Contend Earnestly: Recap of My Allegation Against James White

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Recap of My Allegation Against James White

There have been 4 posts and 83 comments on my allegation against James White and the thoughts on God's desire of the salvation of all men. I honestly did not know that this would cause such a "stir" when I wrote my first post and didn't expect James White to respond to it directly on his radio show. What I want to do is do a recap of what has gone on so far and show that I still don't have an answer on what James White believes on God's desire. I also want to show that I tried to answer what James White said was my "responsibility" to do. I will say that Turretinfan has been more responsive, although elusive at times. I just received an email from Turretinfan about the use of "desire" but will not post or comment on it unless I get his permission first. My post here is going to be with regards to James White, since he decided to "throw down" on his radio show. :)

I want to demonstrate that I went ahead and answered James White's questions and wondered what his thoughts were on the questions that he directly questioned me on.

So, I just want to make some remarks based on his show and then ask for further guidance on his thoughts on the subject. If you want to hear the show, you can find it here. (the conversation in regards to Contend Earnestly starts around the 34 minute mark and last for about 7 minutes).

James White starts his listeners off by saying that my site is "interestingly titled, Contend Earnestly", as if it was mis-titled by me questioning a theologian about his theological convictions. That is odd. He then reads the post and gets a little perturbed when he reads, "I don't think any of us are saying that James White doesn't go out and evangelize or defend the faith. That isn't what the question is here." He states, while laughing, "It isn't the question of what I do, but it is just a matter of what I..." Again, James white acts as though the question on someone's theological conviction can't be challenged because of what we see them do. Take that same logic to the extreme and we have to ask why we would question a Mormon who lives a good life and helps the poor, etc. I think he knew that he faulted in that response and why he abandoned it and went on.

James White then states that he has written numerous books, numerous articles and debated not dozens of times, but multiple dozens of times on this topic. Later he comments that I have never read any of his books, which I am not sure where he pulled that from, because I have read many of his books. Now, I will admit that while reading them, I was not focused on trying to understand his understanding of the desire of God. So, I would have to ask, "Can you, James White, please point me to those writings so I can go re-read or re-listen to them?" By the way, the original claim was based, not on his written material, but on an answer that he gave on his own broadcast. I don't know if he changed his mind on the desire of God from the time of his writings, but I would assume that what he states in his answer would be his current belief. So, that is what I went off of.

He then says that I am bearing false witness. Wow. I would like to know how I beared false witness when I linked to his response and said that the disbelief in the desire of God for the salvation of the reprobate is a tenant of hyper-Calvinism. If this could be explained, that would be much appreciated.

James White then goes on to explain that he is an elder in Reformed Baptist church and that I need to show where he would differ from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, not only should I do this, but I was under "obligation to do so." So...I did...through someone I am sure he respects in Samuel Waldron. I not only did it through Waldron, but showed the differences he has with John Piper, John Murray, R.L. Dabney and Charles Spurgeon.

Dr. White then goes on to say that he doesn't respect someone who will not debate with him on these subjects. I have to say, debating is not the only tool within this and I can't answer for those who won't dialogue with him on this matter. But, with all that aside, I am not sure why he wouldn't respect a brother in Christ. That seems like a bit of an overstatement, but that is just my personal thought on the matter.

After this, James White decides to show that since he proclaimed the gospel and called for repentance then that means he is not a hyper Calvinist. This is what we would call "duty faith" and the "common call" of the gospel. Although most historical hypers didn't believe in duty faith or the common call, this does not mean that if you do these two things that one is cleared completely from the rest of the tenants of hyperism. I, again, know from watching Dr. White, listening to Dr. White, reading Dr. White, that he does these things. My question was on his denial of the desire of God for the reprobate. So, he is dealing with an issue that I didn't question him on. Very confusing.

He then describes my position of "desire" of God by using an Arminian explanation, not a Reformed one. He equates my question, by saying that if God desires the salvation of the reprobate that I must think that God is "eternally disappointed" because he decided he wanted to do something he didn't do. This is not the Reformed position on this, nor was it ever my question posed to him. He is drawing up a straw man, to try and make my claim sound ridiculous. The problem with this, is that I have many Reformed men who believe just as I do on the desire of God in regards to the Reprobate. And none of them believe that God would be "eternally disappointed" that an Arminian would hold to.

James White then says he gets upset that I took a potshot at him and that I hide behind the anonymity of the keyboard. What is pretty funny about this claim is that you can find out whatever you want about me. You could call my church and let my pastor know if I have offended you. You can know my convictions pretty easily as I use my real name in all my comments and all my posts. But the very one that brought this original post to James White, Turretinfan, is completely anonymous. James White says that he has very little respect for the approach of hiding behind the anonymity of the keyboard. I think what he meant to say is that he doesn't respect those who don't agree with him, because I believe he greatly respects Turretinfan even though Turretinfan is completely anonymous to anyone on the internet. That is very interesting to say the least.

I am not interested in debating with James White. I am not even interested in trying to "tear apart his ministry" in any way. I just want to know his understanding of the desire of God for the reprobate. I have demonstrated over and over through these posts and links that it is a Reformed position, both with the moderate and high Calvinist, to believe that there is a desire in God for the reprobates salvation. James White could very easily clear everything up by just saying,

"I am not sure about how it works, it is a mystery, but there is some way within God that he desires the salvation of the reprobate."

He has put forth some things that he believes I needed to do to substantiate my claims, and so I did. I would hope that if he is going to call me out on his radio show that he would have enough in him, to respond to what he stated that I was under responsibility to show. I guess we will wait and see. I am guessing that he just hopes that I go away.

There have been many jabs at some of my friends (Tony Byrne and David Ponter) through this discussion in regards to us "pulling statements out of context" but I have yet to see one actually demonstrated. It seems as though these few people like to claim these things, yet do not show these claims to have any merit. By way of understanding, unless you want us to post the entire book in a post, we are always going to have to pull partial quotes. That's kind of the point of pulling out quotes from books or longer theses.

Again, we will see if James White will give some sort of REFORMED (again not Arminian) response to the desire of God for the resprobate. I like what Tony posted:

It is blasphemous to think that God would be guilty of equivocation and deception, that He would say one thing and mean another, that He would earnestly plead with the sinner to repent and believe unto salvation, and at the same time not desire it in any sense of the word.

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), p. 462.


So, the question still stands, "Does James White believe in the desire of God for the salvation of the reprobate in the reformed understanding?"

We shall hopefully get a response.

13 comments:

Steve said...

I agree with your sentiments on this, Seth. I have no wish to label James White in a way that isn't accurate, but he has not responded in a way that gives a sensible man any comfort. "I evangelize" is simply not the point. Jesus condemned those who moved heaven and earth to make disciples and made them ten times more the children of the devil than themselves. And Paul spoke of those Jews who had a zeal for God, but not after knowledge. Zeal for evangelism and zeal for God *can be* simply a form of unbelief.

I'm not accusing White of unbelief (apart from his appalling unbelief in the simple truths of God's love for all men), but I am saying that zeal for God and zeal for evangelism is not an automatic answer for all theological questions. You have rightly pointed this out in your post.

I hope you don't mind me posting a link, but I've written a blog post on James White and hyper-Calvinism where I tried to answer some of White's objections to the reformed doctrine of God's love for all men.

natamllc said...

Seth,

as you probably know by now, I am not well versed in Reformed thinking. I am learning daily as I go, and some of it comes from you and this blog.

You wrote this:::> [So, the question still stands, "Does James White believe in the desire of God for the salvation of the reprobate in the reformed understanding?"]

First, I do not care about Turretinfan's anonymity or that I can find out some things about you and the business you are in or Dr. White. Dr. White and TF are associates and presummably Dr. White "knows" just exactly who he is?

It's the substance that matters.

In the above quote I would say, from what I believe, "my belief" now, God does not desire to save the reprobate and Jesus did not die for them.

I have Biblical texts and my own common sense to use to make that claim.

I heartily remember the debate between you and TF awhile back along with the heat between us all, DP and ynottony, about the definition of "world" and "all" and and and.

I am still waiting for that debate to end?

In any event, the other point that I think you make so well and is well taken at least by me, is the irony of the anonymity of TF in the mix with you and Dr. White:::>

Seth: [You can know my convictions pretty easily as I use my real name in all my comments and all my posts. But the very one that brought this original post to James White, Turretinfan, is completely anonymous. James White says that he has very little respect for the approach of hiding behind the anonymity of the keyboard. I think what he meant to say is that he doesn't respect those who don't agree with him, because I believe he greatly respects Turretinfan even though Turretinfan is completely anonymous to anyone on the internet. That is very interesting to say the least.].

I am not so sure that point is as interesting to make or say but, with respect for you, you said it and I acknowledged that I took it well.

Why do some of us use that way of blogging, anonymity? I don't know. I know that my name is Michael and when I blog, if I forget to sign my name at the bottom "michael", it looks like I am hiding behind the blogger name "natamllc", an acronym for "Native American Enterprises, LLC, the anonymous. In fact I was accused of that very thing, hiding behind anonymity, by someone and someone else commented that couldn't be the case seeing I signed off with my real name at that time and at times I don't and then pointed to one of my comments in that series of comments I was making where I did and another time where I did not. Even after pointing that out to the accuser, he would not come forward and go, ooops, sorry for my quick rash rush to judgment.

Maybe there is something to the fact that God, Our Perfect Eternal God, desires to work with His creatures, you and me, TF and Dr. White, imperfect perfect examples of our father Adam's imperfectness, knowing each and every one of us, who we are, why we exist? I don't know. I do believe God does not desire to save the reprobate. He desires to save those He gives the revelation to Who Jesus Is and What Jesus Did and what Jesus continues to do for Adam's fallen race, those He died for so that they receive redemption and salvation and restored to the perfect, loving, holy relationship with God Adam lost in the Garden.

Now to Steve's comment. I am glad he uses the term and word "unbelief" with regard to Dr. White.

Here is a, not so brand new, brand new to me, seeing I just now, for the first time, read this definition of unbelief, definition of unbelief:

UNBELIEF: Unbelief, on the other hand, is to seek one's own justice; to defend it over against God's justice; to insist on one's own achievements; to measure everything, both what is earthly and one's life before God, by one's own concept of good and evil. It means to measure God Himself by what we consider to be just and unjust, possible and impossible, useful and harmful, good and bad. Unbelief is the only sin against the First Commandment, which is the source and principle of all other transgressions.

Wow, for me now, that defines "unbelief" and what is wrong hereon between you and Dr. White.

I would ask Steve, in light of his comments about Dr. White, if he would like to retract his assertion of Dr. White being in unbelief?

Puritan Lad said...

Seth,

As a 5-pointer, I would like to address the verses that you brought up in this discussion. I haven't read all of your posts regarding this subject, so forgive me if I'm rehashing ground already tread.

First, if God loves "all men", without exception, how do you handle Psalm 5:5-6, or Romans 9:13? It is clear that God loves some and hates and abhors others. I realize that these words rub against the sensitivities of modern evangelicals, but they are biblical. (Also take note of the fact that God's love is only presented toward believers, never to the reprobate.)

Second, the penal/substitutionary view of the atonement is the only Biblical view, the only other option being salvation by works. Therefore, universal atonement = universalism. No other option will work.

Thirdly, your view makes God a little schizoid, desiring all men (without exception) to be saved, while at the same time creating them for the day of destruction (Prov. 16:4, Romans 9:22).

1.) ”The Lord is ... not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)

This would be a big problem for Limited Atonement, if this is actually what the verse said. What it actually says is...

2 Peter 3:9
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

The promise and the patience is “toward us”, not to every person on planet earth. Who is "us"? Who is Peter writing to?

2 Peter 1:1
"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:"

Peter is writing this to the elect, "To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ". This verse is absolutely true. God is not willing that any of his elect should perish, but that all of them should come to repentance. And they will...

2.) Christ is said to have died for "the whole world" (1 John 2:2) or "all men" (1 Timothy 2:4).

It can readily be established that these phrases are rarely used in a universal sense, not only in Scripture, but in normal everyday usage. These words were usually spoken (John 3:16) or written to Jewish believers to explain that the Messiah wasn't just a Messiah for Jews, but for "the whole world", ie. "all men without distinction" rather than "all men without exception". 1 John 2:7 says, "Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning", suggesting that John was writing this epistle to Jewish Christians, who had the Old Commandment from the beginning. In 1 Timothy 2, Paul is clearly defending his ministry to the gentiles (1 Timothy 2:7).

The biggest problem with interpreting such phrases universally is that doing so would result in universal salvation. For example, if “the world” in 2 Corinthians 5:19 were taken to mean every single person who ever lived, then we would have to believe that God through Christ has reconciled every single person who ever lived to Himself, ie. universal salvation. The same would apply to 1 John 2:2, where Christ is the propitiation (not possible, but actual) for the sins of every person who ever lived, in which case God would be unjust in punishing anyone for sins after He has already punished Christ for them. Likewise, if “all men” in Romans 5:18 were taken to mean all men without exception, as opposed to all types of men, then we would be force to conclude that “one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” without exception. This idea, however, is refuted in the very next verse (as well as a plethora of other Scriptures.)

Christ died for His Sheep, His church, and His elect. Christ’s work on the cross was effective in providing actual, not potential, redemption, abolishing death (2 Timothy 1:10), in order to “sanctify and cleanse His Church” (Romans 5:25-27). He bore our iniquities (Isaiah 53:11), and paid the ransom for many. Christ’s work of atonement is finished, and it saves all that it intended to save.

Finally, I would advise the previous commenter to be careful about labeling someone as an unbeliever without thoroughly showing what he does not beleive. Some of the passages I listed above may challenge their own belief. I'll check in occassionally as we continue to discuss, but I'll be out most of the day.

Blessings,

PL

Seth McBee said...

Puritan Lad.

We have spoken a lot before in other areas and I do respect you and love talking about our theological similarities and differences. What I will ask you is a couple of things.

As far as the atonement, I have spent a lot of time going through that subject and don't mind rehashing some of it again, but that is not the point of these posts with James White. So, on that subject I am going to table that for now if you don't mind.

Secondly. In regards to the desire of God for the reprobate, I would ask you to at least read the posts involved. They aren't too long, and you will see that I am not positing some Arminian view of God wringing his hands while having some eternal disappointment that he couldn't accomplish what he desired. It is a reformed understanding and is dealt with by a lot of contemporary reformers and historic ones as well.

And by way of note...I don't believe that God loves all men without exception. I believe God loves the whole world, especially the elect.

Take a look if you could in regards to the posts I have put up and then we can talk about them.

I hope you are doing well. We used to talk more on the Reformed Evangelist Forums, but I haven't had time to be over there lately.

Keep in touch.

Seth McBee said...

Also

Michael and Puritan Lad.

Re-read Steve's comment...he isn't saying that James White isn't saved. You'll have to read my post though to understand why he is commenting on "zeal for God" not necessarily equaling faith in the Triune God of the Bible.

natamllc said...

Seth

agreed, I am not saying Steve is saying that at all.

Maybe we are talking or typing in this case over one another and because we are not in a room talking, we are not able to clarify what one said, or in this case typed that they meant.

I was, and most likely shouldn't have, taking exception to a portion of what Steve typed hereon and was limiting myself to that.

Here is the exception taken that I pointed to, in a limited atoning fashion, you might type? :):::>

Steve: "....[(apart from his appalling unbelief in the simple truths of God's love for all men), ]...."

Steve doesn't need to infer that and type that sort of thing. Dr. White is not appalling in any way, [except for the bald head, but actually his bald head isn't very pale on the video clips but quite shiney! :)] and as much as I know of the man, TF more likely knows more personally the man and firsthand, he doesn't "appall" any of his apologetics to even his worsed boarish debaters, but rather, as I can attest, he has showed much kindness instead while some of them are appalling in response to his defenses.

Dr. White hasn't been offensive. You haven't. So again, along with Puritan Lad, unless of course I did not understand the "admonition" he gave above, I again appeal to Steve to step to the plate and acknowledge, at a minimum that I took exception to those words:::>

Steve: "....[(apart from his appalling unbelief in the simple truths of God's love for all men), ]...."

The Proverb is 'death' and "Life" are in the power of the tongue.

And Ecclesiastes says:

Ecc 10:1 Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
Ecc 10:2 A wise man's heart inclines him to the right, but a fool's heart to the left.

Steve said...

Just to respond a bit regarding "unbelief." I like the definition you posted, natamllc, and I think it fits the case well. White is in unbelief regarding plain Bible truths. That is, he holds his own judgment regarding what God is and is not, what God can and cannot do, as superior to God's revelation of Himself. "I see no reason to believe" is White's official position on this topic. White's position, in my opinion, is classic unbelief of a plain Bible truth.

Now, I do not call White an unbeliever -- if you know what I mean. He professes faith in Jesus Christ, and I have no reason to doubt that ... I count White as a brother in Christ. An erring brother, to be sure, but a brother nonetheless.

As to characterizing his unbelief as "appalling," I stick by that too. It is appalling in several respects: 1) it misrepresents the God who IS love. 2) It disbelieves and distorts (to support that disbelief) plain passages of scripture. 3) It misunderstands and/or intentionally misrepresents the history of the reformed faith. 4) It misleads Arminians and many Calvinists regarding the nature of our theology. 5) White *ought* to know better. White's is appalling unbelief. 6) The consequences of White's doctrine of God are destructive to holiness.

So I stick by my position. White does not believe (as he would admit) that God loves all men. This is appalling unbelief for the reasons (among others, perhaps) I listed above.

Puritan Lad said...

Steve,

I haven't read through all the posts yet, but what would be your response to this portion of my previous comment?

"...if God loves "all men", without exception, how do you handle Psalm 5:5-6, or Romans 9:13? It is clear that God loves some and hates and abhors others. I realize that these words rub against the sensitivities of modern evangelicals, but they are biblical. (Also take note of the fact that God's love is only presented toward believers, never to the reprobate.)"

Seth McBee said...

PL.
I would answer this that God's emotions are not an "either or" operation. They are a both/and.

The reason is that if we believe that God hates the sinner as Psalm 5 puts forth and Eph 2 states that the elect were once under the wrath of God, yet God still has an electing love towards the elect, then we can see that God can both hate and love someone at the same time.

God loves his enemies and yet hates them at the same time.

It's the same thought when God is angered at our sin and then sees our works as a fragrant aroma. God is eternal, so his emotions are very complex indeed, but this doesn't negate that they aren't there.

natamllc said...

Thanks Steve for the "tenor" of your reply. It reads volumnes for me, albeit, you must already understand I am not totally in step with your respect.

I respect the fact that we do differ as brothers because of Christ's death, burial and resurrection, that that He did so God can reconcile us to Him!

I am glad you liked that definition. My Pastor sent an article by a German Theologian by the name of Hans Iwand where he defines unbelief that way. It struck me in the heart and caused me some unsettling to get come to grips with that definition as I find my addicted to wanting things to be my way, my definition of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust and it never occurred to me that unbelief is the sin that violates the first commandment and in doing that, I am breaking all the rest!

I do hope Dr. White has the time to email or post in here. Maybe TF can convince him to do that?

I highly regard TF and the work he does at his blog! I have found him at least to have thick skin and a tender heart especially with the errant sinners who post comments refuting his theology and apologetics.

I do have to admit that Dr. White in the videos I have watched comes across with a stern ascertiveness and maybe that zeal and boldness is what is catching you off guard?

I like his message and how he debates the RCC and Muslim people.

I didn't sense those things you point out. I will now be looking for that if and when I listen to another video of his or happily am able to be present in person when he is doing a lecture or debate.

Have you met him personally?

by His Grace
michael

Steve said...

Hi Michael. No, I have never met White personally, though I have long wished to do so.

The essential thing ... in all of our theologizing ... is that we let our thoughts about God be guided -- nay determined -- by God. Thus when our logic (since it may be flawed in many respects) stands in the way of sound interpretation, logic must step aside -- temporarily, one hopes. Logic must never tyrranize good reading ... especially regarding God's revelation of himself and his salvation.

Steve said...

Hi Puritan Lad. You asked about this comment: "...if God loves "all men", without exception, how do you handle Psalm 5:5-6, or Romans 9:13? It is clear that God loves some and hates and abhors others. I realize that these words rub against the sensitivities of modern evangelicals, but they are biblical. (Also take note of the fact that God's love is only presented toward believers, never to the reprobate.)"

Psalm 5:5 is strong, to be sure. But notice that it says that God hates "all workers of iniquity." ALL. Are we not workers of iniquity, you and me? Yea, verily. But doesn't he love us? Yea, verily. Calvin speaks of this difficult point in the Institutes ... I'll have to post the citation later. God can and does both love and hate sinners. The fact that God says that he hates all workers of iniquity cannot be allowed to deny the fact that God says he loved the world or that he loves his enemies (Matt 5) or that his goodness leads men (even the unbelieving Jews of Paul's day) to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Regarding Romans 9:13, my answer would be the same. Look at the first 4 verses of that chapter. Does Paul evince a love for his countrymen that does not reflect the love of God? I think not. Or What of 10:1? Is God loving unbelievers through Paul's prayers for them? It seems fairly obvious to me. Paul's heart is not one of "glory for the elect, but only wrath for the reprobate." Paul loved them and prayed for them. Is Paul's love for unbelievers (many of whom were not elect) a reflection of God's love? Or was Paul off on his own there?

I'll post that Calvin quote later today if I can find it in a timely manner.

Steve said...

Puritan lad, I refer you to Institutes 2.16.3 and 2.16.4. Here's 2.16.4:

4. For this reason Paul says, that God "has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world," (Eph. 1:3, 4). These things are clear and conformable to Scripture, and admirably reconcile the passages in which it is said, that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," (John 3:16); and yet that it was "when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son," (Rom. 5:10). But to give additional assurance to those who require the authority of the ancient Church, I will quote a passage of Augustine to the same effect: "Incomprehensible and immutable is the love of God. For it was not after we were reconciled to him by the blood of his Son that he began to love us, but he loved us before the foundation of the world, that with his only begotten Son we too might be sons of God before we were any thing at all. Our being reconciled by the death of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us, but that we were reconciled to him already, loving, though at enmity with us because of sin. To the truth of both propositions we have the attestation of the Apostle, `God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,' (Rom. 5:8). Therefore he had this love towards us even when, exercising enmity towards him, we were the workers of iniquity. Accordingly in a manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love what he had made." Such are the words of Augustine (Tract in Jo. 110).

End quote of Calvin. In the same manner that God "loved when he hated us," (referring to the elect), he also loves while hating the reprobate. This does not result in their salvation, but it touches on salvation nonetheless: God provides for their salvation, invites them to Christ, etc. And thus their damnation is increased for their refusal to respond to God's gracious proposals.

Regarding your allegation that God never expresses his love to the reprobate, that is simply not true and is denied in several scriptures.

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