Contend Earnestly: When Friends Err: Part I

Monday, November 10, 2008

When Friends Err: Part I

This is a very hard subject. What do we do when our friends in ministry are in error on theological subjects and others point it out? Because I am not in the spotlight like some, although I have dealt with this subject, I haven't dealt with the subject in the public eye. I have had to correct friends of mine who have taught error and had to correct them in front of groups because of questions being posed to me because of the teaching of this individual. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary. Did this person hold it against me? Actually no. I went to him beforehand to let him know and then proceeded to do in a way that hopefully was very God honoring.

The issue I have is the fact that we have those in the public eye, who come up with formulas of labeling others, but when faced with one of their friends in this area they start to back peddle. It is really some sort of friendship bias because they "know" the person. To me, this doesn't make sense. What good is it to have clearly defined labels if they aren't followed through with? What good is it to clearly define some dangers in the modern evangelical circles if when these definitions are then put to friends that those who pose these definitions back off? This is clearly dangerous to do, and very confusing.

I know you are crying for examples so let me give you some. One is general and then the others will be specific. The most general one that I find are with those religions that we deem as against Protestant Christianity. We preach and defend against these, whether it is Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, Mormonism or Islam. What I find interesting is that preachers around the nation don't have the balls to follow through with their exclusive claims of the cross. If we believe that only those who believe in Jesus Christ are saved, then if someone doesn't not believe in the efficacy of the Christ and His atonement, then they are outside of the faith. What is found though, is that when some are pressured, they will throw up their hands and say, "I leave that to God." While I understand this to an extent, and the statement is ultimately true, we should have the guts to at least state, "If they do not believe in the Christ alone, and his efficacy, then they are outside of the faith and will go to hell." This is a far better response than what we have found with some within contemporary circles (here and here). Take a stand. Say something to defend Jesus, not your friend.

Specifically now.

Last year I visited the Resurgence Conference 2007 with Bruce Ware. I really like Bruce Ware and believe his thoughts on the atonement and his convictions in general are much like my own. Dr. Ware's most widely heard ministry is against Open Theism. The conference that I attended was called, "Where the Hands of God and Hands of Man Meet." It was about Calvinism (Reformed), Arminianism and Open Theism. Bruce Ware went through a complete weekend of just hammering Open Theist positions and called out their error quickly and succinctly. He even brought up a great passage when speaking to the Open Theist in Isaiah 41:21-24

“Present your case,” the Lord says.
“Bring forward your strong arguments,”
The King of Jacob says.
Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place;
As for the former events, declare what they were,
That we may consider them and know their outcome.
Or announce to us what is coming;
Declare the things that are going to come afterward,
That we may know that you are gods;
Indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together.
Behold, you are of no account,
And your work amounts to nothing;
He who chooses you is an abomination.
Isaiah 41:21-24

This put me over the edge of thinking that Open Theism is outright heresy. We then found out that Bruce Ware, under his own admission, was close friends with some of the major proponents to this thought. Bruce broke this passage down to show that the Open Theist is worshiping another god and not the God of the Bible. So, during the Q&A someone asked, "Would you then consider Open Theism as heresy?" Bruce Ware responded by saying, "no, I would not. I have close friends who are open theists and find them to love Jesus very much." I had issues with this, so I stood up and had to question this. I put forth the logic to Dr. Ware that if we can't say that my mormon friend loves Jesus, therefore he is "in" then how is this different than his Open Theist friends? He responded that it was different. I then asked, "How is this different? You taught that they worship another god and that those who choose this god is an abomination. Do you know of anywhere in the Scriptures where a regenerated elect person of God is ever called an abomination?" He quickly moved on and didn't really respond to my questioning. He, by this Q&A just tore down his entire argument for the past couple of days. I was thinking, "Why is this such a big deal if they are one of the elect and saved?" It seemed like double talk. I greatly respect Dr. Ware, but this made little sense to me. I felt like he was giving a "pass" because his friends were involved in this area of theology.

Another example is more recent. This one involves James White and Phil Johnson. I respect Phil a lot yet find him sometimes irritating, probably because in our demeanor we are a lot a like. Phil and others historically have given definitions of what is deemed as hyper-Calvinism. If you want to see a great break down of the different levels of moderate, high and hyper Calvinism, check out Tony's chart here.

One of the defining points of hyperism is the thought that God has no desire to save the reprobate. Historically, Calvinism has thrown this idea back and forth, but landed with the fact of the two wills theory that was a proponent of Calvin himself. Meaning, that God has a revealed will and a secretive will. Meaning that although God desires all people to be saved, in his secretive will, not all can be saved. He chose some, and past over others for his own glory by the consulting of his own will alone. This would fall in line with the following:

“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
Ezekiel 18:23

“Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’
Ezekiel 33:11

There is much more to this argument and very easy to show that God does indeed desire for all men to be saved. Classic Calvinism would definitely agree with this as well. The problem here is that Phil Johnson has clearly laid out this definition of hyper Calvinism here and James White clearly denies the free offer and God's desire here. After reading the two, it is clear that James White falls into the historic definition (notice I said definition of, not labeling him as one outright) of a hyper Calvinist. But, we find Phil Johnson defending his friend here. I understand wanting to defend a friend, but this really is out of bounds to leave all definitions of what it means to be a hyper Calvinist and defend someone because you like them and have seen them in action. 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. The question and definitions are solely from a theological understanding on the free offer and desire of God. On this, James White is sorely in error, yet Phil Johnson seems to defend this error for only the reason of a friend being caught up in it. Just my perception.

This is disheartening for sure. What I hope happens behind closed doors is for Phil and James White to have some good discussions on the free offer and desire of God and for James White to be corrected in his error. But, I will tell you that James White's response to this allegation is immature and laughable. Instead of arguing from Scripture, like he tells all of his opponents to do, he merely tries to draw up straw men and argue from practice by belittling his opponents. Dr. White, just because you happen to be defending the faith on the weekend that this conference was going on, doesn't mean that this clears your name as a proponent of the historical claims of the gospel. At least be honest and respond in the ways that you desire your opponents to respond. Because if they would have made the same claims that you did in your response, you would have laughed at them and undercut them the first chance you got.

:::UPDATE:::

Let me say this. I would argue that because of White's definition and understanding of God's desire (found here) that this would at least be deemed as having hyper tendencies. He might not be a hyper Calvinist outright, but it would seem as though some of his thoughts on the desire and free offer would lean the way of the hyper Calvinist.

Tomorrow we will look at what we should do when a friend is found to be in error theologically and others notice this error and ask us about it.

46 comments:

Turretinfan said...

You know, James White's live webcast is on in about 10 minutes. Maybe you should call in and confront him voice-to-voice about this.

1-877-753-3341

-TurretinFan

Seth McBee said...

TF.
Which part? His response or his hyper tendencies?

If you are talking about his response, I have seen this before with White, and heard how he responds. So, not going to waste my time there.

If you are talking about his hyper tendencies, my post on that part was more on Phil Johnson than James White. I just don't get why we have definitions if we aren't going to apply them.

Turretinfan said...

Seth,

He responds by making critics back up their assertions. I don't think you can back up what you say, and I think that's the reason you don't call in.

His show is on-going at the moment - still 40 minutes to call in.

-TurretinFan

Lane Chaplin said...

"There is much more to this argument and very easy to show that God does indeed desire for all men to be saved. ... Dr. White, just because you happen to be defending the faith on the weekend that this conference was going on, doesn't mean that this clears your name as a proponent of the historical claims of the gospel."

I suggest that you show this in a subsequent post, Seth, if it is that easy. Otherwise, you shouldn't make claims without providing substantial arguments to back them. Claiming an argument is substantial without presenting it is not the same as presenting a substantial argument. James White addressed your post on the DL today, and it would have surely been beneficial to others if you would have been there to address what you have written to demonstrate the errors that you're claiming exist. Hopefully you will do this in the future, or I'm afraid that Turrentinfan's claim that "I don't think you can back up what you say, and I think that's the reason you don't call in." may prove to hold true.

Seth McBee said...

Lane.
You want me to present that God desires for the reprobate to be saved?

TF.
Fair enough. Your entitled to that. My objection as a whole, for this post, was not to prove that God does indeed desire the salvation of the reprobate. So, again, to go on and debate God's desire is not my intent. My problem with how White responded seemed pretty rash...that is all. I think he could have handled it better. That is just my opinion.

Steve said...

Thanks, Seth, for stepping into this minefield. I have wanted to avoid it ... so as not to sully my own blog ... but I'll try to pick my way through yours. :-)

Re. White ... it's all well and good that he denies that he's "hyper" (whatever that may mean). But that's just his opinion. It's all very well that he's zealous for evangelism ... but that isn't the issue. The question is very simple: does Dr. White believe that God desires the salvation of all men? The answer is clearly no, and he has spent some effort to vindicate that position.

I note that in White's brief "rebuttal" to David Allen, he does not deny the facts so much as deny the characterization of them. Does White believe that God desires the salvation of all men? "Let it be known that I believe God uses the proclamation of the gospel as the means by which He draws His own unto Himself; be it known that I believe we are commanded to evangelize...." Completely unresponsive. But White takes it to be (apparently) a resounding rebuttal of the "false" charge of hyper-Calvinism.

White could end the controversy quite simply ... just address the question whether God desires the salvation of all men and face the consequences of the position taken.

But ... that is a fond wish, methinks.

Until White takes a clearer stance (even PJ doesn't know where White stands on this issue, as it has apparently never come up) we are left to inference from his other statements. But I think the record is clear enough: simply, White does not believe that God desires all men to be saved.

Is that hyper-Calvinism? Tony says yes, White says no, and PJ says sometimes. Whether it's hyper-Calvinism or not, it is plainly a grotesque error and simple unbelief. Our Calvinism ought to be more robust and solid than to resort to denying obvious scriptural truths.

Regarding PJ ... He says White is not a hyper-Calvinist. All well and good. But again, that's just his opinion. The question with Johnson is the same as with White ... Does White deny that God desires all men to be saved? Johnson, too, ought to face up to the consequences of White's position. PJ's analysis of hyper-Calvinism ought to be amended, perhaps, to allow for the minor peccadilloes of friends and acquaintances.

But I'm not sure I fault Phil on that point. Perhaps all our theological categories ought to allow for minor defections here and there without our feeling entitled to pounce like so many vultures. There may be vultures out there lurking over our own theological statements as well.

Phil grants White a certain amount of grace. Fine. That need not change our assessment of White's position, though we may want to follow Phil's example in extending grace to the errant brother. And Phil should not confuse his extending grace to a brother with the authority to decide who is and who is not a hyper-Calvinist.

Seth McBee said...

TF:
You obviously know Dr. White better than I.

Let me ask you.

Does James White believe that there is a well meant offer of salvation to all peoples by God?

Does God desire for all, whether or not they are elect or reprobate, to be saved?

Thanks.

Hope life is well with you.

YnottonY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YnottonY said...

Steve said:

"I note that in White's brief "rebuttal" to David Allen, he does not deny the facts so much as deny the characterization of them."

Me now:

Bullseye! Spot on! Excellent way to put it, Steve.

YnottonY said...

Here was the substance of Dr. Allen's controversial conference statements:

__________________________
The Claims

1) Tom Ascol affirms God's universal saving will/desire.

2) James White denies God's universal saving will/desire.

3) Phil Johnson's Primer implies that one is a hyper-Calvinist if they deny God's universal saving will and desire [because of "sincere proposals," the point of Ezek. 33:11 in the very title of the Primer, his reference to John Murray on the Free Offer, etc.].

No one can deny the first two propositions. They can only try to challenge the third.

__________________________
Some Responses

1) Phil Johnson himself has not refuted Allen's claims. All Phil has said on his blog is that one is not hyper if they merely reject the terminology of "desire" with respect to God's universal saving will, and perhaps [he says he doesn't know yet] James White is of that sort. Phil seems to think the dispute involves mere quibbling over terms, or of importing Arminian views of God's desires. That too is false. Allen cited Ascol's two-fold aspect of God's will just before referencing White to make the point that these two men don't even agree IN THEIR VIEW OF CALVINISM. Furthermore, if Phil ends up arguing that "sincere proposals of mercy" given by God to all men generally does NOT necessarily presuppose God's willingness to save all generally, then he will be departing from Iain Murray's claims in the book Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism.

2) James White has only denied that he can be properly characterized [Steve's point] as a hyper-Calvinist because he believes in evangelism and preaching to all. He hasn't denied Allen's point about his view on the will of God and how it opposes Ascol's views. Furthermore, Iain Murray makes the point [as does Curt Daniel] that classical hyper-Calvinists were NOT against preaching to all. White is using Engelsma's [or the PRC] definition of hyper-Calvinism, and then arguing that he's not one on that premise. The premise itself should be rejected because it is a false definition.

3) Others have tried to make the differences a matter of hitting below the belt, as if Allen is just trying to separate friends. That too is irrelavent and completely false. As Steve said, "And Phil [I would add "and others"] should not confuse his extending grace to a brother with the authority to decide who is and who is not a hyper-Calvinist."

4) Then there are those who are just laughing at the claim itself, as if scorn itself suffices as a refutation.

Given these three major responses [and a 4th that doesn't count at all] so far, it seems that no one has cogently answered Allen's three-fold claim so far.

Anonymous said...

I'm a seven-point Calvinist, affirm the same confession of faith that White does, and affirm wholeheartedly White's understanding of the relevant biblical texts with regard to Gospel proclamation. On these points, my favorite preacher, John Piper, and myself are on the same page as White. Our common source book, of course, is the bible. If I didn't believe that God has infallibly ordained his elect to salvation (perfectly and specifically), I would be hard-pressed to even begin to attempt to hope that God might successfully use me to evangelize my Latter-day Saint friends. It appears that you are attempting to make our responsibility in evangelism and God's sovereignty in salvation congruent. The Gospel is to be preached to any and all without distinction. And God will call his beloved elect to himself. You now need to demonstrate White's error, rather than presuppose it based on your definitional claims. Have you read any of White's relevant works? Can you provide from those documents specific and substantiated allegations of theological error on his part? I don't believe that you will be able to do so. But, by all means, call in to DL and confront him personally if you believe that the errors are easily shown. I can assure you that he will leave a line open for you.

Best.

cks

Seth McBee said...

CKS.

Check out today's post for further clarification.

I confirm most of what you put, but I think that White and Piper differ in this area, but we shall soon find out...I hope.

Turretinfan said...

Seth asks: "Does James White believe that there is a well meant offer of salvation to all peoples by God?"

Perhaps you'd like to clarify what you mean by that. The term "well meant offer" has taken on lots of different connotations to different people. What are you trying to get at it with it?

Dr. White does believe that God calls his ministers to offer salvation universally, and Dr. White does so. As you know, he's engaged in evangelism even while this teapot tempest simmers.

Is that what you are talking about?

I'm guessing it isn't, because you know Dr. White does that.

Seth also asks: "Does God desire for all, whether or not they are elect or reprobate, to be saved?"

What do you mean by "desire ... to be saved"? If you mean that God commands mankind universally to repent and believe? Dr. White, of course, holds that view.

I'm guessing it isn't, because you know Dr. White does that.

So what do you mean? Are you just selecting buzz words?

-TurretinFan

Seth McBee said...

TF:
Not selecting buzz words...let's make it easy.

Did you look at today's post?

Would James White agree with Waldron, Piper and Murray?

I would hope that if he is willing to call me out on his radio show that he would actually interact with what he desired me to put forth, which is his adherance to the 1689 confession...I know he is busy, but would hope that it wasn't an empty request.

Turretinfan said...

Seth,

I'm not sure if that makes it easier. I was really hoping to get clarification of what you meant by the terms you used.

Nevertheless, I'll look instead at your newer post, and see what you wrote in it.

-TurretinFan

Seth La Tour said...

Turretinfan: How about answering a question once in a while instead of asking for clarification or asking more questions. Reading your posts on this blog is absolutely maddening.

Turretinfan said...

Seth La Tour,

If you think it is possible to answer questions when you don't know what the person is asking, you must be more clever than I am.

With respect, since Mr. McBee seems to be unable (or perhaps simply unwilling) to define what "desire/wish" means - I'm not sure how he (or you) can expect me, the reader, to understand what it means in the question.

-TurretinFan

Seth McBee said...

TF:

Did you read today's post? I am not sure I could get more clear.

Seth La Tour said...

Turretinfan:

What exactly do you mean by answer? Do you want me to simply ask more questions, so as to muddy the waters and perpetuate debate? Or, would you rather me make as lucid of statements as possible and carry on a reasonable conversation?

That's what I mean by your responses being maddening.

Since Mr. McBee has gone to great lengths to progress the conversation, seemingly to no avail, why don't you share your definition of desire and your definition of wish, in this context, and then you guys can stop shadowboxing and start talking.

That sound like a reasonable next step?

YnottonY said...

Turretinfan said...

"Seth asks: "Does James White believe that there is a well meant offer of salvation to all peoples by God?"

Perhaps you'd like to clarify what you mean by that. The term "well meant offer" has taken on lots of different connotations to different people. What are you trying to get at it with it?

Dr. White does believe that God calls his ministers to offer salvation universally, and Dr. White does so. As you know, he's engaged in evangelism even while this teapot tempest simmers.

Is that what you are talking about?"


Me now:

No. He's talking about a well-meant offer of salvation given BY GOD. Can you see it yet? He said, "by God." He's not asking if James White believes that HE should offer salvation of all universally, or if HE is engaging in evangelism, but whether or not James White believes THAT GOD HIMSELF IS WELL-MEANING TOWARD ALL IN THE GOSPEL CALL, IN THE SENSE THAT HE WILLS, WISHES, WANTS or DESIRES ALL TO BE SAVED.

Can you see it yet?

Turretinfan said...

"I'm guessing it isn't, because you know Dr. White does that."

Me now:

Then you've wasted words and space in saying the obvious above.

Turretinfan said...

"Seth also asks: "Does God desire for all, whether or not they are elect or reprobate, to be saved?"

What do you mean by "desire ... to be saved"? If you mean that God commands mankind universally to repent and believe? Dr. White, of course, holds that view.

I'm guessing it isn't, because you know Dr. White does that.

So what do you mean? Are you just selecting buzz words?"


Me now:

"Buzz words"? Is that how you characterize the words of Francis Turretin himself? Or of Sam Waldron? or of John Murray? They are not "buzz words," but words used to convey the true meaning of the free offer of the gospel, according to John Murray himself.

There's a difference between saying 1) God wants to command all men to repent and 2) God's wants all men to comply with those commands, and you know it. You're feigning confusion at this time. God is both willing to command all men to repent AND willing that they comply with that command unto eternal life. He is, by means of those commands, telling mankind something about himself [not merely about the signs]; namely, that he's truly seeking or willing our well-being and our cooperation to those moral obligations. He wants us to obey his revealed will, and not merely to express preceptive signs that do not depict any of propensity within himself toward the well-being of mankind.

Suppose James White were to tell his daughter not to steal. He issues the command, "Do not steal!" What is he expressing by that command? Is he merely willing to put her under that obligation? Or is James also seeking her obedience through that command? Isn't James, by means of that commandment, expressing an interest in her ultimate well-being with a sense of urgency and sincerity? Of course he would be! Who would think he is sincere in that command if it were merely the case that he willed the command, but not also her compliance to the command? What parent, in their right mind, would say "Do not steal!" but not actually want their child to obey what is commanded?

Let other readers think about this. Turretinfan will still feign confusion and evade the point with all obfuscation, but perhaps others can see the point and profit by it unto biblical discernment.

YnottonY said...

For more on the above distinctions, you may want to listen to Dr. Robert Gonzales (a Reformed Baptist pastor) talk about these issues.

Turretinfan said...

Tony, as I already pointed out in the other comment box,

I was pretty clear that I am not going to be getting into a sidebar debate with you.

I renew my exhortation to you to show some maturity. Learn how to bridle your tongue.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Seth La Tour:

"What exactly do you mean by answer? Do you want me to simply ask more questions, so as to muddy the waters and perpetuate debate? Or, would you rather me make as lucid of statements as possible and carry on a reasonable conversation?"

Unlike the word "answer" the meaning of the words "desire/wish" is actually central to the issue of the false charge of hyper-calvinism that was leveled against Dr. White.

That's why I want the question to be clear, so the answer (the response to the question <- see, I can actually provide an explanation of what I mean) is clear.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Seth McBee wrote: "Did you read today's post? I am not sure I could get more clear."

Yes, I read that post, but I missed your definition of desire/wish, if there was one there. Perhaps you could cut-and-paste that definition into this combox so I could more easily find it?

If there wasn't one there, why not? Is it just impossible to define?

I see an implicit definition in the proclamation of the gospel, which we both know Dr. White agrees with and does.

Also, I see an implicit definition in the distinction between the revealed will of God and the secret will of God. You can see that Dr. White agrees with Murray and Edwards on this point (Tony's furious denials notwithstanding) at the following link:

Link to Evidence

-TurretinFan

Seth McBee said...

TF:
I am in traffic on my phone so this will be brief.

From what I have read from Reformed brothers, both past and present (my perception could be wrong, I am willing to admit), is that God's desire for the reprobate extends further than the usage of the agents of men to call the sinner to repentance. There is an emotion, if you will, that is mysterious, yet loving, to the reprobate that they would turn and live.

From what I have gotten so far from you and James White is that God's desire stops at using the agents of men to call sinners to repentance.

Could you please, for everyone's sake give us a post, a comment, something, that would define what you understand God's desire to be. It would really help.

Thanks.

If you want my scriptural warrants for my understanding, please ask and I will publish.

Turretinfan said...

Dr. White affirms that the divine nature is without body, parts, or passions, as both his and my confession of faith state.

I suspect that Dr. White would agree with myself that Phil Johnson: "The word desires is problematic, however, because it implies an unfulfilled longing in the Almighty, and that is inconsistent with biblical affirmations of divine sovereignty such as Psalm 115:3 ("Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased"). God doesn't have unfulfilled longings, frustrated wishes, or unsatisfied appetites. He doesn't "desire" anything in the sense we normally employ the term. Yet it is extremely difficult if not impossible to deal faithfully with the biblical passages describing God's demeanor toward the wicked who perish without employing the language of desire. Scripture itself freely uses such expressions (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11; Lam. 3:33)."

-TurretinFan

Seth McBee said...

TF:

Well...we are "kind of" getting somewhere. I would like to hear your definition of this, but I will bite.

So, Phil uses the term desire when it is used in Ezekiel, et al.

He states:
Yet it is extremely difficult if not impossible to deal faithfully with the biblical passages describing God's demeanor toward the wicked who perish without employing the language of desire. Scripture itself freely uses such expressions (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11; Lam. 3:33).

What is this desire that is used in Ezekiel and Lamentations?

Steve said...

Well ... I actually found White's paper useful. He quotes Edwards (though White promptly seems to completely miss Edwards's point!):

"But, to say that all was determined before these prayers and strivings, is a very wrong way of speaking, and begets those ideas in the mind, which correspond with no realities with respect to God. The decrees of our everlasting state were not before our prayers and strivings; for these are as much present with God from all eternity, as they are the moment they are present with us."

I have long thought something like this is the answer to a lot of these conundrums. To speak of something being ordained "before" our prayers, etc., is an improper way of speaking. Beautiful.

White's difficulty is that he doesn't understand what Edwards has said. If it is improper to speak of "before" and "after" when speaking of the decree, then it is equally improper to speak of "hand-wringing" and an "eternally frustrated God" when arguing AGAINST (as White does) the Reformed idea of distinction in God's will. Put another way, White must presuppose Arminian concepts of the decree in order to argue as he does. Having done so, he has given up Edwards's theology, certainly, but also any ground to stand on when arguing against the Arminian.

White has eviscerated himself and doesn't realize it.

Turretinfan said...

Steve,

I've never heard Dr. White argue against the Reformed idea of a distinction in God's will.

Perhaps all that has been eviscerated is the caricature of Dr. White that has been set forth by some folks who don't care much for him.

-TurretinFan

Steve said...

TF said: "I've never heard Dr. White argue against the Reformed idea of a distinction in God's will."

Uhhh ... helllooooo. What, then, is the point in asking the questions about "hand-wringing" and "eternal frustration" of reformed folks who maintain the distinction in God's will??? Pray tell. Even calling them "Amyraldians" and what not. You need to check your ticket to see if you're in the right seat ... or ball park.

Turretinfan said...

Steve,

Clearly you need to listen more carefully to what Dr. White had to say. His comments are quite similar to those of Phil Johnson's provided above.

Dr. White has, on a previous occasion, written: "First, distinguishing between the will of God expressed in His law ("you shall not murder") and His actual decretive will expressed in creation itself is quite proper ... ." (source)

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Seth,

I cannot recall whether Dr. White has provided an exegesis of those specific texts. I myself provided some thoughts on Ezekiel 18 (here), but not specifically focused on the verse or issues you have in mind.

-TurretinFan

Steve said...

I should amend my comment about "Amyraldians." White hasn't done this ... though he has bandied other unbecoming pejoratives about.

But when White is asked *by Calvinists* about God's willingness to save all men (which is neatly answered by Edwards's schema) ... why does White adopt the arguments of the Arminians??? That is, White says something to the effect that the idea presupposes an impotent, hand-wringing, eternally frustrated God. But White has answered that question in his Edwards paper and promptly tossed it away!

You're going to have to do better than make quips, TF.

Turretinfan said...

Steve,

Your definition of Calvinist and mine are probably not coextensive, if you would consider people who deny limited atonement to be "Calvinists."

That aside, Dr. White doesn't "adopt the arguments of the Arminians" any more than Phil Johnson does, above.

-TurretinFan

Steve said...

TF ... you quote White as saying that "distinguishing between" wills is quite proper. Then why does White say that he "sees no reason" to adopt an idea of God's will that results in "hand-wringing" and "frustration" on God's part? And why the big fuss about the "Ponterites" (who, after all, are merely insisting on the reality of the distinction White seems to say is "quite proper.")

And why not explicate the distinction Edwards makes when "rebutting" (I use scare quotes, because it is more of a scoff than a rebuttal) David Allen? The point there is that he could have said, "I accept the well-meant offer, I accept God's love for all men and intention to save them," etc., and he could have said it with perfectly solid Reformed history and theology to back him up.

Why take impossible interpretations of various texts in order to defeat the idea of God's universal saving will and love, when such a thing is unnecessary having recognized the distinction in God's will?

You are just dithering, TF.

Steve said...

And what quote of Phil Johnson's are you referring to?

Steve said...

If you refer to Johnson's quote about "desire," then I would love to hear White say such a thing. It would be a step forward.

Steve said...

*IF* White said something like "I believe God loves all men and would have them to repent, believe the gospel, and be saved," it would IMMEDIATELY end all talk of hyper-Calvinism, and would actually be an effective rebuttal to David Allen. That one sentence would completely undo any charge of hyper-Calvinism.

The problem is that when White has the opportunity to say such a thing, he is inclined to argue against the idea. That's the problem.

Turretinfan said...

Steve,

Johnson's quotation is here, in this same comment box.

-TurretinFan

Steve said...

TF ... too bad it's not a quotation from *White*.

Turretinfan said...

Steve,

It is more or less what Dr. White has been saying.

-TurretinFan

Steve said...

"Such and such a view leads to a hand-wringing and frustrated God" is an argument that, when addressed to a Calvinist, is an Arminian argument. The Arminian understands that argument because he has a certain view of what God's decree looks like (if there were such a thing). They don't like the looks of it and so they are inclined to deny it.

What Edwards says is that that way of looking at the decree is an improper way to look at it.

So, when Reformed men (note ... CALVINISTS, not Arminians) speak of God's willingness of all men to be saved, one should never respond with the "hand-wringing" and "frustration" argument. Because that presupposes a non-reformed view of the decree. When White does that, he does, in fact, adopt the presuppositions and arguments of the Arminian.

White has certainly not imbibed Edwards's view, or else he has not accepted it.

And I'm done for now. I might revisit this thread over the weekend. Don't interpret my silence as anything but the need to pay attention to my duties elsewhere.

Steve said...

TF said: "It is more or less what Dr. White has been saying."

Where? What quote? Your assurance is not persuasive.

Turretinfan said...

On Monday's webcast is one example of where he made a similar comment about the potential issues that can accompany the word "desire" in the modern context.

I don't have a transcription of that show. I recall that one of your pals had produced a transcript for polemical purposes on a previous occasion - when Jason (I may be remembering that name wrong) called in. If I had the link to that transcript handy, I'd go check on what it reports Dr. White had said then.

-TurretinFan

YnottonY said...

We've linked to that transcript many times now. It is here:

James White's Denial of God's Universal Saving Will

It's as if you haven't even paid attention to the phone call with Jason, who is a Calvinist. He plainly asks James White if there is ANY SENSE in which God wills to save the non-elect. James White not only denies that God does will their salvation, he does so scornfully. There's even laughter by him and his associate at the end at the very idea. He clearly differentiates himself from John Murray as well. He not only complains against the "multiple desires conundrum," but also against the "two wills conundrum." Why? Because he's totally against God willing the salvation of those who are not saved.

Steve said...

Yeah, what Tony said. You just aren't dealing in reality on this TF, or else you've got a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue.

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