Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
A Brief Corrective to Dr. Steve Lemke
03/03/2012 - James WhiteGreetings from somewhere between Quizno's and gate B-14. On my way to minister to the saints in Hilo and Honolulu (and hoping to be ministered to as well!). Infamous blogger and channel rat "johnMark" informed me that Steve Lemke of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (and one of those who participated in the famed "John 3:16 Conference" of a few years ago) had made reference to me in a comment found here. Lemke is attempting to substantiate the concept of "belief against the will" as part of Reformed theology. The person to whom he is responding briefly points out Lemke's error in his follow up comment, which says, "Actually they don’t because there is the expectation of God changing the person’s heart. You do not see people forced to believe as they kick and scream in protest." Exactly. Lemke quotes me as follows:
(3) JAMES WHITE — “The doctrine of ‘irresistible grace’ . . . is simply the belief that when God chooses to move in the lives of His elect and bring them from spiritual death to spiritual life, no power in heaven or on earth can stop Him from so doing. . . . It is simply the confession that when God chooses to raise His people to spiritual life, He does so without the fulfillment of any conditions on the part of the sinner. Just as Christ had the power and authority to raise Lazarus to life without obtaining his ‘permission’ to do so, He is able to raise His elect to spiritual life with just as certain a result.”
Note: “no power on earth can stop Him,” “without obtaining his ‘permission,’” “just as certain a result”
First, I am honored to be noted by Dr. Lemke, though, it does strike me as a little strange that he would cite me, since one of his conference co-patriots falsely identified me as a "hyper-Calvinist." Hopefully, Lemke realizes that this identification was, and remains, false. In any case, what Dr. Lemke does not seem to understand about Reformed theology is that God ordains the ends and the means. The ends is the salvation of God's elect. His decree renders their salvation a certainty. But what he seems to miss, as noted by the comment offered in response to his own, is that just as God's grace is irresistible, so the result of that grace (regeneration, the imparting of a heart of flesh after taking out the heart of stone, etc.,) is just as certain. God changes the heart so that my act of faith toward Jesus Christ is the natural result of my changed nature. I am a new creature, not because the old rebel decided to become something other, but because of the resurrection power of God by the Spirit. The very idea of someone kicking and screaming seems a bit ironic, in light of the Reformed insistence upon the deadness of man in sin. Surely the heart of stone contains no desire to be changed, but ignoring the impartation of resurrection life as the means by which a radical change in the will of the elect is effected again presents a fundamentally distorted view of the position Dr. Lemke, and his compatriots, seek to deny.