Hank asked a series of questions regarding the difference between the conservative and progressive points of view. I’m going to try to answer them.
My point is that the answer IS NOT to just deny that there even is a line. The answer is not to argue that because it is too hard to “articulate” precisely where the line is…to then simply say there is no line. Otherwise (if there is no line, anywhere), then what would be the point in trying to know and adhere to the revealed will of God in various matters? Seriously? But if their is a line SOMEWHERE…then progressives are surely under the same amount of pressure to articulate where said line is as are conservatives? But for progressives to point out the “failure” and “inability” of conservatives to precisely reveal where “the line” is, without being able to do it themselves, is like the guy throwing rocks from inside his own glass house. I just get frustrated at how the progrssives are in the very same boat, but refuse to accept it. You see, they must either:
1. Say there is no line anywhere — which would be total chaos.
2. Say there is a line and then precisely articulate as to where it is with each individual and in regarding every topic.
3. Understand that while there is a line, they do not know exactly where it is for every person in every situation (even their own) — but then they would have no assurance of salvation right?
You assume that progressives can’t articulate where the line — the principle that determines when a Christian falls away — is even though I’ve repeatedly stated precisely where I believe the line to be. Just yesterday, I posted a comment referencing extensive material defending from the scriptures where I believe that line is.
Here it is, as Todd Deaver and I wrote it at GraceConversation —
What would cause a saved person to no longer be saved – to fall away or become an apostate? There are three ways a saved person can fall away –
- A Christian falls away when he no longer has faith. “Faith” means faith in Jesus.
- A Christian falls away when he is no longer penitent. Equivalently, a Christian falls away when he no longer submits to Jesus as Lord. Equivalently, a Christian falls away when he willfully continues to sin.
- A Christian falls away when he seeks to be justified other than by faith in Jesus.
You say, “And the three generalized principles offered do not begin to address the topic.” In fact, they do. Of course, the scriptures offer us tremendous depth as to what these principles mean beyond what we’ve written. But these principles in fact tell us when a Christian falls away.
Notice a few simple points in favor of this view point —
First, we enter God’s salvation by faith and penitence. We like to teach “hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized.” But what we hear is what we believe is what we confess: the gospel, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. That’s all “faith.”
Therefore, it’s entirely fair to summarize the path into salvation as “faith and repentance.” Indeed, that’s exactly how Greg said it in his recent comment —
I believe we are saved by the grace of God. This grace is conditional, the conditions arising from the nature of the atonement. These conditions are repentance and faith expressed in the Good Confession and in Baptism into Christ.
For 200 years, Restoration Movement churches have drawn the line between “not yet saved” and “saved” at faith and repentance. We’ve always considered a person who comes to Jesus with these two qualities as a suitable candidate for baptism. And upon baptism, we’ve considered such a person perfectly forgiven of his or her sins.
Why then do we suppose that the path out of salvation is different from the path in? If you cross one line to get in, why would there be a different line to cross to leave?