Originally posted by Doward
I would like to read your thoughts and exegetical reasoning in regards to the atonement and its meaning. Not offering my own opinion, just looking to hear others
It's a very interesting concept with a grand myth attached; one of the grandest.
Here's how I would introduce it to a bright child of mine who was curious about it:
The Atonement is sort of like what I'm going to tell you, but lots of people have different ideas about it, so you should keep an open mind about it till you learn more.
When people a long time ago first began to think about their situation, particularly the situations that come up living in a group, they wondered why, when love and cooperation is so good for everyone concerned, hatred and violent competition were so common. They already had a guess that, just like they themselves made things like tools and clothes, there was a powerful being who made them. Different groups of people had different ideas about this being, but most people had stories about powerful beings, that they passed down to their children. So the the story starts with the ways people explained the hatred and violence they saw in the world. The Atonement story is in the Bible. There are other stories, too, but this'll be my version of the Atonement story and what it means to me.
They imagined that like a good parent, a good creator, called God, would have told them what they needed to do to live a good life. There has always been a feeling that we are free to love or hate, to choose to get along or to commit violence. They believed God let the people choose. But there were temptations to disobey God. They chose to disobey God, and fell out of the state of natural goodness that God created them in. This fall from grace broke up the relationship that God had made possible. It would take a sacrifice for the natural state of grace could be restored. When Jesus came into the world, preached, and died, some of his followers believed that God had come, and in the mortal life and sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, God had reached out to bridge the gap and restore the original relationship. This got to be known as the Atonement, which restored our state of grace with God. Atoning is making up for a wrong that someone has done to someone, and making it so they can get along again.
After that, unfortunately, some humans continued using hatred and violence. This needed an explanation. People asked why the Atonement didn't restore all people to a state of natural grace and goodness. The explanation they came up with was that the original falling away of the people as a whole was atoned for, so reconciliation was now available to everyone, and was accepted by many. But people still had a choice.
Some could still be unaware of the gift of Atonement or could reject it.
Some people think it is up to them to spread the gospels and the story of Jesus and even more, to dedicate their lives to this effort. Some of them believe the explanation described things that really happened, just like the Bible says. Other Christians and people of other faiths or people having no specific faith, believe it to be a myth.
What's a myth? It is a handed-down story, that says something important about the early history of a people, or explains something about the world, usually with supernatural beings doing things. Are myths true? They can tell important truths about life. Each of us have to decide for themselves what those truths are. I believe the myth of the Fall and Atonement tells us how truly difficult and yet how truly important it has always been, to overcome the temptations that can result in hatred and violence. It's one of the most important things about life that there is.