Monday, December 16, 2013

Infinite vs. Blood Atonement

Cultural Sensitivity Training
There exist a few people in positions of great global power, influence and governance, who are of the opinion that it is neither politically correct nor culturally sensitive for Christians to claim that Christ is the "only way" to heaven. Some of these globalist elite believe there are many ways to heaven and every religion is as valid as another and all religions should be appreciated. In their opinion, believing your religion is superior disrespects other religions.

However, I would like to explain why Christians are unapologetically correct when we joyfully proclaim that Christ is the only "way, the truth, and the life" and "no man cometh to the Father" except by  Him".  Christianity when practiced correctly is the best and most perfect way to live.  If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't bother calling myself Christian.  Being Christian is not necessarily tied to my ethnic identity. Jesus was a Jew.  I am a Gentile. I am not Christian just because its an ethnic and cultural tradition.  I am Christian because my religion is right and true.

Unfortunately, many of us today have forgotten the lessons of history and the consequences of false religious belief.  The result of not learning the most  basic lessons of history is that we are currently making many of the same mistakes.

Existential Crisis
When individuals are left to themselves to ponder, contemplate, and meditate, we almost immediately experience an existential crisis.  Considering the majesty, power and perfection of the Universe and God who is its creator, compared to our fallen, frail and sinful state; most experience very intense negative emotions.  Mankind also fall into existential crisis when we experience our powerlessness against the forces of nature especially after a catastrophic natural disaster.  Existential crisis can be so unpleasant that many people avoid prayer and meditation and keep their minds preoccupied with endless busy-work, clouded by mind-altering substances, or distracted by recreation and music.

Blood Atonement
Throughout the millenia of human existence, false religion has imposed the false doctrine of blood atonement on the people. For some reason, to appease false gods or ward off natural disaster ancient man has falsely believed that protection, prosperity, safety, and fertility could be achieved be the shedding of blood.  Sometimes blood atonement involved animal sacrifice and many times it involved human sacrifice.  Ancient literature and scripture records these barbaric practices. Throughout ancient history false religions convinced their adherance to sacrifice virgins to their gods or cast infant children into the fire.  

Are we any better today? No. We are not.   I don't think we understand the context of how ancient people thought about their  religion. Ancient Egyptian religion believed in many gods named Horus, Isis, Ra, and Anubis.  What many of us don't realize us that these gods were simply anthropomorphic respresentations of the ideas af safety, prosperity and fertility.  Do you want safety and security? Then we must sacrifice blood to appease the gods of safety and security. For the ancient, the safety and security was the true motivation and not the wooden and stone idols representing these ideals.

Understanding the relationship of ancient polytheism for desires for peace, safety, prosperify and fertility we may realize that mankind continues to believe in the false doctrine of blood atonement even in more modern times. During the Crusades, Catholics in Europe were promised remission of their sins if they went to war, fought, and shed blood to redeem Jerusalem. On the opposite side, Muslims in Spain, North Africa and the Middle East shed the blood of Christian infidels for the blessings of Allah.

American Blood Atonement
Even today, Christians in the United States are practicing the false doctrine of blood atonement.  Isn't our society telling us that if we must go over and fight and shed blood in tbe Middle East in order to be blessed with security, safety, and prosperity?  Haven 't we been told its better to  "fight them over there than fight them over here?"  So instead of fighting a justified defensive war, America, wearing our backwards flag, is fighting multiple unjustified offensive wars.   Although most American's don't claim to worship Horus, Isis, Ra, and Anubis like the Ancient Egyptians, can Christian America claim we are morally superior to  Pagan Egypt fighting our "preemptive" wars for the same promise of safety and prosperity?  Are we any spiritually or ethically better in America defiling our young men and women with a sexualized media that encourages promiscuity before marriage and then conducts millions of abortions to eliminate the resultant unwanted pregnancies?

The Great Satan/The Ugly American
My firend who has been to Afghanistan and Iraq says that pop culture icons like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Brittany Spears and now Miley Cyrus do great damage to America's moral image around the world. Very devoted people of faith look at our pop culture and fear American culture abd secularization will transform their young girls to become like these promiscuous and materialistic pop icons.

Infinite Atonement
True Christianity and the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ is the answer  to the problem of blood atonement.  Christians believe that the Son of God Himself came down to Earth as a man and shed His own blood to make one last and infinite blood atonement for all mankind. Only the blood of God the Son Himself could be infinite.

But the beauty of Christianity is this.  All we have to do is accept the blood of Christ by faith and obedience to His teachings (a return to virtue) and we are promised the peace and prosperity we all seek.  No more animals have to be slaughtered.  No more virgins and infants have to be sacrificed.  No more preemptive wars need to be fought.   The great and last sacrifice of Christ ended  all other sacrifice by the shedding of blood.  But, you can't take the divinity of Christ out of the equation.  If Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, His blood sacrifice cannot be infinite. 

Return to Virtue
But just accepting Christ with your lips alone is not enough. Christ taught "why call me Lord, when ye do not what I say?"  So, a major, integral, indespensible part of accepting Christ's blood also necessitates following His teachings.

Jesus Christ taught and exemplified a life of love and service for all. Christ taught the "golden rule" that says we should not treat others in revenge giving back eye for an eye.  We shouldn't treat others based on "well that's how I was treated"  or even "I judge you the way I judge myself".  How we are supposed to treat one another is how we would want them to treat us if we were in their circumstance.

Christianity is a religion of self-restraint. Christ taught his followers to be human and exercise self mastery and agency  over their natural passions and appetites. Animals don't act but react.  However humans have the power to feel hunger and choose to fast and be offended but choose to fogive.  The power of Humanity is not in the unrestrained expression of our alimalistic natures but in the expression of our human and divine self-restraint, compassion, and self-sacrifice. 

When it comes to preserving safety and prosperity it comes to virtue.  A demoralized population leads to poverty. A population that encourages sex before marriage will have more illegitamacy.  Illegitamacy leads to greater poverty. A population that encourages the abuse of any mind-altering chemical for recreation leads to decreased productive behavior which leads to greater poverty.  Homosexuality also creates poverty later in life because partners may not have children to care for them in their old age.

So, with the problem of poverty, the State steps in to provide welfare which is the business of religion.  State-provided welfare does not address the underlying problems of virtue that gave rise to the poverty.  State welfare checks continue to arrive without any moral rehabilitation. Thus State welfare enables the poor and doesn't really help the poor escape poverty. Enabling the poor in this way by giving  welfare without accountability creates more poverty and not less.  The Democratic State then becomes self-interested in continuing inefficient and ineffective welfare programs that expand a dependent voting block. The State learns to depend on the many dependent voters they know will consistently vote to continue their entitlements.

James teaches that pure Christian religion involves both the administration of welfare and expectation of virtue.  Christian religion in America has fallen down in both areas and must do better to both help our poor as well as ecourage and promote virtuous behavior.  

Religion encourages and reinforces virtuous behavior by accurately defining virtue, teaching its benifits and warning of consequences.  Religion has its members enter into covenants with God and the faith community to keep specific laws of moral behavior and has a mechanism for those who have broken their covenants to voluntarily confess and receive appropriate discipline, counsel and rehabilitation. [Self-harm is the jurisdiction of the church. Harm to others falls under the jurisdiction of the State.] Religion reinforces virtue through weekly ritual that reminds the faith community of their commitment to live a moral, Christ-centered life. The congregation also reinforce moral behavior among themselves through non-judgmental positive peer-pressure and creating a community of mutual safety and trust.

The Lord's Supper
Each week Christian religions participate in a ritual ordinance established by Jesus Christ just before performing the atonement.  Jesus Christ broke bread and passed around a cup to his disciples and told them to eat and drink in remembrance of His body and blood which he was about to lay down and sacrifice for the whole human family. 

LDS sacrament meetings are very reverant occassions. There is never any loud music or jumping and shouting.  The Lord's Supper is a memorial, a perpetual weekly funeral service and a solemn assembly.  Bread and water trays are set at the front of the chapel and covered with a white cloth.  It is made to appear that the actual body of Christ is laying on the sacrament table.  The priests bless and dedicate the bread and water saying that it represents the body and blood of Christ and then the deacons administer the emblems to the congregation.  As the congegation partakea of the emblems we are to be introspective and remember the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, and to recommit ourselves to serve one another and behave virtuously. 

When America awakes from its sleep and returns to its virtuous Christian beginnings; only them will America return to her previous greatness, prosperity and safety.  The US will only then stop being perceived as a global bully rather than the global policeman.  Devout adherants of other faiths will no longer be caused to doubt America's virtue, morality and sincerity to God.  Ultimately, there is no other way to peace and prosperity for America and the world except in and through the sacrifice, example and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Christian Virtue
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 5:11)

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians gives us the basis for Christian virtue.  In addition to Christ's admonishment to "love our neighbor as ourselves" and in effect "do no harm", Paul lists the sins we should avoid so as to not partake of the Lord's Supper unworthily. 

fornicator- total abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity within marriage.
covetous- pay honest tithes and generous offering showing we put God and the welfare of others before ourselves.
idolater- accept the atoning blood and teachings of Jesus Christ
railer- never physically or emotionally abuse others especially spouse and children.
drunkard- prohibition of the recreational use of all mind-altering chemicals. 
extortioner- honest in all our dealings with our fellow man.

What President Brigham Young was teaching in Journal of Discourses was NOT Blood Atonement:

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