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"are You Saved?" What Is Salvation?


Yvonne
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My sister (traditional Catholic) told me that someone who was standing in line with her asked her if she was saved. She said she was, then the person in line asked her of she was sure. My sister said that she hoped she was but that no one could ever be sure of salvation. She then asked me how I would have responded. I told her that for me, it was a non-question, because I don't believe in the doctrine of salvation. She was stunned, and thought for sure I was no longer a Christian – much less a Catholic. I'm just not sure how else I could have answered her and been honest. She said, that for the sake of argument, I should assume that I did believe, and give an answer. “In that case,” I told her, “of course I'm “saved” and have no doubts whatsoever!”

 

I believe that the “good news” that Jesus brought was the idea of our interconnectedness with God and with one another. IMO, salvation does not come because we had to be reconciled with God. Morwood writes:

 

Salvation is not about Jesus getting us into heaven; it is about Jesus setting us free. Salvation is an exodus experience, a movement from being imprisoned to being set free, from being bound to being released from bonds, from darkness to light, from fear to trust, from ignorance to insight and understanding.

Where are we bound and imprisoned? The preaching of Jesus suggests that it is mainly our ideas and images concerning God and our relationship with God, and religious attitudes and practices that result from them. - Morwood, Tomorrow's Catholic, p85

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Yvonne, I think that's a good quote. When encountering this line of question from someone you feel is genuinely open to consideration of just what salvation means, and respectful of you and your ideas, I think having such resources as you quote from here, from within the religious tradition of the inquirer, can be the best way to proceed. But...I don't think this is actually the case many times when someone asks this set of questions. I think there is often another motive, and it is wise to be very careful where you step if it goes beyond that, when the other person presses you to go beyond that.

 

One way to proceed, often I think the best and safest way, is to respond with a question, just as you've mentioned doing when you ask someone, "what does that say to you about God?" Here, I'd ask, "what does salvation mean to you?" If they are of sincere heart and motive, I think you can find common ground on which to proceed.

 

Now, this is just my own take on this, what's really going on a lot of the time when someone askes this set of questions, but for what its worth, here it is. It may sound negative and cynical, but its my honest take. I think I'm being entirely fair in suggesting that this set of questions are often motivated by someone else's desire to draw you onto a battle ground involving power games. And if you go there, it is only going to be a lose-lose situation. This is not the only particular form such power games can take on that battle field, but it surely a common one.

 

To find yourself in the situation you do with this person is really common for many of us I think. And there's a lot of ways to try to respond to it. I have come to accept someone asking that isn't interested at all in hearing your perspective, but seeking an opening for what to them is an assured win argument. And I think that's pretty much always the case. As in your conversation here, a simple "yes" answer never suffices, there always follows the "are you sure?" and from there, pressing you to present and argue your case for your own salvation for their judgment of approval/disapproval. And approval is pretty much dependent on two things: first, your response in terms of a set sequence of phrases parrotted word for word as taught in some religious tradition, to assure you are 'one of them' as if those phrases were the passwords into their secret society, and second,whether they actually feel the like you or not, in which case, nothing you say will make a difference, the end will always be their feeling smug and superior as more right and more saved than you.

 

I have also observed that the more strained or negative that person's feelings toward their 'target', the more likely no matter how satisfactority one answers questions, when they can't find something to argue or declare 'wrong' in the answer, there will continue a series of questions, until at last they get an answer they can take issue with in expressing judgement against that person's salvation. It's a power game, and often a very abusive poower game. This attitude/behavioral pattern common among some some Christian communities was given some discussion in one of my Religious studies courses covering origins and development of major and common church doctrines. As the professor put it, such attitudes and people holding them are probably responsible for more people rejecting, turning away from, avoiding, renouncing Chistianiity/Christ than any other force within or without the church....that if you tell someone often enough, long enough, forcefully enough, that they are NOT a "real Christian", they will eventually come to believe it themselves.

 

I had a close family "in-law" member that I (and many others) had a most tense relationship with for many years, that was tolerated because it was neccessary to maintaining relationship with the family member this person was married to. Her extended "inquisitions" reflected an impressive volume of prepared sequences of questions, each tailored to the response they got to the question before, rooted in the culture of the very findamentalist independent Baptist church, that had its own peculiar set of beliefs, that she had devoted most of her life to. The nit-picking detail down to which she could get in the course of her interrogation to finally get to something to make issue of was unbelievable. I recall once she asked my the name of the pastor of the church i was attending at the time, and upon my answer of a surname only, she pressed for the first name, and I knew before i said it where that was going...I knew where it was going next, because while that pastor was a man, his first name is one often assumed as a woman's. Nit-picking to the nth. There was no stopping her...if you did act to just cut it off, refuse to keep playing the game, her close was that you were doing so because you "know you are wrong", "couldn't win." Yes, "win" was exactly the word she used. The death of her husband, my famiily member, pretty much ended my continued contact with her. When I had taken the kid gloves off, no longer had reason to placate her, I actually confronted her with the reponse, "I'm wrong about what? What is it I'm wrong about? And just what is it I am supposed to win or lose?" Her response, to leave out the lengthy scathing verbally abusive tirade, was pretty much that "you are just WRONG!" Catch that, not that any of your beliefs are wrong, but that "you" are just wrong! That was the end of our communications.

 

So I find, a simple, "yes, I am," to the first, and "yes, I am secure in my assurance," to the second, and not let it go further. If the person doesn't want to drop it there, becomes themselves rude, then my response may be blunt, "I don't believe it's appropriate to expect others to explain and defend their salvation to me, nor for another to expect it of me." I have spent most my life trying to be nicer than that, trying to accomadate such people, by actually believing they are sincerely interested in my perspective, before I learned the basic reality epressed in the immediately preceeding paraphraph. I try to always stay open and ready to talk about my faith with others, but not to arguing and defending it or myself in it. The unsolicited expression of approval/disaproval of my or anyone's faith, subjecting others to an inquistion of judgement, isn't appropriate or acceptable to me.

 

In both personal life experiences and the study of history of Christianity, developmennt of various branches of it and significant doctrines, this matter of "personal salvation" as defined by and exclusively dispensed through a certain desginated set of reliigious authorities seems to me to has arisen into prominence, and continues to be most prevalent, within social/political contexts rooted in authoritarian attitudes and power struggles. As long as "the Church", whether Catholic, Church of England, the little religious sect feifdoms of early colonial America, or where ever, has held 'real' power over the people, politically, legally,or socially, there was little emphasis on this matter of 'personal salvation.' It was all about submission to the control, command, of church authority, in behavior and actions. Whomever respresented the power of the authority of 'the Church" also held the power to approve/disapprove any member of that community as acceptable, as really godly. Often there were even selected representatives who's job it was to go about spying on people's lives, so as to decide whether to grant or not grant permission to participate in communion in the church.

 

In our time and place today, Church as an organized structure or community/society has largely lost any real power and authority of that sort. I think that is what we are seeing in such attitudes as represented in the exchange related above..."Are you saved? Are you sure?" That attempt to force another into explaining, defending, submitting to one's examination, evaluation, and judgement of their salvation, aka, prove to the questioner's 'satisfaction' that one is really an acceptable and worthy person. It's a power game of the powerless, that I think has come to pervade relgious traditions with no real power of control over others. I think many of the individuals, such as perhaps this person that asked you this, may not really be so "into" that power game themselves, per se, but it is part of how they are conditioned within their religious environment...that game is used on them, that's the 'normal', so they take it outward into their interactions and relationships with others.

 

If that is the case, they wiill usually not pursue it agressively, and it can be, and I think should be, dealt with gently. In contrast to the openly hostile relationship with the in-law, I have other long term relationships with those of traditional religious background, where there is really mutual respect and care, in which we have proceeded, slowly, step by step, into my being able to share, as convenient occasion arose, and I think inflence them toward, more open thinking in matters of faith and religion. To put these relationships and what has been going on in this regard in context of a traditional Christian imagery, I see these as fields, or vineyards, I've been tending, cultivating, planting, watering, nurturing, over the course of many years. I have no 'goal' in that, no thought to eventually bring them to a particular place, or even to try to guide their course, as I have always let it be them that raised the next question, next thought to explore. I also am very aware, I am only an occasional gardener in their lives, their growth. It is up the the Master Gardener to manage when it is my part, and when someone else's.

 

jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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Maybe I can do it better this time. And maybe bring saved from my self really is a good place to start for my idea of what salvation is/means to me.

 

To be saved from myown sense of ego identity as it is rooted within my physical ,emotional, and intellectual interchange and interaction with the material reality, and most especially my concept of "The World". I see "The World' as all that makes up this material, culture, social environment in which I have come into existence, as this ego-self identity I've fromed with which to interface my environment. Saved from continuing in percieving myself, whomever and whatever I am, as simply this ego-identity that is formed out of and attached to "The World", this material reality.

 

I think what I'm trying to say here is that to me, 'salvation' is being saved from that, percieving myself, thinking myself, allof who/what I really am, and this material experience as all there really is. To be freed for this "box" of ego-based self identity simply existing, occurring,within "The World", so as to perceive beyond,as being a part of a greater reality.

 

Jenell

 

Jenell

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My sister (traditional Catholic) told me that someone who was standing in line with her asked her if she was saved. She said she was, then the person in line asked her of she was sure. My sister said that she hoped she was but that no one could ever be sure of salvation. She then asked me how I would have responded

 

A Zen question what would one call a hand in the form of a fist at all times? DEformed What would can a hand open at all times? deFORMED A student of a Zen master asked him why he says one thing to seeker and the opposite thing to another seeker and the master answered. If one is walking to far to the right I give advice to go to the left and if one is walking to far to the left my advice is to walk to the right. If I apply this to the situation at hand I think the answer that would best help the listener is best.

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A friend of mine was once asked by an enthusiastic lady who had just exited from a fundamentalist rally whether or not she was saved. My friend responded, "From What"? Why would anyone ever think that anyone could be lost? Are we not all created in the image and likeness of God? Are we not made out of God's stuff? How can the power which created us out of itself lose part of itself? The appropriate question should be "Are you awake?". Do you realize that you are a part of all that God is? That would be my idea of salvation.

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The appropriate question should be "Are you awake?". Do you realize that you are a part of all that God is? That would be my idea of salvation.

 

Now THAT is a great answer! I love that, and its quite appropriate to most situations. :P

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I love that answer, Nav.

 

As I look into it more and more, it does seem to me that Jesus' central message was calling people to get back 'in touch' with God, and not to perform some act of faith to 'qualify' for a happy afterlife. Jesus was about life now, not later. I certainly think he was more about encouraging people to 'wake up' to their life with and in God now, rather than the model that is mainly presented today about a Jesus who was warning us to make right or suffer eternal torment.

 

Cheers

Paul

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My sister (traditional Catholic) told me that someone who was standing in line with her asked her if she was saved. She said she was, then the person in line asked her of she was sure. My sister said that she hoped she was but that no one could ever be sure of salvation. She then asked me how I would have responded. I told her that for me, it was a non-question, because I don't believe in the doctrine of salvation. She was stunned, and thought for sure I was no longer a Christian – much less a Catholic. I'm just not sure how else I could have answered her and been honest. She said, that for the sake of argument, I should assume that I did believe, and give an answer. “In that case,” I told her, “of course I'm “saved” and have no doubts whatsoever!”

 

I believe that the “good news” that Jesus brought was the idea of our interconnectedness with God and with one another. IMO, salvation does not come because we had to be reconciled with God. Morwood writes:

 

 

If I had a dime for every time I've been asked that question :rolleyes: ! At one time my response was similar to your sisters .... That we simply cannot know. Today, I walk to the beat of a different drum. The way I see it is that we are

, but grow into slavery. I think mankind has gotten so bound by material pursuits that many fail to know God at all. Someone once made this statement to me, "Millions are facing starvation in parts of Africa as we speak. Where is God for them?"

 

 

My reply: "Working 12 hour shifts 6 days a week to maintain the mortgage on a $400,000 dollar home, and to maintain the payments on the Bayliner and Harley gathering dust in the driveway. God works through us, but many of us are too busy chasing money and material gain to help those who need us most."

 

 

Similarly, Ellen DeGeneres once made this statement, "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” ---

 

 

My question is: Does this truly make sense?

 

 

Salvation is about freedom; it's about liberty and peace of mind. I think we are born free, and that the way of the world often times enslaves us as we grow older. I think far too many become slaves to money and material pursuits. It's one thing to make ends meet, then share the excess with others, but it is quite another thing to be slaves to material pursuits, which leads us to lose sight of what is most important in life.

 

 

Jesus said the truth will make us free. It is written that the Spirit is truth. I think love (Spirit) enables us to know the freedom many of us knew as children. It isn't difficult to recognize a saved individual. We were meant to live our lives abundantly (Through love) and in a manner beneficial to others. Reconciliation is about realization. We are forever connected to God, but as we grow older, we often drift apart from God's will for us. We end up pursuing worldly things above the heavenly, which is why so many fail to 'know' salvation (liberty/freedom).

 

 

When I'm asked if I think/know I'm saved now days, I simply suggest that I was born free and that I know my place in God. I tell them that I live my life with passion, that I am happy and joyful. I may not have much, but what I do have I share with others. I don't worry about tomorrow -- I live my life for the day, and abundantly so. I know what freedom is, and to me that is what salvation is all about.

 

 

Edited by Jagged Zen Monkey
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