It’s the constant question: do you respond, or do you not? Well, a while back, some less-than-brave soul popped into #prosapologian, our on-line Christian community (sounds so much better than “chat channel,” and in many ways is a lot more accurate a description), and did a drive-by posting of a URL to Kelly Powers responding to an e-mail inquiry about my views on John 6. I took the time to listen. Now, to be honest, most who listened said “This isn’t worth responding to. This fellow is a poor speaker, obviously does not know much about the issue, and as far as meaningful exegesis, offers nothing.” But I chose to use it anyway because 1) there was enough of the common forms of eisegetical obfuscation to make it worthwhile (i.e., my listeners would be running into this kind of argumentation, poor as it was, and sometimes poor argumentation presents real challenges just because it is so poor) and 2) because there is so precious few attempts on any non-Reformed person’s part to even touch the text that you don’t have a lot of choices anyway.
Now, to be perfectly honest, as I was playing his webcast, I could not help but think that once again I may have made a mistake to do so. When you are doing a webcast the quickest way to kill it is to play someone who is simply not interesting and that drags along, slowly, and Mr. Powers was barely moving the “interesting” meter. But I persevered, hoping that the contrast between his stated sound hermeneutical principles and then his lack of application thereof, would be helpful.
Very quickly after doing the program I began hearing from folks about Powers’ responses. And more responses. And more responses. I had chosen to get back to someone who could actually make a point in less than five minutes on the program, and given the fact that I determined Powers’ responses to be vacuous, meandering pieces that demonstrated a very, very poor grasp of the basics of communication and argumentation, I simply moved on. But Mr. Powers hasn’t. Evidently my references to him are the biggest thing that has happened in his corner of the universe in a very long time, so he is not about to move on himself.
Last week sometime I was typing away at my computer one evening and someone in channel mentioned that Gene Cook was doing his webcast. So I decided to listen in, and then decided to call in. We chatted about a number of things, but then I made my mistake. I mentioned the fact that he had debated Kelly Powers. It was probably fifteen seconds of the entire call, but I did mention his name. That, of course, provided more grist for Powers’ mill, and for his small, but devoted group of followers. He transcribed my comments:
“…I made the mistake of actually starting to respond to some things he said, ah, and wow, that was, that wasn’t, that didn’t turn out real well, unfortunately.”
Obviously, I was not only speaking tongue-in-cheek (as is clear on the recording), but I was referring to the spectacle Powers has made of himself since that time. See, I had chosen to move on not only because the material itself did not provide something worthwhile, but because it became clear that Mr. Powers was not only incapable of a reasoned, sound response, but was likewise going into self-destruct mode. So, instead of piling on and wasting everyone’s time proving what any reasoned person already knew, I let it slide.
So yesterday morning we start getting references in e-mail to Powers’ comments on the Gene Cook show, along with the assertion that obviously someone has now given a full refutation on John 6 (Powers) and I have had to run for the hills! Here are his own words:
From these three things I sense James White did not realize I was actually serious about what I believed and he must of thought I would of been a push over. I mean, well, James so easily challenges Dave Hunt, Norman Geisler, and others to debate, so who am I? Well I rose to the challenge even when he decided not to do a debate with me. Remember, it was him not I who in the end choose not to have the debate. Then after James White did his 2 shows about me I have responded in detail thus far to his first show with 5 audio responses, and I plan to continue on with responding to his second show from Dec. 9, 2004 soon. Will James White just be quiet? What will James White do? Well I know that I am pressing on and going to continue to give proper exegesis to what John 6 teaches and refute the un-Biblical interpretations of Calvinists. I can understand, I think anyways, why James said what he did on “The Narrow Mind” show. James White did not know me, he did not do his homework to well, and quite frankly the evidence that I have proven from John 6 stands loud and clear that he is the one who is going with his traditions for what he believes rather than being open and a true berean.
Since Powers is pressing the issue, let me be blunt: Mr. Powers hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about, but that isn’t stopping him from talking about it. Let him talk. Any person with the most rudimentary tools of exegesis and logic can see through his attempted responses. I had chosen to let it drop so that maybe, just maybe, he would consider his views and not be forced into a position from which he would never be willing to move. Evidently, my hopes were pipe-dreams. Mr. Powers may well fill his website with endless “rebuttals,” but until he learns to consistently apply the most basic rules of interpretation, they will be a waste of time and disk space. Of course, if Powers truly believes his own rhetoric, there’s an easy way to find out if he’s right: the number is 877-753-3341. It’s toll free. He can produce hours of rambling commentary on John 6, but everyone knows the only meaningful way to find out if he’s really got a case is to do what he has refused to do from the start: debate the issue on The Dividing Line.