Monday, June 22, 2009

CBN Interview With Mike Horton (Fixed)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Do Catholics and Muslims Worship the Same God?

In this blog post I want to explore the topic of whether Roman Catholics are committed to the belief that they worship the same God as the Muslims worship. It seems that the Roman Catholic Catechism teaches this and if this is the case then one could devise a compelling argument against the Catholic position.

The Qur’an clearly states:

“[4:171] O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, "Trinity." You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master.”

What is clearly being taught in Sura 4:171 is that there is not a Trinity in the Divine Essence. That is to say: God is only a unity and has no tri-diversity as the Christian Doctrine of Trinity states. Well why might this be a problem for Roman Catholics? The reason why this seems to be a serious problem is because the Official Roman Catholic Catechism states in paragraph 841:

841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

The Catholic Catechism is suggesting that Muslims and Catholics worship together the same object, namely the one, merciful, God. Catholics adore a God who is One but also three with respect to persons, but Muslims reject that God is three persons and just says he is one. So how could they have the same object of worship? To make it more evident I will lay out three propositions that draw out this contradiction further:

P1: Catholics believe and worship God as a Trinity

P2: Muslims believe and worship God as a Unity

P3: Catholics and Muslims together worship the same object

If the propositions are granted and laid out in this manner there is a clear contradiction between P3 in conjunction with P1 and P2. From this one could come up with this argument against the Catholic position:

P1: The Official Catholic Church teachings on Faith and Practice are true in total

P2: The Roman Catholic Catechism is a part of these true official teachings

P3: The Roman Catholic Catechism contains a falsehood on the object of worship in Islamic theology

C: Hence, the Official Catholic Church teachings on Faith and Practice are not true in total

This seems valid and sound to me. What do you think?

To see the official Catholic Teaching on this from The Roman Catholic Catechism on the Official Vatican site click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Question To My Arminian/Molinist Friends

This question is generated by genuine curiosity and is aimed at provoking a bit of light discussion. It's not meant to be a trap or a clever argument for Calvinism.

When listening to some of Dr. William Lane Craig's webcasts about Calvinism and Molinism recently, I noticed that he said again and again that he believed that God's plan for the cosmos was to allow the maximum number of people to freely come to salvation in Christ. This was also part of his response to the problem of evil. If men are free to accept or reject salvation and God needs to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the greatest possible number of people choose to accept salvation, then it isn't that unreasonable to assume that God uses evil to bring about that state of affairs. Many people who would not otherwise to turn Christ will do so in the face of pain.

Fair enough. But I'm curious: If God's plan is to get the maximum number of people saved, then why would He ever return? After all, if He had returned 50 years ago, I and other Christians of my generation would not be saved. Likewise, if He were to return tomorrow, countless millions of potential Christians will never be born. In other words, if God truly desires the maximum number of people to be saved, doesn't he have to let things go on like this for eternity?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Evangelism & Mercy

It is a fascinating question to the Christian mind in what manner Evangelism and Mercy are to be interlinked. In the New Testament they are worked out in Jesus’ and the apostles’ ministry in close conjunction with one another and are clearly commissioned for the abiding church of Christ.

The point on which reformed churches and elders across the spectrum of variant views on this subject agree is that Jesus the Messiah came and worked, and established His Church through which He continues to abide and work, in order to gather the elect and reverse absolutely all that humanity’s debacle entails – that is, ultimately to make all things new, spiritually, socially, naturally etc. Differences arise over how and when this gathering and ultimate renovation is to come about.

Often one of two notions is favored. Either – ecclesiastical mercy and world renewal vision is identified very closely with spiritual gospel proclamation to unbelievers to the point where the growth and advance of the kingdom of God will be expected to be accompanied by augmentation of the holistic wellness of the world at large – or – ecclesiastical mercy and renewal vision is focused inside the of church for those who have been evangelized, and the growth and advance of the kingdom of God is understood as a drawing of men and women into an oasis of holistic wellness in the midst of a world that is perishing. At this point in my consideration of the matter I might propose somewhat of a middle way between these two options.

Jesus evangelized, inaugurating and propagating the kingdom of God through preaching of spiritual grace accompanied by miraculous acts of mercy. Though Jesus’ and the apostles’ ministry featured unique supernatural demonstrations of power attending the great work of redemption and the foundational inspired revelation, I fondly accept the thought of holding forth our Lord’s initial practice of evangelism through word and deed as normative for our own as He continues to work through us.

Jesus employed miraculous acts of mercy in the form of physical healings, food provision, etc. in order to authorize His message of spiritual grace.

“Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." And the man got up and went home.”

These symbolic, renovative acts had the intent and (in some cases) the effect of opening the eyes of people’s hearts to the spiritual millennial reign that had at last arrived already and unto hope of the resurrection and consummation which would not yet unfold. It seems, however that in their symbolic, temporary nature these miraculous acts of mercy were not meant to really improve or fix the physical, external state of the world. All the people whom Jesus physically healed became physically sick again and eventually died. Those whom He physically fed became physically hungry again within a matter of hours. However, these acts of external mercy were not in vain since through them the Word and Sacrament were legitimated and authenticated which would effect permanent and imperishable spiritual healing and spiritual fullness which guaranteed eventual holistic impeccability.

Likewise we, in preaching the grace of God in the Lord Jesus, must authenticate our message through sincere symbolic renovative acts of external mercy. The Spirit through James bids us everywhere to authenticate our spiritual charity in works of mercy. Indeed, vain “faith,” without its necessarily concomitant deeds of mercy and kindness is a lifeless caricature of its counterfeited namesake. Yet we cannot expect that our temporary improvements of people’s and things’ estates will have lasting effect in a world which we know goes from bad to worse, in which Sheol swallows all until it is commanded to vomit out along with the risen Lord those whom the Father has given to Him from before the foundation of the world who like Him it cannot hold. Though, as our works of mercy authenticate and make effective our message of grace which engrafts lost sinners into that true Vine, they are eternally far from being done in vain. Our evangelistic proclamation must be accompanied by merciful acts of great proportions. Our diaconal funds must be directed toward renovative repairs for those inside the church and out, so long as through these investments the Word of grace will take hold and through our material helps, though transient and unimaginably insignificant in the grad scheme, hearts are guaranteed eternal Spiritual inheritance.

The lost of the elect must be won through broad and active love. In love the light of the church should shine before men that they may see good works and give glory to the Father in heaven. Yet evangelistically speaking we must consider what sort of love this is. The church’s love for the unbelieving world will always imply antithesis. We can be inclined to understand this love by which we are to adorn the gospel to be merely a coming alongside unbelievers in humanitarian initiatives which they will applaud and be thereby drawn by attraction into our midst. Loving the lost, however, is always loving one’s enemies in a real sense as it necessarily (if it is love at all) involves calling them to repent and be won through Jesus to the Lord, the true and only source of love whom they despise. Secular humanitarianism can be blasphemous as it seeks (in futility) to remedy the divinely imposed curse on human sin through human means and achieve glory and shalom apart from the God who promises Sabbath and whose central presence and dwelling is absolutely constitutive of what shalom denotes. While outward ecclesiastical acts of mercy may exactly mirror secular humanitarian works, the proclamation of the Word of the gospel of God and the offer of the sacrament, both of which must accompany the ecclesiastical acts of mercy, bring home the antithesis. Ecclesiastical acts of mercy are ancillary means to the end of conscionable hearing and effective appropriation of Word and sacrament calling the world back to the triune God it tries to avoid. Secular humanitarian efforts are an end in themselves. Thus, our acts of mercy clash head on with the humanitarian agenda and the loving works by which we adorn the gospel overcome the self-serving works of fleshly humanitarianism rather than assimilating them. (Yet as we are to seek the general well-being of all humanity, and seek to preserve as far as we can the common grace stage of God’s outworking of redemption, we should affirm secular humanitarian efforts since the external form and effect preserves God’s image in man and is advantageous to the gospel)

So ecclesiastical acts of mercy toward unbelievers are means to the end of gospel proclamation and spiritual salvation and deliverance. Yet they are necessarily concomitant means to this end. We cannot perform meaningful acts of mercy toward the lost without the explicit proclamation of the gospel of Jesus. Yet we cannot give meaningful proclamation of the gospel Jesus without acts of mercy toward the lost. We must pursue a middle way between the social gospel and the sectarian withdrawal gospel. Evangelism: Doing justice and preaching grace! (Harvie Conn’s title)

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Refutation of Theonomy Part 3

A Refutation of the Theological Arguments used to support Theonomy

This is my third post on refuting theonomy. In this post I plan to take a look at one of the strongest arguments in favor of the theonomic position. This argument is more of a systematic/philosophical argument than a textual argument. I believe if this line of argumentation were valid and sound then we would have good reason for accepting theonomy. However, I will argue that this line of argumentation is not sound and thus we have no good reason for accepting it.

The argument goes something like this:

P1: If theonomic principle were false then we could not know that an action x is ethically wrong.

P2: Action x is ethically wrong

C: Hence, the theonomic principle is true

The theonomic principle used in this argument is this: We ought to assume that all of the laws in the Mosaic covenant carry over into the New Covenant of Grace unless it is abrogated or done away with in the New Covenant. The essence of the argumentation here is that the new covenant laws alone are insufficient given a reasonable Christian conception of ethics. The example that Greg L. Bahnsen, the champion of theonomy, famously gave was this: If theonomy were false then you could not ethically condemn bestiality (inappropriate sexual relations with a animal), but Christians seem to know that bestiality is wrong, therefore, theonomy is the way we know bestiality is ethically wrong attesting to the fact that theonomy is true.

In response to this argument: I would suggest that the person who does not embrace theonomy ought to reject premise 1. We can know that actions are wrong apart from the written moral law and the Bible attests to this fact (Rom. 1:32; 2:14-15). In Christian theology, the view point that we can know moral truths apart from the written word is called natural law. In natural law we can simply see which actions are morally right and which actions are morally wrong. We may at times suppress this intuition, but we know it nonetheless.

The Biblical support for this view point as I have mentioned previously is Romans 2:14-15:

Romans 2:14-15 "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them."

The Gentiles who do not have the Law of Moses like the Jews still know what actions are right or wrong, as this passage teaches clearly.

Therefore, the new covenant Christian can say that he knows that bestiality is wrong on the basis of the natural law and this need not be affirmed explicitly in the New Testament but rather implicitly through the new testaments teaching on natural law. The inference pattern would look like this:

P1: I can only know a moral action x is wrong by what the Bible teaches either explicitly or implicitly through necessary inference

P2: The Bible teaches that we can know moral truths apart from the Bible through the revealed law given to the conscious of men

P3: It has been revealed to my conscious that an action x is wrong

C: Hence, I know that an action x is ethically wrong.

Natural Law gets us out of this theonomic argument. However, it seems to me that natural law itself can also give us an argument against theonomy. This argument in a sense turns the tables on the argument used to support theonomy. The thing that motivates the first argument is the rejection of natural law, but I will argue this theonomic rejection of natural law leads the theonomist to the position that they cannot know certain ethically wrong actions. The argument goes like this:

P1: A rejection of natural law entails that one cannot know that an action x is ethically wrong

P2: We know that an action x is ethically wrong

P3: A position that entails a rejection of natural law is false (from 2)

P4: The Theonomic position rejects natural law

C: Hence, the Theonomic position is false (from 2, 3, and 4)

One of the essential tenets of theonomic position is a rejection of natural law and so this argument proves that natural law has to be true in order for us to know certain moral truths. This entails that the theonomic position is then false because of it’s rejection of natural law. The sort of moral truths that we know through natural law but do not appear on the pages of scripture are things like inappropriate sexual relations with inanimate objects and having impure sexual thoughts about cartoon pornography. These things are obvious moral abominations, but we do not find them referenced as ethically wrong in the Bible. You could say that we know them through the Bible through a necessary inference from natural law (which is taught in the Bible). But you cannot find them referenced as morally wrong actions in the Old and New Testament. Therefore, on the theonomic principle you could not know that it is wrong to look at cartoon pornography or having inappropriate sexual relations with inanimate objects. And clearly this is absurd because these sorts of actions are clearly wrong in the eyes of God.


I will conclude that the main theological argument that theonomy offers is not sound given a robust understanding of natural law as revealed in God’s word and if this theological argument was consistently pursued by the theonomy it would also disprove theonomy.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Refutation of Theonomy Part 2

Part 2: A Refutation of the arguments in favor of Theonomy

In my last post I offered positive biblical reasons for doubting Theonomy, so I thought it would be only fair to look at the biblical reasons that theonomist use to support their position and then to refute the theonomic view of those biblical texts.

In the next post I will deal with some theological arguments that theonomists give.

I will start with the most popular argument given by theonomists from Matthew 5:17, it reads:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to *fulfill* them.

Explanation: The theonomists wants to translated the Greek word *pleroo* as uphold or establish. Thus, the reading of this text would look something like this: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to uphold (pleroo) them. Thus, from this text the theonomists establishes the principle that we are to bring over the Mosaic laws unless they are abrogated in the New Covenant. The problem with this is that this Greek word throughout Matthews Gospel is not used in this way. In fact throughout Matthews Gospel "pleroo" consistently means brought to true meaning in the redemptive historical sense or prophetic fulfillment of some kind (Matt. 1:22;2:15;3:15;5:17;13:35;21:4;21:22). The theonomists has one good response to this sort of objection, they say that the word abolish followed by a "but" suggests a antithesis or a definite contrast and thus the only contrast to abolish is uphold or establish. The problem with this is that Jesus could not necessarily be saying something the opposite but merely something different. For example, If I say I did not come to eat dinner with you but I came to tell you a quick joke. Here we see that a "but" does not mean necessarily complete opposites, but rather indicating that you are simply doing something different (Thanks to Professor Steven M. Baugh for this Point). Jesus in Matthew 5:17 is doing something different than abolishing the law rather Jesus is bringing the law to eschatological completion, or to put it more simply: Jesus is fulfilling the law by bringing out it's true purpose and meaning. Thus, given the context of Matthews Gospel and a few other clarifications we see that there is no reason why we should take this passage the way the theonomists takes it especially when it contradicts clearer scripture (Heb. 8:13; 2 Cor. 3).

Hebrews 2:2-3 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,

Explanation: Theonomists try to say that the argument being made here is that the Mosaic Law gave just punishments to the people under it then how much worse is the just punishment going to be if we disobey the New Covenant. The theonomists believes that if the non-theonomic view point were true then it would have to make nonsense out of the text in this specific fashion: The Mosaic covenant was only just for a little while and then it became abolished and failed to be just so then the punishment we will receive from the new covenant for disobeying it will also be abolished and fail to be just. The reason they think this is because they believe that the author is making an argument from the lesser to the greater. A argument like this looks something like this: If a lesser x is true then how much more is the greater y true. I want to start off saying that I agree with the theonomists that this verse is arguing from the lesser from the greater like Hebrews 10:26-30. However, I do believe that a non-theonomists can affirm this argument that the author of Hebrews is making without believing in theonomy. In the situation of the Mosaic covenant it was just to execute people for committing adultery and I think given those circumstances it will always be just. However, since we are in a different ethical circumstances of the new covenant our moral obligations are different. But that is fundamentally different from saying that the Mosaic covenant that God established in those circumstances were unjust. Rather what the non-theonomists ought to affirm is that they will always be just in those circumstances, but those circumstances will never obtain again because we are now under a new covenant and the old is faded away (Heb. 8:13).

Matthew 15:4-6: For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' 5 But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, 6 he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

Explanation: The theonomists wants to say that Jesus here is affirming the death penalty from a part of the Mosaic law. Even if this were true this would not prove the entire thesis of theonomy; which is that there is a presumed continuity between the new covenant and the Mosaic covenant. But suppose we were to forget about those two points, does this passage teach that Jesus is bringing over a part of the Mosaic law, specifically a law that says we ought to execute our children if they disobey us? All Jesus seems to be doing here is showing how the religious leaders are hypocritical and inconsistent with the Mosaic law they say they follow. Far from this being an endorsement of executing disobedient children this is more a condemnation on the religious leadership in Jesus' day.

Romans 3:31 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Explanation: Theonomists see this as support for Matthew 5:17 as being another reference to the idea that there is a presumed continuity between the Mosaic covenant and the new covenant. However, the Greek word nomos does not mean the Mosaic law here since that is clearly abolished elsewhere in Paul (Rom. 6:14;2 Cor. 3). Rather, this verse in context is talking about how we as Christians should not just forget about following the law of God revealed in the New covenant because we have been justified by faith so now we should obey the law. This obedience to the law of God is a rule for sanctification that is produced by gratitude for what Christ has done for us. In Reformed theology this use of the law is called the third use. Paul is teaching the third use of the law rather than bringing the covenant of Moses into the covenant earned by Christ.

Romans 13:1-4 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

Explanation: Theonomists see this passage as suggesting that there ought to be state laws that are right and wrong in order for the secular authorities to have been instituted by God and able to justly punish guilty individuals. They argue that the non-theonomists cannot offer a objective standard of right or wrong in the realm of the state so we therefore have to go to the law of Moses as our standard for how a state ought to function. The problem with this argument is that the non-theonomists do have a standard by which they can determine wrong or right state laws, this law is called natural law. Natural law is taught twice in the book of Romans (1:32;2:14). Natural law is the general law revealed to all humanity that enables them to know the difference between right or wrong. With this understanding of natural law we see that the theonomists has no argument to offer with this verse.

In Conclusion:

We have seen that the biblical arguments given for theonomy are altogether unconvincing and unreasonable. However, there are more theological arguments that theonomist offer that I will deal with in the next post.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Refutation of Theonomy Part 1

Theonomy is the position that there is a presumed continuity between the Mosaic covenant and the New Covenant of Grace. This presumed continuity entails that all Mosaic laws that are not abrogated in the New Covenant ought to be carried over. The theonomists would of course see the ceremonial laws as completely abolished in Jesus Christ because this is what the New Testament teaches according to orthodox Christianity. The intended result of theonomy is to allow for a great deal of judicial laws and some other laws to be carried into the New Covenant. A judicial law is a law that ought to be carried out by the magistrate or the state. This would be like economic laws and laws concerning the death penalty. Basically, these laws govern what the state ought to do. Here is an example of one such law in the Mosaic covenant:

Exodus 22:18 "You shall not permit a sorceress to live.

In the Mosaic economy one of the judicial laws was that all Sorceresses were to be executed and so now, says the theonomists, the law should be to execute all sorceresses.

I will argue that theonomy is taught against in Bible and I will refute all of the verses that theonomists uses to establish his/her position. This a rather large task so this will take me about three posts to flush out.

My position, to be clear, is that there is a presumed discontinuity between the Mosaic and the new covenant of Grace. My principle: A Law is to be carried over to the New Covenant if and only if it is repeated in the New Testament which is the entire context of the new covenant inauguration. To put it more simply: If the Law from the Mosaic covenant is not repeated in the New Testament then it is abrogated or abolished.

In This post I will seek to establish my position which entails the denial of the theonomic position and then in the next post I will refute all of the verse that the theonomists uses to positively support his/her position.

Argument 1:

Hebrews 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.


Here in Hebrews 8 the author is commenting on the New Covenant spoken by the prophet Jeremiah and he is saying that when Jeremiah even spoke of the New Covenant the Mosaic covenant was obsolete and growing old which is going vanish away. Theonomists try to say that this is only referring to the ceremonial law. However, Jeremiah or the author of Hebrews never makes this distinction in the text and he is speaking of the Mosaic covenant as a whole (Heb. 8:7-10).

Argument 2:

2 Corinthians 3:9-13 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end.


Here Paul is saying that both the glory and the Mosaic covenant was being brought to an end once the permanent surpassing glory of the New Covenant comes. Notice again, the text does not bring up distinguishable elements of Mosaic economy such as the ceremonial laws and sacrifices and so we ought to assume that this is referring to the entire Mosaic covenant as a whole.

Argument 3:

Romans 6:14 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Explanation: When the word law or nomos in the Greek is used here it cannot be in reference to the believer following God’s moral laws or the third use of the law because Paul elsewhere in the book of Romans tells us that we ought to follow God’s moral commands as a guide for sanctification (Rom. 3:31). This also cannot be referring to the covenant of works made with Adam because there was no sin prior to the fall in which the first covenant of works was made prior to the fall. It seems then that nomos or law here can only be referring to the Mosaic covenant. This suggests that we are no longer under the Mosaic covenant as a whole or in part, but only under the New and if we are under the New then there is no reason to follow the laws of the old mosaic covenant unless of course they are repeated in the New.


I have shown that given these three biblical texts that theonomy is not biblical. Because it is taught against in God’s word the church should teach against it. We should strongly teach against the theonomists notion that the abolished Mosaic covenant laws are binding on the New Covenant believer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Can you Lose your Salvation?

I believe the Bible clearly teaches the Reformed Doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, which means that those who are saved will by no means lose their salvation, rather they will preserver until the end. In this post I will provide biblical reasons for thinking this is the case and I will provide a defense against reasons for not thinking that this is the case.

The Bible clearly teaches in many places that you cannot lose your salvation:

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

All those who are drawn and come to God will be raised up on the last day. The term last day in the context of John 6 refers to the resurrection of glory (John 6:40). Which leads me to the next verse:

John 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

John 10:28-29 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

No one can snatch those who have salvation out of the Father's and the Son's hand.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Paul, the inspired apostle, here says that the believers who God has begun a good work in will in fact make it on the last day.

1 Corinthians 1:8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is saying that God will sustain believers until the end. Notice the word guiltless here. This is quite a stab at christian denominations and groups that say a believer can have guilt before God at any point.

Romans 8:28-30 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

All those who are justified are glorified. Justification in the context of Romans refers to a event in the when one first receives righteousness and hence salvation (Rom. 3:20-25; 4:1-13). Paul is saying here that those who receive justification will in fact be glorified on the last day and given the context we have no reason to think that this glorious chain of redemption can be broken. This is even more evident when one reads the proceeding context which stresses that nothing can seperate the elect or saved from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31-39), which is another clear proof of the doctrine of perseverance of the saints.

Now what about the objections to this biblical doctrine?

Well the most common objection to this doctrine is surprisingly philosophical in orientation, it goes something like this:

P1: If I have experienced S who went to x:church, y:professed faith, and z:had works for a long time T and at a future time T1 ceased from doing x, y, and z then S has lost his salvation.

P2: I have experienced S who did x,y, and z for a long time T and at a future time T1 ceased from doing x,y, and z.

C: Therefore, S has lost his salvation

The problem with this argument is premise 1. Someone can cease from doing x, y, and z and could of never been saved to begin with. The presence of x, y, and z does not necessitate the presence of salvation because someone could have man made reasons and intentions for doing x,y, and z and people could not be aware of those intentions and reasons. But this in no way defeats perseverance of the saints because it states that one cannot lose their salvation which is wrought by God alone, but surely someone can for other reasons stop performing x,y, and z.

Now lets take a look at the biblical arguments against this position:

I will respond to each of these arguments by what is called the Reformed covenantal view point, which is to say: People can loose their membership within the covenant community, but that the covenant community is not synonymous with ones salvation. For surely one can be in the covenant community and not have salvation (Romans (9:6).

Lets take this approach from a few of the supposed falling away passages:

Hebrews 10:29-31 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

This verse is teaching that if one falls away from the covenant community permanently that they will obtain more guilt than had they not been in the covenant community.

This verse would be teaching the same:

Hebrews 6:4-9 4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. 9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things- things that belong to salvation.

John 15 would also be teaching this as well:

John 15:1-2 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

This verse teaches that those who do not produce fruit in the covenant community will eventually be cut off and this is made evident by them not producing x, y, and z.

Romans 11:17-22 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

This verse teaches that the Jews were cut off from the covenant community and that if the gentiles do not continue in the faith then there will be some day in which they are cut off from the covenant community. But you might say "well if one being in the covenant community is dependent on faith then how can you avoid the fact that this passages is referring to ones loss of individual salvation". My response to this is that a gentile parent could baptize their child in the covenant community and then their child could have never believed in the first place but stayed in the covenant community and then that unbelieving parent had children and baptized them out of tradition and then the children of that parent has no Godly influence and thus remains a non-believer and this could continue on until the entire cooperate unit would be cut off covenantally. In this way you can have a sort of cooperate breaking off of the covenant community without it effecting one's individual salvation.


Thus, given the covenantal understanding of these verses and the strong passages we have in support of perseverance of the saint we have to conclude that the answer to the question of whether or not one can lose their salvation has to be a confident No.