August 20, 2005

Equivocation on "Salvation"

I recently listened to a debate between a Calvinistic Baptist and a Church of Christ pastor over the issue of the necessity of water baptism for "salvation." The C of C pastor brought up Calvinism alot in the debate. In another forum, I commented on some things that concerned me in listening to the debate.

It is very common for people to equivocate when they use the term "salvation." It seems to be the default word among believers when they have justification in mind. One should be careful in employing that term. Anyway, here's what I wrote:

"There is also constant equivocation on the term "salvation." No thinking Calvinist (not that the Baptist debator made this mistake) should associate "salvation" with mere regeneration. That's an error. Some hyper-Calvinists make that mistake. Humans are not passive when they are said to be "saved" in the bible, but we are passive in God's initial act of regeneration. Salvation and regeneration should not be equated. Salvation is a term that properly refers to conversion (i.e. justification) and what follows (sometimes used in the sense of "being saved" [sanctification] or "shall be saved" [glorification]).

Nor should the bible be viewed as saying that our cooperation is the basis for salvation. Christ alone is the basis or legal ground of our salvation, but he is not ours except by means of the instrumentality of faith. Faith is indeed our act, and it is a necessary act or condition in order to be "saved," i.e. justified. But it does not follow that any of our acts are the basis for our acceptance with God. Faith is not reckoned as righteousness (contrary to what the NAS seems to suggest on Romans 4:5), but faith is reckoned unto the obtaining of righteousness, i.e. obtaining Christ as our savior and basis for justification. It's HIS obedience, and not ours, that is the basis for acceptance with God, but his obedience does not benefit us apart from the instrumental act of faith on our part.

Moreover, when we say that regeneration preceeds faith, we are not saying that it is chronologically prior, but logical. Regeneration preceeds faith in the sense of causal priority, even as the turning on of a light switch preceeds the appearance of light.

NKJ 2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Church of Christ pastor never replied to the Calvinistic Baptist's Philippians passage:

NKJ Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

God grants us the moral ability (not that we previously lacked constitutional or natural ability--we have a will, but a stubborn one that is in bondage to the sin principle within, i.e. the flesh) to believe, and thus we act in faith and embrace Christ. I don't see how the C of C pastor, or anyone else for that matter, can get around the implications of the Philippians passage."

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