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What’s the best Atonement theory?


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On 1/14/2021 at 1:28 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?

 

Our Lord's atonement worked and woks by satisfying the demands of justice while providing a way to show mercy.

I don't understand why some people say they don't understand or comprehend it.   Our Father himself dictated what it would take to absolve us from sin and our Lord simply did what our Father told him to do.

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18 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Our Lord's atonement worked and woks by satisfying the demands of justice while providing a way to show mercy.

I don't understand why some people say they don't understand or comprehend it.   Our Father himself dictated what it would take to absolve us from sin and our Lord simply did what our Father told him to do.

I don't think it's the principle that they don't understand.  The justice/mercy part is one of the few parts we can understand.

I think it's the actual process by which the principle is applied.  HOW is our sin placed on Christ, all the sins that ever existed in this world?  How is the transfer achieved?
And if the wages of sin is death, ie if one sin requires us to remain in the grave how does the death of one perfect individual satisfy the judicial penalty of multiple sins?  What physical process caused Christ to bleed when he took upon him our sins?
Etc, etc...

There are many elements we cannot understand and anyone that claims to understand it suffers from an excess of hubris.

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3 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

 

 

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.

They don't seem to really apply as we've gotten used to defining them.  God has a physical body so He isn't actually omnipresent in a literal sense.  He is bound by laws so He's not exactly omnipotent in a literal sense.  It wouldn't be surprising if He's not exactly omniscient in a literal sense either. 

Though in exactly what sense He is omniscient I don't know.  That seems to be the difficult omni to figure out.

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

I don't think it's the principle that they don't understand.  The justice/mercy part is one of the few parts we can understand.

I think it's the actual process by which the principle is applied.  HOW is our sin placed on Christ, all the sins that ever existed in this world?  How is the transfer achieved?
And if the wages of sin is death, ie if one sin requires us to remain in the grave how does the death of one perfect individual satisfy the judicial penalty of multiple sins?  What physical process caused Christ to bleed when he took upon him our sins?
Etc, etc...

One sin not atoned for or not paid for or not cleansed from... whatever words you want to use to describe the condition of still being accountable for some sin... would still leave that person dirty or unclean.  So what we needed was some way to get totally clean.

And our Lord's atonement did that by satisfying the demands of Justice which our Father required as part of the/his plan of salvation.

1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

There are many elements we cannot understand and anyone that claims to understand it suffers from an excess of hubris.

So says you and whoever else says others "can't" understand what you apparently do not understand.  

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6 minutes ago, bluebell said:

They don't seem to really apply as we've gotten used to defining them.  God has a physical body so He isn't actually omnipresent in a literal sense.  He is bound by laws so He's not exactly omnipotent in a literal sense.  It wouldn't be surprising if He's not exactly omniscient in a literal sense either. 

Though in exactly what sense He is omniscient I don't know.  That seems to be the difficult omni to figure out.

The word "God" applies to more people than only our Father in heaven, so perhaps it might do you some good to see things this way:

God, or our kind of being, is everywhere in the sense of being pretty much everywhere across the infinite expanse of the universe.  And we do know everything there is to be known about everything that is knowable.  And we have more power than any other kind of being and a heck of a lot more power than any other kind of being has, including the power to breed or interbreed different kinds of beings and put them/move them wherever we want them to be... whether they live on land or in water or fly high in the skies.

We are totally awesome and more glorious than anything else anywhere else, even in our mortal condition, and our Father in heaven is the absolute epitome of as good and as perfect as an individual person as any kind of being can possibly be.

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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

They don't seem to really apply as we've gotten used to defining them.  God has a physical body so He isn't actually omnipresent in a literal sense.  He is bound by laws so He's not exactly omnipotent in a literal sense.  It wouldn't be surprising if He's not exactly omniscient in a literal sense either. 

Though in exactly what sense He is omniscient I don't know.  That seems to be the difficult omni to figure out.

Not really difficult.  Scripture explains it.

  • D&C 93:30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

Based on that principle, that truth (knowledge) is specific to a sphere (maybe kingdom?) then God could literally know 100% of everything about those spheres within his purview.  He could know absolutely everything possible to be known about earth and its residents, its components etc.  From our perspective God really does have omniscience.  He knows everything about his sphere of influence.

  • D&C 88:36 All kingdoms have a law given;
    37 And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
    38 And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.
    39 All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.

But we aren't the only sphere and in an unending eternity of knowledge in every direction no being could be truly omniscient.  Even when we reach Celestial glory.

  • D&C 130:9 This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.
    10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
    11 And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.

Those who become Celestial will literally be omniscient concerning lower kingdoms.  All things will be made known.
But they will also be introduced to knowledge of a higher order of kingdoms. 

I really didn't intend this response to be this long...

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1 hour ago, Ahab said:

One sin not atoned for or not paid for or not cleansed from... whatever words you want to use to describe the condition of still being accountable for some sin... would still leave that person dirty or unclean.  So what we needed was some way to get totally clean.

And our Lord's atonement did that by satisfying the demands of Justice which our Father required as part of the/his plan of salvation.

No argument.
Now, tell me how the transfer of sin worked?

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7 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Not really difficult.  Scripture explains it.

  • D&C 93:30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

Based on that principle, that truth (knowledge) is specific to a sphere (maybe kingdom?) then God could literally know 100% of everything about those spheres within his purview.  He could know absolutely everything possible to be known about earth and its residents, its components etc.  From our perspective God really does have omniscience.  He knows everything about his sphere of influence.

  • D&C 88:36 All kingdoms have a law given;
    37 And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
    38 And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.
    39 All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.

But we aren't the only sphere and in an unending eternity of knowledge in every direction no being could be truly omniscient.  Even when we reach Celestial glory.

  • D&C 130:9 This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.
    10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
    11 And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.

Those who become Celestial will literally be omniscient concerning lower kingdoms.  All things will be made known.
But they will also be introduced to knowledge of a higher order of kingdoms. 

I really didn't intend this response to be this long...

I think it's difficult in that people use scripture to validate different and often contradictory interpretations of the word, and there isn't a lot of clarifying going on in the church. 

There is a discussion going on right now on a member Facebook page with members arguing that God's foreknowledge is both calvinism (and therefore can't be true) and also not Calvinism (and therefore true).  And then there is a subgroup of people who argue that God doesn't know everything we will do, because that is unknowable, but He does know everything that can be known, and that's why He's described as all-knowing.

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34 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

No argument.
Now, tell me how the transfer of sin worked?

By the power of empathy, my friend.  Our Lord felt what it felt like to lose that spiritual closeness/connection to our Father... a closeness/connection that he had always had with him prior to that moment of distance/separation... a distance/separation most of us have become accustomed to and think of as normal or how we are supposed to feel... but which for him was so painful to both his spirit and his physical body...combined as they were and as we are when we are mortal... that he felt that pain and it hurt him so much that it caused him to bleed from the inside out.

That's how, if you can comprehend what I am describing with mere words in this online chat bubble with you.

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52 minutes ago, Ahab said:

By the power of empathy, my friend.  Our Lord felt what it felt like to lose that spiritual closeness/connection to our Father... a closeness/connection that he had always had with him prior to that moment of distance/separation... a distance/separation most of us have become accustomed to and think of as normal or how we are supposed to feel... but which for him was so painful to both his spirit and his physical body...combined as they were and as we are when we are mortal... that he felt that pain and it hurt him so much that it caused him to bleed from the inside out.

That's how, if you can comprehend what I am describing with mere words in this online chat bubble with you.

You crack me up.  Thanks.  😄

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17 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

No argument.
Now, tell me how the transfer of sin worked?

Although I haven’t had what I’m about to describe happen much lately, for a significant portion of my life I would frequently have very vivid dreams in which I committed very serious sins, and it all seemed so real, deeply impactful and psychologically traumatizing that I would, quite literally, suffer the exquisite pains of a damned soul. Please understand that at no time in my waking hours was I ever guilty of committing the grievous sins that I thought I was guilty of committing in these horrific nightmares.

The intense shame, guilt, regret and remorse of conscience combined to generate such overwhelming  emotional agony that, like Alma the younger, I fervently wished I could become extinct and no longer exist as a sentient being. It was all so very real that when I would finally awake it would often take several minutes of torturous mental processing before I would come to the blessed realization that what I had experienced was just another one of my dark dreams and that I wasn’t guilty, at least not in my waking hours, of committing those dreadful crimes against God that made living within my own mind a living hell. In one instance, it took me a good hour after waking before finally realizing I never committed the sin for which I had been suffering so terribly.

 I solemnly testify that a human being is capable of suffering most severely for sins that he never committed, and it’s all so real it’s as if he actually did commit those terrible crimes against God and man. It still haunts me to this day and causes me to wonder. As a consequence, I have zero doubt that the Savior’s infinite and eternal capacity for empathy made it possible for him to have dark visions in which in which he was made feel as if he was the very vilest of all sinners. To me, there’s no mystery at all as to how the transfer worked.

Edited by teddyaware
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12 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

No argument.
Now, tell me how the transfer of sin worked?

Thermodynamics illustrates the atonement for me.

The fall and sin introduces disorder and increases entropy of a system.

"Work"(the scientific definition) must be done to removed disorder from the system to achieve a more ordered state.

The system does not differentiate if all the work must be done internal to it or external(via proxy)to it. It simply increases in order as it loses entropy via work.

We end up having to do the "work" ourselves if we are not prepared to let the Saviour assist through the atonement. At least some work must still be performed internal to the system, we call that repentance. 

Edited by gav
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4 hours ago, gav said:

Thermodynamics illustrates the atonement for me.

The fall and sin introduces disorder and increases entropy of a system.

"Work"(the scientific definition) must be done to removed disorder from the system to achieve a more ordered state.

The system does not differentiate if all the work must be done internal to it or external(via proxy)to it. It simply increases in order as it loses entropy via work.

We end up having to do the "work" ourselves if we are not prepared to let the Saviour assist through the atonement. At least some work must still be performed internal to the system, we call that repentance. 

I think it helps to think of the "work" that is requisite as whatever it takes/took to satisfy our Father in a situation that involves a/any/all broken law.  With our Father as someone who demands justice rather than someone who ignores those sinful situations.

And our Father specifically dictated what it would take to satisfy justice or what he would consider a just recompense for violation of his law before any of us got into all of this mess we got ourselves into by the violation of any of his laws.  He told us it would require someone else to step in to save us... someone else who would not violate any of his laws... someone who our Father would specifically appoint to be that Savior for all of the rest of us who would sin or ever commit any sin.  Which is when Satan, and then our Lord, stepped in to volunteer to be that Savior for all of the rest of us who would come here for this mortal experience we are now experiencing.

And it is as simple and as beautiful as all that.  When we sin we are then a sinner and as a sinner we are then separated/disconnected from a close association with our Father in heaven because he can not tolerate sin in any degree whatsoever, so what we then need is someone else who can make things right for God for us by absolving us from those sins we have committed.

Or to put this in plain modern English, since sin is a word we don't really use anymore except when speaking a very specialized religious language... when we violate any of our Father's laws we are then someone who has violated his law and violators of law or lawbreakers we are then separated/disconnected from a close association with our Father in heaven because he can not tolerate the violation of any of his laws to any degree whatsoever, so what we then need is someone else who can make things right for God for us by putting us in a new situation as if we never did violate any of our Father's laws. A new situation involving someone who is and always has been righteous acting as our proxy with our Father.

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15 hours ago, teddyaware said:

Although I haven’t had what I’m about to describe happen to me much lately, for a significant portion of my life I would frequently have very vivid dreams in which I committed very serious sins, and it all seemed so very real, devastatingly impactful and emotionally traumatizing that I would, quite literally, suffer the exquisite pains of a damned soul. Please understand that at no time in my waking hours have I ever been guilty of committing the grievous sins that I was guilty of committing in these horrific nightmares.

The shame, guilt, regret, remorse of conscience and mortification combined to generate such overwhelmingly intense emotional agony that, like Alma the younger, I fervently wished I could become extinct and no longer exist as a sentient being. It was all so very real that when I would finally awake it would often take several minutes of agonizing mental processing before I would come to the blessed realization that what I had just experienced was just another one of my dark dreams; and that I wasn’t guilty, at least not in my waking hours, of committing those dreadful crimes against God that made living within my own mind a living hell. I solemnly testify that the mind is capable of suffering most severely for sins that were never committed. It still haunts me...

No one knows that unless they have experienced it. 

And so they say "dreams and spiritual experiences are not real"

How then can they change one's life if we don't count them as "real"?

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5 hours ago, gav said:

Thermodynamics illustrates the atonement for me.

The fall and sin introduces disorder and increases entropy of a system.

"Work"(the scientific definition) must be done to removed disorder from the system to achieve a more ordered state.

The system does not differentiate if all the work must be done internal to it or external(via proxy)to it. It simply increases in order as it loses entropy via work.

We end up having to do the "work" ourselves if we are not prepared to let the Saviour assist through the atonement. At least some work must still be performed internal to the system, we call that repentance. 

Love this.

And so we are learning to organize worlds in miniature, right now. Our first "world" is the world within us!

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17 hours ago, Ahab said:

By the power of empathy, my friend.  Our Lord felt what it felt like to lose that spiritual closeness/connection to our Father... a closeness/connection that he had always had with him prior to that moment of distance/separation... a distance/separation most of us have become accustomed to and think of as normal or how we are supposed to feel... but which for him was so painful to both his spirit and his physical body...combined as they were and as we are when we are mortal... that he felt that pain and it hurt him so much that it caused him to bleed from the inside out.

That's how, if you can comprehend what I am describing with mere words in this online chat bubble with you.

Oh my gosh, we agree on something.!

There was no transfer of sin- that removes responsibility for sin and causes folks like Martin Luther to say "sin boldly" because consequences of sin has been removed from "believers"

What is transferred is guilt through putting ourselves in Christ's place, while he felt the weight of every pain, mental illness, guilt of every sinner, and all victims of sin and all human pain, all at once, through his infinite empathy.

And so when we believe that he did that for us, our empathy responds to that emotional force reaching out to us and decreases our desire to sin and makes us want to reverse the pain we caused him, by repenting and thereby reversing and accepting our own portion of the guilt, and at the same time eliminating the guilt insofar as we are able 

 But to be saved from this guilt we must believe that he did this for us.

 And so we have the scriptures that say that we are saved by belief in Christ.

But we must do our part as well.

 That's my interpretation and I'm stickin to it.!!

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16 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

No one knows that unless they have experienced it. 

And so they say "dreams and spiritual experiences are not real"

How then can they change one's life if we don't count them as "real"?

These terrible dreams tuned out to be great blessings in disguise, because through them I was able to learn that wickedness really isn’t happiness.

 

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On 1/14/2021 at 3:14 PM, Rivers said:

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

According to James E. Talmage, the suffering of Gethsemane returned while Jesus was on the cross.

Quote

"It seems, that in addition to the fearful suffering incident to crucifixion, the agony of Gethsemane had recurred, intensified beyond human power to endure." Jesus The Christ (page 661)

Emphasis mine.

If the suffering from Gethsemane returned and was more intense, maybe the cross was more important than Gethsemane. Who knows? Does it really matter? This need to place Gethsemane above the cross fascinates me.

Edited by Thinking
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9 minutes ago, Thinking said:

If the suffering from Gethsemane returned and was more intense, maybe the cross was more important than Gethsemane. Who knows? Does it really matter? This need to place Gethsemane above the cross fascinates me.

I think it simply 1,- makes the atonement more spiritual/psychological and less based on torture and death and 2, - sets us apart from creedal theology and 3- is one of the real reasons we do not have crucifixes everywhere.

 Many of us have had painful discussions with God on our own knees. We do not all need to hang from a cross. For me Gethsemane makes it more relatable.   

In our own hearts we can all have our own Gethsemanes. I understand THAT.

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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11 minutes ago, Thinking said:

According to James E. Talmage, the suffering of Gethsemane returned while Jesus was on the cross.

Emphasis mine.

If the suffering from Gethsemane returned and was more intense, maybe the cross was more important than Gethsemane. Who knows? Does it really matter? This need to place Gethsemane above the cross fascinates me.

The need for separating the atonement into two parts is fascinating.  We speak of the atonement singly, the human need to break it down into component parts seems needless.
The Savior's atoning act began in Gethsemane and ended at Calvary.  Both the taking of sin and the paying of the price are equally important.
Neither is more important.  What's important is the infinite effects throughout all of the world in all ages.
 

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21 hours ago, Ahab said:

The word "God" applies to more people than only our Father in heaven, so perhaps it might do you some good to see things this way:

God, or our kind of being, is everywhere in the sense of being pretty much everywhere across the infinite expanse of the universe.  And we do know everything there is to be known about everything that is knowable.  And we have more power than any other kind of being and a heck of a lot more power than any other kind of being has, including the power to breed or interbreed different kinds of beings and put them/move them wherever we want them to be... whether they live on land or in water or fly high in the skies.

We are totally awesome and more glorious than anything else anywhere else, even in our mortal condition, and our Father in heaven is the absolute epitome of as good and as perfect as an individual person as any kind of being can possibly be.

Oh my gosh, I agree again!

 I do not want to argue with you on anything anymore. I will give you rep points on every post with which  I agree if it matters.

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58 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Oh my gosh, I agree again!

 I do not want to argue with you on anything anymore. I will give you rep points on every post with which  I agree if it matters.

Good, I'm sure we will get along much better if you will just look for an interpretation of what I said or am saying that you can agree with.  And while rep points don't really matter I still like to see people give some to me when they do anyway.

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On 1/18/2021 at 12:08 PM, Stargazer said:

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.

Our daughter's family has been with us for the last two weeks, grandbabies sleeping or trying to sleep downstairs where the computer is located...Oliver just a pressed a key...a more comprehensive reply will need to be later...but thanks for yours!

"And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me."

Mental anguish in the Garden was not less intense than the physical suffering which followed.

 

Edited by 3DOP
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On 1/23/2021 at 5:35 PM, 3DOP said:

Our daughter's family has been with us for the last two weeks, grandbabies sleeping or trying to sleep downstairs where the computer is located...Oliver just a pressed a key...a more comprehensive reply will need to be later...but thanks for yours!

"And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me."

Mental anguish in the Garden was not less intense than the physical suffering which followed.

 

I don't disagree. It happens that LDS believe that his suffering on the cross was only a very small part of the suffering which he had to deal with, and that it wasn't just mental anguish. In connection with the verse you quoted...

Mark 14:33 - "And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;" (emphasis added)

He was "sore amazed" because the anguish was greater than he expected, and it was not just mental.

Luke 22:44 - "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

This seems to say that he was in actual physical pain, not just in anguish in anticipation of being crucified. LDS hold that he was actually shedding blood, not just sweat alone, because the pain was so great.

I know you don't hold LDS scriptures as authoritative, but since I do, I will quote from DC 19:15-19, where the Lord describes how it was:

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.

Just to be clear on what I was saying in my previous post, I feel that Christ was crucified as part of the Atonement (as opposed to any other form of physical torment) in order to provide an open, public, and easy-to-understand demonstration of his suffering. I am quite certain that the pain he began to experience in the Garden, which continued until he said "It is finished" while on the cross, had little to do with his outward suffering, though that outward crucifixion was of course part of it.

Thousands of people were crucified by the Romans. But none of them experienced the level of suffering which Christ suffered - because the bulk of his suffering had nothing to do with the cross, but was put upon him apart from the cross. 

But if all one sees is the suffering of the cross, at least one can understand that his suffering was sore, and not just a mild discomfort and inconvenience.

Edited by Stargazer
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On 1/20/2021 at 7:30 PM, JLHPROF said:

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?

Of course!

But physical death is a part of everyone's life, including that of the lamb.

In the case of the Lamb of God, the giving up of the ghost, as it were, is the culmination of the Atonement, and is not compelled, but is entirely voluntary. Among other things, that is what separates Him from you and I. We die because we must; He died because He willed, just as he suffered because he willed. That is why His glory is greatest when compared to you and I. Having lived a perfect life, he died a perfect death. And it's hard to write mere words to give His condescension it's due. Hosanna to God and the Lamb!

 

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