Being a contemporary with the achievement of unity in Australia, one can testify to the sense of relief and joy that swept through our Australian community in the year 1958. Never has it been more necessary to remind those, born after the time, of the precious nature of that achievement, and of the cost in terms of time and nervous energy expended toward the goal.

Paul states that “Christ Jesus came into world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15 ) and the purpose of his sacrifice was that his disciples may be made one with him, as he is one with his Father (John 17:20,21). However, instead of uniting us, we have been plagued with divisions almost from our inception regarding the subject of the Atonement! Despite our Australian agreement, some of those divisions still exist in the ecclesial world, and have been effectively dividing our brothers and sisters for over one hundred years.

The doctrine of the Atonement is essentially simple, yet profound in its implications. Unfortunately subtle theories have arisen to complicate the “simplicity that is in Christ”, creating confusion and heartache where there should have been unity in the love of God, demonstrated in the giving of His Son (2 Cor 11:3).

All such false notions on the subject fail to comprehend the representative nature of our Lord’s offering, and controversies have raged over the meaning of words, especially those in clauses five to 12 of the BASF. What was meant by “… a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being”?

Some said that there were no physical consequences as a result of the transgression in Eden, Adam being as much “very good” after his sin as he was before it. They deduce from this that Jesus, being sinless, was unrelated to his own sacrifice, that the need was all ours, making him a substitute, not the representative of the race he came to save.

Others said that the word “defiled” and “physical law of his being” were to be understood as identifying the nature of Adam, after transgression, as a secondary aspect of sin, requiring atonement equally with his moral sin. Again this detracts from the representative nature of the offering of the Lord, seeing his own need, as a possessor of physical sin, must first be satisfied before he could ever be a proper sacrifice for others.

All this was swept aside in the profound simplicity of the C-C Addendum, which explained the statement in clause five of the BASF – “which defiled and became a physical law of his being” – as simply meaning, “As his descendants we partake of that mortality that came by sin, and inherit a nature, prone to sin”.

Though using the word defiled with a moral connotation, the Addendum made it abundantly plain that we inherit from Adam a nature, prone to sin. It was the inclusion of this definition, “prone to sin”, that became so helpful in understanding the relation of the bias in our nature to the sins that it promotes. Brethren Cooper and Carter showed that “sin” and our “nature” are not two separate aspects of sin, both requiring atonement, but that they are related as cause and effect.

Clause eight of the BASF used the expression “condemned nature”, which was interpreted by some to indicate a personal condemnation that rested upon all (including Jesus), who descended from Adam. Again the C-C Addendum makes clear that all that was intended by the expression was comprehended by the word “mortality”, that is “subject to death”. Further comment in The Unity Book made this abundantly plain.

“This is simply not correct. The only ‘condemnation’ inherited from Adam is mortality: we do not inherit any personal condemnation; we shall receive personal condemnation for our sins unless they are forgiven now and our mortality will be swallowed up of life at the coming of the Lord” (Unity Book, p61).

What was also made clear was that Jesus did not die as substitute, for he inherited the very nature condemned to die, and was himself in need of redemption from it. The C-C addendum put it this way.

“He partook of the same nature – the same flesh and blood as all of us, but did no sin. In his death he voluntarily declared God’s righteousness; God was honoured, and the flesh shown to be by divine appointment rightly related to death.”

What was equally clear was that his own redemption was inextricably bound up with those he came to save: it was not “first for himself” as an individual, but as Brother Carter later put it “for himself that it might be for us”.

In summary, Brother Carter wrote:

“He needed redemption; he needed salvation from death. The confusion arises when we isolate him from his work. He was there to be our saviour, and but for our needs we may reverently say he would not have been there” (Unity Book, p21).

Expressed in this way it was but an echo of what Brother Roberts penned many years before.

“Jesus did not come into the world as an individual, but as a representative, though an individual. In this sense he came, ‘not for himself’ but for others, though he was included in the coming” (The Law of Moses, 4th edition page 176).

This then is “as the truth is in Jesus”; being our representative, we neither die or live for ourselves; our salvation is based upon his example: “Forasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me”.