How did salvation become a cornerstone of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular?

Salvation is not a cornerstone of Judaism, and not because Jewish teaching rejects purgatory and heaven. The focus in Judaism is the present life and obedience to G-d’s commandments: to love G-d and love thy neighbor, as Hillel the Elder and subsequently Jesus summed up the Law. Even the Messiah is not considered a Savior according to Jewish belief, at least not in the Christian sense. The path to atonement in Judaism, but not for the explicit purpose of salvation, is prayer and good deeds.

So my question is how and when did this all change in Christianity? Is it because of the teaching of Jesus Himself, His Apostles, the Church, or all of these?

Yes, Jesus gave us the New Covenant. The Catholic Church teaches it and history proves it. Read the New Testament and see for yourself. No mere man could have done all this. What is your ‘explicit purpose of salvation’ if not Jesus Christ? God Bless, Memaw

I suppose Christianity does tend to fixate on the inherent brokenness of man and how we all deserve to go to Hell. This makes the need for, and possibility of, salvation all the more important. I’m sure other posters would be much better at articulating the ‘how’ of it.

I have a Jewish friend who says that there’s no such thing as Hell in Judaism - is that correct? If so, then it might explain why salvation is less of a ‘cornerstone’ in Judaism.

What is the full meaning then of Messiah in Jewish belief?


The Gospels teach that Jesus, God incarnate, became in time, a 100% Jewish. man in the lineage of David and Adam. God came into the world to save His people from the consequence of sin, from Adam to the last person who would ever live. He is the cause of salvation for anyone who believes in Him. Believe is not just some intellectual recognition, but an active belief lived out in life persevering till the end. Jesus put it in a conditional statement, “if you love me you will keep my commandements” iow do what He says. Without what He did for us, there is no salvation for anyone.

St Paul put it this way

" If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied".

The context is here [1 Corinthians 15](“ Corinthians+15&version=RSVCE”)

Judaism is very much focused on the here and now (Olam Ha Ze) rather than eternity, while there is mention of places like Sheol,Gan Eden and Ghenna little is really known about them. it has been theorized that the lack of any texts within the Torah concerning death is deliberate to differentiate Jews from Egyptians, who after all were very close by and who’s religion was highly death-centric with a belief in a final judgement (The similarity to Christianity has been drawn by scholars)

Ghenna is the closest thing to a “Hell” in Judaism, and that is a temporary punishment where even the most henious sinner will only remain for a maximum of twelve months (Jewish calandar). At which point it is thought they will resurrect or otherwise appear in Gan Eden. Gan Eden is a…Paradise I suppose, I wouldn’t compare it to the Christian heaven…more like what the Romans believed Elysium the the Ilse of the Blessed to be like.

However…And here is where it gets confusing. Some Jews do not believe in an afterlife at all, and consider Gan Eden and Gehenna to be physical places in this world, or that will later be ushered in by the messiah (who they don’t believe has arrived yet). For those who follow this line of thought it is equally permissible and common for them to believe in reincarnation or indeed no afterlife at all.

The seeds exist in Judaism, which is not a monolithic religion and was certainly not at the time of Jesus. For example, even in the gospels we see that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes had differing ideas. Even today I’m sure you could find Jews who believe in some kind of salvation.

In Christianity there seem to be two significant events that propelled the doctrine of salvation: Jesus’ resurrection and Paul’s writing on original sin.

Meltzerboy, I very interested in Judaism and ask the questions below in all sincerity.

Does not Judaism contain the idea that the Messiah would be a new Moses who would lead a new exodus to a new Jerusalem? Am I correct that the Jewish people believe in the resurrection of the dead?

I think, maybe, therein lie the seeds. I’m not sure however, and welcome your answer.


In my way of thinking Zacharias, a jewish preist being filled with the Holy Spirit somes it up.

Luke 1: 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

But then something new: John’s Baptism which forgives sin.

Luke 1: 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

meltzerboy #1
So my question is how and when did this all change in Christianity? Is it because of the teaching of Jesus Himself, His Apostles, the Church, or all of these?

The teaching, the Life and the Resurrection of Jesus proclaim the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, the necessity of faith, good deeds and atonement for sin, for salvation.

“I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10:30)…. “whoever has seen Me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Thus Jesus established His Church to lead everyone to salvation.
All four promises to Peter alone:
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later to the Twelve].

Sole authority to Peter:
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

Firmly and irrevocably given to us by the Sacred Scripture written by His followers in His Church.

  1. The documents of Scripture are HISTORICAL.
  2. HISTORICALLY, the documents of Scripture relate that the man Jesus claimed to be sent by God, claimed to be God, proved His claim by His miracles and His Resurrection, established His Church on St Peter to continue His teaching until the end of time.
  3. HIS CHURCH, HISTORICALLY ESTABLISHED, then teaches what writings form God’s Word and that all of those writings, and no others, are inspired by the Holy Spirit. No one else can decide what books are inspired or has any authority to do so.

I think it’s important to note that non-Catholic Christianity, particularly evangelical or fundamentalist varieties, do not focus on the “here and now” due to “once saved, always saved”.

The Catholic Church, however, does not teach that. And the Church teaches a lot about the call to holiness, virtue, and living the beatitudes. God’s plan of salvation freed us from sin so that we could live in holiness in this life. We are made to know love and serve him in this life, and be with him in the next.

It is first because of Jesus himself. Jesus says that he came to save, so that those who believe in him could live even though they might die. Jesus says that he provides eternal life directly to those who are nourished by his body. Then when he comes back from the dead he shows us that life after death is attainable and that the power to attain this (the Eucharist which is the same immortal body) is carefully given to his apostles, who are the church.

Christians believe that the Jews are God’s people, who were the people who were able to give Jesus to the world so that all could be saved (through faith of their own choosing). So in reality it is the Jews who were part of the salvation plan, but they were the actors, the implementers,the parents who were tending to their offspring, so it makes sense that their focus was more on the here and now.

What’s the purpose of atonement?

Interesting. So Judaism teaches that even the worst sinners don’t deserve to burn in hell for all eternity…and yet Christianity teaches that basically everyone does.

Why the difference I wonder? Are people really that bad? If so, where does it say that in the Bible - are you supposed to assume it from the story of Adam and Eve - cast out forever, etc?

SpidersfromMars #13
So Judaism teaches that even the worst sinners don’t deserve to burn in hell for all eternity…and yet Christianity teaches that basically everyone does.

What teaching of Christ or His Church can you cite to justify such an outrageous claim – that “basically everyone does”?

I believe it was Paul’s letters to the Romans that first expanded this salvation theme…I just read a book on this. I’ll go back and take a look and post some details.


Since the history of creation is one seamless garment, as with the scriptures, it cannot be understood in pieces, but as a whole. An important part of that garment is the prophets. In many cases, the prophets themselves could not have understood the message they delivered, since all prophecy was directed, in some fashion, toward Jesus. Thus, His arrival fulfilled - fleshed out - all prophecy.

But, there is also a more narrow scriptural aspect of all this. I speak of the few centuries immediately preceding the Incarnation. The concepts of resurrection and eternal life preceded Jesus in the writings of the Deuterocanonical authors. And, the timing of their writings is key. They were writings that were anticipatory of the long-awaited Messiah.

Timing is everything. Post exile, something big was to occur. Apocalyptic writings such as Daniel spoke of it. The Temple in Jerusalem had been defiled and pagan altars set up within it. Judaism was banned, under the penalty of death. Rather than being just another chronicle of Hebrew suffering, this time frame and its events pointed to great things that were about to occur.

The Lord inspired various writers from he who wrote Daniel to the author of 2 Maccabees to introduce a startling new concept to the Hebrew consciousness: resurrection from death and life eternal. David had hinted at it in Psalm 15.

Judas Maccabeus freed Israel from Seleucid domination and restored both the Temple and the practice of Judaism. Now, once can argue that this was 175 or so years before Christ, but that is to think as man does and not as God does.

We both know that God lives outside of time, and on a creation time-line, the Temple was restored just in time for the Messiah to be presented to God in it. That Messiah then went on to teach of the, you guessed it, resurrection and eternal life.

The Deuterocanonical books (including Daniel), all written in the immediate pre-Christian era, taught what Christ would soon thereafter teach, and so were prophetic in their own regard.

But, the prophets, the Deuterocanonical authors, indeed all that had occurred, was setting the stage for the final, new and everlasting Covenant.

Uh…“Outside the church there is no salvation” is kinda a big one, for many centuries the Church did teach that the unbaptized, even unbaptized babies were destined for hell (The great Catholic allegorical epic “the Divine Comedy”-Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven is a good example of this belief).

Original Sin

The wages of sin are death, and all humans are guilty of sin

“I shall cast them into the lake of fire”, “the road to god is narrow”

There’s…Really, kinda a lot to suggest that. Unless your saying the Church teaches hell is not eternal and everyone gets to heaven.

Well…Catholics will say because this is how Christ taught it, we can repent or burn forever (not in those words exactly, condensed).

…A secular Theologian would instead suggest it was the influence of nearby Egypt where the concept of an eternal judgement leading to paradise or annihilation (the destruction of the Ka- the soul) was already very well founded, the cornerstone of supernatural belief throughout the Pharonic period.

Outrageous claim? Are you serious? It’s a central tenet of Christianity that ‘we have **all **sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (and are thus deserving of hell), in addition to what NekoNecro has posted.

I find it puzzling that as a Catholic you’ve never been taught this, let alone that you find it ‘outrageous’. :confused:

It’s a typical defensive reaction, a lot of people on CAF seem to get a bit squeamish if any statements or questions are posed of situations that put Catholicism on anything but the highest pedestal or in a perfect light :slight_smile:

Can see why it gets it; I mean after all to believers this is the one absolute truth and good, so it must be above critique.

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