Saturday, May 05, 2012

Article 18: Who can be Saved?

Okay, everyone exhale. Today's article is the last in the Articles of Religion's section on purely doctrinal matters. The next section won't make your head hurt nearly as much because it is about the Church, its Sacraments, and Ministers, but we will get to that tomorrow. For today, this article talks solely about how Salvation is attained. 


XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.


Basically, this is the Easter proclamation. Salvation comes from Christ and Christ alone. We do not receive salvation by blinding following the Law of Moses or whether we belong to this or that religious sect. Salvation comes only from belonging to Christ. 


In a pluralistic society that likes to believe that all paths lead to God and that basically only people like Hitler won't be saved, this proclamation of Christ does not tend to sit well. The "coffee hour" question the priest gets is always something along the lines of, "Well, whatever my uncle who's a Hindu? Will he go to heaven?"


One will notice in this article a sense of vague finality. People can only be saved through Christ, but that does not mean that non-Christians have no hope. As Anglicans, we can say clearly and firmly that people of other religions, and those of no religion, might indeed be saved. We can’t say if any particular individual will or won’t be saved. That’s God’s call, not ours.

We trust in God's love and mercy, which is great. We believe in the possibility that any person might be saved- no exceptions. Like us, non-believers will be judged by God on how they lived their lives. Everyone has a conscience; everyone has a God-given sense of what’s fundamentally right and wrong. (See the first two chapters of Romans) And other religions often have, from our perspective, at least a partial grasp of the truth.

Nevertheless, this is not to say that people of other religions are saved because of their religion. The salvation of any human being- regardless of their beliefs- is possible ONLY through the death and resurrection of the only Son of God, Jesus the Christ. The price Jesus paid for sin encompasses all of humanity: past, present, and future. This makes it possible for anyone to be saved. But only, as this article insists, "in the name of Jesus."

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