Salvation: declarational salvation and ontological salvation
Salvation: declarational salvation and ontological salvation refers to two differing models of salvation in Christianity and in philosophy and theology. Soteriology is the study of beliefs in redemption and salvation in world religions; and in Christianity in particular it is the study of salvation as it is especially articulated in both Scripture and Christian doctrine and tradition.
Declarational vs Ontological
Declarational salvation is also called juridical or forensic salvation. In Christianity a conscious awareness and acknowledgement of sin and an understanding acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer immediately grants the repentant sinner amnesty from the judicial punishment merited by sin according to the irrevocable decree of God's absolutely arbitrary justice and mercy. It is also called "decisional salvation", being saved by making a "decision for Christ", the personal decision to accept or "take" Christ as personal Lord and Savior. The soul's personal relationship to God is legally and socially changed from being regarded as an identified enemy of God to being regarded as an identified friend of God. Both the ultimate final verdict and sentence of eternal punishment for unrepentant sin (Hell), and the verdict of pardon with complete total release from that punishment for personal repentance of sin (Heaven), are imposed by the unimpeachable judicial decree of the Sovereign Lord God as creator and judge of the heavenly court in accordance with Divine Law. The sinner remains a sinner, but is pardoned and set free of all the legal prosecutorial charge of inherited and merited guilt by a personal declaration of innocence obtained for the sinner by Jesus Christ through a single unique and unrepeatable substitutionary act of fully suffering, on behalf of the repentant sinner, the ultimate eternal punishment justly imposed on the ungodly for the disobedience of sin. Both Baptism and Eucharist are Ordinances of symbolic significance only, which have no power of themselves to bestow the Divine Grace of salvation. Salvation is the legal declaration in heaven and on earth of the status of being declared justified before the presence of God the just Judge of all. God passes over former sins, to prove that he himself is righteous and that he justifies whoever has faith in Jesus. To one who does not depend on personal works of righteousness which cannot redeem but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness, apart from works.
Ontological salvation is the transformative salvation of the being or soul of the sinner by causing an actual change of nature, from the diseased spiritual state of a ruined condition of defiled sinfulness ultimately leading to death, to a genuine cleansed state of pure innocence in being healed of the fatal disease of sin and made new and able to partake of the divine nature. In Christianity this change is effected by the union of the Son of God, Christ Jesus, with the whole of sinful human nature but without the defilement of sin, and as head of the whole of humanity, making reparation for the whole of the offense of the sin of mankind by emptying himself of all claim to sovereign godhood by the sacrifice of himself and his own personal infinite dignity to the shameful death of crucifixion, and submitting himself as a man of flesh and blood to the power of death, and then overcoming death and the prince of death, Satan, by the power of his resurrection. The sinner is united to Christ by means of the sacraments instituted by him as efficacious channels of his own personal life, which, of themselves, by his sovereign decree, give grace to heal the soul of the sinner of all unclean defilement of the disease of sin and from sin itself, removing the sinner from the power of death, and changing the nature of the redeemed soul from the debased corruption of sin to an exalted sharing or participation in the divine nature of God, called in Greek Theosis. Jesus Christ is the Sacrament of Salvation within the Body of Christ, his catholic (universal) Christian Church, with Jesus as Head of the body and High Priest of Christian worship, giving his own body and blood as real food to his people in the Eucharist. The sacraments of Christ provide the power of salvation and give supernatural healing and life by infusing his Divine Spirit and Life into the soul making all souls consecrated to him new in himself in his Church as the Sacrament of Salvation, giving them power to become sons of God. God through Jesus Christ has established the Church and its sacraments as the source of the power of saving grace unto everlasting life in him, he in his members and they in him, as Christ is one with the Father. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that no human being is justified unto salvation by works, but only by the initial saving grace of God.
Illustration of contrast by analogy
The difference between declarative and ontological salvation may be understood by analogies of comparison between:
- placebo and drug
- law and medicine
- pardon and cure
- symbol and sign
- nominalism and realism
- form and substance
It is like the difference between a fully illustrated picture of a scheduled banquet being prepared for those who are invited to the unimaginably glorious feast of complete victory over a sentence of execution at a future date soon to be announced which cannot be cancelled, and an actual participation in a real dinner of victorious anticipation now, giving all of the invited guests a continuous real foretaste of heavenly food in the present, now, a celebration partaking of the unimaginably glorious riches of the promised future banquet feast of victory over the conquest of all terminal disease and pain and death.
- declare (dictionary.com)
- Romans 3:25-26; 4:5-6; Psalm 49:7-9; Revelation 12:10.
- John 6:29-69; 1 Corinthians 10:15-18; 11:23-32.
- John 1:12-13; 17:20-23; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:20; Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Revelation 21:2-7; Genesis 1:27; Wisdom 2:23-24.
- Grace and Justification CCC 1987-2029.
- Soteriology in Judaism, Jim Landelius, Andrews University, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary (academia.edu.)
- Competing Theories of Christ's Atonement: Penal Substitution, Economic Transaction, or Obediential Love? - Book review, Homiletics & Pastoral Review (hprweb.com)
- The Evangelical Calvinist. Forensic + Ontological – The Atonement, by Bobby Grow(growrag.wordpress.com)
- The Difference Between Magic and Ministry, R. Scott Clark – The Aquila Report (heidelblog.net) —Reformed Theology
- Theories of the Atonement (studentshare.org)
- Glory to God for All Things – Being Saved – The Ontological Approach, Fr. Stephen Freeman (ancientfaith.com)
Glory to God for All Things – Why Morality is not Christian, Fr. Stephen Freeman (ancientfaith.com)
- Running head: Atonement in Orthodox Soteriology. The Sacrifice of the Life-Giving Death: The Atonement and Its Theological Presuppositions in Eastern Orthodox Soteriology (digitalcommons.liberty.edu)
- Q+A – Ontological Change (stpaulsparish.org)
- The Magic of the Sacraments, by Rob Agnelli (catholic365.com)
- What is the difference between miracles and magic? (gotquestions.org)
- The Difference Between Magic and Magick, by Catherine Beyer (learnreligions.com) "miracles are not magic"