Mormonism’s favorite term for Jesus’ sacrifice. They do not limit the atonement to Jesus’ suffering on the cross. They include his bloody sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane. Historically, this is what they emphasize.
Members of the Mormon church refer to the atonement quite often, but they rarely explain it in any detail. Because of this, many Christians have not understood Mormonism’s view of the atonement. Instead, they assume Mormons define it the same as Christians do.
Their understanding, however, is drastically different. They use it in two distinct ways:
- Used very frequently as a reference to Jesus conquering physical death for all people. By conquering physical death, Jesus made it possible for everyone to enter into the presence of Heavenly Father once again. Often left unsaid, however, is that they enter the Father’s presence to be judged. The following quote is more the exception than the rule as it clearly brings in the idea of judgment:“Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ redeems all people from the effects of the Fall. All people who have ever lived on the earth and who ever will live on the earth will be resurrected and brought back into the presence of God to be judged” (True to the Faith, p. 18). However, to stay in his presence and live with him for all eternity, not only must a person receive the temple ordinances, they must also show their worthiness by keeping the commandments.
- At times, it includes the thought of Jesus paying for their sins. Underlying all such references, however, is the thought that they have to pay him back. For a good example, see Boyd K. Packer’s parable of the creditor and debtor. One place this parable is recorded is in the chapter on atonement in Gospel Principles (We refer to the parable in this blog post).
Biblical Christianity teaches that through his voluntary sacrifice, Jesus made payment (atoned) for all sin. Therefore, salvation is free and full in Jesus. No more payments can be made. See Hebrews 10:18.