If one believes that there is nothing a person can do to be saved, it is then incoherent to say there is something one must do in order to be saved; and that, believe.
Quite simply, God is goodness itself. We are icons of God, and since God is actively present in the world, we are drawn to that which is good. That presence is called grace. That draw is called “pistis” in Greek, translated as faith (not episteme). Atonement is found in participation with the good; the “hilasterion”, the “place of atonement”. The experience of doing good, which is atonement, is transformative. This is salvation.
There is always this idea of individual and general resurrection in theology and this is what most equate salvation with. This, then, is the former, individual salvation. For humanity, and given the Jewish understanding of temple practices, Jesus is the High Priest and his sacrifice is for all people and the act itself, regardless of what anyone thinks, feels, believes about it, is expiation. To depart from that idea is to not understand Judaism nor the relation between Israel and Jesus. General resurrection is, on this view, humanity’s response to God’s restoration of the world through mankind itself, made possible through Christ.
Grace and faith are gifts from God, efficacious entirely, for salvation. These are universal because God is omnipresent and he has created us all, bent toward the good. If so, then “pistis Christou” implies salvation is though the faithfulness of Christ, not faith in Christ.
One cannot decide what to believe about Christ or about God; we always believe what we think some case is. To say belief (episteme) is required for salvation is to say Adam is superior to Christ because damnation is most certainly universal but salvation is not. Too, putting belief as a requirement for salvation is to begin enjoining ideas of gnosis. In that case, one ought to read Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” for insights on such ideas; ideas that have ultimately encroached and embedded themselves in Christianity as many understand it today.
We are icons of God. We are sacraments of God through Christ any time we enjoin the good. We in God and God in us, each time we do. Transformed with each encounter. To coin a phrase from Eastern Orthodoxy and the early church fathers, the teleology being “theosis”.
There is little reason to scripturally suggest epistemic beliefs — propositions about God and Christ that must be believed on command, on coercion, on threat — get us anything but fear and certainly not salvation.
Where, after all, is a single doctrine or creed from Jesus the Nazarene?
Just a thought.