William Willimon on Salvation and Pastors

Interesting, very, very interesting.

Another pastoral implication is that human beings are not the source of our own salvation–or anybody else’s. It’s tough enough for me to know that I can’t save myself. But it’s also hard to believe (and perhaps this is a problem only for us pastors) that I am not the source of someone else’s salvation. I can tell the story, I can trot out my little arguments, I can sit with them and try to be a good example to them. I can go out into the night and seek them, but I am not the Christ. I’m only an ambassador. I witness under the conviction that Christ wants this life, that Christ is already active in this life long before I got there, and that Christ will continue to work in this life long after I’ve gone on to whatever Jesus has in store for me next. But only Jesus saves.

Sometimes we pastors try to be the messiahs for our people rather than to the the Messiah save them. In such moments we imply that their salvation is through a competent, capable pastor who enables them to get their act together. No. Salvation is allowing Jesus to intrude among us, as he is, rather than as we would have him to be. In my experience, any pastor who is overworked to the point of disillusionment and exhaustion is probably due for a refurbished soteriology.” (Who Will Be Saved? 130-131)

What, you mean the preacher not only cannot save people but isn’t even responsible to? Wow.


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