Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Revisiting the Norman Geisler/Chosen But Free/Potter's Freedom Issue
04/27/2006 - James WhiteAnyone notice a pattern here? Dr. Geisler writes Chosen But Free. I respond with The Potter's Freedom. More than a dozen different churches, conferences, individuals, attempt to arrange a debate. Dr. Geisler says he will not debate fellow Christians (I guess Randall Terry isn't a Christian then?). A thirteen page appendix appears in the second edition of Chosen But Free that makes Gail Riplinger look like a Rhodes Scholar (need documentation? Here it is). Its refutation has never even been acknowledged, let alone addressed. Silence.
Dave Hunt writes What Love is This? Standing at his table in St. Louis at the PFO conference Hunt agrees to debate me, one on one. I write an open letter documenting all sorts of problems with it. Loyal Publishing calls the next day after posting this inviting me to write Debating Calvinism. A number of folks tell me Hunt will use this as an excuse to avoid public debate. I write the book anyway, figuring it will get into places nothing else I will write could ever go. Hunt uses it as an excuse to avoid public debate, as he has "said all he needs to say." Of course, he goes on to write another book on Calvinism anyway, so I guess he didn't really say all he needed to say. Repeated documentation of his errors is met with...silence.
The Calvinist Gadfly has had a clock going for a while on his website marking the amount of time since Geisler was challenged to engage in a public debate on the topic of Calvinism. Well, this morning, right before his site went down (providence!!), someone commented on the Geisler/White situation. Here I provide his comments, and my response:
First, Dr. Geisler has debated Christians in person and not just in print. For example, he debated Randall Terry about the legitimacy of Operation Rescues tactics.Agreed, which is why I have found his consistent assertion that he will not enter into this debate with me because of his kind acknowledgement of me as a Christian to be rather odd and inconsistent.
Second, Dr. Geisler has said that he does not wish to debate for the sake of debate. He sees James White being pugilistic on this point and has nothing more to say to him than what he has already written.There is nothing "pugilistic" about The Potter's Freedom, nor can anyone possibly argue that I have not raised numerous and substantive issues in reference to Chosen But Free. When I wrote to Dr. Geisler during the period when I was writing The Potter's Freedom one of the questions I asked was why there was no exegesis of John 6:37-45 in Chosen But Free. He wrote back that he had "fully exegeted" the text in the book. I wrote back and provided him with every single reference to the text in the entirety of CBF, and asked if perhaps it had been edited out somehow? He sent back a single postcard that said, "If you publish, I will respond." That was it. Can anyone seriously argue that he has said all he needs to say to me on this subject? I think not.
Third, to accuse Dr. Geisler of not being confident in debating is just absurd. The man has been in many public debates and has taken on many issues in print, even in the face of criticism. Do you remember the controversy with the nature of the resurrection and how much opinion turned against him when he called Murray Harris to account for arguing that Christ did not rise in the essentially same body as that which was crucified? Dr. Geisler is not concerned about receiving criticism per se.Well, that is what has made this entire saga so odd. Just the list of endorsements on my book alone should be enough to make it clear that a wide variety of scholars agree on one thing: Chosen But Free is a bad book. I can't believe Dr. Geisler is truly confident of this particular issue.
Fourth, as far as overturning the terms of the Calvinist/Armenian debate, have you ever read anything written before the Reformation on predestination? Dr. Geisler has merely reintroduced us to a way of thinking about the topic that precedes Calvinism and Armenianism. Thats hardly overturning the dabte in the sense you assert.Thankfully, I have met Reformed Armenians, so I will once again assume Mike is unfamiliar with the fact that Armenians are an ethnic group. You might wish to refer to "Arminians." :-) But the fact of the matter is Geisler was not returning us to pre-Reformation terminology. How is "predeterminately foreknowing" and "knowingly predetermining" a return to...anything? And how is "extreme Calvinist" vs. "moderate Calvinist" a return to anything prior to Calvin? No, I'm sorry, these are simply confusing redefinitions of historical terms.
Please be careful in personally attacking another brother in Christ. We may debate the issues, but we cannot insult each other.Which is why I never attacked Dr. Geisler in my book, but unfortunately, he did not return the favor in his appendix, which, I remind everyone who may be new to this particular situation, I remain convinced was written by a group of poorly trained undergraduate students, not by Norman Geisler.