Thursday, October 06, 2011

Letter to the Editor (Blood Atonement)

Last week I featured a quote from LDS prophet Brigham Young on our whiteboard, the doing of which drew forth criticism from a student in the Statesman. I’d like to take the opportunity and respond to his criticism.

For those who have observed us preaching on the patio the last nine semesters, we hope that you will have noticed that we have sought to only discuss Biblical and LDS theology and challenge students to think about their sin, the atonement of Christ, and the grace of God more deeply. We believe it is the gospel, not Mormon history, that is of utmost importance. I have never once written on the whiteboard anything of a non-theological nature, and last weeks quotation was no exception. In Brigham Young’s quote, I wanted to highlight the fact that he taught the doctrine of “Blood Atonement”: that is, there are certain sins which the blood of Christ cannot atone for, and that one’s own blood must be shed in order for forgiveness to take place. Young states this clearly three paragraphs down from the featured quote (JOD 3:247). This is appalling to Christian theology.

Nor can it be argued, as my critic has tried, that this teaching of Blood Atonement is “the exact same principle” as found in the episode with Phineas in the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the case of Phineas, Phineas was executing capital punishment, not redemption, by cutting the sinners off from the kingdom of God as prescribed by the Mosaic Law. In the case of Brigham Young, Young is advocating the slaying of sinners as a means of redemption, that they might be “received into the kingdom of God.” There is not the slightest notion in the Bible that men can atone for their own sins by death. Death is always the great punishment of God against sin, and it is Jesus Christ alone who atones for our sins by dying in our place and bearing our punishment. Under the New Covenant, Jesus teaches us, not to kill sinners, but to forgive them, just as He loved us and freely forgave us through His redemption.

I agree that we must have honesty and integrity, but this goes for the LDS Church too. To say you are Christian but then to deny the central teaching of Christianity is in truth the real offense.


Joel Smith said...

Eli, thank you for continuing to challenge us to think and know what we really believe. One great thing about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that we believe in the same organization that Christ set up, that is living prophets and apostles. I think it is a bit odd to suggest that we preach or practice "blood atonement" based on a very old quote, you might as well say we still practice polygamy, which we don't. We have never practiced "blood atonement". To know what has most recently been taught- look at the latest general conference found at here is one quote:
The redemption referred to in these three scriptures, of course, is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is the “plenteous redemption” provided by our loving God (Psalm 130:7). Unlike the redemptions under the law of Moses or in modern legal arrangements, this redemption does not come by “corruptible things, as silver [or] gold” (1 Peter 1:18). “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). President John Taylor taught that because of the Redeemer’s sacrifice, “the debt is paid, the redemption made, the covenant fulfilled, justice satisfied, the will of God done, and all power is … given into the hands of the Son of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor [2001], 44).
-"Redemption" Legrand R. Curtis Jr. Oct. 3, 2011

Eli said...

Hi Joel,

The age of a quote matters nothing. God does not abrogate or change His mind (do not argue that the New Testament abrogated the Old; Christians do not believe that). If such things were spoken of by prophets of God, they are the very eternal words of God. I of course do not believe the LDS prophets are prophets of God. It is not that I do not believe in prophets, but that Jesus warned about false prophets, and therefore any prophetic claim must be tested. Does the content of their message match the content of what God has already revealed? The answer is no: the LDS prophets do not pass the test.