Friday, December 05, 2008

Is James White a Hyper-Calvinist? - Conclusion (I hope)

New Developments

James White has changed the nature of this discussion as it relates to hypercalvinism. He recently posted a response to Tony Byrne on the AOMin blog, and also posted a video, which vitiates much of the discussion about whether James White is a hyper-Calvinist.

Having posted a link to the video, I must comment that some of what White says there is simply false and bombastic; and I don't post the video because I like it or approve of it, but because White makes an important doctrinal concession in it.

Taking the blog post and video together, we can say that White believes the following:

  • God loves all men, though God's love is not monolithic
  • God's will (his revealed will) is that all men obey his commands to repent and believe the gospel
  • In that context (revealed will and command) we can say that God desires the salvation of all men

Having made those statements, much of what I (and others) have written in criticism of White as a hyper-Calvinist is no longer cogent. In my view, White has effectively exonerated himself from the charge.

I feel quite certain that White will take the position that this is nothing new for him -- this has been his position all along. That may be the case, but this is new as far as his statements on the record. I know of no other place in White's work where he has made these kinds of statements. I haven't read all of his work, and I freely admit that he may have held this position all along while I suffered under a cloud of ignorance. But I doubt it. Citations anyone?

And Tony Byrne has made the point on his blog that White's new position is unsupported by any scriptural analysis from White. How would White support his view that God loves all men? Or that God desires (according to his revealed will) that all men obey the gospel? I'm willing to grant White the benefit of the doubt on this; Byrne might want more trenchant statements from White.

The dispute could have been avoided

And should have. White could have answered this debate easily long before the John 3:16 conference by making these points clearly. He could have answered Allen simply by stating these things. But he didn't. He made these statements under a certain degree of pressure. He was forced -- or so it seems to me -- kicking and screaming into these admissions. Ok ... maybe I exaggerate; but that's the way I see it.

I also worry about the solidity of this "new" position. Will there be more "qualifications," and "clarifications?" We can only wait and see. For now I am willing to admit that White is not a hyper-Calvinist. But I worry.

Words have consequences

Having made these statements, White's previous statements on the subject become confusing and contradictory to the point of a hopeless muddle. One could go into long analysis of White's writings and parse his words, but that would be an entirely fruitless and jejune exercise. I won't do it.

More Consequences

There are two other important consequences. First, White is now on record (provided he doesn't start wiggling and provided we don't try to reconcile his recent statements with his old ones) as affirming an orthodox Calvinistic position. This is good.

Another important consequence is that Phil Johnson has gutted his hyper-Calvinism primer to the point of uselessness. Johnson (quite unnecessarily as it turned out) said in defense of White that Dr. Allen had misinterpreted his Primer. Now that is not exactly what Johnson said, but that is the way his statements are being interpreted (by both White and Tom Ascol, and presumably many others).

Johnson, who is normally careful with his words, began muddying the waters -- for the sake of his friend White -- by introducing qualifications about optative expressions, and alleging his personal knowledge of White's orthodoxy, and asserting the apparent misunderstanding of both by Dr. Allen. I deny that Allen misunderstood Phil's Primer ... he clearly understood it all too well. And White's statements up until recently put him solidly in the hyper-Calvinist camp, whatever Phil may say about "misunderstanding his primer."

As a consequence of Johnson's defense of White, other people have begun seriously to misunderstand it, and now Tom Ascol, for example, is saying that Steve Camp is not a hyper-Calvinist because Allen misunderstands Johnson's primer. Oh really!? Johnson would never (one hopes) say such a thing, but his sloppiness in recent weeks has given others a good deal of room to make these kinds of statements. The usefulness of his Primer as a benchmark has been eviscerated. And given Phil's qualifications on "optative" language, his primer as a teaching tool has been eviscerated as well. I would never, given his recent qualifying statements about optative expressions, point anyone to that Primer. I will point people to Tony Byrne for real instruction on the point from this time forward. (Byrne will point us to Curt Daniel and Iain Murray ... who presumably won't be issuing "clarifications" that arise out of personal motives and result in more confusion.)

Well, that's all I have to say on this matter of James White and hypercalvinism ... hopefully forever. If Johnson or White make additional statements that retract or clarify recent events I may revisit it. But I hope that doesn't happen.

For next time, I'm going back to my critique of Nicole.


Mike Felker said...

If you wouldn't openly say the things to Dr. White in front of a live audience on his program, I would recommend taking this blog article down.

Big Red Machine said...

You know, Steve, in the same way that you are making all kinds of conjectured conclusions about Dr. White's clarification of his position that he is certainly not a hyper-Calvinist, I sincerely doubt that you could go through White's work and explain what he believes. In other words, it is not that you won't, I doubt that you can.

BTW, this is little more than a cheap debating tactic in my estimation, to claim that it would take far too long to delve into and refute someone's position with whom you do not agree, when the truth is you have not even started the research.

Rev. T. R. Holland said...

"I feel quite certain that White will take the position that this is nothing new for him -- this has been his position all along. That may be the case, but this is new as far as his statements on the record."

its quite interesting, you make the charge that Dr. White has not made his position known, via the record, but anyone who has read any of Dr. White's books on the subject of Calvinism or even perhaps the countless articles on his blog would find your assumption laughable. What you have failed to mention here is the misinformation that Dr. Allen and the others participating in the John 3:16 Conference received on the subject of Calvinism and it's proper definition. Most who have heard the discussions that took place at the conference are left scratching their heads. I think in the future, it would be wise for one to actually do the research on the subject before one is to sit before a national conference and expound on a subject one really doesn’t know anything about.

Steve said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've heard that "come on White's program stuff." Well, if you think he's so hot, tell him to come to my blog and I'll give him a guest post. We'll have it out where HE can't hang up the phone on me.

And big red ... you haven't a clue. Say something meaningful when you're going for your 15 minutes.

Steve said...

Oh and Holland ... citations. I asked for citations.

Steve said...

I also note that in White's little rant (the "hubris" post), he doesn't cite any evidence. There WOULD BE evidence (he claims) if he just took the time to find it. But he can't be bothered. Well don't blame those of us who wonder what you believe, James. One cite? One quote? Anything?

Anonymous said...

Read White's book book co-writtin with Dave Hunt "debating Calvinism" it was written several years ago. In it, WHite says all the things you seem to think are newly adopted by him. Or read any of his blog posts in which he interacts with Ergun Caner.

Jason Cebalo

ps. I should make clear, I hold no particular brief with White, I;m a Roman Catholic and, in White's view, not a real a Christian. I have, however, been a regular reader of his blog for some years and own a number of his books. I know for a fact that what you call his new position is exactly what he's been saying for as long as i've followed his blog and I think for you to suggets otherwise when, by your own admission, you have very little familiarity with his work is a clear case of injustice.

Steve said...

"Go read such and such" is not evidence. Give me a quote with a page number. THAT is debate. "Go read" is hiding your head.

Mike Felker said...

Tell James to come to your blog and type a response??? Seriously? If Dr. White participated in such a thing, no work would be done for the cause of Christ, as he'd spend an endless amount of time responding to such silliness. And Steve, to be honest with you brother, I think your post and all of these accusations are nothing but a distraction and do nothing good for the cause of Christ.

But regardless, people like you are very brave behind a keyboard and can always find excuses for going on the air. As long as you be respectful and don't interrupt, you won't be disconnected from the program. Obviously, if a Mormon like Piere can call Dr. White's program as many times as he does and engage in a respectful dialogue, I think you could as well.

Steve said...

Mike-e ... how about a quote? Anything?

Josh Walker said...

LPC said...

I think what Steve is asking is fair enough, he is asking for a quote. Why don't you guys simply give it to him?

I do find the argument "go read such and such" evades the issue. Give a straight quote to put this blog owner in his place.

I have no dog in this fight, since I am Lutheran.

But giving hims the quote he needs will be fair to Dr. WHite and Steve.


Steve said...

LOL ... If you guys think I'm going to say "sorrrrryyyy" when you haven't produced evidence ... you have another think coming. Your "opinion" isn't going to do it.

Come on somebody ... give me a quote where James espouses one of the views I listed in my blog. Even something equivocal, and we'll debate it.

Mike Felker said...

I'm not sure how productive it would be to dig through all his books, articles, and blogs in search for a quote for someone who a) probably doesn't care and just wants to cause strife and controversy in the body of Christ and b) hasn't even read White's work himself so therefore has no basis for such criticisms and shouldn't be taken seriously

The only reason i'm bothering with this is because I care about Dr. White's work and thus, his reputation and character. But I can only interact like this for so long before I throw my arms up and say "whats the use?" Steve, I recommend that you do something for the sake of the gospel and not involve yourself in such petty and useless endeavors.

LPC said...

But you guys are sure that Dr. White has always held this view, why not for the sake of Dr. White give the quote?

BTW, I appreciate what Dr. White is doing in the field of apologetics and count him a Godly brother in Christ though I have some differences of course.

At any rate, if the Sovereign Decree of God is my axiom(which is not in mine), the only corollary position to be in is to be Supra Lapsarian.

Give the quote.


Steve said...

I agree with LPC ... if you are concerned about Dr. White, then defend him with more than just lip-service. Find the quote!!

You say I don't care ... well then you are just as guilty as you claim I am of going off half-cocked. You don't know anything about me, and you have the gall to say that I don't care and just want to stir up strife. Listen ... you could stop the strife by giving the quote, as James could have done in this whole hypercalvinism thing. Just GIVE THE QUOTE!!! If you give the quote, strife will cease. If you don't, then you'll just have to keep up the bluster until you "throw up your hands" like a good christian should.

Steve said...

And by the way ... I HAVE given quotes from White and tried to analyze them. I have tried to give White the benefit of the doubt. I have even defended him to my friends. All you have to do is produce a quote. That's all you have to do. If you won't do it, then all your posturing is worthless.

Anonymous said...

Sure thing:


is something the man wrote over two years ago in which he clearly defends the view that God loves everybody.

Are you happy?

Jason Cebalo

Steve said...

And what from that url do you claim is similar to what I posted in my blog? In fact, the url exhibits the typical White argumentation on this point. I would never have written what I wrote in my blog today based on the quote you provided.

If that's the best you got, it's the best you got.

So what do you think White was saying there Jason? You think White was speaking of God loving all men and pleading with them to be saved because he desires them to repent and obey the gospel?

BlackBaron said...

"some of what White says there is simply false and bombastic"

Steve, can you cite some specific examples of this please?

Anonymous said...


In your original article, you cited three things which you claimed White was now saying for the first time and that hge had not previously said on the record. The first of these three things was that God loves everybody though He does not do so monolithicly. In the blog post i linked to, White clearly defebds this postion, in other words, of the three things which you claim White is saying on the record for the first time, he has said at least one of them over two years ago.

Jason Cebalo

Steve said...

He said, just as one example, that Tony Byrne is unconcerned about having his material used to promote rank Arminianism if he can have the opportunity to go after somebody who believes in particular redemption. It is both false and bombastic. And this is typical for White.

Steve said...

But Jason, that point alone doesn't make an orthodox Calvinist position. Many hyper-Calvinists, will say that God is "kind" to all men, or "benevolent" to all men, though this kindness is meant only to damn the non-elect.

I am willing to concede that he spoke of "omni-benevolence," though it is only the context of denying that "omni-benevolence" equals "uni-benevolence." So White could have said "omni-benevolence" only in the sense of providential kindness and delay of judgment. But in my blog post today, I am speaking of God's loving all men in the context of desiring them to obey the gospel and be saved. This was not addressed in the url you posted.

Go Share Your Faith said...

It's comical that you sit here in anonymity making statements that haven't been carefully researched about a man who has been teaching theology, Greek, and Hebrew on the University level, holds several degrees, has written dozens of books, and regularly makes his positions known on national radio, and when shown even one refutation, you poo-poo it and red-herring the discussion!

I think that it would be useful if you have questions about what White did or didn't say in the past, to just ask him directly would it not?

He HAS a toll free number.

I, for one, would be interested to hear the interaction between what you assert (yes, assert) and what Dr. White will document.

What do you say?'s an unsubstantiated rant just like any other.

Go Share Your Faith said...

Finding this citation at Aomin took exactly .25 seconds and 5 minutes to read and cut/paste here.

Here is the link and the text of it is below:

James white speaks of the differentiation in God's love in regards to the elect vs the non-elect.

Once again, the eternal reality determines the events in time, and in God's sovereign decree He chooses to bring us out of darkness into His marvelous light at a particular point in time. Until that time, we are slaves so sin and walk just as Paul describes. However, is there any chance at all that the wrath of God itself could fall upon such a person? Not if they were given to the Son in eternity past (John 6:39), for that would involve His losing one of those thusly given. So, recognizing that regeneration, faith, repentance, and justification are all things experienced by the elect in time itself is not the same as saying that these things are doubtful or uncertain from the divine perspective, nor that the ground upon which the Spirit acts in regenerating us and giving us the gifts of faith and repentance and hence bringing about our justification is not specifically oriented toward the elect alone, for in all of this, it is the love of God that directs and completes the work of salvation. And Dr. Svendsen and I agree, that kind of redeeming love is not expressed for the non-elect. So, when we speak of the unregenerate elect one as a "child of wrath," we are speaking descriptively, and confessing that we lived and acted and thought like every other person who is likewise spiritually dead. We should not, however, extend that to mean that the elect were not already clearly differentiated in the love of God, which was set upon them before creation itself.

There were 8 pages of hits but I got tired...I figured you could do this homework yourself if you cared to find out what he believes on the subject.

John O said...

James White to Dave Hunt: "And the love God has for His own people, the elect, is different than the love He shows to the creation in general or to rebel sinners outside of His grace in particular." (Debating Calvinism, p. 268).

Also, I find it ironic that Steve chides Dr. White for being "bombastic," when throughout Steve's responses here, he types in ALL CAPS, and seems rather "bombastic" to me.

By Grace Alone,

John O

Anonymous said...


Calvinist "TurretinFan" ( emphatically denies God's omni-benevolence. I recently had a conversation with him about that. Though he holds to God's goodness.
Search his blog for "omni-benevolence".

Why am I saying this?
I guess there's just a lot of controversy about goodness in the reformed camp to begin with. How does God's goodness relate to a human conception of goodness? If God's goodness does not need to comprise what we would normally conceive by that vocabulary from a human point of view, doesn't this mean we are using the wrong vocabularies?

Is a goodness which has little or nothing to do with "our" understanding of goodness any goodness at all, or just an empty word? I guess that's the real question.

PS. I'm not the same anon as above.

Steve said...

Allright guys, I'm willing to grant you the "love" part ... though your quotes are equivocal, and could be affirmed by a hyper-calvinist. But I'll give it to you.

Are you saying, then, that White has clearly taught that this love means he desires their eternal well-being and pleads with them to repent and believe the gospel?

Robert ... I give google credit for the .25 seconds. You, on the other hand, are lazy. You should have done better than that with all that speedy search power at your disposal. And I've already read enough of White. If you think he's teaching nothing new here, then either his words are slippery, or you're going to have to show me something. It's your problem, not mine.

Steve said...

Anonymous ... regarding "omni-benevolence" and turretinfan ... I was thinking the same think last night as I got ready for bed. I'm sure many of White's "fans" are saying, "No, he doesn't mean that at all." LOL. Here one Roman Catholic (and others ... whoever they are) is defending White. But where is Turretinfan and Steve Camp? Are THEY saying that this is nothing new for White? LOL. No, they're saying "He isn't saying that at all."

Steve said...

John O. You get full credit. I appreciate the cite and your effort in finding it. Good job.

It's still an equivocal statement, in my mind. But I'll give it to you.

Now my question is ... has he ever connected the love of God with pleading for sinners (even the non-elect) and a desire for their salvation?

I mean, I admit it's possible; I'd like to see it documented. If he has, then that is good and I'll shutup and retract everything.

Go Share Your Faith said...


First you dogmatically state something and beg for evidence to the contrary.

When it's presented, you minimize it or dismiss it.

Again...Dr. White's phone number is in this combox...I say go for it...get it right from the horses mouth.

I'll not be wasting my time at this blog anymore...bye

Anonymous said...

I think Turretinfan's denial of universal love is seen in his post on the church song "Jesus loves me, this I know". He objects to this song, because the love of Jesus belongs not to all. Here is the text:

Taking this into consideration, I think any usage of the word love doesn't make much sense in this context.

Steve said...

Robert ... PLEASE don't waste any more time here. Excellent decision. And consult a dictionary regarding the meaning of "dogmatic." Better use of your time.

Steve said...

Anonymous ... I know what you mean. I'm willing to give them "love" because I truly believe White has never connected love for the non-elect with a desire for salvation and pleading with them. That just is not in White's work. This is either something new or White's use of the words is slippery. I seriously am willing to give him full credit for a new position (or at least newly stated); he may very well have held this position privately, sharing it at the table with folks. And if I've misread White, I'm willing to admit that too. I just want to see the proof and not let these yahoos get by with "go read such and such." That is just plain lazy and all too typical of internet debate in general and White's followers in particular.

John O. is the only guy who has really stepped up to the plate here. I promise to treat you with respect John O. I'll even refrain from typing in all caps at you. :-)

Josh Walker said...


Josh Walker said...

After reading all the comments here, I can say one thing for sure, the name of the blog, Controversial Calvinism, fits perfectly.

Steve said...

Josh ... this is actually less equivocal than the "love" quotes. And you get credit for it.


And regarding burden of proof, you know it is not possible for me to prove a negative. And yet you insist I ought to have the burden of proof. Uhhhhh ... just humor me and come up with one more quote on desire, and you win.

Tony Byrne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Byrne said...

Steve asserted that Dr. White had these new beliefs: "2) God's will (his revealed will) is that all men obey his commands to repent and believe the gospel; 3) In that context (revealed will and command) we can say that God desires the salvation of all men."

Josh Walker tries to establish that White believes the second proposition by citing TPF, p. 149. After providing a small quote, Josh says, "This one quote should be enough to show that Dr. White has held to Steve's second point from at least the time of writing this book." Josh claims that White is commending on Acts 17:30 in the quote, but that is not accurate. Since Geisler associates Acts 17:30 with his perspective of 2 Peter 3:9, White's mixes his response to Acts 17:30 with his response to 2 Peter 3:9. White is really commenting on 2 Peter 3:9 in the quote that Josh uses. Look at White's response to Geisler carefully:

"Next, it is asserted that the "any" and "all" are "called to repent." Actually, the text says that God wills (βουλόμενός) for the "all" to come to repentance, and of course, this is quite true. And since God grants repentance (2 Tim. 2:24-25), God's purpose will be accomplished, and is accomplished in the elect. They all, as a group, do repent. Why anyone would wish to say "It is God's will that every single individual repent, but, alas, His will is constantly thwarted and refuted by the will of the creature" is hard to say. CBF [Chosen But Free] misses the point when it asserts that this cannot be the "beloved" because they have already repented. The point of the passage is that God will bring the elect to repentance throughout the time period prior to the parousia, the coming of Christ. At the point of Peter's writing, the repentance of every single individual reading this book was yet future."

James White, The Potter's Freedom (Amityville, NY.: Calvary Press Publishing, 2000), p.149.

Notice that White is saying that God wills for the "all" to come to repentance is quite true, because God grants repentance to the elect. They "all," as a group, do come to repentance. White thinks it is "quite true" that God wills for the "all" to come to repentance because the "all" are the group of the elect. The above quote does not indicate anything in White's theology or exegesis where he thinks that God wills for "every single individual" (or any of the non-elect) to repent. So, contrary to Josh's assertion, this quote is NOT "enough to show that White has held to Steve's second point from at least the time of writing this book."

Additionally, look at what White originally wrote:

"Actually, the text says that God wills for the "all" to come to repentance, and of course, this is quite true."

Now compare Josh's misquotation:

"Actually, the text says that God wills for 'all' to come to repentance, and of course, this is quite true"

Notice that Josh changes White's "the all" to "all." Why is that signifant? Because White views "the all" as the elect.

Big Red Machine said...

Steve said: "Go read such and such" is not evidence. Give me a quote with a page number. THAT is debate. "Go read" is hiding your head.

First, Steve, gimme a break, like anyone would have the expecation of fame by posting on YOUR blog. There were no comments, none, on this post until White pointed it out on HIS blog. I've been here before when I did a google and you had no comments on the start of this series. So, your annoyance at the subject implied in the title to this post is humorous, to say the least.

Now, to the item I quoted above, you have made thus far a lot of unsubstantiated assertions with no evidence yourself in this post. The burden of proof is still in your court, sir, not Mr. White or those posting comments. You haven't even served yet, all you have done is say that someone claims to have improved their tennis game to suit you. Heck, we don't even know if you have a racket or can use it if you do.

Steve said...

Ok Josh ... the second point is back on the table as needing proof. Naughty, naughty, naughty.

Steve said...

Big Red ... so do you have something to add to the discussion? I mean, we know your all upset and everything. Do you want to post more abuse of me? Or are you satisfied and we can move on with analysis of something meaningful?

Josh Walker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

Isn't it in fact the case that White's statement re. Geisler, "Why anyone would wish to say 'It is God's will that every single individual repent, but, alas, His will is constantly thwarted and refuted by the will of the creature' is hard to say" amounts to a denial of the second point rather than an affirmation of it? I think so. This would make any subsequent "proof" of the second point extremely problematic in terms of the law of noncontradiction.

Tony Byrne said...

Again, Steve asserted that this is a new belief for White:

2) God's will (his revealed will) is that all men obey his commands to repent and believe the gospel.

Notice how Josh tries to convert the above assertion to this in his reply:

"God wills to command all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel."

Josh wrote:

"But there is more. On the same page Dr. White goes on to state, "Next Dr. Geisler confuses the prescriptive will of God found in His law, which commands all men everywhere to repent, with the gift of repentance given to the elect in regeneration. It does not follow that if it is God's will to bring the elect to repentance that the law does not command repentance of everyone" (TPF, 149-150). Again, this is a clear affirmation of the second point that Steve seems to think Dr. White has changed on."

This statement that Josh tries to use does NOT prove that White has ever written in his books that "God wills all men to obey his commands to repent and believe the gospel." All it shows is that White has said that God wills to command all men to repent. It's one thing for A) God to will to command his creatures, and quite more for B) God to will his creatures to comply with his commandments. Steve's proposition above brings out the latter point (B), because he says "God's will is that all men obey..." etc.

Again, Josh has proved nothing, except that he apparently doesn't grasp Steve's points, yet.

Steve said...

Yes, very good, Tony. Thanks.

Josh Walker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RazorsKiss said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

No more links to "responses on my blog." If you want to respond, respond here. All further links will be deleted as promptly as I can get to them.

Josh ... if you really want to post here again, I think you owe me an apology. You called on me to apologize to White ... nes pas? Don't you think you owe me something?

Josh Walker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

All right, guys. I am this close to closing down this com box. You had better start posting comments on point that are not deceptive.

RazorsKiss said...

If you weren't on "blogger" I would have just done an inline trackback. As it stands, you're on some freebie blog software, with freebie commenting software, so I left a comment in lieu of a trackback.

Answer it or not. I really don't care. If I commented on your blog, would you really comment on mine? Would you? It goes both ways, mon frere.

As many deleted comments as I've seen in prior posts of yours, it's not only easier to write, but a whole lot easier to write in detail, when using your own _blog_, not some freebie, dated commenting system. I wouldn't get all high and mighty about me not writing a comment in your little box. I at least pay for my own hosting :D If you leave a comment, it comes out of my bandwidth.

Steve said...

Razors ... very ... uhhh ... interesting. And what do you want me to do about this?

Steve said...

Razors ... just copy and paste your comment here from your blog, and if it's half-way decent (even if I disagree with it), post your url back to your blog and I'll come and post a response on your blog ... whatever you want to do.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who places the "absolute decrees" [absolutum decretum] as prior to or determinative of God's being is a hyper-calvinist. It seems that this whole discussion and critique is contrived, based on a misnomer of hypercalvinism---and thus is a moot dialogue.


RazorsKiss said...

I already posted the link, man. You deleted it.

I'm not pasting a full post in a comment section - that's silly. Especially with these little bitty boxes. Look, we're both bloggers. If your blog software did trackbacks, I wouldn't even have posted it as a comment. I wrote it on my blog, because it was too long for the comment section. Obviously, you didn't even read it. Usually, if someone links me, I read it. That's the interactive beauty of blogging. Y'know?

Anonymous said...

Another Steve has given some answers to the whole ordeal.

2. The term “hyper-Calvinist” is frequently used by pseudo-Calvinists as a rhetorical ploy to put real Calvinists on the defensive. But “hyper-Calvinism” is a word with a historic definition. You’re not at liberty to unilaterally redefine words to suit your agenda.

3. Apropos (2), to my knowledge, none of the Reformed Confessions (e.g. Westminster Confession, Three Forms of Unity) teaches the well-meant offer.

They may teach the free offer of the gospel, they don’t make God’s love for reprobate or desire to save them a precondition of the offer.

That being the case, you can’t retroactively argue that someone who rejects a theological innovation like the well-meant offer is not a true Calvinist. That involves a very anachronistic definition of Calvinism.

4. Early in the 20C, the CRC and the OPC took influential positions in favor of the well-meant offer. Fine. Individual denominations are free to draw the theological parameters however they please for members of their own communion. But they only speak for their own denomination.

5. One of the stock objections to the traditional position is a logical objection. Proponents of the well-mean offer insist that unless God loves the reprobate and wants to save them, that the offer of the Gospel is insincere.

But there are two basic problems with this objection:

i) The logical objection is illogical. The only thing that makes an offer genuine is if it’s true. The offer of the gospel is a conditional offer. If you do what it says (repent and believe), you will get what God promised.

The intention of the party who makes the offer is irrelevant to the bona fides of the offer—as long as the offer is true.



Pilgrimsarbour said...

Greetings Steve,

I was unaware of your blog and this particular thread until I read Dr. White's link to it this evening. I confess I found the lengthy list of comments and other links rather daunting, so I am unaware if these questions have been answered to your satisfaction or not. As it happens, just yesterday I bought a copy of Debating Calvinism: 5 Points 2 Views by Dave Hunt and James White. This book is produced by Multnomah Books and copyrighted (2004) by Dave Hunt and James White. I've only had time to get through a few pages, but at least I can directly address your first statement: God loves all men though God's love is not monolithic. I do not have written permission from the publisher (as is explicitly stated) to reproduce exact quotes, but the pages most helpful (so far) to this question are:

p. 17 In which Dr. White discusses his disagreement with Mr. Hunt over the character of God and his benevolence. Dr. White asserts that Mr. Hunt believes there can be no distinction in God's love, that unless He loves all in exactly the same way, He is not "all loving." Dr. White gives a couple of examples to illustrate this.

p.17 Dr. White explains that man properly discriminates in his love for others; how it is we are to love our wives, how it is we are not to love someone else's wife, how we love our children, family members, etc.

p. 18 John was called "the apostle whom Jesus loved;" surely this carries special meaning beyond His love for the other apostles.

p.18 The phrase "as Christ loved the church" alone demonstrates that His love for His people is something completely different than His love for anyone else.

p.18 Just as man demonstrates different kinds of love, so God differentiates His love toward man.

p.19 Mr. Hunt's premise is undercut when we understand that God will not be hand-wringing for all eternity over His (supposed) "I tried but failed" love for those who end up in hell.

p.19 What's amazing is that any heart at all is regenerated by God's grace to undeserving sinners.

p.19 The punishment of the wicked is to God's glory as well. He is under no obligation to save anyone; there are no "innocent victims" in hell.

As time permits, and if you would like, I can address the other questions you've raised. I hope this helps.



Steve said...

pilgrim ... You can post short quotes without violation of the copyright. If you find the most pertinent quote, post that and we can discuss it. I've already conceded the "God loves all men" point, but I still need "God's revealed will is that all men obey the gospel call," and "therefore God desires the salvation of all men." Those two points are still in dispute. If you find something on those points, go ahead and give us a quote and page number. Give us a complete paragraph so we can get an idea of the context.

If you're so inclined, that is. :-) Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Steve said:

. . . I've already conceded the "God loves all men" point, but I still need "God's revealed will is that all men obey the gospel call," and "therefore God desires the salvation of all men." Those two points are still in dispute. . . .

You've assumed the medieval nominalist view of God that posits a de potiente absoluta (absolute will of God), and a de potiente ordinata (ordained will of God); which allows you to speak about God loving all men (in His absolute will), but, at the same time, not loving all men (in His ordained, your "revealed", will). This is what my quick little comment above was getting at; you assume that there is a God behind the back of Jesus (i.e. the God that you have conceded loves all vs. the God revealed).

There is no doubt that there is an ontological (immanent) God (trinity) in eternity; but this God in eternity is the SAME God, to use your language, "revealed." In other words, the economy of God disclosed in salvation history must be the **SAME** God who inhabits eternity, or it can truly never be said that, . . . Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I hope you can see the dilemma your theology proper is suffering from. And I also hope that you can see how this impacts any discussion surrounding election and God's ousia, being.

a helmet said...

There are no two opposing wills in God, one revealed and a conceiled one to the contrary. Calvinists should not go beyond what is written.

Kehrhelm "a helmet" Kröger

SJ Camp said...

The Bears and Titans are both currently winning; my kids are good; it is very cold outside for Nashville (29 degrees) and a great afternoon to just nestle inside. So someone just sent me this link to this article where I was briefly mentioned (thank you).

So I find I have a few minutes. Here I am. How can I help you?

But first, I would really like to know a few things about you... like who you are, where you go to church, etc.

Grace and peace to you.
In His Sovereign electing love,

1 John 2:2

Pilgrimsarbour said...


In my cursory reading of Debating Calvinism which, as I said, I just picked up a couple of days ago, I did come across the following quotes which speak to your second point which was:

(2) God's will (his revealed will) is that all men obey his commands to repent and believe the gospel

I have decided that the cause of truth is best served here by reproducing the following quotes, although I suspect that if I go back and read The Potter's Freedom," I would find even more (and perhaps better) quotes and arguments as that work deals in more detail with your questions.

p. 135
"Calvinists like Spurgeon call upon all men everywhere to believe and repent, just as the Word of God does. We do not know who the elect are; hence, we preach the gospel to every creature."

p. 305
"Second, yes, men believe the gospel to be saved. No question about it. I believe it, I preach it, I call all men to do it. I just know that no man will do it unless and until the miracle of regeneration takes place first. God must open the heart. God must enlighten the mind. God must grant faith. And when God draws one of His elect to Himself, He draws them to Christ through the gospel. The unfailing result of being drawn by the Father is looking to, believing in, coming to (all present tense actions) the Son. It is the nature of the new creature in Christ to believe in Him."

p. 322
"Mr. Hunt asks: Why does God command 'all men every where to repent' or perish (Acts 17:30-31) if the elect can't perish and the nonelect can't repent? The command to repent is universal."

"This question is based upon two related ideas: first, that God cannot freely choose to show mercy and grace ('the elect can't perish') and that God somehow owes to the fallen and condemned sons of Adam a 'chance' ('the nonelect can't repent'). Both are unbiblical ideas derived from Hunt's traditions. The elect do repent and the nonelect do not desire to do so."

"Hunt...convey(s) the idea that the nonelect may desire to repent but that God somehow keeps them from doing so. That is
p. 323
utterly untrue."

"When Mr. Hunt speaks of God 'withholding the ability to repent and believe,' he is engaging in unfair misrepresentation, for he does not inform his readers that we are speaking of justly condemned rebels who do not desire to repent and believe. This would be like saying that the state is unjust for withholding a pardon from a man on death row who has been justly condemned. A pardon cannot be 'withheld' because it is not owed to anyone in
p. 324
the first place. Grace cannot be 'withheld' because by nature it must be free to be grace."

p. 360
"...It is untrue to say that Calvinism does not press the responsibility of man upon him. Only by ignoring the body of Reformed literature can such a view be maintained. And if it is urged that we are inconsistent to do so, the answer is clear: We do not know the identity of the elect, so we command men everywhere to repent. We preach the gospel to all creatures, knowing that God will honor the proclamation of His Word, either in the salvation of His elect or in the just and proper judgment of thsoe who love their sin and rebellion."

Blessings in Christ,


Pilgrimsarbour said...

Funny how one finds typos in the "published" version of one's comments that didn't seem to be there during proofing. There is a quote mark after the book title The Potter's Freedom that shouldn't be there and the word "those" is misspelled in the last sentence. Sorry, but I kind of have a hang-up about typos--especially my own.

Anonymous said...

A Hyper-Calvinist is a Calvinist who admits to believing what all Calvinists believe. A regular Calvinist is a Hyper-Calvinist trying to convince non-Calvinists by lies that he doesn't believe what all Calvinists believe.

Steve said...

Pilgrim ... I know what you mean. It's funny how those typos sneak in, isn't it? :-)

Steve said...

Hey Campi ... welcome to my blog. Sorry I didn't get to you sooner, but it was too cozy by the fire to waste time on the internet today.

I would disagree with your theology, but you're welcome to join in the discussion.

I'm a retired lawyer from northeast pa. (practiced in NY), deacon in a 2nd LBC church, working on talking people down from too-high Calvinism. But trying not to take myself TOO seriously. My pastor preached a sermon on not speaking evil one of another ... so I have to try to be good ... at least for today. :-)

I am also proud to be known as a YOUNG man to James White. LOL.

Anonymous said...

You should do some homework before you make false accusations about a man of God and create division in the body of Christ. "As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, thave nothing more to do with him" Titus 3:10

a helmet said...

beowulf, good comment. I think this hyper vs. normal Calvinism distinction is just rhetorics. They end up in the same place.

RazorsKiss said...

a_helmet: still blogging your neo-gnostic nonsense, I see.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for responding. But I have a dilemma: I still don't know who you are.

Could you please fill out the blogger profile, enable it, and then I can know who I am speaking to. Then I can begin what I hope is a good natured and profitable dialogue on this important issue and the ministry of a dear man of God in James White.

I understand commenters on blogs to want to maintain a modicum of anonymity; but not a blogger themselves. Full disclosure on your part as to your identity is essential to bring any kind of credibility to your views. If a man won't reveal who he really is then how can one trust what he has to say?

A fair question to which I am confident you would agree.

Thank you Steve.

Col. 1:9-14

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I think this hyper vs. normal Calvinism distinction is just rhetorics. They end up in the same place.

Yeah. It's called Heaven. :-)

Steve said...

:-) @ pilgrim

Tony Byrne said...

Steve Camp said:

"I understand commenters on blogs to want to maintain a modicum of anonymity; but not a blogger themselves. Full disclosure on your part as to your identity is essential to bring any kind of credibility to your views. If a man won't reveal who he really is then how can one trust what he has to say?"

Are you reading this, Turretinfan?

Steve said...

Thanks for sticking up for me, Steven. My profile was actually unavailable for a while, but it was just because I'm in the process of revamping the blog, and I hadn't gotten around to updating my profile.

I've done what I wanted and it's available for folks to view, plus a little more information in the blog.

But you're right ... I don't know what Campi's big deal is. And thanks very much for your comment on the Heshusius material. I hope some of the James White fans will take a look at it.

Steve said...

Oh ... Steven ... and Kendall too. I think he is much maligned in reformed circles; unjustly in my view. His critique is an important one ... and keeps coming up. :-)

Tony Byrne said...

I just finished reading this post and all the comments, again. After all of it, no one met the challenge of providing a pre-J316C [John 3:16 Conference] quote or reference to White's writings wherein he affirms that God desires the salvation of all men. Not a single reference was given. Sure, White has always believed that there is a general sense in which God loves all men [as John Gill even admits], but there's no place where he believes God loves all men in the sense that he desires all men to be eternally saved [this John Gill denied]. In other words, there's nothing in White's writings that elevates his view on God's love above that of Gill's, i.e. God providentially loves all men as to have an interest in the temporal well-being in the non-elect, but not their eternal well-being. So, proving that White believes in a kind of general love does not prove that he thinks this love includes a desire on God's part for the salvation of all men.

No pre-J316C sources can be given or will be given, as the comments in this post show. On the contrary, prior to the J316C and to this day, White's still undermining every single proof-text Calvininst have to sustain their believe in God's universal saving desire in the revealed will, even those used by Tom Ascol [Ezek. 18 & 33 and Matt. 23:37].

Steve said...

Thanks for your comment, Tony. I frankly don't trust White's position. He *says* he believes these things because he must. But it's not down inside him. It can't be -- as you have rightly pointed out, he undermines every Biblical passage that could exegetically support his statement. So he "believes" something (rather, he *says* something) that he can not (or *will* not) support from the Bible.

Having made these admissions (for whatever reason -- probably for no reason other than to avoid the label "hyper-Calvinist") he says things and makes arguments that would lead others to *deny* them.

I was reminded of this problem recently from a John MacArthur/Phil Johnson radio interview in which Johnson asked MacArthur why a Calvinist would preach the gospel. The answer is, according to MacArthur, that we don't know who the elect are. Apart from being an unbiblical answer, it vitiates the preaching of the gospel of any mercy or grace. There is no mercy or grace in the preaching of the gospel to those who are not elect ... the *only* reason for the preaching of the gospel is to find the elect. That's the reason we preach it, according to Mac. No other reason is given.

White's position ... he *says* ... is that God loves all men and desires there salvation. But his theology doesn't support this. His exegesis doesn't support it. I don't think he believes it. He says it, but ... it isn't mixed with faith, if I may put it that way.

In my view, the commenters utterly failed to show White supporting the position he supported in the video v. Tony. Has he said anything *subsequent* to that video that would give more support or explanation to his statement that God desires the salvation of all men? I doubt it.