December 31, 2006

A Few Free Offer Quotes

God invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the Gospel, but the ingratitude of the world is the reason why this grace, which is equally offered to all, is enjoyed by few.

Notice carefully that Calvin is saying that it is God himself that ultimately does the "indescriminate inviting" and "offering", and not merely that we, as ignorant humans, do so. Also, notice that he calls this universal offer of the Gospel a manifestation of God's "grace".
God offers Christ's sacrifice to every man, without exception, and assures him that if he will trust in it he shall be saved, and gives him common grace to help and encourage him to believe. This is a proof that God loves his soul and desires its salvation. But God does not, in addition to this universal offer of mercy, promise to overcome every man's aversion to believe and repent and his resistance of common grace. Election and preterition have no reference to the offer of salvation or common grace. They relate only to special grace and the effectual application of Christ's sacrifice. The universal offer of mercy taught in this section evinces the universality of God's compassion towards sinners.
W. G. T. Shedd, Calvinism: Pure and Unmixed (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1986), 27.

I can't remember if I quoted this from Shedd before, but I love the above quote so it's still worth a second citation. Observe again, that Shedd, like Calvin, is saying that it is God himself who does the offering. He also underlines the objective basis for assurance, i.e. that the lost sinner can be assured of God's interest in saving him because of Christ's ample sacrifice and God's common grace. Shedd rightly underlines the point of common grace. It has the sinners salvation in view, which he says God "desires". Further, common grace is proof that God loves the soul to whom it is given.

This is normal, biblical and classical Calvinism. If you're hearing anything else by popular "Calvinistic" bloggers or ministers who deny (even implicitly) the above truths, then they are just as imbalanced as many of the Arminians they so fervently oppose.

Awhile back I even asked Dr. Tom Ascol (of Founders Ministries) what he thought about God "desiring" the salvation of all. He said:
I believe that God desires for all people to be saved but has purposed to save His elect. I see two (at least two) dimensions in God's will: revealed and decretive. Failure to make this kind of distinction is a failure to read the Bible's teachings on the will of God accurately.
Dr. Ascol spoke accurately and correctly, but I don't know if he realizes that he's associating with some men who don't seem to agree with him. How these men can disagree and still believe in a sincere or well-meant Gospel offer is beyond me. If they deny well-meant gospel offers, then they're actually hypers, whether they realize it or not.

By the way, don't bother asking me for any names. Just ask people the following question and you will be able to get your own names:
Does God desire the salvation of all mankind, i.e. even the non-elect?
It's a yes or no question that's easy enough to answer, just as Dr. Ascol did in all honesty, brevity and forthrightness. I am not interested in giving names because some will already consider what I've said to be a "personal attack" rather than an objective theological assessment of their ideas. They can see that calling someone an Arminian is an historical label that locates a person's soteriological perspective, but to call someone a "hyper-Calvinist" is automatically considered a personal attack, even if I am just locating their soteriology in the framework of history.

So that some of you can see what I am getting at with the above question, here's what I mean. If one does not think that God desires the salvation of all mankind, then does he not will/want/desire gospel compliance from those he commands to repent and believe? He commands all men everywhere to repent. Is it the case that he's merely pretending to want obedience? Or does he really want it? Or does he merely want it from the elect but not the non-elect? If he only wants compliance from the elect because in their case alone it is efficacious, then how can the gospel call be "sincere" or "well-meant" in the case of the non-elect? That's the point of my above question. To deny that God desires the salvation of all those who hear the external gospel call (even the non-elect) is virtually to portray God as a hypocrit that pretends to want what he commands in the gospel. That's what hyperism amounts to and that's why I am so completely and utterly disgusted with the viewpoint.

The bottom line problem with the hypers is that they cannot accept the fact that God can will/want/desire that which does not come to pass. That God can truly will what is not effected is repugnant to them. To say that God wills what is against his will is contradictory to them, therefore they side with the decretal will as being the only true will of God. The so called "preceptive will" are just commands that God issues as means or instruments by which God effects his real will, i.e. his decrees. It's not as if God really wills compliance in the things that he commands and yet does not effect. Even if they distinguish between two senses of God's "will", it's ultimately a distinction without a difference. Therein is the problem. My question above to certain men is meant to bring their views into the light. It's one of the reasons why some of them stay silent on the subject.

I wrote and posted this article because I am concerned about some subtle trends that seem to signal a rising tide of hyper-Calvinism, especially within the ranks of young Calvinists and the newly Reformed. I have seen these trends in numerous Reformed theological forums on the Internet, including mailing lists, Web sites, and Usenet forums.
If that was true then, it's even more true now, even though few people are crying out against it. Phil calls the trends "subtle" for a reason. "Young Calvinists" and the "newly Reformed" are not as discerning in this area as they are in discerning the errors of free will theology. They need to have their senses equally trained to be discerning in both areas, I believe. That is most certainly NOT the case today. If they were trained to detect the errors of hyperism, they would not be so attracted to some of the imbalanced voices available on the internet. They already reckon themselves to be discerning since they've embraced Calvinism. After all, a belief in the doctrine of Total Depravity cleanses one from the remaining noetic effects of depravity, right? Wrong.


Tony Byrne said...

I recently issued a plea to Phil Johnson HERE, since there has been a recent dispute over the content of a certain video that touches on Calvinistic subjects. Some of the responses to this video by the "Truly Reformed" illustrate the points I've made in the above post.

David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, Tony, long time no see... well, maybe a month or two; it seems like a long time in the blogosphere. :)

I'm not here to argue or fight; I hope that came out to some extent in our semi-not-so-recent exchange on my blog a while back, but given recent discussions here, at TeamPyro, and other places regarding the CHAN video and the offer of the Gospel, I had a question for you pertaining to the aforementioned:

You said at one point in a post on my blog that you thought Dr. James White didn't believe that God desires the salvation of all men -- in fact, here is the quote:

"By the way, did you know that James White DENIES that God desires the salvation of the non-elect??? I thought you might want to know that David."

There was a lot more said in that post on my blog (the original one on 2 Peter 3:9 in my sermon review series that I need to finish), but it seemed to imply that Dr. White didn't think God desired it in any sense -- is that what you meant? If so, then might I ask what made you think so?

Just looking for information and trying to understand.


Tony Byrne said...

Hi David,

I hope you're well. Regarding my comment about White, I have a good friend who asked him that very question in IRC and his response was NO. A few other IRC people have told me that as well. Since I don't like to greatly rely on hearsay knowledge, I have attempted to ask White about that a number of times (even on the Founders Blog) for first hand written confirmation that could be documented, but he hasn't replied.

Anyway, the friend who told me of his response is a very honest, trustworthy person and doesn't have an agenda either way on the offer and Christ's death. He's just a calm and honest person who put the question to White in his chat channel and I later learned of the response elsewhere.

If anyone could supply me with written confirmation of his views, even White himself, I would be appreciate that. To be frank, I don't know if he wants to disclose much about his views in that area, for some reason. I do think his opinion on that subject can be implicitly gathered from his blog, but I don't want to have to read between the lines to point it out to people.

Tony Byrne said...


And yes. I meant "in any sense".

All Calvinsts reject the idea that God desires to save all EQUALLY.

The only other two options are:

1) God desires to save all, but especially the elect.


2) God desires to only save the elect.

The question put to White in IRC, as I am told, was precisely worded enough. He reportedly holds to the #2 positon above.

David B. Hewitt said...


Thanks for your response. Given what I've read on Dr. White's blog, you *could* construe it that way, though given his most recent article, it could be taken the other way as well. I truly think what he said on his blog entry (the one addressing Michael Spencer dated Jan 12) is accurate, though it is not all of the information. To be sure, God is not at the whim of the creature in any sense, but this does not mean that God isn't holding out his hands to a disobedient and contrary people either (see Romans 10:21).

I would have to say that in one sense, that of His love and compassion, He desires that even the non-elect be saved (though of course, not effectually), such as in Ezekiel 18:23, 32. Yet, at the same time, in another sense, He desires that they NOT be saved so that His wrath and justice would be made known (see Romans 9:22) and in that same sense even delight in their destruction (see Deuteronomy 28:63).

In any case, that's my take on it; John Piper I think takes this position. I'll have to ask Dr. White about this sometime.

In saying all of that, I don't dispute your source, though I would like some elaboration from him (White) as to what he meant, or if there are other theological underpinnings that shed more light on it than a simple "yes" or "no" answer.

Have a blessed day, my brother;

Tony Byrne said...

Hi David,

If you find something out on that question and are able to provide some documentation, let me know.

You are right about Piper, I believe. However, Piper would not only appeal to the principles outlined in those Ezekiel passages, but he thinks he can go to other disputed passages in the NT to prove the point.

White said on his radio show that he will try to get to those Ezekiel passages sometime soon. I suspect that your only remaining evidence that God desires to save some who are non-elect will be taken away from you. You no longer have the Peter passages, the Timothy passages, the Matthew passage where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and wishes to gather her children. Any other passage that you might use to prove that God wants to save any who are non-elect are being taken away by his "exegesis".

What will be left then but an inference from God's will and his commands? One might try to argue that God desires compliance to his commands and has commanded even the non-elect to repent, ergo he desires their salvation since repentance is salvation. There's no way White will accept that, given his current convictions.

It seems to me that you're hanging on to an Ezekiel thread that's about to be taken away from you, if White gets around to his critique of those passages. How else would you, given your system, deduce that God desires the salvation of any of the non-elect?

Anyway, if you don't want to get involved with answering that, that's fine. I just submit those questions to you for contemplation.

Grace to you,

David B. Hewitt said...

Well, I won't answer them all. :)

I know Piper appeals to those NT passages, and I'm still convinced that 1 Timothy 2:1-7 is dealing with groups, and 2 Peter is referring to the elect. :)

As to Matthew 23:37, I would agree with Dr. White that Jesus is criticizing Jerusalem's leaders -- but it would seem that He is also expressing desire to gather the children....who in turn were not gathered. It would seem that these leaders were guilty of corrupting God's message and had incurred guilt against themselves for distorting it to those who heard them. Anyway, that said to say this -- just because I agree with the interpretation that Jesus is addressing Jerusalem's leaders here (the context is pretty clear), it doesn't mean that He isn't expressing some desire to draw people in that are not drawn in; rather, it appears that He was condemning people for prohibiting His desire (which of course God would have decreed, but that's another subject). :)

I do look forward to hearing what Dr. White has to say about the Ezekiel passages, as I find that I agree with him most of the time.

...but I'm not required to agree with him all of the time of course. :)

In any case, have a good day, Tony.


David B. Hewitt said...

yikes... sorry about the repeats.. blogger was having issues. :)

Tony Byrne said...

David said:
"yikes... sorry about the repeats.. blogger was having issues. :)"
That's alright. I easily deleted the first two repeat entries. Nevertheless, we all secretly know (by reding the "context" lol) that you think your words have a kind of trihagion status which warrants a threefold entry :-)

You also said:
"I'm still convinced that 1 Timothy 2:1-7 is dealing with groups"

Ok. I don't have a problem with it referring to groups. I just don't see warrant for limiting it to groups OF THE ELECT.

You say:
"and 2 Peter is referring to the elect. :)"

What's funny is that I am tempting to ask you which elect? All the elect as elect, whether believing or not? The believing elect? The term "elect" seems ambiguous, but crucial to the validity, not to mention the soundness of your argument lol. Anyway, we've already covered that on your blog ;-)

You said:
"As to Matthew 23:37, I would agree with Dr. White that Jesus is criticizing Jerusalem's leaders -- but it would seem that He is also expressing desire to gather the children....who in turn were not gathered. It would seem that these leaders were guilty of corrupting God's message and had incurred guilt against themselves for distorting it to those who heard them."

Me now:
I also have no problem with associating "Jerusalem" with the leaders. The context seems to argue that he's angry with them for blocking his gospel ministry, rather than assisting in it so that that "the children" are a gathered. Also, I have NEVER heard James White maintain the second part of what you've said (i.e. "but it would seem that He is also expressing desire to gather the children....who in turn were not gathered"). If he agrees with you, I would hope that he would say so. You're willing to admit that the text also indicates that Jesus longed to salvifically gather those that were not gathered. In other words, there seems to be an ineffectual will in the Lord which desired to gather those who were not gathered, namely the "children". There have been at least two ways that some "Calvinists" have sought to escape that. First, some try to associate the "children" with the elect scattered abroad. Secondly, some try to associate this ineffectual desire in our Lord with merely his human nature. Needless to say, I think both of these strategies are very erroneous but I will not try to argue that case here. I am glad that you also see an inefficacious will to save those who were not saved. Classical or moderate Calvinists can just associate that with God's revealed or preceptive will without any problem. The problem comes in when some so called "Calvinists" don't want to admit that there's any inefficacious will or desire in God for the salvation of the non-elect. They just explode the passage away rather than explain it. In essence, the revealed will has collapsed into the secret will in their system such that they make distinctions without a difference. While they SAY that they distinguish between the secret/decretal and the revealed/preceptive will, they only associate volition/intent/desire/will with the decretal aspect of God's will. In effect, the preceptive "will" is not really a "will" at all, unless it's viewed through what God decretally designs by setting forth his precepts. Thus, they leave readers/listeners with the impression that God doesn't really desire compliance/obedience from those that do not comply or obey his commandments. That's particularly true in the case of Gospel compliance. One wonders how such people can claim they believe in "well-meant offers". If they don't, then why not come out and say so explicitly? Be honest about it and admit it.

Incidently, I also look forward to hearing what Dr. White has to say on the Ezekiel passages, but I find that I do not agree with many of his interpretations of various passages, not to mention the abusive way he treats his "opponents" on his blog. I am not saying things that he doesn't already know here. I've contacted him by email and told him so, to no avail.

May God bless your studies, David.

Tony Byrne said...


Also notice what I said in Phil's most recent post on Spurgeon. I commented:

"People are called or "invited" (as Spurgeon says) to believe in/obey the revealed will, not God's secret decrees. In other words, the lost are to hear and believe in the fact that God stands mercifully ready and prepared to forgive all mankind, and not how he has secretly purposed to ultimately save his elect alone. The later doctrine of election is certainly true and biblical, just as Spurgeon says, but it's distinct from God's revealed will and it's focus.

Again, the gospel is calling men to obey or believe in God's revealed will, not the secret will. I am glad Spurgeon's words bring that out, for some in his day (and just prior to it) erred in thinking that lost people are called through the gospel to believe in God's decretal will."

If you read what White is saying in response to the Chan video, he makes the object of faith the decretal will, i.e. that people are called to believe that God is determined to save his elect. On the contrary, the gospel concerns his readiness and desire to forgive all that hear the external call of the gospel, whether elect or not, based on a sufficient sacrifice that is suitable to the salvation of any sinner.

If this revealed will aspect of Christ's work is taken away and the gospel is a call to believe in his death, burial and resurrection, then one has to conclude that people are called to believe in his death, burial and resurrection for the elect.

If one affirms the revealed will aspect or the sufficiency of Christ's satisfaction for all, then the gospel call concerns the need to believe in the sufficiency of his death, burial and resurrection for the life of the entire world, on condition of faith.

David B. Hewitt said...

Good day again, Tony. I hope you are well.

I suspected you were referring to Dr. White's article. :)

In any case, I think there is a way to be monergistic and include such truths as 2 Timothy 2:10 and mention "how Christ took the place of His elect people and paid the penalty for their sins perfectly" (from Dr. White's article) without making a detailed theological exposition part of your Gospel presentation either. Furthermore, the same truth can be communicated, but in different words (see the comment I made on your most recent post).

Anyway, just a thought.


David B. Hewitt said...

Also, Tony, as far as the issue about that post which names you like that, I am afraid I cannot comment much. Given what you have said previously about the email related to it and what I know about Dr. White, I cannot make heads or tails from it. I consider him a friend, and have seen his interactions with people, both on his blog, and in channel, and listening to them on the Dividing Line, and though often he is pointed in his critiques, I've never heard him slander someone.

That post you linked to, plus what I remember about what you said related to your email you sent him on this issue... It doesn't seem to mesh. However, I cannot be the go-between on this. If by chance you want my meager advice on the matter, here it is:

Perhaps you can call him on the dividing line. If it were me, and I had such a disagreement, I'd start by apologizing, if for nothing else than the fact you have most likely contributed to the misunderstanding. I've discovered that when I'm in a conflict, I'm almost never completely in the right....truth be told, I can't remember one ever where I was. Even if it is just 1% of it that I'm guilty of, then I need to repent of that 1%, being the fallible, sinful man that I am.

Secondly, as kindly and charitably as you know how, bring up the matter, and mention that you merely want the issue resolved. Say that you feel that he went too far and insulted you, and say that you are confused at his comments, especially with regard to what you emailed him.

Thirdly, if you have the time, ask about the second half of Matthew 23:37. Truth is, I'm curious about it too. :)

If you don't like my idea or advice, please feel free to drop it. Or, if you like it, let me know, and if you like, I can mention that you plan on calling and intend to bear a truce flag so that Doc will know you aren't looking for a fight (not that I am suspecting you will, but just in case he does).

Lemme know either here or in email what you think. (though I'd prefer the latter)


Tony Byrne said...

Well, David, I could explain all that transpired just prior to that "Free Advertising" piece of manifest slander, but I already did so on my post(s) on 2 Peter 3:9 (2). If you're unable to see that it's slander after reading it and the information on my 2 Peter 3:9 post, then I can't help but think that you're blinded by your admiration and friendship. I also see him abusing others that he disagrees with on his blog on a regular basis. I am not as impressed by him as you seem to be.

I am not asking you to be a go-between on this. In fact, I wish I had never commented on your blog about him and God's desires. It's because of that that you brought that information over here in this post to inquire about specific names etc. I was hoping that this post would not get into all of that, but since it did, I indulged the conversation for the sake of honesty. I am not interested in calling in his show. He has already responded in an email and virtually mocked me for bringing up the "Free Advertising" post again. If I did what he does, I would post my emails with him to demonstrate what I am saying. He has even taken some of my statements out of private emails and put them on his blog. Also, I have nothing to apologize for in that last quarrel. I'm not a groveling admirer of his, and I don't feel the need to apologize for no reason. I did nothing wrong in that exchange. He PUBLICALLY slandered me and NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE holds him accountable for that. Further, I am not "confused" by his comments. I know what he did and the objective reader can see it as well. If I contacted him further, I feel I would only be mocked and further abused, so your suggestion is not all that appealing to me. In fact, I feel like I am only inviting further abuse by him merely by saying what I am saying here. I wish you had not brought him up here, but you did so because of my THEOLOGICAL (not a personal) comment on your blog. Actually, I wouldn't mind deleting all of our personal comments about him in this post. I could edit the posts and only include our theological points/exchanges, if you don't mind.

Meanwhile, we'll take our theological interaction to the above link here:

The Gospel and the Revealed Will of God