Grunt

The Meaning of Atonement

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Has anyone read Cleon Skousen's theory?

That's probably a dumb question.  Most of you read more than I do.  Someone tossed that on my plate this week and I'd never really thought of the deep "why" of atonement.  It's lead to a few sleepless nights of reading and study.  Is this a common Mormon belief?  Some of it makes sense, but the underlying root of intelligences and their obeyance of God only due to His honor and the possibiltiy of their rejection and the subsequent upset in power doesn't sit well with me.

Thoughts?  Are there other theories I should be looking into?

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Cleon Skousen is just a person.  He had no special authority (e.g. wasn't an Apostle) to reveal the word of God.  What he wrote there was his way of thinking at the time.  We should see it as such (regardless of how correct it may or may not be).  From my perspective, there were true things in there, there was a boatload of speculation or assumption in there, and at least one error.  I found it an interesting read, one that if I took the time, could probably help me see some things in a different perspective, enabling me to expand my understanding.  But I'm not going to take his word as the absolute, one-and-only true understanding how the Atonement of Christ worked (I'm not sure he's got it all in there, and I don't think mortal man is capable of understanding the mechanics, nor do I think mortal man needs to).

Keep in mind that we're forced to use mortal words for things mortals don't understand.  We're not entirely sure exactly what "intelligence" in this context means, for example.  We don't know what constitutes the "sphere" in which intelligences may be placed.  So we should be careful in our assumptions of what God (or Joseph Smith, or even Cleon Skousen) intended to communicate.  Though part of what he wrote reminded me of D&C 121:46 (emphasis mine):

Quote

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

As for studying the Atonement, my recommendation is that you open the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide and read each of the individual scriptures listed there.  Take notes.  When it seems appropriate, reorganize and reword your notes. (I did this on another topic, transferring written notes from random scribbles on an 11x17 dot grid to another sheet with a bit more organization, and then I did it again.  I re-did my notes at least 3 times.)  Without the note-taking, I tend to just read rather than ponder.  So instead, I would read, and then note what I felt was most significant about the verse(s), or I would categorize them in some way (as in, these verses explain this tidbit of the Atonement).

By the time I was done, I had learned a shocking amount about something I thought I already understood completely.  Hence, my recommendation that you try it.  Let the Spirit teach you.

If you must read something from someone else, I recommend the most recent prophets and apostles to speak on the matter as they have the focus God wishes for us.

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2 hours ago, Grunt said:

Has anyone read Cleon Skousen's theory?

That's probably a dumb question.  Most of you read more than I do.  Someone tossed that on my plate this week and I'd never really thought of the deep "why" of atonement.  It's lead to a few sleepless nights of reading and study.  Is this a common Mormon belief?  Some of it makes sense, but the underlying root of intelligences and their obeyance of God only due to His honor and the possibiltiy of their rejection and the subsequent upset in power doesn't sit well with me.

Thoughts?  Are there other theories I should be looking into?

For perhaps 12 or so years Cleon Skousen's version of the atonement, which he claims was taught him by Apostle Widstoe, was the best thing I had ever run into on the atonement. It was infinitely better than the average members response of "we just can't understand the atonement". I applaud Cleon for at least acknowledging that there is so much more that we can understand about the atonement and setting an example of making the effort to go beyond the no fly zone.

That said, few people will ever put the effort into the process to understand where Cleon misses the mark.  You actually are at the root of the issue now as Cleon mis-emphasizes the role of God's creations in the narrative giving them far too much "power" in the process of God remaining God. His emphasis places God at the mercy of all of the intelligences and it simply is not that way.  And in fact properly understood that part of Cleon's narrative fades away into obscurity.

Nonetheless, there is not much information out there that really delves into the Atonement and I consider it a doctrine that has so many moving parts that it is purely the exhausting efforts of years of study that provides the necessary fodder for the spirit to teach you of these things.  When I study, I write in a Thesis sort of format. I have been working on my atonement document for, I think it is going on ten years now and it is over 600 pages long. The challenge becomes that even after you learn the material there is very little opportunity to share as without building on the line upon line foundation others cannot grasp the fascinating intricacies that becomes the greatest event to ever take place.

I can give you the benefit of some of the questions to ask that must be understood before you can work your way through the process.

You must grasp the material of the Fall.

1.) Who is the law Giver in the Garden.  Who is the judge in the Garden?

2.) Why was a death sentence an appropriate judgement for Adam and Eve?  Why was Satan cast out, when Adam and Eve were allowed a Savior. What kind of people dwell in a telestial state.  Why is that state an appropriate place for fallen mankind?

3.) What does Alma 12 provide us in understanding about who becomes the lawgiver and the second set of laws we must now conform to. Why is this significant

4.)What does the story of Cain and Able teach us about the privilege accorded to those who have shed innocent blood? 

5.) What really is Alma 34:11-16 saying. You'll have to make a paradigm shift just to grasp it.

6.) What prevents God the Father from exercising mercy without Christ shedding his blood? Why can't he just say, "Never mind Son, just pick the friends you like and bring them on home"?

7.) If mercy cannot rob justice, but justice requires a specific breach be rectified then the only way for justice to not be robbed is for justice to demand mercy.  Otherwise mercy cannot fulfill the demands of justice because justice has its specific requirements. It is not a substitution program. How is that accomplished?

8.) Why would God cease to be God if mercy robbed justice?

9.) The best quote I have ever found which indicates that Elder Eyring clearly understands a key element of the atonement is this one:

Quote

 

Question: What exactly is the atonement and how can I receive its blessings and one thing I have always wondered but have never been able to find my answer to is how do I access the atonement. Is all I have to do is just ask God for the atonement to take place in my life?

President Eyring: Could I … First thing to do is to get a few facts straight.  The atonement was something that Jesus Christ Did.  It's not a thing itself he atoned for our sins and he paid the price to allow us to be forgiven and to be resurrected...alright, so it's what he did that qualified him to give us forgiveness to change our hearts and it's the Holy Ghost that is doing that.It's not the atonement as if it is a thing itself. 

The atonement is something the Savior did and the Father has given Him, because of that great sacrifice that He made for us, the power to forgive us.  And so when you feel forgiveness that is not the atonement - that's the Savior giving you a feeling of forgiveness because of the atonement.(President Henry B. Eyring, Transcribed from the Face To Face event, March 4th 2017 )

 

Most will read it and not see anything of significance. Expand on this quote for what it is really saying and one of the key elements of the atonement will be manifest - this is related to number 5 above.  I could go on with more questions but this is enough for your first five years of study...

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A question that I sometime ponder about the atonement is who determined the sin to suffering ratio and how was this determined. If Jesus suffered more than was required, that would be unjust for Christ, but God is not unjust, and for Him to allow His Son to suffer more than what was required would be unjust. I also suspect He would not allow or require His Son to suffer more than what was needed. If Christ suffered less than what was needed, then that would also be unjust because the requirements of justice would not be met. So I suspect that the amount of Christ's suffering was directly related to precisely the amount of sin that needed to be atoned for, no more and no less. So what and who determines how much sin results in how much suffering?

Two related questions: 1) what happens if the overarching, universal laws of justice that govern the atonement were thrown out, and rejected/disobeyed, and who/what is it that would deliver/implement/administer the consequences of abandoning the laws of justice.

2) Why does the penalty/consequences for sin have to be suffering? Why can't it be something else? For example, one parent might use corporal punishment (suffering) as a penalty/consequence for disobedience. Another parent might use a period of isolation or time-out, while another parent might issue a work order. Why is suffering, rather than something else, the penalty for sin?

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5 minutes ago, askandanswer said:

A question that I sometime ponder about the atonement is who determined the sin to suffering ratio and how was this determined. If Jesus suffered more than was required, that would be unjust for Christ, but God is not unjust, and for Him to allow His Son to suffer more than what was required would be unjust. I also suspect He would not allow or require His Son to suffer more than what was needed. If Christ suffered less than what was needed, then that would also be unjust because the requirements of justice would not be met. So I suspect that the amount of Christ's suffering was directly related to precisely the amount of sin that needed to be atoned for, no more and no less. So what and who determines how much sin results in how much suffering?

I believe this to be too mechanical or legalistic a view of the Atonement.  There was no list of all the sins everyone had, was, or would commit, with all the mitigating circumstances, and their corresponding just punishments.  There was sin.  There is a consequence to sin.  That consequence had to be overcome, mastered, subdued.  Then, the one who mastered it would have full command of the consequences.  Or something like that.  It seems I'm having a hard time coming up with words beyond these, so they'll have to do.

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45 minutes ago, zil said:

I believe this to be too mechanical or legalistic a view of the Atonement.  There was no list of all the sins everyone had, was, or would commit, with all the mitigating circumstances, and their corresponding just punishments.  There was sin.  There is a consequence to sin.  That consequence had to be overcome, mastered, subdued.  Then, the one who mastered it would have full command of the consequences.  Or something like that.  It seems I'm having a hard time coming up with words beyond these, so they'll have to do.

God, first and foremost, abides by the law. And the law in and of itself, is empty and insufficient, until given meaning and effect by the addition of rules and regulations and judicial interpretation. 

I believe that behind every doctrine, every teaching, every principle of the kingdom lies and enormous amount of, for want of a better phrase, rules and regulations and fine print. Broad principles and law are too general to make consistent decisions for the enormously varied and complex situations in which humans find themselves at some point. There needs to be something much more detailed and specific than broad principles. Yes, there is sin, and as soon as you acknowledge the concept of sin, to have meaning, it needs to be defined, and then as soon as you come up with a definition, you then have to start considering all the ifs and buts and maybes, and to answer all of those you need the aforementioned fine print. And yes, there are consequences to be overcome, and as soon as you accept that idea, you need to precisely identify/define the "overcome" point so that you know when you've reached it.

I also see a need for some sort of laws/rules/regulations to govern the transfer of power from whoever/whatever controlled the consequences of sin prior to the time when the atonement came into effect, to the Being who took control of them once the atonement came into affect. I suspect that these things happen in an orderly, law abiding, perhaps even legalistic manner.

These kind of things are too important to be left to chance .God is a God of order, and these things are probably governed by order. I think there are opportunities for learning by inquiring into what that order might be

Edited by askandanswer

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4 hours ago, Grunt said:

Thoughts?  Are there other theories I should be looking into?

I would whole heartily recommend Elder David A Bednar's three series books:

1) Increase in Learning

2) Act in Doctrine

3) The Power to Become

These books provide some great thoughts.

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1 hour ago, askandanswer said:

A question that I sometime ponder about the atonement is who determined the sin to suffering ratio and how was this determined. If Jesus suffered more than was required, that would be unjust for Christ, but God is not unjust, and for Him to allow His Son to suffer more than what was required would be unjust. I also suspect He would not allow or require His Son to suffer more than what was needed. If Christ suffered less than what was needed, then that would also be unjust because the requirements of justice would not be met. So I suspect that the amount of Christ's suffering was directly related to precisely the amount of sin that needed to be atoned for, no more and no less. So what and who determines how much sin results in how much suffering?

Two related questions: 1) what happens if the overarching, universal laws of justice that govern the atonement were thrown out, and rejected/disobeyed, and who/what is it that would deliver/implement/administer the consequences of abandoning the laws of justice.

2) Why does the penalty/consequences for sin have to be suffering? Why can't it be something else? For example, one parent might use corporal punishment (suffering) as a penalty/consequence for disobedience. Another parent might use a period of isolation or time-out, while another parent might issue a work order. Why is suffering, rather than something else, the penalty for sin?

This is a challenge to put into words and have it make sense but I'll try.  One of the Key aspects of the Atonement was to repair the breech caused by Adam and Eve transgressing the Law that was given them in the Garden of Eden.  Their judgment was to be removed from the presence of God the Father which is the equivalent of spiritual death.  The atonement is what allows all of us to return to the presence of our Father in Heaven.  So Christ's pays the price to allow us to come back into the presence of the Father.  This price is exacted by the first law of the Garden of Eden as that was the one that was broken.  However, all of yours and I's sins are after the fact of the first law of the Garden. They do not exist as part of the burden of the price exacted by the first law of the garden of Eden. Is the price being paid then the result of sins that were not even committed? Or is something else being addressed?

Question number 1.  We tend to look at justice as the bad guy in the scenario because we are always looking at it from our perspective of justice demands we suffer for our sins.  However what if justice is the reason the atonement works.  Go back to the first real story in the Bible where Cain slays Able. It begins teaching us of the atonement in the very first story and we learn something.  We learn that innocent blood can make demands on the law giver and so Able's Blood cries out unto the Lord for justice. Right? Completely change your paradigm and now focus on Jesus Christ as the innocent blood that was Shed.  Don't look at justice for how it impacts us for our sins but look at justice for how it empowers Christ because he has no sins and dies innocently.  When he cries out for justice, who is obligated to answer that plea? What does that imply?

Question number 2. I am out of time for the moment but I'll toss out a couple of things:

 

Quote

 

D&C 45:3–5

3. Listen to [Jesus Christ] who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—

4. Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;

5. Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life

 

Again, the only way to understand the atonement is to completely reverse the paradigm and look at it from God the Fathers perspective.  Your question is from the perspective of man.  Man sins - he deserves to be punished - case closed. However suffering as it plays into the effectiveness of the atonement is that when an innocent person, in this case Christ suffers, when he did not sin, then he is building a claim which is made to the law giver to whom he is subject.  Notice above that Christ cites his suffering as part of what has to be considered by the Father when he stands as our advocate.  His suffering gives him rights that he would not have otherwise and those rights play into his ability to have expectations of his Fathers consideration.  Consider this verse as well:

Quote

 

Moroni 7:27

27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?

 28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

 

Now for a final thought about how suffering justly or because you broke a law simply pays the demands of the law, however that means that if one suffers when one broke no law then that must be addressed and recompensed.  So where you are seeing suffering as penalty it has a bonus side for those who are repentant.  Because there is much suffering where you did no sin you also get to make an appeal to your law giver which is different than Christ's Law giver as described in Alma 12.  Yours is Jesus Christ. Contemplate these words by L. Todd Christofferson:

Quote

The Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane and His agony on the cross redeem us from sin by satisfying the demands that justice has upon us. He extends mercy and pardons those who repent. The Atonement also satisfies the debt justice owes to us by healing and compensating us for any suffering we innocently endure. “For behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam” (2 Nephi 9:21; see also Alma 7:11–12). (Redemption, Christofferson, D. Todd, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April Conference 2013)

 

Edited by brlenox

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38 minutes ago, askandanswer said:

God, first and foremost, abides by the law. And the law in and of itself, is empty and insufficient, until given meaning and effect by the addition of rules and regulations and judicial interpretation. 

I believe that behind every doctrine, every teaching, every principle of the kingdom lies and enormous amount of, for want of a better phrase, rules and regulations and fine print. Broad principles and law are too general to make consistent decisions for the enormously varied and complex situations in which humans find themselves at some point. There needs to be something much more detailed and specific than broad principles. Yes, there is sin, and as soon as you acknowledge the concept of sin, to have meaning, it needs to be defined, and then as soon as you come up with a definition, you then have to start considering all the ifs and buts and maybes, and to answer all of those you need the aforementioned fine print. And yes, there are consequences to be overcome, and as soon as you accept that idea, you need to precisely identify/define the "overcome" point so that you know when you've reached it.

I also see a need for some sort of laws/rules/regulations to govern the transfer of power from whoever/whatever controlled the consequences of sin prior to the time when the atonement came into effect, to the Being who took control of them once the atonement came into affect. I suspect that these things happen in an orderly, law abiding, perhaps even legalistic manner.

These kind of things are too important to be left to chance .God is a God of order, and these things are probably governed by order. I think there are opportunities for learning by inquiring into what that order might be

I agree that God acts in harmony with eternal laws and that his house is one of order.  But I think the majority of what you describe is projecting mortal needs and failings onto God.  God is the perfect, omniscient judge, as is Christ.  They do not need fine print (Christ found fault with the scribes and Pharisees for creating fine print).  When we reach that point, we will not need fine print.

I don't believe Christ paid the finite price for a finite list of sins, I believe he overcame the entire concept of sin, that somehow, in a finite amount of time, he endured something eternal and infinite, paid the infinite price and overcame the eternal consequences of sin - not sins.  And I don't believe someone handed him a "Mastery of the Consequences of Sin" certificate - I believe he accomplished this mastery.  I don't believe this is like a set of physical reins which can only be held by one person at a time, but rather a skill or accomplishment that any number of people could, in theory, accomplish.

All that said, these are nothing more than ways of thinking about it.  I don't believe we'll ever fully understand how Christ accomplished the Atonement - I think without the experience, without having never succumbed to temptation, we cannot understand.  I could be wrong, and I'm open to learning more, including different perspectives like the article linked in the OP.  But age has taken me away from thinking like you describe, not toward it.

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7 hours ago, Grunt said:

Has anyone read Cleon Skousen's theory?

That's probably a dumb question.  Most of you read more than I do.  Someone tossed that on my plate this week and I'd never really thought of the deep "why" of atonement.  It's lead to a few sleepless nights of reading and study.  Is this a common Mormon belief?  Some of it makes sense, but the underlying root of intelligences and their obeyance of God only due to His honor and the possibiltiy of their rejection and the subsequent upset in power doesn't sit well with me.

Thoughts?  Are there other theories I should be looking into?

I hadn't read this article before as I've always been a little wary of Skousen, a prejudice I inherited from my father. I read it earlier today and for the most part, I think its one idea among many, and its a matter of personal preference how much belief/credibility one chooses to attach to it. 

The part that you didn't like is the part that I found to be most interesting. I've sometimes wondered how it could happen that God could cease to be God, and what might happen if God violated certain laws. This article suggests a possible answer, which to me, sort of sounds plausible, that answer being, God could cease to be God if those who sustain Him in that position no longer chose to do so. In such an event, God's power and knowledge and ability to act would in no way be lessened, but there can only be a leader if there are things (intelligences) to be led, and if those being led lost confidence in their leader because their leader broke some sort of fundamental law, that leader, while retaining their position and power, would no longer occupy the position they previously had. Sort of like a general whose troops had all deserted him - still holding the rank, power and privileges of general but less useful than before and not able to do as much.

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7 hours ago, askandanswer said:

God, first and foremost, abides by the law.

I wonder about that. To me, it makes God subordinate to the law--making the law the end rather than the means to the end that is God.

I see it as the other way around, thereby providing the means and justification for properly dealing with paradoxes--not the least of which is willfully and knowingly sacrificing one's son, or sacrificing oneself, for the sins of others. In a sense, the atonement required violation of the law prohibiting suicide, but violation of that law made God no less God, but rather it made God all the more God.

Another paradox is that the sacrament, commanded by God, involves the symbolic violation of the law against cannibalism.

There are others, but this should suffice.

In short, the means that is the law is rightly subordinate to the end that is God.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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17 hours ago, Grunt said:

Thoughts?  Are there other theories I should be looking into?

There are a number of theories on the atonement. Some are generic christian theories and some are specifically LDS. General theories include the moral influence theory, the ransom theory, the satisfaction theory, and the penal substitution theory (many LDS members talk in these terms about the atonement). Some specific LDS theories include the demand of eternal intelligences for justice theory, the empathy theory, the divine infusion theory, and the compassion theory. You could do a search for any of these to learn more. I myself am partial to the divine infusion theory as far as it goes. 

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21 minutes ago, james12 said:

There are a number of theories on the atonement. Some are generic christian theories and some are specifically LDS. General theories include the moral influence theory, the ransom theory, the satisfaction theory, and the penal substitution theory (many LDS members talk in these terms about the atonement). Some specific LDS theories include the demand of eternal intelligences for justice theory, the empathy theory, the divine infusion theory, and the compassion theory. You could do a search for any of these to learn more. I myself am partial to the divine infusion theory as far as it goes. 

I'll start googling.  Thanks.

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6 hours ago, wenglund said:

I wonder about that. To me, it makes God subordinate to the law--making the law the end rather than the means to the end that is God.

I see it as the other way around, thereby providing the means and justification for properly dealing with paradoxes--not the least of which is willfully and knowingly sacrificing one's son, or sacrificing oneself, for the sins of others. In a sense, the atonement required violation of the law prohibiting suicide, but violation of that law made God no less God, but rather it made God all the more God.

Another paradox is that the sacrament, commanded by God, involves the symbolic violation of the law against cannibalism.

There are others, but this should suffice.

In short, the means that is the law is rightly subordinate to the end that is God.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

IMO, you are citing laws for mortals.  I don't think the laws for celestial immortals are necessarily the same.  I tend to think of the laws to which God is subject as being more like the laws of physics - gravity just is - defy it, and you go splat on the sidewalk; master it (and some others) and you can fly.

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21 hours ago, Grunt said:

Thoughts?  

 

Some of my personal thoughts – but with a disclaimer.  I believe any individual can receive, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, revelation (including new revelation) concerning doctrine.  But all revelation concerning the law, covenants and ordinances must come through the proper channels of priesthood authority.

The word or term “Atonement” is a made-up word by Tyndall (as part of his fist English translation of Biblical scripture).  The word was made up because there was no translation in English for the ancient texts.   In short there is no common English understanding of this ancient idea so a word was made up to make some attempt to encapsulate an understanding completely lost during the Great Apostasy.

Because I work with industrial artificial intelligence in my little consulting business – I believe that I have gained some interesting insights.  I am not trying to argue but rather introduce some ideas.  The first idea is the idea of what is called the intelligence (or artificial intelligence) of the Hive Mind.  For most of human history it was believed that the greatest intelligence was some “super” single intelligence – greater that all other.  In essence, this construct was strongly imbedded in our religious belief in G-d.  G-d being the quintessential super single intelligence.  As we have scientifically sought to develop artificial intelligence we have discovered that a hive or collective intelligence significantly outperforms a super centralized intelligence.  The greater the distribution of intelligence the greater the intelligent advantage. 

This collective concept of a hive mind intelligence has influenced my personal understanding of G-ds and the idea of the plurality of G-d and becoming “one” with G-d.  Most LDS carry the concept of a Celestial being as individual that is divinely superior – but as I understand marriage as a sealing and uniting and that all Celestial beings are sealed as a singular family – I am inclined to think that much more is going on and that though we are individuals that there is an eternal and divine union that binds all Celestial beings.  I am inclined to think that what we call “The Atonement” makes this possible and is included in this eternal and divine binding unification of Celestial beings.

I believe there is another part of what we call “The Atonement”.  This has to do with a term we LDS call “Agency”.  I believe agency is a divine gift from G-d and is distinctly different than our individual will – even though our agency is exercised through our individual will.  Because agency is a divine gift it comes with “strings” attached.  Along with our agency there is law.  Agency gives us power to sin which is a transgression of the law.  Thus, our agency gives us power to exercise or transgress the law.  There are consequences (both benedictions and maledictions) for exercising the law. 

Jesus is the proctor of both our agency and the law.  This makes him the rightful “Law Giver” as well as the overseer of our agency.  This means that one of the strings of our agency is that we are bound to Jesus as the proctor and law giver such that he is complicit with us for the sins we commit.  This means that in order that justice be exercised in the law that all consequences (both benedictions and maledictions) of the law must be shared.  I believe this is why Jesus could perform an act to pay for our sins (because he was both the law giver and proctor of our agency) but this also means that we must work jointly with him and his redemption to have full benefit of his redemption or payment.  The term we use to define the working jointly with Christ is what we in the English language call “The Atonement”. 

So I believe the atonement is becoming one with G-d – not just to overcome sin but to exercise the laws of eternal life – to be G-d and share the divine intelligence of Celestial beings.

 

The Traveler

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9 hours ago, wenglund said:

I wonder about that. To me, it makes God subordinate to the law--making the law the end rather than the means to the end that is God.

I see it as the other way around, thereby providing the means and justification for properly dealing with paradoxes--not the least of which is willfully and knowingly sacrificing one's son, or sacrificing oneself, for the sins of others. In a sense, the atonement required violation of the law prohibiting suicide, but violation of that law made God no less God, but rather it made God all the more God.

Another paradox is that the sacrament, commanded by God, involves the symbolic violation of the law against cannibalism.

There are others, but this should suffice.

In short, the means that is the law is rightly subordinate to the end that is God.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

I think that the examples you have mentioned here are examples of laws that God has made for us, His children, and not for himself. As shown in the scriptures, God can break these kind of laws without consequence, probably because they are not binding on Him, but there are other laws that God cannot break without suffering some kind of consequence, eg Alma 42:13. Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice.  Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. I believe that there are other laws that pre-date the existence of God, and to which God is subject. An example of this kind of law are laws of justice and I suspect there are many others. 

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16 hours ago, zil said:

I agree that God acts in harmony with eternal laws and that his house is one of order.  But I think the majority of what you describe is projecting mortal needs and failings onto God.  God is the perfect, omniscient judge, as is Christ.  They do not need fine print (Christ found fault with the scribes and Pharisees for creating fine print).  When we reach that point, we will not need fine print.

I don't believe Christ paid the finite price for a finite list of sins, I believe he overcame the entire concept of sin, that somehow, in a finite amount of time, he endured something eternal and infinite, paid the infinite price and overcame the eternal consequences of sin - not sins.  And I don't believe someone handed him a "Mastery of the Consequences of Sin" certificate - I believe he accomplished this mastery.  I don't believe this is like a set of physical reins which can only be held by one person at a time, but rather a skill or accomplishment that any number of people could, in theory, accomplish.

All that said, these are nothing more than ways of thinking about it.  I don't believe we'll ever fully understand how Christ accomplished the Atonement - I think without the experience, without having never succumbed to temptation, we cannot understand.  I could be wrong, and I'm open to learning more, including different perspectives like the article linked in the OP.  But age has taken me away from thinking like you describe, not toward it.

I've thought about this a little more and have temporarily concluded that whether Christ overcame the eternal consequneces of sin or or sins doesn't matter to much. Regardless of whether it was sin or sins, someone still needed to decide how much suffering was required to reach the desired objective. How and by whom it was decided what that end point was continue to be thought provoking questions. 

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18 hours ago, zil said:

I believe this to be too mechanical or legalistic a view of the Atonement.

Bingo.

I believe that it is possible to understand Christ's atonement. In fact, like any other eternal principle, the atonement of Jesus Christ is understood step by step. Each of us has some level of understanding of that principle. Our understanding may be shallow or it may be strong. One thing that is certain is that, if we pursue the path of truth, we will understand Jesus' atoning sacrifice vastly more at some future day than we do now.

I am not a W. Cleon Skousen fan. (More of a Royal Skousen fan, actually,) I have a lot of admiration for Skousen. I think he was a good and highly intelligent man who read, pondered, and really meditated on gospel topics. His explanation of the law of Moses in an appendix of his book The First Two Thousand Years (or maybe it was The Third Thousand Years -- I'm not sure) was the best thing I had ever read to that point on the topic, and really opened up my understanding of the law of Moses. So if I'm not a Skousen fan, I'm certainly no Skousen detractor. But Skousen's works have built up a rabid fan following, sometimes seeming almost cultic. I doubt Skousen himself would have been (or was) comfortable with that.

Anyway, Skousen thought that Elder Widtsoe had guided him to deep truths about the Savior's atonement. I don't know; maybe he did. But like much of Skousen's writings, his descriptions about this lifelong, ongoing event is very mechanistic. It is my belief that understanding divinity does not primarily take place at the mechanical level. We don't believe or understand God and his relationship to us because we are well acquainted with the mechanics of his creations of the world and of ourselves. We don't know such things. But at this stage, the mechanics are irrelevant. I believe that the mechanics of the atonement in God's plan of salvation are likewise not relevant to our understanding of its meaning and how we invite Christ into our lives.

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3 hours ago, zil said:

IMO, you are citing laws for mortals.  I don't think the laws for celestial immortals are necessarily the same.  I tend to think of the laws to which God is subject as being more like the laws of physics - gravity just is - defy it, and you go splat on the sidewalk; master it (and some others) and you can fly.

I don't necessarily disagree. I just believe that the earthly is a reflection (type and shadow) of the heavenly--that is to say that, to me, all things in the physical universe testify of God, though he be too oft hidden in plain sight.

If you take a look at Dr. Peterson's presentations linked above, you may see what I mean. He creatively uses science to help comprehend the religious, the physical to reveal the spiritual.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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11 minutes ago, wenglund said:

I don't necessarily disagree. I just believe that the earthly is a reflection (type and shadow) of the heavenly--that is to say that, to me, all things in the physical universe testify of God, though he be too oft hidden in plain sight.

I agree on this, I guess it was just the examples that I thought didn't fit. :)

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3 hours ago, askandanswer said:

I think that the examples you have mentioned here are examples of laws that God has made for us, His children, and not for himself. As shown in the scriptures, God can break these kind of laws without consequence, probably because they are not binding on Him, but there are other laws that God cannot break without suffering some kind of consequence, eg Alma 42:13. Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice.  Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. I believe that there are other laws that pre-date the existence of God, and to which God is subject. An example of this kind of law are laws of justice and I suspect there are many others. 

That makes sense to me. Perhaps the inviolate godly laws you mentioned are along the lines of the Judeo-Christian notion of the U.S. Presidency wherein a distinction is made between the office and the person holding the office, with the former being considered as the law, thus making the later not above the law, but subject to it. The same may be the case for the office of God. It is neither above or below the law because it is the law itself (or the end thereof), whereas the person holding the office is subject thereto. 

Something to consider. I am grateful that you caused me to reconsider, otherwise I would missed what followed. [Thumbs up]

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

Edited by wenglund

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3 hours ago, Vort said:

Bingo.

I believe that it is possible to understand Christ's atonement. In fact, like any other eternal principle, the atonement of Jesus Christ is understood step by step. Each of us has some level of understanding of that principle. Our understanding may be shallow or it may be strong. One thing that is certain is that, if we pursue the path of truth, we will understand Jesus' atoning sacrifice vastly more at some future day than we do now.

Yup. The more the atonement is active in our day-to-day living, the greater the understanding. As with many principles of the Gospel, comprehension flows from experiencing and doing, or in other words by living an atoned-filled life..

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

 

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