The Well-Meant Offer: Its Logical Consistency

Having framed the question of and summarized the objections to the “well-meant offer” of the gospel, we’re prepared to defend the doctrine. And our first argument pertains to the doctrine’s logical consistency. Claiming that God desires the salvation of a non-elect sinner and that it’s also the case that God doesn’t desire the salvation of a non-elect sinner sounds like a contradiction. The same would be true of the following juxtaposed remarks: “I like chocolate ice-cream,” and, “I don’t like chocolate ice-cream.” Illogical! Right? Not necessarily. Let me explain.

Continue reading

Look and Live! John 3:16 as a Universal Gospel Invitation

Some may not think I’m a Calvinist when it comes to John 3:16. Actually, I’m a John Calvinist when I interpret this verse (double entendre intended). I don’t think the verse (and its larger context) is simply designed to teach people biblical doctrines or facts, such as “God loves sinners” or “believers go to heaven.” It has a larger aim. Namely, God through the apostle John wants to solicit a faith-response on the part of the reader. Continue reading

Stairway from Heaven: Babel, Bethel, and Jesus Christ

At Babel sinful humans build a tower to reach God. At Bethel God places a stairway earthward to reach men. At Babel humans attempt to make a name for themselves. At Bethel God chooses to make the name of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob great. At Babel God scatters humans to prevent them from thwarting his plan of redemption. At Bethel God promises to scatter Jacob’s offspring to ensure the fulfillment of his salvific agenda. In a word, Bethel teaches us that true religion does not come from human effort but from a gracious act of divine condescension.1 Continue reading

The Well-Meant Offer: Listening to the Detractors

In the 1920s, a schism arose in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) over the doctrine of common grace and the free or (more precisely) well-meant offer of the gospel. Those who rejected common grace and the well-meant offer left the CRC to found the Protestant Reformed Church (PRC). Two decades later, a similar controversy arose within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). A general assembly commissioned a committee to study and give a report on the question of whether God desires the salvation all men indiscriminately (whether elect or non-elect). The result was a “majority report,” which affirmed the well-meant offer, and a “minority report,” which denied it. Continue reading

The Well-Meant Offer: Defining the Debate

The great English preacher C. H. Spurgeon was known for his deep passion for the lost. He is reputed to have once prayed, “Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect— and then elect some more.”1 If Spurgeon really prayed that prayer, we can be sure he was employing a little rhetorical “hyperbole.” In reality, Spurgeon didn’t believe any but those elect from the foundation of the world would be saved. Nevertheless, his burden for lost souls was so strong that he longed for God to save even those that appeared to be reprobate. Continue reading

The Theological Method of Thomas Aquinas: A Reformed Critique

In the lectures below, Dr. K. Scott Oliphint examines the theological prolegomena of Thomas Aquinas, one of the foremost scholastic theologians of the medieval church. The six-part series includes an analysis and critique of Aquinas’s foundation of knowledge (principium cognoscendi) and foundation of being (principium essendi). Oliphint contrasts Thomism’s tendency to overestimate the ability of natural reason with the Protestant Reformers’ insistence that human reason, like the will and affections, has been impaired by the fall. Moreover, he notes Aquinas’s attempt to construct Christian theology on the basis of a modified version of Aristotle’s “substance metaphysic” rather than on the foundation of the Triune God’s self-revelation in Scripture. Continue reading

Fullness of Joy: The OT and the Afterlife

For centuries dying Christians have drawn comfort and hope from Old Testament passages like David’s Twenty-Third Psalm. Many scholars today, however, are charging earlier generations with reading the teaching of the New Testament back into the Old. They concede the New Testament has much to say about a resurrection, a final judgment, and eternal life. But modern scholars argue that a correct reading of the Old Testament provides little if any hope for a blissful life beyond the grave. The Old Testament believer simply lived for this world. Continue reading

What Child Is This? The Virgin Birth

In light of the approach of Christmas—a time when Christians celebrate the incarnation of Christ—I’d like to highlight the reality and importance of the virgin birth, or more properly, the virgin conception of Jesus Christ. Until recently, the virgin birth has been acknowledged as an important doctrine of the Christian faith. The early church fathers, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene and Chalcedon Creeds, the Lutheran Augsburg Confession, the Reformed Belgic Confession, the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, and the Westminster Confession of Faith all bear witness to the church’s faith in the virgin birth. Continue reading

The Common Sense of Thanksgiving

By the “common sense” of Thanksgiving, I’m not referring to the ability to make sound judgments, or to practical savvy upstairs, or to practical suggestions for cooking a turkey or decorating for the Thanksgiving holiday. Rather, I am referring to an intuitive awareness or an instinctive knowledge that is common to all men. Therefore, when I speak of “the common sense of thanksgiving,” I am referring to that intuitive sense possessed by all men of the ethical propriety of giving thanks. All men in their heart-of-hearts instinctively recognize the appropriateness of expressing gratitude to another for benefits received. Continue reading

Something Close to Biblicism

John Frame is one of my favorite theologians. One of the reasons I like Frame’s theological writings is the conspicuous commitment to the supremacy of Scripture (sola Scriptura) that underlies them all. Frame not only affirms sola Scriptura as one among many important doctrines. He believes the doctrine itself should control the way we think about and apply theology. Continue reading