Most Christian traditions have some grey areas concerning salvation. There is an age of accountability, the wonders of general revelation when a person doesn’t have the gospel, and the difference between being saved OT or NT style. Some believe that purgatory still exists. Some believe once saved, always saved. Some believe salvation can be lost. Some think it can be worked for or at least that one must manifest fruits if they are ‘truly” saved. But let’s also add the complications from those looking from the outside in. What about conflicting ideas about what qualifies and disqualifies one from Heaven? I’ve asked this questions many times, but haven’t been thorough enough, I think. This time I’ll try to make the conversation deeper and more complex by diving into the greyer aspects of this faith tradition. Maybe then we can have a really in depth discussion about implications. What does the salvation we believe in say about our God? What does it say about free will? And what about personal responsibility?
Age of Accountability: Many Christian denominations have the idea that a child will go to Heaven if they die before they reach an age that is capable of understanding and actually comprehending how to accept Jesus. Even though the Christian tradition clearly teaches that not a single one of us is innocent and we are born sinners, it is still held. This age of accountability can also cover those who never reach the mental capacity to be able to understand the concept of salvation such as those with intellectual disabilities. I believe that we have made this exception because the implications of God who rejects those incapable of comprehending are too ghastly to imagine. But is it right?
Are we really born sinners then or do we become sinners? What is the true nature of sin if we hold this belief to be true? I think that the implications are clear. Either we believe we are not born sinners, God doesn’t mind our sin before we reach an age of knowledge, or we don’t sin until we are capable of comprehending right from wrong. I personally, believe the last one. “To him who knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin.” The reverse of which being: to him who doesn’t know that it’s wrong and does it, to him it’s not sin.
But is that the end of the age of accountability discussion? I don’t think so. What about the distant tribes or people raised with no knowledge of Jesus to accept or reject? Have they, in God’s eyes reached the age of accountability? Or is this where the scale of accountability based on revelation comes in? What kind of God are we implying by assuming that those who have not heard, but could mentally comprehend are or are not damned? Does God judge them differently?
Scale of Revelation for Accountability Sake: There are many different kinds of revelation. It is my belief that we must have experienced one or more of these revelations to reach a “saving knowledge of Jesus.” But it is also my belief that it is not necessary to know every detail as we parrot in most churches ie. Jesus died, was buried, and rose again the third day and He will return to rule the world. I think we are accountable for what we have been given or could have found out. But what do you think? Could general revelation (a man in a tribe who has never/will never heard the name of Jesus and knows nothing of the Bible looks around and knows that God is manifest all around him and believes on this God) be enough? Consider the implications if not? What kind of God are we left with?Is special revelation enough assuming the person has no other concept of God and the details? Special revelation is God visiting a person via dreams, visions, or other miraculous ways.
Revelations and accountability are the tip of the iceberg in the gray matter of salvation doctrine. In the next post, I’m going to discuss verses on alternate ways to achieve or forfeit salvation. Do we cherry pick what verses we feel actually deal with salvation and disregard others? Did Jesus preach that there are more ways than one to get saved? And what does it mean in our current American political climate for our doctrine of salvation, especially concerning many verses in Matthew?
Next post in the series.