Friday, December 21, 2012


To begin the New Year,  something a little different.

The idea of perseverance in the faith is (alas) more complex than at first appears. At first, it seems to be the one theme that Calvinists and Arminians and others can see eye to eye over. Each can sing 'Safe in the arms of Jesus' (provided each can find a copy of Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos),  with equal gusto and abandon.  'Once saved always saved', along with 'God's love is unconditional', are religious mantras that are currently widely accepted as axiomatic, fundamental to a personal assurance of salvation.

The  next two posts will look at the theme of the 'temporary Christian' and at individuals, such as Simon the magician, who along with others believed and was baptised, but who later was said to be in the 'gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity' (Acts 8). For a time all in the early church thought him to be a Christian. And (the modern evangelical reasons at this point),  he was once saved, so he is always saved. But he turned out (it seems) to be a Christian of the temporary variety. And what of  the warning passages of the New Testament? Warnings such as 'be not high-minded, but fear'? What is the relationship between perseverance and the taking such passages seriously? Whatever one's view of perseverance, it obviously should not result in consigning these passages to the theological lumber room, along with the dietary laws of the Old Testament.

So in January we shall look at Augustine's view of the temporary Christian and in February at John Calvin's. As we shall see, there are interesting similarities and even more interesting differences between them.