Monday, June 30, 2008

Satisfying the Intelligences: A False Doctrine

Several of my recent posts have sought to resolve the grace/works debate by approaching the issue in terms of free will and moral agency (Rom. 6,Mark 11: 24, Col. 1: 9). That is, that the souls of man possessed will, but were made free and purchased by the grace and atonement of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2: 5-8, Rom. 3: 24). Without Christ, man could no good on his own and cannot alone, contribute one iota to his own salvation (Eph. 2: 8-9, Rom. 3: 23). However, now by the grace of Christ, men are free and made agents to choose good and evil despite the weaknesses of the flesh and temptations of Satan (John 8: 32-36, Gal. 5: 1, Rom. 8: 2). The results of the Fall are overcome by receiving the Holy Ghost, choosing to receive sanctifying ordinances and covenants with God (1 Cor. 6: 11, 2 Thes. 2: 13, 1 Pet. 1: 2). Through the process of sanctification, the soul of man is filled with a greater degree of the light, grace, spirit, and love of Christ which transforms mankind into a new creature in this world (2 Cor. 5: 17, 1 Jn. 4: 17). Since God has purchased man by the atonement of Christ (Eph. 1: 14, 1 Cor. 6: 20). God expects man to deliver the goods, that is, man is expected to give his whole soul to God and keep nothing back (Matt. 16: 26, Rom. 2: 29, Ezek. 11: 19, Ps. 51: 10, 17, Acts 5: 1-5).

Some Christians believe that matter is corrupt. Therefore, man can only desire evil in his heart and mind. That is why they believe their God is immaterial, without form or body, and completely other. That is also why some Christians reject a literal resurrection. If our spirits became flesh again, then we would also be corrupt.

However, when God created the bodies for Adam and Even and put into them their spirits, God did not make them corrupt. God made them free in the garden to choose between good and evil. However, Adam and Eve harkened unto Satan and partook of the fruit. The consequence of this decision was that they and all their offspring would be cursed, fallen and corrupt. God did not make our bodies corruptible; that was the result of the Fall. But, by the grace and mercy of God, all mankind are redeemed by the atonement of Christ. Without Christ all men would be doomed and consigned to die and become miserable with Satan forever. However, through Christ, we are made free from sin, and are able by the reception of the Holy Ghost through repentance and covenants to sanctify and purify our souls as we surrender our entire wills to God.

When I say, free from sin, I mean, we are now free and empowered by grace alone to choose righteously and be obedient. God does not coerce, force, extort, or manipulate but empowers, entices, and persuades. By the grace of Christ, man is now enabled to serve God and choose obedience; the reward of which is Eternal Life and Exaltation. At some point, heirs of Exaltation will become perfected such that they will no longer have disposition to do evil but do good continually. This is what it means when Christ says He will save us from our sins and not just in our sins. It may take another 1000 years to arrive at perfection, but we are commanded to start on the path of grace and sanctification now and not procrastinate the day of our repentance. Through repentance, receiving ordinances and covenants, and choosing the right, we become witnesses of the grace, power, and love of Christ which empowers every decision. But the decisions are ours to make.

Now, there have been those who have thought along these same lines and asked, "why was the suffering necessary?" I remember hearing this lesson taught twice while growing up in the church and distinctly receiving the impression that what was taught was not correct. On one particular occasion the Sunday School teacher wrote the words "Meat" and "Milk" on the chalkboard and then proceeded to cross out "Milk" and circle "Meat." That was the first clue that I was in for an hour of false doctrine. This teacher then proceeded to paraphrase a talk presented a fireside in Safford, Arizona in April 1977 entitled "the Real Meaning of the Atonement.” by Cleon Skousen. Now, I respect Mr. Skousen and the many inspired books he has written. But just because many things someone has written are inspired, that doesn't mean everything that person has said or done is inspired. And so it is with this particular talk that, while not taught over the pulpit, has been widely distributed in the church.

So, what is the gist of this talk? Skousen asks if Christ paid the price of sin and death, who did he pay? Skousen then says that Christ paid the intelligences that make up nature. That if justice wasn't served that all the intelligences that make up all the atoms of the universe would cry "foul" if one sinner were permitted into heaven and God would cease to be God. My teacher then proceeded to speculate that the atonement was not quantitative but qualitative. That even though Christ did not quantitatively pay for all sins, no entity in the universe was treated more unfairly so if Christ said that His sacrifice satisfied the demands of justice then who were the intelligences of the universe to balk.

Obviously, there are many problems with this theory, many of which are detailed in a link above. And I don't pretend to understand all the ins-and-outs of the atonement myself. The atonement remains very "marvelous" in my eyes. However, an important principle that is missed in this theory is that God is not subservient to nature and justice is not monster that God has to pacify. Perfect justice and mercy reside within God Himself. Justice is God doing exactly what He has said, and mercy is God doing exactly what He has said and what we agreed to in the Heavenly Council before we came to Earth.

Men possess will. Men have given themselves away to sin for nothing. Christ has redeemed us and bought us with a price. So, who is Christ paying? Christ is paying God who is the source of perfect justice and perfect mercy. Also, Christ is paying for each one of us. The scriptures say that each one of us will stand before God and be judged according to our works. In a way we judge ourselves. At the time of the resurrection, the scriptures say we either will have a perfect recollection of all our righteousness or a bright recollection of all our guilt. We will have righteousness restored unto us or wickedness restored unto us again. Our confidence will either wax strong in the presence of God and we will love His appearing, or we will shrink before His majesty and power and fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence (Alma 12: 14). Those of us who accept payment on our behalf and have demonstrated, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, that we have given our whole souls to God will be washed clean and pure in the blood of Christ.


Bryce Haymond said...

This seems to me to be one of those mind boggling concepts and we'll probably never be able to straighten out until we receive more revelation or until Christ is among us.

There appears to be two camps - one is that God is the ultimate authority in the universe, that everything is subservient to Him, even the laws of nature, that He is the author of every correct principle, and that His power is intrinsic in Himself. The other camp is that God must abide by certain laws too, or He would cease to be God, that some laws in the universe are eternal and that He must follow them just as the gods who have gone before Him, and that there are certain correct principles for which He is not the author but is living perfectly, and it is by obedience to these that He has become our God. Or perhaps it is a combination of the two.

I'm not sure if there is any definitive answer at this point.

BRoz said...

I vote for the middle. God as well as the laws of the universe are infinite and eternal. The eternal laws of nature were organized by God for operation in the heavens and on this Earth. Also, the laws of mercy and justice to not exist independent or outside of the intelligence of God. God is One with truth. God is God because He commands full Mastery of the laws of nature. Laws are not limitations but as Christ said, "the truth shall make us free" (John 8:32).

Karen Call said...

Both of the commenters above appear to not understand the difference between right and wrong, between life and death, to believe that God can behave in a manner contrary to love or to eternal Sustainability principles because "he's God" and at the same time, not be subject to his own karma.

FYI: the whole problem with your Atonement hoopla is that you believe that a person can "miraculously" place their sins upon another being, and by killing that being, have the opportunity to repent.

We have evidence from the dead sea scrolls and preserved Aramaic records that Jesus was a Nazarene Essene, a vegetarian, and spent his ministry as animal, plant and people Saviour.

From the Essene New Testament:

Jesus was teaching his disciples in the outer court of the Temple and one of them said unto him, "Master, it is said by the priests that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Can blood offerings take away sin?" Jesus answered, "No blood offering of beast or bird or man can take away sin. For how can the conscience be purged from sin by the shedding of innocent blood? Nay, it will increase the condemnation.... For sins against the Law of God there can be no remission, except by repentance and amendment."

To justify the Atonement is to place a false supernaturalism on God that has never existed and never will exist. God is love. You can not love and kill at the same time.

It is Christ's life that showed the way.

Please read the Essene Gospel of Peace and the original New Testament (not tampered with by political roman emperor and murderer Constantine in 375 A.D. along with other political leaders), the Essene New Testament, in order to know the Truth.

David B said...

Karen- Thank you for your comments. Actually, it is not LDS Doctrine at all that the death of Christ atoned for sin. While most Christians say "Christ died for my sins", LDS do not. LDS say Christ paid for and suffered for sin. LDS understand that the atonement for sin had more to do with the suffering Christ experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane and later on the Cross, but not the dying itself.