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The Day of "Atonement": What does that mean?


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  1. make amends or reparation.

“he was being helpful, to atone for his past mistakes”

synonyms: make amends for, make reparation for, make restitution for, make up for, compensate for, pay for, recompense for, expiate, redress, make good, offset; 
do penance for
“how shall I atone for my mistakes?”


  1. reparation for a wrong or injury.

“she wanted to make atonement for her husband’s behavior”

  • (in religious contexts) reparation or expiation for sin.

“an annual ceremony of confession and atonement for sin”


the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.
noun: Atonement; noun: the Atonement 
noun: reconciliation; plural noun: reconciliations

  1. the restoration of friendly relations.

“his reconciliation with your uncle”

synonyms: reuniting, reunion, bringing together (again), conciliation, reconcilement, rapprochement, fence-mending; More
  1. the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

“he aims to bring about a reconciliation between art and technology”

  1. the action of making financial accounts consistent; harmonization.

“the reconciliation process should be consistent with the business strategy”
Day of Atonement. An annual day of fasting and prayer among the Israelites, still observed by their descendants, the present-day Jews (see also Jews). It occurs in autumn, and its observance is one of the requirements of the Mosaic law. Jews call this day Yom Kippur.
Day of atonement | Define Day of atonement at

Atonement = Christian Vs. At-one-ment = New Age/Occult


The Meaning of At-one-ment
Atonement does not have the same meaning as the New Age/occult term, at-one-ment. The interchanging of the terms, “atonement” and at-one-ment is an example of syncretism. “Syncretismis the merging or union of conflicting religious beliefs which forms a new religious philosophy.” (1)
“…at-one-ment, the term relates primarily to the New Age idea that complete oneness with God can be experienced by human beings.” [emphasis added]
(Quote source:
At-one-ment: Term used by several Mind Science or New Thought religions (such as Christian Science) referring to the supposed metaphysical unity or “oneness” of human beings and God as demonstrated by Christ. Contrast the Christian term “atonement,” which refers to Christ’s death on the cross as the means by which he reconciled sinful human beings to God.
(Quote source:
At-one-ment is New Age “salvation”:
At-one-ment, or absorption into the One energy that is God, is a prominently held view of most New Agers’ understanding of salvation. It is the unfolding of one’s consciousness to the point that the “True Self,” the divine nature, is realized. As a flower unfolds petal by petal, so too does spiritual evolution unfold, revealing the deeper realms of God-consciousness.
(Quote source:
 The Meaning of Atonement
The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary states the theological definition of atonement:
“In theology, the expiation of sin made by the obedience and personal sufferings of Christ.”
The Free Dictionary’s definition of atonement: “The reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus.”
The Webster’s 1913 dictionary’s definition of atonement:
(Literally, a setting at one.) Reconciliation; restoration of friendly relations; agreement; concord. [Archaic]
Atonement is NOT at-one-ment, which New Agers define as “absorption into the One energy that is God.” (2)
(1) Syncretism, What is it?
(2) Christ in a New Age
return to: New Age Markings on Ellen G. White’s Writings — “At-one-ment”

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Jesus of Nazareth: Week 2

At-One-Ment, Not Atonement
Sunday, January 21, 2018
The common reading of the Bible is that Jesus “died for our sins”—either to pay a debt to the devil (common in the first millennium) or to pay a debt to God (proposed by Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109). Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) agreed with neither of these understandings.
Duns Scotus was not guided by the Temple language of debt, atonement, or blood sacrifice (understandably used by the Gospel writers and by Paul). He was inspired by the cosmic hymns in the first chapters of Colossians and Ephesians and the Prologue to John’s Gospel (1:1-18) and gave a theological and philosophical base to St. Francis’ deep intuitions of God’s love. While the Church has not rejected the Franciscan position, it has been a minority view.
The many “substitutionary atonement theories”—which have dominated the last 800 years of Christianity—suggest that God demanded Jesus to be a blood sacrifice to “atone” for our sin-drenched humanity. The terrible and un-critiqued premise is that God could need payment, and even a very violent transaction, to be able to love and accept God’s own children! These theories are based on retributive justice rather than the restorative justice that the prophets and Jesus taught.
For Duns Scotus, the incarnation of God and the redemption of the world could never be a mere mop-up exercise in response to human sinfulness, but had to be the proactive work of God from the very beginning. We were “chosen in Christ before the world was made” (Ephesians 1:4). Our sin could not possibly be the motive for the incarnation—or we were steering the cosmic ship! Only perfect love and divine self-revelation could inspire God to come in human form. God never merely reacts, but supremely and freely acts—out of love.
Salvation is much more about at-one-ment from God’s side than any needed atonement from our side. Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God!
God in Jesus moved people beyond the counting, weighing, and punishing model—which the ego prefers—to a world in which God’s mercy makes any economy of merit, sacrifice, reparation, or atonement both unhelpful and unnecessary. Jesus undid “once and for all” (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10) notions of human and animal sacrifice (common in most ancient religions) and replaced them with an economy of grace and love.
Jesus was meant to be a game-changer (A paradigm or thought-changer) for the human psyche and for religion itself. But when we begin negatively, or focused on a problem, we never get off the hamster wheel of shame, separation, and violence. Rather than focusing on sin, Jesus—“the crucified One”—pointed us toward a primal solidarity with the very suffering of God and thus of all creation. This changes everything. Change the starting point, and you change the trajectory, and even the final goal! Love is the beginning, the way itself, and the final consummation.
God does not love us because we are good; God loves us because God is good. Nothing we can do will either decrease or increase God’s eternal and infinite eagerness to love!
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 183-188.

Image credit: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (detail), by Caravaggio, 1601-02, Sanssouci, Potsdam.
The dualism of the spiritual and so-called secular is precisely what Jesus came to reveal as untrue and incomplete. Jesus came to model for us that these two seemingly different worlds are and always have been one. We just couldn’t imagine it intellectually until God put them together in one body that we could see and touch and love. —Richard Rohr

Posted in Daily Meditations | Also tagged atonementGodJesusJohn Duns ScotusjusticeLovesalvation
Meaning of the Word “Atonement”
James E. Talmage
Through the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ–a redeeming service, vicariously rendered in behalf of mankind, all of whom have become estranged from God by the effects of sin both inherited and individually incurred–the way is opened for a reconciliation whereby man may come again into communion with God, and be made fit to dwell anew and forever in the presence of his Eternal Father. This basal thought is admirably implied in our English word, “atonement,” which, as its syllables attest, is at-one-ment, “denoting reconciliation, or the bringing into agreement of those who have been estranged.” (Jesus the Christ, p.23)
Boyd K. Packer
Atonement is really three words: At-one-ment, meaning to set at one, one with God; to reconcile, to conciliate, to expiate. (“Atonement, Agency, Accountability,” Ensign, May 1988, p. 69)
Russell M. Nelson
… let us now ponder the deep meaning of the word atonement. In the English language, the components are at-one-ment, suggesting that a person is at one with another. Other languages [such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and German] employ words that connote either expiation or reconciliation. Expiation means “to atone for.” Reconciliation comes from Latin roots re, meaning “again”; con, meaning “with”; and sella, meaning “seat.” Reconciliation, therefore, literally means “to sit again with.”
Rich meaning is found in study of the word atonement in the Semitic languages of Old Testament times. In Hebrew, the basic word for atonement is kaphar, a verb that means “to cover” or “to forgive.” [We might even surmise that if an individual qualifies for the blessings of the Atonement (through obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel), Jesus will “cover” our past transgressions from the Father.] Closely related is the Aramaic and Arabic word kafat, meaning “a close embrace”– no doubt related to the Egyptian ritual embrace. References to that embrace are evident in the Book of Mormon. One states that “the Lord hath redeemed my soul … ; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” [2 Ne. 1:15]. Another proffers the glorious hope of our being “clasped in the arms of Jesus” [Morm. 5:11; additional examples are in Alma 5:33; Alma 34:16].
I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all. To be redeemed is to be atoned – received in the close embrace of God with an expression not only of His forgiveness, but of our oneness of heart and mind. What a privilege! And what a comfort to those of us with loved ones who have already passed from our family circle through the gateway we call death! (“The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, p. 34)



Philologos  September 19, 2007
‘Atonement” is an English word to which I had never given much thought. In fact, I had thought about it so little that I had always assumed that the possibility of reading it as “at-one-ment” was merely a kind of pun having nothing to do with its original meaning. It’s embarrassing to find out, therefore, that “at-one-ment,” now that I’ve finally taken the trouble to check it, is the original meaning of the word.
Why should the process of becoming one with someone or something have come to denote in English what atonement means today — namely, making amends or reparation for a mistake or sin? This is not a difficult process to reconstruct. To be “at one” in the sense of to be “in harmony” or “in concord” is an English idiom going back at least to the late 13th century, and “to at-one” as a transitive verb meaning “to achieve a state of at-oneness, or reconciliation, between two parties” first crops up in English in the late 16th century. (By the 15th century, the English word for the first cardinal number — “on,” “oon” or “uon” — had already acquired its initial “w” sound, so that this verb was in those days pronounced “to atwun.”) Thus, for instance, in the opening scene of Shakespeare’s “Richard the Second,” written in 1597, Richard, failing to reconcile the two feuding noblemen, the Duke of Hereford and the Duke of Norfolk, orders them to fight a duel:
We were not born to sue, but to command:
Which since we cannot do to make you friends,
Be ready, as your lives shall answer it,
At Coventry, upon Saint Lambert’s day;
There shall your swords and lances arbitrate
The swelling difference of your settled hate:
Since we cannot atone you, we shall see
Justice design the victor’s chivalry.
Earlier in the 16th century, we find the noun “atonement” used in the same sense. Once again, Shakespeare can serve as an example. In “Richard the Third,” we find the Duke of Buckingham saying about Richard to the queen, “Ay, madam: he desires to make atonement between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers.” What Buckingham is telling the queen is that Richard wishes to get her brothers and Gloucester to make up.
To the 16th century, too, can be dated the use of atonement in a religious sense. Here, too, the word originally had the meaning of a mutually arrived “at-oneness” between two parties, as when William Tyndale, in his 1534 New Testament, used it to translate the Greek word kattalagei, “reconciliation,” in the passage from Second Corinthians: “For God… made an agreement between the world and himself, and imputed not their sins unto them; and hath committed to us the preaching of the atonement.” And indeed in New Testament belief, it is not only man who atones for his sins but God who does so, as well, by sacrificing His son Jesus for mankind’s sake. This is the “vicarious atonement” of Christian theology.
In Judaism, on the other hand, atonement is a one-sided affair: It is not something that God does, only man. Nevertheless, when Tyndale translated the Hebrew Bible in the same decade as that in which he worked on the New Testament, he chose “day of atonement” to render the Hebrew yom ha-kippurim in the book of Leviticus. In doing so, he departed twice from the wording of the Latin Bible, which translates yom ha-kippurim as dies expiationum. In the first place, whereas he could easily have retained the Latin expiatio as the English word “expiation,” he preferred the new English word “atonement.” And secondly, whereas the Latin follows the Hebrew, which says yom ha-kippurim, “the day of atonements,” rather than yom kippur, “day of atonement,” Tyndale did away with the plural form of “atonements” and used the singular, a choice in which he was followed several generations later by the King James Bible. This is why, to this day, we say in English “Day of Atonement” rather than “Day of Atonements.”
The Bible uses the plural form of yom ha-kippurim because the high priest performed on that day, in the guise of various sacrifices and the dispatching of the scapegoat, multiple atonements himself, for the priestly house, and for the entire people of Israel.
The singular form of yom kippur does not occur in the Bible and is a later usage, reflecting the replacement of the high priest by the individual worshipper, whose fasting and prayer are conceived of by Jewish tradition as a single atoning act. In contemporary Israeli Hebrew, both yom kippur and yom ha-kippurim are in use, although the singular form is the more common of the two.
As for the original meanings of “atone” and “atonement” in English, they lingered on until the end of the 17th century and then vanished. From that point on, these two words meant in English solely what they do today.
Questions for Philologos can be sent to [email protected]
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