For years I’ve struggled to understand what the atonement is and how it works. This post is the byproduct of those mental and spiritual struggles. The short length of this post is intentional and took an incredible amount of humility and restraint. What I’ve written here is the very essence of my spiritual being.
I see the atonement as having three parts:
2. The problem of pain
3. Saviors on Mount Zion
First is repentance, which begins with God’s love and forgiveness. These are both infinite and eternal. Part of true repentance is the desire to turn away from sin and towards God. God respects and honors our righteous desires with his love and forgiveness. God exerts a moral influence that persuades and influences us to re-orient ourselve towards him. This influence is always exerted through gentleness, compassion, and love unfeigned. The repentance process can happen in an instant or it can be a gradual process.
Second is the problem of pain. My approach to this issue is two-fold.
1. Free agency
2. The consequences inflicted on us by living in a fallen world
God can and does love and nurture us regardless of whether our pain is caused by our own poor choices, the poor choices of others, or pain caused by living in a fallen world. At this point, I must concede God is limited in his power and is not omnipotent. It would seem as though once the great plan of happiness was set into motion, God can no longer prevent worldly pain and suffering and is left only with the ability to help heal and nurture. Thankfully, this divine nurturing often helps us to become more than we were.
Third is a responsibility to become a savior on Mount Zion. I have the honor-bound duty to extend God’s love to all with whom I come into contact. I embrace his divine virtues and extend the same to those around me. It is my privilege to love, forgive, and extend charity to all who are within my circle of influence.
In a word, the atonement is love.
*** FWIW, I was tempted to get into what I think the atonement is not. I was also tempted to cite scripture to bolster my claims. Ultimately, I felt that to do so would have detracted from my primary objective so I avoided both. That said, I’d be happy to discuss both in the comments.