I had an online discussion with a couple of close friends on Sunday. The subject was the Bible and to a larger extent our respective religious experiences. As we prepared to adjourn, I made an attempt at humor by suggesting an “altar call” or “invitation to come down the aisle” as we had all experienced in our religious past.
In response to my lame humor, one friend replied: “I live in the aisle”. That remark immediately struck me as a summation of religious life for a lot of folks, me included. Our religious life has been one long struggle to measure up, as much in our own minds as anywhere else. Our spiritual status from moment to moment often felt uncertain. In Christian tradition we were supposed to be saved, i.e. safe and secure, but somehow that security was illusive.
No matter one’s position on the “security of the believer” there was always room for doubt. Could I fall from grace? Was I ever saved at all? These lingering questions drove many an honest seeker repeatedly down the church aisle seeking a transformation from fearful supplicant to confident child of God.
In the most practical of senses an insecure salvation is no salvation at all. If salvation does not convey a guarantee of security, then the word salvation becomes a misnomer. In that respect, a secure salvation has to be based in totality on something outside of me/us. This formulaic, one part God and nine parts me, type of redemption, as traditionally taught, is never going to fill the bill. The self doubt, relentlessly reinforced by church theology, will continue to have me “living in the aisle”. It’s time to get out of the aisle and put my complete faith in God and not largely in my personal faithfulness.