Thursday, January 27, 2011

Norman Geisler "reasoned" his way to faith

Rhology sent this over to me after reading my recent aomin entry on Geisler's Chosen But Free. This is from the debate I mentioned. Note Dr. Geisler's answer to the first question, if he "reasoned" his way to faith.


Charles Haddon Spurgeon, preaching on 2/5/1882, on the passage from John 6:66,

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” said, The defection in this case was on account of doctrine... The truth was too hard for them, it was not to be borne with. “It is a hard saying. Who can hear it?” A true disciple sits at the feet of his Master, and believes what he is told even when he cannot quite comprehend the meaning, or see the reasons for what his Master utters; but these men had not the essential spirit of a disciple, and consequently when their Instructor began to unfold the innermost parts of the roll of truth, they would not listen to His reading of it. They would believe as far as they could understand, but when they could not comprehend they turned on their heel and left the school of the Great Teacher. Besides, the Lord Jesus Christ had taught the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, and of the need of the Spirit of God, that men should be led to Him, “for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” Here our Lord uttered a bit of old-fashioned free-grace doctrine, such as people nowadays do not like. They call it “Calvinism”, and put it aside among the old exploded tenets which this enlightened age knows nothing of. What right they have to ascribe to the Genevan reformer a doctrine as old as the hills I do not know. But our Lord Jesus never hesitated to fling that truth into the face of His enemies. He told them, “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Here he tells them plainly that they could not come unto Him unless the Father gave them the grace to come. This humbling doctrine they could not receive, and so they went aside. (CHS, Sermons, 28, 111-2)

40 comments:

Tim Enloe said...

God uses means to bring people to faith. There's no reason He can't with some use the means of reason to at least prepare the ground for monergistic granting of faith to them.

Besides, given a proper definition of "reason" as the logical operations of the mind made in God's image, reason isn't ultimately antithetical to faith, but is its handmaiden.

Northwest SD Lutheran said...

I have always believed that the call of faith is from the preaching of the Word. I have also found out that those who cling to having a reason for faith also have a reason for not having faith and therefore don't because they subordinate faith to reason. For example, in J.T. Mueller's Christian Dogmatics, the author states that conversion is essentially the bestowal of faith (donatio fidei) in the divine promise for Christ's sake upon a sinner from the divine Law has learned to know and lament his sins as stated in Mark 1:14-15. This is also noted in Acts 11:21 The turning to God , or conversion, of the great number, as here related was accomplished by faith in the preaching of the Lord Jesus V. 20 . That is to say the Lord Jesus was preached: a great number believed the Gospel of Christ and thus turned to the Lord. Mueller P.337.

They would believe as far as they could understand. That is funny and often a reason why I am not a huge Spurgeon fan. There are many things that I don't understand yet I believe in Christ. So to say reason is the lynchpin of why we have faith would be incorrect . It is placing reason above faith and thus leaves the Christian Faith to be reasoned away and made to comfort man to his own device and thus empty the Christian religion of its character and content. To quote Mueller again, " The Christian Religion cannot be brought down to the level of man's intellectual comprehension without losing its supernatural character and content.Reason is the handmaiden of faith as stated by Tim.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Well, that friend who gave me Chosen But Free no longer talks to me, and I miss him dearly."

James, was it because of the Arminianism/Calvinism divide that he no longer talks to you?

aztexan said...

Excellent quote! Apropos Sprugeon's remarks is one of my favorite pithy aphorisms, which happens to apply perfectly to Christian doctrine:

"When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest."

Though I catch a lot of flak (even from my fellow-Reformed) for voicing it, I stand by my conviction (quoted from a recent comment I left on TFan's blog): "Olson, Hunt, Geisler, Caner, Vines, Ruggiero et al do what they do because they are unregenerate. We need to be praying for their conversion; the rest will sort itself out mas rapido should any (or all, Lord willing) of these men be graciously brought to saving faith in Christ."

Tim Enloe said...

Of course faith (defined as that empty hand that grasps Christ alone for justification) comes from the hearing of the Word, not from intellectual ability. Having myself read a great deal of Geisler (though not his materials on Calvinism, or anything much about the controversy about Caner), I highly doubt he would be so foolish as to say that he reasoned his way to regeneration.

Geisler is among an unfortunately much falsely-maligned breed - a Protestant Thomist - and as such, he grasps that faith is only reason's handmaiden, articulating the "preambles to faith" and not comprising or creating faith itself. Notice that Geisler said he wasn't raised in a Christian home, and so had to use reason to examine various modes of evidence and reach a conclusion. There's nothing fishy about this at all. It's the natural workings of the human mind mind in God's image. It's more likely that when he says he reasoned his way to faith, all he means is that he reasoned past all the typical intellectual objections to faith than it is to darkly suspect that he means his own natural powers caused him to become regenerate.

I realize Geisler is not the most popular guy in these circles because of his criticisms of Calvinism, but that shouldn't translate to a general demeaning of his work, let alone to the outrageously uncharitable judgment that he is unregenerate. No one but God knows the heart of a man, and, barring someone correcting me, I do not believe any classical Calvinist theologian claims that adherence to Calvinism creates the ability to see the souls of other people by means of examining their doctrines.

Rhology said...

There's nothing fishy about this at all.

I disagree. It's not fishy b/c I think the guy is lying or something, but it's fishy b/c it's a poor representation of the Gospel. Here he is, with the chance to share the Gospel, and that's the best he can do?

Much better to say: "No, I didn't reason MY way to Jesus. Jesus gave me a new heart, and one of the means He used to do that was to help me find numerous evidences that convinced my mind as well. And thru those evidences and many more I've since found, I remain a Christian".

That would've been a lot better. It's simply not true to say "I reasoned my way to Jesus".

Tim Enloe said...

Yikes! I said this backwards: faith is only reason's handmaiden, articulating the "preambles to faith"

I meant, of course, that reason is faith's handmaiden, not the other way around. Mea culpa!

Tim Enloe said...

Rhology,

I can see your point, there. But since we all say imprecise things sometimes, I think we can all afford to give Geisler a little benefit of the doubt on this point, don't you?

At any rate, I don't know that regeneration can be tidily separated, except on the pages of a book, from the means used to bring a person to it. We can and should properly distinguish that reason does not create saving faith (only monergistic regeneration does), but in the actual experience of a person being brought to regeneration, I don't think such distinctions either mean much or are even helpful. Systematic theology isn't itself the Gospel (I'm not saying you think it is), but just an articulation of the Gospel and its implications.

Rhology said...

we can all afford to give Geisler a little benefit of the doubt on this point

James and I already did. Absent from any of our comments are words like "Pelagian" and "heretic". :-)
Doesn't mean we shouldn't call out the comment as wrong.


We can and should properly distinguish that reason does not create saving faith

Then you agree with us. Cool! That's all we're saying.

Tim Enloe said...

Great! Nice to agree for once, including absenting words like "Pelagian" and "heretic," which aren't applicable to Geisler anyway. :)

Rhology said...

Right.
What I'm saying is that if we were inclined to be unfair to the man, we'd pick on where that statement, if left in isolation, leads, which is Pelagianism and thus heresy.
But we didn't. :-)

Tim Enloe said...

It seems I may have misunderstood the point of the post then. It seemed to me an attack on the veracity of Geisler's faith - which seemed suspicious to me because Geisler is not exactly anyone's favorite around here. He seems to be generally looked upon very darkly because of his disagreements with Calvinism and his support of Caner, which, how ever serious those things may be, don't seem to me to justify a broadside on the mere veracity of his faith. But again, perhaps I misunderstood the point of the post.

Geisler has done much good work in many areas, including books about apologetic prolegomena (Christian Apologetics), pantheism (Apologetics In the New Age), the problem of evil (Roots of Evil), basic theistic thought (Philosophy of Religion), creationism (Knowing the Truth About Creation), ethics (Christian Ethics: Options and Issues), the bodily resurrection (The Battle for the Resurrection), and open theism (Creating God in the Image of Man). I have profited enormously from all of these books, as have many others interested in apologetics.

As for aztexan's evident feeling that he is called to question the regeneration of others based on their doctrines, well, that's even more irking. A profession to believe in the "doctrines of grace" that is unaccompanied by graciousness toward another, as if anyone who is a Calvinist has anything to boast of on that score in the first place, let alone any ground from which look down upon others, is just a huge oxymoron, and only serves to further discredit Calvinism in the eyes of its critics.

Rhology said...

I can't speak for aztexan though I'm sure you'd agree that questioning ppl's regeneration based on their doctrines is perfectly justifiable in many instances, so we have to discuss whether it's justifiable in THIS instance.

Anyway, my intention in pointing this quote out to James Swan was to show how Geisler's man-centered soteriology runs deep. When you're questioned on TV about sthg as central as how one is saved and you respond with "I was smart enough to get there", that says something, and it just so happens that this something is closely related to his broadsides against Calvinism. I don't have to question his salvation (tho his ridiculous defense of Caner has provoked suspicion on that count) to say this was a very poorly chosen response.

aztexan said...

Enloe, what is "irksome" is illiteracy. I see a lot of it from Armidiots and their "noble defenders," which further discredits both that asinine, God-dishonoring system and those sympathetic to it.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Armidiots? It seems hard to reconcile Peter's injunction for "gentleness and respect" with sweeping mockery of all adherents to a theological tradition. There are both thoughtful and thoughtless people within alternative theological perspectives. It seems completely inappropriate to wash over that distinction with a wave of condescending generalization.

James Swan said...

Having myself read a great deal of Geisler (though not his materials on Calvinism

I do have comments on this, but little time. Perhaps this weekend I'll be able to catch up.

Keep in mind, I've read Chosen But Free very closely, and Dr. Geisler is sloppy with soteriology.Also it would be worthwhile to read Dr. White's response.

I probably have 30 Geisler books, maybe more. Some of them are useful. On the other hand, his soteriology is befuddled arminianism, which is why sometimes he sounds downright pelagian, as he does in this clip.

John Bugay said...

I read "The Potter's Freedom" when it first came out. Back then I really wasn't aware of all the issues between Calvinism and Arminianism, but one thing I remember is that Dr. White bent over backwards to talk to isolate Geisler's views in this one area, from the "tremendously useful" works that he has produced.

Tim Enloe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Enloe said...

I responded, but got the message "We cannot complete your request." Alas, I didn't copy my comment before hitting post, and if it doesn't show up in the moderation queue, I may not have time to rewrite it.

Tim Enloe said...

John, I'm going out of my way to isolate MY comments from anything to do with Dr. White's disagreements with Geisler. I know very little about those, and I do not wish to say things that someone might construe as some sort of "attack" on Dr. White (or any of his friends).

I am not the same person I was between, say, 2003 and late 2007. I can't ask anyone to forget anything that was said or done during that period, but my appearance on this blog NOW, in 2011, is not the same sort of appearance as I would have been making then. I am not here, in other words, to calumniate. White or any of his friends. None of my remarks should be construed in that fashion, and I hope they will not be.

Tim Enloe said...

Rhology, would you please clarify under what conditions you think it is justifiable to question someone's regeneration? Thanks.

James, so Geisler is "sloppy with soteriology." Who isn't sloppy with something in his Christian life? I am sure you agree that God saves us ("save" meaning not just regeneration, but the whole process from regeneration to final judgment) in spite of our theology, not because of it. Sloppiness in theology is not a crime; it's just human, and, to borrow a phrase from Paul in a different context, "and such were some of you, but you were washed." No personal rebuke to you intended but merely a statement of general principle, all of us - even we Reformed - are required to look into the perfect mirror of the Word and NOT go away forgetting what manner of men we are.

aztexan, don't forget in your zeal to condemn, that you yourself have nothing that you were not given, and that at the end of the day, it will not be your zealotry for sound doctrine that gains you entrance into heaven, since you, like everyone else, will approach the Lord on That Day wringing your hands and saying, "Have mercy on me, a sinner! Having done all I could do, I was still an unprofitable servant."

Rhology said...

would you please clarify under what conditions you think it is justifiable to question someone's regeneration? Thanks.

Sure. I was just thinking of someone who said they were a Christian b/c they were born that way.
More pointedly, someone who, for example, claimed to be a brother but had his father's wife (1 Cor 5). A zillion examples in post-Christian America come to mind.

John Bugay said...

Tim, I got the "tremendously useful" from the first paragraph of Dr. White's Introduction to "The Potter's Freedom". He goes on to say that Geisler is "a wonderfully personable man, and I can say I have enjoyed more than one lunch and dinner with him over the years."

Just this morning, I was listening to the Dividing Line program in which Norman Geisler claims to be the first "major" scholar to critique Calvinism. Geisler did come of sounding like anything but a scholar.

It's hard to say what happened between point A and point B. I certainly haven't kept up with what Geisler's been doing. I thought his "Is Rome the True Church" was very comprehensive in that it treated almost all of the various claims, but also shallow -- he didn't consider anything in very much depth.

Maybe he's just getting old. Or he has too much time on his hands. I just hear the traffic cop saying, "ok, nothing to see here, move along."

aztexan said...

Enloe: >>aztexan,...your zeal to condemn,...your zealotry...<<

Do tell, Tim: what, in your opinion, sounds zealously condemnatory about, "... We need to be praying for their conversion; the rest will sort itself out mas rapido should any (or all, Lord willing) of these men be graciously brought to saving faith in Christ."?

Again, I have a higher tolerance for Arminianism than for illiteracy.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Hi John,

I listened to, that is, watched, the video excerpt of the Divding Line. My take is a little different. I took Geisler's comments to mean that he thinks he is the first major scholar to take on James White and his "friends" on the issue of Calvinism, not that he is the first major scholar to ever take on Calvinism. He's certainly incorrect in the first instance and may be incorrect in the second--Dr. White could say. But I can't believe that he is either that stupid or that self-important to think that he is the only major scholar who ever really confronted Calvinism. It doesn't make any sense taking his words that way.

If I'm wrong then I've got some even more fundamentally serious issues with Dr. Geisler than I thought. As it is, his whole response (if from him) to The Potter's Freedom, as well as his collusion in the Ergun Caner cover up, gives me serious pause when considering his qualifications to teach me anything.

I do have to agree with Tim in that I am loath to question the regeneration of someone who names the name of Christ as his Lord and Saviour. I believe there are times when we must discern such things; I'm not sure this is one of them. I generally reserve such judgements for those who are stuck in cults and quasi-Christian sects, but I'm open to dialogue on the matter. I know some strongly believe that Arminianism falls into those categories. I believe it is serious error, but like Tim, I would never say that we are saved by our doctrine. We are saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of the errors we cling to our salvation is secure in Him if we belong to Him.

Your thoughts?

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

John Bugay said...

Pilgrim, I guess you could say, after further review, that the conversation between Geisler and the interviewer was a bit muddled, and there was a point at which it could be said that Geisler may have been directing his "no major scholar" point against James White and his followers, but the rest of the context clearly is talking about Calvinists in general, and Dr. White clearly took him to be saying that "no major scholar in the last 400 years" has addressed this.

I do have to agree with Tim in that I am loath to question the regeneration of someone who names the name of Christ as his Lord and Saviour. I believe there are times when we must discern such things; I'm not sure this is one of them.

I understand what Rhology is saying, and that is, my intention in pointing this quote out to James Swan was to show how Geisler's man-centered soteriology runs deep.

The question is not (and should not be) "Is Geisler saved?" The question rather, is, "should Geisler be teaching, or in a teaching position, given his "muddled" thinking on salvation?"

This is difficult, because even if you say "no, Geisler should not be teaching," then who's going to stop him? He's set himself up as a co-founder of a Seminary, and so ...

The problem of individuals who set themselves up as not accountable to anyone -- whether it's the papacy, or Oral Roberts -- have always been a major challenge to Christianity.

Augustine (and the church as a whole) has spent years dealing with Pelagian teachings. Arminianism is an echo of that teaching. Geisler seems to believe (and the interviewer believes) that Geisler has come up with some kind of "solution" to the Calvinism/Arminianism divide: Call "Calvinists" "extreme" and muddle what Arminianism teaches.

I honestly don't have a good grasp of all the issues, but Wikipedia reports this about Geisler's "middle of the road" position:

Geisler claims to be a "moderate Calvinist". Geisler rejects the traditional Calvinistic concepts of unconditional election (arguing that there is no condition only on God's part), irresistible grace (arguing instead that God persuades those who are "receptive to God's work") and limited atonement (arguing that the atonement is limited only in result). Yet critics reject the term "moderate Calvinism". James White calls it "merely a modified form of historic Arminianism." Michael Horton notes that historically "moderate Calvinism" referred to Amyraldianism, but "Geisler’s position is much further from Calvinism than Amyraldianism." While Geisler contrasts his position with what he calls "extreme" Calvinism, he does concede that "theologians we classify as extreme Calvinists consider themselves simply ‘Calvinists’ and would probably object to our categorizing them in this manner."

Life is short, and if we don't choose our battles wisely, they will choose us. As I've noted here, I am not qualified to speak definitively on intra-Protestant disagreements (although I do have my opinions); but I do hope to focus on the Protestant/Catholic divide, in which I do have some knowledge to go with my opinion (the latter of which was formed only after a lifetime of study of the question, in which I spent many years of my life on the Catholic side), and that's where I want to focus my energies.

John Bugay said...

On the topic of Rapprochement Between Calvinists and Arminians which Roger Olson has called for, Paul Manata has pointed out a serious difficulty with these types of discussions

Olson had said, "When I say “Calvinism makes it difficult to tell the difference between God and the devil” I AM NOT saying Calvinists believe there is no difference between God and the devil (or even very little difference). No one hearing or reading me could think that is what I’m saying. Everyone knows Calvinists do not believe that and nothing in my words indicates that they do. I am clearly saying that FOR ME Calvinism makes it difficult to tell the difference."

Manata noted that that's like saying this:

Question: Does this response by Smith make it all better, moving things towards rapprochement with Jones: “When I say “Jones’s mom makes it difficult to tell her apart from a loose, slutty, crack smoking whore” I AM NOT saying Jones believe there is no difference between his mom and a loose, slutty, crack smoking whore (or even very little difference). No one hearing or reading me could think that is what I’m saying. Everyone knows Jones does not believe that and nothing in my words indicates that he does. I am clearly saying that FOR ME I can’t tell the difference between Mrs. Jones and a loose, slutty, crack smoking whore.” ?

I think it's worth a look.

aztexan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aztexan said...

*enthusiastic applause @ Manata* Hear, hear. Not sure what, if anything, he is "smoking," but Roger Olson is a loose, slutty whore (spiritually speaking). If the Lord doesn't pluck him from the fire, ol' Rodge will end up roasting with his late bestie, Pinnock.

John Bugay said...

Hi aztexan -- I agree with you that these folks need to be challenged, though, maybe as Matthew Schultz has suggested, we ought to do it (following 1 Peter) "with gentleness and respect".

I know I've gotten a bit rowdy with Roman Catholics, but I really hope to be gracious and respectful to all fellow Protestants. One of my unstated hopes in trying to focus all of Christian history on the Reformation, is to try to show even those from the Arminian tradition where "Calvinism" comes from, in such a way that they'll be able to understand why Calvin needed to write some things the way he did.

James Swan said...

I see that I've got quite a mountain of comments that have built up. I appreciate those of you who've taken the time to respond to this entry.

1. If your comments are taking any sort of opposing view to that which I've posted, I have one simple question: Have you read Geisler's Chosen But Free?

2. I have nothing against Dr. Geisler personally, nor do I doubt his Christian testimony or membership in the covenant community. I've never made an "outrageously uncharitable judgment that he is unregenerate." Perhaps others in this comment box have, but not I. As I've stated, I have quite a number of Geisler's books, and I've even been to his seminars. I probably have more of Geisler's books than I do either Sproul's, or Dr. White's, or any other particularly Reformed author.

3. Rhology made a good point when he stated of Geisler vs Kurtz, "Here he is, with the chance to share the Gospel, and that's the best he can do?" Granted, I haven't listend to the entirety of this exchange in quite a few years, and I don't recall exactly what Dr. Geisler stated elsewhere during the exchange. However, the comment I've singled out that Geisler made simply neuters the Christian faith. Tim Enloe responds, "we all say imprecise things sometimes, I think we can all afford to give Geisler a little benefit of the doubt on this point, don't you?" That's true as well. I've done my share of public speaking, and it isn't always the case that an improvised statement comes out perfectly. However, Geisler's statement is quite consistent with his views expressed in Chosen But Free on the will, sin, and regeneration.

-continued-

James Swan said...

4. Tim Enloe states, "It seemed to me an attack on the veracity of Geisler's faith - which seemed suspicious to me because Geisler is not exactly anyone's favorite around here." The post was meant to augment a current set of aomin entries. If the post was an attack on Geisler, it was in this sense: his theological paradigms lead him to argue for Christianity in very muddled ways. There is simply a difference in the way an anti-Reformed Arminiain (for lack of a better term) argues for and expresses Christianity in dialog with those opposed to the faith. In this instance, the miraculous Gospel was turned into a reasonable choice. In my opinion, a virgin giving birth to Deity, and then Deity dying on a cross will never be a truth that can be reasoned to by a heart enslaved to sin.

5. "I responded, but got the message "We cannot complete your request." There was nothing in the spam box. I publish all the comments in the spam box, even duplicates. There are a few Romanists banned from commenting, which can probably be counted on one hand. There's also one crypto-Lutheran who's been irksome, but he's not banned.

6. "I'm going out of my way to isolate MY comments from anything to do with Dr. White's disagreements with Geisler." I think it would be worthwhile to read Dr. White's response to Dr. Geisler, particularly on this subject.

7. "James, so Geisler is "sloppy with soteriology." Who isn't sloppy with something in his Christian life?" Tim, I'm going to lay the same criticism at you that I do many of the Romanists in their Luther materials, and I do so, not with any intent to be demeaning. If you haven't read either Chosen But Free or The Potter's Freedom, you're winging it. You need to actually read the materials before commenting on them.

Rhology is right. I haven't called Dr. Geisler a heretic or a pelagian, or whatever. However, non-Reformed soteriology can lead to some puzzling statements when placed in the arena of ideas. Is Christianity simply a set of truths that one acquiesces to after research? Or, is Christianity a barbaric bloody thing that deals with a crucified savior, holiness, sin, salvation, life, death, touching the deepest cords of one's soul?

Well, it's time for church. If I have more time later, I'll post some further responses.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hey Fellow Beggars,

What do you think of this post (and please do read it all):

Let 95% Roll Off Your Back.

Here's an excerpt (bud do read the post in its entirety):

"I wonder how many of us in my field could be accused of being a friend of the theologically wayward. I wonder how many Calvinists could be accused of being a friend of Arminians. How many Arminians could be accused of being a friend of Calvinists. God forbid that any Reformed fella be a friend of a Catholic!
I remember not too long ago when I was talking positively about Francis Beckwith (that damn Catholic turncoat!), and someone in my camp looked as me like my Luther Latte (which I got at the Credo House!) had been laced with something. “He is a heretic. You should carry him in such a way. Don’t say anything positive about him until you qualify it by how bad he really is.

You know what? Ninety-five-percent of the time that is not my responsibility. I don’t have to qualify everything I say and everyone about whom I speak by explaining all the points of departure that we have. I don’t have to limit my circle of fellowship to only those who fit my theological leanings. I will do my best to go out of my way to show honor and grace to whomever God puts in front of me. Francis Beckwith, Paul Copan, Roger Olson, and Wayne Grudem can all come here to the Credo House and I hope they don’t sense any reservation in my love for them."

James Swan said...

I wonder how many of us in my field could be accused of being a friend of the theologically wayward

I have a few "wayward" friends that were (or still are)members of my church. Despite their lack of church attendence or denial of the gospel by a particular way of living, they're still friends.

I don't live surrounded by Christians 24/7, nor does my church function like a country club or baby sitting establishment.
I live in the world, with real people, the majority of whom are not Reformed, many aren't even Christian- so the comments you posted don't really apply to most of my daily relationships.

There are only a few people I've come across in cyber-world, that if I were to meet them in person, I'd rather not. I could probably count them on one hand. It's not so much that their theology bothers me, it's that personally I find them offensive.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Hi John,

...Dr. White clearly took him to be saying that "no major scholar in the last 400 years" has addressed this.

Well, I love Dr. White. I've read and enjoyed several of his books, including and especially The Potter's Freedom. I listen to The Dividing Line, watch and purchase his videos, buy his MP3s and spend a good deal of time at his website.

He has invested a great deal of time in challenging Geisler and his works and defending himself against Geisler's attacks on both his work and his person. But he is human like the rest of us. And I can't help but think that he's too close to the situation to hear things with much objectivity. Isn't it possible that he has become so familiar Geisler's odd theology, apologetic tactics and support for Ergun Caner to the point where he expects and is even (perhaps subconsciously) looking for idiotic statements from Geisler on which to pounce with glee? I mean, really! Geisler thinks he is the only major scholar to address Calvinism in the past 400 years? If that is indeed the case then Geisler should not only NOT be teaching, but he is showing signs of having delusions of grandeur and may need psychiatric help.

As to the other things I was saying, I would only say that I caution anyone about calling another professing believer "unregenerate" over doctrinal issues within the pale of orthodoxy as aztexan has. In the main, I think it's not a good idea to try to discern the heart of another professing individual to the point where we make conclusive pronoucements about their spiritual state.

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

natamllc said...

Wow,

want a sane reasoned series of comments in here!

Tim, you asked:

" Who isn't sloppy with something in his Christian life?"

To acknowledge the obvious, I answer, "Jesus Christ" seeing any chance you or I or all who do pass entering into His Kingdom enter in because He never one time was sloppy in His Christian Life! :)

Now, what should we gain from this?

It is rather simple, in my view, when we pray according to this:

1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"

and

Psa 67:1 To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
Psa 67:2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.


Only those "lost" in need of being found will respond to His saving power anyway! Those that don't, are, well, lost and will not be found even if Christ revealed Himself to them personally!

There really is something to be gained from grasping the fact that the demons believe and tremble! Those called, "the Righteous", they are bold as a lion! :)

The Apostle Paul's understanding of how one gains His righteousness nourishes my spirit and soul and body every time I ponder it:

Php 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Php 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Php 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--
Php 3:10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Php 3:11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Php 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Php 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
Php 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Php 3:15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
Php 3:16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Tim Enloe said...

Rhology, sure I'd agree with your qualification as stated. I was thinking, also, that someone who openly repudiates Christ, or someone who says they believe in Christ yet lives a long-term unrepentant and scandalous life. I'm less willing to allow for questioning regeneration based on, say, someone's understanding of justification, because if any of Reformed really stop and think about the edifice of Reformational doctrine on that point, it can get extremely complicated very fast, and not everyone is mentally or spiritually able to process that edifice. Justification is simple in the sense that it just means, "Believe only in Christ, and do not trust your own works for salvation." But as what that means begins to be explained in detail, it quickly gets very complicated, and I would not be comfortable (and I do not believe God has called me to) questioning someone's regeneration over the various nuances of systematic theological treatments of justification.

Rhology said...

I'm less willing to allow for questioning regeneration based on, say, someone's understanding of justification, because if any of Reformed really stop and think about the edifice of Reformational doctrine on that point, it can get extremely complicated very fast

Agreed.

Tim Enloe said...

James, thanks for your reply.

I have not said and never will say anything to the effect that "a virgin giving birth to Deity, and then Deity dying on a cross will" be "a truth that can be reasoned to by a heart enslaved to sin." I am as Calvinist as any of the rest of you on the point of utterly gratuitous monergistic regeneration.

The rest of your remarks touch on issues that are disputed within Reformed circles - issues about faith and reason and about the relationship of soteriology proper to the rest of theology. Since my purpose here is not to fight or demean, I'll just leave things where I have stated them relative to Geisler's view of reason by saying that nothing I have said about that is in any way un-Calvinistic. I may not be in line with the way you all here think about these things, but the way you all here think about these things is not the only acceptable way within the "big tent" of Calvinism. I am quite in line with Calvin, Hodge, Dabney, Berkhof, and many others whose Reformed credentials are quite impeccable.

James Swan said...

Tim,

I simply request you at least read Chosen But Free before defending Dr. Geisler's view of faith and reason. There may be ways to harmonize Dr. Geisler with Reformed theology, but this would be unfair to both Dr. Geisler and Reformed theology. Like my "Let Luther be Luther"- it's best to let "Geisler be Geisler."