Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ponter's self-contradictions

David Ponter has attempted yet another rely:

Rather, [an] offer should be defined as this and no more,
To present something to someone for their acceptance or rejection.

i) Which is perfectly consistent with limited atonement.

ii) Also notice that his definition doesn’t single out a “well-meant” offer. Notice that his definition doesn’t require the offeror to desire the offeree’s acceptance.

God cannot be presenting (i.e., proposing to give, or to provide, or to tender) the NDF with forgiveness of sins, or with justification, or with salvation, as he has none of these are available for him to present to them. God has not provided any provision for them, whereby, he, for his part, can present the possibility of forgiveness of sins, or of justification, or of salvation, to the NDF.

I’ll have more to say about this further down, in response to a similar objection. For now it’s sufficient for me to point out that having said:

[An] offer should be defined as this and no more,
To present something to someone for their acceptance or rejection.

Ponter immediately turns his back on his own definition, and adds something “more.” His definition doesn’t say the offeror must make provision for what he tenders.

The difference between Ahaz and the non-died-for is that in Ahaz’s case, God was willing and able, in the case of the NDF, on Hays’ conception, God is not able to forgive or to save or to justify the NDF (and perhaps not even willing?). Thus, on the supposition of a limited satisfaction for the sins of the elect alone, God is not able to give forgiveness of sins, or salvation, to the NDF.

i) Keep in my that I cited the case of Ahaz as a counterexample to Ponter’s previous definition, which he has now withdrawn. That was a perfectly adequate counterexample to the definition Ponter was using at the time.

Ponter is, of course, at liberty to revise his definition, but the fact that my counterexample doesn’t address his latest revision hardly invalidates my counterexample, since that’s after the fact.

ii) Even if (arguendo) God were unable to forgive (save, justify) the unredeemed, that (alleged) inability is perfectly consistent with the definition of the offer that Ponter just gave us at the outset.

And considering that divine sincerity in the offer has to be indexed to the ability to communicate what is offered, God cannot be sincere in his offers of forgiveness of sins to the NDF.
For most folk that should be the end of the matter.

i) I could say more about this, and I will (momentarily), but for now it’s sufficient to point out that this doesn’t follow from Ponter’s very own definition of the offer. He defines the “offer”; explicitly assures us that an offer is “no more” than that; then instantly abandons his own definition.

He didn’t define an offer such that a genuine offer must be indexed to the ability of the offeror.

Likewise, where does his definition distinguish between “sincere” and “insincere” offers?

ii) BTW, I’m not conceding that God is unable to make good on his offer. But I don’t need to go down that road to refute Ponter. It’s enough to show that Ponter fails to stick to the terms of his own custom-made definition.

The question is not what would have happened to Judas had he believed.

i) Why is that not the question? Because Ponter says so? One of my problems with Ponter’s methodology is that he begins with his position, then casts about for a definition that selects for his position, while selecting out the opposing position. But that’s an artificial definition. That’s attempting to win the debate by simply defining your position as the true position.

ii) Why isn’t the fate of Judas had he believed a relevant question? In Scripture, threats and promises are often presented in back-to-back fashion: If you do w, x will happen–but if you do y, z will happen.

In Scripture, the gospel offer is sometimes cast in such terms. Indeed, that’s a more complete formulation of the offer.

The question is this: What are the necessary preconditions that must be present in order for God to make the statement to Judas, “if you believe, you will be saved,” and for that statement to be true?
Hays needs to address and resolve this point, otherwise a limited satisfaction for finite sin falsifies the offer of salvation to Judas and all the non-died-for.

i) Once again, Ponter contradicts himself. On the one hand, Ponter tells us that we mustn’t allow the decretive will to “falsify” the preceptive will.

Yet Ponter himself isn’t content to stay with the public terms of the gospel offer. Instead, he’s ultimately concerned with what backs up the gospel offer.

But if a 4-point Calvinist is allowed to consider what backs up the gospel offer, so is the 5-point Calvinist.

ii) Apropos (i), if (ex hypothesi) God tenders the gospel to Judas, then, in order for God to make good on the offer, several preconditions would have to be met. Under that counterfactual scenario, Judas must be (a) elected; (b) regenerated, and (c) redeemed.

Even if we grant Ponter’s 4-point Calvinism, unlimited atonement is not a sufficient condition for God to make good on the offer. Even if Judas were redeemed, it remains impossible for Judas to be saved unless Judas is also elected and regenerated.

iii) Therefore, Ponter himself is committed to alternate possible worlds to fill in the necessary preconditions. Ponter can’t avoid counterfactual conditions, or the modal metaphysical apparatus that undergirds them, to formulate his 4-point version of the gospel offer. 


  1. Why should an _offer_ involve any desire on the part of the offeree?

    If you're in a food store and they offer you a free sample of a new juice, your desire or lack of desire has no bearing on the bona fide nature of the offer.

    An offer is made whether you desire it or not. What makes the offer "well-meant" is that the offerer has something to offer (not an empty cup) and is disposed to give it to you.

    Would you say that the person in the food store isn't making an offer if you don't desire to try the new juice? No, it is obvious that there is an offer and therefore an offer has nothing to do with the offeree's desire or lack of desire, acceptance or lack of acceptance.

    Therefore, the definition of 'offer' as "to present for acceptance or rejection" is correct and the remainder of your reply has no further relevance.


  2. Ponter has proven himself unteachable. Next.

    In Christ,

  3. It is you who have proven yourself to be unteachable.

    The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
    (Revelation 22:17 ESV)

    The water of life is offered to all. You are saying that there is no water of life offered to the non-elect but that is a simple absurdity. The offer is made, the water is there and available to all, and the Spirit says, Come! Take the water of life without price!

    You make up some fanciful ideas to defend what Ponter has proven to be a theological aberration, not found in Scripture, nor in Calvin, nor in Hodge, nor in Dabney, nor in Shedd.

    What _exactly_ is offered by the Spirit to the non-elect?