Chalcedon has kindly invited me to write a short series on the Calvinist understanding of salvation. I am not an expert on the matter and am not a Calvinist myself – though I have spent some time reading material written by Calvinists. As a good starting-point, I would recommend visiting http://triablogue.blogspot.co.uk/ and https://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/ , where you will find good resources on a variety of apologetics topics. But a word of warning: Catholics will find sturdy opposition to many of their core beliefs.
I will also say up front that in the early years after my “conversion” I used to frequent Jack Kelley’s site, https://gracethrufaith.com/ . He believed in “once saved, always saved”, (OSAS), and gave a defence of his belief.
I have written a few posts of my own on this topic that will provide some background to my own intellectual journey.
Please do not assume that my opinions are still consistent with professions I made in those earlier posts. I generally shy away from salvation talk. A foray I made in the past on AATW was in defence of Jess, who had been very honest at the time and was facing some nasty comments.
Salvation is a complex concept, which may be approached from a number of angles. The Calvinist “position”, like others is a result of synthesis, the bringing together of various concepts, arguments, and verses according to certain governing presuppositions. It is beyond the scope of these posts to cover everything that might be relevant to this discussion: that would require several books.
Before proceeding with in-depth discussion, I wish to present a few arguments to help us understand (my perception of) Calvinist reasoning. I apologize if this seems cold and inappropriate for theology, but I believe this would best serve the purpose I have been asked to pursue. Hopefully these posts will also help you to navigate the rhetoric and the emotive source and power of Calvinism as well as its argumentation.
P1: God is omnipotent.
P2: Being omnipotent means that if God chooses to do X, X will happen.
P3: God has chosen S for salvation.
C: Therefore S will be saved, come what may.
P1: God is sovereign.
P2: This means that God has the right to do as He pleases with his own things.
P3: We belong to God.
C1: Therefore, God has the right to do as He pleases with us.
P4: If Calvinism is true, then God has chosen some for salvation and others for damnation.
C2: Therefore, God has the right to send some people to Heaven and others to Hell.
P1: God is supremely good.
C1: Therefore, every decision that God makes is good and there is no alternative decision that would be better than God’s.
P2: If Calvinism is true, then God has chosen some for salvation and others for damnation.
C2: Therefore, God is morally justified (if this expression isn’t a tautology or contradiction) in sending some to Heaven and others to Hell.
P1: God is superior in every way to human beings.
P2: This means that humans do not have “rights” in relation to God unless God first extends those rights to humans.
P3: The Scriptures teach that we do not have the right to question God (Rom. 9:20) – at least in respect to certain things.
C: Therefore, we do not have the right to ask God (or do not have the right to an answer as to) why He (appears to) save some and not others.
These arguments will continue in this series, but I hope that they will be of use in helping people to understand the piety and perspective that drives certain examples of Calvinist apologetics.