Friday Reflections on Mormonism and the Cross

This past Sunday, which was Palm Sunday (though so far as I know, no one in our ward made mention of that fact), my second daughter, Caitlyn, was taught in her Primary class that the Atonement which we accept Jesus Christ to have performed for us–the Atonement which we, along with the rest of the Christian world, particularly honor with our commemoration of His resurrection every Easter–was performed in the Garden of Gethsemane, not (or at least not primarily) upon the Cross. Her teacher’s comments, at least as she relayed them to me, might be subject to some quibbling, but in my experience at least, they reflect an easily substantiated reality: in our scripture study, in our worship services, in our rhetoric and in our art, Mormons–at least the American Mormons I know best–do tend to emphasize what we understand to be Jesus’s active obedience to the Father, His conscious, brave, loving (and presumably free) choice to take upon Himself an awesome burden of sin while praying in the Garden, rather than His passive submission to the deprivation, humiliation, and death upon the Cross which followed.
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