The Dogma Files – Part 1: Salvation

salvation_intro_at_the_crossOk, so here we go.  This will be the first installment of a series of posts on the core tenets of the Christian faith.  I do not claim to hold the keys to “absolute truth” and I am definitely not saying it’s my way or the highway.  I am merely positing my own conjectures as it relates to these tenets.  In my personal journey of Christian faith, I have found that many of the things that I was taught in a conservative college or church do not hold water for me.  Fortunately or unfortunately my intellect got in the way of me swallowing dogmatic teachings whole-cloth without engaging them for myself.  I would encourage anyone reading these posts to do the same.  Theological dialogue and cognition are extremely healthy and, I think, lead us to a more sustainable image of and experience/relationship with God.  This post will be on salvation where the topic of atonement theory (how we are saved) will be kept for another post.

Say this prayer with me: “I am a terrible sinner and have a great propensity for doing evil things because of the fall through Adam and Eve.  Through the blood of Jesus who died on a cross, sent by God to take away my sins and the sins of the world, I can be saved and escape the fires of eternal damnation. . . . ”  Blah.  Blah. Blah.  If you were actually praying along, STOP!  The idea that God could not redeem humankind and all of creation without killing his own son is a terrible insult to the hugeness of God.

Salvation has typically been described as a one-time event often precipitated by an altar call and much self-flagellation and tears.  It is generally described as an individual deal with God to ensure eternal bliss in the after-life and avoid the punishment that we rightfully deserve.  What if, however, salvation was NOT an individual thing, but a communal one?  What if it didn’t mean saying a magic mantra and putting on a WWJD bracelet (lest we slip up and risk losing our salvation), but was a way of life and redemption in relationship with one another right here on THIS earth?  

Before I start to sound too trite (too late?) let me say that I do believe in sin.  We will get into this in a later post, but there is no doubt that we humans do really crappy things to one another and cause a lot of pain.  The evidence of this is never far.  How, though, can cutting a deal with God to save my own rear end regardless of what I do during my time here on this spinning rock going to make manifest the kin-dom of God that Jesus spoke of? (More on this later)  If salvation is merely an individual transaction without redemption at the communal level, I would opine that it’s a sign of extreme selfishness.

Now that I’ve rallied about what I think salvation isn’t or shouldn’t be, let me say what I think it is and ought to be.  Salvation should be a means of ending oppression and injustice in the same systemic way that they come about.  By teaching youth that anger and violence is not the only way, by showing adults and children that there are wise ways to handle money in which all can have their needs met, by demonstrating love and compassion for those in need around us and lifting up the downtrodden and weak – in these things salvation can become a reality.  Step-by-step, person-by-person we can can “save” ourselves and one another by living lives true to ourselves and to the God that indwells us.  Might this be what Jesus meant when he spoke of the gospel and the kin-dom of God?  More on these two themes soon.

2 Responses to “The Dogma Files – Part 1: Salvation”

  1. John Lovestrand Says:

    Great post! I read part of it aloud earlier today over coffee with Sandra and Jon and Tracey in Geneva, which then led to a thoughtful discussion regarding salvation and related themes. Thank you. JL

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