Saturday, May 20, 2006
BOOK NOTE: What Does It Mean to Be Saved?
Several years ago (2002) I happened upon an interesting title. It was a volume edited by John Stackhouse, Jr a prof at Regent College in Canada. The title was What Does it Mean to Be Saved?: Broadening Evangelical Horizons of Salvation (Baker Academic 2002). Seeing a number of scholars whose work I had come to value (especially Rikk Watts and Jonathan Wilson) I picked it up.
The title also intrigued me because I had grown increasingly unsatisfied with how most Restorations and Evangelicals were basically "salvation minimalists." That is the only dimension that they either understood or perhaps believed was what might be called "personal" salvation. Indeed for many years I had done this as well.
I am convinced that this minimalist approach to salvation has also had profound effects on the contemporary discipleship of Christians. I believe that one reason why Christians both look like and act like unredeemed humanity is directly related to this individualistic transactional approach to salvation.
Thus this book is a welcome and needed exploration of the contours of the biblical dimensions of salvation. Rikk Watts (whose book Isaiah's New Exodus in Mark is incredibly rich) explores the theology of salvation as a new exodus and restoration of creation; Vincent Bacote argues that salvation has important implications for "This Life," and other outstanding essays.
As a chastened Restorationist it has been to my delight that key figures in the Stone-Campbell Movement essentially bought into this type of theology. Alexander Campbell's essay on "Regeneration" is eye opening for those who are hypercritical of him. Robert Milligan in his classic Scheme of Redemption has a satisfyingly biblical approach to salvation as wholness and restoration of God's creation. David Lipscomb and James A. Harding both held to a deeper and more biblical new creationist eschatology which is explored to some extent in my new book with John Mark Hicks, Kingdom Come.
For those interested in exploring the wider dimensions of the biblical doctrine of salvation this may be a good book to digest. I believe it will be worth the effort.