Stump the Chaps IX: “One and Done?…”

Greetings, ST, ‘Ettes, and ‘Sieurs!

Good to be with you again! As is often the case, our gracious host recently requested an exploration of the idea “once saved, always saved” that is expressed in faith communities of the Reform tradition beginning in the 16th century. This post is not meant to be a debate about the merits of the doctrine. It’s an exploration of its background and its relationship to other approaches to the question of salvation. Some context may be helpful, at the start.

Jehan Cauvin/John Calvin was the first to advance this idea, in the early-to-mid-16th century. Supposedly, it began on the basis of Calvin’s reading of Martin Luther’s understanding of The Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 28: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” [KJV], and St. Paul’s “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross(.)” [KJV] in the Epistle to the Colossians, chapter 2, verses 14-15; though Luther never subscribed to this teaching himself.

“Safely Gathered In” ~from HeavenLight, via Pintrest

Prior to Calvin, the unanimous consent of the early Christians was that a person is capable of losing his salvation by committing mortal sin, as St. John speaks about in 1 John 5:16–17:

“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.”

In fact, there are early church documents, from the first century, like a liturgical and teaching manual called The Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), that are chock-full of reminders that salvation in and through Christ is a gift. Gifts, it must be said, can be cherished, guarded, refused, or lost.

At this point, gentle reader(s), you may well ask: “Chaps, what does this question have to do with me in my daily life?” Excellent response….”Once saved” has at least two potential effects. It can potentially turn a priceless gift into an entitlement – that can excuse all kinds of laziness (even heinous acts). It can also possibly cause a sense of contempt to be present toward believers who look at this process differently. For the sake of clarity, I have to say that because God values human freedom, I can’t assent to Calvin’s notion of a predestined number of a chosen ‘elect’ (from his understanding of St. John’s symbolic numbering in the 7th chapter of the Book of Revelation).

Verses 1-8 describe the “144,000” who will be saved. This number has traditionally been associated with God’s faithful love toward Israel. The number that catches my eye, with respect to the question of “who’s in and who’s out”, might’ve been one Calvin missed. In verses 9-10 of the same chapter, St. John tells us of seeing “a great multitude, which no man could number, from all manner of peoples, nations, and tongues” [KJV] gathering in joy and praise before the throne of God. I cannot find Calvin’s limits here, as hard as I may try.

Nor can I hold that one cannot – by his/her own choice – say no to God’s gift of grace. Viewing salvation as a process can help us to see our restored right relationship with the Father – through Christ’s Incarnation/Passion-Death/Resurrection – as the gift that it truly is: “saved in hope”, so that we can nurture that truth of hope in our hearts, our homes, our workplaces/communities, our nation, and our world. Amen?…

(Please note: If readers would like a more detailed consideration of the differences between “once saved” and “saved in hope”, let me know in the comments. I’ll gladly offer one, but I thought something shorter was called for this time.) Thanks for reading! Make it a great week!

Until next time: Peace and Blessings!


15 thoughts on “Stump the Chaps IX: “One and Done?…”

  1. Great post, Nanda, thanks 🙂 I have a question about mortal sin: my understanding, which may not be correct, is that in order for a sin to be mortal, the person committing the sin has to fully understand what they are doing and that it is wrong. If this understanding is correct, wouldn’t it stand to reason that mortal sin is pretty rare? Human beings can wreak no end of havoc through ignorance, but I find it difficult to believe that many people are lining up to lose their eternal souls with full knowledge of what they are doing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! and Right you are, JaC….In addition, you have to *intend* to commit the sin, regardless of the consequences. Most mortal sin involves disregard for/violence toward those who’re in the image and likeness of God – including self-harm; though we mitigate that quite a bit today. Life issues/family issues and self-care are the spheres where this may most often occur. Rarity obtains to all except abortion and/or euthanasia; these are all too frequent, sadly. (It also concerns the Eucharist, and our dealings with the ordained – as ‘alter Christus’.)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. But, in the case of abortion, the woman would have to fully understand what she was doing in order for it to be a mortal sin, do I have that right? So many women are so brainwashed and ignorant, and the abortion industry does its best to keep them that way. I am totally pro-life, but it kind of bugs me when some people call abortion murder: it’s definitely the taking of a human life, but the term “murder” implies a knowledge and an intent that in most cases probably isn’t there, imo.
    Studies have shown that 90% of women who intend to abort change their minds if/when they see an ultrasound of their baby.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The severity of the act has to do with the fault. That’s why things like “Project Rachel” have to exist. The damage done follows women, men, extended families. Procuring/aiding in procuring/performing are still grave/mortal sins – even though technology (which PP wants to prohibit) aids (Thanks be!) in making informed changes of mind. Mom P. and some of her OR colleagues refused to participate in performing one in the early ’50s, actually.)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think I missed sump’n. Do you believe in predestination ,or not?
    And beyond that: do you believe that someone who has been baptized and has confessed the faith can still sin and be damned, or not?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Predestination?…Not. The possibility that one who’s named and claimed for God; who’s “confessed with his lips” can recant/refuse/let wither the gift of faith?…’Deed I do. Just as Oscar Wilde and others (the “good thief”, for instance) could come to faith on the threshold of death. That ‘free will” thing don’tcha know….Pesky, innit? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Part-b will take the form of a dialog between “once saved” and “saved in hope” to add context and clarity, I hope.

          Liked by 2 people

        1. Sawatdee taon chao, from me….Yes, because God created all of us for freedom, St. Paul tells the Galatians, so there are tradeoffs/choices/decisions that go with that liberty. (I’m working on part b now, too.)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Gonna call it a day, ST, ‘Ettes, ‘Sieurs, readers, followers, and friends. I’ll be back here later on today, for brunch – and to continue the conversation. I’ve really enjoyed the day. G’day/G’night – whichever fits best. Peace be in and with us all! Chao for now…. Hasta entonces!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner simply because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your internet site.

    Liked by 1 person

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