all readers: In the following presentation Greek terms are presented using
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If you use a Mac, or if the preceding link does not work for you, go to the
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Rebuttal to Darryl Barksdale
This response will come in two parts. First, I will respond to those
statements made by Mr. Barksdale that are relevant to our debate. The second portion will
respond to the many statements and accusations Mr. Barksdale makes in his first rebuttal
that are utterly gratuitous, irrelevant, and hence distracting to the debate itself.
Mr. Barksdale begins his response by citing from various
sources regarding the need to engage in proper hermeneutical procedure and
to closely observe context. Aside from the citation of the nihilistic
atheist Friedrich Nietzsche who coined the phrase, "God is dead,"
(a true biblical scholar and resource for guidance in exegetical studies), I
find little to disagree with in these statements. Of course, Mr. Barksdale
insists that all these statements are relevant to me: however, he somehow
forgot to prove
his allegations by citations from my writings, hence, his allegations are
without merit or weight and must be dismissed in any meaningful debate.
Mr. Barksdale failed to respond to the vast majority of the
exegesis offered of Ephesians 1 in my opening statement. Here are examples:
When responding to my demonstration that "we" or "us"
is the constant grammatical direct object of the verbs describing Gods act of
salvation (including "predestine" in 1:5 and 1:11), Mr. Barksdale insists that
this requires the assumption of Calvinism, "which is in direct opposition to the
direction provided us by Davids, Nietzsche, and Stenger, whom I cited earlier." Of
course, asserting that I am eisegetically inserting such a template of
"Calvinism" requires Mr. Barksdale to prove his point, and he does not even try
to do so. Unfounded assertions are without weight in a scholarly debate. I believe it is
Mr. Barksdale who is engaging in eisegesis. I proved this with reference to Jeremiah 1:5
and Job 38:7, and will give many further examples below.
Next, in responding to the demonstration that God chose us in Christ
"before the foundation of the world" (1:4), Barksdale writes, "This verse,
interpreted as White demands, begs the question. If we did not exist before the world was
created, how could He choose us in Him? How can something that does not exist
be chosen?" Mr. Barksdale identifies this as an "absurdity."
Yet, later, Mr. Barksdale speaks of Gods "omniscient foreknowledge." What
does "omniscient foreknowledge" mean? We are not told. In any case, Christians
have always acknowledged that God knows all things, including the future. If Mr. Barksdale
does not believe God knows the future, we should address that assertion. The Bible is very
clear on that subject.1 If he does, however, his objection here is meaningless,
because we are simply asserting that God chose us before creation itself since He is
eternal (i.e., He exists outside of time). Our existence, due to His absolute sovereignty
and control over all things (Ephesians 1:11, Daniel 4:34-35, Psalm 135:6, Isaiah 43:13),
has been an eternal reality to God. To say that God could not choose us before we
existed (which is Barksdales position) requires proof from him as well, and we are
Next, Mr. Barksdale commits a tremendously obvious error of
simple logic and research. He cites my assertion that "It is vital to
recognize the personal
aspect of this choice on the part of God the Father. The passage says that we
were chosen by God the Father, not that a mere ‘plan’ was chosen, or a
‘process’ put in place." I stated this right after saying,
"Again the Father is in view, for He is the one who chose us (hJma'",
accusative, indicating direct object of ‘to choose’)." These
comments were made while exegeting Ephesians 1:4. How does Mr. Barksdale
respond to the simple fact of Greek grammar that "we" is the
direct object of the verb "to choose"? When I challenged him on
this in the AOL chatroom, he had no response. And, in this debate, he has
likewise failed to respond. Instead, he replies as follows:
Interestingly, that is certainly not how genuine scholars have interpreted
this passage. For instance, scholar Rebecca Lyman translates this passage as follows:
"For he made known to us the mystery of his will according to the
purpose which he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of time . .
." (Eph 1:9-10, emphasis added).
The careful reader immediately detects the problem: I was talking about
Ephesians 1:4. Mr. Barksdale then quotes what he calls a "genuine scholar"
talking about....verses 9 and 10! How is it a valid procedure to take my comments on verse
4 and reply with a secondary citation of someone's comments on verses 9-10? Such is
obviously without merit. We are offered no direct exegesis of this passage by Mr.
Barksdale. No response is given to the text itself, only a citation from a secondary
source that is not even on the same passage I was discussing. Such is hardly worthy of one
who continues to offer "tutoring" in how to do "exegesis."
Hence, it should be emphasized, Mr. Barksdale has not
responded to one of the chief elements of this debate. The text is plain.
The direct object of the verb proorivzw in Ephesians 1:5 and
1:11 is personal. It is not a plan. This has been proven by the direct
citation of the text and the discussion of the accusative case of hJma'".
If Mr. Barksdale cannot refute this information, his position is lost. All other attempts to get around
this truth cannot save him. Let’s keep our eye on the ball and not be
distracted. He must respond to these facts.
But the errors in his reply do not end here. Under the
subtitle "What Does ‘Predestined’ REALLY Mean?" Mr. Barksdale
offers us one of the most glaring errors presented in this debate thus far.
He attempts to deal with Ephesians 1:11 and my comments regarding this
passage. When I introduced the term proorivzw
("predestine") in my opening statement, I wrote:
This is the first appearance of the word
"predestined" in the text. The exact same term (proorivzw) is used in verse 11 as
well. The meaning of the term is not ambiguous, no matter how hard some
might try to avoid its impact. It means "to choose beforehand"
or "to predestine."
I then provided endnote 5, which reads, "See any
standard lexical source, such as BAGD (p. 709) or Louw & Nida (pp.
360-361)." How does Mr. Barksdale respond to this information? He does
so by citing Markus Barth’s comments on Ephesians 1:11. Unfortunately, he
cites Barth’s comments not on proorivzw (proorizw)
but on klhrovw (klerow),
a completely different Greek term. Barth notes that klhrovw appears only once in the New
Testament (a fact that should have caused Barksdale to recognize his
mistake, since, obviously, "predestined" appears both in 1:5 and
1:11, as well as four other places in the NT!), and is "ambiguous"
in meaning. Barksdale comments:
Far from stating that "The meaning of the term is not
ambiguous," Barth actually directly contradicts White and says that it is ambiguous,
and then goes on to say "The complicated problems posed by the present text must be
met, and a choice among three possibilities faces the interpreter:"
This is most curious indeed. White asserts that only his definition must
be used, and that that definition is "not ambiguous." Now we have a genuine
scholar directly contradicting White's assertion. Who are we to trust? More importantly,
what does this do to White's argument that the scriptures "plainly teach
predestination", and that only his interpretation is the only plausible possibility?
As we can see, Barksdale has erred grievously. Barth does not
"directly contradict" me because, of course, Barksdale has confused proorizw
with klerow. Hence, he is accusing me of error on the basis of his own inability to
deal with the text in a direct manner. Please note that it is not ad-hominem
argumentation to point out such errors of fact and citation. Indeed, Mr. Barksdale
asks us to consider what this does to my argument that the Scriptures plainly teach
predestination. Indeed, what does it do to consider that Mr. Barksdale has failed to even
begin to respond to the exegetical issues raised, but has only responded with such
fallacious, confused, and erroneous argumentation as this?
But should anyone actually believe that the meaning of the term is
unclear, and does not find the standard lexical sources I cited (which go without comment
by Barksdale) to be sufficient, I quickly add the comments of K.L. Schmidt in the highly
acclaimed TDNT as further confirmation that "genuine scholarship" is not
confused on this topic:
This comparatively rare and late word is used in the Gk.
Bible only 6 times in the NT in the sense "to foreordain,"
"to predestinate." Since God is eternal and has ordained
everything before time, proorivzein is a stronger form of oJrivzein.
. . . The omniscient God has determined everything in advance, both persons
(emphasis added) and things in salvation history, with Jesus Christ as
In attempting to get around the meaning of the text in Ephesians 1,
Quite simply, this passage speaks of the "election" or
"calling" of the Jews, and the subsequent addition of the Christians
as Gods "chosen people."
But again, we find Barksdale engaging in eisegesis. Where does he get this
from the text? None of the secondary citations he provides says this, and he does not even
attempt to deal with the text directly to substantiate his claim. Yet, he uses this
unfounded, eisegetical conclusion as the basis of his assertion, "The point on which
White errs is the unBiblical (sic) extension of the predestination of people
to the "irresistable (sic) grace" of individuals. This is clearly
not the case, and cannot be found in scripture." Again, we are simply given this bare
assertion: nothing is connected with the text at all. We are given no exegetical
argumentation. Does Barksdale deal with the use of the personal pronoun "we" as
the direct object of the verbs describing Gods action of choosing, predestining,
glorifying, etc.? No. Does he deal with the fact that the actions of God undertaken in
Ephesians 1:3-11 are obviously relevant to individuals and not just groups of
people? Just a quick glance at the text shows how there is no connection between
Barksdales claims and the words of Scripture: verse 4 says that we are to be holy
and blameless. Is this not personal? Verse 5 speaks of adoption as sons. Is this not
individual? Verse 7 speaks of redemption through His blood. Do not individuals experience
redemption? Verse 7 also speaks of forgiveness of sins. Is that not personal? This is a
tremendous example of the difference in theology that comes from the Scriptures and
a theology that is forced onto the Scriptures.
Mr. Barksdale seems to believe that citing Hebrews 5:9 where Christ is
said to be the source of eternal salvation "to all those who obey Him" is
somehow a refutation of predestination. The assumption seems to be that by obeying Christ,
you gain salvation. Of course, the text can be understood descriptively rather than
prescriptively. That is, Christ is the source of eternal salvation; those whom He
saves He does perfectly, and they are the ones who obey Him. Obviously, the unregenerate
God-hater does not wish to obey Christ or submit to Him. Therefore, the only ones who obey
Christ truly are those who are saved. Again, we see the difference between looking at the
Gospel in a God-centered way (God saves men perfectly, hence, He changes them and they
long to obey Him, and do so) and a man-centered way (Gods work of salvation is
dependent upon my obeying Christ, hence making Him able to save me). Taking the advice of
the scholars cited by Mr. Barksdale who tell us to take all of Scripture into
consideration, I ask a simple question: if salvation is based upon my obedience to
God (i.e., if by my obedience I actuate, continue, or complete, the "process" of
salvation) rather than my obedience being the result of salvation, then how can God
the Father hold God the Son accountable to save all those that are given to Him,
and not lose one? If salvation is a cooperative effort, how can the Son possibly
fulfil the Fathers will for Him perfectly? I would like to see Mr. Barksdale
answer this question.
Next, we are pointed toward the concept of the "covenant" as an
important issue, and it surely is. But Mr. Barksdale seems to miss the fact that there is
an old covenant and a new covenant. He points to Israel as the covenant
people of God and says, "if God predestinated the Israelites, and if they were truly
regenerate, why did they so often turn from the Lord." I dont
believe that the Israelites, as a people, were regenerate. The Old Covenant did not
guarantee regeneration of the heart. As the writer to the Hebrews pointed out:
(Hebrews 8:6-13) But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as
much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better
promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no
occasion sought for a second.  For finding fault with them, He says, "BEHOLD, DAYS
ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND
WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;  NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE
DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT
CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.  "FOR THIS
IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE
THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.  "AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS
FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, 'KNOW THE LORD,' FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME,
FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.  "FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR
INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE."  When He said, "A new
covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and
growing old is ready to disappear.
The new covenant speaks of a "new heart," a regenerate heart.
Hence, that objection is hardly relevant, since Reformed theologians have never identified
Israel as a regenerate people. But he goes on:
What about the early Christians? If they were "predestined", why
did a general apostasy take place after the ascension of Christ? Why did Christ Himself
prophesy of such an apostasy occurring? Why did He not exercise His "sovereign
will" to ensure that his elect would not fall away? Why were the very same saints who
were "predestined" according to Paul then warned by John on the Isle of Patmos
that they were in danger of LOSING their salvation? Was this the will of God, or was God
thus powerless to bring about the salvation of this group of people?
Again Mr. Barksdale assumes what he has yet to prove. Paul warned that
many would arise in the church speaking perverse things (Acts 20:30). But, he just as
clearly indicated that these men were not Christians, and that the Church would
continue on "to all generations forever and ever" (Eph. 3:21). The Church is
meant to fight false teaching throughout the time prior to the coming of Christ. This no
more indicates that the Church has failed and disappeared than the existence of splinter
groups in Mormonism proves the Salt Lake element is automatically apostate. Barksdale says
Christ prophesied that an "apostasy" would take place, but gives no references.
Remember: if one person, or a lot of people, commit apostasy, this does not mean that all
have done so. God did make sure that His elect did not fall away. Indeed,
Gods promise that none He has saved would ever perish is prima facie evidence
against the LDS concept of a universal apostasy of the Christian Church. As to the
reference to John, again, since no reference is given, no response can be offered.
Gods will is to save His people: and He has done so, perfectly, throughout the
years, decades, and centuries since the Lord Jesus returned to the Father.
The only other statement made regarding this issue that needs to be
responded to is the statement that since Jesus called Judas Iscariot as an apostle that
this somehow means I must believe Judas is in heaven. I do not believe this. The calling
Mr. Barksdale refers to was a calling to apostleship, not to salvation. Instead,
mentioning Judas only proves my point: the Scriptures are plain in teaching Judas was predestined
to the role he took (John 6:70-71, 17:12).
I mentioned in my first rebuttal that the substance of Mr.
Barksdales response to my presentation drawn from John 6:35-45 was to be found in a
single citation of a Roman Catholic commentary. But he did make a common response based
upon isolating John 6:40 from its context and turning the entire section on its head. That
is, Barksdale refers to the Lords statement that "everyone who beholds the Son
and believes in Him will have eternal life," and on this basis says, "Everyone.
All-inclusive. Not some select, exclusive club. Everyone." Of course
everyone who looks receives eternal life. But here again Barksdale violates his own stated
position regarding maintaining context and allowing the Scriptures to define themselves.
Verse 40 comes after verses 35 through 39. Who are those who come to Christ? Who are those
who believe? The elect, those who are given by the Father to the Son. As pointed out in my
original presentation (and ignored by Barksdale), coming to Christ follows and is
the result of being given by the Father to the Son. "All that the Father gives
Me will come to Me" Jesus says (6:37). Grammatically, being given by the Father precedes
the coming of the elect to Christ. If one is not given, one will not come! This is exactly
what is said in John 6:44, another passage Mr. Barksdale chose to ignore. Hence, it is
quite true that "everyone" who looks and believes will have eternal life: but
looking and believing are things done only by the elect! Only the elect are
"enabled" to do these things (John 6:65). Every one of the elect will
look and believe, that is certain. If I were to say, "Everyone with Windows 98 can
run this program," I am not, by that statement, saying that every single
individual can run the program. There is a condition. In the same way, "No one is
able to come to me unless the Father, who sent Me, draws him, and I will raise him up at
the last day" (John 6:44). Prior to the elects coming and believing must be the
giving of the Father, the drawing of the Father.
Mr. White has insisted that his interpretation of the text of
Scripture is the only plausible interpretation that can be made. I have shown that this is
not the case, using scholars such as Markus Barth, Raymond Brown, and others.
We have seen that Mr. Barksdale erroneously cited Barth about a term other
than the one I used; we have likewise seen that he cited Raymond Brown merely to show
Brown doesnt believe John 6 answers questions on predestination---he did not even
cite a single element of exegetical refutation of my assertions.
Mr. White insists that Predestination cannot refer to God's Plan for us. I
have presented several other scholars who beg to differ with his translation.
Barksdale presented no one in his defense: he cited one
scholar about verse 11, but left my entire exegesis of 1:4-6 untouched. No
one disputes that boulhv can be translated
"plan" in verse 11. But that has nothing whatsoever to do with the direct object
Mr. Barksdale could not answer this simple fact of
exegesis when we first discussed this in AOL. And
nothing has changed. Facts remain facts.
Mr. White has denied the reality of the premortal existence of man,
without any Scriptural justification whatsoever.
I presented Romans 9:11 twice in my presentation as evidence
against "pre-existence" in the LDS view. Mr. Barksdale ignored my comments,
hence, the line, "without any Scriptural justification whatsoever" is simple
Instead, he has intentionally disregarded context, historical background,
and correct hermeneutics to force-fit a Reformed theology onto Sacred text which
contradicts it in innumerable places.
I believe it is obvious who has intentionally disregarded context,
historical background, and correct hermeneutical procedure. Mr. Barksdale has offered no
exegesis that takes into consideration context, and citing secondary sources regarding
verses other than the one under discussion is hardly the stuff of "correct
Before responding to some of the miscellaneous
charges included by Mr. Barksdale, I wish to refocus our attention yet once
again. The thesis of our debate is, "Does the Bible Teach
Predestination?" I have presented a number of passages wherein the text
plainly, clearly does this. I have demonstrated grammatically that the
object of predestination is plainly personal. I have discussed the meaning
of the relevant terms, the forms in which they are found, and the
conclusions to be drawn from the text. Darryl Barksdale has, thus far, not
offered a single paragraph of exegetical argumentation. He has cited sources
as far flung as God-hating atheists like Nietzsche, to conservative Roman
Catholics like Brown, but he has so far utterly avoided doing the one thing
he so confidently offered to do originally: provide a "lesson in
exegesis." Instead, he has made basic, fundamental errors regarding
what terms are being examined, what verses are being discussed, and has, so
far, not shown that he is able, or willing, to engage the topic as promised. Unless Darryl Barksdale can present
a thorough, fair, scholarly, and accurate exegesis of Ephesians 1:3-11, Romans 9:11ff, and
John 6:37ff, he will fail to uphold his side in this debate. He must
explain why Paul presents as the direct object of proorivzw the personal pronoun hJma'". If he cannot deal with this
reality, his position is lost. I strongly encourage Mr.
Barksdale to focus his attention upon providing a direct,
first-hand exegesis of these passages. Do not limit our
readers to mere second-hand citations of commentaries
any of us could read. Let’s do what we have promised
to do: exegete the text. I have upheld my side of that
agreement. I call upon Mr. Barksdale to do the same.
A Litany of Errors
I shall be as brief as possible here since, in reality, none of this is
relevant to the topic of the debate, outside of the impact it has to consider the amount
of improper argumentation and error of fact found in Barksdales presentations. I do
not enjoy correcting such errors, and the reader may wish to ignore this section and move
on with the body of the debate.
I created no "Mormon patsy" (a highly offensive term to begin
with) and was not disingenuous in the story I presented at the beginning of my opening
statement. It happened just as I said, and I challenge Mr. Barksdale to prove otherwise.
"The irony in this statement is that this eisogetical (sic)
practice is exactly what Mr. White himself engages in." We have already seen
documentation that the truth is exactly opposite of this assertion.
"Indeed, in Mr. Whites view, his interpretation is the only
one possible or plausible. Everyone else who disagrees with him, whether their arguments
are substantive or not, is simply in his view "picking and choosing" from
Scripture. . . .Instead of considering the "full world of critical scholarship,"
Mr. White insists instead that he, and he alone, is a sufficient "authority" to
pronounce any matter of religion "closed" to further discussion or
discourse." An endnote (#4) is attached that says, "For instance, in discussions
with those of opposing views in the Christianity Online area of America Online, Inc., when
asked for citations from valid Biblical scholars to support his assertions, Mr. White has
repeatedly demanded that his word alone stand as the final authority against which all
matters religious be weighed and determined, and that no other authority other than
himself is necessary to consider." In response: If what Mr. Barksdale means is that I
believe that there is only one consistent interpretation of Gods Word (i.e., that
God does not contradict Himself), of course. But that is not what he means, his further
comments demonstrate. Barksdales assertions are simply unsubstantiated, false ad-hominem
argumentation. He cannot produce a single shred of documentation of his outrageous claims.
I insist that he either document from my writings such a claim, or withdraw it with an
Barksdale goes on: "Further evidence of this
kind of unjustifiable arrogance can be seen in White's endnotes,
particularly in numbers 4,6, 11, and 12..(sic) where he uses
HIMSELF as a primary source to bolster his arguments. This kind of
arrogance forms a common thread throughout all of White's writings.
When he cannot find corraborating (sic) evidence to prove his
point.. (sic) he merely quotes himself
as a primary source. How convenient. And how unscholarly." This
is probably one of the most ridiculous assertions I have encountered.
First, it is untrue. Look at the endnotes he cites: in #4 I cite
numerous primary sources; I merely added a reference to an article I
have written on the subject at the end. Barksdale is being dishonest
to say I could not find "corraborating (sic)
evidence" when the citations are right there. Look at #6: this is
a comment on the syntactical function of the phrase, and a comment
regarding its importance. Can Barksdale refute the statement? Is he
saying that I cannot make comments on Greek syntax? I have taught
Greek professionally for a number of years, and am a critical
consultant on a major Bible translation. Does he dispute these facts?
Look at #11: here I simply refer the reader to a fuller exposition of
the text. Does Mr. Barksdale dispute that I have written such a work?
What point hinges upon my mere reference to such a work? None at all.
The point is not in dispute in the first place. And #12 is a mere
comment on the text: does Barksdale deny the information presented?
Hence, there is nothing "arrogant" found in any of these
endnotes. But let us use this as a test-case for the consistency of
Darryl Barksdale’s argumentation. On page 197 of How Wide the Divide?
we find an endnote by Dr. Stephen Robinson of Brigham Young
University. Dr. Robinson, in endnote #7, cites himself. He
refers to his previous book, Are Mormons Christians? Has Mr.
Barksdale contacted Robinson concerning this "unscholarly"
and "arrogant" action? In the next endnote Robinson refers
people to The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, which, of course, he
contributed to. Is this "convenient" as well? Over and over
again Robinson refers readers to his own works. Is Mr. Barksdale
consistent here? Does he condemn Robinson as vociferously? But let’s
look further: Warfare in the Book of Mormon is a FARMS
production edited by Stephen Ricks and William Hamblin, both of BYU.
And again we find numerous endnotes wherein the authors refer readers
to other writings by the same authors. Could we find a letter from Mr.
Barksdale somewhere in the FARMS offices chiding these LDS scholars
for their actions, calling them arrogant and unscholarly? You see,
there is nothing "unscholarly" about noting the fact that
you have written more extensive discussions of a subject. If Barksdale
were a published author, it would be perfectly acceptable for him to
refer readers to his works in the manner I did in my presentation.
Nowhere did I make a contested point and say, "You need to
believe this just because I say so." To assert otherwise is
nothing short of dishonest, for it involves a glowing double-standard.
Barksdale asserts that I "cannot otherwise resist throwing out
numerous insults and condemnations of Mormon doctrine in general. One certainly would have
hoped that Mr. White would have followed his own injunction at least throughout his
own opening statement." I will allow the reader to decide who has constantly thrown
Mr. Barksdale concluded his comments by saying, "He even managed to
be insulting and ill-behaved in the process." I will leave it to the reader to
determine who has been insulting and ill-behaved. I simply ask that my opening
presentation be re-read in the light of the errors I have documented above. Any unbiased
person can see the truth of the present situation.
1 See Wayne Grudem, Systematic
Theology (Zondervan, 1994), pp. 190-193.
2 TDNT, V:456.
Word Count: 4841