November 27, 2009

John Brentnall on John Calvin and the Free Offer

The issue of God's sincerity in freely offering salvation to the reprobate and to sinners wholly unable of themselves to respond, Calvin handles with due reverence. Who are we mortals to question the sincerity of the thrice-holy God? While we should humbly submit our minds to the truth that 'God desires nothing more earnestly than that those who are perishing and rushing to destruction should return into the way of safety', we should restrain ourselves from all prying into the 'indissoluble bond' between God's secret and revealed will. It should satisfy us that God's secret election is revealed by the outward call of the gospel, he warns. He adds indignantly that 'it would be a shocking sacrilege to carry the enquiry further; for that man offers an aggravated insult to the Holy Spirit who refuses to assent to his simple testimony'.

The furthest Calvin is prepared to go is to conclude that by the gospel call, God intends 'to draw to himself the elect', and at the same time 'to take away all excuse from the reprobate'. Here, we believe, is the heart of the problem. Certain Calvinists, who want all the questions answered to the satisfaction of their logic-tidy minds, are simply not prepared to stop reasoning where God is silent, and submit their restless intellects to the revealed will of God.
John Brentnall, "Calvin and the Free Offer," The Banner of Truth 383–384 (August–September 1995): 30–31.

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