On the Question of Salvation And Jesus

This book thread has taken some very strange turns.


I make no claim to be any good as a theologician nor scriptural scholar, but I've read the Gospels. Also, I sure don't want to argue either about the Pope's latest mumblings, nor argue with those on here who Absolutely Know the Truth Without Question. And FenelonSpoke seems to have the Catholic question under control, so I leave that to FS.

Yet I can't help chiming in with my 2 mites' worth on the question of salvation and Jesus.

Jesus plainly said, no one comes to the Father except by him, but he wasn't long on explanation of exactly what that meant. Some folks believe it means you have to "believe in" Jesus in this life in order to be saved. And by "believe in," they mean this, that, and the other. Okay, that's one interpretation.

However, I notice that when Jesus was asked, what must one do to be saved, he gave a proper Jewish reply: keep the commandments. Nothing in the commandments about how one has to "believe in" Jesus, much less the other basics of Fundamentalism. That top commandment is pretty clear, though.

Talking about judgment, though, Jesus said things like, by their fruits will you know them, and we are forgiven as we forgive, and we are judged not by our words or deeds but by what's in our hearts.

In the confusion in which so many children of God on this out-of-kilter earth are trapped, who will judge the heart of another? Who can say what it really means to be a believer? Most of the atheists with whom I've talked, when they explain why they don't believe, I have to agree, I wouldn't believe in that God either.

There may be true, unsalvagable atheists who don't want to know, who don't want to go, and who thus suffer the fate of the grave, but many, perhaps most, may be more what we would call agnostics, could we see their true heart - people who might believe and follow truth and righteousness if they only heard it presented to them clearly, with all their confusing sophistry somehow kept at bay.

Salvation, seems t'me, is a choice given to God's free-will children, but in this life, many must not be able to make the clear, fully-informed choice of eternal salvation - they simply haven't been presented with the truth in a clear way to make their full-hearted choice possible. What loving, forgiving parent would eternally condemn the child for being, not willfully iniquitous, but sinning and erring in confusion of understanding?

This brings up a necessary kind of purgatorial afterlife, where that maximal question can be properly presented to a surviving soul, and the final choice be freely made. That would also mean the candidate for Paradise is not in Paradise yet, but some lesser "heaven" where the errors of mortal life can be ironed out. There's the reason for the conjecture of a transitional stage.

Frankly, I hope there's some post-graduate level, because for all my belief, my own faith seems less than a quark, much less a grain of mustard seed. I can't say I've qualified - indeed, with all acceptance of forgiveness, I seem to myself grossly unworthy. I need more training-up. If you don't, well, good for you.

Rather than searching for some grand conclusion to these armchair noodlings, let me just quote from the Book of Only the Punchline:

"Shh! They think they're the only ones here."