Monday, October 29, 2012

Turretin contra Murray on the Well-Meant Offer

XXIX The promises of the covenant of grace are not absolutely and simply universal because in the Old Testament they were not promulgated to all (Dt. 7:7; Ps. 147:19, 20; Acts 14:16; 17:30). Nor are they promulgated in the New Testament, since it is plain that the gospel was preached successively and there are still many nations to whom that preaching neither formerly, nor at this day, has reached. Rather the promises are only relatively and limitedly universal from the twofold manner of the divine dispensation; the one external as to obligation (which is extended indisciminately without distinction to classes of individuals, although not to individuals of classes); the other internal (as to application and fruit) with respect to all and each believer, without distinction of nation, sex or age and condition. Hence frequently that universality is restricted to believers from the Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 3:22, 23; 10:12; Acts 10:43; 13:43; Jn. 3:16). And the nature of the promises (which can only be received by faith) demands this (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 4:13). Now all men have not faith (2 Thess. 3:2), but only the elect (Tit. 1:1,2). And these are the true and proper object of them, who on that account are called "the children of promise" (Rom. 9:6, 7).

XXX. Nor can it be said that the promises are universal of themselves and from the intention of God, inasmuch as God seriously wishes all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth; but that all do not obtain it, is accidental on account of the wickedness and unbelief of men, who obstinately resist the Holy Spirit and hinder his operation. For it is falsely supposed that God seriously intends the salvation of all; this cannot be said of those whom he reprobated from eternity and to whom he wishes to give neither the gospel nor faith, without which the promise can either be known nor received. (2) Although it is true that men resist the Holy Spirit and hinder his work, it is no less true that God does not furnish to all that grace by which the resistance of the hear may be taken away; that this is the special gift of God (Mt. 13:11; Rom. 11:7), which destroys the universality of the promise.

— Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elentic theology, 12.6. 29-30

Contrast this with John Murray:

(3) Our Lord himself in the exercise of his messianic prerogative provides us with an example of the foregoing as it applies to the matter of salvation. He says expressly that he willed the bestowal of his saving and protecting grace upon those whom neither the Father nor he decreed thus to save and protect.

— John Murray, The Free Offer of the Gospel. Accessed here.

Notice the careful distinction that Turretin makes. Turretin speaks about the free offer of the Gospel strictly in terms of obligation to all classes of people without distinction. Murray however collapses the decretal and preceptive will in the majority report he authored. While claiming the free offer is grounded only in the decretal will, by the end of the report the two wills are confused. While claiming it is to all men without distinction in the beginning, towards the end he speaks of God desiring particular people to be saved. All of such confusion coalesces into statement 3 in the conclusion of the majority report. Does God will the salvation of people whom he does not will to save, as statement 3 asserts?

Far better is the minority report, which preserves the clear precision that Turretin is known for. The free offer of the Gospel is not denied, provided it is clearly explicated in terms of God's preceptive will towards men in general without distinction, sinners qua sinners. Thus, God sincerely calls all men to repent, but God does not call anyone in particular sincerely. Rather, the offer goes out to all, and Man have to personally appropriate Law and Gospel in order to receive this universal Gospel offer

With Murray's confusion, is it any wonder when many people do not accept this doctrine? Irrationalism is a sin just as much as Rationalism. To accept an irrational doctrine is to mock God, and Christ who is the eternal Logos. Christian truth may be trans-rational, but never irrational.

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