The Biblical Offer of the Gospel

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polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
This wouldn't be somehow connected to the PRCA, would it? Seems like I've seen a number of Anglicans who appreciate their soteriological stances. Interesting.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
This wouldn't be somehow connected to the PRCA, would it? Seems like I've seen a number of Anglicans who appreciate their soteriological stances. Interesting.
No...although they faced a similar battle as the C/PRC although a few decades later.

trevorjohnson said:
How would this affect evangelism and mission work?
The method of presentation will obviously differ from the more free-will emphasis that modern calvinistic preaching has having a higher view of God and his sovereign work.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
The method of presentation will obviously differ from the more free-will emphasis that modern calvinistic preaching has having a higher view of God and his sovereign work.
Could you give an example "offer" in the two methods to highlight how they would differ in your opinion?
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
I have extensive quotes from Calvin on my blog on the "free offer".
http://kerugma.solideogloria.com/archive/2006_09_01_kerugma_archive.html
I would also highly recommend this debate on the subject between Silversides, a Reformed Presbyterian and Hanko, a Protestant Reformed. While Hanko has some interesting points, Silversides has Calvin's position down.

Here is the link

JL
To the Silversides-Hanko debate I would add the Mouw-Engelsma debate found here.

The CG issue is unrelated to the FO issue so perhaps a separate thread?.

Regarding the terms of 'offer': Did Calvin use it? Yes indeed however the question that must be asked is precisely what did he mean by the term 'offer'? That is why it is rather pointless to find quotes by the reformers and puritans where the term 'offer' was used and shout - there...they believed in the free offer.

Further...what do we mean by the term 'Free Offer'? How should we define the free offer of the gospel? Do we understand it as refering to the general proclamation of the gospel i.e. heralding it to all nations, all creatures etc? Do we mean that God is gracious to all in having the gospel preached to all? Much of the controversy has arisen because people have not defined their terms of if they have done so they have defined them differently and then talked at cross purposes.

I would add that far better is it that we use Biblical language. So we preach the gospel, herald the gospel, proclaim the gospel...no where in the Scripture do we find the phrase 'offer the gospel'.

As for the CG?FO debate...let us not ban debate but discuss and pray that the Holy Ghost leads us into all truth as has been promised. This leads me on to doctrinal development. We must recognise that truth did not end with Calvin...there are times...shock horror that he was wrong...indeed even councils have erred!
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
To the Silversides-Hanko debate I would add the Mouw-Engelsma debate found here.

The CG issue is unrelated to the FO issue so perhaps a separate thread?.

Mmmmmm, if you listen to the debate you will see that it is also about the free offer.

Blessings!
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Regarding the terms of 'offer': Did Calvin use it? Yes indeed however the question that must be asked is precisely what did he mean by the term 'offer'? That is why it is rather pointless to find quotes by the reformers and puritans where the term 'offer' was used and shout - there...they believed in the free offer.
Here is an interesting Calvin quote. Would you say that Calvin was wrong in this?

Mark 10:21 ~Jesus beholding him, loved him.~

The inference which the Papists draw from this, that works morally good — that is, works which are not performed by the impulse of the Spirit, but go before regeneration — have the merit of congruity, is an excessively childish contrivance. For if merit be alleged to be the consequence of the love of God, we must then say that frogs and fleas have merit, because all the creatures of God, without exception, are the objects of his love. To distinguish the degrees of love is, therefore, a matter of importance. As to the present passage, it may be enough to state briefly, that God embraces in fatherly love none but his children, whom he has regenerated with the Spirit of adoption, and that it is in consequence of this love that they are accepted at his tribunal. In this sense, to be loved by God, and to be justified in his sight, are synonymous terms.

But God is sometimes said to love those whom he does not approve or justify; for, since the preservation of the human race is agreeable to Him — which consists in justice, uprightness, moderation, prudence, fidelity, and temperance — he is said to love the political virtues; not that they are meritorious of salvation or of grace, but that they have reference to an end of which he approves. In this sense, under various points of view, God loved Aristides and Fabricius, and also hated them; for, in so far as he had bestowed on them outward righteousness, and that for the general advantage, he loved his own work in them; but as their heart was impure, the outward semblance of righteousness was of no avail for obtaining righteousness. For we know that by faith alone hearts are purified, and that the Spirit of uprightness is given to the members of Christ alone. Thus the question is answered, How was it possible that Christ should love a man who was proud and a hypocrite, while nothing is more hateful to God than these two vices? For it is not inconsistent, that the good seed, which God has implanted in some natures, shall be loved by Him, and yet that He should reject their persons and works on account of corruption (Calvin's Commentary on the harmony of the Gospel. Vol. 2. p.297).


I see here in Calvin a discriminating love that is not salvific for the reprobate. It is a lesser love than the love for the elect, and would seem to terminate upon the temporal object of wrath. Calvin indicates that this is not an ardent and eternal love for those who are not elect, but a temporal condescending love found in His own (albeit marred) image in them. It is a love nonetheless.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Would you say that Calvin was wrong in this?
Yes. God loves his inheritance and them alone.

Let us look at your quote:

The inference which the Papists draw from this, that works morally good — that is, works which are not performed by the impulse of the Spirit, but go before regeneration — have the merit of congruity, is an excessively childish contrivance. For if merit be alleged to be the consequence of the love of God, we must then say that frogs and fleas have merit, because all the creatures of God, without exception, are the objects of his love.
Here Calvin is speaking of animals.

...God embraces in fatherly love none but his children, whom he has regenerated with the Spirit of adoption, and that it is in consequence of this love that they are accepted at his tribunal. In this sense, to be loved by God, and to be justified in his sight, are synonymous terms.
He is correct here!

But God is sometimes said to love those whom he does not approve or justify; for, since the preservation of the human race is agreeable to Him — which consists in justice, uprightness, moderation, prudence, fidelity, and temperance — he is said to love the political virtues; not that they are meritorious of salvation or of grace, but that they have reference to an end of which he approves. In this sense, under various points of view, God loved Aristides and Fabricius, and also hated them; for, in so far as he had bestowed on them outward righteousness, and that for the general advantage, he loved his own work in them; but as their heart was impure, the outward semblance of righteousness was of no avail for obtaining righteousness. For we know that by faith alone hearts are purified, and that the Spirit of uprightness is given to the members of Christ alone. Thus the question is answered, How was it possible that Christ should love a man who was proud and a hypocrite, while nothing is more hateful to God than these two vices? For it is not inconsistent, that the good seed, which God has implanted in some natures, shall be loved by Him, and yet that He should reject their persons and works on account of corruption
I think Calvin is confusing here and could have made use of clarifying phrases such as "...in that...". What Calvin seems to be teaching here is that God loves "justice, uprightness, moderation, prudence, fidelity, and temperance" and so those who do them he loves i.e. he loves the outward righteousness he himself has worked in them. But he states that "God loved Aristides and Fabricius, and also hated them".

However we must remember that as great as Calvin was he was not infaliable and it is our duty to be always reforming our doctrine to the Scriptures. I do not think Calvin is correct for even the 'good works' of the unregenerate are filthy rags and no man can do something good in the eyes of God. The ploughing of the wicked is sinful (Prov 21:4).
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
And what would you say to Calvin here?

" The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. " 2 Peter 3:9

But the Lord is not slack, or, delays not. He checks extreme and unreasonable haste by another reason, that is, that the Lord defers his coming that he might invite all mankind to repentance. For our minds are always prurient, and a doubt often creeps in, why he does not come sooner. But when we hear that the Lord, in delaying, shews a concern for our salvation, and that he defers the time because he has a care for us, there is no reason why we should any longer complain of tardiness. He is tardy who allows an occasion to pass by through slothfulness: there is nothing like this in God, who in the best manner regulates time to promote our salvation. And as to the duration of the whole world, we must think exactly the same as of the life of every individual; for God by prolonging time to each, sustains him that he may repent. In the like manner he does not hasten the end of the world, in order to give to all time to repent.

This is a very necessary admonition, so that we may learn to employ time a right, as we shall otherwise suffer a just punishment for our idleness. "Not willing that any should perish". 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 the order is to be noticed, that God is ready to receive all to repentance, so that none may perish; for in these words the way and manner of obtaining salvation is pointed out. Every one of us, therefore, who is desirous of salvation, must learn to enter in by this way.

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. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world. But as the verb chōreō is often taken passively by the Greeks, no less suitable to this passage is the verb which I have put in the margin, that God would have all, who had been before wandering and scattered, to be gathered or come together to repentance.​

Admittedly, this is a most difficult passage to interpret if one does not understand Calvin's disposition to God's to two kinds of love toward man (General, nonsalvific benevolence, and electing, saving love). Rev. Hanko, in his debate with Rev. Silversides says the following, "When we are speaking of common grace, we are also speaking of common mercy, common love, common goodness, common long-suffering. They all go together. They can't be separated. I'm not going to argue against just a common grace this evening, but against a common love, common mercy, common benevolence, common goodness, common long-suffering" (Intro to Lecture #2). I think in doing so, he has argued himself right off the pages of Scripture. Agree or disagree, Hanko has out calvined Calvin. He's not taken Calvin in all his context, and realized the dichotomization of his teaching on this subject.

How then do we reconcile the clear Biblical teaching that God hates the sinner with a passage such as this? We can do one of two things. We can wrest the passage from its true context, or as Calvin does, we can go back to the two ways in which the Bible speaks of God's love. When the Scriptures tell us that God hates the reprobate with an eternal hatred, it speaks of the reprobate in terns of the "hidden purpose of God", to quote Calvin. In this way, there is an eternal and abiding hatred. And when the Word indicates that God is long-suffering to man in the calls to repentance, it is from the general, non-saving love "made known to us in the gospel" (Calvin) that terminates on the creature. This love is not saving, but creaturely, “that the good seed, which God has implanted in some natures, shall be loved by Him” (Calvin). If you disagree with these two loves, argue with Calvin.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Sloppy dogmatics brings heresy into the church.

Speaking of Prof. Hanko and the socalled 'offer of the gospel', Prof Hanko has done a thorough job here on the history of the free offer:

http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/Free Offer/cover.htm

From his Introduction:



If it can be shown from history that not only has the church not confessed a given doctrine in most of her history, but rather has condemned it when it appeared in the teachings of various men within the church, that ought to make us hesitate to insist upon the fact that Scripture teaches this particular position. Once again, the question is: Do I want to place myself on the side of those who have been consistently repudiated by the church as teaching something contrary to Scripture? If Scripture itself requires this of me, then, of course, I do - regardless of the consequences. But the fact remains that I had better be very sure. To go against the testimony of the church of all ages is indeed a bold move, and one can never be too sure that his position is firmly and unequivocally taught by Holy Writ. A study of history can be enlightening and helpful.

This is especially true of the doctrine of the free offer. While it is sometimes maintained that the doctrine of the free offer has the weight of history behind it, this is a false and empty claim. A study of the history of doctrine within the church will show that quite the contrary is true. Quite consistently heretics who were condemned by the church have held the doctrine of the free offer. Quite consistently the church has refused to adopt any such doctrine. The weight of history is surely behind those who deny that the free offer is the teaching of Scripture. It is this assertion that we hope to prove in this and subsequent chapters.

While it is impossible to avoid completely a Scriptural analysis of the idea of the free offer, it is not our intent in these articles to engage in any such exegetical study. Our purpose is primarily historical, and to the historical data we intend to limit ourselves as much as possible.1 It is to the history of this doctrine then that we turn our attention.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Sloppy dogmatics brings heresy into the church.

Speaking of Prof. Hanko and the socalled 'offer of the gospel', Prof Hanko has done a thorough job here on the history of the free offer:

http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/Free Offer/cover.htm

From his Introduction:
Speaking as a Scottish Presbyterian who is now the pastor of a 3 Forms Church, Hanko butchered the Marrow Controversy and displayed a great lack of knowledge on the subject of the Free Offer in that piece. I have yet to see any PRC scholar actually interact with Calvin's own words on the subject besides saying, "Calvin used unfortunate language".
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Sorry Rev. Lewis:

1. Your link does not figure. What dit Calvin say, and where?

2. What basis do you have for your allegations regarding Prof. Hanko's lack of understanding?

If you come with an allegation, you have to back it up.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Sorry Rev. Lewis:

1. Your link does not figure. What dit Calvin say, and where?

2. What basis do you have for your allegations regarding Prof. Hanko's lack of understanding?

If you come with an allegation, you have to back it up.

First, click here for an 8 part series on the subject matter of the Free Offer by Calvin (3/4 the way down the page).

Second, I would not make the allegations if i was not able to back them up. I plan on a full critique on Hanko and the Marrow, as well as H. Hoeksema on the Covenant. This will be posted on my blog.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
I have yet to see any PRC scholar actually interact with Calvin's own words on the subject besides saying, "Calvin used unfortunate language".
I am no scholar, although I am Protestant Reformed. I would not say Calvin used unfortunate language. And remember, Calving did not speak English, but this is from the Latin. What does offere mean in Latin? I stand wholeheartedly here on the position that Calvin, in any of these citations, did not teach the Well meant offer.


Sorry, Pastor Lewis, but you are being just slightly ingeneous. Was reading your blog, and a certain part of Calvin's commentary has been deleted:

on Rom 1:16

At the same time, as he works not effectually in all, but only where the Spirit, the inward Teacher, illuminates the heart, he subjoins, To every one who believeth. The gospel is indeed offered to all for their salvation, but the power of it appears not everywhere: and that it is the savor of death to the ungodly, does not proceed from what it is, but from their own wickedness. By setting forth but one Salvation he cuts off every other trust. When men withdraw themselves from this one salvation, they find in the gospel a sure proof of their own ruin. Since then the gospel invites all to partake of salvation without any difference, it is rightly called the doctrine of salvation: for Christ is there offered, whose peculiar office is to save that which was lost; and those who refuse to be saved by him, shall find him a Judge. But everywhere in Scripture the word salvation is simply set in opposition to the word destruction: and hence we must observe, when it is mentioned, what the subject of the discourse is. Since then the gospel delivers from ruin and the curse of endless death, its salvation is eternal life. 1
Noting here, that a savor of death to the ungodly is hardly to them the sweet savor of an offer of grace. Also, considering offer, from the Latin root, is meant in the sense of 'displaying'.

This is how my commentary readson Rom 5:18:

18. Therefore, etc. This is a defective sentence; it will be complete if the words condemnation and justification be read in the nominative case; as doubtless you must do in order to complete the sense. We have here the general conclusion from the preceding comparison; for, omitting the mention of the intervening explanation, he now completes the comparison, "As by the offense of one we were made (constitute) sinners; so the righteousness of Christ is efficacious to justify us. He does not say the righteousness -- dikaiosu>nhn, but the justification -- dikai>wma, 1 of Christ, in order to remind us that he was not as an individual just for himself, but that the righteousness with which he was endued reached farther, in order that, by conferring this gift, he might enrich the faithful. He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God's benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him. 2

These two words, which he had before used, judgment and grace, may be also introduced here in this form, "As it was through God's judgment that the sin of one issued in the condemnation of many, so grace will be efficacious to the justification of many." Justification of life is to be taken, in my judgment, for remission, which restores life to us, as though he called it life-giving. 3 For whence comes the hope of salvation, except that God is propitious to us; and we must be just, in order to be accepted. Then life proceeds from justification. 4
Inst 3:3:21:

21.

Moreover, that repentance is a special gift of God, I trust is too well understood from the above doctrine to require any lengthened discourse. Hence the Church' extols the goodness of God, and looks on in wonder, saying, "Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life," (Acts 11: 18;) and Paul enjoining Timothy to deal meekly and patiently with unbelievers, says, "If God per adventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil," (2 Tim. 2: 25, 26.) God indeed declares, that he would have all men to repent, and addresses exhortations in common to all; their efficacy, however, depends on the Spirit of regeneration. It were easier to create us at first, than for us by our own strength to acquire a more excellent nature. Wherefore, in regard to the whole process of regeneration, it is not without cause we are called God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them," (Eph. 2: 10.2) Those whom God is pleased to rescue from death, he quickens by the Spirit of regeneration; not that repentance is properly the cause of salvation, but because, as already seen, it is inseparable from the faith and mercy of God; for, as Isaiah declares, "The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob." This, indeed, is a standing truth, that wherever the fear of God is in vigor, the Spirit has been carrying on his saving work. Hence, in Isaiah, while believers complain and lament that they have been forsaken of God, they set down the supernatural hardening of the heart as a sign of reprobation. The Apostle, also, intending to exclude apostates from the hope of salvation, states, as the reason, that it is impossible to renew them to repentance, (Heb. 6: 6;) that is, God by renewing those whom he wills not to perish, gives them a sign of paternal favor, and in a manner attracts them to himself, by the beams of a calm and reconciled countenance; on the other hand, by hardening the reprobate, whose impiety is not to be forgiven, he thunders against them. This kind of vengeance the Apostle denounces against voluntary apostates, (Heb. 10: 29,) who, in falling away from the faith of the gospel, mock God, insultingly reject his favor, profane and trample under foot the blood of Christ, nay, as far as in them lies, crucify him afresh. Still, he does not, as some austere persons preposterously insist, leave no hope of pardon to voluntary sins, but shows that apostasy being altogether without excuse, it is not strange that God is inexorably rigorous in punishing sacrilegious contempt thus shown to himself. For, in the same Epistle, he says, that "it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame," (Heb. 7: 4-6.) And in another passage, "If we sin willingly, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment," &c. (Heb. 11: 25, 26.) There are other passages, from a misinterpretation of which the Novatians of old extracted materials for their heresy; so much so, that some good men taking offense at their harshness, have deemed the Epistle altogether spurious, though it truly savors in every part of it of the apostolic spirit. But as our dispute is only with those who receive the Epistle, it is easy to show that those passages give no support to their error. First, the Apostle must of necessity agree with his Master, who declares, that "all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men," "neither in this world, neither in the world to come," (Matth. 12: 31; Luke 12: 10.) We must hold that this was the only exception which the Apostle recognized, unless we would set him in opposition to the grace of God. Hence it follows, that to no sin is pardon denied save to one, which proceeding from desperate fury cannot be ascribed to infirmity, and plainly shows that the man guilty of it is possessed by the devil.
Dont see any offer in this, just proclamation of the Gospel.

Your own words:

The expression of our Saviour, "Many are called, but few are chosen," (Matthew 22:14,) is also very improperly interpreted, (see Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12.) There will be no ambiguity in it, if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear, viz., that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savour of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. (Institutes 3:24:8)
How is a savour of death an offer of grace? Grace is only in the special call, as you yourself here state.

But if it is so, (you will say,) little faith can be put in the Gospel promises, which, in testifying concerning the will of God, declare that he wills what is contrary to his inviolable decree. Not at all; for however universal the promises of salvation may be, there is no discrepancy between them and the predestination of the reprobate, provided we attend to their effect. We know that the promises are effectual only when we receive them in faith, but, on the contrary, when faith is made void, the promise is of no effect. If this is the nature of the promises, let us now see whether there be any inconsistency between the two things, viz., that God, by an eternal decree, fixed the number of those whom he is pleased to embrace in love, and on whom he is pleased to display his wrath, and that he offers salvation indiscriminately to all. I hold that they are perfectly consistent, for all that is meant by the promise is, just that his mercy is offered to all who desire and implore it, and this none do, save those whom he has enlightened. . Moreover, he enlightens those whom he has predestinated to salvation. Thus the truth of the promises remains firm and unshaken, so that it cannot be said there is any disagreement between the eternal election of God and the testimony of his grace which he offers to believers. But why does he mention all men? Namely that the consciences of the righteous may rest the more secure when they understand that there is no difference between sinners, provided they have faith, and that the ungodly may not be able to allege that they have not an asylum to which they may retake themselves from the bondage of sin, while they ungratefully reject the offer which is made to them. Therefore, since by the Gospel the mercy of God is offered to both, it is faith, in other words, the illumination of God, which distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked, the former feeling the efficacy of the Gospel, the latter obtaining no benefit from it. Illumination itself has eternal election for its rule. (Institutes 3:24:17)
Mercy is offered to all who desire it? Offer of grace to all hearers?

"On the contrary, therefore, Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it." (Comments on John 6:44)
The Gospel preached to everyone, which cannot be received except for the quickening by the Holy Spirit, who works it in our hearts.

Do we need more arguments that Calvin did not preach a "universal offer of grace to all hearers"?

Grace is not offered. Grace is worked, through the Word and Spirit, in the hearts of all the elect. All of God, nothing of us.

Sola Gratia!
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Second, I would not make the allegations if i was not able to back them up. I plan on a full critique on Hanko and the Marrow, as well as H. Hoeksema on the Covenant. This will be posted on my blog.
So the allegation can be made here, but the (delayed) explanation we will have to hunt up on your blog? Come on, Pastor, sure you can do better than that? Be a man and back up your words, or else offer a retraction.

Here is what Prof. Hanko wrote on the Marrow (beg your forebearance on the lengthy quote, moderators):

Pastor, where was Prof. Hanko less than honest?

In order to understand the Marrow controversy in its historical perspective, it is necessary to make a few remarks about the history of the Reformation subsequent to the Westminster Assembly.

Although the Reformation was never as strong in England as on the continent, due to the efforts in England to make a Protestant State Church from a Roman Catholic Church - which efforts differed from the Reformation on the continent where reformation took place by way of separation from the Romish Church nevertheless, Arminianism itself did not appear in England until 1595, when it was taught by Peter Baro, Margaret professor of Divinity at Cambridge. His teachings occasioned the formulation and adoption of the Lambeth Articles which were added, though never officially, to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. The Lambeth Articles made specific certain points of doctrine involved in the defense of the truths of sovereign grace over aginst Arminianism, which were less explicit in the Thirty-Nine Articles.39 In 1596 Baro resigned his position because of his views.

These same views were, however, taught and defended by others. We have noticed earlier how Amyrauldianism came into England and was taught by the Davenant School and represented at Westminster by the men who belonged to this school of thought. But the same ideas were taught by Richard Baxter (1615-1691).

In his doctrine of Christ and the atonement he was Grotian; in his teachings on salvation he was Amyrauldian and Arminian. He believed it his calling to fight a certain antinomianism that had appeared in the church, but he became in fact neo-nomian and taught justification by faith and the works of the new law.

It is of some interest to note in this connection that the charge of antinomianism is often an easy charge to make and was many times brought by Arminians in their opposition of the truth of justification by faith alone. When some in the church lived lax lives, certain opponents of the truth of sovereign grace were quick to find fault with the truth of justification by faith alone and blame this doctrine for wicked excesses among the people, when in fact, the problem lay elsewhere. Already the Heidelberg Catechism addressed itself to this problem in Question and Answer 64: "But doth not this doctrine (of justification by faith) make men careless and profane? By no means: for it is impossible that those, who are implanted into Christ by a true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness."

It is important to understand this because the question of antinomianism and neo-nomianism occupied an important place in the Marrow controversy.

However all that may be, Baxter was opposed by John Owen, especially in his famous book on the atonement: The Death of Death In the Death of Christ.40 In the introduction referred to in the footnote, J. I. Packer claims that Owen was writing against: 1) Classical Arminianism, 2) Amyrauldianism, and 3) The views of Thomas More. He also claims that Usher, Davenant, and Baxter, while holding to a modified Amyrauldianism, had not yet appeared in print with their views at the time Owen wrote his book. But, Packer insists, and correctly so, the book is not only about the atonement; it is also about the gospel.

"Surely all that Owen is doing is defending limited atonement?" Not really. He is doing much more than that. Strictly speaking, the aim of Owen's book is not defensive at all, but constructive. It is a biblical and theological enquiry: its purpose is simply to make clear what Scripture actually teaches about the central subject of the gospel the achievement of the Saviour. As its title proclaims, it is a "treatise of the redemption and reconciliation that is in the blood of Christ; with the merit thereof, and the satisfaction wrought thereby." The question which Owen, like the Dort divines before him, is really concerned to answer is just this: what is the gospel? 41

Concerning the gospel Owen taught that the preacher may not preach that Christ died for each one who hears and that God's love is for each one.42 Man cannot save himself. Christ died for sinners. All who confess sin and believe in Christ will be received. And those who do confess sin and believe in Christ are those whom God has chosen from all eternity. All who hear the gospel face repentance and faith as a duty, but to this is always added a particular promise so that the general command which comes to all through the preaching is always accompanied by a particular promise which is made only to those who repent and believe, i.e., the elect.

The preacher's task says Owen, is to display Christ. In this connection, Packer claims that Owen held to the ideas of an offer and invitation..43 But this is not entirely true. Owen used repeatedly the word "offer," but, as we have noticed before, it can be used in a good sense -- as many early theologians used it. He used it in the sense of Christ presented, Christ portrayed, Christ set forth in the gospel -- a meaning which comes directly from the Latin root: offere. It is also true that Owen used the word "invitation," but used it in the sense of the invitation of a king, i.e., the command comes from the King Jesus to all who hear the gospel to repent from sin and turn to Christ. Yet Packer makes a point of it that Owen pressed home the idea, so important a part of Puritan thinking, that God through Christ urges upon all sinners to believe, and does this with the tenderest of entreaties and most urgent pleas.44

These issues were also to occupy the attention of the men who were involved in the Marrow controversy. And they were of particular concern in connection with the dispute over a book called The Marrow of Modern Divinity, which was first published by Edward Fisher in 1645 and republished in 1648 or 1649. The first part of the book, the part which is of particular concern to us, is written in the form of a conversation between Neophytus, a new convert to the faith, Nomista, who represents the position of antinomianism, and Evangelista, a pastor, who speaks the views of the author and expresses what Edward Fisher considered to be the truth of Scripture. It is therefore a discussion about the relation of the gospel to antinomianism and neo-nomianism.

The book did not attract a great deal of attention when it was first published, but came to the attention of the Scottish theologians in the early part of the eighteenth century under rather interesting circumstances.

The Presbytery of the Church of Scotland called the Auchterarder Presbytery was examining a certain candidate, William Craig, for licensure to the ministry. In the course of the examination he was asked to subscribe to the statement: "I believe that it is not sound and orthodox to teach that we must forsake sin in order to our coming to Christ." To this rather strange statement and clumsily worded article of faith William Craig refused to subscribe. Put into a bit more simple language, the expression simply meant that it was heretical to teach that it is necessary to forsake sin in order to believe in Christ. Or to put it yet differently: Orthodoxy says that one can come to Christ without forsaking sin. Because he refused to subscribe to this statement, William Craig was denied licensure to the ministry and the matter came to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for resolution. The statement under question became known as "The Auchterarder Creed."

The General Assembly, after long discussion, decided: 1) that subscription could not be required of any statement but what the Assembly itself required. The Auchterarder Presbytery was reprimanded for going beyond anything that the General Assembly had required of her ministers. 2) The creed of Auchterarder was condemned as being antinomian because it taught that repentance was not necessary to come to Christ. 3) At the same time, the Assembly also warned against the evils of denying the need for holiness (antinomianism) and warned against the teaching that good works are the basis for salvation (neo-nomianism).

While the Assembly condemned the Auchterarder Creed, the Presbytery itself was not disciplined because the members of the Presbytery gave to the creed a good interpretation, namely, that one must come to Christ with his sins to obtain pardon for them; else there was no point in coming to Christ. While the Assembly accepted this interpretation, it nevertheless insisted that the creed itself was capable of an antinomian meaning and ought to be condemned.

During the course of the discussion over this matter, a delegate by the name of Thomas Boston (famous for his book, Human Nature in its Fourfold State) leaned over and whispered to John Drummond that he knew a book which answered admirably all the points which were under discussion. He referred to The Marrow of Modern Divinity that he had picked up at a friend's house and read with great enjoyment. Shortly after the Assembly concluded its meetings those who were impressed with its contents republished the book.

Because of its popularity and doubtful teachings, the book soon became the object of official scrutiny, and the contents of the book were officially treated by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1720. After study, the book was condemned on the following grounds.

1) It held that assurance was of the nature of faith.

2) It taught a universal atonement and pardon in the cross. (While this point was not specifically discussed in the book, the Assembly considered it a necessary part of the teaching of the book that the universal offer of the gospel was a warrant to each man to receive Christ. It was at this critical point that the whole question of the offer of salvation entered the discussion.)



3) It taught that holiness was not necessary to salvation.



4) It taught that the fear of punishment and the hope of reward are not allowed to be motives of obedience.



5) It held that the believer is not under the law as a rule of life.



While it is clear that the book was particularly condemned for its antinomian teaching, nevertheless, the point of major concern to us is the second point that involves the relation between the atonement of Christ and the free offer of the gospel.



There were many in the church that were dissatisfied with this condemnation of the Marrow of Modern Divinity. Twelve such men, later called "The Marrow Men," protested this action of the Assembly. These twelve included, among others, such well-known theologians as Thomas Boston, James Hog, Traill, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine. A commission was appointed to examine the question. In the course of the investigation it became evident that the "Marrow Men" had, among other things, asserted that in condemning the universal offer of salvation, the Assembly had condemned the divine commission to preach to all men salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.45 It also became evident that the Marrow Men, while denying that they taught a universal atonement, nevertheless did exactly teach that the atoning work of Christ was universal in some sense. These men distinguished between a giving of Christ in possession and a gift of Christ as warranted men to receive Him. The former was limited to the elect; the latter was offered to all. In connection with this, they maintained that while the statement, "Christ died for all" is clearly heretical; it is sound and orthodox to teach that Christ is dead for all.



The commission reported to the General Assembly in 1722 where the original decision of 1720 was maintained and the Marrow Men were once again condemned for their view.46



There have been various interpretations given to the Marrow controversy, some of which we mention here in an effort to highlight the issues which were involved.



Some have maintained that the Marrow Men were concerned with various evils that were present in the church. Among these evils was the evil of legalism that really taught a salvation on the basis of the works of the law. Also among these evils was the error of a conditional grace. Christ, so it is said, was being separated from His benefits in the preaching. The church could not offer the benefits of Christ to all because they had to know who the elect were before these benefits could be offered to them. But those who were elect could be known as elect only by the manifestation of election in their lives. Thus Christ's benefits hinged upon this manifestation of election in a holy and sanctified life. Hence, the offer was made conditional. One receives salvation only if he is elect, i.e., if he manifests election in his life and if he is assured of his election. Hence all the preaching was made conditional — conditional upon the works of sanctification, which works were the manifestation of election.



The Marrow Men, on the other hand, were interested in grace. They taught that God, moved by love to all, made a deed of gift and grant to all that whoever believed might have eternal life. This, so it was said, was the offer. This was not Arminian or Amyrauldian, but a gospel of free grace, offered freely to all, a grace which was, therefore, not conditional. The defenders of the offer were, therefore, to be considered the orthodox, while the General Assembly and the church (which had rejected the offer) were given over to the legalism of salvation dependent upon the condition of holiness.



This interpretation of the Marrow controversy is, therefore, an attempt to turn the tables: an attempt to charge those who repudiated the offer as being proponents of a conditional salvation, while the defenders of the offer were the ones who taught sovereign and free grace.



This interpretation (and defense) of the Marrow Men is false. While it is a rather interesting (though complicated) attempt to defend the Marrow Men and in this way to defend the offer, the evidence cannot support it. This is true, first of all, because the General Assembly did not teach a legalism, but specifically and concretely warned against it. Who can tell whether there were those in the church who were teaching such views? But if there were, the fact remains that the General Assembly (the same one which condemned the offer) refused to uphold this position and warned against it.



In the second place, this view is wrong because the General Assembly was never guilty of teaching a conditional salvation. This is simply a misinterpretation of their position. The orthodox did indeed insist that the promises of the gospel were for the elect alone, though they were to be publicly and universally proclaimed along with the command to repent and believe. They maintained a general proclamation of a particular promise, in the same sense as was maintained by the Dort divines.47



This has always been Biblical and Reformed, but this is by no means a conditional promise. It is certainly true that the promise of the gospel is for the elect alone. It is also true that a holy and sanctified life is the fruit of election as God works His sanctifying power in the hearts of His people through the Spirit of Christ. We may even go so far as to say that it is only in the way of a sanctified walk that the elect child of God lives in the assurance of His election in Christ. No one certainly would ever dare to say that a person can walk in sin, refuse to confess it, but nevertheless experience the electing grace of God in Christ. But this by no means implies a conditional salvation. On the contrary, it was the Marrow Men who taught a conditional salvation. For if salvation merited in the work of Christ on the cross was publicly proclaimed as being for all, the question naturally arises: How is it to be explained that not all receive it? The only answer that can possibly be given, the answer that was given by the Marrow Men, is that this salvation comes to an individual upon the condition of faith. Only those who receive it by faith become the heirs of salvation.



In the third place, the Marrow Men very clearly taught, in defense of a free offer, that the atonement of Christ, upon which the offer rests, is universal in some sense of the word. Thus the offer expressed God's universal love for all and His desire to save all. The salvation that men receive, therefore, is a salvation dependent upon man's act of faith.



McLeod48 and C.M. M'Crie49 take a slightly different position. They maintain that a certain hyper-Calvinism had come into the Church of Scotland from the Netherlands. This hyper-Calvinism had as its chief characteristic that the call of the gospel and its promises were for the elect only. The gospel does not come to a man who will not receive it because responsibility is limited to and by ability. This, according to McLeod, is essentially an Arminian position, except that the Arminians broadened the concept of ability far more than the hyper-Calvinists in the church. Hence, in opposition to this, the Marrow Men taught a universal love of God and a universal offer of the gospel. Christ belongs, therefore, to all, not in possession, but in the free offer.50



This interpretation, while presenting the position of the Marrow Men in an essentially correct way, misinterprets the history and occasion for the controversy. There are especially two errors that are made in this interpretation. In the first place, simply without any proof the idea that the promises of the gospel are limited to the elect only is branded as hyper-Calvinism. This simply is not true. And it is not true because this view is the traditional view of those theologians from the time of Calvin on who have maintained the particular character of salvation and grace. If this is hyper-Calvinism, all the fathers at Dort were hyper-Calvinists!



In the second place, it is not true that the orthodox in the Church of Scotland (or at any other time) denied that the gospel comes to all men because it does not come to a man who will not receive it. Nor did they teach that this statement is true because responsibility is limited to and by ability. The Reformed have always maintained that all men are responsible before God for their sin. This responsibility has nothing to do with ability at all. And it is exactly because of this that the command of the gospel confronts all with their obligation to forsake sin and repent at the foot of the cross. The Heidelberg Catechism addresses itself exactly to this question in Question and Answer 9. It has just made a statement concerning the total depravity of man and insisted that man is so corrupt that he is incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness, except he is regenerated by the Spirit of God. The Catechism then asks: "Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?" And the answer is: "Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own willful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts."



The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia in its pamphlet, Universalism and the Reformed Churches, presents a third interpretation, which is also the correct one. This pamphlet maintains that the Marrow controversy was a direct result of the Davenant view of the atonement and the offer, which view continued to be taught in the churches in Britain because the Westminster Assembly did not specifically condemn it. 51 This weakness of the Westminster Confession was corrected by the Church of Scotland in its condemnation of the Marrow Men in 1720 and 1722. The Marrow Men taught, according to this pamphlet, a modified Calvinism, which has been the scourge of the church to the present.



The point in the Marrow controversy that particularly concerns us has to do with the nature of the preaching of the gospel. We must understand that the controversy arose in connection with a view of preaching which was fairly common in Britain especially among some of the Puritans. Already in the latter half of the sixteenth century, the Puritans opposed the partial reformation and worldliness in the State Churches. In their opposition to these weaknesses, they tended to stress strongly the subjective elements in the Christian life, and the stress on these subjective elements led to a certain view of preaching which was found in many pulpits.



The following elements especially were included in that view:



In the first place, the Puritans stressed that it was important to preach the law, for this was a means which God used to prepare men for true conversion. While the

Puritans themselves did not completely agree on this and there was a certain development among the Puritans on this matter, some of the later Puritans especially taught that the preaching of the law was accompanied by certain gracious influences of God in the hearts of the unregenerate which God used to bring men to know their sins and recognize themselves as sinners. The preaching of the law was, therefore, accompanied by a certain preparatory grace that was to be sharply distinguished from saving grace. This preparatory grace was given to all who heard the preaching, but did not in itself save. It was necessary to salvation, but did not in itself guarantee salvation. It wrought in the hearer a certain conviction of sin under which a person could labor for a long time, burdened with sin and guilt, troubled by a conscience which plagued him incessantly, and which moved him to seek relief from the grief which his sins brought about.52




Boston, e.g., in his book, Human Nature in its Fourfold State, distinguished between an awakening grace and a converting grace. Sometimes these people who labored under the conviction of sin were called “seekers” to emphasize that they were earnestly seeking relief from their anguished grief over sin and looking for that which would bring peace to their hearts. In this state they were enabled to pray even for regeneration and conversion; they were able to go to church to hear the gospel as it presented Christ Who had come to save from sin. But, although this seeking could go on for years, yet it could ultimately result in nothing so that the seeker himself would go lost. 53



The Canons of Dort have something to say about this matter in III & IV, B, 4:



…the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: that the unregenerate man is not really nor utterly dead in sin, nor destitute of all powers unto spiritual good, but that he can yet hunger and thirst after righteousness and life, and offer the sacrifice of a contrite and broken spirit, which is pleasing to God. For these are contrary to the express testimony of Scripture., "Ye were dead through trespasses and sins," Eph. 1:1, and: "Every imagination of the thought of his heart are only evil continually," Gen. 6:5, 8:21.



Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from misery, and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken spirit, is peculiar to the regenerate and those that are called blessed, Ps. 51:10,19; Matt. 5:6.



While the Dort theologians were addressing the Arminian error, which was slightly different from the error described above, nevertheless, it is striking that there is certainly a clear similarity. Both the Puritans and the Arminians ascribed these actions which the article mentions to the unregenerate; and both the Arminians and the Puritans explained these actions by a certain grace of God which was given to all who hear the gospel. Basically, therefore, this view of the Puritans stands condemned by the Canons of Dort.



In the second place, it was to this spiritual state of many that the preaching was addressed. Some have called the Puritans the world's greatest psychologists, and there is a certain element of truth to this. The preaching was often described in terms of an offer in order to encourage those who were under the conviction of sin to embrace the gospel. Through the preaching, God's mercy was portrayed with the intention of disarming the most alienated mind of his suspicions and to relieve the most troubled spirit of his fears. It was intended to assure the hearers that no sinner had sunk beyond the reach of mercy and no sins were so great that they were beyond forgiveness. Thus earnest entreaties and tender remonstrances were necessary to bring the sinner to Christ. 54



This idea led in turn to various distinctions. On the one hand, distinctions arose between various degrees of "seeking". There were those who had a felt need, who hungered and thirsted, who were weary and heavy laden, etc.; and there were those who had not even progressed this far. The first were under far more serious obligations than the second. There were also various degrees in the conviction of sin. The question often arose whether a sinner was truly and sufficiently under the conviction of sin, or whether his conviction was only apparent and not a genuine matter of the heart. On the other hand, there were distinctions made between the assurance of faith. A sinner might, e.g., neither presume to be an elect, nor might he conclude that he was not. And the assurance that he was an elect went through various stages until he stood in the full assurance of his salvation in Christ. 55



What did all this have to do with the idea of the offer?



The word "offer" had been used frequently prior to the Marrow controversy. It is found, as we noticed, in the Westminster Confession; it was used by John Owen and other Puritan divines. But usually it meant the setting forth of Christ as the One Who had come as the Savior from sin. But as the need for pressing home upon the sinner convicted of sin, the sufficiency of the cross of Christ, the idea shifted to that proposed by the Marrow Men. And so they began to teach that no man need doubt this warrant to receive the Savior's blessings. Everyone who hears the preaching has a warrant to receive and embrace the gospel. No man living has a warrant to refuse. God expressed in the gospel His desire to save all. And, it was believed, this was the only way in which the gospel could be pressed home upon the sinner convicted of sin.



This was somewhat understandable. The unregenerate sinner, who under the preaching of the law, had been convicted of sin, who cried out for relief from the oppression of sin and guilt, had to be assured that Christ wanted his salvation and that the gospel, which presented Christ crucified, was indeed directed to him.



It was precisely this emphasis that led to a certain universality of the atonement.



The original passages in the Marrow of Modern Divinity which had come under the scrutiny of the General Assembly read as follows:



God their Father, as He is in His Son Jesus Christ, moved with nothing but His free love to mankind lost, hath made a deed of gift and grant unto them all, that whosoever of them all shall believe in this His Son shall not perish, but have eternal life.



Go and tell every man without exception that here are good news for him; Christ is dead for him, and if he will take Him and accept His righteousness he shall have Him.56



C. G. M'Crie says that the Marrow maintained that "Gospel giving is not giving into possession, but giving by way of offer. 57 M’Crie also says that in 1742 these men expressed themselves in these words: "There is a revelation of the Divine will in the Word, affording a warrant to offer Christ unto all mankind without exception, and a warrant to all freely to receive Him, however great sinners they are or have been." 58



A. A. Hodge defines the issues in the Marrow controversy very clearly. He says that the Marrow Men spoke of a double reference of the atonement. Their desire was to establish "the warrant of faith." The atonement thus had a designed general reference to all sinners of mankind as such. Christ did not die for all so as to save all, but he is dead for all, i.e., available for all sinners if they will receive him. Thus God, out of general philanthropy for all sinners made a deed of gift of Christ and of the benefits of His redemption to all indifferently to be claimed upon the condition of faith. This is God's giving love in distinction from His electing love. Thus the Marrow Men held to a general and a particular love.



Hodge further explains the views of the Marrow Men as including the idea that the deed of gift or grant of Christ is not itself the general offer, but is the foundation of the general offer upon which the offer rests. This grant is real, universal, an expression of love, conditioned by faith. The warrant upon which the faith of every believer rests and by which faith is justified is this deed of gift. 59



W. Cunningham defines the preaching which characterized the Marrow Men in the following words:



(It proclaims) the glad tidings of salvation to all men indiscriminately, without any distinction, setting forth without hesitation or qualification, the fullness and freeness of the gospel offers and invitations - of inviting, encouraging and requiring every descendant of Adam with whom they come into contact, to come to Christ and lay hold of Him, with the assurance that those who come to Him He will in no wise reject. 60



Guthrie says of the Marrow:



That though none cordially close with God in Christ Jesus, and acquiesces in that ransom found out by God, except such as are elected, and whose heart the Lord doth sovereignly determine to that blessed choice, yet the Lord has left it as a duty upon people who hear his Gospel to close with the offer of salvation, as if it were in their power to do it. 61



From all this, the central issues in the Marrow controversy are clear.

In the first place, the idea of preaching as generally taught involved a conception of conversion and faith different from historical Reformed theology. Conversion in the line of the covenant is essentially no different from conversion when it is effected among the unchurched. It took place later in life and not in infancy, and it was preceded by a conviction of sin that was not the work of saving grace, but resulted from the preaching and an accompanying preparatory grace. It brought a man into a state of conviction in which he hungered and thirsted for righteousness and sought escape from the burden of sin and guilt that afflicted his tortured conscience.



By this view of preparatory grace, a certain common grace was introduced into the thinking of the church and was made responsible for acts in the unregenerate that Scripture assigns only to the regenerate child of God.



In the second place, the Marrow Men spoke of the offer as necessary to the troubled sinner that he could have no reason why he should not come to Christ. The offer was not merely the proclamation that set forth Christ as the God-ordained way of salvation. The offer was a "warrant" to believe in Christ. The Marrow Men wanted to press home the demands of faith not only, but to do this by giving to everyone the right to believe in Christ. Everyone had not only the obligation to believe, but also the right. In this way they thought to urge upon sinners the blessedness of finding salvation from sin in Christ. Thus the offer expressed God's earnest desire to save all. It revealed God's intention to make all partakers of Christ. It spoke of God's love that extended to all.



In the third place, this necessarily involved a conception of the atonement. By their distinction between the statements, "Christ died for all" and "Christ is dead for all," they gave a certain universality to the atonement; for though they denied the former statement, they maintained the latter. The atonement was not only sufficient for all, but it was intended for all by God, for it was a manifestation of a universal love of God for all. It thus established the warrant for all to believe; and in this way it was also made available for all.



In the fourth place, this all involved a certain view of predestination that was essentially Amyrauldian. The counsel of God with respect to predestination contained a determinative decree and a hypothetical decree. The former belonged to God's secret will and the latter to God's revealed will. It was especially the latter that was proclaimed through the preaching. But the revealed will of God expressed God's will as desiring the salvation of all who hear the gospel.



Finally, all this in turn introduced a conditional salvation into the work of God. The Marrow Men claimed that by making this salvation conditioned upon faith, they in fact made the work of salvation particular because only the elect actually came to faith. But the fact is that the whole work of salvation was made dependent upon man's work of faith (even though the Marrow Men denied this), because one had to explain how only some were saved when in fact God desired the salvation of all, earnestly urged all to come to Christ, and provided an atonement which was sufficient for all, intended for all and available to all, In fact, this atonement was the warrant for a man to believe and gave him the right to come unhesitatingly to Christ. Why then do not all come? They do not all come because they do not all exercise saving faith.



It is true that the Marrow Men taught that saving faith was worked in the hearts of the elect of God. And it was in this way that they hoped to escape the charge of Arminianism. But this will not work. And it will not work for two reasons. In the first place, how is it to be explained that God on the one hand desires to save all and expressed this desire in the preaching of the gospel; and on the other hand actually gives faith and saves only a select few? The Marrow Men, as the Amyrauldians before them, resorted to a distinction in the will of God to make this plain, but such a distinction sets God in opposition to Himself as being One Who on the one hand desires to save all, and on the other hand, desires to save only some. In the second place, by making faith the condition of salvation, faith is set outside the work of salvation. If it is true that God desires to save all, but that only such are saved who actually believe, then it is also true that the blessings of salvation are dependent upon faith. Then faith is not one of the blessings of salvation, but is a condition to salvation. One cannot have it both ways. Faith is either the one or the other. It is either part of salvation or a condition to salvation; but both it cannot be. In separating faith from the benefits of salvation, as they had necessarily to do, the Marrow Men made faith the work of man. No pious talk of faith as the work of God would alter this fundamental truth.



The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia is correct, when it finds these "ambiguities" in Marrow thought:



1. "Christ has taken upon Him the sins of all men" and being a "deed of gift and grant unto all mankind" is not a universal purchase of the death of Christ, therefore it logically follows that -



2. the saving deed of gift and grant of Christ to all mankind is effective only to the elect, i.e., an infallible redemption gifted to all secures only a portion of its objects.



3. "A deed of gift and grant to all is only an offer." In other words Christ is gifted to all, without that He died for them.



4. Since the gift of Christ to all is not a benefit purchased by the atonement, the substance of the free offer of the gospel does not consist of Christ as Redeemer, but only as a Friend. 62



The Marrow Men were rightly condemned by the General Assemblies of the Scottish churches. They had attempted to introduce into the church ideas that were foreign to the historic faith of Calvinism and had attempted to bring the church into an Amyrauldian theological position. That the Marrow Men could have had such influence on subsequent Presbyterian thought is hard to understand, especially in the light of the fact that their views stand condemned by the church. Those Presbyterians who have their roots in the Scottish churches ought to take note of the fact that, insofar as they teach the offer as maintained by the Marrow Men, they run contrary to their own adopted theological position.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Further to the Marrow men, and heresy, this is a heretical statement from Ebenezer Erskine in this sermon. Because God never lets go of His justice. His justice must be satisfied. And Christ died for our sins to make full and complete satisfaction on the cross for the sins of those given to Him by the Father:

http://www.puritansermons.com/erskine/eerskin06.htm

3. God in Christ is a God sitting upon a throne of grace: and does not this say, that God is love? God has a threefold throne, —a throne of glory, a throne of justice, and a throne of grace. The first of these, his throne of glory, is so bright, that it dazzles the eyes of angels, and they cover their faces with their wings when they approach it. The second, namely, his throne of justice, is clothed with red vengeance; and it is so terrible, that the most holy saints tremble when they behold it, "If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? In thy sight shall no man living be justified." And because we were not able to stand here, he has erected another throne, namely, a throne of grace, from whence he issues out acts of grace and mercy to guilty sinners; and so soon as he is seen sitting upon his throne, he is taken up as a God of love; and upon this the poor sinner, that was trembling at the thoughts of being cited before the throne of justice, flees for his life to the throne of grace, saying with the apostle, Heb. 4:16: "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Further to the Marrow men, and heresy, this is a heretical statement from Ebenezer Erskine in this sermon. Because God never lets go of His justice. His justice must be satisfied. And Christ died for our sins to make full and complete satisfaction on the cross for the sins of those given to Him by the Father:

http://www.puritansermons.com/erskine/eerskin06.htm

What is heretical about Erskine's statement?
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
that he might invite all mankind to repentance
God does in deed invite/command/call all to repent.

"Not willing that any should perish". So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved...


I do not think he is correct here. Turretin nor Owen would either.

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.
In the gospel God declares what? Canon 3/4, viii: "For seriously and most genuinely God makes known in his Word what is pleasing to him: that those who are called should come to him." So if here Calvin taught that his not willing that any should perish was in fact his willing they should heed the call as God's will of command then there is no problem. But he should have worded himself better.

If you disagree with these two loves, argue with Calvin.
When was Calvin the test of orthodoxy? We ought to develop his doctrines systematically and conform them closer to the Scriptures. The Puritans built upon Calvin developing his doctrine, so like wise we ought do the same.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Sorry, Pastor Lewis, but you are being just slightly ingeneous. Was reading your blog, and a certain part of Calvin's commentary has been deleted:

on Rom 1:16
If you will recall, the posts were to display that Calvin did teach a universal offer. If I was doing what you are inferring by the charge of being ingeneous (sp?- you could be calling me 3 things by this "ingenuous", "ingenious" or even disingenuous), why on earth would I quote Calvin in Institutes 3:3:21? "God indeed declares, that he would have all men to repent, and addresses exhortations in common to all; their efficacy, however, depends on the Spirit of regeneration." The fact that I omitted certain parts was for simple brevity, and took nothing away from the force of Calvin's words. You are dancing here:banana:, nothing more.



Noting here, that a savor of death to the ungodly is hardly to them the sweet savor of an offer of grace. Also, considering offer, from the Latin root, is meant in the sense of 'displaying'.
Do you think Bert, that by your insisting that the Latin word for "offer" means "display" is new to me? The word "offer" takes nothing away from the thrust of Calvin's own words but enhances them! Calvin interchanges the word "offer" with the word "invites", ("Since then the gospel invites all to partake of salvation without any difference"- from your translation!), he is proclaiming that very thing that you are decrying. How do you deal with that brother? Calvin is too clear on these points. You can squabble over Latin words if you like but the truth of the matter is Calvin taught a universal offer and a general love.



This is how my commentary readson Rom 5:18:
There are a few translation that we could use, but for the sake of argument, and because I have no bone to pick with which translation is used, lets quote from your source and examine the contrents...

"He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him."

In the PRC, is this common favour taught? Is this favour really "propounded to all" Bert? Is Calvin right when he says that salvation is "offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him."?


Inst 3:3:21:
Dont see any offer in this, just proclamation of the Gospel.
What?! Do you think that by drowning out the actual words with the whole quote from 3:3:21 will take away the fact that John Calvin states "Indeed, God declares that he wills the conversion of all, and he directs exhortations to all in common. Yet the efficacy of this depends upon the Spirit of regeneration."

Mercy is offered to all who desire it? Offer of grace to all hearers?
Look Bert, argue with Calvin, not me these are his words not mine, "Therefore, since God’s mercy is offered to both sorts of men through the gospel, it is faith—the illumination of God—that distinguishes between pious and impious, so that the former feel the working of the gospel, while the latter derive no profit from it. 3:24:17"

Further, Calvin on the same passage,

"For however universal the promises of salvation may be, they are still in no respect inconsistent with the predestination of the reprobate, provided we pay attention to their effect. When we receive the promises in faith, we know that then and only then do they become effective in us. On the contrary, when faith is snuffed out, the promise is abolished at the same time. If this is their nature, let us see whether they disagree with one another. God is said to have ordained from eternity those whom he wills to embrace in love, and those upon whom he wills to vent his wrath. Yet he announces salvation to all men indiscriminately. I maintain that these statements agree perfectly with each other."

You say there is no universal offer in Calvin? I say you read Calvin through 1924 and H. Hoeksema.

Do we need more arguments that Calvin did not preach a "universal offer of grace to all hearers"?
I have not seen one argument yet brother.

I'd very much like your thoughts on Calvin here.

" The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. " 2 Peter 3:9

But the Lord is not slack, or, delays not. He checks extreme and unreasonable haste by another reason, that is, that the Lord defers his coming that he might invite all mankind to repentance. For our minds are always prurient, and a doubt often creeps in, why he does not come sooner. But when we hear that the Lord, in delaying, shews a concern for our salvation, and that he defers the time because he has a care for us, there is no reason why we should any longer complain of tardiness. He is tardy who allows an occasion to pass by through slothfulness: there is nothing like this in God, who in the best manner regulates time to promote our salvation. And as to the duration of the whole world, we must think exactly the same as of the life of every individual; for God by prolonging time to each, sustains him that he may repent. In the like manner he does not hasten the end of the world, in order to give to all time to repent.

This is a very necessary admonition, so that we may learn to employ time a right, as we shall otherwise suffer a just punishment for our idleness. "Not willing that any should perish". 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 the order is to be noticed, that God is ready to receive all to repentance, so that none may perish; for in these words the way and manner of obtaining salvation is pointed out. Every one of us, therefore, who is desirous of salvation, must learn to enter in by this way.

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. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world. But as the verb chōreō is often taken passively by the Greeks, no less suitable to this passage is the verb which I have put in the margin, that God would have all, who had been before wandering and scattered, to be gathered or come together to repentance.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Very easy to do, is it not? Insisting Calvin taught a general well meant offer? I maintain that Calvin did nothing of the sort. Glasses of Rev. Hoeksema and 1924? Not at all. Namely, I grew up, not in the PRC, but in the Reformed Congregations. As a child was introduced there to the same dogmatic gymnastics. The split between the Reformed Congregations and the Netherlands Reformed in 1953.

And the preaching of grace, not some inpotent offer, is the line of the churchfathers. Of Augustine, of Luther and Calvin, although they did not specifically address the issue. Of the fathers of Dordt.

You would have a sovereign Lord offer salvation to dead sinners? Can we resist God's will?

But God does not offer. He proclaims, through the means of the preaching, his free and complete Gospel of salvation to His people. Nothing of us, all of Christ. Because if we had to depend on an offer, we would still be in our sins.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
But God does not offer. He proclaims, through the means of the preaching, his free and complete Gospel of salvation to His people. Nothing of us, all of Christ. Because if we had to depend on an offer, we would still be in our sins.
:amen: brother :amen:
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Very easy to do, is it not? Insisting Calvin taught a general well meant offer? I maintain that Calvin did nothing of the sort. Glasses of Rev. Hoeksema and 1924? Not at all. Namely, I grew up, not in the PRC, but in the Reformed Congregations. As a child was introduced there to the same dogmatic gymnastics. The split between the Reformed Congregations and the Netherlands Reformed in 1953.
It is easy brother, because he did teach it as 2 Peter 3:9 indicates (among many others). Agree or disagree with Calvin on this fact is not my point (I happen to think Calvin missed the point of context myself on 2 Peter 3:9). My point IS that the PRC in no place deals with the plain facts of Calvin. This is all I'm saying. The sieve of their brand of Supralapsarianism has left a biblical-theological chasm for many texts that are filled with word-play and inherent propensity to rationalism. Let the text speak! I say wherever we find these texts they need to be understood in their anthropromorphic sense in relation to the whole counsel of Scripture, not simply to Romans 9. We do not believe that there is some great contradiction in God's will. God does not desire the salvation of those that are forever lost. However, to leave men without excuse the LORD comes to all hearers with the universal call. Don't confuse me with the Murray/Stonehouse group that say that God desires the salvation of those he has left in their sins. This is the general broad brush that all opponents of the well meant offer are painted with. What I am saying is the language of the Word, and subsequently of Calvin, is that God has a general love for the human race that will terminate on the reprobate. It is a non-calvific love according to the decree that differs from the salvific love for the elect.

This is where I believe you are missing the point. I see here in Calvin a nondiscriminating love that is not salvific for the reprobate. It is a lesser love than the love for the elect, and would seem to terminate upon the temporal object of wrath. Calvin indicates that this is not an ardent and eternal love for those who are not elect, but a temporal condescending love found in His own (albeit marred) image in them. It is a love nonetheless.

You would have a sovereign Lord offer salvation to dead sinners? Can we resist God's will?

But God does not offer. He proclaims, through the means of the preaching, his free and complete Gospel of salvation to His people. Nothing of us, all of Christ. Because if we had to depend on an offer, we would still be in our sins.
Says you and the PRC. The Word and history say different. This is why the PRC is deemed hyper in so many eyes; a denial of the well meant offer, EVEN, though God has not decreed the salvation to all, desperately afraid of some eternal contradiction in God. The PRC needs to stop looking at everything through the disaffected glasses of the CRC tumult.
Calvin taught the free offer, he taught a general non saving love, so did the Puritans, and the Westminster Divines, and all sound and orthodox Christians.

You err on Turretin like you err on Calvin brother. How much have you read on either I would ask? Here is Turretin on the Offer as well as the will of God, election and reprobation.

"He, who by calling men shows that he wills their salvation and yet does not will it, acts deceitfully, if it is understood of the same will (i.e., if he shows that he wills that by the will of decree and yet does not will it; or by the will of precept and yet does not will it). But if it refers to diverse wills, the reasoning does not equally hold good. For example, if he shows that he wills a thing by the will of precept and yet does not will it by the will of decree, there is no simulation or hypocrisy here (as in prescribing the law to men, he shows that he wills they should fulfill it as to approbation and command, but not immediately as to decree). Now in calling God indeed shows that he wills the salvation of the called by the will of precept and good pleasure (euarestias), but not by the will of decree. For calling shows what God wills man should do, but not what he himself had decreed to do. It teaches what is pleasing and acceptable to God and in accordance with his own nature (namely, that the called should come to him); but not what he himself has determined to do concerning man. It signifies what God is prepared to give believers and penitents, but not what he has actually decreed to give to this or that person.

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 makes 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.

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” (Luke 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.”

Turretin is smack on!
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Jerrold, your comments are extremely helpful to me. Have you written any more on this?

And I think the Marrow Men are also wrongly misread and falsely accused in the above article by Hanko. First of all, one has only to read the book to understand that the accusations of the GA in that time were in the very least misinformed. It's impossible to call that book antinomian when over half the book was an exposition of the 10 commandments. Also, there teaching of the free offer was the same as quoted in Calvin and Turretin above. Even that phrase "Christ is dead for you" is careful explained by Boston in the notes to show that no Amyraldian meaning was intended.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Hello Patrick,

I am planning on critiquing Hoeksema on the Covenant (I'm reading through his Reformed Dogmatics right now), as well as Hanko's treatment of the Marrow Controversy. I would imagine some of this will be ready in the next few months on my blog.
You are bang on when you say that the MM used the language of Calvin. The book(which is heavily criticized by the PRC) is a monument to Biblical Calvinism.

Blessings!
 
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