Monday, April 14, 2008

More of Trey Austin

Well, it seems that Mr. Austin does not like the correction he has received by those he considers his Christian brethren, so much that he has fired off a massive, multi-post response. I have addressed his multiple posts as a group.

1. Opening Post
In which Trey uses a colorful analogy involving dung, while falsely claiming, "Notice that Dr. White never refers to any other Christian with whom he has major disagrement as “brother.”" I seem to pretty clearly recall Dr. White calling Pastor Shishko a brother in Christ, even though Dr. White disagrees majorly with Pastor Shishko on the issue of Baptism.

2. Not the Reformed View (Round II)
In which Trey complains that he has been misunderstood, and claims that he was not saying that "my point was not that my own view is only Reformed view and Jame’s White’s isn’t." He seems to be saying that he was complaining that there is a multiplicity of Reformed views on the subject - particularly on the subject of the doctrine of the Atonement. On the other hand, Trey actually wrote in his first article, "No more than you should have some Protestant Reformed theologian, who denies the free offer of the Gospel, and who denies common grace, to be the poster-child for being a Calvinist should you have James White out in the public eye representing himself and his lop-sided Calvinism as true and proper Calvinism." Actually, though, the problem is that it is Trey's contra-confessional view of the atonement (or at least the view that he seems to adopt vy his support of Ponter and company) that is "lop-sided Calvinism" if it can really be called Calvinism at all, rather than thinly-masked Amyraldianism. Again, lest Trey's new intra-Reformed ecumenicism seem sincere, recall his claim: "So, if you want Puritanism of the modern variety, James White is your man; he tows the line to a tee. But if you want real, historical Calvinism, he’s not any kind of reliable source." Now he claims, "So, understand, i’m arguing not that White’s view is not Reformed, nor am i arguing that it’s biblically wrong (though, i think it is), i am arguing that it’s only one among many Reformed views on the issue of God’s will concerning the salvation of the non-elect." (all typos in original) Judge for yourself whether that's the same argument or not.

3. Obligation to Critique Someone Else
In which Trey complains of having to deal with other subjects than the promotion of the distorted and logically incoherent view of the atonement advocated by Ponter and company. He complains that "In fact, having taken part in several forums devoted to internet apologetics, i have been increasingly convinced that it is a useless exercise that simply blakanizes positions rather than leading to understanding and mutual love." (all typos original, I think "blakanizes" is supposed to be "Balkanizes") Is it just my imagination or has the kettle of Internet apologetics been called black?

And he does so again in the same post, where he writes, "So, yes, it *IS* my business, and the business of every other Calvinist, how James White acts and how he displays a less than charitable attitude or a theological eccintricity that he presents as *THE* Reformed view, because, for good or for bad, many people will see that, recognize it as someone negative, as i do, and judge all Calvinists on that basis." (again, all typos in original) Trey's assisting those who advocate Amyraldianism-lite as though it were Calvinism, and then claims that conventional, confessional, middle-of-the-road Calvinism is not *THE* Reformed view. But if we are going to include Amyraldianism within the "Reformed View" broadly defined, then there is no strong reason to except Arminianism from the "Reformed View," in which case the Reformed label is just something we should throw away, because it has lost its meaning.

Of course, the solution is to define Reformed theology by the major standards: the WCF, the LBCF, and even the canons of Dordt. The quasi-Amyraldianism of Ponter and company is not within the boundaries of any of those.

4. I Don't Know Debate
In which Trey claims that he knows plenty about debate, and offers (based on his grade-school experience) some pointers to Dr. White. One hardly needs to provide commentary.

Trey seems to insist that he knows how better to answer questions. Thus, for example, he claims: "Hence, we can and should affirm that God desires the salvation of all the non-elect, insofar as he has commanded them to repent and believe and be saved, and insofar as he has told us plainly that it is his desire to see all men to be saved. God desires his commandments to be kept: That’s the heart of the assumption behind the preceptive will of God, and so we can rightly say that, anything God commands he desires to take place."

Of course, Dr. White fully agrees with that statement, but such a statement would only confuse the issue, which was God's sovereign desire, not his revealed will. In fact, all of those that Trey disparagingly refers to as "high Calvinists" (i.e. confessional Reformed folks) would agree that God desires (in one sense) that his commands be obeyed, and that one of his commands is that people repent and believe. But that sense is really not relevant to the debate that Dr. White was having with Mr. Gregg - a point that Trey seems willing to overlook in order to make a string of ad hominem attacks.

5. Personal Contact Needed?
In which Trey indicates that he feels justified in making his complaints public, apparently based in part (how, Trey doesn't explain) on the subsequent public response by Dr. White. While I would agree that Trey might have been wiser to have complained to Dr. White privately first, before making himself appear absurd in a public forum, I also think that if Trey is responding to a public debate, he should feel free to do so publicly. Likewise, Trey should not complain that he is being responded to publicly, since he has made his amazing accusations a public matter (and I don't think that Trey is necessarily complaining about that).

6. When Ad Hominem Arguments Go Wild
In which Trey complains that he has not seen substantiation for the claims that his initial post was ad hominem. Trey then complains that the present author's introduction to my response to Tony Byrne's post was ad hominem because I identified Tony's connection to him and to their mutual friend (and theological ally), David Ponter. This truly is laughable.

Why so? It is laughable because (1) Trey imputes motives for the identification that are both unnecessary and inaccurate, and because (2) Trey does the very same thing. As to (1), the reason for providing identification is to help the readers make the connection to the pair of attacks recently launched on Dr. White. As to (2), Trey's own self-label of "Reformed" and "Calvinist" are aimed to prejudice the reader in his favor. But I must qualify (2) a bit. It's not quite the same thing, because I've actually demonstrated the non-Reformed nature of Tony's and David's (and, it appears, Trey's) position, whereas Trey simply claims a label that doesn't belong to him.

Furthermore, returning to (1), Trey goes even further off the deep end with his false claim that "[TurretinFan]’s trying to prejudice his audience against anything we say with regard to the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement by labeling us as “Quasi-Amyraldians." This complaint is off the deep end for at least two reasons. One: as Trey himself admits, he hasn't made a positive case at all - in fact - while he's endorsed (one way or another) Ponter's position, he hasn't even made a negative position against the Reformed view of the limited atonement (as Tony and David have attempted). So, apparently (to Trey) I feel the need to rebut his position with an ad hominem, even though his position has not actually been presented. Two: it is the extent, not sufficiency, of the atonement that is at stake. If Tony, David, and company merely taught the unlimited sufficiency of Christ's death, they would be within bounds of the Calvinistic view.

Moreover, returning again to (2), Trey himself uses labels on Dr. White to discredit Dr. White's view as being the Reformed position. If it were ad hominem for me to use the label "Quasi-Amyraldian" (although I did not use it in the context of discrediting someone's argument) all the more so it must be ad hominem for Trey to use a label in the context of discrediting Dr. White's statements regarding the Reformed position.

Finally, the nail in the coffin was Trey claim that, "he also is engaging in guilt-by-association fallacy, by saying that Tony’s views are less than reliable because he is friends and in agreement with David Ponter." (a) Actually, of course, I never make such a claim. Trey's uncharitable assumption regarding the purpose for the association doesn't convert a simple making of an association with an improper use of such an association. (b) Associating people by shared beliefs for the purpose of highlighting that shared belief is not the fallacy of guilt by association: it's association by guilt. Trey would do well to get it straight. (c) Trey himself in post (1) above employed similar grouping ("his internet broadcast certainly was nothing more than an invitation to his sycophants to flood the blogosphere with responses"). (d) In Trey's grouping, the inference was much harsher and prejudicial than in mine (comrades [mine] vs. sycophants [his]).

I hope Trey will see the error of his position, both with respect to Dr. White, but more importantly with respect to the Ponter position on the atonement.

If we believe in a Vicarious Atonement (and the Reformed church does) then those for whom Christ died - the elect nation for whom our High Priest offered His once-for-all sacrifice - will be saved. We should still affirm that Christ's death is, as to its intrinsic worth, sufficient for all. But Christ is the good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep.

But here's my challenge to Trey Austin, who hands out debating tips to Dr. White. I have a debate blog all set up, and I've debated folks there before. If you'd like, we can debate (in writing) from Scripture the doctrine of the Atonement. I will take the view expressed in the Westminster Standards (WLC):

Question 59: Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?

Answer: Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ has purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.

If Trey believes that redemption was purchased for others to whom it will never be applied or effectually communicated, or who will never in time be enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel, then I hope he'll take up the challenge. I'm 100% ready to defend the true doctrine expressed in WLC 59 against any taker - whether it be Trey, Tony, David, or anyone else.

-TurretinFan

8 comments:

GeneMBridges said...

In which Trey complains of having to deal with other subjects than the promotion of the distorted and logically incoherent view of the atonement advocated by Ponter and company. He complains that "In fact, having taken part in several forums devoted to internet apologetics, i have been increasingly convinced that it is a useless exercise that simply blakanizes positions rather than leading to understanding and mutual love." (all typos original, I think "blakanizes" is supposed to be "Balkanizes") Is it just my imagination or has the kettle of Internet apologetics been called black?

The point of such engagement is not to win an argument.

The point is not to "lead to mutual understanding and love." I could really care less if a Roman Catholic or Atheist, for example, loves or likes me or what I have to say to him.

I care about his eternal soul.

And one of the major points I was making in pointing this out is that it is massively hypocritical - yes, I used the H word - to criticize people for allegedly denying the "well meant offer" or not holding to a particular view of the atonement - in this case a "multiple intentions view" and then refuse - out and out REFUSE and do nothing but throw a hissy fit when told that what you say you believe and what you actually do with your belief don't match and that to be taken more seriously, you should ante up and demonstrate that you believe what you say we either don't, should address, or are in danger of losing.

Why should we take what they say seriously when they do nothing to interact with the very people to whom the "well meant offer" is actually made? You, Dr. White, Steve Hays, Manata, Pike, Chan, Andrew Lindsay, James Swan, the "Dawgs" at Fide-O, and many others are on our blogs dealing with these false gospels, atheists, Romanists, Muslims, etc.- and what do we find at Byrne's blog (to take just one example) - nothing but discussions of the "Well Meant Offer" what such and such theologian supposedly believed, etc. What do we get when we confront him with that - long winded posts, often larded with condescension that basically say "How dare you say such a thing in public!"

And, yes,I know I keep harping on this - and I do that for a reason, to make it well known that it's not the content of what they believe about the atonement that I find objectionable - it's this constant cycle of berate and complain coming from them - to the exclusion of all else.

Turretinfan said...

On a semi-related note.

Considering that such a large percentage of Dr. White's debates are with folks who would be considered by the Reformers to be outside the visible church, I wonder who it is that Trey thinks Dr. White should have been calling "brother"?

I mean other than, obviously, Steve Gregg. Has Trey even seen the list of Dr. White's debates?

Turretinfan said...

Martin,

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your concern, and the time you took typing out Bible verses such as:

13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Gal 5)
and
"Why not rather be wronged?" (1 Cor 6:7)

Likewise: "Scripture says "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Rom 14:19)."

Unfortunately, your comments appear to have reached me in some sort of incomplete form, as they break off in the middle of a sentence.

In any event, I do hope for Trey's restoration, but the main purpose of this series was to defend my friend and brother, Dr. White, from scurrilous charges.

Furthermore, from my perspective, Trey's attack ultimately was on Dr. White on account of the fact that Dr. White promotes the truth about the atonement. I have passed on responding to other folks who simply called Dr. White a big meanie.

None of the verses above (or anything else in Scripture) in the slightest suggest that I should not come to my brother's aid when he is falsely accused, or that I must permit the truth to be misrepresented in silence.

I hope you agree.

-Turretinfan

Jeff said...

Love your blog! You are doing a very great service for me personally and I'm sure for others as well.

By the way, I am a proud owner of Turretin's 3 volume elenctic theology set and love what I've been able to read so far. I use it often as a great reference, but would really love to dedicate time to reading it cover to cover. It's a bit more challenging to find time in between my new part time job of changing diapers, but still do-able. I'm thinking it's never too early to read Turretin to the little guy :)

Anyway, really just wanted to pass along a note of encouragement. Keep up the great work in service for the King of Kings!

Thanks again,
Jeff

Turretinfan said...

Thanks, Jeff! It's always a pleasure to meet a fellow fan of Turretin!

-TurretinFan

PuritanReformed said...

Gene Bridges:

Amen. It bothers me then, and continue to bother me now, that Tony Byrne is only interested in one single [minor] topic while not doing anything to engage those outside the faith.

Turretinfan said...

It is sad to see so much time and energy poured into the "Calvin and Calvinism" movement.

If the same energy had been directed toward something more profitable, how greatly could Christ's body have been edified.

PuritanReformed said...

Turretinfan:

Amen.