Steve Witzki, Early Christian Writers on Apostasy

, posted by SEA

In the attached article, Steve Witzki surveys the thought of the early church on the topic of apostasy, concluding: “It seems rather apparent that the Ante-Nicene Fathers believed that a Christian could sever their saving relationship with Christ (i.e., commit apostasy) by persisting in unrepentant sinful behavior; by holding to false teachings that pervert the gospel message proclaimed by Christ and his apostles; or by denying Christ under the pressure of persecution . . . What the Christian Church historically believed about the security of the believer is not the ultimate test for determining our stance on this issue today, but the lack of historical precedent should serve as a warning. Before John Calvin, the teaching of unconditional eternal security was not a doctrine that was taught by the universal church through the centuries. Therefore, while the Scriptures are the ultimate test for truth on this issue, “once saved, always saved” teachers need to acknowledge that their doctrine is historically an anomaly. Furthermore, the brand of “once saved, always saved” teaching that says Christians can fall away from Christ or walk away from the Christian faith, and cease trusting in Jesus and still be on their way to heaven is nowhere to be found in historic Christianity prior to the twentieth century.

Early Christian Writers on Apostasy