A Letter to Nelson Price

Dear Dr. Price:
   Today I read the following from your pen in The Christian Index:

   A mass of people are gathered at a bus stop marked “Planet Earth.” Along comes the Celestial Bus marked “Destination Heaven.” It pulls up and stops. The driver, who is God, opens the door, and says, “All destined for heaven get on board.” A number do. A missionary couple who with zeal have served Christ all their lives start on and God says, “Step aside. You haven’t been chosen to ride this bus.” A couple of infants start on and God tells them to step aside. Persons who from youth have loved and ministered in Christ’s name are told to step aside. As the bus is about to depart and the door is closing God says to those not on board, “Catch the next bus.” “No,” they plead, “here comes the next bus and it is driven by Satan and marked ‘Destination Hell.’”
   “Sorry,” says God. “I didn’t choose to save you. Your love and commitment to Jesus doesn’t matter.”

   I also listened to your sermon from Woodstock, and heard you repeat this, in an even more objectionable form.
   Sir, I wish to do nothing more than to ask you to please, please, cease from using this grossly aberrant and dishonest “illustration.” I have seen many straw-men and caricatures of Reformed theology in my life, having written a number of books in defense of the Reformed position, and debated the issue as well, but I have honestly never seen one more erroneous, more completely without merit, one that so violates every canon of truth, than the one you have presented here. No Reformed theologian, no Calvinist, with the slightest knowledge of their faith, would ever own your story as their own. Not a one. It is a mockery at best, sir. Consider: The Bible teaches men are dead in sin, enemies of God, incapable of doing what is pleasing to Him. Hence, as Paul said, there are no “God-seekers,” and therefore, the very idea that there would be anyone who, outside of God’s efficacious grace, believe in Christ, is absurd on its face. Hence, there would be none who “want to get on the bus” outside of God’s grace in the first place. The entire foundation of the illustration involves a direct denial of the truth itself as presented by Reformed believers. We believe every single person who trusts and believes in Jesus Christ will be saved. We simply accept what Jesus Himself taught, that no one has that capacity outside of the work of the Holy Spirit drawing them to the Son (John 6:37-44).
   And so I ask you, sir, out of simple honesty, to cease misrepresenting the position you denounce. I would invite you to actually engage in meaningful study of the issue through the reading of original sources such as the writings of Spurgeon, the Abstract of Systematic Theology by Boyce, or other such works. I close with the confession of the London Baptists of long ago:

   AT a time appointed by and acceptable to God, those whom God has predestinated to life are effectually called by His Word and Spirit out of the state of death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ. Their minds are given spiritual enlightenment and, as those who are being saved, they begin to understand the things of God. God takes away their heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh. He renews their will, and by His almighty power He sets them to seek and follow that which is good, at the same time effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ. And to all these changes they come most freely, for they are made willing by divine grace.

James White