Essay: Christian Security the Christian Doctrine

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[. . .] Instead, we can observe that they had only gained false entrance in the eyes of man from the start. God will know of their falsehood. This view is even echoed in the text by Kowalski, which otherwise supports the view of conditional security. According to Kowalski, "In spite of my advocating conditional security, I believe much of the bottom line for both views is essentially the same, as, through their doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, Calvinists do not believe that those who rebel against God will share eternity with Him regardless of any profession of faith they may have made or Christian activity in which they may have engaged. They believe such people were not truly saved to begin with." (Kowalski, p. 1)

In other words, most doctrines differentiate between the notion that eternal security is tantamount to unconditional security. Kowalski follows this assertion by suggesting that even as an adherent to the idea of conditional security, he is able to accept the scholarly justification for the concept of eternal security as well. This implicates the common ground which is shared between these doctrines, which is the understanding that salvation is granted through one's faith in Jesus.

Conditional Security:

The common ground noted above seems a perfect place to enter into a discussion of what is meant by conditional security. Particularly, many scholars reject outright the concept of Eternal Security. By making its root position the claim that those who accept Jesus Christ into their lives will inherently be granted eternal salvation, the philosophy seems to defy a dominant interpretation of the scriptures. Namely, tells the source Search the Scriptures (2000), the scriptures tells us that acceptance of Jesus alone will not grant one protection from their own sinful behavior. Such is to say that security is conditional upon living one's life according to the teachings of Jesus as well. Recognition alone, this view says, will not grant one a certain pass into heaven.

According to Search the Scriptures, "the Bible speaks of a warfare (spirit against the flesh) that is going on within the believer (Gal 5:16-21 KJV) "this I say then, Walk in the Spirit, (a choice we have to make daily) and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. {17} For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. {18} But if (conditional) ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. {19} Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, {20} Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, {21} Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.'"(Search the Scriptures, p. 1)

This draws a rather clear line of differentiation between Christians who merely recognize Jesus as their lord and savior and those who truly adhere to his teachings. This source would even go so far as to argue, as many scholars have on this subject, that the promise of eternal security serves too conveniently as a license to engage in sinful behavior. The promise of being forgiven by Jesus is sufficient under the doctrine of eternal security to facilitate a wide range of behaviors that would otherwise be unthinkable. Such is to say that absent the powerful deterrent of conditional security -- its advocates would argue -- the strong ethical codes related to the Christian faith are vulnerable to abuse and even to a life led astray by temptation.

This view is offered with yet a greater ferocity in the text by Paton (2008), which argues unequivocally that the Calvinist ideology is designed to protect one's right to sin and still be granted salvation. Whereas many scholars and critics, such as Kowalski and Slick here above, are amenable to a scholarly exchange on the two distinct interpretations of the Christian doctrine of security, Paton is uncompromising in his rejection of eternal security and its permissiveness. Paton asserts in somewhat inflammatory terms that "if one genuine Christian can fall, slip away, apostatize, or be severed from Christ, not only will eternal security, the head of their idol, come toppling down, but so will the rest of her defiled body! Is it any wonder that, despite the fact that the whole of Scripture is decisively against them, they must at all costs save their precious license for sin?" (Paton, p. 1)

To Paton and others who echo the staunchness of his perspective, eternal security is problematic in the Christian faith for allowing false Christians to be perceived as having earned this salvation. Moreover, those who believe in conditional security would take the position that the scriptures are quite clear in their endorsement of this position. The text offered by Freedom Quest Ministries (2010) elaborates on sections of the New Testament which appear to espouse the understanding that security is conditional. The Freedom Quest Ministries argue that there are those who will glimpse at salvation but will fail to meet the expectations of a good Christian life, and not for lack of desire but perhaps for lack of will or strength. According to the Freedom Quest Ministries, "The parable of the sower shows us a certain group of people that, for various reasons, hear the gospel and accept it as Truth but "fall away" (Mark 4:17 NIV). In this parable Jesus explains to the disciples that the seeds are people that have all heard and received the gospel and sprang to life... But only a portion of them endured to bear fruit." (p. 1)

The Freedom Quest Ministries go on to argue that this view is not taken just in parables, which it concedes are subject to widely variant interpretation. But beyond that, Jesus makes mention on multiple occasions in the scripture that adherence to his teachings is not optional. Faith, adherence and genuine goodness are demanded until the end of one's mortal days. Again, while perfection is neither sought nor expected, the Freedom Quest Ministries tell us that one "must endure to the end!" (Freedom Question Ministries, p. 1)

This means that one does not achieve a transcendent, instantaneous and irrevocable salvation when one finds Jesus. Instead, one achieves entrance into his light. One must keep within this light throughout one's life though in order to realize the glory of his eternal presence.

Resolution:

The most pressing difference between the two philosophical viewpoints is that Calvinists or eternal security adherents argue that behavior is evidence of one's faith or a lack thereof whereas Arminians or conditional security adherents believe that behavior is ultimately the determinant of one's fate. In assessing the arguments put forth by both sides, we are inclined to take a middle position, which appeals to God's grace in a mutual relationship. In other words, our path to salvation is assured when we are saved and when we accept Jesus into our lives. However, this never frees us from the responsibility to remain engaged with God, in service to his teachings and in adherence with the values befitting a good Christian life.

This relationship is not defined in a punitive way. One does not enter into a relationship with God strictly for the promise of eternal security or for protection from eternal damnation. Indeed, from our reading, we are inclined to believe that these ulterior motives for reaching out to Jesus will ultimately be transparent in they are not sincere. Instead, security and salvation are granted us for finding God by our own resources, of our own volition and with the purest of intent. This initiates a relationship with God that cannot be broken. And therefore, by His grace, security is granted eternally to those who are true in the acceptance and faith. Insofar as the ultimate behavioral manifestation of these views should look largely the same, there is little material difference between the ideas of eternal security and conditional security. In neither is the notion of unconditional security implied. Instead, each viewpoint offers its own way of perceiving the responsibility to behave in accordance with the teachings of Jesus. In essence, both endorse the same correlation between true faith, acceptance and an eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Conclusion:

Upon considering the arguments posed in opposition to one another, we must conclude that the debate at hand is largely rhetorical in nature. There appears to be a healthy overlap of expectations between both sides on the concept of behavioral propriety. What this behavior means may be another matter. But to the perspective of this reader, the ultimate expectation is the same. Adherents to both views believe that a good Christian life worthy of salvation is one lived in line… [END OF PREVIEW]

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