David Johnson’s NDPR Review

In his NDPR review (2018.06.06) of Klaas Kraay‘s Does God Matter? (Routledge, 2018), David Johnson (Yeshiva University) remarks that the chapter Paul Franks and I co-wrote for the volume (see here) is a “nice example of a carefully argued paper in which everything seems to work except the main point.” Well, that doesn’t sound very good. What seems to be the problem? Continue reading

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‘Whoever’ (of the Elect) Believes: A Reply to Bignon and Gibson

Consider

3:16 (a) God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that (b) whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

On his Dividing Line podcast of March 27, 2018, James White, Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, suggested that my Calvinist renderings of the underlined expressions in 3:16 engender such “fundamental errors” that there was no need for him to examine (the details of) the actual dilemma I posed in “Calvinism’s Gospel Tautology.” Here I am indebted to my friend Guillaume Bignon and to James Gibson (hereafter, B&G) for having descended into those details (see here). I think they push the discussion forward admirably. Continue reading

James White and John 3:16: Rhetoric and Red Herrings

In “Calvinism’s Gospel Tautology,” I argued that there are two possible Calvinist renderings of Jesus’ words in John 3:16. The first puts these words in Jesus’ mouth: “whoever (of those who cannot believe) does believe: those persons won’t perish but have eternal life.” This dictum is no less pointless than it is absurd. To impute it to our Saviour is perfectly unseemly.

On the second reading, Jesus’ words to Nicodemus amount to a vacuous tautology: that the elect–i.e., those who (by definition) believe in Jesus and consequently have eternal life and won’t perish: these persons have eternal life and won’t perish. Well, of course. But there’s no more reason to come into the world to tell us that than there is for God the Son to become incarnate to break the news that bachelors are unmarried. As I said, if that’s what John 3:16 comes to, it isn’t good news. It can’t be; for it isn’t news at all.

On March 27, 2018, James White, Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, devoted his entire Dividing Line podcast to reading and commenting on my post. In what follows, I make some brief observations about White’s questionable polemics. In a second post, I turn to more substantial matters. Shorn of the fallacious rhetoric (there’s no shortage of that), I think White has two minor points that merit a brief comment. Continue reading

Matthew 18:15 and the Moralistic One-Upmanship Move

According to Notre Dame historian, Mark Noll, the scandal of the evangelical mind “is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Nowhere is this more evident than in evangelicalism’s growing fear and discomfort with intellectual disagreement. Contemporary postmodern evangelicalism pronounces against it. Disagreement conjures up the image of factions, divisions, and broken relationships. And this is a ‘bad witness’ to the world. Continue reading

Is False Scripture Useful?

Paul says to Timothy that “All Scripture is God-breathed…and useful” (2 Tim 3:16). Recently, I’ve noticed some pastors and professors claiming that even if what God breathes out is flatly in error, that shouldn’t deter us from using it. It comes from God and it contains errors. Nevertheless, says Bruxy Cavey, “You should use it, it’s really useful! Try it sometime, really useful book!” (link). Scripture might be false (and no doubt is in many places), but it’s useful all the same. Our question is: Is Bruxy right? Continue reading

Does the Bible Forbid Defending Its Inerrancy?

In the past few posts (see here, here, and here), we’ve looked at this idea that the Bible isn’t authoritative; only Jesus is. The Bible isn’t perfect and error-free; only our Saviour is. At first glance, these assertions have the ring of piety. Unfortunately, the least bit of probing exposes the painful fact that they are supported by demonstrably invalid arguments. That is, they aren’t supported at all. Continue reading