Three kinds of sanctification?


****I’ve heard many fundamentalist churches have what they call ‘doctrinal statements’ to sum up their beliefs so I googled around some to see what these were like. I found the statement below (it’s actually part of a larger statement) and thought I’d use it as my example because it was more detailed than the others I came across.

I’m confused by the parts I put in red:
*]****First, it first says we are fully sanctified “positionally” before God when we’re saved

*]****Second, it then goes on to say we grow in our sanctification by the unhindered power of the Spirit. ****
*]****Third we are again, “fullly sanctified” when we see God. It doesn’t say how, but I guess just by seeing him we become fully sanctified?
****[/LIST]So, it appears there are 3 different types of sanctification going on here. The Scripture references don’t help support this from what I can tell…

I have a lot of evangelical/fundamentalist friends and would like to try and understand this line of thinking since I’m guessing it’s pretty common. Anyone understand these statements and the mindset for this type of theology? (positional sanctification, personal sanctification, full sanctification (combination of both??)**

Salvation by Grace**
We believe that salvation, the gracious gift of God, is freely offered to all, but individually received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. His shed blood enables the forgiveness of sins and satisfies all God’s righteous demands for our salvation. Salvation by grace through faith, of necessity excludes all of man’s attempts to procure salvation by meritorious efforts of any kind including baptism, partaking of the communion meal, good works, or any such thing. All the redeemed, having been born again, are retained in that state by the power of God and are therefore secure in Christ forever, without interruption. The believer’s assurance of salvation is based upon the declared Word of God and reassured by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 6:23; Romans 3:24-26; John 3:16-18; I Peter 1:18-19; Acts 16:30-31; John 10:27-30: Romans 8:1,16, 38-39; I Peter 1:5; I John 5:11-13.

We believe that every saved person is set apart unto God in three ways. First, he is completely sanctified in his positional standing before God. Second, although the believer in Jesus Christ is given a new nature, he retains the old sin nature throughout this life. There is, therefore, progressive sanctification wherein the Christian is to grow in grace and to be changed by the unhindered power of the Spirit**.** Third, the believer will ultimately be fully sanctified when he shall see the Lord and be “like Him.” John 17:17; II Corinthians 3:18; II Corinthians 5:17; II Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:24: Ephesians 5:25-27; I Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 10:10, 14; Hebrews 12:10; I John 3:2-3


Actually, this is using different language, but it appears to me as if this is much like the Catholic position, although I am unsure if the first one of “positional sanctification” is also another way of stating OSAS. It would depend on the group I think. I have many Evangelical/Fundamentalist friends and some believe in OSAS and others do not.

The first one, positional sanctification, is our initial justification. This is when, through God’s grace, made part of the family of God. For them, this would be when they made the personal decision to invite Christ into their heart. For Catholics, we believe this happens when we are baptized into the body of Christ.

The second one, progressive sanctification, Catholics would take about it by “doing good works”. This is when we live out our faith, and by doing so, become more and more Christ-like. Some of your friends might talk about it like “we need to do more than talk the talk. We also need to walk the walk”. There are some who would disagree that in “progressive sanctification” and believe it happens all at once the moment they are saved.

The last one is so very Catholic:D This would be purgatory. This group clearly believes that we will not be completely holy until we die. This is what Catholics believe. We will be purged of all unholiness. Many fundamentalists believe this but will vemenently that this is purgatory in any way, shape, or form.

That’s my take on it. But be aware, unless it is specifically from the Church, local church, of your friends, it is hard to say whether or not your friends believe in this statement or not.

God Bless,


[/LIST]**Yes, this is a more radical way of stating the traditional Protestant notion of “imputed righteousness.” Traditionally Protestants (not all Protestants, but we could fairly say that this was the mainstream position) believed that believers are “justified” by faith alone–i.e., declared righteous before God at the moment in which they believe; but they are sanctified over time by the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Some fundamentalists have a problem with this–they think it still smacks too much of “works righteousness.” For instance, Calvinists (perhaps the most mainstream, traditional version of Protestantism, though when I say “mainstream” or “classical” Protestantism I usually am speaking of Calvinism and Lutheranism together) would say that sanctification is part of final salvation. They would agree that good works and the commands of God’s Law play a role in our sanctification and hence, in a sense, in our salvation–even though they insist that we are regarded as righteous before God from the instant in which we believe (and unlike Lutherans, they think that we can never fall away once we have believed). This is anathema to many fundamentalists. So this group is speaking of “positional sanctification” to make it clear that we are both righteous and holy simply by virtue of our “position” or “standing” before God, and that our progressive sanctification has absolutely nothing whatever to do with our standing before God. In a sense it’s only a nuance of the more traditional Protestant view, but I think it’s a very significant (and thoroughly reprehensible) development nonetheless.

**Third we are again, “fullly sanctified” when we see God. It doesn’t say how, but I guess just by seeing him we become fully sanctified? **

Well, that makes sense, since God is complete holiness and unholiness cannot live in His presence. I would agree with this view, but I would say (as they probably would not) that the fire of God’s love burning away our remaining sinfulness is almost certainly going to hurt quite a bit (i.e., I believe in Purgatory!).

Or they may believe that believers’ sin is a function of being in this body and that we become sinless when the body dies. This is way too Gnostic for me, but a lot of Protestants believe this (I believe Luther believed it, and maybe Calvin as well–it’s really the only way I can see that you can reasonably avoid something approaching Purgatory).



Thanks Edwin. I personally had no idea that "positional sanctification was such a loaded phrase.

God Bless,


I may be reading too much into it, but generally “positional” is a catchphrase of dispensationalist evangelicals expressing a radical “sola fide” position.



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