The concept of “atonement” is powerful: being “at one” with God, others, and ourselves. But the panelists on this episode, Mark Crego and George Andrew Spriggs, along with Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, find the way it is usually talked about in Mormon and wider Christian circles to leave something to be desired. Too often the Atonement is seen through the lenses of various theories about “how” Christ’s death reconciled us—with different answers even to what it reconciled us with. The Atonement is discussed as an event. Sure, it’s one with eternal significance, but very often it is treated like an act that healed a rift (between us and God, or us and moral law, or us and justice) or that cosmically did “something” in the universe that allows us mortals to overcome our destructive tendencies and sins, with our job being to then “take advantage of” it or “qualify” so it can or will become active in our lives here and now or, at least, for us come judgment day.
But what would happen if atonement were thought about more as a concept than an event? Or even, perhaps, thought of as a powerful idea even without a Christian context? Can we allow the notion of peace and being “at one” with our highest self, others in our lives, or with whatever might be the Ultimate Reality in the universe call us into greater relationship, enabling a flourishing life with all instances infused with love? And if we go back to Christianity and the story and symbolism of Jesus Christ and the cross and how his mission was to draw all unto him (not “force,” but draw, attract, lead, counsel, coach) and the kind of relationality he experiences, can we re-enliven Atonement? Can we resurrect it in our lives?
This episode is long but always moving forward at a good pace. In it Mark and Dan propose various ideas and Andrew, the wonderful thinker and clarifier, reacts and pushes for greater clarification or offers where he finds the proposals lacking. In the mix of this, much is discussed, much laid out that typically escapes discussion. We think you’ll very much enjoy this three-part podcast!