Below is a letter I just received from Allen Baird, who is a member of Covenant PRC in Northern Ireland and the Deputy Editor of the British Reformed Journal. Before this letter, I have inserted the letter that I wrote to him in response to an article he wrote in the British Reformed Journal. Incredibly, although Baird says in the article that Arminians deny the atonement altogether, he says in his letter to me that "the difference between us and ordinary Arminians is only one of degree" (emphasis his). Wow. The main reason I am posting this letter is because this is one of the most articulate defenses of tolerant "Calvinism" that I have ever seen, and we need to know how to respond to such articulate satanism. I have also included the following correspondence: (1) My response to Baird's initial letter; (2) My second response after Baird wrote me a letter in which he leveled some accusations against me that made me wonder whether or not he even read my initial response; and (3) My response to an e-mail from Brian Harris, Chairman of the British Reformed Fellowship, after I confronted him with what Allen Baird had written.

As you will see below, Baird thinks that what divides us is "What is the object of saving faith?" (He thinks that we believe that true propositions, rather than Christ, is the object of saving faith.) In reality, what divides us is "WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?"

Note that when portions of the letter are italicized, they are Baird's emphases.

May this be enlightening to you.

In Christ,

Marc

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Dear Allen,

Hello! I wanted to send you a letter you know how much I appreciated your book review of The Voice of Our Fathers in the latest issue of the BRJ. I especially appreciated what you said on pp. 30 & 31 regarding the Arminian view of the atonement. You correctly and emphatically stated that those who believe in universal atonement believe that the death of Christ saves no one of itself, that God cannot save some sinners because the sinners will not allow it, and that the atonement is limited by the will of the sinner. You correctly and emphatically stated that those who believe in universal atonement deny the vicarious atonement of Christ in total and thus DENY THE ATONEMENT ALTOGETHER! Right on! From what you have written, I gather that you believe that ALL who believe in universal atonement are unregenerate. Is this a correct conclusion on my part? I certainly hope so. The damnable heresy of universal atonement is the epitome of salvation conditioned on the sinner. Those who believe universal atonement believe that the work of Christ does NOT make the difference between heaven and hell; instead, they believe that it is the work of the SINNER that makes the difference between heaven and hell. This is obviously the false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner, as opposed to the true gospel of salvation conditioned solely on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ. I would like to know for sure that you consider all such people to be unregenerate. I would also welcome correspondence with you, if you have time.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Marc D. Carpenter

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18/1/2000

Dear Marc,

Thanks for your recent letter. I am glad that you appreciated and - even more importantly - agreed with my recent article in the BRJ on Dordt. However, I must confess that I deny your conclusions about all who have defective views on the atonement being unregenerate. But I would like to discuss this issue with you. There are reasons why I disagree. I am not going to simply say that you are some sort of 'extremist' or that you are applying 'mere human logic' to the content of Holy Scripture or any rubbish like that. I disagree with you for theological reasons, and I would now like to explain these to you.

I think that the basic issue which divides us is this question: What is the object of saving faith? For you, the answer seems to be that true propositions are the object of saving faith. Further, these true propositions must include in their number the five points of Calvinism. Therefore, you reason, since salvation depends upon believing these propositions, and since Arminians do not believe them, then Arminians can not be saved.

My answer is somewhat different to yours. In my opinion Jesus Christ himself is the object of saving faith. I currently believe that a person may be saved even if they have faulty views on the five points of Calvinism because they believe in Christ for their salvation, since saving faith is receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation as he is presented to us in the gospel. [1] Propositions do not save us. Christ does.

Now I do not believe that all Arminians are saved. What I am saying is that they may be regenerated, and many are. I am proposing that an Arminian may say that he believes that salvation is conditioned in some way by man but in actual fact believe in Christ alone for salvation. There is an important distinction here between theology and faith. They are not the same. Theology is reflection upon the life of faith. A person, for a variety of reasons, may possess a life of faith but profess a poor theology (e.g. lack of exposure to truth, inconsistency, immaturity). Likewise, a person may have an excellent theology and yet be utterly destitute of saving faith (James 2:19).

You might object that the hypothetical Arminian I have mentioned above is horribly inconsistent. On the one hand he says he has faith in Christ alone for salvation. On the other he talks about salvation being conditioned by man. Is this not just plain contradiction? Yes, of course it is. But two points require noting here. (1) Only God is perfectly self-consistent. This is the doctrine of divine simplicity, which is an incommunicable attribute of God, and therefore not shared by any human. (2) No human being since the fall, born by natural generation, is able to express a theology which is infallible and inerrant, or even fully consistent, except under divine inspiration.

Since we all have contradictions and errors in our thinking, it cannot be the case that the object of faith is only true propositions, for then none could be saved! We all have false views and teachings in our minds mixed with truth. We are all inconsistent with the truths we have. Therefore, it is my opinion that the difference between us and ordinary Arminians is only one of degree. We simply believe more truths and reject more errors in number than they do. Both Calvinists and Arminians may believe in the same Christ of the ancient church creeds. The difference is that Calvinists have a clearer and more consistent conception of the nature of Christ's work than the Arminian has. But neither is perfect, since both were constructed by sinners.

Notice that my argument depends on the assumption that not all Arminians are consistent with their Arminianism. Ordinary Arminians say that they believe that there are certain ways in which the work of Christ in salvation is conditioned on the sinner - although, of course, they might not put it quite like this! - but they behave in ways that contradict this theology. For instance, they say that they believe in Christ alone for salvation. Or again, they implicitly acknowledge God's sovereignty by the act of prayer. Or again, they reject the idea that they were saved by their own merit. Now if they were consistent Arminians, they could do none of these things. But then, if they were consistent, they would not even be Arminians any more, but Pelagians, or even atheists, since their position would logically require them to reject God completely.

So to the question in your letter where you say you would like to know for sure if I consider all such people (i.e. Arminians) to be unregenerate, I reply that I would not. I would say that they might be. Indeed, I would say that the consistent Arminian is not a Christian. But I would say that most Arminians are inconsistent, that their actual faith might be better than their expression of it, that Christ is able to save people who have faulty theology, and that it is possible to be orthodox with regard to doctrine and yet unregenerate (James 2:19).

Also, you should bear in mind that doctrinal orthodoxy is only one standard by which to test whether someone is a Christian. Other standards are love (John 13:35; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 John 3:14) and good works (James 2:17-18; 1 Peter 2:12). In these other departments, Arminians may and often have outdone Calvinists. You should learn to use all three aspects employed by the work of God in determining who is and is not a Christian, for then doctrinal orthodoxy will be seen in its proper context and with its proper conditioning factors. Only then can you gain a fully Biblical perspective on this whole debate.

I think that I can pre-empt at least one objection you might raise to all this. Even if Christ is the object of faith as you assert, how can you say that the Arminian believes in the same Christ as I do when we have such divergent views of His work in salvation? This is a good question, and I would try to answer it in three stages. Firstly, I would point to the fact that the Christ of the Christian faith is described for us in theology, but He is not equivalent to or identifiable with this theology. To know orthodox Christology is not to know Christ Himself, for Christ is a person not a theological proposition. Christology is a fallible attempt to point to and explain the Christ of the gospel who is now seated at the right hand of God in glory. Second, Arminians share with Calvinists the authoritative ecclesiastical or creedal teaching on the person of Christ which is found in the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. This is no small matter, for together these creeds present a detailed and even technical explanation of Christian theology with regard to the person and natures of Christ. Third, Arminians share with Calvinists much of the language and even content of our theology of the work of Christ. We both believe in Christ's humiliation and exaltation (i.e. the 'states' of Christ). We both believe that Christ was prophet, priest and king (i.e. the 'offices' of Christ). And even regarding the most controversial office, that of priest, we both believe in the biblical concepts of penal substitution, reconciliation, propitiation, and redemption.

This is all quite a lot to have in common, you know, especially when you consider that the theory of the atonement as satisfaction for sin was not even stated until Anselm in the eleventh century. According to your logic, if you are prepared to be consistent, you would have to conclude that no-one was regenerate prior to this stage in history, since they could not have had a proper understanding of the atoning work of Christ! Indeed, the situation was even worse than this, for the doctrine of limited atonement was not clearly stated until the seventeenth century. Were there no Christians between apostolic times and then? It is not even clear or explicit from his writings that Calvin held to it - was Calvin therefore unregenerate too? Was no-one saved before John Own wrote The Death of Death?

If I may conclude with a bit of application, Marc, and take you as an example of what I am trying to say, I would put it thus. Marc Carpenter is not consistent or without error either as a theologian or as a man. Because of this, he regularly breaks the first commandment in thought, word and deed. [2] To break the first commandment is to give glory unto some aspect of the created order rather than the Creator. I do not know exactly how he does it, but he does. But this is exactly what Marc claims the Arminians do when they condition God's salvation on their human will. So Marc and the Arminians are in the same boat. Yet Marc is saved. So why can't the Arminians be saved too?

I look forward to your reply. I am still open on this matter, so if you can convince me that I am wrong, I will alter my views. I hope that you are open to the word of God on this issue also.

Allen Baird

[1] See Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 86.

[2] See Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 82.


February 6, 2000

Dear Allen,

I am in receipt of your letter of January 18, 2000. I must say that I am surprised. In your article in the latest BRJ, you said, "Therefore, to put the matter at its most focused, it is not the case that the Arminians hold to one view of the atonement and the Reformed hold to another, but the Arminians really deny any atonement whatsoever!" And in your letter, you said, "However, I must confess that I deny your conclusions about all who have defective views on the atonement being unregenerate. ... Therefore, it is my opinion that the difference between us and ordinary Arminians is only one of degree. We simply believe more truths and reject more errors than they do. Both Calvinists and Arminians may believe in the same Christ of the ancient church creeds. The difference is that Calvinists have a clearer and more consistent conception of the nature of Christ's work than the Arminian has. ... So to the question in your letter where you say you would like to know for sure if I consider all such people (i.e. Arminians) to be unregenerate, I reply that I would not." This is absolutely incredible. You believe that Arminians deny any atonement whatsoever, yet some Arminians are regenerate; i.e., there are some atonement-deniers who are regenerate. I am stunned at your unashamed tolerance of those who you admit deny any atonement whatsoever.

You put forth a very articulate defense of tolerant "Calvinism" in your letter, and I am compelled to respond. I would like to take some of your own quotes and respond to them. May God see fit to show you the truth.

You said, "I think that the basic issue which divides us is this question: What is the object of saving faith?" No, this is not the basic issue which divides us. The basic issue which divides us is: What is the gospel? And beyond this is: Do all regenerate persons believe the gospel? We have fundamentally different views of the gospel. What I am about to say is the cornerstone of the rest of this letter. Read very closely.

In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:16-17). Those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are lost (Romans 10:3). What is this righteousness of God that is revealed in the gospel? The next verse (4) in Romans 10 explains it: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." The righteousness of God that is revealed in the gospel is the very imputed righteousness of Christ whereby God is just to justify the ungodly (Romans 3:26). It distinguishes the true God from all counterfeits; the true God is both "a just God and a Savior" (Isaiah 45:21), while all counterfeits are neither just nor saviors.

When God saves a person, He gives that person a knowledge of the only true God and of Jesus Christ (John 17:3), a knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). He enables that person to obey that form of doctrine that was delivered him (Romans 6:17-18). This truth is what sets him free (John 8:32). Those who do not have this knowledge pray to a god that cannot save (Isaiah 45:20). They might be zealous in their religion and morality, but since they do not have this knowledge, they are lost (Romans 10:2).

The gospel is the good news of salvation conditioned solely on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ. Those who believe the gospel know that Christ's work alone makes the difference between heaven and hell. They know that Christ's work alone demands and ensures their salvation. Those who make salvation conditioned on the sinner in any way to any degree are going about to establish a righteousness of their own.

You said: "For you, the answer seems to be that true propositions are the object of saving faith." I do not believe this. The object of saving faith is Jesus Christ. But is the object of saving faith Christ absolutely considered, without any connection to His work? Of course not. Those who have saving faith believe in Christ's person and Christ's work. There is no true belief in the person of Christ without belief in the work of Christ; they are inseparably connected. His name is Jesus because He saves His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). To believe on His name (e.g., John 1:12; 3:18) means to believe on the person and work of Christ. This is the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Saving faith believes that Christ alone met all the conditions for salvation.

You said: "Further, these true propositions must include in their number the five points of Calvinism. Therefore, you reason, since salvation depends upon believing these propositions, and since Arminians do not believe them, then Arminians can not be saved." Salvation does not depend upon believing anything. Salvation is a free gift of God. You also misrepresent me if you think that I believe that someone must be able to systematize and articulate the five points of Calvinism before I judge him to be saved. I do not believe this. The truth is that every regenerate person believes THE GOSPEL. And since he believes the gospel, he knows that his salvation is totally conditioned on the work of Christ. Thus, he will never believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner. He will never believe the antithesis to any of the doctrines of grace. He will never believe any of the doctrines of Arminianism, because he believes THE GOSPEL. Don't talk to me about the five points of Calvinism. I am beginning to abhor that phrase. Talk to me about THE GOSPEL.

You said: "I currently believe that a person may be saved even if they have faulty views on the five points of Calvinism because they believe in Christ for their salvation, since saving faith is receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation as he is presented to us in the gospel." And by "faulty views," I assume you include universal atonement. You currently believe that a person can believe in the true Christ and receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation and hold to universal atonement at the same time. This is because you do not know what the true gospel is. "As he is presented to us in the gospel" is key. Anyone who receives and rests upon a christ who died to make all men savable is NOT "as he is presented to us in the gospel." Those who receive and rest upon this christ believe an idol. They do not believe in a just God and a Savior; they do not believe that God is just to justify the ungodly. They do not believe that the only difference between heaven and hell is the work of Christ. They do believe that what makes the difference between heaven and hell is the work of the sinner. And since you believe that they believe the same gospel you do, then it shows without a doubt that you do not know the true gospel.

You said: "Propositions do not save us. Christ does." You conveniently raise a straw man. I have never said or even intimated that propositions save us. Christ alone saves. And when God regenerates His people, His people believe THE GOSPEL of salvation conditioned on Christ alone. They will NEVER believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner.

You said, "Now I do not believe that all Arminians are saved. What I am saying is that they may be regenerated, and many are." So you have judged many Arminians - those who deny any atonement whatsoever - to be saved. What is the standard that you use to judge them saved? Certainly not God's testimony. Instead, by judging them saved, you take sides with Satan, who said, "Ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4), and you take sides with the false prophets of Israel, who cried "Peace, peace" when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11).

You said, "I am proposing that an Arminian may say that he believes that salvation is conditioned in some way by man but in actual fact believe in Christ alone for salvation." This is in direct opposition to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, who says, "For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is know by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Luke 6:43-45). One who confesses a false gospel believes a false gospel.

Consider the scenario of a Roman Catholic who says that Mary is co-redemptrix and co-mediatrix. Would you then say, "I am proposing that a Roman Catholic may say that he believes Mary is co-redemptrix but in actual fact believes in Christ alone for salvation"?

You said "There is an important distinction here between theology and faith. They are not the same. Theology is reflection upon the life of faith. A person, for a variety of reasons, may possess a life of faith but profess a poor theology (e.g. lack of exposure to truth, inconsistency, immaturity)." The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul states, "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to KNOWLEDGE. For they being IGNORANT of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:1-2). The Holy Spirit through the apostle John states, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the DOCTRINE of Christ, hath not God" (2 John 9).

Again take the analogy of the Mariolater. Are you saying that such a person could be regenerate but just hasn't had exposure to truth or is merely inconsistent or immature?

You said, "Likewise, a person may have an excellent theology and yet be utterly destitute of saving faith (James 2:19)." You think James 2:19 is talking about those with an "excellent theology"? The person who claims to believe in one God but does not have works is heterodox!

You said: "No human being since the fall, born by natural generation, is able to express a theology which is infallible and inerrant, or even fully consistent, except under divine inspiration. ... We all have false views and teachings in our minds mixed with truth. We are all inconsistent with the truths we have." Okay - so does that mean that we consider the Mariolaters saved? After all, no human being is able to express a theology which is infallible and inerrant and fully consistent. And while we're at it, why not bring the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses into the fold? After all, they just have some wrong conceptions about Jesus, and no one has an infallible or fully consistent theology. And let's go even further - the Buddhists and the Muslims and the Hindus should be included as well. So they don't have a biblical view of God; why should that matter? After all, nobody is totally infallible and inerrant and consistent. As you can see, your argument falls flat on its face.

You said, "Therefore, it is my opinion that the difference between us and ordinary Arminians is only one of degree. We simply believe more truths and reject more errors in number than they do." I have absolutely no doubt that the difference between you and Arminians is only one of degree. I have absolutely no doubt that the difference between you and Arminians is that you believe a few more truths and reject a few more errors than they do. I'm surprised that you would just come out and say such a thing, since most compromisers are a little more subtle than this. But I appreciate your forthrightness. And until you know and believe the true gospel, you will continue to think (rightly) that you and Arminians believe the same gospel.

You said, "Both Calvinists and Arminians may believe in the same Christ of the ancient church creeds. The difference is that Calvinists have a clearer and more consistent conception of the nature of Christ's work than the Arminian has. But neither is perfect, since both were constructed by sinners." And you could say the same thing of the Mariolater: "The difference is that Calvinists have a clearer and more consistent conception of the nature of Christ's work than the one who believes that Mary is co-redemptrix. But neither is perfect, since both were constructed by sinners."

You said, "Notice that my argument depends on the assumption that not all Arminians are consistent with their Arminianism. Ordinary Arminians say that they believe that there are certain ways in which the work of Christ in salvation is conditioned on the sinner - although, of course, they might not put it quite like this! - but they behave in ways that contradict this theology." Ah - judging by outward appearance rather than by doctrine. You believe that their behavior outweighs their doctrine.

You said, "But I would say that most Arminians are inconsistent, that their actual faith might be better than their expression of it, that Christ is able to save people who have faulty theology, and that it is possible to be orthodox with regard to doctrine and yet unregenerate (James 2:19)." So the Mariolater's faith might be better than his expression of it? Or the Jehovah's Witness? Or Mormon? Perhaps the Muslim is just unable to express what he truly believes. Regarding your second point, of course Christ is able to save people who have faulty theology! Again, you raise a straw man. Christ is able to save even the worst Pharisee - consider Paul! But when Christ saved Paul, what happened? Paul believed THE GOSPEL and counted BUT DUNG all his efforts at religion and morality before he believed the true gospel (Philippians 3:4-9).

You said, "Also, you should bear in mind that doctrinal orthodoxy is only one standard by which to test whether someone is a Christian. Other standards are love (John 13:35; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 John 3:14) and good works (James 2:17-18; 1 Peter 2:12)." But what are the "love" and "good works" of a Muslim? His best efforts at "love" and "good works" are evil deeds and fruit unto death! Why? Because he DOESN'T BELIEVE THE GOSPEL. If someone believes in salvation conditioned on the sinner (as all Arminians do), then his supposed "love" and "good works," though they might be highly esteemed among men, are an abomination to God (Luke 16:15). True love "rejoiceth in the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:6). And the book of 1 John makes it clear that true godly love takes sides with the brethren against the self-righteous religious world. True love will not speak peace to the enemies of God's people. And what about love to the unregenerate? What is the most loving thing a Christian can tell a lost religionist? Is it, "the difference between you and me is only one of degree; I just believe more truths and reject more errors than you do"? Or is it, "You are lost and your deeds are evil, and you need to repent and believe the gospel"? When a doctor knows that his patient has a deadly disease that can be cured, is it loving for the doctor to say, "Everything is okay"? Or is it loving for the doctor to tell the patient of the disease so the patient will seek the remedy? It is actually HATRED to tell an Arminian that he is regenerate. It is hatred toward the Arminian, because it is promoting his eternal destruction, and it is hatred toward true Christians, because it is speaking peace to their enemies.

You said, "Arminians share with Calvinists the authoritative ecclesiastical or creedal teaching on the person of Christ which is found in the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed." Are you saying that you judge everyone saved who agrees with you on these three creeds? Do you know how many heretics you'd be welcoming into your fellowship?

You said, "We both believe in Christ's humiliation and exaltation (i.e. the 'states' of Christ)." True Christians do not believe the same things as Arminians do about Christ's humiliation and exaltation. You said, "We both believe that Christ was prophet, priest and king (i.e. the 'offices' of Christ)." True Christians do not believe the same things as Arminians about any of the offices of Christ. You said, "And even regarding the most controversial office, that of priest, we both believe in the biblical concepts of penal substitution, reconciliation, propitiation, and redemption." Oh, really? Well, Arminians might believe the same things you do about penal substitution, reconciliation, propitiation, and redemption, but they do not believe the same things I do about these things. In fact, they believe the antithesis of what I believe (and what all Christians believe) regarding penal substitution, reconciliation, propitiation, and redemption. Arminians believe say that Christ was the penal substitute of all without exception, Christ was reconciled to all without exception, that Christ was the propitiation for all without exception, and that Christ redeemed all without exception. They believe that some for whom Christ was punished, who were reconciled to God, for whom propitiation was made, for whom redemption was accomplished, will go to hell. This is blasphemy in the first degree. They are of their father, the Devil. And you, in speaking peace to them, are a participant in their evil deeds (2 John 11).

You said, "This is all quite a lot to have in common, you know, especially when you consider that the theory of the atonement as satisfaction for sin was not even stated until Anselm in the eleventh century. According to your logic, if you are prepared to be consistent, you would have to conclude that no-one was regenerate prior to this stage in history, since they could not have had a proper understanding of the atoning work of Christ!" You believe a falsehood. Everyone who believed and believes the gospel, from the first believer in the Old Testament to the last person to believe before Christ comes again, believed and believe that the atonement was satisfaction for sin.

You said, "Indeed, the situation was even worse than this, for the doctrine of limited atonement was not clearly stated until the seventeenth century. Were there no Christians between apostolic times and then?" Again, every believer throughout history has believed that Christ's work demanded and ensured the salvation of all whom he represented.

You said, "It is not even clear or explicit from his writings that Calvin held to it - was Calvin therefore unregenerate too?" You seem to think that if I found out that one of the "church fathers" held to universal atonement, that I would change my views. Let me make it very clear: If Calvin held to universal atonement, then he was LOST. However, I hear these things about Calvin, but no one ever comes forward with any proof.

You said, "If I may conclude with a bit of application, Marc, and take you as an example of what I am trying to say, I would put it thus. Marc Carpenter is not consistent or without error either as a theologian or as a man. Because of this, he regularly breaks the first commandment in thought, word and deed. To break the first commandment is to give glory unto some aspect of the created order rather than the Creator. I do not know exactly how he does it, but he does. But this is exactly what Marc claims the Arminians do when they condition God's salvation on their human will. So Marc and the Arminians are in the same boat. Yet Marc is saved. So why can't the Arminians be saved too?"

Okay. Let's look at your reasoning. Would you agree with the following:

"Marc Carpenter is not consistent or without error either as a theologian or as a man. Because of this, he regularly breaks the first commandment in thought, word and deed. To break the first commandment is to give glory unto some aspect of the created order rather than the Creator. I do not know exactly how he does it, but he does. Muslims break the first commandment by believing in a false god. So Marc and the Muslims are in the same boat. Yet Marc is saved. So why can't the Muslims be saved too?"

Your logic is seriously flawed.

I would like to conclude with this: Allen, I am concerned for your soul. Your letter has shown me that you do not know what the gospel is and that you have not repented of dead works and idolatry. You know what Arminians believe, and yet you say that at least some of them believe the same gospel you do. You are yet dead in your sins. I do not say this to be mean or unloving; I say this in hopes that you will flee to the only true God, a just God and a Savior, believe in the only true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone, and repent of speaking peace to the enemies of God. It is my prayer that God will use this letter to convert another tolerant "Calvinist" and that you will be a shining witness of God's grace to sinners. God has done it before with other tolerant "Calvinists," and I would rejoice to see it happen again. I am here for you and would love to continue to correspond with you.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Marc D. Carpenter


Dear Allen,

I am in receipt of your letter of March 15, 2000. You continue to misrepresent my views, making me wonder if you really took the time to carefully read my letter of February 6, 2000. You said,

"A certain novel form of Calvinistic orthodoxy is for you a necessary prerequisite to being an authentic Christian. This novel form of orthodoxy is expressed in your belief that 'the gospel is Calvinism' and 'Arminians are not saved.' Unless someone gives assent to both these creeds then you think that they are not saved."

Either you did not read my last letter, or you are deliberately lying about my views. And if you are telling others that these are my views, then you are also guilty of slander. I will tell you again what I believe:

(1) NOTHING is a prerequisite to salvation. "Calvinistic orthodoxy" is not a necessary prerequisite to salvation. Faith is not a necessary prerequisite to salvation. If I believed that something proceeding from the sinner was a prerequisite to salvation, I would be lost. God saves the UNGODLY.

(2) The gospel is the good news of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. Show me JUST ONE INSTANCE in which I said that "the gospel is Calvinism." If you cannot give evidence for your accusation, then you have made a FALSE accusation.

(3) When God regenerates someone, He gives that person faith and repentance. This faith is belief in salvation conditioned solely on the work of Christ, and this repentance is a turning from former idolatry and dead works. A regenerate person may have NEVER HEARD of Calvinism or Arminianism. Thus, your charge that I think that everyone is not saved who does not give assent to "the gospel is Calvinism" and "Arminians are not saved" is just blatantly false. I do not judge people by whether or not they say they are Calvinists; I judge people by whether or not they confess the true gospel and have repented of dead works and former idolatry.

Is this clear to you? Your charges are FALSE through and through. What you say I believe is NOT what I believe, and you will find NO EVIDENCE to back up your false accusations.

Repent and believe the gospel.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Marc D. Carpenter


Dear Brian,

You said:

> (3) The BRF has as its doctrinal standards the Three Forms of
> Unity and the
> Westminster Standards, both of which reject your views that it is
> necessary
> to believe in Calvinism in order to be called a Christian (Heidelberg
> Catechism Q&A 22-23) and that Arminians who profess faith in Christ and
> obedience unto him are outside the visible church (Westminster Confession
> 28/4 & Larger Catechism 166).


You misrepresent my position. I have NEVER said that it is necessary to believe in Calvinism in order to be called a Christian. I have said that every Christian believes the GOSPEL, which is the good news of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. A regenerate person may have NEVER HEARD of Calvinism or Arminianism. Please get that straight in your mind. If you wish to accuse me of holding to this "Christians believe in Calvinism" view, I expect you to back it up with quotes from my writings. A Christian might not be able to systematize or articulate the Doctrines of Grace. But since he believes the gospel, he believes that his salvation is conditioned on the work of Christ alone. Thus, he will never believe that anything that HE DID OR DOES makes the difference between heaven and hell. Thus, he will never believe in universal atonement, because those who believe in universal atonement DO NOT believe that Christ's work is what makes the difference between heaven and hell; instead, they believe that it is the WORK OF THE SINNER that makes the difference between heaven and hell. When God regenerates someone, He gives that person faith and repentance. This faith is belief in salvation conditioned solely on the work of Christ, and this repentance is a turning from former idolatry and dead works. I do not judge people by whether or not they say they are Calvinists; I judge people by whether or not they confess the true gospel and have repented of dead works and former idolatry. If a Christian used to be an Arminian, he will count his former religion as evil deeds and fruit unto death -- dung for the dung-heap. This is true repentance.

Regarding "Arminians who profess faith in Christ and obedience unto him": The question is WHAT CHRIST? In WHOM do they profess faith and obedience? Is it the TRUE Christ whose blood and righteousness demanded the salvation of all whom He represented, or is it a COUNTERFEIT? Do you see the Arminian christ as a COUNTERFEIT? Or do you see that the Arminian christ is the same as your christ and that the difference between you and Arminians is just a few unessential doctrinal minutiae?

Are some Mormons who profess faith in Christ and obedience unto him regenerate? What about Jehovah's Witnesses (after all, they're just a little bit off in their Christology)? What about those who believe that Mary is co-redemptrix (after all, they're just a little bit off in their soteriology)? Where do you draw the line?

God says that those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are lost (Romans 10:3). Do you believe this? Do you believe that Arminians are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel? Or do you believe that you worship the same god as some "regenerate" Arminians?

Make no mistake about it -- this is a LIFE AND DEATH issue. There's no fooling around here. Do you and others in the BRF believe the true gospel, and have you repented from dead works and idolatry? Or is the difference between you and Arminians merely one of degree? Is the BRF just another one of those "tolerant Calvinist" organizations?

To God ALONE be the glory.

Marc D. Carpenter


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