Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why I do not believe in Eternal Security:

Why I don't believe in Eternal Security:

I have two basic problems: 1. Salvation is sanctification, and 2. Eternal Security, although inconsistent with "free" will, assures "lukewarm" or "carnal" Christians of their salvation when it is evident they do not have salvation themselves.

Quickly, I'd like to mention what Eternal Security is. It is a doctrine that I semi-agree with. I agree that if someone is "saved" they cannot lose their salvation. But Eternal Security is a doctrine for the "Moderate Calvinists," or what I would prefer to call them, "Progressive Arminians." Typically, this is the view held by Arminian Southern Baptists, some Free Will Baptists, Independent Baptists, and others.

Eternal Security- the inability to lose one's salvation (once saved, always saved)- is a doctrine that assumes that salvation is a one time act. What do I mean by that? I mean that salvation is not merely forgiveness of sin. Salvation is sanctification. This is one place where John Wesley and I would come quite close concerning theology. Romans 8:28-29 says that we were predestined to be conformed to the image of God's Son, i.e. sanctification. Now, I'm not downplaying the importance and relevance of justification or the forgiveness of sin, but we were not just saved from something; we were saved to something. We were forgiven and declared as righteous so that we would be sanctified. In fact, it seems to me that the Bible says that we were elected to sanctification, not just to salvation. The problem with Eternal Security is that it assumes that salvation is merely forgiveness of sin- not sanctification and not conformity to Christ's image. Problem number one is that salvation is not only forgiveness. Salvation is sanctification.

How is the concept of "free" will relevant to this conversation? Well, an argument for free will is basically such that predestination and foreknowledge is not necessary in the sense that it plays any part on, constrains, or influences individual agents' actions. The inconsistency of this concept itself is much too long to get into for this blog post, but my main beef with these two ideas/philosophies is that they CANNOT coexist. If man has a free will unconstrained by any outside force, he should have to ability to walk away from his salvation. Not only this, but how can God predestine people to be or necessarily foreknow that they will be conformed to Christ's image when they have a free will to choose whether or not they will be? And where do "lukewarm/carnal Christians" fit into that theology? To answer that first question honestly, you would have to say that He can't. There is no guarantee of anything if the human will is truly free. The second question poses a truly scriptural problem in that it directly contradicts it. James says that faith without works is dead. Lukewarm/carnal Christians do not have works. Jesus said in John that they will know someone is his disciple if he loves others. Lukewarm/carnal Christians do not love others. Paul says in several of his epistles that Christians were to or have put off the old self/nature/man, and put on the new man. Lukewarm/carnal Christians retain the old man. God in Revelation says that he will vomit out the lukewarm "Christian," implying that either the lukewarm Christian can lose his salvation, or more likely "they went out from us, but they were not of us" (1 John 2:19).

It seems to me that the belief in Eternal Security is astoundingly inconsistent. As a Calvinist, I by no means believe that someone can lose their salvation, but I do not believe it for the same reasons or in the same way as the proponent of Eternal Security. I believe in the perseverance or the saints. I believe that those who persevere to the end are the same ones who truly believed. I believe that those who give up their salvation never truly had it- and I've devoted two blog posts to attempt to prove this. The perseverance is the conformity to Christ's image mentioned in Romans 8:28-29. Also, I do not believe that there is anyway that "free" will and the concept of Eternal Security could coexist. Either the will is determined by God or it is determined by some outside force such as destiny. There is no getting around what will inevitably happen in a deterministic universe such as this one. My point is this: to say that it is impossible to lose or even give away salvation is equal to saying that man has no free will.

In short, while we cannot lose our salvation, neither can we become lukewarm, carnal Christians. Let us run with endurance, persevering to the end of this race that has been set before us, looking to Christ, who is the founder and perfecter of our faith.

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