This post begins a new series of posts here at Paradoxology -- posts which strike at the very heart of my blog and my fascination with the tensions and paradoxes of our faith. It's difficult to know exactly where I should begin, and so I'll post them in no particular order of importance or priority.
Do the ancient scriptures present salvation as purely a "personal" matter or as one impacted/influenced/determined by the relational and/or spiritual ties with ones family or community?
In Acts 16:31, Luke seems to articulate the matter in a clear, straightforward manner:
They answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." (NRSV)
And yet Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (2:12) puts an entirely different spin on the work of salvation:
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (NRSV)
So which soteriological understanding is correct? Is salvation a purely individualistic undertaking? Or is there a corporate connection to our being saved?
I have already somewhat revealed my position on this by even suggesting that a paradox even exists here (a point, I am sure, that some will take issue with). And I'm not really looking for anyone to simply respond with "both are true" -- that's already implied by labeling this subject as paradoxical.
But I AM interested in hearing your thoughts as to:
- why it is important to understand salvation as both personal and corporate in nature (or not!), as well as...
- how we should understand these two concepts as intersecting each other?
I certainly understand that this is not the only paradox connected with soteriology. Perhaps a more significant one lies in the tension between personal choice and divine initiative, or between the importance of faith and works. But I'll leave both of those for another day.
Ours is undisputably an overly individualistic age -- a fact that has undoubtedly left its mark on popular views concerning salvation in recent centuries. But how much of a mark has it left? How far have we moderns deviated from the early church's understanding of salvation? Is our highly individualistic understanding of salvation still defendable?
I look forward to your thoughts and insights concerning this fascinating paradox.
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