Without safety ropes, harnesses, or climbing gear of any kind, two brothers—Jimmy, age 14, and John, age 19 (though those aren’t their real names)—attempted to scale a sheer canyon wall in Snow Canyon State Park in my native southern Utah. Near the top of their laborious climb, they discovered that a protruding ledge denied them their final few feet of ascent. They could not get over it, but neither could they now retreat from it. They were stranded. After careful maneuvering, John found enough footing to boost his younger brother to safety on top of the ledge. But there was no way to lift himself. The more he strained to find finger or foot leverage, the more his muscles began to cramp. Panic started to sweep over him, and he began to fear for his life.
Unable to hold on much longer, John decided his only option was to try to jump vertically in an effort to grab the top of the overhanging ledge. If successful, he might, by his considerable arm strength, pull himself to safety.
What happened with the Atonement of Christ has proved to be a controversial topic over the past two thousand years. The situation is, for many or most Christians, that while Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection is known to be the central fact; a satisfactory and satisfying explanation of the Atonement is something each person may have-to sort-out for himself.
Here is a framework.
1. Establish God’s ultimate aim and hope for Man – What does God want Man to become?
2. Christians know that Jesus Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection was – in some way – essential to the fulfilment of that hope.
3. So, the explanation of what exactly Christ’s Atonement was, and how it worked; must be provided with reference to God’s ultimate aim for Man, and Christ’s essential contribution to the achievement of that aim.
Did he also experience all the small acts of kindness, and service, where people went out of their way to “lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees”? Did he experience the joy that the lonely feel when one reaches out to them to let them know they matter and are cared about? Did he feel the hope restored when we visit someone who is sick or in prison and cheered their hearts? Did he feel the relief of the overwhelmed when someone paused to share their burden with them? Did he feel the relief we feel when someone forgives us of our screwups and mistakes, or when someone shows us undeserved mercy?
-thus Jon Goff. Read the whole thing.
The fear of change is the fear of death. They are not similar fears; they are the same fear, only manifested in different circumstances. (more…)
Reading a Catholic priest’s sermon here, I ran across this interesting point. Both aspects of the atonement, in the garden and on the cross, took place outside the walls of Jerusalem. That is, symbolically, outside the domain of order and civilization, and in the domain of chaos and disorder. In other words, in both, Christ put himself in Satan’s power. The sermoner doesn’t realize, of course, that Gethsemane was part of the atonement, but that makes his argument all the stronger. (more…)
Repentance is recognizing reality
–from Bruce Charlton (paraphrased)
One thing that quote means (not the only thing) is this: the reality is that sin is really bad. Sinful, in fact. Not least among the ways Christ made repentance possible through the atonement is simply by showing in his person how serious sin is. Sin required the Son of God to suffer. The human character is mostly incapable of taking a transgression seriously if it can simply be waved off.
As Man is, God once was.
As God is, Man may be.
There is lots of scriptural support for the second half of Lorenzo Snow’s couplet. There is little support for the first half, the way President Snow meant it.
There are alternate meanings, though. The couplet is quasi-scriptural. Scripture usually has more than one layer of meaning. (more…)
What do people collectively want? It’s hard to say. Voting gives you one kind of answer, but voting isn’t nuanced. Voters can only say yes or no to ballot questions as phrased and as they understand them. It’s possible that with more explanation they might feel differently, or with even slightly different phrasing they choose the other option. Or else they can only select between candidates. Different voting systems give different answers. Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem says that no voting system can ever perfectly capture voter intent. Polls are even more fallible.
That’s where the concept of the General Will comes in. What if someone knew the people well enough to have an intuitive, almost literary, sense of what they wanted? That’s why dictatorships claim to be democracies. They say they’re giving the nation what it really, collectively, wants.
The reason it’s hard to know what voters want is because it’s hard to know what a voter wants. Individuals are something like a collection of people over time. No man can step in the same river twice, the Greek said, because it’s never the same man. The mind is always engaged in editing memory to fit the needs of the present, which it wouldn’t need to do if we were really fully the same throughout, if we always had the same end in view. (more…)
Mormon Christianity has a lot of odd little teachings that don’t seem to add up to anything at first glance. Resurrected beings have bodies of flesh and blood. Heaven has three main degrees. Satan rules over the water. And Christ atoned twice, first in the Garden, second on the cross. (more…)
The presence of God is eternity. (more…)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: all things before my face, atonement, eternity, Jesus Christ, LDS, Mormon, Mormonism, quotation and aphorism
Bruce Charlton is thinking deeply about the Atonement. He is working out alternatives to the customary belief that Christ took on the punitive consequences of sin for us and to the customary liberal notion that the atonement was fundamentally an act of symbolic engineering to excise our retrograde belief in sin and guilt. Charlton thinks he’s found one. (more…)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: all things before my face, atonement, Bruce Charlton, Jesus Christ, LDS, memory and experience, Mormon, Mormonism, repentance
Bruce Charlton has a wonderful post on the paradox of Christianity–how Christ converts the news that we are sinful failures into good news, because it means we are destined for something better than our current selves.
Our Cub Scouts went caroling to an old folks home. The elderly people there were moved. It is remarkable, the power we have to affect each other. (more…)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: atonement, child, children, choice and accountability, Christ, fathers, LDS, love, Mormon, Mormonism, parents, we are Mary