Episode:Evolutionary Religion—Sin and Atonement (Part 6)

From Symmetry of Soul

The custom of sacrifice eventually became associated with the idea of the covenant. At last, the gods were conceived of as entering into real agreements with man; and this was a major step in the stabilization of religion. Law, covenants, took the place of luck, fear, and superstition. In time, the early ideas of ransom, redemption, and covenants evolved into the later-day sacramental services.

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Keywords: Urantia, Religion, Bargaining with God, Prayer, Forgiveness of Sin

Summary by Kermit

Commentary on the Review

We speculated on the possible role of the 4th ER gifts of the spirit ministry of the SoT and universal bestowal of Thought Adjusters in the passing away of practices such as the temple sex rites which met multiple needs of primitive man. The subtle superconscious uplifting influence of these ministries may have contributed to man’s inclination toward higher approaches to religious expression. Lack of extant ancient records might account for the misconception that some of the signal traditions and practices of the Hebrews as recorded in the Old Testament were actually far more common and widespread, e.g., Passover and the story of baby Moses in the basket.

89:8. Redemption and Covenants

This section depicts the growing association of sacrifice with covenant in the place of luck, fear, and superstition in man’s quest for redemption. The movement away from temple harlotry to a dedication to lifelong virginity is described as a moral reaction. This triggered a discussion about the difference between morality and conformity to the mores, as well as distinguishing moral duty to the cosmos from ethical duty to other persons. Our thread continued with recognizing the 5th ER’s challenge to make a further separation between our religious duty to God tied to eternity, and our moral duty to the cosmos of our experience in time, concluding with an acknowledgement of the distinctive aspects of Father and Mother Deity. It is sad to record that current day religion does not have the conceptual framework or vocabulary available to express these essential facets of Deity.

Our author describes the progressive downstepping of the extreme spectacle of human sacrifice into a proliferation of manifold milder expressions of the sacrificial drive. Many such traditions mentioned in our narrative are still with us and in some cases enjoying a resurgence, e.g., tattoos and body piercing. The primitive belief in the greater efficacy of older rituals with older tools can be observed in some of these contemporary customs.

For the third straight week we entertained the inquiries of a caller taking issue with 5th ER’s enhanced ideas of God’s Love and God’s Law. Our caller exemplifies modern man’s struggle to find a God of love in the midst of pervasive guilt fostered by Old Testament notions of our religious heritage.

Because of man’s proclivity to anthropomorphize his gods, he was unable to conceive of a dependable Deity until he himself became more dependable, illustrating how the bottom up quest for God is based on man’s limitations. Yet, bottom up is still up, and the evolutionary process causes us to progress in spite of ourselves.

The section concludes with a description of primitive prayer as substituting bargaining, pleading, and persuasion in the place of things more tangible and costly in the pursuit of prosperity. We find another instance of “sad to record” in the recognition that prayers have not much changed from back in the day. With the awareness of the inner life being something greater than feelings about the outer life, the 5th ER directs us to attempt the transcendence of feelings to the experience of the love of God in genuine WORSHIP—the realization of divine fellowship.

89:9. Sacrifices and Sacraments

This section succinctly exposes the roots of Christian theology in man’s evolution of increasing abstraction from cannibalism and human sacrifice, to more symbolic sacrificial practices in sacrament. This ceremonial evolution has exerted a mighty social influence. And today it is predominantly in the social realm that we find the bulk of humanity seeking religious satisfactions.

Though Christianity today is burdened with the doctrine of the atonement, Paul attempted to make an end to the doctrines of redemption through human or animal sacrifice, declaring Christ as the final and all-sufficient human sacrifice to forever satisfy the divine Judge. The cult of sacrifice has evolved into the cult of sacrament. While blood is still a foundational element enabling salvation, at least it is figurative, symbolic, and mystic rather than literal.

89:10. Forgiveness of Sin

Modern man transcending sacrifice must find new techniques of achieving the self-consciousness of salvation. The olden ways of securing such a consciousness find no resonance in modern man’s intellect. The 5th ER gives us an enhanced perspective in our quest for securing the sorely needed peace and consolation for mind and soul.

First, sin must be redefined as deliberate disloyalty to Deity, and second, feelings of guilt need be recognized as the consciousness of violation of the mores and separated from the idea of sin. This stands in stark contrast with the declaration in Paul’s letter to the Romans to the effect that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Transgression of taboo is not sin and does not separate you from the love of God.

The possibility of the recognition of guilt demonstrates man as a transcendent creature. Herein the potential for greatness and glory are activated, stimulating man to faith conquests, elevating the mortal mind to superb levels of moral nobility, cosmic insight, and spiritual living. Meanings of human existence are thereby translated from temporal to eternal, and values enhanced from human to divine.

Confession of sin, recognition of the nature of sin essential as it is, does not mitigate the resulting space-time consequences. Confession in sincerity and humility is not merely a ritual act but the supplying of favorable conditions for the restoration of the creature’s loyalty relations with God. Thus, think of forgiveness in a new way as patient love which never wanes for God’s love is changeless.

Notes by Brad

  • How is a "moral reaction" possible in primitive times?
    • Like we've seen here before (as with worship), even a primitive expression of something is honored by the revelators.
    • Approach the book with truth first and this won't be such a stumbling block.
    • Early differentiation of ethical duty from moral duty is honored by the reelator.
    • Though go further: what's the difference between
      • religious duty: Duty to God, tied to eternity
      • moral duty: duty to the COSMOS (not God) tied to time. God the Mother.

  • Tattoos and scarring are a primitive pointer to striving for eternity--things that last.
  • The past is romanticized with the Golden Age.

  • Concerning primitive forms of prayer...
    • Saints often become "mini Universal Fathers." What you need is true providence, God the Mother in a truer sense.
    • Do you think prayer is about health, wealth, and life? That's early prayer. All outer life stuff.

  • The inner life isn't about the outer life. It isn't about feelings, or your feelings about the out life.
    • So what is in the inner life then?? What is transcendent of these things?
    • Love.

  • Feelings of guilt? Not necessarily sin! In fact--benefit of the doubt--it's unlikely you have sin in your mind right now.
    • Genuine sin is transcendent of God--it goes to Deity.
    • Confession of sin is not about uttering theologic words. It's sincere recognition. Favorable conditions.