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This question is about the liberal versions of Christianity, the versions which don’t have a conception of Hell. Put simply, without Hell, just what exactly is Jesus saving me from?

Even the most liberal Christians say that sin is inescapable. So Jesus cannot be saving me from sin. Without Hell, he can’t be saving me from God either. Or the Devil.

I really don’t see how a liberal Jesus could be anyone’s personal saviour.


Question inspired by Nathaniel in the comments at Slacktivist.

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    Are there really any Christians who don't believe Jesus saves us from hell or from sin? Matthew 1:21 is quite explicit that Jesus saves from sin. Looks like a straw man question to me, more designed to state an opinion than to ask a real question. But if there actually are such Christians, then maybe it's a real question. I'd suggest getting more specific about who actually believes this. And if nobody does, just delete the question. – Lee Woofenden Jul 9 '15 at 20:11
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    I don't know of any Christian group that says there is no "hell" of some kind. Perhaps you are thinking of the universalist kind, who say all people go to heaven, however, the devil and the demons do not. I think, as Lee suggests, this needs to be framed a bit better. Who specifically are you talking about? – fredsbend Jul 10 '15 at 17:29
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    @TheFreemason Thanks for the link. The Wikipedia article doesn't discuss Unity's views on sin and hell. Are you aware of an article that does? And does Unity actually classify itself as a Christian denomination? – Lee Woofenden Jul 10 '15 at 17:46
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    I agree with Lee and Fred. Please demonstrate that this is a real belief so that it moves from a hypothetical question to a concretely answerable one. – Mr. Bultitude Jul 10 '15 at 18:21
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    @TRiG How do you define "Hell?" There are plenty of Christians who believe that Jesus saved us from Hell, but they probably would not define Hell as a metaphysical realm/afterlife of eternal suffering. – Ryan Jul 13 '15 at 5:38
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"Liberal Christianity" is a loosely defined and wide-ranging group, and there can be many approaches to salvation, but let me describe a commonly believed approach.

While we often use the word 'salvation' as if it was synonymous with 'rescue', in the original languages it doesn't really mean that in a simple way. The word has connections with both 'healing' and 'wholeness'. It would be as reasonable to say that "Jesus heals us" or "Jesus makes us whole" as to say "Jesus saves us". In fact many 'liberal' Christians are driven by a desire to get away from a 'caricatured' Christianity, in which Jesus' only reason for coming was to make sure that we don't go to Hell when we die, and our only purpose on Earth is to tell other people how they can avoid Hell.

Thoughtful evangelicals will usually admit that Jesus does more than just rescue us from Hell. He restores our relationship with God and with each other; he saves us from the guilt which our sins have brought us; he heals us in body and mind, from broken-ness brought on not just by our own sin, but by others and by the world around us; he restores creation to the state God intended; he gives us "life in abundance". All of those things can be done not just in the future, but here and now, and all fall under the category of 'healing' or 'wholeness', and therefore also of 'salvation'. And he does them personally for each one of us.

Those are the sort of thing you will hear if you talk to a 'liberal' Christian about a Jesus who saves.

  • This is a great answer : ) – anonymouswho Jan 31 '17 at 14:43
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Without Hell, from what does Jesus save? Even the most liberal Christians say that sin is inescapable. So Jesus cannot be saving me from sin.

If one were to exclude consideration of the eternal state, faith in Jesus has other benefits.

  1. Knowledge of truth.

John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

  1. Freedom from the compulsive power of sin.

Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

  1. An increase in the knowledge of the will of God.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

  1. A new mind.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

  1. The Holy Spirit as a guarantee.

2 Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

  1. The ministry of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

  1. Freedom from worldly entanglement.

1 John 2:15-16 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

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I thought it was always apparent that Jesus was saving us from death. I'm formerly a strict Pentecostal, and even though I believed in Hell I still always thought it was meant to be presented this way.

Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.

John 8:51

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Revelation 20:14

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

John 10:28

Honestly, believing in Hell just seems to complicate the matter; why does Jesus keep saying that only He can give you eternal life? How can you be conscious for all eternity, but not alive?

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    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. In particular, answers here must focus specifically on answering the question, from the requested perspective. Though your answer does start to answer the question, it then veers off into discussion, which isn't what this site is about. See: How we are different than other sites. Meanwhile, I hope you'll stick around and read some of the other questions and answers here. – Lee Woofenden Apr 15 '16 at 0:50
  • No, Christians still die. As your quotation from John indicates, there is a 'second death' - an eternal judgement - which is part of what Jesus saves us from. – EleventhDoctor Feb 2 '17 at 21:31

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