Bloesch suggests that how we view God affects how we understand salvation.
The way we understand the mystery of salvation is closely tied to the way we understand God himself. If we picture God as a remote, benevolent ruler who allows the world to run by its own laws, then our salvation depends on our ability to discover and to master these laws.
If we view God as an impassible, self-sufficient Absolute who attracts our wonder by the beauty and grandeur that he possesses, then salvation is entirely a matter of self-purification and human striving, a product of eros rather than agape.
If we conceive of God as an absolute monarch with unlimited power who has predetermined whatever comes to pass, then salvation is a matter neither of grace nor of works but of abject resignation to fate.
Donald Bloesch, God the Almighty, (pg71-72)
He goes on to say that the biblical understanding of God is so much better than the options listed above.
The biblical understanding of God is multi-faceted. God is both transcendent and immanent. He is both holy and loving. He is a God of justice and He is our heavenly “Abba.”
Does how I meditate on one of these aspects of God shape how I understand salvation?
If I reflect on God as holy, then I see salvation as something I do not deserve at all.
If I reflect on God’s justice, then I feel that I should get what is coming to me (yikes!).
If I reflect on God as loving, then I’m filled with a sense of awe that He loves me.
If I reflect on God as immanent, then I am motivated to do good works because I know that He is with me in those things.
And some days, as I think about Jesus’ call to righteousness, I am overwhelmed by the thought that maybe I’m not truly saved; that I’m not really a Christian. I could never live up to all that he has commanded us to do.
Setting aside my emotional roller coasters, it seems to me that our different theological traditions, in emphasizing a specific aspect of the nature of God, also reflect a specific aspect of salvation.
Is there a way to harmonize some of our theological differences with a multi-faceted view of God? Can those who uphold the sovereignty of God learn from those who uphold God’s wide mercy (and vice versa)?