The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick

Principle 25

Miracles are part of an interlocking chain of forgiveness which, when completed, 
is the Atonement. Atonement works all the time and in all the dimensions of time.

This is the first statement of the Atonement. Let me just say a couple of words about what the Atonement is, as the Course uses the word. Please do not read the word as "at-one- ment." That is a common New Age word, and many people come to A Course in Miracles and read it that way. First, it is not what the Course means; and second, it takes away from one of the Course's purposes, that of using Christian language and terminology in a different way. If you change the word to "at-one-ment," you are going to lose that meaning.

The word "Atonement" is basically a synonym for the word "correction," and is the Course's term for the overall plan that came into existence with the Holy Spirit to undo the error of believing we are separate. The Holy Spirit was placed in our mind by God, and reunites us with the Father we thought we left. The Holy Spirit is the connecting link between ourselves and God, which thereby undoes the separation, correcting the error. So, we could say that the Holy Spirit really is the expression of the Atonement principle, which is that the separation from God never truly happened. The word "Atonement" is the Course word for the overall plan of awakening the Son of God from his nightmare that he was separate.

The word is also used in a narrower sense to describe the individual Atonement plan that each of us has to complete. The Course says that our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement for ourselves (text, p. 22; T-2.V.5:1). That means that we must accept the denial of the reality of the separation, and the unreality of guilt in the specific relationships and situations that we confront. Atonement, then, has meaning on an individual level, which is our own particular path. In other words, this carpet of time is made up of thousands and millions of little threads, and each thread represents the individual life we call our own. Each of us must undo the beliefs that go into each thread, and that is the Atonement. When every last child of God completes his or her plan, the overall plan of Atonement is complete. That is how the word is used.

It has specific meaning in the context of the Course in terms of the purpose I mentioned before, that Christianity has taught that Atonement only comes through sacrifice and suffering. There is a very powerful section at the beginning of Chapter 3 called "Atonement Without Sacrifice" (text, p. 32; T-3.1), which specifically deals with the crucifixion of Jesus and talks about how its purpose was not to atone for sin by suffering, sacrifice, and death. That is a belief that comes from people's guilt. The true Atonement is to correct that misbelief by recognizing that the body is not real, that sin is not real, and that it is all a bad dream. Again, the word "Atonement" is synonymous with correction.

Basically, through choosing the miracle we are really choosing to forgive, and the more we do that, the more we are able to extend this forgiveness to other people. When that whole process or chain is completed, that is the Atonement. This is an image the Course uses in other places. It talks about how a strong chain of Atonement is welded each time we choose a miracle (text, p. 8; T-1.III.9:2). There is a section called "The Circle of Atonement" (text, p. 262; T-14.V) which has the same idea. It is an ever-widening circle; we draw more and more people into the plan of the Atonement through our forgiveness of them.

"Atonement works all the time and in all the dimensions of time." The phrase, "all the dimensions of time," reflects the idea of a hologram, which I mentioned earlier (see discussion of principle #13). It can be understood in terms of another statement which says that behind each brother stand a thousand more (text, p. 537; T-27.V.10:4). In forgiving you, I am also forgiving all the other people in my life, or other lives, who have represented the same problem. All minds are joined. If I have a problem, let us say an authority problem, then behind you as a specific example of that, would be all the other people in my life with whom I have had the same problem. So that Atonement corrects and heals all aspects of the same issue, even when we are not aware of it. Again, "Atonement" refers to the individual level as well as to the collective one.

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