Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Debater's Potter - Part 21 - Conclusion

Welcome to the conclusion of the longest series of articles I've ever posted at OMW. The Debater's Potter series started out as something I could hardly imagine finishing, but here it is: THE FINISH LINE!

The Introduction to the series was posted on 11 June 2012, and as I'm typing these words it is currently 13 December 2012. I just about broke every rule of blogging in this series, but I've had encouraging feedback nonetheless. All who have sent, commented, or spoken, words of encouragement can know your words have been dear to me!

Before I get to funner stuff I want to summarize my thoughts about The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and The Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free by Dr. James R. White hereon to be referred to as TPF.

TPF is not a good book.

I want to first acknowledge that I'm a nobody. Not only do I not make videos of myself sitting in front of a library of books as Dr. White does, I don't have a library of books and have not read a library of books. I hold no degrees. I have limited formal Theological training, and none directly relating to the subjects at hand in this series. Other than the years of work I have put into the study of Salvation I am wholly unqualified to be able to answer Dr. White, let alone rebut this flagship work of his. It simply ought not be possible for me to do so. I didn't set out to rebut it, but in the end I think that is exactly what has been accomplished.

TPF is not a good book for at least these three reasons:

It offers a poor, incomplete and inaccurate defense of The Great Reformation. Instead of discussing the Reformation as a whole Dr. White focuses on one doctrine and makes it his very definition of the Reformation; that being Determinism. Not only that but Dr. White was incapable of finding a single passage in the Bible that spoke of God ordering His universe by Determinism. Instead we were treated to nearly endless discussions of how Arminians think that God bows to the will of man.

It offers a poor, inaccurate and wholly incomplete rebuttal of Dr. Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free(CBF). Instead of answering any arguments made in CBF, Dr. White knocks down straw man after straw man. He accuses CBF of being shallow and failing to interact with the multitude of Reformed material while at the same time failing to interact with any core argument, in the book he is attempting to rebut, at all. Here's a challenge for anyone who thinks this claim of mine is untrue. Purchase both books, study CBF, and then using quotes from ONLY TPF explain Dr. Geisler's view of Election accurately and completely. Then using quotes from ONLY TPF explain Dr. Geisler's views and challenges that he explains in his first two chapters, as I detailed in Part 7, and Dr. White's "rebuttal" of them.

Finally, TPF is not a good book because it only half-heartedly even attempts to accomplish either objective it had, fails miserably, and all the while comes off as the most haughty "christian" material I have ever observed.

So with that out of the way...

Highlights of the series for me.

The first, and I think only, time Dr. White actually "got" Dr. Geisler filled me with joy. Geisler had written that John Calvin didn't hold to Limited Atonement, and after agreeing that many scholars hold this view Dr. White provided a quote from Calvin that showed at least at some point Calvin did hold to a limited atonement view. I enjoyed that more than would seem reasonable.

Getting through John 6 verse by verse was definitely a highlight for me. Being able to accurately explain the opposing view and then explaining the chapter verse by verse in such a way that is both accurate to the Text, and in complete contrast to what the Calvinist says is the only other option - universalism.

Seeing Dr. White quote John Piper saying that if someone's theology cannot explain all of Hebrews 9 consistently that their theology must be discarded, and then noting that both men stop short of the end of that chapter where their theology is impeached by the Text, and being able to consistently hold to the same theology through the passage myself.

How much work was all of this?

Besides the background of study I have been spending 10-20 hours a week writing this series.

What's next? 

A growing number of people are interested in this series being adapted as a book.  There are several challenges that need to be overcome in order for that to happen. For sure the writing would have to have a huge change of tone. The series has been a near real time interaction with the book. I was reading ahead but not very far. There was a huge amount of pressure to get every point right as I went. I found myself not having time to recover from offense generated by the book. All of this lead to a lot of drama in the articles. That might work for blog posts but it would not work for a book.

One of the biggest challenges to adapt this to a book would be to strip out a lot of the more petty interactions. I wanted to show the personality of the writing so I included many of the silly side arguments that really were nothing more than personal attacks on Geisler. In book form I would acknowledge them and move on. Frankly, the first half of TPF could largely be discussed on a couple of pages of a book, and I doubt I would add more.

While this series has been a journey for me, that you all got to come along with, a book would have to bring the reader through their own journey. So it would have to be less about my reaction to the TPF, and more about letting the reader of my book react to it.

That's it folks! That's The Debater's Potter.

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