Hyper-Calvinism and Charismatic overlap

Discussion in 'Pneumatology' started by timfost, Apr 11, 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    By the Arminian doctrine of universal love there is no salvation offered in the gospel. There is the possibility of salvation but not actual salvation. If a Calvinist chooses to make this the basis on which salvation is offered to the sinner he alters the nature of the Calvinist system whether he likes to admit it or not. Yes, there is a general love, but it is non-salvific. It forms no basis for the gospel offer.

    Mute? :)

    "Hyper" stands in relation to "Calvinist." If one agrees on "Calvinism" it should be an easy thing to agree on what constitutes an "hyper" form of it.

    As already stated, by making it the basis of the gospel offer of salvation and by rendering it ineffectual. God is good and doeth good. Holy Scripture teaches no such idea as ineffectual divine goodness. The only basis for sinful men to receive and rest upon Christ for salvation depends on the fact that God is effectually good, that He has mercy on whom He will have mercy.

    Including "compassion." "Compassion" is an anthropopathic term. Benevolence (good will) speaks properly and in accord with the spiritual and simple nature of God.
  2. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    1. You said: "Yes, there is a general love, but it is non-salvific. It forms no basis for the gospel offer."

    Phil Johnson maintained that the universal love of God is not salvific. I believe you are imposing this on the article. However, general love is related to the universal call or offer of the gospel. I would say the basis of the universal offer of Christ is in the sufficiency (value) of Christ's work, which is a demonstration of His love.

    Canons of Dort (2nd head, article 6):

    "And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves."

    Calvin Institutes, 3.24.2

    "When he first shines with the light of his word on the undeserving, he gives a sufficiently clear proof of his free goodness. Here, therefore, boundless goodness is displayed, but not so as to bring all to salvation, since a heavier judgment awaits the reprobate for rejecting the evidence of his love."

    2. You said: ""Hyper" stands in relation to "Calvinist." If one agrees on "Calvinism" it should be an easy thing to agree on what constitutes an "hyper" form of it."

    Do all of the Reformed agree on every doctrine that they individually call reformed? If there is not unanimous consensus among Calvinists, there can also not be unanimous consensus on hyper-Calvinism. Your comparison only works based on the assumption that all Calvinists agree on all the points of doctrine.

    3. Could you please provide an example of "ineffectual goodness"? You completely lost me on this one...

    4. If the scriptures countless times say that God is compassionate and you say He is not because of anthropomorphism, I think you've abused anthropomorphism and have not made a proper Creator/creature distinction. If you apply compassion only to His dealings with the elect, than you would admit that God has passions if indeed "compassionate" necessitates "passion."

    Please let me know if you think that I've misunderstood your meaning on any of these points. My answers are simply based on my interpretations of your writings.
  3. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    On the Arminian foundation of universal love it is only natural that one would build the Arminian structure of universal salvation. This salvation is limited to "sufficiency," but sufficiency saves nobody. The next step will be an avowal that freewill is the decisive factor. In taking this step the option is open to adopt the Amyraldian perspective of double decrees and two ways of salvation. Whatever path is taken, it is not Calvinist. In the Calvinist view salvation is an accomplished fact. The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, not the bare possibility of salvation. If the gospel offered the bare possibility of salvation the quotations from Dort and Calvin would make no sense. Those quotations only make sense if the goodness of God is manifest in the offer of actual salvation, not salvability.

    The Reformed agree on what constitutes the doctrines of grace. Dort and Westminster provide clear affirmations of this consensus. Hyper-Calvinism extends certain points beyond the limits of this consensus and does so to the detriment of other important points; and again, Dort and Westminster are quite clear that these are errors.

    Unfulfilled desires of goodness is "ineffectual goodness." A mercy that does not show mercy is ineffectual goodness. "His mercy endureth forever" is a fundamental commitment of worship. A mercy which fails cannot issue in praise and is therefore unworthy of God.

    Let's apply this to another anthropomorphism like "repent." Using your formula, "If the scriptures countless times say that God repents and you say He does not because of anthropomorphism, I think you've abused anthropomorphism and have not made a proper Creator/creature distinction." An argument that does not hold for one is not going to hold for another.

    As the recipients are men, the effect of benevolence takes the form of compassion as they know it; but the passion as felt by men is not in God Himself. Hence the propriety of using benevolence when speaking of God, and understanding compassion as God speaking after the manner of men.
  4. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior


    Thanks again for your reply. I appreciate your time and your challenge. I think it would be helpful to note that we can and should strive to know how God works and how He deals with His creation. Certainly, we are trying to understand Someone who is infinite and incomprehensible to the finite mind. Certainly we have Holy Scripture, the revealed Word of God. However, at the end of the day, we should stand back in awe when we consider the condescension of God and that He should consider people like us. I hope that this conversation is glorifying to God and results in knowing Him better. I know I still have a lot to learn. However, I'm going to make an attempt to reply to some of your responses according to where I am at right now in my understanding.

    1. You said: "On the Arminian foundation of universal love it is only natural that one would build the Arminian structure of universal salvation. This salvation is limited to "sufficiency," but sufficiency saves nobody. The next step will be an avowal that freewill is the decisive factor. In taking this step the option is open to adopt the Amyraldian perspective of double decrees and two ways of salvation. Whatever path is taken, it is not Calvinist."

    I fully agree! There is nothing encouraging about the Arminian doctrine when we consider our depravity. If Christ only sufficiently paid the price for sin but did not apply it to anyone effectually, no one would be saved. The redemptive love purposed in election should be one of the most comforting doctrines to believers! I also agree, when we do not speak about the efficacy of Christ's death and His purposes, we open the door to other false doctrines like Amyraldianism. Arminianism seeks to place the power of regeneration upon the dead sinner. Amyraldianism makes the error of ordering God's decrees and purposes in a way that imposes time/succession of events on God and confuses His eternal purposes.

    2. You said: " If the gospel offered the bare possibility of salvation the quotations from Dort and Calvin would make no sense. Those quotations only make sense if the goodness of God is manifest in the offer of actual salvation, not salvability."

    Dort and Calvin were both dealing with the sin of rejection, placing the fault of damnation on the person who did not receive the gospel offer. I think you are confusing effectual calling and the free offer. There is a real sense that Scripture speaks of hypotheticals (see Num. 20:12, Deut. 28:45-47, 32:51, 1 Sam. 28:18, Ezek. 16:43, Luke 1:20, etc.). This in no way denies God’s inviolable decree, but emphasises human responsibility and consequence according to second causes. Admittedly, I don’t know how to reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but Deut. 29:29 tells me it’s not mine to reconcile. In light of this, consider John 3:18:

    “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    The “because” does in a sense promote “salvability” hypothetically since the promises of God are good. However, this in no way embodies the Amyraldian error of “hypothetical universalism” which is a different thing entirely. (See also 2 Thes. 2:10.)

    Concerning “actual salvation, not salvability,” the offer is not designed to invite people to actual salvation, since even the elect are not “actually” saved until faith and repentance, unless we are advocating eternal justification. The gospel offer goes out to sinners indiscriminately, not telling them that God may have actually saved them, but offering salvation on the condition of faith and repentance. Hyper-Calvinists do make the error of synthesizing the effectual call with the gospel offer/call. (In no way am I making an accusation that you are a hyper-Calvinist.)

    3. You said: “Unfulfilled desires of goodness is "ineffectual goodness." A mercy that does not show mercy is ineffectual goodness. "His mercy endureth forever" is a fundamental commitment of worship. A mercy which fails cannot issue in praise and is therefore unworthy of God.”

    I’m still not sure if I fully follow you on this, but I would offer the following text:

    “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart…” (Rom. 2:4-5a)

    God’s goodness should lead everyone to repentance. Steven makes the accusation that “you always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts. 7:51). Such goodness is not unto someone’s actual salvation, but certainly should be. Is this ineffectual goodness?

    4. You said: “Let's apply this to another anthropomorphism like "repent." Using your formula, "If the scriptures countless times say that God repents and you say He does not because of anthropomorphism, I think you've abused anthropomorphism and have not made a proper Creator/creature distinction." An argument that does not hold for one is not going to hold for another.”

    It seems to me that you are trying to conform God to the confines of your own reason. Certainly, God decrees all things. Nothing is outside of it. If He is angry with sin, it is because He wills to be so. God is not acted upon and then reactive. However, Scripture does speak of desire in God that goes unfulfilled (Hos. 6:6). Certainly God did not repent of sin, but He turned from His course as it were. Again, it didn’t take Him off guard. We also see His pity when Christ laments over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39). When Christ asked the Father to remove the cup prior to the crucifixion, can we say that He did not desire to be crucified? I would propose that there is more in God because He is infinite and incomprehensible than we can rationalize according to finite, fallen reason. I would rather stand back in awe and worship than force God into my system.


    “It cannot be denied that the Calvinist here faces a paradox. Significantly, he has no interest in denying the paradox, if only the term paradox be given its proper content. Not for a moment does he subscribe to the implied tenet of the dialectical theology that truth is irrational. He does not admit that the Reformed doctrine of the particular design of the atonement and the Reformed doctrine of the universal and sincere offer of salvation actually contradict each other, but he readily grants that there is a seeming contradiction here which he is unable to reason away. Like the truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility, he regards also these two truths as parallel Scriptural lines which, so far as human eye can see and human reason can understand, never meet, but which do actually meet in the infinite God. He subjects human logic to the divine logos. Realizing that human reason is inherently finite and, after the fall, extremely fallible, he subjects it to the infallible Word of God. And finding there, as he does, both the doctrine of the particular design of the atonement and the doctrine of the universal and sincere offer of the gospel taught with unmistakable clarity, he bows his head in humble adoration and… accepts both.”
    -R. B. Kuiper

    “He confirms the same sentiment in other words, that God desires nothing more earnestly than that those who were perishing and rushing to destruction should return into the way of safety. And for this reason not only is the Gospel spread abroad in the world, but God wished to bear witness through all ages how inclined he is to pity… And this is the knowledge of salvation, to embrace his mercy which he offers us in Christ. It follows, then, that what the Prophet now says is very true, that God wills not the death of a sinner, because he meets him of his own accord, and is not only prepared to receive all who fly to his pity, but he calls them towards him with a loud voice, when he sees how they are alienated from all hope of safety. But the manner must be noticed in which God wishes all to be saved, namely, when they turn themselves from their ways… How, then, does God wish all men to be saved? By the Spirit’s condemning the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, at this day, by the Gospel, as he did formerly by the law and the prophets. (John xvi. 8.) God makes manifest to mankind their great misery, that they may betake themselves to him: he wounds that he may cure, and slays that he may give life. We hold, then, that God wills not the death of a sinner, since he calls all equally to repentance, and promises himself prepared to receive them if they only seriously repent. If any one should object-- then there is no election of God, by which he has predestinated a fixed number to salvation, the answer is at hand: the Prophet does not here speak of God’s secret counsel, but only recalls miserable men from despair, that they may apprehend the hope of pardon, and repent and embrace the offered salvation. If any one again objects-- this is making God act with duplicity, the answer is ready, that God always wishes the same thing, though by different ways, and in a manner inscrutable to us. Although, therefore, God’s will is simple, yet great variety is involved in it, as far as our senses are concerned. Besides, it is not surprising that our eyes should be blinded by intense light, so that we cannot certainly judge how God wishes all to be saved, and yet has devoted all the reprobate to eternal destruction, and wishes them to perish.”
    -Calvin, Commentary on Ez. 18:23

    “To seek to present the Christian position as rationally explicable in the sense of being comprehensible to the mind of man is to defeat our own purposes. To do so we must adopt the standard of reasoning of our opponent, and when we have accepted the standard of reasoning of our opponent, we must rest content with the idea of a finite God.”
    -Van Til
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
  5. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Then hopefully we can agree that "general non-saving love" and "sufficiency for all" is not the object of faith for a perishing sinner. The gospel calls upon the sinner to believe in redeeming love and an efficacious salvation. Salvability is not the offer of the gospel. "Universal love" and "universal salvation" are mere words without power. They have nothing to offer the sinner.

    Effectual calling pertains to the elect alone. The free offer is made to sinners "indefinitely." I do not confuse them. Your linked article confuses them by maintaining that the free offer is made to the "non-elect." By bringing "election" into the offer two things are brought into contradiction which were in perfect harmony before.

    As soon as you credit hypotheticals and counter-factuals to God's will you have espoused the philosophy of middle knowledge. And this philosophy is nothing other than an attempt to reconcile two things which are imagined to be in contradiction.

    Hypotheticals relate to human willing, not divine willing. God wills the hypotheticals which exist for humans. They are not hypothetical to God.

    You have just espoused the Amyraldian interpretation of this verse, but then stated it does not embody the Amyraldian error. "Salvability" in any sense is hypothetical universalism.

    Are you able to hear yourself? Perhaps reading yourself might help. Sinners need salvation. Actual sinners need actual salvation. Real sinners need real salvation. Away with your false gospel!

    This supposes the goodness is actual goodness, not wished-for goodness. According to your way of speaking, God desires to do good, and the mere desire is somehow supposed to lead to repentance. The Holy Spirit says effectual and actual goodness leads to repentance, not wished-for and unfulfilled goodness.

    I will readily glory in God as God. It is your scheme which sets limits on His love, will, goodness, and salvation.
  6. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for conversing. God bless!
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I trust it has been profitable. May the Lord help you to see these truths in the light of His saving grace!
  8. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    I've been thinking about this conversation a lot. I am wondering if differences in some of the specifics in regards to understanding God's "desire" actually create a difference in how the gospel is proclaimed in the context of God's "desires"?

    Could you say to an unbeliever without qualification:

    1: "(God has) no pleasure in the death of one who dies... Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32)

    Or to someone who rejects God:

    2: "(God) desires [to show] mercy..." (Hos. 6:6)

    Or to another who rejects Christ:

    3: "...because [you] did not receive the love of the truth, that [you] might be saved [you are under God's wrath]." (2 Thes. 2:10)

    Perhaps there is no practical difference between our positions???
  9. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I've been scarce lately because I've been so busy but this is a timely conversation. I've been in Christological study for the last several months and have a growing appreciation for Christ as the Mediator in the Reformed Confessions. It also helps that I've been teaching kids at Church through the WSC and have noticed more profoundly the structure that the WSC presents salvation as flowing from Christ's mediation.

    I recently preached on 1 John 1:1-2:2: Fellowship with Light and Life (1 John 1:1-2:2) | Hope of Christ Church

    I think Reformed theology remains true to the Scriptural principle of the distance between the Creator and the creature and the necessity that the Son of God should become man for our sake.

    Recently, a PCA pastor complained on Facebook that there was a huge gap in the WCF because it didn't emphasize regeneration - that men needed to be born again. I was stunned by the ignorance expressed by such a claim but I also realized that the Westminster Standards don't place being "born again" in a way that makes it somehow "stand alone" as something that men need to lay hold of by their strength (a popular notion in revivalism).

    Instead, it presents men as being in an estate of sin and misery and the Son of God securing salvation as mediator. The distance between God and man is so great as to require the Person of the Son of God - both in his humanity and divinity. The Son of God incarnate gives us a point of contact by which we can historically be called into faith by the proclamation of the Gospel and, by His Spirit, reach out with empty hands of faith. There is no way for man to ascend to election apart from this point of contact as the Spirit works through means of grace - creaturely means of grace. We are still creatures and it is the Spirit who unites us to Christ as the Person grants us communion with eternity.

    I think, as others have noted, Arminianism, HC, and other sub-Christian views downplay the gap between God and man by conceiving of approaching God with our intellects instead of being called out of darkness and into light - out of Adam and into Christ.

    Thus, for the PCA pastor, he misses what the Standards point out - it's not that the standards downplay the need to be born again. We have to be brought into the light. But that can only occur because Christ has first become a mediator and by His Offices He has called us out of darkness, given us life, and then we reach out with a hand of faith to be united vitally to Him by the Spirit. Conceiving of being born again without conceiving of the Son as Mediator to an unapproachable God is a fools errand.
  10. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    With great desire I am pleased to post how most Christians read Ezekiel incorrectly and this is the medicine that will cure this ailment.

  11. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    "Without qualification" is impossible, which is why you have added qualifiers to each of the Scriptures you have quoted. We have to interpret those Scriptures to see what they mean in their original context; then we have to understand them in relation to the overall teaching of Scripture; and only then are we in a position to apply the teaching we have learned from Scripture to the particular situation we are addressing.
  12. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Thank you for the article. I've read it completely. I am certainly not beyond error, but would like to provide a list of objections I have to this article as consistent with my present understanding.

    I hold pastor Winzer in very high regard and have benefited from many of his posts. However, on this issue I disagree. In no way do I question his faith or degrade the help he has provided in so many posts on PB. I know from reading reformed theology that he does not represent the only historic perspective, so I would like to offer points of disagreement respectfully.

    Proposition 1.

    Assigning desire to God for His decree alone superimposes ectypal boundaries on the archetype thereby reversing a proper Creator/creature distinction.

    Explanation 1.

    The critique against Murray’s Free Offer has some basic assumptions that disprove the validity of the arguments. Particularly, there is not a proper Creator/creature distinction that allows the author to derive necessary “frustrations” concerning a desire in God for what He has not decreed. The critique states:

    “If God desires something to be… we are bound to acknowledge that the desire has reference to the will of decree, because it is a desire for the futurition of an action, not the obligation of it.”

    Certainly, the author makes a credible attempt to ascribe to God complete sovereignty, of which is true and commendable. However, the presupposition that for God to desire something “to be” that He has not decreed makes him incompetent attempts to understand God through the lens of the rational creature, reasoning that when humans desire something which does not come to fruition, there is frustration and lack of control over the situation. This is true for mankind as the creature, but not necessarily true for God.

    Since man was made in the image of God, there is of necessity an ectype/archetype relationship. When we seek to understand God through applying an ectype knowledge and relationship to desire, we impose the copy on the original and force God into the confines of the creature. In this sense, any kind of desire in God is anthropomorphic since the finite mind cannot understand and “know” anything as God knows it. However, to apply anthropomorphism to God and say that the only desire He has is for what “ought” to be done does not account for the many scriptures that the author divorces desire from God through an abuse of anthropomorphism.

    Such an attempt to divorce desire from God creates a dichotomy between God’s attributes and His desire for righteousness (Psalm 5:4). Further, because the critique seeks to understand God through the eyes of the creature, it effectively reverses the biblical order and seeks to understand God through our image.

    Proposition 2.

    Without a proper Creator/creature distinction, God's desire for His decree must of necessity be anthropomorphic similarly to His desire for His precepts.

    Explanation 2.

    Since the Creator/creature distinction has been reversed by the author and human desire has become the blueprint to understanding God’s desire, by necessity the author seeks to understand God’s desire for His decree through the human lens as has been proposed. Since anthropomorphism is defined as “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to God,” the author does not have the liberty to argue that God’s desire for His decree is somehow not anthropomorphic while His desire for something that He did not decree is in fact anthropomorphic since understanding any desire in God has been subjugated to creaturely desire.

    Proposition 3.

    The formulation of desire in God as proper only for His decree speculates upon His secret will and does not focus on what He had revealed.

    Explanation 3.

    Deut. 29:29 tells us “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever…” The author has sought to reconcile what God has revealed to what we know about His decree. This passage tells us that it is not ours to know or speculate upon. The author has removed any desire of God for the futurition of something that is not decreed and therefore formulates doctrines based on what is secret.

    “No man, therefore, will duly and usefully ponder on the providence of God save he who recollects that he has to do with his own Maker, and the Maker of the world, and in the exercise of the humility which becomes him, manifests both fear and reverence. Hence it is, that in the present day so many dogs tear this doctrine with envenomed teeth, or, at least, assail it with their bark, refusing to give more license to God than their own reason dictates to themselves.” (Calvin’s Institutes 1.17.2)

    Proposition 4.

    A dichotomy between God the Father and God the Son incarnate fails to promote unity in the Godhead.

    Explanation 4.

    Based on the author's previous conclusions that God's desire is only properly referenced to His decree, there is a necessary dichotomy between the divine and human natures of Christ. This is evidenced in the following:

    "It was the human will wishing that which was in accord with the moral principles of self-preservation."


    "As the experience in the garden of Gethsemane demonstrates that one may Biblically prejudice the false principle of a perfect harmony between the will of the Father and the human will of the Son, the averment that it is the human will of Jesus which is expressed in Matthew 23:37, is both safe and sound."

    However, based on the fallacies already described in propositions 1-3, such problems arise only from a false dichotomy between the decretive and revealed will of God in relation to desire in God. This is a perfect example of where human reason has its limitations for sure, but promoting what the author finds to be reasonable only creates disunity in the Godhead due to seeking to comprehend God through human lenses and finite logic.

    Proposition 5.

    A dichotomy between God the Father and God the Son incarnate fails to acknowledge that Christ's human nature is in heaven.

    Explanation 5.

    Since not only Christ's divine nature is in heaven but also His human nature (Rom. 8:34, Heidelberg 45-46), it is inconsistent to create a dichotomy between the divine and human natures since they are both present in heaven. Furthermore, if God remains unchanging, is there a difference in the Godhead in heaven now than there was prior to Christ's bodily ascension?

    Proposition 6.

    An assignment of desire in God to only properly reference His decree and what man "ought" to do creates a dangerous practical dilemma.

    Explanation 6.

    If I consider my sins, should I think that though I did what I ought not to have done, I did what God desired. No! I should view it as having done what God does not desire, since God is "not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness" (Ps. 5:4). And what of His anger against those who do not obey? Is He angry because they did what He desired? Again, this is beyond the finite mind to fully comprehend, but as truth should be premised on the Word of God, I think we are better off to accept what appears to be a paradox, knowing that it is resolved in the infinite God.

    "He makes no pretence of not willing what he wills, but while in himself the will is one and undivided, to us it appears manifold, because, from the feebleness of our intellect, we cannot comprehend how, though after a different manner, he wills and wills not the very same thing... Nay, when we cannot comprehend how God can will that to be done which he forbids us to do, let us call to mind our imbecility, and remember that the light in which he dwells is not without cause termed inaccessible, (1Ti 6: 16) because shrouded in darkness." (Institutes 1.18.3)

    Proposition 7.

    It is meaningless to argue that mankind is loved generally as creatures but hated individually as reprobates.

    Explanation 7.

    The scriptures do not represent love and hate as absolute dichotomies, nor do we do this in our own experience. For example, I love my wife, children, neighbors, etc. I am commanded to do so by scripture. However, the love is expressed differently. In fact, if my neighbor desired intimacy with me, I would despise her, though simultaneously I am to love her. We are also told in scripture to hate the enemies of God (Ps. 139:21) as well as our family members (Luke 14:26). Let's not create a one or the other scenario with God or make up so many categories as to say that God loves men generally as creatures and hates individually as reprobates. Such categories only serve to harm a holistic view of scripture.

    “Another objection to the doctrine of common grace is that it presupposes a certain favorable disposition in God even to reprobate sinners, while we have no right to assume such a disposition in God. This stricture takes its starting point in the eternal counsel of God, in His election and reprobation. Along the line of His election God reveals His love, grace, mercy, and longsuffering, leading to salvation; and in the historical realization of His reprobation He gives expression only to His aversion, disfavor, hatred, and wrath, leading to destruction. But this looks like a rationalistic over-simplification of the inner life of God, which does not take sufficient account of His self-revelation. In speaking on this subject we ought to be very careful and allow ourselves to be guided by the explicit statements of Scripture rather than by our bold inferences from the secret counsel of God. There is far more in God than we can reduce to our logical categories.” (Berkoff, Systematic Theology 4.3.3. See also Institutes 2.16.4 and further after the Berkoff quote.)

    Proposition 8.

    Unless God wills the salvation of all, we cannot rightly pray that all would be saved.

    Explanation 8.

    The article explains “Herein something might be predicated of the genuine expression of earnest desire to be sounded forth to all men without exception: it is by the ministers of the gospel who are sent forth to preach to every creature and to beseech men to be reconciled to God.”

    I would suggest creating tension between God’s desire for His decree and His precept is founded only in the finite mind of fallible men. Calvin did not promote tension between them but simply spoke of them both.

    “So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost… But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel.” (Commentary on 2 Pet. 3:9)

    The third petition of the Lord’s prayer reveals what is to be our desire concerning God’s will. Scripture undoubtedly ascribes desire in God for His precepts. To remove that desire from God is to abuse the idea of anthropomorphism and creates tension between Christ incarnate and the Godhead and the believer’s godly desires from God.


    We would all do well to refrain from looking into God’s secret will and seeking understand what He has revealed by what we know of His decree.

    “But he still continues his exclamation, and thus the more he elevates the height of the divine mystery, the more he deters us from the curiosity of investigating the Lord, except as far as he has revealed himself in the Scriptures; for otherwise we shall enter a labyrinth, from which the retreat is not easy.” (Calvin’s commentary, Rom. 11:33)

    Such knowledge does not promote disunity in the Godhead, but rather exemplifies our “creatureliness.” The proper response? Awe, reverence, admiration, faith.

    “To seek to present the Christian position as rationally explicable in the sense of being comprehensible to the mind of man is to defeat our own purposes. To do so we must adopt the standard of reasoning of our opponent, and when we have accepted the standard of reasoning of our opponent, we must rest content with the idea of a finite God.” (Van Til)
  13. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    God determines how He will reveal Himself to man. He has never revealed that He desires the salvation of all men. Men have adopted a sentimental attitude towards God's love and goodness and imposed this on the teaching of Scripture. Having made the Scripture to speak contrary to its own witness, they then seek to hide behind the claims of paradox.

    If the promise of salvation to those who believe indicated a desire in God for the salvation of all men, then the threatening of damnation to those who do not believe would indicate a desire in God for the damnation of all men. Holy Scripture speaks of justice and mercy. It does not hold forth the doctrine of universal salvation.

    Fallen creatures have frustrated desires. The claim that there are frustrated desires in God is a failure to recognise the Creator/creature distinction.

    Yes, that is what the doctrine of frustrated desire in God is effectively doing.

    The decree as revealed must be as anthropomorphic as the revealed will. Scripture speaks in the thoughts and words of men, otherwise we could not understand what it says.

    Those who claim frustrated desire in God are making human desire the basis for understanding God's desire.

    God has revealed that He does whatsoever He pleases. The failure to accept this self-revelation leads to the creation of "secret things" of man's devising. Since God's desires can be frustrated, according to this new divinity, it is uncertain to the individual who hears the Word of God whether God's will concerning him shall actually come to pass. This means he will have to "divine" the future by means of some other source and be no better than the heathen who serve dumb idols.

    The doctrine is based upon the revelation of Scripture -- God shall do all His pleasure. The opposite teaching supposes that God is not pleased with bringing to pass what is for His own glory, and that He would be pleased if He were not glorified in the way He has decreed.

    Well stated, Dr. Calvin. Dogs bark in vain at God sovereignly accomplishing His desires.

    Precisely. So let us hear no more talk of God desiring the salvation of men for whom Christ has not procured salvation.

    Two natures, one person.

    It is sad to hear that you think this way of the Christian tradition.

    Now that is simply daft!

    Christ's divine nature is everywhere. You may need to study up on what it means to be "divine."

    Now you are questioning the decretive/preceptive distinction. This was only a matter of time seeing as you have questioned the beneplaciti/signi distinction. In essence you are teaching the Arminian antecedent/consequent distinction. A little more explanation and your position will be seen for what it is.

    Now you are simply refusing to use the decretive/preceptive distinction and to clarify in which sense you speaking. At this rate you will be forced to say that it did not please the Lord to bruise the Servant, which would be contrary to the express teaching of Scripture (Isa. 53:10), and your anti-Scriptural polemic will be manifest for all to see.

    These are sound words from Dr. Calvin and appropriate for people who go beyond what is written and suppose God desires something less than His own glory.

    Neither did I. If it were an absolute dichotomy it could not be said of the same person that God loves them in one sense and hates them in another.

    We are not to pray for those who have sinned the sin unto death. We are not to pray for those who are dead. The word "all" will grow more indefinite with each qualification.

    Salvation is not by prayer. Man prays. God saves. Prayer is an offering up of our desires according to the revealed will of God; prayer is not telling God what He must desire if He is to be good and just according to our way of thinking.

    Then stop creating tension between them by making God desire things which He has decreed will never come to pass.
  14. PaulMc

    PaulMc Puritan Board Freshman


    Thank you Matthew for the cogent response here.
  15. PaulMc

    PaulMc Puritan Board Freshman

    John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (Works 10) is very helpful in issues relating to this discussion. For instance, with God's supposed love for all the world (John 3:16), he writes of those who would have this text reference a universality of men (p.328):

    'Unless ye will grant, First, Some to be beloved and hated also from eternity; secondly, The love of God towards innumerable to be fruitless and vain; thirdly, The Son of God to be given to them who, first, never heard a word of him; secondly, have no power granted to believe in him; fourthly, That God is mutable in his love, or else still loveth those that be in hell; fifthly, That he doth not give all things to them to whom he gives his Son, contrary to Rom. viii. 32; sixthly, That he knows not certainly beforehand who shall believe and be saved; - unless, I say, all these blasphemies and absurdities be granted, it cannot be maintained that by the world here is meant all and everyone of mankind, but only men in common scattered throughout the world, which are the elect.'

    In reference to 1 Tim 2:4, Owen speaks of the word 'will' thus (p.344) - 'The will of God is usually distinguished into his will intending and his will commanding', so that if the 'will' here indicated the "voluntate signi" (which Owen denies anyway), then the verse is 'the same with that of the apostle in another place, "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent."'
    In denying that this verse refers to all men indiscriminately, he also says (p.346) that 'All shall be saved whom God would have to be saved; this we dare not deny, for "who hath resisted his will?" Seeing, then, it is most certain that all shall not be saved (for some shall stand on the left hand), it cannot be that the universality of men should be intended in this place.'
  16. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Briefly, I want to clarify the following:

    1. I do not believe that God is frustrated. If in a sense His desire does not come to fruition, it is because He so wills. If He is angry, it is because He wills, not because He is frustrated. I believe we can talk about His desire being for the revealed will even if it appears to us to be contrary to His decree and is not decreed. The scripture gives us example. The scriptures does not ever say that He is frustrated, so I can't say that. I would rather premise my faith on what is revealed rather than what is humanly logical.

    2. I never denied that the Divine Nature is omnipresent. I only said that it was in heaven, not that it wasn't.
  17. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for the quotes. I am aware of Owen's position on John 3:16. I disagree with the absolute dichotomy that Owen places on love and hate for the reasons I have previously outlined. I also think it is unfortunate that Owen so strongly equates universal love with Arminianism. In contrast, I would recommend Calvin, Matthew Henry, David Gay, John Piper, Martin Luther, etc. on John 3:16. They were certainly no Arminians.

    This website also outlines the various positions.

    John 3:16 – God’s Love for all Mankind in the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel | Reformed Books Online

    I really would love to speak about this more, but it seems that emotions and staunch opinions would hinder.

  18. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    So you do in fact believe that God's desire is frustrated, only you clarify that it is God's own will to frustrate His own desire. What strange gods you believe in!

    You stated, "Since not only Christ's divine nature is in heaven but also His human nature..." As your sentence stands you have the divine nature circumscribed in heaven with the human nature. If you deny it is circumscribed in heaven you have lost the additional sense which is conveyed by the word "also."
  19. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The linked page misrepresents the Amyraldian position by equating it with the Arminian position. It also makes a categorical error when it confines the scope of John 3:16 to the offer of salvation as if it has no bearing on the atonement.

    The same site recommends the work of John Kennedy in opposing the Declaratory Statement of the United Presbyterian Church (although it appears to confuse the Declaratory Statement with the Declaratory Act of the Free Church). Dr. Kennedy brings out the full scope of this text in relation to both the atonement and the gospel offer. He presents the confessionally reformed view. Here is the substance of his disagreement with the sentimental view:

    "To the Westminster divines a love that was not an unfailing fountain of salvation, was something quite outside the range of their thinking. But the men who propose to retain the Confession of Faith as a standard, and to append to it the Declaratory Statement, must conceive of two loves - the only love of which the Confession speaks, and another which is called 'the love of God to all mankind.' What that other love is impossible to tell. It is not, at any rate, a love that moved God either to purpose, or to provide for, the salvation of its objects. It cannot, therefore, be called saving love. But surely no one can look with a single eye over the Word of God and profess to find there any Divine love, to sinful men, but that which is expressed in the salvation of those who are its objects."

    On John 3:16:

    "The objects of Divine love are everywhere, and are, therefore, representatively called 'the world.' Among them are specimens of all nations and classes of men. God's love to them, therefore, is called love to the world. And because this love is not confined, as the Jews were accustomed to think, within the fence that defines the position of the nation of Israel, therefore the Gospel is to be preached to all nations, that all believing in the Son, of whom the Gospel testifies, may have everlasting life. The love of God, expressed in the gift of His Son to be an atoning sacrifice, was not confined to Israel, therefore the Gospel must be preached to the Gentiles. There is nothing, therefore, in this passage that is not applicable to the only love of which the Confession speaks, and which is described as electing, redeeming, saving."
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page