OSC’s Who’s a heretic, Dr. Sproul?

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For the Christian readers online this morning, I’m sharing a Q&A moment with the reformed thinker Dr. R. C Sproul, who to many is an absolute champion of the faith. Before reading my thoughts on the subject matter, really listen hard to both the lady’s question and the subsequent response.

[Leave a comment below if you’ve noticed anything you’d like to point out before reading my reply] I’m having to get into the habit of listening for when Dr. Sproul is going to change the question he’s asked. The questioner asked is the grace of God available to all. So, to clarify, they’re asking is an opportunity at gaining salvation sincerely presented by God to all people. Is the offer made in good faith, is it a bona fide offer free of fraud or deception. Is it well-meant. Dr. Sproul clarifies by asking “Regenerative grace?” So the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Is an offer of God’s help available to everyone?” Is the offer of the Holy Spirit’s regenerative power open to everyone. After receiving clarification Dr. Sproul immediately says “No.” So he appears to be saying no, no the offer of the Holy Spirit is not a good faith offer made to everyone. God may say “All who will may come!” There’s something in the small print however. If Sproul really answers no then the Gospel offer of salvation isn’t a bona fide offer available to every person.

Then however, within 20 seconds, Dr. Sproul changes the question to “Is God obligated to impose saving faith upon anyone?” Upon which he replies no again (as if to reinforce their first no). Dr. Sproul continues to insist God’s impelled by nobody to give His saving grace into people’s lives (though that’s not the lady’s question). “He sovereignly determines to have mercy upon whom he will have mercy…God owes me no grace whatsoever.” Dr. Sproul comments. It seems to me as if Dr. Sproul, instead of answering plainly, muddied the waters so to avoid giving a potentially unattractive answer. Dr. Sproul remakes the question “Does God offer everyone an opportunity to be saved?” into “Is God under an obligation to FORCE regenerative grace upon people?” Although that’s such an inaccurate way of restating the lady’s question.

That is not the woman’s question. She asked about availability. Are people who’re ultimately lost, people who reject the Gospel of grace, given a capacity by God to receive and accept that grace. Is the good news really good news for everyone (Luke 2:10). In Luke 2:10 an angel reveals to [the shepherds] “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Myself and a friend discussed this too. If we’re duty bound to believe in the Gospel message, and God (as understood by Calvinists) doesn’t give everyone an opportunity to have “regenerative grace”, then the good news isn’t good news at all, rather, for the vast majority of people, the news would be an occasion for more severe condemnation. The angel explained that the Gospel is good news for all people, and yet, if God does withhold our ability to accept His news, it’s simply a new law with which to condemn people for not believing.

Only if an opportunity for God’s saving grace is available to all can the good news really be good news for all of humanity.

If, heaven forbid, Christ didn’t die for everyone (as the Calvinist believes), then what is the unbeliever being judged for? God is supposed to be judging man for rejecting Christ’s work upon the cross, however if Christ didn’t die for A, B and C, why are A, B, and C punished? They’ve denied work that wasn’t done upon their behalf, so why are they duty bound and even punished for [not] believing in something which wasn’t done upon their behalf.

Insofar as Dr. Sproul is concerned I’m reminded of when Christ taught “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” By answering a question which nobody asked I’m not entirely confident he’s heeding the advice.

For more on the subject of what Calvinists believe (and a nice little comments exchange on the subject) visit my posts on What’s wrong with Calvinism and Dr. Jerry Walls’ Calvinist confusions.

― T. C. M

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3 thoughts on “OSC’s Who’s a heretic, Dr. Sproul?

  1. I must admit I quickly scrolled away when I saw a ” debate”coming in about what I thought would be what I call a non-essential. However after listening to the clip, and having seen Sproul many times as I live in the area, I was curious. If there was one issue in the bible that I have struggled to find validation for it is the pre-destination of all that will be saved. I have always quote the verses about free will, the ones like ” anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved ” and if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. ” (It never says, only those who are not already predestined not to go to hell). I have a very hard time listening to John MacArthur for that reason as well. I do believe that they believe it- and I know what verses they will point to about being predestined and foreknown. However since God is not limited by time space or matter like we are, I believe that verse refers to God knowing ahead of our ” time” who will reject or accept the savior that in John 3:16 God so loved the world to send, not just to the elite world…but He so loved the world period. I agree it does not seem to make any sense when trying to confirm it by other scripture. I go by the idea that scripture interprets scripture. There is not much supporting evidence for Sproul’s viewpoint.

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    • Thanks for the very readable contribution, my friend. It would be awesome to visit and listen to R. C in person, although after listening to a couple of his audio Q&A sessions, in person I’d have to ask in some very very specific terms to have any hope of receiving an illuminating answer. The above post was actually taken from a private chat I’d been having with my pastor last week (edited and reworded for privacy’s sake of course). So, in response to your point about verses which contain God’s people being predestine and foreknown, I say amen to them, I totally agree with the words, but it’s how we understand those things in terms of how they relate to history and God’s redemptive plan where I’d beg to differ with the greats like Dr. Sproul.

      This was another small portion of the conversation with my pastor which I’d omitted (it felt less relevant to the above), methinks it’ll be useful for us now though:
      ———–
      In our telephone discussion yesterday I explained to **** how we’re predestined “in Christ”, in that way we as a people can be said to be predestined without being predetermined. We own a part in Christ’s life, His death, burial and resurrection. If this is God’s story of redemption, we can say we have life in the star of the show. His destiny is shared in a sense by His people.

      Paul’s use of “in Christ” can’t be overstated.
      ———
      You’ll excuse the use of old material in my reply, brother. God willing I’ll be at liberty to write up a fuller reply to your observations later (many of which I agree with). Hopefully our destiny foreknown in Christ was an exciting portion of the debate you haven’t yet heard much on.

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  2. To add another thought on Dr. Sproul, I’ve just read this incredible story on page 119 from the book Why I’m not a Calvinist:
    ——-
    R. C Sproul tells of a time he was teaching a seminary course on the theology of the Westminster Confession and began a class by quoting lines of article 3 of the Confession. This passage, which we have already considered, reads as follows:

    “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever came to pass.” Sproul had announced the week before that he would lecture on predestination, and a number of visitors were there that evening, expecting a little controversy. After reading the passage, he asked if anyone did not believe what it claimed. A number of hands went up, signalling dissent from Sproul’s Calvinism.

    Sproul then asked if there were any atheists in the room. When no hands were raised, Sproul reports that he said something “outrageous,” namely “Everyone who raised his hand to the first question should also have raised his hand to the second question.” Not surprisingly, a number of groans rose from the audience.
    ———-
    My Calvinist friends, honest to goodness friends, are going to be very surprised when they finally realize that God’s highest calling for a person isn’t the defence of a nifty systematic. Pouring one’s days into Calvinism is a bit much. Dr. Sproul is no lightweight intellectually, far from it, but his my way or the highway style only works on two kinds of people, people overawed by authority, and (sadly) people who have a piety to them. They have good intentions and are told there’s no higher form of acknowledging God than joining R. C’s club.

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