Monday, April 14, 2008

Another Quasi-Amyraldian Attack on Dr. White

Tony Byrne (aka Ynottony) comrade-in-arms of Trey Austin and another of David Ponter's band of Quasi-Amyraldians (who host the misleading "Calvin and Calvinism" website), has launched a fresh attack on Dr. White's radio debate with Steve Gregg. (link to attack piece) (Update: To be clear [and particularly since Carrie Hunter - one of David's friends - has complained], when I say "attack" I do not mean that Tony calls Dr. White a big meanie. What I mean is that Tony (ironically) insinuates that Dr. White doesn't understand the theological issues involved.)

The piece handles a complex (in terms of its grammar - not logically complex) question asked during a cross-examination portion of the debate, and appears to attempt to suggest the same thing that Trey Austin tried to suggest, namely that Dr. White doesn't know the Reformed position.

This, of course, is absurd. Dr. White is well aware of the two wills distinction mentioned by Tony, and would indeed fully endorse it. What Dr. White would not do, however, is to make a false distinction between the non-elect who do not hear the gospel and the non-elect who do hear the gospel.

I'm not sure whether Tony misses this issue, or just doesn't understand it. There is no difference with respect to the revealed will of God (or the secret will of God) between the non-elect who hear and do not hear the gospel. God's revealed will is the same for both, and his secret will is the same for both. What is different is the culpability of the group that hear the gospel and reject it.

Tony goes so far as to accuse Dr. White of denying that God's revealed will is that all men repent and believe, as though Dr. White would reject the fact that the gospel is revealed to be a command to be obeyed.

From where does Tony get these ridiculous ideas, it's hard to say with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, the underlying root is clear. Tony has a mistaken idea that for the call to repent and believe to be universal and "well meant" it must be that (a) Christ died for the non-elect, and (b) God wants to save the non-elect. Of course, Dr. White would reject (a) as contrary to Scripture, and - if he would not reject (b) outright - would qualify it in ways that Tony could not accept.

After all, as Tony inconsistently is forced to admit, Christ died with the intent that his death be efficacious only for the elect. Once one recognizes that fact, the warm fuzzies generated by repeatedly using the term "well meant" go away. Unless Tony his slipped from Amyraldianism (what Tony likes to call, "moderate Calvinism") into Arminianism or worse, his theology cannot really accommodate a gospel offer that is any more well-meaning than that of the Reformed position.

As Hoeksamaa explains, the gospel call is universal but conditional. It is, in a sense, an offer of salvation, but there is an explicit condition: a condition that none of the non-elect ever fulfill. It's sincerity is not to be judged by a criterion of whether the non-elect can fulfill it, or whether hypothetical provision has been made in case the non-elect were to fulfill it, but rather by the certainty of salvation for those who do fulfill it.

Those who repent of their sins, and turn in faith to Christ alone for salvation will be saved. Those who do not, will be damned forever. It's not just an offer, it's an offer you cannot refuse. Once you realize that it is the truth, once you appreciate the sinfulness of your sin and the holiness of the God who stands in judgment over you, you'd have to be absolutely out of your mind to refuse to repent and trust in Christ. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

But the non-elect (in fact, even the elect, prior to regeneration - and thus all the unregenerate men) have a moral inability to come to Christ, because they love darkness better than light. They hate God and will not heed the warnings that God's messengers give them. The command is there, Repent and Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ but to them it is as though someone were mocking. It is truly a sad thing to watch the wicked perishing, because we have empathy for our fellow men. Let us, therefore, bear testimony to the truth of God's word and seek to persuade those around us to obey the Gospel command, for if they do, they will be saved.

Trust in Him!



Turretinfan said...

Carrie Hunter,

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you reading my post, even though you ultimately disagreed with it. Despite your expression of disagreement, I still have the same impression of the post that I did before.

Don't get me wrong, I do distinguish between a critique and an attack. Tony may have called his piece a critique, but the gist of the critique is "Dr. White gave Steve Gregg the wrong idea about Calvinism," with more-or-less-well-veiled hints that Dr. White is unaware of the two-wills issue, which is basically the same thing that Trey said (in a less complicated way) a day or two ago.

Oh, it's certinaly not as blunt as Trey's comments, but it is more of the same thing.


GeneMBridges said...

A fresh critique of Dr. White, and nothing but complaints seem to fly when we point out that they do NOTHING, NOT ONE THING on their blogs to interact with the lost.

Savor the irony.

Turretinfan said...

With Seth being an exception - I think his blog has addressed other issues from time to time.

GeneMBridges said...

Yes, Seth is an exception and is to be commended.

You wrote:

Tony has a mistaken idea that for the call to repent and believe to be universal and "well meant" it must be that (a) Christ died for the non-elect, and (b) God wants to save the non-elect.

And anybody will get quoted in support. I see his latest target is James Boyce - but Boyce studied under Hodge. It's quite a stretch to infer that Boyce's definition of the "well meant offer" is substantially different from Hodge's, if it is necessary for the atonement to underwrite the offer in terms that Tony affirms.

If the extent of the atonement does not have to underwrite the "free offer," viz. via alleged "extrinsic benefits" in order for the offer to be "well meant," then so much for the objection that our view is the one that leads to a denial of the "well meant offer."

Carrie said...


Thank you for replying but where is my comment?



Turretinfan said...


You know, it'd be a lovely surprise to wake up one morning and see a post on "CalvinAndCalvinism" or "TheologicalMeditations" that said "We just meant what Hodge meant, all along. We never meant to confuse 'God desires that men obey the command to repent and believe' with 'God desires to save men.' We acknowledge that election defines the boundary of redemption."

Somehow I doubt it will happen.


Anonymous said...

If you are truly a Turretin fan then presumably you are eager for James White to embrace Calvinism fully and obediently baptize the children of believers.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Anonymous,

Usually "Calvinism" is used in reference to soteriology.

To answer your question, yes - I'd love to see Dr. White be persauded of paedobaptism, and of many other things that he may not yet be persuaded of that Calvin also taught, provided that Scripture teaches it.


Turretinfan said...


I didn't publish your comment. I was hoping to give you a chance to reconsider the judgments expressed in it.

I certainly would agree with your line, "An exchange of ideas about the things of God is healthy and encouraged in Scripture."

You also had requested, "I do hope you consider what I am saying as a critique and not an attack," with which I heartily agree, and I do appreciate your comments, even though I don't agree with all of them.