Why, Then, do some still Believe in Selective Salvation?
In the previous chapter we looked at over 300 verses that say salvation is open to everyone. These verses use words like all, everyone, whoever, world, etc. If the Bible clearly states the gift of salvation is open to all, why do some Christians believe otherwise? Why do some denominations make selective salvation a major component of their belief system?
When I was first introduced to this doctrine, I couldn’t understand how a person couldn’t see this contradiction. I couldn’t understand how a person could say salvation is offered to "everyone" and still be able to say that salvation is not offered to everyone.
I would show them the verses that clearly state God is offering salvation to everyone and they would tell me there is no contradiction. They would say these verses are completely consistent with selective salvation. This totally baffled me. I wondered if they were trying to be deceptive or if they just could not see the contradiction?
Their explanation was quite simple. They believe all of these verses that say "all," "whoever," etc., are only referring to the elect. For example, a verse that says, "Christ died for all" actually is to be viewed as saying "Christ died for all of the elect." Another example is 1 John 2:1 that says, "If anyone sins, he has an advocate with the Father." They say this verse should be viewed as, "If anyone of the elect sins, he has an advocate with the Father."
I have discovered it didn’t matter how many verses I had that said salvation is offered to everyone, they still come back with the same reply. I soon realized an additional 5,000 verses would not make any difference. They would view all of these verses as referring to the elect. In fact, and additional 5,000 verses would only bolster their position. They would say, "See, we have 5,000 verses supporting our position."
To be honest, I was very shocked when I first heard this explanation. It reminded me of President Clinton’s infamous impeachment testimony, "It all depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is." I believe there are many Selective Salvationists who are not being totally honest about this issue.
I want to emphasize that this type of deception is not limited to Selective Salvationists. All Christians have the potential to distort the facts to make their position look more favorable. All Christians have the ability to selectively ignore verses that don’t align with their theological stance. We all, including myself, must guard against this problem.
Although I believe there are many Selective Salvationists who deliberately ignore verses that contradict their beliefs, I have come to the conclusion there are some who actually don’t see a contradiction. The question, of course, is why don’t they see the contradiction? Basically, it boils down to a flawed approach to Biblical interpretation. They have started out with the premise, "Since I know selective salvation is true, these verses must be interpreted this way."
This approach to interpretation is incredibly flawed. All data must be interpreted on its own merit. Data should always be interpreted independently of currently held beliefs. New discoveries should be investigated without the pressures of "political correctness."
It was this flawed approach to interpreting data that led to centuries of errors, bondage, and murder. For several thousand years mankind believed the world was flat and at the center of the universe. Even after there was substantial evidence to prove otherwise, these myths hung on. These myths could have been buried centuries earlier except for the fact people used the above flawed approach to interpretation.
They would say, "Since we know the earth is flat, the new discoveries should be interpreted as … ." It didn’t matter that there is substantial data to disprove these myths. These leaders knew their views were correct, so any facts contradicting these views were altered until they conformed to their own views.
We should always let the data speak for itself and not put our own slant on it. If the evidence points us in a different direction, we must follow it. Look at the following chapter (Interpreting the Bible) for more information on this subject.
All verses must be looked at individually (in the context of the surrounding verses) and its interpretation must be based on its own merit. It is wrong to look at a verse and say, "Since I know a certain doctrine is true, this conflicting verse must be interpreted this way." Unfortunately, Selective Salvationists have made this violation. They have taken the stance that since Selective Salvation is true, this is the only logical explanation for these verses.
Even the founding fathers of selective salvation made this mistake. The president of Synod of Dort said, "The scriptures must be interpreted according to the catechisms and confessions." (Harrison, Beginnings of Arminianism, p. 87.) Fancois Windel acknowledges of Calvin, "Truth compels us to admits frankly that, despite all his fidelity to the Bible, he seems to have been searching the Scriptures more frequently for text to support a doctrine accepted in advance, than to derive doctrine from the Scriptures." (Wendel, Calvin: Origins and Development of His Religious Thoughts, p. 359)
In the following chapter (Does "All" mean All?) we will take a closer look at the verses that say salvation is offered to all.
Other Chapters in this Section
PART 3: Problems with Selective Salvation
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