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The Psychology of Salvation

The article ("The Psychology of Salvation: Recovering, Reframing, and Reclaiming the Early Quaker Experience") is a good read regarding the psychological aspect of Christian salvation (Quaker's perspective). It deals with the important psychological aspects of cognitive dissonance, metanoia, and the use of ego defense mechanisms in Christian theology. For more on church psychology and ego defense mechanisms, please refer to my other posts also ("More on church psychology,"Understanding the psychology of the Plymouth Brethren/Kerala Brethren," and "Understanding the psychology of Pentecostals").

Many Christians today are sociopaths. Satan has blinded them with sociopathic ideologies like Calvinism, which makes them think that God ignores and condones their evil behavior. They think they they live under the dispensation of grace and thus, they can freely sin without any consequences. They think they can abuse God and also their fellow human beings. I've learned that by knowing a person's view of salvation and sin, you can know if they'll make a good friend or moreover a spouse. Anyone who thinks they can abuse grace is the wrong person to befriend or be in a relationship with (they are sociopaths), as they will have the tendency to be abusive towards you, cheat on you, dump you, etc. Such people don't see anything wrong with themselves, and have a low rate of cure (changing themselves for the better). Thus, you'll be likely stuck with an abusive sociopath for the rest of your life while they destroy you and hurt you.

Calvinists and similar groups within Protestants project (an ego defense mechanism) their ongoing sinful behavior and the guilt of it onto Jesus Christ (this is done through their doctrines like imputed righteousness and penal substitutionary atonement). This is why they claim that all of their past, present and future sins are forgiven. By doing this, they suppress (another ego defense mechanism) the requirement for metanoia (change of heart/character) which the Bible clearly teaches. They just continue to sin without seeing the need to actually change. This in turn has created a sociopathic mentality in them (a dead conscience). They use circular reasoning (a sociopathic tactic) to justify their sinful behavior and the false doctrines they use for their defense. Projecting your ongoing evil behavior onto someone else will never help you to change. Instead, it creates sociopathic degenerates. Just look at the examples of Martin Luther (refer to "None dare call them sociopaths"), Martin Luther King, Jr. (refer to "Don't ever put your trust in humans"), George Sodini (refer to "As a Father"), the 400 pastors involved in the Ashley Madison website scandal (refer to "The carnal state of Christians/Apostasy"), and various "Christian" political leaders and pastors who are trying to redefine God's commandments given in the Bible (refer to "The destructive effects of sin excusing doctrines/ideologies"). They are only the tip of the iceberg. I've come across a Calvinist in recent times who had the audacity to question where sociopaths are mentioned in the Bible and what God's judgment is against them. It indicates that there are deluded "Christians" out there who think there isn't anything wrong with sociopathy. That's what is really scary. The Bible clearly describes sociopathy and condemns it (as well as narcissism) in passages like- 2 Timothy 3:1-9 and 1 Timothy 4:1-2. God's pending judgment against against such wicked people is clearly stated in so many passages. Couple of passages which come into my mind are- Matthew 13:36-43Isaiah 13:11Proverbs 11:21, etc. To list all of the verses in the Bible which deal with this is a difficult task. The following article cites verses which deals with the punishment of the wicked ("The Punishment of the Wicked"), however, I'm not sure if it's an exhaustive list.

George Amoss, Jr. (the author of the above article-"The Psychology of Salvation: Recovering, Reframing, and Reclaiming the Early Quaker Experience") writes,
"According to traditional Christian doctrine, if human beings are to be saved or rescued from death, they must be saved from sin.[47] The reason for that is implicit in Paul's statement that "Wherefore, by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned...."[48] Paul ties death to Adam's[49] sin that resulted in his "fall" from Paradise--and ties our fate to Adam's because we inherit his now-fallen nature. But a crucial question is what it means to be saved from sin.

In what follows, we will focus on the Quaker reaction against the principal Protestant/Reformed conception of salvation, which remains current today. First, however, a brief look at the Catholic view is in order. For the Catholic tradition, salvation is mediated through the sacraments, the major rituals of the church. The sacrament of baptism is believed to transform the essential nature of the soul, but that "regeneration"[50] has no practical effect on a person's basic orientation or behavior. The baptized person is, therefore, constantly in danger of falling into sinful behavior, and needs to receive sufficient strength through sacramentally-mediated "grace"--a spiritual commodity in the "economy of salvation"[51]--to avoid seriously sinful acts, so that death finds one free from "mortal" (damning) sin. The possibility of sanctity in this life is acknowledged, but it is expected that almost all persons will fall short of that goal and will continue to sin throughout their lives. Consequently, and because the sacraments are considered to be the most efficacious means of securing the graces needed for salvation, metanoia and moral perfection do not hold the central position that they hold in Quaker thought. Friends rejected the idea of a spiritual transformation that changed nothing sensible, as they rejected the doctrines of sacraments (or any media) and commoditized grace as "popish inventions, whereby Christ is denied come in the flesh, the everlasting priest, and something set up instead of his way...."[52]

Whether Catholic or Protestant, traditional Christianity exonerates God by placing responsibility for evil upon human beings. But it eases our personal feeling of responsibility by attributing our evil to an unfortunate inheritance--a depraved "nature," or essential being--from "our first parents."[53] On the one hand, that doctrine seems to recognize that there may be a biological or, as we would say today, evolutionary basis for at least some of our selfishness. On the other hand, it projects responsibility for our selfishness onto those mythical parents--projection being, like denial, a defense mechanism, a means of reducing the stress of inner conflict.

Correspondingly, the traditional Protestant solution to sin and guilt also involves projection: it is claimed that our guilt for sin has been placed on the scapegoat[54] Jesus, and that believers will be saved from its effects after death simply by giving cognitive acceptance to that mythic substitution. In the meantime, righteousness is "imputed" to them now, which means that their actual unrighteousness is ignored by a legal fiction.[55] In this system, salvation from sin means only that God overlooks the sins of believers because they accept a transaction between him and Jesus. In practice, believers continue in their fallen state, continuing to do evil in this life. That doctrine is summed up in the bumper sticker slogan, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." In terms of cognitive theory, traditional Protestant Christianity eases the dissonance caused by the biblical call to moral perfection and real justice by assimilating it into its sola fide ("by faith alone") doctrinal schema through a convenient interpretation of Paul's doctrine of imputed righteousness.[56]

Quakers, however, denounced that as "preaching up sin" and called it a doctrine of the devil. "I know," wrote Nayler, "there are a people who have a desire to heaven more than to holiness; and they, lest they should spoil their carnal delights, have in their brain-imagination conceited a justification without sanctification...." [57] "That is the devil's hope, which hopes not freedom from sin as much as freedom from hell." [58] The Friends could accept neither the dodge of projection nor the cheap grace of imputed "righteousness" as a means of maintaining cognitive consistency: any schema that allows evil to be rationalized must be changed to accommodate Jesus' call to perfection through love. They argued that Paul's concept of imputation refers to an actual and effective, not merely nominal or fictional, infusion of righteousness through conversion into the nature of Christ--i.e., love. "[T]he creature becomes God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, by which he becomes free from the evil; dead to sin, but alive to God's righteousness...." [59] Faith is trust in the reality and efficacy of that infusion, that re-creation of our sense of who we are and what matters most, and fidelity to its leadings. And faith leads to salvation, the moral perfection of the primary orientation to love, attained by joining with the life of God in the heart and expressed naturally in a life of justice, mercy, and peace." (end quote)

***Note- regarding the author's statement about "mythic substitution"- I believe what he meant was that Quaker teachers like George Fox taught that Christ's sacrifice is properly known only within and cannot be understood "outwardly," as through speculation about the mechanism of atonement. To understand more about the penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) view and a refutation of it (a view widely held among Protestant groups), please refer to "Understanding Substitution and Moral Government"). Please also refer to the following article to see the problems with PSA ("Does the Bible say Jesus was our scapegoat?").

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