We Believe: Salvation Received & Zoeology

I’m going to combine two weeks into one post because I don’t have a lot to add to either.

Salvation Received

In week 6 of our We Believe series, Bruxy continuing talking about soteriology, moving from the objective (salvation achieved) to the subjective aspect (salvation received).

Lots of Isms

Lots of moderately-important thoughts about monergism vs synergism, breaking that down a little more into Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian, Semi-Augustinian (or Arminian), or Augustinian (Calvinist).  This might actually be the first time I’ve heard Semi-Pelagian differentiated from Semi-Augustinian. I guess I would be a Semi-Augustinian – the initiative is God’s – but I could probably go either way depending on exactly how you word it.

Legal Salvation

Even more importantly, Bruxy busts down the false lines between justification and sanctification (made to look more like Jesus). This one actually bugged me for a few years. I always got the answer from evangelicals that because you were saved, you should just want to be sanctified as a thank you. There was never any real reason to actually follow Jesus, though, when all that matters is being sure you were going to Heaven which had nothing to do with that. This typically results in one of two directions: either you don’t bother talking about what it looks like to follow Jesus, or you end up back to earning salvation through following the right rules (which could be social ethics, personal ethics, religious ritual, doctrine, or other categories). It was never completely satisfying to me.

Slowly, I found those lines blurring so that you can’t really have one without the other, but I was still stuck seeing Christianity predominately as a legal transaction. Greg Boyd’s work has gone a long way to dismantle that for me. Like Bruxy hints at, we need to completely scrap the legal framework for justification and for Christianity as a whole. Instead, we have a relational covenantal discipleship. Paul does use some legal analogies, which I think get vastly misused after John Calvin (non-coincidentally a lawyer) got a hold of them, but it makes more sense to understand his language through Jesus’ than the other way around.

How does Jesus summarize his call? “Follow me.” Be with Jesus. Hang out with Jesus. Get to know Jesus. Emulate Jesus. Do all of this in a community of others similarly seeking to follow him. This is our call. As Bruxy has put it before, we choose Jesus as Lord and we get him as Saviour as part of the package.

I really have no interest in finding the line for who is going to Heaven and who is not. I think that is completely missing the point. Bruxy talks about the “order of salvation,” which to me is useful inasmuch as it helps us remember that Christianity can’t be boiled down to a legal transaction but not helpful when it becomes its own legal process. Fascinatingly, this legal approach is a distinctly Western approach. The Eastern Church, without the Roman legal system as a foundational framework, never really went as far with this. This does not mean that God is not just, but we do not need to limit God’s justice to Heaven vs Hell retribution.

Zoeology

In Week 7, we had Jarrod McKenna as a guest speaker.

I was definitely tearing up by the end of that one. Obviously it is much less intellectual than the other topics, but the introductory comments are very good ones, too, distinguishing between the Greek impulse to boil everything down to one point vs the Hebrew impulse toward stories and dialogue around the mystery of God. It doesn’t mean that the Greek impulse is completely wrong, but by itself we do miss out on a lot.

Near the end of the Drive Home, Bruxy does open up the conversation to be a bit more ecumenical and this part I found very important. He talked about Pentecostal zoeology, emphasizing personal experience with the Spirit; sacramental zoeology, emphasizing ritual in the community; evangelical zoeology, emphasizing telling others about Jesus; and liberation zoeology, emphasizing social justice. Most of the time was spent on sacramental and Bruxy did a pretty good job talking about Catholic theology in general and how they understand the Church and sacraments differently than Anabaptists. He also spent some time giving credit to liberation theology, which was refreshing to me because he really tends to stick close to white, male, and Anabaptist/evangelical sources. These are two areas that I do definitely miss in The Meeting House and I would love to see more of them integrated to teaching and other practice. The other two were mostly glossed over probably just because he clearly draws on them much more often in his teaching.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.