What is salvation?
The French language designates salvation as being the experience of being delivered from a danger, a threat, a peril that puts our life in danger. In the Old Testament, salvation is one of the words used to speak of the fundamental experience of deliverance, of liberation, of healing. “ Salvation is a story of relationship. It’s no longer being alone, knowing that God is with me, that I am not lost “, explains Christophe Pichon, lecturer in biblical exegesis and doctor in Catholic theology.
What are we freed from?
In Christian hope, through the sacrifice of Christ, man is saved from sin, from death, from that which prevents him from being faithful to the Word of God. “Genesis shows us that sin is breaking away from God. So to be saved from sin is to restore the relationship “, recalls Christophe Pichon. Jesuit and doctor of theology, Father Michel Fédou insists on the liberating aspect of salvation. “In the Gospel, this liberation can also be that of a physical evil. To blind Bartimaeus, Jesus said “Go, your faith has saved you”. It’s a way of talking about the deliverance of our soul. “ Salvation is a victory over death in all its forms, it is the proclamation of eternal life already inaugurated by Christ in his own resurrection.
How do the scriptures speak of salvation?
Salvation, announced by the prophets throughout the Old Testament, materializes with the death and resurrection of Christ, who offered to redeem mankind from their sin. “The very name of Jesus means ‘God saves’, explains Father Fédou. The entire New Testament emphasizes this intimate link between the presence of Jesus and salvation. “ The Gospels announce the salvation of the world in Jesus, beginning with the announcement to Joseph (Mt 1, 21). “Mary shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus; it is he who will save his people from their sins. “ During his public life, Jesus never ceases to announce this salvation and takes acts showing that liberation is already at work: healing, deliverance from the possessed, liberation from sins. “Often, salvation calls for a rereading, emphasizes Christophe Pichon. It is only afterwards that we discover that, in a difficult situation, we were not alone. The Gospel of Luke is tinted with this rereading, on the presence of Christ in a given situation. “
Has the meaning of salvation evolved over the centuries?
If the meaning of redemption remains the same over the centuries, the question “How to be saved” has animated theologians since the first centuries. “ The controversies began as early as the Ve century, between the British monk Pelagius and Saint Augustine, says Father Michel Fédou. Pelagius believed that you could save yourself with your own strength. Augustine reminded us that salvation is a gift, a grace given by God to human beings, and that human salvation has its source in the will of God. “
The question arises again during the Protestant Reformation in the XVIe century: Luther recalls that only the intervention of divine grace (“Sola gratia”) save the human soul. Catholics, agreeing on the principle of the divine initiative of salvation, insist on the freedom of the human being, the way in which he collaborates in salvation.
What part do we have in our salvation?
Thanks to ecumenical dialogue, the different Christian denominations have managed to agree on the affirmation that salvation comes from God. But faced with this gift, man is not passive. He is free to accept this offer of salvation. As Saint Augustine says, “ God created us without us but will not save us without us “. To grant salvation, the Father desires our consent. ” In the Gospel, when Jesus says to the paralytic “Arise and walk”, he is free to respond to Christ’s call and to stand up, or not. We can’t be saved in spite of ourselves “, insists Christophe Pichon.
If we are already saved, why do we still experience evil and sin?
If Jesus offered salvation to all men, that does not mean that evil does not continue its work. “ Christian faith is based on the hope that salvation has been offered but that it must unfold throughout human history. “, argues Michel Fédou, before giving the example of the relationship between master and slave in Pauline letters. “ Paul urges the master to have a charitable attitude towards its esclave, but it took centuries for slavery to be finally abolished. It takes the time of history for salvation to penetrate all dimensions of human experience. “ The fight against evil then continues until the end of time. “But Christians are assured that victory over evil is offered, for Jesus has conquered death. “, recalls the theologian.
Salvation, is it the assurance of Heaven?
In the history of the Church, different conceptions have clashed on the question of heaven and hell: according to Jansenius, there would be a predestination for certain human beings not to be saved – a position which was rejected by the ‘Church. Others claimed that everyone, without exception and whatever they did, would be saved. This conception was also rejected. The Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar sums up the thought of the Church on this subject: salvation is the object of hope for all. What is incumbent on Christians is not to say that some will be excluded from paradise or that everyone will arrive there; it is to hope that all will be saved. “ Because we are all called to salvation ”, recalls Christophe Pichon.
This is moreover less of a “thing” that we have than a relationship that is forged. And for Christophe Pichon, “In any relationship, there are ups and downs. I like the image of the broken thread that is repaired by tying a knot. With each knot, the thread becomes shorter, and the relationship closer. “