Friday, September 25, 2009

Are You Saved?

Few questions create more terror in the hearts of Episcopalians than this one. It's even scarier than alluding to - much less openly talking about - the "E" word (Evangelism).

And yet, few questions get closer to the heart of what the Christian faith is really all about. And even fewer questions have been so distorted by the individualism and neo-gnosticism of the pat answers offered in response that I've heard most of my life in the heart of the ultra-Protestant, Southern Bible-belt.

When this topic has come up, I've seen and heard Episcopalians struggle mightily with how to respond. They know they don't want to go for the judgmentalism and condemnation that some of them have fled from. But they often aren't sure what to positively affirm. And so, all too often, I hear language about "being on a journey" with absolutely no idea about why we're on it, why we'd want to be on it (much less why we'd invite others to join us), or where we're heading.

All the more reason for why I love this video in which an Orthodox Christian responds to the question, "Are you saved?" According to the information at YouTube, "Text is written and read by Molly Sabourin, a freelance writer focusing on issues of family, faith, and community." She answers the question in three interconnected ways:

  • I was originally saved over 2,000 years ago ...
  • I am being saved, daily, ...
  • I will, Lord have mercy, be saved, at the great and final judgment ...

Would that more Episcopalians could be so confident and articulate.

Watch it all:


10 comments:

Bill Carroll said...

At Sewanee, Bob Hughes taught us that if we were asked when we were saved, we were to answer "33 A.D."

If anyone asks if we're born again, we are to answer "Yes, I'm baptized."

I like the girl's answer because it also includes ongoing sanctification.

Bryan Owen said...

Yes, that sounds exactly like the sort of thing that Bob would say!

I like the way this woman's answer encompasses past, present, and future. It mirrors our affirmation of the mystery of faith as something that encompasses all of time, and ultimately all of creation.

The Postulant said...

It's funny. I have this conversation with my evangelical students all the time, and they really don't like it when I say that Scripture speaks of salvation as accomplished (by Christ on the Cross) and as continuing ("those who are being saved") and as eschatological (at the last day). But I well remember how, when I was growing up just a hair north of where you are, we talked about salvation as a once-for-all change-of-state in the life of an individual -- and then when we saw the word 'saved' in Scripture, we packed our understanding of salvation into it and just couldn't see anything else.

Bryan Owen said...

That's an interesting observation. Any thoughts on why they respond that way to a more biblically and historically grounded understanding of salvation?

BillyD said...

In Texas, where I'm from, this is a common question. At UT-Austin we had sidewalk evangelists standing at the campus boundary screaming the good news at passers-by, and asking about our born-again status. The Episcopal chaplain at that time(the Rev. Chris Hines) advised us, when asked if we were saved, to answer, "Yes." If pressed for the time and circumstances (not uncommon follow-up questions) we were to respond, "On a hillside outside of Jerusalem in AD 33."

I love this video, and think her fuller answer is beautifully stated.

BillyD said...

Oh, but cut your fellow Episcopalians some slack. :-) I doubt even most Orthodox could give this confident and articulate response, either. Would that more Christians, period, could give this account of our Christian assurance and hope.

Bryan Owen said...

Well said, BillyD.

Jerry S said...

While I appreciate this article and the accompanying video, I can also relate with the previous comment referring to the "once-for-all change-of-state in the life of an individual." This disparity between the "catholic" and "evangelical" (to coin the common usages) interpretations has often given me trouble in my own journey. I can't help thinking that the answer lies somewhere in the middle, being not an either/or proposition, but one of both/and. The two are not mutually exclusive ideas, but necessarily dependent.

Thanks for your good work,
Jerry

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

If salvation is in large part God's work for the world, and the reason for the Incarnation (Jn 3:16), and if God never ceases working (Jn 5:17) and "was, and is, and is to come" (Rev 4:8) then it is entirely fitting that we should experience salvation in this threefold symmetry. Beata Sancta Trinitas!

George said...

http://searchthequiet.blogspot.com/2010/03/of-journey.html