I take a trip down memory lane every time Dr. White discusses Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free. During the 1980’s I was quite a fan of Dr. Geisler’s work. I first came across Dr. Geisler while flipping through the channels on my television one evening. He was debating secular humanist Paul Kurtz. I had no idea what show I was watching. In fact, it was already half over by the time I tuned in. I had never seen a Christian present an articulate defense of the faith. Sure, looking back now twenty-five years later some of Geisler’s arguments make me cringe. But back then I was an amazed garden-variety Evangelical teenager. Dr. Geisler was the first Christian I had ever seen get into the arena of ideas with an intellectual non-Christian and hold his own.
Reformed? I had no idea what that was. “Reformed” was probably one of those awful liberal denominations my church had warned me about. Off to college I went, but not totally unprepared. At this time I probably had a dozen or so books by Dr. Geisler (as well as books by Josh McDowell and few other popular apologists). Even with Geisler’s books, by the end of my college years I found myself scrambling to make sense of my Christian worldview.
Fast forward a few years: I’m still trying to make sense of my Christian worldview. I figured watching Dr. Geisler had helped me before, so I contacted the John Ankerberg Show and ordered Dr. Geisler’s debate with Rabbi Kushner on why bad things happen to good people. In what I can only describe now as blessed providence, Ankerberg sent me the wrong tapes. I was sent a few tapes on the King James Only controversy. I had no idea what that was, but I listened to it anyway. One of the guests was so articulate, I looked him up on my computer. So, it was actually my desire to hear a Dr. Geisler debate that actually introduced me to the work of Dr. James White.
In 1999, a dear friend bought me the first edition of Chosen But Free. When he assured me that Dr. Geisler settled the issue of sovereignty and free will once and for all, I excitedly began going through the book. I didn’t realize at first that Dr. Geisler was going to stand clearly opposed to the Reformed view rather than presenting “a balanced view of divine election.” I didn’t get very far before my pen came out marking up the book. I couldn’t believe Dr. Geisler had actually written Chosen But Free.
I eventually called Alpha and Omega Ministries because of this book. I distinctly remember getting Rich Pierce on the phone and asking him if he was aware of Chosen But Free. Indeed he was, in fact Dr. White had begun reviewing the book on his radio show. Back then Alpha and Omega compiled a six cassette tape set reviewing Dr. Geisler’s book which is still available now. This pre-Potter’s Freedom audio review is still valuable. I would encourage any of you interested in this topic to get this early review and hear Dr. White’s initial reaction and response to Norman Geisler.
In August of 2002 Dr. Geisler visited a church near my house. There, he discussed the material in Chosen But Free. Dr. Geisler stated something like “James White is running around like a chicken with his head cut off.” So, I sent the tape off to Arizona. To hear Dr. White’s response, see this link.
I still continued to go through Chosen But Free. I eventually began sifting through Geisler’s Calvin quotations in which he asserts Calvin was not a Calvinist. It appeared to me that Dr. Geisler didn’t actually read Calvin. He probably took the quotes from secondary sources. As I document here, one of his citations is bogus.
Well, that friend who gave me Chosen But Free no longer talks to me, and I miss him dearly. He went on to be an avid Dave Hunt supporter, giving away copies of What Love is This? to those Calvinists he comes across. Did Dr. Geisler’s book have an impact on me? Surely it did, but not the one my friend expected.