It first should be noted that Calvinists often appeal to mystery regarding the problem of divine culpability within their deterministic worldview:
John MacArthur was asked, “If God literally brings about everything then how can he blame me for sinning?” He answered, “I don’t know the answer to that, and I don’t know of anyone who knows the answer to that.” –John MacArthur*
John Calvin wrote, “How it was ordained by the foreknowledge and decree of God what man’s future was without God being implicated as associate in the fault as the author or approver of transgression, is clearly a secret so much excelling the insight of the human mind, that I am not ashamed to confess ignorance…”
@BurkParsons (a Calvinist with Ligonier Ministries): “Sometimes the best and most biblical answer to certain theological questions is ‘I don’t know.'”
Dr. White seems to feel my appeal to mystery regarding how mankind makes autonomously free moral choices in a world where God is infinitely all knowing is unacceptable. In doing so, he also acts as if his own view has no mystery, which is simply an unhealthy approach to a profitable theological dialogue.
Dr. White responded to my article on a Compatibilist’s explanation of homosexual desire in his most recent Dividing Line Broadcast.
Here is a “short” summary of the discussion:
- To the man (Ad Hominem):
1. One string banjo: White begins by critiquing my Soteriology blog for only covering Soteriology by suggesting this is my only area of ministry focus (i.e. “Flowers is a one-string banjo”). This assumes that I’m putting all my ministry endeavors on my soteriology blog, which is obviously not true. A simple google search would reveal I have a much broader range of ministry involvement:
I also explain HERE why I focus my attention solely on soteriology within this particular blog, not that it matters, because this is an argument ‘to the man’ rather than to the topic of discussion.
2. Self Promotion: Next, White presumes to know my motives are purely to “make a name for myself” or “gain followers” etc…(one may speculate this is based on projection not evidence, I do not know). I don’t promote myself on my blog or my podcast. I address soteriological views of scripture and confront those who I feel are interpreting scripture wrongly, just as White does toward other notable individuals. There is no reason to presume a nefarious intention.
- Appeal to Mystery:
- Everything is Mysterious: In a recent twitter conversation White attempted to force me into determinism or open theism by either denying contra-causal free will (human responsibility) or omniscience (exhaustive foreknowledge). I refused to deny either of these biblical truths and maintained that we should be silent where the scripture is silent on this issue (i.e. there is mystery). Despite the fact that MOST biblical scholars admit an element of mystery as it relates to divine omniscience and human responsibility, White acted as if my approach was unworthy of consideration and virtually discredited all of my soteriological perspectives as being one big appeal to mystery. As if the entire soteriological systematic of SBC Traditionalists (the view White knows I hold to) only appeals to mystery on every question of this debate, which of course is an absurd conclusion.
- Boethius, Lewis, Aquinas: All philosophical speculations are just that, speculative (i.e. man’s attempt to explain mysteries that the bible is not specific about). We all typically have our favorite theory. William Lane Craig, for example, prefers Molinism, White has claimed to be a compatibilist, both of which are THEORIES as to how God’s sovereignly works within the temporal world in relation to morally responsible creatures. But those are not the only philosophical theories out there, which I erroneously presumed Dr. White would understand. Some scholars appeal to the mystery of the infinite/eternal nature of divine knowledge. Thus, when I referenced the ‘eternal now view’ (God is outside of time/not temporal/his knowledge is different than ours) and the scholars that propose it (like the three listed above) I expected him to be more familiar. Apparently this is not a view White has studied, which is fine, but no reason to belittle those who reference it as not having answers to ANY of the biblical questions related to soteriology. By the way, there happens to be reference to all three of these scholars as representatives of this view HERE
- The Boethius quote in the Dividing Line Broadcast was taken out of its context. I was responding to a direct question from Dr. White asking me “what does infinitely knowing mean,” in the context of God’s omniscience and human choice. I quoted a known scholar of that philosophical view to answer his question. He mocks the quote by taking it out of its context and acting as if these three scholars were referenced as proponents of my entire Southern Baptist soteriology, which may be funny and a bit entertaining for uninformed listeners without a discerning ear, but its blatantly misrepresentative of the actual discourse.
- “It is deeper than that…it has more dimensions…that is too simplistic…it is more complex…it is a like a diamond and you are trying to flatten it out…etc”
These are all statements White makes in response to my article, which explains compatibilism in relation to homosexual desires. What White failed to understand is that I, in an intentional effort to avoid the all too common “accusation of misrepresentation,” merely copied and pasted the article written by John Hendryx (a scholarly compatibilist that Phil Johnson references). I only take Hendryx’s reference to “human desire/choices/actions” and apply them to “homosexual desire/choices/action” so as to directly superimpose compatibilism (as defined by their own scholar) onto the issue of homosexuality. I explained this so I’m not sure why White responds to the article, as if it is MY representation of compatibilism when in reality it was Hendryx’s representation directly applied to homosexuality. In other words, White mistakenly rebuts his own scholar’s explanation of compatiblistic desires and choices.
Apparently White feels Hendryx’s explanation of compatibilism is not “deep, complex, or multi-dimensional” enough (White’s own way of appealing to mystery, maybe?). Was Hendryx too clear? Should he have been less forthright about what Compatibilists teach and believe so that someone like me couldn’t come along and ask such SPECIFIC questions about how the system applies to practical issues such as homosexuality? I suppose White wishes that Hendryx was more MYSTERIOUS (i.e. “multi-dimensional, deep, complex”) in his explanations?
At one point White references Hendryx’s explanation as being “too puppet like.” Ironically, I could not agree more! That is the reason I reject compatibilism, but it doesn’t explain how White attempts to maintain his “compatibilistic” views in light of such statements represented on his broadcast and in my article.
He never actually gets SPECIFIC enough in his broadcast to answer those charges in light of the explanations of the scholars of his own view, yet ironically he ends by accusing me of not being specific.
* watch Dr. John MacArthur admit the mystery of his views HERE.