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Blood Atonement

Blood Atonement. A doctrine that stems from the belief that the blood of Christ does not cleanse all sins; therefore, one who sins a sin beyond the cleansing power of Christ must atone for his own sins by having his blood shed. While current Mormon leaders may deny the blunt description of this practice as taught by their predecessors, tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that “man may commit certain grievous sins–according to his light and knowledge–that will place him beyond the reach of the atoning blood of Christ. If then he would be saved, he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone–so far as in his power lies–for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail…. Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that men may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:134, 135).

In Christianity, blood atonement is Christ’s death on the cross as the Great Sacrifice that provides cleansing for all mankind who place their trust in Him. The Bible maintains that the blood of Christ is powerful enough to cleanse from all sin. First John 1:9 reads, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

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