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 Salvation, according to the Christian Scriptures

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bullet "Now when we come to the four Gospels of the New Testament, we are surprised to see many discrepancies in them. The teachings of the first three synoptical Gospels are in many respects fundamentally different from those of the fourth Gospel. While the first three Gospels lay stress on the purity of heart and other ethical virtues, the fourth Gospel (John) lays emphasis on the absolute faith in the name of the only begotten son of God, without which a man is doomed to hell..." Rev. J.T. Sunderland, "The Origin and Character of the Bible.

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Various criteria to attain salvation

Various Creeds and Bible passages base personal salvation on an individual:

bullet having been baptized, 
bullet repenting of past sins,
bullet trusting Jesus as their Lord and Savior,
bullet believing that Jesus is the Son of God,
bullet believing that Jesus was resurrected,
bullet doing good works,
bullet following church rituals and sacraments, and/or
bullet avoiding certain specific behaviors.

But there was no consensus in the Bible as to the precise combination required. Some passages say that only good works are needed for a person to be saved. Other passages seem to contradict this by stating that salvation depended only upon belief in Jesus is needed. Other verses require two or more combinations of belief or actions, often including baptism and/or repentance.

This section will compare and contrast the writings of five important Christian writers. These are the five main writers whose books were incorporated into the Christian Scriptures: the letters of Paul, and the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. (For convenience, we are referring to the author of John as a single individual. Most theologians who are not conservative Christians believe that it was written by multiple authors in the name of John).

The synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) are treated as a group, because they agree closely. The Gospel of John is treated separately, as are the writings of St. Paul. That is because their discussion of the nature of Jesus and the criteria for salvation differ greatly.

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet The synoptic gospels --Mark, Matthew, and Luke: (Salvation primarily by good deeds or lifestyle changes)
bullet The gospel of John: (Salvation primarily by belief in Jesus as the Son of God)
bullet The writings of St. Paul: (Salvation primarily by belief in Jesus' resurrection)
bullet Conclusions

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Copyright © 1997 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-AUG-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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