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Introduction

The concept of salvation is an integral part of any religion, including Christianity[1]. Soteriology concerns the concept of salvation as a theory. There have been a number of eminent theologians to concentrate on the area of soteriology, and salvation. One of the most prolific and venerated topologists who had concentrated on learning and researching soteriology is Karkkainen, Veli- Mattti. Karkkainen, VeliMattti’s work into salvation have come to be cited by many successive studies and are considered the authority on soteriology. This coursework aims to critically analyze Karkkainen, Veli-Mattti’s methodological procedures, theological frameworks, biblical concepts and philosophical backgrounds.

Karkkainen

Unlike many other theologians who have concentrated on soteriology as a concept of salvation within each different denomination, Karkainnen’s concept of salvation is delineated in a way that it does accommodate the spectrum of Christian traditions, non-Chris religions, and other factors such as natural and social sciences[2]. Karkainnen’ makes a successful attempt at elucidating and conceptualizing salvation in way that is harmonious among many trends of Christianity, without downplaying the discrepancies between them.  The role of other Christian traditions, and non-Christian religions seems to be central to Karkkainen’s work, as he devotes around one quarter of his Spirit and Salvation: A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World, his seminal work in the concept of salvation, to cross analysis of the concepts of spirit and salvation in other non-Christian religions such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. By juxtaposing the concepts of spirit and spirituality in different religions, Karkkainnen highlights that there is an internal diversity. Karkkainnen also concentrates on how there has been interests in parsing the concept of salvation, let alone its outlining its temporal and logical steps in the process of attaining salvation.

Ecumenism

Ecumenism refers to efforts by Christians of different Church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings.[3] The term is also often used to refer to efforts towards the visible and organic unity of different Christian denominations in some form. Ecumenism can also be concerted efforts by Christians of all to cultivate closer relationships with each other, and ensure better understanding as a result.[4] Ecumenism can also be concerted efforts by Christian of all denominations to attain a pronounced and organic unity among different denominations of Christianity. Karkainne’s ‘Spirit and Salvation: A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World; suggests that Karkainne’s attempt to provide a balanced ecumenism within all the denominations, and non-Christian religions with regards to the concept of salvation has come to fruition. Unlike other theologians, Karkainen’s work on soteriology acknowledges that the concept of soteriology is multi-dimensional, and considers individual justification, sanctification, and deification in turn.

Lutheranism, Orthodox, Western, Eastern churches

Lutheranism also gets covered by the work of Karkainne. Lutheranism is one of the key branches of Protestant Christianity, and is based on the works of Martin Luther, a German theologian. Published in 1580, The Book of Concord contains ten documents Lutherans considers as the most credible and authoritative interpretation and explanation of the Holy Scripture. There are three elements by which Lutherans consider as indispensable in them being salvaged from their sins:

  • God’s grace alone (Sola Gratia),
  • through faith alone (Sola Fide),
  • on the basis of Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura).

Chapter 11 of Karkainne’s Spirit and Salvation: A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World considers the multi-dimensional concepts such as of God’s saving work, from individual justification, sanctification, and deification.  On the other hand, Karkkainne argues that Armenians’ special connection to the concepts of election and predestination, and how it had substantial impact for the logical sequence of salvation within Reformed. Karkainnen acknowledges that Lutheranism and Calvinism consider the righteousness of God being forthcoming based on sinner’s faith alone, as evidenced in the Book of Concord. On the other hand, reformed churches tenaciously believe that sinful men can only be declared virtuous by God through the gratification n of sin by a perfect alternative-  Jesus himself.[5] Thus, the Reformed view the concept of salvation from a vantage point of ‘elective work’ of God, according to Karakkeinan. Karkkeinne acknowledges that the different views regarding the temporal and logical sequence of how salvation works and how it is credited to the sinful man’s account constitute a bone of contention among the different denominations of Christianity, including Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.[6]The faults tines including the inconsistency regarding the definition and application of Christian theologies such as depravity, predestination, atonement, and, justification.[7] Karkkeinne argues that in the Christin West, ‘justification by faith’ has come to be cover all parts of salvation, and its connection with God. On the other hand, Karkkeinne notes how the concept of ‘justification’ is not existent at all in the Eastern church, and how ‘salvation’ is considered to be credit to the account of the sinful man in terms of union, deification and participation ‘in real life’.  Karkkeinne has considered that theology has played an essential role in this new dynamic involving contradicting views as to the concept of ‘justification’. Exacerbating the issue was the fact that the Greek anthrophony was given more positive perception, while Roman legal and juridical metaphors disappeared into the oblivion. The emergency of ‘justification’ as a central concept in salvation in the West was largely because of a number of factors during the Middle Ages (Mattes, 2004).[8]

  1. hierarchical society
  2. prominence of guilt
  3. condemnation
  4. penitential attitude

Ware (2015)[9], on the other hand, has enumerated a number distinctive concepts involving stereology within the Eastern Churches:

  1. Transformation
  2. Participation
  3. Partaking
  4. Intermingling
  5. Elevation
  6. Interpretation
  7. Transmutation
  8. Comingling
  9. Assimilation
  10. Reintegration

Karkkeinne (2016) argues that even though Eastern Orthodox theologians have been consistent with their idea of deification, there is not material substance in the Bible relating to the concept of deification. Karkkeinne cites the Petrine passage, which underscores the importance concept of being removed from corruption, and which has become to be understood in alignment with other concepts such as deification. Presenting these contradictory concepts relating to salvation, Karkainne attempted to critically analyze the role of soteriology in Eastern churches.

Post-modernism

The developments within the post-modernism area a directly detrimental to Karkkainen’s conceptualization of salvation.

Like salvation itself, ‘postmodernism’ is not easy to define, and it has come to be used in philosophy, literature, social sciences, and even architectures. Therefore, there is no uniformity as to how postmodernism is defined. Postmodernism has two parts: ‘post’ and ‘modern’. ‘Post’ is derived from Latin, and means ‘after’, while ‘modernism’ means the modern world. There is tends to be a tentative consensus as to how Rene Discartes, a French philosopher, mathematician and sciences, was the catalyst for the beginning of the modernism period as he was able to draw connections between geometry and algebra, becoming the first modern philosopher.

During postmodernism, people have become to abrogate their objective standards, and rely on emotion and intuition when it comes to sensing the world and using their judgement. James (2015) has concentrated on Karkkainen’s concepts regarding salvation, and concluded how people need to get rid of their post-modernism philosophies to be salvaged.[10] Post modernism as a philosophy has emerged in the late 20th century and has broad skepticism, subjectivism and relativism. These concepts such as skepticism, subjectivism and relativism which gird post-modernism present a prejudicial damage to the concept of salvation as presented and co

Relativism is one the key elements of postmodernism. On the other hand, Broad skepticism is an incredulous attitude or uncertainty towards a belief.  Cross (1915) had projected that the soteriology would be shaped by the new ideological concepts people would have in the future, and his work rendered to be applicable to that of Karkkainen’s.[11] The formulation of concepts relating to soteriology might not be applicable during the post-modernism are where people perceive everything with broad skepticism.

Ecumenical breakthrough

Karkkeine also notes the importance of ecumenism as can be suggested from the analysis of his work on salvation. His Karkkeinne cites the leadership and role of Professor Tuomo Mannerma, and his breath through ecumenism achievements by revising the Reformer’s canons regarding salvation. These and other breakthroughs have been conducive to more ecumenism, asserted Karkkeinne. David (2009) has drawn comparisons between the ‘justification’ concept in Lutheranism and the theosis in Orthodox, and has identified some underlying concepts relating to salvation in both braches and denominations.[12]  Based on his theoretical framework, Karkkeinne had an objective to ensure that the concept of salvation could be explained in more uniform terms as he considered ecumenism key to his conceptualization.

Theoretical framework

Like other theologians’ work, Karkkeine’s work has been shaped by a number elements, such as his theoretical   frameworks and biblical concepts. Regarding his theoretical framework, Karkkeine’s theoretical framework clearly involves comparing and contrasting the concept of salvation and the soteriology itself among most of the denominations of Christianity. As the above analysis provides, there are some discrepancies regarding the elements of salvation based on the Christian denominations. His theoretical frameworks have been conducive to the formulation of some ecumenism within the concept of salvation.  Regardless, it seems that Karkkaien has let his pursuit of ecumenism take precedence over discussing the concept of salvation within each denomination of Christianity. Furthermore, he also considered the soteriology in terms of Islam, and made unavailing attempts at drawing more similarities between the denominations of Christianity and Islam in terms of salvation. Despite these and other limitations, Karkainne’s Spirit and Salvation: A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World provides rich and robust explanation and analysis into the concept of salvation, and has been conducive to a certain level of ecumenism.

Biblical concepts

Karkkaine’s (2003) work, inadvertently or not, marginalizes the importance of the Bible in explaining and parsing the concepts such as salvation. For instance, in his seminal book ‘An Introduction to the Theology of Religions: Biblical, Historical & Contemporary Perspectives, he contends that ‘no comprehensive solution to this issue [Christianity’s relationship to non-Christian religions] can be found in the Bible, but it does offer some lead.’  His book on spirit and salvation, Karkainne’s Spirit and Salvation: A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World also seemed to concentrate on the opinions and arguments presented by the theologians, even though there are a number of references to the Bible when it comes to explaining the concepts.

Overall, it is conspicuous that Karkkaine tended to let biblical concepts take a back seat when researching more about concepts such as salvation, which is based on the Holy Bible.

Reviews of Karkainnen’s work

There have been a number of reviews on Karkainnen’s Volume 4 regarding salvation and spirit. For instance, McDoull (2017) argues that unlike far too many systematic theologies, Spirit and Salvation (Volume 4) articulates a helpful and robust pneumatology, corroborating what has been posited by Trostynaskiy (2010). Trostyanskiy (2010) has cited that Karkainnen’s theology into the concept of salvation and soteriology, as provided in his seminal Spirit and Salvation: A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World, and is considered the most comprehensive analysis of the concepts relating to salvation[13]. Furthermore, his work has been the precursor to more ecumenism. Dennis (2014) had considered the work of Karkainnen and cited them as ‘the most successful attempt yet to consider the concept of salvation in a multipolar world’. [14]

 Conclusion

To conclude, Karkkainen VeliMattti has made an invaluable contribution to the learning about soteriology and salvation from a number of different vantage points. He has made substantial contribution as in terms of juxtaposing the concepts of salvation in all every Christian denomination and even Islam. As the above analysis suggests, his work has been shaped by his theoretical framework and his views about biblical concepts. Even though he refrained from citing and referencing the biblical concepts as some theologians have asserted, his work has been conducive to more ecumenism.  Overall, Karkekkainen’s seminal book is a robust and rich conceptualization of salvation in almost every denomination of Christianity.

Reference

  • Barrett, Matthew. 2013. Salvation by Grace. Wheaton: Crossway.
  • Colijin, Brenda. 2010. Images of Salvation in the New Testament. Downers Grove: IVP.
  • Davidson, I. J & Rae M. 2011. God of Salvation: Soteriology in Theological Perspective. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Reynolds, James J. 2015. A Critical Analysis of the Interpretation of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. New York: Peter Lang
  • Gulley, Norman R. 2012. Systematic Theology: Creation, Christ, Salvation. Andrews University Press.
  • Olson, C Gordon. 2012. Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism. No Place: Global Gospel Publishers.
  • Mattes, M.  2004. The Role of Justification in Contemporary Theology
  • Ware, T. 2015. The Orthodox Church. An Introduction to Eastern Christianity.
  • Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. 2016. Spirit and Salvation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  • Voiss, James K. 2015. Rethinking Christian Forgiveness: Theological, Philosophical and Psychological Explorations. Missesota: Liturgical Press.
  • Aers, David. 2009. Salvation and Sin: Augustine, Langland, and Fourteenth Century Theology. University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Cross, George. The Modern Trend in Soteriology. The American Journal of Thology, Vol. 19, No. 1 (1915)
  • Trostyanskiy Sergey, 2010. Review on Veli – Matti Kärkkäinen, ed. Holy Spirit and Salvation: The Sources of Christian Theology . Louisville, KY: Westmins ter John Knox Press, 2010. 470 pp. Paperback $50.

[1] Barrett, Matthew. 2013. Salvation by Grace. Wheaton: Crossway.

[2]Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. 2016. Spirit and Salvation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[3] Colijin, Brenda. 2010. Images of Salvation in the New Testament. Downers Grove: IVP.

[4] Davidson, I. J & Rae M. 2011. God of Salvation: Soteriology in Theological Perspective. Farnham: Ashgate

[5] Reynolds, James J. 2015. A Critical Analysis of the Interpretation of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. New York: Peter Lang

[6] Gulley, Norman R. 2012. Systematic Theology: Creation, Christ, Salvation. Andrews University Press.

[7] Olson, C Gordon. 2012. Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism. No Place: Global Gospel Publishers

[8] Mattes, M.  2004. The Role of Justification in Contemporary Theology

[9] Ware, T. 2015. The Orthodox Church. An Introduction to Eastern Christianity.

[10] Voiss, James K. 2015. Rethinking Christian Forgiveness: Theological, Philosophical and Psychological Explorations. Missesota: Liturgical Press.

[11] Cross, George. The Modern Trend in Soteriology. The American Journal of Thology, Vol. 19, No. 1 (1915)

[12] Aers, David. 2009. Salvation and Sin: Augustine, Langland, and Fourteenth Century Theology. University of Notre Dame Press.

[13] Trostyanskiy Sergey, 2010. Review on Veli – Matti Kärkkäinen, ed. Holy Spirit and Salvation: The Sources of Christian Theology . Louisville, KY: Westmins ter John Knox Press, 2010. 470 pp. Paperback $50.

[14] Okholm, Dennis L. 2010. Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World. Downers Grove: Zondervan.


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