This blog is devoted to discussing the pursuit of eternal life.
Discussion and participation by readers is desired,
but contributions should correlate to the book,
The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology
of Perseverance & Assurance

by
Thomas R. Schreiner
& Ardel B. Caneday



Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Comments on The Race Set Before Us

The Society of Evangelical Arminians has an article that engages The Race Set Before Us. You may find it of interest. I did.

4 comments:

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Thanks Prof. Caneday! Your book was a real blessing to read and meal of biblical theology. My apologies in advance if I did not fully understand all of your arguments. I should be graduating this fall, and I hope I get a chance to meet you.

A. B. Caneday said...

Adam,

I did not realize that you are a student at NWC. I attempted to look up your name in our directory, and I discovered that the spelling is different from your on-line spelling.

Somehow you have escaped taking a course with me. How did you manage that? ;)

I think you were fair in your comments on TRSBU. Your piece is well written and thoughtful.

If I may offer an observation, I think the "Calvinism" that you embraced is popularized-intellectual-scholastic version of Calvinism, which in my estimation is not truly Calvinism but a corruption of Calvinism. This is one of the reasons why I avoid using the category "Calvinism" when I teach my courses wherever I teach or preach. I want students to hear the Scriptures without hearing them through the stultifying or crippling categories of "Arminian" v. "Calvinism," when the popularized versions of both are what students have heard and know.

As you may well have gathered from reading TRSBU a major objective we had for the book was to bring a truly pastoral heart to the discussion so that we could anchor the discussion of perseverance and assurance in an assured believing reading of the promises of the Scriptures. As we contend, assurance is integral to Christian faith. In other words, one cannot have faith in Christ without also having an integrated knowledge of knowing Christ.

As a young seminarian, as a young ministerial intern, as a pastor, and as a biblical and theological professor I have dealt with numerous believers whose assurance has been subverted by teachers and preachers who have advocated for a stultifying version of Calvinism that cripples belief and assurance. It kills Christian confidence and joy. This has been a major burden on my heart since I was a young seminarian. I own hundreds of Puritan reprints. However, I came to recognize that neo-Puritanism (as I call it) is destructive to faith and assurance, and largely so because of the way Puritans have taught their followers and readers to read the gospel's warnings and admonitions as "tests of genuineness."

I am thankful that the Lord gave me eyes to see and ears to hear the gospel warnings rightly when I was but a young seminarian. This has spared me a lifetime of inflicting upon my hearers the assurance-zapping message that neo-Puritans preach and teach.

Long ago I became convinced that the true test whether one is a Calvinist is not whether one believes in unconditional election. Unconditional election is, in my estimation, a given, biblicall speaking, of course. Rather, the true test whether one is a Calvinist is whether one preaches the gospel to believers with the same urgency as one proclaims the gospel to those who do not believe (given the urgency of the gospel's warnings) in full and unflinching concomitance with proclaiming bold confidence and assurance that God's grace will preserve us unto the Last Day. The gospel warnings are God's appointed means for our salvation by eliciting faith and assurance; they are not to be preached or taught in such a manner that they subvert faith and assurance, as so many handle them.

Blessings!

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Thanks for the kinds words. The thing I appreciated so much about your book was the thorough investigation of the NT's ideas about salvation. All of the metaphors and how they are structured in promises and warnings were "food for faith." I was greatly revived by your study of them. So in the end, your book was really a success in that it was able to communicate how believers can be assured of salvation through the Gospel's promises! Maybe someday I will grasp a better view of Calvinism... at the rate I change my mind about things anything is possible!

PS. I was a FOCUS student and studied mostly under Prof. Muska.

A. B. Caneday said...

Adam,

Aha! As a FOCUS student you would not encounter me, since I have never taught in the program. I'm kept busy enough with the regular course program and an occasional MATS course.

You speak very kindly of our book. It is evident that you read it as we hoped readers would do.