Those ‘Theological Swearwords’ ‘Antinomianism and Hyper-Calvinism’ Again

     Some years ago in the Evangelical Times, one of their directors, John Legg, referred to the terms ‘Antinomianism and Hyper-Calvinism’ as ‘theological swearwords’ and used them indiscriminately with his co-director Errol Hulse to describe my practice of preaching the whole of the gospel to the whole man wherever I was placed by God to do so. This irresistible calling led to my marching 35 kilometers a day through swampy marshland and glacier-covered territory with a map and compass to help me find the way and a fishing rod, snares and a small casting-net in order so I could feed myself so I could take the gospel to nomad Lapps and to my work on and for the Native Americans years later. I have written of the work of the Gospel in Lapland in my ‘Tales from Lapland’ and of the history of the planting of the Gospel amongst the American Indians in my book ‘Isaac McCoy: Apostle of the Western Trail’. I have not written about my adventures for the Lord in Germany where I have been serving Him since 1971. My call to spread the Gospel in Germany was sealed and blessed by sinners being converted during my first two sermons in two different churches, one in Bochum and the other in Mülheim. My teaching Scripture in a Oberhausen Grammar School quickly led eleven pupils to study for the ministry and missionary service confessing they had received their call during my lessons. Why do I say this as it is obvious that a Christian’s life belongs to God in choosing out a people for Himself through gospel ministries and evangelising. This is a Christian’s normal experience.

     I write these words as the Banner of Truth Magazine published in February 2005 a most negative comment on the fruitful harvest work God enabled me to do in His vineyard with all praise to His holy deeds! These defamatory remarks occurred in an editorial review of David Gay’s book The Gospel Offer is Free allegedly revealing the Hyper-Calvinism behind my presumed lack of evangelistic fervor. Taking Gay’s slander for gospel Walter Chantry wrote:

‘The author is right to be concerned that preachers should ‘confront their hearers with the immediate responsibility of trusting Christ, directly encouraging then to trust him, and appealing to them to do so now!’

     I felt this to be a strange comment coming from the very magazine which had encouraged me to write on gospel matters and had first launched me into print with great praise from Iain Murray, his wife, Maurice Roberts, John Marshall and especially Sydney Houghton the BOT editor. Indeed, dear Mr Houghton who became my major mentor and his wife Elsie whom had been my ‘House Mother’ at the London Bibler College encouraged me to go to print with my experiences of working for Christ. When I stayed with them, I received the same bed in which Iain Murray slept on his many visits and Elsie spoke of us both as their special protégés. Three days before his death, Mr Houghten, had parceled my first book manuscript which he had kindly corrected and attached to it a note saying the work must be printed and would serve as a doctoral thesis. I presume Elsie took the parcel to the post-office as her dear husband was obviously dying at the time and was a mere skeleton because he could not eat. I have preserved the stamped and addressed wrapping paper with Mr Houghton’s hand-writing on it as also letters from him, Sidney Norton and Iain Murray from this early period in the history of the BOT before their theological U-turn. I have a small collection of poetry entrusted to me by Messers Houghton and Norton dealing with their conversions and trust in the Lord.

     Mr Houghton and especially Elsie warned me that the tide of my open reception at the Banner was ebbing and my last postcard from Elsie told me that she was very depressed at what was happening but she trusted that the Lord would soon bring news to cheer her up. When Mr. Houghton died, I wrote to Iain urging him to write a biography and offered him my material including an account of Mr. Houghton’s conversion in his own hand-writing. Iain replied that no biography was planned and that my biographical material was not needed. I would have thought Iain would have felt blessed to accept and read what his mentor and patient guide through many turbulent years had to say. Sadly, the pioneering work of Sydney Houghton has never been truly documented by the BOT. The little booklet that did eventually come out was merely a trimmed-up skeleton of his Christian witness.

     I have, however, kept many precious memories penned to me by Iain from a time when all was peace between us, especially throughout his years in Australia, but sadly, not only times change!

     To return to Gay’s slanderous work which would not have withstood one day in a court of justice, never mind before God’s Tribunal. Typical of Gay’s confidence in his own judgement is that he tells his readers in his introduction that they should not read my works to find out what I believe but believe his ridiculous version of what he imagines I preach and teach.

     Most of Gay’s list of what he imagined I never do, such as preach repentance and faith, has been my God-given task since I met Jesus in the winter of 1956-7 in a wood-cutter’s cabin in the wilds of Närke where the temperature was minus 35 degrees centigrade but my heart was boiling over with the heat of great joy. Thus I was astonished at the cheek of a man who felt it his divine calling to write a whole book and a large part of another to denounce a brother whom he obviously had never heard preach or teach, besides showing an absolute ignorance as to what I had written up to then. Worse still, Gay shared his speculations as to why he could not accept my Christian witness with similar criticisms of Alan Clifford with whom I share the Lord but absolutely nothing of Clifford’s theology which, I believe, comes nearer that of Gay’s rather than mine.

     On 21st March, 2005 the Banner Boys struck again. Maurice Roberts, a man who had once complemented me on my theology and Christian witness which I have since never changed, leaning heavily on Gay, was now not ashamed to label those who go from door to door and through train corridors handing out tracts to the lost and preaching in the highways and byways as ‘Hyper-Calvinists’. After announcing his title at a Tain synodal conference as ‘The Free Offer of the Gospel’, Roberts then left this enticing subject to complain of the Gospel Standard, Reformed Puritans, Peter Meney and myself, forcing us all into a category he never really defined which he called ‘Hyper-Calvinism’. Whatever his gospel was, which he seemed only to view via the via negationis, negating God in his immutability, Roberts made sure it was kept secret as his title was merely a spring-board platform from which he could shout out his ‘theological swearwords’. Thus sadly, Roberts in his crusading zeal to fight windmills never explained what was free and what was offered in the gospel. His mind was on denunciation not proclamation. Roberts then had this talk placed on his web-page and a similar article was published in the denominational paper he ran where Peter and I were further accused of Hyper-Calvinism.

     Roberts’ entire argument is verbatim as follows, listing what he believes such as Peter Meney and George Ella teach:

‘First objection: ‘Faith is not the sinner’s duty.’

     This view has been advanced by those who argue that the sinner cannot be required to believe because he suffers from the bondage of his will. Ability, it is argued, limits obligation. The sinner cannot come to Christ and therefore faith is not a duty. If a sinner cannot believe, how can the preacher require him to believe? This is the argument. It is based on man’s inability.

     It is common for those who deny the ‘Free Offer’ for this reason to affirm that in scripture there is no such thing required of sinners as ‘duty-faith’. Sinners are ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ and so they have no ability to believe. If they have no ability to believe then they may not be exhorted by the preacher to believe.

     This is the position taken by the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists, whose origins are in eighteenth century England. Their influential writers include John Gill, the Commentator; William Huntington, SS; William Gadsby of Manchester, the Hymn-writer; J.C. Philpot. It has its advocates today, such as George M. Ella and Peter Meney.

     The generic name for this view is Hyper-Calvinism. To differentiate it with the next objection I call it “English Hyper-Calvinism”, since it originated as a movement in England in the eighteenth century.

     I shall look in a moment at this viewpoint and offer reasons why I regard it as wrong. But at this point allow me to say that these views have always had a restraining or cramping effect on preachers. The tendency of this view of the gospel is to make the preacher cautious and hesitant for fear of presenting the gospel more freely than is proper.

Gospel Standard Objection

     Objection: There is no duty-faith.

     Explanation: By this is not meant that the sinner has no warrant to believe that ‘Christ died for him’ but no warrant to believe till he is awakened.

     Response: A sinner’s inability does not limit his obligation to believe. The sinner’s true position before God is that he cannot believe but he must. (“The gospel vice”).

     Since the gospel comes to the sinner as both invitation and command, it is the sinner’s duty to believe. Repentance and faith are both the duty of all who hear the gospel. This form of Hyper-Calvinism is a type of new legalism, by which men and women are led to think that they must not believe in Christ till they feel conviction. But the effect of this is to focus the sinner’s mind on the measure and degree of his own conviction, rather than on God’s free offer of Christ to all who want him.

Books for further Study

     “The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation” by Andrew Fuller (1785). The great missionary expansion under William Carey followed. “Spurgeon v. ‘Hyper-Calvinism‘” by Iain H. Murray; published by Banner of Truth. “The Gospel Offer is Free” by David H.J. Gay; published by Brachus (2004). This is the reply to George M. Ella’s book “The Free Offer and the Call of the Gospel” (2001).

Critique of the Protestant Reformed view

     Objection: There is no gracious offer of salvation on the part of God to all who hear the gospel but only to the elect.

     Explanation: God’s will is one, not manifest. If he has eternally elected some only to eternal life it is wrong to suppose that he gives a well-meant offer of salvation to any but the elect only.

     Response: The fact is that the Bible does speak of God as liking, wanting and wishing all sinners to be saved. This is a matter of divine revelation as well as his eternal election. Both are stated as revealed facts in scripture.

     The way to be obedient to scripture is, not to stress one truth to the detriment of another, but to hold both truths at the same time, i.e. we must affirm both God’s eternal election and his well-meant offer to all sinners who hear the gospel. We are obliged to do this because this is how God himself reveals his will to us. Put simply, it is this: God has fixed the number of the elect from eternity past; yet God desires every sinner who hears his gospel offer to receive it and be eternally blessed in Christ. If the question is now asked, “How can both things be harmonised?”, we answer: “In this life we do not know.”

     Here we face Paradox or Antinomy, i.e. it is an apparent contradiction. But to us in this life it seems to be so. God cannot really have two contradictory wills. But so it now seems to us. These are usually referred to as God’s secret will and his revealed will.

     The preacher’s duty is not to stumble over this mystery but to be up and actively presenting Christ to sinners – to all sinners.

     So the true position we are to hold to is this: The sinner who hears the gospel cannot believe but he must. We refer to this as the ‘gospel vice’. The preacher is to hold the sinner in the grip of this vice till the sinner cries to God in self-despair. It is at this point that God bestows saving grace. God is always ready to hear the sinner when his cry is, “Lord, save me or I perish.” So the preacher must not offer Christ with any kind of reservation because he rightly understands that sinners have no ability to come to Christ.

1. 1 Tim. 2:3-4: “God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved” (Gk. thelo). I consider the meaning to be here

that God desires all to be saved, even those whom he has not decreed to save. (For fuller discussion, see “The Gospel Offer is Free”, David Gay, p. 75.)

2. 2 Pet. 3:9: “The Lord is not slack… but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (Gk. boulomai). I believe Peter to announce here that God is not willing that any sinner, elect or otherwise, should be lost. (Again, see David Gay, p. 76.)

3. Ezek. 18:23, 30-21 & 33:11: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways and live?” “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, said the Lord God.” Here we see God declaring that he would rather all sinners repented and were converted rather than that they should die in their sins and be eternally lost.

     Now here Roberts has made a host of scandalous blunders and misrepresentations. Here I shall speak for myself as Peter Meney has already proved (for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see) the allegations against him to be mere evil gossip.

Gospel Standard Theology

     When the BOT first attacked me on the subject of Hyper-Calvinism it was allegedly because of my writings on John Gill, William Huntington and William Romaine who were all worthy gentlemen in the early days of the Banner’s history until they became more enamoured by Wesley’s stress on human ability. Indeed, Roberts’ first point of attack above is against the very idea of human disability. Actually, I bought my first books on these three Reformed heroes at the Leicester Conference. I also bought Iain Murray’s rehabilitation of Wesley, years after I had bought Banner books even denying that Wesley was converted. My defence of Wesley’s conversion is on this site.

     The accusation that I was a Gospel Standard man came originally from Errol Hulse and John Legg who, as Directors of the Evangelical Press, rejected a book I had written on Gill which they had commissioned and supported. Only a few weeks before this, they had sent me a list of alterations they required before publication and asked me to tone down my calling Wesley an ‘Arch-Arminian’. For peace’s sake, I altered every single point the Directors had raised. When I was then called to attend an EP Directors’ meeting in Yorkshire, I travelled there from Germany, understanding the ET would pay my expenses as they had invited me. This, however, they refused to do. Nor did they cater for my accommodation but Peter and Gill Meney kindly invited me to their home. At this conference, instead of telling me that my Gill was now in print as I had expected, they told me in the strongest terms that they now wanted nothing to do with this great man of God.

     At the meeting, I was confronted by several people unknown to me. Their spokesmen were Errol Hulse who I knew from the Evangelical Library and a rather cheeky youngster unknown to me, of whom Bunyan would have said the eggshell was still sticking to his head. These men accused me rather rudely of being a Gospel Standard man. Up to that day, I did not have the foggiest idea of who such ‘monsters’ were. The name Philpot dropped but as the Banner had written most highly of him previously, I could not think of him as an ogre. Then the name ‘Huntington’ was dropped, I found no reason to hate the Gospel Standard, whoever they were, because of Huntington as the Evangelical Press had just published my book on Huntington and a Mr Ruben, who appeared to be a leading man at the ET, had praised it greatly and told me that it was selling in all continents. However, now Errol Hulse and his friends, wishing to sweep the ET clean of what they ignorantly felt was heresy, had decided to put Huntington, Gill, Romaine, Philpot, the Gospel Standard and myself into one top and told me that they would not now print the book which was finished and ready for printing. The then editor, Peter Meney, soon to be dismissed also, stood by me and brought the book out under his responsibility, feeling he was honour-bound to do so. The other EP-ites had no feelings of such duties and responsibilities and I later heard from ET officials that they were phoning around, warning people not to buy my books, including book shops and they even warned a good number of churches and private people whom they found out I was visiting not to have anything to do with me. This goes for my work with the PRS in England and my work in the USA and Canada, where telephone calls from my new enemies always went before me. I must confess, I began to call these persecutors ‘the Evangelical Mafia’ and had good reasons for doing so. One book distributor in America ordered 200 of my books and voted my Gill book ‘Book of the Month’ in his magazine. After being tipped off from Banner circles that I was a heretic, he refused to pay for the books! Sadly, thereafter a number of my closest friends left me because it had been drilled into them that I was a persona non grata.

      After my Yorkshire encounter with the twinning up of the BOT and EP in their New Divinity teaching, I naturally was curious to find out what the Gospel Standard taught and actually found wonderful fellowship with Malcolm and Stephen Pickles and their lovely families, a most godly man named Michael Picket, introduced to me by Henry Sant; a fine brother called Graham Miller and a dear elderly and wise gentleman called Ben Ramsbottom and wondered why Errol Hulse had dicky-fits at the mention of such honoured people’s names. Later I found out about the Added Articles and realized that I could never accept them, but I also have had sweet fellowship with Baptists such as Errol Hulse and Presbyterians like Iain Murray, but I do not write them off because they are Baptists or Presbyterians and I cannot accept their confessions. Denominations are not Churches. Christian fellowship has, or ought to have, nothing to do with institutionalized denominationalism. To be honest, taking the Banner’s definition of Hyper-Calvinism and applying that to the above mentioned new friends, I found that none were as ‘Hyper’ as a number of Banner Boys were before they turned Arminians. At the LBC the people with whom I found it most difficult to fellowship were the Calvinist legalists who were Banner enthusiasts. I am taking about 1959-1962. I was twice beaten up by their thugs for not worshipping their warped view of ‘Calvinism’. Yes, in a Bible College where I spent the most unhappy days of my life! In my first week at the college, I was pinned to the wall by a strong hand on my throat and a blond South-African Boer told me that he would soon shake all Arminianism out of me. I did not know I had any.

     However, the last I could wish for my new GS friends is that they should go the way of all flesh back to Egypt as the Banner has done. I am encouraged to hear that young Banner fellows are now shaking off the rusty armour of the second generation (after the U-turn) ‘oldies’. At a recent Banner Conference, I heard some good gospel preaching rather than the analytic cold systematizing of former years which cause me to stop attending for a decade.

     So let us examine Maurice Robert’s further reason for calling me names and putting me in the Gospel Standard camp, though I would have thought Errol, being a ‘strict Baptist’ had more in common with them than I, and would like to know why he thinks he has not.

     Roberts gives the objection to his badly explained view of the gospel as:

‘Objection: There is no duty-faith.

Explanation: By this is not meant that the sinner has no warrant to believe that ‘Christ died for him’ but no warrant to believe till he is awakened.

Response: A sinner’s inability does not limit his obligation to believe. The sinner’s true position before God is that he cannot believe but he must. (“The gospel vice”).

     Since the gospel comes to the sinner as both invitation and command, it is the sinner’s duty to believe. Repentance and faith are both the duty of all who hear the gospel. This form of Hyper-Calvinism is a type of new legalism, by which men and women are led to think that they must not believe in Christ till they feel conviction. But the effect of this is to focus the sinner’s mind on the measure and degree of his own conviction, rather than on God’s free offer of Christ to all who want him.’

     This is very confusing. Is Roberts arguing that the warrant to believe comes with the awakening or does not come with the awakening? I believe that when the Holy Spirit possesses a soul granting him an awareness of his sins and the need for salvation, that sinner has every warrant to believe. However, where this divine act has not taken place, there is no warrant at all for the sinner to believe as he has no idea that such a warrant exists and exists for him. He is, as Roberts observes, but does not quite believe, following Fuller, ‘dead in trespasses and sins’. What duty faith can a dead man exercise? No matter how dutiful that person might be, duties are not warrants of faith, nor are they expressions of faith until faith is given and received and dutifully followed. After all, it is Christ’s faith that we receive and not fallen human faith. I doubt very much whether the latter even exists but my accusers use it as their main pillar in gospel-preaching.

      What Roberts means by ‘the gospel vice’, a terrible expression, I do not really know. However the ‘vice-grip’ Roberts clearly provides himself is the dualism between his Divine provisions and man’s agency. Once in that grip, there is little hope for a sinner unless he drops all ideas of human agency, thus rescuing himself from Robert’s vice. Is Roberts saying that the gospel of grace comes as a savour of life to some and a savour of death to others? If so, we are in full agreement. The command to repent and believe (which Gay falsely accuses me of never teaching) is not an appeal to duties but a revelation that such is impossible without God’s action in the soul. The command, accompanied by the work of the Spirit, awakens the soul to his helpless plight but not to helpful duties. Indeed, I miss the work of the Holy Spirit in the teaching of much of our ‘Reformed Establishment’.

     What Roberts says about his Hypers fixing in the sinner a feeling of conviction rather than a feeling or duty to accept a free offer, shows how far away from the true gospel he is. Surely the gospel is a two-edged sword which strikes conviction in the heart of a sinner so that healing grace can flow through the wound. What God has placed together, mere man should not try to put asunder. But on to Roberts’ next argument:

‘Critique of the Protestant Reformed view

Objection: There is no gracious offer of salvation on the part of God to all who hear the gospel but only to the elect.

Explanation: God’s will is one, not manifest. If he has eternally elected some only to eternal life it is wrong to suppose that he gives a well-meant offer of salvation to any but the elect only.

Response: The fact is that the Bible does speak of God as liking, wanting and wishing all sinners to be saved. This is a matter of

divine revelation as well as his eternal election. Both are stated as revealed facts in scripture.

     The way to be obedient to scripture is, not to stress one truth to the detriment of another, but to hold both truths at the same time, i.e. we must affirm both God’s eternal election and his well-meant offer to all sinners who hear the gospel. We are obliged to do this because this is how God himself reveals his will to us. Put simply, it is this: God has fixed the number of the elect from eternity past; yet God desires every sinner who hears his gospel offer to receive it and be eternally blessed in Christ. If the question is now asked, “How can both things be harmonised?”, we answer: “In this life we do not know.”

     I wonder if Roberts is referring to the Scottish denomination of that name which grew out of Andrew Melville’s French Humanism and his quarrel against the Scottish churches which were doing very well before he set himself up as a tyrannical leader. Or is he referring to the David Engelsma brand of Presbyterianism here? Is he taking a dig at the denomination he left to found his ‘Continuing Church? I could never make out where it was continuing from, though where it was going always seemed clear. Roberts is obviously not referring to the standard Protestant Reformed view. The view of our Protestant Reformers such as Jewel, Bullinger, Lambert, Tyndale and Wycliffe was never like that. As I have witnessed in many books, I stand with our true Reformers and not with modern ‘do-it-yourself’ gospel revisionists.

     Concerning election, surely the call of the gospel goes out to bring in the people of God through trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no election but this and no election outside of Christ. Strangely enough, it was when I preached this in the eighties, after preaching it since the late fifties, I was told by former friends, most of whom read the Banner magazine with me, that, according to what they read, I was a Hyper. So radically had the view of what the gospel was changed in that corner. However, it only became clear to me recently through talking to Roberts that he has a view of election which quite contradicts the need for an atonement and goes quite contrary to our Reformers teaching. This reflects Calvin’s view explained in his Institute, Book III, Chap XXIII:7 where Calvin apparently teaches that God’s so-called double predestination is irrespective of man’s fallen nature and that God acts arbitrarily in election. In this he followed Zwingli and opposed Bullinger’s more Reformed view. But more later on that. Roberts now says:

‘Explanation: God’s will is one, not manifest. If he has eternally elected some only to eternal life it is wrong to suppose that he gives a well-meant offer of salvation to any but the elect only.’

The impiety of pronouncing God to be a bundle of distinctions

     Again, this is difficult to follow as Roberts apparently puts forward a view to be opposed but yet it appears to reflect his own view. It is Roberts, like Gay and Hulse, following Fuller who says that God has two wills, his revealed will and his secret will which is not made manifest. Yet he accuses his ‘Hypers’ above of dividing the truth. Robert does the dividing, telling us that each side appears to be an opposite to us but not to God. How does Roberts know that God accepts the way in which he, Roberts, divides God’s acts in salvation? I am not aware of any of all these ‘Antitheses and Opposites’ in God that we hear about from the Banner’s Edinburgh office. God is immutable! Fuller, of course taught that God’s revealed will was temporary and arbitrary, merely for the duration of drawing in the elect after which God would again bind Himself to Natural Law. So, for the duration of the gathering in of God’s people, at least, God has two wills. I would have thought Christians would en bloc reject such an idea as devilish. It is a pity that Roberts does not read Gill who would put him right concerning his extra-Biblical interpretation and faulty view of eternity and with it election and justification. Who, for instance, says ‘God has fixed the number of the elect from eternity past’? Most of the Banner and Founder’s Journal play on this broken harp which is as unscriptural as it is illogical. True, God forgives, saves, adopts, cleanses and justifies His own from eternity, but God has never divided His dwelling-place, eternity, where we shall one day join him, into past, present and future. Eternity is as begginingless and endingless as God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. This is the Banner’s and Founders Journal criticism of their unread works on Gill (read for instance Curt Daniel). They say that Gill teaches a past eternity which sealed the fate of all sinners for ever more. Gill taught that God from eternity is not governed by time but His will impinges on time from eternity. We see in this life of time things as then, now and tomorrow. This is not the way God moves in eternity. Our Banner Boys always make God a slave of time and thus they get all their teaching on election and atonement wrong, but especially on justification where they follow Melanchthon and not the British, French and Swiss Reformers. Gill was in league with the Bible and our Reformers. The men of the Westminster Confession were those who built up a rational, mainly secular, Enlightenment way of thinking based on Roman Catholic Aristotelian analysis. Those who were for a more Baconian logic rather than that of Rome propagated by the Presbyterians, and were making their views heard, were abruptly cut off from continuing to develop the WC when the Presbyterians pulled out and pronounced the WC complete. Note, however, that Roberts always uses the Westminster Confessions as if they were Scripture. He forgets, perhaps that there were supposed Hypers also in their ranks beside Arminians and Antinomians. Happily Warfield has shown them what a compromise the WC is. One might be able to analyse time in Roberts’ way (Though I doubt it) but one cannot analyse God as the WC did and all the Systematic Theologies it spawned with its emphasis on the supposed ‘Light of Reason’. Over-devotion to the WC has destroyed much theological exposition and the ability to comprehend God’s revealed will.

     Understanding that he is confusing his readers, Roberts again insists that:

‘Here we face Paradox or Antinomy, i.e. it is an apparent contradiction. But to us in this life it seems to be so. God cannot really have two contradictory wills. But so it now seems to us. These are usually referred to as God’s secret will and his revealed will.

The preacher’s duty is not to stumble over this mystery but to be up and actively presenting Christ to sinners – to all sinners.’

     Roberts’, in order to define God, separates what he feels are God’s different natures to such an extreme that he presents us with two gods and, as Iain Murray teaches, a third when we include Christ. Other so-called free offer men go even further. Think of K.W. Stebbins in his wee book ‘Christ Freely Offered’. The Christ he offers is so cut up and dissected that there is no Christ left to be seen. He is the kind of ornithologist who believes he can best describe a Bird of Paradise by anatomical dissection. We thus learn only about parts and the whole is lost. Thus Stebbins does not merely speak of God’s two wills (three if we include his view of Christ’s) but he tells us of God’s secret and revealed will; His decretive will; His perceptive will; His legal will; His will of good pleasure; His will of complacency; His will of purpose; His will of delight etc.. Here we have Olympia and not Zion! Then Strebbins confuses those awaiting the gospel further by saying that we must think of God’s will as being broken into different parts and note their ‘useful distinctions’ besides the ‘valid and reasonable distinctions’; the ‘subtly different’ dyads (Stebbins quite lost me here), and ‘different concepts’ in short, we must by this means show man ‘what we are in duty bound to do’. This apparently is our duty-faith friend’s view of offering Christ freely as he outlines in his chapter ‘God’s Delight that All Be Saved’. Preaching the gospel, he tells us, is making clear to the sinner how God expresses Himself in His attributes.

     Now imaging going on a journey by bus or aeroplane as I have often done. One invariably, because one is an ambassador for Christ and led by the spirit, starts leading one’s neighbour to Christ. According to our free offer mentors we should start talking about ‘dyads’ and ‘wills’ and ‘attributes’ and ‘distinctions’ and ‘paradoxes’ and other wastes-of-words instead of telling them the old, old story of Jesus and His love. I trust I belong to the latter category which Roberts and his antinomious and paradoxical brethren call ‘Hyper-Calvinists’. This reminds me, with respect, of two would-be Muslims who have not yet made the grade, discussing how many hairs there are in Mohamed’s beard, or the scholastics talking about how many angels can stand on a pin head. Is this how we should interpret Romans 11:34, ‘For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?’ We also note that when Roberts, Stebbins, Hulse, Silversides, the BOT, Founders Journal and Reformation Today people talk like this, they are explaining to us what they call God’s secret mind. The Bible tells us that God has made manifest his plan of salvation to us in these last days. It is very different than that of the duty-faith gospellers. It is His own one and only Plan A and God does not need their plan B, nor do sinners who will remain lost on hearing their rubbish unless the Holy Spirit intervenes. I am always happy when God saves lost souls in spite of the preachers! Away with their junk and spam gospels!

     Roberts, to force his new, Liberal theology of contradictions on us, postulates that God has determined it so to be. Who is he kidding? One never came across the idea that God has a dozen wills in the Scriptures until Roberts, Gay, Hulse and the Murrays began to force their way-out view upon us. So too, I am fed up of this mock-pious method Roberts’ and his cohorts have of insulting others and then warding off their complaints by saying they are too busy preaching the gospel to attend to such matters. I have appealed to many of Roberts’ companions-in-arms who have said in conferences and articles that I am a Hyper, but when I have asked them for evidence, they have told me they have no time for me, they must preach the gospel. They then go on slandering their brethren as part of that gospel.

     Having heard from a close friend of Hulse’s and happily a close friend of mine, that Hulse was preaching that I was an ignoramus and after hearing that he went ‘paranoid’ on hearing my name, I wrote to him suggesting that we put our heads and hearts together and folded our hands together and committed our differences together before the Lord, seeking that reconciliation that all brethren should have with one another and the Lord, I longed for a reply. One day, some time later, an envelope came with a stamp on it which looked very much as if it came from Leeds where Hulse lived, the next town to Bradford where I was born. I opened the envelope and out slipped a small book. It was from one of Hulse’s organisations. There was no letter. I quickly thought that Hulse’s answer was in his book and read it from cover to cover. It was a book arguing for the legitimacy of divorce. Was this Errol’s way of saying that our hearts could be married no more?

     So Roberts sums up:

‘So the true position we are to hold to is this: The sinner who hears the gospel cannot believe but he must. We refer to this as the ‘gospel vice’. The preacher is to hold the sinner in the grip of this vice till the sinner cries to God in self-despair. It is at this point that God bestows saving grace. God is always ready to hear the sinner when his cry is, “Lord, save me or I perish.” So the preacher must not offer Christ with any kind of reservation because he rightly understands that sinners have no ability to come to Christ.’

     Actually, this is not a bad way of putting it. Here, however, there is no talk of a sinner responding to duties but responding to self-despair, crying out ‘What shall I do to be saved’? We must ask, however, what does Roberts understand by ‘offering Christ’? Here, he seems to have dropped the idea of appealing to duties. So why write all this nonsense about human duties? And, to bring myself back into the debate, what has all this speculation about the sinners duties to do with Roberts’ denigration of former brethren with whom he was once in complete harmony, now as ‘Hyper-Calvinists’ though they have not changed their doctrines though Roberts apparently has.

Roberts’ Scriptural proof for his denigrating his brethren as ‘hypers’

     Now we come to matters which ought to have been aired at the beginning of Roberts’ anti-Hyper hype rather than at the end. To make a statement and then append a Scripture to it without due exegesis is not the best way to go about convincing a Christian opponent. What grounds has he then for proving the necessity for exercising duty-faith by the use of the three Scriptural references he gives, which are:

1. 1 Tim. 2:3-4: “God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved” (Gk. thelo). I consider the meaning to be here that God desires all to be saved, even those whom he has not decreed to save. (For fuller discussion, see “The Gospel Offer is Free“, David Gay, p. 75.)

2. 2 Pet. 3:9: “The Lord is not slack… but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (Gk. boulomai). I believe Peter to announce here that God is not willing that any sinner, elect or otherwise, should be lost. (Again, see David Gay, p. 76.)

3. Ezek. 18:23, 30-21 & 33:11: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways and live?” “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, said the Lord God.” Here we see God declaring that he would rather all sinners repented and were converted rather than that they should die in their sins and be eternally lost.’

     Now, looking at these texts, we find that I Timothy speaks of God’s will. Also 2 Peter speaks of God’s will and Ezekiel tells us, what we should well expect, that God does not delight in the fate of the wicked. Who would disagree? Who could interpret this wrongly? Are we not all as born again Christians of exactly this will which is God’s will? Roberts thinks not. In his interpretation, he appears to be implying that such as George Ella and Peter Meney either do not believe these verses or do not draw the right consequences from them and do not live by them.

     My response is:

     Unlike Roberts’ unfounded view of me, I and my house do not delight in the death of the wicked. May I preach that as I have always done to my dying day!

     It is always wise to follow Christ’s advice and go not one step beyond Scripture. So where, tell me where, is there here a mention of man’s duty to exercise faith towards salvation in these verses? Roberts obviously does not find such references here himself, so he refers us to David Gay as one who, he believes, does and thus has led Roberts into a greater misunderstanding of what otherwise the Scriptures state so plainly. Roberts refers us to page 75 of Gay’s work which refers to Christ’s weeping over the fate of lost sinners who will not repent. I trust that we all weep here with Christ when seeing the lost depart from God. I believe that Roberts can weep in this way but as he has not seen me weep in this way through want of looking, he believes I do not and cannot.

     But our weeping over lost sinners is not made any the more joyful when we consider that they could have been gifted by God with a sense of faithful duty to get themselves saved. Obviously, they had no such gift of faith otherwise they would not have rejected Christ. If they did reject Christ after receiving, in spite of the fall, an awareness of their duties to God, as Roberts postulates, their fate is all the more tragic. But, Mr Roberts, please do not give God the blame that he could have done something to stop it. (Actually Roberts does give God the blame as we shall see later). Meanwhile, Roberts refers us to page 76 of Gay where the misguided author tells us that there is not only a paradox between God’s will and His desires but this paradox is found between the actions of the Father and the Son also. Gay says on this page that by confessing this, he shows the error in my thinking, possibly because I stress that Christ came to do the will of His father so Christ and His Father’s will are one. Gay further thinks he has proved me wrong by stating that there was no quarrel between the Father and the Son about the paradox between them. This is all according to these apostles of paradox to do with God’s secret will into which we are not to inquire. It is funny that Gay and co always seem to know what God’s secret will is but they tell us we do not. I had never thought there was a paradox between the Father and the Son anyway until Gay and co played the Devil’s advocate, happily in vain. I confess that I cannot understand what purpose Gay (or Roberts) has in postulating one. The paradox here to me is that Roberts and Gay are faced with clear Scriptural evidence which they reject for wild speculation about what the gospel might and could mean regarding man’s duties when it has nothing to do with such oddities, or at least it is not stated in these ‘proof texts’ which are about God’s revealed mind. This kind of ‘Higher Criticism’ is too highfaluting for me. It also seems that Gay and Roberts claim an extra-Biblical revelation denied to those they call ‘Hypers’. Presumably because such ‘Hypers’ cannot exercise ‘Duty-Faith’.

     One redeeming factor about Stebbins is that he quotes good old John Owen as saying ‘We must exactly distinguish between man’s duty and God’s purpose, there being no connection between them.’ I take it that Owen is speaking in terms of man’s lost state when left to himself. He has no connection from his side with God. However, the big surprise here is that Stebbins strongly disagrees with Owen. Now I know that Owen went through various stages of grace and trust in God in his life as we all do and was led to change his denominational allegiance several times owing to political pressure. Yet Owen did not think like our duty-faith friends who cut up theology into bits to make it seem all the more learned, complicated and difficult to fathom if not plain objectionable. He believed in preaching the whole gospel as a whole to the whole man, giving him the whole truth and not waste time on extra-Biblical pretensions and philosophical sesquipedalianism which bring nothing, help no one and ignores sinners who either long to creep to the cross or urgently need to do so.

     Now we must take a look at the crux of Roberts’ theology to see why he differs so much from the orthodox Christian faith in his application of such matters as justification, atonement, reconciliation and election which are, of course all part of the one doctrine of redemption. This is why modern Reformed believers now speak of ‘the doctrine of grace’ rather than ‘the doctrines of grace.

Maurice believes that God was determined that Adam should sin and thus decreed such.

     Three or four years ago, Maurice and I were invited by the Protestant Reformation Society to speak at their Annual Conference at Wycliffe Hall. Maurice came as a preacher and I a speaker on Calvin’s doctrine of irresistible grace which I prefer to call efficacious and effectual grace. It troubled me that though Maurice preached to us, he refused to take communion with us and sat in an isolated corner in the front right pew with his family and another minister and celebrated privately with them. He even demanded that the officiating clergyman should celebrate the Lord’s Supper with the rest of the participants and then go over to Maurice’s ‘holy huddle’ and hand out the bread and wine there, too. Is this not, Andrew Fuller’s ‘closed communion’? So here we had Baptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Plymouth Brethren and whatnots, enjoying the Lord together and Maurice’s ‘Continuing brethren’ breaking with true Christian fellowship as they broke bread. This is enough to put me off such sectarians.

     In my lecture, which did not appear to please Maurice, his family and the other minister I outlined that Calvin neither codified the Five Points, nor summed up Christianity so stringently and his gospel was more copious and comprehensive. I mentioned the many aspects sadly left out of the Tulip debates but included by Calvin. I also quoted Calvin as saying:

“Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.”

      I did, however, mention Calvin’s early debate with Pighius where the Frenchman lost four of the six rounds he sparred with him through relying on the Church Fathers and Aristotle in his arguments, whom Pighius knew much better, and not knowing enough about the German Reformation on which Pighius was an expert. Calvin’s greatest blunder, however, in the debate was that he lost his temper. He called Pighius ‘ raving’, ‘blinded by madness’, ‘too stupid’, ‘arrogant’ etc., etc. This reminds us of the time Bullinger asked Calvin to write to Westphal urging more brotherly cooperation and Calvin began his letter by addressing Westphal as ‘Wretch’. The most amusing point in the debate was that Calvin accused Pighius of copying from Calvin’s 1536/9 editions of his Institutes though these were an anthology of other men’s sources which both had used. This reminded me of the Spurgeon story where a student was rebuked by Spurgeon for allegedly copying one of his sermons. It turned out that the student had used the same source as Spurgeon!

     At question time, both Maurice and his minister friend questioned me on much that I had said, obviously believing that I understood Calvin, less dogmatically, more leniently and widely than they did.  Then the doctrine of the Fall was brought up in a way that I had not touched on because of its unclear and fateful meaning at times in Calvin’s wording (if it were Calvin’s wording) and it was not my topic. Maurice argued from a strong conviction that God had decreed Adam to sin on his own responsibility. Maurice emphasized, however, that God was not the author of sin as it was Adam who sinned. He also believed Adam was destined to sin so as to display Christ’s great redemption. He was thinking, I presume, of Calvin’s defensive speech before the Genevan Council on 6 October, 1952 where he tells them that God foreordained the fall of Adam. I suppose, too, Maurice was thinking of Calvin’s Articles concerning Predestination where he tells us that God determined that Adam should fall. With the same decree, he says, God ruled who would be elect and who would be reprobate.

     Here Calvin is still echoing his early fatalistic theology as expressed to Pighius in his two works Concerning the eternal Predestination of God and Concerning Free will. In my book Henry Bullinger: Shepherd of the Churches, I outline how Bullinger pleaded with his colleague to drop such God-dishonouring ideas, giving sources in both Bullinger’s works and Calvin’s.

     Naturally, I was thunderstruck by this most hyper of Calvin’s hyper views. No wonder Engelsma says that Calvin was the first Hyper-Calvinist. For some moments I did not know what to say especially as Maurice was our special honoured guest. However, Maurice hammered home his conviction with which I then had to publicly disagree. This is of course why Maurice’s doctrines of Atonement and Election are so way-off. Calvin’s fatalism is at the bottom of it. Now such an idea is the most dreadful Hyper-Calvinist speculation I can think of. If it were true, God is indeed the author of sin and the atonement was a farce. Christianity would be no better than Islam as we are told so often today. We are then left with the horrible idea that many accuse Calvin of holding; that God elected a certain number of sinners to Heaven in an ancient past eternity and damned all others to Hell at the same ‘time’, quite irrespective of the preaching of the gospel and the presentation of Christ as the Redeemer he truly is.

     I have dealt with such ridiculous logic in my books on Justification. I believe that election is accomplished from eternity through atonement in Christ when faith in Christ makes election sure. I believe that all who are in the Lamb’s Book of life are elected from eternity, just as Christ’s atoning work is from eternity and has nothing to do with time limited theories. All are lost until Christ saves some, not through a Hobson’s Choice but because of His sovereign love which we know is always right. Those who teach that the Fall was God’s intention, I believe, have no gospel to preach. The idea of an enforced Fall and an enforced damnation by God is as un-Christian as one could possibly imagine. I preach to all men everywhere, pleading with them to accept Christ. Yes, dear Maurice and David, I am often in tears when I do so, but I know that God is working His purpose out and where His net is cast out, fish are caught. This is where election and justification in Christ is worked out. To preach free salvation in Christ is my calling and my hope. This is my faith. Roberts’ view of ‘duty-faith’ with his perverted view of the Fall, Atonement and Election in his ‘free offer’ would make knowing God savingly an impossible task. Happily, God still has His faithful preachers who neither cut down, nor alter, nor rationalize the gospel. Nor do they invent another one.

     Sadly, ministerial training nowadays often bypasses the basic needs of sinners and the basic cure for their sins. I can say this freely as I have studied theology at various levels in six European universities and am thus not exaggerating. However, what I have found in today’s universities is that theological fantasies which our Reformed English-speaking Establishment gives us in lieu of the gospel are not on the university gender. Our universities are not so Liberal! I conclude thus that what today’s so called Reformed evangelicalism gives us is all froth and lather and destroys true gospel preaching. I am not alone here in Germany where I find many agree with me as also in Austria, Switzerland and even in South Africa and South America. We have thus joined together in an international fellowship of theological faculties, missionary training colleges and the like and now have a fellowship of some 35 Bible-believing colleges of academic status who wish to pull together in the training of ministers and missionaries. We are thus working out a common curriculum for future ambassadors for Christ so that they should all have one aim and goal to preach the whole Bible to the whole man and present Christ as He really is and not as a bundle of distinctions as our ‘Free Offer’ jokers tell us. I would like to hear if there is a similar movement in Britain and the States. The time is really ripe now for a new evangelical thrust where true gospel preaching can be put over in an understandable, simple but profound way. I am thus not pessimistic about what the future holds for us in God’s saving zeal.