What Is the “Decisive Factor” in Salvation?

What Is the “Decisive Factor” in Salvation? May 15, 2024

What Is the “Decisive Factor” in Salvation?

Some Calvinists have told me (and other Arminians) that in Arminian theology the sinner’s decision to accept God’s grace unto salvation is “the decisive factor” in his or her salvation. And, of course, that is meant as a criticism of Arminianism. But is it a valid criticism? No.

Some time ago I watched the movie, based on real events, “Thirteen Lives.” The movie is a documentary with fictional features. It portrays the underwater rescue of thirteen Thai boys from a deep cave where they were trapped by rising water.

The process of rescuing them was long and difficult and included the sacrifice of one rescuer’s life. It was an extremely risky rescue that was not expected to end as well as it did. All thirteen boys were rescued.

The boys had to be taken out of the cave under water one at a time. The very courageous rescuers carried them out on their backs. Both, rescuer and boy, wore underwater oxygen as the trip under water was long and arduous.

One challenge was how to get each boy out without him struggling? It was expected that children being taken out under water that way would inevitably panic and struggle and fail to survive the long journey through the cave to the opening.

So the rescuers talked to the boys and explained that they needed to be sedated to the point of unconsciousness. The boys agreed, somewhat reluctantly, and were all made unconscious with ketamine injections.

Now, the crucial question for my Calvinist interlocutors is this: Are you going to tell me that each boy’s decision to be rescued in that manner was “the decisive factor” in his being rescued? I think if you told the rescuers that they would either laugh or punch you in the face.

Of course the “decisive factor’ in the boys’ rescue was the extremely difficult work the rescuers did to get to the boys and convince them to undergo sedation and then take them out on their backs—at great risk to all lives.

This “decisive factor” argument is a blatantly false one, logically invalid as an argument. Calvinists need to stop saying that. And people who hear the argument need to correct the Calvinists and explain the error.

The decisive factor in anyone’s salvation is God’s grace alone. All Arminians agree about that.

*Note: If you choose to comment, make sure your comment is relatively brief (no more than 100 words), on topic, addressed to me, civil and respectful (not hostile or argumentative), and devoid of pictures or links.*

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