Atonement versus Forgiveness

Danya Ruttenberg

In my tradition, forgiveness is something that people can grant to other people (whether they are informed of it or not, as we’ve discussed). But atonement is, in the framework of my tradition, something that happens in connection with the divine. And as we’ve seen, if you’ve hurt someone else, atonement is up for discussion only after you’ve done all the work that must be done with regard to repair, apology, and amends. It’s not the equivalent of being forgiven by the people you harmed or being off the hook with regard to consequences; it’s not a way to force people to turn the page. It’s a singular theological concept, at least in my world.

excerpt from On Repentance and Repair, p. 200