Friday, May 06, 2011

The Potter's Freedom (Cont'd)

Earlier, I posted a response to some reviews of one of Dr. Geisler's books.

It has come to my attention that there are even more reviews of Geisler's Chosen But Free, by a group of students who seem to be unaware of the rebuttal of this work in The Potter's Freedom.

8. The Lovely Insights of Stacey

This review deals with two topics: first the topic of the alleged consequences of "extreme Calvinism." The alleged consequences are not an accurate depiction of Calvinistic churches, as A. W. Pink has demonstrated. The second topic is the issue of perseverance. While I obviously agree with the conclusion that those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will never "lose their salvation," such a position is a little untenable for those who think they get salvation by a free will decision. If that is how you get salvation, then why can't you lose it that way too? The solution to the dilemma is the Biblical doctrine of monergism: that salvation from start to finish is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.

9. Reverie Reality

This review, it calls itself a review after all, doesn't address much of the substance of the work. It says Geisler takes a "balanced" approach. I think if the reviewer had read The Potter's Freedom (a response to Chosen But Free), he might get a more balanced perspective. At least, that way he would have heard both sides.

10. ABAIR1013

This review likewise claimed that Geisler takes a "balanced" approach. Like several of the other reviews, this review focused most intently on the "ideas have consequences" aspect. The review actually identified a few points:
Calvinism leads to a failure to accept responsibility because of the belief that all is decided in advance (Geisler 161).
Yet Calvinists don't fail to accept responsibility. This alleged consequence is actually a caricature.
Nothing is your fault because you were going to have done it anyway. This line of thinking also leads to blaming God for the evil in the world (Geisler 162).
Yet Calvinists do hold that things are your fault, and Calvinists place the blame for evil on man, especially on Adam.
If God planned every moment of history than evil had to be apart of his plan. Calvinism also lays the groundwork for universalism, in questioning why would God not plan for all to be saved (Geisler 164).
This sword has two sides. Affirming God's omnipotence is one necessary principle for universalism - but the other is universal saving desire. If you have both, you end up as a universalist. Calvinism doesn't end up in universalism, because Calvinism rightly recognizes that God creates some vessels of mercy and other vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction. That is the Potter's freedom.
A belief in a predestined life undermines a trust in the love of God and the motivation for salvation (Geisler 164).
Calvinists love God even more, because they realize that it was entirely the gift of God and that they were in every way undeserving. They can trust God for their salvation, because they know it is entirely in His hands: what He has begun, he will finish. The motivation for salvation? Isn't that an interesting way of putting it. I understand what the reviewer means, though: the motivation to "get saved." But the motivation is quite clear and doesn't depend on whether God determines your choices or not. The motivation is repent and believe or perish in your sins!
Calvinism also undermines the belief in a need for intercessorary prayer because how could our pleas change what God has already planned to happen (Geisler 165).
This is the most bizarre. Are you praying for God to change the future? I hope not! God sees what the future is. Are you asking God to change that? I don't know anyone who prays that way. You are asking God to take action, not change the future. But what about praying for people's salvation? Only Calvinists can consistently pray for that, because only Calvinists believe that God can save whom He wills.

11. Sarah Anne's Blog

This review focuses on the issue of eternal security. The reviewer expresses her appreciation for Geisler pointing out "the four views" on the issue: "extreme Calvinism," "moderate Calvinism," "Arminianism," and "John Wesley." I hope that the reviewer will consider reading The Potter's Freedom, so that she can see what an actual Calvinist teaches on the subject. We Calvinists, after all, don't buy into Geisler's labels (I'm not sure Wesleyan Arminians do, either).

12. KLTaverna

This review addressed a few points off the beaten path. The first issue noted by the reviewer was the discussion of the fact that God is even in control of the evil angels. The second issue was the issue of God's love. The reviewer found the following compelling: "if God loves only the elect, then He is not Omnibenevolent. God cannot be all-loving if He does not love all" But think about it: does God love those in hell and desire their salvation? Is Hell (eternal torture and suffering) an expression of God's love for men? Surely not. God is all good, but God does not love all mankind in the same way. Hell is real.

Finally, this reviewer touched on Geisler's "three drowning boys" example. At this point I really wished that the reviewer could have the opportunity to read the counter-example provided in The Potter's Freedom. In The Potter's Freedom, Dr. White provides a counter-example that is so much closer to the reality of the situation that it is really eye-opening. He points out that sinners are not like boys drowning while to engage in some harmless swimming fun. Instead, sinners are like arsonists inside a house that they themselves lit on fire.

13. Acceptance by Grace

This review is more of an expression of the reviewers thoughts on free will and predestination than a formal review of the book. While I would be happy to explain to her why I don't believe there is a conflict between the two (once free will is properly understood, as Jonathan Edwards so eloquently explained), I don't see much value in going line-by-line through her comments and responding to them in this context.

14. Herzy's Blog

This review presents some arguments as opposed to simply thoughts on the subject. Perhaps it makes sense to address them:
The Calvinists point is that because of certain verses in the Bible that Jesus among others point to the idea that there are certain people who have been chosen to go to Heaven even before they were born while others were eternally condemned to Hell. I find that hard to agree with because God did not choose only certain people to become members. One reason why is because Christ would not have come to Earth to die if He had already known that they would come to Heaven regardless of Jesus’ sacrifice. The fact that Jesus came to Earth and sacrificed Himself for the sake of sinners shows that He came to save all of His people. And when I say all people, I mean all the people that God created so everyone on Earth.
a) God did, however, choose only certain people to become members. This is what is known in Scripture as "election." It is God choosing.

b) The elect are saved by Christ's death, not "regardless of Christ's death." Calvinists are not fatalists, who believe that God simply ordains the ends and doesn't ordain the means. God sent his only begotten son that "whosever believeth on Him" (that group of all the believers is also known as the elect) should not perish but have everlasting life.

c) The reviewer was right when he said "all of His people." But the reviewer was wrong when he said "all the people that God created so everyone on Earth." Is Christ a failure? Surely not. Christ will save all those whom Christ came to save. That's not everyone - it's "whosoever believes."

15. A Little Bit About Life

This review indicates an appreciation for the fact that Geisler seeks to support his view from Scripture. With that in mind, I think the reviewer would really enjoy The Potter's Freedom. In this answer to Geisler's work, Dr. White provides an even more in-depth study of the relevant Scripture passages.

16. Theology 202

This blog is named for the class for which this review was written. In fact, many of the reviews are on blogs that are the same: blogs specifically created for the class, and which have posts that pretty much are limited to (apparently) the posts required by the class. This review, like some of the others, expresses grief that the of Calvinism vs. Arminianism is tearing the church apart. While I appreciate the reviewer's love of peace, the issues are important issues and they are not going away. The best approach, therefore, is for us to study the Scriptures. That study can be facilitated by comparing the study set forth in Geisler's work with that set forth in The Potter's Freedom.

17. Olinca

This review took the position that Geisler provides middle ground between two extremes. This impression, however, is somewhat mistaken, as Geisler provides mostly a down-the-line Arminian view of the matter, with the exception, perhaps of the issue of "eternal security." To obtain a balanced view, the reviewer should consider picking up the Calvinist answer to Chosen But Free, namely The Potter's Freedom.

18. Salvation in Laymans Terms

This review expresses an opinion shared by some of the other reviewers that the whole Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate is foolish. Nevertheless, the reviewer indicated his appreciation for the fact that Geisler used Scripture to establish his position. Given that appreciation, I would hope that the reviwer might be persuaded to pick up a The Potter's Freedom: Calvinist response to Chosen But Free. The response is chock full of Scripture, and explores those Scriptures in depth.

19. Theo 202 with Ergun Caner

This is another blog named for the class. The author identifies himself as a "three point Calvinist," but then goes on to describe the points in a way that seems to reflect a misunderstanding of them. In fact, this is one of the criticisms of Geisler's work: his presentation does not clearly explain the so-called five points of Calvinism to readers. One of the reviewer's comments seemed especially odd:
In his book, Geisler states that God cannot be totally in charge of knowing whether or not we will choose to follow Him or not. If He knew then He would receive no grace whatsoever whenever a person chose to become a Christian.
I trust that this is simply a misrepresentation of what Geisler wrote. But to answer the substance of the comment: God does receive glory when men are saved, because that is God giving the man a gift. God gives the man a new heart, so that the man loves God, and consequently believes on Jesus. Although the man is (you might say) "choosing Jesus," it is not because of something attributable to man, but instead it is the gift of God. So, yes, God is totally in control of who will follow Him, because He shows mercy "on whom he will show mercy," as Scripture teaches.

I see that there are some more reviews as well. I will attempt to address them shortly, if the Lord wills.


1 comment:

Chafer DTS said...

I read Geisler's book and that of Dr. White. With regard to Geisler's book as I read it I found no essential difference between his position and that of Arminianism in it's core. He clearly has an incorrect view of what the word " foreknew " means in Romans 8:28-30 in his handing of it and an incorrect understanding of 1 Pet. 1:1-2 as well on the word foreknowledge. Another problem was his view which is basically Arminian when it comes to the pre faith work of the Holy Spirit which he holds it is done on each and every person and is resistable. Those 2 noted errors in his book provides all the necessary proof of his Arminianism. Dr. White's book while I may disagree with some minor things in it provided a great rebuttle to Geisler.