Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Atonement Is All-Encompassing, Not an Event

I think perhaps the biggest practical theological "failure" among the membership of the Church is that too many members have bought into the idea that the Atonement is an event - or the time period between two events: Gethsemane through Golgotha.

I see the concept much more expansively than that. I see it as the entire core of Mormon theology - the idea that God can take something that is not "like God" (intelligence - whatever that means) and recreate God from it. The Atonement is the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning through the end. It's taking us from a state of not being "at-one" and, through a creative process, making us "at-one". It's "eternal life" - from start to finish. It's the entire purpose of creation and existence.

With that foundation, I accept totally Jesus of Nazareth's role as Savior and Redeemer - again, since I can view it in any way that makes sense to me. The view of "atonement" I described above is too expansive to be contained within one interpretive model; it bursts the bonds of that sort of intellectual constraint, if you will, and can be described by differing people with differing experiences and differing paradigms. The concept itself can be the core of multiple world religions, with just the details differing (including the detail in question here - the identity of the central figure in it all).

The Mormon view of the atonement is a fascinating mixture of Christian terminology and East Asian myticism and ultimate destination. It's not one or two events to which centuries of Christian dogma limited it. I can accept it totally, particularly since it still amazes me sometimes when I get a glimpse of something new now and again.

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