Calvinism Affirmed by James White
James White makes a GREAT point when he says this; "To truly practice sola scriptura, we must test our traditions by the ultimate authority of God's Word, even if they are beliefs we have held for many years and have had pounded into our heads in sermon after sermon."
We must practice Sola Scriptura; finding our answers ONLY from God's Word and NOT from the traditions of man. Even if we've held these traditions for years, we must toss them aside and receive our beliefs from the Word of God alone. AMEN, White. I totally agree. Now what's sad about this, is that a little later on in Mr. White's writing he goes against this very thing he advocates, and practices eisegesis (reading and interpreting Scripture with a preconceived idea or tradition in mind). So It bothers me just a bit that he is so advocating sola scriptura (which is a great thing) yet failing to follow through and apply that to his own studies.
James White states "...The Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all things, that man is a fallen creature, and that God saves perfectly in Jesus Christ. It is the consistent application of sola scriptura (scripture alone) and tota scriptura (all of Scripture) that leads inevitable to the doctrines of grace."
What I'm not getting how James White, pulling those three truths from application of sola scriptura, can come to a conclusion that those three points lead inevitably to the doctrines of grace. They lead to exactly what they say and imply, and could just as easily be used to support a belief in free-will. Just because God is sovereign, does not mean that He cannot give His creation free will. Just because man is a fallen creature, does not mean that he cannot respond to a calling of grace and be saved. And just because God saves perfectly in Jesus Christ does not mean that God does not save all that come to Him as a response to His calling, as He calls all men. So where in those three points from scripture are we seeing the 'inevitable doctrines of grace'?
White is talking about Hunt's stance on the love God and how his view means that "God's love for the apostle John in Heaven will be equal to, and completely undifferentiated from, the love He will have for Adolf Hitler as he undergoes God's wrath in hell for eternity."
I submit this; YES, God DOES love them the same. John is now soaking up the wonderful intimacy God has to offer. John was bestowed blessings and grace and beauty from His Creator, while Hitler did not. Why? Because Hitler chose not to receive it. God loves them the same. If God can love a filthy creature like me SO much that He would be willing to pour out His wrath on His only Begotten perfect Son in my place, then He can love Hitler just as much as He can love John the Apostle - Because John was once just as disgusting before coming to the grace of God. Though it pleased God to crush Him, as Isiah puts it, do you really believe God was rejoicing and jumping for joy when He poured out His wrath upon the Son? Of course not. Can you imagine the heartbreak that Father felt for His Son, being separated from Him for the first time in all of eternity? But because we were lifted up while Christ was pushed down, does that mean that Father loves us more than the Son? I don't believe so. I honestly believe the love is equal. That could be an extreme and un-true statement. So please don't bank your own beliefs on that. But, from my perception of how the cross went down, Father has got to have some kind of mad equal love for us as for the Son if He was willing to go that far. Therefore, I have a very easy time believing that God loves two sinful human beings the same, regardless of their response to Him. Because God shows unconditional love. And unconditional love is a love that is displayed and kept regardless of how the one being loved reacts or responds. Scripture backs up that God's love is unconditional. And it cannot be unconditional if God lowers the amount or depth of His love based on the object's response to it. Then again, in Calvinism, there is no 'response'. So I guess that confuses me even more. And I'd really rather not even trying to get into that. So, because this is my blog, I won't! I love this.
White talks about different love. He's absolutely right about different love. Not more love. But the love becomes intimate once activated into a relationship between God and regenerated man. The love becomes mutual. God loves us the same. But our response to that love is what changes the relationship and experience. It changes everything, our response does. It makes that love different - but not more.
White uses eisegesis to make a point. John 19:26 states that Jesus loved John. But just because Jesus loved one person, doesn't imply that He didn't love the others the same. Again, If I say that I love my mom, it does not even come close to implying that I love her more than I love my father. Yet somehow White pulls from this verse that Jesus must have loved John with a different love than the love He had for all of the other apostles.
White implies that since God is above man, and that since man can differentiate love between different people, and because we can love some people more, less, or different than others, God must be able to do the same. I would submit that maybe what makes God so great is that He is so above showing love with partiality to some. Maybe we are such fallen creatures that we do not know how love as God loves - without partiality or differentiation. Maybe what makes God bigger than us is that very fact of Him not showing partiality in His love.
White insists that for man to have a say in his salvation, God fails when some don't get saved. Yet I would submit that it isn't that God fails, but that He is willing to endure the heartbreak of rejection by the very creation that He loves just to embrace and have the ones that will love Him. He gives free will because He wants real love, and real love can only stem from a choice, therefore God, wanting nothing less than a real love, is willing to endure rejection - not failure. He doesn't fail to save. It isn't even that He tries to save all men. He simply places a calling in every man's life and allows man to make that decision for himself, to choose love.
I will admit that White makes a valid point. He states that to believe in free-will, we must "conclude that God will be eternally unhappy, since He will love those in hell with the very same kind of undifferentiated love He has for the myriad redeemed surrounding His throne." He makes sense, because we know that God is never empty. He doesn't need us to be happy. He satisfies Himself. Therefore, we know that God cannot be eternally unhappy - it goes against God Himself. Yet we also know that it is God's will that no man should perish (2 Peter 2:9) - and since that will is not satisfied, we must also take into consideration the effect that would have on God, eternally speaking.
"...And every single person who enters into eternal punishment would, were the given the opportunity, freely choose to remain under punishment rather than bow the knee in loving adoration of the God they hate."
I'm not so sure I agree with this. I'm not saying I completely don't. But I want to think this one through. I know that before we come to God, we hate Him. I know that. I'm fully aware. I hated God with my life before I came to Him, and so did everybody else. But here's the thing with eternal punishment - it wouldn't be punishment and torment if it weren't completely opposite of what the person being punished would want. You spank a child or place them in time-out as punishment because you know that it's exactly what the child does not want. Nobody wants to go to go to hell. Nobody wants to burn for all of eternity. Nobody wants to be in a place where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Nobody will enjoy hell. And everybody in hell, I believe, will be regretting for all of eternity that they never came to Christ and accepted His grace when they had the chance. Hell is separation from God and all that is good. If a person is enjoying it, it's not punishment. And if they weren't enjoying it, they would be wanting the complete opposite. That's what makes it torture; the fact that they would give anything to get out of where they are, yet they never can. Honestly, I believe that people in hell will have their eyes opened to who God truly is just so that they know exactly what they missed out on. That's what would make it torment. And if they were given the chance, they would crawl to the throne of God and beg for forgiveness. Do you really think that when Jesus says to them "depart from me, I never knew you" they're going to be jumping for joy? No. They're going to be begging Christ to save them, but it will be too late. Therein lies their punishment. That's what makes hell, hell.
Calvinism Denied by Dave Hunt
"Jay Adams had written, 'As a reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him...No man knows except Christ Himself who are his elect for whom He died.'"
This is probably my biggest problem with Calvinism. Is that this is what it's doing.
And the rest of Dave Hunt's introduction was basically an entire history of Calvin, and his un-Christ-like ways and actions that derived from his beliefs and strong opposition to those that didn't feel the same. Though he said some hard hitting stuff that needs to be mentioned, I don't want to write about any of it as an argument until I do some historical research and back up these claims that were made. Because, according to Hunt, Calvin basically had men killed off for not believing as he did.
And that concludes my thoughts on the introduction to 'Debating Calvinism'.
I cannot wait to see what the rest has in store.