Elmer Fudd said it succinctly…

For those whose theology, and thereby their perception of eternal assurance, is works based, the words of Elmer Fudd seem to fit nicely. Namely, “Be vewy, vewy afwaid…“. As in A Tale of Two Johns, this of course refers to Mr. Wesley et al and our friends in the Church of Rome, but also to many others within the Evangelical community.

Within the larger post-reformation community, most who accept biblical inerrancy can agree that men (that’s men generically speaking, by the way) start from birth in the world as a Kingdom of Darkness, possessed both literally and figuratively by the Prince of the Air. Scripture is clear about this in numerous passages. The theology derived from Pelageous in the second century or thereabouts, and later evolving into so called Arminianism, effectively stipulates that there is some small degree of personal sovereignty deposited in each individual. This of course implies that they dodged the bullet in the Fall at least partially, and that they were somehow granted a personal portion of God’s complete sovereignty, but that is another issue for later. The proposed outworking of this possession of personal control is that they are able, of their own volition and solely by their own will and purpose, to respond to the Gospel, or not. In this theater, the Gospel is still presented by the Grace of God, but it is the individual, in exercising what can only be called their personal sovereignty, that determines the outcome, irrespective of the intent or wish of God. This script yields even more loose ends concerning the sufficiency and sovereignty of the work of Christ, but that too is another discussion. If the path is followed, with the individual in the final analysis accepting or rejecting the Gospel offer without the intervention of God (aside from the provision of the opportunity), then that individual sovereignty bring with it a subsequent ongoing, persistent responsibility to retain salvation once accepted. In other words, since they decided, then their personal sovereign authority retains the ongoing responsibility to maintain salvation or not. Individual will then is the pivotal component of eternal salvation. Whether that responsibility is exercised through willfully action or negligent inaction is irrelevant. It is still individual. This is indeed a heavy, and we shall see, precarious burden.

To continue, this responsibility must include modes of living that might influence Sanctification, namely that behaviour in line with our Lord’s example and precepts and associated repentance when that does not occur become deterministic. Furthermore, if continued Salvation is determined by ongoing individual actions, then it would logically follow that as imperfect creatures with incomplete Sanctification while still living in the world, each individual would fluctuate between states of Salvation and of not being saved in direct proportion to times of sin, repentance and subsequent forgiveness. There would by definition be frequent times of slipping from Salvation for even the most pious and diligent individual.

Scripture states that life in the human states even after Salvation is one of continued sinfulness to one degree or another. As such, there would be numerous periods of loosing and (potentially) regaining salvation. And the less than diligent Saint would find themselves out of Grace frequently.

All this is to say, as Elmer Fudd so eloquently put it, that virtually every person is effectively only a part-time Saint at best, or worse. More important, even when in a state of Grace, they must be concerned about their precarious state of being at all times! What a state to be in (no pun intended)! It is a condition of constant jeopardy and eternal insecurity. Yikes! Thank goodness that Scripture does not support this, but it is a state that many live in.

The Calvinist, on the other hand, lives in the truth of eternal security. Scripture states that those who are saved are moved to that state through the Hand of God alone. In other words, it is all the sovereignty of God, and none of man. Further, and more to our discussion here, is that those saved by His hand can never be taken (in Scripture, plucked) from it. Note, that Scripture states this as NEVER, not sometimes, possibly, conditionally or maybe. We have the Lord sovereignly saving us, and then, since His sovereignty will can not be denied, retaining us in that state eternally.

Surely Elmer would have said that we then can be “vewy, vewy secure”…

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4 Responses to “Elmer Fudd said it succinctly…”

  1. cnaphan says:

    Technically, the Church of Rome teaches that grace precedes every good action, even love of God, faith and final perseverance. This teaching was formalized in the canons of the Council of Orange in 529 and promulgated by Pope Boniface II in his encyclical “Per filium nostrum”. (http://www.creeds.net/ancient/orange.htm) It’s true that some individuals and groups within the Church teach something similar to Arminianism (ie. Luis Molina et al) but no matter how many adherents those theories have, there’s no comparison between the authority behind Augustinianism (as upheld at Orange as well as Trent) and the lack of it behind Molinism. Anyways….

    Firstly, there’s nothing wrong a holy fear of the Final Judgement. There’s also nothing wrong with being concerned with not sinning. Of course, these things can develop into obsessions and anxieties, at which times, the prescription is increasing confidence in God, decreasing trust of self and meditation on God’s promises, His mercy and Christ’s merits.

    While it’s true that “no scheme of man, no power of Hell” can pluck us from His hand, but you can never be sure if final perseverance, itself a grace, will be given to you. In this world, Christ is a shepherd to both the sheep and the goats and only on that terrible Day of Judgment will the two be separated. You can’t just say “I’ve been given a lot of grace in the past, therefore I must be elected, therefore I will be saved.” It’s the will of God that some might receive a lot of grace, and still be damned.

  2. kwilson says:

    I am actually surprised about the Roman position. You would certainly never know it from those I have spoken to, indicating quite a discrepancy between leadership and what is actually communicated. However their view of both Grace and it’s perserverance in the Saints is nonetheless quite different than a classical Reformed one. I see the rest as splitting hair since it didn’t change the need for the Reformation.

    Bottom line is that so many saved individuals (of all flavours, but particularly addressing those closest at hand on the Protestant side of the fence) seem to still embrace a life of little or no assurance, and continued Salvation based upon moment to moment behaviour and works related performance. I have repeatedly heard it harped on as a means to elicit proper behaviour. All it does it repress people and I think it is dead wrong.

    As to the rest, God is absolutely sovereign in all things, including the eternity of each of His own. I would disagree that things are a tenuous as you appear to think for the elect. However, since He is sovereign, we are at His good pleasure and for His Glory alone.

  3. cnaphan says:

    People have little interest in what was said in the 50’s, let alone the 500’s.

    Anyways, there are still quite a few serious points of difference between the Reformed and Catholic position, but “sola gratia” is not really one of them.

    For instance, Catholics believe that a sin, after baptism, puts your salvation in jeopardy. Your relationship with God is impaired until repentance is made, possibly resulting in eternal damnation. Luther, as well, said that repentance is like a plank by which you swim back to the ark of your baptism, the implication being that if you don’t swim, you don’t get back on the boat. But I’m pretty sure you’d disagree with this notion, right?

  4. kwilson says:

    We disagree mostly.

    I see a vast difference, or the Reformation would have been a minor event. On further reivew, the comment about difference has a decidedly ecumenical tone, almost reminiscent of the postmodern theology of much of the Emerging Church, (as articulated for example by Grenze and Franke in Beyond Foundationalism). In this I dissagree most strenously.

    Further, I do not see your interpretation of the Catholic position as what is promulgated by them to their flock. It cetainly does not appear to be what they grasp and attempt to apply.

    Lastly, I would disagree with your interpretation of Luther’s statements as extending down to the fine minutiae of life level. Again you would be in constant jeopardy, which is not where I think Luther (or others) were pointing. Quite the opposite.

    Clearly we disagree, but that’s how it goes some times – in theology and in life…