Why Does Calvinism Matter? [Part 1: The Bible] [Part 2: Evangelism and Global Missions] [Part 3: The Will of Christ] [Part 4: The Priestly Work of Christ] [Part 5: Western Civilization] [Part 6: Science and Psychology] [Part 7: The Gospel] [Part 8: Social Ministry] [Part 9: Cooperation Among Baptist Churches] [Part 10: The Cosmological Argument for God's Existence] [Part 11: Biblical Theology]
One unusual thing about some Southern Baptist theology is that it so strongly affirms the doctrine of eternal security but denies unconditional election. This is strange because in most of the places where the Bible affirms eternal security, it also affirms unconditional election. According to the Scriptures, unconditional election and eternal security are like two bookends of the Christian life.
Theology that affirms eternal security but denies unconditional election is also unusual because those who affirm eternal security but deny unconditional election must say either (1) that Christians lose some of their freedom after they are saved so that they can never again choose to reject Christ, or (2) that Christians retain the freedom to reject Christ after salvation, while still remaining saved and on their way to heaven, which is what no-Lordship Dispensationalism teaches. Both implications seem inconsistent Scripture.
I submit that Calvinism matters because the doctrine of eternal security is only biblically and logically maintained when it is rooted in the Bible's doctrines of unconditional election and effectual calling. Consider the following passages of Scripture that link unconditional election and eternal security.
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me, I will never cast out” (Jn 6:37).
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day” (Jn 6:39).
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:44).
“And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified” (Rom 8:30).
“[Christ] will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor 1:8-9).
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world . . . In Him, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will . . . [the Holy Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory” (Eph 1:3-14).
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it” (1 Thess 5:23-24).
“To those who are elect . . . He has caused us to be born again to a living hope . . . who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:1-5).
So, from a biblical perspective, unconditional election and irresistible grace (effectual calling) go together with eternal security. It seems odd, biblically, that anyone would wish to affirm one without the other. The effort to separate the two does not appear to grow out of the Bible's own theological categories.
A Sincere Question for Non-Calvinistic Southern Baptists
If you are a non-Calvinist but affirm eternal security, do you also affirm that human beings lose their freedom of choice (to reject Christ) after conversion? Or do you take the route of no-Lordship Dispensationalism and say that true Christians may reject Christ but still go to heaven when they die?