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Evolutionary Spirituality

Salvation / Redemption

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Salvation / Redemption Edit

As our understanding of Reality expands and evolves, so, too, naturally and inevitably, will our understanding of the meaning and significance of salvation.

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Salvation is nothing that can be "believed in" or "not believed in." It simply is. What we call "salvation" is an integral part of the human experience.

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The "doctrine of salvation" is eternally true (true for everyone, everywhere, at all times). It has to do with each and every moment of existence. To relegate this important social-spiritual-psychological reality to the realm of time (someday, when I die) or space (elsewhere) is to deprive this central New Testament concept of much of its transforming power.

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To know the joy of reconciling when I've been estranged; to experience the ecstasy of forgiveness when I've been bound by guilt; to feel passion and energy when I've been sick; to see clearly when I have been spiritually blind; to be comforted when I've been grieving; to be empowered when I've been paralyzed with fear; to be inspired when I've been depressed; to let go when I've been attached; to accept the truth when I've been in denial; to be back on-purpose when I've been floundering — each of these is a precious face of salvation.

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The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation. Or, in the language of recovery, freedom is only possible when one is no longer in denial.

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Every generation must reinterpret the core elements of religious faith in light of the inner and outer realities of its time. In light of an evolutionary understanding of original sin, personal sin, and corporate sin, does it make sense to still insist that the path to salvation, the road to freedom, individually and collectively, runs through Jesus?

Absolutely!

At any given moment the only way we can move from alienation to wholeness, from denial to recovery, from bondage to freedom, or from guilt to empowerment, is through acceptance, courage, humility, transparency, self-responsibility, love, compassion, and commitment. (Do you know anyone who has embodied these attributes more perfectly than Jesus? Can you think of any time in your life when you were reconciled to someone or experienced freedom from addiction or suffering via any other path? Do you suppose that this is a mere coincidence?)

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It's not beliefs about Jesus that will save anyone. It's only faith in him that will do the job. The key to salvation is trusting that the values Jesus incarnated and taught really are our way into the future. It's the person of Jesus (who he was BEING, not merely stories about him) that becomes the difference that makes a difference. "Christian" originally meant "little Christ." When we think like Jesus, trust like Jesus, love like Jesus, and sacrifice for the whole like Jesus, we will know heaven even in the midst of all the chaos and crucifixions of life.


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An evolutionary interpretation of personal salvation will include the following... First: Don't think you can save yourself. Original sin runs too deep. You need others and, in fact, you need the Whole of Reality. Second: If you think the Kingdom of Heaven can be experienced via any path other than the one Jesus embodied, re-incarnating the values he incarnated (acceptance, courage, humility, transparency, self-responsibility, love, compassion, commitment, etc), you're kidding yourself. Not because the Bible says so; try it! See for yourself.

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Salvation (maturity/enlightenment) is found, at least in part, in truly getting that my REAL self-interest (as opposed to my perceived self-interest) can only be served by simultaneously taking into account the wellbeing of the larger holons of which I am part and the smaller holons for which I am responsible. Freedom also includes realizing that my ego is incapable of doing the saving, of willing or orchestrating the shift. Instead, real peace and real power come from humbling oneself, surrendering to the wisdom of the Whole, having faith in God's timing and leading, and being on-purpose.

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God's will for us individually, today, is essentially what Jesus said it was two thousand years ago: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor (including your enemy) as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Translated into modern-day speech: "You want to be saved? Love the whole of Reality (immanent and transcendent) passionately, with everything you've got, and know that by pursuing the wellbeing of the larger and smaller holons of your existence, you are not only furthering your own wellbeing but also fulfilling the Law and ushering in the Kingdom!"

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Millions of people all over the world can personally attest to having found freedom from addiction (salvation from sin) in this way: A) surrendering to a larger Reality than one's own ego/will — a Reality which is at work in the world and to which each of us is accountable; B) getting real with ourselves and with others by owning the painful truths in our lives, while grasping the comforting truth that a Higher Power accepts each of us anyway, then living with integrity; C) making amends (cleaning up the messes we've made from living unconsciously, addictively, or self-centeredly); and D) supporting others through this process, and thus blessing the world. Anyone who thinks that this is not a true path to salvation has simply never walked it. It's the essence of all 12-step recovery programs.

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From an evolutionary perspective, salvation means trusting time and trusting life, including the inevitable chaos and challenges that come our way. In so doing, we can more readily attend to the creativity of the Whole flowing through us because we are released from the paralyzing grip of resentments, what ifs, rehearsals, and fruitless worrying that otherwise consume our time and energy and distract us from our calling.

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When we stop and think of all the times we've personally tasted the fruit of salvation — all the times we've known healing, reconciliation, forgiveness, wholeness, freedom from bondage, empowerment, etc — if we look through sacred eyes, we'll realize that, without exception, God's grace and love were always present.

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The New Testament notion of being saved from eternal hellfire, by grace, through faith, makes good sense (in a this-worldly way) when seen in an evolutionary context. Freedom from the hell we create for ourselves through pride, arrogance, denial, deception, resentments, bitterness, hatred, and so forth can only come about through accepting that some larger Reality is at work, and that this Reality is trustworthy and ultimately on our side. By turning from our narrow self-centered ways and giving ourselves over to the care and guidance of this Reality, however one may choose to name it, we really can experience salvation.

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Being saved from anger, self-righteousness, lust, greed, envy, denial, addiction, self-centeredness, or whatever is only half the story. What are you saved for? Now that you are free, what will you do for the Whole with your one wild and precious life?

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Salvation is not merely an individual matter. Corporations, collectives, and other organizations can taste the fruit of salvation by pursuing the wellbeing of the larger holons of which the group is part and the smaller holons of which it is composed and for which it is responsible.

Resources Edit

"Let's Stop Trivializing God, the Universe, and Our Role in Evolution!" - foundational essay

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