Thursday, 17 June 2021

Mormonism and the Atonement (part 3)

 



I had a food stain on my shirt. My wife said something she thought rather funny: ‘How could you miss a mouth that big?’

I didn’t laugh, but rather I was perturbed that I now had a bright red stain on my new white shirt. My wife reassured me that she had a stain remover that can eradicate any blemish. Hearing this made me feel better, and less concerned when I missed my huge mouth for the second time. And she was right, once the stain remover was rubbed into the stains they vanished.

The Bible teaches us that we are all ‘stained’ with sin, but the good news is there is a ‘stain’ remover. Through His blood shed on the cross of Calvary, Jesus removed the stain of sin so that we, who have repented of our sin and put our hope in him, are now without blemish. What good news! But some may ask, can Jesus remove every stain? The Bible says yes:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

1 John 1:7

But, as is often the case, that which the Bible teaches is flatly denied by the cults.

Thus saith the Prophet

The current teaching within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would agree that the blood atonement of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cleanse from all sin, but how does this square with its past teachings?

Jospeh Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration, taught that there were certain sins beyond the reach of the atoning work of Christ; he reckoned that a person’s own blood needed to be shed to atone for some personal iniquities. He taught that the shed blood of the guilty sinner would rise up and be acceptable to God, allowing the now deceased person to continue a path towards the Kingdom of God.

I [am] opposed to hanging, even if a man kill another, I will shoot him, or cut off his head, spill his blood on the ground, and let the smoke thereof ascend up to God; and if ever I have the privilege of making a law on that subject, I will have it so.[1]

The idea that certain sins were so heinous that a person had to atone with their own blood, was not only taught by Joseph Smith, but the baton was picked up, and run with, by followers and future leaders alike.

Thus sayeth the next Prophet

Jedidiah M. Grant, a leader and apostle in the LDS church, who served under the second President, Brigham Young said:

“We would not kill a man, of course, unless we killed him to save him…”[2]

He later when on to say that which is recorded for us in the Journal of Discourses:

“Some have received the Priesthood and a knowledge of the things of God, and still they dishonor the cause of truth…I say, that there are men and women that I would advise to go to the President immediately, and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to their case; and then let a place be selected, and let that committee shed their blood. We have those amongst us that are full of all manner of abominations, those who need to have their blood shed, for water will not do, their sins are of too deep a dye.”[3]

Brigham Young, the second President of the LDS church, had perhaps the most to say on the topic of Blood Atonement. He clearly taught that the blood of Christ was insufficient for the forgiveness of sin. Speaking of those who killed Jospeh Smith, Young said:

“I will tell you how much I love those characters. If they had any respect to their own welfare, they would come forth and say, whether Joseph Smith was a Prophet or not, ‘We shed his blood, and now let us atone for it;' and they would be willing to have their heads chopped off, that their blood might run upon the ground, and the smoke of it rise before the Lord as an incense for their sins.”[4]

But it wasn’t only those who slayed the prophet that must atone for their sin, any Mormon who violates the covenants of the Church must also do likewise:

“There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man and woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants.”[5]

Young’s conviction that any Mormon who knowingly broke Latter-day Saint covenants, needed then to pay their own sin debt, prompted him to offer up an illustration of how that might play out if one of their members was caught in the act of breaking the marriage covenant:

“Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them. You would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the Kingdom of God. I would at once do so, in such a case; and under the circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands…. There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it.”[6]

There is great irony here of course. It is said that Brigham Young had at least 55 wives, some of whom were still married to other men. Who was it that said: ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’?

It’s all in the past…or is it?

Of course, many modern Mormons will claim that blood atonement is not something they now believe in, nor teach, whilst others may claim that the Church never taught it at all. The fact that blood atonement still lies within the Mormon psyche is evident from the following:

“In the past decade, potential jurors in every Utah capital homicide were asked whether they believed in the Mormon concept of ‘blood atonement.'”[7]

Like many cultic groups, the paper trail and historical witness accounts left behind mitigates denial. One such witness to the teaching of blood atonement was John D. Lee.

John D. Lee was Brigham Young’s adopted son, and here we have his words from the John D. Lee Diaries:

“The Mormons believe in blood atonement. It is taught by the leaders, and believed by the people, that the Priesthood are inspired and cannot give a wrong order. It is the belief of all that I ever heard talk of these things – and I have been with the Church since the dark days in Jackson County – that the authority that orders is the only responsible party and the Danite who does the killing only an instrument, and commits no wrong.... Punishment by death is the penalty for refusing to obey the orders of the Priesthood. I knew of many men being killed in Nauvoo by the Danites. It was then the rule that all the enemies of the Prophet Joseph should be killed, and I know of many a man who was quietly put out of the way by the orders of Joseph and his apostles while the Church was there. It has always been a well understood doctrine of the Church that it is right and praiseworthy to kill every person who speaks evil of the Prophet. This doctrine was strictly lived up to in Utah...”

Jesus is Enough.

The notion that the atoning work of Christ is insufficient for the forgiveness of sin is widespread in faux Christianity. Jesus is never enough to any of these groups and the Jesus of Mormonism is clearly deficient in his ability to atone for sin.

How wonderful is the reality! That in Jesus we can be forgiven of all sin.

“If we confess our sins, .He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

Jesus is sufficient. Jesus is enough. He is our stain remover!

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  Hebrews 9:14



[1] Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 5, p. 296, 1949

[2] Deseret News –Jedediah M. Grant, July 27, 1854

[3] Journal of Discourses 4:49-50: Jedidiah Morgan Grant, Salt Lake City, September 21, 1856

[4] Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 2, p. 179, February 18, 1855

[5] Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 385

[6] Journal of Discourses 1:108: Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, May 8, 1853

[7] Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 5, 1994, p. D1

 


Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Watchtower Quiz: Are There Contradictions in the Bible?



In my last Watchtower Wednesday I pointed to an article on the Watchtower website in which they address this question of Bible accuracy. They offer seven principles by which to test the accuracy of a Bible translation. We will look at how the New World Translation, and Watchtower Society itself, stands up when put to their own test.


1. Context

Any author can appear to contradict himself if his words are taken out of context.’

You may know that Jehovah’s Witnesses insist Jehovah has an organisation. Yet Charles Russell solemnly warns his Bible students:

Beware of ‘organization.’ It is wholly unnecessary. The bible rules will be the onlyrules you will need. Do not seek to bind others’ consciences...and do not permit others to bind yours. Believe and obey as far as you can understand God’s Word today…’ (Watchtower, Sept.15, 1892, p.216)

...it is plain that the forming of a visible organisation of such gathered out ones would be out of harmony with the spirit of the divine plan…’ (Watchtower, Dec.1, 1894, p.384)

What context would make Russell mean the opposite of what he is saying here? He is, of course, contradicting the later Society that is obsessed with organisation and the type of control Russell warns against.


2. Viewpoint

Eyewitnesses might describe an event accurately but not use the exact same wording or include the same details.’

Is it just viewpoint that explains why the Watchtower Society originally taught that the ‘higher authorities’ of Ro.13:1 were the secular governments then, in Jehovah Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, 1959 [page 91], insisted those higher powers were God and Jesus only.

Then, in Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, pages 146-147 under the heading The Light Shines More and More they return to the original doctrine, even citing the earlier adjustment.

They didn’t point out that they were going back to the original teaching, but simply insisted this was an example of ‘progressive understanding.’ Are they simply saying the same thing but different simply because of the wording? Of course, they are changing their minds, being blown about by every wind of doctrine (Eph.4:14)


3. Historical Facts and Customs

Take into account historical facts and customs.’

1975! The Watchtower predicted the end of ‘this system of things’ in 1975. ‘STAY ALIVE TILL 75’ was the watchword for the Watchtower. This is an historical fact and the evidence is overwhelming. Faithful Witnesses delayed marrying, starting families, planning for the future in anticipation of this date that came...and went. In a Watchtower of March 15, 1980 the Society danced around the unfortunate confusion between ‘possibility’ and ‘probability,’ saying:

Unfortunately...along with...cautionary information, there were other statements published that implied that such realization of hopes by that year (1975) was more of a probability than a mere possibility.’

Who published those confident statements on the basis of which people rearranged their whole life plans to fit in with Jehovah’s plan? We all know the answer to that question.

4. Figurative and Literal

Distinguish between the figurative and the literal uses of a word.’

This is a good place to look at the 144,000 (Rev.7). The Society takes literally the text about the 144,000, making an unsupportable link with the ‘little flock’ of Luke 12:32. This link is snatched from thin air. Traditional church thinking is that the 144,000 are figurative of either the Israelites to be saved at the last day, or of the church as the Israel of God, comprising all peoples (Gal.3:28).

The Jehovah’s Witnesses make this number literal, comprising special anointed ones destined to rule from heaven with Christ. The great crowd later in Rev.7 and literally described as ‘standing before the throne and before the lamb’ they insist are only figuratively before the throne, only ‘within sight’ of the throne. It is not at all clear by what criteria they make this literal/figurative judgement unless it is to fit their preconceptions.

We do know Rev.7:15 clearly states this multitude ‘serve him day and night in his temple, or sanctuary,’ therefore they must be in heaven. Further, Rev.19:1 clearly describes a ‘great multitude in heaven.’ A good dictionary might come in handy to help the Society understand literal and figurative.

5. Attribution of Action

Recognize that an action may be attributed to someone—even if he did not personally carry it out.’

The Bible clearly attributes the creation to Jesus (John 1:3; Col.1:16) yet Genesis tells us ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ God created everything, Jesus created everything. If Jesus created everything, how can God have created everything?

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.’ (1 Cor.8:6, ESV)

...there is actually to us one God, the Father, from whom all things are and we for him, and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and we through him.’ (NWT)

God is the source, Jesus the dynamic, through both all things came into existence.

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.’ Heb.2:10)

In the same way, God is the source and Jesus the dynamic of our salvation, our new creation and adoption as sons of God. Both are equally, in both instances, responsible for creation and recreation. What does this make Jesus?

6. Accuracy

Use an accurate Bible translation.’

The New World Translation is the first complete translation designed specifically to support and agree with the Watchtower doctrine (see dogma below). The result is the indefensible introduction of the name Jehovah into the New Testament.

Theologian William Barclay concluded that "the deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in the New Testament translation... It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest."

Dr. J R. Mantey, co-author of the highly acclaimed Manual Greek Grammar of the Greek New Testament along with H. E. Dana, has made this comment in response to a question,

I would advise him to get a translation other than the NWT, because ninety-nine percent of the scholars of the world who know Greek and who have helped translate the Bible are in disagreement with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. People who are looking for the truth ought to know what the majority of the scholars really believe. They should not allow themselves to be misled by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.’

It has been estimated that as much as 20 percent of the NWT is seriously inaccurate. See more here.

7. Dogma

Avoid trying to reconcile what the Bible says with mistaken religious ideas or dogma.'

Where to start? Let’s pick just one JW dogma. Jehovah’s Witnesses are Unitarians, and perhaps we can respect that, although we profoundly disagree. However, they break their own rule on this issue all over the Bible. They add the word ‘other’ to Colossians 1:16 to make Jesus a created being instead of the one who created everything (cf John 1:3).

They add ‘a’ to John 1:1 to make Jesus less than ‘Almighty God,’ making Jesus ‘a god.’ In Zechariah 12:10 they completely mistranslate part of the text to make sure God isn’t ‘the one whom they have pierced,’ as the text plainly states.

Their Bible is dogma-driven through and through.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Mormonism and the Atonement (Part 2)

 


And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.    LUKE 22:44

 

“GREATEST SUFFERING WAS IN GETHSEMANE. We speak of the passion of Jesus Christ. A great many people have an idea that when he was on the cross, and nails were driven into his hands and feet, that was his great suffering. His great suffering was before he ever was placed upon the cross. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that the blood oozed from the pores of his body: ‘Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.’ That was not when he was on the cross; that was in the garden. That is where he bled from every pore in his body”[1]

 

Peculiar to Mormonism is the idea that Jesus atoned for the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane. Though espoused by many Mormon leaders, this is not what the Bible teaches.

Throughout the New Testament it is the death of the Christ that is stressed.

 

Romans 5:10- For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

 

Hebrews 9:22 states that without the shedding (not sweating) of blood, there is no remission of sins.

 

The Apostle Paul, writing to the believers at Corinth said:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-4


The Apostle Peter wrote that:

He (Jesus)himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

According to the Bible, Jesus did not atone for the sin of the world through perspiration (through sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane) but through expiration (he died).


THE CROSS

The Garden of Gethsemane is only mentioned by name twice (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32) and it is never spoken of as playing a role in the atonement. Rather, it is the cross that is stressed.

 

Galatians 6:14- “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

 

Philippians 2:8- “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”


It was on the cross that Jesus was inaugurating the New Covenant and it was in his dying, that he was following the pattern for forgiveness of sin as laid out in the Old Testament. Under the Old Covenant redemption was made through ceremonial sacrifice. Atonement for sin was made via the death of an innocent substitute. This substitute would give its life, to pay the penalty of sin.




[1] (Joseph Fielding Smith. Doctrines of Salvation 1:130.).

 


And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.

Leviticus 4:35

 

YOM KIPPUR

Then, once a year the people of Israel celebrated the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. On this day the High Priest would offer sacrifice for Israel as a nation.

For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins.

LEVITICUS 16:30

The sacrifice was a vicarious substitution. The animal (often a lamb) was taking upon itself the penalty due sinful man. This animal sacrifice was a type of Jesus who would one day come and willingly pay the price of sin through His own death on the cross.



This sacrifice of the Lord Jesus fulfilled and surpassed that which was taught under the Old Covenant, a fact spoken of by the writer to the Hebrews:

 

But as it is, the Messiah has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

HEBREWS 8:6-7

 

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:11-14

 

Discussing whether the atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the Cross of Calvary is important. If the Mormons are correct, then Jesus’ death on the cross is of little consequence. Indeed, if true, did He even need to die?

In conversations with Mormons, it is always important to define terms. We can be using the same words, but their understanding is ‘Mormonese’.

We have so far considered where Mormons believe the atonement took place, but what do they understand of the atonement? What did the atonement achieve and how is it applied to their lives? That will be discussed in the next article.  





Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Jesus Isn’t The First Creature But Jehovah's Witnesses Will Struggle With This

 


In our latest Watchtower Wednesday on the Facebook page we saw that, according to Watchtower teaching, Jesus is the first creature God created. On their website they write:

'God created Jesus before creating Adam. In fact, God created Jesus and then used him to make everything else, including the angels. That is why the Bible calls Jesus “the firstborn of all creation” by God,—Read Colossians 1:15, 16.'

It is worth noting that anyone new to a faith, any faith, has a lot to take in and is understandably not especially discerning. They put a lot of trust in the people teaching them and this places a huge responsibility on those teachers (James.3:1). The new Jehovah’s Witness will typically look at this explanation of Colossians 1:15,16 and feel they are having a lightbulb moment.

That makes sense,’ they might think, uncritically embracing this new knowledge. Sadly for Jehovah’s Witnesses, the organisation strives to keep them in this infant state, where their minds are malleable and unquestioning, and the organisation is seen as the only reliable source of knowledge. Truthfully, the teachers are no more mature in their understanding than those they teach. They are just better prepared yet just as unquestioning.


‘All Other Things?’

We are familiar with the fact they add the word 'other' into this Colossians text. but they trust this is a correct translation. This in spite of their own Kingdom Interlinear giving a literal translation that doesn’t contain ‘other.’ The word simply isn’t in the text.

Further, their literal translation agrees with every ‘other’ (pun intended) translation you can find. ‘Other’ is only found in their New World Translation. This is because the Watchtower Society has decided who Jesus is and have made the Bible fit around that decision.

This is problematic, not only because their own Interlinear disagrees with their NWT, but because other Bible texts in the NWT clearly speak of Jesus as Creator...period. John clearly says of Jesus, ‘All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.’ (John 1:3, NWT)

The writer to the Hebrews says of Jesus, ‘Now at the end of these days he has spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the system of things.’ (Hebrews 1:2, NWT)

While the NWT gives ‘the system of things’ other Bibles variously translate ‘the world’ or ‘the universe’ or ‘the worlds.’ The word here is the Greek aiōn, the ages, meaning eternity, age (time period); "this age" can mean the universe or even the current world system, the "god of this age" refers to the devil.

So, John insists Jesus created everything, and Hebrews tells us Jesus created the ages. Given a creator can reasonably be thought to stand outside the thing he creates, Jesus must stand outside of creation and outside of time. What does this make him?


Lord of All

What does Yahweh himself have to say on the matter?

This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, who formed you since you were in the womb; I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself, and I spread out the earth. Who was with me?’ Isaiah 44:24, NWT)

The question here is rhetorical. Nobody was with Yahweh when he created the heavens and the earth. Why does Yahweh express himself in so emphatic a fashion, ‘by myself’? It is because in pagan cosmology the gods consulted together for wisdom in creation. Yahweh consulted no one, stood in counsel with nobody. He himself did it, ‘by myself.’

A word is needed on that terrible ‘Repurchaser.’ I believe they might be avoiding another word here. The Hebrew is gō’ăleḵā and it means Redeemer. This carries the same meaning as the Greek apolutrōsis (redemption) in Ephesians 1:7. Who, then, is our Creator? Who is our Redeemer?..And who is Lord of all?

He sent out the word to the sons of Israel to declare to them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ-this one is Lord of all.’ (Acts 10:36)

Who alone is Creator? Who alone is Redeemer? Who alone is Lord of all? This is key because, ‘There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12, NWT) In the end it comes down to salvation, the question of who is Lord of our lives. Nothing could be more important.


The Teacher’s Responsibility

A discussion like this, from their own Bible, can make a Jehovah’s Witness uncomfortable. It is hard, indeed impossible, to reconcile these conflicting ideas. Such conflict creates a cognitive dissonance as the person tries to deal with what has made them so uncomfortable and confused.

They have three options, explain it away somehow, reject this new knowledge, or come to terms with what the Bible says. Anyone who has witnessed to a Jehovah’s Witness knows what the first two look like. However, we must have faith in the fact God’s truth has been spoken and heard and cannot be unheard.

Understanding how difficult this is for them helps us temper our sense of urgency in sharing with a sense of responsibility for being patient and prayerful with the Jehovah’s Witness standing in front of us.

Don’t make the mistake many make of thinking because nothing happened there and then that nothing will happen. Take joy in knowing you have been a faithful witness to the truth and hold that person in your prayers. Now is the time to trust in the Spirit to bring to fruition what you have started in his strength and power.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Mormonism and the Atonement (Part 1)

 


Like many, I receive numerous messages from all kinds of people, about all kinds of things. I recently received a video clip via WhatsApp from a pastor friend of mine. His advice to me was: ‘Watch this.’

He told me that a member of his congregation had sent it to him with the same advice. The video was of a three-year-old girl singing about Jesus. She was incredibly cute, as all three-year-olds tend to be, and she sung beautifully. The Pastor had not sent the song to me for the same reason that his congregant had sent it to him. As he watched it, he felt there was something not quite right. Hence, he sent it to me for my thoughts.  

Here are some of the lyrics from the song:

He felt all that was sad,

wicked or bad
All the pain we would ever know
While His friends were asleep
He fought to keep
His promise made long ago

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

The hardest thing That ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus.
The fight was won by Jesus.

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So he gave His gift to me
In Gethsemane

I completely understand why many Christians would hear this song sung by a little girl, and think it so lovely, that they want to send it to other believers. So, what was it about this song that made my Pastor friend a little uneasy? Why did he send it to me?

He had rightly spotted what many may not, that this song was not from an orthodox Christian source. It was, in fact, produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

What is it with Mormons and Gethsemane?

Did you know that the Mormons believe that the atonement of Christ took place in Gethsemane? Yes, you read that right! Before we get into that, it would be good to firstly define what is meant by atonement. A simple definition, which would be agreed upon by both Mormons and Orthodox Christians would be that the Atonement involves the reconciling of a sinful people to a Holy God.

Both parties would agree that this atonement was achieved by Jesus Christ but would disagree about ‘where’ this took place.

Mormon authorities (leaders) have consistently taught that the atonement took place in Gethsemane. The thirteenth president of the Mormon Church, Ezra Taft Benson taught:

It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that Christ “suffered as only as God would suffer, bearing our griefs, carrying our sorrows, being wounded for our transgressions, voluntarily submitting Himself to the iniquity of us all, just as Isaiah prophesied.”

 

“It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so that all could repent and come to Him”[1]

Mormon Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie wrote the following:

“Forgiveness is available because Christ the Lord sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane as he bore the incalculable weight of the sins of all who ever had or ever would repent”[2]

“And as he came out of the Garden, delivering himself voluntarily into the hands of wicked men, the victory had been won. There remained yet the shame and the pain of his attest, his trials, and his cross. But all these were overshadowed by the agonies and sufferings in Gethsemane. It was on the cross that he ‘suffered death in the flesh,’ even as many have suffered agonizing deaths, but it was in Gethsemane that “he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”[3]

The current president of the Mormon Church, Russell M. Nelson said this:

“Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind, even as many as will, shall be redeemed. The Savior began shedding His blood for all mankind, not on the cross but in the Garden of Gethsemane. There He took upon Himself the weight of the sins of all who would ever live. Under that heavy load, He bled at every pore.”[4]

Even though there is no biblical support for the atonement having taken place in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mormonism continues to hold this view, and teach it to their children. 

Teach them young…

When I looked on YouTube I found, not only a three-year-old girl singing about Gethsemane, but a whole plethora of renditions, many of them by children. This is not surprising, when we realise that this ‘doctrine’ is taught to them from a young age. This is from a Mormon Sunday School Teacher Manual:




“Draw a priority chart with 1st, 2nd, 3rd across the top and A (cross), B (garden), and C (washing) down the side….Let A represent Christ hanging on the cross, B his suffering in the garden of Gethsemane, and C Christ washing the feet of the apostles….have the students rank the events first, second and third in order of their feelings for Christ’s greatest act of love. Have them show their decision by raising their hands. Count the number of hands raised and write it in the correct box on the priority chart. It is important that the students understand that Christ’s greatest act of love was shown when he suffered for the sins of the world in the garden of Gethsemane.”[5]

 

So, what is the problem?

So, what is the problem with the Mormons believing that the Atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane? It is not like they do not believe that Jesus died on the cross. Are we just ‘splitting-hairs’? Not at all. This peculiar Mormon doctrine has wide-ranging implications which we will consider next time.  

 

 

 

 








[1] Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.15

[2] The Promised Messiah, Bruce R. McConkie, p.337

[3] The Mortal Messiah, Bruce R. McConkie, p.127-128

[4] Russell M. Nelson, “His Mission and Ministry,” New Era, Dec. 1999, p. 4, 6

(5) Introduction to the Scriptures, Part B [Sunday School Course 13 teacher’s manual (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980), p. 56).