How can a Calvinist or an Arminian Christian maintain an honest relationship with a friend who is a non-believer when they believe that their friend will live in eternal torment. I propose two ways to pull this off:
1) Constantly evangelize your friend
A truly compassionate, exclusivist believer should constantly try to convert their unbeliever friend. For if they truly believe that people who do not accept Jesus as their savior in this life are doomed to loveless eternity, then out of compassion they should always be strategizing how to convert their friend. They should sneak religious conversations in any moment they can. They should constantly keep an eye on moments when slipping in allusions to the big questions can be done persuasively.
But which non-believer would consider such a friendship as an “honest relationship”? For if the pagan friend already said that they had no interest in converting, it would be a friendship of manipulation and secrecy on the part of the believer. Another dirty little secret such believers only whisper to each other in their honest moments is that they hopefully await times when the non-believer friend suffers some loss so as to perhaps draw him closer to the Lord. At such a time of sorrow, the believer, with a half-smile, will say to their fellow believers, “Ah, now maybe my friend’s pain will help open his eyes to our need for God.” Boy, who needs friends like that ?
2) Become a “Cafeteria Believer”
But a better option for such friendships is for the believer to become a Cafeteria Believer. Many wonderful people who also happen to belong to an Exclusivist’s version of Christianity, actually do not buy into the whole package of their sect’s beliefs. In this case, they do not really need to fully embrace the salvation scheme of their church. And thus these Cafeteria believers could maintain an honest relationship with their non-believer friends. For they could believe, contrary to the doctrine of their faith-of-allegiance, that their God is good and judges peoples’ hearts rather than their beliefs. Thus, Cafeteria Christians could relax by believing that their non-believing good friends will have another chance for eternal life after they die even if they reject Christianity now. Therefore the can enjoy their friendship without the constant sorrow of imagining their friend being doomed to eternal torture. And they don’t have to constantly strategize on evangelizing the friend during every get-together.
In theology, your beliefs about how to treat non-believers is called “Goyology“. The above story is just one example of how critical it is to think through your own Goyology. Of course, as an atheist, I believe both these options are mistaken but if I have to choose, I could full-heartedly embrace a friendship with a Cafeteria Christian with Universalist tendencies.