Ordo salutis, (Latin: "order of salvation") refers to a series of conceptual steps within the Christian doctrine of salvation. It has been defined as "a technical term of Protestant dogmatics to designate the consecutive steps in the work of the Holy Spirit in the appropriation of salvation." Although there is within Christian theology a certain sense in which the phases of salvation are sequential, some elements, are understood to occur progressively and others instantaneously. Furthermore, some steps within the "order of salvation" are regarded as objective (or monergistic), performed solely by God, while others are considered subjective (or synergistic), involving humanity. Christians prior to the Protestant Reformation, while not using the exact phrase, sought to order the elements of salvation. The term "Ordo salutis" was first used by Lutheran theologians in the mid-1720s. The most common sequential order is:
An equivalent Catholic list:
- Faith (willed assent to the Church's dogmata, not fiducial faith as in Protestantism)
- Regeneration (in the Sacrament of Baptism)
- Penance (after the Sacrament of Reconciliation)
Criticism and support
Some recent theologians such as Karl Barth, G. Berkouwer and H. Ridderbos have criticised the idea of an "order of salvation." For example Barth sees the ordo salutis as running the risk of "psychologizing" salvation and Berkouwer is concerned the ordering does not do justice to the "fullness" of salvation. Another criticism comes from Richard Gaffin who asserts "that union with Christ is for Paul the overarching factor within which the various elements of the order of Salvation are to be considered."
However, those wishing to sustain an idea of sequential order in salvation appeal to Romans 8:29-30 (KJV);
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
In addition as Hendrikus Berkhof observes, Christians cannot avoid thinking "coherently" about the particular elements of salvation. The concept of an ordered sequence of soteriological doctrines was also an important part of the construction of the Westminster Confession.
- 'Ordo Salutis' Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc08/htm/ii.vii.htm#ii.vii Retrieved 24 May 2009.
- Hendrikus Berkhof, Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of the faith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979): 478.
- Demarest, Bruce (2006). "The 'Order of Salvation'". In Feinberg, John S. The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation. Wheaton: Good News Publishers. pp. 36–44. ISBN 978-1-58134-812-5.
- S.B.Ferguson 'Ordo Salutis,' New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1988): 480.
- Ferguson 'Ordo Salutis,' 480.
- Sam Storms, 'The Order of Salvation: Part One', Enjoying God Ministries http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/the-order-of-salvation-part-i/ Retrieved 24 May 2009.
- Ferguson, 'Ordo Salutis,' 480.
- Robert Letham The Westminster Assembly (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2009): 245.
- Ferguson, 'Ordo Salutis,' 481.
- Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 242-246.