Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 10:36 AM
Subject: MORE ON JAMES WHITE'S BLOG [03/31/04]

In a message dated 3/30/2004 12:01:37 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

Hi Bob,
In case you haven't already been made aware of it, Dr. White posted a blog re. your comments about his debate book with Hunt.  You can see it here.
Your brother,
Tony Hepp

James White, on his website, has the following comments:
3/27/04:  Bob Ross and Debating Calvinism
     I received at least three copies of Bob L. Ross's "review" of Debating Calvinism over the past 24 hours or so.  I recall Bob Ross going after The Potter's Freedom as well.  Despite how often I say "God ordains the ends as well as the means," or "God uses the proclamation of the gospel as the means by which he draws His elect to Himself," Ross insists on not seeing this, or accepting it, and writes that I promote the idea of "regeneration apart from means."  And sorry, but saying I hold to a form of Pelagianism of any kind is just silly (I guess taking Romans 8:7-8 seriously is somehow akin to holding to a form of Pelagianism).  Oh well, that's OK.  Bob's a nice guy.  Just a tad confused is all.

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 another direction.

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.

Since White 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 saying anything! 

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) "came forth."

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 forth."

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 Christ?

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 L. Ross

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