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Conditional Salvation?

I heard George Barna speak at the FAM Conference here at Azusa Pacific University this week. I would say that Barna is the most quoted voice in Christianity, so what he says--and what he believes--is important.

I took issue with something he said in his talk. (God--and George--forgive me if I misheard him, but this is what I walked away with.)

Barna said that we have "marketed salvation" wrong. We've made it free when there's actually a cost to it. Yes, it cost Jesus, he said, but we've made it too simplistic with "free." He said that in our culture "free" means you don't have to do anything for it. But, in his view, for there to be salvation, there must be brokenness--that the person must experience brokenness to genuinely receive salvation.


The Barna Group research (of which George is no longer a part because he sold it in 2009) revealed in 2003 that a person's response to the meaning and personal value of Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection is usually determined before a person reaches eighteen. In fact, a majority of Americans make a lasting determination about the personal significance of Christ's death and resurrection by age 12.

How broken can a child be to receive salvation? And how biblical is this view? I've kept thinking about Ephesians 2:8-9: "It is by the grace of God that you are saved--and that NOT of yourselves. It is the free gift of God--not of works--lest anyone should boast."

I once believed that for people to receive salvation, they also needed to understand lordship--that they were giving up everything and following Jesus as their "boss." I don't believe that anymore. I think whenever we add conditions to receiving what Christ did for us on the cross, we are acting against God's will. Who among us fully understood the Christian faith when we chose to follow Christ? Like a child, we come to him and he receives us. Our understanding is limited.

While it may be true that conversions are dramatic and spiritual growth steep when someone comes to Christ in a time of crisis, it is no less true that those who come to Christ without crisis aren't also fully accepted and received into the kingdom of God.

Posted at 09:17


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