Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Doug Sonheim

Second Advisor

Dr. Scott Duvall

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Arrington

Abstract

A green dot on a watch face; a bracelet with plastic beads in red, yellow, green, white, and black; the dozens of Christian T-shirts ranging from humorous to gory: these are the images which come to mind when I think about salvation at Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The green dot several students wore to lure others into asking, "Why do you have a green dot on your watch?" The reply was, "I am wearing it to remind me to tell others about what Jesus has done for them. Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?" Ah! The foot was in the door! The bearer of the green dot had an opportunity to witness. The beaded bracelet is worn for a similar reason. Each color represents a step in the salvation process. The trinket can be used to explain salvation to unbelievers in an organized way, taking the person through the explanations of sin, savior and heaven with color symbolism. The T-shirts are definitely the most marvelous Ouachita-salvation phenomena. One can read a good chunk of the gospels and Paul's epistles on the T-shirts of Ouachita students if one sits in the cafeteria long enough. I am exaggerating. There are more T-shirts bearing Christian messages (especially lessons or verses pertaining to salvation) than I have ever seen in any other place at one time. Their popularity is undeniable.

All these outward symbols and slogans signify a concern among Ouachita students with salvation. Salvation is a public preoccupation which revolves around the longed-for conversion of the lost to the saved. The preoccupation is manifested in publicity which over and over avian announces the salvation story and always ends with the poignant question: Are you saved?

Ouachita students are not alone in their preoccupation. Southern Baptists are a people preoccupied with the saving of souls. Southern Baptist church services frequently close with an alter call, an invitation to the lost to come forward and experience salvation.

After spending a summer with Russian Orthodox friends, I began to wonder if the Eastern Orthodox Christians shared the same beliefs about salvation as Southern Baptist Christians do. Does the Eastern Orthodox church (officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church) with all its incense and iconography, its use of both the empty cross and the crucifix, its kissing of the priest's hand and its Lord-have-mercy chanting work against the salvation story depicted with green dots, colorful beads, and cotton T-shirts? Do Southern Baptist Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians work to proclaim the same salvation or do they hold different beliefs, proclaim different messages?

Despite the vast differences in the outward appearance of a Southern Baptist church service and an Eastern Orthodox one and the differences in the way Southern Baptists and Eastern Orthodox Christians witness, ultimately, I found the two denominations to hold many of the same beliefs concerning salvation. However, the specific points in which Eastern Orthodox salvation teachings and Southern Baptist teachings differ are significant ones.

 
 

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