Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Radio Free Geneva: Second Program on Jack Graham Anti-Calvinism Sermon
09/30/2005 - James WhiteToday's DL continued the Radio Free Geneva series in identifying the recent anti-Calvinism sermon of Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas as "one of the worst," and today we hear why with the repeated mis-citation of Titus 2:11 and the mis-citation of Matthew 23:37 as well. Words just disappear right off the page of Scripture when your tradition glasses are that thick! Listen in here.
More on Anti-Calvinism from Paul Owen (III)
09/30/2005 - James WhiteWe now enter into a documentation of the simple exegetical errors made by Dr. Paul Owen, professor at Montreat College, regarding his anti-Reformed readings of these key Johannine texts.
1. Because Baptists do not think in biblical terms about the covenant, they fail to see how Jesus’ allusion to Jeremiah 31:34 in 6:45 enlightens the full scope of 6:37. Some prefer to see here a reference to Isaiah 54:13, but it makes no difference. In either case, it is clear that the entire nation of Israel is being spoken of. And the entire nation of Israel, in both its OT and NT forms, includes elect and reprobate within its number. In either case, it is a reference to every member of the visible Church. The “least of them to the greatest” (Jer. 31:34) is equivalent to the house of Israel (v. 33), and “all your sons” (Isa. 54:13) means ALL the sons of Israel. Therefore, the “drawing” of John 6:44 cannot be limited to the elect, but includes all who are brought by the Spirit into the visible Church through profession of faith (or baptism in the case of their children). Therefore, those whom the Father gives to the Son (6:37) cannot be limited to those who are predestined to glory.Let's begin with the question of the OT source of the citation in John 6:45; then we will note that Owen disconnects the citation from the context and flow of thought, doing what all non-Reformed interpreters must, that is, read the flow of this text backwards.
First, here I produce the relevant phrase from John 6:45, "they shall all be taught by God," and compare it with the relevant sections of Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 31:34:
|John 6:45||kai. e;sontai pa,ntej didaktoi. qeou/|
|Isaiah 54:13||kai. pa,ntaj tou.j ui`ou,j sou didaktou.j qeou/|
|Jer 31:34||kai. ouv mh. dida,xwsin e[kastoj to.n poli,thn auvtou/ kai. e[kastoj to.n avdelfo.n auvtou/ le,gwn gnw/qi to.n ku,rion|
As can be easily seen, there is barely a verbal parallel to Jeremiah 31:34 (which Owen presented in his first article without even noting that this is a far stretch), but the connection to Isaiah is clear. It is not that "some prefer" seeing the connection to Isaiah: how can one even dispute the fact? It is more likely Owen was simply in error at first and is unwilling to admit it. ...
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Radio Free Geneva Airs Again
Today Err, Tomorrow, We Hope
09/29/2005 - James WhiteWe continue our review of Jack Graham's straw-man filled, horrifically inaccurate, Dave Hunt-inspired attack upon Reformed theology today on the Dividing Line. We should have time to get to his gross misrepresentations of irresistible grace as well as his mis-citation of Matthew 23:37 (yes, same altered rendering that is so common amongst those blinded by tradition). You even get to hear him apply Romans 12:4, which is so clearly and plainly in reference to the church, to every single human being on the planet, followed almost immediately by the assertion that Calvinism teaches that men can come to Christ in true repentance and faith and be turned away. It is truly sad to listen to a leader of so many using such low standards of truth and accuracy as he touches upon the gospel itself. The incoherence of Arminianism is again on full display as we listen to the rest of this sermon, one of the "worst of the worst." Be listening today at 7pm EDT!
UPDATE: We have been trying to get a meaningful network system working, and so far have found it to be a...challenging experience. Minutes before the program was to start the patched up setup we had put together died and died hard. As I hate doing "deadcasts" (just recording, no phone calls), we are going to hope to do this tomorrow, same time, Lord willing.
More on Anti-Calvinism from Paul Owen (II)
09/29/2005 - James WhiteI continue providing a response to the anti-Calvinistic interpretation of Jesus' promises to His people in John provided by Paul Owen, a man who claims to be a Calvinist but whose writings and agenda is opposed, clearly, to the proclamation of God's free and sovereign grace. We continue with Owen's words:
God actually makes promises to people, and gives benefits to people, who fail to receive the benefit in a true and lasting manner due to apostasy. This is why Matthew 13:41 says that some reprobates will be gathered “out of” Christ’s kingdom in the final judgment. To be gathered “out of” a kingdom, you of course have to have first entered “into” the kingdom. So some reprobates do enter the kingdom of heaven for a season.This "non-elect Christian" concept (seen, in a fashion, in the debate with Douglas Wilson last year, in fact), is not only eisegetical in nature (once again, reading this kind of theology into Jesus' words in John 6 or John 10 results in an utter nightmare of contradiction) but it leads to the complete overthrow of the purposes of God's promises. Surely hypocrites and reprobates enter the church: but that does not mean they are united with Christ, are "of" us, are adopted, drawn by the Father, etc. Owen's over-riding theological system leads to a complete "leveling" of the promises of God so that what is outwardly offered to the reprobate in the general commandments of God becomes equal to the personal promises of adoption and salvation that are the possession of the elect alone.
This is also why Paul says in Romans 9:4 that adoption as sons, the covenants and the promises (sealed in covenant signs) still belong to the Jewish people (cf. 11:28), though only the elect within Israel receive the benefits of those promises (9:6f.). The rest of the Jews, who reject Christ, are viewed by Paul as apostates, who have been broken off from the benefits of the covenant of grace (11:20). And what is more, it is clear that Paul continues to maintain this same framework in the Church of the New Covenant, for he warns those who have now been grafted into the covenant: “if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off” (Rom. 11:21-22).
These comments take us directly into the long-standing debates at the heart of credo vs. paedobaptism, though it is odd once again to point out that evidently Owen, without coming right out and saying it, thinks Calvin somehow "missed" this reading. And is it not just slightly odd that the results of this reading are diametrically opposed to the central aspect of Calvin's theology, the self-glorification of God in the salvation of the elect? Odd indeed. ...
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Solo Scriptura? Tradition 0?
09/28/2005 - James WhiteThe recent Christian Apologetics Journal review of James White's book The Roman Catholic Controversy has this curious observation made by the reviewer, Ralph MacKenzie:
White states that "the doctrine of sola scriptura is based on the nature of the Scriptures as the Word of God" (62). To demonstrate that this doctrine was held in the church prior to the Reformation, he quotes from Basil of Caesarea (c. A.D. 330-379) (55). Unfortunately, many evangelicals, intent on protecting sola scriptura from its Catholic alternative, have embraced who [sic] Keith A. Mathison terms "solo" scriptura. This is the attempt to interpret without recourse to the ecumenical councils and creeds, classically called the regula fidei ("rule of faith").The observation is curious for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it is vague as to whom he is referencing. That is to say that a fair reading could give the idea that MacKenzie is refreshed that Dr. White demonstrated that the early Fathers believed in sola scriptura and that he lamented that some evangelicals fall into the error Mathison articulated. However, a fair reading could also give the impression that MacKenzie is suggesting that Dr. White is adhering to solo scriptura. ...
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On Defending the NWT (I)
09/28/2005 - James WhiteRecently one of the fairly large group of "JW Internet Apologists" wrote to CRI to complain about my identification of the New World Translation as one of the "ugly" translations of the Bible in my recent articles on Bible translation. I went so far as to identify it as one of the most dangerous anti-Christian pieces of literature around, and I stand by that assessment, for Christianity is a faith based upon divine revelation, so when you purposefully twist that revelation, you are indeed attacking the faith at its root.
What I found rather humorous about the letter was that the author, while clearly impressed with the standard arguments used by Witness apologists, did not seem at all aware of the responses that have been provided to them for quite some time. So I thought I would try to work some of these comments into the blog since I have really not had the time to focus upon these areas in quite some time. I have so many topics I want to get to here, but they have to compete with so many other writing projects that I confess to a certain level of frustration.
Our JW correspondent begins by asserting that "anyone having even a basic knowledge" of comparative Bible analysis and criticism knows that many Bible versions, various commentaries, and "lexicon readings," "support the NWT renditions." Of course, that rather begs the question, for the issue is whether these sources are being read accurately and fairly and whether the context supports the rendering. He then says (before providing any documentation of his position) "I am somewhat surprised that White continues to attack the NWT using old arguments that have already been pulverized." I like when folks find imaginative ways to use expressive terms like "pulverize." And that's a great term, "pulverize." Very visual. Unfortunately, when you use terms like that, you sorta set the bar pretty high for yourself. I mean, it is one thing to say "I believe I can make a strong case in support of argument X against position M" but something completely different to say, "I can pulverize position M with argument X." But that is actually a mild portion: he continues immediately with, ...
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Today on the DL
09/27/2005 - James WhiteAfter a very quick recap of my time in Chicago I moved directly into a brand new Radio Free Geneva, this time focusing upon the Dave Hunt/Adrian Rogers inspired sermon offered up by Dr. Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church down in Texas. Here's the program.
More on Anti-Calvinism from Paul Owen
09/26/2005 - James WhiteMany believers wonder why it is that they can read their Bibles and see the clear teaching of Scripture, only to go to the voluminous writings of many in academia and find there a muddle of confusion and conflict. Of course, one can find those eagle-eyed men of God who combine a living faith with their academic study and in their works one can still find the certainty of truth of which Luke spoke (Luke 1:1-4), but their clarion voices are a rarity today, not the norm. The academy produces few Spurgeons today mainly because it most often approaches God's Word as if that Word is merely a collection of human opinions, human writings, that are inconsistent with one another and hence cannot speak with authority and power.
On the other end of the spectrum you have those who enshrine their tradition as if it is, in fact, the Word of God, and cannot interact with the text on any level, cannot allow for meaningful and serious exegesis, etc., like Dave Hunt, and the many who have swallowed his anti-Calvinism hook, line, and sinker. Both extremes are unworthy of the truth of Scripture.
A few days ago I noted Steve Hays' comments on Paul Owen's "I'm a Calvinist but I will now attack the heart and soul of Reformed faith by providing eisegetical readings of Scripture passages that, though I know Calvin did not read them this way, I do, and think Calvin should have as well" blog entries. I likewise took half of the last Dividing Line to compare and contrast Calvin's comments on John 6 with Owen's anti-Calvinistic reading. It is instructive to examine how a man who clearly views himself as a leading scholar, a man of great self-professed intellect and training, deals with the refutations that have been offered of his errors. And to that I now turn.
In two previous posts, I have argued (against Calvin’s exegesis, though not his theological system) that John 6:37 and 10:26-28 make better sense as covenantal statements than statements about the elect (in the sense of those secretly predestined to glory).One would think that Calvin would have seen these texts with the clarity Owen possesses if, in fact, Owen has properly understood Calvin's "system," which a number of Presbyterians have affirmed Owen does not. ...
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Amazing Foolishness from Spong
09/24/2005 - James WhiteWell, I guess nothing coming from John Shelby Spong can be "amazing," since his entire career has been founded upon the most outrageous claims all arising from his inveterate hatred of "fundamentalism" which, in reality, is simply his way of referring to anything that takes Scripture seriously and proclaims anything even slightly akin to "the gospel." But you still have to simply shake your head at his ability to be outrageous in any context.
Bill McKeever dropped me a link to Spong's eulogy of Robert Funk, the co-founder of the Jesus Seminar--the same man who had told me to go to hell and hung up on me on a radio program back in 1989. Ironically, at one point, Spong says,
Bob Funk refused to live inside such boundaries or to accept such limitations. He seems to have agreed with my great teacher, Clifford Stanley, who was fond of saying, "Any God who can be killed ought to be killed." He had little patience "for suffering fools," either long or gladly.
Yes, well, we know that Bob Funk found the gospel and the cross to be foolishness, to be sure (talk about prophecy fulfilled---indeed, read all of Spong's eulogy in light of 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5 and you'll be truly amazed, and probably a bit edified, too). But earlier on Spong had written these words:
Despite these storms, Funk persevered in his lonely but compelling task. Established old-line religious leaders such as the evangelical N. T. (Tom) Wright of England and the Roman Catholic Luke Timothy Johnson of Atlanta built their careers attacking his initiatives. Perfuming their irrational conclusions with the odor of respectability, Wright defended the literal accuracy of the details of the biblical story and Johnson defended the authority of an infallible papacy. Each reacted to Funk with the hysteria of a stuck and squealing pig.
Now, there are many things Tom Wright says that cause me to shake my head, but this kind of utterly irrational caricaturization of his responses to the Jesus Seminar, along with the sober, insightful criticisms of Luke Timothy Johnson, once again illustrates how far removed from any semblance of truth Spong lives. I can't imagine a more blinding illustration of the utter irrationality of the extreme left, represented by Spong, than a debate would provide wherein the man would actually have to answer direct questions (remember what happened to Barry Lynn?). Who knows, maybe, someday.... :-)
A New Reformed Baptist Publication
09/23/2005 - James WhiteI stopped by Solid Ground today and noted a couple of items of interest you might want to check out (yes, I know, this may tend to prompt biblio-covetousness, the great bane of Mrs. Calvinists everywhere---my apologies):
First, despite the repeated efforts of some folks to deny our existence or our legitimacy, we Reformed Baptists keep popping up. Reformed Baptist Academic Press has begun publishing works and their newest is going to be very interesting to a wide portion of our audience. Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ by Nehemiah Cox and John Owen is being offered at a 50% price for the next week. Edited by Ron Miller, Jim Renihan (my partner in the recent debate at sea in defense of the resurrection of Christ) and Francisco Orozco, this work will surely be useful for those studying the application and ramifications of covenant theology.
Second, Solid Ground is offering the Reformation Study Bible at a great price in the ESV translation. I know a lot of folks enjoy this study Bible (I personally don't do the study Bible scene anymore, but some folks like to carry a small commentary along with their translation it seems).
Finally, Sam Waldron has released his book, To Be Continued, which addresses the issue of the sign gifts from a Reformed perspective.
A Quick Report on My Time at MBI
09/23/2005 - James WhiteTrying to get back in the swing of things after arriving home last evening from my quick trip up to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I would like to thank Dean Arens and the staff at Moody for allowing me the great privilege of not only speaking in two consecutive chapel services (and hence getting to interact with the student body in general) but also to meet with a great group of students in a Q&A time Wednesday evening as well as the privilege of speaking in three classes the same day. I had wanted to make sure to get a chance to speak with the students, and I was surely given that opportunity.
I would especially like to than Dan Borvan, a Moody student who really made this entire trip happen, for all he did for myself and my father as we were in Chicago this week. Dan did all the "hard work" in picking is up and shuttling us around and taking us on a tour of Moody. Likewise, yesterday, on our way to O'Hare airport Dan drove us by Moody Church, and we were able to get inside and look around a bit. I hope his Greek grade does not suffer too much as a result of all the time he spent with us.
My father was able to go with me, and he was amazed at not only the changes in the past half century, but especially at the growth that has taken place on the campus. Moody is the largest owner of contiguous land in downtown Chicago, and my dad was just amazed at all the growth. Of course, we discovered that his dorm room is gone: I mean, gone. The building is still there: but they cut the end of it off! I really do not know how you cut a building basically in half (especially when it is around eight stories tall) and keep it structurally stable, but they managed to do so. So, while we stayed in the same building that he lived in more than half a century ago, it was...a bit different.
It was a real treat to interact with the students, especially after the chapel services. I also met a brother who ministers in Madrid, Spain, who listens to the Dividing Line! And good ol' Angel came down on Wednesday for chapel and for the classes I taught thereafter. It was great to see him, too.
I quoted from my father's Systematic Theology professor at Moody, P.B. Fitzwater (one of the buildings on campus is named after him even today), in my chapel messages. I would like to provide all of the citations I copied out of that work (I did not have a chance to quote all of them in my messages). ...
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A Presbyterian Statement from the Past (1845)
09/22/2005 - James WhiteThe following can be found here.
The question presented to this Assembly by Overture from the Presbytery of Ohio, 'Is Baptism in the Church of Rome Valid?' is one of a very grave character, and of deep practical importance. The answer to it must involve principles vital to the peace, the purity, and the stability of the church of God.
After a full discussion carried through several days, this Assembly has decided, by a nearly unanimous vote, that baptism so administered, is not invalid.
Because, since baptism is an ordinance established by Christ in his Church, (Form of Gov., chap. vii; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20,) and is to be administered only by a minister of Christ, duly called and ordained to be a steward of the mysteries of God, (Directory, chap. viii, sec. 1.) it follows that no rite administered by one who is not himself a duly ordained minister of the true Church of God visible, can be regarded as an ordinance of Christ, whatever be the name by which it is called, whatever the form employed in its administration. The so-called priest of the Romish communion are not ministers of Christ, for they are commissioned as agents of the papal hierarchy, which is not a Church of Christ, but the Man of Sin, apostate from the truth, the enemy of righteousness and of God. She has long lain under the curse of God, who has called his people to come out from her, that they be not partakers of her plagues.
It is the unanimous opinion of all the Reformed churches, that the whole papal body, though once a branch of the visible church, has long since become utterly corrupt, and hopelessly apostate. It was a conviction of this which led to the reformation, and the complete separation of the reformed body from the papal communion. Luther and his coadjutors, being duly ordained presbyters at the time when they left the Romish communion, which then, though fearfully corrupt, was the only visible church in the countries of their abode, were fully authorized by the word of God, to ordain successors in the ministry, and so to extend and perpetuate the Reformed churches as true churches of Christ: while the contumacious adherence of Rome to her corruptions, as shown in the decisions of the Council of Trent, (which she adopts as authoritative,) cuts her off from the visible Church of Christ, as heretical and unsound. This was the opinion of the Reformers, and it is the doctrine of the Reformed churches to this day. In entire accordance to this is the decision of the General Assembly of our Church, passed in 1835, (See Minutes of General Assembly, vol. 8, p. 33) declaring the Church of Rome to be an apostate body.
The decision by the Assembly of 1835 renders the return of a negative to the inquiry proposed by the Presbytery of Ohio indispensable on the ground of consistency; unless we be prepared to admit, in direct contradiction to the standards of the Presbyterian Church, that baptism is not an ordinance established by Christ in his Church exclusively and that it may be administered by an agent of the Man of Sin, an emissary of the prince of darkness; that it may be administered in sport or in blasphemy, and yet be valid as though administered by a duly commissioned steward of the mysteries of God. ...
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Headed to Chicago and Moody Bible Institute
09/19/2005 - James WhiteI am truly looking forward to the next few days as I travel with my father up to Chicago to speak at the Moody Bible Institute. My dad graduated from Moody in 1953, but has never been back, so this will be his first visit in 52 years! I am going out on a limb and predicting "a few things have changed." I will be speaking in two chapel services and in some classes, and getting to spend some time with the students. As soon as I was invited to come I arranged to bring my father along, for I knew he would want to visit again, and what better way to return to Moody than to get to hear your son speak in the chapel services? I also had Angel put together one of his world-famous (just ask Dave Armstrong) caricatures of me and my dad for the trip to Chicago. So I'm afraid my blog will become as quiet as Eric Nielsen's is all the time (inside joke) for the next few days, unless, of course, something happens while I'm away and I go running around downtown Chicago looking for wi-fi hot spots! Also, we might try to sneak a DL in on Friday, all depending on schedules. We'll try to get an announcement up early enough to let you know.
Hays Unmasks Owen
09/19/2005 - James WhiteI'm glad Steve Hays has more time these days than I do. He's on top of the eisegetical nightmares Paul Owen is posting, and here is the newest. Well named, "The Enemy Within." Owen is demonstrating he is anything but what he claims to be, that is for certain. Once again, I wonder when other folks will start to put together the big picture of Owen's agenda? Read this stuff, read his comments on Catholicism, on Mormonism, and Baptists. It's really not that hard to figure out. Honest.
Christian Apologetics Journal Book Review: A Response (III)
09/18/2005 - James WhiteWith this installment I conclude my response to the "review" of The Roman Catholic Controversy published in the Christian Apologetics Journal.
Catholics, however, use the term "justification" to cover the entire salvific process. But they do distinguish between "initial" and "progressive" justification, the former resembling justification "proper" for evangelicals, while the latter sanctification. I believe the Catholic position to be an error not a heresy. Their view is similar to the error of "Galatianism." "Paul's warning to them clearly related to their sanctification. His fear was not that they would lose their initial (forensic) justification, but that they would fall back into bondage to the law (Galatians 2:4)." (Geisler and MacKenzie, p. 236). It is interesting that while White doesn't address this distinction, Akin does.
Yes, please forgive me: my presentation was not marked by running it by a Catholic apologist to be "tweaked." I relied upon official dogmatic definitions from Rome itself, and biblical exegesis. My apologies.
It is hard to read this without concluding that 1) biblical terminology and categories are not to be taken as normative (i.e., we should not allow the Bible to define justification, and it is just one position versus another as to how one does so); 2) the anathema is used in Scripture of mere "errors" that are not "heresies"; 3) "initial justification" though based not upon the imputed righteousness of Christ, substitutionary atonement, etc., is still "close enough" (though accomplished ex opere operato by baptism) to sorta count. Geisler and MacKenzie are simply wrong in their reading of Galatians, and stand opposed to the historical reading of the Reformers and the wide swath of their children down to the point where most lost any belief in the inspiration and consistency of Scripture so as to not really count anymore. The position they take makes mince-meat of Paul's argument (esp. in 2:16ff, 5:1-4, etc.). One is sadly reminded of Geisler's statement that John 6:44 includes an assertion of "free choice." At times, the over-riding external authorities are seen with tremendous clarity, and here is such an example in reference to Rome and her "gospel" in light of Paul's epistle to the Galatians. ...
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Newly discovered documents link Mormon founder to crimes
09/16/2005 - James WhiteBy Jeffrey Morse
Sun Staff Writer
NORWICH – County historians have rediscovered historical records proving the founder of the Mormon Church was arrested on several occasions while living in Chenango County.
The papers turned up after a three decade absence, and may prove to be the most historically significant discovery in the modern history of the area.
The documents, which have recently been turned over to the Chenango County Historical Society, include legal bills from separate charges filed against Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, now the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The religious founder, the bills show, was arrested three times in the county between 1826 and 1830. County Historian Dale Storms said the cases involved Smith’s involvement in “glass looking,” or searching for treasure, and “being a disorderly person.”
“From the beginning, there have been people who have been against the Mormon religion. They sought to discredit him by saying he was arrested all over throughout Bainbridge,” Storms said. “It is not a small thing. ... These are important papers to a major religion.”
Owen on Mormonism: A Warning to the Discerning (II)
09/16/2005 - James WhiteBefore continuing our response to Paul Owen's velvet-glove treatment of his former religion, I found it most humorous that he has now complained about being misrepresented in his views of Baptists. If life were not so short, and time precious, it would be enjoyable to go back through just the archives I have kept of his harangues to put together a lengthy selection of his anti-Baptist statements, placed in juxtaposition to his "I'm being misrepresented!" complaint. Actually, a quick search of my own blog for "Paul Owen" would pull up plenty of substantiation. Also, for those interested, I examined, and refuted, Owen's eisegetical attempt to undermine the clear testimony of John 6:37ff to the truth of divine predestination on the Dividing Line today (9/15/05 for those reading at a later date). His completely a-contextual handling of the text is testimony to the over-riding nature of tradition in his thinking. We continue reviewing Owen's commentary on Mormonism:
4. I do not believe that the argument, sure they believe in a Jesus, but not the Jesus, applies to the Mormons. The accusation of preaching “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4) is directed at false teachers who knowingly deny the authority of the apostle Paul, and who intentionally proclaim a different Jesus from the one Paul claimed to have met on the Damascus Road. The Mormons do not intend to worship a Jesus who differs from the apostolic testimony, as Paul’s opponents did. Their intention is to worship the Jesus who spoke through all the apostles. Christian apologists, in their zeal to latch onto a prooftext, have misapplied Paul’s strong words here, and wrongly applied them to Mormons, who intend to affirm what Paul, and all the apostles taught pertaining to Christ, but who misunderstand some of those teachings. That, in itself, is not damnable. I take their claim to have faith in Jesus at face value. The problem is, it is a defective faith, because the Mormons do not affirm the true substance of the faith as it has been summarized in the consensual affirmations of the Church. The problem with the Mormons is not that they do not believe the Bible (many of them do); it is that they do not believe in the testimony of the Church as to the content of the faith once for all committed to the saints (Jude 3). In short, the problem with the Mormons is not that they are not Evangelicals, but that they are not Catholic Christians....
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Today on the Dividing Line
09/15/2005 - James WhiteTook calls at the beginning of the show then had to rush, too much, I fear, through reading Calvin's comments on John 6:37ff so as to contrast them with those of Paul Owen and his "Covenantal" (Eisegetical) reading of the same passage. Lord willing and I ever clear my desk so as to get to the John 6 project, I will surely include that amazing "reading" in the section to be examined and refuted. Here is the program.
BTW, I mentioned this graphic that appeared in the CRI Journal. I got the official word on it after the program. It was meant to show a progression of issues: Smith (controversy clearly outside the Church), Jakes (I would argue he's just as much outside the Church as Smith, but I guess the idea is he's on TBN and all over the media, so its more of an internal issue) and Calvin representing an internal controversy that should be discussed. That is my paraphrase. I think the folks at CRI should get that typed up and ready to mail out with regularity, since the conjunction of Smith, Jakes, and Calvin, did not communicate that idea to me, even after I tried to find something in the article that would remove the "fingernails on a chalkboard" effect of the graphic. Put your favorite theologian in Calvin's position, even if you are not Reformed, and you might get the idea. In any case, there's the official explanation. Now, let's get CRI to do an exegetical debate between myself and 1) Norman Geisler, 2) Dave Hunt, 3) William Lane Craig, 4) Paul Owen, 5) WHOEVER, on John 6 for a future edition of the Journal. Start with exegetical presentations in Part I; then provide critiques of the other's presentation in the next edition. That would be great.
Hello LaShawn Barber!
09/14/2005 - James WhiteSomeone in channel kindly pointed me to the blog of LaShawn Barber who made reference to my comments on Katrina and culture in general from the DL last Thursday. Hey, great to know someone outside the chat channel is listening! Thanks, LaShawn!
On a Personal Note
09/14/2005 - James WhiteSo, why would I post a picture of trucks on an interstate highway? Because that is I-10 west of Phoenix. I took this picture with my cell phone this morning. In the far distance you can barely see the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant, 50 miles west of Phoenix. I'm on the over-pass. Why? Because this was the half-way point of my ride today, 29.4 miles from where I started. Since I tacked on a little extra at the end, the final total for this morning's ride: 59.4 miles, with 940 feet of ascent and a really discouraging headwind the last ten miles (all cyclists know what I mean by that). Thankfully, out of literally nowhere, another cyclist appeared, and I got to ride his wheel for about three miles (dropped my heart rate 11bpm!). Anyway, when I got back to my car, I could still smile, though, I admit, that many hours of hard aerobic exercise has left me just a tad bit tired.
Since my trip to Italy in mid-May I have dropped about 35 pounds. Folks have been particularly noticing it in the pictures I posted from the cruise, and a few have honestly asked, "OK, you did that in a matter of like ten weeks--what's the secret?" I'm not a medical doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but there isn't any major secret here. When I first got in shape in 1993 it was simple: I got up the morning of May 5th, 1993, and rode the Target mountain bike I had purchased the day before four miles---and almost died. But I got up again the next morning and rode five miles. And in less than six months I had dropped thirty pounds and rode my first century ride in under six hours (i.e., 100+ miles). Between 1993 and late 1998 I rode 29,500 miles. So, when Mike O'Fallon challenged me to compete with him and Steve Camp to lose weight prior to the Conference and debate in Seattle, I only knew one thing that worked. So, I got back on the bike. I ate a sensible breakfast (single egg, multi-grain piece of toast, Smart Balance spread, skim milk, mondo pile of vitamins), a pretty "normal" lunch, and a light dinner---but (here is the hard part) no snacks after dinner. Not a radical diet, but surely a lot less than I was taking in before. Then, while decreasing the input, I had to raise the outgo, energy wise. So, between June 14th and August 23rd (the weigh-in date), I rode more than 1,000 miles. Most of that was on the road, though, since I live in Phoenix, the only time you can ride in June/July/August is very, very early in the morning. So, I do have a fluid trainer I use indoors for my bike (currently I use a Gary Fisher Tarpon on the trainer, and ride a Gary Fisher Utopia on the road), and I use various videos/DVD's to watch while riding if I have to ride later in the day. These would include the coverage of the 2002 and 2004 Le Tour de France races, but more importantly, my Spinervals DVDS. The Spinervals videos are killers. Coach Troy Jacobson's voice echoes in my noggin all the time, mainly because the first video he did long ago, called "CycleRobix," was all I had for years and years. I think I've done that single workout like 250 times or more. I have it memorized. "200 meters! 100 meters! 50 meters...you're cresting...pop it up to your 18 and spin, spin, SPIN!" AAAAaaaaahhhh! Great workout, but some of his later ones will leave even the best athlete crying for mercy. Spinervals 19 is one I can only do when I'm feeling really, really froggy, because it will take me three days to recover from it, it is that challenging.
So, though the specific weight challenge is over, I have my sights set on El Tour de Tucson, November 19th. I am going to go for the 80-mile portion of the race. I don't know if I will ever do the 109 mile portion again, we will see. For now, the 80 is more than tough enough.
Sorry if "diet and exercise" was not what you wanted to hear. But I do believe that there are certain exercises that "work" for some folks that wouldn't work for others. We are all genetically different. For me, running doesn't work; rowing doesn't work; any other form of aerobic I've tried just doesn't come close to climbing on that bike and heading out on the road. Nothing elevates my heart rate like the bike (and btw, since June 14th, my resting heart rate has dropped from 65 to 53, body fat percentage down to the mid teens again), so I need to recognize that and stick with it.
Oh, I forgot the geeky aspect (has to have one for me, of course). Yes, I use a heart rate monitor. Polar S650X (going off the top of my head there), which has an infra-red port so it can beam its data to either my home computer or to my Palm Tungsten T5. Very useful in keeping track of how you are doing and watching your cardio-vascular fitness improve week by week. Most exercise physiologists I've talked to recommend the use of an hrm (heart rate monitor).
I have no intentions of getting back down to where I was in, say, 1994, when I rode my longest solo ride (125 miles, 19.2 avg. speed) or my fastest ride (24 miles, 25.62 mph), which was between 165 and 170 lbs. Sadly, I did not know about the need for protein back then. When I took seven years off to bodybuild I learned the importance of protein intake, so I intend to protect at least some of those gains even as I regain my full aerobic capacity once again. I've discovered that not only has the cycling industry made huge gains since I rode last (so many improvements!), but even today I used gel food packs that, unlike what I used back in the 90s, are in a 4 to 1 carb/protein ratio (they figured out you need the protein even during the exercise itself), and I noted they were easier on my stomach as a result. Very encouraging, for as the picture shows, I was smiling when it was all over, so they definitely worked well for me.
And now we return you to your regularly scheduled theological programming....
Christian Apologetics Journal Book Review: A Response (II)
09/14/2005 - James WhiteThis is even more clearly seen when MacKenzie raises the issue of solo scriptura in these words:
White states that "the doctrine of sola scriptura is based on the nature of the Scriptures as the Word of God" (62). To demonstrate that this doctrine was held in the church prior to the Reformation, he quotes from Basil of Caesarea (c. A.D. 330-379) (55). Unfortunately, many evangelicals, intent on protecting sola scriptura form its Catholic alternative, have embraced who [sic] Keith A. Mathison terms "solo" scriptura. This is the attempt to interpret without recourse to the ecumenical councils and creeds, classically called the regula fidei ("rule of faith").
Is MacKenzie saying I am guilty of holding to solo scriptura? It is hard to avoid that impression, though he does not come right out and make the statement. Who are these evangelicals who have fallen into this alleged trap if not me? And if it is not me, why bother mentioning it here in a review of my own position on sola scriptura?
In reference to the idea of solo scriptura, I wrote in Scripture Alone:
In his book The Shape of Sola Scriptura, Keith Mathison contrasts sola scriptura with what he calls solo scriptura. Many of the criticisms Mathison aims at solo scriptura have already been enumerated above. It is quite true that there are non-Catholics who wave the banner of sola scriptura as a cloak to hide their dislike of the Bible’s teaching about the church, authority, and Christian truth. That is why it has properly been said that to hold to sola scriptura one must likewise firmly hold to tota scriptura, a belief in, and acceptance of, all the Bible reveals. Sola scriptura is mocked when the entirety of the God-breathed revelation is not obediently read and followed. And since the Scriptures speak of the church, teaching in the church, exhortation, rebuke, and the like, those who seek to make sola scriptura an excuse for being anti-church or simply heretical have no basis in the doctrine for their position. So I can join in this portion of the criticism of solo scriptura. ...
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Today on the Dividing Line
09/13/2005 - James WhiteWhere else on the web can you get a webcast including: half an hour of review of the Crossan debate cross-examination (played clips and discussed) followed by a phone call touching on the emergent church, Calvinism and its opponents, and Greg Stafford and Jehovah's Witnesses? Nowhere but here!
Owen on Mormonism: A Warning to the Discerning
09/13/2005 - James WhitePaul Owen, a name well known to anyone who has read this blog with any regularity, has one again demonstrated an incredible double-standard in how he deals with theological issues and movements. We know what the young Dr. Owen thinks of Baptists: his language is as harsh as can be and the accusations, insults, and basic ad-hominem flows freely from his keyboard when anything "Baptist" is discussed (though, of course, he throws all Baptists into one big lump to do so, often resulting in embarrassingly simplistic misrepresentations). But almost no one else receives the same kind of banal opprobrium from Owen's vaunted and exalted scholarship, including, obviously, the Mormons. This should be important to a wide variety of our readers, since Owen has snagged the attention of Christian publishers and has edited one volume already relevant to the topic of Mormonism. One would think that many of those involved with those publishing projects would wish to be aware of Owen's constant denigration of anything "Baptist" coupled with his willingness to "spin" the most horrific heresies for everyone else. I refer to some "clarifications" he has posted regarding Mormonism, in which we read the following:
2. I have never advocated accepting the self-professed Christian status of the Mormon Church. There is such a thing as the visible church, united around a common faith which is articulated in the Nicene Creed and similar ecumenical statements of faith, and entered into by Trinitarian baptism. The Mormon Church does not formally give their assent to the Creed, does not accept the doctrine of the Trinity as it has been historically understood, and hence does not validly baptize its converts. I view no unbaptized person as a Christian (which is not to say that God is not free to do so).
Let's make sure we fully understand this assertion, for it is a long way from why the vast majority of believers have rejected Mormonism as a "Christian religion." Why have Christians rejected Mormonism from the start and sought to evangelize them? Because Mormonism and Christianity differ at the most fundamental level. Mormonism's God is not the God of Christianity. Mormonism's God became a god at a time in the distant past through a process of progression and exaltation; men and God are of the same species, just at different points in their progression. When Joseph Smith, the self-proclaimed prophet through whom the entire Christian faith was "restored," informed us that his God had not been God from all eternity, he forever separated his followers from the Christian faith. All the rest of Mormonism's errors---their errors about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, man, sin, salvation, the Scriptures, priesthood, etc.---all flow from this basic error: that Christianity is monotheistic and believes that God is God and man is His creature; Mormonism is polytheistic and believes God and man are of the same species. Faith in a false god, no matter what names you use for that god, is a false faith that cannot save, and since the work of the Spirit is to sanctify us in the truth, God does not save His people through such false worship. ...
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Christian Apologetics Journal Book Review: A Response
09/12/2005 - James WhiteI was informed recently that Ralph MacKenzie, co-author of Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences along with Norman Geisler, wrote a book review of The Roman Catholic Controversy in the "Christian Apologetics Journal" published by Geisler's organization. I found that somewhat odd, given that my book is nearly a decade old now. In any case, I would like to respond to some of the comments made by MacKenzie.
White is articulate and a vigorous (although often quite strident) debater.
Some of you may recall the encounter I had with Mr. MacKenzie in the pages of the CRI Journal back in 2000 when we wrote a point/counter-point article on the Catholic/Lutheran accord, the one that sought to foster agreement by in essence ignoring the key issues of the Reformation itself. You can guess which side I took. MacKenzie has often referred to me as a "hard-nose," and that is because, in essence, we approach the issue of Roman Catholicism (and, I would imagine, all "boundary issues" regarding the gospel) from different perspectives. As he indicated in an article he wrote for This Rock magazine in 2003 (http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0311fea2.asp):
There was no latent anti-Catholicism in the Protestant faith of my youth, and so I read Catholic as well as Protestant sources. I was Evangelical in my theology (and still am) but I soon realized that—as distasteful as the notion is to some Protestants—prior to the Reformation, if we were Christians, we were members of the Catholic Church (unless of course we lived in the East and were Orthodox)....
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When It Works, It Works
09/09/2005 - James WhiteOn my travels last week four technological items (and one program) worked so flawlessly, so perfectly, that I thought I should mention them. Instead of complaints, time to give some kudos to items and programs that actually do what they are supposed to do, and do it well.
First, the Palm Tungsten T5. I read my opening statement on it. I used it as my Bible. I used it as my Greek text (at one point checking a claim by Dr. Crossan and finding him in error on the term used, though, of course, he wasn't looking at the text himself). I used a great program on it to store quotes and my cross-examination questions, a program that is easy to use and is simply perfect for storing data in a form that you can access quickly and easily. It is called Note Studio. It isn't cheap. But it works, and works well. Best organization/note card program I've ever encountered. Highly recommended.
Now, let me warn you about something...if you have used the earlier Tungsten Palm devices (Tungsten, T3), and liked, as I did, the aluminum hard case Palm sells (I noted Tom Ascol had a T3 with a hard case with him on the cruise), whatever you do, do not get the T5 hard case. It is worthless. Talk about missing the point! The earlier hard case made sense: it was easy to get the unit in and out of it; you could turn it on, beam with it, plug in a headphone jack, etc., all while it was still in the case. But the genius who designed the new hard case for the T5 obviously has never actually used the T5, or any other Palm device. Getting the unit in and out of the new case is a chore, but more importantly, once it is in the case, you cannot beam; you cannot plug anything in; you cannot even get the stylus out or even turn it on and off without having to try to pull the device up and out of the portion it lies in (which isn't easy either). A complete example of how to take a good idea and make it stupid in one fell swoop. Thankfully, Vaja makes a gorgeous case for the T5 that is functional and oh so wonderful (especially if you love the smell of Argentinian leather).
Next, I have had the Dell Inspiron 8600 for about a year now. Aside from the touch pad, which simply does not like my attempts at double tapping, this laptop is the best I've ever owned (and I've owned quite a few). Bullet proof. Gorgeous display, excellent battery life, accessories work well...it just does what it is supposed to do. Dell gets blasted a lot, but I have never had a problem at all, and this one has proven a real workhorse, traveling all over the US, England, Scotland, and Italy, without a single problem.
Next, I love my digital camera. It is the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W1 5.1 Mega Pixel unit (looks like mine is gone, but this is the current version). Again, it simply works, and what I love about it is that it has a very large screen that actually allows you to see the picture you have just taken with some meaningful level of resolution. Again, a unit that does what it claims to do. The gorgeous Alaska pictures I've posted came from that camera. A great investment.
Finally, one more piece of technology I took with me that I can very, very highly recommend: the Canon iP90 portable printer. We bought this little unit for me when I was in St. Louis back in February. It is very portable (fits in one of my Oakley backpacks along with our digital projector with room to spare), produces gorgeous, high-quality documents, even after being lugged around and shoved under airplane seats and run through security-point screening machines, and rolling down the rollers and running into other luggage---you get the idea---and that on the first sheet of paper. This crazy little unit also prints color, vibrant, high-quality color pictures, at like 1400 dpi or something along those lines. And it communicates with my laptop via the infrared port (i.e., I don't have to carry yet another proprietary USB cable around). Talk about a blessing in a hotel room, where I can print out my boarding pass for the early, early flight in the morning, or a copy of my sermon notes or debate notes (always good to have a back up should my Palm take a dive). I have been tremendously pleased with the quality of this printer, and couldn't recommend it more highly.
So, there's your tech fix for the...month, or something. :-)
Phil Johnson on Mormonism, Millet, Mosser & Owen
09/08/2005 - James WhitePhil Johnson's last two blog articles are most interesting not only on the subject of Mormonism and the media-oriented use of meetings by LDS scholars with evangelical leaders but, for those of us who have watched Owen undermining anything and everything that is good and godly for years now, for the insight it gives us into just how long he's been at it. It is so very odd to see a "former Mormon" telling Phil Johnson to "repent" of his attitude toward Mormons. Really makes you wonder....
God is Sovereign in the Natural Realm
09/08/2005 - James WhiteCommented today on Katrina and the simple fact that if you believe the Bible and follow its teachings, things like Katrina cannot be sloughed off into the "it happens" category. That was the first half hour, then the calls came in pretty strong today, and that took up the second portion of the program. Here it is.
Update on Sovereign Grace Fellowship Relief Fund
09/08/2005 - Rich PierceSovereign Grace Fellowship of New Orleans has now set up a bank account where you can donate directly. Checks or Money Orders can be sent to:
Sovereign Grace Fellowship Relief Fund
Natchez Main Branch
320 Franklin Street
Natchez, MS 39120
If you want to contact the bank via phone I am sure that they can handle bank to bank funds transfers as well.
09/07/2005 - James WhiteThe fresh, crisp air of Alaska, normally in the mid 50's, was quite the contrast to the current 102 degrees here in Phoenix, as I knew it would be. But, such joyous experiences only last so long, and now it is back to so many other projects and tasks. My next trip will take me up to speak in the chapel services of Moody Bible Institute in just a few weeks, something I am truly looking forward to.
So I start trying to catch up with what has been going on while I'm gone, and once again I am struck by the fact that some folks just can't stand me, no matter what I am saying or doing. For the past few months I have been focused upon one particular topic, that being the debates with John Dominic Crossan and all the issues related to apologetic response to the most extreme forms of destructive criticism (i.e., the Jesus Seminar), such as the Synoptic field. And so I haven't mentioned men like Timothy Enloe in quite some time (last notice was simply a long recounting of his own vitriolic posting on a Catholic web board), and it has been months since I dared type the name "Internet Monk" on this blog. Yet, while I was away defending the historicity of the gospels and the resurrection of Christ, both made either direct, or veiled, references to yours truly.
Others have already documented, once again, the inconsistencies and repetitive chanting endemic to Enloe's materials. But one thing that keeps catching my attention in his voluminous chatter is his deep, deep insecurity regarding how to handle and interpret the Word of God. He obviously has no facility in the field, knows it, and hence has decided it is a bad thing to be trained to do so; and what is worse, he has decided that he will dishonestly misrepresent the study of exegesis in almost every single thing he writes as a cover for his own incapacities. No matter how many times he is exposed on this matter, he has adopted the mindset of men like Art Sippo, or Dave Hunt, both of whom likewise cover over their inability to deal with exegetical issues with the same straw-man hysterics. The shrill rhetoric he employs is so transparently fallacious it is no wonder he only uses it in contexts where he knows he is in friendly company: you will never see Enloe facing myself or Eric Svendsen or David King or anyone else in public. This kind of bravado only exists behind a keyboard that is located in the wilderness of Idaho: ...
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This is Perfect
09/07/2005 - James WhiteFor those of you who have heard me speak on the Da Vinci Code and Dan Brown's inability to figure out which centuries are which, this comic is perfect.
Robert Funk Dies September 3
09/07/2005 - James WhiteI cannot help but noting the irony: on August 26th during the evening session of our national conference I played clips from my 1989 encounter with Robert Funk, the co-founder, along with John Dominic Crossan, of the Jesus Seminar, illustrating the bias very plainly found in Funk's position (and in his concluding the interview by telling us all to "go to hell" because it is a "nice place to go"). Just over a week later, when we were in Glacier Bay in Alaska, Robert Funk died at age 79. One can only shudder at the thought of standing before God and hearing his Twenty-one Theses for the Coming Radical Reformation read out. How very strange that this would take place exactly one week after our debate in Seattle. Definitely one for the "odd providences" list.
Special DL Today!
09/07/2005 - James WhiteSpecial live edition of the DL today at 2pm EDT. If you missed it, here it is. And we will be back on the web Thursday at 7pm EDT.
A Word of Thanks
09/06/2005 - James WhiteBefore we move on to all the issues facing us in the future, allow me to once again express my sincere thanks to two men without whom the recent conference and debate simply could not have taken place. You will soon begin to see video clips, and soon be able to listen to, and watch, the debates, and I believe those with a knowledge of the subject at hand will see just how valuable and useful these debates will be for years to come. I prepared long and hard, but things of this size cannot be done alone. It takes teamwork.
Here you see a picture of myself along with Steve Camp (on the left of the picture...and yes, he's standing on a step) and Mike O'Fallon (to my right). Yes, we were the three who engaged in a competition to lose the most weight, percentage wise, between June 14th and August 23rd. And yes, Steve Camp won by 0.1% over Mike O'Fallon, and I was a lowly third. However, unless I'm missing my guess, neither of my brothers lost another two pounds during the cruise, as I did. We will see whose methodology has longer lasting impact! Anyway, when I last saw Mike last evening, late, in Anchorage, he was looking pretty tired. He had worked so very hard during the entire conference and cruise to make things "work" for us all. He was the one who arranged the debate with Dr. Crossan (and with Doug Wilson and with Greg Stafford, for that matter). He makes the cruises work. He and his wife Sau do far more than anyone knows. Keep that in mind when you get a chance to start hearing the debates and the conference presentations.
But of course, as all of you know who listen to the Dividing Line, the day-in, day-out workhorse of the ministry is Rich Pierce. I looked through all the pictures I have from the conference and could not find one of Rich and I together, which makes sense, I guess. If I am up front, he's in the back making sure the cameras are rolling and the sound is being recorded, etc. That's what he was doing here (and my son Josh is doing the "don't take that picture" look, it seems). But this seems a fitting picture, because Rich is doing what Rich does: working with his "stuff," his tools, here, cameras and sound boards and connections and cables and the like. And that is why you will get to listen to the debate or watch it or, eventually, all the Conference presentations as well.
So surely this past adventure proved once again the appropriateness of Paul's analogy of the Body: each with different gifts. I may be the "out front" guy doing the debate, engaging in the cross-examination, asking the questions, but we have a place to hold the debate, and it is being recorded, and will be distributed, because of believers like Mike O'Fallon and Rich Pierce and the many others who work with them who do not insist upon being "out front." That is the attitude of servanthood.
Woops, Sorry, A Bit Optimistic There
09/05/2005 - James WhiteSorry, false alarm...I sorta forgot to ask the powers that be about the Dividing Line, and they had assumed that since I don't get home till the morning, we wouldn't be doing the program. So maybe a Wednesday version, we will see, just not today. :-)
Greetings from Anchorage
09/05/2005 - James WhiteJust wanted to pop up a few more pictures while I have wi-fi here in Anchorage before we try to catch our flight home late this evening. First is a little better picture of a pre-debate conversation between myself and John Dominic Crossan from last Saturday evening. Once again, let me reiterate how amiable and kind Dr. Crossan was during the debates and the entirety of the cruise. That was much appreciated.
Next, here is a picture Scott Schaeffer took that gives you a good idea of the kind of work and set up that goes into a debate, and the folks who did the lion's share of the work. In the center is Rich Pierce; my son Josh is on the right camera, our friend Larry on the left; Mike O'Fallon is at the podium, and of course Dr. Crossan is on the left, I am on the right of the podium. You can't see all the volunteers who helped to make things happen that night, but the two who did most of the legwork in the months beforehand, Rich and Mike, are there. To the right would be our book table, and surely Dave Gere, who didn't get to go, but who ran most of the DVD's and CD's and the like, should be thanked for his work as well.
Finally, we visited Glacier Bay a few days ago, and the Lord was kind enough to lift the clouds when we got a chance to see the Johns Hopkins Glacier. I have never seen a more beautiful sight, and this time up to Glacier Bay I had my 5 megapixel camera, so I have some simply gorgeous shots now.
Lord willing and our flight is on time we will do the Dividing Line live tomorrow and I will report on the events of the past two weeks.
Predestined: Personal or Generic? (Part III)
09/05/2005 - James WhiteConcluding Thoughts
God has no obligation to predestine anyone in the first place. The astonishing reality is not that God has only elected some to be saved but that he would elect anyone in the first place! So, if God has no obligation to save anyone, then why are there folks that object to God's gracious choice in election? I will let you in on a little secret: These folks down deep inside believe that grace is only grace if its given to all people. Yes, I know what you are thinking, 'But that defeats the very meaning of grace.' Exactly, grace is undeserved. So, if God chooses to give one person electing grace, he is not required to give someone else this same grace. 'But thats not fair!' someone may object. That's right, its not fair--its called grace. We don't want God to be fair! We want him to be merciful. If God was fair with us, we would all get our just due: to perish eternally in our sins.
It is like the guilty man who was just pardoned from death row; rather than praising and thanking the governor for his mercy, he points his finger at him and says, 'How dare you pardon me and not everyone else!' What would we say about such an individual? We would say that person is a fool in the most serious sense of the term. Likewise, the Christian is foolish to point his finger at God and demand that he have the same salvific grace on everyone.
Just as the word pardon should be the sweetest of all words for a guilty person on death row, so should it be for the Christian who hears the Biblical words election or predestination. They should be the sweetest and most joyful words to the Christian's ears! It was for the apostle Paul. And yet, sadly, these precious Biblical words such as election and predestination are disdained by many Christians.
Either God's freedom in salvation to bestow grace to whomever he chooses is such that is crushes the pride of man, or this truth hardens mans detestation for God's freedom and builds his pride up even more--there is no neutral effect on any person who encounters this truth (or reading this article).
Most churches (traditions) ignore this most awesome truth, or at best, give lip service to it. But when an individual Christian meets this truth head on, they are either humbled in such a way that they will never see the Creator and themselves the same way ever again, or, they will stiffen their knees and refuse to bow to the freedom of God by making desperate arguments to protect their own so called libertarian free-will.
One day when we are all around the throne of God, there will not be anyone standing up saying, I am so glad that I chose God. My friends, on that day everyone will know who chose who---and they will be on their faces worshiping that One.
Predestined: Personal or Generic? (Part II)
09/04/2005 - James WhiteBiblical Data that Teaches God Predestined Individuals
Does Scripture only teach that God predestined a plan and purpose and not individuals? Lets jump into the Biblical evidence,
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
Here in the clearest of terms, Paul is telling the Thessalonians that the cause of their salvation is the action of God choosing them. Notice it says, "God chose you [individuals] to be saved." It does not say, "God chose only a plan of salvation with the hopes that one day you would be part of this plan." And yet, there are those that would want us to believe this, contrary to the plain meaning of Paul's words.
The English translation here properly reflects the underlying Greek. The personal pronoun 'you' is in the accusative case, which means it is the object of the action of the verb 'chose.' God is the subject and the 'you' is the direct object receiving the action of 'chose.'
Further, notice that salvation is 'through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.' Let me stop here a moment and explain an important truth. Paul understands that salvation involves all the work of the Spirit in regeneration, conversion, justification, sanctification, glorification, etc. Salvation or election is not equated with 'justification' (being declared righteous before God). Though justification is part of our salvation it is not the whole of our salvation.
I have heard it said, 'If God predestines people to be saved then why live a holy life?' That question demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of what election means. That is like asking, 'If God predestined us to live holy, then why live holy?' Election once again is not simply the initial work of God in justification but involves all the stages of our salvation, including sanctification. ...
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Sovereign Grace Fellowship Relief Update
09/03/2005 - Rich PierceEddie has updated his blog with an on scene report. Click Here for the update
How to help SGF
Predestined: Personal or Generic? (Part I)
09/03/2005 - James WhiteGuest blogger Alan Kurschner addresses "How to Refute the God only predestined a planof salvation and not a people objection to Election."
Placing this Objection in a Context
Many people are comfortable with allowing God to be sovereign in matters such as nature, answering prayer, ordaining a plan of salvation, etc. But for some reason they are averse to the thought of a sovereign God penetrating the will of man. They think that it is unjust for God to use the will of man for his purposes. God, I am glad that you are sovereign and in control of things, but you have no right to touch the will of man. It is usually not said this bluntly, but essentially this is what they are saying.
So, these folks have a dilemma when they come across terms in the Bible such as 'predestination,' 'election,' and 'chosen.' How do they explain away these terms to protect their so-called autonomous will? Sometimes they may phrase it this way, God predestined a plan (or purpose) so that people can be saved. Notice the "so that." People are not actually saved but salvation is only made possible. I have also heard it said ambiguously, God predestined salvation. Now, does this mean that God predestined salvation as a plan, or does this also include individuals in that plan? We are not told. ...
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Dishonest Dave Strikes Again
09/02/2005 - James WhiteEven the great distance of being in Skagway, Alaska, cannot protect me from rolling my eyes in simple disbelief and, I admit, no small amount of disgust, at the utter unwillingness of Dave Hunt to simply be honest in his continued attacks upon the sovereign kingship and freedom of God in salvation. I pull down my e-mail here on the ship and find Hunt's newsletter, and what do I find, but another "lets beat up this strawman I have built of Calvinism" piece once again. Nothing new, of course---Dave knows better than to actually try to engage the refutations of his work, since he knows he has no answers---but instead of just shutting up and moving on to other areas, he keeps wacking away at the cartoon he has made and calls Calvinism. Here's just one portion of his diatribe:
You cite Eph 2:8-9, but faith there is not the gift -- salvation (the subject of the entire passage) is the gift of God. Faith is a feminine noun, while the demonstrative pronoun that ("it is" is not in the Greek) is neuter and could not refer to faith. The Greek will not permit "faith" to be the gift. Moreover, "your faith" ("according to your faith" - Mt 9:29; Rom 1:8; 1 Cor 15:17, etc.) is found 24 times; "thy faith" 11 times; and the disciples are rebuked for not having faith, etc. These are odd expressions, if faith is not one's own but only from God.What is simply amazing here is that the following appeared in Debating Calvinism. Did Hunt even bother to read what I wrote? At times, I seriously doubt it. But if he did, how can he ignore the following which appeared in that very book? ...
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An Insight from Tom Ascol
09/02/2005 - James WhiteLast evening Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries led our "theology talk" time. At one point he mentioned a text that I had never seen in the light in which he placed it. Possibly that is because it is often passed over because it is in the "end stuff" of 1 Corinthians, I don't know. But here's the passage:
1 Corinthians 16:8-9 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.Paul has been in Ephesus for quite some time, but he planned on staying, for a "wide door for effective work has opened to me." That part we can understand. The Lord had opened a door, had given Paul success in reaching people and in establishing the church in Ephesus (as we can clearly see later in Acts 20 when the elders of that well-established church meet with him, and decades later, that same church is addressed by the Lord Jesus in Revelation 2:1-7). It is easy to stay in a place when things are going well. But is that really all Paul is referring to? Not at all, for directly connected to these words we find, "and there are many adversaries." The term used here, avntikei,menoi, can just as easily be translated "enemies." This is the same term Paul used in writing to the Philippians:
Philippians 1:27-28 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents-- which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.For many today, it is the lack of adversaries, opponents, or enemies, that indicates one is being effective. But Paul has no such view of the Christian ministry. He well knew the response the gospel receives from the unregenerate man and how there can be no neutrality regarding the claims of Christ. And so when he speaks of a door wide open, he is not saying there are no obstacles to going through that door; he is not saying that he has found a nice, peaceful place to work where no one objects and no one attacks and no one opposes. Instead, he has truly come to a point of Christian maturity in ministry: he realizes that where there are many opponents, the gospel is being clearly understood and proclaimed. He embraced those opponents, he did not flee from them.
I could not help but thinking about how easy it is to find opponents a reason to complain to God. Surely the Psalmist did many times, but normally that was in reference to their unjustly accusing him of evil. Paul stayed right where he knew the enemy was most active, for where else can the soldier give due service in the cause of the truth? I am sure in his flesh Paul desired to "get away" just like anyone else: but he stayed in Ephesus, he pursued the open door of ministry, he faced his many opponents, his many enemies. He refused to turn tail and run. ...
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Sovereign Grace Fellowship of New Orleans Has Setup A Blog
09/01/2005 - Rich PierceHere's The Link Katrinacus Rex