Soteriology is the doctrine of salvation. This an important for the church because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is essential to the salvation of lost souls. To preach the gospel, we must first know what the Gospel is.
The Gospel Explained
The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, and it is the central message of the Christian faith. The word “gospel” comes from an Old English word meaning “good news” or “glad tidings.” In essence, the Gospel is the story of God’s love for humanity and His plan to save us from sin and death.
The Gospel is primarily conveyed in the New Testament of the Bible, and it centers around the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the Gospel, God created humanity in His image and for a relationship with Him, but sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, and all of humanity has been affected by sin ever since.
However, God did not leave humanity to its own devices. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take on human form and live a perfect life. Jesus’ teachings, miracles, and examples of sacrificial love for humanity demonstrated God’s love and mercy toward us. He then willingly died on the cross, taking upon Himself the punishment for the sins of humanity so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God.
The Gospel message continues with the good news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. By rising from the dead, Jesus conquered death and demonstrated His power and authority over sin and evil. This victory over death is available to all who believe in Jesus and follow Him as their Lord and Savior.
In summary, the Gospel is the good news of God’s love for humanity, demonstrated in Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Through faith in Jesus, we can be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life with God.
How Does God Save Sinner?
This is the Gospel, and every child of God believes the Gospel. However, there are differing opinions about how God saves sinners. You may have heard of the debate between Arminianism and Calvinism, but what about Pelagianism, and Semi-Pelagianism? I am not interested in sparking a divisive debate. I want you about the various viewpoints that inform this debate. Let me share 4 stances on Soteriorlogy. The first 2 were declared heresy by early church councils, although these views are still held by many people. The last two are the most prominent views in the evangelical church.
Pelagianism is a Christian theological doctrine named after the British monk Pelagius (ca. 360–420). It is the belief that humans have the free will to choose their own actions and the responsibility to choose good actions over bad ones. According to this doctrine, divine grace is not necessary for salvation, and people are capable of achieving perfection through human effort. It is a form of semi-Pelagianism, which holds that people can initiate their own salvation through their own efforts but still need divine grace to be saved. Pelagianism is opposed to the doctrine of original sin, which holds that people are born sinful and in need of divine grace to be saved.
Semi-Pelagianism is a theological view that emerged in the early church as a compromise between two opposing theological positions, Pelagianism and Augustinianism.
Pelagianism was a teaching that denied the doctrine of original sin and claimed that humans are capable of living sinless lives and earning their salvation through their own efforts. This view was condemned as heretical by the Church.
On the other hand, Augustinianism emphasized the doctrine of original sin and the complete dependence of humans on God’s grace for salvation. According to this view, humans are incapable of doing anything to merit their salvation.
Semi-Pelagianism attempted to find a middle ground between these two views. It agreed with Augustinianism that humans are fallen and incapable of saving themselves, but it also argued that humans still have the ability to take the initiative to seek God’s grace and respond to it in faith.
In other words, while Semi-Pelagians affirmed that salvation is ultimately a work of God’s grace, they also held that humans play an active role in their salvation by responding to God’s grace with faith and good works. This view emphasized the cooperation between God’s grace and human free will in the process of salvation.
Semi-Pelagianism was also condemned as heretical by the Church, as it still placed too much emphasis on human effort in salvation and failed to fully acknowledge the depravity of human nature. However, the debate between the various views on salvation and the role of human free will in it has continued in Christian theology throughout the centuries.
Calvinism, also known as Reformed theology, is a theological system that takes its name from the French theologian John Calvin (1509-1564). It is a Protestant theological perspective that emphasizes the sovereignty of God in salvation and the idea of predestination, the belief that God has already chosen who will be saved and who will be damned.
Calvinism teaches that human beings are totally depraved and incapable of saving themselves. It emphasizes the absolute sovereignty of God, meaning that God is in complete control of all things, including human salvation. According to Calvinism, God has already chosen before the foundation of the world who will be saved and who will be damned, based solely on his own good pleasure and not on any merit or works of the individual.
Calvinists believe in the concept of “unconditional election,” which means that God’s choice to save a person is not based on any foreseen faith or good works, but is entirely based on God’s sovereign choice. Those who are chosen for salvation are called the “elect.”
Calvinists also believe in the concept of “limited atonement,” which means that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was only intended to pay for the sins of the elect, and not for the sins of all humanity.
In addition, Calvinism teaches the doctrine of “irresistible grace,” which means that those who are chosen by God for salvation will inevitably come to faith in Christ and cannot resist God’s call to salvation.
Finally, Calvinism emphasizes the doctrine of “perseverance of the saints,” which means that those who are truly saved will continue in faith and good works until the end of their lives.
Overall, Calvinism is a theological system that emphasizes the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation, the concept of predestination, and the doctrines of unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.
Arminianism is a theological system that takes its name from the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). It is a Protestant theological perspective that emphasizes the free will of human beings and the role of grace in salvation.
Arminianism arose as a response to the teachings of John Calvin and his followers, who emphasized the sovereignty of God in salvation and the idea of predestination, the belief that God has already chosen who will be saved and who will be damned. Arminius, on the other hand, rejected the idea of predestination and instead taught that God gives human beings the freedom to accept or reject his offer of salvation.
According to Arminianism, salvation is available to all human beings, but it is not forced upon anyone. God’s grace is available to everyone, and it is through the exercise of faith that a person can receive salvation. Arminians believe that God’s grace is resistible, meaning that human beings have the ability to reject it. They also reject the idea of “irresistible grace,” which is a central tenet of Calvinism.
Arminians also hold to the idea of “conditional election,” which means that God chooses to save those who choose to accept his offer of salvation. This stands in contrast to the Calvinist view of “unconditional election,” which holds that God chooses to save some people before they are even born.
Overall, Arminianism is a theological system that emphasizes human free will, the availability of God’s grace to all, and the idea that salvation is conditional upon a person’s faith in God.
There you have it. Four contrasting views about how salvation works. Neither definition is complete, and each of the 4 viewpoints contains many nuances I did not have time to explore. Changes are you fall into one of the above categories. Let me know what you think.