Category Archives: Soteriology

Redemption: Cross-generational and Cross-cultural

Given that salvation is a historical process, Andrew Walls argues that Christians need to recapture the sense that the redemptive purpose of God is cross-generational. “It is not completed in one generation, only in the totality of the generations. It was not completed in the generation of the incarnate Lord nor in that of his apostles. We should be wary, then, of using some later epoch–the Protestant Reformation, for instance, or the evangelical revival–as the defining description of the process. The redemptive process will not even be complete in the last generation of all, taking that generation in and of itself.”[1]

Hebrews 11 makes it clear: “Neither Abraham nor any of the other heroes of faith has actually yet received what God promised them, because God  has decided on a better plan–not for them but for us. Abraham, the writer argues, and all the other Christian ancestors, will not be made perfect, that is, complete, until the Christians to whom the Letter to the Hebrews is addressed are gathered into their succession. Extending it further, Abraham is waiting for us so that he can enter into his inheritance. The full significance of the great archetype of saving faith will be clear only when all the faithful are gathered in.”[2]

Christians also need to recapture the sense that salvation is cross-cultural. “The Epistle to the Ephesians reflects two ethnic and cultural communities in the church. Each had its own converted lifestyle, one utterly Jewish and Torah based, the other reflecting the conditions of the Hellenistic world of the Eastern Mediterranean but in converted form. There must have been many abrasive patches in churches made up of both groups, but the epistle make sit clear that the two communities belong together. They are each building blocks in the construction of the new temple; both are organs equally necessary to the functioning of the body of which Christ is the head. Indeed, as the epistle proceeds, we find that neither group can on its own realize the full stature of that body. We all come together, the apostle assures us, to the full stature of Christ.”[3]

The message of Ephesians is just as relevant to the many cultural communities in the global church. “Each is to have, like Jew and Greek in the early church, its own converted lifestyle as the distinctive features of each culture are turned toward Christ. The representation of Christ by any one group can at best be only partial. At best it reflects the conversion of a small segment of reality and it needs to be complemented and perhaps corrected by others. The fullness of humanity lies in Christ; the aggregate of converted lifestyles points toward his full stature.”[4]

[1] Andrew F. Walls, “Globalization and the Study of Christian History,” in Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity, ed. Craig Ott and Harold A. Netland (Nottingham: Apollos, 2007), 71.

[2] Ibid., 72.

[3] Ibid., 73.

[4] Ibid., 73-4.

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Filed under Historical Theology, Intercultural Theology, Soteriology