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.