A Commentary on Article Nine:
The Security of the Believer, of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan for Salvation”

August 3, 2012

By Johnathan Pritchett

 


Article 9: The Security of the Believer

We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.

John 10:28-29; 14:1-4; 16:12-14; Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26; 8:29,30; 35-39; 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19; 3:2; 5:13-15; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 13:5; James 1:12; Jude 24-25

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When it comes to the security of the believer, it is important to frame the doctrine properly from the outset. The doctrine of the believer’s security in the Traditionalist understanding is not a borrowed doctrine from the Reformed understanding of Perseverance of the Saints, which can unfortunately devolve into works-based security. Nor is it simply a way of saying “once saved always saved” because the phrase preaches well in Southern Baptist circles and is, unfortunately, often confused with “cheap grace” or “easy believism”. The doctrine, as the subject heading to the article states, is regarding the issue of security. Rightly speaking, the doctrine pertains to only those who are believers. Most importantly though, as the article states in the affirmation, the security of the believer is quite properly classified as promise-based security.

This doctrine under discussion generally tends to be the unfortunate victim of gratuitous qualifiers. These qualifiers include phrases such as “true believers”, “real believers”, “genuine believers” and so forth. However, in terms of people and belief, the Bible basically has three categories. There are believers, non-believers, and believers-in-vain (1 Corinthians 15:2 for instance, or James’ clever way of putting it in James 2:19 of people with the same kind of faith as demons). What this article addresses concerns only believers, and the security in which they possess as believers. Those who believe in vain, and obviously non-believers, have no such security. As such, when this presentation uses the term ‘believers’, it does so without the gratuitous qualifications to the term.

As the affirmation states, when people respond to the grace and calling extended to them through the Gospel by faith, they are immediately justified by God. This declaration of righteousness in the present is vindicated at the final judgment because of the work of God in the life of the believer through sanctification, and is finally consummated in the glorification of the believer. The Holy Spirit regenerates and indwells the believer, and works in the life of the believer to complete the process of redemption from beginning to end, continually pointing the believer to Christ, the object of the Christian faith.

The cited texts above clearly state these assurances and promises to the believer, and part of what it means to be a believer in the Triune God is to believe the promises made in His word. Such promises are not for the benefit of either unbelievers or believers-in-vain. The work of the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification continually affirms these promises in the lives of believers. How sanctification plays out temporally will ultimately differ from individual to individual, but the believers will always have such confirmations of the Holy Spirit, even in times of trial and doubt.

The article denies that the seal of the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption can be broken for the believer. Those who object to the Traditionalist view of the security of the believer do so on the grounds of the Traditionalists’ affirmation of libertarian free will. The objections assume that since one may freely respond to the grace of God at one point, such a person may also freely reject it later. There are two points to be made regarding this objection.

The first point is that those who reject a libertarian view tend to give free will more power than those who affirm it. The second point to be made is that it misunderstands both the nature of free will as the libertarian understands it, and how this interacts with the work of God in the life of the believer. The transformation that occurs to the believer by the power of God creates in the believer a new heart and mind bent towards the Triune God. The power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer rightly causes the believer to continually believe Jesus. God is doing a work in the believer that is renewing and transforming. This obviously has an effect on the one with the Holy Spirit residing within. As such, a believer lives and prays according to what the Teacher they believe in teaches.

The prayer of the believer is not for the believer’s ‘free will’ to be done, but for His will to be done. Those who believe in vain, and non-believers, do not pray such prayers or live according to the pattern expressed in Scripture since the Holy Spirit in not in such people to enable them to do so.  To be a believer in Christ is to be a believer in God’s Word, part of which contains the promises of security. It is the believer who “surrenders all” to the Triune God, not one who surrenders some. Moreover, libertarianism is the best explanation of why a believer still commits sin after having been regenerated. Why would a God who predestined a people to be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:5) meticulously predetermine such people to continue to sin after having been born again? Texts such as 1 Corinthians 10:13 make absolutely no sense if it were determined prior that the believer not take the way of escape. In fact, on any other view, the way of escape seems superfluous at best, and disingenuous at worst, if it were not a genuine avenue for the believer to take. Quite simply, libertarian freedom is not a problem for the Traditionalist understanding of the security of the believer, and is in fact a solution to many of the problems other views of providence have regarding sanctification in general.

The article also denies the possibility of apostasy. The point here is not to deny apostasy in general, but to deny the possibility of a believer committing apostasy. Again, this is an article regarding soteriology rather than ecclesiology and people associated with Christian congregations who eventually fall away (1 John 2:19). It pertains to believers, not to believers-in-vain. Hence, a justified saint can not ever “lose salvation”, or forfeit salvation because believers are saved and continually believe in God’s power to save them in Christ Jesus.

From the Traditionalist perspective, the believer obviously believes in God’s promises and God prevents apostasy because God has made promises that pertain to believers that they will enter into eternity with Him. This does not turn libertarianism into compatiblism however. This is because that      confuses a believing agent’s will being transformed and made “compatible” with the divine will for the believer to be saved and “compatiblism” proper, which is a view of providence. The latter is a different wheelhouse altogether.

In any case, believers are undeniably grateful for this gift of God’s grace. However, if the Traditionalist must tolerate understandings of libertarianism and how this operates in sanctification that they themselves do not hold, some considerations can still be made. The distinction between God’s eternal knowledge, and the temporal unfolding of history is not simply the purview of Reformed theology. The Traditionalist position gladly affirms that in eternity God knows who are His, and He knows those who will not be His. Thus, God delivers on His promises accordingly to those who are His. Even if there were a hypothetical logical possibility that a believer can fall away due to libertarianism, the Traditionalist can still reject the necessity of it, or the possibility of it actually happening in reality. This line of reasoning is found even among Reformed theologians regarding the inspiration of Scripture.

Liberal theologians often state that even though human authors are carried along by the Holy Spirit in authoring biblical texts, the humanity of the authors leaves open the possibility that they could err in transmitting the words of Scripture to the written media. Thus, liberal theologians reject inerrancy. However, this assumes that because they could err, it follows that they must have erred. This is a non-sequitur rightly recognized by all who affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. Likewise, even if the Traditionalist could concede a logical possibility that a believer can commit apostasy, which is, as stated above, not a necessary concession at all anyway, they can still rightly reject it as actually being a necessity that must or will occur in reality.

God is sovereign, and fully capable of delivering on His promises regardless of the freedom He has given His creatures. So while some Reformed theologians reject libertarianism because they somehow think that it would make the God of the universe unable to handle His own creation and accomplish His purposes; believers who affirm libertarianism simply and happily state that this God-given freedom we possess is absolutely no match for the infinity powerful, sovereign God and His ability to save us from beginning to end because of His promises to do so. That is our gigantic view of God. That God is this powerful and sovereign is why believers believe He has the power to save by grace through faith in Christ in the first place, even in times when believers may stumble into sin, doubt, or despair in their lifetime before glorification.

All of those objections are beside the point though. The Traditionalist position affirms biblical promises made to believers, and does not affirm, nor cares to entertain, hypothetical possibilities posited by objectors concerning a view of libertarianism and an understanding of sanctification that Traditionalists do not hold.

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Today’s Discussion Topic:
Article 9: The Security of the Believer
in “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist
Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation

A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” authored by Eric Hankins and others, has drawn strong interest in many social media and news outlets. The statement and the discussion of it have been accessed by over 45,000 persons over 90,000 times, totaling over 190,000 pageviews in SBC Today the last few weeks, and have evoked thousands of comments. At this point, over 800 persons have signed the document, including some key leaders from every level of Southern Baptist life. You can sign it also by following these directions.

To structure the discussion, we are focusing the comments on the affirmation and denial statement of one article of the statement at a time. Today’s discussion will address the Southern Baptist doctrines of grace in Article 9: The Security of the Believer. Keep in mind that each of the affirmations and denials in the articles complement each other, just as they do in the Together for the Gospel statement signed and/or affirmed by some Southern Baptist leaders who embrace Reformed views.

Please confine your comments to the article being discussed each day, not general comments about the statement. If you want to comment on other things, follow the links to other discussion threads:

Thank you for your comments on these important theological issues!

– The Editors of SBC Today


Click this link to see the full statement of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”
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A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Soteriology SBC Today.pdf
Discussion of Article 9: The Security of the Believer in “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

Note: As we discuss each article of the statement, today’s comments should focus on the affirmation and denial in Article 9. Please limit your comments here to Article 9.

Article 9: The Security of the Believer

We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.

John 10:28-29; 14:1-4; 16:12-14; Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26; 8:29,30; 35-39; 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19; 3:2; 5:13-15; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 13:5; James 1:12; Jude 24-25

 

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Jeremy Crowder

I find the term “Believers in vain” to be very interesting and promising as it is included here. A Pastor says one day “Jesus Saves” and later the Pastor quits and says he is now joining an Eastern religion or questions Christ’s divinity. Is this a possible “Believer in Vain”. I’d like to see some more info. into this term.

    bruce mercer

    how can one who sees the truth unsee the truth? i read about these incidents but if God begins the work in us it WILL be finished

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I simply used that language as a reference point since Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 15. I think it works better than “false belief”, “didn’t really believe to begin with”, didn’t have “TRUE faith”, etc.

    This language of Paul actually reflects reality better as well. This is because when you ask apostates and even ask other believers of apostates, you usually hear that they “did really, really, really, really believe it” even though they since stopped.

    James refers to these people as having the faith of demons. I guess that would have worked too. :)

Mike Davis

From the Traditionalist perspective, the believer obviously believes in God’s promises and God prevents apostasy because God has made promises that pertain to believers that they will enter into eternity with Him.

Yes, it’s very comforting to know that God’s sovereignty overrides human will such that these promises are made and we can rely on them.

; believers who affirm libertarianism simply and happily state that this God-given freedom we possess is absolutely no match for the infinity powerful, sovereign God and His ability to save us from beginning to end because of His promises to do so. That is our gigantic view of God.

Yes, our will is no match for God’s irresistible grace.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    God’s keeping promises has absolutely nothing to do with determinism or irresistible grace. Great to see the point missed entirely though.

      Mike Davis

      No, I didn’t miss the point. But neither did I miss the argument you made.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Of course you did, which is why you took the quote out of context and responded as you did.

          Mike Davis

          Nope, I quoted you in context. I just took the narrow focus of your argument and applied it consistently. God didn’t just become sovereign the day we got saved.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I agree. God is and always has been sovereign.

            That has as much to do with the issue of free will and determinism as the price of tea in China does.

            Freedom is no match for God’s sovereignty, because it is completely unrelated to sovereignty and God’s promises to save from beginning to end those who believe in Jesus. ;)

            Sovereignty has to do with authority and position of rulership. Since no one is God’s boss, and no one is above or beside Him, God is absolutely and maximally sovereign.

            Free will and determinism, in theology anyway, has to do with views of providence and how the universe works in relation to God’s image bearers.

            Mike Davis

            That has as much to do with the issue of free will and determinism as the price of tea in China does.

            Well, God is sovereign over all of these.

            Freedom is no match for God’s sovereignty, because it is completely unrelated to sovereignty…

            Uh, freedom is unrelated to sovereignty? Does that mean you think the Declaration of Independence was superfluous?

            … and God’s promises to save from beginning to end those who believe in Jesus. ;)

            For God’s promises to be binding He must have the authority and power to overcome any volition that is opposed to the fulfillment of those promises. This is precisely what puts Traditionalists in such a tough position on eternal security.

            Sovereignty has to do with authority and position of rulership. Since no one is God’s boss, and no one is above or beside Him, God is absolutely and maximally sovereign.

            But it is more that simple authority. It is the power to bring about what one desires to accomplish. This is what the centurion in Luke 7: 1-10 understood and that is why the Lord commended him.

            Mike Davis

            … and God’s promises to save from beginning to end those who believe in Jesus. ;)

            I apparently did not close the tag to put that quote in italics in the previous comment. Sorry for the inadvertent error.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Well, God is sovereign over all of these.”

            Sure, in the sense that God is sovereign over everything. But that isn’t a meaningful statement as to whether the universe is libertarian or deterministic in relation to God’s image bearers.

            “Uh, freedom is unrelated to sovereignty? Does that mean you think the Declaration of Independence was superfluous?”

            Categorical error, and equivocating the kind of freedom we are talking about. Even Mills made this kind of distinction you have failed to make.

            “For God’s promises to be binding He must have the authority and power to overcome any volition that is opposed to the fulfillment of those promises.”

            True, again, in a general sense like saying “God is sovereign over these tings”. But it isn’t an answer that has much meaning regarding the topic. This assumes that apostasy is merely a matter of volition, and it assumes that God’s elect is actively willing themselves to commit apostasy. It isn’t simply a matter of God’s power and authority over volition. I have no problem with God having power and authority of the volition of libertarian creatures, but isn’t determinism. That is power and authority. It isn’t God’s power and authority exercised against the elect’s volition that is the primary factor which keeps the elect from omitting apostasy. Everything isn’t reducible to the will. We aren’t living in Schopenhauer’s world of will and representation.

            “This is precisely what puts Traditionalists in such a tough position on eternal security.”

            Not in the least. Only if we have to answer fallacious criticisms that include equivocation and categorical errors.

            “But it is more that simple authority. It is the power to bring about what one desires to accomplish. This is what the centurion in Luke 7: 1-10 understood and that is why the Lord commended him.”

            I agree completely, but that is a different issue than determinism. Sovereignty doesn’t entail determinism, whether it is in the category of divine sovereignty or a centurion’s sovereignty. There is nothing in the word sovereignty that entails or necessitates philosophical concepts like free will or determinism.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            In fact, these responses are what rightly gets Calvinists charged with double-speak and obfuscation.

            A shame we’re too clever for it. ;)

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I meant “Mill’s On Liberty”. See his introduction. Of course, Mill is as confused as Calvinists in this regard…but at least he can make the proper distinctions.

            Mike Davis

            Categorical error, and equivocating the kind of freedom we are talking about.

            Not really. I mean I agree one issue is doctrinal and the other concerns civil affairs, but the tie between sovereignty and freedom is the same. Had the Revolutionary War been lost, the Declaration of Independence would have been a mere protest. America had to prove it was sovereign.

            …This assumes that apostasy is merely a matter of volition,…

            Well, it assumes volition is a vital component. If you disagree with that, then we have two different definitions of eternal security. I am assuming you would not hold to a Zane Hodges view of eternal security.

            … and it assumes that God’s elect is actively willing themselves to commit apostasy.

            No, if one single true believer at one time in history were to commit apostasy we would have to be concerned about eternal security. God can promise that won’t happen because He is sovereign over human will.

            I have no problem with God having power and authority of the volition of libertarian creatures, but isn’t determinism.

            No, it’s compatibilism.

            In fact, these responses are what rightly gets Calvinists charged with double-speak and obfuscation.

            I had to smile that you brought up the double-speak mantra after insisting that God promises to accomplish something that He does not predetermine, and that He won’t impose His sovereignty on our will but will still guarantee the decision ultimately made by our will. Hmmm…

            Thanks for the interaction and the cordial discussion. Blessings.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Well, you are enlisting considerable prolific verbosity in your attempt to refute my arguments that you insist are not arguments. But I noticed your supply of assertions about lack of arguments failed to contain a rebuttal to my last two arguments. Now that’s fine, you certainly can ignore my points and instead make unsubstantiated repetitive claims that I haven’t made any points.”

            Nonsense, I have addressed everything you have written.

            “So here it is again. In distinguishing the compatibilism of eternal security from compatibility between marriage partners, I pointed out a couple of significant factors. There are some additional ones as well but I’m trying to keep the discussion focused so let’s stick with these two for now.

            I pointed out that one difference is that while one spouse can be devoted to the other and can seek to assist the other in sanctification, etc., they cannot promise that the other spouse will remain committed or even guarantee any particular response or behavior by the other partner. They can do things to influence a certain response, but cannot make assurances about what the other party will do or not do.”

            Again, misses the point. Thus, it is irrelevant.

            “Also, while one spouse may work harder at it than the other spouse, the continuation of the marriage depends on both, at least by assent if nothing else. And most would agree that practically speaking, considerably more than simple assent is required. What’s more, one spouse cannot do for the other the things the other is obligated to do. They can help with the heavy lifting and do things to facilitate a good marriage, but there is a limit to what one spouse can do to convince the other not to give up on the marriage, and it all goes back to the will.”

            Again, misses the point. I already distinguished that in a marriage, it is imperfect and finite, not infinite and perfect like God. What does that matter in the use of analogy that it isn’t a perfect analogy?

            The point remains. That point, again, being that a spouse can do such and such so that the other remains faithful without predetermining their actions from without. Nothing else you mention with the analogy matters since the analogy was to only demonstrate that point.

            You haven’t refuted that point yet.

            “But in the case of the believer’s eternal security, God makes the promise the saint will persevere, works in the very heart of the saint (a spouse cannot do this), transforms them, renews them, and assures them they will never commit a certain act–they will never apostatize. That is the difference.”

            Not as far as an analogy is concerned.

            “On this point it is not helpful to be diverted by theories on the relationship between the will and the mind, the will and desire vs. the will and decision, anthropological disputations supporting dichotomy or trichotomy, etc. although these issues would be germane to other types of discussion. The bottom line is that God makes promises concerning certain conclusions in the ultimate eternal decisions made by the believer, and He delivers on that promise. A spouse cannot do this.”

            Misses the point entirely. So it isn’t relevant.

            “The second point I made to demonstrate the incongruity of your analogy is one that also exposed a substantive weakness in one of the load-bearing walls of the argument you made in your original post. You can ignore it, but to do so while asserting that no arguments or rebuttals have been made to counter your claims is somewhat bewildering. You state in your original post that

            Moreover, libertarianism is the best explanation of why a believer still commits sin after having been regenerated.

            Libertarianism is the best explanation. The best. Reason #1. Not second-best, but the best. Good old free will. The glaring problem with that argument is that to be valid the capacity to sin must remain even in glory, throughout eternity.”

            With a transformed nature, there will be an absence of desire to sin, the hypothetical capacity issue is irrelevant. Nothing about this requires actions being predetermined.

            “Otherwise the transformation was simply a process, done in stages, that was ultimately completed. And this is, in fact, the case. The new creation has begun for the believer, and when Christ returns the believer will become perfect and stop sinning. The action of sin, the desire to sin, the choice to sin will all be gone. A spouse cannot do this for themselves, let alone for their partner. Thus, your position that libertairian free will provides the best explanation for why believers still sin would force the conclusion that in glory believers will lose the libertarian free will they retain today if in fact they retain it today.”

            Wow, what a total non-sequitur. Also, you pushed the analogy into eternity where it would be irrelevant to the issue considering we are talking about actions being predetermined from without and the difference between that and influences.

            “This notion not only restores all the tension in your argument, it increases it. You would be hard-pressed to argue that God’s control over human will was not in view when the believer’s sanctification is perfected at the return of Christ.”

            There is no tension here given the faulty notions that have no relevance. You keep confusing issues. This is about determinism and libertarianism.

            You are also confusing hypothetical possibilities with realities. For instance, the Bible says “God can not lie”. This is neither a logical impossibility for God, nor a statement about ability. God could easily tell a lie theoretically. The point isn’t that God lacks some ability to perform an action. The point is that God lacks the character deficiency to do so. It is about character, not ability or inability. There is nothing logically impossible for God to do, and it is possible for God to lie if we are talking about abilities. We aren’t. Neither is Scripture. The Bible’s point here is not about logical impossibilities, but actual possibilities. God can not lie because it is against His nature and character, and it isn’t because God lacks the ability to perform the actions. Theoretically, He could. In reality, God won’t. God can’t, because it is impossible for Him to do so because of His nature and character. There is a difference between that and ability to perform an action, theoretically or otherwise.

            Likewise, glorified free creatures need not have all their actions meticulously predetermined in order to refrain from sin in glory. There is no harm in the theoretical possibility that they sin, the only thing required is that they don’t, not that they can’t theoretically. Back to my original essay, while I don’t have to grant the point, I could grant the possibility that a believer in glory could sin without it ever being an actuality. In glory, believers won’t be lacking in character and nature to sin. The issue has nothing to do with ability or inability in some hypothetical, theoretical sense.

            “And since the process of the believer’s sanctification while awaiting Christ has perfection as its goal (Philippians 3: 11-12), it is untenable to assert God is not presently working out His will in the entire person of the believer (Philippians 2: 13), including in the will of the believer.”

            Not the issue. The issue is determinism versus libertarianism. The issue isn’t influences and relational actions. I made this point like five posts ago or something…

            “Now if you insist on claiming that is not compatibilism, that is your prerogative.”

            Well, it is also sound philosophy and properly using defined terms. But whatever…

            “I’m sure neither of us expected to change the other’s mind at the outset of this discussion. But I don’t have to counter the minutia of every single ersatz assertion you concoct just because we disagree.”

            I would like for you to counter at least one of my points on the grounds I made them as opposed to straw or neglect altogether because you ain’t got the chops for it…that would be nice given you still can’t seem to grasp what the discussion is even about, and what categories are involved.

            Cheers.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          “Not really. ”

          Yes really.

          “I mean I agree one issue is doctrinal and the other concerns civil affairs, but the tie between sovereignty and freedom is the same.”

          Not really. Being under the sovereignty of someone else does not entail that the actions of those under the sovereign are predetermined.

          “Had the Revolutionary War been lost, the Declaration of Independence would have been a mere protest. America had to prove it was sovereign.”

          Again, apples and cement.

          “Well, it assumes volition is a vital component. If you disagree with that, then we have two different definitions of eternal security. I am assuming you would not hold to a Zane Hodges view of eternal security.”

          Volition is not a vital part of repudiation. It is the carrying out the repudiation brought about by other factors (the heart, the mind, etc.).

          “No, if one single true believer at one time in history were to commit apostasy we would have to be concerned about eternal security.”

          Here again with the qualifiers…We have no need to be concerned since such has not nor will not happen.

          “God can promise that won’t happen because He is sovereign over human will.”

          God is “sovereign” over the human will in that what actions humans take are under His authority. The actions themselves are not causally determined by God (I know you agree and would state secondary causes, but I am stating that primary causation is at bottom required by determinism contra Reformed objections, but we can hash that out later).

          God influences the heart, and the mind, etc. so that His own people will not “will” to repudiate the person and work of Christ. These actions do not require meticulously and causally determining the actions of those who are His prior in eternity, when God’s wisdom, (fore)knowledge, and transformative power and influence can account for such actions. This is personal interactions and engagement, not philosophical determinism. But you say:

          “No, it’s compatibilism.”

          No, it isn’t. Compatiblism is determinism. So when I say that isn’t determininsm, it also entails that I mean that isn’t compatiblism either. I addressed this in my essay. Having our hearts, minds, will, etc. being made compatible with the divine will to save from beginning to end is not the same thing as compatiblism proper. Did you miss that? Again, a failure in making proper distinctions.

          “I had to smile that you brought up the double-speak mantra after insisting that God promises to accomplish something that He does not predetermine, and that He won’t impose His sovereignty on our will but will still guarantee the decision ultimately made by our will. Hmmm…”

          It is double-speak when intentional conflation and equivocation of terms and concepts is used in dialog.

          In any case, I NEVER once insisted that God promises to accomplish something He does not predetermine. I have never made that argument. God indeed has predetermined to save believers from beginning to end before the universe came into being, and recorded such promises in Scripture to be believed by believers (which is entailed in what it means to be believers).

          God’s predetermination to do something has nothing to do with philosophical determinism, nor necessitates it. Again, we must be careful of equivocation when using words and speaking on concepts.

          I also never said God wasn’t sovereign over our will. In fact insisted that He is sovereign over our will, as He is sovereign over all things.

          Sovereignty is not a synonym for philosophical determinism. Sadly, Calvinists treat the word as such. This use of the language “God is sovereign”, when it is only used to mean “the universe is deterministic” in arguments is folly at best, and idolatry at worst. This is because it gives language attributed to God as a smokescreen for talk about how the universe works philosophically (i.e. deterministically for God’s image bearers).

          Hence, when the one phrase is used to mean the other, it is giving the universe (a created thing) language that properly belongs to God (the Creator). That’s idolatry. So, best we not toss around phrases for God as nothing more than talk about the universe. As such, not only does sovereignty not entail determinism, it should cease to be associated as such by Calvinism since it is butchering language on the one hand, and can smack of idolatry of creation worship on the other. ;)

          To repent and follow Christ isn’t merely a decision of the will. The will carries out what the person decides to do. Wills aren’t identical to persons. (Titus 2:11-12, Philippians 2:13)

          Likewise, when God works everything after the decision of His will, He is working to bring about what He has decided and thus “wills” to be the case. Hence, the decision (or Council) of His will is not that the will of God decided something, but rather God decided something, and it is His will to work in everything to about those decisions He wills to be the case. (Eph. 1:12)

          So your phrasing doesn’t quite make sense, since our wills don’t ultimately decide anything. Again, we are not living in Schopenhauer’s world of will and representation where the mind is basically a passive observer of “unencumbered” and “volitional” biological interaction and that we must strive to reduce activity and increase reason as if the two are diametrically opposed to one another rather than intricately interrelated. We live in God’s universe where whole persons (souls) are created in the image of God.

          “Will” can be used in multiple ways. Persons decide things, not wills of persons in that use of the word “will”. I never said God doesn’t impose His sovereignty over persons (and by extension their wills), indeed He does.

          How you think this requires determinism to be the case is simply beyond me (especially regarding Ephesians 1:12, since God is present-tense working out everything He’s predestined and declared to be the case after what He wills. That is a far cry from meticulous determinism, as that would make such present active work unnecessary).

          We need to not equivocate the word “will” here anymore than we did with freedom, or we get into trouble in our attempt at conversing with one another. For example, “I will (or will not) eat the cake in front of me” does not mean the same as “I will to eat (or not eat) the cake in front of me”. The former being a statement of activity (and hence comprehends the ability to perform the activity) and the latter being a statement of the desires (so to speak) which have come about due to other factors within the person such as the “heart” or “mind”, etc.

          “Thanks for the interaction and the cordial discussion. Blessings.”

          You are welcome.

            Mike Davis

            Wow. Quite a long response.

            Being under the sovereignty of someone else does not entail that the actions of those under the sovereign are predetermined.

            In this specific comparison , I was talking about sovereignty and freedom.

            apples and cement.

            See previous answer.

            Volition is not a vital part of repudiation.

            Then you and I have different definitions for what repudiation or apostasy is.

            It is the carrying out the repudiation brought about by other factors (the heart, the mind, etc.).

            Huh?

            We have no need to be concerned since such has not nor will not happen.

            Correct, because God’s sovereignty overrides human will and He promises the believer is eternally secure.

            (… but we can hash that out later).

            Sure.

            Having our hearts, minds, will, etc. being made compatible with the divine will to save from beginning to end is not the same thing as compatiblism proper.

            If I were using your logic, I’d call that double-talk. But I’m not using your logic.

            Did you miss that?

            Nope, I caught it. That’s why we’re having this dialogue.

            God indeed has predetermined to save believers from beginning to end before the universe came into being, and recorded such promises in Scripture to be believed by believers (which is entailed in what it means to be believers).

            Glad we agree.

            So your phrasing doesn’t quite make sense, …

            Wouldn’t be the first time.

            …since our wills don’t ultimately decide anything.

            Wait a minute, whose side are you on, anyway?

            How you think this requires determinism to be the case is simply beyond me…

            I know.

            (Stipulating that you call it determinism and I call it compatibilism as you said previously).

            We need to not equivocate the word “will” here anymore than we did with freedom, or we get into trouble in our attempt at conversing with one another.

            You seem to be downplaying the role of human will, which is surprising in someone who holds to libertarian free will. It seems the way you resolve the issue of Traditionalists adopting a Calvinistic argument to defend eternal security is to say the will isn’t all that big a deal after one gets saved. You can certainly hold that opinion, but the fact remains that those who believe in eternal security and libertarian free will are holding two contrasting views in tension. At some point the one who believes in eternal security must admit that there is a limit to the “freedom” of the believer’s will, and that is a good thing, because it means the believer is eternally secure.

            Thanks again for the discussion. Blessings and grace to you.

            Mike Davis

            We have no need to be concerned since such has not nor will not happen.

            Sorry, I meant to put that quote in italics in my previous comment.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Wow. Quite a long response.”

            Sorry about that.

            “In this specific comparison , I was talking about sovereignty and freedom.”

            Still apples and cement in this context. One is a philosophical discussion, the other is a political one.

            “See previous answer.”

            And my previous response.

            “Then you and I have different definitions for what repudiation or apostasy is.”

            Repudiation and apostasy is a rejection of belief, allegiance, etc.

            “Huh?”

            What I said.

            “Correct, because God’s sovereignty overrides human will and He promises the believer is eternally secure.”

            In what way does this supposedly occur? It isn’t an overriding of the will. In what way is it necessary for God to do such a thing? All that is needed is for God to continue to reveal Himself, comfort, encourage, etc. the believer. Influence. This is an interaction of persons, not one “controlling” the actions of others via predetermining. them

            “Sure.”

            Alright.

            “If I were using your logic, I’d call that double-talk. But I’m not using your logic.”

            Not at all. My wife and I both continue to have the will to remain married because of our hearts, minds, etc. Our wills are (have been made) compatible that way, but that hasn’t the slightest thing to do with determinism. Apples and cement.

            “Nope, I caught it. That’s why we’re having this dialogue.”

            We are having this dialog because you facetiously went somewhere with my words that I never went myself with them.

            “Glad we agree.”

            Well, there is at least that then.

            “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

            And probably won’t be the last.

            “Wait a minute, whose side are you on, anyway?”

            What do you mean. Do you use your mind to think or your will?

            “I know

            (Stipulating that you call it determinism and I call it compatibilism as you said previously).”

            Compatiblism is determinism. All compatibilists are determinists.

            “You seem to be downplaying the role of human will, which is surprising in someone who holds to libertarian free will.”

            Not at all. As I stated, others just “upplay” the will even more than libertarians do. We aren’t “wills”, we are persons. You are being too reductionist, like atheists such as Schopenhauer.

            “It seems the way you resolve the issue of Traditionalists adopting a Calvinistic argument to defend eternal security is to say the will isn’t all that big a deal after one gets saved.”

            Wrong. My argument makes it clear how we adopt it. That argument was done well before you started quoting me out of context and being facetious with my words. That’s fair, as there was a little of me being facetious in those comments. ;) In any case, my arguments in my essay clearly do not rely on any Calvinist ways of thinking. Perhaps you need to start over from the beginning.

            “You can certainly hold that opinion, but the fact remains that those who believe in eternal security and libertarian free will are holding two contrasting views in tension.”

            Nope. You haven’t demonstrated this at all. The two aren’t contrasted or in tension. You have created a false one by mere assertion that has been defeated over and over again. Worse still is that you can’t even articulate this assertion in any meaningful way.

            “At some point the one who believes in eternal security must admit that there is a limit to the “freedom” of the believer’s will, and that is a good thing, because it means the believer is eternally secure.”

            The security has nothing to do with the will of the believer to “will himself” to stay believing. The believer is in relation to God. This is interaction, not manipulation or coercion. We are persons, not puppets (I know, you guys hate that). Even in times of doubt, there is a difference between the volitional acts of an agent being predetermined from without, and God working in a person in relation to Him to encourage, influence, comfort, etc. to convince such a person to be faithful. Again, those are two very different things. I don’t see where and why the former would even apply to the issue of security.

            It has to do with God’s promises and what God has done in believers’ lives that bring the believers’ goals into the same outcomes as God’s goals. That requires nothing of God predetermining, controlling, or overriding a person’s will.

            Not quite sure you are even clear on what the will is. God doesn’t predetermine our choices, God influences our hearts and minds and determines our options.

            Jonah is a good example. Jonah always willed to go in a different direction than Nineveh, but Jonah has no control over nature, other people’s will, and sea creatures. When Jonah finally did his job, it wasn’t because God controlled or predetermined Jonah or Jonah’s will to do it. Jonah never “willed” to do that job. Rather, we could say God broke his will, so Jonah did his job despite not wanting to do it. I can go for “overriding” our “will” in THAT sense.

            But that WASN’T the sense you were talking about because that isn’t the same thing as philosophical determinism which is what you are on about. With Jonah, that was merely the kind of persuasion we should NOT want from God. Jonah is a great example of free will and sovereignty (not determinism)…we can will what we want, and make it as hard on ourselves for God to get what He wants from us as we want to make it for ourselves. That is why submission to God matters.

            Sovereignty of God and submission of man to His authority. That has nothing whatever to do with determinism (or compatiblism, if you must). Of course, things didn’t end too well for Jonah. I aim to learn the lesson from Jonah that needs learning.

            “Thanks again for the discussion. Blessings and grace to you.”

            You are welcome.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            One more thing…kind of in the same arena as Jonah’s story.

            No person that holds to libertarian freedom that I know of rejects the idea that God doesn’t either allow us to go through trials and hardships or even puts us through them directly.

            God does what He does, and we do what we do. It is all under God’s authority and control, but God isn’t a puppeteer who predetermined and preprogramed our choices in spite of us and directly made them for us. He allows us the freedom to make our choices, He isn’t directly controlling us (OR via prior decree pre-scripted us) to make those choices we make for us and in spite of us as determinism requires it to be (oh please, oh please bring up Pharaoh or Joseph’s brothers…or Acts 4:27-28).

            What God did was decree that all things whatsoever comes to pass that He foreknew and wanted to come to pass does indeed come to pass. This doesn’t require determinism at all for God to accomplish His purposes, since nothing comes to pass that He wasn’t aware of coming to pass, and what does come to pass is either that He which desired to come to pass, or that He just accounted for coming to pass in order to bring about a greater good given that He foreknew things would come to pass He didn’t like (such as sin).

            All libertarians believe God influences our choices (we should hope and pray so for that to occur, which I believe it does), but that is interaction, not determinism.

            For the record, I DO believe that IF God wanted to create a deterministic universe, He could and would have done so, but it would be a much different universe than the one we experience. God simply didn’t create a deterministic universe.

            Despite all the evidence this universe is not deterministic in regards to God’s image bearers (I’m not talking about dust motes, dice, or whatever else), the burden is on the Calvinist to prove otherwise.

            This would require:

            1. Proper exegesis of Scripture.

            2. Proving that I couldn’t have done otherwise than to type this response, when I clearly could have decided not to do so.

            3. Proving there is moral accountability if actions are predetermined and people couldn’t have done otherwise (The Piper route of merely asserting that the universe is deterministic and we are morally accountable at the same time isn’t an argument)

            4. Proving that God can only be omniscient if His knowledge is eternally co-dependent on taking an action in eternity (to know is an attribute, to decree is to perform an action. Remember, in Calvinism, God’s decree is logically prior to His free knowledge, making God’s complete set of knowledge co-dependent on doing something…which, by the way, in my opinion, is a no-no and gives God a logical moment in eternity scarcely better than Open Theism).

            All the best…

            Mike Davis

            I’m afraid if anyone tries to follow this thread their eyes may glaze over. Nonetheless, we have both made our points and are starting to repeat ourselves. You pulled some additional topics into your last comment that were outside of our discussion, so maybe we can save those issues for another thread.

            Basically you seem to have a two-pronged argument that 1) we really aren’t so much volitional creatures after all , and 2) the compatibilism which you argue to support eternal security isn’t really compatilism.

            I have focused on the second point and believe I have demonstrated you are making a compatibilist argument, even though you don’t acknowledge it. That’s why it is taking you so many words to make your point; you are trying to talk around it while still making it. Not only have I demonstrated my argument, you have also demonstrated it if your words are read closely.

            As to 1), I think it is self-evident we are volitional creatures, though I find it ironic (and humorous) that it is the Calvinist who is arguing for the role of the will here and the Traditionalist who is downplaying it. Who’da thunk?

            I have enjoyed the discussion. Blessings.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “I’m afraid if anyone tries to follow this thread their eyes may glaze over. Nonetheless, we have both made our points and are starting to repeat ourselves.”

            And both of our eyes have probably glazed over as well. :)

            “You pulled some additional topics into your last comment that were outside of our discussion, so maybe we can save those issues for another thread.”

            It is all related, but sure.

            “Basically you seem to have a two-pronged argument that 1) we really aren’t so much volitional creatures after all ,”

            I’ve never made this argument. All I am saying that our volition is not the whole story, and I am saying our volitional acts are freely chosen.

            “and 2) the compatibilism which you argue to support eternal security isn’t really compatilism.”

            Yes and no. Depends on if we are talking compatiblism proper in the philosophical sense, or just talking about two persons being “compatible”. :) The former I reject obviously, but the latter I affirm. Which is good, since I have been married for almost twelve years now.

            “I have focused on the second point and believe I have demonstrated you are making a compatibilist argument, even though you don’t acknowledge it.”

            You have not demonstrated anything close to this. All you have done is redefined the terms, set the parameters you think are the only bounds for the discussion (apostasy is merely a matter of will and so forth), and declared victory.

            That doesn’t work. You need to start back with my original essay, and make your case on its terms. Refute its arguments.

            “That’s why it is taking you so many words to make your point; you are trying to talk around it while still making it. Not only have I demonstrated my argument, you have also demonstrated it if your words are read closely.”

            Wrong again. I am starting to think you don’t understand what determinism, compatiblism and libertarian free will is all about and what they each entail. If you understood them, then you’d not be declaring victory and admitting defeat. :)

            I already demonstrated that libertarianism is not a problem for eternal security, because it isn’t much related to the issue. Security doesn’t require determinism. God need not (pre)determine our volitional actions to
            save us from beginning to end. He only needs to save us from beginning to end and interact with us to ensure those ends.
            “As to 1), I think it is self-evident we are volitional creatures, though I find it ironic (and humorous) that it is the Calvinist who is arguing for the role of the will here and the Traditionalist who is downplaying it. Who’da thunk?”

            I not only believe that we are volitional creatures, but our volitional actions free, not determined. Do you agree with this now? You believe in libertarianism?

            In any case, you think decisions of persons are decisions of will. I think that our wills carry our the decisions of minds. Volition doesn’t think, consider, deliberate, etc. Minds do. Which is why making all this reducible to a matter of will is mostly straw and red herring.

            “I have enjoyed the discussion. Blessings.”

            Cheers!

            P.S. Learn the difference between two persons being compatible and compatiblism in the philosophical sense please. This conversation would have ended after your first response if you had understood that. ;)

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Also, if you do respond again Mike, please give me the same courtesy I have given you by actually responding to my arguments and challenges to you.

            You have left way to much unanswered and have omitted too much of my actual arguments (not your strawmen) to be blindly asserting some sort of victory on your part that I am arguing for something I’ve been refuting.

            That is just poor form, no offense.

            Mike Davis

            Jonathan,

            Well, I think we’re getting to the “is too/is not” stage, I think the audience has moved on, and I think I can hear Norm jangling the keys at the door.
            We should probably either wrap this up, or, if you want to keep discussing, maybe you could re-post at your blog and we could move the conversation over there.

            I would point out that it is not bad form to describe the condition of the beach without analyzing each grain of sand. This is a blog post, not a dissertation, after all. And you tend to bring up a lot of different issues in your reponses, while I’m trying to focus on the tension in your argument for eternal security.

            As an example, I’m going to show you just one of those grains of sand. On the one hand you assert,

            Volition is not a vital part of repudiation.

            But you also say,

            God influences the heart, and the mind, etc. so that His own people will not “will” to repudiate the person and work of Christ.

            Now, say what you want, but there is tension between those two statements. Just because I don’t type five paragraphs to point it out doesn’t mean it isn’t there or that I don’t “get” your definitions. Also, the second statement is simply compatibilism, even though you say it isn’t. And this is my point about the tension in your argument.

            Blessings.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Jonathan,”

            Mike…

            “Well, I think we’re getting to the “is too/is not” stage,”

            Not at all. You haven’t even done anything yet to demonstrate compatiblism (determinism) is required for eternal security to be maintained. Nor have you bothered to meet the criteria to demonstrate my criticisms of your contention are invalid.

            “I would point out that it is not bad form to describe the condition of the beach without analyzing each grain of sand.”

            Sure, until you must analyze each grain because your baseless assertions of the beach are invalid.

            “This is a blog post, not a dissertation, after all. And you tend to bring up a lot of different issues in your reponses, while I’m trying to focus on the tension in your argument for eternal security.”

            Except that there is no tension there. Only manufactured tension due to ill-conceived criticism on your part.

            “As an example, I’m going to show you just one of those grains of sand. On the one hand you assert,

            Volition is not a vital part of repudiation.”

            Volition carries out a repudiation. Volition doesn’t deliberate repudiating anything. Persons do.

            “But you also say,

            God influences the heart, and the mind, etc. so that His own people will not “will” to repudiate the person and work of Christ.

            Now, say what you want, but there is tension between those two statements.”

            Not at all.

            My wife influences and acts upon me in appropriate and positive, though finite and imperfect ways where I remain faithful without her needing to predetermine all my actions. If another human can do this, then why not God?

            How much more can God influence and act upon me in positive and appropriate, but also infinite and perfect ways to keep me faithful without predetermining all my actions?

            I’d say He does so perfectly. No determinism required. :)

            “Just because I don’t type five paragraphs to point it out doesn’t mean it isn’t there or that I don’t “get” your definitions.”

            No, it doesn’t. What you DO type demonstrates this.

            “Also, the second statement is simply compatibilism, even though you say it isn’t. And this is my point about the tension in your argument.”

            Wrong, compatiblism entails that my actions are predetermined by another agent that leads to all actions coming about by philosophical necessity.

            This is not required. That my wife can do things to keep me faithful and wanting to remain married to her without predetermining my actions demonstrates that we are compatible. That isn’t compatiblism proper (back to my original argument you’ve still failed to answer).

            You contention requires that God can’t do something appropriately, positively, and perfectly that even my wife can do imperfectly. That’s simply absurd.

            Unless and until you can not only refute my arguments on its own terms, and refute all the challenges I have presented to your contention (namely the five things required for determinism/compatiblism to be true), you have failed to do anything in this dialog to disprove my thesis, bolster your empty criticism, or prove your own.

            On the other hand, you have made this dialog needlessly long without even saying much in the way of being valid or meaningful. For that, I commend you.

            Cheers! :)

            Mike Davis

            “Well, I think we’re getting to the “is too/is not” stage,”

            Not at all.

            Are too.

            You haven’t even done anything yet to demonstrate compatiblism (determinism) is required for eternal security to be maintained.

            And yet you keep responding to “haven’t done anything” with voluminous posts about why the compatibilism I point out isn’t really compatibilism.

            Nor have you bothered to meet the criteria …

            I’m not trying to meet your criteria nor am I seeking to get sidetracked from the point I’m making. And it is a point which I must be making to some degree because you are still engaged and you keep responding. Hey, that’s cool, I’m not complaining.

            My wife influences and acts upon me in appropriate and positive, though finite and imperfect ways where I remain faithful without her needing to predetermine all my actions. If another human can do this, then why not God?

            Now this is very interesting. This is another of several times you have related theological compatibilism to the “compatibility” of spouses. I let it go the previous times because I didn’t want to get sidetracked. Since you keep bringing it up, I’m going to respond.

            The first time you brought it up, you said,

            My wife and I both continue to have the will to remain married because of our hearts, minds, etc. Our wills are (have been made) compatible that way, but that hasn’t the slightest thing to do with determinism.

            At the time, I wondered why you were drawing the comparison since the two are not the same. Then later, in another comment, you said,

            Depends on if we are talking compatiblism proper in the philosophical sense, or just talking about two persons being “compatible”.

            Now I had not, in any of our discussion, been referring to compatible marriage partners as representative of compatibilism. But later in the same comment you made the statement,

            P.S. Learn the difference between two persons being compatible and compatiblism in the philosophical sense please.

            Well, I had not used examples of human compatibility to illustrate Theological compatibilism, you are the one who keeps bringing up the example. I am beginning to wonder if you are the one who is confused on this point, so let me explain why your relationship with your wife is not a description of eternal security (stipulating, of course that Biblical marriage does symbolize the relationship of Christ and the Church, which is not the specific subject of our discussion).

            On your wedding day, your wife made wedding vows to you, and you made wedding vows to her. She did not make your vows for you and you did not make hers. Today, she can promise to continue to love you and remain with you, and you can make the same promise to her. But she cannot promise that you will stay with her. Only you can make that promise.

            But God not only promises to keep loving us and keep us saved; He promises the believer that the believer will not ultimately fall away. He makes a promise of the believer that only God can make, because one would have to be sovereign, omnipotent, and omniscient to make it, and would have to determine to employ those attributes in the keeping of the promise by directing the believer.

            And the direction on the one who is saved reaches a point in which God brings perfection, at the return of Christ, in the saint (Philippians 1: 6, 1 John 3: 2).You point out in your post that the believer retains free will because he can still sin. And certainly sin is a volitional act. But the believer only retains the capacity to sin while his sanctification is still progressive. When Christ returns, the saint is made perfect and is no longer capable of sin. This your wife cannot do for you (though she can help assist your sanctification). But Christ can. You can argue all day that this does not involve the will to any significant degree, but that’s a tough argument to make when you have already defined “freedom” as including freedom to sin.

            So no, compatibility in marriage is not compatilisim in salvation, and you are the one who introduced the comparison and the one who keeps bringing it up, not me.

            You contention requires that God can’t do something appropriately, positively, and perfectly that even my wife can do imperfectly. That’s simply absurd.

            Again, what God does is make a promise that you will persevere. And when God brings about the events He desires through secondary causes, that is compatibilsim. Compatibilism is not hard determinism.

            Unless and until you can not only refute my arguments on its own terms, and refute all the challenges I have presented to your contention (namely the five things required for determinism/compatiblism to be true), you have failed to do anything in this dialog to disprove my thesis, bolster your empty criticism, or prove your own.

            No, I don’t have to argue on your terms, nor do I have to get derailed into the polemics of your Five Points of Determinism, nor do I have to defend the entire construct of Reformed Theology, supralapsarian propositions, nor explain why Calvin didn’t help Servetus. You might wish I would let you dictate the flow of the discussion, I might wish your comments were a little more brief (although I’m giving you some word count competition on this one), but at the end of the day, we each have our own style of writing and expressing our respective cogitations. I feel confident I have made my point. You disagree. We are both free to hold our opinions on the matter.

            Happiness and sunny skies.

            Mike Davis

            My wife influences and acts upon me in appropriate and positive, though finite and imperfect ways where I remain faithful without her needing to predetermine all my actions. If another human can do this, then why not God?

            Sorry, I meant to but that quote of your comment in italics in my last comment.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Are too.”

            Are not. :)

            “And yet you keep responding to “haven’t done anything” with voluminous posts about why the compatibilism I point out isn’t really compatibilism.”

            Because it isn’t. You have to address my arguments.

            “I’m not trying to meet your criteria nor am I seeking to get sidetracked from the point I’m making.”

            You aren’t making any points.

            “And it is a point which I must be making to some degree because you are still engaged and you keep responding. Hey, that’s cool, I’m not complaining.”

            I am complaining, since for some reason you think you have addressed my arguments and you have yet to do so.

            “Now this is very interesting. This is another of several times you have related theological compatibilism to the “compatibility” of spouses. I let it go the previous times because I didn’t want to get sidetracked. Since you keep bringing it up, I’m going to respond.”

            I haven’t “related” them, I have distinguished them.

            “The first time you brought it up, you said,

            So no, compatibility in marriage is not compatilisim in salvation, and you are the one who introduced the comparison and the one who keeps bringing it up, not me.”

            Again, you missed the point of the comparison. I didn’t use the analogy for “compatiblism proper”, I used the marriage example as an example of how two persons can be compatible without one’s actions being predetermined. I made a distinction between being compatible and compatiblism. The former doesn’t require determinism, the latter does. The only difference here is that while my wife and I can keep our promises imperfectly, God can do so perfectly, and can act in appropriate ways, without the necessity of predetermining my actions, so that I remain faithful.

            “Again, what God does is make a promise that you will persevere. And when God brings about the events He desires through secondary causes, that is compatibilsim. Compatibilism is not hard determinism.”

            A rose by any other name… We’ll just have to disagree with this one. Compatiblism is incoherent and irrational anyway.

            “No, I don’t have to argue on your terms, nor do I have to get derailed into the polemics of your Five Points of Determinism, nor do I have to defend the entire construct of Reformed Theology, supralapsarian propositions, nor explain why Calvin didn’t help Servetus. You might wish I would let you dictate the flow of the discussion, I might wish your comments were a little more brief (although I’m giving you some word count competition on this one), but at the end of the day, we each have our own style of writing and expressing our respective cogitations. I feel confident I have made my point. You disagree. We are both free to hold our opinions on the matter.”

            I disagree. You are insisting that not only is compatiblism required for the promise of eternal security to be maintained, which I have already refuted, but that I indirectly argued that way when I didn’t. So yes, you actually have work to do in order to demonstrate these things.

            I fully agree that God is sovereign, omnipotent, and omniscient, so I don’t know what you meant to imply by that, unless you meant determinism. I pointed out several flaws with this, not the least of which, merely meaning “the universe is deterministic” is folly at best and idolatry at worst. God can easily employ His divine attributes to keep His promises without philosophical necessity of the actions of His image bearers.

            In order for you to continue to insist “uh-huh”, you are going to have to argue for it. Otherwise, it is mere assertion. I am still waiting for actual arguments, and not only for your position, but against my position.

            Mike Davis

            Well, you are enlisting considerable prolific verbosity in your attempt to refute my arguments that you insist are not arguments. But I noticed your supply of assertions about lack of arguments failed to contain a rebuttal to my last two arguments. Now that’s fine, you certainly can ignore my points and instead make unsubstantiated repetitive claims that I haven’t made any points. But it’s ironic that you pass on the germane arguments I do make and still complain if I don’t chase every firefly you let out of the jar.

            But you continue to push the marriage analogy, so I’m going to revisit the points I made which, in addition to the previous ones, you had apparently forgotten by the time you typed,

            You aren’t making any points.

            So here it is again. In distinguishing the compatibilism of eternal security from compatibility between marriage partners, I pointed out a couple of significant factors. There are some additional ones as well but I’m trying to keep the discussion focused so let’s stick with these two for now.

            I pointed out that one difference is that while one spouse can be devoted to the other and can seek to assist the other in sanctification, etc., they cannot promise that the other spouse will remain committed or even guarantee any particular response or behavior by the other partner. They can do things to influence a certain response, but cannot make assurances about what the other party will do or not do.

            Also, while one spouse may work harder at it than the other spouse, the continuation of the marriage depends on both, at least by assent if nothing else. And most would agree that practically speaking, considerably more than simple assent is required. What’s more, one spouse cannot do for the other the things the other is obligated to do. They can help with the heavy lifting and do things to facilitate a good marriage, but there is a limit to what one spouse can do to convince the other not to give up on the marriage, and it all goes back to the will.

            But in the case of the believer’s eternal security, God makes the promise the saint will persevere, works in the very heart of the saint (a spouse cannot do this), transforms them, renews them, and assures them they will never commit a certain act–they will never apostatize. That is the difference. On this point it is not helpful to be diverted by theories on the relationship between the will and the mind, the will and desire vs. the will and decision, anthropological disputations supporting dichotomy or trichotomy, etc. although these issues would be germane to other types of discussion. The bottom line is that God makes promises concerning certain conclusions in the ultimate eternal decisions made by the believer, and He delivers on that promise. A spouse cannot do this.

            The second point I made to demonstrate the incongruity of your analogy is one that also exposed a substantive weakness in one of the load-bearing walls of the argument you made in your original post. You can ignore it, but to do so while asserting that no arguments or rebuttals have been made to counter your claims is somewhat bewildering. You state in your original post that

            Moreover, libertarianism is the best explanation of why a believer still commits sin after having been regenerated.

            Libertarianism is the best explanation. The best. Reason #1. Not second-best, but the best. Good old free will. The glaring problem with that argument is that to be valid the capacity to sin must remain even in glory, throughout eternity. Otherwise the transformation was simply a process, done in stages, that was ultimately completed. And this is, in fact, the case. The new creation has begun for the believer, and when Christ returns the believer will become perfect and stop sinning. The action of sin, the desire to sin, the choice to sin will all be gone. A spouse cannot do this for themselves, let alone for their partner. Thus, your position that libertairian free will provides the best explanation for why believers still sin would force the conclusion that in glory believers will lose the libertarian free will they retain today if in fact they retain it today. This notion not only restores all the tension in your argument, it increases it. You would be hard-pressed to argue that God’s control over human will was not in view when the believer’s sanctification is perfected at the return of Christ.

            And since the process of the believer’s sanctification while awaiting Christ has perfection as its goal (Philippians 3: 11-12), it is untenable to assert God is not presently working out His will in the entire person of the believer (Philippians 2: 13), including in the will of the believer.

            Now if you insist on claiming that is not compatibilism, that is your prerogative. I’m sure neither of us expected to change the other’s mind at the outset of this discussion. But I don’t have to counter the minutia of every single ersatz assertion you concoct just because we disagree.

            Peace and joy.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            My bad, this should go here.

            “Well, you are enlisting considerable prolific verbosity in your attempt to refute my arguments that you insist are not arguments. But I noticed your supply of assertions about lack of arguments failed to contain a rebuttal to my last two arguments. Now that’s fine, you certainly can ignore my points and instead make unsubstantiated repetitive claims that I haven’t made any points.”

            Nonsense, I have addressed everything you have written.

            “So here it is again. In distinguishing the compatibilism of eternal security from compatibility between marriage partners, I pointed out a couple of significant factors. There are some additional ones as well but I’m trying to keep the discussion focused so let’s stick with these two for now.

            I pointed out that one difference is that while one spouse can be devoted to the other and can seek to assist the other in sanctification, etc., they cannot promise that the other spouse will remain committed or even guarantee any particular response or behavior by the other partner. They can do things to influence a certain response, but cannot make assurances about what the other party will do or not do.”

            Again, misses the point. Thus, it is irrelevant.

            “Also, while one spouse may work harder at it than the other spouse, the continuation of the marriage depends on both, at least by assent if nothing else. And most would agree that practically speaking, considerably more than simple assent is required. What’s more, one spouse cannot do for the other the things the other is obligated to do. They can help with the heavy lifting and do things to facilitate a good marriage, but there is a limit to what one spouse can do to convince the other not to give up on the marriage, and it all goes back to the will.”

            Again, misses the point. I already distinguished that in a marriage, it is imperfect and finite, not infinite and perfect like God. What does that matter in the use of analogy that it isn’t a perfect analogy?

            The point remains. That point, again, being that a spouse can do such and such so that the other remains faithful without predetermining their actions from without. Nothing else you mention with the analogy matters since the analogy was to only demonstrate that point.

            You haven’t refuted that point yet.

            “But in the case of the believer’s eternal security, God makes the promise the saint will persevere, works in the very heart of the saint (a spouse cannot do this), transforms them, renews them, and assures them they will never commit a certain act–they will never apostatize. That is the difference.”

            Not as far as an analogy is concerned.

            “On this point it is not helpful to be diverted by theories on the relationship between the will and the mind, the will and desire vs. the will and decision, anthropological disputations supporting dichotomy or trichotomy, etc. although these issues would be germane to other types of discussion. The bottom line is that God makes promises concerning certain conclusions in the ultimate eternal decisions made by the believer, and He delivers on that promise. A spouse cannot do this.”

            Misses the point entirely. So it isn’t relevant.

            “The second point I made to demonstrate the incongruity of your analogy is one that also exposed a substantive weakness in one of the load-bearing walls of the argument you made in your original post. You can ignore it, but to do so while asserting that no arguments or rebuttals have been made to counter your claims is somewhat bewildering. You state in your original post that

            Moreover, libertarianism is the best explanation of why a believer still commits sin after having been regenerated.

            Libertarianism is the best explanation. The best. Reason #1. Not second-best, but the best. Good old free will. The glaring problem with that argument is that to be valid the capacity to sin must remain even in glory, throughout eternity.”

            With a transformed nature, there will be an absence of desire to sin, the hypothetical capacity issue is irrelevant. Nothing about this requires actions being predetermined.

            “Otherwise the transformation was simply a process, done in stages, that was ultimately completed. And this is, in fact, the case. The new creation has begun for the believer, and when Christ returns the believer will become perfect and stop sinning. The action of sin, the desire to sin, the choice to sin will all be gone. A spouse cannot do this for themselves, let alone for their partner. Thus, your position that libertairian free will provides the best explanation for why believers still sin would force the conclusion that in glory believers will lose the libertarian free will they retain today if in fact they retain it today.”

            Wow, what a total non-sequitur. Also, you pushed the analogy into eternity where it would be irrelevant to the issue considering we are talking about actions being predetermined from without and the difference between that and influences.

            “This notion not only restores all the tension in your argument, it increases it. You would be hard-pressed to argue that God’s control over human will was not in view when the believer’s sanctification is perfected at the return of Christ.”

            There is no tension here given the faulty notions that have no relevance. You keep confusing issues. This is about determinism and libertarianism.

            You are also confusing hypothetical possibilities with realities. For instance, the Bible says “God can not lie”. This is neither a logical impossibility for God, nor a statement about ability. God could easily tell a lie theoretically. The point isn’t that God lacks some ability to perform an action. The point is that God lacks the character deficiency to do so. It is about character, not ability or inability. There is nothing logically impossible for God to do, and it is possible for God to lie if we are talking about abilities. We aren’t. Neither is Scripture. The Bible’s point here is not about logical impossibilities, but actual possibilities. God can not lie because it is against His nature and character, and it isn’t because God lacks the ability to perform the actions. Theoretically, He could. In reality, God won’t. God can’t, because it is impossible for Him to do so because of His nature and character. There is a difference between that and ability to perform an action, theoretically or otherwise.

            Likewise, glorified free creatures need not have all their actions meticulously predetermined in order to refrain from sin in glory. There is no harm in the theoretical possibility that they sin, the only thing required is that they don’t, not that they can’t theoretically. Back to my original essay, while I don’t have to grant the point, I could grant the possibility that a believer in glory could sin without it ever being an actuality. In glory, believers won’t be lacking in character and nature to sin. The issue has nothing to do with ability or inability in some hypothetical, theoretical sense.

            “And since the process of the believer’s sanctification while awaiting Christ has perfection as its goal (Philippians 3: 11-12), it is untenable to assert God is not presently working out His will in the entire person of the believer (Philippians 2: 13), including in the will of the believer.”

            Not the issue. The issue is determinism versus libertarianism. The issue isn’t influences and relational actions. I made this point like five posts ago or something…

            “Now if you insist on claiming that is not compatibilism, that is your prerogative.”

            Well, it is also sound philosophy and properly using defined terms. But whatever…

            “I’m sure neither of us expected to change the other’s mind at the outset of this discussion. But I don’t have to counter the minutia of every single ersatz assertion you concoct just because we disagree.”

            I would like for you to counter at least one of my points on the grounds I made them as opposed to straw or neglect altogether because you ain’t got the chops for it…that would be nice given you still can’t seem to grasp what the discussion is even about, and what categories are involved.

            Cheers.

            Mike Davis

            Jonathan,

            I realize your verbal flamboyance is merely a rhetorical device, but you cannot simply rely on hollow refrains proclaiming that I don’t get it, I don’t understand, etc., etc. At some point a deliberative discourse is required. You can’t just throw the flea-flicker on every down.

            Thus, reciting lines like “misses the point” over and over is not issuing a rebuttal. It’s just another version of “Is too/is not.” You have yet to deal with my points disconfirming the marriage analogy and instead just doubled-, tripled-, and quadrupled-down on it. It doesn’t work. The promise that a believer will not apostatize is not an analogous way of saying that God can do what a spouse can do but to an exponentially greater degree. That is not the relevancy at all. The point is that “…it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).” A spouse cannot do that for the marriage or for sanctification either one. Not imperfectly, not finitely, not at all. There is no comparison. It is not a distinction in degree or quality but a different work altogether.

            A spouse cannot promise to “…confirm you to the end that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:8).” A spouse cannot make any promise about their partner’s action or nonaction. One spouse cannot change the other’s heart, renew the other’s mind, or empower the other from within. A spouse cannot make their partner remain married if the other’s will turns. God can and does make the saint stay saved. The believer’s will is not free to apostatize.

            Also, you did not deal with the believer’s perfection in glory and what that does to libertarian free will. The fact it is still future is not relevant to the debate; all redemption was future when Adam first sinned. You are the one who argued that libertarian free will was the best explanation for why the believer still sins. But your argument ignores the fact that when the believer’s redemption is complete they will sin no longer. Both the capacity to sin and the necessity to sin are removed. That has to mean God has acted unilaterally on the believer, including on the believer’s will.

            Also telling in regard to your insistence on the marriage analogy is the inconsistency in the was you dismiss arguments. We dealt with a different analogy earlier, one that actually was relevant. Earlier in the thread when we were discussing sovereignty and freedom, you asserted that freedom was “completely unrelated” to sovereignty. You also narrowed the definition of God’s sovereignty to a governmental one, to “authority and position of rulership.” I showed that Luke 7: 1-10 proved your definition fell short, but you dismissed it. You even played the worn-out “double-speak” card.

            I also drew a comparison between <your strict definition of sovereignty, which is too limited in scope, and the Declaration of Independence in order to show the link between sovereignty and freedom. I stipulated they were not the same in the sense that one issue was doctrinal and the other civil affairs. But the illustration was valid, especially in your limited construct. Both have to do with rule and authority. One is Divine, thus perfect and infinite, the other human, thus imperfect and finite. Your response was “apples and cement.” So if it’s your go-to illustration, relevant or not, it’s just imperfect and finite, but if it’s actually a relevant comparison, you simply say “apples and cement”.

            Then there’s your equivocation on the will. Apparently to you somehow it’s overrated and not a vital factor in apostasy, but on the other hand, all you’re really saying is “volition is not the whole story” and “volitional acts are freely chosen.”

            So this has been quite an interesting discussion with the moving goalposts and peremptory dismissals. But, I realize a lot of that is strategy and tactics. So now I want to shift gears a little. Though I only know you from blog posts, I still consider this a friendly (though spirited) “debate(though informal)” among brothers. I may or may not respond to your next comment, and will probably, either with this comment or within the next few, let you have the last word since you did author the original post. So if I don’t answer, I don’t want you to conclude that I went away mad. Perhaps we’ll have more blog discussions in the future.

            Grace and peace.

Steve Martin

God is a real God (not some wimpy god).

And He will do that which He wills to do.

We do have blessed assurance in Christ, but we don’t view this as a business contract, or take it for granted.

Godismyjudge

“The objections assume that since one may freely respond to the grace of God at one point, such a person may also freely reject it later. ”

This objection is common, but it overlooks the simple distinction between God permitting something and God causing something. God permits and does not permit apostasy but He cannot cause us to freely convert in the first place. That God cannot causally determined a free conversions is not a limitation of God’s powers because it’s a contradiction for an event to be free and determined and a contradiction is not some “thing” that God cannot do. God has all kinds of means of preventing apostasy without removing free will, not the least of which is taking a believer out of this life just before they would fall away.

God be with you,
Dan

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I think part of the problem with this is the thinking by many people that every issue in theology is “will” related to begin with.

    As you rightly pointed out, that isn’t the case, as God has means to keep his promises that in no way even involve the issue of will.

      Dean

      JP, I had dinner one time with Dr. John Phillips. He described what you mention above as being similar to playing chess as a beginner with a world class chess player. He can see moves ahead and can cause you to move certain ways without ever touching one of your chess pieces. Dr. Phillips says God is able to maneuver and keep you in His will without violating your free will.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    It is also worth noting that this common objection comes from both Calvinists and many Arminians. :)

      Godismyjudge

      Yep. :-) I probably have heard it more from the Arminian side, then I have from the Calvinist side. I do think the Traditionalist view is slightly more complicated on this specific point. But it’s clearly not a contradiction.

      God be with you,
      Dan

Godismyjudge

“Even if there were a hypothetical logical possibility that a believer can fall away due to libertarianism, the Traditionalist can still reject the necessity of it, or the possibility of it actually happening in reality….

…Likewise, even if the Traditionalist could concede a logical possibility that a believer can commit apostasy, which is, as stated above, not a necessary concession at all anyway, they can still rightly reject it as actually being a necessity that must or will occur in reality…”

IMO, the TS could have been worded better on this point. If something can happen, normally we say it’s possible. If an agent has the ability to perform and event, we say he can do it. While the distinction between “can happen” and “will happen” is an important one, it doesn’t undo this normal semantics.

What the TS should have said is that believers cannot lose their salvation. That is impossible because the combination of 1) someone actually falling away and 2) God protecting them, is impossible. But just because that combination is impossible does not mean each of the parts is impossible, and more than saying I cannot lift a 50 lbs weight and a 500lbs weight means I cannot lift the 50lbs weight by itself. Even so, I would be hesitant to say believers cannot fall away but I have no hesitation in saying believers can never loose their salvation. After all, Christ said in the most explicit terms possible, believers will never perish. That’s a statement about my future, not a statement about my abilities or lack thereof.

God be with you,
Dan

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Again, this is conceding something for the sake of argument that need not be conceded at all because of other grounds.

    So, for that purpose, the concession still doesn’t demonstrate what the objector would like.

    That is the point of what was being stated there.

    Again, we see this per my example with Scripture.

      Godismyjudge

      Johnathan,

      Thanks for the article and your response here.

      Sure, libertarian freedom and security can be reconciled (even with denying the possibility of apostasy) But the statement denying the possibility of apostasy, should be evaluated on its own terms.

      I view the question this way. Does regeneration make us an invincible Juggernaut plowing down all obstacles to perseverance or is Christ running ahead of us clearing the way and guiding us down safe paths? Put another way, does regeneration remove from our will the ability to choose apostasy or does it leave that ability but in addition to regeneration, God protects His sheep by only allowing them to be circumstance where He know they will remain faithful? If it’s the first, then we should deny the possibility of apostasy. If it’s the second, then we should admit the possibility of apostasy, but deny believers can loose or forfeit their salvation.

      The first view might be true, based on passages like 1 John 3:9. But I am not 100% sure of that. The strongest passages on security simply talk about our future.

      God be with you,
      Dan

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I think I would frame the whole issue differently. I don’t see believers “willing” towards apostasy at all, regardless of if it is within their horizon or not in terms of libertarian ability.

        I would say Christ leads us down clearer paths to glory (clearer paths not equaling easy paths of course) that believers are desiring to go down as a result of the new birth anyway. In regards to sanctification, the Spirit working within a person does not exclude the work of the person as a result of the work done in them.

        Faith isn’t simply a matter of the will in any case, so naturally, removing the ability to “will apostasy” isn’t necessary because apostasy isn’t simply a matter of the will any more or less than faith is, and believers don’t desire or will to repudiate Christ and become non-believers.

        As such, I reject the possibility of apostasy for believers as a soteriological matter.

        I affirm the reality of apostasy for “believers-in-vain” as an ecclesiastical matter.

          Godismyjudge

          Johnathan,

          That makes sense. Desire is probably a necessary condition for choice, so if we don’t desire apostasy, we couldn’t choose it. What you are advocating is a viable option.

          I’m the background here, is probably how we take the Hebrews warning passages. It seems you take them as addressing people that say attend Church, but who are not really believers. I think they are addressed to true believers, and it’s true that if we fell away, we would perish. But I think that it’s like me warning my young sons if you touch the stove, you will burn your hand, when, if I saw them going for the stove I would do anything I could to stop them.

          That’s part of the reason why I am hesitant to say we cannot fall way without qualifying it by saying something like we cannot lose our salvation.

          God be with you,
          Dan

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I find what is normally called “the hypothetical warning” interpretation not very convincing personally.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Also, the TS statement says that, as does my commentary:

    “We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity.”

    and

    “We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.”

    “Hence, a justified saint can not ever “lose salvation”, or forfeit salvation because believers are saved and continually believe in God’s power to save them in Christ Jesus.”

    I think the wording “lose salvation” is actually a bit silly. It makes salvation sound something like car keys that can get lost in a couch.

    You also wrote: “After all, Christ said in the most explicit terms possible, believers will never perish. That’s a statement about my future, not a statement about my abilities or lack thereof.”

    Well, that was two-thirds of my argument. :)

Ron Hale

Thanks Johnathan … I enjoyed reading your work!

bruce mercer

when pontificating, one must wear the red cape if one wears the superman logo

    Lydia

    “when pontificating, one must wear the red cape if one wears the superman logo”

    ….and you guys wonder why there is division. Childish and unnecessary. Bad form.

    Donald

    I’m thinking the logo carried itself, even without the cape.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Walmart didn’t have capes on sell when my son picked out the t-shirt for me…believe me, we looked! :)

      Lydia

      Johnathan, He would take it back if he went to your blog and saw pictures of your gorgeous wife! But I can relate. I once wore a gold painted macaroni necklace made for me by my daughter and forgot I was having my pic taken that day for a training gig. :o)

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I like the t-shirt…so its fine. I think they just grabbed whatever was handy off my Facebook page.

        Well, anything a daughter makes is worth showing off. ;)

        And yes, my wife certainly is gorgeous. I am a blessed man. :)

Luther

It is inexcusable that you have left of Pastor Greens accusations against the Gospel Project for this long with no evidence. Inexcusable! If your goal is for SBCtoday to appear to be the chief disseminator of false witness in the SBC, you are doing a fantastic job. Otherwise, you bring shame to the SBC.

    Norm Miller

    Luther: That’s the last straw, man. To call us liars is not over the top — it’s pretty low. — Norm

    volfan007

    Luther,

    You really need to try Gold Bond for all of those places where you might get chaffed. It will absolutely help you to feel better, when you chaffed and feeling mean and nasty. Try it, Luther. It’ll help.

    David

    Tom Parker

    Luther:

    His first post should not have been put up without the second one going up concurrently.

    These folks would scream bloody murder if the shoe were on the other foot.

    They are not helping the SBC.

      volfan007

      Tom,

      Have you ever heard of Gold Bond powder?

      David

      Norm Miller

      Tom: Is no one screaming bloody murder in the CBF about the CBF-affiliated chaplain who had to resign from NAMB since his views on homosexuality were contrary to Scripture, and thus, NAMB’s policies? — Norm

Lydia

“Most importantly though, as the article states in the affirmation, the security of the believer is quite properly classified as promise-based security.”

Yes!

Good post, Johnathan.

Lydia

Johnathan, Just curious what you do with Hebrews 10. Those who are believers in vain who deliberately keep on sinning?

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[e] 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Do you mean, does this passage teach that believers can lose their salvation?

    I think not. There is a distinction between being in the covenant community and being “saved”. If a person continues in sin willfully (and sin here is not just any sins, but repudiation in apostasy…in context, back to Judaism) with such knowledge of truth and profane it, what other recourse is there for sin if not the cross? Christ won’t do a repeat of Calvary. Going from lesser to greater in regards to the covenant communities, how much worse for those repudiating the new covenant community than those in the old covenant.

    In fact, the only thing that seems to strike me as possibly confusing a reader on the issue would be the word “sanctified”, but this doesn’t mean “undergoing sanctification” here. In covenant terms, it means that the blood of Christ sanctifies (sets apart) people in Christian community just as much as the law set aside the old covenant community, and “sanctified” them in that sense (see how the word is used in Hebrews 9:13).

    Hope that helps.

      Lydia

      “Do you mean, does this passage teach that believers can lose their salvation?”

      No, I was thinking it was describing those who are not the real thing…believers in vain, so to speak. Those (the “we” in Hebrews 10) who continue to “practice” sin (willfully, deliberately) after knowing the truth as described in Hebrews 10.

      1 John has a similar theme with “walking in the light” as in those believers who do not “practice” sin. (sin as a lifestyle?) vs those who walk in darkness.

      And in chp 4:

      4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

      Just curious how you viewed these sorts of verses in light of your post. Are those who “practice” sin, believers in vain? Can one be a born again practicing pedophile? Or a born again practicing homosexual? Or a born again practicing liar?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I would say they are “believers-in-vain” yes, and not among the elect. We have these sorts in all our churches. Has been that way since the beginning.

        “Are those who “practice” sin, believers in vain?”

        -Yes. Certainly. I would distinguish believers who sin from those in the community that “practice” sin. If by “practice sin”, it means their life can be defined by such they do.

        “Can one be a born again practicing pedophile?”

        – No, if one can be rightly called a pedophile as a pattern of lifestyle, one is not born again. However, a Christian may have a failure and engage in an act of pedophilia, but that doesn’t mean they are not born again.

        “Or a born again practicing homosexual?”

        -No, same reasoning as above.

        “Or a born again practicing liar?”

        -No, same reasoning as above.

        When I look at the “will not inherit” sin lists of Gal. 5:19-21, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Eph. 5:5, or Rev. 21:8, I would say that people who live lives that could be primarily characterized by these such things in the present (regardless of whether or not they are in the covenant community) rather than their primary characterization of their life being an identity in Christ, I would say such people are not believers as I have defined in my commentary.

Johnathan Pritchett

I could have sent in a better picture than that! :D

Greg Alford

I’m sorry, but I must be missing something here… Traditionally “Free Will Baptist” have rejected the doctrine of Eternal Security based upon the fact that not to do so is grossly inconsistent with “Free Will Theology”.

To say that one has “Free Will” to choose Christ up until the very moment he actually chooses… and then his free will is forever lost, or “Bound”, by that one choice is grossly inconsistent Theology.

Grace for the Journey,

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Man, I agree with that for sure.

    It would be grossly inconsistent if “his free will is forever lost, or “Bound”, by that one choice…” which is why nothing even remotely close to this was argued at all.

    Yeah, you missed a lot more than something. ;)

    Blessings,
    JP

      Greg Alford

      Johnathan,

      “Yeah, you missed a lot more than something. ;)”

      Is that the best you can come up with??? LOL!!!

      Have a blessed day :-)

      Johnathan Pritchett

      No. But since you clearly did not read or understand what was said in the essay, given your comments, it was all that I needed to come up with. ;)

JC

Johnathan,
Thanks for your article. It is very informative and a helpful explanation of the beliefs behind Article IX of the “Traditional” statement.

I would, however, like to offer a caution regarding your paragraph that begins “The prayer of the believer is not for the believer’s ‘free will’ to be done…” You make a couple of statements about deterministism’s inability to explain ongoing sin in a believer in light of texts like Eph 1:5 and 1 Cor 10:13. Certainly you know Calvinists do treat these verses seriously. You may think the Calvinists’ interpretation falls short and you may not agree with it, but it does not necessarily lead to disingenuous promises from God. Your dismissal of it is reductionistic. In other words, you cast the view aside without saying enough to present their argument accurately or fairly. Your article is a great presentation of your view and I appreciate it very much; however, when speaking for other views you don’t represent them very well.

And to the SBC Today folks,
This caution leads me to a larger statement about SBC Today’s approach to the whole discussion. I hope you will receive this word in a spirit of love as I mean it as an encouragement and help. I have read most of the articles and several of the comment threads and I appreciate your tremendous commitment of time and energy. That said, I have been disappointed by two things. 1. Often the articles include statements about the Calvinist view that are either inaccurate, misleading, or unhelpfully reductionistic. I understand the nature of debate, but these portions of the articles generally derail the discussion and lead to argumentative commenting. 2. The commenting is increasingly aggressive, combative, overly defensive, vitriolic, and frankly, childish. I realize these practices are common in the blog world and often the “other person” started it. But for the sake of the Kingdom and our SBC future, will you please protect the discussion in this forum and lead us toward something better?

As someone who is very interested in this discussion and our ability to work together moving forward, I hope this helps.

In Christ,
JC

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Thank you for your comments.

    My essay is to state our position and give a general defense to usual claims against it. It isn’t an in-depth treatment of every possible alternative explanation to every issue raised. It is an attempt to treat our position fairly, not to present other treatments fairly or unfairly, but just to address them briefly. Briefly isn’t the same as unfairly. Notice that I didn’t address their views much at all, but explained why our view can account for those things better and easier.

    It is a “bottom line” addressing of conclusions, not detailed arguments for the conclusions.

    I do know that Calvinists treat those verses seriously, but I ultimately find their treatments erroneous (obviously), and there is enough “gist” in my overall essay to make my statements contra other possible explanations obvious enough for the purposes of the essay.

    Thanks again.

    If you would like to discuss those passages, then by all means, inquire away. I am happy to further defend why I believe our view can account for those issues better than other systems. Which is why I cast their views aside without giving them further attention because I am giving our view attention, which explains why our view can best account for those sorts of texts over and against other views. I don’t believe that is being unfair to other views, but rather, it is being fair towards ours since this is the point of view we are presenting.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Tom Parker

    JC:

    You said:”But for the sake of the Kingdom and our SBC future, will you please protect the discussion in this forum and lead us toward something better? ”

    It is not going to happen here as this is an ANTI-CALVINIST site.

    Martin Niemoller said the following:”Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me. ”

    I have and continue to see what has happened to “liberals” in the SBC and right now the same treatment is being afforded the Calvinists.

      volfan007

      Hey Tom,

      Have you ever tried….well, you know….. ;)

      David

      Norm Miller

      Tom: How are things at the CBF this morning? I guess all the ducks are in a row over there — no need to talk about sin, or the sponsoring of chaplains who attend homosexual weddings — nope, that’s not at issue in the CBF. So, since the entirety of the CBF is following every scriptural admonition, then I s’pose you are needed here to help us. — Norm

        Manoj G

        Norm, I’m confused. I don’t know the details on this. Did the chaplin merely attend the homosexual wedding or did he officiate the wedding? If he attended the wedding, what is the big deal? Jesus sat and talked with prostitutes. That did not make Him guilty by association. To be a friend to a homosexual may mean attending their wedding, even though the wedding deeply displeases you (and the Lord). If he officated the wedding then there is no excuse for that at all.

        Can you please shed light on this?

            Manoj G

            Norm, thanks for including the articles.

            Now I am sincerely baffeled why you keep pushing this issue with Tom. The chaplain attended a gay-wedding (which in the inter-religious military was his responsiblity to do). One AP reporter said he looked like he approved of the wedding. The chaplain expressly denies this accusation.

            Respectfully Norm, it seems to me that you are going against the Scriptures clear command not to accept an accusation against an elder without 2 or 3 witnesses.

            “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:19

            There is only 1 witness (an AP observer). The chaplain flatly denies what AP reporter claims. Therefore, it is your duty and my duty as Christians to reject the AP reporters claim infavor of what the chaplain says, since there is only one witness against this man of God.

            Now it seems doubly objectionable that you would keep leveling this charge to Tom when actually you and I don’t even have a biblical right to level the charge against the chaplain himself.

            I mean no offense but I don’t see biblically where you have a right to do what you are doing to Tom.

              Norm Miller

              The Air Force Times reprinted the Associated Press article in which the chaplain said the service was beautiful and he “wouldn’t miss it.” The chaplain himself voiced his approval of the ceremony. Would you please provide documentation for your statement: “The chaplain flatly denies what AP reporter claims.”
              The chaplain is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which, according to the AP story, has a more moderate view of homosexuality. I believe it is inconsistent for Tom Parker, a member of a CBF church, to continually complain about what he perceives as sin in the SBC on this and other blogs.
              On another note, Pastor Manoj, please send me a link to your church’s web site. Your name piqued my interest when it first appeared on this site a couple of days ago, and I am curious to learn more about where you are from and how God is using you in ministry. — Norm

                Norm Miller

                Manoj G. Thanks for the web link to the church you cited where you are an associate pastor. However, I suspect your webmaster has failed to put your name on the listing of the church staff. Also, I’d still be interested to see the documentation in your post where you state: “The chaplain flatly denies what AP reporter claims.” — Norm

Manoj G.

This is very helpful article. Thank you pastor Pritchett. I enjoyed.

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