Dan Corner is a popular “holiness” preacher that rejects eternal security, and labels all who believe in “once saved, always saved” as heretics. Dan Corner has written an 800 page book on conditional security which rehashes many of the proof texts used by hyper-Arminians and Pentacostals to refute eternal security by mis-characterizing eternal security and what it means, and accusing those who believe it of promoting a license to sin. Ironically, he levies many of these charges against independent Baptists who are so often accused of legalism because of our emphasis on righteous living and standards. Thus, it is laughable that Corner renders such an accusation against Baptists that we promote licensure for sin.
In reviewing his videos on the subject of eternal security, I discovered a video where Corner also espouses to the heresy that Christians are not sinners. This is a popular view of the Nazarene denominations who believe that a believer receives a “second blessing” that gives them complete victory over sin.
Dan Corner accuses Christians who believe that even Christians are still sinners of being deceived by Satan to promote sin. Dan asks “is everyone in the Bible a sinner? Answer: No.” According to Corner, there are only sinners or saints, either righteous or unrighteous. Don sites as evidence Luke 15:7 which reads,
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Corner notes the difference between the 99 righteous and the one lost, and that the 99 need no repentance, thus if a Christian claims to be a sinner, he needs to repent.
Corner then quotes 1 Peter 4:18, “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Corner argues that because Peter contrasts the ungodly against the righteous, that this proves Christians are not sinners. Corner opines “Jesus said, ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). Corner then states that a Christian can become a sinner again after being saved, and cites James 5:20 “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”, and thus, a Christian can become a sinner again who needs to repent again to be saved (also relying on Romans 11:19).
Corner then attempts to explain away 1 Timothy 1:15 where Paul says he is chief of sinners that Paul is explaining his pre-conversion.
Now, Corner is correct in the fact that ultimately, there are only 2 classes of “haves” and “have nots”. But Corner has created a gross caricature and straw man of what eternal security proponents believe about being sinners, and offers views that conflict with his own theology. Corner has applied some very egregious methods of hermeneutics in his analysis of the believer verses his sin nature, and fails to observe that once a believer is saved, his sin nature is still attached. This could not be anymore clear than in Galations 5:16-17, and Romans chapters 6-7.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Paul shows above in Galations 5:16-17 that both the Spirit AND the flesh work in the believer concurrently. Paul further makes this abundantly clear in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”. Paul clearly shows that a believer can continue in sin, but that he should not because of grace. Paul states that we are freed from sin and thus should not serve it. Yet Paul still says “WE” should not serve sin because we are dead to the old man and baptized into Christ. Paul does not eliminate the possibility that the believer while being a believer can serve the flesh. Romans 6:16.
Corner does not recognize the difference between being declared judicially righteous which removes the judgment of sin and eliminates us as sinners positionally in Christ, but does not eliminate our being sinners experientially.
For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? Romans 3:7
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Paul showed that he delighted in the law of God after the inward man, which shows this passage is NOT about Paul’s life before conversion (as some have erroneously suggested). But noted a continual present tense manner in which sin still affected him.
Naturally, Corner attempts to offer a preemptive explanation of a verse that clearly refutes his doctrine in 1 Timothy 1:15 which states, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I AM chief.” Corner simply attributes this passage to Paul’s pre-conversion, but that’s not what the verse says. Paul did not say “of whom I WAS chief”, Paul said of “whom I AM chief”.
Corner’s reliance on Luke 15:7 is equally gruesome. Jesus is not referring to a believer that loses salvation and then repents again but of a lost Jew that has never put their faith in Christ in the first place. Jesus is referring to a person getting positionally right with Christ, and is not referring to the the sinful experiences that are still present in the believer after they are saved. Luke 15:7 serves instead to refute Corner’s view that a believer would ever have to repent again for salvation. If a believer is not a sinner that never needs to repent, then how could he possibly lose his salvation?
This brings up another point. If a Christian is not a sinner, then how could he ever backslide and become lost? If a Christian is no longer a sinner, then he must no longer possess the ability to sin, yet if he does not have the ability to sin, then common sense should show Mr. Corner that he would not be able to backslide into salvation-forfeiting apostasy or sin.
Luke 5:32 is equally as comparable to Luke 15:7 where Christ is again, not referring to a believer already in Christ, but a person who has never been in Christ in the first place. Also, these verse are in contrast not to truly righteous persons but to SELF RIGHTEOUS Pharisees. Jesus was not emphasizing a comparison between saved and lost, but that He did not come to call those who thought they possessed righteousness of their own. Luke 15:2, Luke 5:30 (for cross reference that explains this, see also Luke 13:2).
Corner views James 5:20 as a believer that falls from the faith to show that a believer can become a sinner again. But that’s not what James 5:20 says. James does not say if you see a brother lose his salvation then if you reconvert him you will save a soul from death. James 1:1 shows that the audience are to 12 TRIBES OF JEWS scattered abroad. The Greek word used for brother, adelphos, also means those of a racial or national ancestry. James is referring to his brothers as flesh and blood Israelites, and if a believer converts an unbelieving Jew to Christ he saves a soul from death. There is also a dispensational element of James that does not apply to the church age, which as with Hebrews, we will save for another discussion. But the fact that the Jews rejected Christ, Paul stopped preaching to them Acts 18:6 and stated Israel as a nation was under blindness. Romans 11:25-26. So certainly, James was not referring to the 12 tribes as believers, but is referring to believers who convert unbelieving Jews.
Furthermore, Corner has taken Romans 11:19-20 entirely out of its context. Romans 11:19-20. Corner here makes the same mistake that the Calvinists make in attributing Romans 9-11 to individual salvation instead of what the context is actually about, the grafting in of the Gentiles into the spiritual promises that Israel AS A NATION rejected, and then the future fulfillment of a remnant of Israelites who inherit the physical promises of the birthright through Ephraim of which the Gentile church is not privy to. Paul is giving the same admonition to Gentiles AS A WHOLE that Jesus spoke of against Israel in Matthew 23:37-39. Israel boasted of being the recipients of blessings merely because they were born in Abraham and Paul and Christ both affirmed that is not how it works (John 1:12-13, Romans 2:17-29). And likewise, a Gentile does not get in simply because he is a Gentile. Ultimately, the Gentiles as a whole have had as much time to receive Christ as did Israel (2,000 years) and thus the time of the Gentiles has reached it’s apex, and the time is near where Israel again becomes the focus. The Gentiles as a whole, have committed exactly what Paul said, and will be “un-grafted” from the opportunity to be the light to the world and recipients of the gospel offer until it is presented by JEWS during the tribulation (Rev 7:4-8, Rev 11:3-4, Rev 14:6). Thus this passage is not referring to individual Gentiles anymore than Romans 9-11 was referring to individual Jews or any individual element of salvation.
Corner’s reliance on 1 Peter 4:18 is also out of context. Peter here is referencing the sufferings of believers, and admonishes those who suffer as Christians to be happy. Yet Peter also says that a Christian can suffer as a thief or even a murderer (v. 15). Now that fact may seem to be preposterous to Corner, but being a murderer is spoken of in the same context as being a busybody in other men’s matters. So if a Christian can burn in hell for resorting to murder, he can also go to hell for gossiping and sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. The contrast that Peter shows here actually proves that a Christian can sin. Peter gives an example of such a wayward believer that would make Corner have a Pentacostal snake seizure. Peter in describing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, explains the following about the salvation of Lot,
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” 2 Peter 2:6-9
Peter showed that even though Lot was immoral, he still spared Lot and the angels literally drug Lot out of the city. Yet in all of Lot’s sin, he was still referred to by Peter as a “righteous man” with a “righteous soul”, and was used as an example of God’s ability to deliver the GODLY from temptation even though Lot was told the night before to leave, and did not, and had to be dragged out by the hand out of the city. Genesis 19:12-16. Even after Lot finally went to another city, Lot allowed his daughters to get him drunk and produce the Moabites and Ammonites with them.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (a proof text often sited by hyper-Arminians and those who believe one can lose salvation) makes it clear that one can not be out of Christ and then back in again, and if they could be, then they could never repent again and be re-placed back into Christ anyway. Although Hebrews 6:4-6 is directed specifically to tribulation Jews, the concept is still the same that IF a person could lose their salvation they could not repent again and be saved. (The relevance of this passage as pertaining to tribulation Jews will not be expounded upon in this article.)
As Christians, we still sin against the brethren (1 Corinthians 8:12), we can sin by unresolved anger (Eph 4:26) and we are to rebuke other believers who engage in blatant sin (1 Tim 5:20). John says in 1 John 2:28,
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
Now if a Christian can not sin, then how could he possibly be ashamed when Christ comes? This also goes to show that there will be Christians who stand before Christ that will regret not having lived for Him and will lose rewards (1 Cor 3:15). How can a Christian lose rewards without losing his salvation? Would not the same acts necessary to lose rewards be the same acts that would jeopardize a believers salvation? And yet the believer in 1 Corinthians 3 only loses rewards but not salvation. The very existence of a system of rewards that can be gained or lost annihilates Corner’s views against eternal security or that a believer can still be a sinner.
We will deal with Corner’s book against eternal security/once saved-always saved, in another segment although we have touched the surface of it in this section. But suffice it to say that Corner has completely misinterpreted Scripture that has nothing to do with a believer being righteous and then having to repent unto salvation again. He has ignored the differences in the Bible that show a believer’s positional and judicial righteousness in Christ that has delivered us from the penalty, the indwelling of that Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to refrain from the power of sin, and his experiential nature that still has not been delivered from the presence of sin. Corner makes the categorical error of ascribing the unsaved persons sin nature to the sinful actions of Christians, and slanders Christians that maintain they are sinners as a verb, to what an unsaved person is by noun. An unsaved person sins because he is a sinner and chooses to act out of sinful nature in rebellion against God;, a Christian is a sinner because he sins, and that is the fundamental difference between the two because the Christian is declared righteous by God but still sins, and thus is in the verb sense a sinner, but not in the noun sense as an unbeliever.
The Christian is not exempt from chastisement when he sins, and certainly being saved is not a license to sin. But thanks to God IF we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1, and were sealed by the Holy Spirit the moment we received Christ. Eph 1:13, that it is HE that performs the work in us until the day of Christ. Phil 1:6, and having begun in the Spirit we can not be perfected by the flesh. Gal 3:3.
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 1 Timothy 1:12.
Dr. James Ach and Dr. Elisha Weismann