Every Christian faith persuasion has its own doctrine about salvation. It is important to learn how other faiths teach that people come to individual salvation. Remember, we are all using the same Bible, and Christians believe salvation comes through the death and resurrection of Christ. At least most Christians do even though that has always been challenged by some theologians.
Below is a simplified explanation of the salvation process. The person walking down the aisle toward the pastor to accept Christ most likely has no idea of the theological complexities of each faith denomination, and truthfully they do not have to know anything except that are responding to the desire within themselves to be saved, or to become a Christ follower. At this point in their lives they probably have no idea what living for Christ means, and certainly have not formed deep theological expressions of faith.
A note: You can see my Baptist background through most of my writing, even as I am trying to get beyond that to a deeper understanding of faith in God.
Churches of Christ believe that individuals make their profession of faith and that they must be baptized in order for salvation to be complete. Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists baptize infants in the trust that those babies and children will later make their decision in confirmation classes or through life decisions.
United Pentecostals believe that people are not saved unless he or she speaks in tongues, and is baptized, and they also believe that the promise in Acts 2:38 means that if a person is baptized in Jesus’ name, that is a promise that they will be saved at some time in their life. Assemblies of God rose out of the United Pentecostal faith, believing that when a person is saved they are sanctified, but do not have to speak in tongues in order to be saved, even though speaking in tongues is common among them after salvation.
Presbyterians follow John Calvin with one of the strangest salvation process of them all. Calvinists believe that God allows certain chosen people to call on Him and be saved.
“Calvin defines predestination as ‘God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.’ So predestination is an act of God’s will through which God elects or chooses those whom God calls to faith and thus to eternal life, and through which God chooses those who will not receive faith. Other theologians have seen in predestination only a positive calling to eternal life. Still others have seen it as God’s foreknowledge of who would choose faith.”1 (John Calvin – b.1509-d.1564)
You can see from this statement by John Calvin that he actually says that God creates certain people to be damned to hell. What kind of God is that? It is not how I see God, and some Presbyterians are beginning to question that concept of a Heavenly Father.
Others believe that salvation is a process and that you are not actually saved until you die. Catholics believe in a purgatory where salvation can be delayed until certain conditions are met.
Baptism is connected to salvation, either in a two-step process for salvation (one pastor told me I was living on borrowed time because I had not been baptized) or as a symbolic act. Generally baptism follows a personal decision to follow Christ, or in the case of some faiths such as United Pentecost, adult baptism can be performed before salvation with the assurance that salvation will happen and they will speak in tongues. United Pentecosts also baptize in Jesus’ name, rather than in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as most churches baptize. Some faiths believe that salvation is a two-step process, and is not complete until the person is baptized. Some faiths baptize both infants and adults. Most faiths, Baptists included, baptize very young children.
Most faiths will baptize adults after the adult has expressed a belief in Jesus Christ as savior.
Some Christian faiths believe salvation can be lost, and if a person falls from grace, that person must be saved again. Relatively few people feel the need to be saved again, so even if it is a church’s official doctrine, few practice it.
What does this have to do with desiring to BE God? Keep reading through the series. In order to get through this quicker, Part 6 will be published Wednesday, March 14. Then we will have Part 7: Redefining Women’s Salvation. Hang in here with me!
(excerpts from my book “Raising the Hood: A Christian Look at Manhood and Womanhood.” (revised)