Is salvation really free?

Marlene Winell makes a very interesting point today on the Debunking Christianity blog:

I’ve thought that there is a fundamental contradiction in the evangelical message of salvation because, according to them, it is NOT Christ’s atoning death that saves you, it is YOUR BELIEF in it. (otherwise everyone would be saved). Therefore, this is not a salvation by grace, it is another salvation by works, albeit cognitive work. You must DO several things – find out about and understand the atonement, accept that Jesus dies for your sins, feel guilt and express your sorrow for being responsible, ask forgiveness, and invite Jesus “into your heart” to rule for the rest of your life.

I’ve wandered a bit from my initial point, which was that this doctrine is a salvation by works, ie, it is the accomplishment of the believer. Maybe that is why fundamentalists are so smug.

Sometimes non-Christians are quite good at picking up on theological inconsistancies.

What are your thoughts?

A Knight’s Tale: A Parable of Justification

Here’s a short excerpt from the book I am writing:

Possibly the best illustration of this aspect of justification is in the 2001 film A Knight’s Tale, starring Heath Ledger as William, a thatcher’s son who takes on the totally fictitious persona of Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein so he can participate in jousting tournaments, which are limited to proven nobility.  He makes it to the finals, only to have his identity revealed by his nemesis, the evil Count Adhemar. Following the revelation of “Ulrich’s” true identity, William is arrested and put into the stocks, as he should have been; he was, after all, guilty of fraud.  He knows, and accepts this.

Suddenly, Prince Edward (son of the King, the Prince of Wales), steps out from the crowd to proclaim that per his personal historians, William is indeed descended “from an ancient noble line,” and is then, a nobleman.  If this weren’t enough, Edward adds, “This is my word, and as such, is beyond contestation.”  He then proceeds to knight William under his real name: Sir William Thatcher.

Like William, we are frauds, guilty under the Law, and deserving of punishment.  Our accuser reminds us of that daily. However, here’s the kicker:  Jesus, our Prince, makes this proclamation: “You are noble. You are a child of the King. This is my word, and as such, is beyond contestation.”  If anyone but Prince Edward (except for his father, the King) had made such a proclamation, William would have continued to live in doubt and fear. However, by the Prince’s declaration, even William himself couldn’t contest his nobility.  This is our case as well.  Jesus has proclaimed our justification, our freedom and our nobility, and we ourselves do not have the right to contest it!

We are free before the Law. Not only that – we’ve been adopted into the King’s family, and “knighted” (sealed with the Holy Spirit and attested to in baptism) as proof. The Law has been satisfied, we are declared righteous, we are made royalty, and it has all been done in the open, in sight of our accuser.  (c) Copyright 2009 Alden Swan, all rights reserved

Justification is the crux of Christianity, although most Christians don’t understand the concept whatsoever.  For more on the subject, you can read here and here.

Salvation, from varying points of view

Every once in a while the internet monk posts a question and has people from different theological backgrounds present their position. The current question is, “When were you saved?” It’s quite interesting. My favorite line is from Roman Catholic Alan Creech, who has possibly the best sense of humor: “Oh, I’m not saved yet – the whole God, Jesus thing kinda weirds me out still.” He was joking.