Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email:email@example.com
6 REASONS WHY I REPUDIATE DAVE HUNT AND HIS BOOK "WHAT LOVE IS THIS"
I testify and declare that in all the controversies and disputes, which I have conducted with the enemies of the gospel, I have made use of no craftiness, nor corrupt and sophistical arts, but have been engaged in defending the truth with candour and sincerity. (Last will of John Calvin)
I have been looking through Dave Hunt's book entitled "What love is this?" with its subtitle: "Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God" and I do not hesitate to say that I reject both him and his book. The reasons below are not exhaustive, but I believe sufficient to warrant my repudiation.
1) HUNT MAKES CALVINISM'S FRIENDS OUT TO BE ITS ENEMIES:
Just as a whisperer separateth chief friends (Proverbs 16:28) so too Hunt seeks to separate some Calvinists from their allegiance to the Five Points. He does this by employing two different means:
A/ DIRECTLY: An example is the insistence that CH Spurgeon rejected the doctrine of Limited Atonement. We are constantly bombarded with this untruth. In p19 we are told that Spurgeon "rejected limited atonement" and that "he did so in unequivocal language" This is followed up again in p35 with the statement that limited atonement "was repugnant to Spurgeon" and again in p122 that his "rejection of limited atonement" was "definite" Spurgeon's rejection of Limited Atonement is reiterated again in p240 followed up with the stronger language that Spurgeon "rejected it as heresy" (p241) This is all blatantly untrue. The one solitary quotation given to show that Spurgeon rejected limited atonement (p19) simply shows that he rejected the idea that the merits of the blood of Jesus were limited. The Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement does not limit the merit of the atonement of Christ, but its professed intention. Calvinists believe it was intended or purposed to save only the elect. Furthermore, the chapter of Spurgeon's autobiography which Hunt chose to quote from is entitled "A defence of Calvinism" (though Hunt withholds this information from us) and the same chapter includes the following statement from Spurgeon:
"There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves… Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!" (CHS Autobiography Vol 1 Chapter 16 or "The Early Years" Banner of Truth p. 172)
And yet Hunt peddles the same falsehood: Spurgeon unequivocally rejected Limited Atonement as a heresy. Is this true? It decidedly is not. Spurgeon was an out and out believer in Limited Atonement as a page devoted to his belief on the subject on this web site proves:Twelve proofs that CH Spurgeon believed in Particular Redemption.
[Note: Laurence Vance, who overall endorses Hunt's Book and has written his own book against Calvinism, exposes Hunt's error on this very issue. Under the title of "Weaknesses" Vance dismisses Hunt's error with the words: "The Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon did not reject Limited Atonement."]
B/ INDIRECTLY: Hunt quotes Norman F. Douty (p19) who likewise seeks to turn faithful Calvinists into non Calvinists opposing these things. In a list of over seventy (if Hunt is to be believed) Douty brazenly tells us that John Newton, John Bunyan and Hanley Moule "opposed Calvinism" This was not the case. Spurgeon quoted John Newton as saying:
"You who are called Calvinists, — though you are not merely Calvinists, but the old, legitimate successors of Christ,— you ought above all men to be very gentle with your opponents, for, recollect, according to your own principles, they cannot learn truth unless they are taught of God; and if you have been taught of God, you ought to bless his name; and if they have not, you should not be angry with them, but pray to God to give them a better education."(MTP: Sermon 2594 Offence of the Cross)
In his autobiography, (The Force of Truth) Thomas Scott relates how he spent hours in Newton's company and embraced Calvinism as a result of John Newton's help and counsel (p30-31)
John Bunyan was likewise a Calvinist. His treatise on "Reprobation Asserted" is pure Calvinism while his last sermon on John 1:13 includes the following: "I am not a free willer. I do abhor it, yet there is not the wickedest man but he desires some time or other to be saved; he will read some time or other, or it may be pray, but this will not do. 'It is not in him that wills, nor in him that runs, but in God that showeth mercy' There is willing and running, and yet to know purpose."
[Note: Again, Laurence Vance dismisses Hunt's error with the words: John Bunyan was not one who "opposed Calvinism" All Hunt has done is show either his appalling ignorance or his willingness to change the truth into a lie. Neither of which commend his book to friend or foe alike of Calvinism.]
Hanley Moule was a Calvinist…In his comments on Romans 8:29 he names and repudiates the Arminian view (See appendix at the end of his commentary) and in Romans 9 he affirms the Calvinist position.
I don't know where Douty is coming from on this matter nor Hunt for that matter…but some of those listed were solid Calvinists. I repudiate Hunt and his book therefore because he is not content to rob men of their Calvinist belief and reputation, but pits them against those of like precious faith.
2) HUNT IS PREPARED TO TWIST CALVIN'S STATEMENTS FOR HIS OWN MEANS:
All of us, for the sake of time and space, need to edit down statements we wish to quote. This is acceptable providing we do so in a fair manner. It is unacceptable to edit out statements and so give another slant on the matter at hand. Hunt has no qualms about doing so in his treatment of John Calvin.
Hunt quotes from the Institutes of the Christian Religion on a number of occasions and employs the triple dots "…" to indicate where he has made a break in the sentence before joining it up with another.
On p199, Hunt quotes here and there from Institutes 3:23:7-8 but he makes sure he omits the following paragraph where (as underlined) Calvin very clearly puts the blame for man's condemnation where it clearly belongs - on sinful man himself. This is not what Hunt wants to hear however. No…Hunt wants Calvin to put the blame on God and so he just chops out this rather unhelpful paragraph and so twists completely what Calvin is saying.
"When you hear the glory of God mentioned, understand that his justice is included. For that which deserves praise must be just. Man therefore falls, divine providence so ordaining, but he falls by his own fault. The Lord had a little before declared that all the things which he had made were very good, (Genesis 1:31.) Whence then the depravity of man, which made him revolt from God? Lest it should be supposed that it was from his creation, God had expressly approved what proceeded from himself Therefore man’s own wickedness corrupted the pure nature which he had received from God, and his ruin brought with it the destruction of all his posterity. Wherefore, let us in the corruption of human nature contemplate the evident cause of condemnation, (a cause which comes more closely home to us,) rather than inquire into a cause hidden and almost incomprehensible in the predestination of God." (3:23:8)
In p253 Hunt is trying to portray Calvinists as dying without assurance of their election and therefore their salvation. Who better to bring forth as an example than Calvin? Hunt purrs…"We see this uncertainty in Calvin himself." Where's the proof? Hunt turns us to Calvin's will which was drawn up before his death and quotes Calvin as writing: "I humbly seek from God…to be washed and purified in the great Redeemer's blood, shed for the sins of the human race…" The reference given is George Zeller's "For whom did Christ die" Whether he is quoting Zeller word for word, I cannot at this moment tell. But thousands of Hunt's readers, by this statement, are led to believe that Calvin " seemed uncertain in spite of Scripture's promise of absolute assurance." At this point we can either swallow Hunt's statements without a second thought or we can check them out for ourselves. Conscious that I am dealing with a man who cannot be trusted, I decided tocheck for myself and I found the entire quote reads somewhat differently. Calvin wrote:
"I further testify and declare that, as a suppliant, I humbly implore of him to grant me to be so washed and purified by the blood of that sovereign Redeemer, sited for the sins of the human race, that I may be permitted to stand before his tribunal in the image of the Redeemer himself."
What is the difference between Calvin's words and Hunt's truncated version? One: Calvin used the little word "so" (which Hunt omits without any indication that he had done so) and uses it to plead for his glorification ("that I might be able to stand before his tribunal in the image of the Redeemer himself") By leaving out the word "so" and also the entire end of the sentence, Hunt makes this an issue about Calvin's assurance of justification when the issue, although related, is significantly different. Calvin died in faith. The same document contains these words:"And on these grounds I witness and declare, that I hope for no other refuge of salvation than this alone — that since God is a Father of mercy, he will show himself a Father to me, who confess myself a miserable sinner."
I repudiate Hunt and his book because he does not hesitate to twist men's words - even those of a dying man's last will - to make some cheap point which does not even stand up to scrutiny.
3) HUNT USES STRONG AND DEFINITE LANGUAGE TO TRY AND FORCE THROUGH UNTRUE AND NON STARTER STATEMENTS:
We have already mentioned how Hunt brandishes strong words like "unequivocal" and "repugnant" and "definite" and "rejected limited atonement as heresy" to try and push through his weird notion that Spurgeon did not believe in the Calvinistic doctrine of limited atonement. It goes without saying that he picked on the wrong man since Spurgeon's writings are both voluminous and widely available in print and on the internet etc., His verbal foot stamping on this issue reminds me of the old BBC programme "Call my bluff" and we did! It was all blatantly untrue.
He does it again in p151 where he turns his attention back to Calvin's Institutes. Note again the style:  The verbal foot stamping (which I underline) and then  The untrue statement. I quote: " There is no escaping the fact that in Calvin's entire Institutes of the Christian Religion there is not one mention of God's love for the lost." (Hunt himself italicises the words "not one mention" to draw attention to his statement.) Some of us don't bend too easily when such billows of hot air come blowing in our direction. If Hunt has a copy of Beveridge's translation of the Institutes then so do we. I turn to this copy and what do I read?
For God, who is perfect righteousness, cannot love the iniquity which he sees in all. All of us, therefore, have that within which deserves the hatred of God. Hence, in respect, first, of our corrupt nature; and, secondly, of the depraved conduct following upon it, we are all offensive to God, guilty in his sight, and by nature the children of hell. But as the Lord wills not to destroy in us that which is his own, he still finds something in us which in kindness he can love. For though it is by our own fault that we are sinners, we are still his creatures; though we have brought death upon ourselves he had created us for life. Thus, mere gratuitous love prompts him to receive us into favour. But if there is a perpetual and irreconcilable repugnance between righteousness and iniquity, so long as we remain sinners we cannot be completely received. Therefore, in order that all ground of offence may be removed, and he may completely reconcile us to himself, he, by means of the expiation set forth in the death of Christ, abolishes all the evil that is in us, so that we, formerly impure and unclean, now appear in his sight just and holy. Accordingly, God the Father, by his love, prevents and anticipates our reconciliation in Christ. Nay, it is because he first loves us, that he afterwards reconciles us to himself. But because the iniquity, which deserves the indignation of God, remains in us until the death of Christ comes to our aid, and that iniquity is in his sight accursed and condemned, we are not admitted to full and sure communion with God, unless, in so far as Christ unites us. And, therefore, if we would indulge the hope of having God placable and propitious to us, we must fix our eyes and minds on Christ alone, as it is to him alone it is owing that our sins, which necessarily provoked the wrath of God, are not imputed to us. (2:16:3 or Beveridge's Edition p574)
Hunt actually contradicts himself on this matter. Having closed us all up into a veritable Colditz ("No escape") he himself manages to dig a tunnel or get over the wire himself. In p41 - had he really forgotten by the time he gets to p151? - he tells us: "Through his entire Institutes, Calvin scarcely mentions or considers God's love which, in Calvin's view, is secondary to His sovereignty." So here we go from "no escaping the fact that there is not one mention" to the admission that "mentions of God's love are scarce". Who proof read this book? What of those reviewers who shower their hero with accolades? I suppose we could get into the numbers game with the search engine on our CD and type in "love" (with its associated words like "mercy" and "compassion" etc.,) and do a word total and then type in "sovereignty" with its associated words and see which one can outdo the other as if they were really competing one with another. Can grace not reign harmoniously? (Romans 5:21) However, the point is made. David Cloud decided to pick out those juicy bits from Hunt's book and share them with his website readers:http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/davehunt-calvinrefutation.html Which one of the two contradictory statement does Cloud go for? Exactly. The Colditz option. Perhaps Cloud didn't see the contradiction. Whatever…the falsehood is propagated. I reject Hunt and his book because he replaces objective criticism with pure bluster, relying on strong words rather than truth to make a point which doesn't even stick, whatever style is employed.
4) HUNT WANTS US TO BELIEVE HIS STATEMENTS WITHOUT ANY SUPPORT WHATSOEVER:
The only "up" side of this is that he doesn't actually take statements out of context or judicially remove words to suit his purpose. But then negative virtues are hardly worth mentioning.
One such example is found in p302 "Could Paul have been wrong in his continual agony over the lost sheep of the house of Israel (and indeed all men) and Calvin right in his lack of concern over the lost (and why shouldn't he be, having predestined their eternal torment) then we must conclude that Paul was badly out of touch with the Holy Spirit for being in continual prayerful distress for the salvation of his unsaved fleshly kinsmen."
Who says that Calvin had no concern for the lost? In all his voluminous writings i.e. the half million words that make up the Institutes or the 22 volumes of his commentaries plus his many sermons still extant and other writings…did Calvin ever make a statement that he couldn't care less whether men are damned or not? If so…produce it. On the other hand, if it is for Calvinists to show where he did display concern for the lost then we are happy to oblige. No bluster. No verbal foot stamping.Documented elsewhere on this site are many proofs not only of his soulwinning activities - his itinerant preaching in France - his tract writing - his personal evangelism among adults and children alike - etc., but most of all the things he said:
"Yet, whatever result may at length follow our efforts, there never will be reason to regret that we showed both pious and grateful obedience to God, and, what we will be able to relieve our sorrow even in the greatest catastrophes, that we faithfully served both the glory of Christ, which is preferable to all the kingdoms of the world, and the salvation of souls, which is more precious than the whole world." (Concerning Scandals. St Andrew Press p.115)
And shall say, Come. By these words he first declares that the godly will be filled with such an ardent desire to spread the doctrines of religion, that every one not satisfied with his own calling and his personal knowledge will desire to draw others along with him. And indeed nothing could be more inconsistent with the nature of faith than that deadness which would lead a man to disregard his brethren, and to keep the light of knowledge choked up within his own breast. The greater the eminence above others which any man has received from his calling so much the more diligently ought he to labour to enlighten others. (Comments on Isaiah 2:3)
I forbear to multiply quotes.
Another example is the statement: "Calvinism denies that there is any winning or any persuading - salvation comes by sovereign regeneration and irresistible grace imposed." (p370) Just like that! No quotes from any prominent Calvinist denying that evangelism is the means God uses to bring in his own elect. We are just expected to believe it because at a certain time in history a certain man called Dave Hunt decreed that this was a failure of Calvinism. Is he insulting his readers? Does he assume that they never heard that Spurgeon the Limited Atonement man wrote a great book called "The Soulwinner"? (Horatios Bonar, another Calvinist, entitled his book on the subject: "Words to Winners of Souls" and in one of his great hymns ("Go labour on, spend and be spent") exhorts Christians to "Speed, speed thy work, cast sloth away…It is not thus that souls are won" and "Be wise the erring soul to win"
Hunt offers no proof whatsoever but just expects us to believe him as if he were Sir Oracle on all matters relating to Calvin and Calvinists. I repudiate Hunt and his book because I refuse to be taught by a man wants us to believe his statements without any proof…and especially when he is obviously wrong.
5) HUNT USES WEAK ARGUMENTS TO PURSUE HIS CONTENTION:
We pick up one such weak argument in p359 Again it is to try and prove what is blatantly untrue. Hunt tells us: "It is no coincidence that most Calvinists avoid John 1:12. No reference is made to it in the 600 pages of the Selected Writings of John Knox and Pink avoids it in The Sovereignty of God." Hunt then continues to give the statistics of other Calvinists including this now familiar refrain: "Not one of the thirteen authors in 'Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge and Grace' confronts it." Since I do not have access to this book by 13 authors, I cannot either confirm or deny Hunt's statistics. If his exercise in Calvin's Institutes are anything to go by, then I wouldn't quote it with any great sense of authority.
This is a weak argument. First of all, there is no good reason why Calvinists would want to avoid John 1:12 As many as receive Christ do receive the power or authority to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on His name. No problem! Calvinists believe that we have the effect of receiving Christ in John 1:12 and the cause of our believing on Christ in the next verse (v13) "Which were born…of God etc.," There is nothing embarrassing about this. If Pink did not actually mention this verse in the Sovereignty of God, he does make use of it's truth. I quote: "In order for any sinner to see his need of a Saviour, and be willing to receive the Saviour he needs, the work of the Holy Spirit upon and within him is imperative." (Pink italicises the word receive) This is the teaching of John 1:12-13.
Secondly, Calvinists have quite happily preached on this verse. Two of Spurgeon's sermons on it are preserved in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (along with another two on verses 11-13) Pink expounds it in his commentary, commenting that v12 "tells us of the human side of salvation, what is required of sinners." Calvin makes reference to it in the Institutes no less than four times plus one when it is coupled with v13.
It is a silly argument because we could all get into the business of looking for lost texts in each others writings. Hunt himself for instance manages to miss the great Calvinist verses in Acts 4:27-28 where those were guilty of the crime of crucifying the Son of God came together "to do whatsoever God's hand and counsel determined before to be done." Not a whimper! To my mind…for obvious reasons. More so than why a Calvinist would want to avoid John 1:12 I reject Hunt and his book because I haven't time to chase silly arguments.
6) HUNT BLAMES CALVINISTS FOR CONTRADICTING THEIR CALVINISM WHEN ALL THEY HAVE DONE IS CONTRADICT HIS MISUNDERSTANDING OF IT:
It is never Hunt who has got it wrong. Obviously no one is saying that great men cannot ever make contrary statements, especially when we consider their great literary output over many years. But often Hunt's states that Calvin contradicted himself or that Spurgeon made statements at odds with Calvinism.
An example of this is on p348. Under the subheading "More Contradictions" Hunt tells us: "Calvin himself at times contradicted himself. He taught that all men 'are born and live for the express purpose of learning to know God' and 'therefore it is clear that those who do not [on their own initiative] - Note: Calvin does not have these words in the original - direct their whole thoughts and actions of their lives to this end fail to fulfil the law of their being.' Indeed this is what the Bible says - but it contradicts Calvinism." Yet why should it? Hunt tells us that because Calvinism teaches that man is unable to seek God, we cannot in effect believe he is required to do so. But Calvinists believe both denying that men can sin themselves out of responsibility before God. Calvin has not contradicted either himself, the Bible or Calvinistic belief. All he has done is said something which does not fit with Hunt's idea of what Calvinism teaches.
Spurgeon comes under Hunt's critical eye and in p177 the great preacher is the one Hunt has in mind when he claims: "The defence of Calvinism traps even the best minds into contradictions. Spurgeon himself couldn't seem to make up his mind." Wherein did Spurgeon fall foul of Hunt's standard of consistency? Over the use of the word "will" Spurgeon on one hand speaks of men coming to Christ with the will and therefore the will cannot be ignored…on the other he denies man can come of his own freewill. But the "contradiction" disappears into thin air when you remember that Calvinists believe that man's will is free to follow the dictates of his own heart - despite what Hunt says (or edits out of Calvin's statements as above) - God does not force men to sin by necessity. This makes man's will free in that sense. However, since the heart is in bondage to sin and the will is in bondage to the heart - then man does not possess in this sense a free will. Hunt simply has not grasped Calvinistic theology. He came to his subject loaded with bias, misconception and ignorance. He convinced himself, as he hoped to convince his readers, that his efforts to take "great care…not to misunderstand Calvinism or misjudge its proponents" (p333) would hold up and he simply brands those Calvinists who do not fit into his perception as being inconsistent.
He targets Spurgeon again on p122 where he claims (again with the kick and rush type statements) "he frequently made statements which contradicted pure Calvinism" On what basis has the great man sold his Calvinist soul? Apparently Spurgeon claimed that when he preached on the text "Compel them to come in" some one branded him an Arminian. This was not an unusual occurrence. He claimed elsewhere "I preach very often sermons which get me the title of Arminian, and just as often I am charged with Hyperism." (MTP 468) But Spurgeon was neither a hyper Calvinist or an Arminian. He could say: "Well," says one, "I like the doctrine; I still there are very few that preach it, and those that do are very high." Very likely; but I care little what anybody calls me. It signifies very little what men call you. Suppose they call you a "hyper," that does not make you anything wicked, does it? Suppose they call you an Antinomian, that will not make you one."(Sermon 207) Obviously not…unless your name is Dave Hunt.
There are other incidences where Hunt fails to bear in mind that Spurgeon was answering hyper Calvinists and Hunt's failure to see the basic difference between the two systems leads him to suppose that since Spurgeon was not a hyper Calvinist, then he ceases to be (at least on that point) a Calvinist at all.
I reject Hunt and his book because his ignorance of what Calvinists really believe leads him to brand those same Calvinists as inconsistent.
So that's it. There is much more in the book with which I could take issue. His statements questioning whether the OT saints ever experienced the new birth (p127/p349) are disturbing but that is a matter, perhaps, for another day. Remember, it is always easier to let the hares out than it is to chase all over the fields to gather them back in.I have taken up other parts of the book's errors elsewhere on this site and indeed the Calvinist controversy as a whole.
What is Hunt playing at? Is he a knave or a fool? I always hesitate to answer these questions, content to know that God knows. I see my work as just putting the record straight. One thing is sure though … you can't keep playing the "He-must've-made-another-mistake" card forever.
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