Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ben Witherington on Eternal Security

There is a very good interview in Christianity Today with NT scholar Ben Witherington III. He argues that Calvinism, Arminianism, dispensationalism, and Pentecostalism, are all “exegetically weak” precisely at the point of their distinctiveness.

For example, here’s a Q&A:

In what ways do you find the Calvinist teaching on the perseverance of the saints—that a person cannot lose their salvation—to be exegetically weak?
“You have in the Homily to the Hebrews (usually called the Letter to the Hebrews) a long discourse warning Jewish Christians in Rome about falling away, defecting, backsliding, renouncing the grace they've received. There's this huge warning in Hebrews 6:1-6 that says, in effect: Look, you've tasted of the Holy Spirit, you've heard the gospel, you've come to the altar 15 times; if you've done all of these things and you turn back, then you've committed apostasy, and what you're facing is final judgment. He is warning all of the Jewish Christians in Rome, not a select group. That's perfectly clear from the trajectory and flow of the argument if you pursue it right through Hebrews. Christians who are eternally secure in this lifetime don't need those kinds of warnings. But the author of Hebrews doesn't think there are such people. He doesn't think you're eternally secure until you're securely in eternity.
In the Pastoral Epistles, Paul talks about people who make shipwreck of the faith. As John Wesley once said, you can't make shipwreck of something you're not sailing on.”
For the full interview click here.