We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.
Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk
Friday, March 28, 2014
All societies have to work out a balance between the individual person and the collective society, but in general even in our day Asian societies tend to lean toward overt emphasis on the importance of the collective. Ancient biblical cultures were still less overtly individualistic than are modern cultures, especially in the West. Salvation, thus, was also much more a matter of the collective society individuals lived within, be it the tribe, the nation, or the church. Jesus' conception of the Kingdom reflects that balance that leans toward the collective. We may go to heaven or hell individually (for those who believe in that sort of eternal judgment), but we will enter the Kingdom together as the whole of the human race.
The real point here is that salvation is a complex and nuanced question, much more so than is widely acknowledged in churches today. It is not only a question of "am I saved," but also one of "are we saved." And there is no question that the spiritual well-being of the church we attend has a direct bearing on our own spirituality—at least for those who take their faith and their community of faith seriously. So, if we see salvation as being a state in which we currently live and not just a future destination then it is as much collective as it is individual. That is to say, the "I" and the "We" in salvation are always in play, always a concern, and always to be taken into consideration. Amen.