I stumbled on an interesting blog piece. Evidently Dr. James White has been attacked as a s0-called “hyper-Calvinist” by some Amyraldian named, Tony Byrne, who is closely associated with another Amyraldian whack-job, David Ponter. Evidently some equally confused man, Dr. David Allen, got the ball rolling during a talk he gave at some “John 3:16” conference. Actually, calling these men anything other than Arminians would probably be inaccurate. Remember, Jacob Arminius and his protesting followers all considered themselves Reformed men as well, so don’t be fooled.
Anyway, two things I found interesting; 1) White cites a footnote by Robert Reymond in his response to Byrne which I’ve transcribed below and which is an excellent refutation of the heresy of the supposed sincere and “Free Offer of the Gospel” advanced by John Murray, Scott Clark and countless others. White offers this citation in his defense against the charge that he’s a “hyper-Calvinist.” And, 2) Phil Johnson’s extremely lame primer on hyper-Calvinism is evidently the basis for the attack on White, and with some considerable justification even if Johnson now tries to distance himself from his own handiwork. Johnson is evidently concerned that his shoddy work has been used in an attack against his friend James White. Big surprise.
First, consider this quote from Reymond:
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 of Deuteronomy 5:29, Ezekiel 18:23,32; 33:11; Mathew 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 come to pass,” that he “expresses an ardent desire for the fulfillment of certain things which he has not creed 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 conclusion s 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, Mich.: Sovereign Grace, 1971, 4-6, 22-26, 28, 62.” Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology, 2nd ed. (Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998). Fn. #25, pp. 692-693.
Now, consider the following selections from Johnson’s widely quoted and shoddy, A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism:
This is virtually the epitome of the hyper-Calvinist spirit: it is a denial that the gospel message includes any sincere proposal of divine mercy to sinners in general.
A hyper-Calvinist is someone who…denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal).
And now the clincher.
Type-3 hyper-Calvinism is based on a denial that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect. An alternative of this view merely denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal. For an excellent discussion of this issue, see “The Free Offer of the Gospel,” by John Murray and Ned B. Stonehouse (also available at the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s Web site).
If the hyper-Calvinists in England tend to be Baptists, in America the Presbyterian variety seems more common. The best-known American hyper-Calvinists are the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC). They deny that there is any sort of “offer” (in the sense of a proffer or tender or proposal of mercy) in the gospel message. They also deny that they are hyper-Calvinists, because they insist that the only variety of hyper-Calvinism is that which denies the gospel call (Type-1 above).
The most articulate advocate of the PRC position is David Engelsma, whose book Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel is an interesting but in my view terribly misleading study of the question of whether PRC theology properly qualifies as hyper-Calvinism. Engelsma does some selective quoting and interpretive gymnastics in order to argue that his view is mainstream Reformed theology. But a careful reading of his sources shows that he often quotes out of context, or ends a quote just before a qualifying statement that would totally negate the point he thinks he has made. Still, for those interested in these issues, I recommend his book, with a caution to read it very critically and with careful discernment.
White and Reymond are Type-3 Hyper-Calvinists according to Johnson and for Johnson to suggest otherwise is disingenuous at best. My guess is Johnson is now embarrassed that his broad brush has now painted his friend James White into a corner.