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Soteriology is the study of religious doctrines of salvation, which are a feature of various religions.

Salvation theory occupies a place of special significance and importance in some religions. In the academic field of religious study, soteriology is understood by scholars as signifying a key theme in a number of different religions, and is often studied in a comparative context: i.e., comparing various ideas about what salvation is, and how it is obtained.

The more universal religious significance of the word is reflected in its etymological roots, as derived from the Greek sōtērion "salvation" (from sōtēr "savior, preserver") + logos (study, or word)].[1]

Christian soteriology

Christian soteriology is the study of how God ends the separation people have from God due to sin by reconciling them with God's self.[2] Many Christians believe they receive the forgiveness of sins,[3] life,[4] and salvation, [5] bought by Jesus through his blood having been shed,[6], innocent suffering, death, and resurrection from the dead three days later.[7] Christian soteriology examines how an individual is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and reconciled to God.[8] Humankind is saved from both physical and spiritual destruction, the resulting condemnation of one's sin[9],

The different soteriologies found within the Christian tradition can be grouped into distinct schools:

Soteriology in other religions

Islamic soteriology focuses on how humans can repent of and atone for their sins so as not to occupy a state of loss.

Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God, meant to bring one into union with God. But a person's state of mind has to be detached from this world, with the understanding that this world is a temporary abode and their soul has to remain untouched by pain, pleasure, greed, emotional attachment, praise, slander and above all, egotistical pride. Thus their thoughts and deeds become "Nirmal" or pure and they merge with God or attain "Union with God", just as a drop of water falling from the skies merges with the ocean.

Pagan religions are numerous and diverse, but some archetypes and themes are shared, although not universally. Pagan savior figures can be seen in harvest deities who are sacrificed to become food, sustenance so that the religious community may have continuing life. This may take the form of a sacrificial animal hunted, or an agricultural deity, frequently a grain god who becomes bread and beer. In the pagan mystery religions, salvation was less worldly and communal, and more a mystical belief concerned with the continued survival of the individual soul after death. [10] Savior gods associated with this theme are often dying and resurrected gods, such as Osiris, Tammus, Adonis, and Dionysos. A complex of soteriological beliefs was also a feature of the pagan cult of Cybele and Attis. [11]

Frequently pagan soteriology involves a journey after death to the underworld realm of the dead, where eternal life is won. The similarity of themes and archetypes to later Christianity has been pointed out by many authors, including the fathers of the early Christian church. One common assumption is that early Christianity borrowed these myths and themes from the earlier pagan religions, who already possessed the idea of a dying and resurrected savior god, who was born of a human mother and a divine father; and who was associated with the sun, and various other commonalities between Christianity and its pagan precursors. [12] Some Christians however consider these similarities as arising from remnants of the initial beliefs handed down by man's common ancestors. [13]

In Vedic (Hinduism) religion, individual salvation is not—as is often alleged—pursued to the neglect of collective well-being. "The principle on which the Vedic religion is founded," observes the Sage of Kanchi, "is that a man must not live for himself alone but serve all mankind." Varna dharma in its true form is a system according to which the collective welfare of society is ensured. Hinduism, which teaches that we are caught in a cycle of death and rebirth called saṃsāra, contains a slightly different sort of soteriology, as noted above, devoted to the attainment of transcendent moksha (liberation). For some, this liberation is also seen as a state of closeness to Brahman.

The purpose of Buddhist practice is liberation from suffering as a Bodhisattva with empirical methods.[clarification needed]

Jainism emphasizes penance and asceticism meant to lead to a liberation and ascendance of the soul. Epicureanism is primarily concerned with temperance and simple life as a means to the absence of pain or freedom from anxiety (αταραξία) and Stoicism is concerned with the cultivation of virtues such as fortitude and detachment to improve spiritual well-being. Shinto and Tenrikyo similarly emphasize working for a good life by cultivating virtue or virtuous behavior, and many practitioners of Judaism also emphasize morality in this life over concern with the afterlife. In Falun Dafa (traditional Chinese: 法輪) salvation refers to cultivation practice, or xiu lian, a process of giving up human attachments and assimilating to the Buddha Fa( Fǒ, Fǎ), or the fundamental characteristic of the universe, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance ( zhen, shan, ren).

See also

Further reading

  • John McIntyre, The shape of soteriology: studies in the doctrine of the death of Christ (T&T Clark, 1992)


Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Soteriology. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  1. "soteriology", definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  2. Rom. 5:10-11
  3. I John 1:9 and Acts 2:38
  4. Rom. 8:11 and Gal. 2:20
  5. Rom. 5:9-10 and 1 Thess. 5:9
  6. Hebrew 9:22 King James Bible,
  7. Romans 6:3-5
  8. Eph. 2:8-10
  9. Romans 6:23
  10. Pagan Theologies: Soteriology
  11. Giulia Sfameni Gasparro. Soteriology and mystic aspects in the cult of Cybele and Attis. 
  12. Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth
  13. Don Richardson. Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World.