Grace Emerges

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Peace Theology: Jesus' Teaching on Salvation

If you're in for a good long article, this is amazing.  Obviously knowledgeable but also easy to follow.  Many of my previously stated thoughts on salvation are echoed here, and quite a few more..

Peace Theology: Jesus' Teaching on Salvation

Ted Grimsrud—London, 9/09
The story told in the gospels places itself squarely in the heart of the traditions of Israel.  Jesus presents himself in this story as embodying the promises of Yahweh to his forebears—from Abraham and Sarah on down through Moses, Elijah, and the later prophets.  So, contrary to soteriologies that follow the logic of retribution, for Jesus the Old Testament’s salvation story remains fully valid.  He does not tell a different story, but proclaims the truth of the old story.
The stories of Jesus’ birth make clear the continuity of the story of Jesus with the story of the Old Testament. The angel Gabriel speaks to Mary, telling her she will bear a son to be named Jesus. He will be called “Son of the Most High,” echoing language used of Israel’s kings, and will, in fact, receive the throne of David.  Jesus “will reign over the house of Jacob forever.”  Mary’s song of response, the Magnificat, teams with allusions to the Old Testament salvation story.  Mary’s words echo those of Hannah, the mother of the great prophet and judge, Samuel. In speaking of God exalting the lowly and scattering the proud, she repeats images from the Exodus and numerous of the Psalms.
Mary concludes by making the connection explicit: “The Lord has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”  Salvation here, as with the Old Testament story, is an act of God’s pure mercy, given strictly as a gift in continuity with God’s call of Abraham. The salvation Jesus brings is of a piece with the salvation Yahweh brought of old.
There is no hint here that something has to happen to God to make salvation possible. Godinitiates reconciliation.  God unilaterally declares that salvation has come and is available to all with ears to hear the good news.  The birth of Jesus is not presented as in any way linked with the logic of retribution.  The birth story contains no hints of a new approach to satisfy God’s aggrieved holiness or to balance the scales of justice with ultimate innocent sacrifice.  The story points only to God’s initiating mercy and forgiveness.

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