The Only Way to Atone

Ronnie Lee Gardner shot and killed an attorney in Salt Lake City in 1985. Convicted and sentenced to death, Mr. Gardner is finally nearing the end of his appeals processes. As he faces the reality of his execution, as allowed by Utah law, he has chosen death by firing squad.

The current news focus on Ronnie Lee Gardner’s fate brings up an interesting point of Utah (and therefore Mormon) history.  Employing a method of capital punishment that sheds the condemned person’s blood is somewhat unique to Utah. Though Utah law changed in 2004 to disallow future executions by firing squad, Ronnie Lee Gardner’s 1985 conviction predated that law. Therefore, he was given the choice of lethal injection or death by firing squad.

According to Martin R. Gardner (no relation that I’m aware of), the early “capital punishment law in Utah was a product of Mormon lawmakers influenced by Mormon doctrine” (“Mormonism and Capital Punishment: A Doctrinal Perspective, Past and Present,” Dialog, A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1979, p. 9). Martin Gardner wrote,

“Existence of the firing squad solely in Utah is no coincidence but instead is a consequence of an attempt by early legislators to effectuate religious belief through the capital punishment law of the state. Mormon justifications of capital punishment were intricately related to blood atonement, a doctrine requiring shedding blood as expiation for certain sins…

“However, the doctrine of blood atonement posits that man can commit some sins so heinous that Christ’s sacrifice is unavailing, but the offender himself may partially atone for his sin by sacrificing his life in a way which literally sheds his blood. The spilling of blood is required because blood is viewed as possessing symbolic religious significance. ‘The man who commits murder, who imbues his hands in the blood of innocence, cannot receive eternal life because he cannot get forgiveness of that sin. What can he do? The only way to atone is to shed his blood'” (pp. 9-10, quoting Charles Penrose, Blood Atonement, p. 21, 1916).

Martin Gardner explained that the LDS doctrine of blood atonement was most fully developed by Brigham Young, who said,

“‘There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilled upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such were not the case, they would stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world…

“‘It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet, men can commit sins which it can never remit… There are sins that can be atoned for… [only] by the blood of the man'” [p. 11, quoting Brigham Young, “The People of God Disciplined by Trials,” “Atonement by the Shedding of Blood etc.,” Journal of Discourses, 4:51, 53, 54, 1856).

Another early Mormon leader, Jedediah Grant, taught,

“But if the Government of God on earth, and Eternal Priesthood, with the sanction of High Heaven, in the midst of all his people, has passed sentence on certain sins when they appear in a person, has [sic] not the people of God a right to carry out that part of his law as well as any other portion of it? It is their right to baptize a sinner to save him, and it is also their right to kill a sinner to save him, when he commits those crimes that can only be atoned for by shedding his blood. If the Lord God forgives sins by baptism, and…certain sins cannot be atoned for…but by the shedding of the blood of the sinner, query, whether the people of God be overreaching the mark, if they should execute the law… We would not kill a man, of course, unless we killed him to save him” (Deseret News, July 27, 1854, p. 2, col. 1).

So when the territorial government was established in 1851 for the state of Deseret,

“…the General Assembly of the state of Deseret, controlled by members of the Council of Fifty, adopted a criminal code that imposed capital punishment for the crime of murder: ‘Be it further ordained, that when any person shall be found guilty of murder, under any of the preceding sections of this ordinance, and sented [sic] to die, he, she or they shall suffer death by being shot, hung or beheaded'” (p. 12).

The LDS First Presidency in 1851 (Brigham Young, Jedediah M. Grant, and Heber C. Kimball), all advocates of blood atonement, were directly involved in establishing beheading and the firing squad as Utah law. Beheading was dropped as an execution option in 1888, but the firing squad option remained as Utah’s primary method of execution until 2004.

In his paper, Martin Gardner demonstrated the fact that many Mormon leaders have understood the allowance of firing squads in Utah law to be a provision for legally accomplishing blood atonement.

“To quote B.H. Roberts: ‘Latter-day Saints believe that where secular government prescribes capital punishment it is better that such form of execution be adopted as will shed the blood of the criminal; hence in Utah, when the Latter-day Saints, in their capacity as citizens of the state have made the laws, condemned criminals, subject to capital punishment, are permitted to choose their mode of execution either by being hung or shot, the latter mode, or course, resulting in the shedding of their blood, thus meeting the requirement of the law of God as well as the law of the state’ [quoting Comprehensive History of the Church 4:129 n. 41].

“Joseph Fielding Smith concluded that Mormon legislators wrote capital punishment provisions into the laws of Utah so the offender could ‘have his blood shed in harmony with the law of God; and thus atone so far as it is in his power, for the death of his victim’ [quoting Doctrines of Salvation, 1:136, 137]” (p. 15).

The LDS Church today does not support the early Mormon doctrine of blood atonement and offered no objection to the change in Utah law that excluded the firing squad from its modes of execution. Once again modern Mormonism shows itself at odds with the early Restoration and the teachings of founding LDS prophets and apostles.

Martin Gardner related a telling incident from 1849 wherein Brigham Young called for the beheading of an offender:

“Minutes of secret meetings of the Council [of Fifty] show that the doctrine of blood atonement was discussed, at least in passing, by the Council before adoption of the 1851 capital punishment law. [Endnote 29: For example, on March 3, 1849, the council discussed the cases of Ira West and Thomas Byres who had committed crimes serious enough to arouse Brigham Young to say, ‘I want their cursed heads to be cut off that they may atone for their sins, that mercy may have her claims upon them in the day of redemption.’ On the following day the council agreed that Ira West had ‘forfeited his Head.’] Given the political influence of the Council and its commitment to blood atonement, the sudden and novel emergence of beheading and the firing squad in the law of Utah seems to be a religious phenomenon” (p. 14).

One can’t help but wonder at this teaching and behavior of men claiming to be true prophets of God when God Himself, in His Holy Word, said that Jesus’ shed blood on the cross is the full and final sacrifice for all sins for those who believe. Humanity is no longer enslaved under the Old Covenant requiring personal and repetitive sacrificial offerings as atonement for sins. Christ has ushered in the New Covenant, secured by the once-for-all shedding of His own blood on our behalf.

Did Brigham Young, et al., fail to understand the New Covenant provision of Christ’s sacrifice? Or were they just convinced that it wasn’t sufficient? Perhaps they should have read (and believed) Hebrews chapters 9 and 10.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Brigham Young, Early Mormonism, Forgiveness, Mormon Culture, Mormon History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to The Only Way to Atone

  1. falcon says:

    OJ,
    “Small element”? I believe this is the “argument by minimalization”. You need to understand, as Christians, it’s all about the finished work of the cross, the shedding of Jesus’ blood as total reparation for our sins. That’s why Mormonism is not Christianity. Aside from the fact that Mormonism recognizes a pantheon of gods and teaches that men will become gods, the Mormon view of what Christ did on the cross and what it means is not Biblical and is a hybrid invention of that religious charleton Joseph Smith.
    Mormons reject the Bible as God’s revelation to man, they reject the deity of Jesus, and they reject the complete and final satisfaction for sin by the shed blood of Jesus. Mormons have a pagan religion that borrows just enough from Christianity to fool a lot of people.
    As most people here know, I was raised Catholic. If you would like I can give you a primer on the different kinds of sin. I can even provide you with a list of sins and where they rank. Some sin is more serious of course because of the effect it has on the sinner and the one who is sinned against. However, in terms of the righteousness of God, any sin is unacceptable. That’s why Christ’s death on the cross was necessary because it reflects the absolute holiness of God. But I’m talking in a Biblical context here and as a Christian. In Mormondom, what I have written makes no sense because in order to understand it a person needs to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to repent and be born again (by the Spirit of God).

  2. falcon says:

    Titanic,
    That’s really a good article. I’m off to teach a class right now (retirement gig) so I’ll have to spend more time with it later. Thank you for taking the time to track it down. I’m by nature a curious and suspicious person, especially when it comes to religious matters.
    This whole deal has a funny ring to it. Sort of like someone saying, “After the death of the apostles the Gospel was lost but in these latter days it has been restored.” I don’t know if I’d call myself an accomplished student of Christian history, but I am really interested in it and I’ve found that if a person will look to reliable scholars for information regarding (history), things become quite clear.
    That’s why Mormons are trapped in a box when it comes to their own religion and that of Christianity. They have been taught to “listen to our leaders they will never lead you astray.” That’s exactly what the leaders do is lead people down a path of half-truths and down right inaccurate information. But Mormons are taught to march in lock step once they receive their testimony, which is little more than a conditioned emotional feeling masquerading as the voice of God.

  3. messianic says:

    falcon-

    sorry I did not respond earlier, I hit my 6 comments for the day, so don’t think I was ignoring your request. While a great resource and site, I have referenced it myself before, is not an opposing view really. This site is for Torah observance, not against it and I pretty much agree with the theology put forth on this site. It is against oral Torah, or that which the Jewish Rabbis have added on outside of the Bible. I agree with this.

    I know what I am proposing sounds legalistic and rubs Christians the wrong way. In fact I said almost verbatim what you said in your last post when presented with it myself. Especially since I have spent time studying Mormonism and it’s falsehood. It wasn’t until I sat down with two Mormon missionaries to try to defend Evangelical Christianity and get them to wake up and see the truth that I finally saw the truth. As I was telling them that God cannot change and that if their doctrine went against God’s Word it could not be true they asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. They asked well didn’t God change the Law from the OT to the NT, so why couldn’t He change it again? At that moment it clicked, god didn’t change the Law, He couldn’t or the Bereans would have rejected the gospel.

    At any rate I would never say to believe my words, the only word that has authority is God’s Words, not that of Man. So don’t get so wrapped up in tradition that you miss what God has to say. Search out the scriptures, the culture, the language, the history and be in prayer. God’s truth is there for us to search out. Look at both sides of the arguments and make your own conclusions. There is no leader feeding the Messianic believers, in fact it is more of a step away from the corrupt institutions that you find throughout Christianity if anything, it is a return to the roots of the faith. They are Jewish roots, because Christianity is a Jewish faith.

  4. kylyo21 says:

    Olsen,regarding this:
    “Is God less just than our justice system here? Or do we just ‘not understand God’s ways?'”

    After many long discussions with my LDS buddy one of the major, reoccurring problems with LDS theology, and you are doing it here, is drawing conclusions that have taken too much from the world “metaphor” (for lack of a better word). For example God as the Father and earthly fathers. Or three levels of heaven for different “effort,” just like if you want to succeed in life you need to work hard.

    And here, trying to compare God’s view of justice to a human judge. It misses the mark. I like to think of it this way. God is infinitely Holy and infinitely Good. So, any sin against Him no matter what the size is going to be infinitely sinful. Kind of like the distance between any number and infinity is infinity. If anyone wants to talk about levels of sin, Why? It doesn’t change the fact we need Jesus Christ to save us. And knowing our sin is infinite against God should make us infinitely joyful when we are forgiven, whether have stolen a candy bar or murdered someone. That is why it is Good News!!

  5. jackg says:

    OJ,

    Thank you for supporting my position by how you responded. The problem with the Mormon perspective is that it puts humans in the position of judging God, which is what you do when you ask such questions as: “Would it be just for a 13 year old boy who stole a candybar in a store to receive the same sentence as a repeat rapist murderer?” Mormons are always angling to be more righteous than the next guy. What I said puts you in a position of having to admit you’re a sinner, which you don’t want to do. Now, if we look at the 10 commandments, that 13-year-old boy broke the commandment of stealing. And, that’s the point, OJ–we are all sinners and in need of a Savior, and that Savior is Jesus Christ; and, He freely and willingly spilled His blood all over the place for me and you and that 13-year-old boy. So, like it or not, OJ, you and I share in humanity and are both sinners. The difference between us is that I can admit it. It’s all about holiness, OJ. God is Holy and nothing unclean (unholy) can enter His presence. Now, the work of making us holy is not our work to complete. We can’t accomplish that. It is the work of God to complete.

    Now, a word about God being just: He would be just in destroying all of us and sending us all to hell. Do you agree? But, His mercy and grace sent His Son to spill His blood for us and, thereby, pay our penalty for sin. Neither you nor I, OJ, could ever pay for our sins through the shedding of our own blood. Look to the True Savior of the world, OJ, not the false version taught by JS et al. Your eternal life depends on it.

    Peace…

  6. falcon says:

    messianic,
    In regards to the question by the Mormon missionary friends asking if God hadn’t changed His mind between the OT and NT. I would have taken them to Jeremiah 31:31-34 which says: “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.” “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
    Now when Christ shed His blood on the cross, God made the most serious covenant with those who would come to have faith in Christ, that is a blood covenant. When someone is born again, through faith, the Holy Spirit comes and resides within them. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
    Here’s the deal, if there are a bunch of folks who want to go back under the law, I don’t care but I’m not going there. I’m sticking with Christ and Him crucified and the covenant which God made. The purpose of the OT law was to act as our tutor until Christ came and sealed the deal for believers.
    And as far as religions or denominations being corrupt, I belong to the Mystical Body of Christ which is populated by everyone who has been born again by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t belong to a denomination, but I really don’t care if someone else wants to.
    I’ll stay with the new covenant.

  7. grindael says:

    OJ,

    I can’t begin to give the reasons for some of the OT laws – and really it is not relevant. Jesus came and told us to love one another as ourselves. Brigham Young saying love is equated with having your blood spilled by someone, or ‘doing it yourself’ is NOT what Jesus taught. God is love. He asks us to forgive and keep forgiving. How would you feel clamoring for the blood of an accused murderer and then find out that person was innocent and was murdered by the state unjustly?

    Is ‘an eye for an eye’ Christian? Do you think Jesus would be out there on the front lines clamoring for the blood of men to atone for their sins? I realize that there are penalties and the law is written and we must obey the law. But is it really just and fair, in the light of what Jesus taught us? How redundant to ever think that you could take back snuffing out a life in murder.

    The world moves on, and for some that is embracing the teachings of our God Jesus and taking the ‘higher’ road. I’ve known in my life a few people who have been murdered. I’ve seen the effects on their families and the devastation it causes. I’m not ok with what many have done. Has the death penalty stopped the murdering? No. Will it? No.

    I’m not like BY in thinking I can be a god to people & feel comfortable in judging them & putting them to death. I was watching a clip from O’Riley Factor tonight, & the hatred he showed for that attempted bomber made me sick. His self righteous arrogance is just what Jesus tells us not to be like. O’Riley is just feeding the hate. Justifying torture & inhumainty like he has done in the past.

    Jesus warned us it would not be easy, He told us to hold on, & turn the other cheek. That is the true calling of a Christian. That is the high road, & it is not, is never easy. But the reward is great. Did you read the account of Jos. F. Smith wanting to stab someone because of the rhetoric of revenge oaths?

    I don’t, won’t, and can’t ever believe Jesus would be behind such doctrine.

  8. grindael says:

    Violence leads to violence. Hate and hate rhetoric leads to hate. Revenge and intolerance destroys people. Jesus taught us to live above that. For some reason, this is better for us, this message was the most important one and one that He died for.

    No one can EVER get me to believe retribution murder, in whatever cloak you want to hide it behind, is of God, good for us, or justified in what Jesus taught us.

  9. grindael says:

    Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. In 2003 alone, 10 wrongfully convicted defendants were released from death row.

    Arizona: Ray Krone, released in 2002

    Spent 10 years in prison in Arizona, including time on death row, for a murder he did not commit. He was the 100th person to be released from death row since 1973. DNA testing proved his innocence.

    Illinois: Madison Hobley, Aaron Patterson, Stanley Howard and LeRoy Orange, pardoned in 2003

    Sent to death row on the basis of “confessions” extracted through the use of torture by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and other Area 2 police officers in Chicago. They were pardoned by outgoing Governor George Ryan, who also commuted the remaining 167 death sentences in Illinois to life imprisonment.

    North Carolina: Jonathon Hoffman, exonerated in 2007

    Convicted and sentenced to death for the 1995 murder of a jewelry store owner. During Hoffman’s first trial, the state’s key witness, Johnell Porter, made undisclosed deals with the prosecutors for testifying against his cousin. Porter has since recanted his testimony, stating that he lied in order to get back at his cousin for stealing money from him.

    Explain the great reasons for an ‘eye for an eye’ to these people. Explain it to all the unjust MURDERED by the state of innocent men who have died in the past. Even with the advances in forensic science & police work, we still have innocent men on death row.

    Do you think Jesus understood this? Is that one innocent collateral damage death worth the price? Is it worth keeping the death penalty in any state on the chance one of these innocents would have to pay that price?

  10. Olsen Jim says:

    kylyo21,

    Why does God favor some people? The Bible is filled with examples- Enoch, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Elijah, Joseph, Israel as a whole, the widow donating her mite etc. etc. The list is pages long.

    Why does he punish others?

    People like you and jackg need to calm down and realize I am not claiming to be the judge of people. That fits nicely into your justification for dismissing me, but you need to calm down long enough to understand what somebody is saying.

    Yes- you are correct- nobody is perfect, and everybody fails to live up to God’s law. Everybody sins and are sinners. Yep.

    And no sinners can live with God. Any amount of sin will keep us from Heaven. Are we good so far?

    That does not mean that there is no qualitative or quantitative difference between sinners. And no- I am not arguing this to lift myself above anybody else. The same argument will condemn me just as much if not more than exalt me. Relax.

    How many times does the Bible say we will be judged according to our works? The answer is a lot.

    Unless God discriminates (oops- that is a word that likely provokes the bad response) between peoples’ behavior, that doctrine from the Bible is meaningless.

    God judges us according to our behavior. If you cannot agree with that basic statement, this argument is useless. Shall we list the passages that say very clearly that man will be judged by his works?

    Saying that “God’s ways are not man’s ways” is a complete cop-out of this discussion. If there is a better way to judge, then we should abandon our justice system here for another. Any suggestions?

    The gospel of easy believism leads to just such a logical (and spiritual) pitfall as this. You are in a position that will not differentiate between a humble, modest, law-abiding 90 year old woman and a repeat rapist-murderer.

    Do people really think God sees no difference between two such imaginary people?

  11. Olsen Jim says:

    Jackg- do you have the ability to read my words without assuming my motive is lifting myself above others. Could it be that I actually believe God functions according to laws that make sense? Why do you have to employ the cop-out, knee-jerk maneuver of ascribing the worst motives and selfishness to me or any other LDS? It is the equivalent of screaming racism at every opportunity. It truly seems like you have some unfinished business or bitterness rearing its head.

    Grindael- God’s instructions on capital punishment clearly matter to our discussion. The fact is that He has at some period on this earth instructed His very own people to kill on certain occasions. I too do not claim to understand very well. But the fact is there.

    You are making me sound like a blood-thirsty vigilante. I am not. I seek peace. I seek nobody’s death. I honestly do not feel superior to anybody else.

    We are discussing theory and theology here. I hope we can all remove ourselves enough to allow concepts, reason, and intelligence to lead the way- not emotions or judgementalism between us.

    We have EVs here who do not believe there is any justified reason for ending another’s life (war, murder, etc). Some of those same people believe that all who do not accept Christ will meet a fiery end in a burning lake of lava, ceasing to exist. Anybody see the irony? This makes God seem very contradictory in my book.

    I accept that our criminal justice system is not perfect, and that the process of evaluating evidence is flawed as well, leading to occasional horrible mistakes.

    I am making the assumption that these theoretical examples are established with perfect knowledge- with no question about guilt.

    The scenerio I am basing my argument upon is if I were a murderer (a little different than Jack and kylyo think).

  12. Olsen Jim says:

    If I had ended an innocent person’s life and robbed them of their family, life, etc., I would hope I would be willing to offer my own life to serve justice to the greatest degree possible, even though it would not meet the full demands of eternal law. It would offer the family the idea of justice.

    Jesus said, “greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I can’t help but think this sheds a little light. The greatest degree of repentance for me if I were a murderer would be realized, in my opinion, if I offered my own life.

    I could not agree with you more- Jesus is the prince of Peace. I am a peace-loving guy. I too believe in turning the cheek. I simply think that when a certain line is crossed, there are laws that demand justice, not necessarily to my benefit, but for others. I believe in defending country and family. I do not dismiss your faith because you do not believe in the death penalty. Hopefully, the inverse is true.

  13. Andy Watson says:

    Messianic,

    Are shall I call you “Messianic Pharisee?” You sure sound like one and it is giving me Pharisaic nausea. Why must we go down this road? Why? Why? Why? You’re on the wrong blog with this agenda and new found spiritual quackery not only telling the Mormons they have it wrong but also the Christian evangelicals because we are “corrupt” because you have stumbled upon some new movement that specializes in self-glorification and spiritual pride in vain attempts of going back to Judaic law what appears to be to garner attention in your personal holiness. Here is some advice: wise up and fast.

    It’s unfortunate that you “swung hard” on the “softball” trap question that the LDS missionary kids threw at you which caused you to trip and fall on your backside at home plate. It was a trap and a goofy question that could have easily been answered and would have had them grabbing for their backpacks and running to the door and on to the missionary president for answers if you had familiarized yourself with the Word of God instead of scouring the pages looking for “give me law” texts so you can show the evangelical world that we are corrupt. Guess what? That’s the same song that the Mormons are singing. I’m sure they appreciate the support. Your sit-down with the Mormon kids created a “click” in your head and now you see the “light”? Did you thank them for enlightening you? It’s pretty embarrassing reading it from over here on my end.

    I’m going to ask you what Peter asked the Pharisees in Acts 15:10. I would read the entire chapter very carefully. The Pharisees want the new believing Gentiles to be circumcised. Paul and Barnabas didn’t like the idea and went to Jerusalem to talk it over with Peter and the others. End result: the Pharisees were shut down because of what was said in Acts 15:9 and Acts 15:11. Why don’t you meditate on Acts 15:19 and not give us trouble as well? The Holy Spirit spoke definitively on the issue in Acts 15:28.

  14. Andy Watson says:

    Messianic,

    That’s right, the agenda you’re pushing is legalistic and it does rub Christians the wrong way. What is so hard to understand about Romans 10:4? Christ is the end of the law! What is so hard to understand about Galatians 2:16 and Romans 3:20? There is no justification in the works of the law! Our justification is by faith – alone (Romans 5:1) and because of that I am not under condemnation (Rom 8:1) from the Pharisees back then, the Pharisees today or non-Christian cults like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses who want to drag me back into law to live under the rules of man (Colossians 2:8).

    You want to be under law? Why in light of Galatians 3:10? Are you keeping all the works of the law? You know that you aren’t and you couldn’t even if you tried. Why even bother if you are only keeping a few in light of James 2:10? Only one person did and that was Jesus Christ when He fulfilled the law in Matthew 5:17. What is so hard to understand about Galatians 3:11? The law is not of faith (Gal 3:12). Christ has redeemed us from the law (Gal 3:13-14). I agree with Paul in Galatians 2:19. I’m dead to the law – thank God!

    What did Jesus mean when said, “It is finished” in John 19:30? What is your understanding of the atonement? Only a perfect sacrifice could be offered to pay for the sins of mankind and that sacrifice had to be perfection Himself who was Jesus. Jesus lived the law perfectly and was the only one qualified to be on that cross. The law was fulfilled and substitutionary atonement was complete thus Jesus could say what He did. Here you, and your fellow wanna-be Pharisaic buddies, come along and say, “Well, Jesus, I’m glad you fulfilled the law perfectly and ushered in salvation by grace through belief in you, but I kind of like to play the dietary law game so people can see how self-righteous that I am while I give lip service to you along the way. Thanks Jesus – for nothing.”

  15. Andy Watson says:

    Messianic,

    I have a hard time understanding where your camp is coming from. I’ve known some real Messianic Jews. When I lived in Atlanta, where there is a large Jewish population, we had a Messianic Jewish family at my church. They were in a group called “Jews for Jesus”. These people couldn’t have been happier to be free from the law in every detail. They would look or listen to you and scratch their heads in bewilderment.

    What’s next, Messianic? Extremes are in San Antonio, Texas at Cornerstone Church where John Hagee has gone goofy with this wacky rubbish. He has Jewish rabbis speaking in his pulpit, sells prayer shawls, wears a kippah sometimes and is actively involved in Jewish affairs. Hagee thinks that the sovereign God needs his help in accomplishing His providence for the world by having church members give money to aid the Jews in moving to Israel to help speed up the book of Revelation in his view. He also has gotten farmers and scientists to do gene creation to bring about the red heifer that could be used for temple sacrifice. However, I don’t know what Hagee’s plans are in getting the Dome of the Rock back from the Muslims. This is wacky stuff and this is where this road leads – spiritual shenanigans.

    In regards to the Bereans, Paul demonstrated to the Bereans the same thing that Jesus did on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:27 – Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, the Messiah and that there is now a new covenant (Jeremiah 31). The Bereans came to the same realization of this fact like many of the other Jews did who were appointed to salvation (Acts 13:48) when they heard the Gospel presented to them by Paul.

    God didn’t change the law from the OT to the NT. Jesus fulfilled the OT law thus no need for NT believers to try to live under it. What did change was the priesthood (Hebrews 5-7). The Aaronic is no longer. Jesus holds the Melchizedek priesthood solely by Himself. He is the only one that meets the qualifications.

  16. Andy Watson says:

    Jesus is perfection for us (Hebrews 10:14). Why do I need your Pharisaic laws in 2010 to bring me under bondage when Jesus gave me imputed perfection on His account 1,977 years ago?

    You stated: “So don’t get so wrapped up in tradition that you miss what God has to say. Search out the scriptures, the culture, the language, the history and be in prayer. God’s truth is there for us to search out. Look at both sides of the arguments and make your own conclusions.”

    I think you would be well served to follow your own instructions that you are giving Falcon and the rest of the “corrupt” evangelicals. Who’s the one wrapped up in tradition and missing what God has to say? I say it’s you and the rest of the Judaic pretenders. Yes, God’s truth is there and it has been plainly spoken. The only “corrupt institution” is the one being pushed by this modern messianic movement that trods on the neck of Christ in what He has already done for us in which your camp wants a “do-over”.

    “Christianity is a Jewish faith” you say. You’re joking, right? Wow, I can’t even fathom how you come to that conclusion when the Jewish faith rejects the Messiah in total what I accept in total. The only thing we have in common is monotheism as far as I’m concerned and we share that aspect with Islam (even though both them and the Jews are unitarian. Those two camps have more in common together than Christianity does with either one).

    So where are these messianic congregations? What is required for admittance to the building? Trash my shaving razor and show up with a beard? Prove I’ve had a circumcision? Pharisaic pretenders are going to have to explain to me how and why my life is blessed, my prayers are being answered, I’m being used by God in ministry all the while eating pork chops and shrimp. I’ve got pork chops marinating in the refrigerator as I type and I know that my name is still going to be in the Lamb’s Book of Life after dinner tomorrow night (Romans 14:17; Revelation 13:8).

  17. messianic says:

    Andy-

    I am sure you feel high and mighty now for putting me in my place, but you really didn’t hear a word of what I believe. I never said anyone was justified by the Law, I never said I could keep all of the Law. I know that I don’t have to keep it through the saving blood of Jesus. I know I am under grace and that is the only way to be saved. I am a wretched sinner just as everyone else here and by no means think of myself as higher or more holy than anyone here.
    That doesn’t change what the law is and how it is the righteous standard we should want to strive for out of an obedient heart.
    1 John 3:4
    “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
    I am sure you would say that a Christian should want to obey and follow God out of a changed heart, out of a reverence and love for Him.
    Romans 3:31
    “ Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
    Romans 6:15
    “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
    Romans 7:12-14
    “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

    I think it is quite ironic that you could read the Law of God written in the Torah, know Jesus kept it perfectly in your place, knowing that the transgression of the Law is the very definition of sin, and willingly choose to ignore that Law. Every time we sin we strike another nail into our Messiah. I do it every day as well as you, but I don’t choose to purposely ignore the sins I commit, and I strive to obey God because I love Him and am so grateful for what He has done for me.

    Do you really think that God’s Torah are man-made laws? The Law that God gave to Moses was not made by man, it was written by God. And Jesus said to keep it!

  18. messianic says:

    Matthew 5:17-20
    “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
    John 14:15
    “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
    John 15:10
    “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

    I am not under condemnation of the law because I choose to follow God’s Holy ways.

    All of the early followers of Jesus were Jewish, Jesus was Jewish, they lived Jewish lives and kept the Jewish Law. The NT church was a sect of Judaism that believed in Jesus as the Messiah. They called themselves ‘The Way’. (Act 9:2, Act 19:23, Act 24:14, Act 24:22)They went to the synagogues right along side their Jewish brothers. They were Jewish in every way. Just because the church today has been severed from their roots through history and what we call Judaism today has rejected their Messiah doesn’t make the roots any less Jewish!
    Romans 11:18
    “do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”

    A few other great verses:
    1 John 2:3
    “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”
    1 John 2:4
    “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
    1 John 3:24
    “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

  19. messianic says:

    1 John 5:2-3
    “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

    This will be my last post on here as I can see I am not really welcome. It is sad that Christians who preach to seek out truth are not willing to examine their own traditions of men against the Bible. I do hope and pray that each and every one of you who read my posts choose to examine the Word of God for yourselves. Below are a quick list of websites for falcon mostly that show both sides of the torah debate.

    For:
    http://cmf.site40.net/index.html
    http://torahforchristians.blogspot.com/
    http://www.torahresource.com/
    Against:
    http://www.ukapologetics.net/Jesusandthelaw.html
    http://www.broadcaster.org.uk/section2/transcript/lawsummary.htm
    (I actually searched for quite awhile and didn’t find very much info on this, you can find sites on specifics, like should Christians keep the sabbath, or passover, but an overall argument from Christians on Messianic Judaism was hard to find, good luck! I did find quite a few sites written by Jews stating that Messianic Judaism was a cult because they accept Jesus as Messiah.)

  20. falcon says:

    The topics we discuss here have been thrashed out at some time during the last 2,000 years or so. We have here a picture in our discussions of a cult of people who deny the deity of Jesus, the completeness of His sacrifice on the cross and for a little distinctive flavor, a belief that they are going to become gods.
    We also have representation from a sect that wants to maintain (in some particular way) the traditions and Law of the ancient Jews.
    I went out and took a quick look at how the Church and various theological traditions treat this latter subject. It seems just about every group and person from Thomas Aquainis and the Catholic church to Reformed Theologians have had something to say about the Jewish Law and Christianity. So the topic has been around since the first century.
    It seems, however, that the first century church really took care of the controversy because there wasn’t a whole lot of traction for the movement as time went by. So some folks are making a modern “discovery” of all of this and it provides a structure for their life and faith. It gives them something to do and to feel special. There’s a certain amount of “we’ve found the truth” and “we are right” attitude going on with this and various other groups both within and outside of Christianity.
    To any of the lurkers here who might be getting a little confused by all of this let me just advise this:
    Receiving Christ’s finished work on the cross through faith and applying it to our life is all that is necessary for salvation. Within this, of course, is the rejection of sin and the transformation of our lives by the Holy Spirit. The life we then lead is by the power of the Holy Spirit and the continuing cleansing of our sin by the blood of Christ.
    Some how this is not enough for some people as they seek to diminish, add to, and/or place burdens on people that steals the joy God intended for us to have as we rest assured that He has done what needs to be done to secure our salvation.

  21. Andy Watson says:

    messianic pharisee,

    You know what I feel like in stating what I did to you? Pity and sadness. You are a very confused individual and it’s sad that the Mormon missionary kids put you in this knot with their one-liners that they learned at MTC in “happy valley”. The Mormons want to keep the law and it appears that you do too. Well, get after it and let us all know daily how that is going for you. I would recommend that you re-direct your Judaic law inspiration and go to the Jewish websites and witness to the Jews about the Messiah that they reject instead of waving your Pharisaic finger at the Christians over here because we don’t see eye-to-eye with your ridiculous attempts of wanting to go in reverse back to Judaic law that none of us want to live under nor have to.

    Every waking moment of my life in service and obedience to the Savior is out of gratitude because of his mercy and grace towards me. I am a scumbag in the Father’s sight outside of Christ in my works and vain attempts at law keeping in total (Romans 3:10-12; Isaiah 64:6).

    Sharon, great article! I won’t hijack this thread any longer with this nonsense.

  22. messianic says:

    Andy-

    I am not confused in the bit. You might want to think that I was deceived by the young Mormon’s comment, but you are wrong. I said that incident turned on a light, but I searched out scripture and studied and learned while in much prayer. I didn’t come to my conclusions on a whim. And I started out saying the very same things that you are saying.

    1 John 5:2-3
    “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

    This will be my last post on here as I can see I am not really welcome. It is sad that Christians who preach to seek out truth are not willing to examine their own traditions of men against the Bible. I do hope and pray that each and every one of you who read my posts choose to examine the Word of God for yourselves. Below are a quick list of websites for falcon mostly that show both sides of the torah debate.

    For:
    http://cmf.site40.net/index.html
    http://torahforchristians.blogspot.com/
    http://www.torahresource.com/
    Against:
    http://www.ukapologetics.net/Jesusandthelaw.html
    http://www.broadcaster.org.uk/section2/transcript/lawsummary.htm
    (I actually searched for quite awhile and didn’t find very much info on this, you can find sites on specifics, like should Christians keep the sabbath, or passover, but an overall argument from Christians on Messianic Judaism was hard to find, good luck! I did find quite a few sites written by Jews stating that Messianic Judaism was a cult because they accept Jesus as Messiah.)

  23. kylyo21 says:

    Hi Olsen:
    ‘Why does God favor some people? The Bible is filled with examples- Enoch, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Elijah, Joseph, Israel as a whole, the widow donating her mite etc. etc. The list is pages long. Why does he punish others?’

    Because He does and has right to. What’s the point?

    ‘Do people really think God sees no difference between two such imaginary people?’

    To what end, I don’t see what you are trying to prove here. In the big picture it doesn’t matter. So if I say yes how would you respond? And if I say no how would you respond?

    I really want to understand why you want to make this point. Are you just trying to make this point so BY’s statement is more palpable? My LDS buddy does the same thing with the LDS attack on denominations. Always saying how confusing they are and how bad it is.

    The thing is he has NEVER wrestled through that. Denominations have never been confusing to him, he has just been told they are and read how JS was confused by them, so he goes along.

    Seems like you are doing this here. Have you ever struggled with this doctrine of spilling blood? Is it precious to you? Does it make you love God more? Why do you want it to be accepted by us that it is reasonable? Just to save face of BY?

  24. Olsen Jim says:

    kylyo,

    My questions were in response to the claim by EVs that there is no difference between sinners- we are all lumped together as law-breakers- that all sin is the same. In other words, sin is sin, and breaking one seemingly small law makes a person just as guilty in degree as a murderer.

    In my opinion, that is not correct. My point was that there is in fact degrees of sin. I don’t claim to be less of a sinner than anybody. But I maintain that some sins are worse than others.

    And that was the point of asking if God favors some people and punishes others- I was showing that God does actually discriminate between types of sin. Nobody has gone without sinning (other than Christ), yet God blesses some and punishes others.

    Make sense?

    The point is that there is a sin that is so heinous that the closest one can come to repenting of is to offer his or her own life.

  25. jackg says:

    OJ,

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt and not charge you with wanting to be better than others. It’s just that I see the Mormon system as doing that by assigning a measure to sins.

    As for your Mormon faith, I have dismissed it. I used to embrace it as you do, but thanks be to God, He showed me the Truth about Mormonism. He’s showing you the truth, OJ, through the writings of those on this blog.

    I think you are losing sight of this topic. It is not about a legal system and what they do with criminals. We are talking about the power of God, through the Work and Person of Jesus Christ, to redeem sinners by shedding His blood for them if they confess their sins and repent. Mormonism teaches that the blood of Jesus Christ is not sufficient to redeem certain sinners. You want us to believe that some sinners need to spill their own blood in order to receive redemption. I believe this shows a sad misunderstanding of the grace and mercy of God, and the purpose of God coming into the world, taking on the form of a man, and being obedient to death on a cross.

    Regarding laying down one’s life for friends, I don’t see the passage you reference as having anything to do with the blood atonement doctrine taught by BY.

    Peace…

  26. kylyo21 says:

    ‘The point is that there is a sin that is so heinous that the closest one can come to repenting of is to offer his or her own life.’

    ah okay, I see what you are saying now thanks. I believe others have discussed this already above so I’ll leave it at that.

  27. jackg says:

    messianic,

    Maybe we believe the same, but just express it differently. We are free from the Law, which means that we are not bound by the Law. We will not be judged by the Law, because we are justified by our faith in Jesus Christ. Are we agreeing so far? We will strive, as you say, to keep the Law (are we understanding the Law as the love commands?) as our response to God’s grace in our lives and not as a way to earn anything. Are we agreeing so far? My view is the Wesleyan view, which is expressed thusly: We are commanded to be perfect, and perfection can be attained in this life. The question is, what do we mean when we talk about being perfect? Is it about being perfect in what we do? No. Is it about being perfect in how we love? Yes. The chapter 5 Matthew passage that Spencer Kimball erroneously translates is within the context of loving our enemies. God is perfect in loving His enemies, because while we were still enemies to Him, He died for us. We are talking about perfect love, which is the root of the fruit of the Spirit. Our motives can be perfect even if our behaviors aren’t. I desire to keep the Law even though I am not bound by it. Keeping the Law reveals that I am truly a believer in Jesus Christ–it doesn’t earn me anthing. Does that make sense? Is that how you see it?

    Do you also see that Mormons try to use our belief in justification by faith as license to sin? I get that from them all the time.

    Trying to understand you…
    Peace…

  28. Okie says:

    Andy, thank you for your comments to messianic. God bless you for them. AMEN.

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