A Categorization of 
Salvation Theologies

Based on my experience with the Christian community today the following is an attempt  at categorizing the various theologies Christians hold concerning the particular issues of Free Will, Eternal Security, Assurance of Salvation, Perseverance of the Saints and Modes of maintaining one's salvation status.

Labels: The labels here are not set in stone, but they are for the convenience of calling a certain theology something. The theology defines the label. The label does not define the theology. In other words these labels should be understood in the context in which they are given here. If people use the labels outside this context, then such usage may be different than how I am using them here.

Definitions

Pre-Salvation 
Free Will
Do people have a free will to respond to the gospel?
Eternal Security Once Saved, Always Saved?
Assurance 
of Salvation
Can I be sure I am saved? And upon what basis?
Perseverance 
of the Saints
Is it inevitable that those who have been born of God 
will continue to endure to the end both with respect to their faith 
and living a lifestyle consistent with that faith?
Preservation 
of the Saints
Once saved, must a person continue to maintain his faith 
or a certain level of performance 
in order to maintain his salvation status.
Faith Biblical Faith
Saving faith is a application oriented faith. It is a faith that works. 
This is salvation-based performance. 
The object of faith in Christ's and his atoning work
UnBiblical Faiths
But in performance-based salvation, one's faith is in one's works. 
Thus the object of faith is corrupted. 

Another unbiblical faith is a faith that has the right object, 
but no application.It is not application oriented, 
and thus is only a mental agreement or understanding, 
but not a real acceptance - and thus is deficient in quality.


 
Theology
Pre-
Salvation
Free Will
Post-Salvation
Eternal
Security
Assurance
of Salvation
Perse-
verance
Preservation 
Calvinist
(Lordship Salvation)
No
Yes
Relative to
Behavior
Yes
by God
Antinomian Calvinist
(Free Grace Theology) *
No
Yes
Relative to
Faith
No
by God
Secure Arminian
(Lordship Salvation)
Yes
Yes
 Relative to
Behavior
Yes
by God
Antinomian Secure Arminian
(Free Grace Theology) *
Yes
Yes
 Relative to
Faith
No
by God
Arminian
Yes
No
Relative to
Behavior
No
By a Faith that Works
Legalistic Arminian *
Yes
No
Relative to 
Behavior
No
By a Faith in Works
Lutheran
No
No
Relative to 
Behavior
No
By a Faith that Works
Antinomian Lutheran *
(Semi-Free Grace Theology)
No
No
Relative to
Faith 
No
By a Workless Faith

The ones in black are more traditional theologies
The ones in red are dangerous deviations from Biblical theology


Calvinist: Speaks in terms of election rather than salvation. There are presaved people who are nonetheless elect. They believe once elect, always elect, which is slightly different than once saved, always saved in that it includes the presaved elect. But as for those elect who have been born of God, it is inevitable that such people will continue in their faith and in a behavior consistent with that faith (in a lifestyle sense) till the end. But there are nominal Christians who still need to be saved. One's assurance of salvation is based upon the effects of being born of God and is measurable relative to one's behavior.

In his commentary on 1John 3:8-10 Calvin affirms the idea of the Perseverance of the Saints and against the Free Grace position:
"John (the apostle) denied that any one belongs to Christ except he who is righteous and shews himself to be such by his works; ... Hence two conclusions are to be drawn, that those in whom sin reigns cannot be reckoned among the members of Christ, and that they can by no means belong to his body ... all who are born of God lead a righteous and a holy life, because the Spirit of God restrains the lusting of sin ...  John not only shews how efficaciously God works once in man, but plainly declares that the Spirit continues his grace in us to the last, so that inflexible perseverance is added to newness of life. Let us not, then, imagine with the Sophists that it is some neutral movement, which leaves men free either to follow or to reject; but let us know that our own hearts are so ruled by God's Spirit, that they constantly cleave to righteousness ... John declares that all who do not live righteously are not of God, because all those whom God calls, he regenerates by his Spirit. Hence newness of life is a perpetual evidence of divine adoption." John Calvin
Antinomian Calvinist: Same as Calvinist except denies either there being any correlation between being born of God and one's behavior, or denies that such effects are lifelong. Thus believes that those who are saved can continue to live a lifestyle of sin or even fall into disbelief and yet retain their salvation status. It is also to be noted that the Reformed Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints such as spoken of in the Westminister confession is so obscurely stated as to allow for an Antinomian interpretation. Thus many who reckon themselves holding to a Reformed Theology actually are Antinomian while others who hold to Calvin's statement above are not.

Secure Arminian: This is the BCBSR position. Holds a pre-salvation Arminian viewpoint and a post-salvation Calvinist viewpoint. Actually it could be argued that Joseph Arminius himself held a similar position saying, concerning the Perseverance of the Saints, "Election to salvation comprehends within its limits not only Faith, but likewise perseverance in Faith; and since St. Augustine says, "God has chosen to salvation those who he sees will afterwards believe by the aid of his preventing or preceding grace, and who will persevere by the aid of his subsequent or following grace; "believers and the elect are not correctly taken for the same persons." Joseph Arminius Thus he would word it as the Perseverance of the Elect, as would Calvinists.

Antinomian Secure Arminian: Pre-salvation Arminian viewpoint and post-salvation Antinomian Calvinist view point. The Antimonian viewpoint is simply that once born of God (saved), there is not necessarily any correlation between one's faith, behavior, and salvation status.

Arminian: Contrary to the fatalistic view of Calvinism, the Arminian views obtaining salvation as a matter of cooperation with God. One's free will is involved in the process of salvation. But this continues after having been born of God such that one can lose salvation if failing to cooperate to the end.

Legalistic Arminian: Though claiming to advocate salvation by faith, these promote a legalistic works-based salvation in which the maintenance of one's salvation is matter of one's performance. This group often makes a big deal of rituals ascribing spiritually regenerative properties to material things. Catholic sacraments are in accordance with this kind of spirit. And of course along with traditional Arminianism, this group believes salvation is loseable. See the web page on Legalistic Arminianism

Lutheran: Lutherans believe salvation is only rejectable by choice (And therefore since "choice" and cooperation is involved, this is Synergism - cooperation). However, such a choice can only be made after one has salvation. They believe you can lose your salvation. Or to say it another way, one maintains his salvation status by choice. However, they do believe "once elect always elect". But unlike Calvinists they believe that non-elect people can be born of God. But that such non-elect Christians will lose their salvation at some time.

Antinomian Lutheran: Similar to traditional Lutherans but believed that one's salvation is maintained by a trivial non-application oriented faith. See the web page on Antinomian Lutheranism



And there are other possible combinations. Of the dangerous deviations there are basically two categories here which represents opposites sides of the spectrum. On one side is Antinomian Free Grace Theology and on the other extreme is Legalistic Arminianism.
 
Antinomian Free Grace Theology
Traditional Theologies
Legalistic Arminianism

 
Lordship Salvation: "If I am a true believer then I am eternally secure. 
But whether I am a true believer will be evident from my behavior."
Arminian Theology: "If I continue to believe, then I will be saved. 
But whether I am a true believer will be evident from my behavior."
Antinomianism: "If at some point I believed, then I am eternally secure
regardless of my continued behavior."
Legalism: "I am saved only so long as I don't sin. 
I must get resaved each time I sin."

 
 
Antinomian
Legalist
Eternal Security
& Assurance
These are equated and become the object of Faith. Having "believed" at some point in time with any kind of trivial faith, one's salvation status is never allowed to be questioned. They advocate a no fear position. In these particular issues they are consistent with traditional Arminian theology, which is even consistent with Lordship Salvation on the issue of Assurance.
Continued Faith & Consistent Behavior Whether one continues to believe or behave consistent with what would be appropriate for a child of God has no bearing on one's salvation status. Agrees with the Antinomians that these are not guaranteed, but differs on the issue of consequences. A person must continue in these or else lose their salvation. But the signficant deviation here from traditional theologies is that Salvation is lost every time you sin and Behavior becomes a means of maintaining Salvation and thus Behavior becomes the object of faith
The Antinomian Lutheran Exception:
There are those who hold that only faith and not behavior matter. One can lose salvation, but only by losing faith. However it is a faith which is uncorrelated to continued behavior or correlated only trivially. 

What the two extremes have in common is that neither accept the idea that there is an inevitable correlation between one's behavior, and salvation status after having come to faith in Christ.

Why are they particularly dangerous?

The Dangers of Free Grace Antinomian Theology
1. It preaches easy-believism, misrepresenting the quality of faith that saves.
2. This leads to nominal Christian being decieved into believing they are saved.
3. Though not licentious of itself, it does inappropriately accomodate licentious behavior in the Christian community
Some Scriptures for Antinomians to deal with:
1Cor 6:9,10; 1John 3:7-10; 2Cor 13:5

The Danger of Legalistic Arminianism

The object of faith becomes one's performance rather than the atoning work of Christ
These people may be allegorically (and for some literally) likened to the group of the circumcision who took the position "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.", whom Paul zealously opposed in his letter to the Galatians, or likened to the Galatians decieved by the doctrine of the circumcision.
They tend to equate the gospel grace with the Law as for example advocated in Ezekiel 33 which speaks of gaining and losing salvation based upon one's performance. They do not have a Biblical concept of grace. The preaching of the righteousness of the Law has its place in Christian ministry. But mainly for the purpose of bringing conviction and awareness of sin. (Luke 18:18-20; Luke 10:25-28; Romans 3:20; Gal 3:24) Jesus and Paul both used it in this manner. But the Bible makes a clear distinction between the righteousness of the Law and the righteousness which is through the gospel of grace. (Romans 4:4,5; Gal 3:10-12; Romans 3:20-24)



Related Studies

Positions concerning Perseverance
The BCBSR Theological Position
Free Grace Antinomianism
Free Grace vs The Bible
Legalistic Arminianism
Antinomian Lutheranism


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015