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Nicene Nerd

Eternal Security, Re-re-revisited

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So, let's try another debate on eternal security for the fun of it, if anyone is here and willing to try. I will be advocating against it this time, without specifying which side I agree with.

First, let's sketch the basic views:

Eternal Security Views

  • Perseverance of the saints - In this form of eternal security, God preserves every believer by the Holy Spirit so that they will never fall away from the faith.
  • Decisional security (once saved, always saved) - In this form of eternal security, a single momentary decision or prayer of faith guarantees eternal salvation even if followed up by radical unfaithfulness and apostasy. God may not preserve anyone's faith, but as long as they had even a moment of faith they will be saved.

Conditional Security Views

  • Reformed conditional security - Salvation is guaranteed and assured in Christ, but it is possible for someone to resist and quench the Spirit until they completely and finally lose faith, at which point they are lost forever and can never find repentance and faith again.
  • Wesleyan conditional security - People can fall away and come back to Christ many times of the course of life, with salvation being lost and regained with every departure and return.

I will be arguing for Reformed conditional security in this thread as the most straightforward reading of Biblical teaching. I am welcome to discussing this against any of the other views represented by anyone else.

I apologize for not including any Catholic or Orthodox views, but I am not sufficiently familiar with them. If anyone would like to add them, feel free. I am also uncertain where the Lutheran view properly falls.

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Well lemme take a stab at this :P

Of these listings, the one I feel I align with the most faithfully would be the Wesleyan Conditional Security. It is your choice whether or not to choose God and if you suddenly decide to turn away from God, you are not saved anymore. Your virtues and marks from the Sacraments go dormant and will only work again if you return to the faith. You are not just saved forever because you were baptized, you have to believe for the entirety of the time. Actually, it seems it would be far worse to accept and then DENY God then to never accept Him in the first place.

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2 hours ago, Jesusismyticket said:

Well lemme take a stab at this :P

Of these listings, the one I feel I align with the most faithfully would be the Wesleyan Conditional Security. It is your choice whether or not to choose God and if you suddenly decide to turn away from God, you are not saved anymore. Your virtues and marks from the Sacraments go dormant and will only work again if you return to the faith. You are not just saved forever because you were baptized, you have to believe for the entirety of the time. Actually, it seems it would be far worse to accept and then DENY God then to never accept Him in the first place.

 

My question against this kind of view is primarily why we would think that this repeated cycle of salvation and loss of salvation makes sense in light of what the NT says about apostasy. Take Hebrews 6:4-6 for one example:

Quote

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 

 

Many other passages give this same impression of apostasy as a one-way deal. I don't mean people who simply slack off or get away from the faith for a bit, but people who actually and intentionally renounce Christianity. Can they actually be restored?

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I have a question about Reformed conditional security.  Is there a technical definition for "lost forever"? 

Assume that the below statements are true descriptions of a person's salvation from the speaker's perspective.

Suppose that a Wesleyan conditional security adherent said, "Person A believed, then fell away and lost salvation.  They have returned and are saved again." Would a Reformed conditional security adherent say they were always secure because the were able to come back?

Suppose that a Wesleyan adherent said, "Person B believed, then fell away and lost salvation.  They have died, unsaved."  How would a Reformed adherent react?  Is the Wesleyan criteria for losing salvation necessarily easier to fall into than the Reformed criteria, given that in the Wesleyan model, people can return to salvation?

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19 minutes ago, delaMancha said:

I have a question about Reformed conditional security.  Is there a technical definition for "lost forever"? 

Assume that the below statements are true descriptions of a person's salvation from the speaker's perspective.

Suppose that a Wesleyan conditional security adherent said, "Person A believed, then fell away and lost salvation.  They have returned and are saved again." Would a Reformed conditional security adherent say they were always secure because the were able to come back?

Suppose that a Wesleyan adherent said, "Person B believed, then fell away and lost salvation.  They have died, unsaved."  How would a Reformed adherent react?  Is the Wesleyan criteria for losing salvation necessarily easier to fall into than the Reformed criteria, given that in the Wesleyan model, people can return to salvation?

 

In the Reformed view of conditional security, the point is that someone who has truly believed can potentially abandon and repudiate the faith, but that this will only result as part of a quite defiant wrestling against the Holy Spirit, and it will leave the new life created in them dead, so that they are at this point worse off than they ever were before. After this true repentance and faith will be impossible, and thus they can never find union with Christ and salvation again.

Generally, if someone returns to the faith like person A, it would probably be assumed that their apostasy was never total, that their faith was never deeply abolished and the Spirit never quite let them go. Then for person B, they would probably agree with the assessment.

The Wesleyan tradition, as I understand it, is not uniform on what exactly it takes for someone to lose their salvation. In the Reformed conditional view, it takes full apostasy, an abandonment of Christ and the faith altogether, but in Wesleyan tradition the lines are less clear, and some would go so far as to say that salvation is lost with every willfull sin.

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Thanks, that's very interesting.  I grew up Catholic, and at least up to confirmation, I wasn't exposed to any concepts similar to eternal or conditional security.  (Though they may exist at a more academic level.)  The emphasis was on the separation that sin, especially mortal sin, creates between a person and God.  The separation can be total, resulting in damnation in the case where someone dies with an unforgiven mortal sin.  However, forgiveness is readily available for a repentant sinner, and being saved is less of a binary state of being and more of a continuum of nearness and separation.

Edited by delaMancha

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