Have you read this part of the Unity Book lately? Have you read it often? More than one third of our Unity Book is devoted to Brother Carter’s addresses, “The Atonement” and “Isaiah 53”, the first delivered in Melbourne and the second in Sydney. Both addresses were delivered in the major centres and no doubt had been given many times before in America and England. They are available in audio format but each time the addresses were given they varied a little in content.

They represent the outcome of much careful study and meditation and they present us with the very essence of Brother Carter’s understanding of the Atonement. The beauty of them is that they are separate from the matters of debate and controversy and my memory of them, having heard them both, is that they were received with much spiritual pleasure, for they go to the very kernel of why Christ had to suffer and die and be raised for our justification.

Four areas stand out in the first address:

  1. The nature of sin and how it becomes part of us when we practise it
  2. The figure of metonymy in regard to sin, rather than always using a literal application
  3. How God is both just and the justifier through Christ
  4. Overcoming through faith by being crucified with Christ.

We are much enriched by understanding these topics. Since the 1960s we have seen sin-addiction increase in a world which too often enters into our houses through the media and imperceptibly deceives us, especially the young, with time-consuming pleasures seemingly innocuous but God displacing. The so called “two aspects of sin” are much clarified when “metonymy” is recognised (where “sin” is used but stands instead for its causes or its consequences). How much arguing about words to no profit is saved! The explanation about God’s righteousness being shown in the atonement became part of the Unity Statement. I have never forgotten the link our brother made with Jesus’ words to John at his baptism, “Suffer it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” There is no better summary of the import of the Atonement than the fourth point – to share in the very crucifixion by being crucified with Christ.

The address on Isaiah 53 is, as Brother Carter tells us, both an exposition and a meditation; so it is not something to be read once at speed. There are many ideas presented which should be followed up by careful study and prayerful meditation. The aim of the talk is: “that our appreciation of it (Chapter 53 / the Atonement) may be enlarged, our spiritual understanding deepened and our hearts more aglow in response to the wonderful things that God has done in Jesus Christ our Lord”. Having considered the historical background of the chapter, our brother goes on with a verse by verse study from chapter 52:13 to the end of chapter 53.

I have read this study several times over the years and always finish it with a feeling of satisfaction that our Father should, 700 years before Christ, inspire His prophet to pen such remarkable words. They not only portray the future but they impinge on so many of our questions:

  • Why was it that the future king should be despised and rejected by his own nation?
  • Why was he esteemed a leper and then treated as a common criminal?
  • How did he bear our infirmities and our iniquities?
  • Why could no man but the servant, the arm of the Lord, do this?

The questions are myriad and the answers are spiritually enlightening.

Brother Carter’s final remarks are worth quoting, “Perhaps we have been able to suggest a few lines of thought in connection with this very wonderful prophecy. If it humbles our pride as we see God’s work in Christ Jesus; if it makes our hearts glow at the wonder of His grace, in providing such a one for our sins, surely the Word of God has not been written in vain.”