Archive for the ‘Tony Byrne’ Category

Response to Tony Byrne’s Challenge

March 12, 2010

Tony Byrne (aka Ynottony) is one of the culprits behind the defamation of my friend Dr. White as supposedly being a “hyper-Calvinst.” Tony has suggested, in his own defense, that one could use the following approach:

Step 1: Ask White for specific biblical proof that God desires the eternal salvation of any of the non-elect.

Step 2: Follow Robert Reymond’s advice and consult John Gill’s explanation of the given passage.

Step 3: Use John Gill’s explanation against White’s proof-text.

Step 4: Repeat step 1, 2 then 3 ad infinitum :-)

Will David [Hewitt] do it? No. He wouldn’t last 5 minutes in White’s chat channel. Frankly, I don’t think he will get past step 1.

(source)

Let’s be clear about a few things up front: none of the folks that Tony has accused are hyper-Calvinists. John Gill is one of the most eminent Baptist theologians that has ever lived. He was already proficient in Latin and Greek at age 11. There are few equals to him for scholarship and acumen. Dr. Robert Reymond is also a scholar, and has taught at Covenant Seminary for over twenty years. Both Gill and Reymond have written systematic theologies, and Gill has written a commentary on the entire Bible. Dr. White teaches at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (for nearly 15 years) and is one of the leading Reformed apologists (he hasn’t written a systematic theology, although he has written a number of books).

We must also acknowledge that folks sometimes accuse Gill of either being a hyper-calvinist or having “hyper tendencies.” These accusations are unfounded, and folks who make such accusations (even if they are themselves scholars) should be called to task for this. The like accusations against Drs. White and Reymond are similarly unfounded.

But let’s get to Tony’s strategy. Tony’s shibboleth for hyper-calvinism is the erroneous touchstone of whether a person is willing to say that God desires, in any sense, the salvation of the reprobate. This is the wrong touchstone. The serious error of hyper-calvinism lies not in that, but in other areas, as I’ve previously demonstrated.

Nevertheless, even if one were to use that as the touchstone, Dr. White does and would agree that if one uses the term “desire” in the sense of something being God’s revealed will, then God desires the salvation of all men, in that he commands that all men everywhere repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He might cite as support for this:

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

We should note, of course, that “all men” here refers (in context) to both Jews and Greeks, but the point is nevertheless the case that the gospel is presented indiscriminately to Jews and Greeks.

John Gill, in his commentary on the entire Bible, comments thus:

but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; that is, he hath given orders, that the doctrine of repentance, as well as remission of sins, should be preached to all nations, to Gentiles as well as Jews; and that it becomes them to repent of their idolatries, and turn from their idols, and worship the one, only, living and true God: and though for many hundreds of years God had neglected them, and sent no messengers, nor messages to them, to acquaint them with his will, and to show them their follies and mistakes; yet now he had sent his apostles unto them, to lay before them their sins, and call them to repentance; and to stir them up to this, the apostle informs them of the future judgment in the following verse. Repentance being represented as a command, does not suppose it to be in the power of men, or contradict evangelical repentance, being the free grace gift of God, but only shows the need men stand in of it, and how necessary and requisite it is; and when it is said to be a command to all, this does not destroy its being a special blessing of the covenant of grace to some; but points out the sad condition that all men are in as sinners, and that without repentance they must perish: and indeed, all men are obliged to natural repentance for sin, though to all men the grace of evangelical repentance is not given: the Jews (a) call repentance מצות התשובה, “the command of repentance”, though they do not think it obligatory on men, as the other commands of the law. The law gives no encouragement to repentance, and shows no mercy on account of it; it is a branch of the Gospel ministry, and goes along with the doctrine of the remission of sins; and though in the Gospel, strictly taken, there is no command, yet being largely taken for the whole ministry of the word, it includes this, and everything else which Christ has commanded, and was taught by him and his apostles; Matthew 28:20.

Now, nothing that Gill has said there would create any problem for what someone like Dr. White might say. Yet, perhaps Mr. Byrne would wish to insist that Gill has artfully avoided saying that anyone is commanded to believe. However, Gill was not afraid to use such terminology. Commenting on John 12:39-40 (The Cause of God and Truth, Part 2, Chapter 1, Section 2), Gill wrote:

It is certain, that the impossibility of their after believing, is to be resolved into the judicial blindness and hardness of their hearts, to which they were justly left, having contemned both the doctrines and miracles of Christ. It is of no great moment whether the he, who is said to blind and harden, be God or Christ, or whether the words be rendered, it hath blinded, etc. that is, malice or wickedness hath blinded, or be read impersonally, their eyes are blinded, etc. Since God, or Christ, blind and harden, not by any positive act, or putting in blindness or hardness, but by leaving and giving men up to the blindness and hardness of their hearts, and denying them grace; which was the cause of these Jews; so as never to be converted, or turned even by external repentance and reformation, that they might be healed in a national way, or be preserved front national ruin. All which is consistent with God’s command, and Christ’s exhortations to them to believe, which were antecedent to the judicial blindness and hardness of their hearts, and were, with the miracles and doctrines of Christ, aggravations of their unbelief; and therefore, they might he justly objected to them by the evangelist as their great crime, as it certainly was; being owing to the perverseness of their wills, and the evil dispositions of their hearts.

And Gill gets even more explicit regarding the two wills distinction in the same work, at part 3, section 2:

This argument proceeds upon God’s will of command, which does not thwart his will of purpose. These two wills, though they differ, are not contradictory; the purpose of God is from eternity: his command is in time; the one is within himself, the other put forth from himself; the one is always fulfilled, the other seldom; the one cannot be resisted, the other may; the will of command only signifies, what is the pleasure of God should be the duty of man, or what he should do, but not what he shall do. Now admitting that it is God’s will of command, that not only all to whom the Gospel is vouchsafed, but even all mankind, should repent, believe, and obey; it does not follow, that it is the determining will of God to give grace to all men to repent, believe, and obey; nor does it contradict such a will in God, determining to give grace to some, to enable them to repent, believe, and obey, and to deny it to others. Could it be proved, that either God has willed to give this grace to all men, or that there is no such will in God to give it to some, and deny it to others, the controversy would be shut up, and we should have no more to say.

Notice how Gill even uses the word “duty” in relation to the revealed will of God and the connection between the revealed law and the gospel offer. It is the will of command that all men should repent, believe, and obey. It is not the determining will of God that they shall.

And again Gill writes (same book, Part 3, Section 2, VI:2):

It is man’s duty to believe the word of the Lord, and obey his will, though he has not a power, yea, even though God has decreed to withhold that grace without which he cannot believe and obey. So it was Pharaoh’s duty to believe and obey the Lord, and let Israel go; though God had determined to harden his heart, that he should not let them go. However there are many things which may be believed and done by reprobates, and therefore they may be justly required to believe and obey; it is true, they are not able to believe in Christ to the saving of their souls, or to perform spiritual and evangelical obedience, but then it will be difficult to prove that God requires these things of them, and should that appear, yet the impossibility of doing them, arises from the corruption of their hearts, being destitute of the grace of God, and not from the decree of reprobation, which though it denies them that grace and strength, without which they cannot believe and obey in this sense, yet it takes none from them, and therefore does them no injustice.

Notice how Gill explicitly affirms that it is the duty of men generally to believe the word of the Lord and to obey his will.

Still further in the same book, discussing Acts 3:19 (Part 1, Section 32, 2):

Besides, as has been observed, the exhortation to repent here made, is not made unto all men, but to the Jews, on a very remarkable occasion, and was blessed to many of them, to the turning them away from their iniquities; for many of them which heard the word, believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand (Acts 4:4). If it should be replied, that though the exhortation to repentance is not here made to all men; yet it is elsewhere expressly said, that God commandeth all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Let it be observed, that as this command to repentance does not suppose it to be in the power of man; nor contradicts its being a free-grace gift of God; nor its being a blessing in the covenant of grace, and in the hands of Christ to bestow; so neither does it extend, as here expressed, to every individual of mankind; but only regards the men of the then present age, in distinction from those who lived in the former times of ignorance: for so the words are expressed: and the times of this ignorance God winked at; overlooked, took no notice of, sent them no messages, enjoined them no commands of faith in Christ, or repentance towards God; but now, since the coming and death of Christ, commandeth all men, Gentiles as well as Jews, everywhere to repent; it being his will, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached among all nations (Luke 24:47): but admitting that it has been God’s command in all ages, and to all men that they repent; as all men are indeed bound, by the law of nature, to a natural repentance, though all men are not called by the gospel to an evangelical one; yet I see not what conclusions can be formed from hence against either absolute election or particular redemption.

We see it yet again, in the same book, discussing Acts 9:18:

And again, in Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 4, Chapter 7, 5b:

Whether repentance is a doctrine of the law or of the gospel? the answer to which is, that such who sin ought to repent of sin; this God has commanded, the law of nature teaches; and so far as this is to be considered as a duty incumbent on men, it belongs to the law, as all duty does; but then the law makes no account of repentance for sin; nor does it admit of it as a satisfaction for it; nor gives any encouragement to expect that God will receive repenting sinners into his grace and favor upon it; this is what the gospel does, and not the law; the law says not, repent and live, but do and live.

Notice that Gill here is quite explicit that those who sin are commanded to repent of sin. It is a command of the gospel, not the law, but it is a command.

We see this again in the same book, Book 6, Chapter 12, 1a:

Nor is the gospel ministry an offer of Christ, and of his grace and salvation by him, which are not in the power of the ministers of it to give, nor of carnal men to receive; the gospel is not an offer, but a preaching of Christ crucified, a proclamation of the unsearchable riches of his grace, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and life, and salvation by him. Yet there is something in which the ministry of the word, and the call by it, have to do with unregenerate sinners: they may be, and should be called upon, to perform the natural duties of religion; to a natural faith, to give credit to divine revelation, to believe the external report of the gospel, which not to do, is the sin of the deists; to repent of sin committed, which even the light of nature dictates; and God, in his word, commands all men everywhere to repent: to pray to God for forgiveness, as Simon Magus was directed by the apostle: and to pray to God for daily mercies that are needed, is a natural and moral duty; as well as to give him praise, and return thanks for mercies received, which all men that have breath are under obligation to do. They may, and should be called upon to attend the outward means of grace, and to make use of them; to read the Holy Scriptures, which have been the means of the conversion of some; to hear the word, and wait on the ministry of it, which may be blessed unto them, for the effectual calling of them. And it is a part of the ministry of the word to lay before men their fallen, miserable, lost, and undone estate by nature; to open to them the nature of sin, its pollution and guilt, and the sad consequences of it; to inform them of their incapacity to make atonement for it; and of their impotence and inability to do what is spiritually good; and of the insufficiency of their own righteousness to justify them in the sight of God: and they are to be made acquainted, that salvation is alone by Christ, and not other ways; and the fullness, freeness, and suitableness of this salvation, are to be preached before them; and the whole to be left to the Spirit of God, to make application of it as he shall think fit.

We should note that Dr. White does not refuse to use the term “offer” in connection with the gospel (link to example). Consequently Dr. White would not fall prey, as Gill might appear to here, to the “offer” shibboleth that some use who wish to use the label “hyper-calvinist” liberally.

And Gill says the same thing again, with respect to the command to repent, in the same book, Book 1, Chapter 4, 3b2:

Men of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, are the subjects of repentance; for all are under sin, under the power of it, involved in the guilt of it, and liable to punishment for it, and God has commanded “all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). During the time of John the Baptist, and of our Lord’s being on earth, the doctrine of repentance was only preached to the Jews; but after the resurrection of Christ he gave his apostles an instruction and order “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47), in consequence of which the apostles first exhorted the Jews and then the Gentiles to repent, and particularly the apostle Paul “testified both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God”, as well as “faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

Now, allow me to make one final important distinction. If Tony means to insist that God’s general desire with respect to salvation should be understood not as to man’s duty, but rather as to God’s desire for his own action, we must insist that it is blasphemy to assert that God desires to save the reprobate and cannot do so. It is the pleasure of God that it is the duty of men who hear the gospel to believe it.

As Gill explains, The Cause of God and Truth, Part 3, Section 3, II (second II):

It should be proved that there is in God a general will that all men should be saved, or that he anywhere wishes for and desires the salvation of all the individuals of mankind. For God to will or wish the salvation of all men, and intend the death of Christ for that purpose, and yet not save all men, is inconsistent with the perfection of his nature and the immutability of his counsel. Nor is this argument, that God wills not what he sees not fit to execute, attended with those dreadful consequences as are suggested; as “that God is not willing any should obey his will who doth not obey it; and that he is not unwilling any one should sin whom he restrains not from it; and that he is not willing any one should repent who doth not repent.” Since God commanding and approving will is one thing, and his determining will another, in the former sense God wills what he does not see fit to execute; it is what he commands and approves of, that men should obey his will, abstain from sin, and repent of it, when he does not see fit to give them grace to enable them to do these things; but God never wills, that is determines, any thing but he sees fit to execute, and does execute, it. Besides, it is one thing for God to will and wish, that is, command and approve, what is entirely man’s duty to do, though he does not see fit to give him grace to execute it, which he is not obliged to do; and another thing to will and wish the salvation of all men, which entirely depends upon himself, and which, if he did wish, he would surely see fit to execute.

-TurretinFan

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Phillip Johnson and Amyraldianism

December 12, 2008

Phillip Johnson has an article (to which Trey Austin thoughtfully directed me) in which he provides a fairly helpful and quick guide to some distinctions among Evangelical views of the order of decrees, ranging from Supralapsarianism to Arminianism.

In the section on what Johnson prefers to call Amyraldism (as opposed to Amyraldianism), Johnson states: “Puritan Richard Baxter embraced this view, or one very nearly like it. He seems to have been the only major Puritan leader who was not a thoroughgoing Calvinist. Some would dispute whether Baxter was a true Amyraldian. (See, e.g. George Smeaton, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1991 reprint], Appendix, 542.) But Baxter seemed to regard himself as Amyraldian.” (emphases omitted)

He also cautions: “But Amyraldism probably should not be equated with all brands of so-called “four-point Calvinism.” In my own experience, most self-styled four-pointers are unable to articulate any coherent explanation of how the atonement can be universal but election unconditional. So I wouldn’t glorify their position by labeling it Amyraldism. (Would that they were as committed to the doctrine of divine sovereignty as Moise Amyraut! Most who call themselves four-pointers are actually crypto-Arminians.)”

(source) “Notes on Supralapsarianism & Infralapsarianism”

It is very interesting to me that the same folks Tony Byrne, David Ponter, and some of their associates that have been so anxious to misuse Phillip Johnson’s primer on Hyper-Calvinism are completely unwilling to use his notes on Calvinism.

And, of course, when we see Tony’s chart that he handed out to Dr. Allen for the so-called John 3:16 conference, guess who pops up in the “Moderate/Classical Calvinist” column of the chart:

Amyraut – the very person for whom Amyraldianism is named
Baxter – one of the very few Puritan Amyraldians
Dr. Alan Clifford – The Pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church, which has been holding yearly Amyraldianism conferences for at least three years.

Now, certainly, Tony throws other men into the list, some more or less justifiably. Bunyan, for example, may belong there, but Jonathan Edwards almost certainly does not. Here’s some evidence in support of my position on Edwards:

‘Tis Absurd to suppose that Christ Died for the salvation of those that he at the same time Certainly knew never would be saved. What Can be meant by that expression of Christ dying for the salvation of any one, but dying with a design that they should be saved by his death. or dying hoping that he they will be saved or at Least being uncertain but that they will be saved by his death. When we say that one Person does a thing for another, that which is Universally Understood by such an expression is that he does it with a design of some benefit to that other Person. ‘Tis nonsense to say that Any Person does any thing to the End that Another thing that may be done and ’tis Impossible that he should design Any benefit to Another person that he Certainly knows will have no benefit by it.

‘Tis Nonsense to say that Any thing [is done] with a design that Another thing should be done and to that End that it may be Done, at the same time that he has not the Least expectation that that other thing Ever will be done. and much more when he perfectly knows it never will. It matters not in this Controversy whether we suppose an absolute decree or no if we only allow that God knows all things that he knows future things before they Come to Pass as he declares he does in his word and no Christians pretend to deny But if we don’t deny this it implies a plain Contradiction to suppose that Christ died for in a proper sense.

If it Replied that no other is Intended when they say Christ died for all then that by his death all have the offer of salvation so that they may have salvation if they will accept of salvation – without any expectation or design of Christ that they should be saved by his death. if that be all that is Intended they Are Against no body – all that are Called Christians own that By Christ’s death all that live under the Gospel have the offer of salvation.

– Edwards, Jonathan – Sermon on Galatians 2:20

-TurretinFan

More of Trey Austin

April 14, 2008

Well, it seems that Mr. Austin does not like the correction he has received by those he considers his Christian brethren, so much that he has fired off a massive, multi-post response. I have addressed his multiple posts as a group.

1. Opening Post
In which Trey uses a colorful analogy involving dung, while falsely claiming, “Notice that Dr. White never refers to any other Christian with whom he has major disagrement as “brother.”” I seem to pretty clearly recall Dr. White calling Pastor Shishko a brother in Christ, even though Dr. White disagrees majorly with Pastor Shishko on the issue of Baptism.

2. Not the Reformed View (Round II)
In which Trey complains that he has been misunderstood, and claims that he was not saying that “my point was not that my own view is only Reformed view and Jame’s White’s isn’t.” He seems to be saying that he was complaining that there is a multiplicity of Reformed views on the subject – particularly on the subject of the doctrine of the Atonement. On the other hand, Trey actually wrote in his first article, “No more than you should have some Protestant Reformed theologian, who denies the free offer of the Gospel, and who denies common grace, to be the poster-child for being a Calvinist should you have James White out in the public eye representing himself and his lop-sided Calvinism as true and proper Calvinism.” Actually, though, the problem is that it is Trey’s contra-confessional view of the atonement (or at least the view that he seems to adopt vy his support of Ponter and company) that is “lop-sided Calvinism” if it can really be called Calvinism at all, rather than thinly-masked Amyraldianism. Again, lest Trey’s new intra-Reformed ecumenicism seem sincere, recall his claim: “So, if you want Puritanism of the modern variety, James White is your man; he tows the line to a tee. But if you want real, historical Calvinism, he’s not any kind of reliable source.” Now he claims, “So, understand, i’m arguing not that White’s view is not Reformed, nor am i arguing that it’s biblically wrong (though, i think it is), i am arguing that it’s only one among many Reformed views on the issue of God’s will concerning the salvation of the non-elect.” (all typos in original) Judge for yourself whether that’s the same argument or not.

3. Obligation to Critique Someone Else
In which Trey complains of having to deal with other subjects than the promotion of the distorted and logically incoherent view of the atonement advocated by Ponter and company. He complains that “In fact, having taken part in several forums devoted to internet apologetics, i have been increasingly convinced that it is a useless exercise that simply blakanizes positions rather than leading to understanding and mutual love.” (all typos original, I think “blakanizes” is supposed to be “Balkanizes”) Is it just my imagination or has the kettle of Internet apologetics been called black?

And he does so again in the same post, where he writes, “So, yes, it *IS* my business, and the business of every other Calvinist, how James White acts and how he displays a less than charitable attitude or a theological eccintricity that he presents as *THE* Reformed view, because, for good or for bad, many people will see that, recognize it as someone negative, as i do, and judge all Calvinists on that basis.” (again, all typos in original) Trey’s assisting those who advocate Amyraldianism-lite as though it were Calvinism, and then claims that conventional, confessional, middle-of-the-road Calvinism is not *THE* Reformed view. But if we are going to include Amyraldianism within the “Reformed View” broadly defined, then there is no strong reason to except Arminianism from the “Reformed View,” in which case the Reformed label is just something we should throw away, because it has lost its meaning.

Of course, the solution is to define Reformed theology by the major standards: the WCF, the LBCF, and even the canons of Dordt. The quasi-Amyraldianism of Ponter and company is not within the boundaries of any of those.

4. I Don’t Know Debate
In which Trey claims that he knows plenty about debate, and offers (based on his grade-school experience) some pointers to Dr. White. One hardly needs to provide commentary.

Trey seems to insist that he knows how better to answer questions. Thus, for example, he claims: “Hence, we can and should affirm that God desires the salvation of all the non-elect, insofar as he has commanded them to repent and believe and be saved, and insofar as he has told us plainly that it is his desire to see all men to be saved. God desires his commandments to be kept: That’s the heart of the assumption behind the preceptive will of God, and so we can rightly say that, anything God commands he desires to take place.”

Of course, Dr. White fully agrees with that statement, but such a statement would only confuse the issue, which was God’s sovereign desire, not his revealed will. In fact, all of those that Trey disparagingly refers to as “high Calvinists” (i.e. confessional Reformed folks) would agree that God desires (in one sense) that his commands be obeyed, and that one of his commands is that people repent and believe. But that sense is really not relevant to the debate that Dr. White was having with Mr. Gregg – a point that Trey seems willing to overlook in order to make a string of ad hominem attacks.

5. Personal Contact Needed?
In which Trey indicates that he feels justified in making his complaints public, apparently based in part (how, Trey doesn’t explain) on the subsequent public response by Dr. White. While I would agree that Trey might have been wiser to have complained to Dr. White privately first, before making himself appear absurd in a public forum, I also think that if Trey is responding to a public debate, he should feel free to do so publicly. Likewise, Trey should not complain that he is being responded to publicly, since he has made his amazing accusations a public matter (and I don’t think that Trey is necessarily complaining about that).

6. When Ad Hominem Arguments Go Wild
In which Trey complains that he has not seen substantiation for the claims that his initial post was ad hominem. Trey then complains that the present author’s introduction to my response to Tony Byrne’s post was ad hominem because I identified Tony’s connection to him and to their mutual friend (and theological ally), David Ponter. This truly is laughable.

Why so? It is laughable because (1) Trey imputes motives for the identification that are both unnecessary and inaccurate, and because (2) Trey does the very same thing. As to (1), the reason for providing identification is to help the readers make the connection to the pair of attacks recently launched on Dr. White. As to (2), Trey’s own self-label of “Reformed” and “Calvinist” are aimed to prejudice the reader in his favor. But I must qualify (2) a bit. It’s not quite the same thing, because I’ve actually demonstrated the non-Reformed nature of Tony’s and David’s (and, it appears, Trey’s) position, whereas Trey simply claims a label that doesn’t belong to him.

Furthermore, returning to (1), Trey goes even further off the deep end with his false claim that “[TurretinFan]’s trying to prejudice his audience against anything we say with regard to the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement by labeling us as “Quasi-Amyraldians.” This complaint is off the deep end for at least two reasons. One: as Trey himself admits, he hasn’t made a positive case at all – in fact – while he’s endorsed (one way or another) Ponter’s position, he hasn’t even made a negative position against the Reformed view of the limited atonement (as Tony and David have attempted). So, apparently (to Trey) I feel the need to rebut his position with an ad hominem, even though his position has not actually been presented. Two: it is the extent, not sufficiency, of the atonement that is at stake. If Tony, David, and company merely taught the unlimited sufficiency of Christ’s death, they would be within bounds of the Calvinistic view.

Moreover, returning again to (2), Trey himself uses labels on Dr. White to discredit Dr. White’s view as being the Reformed position. If it were ad hominem for me to use the label “Quasi-Amyraldian” (although I did not use it in the context of discrediting someone’s argument) all the more so it must be ad hominem for Trey to use a label in the context of discrediting Dr. White’s statements regarding the Reformed position.

Finally, the nail in the coffin was Trey claim that, “he also is engaging in guilt-by-association fallacy, by saying that Tony’s views are less than reliable because he is friends and in agreement with David Ponter.” (a) Actually, of course, I never make such a claim. Trey’s uncharitable assumption regarding the purpose for the association doesn’t convert a simple making of an association with an improper use of such an association. (b) Associating people by shared beliefs for the purpose of highlighting that shared belief is not the fallacy of guilt by association: it’s association by guilt. Trey would do well to get it straight. (c) Trey himself in post (1) above employed similar grouping (“his internet broadcast certainly was nothing more than an invitation to his sycophants to flood the blogosphere with responses”). (d) In Trey’s grouping, the inference was much harsher and prejudicial than in mine (comrades [mine] vs. sycophants [his]).

I hope Trey will see the error of his position, both with respect to Dr. White, but more importantly with respect to the Ponter position on the atonement.

If we believe in a Vicarious Atonement (and the Reformed church does) then those for whom Christ died – the elect nation for whom our High Priest offered His once-for-all sacrifice – will be saved. We should still affirm that Christ’s death is, as to its intrinsic worth, sufficient for all. But Christ is the good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep.

But here’s my challenge to Trey Austin, who hands out debating tips to Dr. White. I have a debate blog all set up, and I’ve debated folks there before. If you’d like, we can debate (in writing) from Scripture the doctrine of the Atonement. I will take the view expressed in the Westminster Standards (WLC):

Question 59: Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?

Answer: Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ has purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.

If Trey believes that redemption was purchased for others to whom it will never be applied or effectually communicated, or who will never in time be enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel, then I hope he’ll take up the challenge. I’m 100% ready to defend the true doctrine expressed in WLC 59 against any taker – whether it be Trey, Tony, David, or anyone else.

-TurretinFan

Another Quasi-Amyraldian Attack on Dr. White

April 14, 2008

Tony Byrne (aka Ynottony) comrade-in-arms of Trey Austin and another of David Ponter‘s band of Quasi-Amyraldians (who host the misleading “Calvin and Calvinism” website), has launched a fresh attack on Dr. White’s radio debate with Steve Gregg. (link to attack piece) (Update: To be clear [and particularly since Carrie Hunter – one of David’s friends – has complained], when I say “attack” I do not mean that Tony calls Dr. White a big meanie. What I mean is that Tony (ironically) insinuates that Dr. White doesn’t understand the theological issues involved.)

The piece handles a complex (in terms of its grammar – not logically complex) question asked during a cross-examination portion of the debate, and appears to attempt to suggest the same thing that Trey Austin tried to suggest, namely that Dr. White doesn’t know the Reformed position.

This, of course, is absurd. Dr. White is well aware of the two wills distinction mentioned by Tony, and would indeed fully endorse it. What Dr. White would not do, however, is to make a false distinction between the non-elect who do not hear the gospel and the non-elect who do hear the gospel.

I’m not sure whether Tony misses this issue, or just doesn’t understand it. There is no difference with respect to the revealed will of God (or the secret will of God) between the non-elect who hear and do not hear the gospel. God’s revealed will is the same for both, and his secret will is the same for both. What is different is the culpability of the group that hear the gospel and reject it.

Tony goes so far as to accuse Dr. White of denying that God’s revealed will is that all men repent and believe, as though Dr. White would reject the fact that the gospel is revealed to be a command to be obeyed.

From where does Tony get these ridiculous ideas, it’s hard to say with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, the underlying root is clear. Tony has a mistaken idea that for the call to repent and believe to be universal and “well meant” it must be that (a) Christ died for the non-elect, and (b) God wants to save the non-elect. Of course, Dr. White would reject (a) as contrary to Scripture, and – if he would not reject (b) outright – would qualify it in ways that Tony could not accept.

After all, as Tony inconsistently is forced to admit, Christ died with the intent that his death be efficacious only for the elect. Once one recognizes that fact, the warm fuzzies generated by repeatedly using the term “well meant” go away. Unless Tony his slipped from Amyraldianism (what Tony likes to call, “moderate Calvinism”) into Arminianism or worse, his theology cannot really accommodate a gospel offer that is any more well-meaning than that of the Reformed position.

As Hoeksamaa explains, the gospel call is universal but conditional. It is, in a sense, an offer of salvation, but there is an explicit condition: a condition that none of the non-elect ever fulfill. It’s sincerity is not to be judged by a criterion of whether the non-elect can fulfill it, or whether hypothetical provision has been made in case the non-elect were to fulfill it, but rather by the certainty of salvation for those who do fulfill it.

Those who repent of their sins, and turn in faith to Christ alone for salvation will be saved. Those who do not, will be damned forever. It’s not just an offer, it’s an offer you cannot refuse. Once you realize that it is the truth, once you appreciate the sinfulness of your sin and the holiness of the God who stands in judgment over you, you’d have to be absolutely out of your mind to refuse to repent and trust in Christ. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

But the non-elect (in fact, even the elect, prior to regeneration – and thus all the unregenerate men) have a moral inability to come to Christ, because they love darkness better than light. They hate God and will not heed the warnings that God’s messengers give them. The command is there, Repent and Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ but to them it is as though someone were mocking. It is truly a sad thing to watch the wicked perishing, because we have empathy for our fellow men. Let us, therefore, bear testimony to the truth of God’s word and seek to persuade those around us to obey the Gospel command, for if they do, they will be saved.

Trust in Him!

-TurretinFan


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