Does “offer” really mean present?

Not according to Durham as I have argued elsewhere:

One of the most common images Durham uses to define offer is that of wooing and beseeching. He explains that “The offer of the gospel … is set down under the expression of wooing … and supposes a marriage, and a bridegroom, that is by his friends wooing and suiting in marriage…” So in understanding what the gospel offer is it is appropriate to think of a man trying to persuade the woman he loves to marry him. This image, of course, carries with more than a simple presentation of facts. It would be an absurdity for a man to try and win the affections of a woman simply by presenting a few facts about himself. No, the image carries with it the ideas of an attempt to win the girl by earnest persuasion. And so it is with the Gospel where Christ, “doth beseech and entreat, etc. that thereby hearts may be induced to submit cheerfully to Him.” We can “Consider further how our Lord Jesus seeks and presses for this satisfaction from you; he sends forth his friends and ambassadors, to woo in his name, and to beseech you to be reconciled … he pleads so much and so often, and entreats every one in particular when he is so very serious in beseeching and entreating, it should, no doubt, make us more willing to grant him what he seeks.” So simply from this one image Durham uses it is clear that offer is, for him, more that a presentation of facts. 

Now who do you think understands 17th century English better-  Durham or modern critics of the free offer?


9 Responses to “Does “offer” really mean present?”

  1. Sometimes Offer Means Offer « Heidelblog Says:

    […] April 8, 2009 in Preaching the Word | Tags: Free Offer of the Gospel, well-meant offer At James Durham Thesis […]

  2. Does “offer” really mean present? « James Durham Thesis « Leviticus and Stuff Says:

    […] April 8, 2009 by David Not according to Durham as I have argued elsewhere: […]

  3. Jason Loh Says:

    The Latin word, offero means to exhibit, present, place before, show forth … that is how it was used originally at the time of the Reformation and Post-Reformation … the alternative word is propositio, that is to present.

  4. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Jason

    Welcome to the blog.

    To answer your assertion – no, it didn’t. In fact I simply don’t know how anyone familiar with mid 17th C Reformed theology (particularly preaching – after all the free offer is an eminently practical area) can claim that.

    In any case, if what you propose is true, how do you deal with Durham’s definition above? Or with this one where he explicitly states that the gospel offer is not simply a presentation of facts:

    “[The gospel] not only proclaims [take note!], but invites; and doubles the invitation to come. It not only invites, but puts the invitation so home that people must either make the price … and buy or refuse the bargain … [it] cries, ‘Come, buy! Come and enter the covenant freely.’ And this it does by a frank offer, by earnest and persuasive inviting, and by the easy conditions that it proposes the bargain on.”

    Durham is not unique in this, his orthodoxy is unimpeachable – he is beyond doubt a fair representative of what the Scottish Church understood the WCoF to teach regarding the free offer.

  5. David Says:

    Offere and its cognates has two basic meanings. It can mean, “to present” and it can mean to proffer or overture. The Oxford Latin dictionary is a reliable source on this. 🙂

    The problem is, even when it is “present” its not a bare statement or “setting forth” of facts, etc, but an offering which can be accepted or rejected by the offeree. Christ, his person and work, is truly offered.

    The way in which the PRC theologians present the definition is misleading. An offering was presented by the priest, in the temple, which God would either accept or reject. I have some brief comments on this here: Joseph Hussey: the Founding Father of Hypercalvinism

    It was because of this that Hussey and other early Hypercalvinists totally rejected the use of the term “offer,” exactly because they knew its various meanings and implications: as it implied the ability to accept or reject.

    When the word “offer” is used with helper words, such as invitation, overture, proffer, or with adjectives, like gracious, merciful, or with the motive or volition of the offerer stated, it is beyond doubt that the intention was that the offer of the Gospel was well-meant.

    What the PRC do is basically bog the discussion down in semantic traps, all the while they ignore the undeniable use by Reformed theologians, all the way from Calvin to Murray.

    The PRC claims on the “offer” both at the semantic and theological level are impossible to sustain, with the evidence opposing them at every turn.

    Sorry to sound sweeping, but the evidence is undeniable.

    Calvin and Calvinism

  6. franq Says:

    where can i read sumthin substantial on this “offer”? can you pleez cite sources so that i may look into ’em? besides murray, thnx for ur great work! u rok!

  7. David Says:

    Hey there,

    Go here: Meta-Links (Indexes) ,

    scroll down to the section on the well-meant offer.

    Also, go here: Theological Meditations. Tony has more historic material on the offer. Click on his name and subject indexes.

    Also search this blog as well.

    Hope that helps,

  8. franq Says:

    thnx David!

  9. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Sorry for the delay in responding. In addition to this blog 🙂 you may want to try: – I know you said you didn’t want John Murray (he is very good!!!) but the introduction by Scott Clark is worth reading as he outlines some foundational elements of reformed thought that many critics of the free offer seem to ignore. – David Silversides’ work “The Free Offer Biblical and Reformed”

    Ken Stebbins, Christ Freely Offered, Covenanter Press, 1996 – he gets some things wrong historically, and dislikes the historic reformed use of desire in connection with the offer, but comes highly recommended as he dismantles the Hoeksema school of though.

    R. Scott Clark – “Janus, the Well-Meant Offer of the Gospel, and Westminster Theology” in The Pattern of Sound Doctrine (google for details)

    But my basic advice is read the primary sources for yourself – especially sermons.

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