Monday, 16 December 2013

Salvation from the perspective of a Kingdom centered Gospel

Poor doctrine tends to have a ripple effect on the rest of our theology. For example, Christianity started out as a group of Christ centered Kingdom people in which its followers were expected to turn the other cheek and bless those who cursed them, even to the point of laying down their lives for their enemies (just as their leader did). Yet when Augustine came along in the 4th and 5th century, he reasoned that if people (a different Christian sect known as the Donatists) were forced into embracing his brand of Christianity it would be for their own good in the larger scope of things. His views helped to justify the church’s right to use political power to assert spiritual control. This line of thinking would eventually lead to things like the Inquisition where the “church” killed countless numbers of people who refused to submit to Roman Catholicism and the Pope. Unfortunately, the early Protestant Church carried over this same kind of reasoning and had just as much blood on its hands. Many of the early reformers like Calvin, who is today considered by many as a hero of the faith, were guilty of having other Christians killed over doctrinal differences. The story between him and Servetus is horrific and if you have not heard about it before you can read about it here.

Sometimes our errors are less obvious and can be more subtle. For example, in a previous post I touched on the gospel which today is being taught as a salvation message. This is not so much wrong as it is a half truth, but half truths lead to half revelations, a wrong emphasis in evangelism and half hearted conversions. Let me explain, a Gospel that says accept Christ as your savior but neglects to tell you that Christ is Lord has lead to what some call “easy believism”. The Kingdom road has been replaced with a one minute prayer for salvation from hell. And the fruits of this are churches full of people who look more like the world than they do like Christ. But how can we expect anything more of them when statistics reveal that the people who are leading them (not all of them) have higher or equal divorce rates, addictions to alcohol and pornography and burnout than the people out in the world.

So what’s missing in the salvation message? Salvation as Greg Boyd puts it, is about manifesting God’s fullness of life by cultivating a counter-cultural lifestyle that revolts against every aspect of society that is inconsistent with the character of God and his will for the world. It’s about living and praying in a way that actualizes the fullness of the Lord’s prayer that the Father’s will would be done “on earth as it is in heaven”(Matthew 6:10). That is a radically different way of looking at it than the way most of us have understood it.

Additionally, the error of penal substitution theory which is embraced in most Western Churches has lead people to believe that this salvation message basically means that we are saved from Gods wrath and hell. What Penal substitution neglects to tell us is how we are saved from the evil one, from the Adamic nature which brings death rather than life and also that one day this broken creation will be restored as well. PS theory also fails to harvest any kind of trust in us that God is loving, merciful and just when you really start to think about it.

Some have said that salvation carries past, present and future aspects in that we have been saved from darkness into light and from death into life, we are being saved from the Adamic nature as we are slowly conformed into Christs image and that we will be saved on the day of judgment from destruction. This is maybe a nice way of thinking about it. Salvation is not something that we can simply put in the past but that is manifested in us daily.


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