The Atonement

(also see “Comfort”, “Guilt, shame, and anxiety” and “Suffering, philosophy of”)

 

Pros of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Many believers feel that the fullness of the gospel as contained within Mormonism is the best way on Earth to grow closer to Christ and his atonement. Nothing is more important than receiving a forgiveness of sins though Christ. We talk of Christ, preach of Christ, rejoice in Christ. Christ through his atonement can succor us, turn weaknesses into strengthsbring us the resurrection, and bring us salvation and eternal life. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If the gospel is true and the Priesthood really does unlock God’s power and the atonement of Christ, this pro overwhelms and negates every other con of Mormonism.
Although the nonbeliever might not believe that the atonement is real and thus find no pros with it, some nonbelievers might, at times, long for the days when they believed it was real. There can be real comfort in the idea that Christ through his atonement can succor us, turn weaknesses into strengths, bring us the resurrection, and bring us salvation and eternal life. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Cons of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Some believing Mormons are known to lament that church can get bogged down by stuff other than Christ and his atonement. Indeed, many lessons or talks go by with no more mention of Christ than closing in His name. A potential con to Mormonism is thus that there is lots of other stuff to do/discuss that might distract from Christ.
        The believing Mormon might, perhaps, find it odd that access to the atonement is dependent on certain works and priesthood ordinances. The greatest people that ever lived who died without the gospel do not have full access to Christ’s grace unless a rote ritual is performed by another person. It seems odd and even presumptuous that man, who is sinful, is the gatekeeper to Christ’s infinite atonement and grace. Nonetheless, this question/con is probably offset by the joy of knowing that there is a Plan of Salvation, that God will give everyone a chance. The details of how/why probably don’t matter as much because the fact is that God is fair and just and the atonement is real. In the very least temple work as a means to unlock the atonement provides a sense of meaning and importance to life for many believers.
        We are saved by grace literally after all we can do. The laundry list of things that Mormons are required to do is exhausting and arguably impossible. Mormons are counseled to not get overwhelmed, and we should not run faster than we have strength, but this doesn’t erase the net effect of inescapable failure and guilt (see “Guilt, shame, and fear”)  (which guilt can, of course, be erased through Christ and his atonement). Every single thing we do or omit to do matters, and that is exhausting.
Many nonbelievers are likely to find it disturbing that God would devise a system where even the greatest people that ever lived who died without the gospel do not have full access to Christ’s grace unless a rote ritual is performed by another person. It seems odd and even presumptuous that man, who is sinful, is the gatekeeper to Christ’s infinite atonement and grace. The billions of people who need temple work make this system tiring and a depressive, monotonous program to be part of. To many who don’t believe in Mormonism, the system of temple work that is necessary to empower the atonement to work seems peculiar to say the least.
        Many nonbelievers come to feel that the atonement steals the credit from good people, since all good things come from Christ. This view can seem condescending and patronizing to an outsider.
        The laundry list of things that Mormons are required to do is exhausting and arguably impossible. Mormons are counseled to not get overwhelmed, and we should not run faster than we have strength, but this doesn’t erase the net effect of inescapable failure and guilt (see “Guilt, shame, and fear”). This is an extremely unattractive feature of Mormonism to the outsider / nonbeliever. To someone who doesn’t literally believe that salvation will come through Mormonism, the amount of restrictions and commandments and duties one is supposed to fulfill within Mormonism in order to have access to God’s grace and the atonement will likely seem unreasonable and lead them to withdraw from the community.
        It also does not seem logical that punishing someone else (Christ) is necessary to help us become better, and it can be damaging for kids and adults to think that they are causing someone else (Christ) suffering.

 

Comments relating to your lived experience with Mormonism are welcome. Although it can be difficult to distinguish at times, please focus on how the church helps and harms rather than it being true vs untrue.

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