A Predicament for Defenders of Tolerant Calvinists


Definition of Tolerant Calvinist: A person who claims to believe the gospel of sovereign grace but who says that at least some who believe in universal atonement (that Jesus died for everyone without exception) are saved. (Please note that the term "Tolerant Calvinist" is not meant to imply that all "Intolerant Calvinists" are regenerate.)

There are many defenders of Tolerant Calvinists - those who believe that Tolerant Calvinists are saved. There are the Tolerant Calvinists themselves, who would, of course, defend themselves and others who believe like they do. But there are some who claim to eschew Tolerant Calvinism, who say that the Tolerant Calvinists are wrong in believing that at least some universal atonement advocates are saved, who say they believe that all universal atonement advocates are unsaved, yet who also say that not all Tolerant Calvinists are unsaved.

Their reasoning goes like this: All who believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Jesus Christ alone (who believe that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation, who believe that the work of Christ alone ensures and demands the salvation of everyone whom Christ represented) are saved. Some Tolerant Calvinists, although they believe that some universal atonement advocates are saved, still believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Jesus Christ alone; thus, these Tolerant Calvinists must be saved, no matter what they think about those who hold to universal atonement. Tolerant Calvinists don't hold to universal atonement themselves, so that cannot be held against them. Their erroneous view that some universal atonement advocates are saved does not necessarily show that they themselves are unsaved.

Is this true? Is it true that if a Tolerant Calvinist does not believe in universal atonement and professes to believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Christ alone, then we cannot say he is unsaved, even if he says that some universal atonement advocates are saved?

Let us think about this.

The first scenario:

Suppose Mr. X professes to believe the true gospel. Suppose Mr. X knows what Arminianism is, knows what Arminians believe, and knows that Mr. Z is an Arminian. Now suppose Mr. X says the following thing: "Mr. Z holds to a lot of error, but I know he is saved. He believes in the same gospel I do, he believes in the same God I do, and I know he is accepted before God and will go to heaven." What does this tell you about Mr. X?

The defenders of Tolerant Calvinists will say that this does not necessarily tell you that Mr. X is unsaved -- that it does not logically follow that Mr. X is unsaved.

However, let the defenders of Tolerant Calvinists consider the following:

The second scenario:

Suppose Mr. X professes to believe the true gospel. Suppose Mr. X knows what Islam is, knows what Muslims believe, and knows that Mr. Z is a Muslim. Now suppose Mr. X says the following thing: "Mr. Z holds to a lot of error, but I know he is saved. He believes in the same gospel I do, he believes in the same God I do, and I know he is accepted before God and will go to heaven." What does this tell you about Mr. X?

Will the defenders of Tolerant Calvinists please answer the last question? What will you say about the spiritual state of Mr. X, who professes belief in the true gospel, who knows that Islam is and what Muslims believe, and yet who says that this Muslim is saved? Will you say that Mr. X is necessarily unsaved?

If you will that Mr. X is not necessarily unsaved, then you necessarily believe that a true Christian who knows what Muslims believe can still believe that at least some Muslims are saved. You necessarily believe that a true Christian who knows what Muslims believe can still believe that the gospel of Islam and the gospel of the Bible are the same and can still believe that the god of Islam and the God of the Bible are the same. You necessarily believe that the Muslim way to God is the same as the Christian way to God. Thus, you would be consistent in defending Mr. X in the first scenario. You necessarily believe that a true Christian who knows what Arminians believe can still believe that the gospel of Arminianism and the gospel of the Bible are the same and can still believe that the god of Arminianism and the God of the Bible are the same. You necessarily believe that the Arminian way to God is the same as the Christian way to God.

If you will say that Mr. X is necessarily unsaved, then I ask you to logically explain how you came to this conclusion. And after you do that, I ask you to logically explain how the first scenario (Mr. X speaking peace to an Arminian) is different than the second scenario (Mr. X speaking peace to a Muslim), and how your conclusion about Mr. X must be different in the two different scenarios.

Go for it.


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