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Feb 21, 2011

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Tom Parker

Peter,

Your obsession with Dr. White is showing.

peter

Dear Tom,

Stop looking.

With that, I am...
Peter

Roy

@Tom,

That sounds like an ad hominem attack to me. As TF says, REPENT!!!!

I know this will probably fall on deaf ears, but your lord and master, Mr. White, is about as much of a "Dr." as Dr. Pepper is.

You can have your own opinion, but you can't have your own facts.

Wyman Richardson

Tom,

Yep.

(And I'm not a big fan of JW.)

Wyman Richardson

peter

Dear Wyman,

Hello.  Seems like the last time I put up a little cartoon on JW, you did not appreciate it either.  On my Spike & Little Chester cartoon, you wrote,:

“Peter, I don't think I've ever posted a comment here, and I'm reasonably sure I won't be posting anymore after this, but I must say that the only thing possibly sadder than the level and quality of discourse this site has sunk to is the amount of time I invested in stopping by. Really, has it come to this? To each their own, I guess. Now on with your dismissal of my dismissal. :-) With that, I am... Wyman Richardson

So, I suppose you being “reasonably sure” you wouldn’t be back was not so reasonably sure after all, ah?

Now, do you or do you not agree with White’s misogynist language?

With that, I am…

Peter    

Ray

Fans of Dok White,

I'm not even a Lumpkins fan but good heavens, don't attack Peter with ad hominems! Interact with his material (more specifically this video). Where is the video in error?

I haven't seen the video myself but I'll take your word for it. so, if you do feel this video is in error, ask yourself; "have i prayed for Peter Lumpkins today?"

put down your weapons, your torches and pitchforks purchase his books and interact with those. hold them, read them, eat them and buy more. rinse and repeat.


My Utmost For His Highest,

- lumpkinsFan

Wyman Richardson

Peter,

Ah, yes, true enough, but you followed up that comment with, "It saddens me you won't be stopping by," and I do so hate to sadden a brother.

But you are correct: coming back does, in fact, reveal a crack in my aspirations for reasonableness. We all have lapses in judgment, though, don't we?

No, I do NOT agree with White's language. At all. As I said, I'm not a big fan. I condemn it wholeheartedly with no wavering.

Misogynist language is no more conducive to Christian discourse or the cultivation of Christian character than myopic fetishes with those with whom we disagree or dislike, and I trust you'll appreciate my consistency in condemning both alike, possibly even learning a bit from the latter as you condemn the former.

Now, back to reason and resolve, if only for a spell.

I wish you well.

Pax vobiscum,
Wyman

peter

Dear Wyman,

Excellent!

Have a great afternoon.

With that, I am...
Peter

P.S. Should I create another cartoon I shall anticipate your participation in the sad-laden thread ;^)

Tom Parker

Wyman:

You said:"Yep.

(And I'm not a big fan of JW.)

Wyman Richardson"

Thanks. When someone posts about the same issue over and over that qualifies as obsessed.

peter

Dear Tom,

If one looks at my blog, I have posted a total of 719 posts, 39 of which have the tag, "James White." My calculation brings that to 5.42%. You are exactly right. I am obsessed with JW.

With that, I am...
\Peter

peter

BTW, Tom,

Correct me if I am wrong but I cannot find a single comment you've logged on SBC Tomorrow which does not deal with personalities rather than substance. IOW, you come here to talk about people not positions. Now if you can point me to some comments where you actually engage the idea--pro or con--I'll be glad to correct my position.

Know that, in light of such dismal averages, not to mention your obsession with blasting people but not engaging ideas--your exact words were "When someone posts about the same issue over and over that qualifies as obsessed" (emphasis mine)--you'd better log some substance pretty quickly to get your GPA up a couple of notches or so, or else lose your name in print at SBC Tomorrow.

The fact is, since good old Wade shut his blog down, you and your fellow personality flamers have few options to log your routine insults toward everybody, including their aunts and distant cousins.

Anyways, this will be the sole caution you receive.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter

Dear "Steve"

I have a lot to say. And, I will post your comment if you will be man enough to post your real identity. After all, we may want to give you an award as well.

With that, I am...
Peter

P.S. Unless, of course, your real name is "Digg A. Donkey"

Roy

@Tom,

Dr. Pepper(James White) and his attack dogs have posted lots of articles attacking Peter and others. Does that mean they are obsessed?

OF COURSE NOT! All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Keep it up, Peter! You are standing up against a bully that others have refused to!

Tom Parker

Peter:

Surely your comments never get into personalities. You are a funny man, Peter.

Thanks for the humor, I needed some.


peter

And, you are most welcome, Tom.
Of course, the issue is not that one possesses a perfect record concerning personalities. Rather, my point was one would be hard-pressed to find any--any--comment where you engaged an idea not a personality. And, I challenge you or another to prove me wrong.

With that, I am...
Peter

Jesse Toler

In less than a few hundred words, White calls Lumpkins:

Vile
Shallow
Loony
Dishonest
Sad

Then, White goes on to declare that he is the heir to the prophetic office of Isaiah and Jeremiah and chellenging all the falsehoods of his critics. Listenig to White isn't at all necessary. Just look at the artwork on is website for a look into his mind.

Tony Byrne

Hi Peter,

Your above video seems to assert the following 10 propositions about White:

1) White takes "world" in John 3:16 to mean the "elect" [0:57].
2) White thinks the "elect" "world" are "Calvinists" [1:05].
3) White thinks "God loves the world" is equivalent to "God loves the Calvinist" [1:15].
4) White thinks "all Calvinists go to heaven" [1:37].
5) White thinks that if one is not a Calvinist, one will "burn in hell." [1:48].
6) White thinks there is nothing these non-Calvinists can do about it [2:06].
7) White thinks point #5 and point # 6 are "all for the glory of God" [2:10].
8) White thinks these non-Calvinists (the "you"?) were created for hell [2:13].
9) White thinks elect babies go to heaven (the sense of "lives"?) and all other babies go to hell (the sense of "die"?) [2:17].
10) God only loves the little elect [2:21].

Which of these 10 propositions do you think White maintains? N.B: To clarify, I am not asking what one may think his beliefs entail, but rather what he himself maintains as true. Is it all 10 propositions? Or just some of the 10? If only some, which ones? Or is it all just in humor as a caricature?

Thanks,
Tony

Tony Byrne

Also, with respect to my questions about White's view of "love," one may need to distinguish between three kinds, even if they think the distinction is superficial:

Redeeming love = the kind of love involved in Jesus actually suffering for the sins of that person.

Saving love = the kind of love that seeks and desires to save, but stops short of Jesus dying for the sins of that person.

Providential love = the kind of love that is merely providential, and does not involve Jesus dying for the sins of the person, or God desiring the salvation of that person in the revealed will.

I am not necessarily endorsing the three-fold distinction above, but it becomes necessary to make distinctions between certain kinds of self-described Calvinists (i.e., moderates, high, and Gillite hypers).

peter

Tony,

A couple of things. First, I did not put the little cartoon together in an effort to make explicit propositions about White's beliefs--at least in the way your list of propositions are stated. Indeed my first reaction is, you're attempting to over-analyze a communication medium obviously meant to exaggerate. Not that I had no truth in mind I intended to communicate. Nor did I mean to project an exact parallel with White's theology at :57, 1:37, etc. etc. any more than say a biblical parable should be interpreted as explicitly teaching a particular theological truth at every twist and turn. In addition, the cartoon was also designed to solicit entertainment (albeit not all don't appreciate either satire, irony, or spoof I must admit).

With that in mind, perhaps the closest "idea(s)" in your list which gave the overall impression I intended was some combination of one, two and three which basically boils down to God's saving love being available exclusively to the elect and the elect alone. All the other "twists" in the cartoon I think can be found in some form within High Calvinism, the extremity of which is found in James White's brand.

As for the three loves and the distinctions made between them, I have to tell you, while I appreciate thinking clearly as much as anybody, and do believe that many times making razor-thin distinctions means the difference even between good thinking and great thinking, I'm not overly-impressed with Calvinists' parsing up the love of God so neatly. Why do I say that? Simple. In the end, there's no real utility talking about any other "type" of God's love than God's saving love in Jesus Christ. At least that's my take on it.

Thanks.

With that, I am...
Peter

Ray

Peter,


"I'm not overly-impressed with Calvinists' parsing up the love of God so neatly."


I see this with how they parse God's will too. Why parse God's will up so much to make reformed theology work? it takes so many contortions and theological gymnastics to make Beza's flavor of calvinism to work. Thats why I stopped being a calvinist and started being a christian (NO I AM NOT SAYING CALVINISTS ARE NOT CHRISTIAN).

While there may be a bit of hyperbole in your video, I have seen Tony's list of propositions represented in white's material somewhere or another too (:57 is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFZjsfaO2kc)

i think 1:37 shows its face in him calling his non-calvinist christian critics as "un-regenerate".

Tony Byrne

Thanks for the reply, Peter.

I don't think the problem is that I am "over-analyzing" the content of the video, but that I am analyzing it at all. All 10 propositions I listed above are gathered from the direct words in the video, which are in propositional form. The only propositions that is definitely true is #9, but he would quickly talk about our ignorance in that area. Proposition #1 may be true, if he follows Owen, but he may retreat in to something ambiguous, like "humanity" in the abstract, or "creation." His usual method is to jump to "the believing ones," in order to bring up the elect, as if all of that delimits the "world." None of the other propositions conveyed in the video accurately describe White's own beliefs.

Here's the reason why I brought up the love distinctions: If one is going to talk about White's view of God's attitude toward the non-elect, whether adults or not, and if it involves some sense of love, one will have to say White does think God loves the non-elect. He recently affirmed that on a Dividing Line when discussing the rich young ruler, and others who may have perished. Clearly he does not think Christ satisfied for the sins of any of these non-elect people, so it is not a "redeeming" love in that sense. Then we ask, "does White think that God desires the salvation of any who are non-elect?" His answers so far are incoherent, and he argues against any interpretation of a passage brought up to make that affirmation, even by Calvinists in the traditional sense [i.e. in the revealed will]. One is left with the impression that he only affirms what John Gill affirmed, namely that God only loves the non-elect physically in this world, by giving them providential bounties, not that God desires the eternal salvation of any who receive such graces.

With respect to God's attitude toward the non-elect, White is wobbling between Gill's view [mere providential love] and High Calvinism [a love that seeks to eternally save but does not give Christ to satisfy]. His friends, such as Tom Ascol, Phil Johnson and leaders in the Reformed Baptist camp, are with C. H. Spurgeon and John Murray. For the sake of his ministry, he cannot alienate these people. On the other hand, he cannot theoretically understand how these men can believe what they do about divine love and yet maintain that Christ only died for the sins of the elect. This is why he rhetorically asked on the Dividing Line, "...what does it mean to say that God desires to do something he then does not provide the means to do? What does that mean? And no one's ever been able to tell me." In other words, what does it mean to say that God desires the salvation of the non-elect when he has not given Christ to satisfy for their sins? White has that theoretical problem lurking in his mind as well.

So what does White do? He lays low and stays quiet about these specific and important details about divine love. Speaking up with clarity will only cause problems. Plus, he knows his Spurgeonite/Murrayite friends [Johnson and Ascol, for example] will circle the wagons and protect him either way, even if he has Gillite views of divine love. Politics trumps theological clarity and disclosure on the issue. He also avoids direct and documentable conversations with people like me, who engage in this kind of "over-analysis" :-)

Anyway, that's why I brought up the three-fold love distinction. It's necessary, unfortunately, to talk about when discussing White's view of divine love. Personally, I am content with distinguishing between electing and non-electing love, as well as the old distinction between love of benevolence and love of complacence. Anyone who interprets the bible Calvinistically must make the first distinction, and anyone who is reads the New Testament on any orthodox system must make the latter distinction.

Tony Byrne

Ray,

Just for the record, I didn't get any of my above material from White, if that is something you are implying [I don't know if you are]. I watched Peter's video before I typed the propositions myself, without anyone's input. Also, my lengthy comment above [when Peter allows it] will explain why I brought it up.

peter

Tony,

Thanks for the lengthy reply. You write, "None of the other propositions conveyed in the video accurately describe White's own beliefs" (embolden mine). Did you expect them to since, as I said, the entire premise of the cartoon is exaggeration (which is why satire is entertaining). One simply cannot look at a medium like this and attempt to "accurately" glean precise theological propositions. I had a lengthy exchange with White supporters on a similar point when I first posted the video several months ago.

Even so, I think there's much in the video reminiscent of White's view (or at least implied) in particular and High Calvinism in general (or at least implied).

With that, I am...
Peter

Ray

Tony,

I get you, and I wasn't implying anything like that. Btw, ive seen you around before and I enjoy your blog.

I think you're correct in recognising white's teetering position. but i dont see his stance on Proposition #1 as even possibly being ambiguous, it's crystal clear to me that he reads 3:16 like a hyper-calvinist, the video i linked shows as much.

Tony Byrne

Ray,

It seems obvious to me that "world" in John 3:16 is talking about people, but there are some Calvinists who are quite vague on what they mean. Warfield, for example, takes it as "humanity," but he means eschatological humanity, i.e. all the redeemed elect. Weird? Yes, but that's one view. John Piper and John MacArthur also take "world" in John 3:16 to mean "humanity," but it is not clear what they mean. It seems like an abstract class, not necessarily all the particular people in that class, head for head. Don't ask me what that means. I don't know either, but that's the sort of thing they are saying in order to avoid the embarrassing Owenic view that "world" means "elect" in that verse. Then there are Calvinists, such as myself, who take "world" as meaning all living apostate humanity. That seems to be intuitively obvious, which is one reason why D. A. Carson is on record saying, "let no one deceive you in to thinking that world means the elect in that verse." Ultimately, I think the only choices are all living apostate humanity and the elect. I think White wants to avoid Owen's strange reading of that verse so I think he wants to try something vague, like "humanity" in the abstract, or creation.

I would also add that just because one takes "world" as meaning the "elect" in that verse, it does not mean that they are necessarily hyper-Calvinists. Here's an odd fact: there are some Calvinists who take a limited reading of John 3:16 and yet believe that Christ redeemed all humanity, or tasted death for every man. Jacob Kimedoncius [who wrote one of the first Reformed treatises dealing with the extent of Christ's redemption] and Paul Hobson [a 1644 LBC signer] are of that sort. Also, there are Calvinists [these I call "high"] who take a limited reading of John 3:16 and deny that Christ satisfied for the sins of the elect, but do not deny God's universal love, universal saving desire, common grace, well-meant/free offers and duty-faith. So, in my view, they do not qualify as Hyper-Calvinists either.

The bottom line is this: a limited reading of John 3:16 does not necessarily make one a hyper-Calvinist.

Tony Byrne

correction-

this: "...and deny that Christ satisfied for the sins of the elect..."

should be this: "...and deny that Christ satisfied for the sins of the non-elect..."

Ray

its been said that a hyper-calvinist "Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect."


white writes to Don Roberts about "world" in john3:16:

"it is utterly unwarranted to read into kosmos some universal view of humanity"

http://www.truthonfire.com/doctrinal/white_john316.asp

here he obviously disagrees with much of christianity and even John Calvin himself. imo he has entered the hyper-calvinist zone.

now while there may be nuances to the various opinions of many of the different theologians running around in calvinist crowds, drawing charts and graphs and writing out complex mathematical formulas about God's love and God's will, I believe that any reading other than the universal meaning of "world" in john 3:16 qualifies as a hyper-calvinist reading.

it is one of the clearest verses showing God's love for the non-elect. why meddle with it?

Tony Byrne

Ray,

It may be that White takes "world" in John 3:16 as ultimately meaning the elect, but I tend to think he would shy away from that explicit assertion. If you can find a place where he says that clearly, pass it along. I just don't want to suffer more at this time by listening to his John 3:16 video you posted above, and his manner of delivery :-)

Also, as I mentioned above, if one says that another qualifies as a hyper-Calvinist if they take a limited reading of John 3:16, then you're going to be virtually alone when it comes to the historians who have studied hyper-Calvinism. You may be right, but you'll be all alone in the world in that historical opinion, like a solopsist ;-) It's best that we don't discuss that here and now since that is a bit of a digression.

I agree with you about John 3:16 being one of the clearest verses showing God's love for all apostate humanity, including the non-elect. So why do some meddle with it? Protect the system at all costs :-) Mold, squeeze, twist, mangle, wrest; whatever it takes. God help us all when we do this to His precious word.

I would say that it is not a verse sufficient to prove that God equally loves all humanity, or equally wills the salvation of all, either. Here's what I think can be gathered from the verse [among other things]: God so loved such unworthy people, i.e. all living unbelievers [elect and non-elect], that he gave his Son to die for them all, in order to eternally save them through their belief [as an instrumental cause] in the Son and His work [as the sole meritorious cause]. I think that is compatible with Calvinism, but some do not, unfortunately. The verse may be used to falsify some strict varieties of Calvinism, but not all kinds.

Ray

Tony,

I'm glad someone else recognises the difficulty in listening to his delivery. which is why, whenever he gets pushed my way, I do everything in my power to find a transcript =)


what Im saying about a limited reading of 3:16 isn't necessarily that the person would be a hyper-calvinist, but that the reading is. theres a difference.

with that being said. i think a limited reading of 3:16 is like a "gateway drug" into hyper-calvinism. because, imo, one couldn't hold a limited view of john 3:16 without at some point living in a sort-of cognitive dissonance about the other scriptures that conflict with their rendering of the ultimate act of love described in john 3:16.

i think those that do live with a limited reading of john 3:16, and aren't card carrying hyper-calvinists, are living in a world of double-think.

Paul Owen

Tony and all,

For what it's worth, I am no hyper-Calvinist by any stretch, and I do believe that "the world" means all the offspring of Adam. God's offer of Christ is objectively put forth for all. But I think the latter half of John 3:16 is limited in its scope to believers, and election is what makes a person a believer. So there is a hypothetical universality, that is limited by election. God so loved the (whole) world that he gave up his Son for the redemption of any and all who would put their trust in him (thus the application of the atonement is limited to believers). The way I see the logic of the decrees is:

1. Decree of creation.
2. Decree of the fall.
3. Decree for Christ to redeem any and all who believe in him (so not all human beings per se).
4. Decree to elect some sinners in order that they might believe in Christ, and to pass by the rest.

The atonement is universal in its sufficiency (intrisically able to redeem every human being on the condition of faith), but limited in its efficacy (extrinsically able to redeem believers only). Shedd's formula of universal atonement and limited redemption seems to capture this perfectly.

Tony Byrne

Ray, Thanks for the clarification. I understand your point(s) better now.

Tony Byrne

Hi Paul,

I would like to interact with what you've said above, but I don't think Peter wants us to go that far astray in the comments. I think others would find it fascinating for us [two soteriological Calvinists] to go back and forth on the topic, but I am going to resist it for now, even though I think there are some problems in what you've said above, even my opinion that W. G. T. Shedd is actually in my camp conceptually [i.e. an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ with a designed efficacious application]. I think Shedd and Dabney agree, but use different terminology to convey their same concepts. Perhaps we could interact on that some other time ;)

p.s. I'm glad to hear that you take "world" to include the non-elect in John 3:16.

peter

Tony,

Be my guest.

Dr. Owen,

One noticeable thing in your comment pertains to the following. You wrote,

“The atonement is universal in its sufficiency (intrisically able to redeem every human being on the condition of faith), but limited in its efficacy (extrinsically able to redeem believers only).”

Shouldn't the word “intrinsically” actually be “extrinsically” since this is the position of classical Calvinists (i.e., John Calvin, and the first generation of Calvinists)?

With that, I am...
Peter

peter

Dr. Owen,

BTW, I should have mentioned that Dr. David Allen has a superb chapter in Whosoever Will (pp.61-109) which offers admirable attention to specific definitions (pp.62-64). In fact, many of the definitions may be found in a google book preview.

Thanks again for the good discussion.
With that, I am...

Peter

Paul Owen

Peter,

Thanks for the chance to clarify my terms. By "intrinsic" I mean that Christ's death is, in itself, sufficient for the salvation of every human being. Jesus would not have to die again if God decided to add one more person to the number of the elect. There is more merit in the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus than there is sin in the whole world of men.

When I say it is "extrinsically" able to save only believers, I simply mean that there is a stated and designed limit (in John 3:16) to its actual application. God never designed the atonement to save every human being, but he designed it to be sufficient to save however many ("whosoever believeth") sinners should avail themselves of his merit (a number which is determined by divine election). I don't believe my view is inconsistent with that of Calvin.

Paul Owen

Thanks Peter, I've been meaning to pick that book up anyways. I'll take a look at it.

Tony Byrne

Paul,

With Peter's permission, I'll start off by asking you this question: for whose sins was Christ punished? There are only two possible answers: 1) the elect only or 2) all mankind, including the non-elect. Did Christ, in His satisfaction, answer to the law for only the elect, or for all mankind? Again, there are only two possible answers. What say ye? #1 or #2?

We'll discuss the Lombardian Formula ("sufficient for all, efficient for the elect"), Christ's decretal intent, the ultimate cause of the efficacious application, some of the historical views of Calvinists and and the relevance (or irrelavence) of lapsarian ordering in a moment, but I'll start off by asking the question above first, if you don't mind.

Whenever I discuss this topic, I distinguish between intent, extent and application. My above question pertains to the "extent" (for whose sins was Christ punished?) issue first, so I can see where you are on the conceptual landscape ;-)

Thanks,
Tony

Paul Owen

Hey Tony. Let me start out by saying that I don't believe Christ was "punished" on the cross. That way of looking at the atonement is not biblical in my opinion. I do believe that Christ satisfied God's wrath and justice, but not by receiving a punishment from God, rather by bringing all guilty believers to God (thereby reconciling them to God) in his act of atonement and submission to the Father at Calvary.

Our sin was imputed to Christ, not in order that it might be punished by God, but in order that it might be absolved and forgiven through God's acceptance of sinners in and through Christ our substitute. Christ, as man in his sin, was accepted on the altar of the cross, and thus "the ungodly" were justified at Calvary through the union between Christ and all believers that took place there (Rom. 5:6-10; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:20-22; 2:13-14).

Now if you ask whose sins were imputed to Christ on the cross, I have to say it was the sin of "all" because that is what 2 Corinthians 5:14 says. The sin of "all" (v. 19, the world) was imputed to Christ in order that those who believe (or who then "live for him" in 5:15) might be reconciled to God (5:20). It is because Christ died for "all" that Paul can indiscriminately appeal to all men to be reconciled to God (v. 20). So again, while the atonement was sufficient for all, it has the salvation of believers in view. It had to be sufficient for all in order for faith to even be possible as a summons of the gospel call, for otherwise how would anyone be able to trust in the merits of Christ's death on their behalf without prior knowledge of their election?

Lest someone complain that some of Christ's blood was spilled in vain, I would simply note that Paul believes every human being will eventually be reconciled to God (Col. 1:20) through the cross, though only the elect enjoy eternal life and reward.

Tony Byrne

HI Paul,

Thanks for your response. What I was getting at with my question was essentially the issue of imputation, and whether the sin of all men or merely the sin of the elect that was imputed to Christ. You say:

"Our sin was imputed to Christ... Now if you ask whose sins were imputed to Christ on the cross, I have to say it was the sin of "all" because that is what 2 Corinthians 5:14 says. The sin of "all" (v. 19, the world) was imputed to Christ...It is because Christ died for "all" that Paul can indiscriminately appeal to all men to be reconciled to God (v. 20)."

If I am reading you correctly, it seems that the "Our" is "all" in the "world," namely "all men." So, if the question is asked, "whose sin was imputed to Christ? The elect alone? or all men?," your answer seems to be "all men." If so, you have an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ in your system, and on that crucial point we agree.

I don't know how long you have believed this, but you're already in the moderate Calvinist camp. Dr. Owen is not an Owenist :-) Shedd calls this unlimited imputation idea an "unlimited atonement." Dabney calls this idea an "unlimited expiation." Andrew Fuller, later in his life, embraced it as a "universal substitution." Older theologians within the broad Augustinian tradition (Prosper, Aquinas, Musculus, Vermigli, Ussher, Davenant, Preston, Calamy, Howe, Charnock, Edwards, etc.) called the category a "universal redemption," since Christ paid the ransom price of all. You have the same conceptual category in your system, but you may use different labels.

In other words, to use a modern smear tactic, you're a rotten, stinking Amyraldian! Just kidding! hahaha :-)

More on other things later.

Grace to you,
Tony

Paul Owen

Hey Tony,

I don't mind the label at all (I am always happy to be in the company of men like Ussher and Davenant), so long as it is understood that while the sin of the whole world was imputed to Christ on the cross, it was always with a view to the salvation of believers only (i.e., it was not designed to save all men without restriction, but only those whom God would elect to saving faith). Election is what determines who will actually come to faith and avail themselves of the merits of Christ's obedience, hence becoming the actual people whose salvation was in view in the design of the atonement.

Tony Byrne

Paul said:

"it was not designed to save all men without restriction, but only those whom God would elect to saving faith)."

Me now:

I would express it this way:

While Christ's death was designed to be universally sufficient for the salvation of all men, it was not designed to save all men apart from their fulfilling certain non-meritorious instrumental conditions, but only such that repent and believe in Him. Only the elect will repent and believe in Him because of God's election of them.

Paul said:

"Election is what determines who will actually come to faith and avail themselves of the merits of Christ's obedience, hence becoming the actual people whose salvation was in view in the design of the atonement."

Me now:

I see a need for some caution in the use of the terms "intention" and "design" (as did Davenant and others). I understand that you are probably using these terms for God's effectual purpose/decree in the case of the elect, but they can also apply to the sufficient design of the atonement. In other words, if Christ's death is in fact sufficient for all, then it was intended and designed by God to be such. In other words, to use Ussher's expression, it is an "ordained sufficiency." But, in addition to this general design and intention, there is a special design that concerns the elect alone, which subsisted in Christ when He died, and eventually results in the effectual drawing of the elect alone by the Spirit and through the Gospel to embrace the merits of Christ. Notice carefully how Jonathan Edwards gets at a general intention/design idea in the following words:

"UNIVERSAL REDEMPTION. In some sense, redemption is universal of all mankind: all mankind now have an opportunity to be saved otherwise than they would have had if Christ had not died. A door of mercy is in some sort opened for them. This is one benefit actually consequent on Christ's death; but the benefits that are actually consequent on Christ's death and are obtained by Christ's death, doubtless Christ intended to obtain by his death. It was one thing he aimed at by his death; or which is the same thing, he died to obtain it, as it was one end of his death."

See it? It's subtle, but important. In other words, if Christ by His death has opened a door of mercy for all because his death is objectively sufficient to save them all, it is something He intended, designed or aimed at by his death. This is one of the designS of his death, but it is not the same thing as saying Christ effectually purposed (i.e. design in that sense) the salvation of all men. This use of "intent" and "design" in a revealed will sense, and that is associated with Christ's all-sufficient death, can be seen in Ussher, Davenant and in the Puritan Theophilus Gale (who explicitly references Davenant and Aquinas on the point), among others.

I may get to some other things you've said above, Paul, but so far I think most of my points may only concern my opinion about how you are expressing your ideas, not that I think all of your ideas themselves are necessarily incorrect. Since we agree in the area of unlimited imputation, that is the crucial area where I initially thought there would be disagreement.

I see one point Peter made about intrinsic/extrinsic sufficiency that I think is important. He got his perspective from Allen's chapter, which contains some historical sources using those technical terms in refined and correct ways, I think. More on that later, perhaps.

Grace to you,
Tony

Paul Owen

Tony,

I don't think there is much disagreement here. God decreed that Christ would die for the salvation of all believers specifically. But in order to do that, he had to die sufficiently for all men (not just all believers), otherwise, belief on the part of man would not be possible without a knowledge of one's own election. The universal sufficiency of Christ's death is a logical ground for the response of faith that is called for (and granted to the elect). Only if the atonement were of universal efficacy would you or I or St. Paul be able to say without qualification, "Christ loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).

Paul Owen

My last sentence above should say "universal sufficiency" not "universal efficacy," though I do believe the atonement is entirely efficacious in accomplishing its designed end (the salvation of believers).

Paul Owen

Jamin Hubner over at aomin.org offers a perfect example of the sort of tortuous "exegesis" that Calvinists all too typically engage in. This Gnostic method of interpretation is exactly what gives us (Calvinists like myself) a bad name. Supposedly, Matthew 23:37 does not mean that God's will is ever thwarted by man, because (here comes the gnosis) the text speaks of God's gathering of "the children," not Jerusalem itself (represented by her religious leaders).

Now I respect John Gill, but this reading of the text is absurd, and would not pass muster in any first-year exegesis class in seminary.

1. The term "Jerusalem" does not stand only for the religious leaders. Verse 36 pronounces judgment on "this generation," which is then uttered with the lament of verse 37. Obviously, "Jerusalem" stands for "this generation."

2. The text does not speak of God's appeal to the "children" (in contrast with the leaders). The prophets are sent "pros auten" (to it). They are sent to Jerusalem, but she is not willing that her children be gathered. The text does not speak of the prophets being sent to the children (the elect), but to Jerusalem. What could be more obvious that the fact that the gathering of this verse has in view the prophetic appeal to Jerusalem? So despite God sending the prophets to Jerusalem, she would not be gathered. Any child can see that this is the transparent meaning of the verse.

3. The distinction between Jerusalem and her children is read into the text. It most certainly does not flow out of the text. As D.A. Carson says in his commentary on the verse: "During it [Jesus' ministry] he 'often' longed to gather and shelter Jerusalem (by metonymy including all Jews) as a hen gathers her chicks....for despite the woes, Jesus, like the 'Sovereign LORD' in Ezekiel 18:32, took 'no pleasure in the death of anyone.'"

4. But here is what is even more silly. Even if we grant this absurd reading of the passage, what it then means is that Jerusalem (the leaders) has kept God from saving her children! Verse 38 makes it clear that the destruction of Jerusalem (v. 37) is what awaits the children of Jerusalem (or of this generation, v. 36). So the will of man is still thwarting the will of God, even on that reading of the text!

5. Richard Mouw, being a mature and sober Reformed theologian, knows that he does not have to do gymnastics with the text to keep his system in place. Though God's decrees cannot be thwarted, his desires often are. The distinction between God's decrees and desires is a well-known point of Calvinistic theology, and anyone who consults the writings of Millard Erickson and John Piper can find accessible explanations of the distinction.

Ian D. Elsasser

Paul:

Your points are well taken and the examination of Mt 23.37 well done. Your fourth point is the same thing that stood out to me when I read Mr. Hubner's article the other day (the same position put forth by Mr. White in his book on Calvinism) and struck me as ironic.

I don't see the passage as a threat to Calvinism. I recognize, though, that some Calvinists holding to certain brands of Calvinism are concerned not to permit what they term "an unfulfilled desire" on the part of God in an attempt to be consistent theologically. While the passage may have been "misquoted by Arminians (and Calvinists?), the essence is not changed and, for certain brands of Calvinism, the problem of an unfulfilled desire on the part of God remains unaltered.

Paul Owen

Thanks Ian. To me, this is the surest sign of hyper-Calvinism, an unwillingness to acknowledge that not only does God command that all men everywhere repent, but that he actually desires their repentance and eternal salvation (even when it does not come to pass). This, and the unwillingness to speak of the death of Jesus as a "sufficient" sacrifice (cf. Tom Nettles) for the sins of the whole world (contra Dort) are the two most obvious indicators. Supralapsarianism almost inevitably points to hyper-Calvinism, because it makes it almost impossible to speak of the Fall (and evil in general) as part of God's permissive will, and this strikes at the heart of the theological tendency underlying hyper-Calvinism.

peter lumpkins

Dr. Owen,

Thanks for your participation on this thread. You are always welcome. I agree with your perception pertaining to "high" Calvinism, or the more technical term, "Supralapsarianism." Many theologians of the past virtually equated "high" Calvinism with "hyper-Calvinism (e.g. G.W. Northup), a plain fact many 5Point Calvinists fail to consider--mostly Baptist 5Point Calvinists.

Such reminds me of C.Daniel's work. He seems to suggest "high" Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism are virtually the same theologically, the difference being a matter of focus. Also of interest, he flat lays the error of Hyper-Calvinism specifically at the front door of Baptist Calvinism.

Thanks again.
With that, I am...
Peter

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