Friday, January 1, 2010

Hyperpreterism & The Perseverance of the Saints

Ever since I left the hyperpreterist movement in 2007, I hear some hyperpreterist ridicule, “I thought Roderick claimed to be a Calvinist?  How then does he claim hyperpreterism is not Christian yet claims he was a Christian while in hyperpreterism?  Isn’t that against the Calvinist doctrine of ‘the perseverance of the saints’?”
The problem is, most of the hyperpreterists asking this insincere question (insincere because they don’t really want an answer — they just think it is a good dig), but the problem is many of them are non-Reformed, or worse yet, “restorationist church of christ” people asking this question.  Therefore, they don’t even understand what the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is about.  I am a bit surprised that the so-called “Sov Grace” hyperpreterists never seem to correct these people, but hey, the love of the movement is more important than truth.

Perseverance of the Saints often called the preservation of the saints or sometimes mimicked as “once saved, always saved”, “eternal security”, or “Lordship salvation”.  Perhaps the misunderstanding of this doctrine starts with people who misunderstand who it is doing the persevering.  Being a part of Calvinistic or Reformed doctrine, it should be obvious that it is NOT the individual doing the persevering but that it is God’s gracious hand that perseveres.
And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
A usual, & sometimes ridiculing question that is posed by non-Reformed is the question of how a person can claim to be the “Elect” & yet fall into some error & sin & then at a later time repent & claim that they were the Elect the entire time?  The mocker will often want to claim the person DIDN’T “persevere”.  Again, such a ridicule misunderstands what is meant by this doctrine.
We will start our examination of this doctrine in how it fits into the overall Calvinistic doctrines called the “Five Points” or the T.U.L.I.P. (P = Perseverance of the saints).
The so-called “Five Points of Calvinism” are really a misnomer, since John Calvin himself was dead over 50 years before that term came into parlance.  Though the doctrines articulated by the “Five Points” have always been the mainstay of biblical & historic Christianity, even before the Reformation, it was with the council/synod or canons of Dort in 1618-19 that the doctrine was formally articulated.
To keep our focus, we will not explore the T.U.L. & I of the “tulip” but concentrate primarily on the perseverance.  As stated in the cannons of Dort, we better understand what perseverance of the saints really means:
For God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election does not take his Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does he let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by him, into eternal ruin. (Canons of Dort, Fifth Main Point, Article 6)
Further, we can see that this perseverance is the evidence that it is God actually sustaining the Elect.
So it is not by their own merits or strength but by God’s undeserved mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace totally nor remain in their downfalls to the end and are lost. With respect to themselves this not only easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen; but with respect to God it cannot possibly happen, since his plan cannot be changed, his promise cannot fail, the calling according to his purpose cannot be revoked, the merit of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out. (Canons of Dort, Fifth Main Point, Article 8)
Thus, those who ridicule Christians who may for a time fall prey to sin or error are altogether uninformed of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.
Scripture articulates this doctrine many places but perhaps one of the best places is in Philippians 1:6
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ
All of this does NOT negate man’s responsibility to live a holy life, as a reflection of Christ that is within us.
A hyperpreterist responding to my answer is found below along with my interaction.
Hyperpret Quote:
So when you didn’t know that you had fallen into sin and error, how did you know that you had been restored?
See, there it is, the thing hyperpreterists don’t get. The issue is, that hyperpreterism is NOTHING like ANY KIND of Christianity. It is completely different. Thus, I know I have been “restored” AT LEAST to being a Christian in the historic sense. This doesn’t speak of salvation either way. You hyperpreterists always want to claim we’re saying you’re going to hell. Have I EVER said that? No. That is God’s place to say, HOWEVER we can and SHOULD point out that what hyperpreterism advocates is NOTHING like ANY kind of Christianity.
Hyperpret Quote:
And how do you now know that you still aren’t under the deception of sin and error? What changed in who you say that Jesus is now, that is not what you confessed then? Was not your confession in both states that Jesus is Lord? Had you ceased trusting in Christ for your salvation during that time?
Because if I am, then so has 2000 years worth of Christianity — the problem is, many of you are ready to claim that 2000 years of Christianity HAS been in error & sin. How outrageous! What changed is I realized my adherence to & advocacy of hyperpreterism was arrogance. It was the epitome of private interpretation. I was willing (as you are) to claim 2000 years of Christian interpretation was wrong & I was right. A person simply confessing “Jesus is Lord” doesn’t solve the issue — you should know that by Mt 7:21-23. Even Mormons, even JWs, even demons declare Jesus is Lord. We can & do often create our own sort of “christs”, whether it be some hippie-like version of Jesus wandering around the Judean countryside or some spiritualized Jesus supposedly returning in the 1st-century.
Hyperpret Quote:
And why do you now ridicule Christians who have fallen into the same so-called errors you did - which you did when you were professing full preterism, as you also now still do though you deny it?
Once again you don’t get it. If tomorrow you recanted hyperpreterism, I would be the LAST person to ridicule you by saying, “But but but…you used to say this or that” — THAT is the ridicule I’m talking about. While a person is outside of the covenant community of the saints, they should NOT be treated as if everything is ok. It is NOT. BTW, I don’t “still” profess hyperpreterism.
Hyperpret Quote:
If it is God who is holding fast to keep you from falling away, will He not do the same for all those He has joined to Christ? Yet you profess to believe that God is the one who perseveres out of one side of your mouth, while you ridicule that doctrine out of the other side of your same mouth by accusing your brethren.
Well, when a person isn’t behaving like & believing like the community of the saints, & has instead “joined to” something else BESIDES the Christ of the Bible then such people are NOT my “brethren”. In Acts 15:5 we see a group of “brethren” who “believed” but by the time we get to Gal 5:12, Paul was wishing those same people who by teaching contrary & divisive doctrines were disturbing the community of saints would be “cut off”.
That is my same wish for hyperpreterists, either they stop teaching divisive & contrary doctrines (Rom 16:17-18) or they be cut off completely — become the cult that hyperpreterism REALLY is.
Hyperpret Quote:
I fear that you have yet to recover yourself from the real sin and error that so easily besets you at all!
Though I admit fully I am a sanctified sinner, the so-called “real sin” you imply I am in is that I am not being all nicey-nice with you & the heresy you are part of. I thank God there were people who cared about me so much that they didn’t play nicey-nice with me. It was partly due to their tough & honest REAL love that I was brought out of the heresy of hyperpreterism.
Hyperpret Quote:
Here is where we find whether we are persevering in the faith or not: 1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Your version of “love” is just another word for “be nice”. Interesting origin for the word “nice”, it is French for “foolish/silly”. (source).

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