Calvinism,puts Born Again before faith
Could an “unbeliever” ever be “in Christ,” or are those two things technically what we call, “mutually exclusive”?
Recall from the Bible that unbelievers remain condemned/judged (John 3:18), while those in Christ are redeemed. (Romans 8:1) Consider three relevant verses:
• John 3:18: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been *JUDGED ALREADY*, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
• Romans 8:1-2: “Therefore there is *NOW NO CONDEMNATION* for those who are *IN CHRIST JESUS*. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
• 2nd Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is *IN CHRIST*, he is a *NEW CREATURE*; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
So, for there to be an “unbeliever” who is “in Christ,” would mean that a person is simultaneously judged while yet redeemed. That would be a paradox, or just bluntly, a blatant contradiction.
However, Calvinism appears to *require* that there be *unbelievers* in Christ. You’ll see it in the following quote by James White. Calvinism requires that elect-unbelievers are:
1. First made Born Again
2. Regenerated with the Holy Spirit
3. Given a new heart and a new spirit, as a new creature “in Christ,”
4. Fully atoned for
5. Given an irresistible gift of faith
…who then afterward believe in Christ and become technically “saved,”—which is odd considering it would seem that they would already be saved before they believe, given all those things stated above, but that’s another paradox for another time.
James White: “Calvinist, James White, writes: “When the time comes in God’s sovereign providence to bring to spiritual life each of those for whom Christ died, the Spirit of God will not only effectively accomplish that work of regeneration but that new creature in Christ will, unfailingly, believe in Jesus Christ (‘all that the Father gives Me will come to Me’). Hence, we are not saved ‘without’ faith, but at the same time, Christ’s atonement is not rendered useless and vain without the addition of libertarian free will.” (Debating Calvinism, p.191)
So there we have it. James White demonstrates that Calvinists do indeed teach that Calvinism’s elect must become “in Christ,” even while yet as an unbeliever, before he or she can repent, believe and become saved. But, Ephesians 1:13 states: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” That would place the transformational work of the Holy Spirit after faith, but that’s also another paradox for another time. Suffice it to say, Calvinism teaches that one who is in Christ, is not necessarily a *believer.* Meanwhile, as a non-Calvinist, I normally equivocate between Christians and those in Christ. I would never even dream of the idea of a non-believing, non-Christian being in Christ, especially when unbelievers remain already condemned while those in Christ are redeemed.