Christian salvation is an eclectic mix of cutting and pasting New Testament verses together to make an ancient dogma sound logical. Accordingly, without human ingenuity, even Jesus himself cannot explain how one is to obtain salvation. Ironically, the ramblings of Jesus about the Kingdom in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas are on par with those of the Synoptic Gospels or John.Even the early letters of Paul offer only meditations of mediation as to how Israel’s God could have changed His mind. For Protestants evangelicals, the only hope is to distill some theory of soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) as primary gleamed from his final letter to the Church at Rome, but only then such can be done by cutting and pasting verses of the text as assembled into a cherry picked Roman’s Road of Salvation. (Here at least, the Catholics and Orthodox seem somewhat more credible by having members place their faith for salvation in the traditions of their church . . . hey, trust us; we’ll get you to Heaven!).
If faith in Jesus Christ alone granted salvation, then all Christian sects would be “saved” (be they Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses or whatever) since the term heresy could (would) not exist. Then too, ironically both Satan and the demons would be saved in that they too believe in Jesus just as much as Jesus believes in them (Let’s face it, Origen was on to something here)! Maybe, this is why both the saved and the damned will be given glorified bodies since all resurrected bodies living forever will have to be Glorified for this theology to work.
In the following example, I have redefined the limit of Jesus' authority by simply considering a single short verse from the Gospel of Luke.
A Question of Christology
During the Crucifixion, why does Jesus ask God the Father to forgive the sins of people crucifying him (Text A), when earlier facts clearly showed that during Jesus’ ministry, he forgave sins himself (Text B)?
Text A: “And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἔλεγεν Πάτερ, ἄφες αὐτοῖς), for they know not what they do.'” (Luke 23: 34)
Text B: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) to forgive sins - he said to the paralytic- 'I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.'” (Synoptic: Mark 2: 10 - 11 = Matt. 9: 6 – 7 & Luke 5: 24 - 25)
Commentary: The reason Jesus had to ask God the Father to forgive the people crucifying him was that, by being raise up on the cross, his feet were no longer touching or "upon the earth" (“ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς”), thus Jesus was forced to ask God to forgive them since he could no longer physically do it himself.
(If any apologist considers this theological position to be superficial or skewed, then consider the comment of Bruce Metzger over the early textual impact as to whether or not to include this theological problematic verse:
B.M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart, 1994) p. 154)
Salvation theology (Soteriology) is simply a human created system in an attempt to make sense out of the often aimless and incoherent ramblings of the New Testament.
The fact that I too (as an atheist) can create a new point of Christology out of the same often aimless and incoherent ramblings of the Gospels carries as much weight as any theologian (usually from the time of the Reformation) formulating a system of salvation from something Jesus never said, nor St. Paul ever coherently stated. Indeed, within this context, credibility comes up short.
If the Doctrine of Original Sin is thrown in, then the entire Plan of Salvation is nothing more than fallen and sinful humanity (St. Paul included here too) simply inventing a hermeneutical system to save itself while crediting some Biblical divinity with its own false sense of reality.
Thus, the complete system of Christian salvation is nothing more than cognitive dissonance.