I just want to add this final note. If the Reformed/Calvinist view teaches, as Piper and many others teach, that someone who appears saved and later “falls away” was never really saved and if the Calvinist believes that those who appear to be believers should be exhorted to remain true to the faith and continue in their obedience, then the Calvinist view and the Arminian view are functionally identical.
For example, if a member is struggling with sin and appears about to be overcome with sin, both sides would want to warn and counsel this person to return to his first love.
And if a former believer were to renounce the faith, he’d be expelled from the church.
And if a formerly devoted member were to live a life of sin and then repent, seeking to be restored, both churches would gladly accept him.
And if a member were to be caught up in willful sin, unwilling to repent, both churches would be as likely to discipline him.
I can’t think of a single instance where the Calvinist and the Arminian would act differently (as to this issue), other than when some church committee writes up their statement of faith or when the preacher decides to pound the pulpit on Reformation fights yet once again.
Therefore, it seems to me that we are fighting over nothing. I mean, to me, the Reformed/Calvinist view of perseverance is mistaken, and they think I’m mistaken, but as applied in practical pastoral terms, it makes no difference at all.
It would matter a great deal if a Calvinist were to teach that a believer can live a life of willful sin and remain saved — and there are a few that teach just that — but as I understand it, that’s not mainstream Reformed/Calvinism, and certainly not the Piper version.
And so … let’s talk about something else.