26 November 2008

You May Be a Hyper-Calvinist If...

by Phil Johnson



ithin the militantly Arminian sector of the Southern Baptist Convention, it seems there are still those who insist that "by the definition of Phil Johnson," James White is a hyper-Calvinist.

That charge was made earlier this month by Dr. David Allen at the "John 3:16 Conference" in Woodstock, GA. I first read about it a day later from a couple of live-bloggers who were present at that conference—Andrew Lindsey and the blogger known as johnMark. I commented on Dr. Allen's accusation immediately—first at Challies.com, then here on the blog. James White also responded to Dr. Allen both on his blog and via his webcast.

I figured that would be the end of the matter. Evidently not.

My initial response to Dr. Allen was admittedly written very quickly. (After all, it was a comment on Tim Challies' blog, not a doctoral dissertation.) Reading it more than a week later, however, it still seems clear enough, and I stand by everything I said. The gist of it was that if Dr. Allen thinks James White is a hyper-Calvinist by my definition, then he doesn't understand my definition.

Dr. Allen has now responded to his "critics." I can't tell whether he includes me in that category. I hope not, because classifying me as a "critic" makes it sound as if I'm the one on the offense. For the record, that is not the case. I would never have replied to Dr. Allen's lecture at all if he had not misused and misquoted my "Primer on Hyper-Calvinism" in a way that seemed calculated to pit me publicly against a friend.

Evidently, Dr. Allen isn't buying my explanation of my own position. He has a totally different interpretation of my notes on hyper-Calvinism, and he says he's going to "wait to see what Phil Johnson says" after I read his exegesis of my words. For those who have wondered: No, he didn't actually write me with any questions before undertaking to explain my views—or afterward, for that matter. Unless he used a pseudonym, he didn't comment on my blogpost here, either. (That would probably have been the best place to interact with me about the issue if he had been so inclined.) But I've heard nothing from him directly. If a friend had not pointed out that Dr. Allen had posted that response on another blog, I would have had no way of knowing that he is "wait[ing]" to hear from me at all. So I gather he is not exactly waiting with bated breath.

Nevertheless, Dr. Allen's "defense" demonstrates conclusively that he doesn't understand my definition of hyper-Calvinism. He relentlessly ascribes to me a position I have frequently refuted. He insists on paraphrasing my opinion in precisely the kind of ambiguous language I have emphatically repudiated. And (most frustrating of all) he utterly ignores everything I said in my earlier response to his lecture that might have helped shed light on the very things he misconstrues so badly.

For example, I made the point on November 7 that contrary to what Dr. Allen claimed in his lecture, my "Primer on hyper-Calvinism" deliberately says nothing whatsoever about God's "desires" with regard to the salvation of the reprobate. The use of such optative terminology with respect to the divine decrees is notoriously problematic, because terms like desire and wish are usually loaded with Arminian freight. So I try never to use such expressions without taking the time to explain what I mean. (Read carefully, for example, footnote 20 in "God Without Mood Swings.")

Yet Dr. Allen continues to insist that by my definition, one valid litmus test for hyper-Calvinism is a yes-or-no question about "God's universal saving will; namely, that God wills and desires to save the non-elect."

Before I point out how thoroughly wrong that idea is, let me also note that the fellow who provided blog space for Dr. Allen's "Defense" insinuates that my earlier reply to Dr. Allen's remarks was based on a false report: "Johnson apparently has only responded to what was 'live-blogged' which is virtually limited to 'James White is a hyper-Calvinist according to Phil Johnson's definition.' I have not seen anything from Phil Johnson—or James White, for that matter—that comes close to dealing with what Dr. Allen actually presented at the J316C." (The fellow elsewhere wrote a whole post blaming the livebloggers' "mistakes" for most of the controversy generated in the wake of the "John 3:16 Conference." But I've been listening to recordings of the messages today, and in my assessment, the actual conference was ten times more of a travesty than I gathered from reading the livebloggers' reports.)

In light of all that; since people are still talking about this; and since Dr. Allen is apparently waiting to hear from me, here are my further thoughts on Dr. Allen's original remarks and his more recent defense (including his blog-host's comments):

Regarding the supposed misrepresentation by livebloggers

First, let me say that I am utterly mystified by the suggestion that my earlier reply to Dr. Allen's comments was based on misinformation I got from people who blogged about the conference. My post began by citing Andrew Lindsey, who wrote: "Dr. Allen asserted that Dr. James White is a hyper-Calvinist according to Phil Johnson’s primer on hyper-Calvinism, as Dr. White says that God does not have any desire to save the non-elect." Now, if a secondhand source like that proved to be wrong, I would indeed owe Dr. Allen an apology. But the other liveblogger there was johnMark, whose account said, "James White is a hyper-Calvinist by the definition of Phil Johnson. Oct. 10 on the Dividing Line White denied God wills the salvation of all men which is against Tom Ascol."

By the mouth of two independent witnesses, we had agreeing accounts.

I realize, of course, that while two eyewitness accounts might satisfy the biblical standard of evidence for capital crimes (Deuteronomy 17:6), they don't necessarily constitute infallible proof. So after reading Dr. Allen's "Defense," I listened to his complete "John 3:16" message for myself. (He sounds almost exactly like Jeff Foxworthy; hence the title of this post.) Not only am I very impressed with the accuracy and objectivity of the livebloggers' summaries, I have to say that the excerpts Dr. Allen himself quoted from his own message are worse, not better, than the summaries I had previously read. The full recording is worse yet.

Here are his exact words regarding me and James White: "Ladies and Gentlemen, James White is a hyper-Calvinist. By the definition of Phil Johnson in his A Primer of Hyper-Calvinism, Phil Johnson of spurgeon.org, who is the right hand man of John MacArthur, Phil Johnson tells you the five things that make for hyper-Calvinism, and James White by his teaching is a hyper-Calvinist."

Notice the ambiguity of the clause after that final comma, and the double ambiguity of the prepositional phrase "by his teaching." Who is the antecedent of the pronoun there? Is Allen saying that James White's teaching makes him a hyper-Calvinist, or that my teaching declares him to be so? And is he saying Phil Johnson "tells you . . . James White is a hyper-Calvinist"? Surely not, because that would be a complete lie.

Nevertheless, I would be interested in knowing how anyone could possibly think the livebloggers portrayed Dr. Allen's remarks as something worse than they really are, because I frankly felt his actual remarks were a far worse misrepresentation of my opinion than I was led to believe merely from the blog summaries.

Regarding my definition of hyper-Calvinism

Remember: in my notes on hyper-Calvinism I purposely avoided the use of optative expressions. The "Primer" was a short article (published in 2002 in Sword and Trowel, from London's Metropolitan Tabernacle), and I simply did not have space to delve into the difficulties such language presents. Besides, optative language is inherently ambiguous and usually loaded with Arminian freight. Ultimately, the question of whether and in what sense God "desires" the repentance of the reprobate is important, but declining to use such language does not ipso facto make someone a hyper-Calvinist. More important, the use or non-use of such expressions in the totally-unqualified way Dr. Allen insists on using them is far from the pivotal issue between historic Calvinists and hypers. In fact, his notion of "God’s universal saving will" sounds indistinguishable from Arminianism. (Is he suggesting that if you're not Arminian in your understanding of God's saving purpose, then you are a hyper-Calvinist? It sure sounds like that.) Someone of his stature and position really ought to fulminate less and define and qualify terms more.

I thought my November 7 response to Dr. Allen's comments already said or implied all those things. (I know I linked to a place where I had dealt more carefully with the problem of attributing unfulfilled "desires" to God.) For him to continue paraphrasing my position in terms I have expressly, emphatically, and repeatedly rejected makes a joke of his own claim (early in his lecture) that he is determined not to misrepresent any Calvinist whom he quotes. Moreover, his insistence on restating "my" position in his own terms (which I emphatically reject) runs counter to his own professed preference for "original sources."

Dr. Allen suggests that according to me, the essence of hyper-Calvinism is a denial of "God’s universal saving will; namely, that God wills and desires to save the non-elect." But none of the expressions he employs in that assertion are mine. Nor would I ever use or endorse unqualified language like that. Nor is that a close paraphrase of anything I did say.



The only biblical expressions of God's "desire" with respect to the salvation of the reprobate is His command regarding what they should do: "he commands all people everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). He has "no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezekiel 33:11, etc.). Those texts speak of His preceptive will—His will with regard to what they should do.

God's decretive will—His intention with regard to what He Himself will do—is normally kept secret from us until His will is accomplished, but it is this aspect of His will that He refers to when He says, "My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose" (Isaiah 46:10).

The distinction between the two aspects of the divine will is vital to historic Calvinism. It is dealt with thoroughly by John Piper here. (My "Primer" contains a link to that article.)

Regarding Dr. Allen's definition of hyper-Calvinism

Every word of the expression "universal saving will" is problematic, particularly when Dr. Allen's only explanation of that idea is the phrase "namely, that God wills and desires to save the non-elect."

The word universal with no qualifying terms or explanation suggests that God has no specific intention to save one sinner as opposed to another. Presumably the term suggests that God's ultimate purpose with regard to all sinners is universally the same. So the question of who is saved is decided solely by the individual wills of sinners rather than the eternal purpose of God. That, of course, is precisely what Arminianism suggests, and absent any teaching to the contrary, I wonder if that is indeed the idea that Dr. Allen intends to convey. If so, he ought to say so clearly. If not, he needs to stop using the expression, or explain it better.

The word saving suggests that God's only sovereign purpose in the preaching of the gospel is salvation, and thus either His purpose will be thwarted, or all men will be saved. Either view is deplorable doctrine.

In a context like this, the word will must be disambiguated. Dr. Allen clearly knows about the classic Calvinist distinctions. Whether he understands them is unclear, because he never bothers to explain how he is using the word will in this expression. Is this a reference to the decretive will of God (his secret, eternal purpose, which He Himself will bring to pass without fail), or His preceptive will (His will with regard to what He commands sinners to do)? In my assessment, much of Dr. Allen's critique of James White hinges on equivocation between the two senses of that word.

And what, precisely, is the purpose of Allen's insistence on putting so much stress on the idea of God's "desire to save the non-elect"—without any comment on the problem of how optative terminology like that can properly apply to a God who is immutable, impassible, and sovereign; and without noting how infrequently such expressions are used in Scripture? Is he purposely trying to portray God as eternally frustrated by unfulfilled longings? Or does he recognize that those terms are anthropopathisms suited to our humanness but imperfect in their ability to explain the affections of God?

Dr. Allen never grapples with nor mentions any of those questions about the ambiguity of his key expression. That glaring omission makes it impossible to take his critique of Calvinism very seriously.

Regarding the sincerity of God's proposal of mercy in the gospel

Dr. Allen seems to build much of his case on my use of the word sincere. I use that word in the formal, straightforward sense of "not feigned or pretended."

He raises this question about my position: "Is he or is he not saying that a 'sincere proposal' by God to all necessarily presupposes his willingness to save all, such that a denial of God's desire to save all is the same as denying the well-meant nature of the offer?" First, I don't see how "willingness" necessarily implies "desire." I'm willing to get up early tomorrow morning if circumstances make it necessary; I am even prepared to do so. But as it is a holiday, I desire to sleep in. This notion that if God's offer is "sincere" it must be the exact equivalent of what we think of humanly as a "desire" is a classic case of Dr. Allen's equivocation.

I've said repeatedly that I'm convinced God's pleas for the reprobate to repent are well-meant. Those beseechings are not (as some sterner Calvinists often suggest) feigned entreaties designed only to increase the damnation of those whom God only hates. I believe God has a genuine love for the non-elect because they are His creatures, made in His image. But it is not the same love He has for the elect.

If Dr. Allen recognized those distinctions, he might be in a position to criticize high-Calvinist opinions meaningfully. As it is, his critique sounds like the classic Arminian misrepresentation: "Everyone more calvinistic than I am is hyper."

Regarding various personal connections I have to this debate

Dr. Allen cited David Ponter as a source for some of his material. I've known Mr. Ponter since the mid 1990s, when he himself belonged to a hyper-Calvinist denomination. He has gradually moved toward the opposite end of the spectrum of Calvinist belief. Meanwhile, he has compiled an impressive collection of material (mostly quotations from early Calvinistic source material) arguing that historic mainstream Calvinism was of a milder flavor than the style of Calvinism that currently dominates most Internet discussions. David's archives contain some excellent stuff, but it is definitely a very one-sided perspective. It is sometimes cited (and David is named) by Arminians and self-styled four-pointers who don't represent low Calvinism very well. David has lately tried very hard to keep his name out of debates like this. But since Dr. Allen cited him by name, I thought I would acknowledge his work and note that I don't necessarily fault him for every rhetorical and polemical faux pas made by people who gobble up his resources.

Curt Daniel, whose works are often cited favorably by "four-point Calvinists" and other types of Arminians, is likewise a friend of mine. He is perhaps the world's foremost authority on hyper-Calvinism, and no one who has not read Dr. Daniel's massive dissertation on John Gill should pretend to be well-informed on the history of hyper-Calvinism. Dr. Daniel might also hold to a milder sort of Calvinism than I do, but he is not the type who automatically labels every Calvinist who disagrees with him "hyper."

Regarding James White, he has been my friend longest of these three—dating back at least to the early 1990s. We did a conference together last week and did not get an opportunity to discuss Dr. Allen's lecture. If I had known the issue was going to resurface this week, I would have tried hard to make time for that discussion.

There may be points on which James White and I would differ on how to explain and defend Calvinism. He seems to be a higher sort of Calvinist than I am. That doesn't make him "hyper."

My own convictions are thoroughly and unapologetically Calvinistic—but more in the vein of Iain Murray than Arthur Pink. If you've read Murray's biography of Pink, you will know what I mean.

I often find myself standing in the middle, urging low Calvinists not to be so quick to label their high brethren "hyper," and likewise urging high Calvinists not to be so quick to dismiss their low brethren as crypto-Arminians. From my position, it is absolutely clear that there are many different hues of Calvinism; we are not a monolithic community.

Critics on all sides would do well to try harder to understand that. I rather suspect Dr. Allen would be somewhat perturbed if his Calvinist critics incessantly argued that his view of a god with eternally unfulfilled longings is really nothing more than the doctrine of Open Theism.

That, in my opinion, would be the exact equivalent of Dr. Allen's claim that high Calvinism's reluctance to make blithe use of optative language to describe God's demeanor toward the reprobate is nothing but the distilled essence of hyper-Calvinism.

I think he better think it out again.

Phil's signature

156 comments:

YnottonY said...

Phil,

How do you read the following quotes?

"These quotations lead us on to the fourth and perhaps the most serious difference of all between evangelical Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism.

Hyper-Calvinism and the Love of God

Spurgeon saw that behind the distortion of predestination, and the unwillingness to believe that the gospel invitations are to be addressed freely to all men, lay a failure to understand what Scripture reveals about the character of God himself. If God has chosen an elect people, then, Hyper-Calvinism argued, he can have no desire for the salvation of any others and to speak as though he had, is to deny the particularity of grace. Of course, Hyper-Calvinists accepted that the gospel be preached to all, but they denied that such preaching was intended to demonstrate any love on the part of God for all, or any invitation to all to receive mercy."

Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching (Carlisle, Penn.: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), 88-89.

"Spurgeon regarded the denial of God's desire for the salvation of all men as no mere theoretical mistake. For it converged with one of the greatest obstacles to faith on the part of the unconverted, that is to say, a wrong view of the character of God." Ibid., 90.

Iain Murray has several pages dealing with C. H. Spurgeon's take on 1 Tim. 2:3-4. As you know, these comments by Spurgeon strongly affirm that God wills to save all men. In the footnote, Murray says, "This provides an excellent summary of Spurgeon's thought on one of the principle issues relating to the Hyper-Calvinistic controversy." Ibid., 149.

Iain Murray also includes a lecture by T. J Crawford dealing with Free-Agency and God's Desire for the Salvation of All to underline the point. Crawford writes:

"For how does the case stand in this respect with His commandments? These, no less than His invitations, are addressed to all. Both are alike to be considered as indications of what He desires and requires to be done by all. Nor are there wanting, with reference to His commandments, testimonies quite as significant as any which are to be found with reference to His invitiations, of the earnestness and intensity of His desire that the course which they prescribe should be adopted by all who hear them." Ibid., 146.

Murray is clearly making a strong point about God's desire to save all men, and that the denial of that doctrine constitutes hyper-Calvinism.

Curt Daniel lists four "main Hyper-Calvinist arguments" against "free offers" along with the historic Calvinist reply. The fourth in the list says:

(4) "Free offers imply that God wishes all men to be saved. This contradicts the doctrine of election. It also implies that grace is universal." But: The Reformed doctrine of the revealed will of God is that there is a sense in which God certainly does will the salvation of all who hear the Gospel, just as He wills all who hear the Law to obey. He has no pleasure in the death of the one who rejects either Law or Gospel. True Reformed theology keeps the balance between the secret will (election) and the revealed will (Gospel), but Hyperism over-emphasizes the secret will. Similarly, special grace reflects election and the secret will, but there is also common grace for all men as creatures in the revealed will."

Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield, Ill.: Good Books, 2003), p. 90.

These sources are saying that a denial of God's universal saving desire, wish or will constitutes a main component of hyper-Calvinism. How do you read them? Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

Also, how do you hear James White on this? Do you think he is affirming or denying what these men are talking about? If he is affirming their view, what passage of scripture does he use to support God's desire to save all men? Any at all?

blackreformingkid said...

I live in London so I cannot fully comment on what the SBC is doing. Working off of the material circulated on the web, I have wonder (with all due respect to Mr. Allen as a man old enough to be my father) why he would go out of his way to misrepresent Dr. White and then to defend such a misrepresentation.

It seems to me hat there is a strong, elitist, "old boys club" in the Convention which wants to silence anything which could challenge "the way we've always done it" and that needs to change or folks might just leave the SBC...and never look back

Wiseguy said...

It seems to me that your defence against the militant Arminians would be greatly strengthened if only your Calvinist stance was more consistent.

It is absolutely absurd in the extreme to speak of God sincerely offering salvation in the preaching of the Gospel to those whom He has eternally chosen not to save or desiring the salvation of those whom He has chosen not to save. Every verse mentioning God's desire to save is always limited to those whom He has chosen to save (e.g. see Calvin's rebuttals of Pighius).

What then is presented in the preaching of the Gospel? It is a command and a promise, and not an Arminian helpless and frustrated offer. It is in short, Christ and Him crucified.

From this we see that every person is commanded to repent and believe (common responsibility), and that all those for whom Jesus died will repent and believe (particular grace). Why?

Certainly the Gospel must be preached to every single person, but the Gospel has never been an "offer" in the Arminian sense in what might be called true Calvinism. True, Calvin used the word "offre" but not in the sense of a gift offered to be accepted or rejected, rather, as a promise presented (as proper study of the original meaning of the word and its context shows).

As every proper Calvinist knows, the Gospel is in essence, a promise, that promise being unconditional, since there is only one Saviour and one Mediator between God and man. God alone passed through the animal halves, meaning that God sealed His promise with and oath sworn by Himself on Himself, just as Christ the Testator alone died on the cross and rose again. This is one of the fundamental reasons why salvation is monergistic.

It follows then that while the responsibility toward God is the same for every single person in that not repenting and not believing is wicked, that is; God requirements are the same to every single person, (these requirements serving to show us that we cannot even in part save ourselves) the particular and unconditional promise of the Gospel assures His sheep of their secure redemption because the Spirit works faith in them.

Therefore every person is condemned by God's Law as desperately wicked, and yet by the Spirit, the sheep are brought good tidings of great joy and peace in the preaching of the Gospel. Every person is commanded to repent and believe, the wicked disobey and ignore the command, while the sheep hear His voice and find themselves driven to repentance and belief, while even so despairing of their own ability to do so, and so they know that the Spirit has worked in them, and that He who began a good work will bring to completion.

None of this is in any way an Arminian "sincere" offer of salvation to all, nor is it hyper-Calvinism. The Gospel boldly declares that salvation is wrought by Christ alone, and given to whomsoever the Father wills not offered to every person, though the command to believe is given to every person and the promise of assured salvation to those who believe is given. Those who believe this, are then assured by the same preaching that their belief was wrought in them because Christ has saved them.

The promise is particular, the command is universal, the "offer" is deceptive, synergistic and unbiblical.

Making this clear to the Arminians would make your defence far stronger. Inconsistencies are like having a wall built with no mortar between the blocks...

YnottonY said...

John MacArthur said:

"God explicitly says that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:32; 33:11). He does not delight in evil (Isa. 65:12). He hates all expressions of wickedness and pride (Prov. 6:16-19). Since none of those things can occur apart from the decree of a sovereign God, we must conclude that there is a sense in which His decrees do not always reflect His desires; His purposes are not necessarily accomplished in accord with His preferences.

The language here is necessarily anthropopathic (ascribing human emotions to God). To speak of unfulfilled desires in the Godhead is to employ terms fit only for the human mind. Yet such expressions communicate some truth about God that cannot otherwise be expressed in human language. As noted in chapter 3, God's own Word uses anthropopathisms to convey truth about Him that cannot adequately be represented to us through any other means."

See John MacArthur, The Love of God (Word Publishing, 1996), pp. 107-110.

Notice that Dr. MacArthur 1) does not hesitate to use the term "desire." In fact, he said that 2) these expressions say something about God "that cannot otherwise be expressed in human language." He 3) affirms that God's own Word uses these expressions about God "that cannot adequately be represented to us through any other means." Also, Dr. MacArthur uses the term "wish" without any hesitation, just as Dr. Daniel does above. See John F. MacArthur, Nothing But the Truth (Good News Publishers, 1999), 43.

Given what Dr. MacArthur says, how could you say, "Optative expressions like desire and wish are always problematic when it comes to describing God's demeanor toward the reprobate"?

Do you think that James White is merely quibbling over these optative expressions? Or is he outright denying the very concept of God "yearning" [MacArthur's expression] for all the wicked to repent, including the non-elect?

Why are these optative expressions such a problem when they are used in all the Reformed literature? It's in Calvin, Ursinus, Turretin, Davenant, Thomas Cartwright, countless Puritans, Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Fuller, Dagg, C. Hodge, John Murray, Berkhof, Iain Murray, Packer, O. Palmer Robertson, Piper and Ascol?

Dr. Sam Waldron (in his Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith [Evangelical Press, 1989], pp. 121-122.) even speaks of God's "desire" to save all men as an "intent" and "purpose."

If these optative expressions are "always problematic," then Thomas Chalmers, Andrew Gray, George Whitefield, Ralph Venning, Thomas Manton, George Swinnock, William Gurnall, John Shower, Stephen Charnock, John Flavel, Samuel Rutherford, Charles Spurgeon and John MacArthur were most uncautious when they speak of God and Christ BEGGING for sinners to come to them in reference to 2 Cor. 5:20.

Rick Frueh said...

I'm reviewing...the situation...

As an Arminian I find it difficult to identify the theological players without a scorecard. Sometimes it seems so unproductive, including publicly attacking Mr. White. The SBC has so many liberal, unbiblical, health and wealth, and shallow skeletons in its closet I am surprised they have time to single out White.

Perhaps a more productive and kingdom promoting apologetics could be suggested. Let the local pastor teach his sheep, but these national conferences should be used for a call to repentence and a deeper commitment to Christ for pastors - including the speakers.

"If you don't mind livin' without the good stuff...it's a fine life (now).

Barbara said...

Southern Baptist in the Deep South of Georgia here, one who wears the Scarlet Letter "C":

I followed the 3:16 conference liveblogging and it left me with one single conclusion: Let the dead bury their dead.

That said, might I humbly submit that perhaps, rather than argue it out in blogging forums without first discussing it with each other, they might at least make an attempt at speaking directly to each other. Phones and emails and roads all travel in both directions.

Frank Turk said...

It was well worth not posting today for that.

Frank Turk said...

To Barbara's point, btw, the anti-calvinists in the SBC have no intention and no inclination to have a civil and conciliatory conversation about what is at stake here. It is not in their decretive will, nor is it in their preceptive will.

The question, at its root, is "why do they hate Calvinism this much?" And I'll say it here frankly: I think they don't hate calvinism (small "c"). I think they hate calvinists.

That is to say this: I think that wing of the SBC hates those who are, as a group, not interested in establishing the SBC as a secular political power base, not interested in country-club megachurches, not interested in moralism over God's gracious salvation, and not interested in allowing people with false conversions to kid themselves into the assurance of grace when they are destined for hell.

One man's opinion.

DJP said...

I do wish you'd stop pussy-footing around and speak your mind plainly, Turk.

YnottonY said...

Dr. Curt Daniel also uses the expression "universal saving will" to describe God's revealed will, i.e. that He wills all to be saved by believing the Gospel. He says:

"Yet another problem facing Calvinists is the nature of the universal saving will in the Revealed Will. Much of it revolves around the exegesis of 1 Tim. 2:4. Some say that salvation belongs only to the Secret Will; the Revealed has only to do with the Law. If that were so, then the Gospel is a secret -- how could we preach it? The truth is that the call of the Gospel commands faith in all who hear it -- God wills for them to believe the Gospel, in the Revealed Will. In that sense, He wills all to be saved. But remember, the Revealed Will is conditional. He wills for them to be saved by believing the Gospel. But He has not intended to give them all faith. This too is a paradox which we will examine more closely later."

Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield: Good Books, 2003), 208.

Carla said...

Thank you Phil. I very much appreciate you taking the time to address this again.

SDG

Barbara said...

Frank, I understand that fully. Believe me, I do. But to rip off one of Dan's most favorite recent questions, Does the sin of another justify my own?

Blessed are the peacemakers (not the peacekeepers).

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Maybe Allen doesn't differentiate between the preceptive and decretive wills of God because he either doesn't believe there is such a division or he doesn't understand the distinction between the two.

Does not a belief in a "universal saving will" of God merge the two wills and make them indistinguishable?

I also agree that the term is quite vague and loaded with ambiguity, but after talking with one of Allen's former students (a family member of mine who is close to Allen and attended the conference), I am convinced the he (and probably Allen as well) simply just does not understand the true nature of God as revealed in Scripture.

Or, they may understand who God is, but they just don't apply that understanding to the penal substitutionary atoning work of Christ on the cross.

Phil said...

YnottonY,as far as I understand,I like what you quote...Had an interesting conversation on this over at Reid Ferguson's blog. Personally(and humbly)I think C5P's like Spurgeon are too high,Amyraldians too low.

Wiseguy said...

The reason these optative expressions are a problem, though many respectable Calvinists have used them in the past (though many have recanted of them, such as in Calvin vs. Pighius), is due to a common Arminian misinterpretation of verses like Ezek. 18:32; 33:11.

These are easily and clearly explained by Calvin himself. For example, the wicked of (elect) Israel, that God did not desire the death of in 33:11 are raised to life in chapter 37 by the preaching of the Gospel.

The wicked that He would not take the pleasure in the death of (and therefore they will not die, since God hath done all that He pleaseth!) are those humble repentant who turn from their wickedness as the context explains. He does not desire their death, (hence Christ paid for their redemption), but He does desire the death of the wicked self-righteous hypocrites.

A simple even almost superficial study of the study shows MacArthur's view to be a poor, inconsistent, and unwarranted compromise. He may not be aware of this Himself, but I hope that God will correct Him on this. Like I said, inconsistencies are houses built with wood and straw.

John Piper himself says for example that every detail of this universe is exactly the way that God desires it to be. The Westminster Standards also confirm that God does not have passions. He reveals Himself in a way that we can understand Him, for sure, with descriptions of Him having hands and eyes like us, even emotions. But these are always representative of the truth, not inconsistencies.

Though we only see in part, this does not mean that we see in inconsistencies, unless there are inconsistencies in God of whom we are told that in Him there is not a shadow of turning. The inconsistencies we occasionally perceive in God's revelation are in invented by our own lack of diligent study not in God's revelation. As such, they ought to be figured out and pursued with diligent study, trusting that the Spirit will guide away from the lies and into truth.

If apologetics is to be of any use, and if the church is to be defended against incorrect doctrine, then this is absolutely necessary. John Piper wrote an excellent piece to J.I. Packer explaining this.

The reason this gets more complicated than it is, is because of compromises with the Arminian views. I quote Psalm 5:5, 11:5, etc. There is no doubt that God does not love the wicked reprobate and desires their destruction (2 Peter 2, Jude etc.) yet the elect who are wicked by nature also, He does loves and desires their glorification.

And whatsoever pleases Him, that He hath done.

Rick Frueh said...

Please receive a little humor based upon Phil's post title.

You might be a hyper-Calvinist if:

* You allow the waitress to choose your meal for you.
* You refer to your testimony as your “post election victory speech”.
* You believe Charles Finney was the anti-christ.
* You interpret the 70 x 70 forgiveness principle as proof of limited atonement.
* You say grace at meals because you find it irresistible.
* Your slightly dented car seems repairable but you claim it’s totaled.
* You refuse to vote because it misrepresents a spiritual principle.
* Your children call Calvin “Uncle John”.

I know I am warped...

Jonathan Hunt said...

Phil

The link to the primer on the met tab site doesn't seem to work.

dougvircysehomyg said...

I often wish that Armenians (and some of those among us who consider ourselves to be Calvinists!) would stop trying to psychoanalyze the God of the universe. Surly we must accept that His ways are above our ways.

Anyone who has taken the time to read John Calvin and John Knox for themselves, as opposed to relying on second, third and fourth hand quotations, can only be impressed by the way they so simply accepted and taught all of God's revelation in the Scriptures about Himself. If the teaching in a passage seemed to their limited human minds to be inconsistent with another passage, they did not let that bother them. Nor did they write hundreds of pages trying to reconcile seeming paradoxes concerning God’s will and human responsibility. They allowed God to be God.

I love theology, but. I sometimes tire of the tendency to build complicated logical systems and create categories within God’s person that are based solely on our own logic – that go beyond what He has revealed in His word. We cannot know everything about God – I suspect we will spend all of eternity learning and being continually surprised about who He is.

Who are we to try to divide God’s will into “secret” and “revealed” categories? Perhaps it is all so very much more complicated than that. Perhaps it is simply beyond our comprehension. Let us learn to live with the seeming paradoxes, appreciate the God who has tender concern for all His creatures, and bask gratefully in the truth that we his children are the objects of his sovereign choice.

Frank Turk said...

Wiseguy:

Then why does Jesus weep for Jerusalem?

See: your view says that God is sort of slyly, with some kind of plausible deniability, merely showing the Gospel to the lost who will not be saved -- rather than actually declaring it to them, actually proclaiming that there is forgiveness for repentence.

I think that's completely clap-trap. Paul declares the Gospel so forcefully and convincing to Festus, Festus thinks Paul is seeking his immediate conversion -- has Paul here done more than God would have him do? What about the Greeks in the Aeropagus -- Paul there declares the resurrection to them as a sign of the Gospel. Has Paul again overstepped the bounds of God's decree -- or worse, is Paul baiting the Greeks to something they cannot have?

God loves men -- and the offer of the Gospel is an offer of love, plain and simple. These anti-calvinists are 100% right to show that God so loved the world; their problem is that they miss the fact that God only saves the believers, and that the believers are saved by Him in every way -- including their sinful wills which hate Him.

The offer of the Gospel is a straightforward offer from God to men, and God will offer forgiveness to all the believing ones, all the repenting ones. Therefore, it is right to say as Ray Comfort would to anyone on the street: as a sinner, you must repent -- repent and be saved.

Wiseguy said...

The doctrines of the perspicuity and unity of Scripture tell us that we do not have to live with seeming paradoxes with what God has revealed in Scripture. Indeed to do so is to conclude that we should never try to understand anything of Scripture.

Had that been the view of Luther, there would never have been a recovery of the true Gospel at the time of the Reformation. It is the lies of Satan that cause us to see seeming paradoxes so that the truth is obscured and without defence. This is why we need to discuss these things and try to understand better - for the defence of the Gospel and the refutation of the lies! I direct you again to John Piper's response to J.I. Packer.

Personally, I don't see many paradoxes at all anymore in Scripture, now that by His grace I've had this viewpoint that Scripture does not contradict itself and that it interprets itself, and taken the time to study and accept the teaching of God's word. It is the Arminians, Calvinist-compromisers, pseudo-Arminian "free-offer" pushers, and hyper-Calvinists who give up studying Scripture diligently being content with contradictions.

My friends, a contradiction tells us that we are wrong in our interpretation somewhere and we had better correct ourselves lest we speak lies and be rebuked. That's how Luther rediscovered justification by faith alone.

For this particular controversy, I point you to the attitude of Calvin in "A Treatise on the Doctrine of Predestination," in Calvin’s Calvinism (RFPA: Grand Rapids, USA, 1987):

"… when Pighius holds that God’s election of grace has no reference to, or connection with, His hatred of the reprobate, I maintain that reference and connection to be a truth. Inasmuch as the just severity of God answers, in equal and common cause, to that free love with which He embraces His elect" (p. 75).

"… let Pighius boast, if he can, that God willeth all men to be saved! The above arguments, founded on the Scriptures, prove that even the external preaching of the doctrine of salvation, which is very far inferior to the illumination of the Spirit, was not made of God common to all men" (p. 104).

"‘But Paul teaches us (continues Georgius) that God `would have all men to be saved.`’ It follows, therefore, according to his understanding of that passage, either that God is disappointed in His wishes, or that all men without exception must be saved … why, if such be the case, God did not command the Gospel to be preached to all men indiscriminately from the beginning of the world? why [did] He [suffer] so many generations of men to wander for so many ages in all the darkness of death?" (p. 166).

"Pighius, like a wild beast escaped from his cage, rushes forth, bounding all fences in his way, uttering such sentiments as these:

‘The mercy of God is extended to everyone, for God wishes all men to be saved; and for that end He stands and knocks at the door of our heart, desiring to enter. Therefore, those were elected from before the foundation of the world, by whom He foreknew He should be received. But God hardens no one, excepting by His forebearance, in the same manner as too fond parents ruin their children by excessive indulgence.’

Just as if anyone, by such puerile dreams as these, could escape the force of all those things which the apostle plainly declares in direct contradiction to such sentiments!

[1. Argument from election and reprobation] And just as if it were nothing at all to his readers, when Paul positively asserts that, out of the twins, while they were yet in the womb of their mother, the one was chosen and the other rejected! and that, too, without any respect to the works of either, present or future (of the former of which there could be none), but solely by the good pleasure of God that calleth!

[2. Argument from the hardening of the reprobate] As if it were nothing, when the apostle testifies that ‘it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,’ who hardeneth whom He will, and hath mercy on whom He will!

[3. Argument from the reprobate being ‘vessels of wrath’] As if it were nothing when the same apostle avers, ‘that God sheweth forth His power in the vessels of wrath,’ in order that He might make known the riches of His grace on the vessels of mercy!’ Paul undeniably here testifies that all those of Israel who were saved were saved according to God’s free election; and that, therefore, "the election obtained it, and the rest were blinded’ (Rom. 11:7)" (pp. 152-153).

These are the humbling and consistent and biblical doctrines which Calvinism is about. This is exactly the point where compromise first occurs because it is precisely where human pride is most provoked. In our flesh, it is the last conclusion we would turn to. But Scripture leaves no alternative.

Phil said...

Yer,feeling that right now. I just found out that an amiable guy I went school with has recently died from leukemia. The last time we spoke about 6 years ago,we met in the street and he was telling me that a couple of other guys we went to school with had just been killed in a car-crash. He made some comment that I felt impugned God,and I gave some sort of retort on the basis of an offended sense of propriety concerning my then-recently acquired view of God's sovereignty :( Amen,Frank. It's telling that Paul in Romans 9,who had the heart of his Lord,starts the chapter telling us of his sorrow because they would not believe,and ends it somewhat similarly.

Phil said...

(That was a reference to Doug's comment.)

Mark B. Hanson said...

You might be a hyper-Calvinist if...
* You believe Charles Finney was the anti-christ.


Well, in what sense wasn't he?
- He believed that people had the ability to keep away from sin without Christ's help.
- He denied the substitutionary atonement of Jesus.
- He believed that you lost your salvation immediately when you sinned, and only got it back when you repented.
- He and those who followed his "methods" were responsible for the "burned-over district" in the early 18th century, which became the hotbed of cults like Mormonism, Christian Science and the Millerites.
- He himself counted barely 1 in 20 (5%) of his converts to be faithful a few years later (of course, if that means they didn't remain faithful to his theology, that was a good thing!)

OK, not "the" antichrist, but "an" antichrist.

DJP said...

Oh, come on guys. You can have this meta into three digits before Phil gets up.

Put your backs into it!

Wiseguy said...

First of all, I was saying that the Gospel must be preached to every person! Everyone must be commanded to repent and believe, and promise of salvation to those who believe must be declared to every person!

But that's not an offer, that's a command and a promise.

What an un-Calvinist question! Usually it was Calvin arguing against those who tried to use arguments like that.

Regarding the weeping for Jerusalem (not to be confused with Matthew 23:37 where Jesus condemned the Pharisees who continually, yet ineffectually resist the gathering of Jerusalem's children - the elect), it is first worth noting that Jesus did not weep for Capernaum nor Khorazin, etc. Why is this? Because Jerusalem is different. It is an earthly shadow or representation of the New Jerusalem, the city of God's people. And to see what the depravity and wickedness of its leaders would bring upon it was terrible to imagine, though He knew it in every detail and was also pleased with it (as we see from His words!).

Secondly it is worth comparing this to Jesus weeping at Lazarus' grave. He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus and the whole thing would work for the good of His people and for His glory. But He wept because of His human nature, despite that joy set before Him. He also wept because of His longing to see it completed and for the mourning to turn to gladness.

Likewise His weeping at Jerusalem was due to His human nature (even though it would work of the good of His people and His glory), to commune with the suffering His people would have to endure because of it - as we also ought to mourn with those who mourn.

And thirdly, because of the example we ought to follow. Paul said that he could wish that he were cut off for the sake of His brethren according to the flesh (yet also in other places rejoiced that judgment was finally brought to the uttermost upon the "dogs" and "mutilators of the flesh" as He occasionally called the Judaizers). Jesus demonstrated to us what this looks like. He wept at how they had profaned God's covenant, and the city of Jerusalem which was supposed to be a holy city.

He was, I believe, first and foremost weeping on account of God's covenant being profaned by the wicked reprobate in Jerusalem. But of course He knew that this was all part of God's good and perfect plan and that all glory would be to God eternally as the veil would be pulled back from history and every mouth would be stopped.

Barbara said...

Amen, Doug. At the end of the day it is God who is great and it is God who should be glorified. It was a religious system that hated Christ but He died for them, too, if they would repent and believe. Who am I to say who that is and who that isn't, and who am I to put words in God's mouth about what He wills and does vs. what He desires? I wonder sometimes if we aren't somehow unconsciously trying to usurp some of that power and glory for ourselves by being "right" about everything and by trying to put words in His mouth to appease our consciences. Common human foible, and praise God it's forgiveable once repented of.

I have a theory about the 3:16 conference and the SBC - only a theory, mind you, but I know the general layout of the SBC and I know the associational leaders here in our little area, and don't think I don't upset some carts because the "C" isn't the only scarlet letter I wear in this little baptist association - I'm also a divorced woman who doesn't have a man to speak for her nor to answer to - so I speak up on my own and challenge something when I hear something like what our associational president said at a pre-election prayer meeting, when he commented that man's will often overrides God's will in elections such as these - I gently brought up Colossians 1:16-17 to him and he retreated his position. I've heard the president of one of the SBC seminaries speak very recently (and nearly walked out because my spirit was grieving, my heart was breaking as he was too busy telling some horrid jokes to drive home a decent, biblical point with any real depth or meaning). Though they don't mean to be, when it comes to their public behavior and their words these guys are an absolute embarrassment to the genuine Christian faith.

Which begs the question: why? To quote Betsie Ten Boom from "A Hiding Place" as she gently rebukes her sister Corrie for her hatred of their Nazi guards at Ravensbruck, "They can't be more than they are. Only Jesus can save you from yourself."

So ... here's my theory (and it's just a theory): these guys are scared. Perhaps even convicted. The 3:16 conference in Woodstock came on the heels of the Revival Conference in Atlanta and the Deeper Conference in Woodstock, both of which featured one Paul Washer who as we know is currently trying to evangelize the SBC and in so doing is pouring water into the sand upon which their castles are built: the "Sinner's Prayer" followed by baptism for salvation; then go on about your way giving your 10% and live a moral life - which opens the door to the marketing stuff and the obvious unregenerate nature of so many churches, against which the emergent movement acts as a backlash. Both have the form of godliness but yet deny the power thereof.

And so they're either fearful for their comfort zone, their livelihoods, the potential waste of what they've worked for all their lives, and/or they're under the pain of having an increasingly influential itinerant preacher (who happens to be a "five point Spurgeonist") who preaches something like this in their faces, and who at the Deeper Conference (at the SAME church as the 3:16 conference, I believe) preached his message about the idolatry of decisionism during the outbreak session. Which stuck a big hole in their marketing concept.

These men - they need our prayers, they need the same grace extended to them that Christ extended to us when He died for us helpless, ungodly, wretched, enemies of God. Because you can't be more than what you are.

Johnny Dialectic said...

A jailer announces, "Anyone who wants to go home may do so. Just open your door and walk out." But he keeps (secretly) 50% of the cells locked.

In what sense is his offer "well-meant"? I propose in no sense that makes sense, which is the inveterate Calvinist problem.

Does God "desire" all men to be saved? How can this be any plainer than in 2 Peter 3:9? Of "boulomai" in 2 Peter 3:9, e.g.:

boulomai: to desire to have or experience something, with the implication of some reasoned planning or will to accomplish the goal—'to desire, to want, to will.' (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament)

1 to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded. 2 of willing as an affection, to desire. (Strong's)

Clarke has the final word on this passage:

"As God is not willing that any should perish, and as he is willing that all should come to repentance, consequently he has never devised nor decreed the damnation of any man, nor has he rendered it impossible for any soul to be saved, either by necessitating him to do evil, that he might die for it, or refusing him the means of recovery, without which he could not be saved."

Wiseguy said...

2 Peter 3:9 is right in the context of Peter declaring God's desire to damn the false teachers. In this context He says that God is longsuffering towards us not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance.

In that context, how could the Scripture be so wrested there as to make "any" and "all" mean anything other than "us" which Peter explains in chapter one to be the elect of God.

This is the kind of thing Calvinists need to realise if they are going to consistently and biblically defend their view. The Arminians are right that in the Calvinist view, the Gospel is not an offer. The Bible never describes it as an offer, nor is it ever preached as an offer.

Read Acts (along with the rest of the Bible), it is a command and a promise always.

Barbara said...

Plus it's written to a church, not to the world at large. And all scripture must be taken in context with other scripture, not to contradict (and thus make void - may it never be!) but to recognize a paradox that may or may not be within the capacity of mere mortals to reason.

I like this outline (for a lay person with a secular job): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T5nJcnJEfw

Solameanie said...

And now Phil derails a meta with references to "Oliver." Who will buy this wonderful....oh, stop it!

Seriously, I've been concerned about this growing roar between the Calvinist and Arminian camps for some time. From what I've seen, the Calvinists aren't the ones who started this most recent skirmish. I think we could probably lay that in Dave Hunt's lap.

You would also hope that, in this day and age of instant technology, people would know better to misrepresent others in print, on the air or via the Internet. The misrepresentation is so easily caught out. To quote Monty P. again, "No, no..you can't read my writing!"

"It's typed."

Wiseguy said...

Thanks Barbara, exactly my point. And here's that linkie should read from John Piper:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1976/1581_A_Response_to_JI_Packer_on_the_SoCalled_Antinomy_Between_the_Sovereignty_of_God_and_Human_Responsibility/

and for further study against irrationalism:

http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=1

dac said...

Wiseguy said
The doctrines of the perspicuity and unity of Scripture tell us that we do not have to live with seeming paradoxes with what God has revealed in Scripture

I think your definition of perspicuity of scripture and mine is not so much the same.

johnMark said...

Phil,

Thanks for the post. You just warmed up a cold day in Georgia.

Interestingly enough, Jim Ellis wrote earlier this year inReformed Perspectives Magazine:

...the specific characteristics of hyper-Calvinism: (1) a denial that the call of the gospel to repent and believe is universal, i.e. for all alike, and (2) a denial that the unregenerate man has a duty to believe...But why not let the "Hypers" speak for themselves...in their own words from Article 26 in the confessional articles of the Gospel Standard (Baptist) Churches: We deny duty faith and duty repentance - these terms suggesting that it is every man’s duty spiritually and savingly to repent and believe. We deny also that there is any capability in man by nature to any spiritual good whatever. So that we reject the doctrine that man in a state of nature should be exhorted to believe in or turn to God.

Mark

Wiseguy said...

The depths of Scripture are for sure, unfathomable (we will never reach the depths of what they teach us), but even the very surface in not inconsistent.

Perspicuity tells us that we can clearly see the surface as it rightly is (without too much difficulty - though some parts are difficult - but not contradictory!), and unity tells us that what we correctly see is not contradictory. Therefore if we see a seeming contradiction, we have misunderstood something.

The answer is to then go back to the simple and straightforward parts of Scripture and interpret the more vague or difficult parts in that light. This is the very basics of Reformational hermeneutics!! ;)

God bless.

Grigs said...

To get a copy of Dr. Curt Daniel's discertion on HyperCalvinism or his book: The History and Theology of Calvinism (which is in the process of being updated now) at his church's website:

www.faithbibleonline.net

Phil said...

But what of the nature of the gospel command,wiseguy? It is a command and by it's very nature has reference to the good of those being addressed. God commands for good reason. Out of love.'Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy-laden' is not code for 'come unto me,elect ones who are under conviction'. Neither is it not a well-founded invitation. 'Whosoever will,let him take of the water of life freely'is not code for a mere truism - 'if you are elect,you will take of the water of life freely'. Without active,volitional faith,there's no salvation. That some are effectually given such by the turning of their wills does not mean that they-and others if they would be saved - must likewise respond to the general call to be saved. And it's the goodness of God that leads to repentance - not the mere notion of it,but a reasonable sense of it in the offer. If we lose that aspect of the command,we lose the power of the gospel. It becomes a mere transcript of election. But election is not what leads men to repentance.

Frank Turk said...

Who said anything about a "paradox"? My problem is with a merely-systematic view of Scripture which frankly overlooks massive tracts of narrative and the propositions they produce.

Why does Jesus -- truly God, truly man; wholly God and wholly man -- weep for Jerusalem? Your view, Wiseguy, is that Jesus was weeping for everything but Jerusalem -- everything but the city and its people. Yet it is the city over which He laments -- not a covenant, but that the people with whom God has made the Old Covenant would not be gathered -- that is, that they choose death and not life, as Moses or Joshua might have said.

This is not an incongruous event in the life of jesus -- something we cannot see coming. Think on Jonah for a minute -- that God's argument against Jonah at the end of that small book is that Jonah has pity on the plant, but that Jonah wants God not to have pity on the Ninevites who are the enemies of Israel.

"Should I not pity Ninevah?" God asks Jonah -- and we know factually that Ninivah does not become a godly city but soon after the death of Jonah returns to persecuting Israel.

God is making a good-faith offer to the lost in the Gospel. To say otherwise is simply grotesque high-mindedness about systematics turning a bling eye to the dozens of examples in Scripture where God shows mercy to those who are unjust and who are also lost.

Here would be my starter list for those who would say they don't exist:

-Cain
-Esau
-Egypt under Joseph
-The generation freed from slavery in Egypt but slain in the wilderness for their disobedience
-King Saul
-Ninevah
-nearly all the kings of Israel, and nearly all the kings of Judah
-Judas Iscariot

Johnny Dialectic said...

Wise and Barbara, is 1 Tim. 2:4 limited in the same fashion? Or for this verse do you put (all) your chips upon the "all" does not mean "all" table?

Frank Turk said...

What staggers me in re-reading your replies here, Wiseguy, is your glossing over language like 2Cor 5 in which Paul, talking about the ministry of the Gospel, calls it "persuading" (v. 11), "reconciling" and a "message" (v. 19), and an "appeal" by God (v. 20).

The Gospel is not an "offer"? Paul differs with you. Think about that some more.

greglong said...

Frank said:

God is making a good-faith offer to the lost in the Gospel. To say otherwise is simply grotesque high-mindedness about systematics turning a bling eye to the dozens of examples in Scripture where God shows mercy to those who are unjust and who are also lost.

Well said, Frank. I agree.

But a "bling" eye? Like this?

Frank Turk said...

And with that, I am out of here -- driving home today for the weekend.

God be with you all.

ezekiel said...

Spurgeon Tuesday, Nov 25 Evening.


'“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
- Rom_9:15
In these words the Lord in the plainest manner claims the right to give or to withhold his mercy according to his own sovereign will. As the prerogative of life and death is vested in the monarch, so the Judge of all the earth has a right to spare or condemn the guilty, as may seem best in his sight. Men by their sins have forfeited all claim upon God; they deserve to perish for their sins-and if they all do so, they have no ground for complaint. If the Lord steps in to save any, he may do so if the ends of justice are not thwarted; but if he judges it best to leave the condemned to suffer the righteous sentence, none may arraign him at their bar. Foolish and impudent are all those discourses about the rights of men to be all placed on the same footing; ignorant, if not worse, are those contentions against discriminating grace, which are but the rebellions of proud human nature against the crown and sceptre of Jehovah. When we are brought to see our own utter ruin and ill desert, and the justice of the divine verdict against sin, we no longer cavil at the truth that the Lord is not bound to save us; we do not murmur if he chooses to save others, as though he were doing us an injury, but feel that if he deigns to look upon us, it will be his own free act of undeserved goodness, for which we shall for ever bless his name.
How shall those who are the subjects of divine election sufficiently adore the grace of God? They have no room for boasting, for sovereignty most effectually excludes it. The Lord’s will alone is glorified, and the very notion of human merit is cast out to everlasting contempt. There is no more humbling doctrine in Scripture than that of election, none more promotive of gratitude, and, consequently, none more sanctifying. Believers should not be afraid of it, but adoringly rejoice in it."

DJP said...

...and, with one last stir, Mr. Turk bids the hornets "adieu."

(c;

Frank Turk said...

Like that exactly, Greg. Good catch.

kiwibyproxy said...

Hi Phil,

I have a question.

If you don't consider James White to be a Hyper-Calvinist according the guidelines of your primer, would you consider him to be one according to what both Kurt Daniel and Iain Murray have put forth in their work?

Thanks.

Carrie Hunter
Reclaiming the Mind Ministires

Phil Johnson said...

kiwibyproxy: "f you don't consider James White to be a Hyper-Calvinist according the guidelines of your primer, would you consider him to be one according to what both Kurt Daniel and Iain Murray have put forth in their work?"

No.

So many questions, so little time.

I promise I'll try to get back sometime this afternoon and respond to as many of these comments as possible.

But you see what I mean when I say I find myself in the middle of two warring extremes, pleading with both to be a little less hostile to the other.

Let's face it: that's not a position I am accustomed to.

Ynottony:

Enough with the cut-and-pastes.

Have you noticed, by the way, that virtually every quotation you have cited qualifies the language in precisely the ways I have argued are necessary? How come you're not writing to Dr. Allen, demanding an explanation of why he ignores those qualifications?

Wiseguy:

Have we met before?

I like you, dude, but you really need to read some of the thoughtful answers that have been given to the arguments you are cranking out.

I'll be back later today to elaborate a little.

donsands said...

"Is he suggesting that if you're not Arminian in your understanding of God's saving purpose, then you are a hyper-Calvinist? It sure sounds like that."

Most Arminians I know, seem to think you need to be a 3-point Calvinist in order to not be a hyper one. Or at the most a four pointer: TUIP. The L is hated to the utmost.

But I am always quick to state all 5 points, or no points, with maybe the exception of the P, yet with a different twist to it. Instead of Perseverance, it's Eternal Security.

This was an incredible post. Phil you are one smart Christian teacher/pastor of God's Word.
Thanks for all your teachings, and for contending for the faith.

Wiseguy said...

Again, I must reiterate, lest I am misrepresented; every person is commanded to repent and believe, and every person has the responsibility to repent and believe. But just because God commands something doesn't mean that it is His desire that they obey, rather His purpose in giving the righteous requirements of the Law was to condemn and harden the wicked that He was pleased to raise up to destroy, for the good of His people and for His glory.

This is basic Romans 5-8. The command was not given because God wanted every person to obey it. It is the revelation of His holy character so that the wicked reprobate would be condemned and hardened by their disobedience, and so that the elect would flee to the Saviour because of their inability to keep its righteous demands.

The only Person that God ever desired to keep all of His commands in every part is Christ Jesus, and it was also His pleasure that in Him we (His people) will also keep God's commands in eternity.

The command of the Gospel (to repent and believe) is two-fold in intention (a savour of life unto life to some, and a savour of death unto death to others), for the elect it is an effectual call to which the respond with volitional faith because the Spirit changed their hearts.

The will is always determined by the heart/nature. In the preaching of the Gospel it is certainly very appropriate to use this language (whosoever will). But the context of Revelation's teaching on sovereign election and reprobation should also be preached in case someone was deceived into thinking that they had saved themselves. Why does that not seem to concern many people?

For the wicked reprobate it is a staggering offense to their pride and unbelief. In them, without the Spirit's work, they are even more hardened by it and may even seek to kill the preacher, such is their hatred for the message. This is all in Acts of course. I didn't make it up.

The word "Come" is also a command. Not only that, but in this case Jesus deliberately limits it to the weary and heavy-laden. The wicked reprobate are not weary and heavy-laden, they love their sin, its only the judgments and devastating consequences they hate. Those born again by the Spirit, hate their sin despite the weakness of their flesh - so they are who Jesus refers to here.

It is in fact the realisation that we cannot fulfil God's commands that leads to repentance, and only the elect will ever believe that (by the Spirit), so only the elect will ever repent. The Law of course does reveal God's goodness and His just and good condemnation of the disobedient.

As for so-called mercy to the reprobate, I would quickly point out Psalm 73. There is no proof that the generation at Nineveh in Jonah's day was not saved. In fact we are told that they repented and God withheld judgment. That tells us that the generation then, did repent, though the city itself in later generations went back.

What the story actually teaches us is that we should not be angry even if the sovereign God chose to redeem our worst enemy, while our own brothers remained in wicked unbelief (as well as a pointer to the eventual fulfillment of the catholicity of the Church).

1 Timothy 2:4. "all men" only means every person (including Judas, antichrist, Esau) if verse 1 is telling us to pray for the dead and those whom 1John 5 tells us not to pray for. It is clearly speaking about all kinds of people, as Calvin also concluded.

Yes, we persuade, try to reconcile with all, appeal etc (but not deceptively suggest that God is offering them something!), because we want God to gather the elect thereby and because God will justly condemn the impenitent thereby - see the end of Romans 12 for example of the result of our love for those who remain in their wickedness. Its not a blessing to them, its a curse. Just as God works all things for our good, He sets their feet in slippery places.

And finally, no Phil, I'm quite sure we haven't met. Hyper-Calvinism is not a denial of a so-called irrational, indefensible "well-meant/sincere offer" (since the reason the Gospel is good news is because it is essentially a promise), it is many things such as a denial of human responsibility or that the Gospel must not be preached promiscuously etc, but it is not that.

There is not a single clear Scripture that teaches that the Gospel is an offer rather than a promise which must be preached with the command to repent and believe. Oh, there's plenty of obscure vague statements that some could try to twist that way, but let's not take the tactic of the Arminians. Read the clear passages first.

It is not "over-systematising", it is simply reading the Scripture as a joined-up unit, the way it is meant to be read for us to really get the most from it without spouting irrational inconsistencies.

God bless all, and may we never grow weary of searching the Scripture! :)

sgtdabney said...

Phil

I's a Presbyterian, former credo-Baptist who still mingles with my Baptist brethren quite a bit. Thank you for the post. You've clarified what you meant and the issues (which I truly don'tthink Dr. Allen gets...or may not be interested in) very well. From listening to his sermon, he seemed to be saying limited atonement=hypercalvinism. In other words, historic Calvinism=hyper-Calvinism. Which is news to me, since I kind of thought it was taught in the London BCF, the WCF and the Canons of Dordt.

By the way, I really enjoyed your presentations at the Truth War Conference in Durham.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Though all analogies break down at some point, Sam Waldron provides a good one for the issue of God requiring something that man cannot do (such as to repent and believe), and holding them responsible for not following that command. Here it is:

A drunk driver is required by law to hold to his side of the road or face dire consequences if he does not, yet he is unable to do so due to his drunken condition. That condition, however, does not release the driver from his obligation to drive on the right side of the road, nor does it absolve him of guilt or punishment for not obeying the law.

God does indeed call everyone everywhere to repent and believe through the outward call of the gospel, yet God is also the One who grants that repentance and faith (through the inward effectual call) to whomever He so chooses, based upon nothing but the mere pleasure of His will.

My question to my Arminian friends here is this: Is what I just put forth considered by you to be hyper-Calvinism?

kiwibyproxy said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the reply.

I understand how busy things can be (especially at the holidays). So take your all the time you need to get back to me (and everyone else for that matter).

To add to it though...

I also noticed your reply to YnottonY.

I think the cut and pastes are an attempt to document the position he is holding as well as the basis for Dr. Allen's claims.

I think Dr. Allen's claims about James White and appealing to your primer for support were also rooted in what Daniel and Murray have stated. It just so happens he referred to your primer because of (I would have to think) its popularity.

Anyway even more food for thought.

Thank you for your time Phil.

Blessings,

Carrie

YnottonY said...

Phil said:

"Have you noticed, by the way, that virtually every quotation you have cited qualifies the language in precisely the ways I have argued are necessary?

Me now:

I don't see in the sources any quibbling over the optative expressions. They use with ease the expressions "wish," "desire," "yearn," etc. I have never seen any of them say, ""Optative expressions like desire and wish **are always problematic** when it comes to describing God's demeanor toward the reprobate." I see John MacArthur boldly saying, "Yet such expressions communicate some truth about God that cannot otherwise be expressed in human language ... God's own Word uses anthropopathisms to convey truth about Him that cannot adequately be represented to us through any other means." None of these men let philosophical theology [or supralapsarian philosophical theologians] hamper their free use of biblical and classical Calvinistic language on the point.

Moreover, you're quite mistaken if you think Mr. White is merely quibbling over the use of such expressions for God's revealed will in the case of the reprobate. He denied that God desires the salvation of anyone who ultimately ends up unsaved, and that **without any qualification** in yesterday's Dividing Line broadcast. It is so very clear that Mr. White sees **no passage** as teaching God's "universal saving will" as Dr. Curt Daniel himself expresses it.

Phil said:

How come you're not writing to Dr. Allen, demanding an explanation of why he ignores those qualifications?

Me now:

Dr. Allen does not ignore the qualifications. Take a look again at his reply to critics:

"...the actual basis of my charge was that White denies that *in any sense* does God desire the salvation of all *by God’s revealed will*."

See it yet, Phil?

"Johnson, against the hyper-Calvinist tendency to blur the distinction between the secret will and the revealed will of God, appeals to John Piper who affirms the necessity of both within the Calvinistic system (**with the latter aspect including a saving desire for all men**)."

See it there, Phil?

The "latter aspect" is pointing back to "the revealed will of God" in Piper's theology, and Dr. Allen noted that careful distinction in his reply.

Dr. Allen rightly said:

"James White denies God’s **universal saving will**; namely, that God wills and desires to save the non-elect."

"I, therefore dispute that, with regard to Mr. White’s denial of a universal saving will for the salvation of all men, that this is just a matter of semantics."

Dr. Allen employs terms used by Dr. Curt Daniel himself when he says "universal saving will." He's not packing that with the notion that God *equally* wills all men, as you falsely charge. He carefully contrasted Mr. White *with Dr. Ascol's teaching* [in addition to John Murray and John Piper], and not with any Arminian. Therefore it is totally incorrect to suppose that he's loading the concept of God's "universal saving will" with "Arminian freight."

He is also right to see Mr. White's denial as something more than mere semantics. Mr. White is not merely complaining about terminology such as "wish" and "desire." He's distancing himself **from the very concept** of God willing, wishing, desiring, seeking, or yearning for the salvation of any who are non-elect.

Dr. Allen is exactly right when he said:

"The grounds for the charge have not yet been addressed by James White. Therefore, with respect to my blogger critics on this issue, I stand by my statement."

"Again, the actual basis of my charge was that White denies that in any sense does God desire the salvation of all **by God’s revealed will**. White did not answer the actual grounds of my charge in his replies. Rather, he evasively changed the basis of my charge, creating a straw man argument which he then sought to refute."

White hasn't come out and affirmed that God wills the salvation of all men *in his revealed will*. In fact, in his exchange with Jason, he knew that he was not taking the position of John Murray. Jason (a fellow Calvinist) specifically and precisely asked Mr. White this, "Does God offer Christ, salvation or mercy to the non-elect, and does he **in any sense** will their salvation?” The substance of his response was clearly "no," with respect to God's will for the salvation of the non-elect. Mr. White has been given every opportunity to clarify as to whether or not there is "any sense" in which God wills the salvation of any of the non-elect. Jason understood White's denial that God wills their salvation "in any sense", hence his comment, "Would you say though that you've perhaps placed yourself in a minority among Calvinists for taking that stance?" Mr. White astonishingly said "no, not at all."

Note also that Iain Murray said, "Of course, Hyper-Calvinists accepted that the gospel be preached to all, but they denied that such preaching was intended to demonstrate any love on the part of God for all..." Dr. Curt Daniel says the same thing in Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill, p. 448-449. This "preaching to all" is the reason why Dr. Allen said Mr. White "evasively changed the basis of my charge, creating a straw man argument which he then sought to refute." Dr. Allen never made the accusation that Mr. White does not preach to all. Dr. Allen is not using David Engelsma's false definition of hyper-Calvinism, unlike Mr. White and countless Calvinistic bloggers. The actual basis of his charge was that White denies that in any sense does God desire the salvation of all **by God’s revealed will**.

How come you're not writing to Mr. White, demanding an explanation of why he ignores those qualifications?

YnottonY said...

sgtdabney said:

"From listening to his [Dr. Allen's] sermon, he seemed to be saying limited atonement=hypercalvinism. In other words, historic Calvinism=hyper-Calvinism."

This is 100% false. You may want to invest in a jumbo supply of Q-tips from Walmart.

Chad V. said...

YnottonY

I have a brilliant idea. Call James White and gripe to him your self.

1-877-753-3341

donsands said...

"Would you say though that you've perhaps placed yourself in a minority among Calvinists for taking that stance?" Mr. White astonishingly said "no, not at all." -tony



"There may be points on which James White and I would differ on how to explain and defend Calvinism. He seems to be a higher sort of Calvinist than I am. That doesn't make him "hyper." -phil

Seems Dr. White believes that God loves His elect children alone, and those who are not the elect God hates.

I remember James White teaching when Jesus wept over Jerusalem, that he wasn't weeping for the Pharisees, and unbelieving Jews, but for those who would believe.
I always thought that forcing the text a bit.
Having said that, Dr. White is no way a hyper Calvinist in my way of seeing hyper Calvinism, or ultra-Calvinism.

Chad V. said...

Listening to the Dividing Line now while eating lunch. Listening to Dr. Allen spout is giving me an ulcer. Ugh!!!

Where's the pepto...

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Does God love the vessels of wrath that were prepared for destruction before the foundation of the world?

witness said...

I have a better question, does God's love for the vessels of wrath require God's will to save them?

John said...

DJP - could you fix the links? I noticed a few were not linked up. In my experience, which is small, Turk is dead on. It is amazing to me that SBCers would attack men like White who preach the gospel, and let men like Ed Young get a free pass. This is a glaring revelation of priority.

Chris said...

WOW...heavy-hitting today! It's a regular graduate seminar on Calvinism, and now I can see why I have been a "CC" (Cloudy Calvinist) all these years--A Calvinist for sure, as opposed to an Arminian, but "what kind" is unanswerable at the moment.

This post has just unraveleled the last two years of progress I thought I was making in my understanding of this volatile landscape--and where, precisely, I reside on the map. Kinda like "google earth," I was really starting to zoom in there and notice neighborhoods and maybe even my exact home; however, this post has zoomed me right back out to level of continents and oceans I'm afraid. It's not that it wasn't clearly explained Phil, as you are one of the most precise communicators I know! It's simply a matter of trying: a) to grasp all of the particulars to all the stages along this range of positions within the camp, and b) to determine how God would have us--all of us--handle this matter, as God is a God of clarity and not of confusion. While I know that those who have a disdain for any/all doctrine in general likewise plea, erroneously, for clarity over confusion (i.e. "can't we all just get along") on every matter of doctrinal disagreement they encounter, it seems as though such a plea is necessary regarding this particular subject. It seems as though it cannot escape sowing seeds of confusion for all parties involved. God is indeed a God of clarity, yet also of mystery for all of us on this side of eternity; concerning the latter, which is where I believe so much of this debate resides, wouldn't the Lord have us to simply trust the unknowables and cling to our belief in His sovereignty? It would be one thing if only laypeople like myself were confused on the matter, but this topic seems to push everyone's critical thinking ability out to the furthest edge, and generate new, complex questions/issues with every step.

For today and tomorrow, I'm going to embrace the absolute sovereignty of God in all matters of life(accepting whatever label that position ascribes to me), and give thanks to our Lord for that. On Friday, I'll begin building-up my "lego" tower of my exact, precise position on Calvinism once again after I clean up all the pieces that were scattered on the proverbial floor as a result of today's, varsity-level wrestling match in some 60 comments thus far!

DJP said...

JohnDJP - could you fix the links?

Unngh? Me? I only found one bad link, and I don't know the right link. I found Sword & Trowel; I found a Phil article in 2002 — but it isn't about Calvinism.

So, sorry, I'm reluctant to mess with Phil's code without knowing just what he meant.

MarieP said...

The TurkMeister said:

"My problem is with a merely-systematic view of Scripture which frankly overlooks massive tracts of narrative and the propositions they produce."

Bingo! As my pastor says, "let the text have its voice."

Andrew said...

Wow I have to admit... I have not read this blog a lot, but I usually enjoy reading the stuff that is centered around something substantial. I am a little bit taken aback by what "someone said" WHO CARES... If you are doing what God has called you to do and are correctly interpreting The Bible it does not matter what others say... more of a waste of time to go on like this?

rebecca said...

I only found one bad link

It isn't really bad. We may be overloading the server or something. If you get the error page, try reloading. When I do that, I get the article.

NoLongerBlind said...

Just my $.02 re: the gospel being a command vs. an offer:

1Thessalonians 1:7(b)-8 "when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus."

Chris said...

Andrew,
who is "someone" or "someone said"???

YnottonY said...

Today, Mr. White said:

"I would be more on the Reymond side than the Murray side, for example, and I am for a pretty obvious reason, I hope."

Robert Reymond, in his New Systematic Theology, thinks that John Murray's theological trajectory and "reasoning imputes irrationality to God, and the passages upon which Murray relies for his conclusions can all be legitimately interpreted in such a way that the Christian is not forced to impute such irrationality to God. For these other interpretations I would refer the reader to John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Sovereign Grace, 1971), 4-6, 22-26, 28, 62."

Reymond CLEARLY denies that there is any sense that God desires to save all men in his revealed will, and Mr. White is siding with him. Also, note Robert Reymond appeal to Gill on the subject of God's will!

Can you see it now, Phil?

Phil Johnson said...

==================================
OK, I have an hour or so fairly free this afternoon, so I'll try to answer some of the above comments. I'll start at the top and work my way down.

Ynottony: "These sources are saying that a denial of God's universal saving desire, wish or will constitutes a main component of hyper-Calvinism. How do you read them? Do you agree? Disagree? Why?"

I take them in context, pay attention to what those authors deny as well as what they affirm, consider what specific errors they were addressing, and understand them in that light. Therefore while I agree with the positions all those authors take, I'm also quite certain that they would not put the hard Arminian spin on those words--or view issues in the same simplistic sense--that you evidently do.

I'll follow this post up with a more thorough explanation of why optative language is problematic when we try to use it to explain the mind of God, so watch for that. Meanwhile notice: I never said such language has no place, nor did I say I never use it, period. What I said was that I try not to use it without taking time to explain the difficulties it poses.

You, on the other hand, seem prepared automatically to dismiss everyone who recognizes the difficulties with such language as a "hyper-Calvinist." That kind of argumentation--usually coming from people who evidence little real understanding with the issues--is precisely what makes the whole discussion so distasteful to so many.

Harsh polemics have their place, and (as all regular Pyro readers know) I have no objection to unmasking wolves in sheep's clothing. But painting a sheep gray and calling him a wolf is not the same thing--especially when your "wolf" is someone who is constantly engaged in clear and vigorous gospel ministry, who really cares about sound theology, who truly hates error. It's especially despicable when the SBC is full of pragmatists and cynics who think putting a bed on the platform and lecturing about sex is what's needed to reach the current generation for Christ. Calvinists--even hyper-Calvinists--are not the most pressing problem in the SBC. Not even close. The old-guard Arminians in the SBC had better wake up and get their own house in order.

steve said...

Seems to me some of the commenters above have missed the point of the post: Allen has flat-out misrepresented Phil's material, and Phil has explained with great precision how that misrepresentation has occurred.

Yet some tangential commenters are shooting up the joint merely to be polemic. It's unfortunate they are unable to take a post at its face value.

Thanks, Phil, for taking the time to write such an articulate post. I benefited greatly from it.

Solameanie said...

Phil,

Not to take you away from the more pressing replies needed, but I am curious about your take on this question. What do you suppose is really behind this renewed assault on Calvinism or the Doctrines of Grace? Earlier, I blamed Dave Hunt for sparking this latest go-around, but I think that's really too simplistic. It's been brewing longer than that.

Wiseguy said...

"Calvinists--even hyper-Calvinists--are not the most pressing problem in the SBC. Not even close. The old-guard Arminians in the SBC had better wake up and get their own house in order."

Amen! Praise God for what He is doing through men like James White and Paul Washer (whom we have probably all heard say to teenagers that "God can only love those are in Christ" - to which all Calvinists with any understanding of theology ought to agree without a moment's thought on the nature of the covenant) for the defence of the Gospel.

And yes, the Gospel is a command, because our God is mighty to save, and He is not simply knocking on a door hoping for a response; He says, "Let there be light!" and there is light (Eph 5:14, 2 Ti 1:10, 2 Co 4:3-7). And unless that command is worked in us by the Spirit it can only condemn us a disobedient (1 Pe 2:7-9). God doesn't do offers. He gives, or He doesn't give. He does wait for a dead man to respond.

Barbara said...

I have another passage, a better one, I think:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

And this one: Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.-atthew 18:4

And this one: Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.- Matthew 19:14

And this one: Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." - Mark 10:15

If we are Christians, then we are Christians and brothers first - and if we're not brothers/sister to someone then we're still their neighbors. We belong to Christ. How dare we bicker about how such a blessed thing came to be. We want to understand, sure, and so we seek to do so. But when it turns into a p***ing contest there are serious issues at play, issues of pride. And God hates a proud heart. It is abominable to him and there is NO counter argument to that point to be found anywhere in Scripture. Our commission is simple: Preach the Gospel - proclaiming repentance for the remission of sins according to Luke, not a sales pitch, not an offer - and then disciple people according to Scripture, loving and caring for and praying for each other and for our neighbor. Bickering is counterproductive and lousy stewardship of time and energies, plus it flies in the face of Paul's admonition to the Phillipians regarding what they should be keeping their minds on. It is also a sound opportunity to remind us to examine ourselves according to Scripture to ensure that we are indeed actually in the faith and have Christ's life within us or whether we're slowly slipping away - 'cause if we're too busy trying to be "right" that's a BIG indicator for us to get back on our knees and ask God to remind us of HIS priorities instead of our own.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, y'all.

YnottonY said...

Phil said:

"I'm also quite certain that they would not put the hard Arminian spin on those words--or view issues in the same simplistic sense--that you evidently do."

Me now:

I'm not putting an "Arminian spin on those words." Nothing I have said above would even entail that. Further, I am a Calvinist of the Musculus, Davenant, Martinius Culverwell school of thought when it comes to soteriology. I am thoroughly aware of how the terms have been historically used, and I am aware of how the sources are using them, particularly Iain Murray and Dr. Curt Daniel. I have spoken with Dr. Daniel at length by phone concerning God's revealed will and his willingness to save all me. So, I can only conclude that you're creating a straw man.

Phil said:

"Meanwhile notice: I never said such language has no place, nor did I say I never use it, period. What I said was that I try not to use it without taking time to explain the difficulties it poses."

Me now:

I never said that you think such language has no place, or that you never use it. Review my above statements to see that I never misrepresented you in that way. I quoted you as saying it is "always problematic." You also said that you seek to avoid using such language unless you have time to explain. That's fine. However, I don't see such a hesitation in John MacArthur's use of those terms in his book, or in the writings of the Reformers and Puritans. We all know very well that all the language in scripture and theology is necessarily anthropopathic, and therefore not univocal to God's thoughts. So, in that sense they are "problematic," but no more problematic than language concerning God's "anger" toward sinners, or our "grieving" His Spirit. If we don't have such hesitation in talking about God's anger toward people, why do we have the hesitation to speak of God "desiring" or "wishing" the salvation of the reprobate? MacArthur says there is no other adequate way to express such truth to human minds.

Phil said:

"You, on the other hand, seem prepared automatically to dismiss everyone who recognizes the difficulties with such language as a "hyper-Calvinist."

Me now:

That's a straw man, Phil. Have I ever suggested or implied that you were a hyper-Calvinist for merely recognizing difficulties in such language? No, not ever. This comment is just not fair at all, Phil. I am quoting Iain Murray and his references to Spurgeon above. I consider you to be in Spurgeon's theological trajectory, so I would never even suggest or imply that you're a hyper-Calvinist.

Phil Johnson said...

Wiseguy: "It seems to me that your defence against the militant Arminians would be greatly strengthened if only your Calvinist stance was more consistent."

There's nothing I'm more concerned about than consistency. Not merely internal consistency with a particular theological system or 17th-century confession of faith, but consistency with all of Scripture.

I've read all of Gordon Clark's stuff, too, Wiseguy. And I sympathise with your contempt for evangelicals' incessant appeals to "paradox." You won't ever hear me using that as an argument.

However, I don't think Gordon Clark's own unique brand of über-high Calvinism was consistent with Scripture or even as consistent with his own philosophy as he imagined. John Robbins (bless him) managed unwittingly to demonstrate that, by pressing Clark's epistemological quirks to ridiculously "consistent" extremes.

If "consistency" is achieved by explaining away the plain sense of Scriptures that challenge our opinions, what good is that kind of consistency? For some people, "consistency" means we have to interpret God's common-grace compassion for the reprobate as nothing more than a veiled kind of sheer hatred, turning the plain meaning of countless texts on their heads. I'm not interested in the hermeneutics of that kind of "consistency."

See: I don't believe truth ever contradicts itself. So we agree on that. However, I think it's actually easier (and better) to achieve a contradiction-free understanding Scripture if you're not bound by the constraints of PRC-style notions of orthodoxy. I also think it is possible to understand and sufficiently reconcile everything Scripture says about the will and the sovereignty of God without putting myself in the nosebleed section of the Calvinist choir loft.

So I'll tell you what: when you hear me making the "paradox" argument to justify he well-meant offer of salvation, then you can start quoting Clarkisms and using Hoekseman arguments in the meta here. Between now and then, I think if you'll make a real effort to understand what I am saying, I think you might find some legitimate challenges to your airtight system.

YnottonY said...

Incidentally, Phil, I think the discussion over the difficulties involving optative expressions is beside the point (a red herring). The simple matter of fact is that James White has no category for thinking that God in any sense wills, wishes, wants, or desires the salvation of any of the non-elect. In his view, God is simply uninterested in the ultimate well-being of any of the non-elect.

Dr. Allen was totally correct in pointing that out. The only remaining question is if Mr. White's position is properly and historically categorized as hyper-Calvinism.

Clearly you don't think that your Primer entails that, so Dr. Allen should not have appealed to it. So, we'll just drop all appeals to your Primer, since it's not making any point whatsoever about God's will or desire to save any of the reprobate in his revealed will. Instead of appealing to your Primer, we'll just appeal to the formal writings of Iain Murray and Curt Daniel. They make the point sufficiently clear.

Wiseguy said...

I glad to hear that, but its not news. The problem is that you claim that your view is consistent, while I disagree, as I explained (my "Clarkian" comments were mainly for others who had posted). And I want to reiterate that I have great respect for you.

My argument wasn't that you were claiming your view was paradoxical, rather, that I think it is and the Arminians can see that as well as me. I think that the reason "well-meant offer" people often don't preach sovereign election and reprobation to everyone (like Jesus and the apostles did) is because people would find their convoluted explanations of how God supposedly loves those whom He does not will to save thoroughly inadequate and occasionally bordering on ridiculous.

Now the Gospel is incomprehensible to fallen man, and offensive to fallen man, but not in these ways. The reason is that if love is not translated into action it is not really love, it is an insulting facade.

But I tell people that everyone who will believe is loved by God, so much that He will save them to the uttermost and that He sent His Son to purchase their full redemption and that this is why they believe while another does not. And this is not hyper-Calvinism, unless James White is a hyper-Calvinist, and Augustine, and Calvin, and many, many, more.

So, again honestly, respectfully, and lovingly, trying to be helpful, because I would love to see things improve in the SBC, the defence of Calvinism would be greatly improved if a more consistent view in this regard was held.

Michael said...

Not that this comment will in any way fall into the category of most of the posts in this thread, but I have come to believe that God DOES show his love to everyone...even the non-elect, in the following way.

While all the non-elect will suffer in Hell eventually (actually, the Lake of Fire), isn't the Bible clear that not everyone will be punished to the same extent (Luke 12:47-48)?

Since God works ALL things according to the counsel of His will, doesn't He (daily) prevent the non-elect from being as bad as they could be, thereby lessening their eternal punishment?

farmboy said...

YnottonY offers "Clearly you don't think that your Primer entails that, so Dr. Allen should not have appealed to it. So, we'll just drop all appeals to your Primer..." evidencing that he finally understands the reason for Mr. Johnson's post.

The purpose of Mr. Johnson's post was not to critique Mr. White's theology. The purpose of Mr. Johnson's post was not to delve into the finer points of reformed theology. No, the purpose of Mr. Johnson's post was to once again demonstrate that Mr. Allen improperly used Mr. Johnson's primer in his (Mr. Allen's) critique of Mr. White's theology.

So, the rabbit trail (or red herring, if you prefer) in this comment stream has consisted of a debate of the finer points of reformed theology. That Mr. Johnson has been kind enough to humor those chasing this rabbit (or herring, if you prefer) does not change this fact. Those that want to engage in such sport on a regular basis know where to find YnottonY's blog.

As for me, I'll continue to frequent Mr. Johnson's and Mr. White's blogs.

Solameanie said...

I'll try to answer my own question to Phil at the risk of sounding like I'm judging motivations. I prolly shouldn't have mentioned names like Dave Hunt because I really don't want a personality war. I thought of him because he's been so vocal about this issue in recent years.

I tend to think a lot of this anger at Calvinism stems from plain old human pride down at the base level. I say that as a former Arminian. It's just so hard for us to admit that our own good works play NO role in our salvation. Most Arminians would go to war if someone came right out and said they believed in works-salvation, and rightly so. However, in practice Arminian belief seems to come very near to that.

When I first began wrestling with this issue in the early 80s, Romans 9 was very hard for me because it seemed so unfair on a human level. But when you understand the depth of human depravity, and the fact that we deserve NOTHING but wrath and condemnation, it's not so hard to accept.

If it depends on me to keep myself saved, I am in a world of trouble.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"I tend to think a lot of this anger at Calvinism stems from plain old human pride down at the base level.... Most Arminians would go to war if someone came right out and said they believed in works-salvation, and rightly so. However, in practice Arminian belief seems to come very near to that."

Sola, no true Arminian gets anywhere near "works" salvation. None ever argue for meriting anything, which is what "works" means in Scripture.

And any "anger" (if you want to call it that) stems not from pride, IMO, but from believing that at its base, especially re: Limited Atonement, Calvinism is a slap at the character of God.

Of course, Calvinists see a slap at "sovereignty" coming from the Arminian camp. But that's another trail...

Lockheed said...

Why does anyone allow ynottony to post on their blogs anyway?

Solameanie said...

Johnny,

What else can you call it when Arminians (at least many with whom I converse) place so much emphasis on their own works (or obedience?) determining whether they "make it" to heaven or not?

I am sure that the debate has a higher intellectual level than that among academics, but on the street level that seems to be where it boils down. I ask them if they have assurance of salvation and they generally reply, "I hope so."

As an aside, the angriest among the Calvinists will throw the "Pelagian" or "Semi-Palagian" charge at the Arminian, and receive howls of protest in return. The back and forth ends up generating a lot more heat than light.

On a Calvinist level, it's not trusting in our own obedience as much as it is trusting in Him who promised to complete the work He began in us. He gets the glory even for our obedience.

Kevin Stilley said...

All of this stuff sure does make me glad that I don't know any Southern Baptists...

donsands said...

"I also think it is possible to understand and sufficiently reconcile everything Scripture says about the will and the sovereignty of God without putting myself in the nosebleed section of the Calvinist choir loft." -Phil

I like that quote. By the way thanks for the CD's on the Unpardonable Sin. My partner has been listening to them, and he has been very blessed and edified.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and grace and peace to you and the Family.
And to the the other two amigos of Teampyro also, Happy Thanksgiving.

Solameanie said...

I should note for the record, I understand there is much more to this issue than just the notion of eternal security or perseverance of the saints. You can have a good knock down, drag out on any of the five points. However in my experience, the points involving perseverance of the saints and unconditional election are the ones that raise the most ire.

Phil Johnson said...

Ynottony: "Clearly you don't think that your Primer entails that, so Dr. Allen should not have appealed to it. So, we'll just drop all appeals to your Primer, since it's not making any point whatsoever about God's will or desire to save any of the reprobate in his revealed will. Instead of appealing to your Primer, we'll just appeal to the formal writings of Iain Murray and Curt Daniel. They make the point sufficiently clear."

Well, if you have learned your lesson, you should first ask Curt and Iain if they agree with such a judgment. I know them both. I've discussed hyper-Calvinism with them both at length. And I would be quite surprised if either one of them would say they think it's fair to classify someone as a "hyper-Calvinist" who has devoted his life to evangelistic and apologetic work merely because that person balks at using optative expressions in the way you keep employing them.

My question for you is this: do you believe God's will for the salvation of the elect differs in any way from His "desire" for the repentance of the reprobate? In other words, is there any aspect of God's "desire" for the salvation of the elect that is absent from His demeanor toward the reprobate? Is this "universal saving will" you speak of equal in all respects toward all men? Did God "desire" the salvation of Judas in every sense and to exactly the same degree that He sought the salvation of that thief on the cross?

Quincy A. Jones (a.k.a. Q of ChristCentric) said...

Phil,

Thanks for the careful post and for your "middle ground" Calvinism (as well as your desire for biblical consistency).

Though, I believe Dr. Allen may be using (and hoping for) a divide and conquer approach...I think it is necessary, as Calvinism is on the rise, for us to have these kinds of discussions (i.e., what insued in the 80+ comments - particularly your dialogue with Wiseguy). It only hurts the fidelity of contemporary Calvinism and a diservice to the doctrines of grace if we ourselves are not showing a consistent concern for a careful theological and biblical articulation of them (or if we begin to assume them).

Pray for us 5PC's at Southwestern...(yes, folks we do exist!), particularly that we will be able to have an open forum in regards to the doctrines of grace where we can emphasize biblical consistency and academic integrity.

Look forward to seeing you again at the Sola Conference in Feb...

Jude 2-3,

Quincy

Phil Johnson said...

Wiseguy: "My argument wasn't that you were claiming your view was paradoxical, rather, that I think it is and the Arminians can see that as well as me."

If I were you, I would be troubled to find myself sharing Arminian presuppositions.

Quincy:

Thanks.

Phil Johnson said...

Ynottony: "Given what Dr. MacArthur says, how could you say, "Optative expressions like desire and wish are always problematic when it comes to describing God's demeanor toward the reprobate"?"

Did you notice that in the quotation you gave, Dr. MacArthur noted that such optative expressions are anthropopathic? Is that not precisely what I said?

Interpreting them accurately is problematic because they are anthropopathic. That's why MacArthur wrote a book on the topic. If you would read it thoughtfully and thoroughly instead of selectively quoting it, you might see that he and I hold the same position.

Solameanie said...

Another question.

Am I correct in saying that one of the hallmarks of hyper-Calvinism is to say that one does not need to preach the Gospel, because the elect will come to saving faith regardless? Or is that a distortion?

dac said...

Sola

That is (to me) the sine quo non of hyper calvinism

David

Russ said...

It seems clear that at least part of the reason White and Allen and company are so irate seems due to the usual addiction transference demanding the other party's guilt, forgetting that if I point the finger at my brother there are three pointing back at me and the big one up to the Big God to call down judgment. Oops! Sadly I've seen this all too painfully close in my own family with my divorced and remarried sister blaming her ex-husband as the sole blameworthy party, totally blind to 1 John 1:10 and trying to get me to join in blaming him (even though he was clearly largely to blame as a false professor "christian"), willfully blind to her own sin. Sadly former pastors have done the same thing and I have the footprints on my backside to prove it!

While Allen clearly started the sin, James White is alas not guiltless in that for all Allen's evils, White is no less guilty in his violation of the clear teaching of the Scripture he claims to uphold by his refusing as the injured party the Matthew 18 requirement to go to Allen (even if just by phone) and at least ATTEMPT to address the matter. Notice I said address, not resolve, something clearly only possible without incredible divine intervention at this stage, far more unlikely than it was for the apparently far greater agreement of Luther and Zwingli as they disputed the Eucharist.
than is the case for Allen and White who do not appear to worship the same God as much as Allen's god clearly has no free will to do anything but what Allen tells him to do, whether in desire or anything, ironically making him indistinguishable from the so-called "hyper-calvinists" he pretends to dislike because they've made themselves God in replacing God with their own antiBiblical notions re election like he does, his real rage being the result of looking in the mirror and hating what he sees without recognizing it's him. I wish I could say I were different, God help me and all of us, as 1 John 1:10 makes terribly clear.
God help us, for only He is able or worthy.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"What else can you call it when Arminians (at least many with whom I converse) place so much emphasis on their own works (or obedience?) determining whether they "make it" to heaven or not? "

Sola, I don't know any Arminians like that. Can you provide some quotes from leaders, theologians?

I don't know with whom you converse, but your anecdotal characterization does not comport with true Arminian theology.

I will allow that there are some bad teachers out there, but that cuts across all lines. What you propose, above, I would fight as well.

Russ said...

I was just listening to Allen's John 3:16 spiel on the 11/25 www.aomin.org Dividing Line and the great irony of his manifestly deranged and nonsensical blather foaming at the mouth with falsehood after falsehood is his dishonest pretense that only "calvinists" have limited atonement, carefully covering up the dirty little synergist secret that EVERYONE limits the atonement, either in EXTENT, as monergists do Biblically, or in EFFICACY as Allen does in his Arminius idolatry (while hypocritically condemning Calvinists for following Calvin (something I as a staunch 1 Corinthians 1:12 monergist wish they'd not do)) without admitting it and then insanely claiming to care about SBC evangelism when all he has to offer is an incompetent Savior Whose atonement is not efficacious for all since those who are lost didn't help Him out. As James White says after Allen's spiel, the real thing Allen and synergists HATE is monergists daring to say that God has free will, something they must insanely demand only pertains to the creature, not the Creator Who Alone Is Blessed forever. Now if that's not idolatry (even if unwitting)! God save us!

Russ said...

As White showed on the 11/25 Dividing Line, Allen and his crowd are really running scared because there's no way for their eisegetical synergist house of man's cards to withstand the force of the light of monergist exegesis of God's Perfect Word, so they must blow smoke and flash mirrors lest their fools wake up and smell the coffee, the bracing invigoration of God's Perfect Word. Allen must have a monologue because he can't defend his position exegetically and he knows it. The SBC Emperor has no clothes, naked as a jaybird, a sad fraud of self-righteous self-deception incapable of taking 1 John 1:10 seriously. God help us.

Solameanie said...

I can't give you quotes at the moment from Arminian theologians. I'd have to go re-read, and to be honest, I haven't spent a lot of time in recent years reading Arminian theology. As I said, these are people I run into and chat with from time to time, not Ivory Tower types.

Regardless, you can say it's not representative of Arminian theology or a caricature, and in some ways it might be. However I think it works out that way in practice when you follow Arminian positions out to their logical conclusions.

Can you lose your salvation, or can't you? If you can lose your salvation, how do you keep it? Do you keep yourself saved or does God keep you saved? How you answer those questions shines the light on a lot of things, at least for me.

One final point then off to bed. This has been argued for generations, and I doubt the issue will be resolved in this meta.

Happy Thanksgiving.

GeneMBridges said...


Robert Reymond, in his New Systematic Theology, thinks that John Murray's theological trajectory and "reasoning imputes irrationality to God, and the passages upon which Murray relies for his conclusions can all be legitimately interpreted in such a way that the Christian is not forced to impute such irrationality to God. For these other interpretations I would refer the reader to John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Sovereign Grace, 1971), 4-6, 22-26, 28, 62."

Reymond CLEARLY denies that there is any sense that God desires to save all men in his revealed will, and Mr. White is siding with him. Also, note Robert Reymond appeal to Gill on the subject of God's will!


I do believe Dr. Reymond would also state the Dr. Gill is not his rule of faith. Indeed, Dr. Reymond would be very careful, as he generally is in his body of work to exegetically defend his views if challenged.

For example, with respect to a text like Ezekiel 33:11, Dr. Reymond would differ with Murray, not on the basis what some high Calvinist stated. Rather, he would present an exegetical defense of His position.

Dr. Reymond, I do believe, would point out problems with Murray that Phil has cited with the sort of optative language. For example:

Deut 5:29; 32:29; Ps 81:13ff.; Isa 48:18.

Here Murray does two things: he ascribes emotions to God, and what is more, he ascribes unrequited emotions to God.

In fairness, this attribution lies of the face of the verses cited. They don't demand that we delve below the surface meaning of the words. They say what they say, and that's that. No far, so good. However, pay attention: Murray leaves out of account the larger issues of hyperbole, literary genre, and idiomatic usage - and that's one problem with the language of God "desires" that comes to mind when Phil points it out.

And Dr. Reymond would point to the most obvious flaw in Dr. Murray's exegesis of Ezekiel 33, one that seems to me to flow directly from the problem above...because Murray seems to attribute human emotions to God without qualifications, he takes the words in a more general way than the text directly indicates. Dr. Reymond, because his rule of faith is Scripture, would exegete the text, I think, in relation to the original audience. They are addressed to backslidden Israel. Israel does not stand for humanity in general. In fact, what makes Israel apostate is when she merges with her heathen neighbors. She is called to be distinct—a people set apart. To lift these verses out of their covenant context, as though anything said of the covenant community is applicable to those outside the covenant community, is a remarkably careless equation for a Reformed theologian like Murray. Ergo, it doesn't follow that the sentiments therein expressed are indefinitely extendible to those to whom the letter was not addressed.

Now you may disagree...and that's fine and dandy. But the point still stands, as I've read Dr. Reymond enough to know that he doesn't cite Gill or anybody else without already having his own exegetical defense. Argue with Reymond exegetically rather than seeking to intentionally tar him in a pejorative fashion with a term because he sides with Gill.

Indeed, such a defense strikes me as the polar opposite of your defense of your position on a repeated basis. You rarely offer an exegetical response, you take us down Historical Theology Lane. Historical Theology is not our rule of faith. That's the Catholic rule of faith.

Further as I recall, you've expressed very plainly to me and Turretinfan that any position that differs from yours insults the love of God (an ethical, not an exegetical argumet) and that saying the command impels the Gospel is sufficient to do universal, indiscriminate evangelism is not sufficient reason to do so (a comment for which you provided not a single exegetical argument).

Indeed, I'll say this yet again, if you really believe what you believe, why aren't you using your blog like the rest of us - to evangelize the Romanist, the Atheist, the Orthodox, and so on? Dr. White is right - while you guys wag your fingers at some of us, your actions undercut your words.

Indeed, this entire conversation should have ended when the author of the very primer which Dr. Allen attempted to use publicly interpreted his own words - and was promptly challenged on his own interpretation of his own words. That's what you get when you make historical theology your rule of faith. It's one thing to quote (and misinterpret) a dead author, but when a living author corrects you and you still disagree - well all that says is that somebody is impervious to correction.

And this strikes me, in a wider sense, as a HUGE problem in this discussion in the SBC. Indeed, it patently obvious that many at SWBTS in particular and the SBC generally (for example the IMB) are verging further and further toward ecclesiolatry. They aren't concerned with what is true qua true, they are concerned with "Baptist Identity." So, their "hatred" of Calvinism that's expressed is also part of their distaste for Presbyterianism. Indeed, Calvinism leads to Paedobaptistm and then Presbyterianism seems to be a common undercurrent in these proceedings. That notion even showed up at the conference. Is there some sort of script that gets passed around the SBC? Apparently so. Which is a greater distraction from evangelizing the lost: (A) a breed of Calvinism higher than Phil's but lower than John Brine's or (B) ecclesiolatry?

Stefan said...

So, wait...I thought Hypercalvinists were just Calvinists who were hopped up on Jolt Cola. I should not have lapsed so inferiorly, and read Phil's article a little more closely.

Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week.

This is meant without any disrespect for any the serious discussion that has ensued today, but I've had a long, difficult day at work, and plum missed this whole spectacle.

Frank, Phil, Doug, and Barbara said everything I might have wanted to say, and better than I could have said.

Soli Deo gloria.

PuritanReformed said...

I am still waiting for Tony Byrne to respond to my refutation of his misquotation of Reformed and Puritan primary sources.

As an aside, maybe it would help to differentiate between the "Free Offer" and the "Well-meant offer", to affirm the former while denying the latter? 'Free offer' = God's [preceptive] desire that the world corporately come to repentance and be saved, while 'Well-meant offer' = God's desire that every single person individually be saved. C. Matthew McMahon in his book The Two Wills of God is also a helpful book in understanding this topic.

Stefan said...

Re my last comment:

I mean, some reconciliation of what Frank and Phil wrote on the one hand, and what Doug and Barbara wrote on the other hand.

Stefan said...

And I mean Phil Johnson, not Phil Not-Johnson.

Phil Johnson said...

Gene Bridges:

Exactly. Thank you.

James White also posted an item today that absolutely nailed the hypocrisy of some of his more vocal critics.

ajlin said...

Phil Johnson:

Thank you for taking a few sentences to defend my effort at live-blogging. I did not even know that my blogging of this conference had been attacked until I read your post. Peter Lumpkins did not leave a comment on Challies' blog, nor has he tried to contact me in any other way, to my knowledge. If he would do so and would actually demonstrate any errors in my blogging, I would be glad to correct what I have written. My goal in blogging on Challies.com was simply to give readers an accurate sense of what was being said at the conference; as yet, I have not offered very little analysis and no argument concerning claims made at the John 3:16 Conference.

BTW- Now that you've listened to Dr. Allen's sermon, you heard him mention a seminary student who emailed him concerning his earlier presentation on Limited atonement; that student was me, and the email I sent him directed him to the article that I wrote HERE.

(For anyone who may be interested, over the next few days, I plan to respond to what I heard at the John 3:16 Conference on http://strangebaptistfire.wordpress.com/).

"With that, I am..." :)

Andrew Lindsey

Wiseguy said...

"If I were you, I would be troubled to find myself sharing Arminian presuppositions like those."

The Arminians and I also usually agree on the Trinity, and that doesn't trouble me.

But you have my apologies if I offended you with my suggestion and my view-point. And thank you for the carefully written and thought-provoking post. Keep up the good work.

Rick Frueh said...

"God loves men -- and the offer of the Gospel is an offer of love, plain and simple."

It is not an offer if the offer is not in fact "offered", as in the case of the non-elect. If we preach the gospel to a rock is that an offer of love as well since the rock is in the same category of fallen creation that is not included in God's redemptive plan? James says that if we say "be warmed and filled" but do not provide those things that will warm and fill it is worthless. So to preach the gospel to a deaf man (much less a dead man) is an insincere presentation especially when the Spirit Himself knows the words not only cannot be heard (spiritually), but that the "believe the gospel and be saved" offer does not include the non-elect.

God does not love the non-elect since His love is always redemptive.

Daryl said...

Rick,

Not meaning to start another bunny trail here, but who says God's love is always redemptive? And who says his love for one is exactly equivalent with his love for another?

Can he not love the elect savingly and the no-elect non-savingly?

dac said...

Sola

God does not love the non-elect since His love is always redemptive.

While that comment is not the sine qou non of hypercalvinism, it is close.

Like all theology that goes off the rails, it is when we let our theology form our understanding of the bible, rather then letting the bible form our theology.

Rick Frueh said...

God's love is revealed and expressed completely, wholly, and exclusively through the cross - redemption. God shows some kindnesses to the other nations, but His love is expressed to Israel alone through the sacrificial system pointing to the cross.

For God so loved the world...

So whatever your definition of "world" is, that is tp whom God has revealed and expressed His love. Emotional love is human, active and redemptive love is divine.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I've been reading as much as I can blogwise on all this, including Phil's excellent article on the impassibility of God, wherein he states, "After all, we are dealing with something we cannot possibly comprehend completely."

And, "We cannot completely grasp what Scripture means" when it comes to some of these expressions.

Nevertheless, "His joy, His wrath, His sorrow, His pity, His compassion, His delight, His love, his hatred—and all the other divine affections—epitomize the very perfection of all the heartfelt affections we know (albeit imperfectly) as humans. His affections are absent the ebb and flow of changeableness that we experience with human emotions, but they are real and powerful feelings nonetheless."

Amen to that. And I would say that God's "desire" for all men to come to repentance is every bit as "real and powerful" as the Bible indicates it is.

I'm looking at this SBC controversy from without, but there seems to be more heat than light in some quarters, with incendiary charges going back and forth, some preceded by the salutation, "My dear brother in Christ." Sheesh.

During my reading I ran across this quote on predestination from F. H. Kerfoot, a 19th century Baptist theologian. I liked it, so here it is, FWIW: "But, oh! do not go to splitting hairs over the doctrine. Just fall back on it sometimes in the midst of life's struggles and conflicts as you would fall upon the bosom and into the arms of the infinite Jehovah, and realize that "these little lives of ours" — Oh, blessed be God! — "these little lives of ours are interwoven with God's eternal purposes."

dac said...

RF

Too many bible verses contradict your postion. They require you to force an interpretation on them that is not in the plain language of the bible.

I agree with the divine Dr. M

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/3029

donsands said...

""these little lives of ours are interwoven with God's eternal purposes.""

That's the truth.

The Great Shepherd knows His sheep, and He especially loves the lost sheep, and so set forth to save all the lone sheep, and leave the 99.

For it is the Great Shepherd's good purpose to give us the kingdom of heaven, those who once were children of wrath.

witness said...

For me the matter was settled when I realized that the Father loved the Son (actually more than we can humanly know) and put Him to death on the cross for my sin.

If God then could love the Son and put Him to death for the sin of... well sinners, then why couldn't God love sinners and yet condem them?

chip said...

About fully understanding the personality of our Great God,correct me if im out of context (which im sure that you will whom ever you might be)doesnt the secret things belong to the lord,Ive heard it said by some very respected dead guy to..Preach like an arminian and believe like a calanist.Im not as well versed as some nor could i hold a candle to some of the inilletcual communication going on here..Im a simple kind of man,also Im An A.D.D. cavanist who is a Hyper Human.To God be the glory for the work He has done and is doing.Love to the body

Solameanie said...

Dac,

Rick made that comment, not me. (smile)

To all,

I've been ruminating on this subject today. Interestingly enough, I am in a series on Romans and will eventually have to deal with Chapter 9 in my class -- the chapter that began the process of bringing me to a Calvinistic view of things.

It was posited earlier that the anger Arminians have with Calvinists is that they view Reformed doctrine as a slight against the character of God. I really don't see how one could say that considering the state of human beings outside of Christ. All God owes humanity is justice, and we all know what that means. We deserve His judgment and nothing else. In fact, John 3:18 tells us that those who do not believe are condemned already. No one deserves salvation. If God chooses to redeem some but not all, that is perfectly within His prerogative, and He is completely just to do so.

I can't help but think of what Paul said in reply to anyone who asks why God still finds fault, for "who resists His will?" In our day and age with our narcissistic culture, we'd hear . . . "that's not fair!!" Paul's reply? "Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?" Paul slaps that chin-jutting attitude down hard.

I make no claim to undertand all of this completely. I am not a degreed theologian. I have to wrestle with the Word of God like everyone else, the easy parts as well as the parts that are difficult to understand. The amazing thing for me is not that God chooses to save some, but that He chooses to save anyone. And I say that in view of my own sins.

Strong Tower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Dialectic said...

"It was posited earlier that the anger Arminians have with Calvinists is that they view Reformed doctrine as a slight against the character of God. I really don't see how one could say that considering the state of human beings outside of Christ."

Because unconditional election and limited atonement run counter to the mercy and justice of God as found in the Bible (in our view). I've never been convinced of Calvinist arguments around the key texts. I realize, of course, different lenses see things different ways. I started down the firm Arminian path after studying Sproul and Palmer, with the Bible open.

Which brings me to Romans 9. The correct lens, IMO, is to remember this is not a chapter or section about individual salvation at all. It's about national election to service (vv. 1-8 set that up). vv. 11 - 13 must be seen in that context. At least give Adam Clarke a read when you struggle through the chapter (and I commend your grappling with the Word). On v. 12:

"That these words are used in a national and not in a personal sense, is evident from this: that, taken in the latter sense they are not true, for Jacob never did exercise any power over Esau, nor was Esau ever subject to him. Jacob, on the contrary, was rather subject to Esau, and was sorely afraid of him; and, first, by his messengers, and afterwards personally, acknowledged his brother to be his lord, and himself to be his servant; See Ge 32:4; 33:8, 13. And hence it appears that neither Esau nor Jacob, nor even their posterities, are brought here by the apostle as instances of any personal reprobation from eternity: for, it is very certain that very many, if not the far greatest part, of Jacob’s posterity were wicked, and rejected by God; and it is not less certain that some of Esau’s posterity were partakers of the faith of their father Abraham."
Clarke, A., Commentary on Romans.

I regret I'll have to leave it there, as I leave for a place with limited net access for a time.

Thanks, as always, for the discussion.

Stephen Newell said...

Rick Frueh: So to preach the gospel to a deaf man...

I'm a deaf man. ;-)

Just had to pick at you a bit.

Chad V. said...

Strong tower
Yeah, I picked up on that as I read his comments.

donsands said...

"Which brings me to Romans 9. The correct lens, IMO, is to remember this is not a chapter or section about individual salvation at all."

It surely is. It's both really.

"So then it is not of those that wills, nor of those, or them that runs, but of God that shows mercy".
Of course I changed the pronoun here to show how it could have been written by Paul.

Also, Paul brings Pharaoh as an example. Isn't he an individual man, whom God chose not to have mercy on, but in fact purposed to harden?

Also, in the immediate context, when Paul is speaking of Jacob and Esau, it is Jacob and Esau, not Israle and, I suppose, Edom.

I realize this will not change your way of thinking, and that's fine, but I thought I speak mine. And really, if you think about it, it's much more simple and clear the way I see it, though I must say this whole passage is a deep passage.

I always appreciate your comments JD.

Chad V. said...

JD

Your conclusion is exegetically impossible. How did you get national election to service out of God showing mercy not to him who runs but upon whom He wills. Literally it reads; God mercies (the word is a verb) whom whom He will hardens whom He will. If you can make pronouns like "him" and "whom" mean nations then the whole book of Romans becomes incomprehensible.

And where in the text is election to service ever mentioned at all? How could such a teaching fit in with the book of Romans as a whole? It can't. It's not possible. The subject is God's redemptive mercy. Paul is elaborating on what he has just said in chapter 8. Follow the pronouns.

Chad V. said...

In fact JD. Try substituting the concept of nations when ever you see any singular pronoun and see how the book reads to you then. It just doesn't work.

Chad V. said...

JD

Esau did serve Jacob. Jacob inherited the blessing. Easau did not. That's what it means for the older to serve the younger. The older should have reveiced the inheritance but the younger did. Esau was rightfully in subjection to Jacob, Jacob having been exalted above Esau. Esau's wickedness against his younger brother doesn't change the fact that he was indeed subject to him.

There is indeed a sense where Israel as a nation finally does put Edom as a nation in physical subjection 2 Sam 8:13-14 but that's not Paul's point in Romans 9 at all. He hated one brother personally and loved the other personally before either person could do right or wrong personally. That's Paul's point.

Chad V. said...

Deleted three comments in a row, ugh! I'm having hard time explaining myself today. Anyway JD. Food for thought. Hope you're having a good holiday.

YnottonY said...

Phil Johnson said above:

"Well, if you have learned your lesson, you should first ask Curt and Iain if they agree with such a judgment."

Me now:

As I mentioned above, Phil, I have talked to Dr. Curt Daniel by phone about his dissertation, God's will, the essential nature of hyper-Calvinism and the atonement. In fact, he has complimented me several times on my knowledge of these things. We have also interacted by email, and he recently pointed me to Edward Polhilll, a Calvinistic Puritan that I already knew about and have blogged (10 posts so far).

What's important here is that the writings of Daniel and Iain Murray on this subject are sufficiently clear and explicit enough for people to understand. For example, Daniel writes:

"Hypers usually reject the idea of offers that are free, serious, sincere, or well-meant."
Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield, Ill.: Good Books, 2003), p. 89.

Curt Daniel lists four "main Hyper-Calvinist arguments" [I am quoting him here] against "free offers" along with the historic Calvinist reply. The fourth in the list says:
(4) "Free offers imply that God wishes all men to be saved. This contradicts the doctrine of election. It also implies that grace is universal." But: The Reformed doctrine of the revealed will of God is that there is a sense in which God certainly does will the salvation of all who hear the Gospel, just as He wills all who hear the Law to obey. He has no pleasure in the death of the one who rejects either Law or Gospel. True Reformed theology keeps the balance between the secret will (election) and the revealed will (Gospel), but Hyperism over-emphasizes the secret will. Ibid., 90.

When Murray introduces one of "the most serious difference of all between evangelical Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism," [I am quoting him] he says some argue thusly:

"If God has chosen an elect people, then, Hyper-Calvinism argued, he can have no desire for the salvation of any others and to speak as though he had, is to deny the particularity of grace." Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching (Carlisle, Penn.: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), 89.

Murray quotes Spurgeon's affirmation of God's wish for all men to be saved in order to point out "...one of the principle issues relating to the Hyper-Calvinistic controversy." Ibid., 149.

It is clear that both Daniel and Murray are in agreement on this. They both think that a denial of God's saving will for all men (including the non-elect) is one of the "principle issues relating to the Hyper-Calvinistic controvery," and that their denial of God's wish for all men to be saved because of the "doctrine of election" (or "particularity of grace") is a "main Hyper-Calvinist argument." This is what Daniel means when he speaks of "Hypers" rejecting the "ideas of offers" that are "sincere, or well-meant."

Now, Dr. David Allen (a non-Calvinist) and I (a Calvinist) thought you were in agreement with these men on this point, and that your Primer, at the very least, was making the point implicitly. We thought that 1) this is why you cited Ezek. 33:11 in the very title of the Primer, 2) why you referenced the John Piper and John Murray articles, and 3) why you made the point about "sincere proposals." Either your Primer is or is not making a point about God's universal saving will as Daniel and Murray are. Please excuse us for assuming that you agreed. Since you have said it is not at all talking about God's will for all to be saved by God's revealed will, I hope you can see why were interpreted it as if it did make the point. We did not interpret your Primer the way we did without any good reasons. In fact, now that you have clarified that you are not at all making a point about God's universal saving will in your Primer, we would encourage you to delete the references to Piper and John Murray on the will of God and the free offer. From our perspective it's misleading, given your current clarifications about your intentions.

Tony

p.s. My reply to your second question is forthcoming. I've been delayed because of the Holiday, etc.

YnottonY said...

Phil Johnson said above:

"And I would be quite surprised if either one of them would say they think it's fair to classify someone as a "hyper-Calvinist" who has devoted his life to evangelistic and apologetic work merely because that person balks at using optative expressions in the way you keep employing them."

Me now:

I am not saying that either Daniel or Murray would say that someone is a hyper-Calvinist for merely balking at the use of optative expressions (that's a straw man). In fact, this whole discussion does not involve problems with how to express with words God's well-meaning demeanor toward the reprobate. The fact of the matter is that James White doesn't even have a category for God having a will to save any of the non-elect at all. So, it matters not how one carefully qualifies "will," "wish," or "desire" for him. He denies the very concept of God willing, wishing or desiring to save any of the non-elect altogether.

We might also say that John Gill devoted his life to apologetical work. And, as Iain Murray and Daniel point out, Gill and most hyper-Calvinists were not against preaching to all men. Again, all of this is beside the point. The key subject is White's total denial of God seeking the salvation of any who are non-elect. He isn't merely balking at how to express the concept. He has no such concept to start with.

YnottonY said...

Phil Johnson questioned me above as follows:

"My question for you is this: do you believe God's will for the salvation of the elect differs in any way from His "desire" for the repentance of the reprobate? In other words, is there any aspect of God's "desire" for the salvation of the elect that is absent from His demeanor toward the reprobate? Is this "universal saving will" you speak of equal in all respects toward all men? Did God "desire" the salvation of Judas in every sense and to exactly the same degree that He sought the salvation of that thief on the cross?"

Me now:

I am honestly surprised that you would ask me this after I have mentioned that I am a Calvinist. Have you taken a look at the Conference Chart that I supplied Dr. Allen with at the John 3:16 Conference? Over 1000 people [at least] have seen it now. Also, my blog is so full of Calvinistic material on the subject of God's will and the careful distinctions involved that some here are calling me a "one-string banjo" on the topic. Since I believe in unconditional election, as all Calvinists do, of course I do not think that God's will for the salvation of the elect is the same toward the non-elect. Of course God's desire to save the elect stems from an electing love that is not the case toward the reprobate. So, God's universal saving will is not "equal in all respects toward all men. Even though God willed to save Judas, it was not "to exactly the same degree that he sought the salvation of the thief on the cross" that believed.

Therefore, I totally agree with Charles Hodge when he wrote:

"In this place it is sufficient to remark, that the Greek word θέλω, and the corresponding English verb, to will, sometimes express feeling, and sometimes a purpose. Thus in Matt. xxvii. 43, the words έί θέλει αύτόν are correctly rendered, "if he delight in him." Comp. Ps. xxii. 8. It is in this sense the word is used, when it is said that God wills all men to be saved. He cannot be said to purpose or determine upon any event which is not to come to pass. A judge may will the happiness of a man whom he sentences to death. He may will him not to suffer when he wills him to suffer. The infelicity in such forms of expression is that the word "will" is used in different senses. In one part of the sentence it means desire, and in the other purpose. It is perfectly consistent, therefore, that God, as a benevolent Being, should desire the happiness of all men, while he purposes to save only his own people." Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 1:405.

Furthermore, I also agree with John Davenant [one of the English delegates to Dort] when he wrote:

"God's unfeigned will is that will of approbation wherein he maketh known to us in his holy word what he would have us do, and what he would have us not do. God was as far from feigning or simulation when he called Cain and Judas to repenting and believing as when he called David and Peter." John Davenant, Animadversions (London, 1641), 257.

In 2005, you read my Radio Interview on Hyper-Calvinism post and linked to it. You wrote: "Tony at 'Theological Meditations' posts a terrific article on hyper-Calvinism.."

I said all of this in that very post on God's revealed will, etc.:

"It's not that I was not interested in evangelism or preaching the gospel indescriminately to all, but I was not thinking that God wanted anyone except the elect to be saved. In other words, there was a significant dichotomy in my thinking regarding my offers of the gospel and God's offer. God wanted me to share the gospel with everyone, but only with a view to saving the elect. There was no sense in which he wanted to save the non-elect. Anyone who seemed to teach such a thing was theologically suspect of Arminianism or Amyraldism. The well-meant aspect of the offer is what troubled me."

"Hyper-Calvinism not only has problems with offers (particularly the well-meant intention of God in the offer),..."

One of my definitional points on hyper-Calvinism was this:

"2) The sincere desire of God that all men keep his commandment to believe on Christ (The well-meant offer) is denied."

I also said these things:

"Curt Daniel says that the core is the rejection of "offers." He's right. However, it does not necessarily mean that one rejects offers to the extreme of not engaging in evangelism as some think."

"The more I reflect on the issue and the subterranean concepts at work, the more the doctrine of the will of God stands out as absolutely fundamental."

"The sincerity or well-meaning nature of the offer is tied to God's intentions or will. Would someone seem sincere to you if they commanded you to do something but really did not desire your compliance to the command? Wouldn't they seem hypocritical? Wouldn't they seem evil if they were merely wanting you to violate a good command? Would not a benevolent commander command something for the well-being of the one commanded? These questions should point out how the sincerity, goodness and well-meaning nature of God's intentions are at stake in the issue of gospel commands."

"God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ though preaching. Does he really mean it? Does he really want everyone to comply with those good commandments? Are the commands insincere with respect to those not decreed to obey (i.e. in the case of the non-elect)?"

"There is an inability to make careful distinctions among the Hyper-Calvinists, therefore false "either/or" dilemma fallacies abound....It's either God's decretive will or a frustrated deity in the Arminian sense."

Do you still think these points are "terrific," as you thought back in 2005? I am still in agreement with what I said today.

Basically, I am in agreement with Dr. D. A. Carson when he writes, “I argue, then, that both Arminians and Calvinists should rightly affirm that Christ died for all, in the sense that Christ’s death was sufficient for all and that Scripture portrays God as inviting, commanding, and desiring the salvation of all, out of love..."

YnottonY said...

With respect to optative expressions and my view of God's desire for the salvation of all men, I am in 100% agreement with Jonathan Edwards when he wrote:

"§ 13. It is objected against the absolute decrees respecting the future actions of men, and especially the unbelief of sinners, and their rejection of the gospel, that this does not consist with the sincerity of God’s calls and invitations to such sinners; as he has willed, in his eternal secret decree, that they should never accept of those invitations. To which I answer, that there is that in God, respecting the acceptance and compliance of sinners, which God knows will never be, and which he has decreed never to cause to be, in which, though it be not just the same with our desiring and wishing for that which will never come to pass, yet there is nothing wanting but what would imply imperfection in the case. There is all in God that is good, and perfect, and excellent in our desires and wishes for the conversion and salvation of wicked men. As, for instance, there is a love to holiness, absolutely considered, or an agreeableness of holiness to his nature and will; or, in other words, to his natural inclination. The holiness and happiness of the creature, absolutely considered, are things that he loves. These things are infinitely more agreeable to his nature than to ours. There is all in God that belongs to our desire of the holiness and happiness of unconverted men and reprobates, excepting what implies imperfection. All that is consistent with infinite knowledge, wisdom, power, self-sufficience, infinite happiness and immutability. Therefore, there is no reason that his absolute prescience, or his wise determination and ordering what is future, should hinder his expressing this disposition of his nature, in like manner as we are wont to express such a disposition in ourselves, viz. by calls and invitations, and the like.

The disagreeableness of the wickedness and misery of the creature, absolutely considered, to the nature of God, is all that is good in pious and holy men’s lamenting the past misery and wickedness of men. Their lamenting these, is good no farther than it proceeds from the disagreeableness of those things to their holy and good nature. This is also all that is good in wishing for the future holiness and happiness of men. And there is nothing wanting in God, in order to his having such desires and such lamentings, but imperfection; and nothing is in the way of his having them, but infinite perfection; and therefore it properly, naturally, and necessarily came to pass, that when God, in the manner of existence, came down from his infinite perfection, and accommodated himself to our nature and manner, by being made man, as he was, in the person of Jesus Christ, he really desired the conversion and salvation of reprobates, and lamented their obstinacy and misery; as when he beheld the city Jerusalem, and wept over it, saying, "O Jerusalem," &c. In the like manner, when he comes down from his infinite perfection, though not in the manner of being, but in the manner of manifestation, and accommodates himself to our nature and manner, in the manner of expression, it is equally natural and proper that he should express himself as though he desired the conversion and salvation of reprobates, and lamented their obstinacy and misery."

Jonathan Edwards, "Concerning the Divine Decrees in General and Election in Particular," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Carlisle, Penn.: Banner of Truth, 1974), 2:528-529.

YnottonY said...

Phil notes me as saying:

YnottonY: "Given what Dr. MacArthur says, how could you say, "Optative expressions like desire and wish are always problematic when it comes to describing God's demeanor toward the reprobate"?"

Phil asked:

"Did you notice that in the quotation you gave, Dr. MacArthur noted that such optative expressions are anthropopathic? Is that not precisely what I said?"

Me now:

Of course I noticed that Dr. MacArthur said that, and I know that you have agreed with that point. However, I don't see MacArthur saying that the expressions are "always problematic," such that he would not use such expressions unless he had time to explain them. In fact, he flat out says that there is "no other way" to express to humans God's well-meaning disposition toward all men in his revealed will. He notes that scripture freely uses these terms without hesitation. If it's the case that scripture freely uses "will," "wish," and "desire" in the case of God [in addition to all the Reformed literature], why should we balk at it at all? Do we balk at speaking about God's "anger" toward sinners? No, even though all of us knows that God doesn't undergo mood swings.

Phil said:

"Interpreting them accurately is problematic because they are anthropopathic. That's why MacArthur wrote a book on the topic. If you would read it thoughtfully and thoroughly instead of selectively quoting it, you might see that he and I hold the same position."

The problem, then, is not with the language as such, but with how some people may interpret the language. Therefore, it is not accurate to say that the language itself is "always problematic," as you previously said. I believe I have read MacArthur's book "thoughtfully" and "thoroughly." This is why I say above that "I don't see MacArthur saying that the expressions are "always problematic," such that he would not use such expressions unless he had time to explain them. In fact, he flat out says that there is "no other way" to express to humans God's well-meaning disposition toward all men in his revealed will. I am not more spiritual than the Scriptures, the Reformers or the Puritans, so I have no hesitations to use their expressions, and neither do I hear such "balking" in MacArthur either.

Nota Bene: You've brought up this "optative expression" difficulty several times now, Phil. It's one thing A) to see difficulty in the language of saying that God "desires" to save all men, and quite another B) to categorically deny it. The latter (B) is what James White is doing, and you haven't addressed that point, yet. It is for that reason that I am saying the "optative expressions" difficulties is a red herring. You're erroneously assuming that White is merely quibbling over the expressions, rather than rightly interpreting him as categorically denying God's will to save the reprobate in any sense.

A well-wisher to the souls of men,
Tony

YnottonY said...

Phil,

In a comment above, you spoke of Gordon Clark's "über-high Calvinism" [whatever that is]. As I am sure you know, Robert Reymond is a Clarkian. James White recently said:

"I would be more on the Reymond side than the Murray side, for example, and I am for a pretty obvious reason, I hope."

Question: If White agrees with Reymond and Reymond agrees with Clark, would you then describe White an an "über-high Calvinist"? And, if so, how does "über-high Calvinism" differ from hyper-Calvinism?

Willem Bronkhorst said...

I don't know if this question will be considered off-topic here, but am I the only one who see Arminian brothers often going to greater lengths to get beyond their prejudice against non-Evangelicals than they go to in order to get over their prejudice against Reformed evangelical brothers?

Phil Johnson said...

Ynottony: "As I mentioned above, Phil, I have talked to Dr. Curt Daniel by phone about his dissertation, God's will, the essential nature of hyper-Calvinism and the atonement. In fact, he has complimented me several times on my knowledge of these things."

I didn't ask whether you have ever had a previous phone conversation with him, Tony. I said he probably will not agree with yours and Dr. Allen's labeling James White as a hyper-Calvinist, and I suggested that you need to show Dr. Daniel the courtesy you denied me, by checking with him before you continue publicly adducing his name in support of such accusations, which I believe to be excessive.

Ynottony: "What's important here is that the writings of Daniel and Iain Murray on this subject are sufficiently clear and explicit enough for people to understand."

...sufficiently clear for rational people who understand the meaning of balance and nuance, perhaps. But your track record of "understanding" your sources on this issue is questionable. You certainly misconstrued my position. And it doesn't inspire much confidence when you quote a line like this in favor of your position:

"Hypers usually reject the idea of offers that are free, serious, sincere, or well-meant." Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield, Ill.: Good Books, 2003), p. 89.

Well, of course, they do. That's the same thing I said, so it doesn't really argue against my position.

Incidentally, hypers are also usually supralapsarian, and they tend to present the gospel as a command to believe rather than an entreaty to repent. That doesn't mean everyone who is supralapsarian and speaks of "the obedience of faith" is hyper.

Ynottony: "Now, Dr. David Allen (a non-Calvinist) and I (a Calvinist) thought you were in agreement with these men on this point, and that your Primer, at the very least, was making the point implicitly."

Well, I am basically in agreement with both Curt Daniel and Iain Murray on most matters related to hyper-Calvinism and how to define it. I know both of them and have discussed these issues with both of them on numerous occasions. I think their positions are more nuanced than you realize, and I know for a fact that they are both more cautious about throwing the label "hyper" around than you are. I also think they would be appalled if they listened to Dr. Allen's lecture or read the way you use quotes from them as proof-texts for your views. That is why I suggested it might be wise for you to inform them of the controversy you have fomented in their names before you persist in your little campaign against James White.

Ynottony: "In fact, now that you have clarified that you are not at all making a point about God's universal saving will in your Primer, we would encourage you to delete the references to Piper and John Murray on the will of God and the free offer. From our perspective it's misleading, given your current clarifications about your intentions."

Piper's and Murray's positions are also far more nuanced than you have evidently grasped. You could easily ask Piper whether he agrees with your position. Why don't you?

In the years since I wrote those notes on hyper-Calvinism, not one person has ever suggested that my citations of Piper and John Murray are "misleading." The fact is, Tony, you simply misconstrued what I wrote. And in light of that fact, I think it would be wise for you to re-read Piper and Murray before you rewrite my notes for me.

In fact, my challenge to you and Dr. Allen would be this: Encourage Iain Murray, John Piper, and Curt Daniel to 1) listen to Dr. Allen's complete presentation and 2) read the way you have represented their views in your accusations against James White. If I'm right, they'll feel you have put a spin on their words that they themselves would not endorse. If you discover that's the case, then Dr. Allen should withdraw his message and issue a formal retraction.

Phil Johnson said...

Ynottony: "As I am sure you know, Robert Reymond is a Clarkian."

There you go again.

Carl Henry was "Clarkian" in a similar sense. Ditto with Ronald Nash. None of them followed Clark slavishly. Reymond is a high Calvinist and supralapsarian who takes a decidedly non-hyper view on the order of decrees. In fact, if I am not mistaken, Reymond's unique ordering of the decrees is a departure from Clarkian supralapsarianism. Look for the section on "Reymond's Modified Supralapsarianism" in my notes on the order of the decrees.

That kind of argument ("Clark is über-high in his Calvinism; Reymond likes Clark; therefore Reymond is hyper") seems to epitomize your whole approach to this subject, Tony. You really need to ratchet your zeal down about 10 notches for a while and make a genuine effort to try to understand what your objectors on all sides are trying to tell you.

Dave Davis said...

Where is Dr. S Lewis Johnson when you need him?

Rick Frueh said...

There are ten wheelchair bound quadriplegics sitting helpless at the entrance of a bridge that leads over a mile high gorge and away from the approaching flames. One healthu man pushes two of the ten wheelchair criples over the bridge to safety.

He then turns around and hollars for the others to come across without his help, knowing full well they cannot. Does he actually desire them to come across, or is that in reality a form of taunting?

DJP said...

Wrong way to do theology:

Devise a human analogy, say "If a man does A, it means B; therefore, ditto for God."

Right way to do theology:

God's Word says A about God. Therefore, A.

Phil Johnson said...

Ynottony: "I am in 100% agreement with Jonathan Edwards when he wrote . . ."

Well, I'm in agreement with Edwards, too. So what? That doesn't ipso facto make everyone who disagrees with him on that point "hyper."

You did not actually say what your point was in citing that paragraph from Edwards, but if you're trying to suggest that he saw no difficulty whatsoever in ascribing unfulfilled "desire" to God, you would be dead wrong. In The Freedom of the Will he discusses that very problem and many others I suspect you have never considered.

Now for the fourth and last time, please stop with the cut-and-paste comments. If you have a real point to make, make it. If you want to cite a long comment like that, link to it. And if you link to a comment like that, show how it's germane to the discussion.

I'm hereby giving you a 12-line limit on comments. From now on, you need to make your comments one at a time, in no more than 12 lines at a time. (So when you comment, be sure you make an actual point, not just a long, mostly-irrelevant quote with no actual bearing on the real issue under discussion.) And once you comment, you don't get to post another comment until I have replied to your most recent one.

It seems to me that your style of "arguing your case" consists of spamming the forum with quotations you have collected. I wouldn't mind that if it were germane. But who cares whether you agree with Edwards on the meaning of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem? That doesn't justify your attack on James White, and the inappropriate way you adduced my name in making that charge.

YnottonY said...

("Clark is über-high in his Calvinism; Reymond likes Clark; therefore Reymond is hyper")

That's not a fair representation of what I said, Phil. Reymond likes Clark? Come on. I said Reymond agrees with Clark. Liking someone is different from agreeing with their theology.

Also, you know I am not talking about Clark's epistemology (univocal knowledge) or his version of presuppositionalism here, which is where C. F. H. Henry agreed with Clark. Ditto with the early Ron Nash. I'm talking about Clark's view of God's demeanor toward the reprobate and God's will. Reymond agrees with Clark on that. He's "Clarkian" in that sense. Incidentally, I am not aware of any evidence where Henry agreed with Clark on that point.

Clark didn't believe that God loved all mankind. Clark didn't believe that God desires to save all mankind. And you call him an "über-high Calvinist" instead of a hyper-Calvinist?

Iain Murray wrote:

"Hyper-Calvinism, on the other hand, denies, in the words of John Murray, 'that there is a love of God that goes forth to lost men and is manifested in the manifold blessings which all men without distinction enjoy, a love in which non-elect persons are embraced, and a love that comes to its highest expression in the entreaties, overtures and demands of gospel proclamation.'" Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching (Carlisle, Penn.: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), 98.

It's very plain that Murray sees the denial of God's universal love as a form of hyper-Calvinism, and he associates that with John Murray's arguments in his "The Atonement and the Free Offer of the Gospel" in the Banner of Truth (London, 1968), July-August, p. 29. Iain Murray views the Clark/Van Til debate as a battle between orthodox Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism, among other things.

Phil Johnson wrote:

"Is there no sense in which God ever wishes for or prefers anything other than what actually occurs (including the fall of Adam, the damnation of the wicked, and every evil in between)? My own opinion—and I think Dabney would have agreed—is that those who refuse to see any true expression of God's heart whatsoever in His optative exclamations have embraced the spirit of the hyper-Calvinist error."

1. You're contrasting your own position with those who don't see God ever wishing for anything other than what actually occurs. Those you're refuting are "those who insist that God's sovereign decrees are equal to His "desires" in every meaningful sense." In other words, they are saying that God only desires what he decrees.

2. You also say that those who "refuse to see" any true expression of God's heart in His "optative exclamations" ("wishes," etc.) have embraced the "spirit of hyper-Calvinism." That would also seem to indicate that you thought those who deny that God "wishes" for the non-elect to repent and be saved have "embraced the spirit of hyper-Calvinism."

Now you seem to be speaking as though anyone who read your Primer that way is a thoughtless, eisegetical person who can't see what you clearly intended to convey. And all of this is curiously timed to one of your close friends being accused of hyper-Calvinism.

Tony

YnottonY said...

I typed the above before I saw your new rule, Phil. I see it now, so I will abide by it.

Tony

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Frueh said...

God's Word is replete with human analogies designed for human understanding of the divine. The bride, the door, the head, the shepherd, the parables, love, and most of the divine revelations can only be understood through human analogies, and in fact God Himself is substantially revealed through anthropomorphic analogies. (hands, arms, eyes, think, etc.)

Communication itself is based upon common understandings of human analogies and activity.

kiwibyproxy said...

I have watched all of this unfold while I have patiently awaited an answer to my question regarding White being catagorized as a hyper according to what Murray and Daniel have written. (I was given "no" as an answer so I have waited for further elaboration...

At any rate, as I have waited for an answer, I have seen this turn into a forum for personal attack.

Those of you who disagree with Tony Bryne have done nothing but assault his character, accuse him of sinning, strawman his position and latch on to everything but the central points he is making.

Phil you have done this as well. I see you addressing what you want to address in Tony's post not what should be addressed.

You latched on the to Edwards quote and ranted.

That was really a minor point he had to make and ironically enough was only made because you asked him a question that didn't even need to be asked! You asked a Calvinist if he sees a distinction in God willing the salvation of Judas in a difference sense than the theif on the cross? Honestly Phil.

All I can take from this Phil is that you are simply evading the question that is being asked.

You and everyone else who is defending James White is doing so by simply not directly dealing with the actual claims being made. Or if you do address the claims, it is done so by making mere assertions. Mere assertions do not the facts make - regardless of how crass and snarky they are put forth.

Any thinking person reading this blog can plainly see the evasive tactics that have been used on the parts of those who hold a contrary position to Tony Byrne.

Worse still you Phil have allowed people to attack Tony Byrne's character. Which I would like to mention in all of this no one has ever attacked the character of Mr. White. What has been "attacked" is the doctrine to which he holds.

Until the actual issue id addressed and the personal attacks cease there is no reason for me (or anyone else reading this) to take any of you seriously.

Carrie

Phil Johnson said...

kiwibyproxy: "I was given "no" as an answer so I have waited for further elaboration... "

I did elaborate in subsequent comments, though I did not necessarily address them to you.

Bottom line: I know both Iain Murray and Curt Daniel pretty well. I've discussed hyper-Calvinism with both of them at length, and I believe we would be in substantial agreement with one another. All three of us have defined hyper-Calvinism in much more nuanced ways than Tony Byrne wants to suggest. None of us would automatically label someone a hyper-Calvinist for declining to say that God "desires" the salvation of all men universally.

All three of us have argued that there is a true (albeit anthropopathic) sense in which God portrays Himself as beseeching all men everywhere to repent. All of us would stress that Christ has commissioned Christians to be His ambassadors, pleading with sinners (on His behalf) to be reconciled with God. And all of us insist that it is clearly God's preceptive will for all to repent and turn to Christ for salvation.

As long as someone understands that the optative expressions by which Scripture conveys these ideas are anthropopathic--in no way contradicting the fact that God is sovereign and has decreed whatsoever comes to pass--then it is fitting to use the language scripture employs in the way Scripture employs it. There is no need to do any exegetical special pleading to get around the pleas of Ezekiel 18:23, 30-32; 33:11; Lamentations 3:33; etc.

On that point, all of us would be in disagreement with the position James White and certain other Calvinists hold. It does not follow, however, that we would automatically think it appropriate to label everyone who disagrees with our position on that point as a full-blown hyper-Calvinist.

Murray's treatment of Arthur Pink is a case in point. Murray rightly deplores the tendency of Pink's denial of God's common-grace love for the reprobate. He believes Pink's opinion and his rationale on that point were rooted in hyper-Calvinist tradition rather than careful biblical exegesis. But in his biography of Arthur Pink, Murray devotes pages to the task of carefully differentiating Pink's opinions from common hyper-Calvinism.

Daniel, on the other hand, might classify Pink as a hyper-Calvinist. (I think I recall Curt's saying to me that he does regard Pink as a hyper.) But I'm confident that if he made such a statement publicly, he would also take time to differentiate Pink from the classic, more-virulent hypers and give a reason why he feels it is appropriate to classify Pink as one kind of hyper-Calvinist. He would not blithely lump him in with everyone who denies that it is the duty of sinners to believe the gospel.

My own assessment of Pink is that his earlier works make him sound like a hyper-Calvinist; but in his later years he spent tons of energy arguing fiercely against hyper-Calvinists who denied duty-faith. I don't think it's particularly useful to label him "hyper-" without taking time to point out that he was also anti-hyper in the way he dealt with some of the most important hyper-Calvinist hobby horses.

Pink illustrates the fact that there is a veritable rainbow of high-Calvinist opinion, and for people whose views seem hyper here and not-hyper there, simply labeling them "hyper-Calvinist" in a dismissive way is not at all a helpful exercise. In particular, to stand up in a convention of laypeople, choose a person whose life is devoted to evangelism and apologetics, and declare, "Ladies and gentlemen, this guy is a hyper-Calvinist" is unwise, unhelpful, and ungracious. I am confident that neither Curt Daniel nor Iain Murray would want their names adduced in support of such a campaign.

Neither of them defines hyper-Calvinism as simplistically as Dr. Allen's lecture and Tony Byrne's comments here suggest. Both authors have infused their treatments of hyper-Calvinism with copious amounts of careful nuance, sweet reasonableness, and well-mannered graciousness. Those who doubt me should read them for themselves.

On the other point you made: I have not deliberately impugned Tony Byrne's character per se. I have criticized his style of argumentation, his stubborn refusal to let me interpret my own words, and his seeming inability to hear what his opponents say. His insistence on spamming my comment-thread with irrelevant cut-and-paste quotes after I asked him not to do that in my very first comment may reflect poorly on his own character. (I think virtually everyone who has ever tried to dialogue with Tony finds his reliance on blitzkrieg-style comment-spam irritating in the extreme, and many have tried to point that out to him.) But that is an issue you ought to take up with him.

Incidentally, this is a holiday weekend and I have a message to prepare for tomorrow. So please don't expect me to answer a flurry of hostile comments on someone else's arbitrary timetable. I have many priorities in my life over this blog, and while I think this is an important issue, and I have already devoted far more time to it than I should have to, I have a dozen or so more important matters to do this weekend. So while I appreciate your patience in waiting for me to elaborate further, I would also appreciate it if you were a little more patient.

Lord willing, this coming week, I'll write a post carefully explaining how I think God's expressions of "desire" should fit into our theology.

Chad V. said...

Phil Johnson

I think kiwibyproxy is referring to comments left by myself and strongtower and others. Here complaint is that you have let our charges go unchallenged.

For my part, I may have been to zealous in impugning Tony with violating the 9th commandment. That would only be true if his misrepresentations were deliberate. It's possible that he simply can't understand. So for the sake of being careful not to accuse someone with sin where he may be innocent I'll delete my previous comment.

However Tony, James White is not a hyper-calvinist. It seems that no amount of anyone trying to explain to you why is ever going to change your mind. You so seem stubbornly cemented to an unfortunate misunderstanding of the facts and you seem to be erecting your own shibboleth. White has explained himself both on the web and in print sufficiently. Perhaps you should be careful of impugning White of being guilty of something he's not since your accusations of him could be extremely damaging. I'd advise you to be careful.

YnottonY said...

Phil,

Sorry for breaking your rule, but I wanted to make this my last clarifying post. There is much above I would like to address and correct from my perspective, but it appears to me that it's best just to end the conversation in this comment thread. Just as you don't feel I have represented you fairly, even so I don't think you have represented me fairly. If you or anyone else has any interest in discussing this further with me, then contact me by email or let me know if you would like to discuss it on the Yahoo Theology List. Both Phil and I have been on it at one time. We could discuss it there within their guidelines pertaining to mutual respect, etc.

Since you don't view your own Primer (or other writings) as suggesting that a denial of God's universal saving will constitutes a form of hyper-Calvinism, we shall not appeal to it. We have Iain Murray and Curt Daniel to substantiate that specific point, even if such a denial does not constitute "full-blown" hyper-Calvinism (denials of duty-faith, etc.).

The bottom line is ultimately this: Anyone who denies that God wills and desires the salvation of all men cannot have a well-meant gospel offer for all men.

Grace to you,
Tony

CR said...

In summary, it appears (and YY admits) that Allen was wrong to say that according PJ's primer, White is a hyper-Calvinist. (YY admits this after 75 posts or so). It appears that main purpose of this meta by PJ was you can't call White a hyper-Calvinist with his primer.

The meta then from YY's initial post takes a life of its own by saying there are other troubling things that White believes in that might put him in the camp of the hyper-Calvinist.

White responds by saying: In any case, this entire "he's an X" "no, you're a Y!" childishness makes me ill. Evidently, for a whole group of folks, the idea is this: hyper-Calvinism is dangerous (it is). Therefore, anyone with a higher Calvinism (one that seeks internal consistency in theology and exegesis, and does not find a lot of comfort in "antinomy" and "mystery") than these folks is to be stigmatized as a "hyper-Calvinist," even if they have shown, demonstrated, and proved their balance as a churchman, evangelist, preacher, theologian, or apologist.

I can emphasize with White wanting some consistency in theology and exegesis and I can sympathize where he doesn't get comfort on some things. But I think all these approaches whether it be hyper-Calvinism, arminianism, mediating positions (e.g., Ben Franklin's God helps those who help themselves) or forms of higher Calvinism seem to err at a very crucial point. They seek to solve a dilemma from the perspective of fallen, human reason and logic, rather than the explicit statements of the Bible.

Now, I stand with Charles Spurgeon when he says that when Paul writes to Timothy and he says that the Lord desires all men to be saved, he meant just that, that God desires all men to be saved. He obviously does not desire all men effectually to be saved, but certainly for the non-elect He still desires desideratively to be saved. Do I understand that? No.

But neither do I understand election. With the Lord preferring me over others, was it anything to do with me intrinsically? No. Why did He prefer me and not others? I do not know, and will probably never know. He's not bound to tell me why even in glory. All we know is that He doesn't prefer us fortuitously. He has a reason. We just don't know why.

So...I know there is this big controversy, whose a hyper Calvinist or whose a higher Calvinist and it doesn't look like that controversy will be settled today. But I would say this again whether it be to the Arminian, hyper-Calvinist or higher Calvinist: and that is reject fallen human reason and logic and trust the explicit statements of the Bible.

We should not be surprised that since God desires all men to be saved, then it does not surprise that we created in God's image reflect that desire also. I mean, I don't know who God's elect are, but I pray for all: the wicked alike, the religious alike, the moral and immoral and amoral alike. But I can tell you this, if I did know who God’s elect and non-elect were, wouldn’t we desire them to be saved. Wouldn’t we desire a parent or a child to be saved if we knew they were not God’s elect. Of course we would and we would because it stems from God’s desire which we learn from Scripture, that all men be saved and He takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked.

Rick Frueh said...

CR - you make some sensible points. The issue can be distilled into this:

If we all agree that the true gospel must be preached to every sinner, and we all agree that no one knows or can know who are God's elect, then arguing over such things is can be unproductive and the cause of unnecessary strife.

We all agree, God DESIRES us to preach the gospel to every creature. That seems to relegate the finer points of theology and mechanics as secondary since whatever your view we are all called to comprehensive evangelism.

Terry T said...

Phil Johnson,

I think that the real issue that is driving the Dr. Allen's of the SBC is that they seek to "purge" the SBC of those of us who happen to have a calvinist bent to our theology. What is odd is that they will do this while they cling lovingly to Mr. Spurgeon but then they seem to love Mr. Finney as well - talk about being double minded. But I digress.

I have seen this building at street level for some time now. A few years ago while teaching our youth a class on God's Attributes I was confronted for "teaching calvinism to our kids" because I had quoted Ps 115:3 then illustrated it from Daniel 4:25 and 32 since it happened to be an election year. The parent who was concerned that I was leading our students down the "C" path, telling them that God was in control of the universe and the affairs of man was at the time an instructor at Oklahoma Baptist University (guess where I refused to send my daughters to college).
You are correct in your assessment of my denomination. We would rather have a guy with a big congregation and a king sized bed on the "stage" (I have also seen cars and basketball courts) or a guy that will lead us to our purpose filled life at the hawaiian, jazz, hip-hop, salsa or traditional venue (whichever we prefer) than call people to repentance and faith.
I am about to come to the conclusion that it is time to leave but unfortunately the options are extremely limited.

CR said...

Rick,

I'm not sure what you mean by "the issue" can be "distilled." I'm not sure what you mean, by "finer" points. I do not consider God's sovereignty, man's responsibility or the Lord's desire to save all men "finer points." Maybe you were speaking of some other finer point.

What I am saying is that it is important to embrace all of what the Bible says on salvation. That includes, God's complete and utter sovereignty in whom He chooses, man's responsibility and the fact that the Lord desideratively desires all men to be saved (yet, effectually, He only desires some). These are all very important points I think and have some implications if we don't understand these points clearly either in our evangelism or walk with the Lord or some other things.

Well, anyway, I just wanted to add all that for clarification.

Greg Alford said...

Johnny Dialectic (way back on the 26th) makes the classic Arminian mistake in his story about a jailer.

Johnny says:

A jailer announces, "Anyone who wants to go home may do so. Just open your door and walk out." But he keeps (secretly) 50% of the cells locked.

In what sense is his offer "well-meant"? I propose in no sense that makes sense, which is the inveterate Calvinist problem.


The mistake Johnny is making is to assume that the unregenerate man considers himself to be in prison and desires to be set free, when in reality just the opposite is true. The unregenerate man considers himself to be most free and has no desire whatsoever to enter the prison of Faith.

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.(Romans 3:10-12)

This is every man, “Whosoever” he may be that is left by God to follow his own “Free Will”. The unregenerate will never seek after God; for to him, God is the Jailer and Faith is the prison.

As an Arminian Professor (who went on to become a full blown Open Theist) once said “What one believes about the Fall of Man determines all of his doctrine”. This I have found to be true.

Grace Always,

Johnny Dialectic said...

Well, Greg, of course "error" depends upon your lenses, and the classic Calvinist error is asserting that God regenerates before faith.

It seems to me the witness of Scripture is the other way around. And so is any "well meant" offer exactly that: for ALL mankind.

Pax.

Strong Tower said...

JD-

Could you explain: error is asserting that God regenerates before faith.

It seems to me the witness of Scripture is the other way around.


How does an unrighteous, unbelieving man have faith?

Johnny Dialectic said...

"How does an unrighteous, unbelieving man have faith?"

Your terms are loaded with your presups, and take off on a tangent that would require myriad lines of argument from both of us.

Staying on focus, my original comment was about the "well-meant" offer. In what sense is it "well meant" if God himself precludes it from becoming reality?

Strong Tower said...

if God himself precludes it from becoming reality

How so. Are not some saved?

Tell us, what is faith? Are all men given faith and yet some remain unchanged?

The Lighthearted Calvinist said...

I'll defer to Boettner on this (italics mine):

Although the Gospel is offered to many who will not, and who for subjective reasons cannot, accept, it is, nevertheless, sincerely offered to all. The objection so strenuously urged on some occasions by Arminians, to the effect that if the doctrine of Predestination is true the Gospel cannot be sincerely offered to the non-elect, should be sufficiently answered by the fact that it bears with equal force against the doctrine of God’s Foreknowledge. We might ask, How can the offer of salvation be sincerely made to those who God foreknows will despise and reject it, especially when their guilt and condemnation will only be increased by their refusal? Arminians admit that God knows beforehand who will accept and who will reject the message; yet they know themselves to be under a divine command to preach to all men, and they do not feel that they act insincerely in doing so.

The difficulty, however, in both cases is purely subjective, and is due to our limited knowledge and to our inability to comprehend the ways of God, which are past finding out. We do know that the Judge of all the earth will do right, and we trust Him even though our feeble reason cannot always follow His ways. We know definitely that abundant provision has been made for all who will come, and that every one who sincerely accepts will be saved. From Christ’s own lips we have a parable which illustrates the love of God for His children. The father saw the returning prodigal when he was still a great way off, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the welcome given to this prodigal God is willing to give to any prodigal.
----------
There wouldn't be any Open Theists (or leaning as such) out there, would there?

Sean Gerety said...

Dr. Allen's lecture at all if he had not misused and misquoted my "Primer on Hyper-Calvinism" in a way that seemed calculated to pit me publicly against a friend.

Well, according to you, White is a Type-3 Hyper-Calvinist. You might have noticed that White cites a footnote by Reymond that completely refutes Murray's irrational defense of the so-called "Sincere Offer." Yet, you highly commend the same incoherent piece Reymond (and White by extension) refute.

You wrote:

Type-3 hyper-Calvinism is based on a denial that the gospel makes any "offer" of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect. An alternative of this view merely denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal. For an excellent discussion of this issue, see "The Free Offer of the Gospel," by John Murray and Ned B. Stonehouse (also available at the Orthodox Presbyterian Church's Web site).

White and Reymond are Type-3 Hyper-Calvinists according to you and for you to suggest otherwise is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst. My guess is you are now embarrassed that your broad and sloppy brush has now painted your friend James White into a corner.

I think Dr. Allen understood your definition of hyper-Calvinism perfectly.

Brandon said...

Phil,

I would like to hear your response to Sean above. Is someone a hyper-calvinist if they believe John Murray's defense of the free offer is wrong?