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Reformation Soteriology

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After reading Enns’ section on “Reformation Soteriology,” critique and evaluate his assessment of Calvinism (Reformed) and Arminianism on the select topics of atonement and faith and works (Enns, ch. 30). Would your church denomination be in agreement with the Reformed or Arminian or some modified position?

Reformation Soteriology is generally described as a theology that stresses God’s sovereignty in salvation. Generally is equated with Calvinism. One may agree that the essence of free choice is that man always embraces what his heart wants more than anything else at the present time. Reformers believed the faculty of the will is free, but it is in bondage to its nature, as all wills are. There is truth in what Enns says, “The Reformers taught Christ died to satisfy the justice of God. This work of Christ can be appropriated only by faith, which unites the believer to Christ; the believer thereby has Christ righteousness imputed to him.” [1] Calvin’s teaching that Christ died only for the elect then how do we account for the passage, “for as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. 15:21-22).

Calvin’s view of atonement was that Christ death was a particular atonement that He only died for the elect. This view gives us the understanding that we are all predestined by God. The Arminian view believes that Christ death was just a sacrificial offering where the death of an animal was deliverance from punishment. The death of Christ was a replacement for a punishment not a harsh equal for sin. [2] God promised to pardon sinners on the basis of Christ death. Paul relates this in his writings “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23).

The issue for me is that if we were to teach the Calvinistic principal of atonement in our church there may be a misunderstanding on the issue of the chosen elect. Those in attendance that felt they were not part of the elect may leave Christ and only care for themselves. They would not have atonement for their sins so why worry about sin. Understanding that what we do outside of Christ is of no purpose and cannot earn us salvation. This frees us up to live our lives glorifying ourselves and not God. The aspect that we are all saved through Christ by our faith allows us to keep heaven within reach. Paul states in Romans, therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:1-2). The Arminian view that God gives us the freedom to choose to accept or refuse the Holy Spirit which, depending on the choice, may result in the loss of salvation. [3] We need to keep faith in reach for all and not have people believing they were predestined for damnation.

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