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The Free Offer of the Gospel; A Non-Paradoxical and Rational Construction by Drake

 

The Free Offer of the Gospel; A Non-Paradoxical and Rational Construction

By Drake Shelton

 
The following is based primarily  on:

Covenant of Life Opened, ed. Matthew McMahon (Puritan Publications: New Lenox Illinois, 2005; original printing 1654) by Samuel Rutherford

 
Scottish Theology, (Reformed Academic Press: Greenville, South Carolina, 1995) by John Macleod (ST)

I would also like to thank the Westminster Presbyterian Website and their Page on the Free Offer

 

I. The Divine Will

II. Definition of the Free Offer

III. Matthew Winzer’s Rejection of the Free Offer Considered

IV. Concluding Arguments Against Those Who Deny the Free Offer I.E. Hyper-Calvinists (HC)

 

I have read John Murray’s work on the Free Offer and find much in Winzer’s criticisms that are spot on. Winzer is the deepest writer I have read among those who reject Murray’s construction and I must say that I enjoyed reading his review. However, Winzer attempts to claim Rutherford and Turretin as representative of his position and I must reject his claim and reclaim them for myself.  First, I will give a consideration of the Divine Will and then to the definition of the Free Offer.

I. The Divine Will

This section is based on Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics by Richard A. Muller, Vol. 3(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2003)

Turriten says, [And this will be a quote that the reader will be intensely familiar with at the end of this treatise]

“The will can be called the primary rule of justice either intrinsically or extrinsically…In the former sense, his will is regulated by his justice; in thelatter sense, the justice in us is regulated by nothing else than his will…But with respect to God, the will cannot always be called the first rule of justice. It is a rule in those things which have only a free and positive goodness, but not in those things which have essential goodness…For in the latter, God’s will is regulated, not indeed extrinsically but intrinsically (viz. BY HIS MOST HOLY NATURE). Hence it has been well said that certain things are good because God wills them…but that God wills others because they are just and good per se in their own nature…”

Institutes, Vol 1, pg. 233, Third Topic, The Will of God, xviii Institutes, Vol 1, pg. 233, Third Topic, The Will of God, xviii, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1994) Muller affirms this on page 455, in Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics   Vol. 3(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2003)

In expositing Musculus, Muller states,

Thus we may say that God wills good things because he is good, [This is the opposite of what Winzer states. Winzer’s and Later Clark’s Hyper-Calvinism would lead him to say things are good because God wills them] just things because he is just, kind and merciful things because he is kind and merciful…It would be incorrect, therefore, to say, that the will of God has a cause in the sense of an efficient cause that brings it about that God will one thing rather than another, but there are, clearly, reasons for God willing in various ways, and such reasons are often revealed in Scripture. What is more, there are also final causes of the will of God, notably the final causes of his decree of predestination, namely, that he might reveal his justice and his glory.” (pg 437-438) 

Muller explains the will considered in a seven-fold aspect:

1.      Essential or personal

2.      Effective or permissive

3.      Absolute or conditional

4.      Revealed or hidden

5.      Necessary or free (but immutable and certain)

6.      Toward  us or because of us

7.      It’s objects are either good or evil

(pg. 444) 

Perceptive and Decretive Distinction

In expositing Calvin Muller writes,

“Thus, ‘to our apprehension the will of God is manifold’ although in itself it is in fact simple. The reason for this is that the one will of God has diverse objects in the finite order (438)…Calvin, similarly, recognized that a distinction needed to be made between the ultimate or ‘hidden will’ of God and the ‘revealed will” (439)…The ‘two wills,’ however, are not distinct as two separate things or faculties in God. Rather, these, ‘two wills’ arise from the fact that God does not always reveal the entirety of his counsels to human beings, but only reveals what is necessary for salvation. That which is revealed is called the voluntas signi; that which remains secret and hidden in God is the voluntas beneplaciti.” (Pg. 438-440)

There is therefore two aspects to the one will. This does not assert that God does not will what he permits but does permit willingly. (pg. 442) “Picet notes, ‘let it be observed, that…strictly speaking, there is only one divine will, namely, the will of the decree.” (pg. 451) Muller states the same with Twisse,

“Twisse argues, when God commanded Abraham to Sacrifice Isaac or when God commanded Pharoah to ‘let Israel go,’ this is a revelation or pronouncement of the voluntas signi. Tey, in both cases, this revealed will was not the ultimate will of God: the voluntas beneplacitti or divine good pleasure was the Isaac not be sacrificed and that Pharoah’s heart be hardened…the distinction between these two wills arises only because the ‘objects’ of God’s signs or commandments… ’are only moral duties, and not the rewards of them, such as is salvation.”

Muller notes that Leigh, Maccovius, and Twisse affirm the same. (pg. 459)

Picet notes in like, “the perceptive will is properly speaking, the execution of a part of the decretive will, namely, that part which has determined  what shall be revealed to, or enjoined upon, men in due time. ” (pg 460) Muller also describes the perceptive will as the effects of the decreed will. (pg. 462) Then he asserts on page 471 that the permissive will is not directly causal.

In my estimation Positive law is based on the good pleasure of the will of God while natural law has more of a seat in the divine nature. So on this view God has only one will, the will of the decree. However, this will has parts and aspects to it: one major part being the perceptive aspect. This is just one more reason to reject divine simplicity.

Freedom of the Divine Will

          Muller defines God’s will as “a rational faculty” (pg. 445). The act of willing is a volition. As the object of will (John 6). Perkins said that “the will of God is a single, eternal, and immutable act ‘by which he both freely and justly with one act willeth all things.” ( Muller pg. 446) Muller says, “Freedom, strictly speaking is the ‘faculty of doing what one wills,’ as opposed to the Arminian sense of freedom as the ability to do or not to do what is necessary”. (pg. 447) To be self-determining is the essence of freedom. To have no basis for the will is Muslim. There is an internal nature that directs the will though no external influence compels it. Muller defines the freedom of divine will “from coactions, from servitude, and from the burden of suffering.” (pg. 444) Muller affirms Owen’s view of divine freedom (448) that you can read here: http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/theology-proper/john-owen-on-necessary-and-free-volitions-in-god

There are no causal chains that begin with anyone else but the Father. The Father is the cause of all things. Pelagians try to escape from the Calvinist objection that the Pelagian view posits independent forces. They try to escape by stating that they merely posit causal chains that begin with someone other person than the persons in the Trinity. The problem is they do not understand causality. See: http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/epistemology-and-metaphysics/divine-fiat-by-drake. So in my estimation God is free from external compulsions and from internal necessities in some things like creation. In all things the divine nature directs and regulates the divine will. In some things, not all things, it necessitates the will to will this or that.  In some other things it merely regulates and directs as in Creation and Redemption.  See Time and Eternity in Gordon Clark and Georges Florovsky by Drake Shelton.

 

II. Definition of the Free Offer

The Free Offer emphasizes preaching that does not center on the work of the Spirit in those who are called by grace but on the “fullness and freeness and suitableness of the Son of God as a Saviour for those that are lost.” (ST, pg. 142) The Free Offer emphasizes winning sinners to the “obedience of faith.” (ST, 142) The Free Offer does not emphasize preaching that turns the attention of the hearer inward but turns the hearer toward Christ. John Macleod defines the Free Offer, “in the Gospel Christ is held forth to the hearer, and that the hearer is thus bound, as he is called upon, to accept Him as his own.” (ST, 166) 

Here are a couple quotes from Francis Turretin and Samuel Rutherford,

Turretin

 (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, topic XV, question II, paragraphs XIV-XVI and XXI, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1992-97, vol. 2, pp. 507-09, reproduced with kind permission of the publishers* [From the Westminster Presbyterian Website])

 

XIV. Although God does not intend the salvation of the reprobate by calling them, still he acts most seriously and sincerely; nor can any hypocrisy and deception be charged against him -- neither with respect to God himself (because he seriously and most truly shows them the only and most certain way of salvation, seriously exhorts them to follow it and most sincerely promises salvation to all those who do follow it [to wit, believers and penitents]; nor does he only promise, but actually bestows it according to his promise); nor as to men because the offer of salvation is not made to them absolutely, but under a condition and thus it posits nothing unless the condition is fulfilled, which is wanting on the part of man. Hence we cordially embrace what is said on this subject by the fathers of the Synod of Dort: "As many as are called through the gospel are seriously called. For God shows seriously and most truly in his word, what is pleasing to him, to wit, that the called should come to him. He also seriously promises to all who come to him and believe rest to their souls and eternal life" ("Tertium et Quartum: De Hominis Corruptione et Conversione," 8 Acta Synodi Nationalis . . . Dordrechti[1619-20], 1:[302]).

 

XV. 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 will 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)….

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.”

 

Rutherford says,

“Christ procures the Gospel to be Preached to Reprobates, but undertakes not for them. A necessary distinction of the Covenant as Preached according to the approving will of God, and as acted upon the heart, according to the decree of God….For Antinomians, and legal justitiaties miserably err in both extremities: the former will have no New Covenant in the days of the Gospel, but that which is made with the elect: The latter will have no New Covenant but such as is made with the whole race of mankind, Pagans not excepted: So Socinians, Arminians, Papists. 1. They [COG and COR] differ in the parties contractors: The parties contractors in the Covenant Preached, are God, and all within the Visible Church, whether Elect or Reprobate, and their seed, they professing the Gospel…But it’s a rich mercy that professors are dwelling in the work-house of the Grace of God, within the Visible Church, they are at the pool side, near the fountain, and dwell in Immanuel’s land where dwells Jehovah in his beauty, and where the Golden Candlesticks, and where these run rivers of Wine and Milk, such as are Expectants of Grace and Glory, to such the Marriage Table is covered, eat if they will (pg. 476)… How then comes the Gospel to them? Answer. It comes to them, 1. Not from Christ as their Surety, since he prays not for any Mediation of his own towards them: But 2. For the Elect’s sake: so Paul, Act. 13.26,  Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and who among you feareth God… to you is the word of salvation, to you and for your cause, that ye may be saved, is the Gospel, sent. 2 Corin. 4.15. For all things, our suffering, our dying, are... for the elect’s sake that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Jesus Christ, with eternal glory. Hence, there is no salvation but that which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, the Author and Cause, and meriting Procurer of eternal salvation, Hebrews 5.9. [Strange that Winzer quotes this last paragraph in his article but leaves out the next sentence] Now, though salvation be offered, yet the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, and merited by the ransom and price of his blood, can be decreed and intended in the Preached gospel to none but to the elect”.  (Covenant of Life Opened, pg. 475-477)

So as a summary the definition is as follows:

“God desires that such and such should be done by man, not that God desires that such and such shall be done” (Winzer) , yet by the first desire here mentioned I assert a real volition, Winzer rejects it. God hates evil and always punishes evil. God does not will to punish evil as an ad extra decree but punishes as something he essentially hates.  This asserts a clear perceptive will to God. “God wills good things because he is good” (Muller), “God’s will is regulated, not indeed extrinsically but intrinsically…BY HIS MOST HOLY NATURE” (Turretin).  God is free from external compulsions and from internal necessities in some things like creation. In all things the divine nature directs and regulates the divine will. In some things, not all things, it necessitates the will to will this or that, as in the generation of the Son and the Spiration of the Spirit.  In some other things it merely regulates and directs as in Creation and Redemption.  God has only one will, the will of the decree. However, this will has parts and aspects to it: one major part being the perceptive aspect. This is just one more reason to reject divine simplicity. “God does not intend the salvation of the reprobate by calling them, still he acts most seriously and sincerely…he seriously and most truly shows them the only and most certain way of salvation, seriously exhorts them to follow it and most sincerely promises salvation to all those who do follow it…bestows it according to his promise…the offer of salvation is not made to them absolutely, but under a condition [For the definition of condition see The Conditionality of the Covenant of Grace in Samuel Rutherford, by Drake] and thus it posits nothing unless the condition is fulfilled… [By “posits nothing”  Turretin is not denying God’s volition at the level of precept for he asserts this will many times and calls it “the will of precept…as to approbation and command” and distinguishes it from the decree.]  [This] calling shows what God wills man should do, but not what he himself had decreed to do…to will reprobates to come (i.e., to command them to come and to desire it); …according to the approving will of God” (Turretin).  This Free Offer to the Reprobate “comes to them, 1. Not from Christ as their Surety, since he prays not for any Mediation of his own towards them: But 2. For the Elect’s sake..intended in the Preached gospel to none but to the elect” (Rutherford). This Free Offer affirms a love for all men that gives them, “being, to conserve them in being as long as he [God] pleaseth… He created them out of the womb of love and out of goodness, and keeps them in being. He can hate nothing that he made” (Rutherford). This is a provisional love and a desire for their eternal being.  This love comes from God’s nature and is natural to him to hate evil and love good. This love to the reprobate and all men even considered as sinners is not the love of election as the Arminians assert for this love is reserved only for the elect.

III. Matthew Winzer’s Rejection of the Free Offer Considered

The issue of rationalism is broached often in this discussion and I must agree with Winzer on what definition of rationalism must be rejected by true Christians: “those who dare to reject divinely inspired teaching on the basis that it is inconsistent with what unaided human reason already knows”. Rationality is the image of God by which we men are made. To suggest that God is irrational is to destroy the Christian revelation.

Winzer says,

“The will of precept has no volitional content, for it simply states what God has commanded ought to be done by man… So it is quite inappropriate to say that God wills something to be with reference to His will of command, for the preceptive will never pertains to the futurition of actions, only to the obligation of them…He desires truth in the inward parts, Ps. 51:6, and that He desires mercy, and not sacrifice, i.e., that the Israelites show mercy to their brethren in need, and not simply attend to the ceremonial aspects of their religion, Hos. 6:6. By such statements, we are to understand that God delights in requiring these things from man. Whether or not man shall perform them depends solely on whether God has decreed them to be done.”

First, I was disappointed with his failure to deal with the issue of God’s permissive will and permissive decrees in general. Second, Samuel Rutherford replies,

 [“Rutherford observes that objections justly raised against the deficient Arminian view of God's decree are not pertinent respecting God's revealed will, because it does not purpose to effectuate anything. Westminster Presbyterian Website]

 

“It expresseth two things, 1. A vehemency and a serious and unfeigned ardency of desire that we do what is our duty, and the concatenation of these two, extremely desired of God, our coming to Christ and our salvation. This moral connection between faith and salvation is desired of God with his will of approbation, complacency, and moral liking, without all dissimulation, most unfeignedly [margin: What the revealed will of God is]; and whereas Arminians say, we make counterfeit, feigned, and hypocritical desires in God, they calumniate and cavil egregiously, as their custom is. 2. The other thing expressed in these invitations is a sort of dislike, grief, or sorrow (it's a speech borrowed from man, for there is no disappointing of the Lord's will, nor sorrow in him for the not fulfilling of it), or an earnest nilling and hating dislike that these two should not go along, as approved efficaciously by us, to wit, the creature's obedience of faith and life eternal. God loveth, approveth the believing of Jerusalem and of her children, as a moral duty, as the hen doth love to warm and nourish her chickens; and he hateth, with an exceeding and unfeigned dislike of improbation and hatred, their rebellious disobedience and refusing to be gathered: but there is no purpose, intention, or decree of God, holden forth in these invitations called his revealed will, by which he saith he intendeth and willeth that all he maketh the offer unto shall obey and be saved. But it's to be observed, that the revealed will of God, holden forth to all, called voluntas signi, doth not hold forth formally that God intendeth, decreeth, or purposeth in his eternal council, that any man shall actually obey, either elect or reprobate; it formally is the expression only of the good liking of that moral and duty conjunction between the obedience of the creature and the reward, but holdeth forth not any intention or decree of God, that any shall obey, or that all shall obey, or that none at all shall obey.

 

And what Arminians say of Christ's intention to die for all and every one, and of the Lord's intention and catholic good will to save all and every one, to wit, that these desires may be in God though not any be saved at all, but all eternally perish, which maketh the Lord's desires irrational, unwise, and frustraneous

Christ's good liking to save sinners. Expressed in his borrowed wishes, Deut. 5:29. O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep my commandments. Ps. 81:13. O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel walked in my ways. Which wish, as relating to disobeying Israel, is a figure, or metaphor borrowed from men, but otherwise showeth how acceptable the duty is to God, how obligatory to the creature. But the Lord's expostulations, Ezek. 18:31. Why will ye die, O house of Israel? Verse 32. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies. In the Lord's crying to sinners, Prov. 1:20. Wisdom cries, she uttereth her voice in the streets. The word is to cry with strong shouting, either for joy, Ps. 81:2, or sorrow, Lam. 2:19, which expresseth Christ's desire to save sinners.

 

Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himselfe, London 1647, pp. 443-45 [irregular pagination: colophon lll2-lll3] and 440-42 [colophon: Kkk4-Lll1] (From the Westminster Presbyterian Website)

To these passages in Deuteronomy and the Pslams, Winzer says,

“Such expressions, then, are intended to instruct the hearers as to what their passion ought to be, not to indicate that God is characterised by such passions Himself.” In reply to the Ezek, 18 passage Winzer says, “God is saying, hypothetically, if the wicked will turn from his wickedness, I will have no pleasure in his perishing on account of either his father’s or his own former sins. And this is borne out by the second half of the verse: “and not that he should return from his ways, and live.” That is, God shall be pleased, if the wicked meets the condition and turns from his sins, to grant life to him on account of his righteousness, rather than to leave him to perish on account of his own and his father’s sins.”

Here we see a clear contradiction in what Winzer is saying and what Rutherford is saying in that Rutherford is asserting that the perceptive will of God is volitional in wishing and desiring. Thirdly, when Winzer says “The will of precept has no volitional content, for it simply states what God has commanded ought to be done by man”, this is a direct denial of the hatred that God has for evil, which is the basis for penal substitutionary atonement. Hab 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor; Psalm 5:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. God has no emotions (See God’s Emotivity by Drake). Therefore, words predicated of God, That refer to human faculties are anthropopathic. These anthropopathisms are said to refer to volitions in God not emotions. But Winzer just denied volition at the level of precept. He has no basis for God’s hatred of evil. Picet notes in like, “the perceptive will is properly speaking, the execution of a part of the decretive will”.

Winzer says,

“Consequently, the report’s suggestion that the words, “God desires,” are to be referred to the revealed or preceptive will, creates a misnomer.”

Yet later he admits God does have desires at the level of precept. And he never explains why a desire always and in every sense implies an efficacious decree.   

Winzer continues,

“If God desires something to be, in accord with the proper understanding of the distinction which Calvinistic divines make between the decretive and the preceptive aspects of God’s will, we are bound to acknowledge that the desire has reference to the will of decree, because it is a desire for the futurition of an action, not the obligation of it”.

But doesn’t that imply that what he does not desire to be does not have reference to the will of decree? So he has a choice: Either admit that God desires sin and the mutilation of his Son which is why he decreed it; or admit that all of God’s desires are not coextensive with his efficacious decrees and do something that Hyper-Calvinists hate: acknowledge a permissive decree. Moreover, Winzer admits, “At most, all that can be affirmed is that God desires that such and such should be done by man, not that God desires that such and such shall be done”.  But didn’t Winzer just deny ANY volitional content to the perceptive will? How does he explain any desire or will in God at the level of precept? He doesn’t say.      

Winzer says,

Had God decreed the salvation of all men, it would be possible to predicate “that God desires the salvation of all men.” Since, however, God has not decreed the salvation of all men, but has only commanded that all men be saved, and since God’s preceptive will only commands what ought to be done, the most that can be said is that God desires that all men be under an obligation to be saved”.

But he admits that we can speak of God’s desire that men should do their duty which is exactly what Rutherford said and which denies that God has no volition a the level of precept.

Winzer says,

It may be that he [Murray] was arguing from the will of God to the nature of God. That is, God commands A, therefore God must be A-like. Such a manner of reasoning is sound in itself, for the moral law of God is of use to all men “to inform them of the holy nature and will of God.” [WLC 95] If this was Prof. Murray’s method of argumentation, it is not without fault. For he has not strictly reasoned from the will of God to the nature of God. The nature of God is what God is irrespective of the creature.”

Yet the West uses God’s interaction with the creature to promote the Filioque clause. This is hypocrisy. If he admits that the Ontological Trinity is what God is irrespective of creation then he cannot use Economical actions of the Holy Spirit to prove the Filioque which is a doctrine respecting the Ontological Trinity. Yet that is all the West has to prove this doctrine.  

Winzer says,

So while the offer of the gospel might very well imply a disposition of loving-kindness on the part of God, that is all it could imply. For it is the eternal decree of God which has determined the mode in which He shall express His nature towards the creature”.

Does Rutherford imply anything more than “a disposition of loving-kindness”? I don’t think so. Rutherford says,

[Margin: No lip-love, nor any empty love in God, but that which is effectual and real to work the good he desireth to the party loved.] We are hence taught to acknowledge no love to be in God which is not effectual in doing good to the creature; there is no lip-love, no raw well-wishing to the creature which God doth not make good. We know but three sorts of love that God has to the creature, all the three are like the fruitful womb; there is no miscarrying, no barrenness in the womb of divine love.

[Margin: A threefold love in God effectual.] He loves all that he has made, so far as to give them a being, to conserve them in being as long as he pleaseth. He had a desire to have sun, moon, stars, earth, heaven, sea, clouds, air. He created them out of the womb of love and out of goodness, and keeps them in being. He can hate nothing that he made.

There is a second love and mercy in God, by which he loves all men and angels, yea, even his enemies, makes the sun to shine on the unjust man as well as the just, and causeth dew and rain to fall on the orchard and fields of the bloody and deceitful man, whom the Lord abhors, as Christ teacheth us, Matt. 5:43-48. Nor doth God miscarry in this love. He desires the eternal being of damned angels and men; he sends the gospel to many reprobates, and invites them to repentance and with longanimity and forbearance suffereth pieces of froward dust to fill the measure of their iniquity, yet does not the Lord's general love fall short of what he willeth to them.

[Margin: Christ's love of election cannot miscarry.] There is a love of special election to glory; far less can God come short in the end of this love. For the work of redemption prospereth in the hands of Christ, even to the satisfaction of his soul; saving of sinners (all glory to the Lamb) is a thriving work and successful in Christ's hands.” (Christ Dying,Westminster Presbyterian Website)

Let the reader take notice that here Rutherford says “He desires the eternal being of damned angels and men”. This is exactly the opposite of what Winzer said. Winzer said, “Hence, some warrant seems to be afforded for the view that God bears a general love to the creature as His creature;” Not as a reprobate and damned sinner. 

Winzer says,

“The proponents of universal love in John Owen’s day argued that God “by his infinite goodness was inclined to desire the happiness of them, all and every one, that they might be delivered from misery, and be brought unto himself.”

Rutherford asserted a love for all men that gives them, “being, to conserve them in being as long as he pleaseth… He created them out of the womb of love and out of goodness, and keeps them in being. He can hate nothing that he made.” Rutherford posits a provisional love and a desire for their eternal being.  What he doesn’t posit of God toward ALL men is a love of election as the Arminians. Moreover, Rutherford’s use of creation out of the womb of love and hating nothing he created sounds very natural to me.

Winzer says, 

As the report has put forward the same argument, the cogent response of Dr. Owen is worthy of our attention. “That God hath any natural or necessary inclination, by his goodness, or any other property, to do good to us, or any of his creatures, we do deny. Everything that concerns us is an act of his free will and good pleasure, and not a natural, necessary act of his Deity, as shall be declared.”

If Winzer’s and Owen’s point is that the creation is not necessary to God, fine, but is he seriously suggesting that God being good to his creatures is not natural? That God desires the salvation of all men by nature I definitely reject but there are other loves except the love of election as Winzer and Rutherford have made very clear. Moreover, This Arminian position is the same one that is at the basis for the Filioque and Dr. Clark’s later erroneous Necessary Creation doctrine. The Arminians are here confusing the divine will with the divine nature as the West in general does in the Filioque. Thirdly, the fact that creation extends from the will not the nature is not to say that the nature does not regulate the will’s operations and desires in the economy of salvation and creation. Turretin said,

“The will can be called the primary rule of justice either intrinsically or extrinsically…In the former sense, his will is regulated by his justice; in the latter sense, the justice in us is regulated by nothing else than his will…But with respect to God, the will cannot always be called the first rule of justice. It is a rule in those things which have only a free and positive goodness, but not in those things which have essential goodness…For in the latter, God’s will is regulated, not indeed extrinsically but intrinsically (viz. BY HIS MOST HOLY NATURE). Hence it has been well said that certain things are good because God wills them…but that God wills others because they are just and good per se in their own nature…”
Institutes, Vol 1, pg. 233, Third Topic, The Will of God, xviii, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1994) Muller affirms this on page 455, in Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics   Vol. 3(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2003)

Methinks Winzer is great at distinguishing between divine nature and will but drives too strong a division between them here. Moreover, his wedge is even more devastatingly problematic in light of the Scholastic Doctrine of Divine Simplicity which allows no real distinction between nature and will in God. 

Winzer says,

“To suppose that God has a disposition “pointing to” anything which concerns the creature, be it salvation or otherwise, is to predicate something of the Divine decree. So that any hypothesis with regard to the expression of God’s nature towards the creature is no longer a statement about the nature of God, but about the will of God.”

Rutherford was very clear that his view of God’s desires do not mis-carry.

Winzer says,

“In the final analysis, whether Prof. Murray was attempting to accredit some other aspect to the will of God or not, he has succeeded in affirming a speculative will as espoused by Remonstrants and Amyraldians alike…. The attempt can only succeed in advancing the unfounded notion of a speculative will in God which never finds fulfilment because its conditions are never met by man… If God desires something to be, in accord with the proper understanding of the distinction which Calvinistic divines make between the decretive and the preceptive aspects of God’s will, we are bound to acknowledge that the desire has reference to the will of decree, because it is a desire for the futurition of an action, not the obligation of it

Earlier, Winzer admitted and I agree with him that, “At most, all that can be affirmed is that God desires that such and such should be done by man, not that God desires that such and such shall be done”. Second, I do not accept that the perceptive will is another will in God but a part of the one will.  If Murray put forward the argument that God desires that Reprobate men shall be saved Rutherford denies it. Rutherford asserted this desire of God:

“A vehemency and a serious and unfeigned ardency of desire that we do what is our duty, and the concatenation of these two, extremely desired of God, our coming to Christ and our salvation. This moral connection between faith and salvation is desired of God with his will of approbation, complacency, and moral liking, without all dissimulation, most unfeignedly.” (Rutherford)

This is effectuated in men’s innate structures that strike and condemn the conscience of men when they do evil. It is also effectuated in many men being under the preaching and conditional offers of Christ in the COG and in the administrations of civil government and moral societies. It is effectuated in the judgments that God executes on individual and national societies of Reprobates. Brian Scwertley wrote a great piece titled Political Polytheism where he says,

“In Deuteronomy 18 we are told that God drove the heathen nations out of their lands because He hated their false religions. “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you” (Dt. 18:9-12). “These foreign offices and practices, which were an abomination to the Lord, were to be forbidden in Israel precisely because they were part of the reason for God’s judgment of the Canaanites, which would be seen in their ejection from the land. If the Israelites adopted similar practices, they too would become liable to ejection from the land.” One could argue that the main concern of this passage is false forms of revelation. But, are not all false religions and cults founded upon false revelations?

     In Isaiah 19 the prophet says that God will judge Egypt for its idolatry. “The burden against Egypt. Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud, and will come into Egypt; the idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, and the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst” (Is. 19:1). The prophet Jeremiah says that God will bring judgment upon Egypt, Pharaoh and their false gods. “The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘Behold, I will bring punishment on Amon [a sun god] of No [ancient Thebes], and Pharaoh and Egypt, with their gods and their kings—Pharaoh and those who trust in him” (Jer. 46:25; cf. Is. 46:1). God singles out Amon the Egyptian chief deity of Thebes (No). “Amon was later merged with Re to become Amon-Re, the king of the gods and peculiarly the god of the rulers of Egypt.”Pharaoh who lays claim to divinity is also singled out. Is it not clear that Jehovah punishes idolatry even in non-covenanted nations?

     Jehovah, the only God, the Lord of the universe, hates religious pluralism. To Assyria God said, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation…. As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved image excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria, as I have done to Samaria and her idols, shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols” (Is. 10:5, 10, 11)? God proclaimed judgment against Moab for idolatry. “‘Moreover,’ says the LORD, ‘I will cause to cease in Moab the one who offers sacrifices in the high places and burns incense to his gods’” (Jer. 48:35). Jehovah also crushed the idols of Babylon. “Declare among the nations, proclaim, and set up a standard; proclaim, and do not conceal it, say, ‘Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach [or Marduk, a Babylonian god] is broken in pieces; her idols are humiliated, her images are broken in pieces…. A drought is against her waters, and they will be dried up. For it is the land of carved images and they are insane with their idols’” (Jer. 50:1, 2, 38). “Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge, every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image; for his molded image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are futile, a work of errors; in the time of their punishment they shall perish…. Therefore behold, the days are coming that I will bring judgment on the carved images of Babylon; her whole land shall be ashamed, and all her slain shall fall in her midst…. ‘Therefore, behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring judgment on her carved images, and throughout all her land the wounded shall groan’” (Jer. 51:17, 18, 47, 52). If God so hated the idolatry of the Assyrians, Moabites, Egyptians, Babylonians and the inhabitants of Canaan that He poured out His wrath upon them, why should He exempt the inhabitants of America, Canada, or Great Britain, etc., for their idolatries? Political polytheism was a common practice in ancient nations—a practice condemned by God. There is no evidence in the New Testament that God has had a change of mind regarding idolatry.”

http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/polytheism.htm

He hated their religions, why? Because he desired at the level of precept that they worship Him, the true God. The Hyper-Calvinists will reply, “but that makes God’s will of precept at odds with his will of decree!” How else can the Hyper-Calvinist explain these actions of God toward the reprobate? Shouldn’t God have let them continue in their sins so they could treasure up more wrath against themselves? God hates evil and that is why he punishes it always and will be glorified in his punishments of evil and evil men. God’s perceptive will and desires against evil are effectuated in these punishments and the glory that he receives from it. Maybe they should do what Clark did and reject the doctrine of divine simplicity. That way we can posit the perceptive will as a part of the decreed will.

Winzer says,

The decree ensures that the divine attributes are …harmonious in their manifestation to the creature. If one of God’s perfections were to manifest itself towards the creature in a way that is contrary to the decree, it could only have the effect of dividing God against Himself. 2. The decree ensures that the divine attributes are expressed in accord with their ultimacy, so that the perfections of God are glorious in their manifestation to the creature. When it is considered that the decrees of God are “for His own glory,” if any perfection in God were to point towards what was contrary to His decrees, that would be a disposition to not manifest God’s glory. And it is preposterous to think that God desires that which is not for His own glory”.

This is a point that Rutherford admitted when he said,

And what Arminians say of Christ's intention to die for all and every one, and of the Lord's intention and catholic good will to save all and every one, to wit, that these desires may be in God though not any be saved at all, but all eternally perish, which maketh the Lord's desires irrational, unwise, and frustraneous 

Winzer says,

“Yet, the Scriptures sometimes speak of the Creator relating and acting towards the creation as considered in its original condition, as when the shedding of man’s blood and the cursing of a man’s person is forbidden because man is still regarded as the image of God (Gen. 9:6; Jam. 3:9). Hence, some warrant seems to be afforded for the view that God bears a general love to the creature as His creature; [Not as a reprobate sinner] and that not on the basis of a disposition or tendency of the Divine nature, but because of the eternal decree to be disposed in this way towards the creature.

This wedge between the divine nature and will that Winzer keeps asserting is the exact notion that Turretin denied earlier when he said,

“The will can be called the primary rule of justice either intrinsically or extrinsically…In the former sense, his will is regulated by his justice; in the latter sense, the justice in us is regulated by nothing else than his will…But with respect to God, the will cannot always be called the first rule of justice. It is a rule in those things which have only a free and positive goodness, but not in those things which have essential goodness…For in the latter, God’s will is regulated, not indeed extrinsically but intrinsically (viz. BY HIS MOST HOLY NATURE). Hence it has been well said that certain things are good because God wills them…but that God wills others because they are just and good per se in their own nature…”

It is also a denial of the basis of Penal Substitution in Owen’s Dissertation on Divine Justice. See The Essence of God by Drake Shelton.

Winzer’s attempts to wedge the divine nature from the will are comical. First his doctrine of simplicity is his elephant in the room and second he is posting the same Fiat form of morality that you have in the Muslim religion and in classic Hyper-Calvinism. On this view, loving people and being good to them are good because God wills it to be so and not because it is a reflection of his nature. This is nonsense and Turretin denied it. Winzer is also in danger here as all Hyper-Determinists in denying Penal Substitution. Owen’s argument for penal substitution in his Dissertation on Divine Justice is God’s natural disposition against evil to always punish it. This is the basis for penal substitutionary blood atonement that stands as a major individuating point between Christianity and the Muslim religion.   Hyper-Calvinism must deny it.

Winzer says,

“What should be kept in mind with regard to this love as expounded by these divines is its generality. If it is appropriate to say that God bears a general love to the creature as His creature, such a love must, by its very nature, be without reference to particular persons or any special purpose…As John Knox has said: “You make the love of God common to all men; and that do we constantly deny, and say, that before all beginning God hath loved his Elect in Christ Jesus his Sonne, and that from the same eternitie he hath reprobated others.”

But this assumes only one kind of love and the same love toward elect and reprobate.  Rutherford was clear to individuate the different loves in God.

Winzer says,

“Consequently, the question as to whether God loves the reprobate becomes rhetorical. The answer must be “no,” because the very nature of the question requires an answer with respect to God’s special purpose to love or not to love particular persons.”

But that is what Rutherford said earlier and Winzer has claimed Rutherford as representative as I pointed out above. Rutherford says “He desires the eternal being of damned angels and men”. This is exactly the opposite of what Winzer said. Winzer said, “Hence, some warrant seems to be afforded for the view that God bears a general love to the creature as His creature;” 

 

IV. Concluding Arguments Against Those Who Deny the Free Offer I.E. Hyper-Calvinists (HC)

1. When Winzer says “The will of precept has no volitional content, for it simply states what God has commanded ought to be done by man”, this is a direct denial of the hatred that God has for evil, which is the basis for penal substitutionary atonement. Hab 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor; Psalm 5:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. God has no emotions (See God’s Emotivity by Drake). Therefore, words predicated of God, that refer to human faculties are anthropopathic. These anthropopathisms are said to refer to volitions in God not emotions. But Winzer just denied volition at the level of precept. He has no basis for God’s hatred of evil.

2. The HC view asserts that all of God’s desires must come to fruition in only efficacious decrees. But doesn’t that imply that what God does not desire to be does not have reference to the will of decree? So he has a choice: Either admit that God desires sin and the mutilation of his Son which is why he decreed it; or admit that all of God’s desires are not coextensive with his efficacious decrees and do something that Hyper-Calvinists hate: acknowledge a permissive decree.

3. Winzer asserts that what God is in nature is separate from the creation, which is correct. Yet, the West uses God’s interaction with the creature to promote the Filioque clause. This is hypocrisy. If he admits that the Ontological Trinity is what God is irrespective of creation then he cannot use Economical actions of the Holy Spirit to prove the Filioque which is a doctrine respecting the Ontological Trinity. Yet that is all the West has to prove this doctrine.  

4. Rutherford says “He desires the eternal being of damned angels and men”. This is exactly the opposite of what Winzer said. Winzer said that God’s provisional action to all men was to men as creatures, not men as reprobated sinners.

5. Methinks Winzer is great at distinguishing between divine nature and will but drives too strong a division between them. Moreover, his wedge is even more devastatingly problematic in light of the Scholastic Doctrine of Divine Simplicity which allows no real distinction between nature and will in God. Thomas Aquinas said in Summa Contra Gentiles,

"Moreover, since every agent acts so far as it is in act, God, Who is pure act, must act through His essence. Willing, however, is a certain operation of God. Therefore God must be endowed with will through his essence. Therefore His will is His essence...From this it appears that God's will is not other than His essence.I:73:4 and I, pp. 243, 242- From Free Choice in Maximus the Confessor by Joseph P Farrell. 

6. The HC view denies the Free Offer because the offer implies a condition that depraved man  cannot fulfill and must be entirely passive in the economy of salvation. They cannot vindicate their  use of the word “passive.” Here is Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary on passive:
“(1) : acted upon by an external agency (2) : receptive to outside impressions or influencesb (1) : asserting that the grammatical subject of a verb is subjected to or affected by the action represented by that verb (2) : containing or yielding a passive verb formc (1) : lacking in energy or will : LETHARGIC (2) : tending not to take an active or dominant part: induced by an outside agency …“Hits” in “She hits the ball” is active, while “hit” in “The ball was hit” is passive….In “He was hit by the ball,” “hit” is a passive verb.”

Their view must make Acts 16 say that Lydia “was believed by the Lord” or something like that. Belief is a volition in which man is active. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines volition: “an act of making a choice or decision; also : a choice or decision made 2: the power of choosing or determining : WILL”

 Shedd says in Dogmatic Theology, Third Edition by W.G.T. Shedd, ed. Alan Gomes (P&R Publishing: Phillipsburg, NJ, 2003),

“Evangelical faith is an act of man. The active nature of faith in Christ is indicated in the scriptural phraseology, which describes it as ‘coming to Christ’ (Matt. 11:28), ‘looking to Christ’ (John 1:29), ‘receiving Christ’ (3:11), and ‘following Christ’ (8:12). The object of the Epistle of James is to teach that faith is an active principle (pg. 788)…That faith is an affectionate and voluntary act is proved by the following: ‘Faith works by love’ (Gal 5:6); peace be to the brethren, and love, with faith from God the Father’ (Eph. 6.23; 3:17; 4:16; 5:2 Col 2:2; 1 Thess. 3:12; 5:8; 1 Tim. 1:14); ‘hold fast the form of sound words, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 1:13).” (pg. 789)

The point is faith is not passive it is active. Moreover, the word “passive” implies a lack of energy or will. This is the exact thing I have been saying for some time now. If man has no will neither Christ’s human nature for they are consubstantial. Ergo, HC is Monothelete.

7. HC has made the Spirit’s work the condition which removes the objective commands of God from any conditional obligation on them, making the Spirit (now divorced from the Letter) the standard of obedience. That is Antinomianism par excellence.

8. The HC position on faith is “that faith is not a condition for justification, but an evidence of it; again, which God unilaterally, sovereignly gives the elect sinner”. The problem is faith is the point at which the elect are untied to Christ. Union to Christ is the basis of justification. God does not justify us as we are in our sins. He justifies us as he sees us in Christ. If you make faith an effect of justification then there is no basis for it and the whole is a fiat form or morality and redemption.

9. John Macleod says,

“The Hyper-Calvinistic…maintained that Christ is held forth or offered as Savior to those only whom God effectually calls. To such positions they came because they reasoned that man, as a bankrupt in spiritual resources, cannot be called upon to do what is out of the compass of his power. He can neither repent nor believe. So it was out of place to call upon him to do what he cannot do. In this, when we look into it, we find the common Arminian position that man’s responsibility is limited by his ability. The Arminian holds to the presence of a certain ability in those that are called; otherwise sinners could not be called; otherwise sinners could not be called upon to repent and believe the Gospel. Each side takes up the principle from its own end. They fail together to recognize that the sinner is responsible for his spiritual impotence.ST, pg. 140-141. See also Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will, DISCUSSION. FIRST PART. Sec. 65

http://www.truecovenanter.com/truelutheran/luther_bow.html#pt1

10. The HC does not understand that there is a difference between a promise and the objects that are promised. In Rutherford’s COG one may have unconditional promises given to them while receiving the objects of what is promised is conditional. 

 

 

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