True2Ourselves
Already a member? login
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider
  
+
Register FAQ A-Z directory Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

True2Ourselves Forums   > Community Topics > Theology  > "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-29-2013, 08:05 AM
CatholicCrusader's Avatar
Knight of the Forum
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,301
Arrow "Assurance" isn't Assuring

A R T I C L E

"Assurance" isn't Assuring
By Gregory K
"This Rock" magazine, April 1992

Quote:
One of the most prized doctrines among Evangelical Protestants is the "assurance" believers have that once they are saved, they are always and unalterably saved. It is no surprise that assurance is a hallmark of this segment of Protestantism: After all, the Reformation was kickstarted by an Augustinian monk who was obsessed by the issue.

There are two prevailing views of assurance among Evangelicals, the cheap version, and the better version.

The cheap version runs something like this: Once you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, your name is indelibly written in the Book of Life, based solely and completely on your faith, no matter how morally wretched you are.

The better version says: Once you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, your name is indelibly written in the Book of Life, based solely and completely on your faith, which will always result in good works if it is true faith. The better version does more justice to passages such as James 2:17, which require the Christian to live a godly life.

The problem with these formulas is their inability to explain those who fall away. If, upon believing, our names are indelibly written in the Book of Life, then those who fall away by renouncing their faith (as the cheap version would require) or by moral conduct inconsistent with a Christian profession (as the better version would allow) never had true faith. True faith always perseveres to the end, but the only way you know that you have true faith is if you persevere to the end. As anyone can see, that isn't very helpful and doesn't provide the sought-after assurance.

The way the Evangelical tries to get out of this dilemma is by adding another factor to the equation: the witness of the Spirit. By the subjective witness of the Spirit the believer is convinced that he has true faith, and will therefore persevere to the end. Biblical justification for this position is sought from Rom 8:16, "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."

Rather than reducing the believer's tension, this doctrine of the witness of the Spirit takes doubt to new heights. This is because the hypocrite has assurance too--a false assurance. The Westminster Confession of Faith, for instance, recognizes that hypocrites and impostors may have a false assurance, but that true believers have an "infallible assurance."

As typified in the Westminster Confession, the Evangelical admits there may be people in good standing in the Church who appear to have faith, who believe they have faith, who have "assurance" of God's favor, but who will perish because their faith and their assurance are false. The Church is unable to discern these false sons, and they themselves don't know their souls are in peril. There is no objective test of the validity of a person's experience. The only safeguard the individual has is the totally unwarranted, subjective assertion that his "assurance" is true.

It must be admitted that this is a logical possibility. It is possible that an experience could be of such a nature that the experience itself conveys the surety of its truth. The problem is that this reduces faith to subjectivity. A fellow on my commuter train is a lecturer in eastern religions and an expert on meditation. After he explained his religious philosophy to me, I asked him how he knew these things were so. He told me "the proof of the pudding is in the eating," that his mystical experiences were of such a character that they had self-vindicating authority.

I told him that, in my opinion, subjective experiences are good to a point, but they need objective correlation. For example, he claimed that he had had out-of-body experiences and was able to travel around in the spirit. I offered to help him test the objective validity of his experience. I was willing to give him directions to my house, and I'd wait patiently while he left his body and went to see what color the carpet was in my living room. He declined.

I have no doubt this man has these experiences, but I don't believe they are anything more than mental exercises he has trained his mind to perform. Such experiences persuade me to look for objective confirmation of the data of subjective experience. It is too easy for the human mind to be convinced by subjective criteria. My commuter friend has an unshakable "assurance" of the validity of his beliefs based on the "self-vindicating authority" of the experiences. Since he has denied the validity of any objective confirmation of his subjective experience, he has totally insulated himself from contrary evidence; he has painted himself into an epistemological corner.

The Evangelical's assurance that his faith is true, based on his subjective experience of the witness of the Holy Spirit, is of the same not-inherently-reliable nature. The internal witness of the Spirit must be tempered by objective, sensible evidence.

The reason some Protestants fall into error on this point is that they insist that salvation is an unalterable state. Since they believe that it is impossible for true believers to fall away, those who do fall away never were true believers, despite external evidence to the contrary. The inescapable conclusion is that external evidence tells nothing of the state of a soul, which is a direct contradiction of the whole spirit and intent of 1 John, especially verse 13.

Once we remove the "indelibly written in the Book of Life" assumption (Rev. 3:5), everything falls neatly into place.

Those who have a living, active faith expressed in faithfulness to the Church and to its sacraments, resulting in a life of charity, have assurance they are at that instant, though not necessarily perpetually, in the state of grace. The whole intent of 1 John is to provide the foundation for such a confidence. The underlying presupposition is that God will not permit the situation to arise where, on a sincere examination of conscience against the touchstone of Scripture, a believer will be deceived in his evaluation of his salvation. The Protestant, contrary to 1 John, must allow for such a circumstance to justify the fact of apostasy.

Those who accept that the believer may fall away and lose his salvation have no trouble explaining apostasy. While a person is living the Christian life in good faith, he is in a state of grace--he is saved. If he falls away, he falls from that state of grace--he loses his salvation.

Why is this position more comforting, more assuring, than the "once saved, always saved" doctrine of Evangelical Protestants? Because it allows me to have confidence that I am now in the good graces of heaven based upon sensible, objective evidence. If I still believed in "assurance of salvation," I could never be certain if my "assurance" were true or false. Thus, perversely, the doctrine of assurance undermines assurance, while the biblical doctrine that the truly saved may truly fall away and be damned provides an objective, sensible, testable (though not finally and eschatologically conclusive) assurance.

I have another friend on the train who is a member of an Orthodox church. In reaction against many of his Evangelical friends, he insists he has no assurance of salvation. "If God wants to save me, that's his business. I can't know for sure." My friend's reaction is an unwarranted pendulum swing to the other extreme. The promises of God mean something, don't they? When Jesus says, "He who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life," doesn't that suggest a kind of assurance?

The scriptural promises of life are genuine promises, conditioned on faith. As long as faith exists, the promise holds. They do not mean that those who believe today have an infallible assurance that they will go to heaven. They do mean that those who believe have Jesus' promise of eternal life and that they can rest in that promise, so long as they don't fall away (1 Cor. 15:2).

My assurance of salvation is this: God's promises are true. If, upon a sincere examination of conscience against the rule of Scripture, I can confess that I truly believe and truly exhibit those distinguishing marks spoken of in Scripture, particularly in 1 John, then I can have a confidence that I am in a state of grace, on my way to heaven. That confidence makes no rash presumptions about the future. If I resist God's grace and spurn the great salvation he has wrought for me in Jesus, then I will fall away and be damned.

This position, unlike the Evangelical "assurance of salvation," gives me a sure, resting hope in the promises of God and does not falsely insulate me from God's warnings against hardheartedness. It does not throw me back upon an irrational, subjective search for a self-vindicating, infallible experience of assurance.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Gregory K. is a ministerial candidate at a Protestant seminary.
__________________

"God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family which is love"
- Saint Pope John Paul II
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 01-29-2013, 08:06 AM
CatholicCrusader's Avatar
Knight of the Forum
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,301
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

I thought the article was interesting since it was written by a protestant, not a Catholic.
Much of what is in the article is stuff I have said before, just worded in a little different way, and from another point of view.
__________________

"God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family which is love"
- Saint Pope John Paul II
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-29-2013, 08:46 AM
HOLLAND's Avatar
Knights of the Forum
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,428
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Hi CatholicCrusader!



Quote:
From Assurance isn't Assuring article> . . . It is possible that an experience could be of such a nature that the experience itself conveys the surety of its truth. The problem is that this reduces faith to subjectivity. A fellow on my commuter train is a lecturer in eastern religions and an expert on meditation. After he explained his religious philosophy to me, I asked him how he knew these things were so. He told me "the proof of the pudding is in the eating," that his mystical experiences were of such a character that they had self-vindicating authority.

I told him that, in my opinion, subjective experiences are good to a point, but they need objective correlation . . .
Quakers would disagree with this. An indubitable experience that is shared by thousands and millions is not merely subjective; it becomes intersubjective. Intersubjectivity is not a self-vindicating authority, but is a shared vindication of an experience with large numbers of people. The confirmation is in the shared witness, a witness that is backed by spiritual power and fruits.

In Catholic thought, concerning intersubjectivity, philosopher Karl Rahner, deals with intersubjectivity in great detail. It is actually central to his thought. In the century before Rahner, Soren Kierkegaard, made the recognition of what would be called intersubjectivity, in that shared element of existential experience which is shared by all.

Quakers would also caution about being forward in speaking of spiritual experiences because of the possibility of the believer speaking out of the flesh rather than the spirit, but this is the human condition as it is faced by the believer. Quakers also recognise that there can be false assurance and would so recognise that assurance would not necessarily be assuring; Quakers, in this respect, would back the main point of this thread.



Peace be with you!
__________________
The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another though the divers liveries they wear here make them strangers.
William Penn (1644-1718) from Some Fruits of Solitude (1718)
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-29-2013, 09:10 AM
CatholicCrusader's Avatar
Knight of the Forum
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,301
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Quote:
Originally Posted by HOLLAND View Post
Quakers would disagree with this. An indubitable experience that is shared by thousands and millions is not merely subjective; it becomes intersubjective. Intersubjectivity is not a self-vindicating authority, but is a shared vindication of an experience with large numbers of people. The confirmation is in the shared witness, a witness that is backed by spiritual power and fruits...........
But not everybody shares the same experience. Someone might say, "I read John 3:16 and I felt the Holy Spirit". Someone else might say, "My wife was healed of a disease and I felt God's hand." And yet another might say, "Jesus came to me in a dream and I knew it was real."

No two people have the same experiences. Your post infers that all have the same experience. I am not sure why you would say that.
__________________

"God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family which is love"
- Saint Pope John Paul II
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-29-2013, 09:32 AM
HOLLAND's Avatar
Knights of the Forum
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,428
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Hi CatholicCrusader!



Quote:
Originally Posted by CatholicCrusader View Post
But not everybody shares the same experience. Someone might say, "I read John 3:16 and I felt the Holy Spirit". Someone else might say, "My wife was healed of a disease and I felt God's hand." And yet another might say, "Jesus came to me in a dream and I knew it was real."

No two people have the same experiences. Your post infers that all have the same experience. I am not sure why you would say that.

I do not infer that all humanity share the same experiences, but all share many. Intersubjectivity authenticates those same experiences that are shared by the many experiencing them. I would invite you to study the Catholic philosopher, Karl Rahner re: this.


Peace be with you!
__________________
The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another though the divers liveries they wear here make them strangers.
William Penn (1644-1718) from Some Fruits of Solitude (1718)
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-29-2013, 09:58 AM
CatholicCrusader's Avatar
Knight of the Forum
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,301
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Well, in the quote from the article you quoted, the author was speaking to one man about the man's experience.

And I have to disagree with the statement that all share many of the same experiences. If we were talking about riding Space Mountain at Disneyland, sure, lots of people share experiences. But spiritual experiences are each unique. Many people may, for example, experience a faith healing, but no two are the same healing of the same person or affliction.
__________________

"God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family which is love"
- Saint Pope John Paul II
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-29-2013, 10:17 AM
HOLLAND's Avatar
Knights of the Forum
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,428
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Hi CatholicCrusader!



Quote:
Originally Posted by CatholicCrusader View Post
Well, in the quote from the article you quoted, the author was speaking to one man about the man's experience.

And I have to disagree with the statement that all share many of the same experiences. If we were talking about riding Space Mountain at Disneyland, sure, lots of people share experiences. But spiritual experiences are each unique. Many people may, for example, experience a faith healing, but no two are the same healing of the same person or affliction.

Spiritual experiences I would concede are unique, given that the personality of each person is unique. But many spiritual experiences that the many experience, that are shared, are hauntingly similar, and are intersubjective. The experience of divine forgiveness leads to similar phenomena of the release from guilt, drawing towards God, the increased capacity to love, etc. Those that have the authentic experience can sense it in others that are having the like experience.

One cannot mistake human experience as primarily needing objectivity. Persons are not objects; they are subjects. The supposed objectivity that is sought out as a more certain knowledge that is found in the world is found in the subjectivity of the same knower. It could be argued that objectivity, so-called, is just another form of intersubjectivity.


Peace be with you!
__________________
The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another though the divers liveries they wear here make them strangers.
William Penn (1644-1718) from Some Fruits of Solitude (1718)
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-29-2013, 10:38 AM
watchman1's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 261
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatholicCrusader View Post
A R T I C L E

"Assurance" isn't Assuring
By Gregory K
"This Rock" magazine, April 1992
I don't know the guy that wrote this article but i didn't get past the first line.
His statement that OSAS is a protestant platform is just a lie from the pit of hell.
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-29-2013, 10:57 AM
HOLLAND's Avatar
Knights of the Forum
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,428
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Hi watchman!


Quote:
Originally Posted by watchman1 View Post
I don't know the guy that wrote this article but i didn't get past the first line.
His statement that OSAS is a protestant platform is just a lie from the pit of hell.

I have never heard of "once saved, always saved" so described with such emotional vehemence. I thought I would comment on it.

This seems another vote that the "assurance" isn't assuring.



Peace be with you!
__________________
The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another though the divers liveries they wear here make them strangers.
William Penn (1644-1718) from Some Fruits of Solitude (1718)
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-29-2013, 12:31 PM
watchman1's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 261
Default Re: "Assurance" isn't Assuring

Quote:
Originally Posted by HOLLAND View Post
Hi watchman!





I have never heard of "once saved, always saved" so described with such emotional vehemence. I thought I would comment on it.

This seems another vote that the "assurance" isn't assuring.



Peace be with you!
Just like all of Gods deep truths, assurance has to be looked at through Gods paradoxical framework of understanding. And the paradox is that a sealed vessel has the assurance of a completed work of God, but at the same time that vessel is not assured to be a completed work of God. Thats a paradox. This paradoxical framework doesn't fit into our framework of understanding. Remember, A follower of Christ must accept a paradox going out the gate. Jesus was 100% God, and 100% man, At the same time, all the time. That is not acceptable in our framework of understanding, it has to be one or the other. But in reality, thats Gods true framework of which all His deep truths are understood.

When Gods paradoxical framework can't be understood, we choose one side or the other of the paradoxical pole and throw bombs at the other side.
This is a common practice of 99% of the Christian discussion forums, and can be quite depressing.
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
"Religion! Who needs it?" or "Religious Tyranny:" RichardBurger General Discussions 32 05-12-2013 05:49 PM
"In Christ" and "in a prostitute" ThirdDay General Discussions 23 04-23-2012 06:32 PM
Orthodox Rabbi Reveals Name of Messiah "JESUS","Yehoshua" or "Yeshua"(Hebrew) Moses Bible Chat 12 02-29-2012 02:36 PM
ARTICLE: "Assurance" isn't Assuring CatholicCrusader Theology 7 07-28-2011 05:48 PM
"Eye for Eye" or "Resist not Evil"-what do christians believe antonio General Discussions 38 05-07-2009 06:54 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:13 AM.


true2ourselves
 
 
 

Flashcoms

You need to upgrade your Flash Player.

Version 8 or higher is required.

download from http://www.adobe.com/go/getflashplayer

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29