ATONEMENT IN A COURSE IN MIRACLES: Definition, Purpose, Acceptance


Chapter 1: How A Course in Miracles Defines Atonement

Chapter 2: The Purpose of Atonement

Chapter 3: Accepting Atonement for One’s Self

Chapter 4: Atonement and Healing

Chapter 5: Jesus’ Role in Atonement

Looking Ahead



One of the most frequently read posts on my blog is the one on the meaning of the Atonement. Given that interest, I thought it helpful to my readers to make a study of the Atonement, as presented in A Course in Miracles, and post that study on the web.

I used my kindle (an amazon product) to search A Course in Miracles in its entirety on the word “atonement.” There were 266 instances of the word (or some variant of it, such as “atoning”). I studied these 266 and selected those that I felt to be most illustrative of the meaning of atonement, without choosing those that were repetitive. This gave me a total of 64 quotations from which this series of postings has been derived.

The format is akin to my usual blog. I reproduce the quotations in various categories, and then write meditations based on these quotations.

We begin with the definition of Atonement.



Atoning Means Undoing

“’Atoning’ means ‘undoing.’ The undoing of fear is an essential part of the Atonement value of miracles. (T-1.I.26)

So we need to keep in mind, whenever the concept of Atonement seems difficult for us to wrap about minds around, that Atoning means “undoing.”

We are seeking to undo so much in the course of studying A Course in Miracles. The primary undoing that we seek is the undoing of the ego, that part of ourselves about which we believe and that part of ourselves which has led us into imprisoned wills, wills that could not protect us from pain. The goal of ACIM is to dislodge the ego, and the way that ACIM does this is through forgiveness—forgiveness of our brother, and in forgiving our brother, we come to know that we are also forgiven ourselves. We learn that God does not forgive, because He has never condemned. Can any of us say the same? No, for our entry into the darkness of the ego has been deep and long, and we have wandered far from God’s pathway back to Him.

So Atoning does mean that we are undoing what has led us into illusions, into dreams. We are seeking our rightful place in the Kingdom of Heaven, a Kingdom that we never really left—but think that we did. And in the undoing of what never was, we are home at last.

Author: Celia Hales

I intend "Miracles Each Day" to offer inspiration and insight into A Course in Miracles, A Course of Love, The Way of Mastery, Choose Only Love, Mirari, and similar readings.

9 thoughts on “ATONEMENT IN A COURSE IN MIRACLES: Definition, Purpose, Acceptance”

  1. I know this series will be great, and Celia I appreciate you doing it.

    I read a new viewpoint on the ego recently, and I thought I would pass it along. The thought is that the ego is part of our consciousness and is a TOOL that we use while we navigate life in this three dimensional reality of duality. We cannot function here without it. As part of our consciousness or Self, it too never dies but remains with us after physical death, perhaps to be used again should we experience life in another “lessor” reality.

    The Atonement is vital for out spiritual awakening because we must make the distinction between the ego and our whole, true Self. Like any tool, it must be used properly if it is to be helpful. If misused, it can be harmful.

    I believe that ACIM also sees Forgiveness as a tool in a similar light, a tool given to us by the Holy Spirit that allows us to release and let go of our error thinking and perception.

    I’m not yet sure yet on whether I agree with this new thought on the ego, but it seemed an interesting and credible possibility.

    David Smith

    1. David —

      I do know that this understanding is the way that Freud thought of the ego, and perhaps we have to develop an egoic persona as we grow up to be able to then fully release that egoic persona to the Self. Freud didn’t believe that we should ever even try to relinquish the ego, because his interpretation of the ego is that it mediated between the superego and the subconscious.

      I don’t think that A Course in Miracles addresses the point about whether or not an ego is ever necessary, because the ego is seen as evidence of the illusory separation.

      These are important thoughts to have. Ken Wapnick, a major scholar for ACIM, thought that Freud’s use of the term “ego” was different from the “ego” as described in ACIM. I don’t know whether or not I agree with either Freud or Ken. I can see having a developing ego when growing up, and then relinquishing it to something much grander, the Self. But children seems much closer to Heaven than we are, many times. And their egos have not yet developed.

      This is an interesting discussion to have. Thanks ever so much for writing in. I don’t think that ACIM ever addresses this point definitively.

      Most cordially, Celia

  2. The ego has certainly been cast by many in a negative light, and justifiably so. Strangely, Carl Jung referred to the ego as “an organ of consciousness.” I never understood this before,but I am beginning to see this as saying the ego is a lessor part of who we are. I think for us to awaken to Christ Consciousness which is our destiny, the ego must first be willing to give way. I’m not sure even Jesus mastered that while in his human life. There is not doubt that he expressed fear and anger at times, all traits of the ego.


    1. In A Course of Love, Jesus says that nobody has sustained Christ-consciousness. I have often wondered if he meant to include himself. Your point about fear and anger is certainly well-taken. But if Jesus couldn’t do it, could any of us have any hope at all of sustaining Christ-consciousness? Previously I have always believed that Jesus reached Awakening when the dove descended at his baptism. But that is just a personal thought.


  3. Thank you for helping me understand Atonement. I came to your page in order to help me understand how to cope with a bill that was just passed that allows medical professionals to refuse to treat GLBT individuals. I live in a small Republican city that supports such bills, and I needed to somehow turn this around and offer miracles to all of us, and in order to do so I needed to release the fear and judgment of their actions. I appreciate the insight: the undoing. I’ve got it.

  4. I’m still not really grasping this Atonement idea. Is there a concise description that one can hold in mind and use to help towards the awareness? I appreciate your attempt to explain the Atonement, but talking of ‘errors’ (rather than ‘sins’?), and said …..kindly….. this article really is in dire need of proof-reading, Celia. It’s hard to concentrate on the content when there are so many errors in the script!

    1. Atonement does mean “undoing”–the undoing of what went wrong in the separation that we all had from God. The separation is what is usually called the “fall of man.” The word “Atonement” can be separated into “At – one – ment,” which suggests a return to unity, the One, a return to God Himself.

      I did proof the post again and made a couple of changes that might have been a problem for you in reading.

      Atonement is being “one with God” again.

      Love, Celia

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