BH Roberts and Prerequisites for Understanding the Atonement

For some people, the concept of the atonement may seem very simple. We all sin, and we will all die. Jesus Christ took care of it. Because of what he did we will all be resurrected, and we can all gain a forgiveness of our sins. Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing.

There is something to admire of the simple faith many believers have in the atonement of Jesus Christ. Even prophets and apostles describe the atonement as being incomprehensible. Accepting the atonement on a simple level, and moving on with life is a nice way to be.

Others desire to contemplate some of the how’s and the why’s of the atonement. And if one asks enough how and why questions, the atonement can get pretty complicated quite quickly.

B.H. Roberts was an early church leader that I have developed some fondness for. He made what I consider valiant attempts at explaining many of the how’s and why’s of Mormon theology. I have been reading bits and pieces of his ambitious book, ‘The Truth, the Way, and the Life’, and he devotes six chapters to the subject of the atonement.

Truman Madsen also appears to be a fan of Roberts. He wrote an article called, ‘BH Roberts: The Book of Mormon and the Atonement‘, where he listed what he called ‘The Presuppositions of Atonement’ which were based on Roberts’ writing. These presuppositions are:

– The self-existence of universal law which prevails in the physical and spiritual realms.

– Violations of law have inescapable and inevitable consequences.

– Suffering is the consequence of violating divine, moral law.

– All attributes of God (including justice and mercy) are perfect and in complete harmony with each other, and with eternal law.

– Since mercy can not rob justice, an atonement was necessary. Those who repent and have a contrite spirit may have the ends of the law answered for them, otherwise justice requires that they should not receive mercy. Jesus willingly became the voluntary Savior.

With these principles serving as a foundation are we better able to understand the atonement? I would like to review and discuss some of Roberts’ thoughts on the atonement over the next few days.

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3 Responses to “BH Roberts and Prerequisites for Understanding the Atonement”


  1. 1 Matt W. June 29, 2007 at 12:54 am

    I’ll look forward to your review Eric. As I think you are aware, i’m a big fan of Widtsoe/Roberts/Madsen on their view of the atonement. Hopefully I will find some time to peak in and read your posts.

  2. 2 Barb July 9, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Thank you for this series. I am saddened by the knowledge that I do not feel as close to Jesus Christ as I did prior to my mission, during my mission, and for a time after my mission. I think it will help to read more about the atonement will help.

  3. 3 Gyptorhootova February 24, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I am necessary wish to find


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