Wilcox vs. Tolle - Atonement

Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
Post Reply
User avatar
Life_Journey_of_Matt
Posts: 92
Joined: 11 Feb 2013, 12:23
Location: Kansas

Wilcox vs. Tolle - Atonement

Post by Life_Journey_of_Matt » 07 Nov 2013, 17:33

http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1966&view=1

Someone close to me shared this article about the Atonement, which is a step up, IMO, from how many view the atonement. However, I wanted to apply my own personal analysis by contrasting Wilcox's perspective with that of spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle. You can either read any of Tolle's books, or look up some of his talks on Spotify (free) if you would like to decide for yourself if I'm interpreting him properly.

Below I have a few quotes from Wilcox, followed by some of my commentary (infused with Tolle).
We will all be resurrected.
[Ok. I hope so, but it's hypothetical, and what good does claiming to know this do right now?]
We will all go back to God’s presence.
[Isn't "God's presence" something we teach we can experience now, especially in the temple?]
What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.
[This is again hypothetical. It sounds like, "If you don't want to miss out, you better do what we say." The same logic makes men fly planes into buildings. I'm at a point in my life where claims like these just don't mean much to me. It just misses the mark completely.]
Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short.
[There are multiple ways to look at the Atonement, obviously. One is Wilcox's view. We are fallen, we deserve to be punished, but the Atonement is beautiful because Christ took that punishment for us. We just have to decide how big of a pat on the back we want for our realizing this and following his teachings. I think we can see, through Brigham Young's teachings of "Blood Atonement," that this viewpoint can lead to a very barbaric view of existence, with fear and guilt at its root. God had to punish Christ beyond anything we can imagine, for something he didn't do, just to give us hope.

Another view is that of Eckhart Tolle. We are all naturally "at-one" with divinity. We already ARE who we are supposed to be, yet there is an ego (natural man, an attribute of this existence usually taking root in the mind, call it Satan if you will) that develops in each person, clouding the peaceful truth of our existence. Christ's purpose was to show us this, "the way, the truth, and the life," and he did it beautifully. When we are in alignment with our natural state and not the ego, we ARE Love, just as "God is Love". We are charitable, just as Christ is. We don't WANT to do anything to harm ourselves or others. We see this divinity within ourselves, and we realize, "If it's in me, it must be in everyone else." In this way, we start to see ourselves in others. It's no longer a world of sinners and saints, us and them, righteous and wicked. A Muslim won't see an infidel, they'll see a person, much like themselves. The Mormon won't see an Anti-Mormon and vice versa, they'll see a person much like themselves. The arguments become pointless, because they only feed the ego. Why is the second great commandment like unto the first? Because it actually becomes equivalent to it when we realize there is divinity in ourselves and others! As King Benjamin taught, we serve God when we serve others.]


I could probably do more, but I suppose that's good for now.
Last edited by Life_Journey_of_Matt on 07 Nov 2013, 17:43, edited 1 time in total.
"So oft in theologic wars / The disputants, I ween, / Rail on in utter ignorance / Of what each other mean / And prate about an Elephant / Not one of them has seen." -- from "The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe

"The faith that stands on authority is not faith. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

My ongoing story: http://precariousironrod.com/

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16842
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Wilcox vs. Tolle

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Nov 2013, 17:38

I am not a follower of WIlcox, and there are lots of other Mormons who see the Atonement differently than he does. I read the others' writing.

I don't spend any emotional, spiritual or intellectual capital on views I don't accept - once I've read and understood them.

It really is that simple for me.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
turinturambar
Posts: 303
Joined: 29 Mar 2012, 16:03

Re: Wilcox vs. Tolle - Atonement

Post by turinturambar » 08 Nov 2013, 18:38

Life_Journey_of_Matt wrote:
Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short.
[There are multiple ways to look at the Atonement, obviously. One is Wilcox's view. We are fallen, we deserve to be punished, but the Atonement is beautiful because Christ took that punishment for us. We just have to decide how big of a pat on the back we want for our realizing this and following his teachings. I think we can see, through Brigham Young's teachings of "Blood Atonement," that this viewpoint can lead to a very barbaric view of existence, with fear and guilt at its root. God had to punish Christ beyond anything we can imagine, for something he didn't do, just to give us hope.
I have understood this process not as "punishment", but as consequences to eternal laws. This presupposes that sin is that which violates eternal law, and that consequences follow from keeping or violating eternal law. In effect, God isn't dishing out punishment – we are simply experiencing consequences. I guess this is a lot like karma.In this way, Christ isn't being punished for our sins, but rather accepting the consequences of our sin if we fulfill the simple requirements of his Gospel. I don't know how scriptural this is, however.
Another view is that of Eckhart Tolle. We are all naturally "at-one" with divinity. We already ARE who we are supposed to be, yet there is an ego (natural man, an attribute of this existence usually taking root in the mind, call it Satan if you will) that develops in each person, clouding the peaceful truth of our existence. Christ's purpose was to show us this, "the way, the truth, and the life," and he did it beautifully. When we are in alignment with our natural state and not the ego, we ARE Love, just as "God is Love". We are charitable, just as Christ is. We don't WANT to do anything to harm ourselves or others. We see this divinity within ourselves, and we realize, "If it's in me, it must be in everyone else." In this way, we start to see ourselves in others. It's no longer a world of sinners and saints, us and them, righteous and wicked. A Muslim won't see an infidel, they'll see a person, much like themselves. The Mormon won't see an Anti-Mormon and vice versa, they'll see a person much like themselves. The arguments become pointless, because they only feed the ego. Why is the second great commandment like unto the first? Because it actually becomes equivalent to it when we realize there is divinity in ourselves and others! As King Benjamin taught, we serve God when we serve others.
This is very beautiful-- it is simple, pure, and consistent with scriptural teachings about charity, and the nature of God, Christ, and all of us. This deeply touches my heart, and it is something that I can base my life upon. When I ponder on these concepts, I feel that I get in touch with my own spirituality.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

(New Testament | 1 Corinthians 13:2‎)‎

Roy
Posts: 6178
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Wilcox vs. Tolle - Atonement

Post by Roy » 10 Nov 2013, 16:26

Hi Matt,

First Bro. Wilcox's Atonement talk has since been printed in every church magazine except the Friend and is the most viewed talk on the BYU site. I believe that this shows that Mormons are hungry for this type of message.

I believe that when Mormons discuss the Atonement they are walking a pretty fine line. They are trying to explore the joy of mercy and grace and also understand why all the stuff we Mormons do is important in the grand scheme of things.

Perhaps there is an insurmountable dichotomy in the nature of a judgment based upon our works and an atonement. The vision of the three degrees of glory is based upon the judgment of works model (JS even referenced that he was pondering upon this when the vision came).

It seems to me that we often use the atonement as a tool to help us create our "do it yourself" salvation*.

*except that Jesus gave us the critical tool.

I personally believe that this is what happened with Stephen Robinson's book Believing Christ. His book is heavily based on NT and BOM references that provide for a more expansive atonement.

In Bro. Robinson's follow up book he placed so many limitations on his original thesis that it makes me wonder. Was the expansive atonement of the first book seen as dangerous? Was Bro. Robinson criticized/threatened/encouraged into writing a semi-retraction? Was it Bro. Robinson himself that was shocked at how liberal Mormons might see his book as a gateway to no longer being church dependant?

I wrote a review of Following Christ here: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2675

My theory is that to write for an orthodox audience would back you into a corner of salvation predominantly by works from the start.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
Life_Journey_of_Matt
Posts: 92
Joined: 11 Feb 2013, 12:23
Location: Kansas

Re: Wilcox vs. Tolle - Atonement

Post by Life_Journey_of_Matt » 10 Nov 2013, 21:43

Roy wrote:In “Following Christ” Bro. Robinson details how surprisingly easy it is to find yourself in violation of the Gospel Covenant and to have all the promised blessings therein rescinded (or conversely how easy it is to keep the covenant…just swear 100% allegiance to the church in all things and do everything you are asked to do to the best of your ability). This is coupled with an overbearing emphasis that the LDS Church is the Kingdom and that our loyalty to Christ is synonymous with loyalty to the Church
Thanks for sharing that link, Roy. This is precisely the kind of Atonement interpretation that leaves a pit in my stomach.
Roy wrote:My theory is that to write for an orthodox audience would back you into a corner of salvation predominantly by works from the start.
I think I agree with your theory, which saddens me.


I suppose I will continue with the theme of this thread and provide a Tolle perspective on this.
http://youtu.be/M00VLswZdyc?t=29m17s
Jesus said "the kingdom of heaven is within you."
...
I think if he lived nowadays, instead of "kingdom," he would have said, "dimension." And "heaven" refers to a sense of vastness or spaciousness. So if we retranslate the words of Jesus into modern terms [it would be] "the dimension of spaciousness is within you."
...
And then Jesus said — when they asked him, "Where is the kingdom of heaven and when is it going to come?" — he said, "The kingdom of heaven does not come with signs to be perceived. You cannot say, ah, it's over here or look, it's over there, for I tell you the kingdom of heaven is within you."
Basically, LDS Church The Kingdom. I think Tolle would admit the church CAN be a tool to help us find the kingdom of heaven, but the orthodox views described above will only cause many people to continue to feel disconnected.
"So oft in theologic wars / The disputants, I ween, / Rail on in utter ignorance / Of what each other mean / And prate about an Elephant / Not one of them has seen." -- from "The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe

"The faith that stands on authority is not faith. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

My ongoing story: http://precariousironrod.com/

Roy
Posts: 6178
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Wilcox vs. Tolle - Atonement

Post by Roy » 11 Nov 2013, 10:47

Life_Journey_of_Matt wrote:I think Tolle would admit the church CAN be a tool to help us find the kingdom of heaven, but the orthodox views described above will only cause many people to continue to feel disconnected.
I agree with you Matt. I think that the orthodox views wherein God's kingdom is the same thing as the LDS church will disconnect many people. (I have heard multiple times how the church is just too small to be the only game plan God has running.) On the other side, I believe there are many that find comfort in the literalness of the message - that they picked the right ship and need only maintain the course. The question seems to be if the rising generation will be more drawn to universalism or exclusivism. I for one believe the former. Like Senator Reid said about SSM, for his kids and especially his grandkids - this isn't even an issue.

The thing I hate the most is how every discussion on "grace" in the LDS church defines it as the great enabling power. There are some signs that we are moving away from this definition but at such a snails pace as to drive me crazy. I have been amazed at the concept of expansive grace. I have seen it reach individuals that I didn't think could be reached. I have seen people find love, fulfillment, and motivation in it. It saddens me that the LDS definition seems to gut this meaning and reduce it to just another tool in the tool chest. Whoever wrote the Bible dictionary must have been a "hammer" and saw everything as a nail. What an amazing influence it must be to write such a key where people turn for their understandings of gospel definitions. It is to influence the lens through which people interpret the world and their relationship with God.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Post Reply