Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The "Two Wills of God": Free Offer of the Gospel

Free and/or well-meant offer of the Gospel

McMahon sees correctly that holding to an idea that God sincerely desires and wills something (the repentance of the reprobate) which "he has not been pleased to decree"[John Murray and Ned Stonehouse, The Free Offer (Phillipsburg N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1979), 26] is to put forward two contradictory propositions (pp. 31-4). The offer of the Gospel is "sincere" or "well-meant" because God is not lying when He issues the proclamation or invitation for sinners to come and believe in Christ (p. 306, 311, 317) . But it says nothing about what God intends or desires, contrary to what neo-Amyraldians think. Accordingly, the OPC Minority Report on the Free Offer for the 15th General Assembly of 1948 repudiates the irrational nonsense of the "Free Offer" as articulated by John Murray and Ned Stonehouse (The Majority Report).["The Free Offer of the Gospel," Report for the 15th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Accessed at (Aug 16, 2016)] There is a genuine offer of the Gospel, but this offer is a presentation of the Gospel to all, and predicates nothing whatsoever of what God intends of desires. As McMahon states, "The Puritans and reformers used “offerre” in the sense that the Gospel was a proclamation, or invitation to come and believe on Christ, the Savior." (p. 306)

McMahon attacks the revisionist idea of the "Free Offer." But should we or should we not use that particular term "free offer"? Or how about the term "well-meant offer"? Since these terms do not have fixed definitions, it is not possible to say whether these terms should or shouldn't be used. It seems that, depending on what one means by the phrases, one could or could not hold to the "free offer" or the "well-meant offer." Nevertheless, it seems best that based upon the makeup of words in the phrases, the term "free offer" could be used since the predicate "free" emphasizes that the offer is open to everyone without price, whereas it seems that the term "well-meant offer" is liable to interpretation according to neo-Amyraldism as focusing on God's intent on the offer being to genuinely save everyone. Thus, it seems wise to reject the usage of the phrase "well-meant offer" or "sincere offer" while preserving the more neutral "free offer." For my personal usage, I would use "free offer" for the biblical and orthodox view of the offer, and "well-meant offer" for the Neo-Amyraldian view of the offer.

As an aside, the Neo-Amyraldian view of the offer is that God genuinely desires in His emotions to save everyone both elect and reprobate. The reason why it is called "Neo-Amyraldian" is because, in the classical Amyraldian scheme, the decree to elect comes logically after the decree to provide universal atonement. This idea of God desiring to save everyone, and then having a "subsequent" sovereign will as it were to save only the elect, sounds very much like classical Amyraldism with its idea of God providing atonement to all but then electing only some to salvation.

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