The Christian Reformed Church is a Protestant denomination that follows in the tradition of John Calvin and the Calvinists. As such, they believe that God is all-powerful and that salvation is entirely a work of God, occurring regardless of a human being's choices. Naturally, this belief in God's sovereignty applies directly to the question of whether or not a Christian can ever cease to be saved.
The Christian Reformed Church emerged as a specific strain of Protestant Christianity. The Reformed faith was profoundly influenced by John Calvin over other Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther. John Calvin developed a systematic theology that included a doctrine known as the "perseverance of the saints." Calvin taught that an individual chosen by God to be redeemed would always be redeemed, regardless of the person's good works or anything that might happen to the person.
The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is central to the beliefs of the Christian Reformed Church as well as many other Protestant denominations. This doctrine flows naturally from the other tenets of Calvinism, the theological system attributed to John Calvin. Perseverance of the saints means that the elect (a person God has chosen to save) will always be saved. This salvation cannot be lost or renounced.
This doctrine is similar to the doctrine of "eternal security," held primarily by Baptists. The doctrine of perseverance of the saints teaches that, while the elect still struggle with a sinful nature, on balance they will do good things and follow God's laws. Their obedience to Christ will be observable. The doctrine of eternal security teaches that once a person is saved they are always saved, no matter whether they live a life of good works afterward or not.
Canons of Dort
The Canons of Dort is one of three historical confessions accepted by the Christian Reformed Church. It was written in 1619 as a response to a theological conflict between Calvinism and another theological strain of Christianity, Arminianism. This document outlines the Reformed view of God, humanity and salvation and is organized into five areas of doctrinal emphasis. The fifth main point of doctrine concerns the perseverance of the saints, and specifically refutes the idea that the believer can choose to forfeit salvation.
The modern Christian Reformed Church accepts the traditional Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. The doctrine is articulated differently in modern times, however. Instead of an emphasis on the theological question of losing salvation, the Christian Reformed Church emphasizes the "covenant" nature of God's relationship with humanity. They teach that God's covenant with the believer is eternal and that God will maintain the covenant, even when the individual believer cannot.
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