This time around Editor Scott Coleman wants to know whether the perspective of ‘once saved, always saved’ can be reconciled with the belief that we must repent and seek forgiveness on a regular basis.
This is an issue that Protestants have been arguing about ever since that movement first got started 500 years ago. The folks who officially support the once saved, always saved perspective maintain that when you are established in a relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit then there’s nothing you can do to mess up that relationship. Since these people have their historic roots in the Reformation, they are known as Reformed Protestants; nowadays, they include Presbyterians, Baptists, and the Bible Church folks.
The people who formally teach that repentance is an on-going necessity do so because they believe that it is possible for us to mess up our relationship with the Most Holy Trinity. These folks are technically what’s known as Arminians, a label that comes from one of their early leaders, a man named Jacob Arminius. Today, they include Methodists, Lutherans, Nazarenes, and the Assemblies of God.
Holy Orthodoxy predates all of these Protestant groups by 1500 years, but we’ve never had these sorts of disagreements. That’s because we have always combined these two views: We teach that there is nothing that we can do to make the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit stop loving us, so, in that sense, it is impossible to mess up our relationship with the Most Holy Trinity.
However, since we are all sinners, repentance is also an essential part of our relationship with the Most Holy Trinity. But we don’t seek forgiveness because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are constantly irritated with us; we seek forgiveness because we want to always move ever closer to the Most Holy Trinity; we want to be able to fully experience the never-ending love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Of course, this is a huge topic, so if you have additional questions, or if you would like to know more about what we Orthodox believe about this subject, just let me know. I’d love to visit with you.