Friday, June 16, 2006

1. Introduction to Soteriology


.... Soterilogy is the study of salvation and its associated topics: God's foreknowledge, the questions of election and predestination, and the effectual working of each of these in our lives. But neither salvation nor its supporting spectrum can be properly understood without exploring their testimony of Jesus Himself, and allowing this perspective to define them (Eph 4:13). Here, some of the deepest and most mysterious passages in Scripture will be addressed.
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Soteriology has impacted mankind more importantly than any other study in the world, and its effect in the church has always been the most dramatic. Each of the greatest movements in church history have been defined by a new perspective in this regard:

1) Jesus taught salvation through the gospel, rather than keeping the Law of Moses, and the reverberations have transcended the ages.

2) The Protestant Reformation, in restoring the perspective of salvation through faith alone, became one of the seminole events of the church and of all mankind.

3) The rise of Arminianism through the Methodist church became a second, smaller reformation, leading to the evangelism of the world.

.... It is the author’s belief that the Scriptures foretell another reformation, to occur in the end time church, that will spring from a highly successful focus on the person of Jesus Christ (Eph 4:13). This perspective will address every Scriptural question; but as a matter of practicality, the great catalyst for this reformation will be a Christ-centered perspective on soteriology. The following study is an early attempt at this perspective.
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(This blog uses a top-to-bottom format, and is continued below)

15 Comments:

At 4:38 PM, Blogger mxu said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:39 PM, Blogger mxu said...

Hi Loren,

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. The question of God's sovereignty (and predestination) is a tricky one indeed, one that people have split churches and had vicious debates on.

After reading through large chunks of this series of posts, it seems that you are advocating that Calvinism and Arminianism is wrong, but you propose a third view (God elects Christ, and we choose to be in Him), which is just another form of Arminianism.

I do honestly think you are wrong on this and would be willing to dialogue on it, but there are other people who have done much clearer and better defenses of Calvinism, including addressing your specific viewpoint.

Might I suggest checking out

James Spurgeon: http://howlingcoyote.blogspot.com/
(he's been blogging through Eph. 1:3-14)

Vincent Cheung:
http://www.rmiweb.org/other/chosen.pdf
His exposition on Eph. 1:3-14 and salvation.

Ashton Wilkins
http://home.rochester.rr.com/matthewl/predestination/essay/toc.html
A comprehensive essay dealing with predestination.

 
At 9:42 PM, Blogger loren said...

Hi MXU,

Thanks for taking the time to read large chunks of this series. I've never heard of a form of Arminianism that believes Christ is chosen, and we in Him, but I would heartily agree with at least that much of their conclusion. If you know of any links for that perspective, I would appreciate it if you could supply them.

I do know that Calvin himself considered Christ to be elect, and we in Him, but this never seemed to have a practical impact on his system (that I have found). I would also appreciate any references you could provide (especially a link) where we might hear more of Calvin's thoughts on that. Or feel free to give us your own thoughts.

Feel perfectly free to comment and dialogue here as you please, disagreement is perfectly welcome as long as the truth is spoken in love. Thanks again, and I hope we can dialogue some more in the future.

 
At 12:04 AM, Blogger mxu said...

I must admit I have not come across any sources that defend the doctrine you espouse, but I have only come across sources that have defended Calvinism against it.

I believe it is commonly refered to as "collective election" and Wesley held to it.
(I did a quick google search and this popped up. Do a "find" on "collective election")


I must confess I have not read much of Calvin that is relevant to this question, but from my understanding of the doctrine of predestination, God's election of us is that God chooses us. We do not choose to be "in Christ" but it is God who chooses us to be "in Christ"

For what Calvin said exactly, you can check his Institutes

If you click on the "index" and do a "find" for "elect" the chapters around the ones that come up defend the doctrine of predestination as I understand it.

Hope this helps, and if you prefer to move this discussion to email (blog comments are kind of cramped) feel free to drop me an email: mcsheu@gmailDOTcom

 
At 4:54 AM, Blogger loren said...

Hi MXU,

Wow, thanks for the excellent references! I especially like the reference to Calvin's institutes.

For the sake of future readers: there are sub-links at the bottom of that page with the title chapters in Calvin's books, and they form an excellent synopsis of his beliefs. Calvin really is a first class thinker.

Here is what I found on his thoughts about the election being in Christ (from Book 3, Chapter 24):

". . . Hence, those whom God has adopted as sons, he is said to have elected, not in themselves, but in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:4); because he could love them only in him, and only as being previously made partakers with him, honor them with the inheritance of his kingdom. But if we are elected in him, we cannot find the certainty of our election in ourselves; and not even in God the Father, if we look at him apart from the Son. Christ, then, is the mirror in which we ought, and in which, without deception, we may contemplate our election. For since it is into his body that the Father has decreed to ingraft those whom from eternity he wished to be his, that he may regard as sons all whom he acknowledges to be his members, if we are in communion with Christ, we have proof sufficiently clear and strong that we are written in the Book of Life . . . "

I also looked at the Wesleyan reference, but that one seems to meander and not really get to the point. It said something about election in Christ being a sub-belief within collective election, which sounds backwards. I'll have to return to it later and spend more time with it.

 
At 3:39 PM, Blogger Rose~ said...

Great rules, Loren. I will be reading further.

I am no expert! (that was kind of funny to read that in your other comment). I am just someone who wants to know ... an interested party. Thanks for doing this.

Oh, and I see you're even allowing profile pics. How colorful!

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger Rose~ said...

BTW, Loren, now that I have read mxu's comments, I must tell you, I have also thought that parts of your soteriology ...

... that which corresponds to the 5th point of Calvinism [which I now see is not what I thought it was - the fifth point, that is]) ...

were a bit like the Arminians also. (I will read some more, though with an open mind.) I won't say much more here about that, so as not to be off topic. :~)

However, I don't think that you idea of corporate election is neccessarily Arminian, even though Wesley may have held to it. With that in view, I don't think mxu's statement is all that fair:

...which is just another form of Arminianism.

I wish Calvinists weren't so dismissive in the way they lump people together ... but mxu is at least respectful.

(may I "blogspot" this "module" so that my readers will become aware of it?)

 
At 7:15 PM, Blogger loren said...

Hi Rose,

I might be wrong on this, but I think many Calvinists would refer to non-Calvinistic soteriologies as 'Arminian' in a generic sense, not necessarily because Arminius had anything to do with them, but simply because they are something other than Calvinism.

Actually, I'm not planning on handling the question of assurance on this blog, I already have one that addresses that issue more pointedly. This blog will take it to that point, then hand-off.

For about the next week I'll be trying to put together the other half of this blog, but feel free to link or post about this one. By the way, the other one, about assurance, is located here.

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Some very good points, I think I agree with most of what you say.

Please get rid of the pictures, though.

God Bless

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger ambiance-five said...

Loren,
I have to disagree with "elect" being Christ because of what Christ Himself said concerning the long bearing of God.

Luke 18:7  And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

We know that Christ, being without sin, did not have to be patiently waited on. Christ also calls the elect "them".

Some good thoughts although I feel off the mark.

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger Bhedr said...

Wow Loren what a great quote from Calvin.

You know Calvin's own Nexus created within him an anomaly as he may have been his own Nexus':-)

At the end of the day though I always say, "I am His and He is mine!" I would never have chosen him had he not chosen me and there is a peace that comes from that in that He deeply desires to bring me home and I long to be with Him. I hope to press on and take hold of who has taken hold of me. Borrowing from Paul. I think He said it best. Enjoying this series!

 
At 4:24 PM, Blogger loren said...

Hi Rose,

I appreciate your reading touchy subjects with an open mind. I think we all need to keep that sort of attitude in our hearts. Even if the Scriptures do not arrive at our preferred conclusion, the chips must fall where they will because God is speaking, and we must make it our aim to please Him. This includes me, so I’m trying to be open and teachable too.

Hi Ambiance-five,

I apologize, I must not have made myself clear. I believe that Christ alone is the elect of God, and that we become elect in Him when we are saved (Eph 1:4). So yes, we are the elect, but in the sense of abiding in Jesus Christ. We are not elect in our own right, as He is.

For example, in the passage you quoted, the concept of the relationship is evident. We are referred to as “His own” elect. We would not have this relationship with the Father at all unless we were in Christ:

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”.
(I Jn 2:23)

I put some more effort into this explanation in Sections 7 and 8, including some links with demonstrations of the concept. I hope this will be helpful.

Hi Brian,

So good to hear from you! You’re one of the most Christ-centered people I know so I greatly value your input – and of course, everything you just said is true. By the way, I hope the situation we were praying about has been resolved.

 
At 5:41 PM, Blogger mxu said...

My fault, Loren is right. I probably misused the term "Arminian." I did not intend for it to sound disrespectful at all, but merely as a way to point out that it (collective election) is not held by most Calvinists in the way being espoused in this module. While we do affirm that Christ is saved and we are saved "in Him," we affirm as well that it is God who choses and sovereignly places us "in Him" before the foundation of the world.

In order to define my terms, the defining factor I see in Calvinism is God's sovereignty working in all things. Though I believe it is something Calvin held to, I believe it because I believe it is in Scripture.

The 5 points (TULIP) is merely a contrasting factor to the 5 points brought up by the Remonstrance (spelling?) which are addressed by the Cannons of Dordt.

In contrast, I would label (not because I want to dismiss the arguments, but merely as a means of contrast) those who do not believe God is sovereign in one's acting out in faith as Arminian.

Perhaps a more accurate term would be "synergist" in contrast with a "monergist" as supported by John Hendryx in his website: www.monergism.com

My apologies for sounding dismissive. I will try to watch my terminology a lot closer.

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger loren said...

Hi MXU,

No offense taken, we're all opening up to learn new things and consider other views. Thanks for your research and input, which I've sure will be resorted to often as the discussion contiunes.

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger Bhedr said...

Thanks Loren,

I have a much sweeter spirit and more patience as I have given some things over to Him and don't feel as much a need to be right. Still please pray for me as this sin will alway lie at the door until, as you put it, my consumation of Salvation. Ultimate uninterupted communion is my soul desire.God spoke to me today and seems to be impressing me with reading some of Andrew Murray. I spoke with a man today and he brought up what I read last night on a blog; the exact subject. Continue to pray and thank you for the accountability and encouragement.

 

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