Even the great distance of being in Skagway, Alaska, cannot protect me from rolling my eyes in simple disbelief and, I admit, no small amount of disgust, at the utter unwillingness of Dave Hunt to simply be honest in his continued attacks upon the sovereign kingship and freedom of God in salvation. I pull down my e-mail here on the ship and find Hunt’s newsletter, and what do I find, but another “lets beat up this strawman I have built of Calvinism” piece once again. Nothing new, of course—Dave knows better than to actually try to engage the refutations of his work, since he knows he has no answers—but instead of just shutting up and moving on to other areas, he keeps wacking away at the cartoon he has made and calls Calvinism. Here’s just one portion of his diatribe:
You cite Eph 2:8-9, but faith there is not the gift — salvation (the subject of the entire passage) is the gift of God. Faith is a feminine noun, while the demonstrative pronoun that (“it is” is not in the Greek) is neuter and could not refer to faith. The Greek will not permit “faith” to be the gift. Moreover, “your faith” (“according to your faith” – Mt 9:29; Rom 1:8; 1 Cor 15:17, etc.) is found 24 times; “thy faith” 11 times; and the disciples are rebuked for not having faith, etc. These are odd expressions, if faith is not one’s own but only from God.
What is simply amazing here is that the following appeared in Debating Calvinism. Did Hunt even bother to read what I wrote? At times, I seriously doubt it. But if he did, how can he ignore the following which appeared in that very book?
The same truth is brought out in probably the most famous passage on this subject, famous only due to the tremendous amount of errant commentary offered upon it. When Paul wrote to the Ephesians he spoke of God’s work of gracious salvation:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The relevance of Paul’s testimony here is based on the meaning of “that” in the phrase “that not of yourselves.” What, in the preceding clause, is not of ourselves, but is the gift of God? Again, careful exegesis shines the light upon both traditional readings as well as those offered on the basis of less-than-thorough study of the Greek language. It is obvious that one cannot simply say “faith is the gift”[f] and leave it at that. As is quickly pointed out, the word “that” is a neuter gender in the Greek language, and “faith” is a feminine term. And while that is well and good, it is only part of the story. In fact, there is nothing in the first phrase that matches “that” in gender (“grace” is feminine, “have been saved” is a masculine participle). Instead, the neuter demonstrative pronoun “that” is functioning to wrap up the entirety of the preceding clause. There is nothing in the first clause of Ephesians 2:8 that finds its origin in man, and that includes faith.
I then included a footnote that noted Hunt’s error in misrepresenting both myself and Calvin on this very point! Does Hunt note this? Refute the allegation? No, he uses the Dave Hunt method: ignore being refuted, just repeat the error over and over again in hopes to drown out the truth. Here is the text of the footnote:
Calvin is often misquoted on this point, for he decried those who said faith alone was the “gift” in Ephesians 2:9, when the gift is obviously broader than faith alone. Calvin did, however, affirm that faith is the gift of God (see TPF 316-319, 326-327). Mr. Hunt is in error in WLIT? when he says “White and others” limit the “gift” to “faith” (p. 362). Hunt has misread both Calvin and myself on this matter.
Now don’t get me wrong—if Hunt wishes to disagree, fine: but have the honesty and integrity to try to provide a meaningful rebuttal when you are refuted over and over and over again! Hunt’s continued implosion and utter destruction on the level of exegesis and simple integrity was, at one time, sad: now it is going beyond sadness to being simply reprehensible.
There’s a good bit more in this “response” we will reply to as time allows.