I was thinking abut the atonement several days ago and wanting to write my thoughts down, but I haven't been able to figure out where or how to write my thoughts. Here and now is as good as anytime or anything. Remember, this came from my own ponderings. This is not official anything.
The atonement happens because we agreed to it. There is no magic about it. (Really, this is a different topic than my last post, though it overlaps somewhat.)
In the premortal world, a plan was presented. The problem was stated. We, as pure and holy beings, knew that if we made mistakes or outright rebelled we would feel so guilty that we could not bear to be in our Father's presence. But we knew we would make mistakes. So, how could we go out on this venture and have a chance to return after the venture was over?
Well, there was a plan presented by the Father God. He said, “I can send one down who is part God and part mortal. Because he has a foot in both worlds, he can bring the two together. He will be the liaison. But I will need to send someone who has been tried and found faithful because - number one - he needs to be without sin. Being part God will genetically predispose him to goodness but the core of his inner soul needs to be such that he will not sin. Your collective faith will do the rest.
“Second, if you agree to give him your sins and your pains, your regrets and your guilt, I will decree a law that such will be so. It will be binding because of the law of common consent. But it will be excruciatingly painful, nearly impossible to bear, even for a God-hybrid. So, we need someone we can trust one hundred percent to go through with it.”
Here, I'm going to skip to what the Pearl of Great Price (Abraham 3:27) calls the second answer, though it is possible that the second answer came in jealousy over the firmness of the volunteer who answered first.
There was a stir among the people of the children of the Father-God as they discussed this. Some didn't think it was fair to make one of their siblings the recipient of everyone's guilt and pain, especially if he was innocent of any guilt at all. Others felt guilty already for causing a sibling so much pain, even though it hadn't happened yet. Others saw that there was really no other way for the problem to be solved.
After much discussion, one spoke up -
“It isn't fair or right that one among us should suffer so unjustly for us all.”
Some nodded and verbalized their agreement.
“I have a better plan,” he said.
“What is it?” asked the Father God.
“I'll go down and be the savior. I will make it so that not one soul will be lost. No one will have to feel guilty over causing excessive pain and trauma to an innocent sibling because sin and error will simply not exist.”
“How do you propose to do that?” asked the Father God.
“When we put the veil of forgetfulness over our eyes, we will also make ourselves pliable and compliant to my will. They will always be obedient because they will be incapable of thinking or speaking or acting in any other way.”
“Of course. As the author of the plan, the glory is mine. My brilliant plan will prevent the loss of even one soul. I should have the Father's glory because my plan is better. We've got to be progressive here - and compassionate.”
“What do you think of that plan?” the Father God asked his children.
The children discussed it.
“How will we be able to learn and grow and become like Father if we are forced to obey?” asked one.
“Or if we are not given the freedom to even think?” asked another.
“How can we learn from our mistakes if we don't make any?” asked still another.
“Look, you're not going to be forced to do anything,” the plan-giver replied. “Force implies choice. You won't be forced. You will have chosen here, therefor your choice has not been trampled upon.
“Listen, you won't want to rebel or do anything wrong. That's the beauty of it. Force doesn't even enter the picture. Not only will all of you return to Father, but you won't be the cause of excruciating pain to anyone. Do you really want Father to slaughter one of his children because you were too selfish to accept my plan?”
There was more discussion. Finally a vote was taken. The majority chose the Father's plan.
“So, who shall I send?” he asked again.
“Me, of course,” said the plan-giver, planning to push his plan through after he was chosen. “As the eldest it is my right.”
“I will go,” said another. “Send me.”
“What of my glory?” asked the Father God.
“I don't want your glory. I want what is best for my siblings. I want them to be free to direct their lives, and to be able to change course when they screw up.”
“But youare not the eldest,” pointed out the plan-giver.1“Thus you have no right to be the savior of your siblings.”
“I will send you,” said the Father God.
“Me?” asked the plan-giver.
“No,”said the Father. “I am sending the one who will sacrifice himself.”
The plan-giver didn't take that too well. The rejection agitated in his soul. Eventually, he rebelled and decided to take his Father's kingdom by force. That didn't work out too well for him, and for his efforts, he was cast out of the kingdom.
So, the atonement is wrought by a law given with our common consent. Our very hearts are intertwined in the way the atonement works, with how it was set up.
When the judgment day arrives, we will not be ignorant of our part in choosing the plan that included a sacrificial offering. If we have chosen to give all of our sins to Christ, we will have honored our commitment to the plan and we will know it. The honor in our souls (in spite of what we may have done or become here) is what holds up the plan. The law that was made during the planning to which we gave our common consent still lives in each of our hearts.
This has not been a very good description of what I have been pondering. The gist is -
- We knew that we would feel too horrible to return to God's presence if we made even one mistake.
- We agreed to the sacrifice. Without our common consent, it would not have been put in place.
- The faith of the faithful, the fact that Jesus was a God hybrid, and Jesus' own natural personality are what made it possible for him to live without sin and to complete the atonement.
- Putting our sins on Jesus was something we chose, that's why it is possible to put our sins on him. We simply re-choose what we once chose. Very simple. Too simple for those who want to think of the atonement as something too deep and too mysterious to understand.
The mechanics of how the sins were put upon Jesus is something I have not yet understood.
I wish I could say more, but I am unable to put the rest of my ponderings into words, even in my own mind. I am hoping that my bumbling way to express what little I can is helpful and uplifting to someone, though.
1 I get this idea from the scriptures where it is often the younger brother who rules over the elder, even in the case of twins like Esau and Jacob. For the purpose of my thoughts, the scenario is that they are twins, with one just barely older than the other - though birth order as we know it probably does not exist in heaven. The plan-giver probably lost the “Firstborn status” he would have had if he had been chosen.