Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Continuation of Response on Ordo Salutis
04/30/2006 - James WhiteAs I promised last week, I continued my response to Dr. Wright on issues relating to the ordo salutis from our debate in Sedalia in the Bible Study hour at PRBC. I only had about 35 minutes or so, so I had to rush a bit, but hopefully this will be useful. Here's the link to the discussion (streaming/download).
Revisiting the Norman Geisler/Chosen But Free/Potter's Freedom Issue
04/27/2006 - James WhiteAnyone notice a pattern here? Dr. Geisler writes Chosen But Free. I respond with The Potter's Freedom. More than a dozen different churches, conferences, individuals, attempt to arrange a debate. Dr. Geisler says he will not debate fellow Christians (I guess Randall Terry isn't a Christian then?). A thirteen page appendix appears in the second edition of Chosen But Free that makes Gail Riplinger look like a Rhodes Scholar (need documentation? Here it is). Its refutation has never even been acknowledged, let alone addressed. Silence.
Dave Hunt writes What Love is This? Standing at his table in St. Louis at the PFO conference Hunt agrees to debate me, one on one. I write an open letter documenting all sorts of problems with it. Loyal Publishing calls the next day after posting this inviting me to write Debating Calvinism. A number of folks tell me Hunt will use this as an excuse to avoid public debate. I write the book anyway, figuring it will get into places nothing else I will write could ever go. Hunt uses it as an excuse to avoid public debate, as he has "said all he needs to say." Of course, he goes on to write another book on Calvinism anyway, so I guess he didn't really say all he needed to say. Repeated documentation of his errors is met with...silence.
The Calvinist Gadfly has had a clock going for a while on his website marking the amount of time since Geisler was challenged to engage in a public debate on the topic of Calvinism. Well, this morning, right before his site went down (providence!!), someone commented on the Geisler/White situation. Here I provide his comments, and my response: ...
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Of Debates and the Silent Treatment
04/26/2006 - James WhiteI must admit. My job is fascinating. Never dull. Well, almost never dull. This morning while getting a 30 mile ride in at an average speed of 15 mph (yeah, I know---but, I also climbed 2520 feet, which explains the average speed) I was listening to Shabir Ally throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the New Testament, writing mental sticky notes (most of which flew off my brain on the descent back down the mountain) about his misuse of Metzger, misunderstanding of all sorts of technical information, etc., and how I need to use this material in the debate coming up soon. That kind of thing is very enjoyable, and I really, really wish it was all I had to worry about: getting ready to defend the Christian faith against those who would deny and attack it.
But that is not all I have to deal with. For over a week now Dr. Ergun Caner of Liberty University and Dr. Emir Caner of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have been giving Dr. Ascol and me "the silent treatment." Beginning on Monday the 17th a flurry of e-mails passed between the four of us. I had, in fact, eleven e-mails from Ergun Caner waiting for me when I arose Monday morning. I had written a lengthy e-mail over the weekend, and he cut his response up into various portions. Even Emir wrote two e-mails that day, as did Dr. Ascol. In any case, this led to some lengthy replies on my part, the last of which was sent on the afternoon of the 18th, 5:20pm my time.
Since that time, we have not received so much as a return receipt acknowledgement of anything we have written. Nothing. Zero. Nada. I have resent the last message multiple times. I have sent other, shorter notes. Last evening I sent a note that basically said, "Excuse me, but how are we supposed to set up this debate and discuss moderation, time frames, etc., if you will not correspond with us?" No response. No replies. Silence.
I recognize that things can come up which impinge upon one's "e-mail time." I have even mentioned this in the notes I have sent. But even someone in the midst of a tragedy can find the time to say, "Sorry, problems, will get to you later." Nothing. Just silence.
More than one person has told me they never expect to see a debate take place October 16th, and they never have. There are many people in the SBC who would never want to see the debate take place, some of whom wield a tremendous amount of clout. Is that why the Caners have stopped talking? I do not know. Are they embarrassed by what they have already said in the correspondence? Possibly. We simply do not know. All I know is over the past week I have sent numerous e-mails to which I have not received a single word in response.
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Finally! Disputations on Holy Scripture Back in Print
04/25/2006 - James WhiteThis book came back into print in December. We ordered it. Took months to get it. But once we got it, it took months to get it listed. Finally, it's here! One of the best defenses of sola scriptura ever written, William Whitaker's Disputations on Holy Scripture is not easy reading, but it is important reading. A must for the apologist's library. Get yours today!
Discussion of Romans 5:18
04/24/2006 - James WhiteI decided to delve into one of the main arguments Dr. Wright repeated a number of times in Sedalia during the Sunday morning Bible Study at PRBC. For all my many critics I confess to a mistake, well, a couple, in this study, so you won't want to miss it! I failed to see that Dr. Wright was focusing his entire argument on the passage on an italicized insertion on the part of the KJV translators, mainly because I failed to have the KJV displaying in my BibleWorks program. I could have much more effectively refuted his use of the text had I looked at the KJV rendering he was dependent upon. Oh well, I went over Romans 5:12-18 in Bible Study this morning, and here [stream/download] is where you will find it.
More on the Sedalia Debate
04/23/2006 - James WhiteIf a person had done a flow-chart on the debate, and had looked for Jonathan Wright's refutation of my opening presentation, that portion of the paper would be pretty much blank, as he really did not even try. As with all inconsistent Arminians, Dr. Wright was forced to do the Dave Hunt "it can't mean that, because there are all these other verses that say whosever over here" routine repeatedly rather than engage the text at any meaningful or scholarly level. I went through John 6:35-45, and though I did so quickly, I covered the main points of the exegesis. No response was offered outside of, "Who does the Father give the Son? Whosoever believeth!" During cross-examination I tried to get him to provide a foundation for this kind of interpretation, but he was unable to do so without leaving the context and exposing his own eisegesis. I likewise had gone through Hebrews 7, 9, and 10 in reference to the perfection of the atonement, and the only offered rebuttal was the bald citation of Hebrews 2:9 with the emphasis upon "every man."
I am thankful the KJV Only issue did not come to center stage in the debate. I believe Dr. Davis' church is KJV Only, so I feared that possibly there might be some problem when I tried to get into dealing with the Greek text. It did come up, however, when I asked Dr. Wright about Romans 8:7-8 and the phrase "for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so" in the NASB. He insisted that "in his translation" it says "for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." We wasted precious time just trying to get to the point of being able to ask why man "is not able" or "can't" subject himself to the law of God. That was a bit frustrating.
Likewise, one of the audience questions asked Dr. Wright why he seemed to glory in his "ignorance" of the Word of God. While the question was not phrased very well, I fully understood what was being asked: Wright had started the debate by asserting that Calvinism "complicates" the gospel; he had later talked about the "plain" meaning of the English text and how we do not need to go into "Greek participles" and the like. So the questioner was asking how it is a virtue to remain ignorant of these things as if that is somehow more "spiritual." Mr. Wright took extreme offense at the question, but he never answered it, either. He did affirm that Calvinism appeals to the "intellect" and the "arrogance" of man, so in reality, the question was quite valid, though it did not get a meaningful response.
I was amazed that some folks drove many, many hours to attend. Some came down from St. Louis, and one group of three young brothers drove all the way from Memphis! I was honored and humbled that folks have that kind of interest and, in fact, that they would desire to support me as well. I am most thankful.
Now, as I looked at my notes, and as I wrote myself a computer sticky note after the debate was over and I was trying to get to bed, there were two issues I found interesting in their emphasis in the debate, i.e., in Dr. Wright's emphasis on these issues. One had to do with the ordo salutis and the issue of the relationship of regeneration and faith (that keeps coming up, doesn't it?), specifically what happened when I sought to get him to comment on 1 John 5:1, 2:29 (and 4:7). He asserted that there is a clear ordo in John 20:31 and John 1:12 that contradicts the reading of 1 John 5:1 that I have proposed. I think a little more in-depth examination is in order to help everyone provide a fully orbed refutation of Dr. Wright's assertions (no, I did not go into it in depth due both to time constraints and the fact that I could not go into Greek issues with him as he had made it plain he was not going there anyway). Secondly, Hebrews 2:9 was quoted, without any concern for context, a number of times. I would like to spend some time looking more closely at these, perhaps here on the blog, perhaps on the DL on Tuesday, we will see.
Once again, I truly appreciate the hard work that went into this debate, and the fact that there had to be some perseverance on the part of those who wanted to see it happen (there was a good bit of opposition in fact). Many thanks to the staff, the students, and those who volunteered to help make it all happen. I hope to receive the recording of the debate soon and make it available in mp3 format.
Report on the Debate in Sedalia
04/22/2006 - James WhiteI am very thankful to report that the debate in Sedalia provided a wonderful time of biblical discussion and presentation. In fact, you can read a surprisingly fair account of the debate here in a local newspaper.
Those who have listened to my response to Dr. Davis' sermon could have predicted the direction it would go, and it did. There were no surprises as far as I was concerned. Dr. Wright, who I understand is running for the US Senate, was well spoken, as you would expect a former Assistant Attorney General for the state of Illinois.
For the first time I used a tablet PC in this debate. I had my opening presentation notes on it; then it has a tremendous program (Microsoft Journal) that allows me to write my notes using the tablet's pen. I can write just as fast as with pen and paper, but I can mark, outline, flag, and even move the text if I wish to. This worked perfectly. I could even tap over to BibleWorks, select text, including Greek, and insert it directly into my written notes, which then becomes the basis of my rebuttal comments and the Q&A section. But what I did not know till earlier today is that the program can then interpret my writing and convert it to e-text. And though I was writing very quickly, I am simply amazed at how well the program performed in interpreting my scribbling! So I asked some folks in channel if they would be interested in seeing the notes I wrote during the debate, and since they said they would, I thought I would provide them, both as an outline of the debate, as well as an insight into what I "heard" and was thinking as Dr. Wright was speaking. I will follow up with some thoughts on particular aspects of the debate a little later. So here are the notes I wrote while listening to my opponent's presentation. If I bold the font here, I used color to outline it in my notes so I would make sure to get to it in my rebuttal or in questioning (i.e., I felt it was vital to get to that particular claim/statement): ...
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Another Awesome Quote
04/20/2006 - James WhiteI leave early in the morning for Sedalia and the debate tomorrow evening, and I have a lot to get done before trying to get at least a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport. Don't forget the DL this afternoon! Anyway, I was sent this excellent citation that I intend to use tomorrow evening, and I thought I'd share it with you all:
But when Jesus Christ comes and puts his own sufferings into the place of our sufferings, the law is fully vindicated, while mercy is fitly displayed. A man dies; a soul is given; a life is offered the Just for the unjust. What if I say that, instead of justice being less satisfied with the death of Christ than with the deaths of the ten thousand thousands of sinners for whom he died, it is more satisfied and it is most highly honored! Had all the sinners that ever lived in the world been consigned to hell, they could not have discharged the claims of justice. They must still continue to endure the scourge of crime they could never expiate. But the Son of God, blending the infinite majesty of his Deity with the perfect capacity to suffer as a man, offered an atonement of such inestimable value that he has absolutely paid the entire debt for his people. Well may justice be content since it has received more from the Surety than it could have ever exacted from the assured. Thus the debt was paid to the Eternal Father. Once more. What is the result of this? The result is that the man is redeemed. He is no longer a slave. Some preachers and professors affect to believe in a redemption which I must candidly confess I do not understand; it is so indistinct and indefinite a redemption which does not redeem anybody in particular, though it is alleged to redeem everybody in general; a redemption insufficient to exempt thousands of unhappy souls from hell after they have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus; a redemption, indeed, which does not actually save anybody, because it is dependent for its efficacy upon the will of the creature; a redemption that lacks intrinsic virtue and inherent power to redeem anybody, but is entirely dependent upon an extraneous contingency to render it effectual. With such fickle theories I have no fellowship. That every soul for whom Christ shed his blood as a Substitute, he will claim as his own, and have as his right, I firmly hold. I love to hold and I delight to proclaim this precious truth. Not all the powers of earth or hell; not the obstinacy of the human will, nor the deep depravity of the human mind, can ever prevent Christ seeing of the travail of his soul and being satisfied. To the last jot and tittle of his reward shall he receive it at the Fathers hand. A redemption that does redeem, a redemption that redeems many, seems to me infinitely better than a redemption that does not actually redeem anybody, but is supposed to have some imaginary influence upon all the sons of men. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "Christ's Great Mission," Published 10/5/1916, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle)
A Spurgeon Quote
04/18/2006 - James WhiteYou have to be a tremendous communicator for folks to be quoting you a hundred years after you die. Spurgeon was a wordsmith, to be sure. I saw the prayer portion of the following quote on a web board today, so I looked it up. And I really thought merely quoting the prayer portion (esp. in the context of basically writing off all "Arminians" as lost, or so it seemed) was not representative of what Spurgeon was saying at all. So here is the broader context, with enough of the surrounding material included to allow the preacher of Old London to speak for himself:
Your fallen nature was put out of order, your will, amongst other things, has clean gone astray from God; but I tell you what will be the best proof of that; it is the great fact that you never did meet a Christian in your life who ever said he came to Christ without Christ coming to him. You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say, but you never heard an Arminian prayer-for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying, “Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not-that is the difference between me and them.” That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that. Ah, when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out, they cannot help it. (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1:706, "Free-Will -- A Slave," 12/2/1855)
Debate Details for Calvinism Debate 4/21
04/15/2006 - James WhiteI could not locate the details for the upcoming debate against Mr. Wright on the subject of Calvinism in Sedalia on the Dividing Line Tuesday, but I have now obtained them. The debate will take place Friday night, the 21st of April, at the Smith-Cotton High School, 312 E. Broadway, Sedalia, MO. Here's a map. Doors open at 6pm, debate begins at 7pm. The number I brought up through the net for the school is 660-829-6300.
Sorry to be so late in getting this posted, but the move continues. Seven brave gentlemen are here at the office right now. Why brave? Because we just moved a 1500 pound printing press using a U-Haul trailer, and managed to do so without any strained muscles, broken fingers, or even a single dinged door. Not bad for a bunch of non-professional movers. Anyway, now we need shelves and the last bit of the moving part will be over, since more than 50% of my library is still back at the old location.
Oh, also, I checked my flight schedule and I do not leave till very, very early Friday morning, so we will be able to do the Thursday afternoon DL as scheduled.
Dr. Caner Preached on "Hyper Calvinism" at Thomas Road Baptist Church
04/12/2006 - James WhiteDr. Ergun Caner preached on why he was predestined not to be a "hyper Calvinist" at the Thomas Road Baptist Church this past weekend. A number of folks were kind enough to send me the link to the video, found here. In this sermon you will not hear a meaningful, let alone accurate, definition of "hyper Calvinist," but you will find Dr. Caner switching back and forth between "Calvinist" and "hyper Calvinist." He spoke from 1 Timothy 2, so you will hear a lot about "all" and its meaning, however, you will not hear about the key term in that passage, mesi,thj ("mediator"), nor will you find any evidence that Dr. Caner has seriously considered any responses to this text from outside his own camp. You will hear about how Calvinism is an "infection," and you will hear him steal a horrific line recently used by Danny Akin about those who think "J.C." stands for John Calvin instead of Jesus Christ (a truly reprehensible line). And you will likewise hear that God hated Esau because of what Esau did, but you will not hear him read, "or though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls" (Romans 9:11). You get the idea.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon on Regeneration, Faith, and Man's Inability
04/10/2006 - James WhiteYou can read the entire sermon here. But here's the heart of the discussion:
“COMING to Christ” is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is used to express those acts of the soul wherein leaving at once our self righteousness, and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive his righteousness to be our covering, and his blood to be our atonement. Coming to Christ, then, embraces in it repentance, self-negation, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it sums within itself all those things which are the necessary attendants of these great states of heart, such as the belief of the truth, earnestness of prayer to God, the submission of the soul to the precepts of God’s gospel, and all those things which accompany the dawn of salvation in the soul. Coming to Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner’s salvation. He that cometh not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may is yet in “the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and reposes in him (emphasis mine). Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain that there is as yet no quickening; where there is no quickening, the soul is dead in trespasses and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.