What is salvation?
In my first post in this series I proposed the below chart as a way of answering that important question. In this post I will comment on the third sector (3).
|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)|
Sector 3 identifies salvation as the future transformation of presently broken human persons (in both body and soul) into participants of a new humanity (both body and soul) in the new heavens and new earth.
To identify our personal future glorification as only the resurrection of the body is reductionistic. It is not comprehensive enough in the chart. Rather, our glorification is a metaphorsis into the likeness of Jesus the Messiah–the new human–in both body and soul; it is a passing from the old to the new in every way, a wholistic salvation of the person.
We are saved from death (thus, the resurrection of our bodies) and we are saved from corruption (thus, our souls–inner life–are fully transformed). Through our union with Christ, we are a recreated humanity as the image of God. This is our final state of glorification as we are united with the glorified Christ–the new human who reigns over creation in a glorified (resurrected) body.
This resurrected body is neither immaterial nor spiritual (that is, ethereal). Rather it is material and Spiritual. What I mean is our bodies will have material substance–they will share in the materiality of the new heaven and new earth, but they will be animated by the Holy Spirit rather than by “flesh and blood.” The life of the immortal body is not sustained by nutrition and blood (“life is in the blood”) as in the Adamic world, but it is sustained by the life-giving Spirit according to the model of the New Adam. The hope of the Christian faith is not the immortal soul, but the immortal body which is a part of the new creation in the new heaven and new earth. Our redemption–our salvation–includes the redemption of our bodies.
The soul–our inner likeness with God, our theosis–is perfected in the new heaven and new earth. While the process of perfection began in the past and continues in the present, it is not complete until we fully participate in the life of Christ at our resurrection. Then we shall fully be as he is though we do not know what that is like as we only now experience a foretaste of that future. We, like Jesus, will experience transfiguration in the new creation. We will be permanently transfigured into the image of God, a theosis of the new humanity in both body and soul.
We will be saved as part of the new creation to image God in the new heavens and new earth. We will be saved for eternal communion with God and to serve God as his images in the new temple, the new creation. God will save us to restore our original dignity and function, and God will glorify us by reinstating our dominion (reign) over the creation. Thus, with transformed bodies and souls we will again co-rule with God in the cosmos he created.