Back in April, of last year (2005), I included a response to a review of my book, "The Rod: Will God Spare It?" in the Kingdom Alert. The review was by Dr. Vic Reasoner of The Arminian Magazine. If you missed it, you may find the review, and my response, online:
( http://www.kingdombaptist.org/Viv_Reasoner.cfm )
Recently, I received in the mail a free copy of, "The Believer's Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted," by Daniel D. Corner. One of the Foreword's of this book is written by Dr. Vic Reasoner. He is a postmillennial preterist. Daniel Corner's book is 801 pages, and it was written in 2000 (a few years before my book was published). On his web site, Corner calls his book "The most exhaustive refutation to eternal security ever written!"
( http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/whatsnew.htm )
On this same web site, Mr. Corner has issued the following debate challenge:
"I, Dan Corner, openly challenge any and all qualified advocates of eternal security (also known as perseverance of the saints) to publicly debate this issue with me in a fair, equally timed exchange of ideas."
His challenge is insincere, and it is aimed only at those who are considered by Mr. Corner as easy targets (i.e. those who apply all the Biblical warnings to unbelievers or false professors). In such a debate, the "eternal security side" will list the eternal security verses, and he will simply cite the hundreds of verses that speak of punishment after death or at the Lord's return. But it is too bad for Mr. Corner that he seems to have forgotten that for 300 years the early Christians were premillennial! And the premillennial view of the Scriptures allows for an entire age to be inserted between the present age and the eternal age. Since this "world to come" (i.e. the Millennium) begins at the final stage of the Second Coming, Mr. Corner is left with the impossible task of proving that the warnings to disobedient believers in the Scriptures apply to the eternal age (beginning at the Great White Throne, after the Kingdom has been delivered up to the Father), and not to temporary punishments at the Judgment Seat of Christ and during the world to come (i.e. the Millennium). Mr. Corner, after studying the material in my book, "The Rod: Will God Spare It?," completely backed out of our debate (I had accepted his "challenge"). He stated that he does not debate pastors, authors and teachers who are AV Only (unless they promise to never raise a "translational issue" in the debate!). I even agreed to not allow the debate to get tangled up or distracted by such issues. However, it appears that Mr. Corner was only using this issue as a smokescreen.
In the past few years, there have been a number of reviews, critiques, and even a lengthy video by Jack Van Impe in response to "The Rod: Will God Spare It?". There have been "email bombs" and "email tirades" by some others; yet none of these could rightly be seen as an organized, public debate, where each side submits to equal time, and is unable to duck and evade issues easily. Why the silence? It cannot simply be that the issues I have raised are not important enough, or worth the time of these various scholars and teachers. The numerous reviews and critiques argue against such an answer. I can only conclude that it is easier to "review" a book or doctrine, than it is to defend one's review!:
Proverbs 18:17 He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
It is quite easy to simply inveigh against a doctrine, and then appear reasonable to one's own eyes. It is quite another thing to have one's objections "searched" and weighed. This is why open disputation can be so valuable; and this is why it was practiced so much by the early Apostles and other Christians (Acts 6:9, 9:29, 15:7, 17:17, 19:8-9).
Nevertheless, since Mr. Corner refuses to debate, yet I have received a copy of his book, I will respond by examining it in light of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that the following series will edify and strengthen the faith of many in our gracious, merciful Lord, who loves every believer with an everlasting love.
THE ARMINIANISM OF DANIEL D. CORNER REFUTED - Part 1:
(BY JOEY FAUST)
The following is a refutation of, "The Believer's Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted," by Daniel D. Corner (http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org).
The book begins with an introduction wherein Mr. Corner cites some letters from people who profess to have witnessed rotten fruit from eternal security in their children and friends. Of course, this is eternal security as it is taught in modern times, by many. Fifteen years of weekly street evangelism and neighborhood-door-knocking has likewise convinced me that something is greatly wrong with the doctrine of eternal security AS IT IS COMMONLY TAUGHT TODAY. Of course, it is not the doctrine of eternal security that is wrong; it is the fact that the true teaching concerning the Judgment Seat of Christ is watered-down or left out.
Mr. Corner is not even out of his Introduction (on page 3) and he already reveals the wrong assumption that has caused him to go astray doctrinally. He writes:
"One must wonder, how could such a teaching that would allow the unrepentant sexually immoral, drunkards, greedy, etc. into HEAVEN even exists when Paul, the real grace teacher, clearly said numerous times such won't inherit the KINGDOM OF GOD (1 Cor. 6:9,10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5-7)?"
Mr. Corner is not able to find the word "heaven" used anywhere near the texts he cites. He pulled the word out of thin air and inserted it into the text. To start with, Jesus will come TO EARTH to reign for 1000-years at His Second Coming. After this Millennial Kingdom, the Bible teaches that New Jerusalem will descend down from God OUT OF HEAVEN, and the tabernacle of God will be WITH MEN and He will dwell with them eternally:
Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming DOWN from God OUT OF HEAVEN, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Mr. Corner is also wrong in using the phrase "the Kingdom of God," as it appears in the verses he lists (1. Cor. 6, Gal. 5, Eph. 5), as a synonym for "heaven" (by which we assume he means "everlasting life" or the eternal age). Did he not read how the phrase "the kingdom" is used by Paul (when speaking of the eschatological kingdom) in 1 Corinthians 15?:
1 Corinthians 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up THE KINGDOM to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For HE MUST REIGN, TILL he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
The "kingdom" is the Millennium in 1 Corinthians 15. It is the kingdom that is established at the Lord's coming:
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
It lasts 1000-years, and then it is delivered up to the Father:
Revelation 20:6...they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall REIGN with him a thousand years.
1 Corinthians 15:25 For HE MUST REIGN, TILL he hath put all enemies under his feet.
J. Frank Norris, on this verse, writes:
"The Scriptures teach (1) That Christ will return to the earth in Person, and (2) Establish His kingdom on the earth, and (3) Reign until He has put all enemies under His feet...'For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.' It is very clear in this passage...that our Lord Jesus is represented as administering the affairs of this world as King, and when He has finished then He delivers the kingdom up to God. The allusion here is to a Roman viceroy or governor of provinces, who, when their administration was ended, delivered up their kingdom or government into the hands of the emperor...The early church for 300 years believed in the Premillennial coming of Jesus Christ...Mosheim, perhaps the greatest church historian, says, 'The prevailing opinion that Christ was to come and reign a thousand years among men before the final dissolution of the world, had met with no opposition until the time of Origen."
("The Norris-Hines Debate," 1946)
Therefore, Mr. Corner has barely even started, and he has already revealed a major reason for his confusion. He thinks that the "kingdom of God" in Paul's Epistles is HEAVEN, when it is plainly the Millennial Kingdom established at Christ's future coming! Corner has, perhaps unknowingly, adopted Augustine's view (or the Popish view) of the "kingdom" in the Epistles. This view, beginning with Origen, departed from three-hundred years of premillennial doctrine that was embraced by the early Christians, including the Apostles.
Therefore, so far, all Corner has revealed is that some believers who fall into immoralities, etc., and do not repent, will not inherit the Millennial Kingdom. What does this have to do with ETERNAL security? The Millennium is in time. It is not the eternal state.
"One must also ask, whatever happened to the stress on fearing God and holy living?" (p.6).
I wonder the same thing. But what does this really have to do with eternal security? The fact that so many have gladly embraced eternal security, while neglecting the Lord's warnings concerning the Judgment Seat of Christ (and His commands for holiness), only reveals that these warnings need to be taught and preached with all long-suffering and doctrine. But Corner is not teaching these warnings. In fact, he has fallen through the floor! He is off the foundation. He appears to only see TWO ages (i.e. this present age and the eternal age), but the Bible speaks of THREE ages (i.e. this present age; the coming Millennial age; and the eternal age).
"In the same way, to accept eternal security as truth will behaviorally affect you to some degree." (p. 7).
Corner has missed the fact that, although the streets are indeed filled with drunkards who use eternal security (without warnings) as an excuse to sin, they are ALSO filled with drunkards who profess to believe in conditional security (loss of salvation)! I invite him to come with us any weekend, and he will see this to be true in half an hour. And I believe it is possible that we will find more drunkards who reject eternal security than those who embrace it. However, I do agree that mere eternal security, without the Bible's warnings, is incomplete and imbalanced.
But Corner's statement misses an important truth. Love is a strong motivation for believers in the Bible. Paul beseeches believers by [on the basis of] the mercies of God (Romans 12:1). The "love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14). I often ask "Arminians" which gift would cause us to see God's love for us in a greater manner (and thus break our hearts, and provoke us to gratitude), a gift that we can forfeit once we possess it, or a gift that we can never forfeit? Would not an adopted son see the love of his new father more if his father told him that he would always be his son unconditionally, regardless of his conduct? Would not his heart burn within him if he was told that, although there are high standards and severe discipline in the household, there is also unconditional love?:
Psalms 89:28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.
29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;
31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;
32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
33 NEVERTHELESS MY LOVINGKINDNESS WILL I NOT UTTERLY TAKE FROM HIM, nor suffer MY FAITHFULNESS to fail.
It is a very sad thing for Arminians that they do not know for sure that they will endure until the end and not end up an enemy of God eternally. It is very sad that they have never experienced what it means to be eternally loved on the basis of the faithfulness of Christ, and not our own works. (Hyper-Calvinists also have a similar problem. They do not know for sure that five years from now they will not fall into "habitual sin" and thus prove to all - according to their view - that all along they have been only false professors with a false, temporary faith. They may say that they trust God that this will not be the case. But false professors can say the same thing. They really will not be able to know for sure until the end of their lives - and yet, since God does not see as man sees - they really cannot know that they have "endured until the end" until they stand before God. In this, Arminians and hyper-Calvinists meet together). It is sad that Arminians have never known the motivation that comes from understanding that God has blessed us with a free gift that cannot be lost.
I have heard the replies that are made to these arguments. But in spite of them all, Corner must confess that a gift that cannot be lost is a GREATER GIFT. Therefore, since we love God because He first loved us, it is a serious thing to lessen this gift by confusing it with the prize! The prize may be forfeited. But the gift is secure. God has wisely granted us two motivations. He has given us a gift that is so wonderful, it cannot be lost, since the Blood of Jesus will never lose its worth! Yet, we also have before us a prize, and warnings associated with it. And this prize can be lost, and there is much to fear.
Arminianism weakens the constraining power of love, by robbing the professing believer of the doctrine of God's unconditional, everlasting, unfailing love. It must "argue around" scores of verses. Yet, when the warnings are rightly applied to the Judgment Seat and the Millennium, the promises of eternal security are left free to work their own motivations in the life of the believer. Horatius Bonar reproved such teachings over a century ago:
"The teaching of some in the present day seems fitted, that of others intended, to hinder assurance. Assurance, say some, is impossible. Not impossible, say others, but very hard of attainment; not only very hard, but very long of being reached, requiring at least some thirty or forty years of prayer and good works. Very dangerous, say others, introducing presumption, and sure to end in apostasy. I confess I do not see how my being thoroughly persuaded that a holy God loves me with a holy love, and has forgiven me all my sins, has a tendency to evil (even though I may have reached that conclusion quickly.) It seems, of all truths, one of the likeliest to make me holy, to kindle love, to stimulate to good works, and to abase all pride; whereas uncertainty in this matter enfeebles me, darkens me, bewilders me, incapacitates me for service or, at the best, sets me striving to work my way into the favor of God, under the influence of a subordinate and mercenary class of motives, which can do nothing but keep me dreading and doubting all the days of my life, leaving me, perhaps, at the close, in hopeless darkness."
(Horatius Bonar, "God's Way of Holiness")
Mr. Corner closes his introduction with the following words:
"'The Believer's Conditional Security' maintains that we are saved by grace, salvation is a gift, eternal life comes instantly the moment we truly believe on Jesus for salvation, and righteousness is imputed by our faith in Christ." (p.8)
Corner's idea of "grace" would be like me "GRACIOUSLY" offering him $200 IF he will embrace eternal security AND NEVER TURN BACK AGAIN TO ARMINIANISM. It has strings attached. In contrast to Corner's idea of "grace" and a "gift," God gives eternal salvation to all believers on the basis of the works of Christ! It is a salvation that has already been purchased by the merit and atoning Blood of Jesus. How then, can works ever play a part in such grace? Corner reveals that he has a very dangerous, improper understanding of the Gospel and its redemption. Eternal salvation is not of works. It is not given on the basis of past works (at least not our works), or present works, or future works! Once possessed, it does not have to be maintained, kept, polished or anything else to be genuine.
In fact, true faith is knowing that you are eternal secure by the Blood of Jesus that has been shed for your sins! If you do not know that you are eternally secure (and will always be), then you have not yet properly trusted in Jesus (unless you once believed you were secure in the past, but were later robbed of it by false teaching or reasoning). It is therefore crucial that you fully rest in the finished, completed work of Christ, and do not rely upon your own merits - even those that you give God the glory for working in you!
Mr. Corner teaches that men, though regenerated by faith, are ultimately secure through enduring to the end in the righteousness that the Holy Spirit desires to work in the submissive believer. By adopting Augustine's view of the kingdom in the Epistles (i.e. or a view similar - that it is not the Millennial Kingdom to be established at the return of Christ), he has been led right into the similar error of Augustine in regard to the Gospel and salvation. Although he rejects Augustine's "Calvinism" and baptismal regeneration, etc., his insertion of "heaven" for the kingdom has caused him to adopt a salvation that is kept only by refraining from the sins that Paul teaches will cause believers to not inherit the kingdom of God.