Here is the follow up reply to Dr. White’s latest DL response to the video above: HERE
As many of you already know, I will be debating Dr. James White, of Alpha & Omega Ministries, in two weeks (jeez…I just broke into a cold sweat after merely typing that sentence).
This is my first theological debate and some might say I have chosen to jump into the deep end; while others might better describe me as being at the bottom of the deep end and in need of someone to dive in and save me.
After weeks of listening to Dr. White, I cannot disagree with either of them. He is an accomplished debater and, well, let’s face it, we are discussing arguably the most difficult of all the biblical passages to explain from our soteriological perspective. This will not be easy, to say the least.
I’ll be honest. It’s much more comfortable to sit behind this screen and think through my answers, craft them, and then only after much deliberation (and several rounds of editing) posting my perspective. A live debate forces you to craft your words on the spot, something Dr. White has clearly mastered. I, on the other hand, anxiously anticipate finding out my skill level along with the rest of the world on the evening of May 7th…
The picture on this article was sent to me by one of the more…let’s just say “enthusiastic” supporters of Dr. White (with the caption “Prepared to be Squashed”), and while it does not serve to calm my fears it did provide me a nervous chuckle. I figured I could at least use it to appeal to those who like Cinderella stories or rooting for the underdog. 😉
As I reminded the twitter audience, I did not agree to this debate because I am under the delusion that I, a woefully under-experienced debater, might “defeat” Dr. White at his trade. What does it mean to “win” a debate anyway?
- Sound more intelligent than your opponent?
- Come across as better prepared than your opponent?
- Think faster on your feet so as not to appear stumped by any random question that is posed?
If so, I’ve already lost. For all those seeking that “victory” you can have it. Go ahead and give Dr. White his trophy and take your laps now so by the time of the debate we can actually engage a meaningful discussion. My goal is not to “win” but to be understood. I seek truth not victory. I’m not seeking to embarrass or trap or corner my opponent in a contradiction, and based on what I’ve heard from Dr. White I do not believe that is his motive in engaging debates either. I hope we are seeking to explain and defend our perspective clearly. I pray our goal is to openly seek Paul’s true inspired intentions as he penned these words to the first century church of Rome.
In my preparations thus far I’ve especially found it difficult to narrow down the material so as to cover the most pertinent of issues given the time restraints. Much of this has to do with the massive amounts of misrepresentations and misunderstandings about our views of election. I have re-written my opener about 6 times now and I’m still unsettled on where to go with it (more cold sweating).
The difficultly lies largely in feeling as if there is not a single Calvinist in the world who understands our point of view rightly. I know that is an overstatement, but it honestly feels that way at times given that I’ve listened to dozens and dozens of debates, podcasts, webcasts and sermons on this topic and have yet to find one Calvinistic scholar engage our soteriological perspective. Prove me wrong, PLEASE! I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong on this point. Find me a recording of a Calvinistic scholar who engages our perspective of Romans 9. I’m tempted to offer a reward, because I am about tapped out.
Braxton Hunter (a more qualified debater from my perspective who I highly recommend listening to if you have not already) wrote a blog on this point not long ago titled, “Talking past each other.” Picking up on that theme I recently wrote another article over the all too common “Accusation of Misrepresentation.” I won’t repeat the points of these two articles, as you can view them for yourself if your are interested, but I mention them by way of making an appeal to my debate opponent, Dr. White.
Can we please define our terms? Much of the debate is simply understanding what your opponent means when he uses a term. For instance, we both would gladly affirm that creatures have freedom and are responsible, but you and I are far from agreement on what constitutes moral freedom and responsibility. Likewise, we both affirm divine sovereignty, yet our definitions could not be more distinct. You will no doubt be arguing in support of God’s divine election, but so will I. We simply define the concept of divine election from two totally different perspectives, which based on what I have heard in your other debates you have yet to really engage (listen to the video or podcast message to hear what I mean).
Would it be helpful for us both to provide definitions for these often misunderstood terms:
- Creaturely Freedom
- Moral Responsibility
- Permit (‘bare permission’ or just plain ol’ permission)
- Determine, Ordain, Decree, Author, Create, Originate, Make, Cause, Compel, Draw, or any of the verbs one may want to employee to describe God’s choices/actions in relation to man’s choice/actions.
I have defined these terms from my perspective and clarified my views on Romans 9 in the video/podcast linked above.
I hope you will respond before the debate with your own definitions. Thank you for your time.
For more on the accusation of misrepresentation: READ THIS ARTICLE