Spurgeon Assumes He’s Correct, Even If It Means the Bible has Contradictions

Assuming that whatever the taught was “the bible but not system” view of things, Spurgeon took the Arminian view of I Timothy 2:4 I quote: “You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. “All men,” they say,–”that is some men”: as if the Holy Ghost could not have said “some men” if he had meant some men. “All men,” say they; that is, some of all sorts of men”; as if the Lord could not have said “All sorts of men” if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written “all men,” and unquestionably he means all men. . . .

Spurgeon: “As it is my wish that it should be so, as it is your wish that it might be so, so it is God’s wish that all men should be saved; for, assuredly, he is not less benevolent than we are. . . . It is God’s wish that the sick should not suffer. Do you doubt it? Is it not your own wish? And yet the Lord does not work a miracle to heal every sick person. It is God’s wish that his creatures should be happy. Do you deny that? He does not interpose by any miraculous agency to make us all happy, and yet it would be wicked to suppose that he does not wish the happiness of all the creatures that he has made.”

Hugh L. Williams, in his excellent article on this sermon, gives a good reaction to Spurgeon’s assertions: “This is wrong. The Holy Ghost did not by the apostle write ‘all men.’ He wrote pantas anthropous. Now the question is what does the phrase mean.” Williams goes on to show that this means “all without distinction” rather than “all without exception.”

But hear more of what Spurgeon thinks he knows from the Bible: “God has an infinite benevolence which, nevertheless, is not in all points worked out by his infinite omnipotence; and if anybody asked me why it is not, I cannot tell…”

Spurgeon can tell you dogmatically what the Bible texts means. When contradicted (by an invented rhetorical dissent), instead of examining again his own reading, Spurgeon affirms the contradiction. and labels all dissent as rationalism: “Those who will only believe what they can reconcile will necessarily disbelieve much of divine revelation..Those who receive by faith anything which they find in the Bible will receive two things, twenty things, or twenty thousand things, though they cannot construct a theory which harmonizes them.”

mark: yes, I know that a confession is more than a system of theology, but it’s not less.

In conclusion, let me quote a “hyper Calvinist” reading— “This passage of the apostle (1 Tim. ii. 4) was long ago brought forth by the Pelagians, and handled against us with all their might. . . . I have nevertheless extorted from Pighius this much: that no one but a man deprived of his common judgment can believe that salvation was ordained by the secret counsel of God equally and indiscriminately for all men. The true meaning of Paul, however, in this passage now under consideration is clear. The apostle is exhorting that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and all that are in authority. Who does not see that the apostle here is speaking of orders of men rather than of individuals? ” (John Calvin)

Calvin: “But Paul teaches us (continues Georgius) that God would have all men to be saved. It follows, therefore, according to his understanding of that passage, either that God is disappointed in His wishes, or that all men without exception must be saved. If he should reply that God wills all men to be saved on His part, or as far as He is concerned, seeing that salvation is, nevertheless, left to the free will of each individual; I, in return, ask him why, if such be the case, God did not command the Gospel to be preached indiscriminately from the beginning of the world? why he suffered so many generations of men to wander for so many ages in all the darkness of death? ”

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7 Comments on “Spurgeon Assumes He’s Correct, Even If It Means the Bible has Contradictions”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    I don’t like the language of “two wills” or two decrees. Sure, decree can mean both law or predestination. But why not say either law or predestination? God commands people to do stuff that God has never predestined them to do. God’s command has significance even in the face of inability, but the significance is not that non-election is conditioned on the sinner. Surely, the significance of the command is not that God loves those that God does not love enough to save to elect or save from wrath.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    The Arminian ppeal to Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 is erroneous. They understand the text as Jesus’ grief over the perishing of citizens of Jerusalem whom Jesus would like to save. This would imply a love of Jesus for all the citizens of Jerusalem at that time, and a desire on the part of Jesus to save them.
    Against this misunderstanding of the text are the following considerations. First, Jesus does not declare that He desired to save all the citizens of Jerusalem. It was His will to gather Jerusalem’s children together, that is, the true, spiritual, elect Israelites in Jerusalem. And Jesus did gather them, regardless of Jerusalem’s opposition. Jerusalem in the text is the officialdom of Jerusalem, scribes, Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and the like. The children of Jerusalem are the spiritual offspring of Jerusalem by divine grace. In spite of Jerusalem’s not wanting Jesus to gather her children, Jesus did gather them, by His redeeming death and then by the gospel of the apostles. The loving will of Jesus the Messiah is not ineffectual, but efficacious. He died redemptively for Jerusalem’s children, and He converted them to Himself by the Spirit of Pentecost.

    Second, Jesus’ grief over the stubborn unbelief of Jerusalem and over Jerusalem’s impending destruction in the wrath of God does not imply a helpless love on Jesus’ part for the reprobate, ungodly leaders of the city and their wicked followers. The lament of verse 37 is in harmony with the anger and threatening of awful judgment in the preceding verses. According to verse 35, the purpose of Jesus’ sending prophets and others to Jerusalem was that upon that city might come all the righteous blood that Jerusalem shed in the past. Jesus purposed the destruction of Jerusalem with its dreadful carnage.

    What about Jesus’ grief over Jerusalem? It was NOT the grief of the Savior, who, in disregard of the predestinating purpose of His Father (and Himself as the second person of the Trinity), desired the salvation of many who would perish everlastingly in Jerusalem’s destruction. Rather, it was the grief of Him who as well as being God the Son was and is genuine man–man of sorrows. That the grand city of Jerusalem with its significance in the history of the kingdom of God should be thus hard and face impending destruction was cause of sorrow to the real man, Jesus, without any implication that He wished anything else for the city than this righteous judgment of God. It was not only the destruction of the city, with all that that portended, that grieved Jesus, but also the unbelief itself especially with regard to the Messiah, David’s great Son. David Engelsma


    David Engelsma: o regard divine sovereignty and human responsibility as a paradox is tolerable, so long as one’s view of responsibility does not in fact deny divine sovereignty. Shimei was responsible for the sin of cursing David, even though God sovereignly determined that sin: God said, “Curse David,” not with a verbal command, but by His sovereign will. God exercises His sovereignty in such a way as to establish and maintain the full responsibility of man. For example, Pharaoh was responsible for disobeying the command of God to him to let Israel go, even though God had determined to harden his heart so that he would not let the people go. This is plain Scripture. God realized His counsel in such a way that Pharaoh was fully responsible for refusing to let the people go.
    In contrast, to teach that God sincerely desires the salvation of all humans in love for them all is sheer contradiction of predestination (as well as of explicit biblical passages, chief among which is Romans 9). Further, the necessary implication of universal love and desire for salvation is that those who are saved are saved, not because of God’s grace toward them (for He is gracious to all alike), but because of their response (free will). To legitimize contradiction in Scripture and biblical theology is to make understanding of the biblical message impossible–the denial of revelation; to admit confusion into the mind of God Himself, whose revelation the Bible is; and, in fact, to open wide the way into the church of heresy of all kinds: “Yes, salvation is by grace, but, no, it is also by works”; “Yes, God is three in persons, but, no, He is one person”; “Yes, Jesus is the eternal Son as to His person, but, no, He is a merely human person.” In every such case, the heretical opposite–contradiction–of the truth will overwhelm and drive out the truth that is contradicted by the error, as permitted by “paradoxical” theology.
    God’s mind and, therefore, revealed truth, are not contradictory. If they were, they would be unknowable.
    Iin the 1994 edition of my book, Hyper-Calvinism & the Call of the Gospel. I affirmed against the defense of the well-meant offer to all, that is, the teaching that God loves and sincerely desires the salvation of all humans, with appeal to the contradictory nature of the Bible that “the truth of the Bible, Christianity, is rational, non-contradictory, and logical.” I added, immediately: “The Triune God is rational, non-contradictory, and logical.” I proceeded to give grounds for these assertions (pp. 115-126).
    The appeal to the contradictory nature of biblical revelation in support of the teaching that God loves and desires to save all humans is the final, desperate attempt by a foe of particular grace and of a God who is sovereign and free in His gracious salvation to rescue his gospel of salvation by the will of the sinner, as to pave the way to the overthrow of salvation by grace alone by the false gospel of salvation by the will of the sinner.

  4. brad Says:

    Well said Mark, I already hold to these truths. but you have stated the case well. One of your post on Facebook regarding Spurgeons comments on 1st Timothty 2:4 gave me some insight on Spurgeon and why he was at odds with Gill on the subject of the well meant, or free and sincere offer of the Gospel. Just made a light go off, an aha moment. Regards, Brad Burten

  5. markmcculley Says:

    I don’t agree with the view of Gill either. The gospel needs to be preached to all sinners, but it does not say that God wants to save all sinners. Nor does it teach that all the elect are already justified.

    Faith in the gospel, being the immediate result of imputation, is involved in justification, and it needs to be there or the person is not yet justified. 2. This leads to a question: faith in what? Is it faith that the righteousness has been imputed to me? NO. Since it’s an immediate result of the imputation, that cannot be.

    If you wait to believe the gospel until you know that you have been justified, you will never believe the gospel. So this is where the “in order to be” comes in.

    I know that nobody is justified unless they believe the gospel, I also know that believing the gospel is NOT the cause or condition of justification, therefore I know that I am not believing the gospel yet, and that I am not yet justified, so I believe the gospel.

    I believe in what? Not in my believing. And yet some who teach eternal justification (Gill) say that, as long as I explain it this way, believing cannot help being the condition, and my assurance will be partly in my believing.

    In my experience it’s the eternal justifications folks who lack assurance. Though they can talk about the elect in general, they seem to never know if it’s true for them. But forget the idea of a justification for all the elect at the same time. The Bible does not teach that.

    1. Assurance involves knowing that you have believed the gospel.
    2. Lots of “experimental Calvinists” don’t think you can know—the evidence of works is never in yet and so they are always on probation.

    We know if we don’t believe and we know if we do believe.Back when I was “lost Calvinist”, it wasn’t a matter of finding out I was not sincere or that I did not really believe. I learned a different gospel. I believed in a different God.

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