I begin my view of salvation in the Old Testament. The person who came to earth as Jesus had always been the light of the world, the sovereign King of kings (as in the Psalms and Prophets). The key verses for me are John 3:19-21. The dividing line (Greek krisis) for humanity is not cerebral understanding. People are either light loving or light hating. The light is God's pure love. And a person can be ignorant, and practicing a false religion, but have his or her heart looking (without knowing it) to the Son of God, who has always been the light of the world. All the light loving ones, including little children, the retarded, the Old Testament saints, and no doubt people still trapped in false religions, are forgiven because God is a totally loving God. As you point out, the Father did not have to be satisfied by the crucifixion of his Son to begin loving us.
You are right that love and grace are totally opposed to the legalism of Jewish Pharisees, Islam, and many Christians. This is set out in Religions Enslave. And your point about being saved (transformed) by Jesus' love is explained for example in Creative Love. These and other books offered on the website (www.brow.on.ca) can be downloaded for free and used in any form without my permission anywhere in the world. Last month the site averaged about 550 people coming in every day (www.brow.on.ca/stats) so you are not alone in your hunch that though many Christians are very loving in practice some denominations may not have understood the width and length of God's love as clearly as Robert Farrar Capon did in his books.
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