Saturday, June 18, 2011
Salvation: from what?
In this context "the world" is a reference to the a system of behavior, and authority running the program of history and being directed in some way by the devil, but also subjected to the problematic results of a curse put upon it after the Fall in Genesis 3.
Yet, Evangelical Christianity is more regularly considering the fact that the world is in need of being saved from not just the curse of the Fall, but of our poor use of it. So salvation is being viewed as encompassing the idea of Creation being saved from humanity, and our devastating impact upon it.
Then the idea of salvation as a deliverance from "the Flesh" is a clear denotating that Evangelical Christian theology views each and every human as needing to be saved from themselves. Slavoj Zizek (Lacanian-Marxist Theorist, atheist, and most popular of philosophers today) recently made the point that breaking the social barriers which create "untouchables" will not occur simply by elevating those untouchables to a position of "children of god" as many have been trying to do in India's caste system, but "the first step should rather be exactly the opposite one: to universalize their excremental status to the whole of humanity." (Living in the End Times pg. 23) He then references Martin Luther as an example of properly thinking through establishing an egalitarian ethic.
Before the promotion comes the demotion.
This is the heart of Evangelical soteriology. It is the core of the idea of repentance followed by acceptance by God and elevation to a noble status. This highlights the concept of being saved from ourselves. Yet it also places us in the tension of living between the sewage trenches and the palace. This is us being saved from ourselves.
Then the identification of an external enemy with malevolent designs enters the picture of this struggle of life and death. The world may be an external force, but it is stupid (unthinking, broken and failing in some kind of post-apocalyptic vision all around us.) We may at times be malevolent toward one another, and perhaps even toward ourselves, but salvation from self (the Flesh) is a far more difficult enemy to overcome, because as we typically discover in our struggles - we like Paul understand the tension of doing those things we don't want to do, and not doing those things we do want to do (Romans 7).
Yet, the third enemy, "the Devil", is an outside, personal, and malevolent force. That is how much of Christian theology views this part of the dynamic of salvation. We have an enemy and he has designs against us. Therefore we should be wary, and recognize that the World and the Flesh may at times become resources for the intelligent and malevolent designs of the Devil. He is trolling our lives, making accusations, and setting traps. Unlike the previous external unthinking, and internal forces this third purposely malevolent force appears to have no hope for salvation, and so there is no view of reciprocal evil being paid back to "the Devil" such as we find man in his destruction of the world. So it is, that in some way we are becoming like devils ourselves through activities which are like his own, and thus we need to be saved from him, and from becoming like him all at once.
This thing called salvation appears to have an all encompassing demand. There may nothing untouched from its reach into our lives.