“The word atonement was invented in the sixteenth century by William Tyndale who recognized that there was not a direct English translation of the biblical Hebraic concept. The word is composed of two parts “at” and “onement” in order to reflect the dual aspect of Christ’s sacrifice: the remission of sin and reconciliation of man to God. Tyndale’s concept overcome the limitations of the word “reconciliation” whilst incorporating aspects of propitiation and forgiveness” (Wikipedia – Etymology of the word ‘atonement’)
Atonement is a process of reconciliation – as I see it – for the wrong(s) one has committed. It includes forgiveness but it also includes a sense of justice – combining the 2 into a process of reconciliation leading to equality/same measure for measure.
Now the Jewish faith describes 3 things about this process – charity, repentance, and blood sacrifice (no longer exists) – so let’s go with just ‘sacrifice’. These 3 things are paths to making a situation ‘right’ – or ‘equal’. Not all 3 are used for each act of atoning for one’s sins/wrong-doings – no – sometimes it’s charity and sometimes it’s sacrificial.
I want to put my hand up for this idea – it works and it is the best thing a society/community can follow. It puts 2 parties into the mix and makes them deal with with the ‘sin’ via certfiable ‘action’ that will make put the parties back on ‘equal’ footing.
The problem with sin is this – it unlevels the playing field – it makes one a ‘victim’ and one a ‘perpetrator’. It takes away while one loses. It’s makes things…well unequal.
If communities had an idea like this – things within that community would be (a) held to accountability, (b) provide for ‘equality’ (respect) for each citizen, and (c) provide a sense of ‘justice’ needed in the act of forgiveness & repentance. It would make the community very stable and people would feel their hurts and needs were heard.
We don’t live in that society – sadly enough…no! We live in a lazy and broken society where accountability isn’t fashionable and atonement is a thing of the long, forgotten past. Where victims remain victims and are bound to a path of forgiveness without much logic. Where individualism is all that matters and the response to the people around us is a moot point. We are a broken people – we have each gone our own way – and we forget the past – better yet – we help bury it.