Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Post-Calvinism: Exhortation

posted by xscot mcknight

The Warning Passages of Hebrews, which have vexed both ordinary Christians and professional scholars for centuries, have four elements: the audience, the sin, the exhortation, and the consequences. Our blog today will look at the exhortation. In my own journey, this topic was more critical than I realized, and it is more important than many seem to think. Perseverance is the issue.

Here are some terms the author uses for what he expects his audience to do instead of falling away:
2:1: pay attention
3:6, 14; 10:23: hold on
3:13: encourage one another
4:1: let us fear
4:11: let us strive hard
4:14: let us hold fast
6:1: let us carry on to perfection
10:35: do not cast away your confidence
10:36: you need perseverance
12:1: le us run with perseverance
12:7: endure hardship
12:12: strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees
12:15: see to it that no one misses the grace of God
12:25: see to it that you do not refuse

If we chose one term to put this all into one it would be either “perseverance” or “faithfulness.” This is both mental and personal: one both knows that God is faithful and one actively surrenders to God’s grace and empowerment.

Both Calvinists and Arminians agree on this point: each person needs to persevere. The oddest thing has happened in American Evangelicalism: it has taught, whether aloud or not, the idea of “once saved, always saved” as if perseverance were not needed. In other words, it has taught that if a person has crossed the threshold but then decides to abandon living for Christ, that person is eternally secure. This is rubbish. Perseverance is an indicator of what faith is all about: a relationship that continues, that is marked by steady love. No one equates marriage with a wedding day statement of intent, and no one should equate faith with a decision.

What does it mean to persevere? It means that we continue to believe, that we live like it. It doesn’t mean sinlessness; it doesn’t mean that we are some steady incline into sanctification; it does not deny stumbling or messy spirituality. It doesn’t deny doubt and problems. It simply means that the person continues to walk with Jesus and doesn’t walk away from him.

Our next two blogs are big ones: what is the sin and who is the audience?



Advertisement
Comments read comments(20)
post a comment
Gloria

posted August 1, 2005 at 8:43 am


I keep thinking about the parable of the farmer and his seed. Does that connect in anyway?



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2005 at 8:48 am


Yes, it probably does. The good seed is the persevering seed? What do you think?



report abuse
 

John Frye

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:12 am


Scot, so within this framework could we say that assurance is conditional? There is no blanket “once saved, always saved,” but you have assurance only as you walk with Jesus (however fitfully) and not away from him. I’m so glad you use marriage as the metaphor. It so readily exposes the theological myths around salvation.



report abuse
 

S.

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:25 am


Please, John Gill isn’t anonymous. I posted a link to his very (unusually) brief overview of the Book of Hebrews regarding this question of perseverance awhile back. Here it is. I understand my own comments being deleted, but the link to Gill didn’t deserve to be lost just because he came with me into the blog. It’s worth throwing into the mix…



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:38 am


Assurance is conditional since it is normally seen as a subjective state within the believer.



report abuse
 

graham old

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:43 am


John, I’ve always thought of it as — I have the assurance that I’m not gonna drown as long as I’m in the boat.A question that always challenges me is, what exactly are we seeking assurance of? Sorry, forgot whose blog this was for a minute! :-)



report abuse
 

Bob

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:44 am


Scot, I really like the marriage metaphor, too–something we can hold onto that holds up pretty well. When we get married, we take a vow/make a commitment and our status changes from married to single. That change of status doesn’t define marriage (as you said) but dictates the focus of future life–two becoming one. In salvation, we have been rescued from the dominion of darkness. We are a new creation, changed from slaves to sons. Becoming one in Him. But who is the good spouse? Who is the good son?It isn’t a meritorous perseverance but a fitting response to the commitment made. There is no turning back.



report abuse
 

J. B. Hood

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:47 am


Goodacre just posted this:http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/hebrews2006I say we all pitch in and send Scot over! Scot, great posts, and i love the autobiographical nature. I don’t think evangelicalism has completely missed the boat on faithfulness/perseverance, but, as with personal righteousness (viz. imputed righteousness; Rev 19:7-8), most sectors seemed to have relegated it to a footnote in the smallest possible font. Which means many, many lay people (and some “professionals”) miss it.Maybe a blog on what illustrates/proves assurance in our lives (I Jn 3:16-23)?



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:50 am


John Gill,We hear you saying that Hebrews does teach preservation, unlike Mr Barrow who thinks Hebrews teaches that one can be finally lost who was once a believer (?). Since he denies perseverance, he must mean that the believer can fall away and that would mean a denial of perseverance. Which means he must equate perseverance with the elect being preserved.The issue, Mr. Gill, is there evidence that one can distinguish between the true believer and the not-true believer in Hebrews?



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:52 am


JB Hood,Thanks for this. I did get this in my e-mail this morning, too.I’m all for being pitched in to go to St Andrews, which I’m sure you understand — to play golf!?



report abuse
 

S.

posted August 1, 2005 at 10:27 am


Hm. I see it now! You’re an Arminian.This, afterall (slapping forehead) is what you’ve been trying to explain… OK. There are many of you…



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2005 at 10:43 am


S.,Were you formerly blogging under the name of Tooaugust?



report abuse
 

C. Baruch

posted August 1, 2005 at 11:26 am


Once, as a seminary student, I started a research paper on Eternal Security (which I never completed). When looking up a passage in Calvin’s Commentaries (I forget which passage, but it was a key one in the argument), I was surprised to find that John Calvin didn’t believe in Eternal Security. What he seemed to be saying was that one could have true faith, and yet not be one of those predestined for salvation. If that were the case, he/she would actually be predestined to fall away.



report abuse
 

Scott

posted August 1, 2005 at 12:24 pm


Thanks for pulling the thread through Hebrews. That was a helpful analysis of the place of perserverance in our salvation. I think the marriage analogy is helpful in this regard.As to the ongoing Assurance/Insurance debate, do you think the debate itself somewhat reflects a certain American sentiment, since we are such a security societ that, seemingly, has insurance for everything?



report abuse
 

Gerald

posted August 1, 2005 at 12:44 pm


The oddest thing has happened in American Evangelicalism: it has taught, whether aloud or not, the idea of “once saved, always saved” as if perseverance were not needed.My MA thesis (Augustine and the Justification Debates: Did Calvin Step too far in the Right Direction?) is primarily written to address this “oddest thing.” I argue (and of course, convincingly I think) that Calvin’s movement away from Augustine regarding the doctrine of justification opened the door for the contemporary “Free Grace” sotieriology of Charles Ryrie and the Dallas Theological Seminary crowd. The widespread decimation of this perspective is amazing. As I argue in my thesis, a line of continuity can be drawn from Calvin to Charles Hodge, Hodge to Lewis Sperry Chafer, and Chafer to Charles Ryrie (who explicitly teaches this “odd” view). Without question, Ryrie bases his “free grace” sotieriology on the Reformed doctrine of justification, and it could not stand without it (though it requires dispensationalism’s separation of Israel and the Church as well—which is why you don’t see such a view until the rise of dispensationalism in the late 1800s).This too is one of the reasons that I’ve moved from Calvin to Augustine–Augustine’s doctrine of justification does not readily lend itself to the “free grace” position.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2005 at 1:39 pm


Gerald,Thanks for this. I suspect then, that the Arminian leanings I have are as much Augustinian as they are anything elese. Which would make me happier.



report abuse
 

John Frye

posted August 1, 2005 at 1:56 pm


Scot, you write, “Assurance is conditional since it is normally seen as a subjective state within the believer.” Aren’t there some who teach an assurance of salvation as a propositional fact apart from “the subjective state within the believer”? Just like we are declared righteous, we are declared assured (of eternity).



report abuse
 

S.

posted August 1, 2005 at 2:01 pm


Were you formerly blogging under the name of Tooaugust?No. I just learned of your blog, and current posts on your change, from Steve Hays’ Triablogue. If you havn’t already go to the link and see what he’s written about you, if you have interest.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2005 at 3:08 pm


John,The doctrine of assurance, as it was classically taught by the Puritans and as it is presently understood are miles apart. Most seem to think that a judicial declaration should determine a subjective confidence, and I can see the logic.But the Puritans didn’t teach it this way; it was more about assurance of being one of the Elect.



report abuse
 

Beyond The Rim...

posted August 2, 2005 at 7:57 am


To me, the classical statement on assurance is made by Paul in the fourth chapter of Philippians. After telling them to stand firm in verse 1 (your point) he says in verse 7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That peace is our assurance, guarding our hearts and mind in our salvation in Christ Jesus. He later explains how one can stand firm in that assurance. In verse 13 he says, “I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength.” Paul appears to have the same key, standing firm, and when that is done assurance comes in the peace of God applied to our hearts and minds and strength to continue comes from Christ Jesus our Lord.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.