Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Dark Side of Anti-Calvinism
08/21/2011 - James WhiteOne of the primary lessons I have been attempting to bring forward over the past week in my exposure of the inane nature of so much of the popular anti-Calvinism found in the writings of Geisler, Hunt, Vance, and Bryson (repeated without the slightest bit of concern by Coate) is the contrast between the biblically-based presentations of Reformed writers and our concern for accuracy in even representing those who disagree with us (and who attack us personally) and the methodology of "anything goes as long as it is opposed to Calvinism" of the other side. Bryson and Coate provided the best example ever with The Absurdity, the "let's grab something from the Internet which was actually never said in reality and skewer White with it since we really have nothing more substantive to say" example we have documented over the past few days.
Yesterday I noted comments by "george" on TurretinFan's blog, and though Mr. Bryson is playing cat and mouse in e-mail, it does seem that the follow up comments do indeed confirm that this is George Bryson doing the Bryson thing---commenting in comboxes and doing his best to obfuscate the issues. Let's lay out the facts briefly:
1) Bryson was in the studio for the Bible Answer Man broadcast, therefore, he has no excuses for misrepresenting what was said.
2) Bryson has access to the recordings of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, therefore, he has no excuses for misrepresenting what was said.
3) Bryson quoted a sarcastic summary statement from an Internet combox.
4) Bryson never said the words attributed to him in that summary, specifically, "Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyranically (sic) damns people for no good reason and causes babies to be raped." [Note: since Bryson never said these words, it follows inevitably that I could not "confess" or "agree" with words that were never spoken!]
5) Bryson repeated words I never said, for I never replied to a non-existent statement with "Yes, and here is why I believe THAT…." with the "that" referring to a mythical statement.
6) Bryson then said I had given an "admission" that bothers even other Calvinists. What "admission" can be found in a mythical, sarcastic paraphrase? When we actually listen to the exchange I am careful to define my terms (something Bryson simply will not allow, as caricaturization and equivocation is the heart and soul of his anti-Calvinist campaign) and to "admit" to nothing more than what we find in the London Baptist Confession of Faith:
God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
How shocking that an elder at a Reformed Baptist Church would confess one of the main statements of the confession of faith of that church! Amazing. Of course, Bryson rejects most of what is said there, and only wants people to "hear" the first portion, and ignore the part about second causes and the like. But the full statement makes it very clear that I affirmed the use of secondary causes, placed my answer in the context of biblical categories (Genesis 50, Acts 4), affirmed the active will of man and denied the absurd caricature that George Bryson is constantly guilty of promoting.
7) This amazing mythical "paraphrase" replete with utterly false "admission" charge attached was picked up uncritically by Micah Coate and repeated in his new book, proving, without question, what Bryson's intention was in publishing this material in his own book. Bryson endorsed Coate's book with the even more absurd "admission" statements attached to it.
These are the facts. They are not disputable. The only possible response of an honest man to being faced with these facts would be apology and retraction. What has George Bryson done? Spin, of course, and do anything he can to avoid having to answer for his statements. Over the course of the past 24 hours Bryson has given us a lesson in the dark side of anti-Calvinism. Though this is a simple matter of truthfulness, for Bryson, admitting his error here seems to him to amount to an admission that Calvinism is true, and that he will not do. So, he buries himself in equivocation in the hopes of distracting from the real issue, just as he does theologically in his writings against the Reformed faith. I provide his statements as they have appeared on TurretinFan's blog:
Ok-time for everyone to take a deep breath. The only time I mentioned anything about James admitting something I said: I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY THE ADMISSION OF WHITE IS SO DISTURBING TO CALVINISTS. IN HIS DEFENSE, HOWEVER, WHITE IS ONLY ADMITTING WHAT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS TO ALL CALVINISTS. If you look in my book or on this thread you will see that James answered "yes" to the question I asked him. He answered "yes" several times but I kept pressing him on it because I wanted to make sure there was no "wiggle room" in his "yes" answer. James obliged me with by repeating "yes". In different ways James. My legitimate use of the "loose paraphrase" material only supported my contention that not all Calvinist agreed that he should have provided a "yes" answer. In fact, some of the critical comments made about His answer of "yes" to my question served to further support the point the I made. A number of Calvinist clearly interpreted his "yes" answer as a mistake on his part as well as a departure. I thought that the loose paraphrase supported my view that the "yes" answer was an admission and I think a lot of Calvinists would agree with me on that much. Let us all just get a grip and move on. There is nothing libelous in what I said about James or in what I say he admitted (which is "yes" to my question). I know that I am not going to get a lot of sympathy among the Reformed and I am not looking for any. But I refuse to believe that the Calvinists on this site think that the "yes" that he provided to my question and repeated under some prodding, makes me libelous or even dishonest. Perhaps I have misjudged some of you. In Christ, your non-Reformed brother in Christ.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2011 9:11:00 AM,
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Is the Point that Difficult to Understand?
08/20/2011 - James WhiteI do not know if this comment was left by George Bryson or not. The nature of Internet comboxes is such that pseudepigraphy is encouraged and would be difficult to detect. But someone identifying themselves directly as George Bryson left the following comment on Turretinfan's blog, attached to an article documenting Bryson's dishonesty in what I am calling "The Absurdity" (see the immediately preceding blog entry for all the sordid details). Here is the comment:
I am a amazed that years after I quoted John Rabe, using what he said in my book has created such a stir. It seems to me that Rabe had a right to be honest about how he felt (at the time) about the exchange he heard on BAM. I am told (by Mr. White) that Mr. Rabe now regrets what he said and has apologized to Mr. White. I feel he has a right to regret and apologize for what he wrote but I honestly fail to see what he has to regret and apologize for. It is not like he agreed with me or anything I said. For a man that has earned the reputation of being an MMA apologetic cage fighter and a Reformed pit bull, Mr. White seems to have very thin skin. Your non-Reformed brother in Christ, George
Now, I surely hope that this is not a comment, in fact, by George Bryson, for the person making it doesn't get the point. And if it is George, well, that would speak volumes. [I have written to George asking if he made the comment, and should he choose to respond, I will update this entry in light of his reply. So far, however, to this point, neither Mr. Bryson nor Mr. Coate have responded to any of my emails.] Just in case this is actually George Bryson, let's restate the point for the sake of clarity.
George Bryson never said the words attributed to him in the “paraphrase.” I never said the words attributed to me in the “paraphrase.” The whole reason it was called a paraphrase is because it was a summary statement of what the person heard listening on the Internet. We have posted the audio of the exchange, and any honest person who listens to it can tell what was going on. I was attempting to bring forth a biblically-based discussion of the relationship of God, evil, man's will, and time. Mr. Bryson was doing everything in his power to stay away from the biblical text. Nowhere in the actual comments do I in any way, shape, or form confess to believe in an evil God who tyrannically condemns people to hell, forces them to commit sins, and causes little babies to be raped. In fact, the original statement attributed in the paraphrase to George Bryson was clearly sarcastic.
So here's the real problem. To take a sarcastic summary statement like this found somewhere on the Internet, and to use it as a basis for saying that I worship a God like this, is the height of dishonesty and absurdity. No person who honors truth could ever say such a thing. No person with integrity could utter such a statement. It is simply a bald-faced lie. So this isn't about the accuracy of the rather sarcastic summary statement at all. It is about the absurdity of taking that and making it representative of what Calvinists allegedly believe about God.
One of the real tragedies about this particular situation is this: this is a vitally important issue with wide reaching pastoral implications. We live in an evil world. We see it all around us. Having worked as a hospital chaplain myself I am well aware of how difficult it can be to attempt to give answers to the questions that come up about evil and suffering in our world. I had one good friend contact me just over the past few days about the fact that working in the medical field he encounters pediatric rape cases. To turn this vitally important issue into a football whereby one side seeks to misrepresent and attack the other is despicable. Let's put the situation out on the table. Mr. Bryson pretends to believe in a God who has exhaustive knowledge of the future. He will not explain how God has exhaustive knowledge of the future. When I asked him this during our discussion on the Bible Answer Man broadcast he could not give me anything more than, "Well, God just does." Bryson is more than willing to attack Calvinists for seeking to give a biblical answer to questions he refuses to directly address. But since he denied being an open theist, he has to confess that when God created he knew what was going to happen in that creation. He had perfect knowledge of every act of evil that would take place as a result of his choice to create. That means that either God had good and sufficient reasons, grounded in his own good will, expressed in his sovereign decree, for the existence of every single act of evil, or, he simply did not. That would render every act of evil foreknown to God meaningless in the final analysis. No one could ever look in the eyes of a believing Christian parent who has lost a child and confess that the judge of all the earth does right. No one could quote Romans 8:28 with a straight face and expect to be taken seriously.
Mr. Bryson wants to use the worst forms of human evil as a means of expressing his deep distrust of a truly sovereign God. He cannot trust that God actually has a purpose in all that takes place. He has to remove that power of ultimate choice from the hand of God and place it in the shaking, uncertain hand of the creature. Of course, he simply refuses to allow his own positive position on these matters to be brought into the light of biblical examination. That came out clearly in all of our encounters. But I, for one, refuse to allow him to hide the results of his sub-biblical theology from public view.
Our writer then brings up the issue of my allegedly having a “thin skin.” What an amazingly facile means of attempting to deflect attention from the dishonesty of the statements made by George Bryson and Micah Coate. Of course I am offended by being lied about. But everyone should be offended by the actions of Bryson and Coate in that they have injected into what should be a serious and Bible-based debate a level of absurdity, caricaturization, and simple dishonesty that should never be found in the writings of a Christian person. Both men are guilty of showing tremendous disrespect toward the audiences of their own books. Whether they are willing to understand this, and make changes, is another matter.
08/20/2011 - James White