Thursday, September 14, 2006

Simple Math

"Sola gratia", or "grace alone" is a doctrine that is affirmed by the vast majority of protestant Christianity. But it has been my experience that protestants outside of the reformed traditions only pay lip service to this doctrine. That is, they will affirm sola gratia on the one hand, while emptying the term of all meaning on the other. Case in point:

We believe in salvation by "Grace" plus nothing and minus nothing. The conditions to salvation are repentance and faith in Jesus the Christ:

This statement comes from Covington Seminary's statement of faith. Immediatly, the Calvinist sees a very basic problem. It is here stated that salvation is by grace plus nothing and minus nothing. Leaving the "minus" out, we can put it another way:

Grace + Nothing = Salvation


G + N = S

Now, this would be in accordance with Sola Gratia if the statement stopped here. But it doesn't. The statement goes on to say that salvation is conditioned on two other things. That is, two conditions are added to the above formula so that now we have:

Grace + Faith + Repentance = Salvation


G + F + R = S

As just stated, the problem is obvious to a Calvinist. The statement started with positing that salvation came by grace plus or minus nothing only to turn around and say that salvation came by grace, repentance, and faith. In the above formulas, nothing (N) cannot be equivalent to faith (F) and repentance (R) because to suggest this would be to deny the reality of faith and repentance in Christian doctrine. Thus, for the Christian, it is one or the other and not both. And while I'm sure that Covington Theological Seminary is a fine institution of Christian learning, someone over there needs some classes in remedial math.


TSHusker said...

It's so obvious that what one sentance gives, the other takes away!

"We believe in salvation by 'Grace' plus nothing and minus nothing. The conditions to salvation are repentance and faith in Jesus the Christ."

"Conditions to salvation..."

If salvation is by grace, through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), where does repentance come into play? I've heard many say that in "accepting Christ as your savior," i.e. being born again, you also need to admit/acknowledge that you're a sinner and ask for repentance.

Is that necessary to be saved? Would that fly in the face of "grace alone?"

I'd be interested in hearing what others think.

Doctrine Matters

Bulldawgy said...

I agree that the statement is duplicitous. I think the term 'conditions' was a poor selection of words.

Scripture teaches us clearly that we are saved by grace alone.

That salvation is expressed or evidenced in our lives by our repentance and faith. The work of God to regenerate the sinner who is dead in his trespasses - creates a desire in us that does not exist prior to our regeneration - the understanding of our sin and a subsequent repentance. These are evidences of the work of Grace in our lives - they are not condiitions of salvation.

Jesus preached the gospel - and called people to repentance (by example Mark 1:14-15). However, the only ones who heard this and repented are the ones that the Father gave to the Son (John 6).

The work of Grace is undeniably monergistic.

Scott Price said...

It seems that even Calvinists are confused on what faith and repentance is in connection with the error of them being "offers". In the minds of most, turning faith and or repentance into an offer makes them become conditions and thereby a work. The Bible teaches these are commands not offers and they are also both gifts that are effectively worked in the elect in the context of true gospel preaching. Many are holding to the damnable heresy of conditionalism and have not submitted to the gospel of grace. Arminianism, of course, is the clearest form of this but Calvinism also has not had this error exposed enough to satify me. What do ya think?

Scott Price

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Hi Scott,

I'm afraid that I'm missing your point. Are you taking issue with something that I've written here or are you simply making a generalized observation?

Oh, and thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog and posting your thoughts.

Scott Price said...

It was a general observation that even Calvinists readily lay conditions out, ignorantly of course, but that is my point that teachers and preacher must be on their toes and constantly warn and instruct against such foolishness that tends to creep into the church. It is a very serious matter that does not get much attention. Across Calvinistic denominational lines the problem is very widespread and needs to be addressed often. Many are giving a mere lipservice to Calvinism.