A brief thought on the Christian debate between ‘Eternal Security’ (which probably has other names, but very basically asserts that a person cannot lose their salvation), and viewpoints that argue that you can lose your salvation (by falling into a pattern of sin, and generally not practicing your faith):
Maybe one problem with the debate is that it focuses on the theological rather than the practical. I get that the overall objective is the eternal salvation of souls, and given that objective, the above statement is not very satisfying. However, the eternal focus could serve as a facade for a bare-minimum ethic, like, ‘what is the bare minimum standard a person must meet in order to be saved?’ That sort of fits a ‘cheap law’ scenario, where you check certain boxes every week in order to maintain your status. (The term ‘cheap law’ is borrowed from Andrew Farley, author of the book ‘God Without Religion: Can it Really Be This Simple?’. Whether it originated with him, I don’t recall. I believe it was him who commented that the problem with the church is not ‘cheap grace’, but ‘cheap law’.) Checking those boxes makes it sound like a kind of sacrificial system, making me consider a line from Hebrews 10:1, “…it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year.”
I believe that the call is not for a bare minimum, but for a relationship.
Another thought I had about the debate is that there is a tendency to consider some sins better or worse than others. Yes, there are some sinful actions that have more severe earthly consequences than others, but there is too much focus on the list, and not enough on the condition.
I think that one pattern that creates a need to establish a ‘bare minimum criteria for salvation status’ is that people often don’t really know each other. Let’s say you have a small church of fifty people with one pastor: he could lead by teaching, but how many close relationships can he realistically maintain? It would be better if each person knew three to five people so that they would have a reasonably good feel for where each of those people were at personally. I believe that this level of relationship was what Paul was calling for when he talked about the need to “judge the body rightly” in 1 Corinthians 11:29. (See Holy Crumbs)