Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
On the Last DL for Two Weeks....
10/31/2006 - James WhiteI won't be able to do any DL's while I'm away, so, the next program will be 11/14. Today I went back to the Jerry Vines sermon against Calvinism, part of a series he did, starting with liberals, then covering Calvinists, Charismatics, and those who drink (Drunk, Liberal Charismatic Calvinists, as someone suggested)---don't you love throwing Reformed theology into that list? So anyway, we did get one phone call toward the end of the program on the nature of the compatibility that exists between God's will and man's evil actions. Here's the program.
I Just Could Not Resist
10/31/2006 - James WhiteJeff Downs sent me a link about the reading of 1 Timothy 3:16 in Codex Alexandrinus, and though I have a ton of things to be doing this morning before the DL (mainly packing!), I just could not resist taking the time to do what I love to do. Here's a close up of the text. For those who are not familiar with the issue, it is one of the major textual variants in the NT, hence, one that comes up in the KJV Only debate, and, of course, with Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims as well. I addressed it rather fully in The King James Only Controversy as well. The difference in reading, in English, is between "God was manifest in the flesh" and "He was manifest in the flesh." While at first glance that seems like a major variant (and it is, as far as meaning is concerned), the actual difference in the Greek is rather slight, the difference between OS and QS with a line over it. Well, more and more, high-quality digital images of the NT manuscripts are becoming available on line, this one coming from a tremendously valuable resource, www.csntm.org (a group well worth your support, I might add). Those of you who can read a little Greek (and more, can read uncial text), can make it out, even in this small version (the version on line is higher quality). Here is the uncial text of the passage so you can follow along with it:
Here is the same line but in more standard (non-uncial) script: kaiomolog
Yes, I know, the BibleWorks font does not have an exact representation of an uncial final form sigma, which, as you can see in the graphic, looks like a capital "C" in the English script. In any case, here is a blow up of the point of the variant. If you check your NA text, they list the "original" as OS and the "corrected" as QS. Now, they may have been able to do some kinds of studies with ultraviolet light, etc., to come to that conclusion, but you sure can't tell that from this image. It is fascinating to see this text, and hopefully, it is useful in calming the wild-eyed fears created by KJV Onlyists who run about screaming about how Westcott and Hort "altered" the text and "took out the deity of Christ" and all that stuff. The difference between the two readings, orthographically, is small. I don't know about you, but it sure looks like it reads "God" to me!
OK, enough of this enjoyable stuff, back to work I must go! Oh, almost forgot. I was sent multiple links to this all-too accurate advertisement on the Sacred Sandwich website. Hey, I really had nothing to do with its production...aside from being the one who prompted some of the doll's statements, anyway.
Woops! Last Thursday's DL!
10/30/2006 - James WhiteForgot to link Thursday's DL! My apologies! Started looking at Emir Caner's sermon at TRBC, along with other things! Here's the program.
What To Look For This Friday
10/30/2006 - James WhiteThis Friday evening I will be debating the retired Episcopalian bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong. Spong is one of the favorites of the ultra-left, so you have probably seen or heard him on PBS, seen his books being promoted heavily in the media, or heard him being interviewed for a "progressive Christian" viewpoint on this or that. I can tell you right now the debate will be more on whether there is such a thing as "biblical Christianity" or not, for one thing is certain, Bishop Spong does not believe so. In fact, Spong is not even a classical theist. And so the debate will probably not focus upon the specific meanings of biblical texts (though Spong says it is relatively easy to refute the mistaken understandings of the texts relating to homosexuality) but upon whether there is such a thing as divine truth at all, especially in the realm of human sexual ethics. Just to give you an idea of how far outside the realm of Christian faith is Bishop Spong's confession, note his own words from his book, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, pp.166-167, 200:
If we can grasp these possibilities or at least be willing to explore these tiny cracks leading to a different way of thinking about God, and if the Holy God can be understood not as a person, but as the depth and ground of life itself, then the ethical task of the Church becomes quite different. Christian ethics are not found in a system of behavior control. They are rather found in a call to the fullness of life. The business of the Church is, therefore, not to judge life, but to enhance consciousness, to ex-pose ignorance and prejudice, and to remove the barriers to life in all of its fullness. The Church's task is to assist its people in plumbing the depths of their own humanity, where transcendence, mystery, being, and even love are discovered, and to bring those qualities found in the center of life into the world. I name that center of life God.It will be interesting to get to cross-examine someone who speaks of a "non-theistic God" and who calls himself a Christian while defining the Trinity as "Life is good" (Father), "Life is loved" (Son), "be all you can be" (Spirit, though, I confess, it is hard for me to hear that phrase without thinking of the Army Reserve). You can certainly see why he supports homosexuality as a valid expression of human activity. In any case, Bishop Spong's antipathy to anything even remotely biblical or conservative literally oozes from his writings and talks (I honestly doubt he even notices it, it is so ubiquitous). Note, for example, his comments about David Wells from the same book, pp. 202-203:
This God is not a parent who will reward or punish me for my virtues or shortcomings. This God is rather a power, a presence that calls me into responsibility, into adulthood, into self-reliance, into living for others, and into contributing to the well-being of all humanity. This Infinite Beyond in the midst of my life invites me again and again to abandon my fears, to enter infinity, and to walk into the timelessness of God. So I worship at this shrine, and at the same time I take responsibility for my life and, to the degree that I am able, for the life of this world. That is where ethics emerge. So long as I possess life, I will live it deeply, richly, and fully. I will expect no reward for my commitment to these ethical principles save the reward of a life well lived. I will not blame my failures or my shortcomings on some external God, for God is part of who I am. Is that so novel an idea as to be unacceptable? Not to me it isn't, for I have entered the exile. The theistic God whose will constituted the ethics of the past is dead. So my search for the basis of ethics to guide me beyond the exile drives me back to the same arena where a non-theistic God was found and where Christ was redefined. My journey through the exile is beginning to take shape.
WILL THIS NONTHEISTIC VIEW of God, the promise of a new spirituality based upon the building of a life that is full, free, and whole, motivate human beings to a journey into the transcending mystery of God in the future? Will pilgrims in the exile seek God in the ground and depth of their own being if there is no perceived and obvious reward? Is it enough to suggest that a life lived fully, marked with an expansive love, called into a new being is its own reward? Is there hope for life beyond this world apart from the images of our theistic past? (Emphasis mine).
Time, America’s foremost news magazine, ran a recent cover story on heaven, entitled “Does Heaven Exist?” That question itself is one that our ancient forebears would never have raised. Interestingly enough, Time’s reporters sought in vain to find any robust conviction about heaven, even among traditional believers. “It is a boring place or a silly myth or something people in-vent or all of the above,”Time quoted theologian Jeffrey Burton Russell as saying. Even David Wells, a conservative theologian from the faculty of the evangelical Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts, had this to say about heaven: “We would ex-pect to hear of it in the evangelical churches, but I don’t hear it at all. I don't think heaven is even a blip on the Christian screen from one end of the denominational spectrum to the other. The more perplexing question is, "What explains this?"In any case, the challenge is going to be compounded by the reality of a large gay/lesbian component to the audience as well. Hence, I would request your prayers once again for the debate; the conference that comes before it, and the cruise thereafter.
A contemporary evangelical professor thus admits to being mystified by this phenomenon. The fact is that his evangelical credentials mean that he could not possibly embrace the answer for which his own question yearns. The demise of heaven is a direct result of the death of the theistic image of God on which the evangelical tradition, with its personalistic view of heaven, rests. People who understand heaven as the reward given for a life of faith and work must also understand God as a personal deity who hands out rewards and punishments based on person-al deservings. Such a God is a thinly disguised parent figure who controls the child’s behavior with a series of threats and promises. This God was perceived as keeping intimate and copi-ous notes on human behavior. He—and the theistic God was almost always a he—was not unlike another supernatural figure that we allow to enter our consciousness every December. Does it not occur to us to see the similarities between this theistic God image and Santa Claus?
Also, a quick note for our supporters: we discovered just this week that the thieves who broke into our offices at the end of August stole our camera tripods. Those of you who have higher-end video cameras know what that means, cost wise. I also discovered more fraud being perpetuated because of what they stole from me as well. The problems from that single incident continue. This period of weeks is by far the most intensive of my entire year, and I truly desire to see both the Shishko debate and the Spong debate made available as quickly as possible. With Pulpit Crimes coming out this Thursday and everything else that is going on, please remember us before the Lord, and remember that we are a small ministry that is supported by folks like you. We need your assistance at this time.
For Those in the Phoenix Area
10/28/2006 - James WhiteFor those who might be looking to get some needed credits in your continuing education, or who just wish to further your studies, I will be teaching Special Studies in Philosophy--Christian Apologetics, a 2-hour graduate level course for the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary during Jan term, 1/2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 12, 5:15 to 9:05pm. The class will meet at the Arizona Regional Campus, 2240 North Hayden Road, Suite 101, in Scottsdale. We will be covering general apologetics issues (i.e., presuppositional vs. evidential apologetics), canon and transmission issues as they relate to apologetics, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam. We will start with the Shabir Ally debate just to wake folks up and get them out of their comfort zone. You can contact the campus at 480-941-1993 for more information.
10/26/2006 - James WhiteThe pre-publication price on Pulpit Crimes from Solid Ground has only a few days left on it, so grab it while you can, and, while you are running by the website, take advantage of their sale running through 10/31. And, if you think that is a Halloween sale, well, you need to buy many more books from them, like, on Church history and the Reformation and the like.
Also, Baker has put out a new book, Justification in Perspective: Historical Developments and Contemporary Challenges edited by Bruce L. McCormack. One of the articles in the book is titled "Justification in the Early Fathers" by Dr. Nick Needham, who is also the pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church in Inverness, Scotland, where I have spoken a few times over the past couple of years. In fact, I was speaking in Inverness the day I first got word about the Caners appearing on the Founders Ministries blog. I've gotten to know Dr. Needham and greatly appreciate his spirit and his scholarship.
Finally, today on the DL I think I'm going to mess up the schedule a bit and respond to some of Emir Caner's sermon from TRBC on the 15th. Be listening at 4pm MST---whenever on earth that is where you are today!
Dr. Hartley Responds to Paul Owen
10/25/2006 - James WhiteFor some reason, Paul Owen is addicted to my blog. It's sorta sad, really. I have to be dragged kicking and screaming to his oxymoronically monickered blog, but for some reason he loves reading mine. I have lost track of how many times something has appeared under his name shortly after the topic came up here on this blog.
In any case, you may recall that Paul Owen is the
Svendsen is correct in noticing that I do not list the heirs of the Radical Reformation among the congregations of Christ’s visible Catholic Church on earth. Svendsen and his evangelical brethren do indeed have a noble tradition of their own, stemming backwards in time to Smith Wigglesworth, Billy Sunday and Charles Finney, and further still to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Fausto Socinus, Michael Servetus, Caspar Schwenckfeld, Menno Simons, Conrad Grebel, Balthasar Hubmaier and the Zwickau Prophets, and yet beyond to the Montanists, Novatians, Donatists and various Gnostic sects of the early centuries of the Church. But it is a trajectory of figures and movements of varying doctrinal orthodoxy outside the Catholic Church (though of course containing many faithful believers in Jesus within their ranks).Eric rightly knocked that one out of the ballpark, though, I must confess, I disagreed with Eric's statement that this paragraph illustrates Owen's ignorance of Evangelicalism and its beliefs. No, my experience has led me to conclude Owen is not ignorant of Evangelicalism and its beliefs. He simply refuses to be honest about the issues he addresses, in particular when he is seeking to express his disdain for those who hold to certain views.
In any case, when I posted Dr. Hartley's comments on Spurgeon's sermon regarding Esau, fairly quickly Owen went to press with an attack upon his position, running out the ol' "hyper-Calvinist" argument (this is the same man who has directed us in the past to the excellent "exegesis" offered by Arminians). I was not even aware of the response before Dr. Hartley sent me this pdf in response to Owen. I asked if I might post it, as I found it useful, and he graciously acceded.
On the DL...Yesterday...
10/25/2006 - James WhiteDue to some web difficulties we were unable to post the file of the DL until today. I covered the Jerry Vines sermon from First Baptist Church Woodstock. Well, more accurately, I started the process, as it was not a short sermon. Here's the program.
Thanks to Many
10/24/2006 - James WhiteI would like to thank many folks that this book is being printed even as you are reading this blog today. Those who support A&O, the folks who helped in editing, Rich Pierce and our volunteers like Dave Gere, Mike Gaydosh and the folks at Solid Ground, Mike O'Fallon, Chris Arnzen, my family, the folks at PRBC, and, especially for his willingness to so quickly fill our need, Hugo Huizar for our cover art---to all of you, my heart-felt thanks. I pray this little book will be a blessing to God's people, and especially, to those who bless God's people by ministering His Word from the pulpit.
10/23/2006 - James WhiteAn uneventful trip back from Long Island, thankfully. My major challenge right now is fully "shifting" my focus from events of the recent weeks to the Spong debate, conference, and cruise. I won't be able to fully do that, since Tom Ascol and I will be making, in essence, the same presentations (though with a little more time, I'm sure!) that we desired to make in Lynchburg on Thursday night at the conference. I am completely confident of what I will be facing in the debate with John Shelby Spong, and I am fully aware that once again the debate will not be about Sodom and Gomorrah or Leviticus 18 and 20 or Romans 1 or the meaning of arsenokoites. Oh, those things will be mentioned, I'm sure, but the debate will be, "can anyone possibly even define what 'biblical Christianity' is in the first place?" It will be a debate that turns upon a fundamental conflict of world-views, one that allows for objective divine revelation, one that precludes it completely.
Of course, there will be a large group of homosexual advocates in the audience, so my challenge will be to handle the issues of the debate while at the same time seeking to communicate truth with clarity to those in attendance. I do covet your prayers for that debate.
On a related topic, a friend forwarded a URL giving an example of collegiate debate. Compare this kind of high-speed presentation with what you must do to present a coherent and edifying presentation in a theological context.
Dr. Hartley on Spurgeon and Romans 9: Lessons for Us All
10/21/2006 - James WhiteA number of years ago I made a presentation on the impact of the Donatist Controversy and the Pelagian Controversy on the theology of Augustine. I have repeated the essence of that material a number of times in various venues. To encapsulate it, even the most brilliant of Christian theologians and leaders are impacted by the contexts in which they live and minister, and in particular, by the controversies that define their age. The reason Warfield could rightly say that the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the victory of Augustine's doctrine of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the church is that the one came from his controvery against the Pelagians and the other from his role in the Donatist controversy. From afar, modern readers can sometimes wonder how ancient writers could have been so "blind" to their internal self-contradictions, but distance and time are convenient aids that we do not get to have in looking at ourselves.
The same truths apply to our beloved Spurgeon. A five-pointer he most certainly was. However, his context was not our context. Oh, surely, his context is much more like our own than that of Augustine. But, as I learned when I spoke at his church at a ministerial fraternal earlier this year, the British context contains an element that only a small number of Reformed folks in the States have to deal with on a regular basis. Spurgeon was very, very sensitive to the charge of hyper-Calvinism, and he struggled long and hard against the movement, which persists, in fact, to this day in England. Surely his sharp arrows likewise dug deep into the heart of Arminianism many times in his sermons, but since he preached so clearly the doctrines of grace, including, no matter how often modern men prove themselves ignorant on the subject, limited atonement, he was particularly concerned to make sure to distance himself from those who did not call men to faith and repentance, and did not preach man's duty to do so. This concern lies behind certain inconsistencies that we can detect on an exegetical and theological level in the Great Master's explications.
Last week I made note of Ergun Caner's citation of a couple of sentences from Spurgeon yet once again, and linked to his entire sermon on Jacob and Esau. Dr. Don Hartley, whose work I have noted and commended on his blog before, dropped me a note on Spurgeon's sermon, and given his insights, I have asked if I could post it here on the blog, and he graciously gave me permission. The comments below on Romans 9:20-23 and the one who has been "fitted for destruction" parallel my own in The Potter's Freedom and likewise my refutation of the same argument put forward by Lenski but often repeated today by those who deny the clear message of God's sovereignty over the clay.
Hello James. I enjoyed the read of Spurgeon but I'm sure you noticed a few inconsistencies in his sermon. Yes, he rightly rejects the "love less" view and he also notes that divine hatred here is a statment of Esau's non-elect status (Rom 9:13). He also notes rightly that this chapter deals with individual not national election. This is a profitable area of the sermon. But, I think Spurgeon gets off track on the Esau issue. Romans 9 says God hated [did not elect] Esau "even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose in election would stand, not by works but by his calling.)" (NET Bible). Thus we would hold Paul teaches that God elects eternally and unconditionally, that is, based on absolutely no merit actual or forseen in an individual but purely out of his own good pleasure where he arbitrarily chooses some and passes over others. That God chooses any for salvation is pure grace. The flip side of this act of choosing is not choosing others thereby guaranteeing that those unchosen will be damned. Thus by the one act of eternal and unconditional election, God predestines both the elect to salvation by positively securing their salvation in the atonement and the non-elect to damnation by negatively passing over them in election (reprobation) and not providing salvation for them. This is double-predestination. Those who say that double-predestination elects some to damnation seriously misrepresent the position. No one is elected to damnation; they are predestined to damnation by not being elected to salvation, and justly so.
But when Spurgeon goes into the life of Esau, he attempts to point out issues in the OT narrative that would bring God's derserved hatred. See the problem? This is after Esau is born and based on works precisely the opposite of what Paul says. Finally, Spurgeon fails outright to understand (or at least appreciate) the issue of double-predestination. As a pastor, I can see why he avoids this but as an exegete this is inexcusable. He translates the Greek perfect participle as middle and not passive in Rom 9:22 (passive: "the objects of wrath prepared for destruction" [NET Bible].). Instead, he says, "But it does not say anything about fitting men for destruction; they fitted themselves. They did that: God had nothing to do with it. But when men are saved, God fits them for that. All the glory to God in salvation; all the blame to men in damnation." Romans 9 says the very thing Spurgeon denies: the non-elect individual is "fitted [by God] for destruction." The passive voice is divine and thus he is prepared by God. How God does this is via preterition (passing over the non-elect) unto reprobation. So double-predestination is asymmetrical for sure, that is, God does not elect to salvation and elect to damnation but rather he elects some to salvation and passes over the rest to certain damnation---hence asymmetrical double-predestination. But there is no doubt in Romans 9 of the double in double-predestination. Spurgeon's middle voice interpretation ("they fitted themselves") is easily refuted when given the context of the potter and the clay as well as upon examining the lexical issue. Does clay form itself? No. This sermon, however, is a good example of a five-point Calvinist that shys away from the harsher elements of biblical theology, exegetical precision, and consistent theism. But it is this kind of inconsistency that gives non-Calvinists a foot in the door in a manner of speaking.
One final matter. That hell was created for the devil and his angels supposedly rules out this double-predestination interpretation. But all that the text may be said to imply about preparing hell for angels and not man is that hell was created before man fell; not that certain men were not ordained to eternal punishment or as Paul says here, "destruction." Again, one could wish Spurgeon was more consistent here given the fact that he is indeed a five-point Calvinist.
All the best,
Don Hartley, Ph.D.
A Very Enjoyable and Useful Evening
10/20/2006 - James WhiteLast night Pastor Bill Shishko of the Franklin Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church joined me on Long Island for a debate on baptism where I defended the position of "baptism for disciples alone." As you can imagine, given that Bill has been our moderator during the past few Great Debates, and also given that Pastor Rich Jensen--himself a former homicide detective--was moderating, the debate was run in a timely and fair manner! Even the audience questions were on-target and useful, a rarity for most debates to be sure. I do not know how many folks were there, and have not heard any estimates. Five hundred, perhaps? In any case, the debate was what we had both hoped, a clear example of how brothers can engage in spirited and pointed debate in an intramural fashion, without the rancor that some, anyway, seem to bring to the table.
I am waiting for information on how we will get hold of the audio of the debate. A single DVD style camera was on hand, so I do not yet know about all the arrangements as far as making the debate available and in what formats. We will let you know when we have that information.
Today I will be on Iron Sharpens Iron with Chris Arnzen discussing Islam. In fact, I have to leave in just a little while, which might explain the brevity of this article!
Greetings from Long Island
10/18/2006 - James WhiteDespite getting to visit with the kind folks at the Philadelphia airport for far longer than I would have liked, and getting soaked getting from the airport to the hotel (you folks on the east coast have a roof problem---what's with all this water falling from the sky? Very strange for us Arizonans), I have settled in for a week's worth of ministry here on Long Island. Tonight I speak in Franklin Square on Islam and Christianity, tomorrow night is the baptism debate, Friday I'll be on Iron Sharpens Iron once again discussing Islam, and Sunday I'll be in Massapequa. Yes, I know, I mentioned almost all of that below.
While in the Philly airport yesterday I got on line and for some reason, I'm not sure why, I ended up doing a search on my own name in Yahoo! Now, I normally don't use Yahoo! for searches, and I'm not even sure how I got into that search (may have been an inadvertent cut/paste), but the first item that came up stopped me immediately. Go ahead and use Yahoo! to search on "James White" and you will find a sponsored link from Dan Corner, yes, that Dan Corner, with the line that begins, "What James White thinks is the gospel of grace is really a license to...." For some reason, at the moment I'm writing this, his website is down so I can't finish the quote (ironic justice, perhaps?). In any case, I was amazed that a man who utterly unwilling to engage the real issues of soteriology (as documented above) would actually pay money to make that kind of false accusation. Perhaps he is upset that if you Google his name my website is the first up?
For those wondering about the interview I did on Monday with two students from Liberty, I have been informed that they will not be allowed to air it on WWMC. I am not shocked, of course. The young men asked good questions, and their questions reveal the "spin" that is flying around Liberty, for they report, in giving the background, what they themselves have been told by the leadership. As the interview is going to be podcast by them anyway, I am making it available here. It is about 28 minutes in length. Since we got to all of the key issues, it might be a useful link to share with those who want to hear what happened rather than read a lot of documentation. My wife just about spit nails when she heard that the interviewers had been told that Liberty had paid for my plane tickets (that's just simply untrue, and given she booked them herself, she knows it). "How can people behave like that?" she asked incredulously. Good question, good question indeed.
The audio file might be a good thing to point folks to if they have had the misfortune of reading this article in the Baptist News. You will note that Tom Ascol and I read it differently. That may be because he is a lot nicer than I am, but it also may be because I simply cannot have made it any clearer, said it any more strongly, that the issue here was one side reneging on a signed agreement. Sure there were lots of other issues that came up over the months of negotiation and discussion, but the fact is any report on this situation that does not start, and finish, with that one glaring fact, documented here once again (I like the screen-shot: it is sort of hard to argue with) from Emir Caner's e-mail of 9/27/06, it has completely missed the point. Instead, the article focuses upon details of discussions from over many months, making it appear that it was a minor dispute over a few minutes, in the end, that mattered. This is simply untrue, but it sure does illustrate why public discourse on political issues is always bogged down in a morass of "spin" that precludes meaningful and unifying conclusions. As long as one side does not want to speak the truth, there is always a way to keep talking about things that just don't matter. But the part that bothered me the most was as follows:
White disputed the notion that the debate was cancelled over a small amount of time, saying the cross-examination time “was being diminished to the point of being irrelevant.” He also objected to the Caners’ insistence that the affirmative be given the first and last word.The only way any of these citations make sense is to make clear note of the pre-existing agreement reneged upon by the Caners! The cross-examination time was but one of a number of issues, including the unilateral granting to the Caners of first and last word, and the over-all time length. But these were minor issues in comparison with the fact that there should not have been any negotiations going on less than two weeks before the debate. Negotiations were over. When you are ten days out from a debate you do not simply write to the other side and say, "Surprise! We are taking over. This is how it will be done, no discussion, we are in charge."
On his website, White questioned the Caners’ intentions, writing, “Upon what basis could anyone trust that the debate would go forward as promised even if we agreed, yet again, to another modified format?”
I checked with my office, and there were no requests made for any interviews from Baptist News. I would have done my best to provide to Baptist News the same kind of full and open responses I provided in the above linked interview with the young men from Liberty. Another sad chapter in this entire saga, one that has shed significant light on the political nature of so much of evangelicalism today.
A Few Quick Items Before Travel
10/16/2006 - James WhiteFor those who have encountered yet another "Ergun Caner Uses Small Parts of Spurgeon Sermons" post on his website, enjoy reading the entire sermon. Remember, Ergun thinks Spurgeon denied limited atonement, too. He is tremendously selective as to what he will respond to and what he will not. I have said many times, the amazing thing about the statement "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated," is not Esau I hated. It is "Jacob I loved." If you don't start there, you'll never make heads or tails out of biblical theology.
I'm headed to Long Island, where I will be speaking at the Frankline Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church Wednesday evening at 7:30pm on Christianity and Islam. Then Pastor Shishko and I will debate the proper objects of baptism (credobaptism vs. oikobaptism) on Thursday evening. On Sunday I'll be at the Massapequa Church of God in...yes, Massapequa, just south of the Southern State, with Pastor Jim Capo and his fine folks. Then I get home on Monday, Lord willing, and have about a week to finish preparation for the conference, Spong debate, and cruise.
Obviously, having to re-arrange flight schedules, shipping our cameras and equipment for the Spong debate, etc., means this is an intensively expensive period of time. If you are in the minority of folks (and I assure you, it is a minority) who believes addressing issues such as homosexuality against those who would teach others in the name of Christianity to ignore God's law is important and useful, please remember to support us at this time. Just today I read a note from a very well known theologian identifying the Spong debate as worthless. I wanted to write and ask this well respected individual just who today was doing what the apostles did in engaging even those who "spoke against" the faith in public disputation (Acts 17 and 18, for example)? It is nice and safe behind the ivory walls of academia, but I don't recall the apostles ever building those walls for themselves, or anyone else.
Mike O'Fallon has put together an article documenting his repeated attempts to invite Ergun Caner to do a one-on-one debate with me on the subject of God's freedom in salvation. He's been at it a long time, and given Caner's accusation that he will not even consider it due to our lack of trustworthiness, it is good to see the one thing the other side has sort of forgotten about: documentation. Here is what Mike had to say: ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart, or Did Pharaoh?
10/13/2006 - James WhiteYesterday on the DL I mentioned the appearance on Roman Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong's blog of a brief statement on Romans 9. As much as I wanted to respond to it myself, I had to finish a project by last night (does a little after midnight count?). So I asked Colin Smith, who has written for this website before (you can find his articles in our apologetics sections) if he would be willing to put something together in response to Armstrong, and he was very kind to do so. Very fast movement...for a British fellow! So here is Colin Smith's response to Dave Armstrong on Romans 9 and the hardening of Pharaoh's heart.
Passages like Exodus 4:21 and Romans 9:17-18 have been a cause of discussion and soul-searching among Christians for centuries due to the uncomfortable image of God they seem to portray. On the one hand, the Bible assures us that God takes no pleasure in wickedness (Psalm 5:4) and from all that Scripture teaches about Gods holiness and hatred of sin, it is inconceivable that He should be made out to be the author of sin. However, in these passages, the Bible presents us with the notion that God actively caused Pharaohs heart to harden when Moses related to him the divine injunction to release the Israelites. This hardening of heart in turn led Pharaoh to disobey God. Disobedience to God is sin, so it would seem to follow that Gods action in hardening Pharaohs heart caused Pharaoh to sin. The Lord is, therefore, apparently portrayed in such passages as putting within a person a desire to commit sin, making Him the author of sin in the persons heart.
There are two common resolutions to this apparent problem. First there is the suggestion that Pharaohs sin was the product of his free will, and God merely saw this development within Pharaohs psyche and permitted it to fulfill His purposes. God did not put the thought into Pharaohs head, and He did not direct Pharaohs intentions toward disobedience; He just took advantage of the carnal stubbornness of the Egyptian ruler to advance His own plan. Advocates of this position consider the language of passages such as the above-cited Exodus 4:21 that indicate God had an active role in the hardening process to be shorthand for God allowed Pharaoh to harden his own heart, and He then used that hardened heart. In a recent blog article, Roman Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong argued that it is necessary to understand the poetic nature of the Hebrew language, allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, and understand such passages in the light of all of what the Bible teaches. In this regard, he cites passages that explicitly state that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Exodus 8:15, 32, et al.) which, for him, add that particular nuance that alleviates him from having to defend God against accusations of positively ordaining evil. ...
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Today on the DL
10/12/2006 - James WhiteTook calls mainly on the Caner situation and likewise looked a little bit at the Jerry Vines sermon at First Baptist Woodstock, a sermon that will definitely give us a lengthy series of Radio Free Geneva programs. However, it looks like there is only one template out there for anti-Calvinism sermons, even repeating the same errors (like misquoting Matthew 23:37). Anyway, here is the program, and, please note, we are making changes (improvements!) to our live server, and, we are greatly improving our archives as well. This means those of you who have become accustomed to our old rotation of URLs for the DL's will need to look a little more closely at the current ones, as the format has changed. Here is today's.
Sad, Sad Day in Lynchburg (Updated)
10/12/2006 - James WhiteThere is little need to comment much on Ergun Caner's Q&A on his website regarding the debate. Any person who has read the materials Tom Ascol and I have provided can only shake his or her head in amazement at the behavior of Dr. Caner. He insists upon ignoring the signed agreement and the documentation of its existence, and it is truly embarrassing to see him ignoring that 800 lb. gorilla sitting on the desk of the President of Liberty Seminary. The documentation has been provided by only one side (note the utter lack of citation of e-mails, signed or otherwise, dates, etc., by Ergun Caner), and the other side has to use the bully pulpit in hopes that the large portion of his followers will not Google this subject and find out the truth. If Dr. Caner actually believes what he is saying, he will add a new question to his Q&A: "Dr. Caner, given the documentation of a signed agreement between the two sides, could you please explain why you reneged on your agreement? And if you say Dr. White ended the debate, could you explain why it was Dr. O'Donnell who first wrote to all parties on 10/4, only twelve days before the debate, not Dr. White, throwing out your signed agreement? Does Dr. White control Dr. O'Donnell?"
I would ask all Liberty students, faculty, and supporters to consider for a moment what the President of Liberty Seminary is now saying. While ignoring the signature of his brother, provided as his representative in the discussions, he is attacking my character and my trustworthiness for refusing to allow him to renege upon a signed agreement! He is then using this dishonest attack as his reason for refusing to debate in Orlando, or anywhere else, even though we have proven our ability to engage in these debates in a fair and reasoned manner with a wide, wide range of opponents over the course of 16 years, while he has yet to provide example one of his capacity to do so. Is this the behavior that should be exemplified by one of the largest Christian universities in the United States? A sad, sad day indeed.
One of my ops in channel has posted a very insightful blog entry about Ergun Caner's highly questionable scholarship. As is the tendency with us mad jihadist Calvinists, he provides lot of links to direct documentation. This blog entry focuses upon true historical revisionism regarding Balthasar Hubmaier who Caner claims was killed by the "Reformers." Ferdinand was a Reformer? Really? I guess that explains why Caner can redefine "hyper-Calvinism" on his own authority, and teach his students that Spurgeon denied limited atonement, too? I guess I should not wonder at Ergun's changing history that took place only a week ago now, when he's been at it so long!
Dr. Falwell, you have a problem, sir. You need to address it before the integrity of the institution you have worked so long to build is irreparably damaged.
OK, This Just Isn't Right
10/11/2006 - James WhiteBill McKeever just forwarded this notice from the Deseret News. Look innocuous? It isn't. Notice this line, "Along with his wife, Sandra, Mr. Tanner received public criticism after studying the authenticity of the Salamander Letter, which was later determined to be a forgery by Mark Hofmann containing facts about the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith." I don't know about you, but it sounds like this writer is trying to say the Tanners promoted the Salamander Letter and its authenticity. The Tanners were the ones who did not trust the letter. They were suspicious of it from the start, and they stood firm even when the LDS Church leadership and numerous other sources were proclaiming it authentic! My own ministry avoided jumping on the "White Salamander Letter" bandwagon because we trusted the Tanners and their gut instincts. And, of course, they were proven correct.
To put such a line in an article about Jerald's death is simply wrong. I would love to believe this was just a major mistake, but it is hard to see how it could be.
Today on the DL
10/10/2006 - James WhiteHad a wonderful time with Tom Ascol on the DL today, taking calls and discussing, at first, the Caner situation, but moving beyond that fairly quickly to broader issues of the gospel and the like. Good calls, a hopefully very useful program. Here it is.
10/10/2006 - James WhiteJust a few quick items before the Dividing Line this morning with Tom Ascol. Pastor McBrien will not be joining us, which disappoints me, but I am sure the situation in Lynchburg this day is quite volatile. It would not have had to have been.
Emir Caner has posted an article on his website. Emir titled his article "OCD: Obsessive Calvinistic Disorder." You know what I'm going to do today? I'm going to ask the Lord to help me keep a smile on my face and try to interpret things in their best possible light. So I am going to smile, chuckle, and say, "Hey, Emir, thanks for the humor. Obsessive Calvinistic Disorder. That's a good one. Of course, I'd rather have OCD than HAS (Human Autonomy Syndrome)!" In fact, I needed a good chuckle this morning, and to help everyone else with just such a chuckle, I will post a cartoon Angelz just sent to me that absolutely positively nails the essence of this situation below. Yes, I needed to smile and laugh today. And to all my dour Calvinist friends: try it. Your face won't break, trust me.
The rest of Emir's response, outside of leaving out some rather important facts, is far more respectful and useful than anything Ergun Caner posted, and I appreciate that.
Now, back to the serious stuff for a moment and, outside of the DL today, hopefully for the last time for a while, at least regarding this particular incident. It will be stated that the debate was cancelled over six minutes of time. That is untrue. Remember, I tried to deal with Dr. O'Donnell, all the while experiencing the incredible silence of the Caner brothers, who had negotiated the agreement. They allowed O'Donnell to throw their agreement "under the bus" and said nothing while I struggled, while trying to write a book and prepare for three debates over the course of the next month, to reason with him, not only about the agreement, but about video taping rights as well. What is not being said is that the very first thing torn out was the cross-examination that we had specifically asked for in the agreement arrived at. I have said it repeatedly in the past, and I'll say it again: in theological debate the truth is normally determined by cross-examination. I know that is not the case in scholastic speed-talking, but it is in this context, a context that is unfamiliar territory for all involved on the other side. So, cross-ex was being diminished to the point of being irrelevant. Further, and again, this must be explained by the Caners, they had been given first and last word and not once did anyone on their side even attempt to defend this action in light of the fact that the only reason that advantage is given to the affirmative is because they have the burden of proof. There was no need for this in our debate because of the lack of an affirmable/deniable thesis statement! We had agreed that whoever went first, did not go last. Even and fair. This was changed, no reason was given, and no compromise offered. And finally, the real reason that neither Ergun nor Emir Caner have yet to even acknowledge is the one that all fair minded people who have read the documentation knows was the real "deal breaker:" the Caners allowed their word to be violated unilaterally, making trusting them impossible. They gave their word, they signed the agreement (see screen shot below), they made it clear they would change the agreement if told to do so. Upon what basis could anyone trust that the debate would go forward as promised even if we agreed, yet again, to another modified format?
Now, Emir raises the issue of the length of the debate. Again we have the problem of not being familiar with theological debate. I have not done a lot of four-man debates, but obviously, when you are bringing men in from all over the country, you do not do so while limiting them to a tiny amount of time during which to speak. I just checked the length on the one debate I did that had four men involved at Boston College (please note the parallel there) and it was four hours, twenty minutes in length. I do not recall anyone leaving that debate, by the way. Anyway, my one-on-one debates on Long Island run 3.5 hours regularly. Hence, all we were asking for was the same length as my normal one-on-one debates in the Great Debate Series. This is too long for a four man debate on a massively wide topic? Seriously? Since the debate was to start at 6pm (the original invitation said 7pm, so, they had no problem going to 9:30 back then), that would have taken us all the way to the tremendously late hour of...9:30pm. This is too long? I hardly think so.
So in any case, I hope, honestly, this is my last blog entry on this topic. I can't see how there is anything more to be said. The facts are out there, and I personally do not believe we are going to get beyond the impasse of "We chose to unilaterally violate our own word and scrap the agreement we signed, and we chose to do so less than two weeks prior to the debate." That is what happened, the documentation is unquestionable.
So, to close this topic, I simply must post without a doubt the most "spot on" observation I have seen about this entire debacle. Our good friend Angelz is a cartoonist in the Chicago area. His work is of the highest level, as anyone who has reviewed his work on my blog in the past knows. But beyond his exceptional skills at transferring real faces to the canvas is his insight into the reality of apologetic and theological situations. I have always appreciated the fact that what makes Angelz' cartoons so good is that they capture the essence of a situation. If you don't read his titles you miss his point. And so this morning Angelz weighed in on the Caner situation. Now, I know that the same folks who detest the editorial cartoons will dislike anything Angelz says, seemingly thinking that only the written word should be used, never the drawn image. But Angelz is making a statement in art that is absolutely positively identical to what I've been saying all along: this debate ended because of a fundamental lack of trust, and by reminding all of us (I guess some young folks might not get this one, now that I think about it) of an image that is part of our common cultural experience, he has nailed the situation down perfectly. By the way, as you look at this, think of this: could anyone on the Caner's side draw one that is as truthful? And that, my friends, proves the case. And now, Angelz graphic commentary:
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Shining a Little Light on Ergun Caner
10/09/2006 - James WhiteA few months ago I took more than a little heat for posting the e-mails that had been exchanged between myself and Ergun Caner (even though, as they show, he himself had simply requested that they be posted en toto, which I did). When they asked that the second "round" of e-mails be kept private, Tom Ascol and I said, "No way. Public debate, public discussion." Again I was attacked by many for posting them. Brett O'Donnell, though he did not seem to even read them, said I was the most unprofessional person he had ever met for so doing. Etc. and etc.
Time has a way of taking care of such things, as we are now seeing. One side in this situation has been transparent and reasonable. The other anything but. And how can this be proven? Well, it's called documentation. We have it. They don't.
Ergun Caner has posted a statement on his website regarding the debate. As expected, it fails to deal with the facts of the situation. If Dr. Caner cannot be bothered to worry about the facts of Romans 9:11 when preaching behind the pulpit why should all those troublesome e-mails written by his own hand bother him?
Now, let's shine some light on Ergun Caner's statement. Let's remember what has been documented. The Caners, via Emir Caner, agreed to a debate format. Emir Caner's name appears on the e-mail, as I documented earlier today. Now, will Ergun admit this? Will he explain why they acted as if they could negotiate the format and rules with us, if they in fact did not believe they could? Or will he explain why they thought they could but then threw their word out the window and allowed a third party to step in twelve days before the debate and throw out everything they had agreed to? Obviously, if his statement is to be meaningful, it will acknowledge the agreement and explain their sudden change of heart. Oh, and it will likewise explain why Ergun Caner remained stone silent from Wednesday, October 4th until this morning, October 9th. Let's see how well the statement fairs in the light of what is demanded by simple integrity and honesty:
The definition of revisionist history is often as simple as someone wanting it to be true.True, but rather irrelevant in a situation where the facts are documented.
As I have the entire Reformed community up in arms over my statement concerning the debate, I would simply like to put an end to the speculation.Is it possible Ergun Caner does not understand why folks objected to his false accusation of hyper-Calvinism? Probably not, since Ergun Caner does not believe that he is under any obligation to use terminology in a consistent, scholarly fashion. He can make it up as he goes along. I was told recently by someone at Liberty that Caner had actually stated that any person who held to any of the points of Calvinism is a hyper-Calvinist. Does that make a lick of sense? No more than saying Esau was hated because he was evil in light of Romans 9:11 does. But Ergun Caner is not constrained by the same canons of reason, logic, history, or scholarship, that bind the rest of us. He is a law unto himself. The celestial bodies of definition and meaning are meant to assume their orbits at his command.
On Friday as I was flying to a speaking engagement I was informed by my office that Drs. White and Ascol (either one or both of them) objected to the rules established by the moderator, Brett O'Donnell.Excuse me, but this would require us to believe that neither Dr. Caner, nor anyone on his staff, had bothered to check his e-mail since Wednesday morning. Otherwise, he would have been fully aware of the conflict and the main issue: whether he would stand behind his word or not. This would also require us to believe that Emir Caner had not contacted his brother about the situation over the course of nearly sixty hours. Is this what he is asking us to believe? That he, too, was completely caught off guard by O'Donnell's actions? I would like to know if this is the assertion being made. ...
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The Caner Spin
10/09/2006 - James WhiteI get the feeling Ergun Caner is spending a good deal of time at his computer today. However, all of the responses I have seen so far sort of neglect one little thing: the facts. Instead, he seems intent upon redefining theological terms and misrepresenting others, a sad consistency in what we have seen from the President of Liberty Seminary over the past number of months. The "hyper-Calvinist" label seems to be all he can come up with. For example, he wrote to Gary Fox,
I am standing right here.The "problem with authority" means I did not accept Brett O'Donnell's taking over the debate and throwing out an agreement that even Ergun Caner admitted existed prior to last Wednesday. I am sorry Dr. Caner is choosing to spin this situation and attack me with falsehoods in the process. It only makes the situation worse. I had hoped to not have to do this, but the truth must be known in the face of his falsehoods. Everyone knows he is just throwing dirt with the theological silliness he is putting forth. Remember, this is the man who turned Romans 9 on its head and who teaches his students Spurgeon denied particular redemption. His knowledge of the issues is highly questionable. But let's keep two things in mind, especially for any LU students who might be dropping by to check on the facts of the matter. First, Ergun Caner has been invited at least five times that I know of to debate me one-on-one, and has a standing invitation to do so in just a matter of weeks in Orlando, in fact. If he is, as he says, "standing right here," then I invite him to "stand right there" in Orlando. I have actually agreed to debate him the night before I debate John Shelby Spong. Why? Well, Michael O'Fallon at Sovereign Cruises has already paid for the 1200 seat ballroom at the hotel for that night and is willing to accommodate the event. The venue is there, and unlike what has taken place before, we have a long and documented track record in holding to our word and debating fairly. Dr. Caner has none. So, if he is "standing right here" then let him do so in Orlando. I'm willing to do it, is he?
I am ready for the debate.
Just because JW has a problem with authority, and cannot manipulate the situation, he backs out.
Anyone who holds to predestination to hell, and the possibility of infant damnation, even in theory, is a hyper Calvinist.
He is hyper Calvinist. Now everyone knows it.
Secondly, we need to establish, with finality, the fact that a signed agreement existed that the Caners reneged upon, even if they are now saying they did so out of some kind of "obedience" to Brett O'Donnell. If it was their view that O'Donnell was in charge of the debate format, why did they bother arguing with us for months on the topic? Why did Emir Caner engage in phone conversations with Tom Ascol if he did not think he had the right to negotiate regarding format and topic? Do the Caners not realize that their current spin means they were negotiating in bad faith only a matter of weeks ago? Such is simply beyond reason. On September 13th Tom Ascol wrote:
I have taken the liberty to go back over Ergun's email from May 11 and have tried to adjust times to fit into a 3-hour allotment. Following are the results. Please let me know if this is acceptable or if we need to make further adjustments. If this is acceptable then we can all begin making preparations accordingly. If it is not, please make adjustments as soon as possible. Thanks!As has been the case all along, it took quite some time to get a reply, but Emir Caner did, in fact, respond on 9/27. I am providing a screen shot because Emir Caner includes his signature as a graphic in his e-mails. He has a distinctive sign-off, and anyone who has received an e-mail from him will recognize that this is, indeed, his affirmative, his signature.
According to my system, six minutes (not two weeks) after I received Emir's note, Tom replied,
Thanks, Emir. I will plan accordingly.Those are the facts. Now, if Dr. Caner wants to ask his readers to believe that our refusal to allow that agreed upon format, order, etc., to be thrown out unilaterally less than two weeks before the debate means we are "backing out," well, he doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for the insight and intellect of his readers. Nor does his constant reference to me as a hyper-Calvinist say much for his view of simple gentlemanly behavior and honesty, let alone for his own scholarship. If Dr. Caner cannot accurately identify the theological position of a Reformed Baptist elder who is active in his own area of expertise (i.e., apologetics with reference to Islam), how can we trust what he says on almost any other subject? This must be the question being asked in Lynchburg by those concerned with the integrity of the seminary located there.
Finally, I would direct anyone interested to my response to Ergun Caner's sermon at the Thomas Road Baptist Church earlier this year wherein he hammered away on the "infants who die in infancy" issue, assuming, incorrectly, of course, that it is definitional of our disagreements. It is not, nor is it the simplistic issue Caner makes it out to be (if you are comfortable making abortion the greatest heaven-filling device ever devised by man, then go ahead and take the simple route. If you are not, you might want to consider giving God the same freedom in saving infants He has in saving adults in light of the reality of the doctrine of original sin and the fact that even infants, fallen sons and daughters of Adam, would require the positive extension of grace to receive salvation). I addressed the topic during the course of the program. I invite in particular LU students or anyone who is in agreement with Ergun Caner, but who has never taken the time to listen to the other side, to download my reply to Ergun Caner's sermon.
After Many Weeks of Silence...
10/09/2006 - James WhitePersonally, I think it is somewhat symbolic of not only the past eight months worth of attempted interaction, but of the entire situation in seeking to have meaningful debate and biblically-based dialogue with the opponents of God's freedom in salvation in the Southern Baptist Convention. You've read the e-mail I posted that was sent to all parties; you've read the immediately preceding article in which I documented various of the aspects of the recent situation leading to the cancellation of the debate. You will note that in all of this, Ergun Caner was silent, and has been silent for a number of months, actually (all replies came from Emir, not Ergun). So what would the first statements by the President of Liberty Seminary be like? Would they be focused upon issues, providing insight and helpful context, free of insults or name-calling? Well, we no longer have to wait. Compare and contrast, if you will. I hardly need provide more commentary:
Calvinist Debate Cancelled by Hyper-calvinist
James White backs out of the debate. Refused to submit to moderator rules. Details will follow tonight.
10/08/2006 - James WhiteDr. O'Donnell has verified with Dr. Falwell that there will be no debate on Monday the 16th. Dr. O'Donnell wrote, "Given that the two sides cannot agree on the terms of the debate in a spirit of compromise he concurs that the debate should not occur and therefore there will not be a debate on October 16 agreeing with the decision that was announced on Friday by Dr. White." As Tom Ascol immediately pointed out on the Founder's blog, that was not, in fact, the reason. The reason was that we had a signed agreement for a three hour debate; the debate had X amount of cross examination; the debate was fair in that it began with one side, ended with the other (neither side had the first/last speaking advantage). But twelve days out Brett O'Donnell of Liberty University assumed what can only be called dictatorial powers over the entirety of the situation. He unilaterally dismissed the agreement reached primarily through the interaction of Tom Ascol and Emir Caner, removing each of the very items that we had requested to get things "back on track" back in July. But the "deal breaker" was not even that, to be honest. The deal breaker was when Emir Caner capitulated to O'Donnell's actions rather than standing firm behind his own name sent on an e-mail confirming the format agreed upon. That was the "deal breaker," for you see, even if we had then worked out something with O'Donnell yet again (making the debate format negotiations the longest in modern history, extending from March to October!), there would be no reason to believe the agreement reached would be honored up to and through the time of the debate. Once Emir Caner reneged on his word (and for a few months now he has represented their side in all negotiations, so I truly doubt he was acting outside of Ergun Caner's knowledge) the debate was over, at least for anyone who believes a debate of this kind requires that everyone involved keep their word.
There are two situations in our past that I would like to mention that throw some light on our demand that people keep their word in debate negotiation. First, in 2000, we had written agreement from St. Joseph's Communications that any video taping would be shared with both sides. They put up a video tape camera (we had been told they would not) but after the debate, they would not provide a copy of the tape. Here's the story. In any case, we have refused to have anything to do with St. Joseph's since then due to their behavior.
The other instance took place during the debate with Patrick Madrid on Long Island regarding the veneration of saints and angels. Rich Pierce did not make the trip, and at that time, we were shipping a large amount of equipment so as to hand our opponents a master tape with titling at the end of the debate. A noble attempt (we managed it with Mitch Pacwa in 1999 in San Diego) but one also that over-reached, in hindsight, what you should attempt to do on-location. In any case, during a portion of Madrid's presentation the screens went blank. Warren Smith, who was running the equipment, in consultation with Rich Pierce back in Phoenix by phone, had to reset the character generator. When it came back up, it did so in default mode, going back to the last character sets it was generating. Unfortunately, it had last been editing the debate with Barry Lynn on homosexuality, hence, the only video of that moment has the title of that debate, "Homosexuality," plastered across Patrick's face.
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A Saturday Potpourri
10/07/2006 - James WhiteI'm watching with interest Eric Svendsen's attempted interaction with Paul Owen. I am sending two large bottles of Advil to Eric as a gift. He'll need them.
If you are dying to comment on the Caner/Lynchburg stuff, Tom Ascol's blog has a comments section. I'm actually reading them.
I had a real interesting experience today. Did a 36 mile ride this morning, listening to debate prep materials, and came into the office around lunchtime. Around 2:35pm I see this van pull into the parking lot. A guy gets out, and starts casing the area, trying doors, looking over my bike. He did not know I was watching, obviously. Now, check out this pic of him. OK, he eventually goes back and sits in his van for five or ten minutes, gets out, and heads for my bike. He has something in his hand, but I cannot tell what it is. He jumps a fence and heads around behind our building. He was unpleasantly surprised by yours truly, jumped another fence, ran back to his van and took off. But, check out this picture of him as he walks around one side of the building. Notice something? Yeah. He is wearing a blonde wig. Yup, a wig. The cops found that mighty odd, too. Of course, we had great coverage of the van, too, so they are looking for our visitor. My this has been an odd week.
Finally, a paragraph from Pulpit Crimes. I can think of one or two folks who just cannot seem to resist reading and commenting on my blog who will blow a gasket on this one.
Eisegesis. The reading into a text, in this case, an ancient text of the Bible, of a meaning that is not supported by the grammar, syntax, lexical meanings, and over-all context, of the original. It is the opposite of exegesis, where you read outof the text its original meaning by careful attention to the same things, grammar, syntax, the lexical meanings of the words used by the author (as they were used in his day and in his area), and the over-all context of the document. As common as it is, it should be something the Christian minister finds abhorrent, for when you stop and think about it, eisegesis muffles the voice of God. If the text of Scripture is in fact God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and if God speaks in the entirety of the Bible (Matt. 22:31) then eisegesis would involve silencing that divine voice and replacing it with the thoughts, intents, and most often, traditions, of the one doing the interpretation. In fact, in my experience, eisegetical mishandling of the inspired text is the single most common source of heresy, division, disunity, and a lack of clarity in the proclamation of the gospel. The man of God is commended when he handles Gods truth aright (2 Tim. 2:15), and it should be his highest honor to be privileged to do so. Exegesis, then, apart from being a skill honed over years of practice, is an absolutely necessary means of honoring the Lord a minister claims to serve. For some today, exegesis and all the attendant study that goes into it robs one of the Spirit. The fact is, there is no greater spiritual service the minister can render to the Lord and to the flock entrusted to his care than to allow Gods voice to speak with the clarity that only sound exegetical practice can provide.
Greg Stafford on Calvinism
10/07/2006 - James WhiteSome of you know Gene Cook had Greg Stafford on his program recently, and that they were joined by Bob Morey. The discussion focused on God's exhaustive knowledge of all things. Many are unaware that Jehovah's Witnesses are unorthodox even on the knowledge of God Himself. Their position bears a striking resemblance to Open Theism. In any case, it was an interesting program.
Mr. Stafford has written an article about the program, and I wanted to note that it is not just inconsistent, tradition-bound Baptists who hate Calvinism (in fact, if I started a list of those who do, I wonder how long it would go?), but Jehovah's Witnesses do, too. I'm not sure Mr. Stafford realizes how shrill this sounds, but in any case, here are some quotes:
Jehovah’s Witnesses have spoken truthfully about Jehovah’s knowledge. But more can be said to define and defend what they have taught. The “Reformers” and those who have followed in their footsteps have not spoken truthfully about God’s knowledge. More must be said to undo the damage that they have done. They have also not spoken truthfully about man and his standing before God.After citing Schaff's brief summary of Calvin's views on predestination, Stafford writes, "I reject this teaching entirely. I do not believe the Bible teaches that Jehovah God has by 'eternal decree' predestined the salvation and condemnation of 'every man.'" His pure synergism (along with Rome and so many "evangelicals" today) is expressed clearly:
Thus, I agree with and will defend Jehovah’s Witnesses’ view of the salvation of mankind through a living faith and their belief in the existence of human free will, a will that must turn to God who will accept us and have mercy upon us all:And then he gets a little, well, dramatic:
It is time to crush the “Reformers” view of God and their misleading and even false teachings respecting his nature and his knowledge....As I said, John Calvin was a murderer and a false prophet, a rotten tree who produced rotten fruit. I pray that Jehovah crushes Calvinism. I pray that he gives me a part in crushing it along with any of the variety of fruit it has produced.Well, there you go! Personally, I find it easier to deal with direct denials like that than I do inconsistent "well, godly men have disagreed" folks. In any case, look out, all you Reformed folks! Greg Stafford is going to "crush" the view of God that freed Europe from Rome's tyranny! I do find it just slightly odd that Greg does not see how weak his arguments appear to those of us who are, in fact, Reformed. When you camp in Genesis while ignoring the clear, didactic statements of Scripture (Isaiah, Romans, Ephesians) on the subject at hand, that tells us that your position is not overly sound. In any case, I found these comments, especially in light of recent events, most interesting.
There Will Be No Debate in Lynchburg on October 16th
10/06/2006 - James WhiteThe following e-mail was just sent to Emir Caner, Brett O'Donnell, and Ergun Caner.
Gentlemen:If the need arises (and I'm sure it will), I will provide all the documentation of the past days' e-mails. However, the last e-mail, to which I responded above, had a conspicuous "privacy" notification. See today's DL (here) for a discussion of the events leading up to the cancellation of the debate.
Thank you for finally writing, Dr. Caner. I believe a quicker reply would have saved us all a lot of trouble, but that is water under the bridge.
In essence, Emir, you have just said that while you worked with Tom to arrive at an agreement, you are willing to renege, less than two weeks prior to that debate, on the agreement, throwing out the very heart of the requests Tom brought to you in good faith, all because Dr. O'Donnell does not like them? Sir, could I please ask you how we can trust anything that is said to us when your word can be changed by someone with an allegedly "higher" authority? What if someone decides that the debate needs to be two hours, and that on Monday night the 16th of October? Will that then be what happens?
Further, Emir, if Dr. O'Donnell is to be given ultimate, final, and complete authority over the debate (something that was never requested, let alone granted, by us), why did you come to us and ask what we would have to do to make this work? Why not have Dr. O'Donnell do this, since, if you are being consistent now, you did not have the authority to negotiate anyway? If you were negotiating in good faith then, how can you renege on that negotiation now? If you were not negotiating in good faith then, what was your purpose? I cannot begin to understand this behavior on your part.
I have to ask you all. If this is not breach of contract, at least in the realm of one's word and honor, what would, in fact, constitute this?
Well, this saga will certainly go down in history. It will do so because I will continue to arrange meaningful, scholarly debates with leading proponents of other viewpoints, just as I will be debating John Shelby Spong in November, and we will continue to demonstrate the highest standards in honestly seeking to fairly and openly defend the Christian faith in those situations. And if Dr. Ergun Caner would like to arrange a one-on-one debate at a neutral location in the future, I would dearly love to do so. But as it stands now, you have reneged upon our agreement unilaterally; you refuse to allow for sufficient time for a four-man debate and for the agreed to cross-examination; you likewise have claimed, through O'Donnell's actions, the advantage of speaking first and last despite the thesis statement not requiring that advantage to the affirmative side. Since the video taping rights issue likewise has not been completely settled, and given that Dr. O'Donnell has disqualified himself by his demeanor and behavior from moderating, it is obvious that there is no good faith being exercised by your side in this event. The ability to trust that the others will do what they say they will do is necessary to have a meaningful event.
Therefore, in light of the knowing and unilateral abandonment of the settled agreement on the part of Brett O'Donnell, and your support of this, there will be no debate on October 16th in Lynchburg, Virginia. Immediately before your e-mail arrived Dr. Ascol called me from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I confirmed with him that we would not accept the unilateral rejection of our agreement. Then, I sent this e-mail to him for his approval, and he managed to get an internet connection from the airport, and he stands with me. There can be no debate without debaters, and the behavior of your side in openly reneging upon your word has made any further attempts to make this work, despite months of struggle, worthless. My personal challenge to Ergun Caner stands for a one-on-one debate, but now with the stipulation that it take place in a neutral location with a neutral moderator.
Any suggestions or assertions that this debate ended for any other reason than the truth, i.e., that twelve days prior to the debate the agreement upon which it was based was unilaterally thrown out by Brett O'Donnell with the support of Emir Caner, will be met with full and complete documentation of the facts. It is bad enough that this has happened. Please, do not add to this with any campaign to make it look like we pulled out of this. Everyone in this group knows otherwise.
Regarding the Lynchburg Situation
10/06/2006 - James WhiteI received an e-mail within ten seconds of 5pm EDT. In essence it states that the agreement that existed between the two sides since September has been abandoned unilaterally. Dr. Ascol is currently traveling back from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Unfortunately, he called me about five minutes before the response was sent to me, and since he was standing in a line at the airport (I know exactly what line it is, too---I've been there), hoping to get a seat, I do not expect to be able to speak to him again soon. If by some miracle he does call me back, I will be able to post an announcement on this blog sooner. However, at the moment, I do not wish to do so until I have been able to speak with Dr. Ascol and get his approval.
Today on the Dividing Line
10/06/2006 - James WhiteStarted out the program today with a little history and a tribute to Jerald and Sandra Tanner. Felt it was important to discuss weighty, eternal things before being dragged down into the mire of the silliness that has become trying to deal with the situation at Liberty. But, starting about twenty or twenty five minutes in, I recounted what has happened over the past few months, and most specifically, the past few days, wherein the agreement reached between the two sides over the past few months was thrown out the window unilaterally, the Caners were given first and last word, etc. As of this writing, we still have heard absolutely nothing from the Caners. We have tried making phone calls. Finally we got hold of Ergun Caner's chief of staff. He indicated that Ergun is on a flight right now and hence cannot be contacted, but he promised, sincerely, to get hold of him the moment he touches down. And so we wait for a little while. Here's the program.
A Prayer Request
10/06/2006 - James WhiteBrothers and sisters, the debate October 16th at the Thomas Road Baptist Church is in severe peril of not taking place. Unless I hear back from the other side by 5pm EDT that the agreement which was reached by all four participants in September remains in force (it has been arbitrarily rescinded without discussion by outside individuals), the debate will be canceled. As the documentation shows, and will show, we have bent over backwards to try to arrange a meaningful debate on the topic of the doctrines of grace at the Thomas Road Baptist Church. But there are certain fundamental issues of fairness that we simply cannot allow to be trampled, and that is the current demand being made. At this point, I have not heard a single word, after days of intense correspondence, from either Ergun or Emir Caner. They have been, to this point, once again, utterly silent. I have never in my entire life encountered this kind of behavior in the context of arranging debates, let me assure you. I am simply beside myself with amazement that we can arrange meaningful, useful, scholarly debates with Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, Jesus Seminar scholars and Muslims, but we cannot get the first bit of meaningful cooperation in the effort from Southern Baptists. I deeply desire this debate to go forward. My travel plans are already set, of course. But I will not allow any debate opponent to simply say, "You know all that stuff that was agreed upon before? Forget it. Here is how it will be." That is not fair, it is not right, and I will not allow it to stand. As much as I desire the opportunity to present the doctrines of grace in that context, there is a matter of principle here. Men of honor keep their word. If we cannot trust the other side ten days out, how can we know there will not be further changes made the night of the debate, or during the debate itself?
So, brothers and sisters, please pray.
On the Passing of a Servant of the Lord
10/05/2006 - James WhiteFor those of us who have benefitted so greatly from the ministry of Jerald and Sandra Tanner, we give thanks to the Lord for His servant Jerald, who has gone home to be with his Lord. Here is the ULM announcement. Join with us in praying for Sandra Tanner at this time.
Changing the DL Till Tomorrow Morning
10/05/2006 - James WhiteQuick programming note. Had a great time helping Chris Arnzen out on Iron Sharpens Iron with the discussion between Tom Wells and Richard Barcellos on NCT vs. CT, but along with some really stressful issues related to next week I have fallen way behind in working on finishing the last four chapters of Pulpit Crimes. I don't want to do the program just for the sake of doing the program, so we will move this afternoon's program to the morning slot tomorrow, that is, 2pm EDT, 11am PDT Friday morning. Hopefully things will be a little less rushed at that point.
Special Program Today
10/05/2006 - James WhiteWhoa, change of plans. Tom Wells has agreed to join Chris Arnzen and Richard Barcellos to discuss New Covenant Theology vs. Covenant Theology on Iron Sharpens Iron today at 3pm EDT, and we will be providing our facilities to assist, so you can call 877-753-3341 and listen to the program as well at the regular DL URL.
10/04/2006 - James WhiteJohn Orlando, a sometimes-visitor to our chat channel, has posted a very interesting article here. I found it interesting not because it is complimentary of me, but for the citations it provides from Jerry Falwell relating to Reformed theology and John Calvin. Anyone who reads those comments from Falwell and compares them with what has been preached within the past six months from the pulpit at Thomas Road Baptist Church cannot help but scratch their heads in wonderment. And keep going down the road a bit for the citations regarding the Arminian view of the atonement and inerrancy. A longer article, but well worth the read.
Sniping From the Woods
10/03/2006 - James WhiteOne of the results of posting snippets of a book while you are writing it is you get to see who is going to fire a full broadside at you without ever once considering fairly a thing you have ever said, are saying, or will ever say. While typing away on the chapter on pluralism I happened to look up a URL someone had posted. Then, my eyes fell on a feed that I have in only one of my Sage set ups and that I haven't looked at in ages, and for some reason (insanity?) I clicked on it. And there I found Kevin Johnson spouting off about the brief comments I posted from a previous chapter (titled "Identity Theft" by the way) on the topic of the Lord's Supper. Mr. Johnson is a Former. What do I mean? He lives his life sniping at everyone who is where he once was, which, given the winding path he has taken over the past two decades, means he has a pretty wide field of fire. He'll just as much shoot at Doug Wilson as at me. In any case, it is hardly surprising that he didn't like what I had to say, and I had to chuckle that in the comments Brian Harrington, likewise a Former, joined in. I do not invest time or energy in following these folks around (last time I heard Harrington had been associated with Steve Schlissel's church but it doesn't seem he is any longer), but I guess they have a lot of extra time on their hands. Contrast the attitude Harrington exudes in the following quotation with that consistently put forward by Bill Shishko, OPC pastor, long time moderator of the Great Debates on Long Island, and my opponent in an intramural debate on baptism coming up 10/19 on Long Island:
White’s work is not remotely near their orbit in terms of careful interaction with church history, as well as their pastoral sensitivity. It would be like comparing A.W. Pink with Eichrodt, or Charles Ryrie with Vos.I wonder if Harrington is still in the New York area? I'd invite him to the debate on the 19th (click here for details) where he will be able to see Scripturally-based, intramural, God-honoring interaction. Might do him some good! And I am very thankful that Harrington thinks I'm our "chief apologetical organ." That leaves the truly brilliant guys like the Renihan brothers and Sam Waldron and Fred Malone and Richard Barcellos and Robert Martin to continue their work unhindered by the woosh of sniping from the tree line.
Baptist errors and/or heresies re the “ordinances as acts of man” vs. the Reformed confession of “sacraments as acts of God on behalf of man” underscore the former’s fundamentally subjective and rationalistic articulation of the Christian faith, which articulation must be strenously rejected by orthodox Christians, and thus NOT deemed as some kind of intramural/fraternal divergence.
The leaven of religious pluralism has led to a most unfortunate toleration of Baptist distinctives by otherwise noble Reformed men and church communions. But it must be purged out of the church’s thinking, if she is to advance along the Kuyperian lines of extending the kingship of Christ over all spheres of life and thought.
As long as “Reformed” Baptists have as their chief apologetical organ the writings/ramblings of James White, or various pamphlets published by ARBCA, we can be grateful that their tribe will likely continue to decrease.
Today on the DL...
10/03/2006 - James WhiteStarted off with a few brief comments on the "ct/Michael Dries" discussion. A full melt-down is underway with this person, who now says she (yes, she) only the Dries name as a cover on the Puritan Board. In any case, took calls today on Islam and a more in-depth call on the topic of John 1:1 and Jehovah's Witnesses. Here's the program (well, that will be the link when we get it working---right now it isn't working properly. Keep trying---it will work eventually!)
Oh, OK, That Makes Sense Now
10/03/2006 - James WhiteNow it all makes sense. Michael Dries, the KJV Onlyist who melted down on the Puritan Board back in March, is c.t., i.e., owner/writer of Plain Path Puritan. Now it all makes sense, including the desperate dishonesty, the cultic denial of salvation to anyone who rejects KJV Onlyism, etc. I simply didn't make the connection in reading his one article. Upon being challenged to document his "quotation," he has melted down yet again (John 8:44, Rev. 21:8, KJV). Unable to back up his libelous falsehood, he has instead decided to multiply it repeatedly by falsely attributing all sorts of inane things to me. Read it for yourself. Those who already reject KJV Onlyism for the error it is should just shake their heads at this kind of behavior. But you know who should be seeking Mr. Dries' repentance and correction? His fellow KJV Onlyists. This kind of outrageous behavior gives them all a black eye. Of course, Mr. Dries knows the phone number to the Dividing Line. He will not call. He knows he cannot back up his lies, so he will just sit behind his keyboard trying to think up new ways to disturb the peace of the church and attack the brethren. The elders of his church should be most wary. I have seen this kind of zealot split more than one fellowship.
Quick Update: I see now, looking around a bit on his blog, that Mr. Dries has been banned not only from Team Pyro but by Dave Armstrong as well. That says a lot. And if you scroll down a ways you will find a graphic with Doug Wilson on one side and centuri0n on the other. Anyone who has Doug Wilson and centuri0n in a graphic about getting to the celestial city is obviously quite disturbed. Time to stay as far away from him as is humanly possible, though I confess, I would love to hear an attempted explanation of why so many of the Puritans hated the KJV, or why Calvin corrected the TR, etc. But instead, I press on. Writing a chapter on "pandering to pluralism" right now. Must get it done in a matter of hours.
Amazing Calvinist Rant...
10/02/2006 - James WhiteIn the brief citation from Pulpit Crimes posted below I made a very quick comment about the rendering of the KJV at I Timothy 6:10. Here is what I had written on the text a dozen years ago now in The King James Only Controversy:
The Root or A Root?
Another favorite passage of KJV Only adherents is found in Pauls first letter to Timothy:
1 Timothy 6:10 1 Timothy 6:10 1 Timothy 6:10 KJV NASB NIV For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Two issues are readily seen by comparing these translations. First, is the love of money the root of evil, or a root of evil? Secondly, is it a root of all evil, or of all kinds of evil? Once again we encounter a situation in which something can be said for each translation. The word for root in the Greek does not have the article before it, hence the more literal translation in this case would be a root, not the definite the root. The text is not saying that the love of money is the only origin or source of evil, but that it is one of great importance. And is it all evil, or all kinds of evil? Literally the Greek reads, of all the evils, the terms being plural. The modern translations see this as referring to all kindsof evil, while the KJV takes all evil as a whole concept. The KJV translation is a possibility grammatically speaking, but it seems to miss Paul's point. The love of money gives rise to all sortsof evil things, but there are, obviously, evils in the world that have nothing to do with the love of money. A minister friend of mine pointed out with reference to this passage that it is difficult to see how rape, for example, can be blamed on the love of money. Such is surely a good question for a person who would insist upon the KJV rendering. In any case, the modern translations are certainly faithful to the text of Scripture and adequate in their translation of the passage.
Now that you have the background of my brief comment, check out this blast from "Plain Path Puritan" (ironic, of course, since it is a documented fact many Puritans detested the KJV). Instead of commenting on the subject I was addressing (I would have to assume he actually agrees with me on the subject matter), the KJV Onlyist in him forced him to focus on the singular comment about the KJV. He identifies me as an "anti-KJV crusader" which is dishonest at best. It is a falsehood that has been refuted repeatedly in the past. KJV Onlyism and the KJV are two separate things; and even the King James translators would have opposed KJV Onlyism, so I think I am in good company. Then he links to a page that once again demonstrates just how desperate the KJVO camp can become---which still strikes me as so odd when Calvinists fall into this kind of circular thinking. Is there any meaningful response to what I wrote above? Surely not. The writer instead proves that the Greek and English definite articles differ in usage, something any person beyond the second month of beginning Greek knows quite well, and which has nothing at all to do with my comments. It does, however, provide the writer with something to fill in some space in an otherwise vacuous response. Then The Expositor's commentary is cited---partially. I truly wonder if this writer has any idea what sources he is using or relying upon, for the writer does not show any recognition in his comments. The comment is based upon asserting that we should not expect precision in ethical statements. Well, I disagree, and we must remember, this source does not have the same high view of the inspiration of Scripture that Plain Path Puritan would, allegedly, confess, so why quote it, I wonder? I would direct the reader to the calm and clear discussion provided by Dr. Knight in TNIGCT on 1 Timothy (pp. 257-258). The rest of the linked response is a study in futility in trying to desperately find some reason to disagree with me! The fact is, the writer knows well I am right: I was addressing the claim that the KJV's rendering is the only possible one and that all that differ from it are by nature in error. Notice that in my analysis of the passage I noted the grammatical possibility of the KJV rendering, and disagreed with it on contextual grounds. I stand firm there: the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. Who can dispute this? But if one demands that the love of money is the exclusive root of all evil, this assertion is very easily refuted. So what is the point? The point is that the KJV rendering is unnecessarily restrictive and hence inferior to that found in modern translations.
So anyway, Plain Path Puritan then goes on to make the outrageous statement, "They seem to have adopted the Muslim's approach that lying to Christians is OK if it is done to further their cause..." Why do KJV Onlyists have to demonstrate such consistent lack of charity? What is it about their movement that would cause them to say such things, especially when they have not provided any foundation upon which to slander fellow believers? It is truly amazing. Of course, he goes on to talk about "devil manuscripts" and the like, so I guess once you've blown the proverbial gasket, everything else is fair game. He does seem to condemn me to perdition, for he speaks of "them" and says "until their inevitable destruction in eternal hellfire." Ironic for him to mention both Muslims and Roman Catholics here, given my debates and writings in those fields (debates and writings that have no modern counterpart in the ever-shrinking world of KJV Onlyism).
Finally, "Plain Path Puritan" writes, "When they get 'heated' they can't help themselves but to sound like Roman devil-priests, which has been documented in James White's case ("Christians who are not ordained clerics shouldn't have opinions about the manuscripts")..." Excuse me? Those are quotation marks. Where on earth have I ever said such a thing? Falsely attributing such words to me is libelous, is it not? I ask Plain Path Puritan document his assertions or withdraw them and post an apology, and I invite my readers to challenge him to do so as well.
Monday Morning Sneak Peek
10/02/2006 - James WhiteFulfilling the biblical teaching that there is nothing new under the sun, the Scriptures contain warnings that are directly relevant to us today regarding the selling of the precious privilege of the pulpit for that which is passing away, the things of this world. When giving Timothy guidance regarding the qualifications for the eldership Paul taught:
An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money (1 Timothy 3:2-3).The final qualification is not that he be poor. It is not that he lack any and all business sense, or have some kind of martyr complex. It is the love of money that is in view. This seems to have been a component of Pauls teaching, because he would later use the phrase in a similar fashion, one that suggests he knows Timothy was quite familiar with it:
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:10).It is not money that is the problem. Money is used by God every day to provide for His people and accomplish good. But it is the love of the means of this blessing that Paul warns about. Some people love what they can do with money, others just simply love money for the power they think it gives them. A person with money becomes a little god, shaping and making his own reality, his own future, or so he thinks. It is that kind of love of money that is a root, (not the root as the KJV puts it) of all sorts of evil. The sins the love of money can engender are many, even in the context of the church. Dishonesty, perverting justice and truth, showing partiality, all can be traced directly to an improper love of money, which itself is a manifestation of a rejection of Gods will and purpose in our lives, a refusal to be content with what God has given to us. While this is vitally important for leaders, in this they only mirror the truth that all believers are called to this, for as the writer to the Hebrews said, "Make sure that your character if free from the love of money, being content with what you have" (Hebrews 13:5). How can we be content in a world that is constantly seeking to make us discontent? The same text tells us: we have God's promise that He will never desert us, He will never forsake us. He is our treasure, He is our portion, and if we delight in Him, we have all we need. As the hymn writer well said, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." What commands our hearts will determine our desires, and if the hearts of God's ministers are filled with joy at their task, there will be no place for the love of the things of the world, including money.