The Theology of the Old Testament

By Otto J. Baab | Go to book overview

5. Salvation in the Old Testament

SALVATION signifies the help that men receive from their religion. It may be defined so as to concentrate attention upon deliverance from evil in the future life, or it may be made more inclusive to embrace also escape from the evils of this present world. It may be freely used for the secular or mundane activities by means of which man struggles to emancipate himself from ignorance, prejudice, fear, and insecurity with the help of forces in the natural order which are amenable to his control. On the other hand, salvation may relate exclusively to the process instigated and continued by a nonhuman Power believed to have a will independent of man's and a purpose which transcends his. If this Power is defined with the theistic vocabulary of the Old Testament, salvation must be regarded as strictly theocentric as to the nature of the process, its goals, and its driving force.

Salvation of one kind or another appears in religions universally, although religions which stress a personal God and the possibility of human intercourse with him are usually called religions of salvation in contrast with those that do not. Since human need appears in every culture and community without regard to race or degree of civilization, some form of salvation will also appear. If this need is reduced to its lowest terms, the fundamental drives of mankind for physical, sexual, and social satisfaction are encountered. For the realization of these drives and the satisfaction of the needs which they represent man turns to religion as an important resource.

Salvation is a general term, then, covering the nature of the several human needs and the activities which must be carried on to meet them. These activities, when the term salvation is used in the religious sense, involve both the deeds of God and the response of man. The local Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, or the American Federation of Labor may engage in programs for community betterment; but their work cannot be spoken of as salvation, except in a broad and practically meaningless sense. Man's efforts to improve the social order or to perfect the mechanical tools with which he earns a living, although they bear upon the subject of religion, are not in themselves aspects

-114-

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The Theology of the Old Testament
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 11
  • 1: The Study of Old Testament Theology 13
  • 2: The Meaning of God 23
  • 3: The Nature of Man 54
  • 4: The Idea of Sin 84
  • 5. Salvation in the Old Testament 114
  • 6: The Kingdom of God 156
  • 7: Death and the Hereafter 198
  • 8: The Problem of Evil 226
  • 9: The Validity of Old Testament Theology 250
  • Selected Bibliography 273
  • Index of Biblical Passages 275
  • Index of Subjects 279
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