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Mar 01, 2010

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aaron

I think the behavior of both Caner and White has been pretty petty. Do you think your fascination with this and blog posting helps in this situation or just keeps prolonging it. Seems like Caner wants it to stop so why can you not leave it alone.

Darby Livingston

"Dr. David Allen, Dean of Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has sufficiently demonstrated that the particular Calvinism James White embraces and defends has far too many similarities to historic hyper-Calvinism to ignore."

Being similar to people doesn't make them the same and doesn't make them accountable for the errors of those they're similar to. This is precisely the argument that highly intelligent atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris use to declare orthodox Christians just as dangerous as radical Muslims.

Limiting Christ's atoning work in one way over another doesn't automatically make one a hyper-Calvinist with no desire to evangelize. It seems to me that this is an attempt at guilt by association to progress a political agenda.

For example, John Piper is a strong Calvinist, yet just as strongly passionate about evangelism. His doctrinal similarity to hyper-Calvinists doesn't mean he's the same as them any more than you sharing a belief in the Holy Spirit with a Charismatic makes you guilty of the excesses of some Charismatics.

Darby Livingston

p.s. Love the picture of the old church building with new cars out front. :)

eric opsahl

Why do you label White as a Hyper-Calvinist, when it is well documented that he is not. Isn’t there a consistent definition of what Hyper-Calvinism is? Or are you using a more loose definition? Hasn’t White has been very clear in speaking against Hyper-Calvinism? You have plenty of other “valid” objections to White (honest disagreements) why state something that has been proven a lie?
Eric

peter

Aaron,

Fair question. Thanks. Though I did mention the debacle in passing, the post was not attempting to perpetuate the Caner/White exchange. Admittedly, I quoted from and linked to last week's post.

Yet I only did the norm: when I quote from a source, whether mine or another, I give a reasonable portion of context with the quote and offer a reference citing (link or other when possible). And, so far as I can tell now, I intend to continue my normal practice.

Thanks again.

With that, I am...
Peter

eric opsahl

Mr. Lumpkins,

Thanks for your time. I am in the "reformed camp" (though we are all one in Christ). You wrote in part:"cannot be healthy for the Southern Baptist Convention". I curious, can you give a couple examples of why reformed thought is unhealthy for the SBC? For instance, I would argue that getting someone to "pray a prayer" for salvations leads to many false conversions and is unhealthy for SBC Churches. What does reformed doctrine lead to which is unhealthy?
Eric

peter

Darby, You write, "Being similar to people doesn't make them the same and doesn't make them accountable for the errors of those they're similar to." Thanks for the reminder about guilt by association. Couldn't agree more.

But how your statement reconciles with what I actually wrote, Darby, I cannot see. Here are my words: "...the particular Calvinism James White embraces and defends has far too many similarities to historic hyper-Calvinism to ignore." Hence, it’s just a tad more potent, would you not say, Darby, for me to write, “far too many similarities…to ignore” and your stated objection based upon “being similar to people”?

Now as for White’s hyper-Calvinism, I suggest you not only consider Allen’s J316C paper once again (or wait on a revised and lengthened paper in the book being released, Whosoever Will, see sidebar) but also check out Tony Bryne's site. Tony has done some solid research pertaining to hyper-Calvinism. With David Allen, Tony concludes White's theology misses the mark of confessional Calvinism and plunges to hyper-Calvinism. At least that’s what I hear him saying.

Eric,

Thanks for logging on.  And, yes, of course White denies it and does so, I suppose, because he screws the definition of hyper-Calvinism so tightly, his position gets conveniently squeezed out.  Take a look at Tony’s site I linked above.  Tony has some great articles on hyper-Calvinism, particularly engaging James White.

With that, I am…

Peter

peter

Eric,

I appreciate your question. Note I specifically connected the proposed 'unhealthiness' for the SBC to the 'Primitive = Reformed = James White' type of Calvinism.

I must disagree with you on you statement: "I would argue that getting someone to "pray a prayer" for salvations leads to many false conversions and is unhealthy for SBC Churches."

To my understanding, no prayer leads to a false conversion. If it is true prayer, it can only lead to something good, it seems to me. Anyways, true conversion cannot take place apart from the Holy Spirit's interaction in the process.

With that, I am...
Peter

Bob L. Ross

Peter,

I noticed that Eric evidently does not see why the current or modern "reformed" ordo poluttus is unhealthy for Baptists. I am a Calvinist and a Baptist, but not "reformed" and not a "reformed Baptist." I gave these reasons on the Calvinist Flyswatter blog awhile back:

(1) I was not "born again" in accord with "Reformed" teaching, for my new birth was (a) neither before I was born into this world (b) nor as an infant soon after my birth -- as taught by the mainline "Reformed" theologians - and I would not want anyone to think I held to that heresy. (2) As an adult, I was not "born again before faith," as taught by the mainline "Reformed" theologians.

(3) I understand the Bible to teach that the means of the Word is used by the Holy Spirit in regeneration -- which is denied by mainline "Reformed" theologians who teach that you must first be regenerated before you have faith. (See Shedd and Berkhof, for instance).

(4) I understand that the Confessions of faith are correct on the New Birth, and the mainline
"Reformed" theologians and their disciples are wrong.

(5) I believe the mainline "Reformed" camps appropriate the name of "Calvin" to their "Calvinism," when in fact they contradict John Calvin when they teach the "born again before faith" heresy.

I think those are five rather good reasons, Charles, for NOT being "Reformed."

Bob L. Ross

Peter,

About "hyper Calvinists," you would probably sooner find the needle in the haystack as to find a "Reformed" or "Calvinist" who would admit to hyper-Calvinism.

For example, although R. C. Sproul says he does not know when he was born again, nevertheless he ventures to say, Pedobaptist (Presbyterian) R. C. Sproul, a popular "Reformed" minister, has an item on the web in which he says, "It is possible that God gave me new life within the womb, and over time I came into a deeper understanding of the faith He gave me."
>http://www.ligonier.org/blog/how-and-when-did-you-get-saved/<

I wonder if that would qualify for "hyper Calvinism"? BTW, I recall reading James White's saying he was convinced by Sproul on "pre-faith regeneration." James has also preached for the Hardshell Baptists, and they are generally regarded as being hypers.

eric opsahl

Mr. Lumpkins,
Perhaps it’s a matter of poor semantics on my part when I write “"pray a prayer" for salvations leads to many false conversions”. I’m not against praying a prayer. We agree that all who come to repentance and faith In Christ will pray confess sin and ask for forgiveness. As a Baptist, we both know that the Church is filled with folks who have had false conversions. And as Baptist, we know that most probably “prayed a prayer”. I’m simply saying that I’d argue that there is a better way to “examine” a new convert to verify that he is in the faith, rather than simply praying a prayer. The main point of my comment would be that we Baptist need to do a better job of helping folks come to a true saving faith rather than a false conversion.
Eric

Darby Livingston

Peter,

So you are stating that White is a hyper-Calvinist by stating that the similarities are too many to ignore? Is that your point? It's not just that he's similar, but that he is? Because hyper-Calvinism is a theological category, with a person either being one or not.

I fear too many non-Calvinists take the term hyper-Calvinist to mean "really really Calvinist" when the term is one of definition rather than degree. That's where people get unfairly labeled.

Bob L. Ross

Peter,

Did you ever see my little Karoke song dedicated to James White and his "White Lightnin'" brew?

Here it is . . . hope you get a chuckle.

JAMES' EXE-GEETIN' SQUEEZINGS,
or, "WHITE LIIGHTNIN'"

Karaoke -- Tune of "White Lightnin'" by George Jones

Well in Phoneix Arizona, in his exe-geetin' mode,
James peck'd Pedo dogma in his 'puterized still,
He brewed White Lightnin' on the laptop's screen
Then he'd send it all over to whosoever will.

Mighty, mighty pleasin', James' exe-geetin';
Whshhhoooh . . . White lightnin'

Chorus:

Well the Hunt men, Caner men, Flyswatter, too --
Searchin' for blogs where James exe-geet'd his brew
They were looking, tryin to deck'm,
But James just kept a-peck'n --

Whshhhoooh . . . White lightnin'

--- Instrumental ---

Well Steve took note that James called his brew
"Monergism" 'stead of Pedobaptist dew
He read a few lines and right away he knew
As his lips curl'd a smile his eyes litup too.

Thoughts started flashin' and his keyboard started splashin'--

Shhhoooh . . . White lightnin'

Chorus:

Well the Hunt men, Caner men, Flyswatter, too
Searchin' for blogs where James exe-geet'd his brew
They were looking, tryin to deck'm,
But James just kept a-peck'n --

Whshhhoooh . . . White lightnin'

Well a Caner slicker came and he said "I'm tough"
I think I wanna trash James' awful stuff
He took one read'n and it knocked him right down
And I heard a moaning as he hit Liberty's ground --

Mighty, mighty pleasin', James' ex-geetin'
Whshhhoooh . . . White lightnin'

Chorus:
Well the Hunt men, Caner men, Flyswatter, too
Searchin' for the blogs where he ex-geet'd his brew
They were looking, tryin' to deck'm,
But James just kept a-peck'n --

Whshhhoooh . . . White lightnin'

Darby Livingston

Bob,

You're a much better painter than songwriter. :)

Tony

Hi Darby,

The reason why James White is being labeled a "hyper-Calvinist" is because he denies that God desires the salvation of all men in the revealed will, which is the same as denying the well-meant offer of the gospel. In fact, Iain Murray, in order to summarize his book on the subject, said this:

"The book is intended to show the momentous difference between evangelistic Calvinistic belief and that form of Calvinism which denies any desire on the part of God for the salvation of all men." Iain H. Murray, "John Gill and C. H. Spurgeon," Banner of Truth 386 (November 1995), 16.

This is why Peter, above, specified that White denies God's *salvific* love for all men. White doesn't deny that God loves the non-elect, or that God is gracious to the non-elect, but he denies that God has any interest in their eternal salvation. Even Dr. Robert Gonzales, dean of a Reformed Baptist Seminary, has rebuked White for his caricatures of orthodox Calvinism and has observed that White denies the well-meant offer of the gospel [see footnote #8].

So, White is *not* being accused of being a "hyper-Calvinist" for any of the following reasons:

1) He maintains that Christ only died for the sins of the elect.
2) He thinks regeneration is causally prior to faith.
3) Because some think he doesn't believe in evangelizing all men or preaching to all men.

Many Calvinists who are *not* hyper-Calvinists believe #1. Belief in strict particularism on the atonement does not of itself constitute hyper-Calvinism. Also, no one I know who has studied hyper-Calvinism has associated #2 with hyper-Calvinism. Proposition #2 [if distorted to mean that regeneration is chronologically prior to faith and apart from the means of the word] is usually associated with varities of Calvinistic antinomianism. Moreover, no one on the planet has thought that White does not agree with preaching to all men, or with the need to evangelize all men. Proposition #3 has only come up because White has deliberately and knowingly misconstrued the claim of Allen, as if Allen made the #3 accusation, and White has thereby confused others on the Internet. Allen made no such claim, fully knowing what Iain Murray has said here:

"If God has chosen an elect people, then, Hyper-Calvinism argued, he can have no desire for the salvation of any others and to speak as though he had, is to deny the particularity of grace. Of course, Hyper-Calvinists accepted that the gospel be preached to all, but they denied that such preaching was intended to demonstrate any love on the part of God for all, or any invitation to all to receive mercy."

The fundamental point is the free and well-meant offer of the gospel. White has scornfully denied the very basis for a well-meant offer, namely that God desires the salvation of all men, including the non-elect, in the revealed will. Recently, in White's exchange with Mike Brown, he said that God desires all men to repent, which is some degree of progress for White. But, as John Frame has said, "If God desires people to repent of sin, then certainly he desires them to be saved, for salvation is the fruit of such repentance." White has yet to see that necessary connection.

Some have sought to make God's salvific desire a secondary matter [such as Phil Johnson], but Iain Murray has complained about that in a review of David Silversides book, stating:

But can the divine love, that the author [Silversides] wants to uphold, be without desire for the highest good of those loved? To side-line the question of desire will not, we think, blunt the hyper-Calvinist's claim that a free-offer, expressive of love to all, attributes two wills to God – fulfilled in the case of the elect and unfulfilled in the case of all others. But that charge needs to be met (as the author to some extent does) on other grounds. We do not think that Scripture allows us to make the question of God's desire secondary."

Iain Murray, in response to the Protestant Reformed Church variety of hyper-Calvinism maintained by David Engelsma, said that "The critical issure here, of course, is not the mere use of the term 'offer', but whether the offer of the gospel is an expression of God's desire that it should be received by sinners." See Banner of Truth 307 (December, 1995), 24-25. Iain Murray is in complete agreement with John Murray when the latter said, "the real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men."

Although White frequently says "read my books" in response to these charges, there is absolutely nothing in his books that address the topic of the free/well-meant offer, only his continual eisegetical undermining of God's universal saving desire when it comes to the interpretation of every controversial passage, even Ezek 18 & 33 [which Ascol grants, along with Matt. 23:37]. It is an obvious fact to every objective listener that White and Ascol are *not* on the same page with respect to God's revealed desire to save the non-elect. Ascol has said:

"I believe that God desires for all people to be saved but has purposed to save His elect. I see two (at least two) dimensions in God's will: revealed and decretive. Failure to make this kind of distinction is a failure to read the Bible's teachings on the will of God accurately."

Ascol is on the same page with Iain Murray and John Murray in the above statement regarding God's universal saving desire. White, however, agrees with John Gill and Robert Reymond in *denying* that "God desires for all people to be saved."

These are the facts and they have **not** been dealt with, either by White, Ascol or Phil Johnson.

Darby Livingston

Tony,

Thanks for the in depth explanation. All clear now.

Peter,

If Tony's analysis is the same as yours, I understand your point.

Jonathan Dupree

With the name of God, Peace be unto you.

Something I find amazing and sad at the same time is someone like Bob Ross whom writes a post with 5 very excellent points and no one wishes to interact with them. No one from the White camp atleast.

This is a blog post, and Peter is the moderator. He allows us to interact with one another. Peter's task when making a blog post is to get feed back, respond appropriately, and to allow the bloggers to interact with each other in the comments section. Of course until he ends comments, or intervenes where necessary.

So the people who assail Peter and ask what do you mean he (James White) is a hyper calvinist? These people should take a good look at that man called Bob Ross who is over there standing on a mountain waving his hand saying, "Me, me me" waiting for someone to interact with his comments.

I also find it very inconsistent for a person to call themselves reformed and to follow Calvin in everything oh "except paedobaptism". I wonder on what consistent basis does someone accept some of his doctrine and reject others? Because the Holy Spirit guides into 'all truth'. What would Calvin think about the salvation of a person who denied that?

I think these issues are serious, and I think it would be healthy for a Ross White debate to take place. I think it would be healthy for the SBC for it to happen. I think it would help to keep people grounded.

I am wondering if Peter is willing to put a petition for a Ross White debate on his blog some time in the future.


bossmanham

Peter,

I was informed by a White-ite (as I am now going to call them) that there are several of them who "have google alerts set for certain tagwords" to monitor the talk about Mr. White on the internet, just so you know. I'm sure you already figured that, but it amused me a little.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog and thanks for your comment on my blog.

eric opsahl

Bossmanham,
Regarding your latest post. With respect, I’d ask you why you seem to hate White so much. Please don’t get defensive with my question (I know the question could tend to back you against the wall). The reason I’m responding and reading this post is my interest in understanding why you and others seem to have such a vial offense to reformed teaching. After all, We reformed folks are in the Body of Christ, it’s not as if we are a wolf in sheep’s clothing looking to devour the flock. Or would you say that I’m a heretic for being Reformed? Why bring up the fact (seemingly in a hateful way) that some friends of White are interested in what’s said on blogs? When the Caner/White debate was going on, I goggled the net to find out what was being said. I can understand why some of Mr. Lumpkin’s friends would be interested in knowing what’s being said about him on the Net. Perhaps I’m missing the point you were trying to make.
Eric

and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,

David Hewitt

Eric:
The spirit of your comments is appreciated, at least by me, and I suspect by most here too (at least I hope so). I have made comments to the effect of what you have said here in my most recent blog article (which I think can be reached by clicking the link associated with my name in this comment).

Tony:
It is good to see you again, my brother. For far too long I have been out of the blogosphere, mostly due to my wasting of time in unproductive things. I thank God that He has delivered me from them. Though I do not always agree with you, Tony, your posts and comments have always had an eloquence about them that many things said in the internet seem to lack.

Alas, I must say, the reason for my comment is that I do not agree with your assessment of something you said. I shall quote it here:

Tony said:
"The fundamental point is the free and well-meant offer of the gospel. White has scornfully denied the very basis for a well-meant offer, namely that God desires the salvation of all men, including the non-elect, in the revealed will. Recently, in White's exchange with Mike Brown, he said that God desires all men to repent, which is some degree of progress for White. But, as John Frame has said, "If God desires people to repent of sin, then certainly he desires them to be saved, for salvation is the fruit of such repentance." White has yet to see that necessary connection. "

I've listened to many a Dividing Line from Dr. White in addition to reading nearly every blog article he's put out in the last year or so. I have heard him "scornfully deny" the idea that God cannot differentiate in His love, which would make God less able than people to do so. White has further argued against the idea that God is actively working to save even the non-elect, and that God's plans are getting frustrated by them.

You mentioned that in the radio debate he had with Michael Brown that White indicated that he believed that God wanted everyone to come to repentance. I assure you, this is nothing new. More than two years ago, I think in relation to something I read that you wrote (forgive me; I cannot remember exactly what is was; far too much time has passed), I addressed the issue with him. He readily affirmed that yes, he believed that God desired all men to be saved with regard to the fact that God commands faith and repentance indiscriminately. He believed that such a statement wouldn't be enough for many of his critics, but did indeed affirm it, saying also, "That would be like saying that God wants all drunks to stop being drunks," which he of course also affirmed. Such is just the reality of God's moral will/will of command, which all Reformed will readily affirm.

In fact, as I was writing this, I entered Dr. White's chat channel and addressed this with him again. While he did mention that He didn't believe that God would decree His eternal unhappiness with regard to a kind of saving desire for the non-elect (which I would also affirm), he did affirm everything that I've said in here. So, while he does make a distinction between the kind of desire in God, He does affirm that as a result of the desire for men to be obedient to repent, there is the same kind of desire for the salvation of the non elect.

His concern though in your (and others) bringing this up is this:

James White said,
"Tony will not allow such distinctions. He and his folks insist upon the same kind of error that the Arminians make: equal ultimacy. That is, they insist that God's desire for the salvation of those He does not choose to save must be of the same kind as His desire for the salvation for His elect."

Is this the case with you sir? White certainly thinks so.

In Christ,
David B. Hewitt

Dan

Q: 'Isn't "Reformed" Baptist Just a Modern Rendition of "Primitive" Baptist?'

A: No. Show me one Reformed person in the SBC who teaches that we should not do evangelism and missions.

peter

Eric,

I appreciate your attempt to engage in a positive manner. Thank you. I do fail to see precisely how bossmanham's small contribution--specifically his note about google--can be interpreted as a 'hateful way.' For me, while his words may constitute unnecessary information, surely only open bleeding sores could interpret such as 'hateful' information or brought up in a 'hateful' way.

Now, as for your question about the 'Reformed' being hated so much, you write:

"why you and others seem to have such a vial offense to reformed teaching. After all, We reformed folks are in the Body of Christ, it’s not as if we are a wolf in sheep’s clothing looking to devour the flock."

First, most of us hold no "vial offense to reformed teaching" overall. While some fundamental ideas of 'reformed' perhaps reach the offensive (e.g. reprobation)--at least to me, I have never suggested all 'reformed' ideas are offensive.

Interestingly, if you read Mr. Ross and/or got to know him, you'd be surprised how 'reformed' (better word is Calvinistic) he is. The same goes for Tony Byrne who commented above. He wears the "Calvinist" brand gladly. Of course, both men are 'marked' by Founders. Why? Well, they happen not to be the right kind of Calvinist.

Again, this rigid, non-negotiable Calvinism spurns those who proudly wear their theological brand. Apparently, it's a 'copycat' label, however. Sorta like 'copycat' colognes one will find which are supposed to "smell like" the original designer scent but are surely not the original scent.

Second, my site has, for four years, attempted to be an internet voice for non-Calvinists in the SBC. As I've often noted, in 2006, Baptist blogging was dominated by rigid, aggressive Calvinists. Hardly any voice--at least in the well known blogging community--attempted to offer a non-Calvinist perspective. Hence, this site represents, in some small way, that voice.

Third, since 1982, Founders Ministries has envisioned a reformation within the SBC--a church by church reformation--brought about by promoting the 5 points of Calvinism (DoG) which is the 'lost gospel' they have for years lamented as absent in the SBC. Untold churches--good churches--in Georgia alone have been pillaged by their 'quiet' reformation.

In that light, Eric, to suggest, as do you, that it is somehow the non-Calvinist who is bent on ridding the Body of Christ of 'heresy' is completely topsy turvey. Non-Calvinists neither started this feud nor do they want this feud--at least in my case.

However, as long as Founders continues to envision a Southern Baptist Convention as 'recovering the lost gospel'--code for recovering the five points of Calvinism as the official doctrinal position--there will be no peace. At least a few of us are unwilling walk away and allow rigid, aggressive 5 point Calvinism to swallow up the SBC.

I hope this assists in understanding why some of us will not--indeed cannot--remain silent.

With that, I am...
Peter

Bob L. Ross

To Jonathan from Bob Ross:

You need not expect a Ross-White debate. See this link:

http://calvinistflyswatter.blogspot.com/2008/05/avoid-man-james-exhorts.html

I have had several public debates, primarily with the "Campbellites" (Church of Christ) on issues between Baptists and the Church of Christ on which I have been challenged to debate. (i)I have NEVER engaged in a debate in which I was the "challenger" or "instigator," as I do not seek debates. You can get videos of other debates by contacting my good friend, Larry Wessels, at this email:
lawessels@sbcglobal.net

Larry Wessels has charge of all of my debate videos. He has many other videos in which I participated on both Google video and Yahoo video. Enter "Larry Wessels" in the search box for references to these videos.

Jeremiah Davies

Could I pose a question as to what points of 'Calvinism' you disagree with Peter?


JD

Tony

Hi David H.,

Just to let you know, I have seen and read your post. I will try to respond asap, but I have to put together some links and source information for the response. Stay tuned :-)

David Hewitt


Tony:
What kind of quotes are you talking about? If they are from other theologians, I'm not sure how that will further the conversation. If they are from Dr. White, perhaps an explanation can be obtained (read: if I don't know, I'll try to ask him and if he chooses to address it, I'll come back with an answer).

Peter:
My apologies for not addressing you in my previous comments. This is, as you have rightly noted, your house, and how rude for someone such as myself to waltz in without greeting you (at at the very least, could be taken that way).

So, in that spirit, hello sir. :)

david hewitt

Tony

Part 1

Hi David,
It's good to see you again as well, and thanks for the compliments. If you've been away from the blogosphere then there may be several significant exchanges that you have missed, thus limiting your perception of the facts.

You said:

"I've listened to many a Dividing Line from Dr. White in addition to reading nearly every blog article he's put out in the last year or so. I have heard him "scornfully deny" the idea that God cannot differentiate in His love, which would make God less able than people to do so. White has further argued against the idea that God is actively working to save even the non-elect, and that God's plans are getting frustrated by them."

Me now:
Given that you've been away "for far too long," perhaps you missed the Dividing Line broadcast where he explicitly and scornfully denied that there is any sense in which God desires the salvation of all men. He hasn't merely rejected Arminian notions of God's love and Arminian notions of God's will, but he has even denied the orthodox Calvinistic position as articulated by John Murray and others, preferring rather to side with John Gill and Robert Reymond. His phone call with Jason from the UK can be heard and read here:

http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2008/04/james-whites-denial-of-gods-universal.html

It is essential that you listen to that phone call, as I will not cite the contents of it here.
You may also want to read my analysis of his exchange with Steve Gregg here, since he dodged the specific question put to him:

http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-analysis-of-greggwhite-exchange-on.html

After White eventually discovered Robert Reymond's position as cited on my blog [click], he came out in agreement with Reymond, hoping he could shelter himself from the charge of hyperism and give his view credibility that way. White said on his own blog [click] that he was "thankful Phil can put up with my [White's] slightly "stiffer" form of Calvinism. I would be more on the Reymond side than the Murray side, for example, and I am for a pretty obvious reason, I hope."

Well, either one is or one is not on the side of Reymond, who clearly rejects John Murray's [and the early John Gerstner's] view of God desiring the salvation of all men. Saying one is "more on the Reymond side" is like one pregnant woman telling a non-pregnant woman that she is "more pregnant" than the other. There is obviously no middle ground. If one sides with Reymond, they are siding with his explicit rejection of the concept that God desires the salvation of any of the reprobate. Period.

One of White's avid listeners has understood White's position quite clearly when he wrote:

"The idea that God desires, wills the salvation of everyone makes God Schizophrenic, and I have said this many times. This is the reason Dr White responds as he does, about God having these unfulfilled desires and disappointments etc. Dr White is spot on, and just because Byrne and others wish to embrace irrationality, does not change the argument at all. Call it paradox if you wish and celebrate that kind of thinking, but I do not wish to go down that slippery slope, and for good reasons."

You're asking us, David, to trust your hearsay testimony about what White believes without giving any single source, but here is another quote from a guy who is at least listening to White as much as you are, yet his hearsay testimony differs significantly from yours. Since I am not inclined to rely on hearsay testimony alone in these matters, I want to see documentable sources. If White believes what you say he believes and is not ashamed to admit it, he can say so publicly, in writing, on a blog or elsewhere. Until then, I will rely on what he explicitly said to Jason by phone and his own claim that he sides with Reymond.

Tony

Part 2

You said:

"You mentioned that in the radio debate he had with Michael Brown that White indicated that he believed that God wanted everyone to come to repentance. I assure you, this is nothing new. More than two years ago, I think in relation to something I read that you wrote (forgive me; I cannot remember exactly what is was; far too much time has passed), I addressed the issue with him. He readily affirmed that yes, he believed that God desired all men to be saved with regard to the fact that God commands faith and repentance indiscriminately."

Me now:
Here's the problem. You don't have any source for this. Anecdotal evidence is not sufficient here, since White is on record on his blog siding with Robert Reymond [and John Gill] as over against John Murray, etc. He is also clearly on record with his phone call with Jason, wherein he explicitly denied that God desires the salvation of all men. So, while you can "assure us" of what he believes out of your private conversations in a chat room, we need actual evidence and sources, especially since he has been publicly busy undermining every single scriptural basis that Calvinists have historically used to maintain God's universal saving will.

You said:

"He believed that such a statement wouldn't be enough for many of his critics, but did indeed affirm it, saying also, "That would be like saying that God wants all drunks to stop being drunks," which he of course also affirmed. Such is just the reality of God's moral will/will of command, which all Reformed will readily affirm."

Me now:
He has had every opportunity to clarify his beliefs, long before the John 3:16 Conference. If it is true that White believes that God desires compliance to his commandments, and thus it can be said that God desires for all men to repent, believe *and to be saved*, then that is very easy to affirm publicly. Tom Ascol had no problem at all answering the question when it was put to him by me. He simply said that God desires all men to be saved according to the revealed will, but has only purposed to save the elect according to the decretal will. That's standard Calvinism, but White has not said that anywhere publicly, even when given every opportunity. On the contrary, he has heaped scorn that position as incoherent. Listen to the phone call with Jason, again, if necessary. He and Rich even laugh at the idea at the end of the call.

You said:

"In fact, as I was writing this, I entered Dr. White's chat channel and addressed this with him again. While he did mention that He didn't believe that God would decree His eternal unhappiness with regard to a kind of saving desire for the non-elect (which I would also affirm), he did affirm everything that I've said in here."

Me now:

If you have White on record affirming that God desires the salvation of all men [including the reprobate that hear the gospel] according to the revealed will as orthodox Calvinists have historically maintained, then document it, or ask him to document it, which he could easily do. There's no need to go in with caricutures, as if anyone believes that God has decreed His own eternal unhappiness. This is the sort of caricuture that Dr. Robert Gonzales, dean at Reformed Baptist Seminary, is complaining about when he criticized White's post on "Of Squeamish Calvinists and Hyper-Arminians", etc. [click] Observe what Dr. Gonzales says about White in footnote #8:

"Most Calvinists who affirm the “free” and “well-meant” offer of the gospel do so because of their allegiance to Scripture and not from a cowardly desire to please men. For this reason, I was disappointed to read James White’s caricature of such Calvinists like myself (and those referenced above) in a post entitled “Of Squeamish Calvinists and Hyper-Arminians” (March 18, 2009); accessed May 30, 2009 at http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3197; Internet. Ironically, White is reacting to Calvinists who view his rejection of God’s well-meant offer of the gospel as “hyper-Calvinist,” which he views as a kind of ad hominen [sic] argument. But exchanging ad hominen [sic] for ad hominen [sic] is not normally Dr. White’s debate methodology."

***Notice that Gonzales links to my blog [i.e. Theological Meditations] and to my friend David Ponter's Calvin and Calvinism blog in the same footnote in order to point people to a sound, orthodox understanding of what past Calvinists have said about God's universal saving will. This will be important later on.***

There are several things to note in what Gonzales says above: 1) He knows that "most Calvinists" have affirmed the well-meant offer. 2) He says that White caricatures Calvinists [like himself] on the subject. 3) He infers that White rejects the well-meant offer of the gospel. 4) He says that White is committing ad hominems in response to what White considers to be ad hominems. The third point is the most crucial. Dr. Gonzales knows that rejecting God's universal saving desire and rejecting the well-meant offer are one and the same thing, since a well-meant offer necessarily presupposes a desire on the part of the offerer to give what is offered. Otherwise the offer is not sincere or well-meant. Consequently, he draws the necessary inference that White rejects the well-meant offer, and I would add: like Robert Reymond obviously does.

Nota Bene: If I am misunderstanding White's position, then so is Dr. Robert Gonzales. Will you or will you not pay attention to this very significant fact???

You said:

"So, while he does make a distinction between the kind of desire in God, He does affirm that as a result of the desire for men to be obedient to repent, there is the same kind of desire for the salvation of the non elect."

Me now:
Have him affirm that publicly [in writing], instead of quietly in his chat channel. In fact, he could easily come here on this blog or another blog and affirm the fact that God desires the salvation of all men, even of the non-elect, according to the revealed will. He has never done that in writing anywhere, but has in fact denied it in his phone call with Jason, in addition to constantly undermining its biblical basis. If he does believe what you're reporting, then is it something merely theoretical? What passages teach that God desires the salvation of all men, in his view? It can't be Ezekiel 18 or 33. He's undermined what Calvinists have said about those passages as a basis for God's universal saving will. It can't be 1 Tim. 2:4. He's undermined what Calvinists have said about that passage as a basis for God's universal saving will. It can't be 2 Pet. 3:9. He's undermined what Calvinists have said about that passage as a basis for God's universal saving will. It can't be Matt. 23:37. He's undermined what Calvinists have said about that passage as a basis for God's universal saving will. It can't be John 5:34 [which Sam Waldron grants]. Everywhere one turns biblically, White has undermined what Calvinists have said about any passage as a basis for God's universal saving will. That's a fact, and you don't seem alarmed by that in the least. I am.

To be continued...

Tony

Part 3 [The Last Part]

You said:

"His concern though in your (and others) bringing this up is this:

James White said,

"Tony will not allow such distinctions. He and his folks insist upon the same kind of error that the Arminians make: equal ultimacy. That is, they insist that God's desire for the salvation of those He does not choose to save must be of the same kind as His desire for the salvation for His elect."

Is this the case with you sir? White certainly thinks so."

Me now:
Frankly, I am surprised that you are even asking me this, David, since you have interacted with me several times on my own blog. In fact, my blog has such a mountain range of quotes by Calvinists on the subject of God's will, with all the careful qualifications, that some have commented and called it the single best Calvinistic resource on the web for the well-meant offer. Of course it is NOT the case, and White KNOWS it.

1) First of all, where is White's proof that "Tony will not allow such distinctions"? Where is a single bit of proof that "Tony and his folks insist upon the same kind of error that the Arminians make: equal ultimacy"? Ask him for sources. Don't just accept this slander as true because he says it. White and the legion of sychophants he surrounds himself with will never give you a source to prove what he says here.

2) Secondly, I have claimed to be a Calvinist, not an Arminian. There is no such thing in church history as a self-described Calvinist who maintains that God EQUALLY desires the salvation of all men. It's a non-entity. That animal doesn't even exist, so White's claim should have even stunned you. Many of my staunchest opponents, especially those of the Protestant Reformed Church variety, are busy labeling me as an "Amyraldian," a "neo-Amyraldian," and a "quasi-Amyraldian." One knuckle-dragging buffoon on the Internet even called me a "pseudo-Amyraldian." Not even God knows what that means! LOL Anyway, even Amyraut's own opponents in his day did not claim that he believed God EQUALLY desires the salvation of all men, elect and non-elect alike, with "equal ultimacy," etc. So, if I am an "Amyraldian," as is so frequently and falsely reported by some of White's self-described "minions," then White's claim would still not be sensible.

3) White has read [and blogged about] my conference chart that was distributed to over 800 people at the John 3:16 Conference, and then to many more over the Internet because of "live bloggers." This chart, which can be obtained here [click], very clearly distinguishes between the Arminian belief that God EQUALLY wills the salvation of everyone as over against moderate/classical and High Calvinism. The latter positions maintain that God wills the salvation of all men but especially the elect. We [me and my fellow Calvinists] have always been in full agreement with Zacharias Ursinus, who said that "God does indeed will that all should be saved, and that, both on account of the desire which he has for the salvation of all, and also because he invites all to seek salvation. “But the election hath obtained it, (this salvation) and the rest were blinded.” (Rom. 11:7.) Z. Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 21, Q 54, S 6, p., 292. Nota Bene: At every point, we're specifying God's "revealed will," so as to distinguish that from God's "decretal will" as Calvinistically understood. These careful qualifications are in every one of our discussions with other Calvinists.

4) Check my blog and the Calvin and Calvinism blog. Not only will you not find what White says, but you will find the greatest and most exhaustive sources on the will of God from a Calvinistic perspective in the blogosphere. Our sources are now encyclopedic, and they are still coming. I have hundreds of posts on the will of God alone, from the earliest Reformed theologians to the most recent. White is obviously attempting to discredit me with this slanderous accusation, and you're asking it as if there might be some element of truth to it, rather than saying, "That really isn't the case with you, Tony, is it?" I find White's accusation outrageous and ignorant, to say the least.

5) Lastly, recall again what I said above. Dr. Robert Gonzales, dean at Reformed Baptist Seminary, links to my blog in his post as a credible place to read about the will of God and the well-meant offer from a Calvinistic perspective, but White would have you think that I am virtually an Arminian on the subject. Not only does he say that I "do not allow" for careful Calvinistic distinctions, but that I "insist upon the same kind of error that the Arminians make." If that describes me, David, then Dr. Gonzales must seriously lack discernment for linking to such a theological buffoon as I am.

Think about it, David. This is a clear case of slander and a clear attempt to discredit me without any evidence on White's part, and in spite of overwhelming contrary evidence at that. That's all. If you believe what White is saying, then you would have to think I am "eloquently" ignorant, contrary to the obvious facts that you can see in the blogosphere, i.e. that I am quite fluent and knowledgeable in Calvinistic primary sources.

Grace to you,
Tony

peter

Jeremiah

It's unlikely you'd be pleased by my answer. Hence, allow me to simply state, pertaining to my own understanding of biblical redemption, I do not need the five points of Calvinism as a reference point by which to speak of salvation from sin. Nor does the biblical record need the 16-17th century scholastic template imposed upon it to reveal precisely how one is saved and ultimately delivered.

With that, I am...
Peter

Jeremiah Davies

Peter,
Honestly, it isn't about pleasing me. I do not claim to be Calvinist but understand the points. I am simply curious as to where you stand.

"Nor does the biblical record need the 16-17th century scholastic template imposed upon it to reveal precisely how one is saved and ultimately delivered." Agreed (don't tell anyone).

J.D.

peter

J.D.

I understand. Then, I'm content to leave it as is. Have a great day.

With that, I am...
Peter

David Hewitt

Tony:
There were reasons I posted what I did; be not dismayed and shocked. :) However, I can't take the time to make comments much at the moment; I will point Dr. White over here, and might make another comment myself - that is, if Peter is agreeable to us continuing to take over his comments section.

BTW -- I suspected that Dr. White's comment that I quoted was less than accurate -- but I do not think for a moment that he was intending to slander you. He really believed what he was saying. "How" you might ask -- given the documentation, the interaction, etc?

Well, I might suggest the same way that so many have continued to fail to give him the benefit of the doubt when discussing God's desire and will. But, well, such won't be resolved in my few words at the moment. I need to get some rest; off work due to being sick today, and anything more I might say may well border on the incoherent.

That and Peter hasn't told me to continue. :)

Dave

Tony

David said:

"BTW -- I suspected that Dr. White's comment that I quoted was less than accurate -- but I do not think for a moment that he was intending to slander you."

Me now:
Well, he did in fact slander me. As you report, he wasn't merely wondering about what I believe, as if he was confused. He didn't say "Tony might not allow such distinctions," but rather "Tony will not allow such distinctions." He flat out said "Tony and his folks insist upon the same kind of error that the Arminians make..." Since White prides himself in reading what people have to say before he opposes them, he clearly has not done that in my case. This exchange is nothing new. He has seen my careful qualifications on Phil Johnson's blog in the comment section and elsewhere, even on Tom Ascol's blog. He knows that I am a Calvinist.

David said:

"He really believed what he was saying."

Me now:
I don't believe that. The evidence and background of our discussions [which you are not aware of] is far too overwhelming. Even his sycophantic surrogate "Turretinfan" should know what we believe, as we have sought to correct his slanderous comments as well on other blogs. They all know what we Calvinists believe on the will of God. They just don't want to admit that we are right, so they feign confusion.

David said:

"How" you might ask -- given the documentation, the interaction, etc?

Well, I might suggest the same way that so many have continued to fail to give him the benefit of the doubt when discussing God's desire and will."

Me now:
"Benefit of the doubt"? What's to doubt about Robert Reymond and John Gill's position, with which White explicitly said he agreed with, as over against John Murray's position? There is no doubt. What's to doubt about what he very clearly and explicitly said to Jason from the UK? There is no doubt about what he said. What's to doubt about his scornful depiction of "Squeamish Calvinists" who make God decree His own eternal disappointment, etc.? There is no doubt. Dr. Gonzales could see it, hence his rebuke of White's "caricatures." What's to doubt about his continual rejection of every passage Calvinists use to sustain God's universal saving will? There is absolutely no doubt about that fact. What you call "benefit of the doubt" sounds like naïveté to me. One would have to fly in the face of the overwhelming contrary evidence and be suffering from blind sycophantic loyalty in order to give White the "benefit of the doubt" on this subject.

I meant to also add above that Mike Brown asked White the same question as Steve Gregg, Jason and others have asked him; namely if there is any sense at all in his view that God desires the salvation of all men. He dodged the question, again, as usual. Someone in the John Murray, Robert Gonzales and Tom Ascol position could easily say "yes" in a qualified way to the question, affirming that with respect to the revealed will, there is a sense in which God does desire all men to keep his commandments to repent and believe ***and thus to be saved.*** Just because Mike Brown is asking the question from the standpoint of an "equal ultimacy" paradigm doesn't mean we have to evade answering that there is an aspect of God's will wherein he desires all men, including the reprobate, to be saved through obedience to the gospel. It's as easy as saying in a qualified way that there is a sense in which God loves all mankind, albeit *not equally*. In his interaction with Brown, White failed to give an answer and/or an explicit affirmation that he believes what you say he believes. This is nothing new.

If you wish to invite White's attention to these comments, then here are some questions you can ask him:

1) Do you retract your statement that you agree with Robert Reymond's rejection of God's universal saving will?

2) If you are "more on the side of Reymond" than John Murray, then what aspect of Murray's position on the will of God do you think is true?

3) Do you retract what you said in your phone call with Jason?

4) Do you believe that God in fact desires the salvation of all men according to the revealed will?

5) If this is something you do in fact believe, then why not say so in a qualified way in your debates? Why not take the opportunity to say so in writing?

6) If you do in fact believe that God desires the salvation of all men, then where is your biblical support for this? What biblical passages teach that God in fact desires the salvation of any reprobate individual? If you want to be known as an "exegeeter," then support this claim exegetically, especially since you have undermined *every passage* that Calvinists have used historically to sustain this belief.

*7) If it is true that God desires all men to repent and believe as you said to Mike Brown, is this an unfulfilled desire in the case of the non-elect?

8) Do you retract that statement that Tony "will not allow" for careful distinctions and retract the statement that "he and his folks insist upon the same kind of error that the Arminians make: equal ultimacy"? Do you now see this as false? Will you apologize for making these erroneous claims about Tony to David Hewitt and others?

David,

I know that you are now a Reformed Baptist. I would encourage you to learn about Calvinism and associate with Robert Gonzales and Sam Waldron, not James White. White is significantly confused and he does not represent mainstream historic Calvinism. Gonzales and Waldron are like Murray and the Banner of Truth crowd. Associate with them instead, theologically and otherwise.

Grace to you,
Tony

David Hewitt

Tony:
Will you allow the possibility that you have been mistaken about White and possibly Reymond as well? I have not read Gill on the subject, so I cannot comment on him.

Here is the thing: If you are unwilling to allow for that, then there isn't even any point in bringing any of this to Dr. White's attention. I've heard from you both and it is evident (at least to me) that you are talking past each other. You both claim to understand the other's position, and both claim that the other's position (the one understood) is wrong. The thing is, having read you here (and elsewhere) and having interacted directly with Dr. White in asking him to clarify, the positions you two are ascribing to each other are, in fact, not the positions you hold.

I consider myself a reconciler. I do not like it when brothers are at odds with each other in general, but really do not like it when the issue is one of misunderstanding, which I truly believe this is.

I shall mention this to Dr. White, and I may have further comments. I'll take it by Peter's lack of objection, that he doesn't mind us continuing here. :)

SDG,
dave hewitt

Tony

Hi David,

You asked me:

"Will you allow the possibility that you have been mistaken about White and possibly Reymond as well? I have not read Gill on the subject, so I cannot comment on him. Here is the thing: If you are unwilling to allow for that, then there isn't even any point in bringing any of this to Dr. White's attention."

Of course it is possible, but possibility does not equal plausibility. Just because it is possible that I have misunderstood him, that doesn't make it likely. As you may recall, White himself has distinguished between possibility and plausibility in his debates and interactions with Bart Ehrman and others on textual matters. If you are merely asking me if it is "possible" that I have been mistaken, then my answer is "yes." But if you're asking me if it is plausible or likely that I have been mistaken, then my answer is "no, I don't think so." Why?

I have given you a list of facts and links to investigate this matter in order to sustain my case. So far you only have only given hearsay testimony [that contradicts the other hearsay testimony I supplied to you above] of something that was said to you in a chat room. You don't have any links at all to his blog or quotes from his books to even begin to discredit my case. I know you said you were sick [and I hope you're feeling better] so you may not have had time to listen to the clear phone call White had with Jason. Even Jason, one persuaded of Calvinism by White, came away from the call knowing what James believed, and thus asked him if he thought his view was a minority view within the Reformed tradition. White explicitly said the following in the phone call with Jason:

"...I feel like we're being forced to somehow attribute to God some kind (for some reason)...some kind of an attitude or desire that I just never see, not only do I never see expressed, but it would likewise force us to say that God has an unfulfilled desire, but it's not really the same desire as he chooses to fulfill with other people. And we're left not only--you're not only left with the two-wills conundrum, now you've got multiple desires conundrums, which I don't, I just don't see a reason for it."

Notice what he is explicitly repudiating here, i.e. the view that God has "some kind of an attitude or desire" that is "not really the same desire as he chooses to fulfill with other people [the elect]." He thinks it entails not only a "two-wills conundrum," but a "multiple desires conundrum."

"But, I just don't, if someone can explain to me where the idea comes from that we have to attribute to God a desire that he then does not fulfill."
"But, I have a problem then saying in my proclamation of the gospel to others means that I then have to affirm some kind of a partially salvific desire...cause it can only be partially salvific. If it's truly a salvific desire, and it's truly a desire of God, does he not do whatever he pleases in the heavens and the earth?"
"We do not know the identity of the elect...who did not go so far as to say, and what that means is that there is a partially salvific desire on the part of God. That He has a desire, but for some reason (that has never been explained to me) he chooses not to act upon it, and hence causes himself to be eternally unfulfilled. I don't see that in a large number of Calvinistic writers. There is a range of expression on this, but no, I don't think I am in a minority position. Again, if someone wants to explain to me what a partial salvific desire is, and how it is expressed in scripture, then great, I'll be glad to hear it."
"And, I don't know how many times I have to say we don't know who the elect are, and therefore we proclaim the gospel to everybody. But there are some who would say, "and if you don't add to that that God has a partially salvific desire [laughter in the background]...you can go ahead and differentiate that he has a truly salvific desire for the elect, but you have to have a partially salvific will...I just go, what does that mean?!"

If there's any credibility to what you are saying with respect to White's past position, David, please explain what the above quotes mean on the supposition that White does believe God desires the salvation of all men. Remember, Jason's a Calvinist in the Murray position, i.e. one who believes that God desires the salvation of all men in the revealed will. If White "desires" to change his position now and thus repudiate these past remarks, that's good. However, it would be a stretch to try to argue that he was not denying the universal aspect to God's saving will above.

As you recall, I have demonstrated beyond doubt that White has linked himself with Reymond's position. First of all, Reymond repudiates John Murray's position, and there is no tertium quid between the two. Secondly, Reymond cites Gill's The Cause of God and Truth as a source for a proper understanding of various passages dealing with God's will on this subject, saying "...and the passages upon which Murray relies for his conclusions can all be legitimately interpreted in such a way that the Christian is not forced to impute such irrationality to God. For these other interpretations I would refer the reader to John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Sovereign Grace, 1971), 4-6, 22-26, 28, 62." You can't separate Reymond's view from Gill, and no one since the days of Gill has tried to argue that he believed God desires the eternal salvation of all men. White, in siding with Reymond, is also by necessity siding with Gill's view. Moreover, no one has attempted to argue that Reymond believes that God desires the salvation of all men, knowing that Reymond is Clarkian [after Gordon Clark] on that subject. If you're going to attempt to argue that Reymond actually believes that God does desire the salvation of all men, I know some Clarkians [like Sean Gerety] who would be very interested in seeing you pull that rabbit out of the Reymond's hat.

Also, notice Reymond's logic here:

"If one followed this trajectory of [Murray's] reasoning to its logical end, one might also conclude that perhaps Christ, though he knew the futility of his endeavor, did after all die savingly for those whom his Father and he had decreed not to save."

Likewise, White argues:

"And I just go, what does it mean to say that God desires to do something he then does not provide the means to do? What does that mean? And no one's ever been able to tell me."

There is no "means" of salvation in the death of Christ for the non-elect on White and Reymond's view. Why isn't there? Because God doesn't desire their salvation. Both Reymond and White view this as consistent, contra John Murray's "irrationality." If it is true that White affirms that God desires the salvation of all men, we would now ask him, "what does it mean to say that God desires to do something he then does not provide the means to do?"

If you're going to try to argue that Reymond believes that God desires the salvation of all men, then you're all alone in that, so far, David. So far as I know, no one has attempted to say that about Reymond. And, with respect to White, everyone else on the Internet so far has virtually said, "So what if White denies God's universal saving will?! That doesn't make him a hyper-Calvinist!" No one has yet tried your strategy of trying to say that White actually believes God desires the salvation of all men. We want sources from anyone who thinks otherwise.

Again, if White believes, at least now, that God does in fact desire the salvation of all men by will revealed, then great. Have him write that down and clearly express it, providing "exegesis" to sustain his case. Such a thing would be remarkable, given that White has already undermined every known proof-text Calvinists have used [excepting John 5:34] to maintain God's universal saving desire.

To be continued...

Tony Byrne

Part 2

David said:

"I've heard from you both and it is evident (at least to me) that you are talking past each other."

Me response:

If you are able, then source what you have heard. I have given you multiple sources to sustain my case, and I think I am quite reasonable in believing that White, at least in the past, has denied God's universal saving desire. While you have acknowledged, unlike White, that his representation of my position is false, I have yet to be shown by any sources whatsoever that my representation of his position is false, at least with respect to his past beliefs. Either what I have sourced above is compatible with his alleged current affirmation of God's universal saving desire or it is not. If what you are reporting is in fact true, then do you think it is compatible or incompatible with what I have clearly sourced above? If compatible, explain how, or ask White to explain how. He shouldn't ridicule Dr. Allen and myself for thinking that, at least with respect to the past, he has rejected God's uinversal saving will. We have very reasonable grounds for thinking as we do, and I have given sufficient sources to sustain my case. If I were merely relying on hearsay testimony, you wouldn't think my case was credible. I haven't done that. I've given you documentable evidence that has yet to be negated.

David said:

"You both claim to understand the other's position, and both claim that the other's position (the one understood) is wrong."

Me response:

I should hope that he now sees that his representation of my position was false. I also think it was slanderous, but I will expect no apology from him. He doesn't issue apologies to me. Believe me. I've tried to get one for past slanders as well, and his response was to dismissively say in essence: "get a life!" via email. No apology. No retraction. No contrition. No accountability by his friends and associates, yet he is busy complaining about Ergun Caner's failures in this area. Physician heal thyself!

He has yet to show how my representation of his past views on the will of God are wrong, or how his current views are compatible with what I have sourced above.

David said:

"The thing is, having read you here (and elsewhere) and having interacted directly with Dr. White in asking him to clarify, the positions you two are ascribing to each other are, in fact, not the positions you hold."

Me response:

I should note again, here, that there are only two possibilities: 1) Either White's position on the universal saving will of God has remained the same or 2) White's position on the universal saving will of God has changed.

In your above comment you speak of positions we "hold" [present tense]. Frankly, I don't know what White believes NOW, this very day. All I am claiming to know is that with respect to the RECENT PAST, in which he has clearly denied that God desires the salvation of all men. It may be that he's affirming God's universal saving desire to you in the quiet corner of his chat room, but has he said anything about whether or not his position has changed? If not, then explain how his current affirmations are compatible with what he said to White.

He should also explain how he supports his current alleged affirmation biblically. Or is it something that is merely theoretical and abstract, built on nothing more than the notion that God's evangelical command presupposes desire for compliance? In other words, does he have exegetical support for his alleged belief now that God desires *the salvation* of any non-elect individual? He can't stop short and say that God merely desires men to repent and believe but does not also desire them to *be saved*. That position would be as absurd as saying that a virtuous doctor wants sick people to extend their hands to take medicine from him, but he doesn't want them to drink it and be healed thereby [see the comment from John Frame that I quoted above]. White, if he's going to clarify, must address the issue of God's desiring the "salvation" of those who perish. Is that something he affirms or denies, and has it always been something he either affirms or denies? Or has he changed his position?

To be continued...

Tony Byrne

Part 3

David said:

"I consider myself a reconciler. I do not like it when brothers are at odds with each other in general, but really do not like it when the issue is one of misunderstanding, which I truly believe this is."

Me now:

I am thankful for that, David. I respect you and the manner in which you conduct theological conversation. Your irenicism is apparent, at least to me. However, I have to say that these are rare qualities for one regularly associating with White. I say that after years of engagement with those in his circle of friends, and after some interaction with White himself. I find them frequently to be abusive, condescending and dismissive. I honestly don't know how others are not seeing it, except that they are justifying their acts and attitudes in their own minds, since they believe so strongly in White's cause, ministry and beliefs.

The last time I saw one of your comments in the blogosphere, you were trying to engage Tom Ascol on his interpretation of Matt. 23:37, as he was using it to argue for a general desire on God's part for the salvation of all men. I was left with the impression that you agree with White's Gillite take on that passage. This prompts me to ask you if you believe that God desires the salvation of all men by will revealed? And, if you do, as I suspect, then to what biblical passages would you appeal to sustain your case? A brief answer is fine. I am just wondering about your general viewpoint. Would it be fair to say that you agree with John Murray's position in theory, although not necessarily with every instance of his biblical take on various passages?

I'll conclude by saying this: What ultimately matters here is that White affirms God's universal saving will, for his own well-being and for the well-being of those Christians following his ministry/teaching. It matters not if he ever says "Tony was right," or "David Allen was right." If he continues to maintain, as I think he has [past tense] maintained, that God *only* desires the salvation of the elect, then he will not only continue to distort God's holy word, but he will damage the lives of other Christians, and not portray Christ's teachings accurately to those non-Christians he is debating. All men have good news in Christ Jesus, or a gospel, at least in the sense that God is, through the gospel offer, sincerely pleading with men to believe, repent and to be saved [2 Cor. 5:20]. In fact, the only reason why we as Christians desire for all our gospel hearers to believe and be saved is because the Holy Spirit is working in and through us to express these holy desires. For these reasons and more, Jonathan Edwards said:

"There is all in God that is good, and perfect, and excellent in our desires and wishes for the conversion and salvation of wicked men... There is all in God that belongs to our desire of the holiness and happiness of unconverted men and reprobates, excepting what implies imperfection."

We do not have more of a desire than God for the conversion and salvation of those that hear our gospel pleadings. We only have such desires because they are God-given, and thus expressive of a holy love for our neighbors. Perishing and despairing sinners need to sense that and believe that in everything we say and do. If James White images God this way in terms of his beliefs and apologetics ministry, then this is all I wish and desire. That will bring glory to Christ and honor His word.

Grace to you,
Tony

Tony Byrne

Slight correction. One sentence above should have been stated this way:

Would it be fair to say that you agree with John Murray's position on God's universal saving will, although not necessarily with every instance of his interpretations on various biblical passages?

David Hewitt

Tony:

Goodness man, you sure can write a lot. :)

There is much I suppose I could say, but I'm not sure I'm up to it, at least not right now.

I will comment thusly with regard to your statement about my being irenic:

I am thankful for that, David. I respect you and the manner in which you conduct theological conversation. Your irenicism is apparent, at least to me. However, I have to say that these are rare qualities for one regularly associating with White. I say that after years of engagement with those in his circle of friends, and after some interaction with White himself. I find them frequently to be abusive, condescending and dismissive. I honestly don't know how others are not seeing it, except that they are justifying their acts and attitudes in their own minds, since they believe so strongly in White's cause, ministry and beliefs.

First, thank you for your kind words. I praise and thank our gracious God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for granting humility and conviction to speak in such a way.

I read and interact with the people in Doc's chatroom now regularly, and have done so consistently in past years. I've watched his videos, read his posts, read blogs and comments by others (such as TurretinFan, RazorsKiss, johnMark, Shamgar, etc), and I generally don't see what you do, though I am not foolhardy enough to think that they (or anyone for that matter) is immune to being too harsh or making mistakes, even sinful ones, in one's writing.

Perhaps this would be the best way to think about it. When reading your opponents (in whatever sense), in fact, before you do, insist to yourself that you will read their comments in the best possible light. That is, taking what they say in the best possible way it can be taken (which sometimes is probably sarcasm and satire, but stay with me). Further, before you publish something of your own, or if you are wondering how your opponents may interpret something, read it in the worst possible light. Such may well help elucidate much of the recent conversation on this blog and others. Some of your own comments in this very meta, for example, could well be taken quite negatively and as slander. Unsure which I may mean?

You said:
"White and the legion of sychophants he surrounds himself with will never give you a source to prove what he says here."

You also said:
" Even his sycophantic surrogate "Turretinfan" should know what we believe, as we have sought to correct his slanderous comments as well on other blogs."

Now. I ask you this: Can you possibly see why, should someone be convinced to read here and participate in this discussion who would be predisposed NOT to do so would, upon reading such statements, say something along the lines of, "There goes Tony again, just like I suspected. Why bother having this discussion at all?"

Taking it a little farther and further into the matter which began this debacle (White's video about Caner, Tim Roger's post, Peter's followup), try looking at those posts as a close friend of White may do so, who, at the very least believes the truthfulness of what Dr. White was saying?

If you cannot see those things, at least the first examples from your own words, then perhaps our discussion should not continue. That... and I think such a comment is all I can think through right now anyway, as I'm not feeling all that great. :)

SDG,
dave

Carrie

David why did you take the time to correct Tony on his blog etiquette but yet not take the time to address the overwhelming amount of content he provided for you?

I appreciate the kind manner in which you do your business ...however it doesn't take away from the fact that you simply aren't addressing the issues.

Perhaps when engaging an opponent you should address the content of their argument in place of giving them advice on how to engage an opponent?

David Hewitt

Carrie:
I think that is a fair question. Part of it, I suspect is that the content is, as you have said, "overwhelming." I have read through what Tony has said, and I could address most of what he mentioned I think. Yet, such would take a large amount of time, and were I to start with one subject I likely wouldn't get it addressed in a sufficient manner (that is, by my standards, not his) before interaction would begin with it and the rest would be neglected, however unintentionally. Perhaps it is a personal limitation of my own.

I will interact with Tony on these matters is he would like, though I would request one line item at a time that he himself would prefer we address until it is done. I hadn't said this before, and I am not criticizing him for having many questions and points of concern of course; like I said, this is likely my own personal limitation.

Regardless, my point for posting what I did was not to address his points...pardon the repetitive use of terms.

The point was to make him step back and think about what he was saying and how he was saying it. Though, as I said, I could address what he discussed, the best person to do so would be Dr. White. I doubt very much that he (that is, Dr. White) is willing to do so, not because of a lack of love for the truth on his or Tony's part, but rather, I think, because Doc doesn't think his time would be well invested here addressing Tony. The reason for that is Doc doesn't believe that the conversation will get anywhere, no matter what he says, and such thinking I believe is reinforced by words like "sycophant."

So, though I've taken a long time to say it (I've been rightly accused of being long-winded at times), the reason I didn't address the issues in that last comment is that I wasn't intending to, but rather to address a continuation of an earlier point I made -- that of being a reconciler. The reason is, among other things, I'm not really the opponent, as I hope I have helped make clear.

Thank you for your comment, Carrie.

SDG,
dbh

Luke

"I have read through what Tony has said, and I could address most of what he mentioned I think."

Since Peter has not complained about what is taking place in regards to content or length of posts, I for one would like to see your rebuttal to Tony. If it is simply a matter of you not feeling well, I am quite sure this blog isn't going anywhere over the next couple of days. But Tony has given an intelligent, well reasoned and documented argument and a refusal to answer Tony because of his use of the word, sycophant is something you should be able to rise above.

David Hewitt

Luke:

rise above it, sure. That wasn't my point; the issue wasn't about me. In fact, I'm not really the one with whom he "has the beef" which is part of the reason I responded the way I did.

My aim here is not so much to interact with his argumentation (though I could do so) but to get to the heart of the matter. Ultimately, this isn't going to be resolved unless he and Dr. White and come to terms with it without writing each other off. Perhaps I am idealistic; I hope not too much so.

Again, I can discuss the issues if he would like.

tony: just let me know sir which you'd like me to address first, should that be your wish.

sdg,
dave

peter

Luke,

I'm past hope that the worst label flung my way on this and other blogs was my being sycophant. ;^)

David,

While I normally like to keep the thread 'on target' as it were, I've found no reason to 'stop the presses' on this particular exchange. I encourage you to continue at your leisure.

Pertaining to your particular exchange with Tony, allow me, if I may, to note Carrie's and now Luke's gentle nudge to volley the ball back to Tony.

I say this especially in light of your last remark to Luke and then Tony:

"My aim here is not so much to interact with his argumentation (though I could do so) but to get to the heart of the matter....Again, I can discuss the issues if he would like. tony: just let me know sir which you'd like me to address first, should that be your wish"

I do not know Tony's mind about this but I can surmise that, for him, the heart of the matter *is* the argumentation, the evidence and implications of the evidence Tony offers.

As both Carrie and Luke have made clear, David: Tony gives an exceptional amount of data and has asked for a response. Interestingly, after Tony has made it clear he'd like a response, you nonetheless write, "I can discuss the issues if he would like. tony: just let me...should that be your wish"

I must say, David, I haven't the least idea you gathered anywhere from Tony's logs here the notion that Tony did not wish you to respond to his reasoned contributions, his evidence. I think Tony will find that a surprise as well.

Where do you begin? Why not at the opening comment Tony logged? Does James White undermine texts traditionally used by Calvinists to defend the well-meant offer of the gospel to all peoples? If not, what texts does White employ to substantiate God's salvific love for all people? Interpret White's conversation with a "Jason" on the DL in such a way that is consistent with what you say White actually believes.

Does White embrace Reymond contra Murray? If not, how does he differ from Reymond?

Those are just some of the question I pulled from memory in scanning Tony's comments.

With that, I am...
Peter

David Hewitt

Peter:

Thank you for the question. You said, regarding a place to start:

"Does James White undermine texts traditionally used by Calvinists to defend the well-meant offer of the gospel to all peoples? If not, what texts does White employ to substantiate God's salvific love for all people? Interpret White's conversation with a "Jason" on the DL in such a way that is consistent with what you say White actually believes.

Does White embrace Reymond contra Murray? If not, how does he differ from Reymond?"

I can see how you would be a bit befuddled as to my asking if Tony wanted a response from me, especially as the questions were directed at me; indeed, my comment nearly seems absurd -- but for this:

(my words)"Ultimately, this isn't going to be resolved unless he and Dr. White and come to terms with it without writing each other off. "

The reason I haven't given much comment yet to his understanding of White's statements is really simple: they are not my statements. At issue here is Tony's disagreement with and/or misunderstanding of what Dr. White has said. I am hoping, by my presence here, to find some way for he and Dr. White to communicate on the matter and, at the very least, end the confusion and make any necessary amends. Dr. White thinks my efforts are in vain; I hope he is mistaken.

I will note, however, that I was listening to the Dividing Line live when that call came in from Jason, and that I came away with different conclusions than those Tony has drawn -- as long as one takes into account how White seemed to be using the terms in question. I have read the quotes from Reymond and Murray and Waldron that Tony has provided. I haven't just been brushing over or ignoring what Tony has said -- just making sure I'm not sticking my nose too far into another's matters. :)

SDG,
dave hewitt

Carrie

Hi David,

Thank you for your reply to me.

There is much I could say about it but will refrain because there is something else I have been wondering about.

I see you are playing the role of reconciler, something that does not happen often enough between parties who disagree in the public forum. I think this is incredibly kind and displays Christian character (again something we don't see as often as we should in areans such as this.)

You have made great strides with Tony hereto help him better understand White's position. You have sought to demonstrate Tony is mistaken regarding his views of White's position. In all truth I have only seen you make the assertion this is the case but have not shown it to be such. But that is neither here nor there because what I want to know is there anywhere to which you can point me, where you have sought to correct James White on Tony's view?

Is there a public forum such as this where you have interacted with White so we can see how he is responding to your reproach? If James doesn't have time to respond here, or simply thinks its a fruitless endeavor, then perhaps you can show where he has taken the time elsewhere to indicate that he is at least demonstrating a clearer understanding of Tony's view?

If it is only in his chat room then that isn't exactly a static page to which people can reference.

I understand that you have a blog? Would it be possible for you to arrange a formal exchange via blog posts between James White and Tony Byrne so they both clear the air between them and ultimately better understand the other's position?

Perhaps neither have the time to do such. If that is the case then possibly James White could send you an email of sorts tht you could post on your blog? Something that shows he now has a better understanding of Tony's position. Something that would clear up this issue of Tony and James "talking past each other". Then perhaps Tony could respond in concert?

I am thinking of this because it has occurred to me that with you acting as a reconciler, it seems as very little reconciliation is being accomplished. With no other point of reference other than your dialogue here it appears you are only trying to defend James White. Unless you have some reference to which you can direct me that shows where you are trying to plead with White as you are pleading with Tony, that is the only conclusion I can come to (and I think anyone who has followed this thread would come to the same conclusion.)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Thank you for your time.

- Carrie

peter

David,

I appreciate your response but I find it completely disengaged with what has actually taken place here.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it was you, David, who logged on here and insisted specifically what James White "certainly thinks." You further claimed you went into a chat channel and addressed specific issues with him.

Upon being challenged to show your cards, however, you backed up a bit and claimed "reconciler." I admire any who fulfills such a role. However, as Carrie as said, there has been actually little reconciling taking place.

Even so, what is demonstrably obvious in this thread, David, is the continued side-stepping of the posting any real content whatsoever, I'm sorry to say.

Being nice and cordial is a virtue after which all believers must strive. But when, without hesitation, you clearly imply that Bryne misses what White actually believes, nevertheless, upon request to offer any tangible proof of such an assertion, you continue to suggest "I'm a reconciler." For me, the claim can hardly be taken seriously, reconciler or not, if you are not willing to post the tangible proof.

Additionally, you now cite as reason not engage the questions posed to you from Tony at the very beginning this: "The reason I haven't given much comment yet to his [Tony's} understanding of White's statements is really simple: they are not my statements."

Recall once again, David, you first logged on claiming you very well knew what James White "certainly thinks." Now you appear to be claiming you don't want to get "very far into another's matters" because "they are not my statements." As the old cliche goes, either cut bait or fish, brother.

Also, I'm afraid those who do take on the sometimes grievous task of playing the role of 'reconciler' are caught going well beyond what's normally considered the "comfort zone."

I find it interesting, to say the least, that, while you claim the "statements" White is making are not your own, and consequently, you have not given much comment yet to Tony's understanding of White's statements, you nevertheless conclude error in Tony's reading of James White:"At issue here is Tony's disagreement with and/or misunderstanding of what Dr. White has said." Apparently, you know enough about White & Byrne's position to suggest Byrne either misunderstands or disagrees with White or both.

And still, after you solicited whether Tony would like you answer his questions and receiving an affirmative--albeit I answered rather than Tony--you post another content-less comment, David. Were one of a mind to, I suppose one could make a strong case that you, my brother David, are surreptitiously grandstanding on this thread.

Can you or can you not provide answers with content to Tony's concerns? If so, we're all ears. If not, my brother, I have more things to do--as I'm sure others do as well--than to continue logging back and forth when the comments are going nowhere. I do not know this but it surely makes sense to me: perhaps the reason Tony has dropped out of the thread is simply because you will not engage his comments with content of your own.

The way I see it, the only point in your lengthy comments that could be interpreted as addressing Tony's concerns raised here pertains to your listening to the conversation with 'Jason' recorded only in your last log: "I will note, however, that I was listening to the Dividing Line live when that call came in from Jason..."

Granted you addressed a question Tony logged. On the other hand, what did you actually address about DL conversation? Humorously, all you essentially responded with was "I disagree." You wrote: "I came away with different conclusions than those Tony has drawn."

David, how you may think that is a serious, valid response, no one on this thread surely can ascertain.

Once again, I'm sorry to say, you're offering an empty cup to those interested in a genuine response.

With that, I am...
Peter

David Hewitt

Peter:

Well, I do indeed see part of your point. I could be seen as grandstanding here -- I assure you that was not my intention; my apologies for appearing that way.

With regard to the issue of reconciling -- I am aware not a whole lot has taken place; such I do not think will completely take place until White and Byrne talk about it with each other without writing the other person off. I do hope and pray such a thing can and will happen -- our God is great and can indeed bring it about -- but in the very least, I do believe at least a seed or two has been sown in that direction.

You are correct in saying that I backed off a bit -- the reason has to do with the small quote I did provide from Dr. White. I was pretty confident that what Dr. White indicated about Tony's beliefs in that comment wasn't quite right; part of the reason I posted it was to illustrate what I was going to address. Given the amount of exchange (not to mention raw information available) that has taken place between Dr. White and Tony, there really shouldn't have been any kind of misunderstanding. Yet... it was apparent that, based on that quote from him (that I got from his chat channel and asked if I may post it) he was in error about Tony's belief.

Along the same lines, I do think Tony has reached consistently incorrect conclusions with regard to what Dr. White means about what he has said. Since Tony hasn't come back to request I address a particular item, and since you are asking me to provide some information directly (since this is, after all, your blog) I shall do so. I'll pick one example, and we can address it and cover all bases and then move on to another should you wish. Given, that I have already introduced the conversation with Jason, I shall return to it as my example. I cite Dr. White's same words that Tony used above, emphasizing a few different aspects:

"But, I just don't, if someone can explain to me where the idea comes from that we have to attribute to God a desire that he then does not fulfill."

"But, I have a problem then saying in my proclamation of the gospel to others means that I then have to affirm some kind of a partially salvific desire...cause it can only be partially salvific. If it's truly a salvific desire, and it's truly a desire of God, does he not do whatever he pleases in the heavens and the earth?"

"We do not know the identity of the elect...who did not go so far as to say, and what that means is that there is a partially salvific desire on the part of God. That He has a desire, but for some reason (that has never been explained to me) he chooses not to act upon it, and hence causes himself to be eternally unfulfilled. I don't see that in a large number of Calvinistic writers. There is a range of expression on this, but no, I don't think I am in a minority position. Again, if someone wants to explain to me what a partial salvific desire is, and how it is expressed in scripture, then great, I'll be glad to hear it."

"And, I don't know how many times I have to say we don't know who the elect are, and therefore we proclaim the gospel to everybody. But there are some who would say, "and if you don't add to that that God has a partially salvific desire [laughter in the background]...you can go ahead and differentiate that he has a truly salvific desire for the elect, but you have to have a partially salvific will...I just go, what does that mean?!"

I have bolded four different sections above, and shall address them in that order.

First, please note what Dr. White indicates regarding how he denies that God has a "truly salvific desire" for those He never intends to bring to salvation (the non-elect). He makes reference to Psalm 115:3 as part of his explanation. What is Dr. White objecting to? He is objecting to those who would claim that God is desiring to save the non-elect in the same way as the elect. Since God does whatever He pleases, how can this be the case? This is an objection to equal ultimacy which was mentioned before. Combine this please with the remaining points:

Second and Third, Dr. White builds on this point. If God were to desire in this fashion, then He would render Himself eternally unhappy, having desires that He either could not or would not fulfill -- and this would be conflicting with Psalm 115:3. He also indicated he doesn't believe he's in the minority on this matter -- and I would have to agree. Allow me to elaborate.

Contrary to what Tony I think indicated above, Tom Ascol is not in disagreement with White about this. In this blog article, he wrote:

"I am fairly aware of what James White believes. He speaks and writes very clearly. He and I do not significantly disagree on this subject. We might state things a little differently, but we both agree that God's will must be seen in terms of decree and precept and we both agree that God will not be frustrated at the end of history. Dr. Allen simply does not understand James White's views nor, it appears, the theology of hyper-Calvinism."

Please note that Ascol said that he and White agree that God will not be frustrated at the end of history. This is because he and White agree on God's decree -- and God's desires in God's decree (that is, that He didn't determine to make Himself eternally unhappy). So then, with that helpful information, one can perhaps see better what Dr. White was talking about.

Fourth, and last, when White then talks about a partially-salvific will in this context of God's desire in His decree, White means that he (White) doesn't understand how that could be -- some sort of desire God has in his decree to save people he never decreed to save. This of course does not make sense -- but this is the context White was using to talk about God's saving will. This is what White meant by "a truly salvific desire:" truly meaning that God fully intended to bring it about. Such is not the desire of God for the non-elect.

That is White's belief.

That is Tom Ascol's belief.

That is my belief. :)

That belief is not the same as saying, "God has no desire at all of any kind to save the non-elect."

Such a belief is not embraced by White, Ascol, or myself, or really, anyone I know.

I hope that helps clear up at least that one objection. :)

May Jesus guide our thoughts as we proceed.

dbh

Tony Byrne

I'll have some comments forthcoming, so I have't "dropped out," yet :-) I'm collecting more sources.

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