For those who recall the series I did last summer responding to the lectures of Steve Gregg against Calvinism, a debate is scheduled for Sunday night, March 30th at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, California.
In preparation Mr. Gregg has indicated that his views have evolved, I guess would be the term, since he recorded the programs I responded to. So in downloading the literally hundreds of pages of web board posts that represent his current position, I found these comments:
I have been reading, for the past few days, the debate between Dr. White and Dave Hunt. I confess that it has been vexing, as both men seem too interested in attacking each other personally than in sticking strictly to the issues. Mr. Hunt, in my opinion, stuck more with the issues and answered James’s points more consistently than James did with Mr. Hunt’s points.
James seemed to think that, instead of presenting air-tight arguments favoring his own traditions, he could simply say that Dave Hunt was depending upon “the traditions of man” (a term White gratuitously used about a zillion times—per page!), and that, instead of answering Mr. Hunt’s strongest scriptural points, he could simply accuse his opponent of not using (what Dr. White regards as) “exegesis.”
If Dr. White cannot do better than this in debate, I may have to deprive myself of sleep for two or three days before our debate, just to make it fair (I am not suggesting that I am smarter than Dr. White. I am sure that I am not! However, no matter how smart you are, when you argue against the truth, you place yourself at a disadvantage).
Elsewhere, I found Mr. Gregg referring to my “raving” out how “exegetical” Calvinism is, with these thoughts:
Then I realized that Dr. White holds to a rather narrow definition of the word exegesis. When I use the term, I am speaking of rendering an explanation of a text, based upon:
1) the meanings of words (vocabulary),
2) the relationships of the words to each other (grammar), and
3) the relationship of a sentence to other sentences in the flow of thought (context).
By contrast, it would appear that, to Dr. White, the chief feature of exegesis is a painstaking analysis of Greek syntax (a feature of #2, above). This is a convenient (though truncated) definition for him to adopt, since he has special training in such matters of the Greek language, whereas few in his audience can understand his arcane explanations, giving the following false impressions:
1) that he knows more than they do about the Bible,
2) that his interpretation (something different from translation) must be correct, and
3) that even if his interpretation is not correct, the problems involved in understanding the text are so complex as to render it impossible for the common man to know if he is right or wrong.
So he wins his point by default—unless his opponent knows Greek as well as he does, and can clearly explain why his point is not established by his intricate arguments.
Those who have read my work to any depth at all well know how far off Gregg’s views are. I cannot offer any explanation for what would cause such a complete misreading of my materials. And I must confess, this is the first time since my first debate in 1989 I’ve had an opponent say he may have to deprive himself of sleep before the debate just to make it fair. In all those years Roman Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, proponents of atheism, homosexuality, etc…none have uttered such words.
At the end of this particular post, wherein Mr. Gregg demonstrates that he has yet to have the slightest idea who I am, what I believe, what I teach, etc., he quotes from Matthew 11,
“I thank you, Father…that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes!”
The irony is he doesn’t read the text in its context:
Matthew 11:25-27 5 ¶ At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
In the context, Jesus is rejoicing in God’s judgment, and in that context affirms that this is in accordance with the Father’s will. Then we have the direct statement that to know the Father, the Son must will to reveal Him to you. There is an exclusivity in the Son’s revelation of the Father, and it is one based upon the Son’s will, not upon man’s! If one wishes to say that it is the Son’s will to reveal the Father to all indiscriminately, then why put these words in the context of judgment? No, these words are directly parallel to those in John that emphasize so clearly the divine right of self-revelation to those given by the Father to the Son.
All I can say is it is going to be an interesting debate.
DeoVolente pointed my attention to another post added to the thread I quote above. I will be honest folks: I never expected this from Steve Gregg. I mean, I obviously found his presentations horribly flawed and pointed out numerous problems with them, but never, in 19 years of formal debating (starting with Gerry Matatics in Long Island in 1989) have I ever encountered anyone who, before a debate, would make comments like “I may have to deprive myself of sleep for two or three days before our debate, just to make it fair.” I suppose some may have said that privately to some friends, but I personally never heard such commentary. Anyway, on 12/1/07 Mr. Gregg added these comments:
In hearing his comments and reactions to my lectures, I got the impression that he is not going to be a very formidable opponent. He seems to neglect most of the important considerations in exegesis, and then distracts his audience from this fact by accusing his opponent of “eisegesis,” “following tradition,” and other canards. My assumption is that intelligent audiences will notice what he is doing, and it will weaken his case in their eyes.
I am now much more familiar with James White’s writings and debate methods, and I am more convinced than ever that my first impressions were correct. Whether he is debating Tim Warner, Dave Hunt or Norm Geisler (or me), he always resorts to the same tactics and the same name-calling. Some people have asked me whether it makes me nervous about being on the receiving end of that kind of treatment in a public forum. I don’t know why it should. Only if I succumb to the temptation to respond in the same manner will I or my case look bad. I should think that Dr. White would himself be nervous every time he debates—not that his opponent will make him look bad, but that he will make himself look foolish.
I am left speechless by such rhetoric, honestly. I will gladly allow the fair-minded readers of our comparative works, and the fair minded listeners to our programs, our presentations, and eventually, our debate, to decide the matter. But I simply point Mr. Gregg to two of my opponents who did, in fact, come to our debates with the idea that they were going to have an easy time of it: Father Peter Stravinskas and ACLU board member Barry Lynn. A word to the wise.