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Salvation means being saved from suffering of some kind. The study of salvation is called soteriology. Salvation is an important concept in several religions. Christianity regards salvation as deliverance from bondage to sin.
Christian views of salvation
Salvation is arguably the most important Christian spiritual concept, second only to the divinity of Jesus.
For many Christians, the primary goal of religion is to attain salvation. (Others maintain that the primary goal of Christians is to do the will of God, or that the two are equivalent.) In many traditions, attaining salvation is synonymous with going to heaven after death, while some traditions place a stronger emphasis on the belief that salvation represents a changed life while on Earth. Many elements of Christian theology explain why salvation is needed and how to attain it.
The existence of salvation is contingent upon there being some sort of unsaved state from which the individual (or mankind) is to be redeemed. To most Protestant and Catholic Christians, this is the state of original sin, inherited from the Fall of Adam and Eve. The Orthodox churches view salvation as a ladder of spiritual improvement and healing of a human nature that was damaged or injured in the Fall. Most Christians believe that humanity was created sinless, but after the Fall, needed a Savior to restore us into a right relationship with God. This Savior redeemed people from sin, and Jesus was (and is) this Savior.
Western Christianity: Protestantism
In Western Christianity the doctrine of salvation, or soteriology, falls roughly into two points of view - Calvinism and Arminianism, though there are numerous variations within and in between these two "extremes" (including, but not limited to Amyraldism and Pelagianism). Calvinism follows the teachings of Augustine and John Calvin emphasizing total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints. Arminianism, named for Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius, teaches general depravity, conditional election, general atonement (reconciliation), free will, and apostasy. Topics such as atonement, election, regeneration, are all components of what most theologians consider salvation.
Among evangelical Christians, salvation means that all have sinned and atonement or reconciliation with God is possible for anyone through Jesus Christ by 1.) confession of sin and 2.) acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. The consequence of salvation is that the sinner's sins are forgiven and he/she is born again as a new person, a Christian, a believer, a child of God, and is sealed with the Holy Spirit.
A third point of view, universal salvation, became popular especially in the United States starting during the Second Great Awakening. This point of view states that all people, regardless of creed or belief, will eventually be saved and go to heaven, and is the central theme of Universalism and Unitarianism. In more colloquial terms it is often stated as "God is too loving to damn anyone". Many Christians find this view to be heretical because it implies that non-Christian religions can be correct, and that there may be paths to salvation other than through the grace of Christ.
Western Christianity: Roman Catholicism
Catholic views of Catholicism differ significantly from the Protestant views outlined above. See Salvation in Catholicism for a fuller discussion. In particular, the Catholic Church teaches that salvation can be lost through sin, whereas Protestants tend to believe that so long as one still has faith, one is saved, even if one sins. Catholics also believe that salvation is initially gained, and once lost through sin regained, by means of the sacraments, whereas Protestants tend to believe that faith is all that is necessary, not sacraments.
Eastern Christianity was much less influenced by Augustine, and even less so by either Calvin or Arminius. Consequently, it doesn't just have different answers but asks different questions; it generally views salvation in less legalistic terms (grace, punishment, and so on) and in more medical terms (sickness, healing etc.), and with less exacting precision. Instead, it views salvation more along the lines of theosis, a concept that has been developed over the centuries by many different Eastern Orthodox Christians.
New Testament passages
For Christians, the Biblical approach to salvation begins in the Scriptures of the New Testament. Many of these texts are found in the Epistle to the Romans, largely because that Epistle contains the most comprehensive theological statement by Saint Paul of Tarsus. Because of this, some Protestant Christian denominations have called these texts the Romans road.
Some key passages in the New Testament concerning salvation include:
- God loves you: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. " (Romans 5:8)
- Our sin separates us from God. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"(Romans 3:23) "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12)
- God gives us eternal life because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
- Turn from your sins, confess and believe: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." — "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13)
- We are saved by God's grace: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Four Noble Truths outline the essentials of Buddhist soteriology. Suffering (dukkha) is treated as a disease, which can be cured by understanding its causes and by following the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path includes morality and meditation. The means of achieving liberation are further developed in other Buddhist teachings. They are expressed in very different terms by Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhists.
In Stregheria self-salvation is achieved by renouncing one's allegence to The Three Devils (God the Father, Jesus Christ, and Mary), and accepting Aradia de Toscano as the "savior" who came to offer freedom through Witchcraft to the poor and oppressed in a Christian-dominated society. However it should be noted that "salvation" is not considered here a singular event (and as such the word "salvation" itself is typically avoided), but an ongoing process through which an individual seeks to save or liberate himself or herself from the Oppressors (the ruling, mostly Christian, upper-class). Ultimately, Aradia is a teacher or guide, with each person being his or her own (potential) savior.
- Compare: moksha
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