Posted by: Jerad File | February 18, 2009

John Gill: Advocate of the Use of Means in Evangelism?

This is a re-post of an article that I had previously written on my personal blog.

John Gill is usually considered to be the father of the hyper-Calvinistic Baptists. There is a very long tradition of calling Gill a hyper-Calvinist. A 900 page dissertation has even been done on the subject of Gill and hyper-Calvinism. However, my own reading of Gill has uncovered several passages that make me question this common assumption. I will not argue one way or the other, because honestly the issue is very technical and it is not the specific area of his theology that I am studying, but I want to post a few quotes from Gill here just for others to see–and you can judge for yourself whether John Gill was a hyper-Calvinist:

From His Commentary on Song of Solomon II:14:

It is reported of the dove, that it will allure wild doves by its familiar converses into the dove-house with it: those who are called by grace, will use all proper ways and methods to allure and gain others to Christ, and to compliance with his ways and ordinances, as the church does the daughters of Jerusalem in this Song.

Do these sound like the words of someone who doesn’t think that evangelism matters? Do they sound like the words of someone who opposes evangelism? It seems very clear to me that in this passage, Gill was advocating the proper “use of means for the propagation of the gospel to the heathen.”

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Responses

  1. Thanks for this. I look forward to reading more on this particular subject, as I was surprised to discover recently that not all agree with Dr. Curt D. Daniel, which in and of itself is merit to read Gill for myself.

    I’ve subscribed and pray God is glorified through this blog and your studies of John Gill.

  2. In his Body of Practical Divinity (Of Respective Duties of Parents and Children), Gill clearly advocated the use of means in the evangelism of children. Because he was a Baptist (i.e did not presume the regeneration of covenant children), we need not hesitate in affirming that he would advocate these very same means in the evangelism of all unbelievers. Here a snippet that I think is often overlooked in this regard;

    “Though I cannot say I truly approve of the method of education used by some good people;
    as by teaching them the Creed, a form of belief, saying, I believe, so and so, before they have any
    knowledge of and faith in divine truths; and to babble over the Lord’s Prayer, as it is commonly
    called, and other forms of prayer; which seems to have a tendency to direct them to rest in an
    outward form, and to trust in an outward show of righteousness; which they need not be taught to
    do, it is natural unto them; and whenever they receive the grace of God, all this must be untaught and undone again. It is proper to instruct them in the necessity of faith in God and in Christ, and of the use of prayer; and to lay before them the sinfulness of sin, and show them what an evil thing it is, and what are the sad effects of it; to teach them their miserable estate by nature, and the way of recovery and salvation by Christ; and to learn them from childhood to read and know the holy scriptures, according to their capacity; and by these to be “admonished” of sin, and of their duty, to fear God, and keep his commandments; which may be meant by the “admonition of the Lord”; and the proper opportunity should be taken to instil these things into their minds, when their minds begin to open, and they are inquisitive into the meaning of things; (see Deut. 6:20) and these several
    respective duties are to be carefully attended to; since the peace and order of families, the good of
    the commonwealth, and the prosperity of the church, and increase of the interest of Christ, greatly depend upon them.”

    For what its worth, I don’t see a whole lot of hyper-calvinism here either! 🙂

  3. Awesome blog, thank you for maintaining it.


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