The “Genuine Offer” Dialogue – Cross-Examination

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ISP: Infralapsarian Single-Predestinarian
Argues that the gospel is genuinely offered to all.

SDP: Supralapsarian Double-Predestinarian
Argues that the gospel is genuinely offered to the elect only.

…Begin dialogue text…

SDP originally wrote:

Premise #1) If regeneration is required for faith.
Premise #2) If faith is required for salvation.
Conclusion #1) Then all who are saved are regenerated.

ISP: True, yet it is begging a question. Can men logically cry to God for faith? (I know that the reprobate morally cannot, but physically he can.)

SDP: I’m sorry, but you do not understand what “begging the question” means. To beg the question is to make a circular argument, i.e. to reuse your conclusion in your premises. That is not at all what I am doing.

Additionally, that the reprobate can “physically” cry for faith is irrelevant, for (1) it is not of faith (Mt. 7:21 and Heb. 11:6) and (2) even if he would, the Lord would not hear him (Ps. 18:41), and (3) the preaching of the gospel to the reprobate serves to harden their hearts (Jn. 12:37:41). In fact, let’s take a look at that passage.

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. (Jn. 12:37:41)

Look at what is written in vv. 39, 40: “Therefore they could not believe because . . . [God] hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart.” I just don’t see how this passage can be fit into your impression of the gospel. Isaiah (Esaias) clearly testifies that the reprobate is not given the means by which to hear and believe, rather, their hearts are hardened by the gospel message. Now, if God really desires the reprobate convert, why would he “blind their eyes and harden their heart”? It hardly seems to me that God’s perceptive will is that the reprobate be saved. We certainly know that it is not in his decretive will that they be saved.

SDP originally wrote:

Premise #3) If God does all that he desires.
Premise #4) If God desires the reprobate be saved.
Conclusion #2) God will save the reprobate.

ISP: Not necessarily, for it is based upon an assumption that there are not multitudes of desires in God!

SDP: The only way this objection holds is if God can have contradictory desires, viz. that God can desire the reprobate be saved and desire that the reprobate not be saved. If you wish to make this argument, then all I can ask is how Job 23:13, Ps. 115:3; 135:6, Eph. 1:11 can all be true if God both does something he desires and does not do the same thing he desires. That is an impossibility.

God cannot have created the earth and not created the earth.

ISP: If a man is going to choose between chopping his right hand off and his wife being put to death, he will, if he loves her, have his right hand cut off. Are we to assume the man wanted his right hand cut off? Yes and no!

SDP: This does not apply to God. God is omnipotent and can do all he pleases. Your argument assumes that the man is unable to both keep his hand and save his wife. These are not limitations that God suffers under.

SDP originally wrote:

The first three premises are universally agreed to by all Calvinists.

ISP: If that were true, all Calvinists would deny the “well meant offer of the Gospel”; it is only a small minority who do.

SDP: To restate, the first three premises are:

1) Faith is required for salvation.
2) Regeneration is required for faith.
3) God does all that he desires.

So, you’re saying that only small minority of Calvinists believe these propositions? I simply must have your definition of Calvinist then, because I have never met a Calvinist that disagreed with any of these statements.

SDP originally wrote:

We see then that the conclusions follow inexorably from the premises.

ISP: I disagree. You are saying that logic determines doctrine. Revelation does that, and revelation may take years, synods, arguments, heated debates, even wars, before men agree. Consider the Trinity!

SDP: Do you not understand how integrated logic is into everything? Do you not understand that in order to even communicate requires logic? The fundamental law of contradiction assumes that A cannot be non-A at the same time and in the same sense. This literally means that true cannot also be false. If that were true, we could not know truth. If dog also meant cat, then whenever someone said “dog,” you would not know if he were referring to a dog or a cat. Do you see how fundamental logic is in everything? Without logic, we could not even understand revelation. Without logic, we could not formulate doctrine. It is not superior to revelation; it works in conjunction with it. Just as the Holy Spirit illuminates the word to us when we read it, we use logic to understand things.

You also make some very peculiar assertions concerning “revelation.” Revelation, insofar as it is applicable to us, is Scripture. Revelation does not require “years, synods, arguments, heated debates, even wars.” Revelation is inerrant and infallible because it is the word of God. Men may not concur as to what revelation means without the things you have enumerated, but that means nothing as far as revelation is concerned.

And for a final rebuttal, has it not been the case that I have been citing verse after verse after verse? The biblical data I have been appealing to are far more numerous than those you have been referring to. You have made a couple of token citations to support your claims, but the inferences you have made have been shown to be invalid. Moreover, I simply never said logic determines doctrine. I have always appealed first and foremost to Scripture. You have not even interjected an alternative interpretation of the verses provided, and for good reason, you cannot. They are so abundantly clear that they ought to be received outright. Why do you refuse to do so?

ISP: Your argument, clever as it is, is based upon presuppositions.

1. That God has only one desire.
2. That men who do not have faith cannot call upon God for it.
3. That doctrine is acceptable by the measure of logic, instead of revelation by faith.

SDP:

1) The problem with arguing that God has contrary or contradictory desires has been addressed above. I will also comment that what you are proposing results in the formal fallacy of equivocation. Whenever you use a word in more than one sense, you commit a formal fallacy of ambiguity. My argument only speaks of one desire—God’s desire concerning the salvation of the reprobate. So your protest that I am not taking into account that God can have multiple desires is actually fallacious. I am not talking about any of those.

2) It has already been demonstrated that natural man cannot call upon God for faith. Additionally, and more to the point, even if the reprobates did, they would not be heard (Ps. 18:41).

3) Logic does not contradict or contravene revelation in anyway. Logic is a tool by which we are able to come to the true meaning of the Scriptures. That is why I believe what I believe. The logical consequence of what the Scripture says is that the salvation is not offered to the reprobate. Without logic, you cannot properly understand revelation, and without revelation, you cannot properly understand logic (its purpose and utility).

ISP: Are you familiar with the Rev. Samuel Rutherford’s work, The Will of God and the Gospel Offer?

SDP: I can’t say I am.

ISP: In it, Rutherford shows that there is a desire in God for all to repent and for none to perish. He further clearly shows clearly that this desire is not the same type of desire that you have assumed I have been speaking of. If it were God’s absolute desire to save all mankind then he would certainly do it! And on this point, I believe we both agree.

SDP: On that point, yes.

ISP: Yet, should it be said that because God has no absolute desire to save every man, he has no desire to save every man? No! That is simply false.

The desire that God has—that all should be saved—is a complacent desire, but nevertheless, is unfeigned—a desire of approval. He desires that men would repent and not suffer for their sin. This is pleasing to God.

As I attempted to show by my illustration of the man losing his arm to save his wife, he desired to keep his arm (considered from a desire of complacency and approval), but he also desired to lose his arm (considered from a desire of action). These are both desires, but not in the same sense.

SDP: Allow me to demonstrate the logic of your argument here:

Premise #1) God does not desire all men be saved.
Premise #2) God does desire all men be saved.
Conclusion) Therefore, God does not desire all men be saved and he desires all men be saved.

How do you expect me to respond to this? How is this not completely and totally contradictory?

You are continuing to equivocate on “desire.” You try to show that God can have different salvific desires. This is illogical. The sense is desire of salvific status—God’s desire regarding the state of the soul of the person. The sense, the end of which I am speaking, is the eternal state of the person’s soul. You cannot equivocate on this. There isn’t even a way to conceptualize how God could desire the reprobate’s soul to be eternally saved and be eternally damned. That is a flat-out contradiction. It is irreconcilable.

What is happening here is you are introducing ambiguity into your understanding of desire by assuming that God wants every man to come to him and repent on his own (complacent desire), but that he is not going to regenerate them, thus allowing them to succeed (I’ll call this effective desire).

The problem with this position is that only one of these desires leads to salvation, i.e. effective desire. Complacent desire does not lead to salvation, so it is fallacious to say that God complacently desires the reprobate be saved. His only desire to salvation is his effective desire. Moreover, it is contradictory to the Scripture that says, “He does all he desires,” to say that he has a complacent, impotent desire of some kind. If God does all he desires then that includes his complacent desires, too. You haven’t avoided the problem at all, just demonstrated increasing confusion on your part.

I think the main problem is you are confusing the theological concepts of God’s decretive will and his preceptive will. I believe you think that the different sense in which we understand God’s will necessarily infers that God’s desires follow a similar pattern. There is no scriptural support for this, however. It is written, “He hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” It is not written, “He hath done whatsoever he hath commanded.” God’s commands are included in the preceptive will of God. The term “preceptive will” means God’s will according to his precepts, which are the law and the gospel. The preceptive will of God is what the psalmist wrote about in the 119th Psalm: “Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently” (v. 4). We must also keep in mind that our human perceptions of the will of God are different from the true character of his will. We perceive—and this is extremely important because our humans perceptions are flawed, especially when it comes to God—that God has willed that we should keep his commands. But it is also written, “Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand” (Is. 14:24). We then perceive that we have a contradiction: for God “wills” that we keep his commandments, but we often do not. But the Scripture does not lie. We then come to understand that he does not necessarily will (decretive will: his eternal purpose) what he commands. No, in fact, he frequently uses evil (which he hates and commands us not to do) for his own purposes.

Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. (1 Kn. 22:23)

What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (Job 2:10)

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Prv. 16:4)

Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? (Lam. 3:38)

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. (Rom. 9:17)

We see that what God commands, what he requires of men, is not necessarily what he wills should happen. That is, what God commands is not necessarily what he has purposed to happen. God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree, but Adam did it anyway. Should we say that God did not intend for that to happen? Surely not:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Rom. 5:12)

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Rom. 3:19)

Paul says here that God’s purpose was that Adam should break the commandment. He perceives that many will find this objectionable.

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (Rom. 9:19, 20)

Having resolved the apparent problem concerning how we understand God’s will as presented in Scripture, we can then come to his desires. The Scripture says, “He hath done whatsoever he pleased.” We can thus identify God’s pleasure with his purpose. As surely as he has purposed, so shall it be done. We can thus conclude that he has done all things for his good pleasure, and this is precisely what Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians. God “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:5). And it is in Christ “whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11).

So, again, the problem with your lose arm/save wife illustration is that it is non-applicable to God, for “he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” He has purposed to save the elect and punish the reprobate. Thus it has be decreed, thus it shall be done.

ISP: You have such a limited view of desire that you quote one passage (Job) to the utter expense of all others!

You cannot even see a complacent desire in God for the reprobate—just sheer hatred!

I wonder what spirit this is?

Your view of God is more anti-Christian than the Arminian’s!

Just ask around those who are Reformed about God making men merely to damn them! And then you say you feel for these men. I fail to see why!!!

SDP: I can see my work here is done.

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