The concept of 'salvation'

possibility

Member
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Points
3
I'm going to declare my profound ignorance here.

I was raised Catholic, and never really thought much about this Christian idea of 'salvation', especially since my belief in 'heaven' and 'hell' as places went by way of Santa Claus.

Lately I have been trying to get my head around it, but it doesn't seem to make sense unless you buy into the idea of 'heaven' and 'hell' being actual locations and the 'soul' being somehow attached to the body in life, separating upon death and making a 'journey' that is dependent on either the sum of one's life's work or some public declaration of 'faith', depending on your interpretation of the bible.

Salvation was once described to me as 'divine restoration of the soul upon death'. This seems like mythology masquerading as fact, in my opinion. When it is said that we are 'saved', does it mean that our 'soul' is saved from destruction or from eternal torture? And does this 'soul' contain our identity, our memories, our spiritual connection to others or all of the above? None of this seems to be answered in the bible, and any subsequent attempts to explain it through biblical scholarship reads to me like science fiction, taking a 'what if?' scenario and running with it as if it were the real world.

Included in this confusion in my head is the notion of symbolic 'atonement', including confession of sins and the very Catholic idea of indulgences - which doesn't sit well with me at all. It seems like a renewal of sacrifices, burnt offerings, or the 'whipping boys' of medieval times, and only confuses the connection between behaviour and consequence - not something I feel I can teach my children in all conscience.

Is the concept of 'salvation' an outdated or specifically 'fundie' notion, or is there a more appropriate description of it in modern theology?
 

A Cup Of Tea

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,311
Reaction score
569
Points
108
I'm not a Christian myself, of course, but with what I know I have a hard time seeing what is left of Christianity without Salvation. It seems to me that it is what everything else is built upon.
 

wil

UNeyeR1
Moderator
Messages
23,154
Reaction score
2,656
Points
108
Location
a figment of your imagination
Hopefully you will get the Catholic response from Thomas, and a more traditional or fundamentalist approach from others.

I had a Unity preacher friend who when someone came to the church saying "Sister I am here to be saved" She responded "Well you've come to the wrong place..here we teach you to save yourself" Our concepts may fall more in line with your way of thinking... Sin is our separation from G!d, the Good, in consciousness. Salvation is now--not something that occurs after death. It happens whenever we turn our thoughts from fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to thoughts of love, harmony, joy, and peace. The "fall" takes place in consciousness whenever we fall into negative habits of thinking. Heaven and hell are states of consciousness, not geographical locations. We make our own heaven or hell here and now by our thoughts, words, and deeds.

In Sunday school I used to explain that while one child is sitting in class complaining the teacher is mean and out to get them, others in class think the teacher is wonderful and incredibly helpful for their learning process. That one may think the subject matter is boring and wish it was over, and another may think it is intriguing and want to know more. That the main difference between the two was perspective...and if either changed their perspective, their outlook and response would be different. One in heaven, the other in hell, all by their interpretation and consciousness. When my children complained about a teacher...I told them that that was great...that in school you are there to prepare yourself for life, and in life, at work, and in your neighborhood you will encounter people that you have issues with...this teacher is preparing them for that, they must learn to either change their perspective, or simply get used to the situation as they will continue to run into this situation.

And yes ACOT, it is quite the important factor in keeping a positive outlook and enjoyable time during this plane of existence.
 

possibility

Member
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Points
3
Hi wil, and thanks for your perspective.

I follow your concept that heaven and hell are more a matter of perspective in this life, and that our focus on fear in particular, as well as other physiological responses to our environment, keep us from developing an awareness of God in all life and all things. But I think perhaps it also follows through beyond death - in that our awareness of (and focus on) this eternal spiritual connection to life is 'heaven', and 'hell' is the fulfilment of our greatest evolutionary fears: that our connection to life ends completely at our physical death, and all our efforts to survive, to multiply and benefit ourselves are for nought in the end.

I guess I never really saw a need to be 'saved' by something external to myself, except perhaps when I was little and thought of God and the saints as invisible guardians - but even then it felt more like protection than salvation. Since adolescence this awareness became more a source of wisdom, a guide for my thoughts, pointing my attention towards the possibility of peace, joy and hope in the world when I chose to be aware of it, but it was always my own choices, my turning away from or towards this awareness that 'saved' me, if we look at it from this perspective. It never felt like some external 'force' stepping in, but a part of me and everything around me simultaneously.

If this is the case, then the word 'salvation' doesn't seem to fit - not if you're expected to 'save yourself'. The capacity to save oneself negates the need to 'be saved'. So the word 'salvation' implies a passivity to which I have struggled to relate. It may well be because I never felt 'separated' from God, even as my perception of it changed, even in those periods when I 'turned away'. I don't know. I hope I'm making some sense here.


ACOT, I can see how an external perspective of Christianity may point to 'salvation' as the foundation on which everything to do with Christianity is built. This is one of the reasons why I raised this question. Perhaps it is the main component some Christians may see 'missing' in another's perspective when they discuss Christianity with those of other faiths. Perhaps it is how they see the difference between you and them, or how you might interpret it - that they are 'saved' and you are not. I can't say I've ever seen it that way, or been taught that distinction, but then my family, church and school community seemed to view Catholicism as more of a culture, and never actively sought to convert others (only to breed more Catholics). I wonder if perhaps this is the difference.

Personally, I have also had people argue that either the resurrection, the trinity or the bible is the 'whole point' of Christianity, and insist that 'nothing would be left of Christianity' should this one vital component be reformed, removed or rejected as defined. I guess I see my faith as much broader, less defined than that. Less fragile, possibly (depending on your perspective). It's probably just paranoia, but I often get a feeling that I am being 'shut out' of Christianity with these arguments.

So be it. I will continue my faith journey. After all, 'What's in a name?'
 

A Cup Of Tea

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,311
Reaction score
569
Points
108
I know our resident Catholic @Thomas is going to be AFK for a while, but perhaps we are discarding Salvation because we have a very fixed idea of what it is, and perhaps it can be more then that? I'm fairly certain that the effort to seek Salvation is our own but that it is a spiritual matter and the Divine is the ultimate authority on how and why a person is saved. But what do I know.

ACOT, I can see how an external perspective of Christianity may point to 'salvation' as the foundation on which everything to do with Christianity is built. This is one of the reasons why I raised this question. Perhaps it is the main component some Christians may see 'missing' in another's perspective when they discuss Christianity with those of other faiths. Perhaps it is how they see the difference between you and them, or how you might interpret it - that they are 'saved' and you are not. I can't say I've ever seen it that way, or been taught that distinction, but then my family, church and school community seemed to view Catholicism as more of a culture, and never actively sought to convert others (only to breed more Catholics). I wonder if perhaps this is the difference.

Personally, I have also had people argue that either the resurrection, the trinity or the bible is the 'whole point' of Christianity, and insist that 'nothing would be left of Christianity' should this one vital component be reformed, removed or rejected as defined. I guess I see my faith as much broader, less defined than that. Less fragile, possibly (depending on your perspective). It's probably just paranoia, but I often get a feeling that I am being 'shut out' of Christianity with these arguments.

So be it. I will continue my faith journey. After all, 'What's in a name?'

This is very interesting to me. You seem to want to belong to Christian community but you don't mention anything in Christian theology that is important to you? What is it to be a Christian to you?
 

wil

UNeyeR1
Moderator
Messages
23,154
Reaction score
2,656
Points
108
Location
a figment of your imagination
But I think perhaps it also follows through beyond death - in that our awareness of (and focus on) this eternal spiritual connection to life is 'heaven', and 'hell' is the fulfilment of our greatest evolutionary fears: that our connection to life ends completely at our physical death,
Life after death for me falls under a wish list, a state of hope, nothing provable in any way...as you indicated a fear that as we age we grab onto not wanting this to end.
But what do I know.
exactly
 

Nick the Pilot

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,837
Reaction score
72
Points
48
Location
Tokyo, Japan
Hi Possibility,

I would like to give you an answer to your question from a Buddhist-like perspective. In this theory, 'salvation' refers to being saved from having to go through any more required incarnations. (For the most part, incarnations are seen as being unhappy and stressful times.) But such 'salvation' is seen as something we earn ourselves through hard work, rather than something that is granted to us from another person or from God. I would say that we 'save' ourselves.
 

Aussie Thoughts

Just my 2 cents
Messages
1,284
Reaction score
414
Points
83
Location
Right Here
Well from a Christian perspective, mine, regardless of how many lives you may or may not have had, depending on your stance on that issue, at the end of the day, we all fall short. Hence the reason Christ died on the cross for our sins. Now, that doesn't mean salvation through Christ is a done deal or we no longer must strive to follow a righteous path. Far from it. For when all is said and done, each man will still be judged by his works. It's just that, works alone may not be enough to get the job done.
 

possibility

Member
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Points
3
Thank you to everyone who has offered their perspective on salvation. I am processing it all...

This is very interesting to me. You seem to want to belong to Christian community but you don't mention anything in Christian theology that is important to you? What is it to be a Christian to you?

That's a good question, ACOT - one I've been asking myself a lot lately.

Maybe it is the familiar language that keeps me here, to some extent. Despite where I'm going with it, I still feel most comfortable discussing my faith journey within the discourse of Christianity. It's also a great support to belong to a community whose values align, and who are essentially striving for similar things in life, and supporting each other in that.

But I was born belonging to the Christian community. Despite how different my faith is now from what I was taught by my parents and teachers, I've not found sufficient reason to reject Christianity as an identity. I think it's about wanting to not be rejected - about being labelled 'not Christian' by others, as if I crossed an invisible line somewhere. If I'm not Christian to you, then who do you say I am, and why does that matter?

Or perhaps I appear to be sitting on a fence. But I've been searching this area for a while now, and I've yet to find a fence for me to sit on. I don't see a clear line where Christianity ends and something 'not Christian' begins. I suspect this may be the case with faith in general. So I'm interested in challenging where people think they can draw a line between one religion and another.

For what it's worth, being a Christian, to me, is striving to follow the human example of Jesus, who instructed his contemporaries to seek an intimate relationship with God as 'father', scaffolding from the Hebrew God of the Old Testament to the fullness of the experience he understood to be God as Spirit. Christianity, to me, is not the 'religion' and its many denominations (ie. fences) we have constructed over time, but this journey of faith that we were called to follow and share with 'all nations' (ie. ignore the fences).

What is important to me is discovering and sharing the nature of our connection to 'God'.
 

Thomas

Administrator
Admin
Messages
12,581
Reaction score
2,747
Points
108
Maybe it is the familiar language that keeps me here, to some extent. Despite where I'm going with it, I still feel most comfortable discussing my faith journey within the discourse of Christianity. It's also a great support to belong to a community whose values align, and who are essentially striving for similar things in life, and supporting each other in that.
Kudos for that.

Or perhaps I appear to be sitting on a fence. But I've been searching this area for a while now, and I've yet to find a fence for me to sit on.
I would suggest Christian Platonism is a fence you might find fruitful!

I don't see a clear line where Christianity ends and something 'not Christian' begins. I suspect this may be the case with faith in general. So I'm interested in challenging where people think they can draw a line between one religion and another.
Again, Christian Platonism often crosses that boundary as far as the more 'orthodox' are concerned, but really its a lack of depth of understanding you're encountering. CP, as its name suggests, make great reference to 'pagan' philosophies and Greek thought, and there is a danger of wandering 'off piste' if one Platonises Christianity (rather than, as someone once said, 'baptising Plato')— rendering an holistic message in dualistist terms. Arius' 'error' was in doing just that, and it tore Christianity in half.

For what it's worth, being a Christian, to me, is striving to follow the human example of Jesus, who instructed his contemporaries to seek an intimate relationship with God as 'father', scaffolding from the Hebrew God of the Old Testament to the fullness of the experience he understood to be God as Spirit.
Bravo! Encore! I would go on and repeat a comment from my saintly course tutor when he suggested my path was 'Christianity in dialogue with the Greek Philosophical Tradition.'

To me, is not the 'religion' and its many denominations (ie. fences) we have constructed over time, but this journey of faith that we were called to follow and share with 'all nations' (ie. ignore the fences).
In time I tend — perhaps simplistically — to see those fences as either:
A tragic misconception of doctrine, such as the 'schisms' between the Latin West and Greek East, or the Latins and the Greeks with Egyptian Copts. In both cases I really believe the 'schism' can be healed in an instant if both sides possessed the honest desire to overcome nationalism and politics. Some of my best dialogues have been on that basis.

An attempt to 'rationalise' the — for want of a better term — 'supernatural' or the 'mystical' away and render the whole thing in human subjective terms — in effect putting man at the centre and God in a box. It's my critique of the New Age, riddled with self-focused idealisms ... at least, that's the way I see it. I find the language barren, the metaphysics muddled, the philosophy riddled with contradictions, the whole reduced to vague, abstract concepts which falls between 'the fences' of the revealed Traditions, contemporary scientific thought, and psychoactive chemicals!

What is important to me is discovering and sharing the nature of our connection to 'God'.
And me ... but I find modern popular liberal theologies tend to end up projecting an image of God according to its sociopolitical ideologies; Each attempts to define and possess Jesus as the exemplar of a given place and age, a reflection (dare I say mirage) of the 'ephemeral moment' (and consequently an idolatry), rather than a Revelation of the Eternal and the Changeless.

As an aside, have you looked at The Sophia Perennis? Look at Frithjof Schuon (Follow the link and I'd look at 'Some difficulties Found in Sacred Scriptures' and 'The Perennial Philosophy' — but take his Christian criticisms with a pinch of salt, he didn't have access to the Fathers they way they are available today — oh, and especially The Human Margin) or René Guenon (Oriental Metaphysics), although the latter is somewhat austere and caustic ... lastly I cannot recommend enough The Veil of the Temple by Marco Pallis (A Tibetan Buddhist) — This Is It. If there is one text that unlocked the whole shebang for me, this is the one.

If I'd place the texts cited in order: The Veil of the Temple, Oriental metaphysics, The Human Margin.
 

Ijaz Ahmad Ahmadi

Established Member
Messages
44
Reaction score
20
Points
8
Jesus said about enteral life:
1. Matthew 19:17: “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

Then bible says
2. Ezekiel 18:20-21: The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die.
Again bible says,
3. (2 Chronicles 7:14): if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
These people got righteousness in the sight of God, without believing the death of Jesus on the cross for their sins.
 

Ijaz Ahmad Ahmadi

Established Member
Messages
44
Reaction score
20
Points
8
4. Luke 1:5-6: In the time of Herod king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.
 
Top