The Soteriological Impact Of Augustine’s Change From Premillennialism To Amillennialism Part Two -- By: David R. Anderson

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 15:2 (Autumn 2002)
Article: The Soteriological Impact Of Augustine’s Change From Premillennialism To Amillennialism Part Two
Author: David R. Anderson


The Soteriological Impact Of
Augustine’s Change From
Premillennialism To Amillennialism
Part Two

David R. Anderson

Pastor
Faith Community Church
The Woodlands, Texas

I. Introduction

A significant change in one area of systematic theology can cause significant changes in another area. By definition a system is coherent and consistent. Changes in one area of the system will most likely cause changes in other areas of that same system, which is why we have likened systematic theology to a spreadsheet. In the first installment of this study we chose Augustine as a case in point. His change in eschatology from premillennialism to amillennialism caused significant changes in his soteriology, especially in the area of perseverance of the saints. Specifically, his reinterpretation of Matt 24:13 (“he who endures to the end will be saved”) as a spiritual salvation instead of a physical salvation (to enter and populate the Millennium) caused drastic changes in his soteriology. Perseverance of the saints (faithfulness until the end of one’s physical life) became the sine qua non of his soteriology. One could believe in Christ, have the fruit of the elect, but prove he was not elect if he should not persevere in faithfulness until the end of his physical life. In this second installment of our study we would like to see how this change in Augustine’s eschatology affected the soteriology of John Calvin and that of modern Christianity.

II. The Soteriology Of John Calvin

As we have already noted, the concept of simul iustus et peccator (that one could be declared righteous by God in his position, yet still

retain sin in his condition) was passed on to Martin Luther by Philip Melancthon, and John Calvin hitch-hiked with Martin Luther. When John Calvin first published his Institutes in 1536 there were only six chapters. He defended forensic justification by faith alone from Romans 4. He understood that one could be declared righteous at a moment in time when a sinner’s faith intersected with God’s offer of the free gift of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ. As such, no sins past, present, or future could bar the sinner-turned-saint from entrance to God’s Kingdom.

So much for iustus (being just). But what about peccator (being sinful)? How can the sinner-turned-saint be declared just by God when in his character he still falls so far short of God’s holiness; that is, still sinfu...

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