Terminism

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Terminism is the doctrine that God has eternally determined a time limit (terminus) in the life of the individual after which he no longer wills the conversion and salvation of that person. After that time the individual may no longer repent and come to faith. Terminism was a doctrine of some pietists and therefore went along with the idea of human free will in spiritual matters.

The difference between strict terminism and other doctrines is that the time limit is set by God, not by the individual's hardening his own heart. Terminism is also not a matter of the sin against the Holy Ghost. Different theologians may have combined these elements with terminism in varying ways. Pietism in general was not characterized by a high degree of doctrinal unanimity.

As expressed by the pietist J C Boese (d. 1700), terminism led to a controversy between the pietists and the orthodox Lutherans in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Terminism is best considered a peculiar point of historic pietism, though a similar idea has been held by some Quakers.

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In the history of philosophy, terminism is sometimes used to refer to nominalism.

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J M Drickamer
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)


The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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