Saturday, May 9, 2009

Can Arminians hold to Eternal Security?

Steve Hays recently pointed out that I believe in Eternal Security and most other people that call themselves Arminians1 don’t. (link) In fact, for many that call themselves Arminians, this question is near and dear to their heart. This isn't a "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" issue; questions about security are intensely practical and personal. Looking into “warning passages” may have been what lead them to Arminianism in the first place. They might even view ES as a dangerous doctrine or a license to sin. I can relate, but my journey lead me to a different view of security. Of the two forces binding us to God, love and fear, I find love the strongest.

I didn't come by this lightly. I grew up Baptist and was taught ES as a child, but in high school I was so jolted to read the Hebrews warning passages that I questioned a great deal of what I had been taught. Through careful examination and study, I came back to believing Eternal Security is scriptural.

Can Arminians hold to Eternal Security? Sure! Arminius himself left the question open, as did the Remonstrants. Here’s the fifth article of the Remonstrants:

ART. V. That those who an incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his lifegiving spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand; and if only they are ready for the conflict. and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ's hands, according to the word of Christ, John x. 28: "Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." But whether they are capable. through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds.

Articles of the Remonstrants (link)

Since they left the question unanswered, Arminians fall on both sides of the fence today.
So what do I believe? Perseverance is necessary for salvation. God preserves His people through middle knowledge, such that we can, but will not fall away. God, knowing how we would choose in various circumstances, puts us only in those circumstances that keep us in the faith. Breaking the Law of Moses could never cause us to lose our salvation, but unbelief could. But God keeps us from unbelief.

God willing, I will explain my views a bit more in the next few posts.

1I say "call themselves Arminians" because a large number of Baptists are Arminians who hold to eternal security. Oddly enough one of the reasons they but don't call themselves Arminians because they equate Arminianism to falling from grace.


The Seeking Disciple said...

I look forward to this. I myself don't hold to eternal security and would be interested in seeing your position. Have a wonderful day brother!

Odeliya said...

I do hold to ES as well.

Looking forward to your view, too. You probably will explain it excellently, as you do everything else, but will provide extra points (in unlikely event that you miss something :)

Robert said...

Hello Odeliya,

You wrote:

“I do hold to ES as well.”

As do I. I am leery of any theological systems that are manmade, so of course I reject things like Calvinism. I want my conclusions to be based on the bible as best that they can be. That being so, the bible teaches that God chooses those who trust Him to be His people (i.e., **conditional** election), that God’s grace can (and sadly) is resisted by both nonbelievers as well as believers (how are we “grieving the Spirit” unless we are resisting God’s grace at times?) and that those who become His people will not lose their salvation, though they may lose their rewards (cf. Moses the great leader of Israel was himself excluded from entering the promised land due to his sin, but would any suggest he had lost his salvation?) or even lose their lives due to sin (cf. the “sin unto death”, the Corinthians for example who were “asleep” due to their sin). It was interesting that Arminius himself did not take a firm position on ES before his death, but said it ought to be studied more fully. Well speaking for myself, my study persuades me that ES is true.

“Looking forward to your view, too. You probably will explain it excellently, as you do everything else, but will provide extra points (in unlikely event that you miss something :)”

Dan’s view will, I am guessing, involve middle knowledge and be similar to William Craig’s view on ES. We’ll see, it should be interesting.


Godismyjudge said...

Thanks Roy. It's an aquard subject for me, because I suspect a great number of Arminians will disagree.

God be with you,

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Odeliya & Robert,

Glad you both hold to ES as well.

God be with you,

Wesley Wong said...

Yeah, Arminians can.
:) But we Wesleyan Arminians do not.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Wesley,

Very witty and accurate. I am not aware of any Wesleyan Arminians who held to ES.

God be with you,

Odeliya said...

Robert,i hear you:

I reject things like Calvinism.
Lord knows, i tried to see Calv. position with an open mind, and honestly gave it real benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe its because of my theological past( Judaism firmly asserts Free Will), i was preconditioned to believe FW, etc.. But i just dont see how the problem of evil and Good God can be reconciled in calvinist thought.

though they may lose their rewardsLosing rewards on Earth i understand but the concept of losing them in heaven I dont get at this point,just dont understand it; even i know people that believe it.

Anonymous said...

My view of eternal security is this: We cannot lose, nor will God ever take away, our salvation; regardless of how horribly we fail. What God will not do is FORCE someone to remain saved who does want to be. In other words, salvation is a free gift, but I can choose to return it. I too believe God does everything He possibly can to move us away from apostasy, but at the end of the day, we still have that God-given right to say no to Him. No sin has ever damned the soul of a Christian other than unbelief. We then, are eternally secure IN HIM, and nowhere else. If we choose to believe in Him and stay with Him, we will never perish.

Godismyjudge said...

Thanks for the comment. The key issue, it seems is if God can use His foreknowledge to prevent things or not. If so, He can prevent apostacy. If not, He can't.

God be with you,

DonaldH said...

Since I'm combing thru this blog again, I'm interacting with some of the posts (yes, I'm a Cowboys fan too!) that I really like and ran across this one. I do hold to ES, but not the Tony Evans sort, that God will bring you to heaven kicking and screaming (irresistible grace from Tony' tulip?). If you know William Lane Craig's view on ES, that's where I have sharpened mine view from scripture.

Godismyjudge said...

Hey Donald,

Nice. Seems like we share a lot of the same views. I agree on God not taking us to heaven kicking and screaming and I also like WLC's views on this. Here's an atricle by Shandon Guthrie who seems to share this view:

That's cool that your a Cowboys fan. I have been since I was a little kid and now I am having fun getting my kids into it.

God be with you,

DonaldH said...


Thanks man. I enjoyed the link. I'm really influenced by WLC, and I ended up being a Cowboy fan by default. Originally a L.A. Rams fan, and my loyalty left when they left L.A., but I've cheered for the Boys in every Superbowl, and playoff game since high school (76-80). I've been an actual fan since Jerry took over believe it or not.

Godismyjudge said...

Jerry has his strenghts, but drafting isn't one of them. We pick the wrong guys then end up overpaying in free agency for guys like Roy Williams and Lenord Davis. We really need to get it right in this years draft!

God be with you,

Gary said...

You don't have to be a five-pointer to be a Calvinist. If you believe in "Once Saved, Always Saved" you are still a "Calvinistic Baptist". This false teaching is sending a lot of Baptists and evangelicals to hell due to a false sense of assurance.

The Back-Slidden Baptist's Salvation Check List:

Just as there are many orthodox Christians, including Lutherans, who, to their eternal damnation, rely on their infant Baptism as their "Get-into-heaven Free Card" as admission into heaven, I believe that there are many Baptists and evangelicals who rely on their one time "Decision for Christ" as their automatic ticket into heaven.

Just to be clear, I am sure that there are many, many Baptists and evangelicals who are much better Christians than I am. As Paul, I am the first among sinners. But I believe that the teaching of Decision Theology accompanied with the horrific teaching of "Once Saved, Always Saved", has damned just as many Baptists and evangelicals to hell as "Once Baptized, Always Saved" has damned many poorly catechized orthodox Christians.

I was taught growing up fundamentalist Baptist that a born-again Christian who stops going to church, reading the Bible, praying, etc. is a "back-slider". He has back-slidden into sin.

So let's review the "Back-Slidden" Baptist's and (Baptistic) Evangelical's Salvation Check-list:

1. Have I attended church in the last twenty years: No.
2. Have I partaken of the Lord's Supper in the last twenty years: No.
3. Have I read my Bible in the last twenty years: No.
4. Have I prayed (other than, "Lord please help me win the Powerball!") in the last twenty years? No.
5. Have I shared the Gospel with a non-believer in the last twenty years. No.
6. Did I pray the Sinner's Prayer twenty-one years ago in a Baptist altar call. Yes.

Conclusion: SAVED!

Now, if you present this to a Baptist or evangelical of the Baptist persuasion, he or she will say that the person above was never saved. That is why we do not see any "fruit of the Spirit".

They have a much harder time, however, using that explanation when the "back-slider" is a prominent conservative Baptist or evangelical pastor or evangelist who has "won many souls to Christ" and has preached great moving sermons for years. "How could the person who led me to Christ have been a non-believer??" Situations such as these really rattle these "Once Saved, Always Saved" Christians.

Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
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