This post starts new work on Calvinism, although the subject matter (Calvinism vs. Arminianism) is still the same. I know it might seem weird to be writing on James White (since it’s something I’ve NEVER done), but there’s always room for something new at CTS.
Last night, I watched James White’s response to Ergun Caner’s sermon, titled “Why I Am Not Predestined to Be A Hyper-Calvinist.” Caner, president of Liberty University, preached this sermon several months ago (at least a year or two), but I just stumbled upon it last night. In any case, I wanted to see what the debate between Caner and White was all about. James White basically went through every little minute statement of Caner’s sermon and attacked what he didn’t like about it or what he thought was ridiculous about the message. Some of his comments, although true, were of the kind that he did not have to spend such large amounts of time on them--- but he did nonetheless. I think in the end, it made it harder for him to spend most of the time on the big issues. It seems that he had too much work carved out for him and not enough time to do it in (as he extended the talk time from 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes).
I listened to about 90 percent of White’s response and felt as if I had gotten enough of the argument to know James White’s response to Caner’s sermon. One of White’s comments that most fascinated me was when he said that Caner needed to understand that Calvinists have no idea who the elect are. He said, “We don’t know. We haven’t been given that kind of information. And I don’t need to know that information. I just need to preach the gospel so the Lord can bring in the elect to Himself. Since I do not know who the elect are, I preach the gospel.”
However, surrounding White’s discussion of the elect was his view that Jesus did not die for every person. Even when he discussed the issue of babies, he said that “I believe the Lord has freedom to choose which babies are saved and which babies are damned.” He claims that he isn’t saying that babies are damned because they do not “repent and believe the gospel,” while in the same breath saying that he believes the Lord is at liberty to damn those He wants to damn. At the least, he believes that not every baby will be saved! He attacked the view that “every baby is saved until a certain magical number” (referring to the age of accountability) and a host of other things (like altar calls and such) that he didn’t like about normal worship services.
White’s view regarding the elect and Jesus’ dying for some complicates his defense. His entire point throughout most of the Caner critique was that Jesus did not die for every person. But if that is true, then how can Christians preach the gospel to EVERY CREATURE? I mean, when we preach the gospel to every person, we’re telling them that the Lord desires their salvation. But if the Lord doesn’t desire the salvation of every person (and we don’t know who the elect are, as White says), then, AREN’T WE LYING TO EVERY PERSON, or a large number of the world population? What good are we doing telling them that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” for them (John 3:16), if Jesus did not die for EVERY SINGLE PERSON? Isn’t our evangelism (in that case) falsifying the gospel and “teasing the reprobate” all in one?
To make matters worse, think about the character and nature of God for a moment. When Jesus was praying the high priestly prayer in John 17, He prayed for the disciples and those who had come to believe that the Father had sent Him:
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by YOUR TRUTH. YOUR WORD IS TRUTH” (John 17:14-17, NKJV).
The Word of God is truth. The Word of God will not lie when it comes to ANY MATTER on which it touches. If this is true, then what do we do with the words of Christ in Mark 16:15 to “preach the gospel to EVERY CREATURE” (NKJV)? Are we just willing to believe that Jesus told the eleven to preach the gospel to everyone “just to draw in the elect”?
If White’s belief is correct, then preaching the gospel to everyone is not significant except for the fact that it draws in the elect. And the gospel is lying to those who do not believe (because their unbelief is a sign of God’s reprobative decree from before the foundation of the world). According to White, God approves of the believers preaching a “deceiving gospel”; and if this is so, then how can God be one who does not lie (Titus 1:2)?
Contra White, I believe that Jesus died for all. And if Jesus died for all, then preaching the gospel is important so that ALL can have the opportunity to be saved. When Judgment Day comes, no heathen will be able to stand and accuse God of an “unfair deal,” because God in His justice has extended mercy to every single person. In the words of the apostle Paul, “Indeed, LET GOD BE TRUE BUT EVERY MAN A LIAR” (Romans 3:4, NKJV)...