Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Seven Points of Vaughanism

The history of Christianity and its simple gospel message seems to have long been cursed with a soteriological debate regarding Divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Many historians would trace its origins to Augustine and Pelagius over 1600 years ago. I say “cursed” not because the relationship of Divine sovereignty and human responsibility is unimportant. No, “cursed” because the debate has descended into theological bloviating on theological minutiae that the theological bloviaters do not understand – and do not understand that they do not understand! Trying to screw down their theology as tight as possible, they miss the command to simply preach the gospel and leave the salvation to God. No! We must know and understand the ordo salutis [i] and other depths that only God understands – and we must make sure everyone else understands what we don’t understand just the way we (don’t) understand it! Never mind that “the essence of Christian maturity” might be “to have a high tolerance for ambiguity.”[ii]

So into the fray steps this bloviater to bloviate about the subject. Like everyone else, I don’t much know what I’m talking about either, but I am satisfied with some of the ambiguities. That satisfaction does not mean that I can’t or don’t enjoy the discussion and debate. For many years I have been intrigued by it and its intricacies. I have posted on the soteriological positions of Calvinism, Arminianism, Traditionalism (or Extensivism), Unlimited Atonement, and other points in between. I have posted about tulips, roses, poinsettias, lillies, even daisies – so much so that some might say I am obsessed with “Five Points”.

Calvinism’s and Arminianism’s acrostics normally focus on five points – either the TULIP, its “synonyms” or its “antonyms.” I cannot be satisfied with the sufficiency of “five points,” so I have developed the “Seven Points of Vaughanism.”[iii] (While preparing for this post, I discovered that two years ago, in an attempt to make a brief soteriological statement, I had posted another seven points about which I had forgotten. I’ll compare these two later and see about a possible merger. J )

* The Seven Points of Vaughanism *
  1. Hereditary depravity and hereditary death: Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
  2. Human inability: John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
  3. Human ability, God given and Christ received: John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
  4. Sufficient and efficient atonement: 1 Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
  5. Gracious faith, a gift: Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
  6. Inner witness: Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
  7. Divine preservation: John 10:28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
A “non-standard” soteriological view is often caricatured as Calvinism by non-Calvinists, and as Arminianism by Calvinists. So be it. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with that ambiguity and think it may even be an indicator of being on the right track! I hold the following soteriological truths to be biblically-evident. God undertook from eternity to deliver man from sin. In time Jesus died as a sacrifice to save all who believe. The Spirit draws men to Christ. Under and only under that conviction they can become both willing and able to believe in Christ. All those who believe are born again, are justified through faith, and are kept by the power of God unto salvation.

[i] The ordo salutis is Latin for “order of salvation.”
[ii] Don’t know the origin, but I have often heard this stated by radio preacher Steve Brown. Of the primitivistic (not just Primitive) Baptists in the Appalachias, Deborah McCauley writes, “they accept ambiguity – running deep and broad – as an indisputable fact of life. They do not feel driven to resolve it in their preaching with semantically fancy footwork that artificially overcomes ambiguity by forcing all the pieces to fit together neatly...” (Appalachian Mountain Religion: A History, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1995, p. 95). Roughly, “primitivism” believes that the New Testament provides a pattern for the church that can be reproduced by faithful adherence to the New Testament.
[iii] I used another spelling of our family name – Vaughan – simply because it yields itself to a three-syllable pronunciation of a theological system, Vaugh-an-ism, as does Calvinism. (“I’ll bet you think this song is about you, don’t you.” Carly Simon) The “seven points” are subject to revision as the Bible requires.

No comments: