Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
01/21/2005 - James WhitePaul Owen, well known to our readers, has been reviewing Guy Prentiss Waters' new work, Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul (P&R, 2004). J. Ligon Duncan had spoken with me about this work while I was speaking at the 400th anniversary celebration of the beginning of the translation of the King James Version in Manhattan last year. He then kindly sent me Waters' lectures on the topic. I will be writing a review of the work myself for the Reformed Baptist Theological Review. In any case, I've been following Owen's rambling response to Waters in the form of an "open letter" on reformedcatholicism.com. Today I suffered through some truly amazing stuff to find this at the end:
Before wrapping this up, let me just say that I appreciated your concise handling of 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Romans 5:18-19; and Romans 5:9-10, 12 on pp. 172-174. I thought that your handling of these passages, though brief, revealed great exegetical instincts, and was right on the money. We have every right, on the basis of such passages (as well as Romans 4:5-6 and 10:4) to reject the path of scholars like Wright and Gundry (and to some degree Seifrid), and instead to hold on to the doctrine of Christ's imputed righteousness.If you are a long-time reader of my blog, and are familiar with events back over the summer, you probably just fainted. Yes, this is the same Paul Owen who wrote one of the most mean-spirited, nasty, personal hit-pieces against me I have ever seen all in defense of Dr. Seifrid, and for what? I dared to disagree with Seifrid's views on justification and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. And here Owen casually associates Seifrid, "to some degree," with Wright and Gundry on the very same issue! At least I was kind enough to fully document my statements from Seifrid's own writings. The irony is only heightened in that Waters' book is endorsed by Dr. Mohler! Waters identifies Seifrid as holding a non-standard view in this area in the book, just as I did. If Owen was justified to attack me so vociferously and personally six months ago for noting Seifrid's position and disagreeing with it, what has changed so that he can say these things now?
Secondly, I have to wonder: since I have been presenting 2 Corinthians 5:21 as one of the key passages relevant to NPism for quite some time now, and since I have presented on the Dividing Line, on our website, and in recorded lectures on this topic, a very full, and documented discussion of Wright's exegesis of that text, and have offered a counter exegesis that, while significantly fuller than the brief comments in Waters' work, coincides with his views completely, why does Waters' have "great exegetical instincts" and I remain, according to Owen, an utter dolt? Could we have here a glowing example of a double standard on Owen's part, where what one writes, teaches, or preaches, does not matter, but only where one went to school? One is forced to wonder.
A Great New Resource
01/21/2005 - James WhiteSome friends of mine recently showed me their new copies of A Reader's Greek New Testament from Zondervan. I was immediately in love. There is nothing more enjoyable than spending some time in the text, just reading, and this particular volume will help all of you who have studied the language through "first year" in the past to pick up the text once again and just spend time reading. It assumes a 30-word vocabulary; i.e., that you know all words used 30 or more times in the NT (that is a list of approximately 460 words). At the bottom of the page, instead of the textual notes, you have brief definitions given for those words used less than 30 times. Hence, you can carry the text anywhere (it is barely 3/4 of an inch thick) and sit back and translate whenever you have the opportunity to do so. And the price is right: Amazon has it for right at $20.00.
Positives: Easy to carry. Nice leather-like cover (it is called "Italian Duo-Tone," whatever that is, but it's nice). Gold page edges, nice paper.
Negatives: The font is horrible. It is neither the clear, italic-like UBS font, nor the NA27 font, nor the BibleWorks font, nor the Mounce font. It is italicized, extremely so. It may be difficult for some to read, to be honest, but surely nothing that one can't get used to over time.
Christ's Atoning Work: Intent, Extent, Union, Substitution, Ordo Salutis (Part III)
01/21/2005 - James White
With this installment I conclude my response to Dr. Svendsen on the issue of the extent and intention of the atoning work of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Dr. Svendsen expressed what he sees as the most fundamental disagreement between us in these words:
Here I think is our most fundamental disagreement. I think this statement assumes something like "the death of Christ is effectual"-which is the very question in debate, and so the cross (the death of Christ) itself does not make application "beyond question." Indeed, that is the question. I reject the notion that the death of Christ is the "power" that draws the elect. It is rather the calling of God based on his gracious choice that draws them. The death of Christ provides the necessary grounds for forgiveness, but it is not the forgiveness itself. If it were, and if particular redemption were true, then I do not see how the proponent of that view could escape the theological ramifications that lead to positing eternal justification. On that view, Christ died; he died only for the elect; his death is effectual and he accomplished perfect redemption on the cross. Therefore, all the elect have already been forgiven, and there is no need for belief as the means of justification. On what basis could it be otherwise?...
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Christ's Atoning Work: Intent, Extent, Union, Substitution, Ordo Salutis (Part II)
01/20/2005 - James White
I continue with the second part of my response to Dr. Eric Svendsen comprising our discussion on the extent and intention of the atoning work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
2) Other than the issue of the unity of the work of sacrifice and intercession, the issue of substitution and union with Christ seems the most important difference in our views. I believe I am presenting a "normal" view of the ordo salutis when I say that we were chosen "in Christ" before time itself began, and that while once again we experience union with Christ as time-bound creatures, our experience cannot be allowed to determine the divine reality and order. I believe Christ took my place, substitutionarily, upon the cross of Calvary purposefully, intentionally, out of redemptive love, bearing in Himself the penalty of my sin. And I do not believe He substitutionarily, purposefully, intentionally, out of redemptive love, bore in Himself the penalty due to the sin of Pharoah. If substitution is merely time-bound and does not contain the eternal aspect most Reformed writers have always affirmed, then at the time of Calvary Christ's death was only substitutionary for those who had died or at that time believed in Christ; it would then become substitutionary in behalf of individuals as they believe on Him through time, though what this would mean I honestly cannot begin to say. As far as I can see, either the elect were united with Christ in His death en toto, or the entire idea of substitution becomes irrelevant. I believe the reality of our election in Christ makes our union with Christ a divine reality even before our temporal existence (as noted above: the eternal determines the form of the temporal, not vice-versa, though we as time-bound creatures, looking from "below," struggle to see this, and hence must allow the Word to be the lens through which we see this tremendous truth) and birth, so that in a very real sense the elect were, in fact, "crucified with Christ." I honestly do not see how, if union with Christ is made parallel to justification and placed in the temporal realm, that the idea of substitution can be made tenable. ...
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Christ's Atoning Work: Intent, Extent, Union, Substitution, Ordo Salutis (Part I)
01/19/2005 - James WhiteBoth Eric Svendsen and I are very busy these days, and as I'm sure he will affirm, most of that busy-ness has nothing to do with Dave Armstrong. I have so many articles to write I can barely keep track of them all (in fact, I have this horrible feeling I've forgotten one), and an exciting book project to work on, and more traveling heading my direction, as well as debate preparation (we finally have a Roman Catholic opponent for the Great Debate X!---more info soon, and I am debating Bob Wilkin in April). So, I have approached our discussion very carefully, and very slowly, simply because there are only so many hours in the day.
Further, I really want this conversation to be beneficial in an encouraging, edifying way. The only folks really interested in this topic are very serious about the Word and God's truth. I could really care less what others might say about the interchange. To be honest, the vast majority of the folks Eric and I take on regularly would no more wish to get down into the trenches of biblical exegesis than they would like to have a root canal. They avoid it like the plague, and I'm not just talking about Roman Catholics here, that's for sure.
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The Heritage of God's People
01/01/2005 - James WhitePsalm 138:6-8
For though the LORD is exalted,
Yet He regards the lowly,
But the haughty He knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
You will revive me;
You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
The LORD will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
Notice: "the haughty He knows from afar" = God is not close to the arrogant; the presence of God humbles.
"You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies" = our enemies will express their wrath, but God sees, and God acts
God's lovingkindness ds,x, is everlasting: chesed is the embodiment in Hebrew of grace, mercy, and faithfulness in Greek.
"Do not forsake the works of Your hands" = only the cry of the heart of the pot that accepts and rejoices in his or her createdness; it takes grace to see yourself as the work of God's hands.