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Soteriology


Yvonne
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As my quest for knowledge constinues, I was reading about soteriology and wondered what your views were.

 

Up until a few years ago, I would have said that Jesus “saved” us through his death and resurrection. I was accepting of the idea of a “fall”, and that Jesus came down from heaven to save this evil race and offer hope of eternal life.

 

Now, I reject that salvation model completely. I like the idea that what Jesus saved is from is the legalistic, elitist attitudes of his time. Jesus brought us the good news of our inter-connectedness with God and with another. I do not think that “salvation”, in traditional Christian doctrine even makes sense any more. Frankly, imo, traditional salvation doctrine does not even seem scriptual, is it?

 

I do like some of the Buddhist thoughts on salvation – for example, that its an individual spiritual journey of transformation.

 

Your thoughts?

 

http://www.religioustolerance.org/stewart01.htm An essay from liberation theology

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Yvonne,

 

I think most traditional teachings do believe that to be saved or salvation is to be given eternal life (as opposed to being dead neither being physical). Unfortunately they also tie it to what they are taught is a physical place (heaven and hell) :blink:

It is recorded in John...

"And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

To me this means that salvation is in knowing God as in being one with God which is through Christ which is as a 'smearing together with God" whose is all in All. This is the inter-connectedness i think you speak of. Jesus taught a way (as did others in other words and teachings at various times) to realize this 'smearing together' (enlightenment / anointing)

 

To me the confusion comes by always using the name Jesus with Christ as a single name. Of course his name to me wasn't Jesus Christ, it was Jesus of Nazareth. It seems to me, Christ wasn't a person though a person could be in Christ. It is more a title similar to Buddha which although people often attach to a single person merely means " Awakened One" . This is often done to deify the teacher and often contrary to the actual original teachings.

 

Just my own thoughts,

Joseph

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Hi Yvonne,

 

I like Joseph's view on John 17.3. Salvation is to know, to know in the biblical sense of union. Beyond this idea of salvation, I find that I depart into the realm speculation.

 

The ancient church (around 300 CE) laid out its theology in terms of the incarnation. Divinity became human -- the finite being -- so the human could become divine, the infinite. There is, therefore, the eschatological expectation that this process will be completed, in terms of what the Catholics and Orthodox call theosis or divinization, respectively. God will be all in all, everything to everyone. The incarnation is a story of, again, union.

 

The idea of this final purpose to existence might even be amendable to Buddhism. Is there an ultimate end underlying karmic forces (cause and effect), which is the total liberation of all of creation? If so, it begins to sound something like the apostle Paul's cosmic vision salvation.

 

But that's speculation (as far as I can tell). I'm content with union, and the individual aspect of that journey must be paramount, for it is only by the particulars that generalizations can be made.

 

Peace,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Had to go look this term up, lol!

 

As I'm understanding it, this theme of 'salvation' or 'liberation' as a metaphysical or spiritual concept as it runs through so many different religious traditions and cultures raises for me, first. questions about the how, why, etc, the idea or theme of our being 'bound', 'imprisoned', or 'doomed' to begin with. That must be in place before there can be any though of salvation or liberation.

 

Its interesting to me that it seems at once a conflicting idea, on the one hand of there being something or something about our very existence here, as we know and experience it, that we are 'bound' by, must seek to 'escape', be saved or liberated from. As if, in the very having been "given life", the opportunity to come into being, exist, we find this existence so unpleasant that we must be saved from it as if from something awful. In Christian theology and some others, add that not only is this existence an awful thing, there is an even worse one ahead after we die, that we must try to avoid, try to gain a better one instead. Heaven/Hell. Nirvana/reincarnation that coninues to hold us trapped in this awful existence.

 

Why, where does it come from, so universally among human kind, to percieve this life, this existence itself, some awful thing from which we need to be saved? Or, that there is a fate even worse than death awaiting us? It seems to me that 2nd thought came about as needed to prevent mass suicide as a result of realizing the first.

 

Jenell

Then on the other hand,

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Those are some very powerful questions Jenell. Why do we look for meaning? For connection to something greater? Why is life, for us, a 'problem' to begin with? On one level the answer is of course obvious: we are beings -- loci of subjectivity - who find life meaningful. Yet, we are subject to birth and death -- finitude, with death, of course, imposing itself as the inevitable destroyer of everything we've accumulated over a lifetime. We're attempting to do justice to the profundities and absurdities we encounter in life by organizing them into a worldview. The profundity: we live, we find things meaningful, we take things seriously; and the absurdity: it seems to crumble apart sooner or later. Therefore life is a problem, there is a contradiction in how we take life to be. We can either affirm that there is an afterlife -- that all our intuitions about and attachments to life are correct, or we can look deeper to what causes our attachment and despair in the first place. I agree that we are not by nature 'doomed' and life itself is not intrinsically problematic. The human social mind is structured in such a way as to be a natural breeding ground for anxiety, attachment, and despair. It takes a great deal of effort to even begin to chip away at that and turn the mind to an ally for liberation. And once the mind is liberated, the whole cosmos is simultaneously awakened, for the two are not separate

 

Peace,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Well put Mike,

 

It seems to me, it is not that we need to be saved as if something is really wrong with existence.It also seems that it is inherent in our existence and evolution here with the thinking mind that a strong identity with content (those things that are indeed temporal and are seen to pass) should overtake our consciousness for 'some time' as to give the illusion that 'I am that'. In that sense, it does seems to me, life here is not dissimilar to being totally engrossed in a superbly done movie whereby for that time we are so moved both in mind and emotions that we think that that character we identify with is more than the drama of its designed content.

 

So in a sense, it seems to me, there is by design a need to eventually be awakened (saved so to speak) to reality and to the I of the I. Not as though it is urgent or a problem except from the standpoint of the perception of the thinking mind at this time. To me, an awakening to Life itself seems inevitable in our evolution over the concept of time. It seems to me those here on this board (and elsewhere) are already being drawn (so to speak) to that reality else they would not be seeking for something beyond and would rather be further entangling themselves in the world which will pass til evolution draws them. Being lost in content (which is subject to death) seems to me is that which we are saved from. Yet that is only from the perspective of the thinking mind. Beyond the thinking mind, I see nothing in need of saving or incomplete.

 

Just some musings stirred by your response,

Joseph

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Mike, Joseph, I cannot disagree with how you express it, but...

At the same time, there seems to me something of a different thread running through this theme within religion, perhaps sort of alongisde of that of which you speak, though also in many ways at odds with, even opposed to that. Perhaps it is a metter of something at different levels.

Of this idea of something we somehow need to be 'saved from' as it presents so often in religion, the "we" (or me or you etc) that is in need of 'being saved' is or is connected to our Ego, or Ego identity...the material 'person' or ;personality' we are in this life. In some, even this carnal body we inhabit, thought usually presented as being in some marvelously transformed state. In this, it seems it IS those very attachments to this life, this existence, this reality, that is what is to 'be saved' so as to be wondrously translated into some exalted form of what it already is.

One of those 'conflict' situations from early in my religous life involved this. When someone died, there was always the 'concern', what the person 'saved' or not? Yet, it seemed a rather casual and trivial concern. If the answer seemed 'no', I was apalled at how casually others took that. As in, oh, well, he/she wouldn't listen. How sad, well, they know now, don't they? Meaning of course, that person is now suffering the reality of torment in Hell. Then we turn around and sing somehting like "Will the circle be unbroken in the bye and bye?" and "Shall we Gather at the River" portraying some eternally blissful 'better place' where we would ALL be together again, the whole family or circle of friennds or whatever. Wait a minute...ALL? And not oonly all there, but there AS just who we are now, with all our Earthly attachments from this life, we will look like we do now, only better, without blemish, be the same persons, involved in the same human relationships.

And even as a child, the uncomfortable question..well, which is it? We will ALL be there? Or just some of us that listened to what we were told, beleived, and 'got saved.'. Or worse, among the more tradtional Calvinistic, just those 'elected' to be saved?

 

Jenell

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Jenell,

 

Yes, i agree there is " a different thread running through this theme within religion" as you say and talk about in your post above. It doesn't speak to me at this time as personally of value so i guess i just let it pass and allow those who participate in it to do so and get whatever value they seem to get out of it for themselves.

 

I am inclined to side with Yvonne's liking of the thought expressed on salvation in her OP "that its an individual spiritual journey of transformation". In that sense it seems to me personal value and meaning will not always be in agreement with others.

 

Joseph

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Interesting discussion - thank you all. I have a lot of problems with salvation theology; as Bishop Spong suggests in his columns, the notion of a historically 'fallen' man does not connect with what we know of the history of the universe and human evolution. If anything, I would suggest that humanity is struggling towards climbing from where it started!

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I really love the direction this dicussion took. I was thinking along these same lines, but was having a bit trouble articulating it. I, like Joseph, had not really given much thought to salvation theology. I came across it in my studies and felt I needed some more, or rather less, traditional, input.

 

The idea that humans, AS HUMANS, needed saving really annoyed me. However, the need to find some form of immortality - as in an afterlife in heaven - is understandable, even if I no longer believe that. It seems to me that as my spirituality changes, so much of what I had, until now, taken for granted is falling away. At first it was frightening, but now its enlightening. So, gosh, I guess that means I'm saved!

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