Friday, August 31, 2012

The Debater's Potter - Part 11 - Chapter 6

Welcome back to the series I'm calling The Debater's Potter where we're moving at a breakneck pace through Dr. James R. White's book "The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and the Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free"(TPF).  With a title like that you ought to be able to understand why this series is so long, at least I hope you can. White intends the book to be "the Rebuttal" of Dr. Norman Geisler's book "Chosen But Free"(CBF) and I'm reading to see if it can accomplish that task, and to see how it compares to Scripture. I had not intended this series to be a rebuttal of Dr. White's book, but in many ways I cannot help myself. Perhaps I will back off of that in future posts, but not today.

Last time we looked at Dr. White's insistence that the Reformed doctrine of Unconditional Election is "necessary" and what we found was that many, many, Reformed theologians taught the doctrine. What we didn't find was a clear, unfettered defense of the doctrine from the Scriptures, nor a presentation of the necessity of the doctrine from the Scriptures.

This time I will give my exegesis of John 6 and see if it teaches Calvinism or something different,  and we'll take a look at how Dr. White interacts with CBF on what he calls:

Chapter 6 - CBF's "Big Three" Verses

Since I own CBF on Kindle I was able to search for the phrases "big three" and "big three verses." I was unable to find these phrases in the book. The only reason I can think of for why Dr. White would put "big three" in quotations is he is attempting to be sarcastic. I'm no stranger to sarcasm, but I don't make it the foundation of my arguments; that's just me though.

Waaait!! Did I just make a sneaky sarcastic argument there to undermine his upcoming argument in your mind? Did I "poison the well"? Yes I sure did. The reason I did it was to give you example of what Dr. White did with the title of this chapter. Dr. White is consistently a debater. He is lauded as a theologian, but he is a debater.
"Throughout his work, Dr. Geisler quotes a set of three verses as evidence that God wants to save all men, but is unable to do so outside of their freely willing to be so."
Actually that's kind of what Geisler says, but not really. Geisler doesn't say God is unable to save those who don't believe in Him freely. Geisler says God will not do so. God doesn't lack the ability to save unwilling people, God lacks the ability to go against His revealed nature, His goodness.
"When one excludes the sections of the book that do not deal with biblical argumentation, one of these verses appears on average every three to four pages."
Seldom do you see someone manipulate statistics so openly. Normally such silly behaviour is hidden... what exactly is he trying to say here? I know what he is implying, but the manipulation of the stats is so over the top that the implication becomes laughable.

Writing of Matt 23:371Tim 2:4; and 2Pet 3:9 Dr. White says:
"CBF assumes a particular meaning for each passage and then utilizes that interpretation as the primary refutation of any and all passages that would disagree with the Arminian view. Over and over again biblical passages will receive no exegesis outside of "Well, it can't mean this, because we know 2 Peter 3:9 says...""
So I searched CBF and could not find one instance of such a quotation, or any variation. We'll see if Dr. White behaves the way he claims Dr. Geisler does shortly. Yet, Dr. White offers an "example."
"For example, in responding to the clear teaching of John 6:65, CBF uses two of these three verses as proof-texts:"
"Moderate Calvinists and Arminians agree with this. As Sproul himself admits, the real question is, "Does God give the ability to come to Jesus to all men?" The answer is that there is nothing here or anywhere else to say God limits His willingness to provide this ability to only some. Indeed, the Bible is clear that He is patient, "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2Peter 3:9), and that He "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4; also Ezek 18:32)."
So, did Geisler say "Well, it can't mean this, because we know..." Did he even state anything with that intent? Or did Geisler use the whole of teaching on the subject to properly determine what is being said?

It is interesting to me that Geisler doesn't offer the whole quote. He doesn't include what Geisler says he is in agreement with Sproul about. Here it is,  Geisler in CBF quoting Sproul on John 6:65
"Jesus said, " 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.' " Sproul comments, "The passage teaches at least this much: It is not within the fallen man's ability to come to Christ on his own, without some kind of divine assistance."
Geisler didn't say, or imply, that the verse doesn't mean what it says. Geisler simply didn't add Calvinism to the verse and call it exegesis. Indeed, the verse doesn't indicate that God only does this for some, and not others. It merely asserts that no one can come to Him unless God does grant it.

White adds only this comment further:
"But are the interpretations CBF assumes valid? If we find that the Reformed view can provide a more consistent interpretation of these passages, the entirety of the presentation in CBF is undermined, for if these passages do not teach what the book assumes, its primary foundation is washed away." 
We're two long introductions and 6 chapters into the book, wouldn't it be wonderful if the long awaited attempted "refutation" of CBF would start? Well instead of discussing John 6:65 White decides it's time to talk about these "big three" verses, and what he says Geisler "assumes" is true about them.

Before we look at that though; I want to discuss John 6:65. I don't agree with the position White has about the passage in the slightest. I don't have to say that the passage doesn't say what it says, nor do I even have to appeal to other passages out of context to support my view.

The first thing to realize is that John 6 is one teaching. The Lord isn't jumping from subject to subject and using cryptic language that can only understood in the light of Calvin's Institutes.

What is He talking about?

Jn 6:25-29 tells us He's talking about what people are, and what they should be occupied with. They are following Him around looking for bread to feed their bellies but they should believe in Him so they would have bread that gives Eternal Life. This is the will of the Father that they should do, to believe on the Son whom He sent.

These men understood that Jesus said their believing in Him was to do the work of the Father, not that the work of the Father was to make them believe. Hear their answer!

Jn 6:30-34 They want a sign so they will believe. The Lord tells them that He is the true bread that comes down from Heaven, not just the bread that was for a sign.

Jn 6:35-40 is a passage that normally gets pulled apart and only a couple of verses are discussed. Read it in its entirety please:
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
It is often said of Jn 6:35 that believing and coming are equated. Yet, as we will see from Jn 6:45 that it is the result that is equated for coming follows believing.

Jesus is speaking to these same men who had followed him for bread, and then asked how they too could do the work of the Father, and had been told the will of the Father is that they believe on the Son, and that He is the bread of life that gives eternal life.  Don't forget who He is talking to and why.  The Lord says that they have seen Him and yet do not believe - thus they do not have that Bread they need, nor the Eternal Life. He goes on saying that all that the Father gives Him will come to Him, and the one  who comes to Him He will by no means cast out.

Does this speak of Unconditional Election, as Dr. White would teach that it does? It definitely seems to indicate, by necessity, that those the Father does not give will not "come", and that those the Father does give will surely "come." The Lord doesn't stop His teaching here however, as so many preachers choose to do.

The Lord explains this saying "For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." He explains that the will of the Father is that the Lord should loose nothing or no one which or who have been given to Him by the Father. He goes on still, saying "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise Him up at the last day." 

The Lord has been talking about the true need of these men from the beginning. Their need for Eternal Life is the topic, the result of the process not the process.  Who does the Father give Him? Who then comes? Those who believe. It is the will of the Father that all those who believe have Eternal Life. Only those given to the Son will come to Him, and the Father only gives those who believe. Jn 1:12-13

Jn 6:41-42 The Jews then complain about Him saying He was from Heaven. They are calling Him a liar.

Now the Lord talks about process.

Jn 6:43-44 "Jesus therefore answered them" No one can come to Him unless the Father "draws" them.  You can see my discussion of The Drawing of God here.

Jn 6:45-46 Tells us how this drawing works in one brief sentence. Those who believe what the Father shows them, the Son, come to the Son. It is they who believe who come, it is therefore they who believe who are given. In verse 46 the Lord iterates that the Jews hadn't actually seen the Father, only He had. Jn 1:18; Jn 16:5-11

Jn 6:47-51 The Lord exclaims that everyone who believes in Him has Eternal Life. He explains it through the imagery of the bread in the wilderness. He says He gives His flesh for them(us) to eat.

Jn 6:52-59 The Jews get all upset about this, and the Lord repeats it. There are interesting things about sin offerings and eating of flesh which help us to understand their upset and the repetition but they are outside the scope of today's discussion.

Jn 6:65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

What is the Lord saying "therefore" about?

Jn 6:61-64 He's saying 'because some of you don't believe I have told you that none can come to Me unless you eat my flesh and drink My blood.' The problem is not that they were not granted to believe, the problem is they will not be granted to come to Him and so they will not have Eternal Life unless they eat and drink, which He equates with believing.  The Lord is talking about a sin offering here, His flesh is that offering. The consistent problem that the Lord dealt with the Jews about was their need to have their sins washed away. They thought they were going to get to the Father because of their lineage. The Lord was clear that no one could get to the Father except by Him.

Coming to Jesus, or coming to the Father is being reconciled to Him, returning to Him. This is not believing in Him, it is the reconciliation that comes through (or logically after) belief. God only saves those who believe, all others are already condemned.

Jn 6:66 I wonder how Dr. White reconciles that people the Holy Spirit calls "Disciples" fell away and refused to believe this teaching with his Lordship Salvation theology.

Jn 6:67-71 Here we find that the twelve, or rather eleven of the twelve, had come to believe that Jesus is the Christ. The Lord notes that He choose the eleven, even though one of them was a devil.

So that's my explanation of Jn 6:65 which is both completely exegetical and completely at odds with Dr. White's view. The point of Dr. Geisler's book CBF is that God, in Eternity Past, chose to save those people who would believe (through conviction & convincing without violating His own nature), and worked History to reveal Himself to them so they would believe.

Does my explanation seem complicated? Perhaps that is because Calvinism has over ridden this chapter of Scripture for so long that we have been taught HOW to read it and what it must really mean. When I first started to challenge Calvinism John 6 would give me a head ache. You know why? Because I could hear sermon after sermon in my mind. Not because the passage says anything close to Calvinism.

Let's get back to The Potter's Freedom.

White quotes Geisler on Matt 23:37:
"Also, Matthew 23:37 affirms emphatically that Jesus desired to bring Jews who rejected Him into the fold but could not because they would not. He cried, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." God's grace is not irresistible on those who are unwilling." 
White responds to this quote:
"We first note that "irresistible grace" is a reference to God's sovereign regeneration of His elect: any other use of the phrase is in error."
Dr. White first an foremost in every engagement protects his theology. Why is that always his first concern? After doing that he says that Geisler is saying:
"...God's grace is dependent upon the will of man. If a man is willing, God's grace will prevail. But grace cannot change the will of man." 
The implication is that if man is unwilling that God's grace will "not prevail", it will fail. This however, is not at all the argument of Geisler's book. As demonstrated in our brief look at CBF, Geisler states that God will not violate the will of man to save him. Not that he cannot. The quote that White provides of Geisler makes it seem as though he is saying that God is not able, but Geisler's actual point is that He is not able to do so because it would violate who God is. This become absolutely clear when one reads more than short quotations of CBF.

White complains:
"No exegesis is offered, just conclusions. How Dr. Geisler arrived at these conclusions, we are not told. Later we are informed that it is the "plain meaning" of the text and are asked rhetorically, "What could be more clear: God wanted all of them, even the unrepentant, to be saved."
What exegesis is required? Really. OK let's look at it, but let's look at the Lord's whole statement which comes after multiple "Woe to you" statements about their willful ignorance:

Matt 23:37-39
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”
Who is the Lord speaking to? To Jerusalem, the house of the Jews, particularly the leadership of the nation it would seem. He calls them guilty of killing and stoning those whom God sent to them. Of these same people, these people who reject Him and those whom He sent to them, that He desires to gather them as children! It doesn't matter if He is talking about every Jew ever, or just these ones who reject Him. The point is absolutely clear and plainly stated. I wanted to, but you were not willing. It is absolutely impossible to use exegesis to separate those whom He desired to gather, from those who rejected Him and were unwilling to be gathered. Only, eisegesis and forcing one's theology on this passage can accomplish such a foolish task. Further, the Lord is not done desiring to gather these unrepentant people for He says they won't see them until they say "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!" There is hope for these, if they will recognize Jesus for Who He is they will be gathered as children.  Did I really need to explain this? Was this "exegesis" at all necessary?

It looks to me as though the foundation Geisler is building on is just fine.

White continues restates that Geisler uses this passage along with 1Tim 2:4 and 2Pet 3:9 to build the case that God desires to save every person.  He questions if this is what Matt 23:37 is really teaching and then promises to "..provide an exegetical interpretation of the passage and compare it with the presentation in CBF."

He makes the following points:
"The first fact to ascertain in examining any passage of Scripture is its context. This passage comes in the midst of the proclamation of judgment upon the leaders of the Jews." 
That's true it does come in there, however as I pointed out above this does not aid Dr. White's argument.
"Who, then is "Jerusalem"? It is assumed by Arminian writers that "Jerusalem" represents individual Jews who are, therefore, capable of resisting the work and will of Christ. .... Jesus is condemning the Jewish leaders, and it is to them that He refers here. This is clearly seen that:
  1. It is to the leaders that God sent prophets;
  2. It was the Jewish leaders who killed the prophets and those sent to them;
  3. Jesus speaks of "your children," differentiating those to whom He is speaking from those that the Lord desired to gather together. (emphasis added)
  4. The context referes to the Jewish leaders, scribes and Pharisees
A vitally important point to make here is that the ones the Lord desired to gather are not the ones who "were not willing"! Jesus speaks to the leaders about their children that they , the leaders would not allow Him to "gather."
OK as I said above it would take a feat of eisegesis and forcing ones' theology on to a passage to separate those who He desired from those who rejected Him. What White does is clever, and is probably very convincing to many people who read his argument. But there are two distinct problems with his argument which make it not sound.

1. White is saying that it is impossible for the sinner being saved to resist the grace of God, but that if someone else doesn't want them to be saved that other person can resist the grace of God toward you so that Christ is helpless to save anyone unless the Jewish council allows it. This is rebuttal is exactly in context with White's argument against Geisler. It is an absurd statement.

2. While Jerusalem may well be a title for the Jewish leaders, and I would hold to that same view, the "children" of Jerusalem must indicate all Jews. What Jew is not a child of Jerusalem? In White's argument the children are those under the Jewish council. What Jew was not? Therefore here we find White admitting that Jesus is stating that at the very least He wanted to save every Jew with the only exception grammatically allowable and within the limits of White's argument being the Jewish council. Did Christ accomplish this desire? Of course not. Then White's question to Geisler ought to be asked of White "Did Christ then fail to accomplish it?"

The solution is plain and simple. Jesus is rebuking the Jewish council, but the point is the same the Jewish people are the ones He desired to save yet they would not. Was it only the Jewish council that was blinded at their rejection of Him? Or do we find that all Jews suffer from that blindness? Is it not so that all Jews suffer from the problem of not seeing Him until they say "Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the LORD!"?

White finishes his response to Geisler on Matt 23:37 triumphantly:
"So we can now plainly see that CBF has absolutely no basis for its assertion.... One of the three primary passages used in CBF is seen, then, to have no connection with the application made of it over and over again in the text." 
It is a shame that Dr. White missed Geisler's point, for if he had caught it (perhaps) he would have ended this response very differently.

Next up White discusses 1Tim 2:4 saying that "again" the key to this passage is the context. He says:
"We must remember that the early Christians were a persecuted people, and normally the persecution came from those in positions of power and authority. It is easy to understand why there would have to be apostolic commandments given to pray for the very ones who were using their power and authority to persecute these Christians." 
Paul tells us the purpose of the prayers in 1Tim 2:2 "...that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence."So far I don't disagree with White. What follows however, are tactics White would write whole books about were Geisler to employ. 
"Who are kings and all who are in authority? They are kinds of men, classes of men. Paul often spoke of "all men" in this fashion." 
Calvinists typically have trouble interpreting the word "all"... I'm just say'n... :) Hey these chapters are long, and frustrating. I've got to take whatever chance I can to lighten the mood and get a giggle or two right?
"For example, in Titus chapter 2, when Paul speaks of the grace of God which brings salvation appearing to "all men" the context, both before and after, speaks of kinds of men." 
Only a die-hard Calvinist would have to put "all kinds of men" in place of "all men" in this passage. What was it that White was accusing Geisler of writing in CBF? Oh yeah "Well, it can't mean this, because we know..."
How does substituting "all kinds of men" work for Dr. White when Paul writes of the instructions started in 1Tim 2 saying:

1Tim 4:6-11
If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 11 These things command and teach. (emphasis added)
Paul's concerns in this letter are the fidelity of Timothy's ministry, the care of and peace for the Saints, and the salvation of all men. Not all kinds of men, but all men. For God is the Saviour of all men, especially those who believe.

A proposed sentence "God is the saviour of all kinds of men, especially those who believe" makes no sense. But the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, and those who believe are actually saved.

But White says that Paul often writes of "all kinds of men" did Paul mean that "all kinds of men" sin and fall short of the glory of God? Rom 3:23? How about Rom 5:18 that I called "Calvinism's Black Box" back in September 2010. Does it say that judgment came to all kinds of men here and that the free gift of salvation came to all kinds of men? Or does it say that judgment came to all, and the free gift of salvation came to all? As I pointed out in the Calvinism's Black Box article the greek for both phrases is exactly the same, the context is the same - thus Paul's argument makes sense - and it cannot be reconciled with Calvinism. It surely cannot be reconciled with Dr. White's "all kinds of men" substitution.

White's "all kinds of men" is a convenient substitution of what the Text says with what his theology says. There is absolutely no grammatical or contextual reason in 1Tim 2 (or other places for that matter) to make this substitution. Without TULIP ringing in one's ear one would never ever see that in the Text.

White makes several attempts to mock the scope of what "all" could mean in 1Timothy 2. Saying that Paul didn't want them to institute constant prayer sessions where every single person in the world is prayed for individually. He brings up Titus 3:2 and says that can't be universal in scope. That in Acts 22:15 could not mean that Paul would witness to every single person ever.... he goes on with several of these. I sympathize with his argument to some extent. It is true that in 1Tim 2 Paul was not telling them to pray for every single person in existence in all of history. He was telling them to pray for everyone they knew about. His emphasis was on those who persecute them. White would say that this means it doesn't mean that God wants to save every single person on the planet, ever. That it is limited in scope. He then makes the leap that this means "all kinds of men" not everyone.  The problem is that the very same people that Paul is telling them to pray for are included in the "all men" whom God desires to save.  Is the actual context every individual ever in existence? No of course not, not on the prayer side. But Paul is telling them that they should pray for these people BECAUSE God wants to save everyone - even these ones.  Again, this is not hard to see in the Text unless one has studied TULIP first.
"Almost invariably, proponents of Arminianism isolate this passage from the two verses that follow.... Verse 5 begins with the word "for," indicating the connection between the statement made in 3-4 and the explanation in 5-6. Why should Christians pray that all men, including kings and rulers, be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth? Because there is only one way of salvation... First, if one takes "all men" in verse 4 to mean "all men individually," does it not follow that Christ is of necessity must be mediator for all men as well?"
The Text doesn't say that, and neither does Geisler. The text says God desires all men to be saved, and that Christ is the mediator between God and men. Grammatically their is a clear difference. One is all inclusive the other is a subgroup.
"If one says, "yes, Christ mediates for every single human being," does it not follow that Christ fails as mediator every time a person negates His work by their all-powerful act of free will?"
Notice how he brings up Christ failing when he wants to make his point seem more clear than it is?
"... for anyone familiar with the relationship between atonement, mediation and intercession in the book of Hebrews knows well that to make such an assertion puts the entire argument of Hebrews 7-10 on its head." 
Is White saying "Anyone as smart and biblical literate as I am would know that I'm right..."? He doesn't explain how such a thing would put Heb 7-10 "on its head" nor does he bother to find Geisler stating that Christ mediates for every single person. He invents an argument and argues against it using an emotional appeal - a supposed failure of Christ, and a haughty statement. This is his great defense of the Reformation and "the" Rebuttal of CBF?
"...the ransom that Christ gives in His self-sacrifice is either a saving ransom or a non-saving one. If it is actual  and really made in behalf of all men, then inevitably all men would be saved. is far more consistent to recognize that the same meaning for "all men" and "all" flows through the entire passage, and when we look at the inarguably clear statements of Scripture regarding the actual intention and result of Christ's cross-work, we will see that there is no other consistent means of interpreting these words in 1 Timothy." 
I truly wish that White would stop promising biblical arguments and just give one.

Perhaps he has never read Leviticus 16. Lev 16:15 shows that on the Day of Atonement that one animal was killed as a propitiation of God for the sins of the people. Its blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat. It was killed for ALL the people of Israel. God was propitiated for all the sins of all the people. Justice was fully served. Then in Lev 16:20-22 we read that the other animal, the Scapegoat, had the sins confessed on its head and it bore them away.  Calvinists will tell you that if Christ died for everyone that Universalism must be true. Scripture paints an entirely different picture. God MUST be propitiated for all sin, every single sin by an acceptable sacrifice. He CANNOT be propitiated by the death of a dirty sinful animal, or a dirty sinful sinner.

I'm going to skip over the rest of his argument about 1Tim 2:4 because it is more of the same that we've seen from him on other subjects. If anyone should desire me to address each additional point please comment and I will do so. There is nothing there that poses any challenge to my view, or Geisler's. This article is massive, and I know the longer these are the fewer people will read them. It is this length by necessity, though I wish I could condense it further.

Of usage of 2Pet 3:9 White begins:
"This is surely the most popular passage cited (almost never with any reference to the context) to "prove" that God could not possibly desire to save a specific people but instead desires to save every single individual person, thereby denying election and predestination." 
White doesn't say that this is what Geisler is doing in CBF, and one could make a clear argument that Geisler teaches in CBF that God does save only those whom He has purposed and predestined in accordance with His desire. White quotes 2Peter 3:3-13, quoting a large portion of the passage which I applaud as a practice, but I wonder why he starts in the middle of a sentence. Verse 3 is not the start of something it is a continuance of something.
"Immediately one sees that unlike such passages as Eph 1, Rom 8-9, or John 6, this passage is not speaking about salvation as its topic."
Really? What's more: Rom 8 isn't about salvation, it's about sanctification. Rom 9 is the beginning of Paul's explanation of God's faithfulness to Israel, not salvation. John 6, well we looked at that earlier in this article. Eph 1, we'll get there.
"The reference to "coming to repentance" in 3:9 is made in passing." 
"Peter is explaining the reason why the coming of Christ has been delayed as long as it has."
OK I'm on board with this bit.
"But the next thing that stands out upon the reading of the passage is the clear identification of the audience to which Peter is speaking. When speaking of the mockers he refers to them in the third person "them." But everywhere else he speaks directly to his audience as the "beloved" and "you."...the assumption made by the Arminian is that when verse 9 says the Lord is "patient toward you" that this "you" refers to everyone. Likewise when it says "not wishing for any to perish" but "all to come to repentance," it is assumed that the "any" and the "all" refers to anyone at all of the human race."
One of my personal beefs with Calvinism is that it makes simple English so hard to read. I've watched as people tried to read through John 6 and if it wasn't so tragic it would be funny to see how hard a time people have with it. Not because the English translation is so terrible, but because the weight of the theology on the Text is so heavy.  The reading of this passage suffers in like fashion. I really don't think the passage needs to be broken down as I've done with previous ones. However, I will in the comments if that is requested.

Let me simply break Calvinism's influence on it.

If the "all" and the "us" are the same group of people, the Elect of God, and if Peter's theology is that God's Election is as the Reformers state it "Unconditional" then his statement is without purpose, and near to complete nonsense.  'God is long-suffering toward us, and not willing that any of us should perish but that all of us would come to repentance.' If Calvinism is in view then it is not possible that any would perish, such a thing could not be in the minds of Peter's readers. Why is Peter even writing any of this 2Peter 3:1-13 at all? Scoffers will come, but the true Calvinist will persevere anyway... they need not be convinced of God's faithfulness, nor assured of it. They have been regenerated and thus have been given a new heart that does the will of God.... While White makes a clever argument the passage doesn't actually fit with his theology. It can only be manipulated to look as though it does if other parts of the theology are momentarily ignored.

Peter's audience was a group of already saved people. To say that this audience defines the "any" and "all" is to greatly manipulate the Text. Further, this is not how we would read such a letter to us. If I and the group of saved Evangelists I work with in street ministry received a letter from a Pastor who knows that we are saved and he was telling me about God's delay in coming and how there are mockers around but that God is long suffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance - would I think he was talking about our group of people? Or would I think that he was talking about everyone else? Given the context of our ministry we would think of everyone else. Given just the letter without the context of our ministry I could still not define the "any" and "all" as some part of us. It would surely mean that those "any" and "all" could join US.

What's missing from Peter's words for White's argument to work? Peter not once links "all" or "any" with the Church which is His Body. In fact Peter doesn't mention the Church as a whole. He mentions only the "us" or "you" to which he is writing. If Peter did have the building of the Church in view then White's argument could perhaps have validity.  Instead of being driving from the Text through exegesis, White assumes the doctrine of the Elect of God, or the Church which is His Body as a whole is the subject and inserts it into the Text.
"The point of the passage is that God will bring the elect to repentance throughout the time period prior to the parousia, the coming of Christ."
I'm not sure this is "THE" point of the passage, but it is a point for sure. Further Geisler uses the passage in exactly the same way. He simply doesn't limit "any" to those who already are.

Dr White closes Chapter 6 in this way:
"The person inclined to accept the thesis of CBF should consider this issue well: it is an understatement to say that Dr. Geisler relies upon Matt 23:37; 1Tim 2:4; and 2Pet 3:9 as his key Scriptural passages. If, in fact, one can present an interpretation of each that is at least as valid, if not much more so, than his own, does it not follow that the vast majority of the biblical response provided in CBF becomes suspect?" 
If Dr. White's assertion is true, that these are the "key" verses, and if one were able to present an interpretation as described then perhaps yes CBF could become suspect. However, Dr. White ignores the vast majority of Scriptural argumentation in CBF and focuses on these three passages. Frankly, given my review of his interpretation of them the only thing left suspect in my opinion is the book The Potter's Freedom. 

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