Accepting Jesus as Personal Savior? (Part 2)

In the first part, I discussed exegetically and theologically some of the challenges when talking about “accepting Jesus”.  In this second (and much shorter) part and conclusion, I will address the problems with the second part of the statement, referring to Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

The terminology “personal Lord and savior” is problematic because it is not biblical in any way. Scripture never calls Jesus our personal savior, scripture refers to Jesus as the savior of the world. Our relationship with God is not simply “me and Jesus” but it includes the Body of Christ, the church, with whom we must be joined in order to be a faithful follower of Jesus. When we speak of Jesus as our personal savior, then we have no need of a broader body. For instance, I have a personal computer that I do not need to share with others and I have a personal refrigerator in my office which I purchased, and which belongs to me, and is used for my items.

Jesus is not my personal savior or your personal savior. Jesus is the savior of the world. You see, either God is God or not. If Jesus is our personal savior, then the door opens for us to understand others to have different personal saviors, which would certainly be okay because person a can have a personal savior and person b can have a personal savior, but since they are different people, their personal saviors can be different. This reduces the stretch of God and opens the door for pluralism (or universalism), something which evangelicals (those who primarily use this “accepting” and “personal” language) certainly do not want.

Finally, scripture tells us that we did not choose Jesus, but Jesus chose us (John 15:16). Perhaps a better way to talk about this experience is that we have responded to God’s call. There certainly has to be some sort of response, because if God has called us we will bear fruit. Rather than asking if someone has accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and savior, perhaps it would be better to ask if they have felt the call of God. This is more likely to open up a conversation, I know it would with me, and holds the potential for a more fruitful interaction, and a better way to discuss the real issue at hand.

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