Periodically, we get questions like this:

You say that Arminians are lost and tolerant Calvinists (those who speak peace to Arminians) are lost and those who speak peace to tolerant Calvinists (those who speak peace to those who speak peace to Arminians) are lost. Where does it end? Do you judge someone who speaks peace to someone who speaks peace to someone who speaks peace to someone who speaks peace to someone who speaks peace to someone who speaks peace to an Arminian lost?

I've called this "generational peace-speaking." How many generations of peace speaking do we go back?

The answer is quite simple, and it comes in the form of a question: How much does the peace-speaker know about the one to whom he is speaking peace and about the heresy in question? To put it in non-question form: It depends on how much the peace-speaker knows about the one to whom he is speaking peace and how much the peace-speaker knows about the heresy in question.

Because people think Arminianism is "subtle" (which it's not), let's go with an even "less subtle" heresy: Islam. All Muslims are lost. What of the person who professes to believe the true gospel but who says that at least some Muslims are saved (knowing what Muslims believe)? All of them are lost. We're up to two generations (1. The Muslims themselves, and 2. Someone who professes to believe the true gospel but who says that at least some Muslims are saved - knowing what Muslims believe). Generation 2 is equivalent to the "tolerant Calvinists." How about the third generation: the person who professes to believe the true gospel but who says that at least some #2's are saved, knowing what #2's believe and knowing what #1's believe? Let's think about this one. Here's Mr. C, someone who professes to believe the true gospel. He meets Mr. B, who also professes to believe the true gospel but who also says that at least some Muslims are saved. Mr. C knows this about Mr. B, knows what Muslims believe, and believes all Muslims are unregenerate. If Mr. C is regenerate, will Mr. C call Mr. B a brother in Christ, knowing that Mr. B knowingly speaks peace to Muslims and knowing what Muslims believe? Of course not. So much for the third generation. Let's go one more generation. Here's Mr. D, someone who professes to believe the true gospel, who knows what Muslims believe, and who believes that all Muslims are unregenerate. He meets Mr. C, who also professes to believe the true gospel and who believes all Muslims are unregenerate. So far so good. Mr. D then finds out that Mr. C knowingly speaks peace to Mr. B, who professes to believe the true gospel but who also knowingly speaks peace to Muslims. If Mr. D is regenerate, what will he think of Mr. C? He will consider Mr. C to be lost, will he not? And if Mr. D knowingly speaks peace to Mr. C, we would consider Mr. D to be lost, would we not? Now that's a lot of generations: Mr. D knowingly speaks peace to Mr. C who knowingly speaks peace to Mr. B who knowingly speaks peace to Mr. A (Mr. A being a Muslim). Or, put another way, Mr. D is knowingly tolerant of someone who is knowingly tolerant of someone who is knowingly tolerant of Muslims. Or, put another way, this is a person who knowingly speaks peace to someone who knowingly speaks peace to someone who knowingly speaks peace to Muslims. Yet we can see, in the instance of Islam, how we can still judge Mr. D lost for knowingly speaking peace to Mr. C who knowingly speaks peace to Mr. B who knowingly speaks peace to Mr. A. How many generations can we go? If the knowledge is there [and that is key, because the further away you get from the original heresy (e.g., Arminianism or Islam or whatever), the more likely it is that the person doesn't know that there is peace-speaking somewhere down the line], then it can go on and on.

Let's think of a scenario in which someone unknowingly speaks peace to an unbeliever. Let's go with Mr. E. He speaks peace to Mr. D, who professes to believe the true gospel and who says that all Muslims are unregenerate. Mr. E even questions Mr. D extensively and is satisfied that Mr. D believes the true gospel and thus speaks peace to Mr. D. All the while, unbeknownst to Mr. E, Mr. D is knowingly speaking peace to Mr. C, who knowingly speaks peace to the person who knowingly believes that at least some Muslims are regenerate. Do we judge Mr. E to be lost because he speaks peace to Mr. D? No. Mr. E, to the best of his knowledge, believes that Mr. D is saved based on what Mr. D has told him. So there's where we get to the knowledge piece. However, what if Mr. E finds out that Mr. D speaks peace to Mr. C? Is that enough to judge Mr. E lost? Again, no. Suppose Mr. D doesn't tell Mr. E that Mr. C speaks peace to the "tolerant Calvinist" (the one who says that at least some Muslims are saved); instead, suppose Mr. D says that Mr. C believes the true gospel and that all Muslims are unregenerate. Mr. E is still ignorant of the fact that Mr. D is knowingly speaking peace to someone who knowingly speaks peace to the person who believes that at least some Muslims are saved. If Mr. E is a mature believer, once he finds out that Mr. D speaks peace to Mr. C, he will want to find out what Mr. C believes and even fellowship with Mr. C and will thus ask Mr. C a lot of questions; he might then find out that Mr. C speaks peace to the person who believes that at least some Muslims are regenerate. But if Mr. E doesn't get that far (either Mr. D doesn't tell him about Mr. C or doesn't give Mr. E any contact information for Mr. C), then he could still be a Generation #5 peace-speaker and be a regenerate person at the same time, because he is not knowingly speaking peace; i.e., he does not know that toleration of Islam (and toleration of toleration of Islam, etc.) is in his line of peace-speaking.

I know that's a lot of numbers and letters, but I hope it makes sense! Again, it boils down to what the peace-speaker knows about the person to whom he is speaking peace and about the heresy in question.

In Christ,

Marc


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