• Sharon Irvine says:

    I am surprised at the assertion that the motivation for attending to a call for salvation may influence that individual’s assurance of salvation. Can we truly extricate the influence of authority in any child’s conversion?

    • Sharon, that is a fair question. I do however think this is a very important issue. A child choosing to obey a church authority figure and thus going forward in this instance is not the same as a child making the existential commitment to Christ. My concern in the situation I referenced is that the way the “call” was given made it so that any obedient child regardless of any change in their spiritual state could have (probably should have) gone forward. It was the only time I’ve seen a “call” handled so carelessly. If any of those children went forward out of obedience rather than because of true conversion I think it is very likely that they will struggle with assurance of salvation simply because they are not, in fact, redeemed.

      I think the motivation for responding to a call to salvation makes all the difference. From my perspective, the faith is entirely inward. If they respond out of anything other than a saving contrition then there is a reason for concern.

      • Sharon Irvine says:

        I suppose that I am personally reassured that salvation is a condition of the heart over time. This is, likely, my Wesleyan background surfacing. In this tradition, salvation is not a high-stakes moment that prescribes the individual’s future relationship with God. But rather, it is a commitment that is nurtured and developed by the Ecclesia. (I enjoyed that distinction and understand your description only as I understand men and women of God in my tradition). It is the decisions and actions of the individual after choosing salvation that describe the confidence and assurance of his or her relationship with God, or his or her salvation.

        Now, it may be that a child is overly impressionable and substitutes church persona for God. He or she may have been more likely to respond to the call. And, it is likely that as soon as the next wave of super cool people comes around (a term of trade in religious circles) he or she will abandon the rigors of commitment. This covered nicely in Matthew by the parable of the seeds.

        However, we are promised that whoever seeks will find. I cannot accept that an individual truly seeking God may be barred from finding God simply by virtue of the purity of the moment of salvation.

        I am thankful that God’s power is not limited by man’s narcissism and that he can manage his work even through an imperfect vessel.

        • Thanks for the clarification. I actually agree with pretty much everything you say. I do think there is a moment of salvation though I also think we may not always be able to identify it. It can be kind of like a boy not knowing exactly when he fell in love with a girl all he knows is at one point he didn’t love her but now he does.

          To clarify my point, I don’t think that an individual truly seeking God will be barred at all from finding him. The Wesleyan tradition and the Baptist tradition are actually fairly different on the issue of eternal security. In the Baptist world there is the doctrine often called Once Saved Always Saved or in a more formal context it is called the Perseverance of the Saints. So, in the Baptist world, at least some parts of it, these kids will be encouraged sometimes explicitly and often implicitly to not worry about their eternal state because they went forward at that kids camp. My concern is that some, maybe many, of these kids did not make a decision for God at the conference they simply were obedient to the leader. I think those are very different. Some of these kids will struggle because they never actually made a decision but the religious machine tells them they did.

          I will admit that part of my concern is with the Perseverance of the Saints doctrine. My own theology is more Classical Arminian, which has consonance with both Wesleyanism and Reformed theology. In some ways, it is a kind of midway point. I think that at times the Perseverance of the Saints combined with a type of easy believism plus throw in some Christian Nationalism and some people never fully consider their spiritual state or are lulled into s sense of security which down deep they know, or should know, is at odds with the truth.

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