Thanks DJ for posting about the Atonement. Your testimony comes through and I feel a lot of spirit in it. It is a topic that requires a great deal of sacred handling, and I would like to comment on what you wrote and what Brother Skousen has taught.
I think Skousen provides a springboard into new ways of thinking about the Atonement. Even though I respectfully disagree with his conclusions, it is a useful talk to review and consider. Here are some points to consider.
Skousen treats the subject of 'intelligences' as a framework of third-party judges, or final arbiters, or the "law." These intelligences, according to Skousen, need to be satisfied - that the Savior can perform the Atonement because he has earned the honor of the intelligences.
Skousen is close to the truth of the matter, I believe, but far enough away to cause some serious problems and confusions about the nature of God.
Intelligence is light and truth. Light is the law, and all those who participate in light are preserved, and sanctified, and justified by that "law." We have to get away from looking at the "law" as a universal set of rules - outline of truth- that must be adhered to. Light is the organizing power of the universe, and who ever possesses it shares in the power of the law. We all have a portion of law with us, and we all possess a portion of light. God, by virtue of his recieving of all of the law, also has all truth, and is in all things, of all things, above all things - the light of truth. This is intelligence.
One gets the sense when he reads Skousen that 'intelligence' is almost like a jury, a final arbiter of the law. It is much more fundamental than that. God is God because he both possesses a fulness of law, and thereby keeps the law. There is not a distinction to be made between both ways of being.
It is asked, "Does God make law, or does he obey law?" The answer is, both. He makes law because he is quite literally 'the law.' He possesses the law - it is who he is. He cannot be separated from it anymore than my eye sight can be separated from what it can see; or my body can be separated from its flesh. Likewise, we are like God to the extent that we participate in beingness with him. If we recieve his law.
Law and God is a matter of aspect. An aspect of a table is the top. It cannot be separated from the table - but one can point to it as an aspect of the table. (This is different than a 'part' - like a table leg, which can be removed from a table.)
Because we are fallen, we are cut off from the law of God, or rather, his presence. Because light and life and law are all synomyms, being cut off from law is death to who we are. The life we enjoy now, whether we believe it or not, is by virtue of the power of Christ and his atonement. So, what is the atonement?
Christ, who participated in, and possessed the same law as his Father, was by definition 'without sin'. He enjoyed all of the power and rights of his Father. Nothing prohibited him from entering into exaltation with the Father, and possessing all light and truth.
Christ, in the atonement, descended below all law. He allowed all light to be withdrawn from him - to be separated from the Father completely. This, is truly what it meant for him to die. For Christ to descend below all things, to forfeit the law - he lost his life - and was darkened in such a way he did not see how he could continue. He thought it was over for him.
Because Christ, in his very person, had claim to the Law of his Father death could not hold him. It was part of who he was, and it flowed to him without the approval of 'intelligences' - He possessed the law independently - because he descended he below all things, he became the truth of all things.
"He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth"
Christ became such that he possessed all things independently of the Father - He became a possesser of all things, literally the light of the world. So, all that came to him he could share in his light and law. The Father that gave us life gave us his son, and by this virtue enables us to become Gods and to share in his life.
Intelligence and law cannot be separated from its possesser. I do not believe there is an independent law that exists separate from the beingness of God.
When we understand that Christ possessed all that his Father had, and willingly left his position and beingness, compromised who he was - that he was willing to be cut off forever for his Father's will - it will fill us with such love and eternal gratitude. To understand that Christ was willing to become no more - to never see his Father again - and to no longer possess light or life - for his Father's children - we will worship him with the Father, fall down, and proclaim that he is the Christ.
When I ponder these doctrines they make me tremble - we owe our entire beings to Christ and his Law. When we commit with a fullness of heart to follow Christ we can recieve all that he has. And it is only through this commitment that we can return to live with our Father and share in all that he hath.