The Teachings of

Zane Hodges, Joseph Dillow, Robert Wilkin
(The Grace Evangelical Society)

and the extreme teachings of J. D. Faust

Can a Saved Person Totally Abandon the Faith?


For a fuller discussion of this question, see Can a Saved Person Totally Abandon His Faith in Christ?

"But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Heb. 10:39).

The Teaching of Zane Hodges and Joseph Dillow

The fruitful believer

The partaker or heir

The believing believer

The overcomer

The barren believer

The carnal one (non-heir)

The saved person who stops believing

The non-overcomer

The "believing believer" will persevere in the faith and his physical life will be preserved (see Dillow, p.337). His life will be saved. (See Hodges, Gospel Under Siege, pp. 74-75)

The saved person who does not persevere in the faith will experience "loss" or "destruction." This judgment may involve physical death for the sinning saved person (see Dillow, p. 337).

Observations and Illustration:

According to Hodges, the word "perdition" in Hebrews 10:39 refers to "temporal ruin" not "eternal ruin" (Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 807). However, the Bible consistently uses this term to describe eternal destruction in hell. See Matthew 7:13 ("destruction"); John 17:12 ("son of perdition"—of Judas); Rom. 9:22; Phil. 1:28; 3:19; 2 Thess. 2:3 ("son of perdition"—of the man of sin); 1 Tim. 6:9; 2 Pet. 2:1; 3:7,16; Rev. 17:8,11. See the related term "perish" which is used in Matthew 10:28; Luke 13:3,5; John 3:15-16; 10:28; 2 Cor. 4:9; 2 Thess. 2:10; etc.

According to Dillow and Hodges, a truly saved person can depart from the faith, abandon the faith, reject the gospel, mock Christianity, stop believing, and yet still be saved. Hodges believes that a regenerate person can totally defect from the faith (total apostasy) and completely withdraw his Christian profession, and yet still be saved (see Bible Knowledge Commentary, Commentary on Hebrews, page 795). Dillow says, "It is possible for a truly born-again person to fall away from the faith and cease believing (emphasis mine). He is called a carnal Christian" (p.199). Note: The carnal Corinthians certainly did not fall away from the faith and cease believing!

The best way to illustrate this is by using one of Hodges’ own illustrations. Hodges’ illustration was given in a tape series which he delivered while speaking at the Church of the Open Door which at the time was pastored by G. Michael Cocoris. The series of tapes is entitled, "Great Themes in the Book of Hebrews" (available through Redencion Viva Publishers). I believe this is the same tape series which Dillow mentions as having been so influential to him and which helped him to look at the New Testament in a whole different way. On the tape entitled "The Peril of Not Growing" Hodges discusses the great warning passage found in Hebrews chapter 6 and he gives this personal illustration:

I have a friend, and more than a friend, a man who labored with me side by side in the ministry of God’s Word in the little group that has become __________ Bible chapel and this friend has fallen away from the Christian faith. He graduated from Bob Jones University and from Dallas Theological Seminary. And about the time when he and his wife left Dallas his wife contracted a very serious illness which over the years got progressively worse until she was reduced to being a complete invalid, and after the death of his wife I visited my friend (who now lives in the Midwest and who teaches Ancient History in a secular university). And as we sat in the living room together, face to face, he told me very frankly but graciously THAT HE NO LONGER CLAIMED TO BE A CHRISTIAN AT ALL, THAT HE NO LONGER BELIEVED THE THINGS THAT HE ONCE PREACHED AND TAUGHT, and the situation was even worse than he described because I heard through others that in the classroom on the university campus he often mocked and ridiculed the Christian faith. As I sat in that living room I was very painfully aware that it was impossible for me to talk that man into changing his mind. It was impossible for me to talk him back to the conviction he had once held. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE for me to renew him to repentance. You want to find someone harder to deal with than an unsaved person? Find a person like that….

Oh how disgraceful for a man to have known the truth and proclaimed the truth and then to deny the truth! He has put the Son of God to an open shame! Well you say, "I guess he’s headed for hell, right? I guess he’s headed for eternal damnation. He’s renounced his Christian faith." Wait a minute. I didn’t say that, and neither does the writer of Hebrews. Let me remind you that Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. He that cometh to Me shall never hunger and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst" and He also said, "He that cometh to Me I shall in no wise cast out"…. God’s will is that He lose no one (John 6:37-40). He has never lost anyone and HE NEVER WILL! And I grieve because my friend AND BROTHER has lost his faith BUT CHRIST HAS NOT LOST HIM. HE HAS LOST HIS FAITH BUT CHRIST HAS NOT LOST HIM! Do you believe in the grace of God?

That this was a very sad and tragic case, we would all agree.  It grieves the heart of every believer to see a man totally reject the things of Christ, the very Christ he once claimed to love.  It must have been a heart-breaking experience for Hodges.  Here was a man who no longer even professed that he knew God! He totally denied the Christian faith. He even mocked and ridiculed the Christian faith, that is, he taught against the truth of Christianity! Hodges believes that a regenerate person can totally defect from the faith (total apostasy) and completely withdraw his Christian profession, and yet still be saved (Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 795).

If Hodges were talking to this apostate, he would probably say something like this: 

My friend, I know you have turned your back on the faith and I know that you have rejected all that you once believed, and I've heard that you now go so far as to mock Christianity in the university classroom.  But I want you to know that you are still a saved man.  You have lost your faith but Christ has not lost you.  You have let go of Christ, but Christ has not let go of you.  

Is it really wise to try to assure an apostate that he is eternally safe?   Could it be that this man was never saved in the first place, although he seemed to be in many ways?   Don't the tares look very similar to the wheat?   Do not the unsaved people in Matthew 7:21-23 do certain things that might make you think they were believers?   Did they not do many wonderful works in Christ's Name?   Did not Judas fool many of his companions into thinking that he was one of them, when in reality he was only a mere pretender?   My counsel to this person would be much different than that of Hodges.  I would not want to give him any false hope or false assurance.  I don't want to tell him he is safe when he might not be safe at all.  I might say something like this:

"My friend, it has become clear that you have rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ, and when it comes to Jesus Christ you refuse to believe on Him, having rejected the great amount of light and knowledge which you previously had.  Because of this you are in great danger because God's Word says that the unbeliever is condemned (John 3:18) and will perish (John 3:16).  God's Word teaches that the unbeliever will die in his sins (John 8:24).  I know of no place in God's Word that gives any kind of comfort or any kind of hope to one who repudiates Christ and rejects His gospel.  To turn your back on Jesus Christ is to turn your back on your only hope of salvation."

Hodges’ friend, by his wicked departure from the living God, was giving evidence that he probably was never a true believer in the first place. He did not "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:6,14) and thus he was not a true part of Christ’s house. Like scaffolding, he was just a TEMPORARY ATTACHMENT (see Luke 8:13— "who for a while believe and in time of testing fall away" and compare 1 John 2:19). 

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