Opinions on faith and life

Series: The Hunt/White Debate, Part Fourteen

2009-07-10

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: SALVATION OFFERED TO ALL by Dave Hunt

Though Christ commands us in the Great Commission to preach the gospel to every creature, Calvinism teaches that the elect are regenerated without it and the non-elect cannot accept it. If the gospel is the power of God to the salvation of everyone that believes (Mark 16:15), then that power to save is not regeneration. Why do the regenerated need to hear the gospel? According to White, regeneration is only the first step, so he must agree that there are people who are regenerated but unsaved. Yet if, according to Sproul, the man, being regenerated, is saved already, White must be mistaken about his assertion that regeneration is not salvation— a point he has used against Hunt many times. So if there is confusion, it is caused by Calvinists themselves, not their opponents.

Then Hunt spends considerable time illustrating the OT practices and teachings that establish God’s offer of salvation for all people and not merely all kinds of people. Likewise for the NT, where the notion of all kinds of people is conspicuous by its absence. But Calvinism must interpret verses like John 3:16 as For God so loved the elect.... Then another contradictory quote from Spurgeon is given, along with noting that not even Spurgeon can get away with hiding his absurd conclusions under the blanket of mystery.

Response, by James White

Again, nothing new to report. The redefinition of terms already covered for verses like John 3:16 is simply asserted again. And who can make sense of God showing love to the world but only for His elect? Is God mocking the reprobate, saying See, I love these few, but not you!? He still tries to inject the Calvinist twist onto that famous verse, asserting it as the clear and proper meaning, but assertions are not proofs. The gymnastics required to turn whosoever into who I chose, especially when it depends upon a minority interpretation of the Greek, is sheer desperation. As always, nothing like this would be tolerated if done by non-Calvinists.

Defense, by Dave Hunt

Hunt notes the obvious fact that White did not touch on the issue of whether regeneration is salvation. And if Hunt is reading into the account in Acts about salvation for Gentiles, then why is White allowed to go to such great lengths to read his interpretation into John 3:16? Turning this Calvinist insistence that world means all kinds of people back on White, Hunt lists several verses that are reduced to absurdities not even Calvinists could accept were they consistent in their substitutions.

Final Remarks, by James White

Other than White’s ignorance of the Hebraic idiom children of meaning people of, nothing new to report.

Final Remarks, by Dave Hunt

Hunt expresses shock at White’s continual denial of God’s frequently expressed desire to save everyone. If White can brush off anything he deems irrelevant, even when it directly addresses the topic at hand, then there is little incentive for Hunt to keep trying. And he notes, as I did, White’s mistaken interpretation of children of.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: BIBLICAL ASSURANCE OF SALVATION by Dave Hunt

Hunt begins this final chapter by explaining the difference between the assurance of the Calvinist and that of the non-Calvinist (my note: of course, not all non-Calvinists accept assurance, but that is outside the scope of this debate). For the non-Calvinist, assurance of salvation comes solely by faith in the work of Jesus, not us; for the Calvinist, it comes by presuming oneself to be one of the elect. But few if any Calvinists are absolutely sure they are elect, since they teach that many reprobates think they are saved. This effectively removes all assurance for the Calvinist, who can only hope (and strive for good works just in case).

He also notes that in spite of quotes from Calvin and others showing basic theological errors regarding works and baptism, White considers them great theologians. Yet it was Calvin who expressly stated his belief that God deliberately fools many of the lost into thinking they are saved.

After a diversion back to the question of free will, Hunt refutes the argument that if we are free to accept salvation, then we must be free even in heaven to reject it. The flaw in that is the scriptural assurance that the saved become like Jesus, having the same mind and likeness, such that we can only rebel if Jesus can. If it is His righteousness that saves us, then it is His righteousness that keeps us. This takes all the focus off man and onto Jesus.

Response, by James White

White begins by denying Hunt the right to believe in eternal security since he doesn’t accept the Calvinistic definition of sovereignty. But this means White is actually demanding that Hunt adapt the Calvinistic definition! How is the non-Calvinist view of sovereignty in conflict with security? And why does White persist in claiming Hunt denies God’s freedom? Why is he, even to the end of this debate, still trying to get Hunt to change the subject?

As for White’s question about the difference between the false faith of Calvinism and that of non-Calvinism, surely he can grasp that in the former it is by God’s decree, while in the latter it is by man failing to accept the gospel. This is what Hunt was talking about. And he continues to equate faith with works.

Defense, by Dave Hunt

Again Hunt has to correct White’s mischaracterization of the non-Calvinist view of sovereignty; again he points out that Calvinism severely limits God’s freedom; again he explains that if Christ’s death actually saved, then the elect were saved at that time, before any of them could first be regenerated. He wonders how White can disagree with Calvin on such serious issues as infant baptism yet call him a great theologian, and why faith is such a big issue when people are elect and regenerated without it. And finally, he wonders how White can accuse him of showing no concern with false professions of faith, in spite of Hunt’s many books and articles on exactly that topic. Shall we say with White, No answers will be forthcoming?

Final Remarks, by James White

Nothing of substance to report.

Final Remarks, by Dave Hunt

Hunt finds a way to respond to White’s non-statement, but only to express more dismay at his words.

FINAL AFFIRMATION, by James White

One last time, White asserts his view of sovereignty and freedom, declaring the Calvinist interpretation of scripture to be the consistent one. One last time he uses the t word. One last time he insults Hunt as incompetent, putting himself above him as a guardian of truth. Was Calvinism affirmed? Let the reader decide.

FINAL DENIAL, by Dave Hunt

After having to correct once again White’s baseless charge of tradition, Hunt focuses on the topic of debate and its central teachings. He notes that the promised refutation of the calumnies launched at... Calvin has yet to be offered, as well as any attempt to address the problem of how Calvinism limits God’s freedom, love, grace, and mercy. Regarding the issue of uncertainty of salvation, one could also ask why Calvinists are sure they are preaching the correct gospel.


As I mentioned at the beginning, I spent considerable time studying Calvinism at the request of a friend. However, when I had finished my studies of both sides and supplied him with links and books for the opposition, I was met with resistance and hostility. I was not to be afforded the same courtesy I had shown to my friend, all because I rejected Calvinism. Sadly, in my experience this reaction has proven to be typical.

But when one considers the fact that both sides preach essentially the same gospel message in evangelism, one wonders why this system is so important to its adherents. What practical difference does it make? Both sides reach out with the same gospel, both believe in training new converts and exhorting them to live lives that please their Savior, and both (regardless of accusations to the contrary) hold scripture in the highest regard.

So Calvinism is truly a divisive force in Christianity, and needlessly so. While this is certainly not the only topic believers have divided over, forgetting to distinguish the vital from the disputable and secondary, it is a prime example of such divisive forces. By studying this debate we are better able to warn others about division and get them to think more deeply about the gospel itself and the nature of God. I would have preferred that Calvinism had never taken root, but it may be one of the ways in which God tests our character by observing how we treat those who disagree with us.

Part Thirteen

4 Comments

TL

"The gymnastics required to turn “whosoever” into “who I chose”, especially when it depends upon a minority interpretation of the Greek, is sheer desperation. As always, nothing like this would be tolerated if done by non-Calvinists."

This is the same thing that is done with Ephe. 5:21. The Grudemites try to claim it is not submit one to another (mutuality) but rather some submit to some, with the invisible ’some’ being defined as the inferiors to the superiors.

Crazy making stuff!

Paula Fether

Yep. And what is most puzzling is how people are so very precise and faithful to the text at one point yet resort to such desperation at another. For example, a certain YEC (young earth creationist) organization is very adamant about adhering to scripture and not reading into it on the topic of the age of the earth, yet they do not hesitate to turn Eve’s deception into a deliberate plan to sin. Same book of the Bible, but two completely opposite hermeneutics dependent upon the topic.

Greg Anderson

Astonishing isn’t it?

Same book, same author, and yet YEC’s and old Earther’s will line up on opposite sides like Saladin and the defenders of Jerusalem, & have it out complete with volleys of arrows and trebuchet rounds.

Go forward in scripture just a tad, and a large majority from both sides will sware up and down that Eve’s "turning" was to try and usurp Adam’s rightful place of "authority" over her.

I’m beginning to feel more like Alice and her encounters with the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. Go figure as they say in present day parlance.

Paula Fether

U got it. Selective literalism.