to all readers: In the following presentation Greek terms are presented using the Greek
font designed and developed by Bill Mounce. This font is available for download and
installation on your computer system by clicking on the following links: for Windows: download the Mounce font. If you
use a Mac, or if the preceding link does not work for you, go to the following URL and
download from there: http://www.teknia.com/fonts/grkfnt.html. This article may also
contain Hebrew words. Click here
to download a zip file containing the proper Hebrew font.]
I wish to thank any reader who has taken the time to read this far through
this rather lengthy exchange. It is my hope that you have been benefited by the sections
that actually managed to focus upon the topic of the debate: an exegetical discussion of
the simple fact that the Bible teaches the doctrine of predestination.
Having reached the concluding comments, I wish to be very focused in
making sure that everyone is fully aware of the fundamentals of the debate so that a
meaningful and biblically-based decision can be rendered by each readernot that the
truth of this debate is determined by vote or popular opinion, for it is not. Instead,
Gods truth judges each of us, and we are each held accountable to that truth,
whether it is popular or not. If only a few, or even none, were willing to believe
Gods truth, that would only condemn us all as unbelievers. It would not change
Gods truth. My presentation has not been designed to convince the person who is not
willing to bow before Gods Word and conform himself/herself to that revelation. I
cant help such a person. But, if you wish to know what the Bible teaches, and follow
after that truth, I hope you have been benefited.
In my closing statement I wish to do four things: 1) document further
errors of fact made by Mr. Barksdale in his second rebuttal; 2) Summarize the biblical
evidence on the point of the debate; 3) Offer a word to the LDS reader of this debate; 4)
Offer a word to the Evangelical reader of this debate.
Many More Errors
In my previous response I documented the fact that Mr. Barksdale not only
uses some rather interesting sources for his arguments (including world-famous nihilistic
philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche), but his exegesis is marked by simple, basic errors in
research and understanding. I documented that he would often respond to comments on one
verse by citing commentary on a completely different passage. In another instance,
he criticized me for comments on the meaning of one Greek word by citing a reference about
a completely different Greek word. Unfortunately, this kind of mishandling of the most
basic elements of the text continues in Mr. Barksdales second response. Not only is
the biblical text completely misrepresented, but even my own words are made to say
something they did not originally say. These errors are significant for any person wishing
to weigh our respective presentations on the basis of accuracy and cogency.
Mr. Barksdale attempts to respond to my exegesis of Jeremiah 1:5, but in
doing so demonstrates that he has badly misread my words. For example, he writes:
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
What I wrote, however, is:
Yahweh formed (rc'y" , yazer) Jeremiah in the womb. rc'y" refers to creative
activity, much as we see in Psalm 139:13-16, where the Psalmist refers to the time when
Yahweh looked upon his "unformed substance" (a term that can refer to the embryo
The term "same" does not appear in what I wrote; it is obvious
that I did not say that
rc'y" refers to an embryo or
fetus, but am referring to Mlego which, of course, any lexical source defines as "embryo,
fetus." In the same way, he completely misreads my comments regarding the same
terms use in Jeremiah 1:5. He begins by denying the obvious: that yatzer is
used in parallel with bara in numerous passages, and is part of a group of terms
used to refer to creation (just one example: Isaiah 43:1). Then Mr. Barksdale writes,
"Is Mr. White seriously suggesting that yatsar is only used in the Bible to
refer to creation by God alone? Yup." He then goes on to disprove this false
assertion. I never made the claim, however, that Mr. Barksdale refutes. In fact, any
person who read my presentation can see that I said bara is used only of God (see
footnote 3), but I never so much as intimated that this is true of any other term. Mr.
Barksdale has simply misread my words.
But of far more concern and import to our debate is the attempt to deal in
some fashion with the words of the Lord Jesus at John 6:35-45. There is truly no passage
that is so clear, so cogent, so weighty in its teaching of the sovereignty of God in
salvation and election than this. And certainly there is no end to the attempts that have
been offered to get around the plain teaching it presents. But the text is clear. Jesus
explains why men who have seen Him do not believe (6:36). He insists that ALL (not some,
not most, but ALL) that the Father gives to Him will come to Him (6:37).
Grammatically and syntactically, the act of giving by the Father must precede
the coming to the Son. God acts in giving to the Son (election), the elected ones respond
by coming infallibly to Christ in faith. Mr. Barksdales only way around this simple
fact is to leave John completely and go to a disputed passage in Mark 16 which nowhere
even attempts to address the relationship between the election of the Father and the
response of the elect person. It is this "coming one" that is never cast out
(6:37). The Lord goes on to explain the Fathers will for Him (v. 39): that of all
that the Father has given to Him (here using the perfect de,dwke,n
rather than the present di,dwsi,n
used in 6:37 due to the gathering of the elect into a
single whole, seen through the use of the neuter singular pronouns in 6:39), He lose nothing,
but raise it up at the last day. He then identifies those who are so given by the Father
as those who are coming and believing in Him (6:40). Remember, however, that Jesus has
already indicated the relationship between being given and coming: the Fathers
action precedes the action of man, and therefore determines it. This is re-iterated
in 6:44, where the Lord makes it plain that no man has the ability to come to Him outside
of the divine drawing of the Father, a drawing obviously that is limited to the elect,
since it likewise results in their being raised up to eternal life. This is directly
contradictory to Mr. Barksdales assertion that "ANYONE can come to Christ and
be saved." Instead, Jesus taught that "whosoever will" is the key: and
since no one will unless enabled by the Father (6:65), only the elect
"will" do so.
But most instructive for us is the attempt by Mr. Barksdale to introduce
us to a completely new, never before seen "translation" of John 6:39 that,
seemingly, removes his difficulties with this passage. He begins with the seemingly
obligatory insult: "The text of this passage allows for some other possibilities that
Mr. White is loath for our readers to see." To be honest, I had never seen Mr.
Barksdales "possibility," since, as we shall see, it doesnt exist to
anyone who actually engages in exegesis of the text. Here is his assertion:
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.
Now, I hope we all remember that Mr. Barksdale rejects any translations I
offer, yet, we have here an offered "translation" from him. Surely, if there is
merit in his assertion, this would alleviate him from many problems with this passage in
John 6. Yet, isnt it a little strange that he would offer us a translation of a
language he does not claim to be able to read? And given that I am not familiar with a single
English translation anywhere that renders the passage as Mr. Barksdale, what does
it mean that he would go to these lengths? Lets look at the claim, as it speaks to
my opponents entire effort to engage in "exegesis" in this debate.
The first assertion to examine is his statement that
divdwmi can mean
"made." We are offered no lexical sources for this assertion. Where does it come
from? The standard scholarly lexicon, that of Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker, A
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd
edition, gives reference to a majority of the 446 appearances of divdwmi in the New Testament (75
in the Gospel of John). The vast majority mean "to give." The only exception is
the fifth section under the third definition, which reads, "equivalent to tiqevnai put, place
money in the bank Lk 19:23; appoint someone
judges Ac 13:20; w.
double acc. appoint someone someth
.(to be) apostles Eph 4:11
someone head 1:22" (p. 193). Here is the only reference to
"make" in the entry, and it is obviously not "make" in the sense of
"create," but "make" as in "make someone head" or
"place" in a position, a meaning utterly different than that presented by Mr.
Barksdale.1 Further, BAGD lists John 6:39 not here, but under the meaning
"entrust someone to anothers care," which is exactly what the
Father does: He entrusts His people to the Sons care for their salvation.
Hence, Mr. Barksdale is in error to say that divdwmi can mean "make" in the
sense he then uses it. The word means to give, to entrust, and even when used as an
equivalent term to tithemi, still means "to place in a position." None of
these meanings, however, comports with the use made by Barksdale. This is one of the
reasons why no English translation produced by scholars translates the passage as he does:
the word doesnt mean what Mr. Barksdale says.
But there is an even more startling problem with Mr. Barksdales
"translation." It takes only a moments comparison to see the problem: an
entire word, moi,
the dative singular pronoun translated "to Me" in all English translations, is,
quite simply, missing in Mr. Barksdales "translation"! That is, all
English translations recognize that the passage speaks of the Father giving to
someone, and that someone is the Son. "All that the Father gives to Me"
is the phrase. "To Me" is completely missing in Barksdales
"translation." Where did it go? Look again at his suggested rendering. I will
place a line where the term moi should appear:
"And this is the Fathers
will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath made _____ I should lose nothing, but
should raise [it] up again at the last day."
Obviously he cant include it, since that would result in "which
He made to Me," which is utter nonsense. The presence of
moi makes the translation
"made" utterly impossible. This is the other reason no English translation
renders it this wayno person who can read the language would ever suggest it. The
meaning of the word is thereby misrepresented by Barksdale, and the text itself is
altered, with an entire word "skipped over" simply because my opponent does not
wish to accept the plain teaching of the passage.
Now, we should stop for a moment to reflect upon this situation. The
foundation of this debate was to be the exegesis of the text of Scripture. When one side
has to change the text of Scripture by skipping over words and mistranslating
basic words such as divdwmi, is this not an indication that the position being presented is unable to remain
faithful to the text under consideration? The very first day I challenged Darryl Barksdale
on this topic I pointed him to the fundamental structure of the text, and I have not
changed my position since then. Yet, we have now seen that not only are his past attempts
to respond to the exegesis of Ephesians or Romans marked by a singular inability to
interact with the specific texts cited (resulting in his confusion as to what words are
being discussed), but now we find him willing to offer his own "translation,"
along with the assertion that I am "loath" to allow anyone to consider it, which
is in fact a complete mistranslation, based upon an erroneous understanding of one
Greek word, and the complete dismissal of another! If Mr. Barksdales position is
exegetically sound, why cant he demonstrate it from the text itself?
In response to the citation of 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Peter 3:9 that
follows this attempt to deal with John 6:39, I quote Gods Sovereign Grace, a
work I wrote in 1991 (and offered to send to Mr. Barksdale at the commencement of our
debate, but he declined):
Q: 2 Peter 3:9 indicates that God does
not want anyone to perish. Doesn't this disprove the doctrine of election?
A: We must always apply sound rules of exegesis to the Scriptures. Peter
accepted the Old Testament's teaching about the nature of God. He knew Psalm 135:6 and
115:3, and the truth that whatever God pleases, He does. And, since we have already seen
that repentance is the gift of God, could He not give repentance to anyone He chooses?
Finally, the context of the passage must be consulted. 2 Peter is written to the elect, as
2 Peter 1:1 shows. In chapter 3, Peter is explaining the delay of the parousia,
that is, the coming of Christ. He explains that Christ will indeed return, and that the
delay is in order that God may gather His people. "He is patient with you,"
Peter writes to God's people, "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to
repentance." The "everyone" is in reference to all of God's elect. The only
reason that you are reading this book nearly 2,000 years later is because God has been
patient, giving the world all this time, so that all of God's elect could be gathered in.
Q: 1 Timothy 2:4 says that God wants all men to be saved and to come to a
knowledge of the truth. Doesn't this disprove the concept of election?
A: Again, the entire context of Scripture, as well as of the passage, must
be considered. Aside from all the passages that clearly indicate God's ability to save all
men, and bring all men to a knowledge of the truth if He so desired, we again note the
context of the passage. Verse five speaks of the mediatorship of Jesus Christ, and, as we
saw in our examination of the atonement and intercession of Christ, this work is
undertaken in behalf of God's people. Therefore, the term "men" in verse 5 is
limited to the elect of God. As John Owen noted in this regard,
What then, I pray? what will be concluded hence? Cannot Christ be a
mediator between God and men, but he must be a mediator for all men? Are not the elect
men? do not the children partake of flesh and blood? doth not his church consist of men?
What reason is there to assert, out of an indefinite proposition, a universal conclusion?
Because Christ was a mediator for men (which were true had he been so only for his
apostles), shall we conclude therefore he was so for all men? (John Owen, The Death of
Death in the Death of Christ, p. 78.)
The same is to be said for verse 6, where the ransom sacrifice of Christ
is mentioned. We have seen that this sacrifice was made in behalf of the people of God,
not for each and every individual. Therefore, if verses five and six specifically mention
the work of Christ in behalf of the elect, verse four does as well. This fits consistently
with the entire teaching of Scripture. "All men" here is the same
"all" that are given by the Father to the Son in John 6:37.
Q: Doesn't the Bible exhort "whosoever will" to come?
A: Yes, it does. The Gospel message is addressed to all men. However, just
who "wills" to come? We know that the natural man does not understand the things
of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14) and that no man seeks after God (Romans 3:11).
We also know that the Lord Jesus said that no man is able to come to Him unless the
Father draws him. So, outside of God's initial move in regeneration, no man will
"will" to come to Christ.
Q: If God has already chosen who will be saved, why share the gospel,
since they will be saved whether we are involved in evangelism or not?
A: This is probably the most common objection that is voiced against the
doctrine of election. There is a clear answer, but before getting to that, we should note
that the question is not a proper one; that is, our questions should be based upon the
teaching of the word of God, not what we can or cannot necessarily understand. Even if we
did not have an answer to the question, would this necessarily mean that Ephesians 1:11
does not teach what it obviously teaches?
But, we do have an answer anyway. First, we evangelize to glorify God. We
do not go out to "save" anybody, since we are incapable of doing that in the
first place. We share the gospel because by so doing, we bring glory to God. If that is
all the reason we had, it would be sufficient. But there is more. We know that God has
given us a great privilege to be used by Him in His work in this world. He has
given to us a blessing to be able to share the gospel with men. God has decreed both the
ends and the means. He has decreed to use men in sharing the gospel with His elect.
Why has He done so? I do not know. I only know that His Word reveals that it is so. God
has not seen fit to give us knowledge of who is, and who is not, His elect. Therefore, we
share the gospel with all men, and trust God to honor the proclamation of His
message by drawing the elect unto Himself. We can share boldly with all men, knowing that
God is powerful to save, and as long as we seek to glorify Him, He will care for us and
bless us with His Spirit.
The Matter Concluded
The Bible teaches that God predestines men to salvation through Christ
Jesus. It is clear that the elect are known to God, and are chosen on the basis of His own
mercy, grace, and will. We have already seen this plainly presented in Ephesians 1, Romans
8-9, and John 6. Try as anyone might, it is a fruitless task to attempt to deny these
plain facts. Every effort to overthrow this doctrine has failed, for the Word is too
plain, too consistent. Mr. Barksdale could not answer that first day in the AOL chat room
why it was that the accusative direct object of "predestine" was the plural
personal pronoun, "us." To this day, he cannot overthrow that simple fact.
Few of those who reject Gods electing grace have any accurate
knowledge as to what they are denying. Most react solely out of emotion, not out of
thought or study. When one truly begins to consider what it means that "salvation is
of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9) and that it is "by His doing you are in Christ
Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:30), certain truths come flooding into the mind. First, that
God is truly worthy to be worshipped and praised, since He is truly God (and not man,
Hosea 11:9), the Creator, the Potter, in whose hands I am but the clay. The arrogant pride
of man is shattered by just a glimpse of the true God, and it is that pride that is so
badly crushed by the sovereignty of grace. All grounds of boasting, all reasons for
arrogance and pride, are cut off by the gospel of grace. I am no better than any other. I
am not "smarter" in that I have "figured it out" while the lost do
not. I am not "more righteous" because I somehow "worked the plan"
while those in eternal punishment did not. No, there is only one thing that separates me
from the sinner undergoing righteous punishment in hell: grace, a five letter word that
becomes to the believer life itself. That is why in eternity to come it is grace that will
be our song, grace that will be the object of our praise (Ephesians 1:6). And that is why
it is that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), for
"it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good
pleasure" (v. 13). The fear and trembling I have is in recognition of the holiness
and awesomeness of the God who is at work within me, doing His good pleasure!
I am under no illusions that the majority of folks will like what I have
to say. Gods truth is not a matter of vote or popularity: indeed, truth is rarely
very close to popular opinion. And when it comes to telling men and women of the
sovereignty of God, and how men are enemies of God, lost sinners utterly without hope
(Romans 3:10-18), and that they are completely and totally dependent upon God and His
mercy to save them, I well know how the heart as yet to be touched by grace responds to that
message. But I boldly proclaim it anyway. Why? Because it is true, and because God will
honor His truth. His sheep hear His voice. His people will not be caused to stumble by His
Word. The message will get through to the elect, and no power in heaven or earth can stop
God from bringing His people into relationship with Himself. Conviction and conversion is
Gods work---I am but privileged to be an instrument to bring His truth to His people
in His time and in His way.
A Word to LDS Readers
Over the past decade and a half Ive spoken with literally thousands
of LDS people. I well know how very different this message is to your ears. It is truly my
hope that you will consider well the teaching of Scripture: that you will recognize that
one cannot skip and jump about seeking to find some other passage to explain away
the meaning of the one under consideration. Take the time to check out the sources cited,
but more importantly, the text itself. Listen to Paul describe election in Ephesians 1,
and see if there is, indeed, anything "human" mixed into it. Listen as Jesus
says "no man is able to come to Me" in John 6:44, and that "all that the
Father gives Me will come to Me" in verse 37. Follow the Golden Chain of Redemption
in Romans 8, and see if it is not the work, completely, of a sovereign God.
Mr. Barksdale has accused me of taking "digs" at Mormonism by
doing such things as citing Joseph Smiths own words in the King Follett Discourse.
Such are not, of course, digs, anymore than Stephen Robinson or Daniel Peterson are taking
"digs" at Mormonism when they, likewise, cite the same words. The simple fact of
the matter is, electing grace has no ground in Mormonism simply because there is no
corresponding God in Mormonism who could produce it. That is, it is theology proper (the
doctrine of God) in Christianity that supports soteriology (the doctrine of salvation).
But in Mormonisms theology, there is no eternal, omnipotent Creator, hence, there is
no possibility that a Mormon, assuming the LDS doctrine of God, could understand the
concept of sovereign grace. If you believe God is an exalted man, one of our own species,
the idea of election, predestination, and even sovereignty, can make no sense to you. I am
well aware of this. One might well say, "Then why bother talking to Mormons about
such things?" Because, I have seen my God reveal Himself through His Word to LDS
people. Ive seen Him utterly remove the false concepts about His existence, and
replace them with the truth of His eternal power and sovereignty. Ive seen Him open
eyes to the depth of sin, and the absolute necessity of grace. Thats my confidence,
and it is truly my prayer that you will be the recipient of His grace even this hour.
A Word to My Fellow Evangelical Christians
Years ago I began saying this, and I will say it again: the Gospel is ours
to proclaim, not to edit. We have no right to shave off the "rough edges" in the
interest of making the Gospel "look better" to our modern, self-absorbed world.
We have no business meddling with the very power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). It
is the Gospel that changes hearts, and makes those who hate God love Him. It is the only
power given to the Church, and we should treat it as precious.
There are many in Evangelicalism who have relegated the discussion of
election and predestination to "deep doctrine we dont need to worry
about," or a topic "upon which good men have differed." Yet it is
definitional, fundamental, and determines the very nature of our theology, our evangelism,
our view of the Church, and our apologetic. We are deprived of our foundation and depth in
truth when we ignore these topics, or fail to proclaim them, fearing the face of men. The
great London Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, said it in terms granted by divine
There is no attribute of God more
comforting to His children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty. Under the most adverse
circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty hath ordained
their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify
them all. There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend
than the dominion of their Master over all creation the kingship of God over all
the works of His own hands the throne of God, and His right to sit upon that
On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by
worldlings, no truth
of which they have made such a football, as; the great, stupendous, but yet most certain
doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere
except upon His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and to
make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His
bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or
light the lamps of Heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God
ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an
enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He
thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are hissed and
execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the
God they love. They love Him anywhere better than they do when He sits with His scepter in
His hand and His crown upon His head. But it is God upon the throne that we love to
preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust.2
I ask you to join with me in revealing to our LDS friends the truth about
God: who He is, and what He has done in Christ Jesus. They speak often of the Gospel, but
have not heard it. They need bold Christians who share in love: love for God, love for His
truth, which leads to a love for those who need to hear that truth. We are not loving
the LDS people when we give them only half-truths. We show our love most fully when we
lay ourselves on the line, absorb the slings and arrows that come from sharing with them,
and trust God with the results. Only then are we truly fulfilling Christs command to
love our neighbor as ourselves.
We shall never be clearly persuaded, as we ought to be, that our
salvation flows from the wellspring of Gods free mercy until we come to know his
eternal election, which illumines Gods grace by this contrast: that he does not
indiscriminately adopt all into the hope of salvation but gives to some what he denies to
others. ---John Calvin
May God be glorified as His truth is made known.
1 For those interested, this
usage is even further removed from the use made by Mr. Barksdale: it refers to a double
accusative (as in Ephesians 1:22), and there is, of course, no accusative direct object of
divdwmi in John
2Sermon delivered May 4, 1856 on
Matthew 20:15, The Spurgeon Collection CD-ROM, Ages Software, 1998.
Word Count: 4991