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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?

Dort:

Conclusion:3

The famous, but not so well known, Eodem Modo (in the same manner) clause of Dort:

And this is the perspicuous, simple, and ingenuous declaration of the orthodox doctrine respecting the five articles which have been controverted in the Belgic Churches; and the rejection of the errors, with which they have for some time been troubled. This doctrine the Synod judges to be drawn from the Word of God, and to be agreeable to the confession of the Reformed Churches. Whence it clearly appears that some, whom such conduct by no means became, have violated all truth, equity, and charity, in wishing to persuade the public:

That the doctrine of the Reformed Churches concerning predestination, and the points annexed to it, by its own genius and necessary tendency, leads off the minds of men from all piety and religion; that it is an opiate administered by the flesh and the devil; and the stronghold of Satan, where he lies in wait for all, and from which he wounds multitudes, and mortally strikes through many with the darts both of despair and security; that it makes God the author of sin, unjust, tyrannical, hypocritical; that it is nothing more than an interpolated Stoicism, Manicheism, Libertinism, Turcism; that it renders men carnally secure, since they are persuaded by it that nothing can hinder the salvation of the elect, let them live as they please; and, therefore, that they may safely perpetrate every species of the most atrocious crimes; and that, if the reprobate should even perform truly all the works of the saints, their obedience would not in the least contribute to their salvation; that the same doctrine teaches that God, by a mere arbitrary act of his will, without the least respect or view to any sin, has predestinated the greatest part of the world to eternal damnation, and has created them for this very purpose; that in the same manner in which the election is the fountain and cause of faith and good works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief and impiety; that many children of the faithful are torn, guiltless, from their mothers’ breasts, and tyrannically plunged into hell: so that neither baptism nor the prayers of the Church at their baptism can at all profit them; and many other things of the same kind which the Reformed Churches not only do not acknowledge, but even detest with their whole soul.4

Secondly, the problem is that in standard hypercalvinist fashion, Hays has disconnected the divine desire for compliance to his commands from the command itself. Thus, God can command a man do something, but in no way desire that the man comply with the command. Indeed, it is God’s unalloyed desire that the man not comply with the command. If Hays were to say this scenario only applies to Pharaoh and not to the non-elect as a class, that would be absurd. For clearly, all that Hays charges on the point of Pharaoh must be equally applicable to the circumstances of the non-elect in relation to God’s decree. Hays has, as a hypercalvinist, thrown the revealed will under the bus. Let’s lay down the orthodox Reformed response to this to show how Hays has well and truly abandoned Reformed orthodoxy on this point.

Van Mastricht:

MASTRlCHT (II, xiv, 8) divides the will of God into legislative, by which He wills and determines what we ought to do or, not to do de iure only, but not de evientu; and decretive, by which He wills and determines what He Himself wills to do or what is or is not to be de facto only, but not what should or should not be done de iure. In this way God wills many things by legislative will, which actually do not come to pass, e.g., He willed that Pharaoh should let Israel go de iure, i.e., He willed ths to be Pharaoh’s duty, but He did not will it de facto. On the other hand He wills many things to be done de facto, e.g., all the sins that are committed, which He does not will de iure or as our duty. Consequently we answer the objections thus: that He wills not the death of the sinner by legislative will, so far as He seriously wills that there be an individual connection between the conversion of the sinner and his salvation. Whence He seriously invites certain men to conversion and to those who do seriously convert He promises life; although at the same time He does not will it by His discerning will, or although He has not decreed from eternity to confer faith and repentance by grace upon all. sinners and so actually to save them.”5

We can see here that Van Mastricht, who cannot be thought of as not representing Reformed orthodoxy on this point, held that God by will of decree, decreed that Pharaoh would not comply with the command [and this not cannot be by any active immediate causation or deprivation on God’s part], but by revealed will, seriously willed that Pharaoh comply with the command.

Now we are in a position to make good and necessary inferences regarding true Reformed orthodoxy. Here now will come some extensive secondary source quotations from impeccable Reformed sources.

1) John Calvin (1509-1564):

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. John Calvin, Secret Providence, trans., by James Lillie, Article 7, John Calvin’s reply.

2) “It would seem, at first sight, that what is said here might be without apparent reason. It is true God always knows why he commands or forbids men to do what pleases or displeases him, but we are not always informed of it.” Calvin, Sermons on Genesis, Sermon 10, Gen 2:15-17, p., 164.

3) Johannes Wollebius (1586-1629):

“Just as the edicts of a magistrate are called his will, so the designation of will may be given to precepts, prohibitions, promises, and even deeds and events. Thus the divine will is also called that which God wants done [voluntas signi], because it signifies what is acceptable to God; what he wants done by us. It is called “consequent” because it follows that eternal antecedent; “conditional” because the commandments, prohibitions, warnings, and promises of God all have a condition of obedience or disobedience attached to them. Finally, it is called “revealed,” because it is always explained in the word of God. It must be observed that this sort of distinction does not postulate either really diverse, or contradictory, wills in God.” Johannes Wollebius, “The Compendium Theologiae Christianae” in Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977), 48.

4) Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583):

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.

Comments found in Heinrich Heppe’s Reformed Dogmatics:

5) 25.- The will of God directed to the world is by many distinguished as voluntas beneplaciti and voluntas signi, in the sense that it is voluntas beneplaciti by which He wills us to be saved and we understand what He has established with Himself concerning our salvation from eternity.–It is (voluntas) signi by which He requires the things which we ought to supply (SEEGEDIN, p. 23).

Many dogmaticians approve the distinction between voluntas signi and voluntas beneplacti; POLANUS (II, 19): “It is called voluntas signi, because it signifies what is pleasing to God, what belongs to our duty, what He wishes to be done or omitted by us, etc.” These “signa voluntatis, from which it is known what God wills”, are “precept, prohibition, permission, counsel, and the fulfilment of predictions.”

…Similarly WALAEUS, p. i 7 I: “A famous distinction of great importance and use, employed by the Scholastics and also accepted by ours, is the division into voluntas signni et beneplaciti“; and HOTTINGER, who (p. 80) explains that “the distinction of will into that which is of sign and that which is of good pleasure is convenient. It is confirmed by famous sayings of H. Scripture, Dt. 29. 29 (the secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law); Tobit 12, 14; 18 (not of any favour of mine (the angel Raphael) but by the will of our God I came: wherefore bless Him for ever)”. HOTTINGER identifies this distinction with the difference between voluntas revelata and voluntas arcana. For he continues “Voluntas signi is sometimes called revelala, voluntas heneplaciti arcana“. Then he says that by this distinction is expressed merely the difference between voluntas praecipiens and voluntas decernens. In this latter sense the distinction is also used by BRAUN (I, II, 3, 18): “It is also divided into voluntas heneplaciti et voluntas signi. By others rather into voluntas praecepti; which division seems more convenient.

Voluntas signi (or praecepti) is that will by which God signifies to men what He wishes to be done by them; voluntas beneplaciti or decreti, by which God has decreed what He wishes to do in man, e.g., God wills, voluntate signi vel praecepti, that parents should provide all things for their children which are necessary for long life, although He has perhaps decreed voluntate beneplaciti et decreti, that the children should die suddenly. So God willed voluntate signi et praecepti that Abraham should gird himself to sacrifice his son Isaac, although voluntate decreti et beneplaciti He willed to preserve him in life.

…BRAUN continues (19): “Yet if we would speak correctly, it is certain that no will can be called voluntas signi. Rather by a universal order we must say that it is the sign of an approving will. All injunctions, promises and threats are but signs of God’s will, i.e., of what God wishes to be done by us, but not of what He has decreed. Nor are there different wills. Every will is strictly speaking voluntas beneplaciti. When God enjoins, approves, promises and threatens, this is always done in terms of His beneplacitum. Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), 85-86.

6) To meet the Arminian reproach that by such a distinction two voluntates sibi contrariae are assumed 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.

7) Reformed dogmaticians as a whole are occupied with the question, whether goodness is good because God wills it, or whether God wills the good because it is good. Recognition of the absoluteness of God seemed to many reconcilable with the former. Hence, e.g., POLAN (II, 26) says: “(i) God does, what by His own law He prohibits us; He passed the law for us, not for Himself. E.g., He does not bring it about that we admit no sin while living here, though He might most easily have done SO.-(2) The supreme rule of divine righteousness is His most perfect and infallible will God is a law to Himself. Whatever He wishes done, it is right by the very fact that He wills it. Source: Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), 93-94.

8) 5–”The decree of God is the inward act of the divine will, by which from eternity He has most freely and most surely decreed concerning the things which had to be made in time” (WOLLEB 17).–Other definitions: v. TIL (4, De decret. Dei, p. 61): “God’s decree is our name for God’s eternal and immutable purpose to manifest His glory in things possible¡. concerning which, according to His Infinite wisdom and most free eudokia, He has determined both what He wished to be done or not to be done in time, both in setting up natures and also in appointing their futurition”. –PICTET (III, i, 2): “By the decree we understand the firm and unchangeable purpose in God’s mind concerning what He was to make in time or to allow”.–HOTTINGER, p. 73: “The decree is God’s inward action or His eternal counsel anent things to come into being outwith Himself, which things He foreknows with an infallibility equal to the immutability with which He has predetermined them.” Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), 137-138.

Francis Turretin (1623-1687):

9) XXVI. Purely personal sins differ from those which are and public. The former should not be imputed posterity. Of them, the law must be understood: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Dt. 24:16). However nothing prevents the latter from being imputed, and such was the sin of Adam. (2) The law imposed upon men differs from the law to which God binds himself. Barriers are placed to human vengeance because it might be abused, but not to divine justice. In this passage, God undoubtedly shows what he wishes to be done ordinarily by men, but not immediately what he wishes [Lat.: velit] to do or what he can do from the order of justice. Otherwise he could not have said in the law that he would visit the iniquities of parents upon their children, nor would he have confirmed this by many examples. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1994), 1:624.

10) XVI. It is one thing to will reprobates to come (i.e., to command them to come and to desire it); another to will they should not come (i.e., to nill the giving them the power to come). God can in calling them will the former and yet not the latter without any contrariety because the former respects only the will of precept, while the latter respects the will of decree. Although these are diverse (because they propose diverse objects to themselves, the former the commanding of duty, but the latter the execution of the thing itself), still they are not opposite and contrary, but are in the highest degree consistent with each other in various respects. He does not seriously call who does not will the called to come (i.e., who does not command nor is pleased with his coming). But not he who does not will him to come whither he calls (i.e., did not intend and decree to come). For a serious call does not require that there should be an intention and purpose of drawing him, but only that there should be a constant will of commanding duty and bestowing the blessing upon him who performs it (which God most seriously wills). But if he seriously make known what he enjoins upon the man and what is the way of salvation and what is agreeable to himself, God does not forthwith make known what he himself intended and decreed to do. Nor, if among men, a prince or a legislator commands nothing which he does not will (i.e., does not intend should also be done by his subjects because he has not the power of effecting this in them), does it follow that such is the case with God, upon whom alone it depends not only to command but also to effect this in man. But if such a legislator could be granted among men, he would rightly be said to will that which he approves and commands, although he does not intend to effect it. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1994) 2:507-508.

11) XXI. The invitation to the wedding proposed in the parable (Mt. 22:1-14) teaches that the king wills (i.e., commands and desires) the invited to come and that this is their duty; but not that the king intends or has decreed that they should really come. Otherwise he would have given them the ability to come and would have turned their hearts. Since he did not do this, it is the surest sign that he did not will they should come in this way. When it is said “all things are ready” (Lk. 14:17), it is not straightway intimated an intention of God to give salvation to them, but only the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. For he was prepared by God and offered on the cross as a victim of infinite merit to expiate the sins of men and to acquire salvation for all clothed in the wedding garment and flying to him (i.e., to the truly believing and repenting) that no place for doubting about the truth and perfection of his satisfaction might remain. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1994) 2:509.

Hermann Venema (1697-1787):

12) (2) God wishes his laws to be obeyed, and therefore wishes also his creatures to be incited in every way to the keeping of them. This purpose is greatly served by the prospect of rewards. But justice loves and demands these rewards. Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., by Alex W. Brown, (Andover: W.F. Draper Brothers, 1853), 172.

William Cunningham (1805-1861):

13) Many of the events that take place,–such as the sinful actions of men,–are opposed to, or inconsistent with, His will as revealed in His law, which is an undoubted indication of what He wished or desired that men should do. William Cunningham, Historical Theology (Banner of Truth, 1994), 2:452.

Thomas J. Crawford:

14) Now, without pretending that we are able to give a satisfactory answer to this question, we are not prepared to admit, what the question evidently assumes, that God can have no sincere desire with reference to the conduct of all His creatures, if it be His purpose to secure on the part of some, and not on the part of all of them, the fulfillment of this desire. For how does the case stand in this respect with His commandments? These, no less than His invitations, are addressed to all. Both are alike to be considered as indications of what He desires and requires to be done by all. Nor are there wanting, with reference to His commandments, testimonies quite as significant as any which are to be found’ with reference to His invitations, of the earnestness and intensity of His desire that the course which they prescribe should be adopted by all who hear them. Take, for example, these tender expostulations: “O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” [Deut.v, 29.]. “O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!” [Ps. lxxxi. 13.]. “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments; then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the wav& of the sea!” [Isa. xlviii. 18.]. Thomas J. Crawford, The Mysteries of Christianity (Edinburgh: William Blackward & Sons, 1874), 351-352. [Italics Crawford’s, underlining mine.]

John L. Dagg (1794–1884):

15) Closely allied to the last signification, and perhaps included in it, is that use of the term will, in which it denotes command, requirement. When the person, whose desire or pleasure it is that an action should be performed by another, has authority over that other, the desire expressed assumes the character of precept. The expressed will of a suppliant, is petition; the expressed will of a ruler, is command. What we know that it is the pleasure of God we should do, it is our duty to do, and his pleasure made known to us becomes a law. J.L. Dagg, Manual of Theology and Church Order, (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1982), 100.

And if we apply this Reformed principle to the offer of the Gospel, who could ignore Berhof:

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, 8.6

I wish Hays would direct all his “emotions” regarding my claim that an ill-meant offer to the NDF makes God a monster, toward Berkhof as well. Be consistent Steve. Be Honest.

So to conclude this section.

In orthodox Reformed theology, God desires that men comply with the divine commands. As soon as Hays goes down the road of denying that God desires compliance to his commands, he has exited Reformed orthodoxy on these points.

Issue 2) The second core point which indicates that Hays has departed orthodoxy also shows he has abandoned common sense and the Reformed doctrine of the offer and call of the Gospel.

It would only be a “sham” offer if God is unable or unwilling to make good on the offer. But as I’ve explained repeatedly, that’s not the case….

To begin with, it’s not as though God is making an offer to anyone in particular. Rather, God has a general command or offer for7 the consideration of the redeemed and the unredeemed alike. For instance:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9).8

Lets start with the last.

Firstly, Romans 10:9 is not a command. It is an indicative statement. It is a statement in conditional form. Secondly, Romans 10:9 is not an offer, as it is not even in the vocative case, notwithstanding Hays’ assertion that it is an “instance” of such an offer or a command. Thirdly, Hays reduces both the commands to repent and the offer of salvation to nothing but good advice presented as a statement for their consideration, and this to two non-specific people-groups. We have come back to the point that Hypercalvinists mutate the gospel offer into a presentation of statements.9 Further, we know that with respect to the NDF, such conditional statements are false, given the counter-factual condition that Christ has not sustained a penal provision whereby God, for his part, may save the NDF. Hays is just moving around in a big vicious circle. Fourthly, as God now only offers statements, so faith can only be assent to such statements. We are right back into Sandemanianism. And so even here, Hays has departed from Reformed orthodoxy.

Now to the first part. Hays has asserted that God is not making an offer anyone in particular. Hays’ counter here is patently absurd. This is just an embarrassment. This is so absurd that he has reached a new level that I have never seen any hypercalvinist reach to in all my years of interaction with hypercalvinists.10 God issues forth a conditional statement to two amorphous people-groups, but to no one in particular, offering to these two undifferentiated masses conditional statements, for them to consider! This has to be a joke?

So what is Steve’s answer to my question “What is God offering the NDF?”, Steve replies, ‘he is not offering them anything, as he is not making an offer to any particular NDF at all.’11

Again, for emphasis, for Hays, God is not offering salvation to anyone in particular.

Again, representatives of Reformed orthodoxy:

5) We beseech you, in the name of all the glorious Trinity, to grant our demands. We are ambassadors for Christ, and God doth beseech you by us. God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, do all join in the supplication. Never were there such three names at a supplication, never such three hands at a petition. O sinners! what hearts have ye, if ye can refuse the desire, the supplication, the entreaties of a whole Trinity? All the love of the Father, all the grace of the Son, and all the blessings that are enjoyed by communion with the Holy Ghost, all plead with you for your compliance. Can ye refuse us, then, O sinners, O rocks, O hearts harder than rocks?12

a’ Brakel:

The true means whereby we are called, however, is the gospel. “Whereunto He called you by our gospel” (2 Th. 2:14). The word “gospel” means a good tiding, the content of which is as follows: “Poor man, you are subject to sin and to the wrath of God. You are traversing upon the way which will end in eternal perdition. God, however, has sent His Son Jesus Christ to be a Surety; in His suffering and death there is the perfect satisfaction of the justice of God, and thus acquittal from guilt and punishment. In His obedience to the law there is perfect holiness, so that He can completely save all who go unto God through Him. Christ offers you all His merits, and therefore eternal salvation. He calls and invites everyone: “Turn unto Me and be saved, receive Me, surrender to Me, enter into a covenant with Me and you will not perish but have everlasting life.” This declaration is recorded in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. The first gospel declaration is found in Genesis 3:15, where we read that the Seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent. Since then, God has frequently and in various ways caused the gospel to be proclaimed (Heb. 1:l). “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them” (Heb. 4:2).

And:

Secondly, everyone who is under the ministry of the gospel hears the voice of the minister as he preaches, exhorts, and rebukes. It is thus addressed to him who hears it. The minister is a servant of Christ, a “steward of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1), and an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Therefore he who hears the minister hears Christ, and he who rejects the minister rejects Him (Luke 10:16). Consider also that the very words of God Himself are contained in Scripture. Since, therefore, everyone hears the voice of the minister and the very words of God resound in his ears, all that is said is addressed to him who hears it and he is called by the gospel.

Thirdly, Scripture states clearly that many who perish had been called. “. ..many be called, but few chosen” (Mat. 20:16); “. . .and (he) bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse” (Luke 14:16-18); “And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come” (Mat. 22:3). Had the guest without the wedding garment been invited? He most certainly was. It was not his crime that he did not come, but rather that he came in the wrong way, that is, without a wedding garment. It is thus evident that everyone who is under the ministry is called and invited to come to Christ.13

The Larger Catechism:

LC:

Q32: How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

A32: The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God,and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.

Q63: What are the special privileges of the visible church?

A63: The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, not withstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

Q68: Are the elect only effectually called?

A68: All the elect, and they only, are effectually called; although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.

There is just so much more I could present to Hays. The idea that God does offers salvation to no one in particular should be seen by all impartial parties as self-evidently absurd. I cannot believe that reasonable well-meant offer and orthodox Calvinists will buy into this absurdity.

Issue 3) To my latest attempt to state the question in a different way with the view to make things even clearer to Hays, which can be found here , Hays retorts:

And we could pose a parallel question: on the factual suppositions that Judas didn’t believe and that he wasn’t elect, regenerate, or redeemed, how can God, for his part, make a sincere offer to Judas?14

So what is the point? It reminds me of a chess game I had with a fellow student in the chess club back in high school. I had check-mated him. His response was to check-mate me back. In his mind, that was a valid move. Over and over we argued the point, even calling in the club supervisor. My opponent’s final response was to pick up the board and throw it across the table. Hays’ response is no different. However, in the case, I am not check-mated.

Clearly I think I can account for such “defeaters” on the terms of my system. But can Hays counter my defeater to him on the terms of his system? No. We have seen that time and time again.

So let me cite someone Hays should respect. On April 27, 2007, Greg Welty had a conversation with Tony Byrne. In the back-and-forth, Welty tabled some interesting acknowledgments:

Tony had said:

Just because there is a divine purpose to leave the non-elect in their sins everlastingly, it doesn’t follow that God never, at any point, wanted their compliance to what he commanded…. He is not insincere in giving His gospel offer to the non-elect because it’s still true that He wills their life, according to the revealed or preceptive will of God…. [The] existence of a secret will does not diminish the existence of the revealed will.

To which Greg Welty replied:

I entirely agree with all of this.15

He then added:

[This] is the issue you’re going to have to mull over in your forthcoming reply…. notice that what ensures the sincerity of the free offer is, for you, the same in all three assertions above. As long as God “wants compliance to what he commanded–that is, as long as we affirm “the revealed or preceptive will of God”–then that is sufficient for sincerity.16

Clearly Welty is moving in the right direction. And in going this far, he has concurring with classic high Calvinism’s well-meant offer in the Reformed tradition. However, now Hays is not even on the same page as Welty.17 Welty’s point correctly defeats the Arminian objection that preterition and innate depravity void the sincerity of the free offer.

However, what we are saying to fellow Calvinists like Welty, is that he, along with other Calvinists in his tradition, needs to also keep moving just a little bit further along with this, in order to defeat the third Arminian objection that a limited satisfaction for the sins of the elect alone, likewise, voids the sincerity of the free offer. And to do that, we must show evangelical Calvinists that they do, indeed, have a problem here which they must face squarely.

And now to Manata’s comment:

So here’s the upshot: Ponter can’t offer necessary and sufficient conditions for what counts as a sincere offer. Therefore, he cannot properly demarcate an insincere offer from a sincere one.

I don’t need to. That is just a red-herring. All I need to show is a single condition which falsifies the (alleged) sincerity of an offer. This should not be rocket science.

What is the single condition that falsifies the purported sincerity of an offer? If you don’t have it, and you know you don’t have it, then you can’t sincerely offer it. God knows he has no provision of salvation FOR the NDF, so he cannot sincerely offer a provision for salvation TO the NDF. He has nothing to offer the NDF, so any pretense of offering salvation is just that, a pretense. Sincerity is indexed to at least this, having in your possession the thing you are offering, or setting forth, or presenting, or tendering, etc etc. I do not know how many ways or times I have to state this. The issue is all about God’s sincerity, for his part, in tendering the offer, not his ability to save the person who actually does come. Even and evangelical Arminian would agree with that God is able to save all who actually come to him.

This problem needs to be faced with honesty and integrity, not with evasion and duplicity.

To wrap this up.

With that I am done.  As I have said, my intent was to converse with fellow evangelical Calvinists. Hays and Manata are more then welcome to have the last word, over and over and over and over, if necessary. For my part, however, this is my final response. I sincerely hope that Hays arrives at some “clarifying moment” wherein he realizes that he has been approaching this topic and us dishonestly and insincerely, and that he sees his way clear out of the maze of hypercalvinist thinking.

David

______________________

1 Notice, I say on these points. I am making no direct judgement regarding his theology on other issues.

2 http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/09/byrne-baby-byrne.html

3 As I always recommend, the reader should read the underlined section as a complete sentence.

4 http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=283; Emphasis mine.

5 Cited from Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1978), 89. [Italics original and underlining mine.] For all secondary source quotations in this essay, all underlining is mine.

6 Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 462.

7 Emphasis for “to” and “for” original.

8 http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/09/byrne-baby-byrne.html; Emphasis mine.

9 See Iain Murray and A.C. de Jong’s perceptive comments here: http://www.theologyonline.org/blog/?p=1266.

10 That is about 15+ years now.

11 Just in case he misses my intent, as I feel I need to lead Steve by the hand by pointing that in English, when a sentence is inclosed by single inverted commas or quotation marks, it signifies a paraphrase.

12 Thomas Halyburton, The Great Concern of Salvation, (Philadelphia: Printed by William Marshall, 1801), 280-281. http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=6756.

13 http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=2420

14 http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/09/snared-in-his-own-net.html

15 Emphasis mine.

16http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2007/04/sincerity-of-gospel-offer-consistent_27.html; Emphasis mine. Welty goes on to say,

But, presumably, the advocate of Owenic limited atonement can believe in this divine “want” or “revealed will” as well. There’s nothing in the Owenic version of limited atonement that excludes it (as far as I can tell). So what’s sufficient grounding for you is sufficient grounding for them. Thus, if this particular grounding of the free offer works, it works for all.

This last point is the very core of our response and challenge. However, for Hays above, I only need to draw attention to the solution that Welty offers to the first “problem.”

17 Of course, I say this with the qualifier that Welty may have retracted these ideas since expressing them in 2007.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 30, 2011 9:52 am

    Notice the connection between “sincerity,” “God’s offer,” and “God’s commandments,” even “to the non-elect” in the words of Iain Murray:

    “Finally, we can observe that the sincerity of God’s offer even to the non-elect is in accordance with the truth that God does desire, delight and approve of things which, for other reasons, He has not determined to carry into effect. This distinction can be illustrated from God’s commandments. His commandments express what He desires should be done.” Iain H. Murray, “The Free Offer of the Gospel: Viewed in the Light of the Marrow Controversy,” Banner of Truth 11 (June 1958), 13–14.

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