In his book, His Truth: Scripture Truths About Basic Doctrines, Jack Cottrell, an Arminian theologian, wrote on the subject of assurance.
He did not give a name for the view he defended. I think it would be appropriate to call it the “I hope I keep believing” view.
On Cottrell’s view, salvation is by faith apart from works, but you need to have a continuous faith in order to be saved. The moment you stop believing, you lose whatever provisional salvation you have.
Of course, we would strongly disagree with that.
However, in an odd way, Cottrell’s view of assurance is close to the Free Grace view in this sense: he links assurance to faith in the saving message, not to works:
That God’s protection is ours “through faith” leads to a second conclusion, namely, that our assurance of salvation is not conditioned upon works (His Truth, p. 115).
To put it another way, our sense of assurance derives from knowing we are justified by the blood of Christ, not from our having achieved a certain level of sanctification (His Truth, p. 115).
Cottrell argues that you ought to have assurance so long as you continue to believe the saving message—and he’s right about that! After all, that’s what assurance is: simply believing that what Jesus promised to do for believers is true.
But here’s the big difference between Cottrell and Free Grace: he thinks you lose both your assurance and your salvation when you stop believing; we think you only lose your assurance. We believe that Jesus gives believers eternal life, not provisional life.
If I took Cottrell’s position, I don’t think I could have assurance of my salvation, would you? I could not know if I would keep on believing until I died. On Cottrell’s view, assurance of salvation amounts to thinking this: “If I died right now, I think I would go to heaven. But I have no idea if I’ll go to heaven tomorrow.”
That’s not much of an assurance.
I would be interested in knowing if there are more Arminian theologians like Cottrell, who believe in a faith-only assurance. Let me know in the comments.