Friday, January 06, 2006

Certainty of Salvation

A Roman Catholic apologist recently posted this: "John Calvin: Only God Knows Who is Numbered Among the Elect":

“We can't know (any of us: Protestant or Catholic or green-eyed, one-legged, red-haired Rastafarian moth catcher) if we will be eschatologically saved because none of us know the future. You may claim to know that by some interior revelation or something, but you really don't.”

I don’t think I have ever met a Roman Catholic who claims to know with certainty he or she is saved. The Roman Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott has said, “The reason for the uncertainty of the state of grace lies in this: that without a special revelation nobody can with certainty of faith know whether or not he has fulfilled all the conditions which are necessary for achieving justification.”

Contrary to the above, 1 John 5:10-13 says:

1John 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son.

1John 5:11 And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

1John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life.

1John 5:13 These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.

John tells us he wrote that “you may know you have eternal life.”

A theologian of glory will usually then argue something like "how can you prove that you know?" In which case, I strongly recommend they pick up a copy of Bertrand Russell's book, The Problems of Philosophy"- since the question being asked is not the question of a theist, but that of an atheist. Russell demonstrates the slippery and elusive nature of all knowledge- from the perspective of atheism.

As Christians though, we begin with the presupposition that God has spoken, and what He says is true. God says I can know, so therefore I can. I have more to say on this over the weekend.


Anonymous said...

man... all the proof texts in the world, you could come up with anything you feel like.
it seems as though you are tying to convince yourself of something here...
oh well, all the best with that.

by the way, catholics arent the bad guys. i think jesus spent more time cutting down those who were judgemental, than those who were uncertain yeah???

Ken Abbott said...

There is a difference, anonymous, between troubled uncertainty and those who would tell us we can't know, especially when God tells us we can know. It's the difference between doubt and unbelief--I don't know how else to characterize a statement that contradicts the explicit and clear teaching of Scripture.

anonymous again said...

the explicit and clear teaching of scripture?
thats an interesting phrase.

so, who is it clear and explicit to? just you?

there are an awful lot of things that "christians" disagree upon, and the authority of scipture is one of those. or would you put catholics, orthodox, liberals and even arminians in a category that is "wrong christians" or "heretics"?

FM483 said...

If I cannot understand the plain words contained in Holy Scripture, then how can I even understand the comments being posted on this blog? The fact that everyone understands English and abides by the rules of grammar refutes the argument that a person cannot have a correct understanding of Scripture. The problem of disagreements between believers(and unbelievers) lies in the fact that we are still contaminated with SIN. We are by nature selfish and antagonistic to God. The New Creation within converted men, however, delights in hearing the Word of God and automatically produces fruits of the Holy Spirit as a result of being saved by Grace through Faith.

anonymous again said...

fm has a point... but the problem is we just arent working with English are we?

I agree with your thoughts fm on fruit, grace and faith. My only fear is that we make the scriptures the fourth member of the quadrinity. The "Word" is Christ, not the text that helps us know him.

FM483 said...

Anonymous said that "The "Word" is Christ, not the text that helps us know him". He is correct that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word. After the resurrection of Jesus, Christ breathed the Holy Spirit upon His apostles, who in turn taught everyone about the Christ and the Gospel. They were commanded to spread the Gospel and baptize in the Name of the Trinity(Matthew 28:19-20).Fortunately for us today, these same apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote down on paper the truths pertaining to Jesus Christ: His perfect life, death, and resurrection for the atonement of the sins of the world(John 3:16). Apart from the written Word of God today, there are no other reliable and inerrant sources for me to go to whereby I or anyone else can learn of the Savior. Those original autographs were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Fortunately for us, there are learned scholars who have translated these texts into many reliable English editions. I recall asking a Greek scholar about the meaning of a certain text of the New Testament. His response to me was "It means exactly what you read in any good English translation, like the NASB"! The problem in today's modern Christian culture is that while many believers are very conservative when it comes to social and civil societal issues, these same people play "fast and loose" when it comes to Holy Scripture. People simply cannot believe the Gospel as clearly stated throughout Scripture and instead prefer to fall back on their human reason,logic, and commonsense. If I were to rely on my human reason and logic, there are many Eastern religions which strictly advocate living by the "Golden Rule" that appeal more to my commonsense. Christianity is usually just the opposite of what my human commonsense dictates.