Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Atonement

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Atonement", Juvenile Instructor 13/21 (1 November 1878): 242-243.
On the subject of the atonement, this and many previous generations who have called themselves Christians, are and have been as much in the dark as upon the subjects already treated upon. In fact, plain as is the gospel taught in the scriptures, if there is one principle not shrouded in mysticism, but "held in uprightness," by all the men-made churches, we would not know where to look for it.

Several of the churches hold with John Wesley, in substance, "that the offering Christ once made is that of perfect atonement, propitiation and redemption for all of the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone;" while believers in John Calvin, and others of his type, hold that a definite number of God's children, both angels and man, before the foundation of the world, were elected to be saved, while others were doomed to be damned; and that the number is so definite and certain that it cannot be increased or diminished; and that Christ only died for the chosen few who are to be saved.

Neither of these views is warranted either by scripture or sound reasoning. That Christ died for all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve is correct; but that atonement only applies to the effects of the sin of Adam and Eve, commonly denominated "the original sin." Paul tells us that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (See Cor., xv, 1.)

Adam's death was such in its nature as to bring upon him and his offspring not only an eternal separation of spirit and body, but an eternal banishment from the presence of God. By the voluntary death of Christ, all mankind, both the righteous and the wicked, will be raised from the dead, and brought before Christ, the Son, to judgment, as He saith "if the Son of man be lifted up he will draw all men unto him." But this does not guarantee a full salvation to all. Adam, before the fall, was an immortal being; and so will all other mortals become immortal through the redemption of Jesus. But immortality is one thing, and a fullness of glory and eternal life is another. They must have their resurrected bodies before coming to judgment, so that they may "be judged according to the deeds done in the body," and "every man be rewarded according to his works." Not according to Adam's, but according to his own works. The atonement, healing the wound of Adam's fall, leaves children free from any charge of sin until they are old enough to know right from wrong. They are then like our first parents were in the garden, with respect to their agency. If they sin they must abide the penalty of the law they violate, unless their sins be remitted through repentance and baptism. Hence the commandment, "Repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins * * * be baptized and wash away they sins" - not Adam's, but your own sins. Death was the penalty of Adam's sin - "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

The Book of Mormon tells us that were it not for the atonement of Christ we were eternally lost, or banished from the presence of God. Peter tells us the same, in substance, when he says "Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." If we could get to God in any other way, Christ would not have suffered for that purpose.

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