Second Rebuttal to Mr. White
D. L. Barksdale
Mr. White began his initial rebuttal with a plea to refocus on the topic
of debate, Predestination. This impassioned plea was most puzzling, considering Mr.
Whites repeated and continuous attempts to divert the debate into other off-topic
areas specific to LDS doctrine.
In his opening statement, for instance, Mr. White attempted to divert the
debate into a discussion of the Mormon concept of God by quoting a statement of Joseph
Smith from the King Follett Discourse. Mr. White also sprinkled his opening statement and
subsequent rebuttals with other statements that were clearly intended to sidetrack the
debate off of the main topic; stating, for instance, that certain passages "make no
sense from a Mormon perspective," and then proffering his reasons why.. either
because in his view Mormons do not understand God properly, or because they are
"opposite" Biblical theology, or because they adhere to a belief in an
anthropomorphic God. White embedded numerous other distracting digs at Mormonism by
insisting that God is not merely an "exalted man," among other things. I must
respectfully ask Mr. White to adhere to his own advice, and refocus himself on the real
issues of this debate, which have no bearing whatsoever on Mr. Whites distorted view
of LDS doctrine.
Mr. White challenges my summation of the Reformed doctrine of
Predestination by claiming that it doesnt mean what I said it does, but provides no
evidence to disprove it. Mr. White claims that "the punishment of those who are left
to Gods wrath will be based upon full and complete justice." According to Mr.
White, these are those who, according to Reformed theology, were chosen before the
foundations of the world to be damned to Hell forever. BEFORE they had sinned.
Since Mr. White does not believe in the preexistence of souls, how can
"justice" include the condemnation of that which has not even been created yet,
before they even have had the opportunity to come under the "stain" of
Adams transgression, according to the Reformed view on Original Sin? How, by any
stretch of anyones imagination, is this "justice"? One has to wonder if
Mr. White will now dodge the issue yet again? The question is a very real one, and one
that must be answered by Biblical evidence instead of appealing to nothing more than an
abstract nod towards "Gods Sovereignity."
How can those not even BORN yet (and in Mr. Whites mind, not capable
of cognizant thought or action, since they did not exist prior to birth) be condemned? If
they had no choice in the matter, no chance to accept Jesus Christ, no free will to choose
either good or evil, and no opportunity to hear, believe, and be "saved," how
can any standard of "justice" be applied here? There is none. Paul taught this
great truth most eloquently.
"For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without
law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;" (Romans 2:12)
"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to
that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." (2 Cor 8:12)
Mr. White has a most ponderous burden before him in reconciling his
misstatement with these scriptural truths. His philosophy is squarely at odds with
scriptural truth. Perhaps Mr. White will delight us by ceasing to attempt to divert the
debate long enough to examine the text itself and explain this glaring contradiction.
To assist him in his rather ponderous task, perhaps we can help.
Websters Dictionary presents the following as definitions of "Justice":
1 a : the maintenance or administration of what is just esp. by the
impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards
b : JUDGE
c : the administration of law; especially : the establishment or
determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity
2 a : the quality of being just, impartial, or fair
b (1) : the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action
(2) : conformity to this principle or ideal : RIGHTEOUSNESS
c : the quality of conforming to law
3 : conformity to truth, fact, or reason : CORRECTNESS
Perhaps Mr. White would humor us by explaining in detail which part of
this definition applies to condemning an as-yet-uncreated being to eternal damnation from
which they can never escape, by no fault of their own? "Assignment of merited rewards
or punishments" perhaps? Nope. Nothing can be "merited" by an uncreated
being. Administration of law? What "law" would arbitrarily condemn an uncreated
being? The Bible clearly teaches us that those without law DIE without law. Perhaps Mr.
White can explain for us how Gods "justice" in condemning uncreated beings
not even yet under the "sin" of Adam, is "just, impartial, or fair,"
while saving other uncreated beings from that fate? I suppose well just have to take
Mr. Whites personal word on that.
Unfounded Character Assassination
Mr. White then condemns Richard Hopkins Biblical Mormonism,
from which I presented a lengthy series of passages which very soundly refute Mr.
Whites entire premise, with the scathing indictment that Mr. Hopkins work is
"the single worst example of LDS apologetics
" Yet Mr. White does not offer
us ONE EXAMPLE of why this is so. Not ONE iota of evidence that anything presented from
Mr. Hopkins work should be rejected. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Again, I guess Mr. White
wants us to take his personal word on that.
Justification and Sanctification
Mr. White then, with a wave of his hand, dismisses the arguments I
presented regarding Justification and Sanctification without reason, merit, or even one
example of why they are not applicable to the argument. He simply seems to not want to
discuss them, and the obvious implications they bring to the table. But he doesnt
stop with merely ignoring the text, he accuses me of confusing the issues, again
without providing even one example of where I have done so. Mr. White complains
that I "completely [miss] the point with great consistency." What point? That
Mr. Whites arguments do not withstand even the slightest scriptural scrutiny? That
Mr. White is "cherry-picking" through various passages to find a scriptural
"nail" from which to hang his Predestination "hat"?
Mr. White accuses me of "ignoring Pauls lengthy presentation of
the grounds of justification," when I did no such thing. Mr. White, interestingly,
fails to state just WHICH "lengthy presentation" of Pauls that I seem to
have "missed," considering that much of my original presentation came directly
from Pauls writings. One has to wonder where this mysterious passage is, since Mr.
White failed to address ANY of the NT passages I presented, the foundational
soteriology of which refutes his premise completely. Again, I suppose we should all take
Mr. Whites personal word that it exists, and actually refutes my exegesis. He leaves
us precious little else to go on.
Mr. White refuses to discuss any aspect of Predestination without using
his own carefully compiled "canon within a canon." Without any contradictory
evidence whatsoever, he has the audacity to say that I make "justification a
subjective thing" without offering one iota of evidence of how I have made it
"subjective." I, on the other hand, did qualify my position. Instead of simply
viewing scripture through the spectacles of his own extra-biblical Calvinistic bias, Mr.
White must actually study the scriptural cites I offered on this subject, and then
offer us concrete, verifiable scriptural evidence which supports his position.
Mr. White turns up his nose at the "works-salvation" issue,
because it would, in his words, "take us far beyond the thesis statement of this
debate." The entire issue of Predestination is undeniably soteriological in nature.
If we have the free will to choose whether to place faith in Jesus Christ, then
Predestination of individuals is simply not possible. If we are required to be obedient to
obtain salvation, as the Bible teaches us in Hebrews 5:9, then it is not simply a
"freebie" determined before the foundation of the world. How in heavens
name Mr. White can label the core issues of salvation that we are dealing with here
"inconsequential" is beyond belief. The only possible reason that could be is
that he cannot deal with the overwhelming body of scriptural text that refutes the
Calvinist position, and thus he refuses to deal with any scripture that he cannot
cherry-pick a Calvinist-friendly answer for.
Mr. White blusters at length about my treatment of this passage. A close
look at his objections reveals some disturbing insights, and raises serious questions
about Mr. Whites exegesis.
Mr. White claims that "formed" in Jeremiah 1:5 is the
"same" as Psalms 139:13-16 and refers to "unformed substance," which
he immediately announces is "a term that can refer to the embryo or fetus." The
term Mr. White is referring to is the Hebrew y‚tsar, which literally means
"to form," or "to make." Nowhere in scripture is it used to denote an
embryo or fetus. Mr. White needs to show us some examples in scripture where this term is
used in the manner he describes, and thus justify his exegesis.
Otherwise, I am still waiting patiently for Mr. White to explain how God
could have a personal relationship with, and ordain something, that doesnt yet
exist. He has yet to address this issue, but Im sure Mr. White will somehow make the
time to throw in another off-topic insult of LDS doctrine.
Of course, Mr. White then has to interject yet ANOTHER attempt at
derailing the debate by slinging yet another off-topic accusation into the mix:
"Joseph Smith denied to God the power to create the spirit of man." Another
attempt to bait me into answering an off-topic misrepresentation.
Amazingly, Mr. White then takes the Hebrew term y‚tsar and places
it "within a group" of other words that refer to creation, among which is bara,
which Mr. White claims refers only to creation by God. What Mr. White does NOT show us is
how y‚tsar is linguistically connected to bara, or why it should be placed
in any "group" with it. Is Mr. White seriously suggesting that y‚tsar is
only used in the Bible to refer to creation by God alone? Yup. He states, "In every
single one of these instances y‚tsar is used of creative activity." Yes, Mr.
White, but not necessarily by God. In Isaiah 54:17, the Lord tells the Israelites that
"no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." What is the word for
"formed"? Y‚tsar. Is Mr. White suggesting that God "made" the
weapons which would be impotent against the Israelites?
Mr. White then goes to extremes to demonstrate the meaning of the word y‚da,
or "to know." While acknowledging the true meaning as used by the same
author in different places, White carefully selects several usages by other Biblical
authors that are more obtuse and which fit his argument better. Mr. White fails to explain
why the other more common usages should be ignored in deference to his hand-picked usages.
White then abandons the principles of good exegesis altogether in demanding that y‚da
NOT mean "to know," but instead be rendered "to choose." What
reason does White offer for this? None. Again, we are expected to take Mr. Whites
personal word on this.
Mr. White desperately cherry-picks through possible definitions,
attempting to find one that supports his theory, without examining the context or usage
most appropriate for the passage. And, to be honest, he has to. For God to KNOW Jeremiah
would demand that there be a Jeremiah there for God to know, and for there to be a
relationship that predates Jeremiahs mortal existence. This would necessitate
Jeremiah pre-existing his mortal birth. And Mr. White steadfastly refuses to consider that
possibility. Mr. White also ignores the fact that in every instance of the term y‚da
in the Old Testament, it always refers to something that exists.. never to
something that does not yet exist. If fact, if you follow the usages of the word through
the OT, you will quickly find that it refers to knowledge of various types that have the
common thread of being gained through the senses.
Mr. White, to give credit where credit is due, is correct in critiquing my
exegesis of the word "ordained" since it can carry a meaning of
"appointing." What he fails in doing, however, is to explain why his definition
must be accepted, and mine rejected in this context. It is one thing to point out where
another usage of a term exists, and quite another to prove that your selection of meaning
in a particular passage is the only one possible. Mr. White has clearly failed to do this.
In fact, when faced with situations like this, Mr. Whites response more often than
not is to proclaim that he knows the actual mind, thoughts, and intent of the author!
After hypocritically chiding me to refocus (even though it is he who
constantly attempts to undermine the thread of this debate by interjecting inappropriate
slurs against LDS doctrine), Mr. White poses a number of questions and comments that
deserve some attention.
First of all, Mr. White criticizes my use of secondary sources to support
my position. He states, "Mr. Barksdale did not engage in any meaningful rebuttal of
my comments on this passage, choosing instead only to cite a secondary source (a Roman
Catholic commentary on the passage)." This statement is hypocritical in the extreme,
since Mr. White seems to find nothing wrong with using numerous secondary sources within
this debate to support HIS position. Consider also the fact that Mr. White carefully
refrains from refuting the positions supported by those sources, or even addressing them,
instead choosing to establish a patently hypocritical double-standard. One has to wonder
why, but in all honesty, Mr. White has to.
Mr. White asks me to explain the words of Jesus, when He declares that
"All that the Father gives me will come to me." (John 6:37) He asks "Who
are these who are given by the Father to the Son?" The Fathers giving of people
to Christ does not suggest that they were predestined to salvation, only that the Father
gave Christ charge of them. If it meant predestination, then we must note that Christ
himself declared that one of those given him by the Father had been lost:
"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I
come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that
they may be one, as we [are]. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name:
those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition;
that the scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:11-12)
The case of Judas demonstrates that being given to Christ does NOT suggest
predestination to salvation.
White claims that salvation always focuses on what God does, not what man
does. This is not true. Had man not been placed on earth, salvation wouldnt even
exist. Salvation, though it comes from God, is clearly for mans benefit, not
Gods. If salvation centers only around Gods actions, one has to wonder what
Mr. White makes of Pauls declaration to the Philippians to "work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling"? (Phil. 2:12) Surely this suggests free will, the
action on the part of man, and that precludes predestination to salvation or damnation.
White claims that "Christs sheep hear his voice. They believe
because they are his. They do not become His sheep by believing." Again, nothing
could be farther from the truth, Scripturally. Christ taught that "my sheep hear my
voice, and I know them, and they follow me," which suggests free will.
The Savior taught that "He that believeth and is baptized shall be
saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Is not "believing" and being "baptized" something
"man does"? Does this passage not indicate that ALL of those who believe WILL be
saved? Are those who are saved not his sheep? I invite Mr. White to explain why the
explanation given in my first rebuttal concerning this passage should be rejected, when
such a huge body of supporting scripture affirms it, while practically no passages refute
Does man truly have no role or responsibility in his own salvation, as Mr.
White suggests? The apostle Paul taught that Christ was the "author of eternal
salvation to all them that obey Him." (Heb 5:9, emphasis mine) First of all,
Paul didnt narrow the realm of those worthy of salvation to only a small predestined
lot. He said "ALL them." Everyone. Without restriction. What was the
qualifying clause? "All them that obey Him." Is obeying Christ not
something "man does"? Is this not an example of "working out [our]
salvation with fear and trembling?"
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
(John 3:16) What a powerful passage. "Whosoever" used here is translated from
the Greek pas, meaning "all, any, every, the whole." Not a small body of
pre-selected individuals. ALL. Quite a different connotation than what Mr. White claims.
Is salvation Gods work? Of course. Does man have a role to play in
believing and receiving the ordinances of salvation? Yes. Can man earn his way to heaven?
Of course not. But the Savior consistently taught two truths basic to this issue: 1)
ANYONE can come to Christ and be saved, and 2) the act of believing and subsequently acting
on that belief (at the very minimum) is required for salvation. These facts are
indisputable; and they undermine the very foundation of Mr. Whites argument.
Mr. White claims that "Jesus order is the opposite: if you are
one of Gods, you will believe." This is not what Christ taught. Christ taught
that "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Christ referred to
those given Him of the Father, true. But not in the way that Mr. White demands. The text
of this passage allows for some other possibilities that Mr. White is loath for our
readers to see. In verse 39, Christ reveals the following:
"And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which
he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last
day." Paraphrased, Christ is telling us that the Fathers will is for all who
were given to the Son to be raised up at the last day (i.e. saved). What is of paramount
interest to us is in defining exactly WHO was "given" and HOW. John answers the
question for us in the very next verse:
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which
seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise
him up at the last day." (John 6: 39,40)
One of the ways that the Greek word for "given" (didomi)
is translated is "made." Given the context that John provides in verse 40, a
more accurate rendering of verse 39 might be as follows:
"And this is the Fathers will which hath sent me, that of all
which he hath made I should lose nothing, but should raise up again at the last day."
This is certainly consistent with verse 40 and with other similar
passages, such as 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-4. The former states;
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count
slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
Perhaps Mr. White would be intrigued by a closer examination of the text
itself. "Willing" here is translated from Greek text meaning to "aim, to
purpose, to resolve, to intend, to design."
1 Timothy is just as clear. It states:
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who
will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
(1 Tim 2:3-4, emphasis mine)
To defend his stance, Mr. White needs to address the text of vs. 40:
"Indeed, this is the will of the Father, that EVERYONE who look upon
the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life."
Mr. White needs to explain to us how this can possibly be in light of
predestination? How can the Father, in His sovereignity, hand-pick a few to be saved
before they exist, and doom the rest to Hell, and then claim that it is His will that
EVERYONE who looks upon the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life" (which
Christ Himself assured us would happen.. to ALL.. not just a select few)? If God has
already, eons ago, determined which individuals (which did not yet exist) were going to be
saved, does this statement not make God a liar? At the time this passage was written, God
had long ago made the choice, against which we have no recourse, according to Calvinists.
How could God have made the choice as to who would be saved and who would not, and then
tell us that He desires that ALL of us be saved? I am most interested in Mr. Whites
answer to this dilemma.
The bottom line is that White seems to take great pains to dissect,
strain, and twist a single word, given, completely out of context to create a doctrine
that flies in the face of the entirety of the rest of the New Testament message.
Mr. White has harshly criticized my teasing offer to extend a "lesson
in exegesis" to him. He has mocked me and derided me for doing so. Yet, in examining
his exegesis, it has become painfully apparent that he is in dire need of such tutoring,
especially in his use of John 6. Therefore, in the spirit of brotherly love, I will
present a few exegetical pointers for Mr. Whites benefit.
Rule 1: The speaker or writer sometimes states just what he wanted
to accomplish by speaking Instead of accepting Johns plain and clear statement,
Mr. White demands that it be interpreted only through the lens of Calvinist doctrine. One
of the foremost rules for the interpretation of sentences in textual criticism is to
always interpret according to the known purpose of the author.1 The first
place to look for the authors purpose is the text itself. In John 6:37-40, as we
have seen and which the Anchor Bible Dictionary quite ably pointed out, Johns
purpose was not to teach the predestination of individuals. He clearly stated in a verse
immediately subsequent to the one Mr. White attempts to use that Gods purpose is for
EVERY ONE to be saved. There was no qualification in the text, no narrowing of the field.
God desires that "every one" be saved. It is indisputable that this is exactly
what John meant.
Rule 2: Carefully consider the immediate context. What was done
and said at the time may throw light on the meaning of the words used. This is most
informative, as a careful examination of Johns writings reveals no indication of any
teaching of the predestination of individuals, period.
Rule 3: The Bible, being the truth of God, must harmonize with
itself. The Bible should NEVER be interpreted so that its statements are in conflict.
Mr. White forces the reader into accepting an interpretation that the rest of the Biblical
text does not support, and in fact starkly contradicts.
Rule 4: Light may be thrown upon a doubtful or difficult passage by
comparing it with other statements of the same author on the same subject. By
gathering all that can be found from the same writer, one can better understand his view
on the subject. One only has to look at the very next verse to see that Mr. Whites
interpretation of John 6:39 is in error. Further evidence can be found in the fact that
John does not allude to this doctrine, either directly or indirectly, in any of his other
writings. In fact, he refutes the idea in numerous places.
Rule 5: Help may be had in the interpretation of sentences by
examining the statements of other writers on the same subject who are of equal authority. Statements
by one apostle will agree with those of the Savior and other apostles on the same subject.
Examples of where Mr. Whites exegesis fails this test are found in 2 Tim 2:3-4, 2
Peter 3:9 and numerous other passages. These passages are not peripheral to the issue,
they speak directly to it. Each of them soundly contradicts Whites exegesis.
Rule 6: The use of common sense respecting the things which we know
of ourselves. The use of common sense respecting the things which we know
of ourselves. Common sense is the basic tool men use to interpret the scriptures, but
the exegete cannot array his whims against the word of God in the name of common
sense. He is not at liberty to assert his own opinion as the standard. I have shown
numerous examples from Mr. Whites exegesis where he has done this very thing.
Obviously, Mr. Whites use of John 6:37-40 fails the test. In my
Closing Argument to this debate, we shall see how Mr. Whites other textual citations
also fail the test.
Mr. White may claim that the thesis of this debate "remains very
clearly decided", that the Bible "does teach predestination." But a close
examination of Mr. Whites evidence reveals that this declaration is nothing more
than wishful thinking. Mr. White has not even remotely proven his case. I guess, yet
again, well have to take his personal word on it.
He has not been able to refute the fact that predestination actually
refers to the foreordination of GROUPS of people, and the CALLING of certain individuals
to perform certain functions. And Mr. White has yet to present any compelling evidence to
show that the predestination of individuals to salvation is taught in even one instance in
Fortunately, not all Christians are as misled as Mr. White on the subject
of predestination. My chief regret in composing this rebuttal is that I dont have 5
times the space to respond. The sheer volume of data that refutes Mr. Whites
position on the preexistence of man alone is staggering, much less the mountain of
scriptural truth that refutes Calvinist thought. Therefore, I close this rebuttal by
leaving the reader with only a small handful of statements:
"Election, or choice, respects that lump or mass of mankind from
which they are separated. Predestination has respect to the blessings they are intended
for; particularly the adoption as sons, that in due time we should become his adopted
children, and so have the right to all the privileges of children. Before the creation of
the world, they were chosen in the counsel of God from all eternity."2
"Election and destiny do not imply unilateral determination;
they simply mean that God calls us before we are able to answer."3
Finally, ironically, a quote from Christianity 101 that sums up the
truth regarding this doctrine quite well:
We must maintain that, although all humans matter to God, not
all will be saved. God had decided even before the beginning of time that only people of
faith would enter eternal life. In other words, he had ordained that believers should
receive salvation. Having said this, we must quickly add that Scripture does NOT teach
that God has foreordained which individuals will become believers. All Biblical statements
about Predestination, the ones listed above and several others, make reference to
predestination as a collective reality. God has decided that there will be a
community of faith, but he has not chosen the individuals who will be part of it. This
choice is left to whosoever will. God makes salvation available; it is up to
individual people to accept it or reject it."4
Finally, consider the words of Dr. Lewis Chafer, first president of the
Dallas Theological Seminary:
"No one is saved against his will, and no one disbelieves against his
Scripture clearly emphasizes that some are elected to salvation, and the
unsaved are destined for their lot, not because men who desired salvation were unable to
choose to secure it, but always on the ground that those who are unsaved chose to be
No one will ever be able to stand before God and say, "I wanted to be
saved but was unable to do so because I was not elected."5
D. R. Dugan, Hermeneutics: A Text Book, 3d ed. (Cincinnati: The
Standard Publishing Company, n.d.) Chap VII and VIII. Also from Milton S. Terry, Biblical
Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, n.d.), Gerhard F.
"Principles of Biblical Interpretation" in A Symposium on Biblical
Hermeneutics, Gordon M. Hyde, ed. (Washington: The Review and Herald Publishing
Association, 1974); and Walter M. Dunnet, The Interpretation of Holy Scripture
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984).
(Zondervan; Grand Rapids), pg. 661
The NIV Matthew Henry Commentary
- (Mercer University Press; Macon), pg.
Mercer Commentary on the Bible
Gilbert Bilezikian, Christianity 101, Grand Rapids: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1993), pg. 153
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes: 52 Vital Doctrines of the
Scripture Simplified and Explained (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1974)