Background on the PRC 1953 Split, Protestant Reformed Churches

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SinnerSavedByChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
The 1953 Protestant Reformed Church Split Revisited - written by Tim de Wolf, son of Hubert de Wolf - the minister accused by Hoeksema and Hanko of heresy.

Chapter 6: The Marrow Controversy - an article by the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) against the faithful Scots of the Marrow controversy, including Thomas Boston, Ralph Erskine etc, who espoused the teachings of Edward Fisher's Marrow of modern Divinity

For those of you are wondering why I am posting this, it is because there are only 2 psalm-singing churches in Brisbane. One of them is entirely aligned with the doctrines of the PRC (Darra Evangelical Presbyterian Church). Having talked to the elders there, I wanted to find out how the PRC ended up with such a warped view of the Free Offer & the goodness of God/common love of God for this world etc.

I hope this can help anyone searching for information on the PRC in the future. I found few threads with good information on what the PRC believed versus orthodox Reformed.

See also on the doctrinal errors of the PRC at:
A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism
A Puritan's Mind » The Black List – Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The PRC is home to many fine Christians. I know a few of them personally.

Disagreement with their emphases is permissible on this board. Disparaging them in general is not.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Michael,

To see the reasoning of the PRC in this for yourself and not second-hand, you might look at David Engelsma's work, Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel: An Examination of the Well-Meant Gospel Offer.

I have considered this position for a number of years, and certainly do not see it as warped. I certainly do not agree with all the PRC's views, but your well may have been poisoned by Mr. de Wolf on this one.

It would be well to take a look at where the CRC is today (against which the PRC stood), and to consider that the issue of “Common Grace” as understood by many signifies a non-salvific love and grace of God which enables the reprobate wicked to develop and contribute to a culture which will be God-honoring. I do not believe this. The PRC (and others) believe that the apostatizing of the CRC was effected by the highway of Common Grace – supposedly meant to impact the world culture for Christ – becoming a one-way avenue in the opposite direction.

An excerpt from the above book:

The Reformed doctrine of the preaching of the gospel must sail between the Scylla of hyper-Calvinism and the Charybdis of Arminianism. On the one hand, is the rock of hyper-Calvinism which denies that the call of the gospel comes in all seriousness to everyone who hears the preaching, elect and reprobate alike. On the other hand is the whirlpool of Arminianism which makes the preaching a well-meant offer of God to all who hear. The Reformed view and practice of preaching must neither be smashed on the one or swallowed up by the other.

We have already defended the Reformed conception of preaching against hyper-Calvinism. It remains to give account of Reformed preaching against objections raised by those who maintain a free offer.

Those who advocate a well-meant offer of grace insist that the offer is essential for free, unfettered preaching, especially for preaching directed to the unconverted in missions. They argue that the denial of an offer inhibits missions, or evangelism, by restricting the call of the gospel. Their argument seems to be, first, that a church or preacher that does not believe that God is gracious to all men will not desire, or dare, to preach to all men; second, that this church or preacher will not have a message to bring to every man; and third, that such a church or preacher will be unable to call every man, urgently and seriously, to repent of his sins and believe in Jesus Christ...

The proof of the Reformed position is evident to all. The apostle Paul was an avowed, ardent predestinarian, holding double predestination, election and reprobation (Rom. 9). As a predestinarian, he did not believe, nor did he ever preach, that God loved all men, was gracious to all men, and desired the salvation of all men, that is, he did not believe, teach, or give the well-meant offer of the gospel. On the contrary, the apostle believed and proclaimed that God loved and chose unto salvation some men, and some men only (Rom. 9:11-13; 21-24; 11:5), hating and reprobating others (Rom. 9:13; 21,22). He taught that God is gracious only to the elect (Rom. 9:15; II Tim. 1:9), enduring, blinding, and hardening others (Rom. 9:22; 9:18; 11:7). He held that the preaching of the gospel, so far from being grace to all hearers, is a savor of death unto death to some (II Cor. 2:15, 16), in accordance with God's purpose in bringing the Word to them, which purpose is not a saving purpose, but the purpose to render them inexcusable and harden them (Rom. 9:18; cf. also Jesus' words in John 12:37-41).

Paul did not regard the preaching of the gospel as an offer of salvation to everyone, directed to everyone in a universal love of God and providing everyone with a chance to be saved. Instead, he viewed the preaching of the gospel as the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), as the creative call of God that calls the things that be not as though they were (Rom. 4:17), and as the mighty voice of the risen Christ that raises the dead (II Tim. 1:10). Such a quickening, renewing, and enlightening power is the preaching unto God's elect. This is true, not merely because it turns out to be the case that only the elect are saved by the gospel, but because God in the sovereignty of His grace limits the gospel as a saving power to the elect. The preaching of the gospel as the power of God unto salvation is dependent on and governed by God's eternal decree of predestination. Romans 8:30 teaches this: "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called." God sends the gospel as a saving power only to those whom He has predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, and the gospel efficaciously saves everyone to whom it is so directed...​
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
A P.S. to this, Michael. When I would preach publicly (to all, inside and outside the church walls) I would speak of the penalty due those who broke God's Law, the mercy of God in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the penalty of their sin upon Himself, and, risen, with authority to forgive sinners who come to Him, give them eternal life, and keep those who come to Him. I would do this promiscuously, heralding the Good News to all, yet realizing that only the elect would come. Wherever I may preach in the future, I preach to all, the while knowing that as I fish for men it is the elect I am really fishing for, although I seek to cast the gospel net over all. Can you find fault in this? I believe it is the PRC view as well.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I feel it is necessary to point out that the EPC Australia strictly subscribes to the Westminster Standards and that their theology and practice is faithful to those standards. There has always been difference of opinion on the Marrow and its particular teachings amongst confessional Presbyterians. One's stance on the Marrow and its issues is not indicative of orthodoxy. I personally think the Marrow is well acquitted in the defence given of it by Thomas Boston, but I can sympathise with those who feel its language is liable to be taken in an unhealthy direction.

The PRC America is a different denomination to the EPC Australia with different standards and history. As far as I can tell, they are faithful in their own unique way to their confessional heritage. One must deny the duty of all men to believe in order to be hyper-Calvinist, but it seems clear from the witness of the PRC that they call upon all men to believe. It is therefore misrepresentation to classify their teaching as hyper-Calvinist. Their literature indicates that they reject there is an "offer" of Christ to all men in the gospel but that is another class of discussion altogether, and one which mainly concerns the proper definition of terms rather than anything substantially connected with the preaching of the gospel.

Brethren need to start making an effort to understand and work alongside of each other in the conservative reformed world. Misrepresentation destroys the ability of brethren to bear witness for Christ. If the testimony of the Lord has laid hold of us so as to make us its servants we should seek to strengthen, not weaken, the hands of those who labour on its behalf.
 

alhembd

Puritan Board Freshman
I feel it is necessary to point out that the EPC Australia strictly subscribes to the Westminster Standards and that their theology and practice is faithful to those standards. There has always been difference of opinion on the Marrow and its particular teachings amongst confessional Presbyterians. One's stance on the Marrow and its issues is not indicative of orthodoxy. I personally think the Marrow is well acquitted in the defence given of it by Thomas Boston, but I can sympathise with those who feel its language is liable to be taken in an unhealthy direction.

Dear Matthew,

It is very good to hear you affirming your commitment to the free offer of the Gospel, and to the theology of the Marrowmen. Admittedly, Fisher used some ill-advised terminology ('Christ is dead for all men' - Christ isn't dead for all men, HE IS ALIVE)...But that aside, I agree with you; the Marrowmen are overall vindicated.

Oddly enough, I hear rumours in Jerusalem that you deny the free offer. I knew those rumours to be nonsense. I do not understand how people get such crazy ideas.

I might point out, however, that the Protestant Reformed Church seriously deviates from the historic Reformed faith. Some of their 'defenses' are quite childish and erroneous. For example: they insist that the term 'offer' does not occur in the canons of Dort. Herman Hoeksema then appeals to the underlying Dutch word to support his claim.

The error in Hoeksema's logic, however, is manifest in the following: the Canons of Dort were not written in Dutch! They were written in Latin! In the Latin, the Canons plainly use the word 'ofero'.

I met David Engelsma personally once. He is not sound. He does not know the original languages. He insisted to me that 'God has NO disposition of kindness toward the reprobate whatsoever.' He then reiterated that claim in a typewritten letter.

I pointed out to him that the Scripture says otherwise. "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4) In the original Greek, the word for 'goodness' is χρηστότητος (Rom 2:4 SCR), which means 'kindness'. The famed Liddell-Scott lexicon defines χρηστὀτητος as 'goodness of heart, kindness'. So, the Word of God says that God shows kindness, to whom? To those who despise it! To those who go on to be eternally condemned at the judgment seat. Verse 5 of Romans 2 goes on to say: "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." (Romans 2:5)

So, then: God shows kindness to many who proceed to despise it! Many of these despise it to the very death. As Paul himself said above, "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." Those who do such are whom? The reprobate. Those to whom God showed kindness.

I then also proved to Reverend Engelsma that Calvin asserted that God shows kindness to the reprobate.

Engelsma entirely dodged the question of the Greek. (He doesn't know it!) With regards to Calvin, he came back with something to this effect:

'You know we hold the Genevan Reformer in the highest regard, but we do not subscribe to his every expression.' He then went to to claim (falsely) that the Three Forms of Unity oppose Calvin.

Engelsma's writings have a specious show of academia, but in reality, he is a very poor scholar.

Al Hembd
Jerusalem, Israel
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Dear Albert,

I agree with everything you say, but I think it is important to see the PRC within their confessional heritage. As with the FPs in Scotland, their historic orthodox stance should be encouraged, especially in light of the preservation of truth and godliness amidst apostasy. Thanks to the Westminster Standards, the evangelical revivals, and the Disruption influence, we enjoy a rich heritage which perhaps makes it somewhat easier for us to appreciate some of these points.

I didn't think I knew anyone in Jerusalem but thankyou for thinking charitably and giving me the benefit of the doubt. The misunderstanding might arise because I reject the idea of a counter-factual and ineffectual desire in God for the salvation of the reprobate. Notwithstanding I preach and offer Christ as the all-sufficient Saviour of sinners, and make that offer to all men indiscriminately, teaching that whosoever will may come and excluding none that will come unto Him.

May God bless your labours for His glory!
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
Whilst there are a number of issues that I would contest over with the PRC,the
denial of the free offer of the gospel and common grace would not be amongst them.
To charge them with Hyper Calvinism on these two counts as some do, shows a lack of
understanding as to the meaning of it. Anyway, I would recommend two treatments of the
subject under discussion that are enlightening. "The Biblical Offer of the Offer of the Gospel"
by Rev Chris.J. Connors of EPC Australia.( His answer to Rev K.W. Stebbins book, "Christ Freely
Offered.") And the other is a Lecture given to the James Begg Society by Dr Jonathan More, entitled,
English Hypothetical Universalism and its Influence on Scottish Marrow Controversy. It is an eye
opener to what some leading Puritans believed as well as Usher.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
I can't recall when I came across these quotes (probably some 10 years ago), but here is the language of Calvin as it pertains to the 'positive' element of the free offer and common grace. There is more that could be said as it relates to double predestination and reprobation in Calvin, but that may be off topic. I, with my dear brother Rev. Winzer, agree that there is no unfulfilled desire on the part of God for the reprobate to be saved. Rev. Winzer is absolutely correct in his assessment in the paper he wrote some time ago on the subject. The problem with the PRC, as I see it, is that they view almost everything of theological consequence through the lens of 1924 and the CRC, which gives them a very narrow window of perspective. Forward or backward in time, they relate almost everything, as it pertains to the 'language' of common and grace and the free offer from this axiom. This has created an enormous blind-spot when it comes to the biblical language of both the Cannons, and Calvin himself. I would commend to you the debate some years ago between Hanko and Silversides on Common Grace (1, 2, 3). Silversides handily wins the debate and exposes the flaws of the PRC in this regard. Having said that, Silversides probably goes beyond Calvin himself, contending, it seems, for a Murray/Stonehouse position.


John Calvin on the Free Offer of the Gospel and Common Grace
From His Books, and Commentary on the Bible

He calls all men to himself, without a single exception, and gives Christ to all, that we may be illumined by him. (Isaiah 3:295)

When we pray, we ought, according to the rule of charity, to include all. (Jeremiah 2:248)

God invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the Gospel, but the ingratitude of the world is the reason why this grace, which is equally offered to all, is enjoyed by few. (Synoptic Gospels 1:116)

As no man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open to all men; neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief. (Acts 1:92)

Though it is offered to all for salvation, it does not yield this fruit in any but the elect. (Synoptic Gospel. 2:257)

God shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to faith in Christ ...For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. (John 1:125)

... the end and design of public teaching...that all should in common be called; but God's purpose is different; for he intends, according to his own secret counsel, to draw to himself the elect, and he designs to take away all excuse from the reprobate. (Joel- Obadiah 252)

Paul makes grace common to all men, not because it in fact extends to all, but because it is offered to all. (Romans 117-118)

Christ ... kindles for all indiscriminately the torch of his gospel; but all have not the eyes of their minds opened to see it, but on the contrary Satan spreads the veil of blindness over many. (General Epistles 273-274)

God commands [the gospel] to be offered indiscriminately to all. (Genesis 1:503)

[God]...commands his threatenings to be proposed to the elect, and reprobate, in common. (Genesis 1:255)

God's mercy is offered for the worst of men. (Four Last Books of Moses 3:240)

It is our duty to pray for all who trouble us; to desire the salvation of all men. (Psalm 4:283)


The gospel is to be preached indiscriminately to the elect and to the reprobate: but the elect alone come to Christ, because they have been taught of God. (Isaiah 4:146)

God offers his word indiscriminately to the good and bad; but it works by his spirit in the elect…as to the reprobate…it renders them without excuse. (Ezekiel 1:113)

It is true that Saint John saith generally, that [God] loved the world. And why? For Jesus Christ offereth himself generally to all men without exception to be their redeemer... (Sermons on Deuteronomy, p.167)

…Jesus Christ reacheth out his arms to call and allure all men both great and small, and to win them to him. (ibid. p.167)


After having spoken concerning his grace, and exhorted his disciples to steady faith, he now begins to strike the rebellious, though even here he mitigates the severity due to the wickedness of those who deliberately — as it were — reject God; for he delays to pronounce judgment on them, because, on the contrary, he has come for the salvation of all. In the first place, we ought to understand that he does not speak here of all unbelievers without distinction, but of those who, knowingly and willingly, reject the doctrine of the Gospel which has been exhibited to them. Why then does Christ not choose to condemn them? It is because he lays aside for a time the office of a judge, and offers salvation to all without reserve, and stretches out his arms to embrace all, that all may be the more encouraged to repent. And yet there is a circumstance of no small moment, by which he points out the aggravation of the crime, if they reject an invitation so kind and gracious, for it is as if he had said, "Lo, I am here to invite all, and, forgetting the character of a judge, I have this as my single object, to persuade all, and to rescue from destruction those who are already twice ruined." No man, therefore, is condemned on account of having despised the Gospel, except he who, disdaining the lovely message of salvation, has chosen of his own accord to draw down destruction on himself. (Comment on John 12:47)

Hitherto he addressed the Jews alone, as if to them alone salvation belonged, but now he extends his discourse farther. He invites the whole world to the hope of salvation, and at the same time brings a charge of ingratitude against all the nations, who, being devoted to their errors, purposely avoided, as it were, the light of life; for what could be more base than to reject deliberately their own salvation? He therefore commands all "to look to him," and to the precept adds a promise, which gives it greater weight, and confirms it more than if he had made use of a bare command. (Comments on Isaiah 45:22)

It would have done us no good for Christ to have been given by the Father as the author of salvation, if He had not been available to all without distinction...We should know that salvation is openly displayed to all the human race, for in all reality He is called son of Noah and son of Adam... (Comment on Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3: 23-38)

Seeing that in His Word He calls all alike to salvation, and this is the object of preaching, that all should take refuge in His faith and protection, it is right to say that He wishes all to gather to Him. Now the nature of the Word shows us that here there is no description of the secret counsel of God - just His wishes. Certainly those whom He wishes effectively to gather, He draws inwardly by His Spirit, and calls them not merely by man's outward voice. If anyone objects that it is absurd to split God's will, I answer that this is exactly our belief, that His will is one and undivided: but because our minds cannot plumb the profound depths of His secret election to suit our infirmity, the will of God is set before us as double. (Comment on Matthew 23:37)

Happy Mary, to have embraced in her heart the promise of God, to have conceived and brought into the world for herself and for all - salvation...God offers His benefits to all without distinction, but faith opens our arms to draw them to our bosom: lack of faith lets them fall, before they reach us. (Comment on Luke 1:45)

And when he says the sin of the world he extends this kindness indiscriminately to the whole human race, that the Jews might not think the Redeemer has been sent to them alone...John, therefore, by speaking of the sin of the world in general, wanted to make us feel our own misery and exhort us to seek the remedy. Now it is for us to embrace the blessing offered to all, that each may make up his mind that there is nothing to hinder him from finding reconciliation in Christ if only, led by faith, he comes to Him. (Comment on John 1:29)

It is no small consolation to godly teachers that, although the larger part of the world does not listen to Christ, He has His sheep whom He knows and by whom He is also known. They must do their utmost to bring the whole world into Christ's fold, but when they do not succeed as they would wish, they must be satisfied with the single thought that those who are sheep will be collected together by their work. (Comment on John 10:27)

51. He openly declares that He does not pray for the world, for He is solicitous only for His own flock [the disciples] which He received from the Father's hand. But this might seem absurd; for no better rule of prayer can be found than to follow Christ as our Guide and Teacher. But we are commanded to pray for all, and Christ Himself afterwards prayed for all indiscriminately, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' I reply, the prayers which we utter for all are still limited to God's elect. We ought to pray that this and that and every man may be saved and so embrace the whole human race, because we cannot yet distinguish the elect from the reprobate...we pray for the salvation of all whom we know to have been created in God's image and who have the same nature as ourselves; and we leave to God's judgment those whom He knows to be reprobate. (Comment on John 17:9)



Because God does not work effectually in all men, but only when the Spirit shines in our hearts as the inward teacher, he adds to every one that believeth. The Gospel is indeed offered to all for their salvation, but its power is not universally manifest...When, therefore, the Gospel invites all to partake of salvation without any difference, it is rightly termed the doctrine of salvation. For Christ is there offered, whose proper office is to save that which had been lost, and those who refuse to be saved by Him shall find Him their Judge. (Comment on Romans 1:16)

Paul makes grace common to all men, not because it in fact extends to all, but because it is offered to all. Although Christ suffered for the sins of the world, and is offered by the goodness of God without distinction to all men, yet not all receive him. (Comment on Romans 5:18)

"The mercy of God is offered equally to those who believe and to those who believe not, so that those who are not Divinely taught within are rendered inexcusable" ("The Eternal Predestination of God" p. 95).

Hence, we conclude that, though reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect, that they may be gathered into the society of life. However, while I say it is offered to all, I do not mean that this embassy, by which on Paul's testimony (2 Cor. 5:18) God reconciles the world to Himself, reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual. (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp. 148-9)

God indeed declares, that he would have all men to repent, and addresses exhortations in common to all; their efficacy, however, depends on the Spirit of regeneration. (Institutes 3:3:21)

The expression of our Saviour, "Many are called, but few are chosen," (Matthew 22:14,) is also very improperly interpreted, (see Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12.) There will be no ambiguity in it, if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear, viz., that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savour of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. (Institutes 3:24:8)

But if it is so, (you will say,) little faith can be put in the Gospel promises, which, in testifying concerning the will of God, declare that he wills what is contrary to his inviolable decree. Not at all; for however universal the promises of salvation may be, there is no discrepancy between them and the predestination of the reprobate, provided we attend to their effect. We know that the promises are effectual only when we receive them in faith, but, on the contrary, when faith is made void, the promise is of no effect. If this is the nature of the promises, let us now see whether there be any inconsistency between the two things, viz., that God, by an eternal decree, fixed the number of those whom he is pleased to embrace in love, and on whom he is pleased to display his wrath, and that he offers salvation indiscriminately to all. I hold that they are perfectly consistent, for all that is meant by the promise is, just that his mercy is offered to all who desire and implore it, and this none do, save those whom he has enlightened. Moreover, he enlightens those whom he has predestinated to salvation. Thus the truth of the promises remains firm and unshaken, so that it cannot be said there is any disagreement between the eternal election of God and the testimony of his grace which he offers to believers. But why does he mention all men? Namely that the consciences of the righteous may rest the more secure when they understand that there is no difference between sinners, provided they have faith, and that the ungodly may not be able to allege that they have not an asylum to which they may retake themselves from the bondage of sin, while they ungratefully reject the offer which is made to them. Therefore, since by the Gospel the mercy of God is offered to both, it is faith, in other words, the illumination of God, which distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked, the former feeling the efficacy of the Gospel, the latter obtaining no benefit from it. Illumination itself has eternal election for its rule. (Institutes 3:24:17)

"Nor does He [Christ] contradict Himself, when inviting all without exception by the external voice, he yet declares that no man perceives anything, except it were given him from heaven, and that none come to him except those are given Him by the Father." (Secret Providence p. 68)

"On the contrary, therefore, Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it." (Comments on John 6:44)

"For we know that the greatest number persisteth in their sins, because they refuse the remedy that is offered to them in the gospel." (Sermon on Galatians 3:21-25)

"To be short, Saint Paul showeth here, that men run astray when they seek means of salvation anywhere else than in Jesus Christ, insomuch that they become forlorn and utterly past recovery. Now then seeing that God hath set us forth but only one way of salvation: they that turn aside from that, do cast themselves willfully into destruction, and Satan reigneth over them for their unthankfulness sake in despising the inestimable benefit that God offered them. What a bountifulness is it that God calleth and allureth us to his favour and love, notwithstanding that we be his deadly foes?" (Sermon on Galatians 4:11-14)

"For the gospel may well be preached to all men, even to the reprobate, but, for all that, God does not extend to them this special grace of quickening them into life." (Sermon on Ephesians 1:4-6 BOT p.48)

"As at this day when we speak of the inestimable blessing that God hath bestowed upon us, when his Gospel was preached; this same shall be preached unto all indifferently." (Sermon on Genesis 25:21-22 Old Paths Publications p.34 Sermons on Election and Reprobation)

"In the first place, he that has made that writing, were it Sebastian Chastalio or some such like: to show that God has created all the world to be saved, he alleges that he labours to draw unto him all that went astray: the which I confess in respect of the doctrine of faith and repentance, the which he propounds to all in general, be it to draw his elect unto him, or to make other inexcusable. God then calls everyone to repentance and promises all those that return unto him, to receive them to mercy. But this does not mean that he touches to the quick by his Holy Spirit, all those to whom he speaks, as it is said by Isaiah in the 53rd chapter, His arm is not revealed to all those who hear. To which agrees the sentence of our Lord Jesus Christ, None can come unto me, except my Father draw him." (An answer to a libel against Predestination)

"But to have a better understanding of this passage, we must expound what the Prophet said: "It will happen in the last days that I shall pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams." By that we must note that, although the Prophet says that the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh, nevertheless, all do not receive Him. As in fact we see that there are many who are deprived of Him. However, God calls us all, but we resist Him by our ingratitude and malice. It always remains true, that no one comes to Him but him whom He draws by His Holy Spirit. By that also it is signified to us that, if we come to Jesus Christ by faith, and we hold it in true humility, we shall receive gifts of His Spirit so abundantly that we shall be able to communicate them to our neighbors. That, then, is how Jesus Christ calls all of us in general; however, it is very necessary that we come to Him; for we refuse this benefit which is presented to us. Why? Inasmuch as we render ourselves unworthy of it, preferring to give ourselves to our vanities rather than to the fear of God. Now since it is true that many do not receive the gifts which are presented to them, although they are all called, one could ask why the Prophet speaks thus. But he wished to take such a generality to show that from all conditions and from all ages of people He will bring them into His knowledge; also, because now God makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile; for the Holy Spirit by His power works through all." (3rd sermon on Pentecost from Acts 2:13-17)

"Farther, although David magnifies the plenteousness of God’s mercy, yet he immediately after represents this plenteousness as restricted to the faithful who call upon him, to teach us that those who, making no account of God, obstinately chafe upon the bit, deservedly perish in their calamities. At the same time, he uses the term all, that every man, without exception, from the greatest to the least, may be encouraged confidently to betake himself to the goodness and mercy of God." (Comments on Psalm 86:5)

It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.
Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ (Commentary on John. p 106. Ages Digital Lib.).
 

alhembd

Puritan Board Freshman
Whilst there are a number of issues that I would contest over with the PRC,the
denial of the free offer of the gospel and common grace would not be amongst them.
To charge them with Hyper Calvinism on these two counts as some do, shows a lack of
understanding as to the meaning of it. Anyway, I would recommend two treatments of the
subject under discussion that are enlightening. "The Biblical Offer of the Offer of the Gospel"
by Rev Chris.J. Connors of EPC Australia.( His answer to Rev K.W. Stebbins book, "Christ Freely
Offered.") And the other is a Lecture given to the James Begg Society by Dr Jonathan More, entitled,
English Hypothetical Universalism and its Influence on Scottish Marrow Controversy. It is an eye
opener to what some leading Puritans believed as well as Usher.

By point of clarification, Jeff: Chris Conners is not PRC. He belongs to the EPC. The EPC is not in agreement with the PRC on several issues.
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
I think that I have ascribed the right denomination to Chris Connors in my post Albert, and
though he would have issues with PRC, I know he is indebted to them for the help given to his denomination
in their formative days. The correction needed is the title I gave, which is,
The Biblical Offer of the Gospel.
 

SinnerSavedByChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
The PRC is home to many fine Christians. I know a few of them personally.

Disagreement with their emphases is permissible on this board. Disparaging them in general is not.
Brother Bruce, my apologies if I have come across as disparaging. The aim was simply leaving a thread behind for anyone who would use the "Search function" to find anything on the PRC to read. If they want official Hank/Engelsma/Hoeksema information on the 1953 split, the PRCA official website has plenty to offer.

*And having chatted for some time with the founding members of the EPC, I find it quite sad that they are confessional, yet deny the free offer and common grace. And I also find it interesting that the confessions themselves don't make a definitive statement on the free offer, nor common grace. Please correct me if otherwise.*

But each needs to be accountable for what they believe, what their church publishes and how they practice their theology. There are many fine Christians in the Presbyterian Church of Queensland for example. But I wouldn't agree with everything they believe, nor the way they pay lip service to the WCF. There are fine Christians in the PRC, the EPC of Australia etc.

For those of you who are not aware, the EPC of Australia identify themselves very close to the PRC, if not identical in theology. They have very few allies in the world concerning the Hypercalvinistic ideas of 1. the denial of free offer 2. common kindness of God to all mankind. Yes these two statements constitute as hyper-calvinist, I stand with Phil Johnson's definitions here
A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:
Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR
Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
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
Denies that there is such a thing as "common grace," OR
Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.
(Phil Johnson)

I have a *feeling* from the threads I've read on puritanboard.com that according to Phil Johnson's definition, quite a few board members would be hyper-calvinists. Do not be offended - because you can simply define Hyper-calvinist in a different way!! And then you can be justified in your own definition that you are not hyper-calvinist.

Lastly, I think I lean towards Matthew Henry / Spurgeon / Murray+Stonehouse? (that report they co-authored) with regards to the free offer and common grace.

**Ironically, I will be worshipping at the Darra EPC, or the PCEA in Brisbane. These two churches will be my first choice.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
For those of you who are not aware, the EPC of Australia identify themselves very close to the PRC, if not identical in theology. They have very few allies in the world concerning the Hypercalvinistic ideas of 1. the denial of free offer 2. common kindness of God to all mankind. Yes these two statements constitute as hyper-calvinist, I stand with Phil Johnson's definitions here

Not to be that guy, but Phil Johnson hardly is an expert on the boundaries of Calvinism and what can be labeled hyper calvinism.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
For those of you who are not aware, the EPC of Australia identify themselves very close to the PRC, if not identical in theology. They have very few allies in the world concerning the Hypercalvinistic ideas of 1. the denial of free offer 2. common kindness of God to all mankind. Yes these two statements constitute as hyper-calvinist

Brother, I suggest you not lightly toss out these kinds of assertions, particularly in light of balanced and knowledgable comments such as:

One must deny the duty of all men to believe in order to be hyper-Calvinist, but it seems clear from the witness of the PRC that they call upon all men to believe. It is therefore misrepresentation to classify their teaching as hyper-Calvinist.

As for this comment:

Do not be offended - because you can simply define Hyper-calvinist in a different way!! And then you can be justified in your own definition that you are not hyper-calvinist.

I ask that you consider your tone. It does come across as offensive, especially with the apparent sarcasm that those who disagree with you and Mr. Johnson are merely twisting definitions.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I agree with everything you say, but I think it is important to see the PRC within their confessional heritage.

Another member has drawn attention to the ambiguity of my language. I feel it is important to clarify that my agreement is only with the doctrinal issues. I don't express agreement with anything which reflects poorly on specific persons. It would be good for theological discussion in general and this issue in particular if the doctrines could be discussed without bias against or favour towards individuals.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Rev. Engelsma has this reply:

Dear Mr. Rafalsky,

I have no memory of any meeting with an Albert Hembd.

If I did, I do not remember the conversation. For one to publish his recollection of private conversation as proof of his personal or theological controversy does not pass for scholarship in the circles in which I move.

Regarding my knowledge of languages, the school records will show that I majored in Greek at Calvin College, which has a good reputation for its instruction. I then took additional Greek in seminary for three years and have worked with the Greek for the 50 years of my ministry. Regarding Hebrew, I studied Hebrew in seminary for three years and taught it to numerous students for twenty years as professor in the seminary. I have worked also with Hebrew for the 50 years of my ministry. Perhaps, I still do not measure up the level of Mr. Hembd.

But my deficiency in languages is not as serious as Hembd's deficiency in theology. He confesses a grace of God toward the reprobate that is obviously saving in nature for according to the text he appeals to it is a grace that leads to repentance. The doctrine of a resistible saving grace of God to the reprobate is Arminian heresy.

As for offero in the Latin, which word the Canons do use once, it means "present, exhibit.”

Cordially,
David J. Engelsma​



Mod or Admin: perhaps this thread ought be shut down due to the nature of the attacks on persons and churches, and the likelihood of this continuing.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
perhaps this thread ought be shut down due to the nature of the attacks on persons and churches, and the likelihood of this continuing

At this point, I think it is a good idea.

We generally try not to get into discussions by proxy, and I can't see this going anywhere but in that direction.

Thread closed.
 
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