Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Files: Davis - The Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine

John Davis’ article "The Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine" outlines the thought around perseverance and assurance through certain key theologians and churches through the history of the Christianity.
Davis starts with Augustine who held that not everyone who is regenerated and justified receives the gift of final perseverance and a person cannot know if they will preserver until the end. Aquinas held a similar view to Augustine. Luther held a similar view as well, but he added that while a person cannot know if they will preserver until the end, they may know that the are currently saved.

Calvin’s view was quite different than Augustine, Aquinas and Luther. The elect alone are regenerated and justified and they will preserver until the end. Not only can a person know they are currently saved, but they can also know they will preserver until the end. Further, perseverance is not only grounded in God’s eternal election, but also the nature of regeneration. The Roman Catholic church taught that true believers can fall away and a person cannot know if they will persevere until the end.

The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England taught the elect will preserver, but they were somewhat ambiguous on whether a person can know that they are elect. The Lambeth articles however, taught that all true believers will preserver and people can know that they will preserver until the end.

Arminius held election is conditional rather than unconditional and questioned if true believers fall away or not, but did not take a firm stance on the issue. This indecision was reflected in the five points of the remonstrants as well. In response, the cannons of Dort said that all true believers will preserver and people can know that they will preserver until the end. The Westminster assembly followed Dort in this.

John Wesley followed Arminius in holding election is conditional rather than unconditional, but added that that true believers can and do fall away.

The New Hampshire Baptist Convention held that all true believers will preserver until the end, but FreeWill Baptist held that true believers can fall away. The 1925 Statement of Baptist Faith and Message says all true believers will not fall away.

Dispensationalists Chafer and Scofield taught that some warning passages, such as Mathew 24:13 and Hebrews 6:4-6 pertained to the old covenant, not the new covenant. G. C. Berkouwer wrote the most comprehensive monograph in recent years from a Calvinistic perspective, while Shank, Marshall and Moody wrote works from the perspective that salvation can be lost.

1 comment:

#John1453 said...

"preserver"?, perhaps you meant "persevere.