Salvation in Christianity
The idea of Jesus’ death as an atonement for human sin goes back to the Hebrew writings, and was elaborated in Paul’s epistles and in the Gospels. Early Christians regarded themselves as partaking in a new covenant with God, open to both Jews and gentiles, due to the sacrificial death and subsequent exaltation of Jesus Christ.
Early Christian notions of the person and sacrifical role of Jesus in human salvation were further elaborated by the Church Fathers and medieaval writers in various atonement theories, namely the Patristic ransom theory and recapitulation theory, adhered to by Eastern Orthodox Churches and other Eastern Christian Churches; the 11th century satisfaction theory, adhered to by the Roman Catholic Church, and its Protestant derivation, the penal substitution theory; and the 11th century moral influence theory, which is favored within Liberal Protestantism.
Variant views on salvation are among the main fault lines dividing the various Christian denominations, including conflicting definitions of sin and depravity (the sinful nature of humankind), justification (God’s means of removing the consequences of sin), and atonement (the forgiving or pardoning of sin through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus).
Definition and scope
Salvation in Christianity, or deliverance or redemption, is the “saving [of] human beings from death and separation from God” by Christs atonement for sin.[note 1]
Christian salvation not only concerns the atonement itself, but also the question how one partakes of this salvation, by faith, baptism, or obedience; and the question of this salvation is individual or collective. It further involves questions regarding the afterlife, e.g. “heaven, hell, purgatory, soul sleep, and annihilation.” The fault lines between the various denominations include conflicting definitions of sin, justification, and atonement.
In Judaism, sins between people are considered much more severe in Judaism than sins between man and God. Yom Kippur, the main day of repentance in Judaism, can atone for sins between man and God, but not for sins between man and his fellow, that is until he has appeased his friend. With few exceptions, korbanot (sacrifices) only expiate unintentional sins, that is, sins committed because a person forgot that this thing was a sin or by error.[note 2][note 3] Korbanot have no expiating effect unless the person making the offering sincerely repents his or her actions before making the offering, and makes restitution to any person who was harmed by the violation.
Christian hamartiology describes sin as an act of offence against God by despising his persons and Christian biblical law, and by injuring others. It is an evil human act, which violates the rational nature of man, as well as God’s nature and his eternal law. According to the classical definition of St. Augustine of Hippo sin is “a word, deed, or desire in opposition to the eternal law of God”.
Christian tradition has explained sin as a fundamental aspect of human existence, due to original sin, also called ancestral sin, the fall of man stemming from Adam’s rebellion in Eden when by eated the Forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Paul espouses it in Romans 5:12-19, and Augustine of Hippo popularized it in the West, developing it into a notion of “hereditary sin,” arguing that God holds all the descendants of Adam and Eve accountable for Adam’s sin of rebellion, and as such all people deserve God’s wrath and condemnation – apart from any actual sins they personally commit.
Total depravity (also called “radical corruption” or “pervasive depravity”) is a Protestant theological doctrine derived from the concept of original sin. It is the teaching that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin as a result of their fallen nature and, apart from the efficacious or prevenient grace of God, is utterly unable to choose to follow God, refrain from evil, or accept the gift of salvation as it is offered. It is advocated to various degrees by many Protestant confessions of faith and catechisms, including those of some Lutheran synods, and Calvinism, teaching irresistible grace. Arminians, such as Methodists, also believe and teach total depravity, but with the distinct difference of teaching prevenient grace.
In Christian theology, justification is God’s act of removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time making a sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The means of justification is an area of significant difference among Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Justification is often seen as being the theological fault line that divided Catholic from the Lutheran and Reformed traditions of Protestantism during the Reformation.
Broadly speaking, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Methodist Christians distinguish between initial justification, which in their view ordinarily occurs at baptism; and final salvation, accomplished after a lifetime of striving to do God’s will (theosis c.q. divinization).[note 4]
Theosis, is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God, as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches. As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis (purification of mind and body) and theoria (‘illumination’ with the ‘vision’ of God). According to Eastern Christian teaching, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through a synergy (or cooperation) between human activity and God’s uncreated energies (or operations). The synonymous term divinization is the transforming effect of divine grace, the spirit of God, or the atonement of Christ. Theosis and divinization are to be distinguished from sanctification, “being made holy,” which can also apply to objects; and from apotheosis, also “divinization,” lit. “making divine”).
Catholics believe faith as is active in charity and good works (fides caritate formata) can justify man. Forgiveness of sin exists and is infused, but justification can be lost by mortal sin.
In the Protestant doctrine, sin is merely “covered”, and righteousness imputed. In Lutheranism and Calvinism, righteousness from God is viewed as being credited to the sinner’s account through faith alone, without works. Protestants believe faith without works can justify man because Christ died for sinners, but anyone who truly has faith will produce good works as a product of faith, as a good tree produces good fruit. For Lutherans justification can be lost with the loss of faith.
According to The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, atonement in Christian theology is “man’s reconciliation with God through the sacrifcial death of Christ.” A number of metaphors and Old Testament terms and references have been used in the New Testament writings to understand the person[web 2][note 5] and death of Jesus. Starting in the second century CE, various theories of atonement have been explicated to explain the death of Jesus, and the metaphors applied by the New Testament to understand his death. Over the centuries, Christians have held different ideas about how Jesus saved people, and different views still exist within different Christian denominations. Due to the influence of Gustaf Aulèn’s (1879-1978) Christus Victor, the various theories or paradigms of atonement are often grouped as “classic paradigm,” “objective paradigm,” and the “subjective paradigm”:[note 6]
In the Hebrew writings, God is absolute righteousness, and only pure and sinless persons can approach him. Pureness or sinlesssness can be achieved either by the sacrificial “shedding of blood”; or, as stated by the Prophets, “by the future Divine gift of a new covenant to replace the old covenant which sinful Israel has broken,” or “by the action of a Divinely sent Servant of the Lord who was ‘wounded for our transgressions’ and ‘bare the sin of many’.”[note 3] Yet, without repentance, such an offering of sacrifice was without effect. During the post-exilic period, martyrs cpould also bear atonic value.
1 Corinthians 15:3 contains the kerygma of the early Christians: “Christ died for our sins.”[web 3] The meaning of this kerygma is a matter of debate, and open to multiple interpretations. Traditionally, this kerygma is interpreted as meaning that Jesus’ death was an atonement or ransom for, or propitiation or expiation of, God’s wrath against humanity because of their sins. With Jesus death, humanity was freed from this wrath.[web 4][note 7] In the classical Protestant understanding, which has dominated the understanding o Paul’s writings, humans partake in this salvation by faith in Jesus Christ; this faith is a grace given by God, and people are justified by God through Jesus Christ and faith in Him.
More recent scholarship has raised several concerns regarding these interpretations. The traditional interpretation sees Paul’s understanding of salvation as involving “an exposition of the individual’s relation to God.” According to Krister Stendahl, the main concern of Paul’s writings on Jesus’ role, and salvation by faith, is not the individual conscience of human sinners, and their doubts about being chosen by God or not, but the problem of the inclusion of gentile (Greek) Torah observers into God’s convenant.[web 6][note 8] Paul draws on several interpretative frames to solve this problem, but most inportantly, his own experience and understanding. The kerygma from 1:Cor.15:3-5 refers to two mythologies: the greek myth of the noble dead, to which the Maccabean notion of martyrdom and dying for ones people is related; and the Jewish myth of the persecuted sage or righteous man, c.q. the “story of the child of wisdom.” The notion of ‘dying for’ refers to this martyrdom and persecution.[note 3]‘Dying for our sins’ refers to the problem of gentile Torah-observers, who, despite their faithfulness, cannot fully observe commandments, including circomsision, and are therefore ‘sinners’, excluded from God’s convenant.  Jesus’ death and resurrection solved this problem of the exclusion of the gentles from God’s convenant, as indicated by Rom 3:21-26.
According to E.P. Sanders, who initiated the socalled New Perspective on Paul, Paul saw the faithfull redeemed by particpation in Jesus’ death and rising. Though “Jesus’ death substituted for that of others and thereby freed believers from sin and guilt,” a metaphor derived from “ancient sacrificial theology,”[web 7][note 3] the essence of Paul’s writing is not in the “legal terms” regarding the expiation of sin, but the act of “participation in Christ through dying and rising with him.”[note 9] According to Sanders, “those who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death, and thus they escape the power of sin […] he died so that the believers may die with him and consequently live with him.”[web 7] By this participation in Christ’s death and rising, “one receives forgiveness for past offences, is liberated from the powers of sin, and receives the Spirit.” Paul insists that salvation is received by the grace of God; according to Sanders, this insistence is in line with Judaism of ca. 200 NCE until 200 CE, which saw God’s convenant with Israel as an act of grace of God. Observance of the Law is needed to maintain the convenant, but the convenant is not be earned by observing the Law, but by the grace of God.[web 10]
Several passages from Paul, such as Rom. 3:25,[note 10] are traditionally interpreted as meaning that we are saved by faith in Christ. According to Richard B. Hays, who iniated the socalled “Pistis Christou debate,”[note 11] a different reading of these pasagges is also possible.[web 5] The phrase pistis Christou can be translated as ‘faith in Christ’, that is, salvation by believing in Christ, the traditional interpretation; or as ‘faithfulness of Christ’, that is, belief “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.”[note 12][web 5] In this view, according to Cobb, Jesus’ life and death was not seen by Paul as an atonement, but as a means to participate in faithfulness.[web 5] In this interpretation, Rom. 3:21-26 states that Jesus was faithfull, even to the cost of death, and justified by God for this faithfullness. Those who participate in this faithfulness are equally justified by God, both Jews and gentiles.[web 5][note 13] While this view has found support by a range of scholars, it has also been questioned and criticized.
In the Gospels, Jesus is portrayed as calling for repentance of sin, and stating that blood-sacrifices cannot substitute repentance.  Yet, he is also portrayed as “giving His life [as] a ransom for many’,” and applying Isaiah 53s “suffering servant” unto himself. The Gospel of John portrays him as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and compares His death to the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb at Pesach.
The classic paradigm entails the traditional understandings of the early Church Fathers, who developed the themses found in the New Testament.
Ransom from Satan
The ransom theory of atonement says that Christ liberated humanity from slavery to sin and Satan, and thus death, by giving his own life as a ransom sacrifice to Satan, swapping the life of the perfect (Jesus), for the lives of the imperfect (humans). It entails the idea that God deceived the devil, and that Satan, or death, had “legitimate rights” over sinful souls in the afterlife, due to the fall of man and inherited sin. During the first millennium CE, the ransom theory of atonement was the dominant metaphor for atonement, both in eastern and western Christianity, until it was replaced in the west by Anselmus’ satisfaction theory of atonement.
In one version of the idea of deception, Satan attempted to take Jesus’ soul after he had died, but in doing so over-extended his authority, as Jesus had never sinned. As a consequence, Satan lost his authority completely, and all humanity gained freedom. In another version, God entered into a deal with Satan, offering to trade Jesus’ soul in exchange for the souls of all people, but after the trade, God raised Jesus from the dead and left Satan with nothing. Other versions held that Jesus’ divinity was masked by his human form, so Satan tried to take Jesus’ soul without realizing that his divinity would destroy Satan’s power. Another idea is that Jesus came to teach how not to sin and Satan, in anger with this, tried to take his soul.
The ransom theory was first clearly enunciated by Irenaeus (c.130–c.202), who was an outspoken critic of Gnosticism, but borrowed ideas from their dualistic worldview. In this worldview, humankind is under the power of the Demiurg, a lesser God who has created the world. Yet, humans have a spark of the true divine nature within them, which can be liberated by gnosis (knowledge) of this divine spark. This knowledge is revealed by the Logos, “the very mind of the supreme God,” who entered the world in the person of Jesus. Nevertheless, the Logos could not simply undo the power of the Demiurg, and had to hide his real identity, appearing as a physical form, thereby misleading the Demiurg, and liberating humankind. In Irenaeus’ writings, the Demiurge is replaced by the devil, while Justin Martyr had already eqauted Jesus and the Logos.
Origen (184–253) introduced the idea that the devil held legitimate rights over humans, who were bought free by the blood of Christ. He also introduced the notion that the devil was deceived in thinking that he could master the human soul.
Gustaf Aulén reinterpreted the ransom theory in his study Christus Victor (1931), calling it the Christus Victor doctrine, arguing that Christ’s death was not a payment to the Devil, but defeated the powers of evil, particularly Satan, which had held humankind in their dominion. According to Pugh, “Ever since [Aulén’s] time, we call these patristic ideas the Christus Victor way of seeing the cross.”
The recapitulation view, first comprehensively expressed by Irenaeus, went “hand-in-hand” with the ransom theory. It says that Christ succeeds where Adam failed, undoing the wrong that Adam did and, because of his union with humanity, leads humanity on to eternal life, including moral perfection. Theosis (“divinasation”) is a “corollary” of the recapitulation.
In the 11th century, Anselm of Canterbury rejected the ransom view and proposed the satisfaction theory of atonement. He allegedly depicted God as a feudal lord[note 14] whose honor had been offended by the sins of humankind. In this view, people needed salvation from the divine punishment that these offences would bring, since nothing they could do could repay the honor debt. Anselm held that Christ had infinitely honored God through his life and death and that Christ could repay what humanity owed God, thus satisfying the offence to God’s honor and doing away with the need for punishment. When Anselm proposed the satisfaction view, it was immediately criticized by Peter Abelard.
In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformers reinterpreted Anselm’s satisfaction theory of salvation within a legal paradigm. In the legal system, offences required punishment, and no satisfaction could be given to avert this need. They proposed a theory known as penal substitution, in which Christ takes the penalty of people’s sin as their substitute, thus saving people from God’s wrath against sin. Penal substitution thus presents Jesus saving people from the divine punishment of their past wrongdoings. However, this salvation is not presented as automatic. Rather, a person must have faith in order to receive this free gift of salvation. In the penal substitution view, salvation is not dependent upon human effort or deeds.
The penal substitution paradigm of salvation is widely held among Protestants, who often consider it central to Christianity. However, it has also been widely critiqued. Advocates of the New Perspective on Paul also argue that many New Testament books by Paul the Apostle used to support the theory of penal substitution should be interpreted differently.
Moral government theory
The “moral government theory” teaches that Christ suffered for humanity so that God could forgive humans without punishing them while still maintaining divine justice. It is traditionally taught in Arminian circles that draw primarily from the works of Hugo Grotius.
The “moral influence theory of atonement” was developed, or most notably propagated, by Abelard (1079-1142),[note 15] as an alternative to Anselm’s satisfaction theory. Abelard not only “rejected the idea of Jesus’ death as a ransom paid to the devil”, which turned the Devil into a rival god, but also objected to the idea that Jesus’ death was a “debt paid to God’s honor”. He also objected to the emphasis on God’s judgment, and the idea that God changed his mind after the sinner accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death, which was not easily reconcilable with the idea of “the perfect, impassible God [who] does not change”. Abelard focused on changing man’s perception of God as not offended, harsh, and judgemental, but as loving. According to Abelard, “Jesus died as the demonstration of God’s love”, a demonstration which can change the hearts and minds of the sinners, turning back to God.
During the Protestant Reformation in Western Christianity, the majority of the Reformers strongly rejected the moral influence view of the atonement in favor of penal substitution, a highly forensic modification of the honor-oriented Anselmian satisfaction model. Fausto Sozzini’s Socinian arm of the Reformation maintained a belief in the moral influence view of the atonement. Socinianism was an early form of Unitarianism, and the Unitarian Church today maintains a moral influence view of the atonement, as do many liberal Protestant theologians of the modern age.
During the 18th century, versions of the moral influence view found overwhelming support among German theologians, most notably the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. In the 19th and 20th century, it has been popular among liberal Protestantthinkers in the Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches, including the Anglican theologian Hastings Rashdall. A number of English theological works in the last hundred years have advocated and popularized the moral influence theory of atonement.
A strong division has remained since the Reformation between liberal Protestants (who typically adopt a moral influence view) and conservative Protestants (who typically adopt a penal substitutionary view). Both sides believe that their position is taught by the Bible.[note 16]
Moral example theory
A related theory, the “moral example theory”, was developed by Faustus Socinus (1539-1604) in his work De Jesu Christo servatore (1578). He rejected the idea of “vicarious satisfaction”.[note 17] According to Socinus, Jesus’ death offers us a perfect example of self-sacrifical dedication to God.”
A number of theologians see “example” (or “exemplar”) theories of the atonement as variations of the moral influence theory. Wayne Grudem, however, argues that “Whereas the moral influence theory says that Christ’s death teaches us how much God loves us, the example theory says that Christ’s death teaches us how we should live.” Grudem identifies the Socinians as supporters of the example theory.
Limited and unlimited atonement
According to Eastern theology, based upon their understanding of the atonement as put forward by Irenaeus recapitulation theory, Jesus’ death is a ransom. This restores the relation with God, who is loving and reaches out to humanity. Eastern Christianity was not much influenced by the theological writings of Augustine, and it generally views salvation less in forensic terms (e.g. pardon from punishment), more in therapeutic terms (healing from sickness, injury etc.). It views salvation more along the lines of divinizationor theosis, a seeking to become holy or draw closer to God by being united to him in will and operation as an extension of God in the world, a traditional concept taught in the Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Eastern Catholic Churches. It also stresses teaching about forgiveness.
The Orthodox Church further teaches that a person abides in Christ and makes his salvation sure not only by works of love, but also by his patient suffering of various griefs, illnesses, misfortunes and failures.[note 18]
In the Catholic theological understanding of salvation, after the Fall, humanity was “wounded by sin”, and “stands in need of salvation from God”. God invites us to enter into relationship with Him, and grace (Divine help), which is a gift from God, helps us to respond to this invitation. by believing in Christ and the truth of the Catholic Church.[web 11]
Christ died as a satisfaction for human’s offense against God’s honor, committed by human sinful behavior. Baptism is necessary for salvation.[web 11] It erases original sin, unites the person with Jesus Christ, infuses grace or Divine help, and gives him justification.[web 11] When one is baptized, one is saved.[web 11] Christ can work apart and before the sacrament of baptism, as desire for eventual baptism is grace enough to be saved, since God is not tied to the salvation of persons by means only of his instituted sacraments. To maintain salvation and grace, one has to perform good works and participate in the sacraments.[web 11]
Venial sin (lesser sin) lessens infused grace.[web 11] Venial sin can be redeemed by taking the Eucharist and performing penance.[web 11] The sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert, and to recover the grace of justification. In some cases, venial sin can also be forgiven by confessing to God alone. This way Christians outside of the Catholic Church, who don’t receive the sacrament, can also be saved. Indulgences are also necessary as substitute for the punishment earned by sin; these indulgences can also be applied for the dead.[web 11] A mortal sin makes infused grace and justification lost, and a Sacramental penance is needed to restore grace.[web 11]
In Protestantism, grace is the result of God’s initiative without any regard whatsoever to the one initiating the works, and no one can merit the grace of God by performing rituals, good works, asceticism, or meditation. Broadly speaking, Protestants hold to the five solae of the Reformation, which declare that salvation is attained by grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone for the Glory of God alone as told in Scripture alone.
Most Protestants believe that salvation is achieved through God’s grace alone, and once salvation is secured in the person, good works will be a result of this, allowing good works to often operate as a signifier for salvation. Some Protestants, such as Lutheransand the Reformed, understand this to mean that God saves solely by grace, and that works follow as a necessary consequence of saving grace. Others, such as Methodists (and other Arminians), believe that salvation is by faith alone, but that salvation can be forfeited if it is not accompanied by continued faith, and the works that naturally follow from it. A minority rigidly believe that salvation is accomplished by faith alone without any reference to works whatsoever, including the works that may follow salvation (see Free Grace theology).
Lutherans believe that God has justified all sinners, that is, he has declared them “not guilty” for the sake of Christ. Lutheran churches believe that this is the central message in the Bible upon which the very existence of the churches depends. In Lutheranism, it is a message relevant to people of all races and social levels, of all times and places, for “the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men” (Romans 5:18). All need forgiveness of sins before God, and Scripture proclaims that all have been justified, for “the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Romans 5:18).
Lutheranism teaches that individuals receive this free gift of forgiveness and salvation not on the basis of their own works, but only through faith (Sola fide):
|“||For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.(Ephesians 2:8,9)||”|
Saving faith is the knowledge of, acceptance of, and trust in the promise of the Gospel. Even faith itself is seen as a gift of God, created in the hearts of Christians by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word and Baptism. Faith is seen as an instrument that receives the gift of salvation, not something that causes salvation. Thus, Lutherans reject the “decision theology” which is common among modern evangelicals.
Calvinists believe in the predestination of the elect before the foundation of the world. All of the elect necessarily persevere in faith because God keeps them from falling away. Calvinists understand the doctrines of salvation to include the five points of Calvinism, typically arranged in English to form the acrostic “TULIP”.
- “Total depravity”, also called “total inability”, asserts that as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term “total” in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.) This doctrine is derived from Augustine’s explanation of Original Sin.
- “Unconditional election” asserts that God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people; rather, it is unconditionally grounded in God’s mercy alone. God has chosen from eternity to extend mercy to those he has chosen and to withhold mercy from those not chosen. Those chosen receive salvation through Christ alone. Those not chosen receive the just wrath that is warranted for their sins against God
- “Limited atonement”, also called “particular redemption” or “definite atonement”, asserts that Jesus’s substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its purpose and in what it accomplished. This implies that only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus’s death. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power, but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is designed for some and not all. Hence, Calvinists hold that the atonement is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect. The doctrine is driven by the Calvinistic concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and their understanding of the nature of the atonement.
- “Irresistible grace”, also called “efficacious grace”, asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and, in God’s timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith. This means that when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved. The doctrine holds that this purposeful influence of God’s Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit, “graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ.”
- “Perseverance of the saints”, or “preservation of the saints”, asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with or will return. The word “saints” is used to refer to all who are set apart by God, and not only those who are exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven).
Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity, held by Christian denominations such as the Methodist Church. It is based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609). Like Calvinists, Arminians agree that all people are born sinful and are in need of salvation. Classical Arminians emphasize that God’s free grace (or prevenient grace) enables humans to freely respond to or to reject the salvation offered through Christ. Classical Arminians believe that a person’s saving relationship with Christ is conditional upon faith, and thus, a person can sever their saving relationship with Christ through persistent unbelief.
The Five Articles of Remonstrance that Arminius’s followers formulated in 1610 state the beliefs regarding (I) conditional election, (II) unlimited atonement, (III) total depravity, (IV) total depravity and resistible grace, and (V) possibility of apostasy. However, the fifth article did not completely deny the perseverance of the saints; Arminius said that “I never taught that a true believer can… fall away from the faith… yet I will not conceal, that there are passages of Scripture which seem to me to wear this aspect; and those answers to them which I have been permitted to see, are not of such as kind as to approve themselves on all points to my understanding.” Further, the text of the Articles of Remonstrance says that no believer can be plucked from Christ’s hand, and the matter of falling away, “loss of salvation” required further study before it could be taught with any certainty.
Methodism affirms the doctrine of justification by faith, but in Wesleyan-Arminian theology, justification refers to “pardon, the forgiveness of sins”, rather than “being made actually just and righteous”, which Methodists believe is accomplished through sanctification.[note 19] John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Churches, taught that the keeping of the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments, as well as engaging in the works of piety and the works of mercy, were “indispensible for our sanctification”.
Wesley understood faith as a necessity for salvation, even calling it “the sole condition” of salvation, in the sense that it led to justification, the beginning point of salvation. At the same time, “as glorious and honorable as [faith] is, it is not the end of the commandment. God hath given this honor to love alone” (“The Law Established through Faith II,” §II.1). Faith is “an unspeakable blessing” because “it leads to that end, the establishing anew the law of love in our hearts” (“The Law Established through Faith II,” §II.6) This end, the law of love ruling in our hearts, is the fullest expression of salvation; it is Christian perfection. —Amy Wagner
Methodist soteriology emphasizes the importance of the pursuit of holiness in salvation, a concept best summarized in a quote by Methodist evangelist Phoebe Palmer who stated that “justification would have ended with me had I refused to be holy.”Thus, for Methodists, “true faith…cannot subsist without works”. Bishop Scott J. Jones in United Methodist Doctrine writes that in Methodist theology:
Faith is necessary to salvation unconditionally. Good works are necessary only conditionally, that is if there is time and opportunity. The thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43 is Wesley’s example of this. He believed in Christ and was told, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” This would be impossible if the good works that are the fruit of genuine repentance and faith were unconditionally necessary for salvation. The man was dying and lacked time; his movements were confined and he lacked opportunity. In his case, faith alone was necessary. However, for the vast majority of human beings good works are necessary for continuance in faith because those persons have both the time and opportunity for them.
Bishop Jones concludes that “United Methodist doctrine thus understands true, saving faith to be the kind that, give time and opportunity, will result in good works. Any supposed faith that does not in fact lead to such behaviors is not genuine, saving faith.”While “faith is essential for a meaningful relationship with God, our relationship with God also takes shape through our care for people, the community, and creation itself.” Methodism, inclusive of the holiness movement, thus teaches that “justification [is made] conditional on obedience and progress in sanctification”, emphasizing “a deep reliance upon Christ not only in coming to faith, but in remaining in the faith.”
Christian Universalists agree with both Calvinists and Arminians that everyone is born in sin and in need of salvation. They also believe that one is saved by Jesus Christ. However, they emphasize that judgment in hell upon sinners is of limited duration, and that God uses judgment to bring sinners to repentance.
Churches of Christ
Western Churches of Christ are strongly anti-Calvinist in their understanding of salvation, and generally present conversion as “obedience to the proclaimed facts of the gospel rather than as the result of an emotional, Spirit-initiated conversion.”
Some churches of Christ hold the view that humans of accountable age are lost because of their sins. These lost souls can be redeemed because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, offered himself as the atoning sacrifice. Children too young to understand right from wrong, and make a conscious choice between the two, are believed to be innocent of sin. The age when this occurs is generally believed to be around 13.
Some Churches of Christ that do not identify as a denomination teach that the process of salvation involves the following steps:
- One must be taught biblically and listen expositoraly
- One must believe or have faith
- One must repent of one’s sins, which means turning from one’s former lifestyle and choosing God’s ways
- One must confess belief that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior
- One must be baptized for the remission of sins
- One must remain faithful until death on Earth
Other Churches of Christ that identify as a denomination do not hold this view.
Beginning in the 1960s, many preachers began placing more emphasis on the role of grace in salvation, instead of focusing exclusively implementing all of the New Testament commands and examples. This was not an entirely new approach, as others had actively “affirmed a theology of free and unmerited grace”, but it did represent a change of emphasis with grace becoming “a theme that would increasingly define this tradition”.
Because of the belief that baptism is a necessary part of salvation, some Baptists hold that the Churches of Christ endorse the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. However, members of the Churches of Christ reject this, arguing that since faith and repentance are necessary, and that the cleansing of sins is by the blood of Christ through the grace of God, baptism is not an inherently redeeming ritual. One author describes the relationship between faith and baptism this way, “Faith is the reason why a person is a child of God; baptism is the time at which one is incorporated into Christ and so becomes a child of God” (italics are in the source). Baptism is understood as a confessional expression of faith and repentance, rather than a “work” that earns salvation.
Protestant beliefs about salvation. This table summarizes the classical views of three Protestant beliefs about salvation.
|Human will||Total depravity: Humanity possesses “free will”, but it is in bondage to sin, until it is “transformed”.||Original Sin: Humanity possesses free will in regard to “goods and possessions”, but is sinful by nature and unable to contribute to its own salvation. ||Humanity possesses freedom from necessity, but not “freedom from sin” unless enabled by “prevenient grace”.|
|Election||Unconditional election.||Unconditional election.||Conditional election in view of foreseen faith or unbelief.|
|Justification and atonement||Justification by faith alone. Various views regarding the extent of the atonement.||Justification for all men, completed at Christ’s death and effective through faith alone.||Justification made possible for all through Christ’s death, but only completed upon choosing faith in Jesus.|
|Conversion||Monergistic, through the means of grace, irresistible.||Monergistic, through the means of grace, resistible.||Synergistic, resistible due to the common grace of free will.|
|Perseverance and apostasy||Perseverance of the saints: the eternally elect in Christ will certainly persevere in faith.||Falling away is possible, but God gives gospel assurance.||Preservation is conditional upon continued faith in Christ; with the possibility of a final apostasy.|
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) defines the term salvation based on the teachings of their prophet Joseph Smith, as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants and summarized in the Articles of Faith (Latter Day Saints) number four.
“We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The general Christian belief that salvation means returning to the presence of God and Jesus is similar to the way the word is used in the Book of Mormon, wherein the prophet Amulek teaches that through the “great and last sacrifice” of the Son of God, “he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; … to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice.”
There are two kinds of salvation, conditional and unconditional. Unconditional salvation is similar to what is believed by other Christians in that the atonement of Jesus Christ redeems all humanity from the chains of death and they are resurrected to their perfect frames. They will also be redeemed from the powers of Satan, except those sons of perdition of vile wickedness and those who have been enemies to God, in which they will be returned to their master. All others will receive a degree of glory set apart for their just metes. Conditional salvation of the righteous comes by grace coupled with strict obedience to Gospel principles in which those who have upheld the highest standards and committed to the covenants and ordinances of God will inherit the highest heaven. Full salvation is attained by virtue of knowledge, truth, righteousness, and following true principles.
- Definition of salvation in Christianity:
* Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1989: “The saving of the soul; the deliverance from sin and its consequences”
* Michael J. Murray, Michael Rea (2012): “[Atonement] presupposes that saving human beings from death and separation from God primarily involves atoning for sin rather than (say) delivering human beings from some kind of bondage, repairing human nature, or something else. In the New Testament we find various terms and phrases (in addition to ‘salvation’) used to characterize or describe what the work of Jesus accomplished on behalf of humanity—e.g., justification, redemption or ransom, reconciliation, deliverance from sin, re-creation or rebirth, the offering of an atoning sacrifice, abundant life, and eternal life. Obviously these terms are not all synonymous; so part of the task of an overall theology of salvation—a soteriology—is to sort out the relations among these various terms and phrases (is salvation simply to be identified with eternal life, for example?), to determine which are to be taken literally and which are mere metaphors, and to explain which effects have been brought about by Jesus’ life, which by his death, which by his resurrection, and so on.”
* Anselm Kyongsuk Min: “At the heart of Christian faith is the reality and hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. Christian faith is faith in the God of salvation revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. The Christian tradition has always equated this salvation with the transcendent, eschatological fulfillment of human existence in a life freed from sin, finitude, and mortality and united with the triune God. This is perhaps the non-negotiable item of Christian faith. What has been a matter of debate is the relation between salvation and our activities in the world.”
- Sins in Judaism consist of different grades of severity:[web 1]
- The lightest is the ḥeṭ, ḥaṭṭa’ah, or ḥaṭṭat (lit. “fault,” “shortcoming,” “misstep”), an infraction of a commandment committed in ignorance of the existence or meaning of that command.
- The second kind is the awon, a breach of a minor commandment committed with a full knowledge of the existence and nature of that commandment (bemezid).
- The gravest kind is the pesha or mered, a presumptuous and rebellious act against God. Its worst form is the resha, such an act committed with a wicked intention.
- According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), “The Mishnah says that sins are expiated (1) by sacrifice, (2) by repentance at death or on Yom Kippur, (3) in the case of the lighter transgressions of the positive or negative precepts, by repentance at any time […] The graver sins, according to Rabbi, are apostasy, heretical interpretation of the Torah, and non-circumcision (Yoma 86a). The atonement for sins between a man and his neighbor is an ample apology (Yoma 85b).”[web 1]
The Jewish Virual Library writes: “Another important concept [of sacrifices] is the element of substitution. The idea is that the thing being offered is a substitute for the person making the offering, and the things that are done to the offering are things that should have been done to the person offering. The offering is in some sense “punished” in place of the offerer. It is interesting to note that whenever the subject of Karbanot is addressed in the Torah, the name of G-d used is the four-letter name indicating G-d’s mercy.”[web 8]
The Jewish Encyclopedia further writes: “Most efficacious seemed to be the atoning power of suffering experienced by the righteous during the Exile. This is the idea underlying the description of the suffering servant of God in Isa. liii. 4, 12, Hebr. […] of greater atoning power than all the Temple sacrifices was the suffering of the elect ones who were to be servants and witnesses of the Lord (Isa. xlii. 1-4, xlix. 1-7, l. 6). This idea of the atoning power of the suffering and death of the righteous finds expression also in IV Macc. vi. 27, xvii. 21-23; M. Ḳ. 28a; Pesiḳ. xxvii. 174b; Lev. R. xx.; and formed the basis of Paul’s doctrine of the atoning blood of Christ (Rom. iii. 25).”[web 9]
* Ted Peters (2015): “Justification is not enough for the Methodists. The Christian life cannot get along without transformation as well. Transformation is accomplished through the process of sanctification. “The one [justification] implies what God does for us through his Son, the other [sanctifiation] he works in us by his Spirit.” The spiritual life of the Methodist ends up reiterating what the Roman Catholics had deemed so important, namely transformation.”
Walter E. Elwell (2001): “This balance is most evident in Wesley’s understanding of faith and works, justification and sanctification […] Wesley, in a sermon entitled “Justification by Faith”, makes an attempt to define the term accurately. First, he states what justification is not. It is not being made actually just and righteous (that is sanctification). It is not being cleared of the accusations of Satan, nor of the law, nor even of God. We have sinned, so the accusation stands. Justification implies pardon, the forgiveness of sins […] Ultimately for the true Wesleyan salvation is completed by our return to original righteousness. This is done by the work of the Holy Spirit […] The Wesleyan tradition insists that grace is not contrasted with law but with the works of the law. Wesleyans remind us that Jesus came to fulfill, not destroy the law. God made us in his perfect image, and he wants that image restored. He wants to return us to a full and perfect obedience through the process of sanctification […] Good works follow after justification as its inevitable fruit. Wesley insisted that Methodists who did not fulfill all righteousness deserved the hottest place in the lake of fire.”
- The earliest Christian writings give several titles to Jesus, such as Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, and Kyrios, which were all derived from the Hebrew scriptures.[web 2]
- Karl Barth notes a range of alternative themes: forensic (we are guilty of a crime, and Christ takes the punishment), financial(we are indebted to God, and Christ pays our debt) and cultic(Christ makes a sacrifice on our behalf). For various cultural reasons, the oldest themes (honor and sacrifice) prove to have more depth than the more modern ones (payment of a debt, punishment for a crime). But in all these alternatives, the understanding of atonement has the same structure. Human beings owe something to God that we cannot pay. Christ pays it on our behalf. Thus God remains both perfectly just (insisting on a penalty) and perfectly loving (paying the penalty himself). A great many Christians would define such a substitutionary view of the atonement as simply part of what orthodox Christians believe.
Briscoe and Ogilvie (2003): “Paul says that Christ’s ransom price is his blood.”
* Cobb: “The question is whether Paul thought that God sacrificed Jesus to atone for human sins. During the past thousand years, this idea has often been viewed in the Western church as at the heart of Christianity, and many of those who uphold it have appealed to Paul as its basis […] In fact, the word “atonement” is lacking in many standard translations. The King James Translation uses “propitiation”, and the Revised Standard Version uses “expiation.” The American Translation reads: “For God showed him publicly dying as a sacrifice of reconciliation to be taken advantage of through faith.” The Good News Bible renders the meaning as: “God offered him, so that by his sacrificial death he should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through their faith in him.” Despite this variety, and the common avoidance of the word “atonement,” all these translations agree with the New Revised Standard Version in suggesting that God sacrificed Jesus so that people could be reconciled to God through faith. All thereby support the idea that is most directly formulated by the use of the word “atonement.”[web 5]
- Dunn quotes Stendahl: “Cf Stendahl, Paul among Jews and Gentiles, passim-e.g “… a doctrine of faith was hammered out by Paul for the very specific and limited pupose of defending the rights of Gentile converts to be full and genuine heirs to the promise of God to Israel”(p.2)”
Stephen Westerholm: “For Paul, the question that “justification by faith” was intended to answer was, “On what terms can Gentiles gain entrance to the people of God?” Bent on denying any suggestion that Gentiles must become Jews and keep the Jewish law, he answered, “By faith—and not by works of the (Jewish) law.””[web 6] Westerholm refers to: Krister Stendahl, The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West, Harvard Theological Review 56 (1963), 199–215; reprinted in Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), 78–96.
Westerholm quotes Sanders: “Sanders noted that “the salvation of the Gentiles is essential to Paul’s preaching; and with it falls the law; for, as Paul says simply, Gentiles cannot live by the law (Gal. 2.14)” (496). On a similar note, Sanders suggested that the only Jewish “boasting” to which Paul objected was that which exulted over the divine privileges granted to Israel and failed to acknowledge that God, in Christ, had opened the door of salvation to Gentiles.”
- Jordan Cooper: “Sanders sees Paul’s motifs of salvation as more participationist than juristic. The reformation overemphasized the judicial categories of forgiveness and escape from condemnation, while ignoring the real heart of salvation, which is a mystical participation in Christ. Paul shows this in his argument in his first epistle to the Corinthians when arguing against sexual immorality. It is wrong because it affects one’s union with Christ by uniting himself to a prostitute. Sin is not merely the violation of an abstract law. This participationist language is also used in Corinthians in the discussion of the Lord’s Supper wherein one participates in the body and blood of Christ.”[web 10]
- Stubbs: Rom 3:22, 26; Gal. 2:16, 20; 3:22, 26; Phil. 3:9; Eph. 3:12, 4:13; Tonstad: Rom 1:17; 3:21, 22, 25; Gal 3:23, 25
- See also:
* Arland J. Hultgren, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Commentary, Appendix 3: “Pistis Christou: Faith in or of Christ?”
* Pistis Christou Debate Timeline
- Still, Longenecker (2014): “For many interpreters, certain passages within Paul’s letters take on a much fuller theological dimension when they are seen to include a reference to the faith(fulnes) of Jesus Christ. In a passage like Rom 3:21-26, for instance, the inbreaking of God’s faithful righteousness is not simply “to all who believe,” but is to all who believe “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ”.”
- Cobb notes that, in this view, Paul did not propagate a moral influence theory, but something more: “Jesus saves us by being radically faithful. This faithfulness shows us the true character of God’s justice. This whole passage emphasizes God’s disclosing and demonstrating this paradoxical justice that would more typically be called mercy. The disclosure transforms the relation of God and the world from one of wrath of one of love. Human participation is this new transformed situation is by faithfulness. This faithfulness is a participation in the faithfulness of Jesus. God views those who participate in Jesus’ faithfulness in terms of the justice to which they thereby attain rather than in terms of their continuing sinfulness. This participation in Jesus’ faithfulness entails readiness to suffer with Jesus. In baptism we participate in Jesus’ death and burial. By thus being united with Jesus, the faithful live in confidence that they will rise with him and share in his glory.”[web 5]
- Recently, this claim has been criticized as a Straw man.
- Pugh notes that “the very earliest Patristic writings […] lean towards a moralistic interpretation of the cross, but rejects the idea that this constiruted a full-fledged theory of moral influence of atonement. He mentions A. J. Wallace and R. D. Rusk (2011), Moral Transformation: The Original Christian Paradigm of Salvation as a “recent attempt to prove at legth that ‘moral transformation’ was ‘the original Christian paradigm of salvation.’ This work consists of a totally one-sided presentation of biblical and historical data.”
According to Beilby and Eddy, subjective theories, of which Abelard’s is one, emphasize God’s love for humanity, and focus on changing man’s attitude. According to Beilby and Eddy, “[a]ny New Testament text that proclaim’s God’s love for humanity and consequent desire to save sinners can be brought forth as evidence for this interpretation of the atonement.”
- William C. Placher: “Debates about how Christ saves us have tended to divide Protestants into conservatives who defended some form of substitutionary atonement theory and liberals who were more apt to accept a kind of moral influence theory. Both those approaches were about 900 years old. Recently, new accounts of Christ’s salvific work have been introduced or reintroduced, and the debates have generally grown angrier, at least from the liberal side. Those who defended substitutionary atonement were always ready to dismiss their opponents as heretics; now some of their opponents complain that a focus on substitutionary atonement leads to violence against women and to child abuse.”
- Christ suffering for, or punished for, the sinners.
- (Luke 16:19-31, Mark 8:31-38, Romans 6:3-11, Hebrews 12:1-3, Galatians 6:14).
- Elwell (2001): “This balance is most evident in Wesley’s understanding of faith and works, justification and sanctification […] Wesley himself in a sermon entitled “Justification by Faith” makes an attempt to define the term accurately. First, he states what justification is not. It is not being made actually just and righteous (that is sanctification). It is not being cleared of the accusations of Satan, nor of the law, nor even of God. We have sinned, so the accusation stands. Justification implies pardon, the forgiveness of sins. … Ultimately for the true Wesleyan salvation is completed by our return to original righteousness. This is done by the work of the Holy Spirit. … The Wesleyan tradition insists that grace is not contrasted with law but with the works of the law. Wesleyans remind us that Jesus came to fulfill, not destroy the law. God made us in his perfect image, and he wants that image restored. He wants to return us to a full and perfect obedience through the process of sanctification […] Good works follow after justification as its inevitable fruit. Wesley insisted that Methodists who did not fulfill all righteousness deserved the hottest place in the lake of fire.
- Michael J. Murray, Michael Rea (2012), Philosophy and Christian Theology, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- “Christian Doctrines of Salvation.” Religion facts. June 20, 2009. http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/beliefs/salvation.htm
- Min 1989, p. 79.
- Holcomb 2017, p. 2.
- Newman 1982, p. 123.
- Parry 2004.
- Mishnah, Yoma,8:9
- “Judaism 101: Qorbanot: Sacrifices and Offerings”. www.jewfaq.org.
- Sabourin, p. 696
- Contra Faustum Manichaeum, 22,27; PL 42,418; cf. Thomas Aquinas, STh I–II q71 a6.
- Mc Guinness, p. 241
- Alexander Golitzin, On the Mystical Life by Saint Symeon (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press 1995 ISBN 978-0-88141-144-7), p. 119
- Adam L. Tate, Conservatism and Southern Intellectuals, 1789–1861 (University of Missouri Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-8262-1567-3), p. 190
- Marcelle Bartolo-Abel, God’s Gift to Humanity(Apostolate–The Divine Heart 2011 ISBN 978-0-9833480-1-6), p. 32
- Ann Hassan, Annotations to Geoffrey Hill’s Speech! Speech! (Punctum Books 2012 ISBN 978-1-4681-2984-7, p. 62
- ODCC 2005, p. Original sin.
- Bavink, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 3. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) Pages 75-125 detail the historical development of Hamartiology, including Pelagius’s position and the mediating positions)
- Andreä, Jakob; Chemnitz, Martin; Selnecker, Nikolaus; Chytraeus, David; Musculus, Andreas; Körner, Christoph (1577), Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord
- Melanchthon, Philip, ed. (1530), The Augsburg Confession
- Canons of Dordrecht, “The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine”
- Westminster Assembly (1646), Westminster Confession of Faith
- Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 25.
- Heidelberg Catechism, question 8.
- Arminius, James The Writings of James Arminius (three vols.), tr. James Nichols and W. R. Bagnall (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1956), I:252.
- George Peck, ed. (1847). The Methodist Quarterly Review. New York: Lane & Tippett. XXIX: 444.Missing or empty
- Breck, John (1 September 2006). “God’s “Righteousness““. Orthodox Church in America. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
In the West, at least in the popular mind, the debate was long polarized between Catholic emphasis on salvation through “works-righteousness,” and Protestant insistence on “justification by faith (alone!).” Protestantism believes salvation is accomplished by grace in response to faith. But that faith cannot be passive; it must express itself, not merely by confessing Jesus as “personal Lord and Savior,” but by feeding, clothing, visiting and otherwise caring for the “least” of Jesus’ brethren (Mt 25).
- For example, Kurt Aland, A History of Christianity, vol. 2, trans. James Schaaf (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986) p. 13-14.
- O’Kelley, Aaron T. (7 October 2014). Did the Reformers Misread Paul?: A Historical-Theological Critique of the New Perspective. Wipf & Stock Publishers. p. 43. ISBN9781625647726.
Fourth, justification is connected to the sacramental system, particularly the sacraments of baptism and penance. The former is the instrumental cause of initiaul justification, and the latter restores justification once it has been lost through mortall sin […] Final salvation, therefore, is the result of an inherent, though imperfect, righteousness.
- Peters, Ted (1 August 2015). God–The World’s Future: Systematic Theology for a New Era, Third Edition. Augsburg Fortress Publishers. p. 391. ISBN9781506400419.
- Elwell 2001, p. 1268.
- Bartos 1999, p. 253.
- Kapsanis 2006.
- Cross & Livingston 1997.
- Abraham 2019, p. 224.
- CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Justification. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church, p.124, entry “Atonement”. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- Brown 1994, p. 4.
- Baker 2006, p. 25.
- Finlan 2004, p. 1.
- Weaver 2001, p. 2.
- Beilby & Eddy 2009, p. 11-20.
- Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement, E.T. London: SPCK; New York: Macmillan,1931
- Placher, William C. “How does Jesus save? Christian Century, 00095281, 6/2/2009, Vol. 126, Issue 11
- Mack 1997, p. 85.
- Briscoe & Ogilvie 2003.
- Stubs 2008, p. 142-143.
- Stendahl 1963.
- Dunn 1982, p. n.49.
- Finlan 2001, p. 2.
- Karkkainen 2016, p. 30.
- Mack 1995, p. 86=87.
- Finlan 2004, p. 4.
- Mack 1997, p. 88.
- Mack 1997, p. 88-89, 92.
- Mack 1997, p. 91-92.
- Charry 1999, p. 35.
- Charry 1999, p. 35-36.
- Stubbs 2008, p. 137.
- Tonstad 2016, p. 309.
- Hultgren 2011, p. Appendix 3.
- Hultgren 2011, p. 624.
- Hays 2002.
- Hultgren 2011, p. Appendix 3: “Pistis Christou: Faith in or of Christ?”.
- Still & Longenecker 2014.
- Pugh 2015, p. 5.
- Oxenham 1865, p. 114.
- Oxenham 1865, p. xliv,114.
- Pugh 2015, p. 4.
- Pugh 2015, p. 5-6.
- Pugh 2015, p. 6.
- Pugh 2015, p. 8.
- Leon Morris, ‘Theories of the Atonement’ in Elwell Evangelical Dictionary.
- Pugh 2015, p. 1.
- Oxenham 1865, p. 114-118.
- E.g., James Bethune-Baker, An introduction to the early history of Christian doctrine to the time of the Council of Chalcedon (London: Methuen & Co, 1903), p. 334: ‘Just as mankind in Adam lost its birthright, so in Christ mankind recovers its original condition’.
- Robert S. Franks, A history of the doctrine of the work of Christ in its ecclesiastical development vol. 1 (London: Hodder and Stoughton), p. 37-38
- Pugh 2015, p. 31.
- Rutledge, Fleming (2015). The Crucifixion. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 146–166. ISBN978-0-8028-7534-1.
- A. J. Wallace, R. D. Rusk Moral Transformation: The Original Christian Paradigm of Salvation, (New Zealand: Bridgehead, 2011) ISBN978-1-4563-8980-2
- David. A. Brondos, Paul on the Cross: Reconstructing the Apostle’s Story of Redemption (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2006) ISBN978-0-8006-3788-0
- Stephen Finlan, Problems With Atonement: The Origins Of, And Controversy About, The Atonement Doctrine (Liturgical Press, 2005) ISBN978-0-8146-5220-6
- Joel B. Green, Mark D. Baker, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament & Contemporary Contexts(IVP Academic, 2000) ISBN978-0-8308-1571-5
- Weaver 2001, p. 18.
- Beilby & Eddy 2009, p. 18.
- Pugh 2015, p. 126.
- Pugh 2015, p. 127.
- Weaver 2018, p. 18.
- Beilby & Eddy 2009, p. 18-19.
- Beilby & Eddy 2009, p. 19.
- Beilby & Eddy 2009, p. 19-20.
- Alister McGrath, ‘The Moral Theory of the Atonement: An Historical and Theological Critique’ in Scottish Journal of Theology, 38, pp 205-220.
- Hastings Rashdall, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (London: Macmillan, 1919).
- David A. Brondos, Paul on the Cross: Reconstructing the Apostle’s Story of Redemption (Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press, 2006).
- Chris VanLandingham, Judgment and Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul (Peabody MA:Hendrickson, 2006).
- Coppedge, Allan. Portraits of God: A Biblical Theology of Holiness. p. 345. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. p. 539. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- “struggler.org”. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26.
- “Solemni Hac Liturgia (Credo of the People of God) (June 30, 1968) – Paul VI”.
- “Catechism of the Catholic Church – Grace and justification”.
- Pohle, Joseph. “The Catholic Encyclopedia”. Sanctifying Grace. New Advent. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1992. Vatican City-State.
Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.
- “Catechism of the Catholic Church”.
- “Unitatis redintegratio”.
- This We Believe – IV. Justification by grace through faith
- Keller, Brian R., Believe it or not: You Are Forgiven Through Christ!, p4, “The forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in the gospel as a ready and complete blessing, won by Christ Jesus. Yet, no one receives the benefits of this gospel message without faith. By faith, the individual receives the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.”
- John 17:3, Luke 1:77,Galatians 4:9, Philippians 3:8, and 1 Timothy 2:4 refer to faith in terms of knowledge.
- John 5:46 refers to acceptance of the truth of Christ’s teaching, while John 3:36 notes the rejection of his teaching.
- John 3:16,36, Galatians 2:16, Romans 4:20-25, 2 Timothy 1:12 speak of trust, confidence, and belief in Christ. John 3:18 notes belief in the name of Christ, and Mark 1:15 notes belief in the gospel.
- Engelder, T.E.W., Popular Symbolics. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934. pp. 54-5, Part XIV. “Sin”
- Ps. 51:10, Engelder, T.E.W., Popular Symbolics. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p.57 Part XV. “Conversion”, paragraph 78.
- John 17:20, Rom. 10:17, Engelder, T.E.W., Popular Symbolics. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p.101 Part XXV. “The Church”, paragraph 141.
- Titus 3:5, Engelder, T.E.W., Popular Symbolics. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p.87 Part XXIII. “Baptism”, paragraph 118.
- Eph. 2:8, Engelder, T.E.W., Popular Symbolics. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p.57 Part XV. “Conversion”, paragraph 78.
- WELS Topical Q&A: Decision Theology, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
- The TULIP acrostic first appeared in Loraine Boettner’s The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. The names appearing in parentheses, while not forming an acrostic, are offered by Theologian Roger Nicole in Steele’s book cited herein, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined.
- David Steele and Curtis Thomas, “The Five Points of Calvinism Defined, Defended, Documented,” pg.25, “The adjective ‘total’ does not mean that each sinner is as totally or completely corrupt in his actions and thoughts as it is possible for him to be. Instead, the word ‘total’ is used to indicate that the “whole” of man’s being has been affected by sin.”
- “Westminster Confession of Faith”.
- The Five Points of Calvinism. The Calvinist Corner. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Comparison of Calvinism and Arminianism. The-highway.com. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Loraine Boettner. “The Perseverance of the Saints”. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- Arminius Writings, I:254
- Robinson, Jeff (25 August 2015). “Meet a Reformed Arminian”. TGC. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
Reformed Arminianism’s understanding of apostasy veers from the Wesleyan notion that individuals may repeatedly fall from grace by committing individual sins and may be repeatedly restored to a state of grace through penitence.
- Campbell, Ted A. (1 October 2011). Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials, 2nd Edition. Abingdon Press. pp. 40, 68–69. ISBN9781426753473.
- Knight III, Henry H. (9 July 2013). “Wesley on Faith and Good Works”. AFTE. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- Wagner, Amy (20 January 2014). “Wesley on Faith, Love, and Salvation”. AFTE. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- Joyner, F. Belton (2007). United Methodist Answers. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 80. ISBN9780664230395.
Jacob Albright, founder of the movement that led to the Evangelical Church flow in The United Methodist Church, got into trouble with some of his Lutheran, Reformed, and Mennonite neighbors because he insisted that salvation not only involved ritual but meant a change of heart, a different way of living.
- Sawyer, M. James (11 April 2016). The Survivor’s Guide to Theology. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 363. ISBN9781498294058.
- Jones, Scott J. (2002). United Methodist Doctrine. Abingdon Press. p. 190. ISBN9780687034857.
- Langford, Andy; Langford, Sally (2011). Living as United Methodist Christians: Our Story, Our Beliefs, Our Lives. Abingdon Press. p. 45. ISBN9781426711930.
- Tennent, Timothy (9 July 2011). “Means of Grace: Why I am a Methodist and an Evangelical”. Asbury Theological Seminary. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- “Merciful Truth”. Retrieved 14 Feb 2009.
- Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN0-8028-3898-7, ISBN978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Churches of Christ
- Ron Rhodes, The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations, Harvest House Publishers, 2005, ISBN0-7369-1289-4
- Stuart M. Matlins, Arthur J. Magida, J. Magida, How to Be a Perfect Stranger: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People’s Religious Ceremonies, Wood Lake Publishing Inc., 1999, ISBN1-896836-28-3, ISBN978-1-896836-28-7, 426 pages, Chapter 6 – Churches of Christ
- Batsell Barrett Baxter, Who are the churches of Christ and what do they believe in? Available on-line in an “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on June 19, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-10., and here , here “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2006-06-22. Retrieved 2006-06-22. and here “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2006-07-13.
- “The Churches of Christ, the Christian Churches, the Disciples of Christ”. Christian Research Institute.
- Richard Thomas Hughes and R. L. Roberts, The Churches of Christ, 2nd Edition, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, ISBN0-313-23312-8, ISBN978-0-313-23312-8, 345 pages
- Douglas A. Foster, “Churches of Christ and Baptism: An Historical and Theological Overview,”Archived 2010-05-20 at the Wayback MachineRestoration Quarterly, Volume 43/Number 2 (2001)
- Tom J. Nettles, Richard L. Pratt, Jr., John H. Armstrong, Robert Kolb, Understanding Four Views on Baptism, Zondervan, 2007, ISBN0-310-26267-4, ISBN978-0-310-26267-1, 222 pages
- Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN0-8028-3898-7, ISBN978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Regeneration
- Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996, ISBN0-8028-4189-9, ISBN978-0-8028-4189-6, 443 pages
- Table adapted from Lange, Lyle W. God So Loved the World: A Study of Christian Doctrine (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2006), 448, with the addition of specific citations.
- Table drawn from, though not copied, from Lange, Lyle W. God So Loved the World: A Study of Christian Doctrine. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2006. p. 448.
- “Calvinism and Lutheranism Compared”. WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 26 January2015.
Both (Lutherans and Calvinists) agree on the devastating nature of the fall and that man by nature has no power to aid in his conversions…and that election to salvation is by grace. In Lutheranism the German term for election is Gnadenwahl, election by grace–there is no other kind.
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge, III.23.2.
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge, II.3.5.
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge, III.3.6.
- WELS Topical Q&A: WELS vs Assembly of God: “[P]eople by nature are dead in their tranbsgressions (sic) and sin and therefore have no ability to decide of Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 5). We do not choose Christ, rather he chose us (John 15:16) We believe that human beings are purely passive in conversion.”
- Augsburg Confessional, Article XVIII, Of Free Will, saying: “(M)an’s will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14); but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is received through the Word.”
- Henry Cole, trans., Martin Luther on the Bondage of the Will(London, T. Bensley, 1823), 66. The controversial term liberum arbitrium was translated “free-will” by Cole. However Ernest Gordon Rupp and Philip Saville Watson, Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation (Westminister, 1969) chose “free choice” as their translation.
- Keith D. Stanglin and Thomas H. McCall, Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace (Oxford University, 2012), 157-158.
- The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Lutheran Church, XI. Election. “Predestination” means “God’s ordination to salvation”.
- Roger E. Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities(InterVarsity Press, 2009), 63. “Arminians accepts divine election, [but] they believe it is conditional.”
- The Westminster Confession, III:6, says that only the “elect” are “effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved.” However in his Calvin and the Reformed Tradition (Baker, 2012), 45, Richard A. Muller observes that “a sizeable body of literature has interpreted Calvin as teaching “limited atonement”, but “an equally sizeable body . . . [interprets] Calvin as teaching “unlimited atonement”.
- “Justification / Salvation”. WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
Romans 3:23-24, 5:9, 18 are other passages that lead us to say that it is most appropriate and accurate to say that universal justification is a finished fact. God has forgiven the sins of the whole world whether people believe it or not. He has done more than “made forgiveness possible.” All this is for the sake of the perfect substitutionary work of Jesus Christ.
- “IV. Justification by Grace through Faith”. This We Believe. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Retrieved 5 February2015.
We believe that God has justified all sinners, that is, he has declared them righteous for the sake of Christ. This is the central message of Scripture upon which the very existence of the church depends. It is a message relevant to people of all times and places, of all races and social levels, for “the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men” (Romans 5:18). All need forgiveness of sins before God, and Scripture proclaims that all have been justified, for “the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Romans 5:18). We believe that individuals receive this free gift of forgiveness not on the basis of their own works, but only through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). … On the other hand, although Jesus died for all, Scripture says that “whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Unbelievers forfeit the forgiveness won for them by Christ (John 8:24).
- Becker, Siegbert W. “Objective Justification”(PDF). Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. p. 1. Retrieved 26 January2015.
- “Universal Justification”. WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
Christ paid for all our sins. God the Father has therefore forgiven them. But to benefit from this verdict we need to hear about it and trust in it. If I deposit money in the bank for you, to benefit from it you need to hear about it and use it. Christ has paid for your sins, but to benefit from it you need to hear about it and believe in it. We need to have faith but we should not think of faith as our contribution. It is a gift of God which the Holy Spirit works in us.
- Augsburg Confession, Article V, Of Justification. People “cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. …”
- “Faith is a condition of justification”. Keith D. Stanglin and Thomas H. McCall, Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace(Oxford University, 2012), 136.
- Paul ChulHong Kang, Justification: The Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness from Reformation Theology to the American Great Awakening and the Korean Revivals (Peter Lang, 2006), 70, note 171. Calvin generally defends Augustine’s “monergistic view”.
- Diehl, Walter A. “The Age of Accountability”. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
In full accord with Scripture the Lutheran Confessions teach monergism. “In this manner, too, the Holy Scriptures ascribe conversion, faith in Christ, regeneration, renewal and all the belongs to their efficacious beginning and completion, not to the human powers of the natural free will, neither entirely, nor half, nor in any, even the least or most inconsiderable part, but in solidum, that is, entirely, solely, to the divine working and the Holy Ghost” (Trigl. 891, F.C., Sol. Decl., II, 25).
- Monergism; thefreedictionary.com
- “Calvinism and Lutheranism Compared”. WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Roger E. Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities(InterVarsity Press, 2009), 18. “Arminian synergism” refers to “evangelical synergism, which affirms the prevenience of grace.”
- The Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch XVII, “Of the Perseverance of the Saints”.
- “Once saved always saved”. WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
People can fall from faith. The Bible warns, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Some among the Galatians had believed for a while, but had fallen into soul-destroying error. Paul warned them, “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4). In his explanation of the parable of the sower, Jesus says, “Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in time of testing they fall away” (Luke 8:13). According to Jesus a person can believe for a while and then fall away. While they believed they possessed eternal salvation, but when they fell from faith they lost God’s gracious gift.
- “Perseverence of the Saints (Once Saved Always Saved)”. WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
We cannot contribute one speck to our salvation, but by our own arrogance or carelessness we can throw it away. Therefore, Scripture urges us repeatedly to fight the good fight of faith (Ephesians 6 and 2 Timothy 4 for example). My sins threaten and weaken my faith, but the Spirit through the gospel in word and sacraments strengthens and preserves my faith. That’s why Lutherans typically speak of God’s preservation of faith and not the perseverance of the saints. The key is not our perseverance but the Spirit’s preservation.
- Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Crossway, 1997), 437-438.
- “Many Arminians deny the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.” Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Crossway, 1997), 35.
- LDS Church (2006), “The Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, The Pearl of Great Price(online ed.)
- “Alma 34:14-16”.
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