Other teachers may prefer to fill out these perspectives differently but the five are an accurate overview of Christianity.
(a) Summary Point: The Pope, councils and traditions guide the church.
(b) Historical Start: Roman Catholicism.
(c) Major Summary: God infuses his grace so that the person can apply faith and works for salvation. God’s grace and our works are necessary for salvation.
(d) Will: God’s will starts the process and human will fulfills the process.
(e) Symbol of personal faith: Penance, godly life, and following the Pope.
(f) Weakness(es): No certainty of salvation because no one is sure if they have done enough works or have confessed their sins adequately. Great emphasis upon traditions and the guidance of councils and the popes that focus on the Word of God is minimal. Work out godliness not by emphasis on Jesus, but by confession, penance, masses, offerings, indulgences, and relics.
(a) Summary Point: By grace alone, by faith alone, and by Scripture alone is the church guided.
(b) Historical Start: Martin Luther
(c) Major Summary: The word of God is the only source of faith and life. Through Christ Jesus we are saved. We are justified, declared not guilty, by God because of the work of Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
(d) Will: God’s will brings people to faith through Word and sacraments. Christians moved by God’s grace and will, are moved to apply their will as Christians in their lives.
(e) Symbol of personal faith: Trust in Christ Jesus as savior and receive that gift of forgiveness through Word and Sacrament. Use the word and sacraments at church and in home. Live in thankfulness to God.
(f) Weakness(es): Lutherans are at times accused on not being very interested in Christian life, because we place a large emphasis on having a justified relationship with the LORD.
(a) Summary Point: The Sovereign God elects those who will believe to have faith.
(b) Historical Start: John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli who began what was known as the Reformed church.
(c) Major Summary: God applies his sovereign power to call, choose, elect, and predestine those who will believe and those who will be condemned. The LORD also moves Christians godly action and preserves the elect from falling from faith.
(d) Will: God’s Sovereign will is final.
(e) Symbol of personal faith: The elect are seen in their actions.
(f) Weakness(es): Destiny and fate are a consequence of Calvin’s teachings. Some are predestined for hell and no repentance will change that. The elected cannot fall from faith.
(a) Our will chooses to believe or not believe.
(b) Pelagius and then Arminius were the main proponents of the importance of the human will in salvation and Christian life.
(c) Major Summary: People are born with a good will and need to choose or reject the grace of Jesus and in living their Christian lives.
(d) Will: Sometimes it is man’s will alone that brings about the Christian faith. For some it is man’s will coupled with God’s will that brings to faith and sustains faith.
(e) Symbol of personal faith: My will chooses Jesus and Christian life.
(f) Weakness(es): The teaching of human, free will to accomplish salvation does not take into account the depth of original sin, nor the sinful nature of all people. With the emphasis on human will, the grace and forgiveness of Jesus can be minimized or even ignored.
(a) Summary Point: The Holy Spirit is at work in God’s People even today.
(b) Historical start: Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement down through the ages.
(c) Major Summary: The work of the Holy Spirit has a much larger impact in our world than other groups admit or teach.
(d) Will: The Holy Spirit’s Will is active.
(e) Symbol of personal faith: Speaking in tongues or another of the miraculous gifts.
(f) Weakness(es): Emphasis on the Holy Spirit has then decreased a balanced Biblical emphasis on Jesus and God the Father. The emphasis on the miraculous has been abused in God’s activities in life today. The realization of salvation is based upon a miraculous gift, or a life event. Christ is minimized and the actions of the Christian become the work for salvation.