NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY - A long time Arminian and anti-Calvinist James Wilson was found fumbling over his words recently after having to admit "all doesn't mean all" in Romans 11:32.
This is the accusation James has historically made against his Reformed brethren. "They [Calvinists] change the meaning of 'all' in the Bible and replace it with 'the elect'. When in Hebrews it says he tasted death for all men, Calvinists say, that is just referring to the elect. I believe all means all", James said.
Just recently a Calvinist "post cage stage" was able to calmly talk about these issues with James, where he asked him what Romans 11:32 meant. "The scripture says, 'For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.' Does that mean all will be saved in the end? Since all are recipients of God's mercy, doesn't that mean all will be saved? 'All means all', right?"
James started to fumble over his words and eventually said, "Well, not really. You need to read this passage in its appropriate context. We know from other portions of scripture that not everyone will be saved. So this could not mean all as in every single human being that ever lived. Contextually this is talking about God having mercy upon Jew and Gentile - that makes up the 'all' referred to in Romans 11:32".
The Calvinist smiled and said, "I completely agree. The context must determine the meaning. So would you say 'all doesn't mean all' in the sense of every single human being universally?"
James had to admit, "Yes. All doesn't mean all in that sense."
The Calvinist said, "Read Hebrews 2 in context and you see the all Jesus tasted death for are his elect, his brethren."
The Calvinist departed and James was shocked. He couldn't believe what had just happened. "Apparently, all doesn't always mean all in the way I have always understood that word. This changes things."