Tanglible Salvation Theology

I would like, if you care to Societyvs , to explain your thoughts on what salvation is” (Bob)

Salvation, as I view it, has to be something tangible (a tangible experience). Previous biblical examples back me up here, from the Exodus to the Exile, salvation was always viewed as something that was a tangible experience.

So I see salvation, as taught in the NT, as salvation from one style of living to freedom in another version of it. The movement from some political or ideological paradigm to kingdom of God ethics is the movement I am talking about. It’s a movement of allegiances and paradigms – a ‘renewing of the mind’ to quote Paul.

As for the eternal view, well I do believe in an afterlife. However, since we have been given choice then I think we would be judged fairly by how we used that choice (not neccesarily if we hold this or that belief, but what we did with our beliefs). In the end, an eternal salvation depends on how one lives their life.

As for hell, there is no need for it – it was never used in previous Jewish theology. However ‘sheol’ was – which is basically the ‘grave’. Thus the need for a ‘resurrection’.

I would view the afterlife with this viewpoint – we live our life, then we pass on. Now if we lived lives worth redeeming in God’s eyes, we are resurrected to more life from death.

In this way, it all adds up – what you do now does effect what happens later, but the central piece of that theology is what you do now and our need for some help along the way.

*Comment first aired on Naked Pastor’s ‘No Smoking’ Blogpost

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12 thoughts on “Tanglible Salvation Theology

  1. I agree that the imagery of salvation uses tangible experiences that people would understand, but those experiences were never permanent. I think salvation has to be something beyond just an experience as it has to span from period to period.

    With your view that is depends on our actions and not our beliefs, why pick one religion over another?

  2. “I think salvation has to be something beyond just an experience as it has to span from period to period.” (Xander)

    I do mention that it is permanant in nature (ie: there is an afterlife). I would note that if there is an afterlife now, then there always was one – including in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob’s and Moses’ days as well. So although some of them lived through salvific episodes, they also went to the great beyond afterwards.

    “With your view that is depends on our actions and not our beliefs, why pick one religion over another?” (Xander)

    I see Jesus as the messiah figure (which is quite unique) and the things accomplished there, for Gentiles, was inclusion into the faith tree. I see some gratefulness for that + his teaching are quite helpful for building a successful paradigm for life. I don’t see the reason not to come, I am admitting that God is working in this faith (ie: tanglible salvation efforts).

    So all those things composed together may mean a very rewarding faith journey, where a person will be challenged, transformed, healed, and put in a solid direction. Are these not enough good reasons to join?

  3. Jason,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that salvation is tangible. But I think you’re putting the cart before the horse here.

    Salvation is tangible in the sense that the *effects* of salvation are tangible. If I’m truly on the path of salvation then my life will be bearing a certain type of fruit (to use biblical imagery). Salvation is not just an inward movement but an external one. So, I think we’re agreed on that point.

    However, I’d want to push you a little on this:

    “In the end, an eternal salvation depends on how one lives their life.”

    Here, you make salvation dependent on ones actions. This is a departure from the historic teachings of the Church which were passed down to us from the apostles themselves. The scriptures are clear, as Christian teaching has been (Protestants emphasize this a lot), that salvation is by faith in Christ. And this is key as far as I can tell, especially since, if salvation were *truly* dependent on how one lived their life then who could be saved? As Paul says, even our best works are like dirty rags soaked in menstruation.

    Does salvation manifest itself in good works? Sure, James even says that God saved us *to do* good works. But it’s not those good works that save us. They’re the fruit. And the real reason we’re able to produce said fruit is because we’re on the road that leads to salvation. The road marked by suffering and even death. But the road that ultimately leads to resurrection life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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  5. “If I’m truly on the path of salvation then my life will be bearing a certain type of fruit (to use biblical imagery).” (JT)

    I think we will be showing certain new attributes, while in the process of changing some old attributes (a type of replacement theology). I also think God does hear prayer and stuff of that nature (spiritual experiences) that sometimes are quite salvific in nature. Sometimes movements like the civil rights can prop up from movements that start in someone’s heart. There is a definite tangibility to some of this idea.

    “And this is key as far as I can tell, especially since, if salvation were *truly* dependent on how one lived their life then who could be saved?” (JT)

    I kind of get the problem here, it leads to a works based thinking and could eventually lead to someone condemning themselves. I see the full drawback to my theology.

    Here is how I view the works piece:

    Paul compares ‘our’ works to filthy rags – when he says ‘ours’ he means our ways of thinking and acting

    However, faith does have a scriptural path to follow – which means that God will be represented in those scriptures – as to what is deemed important in the kingdom of God. These are not ‘our’ works, these teachings come from God (which is also something Jesus is quite clear on).

    So once we switch from our mode of doing things to the kingdom ethics, we are in essence accepting a contract of sorts to abide by those ideals (similar to the following of the Torah in Judaism). We accept the teachings of Jesus as authoritative (from God) and we sign on the dotted line to accept those as what we will build our lives on (even if it goes contrary to societal norms).

    So who’s works are they actually, if someone does what is asked them of God? Should we turn and say ‘those are your works because you did them’ and take away from God what is rightfully His? Or should we turn and say ‘you do what is asked of God’ and who can say this is only this person’s ‘works’? It is a case of inspiration as I see it.

    “Sure, James even says that God saved us *to do* good works” (JT)

    Thing about James is he see’s these two ideas inter-twined and not seperated (faith and works). I agree with James, one without the other makes them both null. This is opposition to Paul. Although this is hard to make people see, Paul only talks about faith as the pathway needed for righteousness, James is careful not to make Paul’s mistake and skip on one’s actions as tied to that (thus why we see Paul’s Gentile communities in shambles half the time with various scandal after various scandal because it is noted in his letters, they needed direction of their actions).

    Fact is, they could be saying the same things with different emphasis. Paul is more concerned with the inclusion of the Gentiles and is asking them to just have faith to be included, which I agree with. However, in James’ letter, we see some clean up work being done – you started with faith but now you must build upon it – with the way you live your life.

    I think this idea from James is scattered throughout the gospels, most notably in parables which seem to be all about one’s actions playing a key role as to defining their faith. Foundations (rock and sand), Seed and Sower (some fall away and are quenched out), Sheep and Goats (the kingdom is made of ‘doers’).

    So to think your actions do not play some role in faith is like saying your actions don’t play a role in defining you. If you play guitar I would say your a guitarist – correct? If you break the law – the justice system will make sure to remove you from society – accurate? Everything around you is defined by what you do, not what you say or what you believe, but what you actually ‘do’ with what you say and believe. Why would the afterlife be any different?

    But this all depends where you start theologically and build from. I don’t start that humans are ‘all’ bad – or – original sin. I think we are created by God, instantly that makes us good/worthwhile. But Adam and Eve point to our drawback, ourselves and our wants. We will do things for ‘our selfs’ that might hurt others because we are selfish, we lose the garden by our own choices (ie: a good and peaceful life with others and God because we just had to have something at someone else’s detriment).

    So the way I see it is simple and keeps us accountable for our actions – which is what repentance is truly all about. If you want to see faith as some magical formula that all of a sudden makes us do better – so be it. I think it’s flawed but that’s just me.

  6. “Thing about James is he see’s these two ideas inter-twined and not seperated (faith and works). I agree with James, one without the other makes them both null. This is opposition to Paul. Although this is hard to make people see, Paul only talks about faith as the pathway needed for righteousness, James is careful not to make Paul’s mistake and skip on one’s actions as tied to that (thus why we see Paul’s Gentile communities in shambles half the time with various scandal after various scandal because it is noted in his letters, they needed direction of their actions).” (Societyvs)

    But Paul is talking about justification which is not what James is addressing. James says that the Christian life is not based on faith alone, which I agree with, but he is not saying that faith and works makes one justified before God.

    I do like your take on works though. If they are of God, they should belong to Him. My part is being obedient while He did the actual work. I will hold on to this one. Thanks.

  7. “But Paul is talking about justification…” (Xander)

    I agree, he is. We are entering into this faith, which Judaism has been doing for long before us, via faith. Our inclusion does not hinge on the law but on having faith.

    The difference I see with the term faith is I think it is an action word. Faith has a lot attached to it as a word – like prayer, like studying scripture, like following the teachings, etc. All of these encompass what it means to have faith in God. Faith is not something we can claim to have without any actions behind it, I think this is the point of James – likely clarifying for mistakes in Paul’s communities.

    “he is not saying that faith and works makes one justified before God.” (Xander)

    Odd thing is, humans use one’s actions for justification for what they say they are going to do (or we call them hypocrites or liars or whatever). Is our ways greater than Gods? God uses 1 thing – just faith – and we use 2 – faith and works. I also find it odd we know this pattern and have used for time immemorial (ie: thus law based societies) yet it holds no validity with God?

  8. I want to chime in on the Hell statement. In my opinion, God gives us an opportunity to come to Him while we live on this earth. If we choose to come to Him then we can spend this life and the afterlife with Him.

    If we don’t come to Him in this life, then we belong to the world. The world belongs to satan. So we belong to satan. In the afterlife we then will be under the authority of satan. What satan chooses to do with you is up to satan, not God. God doesn’t burn you with cigarettes and punish you for eternity, satan does. We make our choice to be with Him or satan.

    Jesus tells a story in Luke 16:19-31 about a man who was sent to hell. He asks for someone to go warn his brothers about hell so they might not end up in hell. But he was told they have people on earth to tell him about hell and they won’t change their mind if a dead person who has experienced hell, came and warned them.

    It seems harsh but God knows who will reject Him and know that they will never accepts Him so they are the ones who live eternally apart from God forever.

    Let’s image that I went to an orphanage everyday and ask all the children to come home with me. I did this for 10-15 years. Pretty soon I would just let the ones that wanted to stay, stay.

  9. “In the afterlife we then will be under the authority of satan. What satan chooses to do with you is up to satan, not God. God doesn’t burn you with cigarettes and punish you for eternity, satan does. We make our choice to be with Him or satan” (MBP)

    But in the afterlife, satan is thrown in to hell for punishment. How can the punished be punishing others?

  10. “What satan chooses to do with you is up to satan, not God. God doesn’t burn you with cigarettes and punish you for eternity, satan does. We make our choice to be with Him or satan.” (MBP)

    This is also called ‘dualism’ – it puts God and satan on a sort of even playing field as ‘dual gods’. Which convinces me even more hell and such ideas are derived directly from Greek mythologies.

    Let me explain what I mean by that – so you can see the similarities.

    Greek: Zeus (rules heaven) and Hades (rules underworld/hell) (brothers)

    Christianity: God (rules heaven) and satan (rules the underwolrd/hell)

    Problem is, with hell, is the wording used is actually ‘hades’. This is not a Jewish terminology and not handed down from them to Christianity (Judaism has never used this term). So where does hades come from?

    It was a Greek mythology idea about a god person that ruled the underworld, and you guessed it, it was ‘fire’. It’s not a far stretch to see how satan took on such hades like qualities and was added into the mix by Gentiles who felt their had to be ying-yang type quality for a heaven – there must also be a ‘hades/hell’.

    In fact, the more I study and see all these subtle nuances in Christianity – the more I am noticing the pagan influence from the Greco-Roman world and it’s impact on Christianity (which was supposed to be a pseduo Jewish form of religion). I could easily mention the virgin birth as one of those symbols. The Trinity is another. Hell is obvious (because of the wording used). Even the way we view God – reminds me of how Zeus was viewed in the Greek mythologies.

    Thus if hell is real, so is Zeus.

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  12. Salvation: Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men! What a strange message. The way to win is war. I want to get mine — and who cares about you. All of the ‘deadly sins’ have been called out!

    It seems to me that the Exodus story epitomizes salvation — practical survival — for the Jewish nation. It is an experience. The Exodus also had an ongoing vision of God supporting the life of the nation. Isaiah includes more, an idea of individual, not just national, accountability and reward. The OT reports many types of help, or salvation, i.e. food, marriage, descendants, healing, etc.

    At the time of Jesus the major hope for salvation was freedom from Rome, and return of Israel as an independent and important nation. Also, at the time of Jesus, individuals also called out for help for their personal problems.

    Jesus healed. Jesus fed. Jesus forgave. All of these were salve for personal needs. But the message had changed. He asked them to come to him for help (and showed that he could help)! He mentioned that there was a kingdom among them (the kingdom of heaven). He did not promise to free them from Rome or from each other.

    Salvation became life in an alternate universe (the kingdom of heaven). God was sovereign, not Rome, not religion, not rules and regulations. Just as the Jews were Jews in a Roman kingdom, they now had the opportunity to become citizens of an alternate kingdom, a place of peace and safety. Since the Spirit of God was present in this kingdom, they could expect his daily presence and help to become sons of God (and often for practical help). It was important that they were as generous with their good will toward men as God had been generous with them.

    Salvation invaded Earth and allowed each person to become a member of the kingdom of God. This kingdom was charged with becoming a vision of hope for all mankind. And, as had always been, help was available to all men. Salvation. Heaven on Earth. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to men.

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