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Calvin and Calvinism

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Finally an Answer!

September 29, 2011

Link History to this thread:
7. Finally an Answer!
6. Restating the Problem
5. Limited Atonement and the Falsification of the Sincere Offer of the Gospel

4. When is a conversation about an offer of something, not a conversation about an offer of something?
3. When is an offer not an offer?
2.God and Green Spotted Unicorns
1. James Anderson’s Argument for a Sincere Offer Based on a Limited Provision

Finally an Answer!
But What an Answer It Is.

Preamble:

When I started this project of engaging well-meant offer Calvinists on the topic of limited satisfaction in relation to the free offer, my original parameters for conversation were that I wanted to engage true evangelical Calvinists. Part of my desire was that I was looking for any defeaters to my argument. When Hays picked up on my project and began to respond, I replied on the supposition that he was not a hypercalvinist. I admit I had my suspicions and concerns, but I had hoped for the best. It is clear now that my suspicions are being confirmed.

There are 3 core parts to Hays’ reply to Tony Byrne and myself. Let’s track through them just enough to make the points. The question I want to tackle today takes us beyond simple theology to the more important issue of whether or not Steve Hays is even Reformed in his understanding of the doctrines of the Free Offer, of the Revealed Will, and of Reprobation. For my part, the more I read of him, the more I come to believe he has moved outside the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy on these points.1

Issue 1) To Tony Byrne, Hays says:

Does God’s command or proposal have Pharaoh’s well-being in view? No. Is God well-disposed to Pharaoh? No. Does God desire Pharaoh’s compliance? No.

God wants Pharaoh to refuse the command or proposal. For the refusal is a means to an end. It would thwart God’s long-range plan if Pharaoh accepted the proposal or obey the command.

And not only does God want Pharaoh to refuse the command or proposal, but God ensures the refusal by hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Under those circumstances, it isn’t even possible for Pharaoh to accept the proposal or obey the command.

By Ponter’s logic, that makes the proposal a “lying” proposal. “Insincere, disingenuous, illegitimate, and pretentious.” Yahweh must be a “monster,” who is “tantalizing” Pharaoh with a “lie.”2

There are so many layered issues here.

Firstly, I would like to reference this: Regarding Hays’ claim that God ensures that Pharaoh would refuse the command of God by hardening his heart, how would Hays propose to extricate himself from the charge by Dort that such ideas are to be deemed detestable by the Reformed?

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Speaking of Blasphemy…

September 28, 2011
Davenant:

The general love of God towards mankind is so clearly testified in Holy Scripture, and so demonstrated by the manifold effects of God’s goodness and mercy extended to every particular man in this world, that to doubt thereof were infidelity, and to deny it, plain blasphemy: yet for all this, if any man shall go about to magnify the common love of God extended promiscuously to all men, that thereby he obscured the special love and mercy of God prepared for all eternity, and bestowed in due time upon elect men, this may lead the ignorant and unlearned into a dangerous error: And therefore obliquely to oppose the eternal free and absolute decree of Predestination or Election under the color of disproving an absolute decree for any man’s Damnation, befits not any Divine who acknowledges the truth of that doctrine which the Scriptures have delivered, St. Augustine cleared, and the Church of England established in the xvii Article.  John Davenant, Animadversions Written By the Right Reverend Father in God, John, Lord Bishop of Sarisbury, upon a Treatise intitled “God’s love to Mankind, (London: Printed for Iohn Partridge, 1641), 3. [Some spelling modernized.]

Ambrose:

3. The Wooings of Christ to gain your Hearts: Consider him bowing the Heavens, and coming down, and laying aside his Robes of Majesty, and putting on your filthy Garments: Consider him going about from Place to Place, on no other Errand, but to gain your Hearts, and win your Souls: And, who ever spake such effectual Words as Christ spake when he was upon the Earth? Who ever gave such precious Jewels to a Bride, as Christ gave to his Spouse? Who ever put on such Apparel as Christ did, when he wooed his Church? The Prophet wonders at it, Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed Garments from Bozrah?—- Wherefore art thou red in thine Apparel, and thy Garments like him that treadeth in the Wine Fat? Isa. 63. 1. 2. Whoever gave such a Love Token, as Christ gave when he laid down his Life? Oh, consider him living, or dieing, and say, Never Love like to this. Ah! poor Sinners, see your Jesus hanging on the Cross, dropping out his last Blood, breathing out his last Breath, stretching out his dying Arms to incircle Sinners; and come, Oh come and throw your selves into his bleeding Arms! Away with all prejudicate Opinions! Who shall say, Christ is not willing to save him, and not blaspheme eternal Love? Speak Truth: Corrupt Hearts speak Truth; say not Christ is unwilling, but you are unwilling; I would, but ye would not.  Isaac Ambrose, Looking Unto Jesus: A View of the Everlasting Gospel; Or, the Soul’s Eyeing of Jesus as Carrying on the Great Work of Man’s Salvation, from First to Last (Edinburgh: Printed for James Ormiston, 1723), 246-247.  http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2011/09/isaac-ambroses-1604-1664-on-christs.html

And especially, Berkhof:

b. It is a bona fide calling. The external calling is a calling in good faith, a calling that is seriously meant. It is not an invitation coupled with the hope that it will not be accepted. When God calls the sinner to accept Christ by faith, He earnestly desires this; and when He promises those who repent and believe eternal life, His promise is dependable. This follows from the very nature, from the veracity, of God. It is blasphemous to think that God would be guilty of equivocation and deception, that He would say one thing and mean another, that He would earnestly plead with the sinner to repent and believe unto salvation, and at the same time not desire it in any sense of the word. The bona fide character of the external call is proved by the following passages of Scripture: Num. 23:19; Ps. 81:13-16; Prov. 1:24; Isa. 1:18-20; Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11; Matt. 21:37; II Tim. 2:13. The Canons of Dort also assert it explicitly in III and IV, 8. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 462.

Restating the Problem

September 26, 2011

Link History to this thread:
7. Finally an Answer!
6. Restating the Problem
5. Limited Atonement and the Falsification of the Sincere Offer of the Gospel

4. When is a conversation about an offer of something, not a conversation about an offer of something?
3. When is an offer not an offer?
2.God and Green Spotted Unicorns
1. James Anderson’s Argument for a Sincere Offer Based on a Limited Provision

1) From Hays:

2) If we define the gospel offer as a conditional offer, then when God offers the gospel to the unredeemed, that involves no element of deception. That’s an honest offer. For anyone who accepts the offer will receive what was promised. A true offer. http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/09/whats-well-meant-offer.html

And again:

Example 4:

Steve: vii) Here’s a divine offer:

10Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11?Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.”(Isa 7:10-12)”

There are two parties to this offer: God and Ahaz. God is both able and willing to do it. Indeed, God will make good on the offer-despite the intransigence of Ahaz.

By contrast, Ahaz is unwilling to take God up on the offer. What is more, God foreknew that Ahaz would refuse the offer.

So does Ponter think God is guilty of insincerity? Was this not a bona fide offer? http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/09/ponters-hypercalvinism.html
and
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/08/whens-offer-not-offer.html

Manata:

Here’s the offer: If you come, then there is provision for you.

If “sincerity” means one is truthful about his intentions, basically, that one tells the truth, then, as we saw above, David’s analysis here leaves out a crucial valuation: If the man doesn’t come, and the provision isn’t there, the offer is still sincere just in case if the man were to come, there would be provision. On Calvinism, how can the man come? If God elects him. And, if God elects him, he will provide for them all that they need. So, if a man comes, then he is elect, and there will be provisions. There is no possible world where P o ¬Q obtain, and so there is no possible world where the offer could have a “false” truth value. http://analytictheologye4c5.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/ponter-on-anderson-on- limited-atonement-and-the-free-offer/

David:

My problem is that even with my qualifying sentences, I’ve inadvertently confused Hays and Manata when I included within the definition of offer: a willingness to give something to someone, if they are willing to accept it.

2) Rather, offer should be defined as this and no more,

To present something to someone for their acceptance or rejection.

Now the following is extraneous and irrelevant to the definition, even if it is entailed or presupposed:

The reception of the thing offered is conditioned by the willingness of the offeree.

It is this extra thought that I was trying to capture in my definition, but it has only confused them, and that is partly my fault.

So now the critical points:

3) Under Hays’ conception, what is God “presenting” to the NDF (non-died-for) to be accepted or rejected?

God cannot be presenting (i.e., proposing to give, or to provide, or to tender) the NDF with forgiveness of sins, or with justification, or with salvation, as none of these are available for him to present to them. God has not provided any provision for them, whereby, he, for his part, can present the possibility of forgiveness of sins, or of justification, or of salvation, to the NDF.

4) If we come back to this, Manata:

Here’s the offer: If you come, then there is provision for you.

We are back to a bare conditional statement. However, the conditional statement itself is not an offer. Unless all that is being offered is the statement itself. If this is so, then faith rests only upon the statement, and not upon the person and work of Christ directly.

However, given that there is no provision for the NDF, this statement to them is false. [See sections 5-6, here.]

5) Now we can also come back to this from Hays:

There are two parties to this offer: God and Ahaz. God is both able and willing to do it.

The difference between Ahaz and the non-died-for is that in Ahaz’s case, God was willing and able; but, in the case of the NDF, on Hays’ conception, God is not able to forgive or to save or to justify the NDF (and perhaps not even willing?). Thus, on the supposition of a limited satisfaction for the sins of the elect alone, God is not able to give forgiveness of sins, or salvation, to the NDF.

And considering that divine sincerity in the offer has to be indexed to the ability to communicate what is offered, God cannot be sincere in his offers of forgiveness of sins to the NDF.

For most folk that should be the end of the matter.

David

Limited Atonement and the Falsification of the Sincere Offer of the Gospel

September 16, 2011

Link History to this thread:
7. Finally an Answer!
6. Restating the Problem
5. Limited Atonement and the Falsification of the Sincere Offer of the Gospel

4. When is a conversation about an offer of something, not a conversation about an offer of something?
3. When is an offer not an offer?
2.God and Green Spotted Unicorns
1. James Anderson’s Argument for a Sincere Offer Based on a Limited Provision

Limited Atonement and the Falsification of the Sincere Offer of the Gospel

Outline:

I. Introduction.
II. Assumptions.
III. The issue and the problem.
IV. What it means to make an offer.
V. The falsity of the conditional.
VI. The “conditional” considered as a proposal of means.
VII. What is Harry to believe?
VIII. Objections.
IX. The fact of the conditional proves unlimited satisfaction.
X. Conclusion.

I. Introduction:

Originally, I had proposed an argument that God cannot offer to forgive the non-died-for (NDF)1 because he is not able to confer forgiveness upon them, therefore, limited expiation and imputation of sin falsifies the sincere and free offer of forgiveness to all men. My argument is that given the proper and true definition of ‘offer,’2 God cannot sincerely, well-meaningly, genuinely, and legitimately offer to forgive a person for whom there is no basis of forgiveness available for that person. Thus, if God should offer forgiveness to someone for whom no forgiveness has been obtained or made possible by the death of Christ, such a divine offer would be insincere, disingenuous, illegitimate and ill-meant.3

The first serious response to our argument is that if the particularism of limited expiation and sin-bearing falsifies the free and sincere offer of the Gospel to all men, then so does the particularism of election and preterition. And so the argument unfolds: If the classic-moderate Calvinist can affirm that the particularism entailed in an election (and preterition) does not falsify the free and sincere offer of the gospel to all men, then, likewise, he should not object that the particularism entailed in a limited satisfaction for sin falsifies the free and sincere offer of the gospel to all men. Our response to this is that the particularism in both election and limited satisfaction for sin do not bear a univocal relationship to the gospel offer. I argue that the particularism in election and preterition entails a divine willingness to save some and not to save others, and this particularism is located in the secret will. On the other hand, the particularism of limited satisfaction entails an inability to impart salvation, an inability to impart the very thing offered with regard to the NDF.4 The problem should be clear when one realizes that the legitimacy and genuineness the divine offer is directly indexed to the availability of the thing offered.5 God cannot sincerely and genuinely offer what he knows he is not able to give. Under the terms of limited satisfaction, forgiveness of sins with respect to the NDF is impossible, and so for God to make a pretense of offering forgiveness to the NDF is insincere and a mockery.

This then leads to the second counter to our original argument. This second reply has two steps. The second objection first challenges the standard definition of the word “offer” by asserting that a simple statement of fact expressed in conditional form properly and rightly constitutes a legitimate and sincere offer.6 Thus, the argument goes, even on the supposition that a specific hearer is NDF, the conditional statement, “if you believe, you will be saved” made to that hearer, itself, constitutes a legitimate offer of salvation.7

Then the argument further attempts to validate the sincerity of that statement to that specific hearer on the basis of the following counter-factual supposition that, ‘An offer that is made to a given NDF person is sincere in that had that person believed, he would have obtained the offered salvation, because it would have turned out that he was died-for8 all along.’

The background assumptions in this line of rebuttal is that an offer is only insincere in that were a person to embrace the thing offered and were to fail to obtain the thing offered then, and only then, would the offer be insincere. To avoid this, with regard to the NDF, possible worlds logic is imported, such that, upon embracing the thing offered, it would turn out that the offeree was died-for all along.

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