The Sincere Insanity of the Well Meant Offer

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.

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53 Comments on “The Sincere Insanity of the Well Meant Offer”

  1. brandon Says:

    I noticed that Phil Johnson has not replied to your comment on his blog yet. I hope he does.

    I think Pink is very helpful in this regard. He notes the following in his “Sovereignty of God”

    Concerning the character and contents of the Gospel the utmost confusion prevails today. The Gospel is not an “offer” to be bandied around by evangelical peddlers. The Gospel is no mere invitation but a proclamation, a proclamation concerning Christ; true whether men believe it or not. No man is asked to believe that Christ died for him in particular. The Gospel, in brief, is this: Christ died for sinners, you are a sinner, believe in Christ, and you shall be saved. In the Gospel God simply announces the terms upon which men may be saved (namely, repentance and faith) and, indiscriminately, all are commanded to fulfill them.

    and he stated the following in a sermon:

    Why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust his precious blood for yourself, and why not tonight? Why not tonight, my friend? God is ready, God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice has been offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight. ‘Come, for all things are now ready.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    I take it your quote from Sovereignty of God is the the neutered posthumously edited version Ian Murray at Banner of Occasional Truth Trust put out a number of years ago?

    Did you know that Murray’s piece on the so-called “sincere offer” where God is supposed to earnestly desire things for which he has not decreed, was written in response to the Clark controversy?

    Also, I noticed Scott Clark chimed in on this as well implying that Reymond and White are “Hyper-Calvinists” when he writes:

    Let’s be clear here. Believing in predestination and reprobation does not make one a “hyper-Calvinist.” Denying the free-offer of the gospel does.John Murray wrote one of the best defenses of the free offer in recent times…the mainstream of orthodox Calvinism, including Calvin, has always embraced the mystery and paradox of the free offer.

    Can it be any clearer. Reject Murray on the “sincere offer” like Reymond and White have done and you’re a “hyper-Calvinist.” Evidently Clark is oblivious to the work of
    Raymond Blacketeer’s “Reexamination of the So-Called Well-Meant Offer of Salvation.”

    Scott is right about the “mainstream” however, even if he’s oblivious to the fact that such blatant irrationality is the main reason Calvinism remains in the backwaters of Evangelicalism and is rightly rejected as the nonsense men like Scott assert and admit that it is. All the pious sounding appeals to “paradox” and “mystery” doesn’t make it any less nonsensical.

    I will say, at least in the response I read from White, he seems unwilling to embrace the incoherent paradoxical religion Scott defends and with Reymond refuses to impute irrationality to God. God bless them. I guess we’ll see how consistent White is when men like Clark figure it out and go after him. I recommend Clark’s entire response since it is typical Vantilian neo-Orthodox leap into the irrational.

  3. brandon Says:

    The quote was actually from the online copy at reformed.org, but I double checked my copy and it’s complete at that point. I am aware of the disgraceful editing in the Banner of Truth edition.

    I wasn’t aware that Murray’s piece was in response to Clark, but I knew it was certainly related. I really do not enjoy most of what Scott Clark says, including his foreward to Murray’s paper: http://www.wscal.edu/clark/freeoffer.php

    I’ve read through many of the articles the PRCA has on the topic and it was very helpful in trying to sort the issue out. I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone as to what was and wasn’t hyper calvinism and they were some of the few who actually sought to make sense of it all.

    I tried to summarize the issue on wikipedia to help others trying to navigate the murky waters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_free_offer_of_the_gospel

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    If you’re familiar with the PRC’s battle over the WMO, and it seems that you are, the Blacketeer piece I linked to above is significant because here is one of the big guns in the CRC going a very long way in vindicating Hoeksema.

    FWIW and per your quote of Murray, I have always been struck by the similarities between the fight over the incoherence of the WMO and the current struggle over the FV/NPP. Actually, I recall Hoeksema arguing that his battle with Schilder was the WMO all over again, but only in terms of the covenant. The form of the arguments advance are virtually identical. For example, Murray says; “The grace offered is nothing less than salvation in its richness and fullness. The love or lovingkindness that lies back of that offer is not anything less; it is the will to that salvation.” Now, put that in terms of baptism and the idea of a conditional covenant of grace and the supposed relationship of Christ to the non-elect initiated though baptism and they’re almost identical. It’s weird that Scott Clark would defend such nonsense in the name of paradox and mystery, yet reject the FV when they advance essentially the same arguments making the same claim to paradox and mystery. Talk about blessed inconsistency. 😉

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    As for Johnson, I don’t expect too much from him. He considered Clark and Robbins first rate “hyper Calvinists” for making the IDENTICAL argument now being advanced by White with Reymond for support in his little video response to Byrne. Reymond completely rejects the arguments advanced by Murray and Johnson states quite clearly that a rejection of Murray on this point is Type 3 Hyper Calvinism. I guess he makes exceptions for his friends like White and only slanders those he doesn’t like.

  6. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Sean,
    Until Christians are taught to accept rationality as a Christian/Biblical virtue, logical consistency as a characteristic of truth and God, and that there is nothing beyond Truth and that God is truth they will NOT reject the assertion of contradictions, paradox, mystery and the unknowable, and nonsense will continue to be banded around as Christian piety!
    Lately, James Anderson has written a book that purportedly establishes paradox in Christian doctrines. How any one can fail to see the logical contradiction involved in asserting a paradox is nothing short of amazing. If we accept paradox, then virtually anybody can assert any nonsense and claim paradox as defense. In fact one cannot call anything false and nonsense on account of inconsistency or contradiction, if one accepts paradox. Even Buddhism or any religion for that matter would have to be accepted as truth on account of their abundance in paradoxes!
    But of course people are inconsistent. Scripture says, ¨In the beginning was the Logic and the Logic was with God and the Logic was God!¨

    Denson.

  7. justbybelief Says:

    Sean,

    R.S. Clark wrote: “Reformed orthodoxy does speak of two wills or two aspects of the divine will. We do not know the decree/will of God as it is in him. God is omniscient and incomprehensible. We are not.”

    If this is true, that Reformed Orthodoxy speaks of two wills in God, it is confusion and Reformed Orthodoxy is in ERROR and if one is reformed and believes this one must repent.

    The crux of the matter is their doctrine of God. It is to bad they don’t read the second commandment more closely. You know, the one that forbids making idols. God has one will, not two, and this one will never conflicts. God is NOT double minded. A house divided against itself will not stand. God has revealed to us what He wants us to know. about his will. If we don’t understand God’s one will it does not give us license to create another will, or a conflict in the one will, ex-nihilo, to suit us. This is adding to scripture and creating a ‘god’ in our image. Our lack of understanding, or preferably, lack of STUDY, does not constitute grounds to make up doctrine, or create God in our image. There can only be one will in God.

    In one of his lectures John Robbins commended WSC for its stand on the gospel and especially Robert Godfrey’s commendable stand against J.I. Packer and a Catholic on the doctrine of justification by faith alone in open debate, but warned that the same Van Tillian irrationalism that plagued WTS was alive and well at WSC.

    The human heart is indeed an idol forge.

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    While I certainly have my differences with R.S. Clark, there is a sense where we can talk of God having two wills. The problem is the trap Clark has fallen into which is to equivocate on the different senses while imputing to the one that which is specific to the other. The commands or precepts of God are an expression of God’s will toward man because they tell us what we “ought” to do. Similarly, God decreed whatsoever comes to pass, including the many violations of his precepts, and this too can be said to be the will of God. So, in once sense if it was God’s will that no man commit murder then no man would ever commit murder. Clearly that is not God’s will.

    The problem the many defenders of the so-called “Free Offer” make is that the infer something in the indicative (God’s desire for the salvation of all men) from something written in the imperative (God’s command that the Gospel be preached to all men). This is their first logical blunder which stems from their shoddy exegesis of critical passages, like 2 Peter 3:9 or 1 Timothy 2:4, to disguise and even justify their initial error.

    Of course, few are willing to say Murray’s exegesis stinks and for some that is a bigger sin than imputing irrationality to God.

    Of course, these men recognize that their error results in a contradiction, that’s why R.S. Clark, as the confused Vantilian he is, simply attributes the self-refuting nonsense Murray has advanced as just another example of the Creator/creature distinction chalking it up to Van Til’s anti-Christian doctrine of incomprehensibility while asserting omniscience as the only means to solve the paradox Murray has created.

  9. justbybelief Says:

    Sean,

    I realize you have differences with R.S. Clark and I apologize if it seemed I was using your blog as a platform to ‘bash’ him, I wasn’t. My primary criticism was of the Reformed Tradition in saying God has two wills, which Dr. Clark follows, IF this is what those in the Reformed tradition believe. Dr. Clark was making a statement about what has been held traditionally within the Reformed Church.

    While there is a sense in which many ‘speak’ this way about God’s will, God still has only one will. If God had two wills it would mean He desired ‘something’ should, and should not, be at the same time, which is simply impossible. God brings about everything that comes to pass according to the purpose of His own will for His own Glory. His Glory is tied more closely to His will than we realize. My point is this, if we don’t understand how God could command Adam not to eat, and willed that he eat at the same time, it simply won’t do to ascribe two wills to God. There is another solution, but this is not it, nor is paradox. This may not be a good example of the so called ‘two wills,’ but my point, I think, is made.

    Respectfully

    Eric

  10. gusg Says:

    This used to confuse me alot, until I reflected on a few things. English is not a good language for theological precision. That is why so much good theology is written in other languages. The preferred language of theological discourse used to be Latin, but it can also be German. So I will through out a few thoughts:
    1. Defined as volition, there is only one will of God, it is an incommunicable attribute of a simple spirit, and not a faculty.
    2. This one “will” has two aspects: what is revealed and required (prescriptive will of God). And what is unrevealed and predestined which is the decretive will of God.
    3. The prescriptive will of God is an aspect of His holiness which is a communicable attribute, and therefore is always in the imperative.
    4. The decretive will of God is an aspect of his omnipotence which is an incommunicable attribute and is always in the declarative.
    5. The decretive will of God is what is predistinated and is always revealed, when revealed in prophecy. In other words prophecy is the decretive will of God.
    6. This is when the decretive will of God, properly understood is also a manifestation of God’s wisdom. See: Eph. 1

    Its heresy to believe that God desires what he does not decree, because it implies either:
    a. God did not decree everything.
    b. God desires what is not wise.
    c. God’s wisdom isnot always what he desires.
    d. God can desire what he does not want, and want what is not wise.

    In other words, it violates the WCF’s teaching that God is a simple spirit, without parts and faculties. It also violates the Westminster Standards on the aseity of God, and that God is fully realized. In other words, there is no “part” of God that every other part of God does not know. When a being is ignorant of his internal incoherence, we have a word for that, “INSANITY”.

    I conclude that though those who believe that God sincerely desires the salvation of those he did not elect, may be Christians, because they ignorantly assert blasphemy, they should NOT be Christians, if they were driven to a realization of the conscious implications of such beliefs.

    I would point out two things:
    1. I not only should not listen to a man who claims to be a teacher in the visible Catholic church, when such insanity is asserted, but I should also strenuously warn others against him, unless he publically recants, and perhaps goes into seclusion for a while to learn the BASICS of Christian theology. Even the great apostle Paul spent 14 years in the wilderness.
    2. Few if any who are involved in these debates realize just how occultic and cultic this kind of argumentation. I do, having studied the cults for years. The founder of the Way International, was an evangelical pastor in a free church denomination, who believed that the voice of God the Father was going to teach him the Gospel that was taught to the apostles, but lost. His name was Victor Paul Weirville. He came to believe that justifcation was by belief alone, in a Christ who was not God. EVERY single Christian cult is based on ideas that are internally irrational and chaotic.

    I hope that some of you will interact with these ideas.

    Thanks Sean for your wonderful blog.

    God Bless,

    Gus Gianello

  11. justbybelief Says:

    Gus,

    OK.

    According to God’s perceptive will he commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of the Garden of good and evil. So, according to God’s perceptive will He doesn’t want Adam to eat. But since we know Adam did eat, God indeed decreed him to eat and in turn it was God’s will that Adam eat. In this scenario there is a ‘conflict’ between God’s perceptive will and God’s decretive will. That is, God doesn’t want Adam to eat by command yet ordains him to eat and wants him to eat by decree. Have I articulated this correctly and is this what you are asserting?

    Eric

  12. gusg Says:

    Dear Eric,
    It is God’s prescriptive will not “perceptive” will. Secondly, there is only an apparent contradiction between the two, since both are driven by the wisdom of
    God, and we are not omniscient. It has not been revealed to us how God could tell Adam not to eat, and yet predestine that he would eat, without being self-contradictory, or incoherent. But we do know that God is not either, because He tells us so. Also, I am trying to be faithful to all that Scripture says, but that is not to say that I could not be wrong. My original post was only a statement of a “work in progress” and is certainly open to amendment as a result of Scripture or a deduction from it, by “good and necessary consequence.”

    Gus

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Gus. I’ve never really approached the question from the direction you’re going in, but you make some excellent points. Thanks. On a similar note, the minority report adopted by the OPC in 1948 (Murray’s Free Offer nonsense sadly made up the majority report at the time) states:

    (b) Elements in human desire unsuited to the perfection of God can be mentioned. Desire suggests a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire. This is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of God. Desire is something weaker than the firm determination of the will. No such weak wishing can properly be ascribed to God whose will is firmly fixed and fixes all things. God has not a will that can be frustrated as well as one that cannot be.

    (c) The particular passages of Scripture alleged to support frustratable desires no more prove desire as an emotion or passion in God than the assertion “it repented God…” etc. proves a real change of his mind, or that God actually desired to know that the wickedness of Sodom was as it had been represented to him.

    This position, far from being rationalism, as the Complaint alleges, is in accord with the teaching of the Confession of Faith that God is without parts and passions.

    [For the whole text of the minority report, see: http://puritanreformed.blogspot.com/2008/11/minority-report-of-15th-general.html ]

    It seems that if we’re to believe the Free Offer crowd, the majority report offered by Murray was the last word. It was not. Clearly some in the OPC at one time had a better grasp of the issue and what’s at stake concerning the doctrine of God.

  14. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Eric,
    Your question is not unlike the old age question about God & evil. If God is good and omnipotent why is there evil? There is no contradiction at all between God being good and yet decreeing evil. There is no contradiction at all between God commanding us not to sin and God decreeing us to sin. God is sovereign. Some one gave an illustration of a writer whose story contains characters that are thieves murderers etc etc. This does not make the novelist a wicked man or self-contradictory. He is in control of the story and reading to the end usually allows us to appreciate it. In any case if God had not decreed these things, just to what could one credit their occurrence? Gordon Clark has a whole chapter, 33 pages of very thorough and delicate argumentation on the problem in Religion, Reason and Revelation(chapter 5). Perhaps you could avail yourself of Clarkś discussion.

    Denson.

  15. ynottony Says:

    Hi Sean,

    I wanted to pass these comments along to you as well. They are from Phil Johnson on the Theology List on Yahoo:

    “3. There are some who call themselves Calvinists but who deny that the gospel includes any _bona fide_, well-meant offer of mercy or sincere plea for all hearers to be reconciled to God. I have argued that such a view is not Calvinism at all; it is hyper-Calvinism. (I have an article posted on the Web that explains why I believe that label is justified.)”

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Theology_list/message/9967

    Notice that in this quote Phil associates the denial of the “well-meant offer” with hyper-Calvinism, and then appeals to his article on the web [the Primer] to explain why that label is justified for one who denies it.

    Phil also said:

    “The root of your problem is that you apparently imagine a conflict would exist in the will of God if God, who has not ordained some men to salvation, nonetheless desires all men to repent and seek His mercy. That is, in fact, precisely the false dilemma virtually all hyper-Calvinists make for themselves. They cannot reconcile God’s preceptive will with His decretive will, so they end up (usually) denying the sincerity of the preceptive will, or else denying that the pleading and calls to salvation apply to all who hear the gospel.”

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Theology_list/message/24889

    In the above quote, Phil is criticizing someone for not believing that God desires things [namely the salvation of the non-elect] that he has not decreed to come to pass. He calls the view that either God only desires the elect to believe/repent or God desires all men to believe/repent a “false dilemma” that virtually all “hyper-Calvinists” make for themselves. He appeals to the distinction between the preceptive will and decretive will to explain the view that God is sincerely pleading with and calling all men to salvation in the revealed will.

    As you noted above, James White agrees with Robert Reymond on the point. Any middle ground is excluded. Either God desires the salvation of all in the preceptive will or he does not. White thinks he does not, just like Reymond. Since that is in fact the case, how can Phil consistently say that his descriptions of hyper-Calvinism in his Primer [and elsewhere] do not apply to James White? Either his Primer does or does not speak to the issue of the well-meant offer, and by necessary implication God’s desire/will. If 1) his Primer does speak to this, and 2) White does not believe God is well-meaningly offering anything to the non-elect, then 3) White, by Phil’s criteria, is a hyper-Calvinist.

  16. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Tony.

    Evidently on this issue this is one time we’re in complete agreement. For Phil to backpedal now that one of his friends has been labeled a “hyper-Calvinist” based on Phil’s own definition is pure hypocrisy. It’s almost as irrational as trying to infer something in the indicative from something written in the imperative.

    Phil can really do only one of two things:

    1) Admit that based on his own definition both James White and Robert Reymond are type-3 “hyper-Calvinists,” or,

    2) Repent of his broad-brush smear and admit that a denial of the Free Offer doctrine advanced by Murray and Stonehouse is not “hyper-Calvinism.”

    FWIW I don’t expect him to do either. Evidently his evasive response to you and others in support of White was enough for White, so I imagine that was enough for Phil too.

    Phil was quite happy to have his so-called “primer on hyper-Calvinism” used to libel the good names of Clark, Robbins, Hoeksema, Engelsma and countless others. I suspect that hasn’t changed, even if those men have advanced the exact same arguments against God’s imagined desire for the salvation of the reprobate White and Reymond have.

  17. justbybelief Says:

    Denson,

    “Your question is not unlike the old age question about God & evil.”

    Respectfully, I didn’t have a question. I made an assertion. My assertion is that there are not two wills in God. I stand by this assertion. I know God ordains evil. And, we know from the Bible when God gave the Ten Commandments according to the so called prescriptive will that His will was not that they should keep them as we find out from Romans but that through them God concluded all under sin. They were given to SHOW sin not to make righteous. In fact they were prescribed to one person with the intent of showing righteousness, that was Jesus Christ and being righteous He fulfilled them.

    This brings me to my statements concerning Adam. Just because God commanded Adam not to eat, does not mean that His will was that he not eat. His will was to test Adam. God indeed weighs the hearts (minds) of men. His test of Adam and will that he fall was so that He could reveal Jesus Christ and show the glory of His grace and the justice of his wrath to his creatures. This is why I said above that God’s will is tied to His glory.

    There are indeed some puzzles here, but I still assert that there is one will in God.

    Again, Respectfully,

    Eric

  18. muddybrain Says:

    I’d be interested to see what you folks do with Dabney’s argument about a “complex of motives in God”? Logically this would be e. in Gus’ list but which would avoid the subsequent problem.

    Martin

  19. ynottony Says:

    Hi Sean,

    What is confusing to me is that Phil in the comment thread of his post called Gordon Clark an “Ultra-High Calvinist.” Is that supposed to be a distinct category from hyper-Calvinism? He seemed to be suggesting that it was. I was arguing as follows: If A) Gordon Clark is hyper because of his view of God’s will and the offer and B) Reymond agrees with Clark on those very points, then C) White is also a hyper-Calvinist because he agrees with Reymond on those points. A>B>C. Right?

    On the Theology List years ago, he said this:

    “I’ve never heard it used that way. “High Calvinism” is an alternative term for supralapsarianism. Some supras are hyper-Calvinists; not all are. If I were speaking of hyper-Calvinists, I would have used that term. If I wanted to signify “hyper-Calvinism” without using the label you find offensive, I would have said “ultra-high calvinism.”

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Theology_list/message/24473

    Back then it seems that “ultra-high Calvinism” was functionally equivalent to “hyper-Calvinism.”

    Also, as you have pointed out, it is clear that he thinks Hoeksemian theology is a form of hyper-Calvinism. If it is not clear from his Primer, it is clear in what he has said on the Theology list:

    “The PRC themselves deny the well-meant offer, and they insist that this does NOT make them hyper-Calvinists. They define hyper-Calvinism in a much more narrow sense, specifically in order to have a definition of hyper-Calvinism that doesn’t apply to them.

    But they stand almost alone in this. In fact, among those who have done serious study on the subject of hyper-Calvinism, practically everyone BUT the PRC would classify a denial of the well-meant offer as hyper-Calvinism.”

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Theology_list/message/30840

    If Hoeksema and the PRC’s are hyper-Calvinists because of their denial of the well-meant offer, then why would he call Clark [in the context of a discussion about Reymond and White] an “ultra-high Calvinist” when he holds the same position on the offer? Apparently I am the one suffering from an inability to read things carefully and correctly, according to Phil Johnson. Explicitly denying that 1) God desires the salvation of all men is the same as 2) denying the well-meant gospel offer. Iain Murray certainly thinks so, and so did Hoeksema for that matter. If Hoeksema, Clark and Reymond are hyper-Calvinists for these two things [by Phil’s criteria], then why isn’t White as well? I may be an “Amyraldian whack-job,” but I believe I am still capable of accurately reading what Phil says and forming sound arguments 😉

  20. Sean Gerety Says:

    If A) Gordon Clark is hyper because of his view of God’s will and the offer and B) Reymond agrees with Clark on those very points, then C) White is also a hyper-Calvinist because he agrees with Reymond on those points. A>B>C. Right?

    Seems right to me. Of course, I don’t consider Clark, Reymond or even White hyper-Calvinists or even what Phil calls “über-high Calvinists,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, but I don’t see any other way of reading Phil’s so-called “primer” on hyper-Calvinism or even the quotes you’ve provided .

    After all, Murray’s defense of the Free Offer was written in response to Clark and his defenders in the OPC, including those who voted in favor of the minority report (see link above), so I can’t see Phil as offering some sort of middle ground in order to defend his pal White, since the positions are really mutually exclusive.

    If Hoeksema and the PRC’s are hyper-Calvinists because of their denial of the well-meant offer, then why would he call Clark [in the context of a discussion about Reymond and White] an “ultra-high Calvinist” when he holds the same position on the offer? . . . I may be an “Amyraldian whack-job,” but I believe I am still capable of accurately reading what Phil says and forming sound arguments

    Whack-job or not, again I think Phil is now just embarrassed that his friend James White has been beat over the head by the brickbat he provided. Must be something about reaping what he’s sowed. 🙂

  21. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Eric,
    Soory, my misunderstanding! I agree with you totally!

    Denson.

  22. justbybelief Says:

    Denson,

    “Gordon Clark has a whole chapter, 33 pages of very thorough and delicate argumentation on the problem in Religion, Reason and Revelation(chapter 5). Perhaps you could avail yourself of Clarkś discussion.”

    I will indeed avail myself of Clark’s discussion and now have a reason to buy another one of his books. Thanks for the recommendation! I agree that this is a delicate matter, a razors edge, as it were. There is nothing less than a proper understanding of the diety and divine character at stake.

    Eric

  23. Sean Gerety Says:

    Eric, I think Denson has already conceded that he misunderstood you.

  24. justbybelief Says:

    Sean,

    I must have come across differently than I intended. I apologize for not being clear. I was simply ‘voicing’ appreciation for Denson’s recommendation of Clark’s book and his concern that I think correctly. I was hoping to respond in kind, with good will, by taking Denson’s advice. I don’t have the book but have heard it is excellent. He pushed the button that has induced me to buy it. I am interested in ‘hearing’ how Clark explains the subject.

    Respectfully,

    Eric

  25. rgmann Says:

    “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” — Psalm 115:3

    “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” — Isaiah 55:11

    If these passages are true, then if follows that it “pleases” God to hide the truth of the Gospel from the reprobate (cf. Matthew 11:26), and that He “desires” to cause them to disobey His command to believe in His Son (cf. John 12:39-40). I’m not sure how else these verses can be legitimately understood. To argue that God “desires” the salvation of the reprobate flatly contradicts Scripture.

    By the way, in addition to Clark’s work already mentioned, another excellent treatment of the “problem of evil” in relation to God’s sovereignty has been written by Vincent Cheung:

    The Author of Sin. This is a full treatment of the subject.

    The Problem of Evil. This is a shorter excerpt from The Author of Sin.

  26. justbybelief Says:

    rgmann,

    “To argue that God ‘desires’ the salvation of the reprobate flatly contradicts Scripture.”

    Amen!!!

    Eric

  27. Eric Says:

    I continue to think about this issue and the thought of Augustine’s qoute, “Grant what you command, and command what you will,” came to mind.

    In this quote it seems Augustine recognizes God’s sovereignty over salvation (or not), justification, and sanctification.

    Eric


  28. […] The Sincere Insanity of the Well Meant Offer God’s Hammer Well Meant Hypocrisy ? More Observations on the Free Offer God’s Hammer YouTube – Demanding Irrationality […]

  29. deangonzales Says:

    Having read this post and the subsequent comments, I wonder how the line of thought that finds paradox (defined as an apparent not real contradiction) as “insane” would escape the same dilemma when trying to (1) affirm that God is not the author of evil while, simultaneously, (2) affirming that God plans, controls, and employs evil to accomplish his purposes. If God has written the script for creation history and inserted evil into that script, how can one avoid the seemingly logical conclusion that God is in fact the “author of evil”?

  30. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Dean, a little far afield of the thread topic, however I would recommend “Determinism and Responsibility” by Gordon Clark at:

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/077DeterminismandResponsibility.pdf

    Robert Reymond also does a nice job illustrating Clark’s arguments in his Systematics.

  31. deangonzales Says:

    Sean,

    Thanks for the recommended link. Getting more back to the topic of this post, I’ve just uploaded something of a biblical defense of the well-meant offer and “counterpoint” to this post which can be found here:

    http://blog.rbseminary.org/2009/05/god-makes-a-wish-that-each-and-every-sinner-might-be-saved/

  32. Sean Gerety Says:

    That is getting back on topic. However, your so-called “counterpoint” fails before it even starts and is another excellent example of the illogic of the Well Meant Offer crowd. You write:

    The Lord expressly desired that Adam and Eve refrain from eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:16-17), yet he ordained their Fall (Gen. 3:1-6).

    However, notice that Genesis 2:16-17 is written in the imperative mood:

    And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”

    From this you wrongly conclude that “The Lord expressly desired that Adam and Eve refrain from eating the forbidden fruit….” The problem is you cannot infer ANYTHING in the indicative mood from something written in the imperative. Fittingly, Martin Luther ridiculed Erasmus for making this same elementary blunder only concerning the false idea of a free will:

    Even grammarians and schoolboys on street corners know that nothing more is signified by verbs in the imperative mood than what ought to be done, and that what is done or can be done should be expressed by words in the indicative. How is it that you theologians are twice as stupid as schoolboys, in that as soon as you get hold of a single imperative verb you infer an indicative meaning…? [The Bondage of the Will, 159]

    It is particularly troubling when the Dean of the Reformed Baptist Seminary has failed to learn as much as “schoolboys on street corners.”

  33. deangonzales Says:

    Sean,

    Thanks for your response. I’m sorry you consider me more ignorant than an elementary schoolboy. I’ll do my best to improve your first impressions.

    You take issue with my assertion, “The Lord expressly desired that Adam and Eve refrain from eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:16-17),” by noting the obvious: “Genesis 2:16-17 is written in the imperative mood.” From this you conclude, “[One] cannot infer ANYTHING in the indicative mood from something written in the imperative” and you cite Martin Luther for support.

    Well, despite my respect for Martin Luther and desire to show courtesy to you, I beg to differ from you both. One may indeed infer a volitional desire from a prescribed command on the part of the lawgiver.

    First, the optative mood in Deuteronomy 5:29 is volitional in character as is the imperative moods of the Bible. Hence, there is a semantic relationship between the imposition of an obligation and the desire for compliance with said command on the part of the one who imposes it.

    Second, Scripture confirms that divine commands imply divine (preceptive) desires. For example, in 1 Samuel , God commands Saul to “strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (1 Sam. 15:3). Saul disobeys God’s command (15:9). In response, the prophet Samuel delivers Saul the following rebuke, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” Note carefully how Samuel correctly infers divine complacency (i.e., desire, delight) from imperative.

    Sean, Luther was correct to oppose Erasmus’s libertarian view of free will. But that doesn’t mean everyone of Luther’s arguments against Erasmus was valid. Similarly, Calvinists are correct to defend God’s absolute sovereignty against Arminians. They go wrong, however, when they draw improper inferences from the doctrine of God’s decree, which contradict other clear teaching in Scripture. My appeal to you is the same I left with Ben. Please take the time to provide us with some credible exegesis of Deuteronomy 5:29. That’s your homework assignment for today 🙂

    Your servant,
    Bob Gonzales

  34. Sean Gerety Says:

    Well, despite my respect for Martin Luther and desire to show courtesy to you, I beg to differ from you both. One may indeed infer a volitional desire from a prescribed command on the part of the lawgiver.

    Why? Because you say so? I’m quite sure that would be news to logician Dr. Elihu Carranza who wrote the workbook for Gordon Clark’s, Logic. In a brief discussion on propositions, which Carranza rightly observes are alone “the premises and conclusions of arguments” and which alone can be either true or false, he notes that commands, questions and exhortations “are neither true nor false.” So, how you think you can infer a desire or anything at all from a prescribed command remains a mystery? Besides, simply making the same assertion again and again in different forms doesn’t really help further your argument, now does it?

    Consequently, I’m sad to say you are really not doing anything to improve first impressions.

    Saul disobeys God’s command (15:9). In response, the prophet Samuel delivers Saul the following rebuke, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” Note carefully how Samuel correctly infers divine complacency (i.e., desire, delight) from imperative.

    Samuel was a prophet through whom God spoke. Last I checked even deans of Baptist Reformed seminaries are not. 😉 Consequently, Samuel was not inferring anything even if you continue to try. The verse states God delights in those who obey His voice, but clearly His desire for Saul (assuming you kept reading) was that he would disobey and be dethroned. The outcome of the story is a far superior indicator of God’s desire for King Saul. Besides, Proverbs 21:1 tells us that “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Consequently, if it was God’s desire that Saul “strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has,” then it follows that Saul would have done as God commanded. God clearly desired another end for Saul.

    So, again, we see that you err by trying to infer something in the indicative from something written in the imperative.

    Sean, Luther was correct to oppose Erasmus’s libertarian view of free will. But that doesn’t mean everyone of Luther’s arguments against Erasmus was valid.

    Luther’s appropriate use of ridicule aside, until you can demonstrate where Luther erred in this most elementary question of logic, I think I’ll stand with him.

    Similarly, Calvinists are correct to defend God’s absolute sovereignty against Arminians. They go wrong, however, when they draw improper inferences from the doctrine of God’s decree, which contradict other clear teaching in Scripture.

    Arminians probably have a good case for rejecting Calvinism when professing Calvinist continue to foolishly impute irrationality to God concerning God’s imagined universal desire for the salvation of all. Even Arminians aren’t that stupid.

    As Job noted, the God of Scripture (as opposed to the Arminian god and the little god of that Amyraldian David Ponter who has littered your blog site with high praise and support) “is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such decrees are with Him.” It is God’s decree that inform us as to what God desires, for the simple reason that whatever God desires is what He does. You evidently do not believe this. Instead, you folks refashion God in your own imagine. Because you cannot do all that you desire, you presume that God doesn’t either (even if you wouldn’t dare suggest that He can’t). Then, to disguise your handiwork, you argue that it is God’s precepts that reveal His desire. Well, and you will admit, so does God’s decree. Besides pure sophistry, your position is absurd and not only for the logical reasons Luther mentioned. Your position is left with a God both desiring and not desiring the same thing in the same sense. Simply adding the words “perceptive” and “decretive” as predicates to the word “desire” fools no one. You men are left saying God desires the salvation of the elect alone “in the decretive sense,” while at the same time desiring the salvation of all in the “preceptive sense,” yet it is a distinction without meaning. Why? Because even those same schoolboys on the street corners can see that if God both desires and does not desire the same thing they rightly conclude that such a God is insane. They’re not fooled by equivocation on the word “will” and they realize, even if you don’t, that considering God’s will in the sense of His precepts tells us nothing of what God’s desire. Rather, God’s commands simply tell us what we ought to do.

    My appeal to you is the same I left with Ben. Please take the time to provide us with some credible exegesis of Deuteronomy 5:29. That’s your homework assignment for today 🙂

    While I confess I would not pay to attend the Reformed Baptist Seminary, I hardly think you’re in any position to be assigning me homework. So why not a little quid-pro-quo and perhaps you will consider this from your own John Gill (who, I suspect, you probably slander as a “hyper-Calvinist”):

    Deu 5:29 O that there were such an heart in them,…. Not that there is properly speaking such volitions and wishes in God; but, as Aben Ezra observes, the Scripture speaks after the language of the children of men; and may be considered as upbraiding them with want of such an heart, and with weakness to do what they had promised; and, at most, as approving of those things they spoke of as grateful to him, and profitable to them: the words may be rendered, “who will give that they had such an heart”; not to me, but to them, as Aben Ezra notes; they cannot give it to themselves, nor can any creature give it to them; none but God can, and therefore they ought to have prayed to him to give them an heart to hearken and do; agreeably to which is the Arabic version,“it is to be wished by them, that such an heart would continue with them;”which they by their language signified was in them: that they would fear me; which is not naturally in the heart of man, is a gift of God, a part of the covenant of grace, is implanted in regeneration, and is no inconsiderable branch of it; it is opposed to pride, and is consistent with faith and joy, and is increased by views of the grace and goodness of God, and is a distinguishing character of a good man:

    and keep all my commandments always; not only one, but all, and not only at some certain times, but continually; and which are to be kept in faith from a principle of love, with a view to the glory of God, and in the strength of Christ; and to this the fear of God is necessary, for where there is no fear of God, there is no regard to his commandments; but where there is a reverential fear of God, there are faith, hope, love, and every other grace; yea, the Spirit, the author of all, who is in the saints, to enable them to walk in the statutes of the Lord, and to keep his judgments and do them; and such keep the commandments of God, not from a slavish fear, but from a sense of divine goodness:

    that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever; for the fear of God, and the keeping of his commandments, issue in the good of men, in their own good, their inward peace, and spiritual welfare; in the good of others, their neighbours, servants, and children, by way of example and instruction; and even in the public peace and prosperity of a nation in which they dwell: not that these things are meritorious of eternal life, but are what are approved of by the Lord, and are grateful to him; which is the chief view in the expression of the text.

    Consequently, and per the brilliant exegete John Gill, it certainly ought to be our desire to fear God and fully keep ALL of His commandments forever. Thankfully, God is creating such a people for Himself of which even a sinner like me might be counted. But, notice, Gill doesn’t try to infer from this verse a universal desire for the salvation of all as you assert. Instead, Gill rightly notes, “Not that there is properly speaking such volitions and wishes in God …the Scripture speaks after the language of the children of men; and may be considered as upbraiding them with want of such an heart.”

    Notice too how Gill’s exegesis comports with that of Ben Maas on your blog and for the same reason: “Deut. 5:29 is an anthropomorphism; the analogy of faith demands such an interpretation, for a literal reading would demand a contradiction — that God wants a specific event to occur yet does not decree it.”

    Of course, perhaps even the mention of Gill might be lost on you? I hope not. However, you’re prime defender and supporter on your blog, David Ponter, thinks “much of Gill’s exegesis and hermeneutics to be just so much junk.” Now, I certainly don’t want to judge you by the company you keep, but keep in mind that aside from Ponterites being responsible for the recent shameful and libelous attack on Reformed Baptist apologist, James White, this one note Arminian lite chihuahua once said that John Owen’s masterpiece, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, “is only good for lining the bird cage with.”

  35. deangonzales Says:

    Hey Sean,

    Thanks for doing the homework (even though you weren’t obligated to do so). However, I’m sorry to say that I can’t give you a passing grade for the following reasons:

    (1) You denied a linguistic and semantic connection between divine (preceptive) commands and divine (preceptive) desires, i.e., between expected human conduct which God commands (1 Sam. 15:3) expected human conduct in which God delights or which he desires (1 Sam. 15:22).

    Here, you (perhaps unwittingly) betray linguistic naivete. Your authority, Dr. Elihu Carranza, misses the point. We don’t need the logician to tell us that imperative command, “Do this,” or prohibition, “Don’t do this,” are in themselves neither intrinsically true or false. We already know that. But we also know (and hope Dr. Carranza knows) the following: that God prohibited Adam from eating from the Tree is a true proposition. From this demonstrably true proposition, we may infer the following true proposition: God desired Adam to refrain from eating from the Tree.

    If you (or Dr. Carranza) don’t see the connection, there are others who do. Consider what the following “schoolboys” have to say:

    What I have said of the precepts, abundantly suffices to confound your blasphemies. For though God gives no pretended COMMANDS, but seriously declares what he WISHES and approves [Latin: vult et probat.]; yet it is in one way, that he wills the obedience of his elect whom he efficaciously bends to compliance; and in another that of the reprobate whom he warns by the external word, but does not see good to draw to himself. Contumacy and depravity are equally natural to all, so that none is ready and willing to assume the yoke (emphasis added). John Calvin, Secret Providence, trans., by James Lillie, Article 7, John Calvin’s reply.

    There are four classes of things concerning which men give commandment. These are, first, divine PRECEPTS, which God DESIRES, that men should propose unto themselves for their observance, not, however, in their own name, but by the authority of God himself, as being the ministers and messengers, and not the authors of these precepts. Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans., G.W. Willard (Phillpsburg N.J.: P&R, 1994), 519-520.

    Heidan, (pp.136-7) insists: “(I) Strictly speaking there is but a single will of God called beneplaciti, whereby God determines by Himself what He wills to do in and concerning the creature. The second is but the sign and indication by which He shows what He WISHES creatures to do. But He does not wish them to make His beneplacitum universal; but only the things which He reveals to them, Dt. 29. 29 (p. 85). Source: Heirnich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), 87.

    Now, does my inference of a desire (1 Sam. 15:22) from a command (1 Sam. 15:3) still remain a mystery to you? I certainly agree that making the same assertion again and again in different forms doesn’t really help further your argument IF YOU REFUSE TO HEED PLAIN LOGIC AND THE WORD OF GOD.

    (2) You confused God’s preceptive will with God’s decretive will, which is a big “no-no” in Reformed theology.

    You write, “The verse [1 Sam. 15:22] states God delights in those who obey His voice, but clearly His desire for Saul (assuming you kept reading) was that he would disobey and be dethroned. The outcome of the story is a far superior indicator of God’s desire for King Saul.” LOGICAL FOUL! You just confused God’s precept (v. 22) with God’s decree (i.e., the outcome of the story). The outcome of the story (what is actualized) teaches us what God decretively desired. The outcome of the story (what God preceptively commanded, v. 3, 22) does NOT teach us what God preceptively desired.

    You continue, “Besides, Proverbs 21:1 tells us that “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.”” Yes, Sean, a human king will behave in accordance with God’s decree. Very good. But then you say, “Consequently, if it was God’s desire that Saul “strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has,” then it follows that Saul would have done as God commanded. God clearly desired another end for Saul.” LOGICAL FOUL AGAIN! Once again, you just confused God’s preceptive will for Saul (that the latter should obey God’s command) with God’s decretive will for Saul (that the latter should disobey God’s command.)

    To borrow your own language, “So, again, we see that you err by FAILING to infer something in the indicative from something written in the imperative.” Indeed, your error is all the more inexcusable when we find that God himself, Samuel, and even Saul infer indicatives (see vv. 11, 13, 19-20, 23-24) from God’s imperative (v. 3). Go and learn!

    (3) You want to stand with Luther. That’s fine. I stand with the brother on many a truth–especially sola Scriptura!

    (4) You adopt Arminian theology. Not a good move!

    You write, “Arminians probably have a good case for rejecting Calvinism when professing Calvinist continue to foolishly impute irrationality to God concerning God’s imagined universal desire for the salvation of all. Even Arminians aren’t that stupid.”

    Well, I might refrain from heaping a demeaning epithet like “stupid” on some of my Arminian friends. But I won’t hesitate to say that they are illogical and unbiblical in their thinking. Like you, they can’t seem to make the obviously biblical distinction between God’s decretive and preceptive will. Consequently, when men resist God’s precept, they erroneously conclude that God’s decrees are not absolute but contingent. So one minute you’re standing with Luther and the next with Erasmus and Arminius. Not an intelligent move, Sean.

    (5) You slander other brothers.

    The discussion here is not about a brother named David Ponter. It’s about the Free and Well-meant Offer of the Gospel. That’s why I removed your snide remark about David from my site while leaving the rest of your comment. More importantly, you accuse David of worshiping a “little god,” which is, of course, a false god. I have no reason to accept your accusation on the basis of David’s posts or the content on his websites. You complain that David (or at least those whose theology is similar to him) are guilty of “shameful and libelous attack on Reformed Baptist apologist, James White.” But it’s okay for you to engage in a “shameful and libelous attack”? You (and James White) don’t like people to refer to you as a “hyper-Calvinist.” Yet, you call people like me “stupid,” and James White calls us “Squeamish Calvinists.” Ad hom just isn’t good debate methodology. Of course, perhaps you and White are just engaged in rhetorical overkill. That was probably David Ponter’s mistake in his references to the writings of Gill and Owen.

    (6) You rely too much on your favorite Rabbis (i.e., human tradition) rather than on exegesis of the Word of God.

    This is the old trap into which the Pharisees and later the Romanists fell. You pasted a huge portion of John Gill’s anthropopathic spin on Deuteronomy 5:29, which was totally unnecessary because, if you had read by footnotes, you would have seen that I’ve already read Gill and believe he’s plain wrong. (Thus, I found it quite amusing that you would condescendingly suggest that “even the mention of Gill might be lost on [me]” when apparently it was my mention of Gill that was lost on you!) Here’s why his “anthropopathic” hermeneutic doesn’t work in Deuteronomy 5:29:

    i. as I argue in my article on divine emotivity (http://blog.rbseminary.org/2009/02/there-is-no-pain-you-are-misreading-is-god-comfortably-numb/), all human language about God is analogical in nature and therefore assumes both correspondence and also discorrespondence. When the Bible describes God as having and ear or eyes like men (see Ps. 94:9), there is both correspondence and discorrespondence. Like man, God has an ability to perceive that is analogous to our ability to perceive: “He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?” But God is not dependent on the physical apparatuses for hearing and sight, as humans are. Similarly, God has the ability to feel, that is, to evaluate and inwardly respond to moral states of affair in keeping with his unchanging moral character. Accordingly, God’s unchanging justice constrains him to respond emotively vis-a-vis wickedness with anger. God’s unchanging goodness prompts him to respond emotively vis-a-vis human misery with grief and/or compassion. These divine emotions are in no sense physiological in nature or sinful in character. Moreover, they are, unlike those of humans, predetermined by God’s decree and under the overriding direction of God’s sovereign providence. For this reason, there is genuine discorrespondence between human and divine emotivity. But not the kind of discorrespondence suggested by Calvin and others, which leads to my next point:

    ii. Calvin and other classic theists reinterpreted emotions or passions ascribed to God not as inward responses (as they are in the case of humans) but as outward actions, which, in the case of humans, are normally associated with a given emotion. Accordingly, when God sends a flood, rains fire and brimstone on a city, or swallows up an army in the sea he appears “angry.” The biblical writers may describe him in emotive language, but, according to Calvin and others, the reader should interpret the emotive language as a figure of speech that stands for a divine act (see Anselm, Proslogium, VIII; Calvin, Institutes, I, 17.13; Turretin, Institutes, III, Q 11). But this hermeneutic is not only suspect for the reasons I just gave above (i.); it is also suspect when applied to a text like Deuteronomy 5:29 since the emotive yearning ascribed to God has no corresponding divine act in Calvin’s interpretation. Indeed, while most of those who want to employ the anthropopathic hermeneutic to Deuteronomy 5:29 do attempt to rid the optative of its emotive content by changing “desire” to something less emotional such as “approve,” “prefer,” “obligate,” etc., they look beyond the verb to the personal pronoun “they” (the antecedent of which is the Exodus generation of Israelites, most of which were reprobate) and attempt to make this personal pronoun (which is non-emotive in character) figurative rather than literal. Of course, one may argue that such a move is warranted for other reasons. But he may not subsume such a semantic shift from literal historical referent to abstract non-historical referent under the rubric of “anthropopathism” since we are now dealing with more than merely the meaning of an emotion ascribed to God.

    Let me encourage you to play the man and show us your own exegetical skills. Analyze the lexical, grammatical, and syntactical data of Deut. 5:29. Show us what the text teaches, not merely what Rabbi so-and-so says the text teaches.

    (7) You make the unsubstantiated and patently false claim, “It is God’s decree that inform us as to what God desires, for the simple reason that whatever God desires is what He does.”

    I say unsubstantiated because you don’t offer any proof-texts. Yet, I suspect that you, like Ben Maas, will make the same mistake of claiming Psalm 115:3b as your locus classicus. That text reads, “[God] does all that he pleases.”

    Neither the language nor syntax of Psalm 115:3b demands that every one of God’s desires is decretive in nature and is, therefore, actualized. The syntactical structure of Psalm 115:3b in the Hebrew is as follows:

    O [“whatever[desire]“] > S [God] > V1 [desires; delights in] > S [God] > V2 [does; actuates]

    Let’s compare that with the nearly identical syntactical structure of 1 Kings 9:1 is as follows:

    O [“every desire”] > S [Solomon] > V1 [desired] > S [Solomon] > V2 [did; actuated]

    We know, of course, that it was only those desires that Solomon purposed to fulfill with respect to his building projects that fall under the purview of this text. Hence, the context delimits Solomon’s desires. Which is to say that the mere grammatical construction above, namely, O>S>V1>S>V2 does not in itself universalize “O” in the absolute sense. In other words, the scope of “O” [every desire] is delimited by the larger context. The “every desire” of Solomon in this case turns out to be, more specifically, his planned or determined desires with respect to his building projects.

    Now let’s apply this grammatical and syntactical information to Psalm 115:3b. Once again, the bare formula O>S>V1>S>V2 does not produce the sense that “O” must be understood as universal and absolute. “O,” i.e., whatever desire, in Psalm 115:3 is delimited by the immediate and larger canonical context. And the rest of Scripture the larger biblical context in which Psalm 115:3 occurs does in fact delimit the “O” [whatever desire] of verse 3b.

    Since you enjoy logic, I’ll give you a syllogism to help you understand:

    MAJOR PREMISE: All of those divine within the purview of Psalm 115:3b are actualized in history.
    MINOR PREMISE: Not every desire predicated of God is actualized in history (Deut. 5:29; 1 Sam. 15:22; Ps. 51:6, 16-17; 147:10-11; Ezek. 18:32; Hos. 6:6; etc.)
    CONCLUSION: Psalm 115:3b cannot be referring to every desire predicated of God. Since it only refers to actualized desires, we must limit the “O” [whatever desires] to God’s decretive desires.

    It is for this reason that one must delimit the desires spoken of in Psalm 115:3b to God’s decretive desires that are actualized in history. Accordingly, Psalm 115:3b does not refer to all of God’s desires–Deuteronomy 5:29 and the other passages cited above are case in point!

    Sorry about the bad score on your homework assignment. As you point out above, you’re not a student of RBS, so you’re not obligated to do any work for me. Perhaps you’ll just concede that you are mistaken. From reading your post and tone of writing, I won’t hold my breath. But I will sincerely pray that God will bring everyone of your thoughts (and mine) captive to the teaching and mandates of His entire revealed counsel.

    In Christ,
    Bob Gonzales

  36. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks for doing the homework (even though you weren’t obligated to do so). However, I’m sorry to say that I can’t give you a passing grade

    It may sound odd to you, but I take a failing grade from you as a complement. Although it doesn’t say too much for the kind of men your seminary is likely producing. I can only imagine the kind of nonsense they have to swallow in order to get that passing grade.

    FWIW, I will only respond to a few things here as I am in the process of responding to you more fully in another blog piece that I’m working on and hope to complete shortly, God willing.

    Here, you (perhaps unwittingly) betray linguistic naivete. Your authority, Dr. Elihu Carranza, misses the point. We don’t need the logician to tell us that imperative command, “Do this,” or prohibition, “Don’t do this,” are in themselves neither intrinsically true or false. We already know that.

    Well, if you already knew that, you wouldn’t be trying to foolishly ram commands, which you admit are neither true or false, as true premises in arguments. If a premise is neither true nor false then you cannot infer anything true from them. Luther was right!

    Your attempt to infer the supposed imagined truth that God desires that His commands always be obeyed is nothing but the result from your own wishful and faulty thinking. You are reading into the imperatives of Scripture things that are not there and drawing conclusions which you can only assert based on nothing more than, I assume, your imagined credentials. FWIW, nobody is more shocked than me to see a seminary Dean make such elementary blunders. Actually, you make the same sophisitic and logical errors as Pelagius, but in a different direction.

    Not only is it evident to Luther’s schoolboys that you can’t infer ANYTHING from a command, but you demonstrate the impotence of your position when on your blog you openly admit that your position ends in mystery and paradox. Not ironically, and not surprising to readers of this blog, you appeal to C. Van Til and even John Frame’s atrocious and dangerous piece of illogic, “The Problem of Theological Paradox,” for support. There is no question that you’ve learned your lessons well from these paradox mongers and irrationalists.

    But we also know (and hope Dr. Carranza knows) the following: that God prohibited Adam from eating from the Tree is a true proposition. From this demonstrably true proposition, we may infer the following true proposition: God desired Adam to refrain from eating from the Tree.

    You must be joking? Does this kind of shoddy thinking really fly with your students and faculty?

    Sad.

    First, your argument, if you want to call it that, doesn’t follow and you are guilty of simply asserting what you need to demonstrate. Since you clearly can’t identify it, this is called the fallacy of asserting or affirming the consequent. Perhaps you forgot that anything found in the conclusion must also be found in at least ONE of your premises. How you arrived at the conclusion, “God desired Adam to refrain from eating from the Tree” is a mystery since this “conclusion” includes key terms nowhere present in your major premise.

    Further, even if you actually tried to construct a biblical argument in order to demonstrate this imagined “desire” on the part of God (and I have no idea how you would do it), you would also need to address the ambiguity in the word “prohibit.” To prohibit means to forbid by authority, which means that rather than a proposition you are just restating God’s command.

    Of course, to prohibit also means to prevent someone from doing something, which God clearly did not do in the case of Adam. Or, to put it another way, God did desire for man to Fall, for had Adam not fallen, we would be looking to Adam as the author of our salvation, which would be idolatry. So either way your so-called “argument” collapses.

    Now, does my inference of a desire (1 Sam. 15:22) from a command (1 Sam. 15:3) still remain a mystery to you?

    Not a mystery, just more of the same misology I’m coming to expect from you. Further, if you are so foolish to think that Calvin even remotely supports you in your defense of the so-called “Well Meant Offer” and God’s imagined universal desire for the salvation of all men you really need to get up to speed. You’re living in the past and just regurgitating failed arguments first raised back in the 1940’s by the WTS cabal of Van Til & Co. The same men that sinfully launched their failed attack against the ordination of Gordon Clark. Even if you have no desire to catch up with scholarly advances since Murray and Stonehouse, you should at least read Raymond Blacketer’s “The Three Points in Most Parts Reformed: A Reexamination of the So-Called Well-Meant Offer of Salvation.” Since you are evidently as confused as David “One Note” Ponter, I recommend you spend some extra time studying Blacketer’s discussion of Calvin.

    You write, “The verse [1 Sam. 15:22] states God delights in those who obey His voice, but clearly His desire for Saul (assuming you kept reading) was that he would disobey and be dethroned. The outcome of the story is a far superior indicator of God’s desire for King Saul.” LOGICAL FOUL! You just confused God’s precept (v. 22) with God’s decree (i.e., the outcome of the story). The outcome of the story (what is actualized) teaches us what God decretively desired. The outcome of the story (what God preceptively commanded, v. 3, 22) does NOT teach us what God preceptively desired.

    The “LOGICAL FOUL” is to try and infer a desire from a precept. The verse only tells us that God delights in obedience, not that he desires obedience. God is not double minded. Besides, to suggest that delight and desire are synonyms is even more absurd than trying to infer something in the indicative from an imperative. Talk about “linguistic naivete.” To desire something is to long for or to hope for something. The synonyms for desire are to wish, want, crave or covet. Not only does your argument subvert the laws of logic, it violates the English language. Which explains why you shamefully portray the Sovereign Lord God of Scripture as one who shuts His eyes and makes a wish before blowing out the candles on His celestial birthday cake. I’m amazed that the board of your seminary would even approve of such a shameful portrayal of the Lord God Almighty.

    (5) You slander other brothers.

    The discussion here is not about a brother named David Ponter. It’s about the Free and Well-meant Offer of the Gospel. That’s why I removed your snide remark about David from my site while leaving the rest of your comment.

    To slander someone would a) have to be spoken, and, b) would have to be false. Identifying Ponter as an Amyraldian at best (and more likely nothing more that a closet Arminian) is to speak the truth.

    In addition, your censoring my post on your blog didn’t go unnoticed. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, but now I see you’re just another imperious paradox monger who seems to think that men ought to bend to your anti-Christian irrationality on nothing more than your say so.

    More importantly, you accuse David of worshiping a “little god,” which is, of course, a false god.

    Amen to that Dr. Gonzales. That is exactly right. The god of Ponter’s imagination, as he once explained to me, is one who cries and yells at sinners who are dying, pleading to them to run as if from a burning house, if only they would, in order that He might save them. On this score, Ponter is your typical Arminian who fails to understand that the house he thinks is burning has burned to the ground and there is nothing left but black ashes. Ponter is no Calvinist.

    I have no reason to accept your accusation on the basis of David’s posts or the content on his websites. You complain that David (or at least those whose theology is similar to him) are guilty of “shameful and libelous attack on Reformed Baptist apologist, James White.” But it’s okay for you to engage in a “shameful and libelous attack”?

    Like other simple and basic distinctions you evidently are unable to make, while it is true that Ponter is a crass universalist and a one note Amyraldian of the first order, who is not even remotely Reformed, James White is no “hyper-Calvinist.” See the difference?

    This is the old trap into which the Pharisees and later the Romanists fell. You pasted a huge portion of John Gill’s anthropopathic spin on Deuteronomy 5:29, which was totally unnecessary because, if you had read by footnotes, you would have seen that I’ve already read Gill and believe he’s plain wrong.

    You got me there. Other than your first 3 or 4 footnotes I stopped reading. Although I’m not surprised you think Gill is “plain wrong” for the simple fact that his exegesis comports with the analogy of faith and yours does not. I can live with that. 🙂

    Sorry about the bad score on your homework assignment. As you point out above, you’re not a student of RBS, so you’re not obligated to do any work for me.

    That’s fine. Your grade means nothing to me. Although, I am concerned for the poor students at RBS who are subjected to your grading system and who must submit themselves to what you evidently require for that passing grade.

    From reading your post and tone of writing, I won’t hold my breath.

    I’m not thrilled with your post or tone either, so same back at you Dr. G. 🙂

    But I will sincerely pray that God will bring everyone of your thoughts (and mine) captive to the teaching and mandates of His entire revealed counsel.

    Well, seeing neither of us are in the mind changing business, and seeing that I intend on replying to you more fully shortly and God willing, I think this is a good time to stop.

  37. deangonzales Says:

    Sean,

    Thanks for the lively discussion. I don’t mind your sarcastic jabs. In fact, I’m actually flattered that you took the time to respond to my post (though very selectively) and that you’re actually taking the time to post a fuller response. Wow! Even though you think me to be such an intellectual fool and lightweight and believe my stupidity so obvious that even plain schoolboys can’t miss it, you’re actually taking the time to post lengthy replies to my arguments and create an entire post dedicated to the issues I’ve raised in my post. I must have rocked your boat if you feel the need to expend so much effort now to re-stabilize it. Thanks for the complement–even if you didn’t intend it! You at least deserve a mark of “GE” for “Good Effort.” 🙂

    BTW, if you do spend your precious time writing an entire post devoted to addressing the issues I’ve raised, please try your best not to side-step issues or gloss over arguments by sending your readers after red herrings. Here are a few issues you’ll need to address, which you failed to address above:

    1) Calvin, Ursinus, Heidan, and other competent Reformed exegetes do in fact infer a volitional desire from a volitional command/prohibition. Arguing that they don’t support the “well-meant offer” is (1) a matter of debate, and (2) a red herring because it fails to address why in the citation I gave they describe God’s preceptive will in terms of divine “desire” or “wish.” By the way, take the time to look up “volitional” in an English dictionary. You’ll find as part of the semantic range not only ideas such as “choice” “determination” “purpose,” etc., but also “wish” and “desire.” So let’s not play dodge ball. 🙂

    2) You’ll need to provide a sane analysis of the language of Deuteronomy 5:29 which in fact does speak of a divine wish vis-a-vis specific historical referents (i.e., the exodus generation) that was not actualized. Moreover, you’ll have to provide hermeneutic and biblical warrant for labeling “anthropopathism” the transformation of a specific referent “they” into a non-specific referent “non-existent people in the abstract.” An anthropopathism, last I checked, refers to a human emotion predicated of God that is interpreted figuratively not to a personal pronoun with a historical referent that is interpreted abstractly. Moreover, since God himself applies anthropopathism in order to emphasize ANALOGICAL CORRESPONDENCE (e.g., Psalm 94:9), you’ll need to provide biblical warrant for employing anthropopathisms in order to (over-)emphasize DISCORRESPONDENCE.

    3) You’ll also provide indisputable biblical warrant for the proposition that God can only desire what he decrees. Such a proposition flatly contradicts the many texts of Scripture in which God’s precept is described in terms of what God desires or in terms of what he takes delight in (Deut. 5:29; 1 Sam. 15:22; Ps. 51:6, 16-17; 147:10-11; Ezek. 18:32; Hos. 6:6; etc.) and is not supported by the grammar and syntax of texts like Psalm 115:3.

    If you take the time (and have the ability) to address issues such as these above with Greek and Hebrew in hand, we might actually make some progress. If you dodge these issues or simply regurgitate the midrash of Dr. Gill, we’ll get nowhere. Now that wouldn’t be a good use of your time or mine, would it?

    Oh, and by the way, don’t stumble over the picture of the birthday cake and candles. Most ordinary folk understand such a picture to convey an ANALOGY. When Moses pictures God as a “Rock,” we’re not so dull as to think Moses is describing God as dense. When Calvin describes God as a nurse lisping “goo-goo, gah-gahs,” were not so juvenile as to attribute feminine gender and irrationality to God. And when I display a picture of a birthday cake with candles, most reader will recall the idea of “expressing a wish,” which is precisely what God does in Deuteronomy 5:29. But not one reader of my post has been so brutish as to make a univocal comparison between God expressing a wish and a human child expressing a wish. But just in case there might come along a fellow like you who lacks the ability to distinguish between analogical and univocal comparisons, I actually provided a clear explanation. Perhaps, in your hasty read, you missed it, so I’ll give it again:

    “When you and I make a wish, we can’t be certain it will come true. But when God makes a wish, he has both the power and prerogative to effect its fulfillment. “Our God is in the heavens,” declares the psalmist, “he does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3).”

    Well, you may doubt the sincerity of my prayer (above), but I want to assure you that I’m willing to learn something new, even from you, Sean. Mssrs. Gill, Hoeksema, Clark, Engelsma, Reymond, et al., haven’t convinced me. But perhaps you can shed some new light. I’ve had blind spots in the past, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, this side of glory, there are yet things the Lord would teach me (John 16:12) even from the mouth of a donkey (play on words, :-)) So fire away, and may our speech be both salty and gracious (Col. 4:6).

    Your servant,
    Bob Gonzales

  38. Sean Gerety Says:

    I must have rocked your boat if you feel the need to expend so much effort now to re-stabilize it.

    What “rocked my boat” was not so much anything you’ve said, since I’ve heard it all before. Let’s face it, you really have not offered anything new to the debate (I mean, after all, Murray’s response to Clark on the free offer was written over 50 years ago, one would think defenders of the WMO would come up with a few better arguments).

    What took me by surprise was that I thought you were “Dean” Gonzales, since you first posted here back in January and your reply then only had your tag line (BTW did you ever do the homework I gave you?). What I didn’t realize is that you are Dean of RBS, Dr. “Bob” Gonzales. That is the only reason I think your posts here or even on your blog are worth any time. To put it another way, no one in their right mind wastes any time responding to “One Note” Ponter any more.

    BTW, if you do spend your precious time writing an entire post devoted to addressing the issues I’ve raised, please try your best not to side-step issues or gloss over arguments by sending your readers after red herrings.

    Do you really still think you give the orders around here? I’ll tell you what, I’ll write what I write and you do the same. How about that?

    If you dodge these issues or simply regurgitate the midrash of Dr. Gill, we’ll get nowhere. Now that wouldn’t be a good use of your time or mine, would it?

    Gill was an outstanding exegete and a Baptist to boot. I confess it’s quite odd to hear the Dean of a supposedly Reformed Baptist institution refer to Dr. Gill’s work as a “midrash.” Evidently you think adhering to the Reformed hermeneutic and maintaining the necessary logical coherence of all of Scripture (what the old Puritans called the “analogy of faith” and not analogy of the Vantilian sort) as an embellishment on the Scripture’s meaning. Not surprising. Van Til also believed in an incoherent Scripture and provided the epistemic foundation for all sorts of nonsense being passed off as just another paradox of Scripture.

  39. ire4med Says:

    Sean says, “The verse only tells us that God delights in obedience, not that he desires obedience.”

    I am literally laughing out loud!

    Earlier he says, “To slander someone would a) have to be spoken, and, b) would have to be false.
    …now I see you’re just another imperious paradox monger who seems to think that men ought to bend to your anti-Christian irrationality on nothing more than your say so.”

    Maybe this isn’t spoken slander, but have you ever heard of the word libel?

  40. Sean Gerety Says:

    I am literally laughing out loud!

    Knock yourself out. However, as the minority report written in answer to to sophistry of Murray and Stonehouse rightly points out:

    Desire suggests a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire. This is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of God…No such weak wishing can properly be ascribed to God whose will is firmly fixed and fixes all things. God has not a will that can be frustrated as well as one that cannot be.

    As I’ve said before, the Neo-Amyraldian Ponterites that Gonzales aligns himself with have indeed fashioned for themselves another God. Oddly, one that very much resembles themselves.

    Maybe this isn’t spoken slander, but have you ever heard of the word libel?

    Gee, you’re really are pretty quick, aren’t you? =8-P ROFLOL!!

  41. Curious Says:

    We are saved through faith in what christ has done. We can add nothing to it. Through belief in the gospel we are brought near to God, adopted into His family as new creations, with a new identity, no longer to live self-pleasing, idolatrous lives characterised by one little self-salvation project after another but rather to rest in what Christ has done.
    The most helpful two things I ever heard were 1. ask yourself ‘what is the sin behind the sin?’, in order to understand your motives and 2. preach the gospel to yourself because you don’t believe it as much as you think you do. So, for example, imagine I get angry with someone and call them names because they falsely accused me of something I didn’t do. Now many Christians would come to feel guilty about their outburst and say “sorry God for getting angry”. But often whats going on is that on a day-to-day basis they relate to God on the basis of their performance so saying sorry is because they think they’ve messed up and God won’t be pleased with them. This is to forget the gospel. For the gospel tells us firstly that we are so sinful that we deserve far worse than a false accusation and secondly that we have been justified before the highest court there is, so why should I get angry if someone falsely accuses me? Answer, because, unknowingly I didn’t really believe the gospel at a day-to-day functional level, I was counting on my own sense of self-righteousness and it was being attacked. We find out where our hope really is when we see what we are prepared to defend tooth and nail. Take another example, I encounter a scruffy, homeless, down-and-out and find myself looking down on them instead of feeling compassion. I then feel guilty about this. Again, it is no use merely saying sorry Lord, I shouldn’t have looked down on them. To change and become more like Christ we need to ask ‘why did I look down on them?’ – this will lead us to discover the root sins of pride and unbelief. Pride that there’s somehow something inherently good and more deserving in me than the tramp and unbelief that leads to me to get my sense of justification and worth from comparing myself to others instead of resting in and rejoicing in what Christ has done.
    Without realising it we all constantly need to feel accepted and justified. The challenge is from where do we draw our feelings of acceptance and justification? From Christ or from our own efforts? (note I’m talking feeling rather than head knowledge – in our minds we will quickly say from Jesus but the things our hearts dwell on and seek after betray us).

    Sadly, one of the most subtle ways in which we can do this and which can be so deeply ingrained that very few will admit it is the sin of intellectual pride over ones doctrines. Some diagnostic questions to help are: what does my heart run to when it is has a spare moment? TO jesus or to doctrine? When I see a post which I think is incorrect is my heart full of love and thankfulness for what Jesus has done and love for the other person that they may be built up or is it simply concerned with demonstrating the other person’s error? Is my constant prayer a recognition that I am prone to the sin of pride and a plea to the Lord to keep me humble and teachable and to show me where I err? When labelling someone or wanting to call them a name or use some less than gracious adjective to describe them, am I so overwhelmed by the deep, vastless, boundless and free love of Jesus that the love of Christ and a passion for the glory of God compels me to write that way?

    Oh may the Lord grant us wisdom and conform us to His likeness.

  42. deangonzales Says:

    Hey ire4med,

    Don’t take Mr. Gerety’s cutting sarcasm too seriously. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and is zealous for what he perceives to be the truth.

    Keep in mind that the position he cites is called “the MINORITY report” for a reason. That means it didn’t win conscience of the majority. Let’s employ the logic of the first two propositions vis-a-vis God’s work of creation and providence:

    Major premise: “Desire suggests a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire.”

    Minor premise: “This is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of God.”

    Conclusion: Therefore, “No such weak wishing can properly be ascribed to God …”

    Hey, wait a minute! Let’s not stop with “weak wishing.” The all-sufficient God who needs nothing cannot desire anything–not even a world, human beings, a fall, the cross, etc. I mean, let’s be consistent here! And yet, ire4med, you and I sit here because God strongly WISHED us to be created. That fact doesn’t seem to jive with the minority report’s logic, does it?

    No matter. Our God is in the heavens. He made the world because he WANTED to make it–even though he didn’t need it. And if God decides to pass over certain intrinsically good objectives in order to pursue other intrinsically better objectives in his plan of redemption, who are we to question God?

    Blessings!
    Bob “the Sophist” Gonzales

  43. Sean Gerety Says:

    Keep in mind that the position he cites is called “the MINORITY report” for a reason. That means it didn’t win conscience of the majority. Let’s employ the logic

    OK, let’s. Ad populum is fallacious. Not that any fallacy could ever stop you.

  44. Curious Says:

    Sean,
    I’m wondering if you read what I wrote and considered whether it might have any relevance to you? When Paul confronted Peter for effectively being a racist/cultural elitist as recorded in Galatians he didn’t say to him ‘bad Christian, stop it!’. He said in effect ‘why aren’t you living in line with the truth of the gospel?’ In other words, Peter, why, if your sense of identity and justification is now in Christ, are you becoming enslaved again to needing to feel accepted by others and feeling proud of your own performance? So I would say to you Sean, if you have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, why do you come across as though you find your sense of worth in being right and your sense of feeling justified in looking down on others? Look to Christ with all your heart, mind and soul rather than your intellectual accomplishments or imagined doctrinal superiority. No-one doubts you’re smart but what a (largely) dying church and a messed up world needs to see is Christ in you and what your heart needs to be able to rejoice in the fiercest trials is Christ in you. I don’t seek a response from you – rather I urge you to seek God’s face and let what you write here be the fruit of a heart transformed by the gospel and overflowing with love for Christ in light of that gospel. My contention is simple: deep faith in Christ and His gospel does not merely result in the acquisition of knowledge and good doctrine, it transforms character to more closely resemble Christ. I think others will find your arguments far more winsome and convincing when what you say is seasoned by grace.
    May Christ be praised and His church built up!
    Martin

    Martin

  45. deangonzales Says:

    Martin,

    Good word. I won’t speak for Sean, but I’ll take your word and apply it to myself. I’ve tried not to take Sean’s sarcasm and curtness too seriously but to view his writing style as a sort of “matter of fact” bluntness and as a kind of “tongue-in-cheek” sportiness. I’ve tried to return the favor with a little quid pro quo (though I’m not nearly as literarily gifted as Sean) .

    Yet, you suggest a better way. It’s important that Sean and I communicate as brothers in Christ and argue in a gentlemanly manner. A little satire and a few witty “come-backs” may have their place. But we need to work hard at showing the other readers and one another that we’re concerned with keeping both the greatest and also the second greatest commandment.

    So I’ll work at being more winsome and gaining Sean’s respect. Please feel free to rebuke me again if I step out of line.

    Your servant,
    Bob Gonzales

  46. deangonzales Says:

    Sean,

    First you quoted me:

    Keep in mind that the position he cites is called “the MINORITY report” for a reason. That means it didn’t win conscience of the majority. Let’s employ the logic

    Then you wrote:

    OK, let’s. Ad populum is fallacious. Not that any fallacy could ever stop you.

    However, you really did not quote me in full and therefore misrepresented what I said. Let’s have the full version again. I’ll also try to remove anything that might come across sarcastic or triumphalist in keeping with Martin’s counsel:

    Bob G. wrote:
    Keep in mind that the position [Sean] cites is called “the MINORITY report” for a reason. That means it didn’t win conscience of the majority. [Comment: no logical argument here; only pointing out a fact.] Let’s employ the logic [and here comes the part you didn’t cite] OF THE FIRST TWO PROPOSITIONS vis-a-vis God’s work of creation and providence:

    Major premise: “Desire suggests a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire.”

    Minor premise: “This is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of God.”

    Conclusion: Therefore, “No such weak wishing can properly be ascribed to God …”

    Why should the logical syllogism above confine itself with “weak wishing.” It would seem that the all-sufficient God who needs nothing could not, according to the logic above, desire anything. He’s perfectly sufficient and does not need a world or human beings or a fall or the cross, etc. Consistency of logic would seem to demand that God cannot desire anything except himself.

    Yet God created the world because He freely desired to create the world and all therein. That fact doesn’t seem to fit well with the minority report’s logic.

    For that reason I question the first premise. “Desire” may suggest a “lack” in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire in the sphere of humanity. But it doesn’t suggest such a “want” or “lack” in the realm of all-sufficient deity. God desires, whether less strongly or more strongly certain objectives outside himself, simply because he is free to so without any constraint.

    For this reason I do not find the minority report’s logic cogent.

    In Christ,
    Bob Gonzales

  47. tartanarmy Says:

    Wow, interesting blog!
    I am no stranger to the subject matter of this thread and am no stranger to Byrne and Ponter.
    It was whilst in discussion with both of them when Ponter issued his statement regarding Owen’s work and the lining of the bird cage comment!

    Anyway, here are some links to my blog regarding the subject of this thread that others may find interesting.

    http://tartansplace.blogspot.com/2008/12/byrne-quotes-ponter-regarding-ursinus.html

    http://tartansplace.blogspot.com/2009/05/back-in-day.html

    http://tartansplace.blogspot.com/2008/12/sit-down-phil-johnson-tony-byrne-and.html

    http://tartansplace.blogspot.com/2008/12/parting-thoughts-for-08-and-atonement.html

    http://tartansplace.blogspot.com/2008/12/man-has-no-shame-at-all.html

    http://tartansplace.blogspot.com/2008/11/robert-reymond-james-white-unchained.html

    http://tartansplace.blogspot.com/2008/11/pyromaniacs-you-may-be-hyper-calvinist.html

    There are many many more links at my blog regarding these issues. Feel free to come and read and comment!

    Mark


  48. I’m a slow reader so it took me about 2.5 hours to finish reading the post and all the comments (plus I had my 6 week old son, Josué Zachariah sleeping on my chest; as I was holding my iPhone trying to read)…,but what a blessing it was and it’s going to be in the future for me, thank you so much Sean for defending the Faith…May our Lord Jesus Christ keep blessing you 🙂

    Ps: I must ask for some recommendations of books that I can buy on this topic and the Federal Vision that can enable me to get a good hold of the truth, thanks again bro!…

  49. Sean Gerety Says:

    Trinity Foundation has a number of excellent books and resources. Paul Elliot’s book, Christianity & Neo-Liberalism is excellent. I gave a copy to every member of my session a number of years ago (don’t think it did any good). It’s great because to this day the OPC still believes it is the standard bearer of Reformed orthodoxy which is a joke. But I think he covers a number of issues that have been ignored by many of those who have written on the topic.

    The Current Justification Controversy by O. Palmer Robertson will give you the back story and history of the controversy. Of course, John Robbins’ Companion to that book brings things up to date. I’m personally partial to Not Reformed at All where John and I (mostly John) answer Doug Wilson’s Reformed is Not Enough.

    Brian Schwertley has written a number of good pieces on the controversy, particularly his book Auburn Avenue Theology. There is also Guy Waters book, The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology. All the right people hate it over at Amazon including Jeff Meyers and William Smith of Covenant Radio (who, I’m told, has since repented of his fanatical devotion to the Federal Vision and its leaders).

  50. Stephen Becker Says:

    I would maintain that any offer or declaration of the Gospel, which is the general call to repentance, is the appointed means whereby God draws those who are His to Himself. Further.more, any fault-finding(Rom.9),taking issue, pleas, entreaties and the like are God’s way of vindicating His honor and showing forth that He is fully justified in handing down His judgement against all reprobates, especially those who have heard the Gospel. Consider that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gamorah than it would be for that generation who heard, and rejected, Jesus’ preaching.

  51. Hugh McCann Says:

    Johnson’s sloppy confusion well-answered by Brandan Kraft:

    http://www.predestinarian.net/content.php?21-Hyper-Calvinism-is-the-Truth

  52. Denson Dube Says:

    Quite revealing, is this snippet from Phil’s Website:
    “Today Phil is the executive Director of Grace to You, a Christian tape and radio ministry featuring the preaching ministry of John MacArthur. Phil has been closely associated with John MacArthur since 1981 and edits most of MacArthur’s major books. ” Phil further claims to be a Calvinist. In the light of John Robbin’s critical review(http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=193) of MacArthur’s book, it is hardly surprising, with Phil as its theologically challenged editor. Phil calls denying “Common Grace” and the so called “Free Offer”, Hyper-Calvinism. His bad theology roll also includes Herman Hoeksema and the Protestant Reformed Church both for rejecting his dainties, “common grace” and the “free offer”. “Hyper Calvinism” seems to be his favourite epithet to what I consider standard Reformed Theology. Other than being MacArthur’s happy side kick, I am not aware of his devastating arguments against sovereign grace.


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