Monday, July 30, 2012

The Debater's Potter - Part 9 - The Rest of Chapter 4

Welcome back to The Debater's Potter, a series of articles of my reaction to and interaction with the text of Dr. James White's The Potter's Freedom(TPF). I'm looking at this book in great detail, but that is no reason not to purchase and read the book for yourself. It is widely regarded as the definitive work rebutting the charges against Calvinism by non-Calvinists.  Dr. White intends the book to be a direct rebuttal of Dr. Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free(CBF).

Last time I attempted to get through Chapter 4, but didn't even come close to hitting the mark. This time I'll get to the end though. As I was reading this chapter I found it to be the first in the book of any substance. We are finally getting close to the more challenging arguments made by Dr. White. Will they convince me?

Before I get started: I was asked about the process I'm following while writing these articles. I am reading several chapters ahead of where I am writing, which ensures I maintain context as best as possible. Why not wait until I finish the book? Well then this wouldn't be a "real-time" reaction, which I think is actually more revealing than something written at the end. This way readers can read my biases, and if I should happen to have something completely wrong it will be revealed. Also, if I were to wait until I finished reading the book I would probably not bother writing anything about it.  So I'm reading several chapters ahead, and as I read I'm underlining things I want to consider and or respond to. Just before I write a particular article I re-read the chapter very quickly, and then I go page by page writing as I read it a third time.

So let's jump into Chapter 4 where we left off in Part 8.

A Tremendous Inconsistency

"Responding to Arminians who say that if you choose to get "into" salvation you can surely choose to get "out" of it, CBF makes the following amazing statements:
Now here is what he quotes Geisler as writing:
"First of all, this rational is not biblically based; it is speculative and should be treated as such." 

This was my first reaction to what Arminians are claimed to say as well. While the Scriptures are clear that one must believe inorder to be saved they are exactly silent on how one might beable to become "unsaved" and in fact they teach Eternal Security and thus the claimed Arminian argument fails two basic biblical tests. The Bible doesn't say it, and the Bible contradicts it. Therefore as Geisler said, it is not biblical.

White claims that the same can be said about Geisler's assertions about the will of man. Surely the same can accurately be said about much of White's theology. The Decrees of God, Determinism in general, pre-faith regeneration, the inability of unregenerate man to believe the Gospel... and on and on.

He then quotes Geisler:
"Second, it is not logically necessary to accept this reasoning, even on a purely rational basis. Some decisions in life are one-way with no possibility of reversing them: suicide for example...."
White responds this way:
"Quite true, but such seems to prove far more than Dr. Geisler would like: committing a single act of sin makes one a sinner and places one under the power of death and condemnation."
I can't see Geisler having much of an argument against that... while White agrees that Geisler is correct "Quite true..." he can't help but continue to argue.
"While Geisler insists that one chooses to remain a slave of sin, and can, at any time, simply choose by the exercise of free choice to become a believer and cease being a slave, here he argues that once you accept Christ the decision is inalterable and there is no escaping the consequences. Logically his position is inconsistent at best."
I guess Dr. White missed the part where he himself described the logical reasoning he called "quite true." Further, Geisler does not "insist" what White claims he does. Geisler says that sinners respond to the convincing and convicting of the Holy Spirit John 16:5-11 and that God is complete control. In fact Geisler states in CBF (the book which White claims to be rebutting):
"Can anyone believe unaided by God's grace?
While all truly free acts are self-determined and could have been otherwise, nonetheless, it is also true that no free human act can move toward God or do any spiritual good without the aid of His grace. this is evident fromt he following Scriptures:
1Chro 29:14, John 6:44, John 15:5, John 17:11, John 17:12, 1Cor 15:10, 2Cor 3:5, 2Cor 12:9, Phil 2:12-13, Phil 4:13"

It is interesting to me that when Geisler makes a positive statement he backs it up with a multitude of passages of Scripture. I'm struggling with how to describe Dr. White's behavior without being needlessly offensive.

Next up White quotes Geisler saying that the third reason the Arminian position is incorrect is because then we would have to be able to fall or be lost, even when we are in Heaven. White claims that Geisler doesn't offer a reason for how we could be "free" in Heaven and yet not be able to fall. He believes this to be an inconsistency in Geisler's theology.  The answer is the same that Geisler has already given. Some decisions are permanent. If you jump off a cliff you can't change your mind half way down, nor after you've hit the ground. That's the logical reason which is consisten internally and externally. The Biblical reason is that once you have been baptized into Christ's death, burial and resurrection we will live because Christ lives. The only way for us to "die" (be separated) is for Christ Himself to stop living. Rom 6:1-11 further in Heaven will not just be free, we will be perfected. We will not have a sin nature any more 1Jn 3:2.  White agrees with Geisler's logic, and then dismisses it as though he didn't even read it.

So where's the "tremendous inconsistency"? The only inconsistencies I see here are how White handles CBF and how White calls Geisler an Arminian over and over when White actually vehemently disagrees with Arminianism.
"Numerous passages of Scripture are cited in the text of CBF. We now turn to an examination of the exegesis offered in support of the "moderate Calvinist" position (i.e. Arminianism)."
John 12:39-40

"In 12:39-40 John explains why the Jews, despite seeing the very Incarnate Son, did not believe...... Surely if one's entire position is based upon the assertion that all are able to believe, a clear Scriptural passage that speaks of anyone's inability to believe should receive a large amount of in-depth, contextual response." 
What I find interesting is this: Surely if one's entire position is based upon the assertion that all people are blind, spiritually dead and completely unable to see, that God would then blind an already blind and dead man. Is it possible to blind a blind man?

White notes that Geisler says that belief was obviously their responsibility, and that two verses earlier we read "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him" John 12:37. To which White responds:

"One could argue that perfect behavior is the responsibility of all men, but it does not follow that sinful man has the capacity to do so."
It is interesting to me how White so casually makes such bold statements, and uses them as his idea of a refutation of a position which is driven from the Scriptures. Why does it interest me? Find the verse in the Bible that says it is the responsibility of all men to behave perfectly. Go ahead look. It is our natural assumption that this is the responsibility of men. However, where does Scripture tell us this is so. We know that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, and that God cannot fellowship with those who fall short. However, where is the positive command to all of mankind (not some subgroup) to behave in any fashion, let alone perfectly?

I have to admit, this is the first argument in TPF which made me think at all. However, in mere moments I found the source of the confusion - a man's ideas centered theology instead of a Scripture centered theology.

White tries to shore up his theology with some Scripture. He notes that John quotes Isaiah saying "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" White says:
"John's own interpretation of their unbelief was that it was a fulfillment of prophecy. So the first response does not substantiate Dr. Geisler's free-will theory."
How does prophecy prove that Geisler is wrong? Does Geisler's theology say that God cannot know the future and give that knowledge to a Prophet? Does Geisler's theology even say that God cannot orchestrate events in History? Not at all on either count. White is playing to his audience, and again doesn't seem to think his argument will be tested. On testing it again fails.

White quotes Geisler's second point:
"(2)Jesus was speaking to hardhearted Jews who had seen many indisputable miracles (including the resurrection of Lazarus) and who had been called upon many times to believe before this point, which reveals that they were able to do so."
White responds:
"Actually, these are words of John's not Jesus', and these are comments about the unbelief of the Jews in general." 
I guess White thinks Jesus wasn't recorded as speaking in John 12. Let's look at John 12:35-36

"35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them."
Why White has to twist Geisler's words all the time escapes me. Does anyone reading Geisler's second point think he was saying that Jesus said the things in John 12:37?

How does White justify that John 12:37 is "about the unbelief of the Jews in general"? Oh he doesn't. I guess he thinks that if he makes Geisler look foolish enough that we won't notice yet another assertion which is completely unsupported by the passage he is commenting on.  Let's look at his argument however:
"It does not follow, however, that "they were able to do so" when Verse 39 says they were not able to do so. Here we have the plain assertion of Scripture being overturned because it can't mean what it says."
I like that he sticks his neck out there and says what he thinks. The problem is that he uses a passage about a few people who were blinded because of their rejection (at the rejection of Messiah the King, on the very day He was prophecized to come as announced by the Prophet Daniel in Daniel 9:24-27 which is the very key to God's historic plan for Israel, and the world) and applies it to all people. Yet his theology demands that all people are already blind.  John 12:36 ends with "These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them." They were blinded, turned over to their reprobate minds.

If you want to consider passages like this in the light of the whole of Scripture I invite you to read The Drawing of God.

White goes on to state:
"The assumption is that if God commands all men everywhere to repent, then that must mean that all men everywhere are morally neutral creatures with free wills who are not enslaved by sin." 
I would very much like Dr. White to find a quote in CBF to support this assertion. If you read Part 7 of this series, then you know that Dr. White is grossly distorting Dr. Geisler in the worst way.

White goes on to make another bold statement:
"God commands all men everywhere to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, but sin does not allow any of the fallen sons of Adam to do so."
First, where does God command all men everywhere to love them with all their heart soul mind and strength? Seriously, where in Scripture do we find this command?

Second, does God desire what He commands? Logically it would seem so. So does the Potter not have freedom over Sin? Is Sin more powerful than God? Is Sin more sovereign than God? If one uses White's arguments against White's assertions they fall apart just as soundly as any heresy White imagines Geisler to promote. 

"So we turn to the last attempt to answer the passage:"
"(3)It was their own stubborn unbelief that brought on their blindness. Jesus said to them "I told you that you would die in your sins, if you do not believe that I am, you will indeed die in your sins. (John 8:24). Thus it was chosen and avoidable blindness."
White responds:
"It is an assumption that the audience in John 12 is identical with that of John 8."
Perhaps White forgot that he claims that John is explaining the unbelief of the Jews in general... thereby it would be the same audience.... 
"...fails to deal with the simple statement of the passage concerning the inability of these men to believe. ....Are we to believe that this practice eventually robs a man of his free will? The passage explains their unbelief as a fulfillment of prophecy, not the result of anything these men did themselves."
Yes, can you imagine the idea of God being able to prophecize that someone won't believe??? The idea is unthinkable isn't it? Surely a possibility so remote it is not worth even considering.  Further the passage tells us that this is in accordance with prophecy previously revealed, and that it is the result of the active blinding of these men by God. It doesn't tell us WHY they were blinded. It doesn't say they already were blind. It doesn't say that they were naturally unable to believe. It says that God blinded them so that this prophecy would be fulfilled. Reading anything more into to the passage is not exegesis, it is eisegesis. 
"[nor] provides any kind of substantiation for the conclusion that it was "chosen and avoidable blindness." If it was avoidable, does that mean the prophecy itself was avoidable?"
Straw-man argument #5263.... perhaps White forgets the chapter he wrote making fun of Geisler's terminology "Determinatively Knowing" where God knows exactly what is going to happen in History. I don't think we need to go back over that whole thing.... 
"The conclusion provided by CBF is not derived from the text but is forced onto the text: a classic example of eisegesis."
Well Dr. White, if what you mean is that Geisler didn't isolate a passage from it's context, history, and subject and then use it to define the rest of Scripture... well I guess you got him! He doesn't use your version of exegesis which most other students of hermeneutics would probably actually call eisegesis. Again, Pot meet Kettle. Not that I think Geisler has used eisegesis even a little bit thus far. 

Now we get to a passage where I think you'll see that both Geisler and White fall on their face trying to force their theology on the Text.

1Corinthians 2:14

"Paul spoke of the spiritual inabilities of the natural (unregenerate) man when he wrote to the Corinthians:"
He quotes the passage and then adds:
"Let's briefly note some exegetical points about the passage: it is clearly two parallel statements, which could be put this way: 
"But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." 
The first identifies the subject. The next two clauses are parallel assertions containing first an inability of the natural man followed by an explanation of why this is so." Therefore the meaning of "does not accept" and "cannot understand" are parallel to one another and must be interpreted in light of the other. Likewise, the foolishness of the things of the Spirit of God is due to the fact that they are spiritually appraised, and the natural man is not a spiritual man."

White continues:
"The term "understand" should be taken as it is used in this passage: the natural man cannot accept and embrace spiritual things because he himself is not spiritually alive."
I am going to comment on White's chosen understanding of the passage, but first let's see what he quotes Geisler as saying:
"Interpretation, however, fails to take note that the word "receiveth" (Greek dekomai) means "to welcome." It simply affirms that while he does perceive the truth (Rom 1:20), he does not receive it. There is no welcome in his heart for what he knows in his head. He has the truth, but he is holding it down or suppressing it (Rom 1:18). It makes no sense to say that an unsaved person cannot understand the Gospel before he is saved. On the contrary, the entire New Testament implies that he cannot be saved unless he understands and believes the Gospel."
White responds with comment about the word "understand" or "receiveth" and then adds something that I actually completely agree with (though for vastly different reasons than White states it):
"There is no exegetical or contextual reason to bring in Romans 1:20, for the two contexts are addressing different things."
He then notes something else that I agree with (yikes two things in one chapter!?!)
"Next, we note that CBF's attempted exegesis focuses upon one phrase while ignoring how that line relates to the rest of the sentence."
He goes on to say:
"If the natural man has the ability to embrace these things and believe them, as Geisler asserts, would it not be incumbent upon him to explain how what was once foolishness becomes wisdom without regeneration taking place first?"
Geisler's failed argument allows White to distract his readers from Paul's letter, strike a blow against Geisler and even produce a plug for his pet theology. However, this reader is much more concerned with Paul's text, than either White's or Geisler's.

The problem we have here is both of these men are so stuck in arguing about inability or ability of man to believe something that neither of them bothered to read Paul to find out what Paul was writing about! This is unbelievably frustrating for me. I'm dreadfully disappointed in both of these men at this point. 

1Cor 2:1-5
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
We find Paul talking to BRETHREN, not Jews but Believers in Christ who were already saved when they believed the Gospel 1Cor 15:1, Acts 18:8. Yet these Believers are carnal, or soulish. They are fleshy believers - as the letters to the Believers at Corinth clearly reveal.

1Cor 2:6

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
Who does Paul speak "wisdom" among? Those who are mature. Not these carnal, babes in Christ. 

1Cor 2:7-8
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Isn't this an interesting passage about the Sovereignty of God? Paul doesn't say that they were unable to know, but that if they had known they would not have crucified Christ. If they had known they would have made a different choice.

1Cor 2:9-11

But as it is written: 
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,Nor have entered into the heart of manThe things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

Paul is talking about the "deep things of God" that must be spiritually discerned. Not the Gospel, for to these soulish, fleshy, carnal Christians Paul was determined to know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified. He would not talk to them about the deeper things of God, for those things are only spoken to those who are mature.
1Cor 2:13-16
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For“who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Is Paul speaking of unbelievers as both Geisler and White would seem to claim? Not at all. Paul is explaining why he must get back to basics with these believers. They are so carnal they cannot learn of the deeper things of God. 

Paul continues his rebuke and explanation to the Corinthians in his letter. Paul didn't write in chapters, and his thoughts continue without a change in topic:

1Cor 3:1-4
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

Clearly, the issue is the carnality of the Believers at Corinth not that "unregenerate man" cannot believe the Gospel. Paul isn't even talking about the abilities of unbelievers. He's talking about the stunted growth of the Believers at Corinth. Both men are wrong, but specifically Paul's letter destroys White's theology. For clearly the carnal mind CAN receive the Gospel - Christ and Him Crucified for that is what Paul determined to speak to those who are carnal minded, because they are carnal minded.

John 8:34-48

"These words of the Lord introduce a discussion that includes clear teaching on the sovereignty of God in salvation." 
"Again the Reformed and biblical view of man is presented with force: Jesus teaches that the Jews cannot (there's that word of inability again) hear His word and do not understand what He is saying. He is not saying they are confused: He is saying they lack the spiritual ability to appraise spiritual truths...... Jesus explains why these men do not "hear" His words..... BF completely ignores John 8:48, mentioning it, or its witness to the Reformed proclamation.
Perhaps Dr. White actually intended John 8:47. I can't actually speak for him but John 8:48 doesn't seem to be of particular importance to his "proclamation".  So is the Lord saying that they can't believe who He is because they are not already saved?
John 8:39 - if you were Abraham's children you would do the works of Abraham.
John 8:42 - if you were of God you would love Me
Neither of these passages speak of an ability to believe who Christ is. They were refusing to believe Him about who He is. That's the issue at hand for the Jews at that point. They were in the process of rejecting their long awaited Messiah.
John 8:43 is a verse which if taken all by itself seems to say what Dr. White says the Lord intends to say. That man is "unable" to believe. There is one problem however, John 8:43 is not all by itself in the Bible. Nor did it come with a Calvinist's Decoder Ring which tells you how to understand each word in a sentence to ensure you become & remain a Calvinist.

I've already talked about the overwhelming witness of Scripture about how God draws people. Let's see if we can figure out what John 8:43 specifically is saying. White claims that passage speaks of natural inability to receive what Christ says.

This is built from the greek phrase: ou dunamai or what White says means "not able." Ou is a negative participle. It means "not." Dunamai speaks of the power to do something. The freedom, or the ability may work depending on usage, morphology and context. I can mean you may, or you may not, as well as it can mean you are able or you are not able. It occurs 27 times in the New Testament. The word dunamai is a VERB (!) in the present tense, middle or passive deponent form, indicative mood. The middle or passive DEPONENT form has an ACTIVE FUNCTION but a passive form. This form occurs 618 times in the New Testament.

Because of the Greek form of the word we are left with this not being a simple INABILITY, but that it it is an ACTIVE verb. We must then find what the Lord is talking about from the remainder of His Words.

John 8:44-45 It is not a natural inability but it is, as the Lord Himself says a DESIRE. Why do they NOT (not cannot, but simply not believe ou pisteuo) believe Him? Because He tells them the truth and they desire lies. They "cannot" believe Him when He tells the truth because they desire lies. This is not "inability" it is preference.

John 8:46-47 Now we see what the Lord is saying. These Jews were claiming to be of God, of Abraham and the Lord shows them that they are not by showing them that they are not receiving His words. The Calvinist holds verse 47 and 43 up by themselves and uses them to interpret the rest of Scripture. The Lord is not explaining that men cannot believe in Him unless they are of God - which is the Calvinist claim. The Lord is explaining that these men are not of God like they claim to be because if they were of God they would believe the Truth that He has been saying.

He is not explaining in ability, the Lord is showing these men their depravity. One of the keys is verse 46. If they could convict Jesus of Sin, then they could show He does not preach the Truth and therefore justify their lack of believing Him. Yet they cannot, because He sinned not. Therefore, their choice - their following of their desires which are like that of their father satan - is exposes to be what it is.

This is exactly how I witness to people on the street. That's what the Lord was doing. He was explaining their unbelief by showing them it was a choice they made based on their desires, and that if they were from God they would desire the truth.
"But surely the text teaches exactly what Dr. Geisler is denying." 
Not if you let the whole of the Text speak and interpret itself.

Romans 3:10-11

"These words have to be explained by the Arminian who seeks to promote the theory of free-will..... the assertion that men seek after God and choose to believe and repent outside of the work of God's sovereign grace is refuted."
It would be just wonderful if White's book which has a title claiming to rebut Norman Geisler's book would argue against arguments made by Geisler's book.  Way way up, and far far away near the half way point of this article I quoted Geisler's actual position which is explained in detail in CBF. I'm not sure why White continuously ignores the actual arguments made by Geisler.

Are men saved by seeking after God? Are men saved by understanding? Are men saved by doing any of the things Romans 3:10-11 speaks of? No. Scripture gives us the testimony that men are saved by believing the Gospel. These verses don't say anything about how one gets saved, they speak of the sinfulness of man.

Romans 8:7-8

We looked at what White has to say about this passage back in Part 6 of this series.
"The finale passage we will examine is the strident claim by Paul that the person who is still in the flesh is unable to submit himself to the law of God and cannot please God. It is my position that this text is completely opposed to the central assertion that is made in CBF regarding the "freedom" of the fallen man."

White quotes Geisler and claims that Geisler is not being exegetical with his argument... I'll quote some of what he quotes Geisler as saying:
"Furthermore, Paul makes it clear in this section of Romans that our enslavement to sin is our free choice. He wrote, "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaveds, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?(Rom 6:16)"
White responds:
"This is the kind of response provided to the vast majority of biblical argumentation in CBF: there is no exegesis of the text here. There are philosophical assertions, linguistic distinctions, and citations of foreign contexts, but the text is not touched. The point of the passage is that men cannot do what is pleasing to God."
Is that the point of the passage? Read the whole chapter. Read Romans 8:1-16 to start. This will show you that Paul is writing to Believers and telling them not to submit themselves to Law, but instead to have life in the Spirit for it is impossible for the flesh - through obedience to law - to please God.

Rom 8:1-4
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Rom 8:5-8
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Rom 8:12-15
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Rom 8:16-17
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
And so it goes throughout the rest of the chapter, showing how Christians are conformed to the image of Christ through suffering....

Don't just read a single verse as though it lives in a vacuum! Read the entire passage. White's theology is based on single verses and half-verses taken completely out of context! This passage isn't speaking of the inability of unsaved people to believe. It is speaking of how saved Christians cannot please God by obeying rules like their carnal minds would desire them to do. Letting them have a righteousness of behavior when what is required is the actual pure righteousness of Christ Himself, which comes by faith - not obedience to law. Phil 3:1-11

In this article we've seen how Geisler has handled some passages poorly, but two more things are much more clearly presented. White grossly abuses CBF, and pulls single items out of the context of the Text they are found in, interprets them through the lens of his Calvinism and then uses that interpretation to determine what the rest of the Bible says. None of this is particularly pleasing to this reader.

Next time we'll look at the case White builds for the "necessity" of Unconditional Election. Until then I trust you go with God's grace.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just found another blog linking here

I thought I should return the favor of The Pedestrian Christian blog linking. It looks like good reading to me, but I'm too tired to look it over in any depth right now. It may well become part of my reading list!

The Debater's Potter - Part 8 - Chapter 4

Welcome back to this on going series on Dr. James R. White's book The Potter's Freedom(TPF) as I read, react to and interact with his book as a Non-Calvinist-Non-Arminian. Last time we looked at the book Dr. White is attempting to rebut, Dr. Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free(CBF) and found it to be very unlike how White has characterized it in TPF.

We are all the way up to Chapter 4 and that means we have a long way to go, but I am confident if I breeze through that I'll be accused of misrepresenting White, and intentionally ducking arguments. So on we go!

Chapter 4 - The Will of Man

"The single most important quotation in all of Chosen But Free is found on pages 233-234:" 
Because it seems so important to White I'm going to quote CBF here:
"God's grace works synergistically on free will. That is, it must be received to be effective. There are no conditions for giving grace, but there is one condition for receiving it--faith. Put in other terms, God's justifying grace works cooperatively, not operatively. 
Faith is a precondition for receiving God's gift of salvation... Faith is logically prior to regeneration, since we are saved "through faith" (Eph 2:8-9) and "justified by faith" (Rom 5:1 NASB)." 
As soon as one reads Geisler use the word "synergistically" one knows how White will respond, and he does as expected:
"Synergism versus monergism. Grace dependent upon man's volition versus the powerful, all-sufficient grace preached by the Reformation... here Dr. Geisler summarizes his soteriology by promoting the very position the Reformers rejected long ago. Saying God's grace "works synergistically on free will" is not a Reformed view." 
Notice please; once again White is offended that Geisler disagrees with his Reformed theology, not with the Bible. After his offense is made clear White goes on to imply that Geisler is actually a Roman Catholic (again).
"Rome likewise teaches this kind of synergism..."
He goes on for a bit on this but it is little more than a rehash of Chapter 1. After, he brings forth the Reformed Calvinists claim:
"Synergism is the hallmark of man's religions: monergism is the mark of the biblical gospel." 
This bold statement is left completely unsupported. Instead, he goes on to mock Geisler for a bit. His mocking picks up a theme of cleverly re-interpreting what Geisler argues to be something that would be  received at least as being distasteful, to (as I would receive it) being blasphemous.
"While God tries to save as many people as possible (limited, however, by human free will), one thing He manages to do without hindrance is to sovereignly will the freedom of man to resist His salvific will." 
It is exceedingly hard to take the man seriously in any scholarly fashion because he continually engages in this type of fallacious argumentation. Then White accuses Geisler of not using "meaningful exegesis" (whatever that is supposed to mean), which also undermines White's own argument since as of yet there has been exactly ZERO exegesis (meaningful or otherwise) in TPF.  After his rant, White moves on to (what I think is) a very interesting part of Geisler's argument in CBF.
"Geisler begins by arguing that men must be free or else 1) God is to be blamed for the origin of evil and 2) men cannot be held responsible otherwise. The fact that the Bible addresses both of these issues clearly (as we have seen above) is not addressed before Geisler comes to his conclusion that the reformed viewpoint cannot be the right one." 
I'm not sure where White thinks he has shown what the Bible "clearly" says about these things "above" I have read this book in exceeding detail, and have re-read each chapter at least twice before commenting. I ASSUME White must mean that how God works the evil that men intend for His own purpose, and that while God has determined everything and man can will nothing that God doesn't actually go against someone's will because God gives them that will... I could however be wrong. It is possible that White produced Scripture "above" which "clearly" shows the Reformed position is correct and I just missed it; not. ;)

White then goes on to complain that Geisler "completely ignored" arguments about these very issues made by Calvin, Turrentin, Hodge, Wright and Reymond. He then states:
"This is one of the major reasons why knowledgeable Reformed readers are so troubled by CBF's cavalier attitude toward such vital issues. To conclude that the entire system is bankrupt by the third page of the "discussion" shows a lack of concern for meaningful interaction or representation."
Now I find this very entertaining... but we've covered how White's accusations against Geisler are better pointed at himself several times already. Perhaps White is confused that Geisler is actually NOT in agreement with White's version of the Reformation, and Reformed theology. White seems to consistently be caught by surprise by this fact.

Apparently White has returned to the beginning of CBF, and this is his response to the first chapter. Notice that in all of our studies so far, White has not actually responded to ANYTHING from CBF's first chapter. You can see what I'm talking about by reading the Part 7 of this series where I give a review of CBF's first two chapters. Or better yet you can read Chosen But Free yourself.

To copy White: This is why I as a knowledgeable reader am so troubled with TPF's cavalier attitude toward such vital issues! White doesn't even ATTEMPT to answer the questions posed to Extreme Calvinists in the first chapter of CBF. Such as: Why blame me? Who made the Devil do it? Who made the Devil? Unlike TPF which seems to be little more than a smeer campaign against Geisler CBF digs into these questions, and many more.
"The second chapter of CBF presents the following reasons why "free will" must be true 1) Without it, men are not responsible for their actions (p. 25); 2) It is part of the way God created man (p. 22); 3) The Bible teaches free will (p. 32); 4) Denial of free will makes God the author of sin (pp. 20-21). Later in the book he argues that to embrace the Reformed position with its denial of human "free will" leads to "failing to take personal responsibility for our actions." 
Instead of answering any of these White quotes N.T. Wright's similar view of Arminian doctrine and says that:
"Wright managed to outline the second chapter of CBF to years before it was written!" 
I'm sure this was added to amuse his readers. But does anyone consider it is any kind of answer... moving from one type of mocking to another White offers what he calls an:
"example of a conversation between a Calvinist and an Arminian fits the presentation in CBF so closely that one again cannot miss the identification of Dr. Geisler's position as thoroughly Arminian:"

As amusing as these "example" conversations are they are often amusing to those who agree with you and deeply offensive to those who disagree. I think that the following, light hearted, "example" of consistent Calvinistic witnessing is funny. As offensive as I am sure it is to Calvinists, I think it is consistent with White's theology - if perhaps not his practice.

I always get a laugh out of that video, and then I feel guilty for laughing because in actuality it is tragic.

White continues:
"We are told that reason "demands that all moral creatures be morally free, that is, they have the ability to respond one way or another." Why or how reason can "demand" this is not clear."
Sigh, this is just another example of White refusing to admit he understands Geisler's argument. It is telling that White leaves out the first word of the sentence he quotes; the word "Therefore". Here is Geisler's point, you can determine if it is clear enough for White to understand or not.
"However, sound reason demands that there is no responsibility where there is no ability to respond. It is not rational to hold someone responsible when they could not have responded. And God is not irrational. His omniscience means God is the most rational Being in the universe. Therefore, reason also demands that all moral creatures are morally free; that is they have the ability to respond one way or another. 
Geisler adds footnote 21 at this point "Minimally, free will is the ability to do otherwise. The degree to which a person is free is debated among Christians who reject the extreme Calvinist's view (see appendices 1 and 4). What they agree on is that one cannot be both forced and free (see Chapter 4)."  
Whatever evil we do and are responsible for, we could have responded otherwise."
I just don't see the validity of White's claim that Geisler did not clearly explain why and how "reason demands" this to be so. There is more of the same that I just don't need to comment on, and then we find:
"Dr. Geisler knows that true Calvinists do not make the claim that the image of God is erased, for he includes a footnote that says:"
I have to giggle at the term "true Calvinists." Why is there such an obsession with adding the word "true" to the front of titles and terms in Calvinism? Are you a "true Christ Follower?" Do you have "true saving faith"? Are you "truly saved?" Apparently the "true Calvinists" agree with White's theology. Here's Geisler's footnote:
"Footnote 154 Some extreme Calvinists deny that they believe the image of God is "destroyed" in fallen humans--at least formally. But logically this is what their view demands and practically this is what they hold."
White responds:
"We are given no logical reason to accept this claim, and given the many errors found in CBF's understanding of the Reformed position there is really no reason to extend credulity to such an assertion."
Once again White claims there is no reason given but Geisler writes:
"A defense of moderate Calvinism is found in Chapters 4 & 5 ("Avoiding Extreme Calvinism") in two ways: explicitly by a critique of extreme Calvinism and implicitly in the implied alternative. Further criticisms of the extreme Calvinist view are recorded in Appendices 1-9. Footnotes 154 155"
I very much tire of reading people who don't expect their work to be examined at all.  White goes to his next paragraph and starts it with:
"Do Calvinists believe man has a will or not?" 
He doesn't answer the question at all in the paragraph, but he claims that Geisler holds that unless a will is "free" it is not "real." That enslavement equals destruction - "the clear distinctions of the Reformed confessions of faith notwithstanding." Sigh... 

Now in order to attempt an answer at his own question, White will grossly mischaracterize Geisler's point. It seems the purpose is to avoid having to answer his own question.
"Dr. Geisler says that "extreme Calvinists" believe unregenerate men cannot "respond to God." This is simply untrue."
Really? That is simply untrue? Reformed Online puts it this way: "A heart of stone is totally unresponsive to spiritual truth. An unregenerate man will no more respond to the gospel than will a rock. Regeneration is absolutely essential if fallen man is to believe." The near infallible (j/k) puts it this way: "The natural man does not have the mind of Christ so even if someone preaches to him until he is blue in the face, he will not respond to the gospel unless God grants belief and repentance (see John 6:65 & 2 Tim 2:25, Eph 2:8)." and also this way "A blind man cannot see unless given new eyes. Shining a light into a blind man's eyes will not help him see. Nor will people respond to the word of God apart form the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. "

Apparently White is wrong... but wait!! Not if you see it the way White wants you to.
"Unregenerate men who are enemies of God most assuredly respond to God: in a universally negative fashion..... so it is simply untrue to assert they do not respond to God."
Even if you haven't read CBF I'm COMPLETELY SURE that you who are reading this article are able to tell the context in which Geisler made that statement is exactly the same as the context in which the articles at Monergism and Reformed Online both said the exact same statement. White is simply twisting CBF and making clever arguments as much as is humanly possible.

But why does White behave this way? Well I can't read the man's intentions any better than I can read his mind, but I did notice one thing. He never answered his own question, in the context he asked it. "Do Calvinists believe man has a will or not?" Not to mention, the many other much more important questions about and challenges to his theology that Geisler asks and points out in CBF's first two chapters.

Abandoning the question, White moves on to what he calls a "common error" "of Arminians" which he says is found in CBF:
"Dr. Geisler says that we cannot believe God "violates" the free choice of any human being in order to save that person."
White goes on to interpret this and argue against his interpretation but I find the argument most funny because White wrote in his first chapter:
"We dare not think that Joseph's brothers were forced against the desires of their hearts to commit the evil... They desired to do this: indeed if God had not intervened it is sure they would have killed him outright.... but God preserved Joseph's life..." 
I think I discussed before that in a universe where every detail has been decreed to happen exactly as it will it is impossible to intervene. Yet it is funny to read White say "We dare not think that Joseph's brothers were forced against the desires of their hearts..." Why do we dare not? Doesn't the Potter have absolute freedom? Are you offended by His freedom? I jest... I jest...

OK here's White's actual argument:
"The Bible is very clear that God in His sovereign mercy frees men from bondage and sin and raises them to spiritual life. He does this not because the sinner does something to allow Him to so act, but solely on the basis of His sovereign power. This is not dehumanizing man but freeing man. Because of this fundamental misunderstanding, CBF represents the Reformed view as teaching a "violation" of man's will."
We of course are not given any Scripture to back any of this up. This is merely speculation of how a God of the Calvinist understanding would accomplish pre-faith regeneration. Of course Pre-Faith Regeneration is a completely extra-biblical thesis, that is it is something not found in or required by the Scriptures. He also adds the idea that Geisler teaches that God needs man to "allow" Him to do something. God doesn't violate the will of man, not because God needs man to allow Him, not because God is not free to, not because God is not able to, but because the God of the Scripture would not. What's more the God of the Scripture is so powerful that He doesn't NEED TO.

So if man universally responds to the grace of God in rebellion, as was White's argument against CBF above, then how is changing a person's will not "violating" it? Calling such "freeing" man from the bondage of his sinful will doesn't change the fact that it violates his sinful will. If China invaded the USA and claimed to be "freeing" the US citizens from their bondage to the US government would calling it "freeing them" change the fact that the US citizens don't want to be Chinese?  The argument is laughable in my opinion.
"There is no other way of interpreting Geisler's intention. He was not merely saying that God would not "violate" man's freedom: he was explicitly asserting that God "will do everything within His loving power to save all He can." That phrase "all that He can" is anathema to any kind of Reformed belief.... the God of Scripture is able to save perfectly and completely all He desires to save: the fact that not all are saved leads inexorably to the truth of divine election."
I wonder if finding creative ways to interpret Geisler got old for White as he wrote TPF. Here we find White implying that Geisler teaches that God is not able to save more people, it is outside of His power and abilities. Where as Geisler really teaches that God will not save more because to do so would to be go outside of His character and attributes. Geisler does not teach a weak God, God teaches a consistent, truthful, loving, and all powerful God. The very same God the Scriptures teach about. 

Dead In Sin
"Reformed authors frequently point to the biblical teaching that man is "dead in sin" as substantiation of their belief that God must be absolutely sovereign and salvation must be completely of free grace and not a synergistic cooperation between God and man since man is not capable of "cooperating" anymore than a corpse is able to help in its own resurrection." 
Yep that's what they say.
"CBF invests a great deal of effort in the attempt to redefine "spiritual death" so that it is no longer incompatible with "free choice" and human autonomy."
I didn't notice that when I read CBF.... but once again this is just another example of White being surprised that Geisler disagrees with him. Apparently if you disagree with White you are "redefining" something.  How does White "define" what he calls "spiritual death"?
"Unregenerate man is fully capable of understanding the facts of the gospel: he is simply incapable, due to his corruption and enmity, to submit himself to that gospel."
"Submit himself to that gospel"? What does that mean? The Gospel is a Report to be Believed is a good article for White to read. 

How does White explain his definition of being "dead in sin" which he calls "spiritual death" (a name chosen for no reason from Scripture that I can discern)? Writing of Eph 2 White asserts:
"But obviously Paul intends something more than "separation" when he contrasts the horrific state of the "spiritually dead" with the glorious position of the person who is alive in Christ. The very use of the imagery of resurrection shows us this." 
Oh... that's how you get that Paul was saying people cannot savingly believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ? "Obviously" he meant something more... too bad Paul didn't have access to back then. He would have been more clear I'm sure.... again I jest! I jest! Believe me these articles are not fun to write... not even in the slightest.

White makes an informative statement right here which I think we would be remiss not to look at:
"What is "obliterated" is the ability of man to subject himself to the law of God, not the man himself."
He's talking about what is destroyed in a man. It is interesting that to White, believing the Gospel is the same as subjecting oneself to the "law of God." It is this foundation that he builds the rest of his theology on. It is this all together wrong interpretation of believing that forces White to see TULIP in the rest of Scripture. This is manifested again when talking about sinful man coming to faith:
"Are we to believe that such a person who is totally separated from God can come up with righteous desires, love for truth, repentance toward God, etc., simply from themselves?"
Is this what must happen for a person to be saved? This truly is the thrust of White's actual argument. Since he holds to Lordship Salvation and the Scriptures are clear that unregenerate man cannot do what is pleasing to God then White must hold to a view like TULIP.

White then talks about Romans 1:18-32 and says:
"So while the unsaved man knows the truth of God's existence, this is clearly not the same thing as asserting that he is able to embrace and obey the gospel. The two concepts are completely distinct, and no effort is made by CBF to connect the two." 
While I would agree, somewhat, with White here. The two concepts are different in that one is general and the other is specific. White's Lordship Salvation aside, one what grounds does White base that men are NOT able to believe the Gospel while they can believe that God exists? He doesn't say.

What is more important however is that Paul says some very important things in the passage. Rom 1:24, Rom 1:26, Rom 1:28. God gave them over to a debased mind. Is not White's position that men are "slaves to sin" their will is already in "bondage to sin" and that this means they can do nothing but sin? Not only WHY would Paul write then that God would "give them over" to their debased mind - but HOW could that even be accomplished logically. White offers NO explanation for this.

Further, White asserts in TPF over and over that God does not interact with Humanity based on anything but Himself. Why then does Paul say that because of the people's behaviour - their refusal to worship God - that "therefore" God gives them over? Geisler isn't arguing that Rom 1 proves people can believe the Gospel, he argues that it shows God's interaction with people. Those who refuse are turned over to their debased mind, those who don't refuse? They are apparently NOT turned over to their debased mind.
White then spends a few pages complaining that Geisler isn't being exegetical (pot, kettle) and that his views are Arminian.... doesn't this get old? I am even getting exhausted with noticing it. Such behavior must be tiresome to keep up. 

White asks:
"But what does it mean to say that a spiritually dead person, while dead, can still "reach out and accept the lifeline"? How can that be? Dead men do not reach out for anything."
Great question... but perhaps you could ask it in the context of what Geisler is arguing. Geisler indicates that being dead in sin is being separated from God. Not that one is inanimate. Of course White doesn't consistently argue that the one who is dead in sin is inanimate either. For White's idea of this dead man is that he is limp with regard to believing but active with regard to rebellion. Look on a battlefield sometime Dr. White. Dead men don't fight. Your analogy fails you. 

He brings up Col 2:12-13. He says of it:
"Colossians 2:12-13 likewise teaches the truth that man is dead in sin outside of Christ."
Then he quotes CBF:
"Finally, in the parallel passage (Col 2:12-13) Paul speaks of those "dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature" being able to believe. For he said, "you have been raised with Him through your faith in the power of God."
To which White responds:
"This is all that is said. The analogy of baptism that is used in 2:11-12 precedes Paul's use of the word "dead," which is again connected with "being made alive" by Christ."
Oooh verses 11-12 precede verses 12-13?
"Seemingly the assertion being made is the person who has faith in the power of God is an unregenerate spiritually dead person."
Seems like White can understand Geisler when he wants to. He continues:
"How this is proven from the text, or why we should be lieve this in light of Paul's statement in Romans 8:8, is not explained." 
LOL.. OK I'm sorry but I just have to laugh. First, read the passage. Paul says it, not Geisler. How were we entered into all of this? Through faith.

COL 2:11-15
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Second, we've already seen how White completely disregards what Paul is teaching in Romans 8 back in Part 6 of this series.

At this point, the article is getting too long to continue. Next time I'll look at the rest of Chapter 4 of TPF where White accuses Geisler of "A Tremendous Inconsistency" and looks at several passages of Scripture. Interestingly in one case, White is completely correct about his exegesis of the passage - yet it  undermines his argument, even though Geisler is absolutely wrong about the very same passage.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sharing the Love of Christ

Imagine this:

You're watching TV. Your favorite show is a repeat but it's a really good episode you always enjoy re-watching. You're on the couch chatting with your loved ones about what is happening in the show and what's coming up next. Everything you enjoy about the show from drama to character development to how you secretly identify with the lead character is happening right now. You're having a very good time.

The first commercial break comes and an attractive actress who you haven't seen in a few years is sitting with a group of children who are obviously suffering from extreme malnutrition.  She's looking you in the eye and speaking just a little too quietly. Her smooth steady voice seems almost tired. You notice her hair is tied up and she looks just dirty enough to fit into the scene but not so dirty and messy that you don't recognize how naturally attractive she is. And it's an ugly scene. As you get past her different appearance and tone you start to take in the state of the children. As the seconds pass the commercial gets harder and harder to watch.

Just as you're about to try to escape by checking the weather channel or getting up for a snack, the music changes and she starts to sound inspired and you are presented with the solution to your growing discomfort. You can send in only $15 a month and not just turn the life of a child around, but impact and maybe save a whole village! For only $15 a month everything you saw in the commercial that filled you with fear and guilt can be fixed. For only $15 a month you don't have to feel guilty.

There's more however. For only $15 a month the problems you now know exist will all be fixed, so you don't have to worry about having to go and help.

OK, now Christians, remember these things:

It's a mid November Sunday and the Operation Christmas Child volunteer spokes person is giving a presentation about what a shoe box can do for a child over seas.

It's the first week of April, and your church is meeting to discuss potential Vacation Bible Study programs.

It's June 10th, and Sarah is going on a short term mission's trip to New York.

It's that one Sunday a few years ago when some guy whose name you can't remember visited your church to tell you about his prison ministries program.

It's a Friday at 8pm and you're on your way home from the store with munchies for a relaxing movie night after a long hard work week. You drive by your church and have a giggle at the clever play on words inviting people to come on by this Sunday.  Instead of taking the direct route home you avoid the  street with the late soup kitchen and hostile. It takes you only a few extra minutes to get home so you think it's worth it.

It's the Sunday after that Friday movie night and Joe is asking for money to help support that same soup kitchen. He says it is our duty as Christians to share the love of Christ with destitute people by feeding them. For only $15 a month you can actually feed a man and help him get back on his feet and back with his family. Your $15 a month won't just feed that man, it will turn his whole family around. You can reach this city for Christ, one family at a time, for only $15 a month.

There's more however! For only $15 a month you don't even need to drive down the street where these people are.

So what's the problem?

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:14-15

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

1Cor 9:16 
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
Mark 16:14-16
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
1Cor 3:5-15
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1Cor 5:9-11
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Each and every single one of us needs to be functionally, significantly, and personally invested and involved in the personal sharing of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ. For the Gospel is how God demonstrates His love. For we will each stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and be judged. Therefore since we know the terror of the Lord we must plead with men to be reconciled to God. We ought to support the preaching of the Gospel with our money, prayer and time. Yet, we are called to be personal instruments in the sharing of the Gospel.

Is there someone sharing the Gospel, personally and faithfully in your town or city? Go support them. Be with them. Learn from them. Pray with and for them. Pray for the people they witness to. Use your unique gifts to meaningfully assist the preaching of the Gospel.

It is absolutely clear that we can ease our conscience, and sense of duty, for only $15 a month. The problem is however that this is not how God told us to "share the love of Christ."

If you turn the other way and just send money to good or dubious ministries you'll never get your hands dirty. You'll never have to experience the sin of men that condemns them to Hell forever. You'll never have to be confronted to defend your faith.

However, you'll also never be used by God to convince a person to cry out to God for reconciliation. You'll never really see how the Scriptures are fully defensible. You'll never see how the Holy Spirit truly does fulfill His mission in this Dispensation. John 16:5-11

Do you want to take a different street or do you want to truly share the love of Christ? If you want to take a different street then perhaps you're just in this for the show, for the drama, for how you connect with the personality that is offering you a way out. Perhaps you don't really think sinners are going to hell. Perhaps the fact that Christ died for sinners isn't really all that important to you. Perhaps you don't know the terror of the Lord. Perhaps you don't love much because you don't think you've been forgiven of much.

Luke 7:47
47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”