Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction


September 21st, 2010 by Vader

When it comes to the Atonement, all are suspect.  

The Atonement is almost completely unlike a father choosing to let his very young son be pureed by an oncoming express train rather than let loose a bridge locking mechanism and send the train’s passengers to their deaths. Both scenarios involve a father permitting a son to die to save many; that’s about the only point of contact, and it is overwhelmed by the false notes.The Atonement was not an accident; it was planned all along. The saved are not oblivious to the fact of being saved; it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. Christ did not innocently stumble into the Garden of Gethsemane; he went there full knowing what awaited him, and at whose hand.

The Atonoment is not much like an older boy taking a younger boy’s whipping because the younger boy stole out of hunger. There was no question of our being able to take the whipping ourselves. And it is not our acts of desperation that condemn us; it is the malice that worms its way into our hearts, every one of us, when we reach that level of mental development where we can discern good from evil.

The Atonement is not really like a lenient lender buying up toxic securities. We will never pay back the debt, not even on the most generous of terms. Truth is, we never had any intention of honoring the debt, blind as we made ourselves to the true consequences of spiritual bankruptcy.

The Atonement is not even that much like a volunteer taking the condemned man’s place on the scaffold. Even human law recognized the injustice of a surrogate execution: “Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.” Many an atheist has mocked the justice of God in accepting a surrogate.

And yet we have no way to approach the Atonement except by analogy. All of these analogies, even the first (in a mean unsatisfactory way) reflect some true aspect of the Atonement.

I believe in the Atonement, not because I understand it, but because it rings true. I need know nothing about music theory to be awed every time I listen to Messiah, or the B Minor Mass, or the final movements of Elijah.

Which is not to say that some knowledge of music doesn’t help. Whoops, there’s another pesky analogy …

Comments (4)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , ,
September 21st, 2010 23:21:31

Adam G.
September 22, 2010

Well said. I offered an approach to understanding the salvation Christ worked for us recently, but at best I described the elephant’s trunk.

The Only True and Living Nathan
September 22, 2010

Now that I sit on the stand, I need to cultivate self-control, or the next time that someone invokes that thrice-damned train switch story, I might let a string of expletives fly.

September 22, 2010

You should give your congregation fair warning. And new members who move into your ward:

“Welcome, Brother Murgatroyd. We’re delighted to have you in the ward, and, in keeping with longstanding custom, we’d like your family to speak in Sacrament Meeting next Sunday. Feel free to tell us a little about yourself, but don’t get too far off the assigned topic, which is the Atonement of Christ. Oh, and Brother Nathan here will let loose with a string of expletives if any of your talks discuss the salsification of little children. We’d like to avoid that if possible.”

The Only True and Living Nathan
September 24, 2010

I’ve already told them that I really don’t like talks that begin with how badly the speaker doesn’t want to be speaking. I’ll probably have to let that settle a while before my next dictum.

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