Coherance and Ordo Salutis / Order of Salvation
as Applied to
the Soteriological Events of Romans 8:29-30
The premise set forth in this treatise is that important truths can be elicited regarding the doctrines of soteriology (salvation) based on textual structure alone. These truths include the origin and order of the elective purposes of God as well as the nature of God in His directing future salvation events. These events are indissolubly linked and fixed, anchoring our hope to future glorification.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
In the Greek language Romans 8:30 forms an “ellipsis” which implies that those who are predestinated and only those predestinated are called, and those who are called and only those called are justified, and those who are justified, and only those justified them he also glorified.
The sequence we shall examine is foreknow -> predestinate -> called -> justified -> glorified. Is this sequence inviolable with one interpretation or does textual architecture allow for juxtapositional shifts of each event?
We discover that the soteriological events above are sequential, chronological rather than conceptual, absolute and inviolable. Any change in time order violates contiguity and argument structure. Compromising the sequence of these events creates far more consequences than interrupting the message flow - jarring the mind with ambiguous linkages. To deny or distort the sequence of Romans 8:29-30 is to deny or distort the inherent truths regarding our salvation.
Arguments are often presented that God is above order as well as not bound by time. This type of argument is called “reduction ad absurdum”. This fallacy is more disingenuous than absurd as it simply satisfies a bias. Paul lived in a very real world of space and time as affirmed repeatedly by numerous beatings he received. He was a realist. His common sense development of Romans 8:29-30 was consistent with God’s nature of being the God of order and design. “Relation is essential to God’s essence” emphasized Augustine.
Our natural response to manipulating logical order is to feel jerked. For example. seeing a caboose in the middle of a stretch of cars causes one to do a double take. The brain’s frontal lobes organize and coordinate information in a goal directed sequential manner. Indeed, it has been shown (1) that memory depends upon sequential ordering of stimuli. Injury to the frontal lobes impairs memory affecting the sequencing of events.
Paul in II Thessalonians 2:13 reaffirms and mirrors the order of salvation given in Romans chapter eight (known in Latin as Ordo Salutis). “…God hath from the beginning chosen us to salvation…”
Cause = chosen
Effect = salvation
When = from the beginning
Why = According to His good pleasure Ephesians 1:5
How = through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth Ephesians 1:5
Who = He [God] called you by our gospel
Why = for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ II Thessalonians 2:14.
Paul clearly teaches us faith and righteousness are not the causes but the means by which men are saved. Sequence allows for reasoning deductively but also gives us an integrative theology that instantiates concepts that can be reasoned inductively.
Truths of which we believe will be put forth in a context derived from a coherent and consistent whole. I will hold to the proposition that truths which we hold dear are beliefs which are shown to be coherent. If a causal property is tested and shown to be incoherent it must be discounted. Truth holds us to coherence which is the glue of configuration.
Romans 8:29-30 has appropriately been recognized as the “five golden chains” of God’s grace. (2). The apparent contradiction in each golden chain provides not only dissonance but also a paradox. The first chain is God in foreknowledge thus giving us the paradox of infallible foreknowledge versus free will. The second chain of predestination presents the paradox of God’s sovereignty verses man’s responsibility. The third chain labeled “calling” provides the paradox of an “effectual call” to elect sinners. The fourth golden chain is justification presenting the paradox of a holy God choosing from among the depraved to be His elect.
Obviously, the author will have his own biases, but the nature of our textual deliberations concern sequential events (cause and effect) rather than eclectic arguments (random) which will preclude preferential biases. Eemeren el al defines argumentation as “a verbal and social activity of reason aimed at increasing (or decreasing) the acceptability of a controversial standpoint for the listener or reader, by putting forward a constellation of propositions intended to justify (or refute) the standpoint before a rational judge. ”[van Eemeren et al l996]
Argumentation is for the purpose of winning one over to their persuasion. Deliberation seeks to know truth through reasoning. This treatise will seek deliberation as the author has learned that no amount of logic will persuade in the predestination debate. We must be honest and get beyond the disingenuousness of “God can do anything and God is above sequence” or “this is conceptual not chronological”.
Calling : the wooing of the Holy Spirit to give understanding and conviction to a man so that he might be justified.
Causal Principle: an informed logical formulation that if C happens, then and only then, E is produced by it. Where C stands for cause and E for effect. There must be a time correlation between events (they must both occur within a certain time frame), but there must also be an action (production) from one unto the other. [Mario Bunge](3)
Coherance theory: “theory of knowledge which maintains that truth is a property primarily applicable to any extensive body of consistent propositions, and derivatively applicable to any one proposition in such a system by virtue of its part in the system” . . . coherence and consistency are important features of a theoretical system – they claim these properties are sufficient to its truth”. [Benjamin, l962] [Wikepedia]
Causation Principle: “an object followed by another, and where all the objects, similar to the first, are followed by objects similar to the second, or in other words, where, if the first object had not been, the second never had existed”. The first cause is in the foreknowledge of God [past] followed by the next object predestination [past] followed by calling [present] and justification [present] and glorification [future].
An example of causation is cause and effect regarding predestination. I received Christ as savior. What was the cause as related to predestination? The cause was God’s elective purposes in predestination. I received (effect) because of predestination and was not predestinated because I believed. God’ s causal laws cannot be subverted to satisfy a position. God’s predestination (marking off) had a beginning (before foundation of the world), inseparably connected to the present (or justification) and looks forward to glorification.
Grace: the unmerited favor of God.
Foreknowledge: knowledge of something before it’s existence but presupposes “a knowing” beyond simple knowledge beforehand. The Greek word “boule” refers to an interchange of ideas, deliberate judgments, and mutual agreements. A more appropriate term for foreknowledge would be foreordination as it incorporates the words “counsel” and “foreknowledge” as they are used synonymously by Peter.
In order to protect God’s righteousness (God would never elect someone to hell) those of the foreseen persuasion distort election altogether, although it appears 29 times in the New Testament. The means to dilute the meaning of election is through “foreknowledge”. Foreknowledge has the same effects as being foreordained in the sense that God knows the future, acts upon knowledge of the future, and ordains salvation events.
My question is this. If God looks down the corridor of time and sees those that will reject Him why does He bother continuing with history? After all, the lost are “fixed” in there rejection and will go to hell. God is not willing that any perish? Where is the passion? Why will God persist in creating individuals who will go to hell. In order to fix the problem of election, further confusion was added to a “perceived” problem. The answer is Romans 8:29-30 that gives clarity. Those of foreseen faith persuasion would desire a “universalism” that won’t happen. God has his elect. And foreseen faith evangelists are no more loving than those of grace.
Predestination: “marking out” or “bound” from the Greek word proorizo. The prefix pro = before and the suffix horizo = bound or laying a boundary.
The purpose of God does not seem to differ at all from predestination, that being, as well as this, an eternal, free and unchangeable act of His will. Besides, the word "purpose," when predicated of God in the New Testament, always denotes His design of saving His elect, and that only (Rom. viii. 28, ix. 11; Eph. i. 11, iii. 11; 2 Tim. i. 9). As does the term "predestination," which throughout the whole New Testament never signifies the appointment of the non-elect to wrath, but singly and solely the fore-appointment of the elect to grace and glory, though, in common theological writings, predestination is spoken of as extending to whatever God does, both in a way of permission and efficiency, as, in the utmost sense of the term, it does. (5)
My assertion is simple. That God’s singular event of predestination was consistent with God’s character and causal law. God’s electing purposes are outside man’s personal obedience, faith, or personal choices. I believe that God is sovereign and acts in accordance with his good pleasure. That man is totally depraved, dead in trespasses and sin. That justification is by grace and grace alone through faith. That faith is a gift of God and the fruit of election and not the basis of election.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called . . . “ Romans 8:29-30
We have been instructed to travel the corridor of time with God to see important truths. I have no problem with time warps as long as God remains a God of order. It may seem strange that I could hold to a transcendent God who sees the future and yet demand sequence but we must hold to a “necessary cause” or accept that man chose God rather than God choosing man.
Linearity is a principle held by Christians unlike the Eastern cultures i.e. Hindu and Buddhist cultures that look through a lens of circularity. The ramifications are enormous . For example the goal of the Hindu is to get off the circle of life (of sufferings) whereas the Christian embraces suffering. Paul’s extended explanations on the purposes of God begins at the beginning and flows in an unfolding stream of detail in a linear fashion from beginning (foreknowledge) and the call, justification, and conforming in the present. Glorification is yet future and consummates the human history time line.
Question. Does God looks down the corridor of time and to see who will accept him and so choose him as the future elect. Let us examine closely the person whom God is obliged to save. First we will name this person Non-Elect. Next we put Mr. Non-Elect into space- time. The important thing we notice is that Mr. Non-Elect stands justified. As we recall, God looks down the corridor of time to see who has believed in him (or will believe in him). Belief is equivalent to justification thereby Mr. Non-elect stands justified, no small feat as “no man seeketh after God”. [Romans 3:11]
Let’s examine Paul’s sequence. A = Foreknowledge, B=Predestination, C=Called, D=Justified, and E=Glorified. Now that God has found non-elect to be a person of faith, He (God) can rest more comfortably and work out his plan of salvation as partners with Mr. Non-elect. Well, actually not a partner as God “must” save this man as he has somehow come to Christ. Man is saved with the cause being man (Man chooses) and the effect (God saving).
Several problems. How did person non-elect get saved? There are several theological obstacles here as well as in causal relationships.
First problem, the call. - Where did the call come from? The apostle Paul clearly stated that those who were “called” were justified. “ 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”.
Second problem, salvation by grace. If God looks down the corridor of time to see who would accept him (foreseen faith) , and chooses him, salvation would be of merit not grace. What was it in this person that allowed him to be justified. No election, no wooing of the Holy Spirit, just simply a faith that originates from somewhere. Why does non-elect accept Christ when his neighbor does not? Can we trust such a grave matter (eternal destiny) to be in the hands of mere man? But nevertheless non-elect accepts the Lord as observed by God in the past. Perhaps it was non-elect’s virtue or stellar sense of morality.
Third problem, total depravity. No need for great debate here. Spiritual death is death. There can be no response.
Fourth problem, sovereignty of God. God looks down the corridor of time and sees a man who accepts him. Man chooses God. I believe there is a problem here. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”. God is sovereign and cannot be informed who he will save but chooses “according to his good pleasure”.
Fifth problem, history. “ According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world . . . “ God’s plan of redemption is outside human history, before the foundation of the world. Outside of man’s faith or obedience. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation . . .”II Thess 2:13. An alteration in the sequence of Paul’s golden chain alters not only Ordo Salutis but Historia salutis as well.
The sum of it all as related to coherence. Let us review the model A, B, C, D, E. Where A = foreknowledge, B=Predestination C=Calling D=Justification and E=Glorification.
Foreseen faith theology creates an impossible juxtaposition of D, A ,C (modified) followed by E (glorification). There would be no “B” as there is no predestination. Another argument would conceivably be A, D, C, B, E. Either position is and non-tenable. To maintain chronological cohesion and relational integrity we must maintain A, B, C, D, E.
Arguments Against Paul’s Golden Chain of Grace
I’m not going to address “God is not bound by time”, indeed he is not. A plausible argument is presented by JC Freak. Here’s the argument.
“I married my wife, and she whom I married I also love and she who I love, I am devoted to .” (5) http://jcfreak73.blogspot.com/2008/10/there-are-some-who-insist-that-romans.html
Although plausible the argument is actually a sophistry. JC uses the fallacies of excluded middle, the fallacy of affirming the consequent, and confusing correlation and causation. If we were to set up a sequence A, B, C with “A” being marriage JC could never reach B or C but remain in A ad infinitum.
The apostle Paul gave us soteriological "events". The events were given chronologically. J.C. Freak must give us the next event in his marriage as prime events, not subprime.For example if “B” is divorce and “C” is suicide then suicide is the effect and divorce is the cause. But since God is not bound by time perhaps the suicide occurred before the divorce. Is the use of language unable to simply convey a divorce?
In our marriage analogy JC hopefully loved her and then after marriage devoted his life to her. Next came important events such as children and grandchildren. Were these not in sequence?
JC Freak’s reasonings reduces the complete origin and plan of God in salvation to a “list of good things”. He (or she) then asks a very logical question. Where is faith? Exactly JC. That is the point Paul is making. That faith is the fruit of election not the cause of election. Since election is before human history there is no discussion here of faith. We’re talking of sovereignty and grace.
Romans 8:29-30 has been appropriately designated as the “five golden chains” of the grace of God. (3) Grasping the significance of these two verses will anchor our confidence in God’s eternal plan of redemption. The chains are as follows: In foreordaining we see his sovereignty, in predestination we see his mercy, in his “effectual” calling we see his immutability, in his justification we see his grace and in our future glorification we see his wisdom and his worthiness to receive all honor and glory.
In trying to satisfy our prejudices we are apt to lose causal priority. We lose not only the logical relationship but the underlying principle which Paul is giving us which is the elective purposes of God. Paul gives us incredible truths in these two verses. That God from the beginning, outside history, chose us to salvation, that he “marked us out”, that the call would be effectual, that those called and justified will be glorified. We are given not only a panoramic view of God’s specific plan for the ages regarding salvation but we are given to know the nature of God himself. We see his sovereignty, his holiness, his immutability, his faithfulness, his grace, his wisdom, and his love.
One argument often presented against chronology is that God does things simultaneously. While I do agree that God works simultaneously, the nature of “same time” is not such that it has any bearing on our exegesis of Romans 8:29-30. In regards to the order of time we are foreordained (past), predestinated (past), effectually called (present), justified (present), and glorified (future). Calling is both in history as man is wooed by the Spirit (God and man) and outside history (God).
In summary, the elective purposes of God were within himself, determinate (horismene) and was the effect of a cause grounded in foreknowledge. Each propositional truth has unity separately and inseparately as a whole. The apostle Paul presented his “Ordo Salutis” solidly, implicitly, and coherently with conclusions that gives Christianity another paradox, another mystery. A soteriology that totally diminishes man, clarifies grace, and glorifies his name.
Parable of The Origin of Time [Joe Boot]
“Once upon a point of infinite density, Nothing that was Something went ‘Boom!’ Then there was Everything. Everything eventually named Something ‘Matter,’ the tragic character in our story. Sadly, Matter had no mind, yet this makes our tale all the more amazing!” Now Matter had only one companion, the the hero of our fable, a mysterious stranger of unknown origin called Chance. Chance, though blind, was a brilliant artist. Chance taught mindless Matter to paint and paint our pupil did. Matter painted a universe from center to rim on the canvas of a vacuum. And lo, innumerable galaxies emerged filled with infinite wonders, beauty, order, and life. The inspired brush strokes of ignorant Matter, guided by the hands of blind Chance, created together a cosmic masterpiece. But as Matter and Chance were working away they failed to spot out the villain called Time. Time crept in unnoticed back at the boom and was extremely wound up about being stirred from his sleep. Time determined there and then to wind down again and thus rub the masterpiece out—as soon as he got hold of that Chance! Chance, being blind, didn’t see Time coming and mindless Matter was helpless to intervene. Now, Time ruins the painting little by little and brags that by Chance it’s just a Matter of Time before the canvas is blank and the boom will swoon and Everything that was Something will be Nothing again, once more upon a pointless point of infinite nothingness, with no Time for Chance to Matter anymore.”
Origin of Time, Modified [James Waskovsky]
Foreseen Faith Version
I had a dream that went like this. There was a Boom and the Unregenerate were Justified. From spiritual deadness to spiritual life - quite a feat without the enabling of the Spirit. Then there is the hero of my dream Blind Faith, a mysterious stranger of unknown origin. Faith, although blind, was a brilliant teacher. Faith taught God how to see and foresee. Faith taught God how to plan salvation for the ages. Faith taught God the “good pleasures of His will”. And Lo, innumerable children were justified by Blind Faith. The inspired teachings of Blind Faith guiding God, created together a salvation masterpiece. Faith had several enemies. These were Sovereignty, Grace, Predestination, and Effectual Call. Faith boasted he did not need any gift of faith from God. His own mustered-up faith would serve just fine. After all, one would not want to leave a matter as serious as eternity to anyone except self. And in regards to that character Predestination. "How could a loving God predestinate to hell"? "And Grace, who needs grace? God looked into the future and saw me. He foresaw my merit – my stellar morality and he chose me."
Origin of Time, Modified [James Waskovsky]
I had a dream that went like this. There was a Boom and the Unregenerate were convicted. From spiritual deadness to spiritual life through the enabling of the Spirit. Then there is the hero of my dream Effectual Calling. Without his call there would not have been saving faith. But the real hero of this story is Sovereignty. It was Sovereignty who saw the lost and provided a means of redemption. Sovereignty gave absolute certainty to God’s plan of salvation. Sovereignty effected a plan based on Predestination. Predestination gave birth to Effectual Calling who lovingly wooed and convinced men of the need for salvation and insured their new birth and future glorification. In time, Sovereignty causes a big boom and Foreseen Faith goes into pointless infinite nothingless from which it originated with no time for Blind Faith to matter anymore and Predestination exploding into Glory with praise given to God for his Grace.
The second scenario is a story of grace. No looking into the future to see who would believe. A salvation originating in the eternal counsels of God, in God’s will and not man’s will. God’s intent in the first link (foreknowledge) was as fixed as the next four links; links unable to be broken. These links begin with God and ends with a promise to me that I will be glorified one day? On what basis? On the basis of predestination !! Praise God for such wonderful truths as found in God’s Ordo Salutis.
Paul’s well developed sequential statements on God’s plan of salvation meets the criteria of association, causal time order (sequence) of events, and ascending or linear hierarchy. If I could not believe that God predestinated me, then I could not believe I shall live gloriously in the future. The soteriological (salvation) events are inseparably linked.
Why do Christians resist predestination? Part of the answer is in “causal attribution”. Harold Kelly [l967, l971, l972] has written several papers on causal attribution with some interesting conclusions. “Attribution theory is a theory about how people make causal explanations, about how they answer questions beginning with “why?”. It deals with the information they use in making causal inferences, and with what they do with this information to answer causal questions.”[American Psychologist, Feb l973 pg 107].
Not surprisingly it is observed that our self esteem, emotions and affections influence our causal inferences. Paul tells us in Collosians chapter three to “set our affections”. Unfortunately, in regards to predestination our affections set us. We project our own perception of passion onto God. Our distorted, misguided definition of love would likely consist of a syrupy sweet emotional feeling of cupid love. God is neither impressed or amused. His elective purposes at the core are based on his righteousness and justice. God is not fair but he is just. God’s love is In a context of justice- a justice that issues forth from his sovereignty. A justice that is revealed in Glory as God leaves some in their sin for righteous judgment.
Could our inferences regarding John 3:16 be set (fixed) regarding “whosoever”. As I read and re-read the book of Romans it seems as if the whosoever refers in context to Jews, Gentiles, and Barbarians. The gospel call to salvation is offered to whoever, without respect to persons.
After giving my thoughts on electing grace it must be pointed out that there is no winning side. I must speak for myself. I cannot imagine a theology centered in man. The issue of where one spends eternity cannot be left to man. If God in foreseen faith looked forward into time he would find that ‘there is none that seeketh after God” and given more time he would only grow more unprofitable.
In context, Romans 8:29-30 is preceded by the fact that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (VS 28). The next word connects the two verses with “for” which demonstrates that our certain “knowing” is based upon our predestination. We have complete confidence that all things are working for our good as the same sovereign God who is working things out for our good has worked out our salvation.
No one position on elective grace is totally true. I believe as I pursue my studies on this polemic issue that I have developed a stance that provides an integrative theology. Jesus Christ alone is truth. My thoughts are mirrored by the following statements from an on-line (author unknown).
“Do I still want to understand all kinds of truth? Yes, but it is no longer what drives me. I can now be confident in what I know, at the same time hold it loosely. When I understand that Jesus possesses truth, and that I am in Him, I can learn about truth in a restful way”. (6)
End: commentary of Romans 8:29-30