Thursday, September 29, 2011

Early Church history is proof against eternal security???

On occasion, I receive an email from someone worried because they heard nobody believed in eternal security in the early church writings. 

I shake my head when I hear my opponents argue this with me.  1st, they quote the Ante-Nicene Fathers that they admit contradicted each other and scripture at times.  Even a well-known Arminian apologist warns his hearers to use caution around their teaching, as it is not reliable, but then he quotes the Ante-Nicene fathers himself as proof nobody believed in eternal security.  If he feels they are not reliable then how can a person believe their position against eternal security as being reliable?  Are we to base our beliefs outside of Scripture?

2nd, My opponents tell me that nobody believed in eternal security until the 3rd century, but then shortly later will tell me that eternal security was invented in the garden of Eden by the devil???  They also quote Jude 3 and will tell me that those that turn grace into lasciviousness were eternal security preachers.  This tells me that they are swimming for arguments believing it will help their deceptive cause.

Eternal security is a teaching believed by so few.  Perseverance of the saints as most define it is NOT the same as eternal security.  Those who doubt their salvation do not believe in eternal security.  They might speak it with their lips but their heart says otherwise.  I doubt we can say many believed in eternal security in Paul’s day.  Judaizer’s and other false teachers would always be following Paul around to confuse the hearers by perverting the message. 

I prefer basing my beliefs off scripture rather than church history.  Do you believe in justification by faith apart from works?  Do you not realize how difficult it is to find such teachings before the 1500’s?  The teachings of Martin Luther were not considered old but a new doctrine of justification by faith. Even many of those that believe salvation can be lost get accused of believing a teaching not taught before the 3rd century (justification by faith as taught by Luther).

The difficulty is due to the many contradictions we find in the early writings.  One can find a writing that appears to teach justification by faith alone, but one can find another quote that appears to contradict their previous statement.  What bothers me is that most religions and cults quote the early church to support their teachings.  The question is whether we will believe the bible instead of man’s sinful handling of scripture after the apostles were gone.  If nobody in the early church believed Jesus Christ died for sin then would you disregard the Bible? 

What I discovered in early church writings is the heavy emphasis upon the kingdom teachings (Davidic Covenant) rather than Pauline theology.  I find the two mixed into one when they clearly were separate.  This problem still exists today. 

Paul made this comment in his day concerning a huge apostasy:

15 You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.  (NASV)

Paul not only expressed his sorrow here, but in 4:10-11 and 16:

10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.   

16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.

The fact is, none of us was around back then to observe this apostasy.  How many people were influenced by the apostasy?  How many of Pauline followers were martyred?  How many were true converts of Paul and others back then?  How many were influenced by false teachings that obviously were a problem then?  We do not have the answers to these questions.  Where did everyone go after the apostles died?  We do not have these answers, but our opponents feel the group of Ante-Nicene fathers are proof enough that "nobody" believed in eternal security.  This reminds me of those that argue that there could be no way Noah got two of every kind onto the boat.  You ask them, "Well, how many animals were there?"  They will reply, "Do not know, but we know he could not have fit all of them."  Ignorance is bliss to many. 

I do not believe in guessing nor do I believe in using some religious sect that some clearly had some strange practices.  Their writings at times are confusing.  Some argue eternal physical damnation in hell from their writings, and others annihilationism from the same writings.  Some try arguing that they did not believe in the trinity and others do. Jehovah Witnesses tried arguing that nobody believed in the trinity until the 3rd century. Some try arguing infant baptism from early church writings.  Some try quoting early church to support universalism.  My point is, I prefer the word of God that is clear and not mankind that confuses everything. 

The belief that eternal security is an invention of the devil does not make sense.  The bible declares the devil to be the deceiver of the whole world.  We read that the devil takes captive "whomsoever he will," but if this truly were the case then why do so few believe in eternal security.  You will find that more fornicators, idolaters, drunkards, wife beaters, agnostics, and even atheists believe salvation can be lost.  You would think if anyone that would be deceived with eternal security would be such people wallowing in sins, as our opponents accuse us of a “license to sin” teaching that is purely absurd.  I had an atheist a few years back that told me that eternal security does not make sense. The devil supposedly the deceiver of the whole world has deceived just a small community of eternal security believers.  Something just does not add up here. 
   
Majority of religions believe that salvation can be lost or forfeited.  Do the Jehovah Witnesses have the Holy Spirit since they do not believe in eternal security?  Obviously, in light of what our opponents believe, the devil has not deceived the JW’s with this so-called demonic doctrine.  To claim eternal security is a doctrine of demons has no support.

I challenge anyone to go door to door and ask the opinions of the people on the matter, as majority will claim to believe salvation can be lost.  You can go online and see how many attack the doctrine of eternal security.   I honestly believe anyone that calls eternal security a doctrine of demons is a stranger of grace in need of the gospel.   What you will discover in those that believe salvation can be lost is a so-called salvation by their works.  Some form of faithfulness on their part is required to be saved.  The deception that salvation can be lost is EVERYWHERE!

What I do not understand is that these books and sermons claiming that nobody believed in eternal security in the early church fails to mention Universalism that was quite prominent before the 3rd century.  You will not find universalism condemned as heresy until after the 3rd century.  

I'm not advocating universalism, but it is interesting to know that it was not considered heresy until St. Augustine.  St. Augustine admitted that "very many" believed in Universalism in his day, so obviously it did not originate in his day.

It is interested to note that 4 out of 6 schools taught Universalism.  People are too busy searching for "eternal security" in the early church when "once saved always saved" or "eternal security" was not a phrased coined until much later.  It would appear that none believed in it when search for "eternal security" or "OSAS" during a time that did not use such words.  However, if you search for Universalism in very early church history is to find it clearly taught and accepted.  Keep in mind that religion today considers Universalism as worse than "eternal security," but they ignore the reality that most were universalists to focus on the fact that nobody said "eternal security." If most were universalists then what do you think would be their position on eternal security today? 

We can read that Clement of Alexandria (150ad to 210ad) held to Universalism who was most likely taught by Pantaenus.  It was Clement who taught Origen, as most know Origen was a Universalist.  

My point is not promoting Universalism, but I am simply pointing out that our opponents are claiming that eternal security came around the time of St. Augustine.  My point was that a belief in Universalism existed long before St. Augustine, so there were large group of people who clearly did not believe salvation could be lost.  It is not all cut and dry like our opponents would like to claim.  It was not that all believed salvation could be lost, but that "many" believed in the salvation of all men.

Again, I am not promoting Universalism, but the fact is, St. Jerome admitted that "most people" held to Universalism, and St. Augustine said that "very many" held to this teaching.  Basil of Caesarea said "mass of men" held to Universalism.  His quote was, "The mass of men say that there is to be an end of punishment to those who are punished."  

I simply prefer using my bible rather than church history to prove my beliefs.  I prefer using my bible rather than church history to determine what it is I believe. 

Personally, I am sick and tired of the nonsense of it all.  If people want to base a belief off early church writings (not scripture) since they were closer to the apostles time than we were (whatever that means), then my opinion is they should embrace all the early church writings equally.  What is this pick and choose whatever teaching suits me best philosophy?  If you are questioning eternal security because of early church history then you are trusting in man. 

7 comments:

  1. What changed your mind about Calvinism?

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  2. Hello Joey,

    Thanks for visiting!

    Not sure what I said in my blog above made you think of my old Calvinism, but that is a tough question to answer in the comment section.

    You will find that almost every article I write will not be against Calvinism. I know some pure grace Calvinists that I respect. I do not know of any pure grace Lordship Salvation or those that believe salvation can be lost, as they pervert grace. I tend to focus on their teachings rather than Calvinism.

    My journey out of Calvinism was a long one. I started seeing problems with a bunch of their arguments, as they often were based on logic from verses they had twisted. It is actually too long to be able to answer you here, but I was sharing part of that experience of leaving Calvinism and Lordship Salvation at the following site today:

    http://expreacherman.com/2012/04/03/do-lordship-salvation-folks-deny-the-resurrection-and-christs-proclamation-it-is-finished/#comment-12511

    Thanks for visiting!

    Blessings,

    Dave

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  3. Hi Dave,

    I am not one that believes in the doctrine of "once saved always saved" as it is taught by some... although after many conversations with true brothers in the Lord i am much closer to than i used to be to understanding the core doctrine and avoiding the fringe elements. I am also not looking to get out! Happy to be in His Grace.
    That said i agree with your statement concerning the writings of the early church fathers.
    You said:
    "I simply prefer using my bible rather than church history to prove my beliefs. I prefer using my bible rather than church history to determine what it is I believe."

    "Personally, I am sick and tired of the nonsense of it all. If people want to base a belief off early church writings (not scripture) since they were closer to the apostles time than we were (whatever that means), then my opinion is they should embrace all the early church writings equally. What is this pick and choose whatever teaching suits me best philosophy? If you are questioning eternal security because of early church history then you are trusting in man."

    To that i say Amen! Scripture should always be our deciding factor and we should never try to support our arguments by picking and choosing quotes here and there from any Mans writings. For that matter the scripture itself should never be treated in that manner.

    Much Grace to you my Brother

    Robert

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    Replies
    1. Hello Robert,

      Sorry it took so long to post your comment. I am in another state right now for training and certification.

      I do appreciate your comments!

      Blessings,

      Dave

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    2. p.s. I also do hammer OSAS people for arguing that majority of scholars hold to eternal security. How is that a biblical answer? It seems that people rather identify themselves to a particular group or even a person rather than the revealed word of God. I can care less if one is a "CALVINist" or an "ARMINIANist" or even some denominational name. I hear people who argue that their beliefs were taught for many centuries as though that is to mean something. Majority opinion or history is never an argument to me.

      I'm glad you agree as it is a real problem today in the church. I had people who simply will disagree because their pastor has a PhD. Whoopie!!

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  4. I hear you. I hate the labels as well. I will at times have someone come in who just wants to argue or label me, and if i say something that does not fit the label,they say, "I thought you were this or that" And i always reply, "I never said i was, that was your label"
    I am a Christ follower and Bible believer and teacher and I am still learning every day and am humbled at the fact the more i learn the less i know. I find it interesting that in Paul's writings he progresses in this manner... I am least of the Apostles... I am least of the saints... I am chief of sinners...
    And for all of his "degree's" He said i have determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.
    I am always amused at the PhD argument for you can always go find someone else with a PhD To debunk the other... So said that we seem to have almost exclusively turned to the arm of the flesh... May God help us see Him once again.
    Much Grace
    Robert

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    Replies
    1. Hello Robert,

      I agree with you entirely concerning the PhD argument. PhD to me means, "Permanent Head Damage." The Pharisees would be our modern day PhD's as they were very knowledgeable. However, they were so wise that they became the greatest fools.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Blessings,

      Dave

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