In any context besides religion, if we were asked if we were saved, we would naturally ask saved from what. When the context is religion, we are assumed to be conditioned to a certain understanding of the question. In fact, that is largely the case. Many, if not most, think that salvation in a religious sense, means being rescued from God’s wrath when we die. In effect, we are being saved from God by God. The idea that God is our rescuer is a reassuring thought; but, when I add the notion that I am being saved from God, that suggests confusion and insecurity. Which side of God will prevail ultimately, the rescuer God or the condemner God?
There is much discussion today on the subject of whether the religion known as Christianity has ever really understood what salvation rescues mankind from. We have all heard the salvation scenario described above, but an increasing number of folks find it no longer believable. The implied picture of God is just too contradictory and too similar to the gods of Greek and Roman mythology or paganism, for that matter. Many seek a God who is truly transcendent and who works benevolently and relentlessly throughout human history to accomplish His divine purpose. Some seek and find that God in the Bible, and others seek extra biblically, finding an inspired Truth buried within their own hearts (Hebrews 8:10-11).
The salvation which I perceive is an escape or rescue from a false picture of God as a tyrant and an equally corrosive depiction of humanity as despised wretches. The work and message of Jesus correspond marvelously with the change I envision. Jesus reflected God’s love and benevolence as no one had ever done before. He likewise elevated the status of mankind in a way which religion has denied for centuries. Jesus brought a salvation of the mind, establishing a new identity for both God and man.
The salvation of Jesus promised eternal or abundant life, joy, and peace. The idea of salvation from God’s wrath has never fulfilled any of those promises. The incessant handwringing of the church demonstrates as much. Something is obviously wrong in the traditional salvation story. When some seek a new story, they simply do what they must.