The first thing that caught my attention, after Warfield skillfully introduces his reader to “The Differing Conceptions”, in which he briefly explains the meaning of “Naturalistic, Sacredotalistic, Universalistic and Particularistic, was this great sheet, a brilliant summary.
After being stunned by this I was then able to continue his study with a helper, this sheet, on the side, (I recommend reading the whole book, to get a full understanding, of what Warfield is saying here) Warfield then dives into the depths of each “sub-point” (Palagian, Remonstrant, Orthodox Greek …) to deliver to us the work of salvation by God alone.
I will just briefly skim through the remaining four chapters:
The Naturalistic view, also called “Autosoterism” or “universal Heathenism”, is in a short form:
“negatively, the denial of the true God, and of the gift of his grace, and positively, the notion that salvation can be secured by man’s own power and wisdom”
(B. B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, p.26, ichtuspublications)
and has nothing to do with biblical Christianity but unfortunately it is gaining in popularity, sadly even among evangelicals today.
Sacredotalism, the belief of the Catholic Church, B. B. Warfield states in his book about Sacredotalism:
God in working salvation, does not operate upon the human soul directly but indirectly; that is to say, through instrumentalities which he has established as the means by which his saving grace is communicated to men. As these instrumentalites are committed to human hands for their administration, a human factor is thus intruded between the saving grace of God and its effective operation in the souls of men; and this human factor, indeed, is made the determining factor in salvation.
(B. B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, p.48,49, ichtuspublications)
Universalism, sadly, the most widespread belief of evangelicalism today, is the notion that God does not interact with individual persons, but to all men alike, meaning, that either everyone is saved or no one. Obviously most evangelicals won’t admit to either side. Here is where Warfield closely looks at the inconsistent worldview of “Arminianism”.
The great problem requires to be faced by universalizing evangelicalism, therefore, of how it is God and God alone who saves the soul, and all that God does looking towards the saving of the soul he does to and for all men alike, and yet all men are not saved.
(B. B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, p.73, ichtuspublications)
Ending at Particularism, the “Augustinian” or “Calvinistic” view is:
The Calvinist is he who holds with full consciousness that God the Lord, in his saving operations, deals not generally with mankind at large, but particularly with the individuals who are actually saved. Thus, and thus only, he contends, can either the supernaturalism of salvation which is the mark of Christianity at large an which ascribes salvation to God, or the immediacy of the operations of saving grace which is the mark of evangelicalism and which ascribes salvation to the direct working of God upon the soul, come to its rights and have justice according to it … The denial of particularism is constructively the denial also of the immediacy of saving grace, that is of evangelicalism, and of the supernaturalism of salvation, that is of Christianity itself. It is logically the total rejection of Christianity.
(B. B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, p.86,87, ichtuspublications)
Calvinism, with its doctrines of election and irresistible grace, is the only system which can make credible the salvation of any sinner: since in these doctrines alone are embodied in its purity the evangelical principles that salvation is from God alone and from him only in the immediate working if his grace.
(B. B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, p.70,71, ichtuspublications)
This small booklet with about 100 pages is a truly great lecture, on “How God saves a soul”.
Originally delivered as a series of lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary, “The Plan of Salvation” is a masterful articulation of various views of salvation among Christian believers. Warfield, in this own thoughtful way, analyzes and interacts with each viewpoint and arrives at the conclusion that salvation is either from God or from ourselves. This thought-provoking book will be sure to foster a better understanding of God and his role in salvation, convincing you that a renewed heart is truly of the Lord. (Blurb by ichtuspublications, Copyright 2015 – ichtuspublications)
I highly recommend reading this book!