Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gorringe on Salvation

Today I picked up a copy of Tim Gorringe’s little book, Salvation, in the ‘Thinking Things Through’ series. What a wonderful, stimulating, thought-provoking read. The first part is essentially, and rather uniquely, a script in which Gorringe presents two main characters: Rebecca, an evangelical, and Tom, an agnostic. Their discussions get right to the heart of issues with remarkable economy for such a genre, and each chapter ends with excellently worded ‘questions for discussion‘. I am really enjoying this little gem.

Gorringe used to lead one of my seminar groups in St Andrews, but at the time I was living in a very small theological world and thought the man a screaming heretic! Well, maybe not heretic, but I didn’t like the fact he didn’t live in my “individual sin-penal atonement-personal faith alone-heaven” schema. This book, among other things, helps shows why precisely that schema is inadequate!


At 5/16/2008 6:37 AM, Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...

All "schemas" are simply "schemas."

Do new religious "schemas" of interpretation provide an adequate and sufficiently solid basis for "believing" in any of them?

And a related question:

"How do you know that which you claim to know?"

Visit the link below or google the above phrase along with "Babinski"

At 5/16/2008 6:56 AM, Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...

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At 5/16/2008 7:43 AM, Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...

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At 5/16/2008 7:49 AM, Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...

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At 5/16/2008 7:49 AM, Blogger James said...


Are there other books similar to this that you would suggest. I come out of a similar background that you described, and I have been struggling with this issue.


At 5/16/2008 8:07 AM, Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...

"Gorringe on Salvation?"

How about...

"Paul on Salvation," i.e.,Romans 8:18,22-23; 13:11-12; 16:20:

"The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is soon to be revealed to us... The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now... We... groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body… knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed! The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand... The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."

Boy, Paul, I'm glad THAT'S over with! Hey... wait a sec... Lucifer's Lambchops are STILL not barbecued?! What the...


I'll have to look into Gorringe, his other works also sound interesting. He's an agnostically-inclined heretical Christian? Cool!

Being British you might know that the famed British sci-fi novelist and heir apparent to H.G. Wells, namely, Olaf Stapledon, wrote a series of philosophical dialogues, once of which was with "an agnostic" another was with "a mystic" still another was with "a scientist." I edited them down to their essentials a couple decades ago and added them to my self-published zine at the time, Theistic Evolutionists' Forum. They were delicious little prose pieces.

I'd also like to drop the names of these three "salvific" books:

"Salvation and Damnation"
by William J. Dalton, S.J.
(Theology Today #41), a great little book that taught me the origins of the apocalyptic and eschatological terms that Jesus was portrayed as using in the Gospels and also made me question just how seriously to take such language.

"I'm Saved, You're Saved... Maybe"
by Jack Renard Pressau
Cute title written by someone with a very broad evangelical view, raising questions for those with narrower views. Pressau makes a few good points, though the book's simplistic by my present standards of reading. Just nice to know there's Christians out there helping others discover broader salvation schemas. Though I don't think Pressau is a universalist.

"Meditations with Meister Eckhart"
by Matthew Fox
A very short work, one quotation per page in fact, but some of them are gems.

Below a wonderful quotation from H.G. Wells that mentions "salvation" [and reminds us why G. K. Chesterton admired Wells's writings so much, even though Wells was an atheist and Chesterton was a Catholic]:

They told him a God of Near Eastern origin, the God of Abraham (who evidently had a stupendous bosom) and Isaac and Jacob, had made the whole universe, stars and atoms, from start to finish in six days and made it wonderfully and perfect, and had set it all going and, after some necessary setbacks called the Fall and the Flood, had developed arrangements that were to culminate in the earthly happiness and security and eternal bliss of our little Mr. Davis, which had seemed to him a very agreeable state of affairs. And further they had shown him the most convincing pictures of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel and had given him a Noah’s Ark toy to play with [in times past the only acceptable toy to play with on Sundays was Noah’s ark] and told him simple Bible stories about the patriarchs and the infant Samuel and Solomon and David and their remarkable lessons for us, the promise of salvation spreading out from the Near East until it covered the world, and he had taken it all in without flinching because at the time he had no standards of comparison. Anything might be as true as anything else. Except for difference in color they put him into a world of Green Pastures and there they trained him to be a simply believing little Anglican. [H. G. Wells, “The Mind of Mr. Joseph Davis”]

And a quotation from an Evangelical street preacher in the U.S. on the topic of "salvation":

My daughter is five-years-old and, people say how inhumane, I let my daughter lay and cry herself to sleep for a week straight about the flames of Hell. See my daughter personally lay at night and say, “I don’t want to go to Hell, I don’t want to go to Hell,” and she’d be laying there crying. I could have run right in there and gave her the Gospel and she could have made a profession of salvation, but I let it get deeper into her memory. Know what I mean? That there is a Hell. And that will affect her whole life. That’s why she’s an obedient child.
[Barry Weaver, street preacher, quoted in Jim Naughton, “The Devil & Duffy Strode: In Marion, North Carolina, a Boy Preacher’s Hellfire Gospel Alarms a Quiet Community,” Liberty, Jan./Feb. 1989]

I've got a million of them:

After the missionary explained the Bible’s superior civilized plan of salvation to several natives, one of them replied, “Like you, we love our gods and seek to love one another. What we do not understand is why your god tried to pin down sin by using His son as a voodoo doll.” [Edward T. Babinski]

Evangelist = A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.[Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary]

According to the book of Revelation, Heaven is an eternal praise service; a service of compliment or flattery. God sits on his throne, attended by twenty-four harp-playing elders (Rev. 5:8) and some other dignitaries pertaining to his court [including 144,000 male virgins who have not been defiled by knowing a woman], and looks out over his miles and miles of tempestuous worshippers, and smiles, and purrs, and nods his satisfaction northward, eastward, southwards; as quaint and naive a spectacle as has yet been imagined in this universe, I take it. It is easy to see that the inventor of this image of heaven did not originate the idea, but copied it from the show-ceremonies of some sorry little sovereign state up in the back settlements of the Middle East somewhere. [Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth]

My friend Dorothy and I spent a weekend at Heritage USA, the born-again Christian resort and amusement park created by television evangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker. Dorothy and I came to scoff--but went away converted. Unfortunately, we were converted to Satanism. Now we’re up half the night going to witch’s sabbaths and have to spend our free time reciting the Lord’s Prayer backward and scouring the neighborhood for black dogs to sacrifice. Frankly, it’s a nuisance, but if it keeps us from going to the Heritage USA part of heaven, it will be worth it. [P.J. O’Rourke, Holidays in Hell]

The experts on Heaven disagree about which conglomeration of religious believers will qualify, but they always seem to think that they personally belong to that elite group. [Robert Anton Wilson, “Cheerful Reflections on Death and Dying,” Gnoware, February 1999]

Reporter (speaking to the famous Rev. Spurgeon): What will we do in heaven for eternity? Won’t we get bored?

Rev. Spurgeon: Nonsense. We will joyously sing and meditate on the sufferings of Christ that made the miracle of our salvation possible. As for myself, I could sing and meditate on the wounds round Jesus’s head for a billion years. Then focus on the wounds on his scourged back for the next billion. Then the wound in his right hand for a billion more, the wound in his left hand for a billion, the wound in his side for a billion. Then the wounds in his feet, each foot for a billion years.

Reporter: So, you’re saying there’s nothing worthy of a Christian’s time and devotion, nothing worth looking at, or singing about, for all eternity, except Jesus and his wounds?

Rev. Spurgeon: That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Reporter: So, ah... What’s hell going to be like?

(Above was based on actual replies of Rev. Spurgeon)

When Robert Ingersoll heard how Rev. Spurgeon planned to spend billions of years in heaven just staring at Jesus’s wounds, Ingersoll said, “I bet he even takes great delight in reading the genealogies of the Old Testament.”
[The Best of Robert Ingersoll, Robert E. Greeley, Ed.]

In this world of problems and woe, ignorance and confusion, is this the only world where anyone can be "saved?" Is it also the only place where you risk it all, risk eternity? I guess that makes our lives sound more exciting. Think about it, this world and this one life is the only time when you're truly in any danger throughout all eternity. It's the one time when infinite opportunities open up. This one puny little lifetime a few decades long is the absolute peak of excitement according to conservative dogmatic Christianity. So after we peak here and now, dancing a jig between eternal heaven and eternal hell, what can compare? What indeed. We can't die again and we can't ever go to hell. So isn't everything else relatively anti-climactic like an eternal drag on an eternal cigarette after all the action in bed is over? [Edward T. Babinski]

At 5/17/2008 10:33 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi James, what subjects are you interested in exploring?

At 5/18/2008 12:42 AM, Blogger James said...

I am going to buy the Gorringe book on salvation. I was curious what toher books your sould suggest along those lines. What helped you move from your more conservative/evangelical view of individual salvation to your current position?



At 6/05/2008 1:39 PM, Blogger Ian said...

Chris and James

Another interesting book on the subject is _What does It Mean to Be Saved?_ edited by John Stackhouse (Baker Academic)

I was hoping to do my PhD on a theology of technology and material culture... only to find that Gorringe had leapt ahead of me with his Theology of the Built Envronment: Justice, Empowerment, Redemption.

He's definitely a theologian worth grappling with.

Grace and peace

Australian Evangelical Alliance
Sydney, Australia


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