Friday, October 28, 2011

'Plan of Salvation' - Earliest Usage?

A question of historical interest comes to my mind. What is the earliest recorded usage of the phrase "plan of salvation", apart from the putative historical setting of the Book of Mormon (see Moses 6:62; Jarom 1:2; Alma 24:14, 42:5)? Although this is currently quite popular among Latter-day Saints, I know for certain that the phrase predates the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To cite the earliest example of which I was aware when I started writing this post, it appears in the title of Methodist minister Asa Shinn's 1813 An Essay on the Plan of Salvation: In Which the Several Sources of Evidence are Examined, and Applied to the Interesting Doctrine of Redemption, in Its Relation to the Government and Moral Attributes of the Deity. Now I've found it in a 1768 sermon ("The Law Not Made Void Through Faith") by Jonathan Edwards. I doubt very much that this should happen to be its first use, either. Where might the phrase first have turned up?


  1. You may want to consider the Greek term oikonomia.

  2. Thank you, aquinas! You're likely correct in that oikonomia provides the ultimate and most ancient antecedent for the 'plan of salvation' concept, frequently carrying much the same import. I still do wonder, though, at what point something more lexically akin to "plan of salvation" began to appear - whether that English phrase, or some closer equivalent in Greek, Latin, French, etc.