Nov 26, 2008

Reviewing White on God's Will

There has been a lot of discussion lately (in the blogosphere) about "Hyper Calvinism" and whether apologist James White classifies as one. I posted an entry awhile back on this subject. See here

The criterion being used in these discussions (since it was raised recently at the John 3:16 conference) is whether God "wills" or "desires" the salvation of all men.

Phil Johnson (pyromaniacs blog) gave as a criterion, for discerning a Hyper Calvinist, the question of whether God wills and desires the salvation of all men. To Johnson, if one does not believe that God, in some sense, wills and desires the salvation of all, then he IS a Hyper Calvinist.

Reading what James White has written on this topic leads me to believe that he fits this criterion. It is not the only criterion, as I showed in the posting linked above. To deny that the gospel is a means in regeneration, and to affirm that regeneration occurs before one can benefit from it, is a mark of Hyper Calvinism. To put "regeneration" before faith takes the gospel and faith out of the equation.

I believe God wills and desires the salvation of all men generally, but the elect especially or particularly. See my posting here

I want to look at a few citations from what White wrote today in his blog. White wrote (emphasis mine):

"The Pyromaniac (Phil Johnson) himself has weighed in on the John 3:16 Conference allegations that if you don't believe God is eternally bummed about failing to save those He desires to save you are a hyper-Calvinist."

I too believe that God's sovereign special desire, in regard to the salvation of the elect, will be satisfied and not frustrated. The question is, does he have any kind of will or desire at all in regard to the non elect? I believe he does and the posting I made on I Tim. 2: 1-6 and II Peter 3:9 dealt with this issue.

I use to take the common Calvinistic approach on these passages, restricting them to the elect. "God is longsuffering to usward (the elect)..." But, I have since come to see that there is clearly a sense in which God does will and desire that all come to the knowledge of the truth, believe in Jesus, and be saved.

I would ask White one question. Do you believe God is ever "displeased"? And another - "Is there anything in scripture that speaks of God's "displeasure"? By the way White argues, God is never displeased! Yet, the scriptures say he is displeased!

God's sovereign pleasure, in regard to the elect, and to his government of the world, cannot be frustrated. God will do all his pleasure. Yet, this cannot be taken in an unlimited sense, for then we would have to conclude that God is never "displeased."

White said:

"Hence, when I seek to be fully consistent in my beliefs, and as a result, refuse to portray God as having eternally decreed His own unhappiness, I am labeled a "hyper-Calvinist."

Does White believe that God is never "grieved"? Yes, in a sense, God is never displeased as respects his sovereign decrees, for he always does his pleasure. But, does this mean he in no sense is "unhappy"? Does God not use these anthropopathisms to teach us that he is, in some sense, displeased?

I could use an illustration from among men. Do men not ordain their own displeasure when they go on a diet, or do strenuous exercise? Are they not willing their own temporary displeasure for the achievement of a lasting pleasure? It is not a thing enjoyable in itself to do these things, but the results make the temporary displeasure a means of achieving lasting pleasure.

White then says:

"That's why I take the position I do regarding 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4: I simply have not found any counter-exegesis that makes any sense of the passages."

White should read my posting on these verses (see link above)! Let him read it and demonstrate how my "counter-exegesis" does not "make any sense of the passages."

White says further:

"Evidently, if I find my Presbyeterian brothers to be co-laborers in the kingdom, firm believers in the gospel of grace, compatriots in the battle against the powers of darkness and brothers in their passion for the freedom of God in salvation and the glory of Christ as Savior and Mediator, I'm just not quite "Baptist" enough for him (Malcom Yarnell)."

Personally, this is one of the things I dislike about White and many of today's Baptist Calvinists, those of the neo "reformed" persuasion, and those associated with the "Founder's" organization.

They are brethren who have forsaken one of the leading "Baptist distinctives," that of believer's baptism, and which avows that church fellowship and the sharing of the communion table is to be restricted to those who have been properly baptized. I dislike how these brethren have all but rolled out the red carpet for men like R. C. Sproul.

Our Baptist forefathers fought hard against the errors of the Pedos. They surely would not countenance this opening of the door of church fellowship to those who promote infant baptism and church membership.

The desire to have fellowship with Calvinists have caused Baptist Calvinists to "lower their standard" on these Baptist distinctives.

They come back with the retort that they can cooperate with other Christians with whom they disagree. Surely! But, within limits!

The Calvinists among Southern Baptists and other Baptist groups are concerned that today's "Reformed" Calvinists are trying to "Presbyterianize" the Baptist church. They have joint conferences with the baby baptizers, and have them in their pulpits, and never (or surely rarely) attack the great error of the Pedos! They are even promoting the Presbyterian type of church government with their "ruling elders."

So, yes, White is not quite "Baptist" enough for me either.

See here for White's writing.

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