In another thread, Truth Unites... and Divides asked about the salvation of Francis Beckwith. Since the subject of whether individuals are saved comes up a lot, and an Evangelical revert to Catholicism is an example of a case that can be hard to judge, I thought I'd post my response in a new thread. Hopefully, some readers will find my assessment helpful in thinking through these issues. This post isn't meant to be exhaustive, but rather to help people understand some of the issues involved and to help them sort through those issues. Much more could be said than I'll be saying below.
A case like Francis Beckwith's involves multiple lines of evidence pointing in different directions. And I'm ignorant of a lot of the relevant information. I appreciate his material on abortion and other topics and have sometimes read or otherwise used his material, but I haven't studied his writings on Roman Catholicism much. I'm using him as an example here because I was asked about him and because he's an example of a case that seems difficult to judge, not because I'm highly knowledgeable about his circumstances. Other people could make a better judgment than I can.
When somebody has a high degree of exposure to the gospel, as Americans do, and has at some point professed Christian faith in the context of Evangelicalism, as Beckwith did, those are significant factors that increase the plausibility of an individual's salvation.
He seems to live by high moral standards. That reflects well on him and is a relevant factor in evaluating a person's profession of faith.
He clearly accepts the large majority of the most important truths of the gospel (Jesus' Messiahship, the resurrection, etc.). That's significant.
People who are Christians sometimes later become unfaithful to the gospel temporarily, as we see with Peter and the Galatians in the New Testament. (And Paul anticipated such unfaithfulness as a possibility with the Corinthians, as we see in 2 Corinthians 11.) People are often inconsistent. They hold inconsistent beliefs at the same time or change beliefs from one period of their life to another. They contradict themselves knowingly, as they waver between two views, or unknowingly. A person can throw himself entirely on the mercy of God, like the tax collector of Luke 18, without having a high level of knowledge about doctrines like justification through faith alone and imputed righteousness. Even though he's seeking justification through faith alone, he isn't giving that fact and its implications much thought. People can have a mixture of good and bad motives, wanting to defend a bad decision they've made (such as reverting to Catholicism), even though, at the same time, they want to be right with God and understand a doctrine like justification correctly. They have conflicting desires.
John Duncan is said to have remarked, regarding some elements in Charles Wesley's hymns that seemed inconsistent with Wesley's Arminianism, "Where's your Arminianism now, friend?". I think a similar question can be asked of many people who profess to reject justification through faith alone. It's so obvious that we have to approach God like the tax collector in Luke 18, without works, and people are surrounded with reminders of that fact in a nation like the United States, where there's such easy access to Bibles, Evangelical churches and other Evangelical ministries, etc. Many people who profess some form of justification through works at some point in their life are brought to a more realistic view of things by something they experience later in life. The absurdity of justification through works is difficult to live with, and many people who profess belief in such a false gospel could be asked, in a time of difficulty or on their deathbed, "Where's your works righteousness now, friend?". Thankfully, the gospel is, in that sense, easy to understand and appealing. There's reason to think that more people accept justification through faith alone than explicitly say so, especially in a nation like the United States. Where a person lives is under God's sovereignty, and we ought to take it into account when judging the likelihood of a person's salvation and what God has planned for that individual's life.
On the other hand, sin blinds people. Even something that should be easily understood and appealing is often not understood or is rejected. People living in a nation like the United States can be, and often are, ignorant of the gospel or reject it. And Francis Beckwith has a significant level of knowledge about the relevant issues. He's an adult. He's well-educated. He has access to a lot of sources with relevant information. He made a decision to return to Catholicism and has remained Catholic after being reminded of the false nature of the Catholic gospel many times and by many people. His decisions to revert to Catholicism and remain Catholic under such circumstances are evidence against his profession of Christian faith. And his unfaithfulness to the gospel is worse than Peter's and the Galatians' in some ways. (Peter's error seems to have been less explicit, the Galatians apparently accepted Paul's correction, whereas we don't know whether Beckwith will change his position in the future, etc.).
He has some things in his favor that other Catholics don't have, such as a background in Evangelicalism. And he's not just an unnamed Catholic. He's a specific individual about whom I have some significant information. I have a general idea of what his beliefs and moral conduct are, so the situation is somewhat different than asking about the salvation of a Catholic I know less about. He's clearly not in the same category as some other Catholics, such as those who think all non-Catholics are lost or are more hostile to Evangelicalism in some other way.
Then there are the less objective factors. What do you do with a vague impression about somebody's salvation? That sort of impression doesn't give other people much reason to agree with my assessment, but it is part of what I would take into account in forming my own opinion.
What conclusion does the balance of evidence point to? I'm too ignorant of the relevant facts, and have given the subject too little thought, to reach a confident conclusion. I'm not Francis Beckwith's father, spouse, or best friend. I don't know him nearly as well as some other people do or as well as he knows himself. But I think it makes sense for somebody coming from my perspective to at least conclude that his salvation is a reasonable possibility. I hope he's saved or will be in the future, and I would be glad to meet him in Heaven. My sense is that his salvation is probable, though by a small margin, due partly to my limited knowledge. However, his errors are serious, and they deserve criticism and some degree of separation from him, even if one is confident that he's saved. He's in a category similar to that of Peter and the Galatians at best. If he's saved, it's by an Evangelical gospel (the Biblical gospel), in spite of the false gospel he's currently associated with.