Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Mercy in Romans 9 and One Last Response to "Mr. Holding"
03/29/2005 - James WhiteI confess I would rather not write this, solely because I know that it is somewhat like throwing a match into a gas can, but I said I would speak to the issue of the meaning of mercy in the Scripture in response to Mr. Holding's very odd, way-out-of-center, and simply errant assertions on the subject. And so I shall, as briefly as possible, however, for the traveling, debating, and writing schedule looms ever larger in front of me.
Determining lexical meanings of terms used in Scripture is about as foundational a skill as one can have in handling the Word of God, and yet there are no end to the errors one will find in print and, even more so, on the Internet, relating to the subject. The "look at the first use of the term in the Bible and follow that meaning throughout" error is quite common; we have documented men like Dave Hunt doing the "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Waltz" where it is assumed a particular English word, such as "whosoever," can be read backwards into both Hebrew and Greek. The range of such errors is wide indeed.
The fact of the matter is there are often a number of issues that enter into making sure we are accurately defining the lexical meaning of a term. I would recommend to the reader Moises Silva's work, Biblical Words and Their Meaning (I provide a link to Amazon mainly for bibliographical information, not to push Amazon). I will only summarize a few of the relevant points found in such modern studies as they relate particularly to the claims of Holding regarding Romans 9. ...
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Sola Scriptura and the False Accusation of "Nuda Scriptura"
03/28/2005 - James WhiteMr. Enloe has asserted on his blog that I do not hold to a Reformational understanding of sola scriptura. I believe him to be in error, of course, and have asked for examples to substantiate his position. I have spent some time studying the subject, and, in fact, defending the Reformational viewpoint, over the years, so it would be very helpful to get something concrete to back up such assertions. But it is just here that, since the "split" with Mr. Enloe, we encounter the problem: when I ask for specifics on exegetical issues, I don't get any because the issues are more "fundamental" than the exegesis of the text of Scripture. It seems fairly simple to me that if, in fact, I approach the text of Scripture improperly, and differently, it should be simple enough to demonstrate it on an exegetical level. Hence, I have asked for a demonstration of how this works. I have asked that a text be taken from my writings and the accusation of nuda scriptura be demonstrated in contrast to the "true" practice of sola scriptura.
In response Mr. Enloe has offered one example:
I believe that Dr. White has a very problematic understanding of "tradition" (as I outlined here). Accordingly, examples of what I am calling nuda Scriptura in Dr. White's Reformed Baptist views are not hard to find. His opposition to paedobaptism, for instance, relies upon the notion that paedobaptists do not exegete Scriptures about the New Covenant correctly because they allow their "traditions" to get between them and the inspired texts. Take the “traditional” clothing off the Scriptures, Dr. White seems to be saying, and presto, credobaptism shines forth in all its “objective”, exegetically “pure” glory. What is this if not an outright appeal to the “naked” text of Scripture?...
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A Very, Very Brief Response to TGE
03/20/2005 - James WhiteDespite feeling like I have one foot in the grave and one foot on a banana peel, I wanted to very, very quickly respond to Mr. Enloe. I had asked him to provide me with what should be fairly easily provided if, in fact, his assertions carry water. Specifically, should he not be able to provide clear examples from my writings where the application of sola scriptura (as Mr. Enloe understands the phrase) produces a marked, noticable difference in interpretation than that produced by nuda scriptura? Now, I confess, I have read Mr. Enloe's comments only briefly, as my internet time is limited here in England, but I didn't see any examples offered by Mr. Enloe. I will keep asking to see that kind of example.
But very briefly, Mr. Enloe did write this:
The most glaring example I have found in White’s writings is the October 22, 2004 entry (go here, scroll down) which, via a metaphor, openly questions the IQ of people who try to sail boats (theological systems) without removing the trailer (tradition) first.Now, my point, of course, is that the folks in the boat didn't know the trailer was there. Not only was it not supposed to be there in the first place (that was the IQ part), but the whole point was that these folks were treating their boat as if there was nothing "attached" to it. Since I have spoken of the necessity of recognizing and examining our traditions, and the grave danger of allowing our traditions to over-rule Scripture itself, I once again have to ask just what it means to assert someone believes in "nuda scriptura." That will be the focus of my replies when I return to the US.
03/18/2005 - James WhiteTim Enloe has written on his blog for March 16:
Especially as I read some of White's recent blog posts, I find it exceedingly difficult to imagine having to retract many things I have said about his views on this point. I believe that James White is defending what he honestly believes to be true on this point, but at the same time I honestly believe that White's view of sola Scriptura bears almost no relation to the principle and practice of the Protestant Reformers themselves but is instead better described as nuda Scriptura. This view of "naked texts" subsequently affects his view of hermeneutics and the nature and prospects of the exegetical task, and how he approaches and tries to reason with the members of other Christian denominations. Similarly, my view of sola Scriptura affects my thinking and practice on those points.
I honestly haven't a clue what "naked texts" are. What is the inspired Word "clothed" in for Mr. Enloe, or anyone else? Is tradition the "clothing" for the qeo,pneustoj (God-breathed) Word? If so, whose tradition? When did it become the clothing for the Word? When the Word was given, was it "naked" then, and has become more and more "clothed" as time has passed? As I read those who wish to somehow join the ultimate authority of Scripture to something else, for whatever reasons, I am always left wondering just how the resultant system is supposed to "work."
I note Mr. Enloe speaks to the fact that his views impact his hermeneutics as well. And indeed, such is a vital point. How does his view of "tradition" impact the exegesis of the text of Scripture? For example, how should Irenaeus' comments on the age of Jesus in John 8, in his battling against the Gnostics, impact my exegesis of that text today? Just a few weeks ago I preached through John 8 at PRBC: as I read the text, should my reading have been somehow influeced by Irenaeus' views? If so, how? How about anyone else in church history? Should I need to know how Augustine viewed the text? Jerome? Gregory? Wycliffe? Who? Does the text change in its meaning over those centuries and generations? Since I have often and repeatedly said there is everything good about learning from those of the past, surely the complaint is not that I ignore church history or the insights of those of the past. But I clearly do not believe everyone's interpretation is equally valid, nor do I believe the meaning of the text is in any sense altered by, or enslaved by, a "tradition" that develops over time. So, when I approach the text with my first desire to be to understand it as it was written by the original author is this what nuda scriptura is supposed to mean? When Calvin approached the text and rejected the interpretations offered in his day, was he engaging in nuda scriptura as well? I can't say, since I have not found a consistent usage of this terminology, and have never found anyone willing to offer the only kind of example that would be meaningful here: specifically, an exegesis of a text using Mr. Enloe's version of sola scriptura contrasted with the exegesis of a text I have offered, allegedly following nuda scriptura. I have published numerous works in which I offer an exegetical interpretation of a passage of Scripture. Surely there would be a suitable example from all of my published work whereby such a contrast could be offered. Possibly my recent sermons on John 8 would be useful? Perhaps it could be shown how, in my examination and application of these texts, I engaged in nuda scriptura? Given that I went into the Mishnah and provided the background to the texts, and then applied them to how we live our lives today, etc., this might be difficult, but I assume that if this is what I do on a regular basis, the contrast really should not be that difficult to draw. I would really like to see how these passages are interpreted via the "true" sola scriptura over against my own practice.
For the Founders Conference Sermons on Scriptural Sufficiency
03/14/2005 - James WhiteI mentioned I would provide the link by which you can obtain the sermons from the Midwest Founders Conference, and here it is.
Radio Free Geneva: A Special DL Tomorrow!
03/13/2005 - James WhiteI am collecting "The Worst of the Worst." And I am going to start responding to them tomorrow in a special DL that will go an extra 15 minutes as well (we can cram that onto a single CD). Worst of what? The Worst of Anti-Calvinism. I was handed a stack of tapes this past week, and made the mistake of starting to listen to them.
So, since I head to England on Wednesday, I will try to get two DL's in this week, but tomorrow's will be special: no calls, all reply to Pastor Danny O'Guinn of the Tower Grove Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri. He preached a sermon titled, as far as I can tell, "The Five Points of Calvinism Exposed & Exploded." I would dearly like to know when this sermon was preached for a reason I will explain in my response (if anyone knows, please let me know). This one definitely ranks right up there with the "worst of the worst," for reasons I will note. So, listen in today, Monday, March 14th, 1pm EST, 10am PST, for "Radio Free Geneva: Replying to the Worst of the Worst in Anti-Calvinism."
A Brand New Offer
03/11/2005 - James WhiteWe've done a few things like this in the past, and probably need to do them more often. If you glance over to the right you'll see a link that says "The Defending Calvinism Value Pack" (sounds a bit like something you would buy at a hardware store to apply to your lawn to keep Calvinists off). It consists of the new "Amazing Grace" DVD, Debating Calvinism, and, for the first time, the 3-cd set of the BAM debate from December, 2003, famous especially for George Bryson's line, "Read my book" and the fact that one side kept going to Scripture, and one side kept going...elsewhere. I had a few people ask me about the BAM show at the Founders Conference, and lo and behold, we now have it in stock. So don't miss this opportunity!
Pots on the Potter
03/08/2005 - James WhiteI have often noted the fact that most Christian's theology, as reflected by their prayers, is a lot better than their theology reflected in their words. When one bows in humble worship and focuses upon the Triune Majesty of God, one's mouth will not, normally, be filled with the praises of the creature.
Calvin well said in the Institutes, III:1.4,
I admit that profane men lay hold of the subject of predestination to carp, or cavil, or snarl, or scoff. But if their petulance frightens us, it will be necessary to conceal all the principal articles of faith, because they and their fellows leave scarcely one of them unassailed with blasphemy. A rebellious spirit will display itself no less insolently when it hears that there are three persons in the divine essence, than when it hears that God when he created man foresaw every thing that was to happen to him. Nor will they abstain from their jeers when told that little more than five thousand years have elapsed since the creation of the world. Of course, this third assertion should not have been classed with the first and second, which respectively concern the Trinity and Gods Omniscience, since it involves a chronological computation assuming no gaps, based on the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, together with several assumptions about the chronology of Genesis 1. (For further reference see notes on Book One, Chapter XIV, section 1.) For they will ask, Why did the power of God slumber so long in idleness? In short, nothing can be stated that they will not assail with derision. To quell their blasphemies, must we say nothing concerning the divinity of the Son and Spirit? Must the creation of the world be passed over in silence? No! The truth of God is too powerful, both here and everywhere, to dread the slanders of the ungodly, as Augustine powerfully maintains in his treatise, De Bono Perseverantiae (cap. 1420). For we see that the false apostles were unable, by defaming and accusing the true doctrine of Paul, to make him ashamed of it. There is nothing in the allegation that the whole subject is fraught with danger to pious minds, as tending to destroy exhortation, shake faith, disturb and dispirit the heart. Augustine disguises not that on these grounds he was often charged with preaching the doctrine of predestination too freely, but, as it was easy for him to do, he abundantly refutes the charge. As a great variety of absurd objections are here stated, we have thought it best to dispose of each of them in its proper place (see chap. 23). Only I wish it to be received as a general rule, that the secret things of God are not to be scrutinized, and that those which he has revealed are not to be overlooked, lest we may, on the one hand, be chargeable with curiosity, and, on the other, with ingratitude. For it has been shrewdly observed by Augustine (de Genesi ad Literam, Lib. 5), that we can safely follow Scripture, which walks softly, as with a mothers step, in accommodation to our weakness. Those, however, who are so cautious and timid, that they would bury all mention of predestination in order that it may not trouble weak minds, with what color, pray, will they cloak their arrogance, when they indirectly charge God with a want of due consideration, in not having foreseen a danger for which they imagine that they prudently provide? Whoever, therefore, throws obloquy on the doctrine of predestination, openly brings a charge against God, as having inconsiderately allowed something to escape from him which is injurious to the Church.There is something about God's freedom to give His grace to whom He sees fit, outside of creaturely merit or works, that so crushes the pride of man, that to know this is the biblical teaching cannot but help produce a result. Most live in ignorance of the subject, its power buried under a ton of tradition. But when the light of day shines upon the subject, one of two things happens. Either the heart is broken, and in Job-like acknowledgment of our creatureliness we place our hands upon our mouths and bow before our Maker, never to look at ourselves, or at Him, in the same way again, or, the creature, the pot, will rebel against this divine truth. "I will never worship a God like that!" one woman said to me once, and that hatred of God's truth has been expressed by many others as well. The more clearly one sees this truth, the more desperately one must suppress it. The results can be sad to observe.
Someone in channel who frequents theologyweb.com posted a statement from "Mr. Holding" that included these words: "When it is used as a rhetorical cover, as White often does, yes. He uses breathless 'praise' as a rhetorical device to cover a lack of logical or sufficient response. Piper did too a little bit; not much." I can honestly say that one thing that has not marked "Mr. Holding's" writings on Romans 9 has been a sense of awe or worship or reverence or humility. Obviously, pointing out the simple facts of the language is not sufficient for one who is so desperate to avoid the freedom of God in salvation, and even though Paul communicates with compelling clarity, nothing can stop the mind that is intent upon remaining a pot in control of the Potter.
There is, however, something not only very sad, but very dangerous, in knowing the truth about God's freedom, and remaining in rebellion against it. You cannot be neutral to your status as a pot: you either embrace the Potter, or you move farther and farther away from Him. The results can be devastating, and when we see such a one running hard away from the truth, we should only learn from this to say often each day, "But for the grace of God...."
A Note About the KJSL Program
03/07/2005 - James WhiteTim Berends called right toward the end of the DL today and from what Rich tells me, he wasn't a happy camper about the article I posted about the interview aka debate on KJSL last week. Evidently, he feels I need to retract the piece because 1) Jerry Thornburgh was not on the hour after I was on unopposed, and 2) there was a Calvinist on with Dave Hunt, specifically, Tim's co-host, Al. I have been trying to call Tim since the DL ended, but only get a busy signal. So I'll clear things up here.
A) I glady retract the two phrases (wasn't even an entire sentence) regarding the hour after I was on. As Tim himself noted, their time slot has changed since I was last on. They used to be on that hour, now it has changed. Mr. Thornburgh does have his own program along with his wife Kathy on KJSL on Monday evenings at 8pm (and, in fact, I may get the opportunity of debating the issues on that program in the future). But I gladly retract the statement that he was going to be on the hour after I was. He was only on the hour before me, asserting that John 3:16 is opposed to Calvinism, that Calvinism is opposed to the cross and the gospel, etc. So he only got one free, unopposed hour that morning, not two.
B) God bless Al Gross, but I have a really, really hard time viewing Al as a spokesperson for Reformed theology. But I tell you what: if in fact Dave was asked a question about Calvinism, and then Al was given equal time to respond, I'd like to hear it. I'd like to hear the tape of the previous days' interview, and if that is what happened, I'll be glad to announce it right here.
C) The point of the blog entry had almost nothing to do with Tim or Al. It had to do with Dave Hunt (as you can see from reading it) and those who are willing to speak out against Reformed theology, and against me in particular, but who will not face me directly. Multnomah contacted me about doing the Tim and Al show. Hence, it was another "Talk about a book where your co-author will not appear with you" situation. I did not know, however, that Dave Hunt had been on the previous day. I do not hold Tim Berends or KJSL responsible for Dave Hunt's fear of facing me, and to read what I said as if I was suggesting they knew about Dave's many errors is simply wrong. I doubt Tim reads my blog, and hence I doubt he was even aware of Hunt's escapades on this topic.
D) Tim called my personal cell phone the day before the program and left me a voicemail that Jerry Thornburgh would be filling in for Al and would "dialogue" with me about "the book." That did not communicate to me "Jerry will get equal time to debate you on Calvinism." Don't get me wrong: I don't care if it turns into a debate. That wasn't the point of my blog article to begin with, as anyone can see from reading it. The point was that Hunt would not face me. Further, I doubted very much that they brought anyone on to "oppose" Hunt, and I was right: Al Gross does not count as bringing someone on to "oppose" Hunt.
E) Now, the name "Jerry Thornburgh" rang no bells with me. A few days after the program, and after my posting the blog article noted above, someone came in channel and asked me why in the world I was willing to be on with him. And I told that person that I didn't really have any choice, and why shouldn't I anyway? That's when I was informed that Mr. Thornburgh and his wife hosted the program that featured Dan Corner back in 2000. Now, I won't go back over all the Dan Corner stuff. It is, in fact, a fascinating story, and you can read about it here, and listen to a 90 minute program I produced about the whole thing here. Now, I don't have time today (oddly, I'm flying to St. Louis tomorrow!) to go back through all of this, but if the person from St. Louis is correct, then the person who was chosen to fill in for Al Gross was the co-host of the program that not only brought Dan Corner on to make all sorts of false accusations against me, but whose other co-host called in when I was on with Tim and Al (you can listen to all of this in the file noted above). Now, believe me, if I had been informed that the man who was "filling in" for Al was in fact one of the folks who had been pushing the Dan Corner stuff back in 2000, well, I sure would have known what was headed my direction, at least. It wouldn't have changed much of what I had to say, but at least I would have known it was going to be a debate.
Listen to the linked real audio file for yourself. You'll find it most interesting if you haven't heard it before.
So to Tim Berends, I'm sorry if you thought the article was focused on you or your program: it wasn't. Tim knows I would be on his program to debate Norm Geisler or Dave Hunt or Jerry Thornburgh without condition. In fact, he knows I'd debate Dan Corner on his program too: I just refuse to sign a contract saying I will not mention certain portions of my own beliefs (something Corner demanded back in 2000)! My article was not about Tim. It was about those who attack Reformed theology without a willingness to either 1) represent it correctly, or, even worse, 2) attack it inaccurately and refuse to allow for direct one-on-one interaction over the exegesis of the inspired text itself. So, come on out to the Founder's Conference, Tim! Meet a whole group of Calvinists! You'd be welcome.
The Arminian Wake Up Call
03/02/2005 - James WhiteI sorta stumbled into my office this morning, doing my best to get the brain working before a 7:15am radio program. I've become a bit of a night-owl, as I can get a lot more done in the late hours than in the morning hours, seemingly (fewer distractions, and the phone goes silent!). Anyway, I was on with Tim and Al this morning once again on KJSL in St. Louis, but it was "sans Al" and "joined by Jerry Thornberg," an Arminian fellow who was my "opponent" this morning to "give the other side." Oddly, a fellow came in channel prior to the program and was telling us that they were already "priming the pump" on the program, saying that John 3:16 is "great against Calvinism" and that Calvinism is opposed to the cross and the gospel. Nothing like a fair little interview here! But then I found out this was another one of the "Dave Hunt will not come on the program with James White; he will come on first, but then you should probably have White on as well." I wonder, was there a Calvinist in studio to oppose Hunt when he was on?
Anyway, you wake up pretty quickly when you immediately discover the interview isn't an interview but is a debate, of sorts. Tim asked me why there was so much discussion about Calvinism these days, and I pointed out that in fact this isn't a new debate at all, and I went over some of the historical material, Augustine/Pelagius, the Reformation, Whitefield/Wesley, etc. Then Jerry was given a turn, and he started off by saying I had just given my foundation, but his is the Bible! I knew I was going to be spending the rest of the hour putting out one flaming strawman after another, and I was right. Every old, worn-out misrepresentation of Calvinism was trotted out once again. It wasn't difficult, however, to rebutt them, and eventually Jerry stopped replying (he was going to be on the hour after me without me around to contradict, so why not?). Obviously, I hope at least a few in the audience actually heard what I was saying, especially when a caller on "my side" got through and once again raised John 6 and John 8. Jerry side-stepped them and answered the questions raised in the exact opposite way the Lord Jesus did, and I had a good opportunity to point this out.
Doing these programs where I am discussing Debating Calvinism keeps reminding me of what it must be like to be Dave Hunt. I simply can't imagine it. "Hello, Dave? This is Multnomah. Yes, the folks at KJSL would like to interview you on Debating Calvinism. Yes, yes, I know you won't go on with James, so we told them that and they have found two days in a row where they can address this subject. Which day would you like?" He knows I would be on with him anytime, anywhere. He knows I would debate the subject before a live audience with him. What is it like to go around speaking on a subject when you have to look out at that audience and ask yourself every time, "I wonder...is White here? What will I do if he is?" I would be working in a gun store or a computer shop if I had to live like that. ...
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