Tag Archives: Thomas Marberry

Thomas Marberry’s “The Lucan Concept of Perseverance”: A Review

Kevin L. Hester

Dr. Thomas L. Marberry, Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Randall University, presented his paper entitled “The Lucan Concept of Perseverance” at the 2018 Theological Symposium held at Randall University in Moore, Oklahoma. The Theological Symposium is sponsored by the Commission for Theological Integrity of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Free Will Baptists are not strangers to theological discussions related to the perseverance of the saints and the possibility of apostasy. Theological and exegetical discussions of the topic abound, yet most of the exegetical arguments have been confined to Hebrews, II Peter, and the gospel of John. In 2013, Dr. Robert Picirilli published his book, Discipleship: The Expression of Saving Faith (Randall House), in which he outlined the importance of perseverance in faith as a necessary characteristic of a disciple. While not dependent upon this work, Marberry’s paper, focusing upon the gospel of Luke, extends some of Picirilli’s important conclusions related to the concept of discipleship in the synoptic gospels.

Marberry demonstrates that the concept of perseverance is lexically important in Acts and therefore conceptually in view in the gospel of Luke. Luke presents a number of calls to discipleship by Jesus and warnings against falling away during “trials and temptations.” Unlike Calvinist interpreters who prefer to see such warnings as either hypothetical or instrumental; or, who see such language as reflective of temporary followers who had insufficient, faulty, or false faith, Marberry concludes that Luke never makes such concessions. Instead, Luke’s understanding of faith is that “even true believers can depart from the faith and that perseverance is necessary for all who name the name of Christ.” (p. 63)[1]

Through a review of a number of Arminian and Free Will Baptist statements of faith, Marberry shows that this tradition has consistently insisted upon perseverance in faith as a necessary component of discipleship. Marberry then reviews several places in Luke’s gospel that seem to lead to the same conclusion. He discusses the Olivet Discourse (Luke 21), the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8), and the Parable of the Unfaithful Steward (Luke 12). Marberry provides important lexical analysis of key terms and compendious references to commentaries on these texts from differing theological positions. His conclusion is that Luke makes no distinction in his usage of the word faith and that attempts to read these warnings and descriptions as hypothetical or the result of false faith are driven by theological assertions unsupported by the Biblical text. Instead, Luke’s warnings indicate a real possibility for the believer’s falling away.

Marberry then briefly discusses the narrative accounts of Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial. He posits that both examples contribute to Luke’s understanding of perseverance. Judas turned away from his faith whereas peter repented and returned. Marberry asserts that the parallel indicates that both Judas and Peter were “true and faithful disciples of Jesus.” (p. 74) Peter, even in his failure, becomes an example of perseverance; whereas, Judas serves as a trope for apostasy.

While Marberry recognizes that “faith exists in degrees” (p. 74), the warnings of Luke’s gospel against falling away teach two important lessons. First, true believers who have true faith, can and do turn away from the truth they once received.  Second, while God’s will is “that believers endure the testings, trials, and tribulations” of this life, only those who persevere to the end shall be saved.” (p. 75)

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[1] All page numbers are derived from Symposium Digest of Papers.

Convention Round-Up

by Jackson Watts

Last week our National Association met in Little Rock for its 82nd annual meeting. The Commission for Theological Integrity held a seminar, and also elected a new Commission member.

Convention attendees are offered dozens of opportunities to take in seminars. However, long before seminars were common on the National program, the Theological Commission sponsored an annual theological trends seminar on Monday afternoon. This year that tradition was continued by Dr. Andrew Ball. Ball is professor of philosophy at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama. He presented a seminar on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in Theological Perspective. Those who attended had a number of meaningful questions and comments as this issue encroaches more and more on the life of God’s people.  Soon we will be providing a follow-up resource on this topic here on the blog, so check back soon  for more on this.

In the past year the Commission lost one of its members, Reverend Randy Corn, due to resignation. He had to resign due to health reasons, but we deeply appreciate the contributions he made during his time on our Commission.

At the Convention Dr. Thomas Marberry was elected to fulfill Brother Corn’s unexpired term, ending in 2019. Marberry is pastor of First FWB Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and distinguished professor of New Testament at Randall University. Previously, he served as vice president for academic affairs at Randall. Marberry earned a B.A. from Baylor University, a M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in the New Testament studies from Baylor University. He has taught Greek, theology, and church history for almost four decades, and has written extensively. He has published two Randall House Bible Commentaries–Galatians and 1,2,3 John, and is currently completing a commentary on the book of Luke. Dr. Marberry has been a presenter at the Theological Symposium many times, and has contributed to Integrity: A Journal of Christian Thought. We welcome him to our Commission!