Robert Shank on Calvinism and the Warning Passages of Scripture

“Completely absurd is the assumption that men are to be sincerely persuaded that apostasy is impossible and, at the same time, sincerely alarmed by the warnings.  Equally absurd is any assumption that men are to oscillate between two contradictory persuasions like a pendulum and are not to view the whole testimony of the Scriptures with complete sincerity at one time, but are to be one day sincerely persuaded that the Bible warns us against apostasy, and another day sincerely persuaded that the Bible assures us that apostasy is impossible.

The fallacy of Calvinism’s absurd assumption, essential to the defense of its doctrine of perseverance, is constantly demonstrated in the tragic inconsistency in the personal ministry of pastors who entertain it. They profess to believe that, while all true believers will inevitably persevere, it is only within the context of the dynamic exercise of faith that the perseverance is unfolded.  They profess to believe that the warning passages are designed of God to effect this perseverance by motivating believers to continue in faith and to fear apostasy, and that the perseverance is realized only as believers take solemn heed to the warning passages.

These things they profess to believe (at least, when pressed to account for the presence of the warning passages).  But their preaching and teaching seem designed to prevent the warning passages and ‘alarming admonitions’ from accomplishing the purpose which they profess to believe God intends them to serve.  They never miss an opportunity to ‘explain’ the warning passages in such a way as to dispel any concern which their hearers might have for them, and they continually assure them that they are unconditionally secure for all time and eternity, with no contingency whatever.

They constantly do their utmost to destroy the concern of their hearers for the warnings and admonitions which they acknowledge to be God’s means of motivating believers to persevere. Those who do preach the warnings with earnestness and conviction they accuse of being ‘confused’ and ‘doctrinally unsound,’ and of not believing in salvation by grace. Wisdom is justified by her children; but only eternity will reveal the full measure of the tragedy of this popular fallacy and the inevitable inconsistency of all who embrace it.”

– Shank, R., Life in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Perseverance (1989: Bethany House Publishers), pp. 172-3

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