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We humans frequently feel a sense of being less than – less than whole, less than healed, less than okay, less than worthy, less than spiritual, less than “connected,” less than Divine. This felt sense of less than, this sense of a gap between an ideal state and present reality, is what humans need to have tended to. We need to have it addressed. We yearn to know that we aren’t defined by our worst days, our worst actions, or our past. We yearn for a sense of “oneness” – and that we are sufficiently in a state of goodness, serenity, or contentment. We yearn to know that we belong in the universe and that the we are welcome to be here. We yearn to love and be loved. We yearn to know we are lovable and to feel that we belong on the planet.
A common and historic Christian way to describe this is to say that we desire atonement. And yet atonement has become a highly loaded and charged term, especially in the West. Philosopher Ludwig Witttenstein said that when it comes to words, “meaning is use.” And to the extent that atonement and atonement theology have come to largely be used in ways that imply something that many people find offensive, it’s only natural that many of those people will come to not care for those words.
Hyper-vigilance - Overstatement - Way - Words - Religion
Hyper-vigilance and overstatement are understandable. In the same way that the words “religion,” “worship,” “Church,” “Christianity,” and “theism,” have come to be allergens to some people due to the hijacking of those terms by conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism – the words “atonement” and “atonement theology” have come to become anathema to many people of progressive Christian sensibilities.
There’s nothing wrong with the concept of atonement. Understood as “at-one-ment”, atonement simply refers to efforts,...
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