Arminian v Calvinist part 2
Okay, so that was something of a caricature of a debate between and Arminian and a Calvinist. But often debates on the soteriology do form along those lines. Both sides quote verses as if the other side is going to say:
Oh wow, man. I never read that verse before. I guess you guys who believe in perseverance/ possibility of loss of salvation must be right.
Even where more sophisticated exegesis is presented, the results of such debate is predictable. The Calvinist produces all the verses that demonstrate the eteranal security of the believer, while the Arminian produces all the verses that imply loss of salvation.
Both sides have a problem. The Arminian has to deal with a lot of passages that strongly affirm the eteranal security of the believer. If she wants to stand in the Reformation tradition, she also has to reconcile her rejection of eternal security with the doctrine of justification.
The Calvinist may have strong support for eternal security. Hwoever, she has to deal with a mass of warnings about judgment. She has to convince her opponent that these warnings are directed at false professors and not true believers. Even if she succeeds in this she risks the danger of removing the assurance that one is a true believer.
The Calvinist has a further problem in that the weight of history rejects her position.
The early church fathers rejected perseverance. Augustine, the most popular of them amongst Calvinists believed in a sort of perseverance, but he held that true born-again Christians could still be lost (if they were not among the elect). The Roman Catholic church has always rejected perseverance, as has the Eastern Orthodox church. The Anabaptist tradition for the most part rejects it. The Arminians, the Wesleyans and most Pentecostals reject it. All of the pseudo-Christian cults that claim to follow the Bible reject it.
Now it may be that the mass of these people may have been unregenerate. No doubt the majority of them were. However, with the exception of the cultists, they were able to pick up their Bibles and see in them the doctrine of the Trinity. If the Bible so clearly teaches eternal security, why have so many missed it, while still holding to much that is true? Why is it only Reformed, Baptists and some Anglicans (occupying only a fraction of church history) have held to eternal security and perserverance?
For those of us who hold to Free Grace/ Overcomer teaching, this is not so much of a problem. The Bible contains many warnings to regenerate persons. Not warnings of eternal punishment, but warnings of judgment, chastening, premature death, loss of rewards, loss of kingdom inheritance and perhaps exclusion from the millennium (more debateable than the others). It is easy for the careless exegete or the false teacher to twist those warnings into warnings of everlasting punishment.
The goal of consistent Free Grace theology is too synthesize the precious truth of eternal security with the stark reality of judgment upon believers who do not yield their lives in submission and faithful discipleship to Christ.