Saturday, December 01, 2007
1) It's not blasphemy, because Mohammed is not God.
2) It's way more (not less) than what that false prophet deserves.
3) If naming a teddy bear after him were sufficiently disrespectful to be called "blasphemy," then this post certainly qualifies as well.
Praise be to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!
P.S. It's worth pointing out that I don't unqualifiedly endorse every view on textual criticism set forth by the web site at which the above-linked article is hosted, nor can I vouch (necessarily) for the doctrinal integrity of the doctrinal articles there.
T = Total Depravity. This is not (as commonly misperceived) a doctrine that men are as bad as they possibly can be, but that man by nature is depraved throughout, is the natural enemy of God, and is spiritually dead. Total Depravity teaches that apart from grace, man is unable to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
U = Unconditional Election. This is not (as commonly misperceived) a doctrine that God randomly chooses men for salvation. It is a doctrine that election for salvation is not conditioned on what man does, has done, or will do. Instead, election is according to the grace of God based on the love of God (sometimes described in Scripture using the term "foreknowledge"). Election is of particular men, not of a formula. It is merciful: no one deserves to be elected. For example, election is not based on foreseen faith, or foreseen ability to have faith. Election is based on the purpose of God, the purpose being to glorify some of the human race.
L = Limited Atonement. There are usually no great misconceptions regarding what this means in itself. It means that Christ died for the elect and not for the reprobate. It teaches that Christ's sacrifice was perfect, and that consequently those for whom Christ died will certainly be saved. Contrary to its critics, the doctrine does not teach that those form whom Christ died will be saved in the absence of further means of salvation, such as the preaching of the gospel and faith in Christ.
I = Irresistible Grace. This is not (as commonly misperceived) a doctrine that God's grace forces men to do something that they do not want, that is to say, that God coerces men to act contrary to their wills. Instead, this doctrine teaches that God transforms man's will, giving man a new nature, enlivening him spiritually, opening the eyes of his mind to the true light of the gospel, and consequently persuading man of his own sinfulness, his need for a savior, and the identity of the true Savior. Irresistible grace is irresistible, not because it overwhelms the will, but because it circumvents the will. It does not approach a man as we do. We can appeal to man's desires, but we cannot change a God hater into a lover of God. This doctrine teaches that God can do so, and does.
P = Perseverance of the Saints. This is not (as sometimes misperceived) a doctrine that once man says a certain prayer, or comes to the front of the church, then afterwards he may live in the utmost debauchery and still have confident hope of eternal life. This doctrine does not assert that believers persevere unto glory in the absence of means. It is, instead, a doctrine that God finishes what he starts. This doctrine explains that God, who is able to keep us from falling, actually does do that, because He loves us. We don't fall, because God holds us up.
These are the doctrines commonly, conventionally, and classically referred to as Calvinism. Any interesting phenomenon has happened, though, recently. A number of writers who are not Calvinist in the conventional sense have desired to be called Calvinist, for one reason or another. Some anti-Calvinists will find this hard to believe. After all, it is still the case in certain Arminian and/or Pelagian churches that the label "Calvinist" is essentially an epithet. Indeed, some who embrace the doctrines of grace are uncomfortable calling the doctrines of grace "Calvinism" precisely because it - for some hearers - triggers a knee jerk reaction of antipathy.
Still, some wish to be under the name and umbrella of Calvinism, without actually holding to incompatibilism, monergism, and/or one or more of the five points. These men (and they are, so far as I have seen, mostly men and boys not women or girls) generally fall into one of several camps.
1. Synergists e.g. Semi-Peligian/Arminian/Semi-Augstinian (call it what you like)
Some members of this group refer to themselves as moderate Calvinists. The classic work in this camp is Dr. Noman Geisler's "Chosen but Free," in which Geisler (who is - in essence - an Arminian - brief C.V.) calls himself a "moderate Calvinist" and calls those who advocate conventional Calvinism "extreme Calvinists." Dr. James White has written an excellent, and quite readable, rebuttal entitled, "The Potter's Freedom." Dr. Geisler does not actually seem to hold to any of the five points of Calvinism except, perhaps, something that could be considered a doctrine of perseverance of the saints (and some Arminians will be quick to point out that a denial of Perseverance of the Saints is not essential to Arminianism).
Of course, not all Arminians are calling themselves Calvinists, and it would be better for everybody if labels had meanings such that "Calvinist" means one thing and "Arminian" means something else. That's why truth in labelling is important.
2. Amyraldians (often called "four point Calvinists") (see the discussion here)(and this bit of satire)
This group calls itself "classical Calvinists." So far, I have seen quite few members of this group. One particularly outspoken advocate of this label so far is David W. Ponter (brief CV). He seems bent on promoting the idea that although he denies the doctrine of Limited Atonement he is nevertheless to be labeled a Calvinist. He seems to refer to conventional Calvinists as "ultra-Calvinists" (and sometimes seems to suggest that some may actually be "hyper-Cavlinists") and seems to have borrowed something of Dr. Geisler's views on the particular point L (Limited Atonement) of the five points. As far as I can tell, DWP (unlike Geisler) is monergistic, incompatibilist, and so forth. DWP seems to agree with Dr. Geisler's claim that Calvin himself did not teach the doctrine of Limited Atonement.
Of course, not all four-point Calvinists / Amyraldians call themselves Calvinists, and it would be better for everybody if labels had meanings such that "Calvinist" means one thing and "Amyraldian" means something else. That's why truth in labeling is important.
3. Incompatibilist Monergists, i.e. Hyper-Calvinists
Hyper-Calvinists are those who affirm monergism (And generally the five points) but deny compatibilism. Thus, hyper-Calvinists typically deny human responsibility. This is ordinarily practically manifested in a failure to appreciate that God works through means. Hyper-Calvinists, therefore, normally do not bother to evangelize, because they do not see the point. Obviously, hyper-Calvinists agree with Arminians on the issues of compatibilism and yet recognize that salvation is completely from God. It's hard to be definitive about a complete set of views for hyper-Calvinism (though this site tries), because - as you can imagine - a lack of interest in proselyzation (here's an example) usually decimates a church within a few generations.
Occasionally, a few other groups that should probably be considered Calvinist have been labeled "hyper-Calvinist," such as those who refuse to use the phrase "common grace" or who feel the phrase "free offer of the gospel" is inappropriate.
And it is actually this fuzzy area of calling "hyper" those who refuse to use the phrases "common grace" and "free offer of the gospel" that is one of the crutches used to hold up the mislabeling by the first two groups. One sometimes will see the folks in those groups suggest that conventional Calvinists are "hyper," not because they actually refuse to use the phrases "common grace" and "free offer of the gospel," but because in the person's opinion, the conventional Calvinist position does not correspond to what the phrases "common grace" and "free offer of the gospel" mean.
The other area, as noted above, is the appeal to Calvin, particularly with respect to the five points. Of course, the Arminian controversy that led to the Synod of Dordt and the creation of the "five points" was after Calvin's death. Calvin never heard of the acronym TULIP. But, for whatever reasons, the mislabelers think that it is valuable to their labeling case to appeal to certain ambiguous comments from Calvin in order to assert that Calvin held to their particular view, and not to the conventional Calvinist view.
It seems, to this author, that the attempt is a shot a legitimacy. Apparently there is a feeling that it will be persuasive to use the "Calvin says so" argument, either in substitution of - or in addition to - a Biblical apologetic. These folks may even win some points with those who have read and loved Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion." In the end, though, those who spend much of their effort trying to crawl under the mantle of Calvin will be disappointed.
We do love Calvin as a brother and father in the church. Nevertheless, it is not what he says, but what Scripture says, that matters. We do not say, "You must believe in the five points because Calvin said so," but rather "because Scripture says so." It is the doctrine of Scripture, not of Calvin the man, that matters.
We could be happy to call ourselves "Biblicists" to emphasize that fact - but that label would not convey conventionally the information that the conventional label "Calvinist" conveys.
Labels are useful, and the use of unconventional labels can be deceptive. Christians, regardless of the details of their doctrine, should be careful not to misuse labels with an intent to deceive. Christians should also be careful about using conventional labels in ways that are likely to confuse. Am I accusing Dr. Geisler of trying to trick people? No. I don't think that was his intent. I think he was trying to be ecumenical: trying to bridge the divide between Calvinism and Arminianism. Still, what he did (and what others who seem to be imitating him are doing) is to muddy the waters.
I think the Arminians among us can appreciate this problem, for their own conventional label has taken on a very broad range of meanings, including everything from what Arminius actually taught, to what Wesley taught, to what Finney taught, to what Fallwell taught, and even to what Dave Hunt teaches. (Cf. this article, link provided for contrast, not because I fully agree with it)
So far, incompatibilism, monergism, and TULIP have been usefully summarized with the label "Calvinism." Let's try to keep it that way. But even more importantly, if Calvinism is what Scripture teaches, then let's believe it: if not, let's abandon it.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Deo Gloria (To the glory of God alone) not Solus Calvinus (Calvin Alone).
UPDATE: I've updated the groupings a bit. Notice JCT's objections in the combox, based on issues relating to prevenient grace.
UPDATE: Also, this article (link) provides a different perspective on the labelling issue, and one that also should be considered.
Friday, November 30, 2007
If you have in interest in the ongoing atonement debate, you should compare that article with the post I presented (here).
He makes a couple of additional points that I do not (specifically regarding soter being anarthous in the verse in question, and the historical Greek usage of the term soter), but my reading is that he is mostly in agreement with what I wrote (though, of course, since he wrote first, we should say it the other way 'round).
P.S. Seth: you do not have to respond to Dr. Baugh's paper, of course, as I'm not including this comparison as part of the debate. It's just interesting to note the similarities between the my post and the paper.
P.S. And my link to the article is not an endorsement of the comments, since most anyone can post comments on GB.
And sometimes, certainly, that is true. Some of the prayers to saints, are meta-prayers: they are prayers for prayers.
But that's a misleading claim, for many of the prayers, particularly those to Mary, are not just requests for prayers.
Consider this prayer to Mary, provided at the conclusion of the pope's encyclical of earlier today:
"Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom! Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way!"
And that's a fairly tame, ecumenical version. Consider this:
Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea,
help me and show me herein
that you are my Mother.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of Heaven and Earth,
I humbly beseech you
from the bottom of my heart,
to succor me in this necessity;
there are none that can withstand your power.
It's ironic that those who deny the irresistible nature of God's saving grace, thereby implicitly denying God's omnipotence, affirm the super-omnipotence of Mary, while worshipping her in a way that clearly violates the first commandment.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims, we can and therefore should look to what unites us, namely, belief in the one God, the provident Creator and universal Judge who at the end of time will deal with each person according to his or her actions. We are all called to commit ourselves totally to him and to obey his sacred will.If the pope believes in the same god as the Muslims, then the pope is no Christian.
For all things were made by the Logos, and it is Christ who will come again in Judgment - yet Muslims deny the divinity of Jesus Christ and consequently demonstrate that they do not know the Father - indeed they do not know God at all - for if they did, they would not reject His Son.
If the pope is lying to the Muslims in order to create goodwill ... or if Roman Catholics would like to deny that the pope is saying what the letter says ... I leave readers to draw their own conclusions.
P.S. I'd particularly recommend this for anyone who just suffered through reading Hoffer's style-focused substance-free 20k word post. (link)
This is classic pot calling the kettle black. Hoffer provides a 22,000 word article criticizing stlye, and then has the gumption to assert as his first criticism in the conclusion that Dr. White's use of standard cross-examination debate "promotes style over substance."
It's an adquate response to Hoffer simply to point out that cross-examination is standard in debate, standard in court, and when properly used is excellent for exposing the truth of the matter (which is why it is used in debate and court).
But shouldn't Paul Hoffer know that? Isn't he a lawyer? Is Paul Hoffer this Paul Hoffer?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
You speak of ability and possibility in a divided sense. That is, given X man is able to do A, but if you consider all factors (including Y), man is unable to do A. When I say man is able to do either A or B, I am speaking in a compound sense, including all factors. You are saying X doesn't prevent the man from doing A, but Y does. I am saying no preceding cause renders him unable.You said if man is physically able to do something, LFW entails that he is able to do it.
This is not what LFW is saying. LFW says that given all preceding causes (physical, mental, spiritual...) man is able to do this or that. LFW states man has ability in a compound sense, not a divided sense. Thus even if a man is able to do something physically (ie a divided sense of ability), that action still might not be within the scope of LFW, if something else prevents it.
If I said I am able to lift a 10 lbs weight, but not a 1,000 lbs weight, what am I saying? Am I saying that I can lift a 10 lbs weight, even if I don't have a 10 lbs weight? No. Am I saying that my muscles might lift a 10 lbs weight even if my brain tells them not to try? No. What I am sayings is that given the opportunity and my decision to try, my body can perform the task (provided nothing interferes). But if I have the opportunity to lift a 1,000 lbs weight, and I decide to try, my body cannot perform the task. So saying I am able to lift 10 lbs is speaking generally. Speaking generally is a divided sense, not considering certain things.
I have been lurking in the shadows of Godismyjudge's intereaction with Triablogue, but could no longer resist when I read the above summary explanation.
I think its one of the better explanations I've seen from an LFW advocate.
The problem has several heads:
1) The convention of saying "I can bench 150 lbs." even when there is no ready way to do so conveniently at hand, is perfectly normal. Saying that I "can bench 150 lbs." meaning that I am in a compound, LFW position to be about to do so is not a normal way of talking.
That's not inherently bad. After all, we can use words in philosophy in specific technical ways that the words are not used in common speech. I do that with "foreknowledge," and rightly so. But,
2) If G admits that he is using the term philosophically, not conventionally, he has to acknowledge that Scripture references to "choice," "choosing," and the like are using that term in the conventional sense (at least in most cases), and that the burden is on G to establish some reason to suppose that the term is being used in the specialized, technical, philosophical sense that G needs. And,
3) If G admits that the divided sense is the conventional sense, then he has to acknowledge that the Calvinist interpretation of the word is the conventional sense, and, thus, that the various referneces to "choice," "choosing," etc. are generally consistent with Calvinism. Additionally,
4) It's not at all clear that early Christian users of the term "free will" such as Justin Martyr (as it is widely believed) or Augustine (which seems still more certain) meant it in the compound and not the divided sense, and
5) In fact, it may be hard to find (and I'll leave this to the LFW proponents, if they like) anyone before the scholastics, and probably not until the 17th or 18th century, that so defines "free will." In fact, I cannot specifically recall where Arminius himself so defined "free will," though my depth in Arminius surely pales compared to that of some of the Arminians that have stopped by this blog in the past. Likewise,
6) This compound sense of LFW is not necessarily the sense of LFW that tends to find support among the general populace of folks who embrace LFW (which is demonstrable from their difficulty in properly enunciating it as G has done). So,
7) The easiest and best thing for G to do would be simply to discard this view of LFW as an unnecessary and vain philosophical construct that tends to confuse and obscure the issue (through appeals to intuitions that are connected with the conventional sense of the term), in favor of the conventional definition of freedom of will in a divided sense.
I realize that the quotation above was G's attempt to explain what he thinks, not WHY he thinks it. It is bound to be assertive, not demonstrative, for that very reason. I am not faulting him for that, and I'm not planning to publish any comments that just say "G hasn't demonstrated that LFW exists." I agree: he has not; but he wasn't trying to do so, and assertion has its proper place.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
UPDATE: And here's the way to find his Latin originals on Google:
If this topic interests you, you may want to check out the following links:
This blog quite often includes "line-by-line" responses (often - in fact usually - critical) as part of the journalistic/religious/scholarly work of the blog. Anyone outraged over receiving a "line-by-line" critique of their work can feel free to mention that to the blog author, but unless there is some reason why the critique is not a fair use, then the critique is likely going to stay.
That said, if somehow it should happen that the line-by-line critique would somehow be unfair, such as:
1) diverting a royalty stream,
2) republishing libel,
3) intentionally provoking a reasonable person to physical violence, or
4) the like,
then the blog owner will normally remove the material, unless there is some compelling journalistic/religious/scholarly reason for the material to stay despite the argument for being "unfair."
Incidentally, harassing emails/comments that say something like "stop critiquing my work" or "stop critiquing the whole of my work" or the like will be subject to the appropriate activity of either hitting the reject/delete button to conceal the harasser's act, or hitting the publish/forward button to have some fun at the harasser's expense, as may seem appropriate.
P.S. This brief discussion on "fair use" seems helpful as well (link), though ironically the discussion appears to be pirated from another site.
Response to Comments from Tony (YnottonY, hereafter ("Y"))
Y: I thought I did clarify the issue. No one on this blog, whether it's me, David or Seth, maintains that Christ hypothetically died for anyone. We're not speculating as to what may be the case in another logically possible world,
TF: Interesting that you think you are not, though I think that as we dig, we’ll discover you are. In other words, I think we’ll find that you are advocating that Christ died so that hypothetically – in one logically possible world – everyone could be saved.
Y: but what actually took place in this world; namely, that Christ suffered in the place of the entire human race by the will of the Father.
TF: If that were true, then judgment would have been satisfied, and there could be no judicial basis for hell. Yet hell is, therefore the premise must be wrong.
Y: Again, if Seth's reading of John 3:16 is correct, then calling his view a "hypothetical atonement" would be just as much of a misnomer as saying that he believes God hypothetically shows grace to the non-elect, or "hypothetically" loves them.
TF: That’s simply a misunderstanding of the relevance of hypothesis to your position.
Y: Not even Amyraut believed in a "hypothetical atonement." What prompts you to call any universal redemption view, whether Calvinistic or otherwise, "hypothetical"?
TF: See above.
Y: "...does seem in every way to be a merely hypothetical atonement as it relates to the reprobate."
1) If by "atonement" you're referring to Christ's legal satisfaction itself, then we do NOT consider that hypothetical at all in the case of non-elect humanity.
TF: The law has been satisfied, there can be no punishment. Yet there is punishment, therefore the law has not actually been satisfied. The escape – the traditional escape, even if you decline it – is to assert that it was only hypothetically or potentially satisfied.
Y: 2) On the other hand, if you're using "atonement" to refer to what takes place when Christ's satisfaction is applied to any sinner, then we would say that it may be applied to the reprobate if they would but believe.
TF: The sacrifice does a lot of things, some act at one point in time, others at other points in time. The result of the sacrifice is the salvation of those for whom it is offered. That’s just the way that sacrifices work.
Y: In what sense are you calling our view hypothetical?
TF: See above.
Y: In the sense that Christ "hypothetically" suffered for all of humanity (sense #1)?
TF: Yes, though obviously you are denying that such is your position, for now. We’ll see whether you respond by trying to escape in the traditional way.
Y: Or in the sense that his satisfaction may be, "hypothetically" speaking, applied to any non-elect person if they were to meet the condition (sense #2)? Or both?
TF: Yes and yes. In fact, because of #2, therefore #1. In other words, because your concept #1 accomplishes nothing for anyone, but for #2, therefore your #1 is merely hypothetical or potential. It is also ineffective. It is not Scriptural.
Y: In my initial response to your "hypothetical atonement" label, I was assuming you meant sense #1 above.
TF: It’s the interrelationship between #1 and #2 that reduces #1 to mere hypothetical universality.
Y: After further reflection, I think I know why T-Fan is saying our view amounts to a "hypothetical atonement" in the case of the reprobate. Since Christ died for the non-elect and yet they do not go free, it's apparently an "atonement that does not atone," as James White would say.
TF: Ok. Perhaps my further comments above are moot.
Y: It would be like paying the bill of a friend in a restaurant and yet one's friend is not ipso facto liberated from the legal obligations of the debt.
TF: Close enough.
Y: The friend is still charged with the debt, or has to suffer loss himself. It's a payment that does not pay, or a "hypothetical payment," so to speak, since the friend still has payment obligations.
TF: Sounds reasonable.
Y: Labeling the moderate position as a "hypothetical atonement" in the case of the reprobate just begs the question.
TF: Labeling the non-WCF, non-LBCF, non-Synod-of-Dordt position the “moderate” position is prejudicial at best. Let’s see whether you substantiate the question-begging claim.
Y: It assumes that if Christ has suffered for a person, they cannot still be legally charged with the guilt of their own sin and condemned for it.
TF: That is what “for” means. It’s not an assumption. Indeed, that’s how sacrifices generally work. The sacrifice takes the place of the guilty person, and consequently the victim (sacrifice) dies and beneficiary (person for whom the sacrifice was offered) lives.
Y: Since, as we maintain, Christ suffered for the sin of the reprobate and they still go on to be condemned, that must mean that it was merely "hypothetical" in their case.
TF: Exactly – or at least ineffective. I suppose you could say that God simply refuses to accept Christ’s sacrifice offered on behalf of (“for”) the reprobate, but that would seem to create a contradiction in God. It would still be hypothetical (since, if God had accepted it, they would be saved) but it would be hypothetical in a different sense.
Y: In other words, the "hypothetical atonement" label assumes the legitimacy of the double payment argument, as well as it's pecuniary (literal debt payment) categories.
TF: It is based on (a) the word “for” and (b) an historical-exegetical understanding of the nature of the sacrificial system.
Y: Rather than seek to objectively label us, a loaded term is applied to us. It's like a paedobaptist calling credobaptists "anabaptists," [re-baptizers] or "catabaptists" [averse to baptism]. It's like calling covenantalists "replacement theologians."
TF: I would label 4 point Calvinists Amyraldians, because that’s the traditional label for that position. I would call your #1 above a merely hypothetical atonement, because it does not actually atone. The former is merely a conventional label, the latter is an objective label. This has nothing to do with Baptism, and the labeling issues involved in that dispute are certain to derail the discussion.
Y: If Turretin Fan expects us to accept the label "hypothetical atonement" for our position, then I guess we can expect him to accept the label "commercial atonement" for his position? Not hardly.
TF: The position I’m advocating already has an historical label. I doubt 50% of the readers would understand what “commercial atonement” meant, or what it was intended to convey. It’s not a useful label.
Y: Even though I think T-Fan's position filters Christ's work through literal pecuniary payment categories, I don't label him as holding to a "commercial atonement." I might bring up the pecuniary issue while arguing in a reductio ad absurdum, but I would not label him that way, since he would probably reject the accusation that his view is "commercial." I would call his position a "strictly limited atonement."
TF: The demonstration of the alleged filtering would be ever-so-much more useful than this debate over labels.
Y: That's actually fair and objective, since he thinks Christ only or strictly satisfied the claims of the law against the elect alone.
Y: In other words, the guilt for the sin of the elect alone was imputed to Christ when he died, hence "limited imputation" [another fair label].
Y: We should at least make some effort to fairly label our opponents, rather than beg the question and smear them with views they don't actually believe.
TF: I have no desire to misrepresent anyone from the other side. I used the expression “hypothetical atonement” once (as I recall) in a brief comment in the combox in response to SDM’s comment regarding why the three “alls” do not lead to a fourth “all.” I figured he would understand what I was referring to, and seeing what you have said above, it seems you eventually understood (without any further clarification from me) what I meant as well.
D: I am actually not sure how that helped, as I am not sure Turretinfan would understand some of the categories. I would rather see Turretinfan define hypothetical universalism as he sees it. That would be a good exercise for clarification in the future.
TF: Actually, it is better if proponents of positions clarify their own positions, rather than wrangling over categories that allegedly apply to no one in the debate.
Y (to D): He didn't use the expression "hypothetical universalism." He used the expression "hypothetical atonement." It may be that those two things can be distinguished, since "universalism" might, in the above context, connote the idea that the satisfaction could be applied to the non-elect if they would believe.
TF: Hypothetical Universalism could mean all sorts of things, such as Christ’s sacrifice being theoretically sufficient for each and every man, such that if it had been offered for all, all would be saved. That’s somewhat different from your position – as I understand your position.
Y: However, I suspect that T-Fan may have the satisfaction itself in view [rather than speculating about the possibility of its application for others], hence the "hypothetical ATONEMENT" expression. As he sees it, we have an "atonement that does not atone" [echoing White] in the case of the non-elect or reprobate.
TF: Seems to be a reasonable understanding of what I’ve said.
Y: But, as you say, I would like to hear him explain why he is using that "hypothetical atonement" label. I was mainly trying to spell out why I think he did for the sake of other readers. Also, if my above analysis is correct, T-Fan may be able to see that I understand his own position at least as well as he does.
TF: You certainly seem to have a better grasp of it now, than earlier in this same stream of comments. I’m not sure whether you understand it as well, less well, or better than I understand it, and I’m not really here to try to show off how bright I am or how dull I think a brother in Christ is.
Y: As you know, David, there seems to be unbelief on the part of some strict particularists when they hear that I once held their position for over a decade. As you know, it's as if they think anyone who truly and accurately understands their position could not possibly abandon it later on as unscriptural. So I must not understand it, hence the myriad of further explanations in other debate contexts.
TF: Surely, Y, you must recognize that we do view that as a charitable explanation, as insulting as it must seem to you. On the flip side, there also seems to be some debate over whether we or you understand the position you are presently advocating better. I think, in both cases, we would each think we understood both positions better, and presumably one of us is wrong in each case – possibly the same person in both cases.
Furthermore, of course, the important question is not “who is wiser,” but “what does Scripture say?”
D (to Y): Its hard working through the complexity of how folk like Turretin, the real one, and others, understood hypothetical atonement. I think it meant different things for different people.
TF: Undoubtedly the term was used various ways, by various people, then and now.
D (still to Y): Like we have talked before. I think some meant it in the sense that Christ died for all conditionally, such that they have to add something. But these detractors imagined that the sinner has to add something to the merit itself, rather than exercise duty-faith for the application of the full merit accomplished by Christ. Of course no true hypothetical universalist, (Twisse, Zanchi) ever believed that.
TF: While such a view may be that of, for example, Dave Hunt or the Roman Catholic Church, I don’t take it to be the expressed opinion of Tony, David, or Seth.
D (still to Y): On the other hand, I think Twisse is using it more in a suppositional (possible worlds) sense. On the supposition that a reprobate were to believe, there would have to be an equally sufficient meritorious death for them too: else there is something deficient in the expiation itself.
TF: On the other hand, that’s not necessarily objectionable, as explained so far.
D (still to Y): That last has to follow if the anti-hypotheticallists are right. As we saw from Jonathan on Unchained: it would mean Christ would have had to have been punished more. Had Christ represented for more men, Christ would have had to have been punished more. Jonathan so much punishment for so much sin. So as it is now, the expiation of Christ is not sufficient and able to save all men, as not all men’s punishment was not imputed to Christ. Lets suppose that Christ really had determined to effectually save all men in another possible world, then what Christ actually did accomplish in this actual world, would not be sufficient to save all men in that world. It would be deficient for them, for Christ was only punished enough for some of the all men of this world.
TF: That example, of course, is not an adequate representation of the Limited Atonement position. While that is one explanation for the Limited Atonement position, it is not the only and – I would respectfully contend – not the best.
D (still to Y): Or the real Turretin, for example, from a different angle, would have had to have had so much imputation of sin for so many sins and sinners. Such that, had more sinners been represented by Christ, more sin would have had to be imputed to Christ. So on the supposition that a reprobate were to believe, on Turretin's model, there would not be a sufficient merit for them. Or back to possible worlds language, had Christ really wanted to effectually save more men, then what he accomplished in this actual world would be a deficient remedy for not enough sin was imputed in this actual world, to cover all hypothetical men in the other possible world.
TF: This is more accurate, but still seems to somewhat attempt to quantify the sin versus the suffering. I respectfully don't think it’s quite a full and accurate statement of “the real Turretin”’s view on the subject, though what the Scripture says is much more important than what FT said.
D (still to Y): Turretin could say, well had that reprobate believed, it would have turned out that that mans sin had also been imputed to Christ (in this actual world). But then its no longer a supposition or hypothetical and the subject is no longer a reprobate.
TF: That seems to restore the explanation, although the quantization aspect has not necessarily been swept away.
D (still to Y): Twisse wanted his hypothetical universalism to 1) ground the free offer, and 2) ground culpability.
TF: (2) is clearly unnecessary, for culpability is based in sin, not redemption therefrom. (1) is based on looking for a solution to a non-existent problem.
D (still to Y): It sorta works, but it works more and better than the Turretin model. The Turretin model is self-referentially absurd. Jonathan’s model is just plain crazy. :-)
TF: Well, since D obviously meant that to be taken lightheartedly, we’ll just smile and move on.
D (again to Y): I read your note... and thinking... I am convinced that the real Turretin didnt even understand hypothetical atonement, and thats why he kept screwing up the idea, along with Warfield etc. I have my doubts that Turretinfan can articulate it in a way that is accurate either.
TF: Of course, the burden of articulating one’s position really falls on the person himself, not on the person’s opponent. If, however, I must be found in the company of folks who are alleged to have trouble articulating the positions of others, Turretin and Warfield are excellent company.
Response to Comments from Seth D. McBee (hereafter ("SDM"))
SDM: ... I need to also show, once again, what we believe on the atonement. I have gotten some emails and some comments (from others) that would seem to ask, "What do you believe again?"
TF: And, I will gladly admit, I’ve been one of those. SDM’s apparent refusal to call his view of the atonement an hypothetical one puzzles me, particularly when it appears that his view of the atonement – with respect to the reprobate – is that the atonement merely hypothetically atoned for them. That is to say, that if the reprobate were to repent and believe, then the atonement would take away the reprobate man’s sins, but since he doesn’t it doesn’t actually atone. But note well: that’s the sense I get, not SDM’s actual words.
SDM: We would take what we feel is the normal reading (I know that Turretinfan will disagree that this is the normal reading, which is the reason for this debate) of John 1:29 that states:The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!John 1:29So, we believe that Jesus on the cross took away the sins of the world.
TF: Of course, we do too … we just don’t impose the sense of “each and every person” on the word “world.” But let’s look at SDM’s explanation:
SDM: This death was a penal death, meaning that there is a condition based upon this "taking away" and that would be faith.
TF: This term “penal death” is surely intended to have some particular meaning. My gripe is that SDM does not really explain it. How is a “penal death” different from a regular death? From his other web pages, I can divine that SDM really hopes to distinguish among “penal death,” “commercial death,” and “substitutionary death.” While SDM does not really spell it out (that I have seen, though perhaps he has elsewhere), his view seems to be that Jesus died a “penal death” for each and every person, and that Jesus’ death became a “substitutionary death” based on gracious acceptance of the death by the Father for the elect. SDM’s comment “there is a condition … and that would be faith,” seems to be the nexus that SDM tries to use to explain the difference between the scope of the “penal death” versus the “substitutionary death.” SDM seems simply to deny any “commercial death” view. (source)
There’s a major problem with this, and several minor problems. The major problem is that the Bible does not provide a type of a “penal death” to suggest such a concept in John’s statement. Instead, John’s statement seems more aptly directed toward “substitution,” for the lamb’s role in the O.T. rituals was substitutionary, not merely “penal” (as SDM seems to be using the term).
To put it differently, the sacrifice was offered “for” people. The “for” providing the identity of those in whose place (“for whom” – i.e. the beneficiaries) the victim (the lamb) died. Although there were sacrifices that were for the entire nation, there were no sacrifices that were just out there, waiting to be dedicated to a particular beneficiary.
To put it another way, there is an indirect object in the statement “takes away the sins of the world.” That indirect object is “the world.” The direct object is “the sins,” not the sins themselves, but the guilt of the sins. John does not simply say: “the lamb of God that takes away sins” but provides the indirect object.
SDM continues: So, Jesus is the noun, hilasmos (1 John 2:2), that takes away the sins of the entire world.
TF: It doesn’t say the entire world, but that’s not so significant. The point John is making is about the expanse, not the extent, of Christ’s death. It is global in nature. That’s John’s point, not creating a category of “each and every man.”
SDM: But, the implication, or application for this death, is for the elect upon their belief on Jesus.
TF: The implication/application is taking away their sins. That’s the only implication/application that John provides. That would NOT be the only implication/application if the death were “penal” separately from being “substitionary.” If the death were “penal” separately from being substitutionary, and SDM’s definition of “world” as “each and every man” were correct, then presumably the death would create the possibility of the acceptance of the death as something more than just the death of an innocent man, for each person for whom it had been penally provided.
SDM: This is in no way a "hypothetical death" but in reality is a death to take away the sins of the world, but will only be applied at the onset of belief.
TF: It’s not a “hypothetical death” – it’s a real death. But the “penal” aspect of the death is simply to hypothecate atonement for those who meet the condition, if SDM’s definition of “penal” is to be understood.
SDM: We believe that we follow the teachings of Dordt when it states: (Articles 3, 5-6, and 8 were originally included, but have been omitted by TF for brevity)
TF: With respect, I’m not sure that such a statement of subscription is well founded, for it is hard to believe that SDM could also subscribe to the rejection of errors, first paragraph:
The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
SECOND HEAD: PARAGRAPH 1. Who teach: That God the Father has ordained His Son to the death of the cross without a certain and definite decree to save any, so that the necessity, profitableness, and worth of what christ merited by His death might have existed, and might remain in all its parts complete, perfect, and intact, even if the merited redemption had never in fact been applied to any person.
For it seems that SDM would be willing to suggest that Christ’s “penal death” (SDM’s term) would in fact be complete without application.
SDM: I hope this clears up more on what we believe. We would stand beside all Calvinists and define Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the saints the exact same, as long as they are not putting forth a stand on hyperism in any of these.
TF: Assuming that SDM has not mistaken the traditional views, explained by the Synod, for the “hyper” views, then we simply have an oddity in SDM’s view that Christ died a “penal death” (only and not a substitutionary death) for the reprobate.
SDM: In regards to the middle, the "L", we would define Limited Atonement the exact same way, but we would remove that in the limited atonement aspect it is not "only" for the elect, but the atonement was for all, particularly for the elect.
TF: This seems to rather equivocate over the term “atonement” as there appears to be two types of “atonement” involved “penal” (for everybody) and “substitionary” (for the elect). Of course, removing the “only” from the elect should not really be billed with the intro “the exact same way, except” but rather with “we would define Limited Atonement differently ….” (In this author’s opinion of accuracy in reporting.)
SDM: We can say particularly because when Jesus died he knew whom the Spirit would draw and whom the Spirit would seal and whom would be His bride (no more, no less). This part, this intention of the atonement, was the "joy that was set before him" (Hebrews 12).
TF: We have no argument with that part, obviously, aside from the “this” qualifier.SDM: As far as Turretinfan's post on John 3:16, I will put forth a rebuttal and then we can comment further, but I am guessing we will just say that we are going to have to "agree to disagree" and move on to another passage.
TF: I assume that this is itself the rebuttal, and that we should not wait for another.
SDM: My hope in this is that all those reading would see that John 3:16 is not hardlined to mean the elect, but just the opposite.
TF: “All the believers” is pretty hardlined to mean the elect.
SDM: As we debate this topic further hopefully you will be able to see how we can believe that Christ died for all and not be univeralists, which really comes in the understanding of a penal payment, but we will save that for later.
TF: Achh! This is one reason that I had hoped to provide SDM with the affirmative position in the debate, because SDM’s position for now is lurking, rather than presented. That is to say, I hope I have correctly stated SDM’s position, but wouldn’t it be nice if SDM would state his own position instead?
SDM: I want all to know, I used to be a hard lined limited atonement for the elect only guy.
TF: That’s a bit redundant. ;)
SDM: But, I had to ask myself, "What is the understanding of these passages in a reading without trying to put in my theological structure inside it?" Knowing that if I changed my view on John 3:16 and others, I would also need to restructure what I believed on the atonement. Can this fit? Can this make sense? Because I believe in John 10, Eph 5 and the like, that speak about a particular people in the atonement. Can I make the two mesh without destroying the continuity of the Scriptures? I beleive that I can, and the Scriptures do. Hopefully you will see "why?" as we move forward in the debate.
TF: That’s certainly a noble goal, but I’m afraid you’ve substituted one philosophical imposition for another. Hopefully, as this debate progresses you’ll be cognizant of that.
SDM: I first want to say that I am sorry if I misrepresented Turretinfan in anyway in this debate. I am not into strawmen and hate them, so I want him to point them out if I enter into a strawman in any way.
TF: I recognize that SDM did not mean to misrepresent me.
SDM: As far as his post, I will write some comments and then we can move on.
TF: Again, I assume this is it, and there is nothing more to come.
SDM: Turretinfan comments that in the Greek and the Latin that it could read, in regards to "hina" as "so."
TF: I don’t think that I put it quite that way. In any event, let’s see what SDM offers by way of rebuttal.
SDM: The problem with this is that this is not concrete, and even Calvin who was very well versed in both the Greek and Latin didn't even take it as such.
TF: It’s not really a question of the Greek/Latin not being very concrete (though certainly the conjunctions have a semantic range. The sense of “that” in the KJV is the same as “so that” (as opposed to its alternative sense of a pronominal “which”). That “hina” means “so that” is not really remotely controversial. Nevertheless, let’s see in what way Calvin (who wrote his commentaries in Latin) disagreed as to the appropriate semantic sense of hina in this passage.
Calvin says,For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.Calvin, J. (1998). Calvin's Commentaries: John (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Calvin's Commentaries (Jn 3:16). Albany, OR: Ages Software.TF: I hope I’m not the only one who looks at that and says: “Calvin does not once address the question of the meaning of “hina” in that paragraph.”
In fact, that’s not the only thing Calvin has to say about the passage:
2. This distinction is found in numerous passages of Scripture: “God so
loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him might not perish,” (John 3:16). We see that the first place
is assigned to the love of God as the chief cause or origin, and that faith
in Christ follows as the second and more proximate cause. Should any one
object that Christ is only the formal cause,27  he lessens his energy
more than the words justify. For if we obtain justification by a faith which
leans on him, the groundwork of our salvation must be sought in him. This is
clearly proved by several passages: “Herein is love, not that we loved God,
but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our
sins,” (1 John 4:10). These words clearly demonstrate that God, in order to
remove any obstacle to his love towards us, appointed the method of
reconciliation in Christ.
(ICR: Chapter 17: Christ Rightly and Properly Said to have Merited Grace and Salvation for Us)
But even there, of course, Calvin does not get into explicitly what the term “hina” conveys.
SDM: Turretinfan, based on this interpretation of the passage then states, in one of his comments, that to say "so that those believing" is giving a more precise way of saying "world."
TF: That is the way to reconcile the first half and the second half of the passage.
SDM: He then uses an analogy by saying, "everyone, that is, everyone understanding rhetoric" showing his intent.
TF: I’m not sure what SDM means by “showing his intent.” I provided the example, to show that people can use broad, inclusive terms and then clarify them.
SDM: Here is the problem with this. John 3:16 doesn't read like that. It reads, God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosover believes shall not perish.
TF: The italics on the middle clause doesn’t really take away from the hoste-hina link from “world” to “whosoever believes.”
SDM: There is something in between "everyone" and "that is everyone understanding rhetoric."
TF: Yes, that is a difference between my analogy and the structure of the verse. The question is whether that is a difference that matters. SDM hasn’t provided any reasons to suppose that it matters.
SDM: So this does not flow how he would like.
SDM: So we must ask, if we take Turretinfan's remarks and ask, "How does God show his love for sinners?" "How does a sinner know God loves him?" Because if you use this verse as Turretinfan would like us to believe, this shows love for only the elect not the reprobate.
TF: Ok, it looks like SDM has moved on without trying to show why the difference matters, and even without trying to demonstrate that the hoste-hina link doesn't provide the relationship previously suggested.
I can provide some other examples, of the hoste-hina linking in the NT:
9And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. 10For he had healed many; insomuch that (hoste) they pressed upon him for (hina) to touch him, as many as had plagues.
The act of healing is explicatively linked to the responsive action of pressing for the purpose of touching.
12And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. 13And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. 14And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 15Insomuch that (hoste) they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that (hina) at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
The miracle working is explicatively linked to the responsive act of bringing out the sick for the purpose of being overshadowed by Peter.
1Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4Wherefore, (hoste) my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that (hina) we should bring forth fruit unto God.
The connection between death and freedom from marital dominion is explicatively linked to dying to the law to marry Christ, for the purpose of bringing forth fruit unto God (the fruit being the offspring of our marital union to Christ, in the analogy).
23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore (hoste) the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that (hina) we might be justified by faith.
Our being kept under the law is linked explicatively to the law being our schoolmaster pointing us to Christ for the purpose of our justification.
In some ways the explanation goes one way, in some the other, but you can see in each case that there is the explanatory linking going on, which confirms (one would think) that I haven’t tried to pull a fast one in my Greek.
SDM: But, the intent of John 3:16 is to say to everyone: "God loves you."
TF: No, it’s not. That is how many modern evangelists use it, but that’s not the context in which Jesus spoke it. John 3:16 is something said at night to Nicodemeus (John 3:1). It’s part of a discourse with Nicodemeus regarding salvation, and particularly regarding the necessity of regeneration, and the secret work of the Spirit in carrying out regeneration where he pleases. Jesus is explaining the heavenly things: Christ’s purpose in coming, namely to save those who believe on his name.
SDM: How? He sent his Son.
TF: Actually, he GAVE his Son. The sense is not just the mission of Christ, but the sacrifice of Christ. Verse 17 brings up “sent,” but verse 16 uses “gave.” To stop on “he sent(or gave) his Son,” is to break mid-thought. The next question in any reader’s mind is: “For what loving purpose did he give his Son?”
SDM: If it is only for the elect, the sinner will ask, "How does God giving his Son to others show his love for me?"
TF: And yet that is basically the explanation provided in the verse: the verse explains that the loving purpose was to save the elect: all those believing in Him. Christ did not preach, “Jesus loves you.” Christ preached “Repent and Believe.” We should too. That, after all, is the gospel of Christ. The unrepentant sinner who asks, “What makes you think God loves me?” is asking a most impudent question. The repentant, believing sinner who asks, “What makes you think God loves me?” can look to this verse for affirmation of God’s love.
The unrepentant sinner is presently under God’s wrath and curse! Such a person ought, far from imagining that he is under the universal love of God, become cognizant that he is an enemy of God’s and subject to destruction unless he repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ.
SDM: Here is the best way I can show for an analogy. By the way, when using analogies you have to look at the verse we are discussing. John 3:16 does not give the full reformed view of the ordo salutis, therefore our analogies don't need to do so as well. So, Bnonn's statement that the analogies fall short because it doesn't talk about the "giving of faith" and the like is really not paramount to this discussion.
TF: Analogies, of course, have their limitations. However, to provide an admittedly differing analogy so soon after criticizing my analogy for being dissimilar to the text is a bit incongruous.
SDM: Analogy: I love my whole church, so I send invitations to all for them to come to my birthday party. All those who come to my birthday party will enjoy the fellowship and not be alone at home not enjoying the fellowship. So, when someone asks in my church, "How do I know that Seth loves me?" They can say,"He sent me an invitation" What if someone doesn't come? I run into them the following week and we talk. Can they say, "I didn't come because you didn't invite me." No. I invited all to come.This is how I showed all, that I loved them. This doesn't mean I love all the same.
TF: The problem is that this analogy differs in important ways from the text.
a) While John 3:16 ipse does not give the full reformed view of the ordo salutis, the passage does, for it explains the necessity of regeneration for seeing and entering into the kingdom of God, and explains that the Holy Spirit regenerates in a secret way.
b) Sending an invitation may be an expression of love for those invited, but (despite what is being made of Calvin’s use of John 3:16 quoted by SDM above) John 3:16 does not say that God so loved the world, He invited the world, but rather that he so loved the world that he gave his Son to save the elect. There is a certainly sense in which the verse can be viewed as an invitation, but even then only as a conditional invitation. Whether or not it can be viewed that way, such a way of looking at the verse is not the historical-exegetical sense of the verse. The verse was not part of public sermon but a private discourse about the heavenly things, about the purpose of God in the Incarnation, and that purpose was to save the elect.
SDM: Please do not read into this analogy other parts of the ordo salutis because that is not the intent of John 3:16. The intent of John 3:16 is to show, "How he loved the world" namely, by sending His Son.
TF: That explanation cuts off the tail of the sentence, which then creates discord in the text, as has been demonstrated.
SDM: The other part of Turretinfan's argument for "kosmos" really doesn't make sense to me. He states that it means "created order" and does not refer to "humanity." Here is actual comment:In fact, with respect, I think SDM would be hard pressed in any of the about 150 verses (or about 180 uses) that use the word kosmos in the New Testament to come up with even one that clearly uses the word to mean all humanity, and not simply the actual world, or the natural/created (sometimes considered as fallen) order generally. Even if SDM could come up with a few such examples, I think SDM would have to admit that the dominant usage in the New Testament and in other ancient philosophical material is of the actual world or the created/natural order.I am not going to go through all of these verses, but will take a look at both John 7:4-7 and John 15:18.
TF: There is, of course, no reason to go through all of these verses. The point is to note that nowhere is the word used (unless in these disputed places on the issue of soteriology) to mean each and every human being.
SDM, quoting Scripture:For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.For not even His brothers were believing in Him. So Jesus said to them, My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.John 7:4-7If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.John 15:18
SDM: So who hates me? Who hated Jesus? Was it the "created order" or was it all of humanity as direct people?
TF: The word “world” there cannot possibly mean literally “each and every person,” can it? Surely that’s not the position that SDM is arguing in favor of. And presumably those are the two strongest/clearest usages. Of course, what it means here is just “the multitude,” “lots of people,” or even “most people.” It’s being used to designate a large number of people. Hence it is paralleled to “publicly” in the first passage.
SDM: Jesus says in John 7 that if you show yourself to the world, the kosmos, then he shows what he is talking about: his specific brothers. He uses this and then tells us the same: The kosmos will hate you, and this is a specific people.
TF: This exegesis is a bit off: “world” corresponds to “publically” with “even his brothers” being used to reinforce the massive expanse of the resistance to him. Of course, Jesus did have disciples. The word “world” did not mean “each and every person,” it meant a huge mass of people.
SDM: This is the same thing in John 12:47. Turretinfan says that this isn't in context but we can easily refute this being that it is the same author (John), same one being quoted (Jesus) and almost the exact same sentence structure in the Greek.
TF: Similar (even identical, if it were identical) sentence structure does not equal context, whether or not the speaker and reporter were the same. It would be further boon if the audience were the same (it is not). Yet it would still not be context. It might be useful for understanding the grammatical sense (see above where I used similar grammatical constructions to demonstrate a linguistic point), but it is not context.
There is, however, something similar to John 3:16 that helps us to understand John 12:47, the way that John 3:16 helps us to understand John 3:17. That similar something is (surprise, surprise) John 12:46, the context of John 12:47.
Jesus states his purpose in coming, and that is to save the elect: all the believers (“πας πιστευων”).
SDM: John 12:46,47 is speaking of God coming into the darkened humanity as a whole, so that the individual one in darkness can be saved.
TF: This is a surprising claim. After all, the more natural sense is that Christ came into the Creation (in the created order), i.e. was incarnated (same as in John 3:17, 19; 6:14; 9:39; 11:27; and 16:28). “come … into the world” is a reference to the Incarnation, not something else (prevenient grace? Who knows what SDM thinks), and is frequently used in John, which – in part – seems to have been written specifically to combat early Gnostic claims that denied Christ’s true humanity. His purpose in coming into the Creation (this time) was a saving purpose. Next time he comes it will in judgment. That’s the sense of the verse, not that Christ came for the purpose of saving each and every person. To suggest that such was Christ’s purpose is tantamount either to (a) affirming universalism, or (b) denying Christ’s success in his purpose.
I suspect SDM would like to retreat to a position where Christ merely provided a “penal death” for all, but that is not salvation. That is not saving people, which is evident from the fact that some for whom Christ allegedly provided a “penal death” perish. If it were salvation, they would not perish, because salvation and perishing are mutually exclusive concepts.
SDM: It is taking the whole and bringing it to the individual. I don't understand what is so difficult in understanding this, unless one is trying to bring forth an understanding because of theological convictions.
SDM: Jesus says, "I have come as Light into the world." Am I supposed to believe that He came for the created order? What does this mean? Did Jesus come for the rocks and trees? Or, Did Jesus come as the Light for the individuals in the world who love the darkness, so that those who believe in Him will live and not die?
TF: See above.
SDM: I stand behind my reading of John 3:16 as stated before. God so loved the world, that is, those in darkness, all of them, that He sent his Son, the Light, into the darkened world, so that those who are in the dark, yet believe in Him would not be like those who stay in the dark and perish, but will look to the Light and have eternal life.TF: There are a couple of problems with that reading. (1) It is “gave” not “sent” and gave refers to the sacrificial work of Christ, (2) the reading is obviously replete with insertions, which seem designed to mask (3) the overall flow of: he loved all so much he decided to provide a way to some of the all unlike other of the all, which is a most discordant flow. The insertions appear to smooth things, until one steps back from the trees to look at the forest as a whole. Then it becomes plain the oddity of asserting that the verse is intended to be read: God so loved all that he gave his Son to save some. Quite odd. If it said, that he so loved all that he gave everybody a chance to believe and be saved, now that would seem to be helpful to SDM, but that’s not what the verse says. In fact it is precisely by combining that idea (“he so loved all that he gave everybody a chance to believe and be saved”) with the actual verse (“he so loved the world that he gave his only begotten so that all who believe in him should be saved”) that one arrives at the sort of reading you see SDM present above.
SDM: God is love, and this is his representation for the entire world to know that he is love, by him giving his Son for the entire world. Otherwise, no sinner, even the future elect, can know that Jesus died for them.
TF: SDM’s “otherwise” is clearly wrong. We know that we are the elect if we have faith in Christ, because no one comes to the Son unless the Father draws him. Likewise, we know that we are those for whom Christ died, if we are among the “all believing in Him.” The very verse in question defeats SDM’s claim of inability to know of Christ’s work for them.
SDM: This is why Numbers 21 is brought forth in John 3. To show the love of God. God so loved all those bitten, that he provided a provision for them, so that when they looked they would be saved. If they didn't look, they weren't saved and it was their fault, not God's. Whether there were some who didn't look or not, is not the point, the point is God provided a provision for ALL THOSE THAT WERE BITTEN. To carry this to the usage in the New Testament would mean that God provided a provision in all those who have sinned.
TF: The point is that God saved through faith. SDM seems to have missed the point.
Response to Comments from David Ponter (aka Flynn, hereafter ("D"))
D: Here is example of over-generalisation and misinformation. This is from the last comment (to date): “A question that has be lingering in my mind, that needs to be answer before we move forward, is this, would you call your view of the atonement “hypothetical universalism?” That is, the view that Jesus by his death on the cross made salvation possible for all not actual for none. This is only in regards to the atonement and not the decree to elect certain individuals, which could or could not make salvation actual. If this is not your view, would you please, in your own words, briefly layout your understanding of the atonement.”
D: I guess we have a definition that now includes all non-Owenist versions of the atonement.D: The true hypothetical universalists said that Jesus by his death did actually secure the salvation of the elect. Of course by this they didnt meant therefore that the elect were justified ands sanctified on the cross or anything like that, but that Jesus through the exact and proper means, secures the salvation of the elect.
TF: This battle over labels is nauseatingly distracting from the debate at hand.
Response to Comments from Stegfan
Stefan: First, it seems to me that both of you want to suggest that John 3:16a deals explicitly with the extent of the atonement. Following B.B. Warfield (sans his post-millenial application of this passage), let me offer another reading of John 3:16. John is simply relating three things in the first part of this verse: (1) the source of the atonement (i.e., God's love); (2) the sole sufficiency of God's love in Christ (i.e., Christ alone); and (3) the quality of God's love in Christ (not quantity).
TF: Stefan, I find myself disagreeing with Warfield on many small details, while agreeing with him in the big picture. I see no reason to doubt that “loved the world” is at least an expression of the large magnitude of the love of God (is that quality per BBW?)
Stefan: "World" is thus understood (as elsewhere in Scripture) ethically. It isn't that God loved each and every individual that makes up the world (universalism of all kinds), or even the world of the elect (particularism) -- both of those are quantitative readings of the passage. No, God loved this sinful world -- an age, a "race" to borrow Calvin's term -- that had rebelled against him in Adam and thus continues to rebel against him. It is the quality of his love that is in view. God could have justifiably condemned the world through his Son's first advent. But he didn't (see v 17); no, in love, he ordained his Son to be the only mediator between Himself and man, and so gave him, in the fullness of time, to suffer, to bleed, to die, in order that whosoever might hear Christ and believe, might receive the inheritance of salvation and everlasting life.
TF: I certainly agree, and I don’t think that significantly differs from my explanation. Unfortunately, I think that such an explanation has a certain ambiguity in view of the “set theory” approach I’ve seen from the other sides.
Stefan: It is not the measure of his love, but the intensity of his love that is in view; his love, to quote Warfield, is immeasurable! More could be said, but I'll leave it at that.
TF: Me too.
Stefan: Second, it seems to me, Seth, that you are misreading the Canons of Dort. The Canons do not posit the universal extent of the atonement and reserve any limitation to the Spirit's application of the atomnement; rather, it posits the infinite value and sufficiency of of Christ's atoning work -- which, by the way, is common to Reformed theology (see Owen, Works, 10:295). Article 3 needs to be read in its context, that is, in conjuction with Article 4. This is especially true here since Article 4 clearly explains the previous article by telling us that the infinite value of Christ's death is not related to any kind of universal extent of the atonement, but rather is based simply upon the fact that it is Christ, the God-man, who suffered unto death. To quote another, "The infinite 'sufficiency' of Christ's death to cover the sins of the world is rooted in the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in Christ. Infinite sufficiency is intrinsic, therefore, to the saving acts of the God-man." Furthermore, the Canons (and Reformed theology on the whole) are clear that the external works of the Triune God (especially redemption) are unified. God purposes the redemption of the elect; Christ secures the redemption of the elect; and the Spirit applies redemption to the elect. To posit that God purposed a universal atonement, and Christ secured such (either really and truly or hypothetically), but the Spirit only applies that work to those who believe suggests (among other things)(1) variance within the Trinity (not ontonlogically, but economically), and (2) that the meritorious cause of our salvation is, ultimately, our faith, rather than the atoning work of Christ. Again, more could be said, but I'll leave it there.
Stefan: Seth, you want to distance yourself from Amyraldianism, but your arguments sound so much like it. How would you distance yourself from that view, if at all? Also, how would both of you respond to the following statements: the divine intent of the atonement necessarily answers the question of the extent of the atonement; and, divine mandate is what compels the free offer of the gospel (not a universal atonement). Thanks for your time, and sorry if I'm covering old ground or taking this debate off track.
TF: Actually, those are both timely, lively, and (as far as I could tell) previously unraised points.
Stefan: Seth -- also, I noticed you quote Article 8 of the Canons, which are clearly covenantal. Should we assume that your agreement here extends to that as well! :)
SDM (to Stefan): As far as the Canons we could spend a lot of time discussing this but I believe that it would be too much off topic, especially how far I agree with them. :)
TF: That’s a tad disappointing, but oh well.
More Response to Comments from D
D: You cant claim Calvin on Jn 3:16, he clearly has world has universal of the race, all particulars. John Calvin on John 3:16 We are simply taking the verse in the same way Dabney, C Hodge and Shedd took it. See here: John 3:16
TF: This is a disheartening trend, and one that needs to be fixed – the misidentifying oneself with famous reformers, particularly Calvin, and more recently Turretin. More later.
D: But to this: You say: "World" is thus understood (as elsewhere in Scripture) ethically. It isn't that God loved each and every individual that makes up the world (universalism of all kinds), or even the world of the elect (particularism) -- both of those are quantitative readings of the passage. No, God loved this sinful world -- an age, a "race" to borrow Calvin's term -- that had rebelled against him in Adam and thus continues to rebel against him. It is the quality of his love that is in view. God could have justifiably condemned the world through his Son's first advent. But he didn't (see v 17); no, in love, he ordained his Son to be the only mediator between Himself and man, and so gave him, in the fullness of time, to suffer, to bleed, to die, in order that whosoever might hear Christ and believe, might receive the inheritance of salvation and everlasting life.
D: 1) Okay, we have said that ‘world’ does not mean every individual. We have said it means apostate humanity. Its all mankind as they stand in unbelief, hostile to God.
TF: Which is not exegetically obtained.
D: 2) David: What does that mean? God loves the race? Does that include any particular person? Is it, God loves an abtraction? We come back to that point. If you say, “Sure David at least one particular person is comprehended in the term race.” I then ask how it is that you delimited the number of persons? On what basis?
TF: This is an illustration, Stefan, of that “set theory” mindset I mentioned above. There seems to be a mental block in some readers to comprehend that “mankind” is not a reference to “the set of men Adam through Zepheniah.”
D: The problem is further underlined when you say the race rebelled. An abstraction cannot rebel, only concrete particulars can. What does it mean God loved an Age? How can an Age rebel unless it’s a reference to particulars who make up the Age?
TF: The race rebelled in Adam.
D: 3) And this from Warfield:From his Plan of salvation, p., 63.From the text: We will ask, however, an American divine to explain to us the sacerdotal system as it has come to be taught in the Protestant Episcopal Churches.60 "Man," we read in Dr. A. G. Mortimer's "Catholic Faith and Practice," "having fallen before God's loving purpose could be fulfilled, he must be redeemed, bought back from his bondage, delivered from his sin, reunited once more to God, so that the Divine Life might flow again in his weakened nature" (p. 65). "By his life and death Christ made satisfaction for the sins of all men, that is, sufficient for all mankind, for through the Atonement sufficient grace is given to every soul for its salvation; but grace, though sufficient, if neglected, becomes of no avail" (p. 82)[footnote 61]. "The Incarnation and the Atonement affected humanity as a race only [footnote 62]. Some means, therefore, was needed to transmit the priceless gifts which flowed from them to the individuals of which the race was comprised, not only at the time when our Lord was on earth, but to the end of the world. For this need, therefore, our Lord founded the Church" (p. 84).
From p., 109, the footnotes: 62. Query: Is there any such thing as the "race" apart from the individuals which constitute the race? How could the Incarnation and Atonement affect the "race" and leave the individuals which constitute the race untouched?
TF: I’m curious. What does D think that the footnote establishes? Is the hypothesis self-contradiction? Or – instead – is BBW merely denying that the race can be affected without any of its members being affected? I suppose the latter is the case, but I’d have to go find a copy of the book, since inadequate context was provided.
D: 4) We agree that the quality of the love is magnified as a contrast to the sinfulness of the human race, but that does not change the point that universally apostate world is set in contrast to the greatness of the love of God.
TF: The love of God is expressed by the sacrifice of the son to save the elect.
D: I ask you the same question, Warfield asks: how can there be such a thing as the race apart from the individuals of the race? If you say some individuals are included, I want to know why do you delimit the number to the elect? And by elect, I mean even if you say all kinds of elect, or some of all races, which turns out to be the elect anyway.
TF: See above.
D: In varying degrees I suppose is a way to explain it, or God loves the elect in a special sense in which he does not love the non elect, but all the while He loves the non elect and earnestly calls them to repentance and belief as if they could, which implies that there must be some measure of ability to respond positively although it is guaranteed that they will not.
TF: God would not command the impossible, eh? Is that also your pov SDM?
Response to comments from "Orthodox" (hereafter ("O"))
O (quoting SDM): So, when someone asks in my church, "How do I know that Seth loves me?" They can say,"He sent me an invitation"
O: This is all well and good, but you also believe (following the analogy) that everyone in the church is disabled (depraved), and can't come unless you send transport (irresistable grace). So you love these people SOOO much that you send invitations knowing they have no transport to get there. Not really a coherent picture.
TF: Actually, it’s interesting to me that O gets this point, while I think SDM does not. I feel it is important to the debate, and I hope SDM will consider it.
Response to Further Comments from D
TF (previously): As I explained, the meaning of "world" is not that important to my argument. I don't think Scripture uses the word "world" with a single wooden meaning.
D: Yeah I saw you had said that, but then you go to great lengths to say world cant include any non-elect. I word it that way because that is the ultimate intent. But nothing you have said proves this.
TF: Actually, no, I don’t go to great lengths to say the “world” (in general) cannot include any non-elect, and I do point out that it is more than a bit unnatural to suppose that the verse is to be read as :“For God so loved each and every person, that he gave his Son to save the elect,” where “each and every person” is a genus and “the elect” is a species of that genus.
TF (previously): More importantly, there seems to be an assumption in the "which is it" question that word cannot serve all three purposes:1) to mean literally the created order generally;2) primarily to be used to refer to the elect as a global group (in distinction to "his own" - cf. John 1); and3) to be explained as a general reference to the particular objects via the "all the believers" in the latter part of the verse.
D: Sure you can say that. But for me, its very implausible. John is using kosmos in the chapters to denote people, not their mere physicality, and not general physicality like trees and rocks. So that riles out the created order. And for sure, we do mean created people, but its not creation, per se. As to world equaling believers, we given reasons why that cannot be so. Does world include believers? Yes, believers is a sub-set of world.
TF: Your analysis of plausibility is colored by your position in opposition thereof. You seem to have trouble distinguishing between the literal and literary sense of the world.
D (previously): The claims are all non-exegetically derived.
TF (previously): Actually, of course, they are exegetically derived, and the exegesis is in the post.
D: Well we have to agree to disagree on that.
TF: Actually, we can just let readers read the post, and determine whether exegesis is provided. Of course, your claim that there is no exegesis presented should, in my view, undermine other aspects of your argument, such as your claim of implausibility, and your droning insistence that we must define kosmos as you do.
D (previously): Is there any exegetical warrant to believe John's use of Kosmos denotes the elect globally? None was presented.
TF (previously): Sure there was. Recall the John 1 portion of the post.
D: I didnt see any evidence that Johannine kosmos meant elect globally. Sorry.
TF: Reread the post.
D (previously): Was there any that he meant the created order here? None was given.
TF (previously): Sure there was. It was argued that such is a natural reading of the text, in combination with the assertion (which I assume would not be challenged) that such is the ordinary meaning of the term in philosphical contexts.
D: again, assertion is not argument. Argument means building a case for a conclusion.
TF: Your own words condemn you. In fact, I built a case, as everyone can see, and you, sir, are the one who responded with bare assertion, in this case an assertion that there was no argument. An argument is more than just an automatic gainsaying of your opponent’s position.
D (previously): Was there any evidence that he means believers? None.
TF (previously): Of course there was. The were the argument from the hoste-hina link between the first and third phrases.
D: Ah yes. That does not work.
TF: The problem is that you do not demonstrate that it does not work. Instead, you start to assert some alternative meaning, but, as we’ll see, that requires you to (a) presume a meaning of “world” and (b) then insert words to make that meaning of “world” fit the text.
D: The gift of God is to world, so that one who believes [in the world] should not perish.
TF: What I noted as (a) is implicit, whereas what I noted as (b) is explicit. Furthermore, it is not say that “one who believes should not perish” but so that the entire class of believers (all who believe) should not perish. Once you see that the described group is a large, expansive group, it becomes obvious that you have implicitly presupposed some particular meaning of “world,” imposed that on the text, and then inserted “in the world” to make the second half of the verse fit with the discordant first half.
D: “Here the hina works specifically to that, so that the who believes should not perish. We are fine here.”
TF: The hina explains the purpose of God giving his son, and the hoste explains that the demonstration of God’s love for the kosmos is his giving his Son. The hoste-hina link shows that the demonstration of God’s love for the kosmos is his saving the elect. That’s how the link works grammatically. Your “works specifically to that” is perhaps just a typo, but in any event the hina does not provide either a basis for an exhaustive view of kosmos or for the insertion of “in the world” later in the verse.
D: But lets borrow language from Zanchius. Lets invoke is categories of conditional will (aka decree) and absolute will (aka decree).
TF: The difference between God’s conditional will (aka preceptive will, moral law) and God’s absolute will (aka decretive will, decree of Providence) is hardly Zanchian. Nor is such a difference helpful to you here. For the verse is speaking of God’s love, and consequently is invoking God’s perspective on the matter, not man’s.
D: And now lets merge that with my party analogy.
D: Harry has a conditional willing to host a party for the one who comes.
TF: I follow you so far.
D: The party is not properly (non-absolutely for the one who does not come), but it is conditionally for them.
TF: This is confusion. The party is not conditionally or unconditionally for anyone who does not come, considering them as people who do not come. It is only conditionally for everyone (of whatever group is invited) considering them as undecided.
D: The one who does come, Harry absolutely wills he will have the greatest time.
TF: This is a place where the analogy breaks down, because humans don’t have absolute wills, like God does. Nevertheless, if we were to suppose that everybody basically initially decided not to come, but Harry knew how he could persuade certain of the people to come, then we could start making a comparing Harry’s will to the divine will. In other words, considering them all as opposed to coming, Harry could nevertheless “absolutely” (although it is still a stretch) decide to make sure that several come to the party.
D: God conditionally gives the son the world. But he absolutely wills that all who believe, will not perish.
TF: This too is confusion, on many levels:
a) in the verse, God gives his Son, not the world.
b) in the verse, God gives his Son, so that all the believers will not perish.
- from man’s perspective, this can be viewed conditionally (since we do not know who is that class of all believers); but
- from God’s perspective (the perspective used in the verse) this can be viewed absolutely (since God does know who is that class of all believers).
c) God does not give the Son people conditionally, but absolutely, and the Son saves all that the father gives him, as we learn from other Scripture.
D: In this classic model, the idea in John 3;16 entails multi-intentionality.
TF: Calling it the classic model is prejudicial at best.
D: You view only works if you 1) reduce the world to be believers: ie Harry only organized the party for those who came; try and play around with John’s kosmos.
TF: The hoste-hina link pretty clearly relates “kosmos” to “believers” in a way that does not suggest nesting (your view), and the only way to call my way “play[ing] around” with kosmos is to assume a definition of kosmos that is non-standard in Greek, not required by the text, and philosophically driven by your view on the universality of the sacrificial work.
TF (previously): As noted above, not an identity claim, but explanatory relationship.
D: Well no, to me its just equivocation, an attempt to have your cake and eat it too.
TF: As noted above, your judgment is colored by your bias, and – in any event – asserting that a word has a literal meaning but is not being used literally is not equivocation.
D (previously): At this point what he has said is not credible to me.
TF (previously): That's hardly significant, since you started on the other side of the fence.
D: Sur it is significant.
TF: No, it’s not the least bit significant, because you are heavily biased against the position expressed by the Synod of Dordt. Of course, you don’t find the opposite position “credible.” Why would you?
D: If the one who believes is a sub-set of the world, then world is broader than the ones who believe, and so world cannot be equal to the ones who believe.
TF: Rhetoric permits words to be used flexibly, not woodenly. Figures of speech permit “the world” to stand (figuratively) for a global group. For obvious reasons, you impose a set-theory view on the text, which creates the confusion you then pass off as exegesis.
D: Secondly, its also absurd to say the world is, the ones who believe, qua the ones who believe, for many of them didnt or havent believed yet.
TF: It’s less absurd than a denial that the set “all the believers” is a concrete, limited set in God’s mind, and the verse is talking about God’s mind. Furthermore, of course, there is nothing from the text that requires them to be believing at the time Jesus spoke the words, or now, as we read the words. In fact this “yet” argument is quite farfetched.
D: At the most now, you can say the world is the ones who believe qua as their eschatological totality perhaps.
TF: That doesn’t sound much different from what I’m saying, although I don’t place kosmos and the “all believers” in an identity relationship: a point you seem to be repeatedly missing.
D: But as it stands, some of those who will yet to believe, are part of the world, nonetheless.
TF: I’m not sure how that would matter in the least (see above, about the “yet” argument), nor does it support:
D: So “world” and “the ones who believe” are not equipollent.
TF: It does not support that conclusion (a) because “all the believers” viewed from God’s perspective is not temporally limited, (b) we are speaking about God’s perspective, and (c) equipollence has a range of meanings – some of which extend to terms that are intended have similar signification in a particular context.
D (previously): Now on another note, the modern academic consensus is that Kosmos denotes apostate mankind, all men in unbelief and rebellion.
TF (previously): Where, aside from Scripture (and commentaries on Scripture), do you see it used that way in ancient/classical/koine/you-name-it Greek? I cannot think of a single example. I suspect that is because none exist, but I'll leave you to provide some Homeric, or other example, if such can be found.
D: Sure, the classic is John 17:9, here it’s the world in darkness. 1 Jn 2:5:19, the world lies in sin. John 3:17 the world stands under judgement. John 3:19, the world stands in opposition to the light, and is in darkness. John 7:7 the world hates Christ. Etc etc. The world is contrasted by John as a place of opposition to Christ and to the believers.
TF: Somehow I think you missed the “aside” in the phrase “aside from Scripture.” Presumably you consider John’s gospel and John’s first catholic epistle part of Scripture. What you’re actually arguing is John’s figurative use of that Greek word, not its literal meaning. Still, it seems you don’t recognize that such is the case, and consequently you miss the point.
D: Where in Scripture are the believers ever called ‘the world”? Can you find a single instance, Turretinfan?
TF: Here’s a rather non-controversial example:
John 12:19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
And no, the Pharisees did not use the word in an exhaustive “each and every person” sense, but in an expansive “a huge number from all over” sense.
TF (previously): As for it being "modern academic consensus" - that's not true (Dr. James White being an example of a contrary modern academic) and even if it were true, it would hardly be compelling, given that much of modern academia is theologically liberal, and their interpretation is highly suspect of theological bias because of the prominent misuse of John 3:16.
D (previously though temporally before the TF, previously, above): What evidence can Turretinfan adduce that world here, means the elect globally, the believers, or the created order?
D: I did say “world here” I thought that would be clear.
TF: I thought the argument from the general semantic range of the term would be clear. That’s how we read. We start from ordinary meanings of terms, and then apply special meanings only if the context requires. If the point is to count commentaries, that’s an inane standard.
TF (previously): For the created order, in addition to general reference mater[i]als on Greek usage (take your pick), if you want a specific reference that relates to New Testament Greek you could pick, for example, "The New Analytical Greek Lexicon," by Wesley Perschbacher. It's surprising to me that anyone who knows Greek would challenge that particular definition. Perhaps you don't know Greek?
D: Show me where in the verse ranges at hand they say world means created order... or the elect globally, or believers? That was my question. There is none, Turretinfan. No reputable scholar says that the world of 3:16-17 denotes any of those things. Sure you will find it means the creation. But in these relevant texts?
TF: As noted above, if the question is a question of counting commentaries (especially modern commentaries) count me out of the issue. Dr. John Owen’s “Death of Death and the Death of Christ,” is the definitive Reformed commentary, but reproducing that massive work here, would serve little purpose.
D (previously): It would help us if we had some clarity here. Its possible that these contrary definitions are unified in the mind of Turretinfan, but its not evident to me a reader–non-telepathic at that–where this unity lies? I am not seeing it at this point. Rather I see that it cant be all three, even two of three.
TF (previously): Hopefully the explanation above clarifies.
D: Actually it does not. I am still looking for some evidence, exegetical, logical, even lexical.
TF: Actually, you asked for clarification. Your refusal to be persuaded by the evidence: exegetical (see the exegesis in the original post), logical (see the logic in the original post and in the responses to comments above), and lexical (see Perschbacher, for example) is not equivalent to my not providing such evidence. In fact, what you seem to be interested in doing is haranguing without setting forth a case of your own.
D (previously): And he apparently has admited:“Now, I would not take the position "God so loved the world, that is, the elect of the world, that He sent His Son." Why not? There are two reasons: (1) it uses the word "world" *equivocally,* and (2) the point of the verse is simply: God so loved the kosmos, that He sent His Son to save the elect.”
D (previously): But it seems to me that he has done just that: posited equivocal meanings of John’s kosmos here.
TF (previously): Again, since this seems to be built on the inability to see the unified relation, I trust that the relationship has been explained, and this charge of equivocation has been addressed.
D: Actually no.
TF: Well, the charge of equivocation has not be substantiated, as far as I can see, except by repeated assertion and failure to appreciate that non-literal usage is not equivocal usage.
D: You are making an incidental aspect–the believers physicality–part of the direct predication behind the meaning of world.
TF: Not true.
D: That is how it looks to me.
TF: I suggest you read without inserting foreign concepts into the explanation.
D: Again, what you say hardly seems plausible that world here means the directly: created order, the elect globally, and believers. Its just incoherent to say that.
TF: That’s now been repeatedly asserted by you, but not demonstrated.
D: For example, all the elect are part of the created order. But not all the created order are elect. All the believers are the elect, but not all the elect are believers.
TF: The imposition of sets as the framework for analysis is artificial. In God’s mind, there is no difference between “all the believers” and “the elect.” As can be seen from the first flow of the verse, “because God loved … he gave … to save” we are talking about the mind of God. The elect are a global group, not limited to a particular class, race, or region. Thus, it is appropriate to use the figure of “world” to describe them.
D: Only at the final eschaton will all the elect and all the believers be co-extensive in quantity. So, it cannot be that equipollent, even roughly interchangeable.
TF: Unless one denies the omniscience of God, the timing of when all the elect will be actually believing is irrelevant.
D (previously): He is confusing the intentionality and engaging in reductionism.We would say this, the intention of God in the provision of the serpent is complex, not simple (without parts).Let me illustrate by way of example.Harry decides to organize a party for his co-workers on the 5th floor, so that the ones who come have the greatest time. Turretinfan wants to say something like this: Harry only organized the party for those who had a great time, that is those who came. He is missing the point. Its clear that the party was in one general sense organized for all the co-workers on the 5th floor and yet its also clear that Harry’s design is that the party be especially efficacious for those who do indeed come. Turretinfan’s gloss on this is really quite shallow.
TF (previously): Well, with respect, I think the rebuttal is even less shallow. Let me explain:John 3:16 is teaching that Jesus was given for the purpose of saving "all the believers" which we Reformed folks (and even some others) call "the elect."Now, I think you have already admitted that it was not intended to save the other group - those who refuse to believe.The party analogy is non-an[a]logous, because "having a good time" is sliding-scale - whereas Salvation is binary. There are two final destinations - and the purpose of Christ's sacrifice was to put a particular group ("all the believers") into one of those two destinations.
D: Thats the reply? Thats hardly effective. All analogies cannot be pressed at all points to exhaustively match.
TF: If the complaint from my side were that they do not exhaustively match, that would be a fair response. Since I don’t, it isn’t.
D: So lets simply change it. Harry hosts a party for his 5th floor co-workers so that the ones who come will all receive a gift of a clock.
TF: This solves the sliding-scale problem, though it has a strangely contrived ring to it. In fact, we would expect that Harry might decide to reward those who come to the party with a clock to express his appreciation for their coming, or as incentive to encourage people to come to the party. We would find it odd for Harry to hold a party in order to give away clocks to those who come. But – anyhow – that’s your contrived analogy – let’s see where you go with it.
D: Now, this newer version opens up new discussion points. Lets say only 15 of the 50 5th floor co-workers come. Does that mean that Harry only had 15 clocks to give away? Anyway... your reply there is very unconvincing. I know you know exactly what I was getting at.
TF: Well, given your analogy, Harry has chosen a bizarre plan. Harry has decided to give away clocks without knowing who are going to be the beneficiaries of his donation, or how many clocks he is going to give away. That’s why the plan seems to be bizarre and contrived. And, of course, it is an important non-analogous point. If God were not omniscient, then the significance of God doing something to save “all the believers” (in advance of some of them believing) would be very different.
We could try to remove this non-analogous part, by making Harry at least cognizant of the fact that it is only those of his 5th floor coworkers that like him (or have not expressed annoyance at his frequent use of a chewing tobacco and spittoon) will show up at the party. Accordingly, in advance of the party, Harry may be able to predict perfectly (if he were omniscient) or at least reasonably accurately the number of people who will show up. Thus, in such a situation – it would be fully reasonable to assume that the number of people who showed up was roughly equal to the number of clocks that Harry bought.
If – for whatever reason - Harry was absolutely sure that 15 and only 15 would show up, I think we can all intuitively agree that Harry would buy only 15 clocks, unless he had plans to put the other 35 clocks to some other use.
D (previously): What is more, his confusion is what is undergirding his analysis of 3:16. For likewise he keeps saying that Christ came to save those who believe. Thats perfectly true. But it does not exhaust the complexity of the picture.
TF (previously): It does exhaust the point of the verse, although I am aware that you assert some additional purposes.
D: Well because there are two stated purposes in 3:16-17. There is the first one is God does such and such, so that the one who does believe, should not perish. Thats purpose 1. But then there is a second stated purpose with its own purpose clause. But here the person or agent is different. God sent his Son, so that the Son, may save the world.
TF: It seems more natural to view John 3:17 as restating the point of John 3:16. I’m not sure why you would arrive at the conclusion that there are two different purposes, rather than one purpose stated two different ways.
D: This is actually very important and often glossed over. The son here is the Son has Messiah.
TF: I assume that should be “as the Messiah.”
D:The Son seeks the salvation of all men, the sheep, the lost sheep, the pharisees, the rich, the Gentiles, etc etc. And so it is the Son who says if any man rejects my words, I do not condemn him, for I did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world.
TF: That’s not the Scripture’s message. The Son comes to save those the Father gave him. The rest he doesn’t know. He DOES know who are His.
D: So when you collapse the intentionality into just one, you break down the complexity of the passage. My Harry analogy was an attempt to show you that.
TF: Contrariwise, when you confuse a restatement as being a new statement, you create a false dichotomy.
D (previously): Christ came to sustain a provision for the whole world, and also he did this with the special intention of providing the exact efficient means to save those who do believe on him.
TF (previously): The verse does not say so, as has been demonstrated in the post above.
D: Well we have stated it time and time again.
TF: It is not enough to state something many times. It must be demonstrated.
D: Our argument has had multiple aspects to it.
D: 1) we have asked you to actually establish an exegetical case that here and in the critical passages, your three definitions can be sustained? You have not shown anything exegetically.
TF: That assertion is obviously an extreme overstatement. “Not shown anything”? Any unbiased reader (if that were possible) would have to disagree. In any event, I have established an exegetical case (see the post above).
D: 2) We have used reductios to show that your definitions are illogical. Seth has focused on this.
TF: Seth’s “reductios” turn out to be misstatements of my position. Once that has been pointed out, your continued mislabeling of them amounts to straw-man-ing.
D: 3) We have used examples where world–in identical or near identical passages–clearly includes at least some non-elect as counter-factuals. 1 critical counter-factual is John 12:47-48.
You have not been following the comments so you may not be aware of this. Thats fine. I would encourage you to spend some time reading our replies in the comments.
TF: Since I dealt with John 12:47 in the post above, the non-reading charge is clearly misdirected.
D (previously): He also came to save the world. There are multiple intentions here which tf is glossing over.
TF (previously): The verse does not say he also came to save the world.
D: Ah, I see. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.The object of the love is the world. It’s the same world as in v17:John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
TF: The word “also” is still not there. It’s simply your assertion that verse 17 is something “in addition to” verse 16, whereas a more natural reading is that verse 17 is a restatement of the point in verse 16.
D: Now, you object, I understand, but on no grounds have you exegetically established a basis that world here can mean three things at once: the created order, the global body of elect, and the ones who believe.
TF: The question is really only whether a word can have a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. Since it can have both (and does here), there really are two meanings implicated, whether you like to acknowledge that or not. That the global group of all believers equals the elect can be gleaned even from non-Calvinist writers like Dr. Norman Geisler in his book, “Chosen but Free.”
D: And more simply, nowhere are believers called the world. Can you find a single instance where believers are called the world?
TF: See above for the non-controversial example above. Besides that, of course, the parallelism in verses 16-17 would be enough to lend credence to the exegetical argument presented even if this were the only time it were used that way. The figurative usage is understable from the passage itself, in contradistinction to the imposed meaning that your argument requires.
D: At this point, the standard arguments from Owen and others has more going for it, for they don’t say that world=believers. Owen’s arguent, White’s even, has more plausibility at this point because they don’t engage in all this equivocation.
TF: There’s no significant difference between the presentation I gave and White’s or Owen’s presentation.
D (previously): I am sure others can make my point clearer than I can. But that seems to me to strike at the heart of Turretinfans fallacious reasoning on that point.
TF (previously): First, demonstrate the fallacy, then call it fallacious reasoning.
D: Harry did not organise the party only for those who came. Right? Its self-evident.
TF: That’s only self-evident because Harry we take as a given that Harry is sub-omniscient, which is what makes your reformulation above so bizarre. On the other hand, that Harry did not organize the party for those who he was CERTAIN would NOT come, is also self-evident, and exceedingly more relevant to our debate. With that item self-evident, the rest of the house-of-cards Harry/party example flattens.
For if Harry did not organize the party for the benefit of those who he was certain would not come, then Harry did not organize the party for each and every person on the fifth floor, whether or not he invited them all, whether or not he sincerely desired all of them to come, and whether or not he bought 50 or only 15 clocks. To say that Harry through the party for the benefit of those who he was certain would not come, is to make Harry a laughable idiot.
Because Harry is sub-omniscient, perhaps will write him off as merely a soft-hearted optimist, but if we say that Harry could somehow be certain (not just fairly sure) that the 35 would not come (perhaps because Harry had recently attended their funerals). This again, provides a better analogy to the reality of the matter, for all of mankind is dead in sin and unable to believe. God knows (and has always known) that no one would believe unless the gospel was preached unto them (external means) and the Spirit regenerated them (internal means).
God was and can be absolutely certain who will and will not believe. In fact, we could change the analogy a bit further to be simply that Harry throws a party for the fifth floor, but only those with tickets can attend, and Harry gives out the tickets to those whom he chooses. There may be 15, 50, or 150 clocks, but Harry never planned to give clocks to any but the 15 who show.
Harry may make use the office public address (PA) system to make the announcement, “The party is starting for everyone who has a ticket,” which everyone may hear. Only those with tickets, however, will benefit from the general call.
We can take it a step further. Suppose we give Harry a secretary (or executive administrative assistant, or whatever the politically correct term is these days) whom Harry instructs to go round up all the people for the party. Suppose that Harry tells his secretary that everyone can come, as long as they have a ticket, but Harry doesn’t tell the secretary who are the folks with the tickets.
What would the reasonable secretary do? She’d go to each person on the 5th floor and tell him, if you have a ticket, you’re welcome to come to the party. It’s a lot like the way that preach the gospel to everyone, not telling them that they are absolutely entitled to come to heaven, but that – if they believe – they will be saved. Meanwhile, we are aware that this belief is not of or from themselves by their own power but from God.
Furthermore, in our analogy, the secretary might describe the matter this way: “My boss so loves his 5th floor coworkers, that he has sent me to round up all the people holding a ticket. I’m not sent to keep his 5th floor coworkers out of the party, but to bring them to the party.”
Of course, any analogy has its flaws, but now that we’ve fixed (as best we can) some of the major flaws, our intuition tells us that regardless of the broad language in the secretary’s message, her specific comment about the ticket does not change her broad comments into comments suggesting that Harry exhaustively intended everyone to come to the party, or that there are 50 clocks waiting.
TF (previously): My response is that you are stretching, because there is nothing in the original story about the serpent being a general provision, but instead, every indication is given that the serpent was universally effective, although the effect was applied via "looking to" to the serpent.
D: I struggle to see how it is that the obvious is denied here.
TF: Actually, your struggle is ironic, since it is obvious that text mentions not one single silly person who did not look and died, once the bronze serpent was provided.
D: The bronze serpent was a provision for the whole people.
TF: It was a provision for the repentant people, many of the people having already died of snakebite.
D: And it was this, so that the one who looks up will not perish.
TF: Actually it was to save those who had been bitten from dying. The looking at the serpent was simply the external means to that end.
D: Lets grant that all of the people actually looked up.
TF: No need to “grant” it for those who repented and yet were bitten, for the text does not suggest otherwise.
D: Lets grant then, as this follows, that all of the people were bitten.
TF: Non sequitur. It does not follow that all of the people were bitten, whether or not one grants the universal effectiveness of the cure for the ailment.
D: Still the serpent was for the whole people, so that anyone, particularly, who looks up, will not perish. The anyone is a subset of the whole people.
TF: Again, non-sequitur. Even given the first two positions (all were bitten, all looked up), the idea that anyone who looks up will not perish is not a “sub-set” of either of those two groups. It’s only a subset viewed on an individual basis. In verse 8, “kol” (MT) and “pas” (LXX) means “all.” Same – of course – in John 3:16 “pas” means “all.”
D: Now where the assumption breaks down is that I am not convinced that everyone was bitten. Was Moses bitten? Were the faithful bitten? If not, does that mean that the Serpent was not a provision for them too?
TF: As noted above, I agree that there is no reason to suppose that 100% of the living, repentant Israelites (and/or those who did not grumble with the rest) were bitten. And yes, clearly, the bronze serpent was not a provision for anyone who was not bitten.
That’s why it was no problem when the iconoclast Hezekiah smashed the brazen serpent, after the Israelites had begun treating it the way that Catholics and Orthodox treat their religious images, namely burning incense to it. (2 Kings 18:4)
The serpent was a particular, miraculous cure for a particular miraculous ailment. It was only for the bitten of repentant Israel, but it was for all the bitten of repentant Israel, so that as they looked at it, they would be cured. I’m not sure why this concept is hard to understand.
D (previously): If my Harry analogy does not spotlight what Turretinfan is doing, then I don’t know what will. He keeps saying that Christ came to save those who believe, and for this we all agree. But thats not all there is here. I don’t think any sensitive thinker would just insist that harry only hosted the party only for those who actually came. But thats exactly how some of us feel about Turretinfan’s treatment of 3:16.
TF (previously): If Harry went out and compelled certain people to come to the party (and we somehow knew that if Harry didn't compel them, they wouldn't come), we'd feel a bit different, wouldn't we?
D: You know the point of the analogy.
TF: The point of your analogy seems to be to make God sub-omniscient, like Harry, so that God cannot save just those whom he chooses, but has to provide salvation equally for everyone. If Harry doesn’t know who will come, he has to buy 50 clocks to avoid looking silly if everyone shows. If Harry knows who will come, he buys exactly 15 clocks.
But you failed to deal with the counter-analogy, and in doing so, you (at least in the eyes of the readers) concede the point of the counter-analogy, which is that our intuition is reversed if Harry is out there compelling some to come to the party, and cognizant that no one who is not compelled will come.
D (previously): But that takes us back to Harry and the party.Like this: Harry organizes a party for the 5th floor workers, so that those who come have a great time. Turretinfan would want us to think that ‘5th floor workers’ is identical to ‘those who had a great time.’
TF (previously): This formulation has another significant difference from the text: the verse does not say "for the world." Still I think the other main discriminator (adding to the analogy that all and only those who Harry actively persuades to come, actually do come) renders the entire analogy moot as to its intuitive force.
D: Again, you know the point and you know how it better explains Jn 3:16-17.
TF: As noted above, I’ve exposed the point of your analogy. Far from “better explain[ing]” the text, it reduces God to a man, and his infinite knowledge to fallible prediction. That’s why modifications to your analogy must be made, and why your analogy stops being persuasive once the necessary modifications are made.
D: A great King gets his cooks and servants together to have a great feast. Now he invites all his friends, his servants, his workers, his lease-holders to come to this feast. His aim is to provide a great feast for all that come. When the feast is ready, he sends out his invitations to all his invitees. However, his messengers come back beaten and afraid. It turns out that for some weird reason, some of the invitees have refused to come. So what does he do? He sends out other servants to compel others to come.
TF: Assuming that this is supposed to be a restatement of Jesus’ parable: Actually, it’s not “some weird reason,” they don’t want to come. They made excuses. (Luke 14:18-20) In this particular parable, the servants are not beaten, not that it particularly matters to the parable. Furthermore, his aim is not “to provide a great feast for all that come,” but to fill his house. Finally it is not just that “some of the invitees have refused,” but “all with one consent” (verse 18).
D: So where are we at now? Has anything changed? No.
TF: That’s only because you alter the parable to try to suit your needs, and leave off the second, and critical half.
In the second half, the Lord is “angry” (odd to view it that way, if his intent was just so that those who would happen to come would be happy) and tells his servants to go bring in the poor, maimed (missing some body part or other), halt (unable to walk), and blind. His servants do so, and report back that there is still room in the house.
So the Lord tells them to go out of the town into the highways and hedges (along the highways) and compel (force) them to come in. Why? “That my house may be filled.” (verse 23) and “That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”
Response to Comments from Bnonn (hereafter ("B"))
B (previously): David, I must confess I am still having trouble with the analogies being used here. Like the pony analogy, the party analogy is missing a very obvious element: effectual calling. We cannot merely say that Harry threw a party for the whole fifth floor. That is not the whole picture. We must also recognize that Harry only ever intended for the alcohol drinkers to come to the party in the first place (before he threw it), and so he deliberately served alcohol to exclude the teetotalers. He never intended for them to come.
D (to B): Any anology can be pressed too far, and no analogy ever has an exact one to one correspondence. Analogy, like metaphor, always means similarities with a difference. There is continuity and discontinuity. At the point I am trying to illustrate–multiple intentions with complex causal statements–the analogy works.
TF: The analogy only works because of the limitations of Harry, limitations that are non-analogies. In other words, this is not a situation of the analogy being pressed to far by its critics, but a gaping hole in the analogy being glossed over by its proponent.
D: (quotes Matthew 22:1-14, which I’ll reproduce in the KJV rather than the translation D used)
1And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14For many are called, but few are chosen.
TF: This parable is similar to the one in Luke mentioned above. There are some minor details different: perhaps it was two similar parables, or two different versions of the same parable. In any event, in this version, the differences are:
- the reason the king wanted to fill his house is made clear: he wanted to celebrate his son’s marriage
- the king sends two waves of servants, rather than one
- the statement that the people did not want to come is made explicit (“they would not (on hethelon) come.”)
- the second wave of servants is tortured and slain
- the king judges the murders with execution
- those taken from the city are omitted in this account
- those taken from the hedges about the highway are omitted in this account
- there is an additional account of the man who shows up without a wedding garment
This account differs in ways that really don’t make a world of difference to the analogy. The first group was called, but the latter group was chosen. The king’s personal desire was a full house to celebrate his son’s wedding, so that the wedding would be furnished with guests. It’s not really an example of “multiple intentionality” at all, which undermines D’s argument.
D: And I think you have seen this before:
XXI. The invitation to the wedding proposed in the parable (Mt. 22:1-14) teaches that the king wills (i.e., commands and desires) the invited to come and that this is their duty; but not that the king intends or has decreed that they should really come. Otherwise he would have given them the ability to come and would have turned their hearts. Since he did not do this, it is the surest sign that he did not will they should come in this way. When it is said “all things are ready” (Lk. 14:17), it is not straightway intimated an intention of God to give salvation to them, but only the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. For he was prepared by God and offered on the cross as a victim of infinite merit to expiate the sins of men and to acquire salvation for all clothed in the wedding garment and flying to him (i.e., to the truly believing and repenting) that no place for doubting about the truth and perfection of his satisfaction might remain.
Turretin, Francis, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1994) 2:509.
TF: I, of course, cannot speak for B, but I’ve naturally seen that before. It’s worth pointing out that while “wills” and “commands” are fairly accurate translations of the Latin original, “desires” is somewhat strained as a translation of “gratum habere” which would be more literally translated “to deem acceptable.”
D: Now I don’t agree with everything the real Turretin says, but sufficiency speaks to provision
TF: Actually, though, sufficiency does not “speak to provision.” Sufficiency speaks to the perfection of the victim. The atonement for the people of Israel was sufficient when the people of Israel were 1 million, and when the people of Israel were 100 million. It was formally and outwardly sufficient, but it was substantively insufficient (which is why it had to be offered year after year). Christ is both formally and substantively sufficient for all the elect (spiritual Israel), regardless of the number of the elect. In this way, the yearly national atonement sacrifice typified Christ. There are other sacrifices that typified other aspects of Christ’s work as well – such as the trespass offerings that needed to be offered essentially on a per sin basis.
B (previously): If Harry is in charge of throwing the party, and in charge of deciding who will come, can we still say that he threw the party for the whole fifth floor, given that he only intended that the alcohol drinkers would come? The party was certainly sufficient for the teetotallers—they could have come if they'd wanted—but it was never meant for them.
D: We come back to the same basic points. Do you believe in the external call of the gospel, Bnonn? If so, what are the called, called to come to? What is a man called to come to?
TF: The answer, of course, is that man is called to repentance and faith in Christ: to discipleship, to taking up one’s cross and following Jesus, and most importantly to worship of the most high God. I hope that D’s problem is not that he does not understand the gospel message!
B (previously): Similarly, can we say that Harry really wanted the teetotalers to come if he never intended for them to do so? You will notice I have deliberately not answered these questions. I am just trying to demonstrate that the question is a little more complex than you have represented it to be.
D: Again, Does God desire compliance to his commands? Yes. If God calls someone to come to Christ, he desires it. If he desired it, and called them to come to Christ, he could not have not made any provision in Christ for them. Right? To what, to whom, are all men called to come to, in the gospel?
TF: The answer to the last question is shown above. It seems that D is suggesting that men are called to a “provision in Christ for them” that D thinks exists. Of course, that’s not the case. They are called to faith and repentance, to confession of sin and worship of God.
D relies on ambiguity in the English word “desire” which can have a range of meaning, the more common meaning being “hope.” It is absurd, however, to imagine that God merely (or at all) hopes that the reprobate will be saved. God knows with absolute certainty that they don’t.
Another meaning of “desire” is to indicate a strong wish that inclines one’s mind toward an object. Thus, we might say that Eve desired to be like God, and therefore ate the fruit. Again, it is also absurd to suppose that God has a strong wish that inclines his mind toward the object of the reprobate believing and repenting, for He does not apply the means within his power to attain the end. Just as we would all shake our heads at the driver who said that he did not desire to hit the girl in the street, but simply declined to apply his foot to the brake pedal, even so we shake our heads at the assertion that God “desires” the reprobates salvation.
UPDATE: Compare this post (link), which makes a similar point from a different angle.
There is a solution, though. The solution is that God has decreed and commanded that it is acceptable (gratum) for each person to repent of their sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. That is the acceptable thing, whereas unrepentance and unbelief is the unacceptable thing. This God has done as the law giver. It is what has decreed that man ought to do (the decree of the law), in contrast to what God has decreed that man actually will do (the decree of providence). To repent and believe is to do what is morally right, to remain unrepentant and unbelieving is morally wrong. In that sense, we agree that God desires the salvation of each and every man.
In that sense, however, D’s rhetorical question makes as little sense as Pelagius’ typical remarks. “If God has commanded it, he must have provided us with the ability to accomplish what is commanded,” so the Pelagians falsely assert. D’s own logic is parallel, for he falsely asserts (in essence), “If God has commanded all men to be saved, he must have provided all men with the object of their commanded pursuit.” But the logic fails for a variety of reasons. The primary reason is that we may think it odd to imagine that heaven will be a ghost town full of empty mansions of the reprobate. Yet heavenly mansions are among the objects that the believer in Christ may look forward to. A secondary reason is the reason noted above, namely that God’s command is not to receive a mansion (or forgiveness) but to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
D: There is this propensity to always jump to the “real” will as if the will behind the command is not real. It’s a phantom. When God desires that all me live by will revealed, he really desires this. Its not sham. Its not pretend desire. What is more, jn 3:16 is an expression of the revealed will and determinative and effective will.
TF: It’s not a pretended desire, but it’s not a desire in the same sense that God’s purposes are His desire. Providence reflects God’s desires in one sense, and the commandments of God reflect God’s desires in another, different sense. From the standpoint of God’s perspective, God’s decrees of Providence are “higher” than God’s moral precepts. In other words, sometimes God’s decrees of Providence call for contravention of God’s moral precepts. God, however, does not contradict himself. Thus, we can see that even if we call God’s precepts his “desires” we do so in a different and lower sense than when we call God’s Providence his desires.
D: What is more, God and Christ prepared a provision for the world, as an expression of their love to the world, so that anyone, that means anyone, in the world who believes may not perish.
TF: That’s the typical Arminian assertion, but it is not based in exegesis. If we look at the text, we see that the provision in Christ is not “for anyone who might believe” but “all the believing ones.” It is not for a hypothesis or formula that Christ died, but for the elect: identifiable as those who believe.
D: The point is God’s compassion is that no one in the world perishes. His love expresses itself with this intent, tho, he therefore provided for the world a provision for those who come. His love is magnified.
TF: That’s certainly not the point of the passage. The point of the passage is that those who believe will not perish, and those who will not believe will perish. The statement “he … provided for the world a provision for those who come,” is rather self-evidently gibberish. The “provided … a provision” has two indirect objects in the sentence: “for the world” and “for those who come.” Unless those two groups are the same (which D denies), the sentence is insoluably ambiguous. Is the provision for everyone or for some? In fact, we can make this gibberish even more clear by simply rewording it “he … provided for all a provision for some.” Viewed that way, the ridiculousness of the statement should be obvious.
D: God loves the world. But even more so, he loved them to provide a remedy for their sin.
TF: God only provided a remedy for the sins of those who believe, leaving the rest under condemnation. Thus, if “the world” is supposed to mean “each and every person,” it is simply not true that God provided each and every person a remedy for their sins, but only for those who repent and believe.
B (previously):I cannot see a way around avoiding viewing Harry's invitation in the light of his intentions about who can come. I have considered that perhaps I am committing a category error—but manifestly that does not appear to be the case: because the invitation, and deciding who can come, are both Harry's own actions, and are both motivated by his specific intentions toward teetotalers. I cannot see how they can be put into different categories. To do so would be to give Harry multiple personality disorder.
D: We come back to the same issue: hypercalvinism. God reveals that he desires that all men come and find life. And yet in another way, God has determined to only effectually save some. You have already conceded that God does desire the salvation of all in some sense. How is this not subject to your same “personality disorder” charge?
TF: I don’t intend to speak for B, but my own solution to that dilemma is already presented above.
D: Was the mind of Christ similarly disordered, when he expressly declares that he sought the salvation of the pharisees in Jn 5:34, when he sought to gather the masses of the city Mat 23:37, when he wept over Jerusalem Luk 19:41 etc. What was God’s problem in Hos 11:8?
TF: Matthew 23:37 and Luke 19:41 are frequently misunderstood, particularly by those coming with Arminian assumptions to the table. There Jesus spoke in condemnation of the Pharisees and leaders of Israel for the opposition to the ingathering of the people of Israel. John 5:34 poses an interesting problem, but can be readily be explained as pertaining to the general purpose of the outward means of grace: the preaching of the gospel. In order for Hosea 11:8 to have an unhelpful signification, it must be wrenched out of the context of Hosea 11:7 and 11:9-11.
7And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him. 8How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. 9I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. 10They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. 11They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.
D (again, I think to B): I thought of this too. If world equals created order, then the question is: are any of the reprobate part of this created natural order? are any of them objects of this giving love?
TF: This “set theory” approach to the figurative use of “kosmos” is what seems to be producing the roadblock to D’s understanding. “Kosmos” = “world” in the sense of the created order taken as a whole, not taken as to its constituent elements. The reprobate clearly are not part of the “giving love” because no provision is made for those who never believe, but only for those who believe.
D: If Turretinfan says no, then we now have another definition, a new twist on what it means to be "the created order."
TF: Presumably it has been cleared up above.
TF (previously): As for it being "modern academic consensus" - that's not true (Dr. James White being an example of a contrary modern academic) and even if it were true, it would hardly be compelling, given that much of modern academia is theologically liberal, and their interpretation is highly suspect of theological bias because of the prominent misuse of John 3:16.
D: two things, Firtly: what degree does White have? and is it 1) accredited; and 2) in the field of linguistics and Biblical and Exegetical theology?
TF: As far as I know, Dr. White holds a ThD and D.Min. (both in Apologetics), but both from an institution that is not accredited. Dr. White also teaches Greek (and has for over a decade). He was a critical consultant on the NASB update (1996). He is widely recognized among opponents of Reformed theology (such as Roman Catholics and Mormons) as one of the leading apologists for the Reformed camp. He’s an elder in good standing in a Reformed Baptist congregation.
D: Secondly, the statement there is so conspiratorial, Turretinfan. Much of modern Scholarship is liberal? Carson, Morris, and all the others? Surely thats not a sound comeback just to dismiss the general consensus of modern scholarship? And do you mean, somehow Owen, Gill and others from the 16thC are right just because they are theologically orthodox as you understand orthodoxy?
TF: Majority rule is not the way to determine truth. It’s that simple. The fact that Carson, Morris, and others are generally intelligent men is not enough to make their testimony compelling when it comes to a question of exegesis. And, frankly, the takeover by theological liberals of renowned schools of theology (such as Princeton Seminary and Harvard Divinity School) are matters of public record. Cambridge, where Carson got his PhD in New Testament, is not exactly a bastion of conservative Reformed thought. This, however, is not whether Carson, Morris, or others should be properly labeled as “conservative” or “liberal.” The point is that modern scholarship is all over the map.
D: Your comment, to me, smacks more of fundamentalism than Reformed.
TF: Considering that the reformed luminaries that come to D’s mind are Carson and Morris, I’m not sure D would know Reformed if it smacked him in the face. In any event Morris and Carson are hardly independent thinkers (from each other). Wasn’t Morris even a professor at Carson’s school, didn’t they get their PhD’s from the same place, and didn’t they coauthor at least one book together? But again, the question is not whether they are wise, Reformed (I think Carson labels himself a “five point Calvinist”), or not. The point is simply that much of modern scholarship has gone liberal. Thus, a “consensus” (which surely means simply “majority”) rule is not a good measure.
B (to D): Hi David. I think you replied well, and I think particularly you hit the nail on the head when you said that "no analogy ever has an exact one to one correspondence". Realistically, I think the Harry analogy is insufficient to examine the full extent of redemption (or at least, both atonement and faith), because it distorts the situation too much. We then read those distortions back into the theological discourse, which results in confusion and error.
TF: Well said.
B: Suffice to say I still find myself bemused by this discussion—which, to be frank, is not something I experience often, so forgive me my clumsy attempts to reconcile the situation in my own mind (: I do agree with the multiple intentions view; I am still working out the precise implications of this, however, to my understanding of God and his purposes. I will continue to monitor this discussion closely!
TF: I hope that the debate is edifying to B.
D (to B): to be clear, I was not pressing the Harry analogy to that end, but simply that in a like example, one can have diverse intentions, such that one would/should willingly note that its absurd to say that Harry only hosted the party for those who came.
TF: It’s one thing to acknowledge that God can have multiple intentions in a single act (for example, the manna from heaven both fed the Israelites and foreshadowed Christ). It’s another thing to impose unnecessary (and absurd) multiple intentions into a verse. When one intention is stated (namely to save the elect), then to simply cry “multiple intentions” is what we call special pleading.
D (to B): But that is how I see Turretinfan trying to argue with regard to 3:16at points.
TF: As noted above, however, that absurdity melts when we make the Harry party analogy more analogous to the verse in question.
D (to B): Ive been talking to Seth, and I would still like to know from TF what does "created order" mean? Trees, rocks? Created humans? Any non-elect included? And if kosmos means created order is consistently created order in 16 and 17 in all the instances? if it changes why?
TF: It means the Universe as a whole, the Creation. That’s its literal meaning. It is NOT used consistently in verses 16-17 in all instances. It is only used literally in the first instance in verse 17, and is used figuratively of the elect as a global group in all the other instances in those two verses, as has been exegetically established.
I’d like to point out something else. There has not been a counter-exegesis to demonstrate that “kosmos” means “the set of the elect and the reprobate.” Instead, we have – in essence – an appeal to authority, specifically the authority of recent “scholars.”
Response to Additional Comments from D
D: All your “comments” add nothing. No one can seriously say the feast was only an intended provision for those who finally came. No one can say that the King only had one intention or desire here.
TF: Actually, there is a primary intent (to fill his house) and a secondary intent to do so with one group (those “brought in” and “compelled”) and not with the other group (the invited excuse-makers). It is only because we assume that the King thought the first group would accept his invitation that we would ascribe multiple and/or changing intentions to him. If, however, we recognize that the described Lord is God, then we recognize that nothing took him by surprise.
In short, as has been repeatedly emphasized in this response, your entire basis for “multiple intentions” is a sub-divine view of God.
D (previously): We are saying nothing he says demonstrates that they are equivalent, and its obvious, given John’s actual use of kosmos, that they are not.
TF (previously): The literal scope of "world" is not equivalent to "elect," and yet the expression of "love the world" is "save the elect."
D: What I see here another equivocal move.
TF: As noted above, the problem is that you fail to understand the difference between the literal meaning of the word and the figurative usage of the word.
D: You keep moving from world meaning the ones who believe, the created order, the elect globally.
TF: You keep repeating that charge, despite the fact that the global group of believers = the elect, and the fact that “the created order” is the literal meaning of the word, which is then used figuratively to convey the fact that the group being described is widespread.
D: If you say world includes believers, thats fine.
TF: Actually, it would not seem to be “fine” under your definition of “world,” as apostate unbelieving folks. That rebuttal is coming below.
D: But now to what you just said; World is not literally equivalent to elect:
1) The world exhausts the scope of the love of God.
I think we can agree here.
TF: I have no idea what you think we are agreeing upon. The text explains that the extent of God’s love of the “kosmos” is explained by his salvation of the elect.
D: 2) world is not electYou concede that.
TF: Again, I have no idea what you think I’ve “concede[d].” “Kosmos” is used to refer to the elect as a global group, see verse 17, where “the world” is what is saved.
D: 3) Therefore God loves more than the elect? The object of the love of God is broader and more inclusive than the circle of the elect.
I think you want to concede this point. So you come back and say, well yes cos world here means created order. And we say, can you prove that? Can you show that the direct object of the love and the saving work of the Messiah is the created order? as if thats the point of the intent here?
TF: There seems to be a lot of confusion expressed in this third point. The object expressed by the term “kosmos” is the object of God’s love. However, the beneficiaries of that love are clearly expressed: all the believers (i.e. the elect).
D: Further, as we have said, how does this not follow: “For God did not send the Son into the created order to judge the created order, but that the created order should be saved through Him”?
TF: It does, of course, follow. The problem is that you fail to see that in the first instance the “created order” is literal, and the two latter instances it is figurative.
D: In order to avoid the absurity, you have to equivocate on the meaning of world in these three instances.
TF: Clearly that is not true, as adequately demonstrated above.
D: I am running out of time, so those posts have less than my usual even minimal proofing.
TF: I would suggest slowing down, not so much for the spelling issues (of which I noted very few above) but in order to provide responses that reflect a degree of consideration of the issues and the opposite side. I try to do the same, which is why my responses do not issue instantly, but after a period of thought has elapsed.
General Rebuttal as to the Meaning of "World"
Now that I’ve dealt with the comments themselves, let me turn to another issue, namely a rebuttal to the proposed definition of “world” namely, according to David (allegedly citing all modern authorities) “Kosmos denotes apostate mankind, all men in unbelief and rebellion.”
Let’s see what this definition does to the text.
For God so loved [all men in unbelief] that he gave Christ so that all men in belief should be saved; For God sent Christ into [all men in unbelief] not to condemn [all men in unbelief] but to save [all men in unbelief] through him.
I think we can see that this interpretation is obviously absurd.
Why is it absurd?
1) Because “Kosmos denotes apostate mankind, all men in unbelief and rebellion” is clearly not a literal sense of the word “kosmos” but a figurative sense, and yet it is clear that the first use in verse 17 is literal, not figurative. Thus, Christ in verse 17 is sent literally into the created order. That is to say, Christ is literally incarnate.
2) Because the proposed figurative use of “kosmos” creates a clash between verses 16 and 17, as well as with in verse 16 itself.
a) Between verses 16 and 17, the proposed figurative use of “kosmos” creates a clash because verse 16 says that the to-be-saved group is “all in belief” whereas the to-be-saved group in verse 17 is “all men in unbelief.” The two groups are, by definition, mutually exclusive. It’s clear how someone imposing “Kosmos denotes apostate mankind, all men in unbelief and rebellion” on the text could arrive at multiple intentions in the text, because “all in belief” and “all in unbelief” are clearly contrary, opposing concepts. The problem, of course, is that this clash is caused simply by the imposition of that figurative meaning on the text, which results in the schizoid view of the text in order to try to reconcile the plain meaning of the second half of verse 16, with the contrived meaning of the second half of verse 17.
b) Additionally, within verse 16 there is a clash, because the flow of thought is gone. God loves group A, and therefore gives his son to save group B, where group A is “all men in unbelief” and group B is “all men in belief,” two mutually exclusive groups. It breaks up the flow of the sentence and the logical progression of thought therein. Like the clash created between verses 16 and 17, there is a similar clash created within verse 16 itself by the imposition of “Kosmos denotes apostate mankind, all men in unbelief and rebellion” onto the text.
3) Next, it is absurd because of its origin. We have to ask ourselves, where did this definition come from? The answer, of course, is that the definition came from outside the text, and was brought into and imposed on the text. Why was that done? It was done to avoid the result of reading the text as a smooth, simple statement of God’s plan:
Here’s God’s love of the created order: He gave his son to save the elect, for God did not send his Son into the created order to condemn the created order, but to save the created order.
And this is the condemnation, namely that light is come into the created order, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil … but he that doeth truth comes to the light, because his deeds are wrought of God.
4) Which leads to the penultimate absurdity, namely that where the sense of “all men in unbelief” would be perfect in this passage (namely where the passage states “men loved darkness rather than light”) the passage does not use the word “world” to denote such men, but uses anthropoi (“men”), AND the passage distinguishes anthropoi evil-doers from truth-doers, the latter group being the group that comes to the light.
5) Finally, the use of “Kosmos denotes apostate mankind, all men in unbelief and rebellion” creates a further contextual problem, namely that verse 15, immediately preceding makes the same point as the latter half of verse 16, namely that it is “all in belief” that will be saved. So the flow of the passage would be:
Group A will be saved; Because God loves the opposite of Group A, therefore He gave his Son to save Group A; For His son was not sent into the opposite of Group A to condemn the opposite of Group A but to save the opposite of Group A.
This is even more absurd than the original proposal that only included verses 16-17. Thus, because of the plain absurdity of the matter, we can reject “Kosmos denotes apostate mankind, all men in unbelief and rebellion” as the appropriate sense in verses 16-17 as absurd both directly because the first usage of verse 17 must be literal (i.e. “the created order”) not figurative. Of course, one supposes that after being hit over the head with that fact, David will agree that the first usage in verse 17 must be literal, not figurative. Then, of course, we will still have the remaining absurdities of the second half of verse 16 conflicting with its first half and the whole of verse 17, and verse 15 agreeing with second half of verse 16, resulting in the schizoid reading of the text caused by the imposition of a meaning on the word from outside the text.
There is, of course, another alternative, and one that is more popular among the exhaustive atonement crowd. That alternative is that “world” designates “each and every person.” The problem, of course, is that a similar clash arises.
Still that clash is less intense than the clash that arises under David’s proposed sense of “Kosmos denotes apostate mankind, all men in unbelief and rebellion.” Thus, the alternative (we’ll call it the Arminian view, though perhaps not all Arminians would agree with it) is more reasonable than David’s proposed sense, though it is still demonstrably wrong. Also, like David’s definition, the sense of “each and every person” is not exegetically derived from the text, but is imposed on the text from outside.
Let’s quickly see how it is wrong, by applying the same flow as before. If “world” figuratively means “each and every person” then “all in belief” (in verse 15 and the second half of verse 16) is a sub-set of “each and every person” (since we know from other Scripture that some will never believe). Thus we have group A (“each and every person”) and some of group A (“all in belief”).
The flow, therefore, becomes:
Some of Group A will be saved; Because God loves Group A, therefore He gave his Son to save some of Group A; For His son was not sent into [the created order, presumably they do not woodenly insist on “each and every person” here] to condemn Group A but to save Group A.
Now, this is still somewhat stilted: there is this odd alternation between the whole group and part of the group, but it is far less stilted than the alternation between a group and its opposite.
However, of course, the harmonious view that unifies the text, is one in which the flow is more like this:
Group A will be saved; Because God loves [figure of speech for Group A], therefore he gave his Son to save Group A; For his Son was not sent into [literal sense of the word previously used figuratively] to condemn [figure of speech for Group A], but to save [figure of speech for Group A], [in which the figure of speech conveys the fact that Group A is a widespread group].
A paraphrase would be:
Believing men (aka the elect) will be saved; For God so loved mankind that God gave his son to save believing men, for God did not send his Son among mankind to condemn mankind, but save mankind.
Or to put it another way, Christ came to save mankind, specifically the elect (those who believe).