Doctrine of Assurance – Part 4

Dr R.T. Kendall rejects the Reformed teaching concerning temporary faith; those who fall away were never saved in the first place. Kendall holds that a man can be truly saved and yet backslide into apostasy. By taking passages such as 2 Peter 2:21, Galatians 5:4, Hebrews 6:6 &10:26 to refer not to salvation but to rewards in heaven, Kendall claims that the scriptures clearly teach once saved always saved.

Such an interpretation has been widely rejected. We shall look at those who claim that Kendall’s thesis is wrong. Perhaps the most direct attack comes from Paul Helm’s book Calvin and The Calvinists in which he argues that Kendall has misread the puritans completely. The foundation of assurance was indeed faith in Christ and his promises and that saving faith did by saving faith, by its very definition, contains assurance. Helm argues that to say that the puritans separated faith and assurance in not correct. Helm also rejects Kendall’s view that Puritan assurance was a departure from Calvin’s teaching. Helm argues that Perkins and co merely filled in the gaps in Calvin’s thought and developed his (Calvin’s) understanding. We shall examine Don Carson’s important article on assurance, where he examines the biblical and theological importance of this doctrine.

We will analyze the differences between these two positions. We will examine both their weakness and strengths, to see if a conclusion can be reached. Also and more importantly, we shall briefly examine the effects that the doctrine of assurance has had on the church and the effect it should have.


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