I want to address Brother James
White's objection to my statement about Pelagianism. In my review of the
Hunt-White debate book, I said the following:
Both Hunt and
White also agree or share a degree of Pelagianism, for both think that a
sinner must have the "ability" to believe in order to believe in Christ.
Hunt thinks this just comes "natural" as a part of man's alleged "free will,"
while White takes a position akin to the Hardshell Baptist view that a sinner
must first be "made alive" in order to be "able" to believe. Both of
these views smack of the Pelagian theory of "command implies ability." Both seem
to lack faith in the fact that the Word of God blessed by Holy Spirit is able to
create faith in the depraved, lost, unregenerate sinner and thus give that
sinner a new birth.
The reason I said that both Hunt and
White "share a degree of Pelagianism" is because of the fact they both have the
unbeliever ALIVE AND ABLE TO BELIEVE before they actually believe. This
coincides with the Pelagian theory that "command implies ability," that
one could not logically be commanded to do something if he was not able to do
it. Hunt arrives at this position one way, whereas White arrives at it from
That the Pelagian theory is consistent with White's
view so far as the necessity of "ability" is concerned, consider the fact that
in his book on "The Potter's Freedom," White uses the case of Lazarus to
teach his view. He says,
"No, before Lazarus can respond to
Christ's command to come forth, something must happen. Corpses do not obey
commands, corpses do not move. Jesus changed Lazarus' condition first . .
. what was once dead is now alive and CAN NOW HEAR the voice
of his beloved Lord, 'Come forth'" (page 285).
James offers the case of
Lazarus as an example of how God raises dead sinners to life.
has Lazarus already alive BEFORE Christ spoke to him, this puts a
question mark about White's claim that he really believes in the use of "means"
in the new birth.
What "means" were used in the case of Lazarus?
According to James, Lazarus was already alive BEFORE Jesus spoke the Word to
him. Since James has Lazarus alive before he heard the Word of Christ, this
apparently rules out the Word as the "means," so what "means" does James
believe was used?
According to James' view, it was not at the Word
spoken by Christ that Lazarus was supernaturally revived to life, but somehow
Lazarus was already alive before Christ spoke. In fact, if he was already alive
before Christ spoke, this made the Word of Christ unnecessary to restore
Lazarus to life. If fact, if Lazarus was already alive before Christ spoke, then
he could have probably gotten up and come out of the tomb without Christ's
James's view also seems to make it appear that
Christ is "pulling the leg" of those who saw this take place, for if Lazarus was
already alive, why couldn't any one of the others there have said "Lazarus, come
forth," with just as much authenticity and effectiveness as Christ? Was Christ
simply "putting on a show" here, making people think He had power in His Word to
miraculously raise the dead by His voice, just as He had miraculous power to
speak and calm the stormy seas?
Actually, the chronology of the record in
John 11 does not appear to really support James'
idea about when Lazarus came
to life. As I read the account, the "ordo salutis" is: (1) the voice:
"Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43), and then, (2) "He that was dead" (3)
I think the words, "was dead," signify that Lazarus
was dead BEFORE he heard the voice, and not vice versa as James teaches. Similar
to Ezekiel's dry bones (Ez. 37). there were no signs of any life among the bones
until the prophet began his prophesying, and in the case of Lazarus there is no
indication that he was anything but dead at the time Christ said, "Lazarus, come
Christ Himself indicates the "ordo salutis" in John 5:25: "The
hour is coming, and now is, when the DEAD SHALL HEAR the voice of the Son
of God: and they that hear SHALL LIVE." Obviously, the order appears to
be hearing the voice as the forerunner of life. This is the same order at the
future resurrection. The dead hear the voice of the Son of God and rise up,
according to John 5:28, 29.
But James evidently would have us to see
it another way. They must be made alive first in order to hear the voice.
James says, "Corpses do not obey commands, corpses do not move" (Potter's
Freedom, page 285). Does this mean that at the future resurrection, the dead
saints will be made alive first, then afterwards they will hear the voice of
How wrong have I been? All along I have thought that the
dead would first hear the voice of Christ, then come forth from their graves!
But now, with the help of Brother James White, I am to believe that the dead
saints, like Lazarus, will evidently be first made alive in order to be able to
hear the voice of Christ!
In conclusion, it seems to me that James has
found a way to get into the boat with Pelagius, the Campbellites, and the
Hardshells. They all have the sinner "alive" and "able" to obey the commands of
God. (1) The Pelagians and Campbellites have the sinner naturally capacitated by
God with the ability, while (2) the Hardshells and Brother James have sinners
supernaturally given this ability.
Regardless of any intricate
differences about how sinners have this ability, the fact is the Pelagians, the
Campbellites, the Hardshells and Brother James all teach that a "command"
implies an "ability" given by God to the person who is commanded. In this,
Brother James and Dave Hunt are again found to be in basic agreement --
they both teach that the sinner has the God-given "ability" to believe. -- Bob
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