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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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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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.
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 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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