Acts 4: 5 -12 opens up the Scripture Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Verse 12 reads: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved”. Obviously this is a very Christian statement and would make no sense to a non-Christian.
Yet, even Christians may ask: What is salvation and what does it mean to be saved? It may sound like a very basic and simple question, but take a moment to reflect.
Different Christian groups will answer the question differently.
Beginning with Cyprian, bishop of Carthage in North Africa (248/49 – 258 A.D) to Vatican II, the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches held to the doctrine of “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” which means outside the church there is no salvation. All Christian denominations do agree with the Catholic Catechism that “all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his body” (CCC 846). Still, this makes sense only for Christians.
Can the term have any meaning to non-Christians? Can we say what we are saying in a language that a non-Christian would understand? In fact, for some Christians, salvation means being cleansed by Jesus’ blood for eternal communion with him. The futurist aspect of eternity in heaven (wherever that place may be) carries the more weight. For others, salvation is a very present reality and eternity begins here. Being here and in communion with Christ is therefore very important.
This aspect of being here and in communion is basic to all humanity. There is communion with all humanity and the whole creation. We attain this by connecting with the soul – which is eternal – and bridging the gap between it and the personality, or the flesh as Christians would call it. The agenda of the soul is love, peace, compassion, harmony, forgiveness. Couldn’t we say that is Jesus’ agenda too?
Non-Christians don’t have the term salvation in their discourse but they know about seeking harmony with the soul. The soul connects all humans together and when we are connected in harmony, bound in love, peace, compassion and forgiveness, there is salvation.