Inclusive Model of Salvation

The inclusive model holds that Jesus Christ is the normative expression of God’s will for all people.  The problem is that many people have never known Christ.  What role has the God of love for them?  Is Christian faith offered to everyone?  Some Christians believe in predestination so that only a few are chosen.  Christianity has always been missionary, sometimes overly zealous, as in the Crusades and the Inquisition.  What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ?  The Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) in the 16th century talked about a baptism of desire.  You will be saved by Jesus without knowing him.  Salvation is fully found in Jesus, but offered to everyone in all genuine religions who live the good life, who sincerely seek God, moved by grace, and strive by their deeds to do his will as they know it.  Sometimes we call them like Karl Rahner (1904-1984) “anonymous Christians.”

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Exclusive Model of Salvation

The exclusive model holds that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, as the only Son of God, the only Savior.  Jesus is the clearest way to salvation.  Evangelicals believe that you are not saved unless you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.  Certainly, he is the “best.”  Baptism in Jesus Christ brings the fullest revelation of truth.  There may be positive values elsewhere, but can you learn anything else?  The Christian Church is the one and only true religion.  There is no salvation outside this church.  Missionaries and evangelists have preached the need to know Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

The Divinity – Humanity Debate

What do you think about Jesus?  Some people believe that Jesus was just a human legend, another good guy.  Jesus could not work miracles nor tell the future and did not have divine power.  Others have underplayed the humanity of Jesus, emphasizing his divinity with all its powers.  In the minds of many, Jesus and God are one and the same.  The emphasis of one or the other aspect of Jesus can be a detriment to a true understandable belief in Jesus Christ.  The traditional Christian teaching has been that Jesus is truly human and truly divine at the same time.  Jesus Christ is the full authentic expression of the divinity in an individual human.  The object of Christian faith is Jesus Christ.  We find the authentic expression of Jesus Christ in Scripture.  The interpretation of Jesus Christ can be found in a Christian Church, since there have been various interpretations about Jesus Christ’s saving role.

 

 

Christian Sacraments

Christian sacraments have the power to enact what they symbolize.  These are outward signs instituted by Christ to be efficacious, to do what they symbolize.  The power of a ritual is more than the actual physical baptismal or sharing of the bread and wine event.  We remember and enact the experience of Jesus Christ.  This is not magic.  We do not need to be like a sports fan (fanatic) at a sporting event that goes crazy into the event.  Yet our involvement demands an expressing and deepening of the sense and experience of the mystery of God, as expressed in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the sacrament of God.  His Christian Church is the sacrament of Jesus.  The individual Christian sacraments are the expression of Jesus and his Christian community.  The sacramental symbols of the Christian churches effect what they symbolize.  They do what they say they are doing in a special graced filled moment.

 

Christian Whole Life

There are material dimensions to our life.  We are flesh, not just a spiritual soul.  We know about physical beauty and wealth.  If you are wealthy and the right race, does that prove that God loves you?  In reality, the physical world is morally neutral and can be an asset or a liability.  A disability can lead either to self-pity or courage.  Sex can either be an act of love or manipulation.  Wealth can be a power to help others or a path to greed.  We have to accept ourselves and who we are.  Thus, we have to let God shine through us.  We must bring our senses of touch, smell, and hearing into our faith.  We have to appreciate the beauty in the world around us.  Christians believe in an incarnation theology.  Jesus was truly in this world.  Do not fear the body, imagination or the aesthetic sense.  Your imagination uses myths and images to help you describe God, whether it be in music, art, or literature.

Christian Worship Practice

Sunday worship on the Sabbath is the key Christian ritual, with special emphasis on the Easter and Christmas ceremonies.  Sunday is the day of worship rather than Saturday because Sunday is the day of the Lord’s resurrection.  Thus, every Sunday is a little Easter celebration.  Worship centers on Bible readings and their interpretation with sermons and testimonials.  Prayers, hymns, chants and the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharistic meal, remain a mainstay of most Christian worship services.  The various Christian symbolic actions or sacraments grow out of a Trinitarian baptism based on a belief in Jesus Christ.

Prayer

A Christian is not without contact with God.  Prayer in its various forms is the normal contact with the transcendent reality, whatever name we place on it.  The ceremony of all religions is the point of contact with the divine.  Prayer can and should be both personal and public.  Thus, the Christian never forgets the admonition to pray always.  He or she remembers the great prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  The importance of prayer is like good communication.  Take time to pray.  Develop a personal prayer life.  Faith without prayer is impossible.  Request, give honor, praise, thank, listen, and share verbal and non-verbal prayer.  Prayer is the breath of the Christian spiritual life.  If we stop praying, it is like as if we stop breathing.  Your spiritual life will die without prayer.