RESPONSEDISCUSSION TO ENNS’ SECTION ON “REFORMATION SOTERIOLOGY”
Response Discussion to Enns’ section on “Reformation Soteriology”
The Calvinism(Reformed) versus Arminianism debate continues to be the battlegroundthat most churches fight about. The publishing world come forth moreoften with questions about the “authors promoting a particularviewpoint”1But where should the line is drawn about what should be taught evenof importance what to be believed? Of importance are some of thequestions in today’s world about Calvinism and Arminianism.Churches around the world doing research, pray, and study thetheological truths. The paper therefore, is a discussion response toEnns’ assessment of Calvinism and Arminianism in respect to theselected topics of faith, atonement, and works. Does the paper inagreement with the Calvinism or Arminianism or other modifiedposition?
Enns’Assessment of Calvinism and Arminianism
Enns did a fair jobin his section on “Reformation Soteriology,” when he explainsabout Calvinism difference from Martin Luther’s viewpoint. There isa critical section of them all when Enns quoted Philip Schaff when hemade the conclusion on the idea about “Calvin understanding ofelection to salvation to be unconditional.” And “If the electionis dependent on a person’s good works and faith, then grace wouldnot be given free, and may not be considered grace”2
Unfortunately, Ennsfailed to provide enough detail about the Armenian viewpoint on thesame “Reformation Soteriology” section, and maybe saving thedetails for other sections. He does however give a brief and basicunderstanding, but the content is essentially limited. Enns says,“Provision has been provided for the entire humanity, since JesusChrist died, not for the elect, but for everyone… God dispensesenough grace to every individual, which enables them to freely chooseto believe in Jesus Christ or reject him”3
Looking at theArmenian viewpoint about Christ not taking the punishment of thewhole world for the sinners, but still God forgive every sinnerbecause of the death of Christ. This is to say that by Christ takingthe position of God having not taken people’s punishment in orderto reconcile them again, then why does Paul warn that wages of sin isdeath? This viewpoint again denies that Jesus Christ is a substitutefor our punishment. It is also surprising when in 1stCorinthians, whereby Paul draws comparisons between what Prince Adampaid and what Christ paid.
Based on my view ofthe two positions, the church is known to follow a more modifiedposition, which is generally close to the Calvinism that it is to theArmenians. I am in agreement with the Armenian point of view of theChrist dying for the world. It is apparent from the Scripture in that“Jesus Christ died once and for all for the sins” (NIV Peter3:18).4However, as the Armenians would argue, men cannot afford to losetheir salvation. It is in part since man would do nothing to gainsalvation, and thus cannot do anything demeaning to lose it either.The once enjoyed fellowship can be earned easily by man with God, andin turn resist God’s leadership and living in the carnal state.However, that does not necessarily mean that they have lost salvationif they did have it genuinely in the first place.
MyChurch’s Agreement with the Calvinism (Reformed)
Being a follower ofChrist for the past ten years, and a member of a protestant church,which is considered a reformed denomination, my assessment of Enns’standpoint would lean a bit more on the reformed side. There is a lotof truth in Enns’ understanding when he says,
“All the reformersare taught about Christ death as a satisfaction of God’s justice”5Faith can only be an appropriation of Christ’s work, which targetsthe union of the believers to Christ, and thus the Christrighteousness is imputed to the people. There is one area I failed tounderstand, which has to do with the predestination and election.Considering Calvin emphasized on the death of Christ only to riseagain, the question would be what do we do with those verses talkingabout Christ dying for everyone?
My church would notcompletely agree with the Calvin’s justification and sanctificationdoctrines. As much as the two (Calvinism and Arminianism) could betied closely towards Calvin’s viewpoint, the two are God’sworking. He is the one who not only sanctifies, but also justifies.However, the difference would be although the justification iscarried out immediately during the conversion time, for example inCalvinism. On the other hand, sanctification refers to the processwhereby God enable the believers to feel more like him. It should benoted that sanctification is not necessarily the “believers’responses to gratitude,” but rather still God’s work.6The most important thing is that God continues to do the work, andeven though people continue to respond hopefully towards God’sleadership and growth.
My stand would beon the reformed viewpoint on faith and works. Once one understoodthat even for whatever we do outside of Jesus Christ, it is of nomeaning for our salvation. It thus frees us to live life full ofglory to God once we are within Christ. Our own works does notnecessarily save us however, it instead shows us the love of JesusChrist and our sanctification process working out in our lives.However, Enns’ view of the Arminianism believes that we can fail todo spirit’s work of directing us towards God, and lose oursalvation eventually.
Enns, Paul P. TheMoody Handbook of Theology. 2014. pp. 478-481
1Paul P. Enns. The Moody Handbook of Theology. 2014. pp. 478-481
Paul, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 478
3Paul, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 479
4Paul, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 477
5Paul, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 477
6Paul, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 480