Emails we have received about salvation
Our menu and associated essays on salvation
describe passages in Christian Scriptures (New Testament) which deal
with salvation. Various verses imply that a person will be saved, and eventually go
to Heaven if they:
||repent of their sins,
||believe in Jesus as the Son of God,
||believe in Jesus' resurrection,
||do good works, and/or
||follow church rituals.
Unfortunately, the Bible does not describe the precise combination(s) of these six factors
which are required
There are also passages which state that a person can lose
||By committing the one unforgivable sin. Unfortunately, this sin is not
||By engaging in certain forbidden behaviors, such as murder, gossiping,
fornication, idolatry, and two ambiguously described activities which have been
variously interpreted as: being effeminate, committing sexual
abuse, and being a sexually-active homosexual.
The Bible's ambiguity is regrettable. If one interprets the Christian
Scriptures literally, it is obvious that there are only two possible final
destinations for persons after death: heaven or hell.
It is thus of paramount importance, to those who interpret the Scriptures
literally, to determine precisely what is required of them to be saved. All
other matters pale in comparison.
What different faith groups say about salvation:
Different Christian denominations have reached
conflicting conclusions about salvation. Various faith groups teach that,
||Faith in Jesus is the sole requirement.
||Repentance followed by trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior are the only
||Church sacraments, sincerely entered into, determine one's status.
||Both faith and good works are required.
||Nothing is required, because all are saved and will eventually attain
In addition, there are continuing debates about:
Within any given denomination, beliefs concerning salvation are clear and
unambiguous. It is only when one compares the teachings of different faith
groups that the full range of conflicting understandings about salvation become apparent.
after-death destination of those who have never had a chance to hear the Gospel.
||Whether salvation is permanent ("Once saved,
always saved") or whether it can be lost through unacceptable behavior.
Emails that we have received on the topic of salvation:
||Email received: "The Bible is clear, if
taken in context. Mormon beliefs are in complete agreement with the
Bible: salvation comes through belief and works. We do not pick and choose certain Biblical
passages while ignoring others."|
Our response: The Mormon point of view is well represented in James
2:24: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not
by faith only." However, almost all other conservative Christian
denominations prefer to dwell on conflicting passages like Romans
3:28: "... man is justified by faith without the
[necessity of] deeds of the law." Various faith groups
have reached different conclusions:
||Mormons have concluded that salvation requires both faith and good works.
||Evangelicals generally conclude that salvation requires
faith only, or repentance plus faith.
||Roman Catholicism interprets the Bible as saying that salvation requires church
sacraments, sincerely entered into.
Sincere, devout, intelligent Christians of various denominations have
interpreted the Bible in very different ways. Their method is to stress
certain passages while largely discounting others. Each of these three faith groups,
and others, can support their belief systems by quoting biblical passages.
||Email received: "The Bible cannot be understood by the
natural man. A person must first be born again in order to have the Holy
Spirit dwell within them before they can attain spiritual discernment. Once they have spiritual discernment then the
clear, unambiguous message of the Gospel becomes obvious."|
Our response: That is a common belief system among conservative
Christians. It can not be disproved since there is no universally accepted
definition of being "born-again". Some believe that
one is "born again" if they merely trust Jesus as
Lord and Savior. Others say that those that have been truly "born
again" exhibit gifts from God, like speaking in tongues.
Consider defining as "born-again" everyone who sincerely
believes themselves to be so. Then the Emailer's belief about
spiritual discernment can be demonstrated to be invalid. Consider The Counterpoints series of books
by Zondervan. Each book in the series is written by three to five
Evangelical Christian leaders, all of whom believe that they have been born again. Yet they reach
mutually exclusive points of view on such topics as divorce, evolution,
hell, the millennium, rapture, salvation, sanctification, etc.
||Email received: "Those who do not trust Jesus as Lord and
Savior will go to Hell, irregardless [sic] of any good, positive works they
perform. The only way
into the Kingdom of God is through the blood of Christ, shed on the cross
for our sins, that we may be saved."|
Our response: This is a common conservative Christian position on
salvation, heaven and hell. However, it does imply that the vast majority of
human beings (including many who have never heard of the gospel, Christ or
Christianity) will go to Hell, solely because they had never had the
opportunity to trust Jesus. Many Christians find this belief incompatible
with a loving, just God. It is also in conflict with many passages in the
synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke) which indicate that salvation is
attained through good deeds, and/or by a major lifestyle change. Matthew
25:31-46 is a particularly clear indication that salvation is by works.
Email received: "What is the truth about
Our response: We have lots of material on this topic. Our overview
essay on salvation describes:
||The truths of salvation as believed by conservative, mainline
and liberal Christians. They do not agree.
||The truths of salvation according to various Christian creeds.
Unfortunately, they do not agree either.
||What various Bible passages say about salvation. Again, they
Our essay "Comparing various beliefs
in salvation" describes some of the truths that Christian
individuals and groups have taught. All of these groups
are composed of thoughtful, intelligent, dedicated, devout individuals, trying
to understand the Bible. But they reach totally different
conclusions about what "truth" is on the topic of
salvation. What our web site doesn't offer is absolute truth,
because absolute truth on salvation apparently does not exist. As
described in our essay http://religioustolerance.org/abs_true.htm, absolute
truth does not exist for many other religious topics as well.
||Email received: "I hope you go bankrupt. You are damning
your so called two-thirds of the population to hell. Christ was, is, and
always will The Way. Stop trying to rewrite the truth and history.
Noboby [sic] needs you."|
Our response: The two thirds of the population that this visitor
refers to are probably the non-Christians of the world, many of whom
have never heard of Jesus, the Gospel or Christianity. Some of them have
heard a distorted view of Christianity -- sufficient disinformation to
be repelled by it. Many conservative Christians do believe that anyone
who does not trust Jesus as Lord and savior during their life on earth
will end up in Hell -- even if they had never heard of Jesus. However,
there seems to be a movement within the Evangelical Christian community
towards a belief that these people will be given
some form of second chance for salvation. As far as the desire that
we go bankrupt, we are aware that hundreds of devout conservative
Christians are praying daily that this will happen. We are indeed in
financial difficulty. However it is because our
web site has so many visitors that we cannot afford the
excess-throughput charges of our Internet Service Provider. It appears
that lots of people want to visit our web site; some must need us.
Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-FEB-1
Latest update: 2001-OCT-7
Author: B.A. Robinson