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Terminism is the Christian doctrine that there is a time limit for repentance from sin, after which God no longer wills the conversion and salvation of that person. This limit is asserted to be known to God alone, making conversion urgent. Among pietists such as Quakers, terminism permitted the co-existence, over the span of a human life, of human free will and God's sovereignty.

Terminism is also mentioned in Max Weber's famous sociological work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. "[Terminism] assumes that grace is offered to all men, but for everyone either once at a definite moment in his life or at some moment for the last time" (Part II, Ch. 4, Section B). Weber offers in the same paragraph that terminism is "generally (though unjustly) attributed to Pietism by its opponents."

Terminism is defined by rhetorician Walter J. Ong, who links it to nominalism, as "a concomitant of the highly quantified formal logic of medieval scholastic philosophy, and thus contrasts with theology which had closer connections with metaphysics and special commitments to rhetoric" (135). [1]


  1. ^ Ong, Walter J. Ramus: Method and the Decay of Dialogue from the art of discourse to the art of reason. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958.