Atonement Without Alienation

Christadelphian Advocate  

July 1907


Bro. A stands off and says, “I will not fellowship you because you do not believe that Jesus’ death atoned for his own sinful flesh.”  Bro. B replies, “I am willing to belive that Jesus’ death did atone for his own sinful flesh, but not because his flesh was alienated.”  “Very well,” says A, “I accept of that, and let us reunite.”  “All right,” says B, “united we are.”


Now will Bro. A and Bro. B suffer a word of exhortation?  Will you just think for a moment, and ask yourselves the question, Is it reasonable to believe that Jesus was required to atone by death for that which was not alienated?  Just think a little about the word “atone.”  It means, as you well know, at-one.  Now if one thing is made at-one with another, are the two things at-one before they are made at-one?  If something must be done to make two things at-one, does it not follow that before they are made at-one they must be (let me coin a word) at two?  It they are “at two” to the extent of requiring the shedding of blood to make them “at-one,” does not the fact of the necessity of shedding blood make it certain that sin is an element in the case in some manner?  Now our coined word “at-two” in this connection, where sin is the cause must mean that estrangement exists, and what is this but alienation?


We commend the disposition to hold up Christ in the lofty sphere to which he morally belongs; but this has been confounded with the physical state or nature by the Catholics to the extent of driving them to the theory of immaculate conception.  If Christ’s nature was sin’s flesh it was sinful nature, and until God’s justice in condemning sinful flesh is acknowledged in some manner, the condemnation must remain; and what is this condemnation but alienation?  God had arranged for babes in securing the benefit of these provisional means of atonement; and these served their provisional and conditional purpose until the subject could act voluntarily and intelligently, sincerely and faithfully.  The law of Moses was complied with in the parental representative aspect, and the law of the spirit of life was complied with in the personal, voluntary and faithful intelligent act of the subject.


If Jesus was an exemplification of the powers by which God and man were to enter into a state of at-one-ment, He must begin along side of man in his non-at-one-ment state, and from there pass through the process to the at-one-ment state.  Since there is no immortal soul, no separate spirit entity, a babe born of a woman has no personality, no identity, except as a little body of flesh and blood.  Since there is no flesh and blood except that which comes from Adam and Eve in a sin-stung state, Jesus began his personal existence in this state.  At the start there was no immortal soul there, no spirit entity, no character to constitute an identity, or a personality; it was entirely a personal being of sinful flesh, unfit for the kingdom of God; and God had so arranged that before He could be just and yet justify, or allow a sin-flesh person to become at-one with Him, there must be acknowledgment of His justice in condemning sinful flesh, which acknowledgement is made by compliance with the law wherein are the types.


Now do not allow sophistry to drive you away from this by saying that an infant is only a little corrupt body of flesh that cannot be considered in the case; for this is a reflection upon God’s requirements of careful attention to the rites of the law in relation to infants.  They were a “known quantity” to the extent of making their lives dependent upon the observance by the parents of carefully revealed and strictly enforced laws; and these laws had to be complied with in the case of Jesus, beginning with the legal cleansing of the mother after the birth of the child, the circumcision of the child, and “continuing in all things to do them” until the child reaches the years when he could recognize the law of the spirit of life, when he would pass to a higher plane, reaching the climax when the flesh is literally purged of sin and immortalized.  Viewing Jesus as passing through this process, yet absolutely free from any personal act of sin, we can see how he was practically “the way the truth and the life.”  Let unity take place on this basis, and there will be no compromise of truth.”


Thomas Williams