Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
More on the Sedalia Debate
04/23/2006 - James WhiteIf a person had done a flow-chart on the debate, and had looked for Jonathan Wright's refutation of my opening presentation, that portion of the paper would be pretty much blank, as he really did not even try. As with all inconsistent Arminians, Dr. Wright was forced to do the Dave Hunt "it can't mean that, because there are all these other verses that say whosever over here" routine repeatedly rather than engage the text at any meaningful or scholarly level. I went through John 6:35-45, and though I did so quickly, I covered the main points of the exegesis. No response was offered outside of, "Who does the Father give the Son? Whosoever believeth!" During cross-examination I tried to get him to provide a foundation for this kind of interpretation, but he was unable to do so without leaving the context and exposing his own eisegesis. I likewise had gone through Hebrews 7, 9, and 10 in reference to the perfection of the atonement, and the only offered rebuttal was the bald citation of Hebrews 2:9 with the emphasis upon "every man."
I am thankful the KJV Only issue did not come to center stage in the debate. I believe Dr. Davis' church is KJV Only, so I feared that possibly there might be some problem when I tried to get into dealing with the Greek text. It did come up, however, when I asked Dr. Wright about Romans 8:7-8 and the phrase "for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so" in the NASB. He insisted that "in his translation" it says "for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." We wasted precious time just trying to get to the point of being able to ask why man "is not able" or "can't" subject himself to the law of God. That was a bit frustrating.
Likewise, one of the audience questions asked Dr. Wright why he seemed to glory in his "ignorance" of the Word of God. While the question was not phrased very well, I fully understood what was being asked: Wright had started the debate by asserting that Calvinism "complicates" the gospel; he had later talked about the "plain" meaning of the English text and how we do not need to go into "Greek participles" and the like. So the questioner was asking how it is a virtue to remain ignorant of these things as if that is somehow more "spiritual." Mr. Wright took extreme offense at the question, but he never answered it, either. He did affirm that Calvinism appeals to the "intellect" and the "arrogance" of man, so in reality, the question was quite valid, though it did not get a meaningful response.
I was amazed that some folks drove many, many hours to attend. Some came down from St. Louis, and one group of three young brothers drove all the way from Memphis! I was honored and humbled that folks have that kind of interest and, in fact, that they would desire to support me as well. I am most thankful.
Now, as I looked at my notes, and as I wrote myself a computer sticky note after the debate was over and I was trying to get to bed, there were two issues I found interesting in their emphasis in the debate, i.e., in Dr. Wright's emphasis on these issues. One had to do with the ordo salutis and the issue of the relationship of regeneration and faith (that keeps coming up, doesn't it?), specifically what happened when I sought to get him to comment on 1 John 5:1, 2:29 (and 4:7). He asserted that there is a clear ordo in John 20:31 and John 1:12 that contradicts the reading of 1 John 5:1 that I have proposed. I think a little more in-depth examination is in order to help everyone provide a fully orbed refutation of Dr. Wright's assertions (no, I did not go into it in depth due both to time constraints and the fact that I could not go into Greek issues with him as he had made it plain he was not going there anyway). Secondly, Hebrews 2:9 was quoted, without any concern for context, a number of times. I would like to spend some time looking more closely at these, perhaps here on the blog, perhaps on the DL on Tuesday, we will see.
Once again, I truly appreciate the hard work that went into this debate, and the fact that there had to be some perseverance on the part of those who wanted to see it happen (there was a good bit of opposition in fact). Many thanks to the staff, the students, and those who volunteered to help make it all happen. I hope to receive the recording of the debate soon and make it available in mp3 format.