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Salvation Theology 102: Problem & Solution

Updated: May 3

Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Jr, an award-wining theologian and historian has created two mini-courses on Salvation Theology, Salvation Theology 101 and Salvation Theology 102. Below is an excerpt from Salvation Theology 102 a mini course created to help us better understand salvation, one of the great themes of the Bible.


Salvation is the heart of the Christian Story as revealed in the Bible and celebrated in church every Sunday morning.

Salvation Theology Mini Course by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

It is not, to be sure, the objective of the Christian religion. It is not enough to be saved, and it is not quite true to say that the point of Christianity is to get people saved.


It is a very great thing to be saved. But to be saved from something is also to be saved for something: for some normal or, even better, some desirable state.


The telos, the purpose, the outcome of the Christian Way is shalom. This rich Hebrew word means flourishing, and on a universal scale.


Each individual becomes his or her or its best self. Each relationship among individuals becomes healthy and joyful. Each cooperative venture and each community functions with competence, vision, and good fellowship.  We even enjoy fellowship with our competitors, with whom we compete as teammates push each other in practice to perform better—and we later go out together for celebratory conviviality.


All of these humans and all of these human relationships flourish in concert with the flourishing of the rest of creation, with each ecosystem now optimized for every inhabitant. Above and in all, everyone and everything relates well to God in adoration, thanksgiving, and companionship according to each kind. Shalom is global flourishing.


That is the vision of the era to come glimpsed by prophets in both Biblical testaments and sketched in just a little more detail in the last two chapters of Revelation. A revitalized and refreshed planet—a new earth—is crowned by a new capital city, the New Jerusalem, which comes down from heaven as a divine gift. It is the city of God, in which the Most High graciously deigns to dwell among God’s creatures in mutual love.


This new era of shalom is what the John the Evangelist calls “eternal life”—or, to translate that phrase, zōē aiōnion, the other way: the life of the age to come.


It is obvious, of course, that we do not enjoy global flourishing here and now. There are many reasons why we don’t, but the main Christian explanation for what’s wrong with the world is sin.


Our main problem is not primarily intellectual or technological: that we don’t know enough, or rightly. The problem is not primarily aesthetic: that we are polluted and corrupt our world into ugliness. The problem is not primarily motivational: that we are lazy, of frightened, or distracted. Our main problem is moral and relational: that we don’t want the good, or God, and prefer to go our own way.


The problem consists of three elements.


(Immediately, we encounter the meta-theme of this series—namely, that salvation is quite complex because the problem from which we need to be saved is neither single nor simple. Christian depictions of sin and salvation, therefore, must be appropriately complex or risk misdiagnosing the problem and thus administering solutions that are partial at best and harmful at worst.


Einstein is said to have said, “Simplify as far as possible—but no farther.” That wisdom will be our methodological guideline here, as it is throughout ThinkBetter Media. We dare not leave out anything important nor include anything merely secondary in discussing this great subject.)


After this mini course, you will understand sins, sin, and immaturity, the three interconnected problems that keep us from enjoying shalom in the present age, the manifold of God’s salvation economy—that is, the many elements of God’s complete plan of salvation—and what we must do to enjoy and actualize all that God intends for us and our world.


Salvation is the great theme of the Bible. Let’s think better about it.

To enroll in the Mini-Course, please click here.


 Mini Courses 


Understand key ideas in important Christian theology, ethics, and history in 30 minutes (or less!) in ThinkBetter Media's mini-courses, created by award-winning theologian and historian Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Jr. 

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