How does Jesus lead us to salvation?
How does Jesus lead us to salvation? He emerges in the Biblical text in two guises. As the messianic God, a third of the Trinity. And as the teacher-healer who, in all probability, knew Abba well before he moved from Nazareth to Capernaum and began his epochal ministry
As Trinitarian Deity, he can only be given credence in a church setting, in a religion that is demonstrably divided and is even more demonstrably but a fraction of all on earth. One can be accepted into this church in numerous ways including confession of faith, acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, etc.
As teacher-healer who was clearly ONE with Abba, Jesus can be embraced by all on earth with no recourse to the creed or the churches. If one wishes to argue that this second Jesus is also God and that he exerts saving power and that the result is repentance and a life oriented to love and justice, I have no argument. But I would say that he wanted us to travel the same way so the same possibility was opened to us.
If one wishes to argue that Jesus himself, when he appears in the first chapter of Mark and says the day of Abba is at hand and designates THIS as the good news, I say correct.
If one wishes to argue that the growth of the church into a creedal institution that had a checkered history but was necessary for various reasons, I will say certainly, but that was then and this is now.
The good news of Abba’s presence is UNIVERSAL. The church today is a bushel hiding its light in the name of the narrow suggestion that we cannot be born again by a simple act we should in fact perform daily, not just by rote on Sunday. We must do it in a bible-believing church. To many this is a symbol of a creed-based fundamentalism that is part of a problem not an answer.
Salvation has everything to do with the structure of Reality. Our works (good deeds and expressions) are NOT essential to achieving ultimate goodness. We are not saved by works but by repentance for the wrongs we do in exchange for forgiving the wrongs of others. This saves us daily to the extent that we have contact with Abba.
Abba may be synonymous with Ultimate Reality and even our higher self. Jesus was a lot looser than the churches have been. He noted that one could be close to the “kingdom of God” by observing some of the commandments but that the grand kahuna was turning over wealth to the poor.
If anyone believed that there was some resonance between doing good and being whole or saved or fulfilled, it was Jesus. Reality tends toward goodness. Justice will be done. Peace will come. These are universal messages, not emoluments available only to born-again Christians.
Paul was concerned with justification. Who is thus concerned today? Perhaps persons with narcissistic personality disorder. The rest are perfectly aware of fallibility, completely aware of the evil out there and inside us. More and more are inclined to accept that we have some effect on whether life is good or bad.
What is the Kingdom of Heaven? It is what Jesus referred to many times as the realm of Abba, mainly but not exclusively a place, in other words a state of being to which we might aspire. There has always been a confusion between this designation and the words “eternal life”.
Cutting to the chase, we all have a theory of what form or shape salvation might have, apart from a changed life on earth. STOP. We don’t know. Supposition is all we have. Reason alone is our best weapon in seeking to fathom a future that involves either a future for goodness itself, or for our flesh and blood, individual personalities after we are no more.
Need I mention how unreasonable it is to think that cremation is a good idea if we are bodily resurrected? The fact of the matter is that deaths are so varied and disposal of us is so, ahem, final, there is NO WAY to imagine a future life or an achieved status for goodness without believing that there might be some way nothing could become something.
This is why the best notion I can come up with is that each person of any age has consciousness and that this transcends chronology. The consciousness of a babe born dead might have as robust an ultimate future as mine which has known 80 years chock full of experience. It might be that our existence in the future would be dreamlike, which would not be that bad at all, assuming that the dreams are good. If this sounds flippant, it is. This, like most of what I write, is in the realm that Ludwig (Wittgenstein) said we cannot talk about. I say we must talk about it. We must be willing to give up our perfection-fetish for a relatively decent existence that might trend toward “eternal life”. We are all Philistines.
Who gives us the power to repent? Who gives us life? The answer is obvious. Our Creator. Whatever construct we put on it, we are created and there are rules with which we have nothing to do and which we cannot affect. Science can wiggle but it cannot transcend creation. Nothing can.
Creation is Reality.
Thus our power is limited and we call that finitude. But we should not thereby say we have NO power. We have tons of it. It is called freedom, will, choice and conscious capacity. To deny it is to descend into nihilism. To rise above it one must be open to repentance, self-analysis, change, renewal.
There is thus an argument for saying we’re all children of God, etc. Without getting into a binary argument with atheists. But unfortunately we now live in a binary world. We are thinking-disabled.
Triadic is the mode for critical and reasonable thought. It has always been the mode. It precludes war and violence because there is ALWAYS a third way.
But saying we are all children of God and that Jesus was a man are both true in a general sense. But no truth so stated is complete. And who are we to judge what is true and what is false?
The notion that Jesus will not accept everyone, that he will be the sole judge of every being and will condemn some to outer darkness is among the most presumptuous assumptions in existence.
We know nothing beyond now. We cannot claim to know the future. And we are notoriously lacking in basic humility. Mystery surrounds us even in what lies before our eyes and enters our ears.
The idea that any of us can pick and choose who is good or not, beyond a very basic sense that one has added to harm and hurt, is fatuous in the extreme.
There is no such thing as a fixed and true interpretation of anything including the Bible. Renan was a scholar and author whose biography of Jesus exerted massive influence in the 19th Century. Much of what he says has been bypassed by emerging insights. We pick the interpretations we like. They are all dross at some point. Even Einstein gets amended and he was a peaceful partisan of triadic understanding.
Nothing any of us says holds. Accept it. Confess it. Live with it.