I have often said that it is easier to tell when someone is a true Christian than to tell when they are not. In other words, some people wear their convictions on their sleeve. The power of the Holy Spirit could not be more clearly visible. With these people, their passion, understanding, grace, humility, and faith are clearly evident in everything they do. I know and can state with a great degree of confidence that they trust in Christ and are saved. They are in the race and they are running. For others, however, it is more difficult to tell. They may say they are saved, but I do not have the same degree of confidence. They may be convinced, but I am not. I am not asserting they are not saved. I just don’t know. Some people live in a perpetual state of doubt, failure, and terrible sin. They may be in the race, but they are not running. However, even when they are at their worst, I cannot confidently say that they are not saved any more than I can say that the previous individuals are saved.

Many people contact me, because they are overwhelmed with the fear that they are not saved. They seek assurance from me that God has saved them. My background, training, and tradition all push me to reassure them in the attempt to alleviate their doubts and fears to the end that they are secure in their salvation and can never lose this security. After all, I believe that without security, we have never really embraced the fullness of the Gospel message.

However, there is a flip side to this coin. And it is this other side that I wish to address.

I have someone who I can’t figure out. Conversations with him are always very frustrating. I just want to crack his head open and see what is inside. I want to gaze where only God can see. I want to know if he really knows Christ. My heart says, “I hope!” but my mind says, “I don’t know. I doubt it.”

If you were to look at the life of this friend, you would not suspect that he has ever approached the throne room of God. You would not suspect that he has ever bowed humbly at the cross, understood his own condition, or asked the Lord for mercy. I have never seen him read his Bible, and I have never heard him honor Christ with his words. His life appears to be a never-ending pursuit of what the world has to offer. Moreover, this attitude shows evidence of trying to maintain complete control over his emotional state. Comforting him with spiritual talk is a seemingly futile exercise, especially when I receive a ridiculing gaze and awkward silence when I attempt to discuss the issue with him.

Yet, when push comes to shove, this guy will give me his testimony. Every once in a while he will tell me why I don’t need to be worried about his spiritual condition. He will confidently tell me of the time when he was twelve years old and walked the aisle at Church to accept the Gospel. Once his tale is complete, he has exhausted his ability to have a spiritual conversation and an awkward silence ensues.

Is this guy saved? Can it be that he sincerely walked the aisle so long ago, yet has not flexed a spiritual muscle since? Why is he so secure in his salvation?

In his office, there is one spiritual relic. It is an old piece of paper that hangs prominently by his desk entitled “The Believer’s Security.” On it are listed all of the passages of Scripture that give assurance that a believer cannot lose their salvation. This unqualified doctrine was something that he was taught immediately after his saving experience. This is what he banks on every day.

I have changed quite a bit over the years with regards to the doctrine often called “eternal security” or “once saved, always saved.” Don’t start squirming, fellow Calvinists, there are not many things I believe in more strongly than the ultimate security of salvation. But I do believe there are some people who may need to squirm. I believe there are some people whose eternal destiny depends on their own insecurity.

I am going to tell the “Parable of the Race.” You may have heard it before, but I am going to modify it somewhat for our purposes.

“In a town of ultimate boredom called Mundane, there was a great announcement. It was the announcement of a race. A great race that all could enter. A race that would rescue them from boredom. Most people did not believe that such an event would be held in Mundane so they scoffed. Others immediately prepared with great enthusiasm and joy.

Both the scoffers and the enthusiasts arrived at the appointed place on the day of the race. The scoffers sat and watched while the others prepared to run by stretching and making sure their shoes were tied. They lined up, looking ahead with the intensity, fear, and excitement that accompanied such an event.

The gun sounded and off they went. Yet something very curious and unexplainable happened. They all stopped running after they had passed the starting line. Not only this, but they acted very peculiar. One person fell on his knees crying, thanking God that he crossed the starting line. Others gave each other high fives and hugs, as they shouted, “Hooray, we are now race runners, we are now race runners.” Some shook hands and congratulated each other. One group relaxed and complemented one another on how well they crossed the starting line. Five or six others all gathered together and formed a prayer circle. They prayed that others would cross the starting line as they had.

Many others wanted to experience this joy so they decided to start the race as well. They were immediately stopped by the well-wishers who had started before them. They decided to stay as well. After a few days, there were people handing out pamphlets along with a certificate to all those who crossed the starting line. The pamphlet told them that once they had started the race they were guaranteed to finish. The certificate was to recognize their achievement in finishing the race even before they finished. It became very high on the agenda of all the race runners to make sure that people who had started knew of their assurance of completion. So much so that there was a printing press built right at the starting gate which produced millions of the pamphlets.

After a few months, there were so many who had crossed the starting line that they decided to build a town right there. They called this town “Starting Line Village.”

The spectators were confused. “I thought a race had to be finished,” they said to one another. They interviewed the people of Starting Line Village. “Why did you start the race and not continue?” they would ask. This made the people of Starting Line Village very uncomfortable. They would immediately show their certificate saying that they were guaranteed to finish. When people would encourage them to run the rest of the race, they would be ridiculed for not trusting the pamphlet. They were called legalists and were accused of trusting too much in their own ability to finish the race rather than the words on the pamphlet.

Finally, many of the watchers in the crowd became fed up with those in Starting Line Village and decided to run the race themselves with the intent to finish. They refused the certificates and left the people of Starting Line Village to hand out the pamphlets alone.”

This parable illustrates a problem that we have in the church today. There are many people who are very comfortable in the profession of faith they made so long ago. So comfortable, in fact, that they never make any further moves in their walk with God. Like my friend, they rely upon the “once saved, always saved” doctrine that they were taught immediately upon conversion. They have crossed the starting line, but are definitely not running the race.

I don’t have a problem with teaching “once saved, always saved,” but I think we need to qualify it a great deal. I know, qualifying our own security seems very counterproductive. Let me be plain and clear. The doctrine of God’s grace is radical. It is absolutely radical. It is unbelievably radical. God gives us an unspeakable gift free of charge. We don’t owe God anything for it. It is not on layaway. In fact, it would be very offensive to God for us to even try to pay for it. It is priceless. Yet this gift, from a human point of view, is received by faith. Faith is the evidence of our salvation. It is the instrumental cause of our salvation. Faith is the evidence that we have entered the race. But what we fail to emphasize is often more destructive to the Christian faith than not telling the Gospel at all. We fail to tell people that there is a false kind of faith. There is a faith that crosses the starting line, but never completes the race. There is a faith that does not save.

Paul encourages the Corinthians:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5)

The author of Hebrews says:

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” (Heb. 4:1)

In Revelation, only those who overcome are promised eternal life:

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7; emphasis mine)

James speaks about a faith that does not save:

“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (Jam. 2:14)

Remember in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, there are three types of seeds that sprout (start the race), but only one truly takes root (finishes the race).

And time will fail us if we try to recount all the false prophets of false hope in the Old Testament. These are the ones who were continually telling the Israelites of their own security when destruction was right around the corner.

I believe that once a person is truly saved, he or she will never lose that salvation. Yet I think we need to warn people that not all faith is true faith.

If you have crossed the starting line, great! Bravo, hooray, and congrats. But from a human point of view, this does not guarantee that you will cross the finish line. I am sorry, but I do no service to you by trying to immediately tell you that your faith is true. I don’t know if it is. The doctrine is not really called “Once Saved, Always Saved,” but is more accurately described as “Perseverance of the Saints.” I think  we need to get away from calling it “once saved, always saved.” I don’t like it. From God’s point of view, your salvation is protected. You are his child, elect of God, and nothing can change that. But from our perspective, you are his child if you are trusting in him. Is your faith persevering? It is not about whether you can recount a time in the past when you trusted him once. It is about whether or not you are in his family and are trusting him now. We are called believers, not because we believed, but because we believe.

We all need to question whether or not our faith is the kind of faith that saves. We do a great disservice to the Gospel when we make it our top priority to immediately alleviate any anxiety or doubt of salvation in those who profess faith. We may be giving them a false sense of security that they will take to their grave. This may be what happens to my friend. I fear the worst. On the day of judgment, will he say “Lord, Lord, didn’t I cross the starting line? Wasn’t I a race runner?” only to hear Jesus respond, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”

There is a healthy tension concerning our salvation that should follow us our entire Christian walk.

If you are saved, part of the Gospel message is that you can be assured of your salvation (1 John 5:13). God wants you to know it. However, I don’t want anyone to be assured of something that is not true. Unfortunately, I believe there are a lot of people who are.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    153 replies to "This Calvinist’s Problem with “Once Saved, Always Saved”"

    • Carl Johnson

      In the 70s, I embraced an idea referred to as the Doctorine of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The accepted premise of that was that a person cannot be saved apart from the Lordship of Jesus Christ. During that time a lot of people’s salvation was questioned if they did not lead a visibly changed life, i.e. in church anytime the doors were opened, regular Bible study, visitation, etc. Sounds a bit like legalism when I think back on it.

      Since then I have been looking upon a relationship with Jesus as possibly a two-step process. First, come unto Me and be saved. Second, give up your right to yourself and follow Me. I tend to agree with some who say that there a lot of Christians who only buy into the “fire escape” clause of Christianity, and never become full-fledged followers of Jesus.

      Does God’s grace allow for someone to call upon His Name and be saved without any other requirements? And, if so, along with this, God continues to work the person to fashion that person in the image of His Son. But, the person yielding to God in this process is purely voluntarily.

    • Sam

      Michael, most of my friends from the Calvinist/Reformed side of the aisle tell me that if one doesn’t finish the race, then that one never really started it anyway. But your illustration asserts that they DID start the race, but failed to complete it. So, in your understanding, if one doesn’t finish the race, exactly what does it mean to have started it?

    • Irene

      Michael, you said,

      “even when they are at their worst, I cannot say with the same degree of confidence that they are not saved than when I can say someone is saved.”

      This the same kind of stance the Catholic Church takes. She can authoritatively announce (not decide, but announce) that someone is surely in heaven. However, she does not have the authority to announce, or the means to know, whether or not someone is in hell.

      She has never announced anyone in particular as being surely in hell, even Judas Iscariot (although that remains the conventional wisdom).

    • JFDU

      May I be the ‘devil’s advocate’ here and make some naïve comments as an outsider to your theology (non-Calvinist) looking in?

      I guess what confuses me about this post Michael is that, as a Calvinist you know that if this person (or others like him) is NOT one of the elect, there is nothing he can do to change his fate. So feeling frustrated about his lack of taking his faith seriously and manifesting SOME signs of true faith, is incongruous and incompatible with your theology IMO.

      If he’s not elected/appointed to salvation, it doesn’t matter whether he ‘gets his act together’ or not. IF you see a positive change in him it MAY signal true faith, if not it MAY mean that he’s doomed for eternity perhaps from the Matt 13:22 or 1 John 2:19 ilk. Either way the outcome is predetermined and fait accompli and any attempt on your part to ‘steer him in the right direction’ will not change that predetermined outcome.

      I am being deliberately FATALISTIC in my argument as you can gather, but stay with me for a minute!

      On the flip side Scripture admonishes us to “to stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24), so in this sense you MAY be God’s appointed means to stir this person up as one who is elect but the evidence of true faith has not yet manifested. This is an equally acceptable option.

      Bottom line (coming back to the fatalistic view), if you are God’s means to stir him/her up, well and good, he/she is elect and that was decided long ago. If not, he/she is doomed for ever and that was ALSO decided long ago. So what I don’t understand (as a non-Calvinist) is HOW can you give them a “a false sense of security” since the outcome is fixed? If he/she IS elect, whether their sense of security is true or false, they ARE secure, period. If he/she is NOT elect, whether their sense of security is true or false, they are NOT secure, period!

      Am I missing something here? (John From Down Under)

    • C Michael Patton

      Sam, yes. But think of it more like the plant did begin to grow in the parable of the soils. Does that help?

    • C Michael Patton


      And without the anathema I agree with the Catholic Church.

    • Marc F

      That is about one of the most well thought out comments I have seen in a long time. Very well written.

    • Surely the doctrine or teaching of God’s Election, are bound up in the clear lines of God’s ‘calling and regeneration, adoption, conversion, faith, justification, renovation, sanctification, and perseverance.’ These terms are applied to the temporal order of causes and effects through which the salvation of the sinner is accomplished. In Reformed theology we call them the “ordo salutis” or order of salvation. Both the Reformed and the Lutherans have developed the idea of the order of salvation. Of course the actual arrangement is different somewhat between them, but in the end the emphasis upon the eternal decree and its execution in time is the issue! GOD will call and save His people, by faith through grace! And too the “elect” will persevere! But again by God’s grace, mercy and faith ‘In Christ’! There is never any perfection here in any believer and Christian.

    • Sam

      Actually, Michael, “the plants in the parable” is one of the things that my friends and I go round and round on. Reform Theology, as it is most often presented to me, says that anyone who fails to persevere (“is choked and dies”, “is withered by the heat and dies”) was never actually saved (“alive and beginning to grow”) in the first place. Not “really” alive anyway — but only giving the illusion of being alive. And that makes the parable senseless. Either they were alive or they weren’t. As my friends are constantly keen to point out to me, there isn’t any “kinda alive”.

      So, per my question and your response, if the plants began to grow, then they WERE alive. They didn’t just appear to be alive, or give the illusion of being alive — they really were alive and growing. And then they weren’t. And that knocks “preservation of the saints” into a cocked hat, unless we say that, as we know, parables can be stretched beyond sensible recognition, and that not every detail is meant to be analogized.

      But then you lose the impact of this essay.

      But, anyway, I don’t intend to argue the whole theology with you in this comment thread. I’m sure I’ll find other things you’ve written on these matters. I’ll look for them again.

      Thanks for the strong continuing work you do for the Kingdom. Next time I’m seeing my family in the Tulsa area (I’m in NC), or finding a way to get to a football game in Norman, I want to try to get to down to Edmond to meet you and see the Credo House in person.

    • JFDU

      I’d be inclined to say ‘thank you’ for your comment Marc F, but give it a few hours and someone as sure as the Lord’s decree is going to take pleasure in raining on my parade…with hailstones 😉

      BTW my intention is not to be cantankerous or antagonistic to CMP but I genuinely find myself confused about these issues once I insert Calvinist theology into the mix. I wish I could see it as clear as others and I’m hoping that one day I will!

    • Btw, note in the Lutheran Orthodoxy, this ‘Way of Salvation’ or “ordo salutis” in which the “gratia spiritus sancti applicatrix” is considered at the different subsequent stages of “fides, praedestinatio, justificato, vocation, illuminatio, regenerato, conversion, renovation, sanctification and unio mystica.” But indeed we can see the weakness of the doctrine of the ordo salutis! Myself, I like Charles Wesley’s hymns here, in his verses the aspects of experience, assurance, Witness of the Spirit, etc., are the ‘bloom, colour, or scent of a single flower’. And it is something more than poetic justice by which Charles Wesley is vindicated: it is the Gospel itself with its concept of the new birth, the author of which is the Spirit, the product of which is faith, and which the brothers in the hour of their conversion had learnt, with Luther’s help, to understand as one divine act, miraculous and complete. “At the same time we are justified, yea in that very moment, sanctification begins. In that instant we are born again, born from above, born of the Spirit.” (J. Wesley) Myself as a neo-Calvinist I can agree somewhat with this, but still nothing happens until God’s Call and Regeneration!

      It is good to see the Holy Scripture itself here, as in Jude 1: 1 ; 24-25.

    • C Michael Patton


      I would love to meet you. I do think you are right that if we were to take this parable in isolation, the idea that they were never saved may be more accommodating.

      However, using the word alive is interesting. I might say that they were alive, but the life that brought their faith was not electing. In other words, as Heb 6 illustrates, there is a faith that falls away, but, from the perspective of God, this would not be the faith that perseveres.

      And, maybe most importantly, I don’t this that this practically works out any different for Calvinists or Arminians. In the end, all we have to assure is is the current standing of our faith today. We are all required and responsible to keep our faith, it is just one side says that when we do it is, ultimately, our own power, the other side says that it is, ultimately, the power of God.

    • C Michael Patton


      Not ignoring. Just have not had a chance to read your 1st comment.

      However, to say that it is clear for people like me is never the case. Yes, Calvinist like to act like once you get it everything comes together, but they are either self deluded or lying. (Or just under peer pressure to act like it all fits.)

      For me, every system has holes, but we choose the system that has the least hole or the ones we can live with. So it is not black and white for any of us. The more one understands about the issues, the more one must become a Tentative Arminian or Calvinist. 🙂

    • I wish we could cover a little more Luther and the Lutherans here, we are sadly theologically ignorant here for the most part! Note Melanchthon and the Lutheran Confessions, with the “Formula Concordiae”!

      And in my own theology, there is not much “Tentative”! 😉 But, I love both Luther and Calvin! Actually perhaps my favorite term is “Reformational”! But even there first comes “catholic”, then “Reformed” and Reformational. 🙂

    • Jin

      What about the parable of the ten virgins??

      Anther obvious parable told by Jesus that salvation CAN be lost!!

      All ten virgins start out with oil and light. However, five do not have enough for the delayed bridegroom. This obviously is talking about the importance of sanctification and the necessity of being vigilant with our faith.

      All ten start out with same promise of salvation. But only those that persevere is saved!

      I humbly submit to you that “salvation” is the sole decision of our Lord. He may extend the invitation to all, but only some may be “worthy” of it. I say “worthy” not in terms of on e’s own works, but in terms of faith, love, and humility.

      LET’S ALL BE HUMBLE BEFORE OUR LORD AND LEAVE THE SALVATION TO HIM. Let us just concentrate on loving each other and loving The Lord.

    • C Michael Patton

      The hardest passage (and the only one that I don’t have a decently satisfying answer for) concerning perseverance is the Parable of the Unjust Steward. He was forgiven by the king and the the king too back the forgiveness after the steward did not forgive his fellow servant. That is scary. Unforgiveness of others, in my opinion, is the most significant way a person can demonstrate their lostness.

      I need to write a blog on this, but it will show my weakness. And among us Calvinists, you can never let others see you sweat. :/)

    • Indeed the Parable of the Ten Virgins is Jewish and Judeo-Christian. But it is a Parable of the Confession of Faith, but only half or five were regenerate!

      Indeed Michael to “forgive” is the very essence of the true Christian life! But we must not and cannot forgive “apostasy”, that is alone the Lord’s to deal with!

    • Selah

      Jesus says to be saved, all you have to do is “ENTER” and/FOLLOW”

      “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9 ESV)

      “…. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:3, 4 NLT)

    • Irene

      Along with the Parable of the Unjust Steward goes the warning to forgive others or the Father will not forgive you.

      Since others continue to sin against us, there must be a continued potential to lose our salvation.

    • theoldadam

      If God would let us go. It would not be because we didn’t forgive someone. (we do that all the time)

      But because we walked away from Him. Didn’t need or want His forgiveness.

    • C Michael Patton


      Obviously I would disagree. But as I said, this is the only passage that I find very hard to fit in. The only thing I would say is that we can’t make a parable have more than one point. This is Blombergs conclusion in what is most certainly the best book on interpreting the parables. And the point is probably just about the seriousness of forgiveness.

      However, and more importantly, there, in my opinion are much clearer passages which teach salvation cannot be lost or, better, the elect will always persevere (a statement that Catholics are free to believe as it does not presume the status of the “believer” see Aquinas). And, when such is the case, we always interpret the obscure with the obvious

      As well, this may come as a surprise to Arminians, but this parable cant speak about the loss of salvation for them either. Arminians only believe that salvation can be lost through a loss of faith, no sin can separate one from God.

      But another important thing you could consider is that Catholics believe an act such as unforgiveness would not be the primary cause of ones loss of salvation. Catholics can, and often do, believe that such acts are expressions of unbelief. Therefore, when you look under the bed, it was actually the unbelief that is the casual sin while the individual mortal sins are merely expressions of unbelief. That would be a much more biblically defensible position in my opinion (even if I still believe it to be wrong ).

      • Dan

        True the unforgiving slave in Matthew 18 is a character in a parable, but the words, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”(Mat 6:14-15 NASB) are hardly from a parable. They are the after words to what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer”. Calvinist, Arminian, Reformed Anything, or Not Anything But A Follower of Jesus; it seems that the Lord expects His “elect” to exercise their “free will” and humbly seek the grace required to forgive others and then do it. To be clear I don’t think Jesus is talking about rescinding anyone’s salvation here.

    • David

      Wow, so many words .. So little understanding.

      Those are Christ’s who have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

      Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.

      Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as He is pure.

      Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps, who committed no sin..

      The bible is very clear about those who belong to Jesus.. Your decisions in temptation show who you belong to- do you have victory over impure thoughts- or do you give in to them? Are you content with the endless cycle of sinning and asking for forgiveness- or would you rather be someone that rules over sin? Hapoy is the man who fears the Lord.
      If you have a longing to be freed from sin, visit [edited by mod. Violation of rules] for more info.

    • Tio Papo

      The starting line is the finish one…There is no “unbelief” after it has been “belief”…you can’t get un-pregnant….can you? No! But what it may be true is that the belief someone profess in not what will get us to heaven, and since no one knows, even if you “open his head up”, this issue of salvation remains a mystery to us, even within us. We can say I believe and I am saved all we want, but it is not the same as saying I know how to ride a bicycle…We can suspect someone’s status as a believer, salvation is God’s territory not ours. We have to focus in how to make the Gospel understood in such a a manner as to bring it to the intellect of the “unbelievers” in a way they can clearly see the truth. As long as we are preaching this calvinistic stuff out there or “works theology” we are really not bringing the gospel to those outside in the best possible way. John 3:16 for me suffices, belief = salvation and John 6:29 “All the father wants of you, is that you believe in me”…And yet another verse (I can’t find it now) says- I love you even though you disobey me, for you have not rejected me- (from my recollection of NLT version)…We can be disobedient kids, yet because we are born to belief, we are still His children!

    • david

      @Tia Papo

      There seems to be some serious flaws in your Christian beliefs!

      The starting line is most definetely not the Finish line!

      Jesus says at the start of John 14: I am the WAY, the truth and the life.
      The Author of the letter to the Hebrews exhorts us to ‘Run with endurance the race that is set before us’
      1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked.

      This is certainly not a passive life of standing on the starting line/finish line or whatever you want to call it!

      In regards to your views on belief – Actions display what you believe in and who you love. If you commit sin in your thoughts, obviously you love your lusts more than Jesus, because Jesus says in John 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.

      Jesus says in Matthew 7: Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and DOES them..
      In Matthew 28 Jesus commands us: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,..teaching them to OBSERVE all things that I have commanded you’

      Your views on disobedient people being God’s children are completely wrong. 1 John 3:6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Verse 8: he who sins is of the devil..

      Clear cut, black and white, blatantly obvious!

      The condition for being a child of God is written in Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if(!!!!) indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified together.

    • Wolf Paul

      @CMP, #12: Do Arminians REALLY claim that a Christian’s perseverance is due to his own strength? Somehow I don’t think so …

      And #12: Isn’t lying under peer pressure still lying? Even if we call it “acting like”?

      @Tio Papo, # 23: One CAN get unpregnant — it’s called miscarriage (involuntary) or abortion (voluntary). I suspect that picking three verses and saying “for me it suffices” is not really sufficient when we don’t deal with the multitude of other verses that seem to paint a differnt picture. That’s “cafeteria hermeneutics”.

      I am not saying that we MUST resolve this, but we do need to be aware of the tension and not pretend it doesn’t exist.

    • a.

      thank you :”

      Eph 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Col 12: 8 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

      2 Tim 2 19a The Lord knows those who are His

      John 16:24b ask in My Name and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. Rom 8:16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God…30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

      Rev 22: 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

    • Selah

      This is the most “off base” blogs I have ever read by Michael.

    • C Michael Patton


      Yes, if I word it right. Both believe God’s grace is a necessary factor. But Arminians believe that their faith and it being kept by them is the deciding factor. That is what I meant by “ultimate” factor. It is inevitable, though it does not sound as glorious as my salvation took me out of the equation. But the act of faith and its keeping are what Armimians believe. Once Fod has done his part, the ultimate factor is now the will of man. Therefore, like it or not, Calvinists can say salvation is all of God to a degree that Arminians cannot. I think it is important for them to admit this as, being the perceived inglorious black eye it may be, it’s “glory” does not make it true.

      It was interesting. This week I spent with Gary Habermas. He does not like Calvinism too much. We began to talk about how the mass majority of exegetes adopt Calvinistic interpretations while the mass majority of Philosophers and Apologists opt for Arminianism. We came to some
      Facinating conclusions, all of which I will not share. But he did say, “it is true, Calvinists have the exegesis behind them, but we have philosophy. And I think libertarianism trumps the exegesis and must determine it.” I said, “So, we have to bring our theology to the text?” “Yes, he responded. The ethical implications of Calvinism are too severe.”

      Gary is an awesome guy who dreams more knowledge than I have ever learned. That being said, I did find it an interesting admission.

    • C Michael Patton


      Please explain so that I might adjust where necessary.

    • C Michael Patton


      You have not missed anything. In fact, your comments are right in line with the diatribe of Romans 9. The imaginary objector (whom Paul was always fond of using) said the exact same thing in not so many words, “So why does he find fault? Who resists his will.” Paul’s response is as good as we get. It the guy had been misunderstanding Paul, Paul would have set the record straight. But he does not. He essentially says “I know it sounds hard. I have no answer. But we have to trust that God knows what he is going with his own. Like Job, place your hand over your mouth and quite indicting your creator. He will not give you the answer you seek. You just have to trust him.”

    • Cynthia

      Great post! The point should be well taken regardless of what one’s theological persuasion on the subject. It is hard to look at other people and judge their salvation…but we can ask ourselves ‘are we truly running the race or did we stop after the starting line?’ What a timely question for us all. As I ponder this for myself the questions I ask are ‘Am I trusting and believing in Jesus and feeling the peace he brings or am I doing the opposite’ and ‘how am I treating others? Am I forgiving, merciful, kind, etc..?’ We all need to be on and do the work it takes to be on theological sound ground or else we may fall victim of cultish beliefs, but staying in the race boils down to simple principles. These principles, however, are not easy for fallen humans to live by. It takes faith and effort on our part to exhibit the qualities that should define Chrisitnas. Sometimes we fail and sometimes we succeed in our efforts making it hard for others to judge us, but where is one’s heart?.. that is a question on the individual can answer for himself. Insipite of what assurance of salvation you may or may not have, I think it is the answer to this/these questions that will be the most telling.

    • I

      in #20 you said,

      “If God would let us go. It would not be because we didn’t forgive someone. (we do that all the time)”

      If we do that all the time, then Jesus’s warnings were aimed at us! We’d better NOT do that all the time! Your claim that God would not withhold forgiveness from us conflicts with the plain, repeated warnings of Jesus.

      Are we to think that Jesus needs a little theology lesson?

      And CMP, from #21,
      I don’t pretend to know Blomberg, but if he says that “the point is probably just about the seriousness of forgiveness,” then I would have to agree with him. Yes, look HOW serious!

      In Matt 6, immediately after teaching the “Lord’s Prayer”, which says “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us”, Jesus clarifies:

      “For if your forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

      AGAIN in Matt 18, at the end of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Jesus explains:

      “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

      ANOTHER, separate occasion, Mark 11, after teaching about the fig tree, Jesus teaches:

      “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

      Are these warnings unclear? Is it just one weird little verse? Could these possibly be categorized under sanctification?

      No. These verses are plain and repeated under differenct circumstances. They make our forgiveness of others a condition of salvation, not a step along sanctification.

      Now do we tell Jesus, “Well, if you were better versed in Calvinist theology, you could have done a better job of explaining that. Let me tell you what you really mean.” ?

    • Irene

      One more addition to my comment above,

      Since the forgiveness of others is a condition that may be met or not met, both now and in the future, we can see that our salvation is not assured, because it is possible we may fail to meet the condition sometime in the future.

    • Cynthia

      I should probably go back and read and study the parable of the guy who was forgiven his debts but turned around and was unforgiving to another in return….but, I would say that perhaps it exemplifies the state of this guys heart more than the fact that he actually sinned. He obviously did not truly internalize the magnitude of what the king did for him in forgiving his debts. If he had, he would not have been so unforgiving over such a small debt. I think we are all guilty of being unforgiving at times, consciously or unconsciously. I am not sure that we need to live in a state of confusion about our salvation over this. But I would say that if one never felt the need to repent when one becomes aware of such personal sins, then that person should question their salvation.

    • Clint Roberts

      This needs to be preached across the entire Bible belt and in all major pockets of evangelicalism where people like the unnamed friend in this article are legion. I was raised in a fervently evangelistic church where altar calls brought throngs to the modern day anxious seat. Most people had done it more than once, just to be sure.

      I came to see in the years that followed, watching the net results play out over time in the lives of the people, that the combination of (a) a quick, sudden conversion inspired by a fiery evangelistic sermon, and (b) a hammering home of the belief in ‘once saved always saved’ – almost to the exclusion of any other significant doctrine – creates lives in which scores of secular people (for all practical purposes) comfort themselves from time to time with the reminder that their fire insurance policy still holds no matter what. A few people go so far off the rails in their lives that they have brief spiritual crises and, fearing the possibility that they botched the process or maybe don’t actually have coverage, they return to church long enough to ‘renew the policy’ as it were. But that’s about it, until or unless years later their memory has faded again and they’ve sufficiently made further shipwreck of their lives to renew the policy yet again.

      In other words, this process inoculates people against Christianity as taught and understood from the New Testament onward. In its place is a flimsy self-reiterated pseudo-confidence that they’ve gamed the system so as to have an ironclad pass into heaven no matter what. The isle-walking decision, for them, is a sole sacrament dispensed by the priestly figure (in this case “the preacher”). It’s the only sacrament needed. It bestows all of the grace and merit you need to escape judgment and guarantee yourself paradise when you die. Once you have it, thanks to the binding clause “once saved always saved” you’re spiritually untouchable.

    • John B

      Isn’t the Calvinist’s problem that they say faith is a complete work of God, so when they have failures, they immediately tend to think that they are not saved? How could God “fail”. It is better to understand that man plays a role in the faith process. Not that man works with God to obtain salvation. Salvation is a total act of God, which we merely accept, we do not add to the work, instead we rest in His work. However, when we are saved we clearly must put forth effort to live out our faith to the fullest with the help of God of course, If the outworking of faith is purely God’s domain than we would all be “super” christians, but clearly the working out of our faith depends to some degree on our obediane to the faith Giver. If the Calvinist give God praise for the good days of faithful obedience, then who gets the blame for the days were faith is lacking?

    • Surely as has been mentioned we must always deal and hold the biblical tensions! But as TOA has mentioned the most profound mystery in many ways, is the nature of “Apostasy”, to finally walk away from the great mercy, grace and forgiveness of God! And Luther has spoken very well here. And even the Calvinist must allow this process! But in the end, for both Luther and Calvin, only the true “Elect” will persevere, but they too will enter into the eternal kingdom of God with some bumps and bruises (even some severe ones quite possibly), but God’s gift of “Faith” wins the day at the end! Even if it be but a “little faith”. And yet, there are verses like Matt. 7: 13-14…The Narrow Gate/Way (with 15 thru 20), but with too verses 21-23! And then, the end of chapter 7: 24-28, “The Two Foundations”! Indeed these are very sober verses! Surely the Word of God should always humble us! Rather than make us think we KNOW everything, which we certainly don’t!

      And btw, we are never going to solve these great biblical mysteries on the blog! Sure we should favor our theological positions, but always with some sense of the great Mystery of God! For God is always God to use one of Luther’s favorite thoughts!

      I must also say, that those that want to grapple with these great subjects, of GOD’s divine election, and eternal salvation, etc., simply must read Augustine! He is also not infallible, but to miss his great thoughts and wisdom would be a great loss! Sadly I feel the EO have turned their back on this great church father, at least for the most part. And again surely we must always have the Holy Scripture before our eyes! And here our great Apostle Paul has said it best… “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11: 36, but noting too, verses 33-34-35).

    • John Sobieski


      I seem to see more and more of this – or perhaps I’m just more observant. This is why the church has historically said the best evidence for genuine conversion is a changed life. Some show their faith with just their words; I show my faith by how I live my life.

    • Selah!

      Seems like a rehash of the “old” Paul vs. James debate. So best solution is still: God ‘secures’ our salvation ‘before’ himself; we secure our salvation ‘before man’ by our works.”

    • But really this is NOT the issue! So much as the great “Doctrine” and faithfulness and purpose of God In Christ! HE alone is in complete control of His Creation and “Covenant” people! (Eph. 1: 4-12) The how of it is certainly important, but really secondary.

    • Tio Papo

      You know Gary Habermas has these three explanations on doubt: the intellectual (theological) doubt, the emotional doubt (what ifs) and the volitional doubt ( I won’t believe even if God himself manifests in front of me).
      As far as sin in your thoughts, each and everyone of you (holier than thou) have it, it is call the speed which your subconscious mind operates when you see a beautiful woman, you don’t even know it but you just undressed that woman in fractions of a second, and it goes from there according to your life’s experiences with the opposite sex. So it is hypocritical in the extreme to take this “I am saved because I don’t sin”position. The biggest sin may be that one! We just waste so much time in this; is unbelievable, why are we loosing 94% of our youth to secularism? Why is there 55% divorce rate amongst us? Because we have turn our walls into white sepulchers full of hypocrisy and Pharisees-isms!
      So, if the worse doubt is the volitional one, so the greatest evidence for salvation is the volitional belief! … We will see this in 25-50 years from now, we will get there and all of these conversations, reflections of ignorance and spiritual immaturity!

    • @John B: I was not going to say anything, but your # 37 was a terrible piece of logic, and of course too misses the Augustinian and Calvinist positions! The loss of both the liberty and the contingency of second causes, is quite real. And Calvinism certainly establishes both!

    • I am like John From Down Under (above) in that I am an outsider to the Calvinist tradition. So my comment may also seem naive.
      As I understand Calvinism and the way it frames the doctrine of eternal security, your friend is either of the elect or not, and this cannot be changed by your actions, EXCEPT that possibly you were appointed to be the one who shares with him the gospel message. In which case, when he hears it from you, he would be quickened to the re-generation to which he was predestined. At that point, he would fall under the provision of “once saved, always saved,” whether or not the fruit of his life met your standards of what a Christian should look like.
      Have I stated this fairly? All you Calvinists reading this blog, feel free to correct or enlighten me.
      Now, your restatement of the Parable of the Race was interesting. In the abstract, it might serve as a warning to those who are unsure of where they stand with Christ to “examine themselves, to see if they are of the faith.”
      However, in turning to it as a yardstick to measure your friend’s eternal state, you might be using it amiss. I get the impression from your comments that your friend would probably feel no conviction upon hearing it (and might even tell you how wring you are about him).
      Might Romans 14:4 be applicable here?

    • David

      @tia papo,

      “it is not hypocritical to say “im saved because i dont commit sin” it’s completely biblical and there is a multitude of verses to support this starting from

      Genesis: “..sin lies at the door. And it’s desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

      Matthew: 5:48 you shall be perfect just as your father in heaven is perfect.

      Romans 6:12 therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

      Galatians 5:16 i say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

      Can it get any clearer that we are to come to a life free from committing sin tia papo??

      1 peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

      The example you mention of a beautiful woman is a highly relevant one for most of us, but you are blurring the line between temptation and sin. To be tempted is not the same as sin! You havent sinned the moment it enters your consciousness- that is the precise moment where you are present with a choice!! To suffer in the flesh and take that first lustful thought captive results in victory, but to give in to that thought and let it into your heart results in defeat.
      James describes this scenario very clearly in chapter 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

    • david

      I happened to click on the visions and beliefs link on this website, and came across this paragraph which grieved me.

      ”We reject that any works of righteousness contribute in any way to man’s salvation. We confess that when a person places their faith in Christ they are at that instant declared righteous through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as a gift of God.”

      This appears to be the thief on the cross scenario, extended to the general public.
      As the thief hung, dying on the cross, he acknowledged his sin and was saved. He had no further opportunity to live a God fearing life but judging by his attitude, had he been given a second chance – he would have lived a righteous life from then on.

      I strongly disagree that this scenario is appropriate for say, a young person in the spring time of their life.
      It would be tragic to confine a young person to the belief that once saved, there is no need for righteousness.

      2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace etc..
      2 Peter 1:4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
      and verse 5: but also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, etc..

      Matthew 5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

      1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame.

      1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practises righteousness is born of Him

      1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practises righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

      The forgiveness of sins is a glorious gift and should be the start of a Christian life, not the end of it!!!

    • Chancellor Roberts

      The problem isn’t with the doctrine of Perseverance (Preservation) of the Saints, it’s with people who think that just going down the aisle at a church service and saying some formulaic “sinner’s prayer” is how a person comes to Christ. Where’s the repentance? Where’s the turning from sin and turning to God?

    • […] This Calvinist’s Problem with “Once Saved Always Saved” | Parchment and Pen. Is the problem really with the doctrine or is it with what people think is the process of becoming saved? I would suggest that just going down the aisle at a church service and saying some formulaic “sinner’s prayer” (or reading it from the back of a gospel tract or someone leading you in it on a street corner) doesn’t save anyone (if anyone should happen to have been saved after doing this, then that was only by the grace of God). Where’s the repentance? Where’s the genuine turning from sin and to God? Where are the fruits of repentance? […]

    • Pete again

      Thought-provoking article, to be sure.

      Interesting that CMP uses the following scripture to support “once saved always saved”:

      “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

      It’s pretty obvious that those who have been promised eternal life have an ACTIVE faith in Jesus Christ. “Believe” is an active tense of the word. In fact, the literal Greek translation is “is believing”.

      There are no promises of “once saved always saved” in the New Testament without the ACTIVE FAITH of the Christian. E.G., the sheep (actively) FOLLOW the Good Shepherd.

    • @david: You, are “grieved” it appears by what the Reformation and the Reformers (that’s Luther and Calvin, as others), believed that Paul taught, and that is Justification is by a “declared” righteousness, as we see in Romans 4: 2-8. It is not OUR righteousness, but the Righteousness of God In Christ! WE receive it by Faith “alone”, to quote Luther! And yet, once we come into regeneration and faith, sanctification has also begun.. but does not end until we see Christ, in death or resurrection. Indeed justification & sanctification are close, and often seen together, but the former always precedes the latter, strictly. And btw, Calvinists believe that God’s calling and regeneration come before our faith, in the order of salvation. Here of course we are speaking theologically, of cause and effect through which the salvation of the sinner is accomplished.

      So the believer shows forth some aspect of righteousness, but not a righteousness that is his strictly speaking, but a righteousness that follows faith and justification unto sanctification. This was the hard fought battle of the Reformation!

    • Jared

      Pete again, I would respond that in the Protestant (at least Calvinistic) understanding, you either have an active faith, or you don’t have a saving faith and never did. It seems like we end up at the same conclusion, but take a different semantic path to get there. To me, the Calvinistic understanding is the only way to reconcile those verses that clearly state we can have assurance of our salvation with those verses that describe falling away.

    • cherylu

      Fr Robert,

      The problem seems to be that there are people that actually seem to argue that sanctification is not necessary. They eliminate that from the equation and basically say that if we are justified, all is forever well. Sanctification is an intrinsic part of what God does for us. We can’t just pick and choose which parts of “the package”we think are good and right and are willing to accept!

    • MarvinTheMartian

      @ David

      Given that you quote 1 John 3:6 as a proof text for your claim that the “true Christian does not continue sinning”, just what exactly do you do with 1 John 1-9 (especially verse 8)? You must realize that John was writing to believers in this epistle (see 1 john 2:1). Given your interpretation, how do you square John up, or what do you do with Romans 7 for that matter?

    • Lee

      There are some good verses used to justify the calvinist’s belief on election, such as Romans 9. I was really having a hard time dealing with the belief that God chooses only certain people, not giving everyone the chance to believe. I just happened to watch a “touching lives” episode with one of my favorite preachers, and he just happened to mention this verse 1 Timothy 2:3-4 “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” I really am enjoying the theology program. Thanks for not trying to sway towards one theology, and just give the evidence so we can gain the knowledge, and pray for the truth.

    • Irene


      This is a very good point. On “paper” many people and churches will talk about sanctification and where it belongs (not singling you out, Fr Robert, just speaking generally here), but in practice, you don’t see or hear much about it. Actually, discussion of and preaching about sanctification seems to be, in effect, discouraged because
      1) it might interfere with people’s “proper” understanding of justification. And it seems it cannot be hammered into people’s brains hard enough that they are worms.
      And 2), I think, because sanctification is not well defined in Protestant churches. In other words, what is proper moral behavior? In regard to worship? Sexuality? Stewardship? Obedience? Is there an ideal, is there black and white, or is it all relative? Is there a countercultral backbone in the
      Protestant church? Or is it all “that really doesn’t matter anyway” ?

      So, that’s why I think sanctification gets put on the back burner and forgotten about.

      Some of this, maybe, has to do with lack of leadership from the Protestant church? Take the example of the guy in the original post. He’s obviously not feeling any pressure from the church.
      If he has a pastor, should that pastor/church discipline or pressure this guy? What is the role of the Protestant church in sanctification, anyway? Patiently wait and watch for rain, because its “out of our control”? Or something else?

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Sanctification is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. It is also something positional in the sense that God has already sanctified us, meaning that He has set us apart for His own use. Thus, sanctification is both a positional thing (what we are in Christ) and an ongoing process (one that ends when we go home to be with Him). Positional sanctification occurs when God regenerates us and grants us repentance. The sanctification process picks up from there and proceeds to make us the holy that God has already declared us to be in Christ.

    • Amen here “Chancellor”, I thought for a moment I was hearing good old John Murray again! 😉 Btw, Murray was born in Scotland, and received most of his theological training there, (both Glasgow and Edinburg, as I remember?) Rock on! 🙂

    • Irene

      The ongoing process toward holiness aspect (not the positional aspect) is what I was asking about.

    • And btw, anyone that knows anything about classic historical Calvinism (especially outside of the US), knows it has always preached both Justification & Sanctification! John Calvin certainly did, as too his Genevan Refomers: Theodore Beza and Francis Turretin! See for a modern example Geerhardus Vos’s book: The Pauline Eschatology (I believe its still in print?). But one wonders today, if modern so-called Calvinists still read people like the Genevan Reformers? Much less people who don’t understand historical Calvinism!

    • @Irene: The good “Chancellor” spoke about both! Thus my quote about John Murray who also did most definitively (biblically-theologically)! Oh would that people could and would read John Murray today!

    • Irene

      I have no particular argument with prominent Reformation era men concerning sanctification. I do think, though, that modern Protestant churches have left the faithful floundering in terms of sanctification. –in real life matters . (I would believe there is enough written theoretically on the place and nature of sanctification. )
      It almost seems as if it’s a “that’s God’s department” disposition, as if the church is being too judgemental or overstepping her bounds if she directs sanctification too much. I guess that’s my question: Doesn’t the church have a responsibility in the sanctification of the faithful, and is the modern Protestant church sometimes neglectful of this?
      Example: how should the man in CMP’s original post be approached by the church?

      Just a note: the Catholic Church, also, certainly has a problem with fallen-away, or non-practicing, members. (I suppose they would be the equivalent). It’s a problem everywhere. Different causes though, and apparently different approaches.

    • Irene

      @Fr Robert
      ” Oh would that people could and would read John Murray today!”

      Oh, that people would READ today! (:

    • Cynthia

      I would say that protestant churches rely on preaching/ teaching, bible studies, support/prayer groups, and rightly participating in the lords supper to encourage the on going process of sanctification (there are probably more, but that what comes to mind immediately.

      But the church is not solely responsible for the sanctification of its members. I don’t think that is being suggested here, but too many people do rely on the church to feed into them a life changing relationship with God when, in reality, it is, 1) experiencing God and 2)the work you do outside the church that really changes you.

      Also, I think the idea of deification/theosis should be explored maybe even more than the idea of sanctification. The difference b/w the two can be subtle but to me there is something beautiful about being so unified with Christ that we begin to take on his characteristics. I have heard many sermons on the need to “be holy or sanctified” but rarely have I heard one that explores theosis. Yes, being like Jesus, but not theosis. I could be way off base. This is just a new exciting concept for me and I am still thinking it through

    • John B

      Father Robert

      the “second causes” arguement is merely put forth in the Westminster Confession to make the illogical system of Calvinism seem logical, No, rather to make it pallitable and get God “off the hook”. “God is the cause of everything, but not really” says the Calvinist. The Calvinist wants to have it both ways, and that is why most philosophers and apologist are not Calvinists. If God only foreknows that which He preordained then how did he foreknow that I would sin today. Perhaps a simplistic example, but hey, I am a simple guy.

    • Cynthia

      Perhaps the idea of free will vs predestination is in the category of the trinity in terms of human ability to fully understand it. maybe we should come to a place where we can agree that Calvinism and armenianism both bear truth… and maybe let the rest go.

    • @John B: The “second causes” aspect is part of logic, reasoning and thinking! Something which the EO are sometimes hard against, on many subjects theological! Btw, I took my line from the Irish Articles 1615, not the Westminster, though of course they are similar.

      And I can see that logic is not your forte! 😉

      And one guy you should check out, as to both historical theology and philosophy in Calvinism, is the great Richard Muller. He is a year older than me is all. And oh yes, another would be the great statesman of Reformed Theology, and that is of course R.C. Sproul! RC has even written a whole book, on the contingency of second causes.

      *And the Calvinists have always had their good share of philosophers, note Herman Dooyeweerd, the man behind Van Til!

    • @Irene: Strange, but I have always felt to some degree that the RCC has sort of left her members and flock “floundering” actually. Eating the Eucharist simply must be combined with “sacramental” preaching! As Emil Brunner said: “The revelation of God must be “told”, not “taught”! The point is the “kerygma” is or signifies not the action of the preacher, but that which he preaches, i.e. his “message”. And here is the historical Gospel itself, which is “Christ”! Surely Apostolic Preaching was “Christ Himself”! HE is in preaching the Royal Sacrament Himself, both the “Logos” and the “Rhema”!

      “God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the “preaching-message” preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1: 21) Literally, it is the message of “Jesus Christ.. publicly portrayed as crucified” (Gal. 3: 1) It is here that Word & Sacrament should run together!

      I have quite noted this at times, at both the pulpit & the altar! And I must confess Luther has been very helpful for me in both!

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, Chancellor is my first name; I don’t have a title.

      I’m quite familiar with John Murray (his book, The Imputation of Adam’s Sin was particularly good).

      It’s easy to forget that while the Perseverance (Preservation) of the Saints is God’s doing, we are still commanded in scripture to do such things as “put off,” “put on,” “put away,” etc. It’s part of the paradox of divine sovereignty and human responsibility that even many Calvinists struggle with.

    • John B

      Ah Robert my loquacious friend, you so typify calvinist humility!:) No one understands calvinist logic unless God reveals it to them. Or “read this book by RC Sproul” of course assuming that I couldn’t have possibly read his work because If I had I would agree with his conclusions. Robert, the disagreements between the Calvinist and the non-Calvinists cannot be summed up in one or two blog entreess. However, I do attempt to bring the esoteric nature of calvinist into the practical real world and in doing so I am often considered naive, but I am a married man so I am use to criticism. Calvinism is only logical if you discuss its parts in isolation. The implications of election cannot be mixed with man’s choice because one or the other agrument must logically fall apart: but of course only in my flawed view of logic. And the same tension exists with santification. Unfortunately, you have the greatest logic tool in the calvinist arsenal – MYSTERY! Why do you cry mystery,?, maybe because logic does not apply? It is amusing to see the calvinist preach on God’s soveriengty and then on man’s freedom while never attempting to reconcile the two. Ah, but who needs to wrestle with such things when we have MYSTERY and the great confessions. Take none of my comments personally, my father actually raised men who can take a jab or two!

    • David

      @marvin the martian,

      Oh dear where do i start?? I’m very well aware that i HAVE sin, as im sure we all can readily admit. However to have sin, and to commit sin are two entirely different things- this is sundayschool basics. The fact that we get tempted is proof enough that we have sin and we know that in our flesh dwells no good thing.

      Concerning Romans 7, When Romans 7 talks about doing what i hate, it is not talking about works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19, as it is describing a man who serves the law of God with his mind (Romans 7v25).
      The sin you reference to in Romans 7:18-21 is a deed which the sin in your flesh has forced you to do as you were not mature enough, strong enough and spiritual enough to resist it- a deed of the body, (romans 8:13)
      How to eliminate deeds of the body? Put them to death by the Spirit.
      The more we continue in this the more the body of sin will be done away with.
      A lot could be written on this gloriously liberating topic.

    • @John: There is nothing at all illogical about “mystery”, the biblical word is “musterion” (Gk.), and St. Paul used it quite often. It really in its biblical sense involves that which is outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, that can be made only by Divine revelation. Here we see such words as “manifested,” “revealed,” and “economy,” “dispensation”. These are the English words used in translation. And indeed one of my favorite Texts by Paul is in 1 Cor. 4: 1, where Paul uses the word “musterion” in a most comprehensive way:

      “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Surely “mystery” is absolutely central in Calvinism! And note Calvin was quite an Augustinian, as too was Luther and most of the top-tier Reformers! Indeed Augustine was one of the first and most profound theologically to seek to understand Paul’s great Sovereign Gospel!

      So just as in the mystery of the contingency of the second causes, we find the “transcendent” and the “immanent” aspect of God in His own Creation and creatures. And here God is always simply His own Sovereign!

      “The mystery (“mysterion”) which has been hidden from past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints.” (Col. 1: 26), as too verse 27.

      Btw, I know really that it is not at all “amusing”, but the doctrine of God Almighty In Christ, Who knows and does all things for His own transcendent purpose and glory: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11: 36)

    • John B

      Just be careful when you cry “illogical” when your very doctrine is at its heart illogical, thus the “tension” and the need to have creeds that say “A” is true and by the way so is “not-A”. A position is easy to adhere to and defend when there is a fallback position that does not require one to deal with the practical implications of said position.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      @ David

      What you need to be aware of is that not only do you have Sin, but do in fact continue sinning too.

      Now I need to be clear that I am not championing sin here. As Paul would say, God forbid. But the fact is we need the continual cleansing spoken of in 1 John 1:9 because we all continue to commit sin, even after we are born again. Your doctrine that the true Christian doesn’t commit sin anymore is simply not supported by the totality of scripture.

    • theoldadam

      It is a process. we continually walk away from Him. From our Baptisms.

      We do need to be kept in faith. Lest we “lose ourselves”.

    • David


      It is nearly impossible to comprehend that when we repent from the heart, God is willing to forgive us our sins- the love and kindness he displayed to us while we were still sinners is hard to fathom.

      However God sees the heart- our attitude, and if a beginner on the way happens to fall, he jumps up, asks for forgiveness and keeps going. But it’s not the intention that the occasional fall at the start of someone’s christian walk becomes a regular occurance!

      As we see from the verse after the one you mentioned in 1 john 2:1 my little children, these things i write to you so that you may not sin-

      In other words, to fall in sin should be the exception, not some daily routine that we just choose to accept as part of our christian life.

      But unless you can see the difference between a work of the flesh and a deed of the body, ypur judgement will be clouded and it is pointless for me to keep explaining my position, as it is a person’s attitude of mind which determines which of these 2 occured.

      The deeds of the body aren’t carried out by the new mind, as that serves God’s law and the will of God. It is sin that dwells in me, taking me captive and forcing me to do what i hate. Now when both God and myself hate it, we are in agreement on the issue- in this way im putting to death this deed of the body by the Spirit and will live.
      There isnt any condemnation for these deeds of the body, and since im walking in the light, the blood of Jesus can cleanse me (1 john 1:7).

      However you can’t say that someone who knowingly commits sin (ie works of the flesh) is walking in the light as He is in the light.

    • @John B: Let me recommend perhaps the best book I have seen in a very long time, on Logic, i.e. Logic, A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought, by the Neo-Reformed, Vern Poythress. This book will I believe become almost classic for students. (733 pages worth!) If I were still teaching Philosophy, this would be a Text I would also use. Note, Western Philosophy uses some math in logic. And here btw Poythress has a Ph.D. from Princeton in math.

      *Note to my mind, this area is the greatest weakness of the EO! St. Paul was both a Jewish Hellenist, and of course a Greco-Roman. And of course too Western Philosophy is more toward the Roman!

    • Btw, Amen there “MarvinTheMarian”, Sin is always with/in the believer until death or resurrection! (Rom. 7: 13-25) Note this was also Augustine’s later position!

    • David

      Ah yes @fr robert, you’re on the same page when it concerns the body of sin we carry until the day we die.
      The disturbing thing is (as you have previously posted) that you let your old man down from the cross every now and then and allow him to win a few battles instead of keeping him crucified their by faith in the power of the cross! (Romans 6:6)

      John 8:34 Jesus answered and said to them, “most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin..

      1 john 3:6 whoever abides in Him does not sin

    • @david: In reality, “the old man” gets the best of all of us sometimes, whether we are conscious of it or not! And oh yes, “my old man” is very proud, and likes to think of himself as a tough old guy! Manhood was a big deal in my generation! 😉 (And I admit it still is!)

      Btw, many of the verses you quote are simply out of context! Thankfully “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2: 1) This is really the essence of 1 John, both the Person & Work of Christ!! That Christ is our Mediator and our “Satisfaction” (for sin & sins) before God the Father! (verse 2)

    • MarvinTheMartian

      Honestly this is a topic I could go on and on about because I struggle with addiction, but I do not wish to go round and round any further regarding whether or not a “true Christian” can still commit sin. My hope is that it is the case (that a Christian will still struggle with sin, i.e committing sin), otherwise I am lost.

      I know that my sin grieves the heart of God, and that grieves me. Yet it serves to continually remind me that I am still a man in need of a Savior and in Him is my ONLY hope for my salvation for there is truly nothing good that is in me (in my flesh). Of this truth I am wholeheartedly convinced. Yet I still struggle. I still war against my flesh in the hopes that my deliverance will come. Though admittedly at times I don’t put up as much of a fight as I should, or I get caught off guard, but regardless I still sin.

      May God have mercy on me.

    • Lothars Sohn

      John Loftus is a Christian apostate whose behavior was not distinguishable of that from any fellow Calvinists.
      Now he has been predetermined by God to be a militant atheist,

      If God can act like that, why could you yourself not be a pawn in the chess-game whose God has preordained to betray Him?

      Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son


    • David

      @ marvin the martian, from the description you give, it definetely does not sound like committing sin. To commit sin means to live in it, then you can’t fall. But when we are walking on the way, then it is possible to fall, however our attitude and mindset is still to do the good.
      When we want to do God’s will, but sin anyway because of innattention (being caught off guard) or slackness, that can be described as a fall.
      The difference between committing sin is that I regret what i have done and stand up again.

      My personal testimony is that by God’s power in the Holy Spirit, i have been set free from sin which once held me captive, but it didnt happen without suffering in the flesh.

      So if you get hold of that Spirit, and obey when it points out the sacrifices in your life, it is sure to go well.

      Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

      1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

    • David

      @fr robert: in reality, the crucifixion of our old man, which Jesus accomplished on calvary, must be made a reality in all of us!

      What is meant by our “old man”?? Just this: that our mind agrees with and is bound to that which we know is sin; and our body carries it out.

      @ fr robert, how would you define the old man?

    • @david: It is a reality for all of us, but only accomplished by both Justification and Sanctification ‘In Christ’, in and by faith. And the latter is both a one-time effect (before God), and an ongoing affection (and effect) in our Christian lives and growth!

      The “old man” is our “old nature”. But we see this also in Col. 3: 1-3, etc. In verse 5 we can see that this old nature, is still somewhat bound in our members which are still upon the earth, and that lasts as long as we are alive on earth! (See too Gal. 5: 7 thru 25, i.e. Walking in the Spirit, we must press for it daily!)

      Sorry, this is rather quick… long day for me at the hospital!

    • David

      @ fr robert, we obviously hold different views on what the old man is, me stating that it is the old mindset that wanted to sin, where as you say it is the old nature. Your description, to me seems to bear more resemblance to “the body of sin”.

      With that said, i respectfully agree to disagree with your views on the topic and will leave it at that, as i find it impossible to discuss further due to our vastly different understandings of key expressions surrounding this essential subject.

    • @david: Of course it would not be an issue for the Christian, if he could never still sin, but Paul knew that the Christian was still living in both a fallen world, and with a new nature, yet still with the old nature able to raise his ugly head! Indeed only the New Man or Nature ‘In Christ’ can dethrone the Old man or nature! But it always “Christ Jesus” Himself: Risen, Ascended, the Mediator!

    • theoldadam

      Sinner in fact…saint by faith.

    • @TOA: Amen! I think of 2 Cor. 4: 6-7 here. (note too verses 13-15, etc.) A living, breathing “spirit of faith”! – Always “the gift of God”! (Eph. 2: 8)

    • David

      @fr robert,

      Don’t forget to quote ” in context”- lets include:

      2 corinthians 4:10 and verse 11
      always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
      And let’s not ignore ephesians 2:10 while we are in that neighbourhood:
      For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

      And just incase there are some silent observers out there who think Jesus died so everyone could keep on living a sinful life ill throw in the following:

      2 corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

      Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

      Hebrews 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

      Romans 1:5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,

      Romans 16:26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to faith..

      To conclude: many people will be saved (ie receive the forgiveness of sins) but few want to give up everyrhing and become His disciple.

    • @david: Indeed the context of 2 Cor. 4: 7 thru 12, etc. surely includes verses 10-11, but this is not something we do to ourselves, but the work of the Spirit of God in us…”so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” And this quite involves suffering, as we note further in 2 Cor. 16-17, etc. Only God In Christ can crucify the “old man” or nature. And as we can see from verses 16-17-18, this continues till death, or resurrection…”so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.” (Verse 4)… (chapter 5: 1-5, etc.)

    • And we don’t become “disciples” of Christ by “giving up something”, but by “faith” In Christ! Works have their place, but they always only follow on “faith” in Christ, as Eph. 2: 10…”which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” But as the front of the verse: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus..” Indeed this is the Pauline Revelation!

    • Many of the people that comment here on Calvinism, don’t have a clue to its proper and historical belief. As for sure Calvinism is not a historical single monolith, but does have some variations. For that one must simply do some theological homework! That’s what the P&P is about to some degree. And though I don’t follow some aspects of the P&P on several issues and places, one should read what they believe!

    • David

      It appears to me that certain people commenting are resolute in their endeavour to refuse to accept the scripture verses as they are written. To me it is becoming more and more obvious that they would rather adjust God’s Word to suit their own predetermined ideas and beliefs, instead of the opposite, which would be to accept the Word and adjust one’s life and beliefs accordingly.

      They wholeheartedly reject every scripture that mentions anything resembling to cleanse oneself, purify oneself, deny oneself; or they attempt to explain it away, stating that these things are only to be done in faith or in spirit (ie imaginary).

      It doesn’t take a genius to realize that in most cases, this is due to the simple fact that they have something in their lives which they think is worth hanging onto for dear life.

      Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

    • @david: I am going to guess your maybe in your 20’s or early 30’s? Zeal is nice, but it must be a zeal according to both God’s knowledge and doctrine! (Rom. 10: 2-3)

      I am almost 64, and have been a Christian by God’s grace for over 45 years! I am just “hanging” on to Jesus and His grace & mercy, thanks be to God! 🙂

    • Thanks for this post. Since then I have been looking upon a relationship with Jesus as possibly a two-step process. First, come unto Me and be saved. Second, give up your right to yourself and follow Me. I tend to agree with some who say that there a lot of Christians who only buy into the “fire escape” clause of Christianity, and never become full-fledged followers of Jesus.

    • Ken Weatherl

      Could it be we are confusing faith in something I’ve done, (ie a profession, prayer, making Jesus Lord, walking the isle) with belief in Jesus, trusting in Jesus work alone. Being in youth work for many years I’ve constantly heard “I prayed the prayer or I went forward”. Believing “Trusting” Jesus is different than trusting something I’ve done.

    • Steve

      How many sins are too many? Necessity always makes this part of the discussion. There really are at least 2 or 3 arguments. 1) Can a person change his mind and reject God after they were a ” believer” or 2) is there a point where God says you are sinning too much so good bye, and 3) we could ask “will he ever take one back”?
      Sorry David but you may be implying that a sinless life is necessary, if not you must be pushing an almost sinless one. Where do YOU draw the line, 3 a day. Part of my faith is based on God’s salvation because I can’t lead a sinless life.
      Perhaps people have more important things to consider when we think of the narrow gate mentioned earlier. Let me present for your consideration. John 4 v 22 Ye worship ye know not what. We know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.(Jesus speaking) and Deut 6 v 4. Hear O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD, or YHWH God YHWH one.
      The “Jews” God is the right God (we know what we worship) he is YHWH and he is a uni personal God ,not a Trinity. The Jews including Jesus did not believe their God (YHWH) was a Trinity (Mark 12 v 29) and it seems that Jesus was saying they definitely had that part right. Maybe this would be a more important subject for Christians to prove to themselves. Again, the old Testament Jew’s did not believe in a God that was a Trinity.

    • The doctrine and dogma of the Trinity of God is most surely a NT Revelation, and even there it took the church into the 2nd and 3rd century to finally get a good theological understanding of it. With both Tertullian and Origen who gave us the language and categories of theology to elucidate that which we simply had not before, and of course the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople have really given us that face of the great dogmatic place of God Triune and the Trinity.

    • Btw, the non-Trinitarians are simply both historically and theologically dead in the water! If true Christianity is anything, it is Trinitarian! And thankfully most Messianic Jews are Trinitarian, noting that the great doctrine of the Deity of Christ leads them into it! (Eph. 2: 18)

      *Note I lived and taught in Israel in the latter 90’s. And yes, I am pro-Israel and a “biblical” Zionist (since about 1993, not too long after I fought in Gulf War 1 as an RMC… Yes, this was a major life experience for me! Which also effected my everything, and certainly my thinking and theology!)

    • Steve

      Dead in the water. Would you be referring to the first Anabaptists some of whom were anti Trinitarian and had the pleasure of receiving a third baptism (drowned), by Trinitarians of course.

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, I guess that all depends on which version of the trinity doctrine you mean. Personally, I agree with the Council of Ephesus forbidding any changes to the Creed of 381 A.D. (the one that came out of Constantinople, which expanded the Nicene Creed beyond “And we believe in the Holy Spirit”). While I do think Cyril was a spawn of Satan who wrongly used hypostasis the way Nestorius used prosopon (I say Cyril wrongly used it because I consider the way it is used in Hebrews 1:3 to be the correct way to use it), the Council of Ephesus, which he convened, was right in forbidding any changes to the Creed of 381 A.D.


    • @Chancellor: I am generally in support of the EO on both the Trinity of God, and the “filioque”. However, it seems that in John chapters 14 thru 16, that it is at least “through” the Son, by God the Father. (See btw too, Robert Letham’s book: The Holy Trinity, etc. and chapter 3, ‘The Holy Spirit and Triadic Patterns’. Note too the following chapter, and “Excursus”: Ternary Patterns in Ephesians. This book is THE Book today on the Holy Trinity of God to my mind! And Letham is both Reformed and a Brit! 🙂 See too, T.F. Torrance’s classic book: The Trinitarian Faith, The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church.

      I have friends who are Egyptian or Coptic (Alexandrian) EO and Orthodox. Thus they are with Cyril of Alexandria, and ‘Miaphysite’ – ‘one incarnate nature of God the Logos. Simply Christ has one united nature out of two: divinity and humanity. They live in Israel. (I lived and taught in Israel in the latter half of the 90s). I think it is interesting that the Pope John Paul II, had contact with these EO Brethren (80’s?), and he and the Roman Church and theologians did not consider them, or their doctrine as heresy. But another way of looking at the mystery of the Holy Trinity. (Allowing both the Antiochene and the Alexandrian traditions). Indeed the Councils Nicaea I and Constantinople I are but a fence around the great doctrine and mystery of the Holy Trinity!

      And btw, note “The Formula of Union” from Maximian, sent to Cyril (in the Council of Ephesus), I won’t quote the whole, but Cyril responded with great joy! He accepted John of Antioch…who wrote: “For two natures a union has been made. For this cause we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord.”

      Sadly Neostorianism itself had a long future ahead of it!

    • @Steve: Of course my metaphor was NOT connected to literally killing the Anabaptists, but to the “theology”, or lack thereof in many Anabaptist positions! Surely looking at Zwingli’s history and problems with Anabaptists, as too Luther and Calvin speaks for itself!

      I knew some Mennonites in England, and for the most part, they have become liberals, sadly! Though there are always exceptions, like the onetime conservative biblical & exegetical scholar: D. Edmond Hiebert (Mennonite Brethren)… RIP!

    • James-the-lesser

      When you guys get the Trinity figured out, please let me know. During the meantime, I shall continue to worship the One true God as expressed in the Nicene Creed as follows:We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.” And, that’s good enough for me. 🙂 Oh, by-the-way, I’m Assemblies of God and had to recite this from memory during ministerial training.

    • James-the-lesser

      Woops! Think I enter the above in the wrong blog column. Sorry. 🙁

    • mark

      I can be neither a true Calvinist or Armininist, I am a follower of the Lord Jesus. I believe that it is through grace that we are saved I also believe that we have been given free will. I believe that what we as Christians fight most viciously over is not what we are exhorted to do. Since I do not have the mind of God, I cannot do anything but trust that He alone knows how this makes sense, freewill and grace (as defined by the reformed position) All I want to know is Christ crucified and His work, I know that is what the Gospel is not a scholastic position that promotes the dogma of either position but rather that of Love and Compassion. Matthew 9:11-13 (KJV)
      11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
      12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
      13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. I stand with Joshua “As for me and my house we will follow the Lord.” I am going to preach the Gospel of Love and Mercy, the message of Grace and the Blessed Hope as best as I can and let God rather than man judge my actions, words and intents. I much rather His mercy, understanding and love than any one thought of the collective of man. My brothers and sisters I love you all for your teachings but in the end it is all about Jesus our Lord (as in master) and Savior, so even when we express our differences it must be with the attitude, mind and heart of Jesus

    • @James-the-lesser: Well as an Anglican, the Nicene Creed, with the Athansius’s and the Apostles Creed is #VIII in the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles. And note too Luther was always a Nicene Creed guy most certainly. And I certainly see the whole of the Nicene “homoousios” as most orthodox!

      Note, I don’t personally follow the Miaphysite, but I don’t see it, nor Cyril Of A. as heretical either! Note btw, it was Cyril of Alexandria that defined or elaborated the hypostatic union, and it was incorporated in the Definition of Chalcedon.

    • Btw, this wiki piece might be helpful on the Miaphysite and history.


    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, Nestorius was greatly misunderstood and Cyril, that spawn of Satan, was responsible for Nestorius’ demise. In the correspondence between Cyril and Nestorius, it’s fairly clear Nestorius held that Christ had a dual nature (dyophysite). Much of the debate between Cyril and Nestorius, however, was seemingly more over words. Cyril was (wrongly) using hypostasis the way Nestorius was using prosopon. Though what I really think enraged Cyril so much against Nestorius wasn’t this, but Nestorius’ objection to calling Mary the theotokos (the God-bearer), which is what started the whole matter. Ultimately, the Council at Chalcedon affirmed the dyophysite nature of Christ and, to some extent, unknowingly vindicated Nestorius.

      John of Antioch was a defender of Nestorius (who wasn’t allowed to attend the proceedings at the Council of Ephesus, which was started without waiting for Eastern bishops to arrive; thus, it was basically a kangaroo court). John eventually signed a compromise document in which his friend and teacher Nestorius stood condemned; however, many of his fellow bishops in the east considered him to have fallen from the faith at that point and broke fellowship with him. This was the start of what could be called the Nestorian Church. In the end, John Antioch was a traitor who threw his longtime friend under the bus for the sake of making peace with the heretics in Alexandria.

      As for the filioque, I reject it first because Jesus never said that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (that word “proceeds” is very important) and, if anything, the original Creeds of Nicea and Constantinople sought to be true to scripture. Second, I reject it because I reject any changes to the Creed following the expansion of the Nicene Creed at Constantinople in 381.

      As for the whole Antioch-Alexandria thing, I’m very much in the Antioch camp.

    • Chancellor Roberts

      James the Lesser, the Creed you quoted wasn’t the Nicene Creed. It was the Creed that came out of Constantinople in 381 A.D. or, more accurately, the corrupted version (because you included the filioque clause that wasn’t in the original, but was added centuries later). The original Nicene Creed (of 325 A.D.) stopped after “And we believe in the Holy Spirit.” At Constantinople in 381, the Nicene Creed was expanded to include everything that came after “And we believe in the Holy Spirit” (there were also some minor textual changes to the original Nicene Creed).

      The trinity doctrine in much of the Church today is not the doctrine of the Nicene and Constantinopolitan Creeds. What is communicated as the trinity doctrine in many churches today – particularly the ones that came along after the Protestant Reformation – is essentially tritheism because “persons” is used in the modern sense as synonymous with “beings.”

      Perhaps the only thing the Council at Ephesus got right was to prohibit any changes to the Creed following the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D.

    • @Chancellor: I can appreciate your zeal, knowing that you came out of the Oneness mess. But surely the long road to the great Trinitarian doctrine and truth (note through the Second and third century heresy of Monarchianism), the Dynamic version which is where the Oneness of today follow for the most part. This should humble us surely, for the great doctrine of the Trinity was too a long and proper theological development, but again took the church much time. See JND Kelly’s classic book: Early Christian Doctrines on this subject.

      We cannot go into the whole history here, but most certainly Nestorius was in error in many places, most especially his denial of Mary as the Theotokos, which as you agree really was the main place of the error for Nestorius. Myself I cannot follow the idea that Cyril was the “spawn” of Satan. Very unfortunate language indeed! And one that should be stowed in my opinion, and history has born out the greatness of so-called, St. Cyril! And there have been more books written on this whole subject than one could even want to read! But generally the Orthodox or EO are the people to read here. Btw, I would recommend John McGuckin’s book here: St. Cyril of Alexandria & the Christological Controversy. He gives both sides, but certainly in the end Cyril’s became the Orthodox norm, at least on Christology. As we can see in his great doctrine of the Hypostatic Union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ!

      *We should also read the great Athanasius here, and the inspiration for the Athanasian Creed (which btw was composed in Latin. But it deals with both the Trinity and the Incarnation…”For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds, and Man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world: Perfect God, and Perfect Man: of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father,…

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, I’m not sure you fully understood what I wrote. First, I agree with Nestorius’ objection to referring to Mary as the theotokos. I’m not entirely comfortable with his compromise language of Christokos (preferring the anthropokos language with which he was apparently uncomfortable), but I can accept it.

      I’m familiar with J. N. D. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines and found it to be an excellent resource.

      If you object to my referring to Cyril as the spawn of Satan, you would have really objected to the kinds of things Cyril was reported to have said about Nestorius. Further, the way he went about having the Council convened and having Nestorius condemned without an opportunity to defend himself is just plain evil.

      I really struggled with the Trinity doctrine after I came out of Oneness Pentecostalism, and it wasn’t easy for me to accept even the Nicene and Constantinopolitan Creeds. Having thoroughly researched the doctrine all the way down to modern times, I find that I just can’t accept the developments in the doctrine following the Creed of 381 A.D. (the specific issue of Christology might be a separate one, but if you want to include it in the larger trinity issue, then I agree with Nestorius regarding Christ’s dyophysite nature in prosopic union and I agree with the Synod of Mar Aqaq (486 A.D.) opposing the commingling or intermixing of Christ’s two natures. I really can’t bring myself to go beyond that point and I particularly object to the use of “persons.”

      Sorry, you’re just not going to convince me to side with Cyril or with the Alexandrian School in general.

    • @Chancellor: There has been way too much heat on the subject of the “Filioque” (Latin, and from the Son). And we should simply note that Augustine held to the so-called Double Procession of the Holy Spirit, well before the question creedally. See Augustine’s work: ‘De Trinitate’. Augustine it appears got some of his thought about the generation of the Son, from Tertullian… the act of thinking on the part of the Father for/about the Son, and later Augustine’s explanation of the Holy Spirit as the mutual love of the Father and the Son, this was also later called the ‘psychological theory of the Trinity’. Which was of course later developed by the medieval Scholasticism. Noting of course too Thomas Aquinas here.

      But, generally I would agree that the Father is the eternal source of the Godhead (Himself, the “monarchy” in the Godhead, as even Augustine agreed). The Father is the “regal” and “First”… from Whom the Son is begotten eternally, and also from Whom the Holy Spirit “proceeds” eternally.

      But the question remains, is the “sending of the Son”, in John 14 thru chapters 15 and 16, the “work” or economy of the Holy Spirit in the plan of redemption? Or is it His eternal relationship within the Godhead? This is still a fair question, theologically and certainly exegetically! And this “through the Son” in time.

    • @Chancellor: Well I am not really seeking to change your position, but we simply MUST understand that even within the Councils and Creeds, we have but as I said, a sort of fence around the Trinity, but not so with the Incarnation, and here is more where Cyril of Alexandria great statements lie about the Hypostatic Union.

      And btw I am sure you know the Council of Ephesus declared Mary as the Theotokos (God-bearer). Yes, picking and choosing within the Councils and Creeds, is a tough road! And one that should be done only with exegesis and too the historical. That is why I quoted the Athanasian Creed! But the loss of Mary as the Theotokos, for Nestorius of course tends to, and expresses, not only the distinction, but the separation of the human and the divine nature of our Lord. This is the grave error here, and of course the heresy! So for the “unity” of Christ the Church found it necessary to insist that Mary was not only “Christotokos”, the Mother of Christ, but the “Theotokos”, the Mother of God (Incarnation). And it is here btw, the EO most certainly place Mary! (Even too the Miaphysite EO, the Cyrillian!)

      “He being one Son, dual in nature, not dual in Person. Wherefore, we do confess, preaching the truth that Christ our God is perfect God and perfect Man.” (Troparion of the Resurrection on the Feast of the Holy Forefathers)

    • Btw, what people say in the heat of theological debate, is always questionable! Here we can note too our Luther, and even Calvin! 😉

    • Indeed Mary is forever, the Mother of the Incarnate Christ! Can I get an Amen? THIS is orthodoxy for the true Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, both on earth, and in heaven! And from here comes our Salvation-History of God! Btw, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentiles)”, (Rom. 1: 16 ; 15: 8-9).

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, one need not agree with the use of theotokos to believe in the dual nature of Christ. Nestorius certainly didn’t. Of course, he understood theotokos as meaning that Mary somehow contributed to Christ’s deity and that’s why he objected to it and his objection in that regard does make sense. As for the Council of Ephesus, there were reasons why I said earlier that the only thing I think it got right was to prohibit any further changes to the Creed following those made at Constantinople in 381. Sorry, I just can’t go along with you or the Council at Ephesus regarding Mary as the theotokos. She did not contribute anything to Christ’s deity/divinity. While I would have still preferred anthropokos, I can tolerate Nestorius compromise Christokos.

      I think it’s important to distinguish between sending and proceeding (the terms are not really synonymous) and I’m not really sure this distinction has ever really been made clear in the various historical debates regarding the Holy Spirit. For that matter, I’m not fully settled on it myself. Then there’s the matter of whether it’s Jesus sending the Holy Spirit “from the Father” or the Father sending the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name (by His authority).

      It’s really unfortunate that the Reformers didn’t do a lot to address the trinity/Christology issue. Worse, John Calvin said that Christ was “autotheotes” (God of Himself), which causes problems all its own.

    • Surely “Mary” as the Theotokos, was meant to include the great mystery of the Incarnation, that a human woman was part of this historical mystery of GOD Incarnating Himself as a Man, and most fully so! (Gal. 4: 4-6) Certainly Mary does not share in the saving grace itself (of the Redeemed), but she does share in the historical mystery and reality of the Incarnation! There can be really no other conclusion for the historic church itself! (Matt. 1: 23)

      I agree that Calvin is oftentimes problematic on the Trinity of God! But not so Luther… He called Jesus: “The Crucified Creator”! I so love Luther, especially on Christology and the Crucifixion, note his great doctrine of the “theologia crucis”!

      Agreed on the difference of “sending” and “proceeding”! Note I see the latter also in Matt. 11: 27, and this presses me closer to the position of the EO or Orthodox.

    • This is from the Wiki on Nestorius…

      ‘Nestorius believed that no union between the human and divine was possible. If such a union of human and divine occurred, Nestorius believed that Christ could not truly be con-substantial with God and con-substantial with us because he would grow, mature, suffer and die (which he said God cannot do) and also would possess the power of God that would separate him from being equal to humans.’

    • Here’s the Orthodox Wiki on Nestorius…


      I give these just to give those that don’t know much about the subject, some context.

    • And btw Chancellor, the position of Christ’s Two-Natures, is much more than “two”, but the what, and the how of the context. I still maintain that Nestorius believed in the complete separation of Christ’s two-natures! And again, THIS is the heresy!

    • And btw, Calvin wrote (in his Inst.) that, Nestorius “devised a double Christ!” Again, this is THE issue… TWO PERSONS, separate in the One Christ!

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Sorry, Fr. Robert, as soon as you mentioned Wikipedia (the various Wikis are all ultimately connected to Wikipedia), I automatically dismissed what you wrote out of hand. Wikipedia is NOT a credible source for anything and must never be referred to in any serious discussion.

      Further, those who wrote the Wiki were clearly followers of Cyril (or at least agree with Cyril) and, therefore, cannot credibly write about someone who was so badly and falsely maligned by Cyril as Nestorius was. Nestorius taught a prosopic union between the divine and human natures of Christ. If you look closely at what Cyril and Nestorius were arguing, they were largely saying the same thing, but using different terminology. (As I said earlier, Cyril wrongly used hypostasis the way Nestorius used prosopon, while the only correct usage of hypostasis in the context of Christian theology is the way hypostasis is used in Hebrews 1:3).

      There are, of course, alternative versions of history: http://www.nestorian.org/the_lynching_of__nestorius.html




      As for Mary, I think it is absolutely heretical to suggest she contributed anything whatsoever to Christ’s divinity, which is what calling her “mother of God” suggests – no matter how much you or Cyril or others might want to deny it. Keep in mind also, that the Roman Catholics consider Mary to be the co-redemptrix with Christ and the “Queen of Heaven” (a title once given to a pagan female deity). In one of their prayers to her, the Roman Catholics say “none can withstand your power.”

    • @Chancellor: Of course the Wiki’s must be checked, as any resource! But, there are good points of historical statements and reference, especially the Orthodox wiki. I gave these few for someone wrote to me, and asked for some historical context.

      Btw, you are simply DEAD wrong about the historical context of Mary being some kind of “goddess”, especially in the EO statements and belief! And note I was raised Irish Roman Catholic in Ireland (1950’s and early 60’s). In fact my first degree was a BA in Philosophy from a Roman Catholic College (way back in my 20’s). So no need to talk to me about “Catholicism”… Thank You!

      Now we have “fleshed” you out a bit more, and we can see that your pressing your “own” views and use here, and certainly not any historical EO or Orthodoxy, save perhaps in the dating and of the Council of Constantinople I, 381, itself. For one thing is very certain with the Eastern Orthodox, and that is Nestorius taught: Two separate natures in the One Christ, which is certain heresy to the whole Creedal nature of the true Christ, as taught by both the East and West in classic Christendom!

    • Btw, I noted you said nothing to the Text of Matt. 1: 23? The point is not Mary, as is the miracle and mystery of the Incarnation itself! But Mary is a willing vessel of grace for sure! Made such by the grace & glory of God! She is not just a “womb” or go-between alone for the use of God, but again herself the place of the “Theotokos”, herself the person and place of being the “God-bearer”, for the Son of God into time, and the place of the historical itself of God en-fleshed, and now forever!

    • Pete again

      Fr. Robert,


      And thank you for your Godly defense of the Truth and orthodox Christianity!

    • Btw, we can note the place that Mary had for the top-tier Reformers too. She was ‘Mary Ever-Virgin’, herself! And all of this is most certainly a position/positions of “Faith”! But a “biblical-theological” faith itself. Note Luther, Calvin and Bullinger here also!

      And btw too, we should note here too, that it was Menno Simons, the Anabaptist who actually held a Valentinian gnostic position on the flesh and birth of Christ!

    • Thanks Pete, this does hit close to home for us who believe in the fullness of the historical Christian Faith and Church/churches! To God be the Glory!

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, I was referring to the Roman Catholics in more recent times when I mentioned her seeming deification. I wasn’t referring to the Eastern Orthodox or to Christianity prior to the Great Schism that created the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. I don’t know what Roman Catholics in Ireland are teaching, but in the States Mary is often referred to as “Queen of Heaven” (even in the names of some churches) and as a co-redemptrix with Christ. Also, in a Roman Catholic prayer to Mary used in the States there is the line “and none can withstand your power.” So, excuse me if I interpret this as ascribing a certain amount of deity to Mary.

      Getting back to Nestorius, the Creeds, etc., I adhere to the original Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D. (without the filioque clause). I reject in its entirety, the Eastern Orthodox version of events regarding Nestorius and of his being branded a heretic. Further, I agree with Nestorius that Christ’s divinity and humanity should not be commingled or mixed together. If that makes me a heretic in your eyes, so be it. I spent more than four years researching the history of the Trinity doctrine and I did quite a bit of research into the controversy between Nestorius and Cyril, which is a microcosm of the controversy between Antiochene and Alexandrian Christianity (the Eastern Orthodox Church, even though it did rise out of Constantinople, is most certainly in the Alexandrian camp along with the Western Church). That the Eastern Orthodox and Western Churches have branded Nestorius a heretic is based on Cyril’s bearing false witness against Nestorius and that in itself is sufficient basis to reject the branding. What is now called the “Eastern Orthodox Church” ceased to be truly eastern with the rise of the Nestorian and other Churches in Antioch and eastward. So, for me, eastern Christianity doesn’t refer to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

      I didn’t comment on Matthew 1:23. It doesn’t support the…

    • @Chancellor: Thanks to share a bit more of just what you believe and where your coming from, and where your going! I am myself just too close and familiar with the EO to allow you to go unchecked here, at least historically. And as we can see now, you are indeed just “untilizing” the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381, into your own place and belief! But with this whole Nestorius/Nestorianism also. Btw, I am sure your Reformed Brethren are not following you here! 😉

      Again, how you can go negative with Cyril, the man who actually elaborated and defined the great and profound Hypostatic Union, and follow rather Nestorius? It is quite beyond me! Btw, I remember one time talking to a Oneness guy, and he was hung-up too on Heb. 1: 3…making it the only place of a biblical use of hypostasis! Which of course is not the full issue. For surely the Divine Trinity comprises three hypostases in one ousia! And this is a theological construct and application itself.

      But again, the “Two” natures are simply always separate for Nestorius! And this is the issue!

    • Btw, getting back to this post, I wonder how Nestorianism reflects upon the conviction of being saved, and having the assurance of salvation being present? When our Mediator has a split-personality, I mean which is it for Christ, God Or Man? Again how do I approach such a being? Is HE for me, or against me? And does He even feel my pain and woes? Yes, indeed this whole thing matters both theologically and practically!

    • Before we leave this subject of Nestorius and Nestorianism, we should look at a piece that Chancellor has given in the second link, it will surely reveal the breakdown of the Unity of the Person of Christ, as both God & Man!

      “Although Nestorius never spoke of the human Jesus and the divine Jesus as “two sons,” he did not consider him simply as a man. However, differing from Cyril of Alexandria, who posited one sole nature (mia physis) in Christ, Nestorius defined a nature in the sense of ousia, “substance,” and distinguished precisely between the human nature and the divine nature, applying in his Christology the distinction between nature (ousia) and person (hypostasis). Nestorius refused to attribute to the divine nature the human acts and sufferings of Jesus. This last statement underlines the ultimate difference between Nestorius and Cyril. Nestorius distinguished between the logos (the “divine nature”) and Christ (the Son, the Lord), which he saw as a result of the union of the divine nature and the human nature.”

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Yes, Fr. Robert, Nestorius distinguished between the Logos and the Christ, between the divine and the human, and taught that they were joined in prosopic union. He did not, despite the false witness Cyril bore against him, ever teach that Christ was two persons. He did certainly teach that Christ was fully God and fully man, not a God-man half-breed. Much of the debate between Nestorius and Cyril really was one of words, though there were substantive differences as well – one need only to read some of the letters the two bishops exchanged to see this.

      As for me, I adhere to the original (and, I believe, orthodox) version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D. (the one without the filioque clause). I agree with Nestorius’ opposition to referring to Mary as the theotokos, though I’m not really comfortable with his compromise term Christokos (I would have preferred the anthropokos that some in churches under him used, but I can accept Christokos). I agree with Nestorius that those things pertaining to Christ’s deity/divinity do not pertain to His humanity and those things pertaining to His humanity do not pertain to His deity/divinity. I agree with Nestorius that Christ has two natures – one divine, one human – in prosopic union.

      Finally, I agree with the Synod of Mar Aqaq (486 A.D.) that there is to be no commingling or intermixing or confusing Christ’s two natures (though I don’t quite understand the Synod’s use of the phrase “copies of their natures”).

      I don’t claim to be in the Eastern Orthodox camp except with regard to their version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. Further, I would consider myself to be squarely in the Antiochene camp (as opposed to the Alexandrian camp). However, I also consider myself “Reformed” or “Calvinist” in that I adhere to the “doctrines of grace” (TULIP, the Five Points of Calvinism) and the Reformed version of the ordo salutis (the order of salvation).

    • @Chancellor: Well its been awhile since I have run into a living Nestorian! But, though it is certainly in error, and even heresy, it is better than the Oneness heresy! Indeed you have quite defined the radical aspect of eclecticism, and I say this as myself one that has a wee-bit of an eclectic mind, but thankfully I hope it is historically orthodox, at least that is always my desire! For I thankfully submit to the Church Catholic, & Historical (and Reformed, i.e. “Ecclesia semper reformada), which as an Anglican must always include, at least for me, the first five Ecumenical Councils. But, by all historical definition, and even your proud admission you are a Nestorian! Again interesting, but again most certainly not within Christian historical orthodoxy!

      And your connection with the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is also eclectic, for this is most surely on EO or Orthodox ground!

      And being “Reformed”, well that too we can only take on your statement itself, but being Reformed myself, you would certainly NOT survive any Reformed Creedal standards I know of? Sorry to be so blunt, but I am also a “historical” churchman myself, as an Anglican presbyter, and onetime theological member of the Christian Academy. As I said, I taught philosophy and theology in Israel, living and teaching there in the latter 90’s.

      Btw, of course “prosopo” is from “prosoptic” a Greek combining form, from “prosopon”: meaning face or countenance. But who knows what this means in Nestorianism? Save as it appears “one divine”, “one human”, but two separate natures and faces? As even Nestorius maintains!

      “I agree with Nestorius that those things pertaining to Christ’s deity/divinity do not pertain to His humanity and those things pertaining to His humanity do not pertain to His deity/divinity. I agree with Nestorius that Christ has two natures – one divine, one human – in prosopic union.” Of course quoting you!

    • Btw, “a God-man half-breed”? Ugh! This too is quite offensive, and actually really pushes you into a quite unorthodox position! Wow! This is just bad theological thinking, from top to bottom! Sorry mate, but we are told to expose error, and Christological error especially!

    • Btw, as I have noted when dealing with many unorthodox Christians (so-called) on Bible & Theology, one does not need to quickly reel off orthodoxy itself, but let the others define themselves, and then look at it next to orthodoxy. And doing this, we can easily see that Nestorianism is quite ill! But, I am always amazed at the lack of the historical aspect often times. And it is here that I would ask Christians to look at the Council of Chalcedon, 451. And noting too Eutyches, and Apolinaris besides Nestorius.

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, you’re writing from the typical Eurocentric view that Western Christianity is orthodox and Eastern Christianity (by which I do not mean the Eastern Orthodox Church, which I consider as much Western as the Roman Church) is heretical.

      Yes, I wrote “a God-man half-breed,” which is essentially what you have in some parts of the Western Church today and is the logical consequence of Cyril’s commingling, intermixing, confusing, etc. Christ’s divinity and His humanity – as if to say that God could suffer or hunger or thirst or die. And I won’t even get into the oxymoron “eternally begotten.” (I would suggest that Christ’s deity is eternal, but that it’s His humanity that was begotten, that had a beginning).

      Yes, Christ’s two natures are indeed distinct (or, if you prefer, “separate”). I thought that would have been clear when I summarized Nestorius’ belief by saying those things applying to Christ’s divinity do not apply to His humanity and that those things applying to His humanity do not apply to His divinity, and when I said that Nestorius believed Christ to be fully God and fully man (which even most of the Western Church affirms).

      Yes, there are aspects of Reformed theology with which I disagree (like baby-dipping aka infant baptism; I agree with John MacArthur on that one). But since the main doctrines defining “Calvinism” are “the doctrines of grace,” the “ordo salutis” (though the Arminians/semi-Pelagians have their version) and the “five solas,” and since I do adhere to those, that makes me, by definition, a Calvinist (as opposed to being an Arminian or semi-Pelagian).

      I refuse to allow Western tyranny dictate my orthodoxy!

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, you wrote: “Btw, getting back to this post, I wonder how Nestorianism reflects upon the conviction of being saved, and having the assurance of salvation being present? When our Mediator has a split-personality, I mean which is it for Christ, God Or Man?”

      Split personality? Now you are just being mean! Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone for God’s glory alone. The assurance of salvation is in the propitiatory work of Christ on the cross and the justification that God grants as a result. That I reject Cyril’s heresy of a God that suffers, hungers, thirsts, and dies has no bearing on Christ’s work of penal substitution on the cross or on God choosing to apply that work to His elect or to God causing His elect to persevere (or be preserved) to the end.

    • @Chancellor: Indeed where do we begin with someone like yourself? But first, historically, YOU are very confused for just who is this other Eastern Church? Certainly not the Orthodox Christianity which has inhabited the ground for centuries! And YOU say, you adhere to the N-C Creed, but reject the church and people who by God’s purpose and grace wrote it? Again, strange.. and just more misuse of both history and theology! Sad! Perhaps I misspoke (about Oneness being worse), for this Netorianism of Christological heresy indeed goes from bad to worse, especially as we look at the God-Man of the revelation of Holy Scripture, and it is a rejection of the true and proper theological Hypostatic Union: the union of the divine and human natures in the person of Jesus Christ! Which most certainly the profound Cyril of Alexandria has so beautifully written and defined, as we see in the Definition of Chalcedon. “He exists in two natures without confusion, without conversion, without severance, and without division, the distinction of natures being in no wise abolished by their union, but the peculiarity of each nature maintained, and both concurring in one person (prosopon) and hypostasis.” Of course this was incorporated into the Definition of Chalcedon from Cyril’s work.

      Btw, it is sad that you seem to renew this whole division in some personal way between Cyril and Nestorius? And I used the point of being “separate” as a theological negative in Nestorius, to the two natures of Christ. And now you call “Cyril” the heretic? Sadly, again this division of natures was pressed by Nestorius!

      Finally, bringing in John MacArthur does not help anything in the Reformed camp, I can remember when Mac taught against the Eternal Sonship of Christ! Not to mention his overt Lordship doctrine also! Reformed Baptists should stay close to the London Baptist Confession of 1689, at least on Christ, the Trinity, and soteriology (salvation). Note I am myself a Historical…

    • Btw, when I used the term “split-personality”, I was of course speaking theologically. The problems simply mount for someone like yourself who has taken on the grave problems of Nestorianism, especially when we look at Jesus in Gethsemane, (Mk. 14: 34-36, etc.) And too when He was on the cross and cried quoting Ps. 22:1, (Matt. 27: 26)…”My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    • Btw, we should note the churches of the Miaphysite Orthodox (Oriental, Coptic, Syriac). All rejected Chalcedon for other reasons, but just as Cyril who stated that Christ has One United Nature, out of Two: Divinity & Humanity, and they are not “mixed”, but are together: The one incarnate nature of God the Logos! Here btw, we are always peering into God’s Mystery! As the Holy Trinity is three “unconfused” and distinct divine persons (hypostases), who share one divine essence (ousia) – uncreated, immaterial and eternal. “The essence of God being that which is beyond human comprehension and can not be defined and or approached by human understanding.” (Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church, (1957).

    • For me also, this Miaphysite (mia, means one in opposition to many) is profoundly biblical also. Indeed the great Mystery of God Triune can surely hold the Miaphysite doctrine too! That Christ has one united nature out of two: divinity and humanity.

    • “The eternal and immutable God has been revealed in three co-eternal Persons. The Father is the first Person, i.e. the first hypostasis of the one God, the Son is the second Person begotten of the only Father, the Spirit is the third hypostasis who proceeds from the only Father whom He has as the cause of his own eternal existence. The Spirit is called Spirit because he breathes and is moved of the Father and rests in the Son. He is wholly pure, shining, undefiled, holy, purifying and illuminating and sanctifying the other intellectual and spiritual beings. The dogma of the three separate Persons is inseparable from the dogma of the one God.”

    • Btw, here’s a wiki on Chalcedon, it looks helpful for both the historical, and other EO groups. Note, I am certainly pro Council of Chalcedon, myself. But I don’t have a problem with todays Miaphysite’s in general.

      Again, I give this at the request of someone to be helpful!


    • Here’s the whole Creed of Chalcedon…

      Chalcedonian Creed (451 A.D.)
      This creed was adopted at the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held at Chalcedon, located in what is now Turkey, in 451, as a response to certain heretical views concerning the nature of Christ. It established the orthodox view that Christ has two natures (human and divine) that are unified in one person.

      We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, there really isn’t much in what Chalcedon decreed that Nestorius would have objected to, except that whole “mother of God” thing. Chalcedon, like Nestorius, set forth that Christ has two natures (one divine, one human) in one Christ. You might want to read Nestorius’ The Bazaar of Heracleides (you can find an English translation online here: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/#Nestorius). You might also read about what he believed from a non-Western perspective, particularly since much of the disagreement between Nestorius and Cyril was one of language: http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/becoming-nestorian/

    • @Chancellor: Of course what Nestorius did or didn’t think about Chalcedon is really a guess and mute question, but we can see what he did say and believe about the “Two Natures of Christ”. And as we can easily see theologically, that his Christological Christ completely separated the natures of God and Man, and as I have noted we will surely have grave problems with the biblical Jesus the Christ, and thus connecting as Melanchthon said: “To know Christ [as the God-Man] is to know His benefits.” And here proper soteriology (salvation) enters. It is just as simple as that! So who would follow, or would want to follow Nestorius? I really find that a most important question myself! Man always has a proclivity and downward pull to sin and error! WE should both understand that as Reformed and Calvinist Christians!

      I have the Tertullian site myself of the many fathers and theolog’s. Myself let me again recommend the Orthodox Fr. John Anthony McGuckin’s book: St. Cyril of Alexandria & the Christological Controvery, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press). This book is historically quite fair, and covers both sides and arguments. And btw McGuckin is an Anglo-Irishman, who has become Eastern Orthodox (Romanian Orthodox Church). See too his fine book: The Orthodox Church, An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture, (2008 Wiley-Blackwell, 457 pages). I mention the latter, because the general ignorance of the west and Western Christians toward the EO is just too embarrassing!

    • I should say and note Fr. McGuckin has been around in the EO for some time. I think he is in his mid 50’s somewhere? And again his latter book is a most comprehensive study of Eastern Orthodoxy, and he himself has become one of the leading Orthodox theolog’s in the English speaking world! A must read for any that would approach anything EO! Aye, that’s a challenge mate! 😉

    • Missy M

      You are wrong about James. That was belief that there is one God, not the gospel. Also, it states that demons believe the monotheistic truth which clearly is not the gospel and clearly Christ did not die for demons any his so no matter what they believe it would not save them.

      Your use of the parable of the sower fails also. Jesus specifically says only the first did not believe as was not saved. The other 3 are contrasted by their levels of growth or maturity after (phuo/sumphuo) coming to life.


      Most poignantly you interchange getting saved and Christ’s guarantee of its perfect and unalterable state as synonymous with running the race. The end of the race is not a reward of salvation, that has already been given by way of Christ having run the race for that, though indeed its fullness will come in future eternity. The reward of the race are the rewards received for a faithful life, hence the entire parable used errs.

      But…as to your friend and the point of all of this which is still valid…he appears to be lawyerly trusting in something he did with guarantees from Scripture with which he can force God to oblige him salvation rather than trusting in what Christ did for him.

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Michael- We need to clarify here what is meant by “crossing the starting line.” If it means “only” that I have made a profession of faith, then certainly there is no real assurance in that.

      But if the expression means that we are genuinely converted, “born again” as we used to say, then let’s celebrate every way we can think of, that we started the race. And such will finish, though many of us (actually all of us) will have to be carried across the finish line.

      Wouldn’t you say taht it really isn’t so much about the perseverance of the saints, as it is about the perseverance of our Lord? But yes, I think also a lot of “professors” are not “possessors,” yet if we take the emphasis off a proper start (true regeneration), and place it on persevering, I fear an offshoot of that might be a reliance on works.
      Maybe we’ll get up to Credo House one of these days.
      Brother Stumblefoot

    • Gregg Powers

      The entire doctrine of OSAS is untrue. Specific passages in scripture give warnings to true believers and other scriptures clearly show the transition from belief to unbelief. There is little good that comes from such a belief and not only does it fly in the face of the breadth of scripture, it also has limited historical precedent.

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