Root meaning: The reconciliation of God and His estranged children, the recovering of at-one-ment (not the state of at-one-ment). Conventional: Atonement is achieved by paying for our sins; in Christianity, by Jesus paying on the cross for the sin of our break with God. ACIM: Atonement is achieved by the realization (first Jesus' and then ours) that we never left God, that the split was an illusion, that no sin was committed and no payment necessary. Atonement is thus the undoing of a split that never occurred, "the way back to what was never lost" (T-12.VIII.8:8). The Atonement releases us from all that stands between us and God—guilt, fear, the past and all illusions—through its realization that all this has never been. Jesus made this principle accessible to us through his resurrection, not his death (see crucifixion). This placed him in charge of the Atonement. Atonement is one of the major terms in the Course and has many aspects: 1. It is a principle: that the separation (or fall) never really occurred (see T-6.II.10:7). In this sense, it is the final lesson. 2. It is a power which, when we accept it, comes into our minds and heals our thinking (see T-1.I.37, T-14.IX.3:2). The miracle is thus the expression of the Atonement. 3. It is a plan for the return of all God's sons (see plan for salvation), a plan based on the Atonement principle. 4. It is a process, in which the Sonship progressively approaches the final reunion with God (see T-1.III.1:1). 5. And it is a purpose—the goal to which the plan and process aspire (see T-2.II.6:9). See salvation. See Accepting the Atonement for Oneself.