Scott Clark believes that denying the “Free Fffer of the gospel” makes one a hyper-Calvinist. His article can be found here: http://heidelblog.net/2013/12/hyper-calvinism-rationalism-and-anti-predestinarians/
Furthermore, Clark insists that John Murray “wrote one of the best defenses of the free offer in recent times”, even though Murray confused the universality of Christ’s dominion with the exclusivity of Christ’s priesthood (see https://cornbreadandbourbon.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/murray-reprobate-enjoy-benefits-of-christs-death/) Murray concluded that since Christ’s dominion was universal, therefore, so was His priesthood.
Clark makes no mention of this though. Of course, he doesn’t. He has an agenda.
Clark argues that predestinarians (people who believe in predestination) deny the Free Offer, because they are hyper rationalist. In other words, “they’ve set up things so that, unless they can provide a comprehensive explanation of how something works, it can’t be.” From Clark’s point of view, these predestinarians deny the “mystery” of “how God can both predestine the elect and the reprobate and freely offer salvation to all.” That’s right, folks. “Offer salvation to all.”
Clark’s reasoning for accepting the Free Offer is that “the mainstream of orthodox Calvinism has always embraced the mystery and paradox of the offer.” The question then for Clark is not, is it Biblical? Rather, the question is, do other mainstream Calvinists believe it? Because if other mainstream Calvinists believe it, then by golly Clark is going to accept it too.
Following his accusation of mainstream Calvinism, he then commits the first of his straw men. He quotes from the Synod of Dort.
“Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes I Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.” – Canons of Dort, 2.5
Notice that we have now suddenly bait and switched from defining hyper-Calvinism as the denial of the “Free Offer of the Gospel” to defining hyper-Calvinism as the refusal to preach the gospel to all men.
Clark is deceiving his readers. He wants us to think that the “Free Offer of the Gospel” means preaching the gospel to all men. Clark knows full well that this is NOT what the “Free Offer” teaches. Do not be deceived by the Wikipedia article either. Here is the Free Offer doctrine as stated in the very minutes of the Fifteenth General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1948:
“There is in God a benevolent lovingkindness towards the repentance and salvation of even those whom he has not decreed to save. This pleasure, will, desire is expressed in the universal call to repentance. The full and free offer of the gospel is a grace bestowed upon all. Such grace is necessarily a manifestation of love or lovingkindness in the heart of God, and this lovingkindness is revealed to be of a character or kind that is correspondent with the grace bestowed. The grace offered is nothing less than salvation in its richness and fulness. The love or lovingkindness that lies back of that offer is not anything less; it is the will to salvation. In other words, it is Christ in all the glory of his person and in all the perfection of his finished work whom God offers in the gospel. The loving and benevolent will that is the source of that offer and that grounds, it veracity and reality is the will to the possession of Christ and the enjoyment of the salvation that resides in him.”
The “Free Offer” teaches that God loves all men, even the non-elect. The “Free Offer” also teaches that God desires to save all men, including those whom He will not save. The “Free Offer” also teaches that Christ died for all men, including even the non-elect, but in a non-saving way. Furthermore, the “Free Offer” also teaches that all men, both elect and non-elect alike, receive certain blessings and benefits of Christ’s death, some of those benefits being non-salvific, and some of those benefits being salvific, depending on whether one is elect or non-elect. The “Free Offer” teaches that upon the notion that Christ’s death benefits all men in some form or fashion, the message that Christ died for all men is to be therefore preached to all men.
Are you thoroughly confused and calling this Arminianism right about now? If you are, then good, because that is exactly what it is. Yet the overwhelming majority of today’s Calvinists, like R Scott Clark for example, believe it is absolutely true.
Here is a brief breakdown to help you understand better what is going on should you still be confused:
Free Offer of the Gospel
1. Christ died for all men
2. His death for some men saves them
3. His death for other men does not save them
4. His death brings benefits of salvation to some men
5. His death brings benefits not including salvation to other men
6. All men are to be told that Christ died for them
The True Gospel
1. Christ died only for His elect to save only His elect.
2. Only His elect shall be saved, for Christ died only for them.
3. ALL MEN are to be told that God commands them to believe this is true.
4. Only the elect shall believe it.
What Clark does is what most of these Free Offer guys do; he straw mans his opposition. That is, he insists that if you disagree with him, then you must therefore believe that all men should not be told that God commands them to believe the gospel.
The true hyper-Calvinist does indeed believe that only the elect should hear the gospel. The folks at Westboro Baptist are one such example. However, the vast majority of those who deny the Free Offer do not fit this category. Time and time and time again, David Englesma, Herman Hoeksema and all the folks in the Reformed Protestant Church have stated that the gospel must be preached to all men. ALL MEN! Yet time and time and time again, men like Clark and Murray have disingenuously and deceitfully ignored this, and have instead continued to play their little game of bait and switch; first defining hyper-Calvinism one way, and then defining it another.
Clark shows us his mind when he argues that we can accept mystery because “we distinguish between the way God knows things and the way we know things.”
This is nothing more than Van Tillian doublespeak. Cornelius Van Til insisted that man’s knowledge and God’s knowledge never intersect at any point. Gordon Clark proved this to be what it is – gobbedlygoo. If I cannot know that what God means by things like crucifixion is what I mean by crucifixion, then I have no basis for ever knowing that I believe what God has commanded me to believe!
What Scott Clark is really trying to say, but is just too cowardly to say, is that he believes all Clarkians are hyper-Calvinists. But the deceit does not stop here.
Consider that Scott Clark has just spent a number of paragraphs in his article criticizing some of the speakers and their speeches at the John 3:16 Conference. He then writes this most amazing sentence:
“I have not listened to the lectures from the John 3:16 conference, but I have seen some of the fallout on the web and I have had lots of discussions with anti-predestinarians.”
Are you kidding me?
He criticizes the speakers at the John 3:16 Conference WITHOUT HAVING EVER LISTENED TO A SINGLE WORD ANY OF THESE SPEAKERS SAID!
Instead, he reads a few online comments from “anti-predestinarians” (ARMINIANS!), and then upon the basis of these comments decides to criticize some speeches at a conference that he has not heard one word of?
Am I supposed to take this man’s argument seriously?
Would Scott Clark like it if I were to criticize him upon the basis of what someone on the internet said about him?
Not only has Scott Clark proved that he is a dishonest man with an agenda, but he has also brought into question everything he has ever written or said. Every article and essay I read by Clark from this point forward is going to be punctuated with the thought, did this man actually bother to read what his opposition has said here? It certainly does not appear that he has read anything Gordon Clark, David Englesma, or even Herman Hoeksema has written concerning God’s knowledge and the Free Offer. If he has, then his dishonesty really knows no bounds.