Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Salvation...

"Christ is the deliverer for time as truly as well as for eternity.... He is come to open the prison doors. He is come to set men free from their bonds. He is indeed the Saviour of the world!" (William Booth 1889).
Ray Harris (TP in Canada) once said your 'understanding of mission will only be as wide as your understanding of salvation'. Thinking about 'Lost Themes of Mission' I remembered in the early days of URBANarmy trying to explore this and discovering the danger of watering down Salvation. I also remember taking a bit of minor yet friendly stick for it - even being labeled a heretic ;o)!!!

Stumbling into bechurch shortly afterwards I read these thoughts…

"a friend of mine asked me a few months ago something that I've really been wrestling with for a while. It has to do with salvation and the common evangelical understanding of it. (belief in Jesus = Salvation and Righteousness.... No belief in Jesus = Condemnation and Hell)"

"Now.... I totally agree with that definition, but after really wrestling with the following question for a bit I think that I am starting to see that God's view of salvation is probably just a little more complex and less formulaic than the reader's digest version that we throw around in the evangelical church. I still believe that the reader's digest version is true, but I think there is also much more depth and richness to the gospel than we often realise."

He took a bit of a thumping, however, has our understanding of salvation been narrowed to the point whereby we have lost the profoundness of the fullness of Salvation? As evangelicals we seem to be red hot on the '‘pardon from God'’ aspect of salvation – but speak out aspects of wholeness; healing; community; liberation; sufficiency; fullness of life etc.. in the same breath as Salvation and I'm afraid you'’ll draw '‘wooly liberal'’ glances quickly followed by quick condemnation and dismissal. It leaves me thinking why has this aspect of Salvation become a negotiable?
Since writing that a couple of years ago I have found myself discovering more and more depth to what we understand as Salvation. Bruggemann reminds us that:-
"The primal story line of the Old Tesatament is a sequence of events through which YHWH intervenes in the life of Israel in order to effect rescue, deliverance and emancipation. These actions are nameable, concrete and decisively transformative and are termed salvationÂ… this language bespeaks transformative power of immense proportion so that salvation can also be understood as a victory over negating powers a that are now defeated by the greater power of YHWH....Salvation is deliverance from any and every circumstance or any negative power that prevents full, joyous communal existence. Anything that precludes a full life that reflects the saving one that in the past , can always and will in the future overcome every impediment to well-being."
Jurgen Moltmann also points to an encourages a wide view of Salvation. He writes,
"Salvation does not mean merely salvation of the soul, individual rescue from the evil of the world, comfort to the troubled conscience, but also the realization of the eschatological hope of justice, the humanizing of man, the socializing of humanity, peace for all creation"
The Lausanne covenant includes the following statement:
'“The Salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities.'
Dion Oxford in a recent article - Redemptive Theology of Salvation - (here) on theRubicon talks about William Booth's 'second conversion' and how he developed a new and broader understanding of Salvation. He started his ministry with the single goal of saving souls, later in his ministry he realized that Salvation had a social dimension as well. Roger Greens book on William Booth - The Life And Ministry Of William Booth: Founder Of The Salvation Army - talks about Booth's "Turning Points".

Dion points to an article Booth wrote called 'Salvation for Both Worlds'”
"Christ is the deliverer for time as truly as well as for eternity. He is the Joshua who leads men in our own day out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, as His forerunner did the children of Israel thousands of years ago. He is the Messiah who brings glad tidings! He is come to open the prison doors. He is come to set men free from their bonds. He is indeed the Saviour of the world!"” (William Booth 1889).
It is interesting that as the church has been persuing Salvation for individuals that the sense of Salvation for social structures have become an unnecessary distraction another lost theme of mission as it has become a negotiable. Certainly NT Wright had some interesting comments regards to what has shaped our theology of Salvation - but that'll have to wait!!
Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...
Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...

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