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When is a conversation about an offer of something, not a conversation about an offer of something?

August 30, 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

When is a conversation about an offer of something, not a conversation about an offer of something?

When it is a conversation about how the thing offered is received.

The following reply from me to Steve Hays is a friendly attempt to move the conversation along. I have been working on this for a few days now. I have taken the time to put this together because it appears that certain details are causing confusion. While there is a lot I agree with what Steve says below, I just cannot help thinking it all misses the point. We clearly have different concepts of what “offer” is, and what it means to make an offer of something.

What is more, I really think that the attempt to fixate on parsing the word “offer,” to find any and every possible exception really misses the point.

Some introductory thoughts and points:

1) There are two issues. The first issue is basic: Does God make an offer? Does God make a sincere offer? Does God’s offer even need to be sincere? Does God make a well-meaning offer. Does God’s offer even need to be well-meant? When the conversation turns on these sorts of questions, the conversation has gone awry already. It is already turning on Hypercalvinist versus evangelical Calvinist axis points.

The second issue is, on the terms of evangelical Calvinism, can God’s offer of forgiveness to those whom he cannot confer forgiveness be sincere?

Right now, we are bogged down in the first issue. However, I believe that for most folk the issue is pretty straight-forward. That is, it has been our experience that for the most part those who want to challenge the very meaning of constitutes a sincere offer are generally those who have already made a pre-commitment to Hypercalvinist categories, either tentatively or fully. You can tell these people by the way they get all bent out of shape so quickly. :-)

2) For many, the debate will ultimately come down to these pre-commitments:

If one has affirmed already that God does not by revealed will desire the salvation of all men, then one is already in the Hypercalvinist tradition. This has to be so, because one cannot, on the one hand, deny that God by revealed will desires the salvation of all men and then, on the other hand, meaningfully affirm a well-meant offer.

How does that follow? We know that in terms of the secret will, God desires not to save the non-elect. According to evangelical Calvinism, we also know that in terms of the revealed will God desires to save the non-elect.

So, if we deny that by revealed will that God desires to save the non-elect, and this includes the entailment that the Gospel offer does not express God’s desire to save the non-elect hearers, this means that the criteria which sustains a well-meant offer has now been voided. In the Gospel offer, it would then follow that God only desires to not save the non-elect. Thus, when God makes an appearance of seeking someone’s salvation, he is being insincere. Denial of a well-meant offer is the hallmark of hypercalvinism, if anything is.

For my limited understanding of things, either the gospel offer is well-meant or ill-meant. Non-meant? I don’t think so.

So, a well-meant or a sincere offer cannot be sustained on terms which denies that by revealed will God desires the salvation of the non-elect. A person may speak as if they are positing a well-meant offer, but in actuality, they are not. Therefore, any talk about what constitutes a sincere divine offer of the gospel but yet denies a well-meant offer of the gospel just rings hollow and is antithetical to true Calvinism . For example, no one in the John Calvin, John Murray, John Piper tradition of Calvinism should disagree with this.

So keep in mind, our discussion is properly with non-Hypercalvinist evangelical Calvinists. I know that most of what I say will probably fail to convince anyone already committed to Hypercalvinist assumptions.

3) Regarding the meaning of offer, all one needs to do is look up a good dictionary. The OED is one of my favorites.

Here is what appears to be happening. There is a confusion about the offer of the thing, and the mechanism by which the thing offered is obtained. We can see this confusion in Steve’s latest rejoinder:

The conditional nature of the gospel offer isn’t just a point of logic. Rather, that’s how the offer is revealed to us in Scripture. Scripture presents the offer of the gospel in conditional terms.

David: Not exactly. The mechanism as to how one is to be saved is revealed by a simple statement of fact expressed conditionality. For example, if a man asks, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer is: Believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.

That is, the “thing” being offered is salvation. Conditional statements direct our attention to the mechanism of salvation, i.e., how we obtain the thing that is offered to us, or, generally, how something is accomplished. But they are not properly the offer of the thing itself. This is the circle that Steve and others are running around and around.

Any standard college level dictionary will define the offer as something like this:

‘An offer is a proffer or invitation to give someone something to someone if they are willing to receive it.’

Now keep in mind, the offers of the gospel are not tendered to only the willing, but to all. If I use the word “invitation” this may bring light where there is confusion. The invitation of the gospel goes out to all, the invitation consist of an offer, made to all men, that is, “God is willing and able to forgive you… all of you… but you must come.”

We are directing the focus of our objection to this aspect, to the offer of thing, not to the thing itself, that is, how one obtains what is offered. Simply addressing the mechanism, as if that’s is, only leads to a conversational circle.

The underlying confusion is the attempt to impose upon us the idea that God’s inability to confer what he offers pertains to any inability, metaphysical, theological or otherwise.  This is nothing but a failure to listen to what we are saying. We are talking about an inability inherent to the offer of forgiveness itself. For his part, God is legally unable to impart the very thing he offers to impart: he does not possess a provision to give to those for whom no provision has been made.  This inability is judicial and legal, not metaphysical etc.   However, sincerity of the offer of forgiveness is indexed to the availability to impart forgiveness.  If one does not see the problem in God offering what he, himself, does not have to give, the conversation will not move forward in a constructive manner.

4) We are also saying that in some contexts, simple statements of fact expressed conditionally can be false. This should be obvious.

A man with a minivan which seats 11 people (within the bounds of law and propriety, etc) says to a crowd of 1000, “If all of you were to get into my car, you will find a seat for a ride home.”

We now have a counter-factual state of affairs in relation to what is purportedly offered. The car will only seat 11 (including the driver), saying to 1000 people that “if all of you get in, you will find a ride,” is a false.

There are lots of possible examples where alleged statements of fact expressed in conditional form can be false.

Our objector, for his part, argues that an offer can be reduced to a statement of fact expressed as bare conditionality, he thinks, thereby, he can justify God’s sincerity in the proposition to Judas, “if you believe, you will be saved.”

We are saying two things, 1) that is not an offer, and 2) not all statements of facts in conditional form are true. One may object and say, it is true in this case, because had Judas believed, it would have turned out he was elect and died-for after all. The problem is, that now gives us two Judas,’ firstly the reprobate Judas to whom the offer was made, and elect Judas, to whom the thing offered, salvation, was conferred.

This is self-referentially absurd. And it attempts validate God’s offer to reprobate Judas (Judas1) by the actuality that elect Judas (Judas2) actually receives the thing offered. I have to assume one should be able to see the problem here. Can God’s offer to reprobate Judas be validated on the terms of a reality or world where reprobate Judas lives in? No. For in the world where reprobate Judas lives, his believing all he likes will not make him died-for.  And not being died-for, no forgiveness can be conferred. The conditional statement could only be true if Judas was died-for, AND if he believed. Believing does not make him died-for.

Again, if one does not see the problem that has been created by the above unfortunate attempt to resolve the problem they have created, there is cannot a lot of head-way in this conversation.

Now, if we were to say to Judas, that the mechanism by which you are saved is through belief, then we would begin to have some basis for justly saying to Judas, if you believe you will be saved. I say “begin” because the other mechanism by which any man is saved is the mechanism of the provision of the satisfaction. If there is no provision, addressing the mechanism of “belief” is inadequate.

If any do no understand my points here, all they have to do is ask, with a friendly email or post.

5) There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding a divine offer and a human offer, and apparently with the idea that somehow if one can find exceptions in human scenarios that impacts and adjusts what God, himself, can offer. Simply put, we are not talking about those instances where someone in good faith offers something only to find out that he or she is not able to confer–for whatever reason–what he or she has offered. (More below.) We are talking about instances where a person makes an “offer” of something, knowing that he or she cannot confer or impart what is offered.

Lastly, I may have missed things or forgotten things I had intended to say in the following, but this should be enough. Hopefully, it will at least move the conversation along in the proper manner of Christian and academic discourse. I will tighten up any poor English expression later.

Now to Steve. Steve offers a preamble, and then a number of analogies.

Preamble1:

Steve Hays:

Even if (arguendo), the concept of an offer incorporates sincerity or veracity, that doesn’t figure in the meaning of the word itself.

David: To make it very clear, then, a genuine offer presupposes sincerity. A disingenuous offer presupposes insincerity. A genuine offer must be true and sincere. For example, a man who does not have your well-being in mind, but with an unalloyed desire, desires that you do not take up the thing offered, makes no sincere offer.

Of course, if one does not accept that, then the conversation is all about spinning wheels.

If you are committed to affirming that God’s offer to the non-elect is ill-meaning then that is Hypercalvinism. And we will probably never be able to agree on what an offer is, or what criteria there are that validate the sincerity of an offer.

Steve: iii) Ponter’s stipulation apparently includes a tacit proviso: God would never make a false or insincere offer: therefore, a genuine offer is, by definition, sincere or true.

David: That was assumed. God cannot lie. Therefore God can not make a lying offer.

Steve: But even if that’s a correct statement regarding the nature of a divine offer, that is not the nature of an offer, per se. So Ponter can’t extract that additional caveat from the concept of an offer qua offer.

David: The terms of the question were: Can God make a sincere offer of forgiveness to those whom he cannot confer forgiveness. If offer means what offer means, then the answer has to be no. Again, we are not talking about the thing offered, or the mechanism by which it is obtained or received.

Example 1:

Steve: iv) Must an offer be a sincere offer to be a genuine offer?

Let’s distinguish between a “sincere” or “well-meant” offer and a true offer. Take a dilemma. Suppose I’m a high school football coach. One of my players comes to me, telling me he saw the halfback take a laptop from the locker of the running back, and put it in his own locker.

Suppose I confront the halfback. I tell him that if he lets me search his locker, and I don’t find the laptop, then he’s in the clear–but if I do find the laptop, then he’s off the team.

If he’s innocent, then he has nothing to lose by letting me search his locker. But if he’s guilty, then he’s in a bind. If he let’s me search his locker, then that will confirm his guilt. But if he refuses, then I know he has something to hide.

David: We need to be clear here. His innocence is not being offered, nor his guilt. If he is “in the clear,” he is innocent, he was innocent all along. His innocence or guilt is only being exposed. All that one could say is that the mechanism by which his innocence or guilt may discerned is being offered.

Steve: I make the offer knowing that if he’s guilty, he will probably refuse the offer. And I’ll infer his guilt from his refusal.

David: It would be wrong to infer his guilt from any denial to allow you to search his locker: after all even students have legal rights.

Steve: It’s a no-win situation for a guilty player, but that’s the point. If he lets me search his locker, and I don’t find the laptop, then he’s exonerated. If he refuses, then his refusal is the evasive behavior of a guilty man.

David: To be clear, we have here back to statements of facts expressed in simple conditional forms placed back to back:

1) If the locker is empty of laptop, he is innocent.

2) If the locker contains laptop, he is guilty.

The presence or the absence of the locker is the mechanism by which one may discover if he is guilty or innocence. So far so good.

So moving on:

Steve: Yet there’s another sense in which my offer is insincere or ill-meant inasmuch as I know that if he’s culpable, he won’t cooperate. He will spurn the offer. Indeed, I’m banking on that quandary as a pressure tactic to smoke him out.

David: So now we come to motive. The intention is to simply “smoke him out” to make him feel bad. The “offer” was to trap him. Okay. So it is, as you say, ill-meant.

If the singular motive was to entrap the player, most normal people would understand that the offer was not serious or sincere. It was not proposed as a serious well-meaning desire that the player be exonerated. If we transpose that to the gospel offer, then this only sustains a Hypercalvinist concept of the offer. Hypercalvinists often posit that the purpose of the “offer” with regard to the non-elect only is to increase their condemnation and suffering, in hell etc. This, it turns out, exactly mirrors you illustration here.

We are talking about what it means for God to make an offer. An ill-meant offer, to “smoke out” the non-elect is not a well-meant offer by your own concession. This “smoke him out” approach may work under the terms of Hypercalvinism, but in Evangelical Calvinism, God’s offer of salvation to the non-elect is always well-meant. And of course, the non-elect are “smoked out” for rejecting something that was never provided for them or intended for them. That itself is a problem.

So on all counts, I do not believe that the offer to the player was serious, nor was it well-meant, nor was it was sincere, nor is any of this comparable to the issue hand regarding God’s offer. It was just not a real offer, but a disguise for entrapment. Indeed, the legal term is called just that: entrapment.

This is a fundamental point: is the gospel offer with regard to the non-elect well-meant or ill-meant. True Calvinism say that in the terms inherent to the offer and its proper motive, it is always well-meant. It is only upon the supposition of rebellion, that it gives occasion for their increased condemnation. For sure, this occasion was part of the secret intention, but, nonetheless, accidental to the inherent motive and intention in the gospel offer (Calvin). And so it turns out that this is actually not a Calvinist response. Its heterodox in terms of historic Calvinism.

Steve: The same offer functions as an incentive to the innocent, but a disincentive to the guilty.

David: Sure, if the singular motive of the offerer was to entrap the offeree, then the motive is insincere, ill-meaning and not serious. And all this is beside the point.

Again, the coach has offered a procedure by which the player’s innocence or guilt is displayed. However, if the singular motive is to entrap the player, then by all normal ethicist accounts of motive and sincerity, the offer would be classed as insincere and disingenuous, because for most humans, motive, ill or otherwise, is factored in when deciding if an offer of something is sincere or not.

Apart from possible legal considerations regarding the propriety of the coach searching the player’s locker, was there anything which the coach could not impart, according to the respective conditions? No. Thus, in the final analysis, the illustration talks passed us.

Further We can already see that between Steve’s position and my position, wider rifts are appearing which speak to the core of what is a well-meant offer.

Example 2:

Steve: v) Must an offer be true to be genuine?

Suppose a store offers a product on sale to lure customers in. Suppose the store has no intention of honoring the offer. The store made no effort to stock the sales item. That was just a deceptive come-on.

Isn’t that a fraudulent offer? Isn’t the store legally liable for false advertising?

Here’s an offer that’s both false and insincere. If, however, we say that such an offer is not a genuine offer, then the store can’t be fined or sued for fraud. After all, if it never even made an offer (as Ponter defines it), then it can’t be guilty of making a fraudulent offer.

[Underlining mine.]

David: Okay… firstly, a store salesman makes an offer for which knows it cannot back-up, but if it the store salesman declares that it cannot back-up the offer, it’s a sincere false offer. Is that what you are saying, Steve? I have to be honest, all this seems to be pretty banal stuff.

But secondly, and more importantly, if the salesman makes an offer which he knows he cannot back-up and in so doing be deceptive, then God who make a sincere offer knowing that he cannot impart the thing he offers, as just as deceptively, even more so.

So to labor the point:

Suppose we make the product washing machines and also let’s now suppose the salesman, the agent of this deception, were to stand out in the footpath, outside the shop, saying customers passing by:

“Hey sir, you sir, if you come and pay the money, you find a the dandiest most efficient washing machines you will ever find.”

What’s is happening there? The man has tabled a statement of fact in the form of a bare material conditionality.

To short-hand it all: if you pay the money, you will get a washing machine.

The problem is, he won’t. The material conditionality is false. The truth value is false. Not all conditional statements are true.

One cannot shift to another reality and say, “well had the man come in and paid the money, it would have turned out the the salesman had a washing machine after all. And likewise, its self-referentially absurd to say, Had reprobate Judas believed, it would have turned out that he was not reprobate at all but elect. On a few levels this is incoherent.

Example 3:

Steve: vi) Must an offer be true to be sincere or well-meant? Suppose I offer to sell a friend my classic Mustang. He pays me the amount.

When we go to the garage, I discover, to my surprise and consternation (not to mention my friend’s dismay), that the Mustang has been stolen. When I made the offer I was (unwittingly) in no position to make the offer. My offer was sincere, but inadvertently false. I was willing, but unable (unbeknownst to me) to make good on the terms of the offer.

David: Sure, one may not know that one is able to impart the thing offered, and yet the offer be sincere. When the offer tendered his offer, under the assumption that the offerer had the legal ability to sell the car, it indeed was a sincere offer. So far so good. However, one cannot sincerely offer when one knows one has no ability to confer.

For example, in criminal law, one can offer to sell stolen goods. If you know it is stolen, you cannot legally offer it for sale. An you offer of a car known to be stolen would be insincere. So suppose a person, in good faith, offers to sell car, but it is later revealed that the car is stolen. What happens is, is that the offer is rescinded, it is voided, retracted, withdrawn. There can be no true and sincere offer of something wherein one does not have the legal right to impart: other than a lying offer..

Secondly, this example, like a lot we are seeing is fine and dandy, but actually fails to address the point. It fails to address the real issue because the comparison is  not comparable to God: God suffers not from any problem of agnosia, so this analogy has no bearing on the stated problem at hand. It will never turn out that what God offers failed to exist, was stolen property, was destroyed by moth and rust. It will never be the case that God thought he had the thing he was offering, but went looking, only to find he never had it all along.

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?

David: Again, the sincerity of the offer is not indexed to the secret will or secret intention or by divine foreknowledge. Nor is it indexed to the ability or willingness of the offeree. The free offer of the gospel is indexed to the revealed will. Nor is the sincere offer ever invalidated by the secret will, or the secret intention, or by divine foreknowledge. These are basic evangelical Calvinist categories.

Steve: viii) It’s also unclear, on Ponter’s own definition, how the free offer of the gospel can be either universal or well meant. Since Ponter is not a universalist, he must believe that God knowingly makes the offer to many who are unwilling to receive the offer. But in that event, God never even made them the offer (as Ponter defines it).

David: When God made his offer to Ahas was sincere and remains sincere, despite Ahaz’ unwillingness to act upon it. Again, the sincerity is not indexed or underwritten or grounded in or keyed to the willingness or unwillingness of the offeree. Nor is it invalidated by the unwillingness or inability of the offeree. Again this is basic evangelical Calvinism.

To close:

I would say the first example is just off-point, as it only detailed the mechanism by which the coach proposed whereby the innocence or guilt of the player would be discerned and, respectively, rewarded. The second and third example actually support my case. The fourth example, while on point, fails to understand the basic Calvinist understanding as to how matters of the secret will never invalid matters of the revealed will.

And so, all of it just misses the point and skirts around the issue. Parsing the word “offer” may be a fun exercise. The reality is, though, you are just talking passed us: thanks for some of the corrections to our expression, but let us move on. And honestly, it is analysis without imagination. It is as if the forest can’t be seen for the trees.

I am more than willing to be corrected or informed, as generally such corrections work to either cause me to tighten up my argument or even abandon it.

Lastly, given the demeanor of some of the posts I have seen directed to us, I must say it appears to me that a lot of this is nothing more than an Christ-less intellectualism thinly disguised as a sophisticated “analytic.”

David

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2011 6:42 pm

    David, you said:

    one cannot, on the one hand, deny that God by revealed will desires the salvation of all men and then, on the other hand, meaningfully affirm a well-meant offer.

    It occurred to me as I was reading the increasingly complex debate around the necessary conditions for a sincere offer that desire was what everyone was missing. Rather than focusing on ability (or at least focusing on it exclusively), we should focus on desire as well.

    If God makes an offer that he does not desire the reprobate to accept, it would seem the offer is insincere. 2 Corinthians 5:20 comes to mind, with God “imploring” sinners to be reconciled to him. (I expect Paul and Steve would interpret this as speaking to the elect only, especially given the context, but I find that interpretation problematic. Anyway.)

    That said, Paul (Manata) does deny that God desires the salvation of the reprobate. Well, in the discussions I’ve had with him he has taken issue with it, and argued that it makes God means-end irrational given a standard definition of desire. Perhaps we need a non-standard definition. He didn’t bring up God’s hidden and revealed wills in that discussion so my assumption is he doesn’t think it’s relevant, but maybe he simply overlooked it. I wouldn’t want to impute a position to him without certainty :)

    Another, related issue I see here is that I think Paul is subtly reinterpreting the UA version of the offer. We say, “God is willing and able to forgive you, but you must come.”

    Paul, wanting to show that this is still a conditional statement, rewrites it something like, “If you come, God is willing and able to forgive you.”

    But that is not our position, because God’s willingness and ability is not conditioned upon the sinner’s reaction. It is an unconditional willingness and ability. So to rephrase it as a normal conditional, it would read more like, “If you come, the willing and able God will forgive you”. But that alone is not an offer either.

    Now, to switch sides :)

    With regard to the hypothetical Judas, I think you’ve got troubles brewing. You say the conditional “if Judas believed, then he would be saved” is false under LA. But if you’ll forgive me, I think you’re confused.

    The statement “would be saved” is shorthand. It includes, at least, the proposition “there would be provision made for Judas on the cross”. Because that is what underwrites salvation and belief itself—under both LA and UA. Election, redemption etc. But under LA, given this conditional, it is true that provision is made for Judas. Remember, belief itself is conditioned on election and redemption. Faith is a gift. So although you say that the conditional is false, because if Judas were to believe he would actually not find provision, in fact the conditional is true, because the only way that Judas could believe is if he would find provision.

    In other words, belief cannot occur in isolation. Under both LA and UA, you can’t flip the truth value on belief without flipping the truth values on the preconditions for belief. It would actually be self-referentially absurd to try to give belief a truth value of T but give election a truth value of F. So you’re absolutely right to say, “The conditional statement could only be true if Judas was died-for, AND if he believed.” But you’re absolutely wrong to say, “Believing does not make him died-for.” In fact, under LA, believing does “make” him died-for, in the sense that his being died-for is a precondition of his believing.

    So while the conditional does indeed entail a second world with a second elect Judas, that is just a natural byproduct of LA. Because it is impossible for this world’s Judas to believe. That’s not self-referentially absurd that I can see. It’s just that “if Judas were to believe, then he would be saved” refers to a state of affairs that is impossible in the real world. So there is nothing deceitful about saying to a reprobate sinner, S, “If you believe, you will be saved”. Since belief is impossible for S (although he does not know it), this is a true statement. Just as the statement, “If you were elect you would be saved” is a true statement when spoken to S.

    The real problem is that all this is irrelevant. The whole argument here is predicated on the idea that the gospel is a conditional statement. But is the gospel is a conditional statement? That’s what we should be talking about. Accepting the conditional statement and then going after it to try to show an internal inconsistency in LA is going to fail. No such inconsistency exists. We should be rejecting that the gospel offer is a conditional altogether, and arguing on those grounds.

    I’m working on an article of my own defending the view that the gospel offer is not a conditional, then defining what makes the offer sincere, and comparing that to LA. But until then, I hope this helps.

  2. Flynn permalink*
    August 30, 2011 11:30 pm

    Hey Dominic,

    David, you said:

    You say: It occurred to me as I was reading the increasingly complex debate around the necessary conditions for a sincere offer that desire was what everyone was missing. Rather than focusing on ability (or at least focusing on it exclusively), we should focus on desire as well.

    If God makes an offer that he does not desire the reprobate to accept, it would seem the offer is insincere. 2 Corinthians 5:20 comes to mind, with God “imploring” sinners to be reconciled to him. (I expect Paul and Steve would interpret this as speaking to the elect only, especially given the context, but I find that interpretation problematic. Anyway.)

    David: Sure. I recall even Greg Welty admitted to Tony in that discussion years ago that without the revealed will, such that the gospel offer only stood upon the grounds of the secret will, it could not be sincere. I would have to go hunting for that.

    The other thing is that one cannot be held culpable for rejecting an ill-meant offer. If we mean command, sure, a policemen who only seeks my capture, may command me to stop. However, an offer is in a different category.

    Dominic:
    With regard to the hypothetical Judas, I think you’ve got troubles brewing. You say the conditional “if Judas believed, then he would be saved” is false under LA. But if you’ll forgive me, I think you’re confused.

    The statement “would be saved” is shorthand. It includes, at least, the proposition “there would be provision made for Judas on the cross”. Because that is what underwrites salvation and belief itself—under both LA and UA. Election, redemption etc. But under LA, given this conditional, it is true that provision is made for Judas. Remember, belief itself is conditioned on election and redemption. Faith is a gift. So although you say that the conditional is false, because if Judas were to believe he would actually not find provision, in fact the conditional is true, because the only way that Judas could believe is if he would find provision.

    David: Actually this is not something that started with us, it was used a tool to rebut our position. I am just responding to it, trying to penetrate the logic of the idea. And for sure I understand that the statement is short-hand for “if he did come, he would find an atonement for him.”

    Okay, so the idea is that were Judas to “believe” it would turn out that would have been regenerated and therefore elected and therefore died-for, etc.

    I am saying 2 things 1) that would no longer be the reprobate Judas to whom the offer came: that person ceases to exist (or is disregarded) the moment we switch to elect Judas. 2) even if the reprobate Judas, should he believe, he still would not be saved, unless he was also died for, as simple belief does not instantiate Christ’s death for you. [I cant really think you would disagree with this. If I am right, then I am not “absolutely wrong.”] So its not enough to simply assert that were he to believe, he would find a provision: this is reprobate Judas. He wouldn’t. Only he we first or also posit “died-for” and then add belief, can we say he will find a provision. That was my point. As a side note, I am actually just paraphrase folk like Davenant and Baxter. I understand that in were Judas to have believed, in another possible world, by necessity he would have also been elect and died-for. I am not denying that.

    Dominic: In other words, belief cannot occur in isolation. Under both LA and UA, you can’t flip the truth value on belief without flipping the truth values on the preconditions for belief. It would actually be self-referentially absurd to try to give belief a truth value of T but give election a truth value of F. So you’re absolutely right to say, “The conditional statement could only be true if Judas was died-for, AND if he believed.” But you’re absolutely wrong to say, “Believing does not make him died-for.” In fact, under LA, believing does “make” him died-for, in the sense that his being died-for is a precondition of his believing.

    David, I have bolded your sentence there. That is what I am trying to say above. And I believe it covers some of what you say below.

    Dominic: So while the conditional does indeed entail a second world with a second elect Judas, that is just a natural byproduct of LA. Because it is impossible for this world’s Judas to believe. That’s not self-referentially absurd that I can see. It’s just that “if Judas were to believe, then he would be saved” refers to a state of affairs that is impossible in the real world. So there is nothing deceitful about saying to a reprobate sinner, S, “If you believe, you will be saved”. Since belief is impossible for S (although he does not know it), this is a true statement. Just as the statement, “If you were elect you would be saved” is a true statement when spoken to S.

    David: Sure I agree with all that. But how about this. God offers reprobate Judas salvation. Were reprobate Judas to believe, etc etc, God would give Judas salvation (as he would now be died-for and elect etc), but what happened to the reprobate Judas to whom the offer was said to have come? He now disappears, as he, Judas, was now never reprobate (unless we posit two possible Judas’ in two possible worlds). As I see it, the only way to solve this is to invoke possible worlds logic and then you have to have 2 Judases. It’s absurd if someone tries to deny the reality that we now have 2 Judas in two possible worlds. The problem is, as I read the initial reply it seemed quite apparent that it was being denied that possible worlds’ logic was being invoked.

    I want to take up this line of thought:

    Dominic: Because it is impossible for this world’s Judas to believe

    I would say, God can only call upon Judas to believe, if he is died for.

    Dominic: The real problem is that all this is irrelevant. The whole argument here is predicated on the idea that the gospel is a conditional statement. But is the gospel is a conditional statement? That’s what we should be talking about. Accepting the conditional statement and then going after it to try to show an internal inconsistency in LA is going to fail. No such inconsistency exists. We should be rejecting that the gospel offer is a conditional altogether, and arguing on those grounds.

    David: I agree. This is how I read the situation coming from Steve. Reduce the gospel to a conditional statement. Then you can establish truth of that, by asserting that “were Judas to believe, he would find a sufficient satisfaction for his sins.” And that is further sustained by “indeed, had Judas believed, it would turn out that he was elect and died-for all along.”

    It’s a neat process but problematic at two points. 1) reducing offer a simple the conditional statement as you say, and 2) the attempt to validate the offer to reprobate Judas on the basis as elect Judas believes, he will not fail to find provision.

    Once one realizes the smuggling of a possible worlds’ elect Judas, one should concede that one has not validated the sincerity of the offer to reprobate Judas in this actual world.

    Dominic: I’m working on an article of my own defending the view that the gospel offer is not a conditional, then defining what makes the offer sincere, and comparing that to LA. But until then, I hope this helps.

    David: I think there are about 5 criteria for sincerity with regard to an offer. Following Hoeksema’s 4 I would had a 5th, knowledge. You cannot sincerely offer what you know you do not have to give, or by legal right do not have the ability to confer. Our point is that void any one of these conditions, and you cannot sustain a sincere offer.

    David

  3. Flynn permalink*
    August 31, 2011 10:12 pm

    Hey Dominic,

    I want to come back to the point about a false conditional, and how in what sense the statement “if Judas would believe, he would be saved” can be a false statement.

    Like this: “apart from (or in denial of) the supposition of Christ’s death for Judas, the assertion that ‘if Judas would believe, he would be saved,’ would be false.”

    I am sure you could word this better, but my point should be clear enough.

    So an example, If Mary says to Sally, “if you believe with your whole heart and say ‘I do,’ you will be married to John.”

    If we nested that in a supposition:

    “Apart from an existing legal marriage license, the claim ‘if you believe with your whole heart and say ‘I do,’ you will be married to John,’ would be false.”

    If there is no legitimate marriage license, believing and saying “I do” will not make Sally married, ie., it will not instantiate a legitimate marriage (common law marriages, etc, excepted).

    An actual license must exist prior to “I do” movement. The marriage in the church rests on the prior supposition of an existent and legal marriage license.

    Recall my analogy of the possible sinful world where Christ has not died for any man at all. With all his power and might, God could shout across this universe, “if you, any of you, believe, you will saved” will just be false

    However, now to turn the idea around. If we say that if Sally is or was genuinely married John, it would be a necessary supposition that a legitimate marriage license existed.

    I think saying it along those lines is better. However, when one says something like this, “Had Sally truly Married John, it would turn out that that they had a true marriage license all along” things can get messy once you start using counter-factual subjunctives.

    I would encourage you to read Twisse on this: William Twisse (1578–1646), The Forgotton Hypothetical Universalist

    We can compare Twisse’s response to this problem with Owen’s. Neither appeal to possible worlds counter-factuals. Twisse for his part concludes that we have to posit that Christ died for all, if we are to intelligently speak about the possibility of the non-elect believing. If Christ has not died for all, then all such expressions are meaningless. All their belief in the world will not instantiate Christ’s death for them. This is what Davenant and Baxter were respectively trying to point out.

    Owen, on the other hand, inverts the answer and relies on a bare conditional statement or promise (whatever). But Owen’s position is self-refuting, for the above reason: one cannot speak of any not elect being saved apart from the supposition of Christ’s death for them.

    Now we are in a position to move forward, I think. Its not enough to say that in some indirect sense that Christ’s death is for the non-elect, that it has some advantage, because of the very nature of the satisfaction and imputation of sin. Nor will a hypothetical sufficiency as posited by Owen supply the necessary missing supposition.

    The rest the argument-problem you know all about.

    Anyway, I hope that clarifies some of my expression. Conversation and comments welcome.

    David

  4. August 31, 2011 11:15 pm

    Hey David, yeah, I’m still pretty sure you’re wrong on this point :)

    If there is no legitimate marriage license, believing and saying “I do” will not make Sally married, ie., it will not instantiate a legitimate marriage (common law marriages, etc, excepted).

    The analogy doesn’t hold, because in the analogy Sally is capable of saying “I do” whether or not a marriage license actually exists.

    For the analogy to be accurate, Sally could only say “I do” in the event that a marriage license existed. But then the conditional would be true, and there’s no poblem.

    Recall my analogy of the possible sinful world where Christ has not died for any man at all. With all his power and might, God could shout across this universe, “if you, any of you, believe, you will saved” will just be false

    Why is it false? Supposing that world was identical to ours except that no one had been elected, and supposing that LA was true, what would make the conditional false? There mere fact that the conditional cannot or will not obtain in a given world doesn’t make it false.

    For example, imagine a world where the conditions of salvation were not Christ’s atonement, and faith therein, but the ability to communicate telepathically. And imagine that, like this world, human beings were not created with the power of telepathy. It is not false in that world for God to say, “if you, any of you, communicate telepathically, then you will be saved,” because he has declared that this is, in fact, the condition of salvation.

    Of course, in such a world it would be arguably meaningless for God to say such a thing, because no one in fact has the ability to communicate telepathically. But if he had created a limited number of people with that gift, then the conditional would not be meaningless at all—and it would still be just as true.

    Twisse for his part concludes that we have to posit that Christ died for all, if we are to intelligently speak about the possibility of the non-elect believing.

    I’m not convinced we can intelligently talk about the non-elect believing, regardless of the extent of the expiation. In what sense is it possible for the non-elect to believe, under our view? Are you saying that under UA there is a possible world in which a non-elect person exercises saving faith (even if that possible world is not the real world)?

    I would have to deny that UA entails the proposition that possibly the non-elect can believe. That would also entail the proposition that possibly the non-elect can be justified. Possibly the non-elect can be sanctified. Possibly the non-elect can die and be received into the presence of the Lord. But that isn’t Calvinism of any description.

    All their belief in the world will not instantiate Christ’s death for them.

    Again, you’re not noticing the implicit contradiction in this statement.

    Saying “all their belief in the world would not instantiate Christ’s death for them” is like saying “all their telepathic communication in the world would not establish mind powers for them”. It makes no sense. Mind powers are a prerequisite of telepathic communication. Christ’s death is a prerequisite of belief.

    If Davenant and Baxter were trying to make the same point as you, then unfortunately Davenant and Baxter were also implicitly contradicting themselves when they did so :)

    Its not enough to say that in some indirect sense that Christ’s death is for the non-elect, that it has some advantage, because of the very nature of the satisfaction and imputation of sin. Nor will a hypothetical sufficiency as posited by Owen supply the necessary missing supposition.

    As you know, I agree. But that’s a separate issue. LA is consistent. If the gospel offer is a bare conditional, then the conditional is true. It’s counter-intuitively true, but it’s still true.

    The real question then is whether first century peasants and fishermen understood modal logic well enough to treat the gospel as a conditional statement; or whether they instead believed the gospel was an appeal, a plea—which is not something you couch in conditional terms.

  5. Flynn permalink*
    September 1, 2011 9:54 am

    Hey Dominic:

    You say: For example, imagine a world where the conditions of salvation were not Christ’s atonement, and faith therein, but the ability to communicate telepathically. And imagine that, like this world, human beings were not created with the power of telepathy. It is not false in that world for God to say, “if you, any of you, communicate telepathically, then you will be saved,” because he has declared that this is, in fact, the condition of salvation.

    David: Okay, Let’s grant that. Could God sincerely and meaningfully offer that as a means of salvation? It would bring us back to the “natural vs moral inability” point. Were God to command us to communicate telepathically, he would be insincere. And so, I think also: were he to require of us telepathic communication in order to be saved, he would be insincere. He is just toying with us. As a pure abstraction, I grant your point.

    Dominic: Of course, in such a world it would be arguably meaningless for God to say such a thing, because no one in fact has the ability to communicate telepathically. But if he had created a limited number of people with that gift, then the conditional would not be meaningless at all—and it would still be just as true.

    David. Interesting. If we bring it back to an offer, tho, it would be insincere, like toying with men, as I see. I will have to think about that.

    Dominic: I’m not convinced we can intelligently talk about the non-elect believing, regardless of the extent of the expiation. In what sense is it possible for the non-elect to believe, under our view?

    David: I would have to be careful here because God does make such statements: Circumcise your hearts…. repent… believe… etc. On the terms of total depravity, none of the above is possible. [“Election” is a condition which qualifies TD in some cases, but apart from the supposition of election, my point holds, I believe.]

    Dominic: Are you saying that under UA there is a possible world in which a non-elect person exercises saving faith (even if that possible world is not the real world)?

    David: To the question no. I am trying to zero in on the offerer’s right and propriety to make such an offer of means, when he has supplied no means. That just strikes me as common sense. The problem is on the offerer’s side.

    Dominic: I would have to deny that UA entails the proposition that possibly the non-elect can believe. That would also entail the proposition that possibly the non-elect can be justified. Possibly the non-elect can be sanctified. Possibly the non-elect can die and be received into the presence of the Lord. But that isn’t Calvinism of any description.

    David: Sure.

    Old David: All their belief in the world will not instantiate Christ’s death for them.

    Dominic: Again, you’re not noticing the implicit contradiction in this statement.

    Saying “all their belief in the world would not instantiate Christ’s death for them” is like saying “all their telepathic communication in the world would not establish mind powers for them”. It makes no sense. Mind powers are a prerequisite of telepathic communication. Christ’s death is a prerequisite of belief.

    [Edit: Ah, but the non-elect can believe, there is no natural inability. In the telepathic example, they cant communicate telepathically by innate inability. So in this sense, sure, I agree.]

    [Edit: I think I would now change some of my answer in what immediately follows:]

    David: I have to suspect that something else is [also] going on here. May be this, belief will not instantiate salvation for them.

    requote:
    Domonic: Christ’s death is a prerequisite of belief.

    David: That’s interesting. It looks like you are focusing on the order, Christ’s death comes first. I think I am focusing on different logical order where faith comes first, when I say, belief will not instantiate Christ’s death for them.

    I don’t know if this will help. I suspect that’s trading on this idea: The death of Christ causes or is the necessary occasion whereby belief is imparted by God to a sinner.

    For Hays, I gather the death of Christ causes regeneration in the elect, as by purchasing faith or something like that.

    If we say that the death of Christ is the material grounds whereby faith can be given, by God, that’s true. But let us not forget that faith is the instrumental cause, and causa sine qua non, whereby the death of Christ is received and applied.

    So try this: On the supposition that it is denied that Christ death, as a material cause for John’s salvation (he didn’t die for his sins), belief will never instantiate salvation (the application of Christ’s death).

    If I changed the wording: Believing will not instantiate salvation for them. “Before you say “no no thats impossible because John cannot believe…” :-), hold on.

    Dominic: If Davenant and Baxter were trying to make the same point as you, then unfortunately Davenant and Baxter were also implicitly contradicting themselves when they did so :)

    David: Ouch. :-)

    Old David: Its not enough to say that in some indirect sense that Christ’s death is for the non-elect, that it has some advantage, because of the very nature of the satisfaction and imputation of sin. Nor will a hypothetical sufficiency as posited by Owen supply the necessary missing supposition.

    Dominic: As you know, I agree. But that’s a separate issue. LA is consistent. If the gospel offer is a bare conditional, then the conditional is true. It’s counter-intuitively true, but it’s still true.

    David: I included the indirect sense of “for” to cover that possible rejoinder for anyone.

    Dominic: The real question then is whether first century peasants and fishermen understood modal logic well enough to treat the gospel as a conditional statement; or whether they instead believed the gospel was an appeal, a plea—which is not something you couch in conditional terms.

    David: Agree.

    So what about this:

    Analogy first.

    On the supposition that this drink has absolutely no nutritional value in it at all, the statement to John, “John, if you drink this drink, you will be nourished” is false, I am lying to him.

    Under Hays’ concept of offer, however, I’ve actually made an offer to John. But the offer is a…. what… a lie, a falsity… insincere, and so on.

    On the supposition that there is no penal satisfaction for John’s sins, the statement to John, “if you, John, if you believe, you would be saved,” is false. [For sure there is some short-handing of premises going on in that statement.]

    Again, under Hays’ concept, an offer has been made. I would say, tho, its false, not true, a lie, insincere, etc etc.

    However, another aspect of all this, I think Hays and I would say, we can meaningfully say to a non-elect person, “if you to believe….” I would only say that on the terms of LA, the whole proposition is not true “if you to believe, you would be saved, ” is meaningless and not true. Hays would say it is. Fair enough.

    Thus, I want to come back to something you say above: “I’m not convinced we can intelligently talk about the non-elect believing, regardless of the extent of the expiation.”

    My problem with that is that God does speak just that way, calling, offering, commanding, inviting the non-elect to repent and believe, and he promises them if they would believe, he would save them. I am saying on the terms of LA, that is meaningless, but it does work on the terms of an unlimited satisfaction. You would have to suggest (given thought above) that under any terms they are meaningless (given TD, and/or election and/or reprobation, and/or non-died-for), right?

    So if I am tracking you correctly, and I may not be for sure, if we take your approach, re: believing and telepathy, etc, we would have to void a lot of Scripture predications, offers, and statements where folk are enjoined to perform an action which the actor cannot perform, etc etc. Even God lamenting that had certain folks repented (past tense), God would have saved them (past tense). God himself uses counter-factual expressions. And further, God conditionally promising salvation to all men, etc.

    I think your telepathic analogy is so abstracted that it’s disanalogical, [edit: because of the natural versus moral unwillingness distinction], but I will think some more.

    Comments welcome,
    David

  6. Flynn permalink*
    September 1, 2011 10:50 am

    Hey Dominic,

    I had another thought (dangerous I know :), given your statement: “I’m not convinced we can intelligently talk about the non-elect believing, regardless of the extent of the expiation,” then would it not be the case that God could not intelligently give “warnings [of damnation]” to believers?

    David

  7. September 1, 2011 5:52 pm

    Hey David,

    David: Okay, Let’s grant that. Could God sincerely and meaningfully offer that as a means of salvation?

    No, I don’t think so. He couldn’t offer salvation in this sense. I’m just pointing out that on LA, the problem is not in the conditional. God could merely state this conditional and it would be true.
    As you say, the problem is with him offering it. That’s where we need to focus our objection. Not on the conditional’s truth or falsehood, but on the conditional being an offer.

    David: I would have to be careful here because God does make such statements: Circumcise your hearts…. repent… believe… etc. On the terms of total depravity, none of the above is possible.

    Right, it’s not possible, but it is obligatory. A man who has stolen and then spent some money may find it impossible to pay it back, but he can still be obligated to do so.

    I am trying to zero in on the offerer’s right and propriety to make such an offer of means, when he has supplied no means.

    Right, and the place to zero in on is the conditional as an offer. The truth of the conditional is indisputable I think. But the propriety, as you say, of presenting a conditional as an offer, as an appeal, as a plea—that is very open to question.

    I don’t think a conditional constitutes an offer. If all God were saying was “If you believe then you will be saved” then I don’t think LA would have a problem. But that’s not all God is saying at all, as you agree. Rather, God is saying, please be saved, be reconciled to me, accept the gift I have bought you with my blood. And that’s where LA careens off the rails in terms of sincerity, because that isn’t a conditional statement. God is proffering salvation—the LA conditional just describes how to take it. It doesn’t describe the offer itself; only the condition required of us to accept it.

    Ah, but the non-elect can believe, there is no natural inability.

    True. This gets confusing then, because we agree that faith is gift, yet we also agree that everyone has the natural ability to exercise faith. I wonder what the precise distinction is between natural and moral inability then. The Bible indicates that regeneration is an ontological change in our composition. Yet an ontological change seems to go to the heart of natural ability. If faith requires an ontological change, then in what sense are we naturally able to exercise it, if we are not able to bring about that change ourselves?

    I’m not arguing that natural versus moral inability is a false distinction, necessarily. I’m just asking the questions, because they raise some difficult issues we’d need to work through.

    It looks like you are focusing on the order, Christ’s death comes first.

    Well, I’m looking at it from an LA perspective. Under LA, both faith and atonement are a package deal. If you’re elect, you’re atoned for and will be given faith. If you’re reprobate, you’re not atoned for, and will not be given faith. So I suppose I’m going back to God’s decree. That’s where the buck has to end.

    On the supposition that this drink has absolutely no nutritional value in it at all, the statement to John, “John, if you drink this drink, you will be nourished” is false, I am lying to him.

    I’m not sure about this. The implication of LA is that the “drink” has nutritional value if you drink it, but not if you don’t. So although I see where you’re coming from, I think an LA would deny that this is a real analogy. The logic is slippery.

    Under Hays’ concept of offer, however, I’ve actually made an offer to John.

    Yeah, and I think that’s where the wheels fall off.

    So if I am tracking you correctly, and I may not be for sure, if we take your approach, re: believing and telepathy, etc, we would have to void a lot of Scripture predications, offers, and statements where folk are enjoined to perform an action which the actor cannot perform, etc etc.

    Maybe that is an implication of my reasoning. If so, so much the worse for my reasoning. I obviously need to get deeper into “ability”, and what kinds of it there are.

    I had another thought (dangerous I know :), given your statement: “I’m not convinced we can intelligently talk about the non-elect believing, regardless of the extent of the expiation,” then would it not be the case that God could not intelligently give “warnings [of damnation]” to believers?

    Well, that’s what Arminians would allege, certainly. I think there are some avenues open there, but it’s something I’d have to think about some more.

  8. Flynn permalink*
    September 2, 2011 10:13 am

    Hey Dom,

    Firstly thanks for this conversation, and for taking the time. Its been helpful to me.

    Dominic:
    No, I don’t think so. He couldn’t offer salvation in this sense. I’m just pointing out that on LA, the problem is not in the conditional. God could merely state this conditional and it would be true.
    As you say, the problem is with him offering it. That’s where we need to focus our objection. Not on the conditional’s truth or falsehood, but on the conditional being an offer.

    David: I agree. I wondered tho if what is happening is that possible worlds logic is being used to validate the conditional? If Judas believes, he would be saved, true. But then it would be that there was satisfaction a satisfaction for Judas. It would be true on that supposition. Without that supposition, it’s a meaningless statement. It may be theoretically true, but has no practical truth.

    Dominic: Right, it’s not possible, but it is obligatory. A man who has stolen and then spent some money may find it impossible to pay it back, but he can still be obligated to do so.

    Dominic: Right, and the place to zero in on is the conditional as an offer. The truth of the conditional is indisputable I think. But the propriety, as you say, of presenting a conditional as an offer, as an appeal, as a plea—that is very open to question.

    David: Yes

    Dominic: I don’t think a conditional constitutes an offer. If all God were saying was “If you believe then you will be saved” then I don’t think LA would have a problem. But that’s not all God is saying at all, as you agree. Rather, God is saying, please be saved, be reconciled to me, accept the gift I have bought you with my blood. And that’s where LA careens off the rails in terms of sincerity, because that isn’t a conditional statement. God is proffering salvation—the LA conditional just describes how to take it. It doesn’t describe the offer itself; only the condition required of us to accept it.

    David: Yes, we both agree that Hays, and co, have no “offer,” and so the question comes to this, what are they asking Judas to believe in? If all the offer is, is a simple conditional, then they are doing no more than telling Judas to believe in a conditional statement. I think this devastating to their position.

    Old David: Ah, but the non-elect can believe, there is no natural inability.

    True. This gets confusing then, because we agree that faith is gift, yet we also agree that everyone has the natural ability to exercise faith. I wonder what the precise distinction is between natural and moral inability then. The Bible indicates that regeneration is an ontological change in our composition. Yet an ontological change seems to go to the heart of natural ability. If faith requires an ontological change, then in what sense are we naturally able to exercise it, if we are not able to bring about that change ourselves?

    David: Sure I agree complex questions. I don’t think we can resolve that, given that most of the philosophical community out there cant even decide what a “mind” is. But we do know that regeneration does not add parts. We know that man’s sin problem is not a deprivation of natural abilities, but a self privation of moral inclination.

    Dominic: I’m not arguing that natural versus moral inability is a false distinction, necessarily. I’m just asking the questions, because they raise some difficult issues we’d need to work through.

    Dominic: Well, I’m looking at it from an LA perspective. Under LA, both faith and atonement are a package deal. If you’re elect, you’re atoned for and will be given faith. If you’re reprobate, you’re not atoned for, and will not be given faith. So I suppose I’m going back to God’s decree. That’s where the buck has to end.

    David: Yeah, for limited satisfaction and imputation of sin, its all just a straight-line of causation.

    Old David On the supposition that this drink has absolutely no nutritional value in it at all, the statement to John, “John, if you drink this drink, you will be nourished” is false, I am lying to him.

    Dominic: I’m not sure about this. The implication of LA is that the “drink” has nutritional value if you drink it, but not if you don’t. So although I see where you’re coming from, I think an LA would deny that this is a real analogy. The logic is slippery.

    David: Yes good point.

    David: I thought about this, I think this shows the meaningless of the limited satisfaction view in terms of the free offer. I think this is true to the assumptions of limited satisfaction and limited imputation of sin.

    Christ is a remedy, but of such a design that it can only work for John. God could have designed it to be a remedy for John and for Peter, and of anyone else. In this sense, the remedy has infinite potential: It could have been designed to be applicable to every man who has lived, lives and shall live.

    However, in this actual world, he didn’t design it to be applicable to everyone. In this world, it is a remedy made only for John. It is applicable only to John. In this world, if the remedy, Christ, is offered to Peter, it would be a lie. Were God to say to Peter, “if you receive this remedy, you will be cured” it would be a lie and in this sense, untrue. There would be an ethical falseness about it, which cannot be denied. There is an aspect or dimension to that statement that is undeniably untrue. What is that dimension, Dominic?

    I don’t see how one can meaningfully refute that, other than by lifting the conditional out of its context, making it an abstracted material condition, to be then grounded in possible worlds’ logic for truth validation. For sure, had Peter taken the remedy, he would have been been “cured,” then it would have turned out that it was also applicable to Peter. Fine. However, I think that would just be a pretended evasion.

    But as an offer, it’s a lie. It’s false. What then does “false” in this context mean?

    Thanks, its been really helpful.
    David

  9. September 2, 2011 10:22 am

    1) Only the died for are legally saveable.
    2) Judas was not died for. (On the presupposition of LA)
    3) Therefore, Judas was not legally saveable.

    1) Only the legally saveable are offerable by God.
    2) Judas was not legally saveable.
    3) Therefore, Judas was not offerable by God.

    These syllogisms are both valid. The only question is, are they sound? I say yes.

    It seems obvious to me that offerability presupposes legal salvability, and legal salvability presupposes that one is satisfied for. This is one reason why it would be absurd to “offer” salvation to devils. They are not died for and they are therefore not legally saveable. There is a legal barrier that remains in the way since they have no substitutionary satisfaction for their sins. There is no well of life-giving water that has been opened for them.

    The same is the case with non-elect humans on the supposition of a limited imputation of sin to Christ. Therefore, he who believes in limited imputation and is engaged in indiscriminate and universal gospel “offers” to lost humans is doing something as absurd and inconsistent as one who “offers” salvation to devils. It’s a sham. It’s the offering of a hollow of a donut. It’s like saying, “Look here! Take this non-existent thing, ye non-elect! I offer to you that which sleeping rocks dream of! I offer you…NOTHING…so take it! Otherwise ye shall perish for your ingratitude for refusing such an exquisite “offer” of thin air! Nay, it’s less than thin air! Reach out and grab ye some of this…umm…stuff!”

    There’s nothing new about this issue. Edmund Calamy saw the necessary connection between saveability and offerability (and employed the argument at the Westminster Assembly), as did the later Andrew Fuller, and many others. Even the Hyper-Calvinists saw the connection and therefore rejected free/indiscriminate “offers.” Matthias Martinius (a Bremen delegate at the Synod of Dort) saw it long ago, and said:

    “There is in God a certain common love to man with which he regarded the whole lapsed human race, and seriously willed the salvation of all. The exercise of this love to man appears in the outward call to the elect and reprobate without distinction.—In this call are to be distinguished these things: the historical narrative concerning Christ, the command to believe, the interdiction of unbelief, the promise of eternal life made to believers, the threatening of damnation to the unbelieving. And if any one does not believe, the issue of this call is condemnation, and expressly for this reason, because he does not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18.) But this issue in itself is not intended by God, but follows by accident through the fault of man. —Moreover, this outward call — necessarily requires antecedent to itself these things; the promise and mission of the Son (formerly future, now past), and redemption, that is, the payment of a price to atone for sins, and God rendered so placable as to require no other sacrifice for the sins of any man, content with this only most perfect one, and that for the reconciliation of men there be no need of any other satisfaction, any other merit for them, provided (what in remedies must be done) there be an application of this common and salutary medicine. If this redemption is not supposed to be a common blessing bestowed on all men, the indiscriminate and promiscuous preaching of the gospel, committed to the apostles to be exercised among all nations, will have no foundation in truth. But since we abhor to say this, it ought to be seen to how their assertions agree with the most known and lucid principles, who unqualifiedly deny that Christ died for all. Nor here will it be enough to assert such a sufficiency of redemption *as could be enough*; but it is altogether such as is enough, and such as God and Christ have considered enough. For otherwise the gospel command and promise are destroyed. For how from a benefit, sufficient indeed, but not designed for me by a sincere intention, can the necessity of believing that it belongs to me be deduced?

  10. Flynn permalink*
    September 2, 2011 11:38 am

    A closing points:

    I think Hays, and co, are ignoring this dimension (that it is a lying offer) by hiding the problem in a bare abstracted conditional proposition, wherein they attempt to establish the sincerity of that bare conditional by way of a trans-world validation.

  11. Flynn permalink*
    September 2, 2011 1:23 pm

    Okay I mean it this time, last thoughts.

    To go back to this analogy. I will tweak it just a little bit:

    Christ is a remedy, but of such a design that it can only work for John. God could have designed it to be a remedy for John and for Peter, and of anyone else. In this sense, the remedy has infinite potential: It could have been designed to be applicable to every man who has lived, lives and shall live.

    However, in this actual world, he didn’t design it to be applicable to everyone. In this world, it is a remedy made only for John. It is applicable only to John. In this world, if the remedy, Christ, is offered to Peter, it would be a lie. Were God to offer Christ too Peter as a remedy saying, “ Here is a cure for you, if you receive this remedy, you will be cured” it would be a lie and in this sense, untrue.

    Building on what you and Tony have said, the questions would be, “What is Peter actually being asked to believe? What is Peter actually being asked to believe in? or upon?

    God cannot be asking Peter to believe in,or to trust upon, or to rely on, Christ, as cure for John? Impossible. Nor can God be seriously asking Peter to simply trust upon a mechanism… as you say, “how to take it” or the means, as I have put it. That would mean that a mechanism of obtaining salvation expressed propositionally would be the object of Peter’s faith.

    These points alone should be enough to demonstrate the inadequacy of the ‘limited expiation-limited imputation of sin’ of Christ’s satisfaction; and especially more so as it is mediated through the filter of a non-offer offer.

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