Understanding Salvation 2: A Commentary

A commentary on J. Aagard's article "Exclusiveness and Inclusiveness Examined From the Point of View of Mission Theology" (Aarhus, Denmark 1999 pp.1-10).

The issue of 'salvation and who has it' has existed for so long and is still a problem today. Misconception of what the term salvation authentically might mean became a robust lie and a flaw that created a profound split between two positions we now call 'exclusivists' and 'inclusivists.' For centuries, the issue of who holds the truth became a popular wafare.

The fact that the consequences of this issue in history have become oppressive and unjust must sadden, pain and challenge us. After reading the argument that Aagard brought to the fore in his article, I am more convinced that we are faced with an enormous task that must be taken seriously. It is a task that neccessitates our careful rethinking, understanding and study. More imortantly, it should take into account not only the piece and parcel of the story but also the whole of its emergence and becoming in history.

If God allows the rain to fall and the sun to shine to the whole of creation, so is salvation. The God revealed to us by Jesus is a God of history who reaches to people and all creation. When we look at the Gospel, Jesus' becoming, life and ministry in history reveal a God who wants to be one with all of us. However, the truth and the message of the Bible [particularly the Gospel] have suffered much injustice for being understood and interpreted to suffice prejudices and use as a measure to gain power and superiority. Reading and interpreting the Bible that way no longer make known the God whom Jesus revealed to us.

We must go back to the core of our faith and salvation history. We must never forget that there is no such thing as timeless truth. The truth we believe, the faith we profess, the life we live has a history, a context and we must not abolish them or we shall become persons without roots and foundation who bring only our own messages and self-interests. When we read the Bible, we must not neglect the context it came from and the truth that everything in it is a story of faith and freedom which includes ALL - all peoples, all nations, all creation.

Aagard's idea which says,"There is salvation outside the church but not outside the truth." captured my attention. Indeed, our faith regardless of our own particular religious and cultural backgrounds are imbued with one and the same truth. The truth of the Ultimate Reality which we Christians call God. I believe that the Truth who lives us and how we authentically live as human beings determine how we will be saved.

True mission therefore, is not converting people to what we believe and make them follow our own particular expression of faith. True mission "consists in accepting people, in neighbourly existence, as co-workers in peace and justice." It is guiding people who desire to know and live the truth in and through a multitude of contexts and expressions based on and springing from their own reality. True mission liberates rather than discriminate or oppress the other. It calls for repentance and conversion in a very respectful and genuine fashion of communication to all of humanity. It is like Jesus who opened wide his arms in a charming and powerful embrace of the crucified world to bring life and lovingly lift it up to Himself and to the God Who saves.