Redemption (theology)

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Redemption is an essential concept in many religions, including Christianity, Judaism, other Abrahamic religions, and Indian religions.

As a Christian theological foundation, redemption refers to the deliverance of Christians from sin.[1] It assumes an important position in salvation because the transgressions in question form part of a great system against which human power is helpless.[2]

In Judaism, redemption refers to God redeeming the Israelites from their various exiles.[3] This includes the final redemption from the present exile.

In Buddhist theology, it encompasses a release from worldly desires.


In some forms of Buddhism, redemption is inherent in the discipline of giving up attachments to desires:

While other religions view the satisfaction of certain desires as the mark of salvation, Theravada Buddhism teaches that the extinction of desire is the prerequisite to salvation. While other religions hold up eternal life as the consequence of redemption, the redemptive goal of Theravada Buddhism is release from any and all forms of life. While other religions provide assistance to man in his quest for redemption, Theravada Buddhism teaches that in this quest one can rely on no one and on nothing but oneself: neither gods nor priests, neither church nor sacraments, nor faith nor works are of any avail.[4]

Other disciplines hold that "each Buddha and Bodhisattva is a redeemer", assisting the Buddhist in seeking to achieve the redemptive state.[5] The assistance rendered is a form of self-sacrifice on the part of the teachers, who would presumably be able to achieve total detachment from worldly concerns, but have instead chosen to remain engaged in the material world to the degree that this is necessary to assist others in achieving such detachment.[5] In varieties of Buddhism that include ideas of reincarnation, this relationship may be predestined from earlier life-experiences.[5] In "Pure Land" traditions, redemption takes the form of entry into a realm associated with each Buddha and Bodhisattva, a Pure Land of beauty, free of rebirth; such entry is attained via meditations, visualizations, or recitations, in a particular recitation of the name of the Amitābha Buddha and mindfulness of him.


In Christian theology, redemption is an element of salvation that broadly means the deliverance from sin. Leon Morris says that "Paul uses the concept of redemption primarily to speak of the saving significance of the death of Christ."[6] The English word "redemption" means 'repurchase' or 'buy back', and in the Old Testament referred to the ransom of slaves (Exodus 21:8).[7] In the New Testament, the redemption word group is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity.[8] Theologically, redemption is a metaphor for what is achieved through the Atonement;[8] therefore, there is a metaphorical sense in which the death of Jesus pays the price of a ransom, releasing Christians from bondage to sin and death.[9] Most evangelical theologians and Protestant denominations, however, reject Origen's argument that God paid the ransom price of redemption to Satan.[9]


In Islam, redemption is achieved through being a Muslim and doing no action that would forfeit one's identification with Islam,[10] being of sincere faith (iman) and doing virtuous actions.[11] Muslim sinners need only turn to a merciful God in repentance and carry out other good deeds, such as prayer (salah) and charity, for redemption.[12][13] As a result of this view of redemption, Muslims have attacked alternative views on redemption, especially the Christian doctrine of original sin.[14]


In Judaism, redemption (Hebrew ge'ulah) refers to God redeeming the people of Israel from their various exiles.[3] This includes the final redemption from the present exile. In Hasidic philosophy parallels are drawn between the redemption from exile and the personal redemption achieved when a person refines his character traits.

The pidyon haben, (Hebrew: פדיון הבן‎) or redemption of the first-born son,[15] is a mitzvah in Judaism whereby a Jewish firstborn son is redeemed from God by use of silver coins.

See also


  1. Morris, Leon (1962). Redeemer, Redemption, 'The New Bible Dictionary'. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 1078–1079.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Redemption." Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College. July 2, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Reb on the Web". Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning. Retrieved November 1, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Spiro, Melford (1982). Buddhism and Society: A Great Tradition and Its Burmese Vicissitudes. pp. xiv.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Joseph Edkins, Chinese Buddhism (1893), p. 364.
  6. Morris, Leon (1993). 'Redemption' Dictionary of Paul and his Letters. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. p. 784.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Demarest, Bruce (1997). The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation. Wheaton: Crossway Books. p. 176.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 177.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Grudem, Wayne (1994). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Nottingham: InterVarsity Press. p. 580.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Hava Lazarus-Yafeh (1981). Some Religious Aspects of Islam: A Collection of Articles. Brill Archive. p. 48. ISBN 9789004063297. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Yahiya Emerick (1 Nov 2011). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Islam, 3rd Edition. Penguin. ISBN 9781101558812. Salvation and redemption: Islam says our sincere faith and virtuous actions get us into heaven, not just a one-time conversion moment. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub. "The Idea of Redemption in Christianity and Islam". BYU. Retrieved 18 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Chawkat Georges Moucarry (2001). Faith to Faith: Christianity & Islam in Dialogue. Inter-Varsity Press. p. 110. ISBN 9780851118994. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Hava Lazarus-Yafeh (1981). Some Religious Aspects of Islam: A Collection of Articles. Brill Archive. p. 48. ISBN 9789004063297. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Eugene Joseph Cohen Guide to ritual circumcision and redemption of the first-born son Volume 1 - 1984 "The Redemption of the First-Born - A mother's first-born is to be dedicated to the service of God, in accordance with the verse, "Sanctify the first-born who opens the womb."1 This sanctification was the result of an historical event."; Michele Klein A Time to Be Born: Customs and Folklore of Jewish Birth 2000 Page 224 "They have attributed healing properties to the stick.54 REDEMPTION OF THE FIRST-BORN SON A first child has special significance for both parents, and this was as true in biblical times as today, but then only when the child was male"; Mark Washofsky Jewish living: a guide to contemporary reform practice 2001 Page 148 "Redemption of the First-born Son (Pidyon Haben)- In Jewish tradition, the first-born son is to be "redeemed" from God. This originates in the belief that God "acquired" the Israelite first-born by sparing them from makkat bekhorot," ; Ruth Langer To Worship To Worship God Properly: Tensions Between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism (Monographs of the Hebrew Union College Series) 2005 Page 73 "Redemption of the First Born."