Resurrection and the Nature of Salvation
We have been thinking about the resurrection of late -- both that of Jesus and more generally. Resurrection fits in with other related issues, including judgment and salvation. I'll leave off the discussion of judgment for the moment, except to say that in one form or another judgment does take place. But more to the point of salvation.
In today's study groups, we'll be looking at N.T. Wright's consideration of the "Hope of Salvation." In that context we must ask what salvation entails? Does it mean, being pulled off the earth to live in some "heavenly estate," most likely disembodied - a sort of Caspar the Friendly Ghost? For our discussion, I'd like to throw out a statement from Wright's book Surprised By Hope.
As long as we see salvation in terms of going to heaven when we die, the main work of the church is bound to be seen in terms of saving souls for that future. But when we see salvation, as the New Testament sees it, in terms of God's promised new heavens and new earth and of our promised resurrection to share in that new and gloriously embodied reality -- what I have called life after life after death -- then the main work of the church here and now demands to be rethought in consequence. (Surprised by Hope, p. 197)
So, the question is -- how does our view of salvation impact our view of life before death?
Wright notes that the New Testament understanding of salvation starts with life here and now. We enjoy it partially, but it is there for us to experience and live out. As Wright ruminates about salvation, I'm reminded of the Disciples of Christ identity statement: "A Movement of Wholeness in a Fragmented World." What we do and say, the invitation we give, is a means to bring wholeness/healing/salvation to a world that is broken and fragmented. We do not bring this in its fullness, but we work toward it.
For the first Christians, the ultimate salvation was all about God's new world, and the point of what Jesus and the apostles were doing when they were healing people or being rescued from shipwreck or whatever was that this was a proper anticipation of that ultimate salvation, that healing transformation of space, time, and matter. The future rescue that God had planned and promised was starting to come true in the present. We are saved not as souls but as wholes. (pp. 198-199).
Wholeness for a fragmented world -- salvation!