Well, it finally arrived. George Bryson’s The Dark Side of Calvinism is finally sitting on my desk. Despite only having “seen it from afar,” so to speak, I finally had a chance to look over the work today. The sub-titles are great: “A Biblically-based examination, evaluation, and refutation of the Reformed Doctrine of Redemption and Reprobation” appears at the top of the cover, and under the title we have, “The Calvinist Caste System.” Very briefly: it is not a well made book. It is an 8.5 x 11 photocopied “Kinkos” style binding, hence, not overly easy to handle. It has no Scripture index, so, to find out what the book says about any single passage can be very difficult to determine. I likewise noted a number of sections repeated material found earlier in the book (something demonstrating the need of those wonderful folks called “editors”).

Of course, the big question everyone is waiting for an answer for: when George Bryson told me to “read the book” to find the answers to Genesis 50:20, Isaiah 10, and Acts 4:27-28, was it because we just didn’t have time for him to go over his in-depth exegesis of these key passages, or was something else involved? Now, WallyBalt, the Australian/Hawaiian Astrophysicist Guy, had already scanned the book and informed me that there was not a single reference to Genesis 50 or Acts 4 in the book. I certainly trusted someone of Balt’s scholarly abilities, but I also wanted to see it for myself, and I wanted to look for Isaiah 10 as well (though, obviously, if someone skips the others, they aren’t going to tackle that one!). Having now scanned the entirety of the book, I can say without hesitation that Mr. Bryson showed not the first inkling of interest in exegeting, let alone mentioning, the three passages that I presented on the BAM debate. They were never mentioned, cited, quoted, or allowed to wave from the bleachers in the far left field. I will be playing relevant cuts from the BAM debate regarding this on next Tuesday’s Dividing Line.

Now, I saw a lot of really bad argumentation going by as I was checking each page for citations of those three passages. It is clear that since our debate in 2002 Mr. Bryson has determined it would be best to create some kind of defense regarding John 6. Numerous pages in different sections are devoted to a very passionate, yet utterly muddled and incomprehensibly vain attempt to get around the teaching of the Lord in the synagogue in Capernaum. And though he directly quotes numerous Calvinists, all of whom point to the same textual issues (especially the fact that John 6:44 says all those who are drawn are also raised up), his tradition is so thick and so impenetrable that he continuously misses the point. In fact, he can go on to make these claims (p. 126): 

    • Only in the imagination of a committed Calvinist do we see that all who are drawn by the Father come to Christ or believe in Christ. 
    • Only in the imagination of the committed Calvinist do we see that being drawn by the Father means that the one drawn must come to Christ
    • Only in the imagination of the committed Calvinist do we see that those who do not come to Christ were not drawn.

I invite the reader to review John 6:37-44 for a tremendous example of the power of tradition displayed in these incredible statements. Is it my committed Calvinist imagination that those given by the Father and those drawn by the Father are the same group? Is it my committed Calvinist imagination that all the Father gives to the Son as a result of being given come to the Son (Bryson rejects this simple grammatical and textual fact). Is it just my Calvinist imagination that the “him” who is drawn in 6:44 is the “him” who is raised up (another plain textual fact Bryson ignores)? One thing is for certain: the words of the Lord Jesus recorded for us in this passage continue to refute every vain effort made by men to mute their testimony to God’s utter sovereignty in the matter of salvation.

I should, however, note one positive thing: there are so many citations of good, solid Reformed sources in this book that I truly believe Mr. Bryson has unwittingly lent us a hand in “getting the word out.” Evidently he feels his replies are compelling, but in fact, most of the time, he simply does not provide a comprehensible, let alone a compelling, reply. Therefore, I truly believe we will see more folks coming to see the importance of rightly handling God’s truth in the matter of His sovereignty as a result of this book.

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