Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reformation Soteriology

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?

            I have been a follower of Christ for ten years and for the last eight I have been a member of a PCA church which is a Reformed denomination. So this topic is very intriguing to me. So this would have me lean a bit more towards the reformed side of each of these topics. There is much truth to be understood when 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.” (Enns 2008, 477) There is one area that has been a struggle for me, and it has to do due with election and predestination. Since Calvin taught that Christ died only for the elect what do we do with the verses that speak of Christ dying for all (1 Cor. 15:22) and others along those lines?
            It looks as though the Arminian view believes that Christ did not take on the punishment of the world due to sinners but God still forgives sinners because of Christ death. (Enns 2008, 478) So if by Christ being God did not take on the punishment of men in order to be reconciled then why does Paul tell us the punishment for sin is death (Rom. 6:23)? This view also denies that Christ is a full substitute for our penalty. This is outrageous to me, when again in 1 Corinthians Paul draws the parallels between the price Adam paid and the price Christ paid.
            For me the reformed view on faith and works is dear to my heart. Once it is understood that no matter what we do outside of Christ is of no good, meaning it cannot earn our salvation. It frees us up to live lives glorifying to God once we are inside of Christ. Our works do not save us but instead show the love of Christ and the process of our sanctification working itself out in our lives. We are unable to deny the call of God on our lives. However, the Arminian view believes that we can resist the work of the Spirit calling us to God, and eventually losing our salvation. (Enns 2008, 480) Doesn’t this contradict when Christ says that those the father have given to me shall not be plucked from his hand (Jn 10:29). 

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.

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