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What’s the best Atonement theory?


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3 minutes ago, bluebell said:

So in Catholic Doctrine Christ did not need to die to redeem us?

Good question...Let me say that I believe whatever the Catholic Church teaches. I had not thought of it quite that way. Our redemption is certainly bought through Christ's death. However, what I said implies that His horrible death, or even an ordinary death, was not absolutely necessary for "mere" redemption. Good catch. If I understand correctly, the Catholic Church teaches that Christ is doing even more than redeeming in His hours of severest suffering.

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On 1/15/2021 at 10:07 AM, Robert F. Smith said:

Yes.  It isn't enough for the Lamb to  merely suffer.  It must be slain, and the blood must be used to save lives -- as it was in Egypt that first night of Passover, as the Angel of Death passed over the homes with their doors marked by lamb's blood.  It is horrible, but essential.  That is why we still symbolically drink the Lamb's blood and eat his flesh in a regular ritual observance.

I would posit that man still does not fully understand the original event. Did not Christ say He was the door? If He is the lintel which keeps the doorway open, that explains why the blood was painted on the doorway. But then why was it painted on the two supporting door posts? I would posit for the same reason that every president has two counselors.... by which I gather that Peter was probably crucified on the Passover - which was indeed the midst of the year when the temple was destroyed, since their year began in Sept. My guess is you do not agree.

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On 1/14/2021 at 2:28 PM, 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?

 

 

On 1/14/2021 at 4:07 PM, 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.  

I will chime in here, because I have had a life-long or at least a half-life long journey to understand the atonement. This began soon after I joined the Church. My issue was that I didn't feel comfortable saying I had a testimony in the atonement of Yeshua if I did not understand it. This became an issue for me progressing in the Church when it came time to become a priest, because I didn't feel I could 100% say I had a testimony of the atonement in my priest interview. This in turn set me on my own journey to try to understand the atonement during which I went off to college and became inactive. While I was in graduate school, I pondered and prayed about the subject, and eventually hit upon an answer which satisfied my "why" questions. but it became more concrete for me while I was taking a leadership seminar/course.  This led me in a different direction than the average "Christian" I knew - even within the Church. I will say also that it took a strength of conviction to pursue the truth to stick to it when the world tells you to conform.

So Rivers, you are correct that the atonement is about oneness. God is about oneness - as a Father and a Son are one family, so God is one, which is why they choose to teach us out of such a covenantal relationship. The atonement is also an example. Yes, God suffered the punishment for our sins so that we don't have to. So why then does Yeshua say that he has given us an example to lay down our life for our brothers? There are basically two types of leaders in the world - one either leads with force and intimidation or leads out of love. Some hit upon an idea, and teach it out of love so that all can learn and become better. The latter is of course the type of teacher that Yeshua was. He led by example in hopes that others would learn and follow. There is no compulsion in His way. He told people merely to follow Him. It really is not complex, but people refuse to believe and make it complex. As Hebrews says He showed us the way to the holiest of all, yet because of the doctrine of the trinity, men lost that truth. Yeshua prayed that we could be one even as He is one with the Father. When one understands this the conclusion is that we must follow Him. It is a very open language, which people tend to put limits on. People interpret, and put on blinders, but I submit that this is at the heart of the atonement, and that the atonement is His greatest teaching.

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On 1/14/2021 at 10:29 PM, rongo said:

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. 

Skousen explained this in a very detailed way in an appendix in one of his books. I think it was The First 2,000 Years. Maybe. I don't have my copy with me. He also explained it in a talk given to a missionary conference, and this was distributed later as a cassette tape. I was very intrigued by it, and so I followed his scriptural "trail of evidence," in the end concluding that his case for this idea was sound. Whether it is 100% correct or not? I don't know, but it's the best explanation of the workings of the atonement that I have ever read. I suspect that we won't fully understand the atonement of Christ until we are in an eternal condition.

Skousen indicated in the talk I just mentioned that the question came to him while he was serving on his mission to the United Kingdom. His mission president was Elder John Widtsoe, and Skousen said he asked Elder Widtsoe about the question "Why did Jesus have to suffer?" while accompanying him on a train journey. Elder Widtsoe did not answer him fully, but gave him some initial pointers on where to look -- indicating that he didn't want to deprive him of the experience of discovery by giving him all of it. Skousen said that that he referred back to Widtsoe from time to time about the subject, even after both had returned from their missions, until eventually he had it tracked down.

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On 1/14/2021 at 10:29 PM, teddyaware said:

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

Because that is the culmination of the Atonement, the last little bit. He must die to complete the act, and He must be seen to die, and be seen to suffer. But the primary suffering had started while in the Garden of Gethsemane, and continued until He had suffered it all, whereupon He said "It is finished."

The crucifixion itself was a mosquito bite compared to the real suffering of the Atonement:

DC 19:18 - Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink...

It is my opinion that Christ could have suffered the pains of the Atonement without getting anywhere near a cross. But for the sake of our understanding, He had to be seen to suffer, and crucifixion served nicely because it was public, it was brutal, and it was prolonged. The marks He received in His hands, feet and side are the outward emblems of His suffering, both physical and spiritual, and by symbolically receiving them ourselves we both acknowledge His suffering and join ourselves to Him.

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On 1/14/2021 at 11:23 PM, 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?

That's an excellent question.

I would say that the Earth did not fall, but was brought down. It did not choose, so there is no repentance and no atonement needed. But it is subject to what is wrought on it. Analogous to a person driving on the road obeying the traffic laws, when suddenly a drunk driver coming the other way swerves into the person's lane and there is an accident. Not the obedient person's fault, but nevertheless he or she is brought down by the sin.

We read in the Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:48

48 And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?

I don't know if this is an allegory, some kind of parable, or a literal occurrence. All I can say is that it is part of a vision given to Enoch. 

I'm speculating, but in connection with Skousen's theory, I see it this way: the lesser intelligences abide in obedience because of the honor of God, but have the agency to rebel if that honor vanishes. But we, having been raised to be candidates for divinity ourselves (as greater intelligences -- see the Lord's conversation with Abraham, in PofGP, Abraham 3), have been given leave to rebel despite Father's honor. This happened in the pre-existence, when 1/3 of us did in fact rebel. We're being tested for suitability for joining Father in divinity. We must be tested to ensure that we, if we should be raised to exaltation, can be relied upon to keep our honor intact, thus avoiding chaos.

I know it sounds very mystical. But existence itself seems sometimes to be very mystical. Why do I perceive? Why am I here? Or am I? Cogito ergo sum, and all that.

On 1/14/2021 at 11:23 PM, Calm said:

How can they rebel if they never disobey?

It's a bit of a conundrum, isn't it? Christ never disobeyed, but he could have. The devil even offered him the chance to rebel, but was rejected. 

It seems that in the face of God's honor the intelligences do not want to rebel. And so they don't.  Is it more glorious to be obeyed because of honor, or because of fear? 

And then I recall the Preacher, the Son of David saying: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." (Eccl 12:13)

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On 1/15/2021 at 12:02 PM, Dan McClellan said:

All atonement models are just attempts to use more basic frameworks we already understand as metaphors for more complex frameworks we don't understand. Nothing is isometric with the actual nature and function of atonement. The best model is whichever model is most meaningful to you and the easiest for you to remember and communicate.

I was acquainted with the late Elder Bruce R. Porter of the Seventy (we served as FTM in the same mission, and later as branch presidents in the same stake, both in Germany), and in a private email conversation with him about the atonement, not long before he died, he wrote:

"I believe there are many different, yet correct, ways to look at and think about the Atonement. Whenever I read any explanation of the Atonement, I am inclined to think of it as one more way of looking at and illuminating the Lord’s infinite and eternal sacrifice, which is like a jewel to vast for us to comprehend fully. Hence, each explanation looks at it from a different angle, and each has merit. I never feel that one is necessarily the best or final explanation."

I think that is what is going on here. We are all blind people touching an elephant, each coming up with a valuable insight as to some of the animal's characteristics, yet none of seeing the whole elephant.

Edited by Stargazer
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On 1/15/2021 at 2:15 PM, The Nehor said:

Skousen’s theory always felt like a stretch to me. It tries to tie things together that I am not convinced were meant to be combined. Then again I served with Skousen’s grandson on my mission and he told me some things his grandpa didn’t put in his books so I might be biased. To be fair I agreed with a few of those things though.

I probably shouldn’t talk as my conception is even weirder and I struggle with ennui and depression so maybe I need a better conception of the whole thing. Or maybe my brain is just broken and it has nothing to do with it.

Don't feel too bad. Nearly all of our brains are broken to one extent or another.

This year I will turn 70, and by golly my brain is just as broken as it has always been, but thankfully no more than that. It's the rest of my body that seems to be heading down the trail of ultimate brokenhood.

Treasure your youth -- it will not always be there for you!

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1 hour ago, Stargazer said:

Skousen explained this in a very detailed way in an appendix in one of his books. I think it was The First 2,000 Years. Maybe. I don't have my copy with me. He also explained it in a talk given to a missionary conference, and this was distributed later as a cassette tape. I was very intrigued by it, and so I followed his scriptural "trail of evidence," in the end concluding that his case for this idea was sound. Whether it is 100% correct or not? I don't know, but it's the best explanation of the workings of the atonement that I have ever read. I suspect that we won't fully understand the atonement of Christ until we are in an eternal condition.

Skousen indicated in the talk I just mentioned that the question came to him while he was serving on his mission to the United Kingdom. His mission president was Elder John Widtsoe, and Skousen said he asked Elder Widtsoe about the question "Why did Jesus have to suffer?" while accompanying him on a train journey. Elder Widtsoe did not answer him fully, but gave him some initial pointers on where to look -- indicating that he didn't want to deprive him of the experience of discovery by giving him all of it. Skousen said that that he referred back to Widtsoe from time to time about the subject, even after both had returned from their missions, until eventually he had it tracked down.

Yes. President Widtsoe told him things like "There is a scripture in the first half of D&C that is the key to that," or "There is a scripture in the last half of the Book of Mormon that answers that," so as you mentioned, he had to really search and read with those questions in mind. 

I first encountered it when I was doing splits with one of my greenies, and he said they had something in the apartment that he really liked, but he didn't know who it was from. It was a typed transcript, and there were clues in it that it was Cleon Skousen. I really like the explanation of how and why, especially because no one else attempts to explain that. And, the scriptures were linked and woven together soundly, I think. 

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On 1/15/2021 at 5:07 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

Yes.  It isn't enough for the Lamb to  merely suffer.  It must be slain, and the blood must be used to save lives -- as it was in Egypt that first night of Passover, as the Angel of Death passed over the homes with their doors marked by lamb's blood.  It is horrible, but essential.  That is why we still symbolically drink the Lamb's blood and eat his flesh in a regular ritual observance.

And symbolically accept the marks of his crucifixion in our own flesh, don't forget that.

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On 1/15/2021 at 5:48 PM, bluebell said:

Man, I have so many "but why" questions with Skousen.  His explanation makes no sense to me.  He attempted to answer all the questions but it's like he did so by just making a bunch of stuff up.  :lol:

On the bolded part, I always think of the saying, not even God can change the past.  There does definitely seem to be limits to His power.

If you were to accept the "Skousen Challenge" (yes, I just made that up) and follow the chain of logic he presents in the scriptures, might you then perhaps see some sense in it? Just listening to or reading the explanation (as rongo did above) makes it sound like just one more possibly tall tale. When I first heard the theory I was open to at least follow along, and when I did, I saw the merit in it.

As has been said by others, though, we're not going to fully or perhaps even mostly understand how the atonement works. At this stage, it is enough to accept it, and obey.

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On 1/16/2021 at 12:04 AM, teddyaware said:

Please reread the following simple explanation of the atoning sacrifice proffered by the the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and then, if you’re able to do so, please explain how the Givens go about dismantling the ransom and penal substitution “theory” of the atonement.

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;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (D&C 19)

DC 19 contains some of the most profound scripture about the Atonement that has ever been written.

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17 hours ago, 3DOP said:

Good question...Let me say that I believe whatever the Catholic Church teaches. I had not thought of it quite that way. Our redemption is certainly bought through Christ's death. However, what I said implies that His horrible death, or even an ordinary death, was not absolutely necessary for "mere" redemption. Good catch. If I understand correctly, the Catholic Church teaches that Christ is doing even more than redeeming in His hours of severest suffering.

Yes, to the bolded words. If I understand correctly, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches similarly.

My understanding of scripture (including LDS scripture) leads me and others to say that His suffering was not all on the cross; as to the spiritual and physical agony, the cross, while splendidly obvious to us as a source of pain, was only a small part.  It is a fact that thousands of others were crucified by the Romans. Yet none of them, and not even all of them combined, were in as much agony as Christ was, even before the first scourge was laid on him, pre-crucifixion. 

But what could we see in all this? Only a man hanging upon a cross. So, having nothing more than that obvious agonizing event, this is what gets pictured in paintings, on crucifixes, and in our imagination. I see it this way: his suffering had to be public and it had to be terrible, so that we could have at least some small conception of what it all entailed. But we cannot conceive it in its actual entirety.

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11 hours ago, RevTestament said:

I would posit that man still does not fully understand the original event. Did not Christ say He was the door? If He is the lintel which keeps the doorway open, that explains why the blood was painted on the doorway. But then why was it painted on the two supporting door posts? I would posit for the same reason that every president has two counselors.... by which I gather that Peter was probably crucified on the Passover - which was indeed the midst of the year when the temple was destroyed, since their year began in Sept. My guess is you do not agree.

What am I not supposed to agree with?  8)

1. The date when the year began

2. Peter being crucified upside down at Passover

3. Doorposts symbolic of counselors

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3 hours ago, Stargazer said:

seems that in the face of God's honor the intelligences do not want to rebel. And so they don't.  Is it more glorious to be obeyed because of honor, or because of fear? 

Then they have agency. 

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22 hours ago, Stargazer said:

If you were to accept the "Skousen Challenge" (yes, I just made that up) and follow the chain of logic he presents in the scriptures, might you then perhaps see some sense in it? Just listening to or reading the explanation (as rongo did above) makes it sound like just one more possibly tall tale. When I first heard the theory I was open to at least follow along, and when I did, I saw the merit in it.

As has been said by others, though, we're not going to fully or perhaps even mostly understand how the atonement works. At this stage, it is enough to accept it, and obey.

Perhaps I would find merit in it.  Do any of the current apostles and prophets teach or espouse his Atonement theory (sincere question)?  Are there reasons to assume that gaining a testimony of Skousen's theory is necessary for my spiritual development?  

I've got a lot on my plate as it is and already have courses in scripture study in my day.  What are the arguments for giving Skousen's opinions a part of that time?

 

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On 1/18/2021 at 11:47 AM, Stargazer said:

Don't feel too bad. Nearly all of our brains are broken to one extent or another.

This year I will turn 70, and by golly my brain is just as broken as it has always been, but thankfully no more than that. It's the rest of my body that seems to be heading down the trail of ultimate brokenhood.

Treasure your youth -- it will not always be there for you!

I’m not young anymore. I am just juvenile.

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On 1/18/2021 at 9:37 AM, Stargazer said:

The crucifixion itself was a mosquito bite compared to the real suffering of the Atonement:

The crucifixion is part of the atonement.  Suffering on the cross was the final piece to understanding our infirmities which began in Gethsemane. 

This also sparks an interesting question, which do you think caused more suffering, the price of sin? or the price of understanding ALL our infirmities (including suffering on the cross)?  The recorded experience in Gethsemane does not differentiate between the 2.  In both cases Christ suffered, one to satisfy justice and the other to understand us. Though it seems to me that all the physical, mental, emotional suffering we go through as a product of our mortal experience occurs more often than the suffering we go through as a result of sin. (Assuming that the price for sin is limited to only those committed in the mortal world)

 

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On 1/17/2021 at 2:20 PM, rongo said:

In order to fully understand us and our motivations (especially concerning weakness in sinning), wouldn't He have to know what it is like to feel ashamed, embarrassed, jealous, furious, lazy, annoyed, resentful, and all the other in the long list of human emotions? These things are directly linked to a lot of the pain we feel in mortality, and I don't think He could take our sins upon Himself without also taking these things upon Him. They are the root of why we sin. 

Justice would only be required after we sin, so taking on the infirmities that could lead to sin would have no meaning in the eyes of justice.  Though I do believe that infirmities do come as a result of sin and perhaps that is the justice God requires.  If you steal, deal with loneliness and mistrust, you envy others then deal with low self esteem, ect.

Not all suffering comes from sin and part of the atonement that interests me too, why did He do it and what do we get from it?  Consider suffering from clinical depression, did He suffer it just so he can say "I know exactly how you feel".  Does knowing that he knows help me in any way?  

I think there is more to this than justice and sympathy.  As a result of taking on our infirmities He understands the decisions we make, perfectly equipping Him to decide on how much mercy to extend and secondly, thinking of the suffering of Joseph in Liberty Jail, to perfectly judge our character in our responses to these infirmities when assigning glory or callings in His kingdom.

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On 1/15/2021 at 10:45 AM, rongo said:

I have to be careful about pressing people, Socrates-like, by following up with, "But why, though."  What I like about Skousen's explanation is that it is the only attempted and available explanation (and a good one, in my view). All others simply conclude with, "Because that's just how it is." But why, though. :) 

I agree about omnipotence. I like B. H. Roberts' explanation in The Truth, The Way, The Life. God can do anything that can be done, but not even He can have a valley without two mountains on the side. 

 

On 1/15/2021 at 10:48 AM, bluebell said:

Man, I have so many "but why" questions with Skousen.  His explanation makes no sense to me.  He attempted to answer all the questions but it's like he did so by just making a bunch of stuff up.  :lol:

On the bolded part, I always think of the saying, not even God can change the past.  There does definitely seem to be limits to His power.

 

The three "omni's" need to be struck from our usage in my opinion.  The represent mortal thinking on an eternal being.  And by very definition they are impossibilities.

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On 1/18/2021 at 9:37 AM, Stargazer said:

Because that is the culmination of the Atonement, the last little bit. He must die to complete the act, and He must be seen to die, and be seen to suffer. But the primary suffering had started while in the Garden of Gethsemane, and continued until He had suffered it all, whereupon He said "It is finished."

The crucifixion itself was a mosquito bite compared to the real suffering of the Atonement:

DC 19:18 - Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink...

It is my opinion that Christ could have suffered the pains of the Atonement without getting anywhere near a cross. But for the sake of our understanding, He had to be seen to suffer, and crucifixion served nicely because it was public, it was brutal, and it was prolonged. The marks He received in His hands, feet and side are the outward emblems of His suffering, both physical and spiritual, and by symbolically receiving them ourselves we both acknowledge His suffering and join ourselves to Him.

Clarify please.
From a suffering point of view I can see that the Crucifixion was far less significant than Gethsemane.
But from an atoning point of view, is not the death of the sacrificial lamb as important as its receiving of the sins?

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Besides the various essays on Atonement I listed earlier, I also quite like these succinct comments based on wide knowledge in this Barker interview:

Quote

The everlasting covenant, also called the covenant of peace, is fundamental to Temple theology. It was renewed on the Day of Atonement, when all the effects of the sin that had damaged the covenant bonds with creation were removed. The people had to repent and restore such as they could, and then the High Priest ritualised the renewal of creation. The great restoration and liberty of the Jubilee was proclaimed on the Day of Atonement.

In the time of Jesus, the Qumran community called this “the covenant of loving kindness”: hesed. Jesus was restoring the older covenant at the Last Supper, not establishing a new one. This rids us of the terrible and unbiblical idea of supersession. Jesus taught that, by living within the hesed covenant, and loving one another, everyone would know they were his disciples.

Although he shared their belief in the “covenant of hesed”, Jesus wasn’t part of the Qumran community; there were many differences between them. But he was part of a wider movement that wanted to get back to a purer form of Temple worship. The religious scene of the time was far more complex than we’ve been led to believe, and there was widespread dissatisfaction with what the Temple had become. He was one of many who wanted to purify the Temple.

When I preach at Good Friday services, I find that people are much more able to relate to this Temple understanding of atonement, where Jesus’s self-sacrifice is not substitutionary — it’s the real thing. For practical reasons in the Temple, animals represented the high priest; so the symbolism was that the covenant bonds were healed and restored by self-sacrifice, not by other people doing it for you — which people rightly see as unjust. Romans 12.1, “offer yourselves as a living sacrifice”, is the basis of Christian ethics. We’ve simply lost that. The natural order is maintained by self-sacrifice. That’s the message we need today in a materialistic, consumer society.

I challenge anyone to find a biblical basis for penal substitution. We’ve created a culture of dependence rather than human beings as the image of God (page 1 of the Bible) acting in self-sacrifice.

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2017/20-january/features/interviews/interview-margaret-barker-theologian

Think about the first covenant that we make in temple.  Why that?  It's not a primitive, barbaric thing, but rather, sacrifice is an active recognition on our part that we are part of a larger society, that, in reality, "It's not all about me and what I think and want."  Rather, in the grand scheme of things, as Moses 1 demonstrates, "Man is nothing," but somehow, despite that nothingness, "I also am a son of God, and I have further things to inquire of him."  And of course, in 3 Nephi 9:20, when the voice of Jesus is heard, he announces "And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto a me a broken heart and a contrite spirit," what is, we offer up what we want and what we think as potential sacrifices, rather than as creeds that say to all who might encroach or demand any change, "hitherto thou shalt come, and no further."  In 3 Nephi 9:20-22 Jesus goes on to say, "And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and the with the Holy Ghost... Behold I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.  Therefore, whoso repenteth (personal changes in action and attitude and thinking) and cometh unto me as a little child (that is teachable), him will I receive for such is the kingdom of God.  Behold, for such I have laid down my life [and Barker's Atonement: Rite of Healing emphasizes that in the atonement rituals blood represents life, not death], and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved."  Everything that happens in 3 Nephi 8-29 has a temple context and is most meaningful read that way.  (John Welch is best at showing that.)  Sacrements are not a rite to be performed for us by an intermediary, but covenants that we personally make, and accept along with personal obligations and behavioral and social responsibilities that go with them.  As Loren Hansen's essay on The Moral Atonement shows, The Book of Mormon view of atonement differs from traditional Christian interpretations by being both objective and subjective, rather than one or the other.    And it's not that Jesus makes the sacrifice so that we don't have to.  Rather, he involves us in the same kind of sacrifice that he made and makes.  We give our lives (including our sins and ignorance) to and for others, starting with Him.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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