Eternal Security Vs. Conditional Perseverance
by Ray Moore and Mike Stine
The subject of eternal security (or lack thereof) is a topic that has been of debate in the church since it began. Letters from Barnabas dating back to 70- 130 AD strongly elude to a lack of salvation. The first strongly noted opposition came from Origen (circa 225 AD). Even Origen seems to flip back and forth in his beliefs, although it is difficult for us to truly discern what he means as many of his writings are rather ambiguous.
Today, the debate appears to be broken up usually into two camps, Calvinism and Arminianism. Calvinists tend to cling to the sovereignty of God, while Arminianists hold to the free will of man.
Calvinists hold to five points in their doctrine, one of which pertains directly to eternal security. “The precise ones God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure.” (Moody 480)
Arminianists also hold to five points in their doctrine. In the 1610 Remonstance five articles were written by Arminius’s followers. Article five pertains to conditional perseverance.
“That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their flesh, and to win the victory; it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand, and if only they are ready for conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the words of Christ, John x:28:”Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy scripture which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, before we ourselves can teach it with full persuasion of our minds.”
In order to attempt to come to a conclusion on this matter (although we realize that we really can’t because theologians have been arguing this matter for centuries) we have determined three prime factors surrounding this discussion. They are: a person’s views on election, grace, and perseverance.
While election and grace are not directly related to eternal security, we feel that they must be brought into discussion because they bring about a basis for many beliefs surrounding eternal security.
We should also note that we take a more philosophical approach to this issue. While we do use biblical arguments, any theologian, as they’ve been doing for years, can say that we have a wrong interpretation of any passage we may use. Therefore an appeal to reason is taken.
The next three points will be in a debate format with a presentation of an argument and then a rebuttal.
Next Section – Election