Do Calvinists believe in salvation by faith alone? Quick answer: No. But don’t quit reading. . .

When I was in undergrad, my professor made us have a debate in theology class. For the debate, he had us represent the position to which we did not adhere. He was quite excited, I think, to have me – the only Calvinist in the class (indeed, the school) – represent the Arminian position (blast him!!). Being an undergraduate course, it was very general. So my task was simple: to argue that Arminianism, in general, presents the best explanation of salvation, while Calvinism falls short. I came to appreciate this assignment much more than I thought I would. More importantly, I really think I won the debate (even though the prof said I lost). There were a couple of issues that I focused on to undermine Calvinism during this debate. I will mention only one.

Calvinists, such as myself, love two analogies: first, we like the one about the dead man in a grave. This represents the doctrine of depravity and spiritual mortality. We are dead spiritually. This means that we are eternal haters of God by nature (Eph. 2:1-5). Dead! How do you preach to a dead man? You can shout and scream at the grave all day long, but there won’t be any response. The dead must be raised in order to respond. God must make us alive before we can have faith in him. The second analogy is like the first, but has a good twist.  It is the analogy of physical birth to spiritual birth. As the sound-bite version goes, “Just as a baby naturally cries out after it has been born, so believers cry out to God in faith after they have been born again.” In other words, our calling upon God to save us, our turning to God in repentance, and our faith in him come only as a result of being regenerated. The natural man cannot accept the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). The Gospel is most definitely a “thing of God.” Therefore, the natural man must be turned into a spiritual man before he can accept the Gospel. To have faith, God must be the instigator. To have faith, we must be born again.

Maybe you can see where I am going. During Bogaski’s class, I found the Achilles heel of Calvinism (or so I thought). It was simple: Since Calvinists believe that regeneration precedes faith, they do not really believe in salvation by faith alone! Faith was not the instrumental cause of salvation after all; regeneration was. Therefore, faith was a result of salvation. In this, Calvinists denied a central tenet of Protestantism. They (um . . . we) denied salvation by faith alone!

Arminians, on the other hand, were true Protestants who could say that they possessed an unqualified belief in salvation by faith alone. While they would agree that a dead man cannot respond, they would say that Christ makes all alive through prevenient grace. But this grace does not save. It only neutralizes the effects of spiritual deadness so the hostile sinner has a legitimate chance to make the instrumental choice of faith for or against God.  Therefore, their own faith, which has been given opportunity through God’s grace, is the instrumental cause of their salvation. Arminians do believe in salvation by faith alone.

However, this is quite misleading. I, at the time, did not understand something about the doctrine of sola fide (“faith alone”): No one has ever claimed that salvation is by faith alone. This is not a Protestant doctrine. We believe in justification by faith alone. This is what sola fide means. And Calvinists (along with Arminians) both believe that justification – the forensic declaration of our righteousness based solely on the merits of Christ – is brought about by faith.

Often, in theological language, we distinguish between salvation and the individual aspects of salvation. Ultimately salvation is much more than justification or regeneration. Involved in salvation are redemption, justification, adoption, conversion, calling, election, sanctification, glorification, and faith. Some of these happened in the past, some will happen in the future. But they are all part of our salvation. Even the Scriptures say that we have been saved (Eph. 2:8), are being saved (1 Cor. 1:18), and will be saved (Rom. 5:9). Which is it? Well, it depends on which aspect of salvation we are talking about. Justification is a once and for all event that is always past for the believer. Sanctification is an ongoing process which will culminate at the resurrection. But both fall under the broader umbrella of “salvation.” Of course Scripture does not always use such precise language to speak about such things, nor should we expect it to.

We often refer to this as the ordo salutis (Lat. “order of salvation”). While many aspects in our salvation, such as faith and justification, regeneration and conversion, do not follow a temporal order, they often follow a logical order. Logically, faith comes before justification in the ordo. Here is a look at the generally accepted ordo to which most Calvinists adhere.


The Arminian ordo looks a bit different:


And the Catholic ordo looks different still.

And we should not read too much into the fact that Calvinists put faith before justification. Calvinists do not believe that faith has any intrinsic efficacy. As Berkholf put it:

“Justifying faith does not justify by any meritorious or inherent efficacy of its own, but only as the instrument for receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ. [The Reformers] regarded this faith primarily as a gift of God and only secondarily as an activity of man in dependence on God.” (Systematic Theology, 497)”

In the end, Calvinists do not believe in salvation by faith alone. We believe in justification by faith alone. But salvation is by God’s grace alone (sola gratia). Every aspect of the ordo is completely in God’s hands. Even the faith that we have is a gift of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9). While humans take part in both faith and sanctification, this does not make them meritorious for or even causal in our salvation. Salvation is ultimately by God alone (soli deo).

Therefore, while I feel I won that debate so many years ago (even though the professor did not seem to want to recognize the distinction I have made here), I only did so by creating a straw man of my own position. However, as for the other attack on my Calvinism, I feel it was legitimate and would still use it today. Another time, we might talk about it . . .

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    139 replies to "Do Calvinists Really Believe in Salvation by Faith Alone?"

    • Cameron

      As a Calvinist I have no problem still using the shorthand language that we’re saved by faith alone. Simply because I don’t care to give a disclaimer every time of what aspect of “salvation” I’m referring to. The word “saved” depends on the context, and I’d say that in Eph 2:8 it is in the same context as Rom 5:9, namely, being saved from God’s wrath – which does pertain to justification.

      As a Calvinist, I say that regeneration precedes faith as shorthand language. Really, I believe they are virtually synonymous events from God’s angle, yet from my angle, I experience it as though I’m regenerated and then later I’m more and more aware of it as my faith begins to grow.

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @Fr. Robert:

      I didn’t think you were trying to humble me, it just was the case. I believe respect ought to be given, not earned, though earning it is fine too. Yet, I find it hard to respect the “trolling” types who brandish condemnation because they don’t know how to disagree. I live with a Calvinist and we get along just fine. Most of my relatives are Evangelicals (in the piety and reductionism sense) and they don’t know what to make of my Lutheran views; they usually assume we believe the same things (and I live in the tension with it).

      The EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church).

      True, Augustine came first, but Luther and Calvin didn’t agree with all his work. They, like us, were, “Standing on the shoulders of giants,” and moving forward with it. This is one of the reasons I appreciate pieces like this and groan in frustration with comments like, “people just need to read the Bible and stop being religious, or using culture.” Context is everything.

      If people think they don’t bring a bias to the scriptural text, they’re kidding themselves. Yes, Jesus is Lord, and Luther is not divine, but he understood the Gospel in a profound way. All that said, we’ve come a long way in understanding historical context and that’s essential to how one understands the text. But, I digress.

      Given your background, I’m curious, why the Dispensational views on Eschatology?

      The greatest mystery of the faith:

      Christ died.
      Christ has Risen.
      Christ will come…

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @Fr. Robert:

      I was finally able to give proper time to that article you sent me (contextualizing the misuse of Luther quotes) it was quite good. It definitely pointed to what I said about translation being interpretation. Luther (and others) attempted to be functional in their translations; hoping to make the text clear in meaning and understanding. Translation’s tough business and I wonder how much people take our English versions of scripture for granted.


      Thank you for talking about the contextual usage of salvation language. The word “salvation” has a textual definition (rescue) and a contextual definition (the Christian faith: in orthodoxy and orthopraxy).

      General comments:

      Anyone have thoughts about the tense of “saved” in the three scripture references used in the blog post?

    • @Timothy: Indeed most Evangelicals don’t have a clue to Luther or Lutheranism, I say this sadly. Of course Luther’s doctrine of the Cross (theologis crucis), is such a gem!

      I know for example that Calvin had his ups and downs with Augustine, but in my opinion Augustine’s theology was still his measure. I say this of course as to the doctrine of God, etc. But, Calvin’s weakness was always the Trinity, at least as to the Nicene, and here Luther was always Catholic in Christology!

      As to my own eschatology, that is a long story. I as raised Irish Roman Catholic in Ireland, but my greatgram (died when I was 15, was a convert away from Roman in her youth), and then later a PB, or Plymouth Brethren. She and “the Brethren” had a early affect on me! Of course when I later went to England and Anglicanism, and my education I got into A-Mill, and the Post-Mill. But much later both being in Gulf War 1, and life in Israel (lived and taught there in the late 90’s), changed me greatly! I also like the biblicism and independent work of the conservative Anglican, E.W. Bullinger (though I don’t follow his radical dispensationalism. But he is always worth the read here!) See his two grand books: Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, and his Greek/English Lexicon. – I am an eccentric & eclectic myself, and really a conservative in the main. 😉

      Btw, I love to chat English translations! I have them all! I use my R.V. (Oxford), quite often. And of course still read the KJV, with…

    • wm tanksley

      Timothy, the Ephesians reference alone contains more than enough chronology to write books on. Look at the context. In verse 5 “made alive together with” (aorist, meaning it happened all at once) “by grace you have been saved” (perfect tense, hinting that although the action is in the past it’s not a single done-once action; the past aspect probably refers to the made-alive-with). Verse 6 has a similar past tense, but a future promise; although “made alive with” and “raised up” are similar in time, being seated in the heavenly realms is an aspect of our salvation that is fully present and yet vastly more to be revealed in the future. And indeed, verse 7 explains by placing God’s intended result of all the past and present work into the future: “so that” God could demonstrate (aorist again) to the oncoming ages (a definite future, although not shown in a verb tense) the wealth of His grace.

      Finally, the indicated verse 8. The verb’s tense here is “perfect,” meaning the action is entirely complete with no need for further action; but the previous verses show that the results of having been saved span the present and future.

      I’ll skip 9 to look at 10; there we see that we are created (that our present form is the result of God’s past action) in order to perform good deeds that God prepared even before He created us.

      There is an incredible span of time and tenses wrapped up in these verses.


    • wm tanksley

      Father Roberts, I hope you can repost the rest of the above post, since it got eaten by the blog! I’m a fan of translation as well, and enjoy learning from the amazing work of the scholars who do that work. I especially appreciate the notes in the NET Bible (free online), since it’s one of the few that gives detailed explanations of translation and textual decisions, some of which are actually fairly surprising given the conservative source (Isaiah especially).

      I think that a lot more Reformed folk are beginning to newly appreciate the Lutheran contrast between the “theology of the Cross”, and the “Theology of Glory”, partially because of the newly blooming ministry of the LCMS. I appreciate Riddlebarger on White Horse Inn, and now Pirate Christian Radio broadcasts a huge number of incredible podcasts from an almost exclusively Lutheran point of view (Fighting for the Faith being a good way to start, since it is a deliberate outreach to evangelicals — unless you want something a little lighter than 2 hours per workday).


    • Btw, my last name is “Darby”, but no relation the JND. 😉

    • Wm: I have the NET Bible myself in a genuine leather, love it! I am still and always a reader of the Bible! I read my Greek NT for devotion in the a.m. I also grew-up reading my Douai-Reims Bible, of course Catholic, but then my KJV also, which became the WORD of the Lord for me! As I noted my greatgam had a huge affect on me early. However, I was not able extract myself from Catholicism until in my mid 20’s! (But I always had my copy of the KJV even then!) But, even as a Catholic I was a conservative, though not really a traditional one. I have had a great providence of God in my life!

    • Wm, Yes, I think Horton “gets” Luther pretty well!

    • “Faith, thus receving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love (11/2).” (WC, 58)

      This could statement is one that presses me into “Calvinism”, at least by creed, and keeps me there! It could almost come near the Council of Trent. Almost! 😉

      What do you think Timothy?

    • Allow me to share this link on this important subject, and Luther on the “Justice of God”.

      ‘I had conceived a burning desire to understand what Paul meant in his Letter to the Romans, but thus far there had stood in my way, not the cold blood around my heart, but that one word which is in chapter one: “The justice of God is revealed in it.” I hated that word, “justice of God,” which, by the use and custom of all my teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically as referring to formal or active justice, as they call it, i.e., that justice by which God is just and by which he punishes sinners and the unjust.
      But I, blameless monk that I was, felt that before God I was a sinner with an extremely troubled conscience. I couldn’t be sure that God was appeased by my satisfaction. I did not love, no, rather I hated the just God who punishes sinners. In silence, if I did not blaspheme, then certainly I grumbled vehemently and got angry at God. I said, “Isn’t it enough that we miserable sinners, lost for all eternity because of original sin, are oppressed by every kind of calamity through the Ten Commandments? Why does God heap sorrow upon sorrow through the Gospel and through the Gospel threaten us with his justice and his wrath?” This was how I was raging with wild and disturbed conscience. I constantly badgered St. Paul about that spot in Romans 1 and anxiously wanted to know what he meant.
      I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the…

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @Fr. Robert:
      The Theology of the Cross is why I am a Lutheran (I may have mentioned that already). I am a Theologian of the Cross, first, and a Lutheran, second. English translations of the scriptures are fun for me also, I was a Biblical Studies major in college (of course I am not alone in such company here).

      Thank you for that discussion on tense! I studied enough NT to follow your explanations, but Hebrew was my language emphasis, so I invite the incite of Greek scholars.

      @Fr. Robert:
      I love the “Autobiographical Fragment” from Luther, I read it every now and then when I feel my retention of theological aptitude slipping (one of the reasons I miss the classroom; it’s far easier to maintain the discipline of learning). Though I appreciate the quote from the WC, I disagree with Calvin, but find his spirit to be in the right place. Of course, that may have been expected. Because I don’t consider sanctification to be a part of the salvific process, I challenge the last portion of the statement, “…all other saving graces, and is no dead faith….” By way of the cross of Christ, there is, but, one saving grace and it is the very grace that justifies us that prompts our sanctification.

      As it relates to the original discussion, to say that salvation is not by faith alone makes one wonder how we trouble over the working unit of the five solas, but accept a similar function in the Trinity (using the Triune nature of God as a comprehensive aid, not…

    • @Timothy:

      For myself, I don’t see how we can “not” include sanctification in a real connection with justification, I like John Murray’s work here, who sees sanctification both initially, and during the life of the believer. (See, 1 Cor. 6: 11.)

      And perhaps all of the Soli’s should fall beneath: the soli Deo gloria: glory to God alone! HE works the Sola fides in Christum membra ecclesiae constituit: Only faith in Christ can establish the members of the church! 🙂

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @Fr. Robert:

      Don’t get me wrong, if sanctification is in response to justification, as a result of God’s grace, then they are connected, but I don’t think salvation’s the right word for it.

      As recipients of grace, we will engage the sanctification process because the grace of justification has prompted a change of mindset. This is, perhaps, more vocation than salvation.

      I’m not sure how the Cor. verse was meant to apply.

      This has turned out to be quite the discussion, I wonder if Michael expected it. As one to champion context, I have to redefine my arguments a little. The title of this piece, “Do Calvinists Really Believe in Salvation by Faith Alone,” indicates that my arguments stand in their Lutheran context, but I am not a Calvinist, so they may not hold well here.

      In turn, I can potentially agree that Calvinists don’t believe in salvation by faith alone. Further, neither do the Roman Catholics or the Arminians (since they were highlighted in this text). For them, there seems to be a fusion between sanctification and justification, which is the salvific process. It is the separation of the two that distinguishes Lutheranism. What do you think?

    • wm tanksley

      Robert (sorry I mangled your name, by the way) – as I understand it, Luther taught that sanctification, like justification, was essentially forensic, but applied to us within our own hearts by the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin and the gift of repentance. This (as I understand it) leads to mortification, God and us reckoning us dead to sin, both the sin we are tempted to commit but forego out of love for God, and the sin we have committed.

      I’m not sure what Timothy means when he says he doesn’t consider sanctification to be part of the salvific process. I’d like to hear more. Perhaps we should adjourn to a different forum?

    • wm tanksley

      Timothy, my point (which you probably hadn’t seen when you posted that) was that I didn’t think Luther saw sanctification as a process per se, but rather as a standing. This is hugely different from the typical Calvinist understanding, of course, and of course from the Wesleyan. I got this from White Horse Inn’s token Lutheran (grin).

      “In turn, I can potentially agree that Calvinists don’t believe in salvation by faith alone. Further, neither do the Roman Catholics or the Arminians (since they were highlighted in this text). For them, there seems to be a fusion between sanctification and justification, which is the salvific process. It is the separation of the two that distinguishes Lutheranism. What do you think?”

      I don’t think so at ALL. That’s trivially true for Roman Catholics, of course, as the fusion of justification and sanctification is a fundamental doctrinal distinctive of Romanism; but Arminians and many Calvinists see justification as forensic but sanctification as based on the work of the Holy Spirit transforming our heart to want what He wants. Those are very distinct things.

      Lutheranism ALSO makes the two distinct, but in a very different way.


    • wm tanksley

      Robert, YES to the centrality of Soli Deo Gloria.

      And the places taken by the other Solas are also distinct. “Solus Christus” is the only agent of salvation (and the only sola in the nominative case); “sola fide” is the channel or means of salvation (NOT an actor!); “sola gratia” is the mode of salvation (not as though grace is a reagent that gets poured on us, but rather describing the centrality of God’s free and gracious giving apart from merit); and “sola Scriptura” is the only authoritative source for faith and practice.

      (The alternative to “Solus Christus” is “Solo Christo”, which refers to the statement that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, so that we approach God “through Christ alone”.)

    • Timothy Kellogg


      I’d be happy to take the conversation elsewhere (if Michael doesn’t object, we can reconvene here:

      As to your disagreement, Arminians may claim salvation by faith alone, but my experience with them says otherwise. I was part of an Arminian denomination for twelve years (The Salvation Army) and “faith without works is dead,” was pretty popular. Though, it was an interpretation with an emphasis on piety, the point was clear, faith alone was not saving. The difference between orthodoxy and orthopraxy tends to influence our understanding of what we believe.

      For instance, Calvinists and Lutherans don’t believe in free will (though we differ on the concept of predestination). When we explain Total Depravity (Calvin) or The Bondage of the Will (Luther) to free will supporters they tend to agree that we’re all sinners, but miss how that negates our ability to choose (faith, God, Christ, Salvation, etc.). As a result, agreement can be found in orthodoxy that we’re all sinners, but orthopraxy illuminates how we disagree over the alienation of Original Sin. I’m not meaning to start a new rabbit trail of debate, so I want the focus to be the difference between belief and practice, not the topic I chose to describe it.

    • wm tanksley

      As soon as Fr. Robert agrees, we’ll move over there. I’d love to discuss here, but I think we’re a little too limited — and prone to wander, anyhow.

      You’re right to make that distinction between Arminians (at least the American version; the originals might have been better) and Calvinists. They tend to hold that sanctification is defined as progressively better works, which differs from the Calvinists I mentioned who hold that it’s better desires. Personally, I think that those “Arminians” are actually inheriting from Wesley’s Holiness movement rather than Arminianism per se.

      I could also be wrong about Calvnists; personally, I really like the seeming consensus of the White Horse Inn in favor of the forensic definition of sanctification; and considering that they’re 2/3 “Reformed” and 1/3 Lutheran, perhaps it’s not a solely Lutheran doctrine. (I like calling Reformed Baptists “Reformed”, but as they say, “some disagree”.)


    • @Timothy / Wm: Yes, agreed, salvation only in the initial sense. But, surely the connection of sanctification with the Christians perseverance as ‘In Christ’, (Jude 24-25). And as The Letter of James shows that “works” manifest the reality of faith, as with Abraham. And even Paul shows that “works” are part of “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works..” (Eph. 2:10)

      So I would still agree that in the initial sense of salvation, Calvin, as Calvinists, believe in ‘Justification by Faith Alone’. But in the fullest sense of salvation, sanctification is always central, and forth coming, but certainly by degree. And only God alone can judge that measure. Btw, we can see this kind of division even in the theology and teaching of Wesley, who was certainly very “Luther” on Justification itself, who makes conversion instantaeous, but the New Birth is the “Imparted righteousness”, or real change. And Justification is the “Imputed righteousness” or relative change. Again this is John Wesley. I have read him quite a bit since he was an Anglican.

      Btw, we should note here also, that Luther believed in the reality of “aspostasy”! That is a large subject also as to or in some kind of soteriology. Thus again, Luther’s theology gets very hard to confine and define – at least for me! But, I love it anyway! 😉

    • Btw, you guys go for it.. on the other blog, and I will jump in when I can! 🙂 Just a bit busy today, I have duties as a hospital chaplain, and ya never know how that flows? Sometimes I am on my laptop from here.

    • Timothy Kellogg

      Wm/Fr. Robert:

      I’ll go a head and jump over there as we continue the conversation. I have some thoughts on the influence of holiness movements and the “challenges” of defining Luther. If you drop a comment over there (so I know you’ve joined the conversation) I’m ready to dig into this rabbit trail with you guys. 🙂

    • […] a good summary of some important distinctions between Calvinist and Arminian soteriologies. See DO CALVINISTS REALLY BELIEVE IN SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE? An important highlight, Patton notes: it is grace that saves; it is faith that justifies. Ergo, […]

    • Carl Ayers

      Hi Michael,

      I’m a new commenter, though a late-comer to this post! I’ve not read the comments but appreciate a number of points in your post. I’ve been working on this issue a bit myself, trying to find a more balanced approach to “faith vs. works” and posted on this very recently.

      Sometime, I’d like to explore a possible idea of “justification” present in some Egyptian Lit. I was reading the other day, and it’s potential bearing on the biblical texts. In some legal texts, speaking of the administration of justice by the Pharaoh, he is introduced by the striking appellation “the justified”. This doesn’t mean he has been granted a legal status of ‘righteous’ before the gods but rather, I think, the gods have made him righteous (or given him righteous discernment, perhaps) to the degree able to carry out/enact the righteousness/justice of the gods – the role of the king in ANE. God’s people are indeed seen as “the righteous” in a real sense in this age according to Scripture. It’s perhaps likely that the ANE sense of justified is picked up in the OT and carried through into the NT; however, everyone in God’s kingdom enacts God’s justice, not just “the king”!

      In Christ

    • John B

      I never understood why Calvinists put so much emphasis on the “dead” agrument. It seems clear that in Romans Paul is saying that we can do nothing to have a relationship with God. We are dead in our capacity to do any work which will save us. However, it is clear from Romans that dead men can respond to the revlation of God. Read Romans 1-4. Man is expected to respond to the revelation taking the form of creation, conscious, the work, etc… We cannot work for our salvation but we can acknowledge who God is and what He has done. Faith is the recognition that we cannot work. Faith is something we must “do”, but it does not pay for one single sin, only Christ”s work can pay for our sin. It merely acknowledges that all the WORK was accomplished by Christ and we can do nothing but plead the blood. I think Calvinists definitely over emphasize the word “dead”. It is true that we are dead to having a relationship with God, but we are not dead to being able to ask for forgiveness. And if we believe in prevenient grace then faith is a gift of God to all men. But we have a choice whether to excercise that faith or not.

    • John B

      For those who don’t think love can imply a choice please remember this oldy but goody. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.”

      seems to tie together love and choice nicely. No, love doesn’t allow any choice, but it does allow reasonable choice.

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @ John B:

      I’m not a Calvinist, but I challenge your assumptions about grace and choice. Prevenient Grace is defined differently by different theologies. Calvin and Augustine would say that grace is irresistible. Wesleyans and Arminians would refute this and say we have a choice. Luther (though closer to Calvin on this issue) would say grace is resistible, but we cannot choose grace. Therefore, prevenient grace is not exclusive in definition.

      For Luther and Calvin, our will is tainted by the condition of sin and we cannot choose the grace of God. How it works is different, but it is a sound refutation of choice. Grace for them is regeneration.

      As for Jn. 3:16, belief is not choice it’s knowing and that knowledge is a gift of God. It can never be a choice of humans because our will is not free, but is in bondage to the sinful nature. Rejection of the grace of God is the result of a bonded will. Reception of the grace of God is given to all through the work of Christ alone.

    • @Timothy: Very nice, clean and almost irrefutable! i.e. biblically & theologically. 😉

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @ Fr. Robert,

      Thank you. I appreciate the affirming words!

      Fyi, Wm and I attempted to keep our sanctification dialogue going elsewhere, but I think there was a problem with comment notifications.

    • @Timothy: Yes, I noted that. I got busy on my end. I would still myself include, in measure, the doctrine of sanctification in connection with justification, (1 Cor. 6:11 / Titus 3: 5). But they are always connected, as per Calvin. But we must forgo here.

    • wm tanksley

      John B, how could you say that man is “expected” to respond positively throughout Romans 1-4, when Romans 1-4 consistently says that man absolutely never responds to God? It’s like we’re reading a weather forecast saying that people hoping for sun would be disappointed, and you telling me that the weatherman was obviously expecting sun. Yes, when we do not seek God we are sinning; but that’s the problem and the point.

      The truth is the opposite: nobody is expected to seek God. The natural man cannot even SEE the things of God. Of course, this is a disaster, and God (who loves the world and will reconcile it to Himself) has not left things alone. But the solution isn’t to pretend that man can respond if you beg man hard enough. We don’t need to appeal to man, to pray to man, to bring in seekers.

      We (collectively) need to GO, to preach the gospel, and to teach the doctrine that Christ gave his apostles and through their Spirit-inspired writings to us. Our job is not to appeal to the deaf and dead; it’s to proclaim the gospel that itself brings life. We need to baptize those who believe the message, and bring them into the life of the Church. In all we must PRAY, because it is God, not man, who chooses men; and He hears our prayers. We don’t need to be more attractional to natural men; we need to appeal to the One whose will is free to save.


    • John Smith

      Reformation Arminians have every monergistic and synergistic exactly like you state for Calvinist, just reverse the order of regeneration and Conversion.
      Election God, Atonement God, Calling God, Conversion God/man, Justification God, Sanctification God-man, Glorification God.

      Of course we see God calling through various means if you mean the gospel call. We see it as one call to all to repent and believe.

      See Grace Faith and Free Will by Dr. Robert Picirilli.

    • […] Fide – justification by faith alone – is closely connected to Sola Gratia. So much so that the phrase commonly runs “salvation […]

    • gary

      Dear Christian,

      Someone has convinced you that a square can be a circle. Someone has convinced you that the blood-thirsty, psychopathic god of the Old Testament is the same being as the loving, compassionate Jesus of the Gospels.

      Squares can never be circles.

      Your belief system is an ancient middle-eastern superstition. If you choose to continue to hold onto it that it is certainly your right. However, you are teaching this superstition to little children. Please consider what you are doing. These children deserve to know the Truth.

      I encourage you to watch this five minute video on this subject:

      Best wishes,

    • gary

      If Christians had good evidence for the Resurrection, they wouldn’t ask you to believe by faith.

      Think about that.

      Historians don’t ask you to believe the historicity of any other alleged event in history…”by faith”. So why do we need faith to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth if the evidence for this event is as strong as Christian apologists claim?

      Christian Americans, Muslim Iranians, Hindu Indians, and atheist Japanese all believe that Alexander the Great captured the city of Tyre; that Caesar crossed the Rubicon; and that Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. No one is asked to use faith to believe the historicity of these events. So why do we need faith to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus if the evidence for it is good?

      Answer: It’s not good. In fact, its terrible; nothing but assumptions and second century hearsay.

      Christians ask us to believe their ancient, supernatural tall tale based on very weak evidence, and, a jump into the dark (faith). And how do they get us to make this jump into the dark? Not by presenting us with more evidence, but by appeals to our emotions and/or our fears: Either by using, “Our almighty, all-knowing god will protect you and give you eternal life (security and hope)”, or, “Our righteous, just, and holy god will torture you for all eternity if you DON’T make the jump (using blind faith).”

      It’s an ugly, manipulative, sadistic superstition, folks. Unfortunately, it is the superstition used by the largest cult on the planet.

      Let’s double our efforts to debunk it.

    • mstair

      “Jesus says that faith is the way to see and utilize the true eternal reality of The Kingdom of Heaven, but faith is not a static entity. It either grows or withers. The Bible makes a good case for the growth of faith – through exercising it. Remember that simultaneously with this reality is the perfect Kingdom of God. Today, when you pray “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” become mindful of what you’re truly asking for.

      Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” iBooks.

    • Carol Marschall

      Do Calvinists believe that God has chosen those that will go on to Heaven or Hell no matter how good or bad they are. We have a friend that believes this.

    • […] As the world has it, however, since people saved were set to be so before the foundation of the world, the unsaved accept their salvation not by a personal act of any kind but by “receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ” in a point of their justification. But this brings up all kinds of paradoxical quandaries, making what is it about faith in Christ’s work on the Cross that is in any way essential to justification and salvation very murky. If faith is only an effect of regeneration, and justification and is entirely the result of an act of God, faith is only “the instrument for receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ” after God lays hold of us. It’s no wonder why the content of the gospel need only be faith propositions, images of truth. Not necessarily faith predicates, truth itself, since entertained propositions may be confidently held without reflection. If by premises, premises must be thought over and experienced if they are to produce truth propositions, and this cannot be.  Faith then becomes only something for our education, playing a part in sanctification, accompanying but unnecessary in the justifying faith of salvation.1 […]

    • Andrew James Patton

      You put regeneration before justification, which is nonsense. One who has not been justified is still dead in his sins, for sin is antithetical to the life of God. It is not possible to be simultaneously in your sins and alive in Christ.

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