The Well-Meant Offer Subterfuge: A Cogent Review of Engelsma’s Polemic, “Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel” (By Sonny Hernandez)

April 5, 2018

 

This is an excerpt from Sonny’s book, “High Calvinism: A Consistent Approach to Defend and Declare God’s Sovereignty.” To get a copy of this book, click here.

 

 

 

Contentious disputes will arise when men interpose on the gospel of sovereign and particular grace. Arminians are the proverbial contemnors of God’s free and particular grace. They rely on their delirious and inveterate conceits to obtrude upon God. And the gospel they affirm is a universal love of God––a real disposition of grace and saving love that is inherent in God for all mankind––including the reprobate. The Arminian Christus pro omnibus [Christ for all] is no gospel at all. That is because it is an ineffectual heresy that cannot, and will not, ever save anyone.

 

            Similarly, there are professing Calvinists who will propound the notion that God loves all and earnestly desires their salvation, to include those whom He has decreed for hell. This “well-meant offer” notion will be cogently defined in this essay. For men to affirm the Reformed doctrine of election while simultaneously embracing anti-Reformed doctrine is contradictory. Not only is the well-meant offer notion a bastardization of the Christian faith, it is also the ill-begotten progeny of Arminianism that no Reformed Christian should ever condone.

I. PROFESSOR ENGELSMA’S WARNING

 

            To combat the subterfuge of the well-meant offer, Professor David Engelsma[1] published three editions of Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel. In this work, Engelsma carefully juxtaposes the particular grace of God with the well-meant offer and the “gemene gratie” [common grace] myth that God dispenses love and grace to all––including the reprobate. And he also refutes the calumnious and scurrilous charges of “hyper-Calvinism” that has been alleged against the Protestant Reformed Church, which will be discussed later:

 

The truth defended in this book is sovereign, particular grace in the preaching of the gospel. The book contends that this truth is fundamental to the theology of the Reformed faith in its entirety, that is, to scripture’s gospel of salvation by grace alone and to the authoritative confession of the gospel by the Reformed creed, the Canons of Dort… The heresy that the book exposes and condemns is the teaching that the promiscuous preaching of the gospel with its unrestricted call to all hearers to repent and believe is, in fact, the saving grace of God to all who hear the preaching, reprobate ungodly as well as the elect. It is the false doctrine of universal, impotent, saving grace with its comitant error that the efficacy of the saving grace of God in the preaching, and therefore the salvation of sinner, depend not on the grace of God made effectual by the Holy Spirit, but on the acceptance of an offered salvation by the sinner himself.[2]

 

It is the purpose of this book to show that the rejection of the well-meant offer by the Protestant Reformed Churches is not hyper-Calvinism. This rejection involves no restriction of the promiscuous, lively, urgent preaching of the gospel. It entails no hesitation to call everyone in the preacher’s audience to repentance and faith. It originates in no determination to weaken the responsibility of man before the face of the sovereign God.[2]

 

 

[1] Professor David Engelsma received his theological education from the Protestant Reformed Seminary. During that time, he studied under Herman Hoeksema. He also received a ThM from Calvin Theological Seminary. In 1988, he was appointed as professor of Dogmatics and OT studies by the Protestant Reformed Seminary, and held that position until 2008. He is the author of several book that have been published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association: Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church; Hyper-Calvinism & the Call of the Gospel: An Examination of the 'Well-Meant Offer' of the Gospel; Better to Marry: Sex and Marriage in I Corinthians 6 & 7; and many more.

 

[2] Engelsma, David J. Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel. 3rd ed., Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2014, xv. It is important to note that Professor David Engelsma published three editions of this book. The first edition was published in 1980, the second edition was published in 1994, and the third edition was published in 2014. In the foreword, Engelsma provides a preface to each edition.

 

[3] Ibid., 7.

 

 

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of any government, military, or religious organization.

Sonny Hernandez