Salvation requires your participation. You cannot “get there” or “get it” as if it is a destination or an object to possess. So, the various transaction based theories of soteriology are undone in saying of primary importance, “There’s nothing you can do to earn salvation”. That’s of course because choices are “things we do” and commitments to act, but more importantly, that this belief about salvation is true, but only in the sense that salvation is not objectifiable or, that attaining or possessing salvation is literally out of our hands entirely. The latter completely removes any need for evangelism and any real need for personal accountability because God literally does not have any meaningful qualifications by which he chooses whom he will save. With that idea too, is the utter bastardization of Jesus and any reason he lived and died as he did. If it is true, this false dichotomy of faith versus works, then nothing is true about Christianity because all meaning of it has been lost.
But we know this unthoughtful balderdash isn’t so! We know it from Philosophy, we know it from Psychology, we know it from Linguistics in Dialectics and in speech acts: Belief is an attitude of how one is disposed, or relating to, some idea about a state of affairs. We cannot choose what that disposition will be. Unless one isn’t genuinely after what the case is, or is psychologically impaired, or is making an ethical choice such as “benefit of the doubt” or applying the “principle of charity”, we will always believe what appears to be the case to us. And if one needs to justify this obvious fact of circumstance using scripture for proof-text, quite a bit of time could be spent on the Greek term “pistis” (πίστης). One would find that when it concerns faith, it is “to be pursuaded” or “to be drawn toward”. As it is translated as belief, of the more than 250 times pistis and its conjugates appear in the New Testament, it is “to act” in nearly every instance, and when we would otherwise be confused with two opposing sayings like “all things are permissable” and “everything not of faith is sin”, we have a lot of clarity!
Belief is classically then, to act on faith. In plain English, the willingness to act committedly toward the object of belief. It turns out that this presentation agrees exactly with what Analytic Philosophers and Psychologists define belief by: a commitment to act. The only thing missing from the puzzle is what the object of Christian belief is. It turns out not to be Christ himself! It is through Christ that object of belief is revealed, according to scripture. That object revealed is God, or at least in as much as we can say the ineffable can be known or “acted toward in a committed way”, the intent God has toward us. That intent, “Logos”, “Memra”, embodied by Jesus is love and human well-being, which is to say, goodness. It happens that grace has meant our perception of goodness in the world. It is grace, goodness in the world that indeed saves.
The entire Gospel of Jesus is that the Kingdom Of God has come and that we’re all participants in it when we are committed to the goodness of life, just as Jesus has shown, just as God intended for us from the beginning, just as the sacrifice of Christ solidifies a divine commitment in unconditional surrender to abundant life too, which includes everyone whether they ask for it or not. This is the only truth to the Protestant idea that nothing you can do can earn your salvation. But that’s because it’s everyone’s gift, and one we all enjoy participating in, even to say without it, there’s likely no one who would find life meaningful at all.
We have to begin to realize that not everyone wants to talk about God just as not everyone finds mathematics or origami even remotely interesting.
Realizing this, and realizing that “salvation is by grace through faith for those who believe” is jargon for “your life will forever change when you do what your heart is compelling you to do, and each time you do, you are somebody else’s savior”, you can connect with others through the life of Christ without the baggage of religion, finding there’s a huge difference between someone who doesn’t know Christian creeds and theology or outright rejects them, and someone who also at the same time is exactly Christ risen themselves; a participant of the Kingdom because she showed up with her sleeves rolled up.
Just a thought.