Thursday, January 19, 2012

"P" - Perseverance of the Saints: Summary and Thoughts

I'm currently reading through the books For Calvinism by Michael Horton and Against Calvinism by Roger E. Olson.  This post is one of a series of posts where I discuss the thoughts, impressions, and questions that surface during this study.  Click here for the first post in this series.

Olson finishes up his tour of Calvinism (by way of "TULIP") in chapter 3 by describing perseverance of the saints (the "P" in TULIP).  He defines it like this:

[A] truly elect person cannot ever be finally or fully lost because God will keep him or her from falling. (pp. 53)

I agree with Olson that this is by far the least objectionable doctrine in TULIP because it reflects little (if any) on the character of God.  I have often been puzzled by this doctrine, simply because it is completely self-fulfilling (at least from our perspective) and provides little comfort or utility in the life of a believer or non-believer.  Many examples can be given of "solid" Christians giving up their faith, and in these cases I often hear statements like "they either were not a genuine believer, or they will come back around eventually"...  In either case, the doctrine is useless and provides little comfort.

I'm sure some people disagree; Perhaps someone who is absolutely sure of their salvation might see this as assurance that this will never change.  But in that case, this assurance is only as sure as their belief that they are actually saved.  In other words, telling someone that they can never loose their salvation is only comforting in as much as that person is sure they are actually saved.  I've never seen this doctrine as adding anything to ones assurance that they'll end up in heaven someday.

Anyway, that end's Olson's tour of what he calls "Mere Calvinism", by way of the TULIP acrostic.


Vengiletti said...

I don't believe in election, because I don't believe God preselects who is to be saved out of millions. However, if you replace the word election with salvation - now that makes it an entirely different issue - The question of whether or not salvation (how ever it is obtained) can be lost.

John Wesley believed, if my sources are correct, that salvation could be lost. Is that what you are saying as well?

Joe said...

I don't think I was saying either way, but Olsons book says this:

"Wesley and his followers... rejected it (Perserverance of the saints) on the basis of Scriptures such as Hebrews 6."

He doesn't give a source, so this must be pretty common knowledge.

Joe said...

"P" follows pretty naturally from "U" and "L" and "I" so I guess for me it depends on the validity of those... I just see it as a logical consequence of these other three (Particularly "U") and not as much as a stand-alone doctrine to be evaluated.

Wilkimist said...

Guess I was never actually saved then. But nice for god to simply allow people to be self deceived and to deceive others of their salvation. I agree with you Joe it is a doctrine of self fulfilling prophecy only meant to comfort those that continue to believe.