I have never heard of different "theories." There is one gospel message: Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He was buried in a tomb and rose on the third day. He lives forever and reigns forever, and all we have to do to live with Him eternally in heaven is accept His gift of salvation by believing in our hearts that Jesus rose from the dead, repent of our sins and follow Him.
There is only one way to atonement:
Change Selfish Behavior And Laws Are Superfluous...
With or without laws life is disrespected by the Selfishness within the Self.
Only with a positive change in temperament, attitude and behavior will the repetition, routine and habit of humanity's persistence to be selfish evolve to a higher state of being awareness...
The governance of humanity must have a positive and inclusive process, a selfless government system with civil procedures used to train citizens to be humanitarians that respect all life and the earth that supports it...
No one law or any number of laws will ever change human nature, only the human ego is able to change and become the positive influence of the superego which senses sees and feels the essence, source and spirit of being.
When the ego becomes the superego by repetition, routine and habit, then life will be respected and ethics, morals and integrity will reign over the human ego...
Even within Christianity, the Atonement is, in part, a mystery. I learned that from my father-in-law, who is a world-famous theologian. When I spoke to him, I thought that atonement as "at-one-ment" was a bad pun, but he actually liked the idea.
Atonement in Judaism was the result of offering a sacrifice. But the core is not sacrifice, the core is what happens to the sacrifice, how it is uplifted and made holy.
In relation to the life of Jesus, I think that the Resurrection is more important than the Crucifixion. The Resurrection is the promise to all of us that no matter what we suffer in life, and no matter bodily death, there is an Eternity of Peace awaiting us.
Atonement is the process that brings us to that peace. Or, perhaps, brings that Peace to Earth through us.
And Atonement is not a part of Western religions only. In Buddhism, we recognize our errors - greed, fear, confusion - and offer them up, and allow them to be uplifted and transformed into Love and Wisdom. Then we live bringing Love and Wisdom into the world.
That is, I believe, Atonement.
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