The Assurance Anomaly

This post is the third in a series exploring the Grace Reaction, or the logical order of events in salvation. In this series we have compared this to a chemical reaction. In the Justification Transposition, I  proposed the following logical order of steps in salvation:

Dead → Grace → Faith → Justification → Reconciliation → Regeneration/Life

Science seeks to propose theories to explain the physical world using the data that we have at hand. Breaking Bad - Assurance Anomaly3In a similar fashion, theology seeks to describe God.

In both science and theology, you might think you have something figured out. But then you notice, or more likely someone notices and points out to you, an anomaly. Something that doesn’t fit in with the explanation or theory that you have provided.

This is not a bad thing. It helps us learn and grow. Did you know that it was a conflict in the theories proposed by Maxwell and Newton that allowed Einstein to find an anomaly in Newton’s laws that further led to the Theory of Relativity. It was also an anomaly that rocked the world when scientists reported they measured subatomic particles traveling faster than light (an impossibility according to Einstein). Further testing could not reproduce the effect and the original anomaly is considered the result of faulty hardware.

Reformers would consider the first part of 1 John 5:1 as an anomaly to the logical order of events that were proposed above.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God

This passage, they contend, supports the idea that regeneration precedes faith. Continue reading

How Free is Free Will?

Over the last week I have been in a discussion over soteriology, which started with the request to define free will. Free will can be a hard concept to define because there are very different ideas of what it means and how it works.

This discussion was not with Michael Patton. However, he has written an excellent post entitled “A Calvinist’s Understanding of Free Will”, explaining free will from the Determinist/Reformed point of view. The points raised in this post are representative of the problems often cited against libertarian free will .

In this post libertarian freedom is defined as the ability to choose against who you are.

If you ask whether a person can choose against their nature (i.e. libertarian freedom) the answer, I believe, must be “no.” A person’s nature makes up who they are. Who they are determines their choice.

This definition may be how Reformers define and understand libertarian freedom, but this is not how proponents of libertarian free will (Arminians) would define it (noted later in the post). That aside, most proponents would agree with the idea that who a person is determines the choices that they make. Most would also accept the notion that a person can not choose against who they are. Continue reading

The Justification Transposition

Breaking Bad - Justification TranspositionIn the last post I shared some of my thoughts on the sequence of events in salvation. I compared these events to a chemical reaction in which a person that is condemned to death is transformed into a person that is reconciled and made alive.

Dead & Condemned → Alive & Reconciled

This process is started when grace is applied, giving us the Grace Reaction.

The last post also presented the chain reaction as it is understood in Reformed theology. That reaction looks like this:

Dead → Grace → Regeneration → Faith → Justification → Reconciliation

Examining the equation above we were left with the question: is it possible for someone to be born again (regenerated) prior to having their sins forgiven (justification)?

While the various aspects of salvation occur faster than the combustion of methane/oxygen (see video in last post), it can be helpful to slow things down and evaluate the steps based on their logical order.

Faith and Justification

There is little debate that faith logically precedes justification.  In Romans 4:1-5, Paul explains that Abraham was justified (credited as righteous) based on having faith. Continue reading