One of the Benefits of Non-Calvinism
I was driving in the car with a friend the other day and we were discussing a certain teacher in Christendom today. We were commiserating over the wideness of this teacher’s influence because, in our understanding of things, he is really ‘off the mark’ with his teaching! We believe he binds heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lays them on men’s shoulders. We observe that he muddies the gospel and Christian living by teaching works of righteousness out of context. We feel that he sells guilt to the church at a high premium. His pockets are full with the wages of others' shame. We are really afraid that he shuts up the kingdom of heaven against men. It is almost like he won’t enter the rest of the LORD ... and he doesn’t want to allow those who are entering to go in.
Don’t try to guess who I am talking about. You won’t be able to … and it doesn’t matter who it is anyway.
Perhaps you can think of a teacher in Christendom that irritates you in the way that this one does us. Our frustration is large … because we have close friends, right here, who are influenced by his teaching. We stand and watch in near horror as his view of salvation (which we feel is a misstatement of the true gospel of grace) is repeated to unsaved members of our family. This is right where we live! This is not “over there” – it is right here. This is a man - who we have never met - teaching things to our family members which could undermine the wonderful good news of Jesus Christ and possibly turn some away from receiving Him. It is really awful to us!
Now you may be reading this and come up with your own fury over teaching or teachers of a different stripe than what I am thinking of. That is your business, but it puts us both in the same boat. We are upset about a spiritual teacher.
For my friend and I, we get really worked up and grieved over it. It galls us to think of all the Christians who are buying this … hook, line and yes, sinker. Then they turn around and propagate the error! We feel we have righteous indignation over this teacher and his ivory tower theology as we, who are down in the foot army, have to deal with all the land mines that he has planted.
We are irritated with him.
However, (and here is where the benefit if non-Calvinism comes in), we know that this is one for whom Christ died. He may not know if he is one of the elect or not, but to us, this does not matter. Paul, who wrote to the Romans and the Corinthians about people in the church who had wrong ideas about their true freedom in Christ, said these are brethren for “whom Christ died.” Did they have a stripe down their back that indicated to Paul that they were elect? NO. Did they have their doctrine right? NO. They were thinking that Christians had to keep dietary laws. Their consciences were weak; they were a bit legalistic, I think it is safe to say. Could Paul be sure that they were ‘truly regenerate’? NO. (I think he took them at their word that because they were with the church, although weak in conscience, they were ‘brethren.’) Either way, it doesn’t matter, because as a Non-Calvinist, we can think of anyone – ANYONE – as ‘one for whom Christ died.’ (2 Corinthians 5:19) This is truly beneficial in our perspective as we grapple with frustration and anger over these people. If Christ loved them and gave Himself for them, we should have mercy in our hearts toward them. Yes, we grieve over false teaching, but we should not hate those for whom Christ died, and we don’t have to wonder who they are for whom Christ died.