Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
John 6 and the "Pristine Faith Restoration Society" (#2)
07/28/2006 - James WhiteThe primary reason for addressing Tim Warner's arguments on the subject of John 6 is found in the assertions made therein regarding the exegesis of the text. Each time examples can be provided of errors in exegesis, it is hoped our readers will be better equipped to detect such mistakes in a wider variety of contexts.
As noted before, Mr. Warner has adopted a particular kind of "progressive dispensationalism" that allows him to cut the New Testament (and the Bible) up into sections that are then said to be no longer relevant today. So, if Jesus uses a present tense verb during His ministry, and the specific situation of His ministry has now "changed," that present tense verb, if it has to do with the peculiar understanding adopted of Jesus' ministry, can be said to be irrelevant now, since it only had to do with what was happening then. The result of such thinking will be seen in specifics below.
At times it is difficult to follow Warner's reasoning. He writes,
Jesus indicated that He, like Moses, was sent by God. His confirmation of this fact to the Jews was that His own flesh was to be given for their spiritual food (as the manna was given for their physical food). Partaking of Jesus' flesh was a cryptic way of saying that one must partake of Christ's sacrifice of His flesh in a spiritual sense, as the Israelites partook of the manna in a physical sense (see vss. 60-63). Jesus was teaching an important truth here in parable. It had nothing to do with being the "bread of life throughout all ages." That is purely Mr. White's assumption that he has read into the text with zero support from the context. I hope you can see the logical fallacy committed here by Mr. White. His circular argument goes like this: He assumes a universal truth (Jesus is the bread of life throughout all ages). He reads that back into the text solely on the basis that Jesus called Himself the "bread of life" (without any reference to "throughout all ages" — the critical point of his argument). He then claimed that Jesus was teaching this alleged universal truth, which Jesus nowhere hinted at!
It would seem to follow that only the Jews of Jesus' day could be saved by partaking of Christ's sacrifice of His flesh---but, of course, that makes no sense, since Jesus spoke these words before the cross; but, if we remember John wrote these words decades later, and the truth Jesus spoke then is valid in that context, then we have no problems. And that, of course, is all I have been saying. There is nothing in the text to tell us that Jesus only meant His words to be relevant to Jews in Capernaum at a particular time. This is Warner's imposition, one he seemingly wishes to be able to assert without proof. But when the result of your imposition is absurdity, one has warrant to reject the position being espoused. ...
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The Wicket Gate
07/27/2006 - James WhiteI hope to find the time today to get another post in the John 6 series up. This morning I listened to Barry Lynn interviewing John Shelby Spong while riding. That was a bit tough, as you can imagine, but enlightening as well. I have a feeling I will review that on the DL today, since it is always easier to discuss something that is fresh on your mind.
While waiting for the Dividing Line, you might wish to listen to this series on the five points by Nick Needham, pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church in Inverness, Scotland. I have spoken a few times at the church in Inverness, and love the folks there. In fact, ironically, I wrote the first portions of my replies to Ergun Caner on the Founder's Blog on a computer in the home of one of the church members there in Inverness while I was visiting during the afternoon between services. Dr. Needham is a church historian, and you might find his other lectures most useful, including lectures on Athanasius, John Knox, etc., found here, and some (but I notice not all) of his published books are found here. Dr. Needham is a wonderful brother in the Lord, and has taken over pastoring the Inverness Church upon the retirement of Jack Seaton. Jack and his wife have been most kind to me in my visits to Inverness, and I had the pleasure of seeing the Seatons while speaking at the Metropolitan Tabernacle a few weeks ago. Jack took me to see Loch Ness when I first visited there, for which I am most thankful. You might recognize Pastor Seaton's name from his Banner of Truth booklet on the Five Points. It has been an honor to get to know such a wonderful, godly man. I look forward to returning to Inverness in the not too distant future.
Berean Call Statement, January, 2005
07/21/2006 - James WhiteIt has been a while, so I had forgotten some of the details of what The Berean Call had said about the "Hebrew original" claims Hunt makes in his book. One of our channel regulars sent me the letter TBC had sent him on the topic, and it reminded me of just how embarrassing this situation is for Hunt, and how amazing it is that they have put out another edition of the book but kept this silliness in the text. The utter lack of integrity in research and scholarship demonstrated by TBC when it comes to Calvinism sadly reflects upon everything they put out. Hunt has truly done irreparable damage to his legacy and integrity with his bull-headed crusade against sound biblical theology.
Now for those who may be new to this blog and this discussion, Dave Hunt has been on an anti-Calvinism crusade for a number of years now. He's written a horrible book, filled with exegetical errors and the most egregious forms of misrepresentation and illogic, titled What Love is This? This despite being warned he was engaging a topic he is not prepared to engage by many people (myself included), and the fact that his website includes in his bio this statement, "Dave’s impeccable research and recognized scholarship are based on in depth studies of original documents and publications, interviews with key experts from around the world, and extensive travel—including to South America, Australia, Europe and throughout the Middle East." One thing is for certain, when it comes to Reformed theology, Dave didn't bother with the "impeccable research."
One of Dave's big hurdles has been dealing with Acts 13:48. He has tried everything. A comparison of his first attempts with his current explanation shows a sad desperation on his part. The text simply defies his many attempts to get around it. In his original edition of What Love is This?, despite his public admission that he cannot read Greek (as he put it, "It might as well be Chinese!"), he had the audacity to write, "Many Greek experts suggest the same idea here: that the Gentiles had disposed themselves (i.e., determined) to believe" (p. 218). Of course, he doesn't bother to list these "Greek experts," and as we shall see, this is a common defect of Hunt's writings. Of course, the rendering he proposes is found in only one English translation in its main text: the New World Translation of Jehovah's Witnesses! Evidently Hunt was unaware of this, for he has continued trying to come up with new ways around this text in the more recent editions of his book and in his various talks as he travels the country and the world.
In any case, in the hardback edition his own ministry eventually put out (Multnomah wisely declined to publish it---an act that Hunt blames upon the great Calvinist conspiracy!), a paragraph appeared that had not been in the previous edition of WLIT? It is the final paragraph in the section on Acts 13:48 (pp. 263-264). It is not introduced with, "Oh, by the way, here is some irrelevant speculation." In fact, there is nothing in the text to indicate you are not to take it as being just as serious as anything else in Hunt's book. It reads,
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.
I remember doing a double-take as soon as I saw this the first time. It was so far removed from anything even semi-scholarly that I was shocked even Dave Hunt would put it into use. Did he not realize this would present almost insurmountable difficulties for the doctrine of inerrancy, maybe even inspiration itself? Is there anything he won't say to protect his traditions from biblical refutation? It did not take long to document all of the silliness, and of course, TBC could not back up Hunt's claims. In a major mis-step, his ministry started sending out an e-mail that plagiarized directly from a cultic website seeking to defend the idea of a Hebrew original, and even then, the quotes were only relevant to Matthew, not to Acts. Eventually Hunt realized the case was hopeless. So did he admit he was wrong? Well, not really. Here are the key statements from a letter Hunt sent out in response to the issue in January, 2005:
It is a bit embarrassing because I threw in the comments to which you take exception (and rightly so) rather carelessly. It was certainly not part of my argument nor did it have any bearing on the position I take.May I rephrase Hunt's words? I mean, I'm a fellow author and apologist, so I think I can approximate it pretty well.
I offer no footnotes for this brief paragraph because the source or sources are not important and frankly I can't remember where I picked up these ideas. The phrases "were probably written" and "some scholars claim" show that I am not presenting my own opinion gathered from personal research. I am only stating (as something of possible interest for anyone who may wish to pursue it further) that certain people believe this idea. My argument, however, is in no way dependent upon such opinions.
Certainly, any basis for the idea that the first 15 chapters of Acts were originally written in Hebrew is tenuous at best---but that doesn't matter. The fact that some people (including some scholars) believe this to be the case is all that I stated, but it is clearly not relevant to my arguments. It was not wise to include this brief speculative statement and it will be deleted from the next printing.
Whoa, where did that come from? Yeah, sure, that's my book, but I really take no responsibility for what appears in it. But hey, keep one thing in mind: no matter how false that paragraph really is, it doesn't impact my arguments at all. I mean, no amount of error in my argumentation can possibly change the fact that I am right. Never forget that. No, I can't even remember where I got that stuff, though, I sure did give some specifics, didn't I? I mean, I mentioned stuff about which I'm actually totally clueless, since I don't read the original languages, and referred to early church fathers--no, I've forgotten who they were, too--and scholars--no, please, I just don't recall even though I put this edition out just recently so it was only a few months ago that I put this together but amazingly, despite my "impeccable research," I haven't a clue what scholars these might be nor do I have any idea where you could actually see this Hebrew version or anything else. And what does it really matter, really? I mean, just because throughout the rest of my book I mention "scholars" and "dozens of verses" and such things, without documenting my claims, doesn't mean that those references are not absolutely true and factual! It's just this one little paragraph that you shouldn't take seriously, and remember, no matter what you say about this paragraph, it means nothing to my arguments. Nothing. My arguments are infallible, err, I mean, are accurate and well researched. In fact, did you know I know more about Calvinism than most Calvinists do? It's true. And I learned it all in a matter of weeks! Hey, have you ever heard of Servetus? Let me tell you about Servetus....When you have to write to someone and say, "Well, I did not footnote this section because it really doesn't matter, you should know that you have really gotten in over your head. Sad, very sad.
But, please notice the last line. Hunt says the material will be removed from the next printing. Has it been removed, even from the next edition? Answer: no. Evidently, removing simply false material that is misleading and damaging and downright silly is not nearly as important as saving the world from Calvinism! Dave's had time to put out another anti-Calvinism book since January, 2005, but he has somehow not found the time to fix his own faux pax let alone debate the issue.
Hello Ed and the Folks at The Berean Call!
07/20/2006 - James WhiteA friend of mine contacted the folks at TBC about the DL today. The response was most interesting:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We constantly monitor White's website and are well acquainted with his statements. In response to White's question as to whether the statement about Acts 13:48 was left in, it has.A couple of things. First, Ed Newby was the fellow who wrote this. I've seen his name on almost everything forwarded to me from TBC, so I guess he handles the correspondence. Hi Ed! Ed seems like a nice guy. I would not want his job. I bet Ed would like to see Dave debate me. I have no evidence of this. Just reading between the lines. :-)
Second, I am a bit amazed that such a massive error as the "Hebrew original of Acts 1-15" paragraph, which has been so thoroughly refuted, would remain in another printing of the book. I guess they assume that most of their readers will never know the difference (a sad but probably true idea). But remember, there is no way to uphold the doctrine of inerrancy and claim the first fifteen chapters of Acts were written in Hebrew and have now been lost! The fact that Hunt does not care about misleading his readers with this kind of falsehood (a falsehood his ministry then attempted to defend for weeks by sending out quotes taken from a cultic website!) simply because it aids him in attacking Calvinism tells you a lot about the power of human traditions.
Third, I do hope Ed and the folks will listen to the DL and introduce Dave and T.A. to the concept of "common grace." Somehow, when Dave came to know more about Calvinism than most Calvinists (as is his own claim) he missed all those references.
Can Dave Hunt Ever Learn or Admit Error?
07/19/2006 - James WhiteAfter all these years, I've had to conclude that he cannot. No matter how often he is corrected, evidently, he has no ears to hear. And despite his saying that he has nothing more to say about Calvinism, he continues writing books, talking about it on his radio program, etc. Remember, Dave Hunt has a standing challenge to debate this issue, but he simply will not do so.
If you check out his website, you will see that yet another version of What Love is This? has been released. I can't tell from the description if the embarrassing "Hebrew original of Acts" stuff has been removed, and I don't know that I want to spend the $27 to find out (if anyone else does, please let me know). If that has not been removed, well, that says volumes in and of itself. But if it has, without notation or explanation---well, that speaks loudly as well.
Tomorrow on the DL, before we get back to our Roman Catholic apologist's attack on "once saved, always saved" (the fellow who has eaten my lunch!), I wish to respond to a recent Huntian demonstration of his utter, culpable, obstinate, and pertinacious ignorance of Reformed theology, leading, inexorably, to his continued misrepresentation thereof. You can listen to it yourself here. Just don't do so if you have blood pressure issues, or before going to bed.
The Caner Saga: Episode MCLXVII: Revenge of the Synergists
07/13/2006 - James WhiteMaybe I'll have more to say about this later. I don't know. I talked a bit about it on today's DL right at the start, where I read Ergun Caner's letter and my response. I'm still processing this myself. I am still in a bit of shock. In any case, here is today's DL. I have added all of today's correspondence to the pdf we were building a few weeks ago, here. But what you need to know is all found in this final exchange:
For the last time, are you trying to weasel out of a debate for which we have already agreed?
FOR THE LAST TIME, are you trying to change the agreed format and rules?
FOR THE LAST TIME, for the sake of clarity, are you backing out, running away, or trying to change (in midstream) a debate for which all parties have already settled?
We are preparing to upload your response, and the National Liberty Journal readers- almost 500,000- want to know.
We stand without fear, and without flinching. We are ready.
As for this discussion, I am done. I shall be there, on Monday, Oct 16, either to debate the topic, or lament the fact that your side could not debate without trying to manipulate the proceedings. Let the record show- Emir and I are still ready to debate- as promised.
Jill- please upload this to the LTS website, copy to Dr Falwell, and my website as well.
Incredible. Simply incredible.
You honestly have no idea how you are behaving, do you, sir? You have no concept of how childish and immature your bullying tactics are. Is there no one, Ergun, at Liberty, who can take you aside and help you? This is simply incredible, it truly is. It is a sad, sad day for Liberty University that a man who can be so completely beyond reason, so deaf to the most basic appeals for mature interaction, can be "in charge."
Dr. Caner, you fear debating me directly. That has come out clearly in our correspondence. You know you could never survive a scholarly exchange with me on the level of the text. You are acting with all this bluster because you know this to be true. This is why you avoid a one-on-one debate. This is why you avoid a clear thesis. This is especially why you avoid cross-examination. I know this, you know this, and the fair minded reader of our exchanges knows this. Your failure to engage any level of conversation since February makes this painfully clear.
1) It is untrue that we have agreed to the format and rules. To say otherwise is a documented lie.
2) It is untrue that all parties have "settled" these issues. To say otherwise is a documented lie.
3) I remind you, sir, that I have a standing challenge to you to face me, one-on-one, in front of each of your classes to discuss, from the text of Scripture, its specific teaching on election and predestination. Anyone standing by that challenge is hardly backing out or running away.
Any honest-minded person can read our exchanges and see the facts. You have acted dishonestly, and I call upon you to repent of your actions.
Now, as to the debate. Since you do not engage in reasoned dialogue, but instead operate on the "I don't care about what you said, you will do as I say" model, here's the story.
1) I will be there October 16th.
2) Dr. Ascol will not. He has no intention of being treated like dirt on your shoe, and I have no intention of asking him to endure such childish retorts and dishonesty. When I asked him to join me, I believed I was dealing with men of integrity who would behave as Christians. If I had had any idea of the level to which you would stoop, I would never have invited anyone at all to endure such behavior. We had agreed a few weeks ago that if you did not show some signs of actually being willing to engage in adult and scholarly conversation at this point, he would not be involved in the debate. Since then, other issues have arisen (noted on his blog) which only confirm the wisdom of that decision.
3) I will debate you both. You have no reason to complain. You have been trying to tell folks I want to "back out" and "run away" for weeks. That's called wishful thinking, Ergun. The fact is, you know better. I will be there to demonstrate that your thesis is heretical; that your denial to God of the capacity of love with discernment is unbiblical and illogical; and that God is free and sovereign in the matter of human salvation. I have debated in less friendly situations.
So it is settled. James White vs. the Caner brothers. Thomas Road Baptist Church. October 16th. Parliamentary procedure. Thesis is the unintelligible mess you insist upon and which I will use as a springboard to demonstrate the incoherence of synergism and the clarity of God's truth from Scripture. The two sides get completely equal time---don't think you get twice as much just because I will be upholding biblical monergism by myself. I will be keeping very careful track of time to ensure fairness, as will others.
Please forward the name of the person responsible for the facilities. Richard Pierce will need to begin discussions regarding video taping and providing redundancy so as to preclude any mishaps.
To which Ergun Caner replied:
Dear Dr White:
Good, I am glad to see we shall have the debate. See you then.
Taking a Fresh Look
07/13/2006 - James WhiteThe following e-mail was sent Thursday morning, July 13th, 2006, at 10:26am MST:
Dear Dr. Caner:
I just returned from ministering in the United Kingdom at the School of Theology at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, as well as a quick trip up to Glasgow, where I combined ministry (spoke on the Bible's teaching on homosexuality-a privilege that will surely come under fire in the UK before long) with pleasure (I ordered my formal kilt at a very nice men's shop in downtown Glasgow!). I don't detect any Scottish heritage in you, so I doubt you can understand my excitement on that last point!
In any case, as you have probably noted, Dr. Ascol and I have allowed things to "quiet down" some over the past few weeks. Obviously, a "time out" was needed, because things had gotten quite out of hand. In essence, from our viewpoint, no discussion was taking place. We were being told what was going to happen and how it was going to happen, and that was basically it. So we decided to let the dust settle and step back and take one more run at this debate issue to see if, in fact, we can arrange something that will be a blessing to God's people.
From the start I have emphasized the need to put the audience first. We need to bless the people of God. Those in attendance that night, and those who watch the debate on DVD, or listen to the audio recordings, need to be encouraged in their walk of faith. They need to hear the Word of God honored and handled with proper respect and obedience. They need to see the proper attitude modeled by those involved in the debate.
With this in mind, I wish to go back to square one with you, Ergun. I wish to revisit the entire debate situation, this time doing so with one over-arching concern: what is best for the people of God? What makes for the best debate? As I present my suggestion for how this needs to be done, I will provide an argument from my experience in debate to demonstrate why this is best for the audience. If you disagree, I will respectfully ask you to provide counter-argumentation, not merely from preference or feeling, but from experience, providing reasoned arguments. This way our prospective audience can know that care was taken to consider them in the process of arranging this encounter. ...
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