Friday, November 16, 2012

The Debater's Potter - Part 16 - Chapter 11

Is it OK to debate the characteristics of God?
We're getting ever nearer the end of The Potter's Freedom and this series too! I've struggled with so many different things as I've been writing it. Offense, indignation, impatience, and even laziness. We're getting through it though! 

There haven't been very many comments. It's understandable given the length of the articles. Who wants to make one longer by adding a discussion under it? But still, Calvinism normally gets the conversation going... I'm somewhat glad for so few comments though, given how exhausted I am at the end of each article. The earlier chapters were easier because they didn't require much thought and study. The later chapters are taking at least 1 full day to prepare and 2 - 3 days to write. This is because I'm trying to be less dismissive of what White is writing and because he's finally gotten to his arguments. Even if I am underwhelmed by them they still deserve and require my full attention.

So, welcome again to a series of articles I've entitled "The Debater's Potter" where I react to, and interact with Dr. James R. White's book 
The Potter's Freedom(TPF) which he intends as a defense of his view of the Reformation and "the" rebuttal of Dr. Norman Geisler's book Chosen But Free(CBF). I would classify myself as a Non-Calvinist-Non-Arminian Believer in Christ, and I choose the title for this series because Dr. White's theology and argumentation seems more suited to debate than understanding God.

These articles are exceedingly long, and so I won't be able to go over points previously covered. So, please start from the Introduction to the series where you'll also find an index of links to each of the articles in the series. Thanks!

Last time we looked at Dr. White's argument FOR Limited Atonement, this time we're going to look at his argument AGAINST what he calls Universal Atonement. Before we get into his argument however, I need to clear some things up about the Atonement.

In the previous article I discussed how the Atonement is a two step process using Leviticus 16 to explain that. That Christ died for everyone does not mean everyone has been atoned. It means that God has been propitiated for all the sins of all mankind. In deed God was not just propitiated for the sins of man, but He was propitiated on behalf of all Creation. Justice is satisfied with the propitiation. Forgiveness is bestowed after the confession of sins. Thus the Atonement that Christ accomplished on the Cross is neither Limited Atonement nor Universal Atonement. It made atonement universally available. Thus Dr. Geisler says it made all mankind "saveable" which Dr. White characterizes as a "theoretical salvation." It is unfortunate that Dr. Geisler does not explain the Atonement from Leviticus 16, but it even more so that Dr. White invents his own economy for Atonement that is not found in the Scriptures.

As we are about to dig into Chapter 11 let's take a second to remember what Dr. White promised he would do in this chapter:

Do Reformed theologians have no satisfactory explanations for the texts that are cited in support of universal atonement? Let's find out.
So will we get "exegetical" "responses" (which he demands of Geisler) to the passages that I cited last time? We're about to find out. I have to admit that I wrote this introduction before finishing the chapter. In fact as I'm writing this very paragraph I'm about 3/4 the way through the chapter and have just gotten to the first discussion of any particular verse.

There's going to be a change to the format in this article. The first 3/4 of the chapter at hand goes back to the style of the two introductions and the first 8 or so chapters. I've taken extensive notes on the whole chapter so if there's something that anyone would like me to comment on please just leave a comment under this article stating what it is and I'll do that. What I don't want to repeat this time around is the hours of writing about (and you having to read) name calling, misdirection, his offense at the idea that Geisler might want to define terms in ways that historical Calvinism hasn't and the like. Do you really need to go through that all over again? I didn't think so.

Out of the first 3/4 of the chapter the following four things stand out, and they are the basis for White's understanding of Limited Atonement. So let's talk about them.

1. White's view of Substitutionary Atonement.

The first 3/4 of the chapter is largely just a repeat of the previous chapter. As we saw last time White thinks that unless the people Christ died to save were exclusively joined with Christ at the moment of the Cross then it cannot be called "substitutionary" atonement. It is a long complicated and strained argument that he makes but in short he is saying unless the people were with Christ at the moment of the Cross then the person cannot say "I have been crucified with Christ."  White suggests there are only two possible scenarios. If Christ died for everyone then, everyone can say "I have been crucified with Christ" even the lost sinner already suffering in the flames of Hell. Or that Christ only died for the sins of the Elect who must have been "joined with Christ" at the cross.

Geisler notes, as I do, that Salvation is not "complete" at the Cross. Previously Dr. White had argued that such is exactly what the Lord meant when He said "It is finished!" But, now he says:

"...we are not saying that God completed and applied the entire work of salvation to the elect at the cross. Such would be impossible since most of the elect were not yet born. What we are saying is that the elect were joined to Christ at His death so that they can all say "I was crucified with Christ." What we are saying is that the unregenerate man in hell can never say "I was crucified with Christ." What we are saying is that is equivocation to say "Before the moment in time when they were regenerated, the elect were not saved actually but only potentially."What does "potentially" mean? That there was some doubt involved." 
Dr. Geisler never once states, implies or in any other way suggests that there is any "doubt" about if the Elect will be saved. Dr. White seemingly has a hard time to argue against what Dr. Geisler actually writes in his book so he chooses to argue against other things...

I suggest that instead of making assumptions and building a theology that we must then find ways to defend in the Scriptures that we simply read the Scriptures. As demonstrated by the verses cited in Part 15, and again later in this article it is clear that Christ did in fact die for everyone. Those who believe are then baptized into Christ's death, burial and resurrection. They were not "joined to Christ" at the moment of the Cross. Only after faith, can one say that they have been crucified with Christ. In fact if you read the passage Dr. White uses to assert that the person was actually Crucified with Christ at the moment of the Cross you will find out that Paul is not placing the person on the cross, but rather explaining that because they have died in Christ they are not bound by the Law. It is the fact of their death that Paul is detailing, not when and where it happened. Gal 2:11-21. Gal 2:20a (the first phrase of the verse) sounds great to support a view which has been previously built up, but the problem is that the Apostle was not talking about what White is using the verse for. He was not putting the person on the Cross with Christ (even spiritually... whatever that's supposed to mean) at the moment of the Cross. In fact after belief a person must be baptized INTO Christ's cross work in order for them to say they have been crucified with Christ. Rom 6:3-7, Gal 3:1-4, Gal 3:26-27, 1Cor 12:13, Eph 1:13-14

2. The Language of Only

In responding to Dr. Geisler about how the Bible again and again states that Christ died for all Dr. White writes:

"In other words, 'Unless the Bible uses the exact phrase 'Christ died only for the elect,' then it can't possibly be true.'" 
That is pretty much how it works when throughout the Text the Bible indicates that He died for all. In order for "all" to mean something other than "all" it must be modified grammatically. The fact that the Bible never once says that Christ died "only" for the Elect, and repeatedly says that He died for all means that no matter how much it breaks some system of theology that it cannot be true that Christ died "only" for the Elect.

3. Calvin's view of the scope of the atonement - White got Geisler on this one!

FINALLY! After 10 chapters, two long introductions and endless Straw-Man arguments, arguments against Arminianism, arguments against Roman Catholicism Dr. White's "rebuttal" of CBF scores a goal. Dr. Geisler takes the same position that apparently dozens of scholars of the subject have taken. That Calvin believed in a "universal atonement."  Here's what White quotes Geisler as saying:
"Even John Calvin was not an extreme Calvinist on this point, for he believed that by Christ's death "all the sins of the world have been expiated." Commenting on the "many " for whom Christ died in Mark 14:24, Calvin said "The word many does not mean a part of the world only, but the whole human race." This means that people like Jonathan Edwards, John Gerstner, and R.C. Sproul, who believe in limited atonement, are more extreme than John Calvin! Hence, they have earned the title "extreme Calvinists."
Dr. White spends pages discussing this comment and explaining what other people have said on the subject. To his credit he does note that many scholars agree with Geisler on this point. Just when I had given up on the idea that he would end the berating and just quote Calvin on the subject he finally did! I'm not going to share the quote because it is very very long. As I was reading it I was thinking "the case is not entirely clear, but I think that Dr. White is correct on this." I was cautious however because the case seemed to be overly complicated and drawn out. I wasn't about to go read Calvin at length to find out if White was quoting him properly or not. Then it happened. Instead of continuing his overly complicated case he quoted Calvin directly on the subject:
"Therefore, under the word 'all' [in 1 John 2:2] he does not include the reprobate, but referes to all who would believe and those who were scattered through various regions of the earth."
According to this very short quote, at some point in Calvin's writing career he did in fact believe in Limited Atonement. This is all White offered of Calvin directly on the subject, and it is notable that Dr. White will make the exact same assertion about 1Jn 2:2 later in the chapter. Will he be able to defend his redefinition of the words the " whole world"?
Discussion about Calvin's "Limited" or "Universal" Atonement views is exceedingly wearisome. I'll let the scholars argue about the implications and whether this view was on-going or held a for a period or whatever... frankly does it even matter? I truly do not care what some preacher thought. I care what the Scriptures say.

Here's Dr. White's moment of glory as he can finally honestly say that CBF was in error about something: 

"At the very least one thing is obvious: given CBF's failure to interact with any of these arguments the assertion that Calvin "certainly" did not believe in particular redemption is left without any foundation whatsoever." ... "In conclusion, then, we see that the assertion that Calvin "certainly" denied limited atonement, and that this means that those who hold this view are "extreme Calvinists" is utterly without substantiation, either in Calvin's words or in the readily available scholarly sources."
No one can say I didn't give praise where praise was due... this is the first thing in the whole book where Dr. White has any legs to stand on... wobbly as they are the still mangage to score him a point.

4. Double Jeopardy 

I have not been entirely fair to Dr. White on this subject. As I discussed in Part 15 God cannot be satisfied, or propitiated by a spotted offering so the sinner's death doesn't actually accomplish justice. But, Dr. White mixes the idea of propitiation with punishment, as though God is appeased by a person being punished for their sin. This idea is of course extra-biblical as God is only ever propitiated by the blood of a spotless offering. Nonetheless however, White argues against the idea that God would "punish" two people for the same sin. It is in fact the main argument he makes against a "universal atonement." The idea is planted in the reader's mind in Chapter 10, and comes to fruition in Chapter 11 when it is used to explain why the words "whole world"cannot actually mean "the whole world." Actually White never mentions the "whole" part of the phrase "the whole world" at all.. but we'll get that.

Even though punishment is not actually part of the propitiation that the Bible talks about, is there any Biblical merit to White's idea that God can, or to be more generous, would punish two people (Christ and the sinner himself) for the same sin?

He writes:

"We are left with the utterly untenable conclusion that God extracts double-payment for these sins: He punished them first in Christ, and then He will punish them for eternity in the non-elect, who could have avoided this if they had simply exercised their free will and believed." 
Then he continues with a story:
"Let us say there is a man named John Green... John Green will not accept Christ. Despite the best efforts of the Holy Spirit, it is known, perfectly, that John Green will die rejecting the gospel and end up in hell as a result." 
Oh boy... "despite the best efforts of the Holy Spirit"? Really? White repeatedly warns against emotionalism defining the outcome of the debate but surely doesn't fear to employ it again and again. As demonstrated in Part 7 this is not at all what Dr. Geisler (or anyone else I can think of) says. He continues:
"...God the Father knew, infallibly, that John Green would never accept the work of Christ in his behalf, still God the Father causes Jesus Christ to suffer in John Green's place, bearing his sins and their penalty on the cross. This despite the fact that God likewise knows that He will exact the same penalty for the same sins from John Green's sins on Jesus knowing full well that Christ's work would fail in His behalf?"
Wow. So the death of a sinner is the "exact same" as the death of Jesus Christ the Righteous? How so Dr. White? The death of a guilty sinner who goes on to eternal punishment is not in any way akin to, or "likewise" to Jesus Christ the Righteous' death burial and resurrection.

Dr. White wrote of Hebrews 9:26

"What does it mean to "put away" sin? If His self-sacrifice puts away sin, how can any man for whom Christ died be held accountable for those sins? Such involves "double jeopardy" the punishment of Christ and the punishment of the man for the same sins!"  
Israel is God's "elect" nation. Christ died for Israel. Perhaps, in White's economy, not all of the people of Israel but certainly some portion of that nation as individuals.  Yet we read things like Lev 26:18-24, Ezra 9:13, Hos 8:13, Hos 9:1-17, Amos 3:1-2... and so on and so on. Apparently God does punish the Elect for their sins even though it is without debate the sins of the Elect were born by Christ on the cross.

Actually Amos 3:1-2 is the same passage White tried to use to explain how being "foreknown" in Romans 8:29 really means to be "foreloved." So by White's admission the sins of these particular people MUST have been born by Christ on the cross, yet God still punished them. How can that be? Is this "double-jeopardy"?

White expands his argument and tries to cover all his bases with:

"The sins of the elect people of God were nailed to the cross of Christ and no others. This is the difference, then: the Arminian says all sins committed by all men are nailed to the cross of Calvary and borne in His body on the tree. The Reformed says if this is so then they cannot be borne by anyone else at any time. It is not a matter of Christ "potentially" bearing sin: either He bore it or He didn't. If He did, those sins are forgiven."
I love it when White is clear. It sounds like a pretty solid argument doesn't it? It is interesting to me that there is no Scripture referenced or cited. Where does the Scripture say that the sins of the Elect, or anyone for that matter, were "nailed to the cross"?  Where does the Scripture say that if Christ bore one's sins that they themselves cannot "at any time" also bear them?

If only Christ can ever bear the sins of the Elect, because He bore them at the cross and no one else can bear them at any time then how does the Elect person come to faith? They can't be convicted of their sin - for they have not, nor ever will they bear it themselves. How can they say they are guilty? For according to White's economy though they were sinners - as he was careful to point out in the previous chapter - they cannot bear their own sin guilt for Christ bore it on the cross. Does the Elect person come to Christ not bearing the guilt of their sin? What of the Elect people who used to be sinners who were washed and justified. 1Cor 6:9-11. How can one be "justified" for a sin they never bore? There are many examples in the Text which show Dr. White to be false on this. Dr. White's argument sounds solid, yet is it is not based in the Scriptures but in his theology. It falls apart at the slightest test of Scripture.

We have already seen White's view of propitiation is incorrect. I have demonstrated that Propitiation is about justice. That God must be propitiated for all sin, and even for all Creation otherwise there would be injustice and God is just. Payment must be made by an acceptable offering, there is only one, the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I have also demonstrated that justice being served makes it just for God to forgive the guilty sinner on the basis of faith. That this is how the Day of Atonement worked, and it is how being saved works.

White's economy for sin does not fit in the Bible. This being established, does that mean that God does "punish" two people, Christ and the sinner, for the same sin? If Christ died for everyone does that mean that God "extracts double-payment" dishing out punishment for the sins "twice"? Here's a radical question. Where does the Bible say that Christ was "punished"? The Bible says that Christ was crucified for our sin, that it pleased the Father to crush Him for our iniquity, and that He died in accordance with the Scriptures for our sin. Nowhere, that I can find, does it say that He was, or would be, "punished" for our sin. Christ didn't "take our punishment." He died to satisfy Justice so we could be justified making eternal punishment of us unnecessary.
Believe it or not, while these are the most important parts of White's diatribe for the first 3/4 of the chapter it hardly covers the multitude of comment worthy quotes. I chose to not comment on everything because it really is just more of the same that we saw for most of TPF. I decided not to focus on White's attitude this time, and looking at how long this article is already getting I bet everyone is glad I did so!

White on passages used to show Christ died for all. 

Now, as we approach Dr. White's discussion of particular passages used to show that Christ died for all mankind, and really all of Creation I want to remind you of the verses that I was able to pick out in just a couple of minutes to show this to be a fact. It may be important to realize that I compiled this list of passages before I had read more than the first three pages of White's 11th chapter. I had no idea how in depth he would or would not get. 
Lev 16:1-34Isa 53:6Matt 13:44Mark 16:15-16Jn 1:29Jn 3:14-17Jn 4:42Jn 6:33Rom 5:12-192Cor 5:14-152Cor 5:18-19Gal 3:222Pet 2:1-31Jn 2:2, 1Jn 4:14. Then I added discussion about two more passages 2Cor 5:14-15 and Rom 3:21-26.
To be fair, I would say much fairer than Dr. White is to Dr. Geisler, CBF does not cite all of these passages. In fact, if I remember correctly Dr. Geisler does a fairly poor job in explaining the Atonement. Yet, Dr. White never fails to criticize Dr. Geisler for not interacting with the multitude of Reformed Theologians whom Dr. White esteems. So I will say that Dr. White ought to even more so, and at the very least, interact with the Scriptures which say Christ died for all. That is what he led us to believe he would do at the end of Chapter 10.

Sadly, Dr. White choose to mention only two verses. 

John 1:29 

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
White says that Dr. Geisler uses this "as a proof-text for universal atonement" and responds:
"To which we reply that if the Lamb of God takes away the sin of every single individual then that sin is gone and can no longer be held against anyone."
In other words "it can't mean what it says because we know..." Isn't this what Dr. White accuses everyone else but him of doing? I haven't written it in a while but; Pot meet Kettle. He continues briefly:
"...we cannot help but point to the fact that John uses the term "world" in many different ways. It cannot be assumed that "world" means the same thing in every context. In John "World" is used of those for whom Christ does not pray (John 17:9), so obviously its meaning here cannot simply be assumed. We will address this usage of "world" as it is found in the more famous passage relevant to this issue, 1 John 2:2." 
That's his explanation of John 1:29 from the Calvinist's point of view. John uses the word "world" in different ways. OK So show me from the Text what he means in this verse. 

Since there is no valid justification to re-define the word into something other than "the world" here he must move on to another verse. Before he moves on to 1Jn 2:2 he does briefly mention John 17:9. This is one of the arguments I skipped from the first 3/4 of this chapter. In that argument Dr. White says that Christ didn't pray for "the world" but only for those who would believe then and in the future. He uses this in a helpless attempt to make it appear as though this means Christ didn't die for "the world." However, here we find that while the Lord didn't pray for the world, the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. Is John talking about two different worlds? Does he mean two different things? Without appealing to Calvinism, or without attempting to protect, or for that matter insult, Calvinism show me from the Text how that is possible. It is not possible. The word means what it means. Just like the word "all" it means what it means unless there is some grammatical modifier, and there isn't one. So, it means "world."

Having completed this feat of Calvinistic-Exegesis (other wise known as eisegesis) Dr. White moves on to his second and final verse to discuss on the subject. 

"The final passage we will examine is the most often cited by proponents of a universal, non-specific atonement."
1John 2:2 
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Is this verse so very hard to understand?
"The Reformed understanding is that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of all the Christians to which John was writing, and not only them, but for all the Christians throughout the world, Jews and Gentile, at all times in all places." 
Yes I get that Dr. White. I also know how important your historical Calvinism is to you, but that's not what the verse says. 
"If there was not so much emotional energy involved in the debate the means of determining which interpretation is the proper one would be agreed to by all: the meaning of "propitiation" would be examined. The meaning of "Advocate" would be deduced. And Johns writings would be studied to see how he uses the phrase "the whole world" and what other phrases/descriptions could be paralleled with it."
There's a whole lot packed into those few sentences! If there wasn't "so much emotional energy involved in" defending Calvinism from the obvious meaning of the Scripture then there would be no "debate" about the meaning of this verse at all. The meaning of propitiation can be found in Leviticus 16. The sin offering for the people is made to appease God for the sin of the people. Propitiation is made at the Mercy Seat. John says that Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and in the previous verse says that "we" that is the Believers have an Advocate in Heaven. The Advocate is not for the "whole world" but the propitiation is. So the meaning of Advocate is not informative to the subject of Limited Atonement - no matter how hard Dr. White attempted to limit the atonement to those whom Christ intercedes for in his argument for Limited Atonement in Chapter 10.

The last thing of note in this short quotation is this: "...and what other phrases/descriptions could be paralleled with it." This is very telling. As we'll see momentarily Dr. White isn't interested in which passages ARE parallel with this verse, but which "can be paralleled" with it. 

"For example, such a study would find the following passage, also from the pen of John, relevant"
He quotes Rev 5:9-10 as though it is some sort of new idea that he is introducing. Again, the Lord said that He bought the field to get the pearl. Mat 13:44 This is just an example of Red Smarties again.
"Similarly we can find yet another passage in John's writings that provides parallel information:"
Then he quotes John 11:49-52. He adds:
"Again we note the exegetical relevance. 1) the death of Christ is in the context; 2) the object of the death of Christ is discussed and identified; 3) a generic term "people" is more closely identified as the children of God who are scattered abroad. Clearly the point of the passage is that Christ dies with a specific purpose in mind, so that He might gather together into one the children of God whoa re scattered abroad." 
The death of Christ is being discussed. The object of Christ's death (I really don't like this terminology because it is unclear) is discussed and identified. The object is the people so that the whole nation not perish. He was to die for the people, so that some portion of the nation would not perish. We are not told how big, or the identity of that portion of the nation.

Dr. White asserts that "the generic term 'the people' is more closely identified as the children of God who are scattered abroad." However, read the passage. That is not at all what John did. The people are not "more closely identified" at all. "The people" must include the Nation of Israel as we read in vs 51, and not ONLY the nation of Israel but enough people so that it will cover those who are also scattered abroad.  Here read the passage:

John 11:49-52

49 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.
The "people" are not "more closely identified" as the Children of God. He was to die "for the nation" yet the Scripture is clear and even the Lord Himself noted, that not all of the Nation of Israel would be saved. Yet He was to die "for the nation and not for that nation only" but also for the purpose (or but also that) He would gather together in one the children of God. The purpose is what is more closely identified. He died for the people so that He would gather together in on the Children of God. Dr. White once again tries to use his own grammar to make the Scripture say something it is not saying, but thankfully it is easy enough to tell what he is doing. He bought the field so He could get the pearl. 

In the end John 11:49-52 is no different than what we have already established. Christ died for all so that He could justly save those who would believe. Rom 3:21-26 
"The fact that Dr. Geisler either is unaware of the comments we just provided (which are found in any number of Reformed works on the subject) or chooses to ignore them does not make the claim, drawn from honest contextual exegesis of the text, "groundless."
I'm not sure I would call any of this "exegesis" or "honest" for that matter.
Dr. White quotes Dr. Geisler:
"One needs only to make a study of the generic use of the word "world" (cosmos) in John's writings to confirm that he speaks here of the fallen, sinful world (cf. John 1:10-11; 3:19)"
To which Dr. White responds:
"We are not told why these passages are exegetically relevant outside of the appearance of the word "world." Why should we accept the claim that, for example, John 3:19 is somehow relevant to the meaning of the word "world" in 1Jn 2:2?"
Oh the ever clever debater is firing on all cylinders on this one! First and foremost the discussion is about John 1:29 so the usage of the word "world" just a few verses away from that, in John 1:10-11 IS  particularly relevant. Especially since it is this passage that identifies WHO will be saved: those who believe. Instead of making that connection though he decides to push the verses he selects to talk about as far apart as possible choosing John 3:19 and 1Jn 2:2. The connection between John 1:10-11 and John 1:29 is relavent on every level. John 3:19 merely shows how the word "world" is used by John. 

That isn't even the worst of it though. Dr. White just took us to a few passages that have little to nothing to do with the John 1:29 or 1Jn 2:2 and which don't even use the word "world" in them. Are his examples - which have already been shown not to help his view anyway - more "exegetically relevant" to the meaning of the word "world"?  I don't know about you readers, but I've gone from being offended by the man for thinking so little of those who disagree with him as to make such lame defences of his doctrine, to finding him laughable. 
Yet he confidently states of Geisler's belief that the words "the whole world" in 1Jn 2:2 really do simply mean "the whole world":

"We here have a classic example of what Dr. Geisler accuses the Reformed of: eisegesis, reading into the passage a meaning that it could never have borne when first written."
Really? It's interesting that the Apostle John wrote "the whole world" using the Greek words holos kosmos. The whole, or complete, creation. This is what these words mean, no matter if that fact insults Calvinism or not.

Above we saw Dr. White say that Dr. Geisler's apparent ignorance of Reformed teachings doesn't make the claims of Calvinism "groundless." I say the only "ground" for Limited Atonement is that it is a requirement of Calvinism. If Calvinism is true then Limited Atonement must be true.... and that brings us to Dr. White's best available weapon! 

"Charles Spurgeon believed in particular redemption."
And there we have it! How many times have I heard Calvinists tell me "I'm kinda like Charles Spurgeon, I have no choice but to believe Calvinism." Or "As Spurgeon said, Calvinism is Christianity." Or one more quote from Spurgeon himself "The doctrine that is called 'Calvinist' did not spring from Calvin; we believe that it sprang from the great founder of all truth." 

Spurgeon is a bigger than life example of a preacher. Surely, people think, if Spurgeon the "Prince of Preachers" believed and preached it then it MUST be true! White quotes the man at length, giving him a more than a few pages of space in TPF. I'll grant, that while like many other preachers all of his views cannot be established with extreme clarity, that the man did preach Calvinism on many many occasions and that he was himself a Calvinist. Who cares? Was Spurgeon an Apostle who was sent to establish Doctrine for the Church? Did he author Scripture? I'm not disparaging the man in the least, but I am recognizing that he was just a man.

Dr. White closes his chapter with:

"This comes out yet again as the real objection to particular redemption surfaces: the identity of the elect must be based upon God's foreknowledge of their free actions. It cannot be based upon God's decree, for if it were, then salvation is totally of God, and not of man."
Who is he arguing against here?  He chose the title of the book seemingly for the same reason he titles many of his doctrines the way he does. To argue against Dr. White is to argue and rebell against "The Potter's freedom" or  rather "the freedom of God." Dr. Geisler never once says that salvation must be of man.

The last line in the chapter is:

"Thanks be to God He saves perfectly in Christ!"
Because to argue against Limited Atonement is to argue against the perfection of Christ's salvation...

This is Dr. White's sum total of "satisfactory explanations for the texts that are cited in support of universal atonement" that he presents. Who is this supposed to convince? He didn't use exegesis to discuss ANY of the scriptures which speak of Christ dying for all. He differed his argument of Jn 1:29 to his discussion of 1Jn 2:2 which he didn't discuss but instead took us through a few other verses which shed no light on the meaning of the words "the whole world." He didn't even get into the fact that the Apostle John said the WHOLE world, holos kosmos.  There's an easy grammatical modifier that John WOULD have used had he meant that Christ is the propitiation for people throughout the whole world... oh I just used it myself and you understood it! The word "throughout" would modify the meaning of the word "world" to mean people from all over the world, not everyone in the world.

This really is much shorter than it would have been had I gone paragraph by paragraph. Nothing important was missed. I just skipped a bunch of the more silly things. The arguments presented here really were the very strongest of all. In fact they are all that had any sort of strength to them at all. What more can I say?

I'm not some great theologian. I'm just an ordinary guy who reads his Bible. Why is Calvinism even still being discussed if someone like me can see the errors in it?

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