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Why, Then, do some still Believe in Selective Salvation?


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Chapter: 14.19
(Section 14: Selective Salvation)
Copyright © Michael Bronson 1998 - 2005

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."

Bill Clinton testifying before the Grand Jury

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.

Are Selective Salvationists simply ignoring the facts
or do some really not see the contradictions?

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.


If people still believed the world to be flat, this is how our high-tech society might draw it

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 1: What is Selective Salvation?
PART 2: What Does the Bible say about Selective Salvation?

What does the Bible Say?
Why, then, do some still Believe in Selective Salvation?
Interpreting the Bible
Does All mean All?
How Could God make it any Clearer?
Does it all Add Up?
Are People Perishing Despite God's Desire for their Salvation?
Why did Jesus Cry out for Their Forgiveness?
What is "Election" and "Predestination?"
Does a Sovereign God do Whatever He Wants?
The Sovereignty of God
Failures of Great Leaders in the Bible
God's Foreknowledge

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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