Thursday, January 16, 2020
Does religion have anything to do with salvation?
A question. In our society at least, it doesn't. We are long removed from any Christian roots as a nation. Our schools, when they mention religion at all, do so from a secular, anthropological point of view. That is, Christianity, like all myths and legends, was invented by ancient humans trying to make sense of the universe. One of hundreds. Nothing more.
As for religion, it's seen increasingly as a negative by up and comings, and many fools in the Christian faith have, for decades, helped this trend by pulling the stupid 'I'm with Jesus, not Religion' rubbish. But on the whole, religion is generally seen as a bad, a negative, a detriment to whatever spiritual course a person claims.
Now, within Christianity, what of it? Is Christianity in any way linked to salvation? What traditions still say that you reject Christ at your own peril? Which ones put everything - including those precious seamless garment, social justice issues - as merely means to help people achieve the ultimate end of eternal salvation?
I'm not seeing many. Outside of your usual fundamentalist types, most seem to have broadened the meaning of faith and religion to more or less be anything for anyone. Even if they don't say it that way, it appears there is no real 'umph' behind getting people to confess Christ, or enter this or that tradition, lest their eternal destinies be compromised.
Most I see, in and out of Catholicism - and that includes Orthodoxy in many cases - have the 'Jesus is just alright, but whatever, be a swell person' and that's that. Others go more radical, with a sort of 'Love Jesus, hate Jesus, piss on Jesus, it matters not' attitude. In those cases, what matters is being a swell person, especially as defined by the latest today (which increasingly means accepting progressive and politically Left narratives and policies and values).
But even among those who don't go so far in aligning the Faith's promises to modern progressive ideals, you don't have that sense of urgency anymore. In Protestant and Evangelical churches alike, even some Orthodox - we won't even discuss modern Catholicism - they seem to have taken the 'you never know who God will save' exception and made it the rule.
I just don't hear it mentioned, talked about, or referenced in sermons I've heard. I just don't. Kudos to the priest of our Orthodox church in that he at least points out there are eternal consequences to our lives and decisions. Though he most often couches it with some version of 'but you never know what happens if you don't believe' qualifier. That's a bit, to my ears, like saying while smoking is clearly not good for you, it's a fact that some will smoke their whole lives and never be hurt by it, so let's focus on those exceptions.
So I wonder, how many people believe that religion or faith in general has any bearing on our eternal destinies? How many think much about eternity at all anymore? Heck, how many think eternity has any bearing on reality at all? And I'm talking those who show up every Sunday and sit in the pews of traditions that, at least as of now, have on their books that these things are inherently connected and are of the utmost, primary importance.
Personally, I don't think we'll see the pews filled again until the answer to the question is yes, your religion and confession of religious faith are crucial for the most important thing in all of Creation, and that's your eternal destiny. Food, water, oxygen and even sex have their place, but don't be fooled. There is an eternal destiny that dwarfs our brief moment on this plane, and if you gain all of those things but lose your soul, you've lost it all. Until we say it, believe it, and mean it, and connect it to what we say and where we are on a Sunday morning, I foresee emptier and emptier churches in the future.