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Chapter 13: Salvation and Redemption



Review: Eschatology


The Term eschatology refers to a belief in or teachings about the “end times”  In this case “end” can refer to the end of the world or the goal toward which history is moving.  Note that eschatology can refer thus refer to a renewal or restoration of the current order or an “other worldly” transformation.

In late Judaism, eschatology more or less merged with apocalyptic thinking. An apocalyptic eschatology combines the teachings about the end times with a belief in a cosmic struggle between good and evil. Generally, apocalyptic literature reflects the belief that the culminating battle between good and evil will come very soon.

Christianity has strong apocalyptic elements in it. One finds these elements not only in the Book of Revelation, but also in various passages in the Gospels.  It seems likely that the early Church expected that the end was imminent. Throughout its history, groups within Christianity have believed that the end would come in their life time.

One group that thought they knew when the end was coming was led by William Miller in the late 1800’s.  The various Adventist groups grew out of Miller’s followers.


Salvation and Redemption

Although the terms salvation and redemption are related, there are important differences in their meanings. The term salvation generally refers to “saving” or “rescue” that is accomplished through the direct intervention of God’s grace.  On the other hand, redemption generally refers to “restoration” or renewal, usually through humanity’s cooperation with God.  

In either case, the terms signify a perception that things are not the way that they ought to be.  In other words, there is a discrepancy between ultimate/sacred reality and the profane world.  Salvation or redemption thus can mean the movement from the way things are to the way things ought to be. With this broad understanding of salvation, one can perceive different patterns of salvation.



Patterns of Salvation:

Basically one can identify  four patterns of salvation: 

  • Individual salvation in this world
  • Individual salvation in another world
  • Group salvation in this world
  • Group salvation in another world

Within these categories, one can further identify some sub-categories:

Individual Salvation

In This World

In Another World

  •  The search for meaning
  •  The desire to be remembered
  •  The ideal of completion
  • Joining the spirit world
  • Cosmic cycling or Expansion
  • The idea of judgment


Group Salvation

In This World

In Another World

  • Salvation through the people
  • Salvation through the tradition
  • Salvation in the Kingdom of God in this world


  • Salvation in the Kingdom of God in the world to come. 


In class, we considered salvation  in world religions in terms of four questions:

·        What are the basic assumptions about ultimate reality?

·        What is the human problem?

·        What is the “cure” or solution to the problem?

·        What pattern of salvation is dominant in the tradition?

This exercise was not meant to introduce new material; rather it demonstrated how the concepts we have been studying are interrelated. We also noted that while a religious tradition may specify a single solution to the human problem, within each tradition there are at least six ways of approaching that solution.  These were also covered earlier in the course.

While you do not need to memorize all the details you should have a general knowledge of the patterns of salvation in the world’s religions. The following links deal with  the four questions in far more detail that you need to know.


Theravada Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism