Is it true that only calvinists can be saved?
Well, if you were to ask a calvinist, and he were to be completely truthful, then he would have to answer, “Yes!” Of course, most calvinists reading this would immediately get upset that I should so misrepresent their revered religion, but if they could just see why I say this, they may have to think again. I may only misrepresent if I say something that is not true. I challenge all calvinists to show clearly where I have said something that is not true of their beliefs. If they can’t, then they should just accept what I say. I get accused of misrepresenting them, yet not one has actually named what it is that I have said that misrepresents them.
It’s simple, really. Calvinists believe that you must be regenerated (born again) by God’s Spirit before you are able to do anything else spiritually. They claim that until you are regenerated (born again), you are spiritually dead and, like a dead body, you are incapable of doing anything good spiritually. Unless you are born again, you cannot effectively hear the gospel, nor have faith in or believe in Christ (based upon their interpretation of John 3:3). And even then, according to calvinists, faith is a gift of God, only given to those who have already been born again. (Of course, faith is not a gift of God but instead it is the response of man’s free will to the character of God who promises such full salvation. They misunderstand – probably deliberately – the grammar of such as Ephesians 2:8-9.)
The first stage of a calvinist’s salvation is that you must be regenerated (born again). Therefore, to a calvinist, unless you have been regenerated (born again), you are incapable of hearing the truth of the gospel and responding. Even if you did hear the gospel, you couldn’t respond because you wouldn’t have the faith to believe in it, because the calvinist God only gives the gift of faith to those whom he has already regenerated. And the calvinist God will only regenerate those whom he has chosen; you do not have a say in the matter at all. If you were not chosen for salvation by the calvinist God, then you can never be saved, ever!
That is, the calvinist God only gives the gift of faith to calvinists, those of his elect that he has chosen for salvation. If you were not chosen by the calvinist God for salvation, then because you have no free will of your own, you can never be saved, even if you wanted to be saved. You will not be regenerated and therefore you will not be given the gift of faith, and therefore can never believe and be saved!
You see, calvinists believe that faith cannot be the response of the free will of man, because (according to them) non-regenerated man has no free will to respond to anything spiritual. Unless a man be born again, he cannot have faith in the kingdom of God (according to calvinists’ interpretation of John 3:3).
Let’s say you are a non-calvinist Christian, having heard the gospel, and by your own free will accepted the gift of salvation through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. That is, you called upon the name of the Lord to be saved. God offered the free gift of salvation and you gratefully accepted by faith in God’s promises. However, if calvinists are acting faithfully according to their doctrines, then they have to declare you to be yet unsaved unless God has previously regenerated you. They have to say (as many calvinist do openly state) that if you choose to receive Jesus as your Saviour, then you are not saved and are still heading for hell. They say that you do not choose God; instead, God chooses you! If you insist that you accepted the free gift of salvation, then they have to say that unless God chose to give it to you, you haven’t received anything of the sort. And their God only chooses a small proportion of mankind to save!
If calvinists teach according to their beliefs, they have to say that, unless you are firstly regenerated (born again as a calvinist), you cannot have faith to believe, you cannot be saved, you cannot be a Christian, you cannot have eternal life, and you cannot go to heaven. Calvinist doctrine has to declare any non-calvinist Christian as lost and going to hell, because they do not declare themselves to have been regenerated by God first. Therefore, if you claim to be a non-calvinist Christian, then they are required to evangelise you in order to see if God might regenerate you as one of his elect so that you might be saved. According to the calvinist, you cannot truly be saved unless you are a regenerate calvinist believer like themselves.
Some calvinists do actually tell non-calvinists that if they were truly Christians, they would know that they had been regenerated first (born again, made alive by God’s Spirit) before they understood what they had to do to be saved. And, if they do not accept calvinism as the truth, then they cannot be true Christians. Note what Al Mohler (president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and avid calvinist) says about this subject: Where else are they going to go? If you’re a theological minded, deeply convictional young evangelical, if you’re committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ, if you want to see gospel built and structured committed churches, your theology is just going end up basically being Reformed, basically something like this new Calvinism, or you’re going to have to invent some label for what is basically going to be the same thing, there just are not options out there, and that’s something that frustrates some people, but when I’m asked about the New Calvinism—where else are they going to go, who else is going to answer the questions, where else are they going to find the resources they going to need and where else are they going to connect.
Clearly to Mohler, calvinism is the only good option available out there! All we non-calvinist Christians are either truly lesser Christians or not Christians at all. According to calvinists, they (the calvinists) are the only true Christians. Others are either not (yet?) saved, or greatly deluded in their understanding of the truth! To the evangelical calvinist, the non-calvinist Christian is their mission field. If you claim to be Christian but are not calvinist, then their task is to preach the “true” gospel of calvinism to you in the hope that you might yet be truly saved. After all, one of the catch-cries of the calvinist is that “calvinism is the gospel”!
Christians see the lost world as their mission field; calvinists see non-calvinist “non-regenerate” “Christians” attending churches as their mission field! Christians go out into all the world to preach the gospel. Calvinists go into all the churches to preach their gospel! When I asked a calvinist why he bothered with the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20, he answered that he was commanded to do so, and could come up with no other logical reason other than he was commanded to do so! Christians believe the lost are to be found in the world; calvinists believe that the lost whom God has chosen for salvation will be found in the church.
Calvin taught that there was no salvation to be found outside the walls of the mother church; you couldn’t be saved unless God had firstly brought you to the church through his regeneration (Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion Bk IV, Chap I, Part 4). The first sign to a calvinist that you have been regenerated by God is that you will be drawn to the church for salvation. They teach that the non-elect are totally unable to seek after God and thus should not be found in church. (Although Calvin did teach that God could give you a lesser, non-saving temporary faith as an inferior operation of the Spirit – Institutes, Book III, Chapter 2, Part 11. No doubt Calvin was plagued by the knowledge that there were people that he called “lost” still attending church. He was forced to declare them lost, yet given a temporary faith by God to make them look and act like the elect but only for a season. Such people with a temporary faith were never of the elect and would never go to heaven. Read more here The living-dead calvinist zombies – as taught by Calvin)
Therefore, if the calvinist is put on the spot, and forced to declare what their religion actually teaches, they are forced to admit that only the regenerated calvinist may be declared saved; and all non-regenerate Christians cannot be saved until (and if) the calvinist God declares them his elect. If a Christian denies such calvinist teachings, then he must be assumed to be lost and heading for hell. Your testimony of salvation at the cross of Jesus is of no value to the calvinist who says you should have been regenerated first before you could claim Christ’s salvation. To them you are still lost until you accept the “truth” of regeneration as necessary for salvation.
It is true that calvinism teaches that only calvinists may truly be saved. They may deny this as much as they can, but they still have to admit that unless you are regenerated (born again as a calvinist), you cannot have faith to believe in Christ and therefore can never be saved. Regeneration comes before faith; so to the calvinist, without regeneration you cannot be saved, cannot be a Christian, cannot go to heaven, cannot have eternal life. As calvinist Todd Friel says, “People who ask Jesus into their hearts are not saved and they will perish on the Day of Judgment. How tragic that millions of people think they are right with God when they are not. How many people who will cry out, “Lord, Lord” on judgment day will be “Christians” who asked Jesus into their hearts?”
(Ten Reasons To Not Ask Jesus Into Your Heart, by Todd Friel)
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