Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Dark Side of "Once Saved Always Saved" or Assurance of Salvation

This was originally posted here on the The Trail Home's blog written by The Trail Home
(This is not my personal study but does express my viewpoint very clearly)

Note: The doctrine of "Once Saved always Saved" also known as "Assurance of Salvation" or "Eternal Security"


The Dark Side of ‘Once Saved Always Saved’

“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Gen. 3:5 (KJV).

Malcolm Smith (a charismatic Episcopal priest) used to call the words of this verse, “ye shall be as gods”, ‘The Lie’. The idea being that wanting to be ‘like God’ is the foundation of Original Sin. And what could be more ‘being like a god’, than having the knowledge of who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell.
The ‘doctrine’ of ‘once saved, always saved’ (OSAS), otherwise known as ‘eternal security’ was a teaching I found hard to abandon when I crossed the Tiber. It is an enticing philosophy that attracts people into a web that is hard to get out of. Behind the doctrine, of course is the teaching that you and I can ‘know for sure’ that our destiny is Heaven. Or as fundamentalist preachers love to put it: ‘you’re as sure for Heaven as Jesus Himself!’ Catholics shrink from such statements as they smack of the sin of presumption.
But this doctrine has a dark side. If I can ‘be sure’ who is going to Heaven (those who repeated a sinners prayer), than I can also be sure who is going to Hell (those who have not). This ‘knowledge’ of who is destined for Hell not only plays into the ‘Lie’ (using Malcolm’s language), it also plays into a destructive psychological pattern.
A former Pentecostal pastor once recounted a strange service he attended once. The preacher was giving a sermon on Hell and began to name those he was ‘sure’ are either in Hell, or headed there. “They’re going to Hell! They’re going to Hell! They’re going to Hell!” the crowd began to chant over and over in a bizarre fashion.
There is a strange and sick satisfaction people have in ‘knowing’ their enemies are ‘burning in Hell’. It gives them a feeling of ‘justice’.
When some of the writings of Mother Teresa were made public, it revealed she had gone through (as St. John of the Cross did) a ‘dark night of the soul’.
Fundamentalists had a gleeful feeding frenzy. I remember one fundamentalist almost giddy with excitement: “See! This proves it! Mother Teresa is in Hell!!”. It is extremely important to fundamentalists that Mother Teresa be in Hell. If Mother Teresa is not burning in Hell, that would make their belief/doctrine false; hence she must be burning in Hell.
For extreme Calvinists, this gets into their theology that a portion of humankind is ‘predestined to Hell’. A recent survey found 60% of born-again Christians say people were going to hell because they didn't have the "right beliefs." Whose beliefs are right is dependent upon the person you are talking to. Catholics are told (many times with glee) that it is ‘certain’ they are going to Hell.
It reflects a lack of compassion, hope, and love. It feeds into a person’s unforgiveness and bitterness toward another. In dehumanizing them with the curse of “They’re going to Hell,” it relieves them of any responsibility.
The Pharisees of Jesus day had a saying (from ancient Jewish writings): "There is joy in Heaven when a sinner drops into Hell." Jesus turned that around and said: "There is joy in heaven when a sinner repents."
The Pharisees believed in a kind of ‘OSAS’. Obviously Jesus did not.
“ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
The Lie.

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