Salvation in the Bible vs. Salvation in the Church

Terence E. Fretheim

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 10/1/1993

Issue: Biblical Interpretation for Christian Ministry (Vol. 13, No 4, Fall, 1993)

Have you been saved? This question of street evangelists is often ridiculed, but by and large the church has accepted the spiritualized understanding of salvation implied in the question. In light of such views, Ted Peters recently claimed: “We need to reopen discussion on the nature of salvation.”1 This response explores some Old Testament dimensions of the theme, links them to the New Testament, and draws some implications for ministry. We live in a salvation-hungry world. Salvation language abounds on bumper stickers (and elsewhere): save the whales; save the planet; save our cities; condoms save lives. Or, note the interest in holistic health and the integration of physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of life; the language of salvation, commonly defined as a making-whole, often appears in such discussions. Or, closer to home, some (many?) Christians perceive that the church’s idea of salvation is private and disembodied, only indirectly related to life outside of the vertical relationship with God. Can biblical views of salvation connect with these modern concerns?

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