Saturday, October 23, 2004

History's Second Papal Encyclical
In other words, the Second Letter of St. Peter in the Bible. It happened again this morning. Occasionally I come across this Scripture passage and I try to imagine how a Protestant could possibly read it and still think the "once saved, always saved" idea makes any sense. This morning I came across the passage in the Liturgy of the Hours, morning prayer. It is 2 Peter 1:10-11. I am going to provide two translations of it.

The Revised Standard Version of the Bible reads: "Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

So let me get this straight. God has called us, elected us (i.e., chosen us), to share in His divine life, to reject godless "corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). But that call is apparently NOT ONLY the action of God who calls, BUT ALSO MUST BE the response of man who is called. In other words, if our call and election were simply a one-time, static, once saved, always saved, sort of arrangement, it would make no sense for St. Peter to exhort his readers to DO something, to "be the more zealous to CONFIRM your call and election." Furthermore, what's at stake with God's call, what is the thing to which we must make a response and for which me must care and protect? It is precisely our "entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!"

Here is the translation from the Liturgy of the Hours. It comes across even more strongly, in my opinion: "Be solicitous to make your call and election permanent, brothers; surely those who do so will never be lost. On the contrary, your entry into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for."

Once saved, always saved? I'd be rather nervous right now if I proposed such an idea.

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