The problem with this Neo-Calvinism-when you act like coming to belief in the doctrines of grace (not necessarily the gospel) is a matter of mere maturity, and not a separate gospel altogether from Arminianism, you can accuse those who insist that the truth is singular of conditioning salvation on knowledge. Let me explain what I mean.
This usually arises when someone who was a former Arminian becomes exposed to the doctrines of grace and adopts which ever of those he likes. He treats his new found Calvinism as an intellectual treat, a theological high ground for the truly spiritual. He still views Arminians as saved, but sees himself as more mature, better informed, and all together more spiritual because NOW they realize that is REALLY IS God who saves, and not men. This is a rejection of God’s standard of truth in exchange for personal preference and judgment.
When declaring the gospel, this sort of individual will come along to do a few things: 1) They will talk about how they were formerly Arminian and have now seen the light. 2) The will caution that it is unfair, or unloving, or judgmental to write off all Arminians as unsaved. The reason? unclear. Usually something to do with their sincerity. 3) They will accuse one of conditioning salvation on knowledge.
This is wrong, for several reasons. We are saying that Arminianism is a false starting ground. It’s a lie from the ground up. You don’t get to the truth starting with Arminianism. One never gets to the truth starting with a lie. In fact, that is just plain common sense. If you believe a lie, you don’t believe the truth. If you never stopped believing the lie, you never started believing the truth. If you don’t reject the lie upon discovery of the truth, then you still believe the lie-adding the truth to the lie doesn’t make the lie true, nor does it function to retroactively make the lie a truth-it does, however, ruin the truth.
When you treat Arminianism as merely immaturity, you call a lie the truth. Or at least a “sort of” truth. Or you imply that doctrine doesn’t matter and that sincerity is the true test. But sincerity does not make false propositions true. Here’s an example: Santa Claus is not real. This proposition has never been true. When a child believes that Santa is real, he believes a lie…it might be a harmless lie, but it is a lie nonetheless…it is a deception. At no point during that child’s belief in Santa, no matter how sincere, is Santa ever real. Sincerity of belief doesn’t matter, it does not make Santa real, or even slightly real. It is figment of imagination, and nothing more. A child might be so convinced, and so committed to the lie of the existence of Santa as to be willing to kill someone who challenged that proposition, but that does not make Santa real. In the exact same sense, Arminianism is a lie. It is not true at all. Believing it does not make true. Having formerly believed it only to later realized that it was God all along also does not make Arminianism true or even arguable viable. Just as it is wrong to say that Santa was real because the child believed in him, it’s also wrong to say that false Christ of Arminianism is true because one is sincere about their belief in this false idol. Sincerity is not the test.
Arminianism is NOT immaturity! Arminianism is unbelief! Saying that one later came to realize that it was God all along is to say that God allows man take credit for His work! May it never be! Saying that Arminians are immature brethren is saying that you agree with their false gospel, because you are saying that whatever they believe meets some minimum threshold of belief–this is conditioning salvation on knowledge. It is saying that as long as someone believes the minimum threshold (usually that Christ died for sin) then that person is saved. The intellectual Neo-Calvinist accuses the believer constantly of conditioning salvation on knowledge because they insist that only belief in the true gospel can provide biblical grounds for assurance of salvation. However, it is the Neo-Calvinist (who is usually a former Arminian with some knowledge of the Reformation, the confessions, and TULIP) that attempts to condition salvation on knowledge by saying that one does not need to know all of this other stuff, just this particular stuff. The irony is that they cannot see this because they themselves have ALREADY bought into the lie of conditional salvation-ie that their freewill decision while being an Arminian really and truly did save them. Thus, they make an accusation of which they themselves are already guilty.
God teaches the gospel to his people-read John 6:44-45: “ No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— .” All of God’s people believe one gospel-there are not different degrees of truth. There’s just the truth. Arminianism is not that…and believing Arminianism means one is an unbeliever because one does not agree with God about what He says-that’s what it means to be an unbeliever-you don’t believe God. It doesn’t matter how much one thinks they love God, if they believe falsehood concerning Christ, they worship an idol.
The elect of God, compared to the non-elect, are few in number. Jesus says in Matthew 7: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” He says that the gate to life is narrow and few find it. He does say that many are on the road to destruction. And many religious people will perish. In fact, all people, religious or not, how have not believed the gospel (the non elect) will perish. The gospel we believe matters for purposes of our assurance of salvation. If one believes a gospel that does not agree with the testimony of God concerning His Son and the work He accomplished, then one believes a false gospel. The only gospel that can provide biblical assurance the gospel of the accomplished work of Christ for His elect. It is only when one believes that gospel that one can truly rest and know that they have been reconciled to God by His own hand.