I'm going to be dropping off sections of my dissertation on to this blog. Here's the first few paragraphs of it (which will actually make up the 3rd chapter):
Much has been said both inside and outside the Church about this particular doctrine [salvation]. Many books have been written explaining detailed theories of how one is saved, why this is the case and what the consequences are of this. There are of course various disagreements as to how one actually is saved. Calvinists believe that God has already foreordained an elect group of people to save and has likewise foreordained those outside this election to eternal wrath and judgment. The Armenian would of course disagree with this and would state that salvation is subject to the freewill of the one who is presented with the gospel message. The receiver of the gospel has the option to accept or reject salvation.
On the theme of how one is saved certain denominations stress the importance of the full-immersion baptism of a believer in order to secure their status of being saved. If one is not literally baptised then one is merely a nominal believer and not a fully saved Christian (this view is particularly prevalent in certain strands of the charismatic movements). Others believe that infant baptism is enough; others say that a conscious decision and knowledge of the ‘baptisee’ needs to be in place; others again (the term is Universalist) believe that everyone whether they have accepted the gospel or not, will finally be ushered into the Kingdom of God, saved by God’s grace and love which will conquer all hard-heartedness and resistance.
It is important to state that much of mainstream Christianity appears to have a very narrow scope of the Soteriology doctrine often reducing it to concerns about post-mortem destiny (what happens when after death and where do I go). If you were to talk to most Christians, either young or old, and ask them what it means to be saved, you will most likely get a reply that says to be saved means that ‘I will go to heaven when I die’. It appears that for many people salvation is the ticket that has bought them out of hell. They were once heading for torture and damnation but thankfully Jesus has done something on the cross that has reversed all this.
We need to ask the question: Is this really what salvation is all about?