Soteriology

Salvation Army

Soteriology [suh-teer-ee-ol-uh-jee] is the branch of theology dealing with Salvation. Buddhist salvation (called nirvana) is liberation from suffering, ignorance, and rebirth. Hindu salvation (called moksha) is similarly characterized by emancipation from the cycle of reincarnation. Mainstream Christian soteriology is the study of how God reconciles the separation between man and God due to sin. Christians believe individuals are miraculously saved by divine grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and reconciled to God.

Islamic soteriology focuses on how humans can repent of and atone for their sins so as not to occupy a state of loss. In Islam, it is believed that everyone is responsible for his own action. So even though Muslims believe that their father of humanity, Adam, committed a sin by eating from the forbidden tree and thus disobeying his Lord, they believe that humankind is not responsible for such an action. The major Jewish denominations emphasize prayer and morality in this life over concern with the afterlife.

In the Greco-Roman mystery religions, salvation was less worldly and communal, and more a mystical belief concerned with the continued survival of the individual soul after death. Some savior gods associated with this theme are dying and regenerating gods, often associated with the seasonal cycle, such as Osiris, Tammus, Adonis, and Dionysos. Early Christianity borrowed many myths and motifs from contemporary Hellenistic mystery religions, which possessed ideas such as life-death-rebirth deities and sexual relations between gods and human beings.

Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God, meant to bring one into union with God. But a person’s state of mind has to be detached from this world, with the understanding that this world is a temporary abode and their soul has to remain untouched by pain, pleasure, greed, emotional attachment, praise, slander and above all, egotistical pride. Shinto similarly emphasizes working for a good life by cultivating virtue or virtuous behavior.

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