Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Salvation (Kathleen Norris)

In her book Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, Kathleen Norris tells of a conversation with a friend who had been on a destructive path when suddenly he realized he was over his head and needed to get out. Here's how she connected his experience to the concept of salvation...what do you think of what she has to say?

"The Hebrew word for 'salvation' means literally 'to make wide,' or 'to make sufficient,' and our friend had recognized that the road he had taken was not wide enough to sustain his life; it was sufficient only as a way leading to death. I was glad to learn from The Oxford Companion to the Bible that 'the primary meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words translated "salvation" is non-religious.' The Hebrew words usually come from a military context, and refer to victory over evil or rescue from danger in this life. And in the gospels it is often physical healing that people seek from Jesus, relief from blindness, paralysis, leprosy. When he says to them that their faith has saved them, it is the Greek word for 'made you well' that is employed. It seems right to me that in so many instances in both the Hebrew scriptures and the gospels salvation is described in physical terms, in terms of the here and now, because I believe that this is how most of us first experience it. Only later do the more spiritual implications of salvation begin to make themselves known."

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

While I agree generally, I can see how Norris's description can get people into knots as it is very ties to the physical...maybe the physical well-being, which is (in Borg's view, which I'm closer to) is connected with the more important ideas of liberation, return from exile, and moving from injustice to justice.

The part I struggle with has to do with rectifying the use of the word in my past (salvation => heaven/afterlife). What were some of the readings that folks had on that part, I wonder? Were they worried/concerned (as I was) about the what some describe as a "missing product" of our faith if we remove the afterlife portion of salvation? Or do they see (as I think I do) the transformational aspects of salvation on a personal and world/Kingdom level the path to
whatever exactly happens next?