Last week I started the “God, My Savior” series and began with a little historical lesson. So today I am going to talk about the purpose of a salvation figure in religion. This should help us understand why other religions do not have a salvation figure.
1. An example
In polytheistic religions there are deities that represent different aspects of our lives. There are goddesses of fertility, gods of truth, and gods of healing to name a few. When dealing with those particular issues, one can pray to these gods for a solution to the problem. In a monotheistic religion, there is only God. God is the holy name of the unnamed universal order, creator and sustainer of life. In any religion it is believed that one cannot directly pray to God without a person or thing interceding on your behalf. God/Creator is just that holy. Polytheistic religions have deities and monotheistic religions have heavenly figures generally to intercede.
Judaism and Islam are unique in that they do not have a salvation figure but there are examples: Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. That is why some place the argument that Christianity is not truly monotheistic because of the Triune God doctrine.
The salvation figure is an example of how to live on earth and spend eternity in heaven. Since the salvation figure is always part human and part God, he is a great example of what it is like to walk the earth with God. Through the salvation figure it is revealed how one should behave on earth. In my opinion it is difficult for Christians to see Jesus as an example AND a deity because that means we can no longer attain or do what Jesus did. Even though Jesus said we would. The addition that Jesus absolved the sins of the world is a very interesting doctrine that I will deal with later on in the series.
2. Deliverance from sins
Okay, so this is where it gets sticky. Let’s go back to Osiris, Horus, and Zarathrustra. None of these salvation figures or stories died for anyone’s sin. They just pointed the way to God through stories and conflicts. Christianity took it a step further and said now all humankind is absolved from sin and is now connected to God. Instead of going to the temple to make a sacrifice or pray at certain times of the day, one is pretty much free to do whatever one likes. Talk to God when you want…live your life as you believe it honors the life Jesus. If you look through the Canon, you won’t see too many regulations.Well there is Paul and as an understanding of Paul, he basically gave direction to the different communities as it relates to their culture. Let’s just look at Jesus. If you are a Christian you are free from religious law and sin. It’s party time!!!
3. Reconciliation with God
Now that we have seen an example and have been delivered, we are now able to enter the presence of God. Zarathrustra is a good example of reconciliating a group of people back to God. This reconciliation is not just so one can pray to God but also recognize God’s existence. Remember when I mentioned the relationship of religion and worldview, well this is where that comes into play. If one does not know God then one cannot believe in God. With the example of the salvation figure a person can be reunited with God through their teachings and life. Reunited and it feels sooo gooood! This is why in fundamental Christianity proselytizing is so important; the more converts the more people reunited with God. I mean no one wants to be lonely in heaven :).
Here are the purposes of salvation. I have been very objective in these last two posts but I’m going to start talking about autonomy and accountability in the Christian version of salvation. Not going to be as objective…just a warning.
May the odds be ever in your favor.