Just back from Utah! I’ll be reporting on our two debates on The Dividing Line Tuesday, so make sure to listen in. Briefly, both debates went very well. We did not get much cooperation from the UofU as far as the venue was concerned, but we persevered and made it work anyway. The video taping went very well, so keep an eye on the ad column to the right for announcement of the availability of the debates in mp3, CD, and DVD formats. As normal, the debates were handled in a respectful fashion, and the issues were very clearly presented for those who were in attendance. Many thanks especially to Jason Wallace, Mike Kwiatkowski, and Brandon Anderson for their help in setting up, etc.
(Mike Kwiatkowski, Jason Wallace, James
White, Rich Pierce, Brandon Anderson)
Of course, while I was in Utah I was forwarded more of the amazing saga of Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications, a man I thought was an “ally” up until just a few days ago. I knew he had made some comments about my previous work, The Potter’s Freedom, regarding the issue of regeneration. I did not pay much attention to his comments at the time, since it was obvious to me he did not understand what I was saying, and I simply did not consider it an important issue. Well, as you will see if you read down this blog, Mr. Ross has decided to not only comment, but seemingly engage in an extended tirade/crusade on the issue now that my debate with Dave Hunt, Debating Calvinism, is in print. Despite my attempt to clarify Mr. Ross’ confusion in the blog entries below, he seems to be beyond rational correction (or dialogue). While in Utah I received an e-mail containing these comments:
(2) JAMES is refuted by the fact that this verse eliminates the idea that one can be regenerated and still not yet be a believer in Christ. It plainly says that the one who believes in Christ IS born of God. Unless James could show elsewhere in Scripture that one who is regenerated IS NOT a believer, this verse crushes James’ view to powder.
Seemingly, Ross’ entire “issue” is the assertion that in the ordo salutis the exercise of saving faith is absolutely coterminous with regeneration: i.e., that there cannot be any period of time, seemingly, even a moment, between regeneration and the exercise of saving faith. Even if a person says that 1) God uses means to draw His people unto Himself (i.e., the proclamation of the gospel) and 2) that the exercise of saving faith is utterly inevitable and certain as the result of regeneration (both truths I would affirm), evidently one is still unorthodox in one’s view. 1 John 5:1 says that anyone who is currently believing has been born of God (i.e., the rebirth is that which gives rise to and results in saving faith), but evidently, to be truly orthodox and worthwhile, you must believe that though there is a logical order in the ordo salutis, that there is not the slightest temporal “gap” between the experience of the elect in regeneration and the resultant act of the new nature in believing in Christ.
I have outlined the issue simply because most folks have no idea what on earth Ross is seeking to argue about. Personally, given the battles we face today on all fronts, arguing with Mr. Ross regarding minute temporal points of the ordo salutis is of no importance to me. I thank those who have forwarded Mr. Ross’ complaints, but I would like to note I do not need anyone to invest their time in forwarding any more of his materials. I have confirmed my belief in the relevant portions of the London Baptist Confession of 1689, and if Mr. Ross disagrees, he is free to do so. I will allow the fair-minded person to consider my work and judge it on its merits.
This situation does, however, raise the opportunity of once again addressing, briefly, the issue of debates. Given the number of debates I have done over the years (fifty two such moderated, public debates since 1990) many people assume that I simply live to argue. Such is not the case. I truly seek to choose debates that address issues that will help the body of Christ to “give an answer” and speak the truth. I do not feel the slightest necessity to engage in needless arguments (such as the one with Mr. Ross) as if I am the “big gun” in a small Western town. For example, many have wondered about the scheduled debate with Douglas Wilson on the nature of the covenant and the concept of Roman Catholics being properly referred to as Christians, as brothers, due to the experience of Trinitarian baptism. Well, I believe the topic is important: it is causing great confusion amongst those who seek to proclaim the life-giving gospel to Roman Catholics. Hence, it is a topic that is important and, it seems to be a topic that I can address from a position of strength and knowledge. There are many topics I simply will not address because unlike many, I do not claim to be an expert on everything there is out there. I have areas of strength, but I likewise have areas of weakness. There are many, many who are far more capable than I am in their study of particular issues, but, they lack the ability to speak publicly or to present their great knowledge in an understandable, clear fashion. Debating requires a group of skills that not everyone possesses: you need to be able to speak with clarity, think on your feet, respond to questions quickly and recall facts and scriptural passages on the fly, identify logical errors in your opponents’ argumentation almost instantly, and communicate your position with conviction and passion while remaining respectful and controlled. As a Calvinist I believe any gifts I have were given to me by my Lord to use in His service and to His glory. Just because someone else does not have the same gifts does not make me better, or worse; I am just different, and must use my gifts under the direction of the Holy Spirit in the service of His Church. I foresee a time in the not too distant future when I will be limiting not only my traveling, but the number of debates I do in the course of a year. I have been averaging one debate every ten to twelve weeks for four years now, and that pace is difficult to maintain.