Eternal Security of the Believer

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Of all the past and present theological debates within Orthodox Christianity, few have managed to claim the perpetual debate as has the discussion surrounding the eternal security of the believer. For many generations, faithful Christians have stood on opposite sides of this issue, decrying the view of those standing opposite them. Broadly, some view the Bible as teaching that a man who has experienced a genuine conversion can, by his own will, turn from the faith and forfeit his salvation. The opposing view counters that this same man cannot, under any circumstances, forfeit his salvation after having experienced a genuine conversion. Admittedly, this is a gross generalization of the variety of views, but it suffices to demonstrate the historical conflict around the issue of eternal security. In his book The Race Set Before Us , Dr. Tom Schreiner seeks to address this theological debate, particularly the way in which we deal with warning passages, by looking only to Scripture, apart from any personal presuppositions. Schreiner does an excellent job of explaining the four major viewpoints commonly held today – loss-of-salvation view, loss-of-rewards view, tests-of-genuineness view, and hypothetical loss-of salvation view – and provides an accurate representation of supporting evidence for each view. He then succinctly reveals the major flaws within each view, and provides the biblical basis for his own view; namely, God’s means-of-salvation view. To support his view, Schreiner uses chapter 2 to stress the importance of understanding salvation in the framework of already-but-not-yet, and chapter 3 is utilized to examine the nature of saving faith as seen throughout Scripture. Schreiner does an excellent job of using Scri... ... middle of paper ... ...ponents of the hypothetical loss-of-salvation view, but the practical implications seem to be much the same. I assume this is something that Schreiner will deal with at length in the remaining chapters of the book. I have found this book to be immensely helpful in establishing a biblical framework in place of a “Calvinistic” or “Arminian” grid for understanding eternal security and the warning passages. The way in which Schreiner explains a holistic understanding of salvation is one of the most helpful explanations I have read on the topic. I am left with questions of how exactly he will deal with the warning passages, but I have a general understanding that because Scripture teaches a past, present, and future salvation that he will argue that the warning passages seek to “call for faith that endures to receive the prize” (40), and is God’s means-of-salvation.
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