World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


Chapter 10: Salvation--Liberation--Enlightenment

1. Grace
2. Universal Salvation
3. Atonement and Forgiveness of Sins
4. Healing
5. Liberation
6. Enlightenment
7. Crossing the Waters
8. Reversal and Restoration
9. Peace
10. Help and Deliverance
11. The Refining Fire
12. Born Anew
13. Eternal Life
14. The Unitive State

Due to humankind's condition of depravity, ignorance, and bondage to desire, the task of reaching the goal and purpose of life is no simple matter. Chains must be broken, sins forgiven, and ignorance dispelled. Causes of spiritual and physical oppression and bondage must be removed. Once that is done, people may come into intimate communion with God, become clear about the truth of reality, have their innate energies liberated, recover their original selves, and find peace. This process, and its goal, is called variously salvation, liberation, and enlightenment. It is the prerequisite for proper fulfillment of the purposes of life described in Part One.

We begin with a discussion of grace, the divine mercy that wills our salvation. We are in desperate need of grace, for--according to religious teachings with a severe view of human fallenness--we are hopelessly lost, corrupted, and afflicted by evil. The second section extends the theme to the question of universal salvation: is God's grace so all-encompassing and irresistable that all humankind will ultimately be saved? In the remainder of this chapter we gather passages which describe salvation, liberation, and enlightenment under twelve heads which cover a broad range of meanings: (1) atonement, forgiveness, and cleansing of sins; (2) healing of the ills of both body and soul; (3) liberation from the bondage of sin or the fetters of craving; (4) enlightenment, by which primordial ignorance is overcome through wisdom; (5) a journey, crossing the waters of life's suffering to find the shore and solid ground; (6) reversal of an upside-down world or restoration of a broken reality to its original trueness; (7) peace and a calm spirit; (8) help and deliverance in times of distress or oppression; (9) the refining fire to smelt away impurities of the heart; (10) the experience of being born anew as a new person and a child of God; (11) eternal life, the state where death has no sway; and (12) the unitive state of mystic oneness with all Reality.


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