RFPA Annual Meeting - "The Importance of Reading Church History"

 

In the Nicene Creed the church confesses that there is only “one holy catholic and apostolic church.” This means that the Christian faith and life of the true church of Jesus Christ as she is manifested today in various denominations and congregations is rooted in the church of the past. Times may have changed but the church today shares with the church of the past the same Lord, the same faith, the same battle, the same hope, and the same purpose—to bring glory to name of our great God. The church must be conscious of her past history in order to be sure that she is continuing on the right path. In other words the study of church history is important.

The study of church history is all the more important because of the constant attack of enemies who seek to knock her off of the “old paths.” Satan desires that the members of the church be ignorant of their history. Lack of interest in church history plays into the evil one’s hands. Church history can then be distorted and used to spread false doctrine and support wicked behavior, as is often attempted today. The study of church history is an important part of the battle of faith she must wage to remain faithful to God.

That the church carries on this battle and remains faithful to God is of course not due at all to her own strength. God’s is the glory for his sovereign work through Jesus Christ of gathering, defending, and preserving his church. Do you confess you are and always will be a living member of the one holy catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ? Then church history is the history of God’s amazing faithfulness to you. So reading church history is important—to know what God has done—to thank God for what he has done.

Meeting location:

Grandville Protestant Reformed Church (Map)
4320 40th Street SW
Grandville, MI 49418

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Kuyper's Common Grace 'Christianizing of Culture'—Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide?

A public lecture, "Kuyper's Common Grace 'Christianizing of Culture'—Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide?" will be given at Sunshine Christian Reformed Church on the East Beltline in Grand Rapids, MI on September 26, 2014 sponsored by Southwest Protestant Reformed Church.

The speaker will be David J. Engelsma, professor of theology in the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. 

The occasion for the lecture is the significant project of the translation into English for the first time of the noted Dutch theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper's, influential work, Common Grace (originally three volumes in Dutch).  The first volume of the translation has just appeared with the title, Common Grace: Noah - Adam, intro.  Richard J. Mouw, tr. Nelson D. Kloosterman and Ed M. van der Maas, ed. Jordan J. Ballot and Stephen J. Grabill (Grand Rapids: CLP Academic, 2013). 

This publishing venture is mainly the cooperative effort of conservative Reformed theologians and the Roman Catholic organization, the Acton Institute.  Involved are also Kuyper College, Calvin College, Dordt College, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Reformed Seminary.

The purpose of the publication in English of Kuyper's work on common grace is the "Christianizing" of the increasingly depraved culture of the United States, as of the West generally. The possibility and power of such a "Christianizing" of the culture are supposed to be a common grace of God, shared not only by conservative Reformed believers and Roman Catholics, but also by decent unbelievers.

The lecture will examine the present project of "Christianizing" the culture by a common grace of God in light of Scripture, the Christian creeds, and the history of Kuyper's common grace project in his own Netherlands.

The occasion of the lecture indicates the interest it ought to have for all Reformed Christians and for members of the Roman Catholic Church. The topic itself—the relation of the Christian to the increasingly corrupt way of life in the United States, not excluding Western Michigan—ought to be of vital concern to every man, woman, and child who confess themselves disciples of Jesus Christ in a wicked world.

 

September 26, 2014 at 7:30  PM

Sunshine Community Church
3300 East Beltline NE
Grand Rapids, MI   49525

Sponsored by:

Southwest Protestant Reformed Church

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Not Letting Abortion Be Minimized

In an editorial in Reformed Perspective Jon Dykstra explains his response to a Canadian Politician’s claim that he is personally pro-life but understands party loyalty to mean that whenever legislation that has to do with abortion is up for consideration he must vote in line with his party which is pro-choice[1].  The politician is Lawrence MacAulay, a member of the Canadian parliament.  Dykstra quotes MacAulay as stating, “I accept and understand the party position regarding the woman’s right to choose.  Despite my personal beliefs.”  MacAulay made another statement that explains what his acceptance and understanding of his party’s “pro-choice position” means.  He said, “I understand that I will have to vote the party position should this issue ever come up in the House of Commons.” 

Why did MacAulay make these public statements? The leader of MacAulay’s political party, Justin Trudeau, has implemented a pro-abortion requirement for the members of parliament who belong to his party.  The party’s leader demands that all members of the party vote pro-choice. 

Dykstra explains what the appropriate Christian response to MacAulay’s statements should be.  The point he makes is that Christians must not respond in a way that does not sufficiently recognize the evil of abortion.  He begins by explaining there are three sides to the abortion debate.  He writes,

Broadly speaking there are two sides of the abortion debate: on the one side, those who know it is a baby recognize that this is a life-and-death situation, on the other, those who don’t understand that abortion ends the life of a precious human [being]. 
But there is a third group.  This group is made up of those who know it is a child, know it is a life-and-death situation, and knowingly advocate for death. 
This is the group MacAulay has just joined.

 

After rightly pointing out that MacAulay’s position amounts to approving knowingly of murder Dykstra says a calm response is “inappropriate.”  And he says, “If our response does not have some heat in it, we’re not doing it right.”  The appropriate response is one that recognizes abortion is horrible sin against God’s law which forbids murder. 

In Canada and the United States abortion has been legal for decades.  Abortion is a common and frequent occurrence in our society.  We have been living with abortion for so long that there is a danger that we become “used to” it.  Besides that those who are in favor of abortion have successfully downplayed its reality so that their position seems civilized and reasonable—they are not supporting murder but the woman’s right to choose.  By successfully downplaying the fact that abortion is murder they have even convinced an influential politician like MacAulay that even though he is personally against abortion it is ok for him to vote for pro-abortion legislation.  The difference between the anti and pro-abortion stances has been downplayed so that it is akin to the difference between a plain hamburger or a cheeseburger.  Supporting pro-abortion legislation as one who is personally anti-abortion is no more serious than a person who is anti-cheese eating a cheeseburger.  MacAulay is probably a sign that this kind of thinking will only increase.    

Dykstra’s article shows that the minimization of abortion’s seriousness is not only a danger, it is happening!  So it is important for Christians to remind ourselves constantly that abortion is murder that it is and continue to give a bold, sharp, and uncompromising witness against its evil.

______________________

[1] The editorial is in the July/August, 2014 Reformed Perspective, “What Truth sounds like: In the abortion debate, calm just isn’t clear, pp. 4-5.

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Our new book has arrived!

The Coming of Zion's Redeemer by Ronald Hanko

Order your copy today or join the Book Club to receive books automatically (3-4 times per year).

 

 

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The Coming of Zion's Redeemer

 
The Coming of Zion's Redeemer is written by returning author Ronald Hanko on the prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
These prophecies, though not always easy to understand, are as much needed today as when they were written. Written for those living at the end of the Old Testament and looking forward to the first coming of Christ, they speak with authority and promise to those who are looking forward to the second coming of Christ and who live near the end of this present age. Very different in style, they have a unity of theme and purpose in Christ, the great king, priest, and prophet of his people.

Coming Soon....!

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What's in the August issue of the Standard Bearer....?


Editorial | Our Church Order, Psalms, and Hymns

Strength of Youth| "To Teach Them to War": Warfare—A Clear Scriptural Imperative (2)

All Around Us | The Movie: Son of God

 

Visit the Standard Bearer Archives to view past issues.

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Standard Bearer July issue coming to your mailbox....

                                 

Cover picture of Delegates to Synod 2014
Left-to-right: Rev. C. Haak, H. Langerak, Rev. D. Kuiper, Rev. W. Langerak, P. VanDerSchaaf, G. VanBaren, J. Regnerus, Prof. B. Gritters,
Rev. M. McGeown, Rev. A. Brummel, J. Decker, L. Uittenboggard, D. Terpstra, Rev. G. Eriks, Rev. C. Spronk, J. Lenting, Rev. R. VanOverloop,
N. Kleyn, A. Bylsma, Prof. R. Cammenga, Rev. K. Koole, Rev. S. Key, Lee Wong Wee, Rev. Laning, Prof. R. Dykstra

Contents:

Meditation | Acknowledged To Be Blessed of Jehovah

Editorial | Synod 2014: The PRC Working Together

Letters | Ken Ham Debate

A Word Fitly Spoken | Amen

Highlights of Synod 2014 Photos

Taking Heed to the Doctrine | Revelation, Inspiration, and Infallibility (9)

Go Ye into All the World | The Effect of “The Declaration” on Missions in This Global City

When Thou Sittest in Thine House | A Mother’s Song Exalting Humility

Reports | Classis East Report

 

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Common Grace Revisited and Trinity and Covenant - Now in ebook!

 

                 

 

Common Grace Revisited

Written as a response to Dr. Richard J. Mouw's apology for common grace, He Shines in All That's Fair: Culture and Common Grace, this book examines the theory of common grace in the light of Scripture and the Reformed confessions, challenges its claim to be part of the body of Reformed truth, and proposes an alternative to common grace.

 

Trinity and Covenant

In the light of profound insights of Augustine, following the lead of certain theologians in the Reformed tradition, and on the basis of the Holy Scripture, this book conceives the life of God in himself as fundamentally family fellowship. The fellowship of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit determines the nature of God’s works in the creating and redeeming humanity. The reader of this book will grow in the understanding of God’s covenant fellowship with his people.

 

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The RCA and CRC Synod’s Working Together

It is the season of Synods and General Assemblies. With this post I call attention to the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America and the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. I write about the assemblies of these two denominations in one post because they not only held their assemblies at the same time in the same city (Pella, Iowa) but also because they met together in a joint-session.

At the joint-session the representatives adopted this resolution: “the principle that guides us, and the intention that motivates us, is to ‘act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel [us] to act separately.’” This resolution was adopted after another important and revealing statement was read at the joint session that explained how much the two denominations are already acting together: “Affirming our relationship of full communion, the exchangeability of ministers of the Word and sacraments between our congregations, and examples of new congregations belonging jointly to both our denominations.” Although the two denominations have not merged yet, they are clearly moving on a path that will likely end with a merger.

This is a movement of great historical significance. The split between the RCA and the CRC was necessary when it occurred in 1857. The issues that divided the two denominations were vitally important. Those who started the CRC rightly found it intolerable that the RCA approved of lodge membership, practiced open communion, and contradicted the Church Order by neglecting the practices of family visitation and regular preaching on the Heidelberg Catechism and by introducing hymns that were not approved by the Church Order. There were some other serious issues that divided the two denominations at the time of the split, but these are sufficient to demonstrate that the church fathers who started the CRC had solid grounds for leaving the RCA.

It is important to understand why the CRC split from the RCA because these reasons are not being discussed in 2014 as the two denominations draw closer to each other. The adopted resolution speaks of “deep differences.” But what are these deep differences? I don’t recall them being mentioned during the joint session that lasted over two hours. Some petty differences were mentioned, such as when a Korean participant explained that he thought the division was mainly due to infighting between Dutch people. If the other delegates disagreed with this analysis they did not voice it, but it was evident that a good number of them found this analysis amusing.

If the split was over trivial matters (such as infighting between stubborn Dutchmen) then it was sinful, which is how the split was characterized during the joint session. Dr. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, representing the RCA, favorably used a quote from Pope Francis (!) to characterize the division between the two denominations as from the devil. In their comments many of the delegates indicated they agreed the division was unfortunate and sinful.

But the division was NOT sinful, at least not on the part of the CRC in 1857. The CRC of 1857 is to be commended for breaking away from an apostatizing church to begin a soundly Reformed denomination.

The movement of the CRC of 2014 to seek unity with the RCA indicates that it has fallen into the errors of the RCA. The deep differences that divided the CRC and RCA in 1857 don’t exist anymore because the CRC has fallen into the same errors as the RCA. The CRC approves of lodge membership, tolerates the practice of open communion, and neglects regular Heidelberg Catechism Preaching and the practice of family visitation.

If the CRC and RCA were seeking to join together on the basis of the Reformed Confessions, and if their joining together indicated a firm conviction of the truths of the Confessions, it would be worth celebrating. But the closer unity between the RCA and CRC in 2014 is the act of two denominations joining hands as they slide down together into further apostasy.

That the RCA has fallen more deeply into error since 1857 is the reason one of its conservative congregations is seeking to leave the denomination. That congregation is the University Reformed Church, located in Lansing, Michigan and pastored by Rev. Kevin De Young. The congregation voted 282-9 to leave the RCA and join the Presbyterian Church in America. Rev. De Young reports that the congregation still belongs to the RCA and the process of leaving could take 6-8 months. The full explanation for why the congregation wants to leave the denomination is not available. But Rev. De Young provides a brief explanation: “From the adoption of the Belhar Confession, to the removal of the conscience clauses related to women’s ordination, to the growing acceptance of homosexual practice in the denomination, we believe the RCA has changed significantly in the last several years. The denomination has moved away from churches like ours. Our request is that we may be able to move too.”

That the CRC is willing to join hands with the RCA indicates then that it has not only fallen into the errors it repudiated in 1857, but it has also walked almost in lockstep with the RCA in adopting or tolerating its more recent errors. Thus, there is unity between the RCA and the CRC. But it is not unity in the historic doctrines and practices of the Protestant Reformation, which means it is not unity in the truth of Scripture, which means it is not true unity in Christ Jesus.

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Hyper-Calvinist! (1)

Editorial: Hyper-Calvinist! (1)

by: Rev. Martyn McGeown

(published in the British Reformed Journal)

Introduction

Recently, brethren have brought to my attention Phillip R. Johnson’s “A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism.”1 They were offended that he called the Protes­tant Reformed Churches (PRC) hyper-Calvinists: “The best known American hyper-Calvinists are the Protestant Reformed Churches.” My initial reaction was to ignore such accusations—I prefer to answer exegetical arguments, and Johnson’s “Primer” does not offer any such arguments. I imagine he does do exegesis, just not in this article. Exegesis is much more than listing texts. Ex­egesis requires that one dig out of the text its meaning and demonstrate that the text proves what one claims. However, since Johnson is influential, and since he directly attacks the PRC, and since younger, inexperienced brethren may not know how to answer him, I offer this response in a series of editorials.

One paragraph of Johnson’s “Primer” which particularly grieved me was his dismissal of Prof. Engelsma’s book, Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel:

The most articulate advocate of the PRC position is David Engelsma, whose book Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel is an interesting but in my view terribly misleading study of the question of whether PRC theology properly qualifies as hyper-Calvinism. Engelsma does some selective quoting and interpretive gymnastics in order to argue that his view is mainstream Reformed theology. But a careful reading of his sources shows that he often quotes out of context, or ends a quote just before a qualifying statement that would totally negate the point he thinks he has made. Still, for those interested in these issues, I recommend his book, with a caution to read it very critically and with careful discernment.

Johnson makes serious charges against Engelsma. However, he makes no attempt to substantiate his allegation of “selective quoting.” With this in mind, I recently re-read Engelsma’s book. I carefully read all the sources in context, and I e-mailed Johnson to furnish me with some examples of his allegation. Thus far, Johnson—a busy man, no doubt—has not responded. Johnson also fails to mention that John Gerstner, who wrote the Foreword to Engelsma’s book, went on record that Engelsma “carefully defines and convincingly avoids ‘hyper-Calvinism’ himself and clears his denomination, the Protestant Reformed Churches, of so teaching.”2

One might wonder, Who is this Phil Johnson, and what qualifies him to write “A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism”? According to his online biography, Johnson is executive director of Grace To You, the ministry of John MacArthur, a Cal­vinistic, Baptist, dispensationalist. One assumes that Johnson is either wholly, or almost, in agreement with MacArthur. If this is true, we have a Baptist dispensationalist writing a primer on hyper-Calvinism!3 Johnson identifies himself thus: “a five-point Calvinist, affirming without reservation the Canons of the Synod of Dordt.” Since he, the BRF and the PRC affirm the Canons—and PRC office-bearers (although probably not Johnson) are bound to them by the “Formula of Subscription”—we should find some common ground.

Before Johnson gives his own definition of hyper-Calvinism—a five-point definition, which, if true, would make the PRC and BRF three-point hyper- Calvinists—he quotes a dictionary. Apparently, whoever writes the theological dictionaries rules the theological landscape! However, theological dictionaries do not determine theology. The creeds do! They—not theological dictionar­ies—were officially adopted by the church. The article is by the Anglican Peter Toon in the New Dictionary of Theology.4 The main features of its definition of hyper-Calvinism are (1) an overemphasis on God’s sovereignty with a minimiz­ing of the moral and spiritual responsibility of sinners, (2) an undermining of the universal duty of sinners to believe in the Lord Jesus and (3) the denial of the word “offer” with respect to the preaching of the gospel. This definition is too broad—it includes real hyper-Calvinism (a denial of duty faith) but it muddies the waters by including some theological positions which are not definitive of hyper-Calvinism (avoidance of the word “offer,” an “overemphasis” on God’s sovereignty, etc.).5 Moreover, Johnson defines “offer” as “the sincere proposal of divine mercy to sinners in general.”

Another aspect of hyper-Calvinism, which Johnson rejects, and of which the PRC and BRF are certainly not guilty, is a morbid introspection in the search to know one’s election. The PRC, and especially Engelsma himself, have been very critical of that error. We encourage and enjoy a healthy assurance of sal­vation (see Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 1, 7; Canons I:12-13, 16; R:7; III/IV:13; V:9-13; R:5-6). Hyper-Calvinist churches and denominations “tend to become either barren and inert, or militant and elitist,” adds Johnson—a charge Arminians have made against Reformed churches for centuries, and a charge of which the PRC, by the grace of God, is innocent. By God’s covenant faithfulness, the PRC are lively and vibrant, lovers of the truth, faithful and generous. Godly homes and marriages with large families, a solid seminary, good Christian schools and zealous mission work testify to this. Calvinism for the PRC and the BRF is not “cold, lifeless dogma,” but truth which lives in our hearts and which is our unspeakable consolation in life and in death (Westminster Confession 3:8; Belgic Confession 13). Thus we abhor Armini­anism and hyper-Calvinism (as well as other heresies repugnant to the truth as summarized in the Reformed confessions).

Johnson then proceeds to a brief analysis of “common but not quite precise definitions” of hyper-Calvinism—a denial that God uses the means of preach­ing, fatalism, supralapsarianism and double predestination. Johnson is correct that not all supralapsarians or double-predestinarians are hyper-Calvinists. Indeed, we add that those who deny reprobation are not true Calvinists, but are hypo-Calvinists who fall short of Calvinism (Canons I:15, 18; R:8).

“Some critics,” adds Johnson, “unthinkingly slap the label ‘hyper’ on any variety of Calvinism that is higher than the view they hold to.” This approach, Johnson warns, “lacks integrity and only serves to confuse people.” Did Johnson examine himself before he wrote those words, and before he called the PRC the “best known American hyper-Calvinists”?

Johnson’s Definition

Johnson’s proposed definition of hyper-Calvinism has five parts:

A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either

#1 Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear OR

#2 Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner OR

#3 Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal) OR

#4 Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace” OR

#5 Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect

Denial #1 is ambiguous—what does “applies to all who hear” mean? Only #2 is genuine, historic hyper-Calvinism. Only #2 is condemned by the confessions. Denials #3-5 are not hyper-Calvinism. Johnson may not like or agree with denials #3-5, but that does not give him the right to label them as “hyper-Calvinism.” Is Johnson not, to use his own words, “slapping the label ‘hyper’ on any variety of Calvinism that is higher than the view he holds to”?

We propose to examine the issues of the gospel offer (#3), the gospel call (#1-2) and common grace (#4-5) to see where this charge of hyper-Calvinism may legitimately be laid. This will require several editorials in the next few issues.

The Gospel Offer or Serious Call?

In order to determine whether a denial of the gospel offer is hyper-Calvinism (#3), we look at the Canons of Dordt, which are the official, creedal definition of Calvinism. In 1924, when the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) adopted the Three Points of Common Grace, it appealed to Canons III/IV:8. We quote from Articles 8-10:

Article 8: As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God hath most earnestly and truly shown in His Word what is pleasing to Him, namely, that those who are called should come to Him. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life and rest to as many as shall come to Him and believe on Him.

Article 9: It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ of­fered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the Word refuse to come and be converted...

Article 10: But that others who are called by the gospel obey the call and are converted is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will...

These articles were written in response to the Remonstrants or the Armin­ians, who submitted their “Opinions” to the Synod. The issue here is God’s seriousness—if the gospel only comes to some, and if God grants faith to only some who hear the gospel, is God really serious in the call of the gospel through the preaching? The Arminians contended that, if God did not intend to give salvation to all, and if Christ did not purchase salvation for all, and if sinners do not have the ability to choose salvation, then God must be hypocritical, insincere and unserious in the preaching, by promising something He does not have and which He does not intend to give.

The “Opinions of the Remonstrants” are very enlightening about what the Arminians understood by the offer of the gospel:

Whomever God calls to salvation, He calls seriously, that is, with a sincere and completely unhypocritical intention and will to save; nor do we assent to the opinions of those who hold that God calls certain ones externally whom He does not will to call internally, that is, as truly converted, even before the grace of calling has been rejected.

There is not in God a secret will which so contradicts the will of the same revealed in the Word that according to it (that is, the secret will) He does not will the conversion and salvation of the greatest part of those whom He seriously calls and invites by the Word of the Gospel and by His revealed will; and we do not here, as some say, acknowledge in God a holy simulation, or a double person.6

Notice that it is the Remonstrants (Arminians)—and not the Calvinists at Dordt—who teach that God has a “sincere and completely unhypocritical intention and will to save” all who hear the gospel. Arminians believe that God desires the salvation of all men without exception. Johnson would have us believe that only hyper-Calvinists deny God’s desire to save all men.

That background greatly clarifies the meaning of the Canons. The key is the Latin word serio. Three times the word serio is used in Canons III/IV:8, translated by various adverbs in our official English version: “unfeignedly [serio] called,” “earnestly [serio] shown” and “seriously [serio] promises.”

What serio does not mean is what the Arminians taught—“whomever God calls to salvation, He calls seriously, that is, with a sincere and completely unhypocritical intention and will to save.” Modern compromised Calvinists, however, such as Johnson himself, do define the gospel call (or offer) that way, as God’s desire to save all or, in Johnson’s words, “the sincere proposal of divine mercy to sinners in general.” Are we to imagine God as a young, lovesick man, earnestly proposing marriage to a beautiful young lady, a proposal rejected by the majority of sinners who hear it as a “sincere proposal of divine mercy”? A disappointed suitor indeed! How could Christ propose to any sinners who are not part of His divinely ordained bride? And how does that differ from the typical Arminian message of Jesus knocking on the sinner’s heart?

About serio (unfeignedly, earnestly and seriously) we can make several observations. First, God is pleased with faith and repentance (“that those who are called should come to Him,” Canons III/IV:8). The good pleasure here is not God’s eternal decree, that which He is pleased to ordain. God is not pleased to ordain that all should repent and believe, for He has not decreed to give all men faith (Eph. 1:11; 2:8; Phil. 1:29). Rather, God’s good pleasure is that which is pleasing in His sight, or that in which He delights, or it is that which He approves in His creatures, and therefore that which He commands in His creatures (such as obedience to the law, faith and repentance). Second, God is serious, in earnest, about this. God is not indifferent to sin and unbelief. God does not say that He does not care whether people believe or not. Will God send preachers but remain indifferent as to whether sinners believe in Jesus? Will God remain unconcerned if sinners despise His Son in unbelief? Of course not! God is so serious about this that He threatens eternal damnation upon those who refuse to believe and to repent!

But the word serio certainly does not mean that God earnestly desires the salvation of all hearers. It cannot mean that, because God did not elect all to salvation (in fact, He reprobated many of those who in time hear the gospel); Christ did not die for all men (in fact, God has nothing to offer the reprobate who hear the gospel); and the Holy Spirit does not work graciously in the hearts of all hearers to regenerate them and work faith in them (in fact, the Spirit hardens many who hear the gospel).7 Since the Triune God does nothing for the salvation of the reprobate—He neither elects, nor redeems, nor regener­ates them—how could He, then, in the preaching of the gospel desire (even seriously, ardently and passionately desire) the salvation of the same reprobate?

Such is the confusion of the modern “Calvinist.” Such was not the confusion of Dordt, and a rejection of that confusion does not make one a hyper-Calvinist, Johnson’s “Primer” notwithstanding.

to be continued (DV)

 

Footnotes:

1 Phil Johnson, “A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism” (www.spurgeon.org/~phil//articles/hypercal. htm). As an illustration of how accessible this article is, google “hyper-Calvinism.”

2 John H. Gerstner in David J. Engelsma, Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel (Grandville, MI: RFPA, repr. 1993), p. vii.

3 Phil Johnson, “Who is Phillip R. Johnson?” (www.spurgeon.org/~phil/bio.htm).

4 Peter Toon, “Hyper-Calvinism,” in Sinclair B. Ferguson and David F. Wright (eds.), New Dictionary of Theology (Leicester: IVP, 1988), pp. 324-325. However, Toon is a hypo-Calvinist (see his Born Again: A Biblical and Theological Study of Regeneration [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1987]) and even in his dictionary article he speaks of “the universal duty of sinners to believe savingly in the Lord Jesus with the assurance that Christ actually died for them” (p. 324), contrary to the truth of particular atonement! The same dictionary notes that Au­gustine (p. 636) and Gottschalk (p. 259) denied that God desires to save the reprobate, yet they are not called hyper-Calvinists! Not only did the New Dictionary of Theology publish a hypo-Calvinist author and article defining hyper-Calvinism, but it has N. T. Wright promot ing New Perspective on Paul ideas in his treatments of “Justification” (pp. 359-361) and “Righteousness” (pp. 590-592), over against Reformed teaching on this article of a standing or falling church.

5 We need not fear an over-emphasis on God’s sovereignty. Writes Engelsma, “Had Toon charged Hoeksema with an exclusive emphasis on the sovereignty of God, so that he denied or minimized the responsibility of man, we would have to take Toon’s charge seriously. Since the charge is that of ‘excessive’ emphasis, we can ignore it. For it is impossible to emphasize the sovereignty of God excessively, especially as regards the sovereignty of grace. Stand before the incarnation, the cross, and the wonder of regeneration, and try to de-emphasize sovereign grace. The ‘charge’ that a theologian excessively emphasizes sovereign grace is in fact the highest praise that one can give that theologian, praise that identifies him as a faithful servant of the gospel of the grace of God in Christ Jesus … Not in an emphasis on God’s sovereignty but in a denial of man’s responsibility must the characteristic flaw of hyper-Calvinism be located” (Hyper-Calvinism, p. 200).

6 Peter Y. De Jong (ed.), Crisis in the Reformed Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformed Fel­lowship Inc., 1968), pp. 226-227; italics mine.

7 John Piper, another modern “Calvinist,” understands this, which is why he argues that Christ died for all men in some sense, in order to make it possible for God to make a bona fide “offer” of salvation to all men, a scheme which has no basis in Scripture and which certainly falls foul of the Canons of Dordt (especially II:8-9; R:2-4).

 

 

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