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 Post subject: SALVATION
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:08 am 
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Posts: 92
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Why, and from what, do we need to be saved?

I have copied the above quote posted 25 Jan 2017 by Zobstick, on the Topic "Exclusive Brethren charge $850 a pop.." because I feel it needs attention which could be lost in that location. I try to avoid theological disputes but feel that the question raised needs some exposure.

About 20 years ago I was faced with this scripture by a sincere evangelical Christian. After some thought I asked "to whom and when were these words addressed?" The words were addressed by the apostle Peter, to "rulers of the people and elders (of Israel)", in the very early days of Christianity. They needed salvation in a very real way from the control of Rome and from their strict cultural religious systems. They needed their eyes to be opened to the riches and saving power evidenced in Jesus. What the scripture does not say is that, if you don't believe in Jesus you can't be saved - to the exclusion of all other belief systems, as is implied by our traditional Christian exclusivism. This exclusivism creates enormous moral dilemmas about the character of God and frankly, I suggest we need to be "saved" from such notions.

Jesus' ministry was very inclusive but we have made it exclusive because it can be threatening to our precious concept of salvation to think that other beliefs could also result in salvation. The dilemma is aggravated by insisting that "salvation" must refer to our immutable eternal destiny in either heaven or hell - a notion which has given enormous power to the church, but has questionable support from scripture and gives a disturbing apprehension of God. I suggest we should think of salvation as a present reality consequent on our apprehension of the link with the Father which was revealed through Jesus, rather than putting trust in our fragile belief in a collection of proof texts which might be flashed at the Judgment Seat.

I think of heaven and hell as realities of some kind. I feel that Christianity has been degraded by primary emphasis on avoidance of the horror of eternal damnation while a vague heavenly destiny becomes an acceptable default outcome.

Verse 12 of Acts 4 "And salvation is in none other, for neither is there any other name which is given amongst men by which we might be saved", has typically been conveniently interpreted as meaning "If you don't believe in Jesus you can't be saved". However the point Peter is making is that the one you have rejected is God's chosen one, the one by whom WE (people in Peter’s audience) must be saved. I doubt Peter intended his words to be used in the excluding way that we have been taught. He was appealing to them to accept the incarnate Word with his evident healing (saving) power. There were other self-proclaimed Messiahs and miracle workers in that era and this called for the emphasis given by Peter. I do not diminish the distinctiveness of Jesus Christ as in "salvation is in none other", but I sincerely question the exclusive emphasis in which substantial godliness in other cultures is dismissed. This may require a change of thinking - which is sometimes called conversion!

I have been impressed through my reading, to find that other major (rival!) belief systems have much in common with the teachings of Jesus. Their insights shed fresh light on the Gospels, and their spirituality is, if nothing else, challenging. This sick world needs uniting, not by my personal concept of salvation but by the underlying Source of enlightenment which in diverse ways has inspired spiritual leaders worldwide, and - as Jesus invited "Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you". You can't do that with a deliberately closed mind. I was once afraid to exercise responsible doubt for fear of damnation. I am inclined now feel that those who are afraid of responsible doubt are in the grip of the Evil One.

We need salvation from culturally maintained ignorance so that we can enjoy our divine inheritance as hinted by Paul in his doxologies.

I am not authority; I speak from my personal journey from my fundamentalist beginnings. It was a great milestone to me to deal with my fear of exposure to alternative viewpoints. Hope for others find liberty to search. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. I hope these few rambling thoughts are helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:51 pm 
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Some of the most influential religious leaders have spoken in a similar way about the dangers of religious exclusiveness. Desmond Tutu argues the case very convincingly in his book God is Not a Christian.

He reflects on the fact that the faith a person adopts is very largely dictated by an accident of birth.

He discusses the great spiritual and godly influence of some people who were not Christians.

He dismisses as blasphemous the notion that God will eternally punish those who have never heard of Jesus Christ, perhaps because they were born too soon or born in the wrong country.

He draws attention to many scriptures that teach inclusiveness, or even universalism.

In fact, to justify exclusiveness, you have to be very selective in the scriptures that you choose to emphasise.


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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:15 pm 
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These theological contentions while deeply held beliefs are without definitive answers and while once a question I once wrestled with as a young simplistic person in the confines of the exclusive brethren,never venturing beyond the walls of the church I was not faced with the reality that not everybody had what I took for granted ( separation ensured that) but now 50 years later and with more experience than I want 'outside' the church walls I am quite content to leave it in the hands of God 'shall not the God of all the earth do right'?( Genesus 18:25)

If anything,from my own personal experience as a foster dad for over 30 years the concept of 'salvation' to people living the good life with their daily needs met, food on the table and a safe place to sleep is far diferent than some child prostituting herself on the streets ....to be free from that dangerous,unhealthy and degrading life the concept of 'salvation' is very real ,and the 'bonus' is freedom from guilt and getting their self respect back...'salvation' to them ISN'T a theological discussions of be debated from the safety and security of ones comfortable home ....any more than it was to the poor and margenalized outcasts of society Jesus came to minister to...Jesus came into the world to bring hope to a hurting world...and his message was to ' go and do thou likewise'

What is abundantly clear about Christs ministry is he did NOT condemn sinners,although he strongly condemned RELIGEOS self rightousness and those who would exploit the poor and disaffected in the NAME of 'religion' but he reserved his STRONGEST condemnation for those who conducted their commerce in 'his fathers house of prayer'and to use one of the brethren's favourite justifications 'if Jesus were here today,he would say the same thing...'


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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:51 am 
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Location: NEW ZEALAND
The topic of Salvation raises questions as to whether God is "fair" in His dealings with His fallen creatures. Many of us would have entered adult life without satisfactory answers to these big questions. Personally as a teen, I couldn't face up to the challenge of attempting to "save" my mates at school, and I felt guilty for my failure. If any of us dared present such deep questions to our older wiser Brethren we would likely be fobbed off with "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?", as Fisherman has recounted from his experience.

Personally I think that using this Scripture (Gen18 v25) is a cop-out and is misleading. The question is not posed by God to Abraham (to shut him down), rather the question is posed by Abraham to God as a challenge. It is like saying to God "Collateral damage ain't fair". God then takes up the challenge and judgment is apparently modified! See also how the OT prophets took their life in their hands by daring to question traditional moral concepts, thus preparing the way for Jesus the Christ.

What persists from this shady Brethren background is a smug cowardly culture of shifting blame in such moral dilemmas which are deemed too awkward to face. So we would hear it said "God has not granted repentance", "God will deal with that in his own time", "the Spirit was not stressing that at that time", etc., a convenient way of expecting God to take the blame for our perversions and effectively sedating our spiritual sensibilities.

HEB have made a sophisticated art of shifting blame onto God or onto their victims so as to avoid accountability. In this, and in other respects, are they not worldlier than "the world" which they are exhorted to hate?

Time to purge our perceptions of God? Ian McKay's contribution should help in this.


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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:48 pm 
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As I read your comment about 'shifting blame onto a God' I remembered my neighbour, an old carpenter who helped me when I built my first house saying that God got blamed for a lot of substandard workmanship as an 'act of God' when a building collapsed.Seems we as humans are quick to take credit for when things go right,but blame God when they don't.


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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:25 am 
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I remain a follower of Jesus Christ but I moved many years ago from being an evangelical. I cannot find in Jesus' teaching anything about threats of hell or offers of heaven based on the evangelical sinner's prayer.

If anything, entering into God's kingdom involves caring for the hungry and the poor and visiting prisoners.


Last edited by The Questioner on Fri Feb 03, 2017 6:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:37 pm 
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In Matthew 25: 31-46 - the account of the sheep and the goats - Jesus makes an interesting and challenging contrast between those who do the kind of things you mention Questioner and those who don't. He identifies himself with those who are marginalised and needy so, even though we may not recognise it, these practical responses to real need are counted as being directly related to him.


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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 6:07 am 
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I found Peter Harrison's and The Questioner's views on Christianity quite refreshing, and still waiting for the fundamentalists to arrive!

It helps me to understand how someone can be a Christian in this day, age and society ("in a little thou persuadest me to become a Christian") and, especially, to remain a Christian after having had a stint or half a lifetime in the EB. Thanks folks!


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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:51 am 
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I sincerely commend Christianity to be truly worth rediscovering. It has been wisely said "We may need to lose God in order to find God."


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 Post subject: Re: SALVATION
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:41 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:42 am
Posts: 30
Thanks very much Peter for moving my question over here, and thanks to all for your contributions - much more interesting than a Friday night reading!

It seems to me after a childhood growing up in the low fat EB, and many subsequent years of turbulent questioning, that what we really need saving from is faith based religion in all its forms. In this age of scientific progress, reason and enlightenment, surely the need for supernatural divinities and spurious holy books to provide answers to age old questions is long gone isn't it?

The world would be a much better and a far happier place if we could just abandon religion altogether. Human progress will continue to be held back until this happens in my view.


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