Who of all the Reformed Christians (Calvinists) on the internet is the most vilified and despised? That’s easy. James White.
James (I’ve already revealed my bias by dropping the “White”), besides many of his other activities, presents a weekly chat show “The Dividing Line” (Aomin.org under “Blog Articles). Each broadcast begins with the following admonition from the Apostle Peter to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence (respect)” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV).
Sometimes James’ humour – on the dividing line – may appear to contradict the Apostle Peter’s admonition to “do it with gentleness and reverence,” but I don’t think this is so. In general there is no doubt that no matter how strong James’ criticisms, they are done with gentleness and respect. Besides “The Dividing Line” (DL) is a different kettle of fish to his sermons and debates, where the former (DL) is less formal than the other two. For example, James would spend less time in a sermon or a debate telling us about his incredibly flashy ties and shoes, and his bicycle rides, without which all the other deep stuff on DL would be, if not spare, unconsummated.
The term “criticism,” like so many other terms – such as “argument” – has the social meaning of “saying nasty things” as well as the formal meaning of “critiquing,” that is, presenting an “argument” (a reasoned presentation of ideas). In my book, James is one of the best defenders of biblical truth. The main thing people (naturally) hate about James – and about all “Calvinists”- is his view that man plays absolutely no part in his salvation.
Here is some of what James showed me so clearly about the sovereignty of God in salvation, which I express in my own “boggy” way (my blog user name is “Bography”).
Consider John 6:44 “No one can (has the ability, the power to – Greek “dynamai”) come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
So, if you are drawn, you will logically come. And if you come, you will logically be raised up. In other words, if the Father “draws” – Greek “drags” (helko) not “woos” you – you will (logically and futuristically) be raised up. There nothing in John 6:44 about God only raising up a sinner IF he uses his “ability” to choose to come.
In John 12:32 Jesus says “when I am lifted up from the earth, I will drawall people to myself.”
“All” must mean “all kinds of people,” as only those who are drawn will come to believe, because as John 6:44 says, all (those) that God draws will be raised up on the last day. “So, if you are drawn, you will logically come. And if you come, you will logically be raised up. In other words, if the Father “draws” – Greek “drags” (helko) not “woos” you – you will (logically and futuristically) be raised up.”
The “dragging” is not of someone bursting all over with autonomy, screaming all the way to salvation: “No, no, I don’t want to be saved. I hate you God. Stick to your Sovereign bargain of keeping my autonomous will intact after death came into the world. I want nothing of this hellish “helko” stuff.
What in reality does God’s “dragging” of the sinner to himself entail; what is this biblical “dragging?” It’s this:
You’re drowning in a bog. No, it’s more radical than drowning – you’re drowned. The Father, in his mercy, dredges (drags) you up out of the mud, and breathes new life into you, not only a restored life, but a life of a completely different kind. In your boggy (sinful, spiritually dead) state, you, of course, won’t be scratching and screaming for your Father – yes, your Father, because if He is dragging you out of the mud, He has already become your Father – to take his predestinating prehensile hands off you. Instead, what will you be doing? Rejoicing, because you were dead and now you’re alive, you were locked into your desires (freely following your heart), and now you’ve been released into the real meaning of the love of God.
No one was more wretched than a Calvinist; that is why when he sings “Amazing Grace” for saving “a wretch like me,” what is more amazing than God saving me with nothing in me having anything to do with it? Thank God for giving me no say in the matter.
Joe Rutherford asks: “Are people in hell just randomly chosen to suffer the wrath of God forever, or is there a valid reason for their punishment?”
No, people are not randomly chosen to suffer in hell. God’s reasoning, as you know, is perfect. Everyone deserves hell, but God has mercy on those (whosoever) He wants to have mercy. Why God has mercy only on the ones He has chosen, and not on everyone is hidden in God’s secret decrees. It’s all in Romans 9, which is not only about Jews (like moi) but about everyone.
The Christian Science Monitor carries an article about the “surprising comeback (of Calvinist theology, which is) challenging the me-centered prosperity gospel of much of modern evangelicalism with a God-first immersion in Scripture. In an age of materialism and made-to-order Calvinism’s unmalleable doctrines and view of God as an all-powerful potentate who decides everything is winning over many Christians – especially the young.”
I pray that James will continue for many more years to hammer home the “unmalleable doctrines” so lacking in modern Christianity.