April 28, 2010

Elnathan Parr (1577–1622) on Romans 10:21

I have stretched out my hands: As the Hen clocks her Chickens to her, putteth forth her wings, and spreads her feathers to cherish them with her warmth; or as a Mother calls her childe, and holds forth her arms to embrace it in tender affection: So did God deale with the Jewes, seeking to gather them into the bosome of his love.
Elnathan Parr, "Commentary on Romans," in The Works of that Faithful and Painful Preacher, Mr Elnathan Parr, 4th edition (London: Printed by Ed Griffen and Wi Hunt, 1651), 137.

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Elnathan Parr (1577–1622) on Romans 2:4

"Dost thou despise the riches? etc. It does not seem to me, as some think, that there is here an argument, conclusive on two grounds, (dilemma,) but an anticipation of an objection: for as hypocrites are commonly transported with prosperity, as though they had merited the Lord's kindness by their good deeds, and become thus more hardened in their contempt of God, the Apostle anticipates their arrogance, and proves, by an argument taken from a reason of an opposite kind, that there is a ground for them to think that God, on account of their outward prosperity, is propitious to them, since the design of his benevolence is far different, and that is, to convert sinners to himself. Where then the fear of God does not rule, confidence, on account of prosperity, is a contempt and a mockery of his great goodness. It hence follows, that a heavier punishment will be inflicted on those whom God has in this life favoured; because, in addition to their other wickedness, they have rejected the fatherly invitation of God. And though all the gifts of God are so many evidences of his paternal goodness, yet as he often has a different object in view, the ungodly absurdly congratulate themselves on their prosperity, as though they were dear to him, while he kindly and bountifully supports them.
Not knowing that the goodness of God, etc. For the Lord by his kindness shows to us, that it is he to whom we ought to turn, if we desire to secure our wellbeing, and at the same time he strengthens our confidence in expecting mercy. If we use not God's bounty for this end, we abuse it. But yet it is not to be viewed always in the same light; for when the Lord deals favourably with his servants and gives them earthly blessings, he makes known to them by symbols of this kind his own benevolence, and trains them up at the same time to seek the sum and substance of all good things in himself alone: when he treats the transgressors of his law with the same indulgence, his object is to soften by his kindness their perverseness; he yet does not testify that he is already propitious to them, but, on the contrary, invites them to repentance. But if any one brings this objection—that the Lord sings to the deaf as long as he does not touch inwardly their hearts; we must answer—that no fault can be found in this case except with our own depravity."
Elnathan Parr, "Commentary on Romans," in The Works of that Faithful and Painful Preacher, Mr Elnathan Par, London, (G.P. for Samuel Man, dwelling in Paul's Churchyard at the Signal of the Swan, 1633). No page number given below the citation in David Silversides, The Free Offer: Biblical & Reformed (Glasgow, Scotland: Marpet Press, 2005), 95–96. This quote does not appear in my 1651 edition of Parr's Works.

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April 26, 2010

One of Francis Turretin's Misrepresentations of Salmurian Theology

Grohman writes:
There is a significant difference between the orthodox and the Salmurians concerning what the object of election is. For the orthodox, the object of election is salvation. God the Father elects some certain people to be saved, and then these same people are given faith.[3] For the Salmurians, however, as Laplanche correctly points out, the object of election is the gift of faith, not salvation itself.[4] The Holy Spirit elects some certain people to receive the gift of faith, and then these same people receive salvation.[5] Both sides in this argument would agree that election is the cause of faith, or to put it the other way around, that faith is the effect of election. However, as we shall see in the next chapter, Turretin accuses the Salmurians of saying that foreseen faith, rather than God's good pleasure, is the cause of election.[6] If the Salmurians understood the object of election to be salvation, as Turretin does, then Turretin's accusation would be a valid one; however, by maintaining that the object of election is faith itself, the Salmurians apparently are not guilty of that particular charge.
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3. See Turretin's presentation of the Reformed order of the decrees, infra, p. 95.
4. Laplanche, p. 258.
5. Armstrong, pp. 218–220.
6 See infra, pp. 66–71.
Donald Davis Grohman, The Genevan Reactions to the Saumur Doctrines of Hypothetical Universalism: 1635–1685 (Th.D. thesis, Knox College, Toronto School of Theology, 1971), 47–48.

[Note that regarding the "orthodox" term, Grohman says, "We are using the term "orthodox" in this thesis to refer to the more conservative theologians who were in opposition to Amyraldianism. The term is used in this way by the seventeenth-century theologians themselves and by many modern writers in dealing with this period. We do not mean to imply by this term that all these "orthodox" theologians were in complete agreement among themselves on all issues." Ibid., 2, n.1.]

Grohman also says:
Turretin sees this issue [i.e. Is Foreseen Faith the Cause of Election?] as being a central one. He says that the whole Pelagian controversy, including the revival of Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism, hinges upon this question.1 He says that on this matter he is also in opposition to the Papists and the Arminians.2 In addition, he names two Saumur theologians, Testard and Cappel, with whom he disagrees.3

Turretin explains that Testard and Cappel believe that God decreed to give faith to man before electing him to life. Thus, they hold that predestination to life is the result of faith, which God foresees as a necessary condition to be met in those who are elected. Turretin makes clear his opposition to these two theologians by quoting each of them. He disagrees with Testard's statement that "no one would have deemed election to justification and glorification, if they had distinctly considered it to be from foreseen faith...."4 Turretin also objects to Cappel's statement that "destination to eternal life and glory, or the will of God concerning the glorification of man, is founded upon the condition of faith and repentance, but this condition God himself works in us."1 Turretin rejects these statements as being too "crude" and "dangerous," and as being a departure from the Reformed position.2
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1. Ibid., IV, xi, 1.
2. Ibid., IV, xi, 5–7.
3. Ibid., IV, xi, 8.
4. Testard, as qouted in ibid. Cf. Testard, Eirenikon..., thesis 289, p. 248. Turretin is actually quoting Testard out of context here. As we pointed out in Chapter I, Testard draws a distinction between election to salvation or justification and election to faith. He admits that election to justification is based upon foreseen faith (and this admission is what Turretin quotes), but he goes on to say that he believes that the proper understanding of election—that is, election to faith—is not based upon foreseen faith (see supra, pp. 47–48). Turretin is undoubtedly aware of the distinction which Testard makes concerning the object of election, since this distinction is rejected by the Helvetic Consensus Formula (which was written shortly before Turretin wrote his Institutio) (see Canon VI of the Consensus, Appendix III, infra, pp. 433–434). Apparently, Turretin considers Testard's distinction to be invalid and simply disregards it. Nicole, also citing thesis 289 of the Eirenikon, makes the same accusation as Turretin does (Nicole, p. 34, n. 56).

1. Louis Cappel, as quoted in Turretin, IV, xi, 8. Cf. Cappel in "Thesis theologicae de electione et reprobatione," pars posterior, Syntagma thesium theologicarum.... II, p. 113, par. 13.
2. Turretin, IV, xi, 8.
Donald Davis Grohman, The Genevan Reactions to the Saumur Doctrines of Hypothetical Universalism: 1635–1685 (Th.D. thesis, Knox College, Toronto School of Theology, 1971), 67–68.

Update on 8-27-14: Richard Muller, in one of his lectures at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, said that William Twisse believed election to faith was unconditional, but election to salvation was conditional. If Turretin wants to shoot arrows at Saumur theologians for teaching that, his arrows will also hit Twisse (and possibly Zanchi and Bucer) on the same point. For William Twisse's distinctions between an unconditional or absolute predestination to faith and a conditional predestination to salvation, see his The Riches of Gods Love unto the Vessells of Mercy, Consistent With His Absolute Hatred or Reprobation of the Vessells of Wrath (Oxford: Printed by L. L. and H. H. Printers to the University, for Tho. Robinson, 1553), 1:174–178.

Update on 9-13-14: Here is one passage in Turretin that Grohman refers to above:
VIII. By the unanimous consent of the church, the Reformed maintain election to be purely gratuitous and that no foresight can be granted of faith or of works and merit--neither of congruity (meritum de congruo), nor  condignity (meritum de condigno). Nor is it an objection that some appear to think differently. While holding that election to salvation (according our manner of conceiving) is posterior to election to faith, they think God first decreed to give faith to man before destinating him to life. Thus they hold that predestionation glory and life is of faith as the condition foreseen by God in him who is elected (as Testard expresses it, "No one would have denied election to justification and glorification, if they had distinctly considered it to be from foreseen faith, and its object to be man believing, inasmuch believing"—Erinekon, Th. 289* [1631], p. 248). Capellus says, "Destination to eternal life and glory, or the will of God concerning the glorification of man, is founded upon the condition of faith, and repentance, but this condition God himself works in us" (Thesis 13, "Thesis theologicae de electione et reprobatione," in Syntagma thesim [1664], p. 113). For although this opinion on the subject of faith differs from those of the Arminians, yet because on others they approach nearer it and depart from the opinion thus far received in our churches (which have constantly contended for a purely gratuitous election without any foresight of faith or works), it is deservedly rejected as too crude and dangerous.
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, 3 vols. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992), 1:357.

April 22, 2010

Curt Daniel on the Common Grace Controversy

11. The Debate over Common Grace.

A. Most Hyper-Calvinists admit that there is a small remnant of mercy for the non-elect, called Common Grace. This pertains to them as creatures, not as elect or non-elect. Some say it postpones their judgment. Most say it has to do with the bounties of Providence. This is in agreement with the best of truly Reformed theology.

B. However, they greatly de-emphasize it. It sounds too Arminian. Herman Hoeksema and the Protestant Reformed Church completely reject all notions of Common Grace. Hoeksema’s logic is an extreme based on a distorted kind of Supralapsarianism. He argues that because of the double-decree of election and reprobation before the decree of the Fall, God has only love for the elect and only hatred for the reprobate.

C. This necessitates two corollaries, argues Hoeksema. First, the elect have never been under the wrath of God, for that means hatred. Second, the non-elect have never been under the love of God. Never the twain meet.

D. Mainstream Calvinists have great difficulty with this. First, Eph. 2:3 explicitly says that believers were once under the wrath of God “even as the rest.” Second, Scripture often speaks of God’s general love to all men as creatures (Psa. 145:9, Matt. 5:43-48, etc.). God commands us to love all men; does He command us to do what He Himself does not do? Mind you, this does not mean that Common Grace is saving - saving grace is special and particular.

E. Hoeksema had great difficulty with Calvin’s formula. Calvin said that it is not true that God had only love for some and only hatred for others. Rather, God had love and hatred for all men, but in differing ways. God hated all men because of sin, but had Common Grace on all because they were His creatures. Yet God had a special love for His elect, leaving the reprobate in the hatred their sins deserved. The real mystery, said Calvin, is that God could both love and hate the elect. But He did.
Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Sprinfield, Ill: Good Books, 2003), 91.

April 21, 2010

Bruce Ware on "God's Universal Saving Will"

Objection 3

Unconditional election stands directly opposed to God's own desire that all be saved. Out of his universal love for all, God has a universal desire for the salvation of all sinners. Ezekiel 18:23; 1 Timothy 2:4; and 2 Peter 3:9 all teach, in their own ways, that God does not desire the wicked to perish but rather that he wills that all be saved. Since this is taught in Scripture, it simply cannot be the case that God unconditionally wills that others certainly perish. Election, then, must be conditional upon the freewill choices of human beings who reject God's loving desire that all be saved.

Reply. My reply must be far briefer than this objection deserves, but thankfully other fine and more extensive treatments are available.40 The heart of the answer here is much like what we saw in the previous discussion. On the question of the will of God regarding salvation, the Bible represents God's saving will in two ways, not one. Yes, Arminians are correct to point to passages teaching the will of God that all be saved. And many Calvinists, including myself, will grant that these texts teach the universal saving will of God, much as I also am fully convinced that the Bible teaches the universal love of God for all people. But the Bible's teaching does not stop here. Rather, Scripture teaches also the specific and inviolable will of God that some surely and certainly be saved along with its teaching that God wills the salvation of all.41 The particular will of God surely and certainly to save some (i.e. the elect), stands alongside the universal saving will of God that all be saved. How can it be both ways? Consider just one pair of passages that illustrates these "two wills" of God, and then I'll offer a few summary comments.

First Timothy 2:3-4 (HCSB) states, "This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (italics added), and 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (HCSB) says, "The Lord's slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil's trap, having been captured by him to do his will" (italics added). One feature common to both of these passages is that for people to be saved, they need to come to the knowledge of, or to know, "the truth." Yet, while they share this in common, they differ insofar as in 1 Timothy 2:4 (HCSB) God "wants everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth," but in 2 Timothy 2:25 (HCSB), God must "grant them repentance" for them "to know the truth" and be saved.

In other words, God wills that all be saved, but unless God wills to grant repentance they cannot be saved. Or yet again, God wills both that all be saved, and God wills that only those to whom he grants repentance be saved. God's will, then, is both universal and particular, desiring in the first case that all be saved and in the second case that only some be saved.42

Perhaps two summary comments are in order. First, whether we can understand fully how it is that God can possess a universal love for all, along with a particular love for his own, or how God can possess a universal will that all be saved, along with a particular will that elects only some to be saved—whether we can grasp fully how both can be true—nevertheless, we are bound to the Scriptures! The Arminian view errs on these matters, not fundamentally by falsely teaching what the Bible says but by teaching only part of what the Bible says without accepting other teachings which do not easily fit with what already has been accepted. When half-truths become presented as whole truths, misrepresentation and error are inevitable. We must have a determination to accept all that Scripture teaches, and clearly it teaches both sets of truths on these issues.

Second, I do think we can understand something of how God can genuinely desire the salvation of all yet ordain and determine the salvation of only some.43 We can understand something of this because we experience much the same reality at times in our human experience. I recall watching a PBS special many years ago that told the story of an agonizing decision Winston Churchill had to make during WW II. Hitler's messages to his frontline troops and U-boats were sent to them encoded, and the German units possessed decoding machines (called "enigmas") to read and know what he was instructing them. Allied scientists developed their own version of such a decoding machine, and they would intercept Hitler's messages, decode them, and call Churchill, telling him what Hitler had instructed. On one occasion Churchill learned through his scientists' hard decoding work that Hitler had planned, in three days, to send a squadron of bombers over the English channel to bomb the small city of Coventry (a munitions factory lay just outside of the city). Obviously, Churchill wanted to call the mayor of Coventry, have the city evacuated, and save his people. But as recounted in this PBS special, Churchill never made this call. Instead, just as he had been told, German bombers flew over Coventry and bombed it mercilessly, unanticipated by all in the city, resulting in many English lives lost and much property destroyed.

Why didn't Churchill warn the city? The answer is this: if he had called the mayor of Coventry and had the city evacuated, the Germans would have known that Churchill had been able to decode Hitler's instructions. But then this intelligence-gathering advantage would be lost. Churchill believed that the entire war effort was at stake here, that is, that he could save Coventry, but he could not save these people and also win the war. He chose, then, not to save those whom he could have saved—those whom, in one sense, he willed very much to save—because he valued even more highly the fulfillment of the mission that the allied forces win the war.

Clearly all illustrations break down at some point, but where this one helps especially is here: One can possess both the will and the ability to save certain people, and this will can be genuine and the ability real. Yet one can also possess, at the same time, a will not to save those same persons whom one could have saved. Why would one not save those whom one both could and wants to save? Answer: One would will not to save only if there are greater values and higher purposes that could only be accomplished in choosing not to save those whom one could save, those whom one would otherwise want to save. Scripture does give us some indication that this is the case with God.

Consider Romans 9:22-24 (HCSB): "And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory—on us whom He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?" Here, as throughout all of Scripture, the glory of God is the supreme value of God. And so we, his creatures, must simply bow and accept what God in his infinite wisdom, holiness, goodness, and power has determined will bring to expression the greatest glory to his name. That both wrath and mercy, both deserved judgment and undeserved grace, both hell and heaven should be planned from all eternity by the perfect mind and heart of God, we must accept since God has told us that this is his ultimate will and that this alone will manifest the fullness of his matchless glory. In the end we must, in our own minds and hearts, let God be God. And we must honor him both for who he is and for the glorious display of his just wrath against deserving sinners as the backdrop for the manifestation of the splendor of his mercy, shown to others who likewise deserved only his condemnation but are now granted his gracious and glorious salvation in Christ.
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40. See, e.g., John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, trans. and ed. J. K. S. Reid (London: J. Clarke, 1961); Jonathan Edwards, "Concerning the Decrees in General, and Election in Particular," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), 2:536-34; Jewett, Election and Predestination, 97–101; and especially, John Piper, "Are There Two Wills in God?" in Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace, eds. Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 107–31. Piper's chapter in particular is enormously helpful in thinking through both biblical texts and issues that relate to this question.

41. Jewett notes that many Arminian and Lutheran theologians have also appealed to a version of the "two wills" doctrine since they all agree that God created a world in which he knew only some would be saved and others would perish. In this sense, God willed to create a world in which some people perish, but he also was willing that none perish, i.e., two wills are evident. Jewett states that following Dort (1618–1619), some "sought to resolve the problem of the divine will that all may be saved, whereas the assurance that some shall infallibly be saved reflects a consequent act of the divine will based on foreseen faith in those who accept the gospel offer" (Jewett, Election and Predestination, 98).

42. For helpful discussion of several more biblical examples of the two wills of God, see Piper, "Are There Two Wills in God?" 111–19.

43. See also, ibid., 122–31.

April 17, 2010

Walter Chantry on Luke 13:34-35

Luke 13:34-35 34 " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"


"This is love. This is divine love. Think about some of the implications of this statement for you. Jesus sees every sinner as a heedless chick in danger of destruction, willing that they be saved, eager to rush for their salvation, and to draw them under his wings." -- Chantry [min. 21:12-21:40]

April 12, 2010

Donald Dunkerley on "Hyper-Calvinism Today"

You are not likely to find it in any theological dictionary or encyclopedia, but there is a term that has been used to describe some who profess to be pure followers of John Calvin: Hyper-Calvinists.

Among those who have made free use of the term, Hyper-Calvinist, was John MacLeod. He uses it in his book, Scottish Theology, based on lectures delivered at Westminster Seminary in 1939. By the phrase he means, in particular, that view of Calvinism which holds that "there is no worldwide call to Christ sent out to all sinners, neither are all men bidden to take Him as their Savior."

Hyper-Calvinists, says Dr MacLeod, "maintain that Christ should be held forth or offered as Savior to those only whom God effectually calls."

What does Dr. MacLeod think of this approach to the Biblical doctrine of sovereignty? It is "a kind of preaching that sidetracks the Evangel and fences and hedges with elaborate restrictions the enjoyment of God's free salvation (and) like that of Hagar, engenders to bondage."

However, those among the Scottish Calvinists who historically "have restricted the offer of the Savior and of salvation in Him to the elect only have been almost neglible minority."

Hyper-Calvinism, then, refers to such an exaggerated emphasis on God's sovereignty that the effect is to cripple evangelism.

Strictly speaking, this is the view that, because God has an elect people He will infallibly save, therefore He does not love all, there is no offer of salvation to all and so there is also no obligation on us to proclaim an offer of salvation to all.

Hyper-Calvinism in this technical sense is the official theological position of certain denominations, such as the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists in England and the Protestant Reformed Church (of Dutch background) in our own country.

Some writers, such as the late John R. Rice, unfairly charge that all who hold to the so-called Five Points of Calvinism are, by definition, Hyper-Calvinists. But this is to confuse orthodox Calvinism with the unorthodox, to confound the normal with the abberation, and to reject as anti-evangelistic some of the most powerful Calvinistic evangelists of history, including John Bunyan, George Whitefield, David Brainerd and C. H. Spurgeon.

In the formal sense there are few Hyper-Calvinists among us, because it is part of our theological training to know that orthodox Calvinists accept and teach the free offer of the Gospel. Moreover, this offer is clearly taught in our Westminster standards. Chapter 6 of the Confession of Faith, speaking of God's work in the Covenant of Grace, says, "He freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him that they may be saved." (See also Larger Catechism question 32 and Shorter Catechism question 86.)

On the other hand, to say we are not Hyper-Calvinists in the formal sense because it is rejected by our creeds, does not mean that we have altogether escaped its influence. The spirit of Hyper-Calvinism is infectious. A person may still exaggerate God's sovereignty so that his evangelism is crippled, even though he knows better than to say there is no free offer of the Gospel.

In other words, if a man's understanding of God's sovereignty prevents him from offering the Gospel freely to sinners, he is a Hyper-Calvinist in practice even if he is not one in theory!

Le me give some examples.

As Reformed (Calvinsitic) Christians see it, the Bible teaches that, while God has a special love for His elect, there is also a general love of God for all. "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" says Ezekiel 18:23. The passage continues: "Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!" And II Peter 3:9 says, "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, bue everyone to come to repentance."

The Lord demonstrated a love for all. The rich young ruler hardly seems to be one of the elect, yet Mark 10:21 says, "Jesus looked at him and loved him." And Jesus sorrowed over the unrepentant city crying, "How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" (Matt. 23:37).

Yet there are those who tell us it is "un-Reformed" and wrong to say to [page 15 begins here] an unbeliever, "God loves you" or "Jesus loves you." Is this not Hyper-Calvinism?

Again, the orthodox Reformed faith teaches that, while the death of Christ was offered with special reference to the elect, it looks beyond, for it effects a free offer of the Gospel to all, it is sufficient for the sins of all and it removes all legal obstacles against anyone's coming to God.

Yet there are those who tell us it is "un-Reformed" and wrong to say to an unbeliever, "Christ died for you." Is this not Hyper-Calvinism?

I remember a seminary student who insisted at a conference that it is wrong to say to unbelievers, "God loves you" and "Christ died for your sins." When asked what he did with John 3:16, he replied, "John 3:16 is a very difficult verse. I would never preach from John 3:16."

Do we wonder that some Calvinists themselves show so little love and concern for the souls of those going to hell when, according to them, it is wrong to speak of God having such love and concern?

Hyper-Calvinists will say that God saves those that believe, but they will not invite any to believe, much less plead with any to believe, because that would appear to deny the teaching that none are able to believe unless they are elect.

There are even some who are more genuinely Reformed but who announce the terms of salvation without ever appealing to sinners to come to Christ. Is this not Hyper-Calvinism?

Some not only themselves avoid inviting sinner to Christ, but for supposedly "Reformed" reasons object to anyone who does invite them, especially if he gives an "open invitation" to respond to Christ publicly. Is this objection also not Hyper-Calvinism?

Hyper-Calvinists believe the Gospel offers we read in the Bible are intended only for those who, in their language, are "felt sinners." That is, such persons feel the guilt and condemnation of their sin because they have received already such conviction as the Holy Spirit only gives to the elect. Gospel invitations, therefore, are for those who already evidence their election by severe conviction. Is this not Hyper-Calvinism?

But what of those who do not evidence this conviction? The Hyper-Calvinist would not tell him, "Come to Jesus, just as you are," for he regards such counsel as spurious un-Reformed "decisionism." The Hyper Calvinist would tell him to prepare himself for grace by reading and hearing the Word, through which God might sovereignly give him repentance and salvation.

The Hyper-Calvinist rejects "decisionism" in favor of "preparationism."

By rejecting "decisionism," the Hyper-Calvinist objects to more than simply inviting all men to decide for Christ. He protests also against attempting to give immediate assurance of salvation to those who decide. "I believe, therefore, I am saved," is a type of assurance that offends the Hyper-Calvinist, who believes that one can know he is saved only when he has many good works to attest that he is truly elect of God.

Salvation may be by grace but, for the Hyper-Calvinist, assurance of salvation is more by works. For assurance they do not so much look to the cross of Christ as they look within for evidences of grace.

I remember once hearing a prominent Calvinist preacher inveighing against decisionism and the immediate assurance of salvation that God sometimes sends. "You must be saved for at least three years before you have accumulated enough good works to be sure that you are truly saved and not just a stony-ground-hearer," he said.

This view affects evangelism. The message becomes, "Ho, everyone that thirsts: Come to the waters. But the waters will not assuage your thirst and you will not be sure you are drinking, until you have been drinking for three years."

That preacher would object to being called a Hyper-Calvinist. But I wonder!

There are, I believe, many who profess to believe in the free offer of the Gospel, but are Hyper-Calvinists in practice. They fail to practice what they say they believe. They fail to tell people that God loves them and that there is benefit in Christ's atonement for them. They refrain from pleading with people to come to Christ just as they are and from giving them assurance of salvation when they come.

David Brainard, the 18th-century Presbyterian evangelist to the American Indians, described an amazing spiritual movement which brought amy of his hearers to Christ. He said, "This great awakening, this surprising concern, was never excited by any harangues of terror, but always appeared most remarkable when I insisted upon the compassions of a dying Savior, the plentiful provisions of the Gospel and the free offers of divine grace to needy distressed sinners; this work of grace having begun and carried on by almost one continued strain of Gospel invitation to perishing sinners."

Such compassionate evangelism is what we lack and urgently need in our day.
Donald A. Dunkerley, "Hyper-Calvinism Today," in The Presbyterian Journal (November 18, 1981): 14–15. The article says, "The author is a full-time preaching evangelist with the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship. Formerly, he was pastor of the McIlwain Memorial Church of Pensacola, Fla., and director of the Pensacola Theological Institute. He lives in Pensacola."

April 6, 2010

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) on Matthew 5:45

The first thing, of necessity, is that our treatment of others must never depend upon what they are, or upon what they do to us. It must be entirely controlled and governed by our view of them and of their condition. Clearly that is the principle which He enunciates. There are people who are evil, foul and unjust; nevertheless God sends rain upon them and causes the sun to shine upon them. Their crops are fructified like the crops of the good man; they have certain benefits in life, and experience what is called 'common grace'. God does not bless only the efforts of the Christian farmer; no, at the same time He blesses the efforts of the unjust, the evil, the unrighteous farmer. That is a common experience. How does He do so? The answer must be that God is not dealing with them according to what they are or according to what they do to Him What is it, if one may ask such a question with reverence, that governs God's attitude to them? The answer is that He is goverened by His own love which is absolutely disinterested. In other words, it does not depend upon anything that is in us, it is in spite of us. 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' What made Him do it? Was it something loving, or lovely, or lovable in us or in the world? Was it something that stimulated the eternal heart of love? Nothing whatsoever. It was entirely and altogether in spite of us. What moved God was His own eternal heart of love unmoved by anything outside itself. It generates its own movement and activity—an utterly disinterested love.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Love your Enemies,” in Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), 1:303–304.
God looks down upon this world and sees all the sin and shame, but He sees it as something that results from the activity of Satan. There is a sense in which He sees the unjust man in a different way. He is concerned about him and about his good and welfare, and He therefore causes the sun to shine upon him and sends the rain upon him. Now we must learn to do that. We must learn to look at other people and say: 'Yes, they are doing this, that and the other to me. Why? They are doing it because they are dupes of Satan; because they are governed by the god of this world and are his helpless victims. I must not be annoyed. I see them as hell-bound sinners. I must do everything I can to save them.' That is God's way of doing it. God looked at this sinful, arrogant, foul world, and He sent His only begotten Son into it to save it because He saw its condition. What was the explanation of that? He did it for our good and our welfare. And we must learn to do this for other people. We must have a positive concern for their good. The moment we begin to think of it like this it is not so difficult to do what He asks us to do. If we know in our hearts something of this compassion for the lost and the sinful and those who are perishing, then we shall be able to do it.
Ibid., 1:305.

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