Sketching Salvation

Sketchbook -- SalvationThis is part of a developing series – consolidating, clarifying, and (perhaps) expanding ideas presented in this blog. These posts are, as it were, pages in my sketchbook on faith and theology.
   Part 1 — God
   Part 2 — Bible
   Part 3 — Yeshua
   Part 4 — Crucifixion
   Part 5 — Resurrection
   Part 6 — Ascension
  Part 7 — Faith

While I draw deeply from the wells of a host of significant thinkers and writers, this is a very personal undertaking for which I bear full responsibility for any distortions or mis-use of their ideas.

Sketching Salvation

I don’t understand why Christians are so overly focused on salvation. Can it really be true the the most important goal of life is to get beyond life? Can 13.9 billion years of the universe’s unfolding count for nothing other than an opportunity for true believers to get out of this earthly existence into a heavenly after-life someplace else, wherever that might be?

Of course, after Augustine promulgated the doctrine of original sin, the operant rhetoric has suggested that each person must appeal to God and God Savior for salvation. Salvation has become a gift for those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Theological favor-trading and arrogance rears its ugly head. Is there no alternative, no option to this universal us / them game – “We win; You lose!”?

Paul Tillich (The Eternal Now, page 113) wrote:

Perhaps it is still possible for the words salvation, saved, and saviour to be saved themselves. They are profound in their original meaning, but this has been covered by the dust of the centuries and emaciation by mechanical repetition.”

The root of “salvation” is healing or wholeness. Salvation is not about escaping life; instead, it is fully investing in life. It is about life lived to its fullest – and that fulness includes self, others, and the creation. John Biersdorf speaks of the healing of purpose (in hils book by that same name) as “the mystery of Jesus’ call to his disciples.” (page 21) Salvation, as the healing of purpose, is “the process by which we hear the name for our vocation, our purpose, and decide to realize it in action.” (page 190) It is attending to the insistence and carrying out a faithful response. Salvation, like faith, is not a destination; it is a journey. And it is not a journey alone. To be whole, to be saved, is to be connected. It is to be in community, in solidarity with the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. It is to be engaged in the struggle for justice (that is, the healing of purpose for public communities) and care for the creation (the healing of nature’s purpose; restoring wholeness to the earth).

In accord with traditional theology, it is correct to presume that such healing of purpose is dependent upon a divine energy, an inner divine energy. As Yeshua said on more than one occasion, “Your faith has made you whole.” The resources for healing (physical healing and a healing of purpose are already present within each of us, within others, and within creation. Those resources have to be accessed and energized.

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