How well do the creeds match what the Bible says? (Continued:)
"Salvation Requires Both Faith and Good Deeds": One passage appears
to imply that both works and faith are needed:
"And turning to the woman, he said unto Simon, Seest thou
this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath
wetted my feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. Thou
gavest me no kiss: but she, since the time I came in, hast not ceased to kiss my
feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but she hath
anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her
sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven,
(the same) loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are
forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within
themselves, Who is this that even forgiveth sins? (ASV)
These verses tell of a visit
by Jesus to the house of Simon. He is rude to Jesus, not giving him the traditional
courtesies. But the woman attended to Jesus with great love and had her sins forgiven
because of her love and caring.
But then Luke 7:50 was appended to the story:
he said unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
theologians suspect that this verse is an afterthought, added at a later date after the
original gospel had been written. The anonymous author's motivation would have been to bring the story
into line with the developing Christian theology which emphasized faith over works.
2 Thessalonians. 1:8-9:
"He will punish those who do not know God and
do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting
destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power."
Conservatives generally believe that St. Paul wrote this book. Many religious
liberals attribute the book to an unknown author, who wrote it many decades after Paul's
"You may be automatically saved if your husband or father is saved": Salvation may be dependent on others in your family: A passage
in Acts describes how a jailer asks Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved. They
replied that if the jailer has faith in Jesus, then both he and the rest of his family
will be saved:
Acts 16:30 "...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou
shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all
that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their
stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into
his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."
How does one find the "true" criterion/criteria for salvation?
Among many conservative Protestants, the Bible is considered inerrant -- without error. It is also considered reliable and not deceptive. How then can so many conflicting and mutually exclusive passages be interpreted. It can only be considered a mystery.
One option is to pick one criterion -- good deeds, faith, faith with baptism, repentance, faith and good deeds -- and ignore the others , hoping that you are lucky.
Another is to try to meet all of the criteria simultaneously -- good deeds, faith, baptism, and repentance. That would seem to be a safer bet.
Among many liberal Protestants, the Christian Scriptures show a great deal of evolution of Christian beliefs if the books are sorted in chronological order. The show a major conflict between the writings of St. Paul and the Apostles. One might ignore Paul's references to salvation, and concentrate more on the Gospels for guidance. The latter seem to fall into two groups:
The synoptic Gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke, were written circa 70, 80 & 90 CE. These appear to be relatively consistent.
The Gospel of John which was written early in the second century CE, which differs from the synoptic gospels in many ways.
Assuming that the earlier books more closely reflect Jesus' teachings. then perhaps Matthew is the most accurate and the best bet on which to base one's belief on salvation.