Tuesday, March 27, 2007

John Gill and Duty-Faith: Clarifying a Prominent Quote

Baptist historians have been hard at work over the past several years trying to ferret out the precise relationship between John Gill and hyper-Calvinism in eighteenth-century Baptist life. This article addresses that question. Thus, it is incumbent upon me to offer the following disclaimers:

  1. This is not an attack upon Calvinism; it is a discussion about hyper-Calvinism.
  2. In the spirit of full disclosure, I disclose that am not a Calvinist (do not adhere to the five points of Dort), although neither am I an Arminian.
  3. I think that the number of actual hyper-Calvinists breathing today is pretty miniscule. I hope that the number of hyper-Sensitive is also small.
The Big Question
Is John Gill the Father of Baptist hyper-Calvinism, or is he merely the Precursor of Baptist hyper-Calvinism? In other words, was John Gill himself a hyper-Calvinist in the same sense that his followers were? I will be the first to admit that I am years away from having plumbed the full depths of John Gill's writings and thought. So far, I believe that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist in his theology, but that his pastoral practice did not reflect the the most lethal effects of hyper-Calvinist thought (i.e. a lack of evangelistic passion and effort). He was, from all I can tell, a good pastor with an evangelistic zeal. The theological question involves such catchprases as eternal justification, duty-faith, the well-meant offer, the modern question, etc. I think that hyper-Calvinism boils down to the question of duty-faith: Is it the duty of all people to believe savingly upon Christ? I believe that it is the duty of all to do so. Those who believe upon Christ are saved. Those who do not believe upon Christ are condemned for that very failure to believe.
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
Those who reject duty-faith are theologically hyper-Calvinists. I believe that John Gill rejected duty-faith; therefore, I believe that he was a hyper-Calvinist.
The Big Quote
Those who do not believe that John Gill was a hyper-Calvinist have frequently offered as proof the following quote:
Souls sensible to sin and danger, and who are crying out, What shall we do to be saved? you are to observe, and point out Christ the tree to live to them; and say, as some of the cherubs did to one in such circumstances, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16:31. Your work is to lead men, under a sense of sin and guilt, to the blood of Christ, shed for many for the remission of sin, and this name you are to preach the forgiveness to them.
Many who employ this quote misunderstand Gill, taking this as an espousal of duty faith ("Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved") and an endorsement of general appeals on behalf of the gospel ("Your work is to lead men...to the blood of Christ")
The Big Clarification
Most biographical treatments of Gill mention Robert Hall's comment. A Dutch pastor and admirer of Gill apparently approached Hall and mentioned how much he wished that Gill's writings had been written in Dutch. "So do I," replied Hall according to the story, "for then I should not have read them. They are a continent of mud." The problem is that Gill's commentaries and theologies are written neither in English nor in Dutch. They are written in Gill. Gill is a quaint dialect of Theologian. Theologian is not a dead language, but some of its more nefarious dialects can be lethal. In other words, the discipline of theology includes some "inside language." Likewise, each particular theologian develops his own key phrases that may reflect a specific aspect of his thought and acquire an idiosyncratic meaning for him. Thus, one might clarify, "Beauty for von Balthazar means...," or "By apokatastasis panton Origen usually signifies..." Likewise, Gill has a special use for the idea of "sensible sinners." People become sensible of sin, spiritual danger, Hell, etc., through the action of special grace imparted by the Holy Spirit solely to the elect. Look again at the Gill quote:
Souls sensible to sin and danger, and who are crying out, What shall we do to be saved? you are to observe, and point out Christ the tree to live to them; and say, as some of the cherubs did to one in such circumstances, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16:31. Your work is to lead men, under a sense of sin and guilt, to the blood of Christ, shed for many for the remission of sin, and this name you are to preach the forgiveness to them.
Gill inserts the idea of sensibility toward sin and guilt and spiritual danger as restrictive adjectival and prepositional phrases telling which souls and which men in particular merit this kind of treatment. In this quote Gill does not endorse duty-faith; he only asserts that it is the duty of the elect to have faith. He does not endorse universal appeals; he only asserts the obligation to appeal to the elect. Gill's position on duty-faith appears clearly in Body of Practical Divinity, 1:535. He did not believe that saving faith was a duty.

114 comments:

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

Thanks for the article about Gill. Also, thanks for being sensitive to evangelical Calvinism as opposed to hyper-Calvinism.

You said that you are not a Calvinist and you are not an Arminian either. I have heard many SBC pastors say this and I must admit I am a bit befuddled. Could you please explain how you hold to neither Calvinism or Arminian soteriology?

Thanks.

Les

Bart Barber said...

Les,

You asked, "Could you please explain how you hold to neither Calvinism or Arminian soteriology?"

I answer, the same way Peter, Paul, James, John, and every other Christian who lived prior to the sixteenth century held to a soteriology before the advent of either Calvin or Arminius.

:-)

Calvinism does a good job of reminding us about God's sovereignty and the very pointed, very strong assertions in the New Testament about election. On the other hand, limited atonement is one of the worst theological propositions ever drafted or articulated (IMHO).

Arminianism does a good job of reminding us about a Christ who could say that it was His will to gather up Jerusalem, but that human unwillingness had gotten in the way. From the story of Cain, free will has shown up in the Bible. Unfortunately, Arminianism fails to take election seriously, understates the reality of depravity (IMHO), and has served as a Petri dish for some of the most abominable of Christian heresies. Furthermore, it fails to acknowledge the preserving power of God so clearly articulated in the New Testament.

Calvinism and Arminianism may be mutually exclusive, but this does not mean that they are collectively exhaustive.

kws said...

Bro. Bart,

Thank you for exercising your ability to trivialize the momentous and complicate the obvious in your comment to Bro. Les's post. :)

Bart Barber said...

KWS,

Certainly, my prowess in both respects is unbounded. :-)

But the flippancy of expression in my first statement should not mislead one to believe that there is no underlying substance. The simple fact is that we call these systems of faith Calvinism and Arminianism because they arose in the ministries of Calvin and Arminius. Before these men, nobody had articulated these views in quite that way. They are the founders of two approaches to soteriology, not the founders of soteriology itself. I do not suggest that these systems are entirely unanticipated. Certainly Calvin and Arminius drew from the thought of predecessors—Augustine and Pelagius, someone might say. Nevertheless, Calvinism is not quite Augustinianism and Arminianism is not quite Pelagianism.

So, beneath my smirk (which the familiarity between Bro. Les and myself hopefully will permit), there is a real answer to his question. Do these two systems of belief exhaust all of the alternatives in Christian theology? Obviously not.

And, I regard my beliefs as far less complex than either Calvinism or Arminianism. I accept the teachings of the Bible regarding divine sovereignty in salvation. I accept the teachings of the Bible regarding the human will.

The complexity comes when move from being biblical theologians to becoming systematic theologians. Then, we attempt to redact these biblical statements into something that we can comprehend. To fit all of these things together in a manner comprehensible to we humans, we must make them complicated.

I say, let us leave room in our theology for God to be God. Let us leave room for a little mystery. Let us confess before our Creator that we know not how our freedom of will and His sovereignty intersect. We affirm both as the Bible teaches both, but we have no idea about the intricacies of how they intersect.

To me, that is both simple and orthodox.

Bart Barber said...

Everyone help me out here. In the first four comments I've already contributed myself to a dangerous move toward this comment stream becoming a debate over Calvinism.

Yet I, the dictatorial master of the Praisegod Barebones blog do not wish to conduct a debate over Calvinism. I do welcome a chance to discuss John Gill's connection with hyper-Calvinism. What is the best way for me to avoid the former while facilitating the latter?

Bro. Robin said...

Bro. Bart

You stated and asked:

"Yet I, the dictatorial master of the Praisegod Barebones blog do not wish to conduct a debate over Calvinism. I do welcome a chance to discuss John Gill's connection with hyper-Calvinism. What is the best way for me to avoid the former while facilitating the latter?"

The answer: You can't avoid it, it has been predestined. :-)

Bart Barber said...

Robin,

:-)

selahV said...

Robin: LOL rolling LOL. selahV
I think this is gonna be a great discussion. I'm excited. I learn so much from reading all you guys chat about this. Inevitably, I end up thinking like I've always thought...just like you Bro. Bart. :) I figure Calvin and Arminius were some pretty smart guys who had a lot of time to study and write and consider things. But ultimately God is God and what I don't understand with my heart, can't possibly penetrate my mind. My mind offers up stuff to my heart all the time and my heart just can't absorb it.

I can't help you on the dialog about Gill. I don't even have a copy of anything Gill wrote in my library. Brad Reynolds talked about Gill once. And Wade said or quoted someone as saying that any pastor who didn't have Gill in his library wasn't worth his salt at a preacher. Well, there I was, wondering whether to rush out and get a book by Gill. But felt we'd gotten along this long without him, so we went out to dinner instead. And we just added a bit more salt to everything. :) selahV

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

I take no offense at your flippancy. Hopefully we know each other well enough by now to poke a bit of fun. :)

I know you don't want to get into this discussion here and I will gladly honor that.

If I pose my question on my blog, will you discuss it there?

Les

Phil and Mary Ann said...

Bart

I put this under the wrong heading. Sorry to publish it twice.

Long time reader, first time writer. I am an international working living in Central Asia. I have a Ph.D. from Southeastern under Dr. Eitel and consider him and Patterson friends as well as Ascol and other Calvinists. I am a Calvinist.

There is debate on whether Gill was/was not a Hyper-Calvinist; this is nothing new (though he was not the Father of Hyper-Calvinism -- see John Hussey). Ian Murray, a respected Calvinist theologian, provides an excellent definition of Hyper-Calvinism: “Hyper-Calvinism in its attempt to square all gospel truth with God’s purpose to save the elect, denies there is a universal command to repent and believe, and asserts that we have only warrant to invite to Christ those who are conscious of a sense of sin and need.” From this definition, arise three doctrines that form a framework for Hyper-Calvinism: supralapsarianism, denial of free offers of the gospel, and denial of duty-faith.
Supralapsarianism

Supralapsarianism, also known as High-Calvinism, became popular with Theodore Beza’s teachings in the sixteenth century. His interpretation of Calvinism provided the foundation for Hyper-Calvinism. According to Curt D. Daniel, an expert on Gill, all Hyper-Calvinists have ascribed to supralapsarianism (though not all "supralapsarians" have been Hyper-Calvinists). Theologian Millard J. Erickson defines Supralapsarianism as:
1. The decree to save (elect) some and reprobate others.
2. The decree to create both the elect and the reprobate.
3. The decree to permit the fall of both the elect and the reprobate.
4. The decree to provide salvation for only the elect.
Both High and Hyper-Calvinists use this order to promote double predestination (God predetermined some for salvation and some for damnation). High-Calvinists believe everyone, including the reprobate, should be offered the gospel and have the responsibility to respond in faith to Christ. Hyper-Calvinists disagree. They stress that only the elect (or pre-elect or "sensible sinner") should be offered the gospel and have the responsibility to place faith in Christ.

The Gospel Offer

Hyper-Calvinists agree with Calvinists’ understanding of election, but differ with them on offering the gospel to everyone. Calvinists affirm Christians should offer all men the gospel while Hyper-Calvinists believe God decreed salvation to the elect alone; only those who manifest signs of God’s election should be offered the gospel. According to the Hyper-Calvinist view, those who present the gospel to the non-elect sin. Joseph Hussey, the originator of this position states, "We ought to preach the Gospel discriminately, so as in the light of the Lord to define when Christ and salvation are effectually given, where, and in whose hands, the gift lies."

Duty-Faith

Calvinists affirm that God’s moral law requires all men to repent and place faith in Christ. Hyper-Calvinists agree, but distinguish between legal and evangelical repentance, and common and saving faith. Legal repentance and common faith are required by moral law, but evangelical repentance and saving faith are God’s gifts to the elect and not required by the unregenerate. Hyper-Calvinists do not believe saving faith can be simultaneously a responsibility and a gift; saving faith is "a reaction caused by special [saving or irresistible] grace."

Does Gill adhere to all three positions? Check out Baptist Theologians. By His Grace and For His Glory may help as well.

Bart Barber said...

Les,

Sure. I'll be glad to participate in a discussion at your place.

Bart Barber said...

Phil,

Your comment is good enough to enjoy reading it twice!

Your point well-taken about Hussey. I should have written "Father of Baptist hyper-Calvinism"

Murray: Great author.

George: Great author. Baptist Theologians is a great book altogether—vastly superior to Theologians of the Baptist Tradition.

Nettles: Great author.

Daniel: I thought his dissertation was fine work. If he has written beyond that, I have not read it.

Of course, a bibliography consisting entirely of these gentlemen would not exactly be balanced, would it? Perhaps a little Peter Toon would be good to add to the mix.

The definition you offered is as good as any. Why do you believe that the connection between supralapsarianism and hyper-Calvinism is necessary rather than coincidental? What argument would you offer to show a logical connection between the two?

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Bart,

Interesting post. I am not surprised the thread quickly self-maneuvered to a general discussion of Calvinism vs. nonCalvinism.

Nor does it surprise me that some reject that if one is NOT Calvinist, by default, one therefore is Arminian. They reject the distinction you evidently embrace, Brother Bart, that "All Arminians are nonCalvinists but not all nonCalvinists are Arminians."

Ironically, mainstream Calvinists employ a similar distinction they've just denied you: "All Hyper-Calvinists embrace Calvinism but not those who embrace Calvinism are Hyper-Calvinists." Well, enough of that; my point lies elsewhere.

You write, Bart, of Gill's special use of "sensible sinners": "People become sensible of sin, spiritual danger, Hell, etc., through the action of special grace imparted by the Holy Spirit solely to the elect." You then conclude that Gill inserts the idea of "sensibility" as restrictive telling which men in particular merit this kind of treatment. I hope I got your point.

The question I have is, is this idea of "sensibility" not parallel to the idea of regeneration preceding faith? If not, how are the two different?

If the two ideas parallel, then the only ones who possess a "duty" to believe apparently are those who are born again. If this is so, how can the idea of regeneration preceding faith itself escape the charge of Hyper-Calvinism which, in many ways, is directed toward Dr. Gill?

Perhaps I am completely off target and hence, would very much invite correction.

Grace today. With that, I am...

Peter

Bro. Robin said...

Bart

Instead of being so cute with my earlier comment, I should have told everyone that a general discussion is going on at my site concerning predestination and foreknowledge.

http://fromthehill.wordpress.com/2007/03/21/a-question-about-gods-foreknowledge-and-predestination/

Thanks

Bart Barber said...

Peter,

Your understanding of the post is entirely on-target. The sensibility question has more to do with regeneration preceeding conviction and repentance than it has to do with regeneration preceding faith, if my thinker is working this morning.

Even so, the ordo salutis that postulates regeneration before faith is a system of thought speaking more about the ability to believe than the duty to believe. The tension that leads some to hyper-Calvinism, I speculate, is the fact that Calvinism otherwise must speculate that God has imposed a duty (faith) upon some people (the non-elect) from whom He has intentionally withheld the ability to exercise that duty.

I will not flog our Calvinistic brethren for the logical tension inherent in that state of affairs. I, after all, am the one arguing that no system of soteriology can accurately reduce to a syllogism what the Bible calls the "mystery of the gospel."

volfan007 said...

bart,

you and i agree totally on the matter of not being a calvinist nor an arminian. you are my new hero, man! i have been telling people for years that i am neither, and i refuse to be sold out to a philosophical system. i just believe the bible, and i call myself a biblicist. and, of course, many dont understand that. they think thats not possible. looks like you do, bro. amen!

i would agree with you that gill was hyper. you said that not many hyper calvinists exist today. but, would you agree that many extreme calvinists exists today? and, i'm borrowing dr. daniel akin's word here. they are not exactly hyper, but they are extreme. they are fixated on the five points, and they love nothing better than to "convert" christians to reformed theology. i have seen this "bird" often and much in my life...in my neck of the woods. have you?

david

Debbie said...

I think that we need to define hyper-Calvinism. There are as many definitions or should I say off definitions of this as there is Calvinism. I of course disagree that John Gill is hyper-Calvinist and never understood where anyone thought he was, although I have heard this before.

I think the best definition of hyper-Calvinism that I have read comes from Phil Johnston. It can be found www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm

Bart Barber said...

David,

I enjoy vigorous theological discussion; therefore, I think I am less likely to label as "extreme" a vigorous commitment to an idea and an eagerness to convince others that one reads the scriptures rightly. Perhaps such a thing is nothing but a symptom of a virtue—a passion for the scriptures, which are the ultimate cause of this debate on both sides.

I think that you and I are in good company in the position that we hold on this question.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

You and I agree that we need to define hyper-Calvinism. I have done so (the rejection of duty-faith). In your research I think you will discover that I am not alone in this defintion.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

For example, Johnson's definition that you have cited includes the rejection of duty-faith as one of his five "varieties" of hyper-Calvinism. By Johnson's definition, Gill is a hyper-Calvinist if he denies duty-faith, which he does.

Debbie said...

I just felt that Johnston goes into more detail. I read your definition Bart, and while good, to many it could still be interpreted a hundred different ways. Sorry if I'm a little nit picky on definitions. :) As you know, clarity is half the battle.

Debbie said...

I don't believe Gill denies duty faith and I have been a reader of Gill for many years. To say this, in my opinion is not to fully understand Gill.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

I defined hyper-Calvinism as the denial of duty-faith. Don't feel pressed to give me a dozen...shoot, I'd be tickled just to see you name two different ways that might be interpreted.

As to whether Gill denied duty-faith: Did you read the page I cited in Gill's Body of Practical Divinity?

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

Sorry, I repeated myself in the last post. Whoops. Literary faux paus. :)

When you put the page next to John Gill's other writings, that is taking the page out of context Bart. It's an old trick.

You have to know where John Gill was coming from and the time period in which he wrote. He was combating the effects of Arminianism which at that time was a real threat. He was combating the real danger of universalism and the denial of the trinity. The time period was right after the dark ages.

John Gill said this in a sermon as well as in other sermons he gave:

"Souls sensible to sin and danger, and who are crying out, What shall we do to be saved? you are to observe, and point out Christ the tree to live to them; and say, as some of the cherubs did to one in such circumstances, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16:31. Your work is to lead men, under a sense of sin and guilt, to the blood of Christ, shed for many for the remission of sin, and this name you are to preach the forgiveness to them."

As I said, to charge John Gill with hyper-Calvinism is to not understand John Gill.

Debbie said...

It's no different than those who believe the Bible does not promote abstinence of wine, but that the Bible does speak of drunkeness as being sinful are accused of promoting drunkeness in the pulpit. Misunderstanding, whether on purpose or not always produces things that just are not true. This being one case in point.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

You do realize that the quote you have provided is exactly the one that I addressed in the post, right? Would you care to interact with the concept of "sensibility" in Gill's writings?

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

BTW, perhaps it would lower your hackles somewhat to understand my conviction:

"John Gill is a hyper-Calvinist" does not mean "John Gill is a worthless, no-good, so-and-so who never wrote anything worthwhile and is a pockmark upon the face of Christendom."

We have only grown in our theological convictions when we are able to move beyond both hero-worship and demonization to acknowledge realistically the faults and strengths of those who have preceded us in the faith.

Dwight McKissic said...

Bro Bart -

Great post. You provided the most concise yet accurate distinctions between Calvinism verses Arminianism in your comment section that I've ever read. I totally agree with your position on being neither a Calvinist nor Arminian. You expressed my soteriology far better than I ever could. The next time I preach on soteriology I will articulate your viewpoints. I hope to remember to give you credit.:)

I greatly admire your intellect, humor, candor and people skills.

The collegiality and camaraderie between Calvinist and non Calvinist exemplified on your blog is also admirable. It is encouraging to me that the same level of collegiality and camaraderie is beginning to happen with Cessationist and Continualist. We can all get along. God has graced me with a genuine friendship with men who don't share my Continualist theology such as Robin Foster, Wes Kinney, Tim Rogers, Les Puryear, Jeremy Greene and of course, you Bart. Your post is more than just a post, it is ministry. It is a ministry of theological and ecclesiastical education and dialogue in the Charleston tradition.

Keep up the good work.

Your brother and friend,

Dwight McKissic

Debbie said...

Bart: I'm not upset Bart. I write to the point and so it may have come across that way, I'm sorry if it did. I am just informed concerning John Gill. This is just an old argument that simply is not true and just partially for the reasons that I have given. It would take several posts to further the information.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

Since you are informed (what do you imply about me there?), I believe that you have an obligation to help the rest of us poor mortals.

It would help if you started substantiating rather than just regurgitating and reiterating.

To wit, other than the quote that I have carefully shown not to be a defense of duty-faith by Gill, can you provide any reference in which Gill articulates a belief in duty-faith?

Bart Barber said...

Pastor McKissic,

Allow me to say how delighted I am that things are working out between you and your fellow trustees.

Oh wait...I already did :-)

Flattery will get you everywhere, sir. Come back anytime.

Debbie said...

You do realize that the quote you have provided is exactly the one that I addressed in the post, right? Would you care to interact with the concept of "sensibility" in Gill's writings?

Yes, I would be willing to interact. I missed this quote being in your blog. My apologies. I do not understand where you can quote this however, and then conclude that John Gill is hyper-Calvinist.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

In this quote Gill is saying that faith is the duty of those who are sensible to sin and danger, and that it is the duty of pastors to lead people with that sort of sensibility to Christ. But according to Gill, the only people who have that sort of sensibility are the elect. Thus, Gill is not affirming that faith is the duty of any other than the elect.

Debbie said...

I believe that as well. That is the teaching of Calvinism Bart,it is the teaching of book of Romans. We do not know who the elect are. You have said in your post that you do not wish to engage in speaking of Calvinism therefore it is going to be hard for me to speak on this point with your restrictions in affect to which, out of respect to you, have bowed to.

Debbie said...

that should be, I have bowed to.

Debbie said...

At the forefront, Calvinism is not a "hill for me to die on." When I was immature it was, but since have realized, this is a third tier for me and if one is not Calvinist, it has never been a source of fellowship or even being a leader in the SBC.

This doctrine to me is one that the Holy Spirit must lead every individual on. I am only interested that when it or people are discussed, their views be properly and truthfully represented. That is the only reason I have said anything. One is a Christian whether they hold to Calvinism or not. There in only one way to heaven and that is through belief in Jesus Christ.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

No.

Calvinism teaches that saving faith is within the ability of only the elect, but it is hyper-Calvinism that teaches that saving faith is the duty of only the elect. Thus according not only to me but also to Phil Johnson whose definition you cited earlier.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

Certainly I am not refusing to enter into discussion as to the difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism. That is germane to the subject at hand. I just don't want this to become a debate about whether Calvinism is right or wrong. That's a discussion worth having sometime, but it is such a prevalent discussion that it has a tendency to prevent other related discussion. The ruts from that popular discussion are easy to slip into.

This post is about what John Gill was, not about what you or I ought to be.

Debbie said...

OK Bart. Thank you for that clarification. I just wanted to be sure and honor your request. OK then, let's proceed. :)

Is it ok if I begin to expand on the quote and question you asked me?

Debbie said...

Your last statement makes no sense Bart. Hyper-Calvinism believes that the gospel does not need to be preached because God will bring those to himself with or without the preaching of the gospel. John Gill certainly did not believe this. It's Gill's followers who had distorted Gill's teaching, not John Gill himself.

Anonymous said...

Well, Bart and Dwight, it seems that we have something in common.

In Christ,
Malcolm

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Debbie,

That hyper-Calvinists believed the Gospel need not be preached AT ALL is a modern myth. Hyper-Calvinists believed that the Gospel need only be preached to those showing evidence of regeneration, those showing a conviction of sin, or in Gill's words, those "sensible" to sin.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

volfan007 said...

debbie said...It's no different than those who believe the Bible does not promote abstinence of wine, but that the Bible does speak of drunkeness as being sinful are accused of promoting drunkeness in the pulpit...

did i miss something in this thread? did anyone accuse gill of drinking alcohol? was anyone accused of drinking alcohol? was anything said about drinking alcohol period?

debbie, why would you bring this up?

as i take a sip of my sweet tea, i sense that someone is wanting to argue about the drinking alcohol subject again.

david

Nathan Finn said...

Bart,

Very interesting conversation over here. I confess I am undecided as to whether or not Gill was a hyper-Calvinist. Frankly, I have read more about Gill than I have read Gill, so I feel ill-informed to make a final declaration. I do know enough about the debate to know that good, careful scholars disagree about the question.

I think it is important to note that, regardless of whether or not Gill himself was an honest to goodness hyper-Calvinist, most of the subsequent hyper-Calvinists in Baptist history have looked to him as their forefather. In other words, the hypers think Gill is one of them. And everyone agrees that there are aspects of Gill's thought that, at bare minimum, created an atmosphere conducive to the spread of hyper-Calvinism.

Of course even if Gill was a hyper-Calvinist, that doesn't mean we should reject everything he has written (I for one am quite fond of his commentaries). Just like we should not reject the writings of thoughtful Arminians.

Thanks for a thoughtful, charitable post about a somewhat controversial topic (at least among the history dorks like you, me, Dr. Yarnell, and apparently Debbie!).

NAF

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Nathan,

Thanks for the subtle way of getting in a dig at me. Now, you can say, "I called Dr. Yarnell a dork". Unfortunately, there are those who would agree with the assessment. Indeed, I have also been called "a research geek".

:)
Malcolm

Bart Barber said...

Yes, Dr. Yarnell, but you are a dork in good company. :-)

Debbie said...

david: Nope, I simply used the alcohol statement to illustrate the point I was making. It fits well I believe.

Jeff: I think you know I disagree. John Gill is not saying anything other than what Calvinists have always taught. Bart changed a few words, but there is no difference in the two sentences he wrote. At least when I read them, they sound the same.

Nathan: I too appreciate Bart's civility and if I come across as angry or tough, I apologize. I don't feel that way when I write the words. It's that when I write, I don't mince words too much as it takes up a lot of space on the comments. (I like to get to the point quickly, that may be a bad thing) I do not have near the ability to know history as you and Bart. I am knowledgable on a few, Gill, Spurgeon, Luther. That's about it. :) That took me years of reading and good mentoring. :) But I do love history.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

Yes, the idea of "sensibility" as a conviction to sin that pertains only to the elect is a common one among Calvinists.

What is not common is the limitation of the duty of faith solely to such people, or the qualification of the concept of leading people to Christ to pertain solely to such people.

It seems to me, Debbie, that you are shifting definitions of hyper-Calvinism around to suit your own predicament. I am willing to stick with the definition that you recommended.

To wit, A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:

1. Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR

2. Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR

3. Denies that the gospel makes any "offer" of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR

4. Denies that there is such a thing as "common grace," OR

5. Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.


I'm still waiting for you to show us that quote (other than the one I've critiqued in the article) in which Gill embraces duty-faith.

Bart Barber said...

Nathan,

I have not closed my mind on the status of Dr. Voluminous. I do believe that the concept of "sensibility" dismantles this particular argument claiming that Dr. Gill was not a hyper-Calvinist. That does not mean that someone will not be able to present another rationale that will convince me otherwise.

I have no dog in the hunt. Gill was what he was. I find him to be a fascinating figure historically. I would rather study Fuller, but Gill is fascinating.

Nathan Finn said...

Bart,

I agree; I much prefer Fuller to Gill.

Dr. Yarnell,

"Research geek?" I love it. If that is the worst you have been called, you are in better shape than I!

Debbie,

I admire your passion about the topic. Having a pretty good idea of who at least one of your mentors is when it comes to Bro. Gill, I have a sneaking suspicion I know where some of that passion comes from.

NAF

Debbie said...
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Debbie said...

Thank you Bart, I appreciate that comment.

Debbie said...

I am a deep thinker and a researcher. I think it comes from all the HS and college papers I had to write. Wade has rekindled my reading and passion for Gill whom I began reading a few years prior to coming to Emmanuel. It was part of my spiritual search. :)

I am sorry if I sounded terse. That was not my intention nor my feeling. I just feel that one should disagree with the truth of what someone believes and hyper-Calvinism is something I am against. AW Pink was accused of the same thing, but I do not believe he was hyper either. John MacArthur was accused of not believing in the shed blood of Christ because he wrote that it's not the blood that saves us but Christ. So these misconceptions are not new. The Bible is said to be contradictory but that is not true either. I could go on and on.

Bart Barber said...

Nevertheless, Debbie, this post is not about A.W. Pink or John MacArthur. The status of John Gill is a matter of wide-ranging academic debate. You need not defend your academic credentials here. I have not invoked mine and will not. Let the ideas speak for themselves.

But you are going to have to provide some primary-source substantiation for your claims. Not because of any degree you have or don't have, but because the proof is in the pudding. How do we know what Gill was? We look at what Gill wrote. We compare it to a standard definition of hyper-Calvinism. There may still be room for debate, but let it tbe debate at that level, with everyone providing actual evidence for his or her views.

Bart Barber said...

Paul,

I note that far earlier in the comment stream I apologized, stating that I should have called Gill the putative father of Baptist hyper-Calvinism rather than the father of hyper-Calvinism in general.

Now that I look back at the article, I did include the word Baptist to begin with. Which was precisely what I meant to say. Which means I don't understand why you objected to the wording.

selahV said...

Hello Debbie: While I have no dog in the fight over Gill, cause I've never read anything about him other than on blogs, I do have a comment, if you don't mind, regarding how you are perceived when commenting, love.

You wrote to Bart: "Your last statement makes no sense, Bart."

I think Debbie, if you'd clarify statements like that with, "Your last statement makes no sense to me, Bart" then it might not sound so mean and as if everyone thinks the same as you about his last statement. Do you get where I'm going with this? I don't mean to butt into your conversation because I do learn from others when you challenge them. But at times your challenges come across as a bit loftier than I know you mean them to. At least I think you don't mean for them to come off as lofty. Forgive me if I offend, I don't mean to.

Volfan: sometimes we use comparisons in an unrelated topic just to emphasize a point, ya know? It's not that we want ta chat about it or haul the puppy into the dogfight. Like who wants to talk about sweet tea? surely not anyone else. ha ha. ;) selahV

Jeff Richard Young said...

Calling all Research Geeks and Other Dorks,

Help me out here, please!

Did hyper-Calvinist Baptists really believe that the Gospel needn't be preached AT ALL? I thought they just believed it needn't be preached to those who show no sign of conviction.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Bart Barber said...

Jeff,

Some did. Some didn't. You correctly note that this is not a part of the definition of hyper-Calvinism. Yet nobody but a hyper-Calvinist would hold this position.

selahV said...

Jeff: when I first started reading about Calvinism and trying to understand what I was reading by going to blogs such as (well, I won't mention blogs), I really got the impression that Calvinists did believe folks didn't need to be preached to. In fact, as I understand the reformed church, they don't see any need of altar calls either as in reaching lost people. So I (as a dumb pew-sitting lay-person) thought that Calvinists only saw it necessary to preach the gospel to people who already were saved or thought they were saved. And those who do not hold to the 5 points were considered unregenerated or at the least, uninformed. I'm still somewhat confused about how folks who visit churches are approached and evangelized, but am assured by folks that they are. And given the kind of Calvinists I've been chatting with lately, I do believe they are more like me than I'm like them.

But the hyper-C is one who makes no allowances whatsoever for another to have a brain or thought that doesn't agree with theirs, I think. The one thing I still don't get is why they all don't agree on something if they are all agreeing they are something.

Being a Southern Baptist has the luxury of being a Southern Baptist without agreeing with all the Southern Baptists is and does.
Autonomy of the church actually extends into the autonomy of the believer in many ways, though not all. selahV

Debbie said...

Selah: They are evangelized by preaching and teaching the gospel. It's the same as you believe, but Les has a discussion over on his blog concerning Calvinism. It's getting confusing in here. Or do you have some thoughts on John Gill?

Debbie said...

[quote]Jeff,

Some did. Some didn't. You correctly note that this is not a part of the definition of hyper-Calvinism. Yet nobody but a hyper-Calvinist would hold this position.[/quote]

Exactly. The story is told of William Carey, a Calvinist himself, who felt called to the mission field. He asked in a meeting if it was the duty of all men to spread the gospel to the world(which of course he felt they are). JR Ryland supposedly stood up and said "Sit down young man, when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine." That is hyper-Calvinism. They feel that God will bring people to salvation without the aid of a Bible or the telling of the gospel.

Debbie said...

Bart: I believe you know why I used John MacArthur or AW Pink. I could even use Charles Spurgeon. :)

I believe the quote you mentioned is one quote that shows he is not hyper-Calvinist. But I will go through his writings and bring others to the table.

Debbie said...
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Debbie said...

SelahV: It's comments such as yours that are frustrating to me. Why? They are so full of things that are not indicative of what Calvinists believe, it's why I very rarely talk about it because it can make one crazy just keeping up with things that do not properly represent Calvinism. They very rarely listen to the asnwers, instead wanting to keep their original ideas, which are wrong. Les has a discussion on his blog however.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

Is it your position that Gill is referring to the non-elect when he writes "Souls sensible to sin and danger"?

Is it your position that Gill is referring to the non-elect when he writes "men, under a sense of sin and guilt"?

You agreed earlier that Gill was referring to the elect by these words, stating that it was part-and-parcel of all Calvinism to regard sensibility toward sin, danger, and guilt as a part of special grace toward the elect. Is that still your position, or do you change your position and now maintain that these phrases refer to at least some people who are not elect?

selahV said...

Debbie: I AM reading Les very carefully. I read Les carefully every day. Several times a day. Les is one of the Calvinist who I find quite admirable and more to the kind of Christian I find myself to be in many ways. I highly respect him.

I'm sorry I frustrate you with my comments. I wish I knew how to say what I think without frustrating you. If a person like me was in your church would they also frustrate you to the point you couldn't talk about your faith?
I find no pleasure in frustrating people. How do I make you crazy? I have been listening. Since you say: "They very rarely listen to the asnwers, instead wanting to keep their original ideas, which are wrong.", I must ask. (Don't answer if it frustrates you, though.)
Do you ever change your original ideas in a conversation concerning your understanding of another's view or beliefs? do you ever find yourself or your thoughts wrong?

I don't view you as wrong, Debbie. I don't view many other of my Calvinist brothers and sisters in Christ as "wrong". I simply consider them holding different views of which I simply don't hold. It's called different.

I also find some Calvinists' approach to be a tad short of the mark in reaching their point when they employ dialog and tone which is less than kind, loving or peaceful. But I can say the same thing of some who are not Calvinist.

I apologize Bart, but felt I needed to address that statement. I find myself totally inadequate to broach the subject of Calvinism because I'm always on this receiving end of frustrating someone. Why can't a person who has little knowledge of the subject ever ask simple questions or give their take on what their first understanding of Calvinism was today without frustrating someone or driving them crazy? Must we all slink away and keep our thoughts to ourselves? selahV

Debbie said...
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Debbie said...

Bart: I deleted my first answer as I want to be clearer than I believe I was. I believe that Gill meant the elect, in the sense that Calvinists teach the doctrine of election. He preached to all, but not all would respond. Only those whose eyes are opened by God and a heart of stone made into flesh(the sensibility) would be able to respond. Hope I'm clear.

John Gill also said this:

. and this perverseness of their wills to come to Christ, when revealed in the external ministry of the word, was blameworthy in them, since this was not owing to any decree of God, but to the corruption and vitiosity of nature; which being blameworthy in them, that which follows upon it must be so too; and it was the greater aggravation of their sin, that they had the Scriptures which testified of Christ, and pointed at him as the way of life, and yet would not come to him for it:

John Gill, exposition of John 5:40.

I am taking all the writings I have read into account here and not just the statement that both you and I have given.

Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...

Debbie wrote:

"Exactly. The story is told of William Carey, a Calvinist himself, who felt called to the mission field. He asked in a meeting if it was the duty of all men to spread the gospel to the world(which of course he felt they are). JR Ryland supposedly stood up and said "Sit down young man, when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine." That is hyper-Calvinism. They feel that God will bring people to salvation without the aid of a Bible or the telling of the gospel."

Just to clarify and defend good brother Ryland, in the stream of historiography, this event is hotly debated! Ryland's son denied it happened. Others offered differing opinions on what happened. I just want to be careful before labeling John Ryland Sr. as a hyper-calvinist!

selahV said...

Allen: wasn't it William Carey who didn't have a single convert to Christianity for eight years of his ministry on the mission field? selahV

Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...

selahv,

Yes, that is fairly true. Krishna Pal was the first convert to Christianity in India. He was converted a number of years after Carey arrived in India (I can't give you exact dates because I loaned out my Carey notes and books to a student writing a paper on Carey).

Though, Carey was hardly a hyper-calvinist! It was not without trying that God did not bless him with converts until a number of years after arriving.

selahV said...

Allen: I did a Google on Carey and it has quite a bit of info on him. In the search I first read it affirmed the statement by Ryland, Sr. charging Carey to "Sit down" and another man agreed with Ryland. See http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/biocarey.html Do you have a reference of where Ryland's son disputed this happening and of those debating its truth?

I first learned of Carey when studying missions right after I was saved. I was very active in the WMU in New England. I didn't have a clue what Calvinism was. And I don't think it was even brought up then. I always admired Carey for his stedfastness because of his long wait for converts.

To clarify my earlier question to you, I wasn't thinking Carey was a hyper-Calvinist. I just wondered if my memory was correct regarding his early attempts at evangelizing India. And though God didn't see fit to bless his efforts for 7 years, I wondered if his doctrinal beliefs may have played any part in how folks may have responded. I have no idea. I'm just curious. Thanks for your response. selahV

Bart Barber said...

Allen is right. The Ryland quote is disputed. I believe, if memory serves me, that you'll find the denial in Ryland, John Jr., The Work of Faith, the Labour of Love, and the Patience of Hope, Illustrated; in the Life and Death of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (Charlestown: Samuel Etheridge, 1818).

I suspect that the dispute goes more to who said it and when it was said than to whether it was said.

Bart Barber said...

Also, the full quote normally reads:

"Sit down, young man. You are an enthusiast...[and then the rest]"

Bart Barber said...

And finally, I would attribute Carey's early missiological anemia to the widely acknowledged fact that William Carey couldn't preach his way out of a paper bag.

It wasn't until the team of Carey, Ward, and Marshman began working together that the genius of the Serampore Mission took shape.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

Just to clarify, the question before us is not whether Gill preached to all (I acknowledged him in the OP as an evangelistic pastor in his practice), but whether he affirmed duty-faith. The quote you offer does not really speak to that question, does it?

It is, however, a great quote for contrasting Gill's idea of natural inability against Edwards's/Fuller's concept of moral inability.

Debbie said...

Bart: I do see the quote as answering the question, and moral inability, natural inability are one and the same. Edwards theology was no different than what Gill is saying. I believe the same way. Bottom line we are dead in our sin. Paul preached to everyone as well, yet he did not see everyone he preached to as already born again nor did he see them as all coming to Christ did he? You seem to be using semantics here my friend. It's all the same thing. Different wording. I have a lot of Gill's material to go through, I will post more phrases that you can attempt to tear down. :)

Selah: I try to ignore you and you keep going down the path of strawman arguments. What is your purpose? No, Carey's 7 years was not due to his theology. I believe it was due to God's timing. We plant the seed according to Paul, it's God that does the growing. Now back to ignoring.

Debbie said...

Bart: I have also read Carey and I would certainly disagree with your assessment. But for sake of argument God uses those who "can't preach out of a paper bag" as well. Billy Graham's message is simple and he didn't have great success either at the beginning. Not many preachers do, but in the end many were brought to Christ from that simple message.

How many preachers have people come down the aisle every Sunday?(I have a problem with altar calls for salvation but that is another post.)

volfan007 said...

i think it's always funny when people use the "thats a straw man arguement" when they dont like the straw man you're using. whats wrong with a straw man anyway, if he could represent a legitimate thought in the debate? i see nothing wrong with strawmen being used in a discussion to prove a point.

also, debbie, what about your use of drinking alcohol as you tried to prove your point earlier? would that not technically be a straw man?

david

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

Don't bother. If you can say with a straight face that Edwards's theory of moral inability and natural inability are identical—that Edwards's thought on this topic was identical to Gill's—then language has ceased to have meaning.

Here's my advice to you: If you can substantiate what you are saying, then write a book and make yourself wealthy. You will have discovered what all of the historians who have studied Gill and Edwards have been unable to see. You'll go down in history.

FYI: The distinction between moral inability and natural inability was one of the key distinctive features of Edwards's theology.

Debbie said...

Bart: I will not only say it with a straight face, but I will look you in the eye as I say it. And words have meaning, one just has to realize what Calvinsim teaches and its use.

Jonathan Edwards read Gill with great admiration. Even John Wesley spoke highly of Dr. John Gill.

Debbie said...

Genesis 3:9 was the verse that converted John Gill. It was this passage in a sermon taught by his pastor that John Gill began seeking God and in doing so realized he needed a Savior and his total depravity. This in a biography written by John Ritten.

He was minister of the church Benjamin Keach was pastor of and afterward Charles Spurgeon. Under Gill, the church grew until it was one of the largest of its day anywhere. As against hyper-Calvinism as Charles Spurgeon was,it was one of his life long fights. Why did he not use his predecessor John Gill as target practice?

If one will look at the sermons in John Gills Archive at Gillsarchive.com there is plenty of material. He preached on heaven and hell. He was so respected in London that those who were against him except for the established church they were anxious to hear him and gave him time to speak to them once a week.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

Bart Barber reads Gill with great admiration. Yes, as did Edwards. But there was a big difference between the Calvinism of Edwards and the Calvinism of Gill.

Listen, here's Dr. Norman Maring:

"[Andrew Fuller's The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation] supplemented by numerous publications did much to remould the Baptist mind on this subject. A tract of a similar nature had been pulished in 1781 by the elder Hall, and he had been influenced by that; and its author had also directed his attention to Jonathan Edwards, whose works were of decisive importance for Baptist in this period. Taking over one of the fundamental ideas of Edwards, the distinction between natural and moral inability, Fuller felt that a dilemma had been resolved. Locating man's inability to obey God in the disposition rather than in the constitution of man seemed to save both Divine sovereignty and man's responsibility. Now, he could in all good conscience urge the duty of repentance on men, without thereby implying that salvation rested upon human decision. Thus a theological roadblock had been removed, and a basis laid for missions and evangelism which was widely accepted by Baptists."

-Norman H. Maring, "Andrew Fuller's Doctrine of the Church and the Ministry," in Historical Papers on Baptist Tradition in Preparation for the Second National Theological Conference of the American Baptist Assembly (Green Lake, WI: American Baptist Assembly, 1959)

So, Debbie, you put me in a position to choose whether I believe that you are right on the one hand, or whether every published scholar on both Edwards and Gill is right on the other hand. Guess which choice I'm likely to make.

I feel myself getting more and more assertive in this debate, yet it is obvious that, were I able to conjure up Gill, Fuller, and Edwards themselves, your intractibility would prevent you from acknowledging that you are wrong. Therefore, what is the purpose of further dialogue? My choices are to butt heads ever more forcefully with a really nice lady in a public forum or to acquiesce to error. I find neither alternative attractive.

Therefore, I propose a third way. Email Tom Ascol and ask him whether moral inability and natural inability are the same thing in Edwards's thought. Ask him if the denial of duty-faith is indeed hyper-Calvinism. You are obviously predisposed to disregard anything I say, so find someone you respect who actually knows something about these topics, and if they agree with you, send them to straighten me out.

Otherwise, this is fruitless and prone to wind up damaging our relationship.

Debbie said...

One more for the record. :)

John Gill

"What though, poor soul, thou seest the aboundings of sin in thy nature, and in every power and faculty of thy soul; yet look up and view the superabounding grace of God streaming through the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; . . . take heart, therefore, and do not be discouraged; Christ's grace is sufficient for thee; . . .go to him as a poor perishing sinner, implore his grace, and venture on him, I dare say he will not reject thee."

Bart Barber said...

And, for the record, this is yet another quote detailing God's grace and mercy for the elect.

Debbie.....helloooooooo....the question on the floor is duty-faith.

Debbie said...

Gill's commentary is another good place to refute the error of his being hyper.

In his commentary on Matthew 11:28 he says:Mat 11:28 - Come unto me,.... Christ having signified, that the knowledge of God, and the mysteries of grace, are only to be come at through him; and that he has all things relating to the peace, comfort, happiness, and salvation of men in his hands, kindly invites and encourages souls to come unto him for the same: by which is meant, not a local coming, or a coming to hear him preach; for so his hearers, to whom he more immediately directed his speech, were come already; and many of them did, as multitudes may, and do, in this sense, come to Christ, who never knew him, nor receive any spiritual benefit by him: nor is it a bare coming under the ordinances of Christ, submission to baptism, or an attendance at the Lord's supper, the latter of which was not yet instituted; and both may be performed by men, who are not yet come to Christ: but it is to be understood of believing in Christ, the going of the soul to him, in the exercise of grace on him, of desire after him, love to him, faith and hope in him: believing in Christ, and coming to him, are terms synonymous, Joh_6:35. Those who come to Christ aright, come as sinners, to a full, suitable, able, and willing Saviour; venture their souls upon him, and trust in him for righteousness, life, and salvation, which they are encouraged to do, by this kind invitation; which shows his willingness to save, and his readiness to give relief to distressed minds. The persons invited, are not "all" the individuals of mankind, but with a restriction,

all ye that labour, and are heavy laden; meaning, not these who are labouring in the service of sin and Satan, are laden with iniquity, and insensible of it: these are not weary of sin, nor burdened with it; not do they want or desire any rest for their souls; but such who groan, being burdened with the guilt of sin upon their consciences, and are pressed down with the unsupportable yoke of the law, and the load of human traditions; and have been labouring till they are weary, in order to obtain peace of conscience, and rest for their souls, by the observance of these things, but in vain. These are encouraged to come to him, lay down their burdens at his feet, look to, and lay hold by faith on his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; when they should enjoy that true spiritual consolation, which could never be attained to by the works of the law.

And I will give you rest; spiritual rest here, peace of conscience, ease of mind, tranquillity of soul, through an application of pardoning grace, a view of free justification by the righteousness of Christ, and full atonement of sin by his sacrifice; and eternal rest hereafter, in Abraham's bosom, in the arms of Jesus, in perfect and uninterrupted communion with Father, Son, and Spirit. The Jews say (y), that מנוחת תורה, "the law is rest"; and so explain Gen_49:15 of it: but a truly sensible sinner enjoys no rest, but in Christ; it is like Noah's dove, which could find no rest for the soles of its feet, until it returned to the ark; and they themselves expect perfect rest in the days of the Messiah, and call his world
to, rest.

Debbie said...

Bart: What do you think Calvinism teaches on duty faith? Seriously.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

I've been serious all along.

Garden-variety Calvinism teaches that it is the duty of all men to believe on Christ for salvation. However, it is not within the ability of any person to believe savingly upon Christ apart from the special grace that is accorded to the elect. Thus, those who are not elect will be guilty of failing to live up to their duty to believe, and will be condemned for (among other things) rejecting Christ.

Debbie said...
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Debbie said...

Bart: By seriously I meant I was asking seriously. Sorry I did not make that clear. Your answer is correct. John Gill believed this as well.
You have to realize that every single church in England at the time of John Gill was delving into deism. The Particular Baptists of which John Gill was did not during that time period. John Gill's preaching was the reason why. They stayed true to the Savior and to a true Bible. That cannot be said of any other church in England including the Arminians during that time period. The deism is why he preached mostly to the elect although all heard. He stressed the Sovereignty of God due to the heavy influence of deism, while also believing in duty faith and teaching it, even writing a hymn crying out to sinners though I cannot find it now, I hope to.

There is an immense amount as I am sure you know on John Gill's writings. A good book is one written by Tom Nettles, which I do not have but would like to that deals with this subject. I can attempt to find more writings that show that Gill believed in duty faith as he learned much of Augustine as well, using his writings in his preaching. But would Charles Spurgeon have taken up his mantle if he was hyper? I have a hard time believing he would, given his strong stance and he wasn't afraid to speak against those who went beyond Calvinism.

Gill did deny the free offer of grace to anyone. That would include the elect. He believed that God gave it, we didn't give it to them. I would agree with that. But that is not denying duty faith.

Bart Barber said...

Did John Gill believe in duty-faith? That is a disputed question. I am willing to admit that it is a disputed question. Serious scholars disagree. The point of this post is to indicate two things: (1) That I believe the quote offered in this post not to be an affirmation of duty-faith. (2) That I have not seen any affirmation of duty-faith in Gill to counteract the areas where he denied it.

I offer those observations with all due respect for Gill, the first great Baptist theologian of the modern era. As I said clearly in the OP, Gill was evangelistic and was a good pastor. I never denied that. He pleaded fervently with "sensible sinners" (i.e. the elect) to come to Christ. But he did not believe that it was the duty of the non-elect to believe savingly upon Christ. I assert nowhere that this affected Gill's practice, but it was a part of his belief, in my considered but fallible opinion.

The contextual forces that you mention are generally valid, although overstated (not every church outside of the Particular Baptists wandered off into Unitarianism, but you correctly note that many did). But Debbie, many many times such circumstances are the very breeding ground of error. Seeing the dangers on one side we can overreact to errors on the other side. What you have said about Gill's valiant defense against the heresies of the Enlightenment can be said equally of Hussey, Skepp, Brine, etc.

As to Spurgeon, I know not why he did not highlight the divergences between Gill's thought and his own. Someday we'll ask him.

I do love the theology of a man who could ask God to bring in all of the elect and then elect some more (if Underwood gives us the straight scoop).

Debbie said...

I would disagree with the statement that Gill did not believe that all should are to repent and believe. Calvinism teaches that the elect are to come to Christ. There are those who do not hear the call Bart. That is Calvinism. They go to hell because they are sinners. Gill said this in "The Cause of God" All men are naturally bound to repent, because they have naturally broken the law." Commanding them to repent is putting them under the curse of the law which they have broken in their natural s. What man has broken, he has a duty to mend. This does not mean, however, that man can mend what he has broken and obtain a legal righteousness, but he is still a debtor to the law for having broken it. The law forces its demands on every one because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Gill sees repentance as turning from sin and turning to Christ. That is how I view repentance. How would you view it? I don't know Bart, from what I have ever read of Gill, I have never seen him as hyper. Even when I first began reading him.

I don't know Bart, it sounds as if you are looking with Non-Calvinist glasses at his writings, which is understandable beings you are not Calvinist. That could be the difference. Jonathan Edwards read him and never criticized him which causes me to believe that I am comprehending his writings properly. Charles Spurgeon never criticized him, even taking his pulpit and his church, John Wesley didn't even criticize him, at least to my knowledge. These are some pretty heavy duty people and theologians.

I agree with your assessment of Spurgeon whom is one of my favorites as well.Jonathan Edwards being another. Gill was certainly not the preacher Spurgeon was, but his knowledge was so vast and at such a young age. Was it eleven? that Gill knew fluent Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The man was brilliant. I believe Gill should be heavily read with no fear of hyper-Calvinism. But that is just me. I truly believe it is a misunderstanding of his writings. There are so many that I would have a lifetime of going through them all word by word.

I will say this Bart. You are casing me to think and work. :) Iron is sharpening iron. I know I appear stubborn, but I'm truly not unless I'm really convinced of something as I am here. I have been a student of yours as well believe it or not. As well as Nathan. History is a great thing to know and it's good there are teachers of Christian history.

Debbie said...

You said: What you have said of Gill could equally be said of Hussey, Skepp, Brine, etc.

I say: True. Point well taken. I do know Gill fought as hard against these heresies as CH Spurgeon fought against Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism.

Debbie said...

From what I had understood, every church(not every person in the churches, that would be an overstatement) fell to this except the Particular Baptists. The information I have could be wrong. I am trying hard to keep things accurate.

Debbie said...

Bart said: "But he did not believe that it was the duty of the non-elect to believe savingly upon Christ"

What more proof do you need that this statement is simply not true. I cannot for the life of me understand where you come to this conclusion having been shown and ignoring completely all that I have given. Whether you acknowledge it or not, this simply is not true. I believe that there are some chosen to accept Christ, who are rescued and those who are not. They cannot understand the Bible apart from God's supernatural intervention. That my friend is Calvinism. Not hyper. Duty faith is a part of that. Calvinists know this. Repentance comes after salvation. It's the cause not the affect. That too is a given. To charge that as being hyper is to not know Calvinism.

We preach the gospel to all because we do not know who the elect are. That would be in Gill's beliefs as well. That is a given.

Debbie said...

You said: What you have said of Gill could equally be said of Hussey, Skepp, Brine, etc.


You are simply doing a guilt by association. He was with them, he was not one of them.

selahV said...

Debbie: You wrote: "Selah: I try to ignore you and you keep going down the path of strawman arguments. What is your purpose? No, Carey's 7 years was not due to his theology. I believe it was due to God's timing. We plant the seed according to Paul, it's God that does the growing. Now back to ignoring."
Here's how you ignore someone:

selahV said...

Debbie: And how to acknowledge someone is not to be rude to them. I was speaking with Allen regarding to Carey. If you don't like what I have to say, then you don't have to read my comments.
As to the "strawman" comment...I have no idea what you are talking about. My purpose was simply to ask a question. You have chosen to answer my question to Allen with your normal Debbie style. I simply take what you say and file it with other things you say. In my Debbie file folder. selahV
P.S. Don't worry about talking with me again. I don't seek conversation with people who I find I am offensive to and cannot figure out why. Grace to you and truce to future comments. I won't address yours and you don't have to address mine. We'll just agree to never agree with each other...okay? That way we don't ever have to address the other's comments in anyway shape or form. :) selahV

selahV said...

Volfan: so any time a person uses a metaphor, analogy, or illustration to better communicate, THAT is a strawman? Lord, I'm toast! Opps...is toast a strawman? selahV :)

volfan007 said...

selah,

you may use a straw man any time you like. its a-ok with me. besides, if you will scroll up you will see that i am argueing for using straw men in trying to prove a point.

david

Bob Cleveland said...

I''ll confess I came late to the party cuz of what Debbie said on hers. But having been a studying presbyterian for some years, I can't just not say anything at all.

First, referring to leading people who are under a "sense of sin and guilt" ... we called that conviction ... I think we've all seen or suspected the results of leading someone in the "sinner's prayer" when there is no sign of that sense. Of conviction. When I was first taking training on how to be an effective witness, we were cautioned not to "pick green fruit". That is, if we led someone to pray who had no conviction of sin, we might be immunizing them against the gospel, rather winning their soul for the Lord.

Second, we don't get to know who is under conviction until and unless we talk to them about the gospel and at least have a chance to discern. We were never told that there was anyone to whom we were not to present the gospel. The parable of the sower and the seed was used as an example ... the sower sowed seed on all those places, some of which were obviously not good soil (the path, rocky ground), yet there was no condemnation of "wasting seed".

I think that applies to us.

selahV said...

Volfan: I understand exactly what you mean. I just didn't understand what another person meant. I suppose in the future when I ask a question, I should preface it with the fact that it is not a strawman. Lord, I hate that term. I'm gonna go write a blog about it. selahV

selahV said...

Dr. Yarnell, a friend emailed me a comment you made regarding a straw man on another blog. I've written a post about a straw man and wonder if you could share your expertise on the subject with me. since you have no website, I suppose, I ask you to visit my space for a spell whenever you get a chance. No hurry. I've written another post since the Straw Man. But you can find it if you scroll down on my blog. Thanks. selahV at http://selahvtoday.typepad.com

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

To SelahV:

You wrote: "I really got the impression that Calvinists did believe folks didn't need to be preached to. In fact, as I understand the reformed church, they don't see any need of altar calls either as in reaching lost people."

I certainly can see how the common Calvinistic policy of opposing "Alter Calls" would give the impression of being Anti-Evangelistic. In fact, most Christians are horrified that some "so-called" Christians, would actually oppose a Gospel "Invitation."

Calvinist, James White, writes: "Jesus does not seek to ‘woo’ them to a ‘freewill decision,’ nor does He strike up a lengthy invitation hymn and try to overcome their stubborn rejection of truth through an emotional appeal.” (Debating Calvinism, pp.121-122, emphasis mine)

Many Calvinists, like James White, oppose the "Alter Call" on the grounds of "Decisional Regeneration," such that people can somehow make a "decision" for Christ that results in being regenerated to new life in Christ. (2Cor 5:17) Calvinism, instead, teaches that regeneration is independent of human decision, such that certain "elect" people are involunarily and unconsciously made Born Again in order to make a decision for Christ. Other Calvinists simply say that they oppose the Alter Call because they feel that it gives the false impression that all that you need to do is say a prayer, walk an isle, and that's the end of it. They term this: Easy Believe-ism. However, this is a Straw Man Argument because Arminian preachers do not say to their congregation, "Now that you've made a decision for Christ, that's all that you need to do." The favorite tactic of a Calvinist at this point, is to point fingers to someone like Joel Osteen, so that they somehow feel empowered to say that all Arminian preachers are just like him. In fact, Calvinists frequently look upon the church growth of non-Calvinist churches with a degree of skepticism. Or perhaps...the Calvinists in Jacksonville, FL, to whom I refer, are completely different than all the other Calvinists in the world. :)

In my opinion, I think that there is something fundamentally Satanic about Calvinists who openly oppose an Alter Call and a Gospel Invitation to receive Christ. Remember that Jesus said that a tree will be known by its fruit.

selahV said...

ExaminingCalvinism: whoa. "satanic?" I would say that is a very potent word to describe people who find it unnecessary to have an altar call. Can you tell me where is the scriptural basis for alter calls? Does John Gill have anything to say about alter calls? While I am a wholehearted supporter of alter calls, I'm not a proponent of long excessive drawn out coercive alter calls--in which a pastor guilts people into moving.

I've been to both kinds of services where I saw pastors not have an invitation to accept Jesus and those who pounded, coerced and literally begged. I'm not comfortable with either scenario. However, I do wonder why it is taboo among Calvinists in general. Where does this fall in the kind of Calvinist one is? Hyper vs. ?? thanks, selahV

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

SelahV,

Thanks for pointing that out. By no means did I intend to convey the meaning that Christian Calvinists are satanic. Rather, I feel that the policy of opposing Alter Calls is satanic because Satan hates seeing the lost become saved. Therefore, anything that lines up with the will of Satan is satanic.

I attended a Calvinist church that wouldn't have an "Alter Call" or an "Invitation" to receive the Gospel, but instead, the pastor would say, "If anyone has any questions, they can see the Pastor afterwards."

My father rededicated his life to the Lord at a Billy Graham conference, where he made the public decision to go forward to pray with Billy Graham at the alter. If God receives glory from such Alter Calls, then a policy that denounces Alter Calls robs God of His glory, and anything that robs God of His glory is satanic.

By the way, I'm not suggesting that Calvinists are not evangelists. I know of several Calvinists that are evangelists who have led people to Christ who are in our Bible Study.

As for Gill's policy on Alter Calls, I do not know.

selahV said...

EXAMININGCALVINISM: Thanks for your gracious response. Sometimes a little explanation of clarity goes a long way in the sterility of Blogland. While I agree that anything that lines up with satanic rationale is suspect, I'd have to understand why people do what they do, and why they eliminate or add various things to their church policies in order to make any judgement on the subject. I've been trying to understand this particular difference between me and Calvinists since I first discovered this was part of reformed thinking. Perhaps our host here will enlighten us to the history of Baptists in this area of Southern Baptist life in a future post. We've gone way off topic on this stream.

Thanks for your indulgence, Bart. selahV

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

SelahV,

I'd like to see Peter also take up the topic of Alter Calls, especially from its historical perspective.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Bart:

You wrote: "Unfortunately, Arminianism fails to take election seriously, understates the reality of depravity (IMHO), and has served as a Petri dish for some of the most abominable of Christian heresies."

1) Have you ever heard the Arminian teaching on Election? If so, please describe to me your understanding of Arminian election. (Adrian Rogers IMO does an excellent job explaining the Arminian perspective on Election.)

2) Did you know that Classical Arminianism affirms Total Depravity? The divergence occurs when the solution to Total Depravity is presented. Is it Irresistible Grace or Prevenient Grace? Is the power of the "living and active," faith-producing Gospel sufficient to open blind eyes? Or, is the Gospel "dead and inactive" apart from Irresistible Grace?

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Bart:

Do you believe that God the Father had an eternal flock of sheep, whom alone He has predestined to become Christians, while passing by the rest, just like the Levite and Priest similarly "passed by" the wounded man on the side of the Jericho road?

rjs1 said...

Interesting discussion!

FYI: http://johngillstudy.wordpress.com/

Steve Finnell said...

DOES GOD ARBITRARILY BESTOW FAITH?

Many believe that Ephesians 2:8 teaches that God arbitrarily bestows faith on a selected few so they can believe and be saved. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.(NKJV)

Salvation is the gift of God, not faith. The gift God gives is forgiveness from sin.

How do men receive faith?

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.(NKJV)

Faith comes from hearing the gospel preached. Faith is not arbitrarily dispatched to a chosen few.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greeks,

Salvation is attained by believing the gospel. Salvation is not predetermined by God and forced on a select few by forcing them to have faith and be saved.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God , it pleased God through the foolishness of the messaged preached to save those who believe.(NKJV)

God saves men through preaching the gospel. God does not preselect men and the force them to have faith so they will be saved.

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but that the wrath of God abides on him."(NKJV)

If God imputes faith to all who believe, why would those who do not believe receive the wrath of God. Non-believers would have no responsibility nor capability to believed and be saved.

1 John 3:20-23....And this is His commandment: that we we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.(NKJV)

Why would God command us to believe on His Son Jesus Christ if we are not capable of believing, unless He arbitrarily bestows that faith on non-believers?

Jesus said "He who believes and is baptized will be saved.."(Mark 16:16) Jesus did not say God will give you the gift of faith so you can believe, be baptized and be saved.


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