I'm sure that all of you have heard the gospel at some point. The story is very well known in the Western world. It is so commonly heard and so often repeated that it just becomes part of the background noise after awhile.
Moreover, the gospel, the Christian message, has been at the center of European culture for 1600 years now. The story is so widespread and has become so common that almost everyone has heard it, but we rarely stop to think about what a strange story it is. The story seems normal to us, because we've heard it so often in so many different forms. Though we've often heard it described as, "The Greatest Story Ever Told," it might be more accurate to say that it is the most twisted story ever told.
It is a story of the God who made everything. The God who made everything created people in his image to govern the earth for him. But people turned away from God. They lost their privileged status and fell under a curse. The world, which was once perfectly good, began to turn against them.
This is just the setup. This is the part people frequently object to, but this isn't the part that's twisted. The twisted part comes next.
God decided to set things right again. He sent a person who will be good, who won't turn away from him, to be his representative and to make peace between himself and humanity. This person led a good life. He gathered some followers and taught them how to lead a good life. Unfortunately, a lot of people with political and religious clout didn't like this person, so they conspired to have him killed.
Now, here comes the twisted part. God allowed it. He let the people in charge kill his representative. God's representative went along with this plan and even forgave the people who killed him.
Finally, it is revealed that this was God's plan all along, to allow his chosen representative to die, despite the fact that he did nothing wrong. His death acts as a sacrifice, the good person is punished instead of the people who actually deserve it. Then the good person is brought back to life, and he promises that the people who follow him will be brought back to life as well.
What do you think. Is the gospel story really as twisted as I've made it out to be? If it is, why do you think Christians made such a bizarre story central to their faith? Finally, how did such a bizarre story become the dominant story in the Western world?