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Our Secure Salvation: Preservation and Apostasy (Explorations in Biblical Theology) Paperback – November 6, 2009
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"This book treats a difficult but crucial topic for the Christian life in a way that is both true to Scripture and pastorally sensitive. Written for a wide audience, not only pastors and teachers but other interested persons will find reading it edifying as well as instructive." --Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Westminster Theological Seminary
"Readers will find strength and encouragement from both the biblical and theological themes. . . . [of] preservation, perseverance, assurance, and apostasy so capably explained by Robert Peterson. It is a joy to recommend this book." --David S. Dockery, Union University
"Under the trusty captaincy of Professor Robert Peterson, a crew of seasoned Reformed sailors has set out to encompass a new Treasure Island -- an up-to-the-minute, mid-range, pastorally focused collection of Explorations in Biblical Theology. . . . These are books to look out for, and to collect as they see the light of day." --J. I. Packer, Regent College
About the Author
Robert A. Peterson (MDiv, Biblical Theological Seminary; PhD, Drew University) was professor of systematic theology at Covenant Seminary for more than twenty-five years. He has served seven churches as an interim pastor and is the author of a number of books, including Hell on Trial, Adopted by God, and Election and Free Will.
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Dr. Peterson's biblical theology of preservation and apostasy deals with core texts that are necessary in understanding these topics, showing how these doctrines easily relate with one another. Peterson looks at four main areas of Scripture--the Old Testament, the Gospels and Acts, the Pauline Epistles, and the General Epistles and Revelation--and with these, he spends five chapters on the topics of Preservation and Apostasy. Each topic features an opening chapter introducing the issues related to each of these themes, as well as an extremely helpful closing chapter entitled "Connecting the Dots." This chapter contains a summary of his treatment of the number of texts previously given throughout the book, and also focuses on bringing all of the difficult passages (which one may think of as contradictory) to light. Furthermore, Peterson gives four reasons to argue why these themes are important:
1) The Bible often speaks of preservation and apostasy
2) God uses preservation to assure His children
3) God teaches His children the need to persevere to the end
4) God warns His children of the danger of apostasy
Peterson writes experientially as he covers the relationship between the theme of perseverance and apostasy from a pastoral perspective. There is a list of six questions for further revision and reflection for either individual, or small group study. For those today that struggle with passages such as Hebrews 6, 1Timothy 1, 2Timothy 2, and 2Peter 2, this book will help the reader learn the relationship between apostasy and perseverance in proper context. Also, if one is struggling with their own assurance of faith, Dr. Peterson expresses the ways in which God's keeping of His elect is a fundamental, warm and heartfelt doctrine of the Christian faith.
One question the reviewer was left when was why considerable biblical material, especially from the Old Testament, was left untreated. As a result, the reader of Peterson's volume gets to see apostasy in the "warning" passages, yet never get the full sense of the theme itself, nor the theology of apostasy throughout the entire canon. As a result, my biggest critique of Our Secure Salvation is that, though it is part of the Explorations of Biblical Theology, yet it only deals with specific texts that treat this theme. Obviously, it is hard to do justice to a pervasire theme or topic of the Bible, such as apostasy or perseverance. Nevertheless, spending only one chapter on the Old Testament for both of these topics is lamentable. Dr. Peterson spends a mere 25-pages on the Old Testament, addressing both the individual and corporate aspects of themes of apostasy and perseverance. Although this chapter is excellent in material, deeper study of the theme, dealing with each of the covenants in the Old Testament, is certainly warranted.
Despite the lack of the Old Testament focus and only dealing with the warning passages in the New Testament, Dr. Peterson's book brings forth the often overlooked topic of apostasy in the church, and does so in a pastoral way. If anyone is looking for a group study or a place to start learning about these topics, Dr. Peterson's work is simple and helpful in addressing the most asked questions of a person dealing with both--or either--apostasy and perseverance.
Peterson admirably exposes as nonbiblical the notion that we can promise divine preservation apart from human perseverance, while ably refuting the opposite idea that perseverance depends upon human power. God's preservation is the invisible cause of our perseverance, Peterson rightly points out, and our perseverance is a visible fruit of God's preservation.
Although Peterson is a thorough-going Calvinist and I am not, that is totally unimportant here. I do not believe that God predestines anyone to damnation, or that anyone finally perishes solely because God chooses not to intervene on their behalf. Yet I joyfully embrace and affirm the truths that God is loving, powerful and faithful, and that he will finish what he begins.