Paul's Passing Thoughts

Election and the Real Golden Chain of Salvation: Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 14, 2015

Let’s discuss yet another Reformed doctrine; the ordo solutis, or “order of salvation.” This is also known as the “golden chain of salvation” and the proof text is Romans 8:29,30.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

It goes something like this: God fore-loved certain individuals and not others. He then predestined them to salvation. He then at some point in time calls them, and then justifies them resulting in glorification. Here is a Reformed illustration below:

Golden Chain

Catholic theologians often object to this take on Romans 8:29,30 because they reject once saved always saved, but they misunderstand, authentic Protestantism does NOT hold to OSAS. More to the point here, the golden chain of salvation is seen as individual, rather than a means of salvation. And that’s what election is: it chooses the means of salvation, and chooses individuals who have roles in the various purposes of salvation. God chose Christ to die on the cross, therefore Christ is elect; He chose the holy angels for certain roles in the salvation process, therefore they are elect; He chose the nation of Israel as part of the process, therefore the nation of Israel is elect, and He chose certain individuals throughout history to contribute to the process of salvation, therefore they are chosen as well to play a part in the means of salvation. That does not mean that they did not have a choice to follow God prior to that choosing for a role in God’s salvific plan. For instance, obviously, God chose the virgin Mary to bear and give birth to Christ as part of the salvation plan. It is also obvious that Mary was saved prior to that choosing. It is obvious that Christ chose the 12 disciples for a role in the slavific plan, but that doesn’t mean they had no choice in choosing God prior to that, hence,

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other.

In context, Christ is referring to their election as apostles, not some inability to choose God. As we shall see in the future parts, the REAL golden chain of salvation is a mode of salvation and those used by God to execute it, not a golden chain of salvation that pertains to individual salvation through determinism. Let me now make a beginning case for your consideration. Let me create some reasonable doubt in regard to the Reformed ordo solutis.

First, if you will note once again the Reformed illustration posted in this first part, it illustrates a past tense that preludes present continuous action. This, of course, is necessary for a deterministic conclusion. However, if you carefully examine Romans 8:29,30 it is strictly past tense. Paul is speaking of something that has already taken place. Any other conclusion is presumptuous at best. Paul is writing about something that has been established in the past, or a group of people who have already been glorified. This clearly casts reasonable doubt on the ordo solutis.

Secondly, the ordo solutis would indicate that all of those who are called are also justified, or saved. This is clearly not the case.

Matthew 22:1 – And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants  to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants,treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

In this passage, the “called” are defined: the called are all peoples who are invited to believe in the gospel of the kingdom, and those who except the invitation are of the elect group. Not all of the called are elect. This throws a very large monkey wrench into the Reformed golden chain/order of salvation. Hence, John Calvin came up with three categories of individual preselection: the non-elect; the called; or those temperately chosen/illumined/born again, and those who persevere; or those who are both called and elected in the final analysis. Therefore, assurance of salvation is absolutely impossible in context of the ordo solutis. NO ONE can really know for certain that they are saved until they are “manifested” in the “final tribunal” where “final justification” is determined.

Yet, the apostle John wrote an epistle so that we may “know” presently that we are born again (1John 5:13). The Reformed order of salvation seems apparent based on its deterministic presuppositions, but further investigation is needed.


4 Responses

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  1. Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on September 15, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, who is kindly offered to us, and comes forth to meet us: he will number us among his flock, and keep us within his fold. But anxiety arises as to our future state. For as Paul teaches, that those are called who were previously elected, so our Savior shows that many are called, but few chosen (Mt. 22:14). Nay, even Paul himself dissuades us from security, when he says, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” (1 Cor. 10:12). And again, “Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee,” (Rom. 11:20, 21). In fine, we are sufficiently taught by experience itself, that calling and faith are of little value without perseverance, which, however, is not
    the gift of all (CI 3.24.6).


  2. Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on September 15, 2015 at 3:52 PM

    What I have cited here from CI 3.24.6 would also be consistent with Reformed soteriology which teaches that Israel lost its previous election status because of unbelief. Paul states in Romans that such a reality would constitute a failure of God’s word (Rom 9:6).


  3. Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on September 15, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    Also, in mortification and vivification which is the 2 parts of Reformed sanctification, fear of condemnation is required. Again from the CI…

    By mortification they mean, grief of soul and terror, produced by a conviction of sin and a sense of the divine judgment [sec.3]… it seems to me, that repentance may be not inappropriately de-fined thus: A real conversion of our life unto God, proceeding from sincere and serious fear of God; and consisting in the mortification of our flesh and the old man, and the quickening of the Spirit. In this sense are to be understood all those addresses in which the prophets first, and the apostles afterwards, exhorted the people of their time to repentance. The great object for which they labored was, to fill them with confusion for their sins and dread of the divine judgment, that they might fall down and humble themselves before him whom they had offended, and, with true repentance, retake themselves to the right path [sec.5]… The second part of our definition is, that repentance proceeds from a sincere fear of God. Before the mind of the sinner can be inclined to repentance, he must be aroused by the thought of divine judgment; but when once the thought that God will one day ascend his tribunal to take an account of all words and actions has taken possession of his mind, it will not allow him to rest, or have one moment’s peace, but will perpetually urge him to adopt a different plan of life, that he may be able to stand securely at that judgment-seat. Hence the Scripture, when exhorting to re-pentance, often introduces the subject of judgment, as in Jeremi-ah, “Lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings,” (Jer. 4:4)… The stern threatening which God employs are extorted from him by our depraved dispositions [sec.7] [from the CI 3.3.3-7].


  4. Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on September 15, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    …Calvinism clearly calls for the “Christian” to be under condemnation in order to have a shot at “final justification.”


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