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Salvation and the Wounds of Existence

Discussion in 'Salvation (Soteriology)' started by ilgwamh, Mar 4, 2003.

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  1. ilgwamh

    ilgwamh Member

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    Salvation and the Wounds of Existence

    Salvation is the business the Church is in. But what exactly is salvation? I would call the salvation of a person their being reconciled to God and experiencing the freedom that relationship produces. Obviously, if you are to be reconciled to something you must have been previously separated for some reason. So what does salvation save us from? Why is there a gulf between us and God? The answer lies in the wounds of existence. Human beings are in a predicament from which we need delivering. Part of this condition is caused by the pain others inflict on us, part of it is caused by the pain we inflict on others and part of it is caused by the pain we inflict upon ourselves. The cumulative effect here is that we live outside the garden. We live east of Eden.

    Nine Biblical Images of Salvation

    1. Bondage and Liberation

    Marcus Borg: "Salvation as liberation goes back to the foundational narrative of the Bible, the exodus story of Israel's liberation from bondage in Egypt. Bondage as an image of the human predicament in this story includes economic and political oppression: the Hebrews were literally slaves under the Lordship of Pharaoh. The image of our condition as bondage also has psychological and spiritual meanings in the Bible. For Paul . . . and the New Testament, we are in bondage to "the powers." "The powers" are cultural, spiritual, and psychological powers operating both within us and outside us. The powers include the domination system and the spirit of the age, and they produce in us not only bondage but a sense of powerlessness. Life under the powers is dominated existence.

    What does bondage suggest as an image of the human condition? We are in bondage to many things. Our bondage can be the result of things that happen to us, or we can fall into it through our own acts. Cultural messages are deeply ingrained within us, as are belief systems that radically shape the way we see and live. People continue to be in bondage to economic and political systems--both the victims of such systems as well as those who benefit from them (though in quite different ways). We can be in bondage to wounds stemming from childhood. We are addicted to many things. We typically are in bondage to preoccupation with ourselves and our well-being. The list can grow very long.

    Liberation from bondage is thus one of the central meanings of salvation. The story of the Exodus is a story about all of us and our need to be liberated from what holds us in bondage. Liberation is a central theme in the story of Jesus. According to Luke, Jesus' mission (then and now) is "to proclaim release to the captives, and to let the oppressed go free." The language of liberation also resounds in the writings of Paul: "For freedom Christ has set us free . . . therefore, do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." For Paul, God in Christ has defeated the powers, exposing and dethroning the other Lords of our lives." [Pp. 158-9]

    The idea of bondage and liberation ties in directly with the ransom theory. The ransom theory says that Jesus' life was a ransom paid for the sake of our salvation. In many circles this view has been scorned and largely rejected as naive. A ransom is something paid to a captor for the release of something or someone. In this case it is asked to whom did God have to pay a ransom for us? To himself? God holds us captive? Surely that is false. To those who believe he is a literal being, what about a ransom paid to Satan? Does the enemy hold us captive and was Jesus' death a ransom allowing us to be freed from him? This cannot be seriously maintained either. The notion that God would need to or even should find it good to pay anything to Satan for our salvation is ludicrous and quite simply, bad theology. What about sin? Surely we were captives to sin before being liberated? As Richard Purtill wrote, "To say we were captives of "sin" is good New Testament language, but sin is not a personal agent who can be given a reason to release us." The objection against the the ransom theory then, is that there is no one to whom God could have paid a ransom to.

    Unfortunately, this view is not easily dismissed by Christians who hold to the authority of scripture. In Mark 10:45 and Matthew 20:28 Jesus is the "Son of Man who did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". As Mentioned by Borg, in Luke's inaugural address (4:18-19) Jesus is sent to "proclaim freedom for the prisoners" and to"release the oppressed." In 1 Timothy 2:6 Jesus is the mediator between God and man who "who gave himself as a ransom for all men". Hebrews 9:15, in the terms of sacrificial covenant, also says that Jesus "died as a ransom to set people free." As we saw above in Marcus Borg's discussion, the idea of bondage and liberation abounds in Biblical literature. We also see that the ransom theory has wide scriptural support. So the question remains? Who has us captive? To whom are we prisoners of?

    One possible answer is actually right under our noses and was implicitly stated by Borg. Who has us in captivity? We do! We are our own captors and Jesus' death was a ransom which frees us from ourselves. We hold ourselves captive and God, through Jesus' death on the Cross, paid a ransom to us so that we might release ourselves. He wanted to liberate us from our own enslavement to sin and to reconcile us to himself. That is why Paul proclaims in Romans 5:8 that "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Through Jesus' sacrificial death God tells us that he loves us and by telling us that He loves us, He gives us good reason to release ourselves.

     

    Vinnie
     
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  2. FOMWatts<><

    FOMWatts<>< Follower of the Way

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    AMEN!!! :clap:

    FOMWatts<><
     
  3. ilgwamh

    ilgwamh Member

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    Glad you liked it :)

    &nbsp;

    Image 2: Estrangement and Reconciliation

    Another Biblical image of salvation involves the concept of "exile". To be in exile to to be separated from something to which you belong. A husband who did things he regrets and finds himself sleeping out on the couch is in a state of exile. The man sleeping on the couch belongs next to his wife but instead he is in a place of grief and weeping. A place where he does not not feel at home because quite simply, he is not at home. Being in a state of exile gives one the feeling that they don't belong and it can alienate them. The notion of exile is depicted very well in verses 1 through 4 of Psalm 137

    By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
    There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
    for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

    How can we sing the songs of the LORD
    while in a foreign land?

    The exiles were not at home (Jerusalem). They were in a foreign land where they wept and remembered Zion. Exile is also one of the themes of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. They were expelled from the Garden of Eden and forced to live outside of the home they were intended to live in. We are in the same boat as we all live outside the manifest presence of God, east of Eden. Quite simply, we are estranged from God. Our relationship is not what it should be and we need to be reconciled. Our state of exile is something that happens to us through the activity of outside personal free agents and it is mainly something that we inflict upon ourselves. Our rebellion leads to this state of exile and our estrangement from God can be very strong. So strong that many people are not even explicitly aware of the fact that they are "sleeping on the couch" rather than where they belong. This goes to show us how deep the wounds of existence actually are. The man sleeping on the couch may get so used to it that the fact of his "exile" becomes numbed and "forgotten".

    "Salvation as reconciliation is the experience of being reconnected to God. It involves the overcoming of our sense of separation from the one to whom we belong. It is to return to Eden, symbolically the place of God's presence, to "paradise restored." It is homecoming, In the exile story, the process involves a journey of return to "the holy land," which (like Eden) is the place of God's presence. Indeed, this is one of the central meanings of "repentance" in the Bible: to repent means to return from exile to God. But this journey is not simply something that we do or accomplish, for God invites, encourages, and empowers the return." (Borg, ibid, p. 160)

    Reconciliation is a common Biblical theme. See Col. 1:20-22, Eph. 2:16, Romans 5:10 and 2 Cor. 5:17-20 which specifically tells us that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."


    Vinnie

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  4. calvinist

    calvinist Daniel in the Lion's Den

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    Indeed, it is God alone who is responsible for the reconciliation of man. For man is totally depraved of God, and therefore cannot on his own positive volition reconcile himself to God. Excellent points.
    Calvinist><>
     
  5. ilgwamh

    ilgwamh Member

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    Salvation as Enlightenment In Luke 2:32 the boy Jesus is called the "light of revelation to the Gentiles" by Simeon. John 1:9 and 3:19 tell us that the true light which gives light to every man came into the world in the person of Jesus. John 5:35 says that John the Baptist "was a lamp that burned and gave light" for a time. John 8:12 attributes to Jesus this saying to the people, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Any Christian will affirm that Jesus is the light of our life. He brings us out of darkness and into the light. Jesus is the Light that enlightens us. This obviously does not mean that Jesus teaches his followers systematic theology or things like quantum physics and tensor calculus. It is not strict "head knowledge" or doctrinal truths that we are talking about here. We are talking about a type of enlightenment that may sometimes be associated with Asian religions--or as Christians would say, enlightenment is becoming conscious of the work and convictions of the Holy Spirit.

    Lets look at a few more Biblical examples that use the light and darkness metaphors: Paul uses this imagery of light and darkness or blindness in Romans 2:19-20, "If you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark . . .". Hebrews 6:4 speaks of Christians who have been "enlightened" meaning "those who have tasted the heavenly gift", those "who have shared in the holy spirit", and those "who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age." In Ephesians 1:18 Paul prays that "the eyes of the Ephesians may be enlightened in order that they may know the hope to which they have been called." 1 Peter 2:9 speaks of us being called "out of darkness into his wonderful light". Many more verses using the light/darkness imagery are found in the Bible. It should be clear from this that enlightenment is a Biblical image of salvation that entails overcoming the wounds of existence.

    Darkness is associated with fear, loneliness and death. It is also much more difficult to navigate in the dark as opposed to movement in the light. Unfortunately for us, the lights have been turned off. We live in the dark and we are largely responsible for putting ourselves there. Though we have ears, we often do not hear. "Though we have eyes, we often do not see. We typically are blind to the glory of God all around us; we do not see each other as God sees us, and we do not see ourselves as God sees us." "Salvation is enlightenment: the opening of our eyes to the presence and glory of God in the world, in each other, and in ourselves." (Borg, pp. 160, 161).

    What is even more amazing about enlightenment is the Christian hope of heaven. We believe that this enlightenment is but a shadow of the things to come. Even in our enlightened state we see "but a poor reflection as in a mirror" of that which is to come (1 Cor 13:12)!


    Vinnie
     
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