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The Parable of the Mediator (and why I don't like it)


consiglieri

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Yesterday the instructor had a class member read the entirety of the well-known parable by Boyd K. Packer about the Atonement, which I have quoted below.

There are several things about this parable that I really don't like, and when the instructor asked for comments, I raised my hand and said so.

I said for starters, I think the parable paints God in a particularly bad light, and the words attributed to him sound more like what a certain other character might say to Faust when the debt comes due.

The instructor asked me what specifically I meant, so I borrowed somebody's manual and read the highlighted portion below.

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I agree; I would also include that salvation and Christ's role is only partially legal/forensic; covenants, justification, and sanctification and the like are more *personal* than *legal*, and to relegate it down to such terms is really more (at least historical) Protestantism than "Mormonism."

--The Irish Guy.

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I agree that there are limitations on the Packer parable. For example, the mediator simply pays the debt which implies a quid pro quo satisfaction of justice. We know this is doctrinally inaccurate. The parable was not intended to explain every aspect of the atonement only the concept of mediation.

IMO, The creditor does not represent God but Satan, who is the accuser of his brethren. (Rev. 12:10)

At the end of the class, the instructor stated the usual conclusion to this parable, which is that the Mediator says that now he requires of the debtor to keep his commandments in order to remain out of prison. "It will not be easy, but it will be possible."

I observed that this seems strange, because the one thing we know within the terms of the parable is that what is required by the Mediator must be something different than what was required by the Creditor which could not be paid in the first place, and which started all the trouble.

The very next line of The Mediator after "It will not be easy, but it will be possible." is key.

"I will provide a way."

This implies the establishment of new terms for satisfying the debt.

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I agree with mercyngrace on this.

I do think the point is that it is not an all-encompassing parable of the Atonement - it is a parable used to discuss the principles of Justice and Mercy, and the role the Atonement plays in that one aspect. Understanding the principle of Justice and Mercy, I believe, is key to understanding our requirement to live the Gospel Law.

Without having a grasp of those principles, it makes no sense why we are asked to do certain things as part of the Gospel. (Justice and Mercy, by the way, are the first principles in Missionary Lesson 3: The Gospel of Jesus Christ)

I actually love the parable, and find it a powerful expression of the love of Our Mediator.

The movie version is cool, too.

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And yet, if we conclude that the Mediator requires the exact same thing the Debtor could not pay the Creditor in the first place (i.e., keeping the commandments), the parable only sets the Debtor up for renewed failure.

The mediator does not require the exact same thing, exactly. For one thing, this isn't the first time around, and secondly, this time around, the debtor has the benefit of having learned from his painful experience the first time around. This makes the new relationship and associated expectations and requirements between the mediator and the debtor different from the former relationship between the creditor and the debtor.

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I'm confused...

Going into debt assumes that we borrowed something to purchase something else.

What is it that we are supposed to have borrowed and what did we purchase?

ETA: Also, this parable breaks down further because we don't even know what the terms of the contract are until it is time to pay the debt. We have thousands of people claiming that THEY know what the terms are, and that they are the official spokesman for the creditor, but we have no consistent way to verify it.

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I'm confused...

Going into debt assumes that we borrowed something to purchase something else.

What is it that we are supposed to have borrowed and what did we purchase?

Regarding sins committed against others, think in terms of recompence.

Regarding sins committed against oneself, think, metaphorically, in terms of a character bank account, where the sin runs up a deficit.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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We "all" don not come up short of doing "all we can" -- some do, some don't.

Have you done "all you can do"?

God knows I haven't.

I will leave this open to any who wish to post that their experience has been different, and that they have, in fact, done all they can do.

(The very fact that they will spend time posting to any effect on a message board, however, would tend to indicate otherwise. I.e., How could they have put that time to better use?)

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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At the end of the class, the instructor stated the usual conclusion to this parable, which is that the Mediator says that now he requires of the debtor to keep his commandments in order to remain out of prison. "It will not be easy, but it will be possible."

Matthew 11:

28

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It comparison to the Pharisaic law (and law of perfection) Jesus was addressing, his yolk is easy.

In comparison to the standards of morality promulgated by our own worldly society today, it is not easy.

Different contexts, different comparisons.

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Do you believe that the mediator's terms are to "keep the commandments"?

That would be over-simplifying.

Yes the mediator wants us to keep the commandments, but he allows for something less than absolute perfection in doing so.

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It comparison to the Pharisaic law (and law of perfection) Jesus was addressing, his yolk is easy.

In comparison to the standards of morality promulgated by our own worldly society today, it is not easy.

Different contexts, different comparisons.

In comparison to what will happen to us if we don't accept his gift, I suspect it is quite easy as well.
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That would be over-simplifying.

Yes the mediator wants us to keep the commandments, but he allows for something less than absolute perfection in doing so.

Repentance is allowed in the mediator's terms. Not so for the original creditor.

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Have you done "all you can do"?

God knows I haven't.

Then you'd best mend your ways.
(The very fact that they will spend time posting to any effect on a message board, however, would tend to indicate otherwise. I.e., How could they have put that time to better use?)
But could they have actually put that time to better use? Perhaps posting on a message board is in fact the best service they could render others.
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it's God "choosing" Christ from among some group of brothers that our hpq deep ended on ... Big brother Jesus talk makes me uncomfortable.

I agree.

Which is why I have for some time stopped believing this particular scenario.

I think it more likely that Jesus was chosen from a more limited group, possibly of one, and that if we knew what it took to get into that group, it would stop the frequently heard speculation about whether Jesus could have sinned and goofed up the entire plan of salvation, and what would God have done then.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I had always assumed that the story was meant to just teach about justice and mercy, and not be a complete explanation of the atonement. I never thought of the creditor as being God.

From the sunday school manual Preparing for Exaltation:

Because of Jesus Christ We Can Be Saved If We Repent

Video presentation

Show the video segment

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