Soteriology is the doctrine of salvation or the study of it.
(Etymology: Gk. soter- savior, soterion- salvation). Soteriology- Doctrine Of salvation esp of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was arrested and brought before Caiaphas the high priest, the question this high priest asked was of his doctrine and his disciples.
John 18:19 (KJV) The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
Doctrine determines disciples, faith and denominations. The stronger the differences in doctrine the more divisive the disciples.
The church is not strange to conflict in doctrines.
Since its birth the church has been internally plagued with exiles, excommunications, executions of her own professing members and persecutions by external other religions of strange doctrines.
Diverse doctrines in the church has brought about 40,000 denominations according to Wikipedia.
The church may be irreconcilably divided when it comes to Essential Christian Doctrines because they can fundamentally change the gospel. The church may disagree on non essential doctrines and not be fundamentally divided on them
The doctrine of salvation is not a small matter, yet two strong and irreconcilable doctrines have coexisted in the church since the 17th Century. They are Calvinism vs Arminianism
John Calvin 1509-1564 a French Theologian and proponent of Reformed Theology in Protestantism developed his theology on soteriology termed Calvinism.
His chief opponent is:
Jacob Arminius 1560 -1609 a Dutch Theologian who is the founder of Arminianism.
CALVINISM.- THE FIVE POINTS
This doctrine is simplified for understanding by five points called the Five Points Of Calvinism with an acronym. T.U.L.I.P.
T. TOTAL DEPRAVITY :
Man is born dead in sin in light of the Original Sin. The condition of the Original Sin impaired his nature totally and is universal to all humans . Man cannot not sin. He needs a savior yet cannot call on God . Gen. 6:5, Jer 17:9, Rom 3:9-12
U. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION
Believers are elected by God based solely on God’s counsel. Man plays no role in it. Jn 15:16, Jn 6:37, 44,65 Rom 9:16,22,23 Acts13:48
The agency of salvation is one. - Monergism
L. LIMITED ATONEMENT .
Christ died only for the elect.
I. IRRESISTIBLE GRACE
The one to whom God gives grace to receive salvation cannot resist it. Jn 6:44
P. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
The elect will persevere to the end. He cannot lose his salvation
Strength and weaknesses of Calvinism ( Monergism vs Free will)
Calvinism stresses the sovereignty of God in the light of salvation as by God alone and that man plays no role in it. This theory strains the justice and compassion of God.
Example: Assume that two people or say twins went to the same church. God choses the junior and left the senior not based on anything they have done or will do except for the fact that they were both born in sin committed by Adam. Neither of these twins has any ability to come to God and will go to hell unless God who gives the ability, helps him. God refused to give help to the senior and in the end sends him to everlasting lake of fire. How does that reconcile with the biblical claims of God as gracious, full of compassion, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. Ps 145:9
QUESTIONS TO THE CALVINIST.
1. How does God ‘passing over the helpless dead’ reconcile with His justice and compassion?
2. How does the act of acceptance of a gift constitute works for the gift?
3. Could not a Sovereign God give free will and ask one to exercise it? If yes how does that diminish sovereignty?
ARMINIANISM - BY JACOB ARMINIUS
FOCAL POINT : SYNERGISM. THIS MEANS THE AGENCY OF SALVATION IS MORE THAN ONE. IT IS SYNERGISTIC AND IN THIS CASE BY GOD AND MAN
ARMINIUS’ OPPOSING VIEWS TO CALVINISM WERE ENHANCED BY HIS FOLLOWERS AFTER HIS DEATH. THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE REMONSTRANTS SIGNIFYING THEIR AUTHORSHIP OF THEIR REMONSTRANCE (MEANING OPPOSING VIEWS) AGAINST CALVINISM.
THE FULL TEXT OF THEIR FIVE POINTS OF REMONSTRANCE IS FURTHER BELOW. MEANWHILE HERE IS A SUMMARY.
1. TOTAL DEPRAVITY/Free will aided by prevenient grace.
2. CONDITIONAL ELECTION
Rom 8:29, 11:2,
3. ATONEMENT FOR ALL 2Pe 3:9 Jn 12:32,
4. RESISTIBLE GRACE
5. SOME CAN LOSE THEIR SALVATION
Matt 19:22, Matt 24:13
CONFLICT OF FOCUS. (SYNERGISM VS SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD)
Arminianism stresses the justice, compassion and mercy of God in light of the theory that God gives grace or prevenient grace for all mankind to receive Him because Christ died for all, but it is the man who exercises his free will to accept God’s grace or walk away from it.
Questions to be answered:
1. When man accepts God’s grace, and receives salvation, does that constitute salvation by works as claimed by Calvinist?
2. If God gives man grace and free will to accept or refuse salvation does that deny the sovereignty of God?
THE FIVE ARTICLES OF REMONSTRANCE PRESENTED BY THE REMONSTRANTS OF ARMINIANISM
That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.Article 2
That agreeably thereunto, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And in the First Epistle of 1 John 2:2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”Article 3
That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”Article 4
That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and cooperative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. but respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible; inasmuch as it is written concerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Acts 7, and elsewhere in many places.Article 5
That those who are incorporated into Christ by true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory; it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the Word of Christ, John 10:28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginning of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our mind.