Collective Salvation, part II

So what is collective salvation?

If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last two weeks scouring the internet trying to find a clear definition of this elusive doctrine. And, if you’re like me, you’ve been largely unsuccessful. It seems obvious, though, right? If individual salvation simply means that my salvation is dependent upon my individual faith in Christ, then collective salvation must mean that my salvation is dependent upon the collective faith of the community, right?

I don’t think this is what it means, though. I don’t think it really has anything to do with a doctrine about salvation or faith or (dare I say it?) Christ. It denies the very foundations of the Christian faith: that core idea that we all have sinned, and the penalty for that sin is spiritual (and, might I add, eternal) death; that Christ took the punishment of our sin and conquered death so that we might live; that being one of the community (of Jews, of God’s chosen) is insufficient to save our spiritual selves; that salvation is by grace and through faith–a free gift of God Himself.

See, collective salvation isn’t really about salvation at all. It isn’t about faith.  Oh, they may say it is. But look at what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger said about Liberation Theology (the parent of the collective salvation doctrine) :

Many liberation theologians continue to use a great deal of the Church’s classical ascetical and dogmatic language while changing its signification.

So don’t be confused when they tell you it’s about salvation. It’s not. It’s not about faith or hope or Christ or salvation. It’s not even about the community that makes it “collective.” It’s about social, economic, and political power. It’s the stripping of individual rights and responsibilities, sins and redemptions, choices, opinions, desires.

How long will it be before someone who is ungreen will be seen as a threat to our collective survival? Does it not become the job of the government-savior to convert me to green for the sake of the community, of the state, of the country, of the world? It has to. It has to become someone’s job, or it would still depend upon my individual conscience.

But that’s just it. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to move me to charity or compassion. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to tell me it’s wrong to lie, cheat, or steal. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to decide whether I should stop and help the man whose car just went off the road in front of me.

No, collective salvation requires a conscience on behalf of the community. And believe you me, the collective conscience will trump your individual conscience every time. Our government will make sure of it.

Folks, don’t buy into this. Don’t be enticed by the pretty idea of saving everyone. Salvation is not my job, not your job, not the community’s job, and certainly not the government’s job. It is the work of Jesus the Messiah. Any other “salvation” will fall short in the end.

Is it our responsibility as Christians to love our neighbor? To show compassion? To help the poor and needy? Absolutely. It is a matter of our faith, though, and we answer to God for those choices–not to the government.

Wow. It just hit me: If there is no individual conscience, no individual salvation, then there can also be no individual worth or need. Everything will become a matter of community. Everything will be weighed on its health pertaining to the community (or to the perception thereof). Isn’t this the end game, after all?

If you’re still looking for answers, begin with Ratzinger’s notes on Liberation Theology. Let me know what else you find, folks. I’m trying really hard to understand these issues, myself, and I welcome the dialogue and–where necessary–correction.

Pax Domini.

Semmie.

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8 thoughts on “Collective Salvation, part II

  1. “How long will it be before someone who is ungreen will be seen as a threat to our collective survival? Does it not become the job of the government-savior to convert me to green for the sake of the community, of the state, of the country, of the world? It has to. It has to become someone’s job, or it would still depend upon my individual conscience.”

    “It’s not easy being green.”-Kermit the Frog

    “But that’s just it. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to move me to charity or compassion. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to tell me it’s wrong to lie, cheat, or steal. Suddenly, I can’t trust my own gut to decide whether I should stop and help the man whose car just went off the road in front of me.”

    That’s just it! the United States has been gutted…gutted of it’s core Judeo/Christian values!

    “No, collective salvation requires a conscience on behalf of the community. And believe you me, the collective conscience will trump your individual conscience every time. Our government will make sure of it.”

    Have you ever hear of the “herd mentality”?

    “Wow. It just hit me: If there is no individual conscience, no individual salvation, then there can also be no individual worth or need. Everything will become a matter of community. Everything will be weighed on its health pertaining to the community (or to the perception thereof). Isn’t this the end game, after all?”

    The Gospel of John 18:14- “Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.”

    Or, if you prefer:

    “Fighting the effects of the deadly radiation Spock rasps, “It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

    Kirk finishes the statement for his friend, “Or the one.” -from “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan”

    Sarah, God cares for the individual. Of course, you already know that. ;-)

    • “Sarah, God cares for the individual.”

      Thank God for that! I fear our identity–as individuals, but also as a nation–is being (as you said) “gutted.” If we can only hold onto this truth, that God cares for the individual, then we may just survive this fiasco.

      God bless you, the individual, Steve Ward…and all those who are yours.

      P.S. Thanks for the modern references. They made me smile. :)

  2. Such a very good post! The idea of collective salvation scares me, quite frankly. Just the idea that salvation is based on something other than faith in Christ. We don’t do things because the community tells us to, but because of Christ.

  3. In 1997 the rev Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church wrote a dissertation about individual & collective salvation and in his summary wrote this “Unless we take down this sign which deals with religion, Christianity, we cannot accomplish restoration of humanity because this sign limits salvation to the individual level, or do you want to see national and worldwide salvation?” Da>> I think I want my personal salvation promised me through Jesus Christ. The really scary part is that Obama believes in collective salvation and has said so on more than one occasion.

    • Hi Sid, thanks for your comment. You know, in my searching for information about collective salvation, I stumbled upon Sun Myung Moon’s dissertation. I intentionally left it out of my blog thus far because it makes my brain hurt. Literally.

      The truly scary part, in my opinion, is not that someone believes in a group salvation, but in the reality that this doctrine (collective salvation) really has nothing to do with faith or Christ or salvation. It has everything to do with political and social (and, might I add, economic) power. If you can convince someone to act on behalf of the “good” of a community, then you control the community.

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