So what is Dr Kendall’s position [of the doctrine of assurance]? He argues that it is completely rooted in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Taking Romans 10:9f as his foundational text, Kendall believes that a person who confesses with his lips that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised him from the dead, is saved. This salvation is not based on works, either before the confession, or after the confession, but by faith. Hence, if salvation is based upon faith alone and is completely devoid of works, then works, either good or bad, will not effect your salvation. Your assurance is found in your saving faith. The only thing a saved person can lose is his reward in heaven, never his salvation, regardless of his actions on the earth. Therefore a Christian who backslides, or falls into apostacy is still saved. Kendall rejects the notion that such a person was not a true believer, or had temporary faith. Such positions, Kendall argues, depart from justification by faith alone.
My paper will examine Dr Kendall’s challenge to the puritan tradition, as well as examining the strengths and weakness of each position. To begin with it is vital to see how the doctrine of assurance developed. Starting with John Calvin, we shall see the seeds of the puritan doctrine sown and how William Perkins developed it. The place of the Syllogism, practical and mystical as well as the reflex act. A question that needs to be answered is whether William Perkins moved away from Calvin’s position and set the agenda for the puritan understanding that was radically different from Calvinism, or had Perkin’s merely built on and developed naturally on the foundation laid by Calvin? Also the issue of temporary faith and limited atonement need to be addressed both theologically and pastorally.
We shall then consider Kendall’s understanding. Is he correct in saying that the Puritan view of Assurance was a departure from Calvin and was in fact no assurance at all. Does Puritan assurance come within a hairs breath of justification by works as Kendall claims?