What is salvation?
Seems like a simple question. Maybe, but maybe not. There are certainly uncomplicated aspects to answering the question, but a “comprehensive” picture is an integrated one that explores the question from various angles.
The question may seem simple because it has often been answered simplistically. Or, perhaps better, it has often been answered with a focus on one dimension or aspect of salvation. And, in addition, it is often answered without a salvation history or redemptive history perspective, that is, the cosmic and communal dimensions of salvation have often been ignored or neglected in defining “salvation.”
In a series of coming posts, I want to explore this question.
My students know that I like charts…or at least drawing on the board (both chalk and white, though I prefer the white ones). Charts are helpful for “big picture” views, identifying various dimensions of the subject and organizing thoughts. But charts can also be constraining as they box us into particular ways of looking at a question and they are often reductionistic rather than illuminating. Nevertheless, I employ charts because they are more helpful than risky.
Below is a chart that I will explain in coming posts.
Salvation is most often defined as the personal forgiveness of sins and a personal relationship with God (sector 1) but rarely described as a participation in the cosmic redemption of the creation (sector 8).
|Personal||Forgiveness of Sins and Relationship with God (1)||Moral (Inner and Outer) Transformation (2)||Resurrection of the Body (3)|
|Communal||One Body of Christ: One New Society (4)||Reconciliation and Social Transformation (5)||The Fullness of the Kingdom of God (6)|
|Cosmic||Resurrection and Exaltation of Jesus (7)||Redemptive Emergence of New Creation (8)||New Heaven and New Earth (9)|
I will leave you to ponder the chart as you desire and anticipate (if that is the right word 🙂 ) the next post that will begin to unpack my wholistic understanding of salvation.
Peace, John Mark