Friday, November 23, 2012

The Debater's Potter - Part 17 - Chapter 12

Here we go again with another instalment of The Debater's Potter where I react to, and interact with Dr. James R. White's book The Potter's Freedom(TPF)! He intends the book 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!

Oh, I haven't reminded the readers to buy The Potter's Freedom lately. I'm quoting Dr. White extensively because in almost every interaction I've seen him in, and throughout The Potter's Freedom he complains that his opponents don't quote and interact with what he or other Reformed Theologians write and teach. Even though I have done my best to ensure no one can say I'm "cherry picking" things in his work, and even though I am also doing my best to ensure his arguments are presented accurately no one has any excuse to take my word for it. If this is a subject you're interested in, and surely you wouldn't be reading these articles if you were not, then you owe it to yourself to see all that these men write. 

Last time we looked at Dr. White's attempted rebuttal of a "universal atonement." His attempt was less than half-hearted. He mentioned only two verses and only discussed one of them. In just a few moments I was able to find a multitude of passages which say explicitly or demonstrate soundly that Christ died for all.

This time we will look at his definition of Irresistible Grace and his defence of Pre-Faith Regeneration. We're going to do it in a similar fashion to the last article; instead of going paragraph by paragraph we'll look at his points. Also, for the first time in this series I needed to open something other than a Bible and a Greek dictionary. I had to open up a Greek Grammar and re-familiarize myself with how to interprete the Greek Participle. I needed to do this to make sure I was correct when responding to Dr. White on his view of 1Jn 5:1. There'll be an extended discussion about that verse below.

Irresistible Grace is Resurrection Power

Dr. White begins his chapter with a quotation from Charles Spurgeon:
"Before we believed in Jesus, we were not capable of those sacred actions which are now our daily delight... we could not believe. How could we do so, when we had not received the gift of faith from the ever-blessed Spirit?... and just as a corpse is under bondage to death, and cannot stir hand or foot, lip or eye, so were we under bondage to sin and Satan."
As has been noted by many others over the last 400 years Calvinism postulates a very lively dead man, who while unable to believe can accomplish all manner of sins.

Dr. White explains the reasoning behind Irresistible Grace:
"The doctrine of irresistible grace is easily understood. Once we understand the condition of man in sin, that he is dead, enslaved to a corrupt nature, incapable of doing what is pleasing to God, we can fully understand the simple assertion that God must raise the dead sinner to life."
The best evidence the Calvinist has for his doctrine of Irresistible Grace is that his other doctrines demand it to be true. I am not going to spend space in this article discussing the false doctrine of Total Inability except to note that it has previously been fully discussed and refuted here: Testing TULIP: Total Depravity/Inability.

One way that Irresistible Grace is often challenged by opponents is by noting all the places in the Bible that show men resisting both the will and the grace of God. Picking up in the next sentence after the above quote, Dr. White responds to this challenge and gives a definition of the doctrine:
"...that God must raise the dead sinner to life. This is all, really, the phrase means: it has nothing to do with sinners rebelling against God and "resisting" Him in that way. It has nothing to do with the fact that christians often resist God's grace in their lives when they sin against Him. No, irresistible grace means one thing: God raises dead sinners to life."
Not really all that controversial really. While I would take exception to when Dr. White thinks this happens, and even the nuance of what he means by "raising dead sinners to life." I largely agree with this statement myself.

Then he offers this statement:
"When we discussed man's deadness in sin we emphasized the fact that even though spiritually dead and alienated from God, the unregenerate sinner is still very active in his or her rebellion against God."
As much as the Calvinist likes the illustration of a dead corpse that is unable, even unmotivated, to do anything when it is in regard to belief they abandon the illustration when it works against their theology.

Dr. White then goes on to talk about unregenerate man's inability to do anything that is pleasing to God. I agree with this idea, of course. For without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb 11:6 However, White includes having faith as being something that pleases God. First Heb 11:6 doesn't say that faith pleases God, it says without it you cannot please God. Secondly Romans 4 excludes the idea that saving faith pleases God or has merit. See Well Done Abram? for more on this subject.
"Irresistible grace, then, is simply the assertion that God's grace, expressed in the sovereignly free act of regeneration, is irresistible. When God chooses to raise one of His elect to life He can do so without asking permission of the dead creature. This is seen clearly in the raising of Lazarus from the dead."
Now you see why I take exception to White's use of the phrase "raise the sinner to life." Dr. White uses the example of Lazarus' resurrection to build his doctrine of regeneration of the lost sinner. I could quote him at length but I've decided not to because I found his manipulation of his readers somewhat upsetting. It is vitally important to me, that my readers are not distracted from the errors in his argument by my dislike for how he treats his readers.
On the level of spiritual capacity the unregenerate man is just like Lazarus: dead, bound, incapable of "self-resurrection." ... Corpses are not known for engaging in a great deal of conversation. No, before Lazarus can respond to Christ's command to come forth, something must happen. Corpses do not obey commands, corpses do not move."
Yet, earlier he quoted Spurgeon saying that the sinner is a dead corpse who is controlled by (obeys) sin and Satan... Further, if Lazarus being "bound" is illustrative of the state the unregenerate sinner is in, and if Lazarus's resurrection is illustrative of regeneration resulting in an reborn saint who is not bound... then why is it that the Apostle John includes the fact that after Lazarus came out of the grave he was still bound? Jn 11:44
"Jesus changed Lazarus's condition first: Lazarus' heart was made new, his mind revitalized. Blood began once again to course through his veins. What was once dead is now alive, and can now hear the voice of his beloved Lord, 'Come forth!'"
The recounting of the historical event is found in John 11:1-44, but White only quotes verses 40-45. Not only is his just-so story, which is an Ad Hoc Fallacy, not found or implied in the Text He doesn't show any Scriptural reason to believe that this event is analogous with the regeneration of a lost sinner. Why? Because there is no passage in Scripture which links these two things.

Yet White continues:
"This is the testimony of every believer... When Christ calls Lazarus the result is resurrection power!"
Resurrection is not regeneration. The Lord was resurrected not regenerated or born again. Lazarus already had a loving relationship with the Lord prior to these events. Jn 11:3 When a sinner is regenerated, or born again, all things are new. It's a convenient passage to use because it provides a framework which the Calvinist can insert his theology into, while at the same time being graphical and amazing. No matter how cool eisegesis lets the sermon be it is still just eisegesis and not exegesis right?

Think I was too harsh at the beginning noting that Irresistible Grace is only supported by the necessity other doctrines of Calvinism create?
"The Scriptural testimony to this truth comes from the many passages we examined regarding total depravity and inability, together with those that teach the absolute sovereignty of God. Even if we could not present further direct biblical teaching, these two truths alone would be enough to establish the necessity of irresistible grace."
We have already seen that his teaching of Total Inability is false and that the verses that speak of the "absolute sovereignty of God" do not teach Determinism at all.  As of yet all we've heard is something like 'Calvinism demands that Irresistible Grace is true, therefore it is'.  He goes on to to say that Scripture does give positive testimony to Irresistible Grace so let's see what he can produce for us.

The Testimony of Scripture

Writing of John 3:3 White offers:
"Every Christian knows the truth of these words, but how often do we consider the order of the actions of 'born again' and 'see the kingdom of God'? That is, by tradition it is taught that a person sees the kingdom of God, desires to enter into it, and then believes resulting in regeneration. Yet, Jesus taught that the unregenerate person cannot even see the kingdom of God."
I can't speak for anyone who teaches from tradition, or about traditions. I'm intentionally ignorante of these things. I know nothing of teachings that say one "sees the kingdom, desires to enter it and then believes resulting in regeneration." I can however quote the testimony of Scripture, and you can too! I'm going to come back to these verses again but check out what the Lord and His Apostles taught, and still teach to this day. You can do it with passages like Jn 1:12Jn 3:14-15 Re: Num 21:9, Jn 6:45Rom 10:14-17Eph 1:13, and Gal 3:2. As I will note again, these verses say believe and then be born again as a child of God, not the other way around. Look and live, not the other way around. Believe and receive the Spirit of God, not the other way around. Even if Jn 3:3 actually did mean that the sinner "cannot even see the Kingdom of God" it wouldn't matter because one is not saved by seeing the Kingdom of God. Further John 3:14-15 is most informative about Dr. White's argument because it is at complete odds with it. It is also the Lord's teaching, and also taken from the same teaching given to the same student.

White continues:
"Does this mean simply that the unregenerate person cannot enter into the kingdom in some future day unless born again? While true, is that all it means? We suggest the passage goes beyond this."
It find it very hard to restrain myself when responding to this kind of teaching. After suggesting that it means more than entering, and some commentary about the actions of spiritual life Dr. White admits:
"Jesus parallels 'seeing' the kingdom with 'entering' the kingdom in the same passage."
When the Lord tells you what He means it's probably a good idea to take His word for it. Especially when the additional meaning you "suggest" it also carries is at complete odds with the rest of what the Lord teaches in the same passage! See, the Lord says that one must look at (see) the Christ lifted up in order to receive life, in the same way that the dying Israelites had to look at the serpent lifted up on Moses' staff in order to get life. Jn 3:14-15, Num 21:9. Look and live, not live and look. The Israelites were not saved from the poisonous snakes so they could then look at the brazen serpent on Mose's staff. No. They had to look at the serpent on the staff in order that they would be saved. The Lord's example is exactly opposite to Dr. White's doctrine.
"The relationship of faith and regeneration is central to the topic of irresistible grace. Arminians content strongly that faith results in regeneration: Calvinists content just as strongly that one must be born again to be able to do something that is clearly a function of the spiritual man and is pleasing to God: having saving faith."
The Bible says that Salvation had to be by grace in order that it could be by grace. Rom 4:16 That is, saving faith is not "pleasing to God" it is not a "work"or "function" of a spiritual man but of the ungodly sinner. Rom 4:5 This is no more than inventing a problem for Calvinism to solve. For more on the subject please see Well Done Abram?
"Does the Bible speak to the issue of what comes first, regeneration or faith?"
There is not a single verse in the Bible that says regeneration comes before faith, and there are many that say faith comes first, and/or condition regeneration on faith. I quoted a short list of them above and will return to that list again below.
"The Scriptures tell us that we are saved by grace through faith. Of this there is no doubt. But the question properly focuses upon the nature of this faith..."
I did a whole series on 'But' Theology... why is it that Calvinists, especially of the Lordship Salvation preaching sort, cannot simply state that Salvation is BY (accomplished by) unmerited favour THROUGH (accessed by, such as is spelled out in Rom 5:1-2) Faith. Why is there always a "but" after that statement? I've searched Paul's writings on the subject and he never once said "but" after talking about how Salvation is by grace through faith alone.
"The previous considerations regarding man's deadness in sin point to the obvious conclusion that man must first be made capable of such a spiritual activity as saving faith, and the fact that the glory for salvation goes solely to a sovereign, life-giving God bears upon this issue as well."
Because White has postulated, falsely, that man suffers from the Total Inability to believe the Gospel, he believes that regeneration "must" happen before faith.  Also, because White has postulated, falsely due to Romans 4 for example, that if a person were to be able to believe the Gospel they would get some glory for doing so he believes that regeneration "must" happen first.

Immediately after White reveals the true reason he holds to the doctrine of pre-faith regeneration he moves into some discussion of Scripture with:
"But there are Scriptural passages that bear directly upon the topic."
What we are about to discuss demonstrates clearly why I am terrified of theology that "must be." When it "must be" true you will see it in the Text no matter if it is there or not. You'll find clever ways to find it everywhere even if it's nowhere. This danger is one of the better reasons I don't call myself "Free Grace" or a "Dispensationalist." As much as I agree with many of the findings of these systems if I started to "be" them then I would be inclined to find these things confirmed in various ways in the Text, even if such was not in the Text. It's a real danger we each need to be aware of, and to ever work against. 1Tim 4:16, 2Tim 2:15, 2Tim 4:1-5, Tit 1:5-9, Tit 2:1-10.

He starts with a discussion of 1Jn 5:1 which has seen a lot of debate online in recent years. Dr. White asserts that "generally" the verse would be understood to present an order of events such as:
"1) Believe that Jesus is the Christ; and 2) you are born of God. Yet, the original readers of this text would not jump to such a conclusion. In reality, the most literal rendering would be "Everyone believing (present tense participle, emphasizing both the on-going action as well as the individuality of saving faith, "each believing person") that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God (a perfect passive verb, "has been born by the agency of God")... And what is the inevitable result of being born of God? Belief that Jesus is the Christ."
At the time of this writing searching Google for 1 John 5:1 Calvinism returns as the first result an article written by Kevin Brown at his blog called Diglotting.  In the article Kevin Brown shows Dr. White is in error with his Greek grammar in this verse. He shows that 1Jn 5:10 has the same grammatical structure and yet no one would argue that the person first made God a liar and then didn't believe Him. Quoting from Kevin Brown's article:
"James linked to a video of John Piper explaining 1 John 5:1 from the Calvinistic perspective, but it was not convincing. I think that the meaning of 1 John 5:10 can be seen if paralleled with 1 John 5:1. 
1 Jn 5:1 reads “Everyone who believes (present participle) that Jesus is the Christ has been (perfect) born of God.” 
1 Jn 5:10 reads “Whoever does not believe (present participle) God has made(perfect) him a liar.” 
Those two verses share the same construction, yet obviously in 5:10 the making God a liar did not precede the not believing. Instead, making God to be a liar is the result of the unbelief. Likewise, in 5:1 the present participle takes precedence over the perfect verb, thus believing precedes regeneration."
Kevin Brown then argues, as I will also argue, that the Apostle John is not giving an order of events for how a person comes to Salvation. Apparently the article grabbed the attention of Dr. White early in 2010. He goes after the blogger in a video with a gusto. Claiming that the post is made anonymously. Dr. White says "That bothers me  because I can't see where the guy is coming from."  Why does "where he's coming from" matter? Is what he said true or isn't it? It took me but a moment to find the person's name, and just one moment longer to find out he agrees with Dr. White that regeneration precedes faith. Dr. White claims that Kevin Brown suggests that 1Jn 5:10 is parallel with 1Jn 5:1 and that it demonstrates that faith precedes regeneration. He laughs at the idea because as he says "...regeneration doesn't even appear in the verse." However, Mr. Brown doesn't argue either of those things in the article. He simply says that Dr. White is incorrect in his grammar and demonstrates it using another verse which has the exact same grammar. He claims to desire to interact with the author states "but the blog is fully anonymous as far as I can tell." Comments are present on the blog dated contemporaneously with the posting of Dr. White's video so he could have interacted by commenting had he desired to do so. One wonders if Mr. White read the article or if he was merely told about it.

Once he is done belittling the man whom he calls an "Anti-Reformed Textural Critic" he tries to salvage his grammatical argument by saying that because there is a "hoti clause" added to 1Jn 5:10 it changes how the grammar works... I'm not buying it. Why? Because I can't find a Greek Grammar that says the Participle works differently when there is a "hoti" later in the sentence. Someone give me a reason to if there is one...

Just like John 6, I content that 1Jn 5:1 isn't hard to understand until a Calvinist explains it to you... John simply says anyone who believes right now has in fact been born again. It is a statement of fact about a present reality, not an explanation of the order of events that lead up to that fact. He is not giving an "Ordo Salutis" which is just Reformed Theologian elitism for the order of salvation.

I was not completely comfortable with my understanding of how the Participle "believing" was operating in this verse. Kevin Brown, and several of those who commented on his article, presented a compelling argument. It seemed apparent that Dr. White was incorrect in his handling of the grammar, but I had to know for myself. So for the first time in this series I had to dig out reference material beyond a Bible, digital Greek manuscripts and a couple of Greek dictionaries. I had to get out a Greek Grammar and spend some serious effort re-learning how Participles work in Greek.

Here's what I found out about 1Jn 5:1, and it turns out you don't even have to use 1Jn 5:10 to show that Dr. White is wrong. I shared the controversy over Kevin Brown's post because frankly it demonstrates how single minded Dr. White is with regard to proving this doctrine which "must be." I am not relying on Mr. Brown's scholarship at all, and my criticism of TPF would stand firmly without it.

1Jn 5:1
"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him."
More literally "Whoever is believing right now that Jesus is the Christ has been, and is, born of God..."

"Believing right now" is in the Present Tense, Active Voice, Participle Mood. That is it is happening in the moment, the subject person is the one who is actually doing it, and it is a participle.

Accordingly (with it's tense and mood), it is contemporaneous to the controlling verb. It is "happening" in the moment of the verb. If the verb happened in the past then it was "happening" at the time of the verb in the past. If in the future then it will be "happening" at the time of the verb in the future. In our case, as we will momentarily see, the verb is something that happened in the past with a result that is currently true. The present tense participle in our case is most obviously contemporaneous to the verb as it applies in this sentence. The one believing right now is born again right now.

Daniel B. Wallace in his Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics page 625, #2:
"The Present participle is normally contemporaneous in time to the action of the main verb. This is especially so when it is related to a present tense main verb (often, in fact, it follows a present imperative as a participle of means). But this participle can be broadly antecedent to the time of the main verb, especially if it is articular (and thus adjectival; cf Mark 6:14; Eph 2:13). As well, the present participle is occasionally subsequent in a sense to the time of the main verb. This is so when the participle has a telic (purpose) or result flavor to it (cf. Eph 2:15). But as Robertson points out, "It is not strictly true that here the present participle means future or subsequent time. It is only that the purpose goes on coincident with the verb and beyond."
The present tense participle is only ever subsequent to (happens after) the main or controlling verb in a sense, never in actual time order of the events. In a sense the person in our case is believing after they were born again because they were born again in the past and they are believing right now. However, the grammar is not saying that the being born again happened prior to belief. It is an abuse of the context of John's words, but the closest possible interpretation to what Dr. White suggests is that these happened at the same moment. As we will discuss however, the context is not the order of events but the present reality of the result.

"Has been born again" is in the Perfect Tense, Passive Voice, Indicative Mood and it is the controlling verb. The meaning is that it has been accomplished, it was done too the person, and it is factual. It is something which has happened previous to the moment of the sentence.. John is talking about observing someone to see their present state, not indicating the order in which they came to that state.

Dr. White would like the verse to read something like "The one was born again in order that he would be believing now." But that is simply not how the language works. Wallace notes something that can lead to great abuse by a less than careful exegete in Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics on page 613:
"The context has more influence on participles than on any other area of Greek grammar. In other words, for most participles, one cannot simply look at the determine what kind of participle it is.  There will be some clues, however, and the student must master these if he/she is to see the genuine semantic possibilities a participle can have in a given context. One's exegetical skills get tested more with participles than with any other part of speech."
I didn't leave my study at this point however. I wanted to see if there was any possibility that John used a Purpose Participle or a Result Participle in this passage. Due to the complex nature of the Greek Participle it would be premature to discount Dr. White's theology just because he was unable to make a proper defense of it. It is reasonable to investigate any possibility of his being correct for the wrong reasons.

Wallace defines a Purpose (Telic) Participle on page 635:
"The participle of purpose indicates the purpose of the action of the finite verb..."
Given this definition and an understanding of how context works we can move on to confidently determine that the participle at hand is not a purpose participle. John is not explaining God's purpose in regenerating someone. John is talking about recognizing those who you can be sure are born again. That's the context. The context is not of "Ordus Salutis" but it is of determining those it is proper to have fellowship with. 

Wallace defines a Result Participle on page 637:
"The participle of result is used to indicate the actual outcome or result of the action of the main verb. It is similar to the participle of purpose in that it views the end of the action of the main verb, but it is dissimilar in that the participle of purpose also indicates or emphasizes intention or design, while the result emphasizes what the action of the main verbe actually accomplishes."
He explains the key to identification on page 638:
"The result participle will be a present tense participle and will follow (in word order) the main verb. The student should insert the phrase with the result of before the participle in translation in order to see if the participle under examination is indeed a result participle." 
Once again the context is determining fellowship, not explaining the "Ordus Salutis" and the word order also excludes the possibility that it is a Result Participle. It is therefore not a result participle. John is not explaining, nor would his original readers have understood, that the order of salvation is either like that which Dr. White espouses or otherwise for that matter.

Thus, John's grammar excludes the idea that he is stating that belief is the purpose of, result of, or happens after being born again. That Dr. White is incorrect about the grammar of 1Jn 5:1 doesn't mean that faith happens before regeneration; as I firmly believe. Ask Kevin Brown said in his article, it just means that 1Jn 5:1 doesn't say that it does.

On page 613 of his Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace writes:
"It is often said that mastery of the syntax of participles is mastery of Greek syntax.... In short the participle is difficult to master because it is so versatile. But this very versatility makes it capable of a rich variety of nuances, as well as a rich variety of abuses."
So, where CAN you find an "Ordo Salutis" or order of salvation? In passages like Jn 1:12, Jn 3:14-15 Re: Num 21:9, Jn 6:45, Rom 10:14-17, Eph 1:13, and Gal 3:2. Look then live, not live then look. Believe then receive the Spirit, not receive the Spirit then believe. Hear and then come, not be brought and then hear. Believe then be born again as a child of God, not be born again as a child of God then believe. And so on.. and so on...

In TPF Dr. White uses the example of 1Jn 2:29 to shore up his argument about 1Jn 5:1, and in his video response to Kevin Brown he adds the same argument about 1Jn 4:7.
"We do not practice righteousness so as to be born, but instead the birth gives rise to the practice of righteousness.... this means that in 1 John 5:1 the belief in Jesus as the Christ is the result of being born of Him. The verbal parallel is exact."
He notes that "the one practicing righteousness" is a present participle like believing in 1Jn 5:1.
"Therefore, sheer consistency leads one to the conclusion that divine birth precedes and is the grounds of both faith in Christ as well as good works."
Yet, "sheer consistency" doesn't drive him to say that 1Jn 5:10, which has the same grammatical structure as we discussed already, means that one makes God a liar so that he will not believe... But read the verses:

1Jn 2:29
If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
1Jn 4:7
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Read them and consider. If Dr. White is wrong about the grammar, which I have demonstrated he is, would that mean that these verses say that one is born again "because" we practice righteousness? Or because we love one another?

No, even though Dr. White is wrong about the grammar that doesn't mean that John is saying we practice righteousness to be born again. He is not talking about the order of events. That is not the context, it is not the teaching, it is not a shade of meaning under the Text... it simply is not in the grammar. If it were then John would obey the rules of the Greek Participle to put it there. One cannot rightly read their theology into the Text with complicated Greek manipulations just because they can't find a passage that actually says regeneration happens prior to faith.

It is the convicting and convincing of the Holy Spirit, that leads a person to believe the Gospel when it is preached to them, and that's what brings salvation. This brings us to the next verse Dr. White discusses.

Of Acts 16:14 Dr. White offers:
"It is no response to say that the opening of Lydia's heart was a mere "moving" of God upon her that in essence brought her to a moral neutral point, leaving the final decision to her."
Who is Dr. White arguing against? This is not what Dr. Geisler wrote about in CBF, and it is not at all what I would say of the passage. I don't know who would say what Dr. White intends to argue against. I'm sure it seems like an easy argument to defeat though.
"The obvious question is, why would God have to open her heart and to what end? The text tells us why He engaged in this supernatural action: so that Lydia would "respond" to the things spoken by Paul... But if saving faith in response to the preaching of the Gospel is the ability of every man and woman, why did God have to open Lydia's heart?... God had to take out that heart of stone and put in Lydia a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26) so that she would respond to the message of the Cross."
Let's read the verse:

Acts 16:14
Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
One might start by asking what does it mean when Luke writes that God "opened her heart." The word "opened" is the Greek word dianoigo. It means to open, or to divide, or to cause to understand. It does not mean to take out and replace. It actually matches the ministry of the Holy Spirit as detailed in John 16:5-11.

Next one may want to know why God "opened her heart". Dr. White says that it was so she would "respond" but the word here is the Greek word prosecho. It means to pay attention or heed. The point is not about her response but about her paying attention. This is the Holy Spirit convicting and convincing.

This historical event is a lot like the resurrection of Lazarus, it is dramatic and provides a loose framework that Calvinists can put their theology into. However, just like when you read about Lazarus the details of the story simply do not support the theology of Calvinism.

Dr. White then comments on 1Cor 1:26-31:
"God has cut out every ground of boasting by choosing to save in a way that confounds the wisdom of men." 
Dr. White doesn't define the "way that confounds" he referes to, but continues to talk about pre-faith regeneration as though that is what Paul is talking about. If one reads the entirety of Paul's discussion one finds that he isn't talking about God regenerating lost sinners so that they will believe and this confounding the world. No. Paul is talking about the preaching of the Gospel, the preaching of the Cross. It is that God has chosen to save through the foolishness of preaching the Cross that confounds the wisdom of the world. Not by wisdom of words but by a simple message. 1Cor 1:14-31

He brings out a point that is interesting but does not help his case:
"Notice the small phrase that is often overlooked: 'But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus..."
He brings up the agency of God, that is God's work that puts us in Christ. This is a rebuttal of yet another Straw-Man Argument... We are baptized into Christ after we believe. Rom 6:3-7, Gal 3:1-4, Gal 3:26-27, 1Cor 12:13, Eph 1:13-14. I don't know who says that it is by the effort, will, or work of man that we are "in Christ." Dr. Geisler does not. I do not. I know of no one who does. Yet it knocking the Straw-Man down can make it appear as though his case is strong.

Dr. White then comments on Gal 1:15-16:
"If anyone knew that the idea of 'free will' was a myth, it was paul. It was not free will that knocked Paul to the ground on the road to Damascus. It was not free will that blinded him. Paul was not 'seeking after God' nor the Savior, Jesus Christ on that day when God chose to reveal His Son to him. ....(Paul) preached a powerful grace, a grace that saves rebel sinners hard of heart, a grace that stops the elect in their tracks and changes them. He knew nothing of a grace that tries and tries, and fails and fails."
Two articles which may be helpful with this comment are When Was Paul Saved Anyway? and Bad Koolaid: Paul's Lordship Salvation Testimony. Once again, Dr. White resorts to a Straw-Man argument. Who says that God's grace "tries and tries, and fails and fails"? One might wonder if Dr. White is aware of just how weak his arguments are and has decided to go back to Straw-Man Arguments and Ad Hominem Attacks.

Finally he brings up Titus 3:5-6 but doesn't comment on the passage. Here we find Paul saying that we are saved "according to His mercy" not "according to His Unconditional Election." What is His mercy? I could suggest Jn 6:40 is His mercy. I could also note that Paul speaks of the "mercies of David" when preaching the Cross. Acts 13:32-41. Paul is talking about the reality of the resurrection here, but the "sure mercies of David" are explained in Isa 55:1-3. It is the same as Jn 6:40. His mercy is that He saves all who believe. Not that He regenerates them so they can believe.

Regeneration is absolutely required for one to be saved. We must be born again as the Lord explained in John 3. We do not need to be regenerated in order to believe however. Salvation is conditioned on faith some 150 times in the New Testament. Never once is faith conditioned on salvation, or on regeneration if that can be separated from salvation as some Calvinists protest.

I cannot make it to the end of Chapter 12 this week. So I'll get to the rest of it next week. What we've seen here is that these two doctrines: Irresistible Grace and Pre-Faith Regeneration that "must be" true because of Total Inability (which has already been proven to be false) are simply not to be found in the Scriptures.

Next time we'll take a 'quick' look at what Dr. White calls "some of the more obvious passages that teach" that saving faith is the gift of God. He promises to talk about other (less obvious?) verses in the next chapter. I have to warn everyone, I am just about beyond my ability to put up with shenanigans like what we saw with 1Jn 5:1.  I may just do a very high level response to Chapter 13 because otherwise I may never actually complete this series.

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