Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
On the Depravity of Man
05/23/2005 - James WhiteCharles Haddon Spurgeon once said, "As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived." The great works of Christians down through the centuries are filled with the same testimony: man is the slave of sin, utterly undone outside of Christ. Even those whose theology did not measure up to the biblical standard could not help, in their prayers, to confess what they knew to be true: the fallen sons of Adam are dead in sin, incapable of even the first move toward God. Even more, they are filled with the effect of depravity and alienation from God: enmity and hatred toward His holy standards. This was a common element of Spurgeon's preaching:
Now, the calling of the Holy Spirit is without any regard to any merit in us. If this day the Holy Spirit shall call out of this congregation a hundred men, and bring them out of their estate of sin into a state of righteousness, you shall bring these hundred men, and let them march in review, and if you could read their hearts, you would be compelled to say, "I see no reason why the Spirit of God should have operated upon these. I see nothing whatever that could have merited such grace as this - nothing that could have caused the operations and motions of the Spirit to work in these men." For, look ye here. By nature, men are said to be dead in sin. If the Holy Spirit quickens, it cannot be because of any power in the dead men, or any merit in them, for they are dead, corrupt and rotten in the grave of their sin. If then, the Holy Spirit says, "Come forth and live," it is not because of anything in the dry bones, it must be for some reason in His own mind, but not in us. Therefore, know ye this, men and brethren, that we all stand upon a level. We have none of us anything that can recommend us to God; and if the Spirit shall choose to operate in our hearts unto salvation, He must be moved to do it by His own supreme love, for He cannot be moved to do it by any good will, good desire, or good deed, that dwells in us by nature....
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The Foundation of Assurance
05/11/2005 - James WhiteThe perfection of Christ’s work of salvation—from the reality of God’s eternal decree, the deadness of man in sin, the effectiveness of His substitutionary death in behalf of the elect, to the application in time by the Spirit of God—is the sole and only basis of any consistent doctrine of perseverance or “eternal security.” Every system that reduces the work of Christ to the hypothetical level must abandon the solid rock of assurance that comes only from recognizing His awesome power. Reduce Jesus to the role of making us “savable” and you no longer have the slightest reason to believe that, once a person is in Christ, they will remain there. But strip man of his pretended autonomy, recognize his utter dependence and God’s unparalleled power, and the truth of the eternal nature of Christ’s saving work (and its inability to fail) will find a firm and necessary foundation. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness: He will never fail to do the Father’s will, and that is my hope (John 6:38–39). (Debating Calvinism, p. 406)
Wilkin Lights Up More Straw Men (#2)
05/07/2005 - James WhiteYesterday I began replying to the comments found in the May, 2005 "Partners in Grace" publication from the Grace Evangelical Society. I conclude my remarks in this entry. Wilkin noted:
He criticized me for being overly concerned about works-salvation. I responded by saying that the reason he wasn't overly concerned about works-salvation is because his view of faith is works-salvation. This too upset him.How does one respond to this kind of mind-set that is steeped in ignorance of the position he is denying and that shows not the first ability to hear any response or rebuttal? Of course, what I had said was that the Hodges/Wilkin position is grossly imbalanced, and that for Wilkin, it was the result of a pendulum swing out of a works-salvation system (this is his own testimony, both in his book and in the debate, regarding his background). To take that observation and twist it into my saying that I am not overly concerned (note the equivocation--I meant "overly" as in "imbalanced" and he means "overly" as in "White doesn't really care one way or the other") about works-salvation is illustrative of just how utterly out-of-touch Wilkin was in the debate, and remains thereafter. Once again I saw folks wincing in the audience, for while Wilkin has spent his energies promoting cheap grace, I have defended justification against all comers. It would have really helped had he bothered to at least skim a work like The God Who Justifies. But he didn't, and seems quite happy to remain in the state of blessed ignorance. But please note: this viewpoint, which turns faith into a nod of the head, grace into a vapor, and denies repentance is part of the work of the Spirit of God in regeneration, identifies hard-core, "God saves, saves perfectly, without man's assistance" Calvinism as "works-salvation." Though I repeatedly said there is no merit to repentance--they will not hear. Though I repeatedly said we are speaking of the nature of saving faith as it relates to the work of the Spirit, and repeatedly pointed out that nothing we do is in any way, shape, or form, related to our standing before God (which is based upon the imputed righteousness of Christ, not our works--which Wilkin would know, if he had bothered to read a book, maybe even just read all of the 1689 London Confession, which, after the debate, he admitted he hadn't), Wilkin continues with his accusation against all Reformed churches that we teach a works-righteousness system. ...
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Wilkin Lights Up More Straw Men (#1)
05/06/2005 - James WhiteOver the years I have chosen to allow listeners to debates to decide for themselves regarding presentation, behavior, and substance. Many times I have not even had to say a word: the behavior of a Tim Staples, or a Robert Sungenis, has said all that needed to be said. The few times I have commented I have done so because my opponent has decided to "spin" things, and I have sought to correct the record. This was the case with Patrick Madrid, for example, when he wrote his Catholic Answers hit-piece, "The White Man's Burden."
Last month I apologized to the fine brethren in Oklahoma City for having even suggested they invited Dr. Robert Wilkin to debate in their B.B. Warfield series. I had to do so because Dr. Wilkin's presentation, and his behavior during the debate, fell far below my expectations. While we had been asked to present overheads (powerpoints) giving our texts, Wilkin inserted silly pictures. While I sought to present a theological and biblical case, explaining my position and its foundation, Wilkin debated for his "group," not even trying to provide a cohesive, coherent, systematic position. It was a wasted opportunity, for all he chose to do was go after me, which left the real chance for a meaningful debate over the important issues out in the cold. Don't get me wrong: if Wilkin would like to debate particular passages, for example, or if we were debating "Calvinism" as a system and I was defending it, fine. But the fact of the matter is that the topic of the debate was quite clear; the intention of the debate had been made clear as well; and if Wilkin had simply behaved as a scholar, shown enough respect for the folks who invited us, and for the audience, to define and defend his position (rather than just assuming it), we might have been able to accomplish something. But the fact that he chose to do as he did, and also due to the fact that there was no cross-examination, insured that we would not be coming to any meaningful conclusions as a result of the debate. In that situation, it would have required the cooperation of both to make it work: and Dr. Wilkin was not there to engage the subject in such a fashion as to communicate with anyone outside of his own group.
I was sent a link to a publication wherein Wilkin gives his debate report, and then reproduces what others have said (including, oddly, a "diappointed Dr. White supporter"). Here are some highlights: ...
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Reformed Catholicism Communio Sanctorum
05/04/2005 - James WhiteDifferent site, same stuff. ReformedCatholicism.com is gone, now we have in its place, www.communiosanctorum.com (Latin is so much more classy than English could ever be, of course). OK, the good things: love the template. I want one like that. Nay, I demand it! OK, so I don't have much control over that. But I do like it, though, if you don't have your cursor on the paragraph you are reading, it is hard to read. But, very classy. 9.5 on the look.
Sadly, you can wrap rCism up in the prettiest of cloth and it won't make the slightest difference. After reading through another post-Reformed discussion by Sandlin, I ran across this:
What we don’t see magisterial Reformers like Calvin doing, were he alive today, is continuing to divide, continuing to wrangle over meaningless abstractions, and continuing to perfect our doctrine while ignoring how we live out that very doctrine.Same old horse that died on the backstretch ten races ago, but they are carting its bleached bones about again. I am so sick of this "Hey, if you don't look like us and talk like us that means you are ignoring how to live out that very doctrine in your lives" canard. And if these folks aren't seeking to divide, why start off with a slap in the face of the "Reformed" to begin with? Nope, seems like nothing has changed other than the URL and the horrific purple colors of the old site. Same ol' same ol' amongst those who seek to have their cake and eat it too.