I. Atonement Without Sacrifice
- A further point must be perfectly clear before any residual fear still associated with miracles can disappear. The crucifixion did not establish the Atonement, the resurrection did. Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this. No one who is free of the belief in scarcity could possibly make this mistake. If the crucifixion is seen from an upside-down point of view, it does appear as if God permitted and even encouraged one of His Sons to suffer because he was good. This particularly unfortunate interpretation, which arose out of projection, has led many people to be bitterly afraid of God. Such anti-religious concepts enter into many religions. Yet the real Christian should pause and ask, “How can this be?” Is it likely that God Himself would be capable of the kind of thinking which His Own words have clearly stated is unworthy of His Son?
- The best defense, as always, is not to attack another’s position, but rather to protect the truth. It is unwise to accept any concept if you have to invert a whole frame of reference in order to justify it. This procedure is painful in its minor applications and genuinely tragic on a wider scale. Persecution frequently results in an attempt to “justify” the terrible misperception that God Himself persecuted His Own Son on behalf of salvation. The very words are meaningless. It has been particularly difficult to overcome this because, although the error itself is no harder to correct than any other, many have been unwilling to give it up in view of its prominent value as a defense. In milder forms a parent says, “This hurts me more than it hurts you,” and feels exonerated in beating a child. Can you believe our Father really thinks this way? It is so essential that all such thinking be dispelled that we must be sure that nothing of this kind remains in our mind. I was not “punished” because you were bad. The wholly benign lesson the Atonement teaches is lost if it is tainted with this kind of distortion in any form.
- The statement “vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord” is a misperception by which one assigns his own “evil” past to God. The “evil” past has nothing to do with God. He did not create it and He does not maintain it. God does not believe in retribution. His Mind does not create that way. He does not hold your “evil” deeds against you. Is it likely that He would hold them against me? Be very sure that you recognize how utterly impossible this assumption is, and how entirely it arises from projection. This kind of error is responsible for a host of related errors, including the belief that God rejected Adam and forced him out of the Garden of Eden. It is also why you may believe from time to time that I am misdirecting you. I have made every effort to use words that are almost impossible to distort, but it is always possible to twist symbols around if you wish.
- Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear, and frightened people can be vicious. Sacrificing in any way is a violation of my injunction that you should be merciful even as your Father in Heaven is merciful. It has been hard for many Christians to realize that this applies to themselves. Good teachers never terrorize their students. To terrorize is to attack, and this results in rejection of what the teacher offers. The result is learning failure.
- I have been correctly referred to as “the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world,” but those who represent the lamb as blood-stained do not understand the meaning of the symbol. Correctly understood, it is a very simple symbol that speaks of my innocence. The lion and the lamb lying down together symbolize that strength and innocence are not in conflict, but naturally live in peace. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” is another way of saying the same thing. A pure mind knows the truth, and this is its strength. It does not confuse destruction with innocence because it associates innocence with strength, not with weakness.
- Innocence is incapable of sacrificing anything, because the innocent mind has everything and strives only to protect its wholeness. It cannot project. It can only honor other minds, because honor is the natural greeting of the truly loved to others who are like them. The lamb “taketh away the sins of the world” in the sense that the state of innocence, or grace, is one in which the meaning of the Atonement is perfectly apparent. The Atonement is entirely unambiguous. It is perfectly clear because it exists in light. Only the attempts to shroud it in darkness have made it inaccessible to those who do not choose to see.
- The Atonement itself radiates nothing but truth. It therefore epitomizes harmlessness and sheds only blessing. It could not do this if it arose from anything but perfect innocence. Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist. It is, however, perfectly aware of everything that is true. The resurrection demonstrated that nothing could destroy truth. Good can withstand any form of evil, as light abolishes forms of darkness. The Atonement is therefore the perfect lesson. It is the final demonstration that all the other lessons I taught are true. If you can accept this one generalization now, there will be no need to learn from many smaller lessons. You are released from all errors if you believe this.
- The innocence of God is the true state of mind of His Son. In this state your mind knows God, for God is not symbolic; He is fact. Knowing His Son as he is, you realize that the Atonement, not sacrifice, is the only appropriate gift for God’s altar, where nothing except perfection belongs. The understanding of the innocent is truth. That is why their altars are truly radiant.
If we want to be the miracle-workers that Christ has called us to be, it is imperative that we understand that the resurrection of Christ and not the crucifixion of Christ is what established the Atonement. Too many of us have been taught and continue to teach this dangerous doctrine because the fear of God has kept us from correcting this mistake. As long as we see the crucifixion as God permitting or perhaps even demanding the blood and suffering of any one of His Sons, especially His Perfect Son as payment for sin, we are believing in a God who is bloodthirsty. It is a totally unloving and unworthy view of our Heavenly Father and every single one of us who feel the call of God on our lives should not be afraid to address this mistaken perception and encourage others to focus on the Resurrection instead of the death of Christ’s body.
If you have any lingering fear and doubt about the role of the crucifixion in the plan of salvation ask the Lord to reveal this truth to you. In today’s reading, Jesus tells us, His brothers, to ask: “How can this be?” God has absolutely no need for blood. God is spirit and God is life. Blood is a thing of this kingdom, not God’s! Christ came to show us the way of our return – only the most primitive and depraved cry for blood and suffering as an appeasement for sin, our Father is a God of tender mercy, correction, forgiveness and love.
Jesus assures us that He was not punished for our sins. What a travesty of parenthood when an older, innocent brother would be harshly punished for the mistakes of a younger more impish one! The loving lesson of Atonement has been polluted with the teaching of God demanding sacrifice of any kind, especially in regard to Christ who entered into the realm of death precisely to resurrect.
Jesus assures us that every trace of this fear-based doctrine needs to be put behind us because it leads to tragic ends. If God Himself is a terrorist, requiring blood and sacrifice, squeezing “payment” from the pain and suffering of any part of His Creation, it then justifies such heresy as inquisitions, wars, and kidnapping as a means to keep each other a slave to fear.
Jesus tells us that God is not a God of vengeance. God did not create any need for vengeance or punishment of any kind. God is not spiteful. God has much better things to do than to nose in the miscreations of a separated kingdom and think up ways to remind them of how big, bad, and dangerous He can be. As much as God loves each of us, it is very ignorant of us to think that we can sic Him upon our enemies because we are called to forgive them and love them as brothers. When we come to know God, we love Him, we respect Him, we know Him as Perfection, Love, Truth, Mercy, Joy, and Peace. We will not find God in spite or malice or vengeance of any kind.
Jesus is asking us, brothers, to get beyond the myths that we have accepted as truth. Jesus asks us to question our traditional doctrines, ancient texts, and the misconceived notions that have distorted our perceptions of God and kept us at each other’s throats instead of in each other’s hearts.
Sacrifice is a device of fear. Instead of correction, sacrifice demands blood and suffering. Sacrifice is a violation of our injunction to be merciful even as God is merciful. Brothers, we are apt to ignore this, but there is no justification for the unkind thoughts and terrible punishments we dream up for those who do not believe the way we do, go to the same church we go to, or worship God in the same way. Jesus says that good teachers know better than to terrorize their students because to instill fear in another is to attack them and when someone is attacked, they reject and fail to learn what they need to know. We do a great disservice to our Beloved Father by circulating stories of fear and vengeance and promote a call for bloodshed and sacrifice in His name.
Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world symbolizes the strength and power in innocence. Jesus reminds us that there is no cry for blood in the statement “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” which carries the same message of strength in innocence, purity, and peace. A pure mind, Jesus says, does not confuse destruction with purity and innocence, because it knows innocence as not weak, but strong.
When our minds are innocent we know the real meaning of Atonement. The innocence symbolized by the lamb of God takes away the sins of the world because it sees nothing outside the light of God’s love. The innocent mind is one that has come to the Last Judgment and experienced the fading away of all that is dark, dangerous, and fearful. The Atonement is harmless and gives only blessing. Innocence gives no strength to evil and evil cannot abide in it. The Resurrection demonstrates the truth of the powerlessness of evil, darkness, fear, and death. Goodness and light are everlasting; sin and darkness are temporal and cannot last. Jesus taught us this not by the death of his humanity on the cross but by His Resurrection. When we come to fully accept and know this in our hearts and minds, we are released from all forms of fear.
In the last paragraph of today’s reading Jesus tells us that the Innocence of God is the true state of our being in Him. We only know God in innocence for in innocence we know Him as fact and not as a symbol. We are free from indoctrinations that teach fear instead of love, that would promote vengeance, rather than mercy, correction, and healing, and would drive us from Him rather than to Him. Christ our Brother did not die for us but as one with us. It is His Resurrection that compels us to offer the Principle of Love for the resurrection of all Creation. Accepting our innocence in Christ, leads us to truth. It is our resurrected innocence that causes His light to shine upon us forever as the Sons of God.
A Course in Miracles. Chapter 3:I Atonement without sacrifice. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com