Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Potter's Fredom vs. Chosen But Free - Part 3

I am continuing my series of responses (part 1, part 2) to reviews of Chosen But Free, with a particular emphasis on how I think the students who prepared these reviews might benefit from the rebuttal provided in Dr. James White's book, "The Potter's Freedom." The numbering of the reviews picks up from the previous post.

20. ahrang

This review praises Geisler for holding a balanced view. With respect, I think the reviewer might gain a better perspective on Geisler's position by reading the rebuttal provided by Dr. James White's response, "The Potter's Freedom." Likewise, the reviewer indicated that he thought that the book gave him a better perspective on other people's views. Again, I think that if he read "The Potter's Freedom," he would realize that Geisler has presented a number of caricatures which, like the "robot" comment provided in the review, misrepresent the Calvinist position.

21. Theo 202

This review focuses on the issue of what the cause of sin is. The reviewer ultimately takes the position that man is responsible for his own sins. This is, of course, correct. I think the reviewer may be surprised to learn that the Arminian/Calvinist controversy (what the reviewer calls "theological unrest") is not about who has the moral responsibility for sin. Both agree that man is morally responsible for his own sins.

22. Dance My Dreams

This review starts off by suggesting that the whole Calvinism debate is a waste of time. Nevertheless, the reviewer raises a few objections:
God is omniscent, he knows everything and sees everything even when you get saved but you have to be willing to accept him on your own. He has foreknowledge, for example: he knows what our major is going to be before we do. He has a certain path that he wants us to take but it’s up to us to decide if we want to follow it. However our lives are not permanantly fixed. Things change according what road we take.
This objection is easily answered. Even if God only "fore-sees" the future, can God possibly be wrong? Couldn't God write down all the future that will be in stone tablets right now? And if God did so, would anyone be able to make God a liar? Of course not. Even if God only sees the future, the future is fixed. We can't change the future - we can live it out, and we can bring it into being by our actions, but we cannot change what God has already seen - what he might as well have written in stone.

The reviewer than argued:
I refer back to my point earlier on Christ gives us free will is given to all we choose to accept Christ, ourselves not God himself. Plus why do we witness to people then? Imean if Christians are elect then what’s the point of sharing Christ? I guess you would say it is poinless and a waste of time to try. We would eventually deny alot of scripture. Which is not biblical because God gave us scripture to share the gospel and learn from it ourselves. Do we have to belttle Christ’s words and gifts that much? T
But this too is readily answered. We don't change the future, but we do bring about the future. Our actions are the means to an end. We evangelize others because we love them. God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, as the Scripture says. Nevertheless, God uses us to bring that about, through evangelization.

But the question the reviewer might consider asking is "why do we pray for people to get saved?" Does God have any control over that? If God is powerless, why pray for the salvation of our friends? But I think the reviewer knows that God is not powerless to save people. Instead, God is able to change the very heart of man. God can transform someone from a god-hating atheist to a God-loving believer. All the glory and credit for that goes to the power of God, not to the free will of man.

23. Theo 202 blogs

This review particularly liked appendix five of Geisler's book, in which Geisler attempts to address certain passages of Scripture. I think this reviewer would really love The Potter's Freedom, because that book spends a very substantial amount of space in providing a detailed analysis of some of the central Biblical texts in the discussion.

24. In Christ Alone

This review focused on chapters three and four of Geisler's book, "Who's in Charge?" and "Why Blame Me?" I suspect that this reviewer would be happy to find that we agree with the points he took away, namely that God is in charge and that we are to blame when we sin.


This review was the first review to be sharply critical of Geisler's book. It recommend J. I. Packer's "Knowing God," as a better alternative. I bet the reviewer would find "The Potter's Freedom" to be a breath of fresh air in terms of tackling each of Geisler's points and demonstrating the mistakes, while explaining what the Scriptures have to say about the topic.

26. kristin5129

This review remarkably took the position that Geisler didn't take sides in the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. Still, the reviewer indicated an appreciation for the need to search the scriptures more diligently. Perhaps this reviewer would enjoy Dr. White's still more diligent searching of the Scriptures in "The Potter's Freedom."

27. Jordan's Blog

This review focused on chapter 4 (Why Blame Me?). The review boils down to an affirmation of the idea that men are to be blamed because they have "free will." The review seems to miss - at least to some extent - the fact that the real issue is the fact that men have a will, as opposed to the fact that it is, in some sense, "free." Jonathan Edwards' "Freedom of the Will," provides an excellent explanation of the difference.

28. Theology 202: The Debates

This review presented some agreement with Geisler's position, and in particular argued against "extreme Calvinism" on the basis of omnibenevolence:
I disagree with the extreme Calvinist view that God is not really all loving since I do believe that God loves the world. I do not define the word love by any official dictionary but I define the word love according to 1 Corinthians 13. I believe that He demonstrate His love for us by being patient, kind, justice, and forgiving to all of mankind. He provides a way for us to escape the punishment of sin for everyone that believes in His son.
Let's explore this argument. Is Hell real? Yes. Does God forgive those in hell? Clearly he does not, for they are in hell. Is he kind to them? Well, he's torturing them for eternity. Is he patient with them? He may have been patient with them previously, but his patience for them has run out. Now, they are in hell. Does he provide them with a way of escape? Maybe he did before they were in hell, but he does not now that they are in hell. Using the very criteria that this reviewer has selected, therefore, we can see that God is not strictly speaking omnibenevolent. Perhaps the reviewer will insist that God is still very benevolent, and I would agree with that. But without omnibenevolence, the reviewer's central objection to what Geisler has misleading labelled "extreme Calvinism" collapses.

29. Nora's Blog

This review focuses on the issue of limited atonement. The reviewer adopts Geisler's bad nomenclature of "Extreme Calvinist" to describe those who hold to this Calvinist position. The reviewer actually goes so far as to state that Calvinists reject substitionary atonement. The reviewer stated:
Calvinists go even further in their disagreement of limited atonement by rejecting substitutionary atonement. Substitutionary atonement teaches that Jesus died as a substitution for all humankind. Calvinists reject substitutionary atonement simply because it is in direct discord with their belief that Jesus did not die for all of human kind, but rather for His exclusive elect
This could hardly be farther from the truth. The substitutionary atonement is Jesus dying in the place of his people. Only those who hold to limited atonement can properly affirm this doctrine, since only those who hold to limited atonement can say that Christ actually substituted himself for his people. Those who hold to a universal atonement must make Christ's work non-substitutionary, at least with respect to those in hell. If you are suffering for your sins in hell, Christ has not suffered instead of you - at best according to those who hold to a universal atonement, Christ has suffered in addition to you.

30. Meredith Ann's Blog

This review was another favorable review of Geisler's book. The reviewer focused on issues related to forgiveness and the atonement. But the reviewer's comments seemed to be confused. For example, the reviewer wrote:
Finally, Geisler speaks about whether certain gifts, such as faith, is only given to elect people. (page 228-237) However, specifically speaking about forgiveness on page 232-233; Geisler notes that forgiveness is a gift. This is solely because Christ died on the cross. Because of His death and forgave us of all of our sins, which in my opinion is a pretty nice gift to receive. Geisler also mentions that the gift of forgiveness is not just for elect people. The gift of forgiveness is meant for all of believe; Acts 13:38-39. I completely agree with Geisler on this view point. Mainly because if forgiveness was only for elect people, then what would our faith really be based on? John 3:16 states that “For God so loved the WORLD…”, not “For God so loved the riches people in the nation.” It completely invalidates the claim that Christ came into this world to forgive us, but yet only a handful of people will actually be allowed to receive his forgiveness. This is why I approve of Geisler’s response to the concept of forgiveness.
Perhaps the reviewer should consider that if our sins our forgiven, there is no judgment. If God has forgiven us all of our sins, then we will not go to hell, because God cannot justly punish a sin that He has forgiven.

On the other hand, if God has not forgiven everyone their sins, then forgiveness is only for a subset of people. In fact, the very verse that the reviewer quoted proves this, for it does not stop at "For God so loved the world," but continues "that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "Whosoever believeth" is not "everyone in the world" it is "everyone who believes." It is a subset. All are offered forgiveness, if they will repent of their sins and trust in Christ, but not everyone receives the forgiveness of sins.

(I will attempt to address some more reviews in a subsequent post.)


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