I usually do not answer videos, because I am hard of hearing. It is just easier for me then to address written arguments. Nevertheless, some of the brothers asked that I try to give this video a listen to and then respond, because most of them happen to know the man who made the video. His name if Renat Ilyasov; he is a Calvinist pastor from Russia.
Renat begins by assuring us that he believes the atonement is particular, efficacious and limited to the elect alone. This is not in question. This has never been in question. Let me say this again, because it appears many of my tolerant Calvinist friends like Renat still have never heard this.
I have never questioned your belief of limited atonement, Renat. I have never questioned R C Sproul’s. R C Sproul believed limited atonement. You believe limited atonement. I acknowledge the fact that you both believe the doctrine of limited atonement is true. I have not and do not question this.
Point in fact, I have never accused you of not believing the doctrines of grace. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have time and again said that a person can hold to the doctrines of grace and yet still believe a false gospel. That is, they can hold to the doctrines of grace and yet still believe righteousness is conditioned upon something they do.
The fact is, the doctrines of grace are not the gospel. Let me say this again too, because judging by the video it sounds as if Renat is also confused about this.
!!! THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE ARE NOT THE GOSPEL !!!
!!! I HAVE NEVER ACCUSED YOU OF NOT BELIEVING THE ATONEMENT IS PARTICULAR, EFFICACIOUS AND LIMITED TO THE ELECT ALONE !!!
What I have instead said, Renat, is that you and the other tolerant Calvinists like you have never repented of the false gospel of conditional righteousness. You have never repented of believing righteousness is in some way conditioned on you. You have never taken sides against Arminianism as a false gospel. IN FACT, YOU STILL COUNT YOURSELF AS CONVERTED BY IT.
!!! YOU STILL THINK GOD USES ARMINIANISM TO CONVERT SOME PEOPLE !!!
You have never flushed Arminianism or the false conversion you believe it gave you and some of the folks in your congregation. You have never said, “I was lost at that time. I still believed salvation was conditioned in some way upon me. Even though I thought I had been converted, I now know I hadn’t been. I believed a false gospel at that time, and so that’s how I know I was lost.”
No. Rather than take sides against yourself, you instead continue to say, “I know I was converted because I _____________.” fill in the condition (stopped drinking, started reading my Bible, started asking questions, became interested in what the pastor was saying, accepted jesus into my heart, etc)
This is why you speak peace to Arminians. Not because you do not believe limited atonement. No, rather because you believe God uses it to convert some of His elect. You have merely added the doctrine of limited atonement to the false gospel you were already clinging to for righteousness. As my friend, Mark Mcculley has said, there are some who, after learning the bus is headed in the wrong direction, walk toward the other end of the bus.
But Renat is 100% sure that no child of God gets it 100%. Self refuting there, but as an aside, I don’t know what 100% has to do with anything. I say this, because Renat sounds to me like he is saying that EVEN THOUGH CONVERSION IS OFTEN A LONG, GRADUAL PROCESS, NEVERTHELESS, WE SHOULD STILL COUNT THE PERSON ALREADY CONVERTED BEFORE THEY ARE ACTUALLY CONVERTED, even though conversion is a long, gradual process. This is like peeling the butterfly from its cocoon before it has completed its transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.
Why would we do this, Renat? Why would we count a person who is still going through the process of conversion as already converted before they are converted? I can guess why you would do this. You do it probably because some people whom you trust began treating you as converted before you had completed the process of conversion (not that you have completed it yet, or necessarily ever will). Hypothetically speaking, had they waited until after you began taking sides against yourself, against the false gospel and false conversion you believed, then your stance against tolerant Calvinism would be a lot different today. As it is though, you are a tolerant Calvinist instead.
However, in an effort to rescue his false conversion by a false gospel from the fire, Renat does what every drowning tolerant Calvinist has done. He resorts to the strawman. Yes, folks, you know what strawman. That strawman. That tired, old, cliche of a strawman . . . the strawman of perfect knowledge strawman.
Renat accuses us of saying “the truly converted will know and understand every single verse in the Bible.” This is nonsense. We have never said this. Never, ever, ever. In fact, I do not know of a single person or group anywhere at any time who has ever said this. This is why it is a strawman. No one has ever argued it.
Nevertheless, desperate to rescue his false conversion, Renat insists it is the argument we make, and to answer it he asks us to consider 2 Peter 2:1.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
I am not sure Renat understands what a proof text is, but this verse is an example of one. As most readers of this blog know, proof text debating will get you nowhere. We could go back and forth with Arminians all day long providing proof texts to each other and never get anywhere.
Renat really should know people can take any verse out of context and make it say anything they want. You don’t need to be justified to know this. This is, after all, how most cults and heresies are started. It is also how people in the past have tried to support wicked causes like slavery and nation building. I mean, Renat, after all, the Bible does tells slaves to obey their masters, right?
So if Renat expects us to get bent out of shape about a proof text, then he needs to do some more thinking about this, because when it comes to discussing the subject of the atonement with an unbeliever, as most readers of this blog know, it’s not the EXTENT of the atonement we focus on, but rather its NATURE.
In other words, should you begin with WHO Christ died for, then you will spend all day getting nowhere and accomplishing nothing. But start at WHAT Christ’s death accomplished, and the truth of its extent will naturally follow.
So when it comes to a text like 2 Peter 2:1, I do not expect every converted person to automatically understand it. What I expect instead is that even though he may not understand it, he will nevertheless not automatically come to the conclusion that it proves Christ did not accomplish His people’s redemption.
But what about the in-process person, the person who is still in the process of conversion rather than completed conversion? Here Renat argues that we should go ahead and count the in-process person as already converted so that we won’t push them away or lose them. Apparently, Renat thinks the only possible response to proof texts like 2 Peter is doubt in limited atonement. This is absurd though.
First, treating an in-process person as fully converted can only confuse the person and leave them thinking their conversion by Arminianism was at least partially valid. We would be guilty of teaching a false gospel were this the case.
Second, God is perfectly sovereign enough to keep His elect safe before, after and DURING THE CONVERSION PROCESS. There are plenty of other responses to this verse. People can become even more curious to know how it fits into limited atonement, and they will turn to commentaries and studies that in turn lead them to even more study.
Third, God is also perfectly sovereign enough to use this text to harden the minds of the reprobate, and this is something I do not think Renat has even considered. There are some folks who will appear to be in the process of conversion, but who are in fact reprobate and will die unconverted.
2 Timothy 3
6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
It will be plain to all the saints, to all the converted elect. Not so much to the tolerant Calvinists.
So in conclusion then, Renat argues that since conversion often occurs after a long and gradual process, we should go ahead and count folks who we think are in the process of conversion as fully converted so that we don’t lose to them to their own misunderstanding of difficult proof texts. This is absurd though.
It never occurs to Renat that the long and gradual process of conversion SHOULD BE wrought with pain and danger. People who are in the process of conversion SHOULD and dare I say MUST wrestle with difficult passages that could be misunderstood. THIS IS HOW THEY DEVELOP IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE GOSPEL. Most of the people who read this blog struggled mightily with John 3:16 during their conversion process.
But yes, some of the folks who wrestle with these passages will misunderstand them and never be converted, AS THEY WERE PREDESTINED TO DO. They will indeed stumble at the stone the builders rejected. This is why Jesus spoke to the people in parables. It is not up to us to keep the elect kept.
The quickest way to halt the conversion process though, is to start treating people who are in the process of conversion as though they are already converted. Renat, you leave such people believing they were partially converted in some way by something they did. If they are elect, then God is still going to convert them at some point in the future, but He is going to do it after He gets them out from under you.