Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Carpenter Continues His Rant
02/28/2005 - James WhiteAfter sending out his "response" (the one I responded to a little earlier) to the same folks he sent out his "White isn't a Christian anyway" e-mail (and posting it on a yahoo discussion group), Carpenter finally got around to sending it to me, prefaced with the following:
On your web site, you have a post entitled "Hyper Calvinism Revisited" (21 February) in which you misrepresent me (and, by extension, misrepresent those with whom I fellowship). If you are going to refute what I say, then at least refute what I say, rather than your misrepresentations of me. If you are a man of integrity, you will post my defense on your web site or at least tell your readers where you falsely accused me and publicly recant your false accusations. However, since I do not believe you are a man of integrity, I'm not holding my breath.I sure have been running into the odd ones lately, haven't I?
Marc Carpenter Is NOT a Calvinist
02/28/2005 - James WhiteMarc Carpenter of outsidethecamp.org has written another article, "responding" to my comments on his e-mail in which he judges my heart and declares me an unregenerate unbeliever. It is odd indeed, when you realize that this man's tiny little group seems to encompass, in their thinking, the entirety of the Kingdom of God, that he would be writing and complaining about my response when I was responding to an e-mail he sent out denying I am a follower of Christ but instead insisting that I am still in my sins and he had not even bothered to send it to me! Truly amazing. In reading this response, we learn that though Carpenter believes in the "five points" he is not, in fact, a Calvinist, let alone a hyper-Calvinist. Well, it is quite true he is not a Calvinist. I'm glad we can all tell everyone that Marc Carpenter is not a Calvinist so that they will not view him as representing us. That's a good thing. I guess it is very useful to have the authority to keep redefining your position. In any case, it seems rather obvious that Carpenter's beliefs experience the same imbalance that hyper-Calvinists do, but he doesn't want to be called a hyper-Calvinist. Ah, the joy of definitions.
There are a lot of really cult-like characteristics to Carpenter's thinking and behavior. Here is a paragraph from his e-mail/response/article (he has posted it on the web). Try to follow this one, if you can:
I have never said that Christians must be willing to condemn these people to the fires of hell itself and if they don't they're not Christians. I myself don't condemn them to the fires of hell! So if what you said were true, I'd have to say that I'm not a Christian! I have never condemned anyone to the fires of hell itself. Give evidence for your accusation or tell everyone that you have falsely accused me. Among the unregenerate, we do not know who is and who is not elect. It is not for us to know or to judge whether an unregenerate person is going to go to heaven or to hell. And among those who used to be heretics who have died, I don't know if God saved them later on in their lives before they died. So I don't know if they are in heaven or hell. I do not know if anyone in the "Heterodoxy Hall of Shame" is in hell right now. God could have saved them after they made the quotes I mentioned. What I do know is that they were unregenerate. And what I do know is that those people who are alive right now who believe in universal atonement are unregenerate. Christians do not judge whether or not unregenerate people are going to hell. They do not condemn anyone to hell. What they do do is judge a person who confesses a false gospel to be currently unregenerate. That's a far cry from condemning them to hell. So will you tell everyone you have falsely accused me?
Let's see if we can unpack this. Carpenter says I am unregenerate. Why? Because I do not say that every person who holds to universal atonement is unregenerate. Was this not the whole point of his original e-mail? Where do unregenerate people go when they die? Hell. So how does Carpenter respond? First he says he does not condemn anyone to the fires of hell itself. Ah, but he does claim to know who is regenerate or not, yes? So, his point is, "Well, if you were to die right now, believing as you believe, you will go to hell, but hey, you might believe me before then, and get saved." Now, any rational person knows exactly what I meant by "consigning to the flames of hell." So does Carpenter. So why deny the obvious? He is here saying exactly what I said he said: that to disbelieve his views is to deny the gospel and to be unregenerate, and obviously, to remain in that disbelief of Carpenter to one's death results in what? One's going to hell. An entire paragraph dedicated to emptiness.
Another great quote from this response is, "Give evidence that I have changed my stance over the years. You won't find it. When we find out things about people (such as Calvin), then we expose them. That does not mean we have changed our stance." Prior to his "discovering" Calvin's "views" did Carpenter eschew being identified as a Calvinist? How could he not be aware of what Calvin, and his successors, believed? It truly makes one wonder! Here's another revealing portion: I had written, "It would be an honor to join Calvin, Berkhof, Boettner, Hodge, Spurgeon and others for refusing Carpenter's "Perfection of Knowledge Required for Salvation" heresy." Carpenter replies, "Interestingly, he doesn't name everyone in the Heterodoxy Hall of Shame. What about Billy Graham, Mr. White? What about Robert Schuller? Would it be an honor to join them?" No, I did not mention them, and no, it would not be a honor to join them, and the very fact that Carpenter can't see the differences between those people and their views is one of the best examples I can see of his errors! All is black and white: everyone outside the microscopic field of orthodoxy defined by Marc Carpenter is "the same." How very sad, and how utterly untrue.
At this point Carpenter melts down into an utterly irrational tirade, using caps and underlining and every other form available to make sure we all know he is quite upset and yelling loudly that he does not believe that perfection of knowledge is required for salvation. Of course, this is all screamed in reference to an e-mail in which he decides I am unregenerate for what reason again? Oh, for refusing to condemn every Arminian to hell...err, for refusing to say anyone who believes in universal atonement and has not seen the inconsistenty of such a belief with substitutionary atonement is, by virtue of that ignorance or confusion, deprived of spiritual life, the Holy Spirit, justification, etc., and, if they continue in said ignorance or confusion, they will go to hell. Hmm, well, that sounds like Mr. Carpenter is indeed arguing for the need of a perfection of knowledge, does it not? It is sad, indeed, to watch the contortions he goes through to promote his unique beliefs, it truly is.
But one thing is for sure. I'm glad Mr. Carpenter openly eschews any connection to Calvinism. That is very good. Spread the word far and wide.
Lordship Salvation, Faith, Repentance, and Monergism
02/28/2005 - James WhiteOne of the upcoming debates that is sort of "flying below the radar" is my encounter in April in Oklahoma City with Dr. Robert Wilkin, the Executive Director of the Grace Theological Society. Though we had a fair amount of difficulty getting the debate set up, I think its focus upon the nature of regeneration and the issues of monergism and synergism will be helpful. Dr. Wilkin is a leading anti-Lordship advocate. From my perspective, his position is grossly imbalanced because it insists upon only a single element of the truth to the exclusion of everything else. "Faith alone" becomes "faith separated from the work of regeneration, the Spirit, the new nature," etc. Faith without repentance (all repentance passages are consigned to "discipleship"), belief without discipleship, etc. It is a very imbalanced perspective, one that comes from an over-reaction to a works-salvation mindset.
Today I ministered the Word in both the morning and evening services at PRBC (and the adult Bible Study class, for that matter), and I spoke from John 8:12-59. One of the passages that struck me, in light of the upcoming debate with Dr. Wilkin, was John 8:51: "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word He will never see death." Keeping Christ's word is surely more than a naked faith (faith without regeneration, faith without a new nature), and yet surely we see the parallel to John 5:24: "Truly, truly, I say to you, the one hearing My word and believing in the One who sent ME has eternal life and shall not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."
There are so many passages that are utterly unintelligible, outside of special pleading, in the anti-Lordship "naked faith" position. Two come to mind immediately:
how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:20-21) How do you separate repentance toward God and faith in Christ in this passage?
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14) Saving grace teaches us to live sensibly and righteously; and the people of God in Christ are without question described as "zealous for good deeds."
Reformed theology cuts the ground out from underneath the position presented by Wilkin, for the faith that saves is the work of the Spirit in regeneration itself, and hence cannot possibly be separated from the rest of the work of the Spirit. Hence, there is no contradiction between saying that a person who believes has eternal life and saying that a person who keeps Christ's word has will never see death. Only the synergist has to struggle to explain the relationship: the monergist has a consistent understanding.
I will be noting many more problems with the non-Lordship position in future commentaries.
Hugh Nibley Dies at Age 94
02/27/2005 - James WhiteIf you do not know the name Hugh Nibley, you are not familiar with Mormonism and Mormon apologetics. He was the father of the modern movement that is today F.A.R.M.S., the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, the chief arm of LDS apologetics out of BYU. Oh, he wasn't the only source of LDS apologetics: that movement really predated him, in essence, in the likes of Talmage and Roberts. But its modern incarnation found its impetus in his blustery denunciation of Fawn Brodie's work on Joseph Smith. And then, with the discovery of the papyri upon which the Book of Abraham was based, Nibley was unwillingly vaulted into the forefront of its defense. The body of "work" he produced in defense of this hopelessly false work can only cause one to wince at an obviously great intellect trying to defend the indefensible.
Nibley has quietly faded from the scene over the past few decades, dying at age 94. Sadly, recently a book was released from a family member alleging misconduct on his part on the basis of "repressed memories" and the like: I find that kind of thing grossly reprehensible. Nibley was wrong, dead wrong, about the gospel, but you will never, ever find myself, or anyone from this ministry, using that kind of dirty, cheap rumor mongering. It is horrible and makes me sick. If you'd like to see how to respond to Nibley, here is an article to read. It contains an old, and I do mean old, conversation back from the days of BBSing wherein I took on Nibley's comments as they were presented by an LDS apologist.
Hugh Nibley now knows there is only one true God, and that man is not of the same species as God. He has learned the elements of the LDS temple ceremony that were removed in 1990 (to which he took great exception, and for good reason, given what LDS believed about the endowment ceremony being part of revelation) were the least of his problems. If he went into eternity still believing what he taught all his life, he stands before a holy God who is not an exalted man, and he stands before him without the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Such an event reminds us of the importance of speaking the truth to the LDS people while it is still day.
How Many Roman Catholics Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?
02/26/2005 - James WhiteOS_X in channel wrote this one and said I inspired it, so I could used it:
Answer: Seven PLUS one Protestant. One Protestant to nail a sign to the door of the monastery in Latin, explain 95 reasons why the light is burned out, THEN, one Catholic to call Rome and ask if it's okay to change the bulb, one to hold the ladder for the other one to climb and change it, one to hide the ladder and deny the bulb ever burned out, two to convene a council to declare any view that the bulb EVER burned out as heretical and one to cut and paste responses from Catholic Answers to show Protestants that the bulb really didn't change, it DEVELOPED.
Christian Convert Killed in Iraq
02/26/2005 - James WhiteThe following appears on numerous news websites, etc.:
Ziwar Muhammad Isma’il, a Christian convert from a Muslim background, has been shot and killed for his faith, according to Middle East Concern.
The tragedy seems to be part of a growing hostility towards Christians in the country as the threat of military action increases.
Ziwar, who worked as a taxi driver in Zakho, in the Kurdish authority area of North Iraq, was shot by Abd al-Karim Abd al-Salam at a taxi rank early in the morning on 17 February.
Abd al-Salam approached Ziwar and challenged him to return to Islam. When Ziwar refused he opened fire with an automatic rifle.
Other taxi drivers gave chase, apprehending Abd al-Salam and handing him over to the police. Abd al-Salam claims that the Islamic prophet Muhammad appeared to him in a dream and told him to kill Ziwar.
Ziwar converted to Christianity seven years ago. Unlike many converts from Islam Ziwar had been quite open about his faith and, as a result, he had been threatened by his relatives and other Muslims and twice arrested, though not charged. Ziwar leaves a widow and five children.
All the major schools of Islamic law (Shari’ah) agree that Muslim men who convert from Islam should be put to death, their marriages annulled, and their children and property taken away. This tradition is upheld and taught by many Muslim religious leaders around the world. In countries like Iran, Sudan and Saudi Arabia the death sentence for leaving Islam is part of the law of the land. In other countries they may be arrested on various pretexts and often beaten, tortured or imprisoned.
Even under more moderate Muslim authorities, such as those in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, converts may still face widespread hostility and aggression from their own families and communities. In several countries converts have been murdered by Islamic extremist groups, others have been killed by individual Muslims who believe they are doing the will of Allah by taking the law into their own hands.
Woops, Forgot the DL Link
02/25/2005 - James WhiteSorry, forgot to provide the link to yesterday's DL! My apologies. Yesterday I started off discussing the illness of the Pope in Rome, and then we took calls. Here's the link.
Why Reformed Catholicism Isn't
02/25/2005 - James WhiteThe folks over at reformedcatholicism.com would like us to think they are still Reformed in some meaningful fashion. But I simply ask you to read their own self-chosen subtitle to their site:
Now, I know it is very dangerous to actually attempt interpretation of even a text this short (who can, truly, really know what anything means anymore?). But something tells me the author of said subtitle, in the second half, is claiming that they, the rC's, hold to the "living faith of the dead," i.e., they live consistently in light of the "catholic consensus" going back to their forebears. But, obviously, these folks define themselves far more by what they are opposed to than by what they are for, so the first half of the sentence can mean nothing more than those who oppose them, or reject their primary thesis, have a "dead faith," a modern pseudo-faith that is disconnected from, and utterly different than, that of the "catholic church" as they define it. It is hardly surprising to those of us who have been quietly watching the discombobulation of the movement itself to see the inevitable distancing from, and finally attacking of, the "solas" of the Reformation. When we first said it would happen we were mocked: and given the fair amount of post-modernism in that camp, what was said a year ago is now subject to death by a thousand qualifications and heart-felt "re-interpretation." So it hardly matters from their perspective. But in any case, once again we see that the experiment in mixing fire and water doesn't work. Oxymorons are still oxymorons even in a post-modern age.
How Not To Do Exegesis, by J.P. Holding
02/25/2005 - James WhiteLibronics is happy again. Norton re-installed (n.b. to anyone who tries to de-install and re-install Norton SystemWorks: DON'T!), BibleWorks fonts close to where they were, things looking pretty much as they were (just running a LOT faster), and all the humorous Mac e-mails filed away (even got a blog entry out of my comments about the Mac cult--maybe Mac's don't allow you to close an e-mail you have already begun?). So I can turn a small bit of attention back to the blog, at least for a little while (I might be able to blog a bit in England, but if the choice is between blogging and seeing a at the British Museum, well, don't bother hitting "reload" too often).
I won't apologize again for having taken the time to begin a brief discussion of the ramifications of the arguments of "J.P. Holding" on election. I had honestly been sent portions of his article numerous times, and it is my hope next week to post a few items documenting further errors on his part relating to the exegesis of Romans 9 (and simple hermeneutical practice as a whole). The response from him has been very disappointing, especially to those who had, in some fashion, believed him to be "on the same page" in essence in reference to apologetics. It is amazing to me that he has latched onto the brainchild of the Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina (the preferred route of intellectual Protestants seeking a way out of actually believing in the freedom of God and the enslavement of men to sin) while admitting he had not heard of the theory of middle knowledge before. I guess he does not see that such an admission should be accompanied by a commensurate unwillingness to utilize a flame-thrower.
Today I was referred to a new article he has posted on Romans 9. It makes the same errors as the preceding material, depends on the same miscroscopic range of scholarship, etc., but this time it contains, sadly, what was not a part of the original: venom. And that is what I mean by "how not to do exegesis." Holding is obviously not willing to budge an inch (and given that, to my knowledge, he cannot handle the original languages himself, it seems a very odd attitude to have), and hence when pressed turns to the weapon of choice of such folks: ad-hominem. This is not how you do exegesis. It is how you defend your tradition to the death, but it is not how you actually listen to the text. It also tends to determine your conclusions from the start. To what do I refer? Well, let's let the first few sentences of the article speak for themselves:
Now, isn't it odd? I mean, when I began my response I noted it would be posted over time. Holding felt this was unacceptable. He decried my use of a blog and the posting of material in portions. Yet, just what is the logical difference between posting on a blog over time, and posting an article and saying, "I will be adding to this as I dig up more resources"? Further, if he is still digging up resources, why the dogmatic stance, to the point of acting in such a manner as these words indicate? The man is a master at mockery of Christians---is that the attitude of one who is still "availing" himself of "further resources"? I think not. In any case, I will post my response, without referring to Mr. Holding's ancestory, but only to his claims, as soon as I can. And then I shall be done with it, for while I have to engage the claims of nasty apologists from various groups, I do not have to respond to "evangelicals" who act in the exact same manner.The Bubba Club BrokenSeeing as how certain Calvinist alpha males and their junior apes have chosen to make monkeys of themselves responding to our material, it seemed judicious to provide what they think is not present, and hoist their own rug of "exegesis" out from under them. The following is our exegesis of Romans 9 in "bubba club" format -- showing that it does not support the Calvinist view, and melds hand in glove with the scholarship we have been consulting for the subject. This is a draft that will be added to as we avail ourselves of further resources.
An Atomistic Exegesis of Romans 9
James Patrick Holding
Why Amazon Should Dump Stupid Reviews
02/25/2005 - James WhiteA while back in my response to Mark Bonocore's errors regarding Irenaeus and a few other matters, I noted his association with Dr. Art Sippo, a medical doctor and Roman Catholic "apologist" of sorts (if angry ad-hominem and blustering denunciation can be equated with doing apologetics). I first encountered Sippo in Toledo, Ohio in 1991. It does not look like his behavior has improved a lot since then. This afternoon as I was continuing the wonderful process of re-installing dozens and dozens of programs (and flirting with disaster as I hunted down every reference to "Norton" in my registry) someone in channel mentioned that Sippo had posted a "review" of my book, Scripture Alone, at amazon.com. Now, for years I have rolled my eyes as my opponents have posted nasty reviews on Amazon. It is so utterly childish, so infantile, to pretend these screeds are "reviews." The review function at Amazon, in these cases, does nothing but provide an opportunity for folks to vent, or more often, spew their hatred of myself, or more importantly, for the gospel and the truth. So, I went over and read Sippo's "review." It was so absurd, so poorly written, that I decided I would not even bring it to Amazon's attention. Anyone who has read the book cannot help but realize Sippo hasn't, or, if he has, he is desperately dishonest. In either case, of course, it is not his intention to impact those who have read it: he is seeking to keep others from doing so. So, here's Sippo's review. Just remember to close your mouth when you are done.
In this book Mr. White merely asserts his private opinion about the nature of the Bible but fails to give a single complelling (sic) reason for accepting his views other than theolgical (sic) preference. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. White provides none of this.
he (sic) whole book acan (sic) be summmed (sic) up as follows: "If you want to beleive (sic) my theological conclusions, then you have to accept my premises." Using this he tries to confirm people in their prejudices and does not allow for any disageement within the house of faith.
Mr. White assumes a lot about the Bible without any grounding or proof. There is a good reason for this. In typical Protestant fashion, he has divorced himself from historic Christianity and its witness to the Scritures (sic). Consequently, he cannot with integrity appeal to the authroity (sic) of tradition in support of his views. He makes some mention of the authority of the Bible in the pre-Deformation Church but fails to give the corresponding evidence that Tradition and the "Regula Fidei" were also held to be norms of faith by the very people he quotes.
A far better treatment of this topic is an appendix on 'sola scriptura' in the book "Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants" by Dr. Daniel H. Williams. Dr. Williams is an acknowledged international expert on the Arian Controversy and has a REAL doctorate from an accredited university. His short appendix totally undermines the idea that 'sola scriptura' ever represented sound Christian teaching.
02/24/2005 - James WhiteWell, I try to look at it positively. My system had been upgraded from Win98 to Win2k and then WinXP. The body of data encompassed in the system registry was OLD. We found stuff in there from programs I had last used when I had hair! So when we just couldn't find out why the new motherboard was not working, we decided to commit Windowcide and start all over. So yes, I'm installing, resetting, installing, resetting, tweaking font sizes, finding registration numbers, installing, and resetting. Hence, no blogs for the past 48 hours. My apologies, but as they say, when you live by technology, you die by technology. P.S. Mac cult members, and Unix snobs, please close the e-mail you just started. I'M NOT INTERESTED.
Hays Continues Disassembling Holding
02/22/2005 - James WhiteFour more devastating refutations (#1, #2, #3, #4) of the man who evidently has no idea how to handle being in way over his head. Yes, I do intend on continuing that series, though given the level to which Holding has sunk in his responses to both myself and Steve Hays, I have no interest at all in engaging him in yet another endless go-round of invective-filled rhetoric. I gladly grant to him the ability to engage in ad-hominem argumentation to a level far beyond my meager capacity. Also, in case you were wondering, I plan on getting to my final comments on the issue of the atonement, substitution, and especially union with Christ, but I am heading for the "intense travel" period, and blogging will become a bit sporadic in the not too distant future.
Today on the Dividing Line: Laughter
02/22/2005 - James WhiteBeen a wild day here, as my main computer is down for the count (upgrading issues---all techies understand the issues). Here's today's DL. Some will want to skip to the last twenty minutes or so...if you lack a sense of humor. Others will enjoy the lighthearted program. I've given up trying to please everyone. :-)
The Blessedness of Blindness?
02/22/2005 - James WhiteI was translating John 9 last night before going to bed, and was struck by the following dialogue (super-functional translation warning):
The blind man said to Jesus, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshipped Jesus. Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see may see, and so that those who see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees who followed Him around heard what He said, and said to Him, "We are not blind as well, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were really blind, you would not be guilty of sin. But since you claim that you can see, your sin remains."Blind beggar, born blind for the purpose of this very encounter with Christ. Makes fools out of the religious elite by having common sense in seeing God's hand in his own healing (was that not the unpardonable sin in Matthew: the twistedness of those who saw in the work of the Spirit the mark of Satan himself?). Is cast out for his troubles. Jesus seeks him out (Shepherd seeks the lost sheep---very next chapter!) Jesus identifies Himself, speaks of faith. The man believes and worships. What does his faith and worship produce? Jesus explains that He has come for a purpose, and it is not what you normally hear about during the 14th verse of Just As I Am. He has come for judgment, and the judgment involves sight. The blind are made to see, the seeing are made blind. Obviously, though He has healed a blind man, the action was metaphorical in the sense that it pointed to a greater reality: the physical healing pictured a spiritual reality (just as in John 11 and the raising of Lazarus!). The blind man could see what the Pharisees could not. They who thought they could see were, in reality, blind, and when Jesus says this, the little group of spies who followed Him around, trying to catch Him in His words, reporting to the big-wigs back in Jerusalem, knew He was talking about them, and so they ask Him bluntly if His words applied to them. He just as bluntly says yes: since they claim to see (and in fact do not), their sin abides or remains.
We need to be reminded, often, of the powerful Christ, the Christ who walks the pages of the gospels, but whose presence is often muted by our traditions and our fear of the faces of men. The Jesus of the Gospels tramples all over the canons of political correctness.
The Qur'an in the Light of God-breathed Scripture: Shirk, Trinity, Christ, in Surah 5
02/21/2005 - James WhiteVery few Christians have ever read the Qur'an, but the interest in the topic has grown steadily since 9/11. We have been looking at some passages from the Qur'an and comparing them with God's Word, the Bible. One will find a great deal of the most important passages relating to Islam and the Christian faith in Surahs 4, 5, and 6. Here is an example from Surah 5:
72. Certainly they have disbelieved who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Maryam (Mary)." While Christ himself said: "O children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Rabb and your Rabb." Whoever commits shirk (joins partners with Allah), Allah will deny him the paradise, and the hellfire will be his home. There will be no helper for the wrongdoers.Just a few quick observations on the text:
73. Certainly they are unbelievers who say: "Allah is one of three in a Trinity." There is no god except One Allah. If they do not stop saying what they say, a painful punishment will befall the disbelievers among them.
74. Will they not then turn to Allah and seek His forgiveness? Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
75. Christ, the son of Maryam, was no more than a Rasool; many Rasools had already passed away before him. His mother was a truthful woman; they both ate earthly food like other human beings. See how the Revelations are made clear to them to know reality; yet see how they ignore the truth!
76. Ask them: "Would you worship besides Allah someone who can neither harm nor benefit you? While Allah is He who hears all and knows all."
1) Mohammed did not understand the doctrine of the Trinity. This could be due either to unorthodoxy on the part of the Christians he encountered earlier in his life, or simple ignorance on his part of what they were attempting to communicate to him. In either case, the Qur'an is seriously flawed in its view of the Trinity, and as a result, Muslims who accept the Qur'an as the final authority will not even allow for the correction offered by a Christian.
2) Once again, remember that to believe in the Trinity is to commit "shirk" in Islamic belief, the joining of partners with Allah (despite our constant insistence that we are monotheists to the core). And though it seemed the Qur'an had offered forgiveness to Christians in v. 68 of the same section, here we see that such mercy from Allah is only for those willing to "believe." To believe in the Trinity is to "disbelieve" the message of the Qur'an. ...
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Hyper Calvinism Revisited
02/21/2005 - James WhiteI noted a while back the response of a hyper-Calvinist to the announcement of the topic of the tenth in the Great Debate Series on Long Island, "Can a Non-Christian Enter Heaven?" Despite my lengthy history of apologetic interaction with Rome, my consistent affirmation of the fact that Rome does not possess the gospel of Jesus Christ, and my defense of Reformed soteriology against the likes of Norman Geisler, George Bryson, and Dave Hunt, hyper-Calvinists have chosen to use this opportunity to make sure everyone understands: it is not enough for you to believe in the Five Points: unless you 1) confess you were not a Christian until you understood and believed all Five Points, and 2) are willing to condemn to the fires of hell itself every person who does not understand and believe all five points in totality, you are not a Christian either (evidently that makes seven points you must believe). So, the theme out of the hyper camp is that both the debaters June 9th, Bill Rutland, the Roman Catholic, and James White, the Calvinist, are unregenerate, lost men! You can believe all Five Points, but, if you don't believe their "Extra Two," you are as lost as a Roman Catholic who affirms every element of Rome's false teaching.
One of the best known hyper-Calvinists is Marc D. Carpenter of outsidethecamp.org. I have denounced Carpenter repeatedly in the past, and watched with sadness as he has spiraled over the years into an ever tighter circle of error. The man is so hyper he has added John Calvin to his "Heterodoxy Hall of Shame" page (see for yourself). One of my great failures in life is that I haven't made it onto this page. It would be an honor to join Calvin, Berkhof, Boettner, Hodge, Spurgeon and others for refusing Carpenter's "Perfection of Knowledge Required for Salvation" heresy. Mr. Carpenter sent out an e-mail Saturday about the upcoming debate. I present it below in blockquote, with my comments/response interspersed. ...
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Hays on Holding...Continued
02/20/2005 - James WhiteDemonstrating that he has significantly more patience with simply outrageous behavior, Steve Hays has responded once again to Holding. One has to wonder when you simply give Holding the last word and find another path upon which to walk. There seems no means to reason with those who are infallible in their own minds. Here are Hays' responses: #1 #2 #3. As a result of this extensive correspondence, I will surely be staying very focused upon solely the exegetical facts of the meaning of "mercy" and the issue of the "negation idiom" and will only use Holding's claims as examples to move into an exegetical discussion.
I See That is Best: But I Just Couldn't Do It
02/19/2005 - James WhiteI was trying to get a laptop back into a meaningful state of functionality after it was sent back to me by Compaq with its original Win2k installation and nothing more on the hd (i.e., waiting for updates to download, installing virus protection, etc.). So I had the TV in the room on, and was watching a 20/20 program on ten popular myths. It was quite interesting. But the last segment was simply amazing, from a Christian point of view, anyway. They talked about forgiveness, and interviewed two women who forgave people of horrible crimes against them and their families. You could see John Stossel struggling with how anyone could forgive others in that fashion. The idea, of course, was that pent-up hatred, to quote one of the people in the segment, is like pouring Draino down your throat: it messes you up. I have used a very similar description. I have said hatred is the battery-acid of emotions.
But what really caught my attention was the final few words offered by Stossel. Paraphrasing, he said, "I really admire these folks for their ability to forgive. I just do not think I would be able to do it." And I sat there thinking, "Exactly. You can't...none of us can...unless."
Col. 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.Those who have not been forgiven find it impossible to forgive. The power that allows us to truly forgive is the same power that has brought us forgiveness. This is one reason why the sticky sentimentality of so much of modern evangelicalism really robs believers of the true power of the Christian faith: we can truly forgive others because we see the cross not as the Big Failure where God tries and fails in so many cases, but for what it truly is. We can see it in its fulness: that place where justice, holiness, wrath, mercy, grace, and love all come together in that one glorious place and time, meeting, and being resolved perfectly, in the Incarnate Son. The person who sees in Christ that perfect atonement for his or her own sins, and understands the great price by which redemption full and free has been purchased, has the ability to forgive others. Only the forgiven forgive. And so Stossel was right: we can't, but He can, in us.
Only Twenty Years Later...
02/18/2005 - James WhiteI had lunch with one of our channel regulars today. He's a student at Grand Canyon University, my alma mater. He was looking through a book sale at the library, and found a 1985 yearbook, and looked me up. Bought it for me for 60 cents. I couldn't really afford the yearbook when I graduated from GCU, so, I got my yearbook today--20 years after graduation. So, I'm looking through the book over lunch going, "Good night, why on earth did we all wear these massively huge glasses and feather our hair?" I mean, we were wearing windshields! Just amazing. Yes, that's me. That's my hair. I can still grow the beard, anyway. I stayed that skinny until 25, then...well, anyway.
Now here is another picture, this the staff of the Christian Studies Department. From left is Dr. Mike Baird, who lost a lot of that hair over the seven years of teaching me Greek. Then Dr. Clark Youngblood. Baird and Youngblood are still teaching at GCU. Next is Dr. J. Niles Puckett. I got to take a few Greek classes from him. Why do I mention this? Because he studied under William Hersey Davis, the student of A.T. Robertson. He was a wonderful, godly man who passed away only a few years ago. And on the right is D.C. Martin. Wow, could I tell stories about Dr. Martin. The low "A" in his classes was a 96. You either loved D.C. or hated him. I learned so much from him. I still see himself in my own teaching twenty years later. I don't recall weeping more profusely at any time than at his memorial service. What a wonderful testimony he left to God's grace. It's great to remember the men God has used to form us and guide us.
A Channel Question
02/18/2005 - James WhiteSomeone came into channel last evening and posted a statement from a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School regarding the interaction between myself and Holding. Specifically, he was making a comment based upon John Piper's September 1979 JETS article that I cited as I began my response. Specifically, he asked about the following:
Heck, for that matter Piper and his take on the LXX is incorrect, since it is the OG and not the LXX. In addition, the translation of the Greek is incorrect since the a? particle shows it should be understood as subjunctive instead of as indicative, something which Piper (IIRC) misses. THEY ARE NOT ALL FUTURES, they are conditionals.I can see why such a statement from a TEDS doctoral student might cause some confusion. A quick response, as best I can understand what he seems to be trying to say. First, Piper used the LXX; each variant noted in his article is from the LXX; I guess this writer has some nomenclature issue between "Old Greek" and LXX for some reason, but such hardly seems like a reason to invest much in the way of bandwidth. Next, I see nothing in Piper saying that "they are all futures." Perhaps the writer is referring to something beyond the JETS article? He does not bother to say, but there is surely nothing in what I cited, or in the JETS article, that Piper "missed." Next, there is no question that the Greek phrase o]n a'n introduces a subjunctive. But that is because it is one way in which Greek expresses the idea of our word "whoever." Joined with the subjunctive verb it expresses that element of contingency we find in the phrase, "I will compassion whoever I compassion, I will mercy whoever I mercy." The mere presence of the phrase and the subjunctive means nothing, of course, outside of its context. The foundation of the contingency is expressed in the context: God's freedom. God chooses to engage in the action of "compassioning" and "mercying." The objects are chosen freely by Him (that is the contingency element expressed by o]n a'n). He compassions or mercies "whoever" He desires. That's the whole point.
How can election in a Calvinist sense be based on subjunctives with conditional particles?
Hence, it is very hard to follow the rhetorical question asked. Election can be based "on subjunctives with conditional particles" because the actual actions are future indicatives and the subjunctives are contingencies delineated by the freedom of God's will. What is so difficult to understand about that?
The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part VIII--Finale!)
02/18/2005 - James WhiteBut let us hurry to the real issue: Armstrong wrote, "...Christians were, therefore, bound to elements of Pharisaical teaching that were not only nonscriptural, but based on oral tradition, for this is what the Pharisees believed." Armstrong assumes no distinction between practice, interpretation, or doctrine, regarding the teaching of the Pharisees, ignoring the function of the seat of Moses in the synagogue, and assuming an entire mountain of later Roman Catholic concepts in the process. But there is a simple, easy way of determining if Armstrong's central assertion is true (indeed, without it, the rest of his argument is vacuous and irrelevant): are we to seriously believe that the opening words of the condemnation of the Pharisees and scribes for their hypocrisy and opposition to God's truth are in fact commendations of the theology of the Pharisees, so that their extra-biblical traditions are to be taken as normative for Christians? Let's test this theory. Remember Armstrong's claim:
...it was precisely the extrabiblical (especially apocalyptic) elements of Pharisaical Judaism that New Testament Christianity adopted and developed for its own---doctrines such as resurrection, the soul, the afterlife, eternal reward or damnation, and angelology and demonology (all of which the Sadducees rejected).And yet, in the immediately preceding chapter, the Lord Jesus had defended the truth about the resurrection (did He get this truth from the Pharisees or did the Pharisees simply believe the truth about the subject?) against the Sadducees, had He not? And how did He do so? If we are to believe Armstrong, he would do so by reference to Pharisaical tradition, since, as he said, the Old Testament is not clear enough, and besides, it is much clearer in the oral traditions, correct? Of course not! How did Jesus respond? ...
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Many Thanks to Steve Hays
02/17/2005 - James WhiteOK, so you may need to keep dictionary.com open on your browser, but it is well worth your effort. Steve Hays has commented on the current state of dialogue between myself and Mr. Holding. I truly appreciate the perspective he brings as well as his wit. I found myself chuckling frequently in reading through this article. I appreciated especially the last section. I have not, as yet, invested the time to go read through everything Holding has posted---I've been seeing enough being posted in our channel, sent in e-mails, etc., to know its character. I had not seen the quote, however, that Hays chose to comment upon last. He cites:
10. "Sorry, but White clearly does not have his exegetical ducks in a row. I recommend he read Kasemann, Fitzmyer, Esler, and Witherington. That should run the gauntlet for him, and maybe throw in a healthy dose of Cranfield for the grammar."I love when folks who show no evidence of first-hand ability in exegetical work fall back upon listing commentators in this fashion. What is more, the list is quite humorous. You might as well say, "If you really want to get your political ducks in a row, go read Bush, Kerry, Jackson, Boxer and Peroutka." Yeah, that'll give you a real clear view of things. I use Kasemann as a door stop, I will honestly admit (why do I have it? I went to Fuller Seminary!), and learned a lot from Cranfield---however, what strikes me as odd is that I can evaluate Cranfield directly (Greek, Hebrew, textual issues)--can Mr. Holding? If not, why offer this list? Hays commented on the above:
Well, it would be quite a trick for Dr. White to line up all these ducks in a row. Kasemann is a liberal Lutheran duck, Fitzmyer is a liberal Catholic duck, Witherington is an Evangelical Arminian duck, Esler is another liberal duck (subspecies: Anatidae Sanders), while Cranfield is a Barthian duck.
In addition, only two of the five (Esler, Witherington) belong to the sociorhetorical school of criticism. So it would, indeed, be no small feat to point all these ducks in the same direction. However, a quack like Holding may have just the right birdcall to make it happen.
Today on the Dividing Line: I Preached :-)
02/17/2005 - James WhiteMy text was John 8. I just preached. Some seemed to enjoy it. Hope you do, too. Here it is.
Quick Thought on a Busy Day
02/17/2005 - James White'Here is a timely warning when you find your soul adrift in a heavy fog of tribulation... God can chart a straight course in the worst storm. He can be righteous when He uses wicked instruments, and gracious when He dispenses harsh providences. Do not overreact to changes in your temporal (circumstances). Christ told us to expect rough sailing before we reach heaven's shore... Behind the travail of every affliction is a blessing waiting to be born.' - William Gurnall, Daily Readings - Christian In Complete Armour (Feb 15)
Crossan vs. Wright in New Orleans
02/17/2005 - James WhiteThe Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum: Exploring the tensions of Faith and Culture is March 11-12, 2005 and will showcase N. T. Wright and John Dominic Crossan dialoguing on "The Resurrection - Historical Event or Theological Interpretation?" Responses will be made by Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, and others in conjunction with the 2005 Southwest Regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, on the NOBTS campus March 11-12, 2005. Click here. Not quite the same topic as the main debate in Seattle, but very much relevant to the panel discussion on the ship. I will listen to those tapes with as much interest as I have the Crossan/Craig discussion.
02/17/2005 - James WhiteSunday night at PRBC we had a hymn sing, and our new deacon asked that we sing hymn #399, but to a different tune, one that we all knew, and so we did. And we all really liked it. The words were awesome. So here they are, from the ol' Trinity Hymnal:
By grace I'm saved, grace free and boundless;
My soul, believe and doubt it not.
Why stagger at this word of promise?
Hath Scripture ever falsehood taught?
Nay; then this word must true remain:
By grace thou, too, shalt heav'n obtain.
By grace! None dare lay claim to merit;
Our works and conduct have no worth.
God in his love sent our Redeemer,
Christ Jesus, to this sinful earth;
His death did for our sins atone,
And we are saved by grace alone.
By grace! O, mark this word of promise
When thou art by thy sins oppressed,
When Satan plagues thy troubled conscience,
And when thy heart is seeking rest.
What reason cannot comprehend
God by his grace to thee doth send.
By grace! This ground of faith is certain;
So long as God is true, it stands.
What saints have penned by inspiration,
What in his Word our God commands,
What our whole faith must rest upon,
Is grace alone, grace in his Son.
The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part VII)
02/17/2005 - James WhiteRegular readers of this blog are already well aware of the fact that in almost every instance of apologetic conflict with the various religions of men the issue comes down to either the validity and accuracy of the Bible as the Word of God, or, to the proper exegesis of the text of the Bible itself. And surely that is the case here as well. Let's remember the bar Mr. Armstrong sets for his own position regarding Matthew 23:
Jesus teaches that the scribes and Pharisees have a legitimate, binding authority, based on Moses' seat, which phrase (or idea) cannot be found anywhere in the Old Testament. It is found in the (originally oral) Mishna, where a sort of teaching succession from Moses on down is taught. Thus, apostolic succession, whereby the Catholic Church, in its priests and bishops and popes, claims to be merely the custodian of an inherited apostolic Tradition, is also prefigured by Jewish oral tradition, as approved (at least partially) by Jesus himself....Thirdly, because they had the authority and no indication is given that Jesus thought they had it only when simply reading Scripture, it would follow that Christians were, therefore, bound to elements of Pharisaical teaching that were not only nonscriptural, but based on oral tradition, for this is what the Pharisees believed. (43-44, 49)We have already pointed to the many problems with the far-reaching attempt of Armstrong to find in the introduction to the announcement of judgment upon the Pharisees its polar opposite. Rather than seeing the main point in Jesus' words (the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, and the judgments coming upon them), Armstrong's commitment to Rome helps him to find the opposite: Jesus hasn't gotten around to condemning the Pharisees yet; instead, he starts off lauding them as possessors of divine tradition passed down from Moses himself! The screeching transition into the condemnation of them is hard to imagine, but keeping this text consistent with the surrounding inspired material has never been a high priority of those who interpret via Roman decree. ...
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Re-Inventing the Wheel
02/16/2005 - James WhiteA very bright (and encouraging!) medical doctor pointed me to the fact that Steve Hays has already said everything I have said in reference to J.P. Holding's manifold errors, exaggerations, and assorted mis-cues in his article on election. Hays' response appeared in two parts, found here and here. I would still like to take the opportunity to document the exegetical nightmares that flow from this kind of "let's grab some concept out here and turn it into the lens through which we can make this passage inoffensive to our traditions" activity documented so clearly in Holding. Especially useful should be the materials I am working on regarding how you determine the meaning of a word, and how then to recognize wild re-definitions based upon bad argumentation (i.e., why "mercy" really does mean "mercy"). So I will press on, though Hays has already touched upon most everything that needs to be said. Thanks again for heads up on the Hays materials.
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#16)
02/16/2005 - James WhiteJames Bentley uses very poor, or at the least, misleading language, in his description of the text of a. He writes, "Persistently and disturbingly, the codex from Mount Sinai omits cherished sentences of Holy Scripture. In Matthew chapter 17, the disciples of Jesus fail to cast out a devil from an epileptic. Verse 21 in the received text gives Jesus's explanation that such a healing requires much prayer and fasting. Codex Sinaiticus omits the explanation." No, that is not completely true. Bentley seems ignorant of "parallel corruption," a very common phenomenon, especially in the Synoptic Gospels. When one gospel contains a particular phrase, or in this case, explanation, some scribes assumed each gospel would have to contain the same words. If one did not, someone, at some point, either inadvertently (i.e., if the longer version in, say, Luke, is the most commonly cited in the liturgy of the day, a scribe could expand the shorter version in, say, Mark, without even noticing it) or purposefully sought to "harmonize" the parallel accounts. And that is exactly what is taking place here. Compare the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark:
Matthew 17:17-21 17 And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me." 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" 20 And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. 21 "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
Mark 9:25-29 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again." 26 After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, "He is dead!" 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. 28 When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, "Why could we not drive it out?" 29 And He said to them, "This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer."
So, as one can see, a does contain the line, only in Mark 9:29. This may seem like a small point, but it is not. Once again we see the danger of looking at textual critical issues "backwards." We look backwards upon the manuscript tradition. How else can we? We look into the past and seek to understand the genealogical relationships the manuscripts bear to one another. But the texts were created in "the other direction." When we try to move back to the point of origin and look forward at the tradition, we gain an important perspective. If Bentley wanted to be accurate here, he would say, "Sinaiticus displays a text marked at times by brevity, rather than the fuller, later ecclesiastical text, as seen here in an example where the phrase is found in Mark, but not included in the parallel passage in Matthew." But it is easier to simply isolate the manuscript and put it in opposition to the "traditional text," use all the emotional buzz words like "remove" or "delete," and move on from there. And surely that is the usefulness our Islamic authors find in this lengthy quote as well.
Today on the DL: We Get Robbed! And More Review of Patterson
02/15/2005 - James WhiteMainly just a discussion of issues raised by Dr. Patterson in the continuing review of that material, but also a discussion of how a woman stole our outgoing mail pile this morning, in broad daylight! Just unreal. Here's the program.
The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part VI)
02/15/2005 - James WhiteDave Armstrong "shows his cards" so to speak, and in so doing reveals the true motivation behind his use of Matthew 23, in these words:
Thirdly, because they had the authority and no indication is given that Jesus thought they had it only when simply reading Scripture, it would follow that Christians were, therefore, bound to elements of Pharisaical teaching that were not only nonscriptural, but based on oral tradition, for this is what the Pharisees believed. (p. 49)Here we see the full impact of Armstrong's reading, and, I believe, misreading of the entire opening to Matthew 23. The full power of sola ecclesia is here seen, for when you can turn the opening phrases of condemnation of the Pharisees for their hypocrisy into a binding of believers to Pharisaical traditions that are explicitly condemned therein, you are obviously operating with a very, very strong external authority. This is the central assertion, in my opinion, and hence will be the primary focus of my response (which, to the shock of some, I will, eventually, get to).
Next, Armstrong makes the interesting observation that the Pharisees did indeed have their "traditions" that were extra-biblical, and since he is seeking to present as positive a picture of the Pharisees as possible, he identifies the Sadducees as the "Jewish sola Scripturists and liberals of the time," an odd combination when one thinks about it. ...
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Utah Seeks to Kill Free Speech: Thanks, KJVO "Street Preachers"
02/14/2005 - James WhiteUtah State Representative Douglas C. Aagard has introduced a bill in the Utah House, HB0131, found here, that is currently titled, "Access to Health Care Facilities and Places of Worship." It reads in part,
. provides that knowingly approaching within eight feet of a person for the purpose of passing out literature, displaying an object, or engaging in protest or counseling without the other person's consent is a class B misdemeanor if the person is within 100 feet of an entrance door to a health care facility or place of worship;There is no question in my mind, of course, that this is in response to the activities of the KJV Only "Street Preachers" in Salt Lake City and their outrageous behavior exhibited there over the past few years. Their behavior is so far beyond anything that can be identified as rational (let alone Christian) that it has provided a basis for this denial of fundamental free speech rights to everyone (a common result of outrageous behavior). It is very sad to see this being attached to abortion clinics, however, and that under "Republican" sponsorship. The representative who introduced it, as far as I can tell, is a graduate of BYU, which, in Utah, is hardly uncommon, of course, but the chances that he himself has been the object of the ranting and raving of the "street preachers" is still fairly high. Clearly the bill is unconstitutional, but we are talking about Utah here, and unconstitutional laws have to be challenged, sometimes over long periods of time. We no longer go to Utah to pass out tracts at the General Conference, but it is still troubling to see this kind of heavy-handedness on the part of government officials.
. permits recovery of civil damages and injunctive relief against a person who violates the above provisions or who incites another person to violate the above provisions;
A Thought from Isaiah 17
02/14/2005 - James WhiteAt the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church we read through the New Testament in our AM services on the Lord's Day, and the Old Testament in the evenings. Last night I read Isaiah 17. I noted the following as I was reading:
4 Now in that day the glory of Jacob will fade, And the fatness of his flesh will become lean. 5 It will be even like the reaper gathering the standing grain, As his arm harvests the ears, Or it will be like one gleaning ears of grain In the valley of Rephaim. 6 Yet gleanings will be left in it like the shaking of an olive tree, Two or three olives on the topmost bough, Four or five on the branches of a fruitful tree, Declares the LORD, the God of Israel. 7 In that day man will have regard for his Maker And his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel. 8 He will not have regard for the altars, the work of his hands, Nor will he look to that which his fingers have made, Even the Asherim and incense stands. 9 In that day their strong cities will be like forsaken places in the forest, Or like branches which they abandoned before the sons of Israel; And the land will be a desolation. 10 For you have forgotten the God of your salvation And have not remembered the rock of your refuge.I bring the passage to the attention of our fine readers for two reasons. First, the passage contains an "oracle" of condemnation upon idolatry. God's judgment falls, inevitably, upon idolatrous nations, and do not think that because we do not have hideous idols upon every mountain top that we moderns are not guilty of the very same deeds. America is filled with idolatry, from our universities to the capital. But note in the second place that judgment brings repentance in those who are of the remnant, the elect of God. The picture of the "two or three olives on the topmost bough," the 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They are rarely obvious to observation, but they are there, and it is God who preserves them. Further, that day of judgment brings the intended result: "in that day man will have regard for his Maker, and his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel."
When we pray that God would bless a nation, do we really understand what that means? Most often, when a nation is buried in the filth of sin, as Western cultures are today in general, the greatest blessing they can receive is judgment that brings repentance. But that judgment can be very, very painful. But what should our highest priority be? We all know the answer to that question. So, the next time you hear someone say "God bless America," add to the phrase the needed information: "...with repentance."
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#15)
02/14/2005 - James WhiteThe next variant noted by Bentley in reference to Codex Sinaiticus (a) is that found in Luke 24:51. The original reading of a does not have the phrase "and was carried up into heaven." D likewise omits the phrase, as does a wide spectrum of Latin sources and the Sinaitic Syriac. The 25th ed. of the Nestle-Aland did not place the phrase in the main text, but the 26th and following included it. Bentley writes,
The evidence of the manuscript from Mount Sinai was proving more and more difficult to digest. In the received text, Luke chapter 24, verse 51, tells how Jesus left his disciples after his resurrection. He blessed them, was parted from them, 'and was carried up into heaven'. Sinaiticus omits the final clause. As the textual critic C.S.C. Williams observed, if this omission is correct, 'there is no reference at all to the Ascension in the original text of the Gospels'.Once again, a is not the only witness to the end of Luke. We have even earlier witnesses, such as P75, that contain the phrase. It is anticipated by Acts 1:1-2 ("The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up"), though using a different term (which argues for the inclusion, as a later scribal emendation to attempt to bring the shorter version of 24:51 into line with Acts 1:2 would have used the same verbal form, while Luke uses two different forms). So what accounts for the shorter version in a* and D and the Latin manuscripts? One interesting possibility is an error of sight known as homoeoarcton ("similar beginings"), the cousin of a better known error, homoeoteleuton ("similar endings"). While homoeoteleuton is more common, the eye can catch common openings to clauses and as a result skip a clause. In this case, the Greek text reads, into verse 52, ...
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Some Observations on Exegesis and Discernment
02/13/2005 - James WhiteThe discussion of Mr. Holding's comments on Romans 9 has once again raised the issue of the importance of exegesis in theology and apologetics. For those whose faith is determined by externals (various forms of tradition, ecclesiastical, historical, philosophical, etc.), the text of Scripture is more a field of prooftexts that are malleable in nature: they can be formed to "fit" into the mold provided by one's highest authority (tradition in all its forms). Faithful and obedient exegesis is not overly important in that context, for the actual meaning of the text as it was written is not the source of one's faith or belief. But for those who believe the Word to be God-breathed, exegesis is, in fact, the means by which one honors God by allowing Him to speak with clarity. Anything less than the most disciplined approach to the text will inevitably confuse the voice of men with the voice of God.
As I interact with faithful fellow believers, I am often troubled by the fact that for many the most important thing in evaluating someone's explanation of a text of Scripture is not what they actually say, or how they come to the conclusions they do, but instead, who is speaking! That is, we have all seen the most horrific interpretations given a free pass on "Christian television" because "he's a good believer, and he's so passionate, and such a wonderful preacher" etc. and etc. As long as a person is at least marginally orthodox they are given free reign to interpret the Bible in any fashion they wish. Likewise, they may give clear evidence of allowing traditions to result in eisegetical violations of the text based upon their traditions, but rarely are they held accountable for their inconsistencies on that point. "Don't we all have a right to interpret the Bible for ourselves?" is the cry. But let's make sure we are clear here: sola scriptura and the responsibility of each believer before God does not mean we have a right to pillage the text through our inconsistent, ill-informed, ill-disciplined interpretations. ...
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Another Reason to Avoid J.P. Holding
02/12/2005 - James WhiteI checked my AOL e-mail account for the first time in like four months this evening, and found an e-mail from someone informing me that as early as February 2nd (i.e., when I first began responding to Mr. Holding) he began posting on the theologyweb and using as his tagline the following:
Now through Feb. 31: Give to help support the Society for the Preservation of Calvinists Displaced by Social Science Scholarship. For details see http://www.aomin.orgI get the odd feeling that it really would not have mattered what I had to say in response to Mr. Holding: like those who have gone before him, he is infallible in his traditions, beyond the need to do exegesis, and hence quite confident in his denial of God's final freedom in the salvation of His people. I really wonder how many who have followed his writings were aware that the exegesis of the Word of God was to be determined on the basis of "Social Science Scholarship," and that of ancient cultures no less. Think about it: until Mr. Holding discovered the opinions of social scientists who speculate about how ancient cultures "thought," no one had a clue what Romans 9 was all about. And in case you've been wondering how modern social scientists can figure that kind of thing out, well, you see, they have to primarily rely upon...written texts. Yes, the very written texts we are supposed to be discussing (there is precious little other basis for determining what ancient Hebrews believed, of course). So, to accurately handle those texts, you have to be able to exegete them. So, it seems that Mr. Holding is in a bit of a pickle by trying to elevate his chosen interpretive trump card, "social science scholarship," to the point he has, for this "science" would be dependent upon exegesis: how then can exegesis be determined by it? In any case, it is sad to observe this kind of reaction. I'm sure he has some followers who find the kind of bravado represented by that tagline compelling. I'm once again glad to let the serious reader decide.
Holding Onto Hebraisms: James Patrick Holding's Odd Take on Election and Exegesis (Part 5)
02/12/2005 - James WhiteJ.P. Holding spent some time in his essay arguing that God's choice of Jacob over Esau can be seen as a cost/benefit analysis on God's part; that is, he invests a large amount of space discussing hypotheticals (infused with a little Molinism just for the fun of it--no, of course there is no effort to ground Molinism, or any of this, in the text itself) concerning alien planets and different races and the like, all to assert that it seems God chose Jacob because there would be more people "saved" if Jacob was chosen than if Esau was chosen (and I guess God, having that magical "middle knowledge," could "foresee" this). So he writes,
Is there unrighteousness with God? Hardly. "Why not choose me?" -- Esau. At the very least it may be said in reply, "Because look what happens if you do!" Now obviously we are using mere number of saved here as an exemplary hypothesis -- the multiplicity of possibilities and events is much, much more involved, to a degree that blows Job out of the water and into the orbit of Pluto and beyond. Only God can manage the multiplicity! That's why Paul's final answer is the same as it was to Job: "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" In other words, what do you know?This then is what led to the "Hebrew block logic" discussion in the previous installment. I review it here because that was a bit of an "excursus," and you need the previous section to follow what comes next. When Holding comes back to Romans 9:16, the key text he is seeking to answer from a non-Reformed perspective, he writes: "Then we have the matter of Jacob and Esau. Why one over the other? As we have suggested, one might theorize that under Esau, fewer would be saved than Jacob; or otherwise, God's purpose was not served by Esau as it was by Jacob. Simple enough." Of course, the person seeking to hear Paul in his own context, and finding the preceding arguments to be both disconnected from the text, and involving a great deal of eisegesis, has already had to get off Holding' train, so to speak. But leaving that aside, he goes on: ...
But we have not covered every aspect as yet. The crux of election is Romans 9:16 --
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.
It is our contention that Romans 9 may be better understood in terms of the rubric of primary causality. But we anticipate the objection that we would be thereby reading into the text a concept not found therein. Our answer is that we would not expect it to be found within Romans 9 or any explanation offered by Paul -- because such an "explanation expectation" would be the product of a Western low-context mind rather than a Hebrew high-context one, like Paul's.
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My Apologies Once Again
02/11/2005 - James WhiteGoodness. Honestly, I had no idea. I really did not. As I had mentioned, my purpose in responding to J.P. Holding was simply to correct the clear exegetical errors his imposition of some "sociological" understanding of Hebrew culture creates in Romans 9 regarding the free electing grace of God. I was working on something else when someone in channel mentioned his use of ad-hominem argumentation against me. I had honestly not looked at his site since I noted the beginning of his response while I was traveling in North Carolina. I just took a few moments to visit Mr. Holding's site, and hence my apology. I had no idea that he would respond in such a fashion. Such topics as the freedom of God in salvation should not be discussed in such a fashion, that's for certain. In any case, I will gladly invite any person with the slightest proficiency in basic exegetical skills to consider Holding's "reply." Those adept at recognizing the use of unfounded assumptions and circular reasoning will find many examples. Just one for now:
This is yet another disappointing answer, amounting to the braying of "how do we know" with as yet no actual answer to the concept in question. A proper answer to these points would be, such as, "Hebrew block logic does not exist in reality, because..." or, "Hebrew block logic does not apply to these particular passages, because..." That it is poetry frankly makes not an ounce of difference, unless White wishes to produce some argument from credentialed social-science sources showing that expressions of mind shifted in poetic format. It remains that Paul is not making a logical argument, any more than God made one (or had to) before Job.Note the circularity: Holding assumes this "social" concept of "Hebrew block logic" (please note: how do we know anything about such social concepts outside of the written record of the period? And how do we interpret written records? Bingo, by sound exegesis!) and then demands that if we do not insert it into our reading of the text that we should have to prove its non-existence or prove its non-relevance to this passage. Obviously, the burden of proof is Holding's: he is the one using mechanisms the vast majority of Christian scholarship has not, and does not, find relevant and does not use in the exegesis of either Exodus 33 or Romans 9; he is the one suggesting translations that make the NWT look orthodox. Yet, amazingly, he repeatedly simply asserts his "social-science" context and in essence says, "There, disprove that!" This is not exegesis, and it is not how sound theology is done.
Further, I am simply left breathless by such assertions as "Paul is not presenting a logical argument." Really? Is that why he reasons from one point to the next throughout Romans, as well as in this chapter? Is that why he uses "therefore" throughout his arguments as he leads from one point to the next? And in this immediate context, is that why he offers not only interpretation of the OT text, but then raises, and answers, objections? Even "Who are you, oh man, who answers back to God?" in 9:20 is a valid, and logical, response. The distinction of man from the Creator God is the answer. To do what Holding does here consistently throughout the text would result in the utter destruction of all exegesis and the end of any knowledge of the message of Scripture. Can you imagine one of Jehovah's Witnesses using this kind of "I assert it, therefore it is true, unless you can disprove it" kind of reasoning to disprove the deity of Christ, or a Mormon to prove polytheism? Would Holding accept such circular argumentation? We would hope not, but if he did not, he would have to abandon this entire line of argumentation if he were to seek to be consistent.
So, I apologize for once again choosing to respond to someone without first finding out if they were likely to explode like a nuclear bomb and produce pages of the kind of rhetoric currently pouring forth at tektonics.org. The search continues....
Despite the kind of "response" this series is garnering, I will complete it anyway. Let the reader judge.
Twenty Years Ago Tonight
02/11/2005 - James WhiteI have played the debate in the hearing of my apologetics classes since 1995. Some portions I do have memorized, not from trying to do so, but just from repetitive exposure and memorable content. I refer to the debate on the existence of God between Gordon Stein and Greg Bahnsen, which took place twenty years ago tonight, February 11th, 1985. In God's providence, both men died within a year of each other (Bahnsen late 1995, Stein August, 1996). For most of us, Stein will always be remembered as the atheist who performed a recorded, public face-plant into the wall of the transcendental argument. And Greg Bahnsen will be fondly recalled as the man who could not only defend the faith at the highest level of philosophical discourse, but, as seen in that debate, could just as quickly give a warm, personal word of testimony to God's grace in his life. If you have never listened to the Bahnsen/Stein debate, today would be a good day to do it. Here's the link.
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#14)
02/11/2005 - James WhiteWe continue responding to Saifullah and Azmy, and their very, very lengthy citation of various portions of Bentley's Secrets of Mount Sinai. The next portion cited is in reference to the pericope of the adultress, John 7:53-8:11. Bentley inaccurately comments,
Some well-loved stories also disappeared in the text so carefully and long preserved on Mount Sinai. The eighth chapter of St John's Gospel, in the received text, contains the story of a woman who had been caught committing adultery. The scribes and the Pharisees wish to stone her to death, following, as they say, the law of Moses. Jesus says, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her'. One by one the woman's accusers slip away, until she and Jesus are alone together. Then he asks her, 'Where are your accusers? Has no-one condemned you?' She answers, 'No-one, my Lord'. Jesus responds, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.'I say comments inaccurately because he makes a common mistake when speaking of the transmission of an ancient text: the pericope does not "disappear." The question is, was the pericope original to the most ancient form of the text itself? It is very common for authors to view the issue "backwards" so to speak, for to think of something "disappearing" would mean that it was present in the text prior to a. But the evidence on this one is rather overwhelming, and only a precommitment to a theory of Byzantine textual supremacy could lead one to a different conclusion. Metzger is quite correct to write, ...
We now know that some ancient manuscripts transfer this story elsewhere in the New Testament, to the Gospel of Luke. In some manuscripts the scribes have indicated that they doubt its authenticity. It nowhere appears in either Vaticanus or Sinaiticus.
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The Qur'an in the Light of God-breathed Scripture: Shirk, Surah 4:48
02/11/2005 - James White
Surely Allah does not forgive shirk (associating any partner with Him); and may forgive sins other than that if He so pleases. This is because one who commits shirk with Allah, does indeed invent a great sinful lie. (Surah 4:48, F. Malik Translation)One of the greatest stumbling blocks to communicating the gospel of grace to the Muslim is "designed into the system" itself through the fact that Mohammed did not understand the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Muslims today believe the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is actually a form of tri-theism, a belief in three gods, not the deeply, fundamentally monotheistic belief it truly is. As such, whenever they see Christians worshipping Christ, or speaking of Him as the Son of God, or using the word "Trinity," they automatically think of the most heinous and high sin of shirk, for they have been taught that Christians are in some sense "adding" partners to God in the person of Christ, who was, they have been told, a mere creature.
Imagine for a moment how effective this roadblock truly is. From the point of your earliest memories you have been told that the Trinity is tri-theistic, and that to worship in such a fashion is to commit the most horrible and unforgivable sin imaginable! And so when that Christian missionary speaks to you about "the Lord Jesus Christ" all you can hear is "idolatry, IDOLATRY, SHIRK!!!" I saw this with startling clarity in the debate in 1999 against Hamza Abdul Malik: there was a wall between me and the Muslims in the audience. As soon as I would open my mouth to answer a question, you could see the head start to shake, the mind already closed. Jesus can't be God. No amount of Scripture could change their mind. Elsewhere (Surah 4:171) the Qur'an states: ...
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Today on the Dividing Line
02/10/2005 - James WhiteToday I read some more from Reymond, this time the section on a biblical theodicy, before addressing about two minutes of Paige Patterson's sermon on Calvinism from 2/2004. Then the phone calls started. Had one call on compatibilism and another on the Mouw situation up in Utah. Here's the link.
Holding Onto Hebraisms: James Patrick Holding's Odd Take on Election and Exegesis (Part 4)
02/10/2005 - James WhiteLet's begin with the concept of "Hebrew block logic." A scan of the standard Hebrew grammars and works on syntax reveals no emphasis upon such an concept in the regularly used scholarly sources. A scan of my entire Libronics library (a rather large collection, for which I'm thankful), brought up only one reference: that in the book cited by Holding. Evidently, scholarship has managed to handle Romans 9 without reference to "Hebrew block logic" all along (unless this is a never before heard of "insight" that the entirety of the church has missed over the years). In any case, there is nothing overly new to the idea that the Hebrew mindset can differ from the Western mindset in any number of ways. That much is true. However, a few observations are in order.
First, Romans 9 is written in Greek, not Hebrew. The sources Paul quotes from were written in Hebrew, and Paul is a Hebrew, but he is communicating in Greek, and, rather importantly, providing an inspired interpretation as he goes along. Simply referring to some concept that might appear in some forms of Hebrew literature (and in this case, especially and primarily in Hebrew poetry) is utterly insufficient basis for making a connection to Paul's citation of the texts from the Greek LXX. Surely it is not being suggested that this vague, general concept is applicable to all passages of Hebrew writing, let alone that this then transfers over to the Pauline usage. Serious exegesis requires providing substantially more foundation for making such connections, and Holding offers none. ...
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The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part V)
02/10/2005 - James WhiteAt this point Armstrong opines,
It reminds me of the old silly Protestant tale that the popes speak infallibly and ex cathedra (cathedra is the Greek word for seat in Matthew 23:2) only when sitting in a certain chair in the Vatican --- because the phrase means literally "from the bishop's chair" --- whereas it was a figurative and idiomatic usage). (sic)Of course, I have never made such a statement, but the fact remains that in the context of the condemnation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23, the identity of "Moses' seat" and its function in synagogue worship is central. If one allows the function of Moses' seat to be removed from the discussion (as Armstrong does), you lose the connection with the condemnation of the Pharisees: the reason they are hypocrites is because they should know better: they read from the Scriptures on a regular basis, and then turn around and do away with that teaching by their traditions, and those traditions result in actions that are contrary to the Word. This is why you do as they say in the context of the synagogue worship, but you do not do what they do. Since we know Christ held men accountable to have known the Corban rule was contrary to God's Word, and the Pharisees taught this, even claiming it came from Moses, then clearly we must allow the limitation of the function of Moses' seat to stand. And this Armstrong will not allow. He misconstrues the proper recognition of the synagogue context of Moses' seat, and hence the limitation of its purview, with a woodenly literalistic idea about whether one is standing or sitting. He writes, ...
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Dave Hunt Picks Up the Phone and in a Strong British Accent Hears This...
02/09/2005 - James WhiteI was sent the Spurgeon Evening Devotional for February 2nd (ironically, the day after Dave Hunt released his "I know NOOOOOOOTHING" impression of Sgt. Schultz in the Berean Call newsletter) and it is as if Spurgeon were calling Hunt from the grave. Check it out:
"And these are ancient things."
--1 Chronicles 4:22
Yet not so ancient as those precious things which are the delight of our souls. Let us for a moment recount them, telling them over as misers count their gold. The sovereign choice of the Father, by which He elected us unto eternal life, or ever the earth was, is a matter of vast antiquity, since no date can be conceived for it by the mind of man. We were chosen from before the foundations of the world. Everlasting love went with the choice, for it was not a bare act of divine will by which we were set apart, but the divine affections were concerned. The Father loved us in and from the beginning. Here is a theme for daily contemplation. The eternal purpose to redeem us from our foreseen ruin, to cleanse and sanctify us, and at last to glorify us, was of infinite antiquity, and runs side by side with immutable love and absolute sovereignty. The covenant is always described as being everlasting, and Jesus, the second party in it, had His goings forth of old; He struck hands in sacred suretyship long ere the first of the stars began to shine, and it was in Him that the elect were ordained unto eternal life. Thus in the divine purpose a most blessed covenant union was established between the Son of God and His elect people, which will remain as the foundation of their safety when time shall be no more. Is it not well to be conversant with these ancient things? Is it not shameful that they should be so much neglected and even rejected by the bulk of professors? If they knew more of their own sin, would they not be more ready to adore distinguishing grace? Let us both admire and adore tonight, as we sing--
"A monument of grace,
A sinner saved by blood;
The streams of love I trace
Up to the Fountain, God;
And in His sacred bosom see
Eternal thoughts of Love to me."
Holding Onto Hebraisms: James Patrick Holding's Odd Take on Election and Exegesis (Part 3)
02/09/2005 - James WhiteJ.P. Holding's article on unconditional election is, at the very least, an interesting read. But for one who finds exegetical clarity and consistency the greatest driving factor in evaluating someone's position, the article falls far short. Now let me say immediately that I know very little of Mr. Holding, and this article is intended to be completely non-personal. The gentleman may well be a wonderfully nice Christian man who offers good insights on various apologetics issues. I am responding to a single article because I have seen it cited often as evidence of "another way" of looking at things, as if there can be multiple, equally valid interpretations of the words of Scripture. And I am responding to it also because on any exegetical level it is, in my opinion, inaccurate and flawed in numerous important ways.
But let us begin by letting Mr. Holding speak for himself. I wish to examine in particular two portions of this article, both dealing with his attempt to deal with Romans 9, "the Calvinist's bubba club" as he puts it. First is the over-arching use of a single source, Marvin Wilson's Our Father Abraham, and the concept of "block logic," to substantiate utterly eisegetical conclusions. Holding fails completely to make the necessary connections between even the most wide and optimistic reading of Wilson and the conclusion he draws from the text. Second is the even less exegetically accurate or relevant discussion of the meaning of mercy in Romans 9:16 and the following "negation idiom" discussion. ...
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Why No Comments?
02/08/2005 - James WhiteI've seen a number of comments today about how this blog doesn't have comments. That is quite true. Part of the reason is that up until December of 2004 this blog was about as old-fashioned as it could be: it was a straightforward html text file, nothing more. No RSS. Nothing. So, obviously, comments were not even an option. However, we could certainly activate that function now, as our base program can handle it. And I have thought about putting comments on a small number of blog entries just to give some folks a chance to "speak."
But the fact of the matter is, the breadth of topics we cover through this ministry is so wide that I have, over the years, collected quite a rogue's gallery of opponents (that's the nice word). All you have to do is go to amazon.com and look at the wild-eyed, utterly worthless ravings of so many who use amazon as their sole means of lashing out in defense of their positions to know what kind of constant "clean up" we'd be doing in a comments section. I personally feel our readers would rather have me spending my time writing than policing a cyber-version of Romper Room (wow, that dated me just a bit). Further, a comments section would be the equivalent of the main street of an old western town: everytime I'd sit down to get some serious work done, I'd hear some new young gun calling me out, ready to try his hand. When I was young, that would have been attractive. It lost its attraction a long time ago.
I suppose, if I did not do a live webcast twice a week with a toll-free phone number, and if we didn't have an online community where one can respectfully ask questions and interact, and if I hid away from public settings and never did debates or appear on call-in radio programs, one might think providing a comments section would be required to allow for "the other side." But the fact is that I am probably one of the most accessible folks around. Hence, the time investment of policing a comments section is simply not worth it.
Steve Camp's Article
02/08/2005 - James WhiteI mentioned Steve Camp's article relating to salvation of infants, etc., on his website on the DL today. Some folks have been having trouble finding it, so I tracked it down for you. Here it is. For those listening to the archive, this was in reference to the call from the kind sister on Staten Island and her work in the pro-life movement in the second half hour, probably around the 40 minute mark or so as I recall.
A Letter to a Hyper Calvinist
02/08/2005 - James WhiteHyper-Calvinism is an offense to God, and it is an offense to any serious Calvinist. Yes, yes, I know, there are disagreements over just what hyper-Calvinism involves. Some have attempted to paint me as a hyper simply because I hold to a strong view, a modified supralapsarian view, in fact. But you really don't have a lot of question about a real hyper-Calvinist when you meet one (and you won't meet them witnessing to Mormons or JW's or preaching on the duty of men to repent and calling men to Christ): the really hard-core, nasty, graceless ones will call you an unbeliever if you dare say "good morning" to an Arminian. I.e., they ask you a simple question: "Can an Arminian be saved? Are Arminians Christians?" If you say, "Yes, Arminians can be saved" they will tell you, "then you are not saved, either."
On a normally quiet e-mail list called TULIP a hyper showed up to start spitting at me when Chris Arnzen posted an announcement about the debate on Long Island with Bill Rutland. It is odd: many of my Reformed brethren have commented that, in personal conversation, in our online community, in other forums, I can be very patient in trying to help a non-Reformed believer come to understand the doctrines of grace. But I have zero patience with hypers. Call it a personal flaw (I have many of them), but I just can't stand hypers---they should know better. Part of it, of course, is the fact that I am constantly having to refute those who oppose Calvinism by painting me as a hyper, but part of it is just the incredible attitude of a real hyper. The Arminian, 99% of the time, is simply ignorant of the issues. The hyper isn't.
Here is the last response I sent to that list. Enjoy, or not, as you see fit.
Anyone who says that people who believe in universal atonement are saved is taking sides with Satan, calling God a liar and is not a Christian.Anyone who says that people who believe in duotheletism are saved is taking sides with Satan, calling God a liar and is not a Christian.
Without using Google or taking your eyes off your monitor, sir, do you know if you are condemned by that statement? Do you know what duotheletism is? It's important. It has to do with the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and His person, all vitally important things, just like the extent of the atonement. So, are you a duotheletist or a monotheletist? Do you know? If we make such important, yet complicated, aspects of the faith the standard by which we know if a person is a Christian, how many people are Christians today, sir? I just said on my webcast that you draw the circle in such a narrow fashion as to have to stand on one foot to stay inside it yourself. So how about it?
By now you have probably looked up the term, somehow, and discovered that orthodox Christians are, in fact, duotheletists, not monotheletists, and that the criterion statement offered above is false. But the point would be the same if I used monotheletism. You see, sir, 99% of all Christians I know, who show significantly more grace than you do in their behavior toward others, would not know the difference between monotheletism and duotheletism. But they are still Christians, because perfection of knowledge and belief is NOT the standard of salvation: Christ is the standard of salvation, and the error you hypers make that will haunt you as you answer for it before God is that you demand of Christ that as Shepherd He only have perfect sheep---He cannot sanctify them and cause them to grow in His grace and knowledge---that passage means nothing in your system. You are like the Pharisees of old who were confident of their standing before God because of what they knew and did. Read Matthew 23 sometime, and look into your own heart.
People's Choice / Best Overall Evangelical Blog
02/08/2005 - James WhiteMuch to the chagrin of at least one fellow, our little effort here at aomin.org to bless the saints with apologetics and theological information via Pros Apologian has been awarded both the "Best Overall Evangelical Blog" award and the "People's Choice" award for 2005 by the kind folks at evangelicalunderground.com. We do seek to make this a ministry and one of the prime means by which we help to equip the saints, so we are thankful to everyone who takes the time to stop by and read. Many thanks to ENielsen, AOMin, and Shamgar, for handling the technical aspects of things. :-)
Today on the DL
02/08/2005 - James WhiteThe phones went mad today on the DL when I announced that I now have a Gentner unit over here on my side of the wall so I can have some control over the calls. Please do not ask why that is, but do pray for Rich's countenance. :-) Seriously, some great calls today as well as a lengthy discussion of the upcoming debates and cruise. Here she is.
The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part IV)
02/08/2005 - James WhiteI would like to expand, momentarily, on a thought with which I closed the last installment in this series. Mr. Armstrong is right to say that the text does not provide us with a direct listing of what the Pharisees did or did not teach when speaking in the synagogue. That can only be determined on the basis of other texts, if at all (and I believe such texts as Matthew 15 do tell us a good bit about that). But is it truly a "gratuitous" assumption on my part, based upon sola scriptura to believe that there is no warrant here for believing that the text is relevant to an establishment of some second source of divine authority in the views of the Lord Jesus? I firmly believe so, and once again the grounds for this is not a gratuitous assumption, but that wonderful thing called context. As I pointed out originally, these words are the introduction to a lengthy pronouncement of woe and judgment upon the scribes and Pharisees. As we will see, Armstrong is forced, in his attempt to force Matthew 23 into his theological mold, to speak of how indebted the early Christians were to the Pharisees, and to in essence speak positively about them. And while one may well say positive things about Pharisees in various contexts (I would argue the issue of their traditions would not be one of those contexts), this passage in Matthew 23 is singularly contradictory to such a discussion. The fact of the matter is that Armstrong's comments do not flow from the text at all. His position does not start with a recognition of the context of the text being examined. Instead, he clearly proceeds from the position demanded of him by Rome. The fact that these words must be heard in a condemnatory, not congratulatory, context, must be kept in mind. And when we do this, we see that the fact that these men sat in positions of leadership within the people of God only increases their guilt. This theme will build to a crescendo in the following verses. ...
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The Qur'an in the Light of God-breathed Scripture: Surah 5:116
02/07/2005 - James WhiteFew conservative Christians have ever read the Qur'an, and as such, it remains a closed and mysterious book to them. But even if you have read it, it likewise remains a closed and mysterious book, for it is not written in such a fashion as to communicate with much clarity to the vast majority of the human race, and apart from the traditions (the Hadith) many portions of the Qur'an are unintelligible.
I am often asked about where the Qur'an contradicts the Bible. I would like to start providing some examples, as time permits, of such passages. One that strikes me every time I read it comes in the middle of a key passage in Surah 5, to which we will have to return numerous times in the future. It reads:
After reminding him of these favors, Allah will say: "O Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam (Marry), Did you ever say to the people, "worship me and my mother as gods beside Allah?" He will answer: "Glory to You! How could I say what I had no right to say? If I had ever said so, you would have certainly known it. You know what is in my heart, but I know not what is in Yours; for You have full knowledge of all the unseen. (Surah 5:116, Al-Maida, F. Malik Translation)Here we have two grand errors in one short space: the gross misidentification of the doctrine of the Trinity (to which we will turn at a later time), and the assertion, placed upon the lips of the Lord Jesus, "You know what is in my heart, but I know not what is in Yours." I often ask audiences as I lecture on the topic, "What portion of Jesus' teaching about His relationship to the Father does this passage directly contradict?" Sadly, I have never had anyone offer the appropriate passage in response. Not once. It seems to be one of Jesus' lesser-known sayings, possibly because it sounds like it should be in the Gospel of John, yet it appears in the Gospel of Matthew:
"All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Matthew 11:27).The intimate, reciprocal knowledge of the Father and Son, a theme repeated often in John's Gospel (see esp. chapters 5, 10, 17), here finds expression in Matthew, once again in the context of Jesus' role as the perfect, sole revealer of the Father. Islam, of course, denies this intimate union, let alone the idea that God could be so fully known as He made Himself known in Christ. There is truly so much less revelation of God's nature and Person in Islam than in the Christian faith. And remember, these words were written more than half a millennia before Mohammed, and we in fact can document them in papyri manuscripts dating to the third century (the Qur'an being a production of the seventh century). So you might want to start a little list: Matthew 11:27/Surah 5:116.
Holding Replies--Before A Reply Could Be Offered
02/05/2005 - James WhiteGreetings from North Carolina. Spoke for Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Rocky Mount this afternoon, and will speak there again tomorrow before doing a video interview Monday morning and then flying back to Phoenix (Deo volente).
Just a note in reference to the series I have just begun regarding Romans 9, "Hebraisms," and J.P. Holding's take on election. I was told, and just confirmed, that Mr. Holding has already begun a response to me. At first I couldn't believe it, and indicated, "that would be very disappointing," for the simple reason that I haven't said anything yet. Evidently Mr. Holding is quite impatient. In case he has not noted, I have been doing a response on Islam and Bible transmission for two months now (13 parts thus far). Blogs are meant to be taken in bits, or, at least, this one is. I will be getting to the issue as soon as I get back from this trip. Till then, all offered "replies" are vaporous. Theology is often done quickly today. But quick theology is not always solid theology.
Holding Onto Hebraisms: James Patrick Holding's Odd Take on Election and Exegesis (Part 2)
02/05/2005 - James WhiteIt is necessary for those who wish to find a way out of the "strong doctrine" of Romans 9 to establish some kind of "new idea" as to what Paul is really up to in this passage that distances the text from personal salvation. Make it about nations. Make it about the Old Testament only. Say it has to do with anything but the salvation of God's people and the freedom God has always expressed in bringing that about. But given the flow of the text, its internal consistency, and the boldness of the language, it is a hard thing for those seeking to find a way around the text's conclusions. Just as in the Golden Chain of Redemption (Romans 8:28-30) or in Jesus' Capernaum discourse (John 6), the strength of Reformed exegesis is seen in its ability to consistently read through an entire passage and follow the thought without appeal to all sorts of odd concepts that result in an utter disruption of the text. This has been my advantage, repeatedly, in discussion with those who oppose the utter freedom of God and the perfection of Christ as Savior: if we actually can get someone to allow a conversation to take place that seriously engages the text in a meaningful fashion, the Reformed position is clearly substantiated and supported. ...
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To Everyone in the North Carolina Area
02/04/2005 - James WhiteSince nobody reads the calendar page, I thought I'd mention this:
Grace Reformed Baptist Church
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Click the link for details and times, etc. I'm looking forward to visiting with cds and family, and seeing jM and red as well. So if you are in the area, I hope to see you this weekend at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Rocky Mount!
Today on the Dividing Line: Open Phones
02/03/2005 - James WhiteToday we had calls on the will, Bible translations, and Lutheranism. Much calmer than the last program. Here it is.
FBI Examines Pastor's Sermons
02/03/2005 - James WhiteA rather unsettling story.
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#13)
02/03/2005 - James WhiteBentley (as quoted by our Islamic writers) writes,
What really outraged men like Dean Burgon was principally that, however learnedly Codex Sinaiticus was edited, it revealed a text of the Bible that again and again differed from what they had revered and loved as Holy Writ. Take, for example, the Lord's Prayer. Generations of Englishmen had been accustomed to the version, in Luke chapter 11, verses 2 to 4:...
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
They learned to accept this as an alternative to the more familiar version in Matthew chapter 6, verses 9 to 13.
Now they were presented with an even more truncated version. The Lord's Prayer of Codex Sinaiticus reads simply:
Father, Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, as in heaven, so upon earth.
Give us day by day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins, as we ourselves also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.
And bring us not into temptation
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Omar Bakri Muhammed on Jihad: Another "Must Read"
02/02/2005 - James WhiteChristianity Today has an important interview with this Islamic authority. It begins:
Islam is the final revelation, therefore those believing in it submit to Allah—the only One worthy of obedience in every sphere of life. To understand 9/11, we must go back to Tawhid— the exclusive worship of God in every sphere—religious, political, social, etc. Every human action must relate to this. 9/11 was undoubtedly an unpleasant moment for its targets or their relatives (Muslims and non-Muslim), but those committing it acted as a result of the predestined divine decree (although God does give man free will).
To Dave Hunt: The Bereans Called. They Want Their Name Back
02/02/2005 - James WhiteIt started December 12th, with the following entry on this blog:
There are no footnotes attached. No names given. But a paragraph has been added into the middle of Dave Hunt's desperate attempt to escape Acts 13:48 that, when you consider what it says, is one of the most amazing examples of "destroy the foundations of your entire life's work just because you detest the freedom of God that is proclaimed in 'Calvinism'" I've ever seen. When I read it I had to sit back and catch my breath. Yes, the following paragraph appears in the second edition of WLIT?And over the past month and a half we have waited. The desperation of Hunt's ministry was obvious: at first they sent out a list of "scholars" to support the citation that was pirated directly from an anti-trinitarian Yahwist website. Google theology. Outrageously funny, if this wasn't the Word of God we are talking about. We've laughed about the prophetic Dead Sea Scrolls (since, obviously, they could not have said anything about the authorship of Acts since they predate the New Testament period) and wondered who these early church Fathers were who likewise addressed the "Hebrew original" of Acts 1-15. One of our channel regulars wrote a hilarious Da Vinci Code style spoof on the entire claim, The DaveHunti Code. I even speculated on how Hunt might try to defend this paragraph. But I never, ever expected the kind of utter melt-down that appeared in the pages of The Berean Call today. ...
The Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a translation. Some scholars claim that going back to a "redacted Hebrew" version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts 13:48 more like "as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved." Furthermore, even if "ordained" were the correct meaning, these Greeks still would have had to believe the gospel and accept Christ by an act of their own faith and will, as all of Scripture testifies (p. 264)
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Holding Onto Hebraisms: James Patrick Holding's Odd Take on Election and Exegesis (Part 1)
02/01/2005 - James WhiteI have found the various attempts to respond to the exegetically-based defense of Calvinism I offered in The Potter's Freedom both educational and at times troubling. Most responses are tradition driven, but then there are the philosophical ones. These are the ones that only touch on exegesis long enough to find some way of introducing some novelty or some question as to whether a word really means that or if there is some other way of seeing it. The philosophically-driven replies disdain the hard work of actually working through a text from start to finish and applying their often unique claims about a particular verse to all such verses.
It wasn't long after The Potter's Freedom came out that I ran into an early response from James Patrick Holding of tektonics.org. Ever since then I have seen references to various files at tektonics, most especially one titled "Un Conditioning." Recently some folks posted some segments of it in channel, and so I took a look at it. I was taken aback by much of it, to be honest, and especially the odd, sweeping claims made about "Hebrew thought" and the like. There is probably nothing more common on the Internet these days than people making claims about "the Hebrew would indicate this," and yet most of those making those claims could not translate their way out of a paper bag, and if you were to collect all of their conclusions based upon these alleged "Hebraisms," the resultant mish-mash would implode from utter inconsistency and self-contradiction. The original question asked in channel was about the "negation idiom" being applied to Romans 9:16, and then about "Hebrew block thought," and finally I ran into the quote that convinced me to at least invest a tiny portion of my non-existant time to this response:
The proper social definition of "mercy" brings an interesting twist to, for example, the great Calvinist keystone in Romans 9: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." Understood as the NT writers wrote it, this means: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that pays His debt of personal obligation to us as our patron."...
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