Your Monday poll #15



  1. The choices are too narrow. Where is ‘from the beginning to March 10, 2008’?

  2. Both

  3. John Deacon says:

    The options do not suffice, for instance the garden of the resurrection as the crowning event. But it is enactd every day as we know!

  4. Pedants!

    OK, how about, “where did Jesus enact the historical atonement event that made possible the forgiveness of mankind for their sins, past and present?”

  5. Steve Evans says:

    I just said on the cross to stick it to you BRM nuts.

  6. There’s no option for “in the imagination of highly devoted followers, who were anxious to attribute ancient mythology of other faiths to their rabbi of choice.”

  7. Now Nick, there’s no need to get snippy, I hear enough of that over on Fark and other anti-religious forums.

    Seriously though, it really does come down to the very simple fact that while I chose both, I did so only because while I have to question the use of the word Atonement.

    Do you mean the point at which Christ spent hours in prayer, suffering spiritual torment, bleeding and wracked physically because he (as I understand it) felt so weightily the sins and sufferings of other mortals?

    Or do you mean the point at which he overcame physical death and was restored to life, although immortal?

    Or do you mean the point at which it was decided that because of his willingness to do these things, live out a life free from sin, and to give an example to mortal humans, that we would be given not only immortal life but also an opportunity to overcome our imperfections and be raised into exaltation as well?

    Because all three, at some level, are acceptable definitions of ‘The Atonement’, and ocurred at very different points (although I won’t say ‘points in time’, because that indicates something that is I do not feel is correct, since the last two probably did not happen in time at all). Now, the first definition happened within the Garden, but the other two happened at undisclosed locations. The second had evidence of its ocurrence in and aroudn Jerusalem, but the actual event did not actually happen on the cross. He merely died there. Nothing more.

    In fact, as near as I can tell, the only thing that happened on the cross is that Christ made a conscious decision to relinquish his mortal condition, a power that none of us have, and is thus integral to the Atonement, which is why ‘both’ might be a valid answer, but otherwise the events on the cross are only significant in that they can teach us about the treatment of other humans even in the most dire of circumstances.

  8. I don’t even know what “Fark” is, ben o.

  9. By golly, I was taught the Garden in church and I will stick to it.

  10. Nick,

    I’m not sure what you mean by imagination. Are you saying that there was no “atonement” done by the Savior? That someone imagined it occurring?

  11. I agree with #1. I need an “It’s ongoing” as a choice.

  12. Steve Evans says:

    Dan, Nick’s no longer Mormon or Christian, so he is viewing the entire event through the lens of his new faith.

  13. Steve’s right, I don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth carried out what christianity calls an “atonement.” Your mileage may differ, Dan, and that’s okay. :-)

  14. #9 Meems – I’ve met many Mormons who have been taught that too, so how is it Jesus doesn’t say “It is finished” until he’s about to die on the cross? Surely that makes the atonement encompassing of Gethsemane and the cross.

    I think we’re generally too cross-phobic, so the cross is de-emphasised.

  15. Nick,

    I knew you were not a practicing Mormon, but I didn’t know the reach of your disbelief in Mormon doctrine. So forgive me.

  16. My take on the atonement timetable: The suffering in the garden was primarily to pay for our sins while the death on the cross was part of overcoming death. Christ did not actually overcome death until his resurrection, so the atonement wasn’t complete until Christ’s resurrection when he overcame death.

  17. Nick,

    Frequent bloggernacle lurker, infrequent poster. Can I make a subjective observation and ask a favor?

    I used to enjoy your posts a lot more several months ago. I didn’t agree with them all the time, but there was often some kind of thought-provoking perspective in them. I used to count you among the ex-Mo’s who at least had something constructive to say.

    Am I mistaken, or has the tone of your posts around the Bloggernacle been gravitating toward a more bitter tone and to the standard atheist tropes? Surely, you couldn’t have thought your #6 comment was going to enrich the level of discussion in this particular forum?

    I don’t know you, but are you quickly becoming one of those ex-Mo’s who gradually forgets the thoughts, hopes and motivations of an average member, losing the ability to communicate with us in a meaningful way. For the time being, Nick, I’m sorry, but it’s been a while since one of your posts has given me much to chew on. That a loss for those of us who enjoy hearing thoughtful perspectives from other viewpoints.

    Sorry for the threadjack.

  18. The Atonement is infinite. It has neither a beginning, nor an end.

    It is endless, and all inclusive.

    Therefore, I would think the answer would be that we cannot comprehend the “time-table” of the atonement, given our limited perception of time.

  19. re 9 and 15

    While the emphasis was on the garden, I always got taught in SS and seminary, institute etc that is was in both places and everything in between the two places. Did no one else hear that growing up?

  20. by 15 I mean 14

  21. I agree that we may have become a little too cross-phobic. And I’m a little troubled by some of the postings above that seem to minimize the role of Jesus Christ giving his life – as if it were some incidental part of the plan. When I take the sacrament, I’m thinking of a certain place, and that place is on a hill, not in a garden.

    “There is a green hill far away,
    Without a city wall,
    Where the dear Lord was crucified,
    Who died to save us all.”
    (Hymns, No. 194)

  22. #17:
    Thanks for your comments, Lorin. To clarify, I would not particularly consider myself an atheist. It is true, on the other hand, that I do not believe the spiritual (or most of the historical) claims of christianity.

    My comment was not intended to be bitter, but rather to point out that an additional answer to the question is quite possible. Those who have followed these “Monday polls” know that nearly every time, there are viewpoints (even faithful LDS viewpoints) which are not reflected in the choices given.

  23. Nick (21),
    Every poll I’ve seen taken has ‘viewpoints which are not reflected in the choices given.’ It’s sort of the problem with polling.

    BTW, I didn’t think your comment was particularly bitter. You could have said delusion or mirage or hallucination. Imagination is a pretty mellow choice really.

  24. Peter LLC says:

    Crosses are like chainsaws, drunk drivers, and nooses–who wants one around their neck?

  25. Also interesting to note on the new church website dedicated to Jesus Christ, the talk they have chosen about the Atonement is one by Elder Holland. He says:

    The utter loneliness and excruciating pain of the Atonement begun in Gethsemane reached its zenith when, after unspeakable abuse at the hands of Roman soldiers and others, Christ cried from the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the depths of that anguish, even nature itself convulsed. “There was a darkness over all the earth. … And the sun was darkened.” “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent,” causing many to exclaim, “The God of nature suffers.” Finally, even the seemingly unbearable had been borne, and Jesus said, “It is finished.”, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

    By this account, I think we can say “both” from the poll.

  26. When most people say the Atonement, they think of the suffering in the garden and on the cross. I think that in general terms it also applies to the resurrection as well. As pointed out by another poster, the atonement has many different meanings, but Ronan was quick to clarify his point in post #4. As such I believe that both the garden and the cross played an important role. How that all worked out, I don’t know. I think that we are more generally inclined as a people to minimize both grace and the cross, perhaps as a means to distinguish ourselves. I don’t think that we should overreact and minimize the garden or works (to carry forward with the comparison), but that we shouldn’t downplay either. God never does anything in vain. If it weren’t necessary to the atonement, I don’t see why Jesus would have had to suffer both in the garden and on the cross.

  27. Peter – I do. I have a beautiful, small cross that Ronan bought me from Jerusalem. I wear it often. I’m wearing it today actually. It’s a tangible reminder of Christ for me. It’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly not equivalent to a noose!

  28. My seminary teacher said that the reason the LDS church doesn’t make a huge whoop-de-do about crosses is because the atonement actually took place in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    And we all know that seminary teachers know everything:D

  29. Rebecca,
    I think ol’ Korean Embassy Boy is taking the mick.

  30. I had this discussion a few years ago, and in researching the question discovered that the Church has said “both” for some time now, at least. (I didn’t go back more than 30 years or so, so I can’t tell you if this represents any shift in emphasis or return to JS’ thought or antyhing along those lines.)

    President Hinckley and the current missionary manual both say “both.”

  31. I think the final judgement will tie in to the atonement as well.

  32. Nick, Fark is an irreverent, and frequently entertaining, news aggregator.

  33. The reason why we don’t really care much for the cross is because the cross is a symbol of the Savior’s death. Whereas we believe he is resurrected and glorified. What would we rather worship? The dead or the living?

    The completion of the atonement came with the resurrection of Christ.

  34. What would we rather worship? The dead or the living?

    Sorry Dan, but this is lame anti-cross Mormon apologia. Read the sacrament hymns some time and note that virtually every one uses the symbol of the cross.

    And (treading lightly here) what is the most sacred symbol offered in the temple?

  35. If we don’t care much for the cross, why do we often spend so much time recounting exactly what happened there? Why get so frequently explicit about the nails and the thorny crown and the blood and the whip and scourging and the spear?

    I think we worship the savior’s death and pain (and we should) as much as we do his resurrection, but we downplay the cross as a way to distance and distinguish ourselves from our Protestant and Catholic friends.

  36. Of course, you are right Rebecca (and amri and others). I was giving my sunday school answer. Truthfully, I am but a simpleton who has always just considered the suffering in the Garden as the “atonement” and the crucifixion as a separate sacrifice – more of a culmination of political events. I agree that it has to be both and then some

  37. So Ronan, I suppose you are assuming a penal substitution atonement in this poll then? (I don’t buy penal substitution theory so I guess I need a N/A choice…)

  38. Actually, Geoffrey, I’m an Empathy Model guy myself, which is why I voted for Bethlehem to Golgotha…

  39. I voted for the Bethlehem to Golgotha as well. I think the scriptures support my belief that each of Christ’s mortal experiences contributed to the Atonment, including and especially his temptations in the wilderness after his baptism.

  40. Ronan,

    Sorry Dan, but this is lame anti-cross Mormon apologia.

    But that was the lame anti-cross Mormon apologia that President Gordon B. Hinckley has used on numerous occasions.

    I think it takes a lot to break a vast culture as Christianity out of the habit of worshiping the cross. Especially given that it has worshiped the cross for nearly 1700 years now. That’s a REALLY really really long time to harden the culture around the cross.

  41. The problem is Dan that a cross isn’t a symbol of His death – a crucufix is, but an empty cross is a symbol of the resurrection.

  42. cassianus says:

    I voted for the cross because that is what the New Testament itself is always pointing us toward.

  43. True, Rebecca, but we need not even go that far to see that Mormons are applying rules differently here: we were sealed across an altar in the temple with the symbol of the crucifixion joining us. That’s all I need to say about that.

    The cross/crucifix aversion and the pseudo-doctrine surrounding it (btw, not authored by President Hinckley, Dan) exists solely to explain why we do not have crosses on our churches, the reason for which has far more to do with our iconoclastic, non-conformist cultural origins than any actual doctrine.

    Dan, I do take your point about worshiping the cross though. I hope you similarly disdain all icons used by Mormons. And in case you’re inclined to suggest that we do not worship our symbols, please note that Christians do not claim to worship the cross either.

  44. The lack of crosses in LDS worship may be much less theological than some think. Many early LDS came from congregationalist and similar backgrounds. If you travel New England, you’ll find that the early 19th century churches of this type don’t have crosses on their buildings. Rather, they often have tower/spire of sorts with four “points” upward from it, almost reminiscent of the Salt Lake Temple architecture.

  45. Or a symbol of torture devices. I think a better symbol for the resurrection is the empty tomb and not the empty cross. After all the cross was emptied when they pulled out the nails and drug the body away so that it could be treated by those who loved him. Christ didn’t arise from the cross but the grave.

  46. Nick, I agree. There’s this weird combination in early Mormonism. First there was a kind of anti-symbolism and then a rebirth of a focus on symbols but with new symbols or other non-protestant symbols coming up.

  47. Regarding the cross (not crucufix) I posted on it a while ago. All our objections to it as a symbol are after-the-fact rationalizations, in my understanding. It’s just something we inherited from JS’ environment.

  48. Or a symbol of torture devices.

    Come now, Clark. As long as Mormons sacralise Is 22:23, this talk of torture is rubbish.

  49. Ronan,

    Dan, I do take your point about worshiping the cross though. I hope you similarly disdain all icons used by Mormons.

    Clearly. I don’t find much use for icons, but that’s just me. I am a non-traditionist.

    The cross/crucifix aversion and the pseudo-doctrine surrounding it (btw, not authored by President Hinckley, Dan)

    I didn’t mean to imply that he authored it, but more that he used that phrasing to describe why we don’t focus on the crucifixion.

  50. Peter LLC says:

    I think [das Mädchen für alles] is taking the mick.


    The Good Book (PMG) says: “The Atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, and it ended with His Resurrection” and “This triumph of Jesus Christ over spiritual death by His suffering and over physical death by his Resurrection is called the Atonement.”

    Now I’m wondering why Resurrection gets a capital ‘R’ while suffering retains its small ‘s.’

  51. Sorry. PMG?

  52. Joshua Madson says:

    I think the minute we abandon the penal-substitution model we have to see the atonement as encompassing his whole life including resurrection. Even under a satisfaction or penal substitution model we cant have the garden without the cross or the cross loses all meaning.

  53. #50 PMG I just figured it out. I feel really stupid.

  54. Given the choices, I voted for the last one – Bethlehem to Golgotha.

    Personally, I see it as a series of fulfilled commitments – in the pre-existence, the Garden, the establishment of a covenant relationship, a birth, an exemplary life, suffering in a garden, further suffering from the trial to the cross, the victory over suffering in the resurrection, the appearances to “other sheep”, inspiration throughout the following centuries, a visitation in a grove, and continuing clarification and revelation. I believe “The Atonement” will end when the last of God’s children become “joint-heir(s) with Christ” and “the great Jehovah declares the work is done”.

    I understand the various usages of the term that focus on what I consider to be *aspects of* or *events within* the Atonement, but, given the way the word is defined, I include all events that I believe contribute to the overall goal of becoming at one with God.

  55. That seems a bit over-broad Ray. If such a widely-used term as the Atonement is going to mean anything, it has to be more narrowly defined than encompassing the entire plan of salvation from pre-existence to judgment. Can’t you be a little bit of a conformist once in a while, just so we all know that we’re talking about the same thing when we say “the Atonement?”

  56. #55 – I know full well what most members mean when they say “the Atonement” (at least by narrowing it to the choices at the beginning of this post). I just see most of the mission of “God” (as defined in Moses 1:39) as making us into gods – bringing us into a unity – making us “at one” with God.

    For instance, the suffering in the Garden and on the cross would not have had eternal efficacy without the perfect example of the life. Iow, the vicarious actions in the Garden and on the cross that made it possible to be forgiven and become like God opened the path for us to follow the example of the life He lived – to actuate the Beatitudes, for example, fully develop godlike characteristics and truly become like God. Without either one, the other is useless – and we are not “at one” with God.

    I know I am stretching the standard meaning of the word, but I think I am stretching it to more accurately reflect the core meaning of the word itself and place proper emphasis on the example we are supposed to emulate in order to become “Christ-like” and godly. It gives it more power in my mind and encapsulates better what Jesus actually did for us. In summary, the suffering in the Garden and at Golgotha didn’t make us “at one”; it opened the door to that possibility. Becoming “at one” requires obedience to commandments and development of godly characteristics, which he gave to us *outside the Garden and off of the cross*.

    I’m fine if others stick with the standard meaning; this is a poll about our own personal perceptions. :-)

  57. MCQ,

    I agree with Ray here. If one needs a more specific term, “the atonement of Christ” or even better “the earthly atonement of Jesus Christ” will do.

    The idea that “the Atonement” (or “the Reconcilation”) is limited to three days or three hours doesn’t make any sense. Until the last sinner is reconciled to God that can be, the Atonement is not done, even if Christ’s sacrifice is over and done with (which I rather doubt).

  58. In opening the door of my heart.

    The atonement is not an external event,
    but internal and individual.

  59. I, too, agree with Ron and Mark. The Atonement is the penultimate act of a universe of being and time. Evidence of it is found in the Council in Heaven; in Enoch’s vision of the heavens weeping over those lost in the Flood; the Law and the Prophets; and countless other events and references. It cannot be limited to place and time.

  60. Arrgg! I meant I agree with Ray and Mark. Sorry, Ray.

%d bloggers like this: