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A Close Look at Scriptural Teachings Regarding Jesus Feeling Our Pains as Part of His Atonement

TitleA Close Look at Scriptural Teachings Regarding Jesus Feeling Our Pains as Part of His Atonement
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsWoodward, Scott
JournalBYU Studies
KeywordsAtonement; Canon; Doctrine

The intention of specifically probing the scriptural basis of this empathetic Atonement concept is to probe its doctrinal reliability. In a General Authority training meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley explained the primacy of canonized scripture in determining doctrine when he stated, “When all is said and done, the test of the doctrine lies in the standard works of the Church.” Our canonized scriptures, he declared in another training to Church leaders, “provide the standard by which all gospel doctrine is measured.” Elder D. Todd Christofferson affirmed that “the scriptures are the touchstone for measuring correctness and truth.”

General Authorities have consistently taught that even their words are to be measured against the standard works. We “are not bound to accept . . . as truth,” President Harold B. Lee explained on this matter, anyone’s teaching “that is not substantiated by the standard Church works”—meaning the scriptures—“regardless of his position in the Church.” The doctrinal teachings of General Authorities, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith confirmed, should be accepted as true “only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.”...

Such repeated teachings of Church leaders on the doctrinal primacy of scripture represent both a challenge and an invitation to all gospel students to confirm the validity of doctrinal concepts through sound scriptural substantiation. For the purposes of this paper, therefore, only canonized scripture will be considered in this doctrinal analysis without reference to teachings of General Authorities, some of whom, I acknowledge, have taught the empathetic Atonement idea. It should not be understood that this paper is intended to pit canonized scripture against the teachings of any General Authorities. Instead, the purpose of this paper is to focus keenly on a thorough exegetical examination of what the scriptures themselves say on this matter in order to carefully test, measure, and weigh the doctrinal reliability of this concept. This we will do below by carefully examining the scriptural passages most frequently invoked to support it.