When our friend Steve writes:

Taking the blog post and video together, we can say that White believes the following:

* God loves all men, though God’s love is not monolithic
* God’s will (his revealed will) is that all men obey his commands to repent and believe the gospel
* In that context (revealed will and command) we can say that God desires the salvation of all men

Having made those statements, much of what I (and others) have written in criticism of White as a hyper-Calvinist is no longer cogent. In my view, White has effectively exonerated himself from the charge.

I feel quite certain that White will take the position that this is nothing new for him — this has been his position all along. That may be the case, but this is new as far as his statements on the record. I know of no other place in White’s work where he has made these kinds of statements. I haven’t read all of his work, and I freely admit that he may have held this position all along while I suffered under a cloud of ignorance. But I doubt it. Citations anyone?

Citation 1

In response to the question quoted above, who denied God’s omnibenevolence? Evidently, our writer assumes omnibenevolence must mean unibenevolence: that is, that if God is all-loving, then He will not possess the capacity His creatures rightly possess: discrimination in the matter of love. We are not only not unibenevolent, as image bearers of God we, like Him, are able to possess, and express, different kinds of love. I do not love my cat as I love my children (and I think anyone who does is simply wacked). I have and properly express all different kinds of “love,” from loving my wireless laser mouse to loving my Tablet PC to loving my Felt F65 road bike—but none of those kinds of love come close to my love for God’s truth, God’s people, my family, my friends. If faced with a choice, I am going to choose based upon discrimination in my love. I am going to save the mother of my children before I save a stranger. I am called to love my wife as Christ loved the church. And my ability to do this is clearly reflected in God’s own actions. The love He showed Israel he did not show the Canaanites, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, or the Babylonians. This is a simple biblical fact. All the “God loves you!” smiley face t-shirts do not change revelational reality.
Hence, I reject the assertion that omnibenevolence equals unibenevolence, i.e., having one equal, undifferentiated, indiscriminate warm fuzzy. There is no biblical basis for thinking otherwise.
Now, our writer expresses a very common human failing in these words: “When you claim that God only wants some people to be saved, you are really claiming that God is only partially loving.” Notice the unstated assumption: love = extension of redemptive grace. What is the only logical conclusion to be derived from such thinking? Either 1) God’s love demands God’s failure; i.e., God will be unhappy and unfulfilled throughout eternity because He tried, but failed, to save those He loved (more than one theologian has held this position); or, 2) universalism. God will conquer all in the end, all will be saved. But in neither case can God show redemptive, saving love to undeserving sinners while, at the same time, expressing His just wrath and anger against the rest. By insisting upon this concept, our writer robs God of His freedom, let alone His ability to freely chose to love redemptively. The false dilemma is clearly seen: by denying the difference between the love God shows to all of creation in providence in the merciful suspension of His immediate and just judgment upon all sinners, and the special redemptive love He freely bestows on vessels of mercy, our writer creates a false unibenevolence and on that basis says God is only “partially loving.” That makes as much sense as noting that I love my wife in a way I do not love a woman in Bosnia and saying I am “partially loving” as a result. I am not supposed to love the woman in Bosnia in that way, and God is under no compulsion whatsoever to love redemptively (which involves the extension of mercy and grace). To say otherwise is to say that redemption can be demanded of God, that grace is not free, but can be demanded at His hand. That is, in essence, the sum of this kind of objection.
And so we see that the rest of the objection bears no weight and has no merit for it is based upon a misuse of terms.

Next, it is asserted that the “any” and “all” are “called to repent.” Actually, the text says that God wills (11) for the “all” to come to repentance, and of course, this is quite true. And since God grants repentance (2 Tim. 2:24-25), God’s purpose will be accomplished, and is accomplished in the elect. They all, as a group, do repent. Why anyone would wish to say “It is God’s will that every single individual repent, but, alas, His will is constantly thwarted and refuted by the will of the creature” is hard to say.” CBF misses the point when it asserts that this cannot be the “beloved” because they have already repented. The point of the passage is that God will bring the elect to repentance throughout the time period prior to the parousia, the coming of Christ. At the point of Peter’s writing, the repentance of every single individual reading this book was yet future.

Next Dr. Geisler confuses the prescriptive will of God found in His law, which commands all men everywhere to repent, with the gift of repentance given to the elect in regeneration. It does not follow that if it is God’s will to bring the elect to repentance that the law does not command repentance of ev-eryone. This is a common error in Arminian argumentation.

~ The Potter’s Freedom, pages 149,150

The reference for (11) is as follows – “We do not here refer to the revealed will of God found in His law which commands all men everywhere to repent: we speak of His saving will that all the elct come to repentance, and His ability to perform that will.”

The first problem is that you are attempting to make someone’s use of your terminology to describe something (which is more precisely defined by the terminology he uses) the sine non qua of orthodoxy. He made it plain, by using your terminology to describe what it is he means by what he does say. In Dr. White’s terminology, the prescriptive will of God – His revealed will – is a command to obey the gospel. To repent and believe. When we offer the gospel, there is no distinction, and there can be no distinction, because God uses us as the means by which the gospel is proclaimed, offered, and commanded to all men. As long as I’ve been listening to, watching, and reading Dr. White, this has been what he says. In that sense God wills – commands – all men to repent, and believe – and thereby be saved. Not all men do so – for repentance and faith are both gifts of God.

The second problem is that you simply don’t know these men, and haven’t read enough of their work to be able to recognize what you seem to think they haven’t spoken about. I’m glad you recognize the possibility of your ignorance, but that doesn’t jive with your stubborn insistence upon their guiltiness, and the fact that even though you’ve been repudiated in your objections, you still “worry”. That, coupled with your insistence that somehow Phil has “gutted” his primer by very properly distinguishing between high and hyper calvinism (which he does in the primer itself!), he has rendered it practically useless. Sir, I’m sorry, but simply assuming your consequent just doesn’t work as an argument. If all of the people in question differ, most emphatically, with Byrne et al’s insistence that high calvinism they dislike = hyper-calvinism, that does not necessitate that the Primer is now gutted”to the point of uselessness.” Thsi is not a new definition, my friend. This is a historical definition, and Johnson explicitly warns about those who would attempt to “unthinkingly slap the label “hyper” on any variety of Calvinism that is higher than the view they hold to.” I second that warning, and really wish that folks would just stop and think about what they write.

Further, he says the following:

Another important consequence is that Phil Johnson has gutted his hyper-Calvinism primer to the point of uselessness. Johnson (quite unnecessarily as it turned out) said in defense of White that Dr. Allen had misinterpreted his Primer. Now that is not exactly what Johnson said, but that is the way his statements are being interpreted (by both White and Tom Ascol, and presumably many others).

Johnson, who is normally careful with his words, began muddying the waters — for the sake of his friend White — by introducing qualifications about optative expressions, and alleging his personal knowledge of White’s orthodoxy, and asserting the apparent misunderstanding of both by Dr. Allen. I deny that Allen misunderstood Phil’s Primer … he clearly understood it all too well. And White’s statements up until recently put him solidly in the hyper-Calvinist camp, whatever Phil may say about “misunderstanding his primer.”

As a consequence of Johnson’s defense of White, other people have begun seriously to misunderstand it, and now Tom Ascol, for example, is saying that Steve Camp is not a hyper-Calvinist because Allen misunderstands Johnson’s primer. Oh really!? Johnson would never (one hopes) say such a thing, but his sloppiness in recent weeks has given others a good deal of room to make these kinds of statements. The usefulness of his Primer as a benchmark has been eviscerated. And given Phil’s qualifications on “optative” language, his primer as a teaching tool has been eviscerated as well. I would never, given his recent qualifying statements about optative expressions, point anyone to that Primer. I will point people to Tony Byrne for real instruction on the point from this time forward. (Byrne will point us to Curt Daniel and Iain Murray … who presumably won’t be issuing “clarifications” that arise out of personal motives and result in more confusion.)

Now, as I read statements such as this, it reminds me of why the internet is not always a great tool for precise communication – especially when folks consider themselves experts on people whom they do not sufficiently understand, and have not read enough of.

To Steve’s first accusation concerning of Johnson, I can only point out that this isn’t his first use of “optative”, and not in this context, either.

What God has decreed isn’t a valid gauge for measuring what He “desires.”

Optative expressions (language describing a wish or a desire) pose a whole set of problems when applied to God. (That’s true for Arminians and Calvinists alike. The only system I know of that avoids this problem is Open Theism’s notion of a non-sovereign god for whom the future remains an unsettled mystery.)

However (granting an anthropopathic use of the expression “desire”), I think it’s a serious mistake to assume that God’s decrees and His “desires” are equipollent.

Now, isn’t this almost the exact same usage? Same context? Guess what? Dr. White is nowhere to be found.

As to Steve’s second accusation, take a look at this:

Nevertheless, Dr. Allen’s “defense” demonstrates conclusively that he doesn’t understand my definition of hyper-Calvinism. He relentlessly ascribes to me a position I have frequently refuted.

Now, isn’t that exactly what he said?

Now, there’s your citations. As I’ve said in my last two posts, the problem is not Dr. White’s, Dr. Ascol’s, or Phil Johnson’s understanding of hyper-calvinism, or inconsistency. It is the lack of understanding on the part of those who are quite evidently new to the subject, in the case of Dr. Allen, or yourself – or unbalanced in their approach, as are Tony Byrne and David Ponter. When you don’t know what you are talking about, or you have a long history of imbalance, (as well as the redefinition of terms, as do Byrne and Ponter), it becomes quite clear that the issue is not with those accused – who have a long history of opposing hyper-calvinism, in it’s various forms. The problem lies with those who haven’t a historical, balanced view of hyper-calvinism, and are, frankly, late-comers and/or axe-grinders.

As Dr. Ascol has said, with all due respect; “When I read Dr. Allen’s words that ‘it is time for Calvinists within the convention to come out and say some strong words about hyper-Calvinism’ I want to laugh and say, ‘Welcome to the party, I am sorry it took you so long to get here.'”