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Ellen Feig

Professor, Bergen Community College

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Can one ever truly atone?

Today I taught my World Lit class The Book of Ruth. This story is in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament, the word for atonement in Hebrew actually translates as "to placate." The word for atonement in the New Testament translates as "payment." So if we only placate people when we atone and we must make payment for our sins, can we ever truly atone?

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    Feb 28 2013: "IF" you must make payment for your sins, and IF that which one wants to be at-one or as-one with does not recognize sin, then to atone, one must let of one's notions of the legitimacy of sin in order to be at-one with that which does not recognize it.

    Example: IF God exists, and it is love, and you want to be one-with God, then you must be loving with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, and ALL your mind. This would leave NO (zero) room for fear - which is the mother of anger, guilt, jealosy, hate, moral judgment, violence, etc.

    when a person transitions from a fear-based worldview into a love-based worldview, that person walks through his/her fears to the other side, where fear has no meaning - and neither does sin. There is no payment required, other than effort and courage. Repentance and acknowledgement of sin or evil within us takes us away from atonement.

    If atonement is to placate - meaning to ease the anger or agitation of - then to placate is to erase the divisions that appear to divide or disrupt that which is without divisions or disruptions.

    Jesus didn't use the word "sin". The earliest known texts show him using the koine Greek word Hamartia - which means acting in (spiritual) ignorance causing harm (to self/others). Jesus didn't use the term "repent". Again, in koine Greek, he used the words "metanoeo" and "metamellamai", which mean - change your way of thinking and change your way of emoting - respectively. Jesus actually didn't speak of Hell. He spoke of Gehenna - which was the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem's city gates, where those with wretched lives eek out a horrible existence.

    So, according to Jesus, if you have a wretched life (which you do if you see sin in you), then to change that, you merely need to change your way of thinking and emoting. In this way, you will walk away from the consequences of the mistakes that your current way of thinking and emoting (hamartia) has created.

    Love =/= fear and can't be at-one with it.

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