17 Sections
This is not an Attack


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Chapter: 14.15
(Section 14: Selective Salvation)
Copyright © Michael Bronson 1998 - 2005

The audience erupts into chaos as the speaker tries to answer the question. Several dozen people jump to their feet, yelling and pointing their fingers. The speaker tries in vain to bring the meeting to order. People stand face to face yelling at the top of their voices.

A couple people jump onto the platform and begin yelling their concerns to the audience. Another person pushes himself behind the podium and tries to grab the microphone. On the floor, a woman starts hitting the person next to her with her purse.

Although this unfortunate show of disharmony is typical of many political debates,  I’m saddened to say that it was a "Town Meeting" at a church. This church split, like many church splits, was a result of a fight over doctrinal issues. The doctrine being debated was the Second Coming of Christ. Some were saying Jesus will come back at the beginning of the Tribulation period (pre-tribulation) and others were saying He will come back in the middle of the Tribulation (mid-tribulation). The congregation had been arguing over this issue for several months and the Town Meeting was a public exhibition of what had been taking place in private.

Fights over doctrine have ruined numerous friendships and destroyed many churches. Although I feel it is important to be doctrinally sound, I also feel we need to be careful in how we discuss doctrinal issues with others. Therefore, I usually don’t go out of my way to cover highly controversial subjects just for the sake of discussing it.

The doctrine of selective salvation is a very controversial and divisive subject. It is not uncommon for Christians to become highly emotional trying to defend or refute it. I have no intention in engaging in this emotional debate. I did not write this section to try to convince others "I am right" or to "win others over to my side." I’ve written this chapter because of my concern for the lost. The fate of billions of souls is directly affected by this doctrine. If it is true that salvation is being offered to all people, not just a select few, this section needs to be written.

If you are a Calvinist, please do not feel I am criticizing or attacking you. There are many great Christians who are Calvinists. Please understand my intent for writing this chapter.

I have read a large number of books on this subject, and one thing that stands out is the love and devotion many Christians have toward this doctrine. In fact, many Christians place this doctrine right next to the doctrine of salvation. Listed below are some of the comments about this doctrine.

  • "Calvinism is religion at the height of its conception. Calvinism is evangelicalism in its purest and only stable expression." (Warfield, Calvin, p. 497)

  • "The central thought of Calvinism is, therefore, the great thought of God" (Henry Meeter, The Basic Ideas of Calvinism, p. 17)

  • "Calvinistic theology is the greatest subject that has ever exercised the mind of man." (Boettner, Predestination, p. 335)

  • "Calvinism thus emerges to our sight as nothing more or less than the hope of the world." (Warfield, Calvin, p. 507)

  • "It has been correctly said that Calvinism is pure biblical Christianity in its clearest and purest expression." (Leonard Coppes, Are Five Points Enough? The Ten Points of Calvinism, p. xi)

As you can see, this doctrine is held in very high esteem in certain circles. This is the reason that any negative analysis is viewed as an attack against the doctrine they cherish. Sometimes they come to the defense of this doctrine with the same devotion as a mother bear protecting her cub. Many Selective Salvationists feel that this doctrine is the gospel itself. Listed below are some comments they have made concerning this:

  • "Calvinism is the Gospel and to teach Calvinism is in fact to preach the Gospel." (Custance, Sovereignty of Grace, p. 302)

  • "Calvinism is the Gospel. Its outstanding doctrines are simply the truths that make up the Gospel." (Engelsma, Defense of Calvinism, p. 4)

  • "Calvinism is the Gospel, and nothing else." (Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sovereign Grace Sermons, 1990, p. 2)

  • "There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism." (Spurgeon, Sovereign Grace Sermons, p.129)

They feel that the doctrine of selective salvation is the clearest and most prominent theme of the Bible. Listed below are some comments they have made concerning this:

  • "The Bible not only teaches the doctrine, but makes it prominent –so prominent that you can only get rid of Election by getting rid of the Bible." (Bishop, The Doctrines of Grace, p. 167)

  • "The doctrine of election is a cardinal teaching of the Scriptures." (Chafer, Theology, vol. 1, p. 246)

  • "The story of the Bible is the story of unconditional election." (Seaton, The Five Points of Calvinism p. 12)

  • "Beloved, if the Bible teaches anything at all, it teaches that God predestined us unto salvation before the foundation of the World. The Bible teaches election from Genesis to Revelation. Throughout the ages, God has always worked on the basis of election." (Halff, The Baptist Examiner, Dec. 23, 1989, p. 6)

Selective Salvationists continue on by insisting that the most prominent people within Christianity believe in this doctrine. Listed below are some comments they have made concerning this:

  • "It was God Himself that originated the five statements of grace." (Everman, The Baptist Examiner, Dec. 1, 1995, p. 4)

  • "Christ taught the doctrines which have come to be know as the five points of Calvinism." (Ducan, The five Points of Calvinism, p. 10)

  • "… this teaching was held by the apostles." (Davis, The Berea Baptist Banner, Feb. 5, 1995, p. 30)

  • The apostle Paul was Calvinistic. (McFetridge, Calvinism in History, p, 14)

  • "Christ and His apostles" were Calvinistic. (Cockrell, Introduction to Tom Ross, p. v)

  • "Christians of the New Testament times were strong believers in the greatness and sovereignty of God and consequently in the doctrines of election and predestination." (Mason, What is to be, Will be, p. 151)

  • "Among the past and present advocates of this doctrine are to be found some of the world’s greatest and wisest men." (Boettner, Predestination, p. 1)

  • "There can be little question that Calvinism … has been professed in the modern world by the most intelligent, moral, industrious, and freest of mankind." (Willis, quoted in Kuyper’s, For Whom did Christ Die?, p. 15)

  • "There is no other system of religion in the world which has such a glorious array of martyrs to the faith." (McFetridge, Calvinism in History, p. 81)

  • "The great theologians and scholars" were and are Calvinist (Singer, John Calvin: His Roots and Fruits, p. 28)

Building upon this, many Selective Salvationists feel this doctrine is the only scriptural system. Listed below are some comments concerning this:

  • "It is questionable whether a dogmatic theology which is not Calvinistic is truly Christian." (Arthus Custance, The Sovereignty of Grace, 1979, p. 302)

  • "We believe the Calvinistic  system to be the only one set forth in the Scriptures and vindicated by reason." (Boettner, Predestination, p. 352)

  • "Calvinism is the only system which is true to the Word of God." (Talbot and Crampton, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism, p. 78)

  • "… Calvinism is the purest and most consistent embodiment of the religion of Faith." (Boetner, Reformed Faith, p. 1)

  • "The bottom line is if you deny election, you deny salvation by grace. To reject election is to reject salvation by grace and promote salvation by works." (Morton, The Bereea Baptist Banner, Jan. 5, 1995, p. 19)

  • "Those who declare that salvation is entirely by the grace of God, and yet deny the doctrine of election, hold an inconsistent position." (Boettner, Predestination, p. 95)

  • "We reject the doctrine of election because we really believe that we can ultimately save ourselves by our own doings." (Rose, The Five Disputed Points of Calvinism, p. 20)

  • "If predestination and election are not so, what else? The answer is then we don’t know how everything is going to turn out in the end! Maybe Satan will defeat God and finally win out!" (Mason, What is to be; will be, pp. 39-40)

Based on all this, many Selective Salvationists feel that any deviation from this doctrine is bad and sinful. Listed below are some comments concerning this:

  • "… any compromise of Calvinism is a step towards humanism." (Talbot and Crampton, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism, p. 3)

  • "There is no consistent stopping place between Calvinism and atheism" (L. Boetner, The Reformed Faith, 1983, p. 2)

  • "… the future of Christianity is bound up with that system of theology historically called Calvinism." (Boettner, The Reformed Faith)

Considering how precious this doctrine is to some people, you can see why some are offended or even outraged when it is criticized. You can see why an opponent of this doctrine is considered heretical and apostate. As a side note: Apart from believing this doctrine is the only scriptural system, they also believe it has had a profound social impact on this world. Listed below are some comments concerning this:

  • "The Calvinistic countries became the countries where the capitalistic system developed." (Dakin, Calvinism, p. 203)

  • "The Protestant ‘work ethic’ was developed from Calvin’s teaching." (Crampton, What Calvin Says, p. 12)

  • "Calvinism is the most formidable enemy which socialism and communism face today." (Singer, John Calvin: His Roots and Fruits, p. 48)

  • "Calvinism has captured and guaranteed to us our constitutional civil rights." (Kuyper, For Whom Did Christ Die?, p. 40)

  • "In England and America the great struggles for civil and religious liberty were nursed in Calvinism, inspired by Calvinism, and carried out largely by men who were Calvinists." (Boettner, Predestination, p. 390)

  • Calvinism is responsible for the Revolutionary War and the Constitution. (Singer, John Calvin: His Roots and Fruits, pp. 42-43)

  • "Our three American universities of greatest historical importance, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, were originally founded by Calvinists, as strong Calvinist schools." (Boettner, Predestination, p. 397)

  • "Calvinism is the most formidable enemy which socialism and communism face today." (Singer, John Calvin: His Roots and Fruits, p. 48)

It is important to understand that a person who speaks out against a popular view is not always an apostate or a troublemaker. Sometimes it is necessary to speak out to bring the truth to light. The life of the British surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912) is a good example of this. This will be covered in the following chapter (Being Misunderstood).



Other Chapters in this Section

PART 1: What is Selective Salvation?

What is Selective Salvation?
Summary of Why Selective Salvation can't be True
The Chosen Few
Summary of Calvinism and Armininism
Are You a Calvinist, Armenian, or in-between?
Highlights from from the Canons of Dort
Calvinism Versus Hyper-Calvinism
The "Privilege" of Being one of the Elect
How Long has Selective Salvation been Popular?
Why did Selective Salvation gain Popularity?
Are All Men Created Equal?
Interesting Facts about Slavery and Equality
Open Salvation
This is not an Attack
Being Misunderstood
Why is this Issue Important?

PART 2: What Does the Bible say about Selective Salvation?
PART 3: Problems with Selective Salvation
PART 4: “Choice” –The Achilles’ Heel of Selective Salvation
PART 5: Difficult Questions Answered

Appendix: Foundational Documents used by Selective Salvationists

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