Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I was just listening to a song that talked of how we all needed a city of justice (among other things). It made me think of the many times I have thought upon and discussed this subject with others. We tend to like the idea of someone to see that justice is done: A batman, superman, a sincere lawyer etc. But what exactly IS justice, becomes the question?

We can answer that technically and say that something is justified when it is aligned correctly. We can say that justice is served when a wrongdoer suffers for their wrong actions. However while justice can be considered to be fair, is justice wise? Does justice produce the best result?

For example the atonement of Christ actually robs justice of penalising the real perpetrator: Christ (an innocent person) suffers instead to satisfy justice. Now while that may be fair, in as much as that someone has suffered for the wrong, it isn't really what people expect who are looking for revenge. And if I pay someone's fine for them because they can't afford it, is this really justice either?

Courts dispense what they say is justice. Yet nothing is really justified by it: The result to the victim is rarely changed by such action. So what we term justice doesn't make things better. Penalising wrong doers may make them change or think better next time such an idea comes into their heads. But this should be considered as discipline rather than justice. Justice is to bring things back to an equal state. Penalising someone in the claim of doing justice is proposing that two wrongs make a right. But they don't.

A person committing a crime will generally make it the other person's fault that they are committing a crime against them - two wrongs making a right. So what is a court system saying to them where they propose they are out to do justice by making them suffer? They are supporting the thinking of the offender: Using the same logic.

Instead of proposing that some weird version of justice (which seems done more with an attitude that revenge = justice) has occurred because someone has been locked in a cage, we should be treating and declaring the situation as an education program. After all, God declared how real justice works when he declared "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." And Christ declared that this isn't the way a person desiring to become like God should be thinking, but they should forgive (Matt 5:38-39).

Yet we live in a world where Law of Moses type rules need to be instituted for a Law of Moses type people. So I'm not proposing we don't support a legal system. I'm saying that we should encourage better direction in regard re-education of inmates of prisons.

A side issue in this is that too often I hear people use terms about someone saying such things as "he is a bank robber" or he is a "sex offender" etc. It is just as well God doesn't view us that way. In reality the person is someone who has committed a bank robbery, not a bank robber. The latter becomes a label that the person is stuck with even if they are in fact a butcher, baker etc. Otherwise we should all be constantly referred to as "liars" if we have lied at least once in our lifetime.

If someone does something terrible what should we really be looking for? When you hear of a person committing a bad sex crime do you feel a revenge mentality or hope he repents and Christ's atonement covers him so he doesn't need to suffer?

My observation is that people have been mindwashed to desire revenge on wrongdoers in these last decades. Whereas the 70's were about love and helping wrongdoers to correct their lives. Unfortunately I find religious people are the worst offenders when it comes to being judgemental. Yet while we should judge sin as very wrong, our desire for the offender should be for them to change and gain true joy REGARDLESS of what they have done.

People will say, "well, that is alright provided the person didn't commit a ---- crime." In other words they are saying that their own sins are alright but this other person's sin isn't forgivable. WHAT NONSENSE! Christ stated that "ALL sins shall be forgiven" (except blasphemy against the Holy Ghost) (Mark 3:28-29). James states that regardless of what sin you commit you are just as bad (Jam 2:10-11).

Justice naturally occurs without us or God having to do anything. When a person does an evil act that act is permanently in their heart. They will suffer internally until they truly feel they have satisfied the demands of justice inside themselves (Mosiah 2:38). Unless they accept the atonement of Christ through repentance.

Unfortunately man's version of justice, in our minds, seems to get distorted by bad (or lack of good) emotions. I have heard so many talk of justice, yet God doesn't seem to see it the same way people tend to think. The song that I quoted above along with talking of a city of justice also refers to a city of love.

One day we hope to be Gods. Therefore we must learn divine forgiveness through divine love rather than talk of justice.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Movies and Morals - Even LDS movies need serious refining

I think almost everyone would oppose something in some movie made by someone somewhere. However what does it have to be for us to reject it, is the question to ask ourselves?

Often I hear such statements as, "what would Christ do?" But how seriously do we apply such thinking when faced with what to watch, considering there is probably almost (if not) nothing he would watch. We make excuses to accept watching things. I know myself that I can tend to think, "well that is life", "its entertaining anyway", "I'll just get through this bit and it might improve", "that may be the only part like that", "its a good examination of reality", "I payed to hire it so I'll try to persist", "if I get too fussy I'll never watch anything", etc.

The point is to remember that Christ just doesn't make excuses. He doesn't turn (even slightly) to the right hand or to the left of straight down the line. He makes Nephi look flexible. There seems to be some in Hollywood who have taken on board the idea that people may not all wish for lust, inappropriate violence, theft, adultery, anger, swearing and vengeance. And this number seems to be expanding (albeit very little), which is encouraging. On the other hand there are so many who just seem to get worse.

But many things come through in a subtle way, even by those who may mean well. I have watched a few LDS movies (made by members, not the church) which left me feeling disappointed. I suppose I always tend to expect the best from those who have dedicated their lives to such. Therefore I always hope for perfection, or something close to it, in those professing a serious desire to be a God or Goddess.

I have watched "The Singles Ward", its sequel and "the dance". I guess I had high expectations from LDS movies. They left me feeling that I had just watched an acceptable Gentile (Israel being church members and Gentiles being non-members) movie with LDS themes. These movies portray absurd ideas relative to dating. Concepts of dating non-members as if they will just join the church because you are a member are absolutely ridiculous. Dating inactives is also as crazy. While they do portray a change of heart by people, in some cases, the chance of this just happening to one specific chosen individual (assuming about half the members were brought up in the church - six and a half million converts, six and a half billion world population [a bit simplistic, in calculation, I know, but it can't be too far off the mark]) is about one in a million.

"the dance" portrays dating a female with very low moral dress standards. Also, again, a Gentile.

Is this what we are to come up with as a people set aside by God? Must our standards try to copy the world's? What this comes down to are serious turns to the right hand and to the left. No excuses make it right. I expect it from Gentiles. But let's try to get Israel to live and do as God would have us. Push for better LDS productions than that.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Atonement Theories - so many yet God still comes out looking deficient.

The Snarkernacle at http://snarkernacle.blogspot.com/2008/01/stop-thinking-about-yourself-and-start.html recently drew my attention to the ongoing discussions of atonement theories on LDS blogs. Reading through these theories I had to feel that they underestimated God in one form or another: It seemed that whatever way each theory went God came out with personality problems.

I realise that the church was generally built by ex-Protestants, who's churches are themselves built by ex-Catholics. This makes a strange Roman God to transform from, to begin with. And considering that the Scriptures do partially support the confusing God of vengeance (in so many places) and yet mercy (in other places), it is no surprise that confusion would exist on God's true personality and reasoning.

If a theory is approached with such a confused being as the God OF the theory, then the theory will be incorrect. To get the concept correct requires an understanding of the true nature of God in the first place. While some of these theories did represent the true God in parts, because of, what I would see as, false perceptions existing, in other areas they come adrift.

So to fully understand the atonement a person must completely reform their view of the relationship between man, God and eternal laws until it is correct. The hardest doctrine for people to grasp (particularly considering the Law of Moses style God presented to the hard hearted in the Scriptures) is the first I will come to.

First we need to actually BELIEVE that "God is love", rather than just quote it. Not love to only those who accept and obey him, but love to all - that he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. That God is actually TOTALLY impartial. If God is love then can we really believe that God will cause anyone to actually suffer pain and not allow them into his presence: That he will personally inflict agony upon those he loves - his own children? Even a good parent only disciplines a child so that the child will learn to do right in the future. And Christ made it obvious (to a more enlightened audience) that we can relate to God as a better father than we are (Matt 7:9-11).

Of those who have known the truth and rejected it Mosiah 2:37-38 says,
"...therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples. Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever."

So what has caused the pain? And why doesn't the Lord dwell in them: Is it because he hates them? The person has made themselves an enemy to "righteousness". So the Lord (being righteous) CAN'T dwell in him as it is contrary to the nature of the Lord. And it is the person's sense of justice from their OWN immortal soul that causes them to both suffer and feel separated from God. NOT GOD. These things are SELF imposed. God wants to free us from them; not create them.

We are separate and free individuals. God can't just bash the door down and make us feel good inside. We have to open up and let him come in and help.

So he used the same plan that is used for all people's throughout eternity for removing the pain from past sins, so that the repentant can move on and become one with God during this life (where possible) or as a spirit before the resurrection.

So that is why an atonement is necessary.

Another question considered is how does the atonement cover people of all time periods, when Christ didn't even live until about 4,000 years after the beginning? This same question relates to questions such as how the brother of Jared saw Christ's flesh? And how is it that Christ came to Abraham and ate with him? This may be a bit of a mind bender to understand as we are used to time things. But God dwells in eternity (we do also in reality but just don't see it because of change and decay) (Eccles 3:15) whereas we see things as a time line. Relative to the atonement and putting it simply, Christ's mind could go into eternity and come back into any time of this earth. This is how God has shown people the future.

So how does the atonement work?

I would first like to mention an experience I had when a teenager. I had done something wrong years before. Every time I thought of this thing (I can't actually remember what it was now) I felt terrible inside. However one day when I thought upon it a voice inside me (my spirit) said in an assured tone, "I have suffered enough for that."

As we open our hearts to Christ in true repentance he is able to come into our hearts from the garden of Gethsemane (which has already occurred, from his perspective, long ago) and suffer the pain for each and every sin. Our conscience inside feels this pain being suffered and accepts that as sufficient payment and feels appeased (our sense of justice is appeased). He suffers individual pain for each individual sin until we feel that is enough pain for that particular sin (depending on its size). The same applies to those who lived even before he was born. Thus such people as Enoch had their conscience cleared and could go on and grow in righteousness. This fact is demonstrated in the Law given to Moses where every man had to offer an INDIVIDUAL sacrifice outside the temple door (signifying the sacrifice in the garden). So individual pain had to be suffered for each individual. Whereas the sacrifice outside the camp (signifying his death on the cross) was only one sacrifice that covered everyone.

Some may question how he could do that in such a limited time? Yet if you think about your thinking at times you will realise that you often process a lot of thoughts within a second or even less. Several entire concepts can pass through your mind before you could blink your eye.

Now the question comes as to why Christ was the only one who could perform the atonement? Firstly it had to be someone who had no sins of his own harrowing up his own conscience. Jehovah (Jesus Christ) was just that type of person that wasn't going to make a mistake: He could see it was wrong without having to actually mess up first. Secondly he needed a body that was perfect enough to withstand the pain required. So his father was Heavenly Father in order that he had a part of him as coming from a perfect being.

So where does the cross fit in with this?

Having gained a body and living a life (which as our brother he needed to do also). Having learnt the truths relative to righteous life living. Having done a mission and preached the gospel. Having performed the atonement act. Having at that point ruined his body by doing the atonement. Knowing that some had waited thousands of years to be resurrected and were eager for that resurrection. He knew it was time to die. His manner of death set an example of dying a painful way, that no one could argue that they are asked to suffer more. So, as he had to die having ruined his body, he took the physical result of our sins and nailed it to the cross.

As he was sinless and had a body that wasn't able to die at the time of his death, he had no trouble resurrecting his body. From this time resurrection became available to others.

One day (during this life) I hope to actually understand why no one could be resurrected until he was. My understanding of the physical nature of a resurrected body is zero, other than it won't die and its state is relative to the righteousness of the owner.