Are the following three interpretations correct?

  • Salvation by Works:

    You claim Jesus is Savior + Lord. Then you do works. When your works hit a certain level, you are saved.

  • Salvation by Faith:

    You claim Jesus is Savior + Lord. You are saved. Because of your faith, you will want to do works.

  • Salvation by Predestination:

    Jesus chose you from the foundations of the universe. Jesus works to change your nature. Your works is a effect of Jesus's work in changing your nature.

Where I am wrong, please correct.


Even though this is a very simplistic way of explaining these views, and there are nuances of understanding and shades of belief that fall between these three, I really don't see anything incorrect about your summary.

This does seem to accurately sum up three major views on salvation, each of which are based on Scripture, but with a different understanding of the nature of works vs. faith, predestination, and God's Sovereignty vs. free will.

Note that I did not say "the three major views". There is a lot of room for variance between these views.

  1. Is supported by several denominations,including the LDS Church, and if I'm not mistaken, Jehovah's Witnesses.
  2. Sounds like a fair representation of "Lordship Salvation" as described here.
  3. Sounds like what's taught in the following Scriptures:

Ezekiel 36 (KJV)

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Philippians 1:6 (KJV)

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:


I think you've got it wrong in every possible way and here's why.

  1. Nobody but the most abysmall Pharisee believe this. The Catholic Church is often portrayed as taking this stance, it's just not what she teaches. Mormons appear to believe this, but I think even they have mechanisms by which you can lose your salvation.

  2. If you have faith, the works will come your way, but it's still up to you to do them and if you don't do them, does that mean you didn't have faith? No, but it doesn't help your case in the final analysis. .

  3. St. Paul and St. Augustine both do a little more than allude to predestined saints, or the elect, but it is God's plan which He must know or He would not be God. Predestination is Eternal Law (reason applied to the supernatural) not dogma, and as such, it really has no bearing on our own ability to receive sanctifying grace.

So, yeah, you've described what a lot of people think Catholics, Evangelicals and Calvinists believe about salvation, but, if you want to know what we do believe you should either ask three separate questions to that effect or read the Eschewmenical Blog from July wherein those three traditions are defended.

  • I'd argue your statement on #1. Most mainstream Christian denominations are in agreement that #1 is heresy, but... I've been in Churches from dozens of denominations in my "exploratory" days, and there are plenty of denominations that teach #1, including several that are represented by people frequent, and are valued contributors to this site. The doctrine that Christ's sacrifice makes salvation possible but then you need to live a "good enough" life to make it to heaven is not all that rare. (I also realize that Catholics don't believe #1. I'm not lumping that in as some would.) – David Stratton Aug 29 '12 at 3:34
  • Wow, I didn't know that, are you talking about the "prosperity Gospel" folks? I thought about them, but didn't know if they restrict the recompense of their good deeds to being blessed on earth as well as Heaven. – Peter Turner Aug 29 '12 at 3:42
  • But I absolutely agree with the gist of your statement that a lot of people misunderstand and caricaturize what people believe. I just think that as a general layman's definition of these three views, he's got the core of each. As I said, I think that there are differences in nuance, and positions somewhere between these three, but I think he's got the meat of each view. But I tend to see things differently. I guess I'm the resident wierdo in that regard. C'est la vie. – David Stratton Aug 29 '12 at 3:50
  • Heh, I fixed up my answer for you. I do think he's closest with regard faith alone, but the definition of predestination doesn't seem right at all. – Peter Turner Aug 29 '12 at 3:53
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    OK. And since I found an official statement on the doctrine, directly from a denomination-approved (and controlled) website, here is one of them: lds.org/new-era/2005/03/… – David Stratton Aug 29 '12 at 3:56

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