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mfbukowski

The Pragmatic, Secular Atonement

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I have not thought this through much yet, so help me out here.

First a preface.

I have a personal testimony of Jesus Christ, that he was a real person who came to earth, suffered in Gethsemane and in the crucifixion, and through his atonement and death we are made "square" with God,  and that we are "saved by grace after all that we can do" and that, as a 40 year member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and temple worker, I don't think any aspect of these ideas can or should be altered in any way.  We are talking about "salvation" here, in the sense of being forgiven from sin, and we are NOT talking about exaltation- which is a whole different level of "salvation" which is often confused with "being saved" as other Christians use the terminology.  This IS the gospel of Jesus Christ and our church has the best paradigm I think, for mankind to follow.  That means I consider that we are the church with the most truth about these matters than any other on earth today, and are most importantly a LIVING church because we can all receive personal revelation on a daily basis, and our leaders are inspired men, as shown by all the changes we are making which I highly endorse.  In other words, I have a testimony that we are the most "true and living church" on the earth today.

On the other hand, I am personally interested in reaching out to the secular world and drawing parallels between our beliefs and the way the world sees things to help explain the gospel to secular people.  We live in a secular world in which church is separate from the state- at least so far, and allegedly we still have freedom of religion, but the way things are going, that is another question beyond this thread.

But I think we need all the help we can get in converting people who are now "secular" to see us as normal people who have a church which is spiritual but also rational rather than seeing us as kooks or cultists, or people who "just believe" what they are told.

Now the question.

How does the notion of "being saved by grace after all that we can do" differ- except for the word "grace" which is a spiritual term- differ from the secular notion that, say a criminal, is forgiven by the law, after he has done all he can do by serving his sentence in prison, paid his fine, or, in short, doing whatever society feels is "all he can do" to go free and be forgiven?

The philosophy of Pragmatism eschews philosophical distinctions which make no practical "difference" in practice.  In laymen's terms, one might say "it's six of one, half dozen of the other"- meaning it is virtually the "same thing"

Remember again we are talking only about our theology of forgiveness here, not exaltation, not even being "saved" technically- JUST the idea of what it takes for God to forgive us of our sins.

How does "saved by grace after all that we can do" differ from "freed by the law after all our penalties (prison sentences etc) are done"?

Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?

We have the ransom analogy and other analogies of the atonement- how does this view differ in a PRACTICAL sense, and could it also serve as a useful analogy?

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Seems to me your analogy is relatively sound, but if it’s meant to be shared with the secular world, I suspect that world will reject it because they reject the underlying premise, that there is a God from whom we need to seek forgiveness.

I’d invite you to consider that just as life eternal is to know God and Jesus Christ, all discussions of spiritual topics are more likely to be fruitful if the core of the discussions is the reality of God and Jesus Christ.  Taking them out of such discussions and trying to make spiritual things secular, in my mind, depletes those discussions of their potential power.

Btw, I have no desire to have the secular world acknowledge that my spiritual pursuits are rational.  Instead, knowing that all of God’s children will kneel and confess the divinity of God and Christ, my desire is to help them remember their divine nature and have their confession occur sooner rather than later.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I have not thought this through much yet, so help me out here.

First a preface.

I have a personal testimony of Jesus Christ, that he was a real person who came to earth, suffered in Gethsemane and in the crucifixion, and through his atonement and death we are made "square" with God,  and that we are "saved by grace after all that we can do" and that, as a 40 year member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and temple worker, I don't think any aspect of these ideas can or should be altered in any way.  We are talking about "salvation" here, in the sense of being forgiven from sin, and we are NOT talking about exaltation- which is a whole different level of "salvation" which is often confused with "being saved" as other Christians use the terminology.  This IS the gospel of Jesus Christ and our church has the best paradigm I think, for mankind to follow.  That means I consider that we are the church with the most truth about these matters than any other on earth today, and are most importantly a LIVING church because we can all receive personal revelation on a daily basis, and our leaders are inspired men, as shown by all the changes we are making which I highly endorse.  In other words, I have a testimony that we are the most "true and living church" on the earth today.

On the other hand, I am personally interested in reaching out to the secular world and drawing parallels between our beliefs and the way the world sees things to help explain the gospel to secular people.  We live in a secular world in which church is separate from the state- at least so far, and allegedly we still have freedom of religion, but the way things are going, that is another question beyond this thread.

But I think we need all the help we can get in converting people who are now "secular" to see us as normal people who have a church which is spiritual but also rational rather than seeing us as kooks or cultists, or people who "just believe" what they are told.

Now the question.

How does the notion of "being saved by grace after all that we can do" differ- except for the word "grace" which is a spiritual term- differ from the secular notion that, say a criminal, is forgiven by the law, after he has done all he can do by serving his sentence in prison, paid his fine, or, in short, doing whatever society feels is "all he can do" to go free and be forgiven?

The philosophy of Pragmatism eschews philosophical distinctions which make no practical "difference" in practice.  In laymen's terms, one might say "it's six of one, half dozen of the other"- meaning it is virtually the "same thing"

Remember again we are talking only about our theology of forgiveness here, not exaltation, not even being "saved" technically- JUST the idea of what it takes for God to forgive us of our sins.

How does "saved by grace after all that we can do" differ from "freed by the law after all our penalties (prison sentences etc) are done"?

Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?

We have the ransom analogy and other analogies of the atonement- how does this view differ in a PRACTICAL sense, and could it also serve as a useful analogy?

I’ll play the role of the secularist and use the same response I might have given when I was one. 

By way of a preface, what follows assumes that LDS theology teaches that Jesus’s suffering satisfies the demands of justice,  understood as either the proxy receiving a just punishment due or paying a debt voluntarily incurred.

The one who serves the time should be the one who does the crime. Allowing an innocent proxy to serve the time (or pay the debt) in the criminal’s place is an act of injustice.

Punishing an innocent proxy is egregious; accepting the proxy’s debt payment only satisfies the original debt holder, who shows mercy only to the debtor. He shows no mercy to the proxy (“pay up!”).  The debt is still owed (to the proxy, now) and justice still demands payment, as the debt was voluntarily incurred. If the proxy can be merciful and dismiss the debt, why not the original debt owner?  Either scenario means the one who punishes/original debt owner is not merciful. It’s the innocent who pays, not the guilty. No mercy is shown to the innocent party.

The court of law is about justice, not mercy, so the analogy works great if God is just but not merciful. I doubt you’d like to give the impression that the Father is just but merciless.

The ransom analogy is also problematic. The hostage taker demands payment and won’t let the hostage go without it. God has to pay, which means the hostage taker has power over God. God is a man without power who has lots of ‘money,’ not an Air Force pararescue team or the Marines.   And what is the currency? The hostage taker demands that an innocent proxy suffers before he lets the hostage go. The ransom model  shows the Father to be powerless and the proxy merciful, but there’s no justice. 

I doubt you’ll win many secularists over if the Father is shown to be merciless or powerless to secure justice. If the goal is to attract the secular, the parable of the Prodigal Son is a better metaphor. The younger son incurred a punishment that followed naturally from his actions; they were not imposed by the Father. The Father did not demand satisfaction from the elder son before welcoming the younger home, nor did he have to pay off someone who took his son hostage by making the elder son suffer. Whether or not the  son suffers for his actions, if he repents and turns to the Father, the Father forgives and welcomes him home with open arms. The Father is not subject to an external power. He has the power to forgive and does. On this model, the Father’s nature is mercy, not justice. That’s a God worth spending time with.

Edited by Spammer
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54 minutes ago, Spammer said:

The one who serves the time should be the one who does the crime. Allowing an innocent proxy to serve the time or pay the debt) in the criminal’s place is an act of injustice.

Yes I agree but what about when a large fine is paid on behalf of someone else, I do not think the court gets worked up about where the money comes from.

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5 minutes ago, Metis_LDS said:

Yes I agree but what about when a large fine is paid on behalf of someone else, I do not think the court gets worked up about where the money comes from.

You’re right the court doesn’t care who pays, as long as the debt is paid. The court is just but merciless.

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3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?

I love this thought.

I sense your hesitation, though to undermine some sort of spiritual/ethereal force that is out of our control that “forgives” us.

This I think is a result of the introduction of Christianity’s focus on “belief.” Christianity teaches the importance of belief in Christ, rather than believing Christ (or his teachings).

Find peace. If Christ is part of that, then awesome.

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4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I have not thought this through much yet, so help me out here.

First a preface.

I have a personal testimony of Jesus Christ, that he was a real person who came to earth, suffered in Gethsemane and in the crucifixion, and through his atonement and death we are made "square" with God,  and that we are "saved by grace after all that we can do" and that, as a 40 year member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and temple worker, I don't think any aspect of these ideas can or should be altered in any way.  We are talking about "salvation" here, in the sense of being forgiven from sin, and we are NOT talking about exaltation- which is a whole different level of "salvation" which is often confused with "being saved" as other Christians use the terminology.  This IS the gospel of Jesus Christ and our church has the best paradigm I think, for mankind to follow.  That means I consider that we are the church with the most truth about these matters than any other on earth today, and are most importantly a LIVING church because we can all receive personal revelation on a daily basis, and our leaders are inspired men, as shown by all the changes we are making which I highly endorse.  In other words, I have a testimony that we are the most "true and living church" on the earth today.

On the other hand, I am personally interested in reaching out to the secular world and drawing parallels between our beliefs and the way the world sees things to help explain the gospel to secular people.  We live in a secular world in which church is separate from the state- at least so far, and allegedly we still have freedom of religion, but the way things are going, that is another question beyond this thread.

But I think we need all the help we can get in converting people who are now "secular" to see us as normal people who have a church which is spiritual but also rational rather than seeing us as kooks or cultists, or people who "just believe" what they are told.

Now the question.

How does the notion of "being saved by grace after all that we can do" differ- except for the word "grace" which is a spiritual term- differ from the secular notion that, say a criminal, is forgiven by the law, after he has done all he can do by serving his sentence in prison, paid his fine, or, in short, doing whatever society feels is "all he can do" to go free and be forgiven?

The philosophy of Pragmatism eschews philosophical distinctions which make no practical "difference" in practice.  In laymen's terms, one might say "it's six of one, half dozen of the other"- meaning it is virtually the "same thing"

Remember again we are talking only about our theology of forgiveness here, not exaltation, not even being "saved" technically- JUST the idea of what it takes for God to forgive us of our sins.

How does "saved by grace after all that we can do" differ from "freed by the law after all our penalties (prison sentences etc) are done"?

Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?

We have the ransom analogy and other analogies of the atonement- how does this view differ in a PRACTICAL sense, and could it also serve as a useful analogy?

I think forgiveness comes commensurate with all we actually do as much as after all we can do. Sentences are not commuted and paroles are not granted when the guilty does less than what he otherwise he could have done to obtain them, but the guilty are eventually freed (or at least on paper in the case of execution or multiple/serial life sentences, in which case there are practical limits to forgiveness).

Where grace is an enabling power, I see it as whatever authority (moral, constitutional, popular, autocratic, etc.) sustains the laws of that society. Where grace is also unmerited, I see it as “a space granted” whereby the guilty may prepare to return to that society whose laws he broke.

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4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

..............................................

Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?

We have the ransom analogy and other analogies of the atonement- how does this view differ in a PRACTICAL sense, and could it also serve as a useful analogy?

As long as we include remorse (which judges constantly look for), because it is just not enough to do the time. And, even with remorse, we can only take it one day at a time, repenting as we go.  A lifelong effort, enduring to the end.  Sounds so grueling when put that way, but it does get easier as we go -- and it is part of the Lord's Prayer, in which we ask to be forgiven even as we forgive others.  Reminds me of how we tend to tolerate and forgive children so readily.  We even forget ourselves in our compassion for them.  Why?  Because we remember how compassionate and loving our parents were.  Especially our mothers.  A nice thought for Mother's Day.

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22 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?

I forgive people all of the time without requiring them to "serve the time." If not, my 5 yr old son would be in perpetual time out. I have forgiven family, friends, and strangers without them ever apologizing or even acknowledging the harm we've done.

Here in the US, our criminal justice system focuses on punishment for crimes (and we're one of the few remaining developed nations that still murders the convicted for some of their crimes), all while shouting from the rooftops that we are a "Christian Nation!" as opposed to those secular Europeans. However, as those secular European nations have moved away from a focus on punishment for crimes and instead toward rehabilitation, they have seen their recidivism rates drop dramatically compared to the US.

So perhaps instead of asking how we might help secular people understand the Atonement, we should ask what we might learn from them about forgiveness and grace.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, let’s roll said:

Seems to me your analogy is relatively sound, but if it’s meant to be shared with the secular world, I suspect that world will reject it because they reject the underlying premise, that there is a God from whom we need to seek forgiveness.

I’d invite you to consider that just as life eternal is to know God and Jesus Christ, all discussions of spiritual topics are more likely to be fruitful if the core of the discussions is the reality of God and Jesus Christ.  Taking them out of such discussions and trying to make spiritual things secular, in my mind, depletes those discussions of their potential power.

Btw, I have no desire to have the secular world acknowledge that my spiritual pursuits are rational.  Instead, knowing that all of God’s children will kneel and confess the divinity of God and Christ, my desire is to help them remember their divine nature and have their confession occur sooner rather than later.

Good then we are on the same team.

But you can't start out with the reality of God if you have already rejected it.

I was that person.

I had a sense of God and the spirit from my youth and then became an atheist.

The question is how to revive in a rational way the idea that God could exist for those who have stopped believing. 

The church is hemorrhaging members in that category.

The task as I see it is to awaken a rational reason for them to come back. They are now used to seeing the church as mistaken and simply stupid.

And in their view we are the silly people who stood still believe, because we are uneducated in all the problems of being LDS.

My objective is to show them that there is a way to turn it around and that their new secular lifestyle is really pretty much the same as the old, and so the spirit within them is still there and really does have authority.

It is not a question of starting out with God because these people already have, and ended up rejecting it mistakenly.

The answer is giving them a good reason to come back to God in a way that depends upon nothing but reason.

I found the nature of Truth by doubting it all, rejecting it all, and then seeing truth in a new way. In a sense, while looking for "TRVTH" emblazoned on a Greek temple pediment, I found good old pragmatic common sense truth in my heart, and found out how and why that is as valid as anything.

I know it works because that's the way I came back to God, and found the overall best paradigm for putting it all together.

The gospel path is the most rational path that is available to mankind.

Of course it needs to be tweaked here and there but after all it is a paradigm, and paradigms are supposed to get tweaked.

I think that that is what those who are looking and those who have lost it need to know and the world needs to know it. 

These ideas are all out there and have been around for a hundred or 150 years.

We just need to point them out.

Edited by mfbukowski
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11 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Good then we are on the same team.

But you can't start out with the reality of God if you have already rejected it.

I was that person.

I had a sense of God and the spirit from my youth and then became an atheist.

The question is how to revive in a rational way the idea that God could exist for those who have stopped believing. 

The church is hemorrhaging members in that category.

The task as I see it is to awaken a rational reason for them to come back. They are now used to seeing the church as mistaken and simply stupid.

And in their view we are the silly people who stood still believe, because we are uneducated in all the problems of being LDS.

My objective is to show them that there is a way to turn it around and that their new secular lifestyle is really pretty much the same as the old, and so the spirit within them is still there and really does have authority.

It is not a question of starting out with God because these people already have, and ended up rejecting it mistakenly.

The answer is giving them a good reason to come back to God in a way that depends upon nothing but reason.

I found the nature of Truth by doubting it all, rejecting it all, and then seeing truth in a new way.

I know it works because that's the way I came back.

The gospel path is the most rational path that is available to mankind.

They need to know that and the world needs to know it.

In my experience, we can be their friend and rub shoulders with them to reawaken that inexplicable, inarticulable realization. I see realization as two parts acting as a compound in one: rational (they see you and do stuff with you despite your irrational beliefs) and irrational (they have that appealing connection with you). This way, those who are “imbalanced” (not judging – just a difference in personality and perception styles) in favor of one part or the other will bring them together harmoniously. In this way the transformation is found in whatever exchange is being constantly presented for them to transact and relate between and the Lord. But your quest is certainly doable for those of a more rational ilk.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, the narrator said:

I forgive people all of the time without requiring them to "serve the time." If not, my 5 yr old son would be in perpetual time out. I have forgiven family, friends, and strangers without them ever apologizing or even acknowledging the harm we've done.

Here in the US, our criminal justice system focuses on punishment for crimes (and we're one of the few remaining developed nations that still murders the convicted for some of their crimes), all while shouting from the rooftops that we are a "Christian Nation!" as opposed to those secular Europeans. However, as those secular European nations have moved away from a focus on punishment for crimes and instead toward rehabilitation, they have seen their recidivism rates drop dramatically compared to the US.

So perhaps instead of asking how we might help secular people understand the Atonement, we should ask what we might learn from them about forgiveness and grace.

That's a great point.  We clearly need to work more with rehabilitation than punishment.

But would those European criminals have wanted rehabilitation before they committed the crimes that eventually forced them to be rehabilitated in the first place?  Could they have sought out rehab instead of committing the crime in the first place?  If so, why didn't they?  Did they recognize the need to "get rehabilitated" without getting caught first? 

So with them as with your son, there is still a higher authority imposing the encouragement of a life path change by some means, be it rehabilitation or just punishment.  At least we no longer beat children or prisoners.  ;)

Part of the problem often is that we tend to not recognize that we ourselves ARE the problem.  And yes of course it is better for we who are offended or injured by another's behavior to forgive and forget than to be obsessed with the punishment of those who harmed us.

Lacking that, it still becomes a question of how they got themselves into a position where someone else is pointing out what they need to do to "correct" their behavior.  In your example, which is a great one, you as the parent weigh the seriousness of their "transgression" and make the judgement that for that child it should be one minute or 5 or whatever is appropriate to put them on time out.  For the European criminal, instead of time out, he still ends up in rehab when he might prefer to be out on the street still doing what he did before he got caught.  So it is still discipline enforced by others, at least until he sees the truth that it he did this to himself through unacceptable behavior.

But what does the OFFENDER need to do to FEEL forgiveness even when it is not offered by those offended?  How can he assuage his own guilt?

I still would suggest that after "all he can do" to remedy the situation he needs to forgive himself.  If rehabilitation helps him understand that principle, then prison I suppose could become more like a ministry then a prison.  

And then attending his rehab sessions- if done for the right reason, after recognizing guilt, would indeed still be steps forward on what in church might be called "the covenant path".

If he says to himself "I should never have done that- I sure won't do it again!"- and then does his best to make the offended person whole again- whatever the motivation or stimulus- I would suggest that that attitude IS what we would call "repentance". 

He forgives himself after he has done all he can do

Lacking that, it still becomes a question of how they got themselves into a position where someone else is pointing out what they need to do to "correct" their behavior.  In your example, which is a great one, you as the parent weigh the seriousness of their "transgression" and make the judgement that for that child it should be one minute or 5 or whatever is appropriate to put them on time out.

If I offended someone I will do all I can to fix it, as long as I feel that I need to.  After that, I have no choice but to forgive myself "after all I can do".   I can't do more than the best that I can do.
 

Edited by mfbukowski

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2 hours ago, CV75 said:

In my experience, we can be their friend and rub shoulders with them to reawaken that inexplicable, inarticulable realization. I see realization as two parts acting as a compound in one: rational (they see you and do stuff with you despite your irrational beliefs) and irrational (they have that appealing connection with you). This way, those who are “imbalanced” (not judging – just a difference in personality and perception styles) in favor of one part or the other will bring them together harmoniously. In this way the transformation is found in whatever exchange is being constantly presented for them to transact and relate between and the Lord. But your quest is certainly doable for those of a more rational ilk.

 

Or hopefully those who do not have a friend like you!  ;)

 

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2 hours ago, the narrator said:

So perhaps instead of asking how we might help secular people understand the Atonement, we should ask what we might learn from them about forgiveness and grace.

Just thinking on this further- that is a great idea.  But I bet they would teach us that after we do all we can, we have to forgive ourselves and just let go of it.  ("Grace")  ;)

And that might be the opportunity to show them the gospel parallel, and show that how their conscience that taught THEM about forgiveness and grace might be seen as "the still small voice" ;)

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28 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Or hopefully those who do not have a friend like you!  ;)

Oh man I'm the worst!

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Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?

I really think this is a useful analogy, although perhaps not for the same reasons that you do. One of the problems of Mormon theology is that our theology of salvation isn't defined in a way that has strong boundaries. What I mean by that is that there are a number of positions you could take that would serve as a basis for different models that can really be quite different. For example, we have the whole debate over eternal progression (or the limits on it) - to the point where there were formal positions taken in the past like this one:

I am not a strict constructionalist, believing that we seal our eternal progress by what we do here. It is my belief that God will save all of His children that he can: and while, if we live unrighteously here, we shall not go to the other side in the same status, so to speak, as those who lived righteously; nevertheless, the unrighteous will have their chance, and in the eons of the eternities that are to follow, they, too, may climb to the destinies to which they who are righteous and serve God, have climbed to those eternities that are to come. - J. Reuben Clark, Church News, 23 April 1960, p. 3

Contrast that with this:

After a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, either in the telestial, the terrestrial, or the celestial, or to his exaltation, he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory. This is eternal! That is why we must make our decisions early in life and why it is imperative that such decisions be right (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 50).

There are lots of views that can find support among past teachings of LDS leaders (who often had differing views and opinions from one another). Having said that, we are (at least here in the United States) are once again taking a closer look at what it means for society to forgive someone who has "served the time". Does this mean that we should not produce sex offender lists? Should convicted felons be allowed to vote after they have finished serving the time? Own guns? Freely travel across borders? We can ask the same question of society as we do of God - is God's judgment primarily punitive? Or does God save all he can?

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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

That's a great point.  We clearly need to work more with rehabilitation than punishment.

But would those European criminals have wanted rehabilitation before they committed the crimes that eventually forced them to be rehabilitated in the first place?  Could they have sought out rehab instead of committing the crime in the first place?  If so, why didn't they?  Did they recognize the need to "get rehabilitated" without getting caught first? 

So with them as with your son, there is still a higher authority imposing the encouragement of a life path change by some means, be it rehabilitation or just punishment.  At least we no longer beat children or prisoners.  ;)

Part of the problem often is that we tend to not recognize that we ourselves ARE the problem.  And yes of course it is better for we who are offended or injured by another's behavior to forgive and forget than to be obsessed with the punishment of those who harmed us.

Lacking that, it still becomes a question of how they got themselves into a position where someone else is pointing out what they need to do to "correct" their behavior.  In your example, which is a great one, you as the parent weigh the seriousness of their "transgression" and make the judgement that for that child it should be one minute or 5 or whatever is appropriate to put them on time out.  For the European criminal, instead of time out, he still ends up in rehab when he might prefer to be out on the street still doing what he did before he got caught.  So it is still discipline enforced by others, at least until he sees the truth that it he did this to himself through unacceptable behavior.

But what does the OFFENDER need to do to FEEL forgiveness even when it is not offered by those offended?  How can he assuage his own guilt?

I still would suggest that after "all he can do" to remedy the situation he needs to forgive himself.  If rehabilitation helps him understand that principle, then prison I suppose could become more like a ministry then a prison.  

And then attending his rehab sessions- if done for the right reason, after recognizing guilt, would indeed still be steps forward on what in church might be called "the covenant path".

If he says to himself "I should never have done that- I sure won't do it again!"- and then does his best to make the offended person whole again- whatever the motivation or stimulus- I would suggest that that attitude IS what we would call "repentance". 

He forgives himself after he has done all he can do

Lacking that, it still becomes a question of how they got themselves into a position where someone else is pointing out what they need to do to "correct" their behavior.  In your example, which is a great one, you as the parent weigh the seriousness of their "transgression" and make the judgement that for that child it should be one minute or 5 or whatever is appropriate to put them on time out.

If I offended someone I will do all I can to fix it, as long as I feel that I need to.  After that, I have no choice but to forgive myself "after all I can do".   I can't do more than the best that I can do.
 

The short answer is that we tend to put things in the wrong order. Mormons (and humans generally) typically want to say that someone can be forgiven after they repent. This is wrong. True repentance happens because someone feels forgiven. In other words, forgiving ought to precede and motivate repentance, not the other way around.

People don't truly change out of a fear of punishment. Doing so is just a rearrangement of selfish desires. People change when their outlook on life changes. Alma the Younger is a great example of this. The dude didn't change his ways at all before being forgiven. He was unconscious the whole time. It was the knowledge of being forgiven without having yet done a damn thing that encouraged him to live differently when he woke up.

Now how do we help people feel forgiven? First, obviously, we have to learn to forgive without expecting anything. But more importantly, we have to better acknowledge the myth of free agency and the essential role that society plays in our choices and self-identity. Recognizing that forgiveness happens against our will is tied to recognizing that our will is not free but is dictated by our biology, upbringing, and community.

The word of Father Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov come to mind:

Quote

Above all, remember that you cannot be anyone's judge. No man on earth can judge a criminal until he understands that he himself is just as guilty as the man standing before him and that he may be more responsible than anyone else for the crime . . . For it is possible that, if I myself had been upright, this man would not be standing before me accused of a crime. If you can accept the responsibility for the crime committed by the man standing before you, whom you are judging in your heart, then take the crime upon yourself and pay for it with your suffering and let the accused walk away without reproach. . . .

If the evil deeds of men sadden you too greatly and arouse in you an anger you cannot overcome and fill you with the desire to wreak vengeance on the evil-doers – fear this feeling most of all, and once go and seek suffering for yourself, because you too are responsible for the evil deeds of all men. Bear that ordeal and your desire for revenge will be quenched when you understand that you were guilty yourself for having failed to shwo the light to the wicked, as a man without sin could. For if you had done so, you would have lighted the path for the sinful, and the criminal might not have committed his crime.

 

Edited by the narrator
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32 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

 

 

I really think this is a useful analogy, although perhaps not for the same reasons that you do. One of the problems of Mormon theology is that our theology of salvation isn't defined in a way that has strong boundaries. What I mean by that is that there are a number of positions you could take that would serve as a basis for different models that can really be quite different. For example, we have the whole debate over eternal progression (or the limits on it) - to the point where there were formal positions taken in the past like this one:

 

 

Contrast that with this:

 

 

There are lots of views that can find support among past teachings of LDS leaders (who often had differing views and opinions from one another). Having said that, we are (at least here in the United States) are once again taking a closer look at what it means for society to forgive someone who has "served the time". Does this mean that we should not produce sex offender lists? Should convicted felons be allowed to vote after they have finished serving the time? Own guns? Freely travel across borders? We can ask the same question of society as we do of God - is God's judgment primarily punitive? Or does God save all he can?

Good point!

But one of the initial postulates of the entire idea of God is that he is "good" and knows the contents of our hearts.

So it becomes an epistemological problem ;)

We cannot know if the felon to whom we give a gun will use it a properly or not,  but according to theology God would know.

I like the analogy that William James seeing an immanent God as a master chess player, but one who can presumably see a thousand moves ahead, contrasted with us as total novices who barely know how to move the pieces at all. Such a master chess player would "know," despite not being technically omniscient, what moves we would make long before we made them. 

But that's the problem. Society could not know what that our felon would do but God would. ;)

 

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2 hours ago, the narrator said:

The short answer is that we tend to put things in the wrong order. Mormons (and humans generally) typically want to say that someone can be forgive after they repent. This is wrong. True repentance happens because someone feels forgiven. In other words, forgiving ought to precede and motivate repentance, not the other way around.

People don't truly change out of a fear of punishment. Doing so is just a rearrangement of selfish desires. People change when their outlook on life changes. Alma the Younger is a great example of this. The dude didn't change his ways at all before being forgiven. He was unconscious the whole time. It was the knowledge of being forgiven without having yet done a damn thing that encouraged him to live differently when he woke up.

Now how do we help people feel forgiven? First, obviously, we have to learn to forgive without expecting anything. But more importantly, we have to better acknowledge the myth of free agency and the essential role that society plays in our choices and self-identity. Recognizing that forgiveness happens against our will is tied to recognizing that our will is not free but is dictated by our biology, upbringing, and community.

The word of Father Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov come to mind:

 

Well this is ultimately the point that Rorty makes in "Contingency Irony and Solidarity" and of course many many others have made the point as well. This is the essence of existentialism and what has been called the "Death of Man" problem. Yet Rorty, perhaps contradicting himself, still comes up with the notion of an "Ironist". https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02564710802220879?journalCode=rjls20

Chantal Bax also takes on the question in her book "Subjectivity after Wittgenstein", I think pretty effectively.

As far as I can tell the consensus of guys that I agree with see this view as almost an ontology of determinism for a group of philosophers who generally don't like ontologies, and so they oppose a deterministic ontology as well

They see a middle way which casts the issue as a complex one, without practical consequences, because of how complex the issue is sociologically. 

A particular child brought up in the worst possible circumstances may yet achieve great things. Another child with all the advantages may end up going the wrong way.

And giving the dinner choices of pizza or Chinese food, I think no one would plead the fact that they cannot choose because they are sociologically determined to eat hamburgers ;)

It sure feels like we can make choices and feel guilty for things that no one else knows about and so we have not yet been forgiven for them.

I see the issue as forgiving oneself even for things that no one knows about.

Surely that happens.

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 5/12/2019 at 9:50 AM, mfbukowski said:

We live in a secular world in which church is separate from the state- at least so far, and allegedly we still have freedom of religion, but the way things are going, that is another question beyond this thread.

I have a followup question that came up on a related thread, but also applies here. Doesn't it depend upon the secularist? By that I mean there are those secularists who believe in separation of church and state, whereas other secularists view the state as essentially their religion--making the state and religion one..

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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5 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Good then we are on the same team.

But you can't start out with the reality of God if you have already rejected it.

I was that person.

I had a sense of God and the spirit from my youth and then became an atheist.

The question is how to revive in a rational way the idea that God could exist for those who have stopped believing. 

The church is hemorrhaging members in that category.

The task as I see it is to awaken a rational reason for them to come back. They are now used to seeing the church as mistaken and simply stupid.

And in their view we are the silly people who stood still believe, because we are uneducated in all the problems of being LDS.

My objective is to show them that there is a way to turn it around and that their new secular lifestyle is really pretty much the same as the old, and so the spirit within them is still there and really does have authority.

It is not a question of starting out with God because these people already have, and ended up rejecting it mistakenly.

The answer is giving them a good reason to come back to God in a way that depends upon nothing but reason.

I found the nature of Truth by doubting it all, rejecting it all, and then seeing truth in a new way. In a sense, while looking for "TRVTH" emblazoned on a Greek temple pediment, I found good old pragmatic common sense truth in my heart, and found out how and why that is as valid as anything.

I know it works because that's the way I came back to God, and found the overall best paradigm for putting it all together.

The gospel path is the most rational path that is available to mankind.

Of course it needs to be tweaked here and there but after all it is a paradigm, and paradigms are supposed to get tweaked.

I think that that is what those who are looking and those who have lost it need to know and the world needs to know it. 

These ideas are all out there and have been around for a hundred or 150 years.

We just need to point them out.

There are some more problems with your analogy as I see it. I view jail time as a forced punishment at the threat of gunpoint (officers tend to carry guns to make sure everyone obeys). I don't really see heavenly punishment that way. I see heavenly punishment more like getting the gate closed on you. If you are naughty, you can't come in. You are left out in Satan's slums so to speak, and become subject to him and his minions. The analogy is too subject to argument... We don't really  forgive sex offenders. They serve their time, and then go on a sex offender list so we can keep our eye on them. I think God wipes the slate clean, and assumes we have learned our lesson when we repent.

Here is my path back to the Church. When it became time for me to become a priest, I told my bishop that I didn't understand the atonement - why did God do things that way? I felt I couldn't honestly say anymore that I had a testimony of the atonement, so instead of becoming a priest, and later an elder serving a mission, I went to school. The thing that I think best connects a secular world to Christianity is a desire for happiness. In our modern US society that has become a materialistic goal - the more I acquire, the happier I can be, kind of idea. Christianity too teaches it can bring us happiness and joy, but it is a different path - one which eschews  materialism. Christianity teaches we find happiness through love and forgiveness. Invariably, the happiest times of our lives we remember as those times spent with friends and family - they don't usually involve that new thing we bought. So what does that have to do with the atonement? Yeshua taught that we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren even as He laid down His life for us.  As part of my learning process I realized there are basically two types of leaders - the first or worldly leader leads by force - in the US that may not involve a gun, but just the idea that you won't be able to be employed, etc. There are lots of different types of coercion. The second type of leader leads and inspires us through example. Ultimately, this is what Yeshua did. This is the key to understanding the atonement imho. God is not going to force us to repent in order to find our way back, but instead sent someone to teach us to love and the degree it can take to find our way back. When someone understands this, then Yeshua is the biggest hero in our history. Someone willing to die a terribly ignominious death in order to teach us the depth of His love, and the true path to happiness. If we follow we can be one, big happy family, and finally achieve the at-one-ment, Yeshua prayed for. I think that ultimately is the best message to a secular world, because everyone wants to be happy, to belong, to love and be loved. In a society that lacks that, we see all kinds of dysfunction. Yeshua's Way, is ultimately the only way to escape that dysfunction. That's what He was doing - not merely just "saving us." He was leading us, and teaching us by pure example - He was magnifying the law - this is how He truly made the law honorable. Isa 42:21.

 

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On 5/12/2019 at 9:50 AM, mfbukowski said:

How does "saved by grace after all that we can do" differ from "freed by the law after all our penalties (prison sentences etc) are done"??

Whether people have been found guilty and sentenced to jail for robbing banks, or cheating on their taxes, or raping or causing serious harm to others, etc., when they complete their prison terms it is often said of them, "they have paid their debt to society."

I wonder if this secular notion of "debt to society"  might tie in pragmatically to the atonement and Christ paying the price for sin?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

 

 

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3 hours ago, Wade Englund said:

I have a followup question that came up on a related thread, but also applies here. Doesn't it depend upon the secularist? By that I mean there are those secularists who believe in separation of church and state, whereas other secularists view the state as essentially their religion--making the state and religion one..

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

Well I think the question is how one defines "secularist"

I think that if you google "secularism definition" you will get quite a few definitions which simply say that it is belief in the separation of church and state.

Certainly lately it has taken on the connotation of atheism, but it really is not a synonym for "atheism"

I have never seen "secularism" defined as viewing the state as " a religion".  Do you have an example of that?

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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I have never seen "secularism" defined as viewing the state as " a religion".  Do you have an example of that?

I suppose it depends upon how loosely or tightly one defines "religion." By and large, It is a matter of perception. Many view the remarkable devotion to the state by various secularists as religious in nature, though the secularist would deny that perception.  So, I guess my question isn't all that helpful to the discussion. Carry on...

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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7 hours ago, Wade Englund said:

Whether people have been found guilty and sentenced to jail for robbing banks, or cheating on their taxes, or raping or causing serious harm to others, etc., when they complete their prison terms it is often said of them, "they have paid their debt to society."

I wonder if this secular notion of "debt to society"  might tie in pragmatically to the atonement and Christ paying the price for sin?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

 

 

Yes to me it is a very similar concept, and to me it's evidence that either this tendency is natural for all or simply consistent with in Western culture.

Nevertheless I think the analogy works for Western secularism.

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