(redirected from God's mercy)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal.


the reconciliation, or "at-one-ment," of sinful humanity with God. In Judaism both the Bible and rabbinical thought reflect the belief that God's chosen people must be pure to remain in communion with God. The Bible prescribed Temple sacrifice for the removal of sin and uncleanliness. The prophets taught that outward sacrifice must be accompanied by interior purification to be complete. With the destruction of the Temple and the consequent cessation of the sacrifice focus came to be placed on the religious life of the individual who sought to be reconciled with God through prayer, repentance, charity, and suffering. In the Jewish calendar, atonement for all but very serious sins came on the Day of Atonement (see Yom KippurYom Kippur
[Heb.,=day of atonement], in Judaism, the most sacred holy day, falling on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishri (usually late September or early October). It is a day of fasting and prayer for forgiveness for sins committed during the year.
..... Click the link for more information.
). In Christian theology, various doctrines of atonement have been advanced in history, all of which give central place to the life and death of Jesus. The classical theory of atonement, widely accepted in the early Church, depicted Jesus as the divine victor in a cosmic struggle with the devil for rights over the human soul. In medieval Latin theology emphasis shifted from the divine to the human side of Jesus. The most widely held theory at this time, often called vicarious atonement, was first stated by St. AnselmAnselm, Saint
, 1033?–1109, prelate in Normandy and England, archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church (1720), b. Aosta, Piedmont. After a carefree youth of travel and schooling in Burgundy he became a disciple and companion of Lanfranc, the famed theologian and prior
..... Click the link for more information.
 in Why God Became Human (1197–98): only human beings can rightfully repay the debt which was incurred through their willful disobedience to God, although only God can make the infinite satisfaction necessary to repay it; therefore God must send the God-man, Jesus Christ, to satisfy both these conditions. Anselm's doctrine, slightly altered or elaborated, has become part of Roman Catholic theology and of that of many Protestant churches. In another theory of atonement emphasis is placed on God's unconditional mercy and on the gradual growth toward union with God as inspired by Christ's selfless example. This theory was given its standard form by Peter AbelardAbelard, Peter
, Fr. Pierre Abélard , 1079–1142, French philosopher and teacher, b. Le Pallet, near Nantes. Life

Abelard went (c.1100) to Paris to study under William of Champeaux at the school of Notre Dame and soon attacked the ultrarealist
..... Click the link for more information.
 in the 12th cent. Here the juridical concept is replaced by an organic and social concept. The tendency today in the Church is not to regard any single interpretation of atonement as all-embracing but to view Christ's atoning work from a variety of vantage points.


See G. Aulén, Christus Victor (tr. 1931); F. W. Dillistone, The Christian Understanding of Atonement (1968).


Murgatroyd, Sir Despard
atones for each of his daily crimes by performing a good deed every afternoon. [Br. Opera: Gilbert and Sullivan Ruddigore]


1. Christian theol
a. the reconciliation of man with God through the life, sufferings, and sacrificial death of Christ
b. the sufferings and death of Christ
2. Christian Science the state in which the attributes of God are exemplified in man
References in periodicals archive ?
On the other hand, when those oppressed by others invoke and call upon God's mercy, it becomes an indictment for the oppressors in God's court of justice.
Almost six decades later, he fulfilled his calling and mission to proclaim God's mercy as the Vicar of Christ, the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church.
We cannot know who, if anybody, willfully and with full knowledge resists God's mercy.
The formulas of the absolution of sins and the anointing of the sick again focus on God's mercy.
God's mercy was effective from the very start; it was the way God responded to the aggressive resistance of evil.
Jesus' birth brought near God's mercy to the little ones, even as his beatitudes and parables resound with merciful promises.
Part of the "God Gave Us" series of children's picturebooks in which a father polar bear kindly teaches his little cub about God's mercy and benevolence, God Gave Us Angels touches upon the subject of angels--invisible holy spirits dedicated to the service and worship of God.
It makes clear that we are always a Church of sinners called to repentance and conversion and in need of God's mercy.
Popular piety highly values symbols, and the Heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God's mercy.
Among the ideas he finds are the unquenched drive for knowledge, renunciation of the world and asceticism, God's mercy and kindness, the relationship with animals, and extinction and the union with divinity.
The MFA also condemned the attack in Iraq and said "We strongly condemn these attacks and wish God's mercy upon those killed, and offer condolences to the families of the victims, and wish speedy recovery to those wounded.
What they want is to see God's mercy and his compassion.