Thursday, March 23, 2006

"conversations on soteriology", or 'what does it mean to be saved?' PART TWO

hey b. - thanks for the email [wow, sounds like you've been doing a lot of thinking here lately :)]

in an effort to try and level the playing field, let's - just for purposes of this conversation - avoid the term "salvation." it's not that the term is bad, quite the opposite actually - i consider myself saved and very much value my salvation - but that word may have a little too much baggage for us right now.

instead let's think about what christianity really is.

christianity is all about jesus.
it's about the person of jesus christ
about jesus christ, fully god and fully man, who alone bore the full measure of god's wrath that was intended for the shortcomings of sinful humanity
who alone substituted his own life in payment for the lives of all men and women through all time
who makes friendship and love with god available to all who choose it
without any who deserve it of their own merit

that's what christianity is all about


so, when i think about what it means to be a christian
i think about following jesus
i think about serving jesus
i think about emulating jesus
imitating him
pleasing him
honoring him with every thought, word, guesture, commitment and intention
i think about trying to make jesus proud
about what it might take to have him cheer me on
about the things he says he likes and the things that make him angry

now, the word "salvation" implies we need to be saved from something

well, what do we need to be saved from? hell? ok, hell - but what else?

see, i think jesus saves us from hell, but he also saves us from a million other, more immediate things
like guilt
like despair
like the reality of a world without hope or purpose or meaning
jesus saves us from finding our identity in what we wear or what we do, and instead frees us to be the people he has created us to be complete with our own preferences and aesthetics, friendships and covenants
jesus saves us from the need to possess things or be possessed by other people

so, when we talk about salvation we're not only talking about some kind of eternal parking space
but also about a life lived in service of jesus christ
in relationship with god
in fellowship with our creator and his incarnate self

and - to answer your first question - i think this is an understanding that stretched back before christ [for example, to the time of job]

when there was no person "jesus", there was still god and the means of salvation for humanity was still being in right relationship with god
the way[s] in which people entered and remained in that right relationship were different then then they are now
but they were always just means to an end

the end has always been union with god
oneness with jesus christ - the same god who [ironically and metaphysically] existed before there even was a "jesus"

i suppose this also springboards into another discussion about people who are presently alive and have never heard about jesus
and what rubric god uses to appraise their relationship to him in the absence of a christ-figure;
but, i'm afraid i don't really have a compete answer here

like all of the answers i'm trying to supply, this is another area where i cannot claim absolute certainty
because it is the dominion of divine adjudication
and the best we can hope for is that the soverign justice of god works in harmony with the soverign grace of god
to "save" all he can
because we know it is his wish that no one should perish
that no one should be held without grace
that all humanity should receive the gift of grace and walk with god
like we did in the beginning
in eden
in the garden

and maybe that's the best way for us to understand salvation
as a present return to the garden of eden
where we walked with god as a friend

when we were saved from isolation

anyways, i hope that helps foster some more thinking on your part

talk to you soon!

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