Christian Theological/Philosophical Book Club discussion

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The Cafe - Open Discussion > When, how, and through which groups did the practice of asking people if they are saved develop?

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather Davis | 10 comments I am working on a new book and I want to fairly characterize the development of the Christian cultural practice of asking people "Are you saved?" There are many learned souls in this group and I would love to hear your thoughtful answers.


message 2: by David (new)

David I would do research on the First and Second Great Awakenings in the US. I suspect it is rooted, or at least took off, in that time. Once Christendom became a thing (let's say around 500 AD?) it was assumed that pretty much everyone in Europe (except Jews and maybe a few on the fringe) was Christian. All babies were baptized, church and state were united, and a good citizen was a Christian. Of course, this did not mean everyone went to heaven as most people had a long haul in purgatory to look forward to first. But you were assured if you went to mass and performed the sacraments, you'd make it to heaven one day.

Maybe the "getting saved" language began around the Reformation, though even the magisterial reformers kept church and state united. So Lutheran regions baptized baby Lutherans, Reformed Calvinist regions baptized baby Calvinists and Catholics kept baptizing Catholics. It was Anabaptists who argued for choice in religion.

But the Reformation got the ball rolling (read Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, about the best book ever). Religion became more personal with things like revivals in England through Welsey and Pietism in Germany. Around this same time was the First Great Awakening in the US.

It almost seems like "getting saved" is how people talk with one foot in Christendom and one foot out of it. So we still see ourselves as in a place where most self-identify as Christians (percent in US still very high) but we also question the sincerity. So did you "get saved" - have that revival experience?


message 3: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Good points, David, I would agree that the individualism of Pietism in German helped, as you noted Wesley was greatly influenced by this thought. The Baptists were by in large hugely influential for promulgating believers church and separation of Church and state. Anabaptists were first out the gate, but did not have the influence, nor print the exorbitant amount of polemics and tracts the Baptists did (obviously it can be argued Baptist origin finds roots in Anabaptism, to be sure).

Finney and the Second Great Awakening is a good place to look too. Plus the Quakers and the Plymouth Brethren.


message 4: by Robert (last edited Apr 30, 2014 01:13PM) (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments From a science perspective, Homo sapiens seems to be hard-wired for "savior" mentality. Our DNA appears to favor attempts to return outliers to the norm, whatever that may be in any given society. That is unlike other species which shun rebels. Once a dominant religion is established, then it's an easy biological task to convince members to push for large-scale conversion. As David pointed out, however, "getting saved" is a very elastic term and is often just a half-hearted admixture of an occassional wave at Christianity interspersed with a generous dollop of cultural pleasure.


message 5: by Heather (new)

Heather Davis | 10 comments David wrote: "I would do research on the First and Second Great Awakenings in the US. I suspect it is rooted, or at least took off, in that time. Once Christendom became a thing (let's say around 500 AD?) it w..."
This is all so helpful, David. I will do a little more digging around under your good direction. And surely put A Secular Age on my to-read shelf. Thanks!


message 6: by Heather (new)

Heather Davis | 10 comments Brent wrote: "Good points, David, I would agree that the individualism of Pietism in German helped, as you noted Wesley was greatly influenced by this thought. The Baptists were by in large hugely influential fo..."

I have obviously come to the right place for good direction. I truly appreciate your time and thoughts!


message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather Davis | 10 comments Robert wrote: "From a science perspective, Homo sapiens seems to be hard-wired for "savior" mentality. Our DNA appears to favor attempts to return outliers to the norm, whatever that may be in any given society. ..."

I certainly don't want to enter into the fray here but I can't help but ask: who hard-wired them?


message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Heather - well, you certainly went directly to the jugular! My biology colleagues would say it is merely an evolutionary manifestation. As creatures became more complicated with increased organ systems and brain functions, more chromosomes were required with more gene combinations employed. All "advanced" organisms have far more DNA than they actually use. So, gorillas with similar DNA to humans can exile rebellious members from the group while humans try to reform them. It's merely which genes are activated to produce the requisite enzymes and biochemical combinations.
Two points: 1) cerebrally, humans are far more than just smart apes. I don't totally throw evolution in the waste bin, but in this case, the leap from advanced primate to Man is an impossible hurdle in the time span it supposedly occured. 2) I believe in God. When He says He created thus and such (including Man) in Genesis, I believe Him. Ergo, Man is hard-wired the way he is at God's pleasure.


message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather Davis | 10 comments Robert wrote: "Heather - well, you certainly went directly to the jugular! My biology colleagues would say it is merely an evolutionary manifestation. As creatures became more complicated with increased organ sys..."
This is such a useful answer. I am a writer, not a scientist, but have no problem allowing my deep faith and deep respect for science to "co-exist." Obviously, a lot of this hinges on where we shake out on the Creation narrative and the timespan. Since thoughtful theologians have posited everything from "an instant" to a "literal six days" to "each day is a thousand years" to a "metaphor" I think the more important message is the one you've taken from it: that the world and everything in it is God's creation. May He help me from getting somehow entangled in a big bloggy mess: that would not be my good pleasure:)


message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Heather - I like your take and also try to blend my Scriptural understandings with my scientific training. God said He created grass and fruit trees at the very least in the plant family. Probably He created much more, but that still leaves plenty of room for botanical evolution. There is no reason why religion and evolution should be mutually exclusive to rational people.


message 11: by Heather (new)

Heather Davis | 10 comments Thanks, Robert. FYI...if you're interested in more of my take, my latest book Elijah & the SAT is up for a free giveaway ending in about 2 hours. If you miss it, you can certainly check it out on amazon, and/or put it on your To Read list.


message 12: by Heather (new)

Heather Davis | 10 comments Heather wrote: "Thanks, Robert. FYI...if you're interested in more of my take, my latest book Elijah & the SAT is up for a free giveaway ending in about 2 hours. If you miss it, you can certainly check it out on a..."

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/sh...


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