Thursday, October 29, 2015

"The Sacrament and the Atonement" By Elder James J. Hamula

Find this talk here.


  • I think it's interesting that in the Luke 22 version of the last supper, Christ passes the wine before the bread. The Matthew, Mark, and 3 Nephi versions all do it in the customary order, and John doesn't seem to talk about it (or perhaps I missed it).
  • "To those who would so signify and conduct their life, spiritual death would 'pass over' them, and eternal life would be assured." It's the meal of the passover that signifies that passing over, not the bread and wine. The only promise mentioned in the sacramental prayer is to have Christ's spirit to be with us.
  • It's interesting that so many believers insist on an ordinance similar to the Last Supper, because the scriptures command that we always observe to do it, but we ignore feast days and sabbaths that come with similar commandments, thinking they've been done away with the rest of the Law of Moses.
  • It might be sort of a stretch to suggest that by taking the sacrament "we acknowledge" our own resurrection.
  • "small cup of water" is interesting. The scriptural accounts of the sacrament that talk about the amounts agree that the partakers ate until they were filled.
    • Some have suggested that the bitterness of red wine is symbolic of the bitterness of the crucifixion. I don't know about that, and I do know that today's D&C 27 says "it mattereth not" what we use. But I think we miss something by using little morsels of bread and tiny thimbles of tap water.
    • The Church History Museum has a display of the last supper which is almost laughable. Glass glasses filled with water, but laid on a red tablecloth so they kind of look like there is something red in them.
  • Now he mentions the sequence of bread followed by water, which again reminds me of Luke's unconventional ordering. But I think he might be describing an important symbol I hadn't considered, in that part of his discussion.
    • I'm certainly willing to believe that our modern version of Luke simply gets the order wrong.
  • He doesn't explicitly reject the commonly preached doctrine that we need to struggle against our own sins, ourselves, but he comes close, and it's very nice. The scriptures make clear that though we shouldn't necessarily ignore our weakness, and certainly shouldn't simply embrace it and allow it to control us, we're expected not to conquer our weakness ourselves but to come to Christ and let Him make weak things strong for us.
    • Later he falls back to the "we've gotta overcome" Kool-Aid.
  • "This is the doctrine of Christ" (that we repent and be baptized)  Scripturally, our insistence on other ordinances and nuances of doctrine are not the doctrine of Christ, and if we really insist on them, we're preaching "more or less than [His gospel]" and are condemned for doing so.
  • The Church talks about the "Spirit of Christ" as distinct from the "Holy Ghost" or "Holy Spirit" (these last two are interchangeable in modern Church parlance). The sacrament prayers are pretty clear that it's "His Spirit", that is, Christ's Spirit we're always to have with us if we keep our end of the bargain, which contradicts the common assertion that everyone has Christ's Spirit.
  • Nowhere do the scriptures back up the Church's insistence on having the sacrament only when a bishop is around to bestow his favor on it. It's interesting that the sacrament, which everyone agrees is so important, will get you excommunicated if you do it without the bishop's say so.

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