After a semester studying soteriology, how has my view of salvation changed? It has not. I have, however, increased my ability to articulate my view.
Salvation is an unwarranted gift of grace from God offered to all of humanity. All the children of Adam and Eve are born into sin and death. Humanity has distanced itself from God and has brought corruption into God’s good creation. God, in his infinite mercy, looked down and saw that there was no one to rescue humanity from her fall, so he decided to save her himself (Isaiah 63:5). As his voice created all things ex nihilo at the genesis, so his eternal Λόγος came “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:1) and to make “all things new” (Rev 21:5).
God the Eternal Son freely condescended himself and was born of the Virgin Mary. Fully God and fully human, he came to take on humanity’s corruption and to redeem it into the New Creation. As God the Holy Spirit hovered over Jesus at his baptism — just as he had at the genesis — God the Father declared that all who desire to be made anew through Jesus shall become his adopted sons and daughters. The waters of baptism — baptismus fluminus — and/or the real desire for unity with the Messiah — baptismus Flaminus —, regenerate humans and bring them a new birth through the Holy Spirit. Through baptism, humans are brought into the death of Christ and raised into his resurrected life. Humanity is brought into the ark of his Holy Church and made one with the communion of saints who eternally participate in the divine life of the Triune God.
Salvation is solo Christo. Jesus’ baptismus sanguinis finished on the cross is the only source of humanity’s salvation. Without the blood of Christ freely offered for all on the cross there is no adoption by the Father and no communion with the Holy Spirit. Jesus is indeed “the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6). How his baptismus sanguinis is effective and why his death and suffering was required to bring the New Creation for humanity, I do not venture define. God’s ways are very different from ours (Isaiah 55:8). For me, it is the Church’s mission to simply trust in God’s divine providence, grace, and mercy. Unworried about the mechanisms of how or why, we are called (Matt 28:16-20) to proclaim the Good News of the salvation offered by Jesus to the world and to baptize all who will believe into the regenerating new birth of Jesus’ death and resurrection.