Crucifixion, Resurrection and the Doctrine of Vicarious Atonement Which, As Ordinarily Understood, Is Idolatrous, Blasphemous, and Pernicious in the Highest Degree

“And it is always by the crucifixion and death on the cross of renunciation of that old Adam, the lower self, and the resurrection and ascension to a condition of final perfection that salvation is finally attained. And the reason why all these eternal verities in the soul’s history are made to centre in the prophet of Nazareth is simply because, recognising in him the tokens of his attainment of perfection in a degree never reached before, and in his history the fitting symbolical correspondences, the Divine Spirit, under whose inspiration the Gospels were composed, selected him as the type of the possibilities of humanity at large.

But even while thus rejecting as idolatrous, blasphemous, and pernicious in the highest degree the doctrine as ordinarily understood of Vicarious Atonement [N.A.: That realized by someone else in place of another one; in this case the sacrifice by Jesus Christ to redeem us from sin, to reconcile us with God], we still see in “Christ Jesus” “the only begotten Son of God,” [John 3:16, 18] and still cling fast to His blood and cross as the sole means of salvation.

But it is the Christ Jesus, or man reborn of a pure soul and spirit, as Jesus Himself declared that all must be born – even precisely as He is dramatically described as having been born – within ourselves, to whom we look for salvation. And the means are His cross of self-sacrifice, renunciation, and purity of life; and the reception into ourselves of that “Blood of God” which is no mere physical blood – between which and moral imperfection is no congruous relation – but which is the life of God, even pure Spirit, which is God, and which God is ever freely shedding for His creatures, giving them of His own life and substance.

How pernicious is the doctrine of vicarious atonement as ordinarily accepted may be seen in the world’s present condition, intellectually, morally, and spiritually, no less than physically. Man ever makes himself after the image of his God, that is, after his idea of God. And believing in a God who is unjust, selfish, and cruel, man cannot be other than unjust, selfish, and cruel also.

It is precisely this misrepresentation of the divine character, and this perversion of the true and only possible doctrine of the atonement into one that makes man’s salvation a process external to himself and dependent on the action of another than himself, which, by falsifying Christianity, have ensured its failure, and, instead of a world ordered on the principles of justice, sympathy, and purity, have given us a world of wrong-doing, selfishness, and sensuality.

According to the true gospel, as declared by the prophets, the substance of humanity is not material and created, but spiritual and divine. And man rises out of his lower into his higher nature by subordinating the former to the latter, and so rising wholly into that higher, becoming thereby divine – for between Spirit and Matter there is no boundary line. The knowledge of this was the priceless treasure of which Israel fleeing, “spoiled the Egyptians.” [Exodus 12:36] And it was the grand secret of all sacred mysteries from the first. That, on the contrary, is a false gospel, proceeding from the priests, which, defying at once the intellect and the intuition, ascribes salvation to a vicarious operation, and, instead of the sacrifice of our own lower nature to our own higher nature, and of ourselves for others, insists on the sacrifice of our higher nature to our lower, and of others for ourselves.

It is of this inversion of the divine order that the prevalent habit of flesh eating and of vivisection – that most infernal of all practices that ever issued from the bottomless pit of man’s lower nature – are the direct and inevitable outcome. And until the divine order is restored, in act as well as in thought, by the renunciation of the doctrine of vicarious sacrifice as ordinarily held, and by the consequent rehabilitation of the character of God, all our efforts at improvement must be futile; our civilisation will be but a mockery of the term; and our morality and religion will be things we should be the better for being without.” (Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland. Addresses and Essays on Vegetarianism, chapter Vegetarianism and the Bible, pp. 221-223; emphasis added].