SDA Dr. Bacchiocchi: Gnostics Taught Once Saved Always Saved

History of Early Christianity


Adventist scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi wrote:

The Roots of Eternal Security Are Found in Gnosticism

Some scholars trace the roots of eternal security back to the Gnostic teachings that found their way into the early church, especially through Augustine. For example, Jeff Paton notes: “Ultimately, the roots of eternal security are in the Gnosticism that preceded Augustine. But it was Augustine that has the unwelcomed honor of leavening the whole lump.”5

Gnosticism was a religious movement that flourished during the second and third centuries A. D., and presented a major challenge to Christianity. Most Gnostic sects professed Christianity, but their beliefs differed sharply from those of the majority of the early Christians. The term Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis (“revealed knowledge”). The Gnostics taught that sparks or seeds of the Divine Being were imprisoned into certain human beings. Reawakened by knowledge, the divine element in humanity can return to its proper home in the transcendent spiritual realm.

The gnostics divided mankind into three categories: the spiritual (pneumatic), the carnal (hylic), and the in-between (psychic). The spiritual Christians were a special or higher class than the ordinary Christians. They were said to be saved regardless of what they did because they had received, as the elect of the good deity, a divine spark into their beings that allowed them to be redeemed. This teaching is strikingly similar to the Calvinistic doctrine that God elected some people to be saved and others to be lost.

The second class, the carnal, were assumed to be beyond salvation, because their lives were governed by material wants and desires. The in-betweens were believed to be capable of salvation if they followed the Gnostic teachings.

It is not difficult to see the striking similarity between Gnostic and Calvinistic teachings. There are some differences, but the essence of their teachings is similar. Both Gnostics and Calvinists agree that Christians are saved not by means of their choice, but on account of their nature. Both taught that people are saved on account of their election. The Gnostic spirituals claimed to be the “elect seed,” because they had a divine spark in their being. Calvinists say that they are elected to salvation by the sovereign will of God. Both agree that their divine election is not affected in a negative way by their actions.

Both Gnostic and Calvinists taught that any sinful action does not affect their eternal salvation. The dualistic Gnostic teaching was illustrated by comparing their spiritual nature to a pure golden ring and their material body to a pile manure. The ring can be placed into a pile of dung, but is not affected by the filthiness of the dung. Its purity remains unchanged.

Both agree that there is nothing that can cause a saved persons to loose their salvation. The Gnostic took this teachings to its ultimate conclusion by pursuing their own lust and passions without restraints. Calvinists, however, believe that Christians who are saved grow in sanctification, though they would not lose their salvation, if they did not.

The similarities outlined above between Gnosticism and the Calvinistic doctrine of “Once saved, always saved,” are too numerous to be ignored. They serve to remind us that the teaching of eternal security is pagan in its origin and stands in open opposition to the teaching of the Bible.

A Biblical Evaluation of the Predestination of the Elect

The notion of God’s arbitrary predestination of some to salvation and other to perdition, is contrary to the overall teaching of the Bible. The message of the Bible is that God is both just and merciful…


The Bible clearly teaches that God wants every human being to be saved. Christ’s atoning sacrifice is for all, not for a selected few. The invitation and call of salvation is extended to all (Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D. ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 197. “ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED”. April 2008).

And on the above he is correct.

And perhaps it should be pointed out that the Apostle Paul made it clear that he did not believe in once saved always saved as he wrote that he could lose his salvation:

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended (Philippians 3:12-13).

It was Gnostic heretics like the second century Marcion that essentially set the stage of Calvinism, Lutheranism, and certain other forms of Protestantism.

John Calvin himself was a heretic as he condoned the killing of Anabaptists (please see Persecutions by Church and State), endorsed infant baptism, taught against the millennium (please see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?), and held to a variety of unbiblical doctrines.

If you are Protestant, this may be a good time to wake up and realize that the God of love really does have a plan to offer salvation to everyone who ever lived. And that it was from heretics that “once saved always saved” originated.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account?
Marcion: The First Protestant? Considered to have been an organized heretic, he taught against the Old Testament, the law, and the Sabbath. Some have considered him to be the first Protestant reformer. But was he?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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