December 24, 2008

Henry Scudder (c.1585–1652) on God's Love

4. Be persuaded of God's love to you in these good things, which he giveth to you: First, He loveth you as his creature, and if only in that respect he doth preserve you, and do you good, you are bound to thank him. Secondly, You know not but God may love you with a special love to salvation; God's revealed will professeth as much, for you must not meddle with that which is secret. I am sure he giveth all-sufficient proof of his love, making offers of it to you, and which you are daily receiving the tokens of, both in the means of this life, and that which is to come. Did not he love you, when, out of his free and everlasting goodwill towards you, he gave his Son to die for you, that you, believing in him, should not die, but have everlasting life? What though you are yet in your sins, doth he not command you to return to him? and hath he not said, he will love you freely? What though you cannot turn to him, nor love him as you would, yet apply by humble faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, as your only saviour and great physician, and endeavour, in the use of all good means, to be, and do, as God will have you; then doubt not but that God doth love you; and patiently wait, till you see it in the performance of all his gracious promises unto you.
Henry Scudder, The Christian's Daily Walk in Holy Security and Peace (Glasgow: Printed for William Collins, 1826), 182. This edition has an introductory essay by Thomas Chalmers.


December 21, 2008

More from William Gurnall (1617–1679) on Christ Begging

Take heed thou dost not make thy private particular enemies the object of thy imprecation: we have no warrant, when any wrong us, to go and call fire from heaven upon them. We are bid indeed to, heap coals upon the enemy's head,' but they are of love, not of wrath and revenge. Job set a black brand upon this, and clears himself from the imputation of so great a sin'—'If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: neither have I suffered my mouth to sin, by wishing a curse to his soul,' chap. xxxi. 29, 30. He durst not wish his enemy ill, much less deliberately form a wish into a prayer, and desire God to curse him. Our Saviour hath taught us a more excellent way, Matt. v. 44.: 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.' I know this is counted a poor, sheepish spirit by шаnу. What! go and pray for them? No, send them the glove rather, and be revenged on them in a duel, by shedding their blood. This is the drink-offering which these sons of pride delight to pour out to their revenge, or else curse them to the pit of hell with their oaths. O tremble at such a spirit as this!

The ready way to fetch a curse from heaven on thyself is to imprecate one sinfully upon another, Psalm cix. 17, 18: 'As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him; as he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garments, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.' Moses, I suppose, had as noble a spirit as any of these that style themselves men of honour, yet did he draw his sword upon Aaron, or curse Miriam, when they had used him so ill? I trow not, but bore all patiently; nay, when God declared his displeasure against Miriam for this affront put upon him, see how this holy man interceded for her with God, Numb. xii. 13. This is valour of the right make, to overcome evil with good, and instead of seeking revenge on him that wrongs us, to have the mastery of our own corruption so far as to desire his good the more. Thus our Lord, when he was numbered amongst transgressors, even then interceded for the transgressors, Isa. liii. 12; that is, these very men who used him so barbarously, while they were digging his heart out of his body with their instruments of cruelty, then was he begging the life of their souls with his fervent prayers.
William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, rev. by John Campbell (London: William Tegg, 1862), 728–729.


December 16, 2008

A. A. Hodge (1823–1886) on God's Kind, Honest, Free and Loving Offer

Since the salvation of guilty sinners is absolutely of free and sovereign grace, and must be received as such, the salvation of every man must depend upon a personal election of God. God offers salvation to all on the condition of faith. But he gives the faith to those whom he chooses (Eph. 2:8; Matt. 20:16; 22:14). Nevertheless, those who refuse to believe and be saved have only themselves to blame for it, because the only reason they do not believe is the wicked disposition of their own hearts, and because God kindly and honestly invites them and promises salvation by his Word, and draws them by the common influences of his Spirit.
A. A. Hodge and J. A. Hodge, The System of Theology Contained in the Westminster Shorter Catechism (New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1888), 20–21.
This works no injustice to those not elected. They will be only treated as they deserve. They have willfully sinned. Many of them have willfully rejected a freely and lovingly offered Christ (Rom. 9:19-23).
Ibid., 39.

1) It is God himself who offers and invites all, even "those who refuse to believe and be saved", i.e. "those not elected."
2) God freely, kindly, honestly and lovingly offers/invites these people through his word.
3) God even "draws them by the common influences of his Spirit," which, in A. A. Hodge's theology, is common grace.

A. A. Hodge has all the components of a well-meant gospel offer in his theology, even though he did believe in a strictly limited view of Christ's death (with some modifications in terms of the removal of all legal barriers, etc.). His view of God's love, God's grace, God's offers and God's will ("drawing") are all interrelated. To use material in a previous post of mine, he is a "Type B" Calvinist (high) in the chart.

His father, Charles Hodge, was a "Type A," or a classic Augustinian/Calvinist.

December 13, 2008

More from Ezekiel Culverwell (1554–1631) on Ezek. 33:11 and 2 Pet. 3:9

Here if ever, is a fit place for all such Scriptures, as set out God's mercy to poor sinners the more to persuade them to believe, as that of Ezek. 33:11. where the Lord swears by himself; saying, As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die oh house of Israel. And to like effect is that of S. Peter, That God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Which Scriptures and many the like, are not to be understood of God's determining will and decree, but of his revealed and approving will, which he would have us to know and believe, that thereby we might be drawn to rest ourselves upon him for salvation, which whosoever (though never so great sinner)shall do, he shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Ezekiel Culverwell, A Treatise of Faith (London: Printed by J.D. for H. Overton, and are to be sold by William Sheares, 1648), 35–36. I have updated some of the language.

December 10, 2008

Oliver Heywood (1630–1702) on God's Cordial Wish

1. Some absolutely and resolutely refuse to enter into any covenant engagement with God, and have no heart to take the terms thereof into consideration: of this sort were those that being invited to the marriage feast made light of it, they would not take it into their thoughts, but went away; they did not think it worth consideration, but turned their backs on it, and put it quite out of their minds, just as Esau did with his birth-right, when he had got his belly full of bread and pottage of lentiles; the text saith, "he did eat and drink, and rose up and went his way," thus Esau despised his birth-right: just so do many now-a-days, let them but have the husks of worldly delights, they dismiss thoughts of God; most men have neither time nor inclination to consider whether heaven or hell be better, whether it be safer to have the eternal God to be their friend or enemy, whether the enjoyment of God or separation from him be more eligible, or titter to be chosen: no, this is the farthest from their thoughts. Poor sinner, canst thou find time for worldly business, and insignificant trifles? Thou art never weary of collecting toys, but canst thou got no time day or night to ruminate on God, Christ, pardon, or heaven? What hast thou thy rational soul for? Is eternity nothing in thy account? Shall gospel commodities be always accounted refuse-wares, so that thou wilt not so much as turn aside to ask of what use they are? what are they good for? or what rate are they at ? Base ingratitude! when God in the ministry of the word presents gospel commodities with greatest advantage, and tells you, you shall have them freely without money or price, will you still turn a deaf ear? will you still scorn the offer, and imagine that the thoughts of heaven will make you melancholy? must God complain of you as of his ancient people, "my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me ?" May not such a complaint from the eternal God break a heart of adamant? it is as if God should say, I have made them the fairest offers that ever were presented to a rational creature, I treated them as friends, gave them glorious deliverances, and precious ordinances, I answered their prayers, and bade them still farther open their mouths wide and I would fill them, yet nothing would prevail, they would none of me; I urged my suit with fresh arguments, and sighed out my cordial wish, Oh that my people would have hearkened unto me! I would have done so and so for them; did ever suitor woo more pathetically; yet all this will not do, Israel would none of me; well, let them go and seek a better husband. I have spoken and done fair in the judgment of impartial arbitrators; nay, I dare appeal to themselves, what could have been done more to them: well, it seems I must not be heard, I have given them up to their heart's lust, and they walk in their own counsels, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end will be, there is no remedy, since they refuse the remedy which I have prescribed, "they have chosen their own ways—I also will choose their delusions;" let them now go their own length, and be snared in the work of their own hands.
Oliver Heywood, "Address to Persons of Different Descriptions Commencing with Unconverted Sinners," in The Whole Works of the Rev. Oliver Heywood (Idle: Printed by J. Vint, 1826), 4:206–207.


December 7, 2008

Historic Calvinistic Language for God's Revealed Will

[Note: The names listed below with all the source quotes can be found on my blog or on the Calvin and Calvinism blog.]
How meltingly doth he bewail man's wilful refusal of his goodness! It is a mighty goodness to offer grace to a rebel; a mighty goodness to give it him after he hath a while stood off from the terms; and astonishing goodness to regret and lament his wilful perdition. He seems to utter those words in a sigh, "O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my way" (Ps. lxxxi. 13)! It is true, God hath not human passions, but his affections cannot be expressed otherwise in a way intelligible to us; the excellency of his nature is above the passions of men; but such expressions of himself manifest to us the sincerity of his goodness: and that, were he capable of our passions, he would express himself in such a manner as we do: and we find incarnate Goodness bewailing with tears and sighs the ruin of Jerusalem (Luke xix. 42).
Stephen Charnock, "Discourse XIII: On the Goodness of God" in The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 2:286.
There is all in God that is good, and perfect, and excellent in our desires and wishes for the conversion and salvation of wicked men. . . There is all in God that belongs to our desire of the holiness and happiness of unconverted men and reprobates, excepting what implies imperfection.
Jonathan Edwards, "Concerning the Divine Decrees in General and Election in Particular," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), 2:528–529.

Since there has been some talk lately about "optative expressions" and God's will, I have listed the various expressions that Calvinists have used in history for God's revealed will. All of the following Calvinistic men affirm that God wills the salvation of all men, including those who finally perish. The sources can be found in my blog and in the Calvin and Calvinism blog. This will be updated when new names and information is available.

The various symbols before the names indicates that the person was involved in writing one of the Reformed confessions, or contributed to one of them (*Dort, §Heidelberg, Second Helvetic, Westminster, Second London Baptist).


Adams, Thomas (willing; desires)
Ambrose, Isaac (willing; entreats; beseeches; desire; begs; invites; woos)
Arrowsmith, John (wills; longs for)
Ascol, Tom (wills; desires)
Ashwood, Bartholomew (wills; affectionately seeks; desires; invites; beseeches; strives; woos)
Attersoll, William (earnest desire; very desirous; willing; labors; seeks)
Amyraut, Moyse (wills; wishes; desires)


Bates, William (very willing, urges, entreats, beseeches, desires, designs)
Bavinck, Herman (wants, seeks) 
Berkhof, Louis (wills, pleads, earnestly desires)
Barlee, William (will, desire)
Boyce, J. P. (wishes, yearns)
Bucer, Martin (wishes, wills, desires)
Bullinger, Heinrich (wills, desires, wants)
Bunyan, John (heartily willing)
Burgess, Anthony (wills, affectionately desires, intends, entreats, delights, invites)
Burgess, Daniel (wills, designs, strives, desires)
Burroughs, Jeremiah (great willingness, wills, woos, desires, intends, begs)


Calamy, Edmund (wills)
Calvin, John (wills, wishes, intent, desires, ardent desire, beseeches, allures)
Candlish, Robert (willing, wishes, yearning desire, intense longing desire)
Carey, William (wills)
Carson, D. A. (wills, desires, wishes, yearns, pursues, seeks, entreats, invites)
Cartwright, Thomas (wills, woos, earnestly desires)
Caryl, Joseph (willing, begging)
Chalmers, Thomas (wills, desires, begs)
Chantry, Walter (willing, sincerely desires, pleads, lovingly desires, wishes, seriously invites, wants, begs, entreats)
Charnock, Stephen (wills, strives, begs, beseeches, entreats, courts, solicits, designs, sues, woos, aims)
Collinges, John (begging, willing, earnestness of desire, wishes)
Corbet, John (wills)
Cotton, John (seriously wills, seriously desires)
Crawford, Thomas J. (wills, delights in, earnest and intense desire)
*Crocius, Ludwig (wishes)
Culverwell, Ezekiel (very willing, desires, allures)
Cunningham, William (wills, wishes, desires)


Dabney, R. L. (will, active principle, desire, propension)
Dagg, John L. (will, desire)
Daniel, Curt (will, wish)
*Davenant, John (will, intent)
Denison, Stephen (wills, entreats)
Doolittle, Thomas (desires, strives)
Durham, James (woos, seeks, very desirous, beseeches, heartily willing, aims, heartily invites, willingly desirous, passionately desirous, presses, craves, entreats)


Edwards, Jonathan (will, desire, wish, seeks, tries, woos, entreats, beseeches, begs, intends)


Fairbairn, Patrick (yearns, earnestly desires, seeks, wills, allures)
Flavel, John (will, earnest and vehement desire, importunate desire, alluringly invites, begs, zealous and fervent concern, intent, design, yearns, strives, solicits, allures, woos, sues, entreats)
Frame, John (will, wish, wants, intense desire)
Fuller, Andrew (wills, good-will, desires)


Gale, Theophilus (wills, extreme willing, really intends, really and cheerfully willing, desire, begs, seeks, invites)
Gearing, William (woos, begs, entreats, invites)
Gouge, Thomas (great willingness, entreats)
Greenhill, William (will, earnestly desires, seeks)
Greijdanus, Seakle (ardent desire; great exertion to bring it about)
Grey, Andrew (will, exceedingly serious and earnest, begs)
Grosvenor, Benjamin (wills, desires, designs, wishes)
Gualther, Rudolph (wills, desires)
Gurnall, William (will, beseeches, begs, affectionately desires)


Halyburton, Thomas (desires, entreats)
Harris, Robert (willing, begs)
Henry, Carl F. H. (sincere and strong wish)
Henry, Matthew (wills, wishes, desires, designs)
Heppe, Heinrich (lists many Reformed sources using "wish")
Heywood, Oliver (will, cordial wish, earnest desire, urges, woos pathetically)
Hildersham, Arthur (earnestly desires, wills, wishes, seeks, beseeches, labors)
Hodge, A. A.  (kindly and honestly invites, draws)
Hodge, Charles (will, desire)
Hoekema, Anthony (wants, seriously desires)
Hopkins, Ezekiel (wills, urges)
Howe, John (will, wish, desires, favourable propensions, design, intent, travails)
Hulse, Erroll (will, desire, wants, purpose, seeks, intends, wish)
Hyperius, Andreas (wills, desires)


Jenison, Robert (seriously wills, seriously invites)
Johnson, S. Lewis (wills, desires)


Kingsmill, Andrew (seeks)
Kistemaker, Simon J. (want, wish, desire)
Knollys, Hanserd (willing, earnestly desires)
Kuiper, R. B. (wills, urgently invites, ardently desires)


Latimer, Hugh (will)
Leigh, Edward (seriously wills)
Levitt, William (wills)
Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (wills, seeks, strives, tries, pleads)


MacArthur, John (will, wish, desire, yearns, pleads, begs, tenderly calls)
Manton, Thomas (will, begs, labours, desire, pleads, woos, works to gain, allures)
Marlorate, Augustine (wills, gently invites, allures)
Mather, Cotton (wills, earnestly desires, aims at, delights, endeavors, urges, seeks)
Mather, Increase (desires, seeks)
McCheyne, R. M. (will, wishes, pleads, earnestly seeks, tries, draws)
*Martinius, Matthias (seriously wills, intends)
Murray, Iain (will, desire, wish)
Murray, John (will, wish, ardent desire, yearns)
Musculus, Wolfgang (wills, good-will)


Packer, J. I. (will, wish)
Palmer, Edwin H. (desires)
Pearse, Edward (lovingly invites, woos, entreats, allures)
Perkins, William (wills, desires, heartily seeks, looks for, pursues, earnestly knocks)
Piper, John (will, desire)
Polanus, Amandus (wills, wishes)
Powel, Vavasor (willing)
Polhill, Edward (will, intent)
Preston, John (wills, earnestly desires)
Prynne, William (wills, seriously invites, seriously wishes, seriously desires, earnest wish)


Reynolds, Edward (will, allures, beseeches, woos)
Richardson, John (suing, wooing, begging)
Robertson, O. Palmer (will, desire)
Rutherford, Samuel (vehement desire, serious desire, ardent desire, unfeigned desire, extreme desire, begs)
Ryle, J. C. (willing, invites)


Saurin, James (wills, presses, ardent entreaties)
Scudder, Henry (will, intent)
Shedd, W. G. T. (will, sincerely desires, encourages, assists, aids)
Shepard, Thomas (desire)
Sibbes, Richard (desires, begs)
Simpson, Sydrach (begs)
Slater, Samuel (desires)
Spring, Gardiner (willing)
Spurgeon, Charles (pleads, desire, wish, begs)
Strong, A. H. (will, desire)
Swinnock, George (willing, desire, intent, begs, seeks, woos)


Trapp, John (begging, kneels)
Turretin, Francis (will, wish, desire)


§Ursinus, Zacharias (will, desires)


Venema, Herman (seriously wills, wishes, purpose)
Vermigli, Peter Martyr (wills, wishes)
Vincent, Nathaniel (woos, earnestly entreats, passionately pleads, seriously and pathetically calls, design, aims, presses, purposes, draws, invites, strives, wishes) 
Vos, Geerhardus (desires, seeks [RD, 1:29; c. 2, q. 98])


Waldron, Samuel (will, wish, earnestly desires, saving intention, purpose, goal)
Warne, Jonathan (wills, wishes, invites, desires)
Watson, Thomas (will, tries, woos, desires, kneels)
Westblade, Donald J. (willing)
Whately, William (desire)
Whitefield, George (will, wants, desires, labouring, intent, begs)
Wollebius, Johannes (will, wants)

December 5, 2008

A. H. Strong (1823–1886) on the Sincerity of God's General Call

A. Is God's general call sincere?

This is denied, upon the ground that such sincerity is incompatible, first, with the inability of the sinner to obey; and secondly, with the design of God to bestow only upon the elect the special grace without which they will not obey.

(a) To the first objection we reply that, since this inability is not a physical but a moral inability, consisting simply in the settled perversity of an evil will, there can be no insincerity in offering salvation to all, especially when the offer is in itself a proper motive to obedience.

God's call to all men to repent and to believe the gospel is no more insincere than his command to all men to love him with all the heart. There is no obstacle in the way of men's obedience to the gospel, that does not exist to prevent their obedience to the law. If it is proper to publish the commands of the law, it is proper to publish the invitations of the gospel. A human being may be perfectly sincere in giving an invitation which he knows will be refused. He may desire to have the invitation accepted, while yet he may, for certain reasons of justice or personal dignity, be unwilling to put forth special efforts, aside from the invitation itself, to secure the acceptance of it on the part of those to whom it is offered. So God's desires that certain men should be saved may not be accompanied by his will to exert special influences to save them.

hese desires were meant by the phrase "revealed will" in the old theologians; his purpose to bestow special grace, by the phrase "secret will." It is of the former that Paul speaks, in 1 Tim. 2:4 — "who would have all men to be saved." Here we have, not the active σωσαι, but the passive σωθηναι. The meaning is, not that God purposes to save all men, but that he desires all men to be saved through repenting and believing the gospel. Hence God's revealed will, or desire, that all men should be saved, is perfectly consistent with his secret will, or purpose, to bestow special grace only upon a certain number (see, on 1 Tim. 2:4, Fairbairn's Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles

The sincerity of God's call is shown, not only in the fact that the only obstacle to compliance, on the sinner's part, is the sinner's own evil will, but also in the fact that God has, at infinite cost, made a complete external provision, upon the ground of which "he that will" may "come" and "take of the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17); so that God can truly say: "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" (Is. 5:4). Broadus, Com. on Mat. 6:10 — "Thy will be done" — distinguishes between God's will of purpose, of desire, and of command. H. B. Smith, Syst. Theol., 521 — "Common grace passes over into effectual grace in proportion as the sinner yields to the divine influence. Effectual grace is that which effects what common grace tends to effect." See also Studien und Kritiken, 1887:7 sq.

(b) To the second, we reply that the objection, if true, would equally hold against God's foreknowledge. The sincerity of God's general call is no more inconsistent with his determination that some shall be permitted to reject it, than it is with foreknowledge that some will reject it.

Hodge, Syst. Theol., 2:643—"Predestination concerns only the purpose of God to render effectual, in particular cases, a call addressed to all. A general amnesty, on the certain conditions, may be offered by a sovereign to rebellious subjects, although he knows that through pride or malice many will refuse to accept it; and even though, for wise reasons, he should determine not to constrain their assent, supposing that such influence over their minds were within his power. It is evident, from the nature of the call, that is has nothing to do with the secret purpose of God to grant his effectual grace to some, and not to others. . . . According to the Augustinian scheme, the non-elect have all the advantages and opportunities of securing their salvation, which, according to any other scheme, are granted to mankind indiscriminately. . . . . God designed, in its adoption, to save his own people, but he consistently offers its benefits to all who are willing to receive them." See also H. B. Smith, System of Christian Theology, 515–521.
A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Old Tapppan, NJ: Revell, 1979), 791–792.


December 4, 2008

Double-Payment and Double-Jeopardy

Flynn has responded to some of the recent talk about the Double-Payment and Double-Jeopardy arguments at Theology Online:

Questions for Ascol and White

Tom Ascol recently replied to Dr. Allen on his blog, and partially touched on the issue of hyper-Calvinism. Ascol claims to have agreement with White because both of them distinguish between God's decree and precept. He doesn't address the point of God wanting men to comply with his precepts so as to be saved. He makes no mention of God's desire for the salvation of all people (as in his own quote that Allen used). Even Gill acknowledged the difference between decree and precept. So does the Protestant Reformed Church. So what? The mere distinction between decree and precept is not the issue. Rather, the point involves God's desire that all men actually comply with what He has commanded them to do in the Gospel call. To be very specific, does God desire the salvation of any of those who will finally perish, i.e. the reprobates? This is "the crux" of the dispute on the free offer. John Murray (and those who really agree with him) do not hesitate to clearly and explicitly affirm that He does, according to the scriptures. They never thought that such an affirmation makes God "schizophrenic," or "purposing His own eternal unhappiness," or any such nonsense. That's an obvious straw man fallacy.

Questions for Ascol and White:

1) If Ascol and White actually agree, then does Ascol disagree with John Murray on the point? White apparently does, and thus sides with Reymond. He wrote:
"I am thankful Phil can put up with my slightly "stiffer" form of Calvinism. I would be more on the Reymond side than the Murray side, for example, and I am for a pretty obvious reason, I hope."

2) If Ascol really agrees with White, then does Ascol somewhat disagree with Phil Johnson, to the point of having a "stiffer" form of Calvinism than Phil Johnson does? Phil seems to see something in White that is different from his own view of God's revealed will. What is it? It's not merely something semantic. Phil also distinguishes between decree and precept, so it can't be that.

*3) If White really agrees with Ascol, then what text of Scripture would White use to say that God desires the salvation of all people in his revealed will? There is no record of White ever using even a single passage to affirm the concept. On the contrary, he fights against the idea in all of his "exegesis." It doesn't matter if you bring up Ezek. 18 & 33. It doesn't matter if you bring up 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9; John 5:34; Matt. 23:37, or any other text used by Murray in his treatment of the Free Offer. White doesn't think a single one of them teaches that God desires to save any of the reprobates. One of White's avid (and bizarre) listeners understands his position quite clearly when he writes:
The idea that God desires, wills the salvation of everyone makes God Schizophrenic, and I have said this many times.

This is the reason Dr White responds as he does, about God having these unfulfilled desires and disappointments etc.

Dr White is spot on, and just because Byrne and others wish to embrace irrationality, does not change the argument at all. Call it paradox if you wish and celebrate that kind of thinking, but I do not wish to go down that slippery slope, and for good reasons.

December 1, 2008

Dr. David Allen's Points on God's Will and Hyper-Calvinism at the John 3:16 Conference

Here are David Allen's points on the subject of God's will and hyper-Calvinism at the John 3:16 Conference:

1) Tom Ascol affirms that God desires the salvation of all men in his revealed will.

2) James White scornfully denies that God desires the salvation of all men in his revealed will.

This is a fact and no one has proven otherwise. In fact, White has said on his blog now that he sides with Robert Reymond as over against John Murray on this very point. His denial is categorical, and does not merely involve problems with optative expressions.

3) This denial by White is based on his atonement views.

Almost everyone has missed this vital point. This is why Dr. Allen brought it up during the conference. White said, "And I just go, what does it mean to say that God desires to do something he then does not provide the means to do? What does that mean? And no one's ever been able to tell me." Dr. Allen's lecture was on the atonement, and he made some practical observations at the end. He argued that a strictly limited atonement (in the sense of Owen's limited imputation of sin to Christ view) diminishes God's universal saving will. This point is not new. Edward Polhill and John Bunyan addressed the same subject.

4) James White disagrees with Tom Ascol.

Given the factuality of #2, this obviously follows. No one has challenged this, not even Dr. Ascol himself.

5) Allen said James White is a hyper-Calvinist because of that specific denial.

Few, if any, have actually addressed this point. All talk about how White engages in “evangelism” and “preaching to all” is a red herring. It doesn't address this subject, which is: Does the denial of God's universal saving will constitute a form of hyper-Calvinism? Phil Johnson has come the closest to addressing it, but he plans on clarifying his position further. Perhaps he thinks that the denial would have to be coupled or mixed with other hyper-Calvinistic ingredients in order to properly call someone a hyper-Calvinist by this criteria. He has created the subjective label "über-high Calvinist" for some instead of labeling them "hyper." I have now quoted Iain Murray and Curt Daniel to support my claim that such a denial constitutes a form of hyper-Calvinism, even if it's not "full-blown" hyper-Calvinism. They both refer to the denial of God's universal saving desire as a "main argument against free offers" (Daniel) or one of "the most serious differences of all between evangelical Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism" (Murray). Murray, in his book on Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism, said that "Spurgeon regarded the denial of God's desire for the salvation of all men as no mere theoretical mistake. For it converged with one of the greatest obstacles to faith on the part of the unconverted, that is to say, a wrong view of the character of God." Anthony Hoekema also associates the denial of God's desire to save all  men, or the well-meant offer, with hyper-Calvinism.

6) Allen said James White is a hyper-Calvinist based on the criteria in Phil Johnson's Primer.

This is really what Phil Johnson has sought to specifically address in his replies, rather than the first five propositions above. It is clear that he does not think his Primer suggests that someone is a hyper-Calvinist if they merely deny God's universal saving will. Now, note this carefully: He has not explicitly said that his Primer does not make any point about God's universal saving will. Rather, he has been talking about the fact that his Primer doesn't make a point about God's "desires," since such optative expressions are, in his view, "always problematic." The bottom line is this: Phil does not think that his Primer entails what Dr. Allen thought it said about this subject. That's fine. He's knows what he meant to say by it. Nevertheless, he hasn't shown that it is unreasonable to conclude what Dr. Allen concluded, since there are obvious references in the Primer that make the point that one needs to rightly understand the orthodox Reformed teaching on God's will, in contrast to hyper-Calvinistic distortions of it. Perhaps he thinks Allen could have been warranted in saying that White has a very serious hyper-Calvinistic tendency, based on Phil Johnson's Primer. We shall see.

The above summarizes where things stand right now, as I read the posts. I find it very disappointing to see my fellow Calvinists not even admitting that Dr. Allen made any valid points whatsoever. Genetic fallacies abound. It's as if the entirety of what he said is false, and "unthinking." They should at least acknowledge that the first four propositions above are true and serious matters. Honesty demands that.

Calvinistic bloggers have not refuted Allen's first four facts above, but they're just taking exception to the characterization of those facts (#5 and #6). Fine. If you don't like to label White's scornful denial of God's universal saving desire as a form of "hyper-Calvinism," then just call it "Dead-Wrongism," based on what the Scriptures and orthodox Calvinists affirm.

November 26, 2008

Curt Daniel on God's "Universal Saving Will"

Yet another problem facing Calvinists is the nature of the universal saving will in the Revealed Will. Much of it revolves around the exegesis of 1 Tim. 2:4. Some say that salvation belongs only to the Secret Will; the Revealed has only to do with the Law. If that were so, then the Gospel is a secret -- how could we preach it? The truth is that the call of the Gospel commands faith in all who hear it -- God wills for them to believe the Gospel, in the Revealed Will. In that sense, He wills all to be saved. But remember, the Revealed Will is conditional. He wills for them to be saved by believing the Gospel. But He has not intended to give them all faith. This too is a paradox which we will examine more closely later.
Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield, IL: Good Books, 2003), 208.

John Piper also used the expression "universal saving will of God" three times in his article "Are There Two Wills in God?," in Still Sovereign, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner & Bruce A. Ware (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker, 2000). See pages 107, 108 and 122.

November 24, 2008

C. H. Spurgeon on Loving Christ Through Doctrine

What is doctrine after all but the throne whereon Christ sitteth, and when the throne is vacant what is the throne to us? Doctrines are the shovel and tongs of the altar, while Christ is the sacrifice smoking thereon. Doctrines are Christ’s garments; verily they smell of myrrh, and cassia, and aloes out of the ivory palaces, whereby they make us glad, but it is not the garments we care for as much as the person, the very person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Charles Spurgeon, MTP, 8:339. Cited in Iain Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000), 122.

November 23, 2008

Answering an Email on the Narrow Mind

I called into The Narrow Mind radio program again and answered a couple of questions about my historiography and hyper-Calvinism. Here's the edited portion that includes my call:

Download Clip Here

November 22, 2008

More from MacArthur on God's Universal Saving "Wish" and "Desire"

God sincerely wishes that all men and women would turn to Him in saving faith; yet He chose only the elect "out of the world" (John 17:6) and passed over other sinners, leaving them in their depravity and wickedness (cf. Rom. 1:18-32). As a result, they are damned solely because of their sin and rejection of God. He is in no way to blame for such unbelief and is not happy that many people ultimately choose hell. However, God will receive glory even when unbelievers are damned (cf. Rom. 9:22-23).

How this great program of redemption and condemnation, with its apparent paradoxes and divine mysteries, unfolds in a way that is completely consistent with God's will can be answered only by Him. Believers who seek to be faithful witnesses as they embrace God's truth must do so by faith in His Word, trusting in such profound declarations as this:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. -Rom. 11:33-36

Since the Lord "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4; cf. Matt. 23:37), it is not our concern to know if someone is elect before praying for that person's salvation We may pray for anyone who is unsaved, knowing that such prayers are fully consistent with God's desire. After all, "The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works" (Ps. 145:8-9).
John F. MacArthur, Nothing But the Truth (Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 1999), 43.

November 17, 2008

Radio Interview on the Conference Chart

Last Saturday morning, I did a radio interview with Gene Cook of Unchained Radio (click) on the subjects contained in my conference chart (Arminianism, Classic Calvinism, High Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism). Here's the audio for the show:

Download Broadcast Here (click)

November 16, 2008

Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847) on God Begging

On the authority of my text I call you—Christ speaketh there, and what he utters is an actual prayer to you, that you would be reconciled unto God. And what is more, God speaketh there—I and the Father am one, says the Saviour; and such is the unity of mind and of purpose between them, that a call from Christ is a call from God. And accordingly, what do we read in the text? God beseeching you—the Lord of heaven and earth descending to beseech you—He whom you have trampled upon and put far away from you—He before whom you stand with a load of sins calling for vengeance, in what situation does the text represent Him? The mighty God who fills all space, and reigns in majesty over all worlds, standing at the door of the sinner's heart, humbling Himself to the language of entreaty, beseeching the sinner to come and be reconciled to Him, begging for admittance, and protesting that if you only come unto Him through Christ, He is willing to forgive all, and to forget all. Oh! my brethren, ought not this to encourage you? Yes! and if you refuse the encouragement, it ought also to fill you with terror. The terrors of the Lord are doubtless sometimes preached to you, and I am now preaching to you the goodness and the tenderness of the Lord; but be assured that this goodness, so far from setting aside the terrors, will, if despised and rejected by you, give them their tenfold aggravation.

November 14, 2008

A Timely Quote from Matthew Henry on John 3:21

It is a common observation that truth seeks no corners. Those who mean and act honestly dread not a scrutiny, but desire it rather.
Matthew Henry, "An Exposition, with Practical Observations, of the Gospel According to St. John," in Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 1991), 1931.

November 13, 2008

Dr. Curt Daniel on the Free Offer, The Will of God and Hyper-Calvinism

Hypers usually reject the idea of offers that are free, serious, sincere, or well-meant.
Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield, Ill.: Good Books, 2003), 89.

Curt Daniel lists four "main Hyper-Calvinist arguments" against "free offers" along with the historic Calvinist reply. The fourth in the list says:
(4) "Free offers imply that God wishes all men to be saved. This contradicts the doctrine of election. It also implies that grace is universal." But: The Reformed doctrine of the revealed will of God is that there is a sense in which God certainly does will the salvation of all who hear the Gospel, just as He wills all who hear the Law to obey. He has no pleasure in the death of the one who rejects either Law or Gospel. True Reformed theology keeps the balance between the secret will (election) and the revealed will (Gospel), but Hyperism over-emphasizes the secret will. Similarly, special grace reflects election and the secret will, but there is also common grace for all men as creatures in the revealed will.
Ibid., 90.

Curt Daniel also briefly discusses this in his doctoral dissertation.

See Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 1983), 426–429.

Update on 9-19-14:
'Free offer' was the debated term in mainstream Hyper-Calvinism, but 'well-meant offer' has been the debated phrase within the Hoeksema school. In essence, however, they are one and the same. The first simply brings out the aspect that God wishes to give something without cost, while the second points to God's willingness that it be accepted.
Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 1983), 410.

John MacArthur on the Sincerity of the Gospel Offer

Is God Sincere in the Gospel Offer?

Of course, people who assert that God's love is exclusively for the elect will usually acknowledge that God nevertheless shows mercy, longsuffering, and benevolence to the unrighteous and unbelievers. But they will insist that this apparent benevolence has nothing whatsoever to do with love or any sort of sincere affection. According to them, God's acts of benevolence toward the non-elect have no other purpose than to increase their condemnation.

Such a view, it seems to me, imputes insincerity to God. It suggests that God's pleadings with the reprobate are artificial, and that His offers of mercy are mere pretense.

Often in scripture, God makes statements that reflect a yearning for the wicked to repent. In Psalm 81:13 He says, "Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!" And, again, in Ezekiel 18:32 He says, "'I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,' declares the Lord God. Therefore, repent and live.'"

Elsewhere, God freely and indiscriminately offers mercy to all who will come to Christ: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes [whosoever will—KJV] take the water of life without cost" (Rev. 2:17).

God Himself says, "Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other" (Isa. 45:22). And, "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost" (Isa. 55:1). "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (v. 7).

There are some who flatly deny that such invitations constitute any sincere offer of mercy to the non-elect. As far as they are concerned, the very word offer smacks of Arminianism (a name for the doctrine that makes salvation hinge solely on a human decision). They deny that God would "offer" salvation to those whom He has not chosen. They deny that God's pleadings with the reprobate reflect any real desire on God's part to see the wicked turn from their sins. To them, suggesting that God could have such an unfulfilled "desire" is a direct attack on divine sovereignty. God is sovereign, they suggest, and He does whatever pleases Him. Whatever He desires, He does.

Let us be completely honest: this poses a difficulty. How can unfulfilled desire be compatible with a wholly sovereign God? For example, in Isaiah 46:10, God states, "My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure." He is, after all, utterly sovereign. It is not improper to suggest that any of His actual "desires" remain unfulfilled?

This issue was the source of an intense controversy among some Reformed and Presbyterian denominations about fifty years ago—sometimes referred to as the "free offer" controversy. One group denied that God loves the non-elect. They also denied the concept of common grace (God's non-saving goodness to mankind in general). And they denied that divine mercy and eternal life are offered indiscriminately to everyone who hears the gospel. The gospel offer is not free, they claimed, but is extended to the elect alone. That position is a form of hyper-Calvinism.

Scripture clearly proclaims God's absolute and utter sovereignty over all that happens. He declared the end of all things before time even began, so whatever comes to pass is in perfect accord with the divine plan.

What God has purposed, He will also do (Isa. 46:10-11; Num. 23:19). God is not at the mercy of contingencies. He is not subject to His creatures' choices. He "works all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11). Nothing occurs but that which is in accord with His purposes (cf. Acts 4:28). Nothing can thwart God's design, and nothing can occur apart from His sovereign decree (Isa. 43:13; Ps. 33:11). He does all His good pleasure: "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps" (Ps. 135:6).

But that does not mean God derives pleasure from every aspect of what He has decreed. God explicitly says that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:32; 33:11). He does not delight in evil (Isa. 65:12). He hates all expressions of wickedness and pride (Prov. 6:16-19). Since none of those things can occur apart from the decree of a sovereign God, we must conclude that there is a sense in which His decrees do not always reflect His desires; His purposes are not necessarily accomplished in accord with His preferences.

The language here is necessarily anthropopathic (ascribing human emotions to God). To speak of unfulfilled desires in the Godhead is to employ terms fit only for the human mind. Yet such expressions communicate some truth about God that cannot otherwise be expressed in human language. As noted in chapter 3, God's own Word uses anthropopathisms to convey truth about Him that cannot adequately be represented to us through any other means. To give but one example, consider Genesis 6:6: "The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." Yet we know that God does not change His mind (1 Sam. 15:29). He is immutable; "with [Him] there is no variation, or shifting shadow" (Jas. 1:17). So whatever Genesis 6:6 means, it cannot suggest any changeableness in God. The best we can do with such an anthropopathism is try to grasp the essence of the idea, then reject any implications we know would take us to ideas about God that are unbiblical.

That same principle applies when we are grappling with the question of God's expressed desire for the wicked to repent. If God's "desire" remains unfulfilled (and we know that in some cases, it does--Lk. 13:34), we cannot conclude that God is somehow less than sovereign. We know He is fully sovereign; we do not know why He does not turn the heart of every sinner to Himself. Nor should we speculate in this area. It remains a mystery the answer to which God has not seen fit to reveal. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God"; only "the things revealed belong to us" (Deut. 29:29). At some point, we must say with the psalmist, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain it" (Ps. 139:6).  
John MacArthur, The Love of God (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1996), 107–110.

Commenting on this book by MacArthur, Armstrong wrote:
A biblical study which demonstrates that the Father’s heart is one of love for all people, especially for His own. A good corrective to the emphasis of newer hyper-Calvinism.
John Armstrong, "Annotated Bibliography," Reformation and Revival 7:2 (Spring 1998): 146.

Gonzales on God's Heart for the Non-Elect

This sermon compliments the material by Sam Waldron in the previous post, which has been updated.

Brief Biography:

Robert R. Gonzales Jr. has been a pastor since 1997 and currently serves as one of the pastors of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church. He is a graduate of the Reformed Baptist School of Theology, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also holds a Master of Arts degree (M.A.) in Theology and a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) in Old Testament Interpretation from Bob Jones University. He is an Associate Editor of and contributor to the Reformed Baptist Theological Review (RBTR) and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). Bob and his wife, Becky, have five children.

November 10, 2008

Dr. Sam Waldron on the 1689 LBC and God's Saving Will

B. The free offer in the Bible

'But the witness which I receive is not from man, but I say these things, that you may be saved' (John 5:34). This text epitomizes the crux of the free offer. That crux is God's indiscriminate desire for the salvation of sinners. The 'these things' of the text refer to the testimony of John the Baptist to the messianic dignity of Jesus (John 5:33, 35–36). The phrase, 'that you may be saved', states Jesus' goal in mentioning the testimony of John. This clause begins with one of the most important Greek words which express purpose. His true purpose in alluding to the testimony of John is not to defend himself, but to save his hearers. The pronoun 'you' clarifies those who are the objects of Jesus' saving intention. This pronoun in this context plainly refers to the 'Jews' (cf. John 5:18–19, 33 with 1:19–24). Throughout this Gospel this designation refers to the Jewish leaders (5:10, 15, 16, 18, 33; 1:19–24; 9:22). The character of these 'Jews' is abundantly clear. They were those who, though blessed with great light (5:35), had ultimately rejected that light (5:38–47). These men were no ordinary sinners, but murderers who would bring about Jesus' death (5:16, 18; 18:12, 14, 31, 36, 38; 19:7, 12, 38; 20:19). The destiny of many of them, at least, was to die under the wrath of God (John 8:21, 24; Matt. 12:24, 31; 24:15–28; Luke 21:20–24; 1 Thess. 2:14–16). This very, in fact, teaches that these Jews, having rejected the true Messiah, would receive false messiahs (John 5:43). The phrase, 'I say', emphasizes that it was no one less than God's eternal Son (John 1:18; 5:18–26) and God's eternal Word who uttered these sentiments (John 1:1; 5:19, 43). Given this emphasis of the Gospel of John, we must recognize that Jesus here reveals God's heart and God's will (John 12:49–50; 14:10. 24; 17:8).

The doctrine of this text that God earnestly desires the salvation of every man who hears the gospel and thus freely offers Christ to them is confirmed throughout the rest of Scripture. The Bible teaches that the good gifts which God bestows upon men in general, including the non-elect, are manifestations of God's general love and common grace towards them (Matt. 5:43–48; Luke 6:35; Acts 14:17). While they do serve to increase the guilt of those who misuse them, this is not the sole intention of God towards the non-elect in giving them. The Scriptures teach that God desires the good even of those who never come to experience the good wished for them by God (Deut. 5:29; 32:29; Ps. 81:13–16; Isa. 48:18). The Scriptures also teach that God so loved sinners that in the person of his Son he weeps because of the destruction they bring upon themselves (Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34; 19:41–44). God emphatically expresses his desire that some should repent who do not repent (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11; Rom. 10:11). The Scriptures teach a general gospel call which comes to the hearers of the gospel indiscriminately and which may be, and often is resisted (Prov. 1:24; 8:4; Isa. 50:2; 65:12; 66:4; Jer. 7:13–14; 35:17; Matt. 22:14).

This biblical witness does not overthrow the scriptural teaching of an unconditional election and an irresistible grace. When our finite minds contemplate the glory of the incomprehensible God revealed in the Scriptures we often will be unable to penetrate completely how two seemingly contradictory truths may be reconciled. It ought, however, to rid us of every hesitation in calling men indiscriminately, passionately, freely and authoritatively to embrace Jesus Christ as he is freely offered in the gospel.
Samuel E. Waldron, Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1989), 121–122.
Most people who believe in particular redemption also believe in the free offer. I emphatically am one of them. God not only commands but also desires the salvation of everyone who hears the gospel, whether they are elect or not. This view is embedded in the Canons of Dort themselves (third and fourth heads, Article 8): “As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God has most earnestly and truly declared in His Word what is acceptable to Him, namely, that those who are called should come unto Him. He also seriously promises rest of soul and eternal life to all who come to Him and believe.”
Sam Waldron, “The Biblical Confirmation of Particular Redemption,” in Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, ed. E. Ray Clendenen & Brad J. Waggoner (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2008), 149.

Robert Reymond's (1932–2013) Denial of God's Universal Saving Will

25. Some Reformed theologians teach that God can and does earnestly desire, ardently long to see come to pass, and actually work to effect things which he has not decreed will come to pass. Basing his conclusions on his expositions on Deuteronomy 5:29, Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; Matthew 23:37 and 2 Peter 3:9, John Murray states in "The Free Offer of the Gospel," Collected Writings of John Murray (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982), that God represents himself as "earnestly desiring the fulfillment of something which he had not in the exercise of his sovereign will actually decreed to come to pass," that he "expresses an ardent desire for the fulfillment of certain things which he has not decreed in his inscrutable counsel to come to pass," that he "desires . . . the accomplishment of what he does not decretively will," that Christ "willed the bestowal of his saving and protecting grace upon those whom neither the Father nor he decreed thus to save and protect," that "God does not wish that any man should perish. His wish is rather that all should enter upon eternal life by coming to repentance," and finally, that "there is in God a benevolent lovingkindness towards the repentance and salvation of even those whom he has not decreed to save" (4:119, 130, 131–132). John H. Gerstner similarly asserts, but without the requisite scriptural support, in A Predestination Primer (Winona Lake, Ind.: Alpha Publications, 1979) 36–37, that God sincerely "strives with men whom He knows and has predestined should perish," that "God, who knows all things, including the fact that certain persons will in spite of all efforts reject and disbelieve, continues to work with them to persuade them to believe," and that "God, who knows the futility of certain endeavors to convert certain persons, proceeds to make these endeavors which He knows are going to be futile." If one followed this trajectory of reasoning to its logical end, one might also conclude that perhaps Christ, though he knew the futility of his endeavor, did after all die savingly for those whom his Father and he had decreed not to save. But all such reasoning imputes irrationality to God, and the passages upon which Murray relies for his conclusions can all be legitimately interpreted in such a way that the Christian is not forced to impute such irrationality to God. For these other interpretations I would refer the reader to John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Sovereign Grace, 1971), 4–6, 22–26, 28, 62.
Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), 692–693n25.


From the above citation, one can see that Robert Reymond does not think that God in any sense wills, wishes or desires to save the non-elect, in contrast to John Murray and the early John Gerstner. I say "early" John Gerstner because he changed his position (from that which is in his Primer), as can be seen in his Foreward to David Engelsma's Hyper-Calvinism & The Call of the Gospel, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1994), vii–ix, and his statements in Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism, 2nd ed. (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), 142–146.

It is also astonishing to see Robert Reymond's reference to and approval of John Gill on this point.

Similarly, Gordon Clark, who also appeals to John Gill on the will of God, said:
If this verse [Deut. 5:29] or any verse speaks of God as wishing the salvation of someone whom he has rejected as reprobate, there would be an inconsistency implying hypocrisy.
Gordon H. Clark, Biblical Predestination (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1974), 130. Also, in Clark’s commentary on 2 Peter 3:9, he said, “...God does not will the salvation of every member of the human race. It is not his will that every man without exception should repent.” See New Heavens, New Earth: A Commentary on First and Second Peter (Hobbs, NM: The Trinity Foundation, 1993), 231–232.

Gill, Hoeksema, Clark, Engelsma, and Reymond are all in agreement on this particular topic, though they differ on other matters.

November 9, 2008

Iain Murray on the Love of God and Hyper-Calvinism

Hyper-Calvinism, on the other hand, denies, in the words of John Murray, 'that there is a love of God that goes forth to lost men and is manifested in the manifold blessings which all men without distinction enjoy, a love in which non-elect persons are embraced, and a love that comes to its highest expression in the entreaties, overtures and demands of gospel proclamation.'3
3. 'The Atonement and the Free Offer of the Gospel' in the Banner of Truth (London, 1968), July-August, p. 29.
Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), 98.

Iain Murray on Spurgeon, Hyper-Calvinism and God's Saving Will

These quotations lead us on to the fourth and perhaps the most serious difference of all between evangelical Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism.

Hyper-Calvinism and the Love of God

Spurgeon saw that behind the distortion of predestination, and the unwillingness to believe that the gospel invitations are to be addressed freely to all men, lay a failure to understand what Scripture reveals about the character of God himself. 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. On the contrary, they taught that no man has any right to trust in a loving God until he has first some personal evidence that he is one of the chosen.

A sermon of 1858 which Spurgeon preached on 'Sovereign Grace and Man's Responsibility' identified this crucial difference with Hyper-Calvinism. He took for his text the words of God quoted by Paul in Romans 10:20-21, 'I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, all day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.' In such words Spurgeon saw the proof that God can be said to desire the salvation even of those who persist in rejecting him:

'Lost sinners who sit under the sound of the gospel are not lost for the want of the most affectionate invitation. God says he stretches out his hands ... What did he wish them to come for? Why, to be saved. "No," says one, "it was for temporal mercies." Not so, my friend; the verse before is concerning spiritual mercies, and so is this one, for they refer to the same thing. Now, was God sincere in his offer? God forgive the man who dares to say he was not. God is undoubtedly sincere in every act he did. He sent his prophets, he entreated the people of Israel to lay hold on spiritual things, but they would not, and though he stretched out his hands all the day long, yet they were "a disobedient and gainsaying people" and would not have his love.'1

Spurgeon regarded the denial of God's desire for the salvation of all men as no mere theoretical mistake. For it converged with one of the greatest obstacles to faith on the part of the unconverted, that is to say, a wrong view of the character of God. Men 'imagine that God is a severe being, angry and fierce, very easily moved to wrath, but not so easily to be induced to love.' The truth of divine love is the last to enter men's heads. Because Hyper-Calvinism is wrong here it fails to disabuse the minds of fallen men of this error. It does not give men the warning to be found in such evangelical Calvinists as John Owen who counseled, 'Let us not entangle our own spirits by limiting his grace ... We are apt to think that we are very willing to have forgiveness, but that God is unwilling to bestow it.' Scripture, Owen continued, sets forth the contrary in order 'to root out all the secret reserves of unbelief concerning God's willingness to give mercy, grace, and pardon unto sinners ... Therefore, the tendency of our former argument is, not merely to prove that there is forgiveness with God, which we may believe and not be mistaken, but which we ought to believe; it is our duty to do so. We are expressly commanded to believe, and that upon the highest promises and under the greatest penalties.'
1. NPSP, vol. 4, p. 341. As John Murray and Ned B. Stonehouse observe, 'It would appear that the real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men.' See 'The Free Offer of the Gospel' in Collected Writings of John Murray (Banner of Truth, 1982), vol. 4, pp. 113–32.
Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), 88–91.

November 8, 2008

Conference Chart

Here is a modified pdf copy of the chart I created in 2008 for Dr. David Allen to use at the John 3:16 Conference:

It compares Arminianism, Classic/Moderate Calvinism, High Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism on 8 different (but related) topics:

1) God's Love
2) God's Will
3) God's Grace
4) Gospel Offers
5) Christ's Death, or the Extent of Expiation and Redemption
6) Sufficiency
7) Human Ability
8) Responsibility

I believe he made enough copies for about 800 people, and I see that one person already has a low quality scan of it online. So, here is a much better copy to distribute.

Also, I did a radio interview (click) (or here) on this chart that may be helpful for further explanation.

Update on 9-27-11: In retrospect, I think it is proper to place William Twisse's name in the classic-moderate category on the atonement. Andrew Fuller's name should be qualified since he changed his position later in life. He was a High Calvinist on the atonement early on, then switched to the moderate camp. Also, William Carey's views are not yet known (insufficient documents), so he should not be listed, not even as a High Calvinist. When I made this chart, I was not sure about Fuller's switch, so I assumed he and Carey were both High-Calvinists. I have updated the "Notable Representatives" section of the chart to reflect these facts and others.

November 7, 2008

Ezekiel Culverwell (c.1554-1631) on God's Revealed Will in 2 Pet. 3:9; Ezek. 18:23, 32; Matt. 23:37 and 2 Cor. 5:20

"Having in the former part of this Treatise sufficiently proved by many Scriptures this point, that Christ and his benefits be freely offered without exception to all mankind, as that one place Mark 16:15 expressly shows; I only now advise every one who is kept from believing by this, that he knows not whether he be contained under the pardon or no, not to look to God's secret will, but to attend to God's revealed will in his Word, wherein it is expressly said, That God would have no man to perish, but would have all men come to repentance; and so oft. That he desires not the death of a sinner, that hereby he may be moved to seek and hope for that mercy, which God is so willing to bestow upon him, if the fault be not in his own self, as it was in the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem, of whom our Saviour complained, saying, How often would I have gathered thy Children, as the Hen gathereth her Chickens under her wings, & ye would not?

A further manifestation of this willingness in God to save sinners, may be seen in his gracious invitation of the unworthiest to come to the wedding of his Son: yea, more by his beseeching sinners to be reconciled to him: and by the many and weighty arguments he uses to persuade men to believe, by the great rewards, earthly and spiritual, temporal and eternal, which all believers shall enjoy; and by the fearful woes which shall fall on all unbelievers, both in this life, and that to come, as plentifully is to be seen throughout the Scriptures."
Ezekiel Culverwell, A Treatise of Faith (London: Printed by J.D. for H. Overton, and are to be sold by William Sheares, 1648), 184-186. I have updated the English.

Thomas Watson (c.1620–1686) on God's Will to Bring Men to Repentance

1. Now is the season of repentance—and everything is best done in its season. "Now is the accepted time" (2 Cor. 6:2); now God has a mind to show mercy to the penitent. He is on the giving hand. Kings set apart days for healing. Now is the healing day for our souls. Now God hangs forth the white flag and is willing to parley with sinners. A prince at his coronation, as an act of royalty—gives money, proclaims pardons, fills the conduits with wine. Now God promises pardons to penitent sinners. Now the conduit of the gospel runs wine. Now is the accepted time. Therefore come in now and make your peace with God. Break off your iniquities now by repentance. It is wisdom to take the season. The farmer takes the season for sowing his seed. Now is the seedtime for our souls.
Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1987), 87.
The Lord proceeds gradually in his judgments. First he sends a lesser trial—and if that will not do, then a greater one. He sends upon one a gentle illness to begin with—and afterwards a burning fever. He sends upon another a loss at sea—then the loss of a child—then a loss of a husband. Thus by degrees he tries to bring men to repentance.
Ibid., 116.


Thomas Watson (c.1620–1686) on Considering the Mercies of God

2. The second serious consideration to work repentance, is to consider the mercies of God.

A stone is soonest broken upon a soft pillow, and a heart of stone is soonest broken upon the soft pillow of God's mercies. "The goodness of God leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4). The clemency of a prince sooner causes relenting in a malefactor. While God has been storming others by his judgments—he has been wooing you by his mercies.

(1) What preventative mercies have we had? What troubles have been prevented, what fears blown over? When our foot has been slipping, God's mercy has held us up! (Psalm 94:18). His mercy has always been a screen between us and danger. When enemies like lions have risen up against us to devour us—free grace has snatched us out of the mouth of these lions! In the deepest waves the arm of mercy has upheld us—and has kept our head above water. And will not all of God's preventative mercies lead us to repentance?

(2) What positive mercies have we had! Firstly, in supplying mercy. God has been a bountiful benefactor, "the God who fed me all my life long unto this day" (Gen. 48:15). What man will spread a table for his enemy? We have been enemies—yet God has fed us! He has given us the horn of oil. He has made the honeycomb of mercy drop on us. God has been as kind to us—as if we had been his best servants. And will not this supplying mercy lead us to repentance? Secondly, in delivering mercy. When we have been at the gates of the grave, God has miraculously preserved our lives. He has turned the shadow of death into morning, and has put a song of deliverance into our mouth. And will not delivering mercy lead us to repentance? The Lord has labored to break our hearts with his mercies. In Judges, chapter 2, we read that when the angel had preached a sermon of mercy, "the people wept loudly." If anything will move tears, it should be the mercy of God. He is an obstinate sinner indeed—whom these great cable-ropes of God's mercy will not draw to repentance!
Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1987), 114–115.


November 6, 2008

Walter Travers (c.1548–1635) on the Solemn Commemoration of the Death of Christ

We do also administer it in both kinds, of bread and and wine. Further the minister doth take the bread and give thanks, break it and deliver it to the communicants. Likewise he taketh the cup and after thanksgiving, poureth out the wine in the cup to be delivered to all that are to be partakers of the communion. The people that do communicate receive the bread and eat it, and the wine likewise, and drink it.

Now the end and use of all this is added hereunto, which is in general the solemn commemoration of the death of Christ. In particular, and that first in regard of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, to magnify the goodness of God, in not sparing to give his only begotten Son for the redemption of the world; and to give him most due thanks for such his unspeakable grace and mercy. It is likewise to glorify our Saviour Christ, and to give thanks for his exceeding love to mankind, in that for our redemption, he hath vouchsafed to humble himself to take upon him our nature and the form of a servant, and in that nature to humble himself for us even to the death, and that the accursed death of the cross.
Walter Travers, Vindiciæ Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ: Or A Iustification of the Religion Now Professed in England (Printed at London by T. C. & R. C. for Michael Sparke, 1630), 45. I have updated some of the English.

Travers, a Puritan divine, was educated at the University of Cambridge, and then travelled to Geneva to visit Theodore Beza (with whom he formed a friendship). He was ordained by Thomas Cartwright in Antwerp. He was unwilling "to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles," and "declined to receive orders in the C. of E." "Throughout the 1580's, he was one of the leaders of Presbyterian activity in London. His principal works defended the Presbyterian form of Church government as of Dominical institution and proposed a scheme for practical implementation; they provided the most important English exposition of the Presbyterian case, and as such exercised great influence in that wing of the Puritan movement." See "Travers, Walter" in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, 3rd edition (Oxford University Press, 1997), 1637–38.

Edward Polhill (1622–1694) on Christ's Satisfaction and Unequal Love in God

Christ in his Coming and satisfactory Sufferings had a respect to all Men, so far as to procure for them Salvation on Gospel-terms, but he had not an equal respect to all; it being utterly unimaginable that he should have as great a respect to those in the Pagan World, who have no Christ, no atoning Sacrifice, no Promise of Life and Salvation revealed to them, as he hath to those in the Church, who have all these glorious Objects evidently set forth before them: Greater Donations argue greater degrees of Love; or else, which is very hard to believe, God loves all Creatures alike, notwithstanding that he measures out his Goodness to them in a very various and different manner, to some more, and to others less.
Edward Polhill, An Answer to the Discourse of Mr. William Sherlock Touching the Knowledge of Christ and our Union and Communion with Him (London: Printed for Ben. Foster, 1675), 104–105.


A Quote from William Jenkyn's (1612–1685) Dying Thoughts

Great is the heinousness of sin, since it can provoke a God of much Mercy to express much severity. That drop of Gall must needs be bitter that can imbitter a whole Sea of honey, how offensive must sin then be that can provoke a God, to whose Ocean of pity the Sea is but a drop! God doth not Afflict us willingly: He gives Honey naturally, but stings only when he is provoked by us. So that every Sufferer Coines his own Calamities, & there is no Arrow of Judgment falls down upon us, but what was first (in sinning) shot upwards by us; no shower of miseries sent down upon us, but what was First caused by the ascent of the vapours of our sin; Nor any Print of Calamity made on us, but sin is the Print that makes it. What a folly is it then for us in our suffering to be impatient against God, and yet patient with our sin, or to be angry with the Medicine, and yet in love with the disease. Let us justify God therefore in all our sufferings, and condemn ourselves.
Mr. Jenkins's Dying Thoughts: Who Departed this Life on Monday the 19th of this Instant January, in the Prison of Newgate (London: Printed for Edward Goldwin, 1685).


Jenkyn is one of my favorite Puritans. It seems that every sentence in his writings is loaded with wisdom and excellent illustrations.