This has been a conversation that never ends. Please see the comments below from Seth McBee's web site for even more background.
We all know that there are distinctions to be made regarding God's will.
We all agree that what God preceptively commands, ought to be obeyed and heeded.
We all agree that God's decretive will can and does thwart His Preceptive will.
But here is where we do not all agree.
Does God, wish, desire, want the Non Elect to be saved?
Does God "well meaningly" offer Christ to all and hence desire for all that hear the gospel to be saved?
This is the issue.
Now, as far as I can tell, James White rightly sees the issue, when he explains that nowhere is it ever implied that God somehow shall be disappointed, dejected etc, in that those whom he desires to save are ultimately lost. It is not the Biblical picture.
(Incidentally, these guys are now calling this defense a straw man that assumes Arminian presuppositions, rather than reformed presuppositions, which I will say more about in a moment.)
Now, Seth McBee, Tony Byrne and the other Ponterites, have a history and an axe to grind upon this whole subject. They have made it their business to find any Theologian they can get their hands on, and then they will force their presuppositions (anachronistically) into these guys writings and seemingly win the argument against those like Dr White and other Calvinists.
These men have been going after White for some time, and have been pounding me into the ground along their merry way, so I am no novice in this area.
They have been one issue guys and such a statement can be proved by going to their blogs and reading the subject matter.
These guys are followers in doctrine of David Ponter, who for some reason has been quite silent during the latest spat of accusations etc.
Now, Seth McBee and Byrne have been calling James a Hyper-Calvinist, which is a false slur. They have been analyzing White's comments from radio interviews and in particular, comments made between himself and a guy named Jason from the UK.
(I have had many conversations with Jason, who is a nice, mild mannered guy who was previously Arminian, but has been shifting to a more reformed understanding of the issues, and has been greatly benefited by James White's ministry and admits so.)
James White affirms in what we call the free offer of the gospel, and for him, like me, that means that we as Ambassadors of Christ, freely proclaim the gospel to all men when and where we are able. That is it. That is the free offer as I understand the matter historically, BUT BUT BUT
Modern men have taken the "free offer" and put a lot of baggage into that idea, including well meant offers, multiple wills and extreme ideas regarding Common grace.
It is the modern men, like John Murray (who is otherwise excellent!) who has been used by even more modern men to spearhead this whole area of God's will as it pertains to His desires for everyone to be saved.
I have spoken much on this subject in the past, so will not go into great detail here about where I am regarding the arguments these guys use. It is complicated and takes a lot of reading, checking sources etc, especially when attempting to respond to the Ponterites like Byrne and McBee.
What these guys are saying is also based upon their views about the atonement.
Please take this into consideration when discussing these matters with these guys.
Forget for a moment what they say about God desiring the salvation of the Non Elect, and NOW think upon their views regarding the atonement.
They believe and teach what is called a "Universal expiation" doctrine as far as the cross is concerned, meaning that Jesus died conditionally for everyone's sins upon the cross, and has made a way for any and all men without exception to be saved, including the reprobate.
This errant view underpins their "well meant offer" theology.
I hope you are following what that means for the doctrine of Penal Substitution, and of course the finished work of Christ upon the cross, which is a Propitiatory sacrifice rather than this limited term they replace it with, namely expiation.
These guys never talk about Propitiation...never...
I have argued all along that these guys present us with a God who is at odds with Himself. A schizophrenic deity of sorts.
The so called red herring/straw man that these guys attribute to White, namely the idea of God being eternally frustrated, is a legitimate one as far as I am concerned.
It is not "Platonic" reasoning, but simple logic being exercised.
So now we come down to the ideas regarding "what sense" are we to give to the whole matter. Is God in some sense "desiring" the salvation of the Non Elect?
Well, we know from His decree, absolutely not! I am not afraid to say that.
Even these guys will admit that God's "decretive" will can and does trump His "Preceptive" will.
So, the point of imbalance with these guys is not just their atonement views, (and that is serious enough!) but with their views upon the Preceptive will of God.
For them, God's revealed will is strictly to be applied in this area of salvation.
God desires that all men be saved, repent and believe the gospel.
Surely God desires what He commands is their argument.
But it is here where they are bringing in their own presuppositions to the revealed will and utterly abandoning logic and the decrees of God into the bargain!
Now, let me break all of this down to the most simple state, in order to defend James White and his views.
He, and all Calvinists can tell sinners, all sinners, that if they repent and believe the gospel, they shall indeed be saved. That is what scripture clearly teaches, but reading into that, the concrete idea that God Himself is desiring for everyone's salvation, is going way too far and scripture teaches the opposite, as has been pointed out so many times to these guys to no avail.
So in that sense, God is declaring, with an intentioned purpose in mind, to call out all those for whom Christ died, and for all whom He gave to Christ from eternity.
That is what scripture teaches.
When these guys change the sense to include the notion that God Himself wants, wills and desires for the salvation of the Non Elect, they do err quite badly.
But remember what is driving their exegesis? Yes, the faulty view regarding Universal expiation which scripture does not teach.
I understand why James White uses the defense he does, and it is really quite simple.
He is defending the "finished" work of the cross. He is defending the "Priestly" role of our blessed Savior. He is defending the plan, purpose and intention of why Christ came into the world to die for many....
These guys may call that defense one which is addressing Arminian presuppositions. So what?
Are these guys themselves not latent Arminians when their universal expiation views are laid out upon the table! Yes I rather think so.
Today, (as compared to the Canons of Dort time frame), is soft on its reformed doctrines, even calling Ameraldianism reformed etc. It was sternly rejected by our forefathers as heretical, and no one seems bold enough to say that these days.
But I am saying it and for sound reasons.
Scripture teaches that God shall have mercy upon whom He will have mercy, and as long as that one statement is there, and many more besides, I will not entertain the presuppositions of the Ponterites and all other lesser Calvinists.