Chapter Three: Retraining the Mind
III. Atonement Without Sacrifice
11 There is another point which must be perfectly clear before any residual fear which may still be associated with miracles becomes entirely groundless. The crucifixion did not establish the Atonement. The resurrection did. This is a point which many very sincere Christians have misunderstood. No one who is free of the scarcity-error 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. Many ministers preach this every day.
12 This particularly unfortunate interpretation, which arose out of the combined misprojections of a large number of my would-be followers, has led many people to be bitterly afraid of God. This particularly anti-religious concept enters into many religions, and this is neither by chance nor by coincidence. Yet the real Christian would have to pause and ask, "How could 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 man?
13 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 turn a whole frame of reference around in order to justify it. This procedure is painful in its minor applications and genuinely tragic on a mass basis. Persecution is a frequent result, undertaken to justify the terrible misperception that God Himself persecuted His own Son on behalf of salvation. The very words are meaningless.
14 It has been particularly difficult to overcome this because, although the error itself is no harder to overcome than any other error, men were unwilling to give this one up because of its prominent "escape" value. In milder forms a parent says, "This hurts me more than it hurts you," and feels exonerated in beating a child. Can you believe that the Father really thinks this way? It is so essential that all such thinking be dispelled that we must be very sure that nothing of this kind remains in your 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.
15 "Vengeance is Mine sayeth the Lord," is a strictly karmic viewpoint. It is a real misperception of truth by which man assigns his own "evil" past to God. The "evil conscience" from the past has nothing to do with God. He did not create it, and He does not maintain it. God does not believe in karmic retribution. His Divine Mind does not create that way. He does not hold the evil deeds of a man even against himself. Is it likely, then, that He would hold against anyone the evil that another did?
16 Be very sure that you recognize how utterly impossible this assumption really is and how entirely it arises from misprojection. This kind of error is responsible for a host of related errors including the belief that God rejected man and forced him out of the Garden of Eden. It is also responsible for the fact that 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 man is very inventive when it comes to twisting symbols around.
17 God Himself is not symbolic; He is fact. The Atonement too is totally without symbolism. It is perfectly clear because it exists in light. Only man's attempts to shroud it in darkness have made it inaccessible to the unwilling and ambiguous to the partly willing. 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, which does not exist. It is, however, perfectly aware of everything that is true.
18 The Resurrection demonstrated that nothing can destroy truth. Good can withstand any form of evil because light abolishes all forms of darkness. The Atonement is thus the perfect lesson. It is the final demonstration that all of the other lessons which I taught are true. Man is released from all errors if he believes in this. The deductive approach to teaching accepts the generalization which is applicable to all single instances rather than building up the generalization after analyzing numerous single instances separately. If you can accept the one generalization now, there will be no need to learn from many smaller lessons.
19 Nothing can prevail against a Son of God who commends his Spirit into the hands of his Father. By doing this, the mind awakens from its sleep, and [the Soul] remembers its Creator. All sense of separation disappears, and level confusion vanishes. The Son of God is part of the Holy Trinity, but the Trinity itself is One. There is no confusion within its levels because they are of One Mind and One Will. This single purpose creates perfect integration and establishes the peace of God. Yet this vision can be perceived only by the truly innocent.
20 Because their hearts are pure, the innocent defend true perception instead of defending themselves against it. Understanding the lesson of the Atonement, they are without the will to attack, and therefore they see truly. This is what the Bible means when it says, "When He shall appear (or be perceived) we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
21 Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear. This is particularly unfortunate because frightened people are apt to be vicious. Sacrificing another in any way is a clear cut violation of God's own injunction that man should be merciful even as his Father in Heaven. It has been hard for many Christians to realize that this commandment (or assignment) also 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.
22 I have been correctly referred to as "the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world." Those who represent the lamb as blood-stained, an all-too-widespread error, do not understand the meaning of the symbol. Correctly understood, it is a very simple parable which merely speaks of my innocence. The lion and the lamb lying down together refers to the fact 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.
23 There has been some human controversy about the nature of seeing in relation to the integrative powers of the brain. Correctly understood, the issue revolves around the question of whether the body or the mind can see (or understand). This is not really open to question at all. The body is not capable of understanding, and only the mind can perceive anything. A pure mind knows the truth, and this is its strength. It cannot attack the body because it recognizes exactly what the body is. This is what "a sane mind in a sane body" really means. It does not confuse destruction with innocence because it associates innocence with strength, not with weakness.
24 Innocence is incapable of sacrificing anything because the innocent mind has everything and strives only to protect its wholeness. This is why it cannot misproject. It can only honor man 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 only in the sense that the state of innocence, or grace, is one in which the meaning of the Atonement is perfectly apparent. The innocence of God is the true state of mind of His Son. In this state, man's mind does see God, and because he sees Him as he is, he knows that the Atonement, not sacrifice, is the only appropriate gift to his own altar, where nothing except perfection truly belongs. The understanding of the innocent is truth. That is why their altars are truly radiant.