Christian Salvation: More and More Questions

Ted Grimsrud—February 5, 2012

It is now over a month since I wrote my last set of reflections on the theme of salvation. That post received several quite helpful and challenging responses that I can only now get back to. It won’t be until this summer that I will have the time to concentrate directly on my writing on salvation, but I want to try to keep the conversation going with some responses now.

I will start with a general comment. Like all other theological themes, I think the most important issue in relation to thinking about salvation is that of how can this thinking help us better to love God and neighbor. That is, I am interested in the theology of salvation not mainly because I want to figure out a way to summarize what the Bible or history of Christian doctrine says about it. It is certainly the case that the Bible (and the tradition) presents us with many different views. But I don’t think all those views are equally helpful in helping us to practice love—some in fact are unhelpful.

I don’t think we need to insist that there is just one true view, but I do think we do operate in practice in light of particular ideas that we do value above others. In practice, we don’t operate with a bunch of different views that we keep in mind as various options that reflect the diversity of biblical theologies. We do prioritize. I’m simply saying, then, that we should recognize our need to prioritize and be self-conscious about it. And I then present the case for a perspective that makes theological priorities based on the call to love God and neighbor—in part because Jesus clearly does this and calls his followers to do likewise (I believe).

I greatly appreciated the challenging reflections shared by three people in particular. I find thinking of how best to respond to the comments of John Miller, Philip Bender, and Al Steiner has helped me tremendously in thinking things through. I am deeply grateful to each of these friends for pushing the conversation forward. Here are some thoughts in response. In this post I will only be able to respond to John’s comments. I hope to take up Philip’s and Al’s soon. Continue reading “Christian Salvation: More and More Questions”