Thursday, June 25, 2009

Are You Saved?

This is an interesting response, from an Orthodox perspective, on how one approaches the Evangelical question, "Are you saved?" or "Have you been saved?" I found it fascinating. I'd love to hear your thoughts or push back.

HT: Fr. Stephen Freeman

more about "Are You Saved?", posted with vodpod


Fred said...

A strong and beautiful video. My push back to the question is this: being saved from what? what is the problem that salvation solves? The usual answer is to be saved from eternal damnation, which is all well and good. But what do I do with myself until then? Who will save my commute? Who will save a day spent telemarketing? Who will save me when I open my eyes and realize that work awaits?

Kevin Davis said...

Actually, a lot of pop evangelicalism only deals with the everyday (mundane) matters of work, relationships, finances, etc. This is epitomized with Joel Osteen, in its extreme form. He never mentions sin and condemnation, or Christ's substitutionary atonement. As such, he departs radically from classical evangelicalism. It's an over-reaction to the "get your ticket" soteriology that was/is to be found in far too many evangelical churches (but certainly not all).

Evangelicalism at its best is able to avoid these two extremes of forensic reductionism or sanctification reductionism. Too often, converts to Rome or the East suppose that either of these extremes is a necessary move for Protestant principles. I disagree but honestly recognize the problem.

Fred said...

Kevin - how great to see you over here. I really appreciate the light you shed on this matter. Now that I think about it, I haven't had anybody ask me if I was saved since early college. My main problem with the question itself is that it addresses the problem of salvation-angst that Luther had even to the point of cultivating fear now so that one would feel the need for salvation.

I don't know Joel Osteen well, but let me ask you: is this focus on the everyday a matter of salvation for him? In short, does Osteen address the question of how to save me when I'm bored or frustrated with the daily injustices of my circumstances. Is time redeemed, or is it just of a matter of acting Christian until Jesus gets back?

Kevin Davis said...

Osteen is representative of the prosperity gospel. It has nothing to do with salvation, except that you must be saved before you can start receiving God's material blessings. Osteen is actually even more extreme than this: he assumes that God's grace (=prosperity) is readily available to all who will just have faith, not in Christ and His sacrifice, but in God's will to provide. Osteen has done away with the whole "transaction" where the sinner confesses his sins and receives the perfect work of Christ. Propitiation and holiness are completely absent from this theology; instead, it is a generic therapeutic theism.

As for the "are you saved" question, I have the same problems with it as you do. It presupposes a level of catechesis that the average person does not have. The holiness of God and the imperfection of man are, to say the least, not part of the common assumptions of most people, and you cannot teach this in a five minute exchange in a mall (or on a campus) to a complete stranger. Most people become Christians in a slow, gradual process whereby they meet Christians, attend their worship services, discuss theological issues with Christian friends, and read a C. S. Lewis book (by recommendation of the aforementioned friends). In my Baptist church, we would go around neighborhoods and pass-out pamphlets for the church, inviting people to come on Sunday; we would volunteer at an inner-city children's home and invite people to church; we would even go to restaurants and invite the waiter to come to church. In other words, inviting people to become a part of a Christian community -- and the gradual process of such an integration -- is the norm for how Christians are made and churches are grown. And the Holy Spirit has something to do with it! :)

Fred said...

Thank you for this gracious response, Kevin!