The Mormon Atonement & the ‘Trap’


I used to believe that I was in debt to my saviour Jesus Christ because of my sins.

I felt shame, guilt & regret for the sins I had committed & for which my saviour had suffered, & in equal measure was immensely grateful for his love & compassion for me when I believed he had suffered for my sins.

When I thought of how I had caused Him pain I sometimes cried tears of regret & gratitude for His divine mediation.

However, once I realised that it is all most probably a fabrication by religion then it all looks so very different.

In my mind now, religion has been devised to give consolation in a miserable world of pain & suffering. Now that we understand more about the natural world & can use science & reason we no longer need to resort to fabricated stories for our psychological & emotional fixes.

Fabricated narratives, no matter how beautiful, are fine as long as we don’t start thinking they are real.

The problem with the Atonement narrative is it creates dependency through generating false feelings of shame, guilt, & regret leading to feelings of reciprocation & debt which bind the believer into serving a fictitious God & the Church.

Once one realises this is all just a malicious myth then one feels a tremendous weight lifted off one’s shoulders.

One feels free! And the world more beautiful!


Here is a short, but brilliant discussion of the mechanism behind the Atonement story by David Sigmon & Jonathan Glass. (Permission has been gladly given by the authors):

David Sigmon:
 I think the whole atonement thing teaches that god is not all-powerful, because he can’t just forgive sins. God has to answer to some higher power that demands justice, and the only way justice can be met apparently is through suffering (either suffering of the sinner or suffering of a mediator but suffering none the less). God appears to be incapable of over-ruling that (that justice be satisfied and it must be through suffering). Or, if god is capable of over-ruling that, he chose not to, and thus chose for his son to suffer excruciating pain and be put to death in a rather gruesome way. How sick and twisted is that? I am glad we humans have the capacity to truly forgive those who trespass us and with true mercy, take from them the need to satisfy justice, and not demand that the only way to satisfy justice is through cruel and unusual punishment.

I’d say that there is no requirement of justice, or an objective morality, and I really don’t think there is a god. On the surface, the Atonement sounds like a wonderful and merciful thing. But, once I really start to think about it, it seems like a trap. It was so liberating to realize that the bind Christianity sets (that one is fallen and helpless and needs to be saved, which salvation can only come through their tribal god) quite probably doesn’t exist. They tell us we have a disease that we didn’t know we had (we are sinful and fallen and need a savior), and they hold the only cure. It is a great marketing technique for a religion, but I am not going to fall for it. I don’t believe sin exists, nor that we are fallen, and I don’t believe there is anything to be saved from.

Jonathan Glass:
“You are in an ancient agricultural society working on your land, enjoying life. One day a stranger comes to you and tells you, to your surprise, that you are heavily in debt to a harsh creditor, which has quite serious penalties for failure. You ask why you don’t remember signing the contract. He says, the creditor has caused you to forget about it. You ask to see the contract, but the stranger tells you that he cannot show it to you. You ask to meet the creditor, but he says he acts for the creditor and the creditor will not meet with you. He alone is the creditor’s agent. 

He says because of the contract you will receive the most marvellous reward, because, by the way, the creditor loves you more than anything and wants the absolute best for you. You ask how there can be a harsh creditor threatening you for failing to honour the contract you don’t remember signing but who still loves you more than anything. The stranger just tells you that business is business, and contract law is contract law.

You ask more about the reward and if you can have it right away. He says that is not possible, you will receive it much later on. You ask to at least see evidence of the reward, but again that is not possible.

You ask what will happen to you if, by chance, you don’t manage to fulfil the contract. The stranger tells you that you will not receive your reward and also it is absolutely certain you will NOT be able to fulfil your part of the contract. You say that’s a bad contract, and he tells you that actually there is a way out. There is a mediator who also really loves you, and who will payout your part of the contract. You say great, and ask to meet with your mediator, but he says he also acts for the mediator and the mediator will not meet with you. He alone is the mediator’s agent. You query the relationship between the creditor, the mediator and the agent. He says they are all pretty close. He warns you to be careful not to upset the creditor cause he’s really hung a few debtors out to dry in the past when they tried stuff.

The stranger/agent explains, the mediator will pay off the creditor but in return you have to strictly follow a code of living that pleases the mediator and the creditor, this includes your style of underwear, the beverages that you can drink, and the number of earrings you can wear. You ask what the creditor has got to do with this now that the debt is paid off, and the stranger says, well, actually he’s still heavily invested in this project.

You ask if maybe you can vary the terms of the existing contract with the creditor instead of using the mediator, and the stranger says, no deal, it’s pretty well set at this stage, it’s got to be the mediator or the whole reward thing won’t work. You say what if I don’t follow what the mediator wants, and the stranger says, well it’s pretty much the penalties for the original contract. You say it sounds like you’re being forced into this deal. He says no, you don’t have to accept the mediator, and you say, well what sort of choice is that? He says you ought to be grateful, as someone once suggested that the creditor could force you to follow the contract and that meant you would have to get the reward. You say well that sounds OK. The stranger says, no, it’s important that you have a choice to accept the mediator and strictly obey him and his agents otherwise what would you have learnt? You aren’t sure.

You ask the stranger to give you some other evidence of the contract, the creditor, the mediator, or even a letter of authority to act as agent for the creditor or mediator.

For your convenience, the stranger says, he has jotted down a number of the critical points on a piece of paper for you, to help you understand the contract and remind you of your debt, and also what the mediator expects from you. You note that the paper has lots of different writing on it and you ask which is the part he wrote. He says as the official agent he has the right to add to it if he wants but it’s pretty well all there from previous agents, so he hasn’t bothered. In fact, he cautions, there’s a lot of stuff in there, written over a long period of time, which may not exactly gel with what he has said, so use a little discretion. He mentions that sometimes agents would write a lot about the office politics of the day and how angry the creditor is and the contract penalties but not much about the mediator and the reward. In fact, he’s got some people working on other material to help you interpret this stuff correctly – so it’s ‘correlated’. Eventually the stranger leaves.

Later on, you discuss this with many of your neighbours, and most of them haven’t heard of such a contract. Many of them doubt the authenticity of the stranger. Some claim they have a similar contract but with a different stranger, and the details vary. Some claim they used to believe in this contract until they found flaws in the stranger’s story and decided they had been deceived. However, there are a very few who do believe in the contract and are endevouring to repay the mediator. In fact, they have this excellent support network where they meet weekly with the stranger to discuss the finer details of the contract, how cool the mediator is, and why it’s important to listen to and obey the agent, oh, and there is also an opportunity to give a regular donation to the agent, on behalf of the mediator, of course.”

David Sigmon:
 Awesome, Jonathan Glass! You illustrated very well what I meant when I said it looks like a trap to me. What folks forget to point out about the “Good News” is that it comes wrapped up in bad news that might not be true at all (i.e., that we are sinners and need an atonement to get right with god). To me, the good news is that we aren’t in any spiritual debt at all and have no need to be saved or reconciled.

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One Response to The Mormon Atonement & the ‘Trap’

  1. Kullervo says:

    I wrote a post a couple of years ago on this–I called it “Aura Salve.” The salesman has to first convince you that you have a disease before he can sell you the cure.

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