We are getting off the theme of this thread, but I'm quite happy to continue either here or on a different thread. Let it be here for the moment...
your idea of eternal security, even when qualified by evidence of faith. ... a person can lose salvation even after exhibiting qualities of having been saved.
Sorry - my ambiguous way of writing, though not entirely unintentional, as to some extent hiding which side of the fence I am on, or whether I am still sitting on it. I wasn't writing to advance eternal security, that is, the teaching that real salvation cannot
be lost. Neither am I now writing to say it can
be lost! If you recall from my many outpourings on these threads over the months, I said that one thing that I find attractive about Orthodoxy is its room for mystery and its associated refusal to be bound by aristotelian logic, as western Christianity is to such an extent. The firm certitude with which Calvinists say you cannot lose real salvation, and the equally firm certitude with which Arminians (Methodist, Pentecostal) say you can, when there seem to be plain passages in Holy Writ which say one and other passages which plainly say the other, is a major example of the need I perceive for caution, for avoiding too inflexible a conviction on either whilst leaving no room for the other. (Ironically, of course, this very area, where I felt the need for mystery, is one on which Orthodoxy pronounces clearly! Heigh ho!)
Arminians, whether your Pentecostals or others, will nonetheless agree with me that the salvation, even if losable, is real now
and will be retained if discipleship is persisted in till death, so that one dies in the Faith. That is all I meant.
So I do not believe your statement is believed by all evangelicals. All Baptists, certainly.
Not all Baptists hold eternal security. The General Baptists, who began slightly earlier than the Particular Baptists, are Arminian; the Particular Baptists are Calvinist. Both persist to this day - certainly in Britain, and certainly both vigorously. There has been a marked resurgence of Calvinism in England and Wales since the mid-20th century; prior to that Armianianism held the field almost universally, largely through the influence of Methodism.
Now wait a minute. ...you said nothing to limit that statement to Baptist leadership. Absolutely our priests, bishops, missionaries, etc. should be looking for genuine faith in their flock--but the laity absolutely should not. We who do not preach should look only for faith in ourselves and not in others, for when we do, we inevitably compare ourselves to others, which is not helpful for salvation.
Here I think we amicably part company. There is a brotherly duty laid upon all Christians to be concerned for each other's welfare, spiritual or material. It is not left to leaders only - though God forbid that one should push it to the extent of becoming a prying busybody. And of course God sets leaders in his church.
You are right of course when you say we have no business comparing ourselves with others - except after the apostolic injunction to consider others better than ourselves, and no doubt (looking at our own hearts) to consider ourselves, like Paul, as the chief of sinners.
Imagine that you are sick, and in need of a doctor. Would you knock on your neighbour's door and ask him to treat you? Of course not! You choose the doctor carefully,
Your analogy falls down. I might well discreetly ask the advice or help of a friend or neighbour, at least as a first tentative step, if I suspected I had the same medical problem that he had passed through, and that he had found the answer to. That doesn't mean I wouldn't go on afterwards, or concurrently, to seek trained professional treatment as well. If my problem were not medical but spiritual, namely sin and the need to find forgiveness and peace with God, why not go as part of my search to someone I felt had found it? That doesn't preclude going also to a trained and experienced pastor.
You should not rely on the spiritual advice of just anyone, but of a spiritual father or another trusted person. Only then is it permissible for that person to judge your spiritual state, and with that permission comes the responsibility to do so accurately and appropriately.
A staretz, perhaps. The Lord grant us more such advisers!