JJ: John, I need to stay on topic here as much as possible, and it would almost take a book to completely answer your questions, so I'll have to give you a Reader's Digest version for now and hopefully I can cover it more later.
John asks: "What, exactly should the consequences be? Certainly, we must have uniform justice. There must be a master list where we could look up a violation, and find the corresponding consequence. What a huge list that would be. For instance, take just one type of violation: lying. That would have to be in there. But wait, not all lying is equal. As I think of all the things I have lied about, they range from the trivial 'white lies' to some real whoppers. Certainly the consequence would vary depending on exactly what I was lying about, and the hurt or damage it caused others. Such a book of consequences would need to be infinite in size to cover all permutations and situations of all violations."
JJ: The consequences are exactly as the scriptures say:
"He (Christ) shall reward every man according to his works." (Matt 16:27)
And what does "according to our works" mean?
The scriptures says:
"But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." (2 Cor 9:6)
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Gal 6:7)
If you lie, you will synchronistically encounter people in this life or the next that will lie back to you with the same intensity with which you lied. This cycle will continue until you cease to lie.
There does not have to be a large book of consequences for lies and other errors any more than you have to have a large book of instructions of steering corrections necessary to drive across town. After a couple miles driving you have corrected your course hundreds of times but writing a book of instructions concerning every correction would be silly. The corrections are built into you and happen automatically when the goal is in mind. Even so are the causes created by lying stored in the Mind of God and returned in kind automatically without anyone having to make tabulations.
John continues with: "Who benefits from the consequences? Let's go back to the lying example. Let's say I lied about you, and spread hurtful gossip that caused you embarrassment. Let's say we looked in the big book and it said, '37 lashings.' Who benefits? Does my sore back remove your embarrassment? No. Does it cure me of lying? Not necessarily. So, without consequences, laws would be meaningless, BUT it appears the consequences themselves can be meaningless."
JJ: The problem with this example is that it is not a consequence of kind. I do not even think they punish liars this severely in Moslem countries. 37 lashes would be overkill and an unjust punishment merely causes pent up hostility which causes greater future problems whereas a just consequence leaves the perpetrator with an inward witness that he deserved what he received and will often benefit from it.
A just consequence will indeed cure one from lying. Many of us are thick-headed and have to suffer the same consequence dozens of times before we learn, but eventually we do indeed learn.
The liar is the main beneficiary of the natural consequences of his lying, but his circle of associates also benefit.
John: "Let's do one more type of consequence. Exile. What if we had multiple kingdoms, each with their own set of laws? Let's say we were living in a kingdom that did not allow lying, and the above example happened. What would the consequence be? I would be required to relocate to one of the kingdoms whose laws allowed lying. Who benefits? Does my leaving remove your embarrassment? Yes and no. No, it wouldn't change what already happened (but then, nothing would). Yes, it would at least prevent me from embarrassing you in the future. Does my relocation cure me of lying? Not necessarily, but at least I am no longer in violation of law in my new kingdom."
JJ: I'm not sure what this has to do with anything.
John: "In speaking of karma he says: The theory is that eventually we will clear our karmic debt, and be able to move on. However, given the natural tendencies and imperfections of man, I believe the reality for most would be quite different. Certainly God could come up with a better way?"
JJ: What better way is there than to learn from experience -- to experience the effects of our own causes so that we may become a master of causes as was the Christ? We may be imperfect, but all of us are capably of paying of debt. I have written much previously about how this debt is paid off. One can pay off several lifetimes of debt in one lifetime through selfless service. Just like we can indeed perfectly pay off a bank loan despite our imperfections in earning money, even so can we perfectly pay off our karma. We can more than pay it off and start accumulating a positive balance rather than a negative.
"And every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour." (1 Cor 3:8)
Now to put your words in a nutshell you tell us that Jesus came along and suffered for our sins and this created an atonement which removes cause or karma.
This is not what the scriptures say, my friend. No where in the scriptures does it say that the atonement removed any Cause or Karma. Where do you get such an idea?
Cause cannot be removed by anyone -- not even God, for to remove cause is to remove all creation as it says in the Book of Mormon concerning the idea that duality could be suspended: "there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away." (2 Nephi 2:13)
Remove karma and you remove duality, remove duality and all things vanish away.
Concerning our debts or Karma, Jesus said:
"Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." (Matt 5:26)
But, you say, Jesus paid the uttermost farthing for us and fulfilled the law with an infinite atonement.
But did He? Is that what the scriptures really say?
Here is a scripture relating to the fate of those who did receive the atonement of Jesus:
7 "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kind reds, and tongues, and nations.
8 "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
9 "If any man have an ear, let him hear.
10 "He that leader into captivity shall go into captivity: he that skillet with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."
Here we are told that power is given to the Beast to make war with the saints and overcome them. We saw that this was true in the time of Christ. If anyone received an atonement it would have been the Twelve Apostles, yet all but John were killed with the sword or other means. Thousands of others suffered brutal painful deaths.
Why did they suffer so?
The scripture plainly tells us that there is a reason they must have patience and faith. It explains here that the beast has such power over them because of this principle: "He that leader into captivity shall go into captivity: he that skillet with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."
Now keep in mind that this is a New Testament scripture given after the Atonement had been made.
Does it say that the one who kills with the sword will be killed with the sword -- except for those who have had an atonement?
It gives no exception to the rule, but makes a point blank statement.
Those who were the early Christian Saints being put to death by the Beast, which was Rome, were given into his power because in past lives they themselves were the perpetrators of atrocities. In the past these saints had put others in prison and to death with the sword and were in that life suffering the consequences of their action and therefore had to have patience and faith in their sufferings.
Question: If the Atonement removed the results of karma then why did those who had received the atonement continue to receive results of karma?
I know you revere [the Mormon prophet] Joseph Smith as a man who was righteous and received an atonement; yet he was tarred and feathered, kidnapped, placed in jail and finally killed all as a result of cause and effect. Why did not the Atonement protect him from this karma which you say should not exist?
If the atonement does not remove karma which is cause and effect, then what does it do?
The atonement removes guilt, and guilt often has more to do with imagined causes rather than real causes.
One always feels guilt when he violates the commandments of his religion, no matter which one that may be. Judaism was a religion with a great number of laws, most of them manmade and there probably was not a Jew in the days of Jesus who did not suffer some guilt for some violation of what he perceived to be God's will.
If you feel that God has commanded you to not eat peas and you break His will and eat peas then you will feel guilt. Even though the peas cause no real harm you still need the guilt removed. But then if a savior comes along and reveals to you that your guilt is produced by illusion and reveals the truth, the guilt magically disappears. This is how the magic of the Atonement works.
It is best expressed in these words of Jesus: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
The true atonement is a revelation of the truth so illusion passes away and guilt is lifted. Then real progress can be made.
Copyright © 2001 by J.J. Dewey, All Rights Reserved