In the previous post I spoke about the LDS Church’s aversion to the use of the cross. Their explanation for this decision is, in my opinion, rather lacking. I have often wondered if their view of the atonement has any effect upon their decision. One of the primary differences between LDS and Christian theology surrounds exactly where Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins. As Christians, we believe the cross played a central role in the atonement. We approach it with wonder and reverence for it was the instrument by which God chose to redeem mankind. However, in LDS theology the atonement has been partially removed from the cross and placed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Some LDS leaders have even gone so far as to assert the Garden of Gethsemane was the principal place of suffering in the atonement. Here are some quotes by LDS leaders.
“We speak of the passion of Jesus Christ. A great many people have an idea that when he was on the cross, and nails were driven into his hands and feet, that was his great suffering. His great suffering was before he ever was placed upon the cross. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that the blood oozed from the pores of his body.” – President Joseph Fielding Smith
“It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so that all could repent and come to Him.” – The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , 14)
“His [deep] suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He took upon Himself all the sins of all other mortals…” – James E. Foust, Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice
“…that he suffer the pains of all men, which he did, principally, in Gethsemane, the scene of his great agony.” – Marion G. Romney, The Resurrection of Jesus, Ensign May 1982, 6
Could the LDS aversion to the cross be tied to their view of the atonement? Why the focus so much on the Garden of Gethsemane? Nowhere in The Bible does it say the atonement took place principally in Gethsemane. In fact, when The Bible talks about the atonement it almost always speaks directly of the cross. In my opinion, the overt focus on the Garden is not only unbiblical it also diverts one’s attention away from the most important part of Christ’s gift to mankind… His work on the cross. May we always approach it with awe, reverence and wonder!
All praise be to our Savior, God and King Jesus Christ!!