June 28, 2006

An Explanation of a Few Calvinistic Labels

I've had to explain some of my terminology to a few people recently, so I may as well put the material on my blog, as usual :-) I posted the following material on a discussion board:

By "High Calvinism," I mean those who adhere to a strictly limited view of the design of Christ's death (the intent was to save the elect alone). It's the most popular view today due to the recent proliferation of Puritan literature and/or Protestant Scholastic writings. Some people associate High Calvinism with supralapsarianism (rather than with infralapsarianism). So, in their view, infralapsarianism is Moderate or Low. That's very common way of categorizing, but erroneous in my opinion. Here's how I would classify things:

HYPER-CALVINISM = Strict particularist supralapsarian Calvinism that denies either 1) the universal love of God or 2) common grace or 3) the free/well-meant gospel offer or 4) duty-faith, or all the above. Some [not all] of these may even believe in equivalentism, such that Christ suffered just so much for so many elect sins.

HIGH CALVINISM = Strict Particularist Calvinism that is either supralapsarianism (not all supras are hyper) or infralapsarian. There are higher highs (supras) and lower highs (infras). Some in this group may even reject lapsarianism (such as H. Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, ed. by John Bolt and trans. by John Vriend [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004], 2:388-392). They believe there is a universal love of God, common grace, free/good-will offers and duty-faith. They hold to the sufficiency of Christ’s death in the sense that it’s of infinite intrinsic value (a bare sufficiency), but not in the sense that he bore the guilt for the sins of all mankind (which is historically called an ordained or extrinsic sufficiency). They believe that Christ was punished for the guilt of the elect alone as their sins alone were imputed to Christ, but most of these reject equivalentism. The majority of them also believe that common grace flows to all because of Christ’s satisfaction.

CLASSIC OR MODERATE CALVINISM = Non-strict Calvinism, or those who believe in a universal substitution, that may or may not hold to a form of ordered decretalism/lapsarianism (if so, they would most likely be infralapsarian). They say that Christ suffered sufficiently for all (an ordained sufficiency), but especially for the elect (limited special intent and special effectual application). Basically, they are dualists. They also usually see a connection betwen Christ’s death and common grace as well.

LOW CALVINISM = Those who profess to hold the other four points, but say that Christ died for all without making careful qualifications. It seems that they teach that Christ intended to die EQUALLY for all. I tend to put self-described “three-pointers” in this group as well, but they are difficult to categorize.

For more on this, you may wish to check this chart that I made. It lists some of the representatives. I discussed this chart in a radio interview with Gene Cook in Nov. of 2008.

June 23, 2006

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892) Describing Hypers on Reprobation

I have fancied I have seen in certain hyper-Calvinists a sort of Red Indian scalping-knife propensity; an ogre-like feeling with respect to, reprobation; a smacking of lips over the ruin and destruction of mankind; as to all of which, I can only say that it seems to me to be “earthly, sensual, devilish.” I cannot imagine a man, especially a man who has the Spirit of Christ in him, thinking of the ruin of mankind with any other feeling than that which moved the soul of Christ when he wept over Jerusalem, crying, “How often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings!” Let no one imagine that the spirit of Calvinism is a spirit of hostility to universal humanity. It is not so. It is a perversion and a caricature of the expositions of Calvin and Augustine, and of the Apostle Paul, and of what our Master preached, to represent us as thinking with complacency of the ruin of any one of the human race.
Charles Spurgeon, "Sermon #3412: The Heavenly Rainbow," MTP, 60:390.

On some Reformed blogs and in comment threads, one can see this same "smacking of the lips" even today. I see it, but many Calvinists don't. It's excused and overlooked, so long as the person is seeking to refute Arminianism. So long as you are seeking to refute the common enemy of free will theology, you can get away with treating people poorly, as well as besmirching the character of God in the name of defending divine sovereignty.

June 21, 2006

Caricatures of Hyper-Calvinism: Some Notes on Preaching to All

Updated and reorganized on 5-24-2020.

"I'm not a hyper-Calvinist! I think we should preach to all. I am not against evangelism." Ever heard that before? It's quite common. Some Reformed people (among others) today often create a caricatured view of hyper-Calvinism when they respond to critics (sometimes so that they are not identified with it or don't look so close to it themselves, but often just out of ignorance). From what they say, one would think that hyper-Calvinists didn't (or don't) believe one should preach to all. That is not accurate historically, as several sources indicate.

Dr. Curt Daniel wrote this in his dissertation:
In spite of their theological position on other points, the Hyper-Calvinists have stressed the primacy of preaching in a way that surprises many of their critics. Contrary to the opinion of some opponents, they nearly always believed that the Gospel is to be preached indiscriminately to all men. This is not a minority view either, nor a later development, for we find it from the very beginning. Hussey gave as the first answer to the question above [i.e. the question: "How must we preach the Gospel, if we do not offer the Gospel"], “We must preach the doctrine of salvation to all sinners, in general, within the hearing.” The same opinion can be found in the special subject of our study, Dr. John Gill: “the Gospel is to be preached to all.” Of course, this applies only to rational creatures; but as all men have the natural duty to hear and believe what God reveals to them, so the preacher has the duty to preach and proclaim to all.
Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 1983), 448–449. Elsewhere he said: "Numerous Hyper-Calvinists have appealed not only to Hussey's Operations but even to the very title of the book to substantiate their claims that we can preach but not offer" (ibid., 408, n. 55).

And then in another book, he said:
With the exception of a few extreme Primitive Baptists, all Hyper-Calvinists have believed that we are to "preach" the Gospel to all, but "offer" it to none. Preach, explain, command—yes. Offer—no. Some have also quibbled over the word "invite", arguing that we can only invite "sensible [convicted] sinners", not sinners in general. All this is related to anti-missionism.
Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield: Good Books, 2003), 89. "They [hyper-Calvinists] say we can preach [to all] but not offer" (Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism [Darlington, UK: Evangelical Press, 2019], 104).

What the classic hyper-Calvinists were against was free offers, particularly if one is suggesting in the indiscriminate offer that God wills the eternal well-being or eternal salvation of every man who hears the gospel call. They were not necessarily against preaching to all as such.

As The Gospel Standard (hyper-Calvinistic) Baptist confession said in Article 29:
While we believe that the Gospel is to be preached in or proclaimed to all the world, we deny offers of grace; that is to say, that the gospel is to be offered indiscriminately to all.
Articles of Faith and Rules (Harpenden, UK: Gospel Standard Trust Publications, 2008), 35.

In the recent "True Church Conference" on hyper-Calvinism, notice what Dr. Michael Haykin said about John Gill’s rejection of free offers:
He admitted that the “gospel is indeed ordered to be preached to every creature to whom it is sent and comes….Gill stated, “that there are universal offers of grace and salvation made to all men, I utterly deny.” Not even to the elect does God make an “offer” of salvation.
Iain Murray said the same thing about hyper-Calvinists preaching to all:
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.
Gerald Priest wrote the following in the Denver Baptist Theological Journal:
What troubled Robert Hall and certainly Andrew Fuller was the fact that, for all his assertions of proclaiming the gospel to everyone, Gill undervalued the general call when insisting upon the effectual call.
Robert Oliver (who thinks Gill was a hyper-Calvinist), writing in the Banner of Truth, said:
As Dr [Tom] Nettles shows, he [Gill] did believe in evangelism, as, in fact, many other Hyper-Calvinists have done.
David Gay wrote:
Hypers, I acknowledge, claim they do preach the gospel to all, but Spurgeon was referring to the fact that they limit the gospel invitation to the sensible. Giving the invitation to all, however, is an essential part of preaching the gospel to every creature; without it, the gospel is not being preached as it should be.
David H. J. Gay, The Gospel Offer is Free: A Reply to George Ella’s Rejection of the Gospel Offer, 2nd ed. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; England: Brachus, 2012), 179n35. Spurgeon referred to "...those ultra-Calvinistic theologians who say, 'You may instruct and warn the ungodly, but you must not invite or entreat them'" (Spurgeon, "On Conversion as Our Aim," in Second Series of Lectures to My Students [Grand Rapids, Baker, 1978], 186). Notice that the hyper-Calvinists were for instructing and warning the ungodly, but not for inviting and entreating them.

These men all agree with Daniel's historical analysis above.

In many places Phil Johnson has echoed the same point. In his Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, he said:
Some common (but not quite precise) definitions: Hyper-Calvinism is sometimes defined as the view that God will save the elect apart from any means. Some, but very few, modern hyper-Calvinists hold such an extreme view. Those who do hold this view oppose all forms of evangelism and preaching to the unsaved, because they believe God will save whomever He chooses, apart from human means.
He continued:
Many modern hyper-Calvinists salve themselves by thinking their view cannot really be hyper-Calvinism because, after all, they believe in proclaiming the gospel to all. However, the "gospel" they proclaim is a truncated soteriology with an undue emphasis on God's decree as it pertains to the reprobate. One hyper-Calvinist, reacting to my comments about this subject on an e-mail list, declared, "The message of the Gospel is that God saves those who are His own and damns those who are not." Thus the good news about Christ's death and resurrection is supplanted by a message about election and reprobation—usually with an inordinate stress on reprobation. In practical terms, the hyper-Calvinist "gospel" often reduces to the message that God simply and single-mindedly hates those whom He has chosen to damn, and there is nothing whatsoever they can do about it.

Deliberately excluded from hyper-Calvinist "evangelism" is any pleading with the sinner to be reconciled with God. Sinners are not told that God offers them forgiveness or salvation. In fact, most hyper-Calvinists categorically deny that God makes any offer in the gospel whatsoever.

The hyper-Calvinist position at this point amounts to a repudiation of the very gist of 2 Corinthians 5:20: "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." The whole thrust of the gospel, properly presented, is to convey an offer (in the sense of a tender, a proffer, or a proposal) of divine peace and mercy to all who come under its hearing. The apostle's language is even stronger, suggesting the true gospel preacher begs sinners to be reconciled to God—or rather he stands "in Christ's stead," pleading thus with the sinner. Hyper-Calvinism in essence denies the concept of human responsibility, and so it must eliminate any such pleading, resulting in a skewed presentation of the gospel.
Phil Johnson (at 3:02 PM on October 08, 2007) also said this in response to a comment his blog. First, Dave Crater said: "Hyper-calvinism means something very specific: the idea that evangelism is incompatible with predestination." Phil then responded:
I've read most of the major published works on hyper-Calvinism ranging from Iain Murray to Peter Toon to David Engelsma. I've also read several unpublished academic works on the subject. And I don't know of a single serious student of the subject that would accept your definition.
At 9:18 AM on October 09, 2007, he also said to him:
Hyper-Calvinists may or may not deny the need for "evangelism." Most actually would not. What they do typically deny is that the gospel constitutes a well-meant proposal of mercy to all, or that it calls all hearers (rather than the elect alone) to faith and repentance.

(There are several similar and related errors that are either characteristic of hyper-Calvinism or tend strongly towards hyper-Calvinism. I outlined some of these in my article [or Primer] on hyper-Calvinism.)

The point here, however, is that to reduce your definition of hyper-Calvinism (as you did) to "the belief that evangelism is incompatible with predestination" is to define it in a deliberately reductionistic way that actually removes the true distinguishing characteristics of hyper-Calvinism from the definition.
One can see all of these men (Daniel, Haykin, Murray, Priest, Oliver, Gay, Carson, and Johnson), who have studied the issue, rightly admitting that most hyper-Calvinists believed in “preaching” to all men. What classic hyper-Calvinists were actually against were free “offers,” since “offers” presuppose certain theological issues they viewed as problematic (i.e., conditionalism in the New Covenant, man’s ability to accept, God’s willingness to give, an objective sufficiency in Christ's death for all, etc.), or contrary to the “doctrine of sovereign grace.”

Modern forms (or the Dutch/American variety) of hyper-Calvinism, which also believes in preaching to all, sometimes prefer to redefine "offers" rather than reject "offers of grace" outright, since the language is quite confessional.

June 19, 2006

My Theological Background (Part 2)

Part 1 can be found here:

As a High Calvinist, I listened to all the popular teachers on the subject, such as John Gerstner, R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur and many others. I was constructing a theological system on that paradigm. I was trying to think through all of the fine details in order to make sense of God and his revelation. The internet provided a venue in which to discuss these matters in greater detail.

By the time I found Paltalk (an internet voice chat program I found back in 2002 or 2003?), I had a very commercial view of the death of Christ. His death was literally a case of so much suffering (to justly match what was imputed) for so much sin (the sins of the elect alone). This was Equivalentism and limited imputation combined. I denied that Christ's death was sufficient for all on this basis, and some of these ideas were gathered from Tom Nettles' book By His Grace and For His Glory. Equivalentism is the strictest form of limited atonement. It affected how I thought about God, all of redemptive history and many biblical passages. Everything was exclusively filtered through God's purpose in the eternal Covenant of Redemption.

While we were in a Calvinistic chat room in paltalk, a friend of mine began to warn people against the errors of hyper-Calvinism as it relates to the well-meant offer of the gospel, since some who came in the room were hyper on that point (as well in their denial of common grace). This was new to me at the time so I listened to her carefully (God bless you Annie :-). I was confused at first, so I decided to study the matter further.

Believers Chapel had a copy of Dr. Curt Daniel's doctoral dissertation on Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (about 900 pages) so I borrowed it. I thoroughly enjoyed the wealth of information in it, but it was descriptive rather than prescriptive. The theological alternatives were set forth, but very few answers to the problems and complexities were given. Eventually I found Dr. Daniel's audio lectures on The History and Theology of Calvinism online. This was a great help.

I began to see how the love of God in common grace was related to the well-meant gospel offer and duty-faith, and this resulted in God's revealed will being revived in my thinking. My focus was no longer narrowly decretal as it once was. I never had a problem with God loving all men or with the notion of common grace, but the well-meant gospel offer was a problem in the past. I never explicitly denied it, but my inclinations were against it, until I studied the matter in greater detail. This went on while I listened to paltalk conversations between historic Calvinists and hyper-Calvinists. The situation on the chat program was getting worse and worse. Baptistic hyper-Calvinists were joined by Protestant Reformed Church hypers in our rooms, and their conception of God was so distorted that it made me sick. Since I saw how close I used to be to them on the subject of the well-meant offer, I determined to study all of the related subjects in order to thoroughly weed out any hyper tendencies in my own thinking. During this time I did a radio interview on hyper-Calvinism (in 2004) with Gene Cook of UnchainedRadio.

After some time of study, I couldn't figure out how to relate the well-meant offer to Christ's death. My commercialistic conceptions of the death of Christ seemed incompatible with it. How can God sincerely offer a strictly limited remedy to everyone who hears the gospel? My Equivalentism (Christ's strictly limited suffering for the elect alone) was clashing with my adherence to the well-meant offer. This tension existed for awile until I met another friend who argued for a classical Calvinstic dualism. I was immediately suspicious of him (God bless you David :-). He seemed to be an "Amyraldian." I didn't know what it was (except that it was called "four-point Calvinism"), but it couldn't be a good thing. Anything other than my conception of "limited atonement" seemed to threaten my entire Calvinistic construct, so I was spooked. He sent me some papers on the subject so I continued to study the matter.

I was amazed to see how Calvinists have historically differed on the subject. This was not the sort of historical picture I was used to seeing, yet the sources and quotes were carefully documented and accurate. The tension in my thinking stemming from my adherence to the well-meant offer and limited atonement was relieved when I came to understand a dual reference theory, i.e. that Christ intended to suffer for all sufficiently, but only for the elect effectually. If one is allowed to think of the revealed will as associated with volition/intention (i.e. as really a "will" or active principle in God), then a dual reference theory makes alot of sense. If volition and/or intention are only related to the decretal will, then it doesn't. Those who only relate intention with the decree are unable to see it. Their vision is not stereoscopic.

I started my Theological Meditations blog (June 2005) shortly after the time I changed into a dualistic position. This should help people to understand why I have written so much about subjects related to it. These Calvinistic changes have made a significant impact in all of my thinking about God and his word, and I want others to share in what I believe to be true and the fruits of my study. If they are slow and reluctant to do so, I can relate to that. The process was slow for me as well, but well worth it. One should test all things and hold fast to what is good (or in accord with scriptural theology).

This provides a small glimpse into my theological background and I hope it serves to explain my present passions. I pray that God's truth shall prosper in his church and that His name be glorified in all things. If I have written anyting that is true, I hope the church takes it to heart. If I have written anything that is false, I hope that it is stricken from her memory by God's grace.


Norman F. Douty (1899–1993) on The Charge of Amyraldianism

I've been meaning to post this material by Norman F. Douty for some time now. Since I have discussed something of the nature and charge of "Amyraldism" in my last two posts, I will make this the last one for now. Douty writes:
The Charge of Amyraldianism

Derogatory terms are useful in disparaging what people do not approve, and “Amyraldianism” is one of them. As in most other instances, the user generally has no definite understanding of the term’s origin. Because of this, something should be said about Moses Amyraldus (the Latinized form of Moise Amyraut) and his views.

Moise Amyraut (1596–1664) was a Calvinist, not an Arminian. It was Calvin’s Institutes that induced him to shift from the pursuit of law to that of theology. At Saumur, in France, he eagerly studied this masterpiece under the Scotsman, Cameron, and later (in 1633) he became Professor of Theology there. The following year he published his Treatise on Predestination, which led to a succession of accusations against him (in 1637, 1644 and 1659), each time followed by exoneration on the part of his French brethren. Ernest Friedrich Karl Mueller, once Professor of Reformed Theology in the University of Erlangen, states:
In France the harmlessness of his teaching was generally recognized; and the controversy would soon have died out but for the continual agitation kept up abroad, especially in Holland and Switzerland.
Those who wish to see a brief summary of Amyraut’s numerous productions – 90 of them, plus many separately published theses – may consult Roger Nicole’s article on “Amyraldianism.” In his last years, Amyraut avoided controversial subjects and dwelt much on the theme of Christian ethics. Brian G. Armstrong’s Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy deals extensively with Amyraut’s writings; his bibliography covers no less than 30 pages. In one place he says: “There are many passages in which he [Calvin] makes the universal reference of Christ’s atoning work quite explicit.”

According to Mueller, Amyraut’s
main proposition is this: God wills all men to be saved, on condition that they believe—a condition which they could well fulfill in the abstract, but which, in fact, owing to inherited corruption, they stubbornly reject, so that this universal will for salvation actually saves no one.
This simply means that God’s will to save everyone is His kindly disposition, not His sovereign determination—which does not differ in essence from what I have cited from Crawford, Hodge, Stonehouse and Murray in my second chapter. Mueller continues:
God also wills in particular to save a certain number of persons, and to pass over the others with this grace. The elect will be saved as inevitably as the others will be damned. But those who are passed over and damned are persons who resist God’s offer of salvation. The essential point, then, of Amyraldianism is the combination of a real particularism with a purely ideal universalism.—
the former expressing the divine sovereignty, the latter the divine benignity.

Some of Amyraut’s views do not commend themselves to us, such as his assertion of a conditional predestination of the non-elect, and his denial of the imputation to believers of Christ’s active obedience. But neither do some of the reasonings of his critics, William Cunningham and George Smeaton strike us as solid and conclusive. The air of superiority and finality of these two authors—to the utter disparagement of all those theologians who think otherwise on this subject—is reprehensible indeed. It is such examples that encourage arrogance in men of far less learning, but, I fear, of far more self-assurance.

It is repeatedly apparent that the effort to downgrade the idea of General Redemption by the use of the term “Amyraldian” is simply a confession of inability to cope with the substantial arguments for that position, if not of an actual indisposition to come to grips with the real issues in the case. It is so much easier to employ derogatory terms.
Norman F. Douty, Did Christ Die Only For the Elect? (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 164–166.

See also Norman F. Douty Describes Dualism

June 17, 2006

A Theological Boogyman

If you've seen M. Night Shyamalan's movie The Village, then you will have a good illustration of how a boogyman can be used to keep children in line. In order to protect some children in the village, the parents made up stories about creatures in the forest. One should not enter their territory or cross the established barriers. The creatures in the forest appeared to be very frightening, with horns, fangs and long claws. Occassionally the children were allowed to see the creatures so that they would be afraid and stay within the village boundaries. According to one description, The Village is "An isolated, tight-knit community" that "lives in mortal fear of an oppressive evil inhabiting the forbidden forest just beyond their tiny village. So frightening that no one ventures into the woods..."

The only problem is, the creatures in the forest were fake. They didn't really exist as they were portrayed by the parents.

I thought this movie could be used to further illustrate what I was saying about Moise Amyraut in the post below. Amyraut is a theological boogyman to the high Calvinists today. High Calvinistic leaders (like the parents in The Village) use the label "Amyraldian" in order to keep their children within "safe" borders. It's like saying to them, "don't go there or that boogyman will get you!"

June 16, 2006

Roger Nicole Quoting John Quick's (1636–1706) Synodicon

Moise Amyraut was a dualist on the design and nature of Christ's death (or a double reference theorist), and not an unqualified universalist on the point. If one read's John Quick's Synodicon in Gallia Reformata: or, The Acts, Decisions, Decrees and Canons of the Seven Last National Councils of the Reformed Churches in France (1692), they will see this:
They [the Amyraldians] declared That Jesus Christ died for all Men sufficiently, but for the Elect only effectually: and that consequently his Intention was to die for all men in respect of the Sufficiency of his Satisfaction, but for the Elect only in respect of it's quickening and saving virtue and efficacy; which is to say, that Christ's will was that the sacrifice of his cross should be of infinite price and value, and most abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world; yet nevertheless the efficacy of his death appertains only unto the elect; so that those who are called by the preaching of the gospel, to participate by faith in the effects and fruits his death, being invited seriously, and God vouchsafing them all eternal means needful for their coming to him, and showing them in good earnest, and with the greatest sincerity by his Word, what would be well-pleasing to him, if they should not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but perish in their obstinacy and unbelief; this cometh not from any defect of virtue or sufficiency in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, nor yet for want of summons or serious invitations unto faith or repentance, but only from their own fault. And as for those who do receive the doctrine of the gospel with the obedience of faith, they are according to the irrevocable promise of God, made partakers of the effectual virtue and fruit of Christ Jesus's death; for this was the most free counsel and gracious purpose both of God the Father, in giving his Son for the salvation of mankind, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, in suffering the pains of death, that the efficacy thereof should particularly belong unto all the elect, and to them only, to give them justifying faith, and by it to bring them infallibly unto salvation, and thus effectually to redeem all those and none other, who were from all eternity from among all people, nations, tongues, chosen unto salvation.
Quoted in Roger Nicole, Moyse Amyraut (1596–1664) and The Controversy on Universal Grace: First Phase (1634-1637), 110. See Quick's Synodicon, Vol. ii. p. 354. This quote also appears in Andrew Robertson, History of the Atonement Controversy in Connexion with Secession Church (Edinburgh, Oliphant, 1846), 323-325.

In most critiques of Amyraut, he is dealt with as if he was an unqualified universalist on the "atonement" (Even Nicole assumes it when he begins to argue against Amyraut's position, despite what the quote above says. J. I. Packer does the same thing when criticizing Richard Baxter's dualistic position). It's not true, but it's pervasive in most secondary sources. It's why he's smeared or misrepresented as a "four-point" Calvinist by his critics.

I mentioned to a friend recently that Amyraut is probably more misunderstood than Calvin, but he rightly corrected me. He said that Calvin is more misunderstood because his writings are available for most people to read, and yet he's still not understood. Most of Amyraut's writings are either in Latin or French so people are only acquainted with the secondary sources, and most of these are from his staunch critics. His Brief Treatise on Predestination has been translated into English by Richard Lum in 1985.

Quoting the above material about Amyraut (or speaking about him as I have) to modern high Calvinists (or just putting it on my blog) is like showing the cross to Dracula. It's as if such ideas are a Trojan Horse to them. It's like it's worse than Arminianism because some unseen enemies will come sneaking out of the "friendly" Amyraldian horse at night to kill "consistent" Calvinism. That perception is due to the prevailing misconceptions about Amyraut's teaching, as if he's a "four-point" Calvinist etc. Did he make some mistakes ideologically and verbally? Sure he did, but he's not as bad as some say. Frankly, the man has been successfully smeared, and anyone who even seems theologically close to him will be smeared as well, such as James Ussher, Richard Baxter, John Davenant, John Preston, Edward Polhill and Edmund Calamy.

June 13, 2006

On the Ambiguity of the "Elect" Term

James White says in his article that, "It is silly to think that 'elect' is an imprecise term." He could have just said that he doesn't think the term is imprecise. However, with a great deal of dogmatism, he says that it's "silly" to think that it's imprecise.

Ok, then let me ask the following question: are the "elect" under the wrath or condemnation of God?

If the term is precise—not imprecise or fuzzy, as I have claimed—then just answer the question without making distinctions. If you answer by simply saying "yes" to the above question, then I can go to Romans 8:33 and show how the "elect" (i.e. the believing elect) are no longer under the wrath of God. They are justified in his sight.

NKJ Romans 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.

If you answer by simply saying "no," then I can go to Ephesians 2:3 and prove that the unbelieving elect were once children of wrath by nature, even as the rest of lost humanity.

NKJ Ephesians 2:3 among whom also we [i.e. the "chosen" or elect ones according to chapter 1 verse 4] all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

If you reply to the question by saying, "Well, it depends on what you mean by the 'elect' term," then you have proved my point and refuted White's statement above. It's not "silly" to think that the "elect" term is imprecise. A cautious exegete would want to be careful when using the word. The term "elect" itself is perfectly biblical, but one should watch how it's used in various contexts. Finding one sense of the term "elect" in one location (such as 2 Tim. 2:10, where White quickly goes in his article, without pausing to consider that Paul may have Israel in mind) doesn't necessarily warrant using the same sense of that term in other contexts (such as in 1 Peter 1:2). The same goes with the term "saved" or "salvation."

I am not making the distinctions needlessly. If you are aware of how significant mistakes can be made by using the ambiguous word "saved," then you can realize how the same thing can happen with the term "elect."

Some people use the term "saved" or "salvation" to mean:

1) Mere regeneration before conversion (some antinomians and hyper-Calvinists tend to use the term "saved" in this sense).

2) For conversion or justification through faith.

3) For sanctification.

4) For glorification.

If you heard someone say that you needed to be sanctified in order to be "saved," you might be alarmed. You might say "legalism!" If you heard someone that you don't have to do anything in order to be "saved" (sense #1), you might say, "antinomian!" If you heard someone say that you must believe to be "saved," you would think that's normal because we usually use "saved" in sense #2, but we would also remark that there are other biblical contexts in which senses 3 and 4 are the meaning.

Making these distinctions for the "saved" term can help certain confused people. I'm just trying to point out that certain confusions can also take place when people start employing the term "elect." The term isn't bad (it is just as biblical as the term "saved"). It's just the case that few people think critically about their use of the "elect" in argumentation, and so equivocation fallacies may take place.

June 12, 2006

2 Peter 3:9 and James White's Blog

James White has decided to engage some of my arguments on 2 Peter 3:9 and the Letterhead Argument, for which I am thankful. However, he does not credit me for the expressions and arguments by name, or by linking to my blog where he found them. For this reason, I sent him the following email:

If you are going to lift words off of my blog and paste them on yours, I would like to be credited by name please. Give the source of my blog post on yours. I own the form of the expressions. Even if you think the words and arguments are complete trash, you need to credit me for speaking such nonsense.

It strikes me as unethical to lift my words and put them on your blog without crediting me. If I ever quote you, I will link to you or type the source so people can read for themselves.

Please rectify this situation...thanks,

I hope he decides to comply with my request. He writes as if he is quoting me from the Founders blog when he is pasting my words from this blog, not my words from some other blog.

I will try to address his 2 Peter 3:9 arguments and statements as soon as possible.

If others reading this blog would like to quote me or address my arguments, then please give the source so people can read for themselves, test the arguments and arrive at the truth, whatever it may be. I will return the favor. It seems to be the ethical thing to do.

I just sent this email note as well:

I would sincerely request that you link to the sources on my blog that you quote from. I am not so interested in getting the traffic as in getting people to consider my original words in contrast to your arguments. They need to be able to compare and contrast. Also, I am interested in seeing fellow Christians behave ethically in the blogosphere. I need to be exhorted to do the same thing, and I have been so exhorted by good Christian friends. Here are the original links to put on your blog:

2 Peter 3:9 and the Letterhead Argument

Matthew 23:37 Calvinistically Considered
I also emailed this to him:
Hi James,

What do you mean by "personal"? I only want you to credit the sources that you quote, especially when they are my words. I think the Christian community should be able to investigate the primary sources for themselves and to arrive at the truth, whatever it may be.

If my arguments on 2 Peter 3:9 are so "silly," then citing the source for your quotes could only work in your favor. Why not give me credit for speaking and arguing in such a "silly" way?

It's not my desire to make this "personal." I simply want ethical behavior in the blogosphere. If you want that as well, then link to the sources that you quote please. To not do so seems unethical to me.

Then I saw the following on his blog:

UPDATE #1: Here's White's response on his blog:
Tony Byrne Demands Free Advertising

Tony Byrne, the gentleman whose comments on 2 Peter 3:9 I addressed yesterday, has demanded I link to him now. No, he can't show any misrepresentation, but I guess he wants the traffic. I find it odd that he has been sniping at me on his own blog for months but if I dare demonstrate his arguments are self-refuting, non-exegetical, and vacuous, I have breached some code of ethics! He even claims he "owns" the "form of the expressions" to his argument! What an amazing thing: if I name names, I take heat for being "mean." If I refute arguments and leave names out of it, I'm unethical! Can't win for trying, it seems. So if you would like to compare how accurately I represented his original article, here it is. Of course, that is the same link I referred to on the Founder's blog, but I guess that isn't generating enough traffic. You will see that I interacted with his arguments with complete fairness and accuracy.
UPDATE #2 (12:08 pm 6-12-06):

As I said, I care about people being able to investigate primary sources so they can carefully consider the arguments and arrive at the truth, whatever it may be. I did not claim that his efforts to refute my arguments were unethical. I said that his quoting me without giving sources (or crediting me for what he pasted on his blog) was unethical. The careful reader will discern this in the above emails. Is it absurd of me to claim that I own the form of the expressions? It's true.

I would not have considered him mean if he merely named my name on his blog. It would just be like a footnote in a book. It's only mean when you name names in order to engage in personal attacks. The reader can decide whether or not that is taking place here.

I haven't yet made an effort to respond to his analysis of 2 Peter 3:9, so I don't see how he can conclude that I "can't" respond cogently.

UPDATE #3 (6-13-06 @ 9:22pm):

Some readers might think that I said he was "mean" for naming names on his blog since that term is in quotes. I have never called him mean for naming names, not that White is saying that I did in the post above. It may leave that impression to some readers who are casually glancing at that comment, so I just wanted to clarify the matter.

Naming names is "mean" when one seeks to smear that name by engaging in unnecessary personal attacks while making arguments. Naming names in order to credit your sources and to allow people to investigate matters for themselves is not mean. We should all be concerned to speak the truth accurately and to allow others to investigate primary sources carefully. I was never interested in "free advertising" or "traffic." I specifically told him that first in a private email, then he publicly slandered me as if that was my concern. However, I was very interested in getting the hundreds of people to read my material carefully in context in order to contrast it with what was being reported.