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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K092-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

For there to be such a thing as salvation, there must be someone to be saved, something from which they need to be saved, and some way in which they can be saved from it. ‘Salvation’ is primarily a religious term, and religious traditions typically assume that there is some basic religious problem that all people face. Monotheistic religions (for example, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Viśiṣṭādvaita and Dvaita Hinduism) whose central doctrine concerns God conceived as Creator and Providence take this basic problem to lie in the fact of sin. Human persons have sinned (knowingly acted against the will of God) and sinning has become habitual. Thus there is need for forgiveness and reformation, which are available only in God’s gracious pardon and restorative power. People can receive forgiveness and reformation through repentance and faith. Salvation by sheer self-effort is impossible. Nonmonotheistic traditions (for example, Buddhism, Jainism, Advaita Vedānta Hinduism) take a particular sort of ignorance to be the basic problem. The ignorance in question involves having false beliefs about the nature of persons and their cosmic environment. The proper treatment and cure is the achievement of an esoteric religious experience in which calm and bliss are accompanied by an understanding of the true nature of reality. The different traditions give very different accounts of what this nature is. Thus religious traditions differ greatly in the ways in which they conceive persons, their basic religious problem, and the proper treatment and cure. Secular notions of salvation, as in classical Marxism, tend to be secularizations of one or another religious conception – in the Marxist case, of the notion of the Kingdom of God.

Citing this article:
Yandell, Keith E.. Salvation, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K092-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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