Wednesday, February 29, 2012

James White's recent abuse of Baptist brethren


Earlier today, I finally got around to listening to the February 9th, 2012 Dividing Line program (link). My interest in doing so was due to the fact that the blog description of the program stated, "the last half hour of the program" was to get "back into the Ehrman/Wallace debate" (i.e. the 3rd); the debate which I recently commented on here at AF (link).

I have learned from past experience/s that it is best to take in James White's programs from the beginning, rather than attempting to locate the section that I am actually interested in. This meant that I would also be listening to, "a one hour segment of Radio Free Geneva, reading a few interesting statements found on line, then getting back to Emir Caner's anti-Calvinism sermon from 2011."

Well, folks, I don't know how many others who read this blog have listened to this particular program, but I must say, I was quite disappointed with the "Radio Free Geneva" portion (which starts at about the 36:50 mark). Around the 43:00 mark, James begins a diatribe against an online article published at the Times-Herald.com site, which was penned the Baptist pastor, Daniel Ausbun (LINK; first installment, HERE), by quoting the following selection from the 2nd installment of Daniel's two part series:


Pastor Daniel Ausbun: What is unconditional election? Election is unconditional in the sense that it is based not upon our decision for God, but rather upon God's decision for us. From eternity past it has been decreed that the elect must be saved and non-elect cannot be saved. I do not believe you can put yourself under the authority of Scripture and not believe in election. Hebrews 2:9 affirms, "by God's grace He might taste death for everyone." 1 Timothy 2:4 says Jesus desires "everyone to be saved." The Greek for this verse literally means, "who willeth all men." God desires all men to be saved and "come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4)...

...Was the atonement limited to only the elect? This belief is that Christ only bore the punishment due for the sins of the elect alone. Consequently, no one else can or will receive the saving benefits of His death. Four key texts in the New Testament affirm an unlimited atonement, referring to the "world" (John 1:29; 3:16-17; 17:6; 1 John 2:2).

James White: 44:20 ff - What I wanted to focus on was this, this phraseology:

From eternity past it has been decreed that the elect must be saved, and non-elect cannot be saved.

Now, I've never heard a Calvinist speak like that; and it is interesting to me that so often when we listen to anti-Calvinists, when, when we listen to those who—you know, and some of them might not want to be called anti-Calvinists, but I, I think if you misrepresent what the other side says, after having been corrected repeatedly, then I think that, you know, it might mean that at least, a slightly appropriate description of you—but folks who make it their business to attack Reformed theology in various contexts, uh, uh, whether it be, you know, firing all the Reformed folks in a college when you take over as president, uhhh, or making it difficult for Reformed students to make it through certain programs in certain schools, and the rest of that stuff; why is it that they can't represent the positions that they are attacking in an accurate way? Why it that?

I don't, I don't really understand—well, I do understand why—but, from a Christian perspective, I don't understand how a person who in other areas might bend over backwards to be fair and truthful, and everything else; you come to this one area and it's like forget that, let's not worry about the fair and truthful part anymore, at all; and it seems like they even put out an effort to make sure to utilize language that will carry the most emotional baggage.

Now I think there are probably—and, and if you don't like my books, there are a lot of people who have written books on this subject—you can look at R.C. Sproul...

47:00 ff - Something tells me that you could find a meaningfully accurate definition of unconditional election, that would be acceptable to Reformed people. But, that's not what you get here...

50:00 ff - The non-elect do not desire to have their heart of stone taken out!


If one reads ALL that Pastor Daniel Ausbun has written in BOTH installments, is it truly fair to say that he has been inaccurate? I have read over the material twice now, and cannot in good conscience make the claims that James' has done. IMO, James has been abusive in his treatment of Pastor Ausbun, if not deceptive. But there is more...

Later, in the same program, James shifts his focus from Pastor Ausbun, to yet another Baptist, Emir Caner, the brother of Ergun Caner (two of James' 'favorites' when it comes to verbal and written abuse). At approximately the 1:13 mark, James provides the following audio clip from Emir:


Emir Caner: As C.S. Lewis would say, love if it is ravishing, or if we would put it our terms, God is not a divine rapist.

James White: Yeah, God is not a divine rapist. But it, it God is in fact a divine resurrector. And it's just as foolish, and foolhardy, and wrong, to refer to the great miracle of regeneration as rape, as it would be to say that Jesus raped Lazarus in raising him from the dead, because he didn't ask him if he wanted to be raised from the dead.

Look, what these men object to is the very language of Scripture itself. I'm not the one who came up with the heart of stone, heart of flesh thing. You got to blame the guy who lived a long time ago for that, named Ezekiel. He's the one who wrote it down, not me. And, are you really saying that when the wind blows over the valley of the dry bones, that this is some kind, because it's powerful, and because it's monergistic that it's to be likened to rape?!!!

Synergists who use this example—Emir Caner, Ergun Caner, Norman Geisler—should be ashamed of themselves for behaving in this manner. It is dishonest to utilize this language; it's the only way to put it. How else could you put it? To try to force a connection between resurrection power and sinful, sexual violence—who even thought of it I wonder, who was the first one to come up with it; I know it wasn't Norman Geisler, he certainly uses it enough; I wonder who came up with it first—I would not want be that person when I stand before God...


Oh really??? This is where James' remarks get even more bizarre, for earlier in the same program he recommended the works of Dr. R.C. Sproul (see above), and Dr. Sproul utilizes the very language that James condemns as being "dishonest"!!!

I have provided in two previous posts here at AF (http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/07/rc-sproul-if-we-grant-that-god-can-save.html; http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/07/rc-sproul-and-holy-rape-of-soul.html) the following documented comments from the pen of Dr. Sproul:

“Does God have the power to insure the salvation of everyone?” Certainly it is within God’s power to change the heart of every impenitent sinner and bring that sinner to himself. (Page 35.)

The non-Reformed thinker usually responds by saying that for God to impose his power on unwilling people is to violate man’s freedom. To violate man’s freedom is sin. Since God cannot sin, he cannot unilaterally impose his saving grace on unwilling sinners. To force a sinner to be willing when the sinner is not willing is to violate the sinner. The idea is that by offering the grace of the gospel God does everything he can to help the sinner get saved. He has the raw power to coerce men but the use of such power would be foreign to God’s righteousness.

That does not bring much comfort to the sinner in hell. The sinner in hell must be asking, “God, if you really loved me, why didn’t you coerce me to believe? I would rather have had my free will violated than to be here in the eternal place of torment.” (Pages 35, 36.)

The question remains. Why does God only save some? If we grant that God can save men by violating their wills, then why does he not violate everybody’s will and bring them all to salvation? (I am using the word violate here not because I really think there is any wrongful violation but because the non-Calvinist insists on the term.) (Page 36.) [R.C. Sproul, Chosen By God - bold emphasis mine.]

And:

On the fourteenth night the battle ceased. The hound prevailed and Scooter had no alternative. This was not a religious decision; it was unconditional surrender, a docile submission to the holy rape of the soul.(R.C. Sproul, Thy Brother's Keeper, p. 58 - bold emphasis mine.)

Dr. Sproul is not the only Reformed gent who utilizes the very language that James' condemns, but hey, let's ignore the facts, and support his continued abuse of non-Reformed Baptist brethren...


Grace and peace,

David

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The 3rd Ehrman-Wallace debate

As many probably already know, a third debate between Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Daniel Wallace concerning the text of the New Testament took place on February 1, 2012. Two excellent summations of the debate have been posted (one by Dr. Wallace himself), and both include some pretty high-level dialogue (for the internet) in the respective comboxes.

Link to Dr. Wallace's summation (with 82 comments)

Link to Dr. Köstenberger's summation (with 37 comments)


Now, I would like to 'spice-up' the debate a bit, by introducing a third perspective on this issue (the first being the conservative minority text presupposition [i.e. Wallace's]; the second being the agnostic/atheist presupposition [i.e Ehrman's]): the conservative, majority text presupposition.

Back in 2009, Kent Brandenburg delved into the epistemology of textual criticism in the following posts:

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Additional reflections

And a bit earlier, Kent provided reflections on the related debate between Dr. Ehrman and James White:

First Impressions of the Ehrman-White Debate


A lot to take in and reflect upon...


Grace and peace,

David

Friday, February 10, 2012

Martin Luther: "the name 'Trinity' is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man"


Did the title of this post get your attention?

Lest my detractors hurl accusations of 'quoting out of context', and/or 'inaccuracy' in my direction, I want to make it quite clear from the start that Luther WAS NOT questioning the 'doctrine of the Trinity'; rather, he was advancing the notion that it is better to stick with Scriptural terminology, and refrain from non-Scriptural language. The following is the quote from the thread title in greater context:

I. THE HOLY TRINITY.

1. Today we celebrate the festival of the Holy Trinity, to which we must briefly allude, so that we may not celebrate it in vain. It is indeed true that the name "Trinity" is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man. For this reason it sounds somewhat cold and we had better speak of "God" than of the "Trinity."

2. This word signifies that there are three persons in God. It is a heavenly mystery which the world cannot understand. I have often told you that this, as well as every other article of faith, must not be based upon reason or comparisons, but must be understood and established by means of passages from the Scriptures, for God has the only perfect knowledge and knows how to speak concerning himself.

3. The great universities have invented manifold distinctions, dreams and fictions by means of which they would explain the Holy Trinity, and have made fools of themselves. We shall therefore quote only passages from the Scriptures in order to determine and establish the divinity of Christ. (Martin Luther, "Sunday After Pentecost, or Trinity Sunday", in Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 3, edited and translated by John Nicholas Lenker, Baker Book House reprint (n.d.) of The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, 1907 edition, vol. 12, pp. 406-407 - bold emphasis mine.)

[NOTE: the 1907 edition is available online for free reading and/or download: LINK; the page numbers in both editions are the same.*]

Immediately following the above selection, Luther begins to list and discuss "passages from the Scriptures", used "to determine and establish the divinity of Christ." I think most will agree that some are considerably 'stronger' than others in his attempt to accomplish the task set forth. He finishes Part I of the sermon with:

Therefore, we cling to the Scriptures, those passages which testify of the Trinity of God, and we say: I know very well that in God there are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; but how they can be one I do not know, neither should I know it. This may suffice for the first part. (Ibid. pp. 410, 411 - bold emphasis mine.)

Some very interesting 'honesty' from the pen of the 'good' Doctor...


Grace and peace,

David

*On page 405, the editor provides an introduction to Luther's above mentioned sermon based on John 3:1-5:

This sermon, which is not found in edition c, appeared in two pamphlet editions in 1522 and 1523. The title of the first was, ''A sermon of Dr. Martin Luther, Preached on the Day of the Holy Trinity on the Gospel, John 3. Wittenberg (1522)." German text: Erlangen Edition, 12, 407; Walch Edition, II, 1547; St. Louis Walch, 11, 1146.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yet another OPC pastor has entered the Catholic Church


Earlier today, I learned that yet another ordained pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church has entered the Catholic Church. On February 7th, 2012, at the website, Called To Communion, the thread, An OPC Pastor Enters the Catholic Church, was posted. The following selection is from the opening of that post:

Please welcome our first of two newly added authors at Called To Communion, Jason Stewart. Jason was an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) before he and his wife Cindy entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in January of 2011. He earned his Master of Divinity from Mid-America Reformed Seminary (Dyer, IN) in 2005, and subsequently served for 5 1/2 years as pastor of Trinity OPC in eastern Pennsylvania. Jason and Cindy live in Rockford, IL, and have four children.

A bit later, Jason Stewart writes:

Our decision to leave Presbyterianism for the Catholic Church surprised many. We can sympathize given that in the past we’d have been incredulous if told we’d be Catholic one day. And yet looking back now from our vantage point we can trace the trajectory that led us to full communion with the Catholic Church, and it’s a trajectory that progressed naturally and imperceptibly over time - a growing appreciation for the necessity and role of the visible Church; a deepening understanding of the sacramental nature of the Christian faith; the apostolic quality intrinsic to Church authority; the unique function of the Minister of the Gospel in the liturgy and life of the Church; the inescapable dynamic of tradition within the Christian Faith; and an increasing awareness of the implications of the adjectives “one” and ”catholic” as used by the Nicene Creed to identify the Church of Jesus Christ. Each of these areas of faith track back from where we are now as Catholics to where we were when Reformed. They prepared the way for us to give serious consideration to the Catholic faith when the time came.

There is, of course, so much more to Jason's conversion story, and I see that there is already 64 comments!!!

I am off for a bike ride; when I return, I will get to those 64 (and possibly more) comments, which should prove to be almost as interesting as the original post itself.


Grace and peace,

David