Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"New Notions of Salvation"" Clarified

"This rise, I believe, has to do with new notions of salvation." Can you give examples of these new notions? You sort of left that comment hang on it's own and i'm wondering if you can elaborate?

This was posted as a response on the previous entry and deserves an answer. In order to do so I'll refer you this article about the genocide in Rwanda. The reality that this country was, at the time of the genocide, the most Christianized nation in Africa, begs the question: "How can a 'Christianized' people participate wholeheartedly in one of the most intensive periods of genocide in human history? The answer is found, I believe, in an inadequate declaration of the gospel. People may come to Christ for assurance of heaven, or for personal betterment, or for an answer to some problem, having heard that Christ meets us and addresses these matters. While this is all well and good, the problem is that such a privatized declaration of the gospel misses huge swaths of God's redemptive story, leaving much in our lives fundamentally unchanged. Thus, given the right circumstances, the hatred seething under the surface (between tribes, or classes, or genders, or sexual orientation) pushes to the surface among card carrying believers, resulting in horrible ugliness. The Rwandan example is illustrative of the great need we have to articulate the full implications of the gospel - to declare, as it were, the 'new' notions of salvation. By 'new' here, I don't really mean 'new', but rather 'new to a certain generation' by virtue of the fact that some notions of salvation had been buried.

"Yes... the poor Rwandans... blind to their tribal hatreds!" Ah, but you see, that's the very spirit of things that is dangerous, because we surely have blind spots too (could they be related to materialism, individualism, environmental degradation...???) We too need 'new notions of salvation.' To the degree that we fail to embrace the full implications of the gospel, we paint a distorted picture of Christ's character. It happened during the Crusades, during the Inquisition, during duplicity with unjust regimes, during slavery, during genocide... and it's happening today. Thankfully, we're beginning to see where, with John Newton, we once were blind.

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At 11/2/08 10:18, Blogger peteyd said...

Thanks! I didn't mean to give you more work, but was intrigued by the statement. I get what you are saying and have thought about it before too. I think there are unintended consequences to accepting, or sharing, the gospel for any other reason than simply believing that it's true.


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