Oct 2, 2008

God Wants All to be Saved?

This is the title of an article I am presently working on completing.

I promised my friend Billy (classicalarminianism.blogspot.com) that I would do so and post it here. He is presently doing some writings on the subject of election and presenting Arminian objections to the Calvinistic doctrine of eternal, personal, and unconditional election. He has raised the question of who is the "all men" of I Tim. 2:1-6? Is it "all classes" or "all kinds" of men, as some Calvinists aver? Or, does "all men" refer to every man without exception?

I take the view of Spurgeon, a five point Calvinist, who believed that the "all men" here did not mean "all kinds" or "classes" but literally "every man."

So, how can this be? If one believes God wills, in some sense, the salvation of all men, and desires that they all believe and obey the truth, and worship him correctly, then how is Spurgeon (or myself, or other Calvinists who agree with him) consistent?

I will post what Spurgeon wrote and follow up this introductory writing with some additional comments upon this seeming inconsistency.

Spurgeon said:

"You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they, - "that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men. "All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. I thought when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, "Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to a knowledge of the truth." Had such been the inspired language every remark of the learned doctor would have been exactly in keeping, but as it happens to say, "who will have all men to be saved," his observations are more than a little out of place. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the Word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself, for whom am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the Word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, "God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 26, Pilgrim Publications, p.50.)

2 comments:

William Birch said...

Spurgeon: "I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the Word of God."

WHAT AN AWESOME STATEMENT!

Billy

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Brother Billy:

Yes indeed! Such a rule has helped to both deliver me from error, and show me greater truth. It takes an "honest" heart to believe what God says and change our minds to conform to it, than vice versa.

Thanks for visiting and come again. Your comments are always welcome. I believe we should always try to understand each other's perspective and be fair and balanced.

Blessings

Stephen