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Soteriological Vacuum

Soteriological Vacuum

April 12, 2020 · C.E. Carter

The archetype of salvation, that is, of rebirth, regeneration, deliverance from evil, transcendence, etc. is a ubiquitous element of every culture regardless of its religious background. Some men seek this salvation through works, and strive to align their behavior with some moral code expounded in a religious text. Others seek to transcend themselves through meditation or spiritual awakening. Still others will devote their lives and their intellects to sociopolitical advancement, such as neo-conservatism, communism, socialism, environmentalism, imperialism, or anarchism. Many seek salvation through intellectual and moral fulfillment, or the acquisition of power, or romance, or sensual pleasure, though they would not say that they are seeking such things. Even the most ardent rock-ribbed atheists describe conversion to atheism using soteriological language. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, grants Neo-Darwinian Evolution religious sanctity when he says, “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. His contemporary Neil DeGrasse Tyson, well-known evangelist of scientism and a staunch skeptic of theism, proclaims the wonders of the cosmological origins of matter with something more akin to religious zeal than scientific curiosity when he says, “I know that the molecules in my body are traceable to phenomena in the cosmos. That makes me want to grab people on the street and say: ‘Have you HEARD THIS?’”. In a similar manner to Aristotle’s deduction that nature abhors a vacuum, so mankind abhors a soteriological void.

Every manner that man has designed to fill this void is founded on the ability of man to regenerate himself, by means of adherance to an external standard. For those who place their hope in spiritual awakening, the quality of their meditations measured against their tranquility and profundity. For the political advocate, the standard is the quality and nature of activism. For the intellectual, the standard is the extent and the rigor of scholasticism. For those who believe that God will save them because they are a good person, the standard is themselves.

For the Christian, the standard is impossible to attain: absolute moral perfection according to God’s Law, in word, deed, and thought. Our Gospel does not offer mankind a salvation that we play any part in, apart from the sin which we contributed to necessitate our need for it. Unlike every other religion of the world, Christianity divorces the means of salvation from the standard of salvation. What Christianity offers to our afflicted consciences is not moralism, but a man who claimed to be God, who was tortured and hung on a cross, and who rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. It confounds the intelligence of the philosophers by trading discourse and principle for eternal communion with an eternal Person. It exhausts the efforts of the moralists and cuts them at the knees in their pride by demanding profound and total purity, at all times and in all places and in all circumstances. The sin of man and Jesus’ claims to divinity enumerated in Biblical Scripture to not allow an intellectually honest person to conclude that Christianity can be reduced to moralism, or that Jesus was a merely a wise teacher of ethics, or that his death was merely a symbolic act, or that his resurrection was a manufactured legend like the story of the Phoenix. If you believe the Bible, you have no room for these conclusions. You must either reject the whole thing as the ramblings of insanity, and conclude that the man Jesus of Nazareth was the most despicable lunatic who ever walked the face of the earth, or you must accept it in its entirety as truth, turn from your ways, and worship Jesus as the God he claims to be.