15 Comments

  1. Jim Montesano

    I’m looking forward to your upcoming installment on ‘A Defense of the Well-Meant Offer:”
    This is something most, if not all, who call themselves reformed have had to deal with. Those two texts, 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4, have been given to me on more than one occasion with the comment “Well, what about 2 Peter 3:9 & 1 Timothy 2:3-4, what do you have to say about them,” or “how do you answer those verses Mr Calvinist?” I have given the same answers that are stated above. But, if one is not open to understanding the doctrines of grace no answer will help.

  2. The 1 Tim. verse appears to be speaking of all classes of men when looking at the context throughout the paragraph. At least that is was a certain instruction at RBS pointed out in a lecture 🙂

    • admin

      Michael,

      I think the interpretation of παντας ανθρωπους as referring to “all sorts or classes of humans” may be the correct reading. However, as I point out in my footnote above (#5), that fact does not in itself preclude the idea that God desires the salvation of the elect and the non-elect since both of these categories are, after all, “sorts or classes of humans.” To state it differently, if the παντων ανθρωπων for whom Paul commanded believers to pray included certain rulers like Nero who probably was a reprobate, then what’s to preclude the same from one of the classes of people God “desires” to be “saved”? My point is simply to highlight that the grammar and syntax of the passage do not rule out viewing the non-elect as one of the classes of people envisioned in vv. 1 and 4. Such an exclusion must be based on other grounds, i.e., the teaching of Scripture elsewhere.

      Hope this helps.

  3. Benjamin Johnson

    I look forward to reading your second installment. I would like to offer a few considerations which I hope you will address (or at least keep in mind) when you are putting it together. And thank you for your patience with me.

    1. While it is no doubt true that, historically, a number of Reformed theologians have insisted that GOD does not express anything like the “emotions” with which we are familiar, it is not an essential part of the argument favoring the “minority” position. GOD may have all the emotion in the world, but His emotions may simply be pure of purpose and, therefore, not diluted or diminished by conflict. GOD’s emotions are real, but they are harmonious. If that is possible (never mind whether it is inevitable), then an argument that refutes the strange notion that GOD does not actually express genuine emotion will still not provide any reason to believe that GOD has an indiscriminate desire for the salvation of all. Nor does it escape the logical dilemma created by the idea that GOD’s emotions might be in conflict with each other and with the purity of His appreciation and devotion for what is most glorious. Given that a desire for Him to be less glorified would be a sinful desire, it is difficult to see how an indiscriminate desire for salvation of all, which leads to a diminishment of His glory, could avoid being a sinful desire on His part.

    2. It also seems advisable for anyone who holds to the “minority” position to deny that Paul had a “blind compassion” for all sinners (i.e., an indiscriminate and thus an equal compassion for all). There are quite a number of reasons to think he did not. Spurgeon may be another matter. Nevertheless, it will not help your case to demonstrate that some historical persons like Spurgeon (or Piper or even yourself), have possessed a “blind compassion” for the lost with the hope that, in establishing this, you would have proven that it is possible for GOD to bear the same burden without contradicting Himself.

    Even if we forego a lengthy discussion over the fact that the reason you feel Spurgeon or Paul (or you) can hold these conflicting beliefs without contradiction stems only from an essential ignorance in each of them that our LORD does not share, and therefore would not remove a contradiction from Him… there is an equally important reason to think that this line of inquiry is a dead end.

    Given that people are prone to holding contradictory notions as equally true everyday of our lives without any apparent emotional or intellectual dissonance, it hardly follows (without reasoning in a circle) that Spurgeon’s or Piper’s or your own lack of internal dissonance over these apparently conflicting beliefs can stand as evidence that they can be held without contradiction. It’s not a good argument.

    3. Finally, this label of “well-meant” is curiously attached to one side but not the other. Perhaps you can explain it because it remains for me a fallacy of citing a distinction without any real (qualitative) difference. This is implied by GOD’s knowledge of every fact, including future facts.

    For advocates of both points of view, GOD knows that His offer of salvation will never, under any circumstances (outside of His supernatural agency), be accepted by the reprobate. The reprobate will never come to Christ because He will not regenerate them. Given that genuine “knowledge” always involves a corresponding belief, GOD’s knowledge belies the notion that He could ever believe it possible that the offer of salvation might be accepted by the reprobate. In other words, His belief cannot contradict His knowledge.

    Now, if He knows that His offer will never be accepted, He therefore cannot hope or believe in the possibility that anything else might happen. This is entailed by both positions (majority and minority). The only difference between the positions is that the “majority” seem to advocate the presence of an additional wish in His divine heart that some other circumstances would prevail against His knowledge of what must be.

    This is where the question of a genuine invitation comes in. The only reason it seems that one side could be said to be offering a “well-meant” invitation to salvation while the other side is offering something qualitatively different (i.e., not a genuine, “well-meant” invitation) is because the “majority” view still holds on to the idea that GOD hopes that the reprobate will accept His offer after all. And this implies some possibility that this could actually happen, which involves a contradiction with GOD’s knowledge.

    Now, if this hope and belief are not implied by the “majority” view, then there is no essential difference between the invitation to salvation offered in the majority or minority position, so that if either could be said to provide a “well-meant” offer of the Gospel, then both can. Of course, wherever I may have misunderstood your position, I will look forward to resolving my confusion in your next post. Thank you for your time.

    • admin

      Benjamin,

      Thanks for your lengthy, thoughtful, and seemingly “preemptive” comment. Actually, you just read my “second installment.” Since, however, I think you’ve misunderstood my position (which I’ve not fully disclosed yet) at certain points, I’ll defer a response to your comments for now.

      Grace and peace.

  4. Hey Bob,

    You summarise part of the argument for a restrictive reading of 2 Peter 3:9 thusly:

    In the case of the first text, it is noted that the scope of the “any” whom God doesn’t wish to perish is limited by the antecedent 2nd person personal pronoun “you” (υμας), i.e., those to whom Peter is writing.3 A look at the immediate and larger context, it is argued, demonstrates that Peter is writing to Christians. Hence, those who object to the free offer would read Peter as saying, “God does not wish any of his elect to perish but desires that all of his elect come to repentance.

    Ive bolded the critical steps in the argument. If we grant for a moment that the “you” delimits the scope of the “any”, such that Peter writes to Christians, it is the final step that is problematic. The class or set “Christians” is converted into the class or set “elect.” That conversion is no less purely interpretative than any other interpretation. The class “elect” is certainly much broader than the class “Christians,” let alone the actual stated audience, the church scattered throughout Asia. An argument that begins by claiming that it is an exegetical rule that the audience delimits the scope of the “any” just as arbitrarily abandons its own alleged “rule” at the end of the argument. This is a fine and small point, but it points to the arbitrariness implicit in the restrictive reading.

    David
    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

    • admin

      Thanks, Dan. Jonathan Edwards thoughts on this subject are already in my arsenal and will soon be deployed.

  5. When I say “That conversion is no less purely interpretative..” above, I should have been clearer. I could have easily said: That conversion is no less purely speculative…” I was trying to capture both ideas: an interpretation which is just as speculative as any competing interpretative claim can be “accused” of.

    David
    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

    • admin

      David,

      Thanks for your comments on the exegesis of 1 Peter 3:9. I agree with some of the problems you highlight. By summarizing the more “restrictive” view, I didn’t mean to convey the notion that I agree with it. In point of fact, I agree with the reading of John Murray and Robert Letham whom I reference in the footnote. And if I’m not mistaken, John Calvin interprets the text in a more inclusive way.

      Thanks also for the links. I’d encourage my readers to have a look.

  6. […] As some of my readers might suspect, I plan to argue for the affirmative position. I believe (passionately) that an affirmation of the well-meant offer is not only biblical but vital for our view of God, the gospel, and evangelism. However, before I offer some reasons why I’d answer the question in the affirmative, I’d like to highlight some of the primary concerns of those who answer the question negatively in our next post. […]

  7. Benjamin Johnson

    Thank you again for your patience, Dr. Gonzales. My post was not at all meant to be “preemptive,” though I see how it appears that way. I am truly interested in what your next installment will bring and I wanted to offer some questions and concerns of my own in the hope that, among the many important issues you might choose to consider, you might have time to squeeze in a few remarks that address the topics I covered. These have been, for me, certain sticking points in conversations I’ve been privileged to have on this subject.

    And I apologize if I’ve misunderstood you in my anticipation of your direction. Everything I said was merely meant to express what “appears to be the case” to me at the present time.

    • admin

      No problem, Ben. Thanks for the clarification. I hope to get to the next installment in this series soon.

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