Pre-Reformation Belief In Eternal Security: The Word Of Faith We Preach Is Near (Romans 10:8) -- By: John H. Niemelä

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 28:54 (Spring 2015)
Article: Pre-Reformation Belief In Eternal Security: The Word Of Faith We Preach Is Near (Romans 10:8)
Author: John H. Niemelä

Pre-Reformation Belief In Eternal Security:
The Word Of Faith We Preach Is Near (Romans 10:8)

John H. Niemelä

Professor of New Testament
Rocky Mountain Seminary
Denver, CO

I. Introduction

A godly man advised me in 1975, as my theological library was starting to build, “A minister should have a library of many books, but should ultimately have a library of one Book.” This paraphrases John Wesley, “Let me be homo unius libri (a man of one book).”1 Sometimes, the need for specialized fields interferes. As Old and New Testament departments tend to become territorial, so also NT and Church History people often do the same. An inter-disciplinary approach is often preferable.

Church historians focus on post-apostolic documents and NT specialists emphasize the NT. New Testament textual critics consider documents of both eras (the first-century NT in its context and extant copies—dating from the post-apostolic era).

My contention is that church historians and NT textual critics can benefit each other in analyzing the theology of the post-apostolic church. How so? Traditionally, investigations into the theology of this era have focused on documents authored after the first century. However, textual

criticism emphasizes post-apostolic copying of works authored in the apostolic era. These include continuous-text manuscripts, lectionaries, and versions (translations to other languages).2

The following citation by David Anderson exemplifies asking about the theology of the post-apostolic church from a church-history standpoint. Most would view the following as an accurate assessment of the documents of that period.

But we have no written record of anyone (from AD 100 to AD 1500)3 teaching forgiveness of post-baptismal sins4 once and for all at the point of faith in Christ.

An inter-disciplinary approach reaches a different conclusion. The written record of teaching believer-security in the post-apostolic era must not exclude the NT. Even during the twenty-first century, do we not say, “The Bible teaches…?” When thinking back to the period between the close of the NT and today, we would still say, “In Rom 10:8 Paul teaches (present tense)…” Consider the words of Zane Hodges, as he translates and expounds that verse:

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