What If I Am Wrong?

Leighton Flowers | Professor of Theology
Dallas, TX

**This article was previously posted by Leighton Flowers on his website www.soteriology101.com and is used by permission.

Leighton is: teaching pastor in his local church, an adjunct Professor of Theology, and the Youth Evangelism Director for Texas Baptists.

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I saw this argument posed by a Christian in a debate with an Atheist recently and it reminded me of an important point. We should always be willing to objectively and honestly ask the question, “What if I’m wrong?”  What are the practical, real world consequences if what I believe, teach and practice is in error?

When it comes to the soteriological differences between the Calvinist and the Traditionalist, like myself, this question is especially pertinent. If non-Calvinists are wrong, what temporal or eternal harm have we really caused?

As I have said before, we are either rightly standing in defense of God’s glory or God has sovereignly determined for us to be wrong for the praise of His glory. If I am mistaken, no fewer people are going to heaven, no less glory will be given to God than what He decided and nothing I do will ultimately harm or hinder the desire of God for this temporal world or the eternal one to come. I literally have nothing practical to gain by converting to Calvinism. And I know if the claims of Calvinists are true and God wants me to become one, then I certainly will. In fact, I sincerely pray He converts me to adopt sound theology. I have no desire to teach false interpretations of scripture as I believe I did for many years, so I can honestly say I am open to correction.

I wonder how many Calvinists have objectively evaluated this question. I am not trying to aggravate my Calvinistic friends anymore so than Lecrae is trying to agitate Athesists by asking them to objectively consider the consequences if they are in error.

Let’s list some of the negative temporal and eternal effects that Calvinism has had if indeed it is wrong:

  • Countless church splits.
  • Much time, resources and energy wasted over the issue.
  • Hyper anti-evangelism by some who take the view to their logical ends.
  • Some repulsed by a seemingly monsterous view of God.
  • Some falling into fatalistic handling of temptations and addictions (if God wants me to quit this addiction or resist this temptation He will give me the effectual grace to do so)
  • God’s character of love, grace and genuinely providing salvation for every person being clouded and subverted.
  • “Cage stage” Calvinists turning unbelievers off to God.

 

Austin Fischer, author of Young, Restless and No Longer Reformed,” recently wrote, “It seems the primary concern for Calvinists is making sure human’s can’t boast in salvation, whereas the primary concern for free-will theism is a recognizably good God.”  What are Calvinists really accomplishing by converting believers to adopt Calvinism? Practically speaking, if Calvinism is correct, the Calvinist’s arguments are not going to determine who will or will not adopt Calvinism anyway and if Calvinism is false, then a well intending Calvinists shouldn’t want to risk converting others to a false interpretation anyway.  Thus, there is no practical reason for Calvinists to promote Calvinism. It’s not worth the risk.

Objections anticipated:

  1. There are rude non-Calvinists who turn the lost off to God too: Agreed, but this article is considering IF one view is right and the other one is wrong, and if Calvinism is right it is not as if rude Arminians aren’t here by God’s sovereign design. Rude Arminians are not going to repulse the effectually called elect of Calvinism and prevent them from their inevitable conversion.
  2. Calvinists don’t teach hyperism or fatalism: Agreed, which is why I said that some could take it further than the claims of the system which would create worse error (which has happened throughout history).
  3. We should believe the truth of scripture regardless of your perceived negative implications: Agreed, but again, if Calvinism is correct then God sovereignly decreed for me to perceive these negative implications and to write this post. So, if we’re contrasting objectively then I am still doing what is best for God’s self glorifying purposes.
  4. You are an idiot: By God’s unchangeable decree and for His greatest glory? I am okay with that!  ;-)