Question [composite of several]: Was this a misstatement, or do you really believe what you said in your September Q&A: “Those who only know the false gospel of Calvinism are not saved”? |

TBC Staff

Question [composite of several]: Was this a misstatement, or do you really believe what you said in your September Q&A: “Those who only know the false gospel of Calvinism are not saved”?

Answer: The original question was, “Is it possible for someone who believes only in the soteriology of Calvin to be saved?” As I said in my response, there are many Calvinists who were saved before they became Calvinists or who have believed the true gospel in spite of their Calvinism—but “those who know only the false gospel of Calvinism are not saved.” If all one believes is that infant baptism saves, as Calvin taught (and which is  the case with many Calvinists), one is certainly not saved. If a person believes that he was saved through infant baptism, how is it possible for him, without relinquishing that false belief, to truly be saved by believing the gospel? He has no need of the true gospel, having already been forgiven his sins and made a child of God through infant baptism. He may affirm at his confirmation that Christ died for his sins, but he still believes that the benefit of that sacrifice came to him through infant baptism long before his “confirmation” of this lie.

How could that false faith save? If it does, then the many former Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians who realized they weren’t saved through their infant baptism, and who put their faith in Christ, were born again, and then baptized as believers, have been deluded. But they would vehemently deny that they were saved all the time in spite of their faith in infant baptism! And they would reject Calvin himself as an “ex-Catholic”—because he continued to rely upon his infant baptism for salvation, he declared that being baptized as a baby was the sure way of knowing one was among the elect, he opposed those who got saved and were then baptized, he banned Anabaptists from Geneva in 1537, and he even had some burned at the stake for this belief.

Am I denying that Calvin was saved? No, only God knew his heart. But if all he believed was (as he taught) that Christ died only for the elect, and that his infant baptism into the Roman Catholic Church proved that he was one of the elect, then he never got saved no matter how eloquently he wrote about Christ’s sufferings on the Cross for our sins.

If all one believes is that one has no choice—that it is God who causessome to believe and not others, and that one must be unwittingly regenerated by Him and only then given faith to believe the gospel—how can such a person make a genuine choice to believe in Christ? How could that person, consistent with this Calvinist belief, ever have the assurance offered in 1 John:5:13? No matter how simple and strong his faith in Christ might seem to be, how could he be certain that such “faith in Christ” was truly given to him by God after He had regenerated him?

If all one believes is that Christ died only for the elect but not for all—how can that person be certain that Christ died for himand that his faith in Christ is not presumption? How can he believe the true gospel that “if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink...let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Jn:7:37; Rv 22:17), if he really believes that he is totally depraved and unable either to hear the invitation or respond to it? Calvin even said that God gives a false sense of assurance to the non-elect the better to damn them. If one’s most basic belief denies the very assurance Scripture offers, how can it be said that one believes the gospel promise of “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts:16:31)?

That a person may believe the true gospel and thus be truly saved in spite of believing the false gospel of Calvinism may be possible. But I don’t see how one could sort out the fact that contradictory beliefs were being held. What does one really believe?