The devil is orthodox in his faith; he believes the true scheme of doctrine; he is no Deist, Socinian, Arian, Pelagian, or antinomian; the articles of his faith are all sound. (Jonathan Edwards, ‘True Grace Distinguished from the Experience of Devils’)
This is worth considering. As it also say in James 2:18-19: "Someone might claim, “You have faith and I have action.” But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action. It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear." (CEB)
So, apparently, both St. James and Edwards – a most unlikely pairing of fellows – are in full agreement that factual accuracy means nothing. So what does? What matters most?
This is a common meditation of mine: who is saved? And by "who" I do not mean the elect versus the damned. I am not even concerned abouth whether or not I am "saved." What I am trying to get to is what, exactly, is salvation?
It cannot be of the body, because both the Biblical witness and biological common sense tells me that I will die with a different body than the one I was born with. That, in fact, I have a completely different body every seven years of so when my cells are all replaced.
It cannot be of the mind, because that is even more subject to change than the body. I am certain that my mind is fundamentally, foundationally different now than it was even a year ago. It is possible that eventually I will stop learning and growing, but that is, by God’s grace, a long way off.
Perhaps the soul? Whatever that be. Have to think about that because accepting the premise of an immortal soul in a mortal body leads to all sorts of minefields – thinks like Neoplatonism, transmigration of souls, and other dualisms of all sorts. It may be the right answer, but it needs more thought.
Most importantly, if it is the non-corporeal soul which is saved, then why would Christ need to incarnate? And if we take the Adam-Jesus dychotomy, one sinned-one saved, then we are still talking about bodies and actions in history, in time and space no?
But bodies, as I see it, are always changing, always dying, always being reconstructed. To say I was saved on such and such a date and hold that as a time of transformation, makes sense phenomenologically, but it is like catching a glimpse of something off the corner of my eye, which when I turn is not there.
Maybe there are forks in the road, and maybe we choose the well-trod or the less well-travelled path. And maybe it does indeed make all the difference.
But what does that mean? Is the choice which saved me? A choice made (as all choices are) with incomplete knowledge? A choice perhaps made under some surge of emotion?
Much to think about!