Saturday, July 19, 2008

Comparative Soteriology: A Handy Chart



John Wesley: death-mask

TOTAL DEPRAVITY
CALVINISM Yes
ARMINIANISM
See note
LUTHERANISM
See note
CATHOLICISM No


All these belief-systems accept original sin and sola gratia: absolute necessity of God's grace to be saved and to have the results of the Fall overcome ("total inability"), and deny semi-Pelagianism: the doctrine that man can initiate salvation. Classic Arminians and Lutherans (along with Catholics) are often falsely accused of semi-Pelagianism because they believe in human free will. Lutherans also falsely accuse Catholics of same, in their confessions, because we deny imputed justification, refuse to formally separate justification and sanctification, and assert merit. Arminians and Lutherans posit a fall that is distinct from Catholicism and Calvinism, but closer to the latter. The main difference is that they would deny the notion that even good acts of an unregenerate person are evil, as Luther and Calvin taught. This is the strict definition of "total depravity" and relatively few brands of Christians hold it.
UNIVERSAL ATONEMENT
CALVINISM No
ARMINIANISM Yes

LUTHERANISM Yes

CATHOLICISM Yes


IRRESISTIBLE GRACE
CALVINISM Yes
ARMINIANISM No

LUTHERANISM No

CATHOLICISM No


FREE WILL
CALVINISM No
ARMINIANISM Yes

LUTHERANISM Yes

CATHOLICISM Yes


Luther denied this, but Lutheranism decided to follow the thought of Melanchthon and others back to a more Catholic understanding.

UNCONDITIONAL
ELECTION
CALVINISM Yes
ARMINIANISM No

LUTHERANISM No

CATHOLICISM See note


Thomist Catholics believe in unconditional election; Molinists and Congruists believe it is conditional only in the limited sense that God takes into account foreseen actions of man by means of Middle Knowledge. Man is still not causing his election even in Molinism and Congruism, because any good thing he does is always enabled by God in the first place. But it is ultimately a mystery why one man chooses to accept grace and another does not, within a paradigm of free will. All views boil down to how one relates God's sovereignty and providence to the free choices and free will of man: one of the most complicated questions in theology.

PREDESTINATION (TO SALVATION)
CALVINISM Yes
ARMINIANISM Yes

LUTHERANISM Yes

CATHOLICISM Yes


PREDESTINATION (TO DAMNATION)
CALVINISM Yes
ARMINIANISM No

LUTHERANISM No

CATHOLICISM No


ETERNAL SECURITY or PERSEVERANCE
CALVINISM Yes
ARMINIANISM No

LUTHERANISM No

CATHOLICISM No


BAPTISMAL REGENERATION

CALVINISM No
ARMINIANISM Mixed

LUTHERANISM Yes

CATHOLICISM Yes


Some Arminians, such as some Methodists and Anglicans, accept baptismal regeneration.

INFANT BAPTISM

CALVINISM Mixed
ARMINIANISM Mixed

LUTHERANISM Yes

CATHOLICISM Yes


"Reformed Baptists" practice adult "believer's" baptism; most Calvinists: such as Presbyterians and Reformed, baptize infants. Goups such as Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ; combine baptismal regeneration with a belief in adult baptism. Methodists and Anglicans baptize infants. Pentecostals generally believe in adult baptism.

SACRAMENTALISM

CALVINISM No
ARMINIANISM Mixed

LUTHERANISM Yes

CATHOLICISM Yes


Calvinists -- except for Reformed Baptists -- speak of sacraments, but in the end, their baptism and communion are mere signs of God's mystical presence, without actually accomplishing anything themselves, which is the usual definition of "sacrament": a physical means to obtain God's grace. Methodist and Anglicans can be sacramental to various degrees; some believe in the Real Presence. Lutherans are highly sacramental, but have only two sacraments. Confirmation for them is sort of "semi-sacramental". Catholicism and Orthodoxy alone retain the seven sacraments of historic Christianity, Sacred Tradition and the Bible.

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I am a congruist, myself (a variation or modification of Molinism). Here are some of my papers, along these lines:

Confessional Lutheran, Arminian, and Melanchthonian Soteriology Compared (Are Philip Melanchthon and Arminians Semi-Pelagians?)

Lutheranism vs. Catholicism (Particularly Regarding Original Sin and Faith Alone, and Including Extensive Catholic Commentary on the Book of Concord)

A Primer on Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism

Did the Council of Trent Teach That Man is Saved By His Own Works?

Soteriology and Creation (Man's Cooperation, Pelagianism, Nature and Grace) (vs. Peter J. Leithart)

1 Corinthians 3:9 and Man's Cooperation With God

Do Catholics Believe in Predestination?

Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart? (Does God Positively Ordain Evil?) (vs. an atheist)

A Dialogue on the Nature of God's Foreknowledge and Sovereignty
(vs. Dr. Alex Pruss)

Dialogue on Molinism (Speculations on How God Predestines) (vs. "JS")

Molinism, Middle Knowledge, and Predestination: Suarez, Congruism, and the Elegantly Ingenious Solution of Fr. William G. Most

Dialogue on Molinism and God's Mode of Predestination (+ Part II | Part III | Part IV) (vs. "JS")

Observations on Arminianism

Catholic Predestination (Ludwig Ott)

The Calvinist Doctrine of Total Depravity and Romans 3:10-11 ("None is Righteous . . . No One Seeks For God"): Reply to James White (+ Discussion)

Fallacious Calvinist Arguments For Total Depravity: Does Romans 1 Apply Universally to Fallen Man?

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