I received a very interesting email from a friend of mine this week, and he shared with me the fact that he was standing on the edge of a soteriological shift. I found his ideas provocative, and therefore I thought I would share them here for comments . . .
Hello Ruth (and another recipient)
I am, I believe, standing on the edge of the second significant shift in soteriology of my Christian life. I suspect that watching the link to the panel discussion at the THINK conference on TULIP was the catalyst, although other things doubtless also played their part.
The first significant shift happened when I was about 18 when I moved, (more as a result of reading Scripture rather than any Reformed literature), from what I would now understand as an Arminian perspective (albeit a very garbled one) to what I would now understand as a Calvinistic perspective (counting my dalliance with Kendall-Eatonism as a sub-set of Calvinism). I have tended in the past, if asked to define my viewpoint on this issue, to label myself as an “infralapsarian Calvinist” or a “moderate Calvinist” or a “Simeonite Calvinist” (after Charles Simeon’s statement, regarding the conflict between divine sovereignty and human freedom, that the truth lay, not at either extreme, nor in the middle, but at both extremes) depending on who is asking.
However, when discussing these issues with non-believers and newer (or less academically minded) Christians, I have been finding it difficult to present the Reformed viewpoint in a way which avoids advocating (or seeming to advocate) either determinism or the heresy of predestination to sin, I have wanted to remain faithful to Scripture and to be intellectually coherent, I have wanted to show God as responsible for salvation and humanity as responsible for sin, and, to be honest, I have increasingly found myself tending to shy away from overtly “Calvinistic” answers to questions and instead drawing on ideas found in C. S. Lewis and J. P. Holding’s work, which I would now understand as, respectively, Thomist and Molinist solutions.
Now, I still have a lot of reading to do on the subject (I have at least one book on order), but I am finding myself moving slowly toward a Molinist perspective on salvation (albeit at the Calvinistic end of Molinism), and, as people whose musings on matters theological I hold in high regard, and with whom I have spoken already at inordinate length on these topics, I would be interested to hear your views.
As I know that you are both very busy, I have appended the text of a good blog post (from The Wardrobe Door blog) which was part of a three “flowers” of salvation series (i.e. the Calvinist’s TULIPs, the Molinist’s ROSES and the Arminian’s DAISY) and which I found to be a very clear and balanced explanation of the three systems. The entry appended below is, of course, the one on the ROSES (or Molinist) system.
The home page for the articles on all three flowers can be found here if you wish to read the author’s views on TULIP and DAISY and his general outline.
I look forward to speaking with you again soon.
Ring Around the ROSES: Molinism in Brief