Salvation and Spiritual Formation


Some more thoughts following my post on sin, incarnation and mission.


This has been the major motif/model and understanding of redemption and spirituality in the modern church.

Creation: God made the world; it was 'perfect' (perfection being a greek idea of static purity)

Fall: humans fell, from this state of perfection.

Redemption: and need salvation or redemption to a higher order of being (back to perfection).

In this model, human beings can have an otherworldly spiritual experience and an alternative perfect place. Salvation is about getting back on track and reaching a destination. Why be distracted with discipleship, character transformation, attending to human nature, when the destination is assured?

For the modern church redemption has been very much about removal from the world, and to become like Christ is to become more divine. This view of redemption and salvation owes much to communicating with the background of platonic thought, which is overly dualistic and results in the viewpoint which asserts that Christians are saved out of the world, and their goal is salvation from a fallen creation that will be destroyed.

The new creation is heaven where saved Christians go. There is little or no integration with the world and created order and little focus on issues such as ecology, social action, and war and peace. Christians are cut adrift from creation and Christ need come only on Good Friday and rise from the dead on Easter Sunday.


Their is an early motif/model that emerged with Ireneaus before accomodations to Platonic thought in the west, that was taken up by Karl Barth and more recently Colin Gunton (Kings College) of creation-incarnation-recreation.

Creation: God made the world, it was 'good' and capable of growing and becoming better, but people sin and live away from God (the fall), creation is a project with a destination which it has not reached.

Incarnation: God continually calls His creation toward the future to draw it back toward its intended goal and purpose. In that reaching out to His good creation, God utlimately incarnates himself in the person of Jesus Christ. The incarnation is the ultimate identification with God’s creation, and Jesus is the second Adam, fully human and fully divine (1 Cor. 15:22, 45-48). Christ is the second Adam who brings creation and humanity back on track and reconnects them to God. Salvation is about becoming more human in God’s image, participating in the creation project as an ecological and ethical reconnection.

Re-creation: Redemption or salvation is then the divine action which returns the creation to its proper direction, its orientation to its destiny, and it's recreation.

Summary Or lets try to put it more succinctly (and probably crudely) in terms of our message when explaining salvation and our place in the creation and connection to God.

Creation-Fall-Redemption: You are a fallen sinner, totally depraved, God is going to throw his creation away as it has fallen from perfection, and you need to be rescued from it by Jesus who came to die for us, to the new perfect world God will make in heaven. In other words you are a human being who can have a spiritual life and experience.

Creation-Incarnation-Recreation: You are already a spiritual being. You were made in the image of God, the creator of the universe and beyond. You are part of a good world, that God loves so much he sent his son to. But are you really living, would you like to be human, as you were meant to be. Christ's life and death make it possible to enter into life with God now, that will last for eternity, with so much for you to do with this new life in partnership with God. In other words you are a spiritual being who can be human, in the way Christ showed us.