10. Salvation – A Reflection on the Christian Concept of Salvation (Part 2)

I showed why I think the precepts of Christian salvation contradict the idea of a just God, so if God is just, salvation through Christ can’t be real. But one day a thought stroke me: What if God is unjust?? After all, there is no certainty for anything.

PASCAL’S LOGIC

My answer to that was somehow similar to Blaise Pascal’s logic in his book, Pensées. Pascal concluded that his best choice was to believe in Christianism, rather than atheism, because he wouldn’t have anything to lose even if atheism was right. But if he lived as an atheist and Christianism was right, he would burn in hell. But I think Pascal had a too minimalist view. Well, Christianism won’t save you if Islamism is right. Or Judaism. Or Seventh-day Adventism. Or the Unification Church. Etc.

But it might be possible to apply his logic to the notion of justice. Regardless if there is a “God” or not, the nature of the world can be either just or unjust. If the world is just, people will be “judged” based on how just they are. If the world is unjust, then maybe Christianism is right and there is an unjust God who imposes a condition for salvation, without giving people the ability to verify it. But if this unjust God is real, then his condition can be belief in Jesus, but can also be belief in the Quran, or the knowledge of a gnostic code, or a crazy kind of baptism, or eating banana with ketchup. There are infinite possibilities, it can be anything. Or nothing. So I figured even if the world is ultimately unjust, there is no point in looking for a possible condition of salvation, since no matter which one I choose I will very likely be wrong. It’s better to try to lead a just life. If the world is just, I win. If the world is unjust, I might win or lose, but even if I am to lose, there is nothing I can do anyways.

THE SYMBOLISM

I always wondered why faith is demanded for salvation in Christianism, instead of things like love and righteousness (even if not perfect). What I found out is that the notion of faith in a savior as the source of salvation is not exclusive to Christianism. In the Pure Land school of Buddhism, for example, followers emphasize faith in Amitabha Buddha. It is said that this buddha built a heavenly dimension free of suffering called the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, and everyone who truly believes in him and his work will be reborn in this land. Quite similar, huh? It makes me think that the salvation faith brings is of another kind than most of people believe. Perhaps salvation stories like these were developed so that people can have hope, and it is this hope that saves them from suffering, from the pessimism and worries of life. So the more faith you have, the more hopeful you feel, and the more “saved” you get.

But I have come to agree that the story of Jesus’ atonement can have an even more profound saving effect, not achieved necessarily through blind faith, but by understanding its symbolism. A salvation that is not from hell, but from oneself.

Despite all those inconsistent dogmas like eternal death, total depravity and saving faith, I must recognize the atonement story is uniquely brilliant in its simplicity. The tale of a son of God who abandons his throne and succumbs to a humiliating and painful death in order to save his own enemies and sinners offers a breath-taking change of paradigm. While the Jewish Messiah should manifest his greatness in his military might and worldly achievements, the Christian Messiah achieves his glory through humbleness, mercifulness, and unconditional love. I’d say that anyone who truly understands and follows this example, that is the one who experiences the true essence of salvation.

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