Welcome to Songs of Salvation! Each Sunday I will feature a Christian author sharing a "Song of Salvation" to uplift and encourage believers and glorify God.
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12:11 NLT
Authors, find out how to share your Song of Salvation here.
Those of you who come to this site to hear the testimony of authors, I’m willing to guess the following: none of you were expecting a language discussion.
Yet the perfectness of God and the imperfections of the language with which we try to understand him is at the heart of my discussion.
I grew up Catholic in North Carolina. North Carolina, when I was a kid, had the lowest concentration of Catholics in the U.S. Though sometimes uncomfortable, I did not face what one could call “real” persecution. My high school’s Fellowship of Christian athletes would often attend Sunday services at the churches of members. We could get 30+ students at any Protestant service. However, when we attended a Catholic service, only five showed up (including myself and another Catholic). I also occasionally came across well-intentioned people who felt it their duty to tell me why I was going to suffer eternal damnation. In grad school, it even led to a break-up with a girlfriend. Overall, though, this was no big deal.
However, I struggled with one point of theology. As a Catholic, I had Baptism (as a baby), First Holy Communion (second grade), and Confirmation (high school). This was all part of my upbringing. My Protestant friends, though, had a single point in time where they could say they were “saved.” I didn’t have one.
I had faith in my beliefs, but it bothered me that I didn’t have a point in time when I was “saved.”
As a teenager, I attended a lot of Catholic high school retreats where I got to grow in my faith. I remember at one such retreat putting the question of “being saved” to one of the priests there, a jovial, blond-haired guy from Iowa who went by the moniker of Father Bud. Father Bud responded that the original Greek texts of the New Testament, for the passage of being saved, used what is called an aorist tense. The aorist tense is not a point in time. It is a constant on-going state. To put it another way, for someone to be saved, one would need to say the following: “I was saved. I am saved. I will be saved.”
I nodded. I had a theological answer. I had an answer that made sense. It fit the “book” answer that I preferred to most questions in my life. However, I didn’t grow up with an aorist tense. The true meaning of what Father Bud has said would take a while to internalize.
And I would have to go to Japan to do it,
I spent several years in Japan in the early 90s. One of the things I learned there was that the Japanese language has only two tenses. Present and future are said the same way, and you tell the difference by putting in a time qualifier. In Japanese, things are either finished or unfinished.
And that fits me.
While I’m on Earth, I’m unfinished. The day I reach Heaven, I’ll be finished.
I looked up Father Bud on the internet. He’s now a professor at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. He doesn’t remember me, but he does remember the seminar. He laughed and said his answer showed that he was freshly out of the seminary.
I know what he meant.
Faith is never a seminary answer. Faith is never a neat answer. However, faith and believing is the way.
Thank you for reading this.
** I invited Walt to share his testimony on my site after having read his book. I was so impressed with his obvious love for the Lord that comes through in it!
At one time I thought that Catholics couldn’t be saved, but I have long since realized the error of that thinking. There is only one way for us to be saved and that is through faith alone in Christ’s sacrifice. While there are differences in what I believe and Roman Catholics beliefs, there are also differences in what I believe from what other Christians do. If you would like to read more on this, here are a couple of articles that might be helpful:
Phyllis – Among the Reads