By Pierre-Olivier Léchot
Translation Louise Thunin
There is a critique often addressed to liberal theology. Far from offering to the believer a future after death (salvation), it wallows in a sort of mortal present moment. The answer has often consisted in replying that, without any consequences for the present (and above all any ethical consequences) the declaring of a post-mortem future makes no sense. There is no reason to refuse this response. In the Christian faith, salvation is indeed the opposite of disengagement from the world. But that is not sufficent, or to say it in a different way, it has to be founded on theology. And that means we must ask the question, how do we understand salvation without turning to a mythological and supranatural reading of scripture ?
So here, we need to see what is hiding behind the idea of salvation. To make a long story short, we can say that there are good reasons to think that the doctrine of salvation tries to reply to the double reality of death and of human finitude. To declare the possibility of salvation reminds us that death does not condemn us to emptiness. We are not claiming that death and finiteness are nothing. To believe in salvation is rather to speak one’s faith in the capacity of the divine forces present in all of us to overcome death and the void, here and now. Therefore, that also supposes that we recognize that our life is not one to conquer but rather a gift we are called upon to accept as it is.
Salvation does not wear itself out in moral teachings, or, rather, if it has a moral dimension it is because faith in the possibility of a fully lived life carries the desire to see each one live his life in the framework of a limited existence yet fully experienced. Indeed, the possibility of a full life (but also of its opposite) can also be a source of anguish–and from this point of view, salvation is not the equivalent of happiness ( « a false bief » said Kierkegaard). For salvation is nothing more than faith joined to its consequence, here and now : freedom.
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