Soteriology is the doctrine of salvation. It seeks to answer questions like:
- How does God save people?
- What does He save them from?
- Did God plan to save people from the beginning?
among others questions that will give you a headache when thinking about it too much.
Soteriology Impacts Apologetics & Evangelism
It is an important subject to get right as your views drastically affect how you seek to fulfil the Great Commission of Jesus to preach the Gospel and make disciples.
If you fall heavily on one side, you will be anxious about impressing men and convincing them of the truth of the Bible. If you fall too heavily on the other, you will become wholly unconcerned about the views of men and appear arrogant and crass. I must admit I have fallen on both sides of this issue. I have also fallen prey to both of these vices.
This was because my views where challenged in my early 20s when reading the scriptures. I discovered that:
- God hates people (Psalm 5:5, Psalm 11:5, Romans 9:13)
- The righteous will laugh at those in hell (Psalm 52:5-7)
- The saints in glory request that God avenge them (Revelation 6:10)
- God creates some for destruction (Romans 9:10-24)
Hell, in my mind, was this horrible place that Satan ruled, and that God did not want anyone to go to. I could not ignore these scriptures, and neither can you.
I grew up in a Christian home, but it was not one that focused on soteriology. I had adopted views through osmosis and never tested them.
Labels are unhelpful. They can distract from the true pursuit of the Christian when studying the Bible, to become like Christ.
I want to be biblical, not a Calvinist or an Arminian. One of the frustrating things when looking into soteriology is the amount of vitriol and division on this subject. Unfortunately, there are many factions whereby those that espouse unconditional and beautiful grace show little of it, and those that stress man’s responsibility do little in presenting their views in an intelligent or meaningful way.
You don’t need to search the writing of John Calvin or Joseph Arminius to understand soteriology. You need to know your Bible better.
That being said, referring to other theologians can help you ask the right questions when searching the scriptures.
Take A Quiz
To see where you land on soteriology, Ben Booth has created a fun Calvinism vs Arminianism Spectrum quiz.
Even though this is a bit of fun, it raises some excellent questions. Can you answer them from scripture?
The Tulip Test
After this, I recommend doing the Tulip Test that the apologist Sye Ten Burggencate has developed. This too can help you think through this subject and hopefully get you stuck into the scriptures.
I find the Calvinist vs Armenian debate to be entirely unfruitful. Both are correct and yet both are incorrect. They can both point to scripture, but the issue is trying to explain the “spiritual” in human language, and both fail… Read more »
I agree that the “Calvinist vs Armenian debate is largely unfruitful” and prefer to focus things around “Biblical Soteriology”. As Christians, we should be working together to help each other have a better understanding of the Bible (1 Corinthians 4:7),… Read more »