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Resolving religious conflicts within a family

Impediment 3: Beliefs about salvation

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See also Impediment 2: Exodus 22:18

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Beliefs about salvation:

Conservative Protestants are frequently taught that:

bulletThe default destination for those who are unsaved are the torture chambers of Hell where its captives suffer intense pain for all eternity from flogging, worms eating their flesh, intolerable heat, darkness and thirst without any hope of relief or mercy. This emphasis on punishment is fading in many denominations. It is being replaced by a new concept of Hell as a place that is simply isolated from God. However some faith groups still stress the pain of Hell.
bulletGod has extended the free gift of salvation to all who repent of their sins and trust Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
bulletWhen a person is saved, their sins are transferred from themselves onto a perfectly sinless God-man, Jesus. God remembers the sins of the saved no more.
bulletA person may be able to lose their salvation by committing the "unforgivable sin."
bulletA person may or may not be able to lose their salvation by committing other sins, such as abandoning Christianity for another religion.

There is no consensus within conservative Protestantism on whether a person, once saved, can lose their salvation. Individual denominations have reached a conclusion, but there is no consensus among denominations.

bulletSome Christian leaders teach that once a person is saved, they are always saved.
bulletOthers teach that a person can lose their salvation through various actions. One such behavior might be to abandon Christianity and become a Wiccan.
bulletTo make matters worse, there is no consensus on what the "unforgivable sin" is; we have found 31 interpretations of this sin, all different. The Bible is clearly ambiguous on this matter.

Conservative Protestant parents are understandably very concerned that each of their children become saved when they are sufficiently mature to understand the concept. This stress continues throughout the parent's life if they believe that their saved children could lose their salvation at any time. To them, a child who leaves the Church and adopts Wicca is not simply lost to Christianity. The parent may believe that their child will face an eternity in Hell because of their decision.

One often hears that the worst experience a parent can have is the loss of a child to death. But believing that your child faces an infinite sentence in Hell -- where even one second's worth of pain would be intolerable -- could be even worse than losing a child to death. 

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Other views about salvation:

Many Christians have abandoned belief that one's eternal destiny in Heaven or Hell is determined by one's salvation status at the time of death.

bulletSome believe that a person is judged worthy of attaining Heaven on the basis of good works  that they have done while on earth. That is, people can earn their way to Heaven. They often cite Matthew 25:31 and following verses as support for their beliefs.

This passage describes the Son of Man judging humans solely on the basis of their good works towards the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned. This is the "sheep and goats" text in which the righteous sheep attain "the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." The unrighteous goats are who did not help suffering people in their time of need were sent "into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." With this belief system, a generous, considerate and sincere Agnostic, Atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Wiccan, etc. who followed the Golden Rule would have equal chance of attaining Heaven.
bulletSome reject the theological belief that the responsibility and punishment for sins can be transferred from an individual to Jesus. They reject the entire concept of sin transference from the guilty to the innocent as being profoundly immoral.

Some Christians have abandoned the concept of Hell entirely as a place of eternal torment. They have come to believe that this is incompatible with the concept of a loving God -- the Abba to whom Jesus prayed.

However, most conservative Christians have retained the literal teachings of the Bible about Hell and its torture chambers. They harmonize Hell with a loving God by noting that God's attributes include both perfect love and perfect justice. The latter makes it impossible for him to allow the unsaved into Heaven. They view the Bible as describing only two options for one's eventual eternal destiny: Heaven and Hell. Apparently, in his wisdom, God has not created a "Holiday Inn class" of eternal destiny for kind, generous, but unsaved people ... at least the Bible doesn't mention such a place.

There is probably no way in which to resolve this impediment without changing the conservative Christian's entire view of the nature of God, the reality of salvation, and the nature of Heaven, and Hell. That is one very tall order!

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See also Impediment 4: Links between Wicca and Satanism

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Home > World religions > Wicca > Christian conflict > Families > here

Home > Christianity > Comparison to other faiths > Christian conflict > Families > here

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-NOV-17
Latest update and review: 2008-NOV-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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