Eternal Security

4 Views on Eternal Security

4 Views on Eternal Security

I read the book called 4 Views on Eternal Security. Each author presented his position and then the other authors responded to it. There were 4 positions: Classical Calvinism, Moderate Calvinism, Reformed Arminianism, and Weslyan Arminianism.

1) Classical Calvinism: This position attempted to address the question of eternal security through the frame work of Covenant Theology. It presupposes the existence of three covenants that are not stated in scripture: the Covenant of Redemption, the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. The author takes a strong interpretation of TULIP and relies heavily on Rom. 8:29-30, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Therefore, “there is unconditional election, irresistable grace, and the necessary perseverance of the saints.” (pg. 143) How do you then interpret passages that suggest one can lose their salvation? The author says those passages must be taken seriously but that they do not apply to the elect. They apply to people who are participating in the covenant community and its blessings but are not really members of the covenant (e.g. someone who is raised in the church but not really a believing member).

2) Moderate Calvinism: This author attempeted to address the question of eternal security by having a moderate (modified) interpratation of TULIP (or perhaps one point Calvinsim). God saves but humans need to accept the gift of salvation through faith. The author argued that strong Calvinism can offer security to the elect (if they persevere until the end) but no assurance that they are saved. Arminianism offers assurance that you are saved but no security since you can lose your salvation by sinning. Moderate Calvinism offers both security and assurance. Once saved, always saved. The author argued that salvation is of God and salvation is an eternal gift. So once someone receives the gift it can not be taken back or given back. And because our salvation is from God we can be sure that God is always faithful even when we are not. The author resolves scriptures that suggest a believer can lose salvation in one of two ways: 1) The person was a professing but not possessing believer, and 2) true believers “losing rewards (fellowship, maturity, or physical life)” but not salvation.

3) Reformed Arminianism: This view answered the question of eternal security from a Reformed Arminian viewpoint. It was noted that Arminius considered himself to be Reformed. The author interpreted passages about God offering salvation to all, to the whole world, in a literal sense. Salvation is really available to anyone. But salvation is conditional not unconditional as in Calvinism. People must respond to the gospel message with faith. The author then argued with many supporting passages that we must remain/abide in Christ. It is only by continuing to believe and trust in Jesus in faith that we have salvation and assurance. The author says, “…all of  the benefits of salvation are ours solely by means of our being in Christ Jesus.” (p.g. 156) The author then argues that warning passages in the scriptures about falling away or turning away from the faith should be taken at face value and seriously. Apostasy is possible. “If it is possible for one who was truly saved ever to reach the point where he or she is no longer in Christ, then the benefits of salvation are forfeited at that point as well.” (pg. 156) The author makes a distinction between “backsliders” and “apostasy.” Backsliders are believers who sin but have not lost salvation. A believer that chooses to renounce their faith in Christ and no longer abide in him commits apostasy and it is irremedial.

4) Weslyan Arminianism: This view was rooted in Weslyanism. John Wesly apparently developed his theology from a wide variety of sources and influences. He took what he thought was the best of them and crafted something new out of it.  Whereas the other views held to a penal substitution theory of atonement, Wesly formulated his theory of atonement based on the moral influence theory, the penal substitution theory, the ransom theory. The author said that Wesly did not adhere to the governmental theory but that later Weslyian theologians did. Salvation is available to all but people must respond in faith in Christ to have it. A believer can sin after conversion, but it does not necessarily lead to a loss of salvation according to the author. However, continual unconfessed sin can lead to a loss of salvation. “The loss of salvation is much more related to experiences that are profound and prolonged. Wesley saw two primary pathways that could result in a permanent fall from grace: unconfessed sin and the actual expression of apostasy.” (p.g. 239) A person can be restored to faith for backsliding but not apostasy; backsliding could lead to apostasy.


I think these summaries are fair but certaintly not complete. I think the two most logically consistent views were the Classical Calvinism and the Reformed Arminianism views. I think I side with the Reformed Arminian view more since I don’t agree with the tenents of Calvinism. Of course this discussion of Eternal Security raises other questions: What is the relationship to Predestination and Free Will? What is the correct theory of atonement, penal substitution theory or governmental theory or one of the others?


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