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What’s the best Atonement theory?


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I just finished reading All Things New by Fiona and Terryl Givens.  https://deseretbook.com/p/all-things-new-rethinking-sin-salvation-and-everything-in-between?variant_id=190826-paperback

 

 

The book contains a chapter on the Atonement.  They dismantle the ransom and penal substitution theories.  However they don’t, to my satisfaction, fully explain their own theory as to how the Atonement actually works.

 Is there a perfect theory or do we chalk it up to being incomprehensible to human understanding?

 

Edited by Rivers
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I think the only one that explains the how and why is Skousen's. Heads explode over that, but no one (including general authorities) has ever explained the how and why, especially in light of the Book of Mormon, D&C, and PoGP. 

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2 minutes ago, rongo said:

I think the only one that explains the how and why is Skousen's. Heads explode over that, but no one (including general authorities) has ever explained the how and why, especially in light of the Book of Mormon, D&C, and PoGP. 

What is Skousen’s theory?

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29 minutes ago, rongo said:

I think the only one that explains the how and why is Skousen's. Heads explode over that, but no one (including general authorities) has ever explained the how and why, especially in light of the Book of Mormon, D&C, and PoGP. 

Isn’t it the theory that the Atonement satisfies all the intelligences or something like that?

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If I understand Terryl and Fiona correctly, they propose that Christ suffering for sins and suffering for sorrows is one and the same.  That is because sin is woundedness in their point of view.  

If this is the case, Gethsemene really is more important than the cross.

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3 minutes ago, Rivers said:

Isn’t it the theory that the Atonement satisfies all the intelligences or something like that?

That's part of it. School's out now. We were doing audio exercises, so I was back and forth between the desk and around the room. Here is an "in a nutshell" synopsis:

The original question for Skousen was: why did Jesus have to suffer so much? Did he have to suffer, or could the atonement have been wrought some other way? Could God have chosen to do it any other way?

From the Book of Mormon, D&C, and PoGP:

1) All things consist of eternal, uncreated intelligence and spirit matter (which is a form of matter that we can't normally discern on earth). Physical creation ties spirits (which consist of intelligence and spirit matter) with physical matter. Both types of matter are things that are acted upon, the intelligence is that which acts. All of God's creations obey Him unquestioningly except for man, because we are spirit children of God (the highest creations) and have agency according to the eternal plan. So, man alone can and does choose to disobey God. When God commands, the intelligences in matter obey, which is how apparent miracles happen. When God commands the intelligences in water to turn to wine, they act upon matter to do so. Moving mountains, healing, etc. 

2) The source of God's power is His honor (D&C 29, Moses 3 or 4), or the honor which the intelligences grant Him. They do so because He is completely just, unchangeable, and dependable (it's what makes God God). If He were to do anything that is unjust, He would cease to be God (Alma 42 or 43), and everything would fall apart. The intelligences would rebel because God was not worthy of His honor. 

3) According to divine pattern, spirit children become like heavenly parents by coming to earth and obtaining physical bodies and learning through experience. This necessitates that they fall, because of the veil of forgetfulness, but it also means that God cannot allow us back into His presence because this would be unjust. 

4) Jesus is also universally acknowledged as God by the intelligences. As the Father would do, so would the Son perfectly, etc., so He can be trusted in every way to act as His Father would act. As the only sinless man (and the only one who by rights could return), and as the foreordained Savior, and as the Creator (the one who commanded the intelligences of creation, and they obeyed), by suffering the most unjustly of all, he "brings about the bowels of mercy." Not in His Father, who is already full of mercy, but in the intelligences. They so rebelled at His unjust taking upon Him our sins (He was the only one who could) and suffering and being killed that they "freaked out" at his death (cataclysms and destruction). They accept His terms, which are both just and merciful, and through this we can return to God's presence without violating justice and God ceasing to be God. It's walking the razor's edge. His terms to us are just and merciful, too, if we apply his atonement, and all is satisfied. 

That's a quick rundown, but I am unaware of any other explanation (GA or not) that explains the how and why, and why God couldn't have done it another way, why He can't just let us do our best and return, etc. 

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12 minutes ago, Rivers said:

If I understand Terryl and Fiona correctly, they propose that Christ suffering for sins and suffering for sorrows is one and the same.  That is because sin is woundedness in their point of view.  

If this is the case, Gethsemene really is more important than the cross.

Then why is the crucifixion of Christ the central focus of the higher ordinances, including eternal marriage?

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8 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

Then why is the crucifixion of Christ the central focus of the higher ordinances, including eternal marriage?

If I understand Paul, he taught that the crucifixion satisfied the Law of Moses which brings us into a higher law or higher covenant.  So the crucifixion becomes a symbol of the New and Everlasting Covenant. 

I just came up with that on the spot.

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1 hour ago, Rivers said:

I just finished reading All Things New by Fiona and Terryl Givens.  https://deseretbook.com/p/all-things-new-rethinking-sin-salvation-and-everything-in-between?variant_id=190826-paperback

 

 

The book contains a chapter on the Atonement.  They dismantle the ransom and penal substitution theories.  However they don’t, to my satisfaction, fully explain their own theory as to how the Atonement actually works.

 Is there a perfect theory or do we chalk it up to being incomprehensible to human understanding?

 

If the Givens reject penal substitution, how do they get around the following? 

15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; (D&C 19)

 

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1 minute ago, Rivers said:

If I understand Paul, he taught that the crucifixion satisfied the Law of Moses which brings us into a higher law or higher covenant.  So the crucifixion becomes a symbol of the New and Everlasting Covenant. 

I just came up with that on the spot.

The apostle Paul said a lot more than that about the crucifixion of Christ, and there’s no doubt but that for him the most important part of the atoning sacrifice was the crucifixion. I can quote one of his testimonies of the importance of the crucifixion from memory: “I glory not save in the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.” Paul is testifying that it is through the crucifixion of Christ that the power of this fallen world to keep men ensnared as slaves to sin is destroyed, and it’s also through the crucifixion of Christ that the inherited fallen nature of man is slain so that the faithful can be reborn as a new creatures in Christ Jesus.

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I think they would say that Christ suffered  for the sorrow that comes sin rather the sin itself.  

So somehow He is able to succor us in our sorrows which lessens the suffering we experience from our own bad choices.  

 

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4 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

The apostle Paul said a lot more than that about the crucifixion of Christ, and there’s no doubt but that for him the most important part of the atoning sacrifice was the crucifixion. I can quote one of his testimonies of the importance of the crucifixion from memory: “I glory not save in the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.” Paul is testifying that it is through the crucifixion of Christ that the power of this fallen world to keep men ensnared as slaves to sin is destroyed, and it’s also through the crucifixion of Christ that the inherited fallen nature of man is slain so that the faithful can be reborn as a new creatures in Christ Jesus.

I would say that being reborn as new creatures in Christ is the same as entering into a higher covenant relationship.  Everything boils down to a relationship with God and with each other.  The two great commandments.  The Atonement is literally oneness.  

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18 minutes ago, pogi said:

In my personal opinion, the best atonement theory is the one which inspires someone to turn to Christ in repentance. 

Is there a name for that one?

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1 hour ago, Rivers said:

I just finished reading All Things New by Fiona and Terryl Givens.  https://deseretbook.com/p/all-things-new-rethinking-sin-salvation-and-everything-in-between?variant_id=190826-paperback

The book contains a chapter on the Atonement.  They dismantle the ransom and penal substitution theories.  However they don’t, to my satisfaction, fully explain their own theory as to how the Atonement actually works.

 Is there a perfect theory or do we chalk it up to being incomprehensible to human understanding?

The "Unified Atonement" [which is an oxymoron] Theory.

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56 minutes ago, rongo said:

All of God's creations obey Him unquestioningly except for man, because we are spirit children of God (the highest creations) and have agency according to the eternal plan. So, man alone can and does choose to disobey God.

Seems unfair then to require the earth to fall if it lacks agency.  And if creations can choose to disobey, but obey him because he is honorable...how is that not them having agency?

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They so rebelled at His unjust taking upon Him our sins (He was the only one who could) and suffering and being killed that they "freaked out" at his death (cataclysms and destruction). 

How can they rebel if they never disobey?

Edited by Calm
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I like the insights shared by Stephen Robinson in his book Believing Christ (particularly the final chapter).

A few excerpts.

"In Christ there is a real transfer of guilt for innocence. Through the oneness of our covenant relationship, my guilt becomes Jesus’ guilt, which he experienced and for which he suffered. At the same time, his innocence and perfection become mine, and I am rendered clean and worthy. In Christ our sins cease to be ours, and as far as the justice of God is concerned, we never committed them. Through the Atonement, we are not merely forgiven—we are rendered innocent once again."

"Having personally lived a perfect life, he then chose to experience our imperfect lives. In that infinite Gethsemane experience, the meridian of time, the center of eternity, he lived a billion billion lifetimes of sin, pain, disease, and sorrow."

"God uses no magic wand to simply wave bad things into nonexistence. The sins that he remits, he remits by making them his own and suffering them. The pain and heartaches that he relieves, he relieves by suffering them himself. These things can be shared and absorbed, but they cannot be simply wished or waved away. They must be suffered. Thus we owe him not only for our spiritual cleansing from sin, but for our physical, mental, and emotional healings as well, for he has borne these infirmities for us also. All that the Fall put wrong, the Savior in his atonement puts right. It is all part of his infinite sacrifice—of his infinite gift."

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1 hour ago, Rivers said:

I would say that being reborn as new creatures in Christ is the same as entering into a higher covenant relationship.  Everything boils down to a relationship with God and with each other.  The two great commandments.  The Atonement is literally oneness.  

Here’s the point: both the apostle James E Talmage and the apostle Bruce R McConkie (the two great Latter-Day Saint biographers of the life of Christ), and, more recently, Jeffrey R Holland, all say that while Christ was being crucified the agony of Gethsemane recurred and was even intensified to the point that he was able to die although immortal. If these brethren are correct, this means that in addition to the unspeakable physical end emotional agony of scourging and crucifixion the Lord was called upon to, once again, suffer the extreme spiritual agony of total estrangement from the presence of God he first experienced in Gethsemane.

Over the years, I’ve head some members say after what Christ endured in Gethsemane what he had to pass through during the three hours of darkness while on the cross was nothing in comparison. I don’t believe it, for it was at the point of his death that “the very God of nature was pained” as great convulsions of nature rippled throughout the world like mighty aftershocks from the Lord’s infinite and eternal agony. 
 

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3 hours ago, Rivers said:

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

The book contains a chapter on the Atonement.  They dismantle the ransom and penal substitution theories.  However they don’t, to my satisfaction, fully explain their own theory as to how the Atonement actually works.

 Is there a perfect theory or do we chalk it up to being incomprehensible to human understanding?

Hebrew kippur “atonement, reconciliation” (as in Yom Kippur “Day of Atonement”) was a regular Israelite temple rite, as well as an integral part of every covenant renewal ceremony, as in Mosiah 3:5 – 4:8, and 1QS ii, 25 - iii, 12 (Qumran Community Rule).

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Since the festival meant close encounter with God, the need for purification, atonement and forgiveness was readily acknowledged . . . . The ministry of atonement carried out annually by the post-exilic high priest was largely inherited from the king.[1]

 

In each case the atonement (whether performed by Jesus or the Israelite high priest) is vicarious, as in the Wave-Sheaf ritual (Easter Sunday morning), Hebrew hēnîp, tĕnûpâ, “wave-offering” = Ugaritic np, npy “atonement, expurgation, purification, expiation.”

The Hebrew term šillûm “repayment, recompense” appears in Alma 11:16-17,[2] as well as in Isaiah 34:8, Hosea 9:7, Micah 7:3 = Akkadian tašlimtu “payment” = Ugaritic tšlm “redemption, payment, atonement.”

Leviticus 23 - 25 has the Day of Atonement (the most sacred day of the Jewish year) as central to the Israelite ritual year:

A Sabbath Day (Lev 23:3)

B Passover (23:5‒8)

C Firstfruits (23:10‒14)

D Festival of Weeks/Pentecost (23:15‒22)

E  Horn Blasts/New Year (23:24-25)

E’ Day of Atonement (23:27‒32)

D’ Festival of Tabernacles (23:34‒43)

C’ Perpetual Fire/Bread (24:2‒9)

B’ Sabbath Year (25:2…7)

A’ Jubilee Year (25:8‒55)[3] 


[1] Blake Ostler, Dialogue 20/1 (Spring 1987):92-93 (66 -123), quoting John H. Eaton, Festal Drama in Deutero-Isaiah (London: SPCK, 1979), 11,33, and Ezekiel 45:17; 1 Kings 8.

[2] “Shiblum” is an error of the 1830 edition.  The Book of Mormon Original Manuscript reads Shillum.

[3] Julie Smith, “Point Our Souls to Christ,” 80, cited by Christensen, Interpreter, 31:67.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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1 hour ago, Calm said:

Seems unfair then to require the earth to fall if it lacks agency.  And if creations can choose to disobey, but obey him because he is honorable...how is that not them having agency?

I think things are different for God's offspring than they are for "lower" intelligences. I think lower intelligences have agency within their sphere, but we have potential to be exalted or cast out. 

 

1 hour ago, Calm said:

How can they rebel if they never disobey?

I would say that the elements "freaking out" isn't rebellion or disobedience, but rather genuine reaction at the unjust treatment God Himself underwent. They weren't disobeying or rebelling against His will, they were giving voice to emotion at it. 

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20 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

Here’s the point: both the apostle James E Talmage and the apostle Bruce R McConkie (the two great Latter-Day Saint biographers of the life of Christ), and, more recently, Jeffrey R Holland, all say that while Christ was being crucified the agony of Gethsemane recurred and was even intensified to the point that he was able to die although immortal. If these brethren are correct, this means that in addition to the unspeakable physical end emotional agony of scourging and crucifixion the Lord was called upon to, once again, suffer the extreme spiritual agony of total estrangement from the presence of God he first experienced in Gethsemane.

Over the years, I’ve head some members say after what Christ endured in Gethsemane what he had to pass through during the three hours of darkness while on the cross was nothing in comparison. I don’t believe it, for it was at the point of his death that “the very God of nature was pained” as great convulsions of nature rippled throughout the world like mighty aftershocks from the Lord’s infinite and eternal agony. 

I don't think it's possible to separate the cross, Gethsemane, the scourging, and withdrawal of the Spirit and rank them in relative weight and importance. I think they were all part and parcel of filling the cup to the brim, and all were necessary parts without which the cup would not have been full. 

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