January 16, 2007

Two Erroll Hulse Quotes from The Great Invitation

The Bible declares clearly and unmistakably that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live (Ezek. 33:11). This pleasure is in people, not an abstract principle. In other words God is declaring of any sinner whatsoever that he has no pleasure in his destruction or punishment, but rather pleasure in his turning and living. He is not saying that he is delighting in a principle as an engineer might delight in equations and formulas. This pleasure is in people personally as individuals.
Erroll Hulse, The Great Invitation (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 1986), 64.

The above quote is significant because some "Calvinists," in seeking to avoid the idea that God desires the salvation of all (even the non-elect), say that God delights in the principle of repentance, but not that he wants John Doe Non-Elect (a particular person) himself to repent. They say that God delights when sinners repent, not that He delights that a particular person repent.
The motivation and strength to show real love for those outside the church is surely found in God himself. If he does not love them, we cannot expect to find the resources in him for us to love them!
Erroll Hulse, The Great Invitation (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 1986), 74.

It's a shame that the Reformed Baptist movement these days seems to be moving away from the influence of Hulse into significantly higher versions of Calvinism.

See also my post on Erroll Hulse on 2 Peter 3:9 in Reformation Today.

Update on 9-16-14:

Along the same lines as what Hulse says above, Ken Stebbins says the following, even though he (at the original time of this writing) had reservations about using the word "desire":
This [that which is spoken about in Ezek. 18:31-32; 33:11] is not just a delight or abhorrence in 'things' abstracted from the person as Owen (Death of Death p200) would have us believe. God's delight would be not just in repentance and faith as things in themselves--but in the wicked repenting and believing (This is not the same as saying He actually desires their salvation as we shall see later). Similarly His abhorrence would be not just in the concept of death. His abhorrence would be in the death of the wicked himself.

God may indeed delight to see His righteousness vindicated and His justice manifested in the death of the wicked. But He takes no delight in his actual death.

This would seem to be the plain and consistent meaning of the passages in Ezekiel. To say that God's delight is just in "things" and not in "persons performing those things" does not do justice to those passages.
K. W. Stebbins, Christ Freely Offered (Lithgow, Australia: Covenanter Press, 1996), 17–18.

The reason for Stebbins' reservations for using desire language, at least for the Ezekiel texts (and others) at the original time of this writing, is stated on page 20:
'To desire' has both constitutional and volitional overtones. It implies, not only a 'delight in' (constitutional), but a positive 'wish' or 'will' (volition). As such, the term is confusing, since we have seen that the Ezekiel passages speak of God's 'delight' as that which constitutes His nature, apart from, and prior to any consideration of decreeing or commanding. God's 'delight' refers to the very character of God; but 'desire' speaks not so much of His character, as of the volitional expression of that character.
Ibid., 20.

In his introduction to the second edition of this book written 20 years after, Stebbins said:
I would have liked to have revised this book before it was re-published, to express better what I have already said and to incorporate many of the helpful criticisms and suggestions that I have received over time; but I'm afraid that many other present commitments make that impossible. But one thing I wouldn't change is the central theme; I am more convinced than ever that a healthy church must be engaged in and committed to the full and free offer of the Biblical Gospel, centered on the work of Christ our Saviour upon the cross.
Ibid., 8.

Stebbins also acknowledges that the language of God’s desire for the salvation of all hearers of the gospel has been “used by nearly all reformed theologians from Calvin down to the present day” (ibid., 20).

1 comment:

David Ponter said...

G'day Tony,

I am convinced that many in the Reformed Baptist moving are going higher and higher in their 'Calvinism' because of the recent attempts to re-introduce John Gill into Baptist circles, with the attempt to exonerate him of all hyperist charges. More and more are buying into his para-calvinist categories such as the denial of the well-meant offer, and that God desires the salvation of all men.

Sometimes I think folk have forgotten the work of Fuller, Carey and Spurgeon, and how Gillite-hyperism really did debilitate Baptist churches. I think some of these folk are the true revisionists.

I am going to try and track down my old files and posts on Gill on th denial of the offer. I found gobs once and posted them on a Reformed list. I think I can find them in the archives of that list.

Take care,