Gita 18:66).
Why do we need any theology at all when there is such a constant revolution of love at the center of the soul?