During the easter season our hearts turn to the atonement, of which we understand very little. I hope that what I share on this subject might clear up some things about the atonement and provide a greater hope and a clearer foot-path for each of us to evaluate our walk in life, to make our walk easier.
First I’ll explain the origins of the King James version of the Bible. Then I’ll touch upon William Tyndale’s contribution to understanding the atonement. And lastly I’ll express my reasoning that “you complete the atonement.”
The King James version of the Bible is what we use as latter day saints. It is believed to be true as long as its correctly translated. So its important to know where it came from to understand where we can look for corrections. Here is a quick glance of the history of our King James version. Just quickly scan over this part, it just gives you an idea of how the Bible came to us, to lay a foundation to the point of this blog:
- Time of Lehi– (Language: Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew) This is the point of transition from Hebrew to Aramaic as the common language (600 BC.) The scriptures were written in Hebrew at the time of Christ and all three languages existed, but Aramaic and Greek is dominant. The Jewish leaders, however, could read the Hebrew text and spoke in Hebrew, but the commoners are unfamiliar with it. The Sadducees are the executive leadership that dictates the rules given in the scriptures. It is their responsibility to clarify the will of God for the people to follow. The people look to the executives for direction, instead of developing communication to God themselves.
- Nicean Creed– (Language: Greek) A “political” fight for equality in religion between pagans and christians results in a merging of the two religions to make one, by vote (325 AD). This is the democratic way– vote decides who God is. Hebrew never died out, but was uncommon by this time.
- St. Jerome– (Language: Latin Vulgate) A Roman Christian Priest who translates the Greek biblia sancta (Holy Books) into Latin Vulgate text (380 AD). The Nicean Creed was the foundation of the interpretation. Latin was the language of the priests and the educated citizens only. The commoners had no access to such texts.
- 950 AD we see the Bible only allowed to be read by the priests and all commoners must obey their translation. It is translated back into Hebrew and done in private/secret.
- John Wycliff– Defies church leaders and prints Bible in many different languages for the masses to read. Here we find the first English manuscripts (1381 AD). Wycliff was charged with heresy and his remains were burned in disgrace.
- Myles Coverdale– (Language: English) A priest who studied at Cambridge, who translated the Bible from Latin Vulgate into English (1539 AD), produced the first approved English Bible.
- Bishops Bible– (Language: English) An English translation of the Bible produced under the authority of the Church of England (1568 AD.)
- King James Version– (Language: English) The Bishops Bible that was significantly revised in 1572 BC and is used as the foundation of the King James Bible in 1611 AD.
Looking at the languages the Bible was written in (Hebrew>Greek/Aramaic>Latin Vulgate>Hebrew>English>English>English), it is easy to see why Joseph Smith placed his disclaimer on our belief that the Bible is true, “as far as it is translated correctly.” It is also easy to see that from the time Lehi leaves Jerusalem until the modern day, access to the words of God become more and more distant from the individual (common man.) We see the common man depending on men-with-title to reveal the word of God (philosophies of men get mingled with scripture). The value of William Tyndale (the leader of the protestant movement) is that he protested the idea of understanding God through men-with-title and put the the most original text into the hands of the individual, for the individual to develop a personal relationship with God. He did this by going back to the oldest Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible and translated it directly into English, for which he was found guilty of heresy and executed in 1536 AD.
The word “atonement” was invented by William Tyndale. It never existed before William Tyndales translation from Hebrew and Greek into English. Tyndale was executed in 1536 AD and the Bishops Bible and the King James version comes after his death. The King James version uses the word atonement loosely. Tyndale used three different words for atonement. These three words provides greater clarity into understanding what Christ has done …and what he still expects to do with us. The three words and their definitions are as follows:
- Loo-trow-sis: to free someone; to purchase a slave their freedom; freedom from bondage
- Hill-oz-mos: a sacrifice; a blood sacrifice, or propitiation; to turn away the wrath of God by way of an offering
- Kata-la-gay: reconciliation; becoming united with or one with; at-one-ment (this is the only word that Tyndale uses for the word at-one-ment, and he always uses it with the hyphens- exactly as I wrote it- to express the unification or becoming one with God)
In the King James version Loo-trow-sis, Hill-oz-mos and Kata-la-gay are clumped together and replaced with Tyndales word, “atonement,” but without the hyphens. If you reflect on the saviors life while mortal, it is easy to see that Christ fulfilled all three of these definitions. Christ came to free us from sin by paying the price in Gethsemane (Loo-trow-sis). Christ was offered up as the pure sacrificial lamb as an offering to turn away the wrath of God (Hill-oz-mos). Finally, he became at-one with the Father and invited us to do the same (Kata-la-gay).
The first two was complete when Christ exclaimed from the cross, “…it is finished!” However the last, Kata-la-gay, is not complete. God gave us His son so that all of us can become at-one with Him. The atonement is not complete for you, until you become at-one with the Father and become equal heirs to the Kingdom of God with Christ. We cannot be one with the Father until we are one with Christ. We cannot become one with Christ without entering into His presence. No man can be saved in “ignorance.” The scriptures were given to us in order for us to overcome ignorance and obtain at-one-ment. The scriptures teach us how to connect to the heavens. This is the greater knowledge Abraham is seeking in Abraham 1:2. At-one-ment cannot be applied if the scriptures we are given are not understood. Ignorance to the words of Christ disqualify us from being connected to heaven. That is why we, as a church, is literally under condemnation for resting the Book of Mormon. We cannot progress until we read and understand and seek the words of Christ. In the end it is your heart that God seeks. He is constantly reaching out to you. So you must complete the atonement.
The two great commandments have new meaning to me:
- Love God with all thy heart, might, mind, and strength- This brings you to becoming at-one with Christ, you are brought back into His presence and your joy is full!
- Love thy neighbor as thyself- Now that you know the joy of being one with Christ, you want the same for your neighbor (like Lehi, after partaking of the fruit, sought for his family to also partake. Lehi had to partake first though.)
I also believe that only as we read (search and understand) and bear witness of this process can we partake of this great blessing.
“15. And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be on soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
16. And now,, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”
The first soul is you! You become at-one with Christ by crying repentance (The Words of Christ). In so doing, you are the soul that becomes at-one (Kata-la-gay). You have received your calling and election sure. You are promised eternal life. You are brought into the presence of Christ and are redeemed from the fall (Ether 3:13). You have your joy in the kingdom of God the Father promised to you.
The second group are the many souls that will produce you joy if they too are brought into the kingdom of God the Father. They too become sanctified by the Holy Spirit of Promise and become a member of the Church of the First Born (D&C 76:53-54).
Enoch first connected to heaven, providing at-one-ment for himself. Zion was made up of all those who followed Enoch’s example and also became at-one with Christ. The entire city of Enoch was taken into heaven without tasting death.
Melchizadek, the great High Priest, preached repentance to the city of Salem. He became connected to heaven personally (at-one-ment). Then the city of Salem, like the city of Enoch, follow Melchizadek and they too become at-one and are taken up (translated).
We are given the same privilege as individuals, …and as a group. Moses was taken up (burried by the hand of the Lord), Alma the younger left the plates with Helaman and walked off into the sunset, Nephi, in the book of Helaman, also walked off into the sunset like Alma. These are examples of individuals who obtain such a glory, but we don’t see the people following their counsel to repent and follow their leaders as with Enoch and Melchizadek.
It is my understanding that as we search the scriptures to know the mind and will of God, it will be revealed to us. Not to command in all things, but to empower our choice and bring us back into His presence. As we understand His mind and will, our only desire will be to teach everyone to reconcile with the words of Christ and to repent. This process will provide greater understanding, until we, as an individual, become recipients of the gift of the Second Comforter, to be a special witness of Christ, to see His face and know that He is (D&C 93:1), to be at-one with Christ. Then, everything will shift to sharing such blessings with others so that your joy can increase even more.
The prophet Nephi is found in this very position of receiving the grand blessing of at-one-ment in Helaman 10. In this chapter Nephi is discouraged at the hard heartedness of the people, when he is visited by God declaring that Nephi is at-one (Kata-la-gay). It is at this point that Nephi receives the sealing power because God knew that he would not ask anything contrary to God’s will.
“4. Blessed art thou Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
5. And now, because thou hast done this with unwearyinges, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.”
God tells Nephi the steps that lead up to that point of at-one-ment:
- Unwearyingness declared the word of Christ to the people
- He has not feared the response of the people
- He has not sought his own life, but sought the mind and will of God and to keep His commandments
Then comes the promise that all of us have the privilege to receive for ourselves:
- I will bless thee forever
- I will make thee mighty in word, deed, faith, works– this is real power to work real miracles, not just serendipity. He is connected to heaven.
- All things shall be done unto thee according to thy word
Nephi is now connected to heaven. He now has real power. He clearly uses this power later in the same chapter, in verse 16, when he is “conveyed away in the spirit.” Nephi is also said to have been ministered to by Angels, daily. Again, these are real Angels coming to Nephi from the presence of Christ, with messages from God the Father- on a daily basis.
Before Nephi leaves into the sunset like Alma, Moses, Elijah, etc. we find Nephi trying to teach others to do as he did. But Nephi gets to a point in which he too is no longer able to say more because of the hardness of the hearts of the people.
We have the privilege to be at-one. If we do this while in this life, in the flesh, we too will be blessed with power. We too will be connected to heaven. We too will be joined with “The Fathers.” Then our dead will have reason to visit us, so that they can receive the same. Now is the time to search the scriptures, to turn our hearts to “The Fathers” who have obtained these blessings. As we do so, their hearts will turn to us, to guide us to how we can find at-one-ment (it only adds to their joy to do so.) It’s no wonder why Joseph prayed, knowing an Angel would appear. It is in their best interest (the Angels) to appear to someone who is sincerely seeking to be at-one with Christ, because they receive more joy as they bring more souls unto Christ. Lets do it!