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The Problems With Collective Salvation


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Hi. I've been reading into Progressive Christianity and its teachings, and so far, I agree with most of its teachings. However, I can't say I agree with 100% of it because of how I interpret it. The Wikipedia article says that this faith stresses collective salvation, which says that it takes the actions and sacrifices of all believers to influence the faith. The problem with that is that this is not talked about in the Bible, which emphasizes that the individual must let Jesus into their heart to achieve salvation. The actions of non-Christians in society are irrelevant, because the Bible serves as a guide for Christ's followers, only.

 

This philosophy also brings up a very important question: do the actions of a few affect all believers? In other words, are all followers punished equally for the crimes of society, even if we are not each responsible for it? Will men like Martin Luther King, Jr. be punished for racism even if they are not guilty of it, for example? If we are individually punished or rewarded for our actions, then technically there is no "collectivity".

 

I'd appreciate someone clearing this all up for me. Thanks.

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Will men like Martin Luther King, Jr. be punished for racism even if they are not guilty of it, for example? If we are individually punished or rewarded for our actions, then technically there is no "collectivity".

Scott,

 

First, welcome. Second, I am not familiar with the term 'collective salvation' so I will leave it to others to address.

 

It seems to me that since we don't live in social isolation, the acts of each of us punish and reward others in some way; Some very profoundly, some much more indirectly.

 

I would say that MLK was absolutely punished for racism. Every day of his life he faced issues of discrimination. Was he rewarded? I can't speak for him, but I suspect he would say that what he accomplished was reward beyond his dreams. We are not there yet, but we elected a black man president of the United States a couple of years ago. That would not have been possible without MLK's suffering.

 

George

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Scott,

 

First, welcome. Second, I am not familiar with the term 'collective salvation' so I will leave it to others to address.

 

It seems to me that since we don't live in social isolation, the acts of each of us punish and reward others in some way; Some very profoundly, some much more indirectly.

 

I would say that MLK was absolutely punished for racism. Every day of his life he faced issues of discrimination. Was he rewarded? I can't speak for him, but I suspect he would say that what he accomplished was reward beyond his dreams. We are not there yet, but we elected a black man president of the United States a couple of years ago. That would not have been possible without MLK's suffering.

 

George

That seems a little... for lack of a better word... figurative. While you are right that we're affected by the actions of others, I don't believe that God would punish us directly in the afterlife for what we didn't do. Another example: some people rob banks and drive planes into towers, so why would God lay the blame on everybody for what Robber Bob or Frank the Terrorist did?

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That seems a little... for lack of a better word... figurative. While you are right that we're affected by the actions of others, I don't believe that God would punish us directly in the afterlife for what we didn't do. Another example: some people rob banks and drive planes into towers, so why would God lay the blame on everybody for what Robber Bob or Frank the Terrorist did?

Scott,

 

You are presuming there is an after-life reward or punishment. I am not convinced of this. However, I am convinced that there are consequences in this life of our actions. So, I think there is ample benefit of following the Golden Rule.

 

George

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Hi. I've been reading into Progressive Christianity and its teachings, and so far, I agree with most of its teachings. However, I can't say I agree with 100% of it because of how I interpret it. The Wikipedia article says that this faith stresses collective salvation, which says that it takes the actions and sacrifices of all believers to influence the faith. The problem with that is that this is not talked about in the Bible, which emphasizes that the individual must let Jesus into their heart to achieve salvation. The actions of non-Christians in society are irrelevant, because the Bible serves as a guide for Christ's followers, only.

 

This philosophy also brings up a very important question: do the actions of a few affect all believers? In other words, are all followers punished equally for the crimes of society, even if we are not each responsible for it? Will men like Martin Luther King, Jr. be punished for racism even if they are not guilty of it, for example? If we are individually punished or rewarded for our actions, then technically there is no "collectivity".

 

I'd appreciate someone clearing this all up for me. Thanks.

 

Scott,

 

First of all welcome to the forum. Perhaps you will take some time and introduce yourself in the introductions area so we can learn a little of your background to better understand where you are coming from and make you feel more at home here.

 

Since you posted here first, let me say i don't believe progressive Christianity has a set of teachings other than general principles outlined in the eight points you will find here in the 8 points forum. We have no formal dogma or doctrine. It is progressive in that other than general agreement with the 8 points, one is not required to accept any particular teaching of an individual. Each person who considers himself a progressive here is on an individual journey progressing at his/her own rate. There is no "official teachings" for progressive Christians as such although most here seem to be in agreement on many general points of some doctrines, views, teachings or beliefs. I believe you will find on examination PC is not about fixed views or organized religious beliefs.

 

While you may be of the opinion that "The actions of non-Christians in society are irrelevant, because the Bible serves as a guide for Christ's followers, only." i believe you would find disagreement with that statement here but this area is not for debate so i will not address it nor the collective salvation issue you raise.

 

As a moderator i would ask you to please clarify if you are in general agreement with the 8 points. If not, you are still most welcome here but i would ask you to please post in the debate and dialog section with your questions as this area, in the guidelines, is reserved for those only in agreement with the 8 points.

 

Looking forward to hearing form you and depending on your response we would be happy to move this thread to the other area for you

 

JosephM (as Moderator)

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Scott,

 

First of all welcome to the forum. Perhaps you will take some time and introduce yourself in the introductions area so we can learn a little of your background to better understand where you are coming from and make you feel more at home here.

 

Since you posted here first, let me say i don't believe progressive Christianity has a set of teachings other than general principles outlined in the eight points you will find here in the 8 points forum. We have no formal dogma or doctrine. It is progressive in that other than general agreement with the 8 points, one is not required to accept any particular teaching of an individual. Each person who considers himself a progressive here is on an individual journey progressing at his/her own rate. There is no official teaching as such though most here seem to be in agreement on many general points of some doctrines, views, teachiongs or beliefs.

 

While you may be of the opinion that "The actions of non-Christians in society are irrelevant, because the Bible serves as a guide for Christ's followers, only." i believe you would find disagreement with that statement here but this area is not for debate so i will not address it.

 

As a moderator i would ask you to please clarify if you are in general agreement with the 8 points. If not, you are still most welcome here but i would ask you to please post in the debate and dialog section with your questions as this area in the guidelines is reserved for those only in agreement with the 8 points.

 

Looking forward to hearing form you and depending on your response we would be happy to move this thread to the other area for you

 

JosephM (as Moderator)

I am fully in agreement with the 8 points. It's collective salvation that I don't agree with based on how I interpret it, but I'll take your word for it if it's not officially what progressive Christians follow.

 

Thank you.

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Scott,

Thanks for your response,

How exactly do you interpret it so others can share their view with you?

I interpret collective salvation as the idea that each follower of a faith influences their religion, and that people who go by it believe that if not everyone can be saved, then no one can be saved. It sounds to be, in a religious sense, a rather Marxist way of seeing things.

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The Wikipedia article says that this faith stresses collective salvation, which says that it takes the actions and sacrifices of all believers to influence the faith. The problem with that is that this is not talked about in the Bible, which emphasizes that the individual must let Jesus into their heart to achieve salvation. The actions of non-Christians in society are irrelevant, because the Bible serves as a guide for Christ's followers, only.

 

Are you perhaps referring to Unitarian Universal faith? That's the only Christian expression I can think of that would adhere to something one could call "collective salvation." Adherents believe that all of mankind is saved from the wrath of G-d. I don't know enough of the religion to enlighten you on exactly HOW that is accomplished.

 

I am Jewish, so we do believe that there are some sins (although, personally, I don't use that term - I prefer mistakes) of which we are collectively guilty (racism being one of them), and that only we as a community can ask forgiveness and seek redemption. It is not G-d's problem, in other words. If you ever attend a Yom Kippur service, you will see this theme acted out during the Kol Nidre section.

 

 

 

This philosophy also brings up a very important question: do the actions of a few affect all believers? In other words, are all followers punished equally for the crimes of society, even if we are not each responsible for it? Will men like Martin Luther King, Jr. be punished for racism even if they are not guilty of it, for example? If we are individually punished or rewarded for our actions, then technically there is no "collectivity".

 

I would have to agree with others here and answer in the affirmative. The examples given illustrate the point adequately.

 

BTW, welcome to the Forum!

 

NORM

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This "collective salvation" is something I'm not familiar with, at least as it is being presented, explained here. I'd have to say that this idea as being presented here is certainly not a part of, nor consistent with, my beleifs system.

 

Jenell

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Scott of faith, I just went and read the entire Wikipedia entry for "Progressive Christianity" just to see what you are talking about, and I found nothing in the entire entry even remotely similar to what you are stating, nor any mention of a 'collective salvation"...can you clarify WHERE you are finding this?

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Btw. also, did search wikipedia and there is an entry titled "collective salvation" that pretty much repeats what you are saying here, scott of faith, but there is nothing there either that even remotely connects if or relates it to Progressive Christianity....???

Very confusing.

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I think perhaps what is being referred to is Universalism. I can't speak for all PCs, but it seems to me that the idea of "salvation" in a traditional sense doesn't find much emphasis around these parts. :lol:

 

I would, however, think that a collective nature of salvation, if understood as advancing the kingdom of God, has strong consonance with what we tend to find in PC thought. 'No man is an island' is a truism for a reason. :)

 

Welcome to the forum Scott. Thanks for the question.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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Actually, neither what scott is describing as 'collective salvation', which is consistent with the Wikipedia entry titled "collective salvation", is also not consistent with Universalism, either. Since Wikipedia references are being used here, I also read the "Universalism" entry, again, found no mention of 'collective salavation' or the ideas that term seems to express.

So I don't see how anyone would connect it to PC, however, "collective salvation" was not a term or concept I remember encountering before, but now, lol, thanks to scott and my little reading sprint the past hour, I now know about something I didn't before.

Jenell

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Jenell,

 

I've never heard of "collective salvation" either. It was probably rather presumptuous of me to link it to universalism. After reading Scott's initial post more closely, I get the sense of a more social vision of salvation being referred to. Perhaps it is individualistic faith versus a social nature of faith that he has in mind. If this is what he has in mind, I would say that progressive Christians do tend to respect faith as a social reality, where individual faith is not entirely divorced from social realization. I think there is a lot of support for this in the Bible. But I will cease to be presumptuous and allow Scott to elaborate if he wishes. Suffice it to say that this would not be a "tenet" of progressive Christianity either way -- perhaps a tendency, if you will, but not a matter of doctrine (I'm not sure we actually have any doctrine per se, if we do it is so broad so as to be difficult to pin down).

 

Thanks,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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I find the topic of much interest, but like others, will await further clarification - and perhaps a move of the topic - before breaking into my perhaps all too familiar waffle........(already seeking a few quotes from Merton to pad it out...... :D )

 

Whatever, welcome Scott of Faith.

 

Derek

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In reading over the Wikipedia article on 'collective salvation,' I have a hard time reconciling this with Progressive Christianity, even though, as pointed out by others, there is no special dogma or doctrine to PC and it encompasses a wide variety of beliefs. But, this idea would seem contrary to a worldview that motivates PC.

 

It does seem entirely consistent with the theme of the Deuteronomistic Historian in the Bible in which the Jews are collectively punished and rewarded, as a people, for loyalty to Yahweh. The theme of these writings is a cycle of apostasy > punishment > repentance > deliverance. This reward/punishment was, of course, in the life of the community, not an afterlife since there was no such concept in Judaism at that time.

 

George

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Irrespective of what the Bible may or may not teach, for me I recognise a dimension of "justice" that involves more than just an exchange between any believer and the Divine. Taking John Newton as an example, who composed "Amazing Grace." A slaver, a man who in all probability threw more than one carcase over the side as he transported slaves to the New World. Is "salvation" only an exchange between Newton and God? Or would there needs be some need of "reconciliation" between Newton and those who he once treated with contempt? (I am not questioning his repentance at all)

 

And for myself, as far as any act within our world, personally I recognise that I am implicated. This is not to "equalise" guilt, but only to say what I have said......."I am implicated". So, what comes to one must come to all.

 

Within the Buddhist faith, one of the characteristics of an Enlightened being reads:- The perfect fulfillment of bringing benefits to self and others equally.

 

I acknowledge that within time, as such, each must come to recognise the nature of Grace and Mercy for themselves. As such it is singular and for oneself alone. Yet this does not - at least for me - imply that "Universalism" (or "Apocatastasis") is to be rejected. For me the ultimate reconciliation of all things in Christ is a living faith.

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Reading the wikipedia entries, it does seem to me that collective salvation as defined on Wikipedia is in tension with progressive Christianity as defined here. At the same time, I could imagine possible definitions that overlap, as PC would strongly reject any conception of Christianity and salvation linked to a "forget you, I've got mine" attitude. That said, I doubt that a rejection of that extremely individualist perspective necessarily means one must accept collective salvation.

Edited by Nick the Nevermet
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Nick,

 

Good point about the communitarian vs. an individualistic point of view of 'collective salvation.' It does seem to emphasize community interests over individual interests.

 

However, this may not necessarily be universalist perspective, but a more tribal 'us vs. them.' This would have been the perspective of the Deuteronomistic Historian in the Bible.

 

George

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Hello and welcome to this site Scott of Faith.

 

Thank you for bringing to my attention that Progressive Christianity (PC) has a Wikipedia entry. I had not noticed that. I think you will find a great diversity of perscpectives and beliefs (or skepticism) here. I would first identify myself as a Christian and secondarily as an Episcopalian. I found the PC forum because it has an association with John Spong who is the former bishop of my Episcopalian diocese. I don't find anything dissagreable in the 8 points of PC but I don't have them memorized and I don't recite them each week after the sermon like the Nicean Creed.

 

I do recommend to introduce yourself on the introductions section and tell a littel about yourself. I am impressed by the number of replies you have received in your first day, so thank for adding to the discussion.

 

On the topic of 'collective salvation', it is not something familiar to me and I had a look at the Wikipedia page to familiarize myself. I will study the thread to see if I have anything to add.

 

In my parish we do a group confession of sins which includes the phrase 'and sins done on our behalf' and then the Priest informs us that since Jesus promised that whosoever confessed their sins would be forgiven that 'we' are forgiven. I think this would strike many conservative Christians as having a collective flavor. I don't think any one believes though that we are implying that any one of us will be specifically individually punished by God for the sins of the group. That is an interesting question. I do think that as part of the Body of Christ we should have some collective responsibility.

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Scott of Faith, it sounds to me like you're confusing universal salvation with collective salvation but even among universalists, there is no universal agreement (no pun attended) on this belief. Some universalists like Origen and in modern times Rob Bell believe in heaven and hell but believe hell is only a temporary punishment and that all souls will eventually be reconciled to Jesus though some souls may take longer to be saved than others and they believe that salvation is possible even after death. Other universalists like John Shelby Spong and Carlton Pearson reject the very notion of hell and believe everyone will go to heaven and Carlton Pearson has even stated he believes Hitler will be saved and will be in heaven along with everyone else. Still other Christians may accept that heaven exists but reject that hell exists and that the sinful will simply remain dead instead of raised from the dead and so hell for them is simply death. Even within the bible, there is no agreement about what happens when we die. In the OT, the afterlife was Sheol which literally means the grave and was believed to be a place everyone goes to when we die regardless of our faith and actions in this life.

 

The Christian belief in heaven and hell comes not from the Jewish scriptures but from their exposure to the dualistic faith of Zoroastrianism. There is some debate as to whether or not Jesus taught a literal hell or if hell was just symbolic for Gehanna. Whether Jesus taught heaven and hell or not, the belief that salvation comes from believing in Jesus is found only in the epistles of Paul and the gospel of John. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus teaches that salvation comes from doing good deeds to others and that just because you claim to be a follower of Jesus doesn't mean you're saved. The epistles of Peter suggest hell is a temporary punishment whereas according to Revelation, only 144,000 men will be saved and all women seem destined to go to hell.

 

Interestingly, Revelation's authenticity was initially doubted by the early church and the Apocalypse of Peter, which was just as popular, was almost included but eventually rejected because it taught that hell was temporary and that Christians in heaven could pray for the salvation of the damned even after they died. So there is no official teaching among universalists about what happens when we die but what they all have in common is that they believe that if God is a loving and unjust god, God would not be so petty as to torture someone for all eternity just because they accidentally followed the wrong religion. But welcome to the forums Scott of Faith and I hope you'll post more here!

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Good point about the communitarian vs. an individualistic point of view of 'collective salvation.' It does seem to emphasize community interests over individual interests.

 

However, this may not necessarily be universalist perspective, but a more tribal 'us vs. them.' This would have been the perspective of the Deuteronomistic Historian in the Bible.

 

I agree there is a potential for tribalism there.

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Btw. also, did search wikipedia and there is an entry titled "collective salvation" that pretty much repeats what you are saying here, scott of faith, but there is nothing there either that even remotely connects if or relates it to Progressive Christianity....???

If my memory serves me. When I first read the article it said the collective salvation was stressed or something like that. I believe it has been edited since Scott first posted.

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