Introduction to Salvation and Sovereignty

I mentioned last week that I am going to begin posting on the topic of Molinism per Kenneth Keathly’s book “Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach”. So that you are forewarned I am planning on making my posts a bit shorter than I have in the past. There are two reasons for this with the first being that this topic can be heavy at times and I don’t want the posts to be overwhelming. The second reason is that I am fairly busy at this time of my life with family, work, and church and I don’t always have time to prepare long blog posts.

The purpose of Dr. Keathley’s book is to convince five point Calvinists to reevaluate their theology. Because of this the book really wasn’t written for non-Calvinists like me. I don’t think that matters much though since a lot of Christians with varying theologies would benefit from considering what Dr. Keathly has written.

The fact that the intended audience is five point Calvinists comes through loud and clear in the very first paragraph of the book. The following quote plays to that audience and contains the only statement that really irritated me in the book:

What shall a Christian do who is convinced of certain central tenets of Calvinism but not its corollaries? Specifically, what if I am convinced that God elects individuals to salvation but I am compelled by the evidence or scripture to reject the notion that Christ died only for the elect? What if I am convinced that the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace – that God gives saving grace only to the elect while withholding it from others – has little or no biblical foundation? Like someone who comes to embrace premillennialism but remains unimpressed with the standard Dispensational eschatology generally associated with it, I see salvation as a sovereign work of grace but suspect that the usual Calvinist understanding of sovereignty (that God is the cause of all things) is not sustained by the biblical witness as a whole.

Salvation and Sovereignty
p. 1

Dr. Keathly is laying his reasons to learn about Molinism with an open mind but he just has to slip in the “I’m no dispensationalist” clause so that his Calvinist readers will listen to him. This Christian versus Christian silliness does the body of Christ no good.

Back to the topic, Dr. Keathley’s solution to the issues he brings up in that quote is Molinism.

Dr. Keathly goes on to tell us what the five points of Calvinism are and propose a replacement for them. I am not going to even try to explain what the five points of Calvinism are. For those who are interested in learning more about the five points of Calvinism (also called the Doctrines of Grace) I will provide my readers with two links, one link in support and one against five point Calvinism:

Rose Cole at the Rose’s Reasonings blog did a nice job some time ago discussing her discovery of TULIP. She doesn’t go into a lot of depth on each point but the comments that follow each post are worth reading. You get to read five point Calvinists defending their positions and that is what I really find to be interesting. Here are links to her series:

–  Ongoing disturbance:  debating CALVINISM
– 
TULIP … T pt.1
– 
TULIP … T pt.2
– 
TULIP … U pt.1
– 
TULIP … U pt.2
– 
TULIP … L
– 
TULIP … I
– 
TULIP … P
– 
TULIP SERIES Comments

Rose hasn’t been posting lately and I think these posts are archived on an old server so you have to be patient. If you give them a chance these pages will load.

I am going to finish this post with a handy chart showing the five principles used to describe five point Calvinism along with a short paragraph by Dr. Keathley telling us where he plans on going with his book:

ROSES Compared to TULIP

T

Total Depravity

Radical depravity

U

Unconditional election

Sovereign election

L

Limited atonement

Singular redemption

I

Irresistible grace

Overcoming grace

P

Perseverance of the saints

Eternal life

R

Radical depravity

Total Depravity

O

Overcoming grace

Irresistible grace

S

Sovereign election

Unconditional election

E

Eternal life

Perseverance of the saints

S

Singular redemption

Limited atonement

 

In addition to arguing that only three of the five points of TULIP can be defended scripturally, I also argue that the T, U, and P need to undergo some retooling. So the next obvious step is to recast the TULIP acronym itself. Timothy George has presented the ROSES acronym as a replacement for TULIP, and I intend to build upon it. I do not claim that Dr. George and I prune roses exactly the same (he favors reformed theology). However, we both agree that the use of the TULIP acronym tends to obscure as much as it illuminates.

Salvation and Sovereignty
p. 2

In next week’s post I will provide a short introduction to each letter in the ROSES acronym.

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