Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
What Scripture Does Not, Cannot, Dare Not, Never Will, Say (But Not What it DOES Say) Part 2
12/29/2004 - James WhiteAfter making the eisegetical comments noted in our previous entry, Hunt writes,
Read the entire text again carefully (John 6:35–65). Christ does not say that all whom the Father draws, but all whom He gives to the Son, will come to Him,and He will lose none of them whom the Father gives Him; they will all be raised at the last day. Of whom is Christ speaking? We have seen that the Bible teaches that in God ’s foreknowledge He knew who would believe and who would reject the gospel. The former are those whom the Father has given to the Son. There is nothing here about causing a select number to believe unto salvation and choosing not to save the rest of mankind.
What an amazing display of eisegesis! The text provides clear and compelling teaching on the fact that the giving of the Father results in the coming of all of those given to the Son (6:37). If Hunt were to draw his theology from the text (rather than from his traditions), he would have to conclude that the giving of the Father precedes, and hence determines, the coming of any individual to faith in Christ. But he does not derive his theology from the Scriptures in that way. So, he leaps out of John 6, imports an error that he has been corrected on numerous times (but refuses said correction), and as a result turns the text on its head and can conclude that there is nothing about election in the passage. This is tradition at its worst: its power is supreme, and unchallengeable. He continues,
Christ says that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. But He doesn’t say that everyone whom the Father draws actually comes to the Son and is saved. All Scripture testifies to a genuine desire on God’s part for all to be saved. Salvation has been procured by Christ and is genuinely offered to whosoever will believe—but not everyone believes. God’s sincere desire for all to be saved is stated so often and clearly by prophets, Christ, and His apostles that we dare not see a contrary interpretation in this passage.
Once again we encounter the "All Scripture" ploy. When you can't exegete the text, just claim that "all Scripture" teaches your tradition, and use this to beat the text into submission. Never mind that every single time you are dragged kicking and screaming into any particular text your interpretation is shown to be wrong, you don't need to worry about particulars like that. Just claim to have dozens and dozens and hundreds and hundreds of verses on your side and all will be well. Dave Hunt cannot show us why, in John 6:44, the one drawn is not the one raised up in every instance. He knows it. But he has chosen to hold to his tradition rather than the Word. It is a sad thing to observe, but he has now proven it in three different books (if you include the second edition as another book). For Hunt, his tradition is final, and hence cannot be questioned, on any basis. And that should sadden us all.
What Scripture Does Not, Cannot, Dare Not, Never Will, Say (But Not What it DOES Say)
12/28/2004 - James WhiteOne way you can detect unfounded tradition masquerading as "biblical beliefs" is to note the prevalence of "this passage can't be saying this" combined with little or no positive "the text clearly says this" followed by meaningful exegesis. When someone can only tell you what the Bible doesn't say, but can't tell you positively what it does, they have a tradition problem.
Dave Hunt's writings are filled to overflowing with the "this text doesn't say this, since the whole Bible says this" kind of eisegesis. Whenever you see Hunt saying, "the entire Bible tells us..." just take that phrase out in your mind and put in "my tradition tells me" and you'll be right on the point. What Love is This? (eds. 1&2) is the perfect handbook on how not to do either exegesis or historical research. A classic example is given on page 420 of the second edition (334 of the original):
Yet Christ clearly says it is those who actually come to Him whom He will raise up at the last day. Calvinists read into Christ’s words what isn’t there. He actually said:...
1. All that the Father giveth me [not all He draws] shall come to me;
2. and him that cometh to me [not everyone the Father draws] I will in no wise cast out.
3. And this is the Father’s will...that of all which he giveth me [not all whom He draws] I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
4. Every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him [not all who are drawn], may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up....
5. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him [all who come have been drawn —not all who are drawn come]: and I will raise him up at the last day [all who will be raised up have been drawn, but not all who have been drawn will be raised up].
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The Extent of the Atonement: the .5th Point of Calvinism
12/28/2004 - James WhiteLast week I replied, briefly, to Eric Svendsen's comments on particular redemption/limited atonement. My 1000 word response garnered a pretty quick response over three times that length that ended with, "I did not address every point in those articles since my intent for the blog entry was merely to clarify my own position, not take on Alpha and Omega Ministries : ) " Well, I'm hoping the smiley face communicates the fact that Eric really isn't "taking on" anyone, but that we are having a conversation about an important point, only via our blogs.
I do not know about Dr. Svendsen's schedule, but I begin teaching a Jan term class for GGBTS next week, so I know that the 1000 words-->3,300 words-->6,700 words-->12,000 words-->something certain verbose RC apologists would start to notice routine won't work for me. So I will keep this "blog sized." And there is another reason why I need to do so: I honestly have not encountered Dr. Svendsen's position before, at least not as he is defining it. Hence, while my position is a known element, I cannot assume anything regarding his. That means I run the danger of speculation, which is poison to any meaningful discussion.
In his last response Dr. Svendsen wrote the following: ...
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What Edit Job is This? Part...Who Remembers?
12/27/2004 - James WhiteSo I'm thinking about trying to find some way of wrapping up the What Love is This? series of blog entries, and so I ask myself, "Given that Hunt accused Calvinists of misusing the subjunctive in Debating Calvinism, I wonder if he inserted something relevant to that allegation in this new edition?" A quick search for "subjunctive" in the e-text of the book yields nothing. So I looked for something relevant to John 3:17, the text in which the issue came up. I ran across this section:
Like most other apologists for Calvinism, White avoids John 3:14-15 and doesn't even attempt to deal with the unequivocal statement in 3:17 "that the world through him might be saved "(to which his explanation of John 3:16 couldn't possibly apply). Obviously,this further comment by Christ explains the meaning of the entire section (John 3:14 -18) pertaining to His death on the Cross, making it very clear that God gave His Son for the salvation of the entire world. (p. 338)...
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Christmas Calvinists: A Brotherly Rejoinder
12/21/2004 - James WhiteI can't tell you how many of our channel regulars have been asking me, "So, are you going to respond to Eric Svendsen's comments on limited atonement?" Obviously, Dr. Svendsen's audience and my own overlap to a large degree, so when Eric makes comments about why he can't be a full 5-pt. Calvinist (and in the process makes comments about "extent" passages that are contradictory to those I have offered in such published works as The Potter's Freedom), it is natural that many would like to hear a "response." BTW, for those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Sproul's joke, a Christmas Calvinist is one that has "No L." Get it? No L. Noel. Ha ha ha.
The problem is, the blog article referred to does not really address my presentation regarding why I hold to particular redemption (limited atonement). I do not believe you start with "extent" passages: they are to be read in light of the purpose of the atonement, the union of the elect with Christ, the concept of mediation and intercession (and its results), and the nature of the New Covenant (i.e., the covenant in the blood of Christ). Nothing in the blog article I read touched upon these issues as they are central to my presentation of this great doctrine. And while I disagree with Eric on his comments regarding 2 Peter 2:1-2, 1 John 2:2 (TPF 274-277), and 1 Timothy 4:10, I don't see my presentation on the atonement being addressed. So allow me to note just two things briefly in response. ...
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Serious Exegesis of John 10 (Final Installment)
12/21/2004 - James WhiteIn examining the "serious exegesis" offered by Osborne in Grace Unlimted of key texts in John we have noted that when Arminians seek to interact with such strong statements of God's sovereignty they impress an external grid down upon the text that limits its voice and mutes its testimony. We have seen Osborne skim across the top of the text, lightly touching it, but surely not even attempting to make it appear that he is deriving his theology and conclusions from it. One final example will have to suffice, as we have many other things to be addressing.
An even semi-unbiased reading of John's Gospel reveals a powerful Savior, the good Shepherd, He who is one with the Father in the salvation of His people. He will never cast out those who come to Him (and all that are given Him by the Father savingly come). His sheep hear His voice, He gives eternal life to them, they are safe in His hand, and in the Father's hand. Over and over again we have the power of the Savior, the perfection of His Work.
This comes out most especially in John 10. But what does "serious Arminian exegesis" do with this section? Do we finally see the text put in the position of primacy, so that the first question is, "What does the text here teach" rather than "How can we get around this text and maintain our libertarianism?"? Let's find out: ...
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TBC Damage Control Continues: But No Apologies
12/21/2004 - James WhiteIs it really that hard to say, "Wow, man, how did that get in there? That paragraph is just so wrong. Dave had not been feeling well that night, and, wow, we apologize, retract, and in general do penance for having pawned such tripe off on the Christian community as a whole." But no, evidently, the powers that be at TBC feel any admission of error is death to everything they've ever done, so, the excuses just keep flowing.
As we have documented, when we challenged Hunt on what we have now officially identified as the "Prophetic Redacted Hebrew of Acts 15 Paragraph," TBC sent out in e-mail a listing of sources (none of which, in fact, were at all relevant to the wild claims of said paragraph) that they had lifted directly from a Yahwist cult website. They did so without linking to the page or acknowledging their "borrowing" of the list. So, when appraised that the rest of us have browsers and can type "www.google.com," TBC has had to come up with an explanation of their actions. Allow me to summarize. Dave is busy. He told us to find something. He didn't actually USE those sources, we just sorta went looking. We didn't cite them because, well, they are cultists anyway. We really don't approve of everyone on the list, either. But, hey, it was a start. ...
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A Bit More on Serious Arminian Exegesis
12/19/2004 - James WhiteI simply could not resist responding to some more of the "serious Arminian exegesis" offered by Osborne in the Pinnock edited work, Grace Unlimited (BHP, 1975). Right after the section on John 6 comes a section on John 10:14, 14-18, 27-30. One is once again impressed with the fact that Arminian "exegesis" skims over the top of the text, spending the vast majority of its time on protecting its core philosophical commitment to libertarianism (and I emphasize once again, I believe in libertarianism: God has libertarian freedom, and He uses it to free dead slaves, but solely on the basis of His free grace, never on the basis of the actions or merits of those thusly redeemed---which is NOT the libertarianism these Arminians are defending/promoting). For example, Jesus' clear differentiation between His sheep and the unbelieving Jews who were not His sheep is dismissed without the slightest appeal to the text itself. Jesus established the clear parameters and order in such passages as John 8:43 and 47: "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word."..."He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God." The Arminian understanding is not "because you cannot hear My word" but because "you choose not to hear my Word." (Please note: there is no question that these men were choosing not to hear Christ's Word: their wills were actively opposed to the truth. The point is that they could do no other because they were enslaved to sin). The Arminian simply refuses to allow for the compatibility of God's sovereignty and man's acting as a responsible creature within the creaturely realm. When faced with Jesus' bald statement to the Jews that He would lay down His life for His sheep, but that they were not of His sheep, Osborne opines, ...
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TBC's "Source" on Scholarship Anti-Trinitarian
12/19/2004 - James WhiteThe source The Berean Call utilized to attempt substantiation of the wild claims about a Hebrew original of Acts 13:48 that is meant to cast doubt upon the actual translation of the passage (all in the service of anti-Calvinism) turns out to be anti-Trinitarian as well. Their statement of faith includes this line: "The Holy Spirit is likened to the wind, John 3:8; Acts 10:45, a dynamic, invisible force and is not a person. Therefore, we find that the Trinity doctrine is not scriptural but is from paganism." Gives new meaning to the old saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Let's "borrow" from the anti-Trinitarians, as long as it aids us in our blasting away wildly at "Calvinism."
Serious Arminian Exegesis of Calvinist Prooftexts (Second Half)
12/18/2004 - James WhiteThe irony found in these exegetical notes is that the actual wording of the text is always subjugated by the author to an outside interpretational grid that itself would have to be derived from exegesis of other passages, etc. Osborne begins by stating "While there is some truth to the above statements, they for the most part neglect John's other emphasis, man's responsibility." First, this assumes a particular, narrow view of "man's responsibility" that rejects, a priori, the concept of compatibilism and the reality that God can hold men accountable for their actions while remaining sovereign and actively in control of human events (Gen. 50:20, Acts 4:27-28). But this is not strictly exegesis: it is theology. Secondly, one must establish Osborne's particular understanding of "man's responsibility" as being actually present in John's writings in the fashion he assumes it is.
Next Osborne claims, "Verses 37-40 are based upon verse 35, where we see that eternal life is dependent on coming and believing. Moreover, the present tenses of the participles indicate it does not speak about a crisis faith-decision but rather about persevering in those two states." Why are verses 37-40 based upon verse 35, and not verse 36? Isn't verse 36, with its adversative alla and its introduction of unbelief on the part of the audience a clear dialogue direction marker? How can this be overlooked? Is not the Lord explaining the giving of a particular people to the Son in light of His startling and challenging statement that these men, though they have come across the lake "seeking" Him, are in fact, not believers? There is no question, of course, that eternal life is the possession of those who are coming and believing, and that both participles are indeed expressing to us the on-going nature of this kind of saving faith, a point I have often made. But upon what basis do we pass over the fact that Jesus is explaining their unbelief in the light of His miracles and words? I suggest it is the over-arching necessity of Arminian theology, resulting in eisegesis rather than exegesis. Likewise, the citation that follows concerning the guilt of those who do not believe is quite true, but likewise based upon the assumption that if one believes in divine sovereignty one does not, at the very same time, believe in human responsibility, a concept unwarranted on any grounds, and surely one not derived from this passage. The unbelievers are accountable: but this does not in any way change the meaning of the text at hand. ...
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Serious Arminian Exegesis of Calvinist Prooftexts (First Half)
12/18/2004 - James WhiteThis morning I was noting the words of a "I'm such a soft and warm and ecumenical and Catholic Calvinist that I believe in baptismal regeneration and temporary justification and loss of true salvation" attempting to dig himself out of yet another hole he dug himself into by going way beyond the bounds in trying to take shots at yours truly. He was reduced to having to say, "It simply is not the case that only Calvinists are capable of doing serious exegesis of biblical passages, including disputed texts such as John 6 and Romans 9." Like anyone has ever claimed such a thing to begin with, of course. I have often lamented the unwillingness of non-Reformed evangelicals (since "Arminian" seems such a bad word these days) to do exegesis, or even allow for the discussion of the text on that level (Hunt, Bryson, etc.), and have demonstrated this by playing sermons by leading non-Reformed evangelicals, but as anyone can see, that's a far cry from saying they are not capable of the act of exegesis. I have often said that they are, because they use sound hermeneutics when addressing, say, the Deity of Christ. But they are unwilling to test their traditions by those same exegetical parameters when it comes to the sovereign freedom of God to save a people in Christ Jesus.
So this morning we were directed to an example of "serious Arminian exegesis of Calvinist prooftexts." Since this particular writer is fond of proclaiming my own incompentence in exegesis, I was excited to get the chance to learn what "serious Arminian" exegesis looks like. So we were referred to the 1975 Bethany House production, edited by Clark Pinnock (he hadn't completely melted down at this point, but was on his way) titled Grace Unlimited, and to the words of Grant Osborne on pp. 167-189. So I pulled this volume down off the shelf and, since the discussion had included reference to John 6, and I am outlining a book proposal of my own on the subject at the moment, I turned to the section on John 6:35-40, 44-45, 64-65, found on pp. 170-171.
Now, I first observe that it seems a bit unfair to call 606 words a representative sample of "exegesis" to begin with. When I provided a very brief outline of the exegesis of the passage in response to Geisler in The Potter's Freedom I wrote over five times that amount. But, this is what we were referred to. Here is the section, en toto ...
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The Melt Down of The Berean Call
12/17/2004 - James WhiteIt was simply out of place. When I ran into the "Acts 1-15 was written in Hebrew" paragraph in the second edition of What Love is This? it just seemed strange. And now I'm starting to figure out why.
It is not that Hunt hadn't already demonstrated a very sad willingness to not only pontificate upon topics he does not understand (proclaiming the NWT's horrific rendering of Acts 13:48 the "best" translation when he admits he cannot read a word of Greek anyway) but to utilize the worst forms of argumentation available (scatter-gun arguments that form no coherent whole, ignoring syntax, grammar, or not even understanding the actual point being made in the source he's using) and, when refuted, to refuse to honestly interact with his own error. The fact that his tradition, in his mind, is equated with the Word of God, and that he refuses to see the role tradition plays in his thinking, results in the contorted reasoning and dogged refusal to face facts that marks his crusade against Calvinism, and, sadly, casts a very long shadow across the entirety of his work. But there was just something out of place about this wacky paragraph. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Hunt had never given credence to anything even remotely like the wild-eyed theory inherent in this paragraph. So what happened?
Once I began discussing this paragraph, I was contacted by folks "in the know." Seems Hunt's editor on this new edition of WLIT? is big into some form of Messianic Judaism and, most importantly, thinks the Synoptics and other portions of the New Testament were written in Hebrew originally. Hence the origin of this paragraph. In a sense, it is obvious Hunt is not really responsible for it. He hasn't a clue what is involved in the claims being made, nor how those claims are so utterly incongruous to his entire theological system expressed in the body of his writings over the years. But, at the very same time, the name on the front of the book is "Dave Hunt," and it is sadly indicative of his priorities that finding a way around repeated refutation is more important to him than carefully handling the Word of God. ...
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Berean Call Does Damage Control
12/17/2004 - James WhiteMore on this later this evening, I hope, but the Berean Call has started to send out an e-mail to those asking for the sources for Hunt's outrageous "redacted Hebrew text prophecied by the Dead Sea Scrolls which just happens, when translated by unnamed scholars, to not teach Calvinism" stuff. As I started looking over the list I immediately recognized its fringe nature, but then someone in channel (johnMark, followed, humorously, about sixty seconds later, by crewbear) found out that in fact the Berean Call was simply hi-jacking, without even providing a link or reference, the list, en toto, from a fringe Yahwist group's website! Here is the website. Scroll to the bottom for the list, which TBC has now sent out to at least two people who have inquired of them for the sources Hunt used. Note as well that there isn't a word here about how one can see this alleged Hebrew text of Acts, and, of course, not a word about the Dead Sea Scrolls. And, all the Eusebius citations are about a Hebrew version of Matthew. The evidence continues to pile up, and unless someone at TBC wakes up and stops the madness and says, "Ok, Ok, we blew it" and retracts this silliness, the damage will continue.
Follow Up From Below
12/13/2004 - James WhiteOK, some of you are going, "Wow, cut Dave a break. You are harder on him than the Muslims." Yes, I am. See, I hold a Christian apologist, who is invited into the pulpits of churches all across the world, to a completely different standard than I do a Muslim apologist. I expect a Muslim apologist to be...a Muslim! I expect him to act in accordance with his worldview. But I have listened to Dave Hunt "go after" all sorts of folks for minor infractions of his dispensationalist theology without the slightest meaningful basis for doing so (outside of simply not following his own traditions) many times over the years. And yet here we have him undermining the very foundations of the Scriptures and for what reason? The fact is you could place Acts 13:48 along with John 3:16 and Romans 9:16 and a few other verses in Greek in front of Dave Hunt and he would not, by his own confession, be able to tell them apart, let alone find a periphrastic construction with an imperfect form of eivmi, and the perfect passive participle of ta,ssw. Dave Hunt ignored the advice of many of his peers and committed himself to the path he now doggedly pursues to the detriment of everything he's ever taught on the reliability and inspiration of the Scriptures, and for what reason? All I can see is a man unwilling to admit his errors, desperate to find any way at all to get around passages that, when accurately exegeted, teach contrary to his highest authority: his traditions. And isn't it odd...most in the apologetics community have recognized the propriety of exposing Richard Mouw's flawed and very one-sided understanding of Mormonism, but if Dave Hunt says the NWT's rendering of Acts 13:48 is "the best" over against all the committee-translated English versions, then drops that without a word of apology, and replaces that gross error with an even bigger one, one that requires us to follow unnamed scholars from unnamed and unreferenced sources in "redacting" the text of Acts back to a mythical Hebrew original that, when translated by these same unnamed scholars just happens to be quite different than the Greek of the canonical gospel of Acts---well, let's cut the guy a break since 1) he's done so much good stuff, and 2) this is just a book about Calvinism anyway!
Quick Addition: I was just forwarded the URL for the "translation" Hunt added to his Acts 13:48 section as well, the "Nazarene Translation 2000." Here it is. Once again one is left either fuming, or chuckling, at Hunt's work. This is actually the "21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures" not the "Nazarene Translation 2000." In fact, the proper name is the Nazarene Commentary 2000, a far cry from translation. And the level of scholarship is clearly indicated by clicking on the footnote attached to its odd translation. It reads, "Disposed: Or, ordained, predestined, marked out, appointed, destined. The Greek is TETAGMENOI [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #5021, arrange in an orderly manner, assign, dispose to a certain position]. It is not the individuals who are so disposed but the type of Life the Church will receive." Ah, Strong's. There we go. Any recognition of the periphrastic construction? Nope, of course not. [Insert "sigh" here]. Redacted mythical Hebrew texts prophecied by the Dead Sea Scrolls and the transformation of a Nazarene Commentary based upon Strong's into a translation. There ya go, folks. Gail Riplinger has moved to Oregon.
What An Edit Job is This? Amazing Statements
12/12/2004 - James WhiteThere are no footnotes attached. No names given. But a paragraph has been added into the middle of Dave Hunt's desperate attempt to escape Acts 13:48 that, when you consider what it says, is one of the most amazing examples of "destroy the foundations of your entire life's work just because you detest the freedom of God that is proclaimed in 'Calvinism'" I've ever seen. When I read it I had to sit back and catch my breath. Yes, the following paragraph appears in the second edition of WLIT?
The Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a translation. Some scholars claim that going back to a "redacted Hebrew" version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts 13:48 more like "as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved." Furthermore, even if "ordained" were the correct meaning, these Greeks still would have had to believe the gospel and accept Christ by an act of their own faith and will, as all of Scripture testifies (p. 264)
Now, I would like to ask anyone who has a means of contacting Dave Hunt to ask him to please, please document his claims here. The DSS, at least as scholars define them, were written before Acts: hence, they would have to discuss the authorship of Acts prophetically to be relevant. So, where do the DSS address the authorship of Acts? Secondly, what early church writers? How about a reference, a footnote perhaps? I am not going to respond to this paragraph as yet, but I have already invested a few hours collecting data, and am working on more. But it is beyond amazing that unnamed "scholars" could produce a "redacted Hebrew" version that gives, amazingly enough, a rendering consistent with Dave Hunt's traditions! Who are these scholars? What is their rendering in Hebrew? Has anyone seen this original Hebrew? And does it follow that we can do this with all of Acts 1-15, too, since the canonical Acts in Greek is obviously not the inspired version? What is the difference between Hunt's "redacted Hebrew" and Rome's "Aramaic original" of Matthew 16:18? Since when did Dave Hunt embrace redaction criticism? And finally, every Calvinist on the planet believes these Greeks believed with their wills and accepted Christ, which only goes to show you that Dave Hunt continues in willful ignorance of even the system he seeks to undermine.
Consider well how far Dave Hunt and The Berean Call has been willing to go here. The very perspecuity and clarity of the Word of God itself is sacrificed upon the altar of his wild-eyed fanatical attack upon the sovereignty of God's grace in salvation. He stands firmly with Rome in his view of grace and man's will, and firmly against the Reformation on the topic, and evidently, there is no price too high to pay to pursue the "cause" of "anti-Calvinism," even that of turning the Dead Sea Scrolls into prophetic devices that address the authorship of Acts. This kind of unsubstantiated rhetoric is simply reprehensible, and I call upon all who have contact with Mr. Hunt to 1) demand a full accounting of these claims, or 2) demand a full retraction of such claims with acknowledgement and appropriate apology. I would encourage those who are concerned about such wild claims and how they undermine the integrity of the Bible to consult Hunt's website for his schedule and, if possible, ask him, point blank, in the audience Q&A sessions or after speaking engagements, to back up his claims with documentation. What find in the Dead Sea Scrolls supports his contention? Which early Church fathers said the first fifteen chapters of Acts were written in Hebrew? Where can we see this Hebrew version? Has any manuscript supporting such a version ever been found? Who are these "scholars" who have provided this alleged word-for-word rendering? Why are they not cited? Does not his assertion mean the Greek of Acts 1-15 is errant and hence uninspired? These are the questions Hunt must now answer. As far as I can see, the next public speaking engagement (having missed two presentations in Calvary Chapels just today) is at the Berean Calvary Chapel in Kirkville, NY, Pastor Frank Thomas, 1/16/2005. I hope Pastor Thomas will ask Hunt about his utilization of never-before-seen Hebrew "redactions" of the book of Acts. Surely, someone needs to hold Hunt accountable for this kind of irresponsible writing.
What An Edit Job Is This? Part V
12/11/2004 - James WhiteI have already documented the problems with the first attempt Dave Hunt made to remove the testimony of Acts 13:48 in my open letter to him. Here's the specific section of that work. It should be noted I replied to each of the points Hunt offered in the original edition of WLIT? And though Hunt failed to even attempt to respond to the refutation of his materials, he surely dropped his "best" translation suggestion like a hot potato when he learned the Jehovah's Witnesses had beaten him to that "best" translation. This can be seen in his attempts to respond to Acts 13:48 in Debating Calvinism. Ironically, Hunt presents the same information in slightly different forms twice in the book, first on pages 103-104, then again on pages 369-370. He has dropped the "best translation" of the NWT (why? What made it not the best any longer? Hunt refuses to say). Likewise, no reference is made to the Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon, nor is any explanation ever offered by Hunt in response to these facts. They are simply passed over in silence. However, the same error of usage is repeated: "Yet none of the seven other usages of tasso in the New Testament connotates a divine decree from eternity past. Had that been what Luke meant, he would have used prooridzo (predestinated)" (p. 103). Despite being corrected here, Hunt doggedly perseveres in his error. Only one of the other seven usages is parallel in form at all to Acts 13:48 (Romans 13:1, where God establishes or ordains authorities), and even then it differs in one important aspect (present form of eimi vs. the imperfect, impacting the tense meaning of the periphrastic). Quite simply, noting that tasso has a semantic range of meaning, but only in Acts 13:48 is it used in such a fashion as to refer to the reality of God's eternal decree, is a linguistic and logical non sequitur. When John uses the imperfect of eimi to refer to Christ's timeless existence before the beginning in John 1:1, does that have to be the predominate usage of the imperfect of eimi for it to be true in that unique context? The application of Hunt's made up rules of interpretation based upon his self profession, "I do not read Greek. It might as well be Chinese" would turn the text of the New Testament to mush.
Secondly, how Hunt can opine, with a straight face, to know what Luke would have written in Greek had he meant God ordained men to eternal life is simply beyond the bounds of what can be taken seriously. Dave Hunt has no earthly idea what Luke's usage of the language would be, nor his reasons for choosing the terms he did. For someone who had already been shown to have adopted (we assume in ignorance) the translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses while missing the appearance of a definition in a Greek lexicon he was ostensibly citing (who then drops those claims without apology or retraction) while at the same time offering this kind of insight into what terms Luke would have used is quite simply insulting to the reader. ...
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What An Edit Job is This? Part IV
12/08/2004 - James WhiteOne of the passages that has received a rather wide range of treatment from Mr. Hunt in his anti-Calvinistic crusade is Acts 13:48. The reason is clear to see. A quick review of the leading committee-led translations of the Bible in the English language presents a striking consistency in rendering this verse's last clause:
|KJV||and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.|
|ASV||and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.|
|ESV||and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.|
|NASB||and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.|
|NET||and all who had been appointed for eternal life believed.|
|NIV||and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.|
|NKJV||And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.|
|NLT||and all who were appointed to eternal life became believers.|
|NRSV||and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers.|
|HCSB||And all who had been appointed to eternal life believed|
There is a reason for the consistency of these translations, a reason that is simply beyond Dave Hunt's ability to address. And this raises one of the major reasons we have replied to Mr. Hunt: when challenged on issues of translation, grammar, and the like, he cries out that we are elitists, and that the gospel is simple enough to be understood by non-specialists. But if that is true, why does he make reference to the Greek term ta,ssw (tassw) here, and pretend to tell us what it means, or how it can be used? One cannot have one's cake and eat it to, as the saying goes. So if Mr. Hunt is going to engage the subject, then should he not be held accountable for making errors in relationship to it? I believe so.
Hunt has done all he can to avoid the meaning of this text by seeking to inculcate in the minds of his readers a distrust of the passages clarity. He has done so by 1) showing his ignorance of the Greek language; 2) ransacking commentaries to find anyone who would like him seek to avoid the meaning of the text (there are plenty of those folks), and 3) using the oldest cult trick in the book, the "find a translation done by a single person that is so utterly obscure no one will ever track it down" means of avoiding the text. Then realize how often Hunt has had to re-work his attempted response to Acts 13:48, and you get a good idea of just how strong this passage is in refuting the synergistic viewpoint Hunt promotes.
In our next installment in this series we will review Acts 13:48: Battle Plan #1 from Dave Hunt and then compare that with his "revisions" over time.
Add This Note to the Hunt Discussion
12/07/2004 - Rich PierceI forgot to mention something very important earlier when documenting the disappearance of 1 John 5:1 from the new edition of What Love is This? I passed by, improperly, the response that Hunt had initially offered. I recall a meeting in which Hunt claimed he had "replied" to my documentation of his error on 1 John 5:1. But a quick review of Debating Calvinism reveals what Dave thinks can qualify as a response. And since this will come up again when we look at his third attempt at trying to get around Acts 13:48, I wanted to mention it. First, Hunt tells us that "the verse could be taken either way" (p. 114). Later he says "I won't object. The verse can be taken both ways....Nor do I need this verse, for there are many others that declare in language that cannot be reversed that faith precedes regeneration" (p. 211). Hunt says it can be taken "both ways," but, he does not even try to substantiate this claim. If the grammatical and syntactical information provided is true, then it cannot be taken "either way." If Hunt wishes to be taken seriously, he has to realize that you have to provide a counter-argument to substantiate such a claim, yet, he does not even try to do so. Note that Hunt does not mind attempting to make it look as if such passages are confusing or difficult to interpret (while all of his "dozens" or even "hundreds" of passages are, of course, so clear that he does not even have to bother with exegeting them!) all in the service of his human tradition! So his first argument it, "verse X which Calvinists use is confusing and capable of a different meaning."
Argument number two is always the same. "This verse cannot mean what the Calvinist says because of this long list of verses over here...that I will not bother to exegete, but I'll just list them anyway." This argument is so repetitive in Hunt's writings that it appears on almost every page. It came up in our radio discussion last week. While Hunt was often citing other sources, my presentations were almost all completely focused upon exegeting the key passages. In his response, Hunt claimed he "cited Scripture" far more often than I did. Well, if you think that providing lists of Bible references is the same as offering exegesis of the text, I guess that's true. Later Hunt made the claim that I have a limited number of verses that I just repeat over and over again. Yet, when you offer exegesis and get such in-depth responses as, "Oh, well, I don't need that verse anyway, I've got all these over here," you can see why you have to keep going back over basic issues. If Hunt would even make an attempt to engage the text, we might be able to get somewhere, but that's the one thing he avoids at all costs (including the cost involved with clearly, obviously avoiding the public debate challenge that he knows I have offered to him repeatedly). Now, of course, as I pointed out in DC, every time I invested some of my limited words to inspect some of his "lists" of verses, I demonstrated that his long lists of verses carry no weight. But all that resulted in was a new list of verses. Outside of live interaction in debate, you can keep dodging the issue that way forever.
What An Edit Job is This? Part III
12/06/2004 - Rich PierceI have often spoken of Dave Hunt's utter entrapment in the hold of tradition. "Blinded By Tradition" is a phrase that has appeared numerous times over the past couple of years. For Dave, his tradition = the Word of God, and hence it cannot be questioned. And the lenses are so thick that Hunt honestly sees on a page of text only what he wants to see, hears only what he wants to hear.
Hunt's recent crusade against Reformed theology bears this out repeatedly. A new example has been provided by Hunt in reference to his attempt to give the most distorted, unfair, evil presentation of John Calvin he can. In Debating Calvinism Hunt had attempted to mis-identify Augustine as a "Roman Catholic" (a term that would have made no sense to him at all) by giving a grossly shallow, inaccurate representation of his view of authority. Those who encounter Roman Catholic apologists and engage them with regularity are very accustomed to seeing Augustine's words against the Manichaens ripped from their context and forced to say something that, in light of Augustine's full orbed teaching, they should never be forced to say. So it is truly sad to see Hunt giving "aid and comfort to the enemy" in his crusade to turn Augustine into a Roman Catholic. On page 244 I wrote,
- What is worse is the use of a citation from Augustine that even Calvin refuted, but that is constantly used in Roman Catholic apologetic works to this day. Hunt writes:
Augustine was one of the first to place the authority of tradition on a level with the Bible. Embracing apostolic succession from Peter as one of the marks of the true church, he declared, "I should not believe the gospel unless I were moved to do so by the authority of the Catholic Church..."
Calvin refuted just this very passage in the Institutes [footnote: Institutes I:VII:3] and any fair reading of Augustine's own writings refutes this misrepresentation by Hunt. [Footnote: For a scholarly discussion of how Calvin refuted this misue of Augustine, see David T. King, Holy Scripture, I:80-81, and Heiko Oberman, "Quo Vadis? Tradition from Irenaeus to Humani Generis," Scottish Journal of Theology, 16 (1963): 234-35)] Anyone familiar with the real Augustine realizes Hunt has created a caricature that has little resemblance to the historical reality.
Notice I provided two scholarly sources and a direct reference to Calvin's own discussion of the passage. For those who do not have quick access to Calvin, here are his words: ...
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What An Edit Job Is This? Part Deux
12/06/2004 - Rich PierceOne of the first errors many noted in Hunt's work was his utter misrepresentation of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Since the books original appearance numerous writers, myself included, have pointed out Hunt's error, but he has remained doggedly unwilling to admit what is so obvious to any unbiased observer. In my original open letter to him I wrote:
- A Glowing Example: Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the Atonement
On page 19 of your book, Dave, you make the assertion that Charles Spurgeon "unequivocally" denied particular redemption (limited atonement). Every single Calvinist who has done any meaningful reading in Spurgeon will be forced to immediately dismiss you as a very poor researcher on the basis of this statement. Here I provide the quote as you gave it, placing the materials you did not include in bold (I thank Tom Ascol for first noting this and rushing me the context). Folks who wonder if you are being fair to Augustine or Calvin should note your willingness to be completely and utterly inaccurate in your representation of someone as recent as Spurgeon:
I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ's finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker's law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work.
Anyone familiar with Spurgeon knows what he means by "the intent of the Divine purpose" here (he means what all us Calvinists mean: it was God's intention to save the elect in the atonement). But the rest of the section you quoted from makes it crystal clear:
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Overheard in Moscow, Idaho...
12/06/2004 - Rich PierceSometime last week I noted the odd, rather disconnected criticism offered by Peter Leithart of my book, The God Who Justifies. At the same time I noted that the criticism comes out of the blue; it makes no attempt to establish a context, etc. As such, I simply said, "We will see what develops." I had started to write a response, but wanted to wait to see if anything else developed (I do try, once in a while, to resist the "rush, rush, rush" mind-set that is prompted by our ever faster computers and ever faster phones and ever faster lifestyle: it took me a long time to write the book: I can wait a while to respond to a singularly bland and less than compelling criticism of the work). Well, I guess I didn't bow properly toward Moscow, Idaho or something. Anymore, you don't really have to do anything to set TGE off (which is more than a little troubling). In the midst of a truly rambling and overly long post, I encountered this:
- Yet in the course of only a few weeks a number of attacks on those Outside the
I guess if you say, "Does anyone really know what Leithart is saying" you are offering a "blunt insult" and you are, of course, "intellectually-fringe" (and do I detect some accusation of hyper-Calvinism as well?) I don't know, but I really don't get the feeling anything I would say in response to anything Leithart would say would get an overly fair review at Societas Christiana. :-) Hey TGE, maybe you should keep the promises you have made repeatedly and remove yourself from a realm that obviously causes you no end of discomfort? It's the Christmas season! Go sing the Messiah! Throw a snowball for me (no snowballs in Phoenix)! Make a snowman and name him something in Latin. Ask Doug Wilson how you can be so Calvinistic your molars hurt. Something! Just try to drop your blood pressure a bit, will ya?
What An Edit Job is This?
12/06/2004 - James WhiteThis past weekend I was again at the Covenant of Grace Church in St. Charles, Missouri (I give all that info so that if any of Dave Hunt's folks want to get the tapes, they can order them!). Friday night and all day Saturday I spoke on the topic of Debating Calvinism. I used the recording of the Chuck Crismier show from 12/1 as my outline (see the link below). I played it, and then stopped it and commented on aspects of what was said by Mr. Hunt, but also by Mr. Crismier. The folks seemed to enjoy the format.
During the presentation I mentioned something about Hunt's book with Loyal Publishing, What Love is This? In case you haven't kept up with things, Loyal was purchased by Multnomah, and Multnomah did not re-print What Love is This? Hunt indicated they were looking for a secular publisher to print the book so that they could not be "intimidated by Calvinists." Well, now the Berean Call itself is putting out a new, second edition of What Love is This? I had not yet seen the new edition, and thankfully, one of those in attendance had a copy with him that he gave to me (I traded him a copy of Scripture Alone and Letters to a Mormon Elder for it!). As portions of the radio discussion would play, I thumbed through the new edition, checking particular passages that I had criticized, areas where I had documented direct and clear error on Hunt's part. One of the first was in reference to 1 John 5:1. On page 315 of the original edition (please note that the new edition has been nicely re-typeset, is much more readable, is in hardback, and has one of the nicest slip covers I've ever seen: kudos to whoever did the design work: too bad it is used on such material, to be honest) Hunt provided the following:
That this dogma is not produced by biblical exegesis but is necessitated by the other points in TULIP is clear. Nowhere does the Bible state that regeneration (i.e.,the new birth,being born again, given eternal life, salvation) precedes faith, but there are scores of scriptures that tell us that faith comes first:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved....(Mark 16:16)
To them gave he power to become [through the new birth ] the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12)
He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.(John 6:47)
...he that believeth in me,though he were dead,yet shall he live....(John 11:25)
…that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,and thou shalt be saved....(Acts 16:31)
...and many of the Corinthians hearing believed,and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)
...the gospel of Christ...is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth....(Romans 1:16)
That if thou shalt...believe in thine heart...thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
It pleased God...to save them that believe.(1 Corinthians 1:21)
...them that believe to the saving of the soul.(Hebrews 10:39)
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is [as a result of believing] born of God....(1 John 5:1)
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Here are the Links to the Program with Dave Hunt
12/02/2004 - James WhiteStream the program | Save to disk (click on "save")
Well, Alrighty Then
12/01/2004 - James WhiteThat was interesting! Second time I've been on a national radio broadcast where the host spent more time debating me than my opponent did. :-) The host was more Arminian than Dave Hunt was, actually, so the lead ins and the questions presented were rather, uh, less than fair to the Reformed side. But that's OK, I appreciated the fact that the host, an attorney, at least recognized the need to have real conversation, and I can only hope for more of that. I challenged Hunt to a live debate once again, and he remains unwilling to do it, and even said I was lying to say he had ever agreed. I guess he doesn't remember standing at his table at the PFO Conference in St. Louis and talking to me about it. I, however, do. :-) I'll post the link here when the archive is up so those of you who missed it can catch it. I may play some clips on the DL tomorrow.
Headed to St. Louis Friday!
12/01/2004 - James WhiteVan Lees and the fine folks at Covenant of Grace Church are having me in for a three day seminar. Friday night and Saturday I will be dealing with Debating Calvinism and Dave Hunt's attacks upon the Reformed faith and why evangelicals, and especially folks from the Calvary Chapel side of things, seem to embrace his less-than-accurate representations. On Sunday morning I will be speaking in the morning service on the Synoptic issue and how we need to allow the gospels to speak in harmony rather than in dissonance. This will be my third time to Covenant of Grace Church, and I can truly say Van Lees and his folks have come to have a special place in my heart, and I always feel "at home" while I'm there.