The Hunt/White Debate
Affirmed Chapter 5: THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF REDEMPTION
by James White
Now White turns to Romans 8, especially vs. 28-30, as "one of the clearest... of God’s absolute sovereignty in salvation". He interprets 28 as meaning that God has to decree everything in order to make it "work together for good". That is, he presumes that his view must be the only way to make this possible. He continues to impose his own definition of sovereignty onto all of scripture and makes no exceptions for any reason— except of course when it comes to making God the author of sin. And he seems to think that non-Calvinists actually take this verse to apply to unbelievers, but I’m sure Hunt will correct him on that. Yet White does not realize that he has shot himself in the foot with this emphasis: does God not sovereignly control all the actions of unbelievers as well, such that He causes all things to work together for evil for them? Is God "sovereign over human affairs" or not?
White moves to verse 29 and lists the five verbs there: foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. Yet here again the predestination is not to salvation but to "become conformed". The Greek reads: "that whom he-foreknew and he-predestined to-be-confirmed of-the image of-the son..." It is the foreknown who will be made to conform to the likeness of Jesus. White errs in claiming they are all in the past tense; the aorist is not necessarily past. It is presumed on the basis of context alone and could very well be rendered in the present tense. We would have legitimate grammatical right to render it "those he foreknew he predestines".
Ignoring White’s further accusations of his opponent’s "traditions" and his mockery of the actual definition of foreknowledge. we see his attempt to make the fact that "foreknow" is an active verb into an indictment of those who he thinks (erroneously) take it to be passive. This is grasping at straws, because no one considers God’s foreknowledge to be something He does not do. And who has ever said that this foreknowledge is only applied to events and not people? Is it permissible for White to burn straw men, but not for his opponent? I am wondering now if White intends to conduct both sides of the debate himself.
Moving on to White’s examination of vs. 31 we note that he is still proceeding on the erroneous assumption that non-Calvinists think this all applies to unbelievers as well as believers. Verses that clearly state Jesus died for "the world" are ignored in this, such that White would divorce some parts of scripture from others in order to only allow discussion of the ones he can use in his argument.
At the end White once again declares that the passage "cannot be understood" without his particular definition of sovereignty. After all this time he still has not faced the point Hunt made, that God’s sovereignty is not thwarted by man’s free will, and that God is not as sovereign as they claim if He cannot go against His alleged eternal decree. He chooses instead to look forward to a discussion of chapter 9, which undoubtedly will be taken to refer not to Jews and Gentiles but lost and saved.
Response, by Dave Hunt
As expected, Hunt reminds White of his "extreme view of sovereignty", and his misunderstanding of grammar. And as 1 John 4:19 clearly states, it is the love of God, not His sovereignty, that causes us to love Him in return. Then Hunt reminds us that the context of Rom. 8 is not salvation at all, but blessings promised to the foreknown. So Hunt wants White to find any clear statement in scripture which restricts the offer of salvation to a select group who is guaranteed to accept it. The reason for requiring this precision is because it would have to overturn so many other scriptures to the contrary.
Hunt then focuses on the issue of foreknowledge. Calvinism clearly teaches that God can only foreknow what He decrees. But as Hunt asks, "what is ’foreknowledge’ if not ’omniscient foresight’?" No one claims ’foreknowledge’ for that which they forced to happen, because to foreknow is to know without causing. There is no divine power needed to predict the outcome of a rigged game. So Calvinism effectively robs God of His foreknowledge and assigns to Him no more prophetic power than any human would have. Hunt exposes the folly of this idea by inserting Calvinist definitions into Rom. 8:29: "for whom he did predestine, he also did predestine".
In continuing to examine White’s claims concerning foreknowledge, Hunt shows that his attempt to turn it into "fore-loving" is self-defeating, because it means God must love all people, elect or not. He also observes another case of Calvinism’s inconsistent interpretation of "all" re. 1 Tim. 2:6, and calls out White on his attempt to shift the burden of proof (for the definition of "all") to non-Calvinists.
Defense, by James White
Finally, White admits to having an extreme view of sovereignty but indicates that he still does not see what’s wrong with it. He still believes that an absolutely sovereign God does not have the sovereignty to allow man free will. So it appears that the inherent contradiction of his view remains beyond his grasp. While it is common for people to claim that their view is the "Biblical" one, this is hardly "proof" and is not appropriate in debate.
With more repetitions of "tradition", "misleading", "misunderstanding" and more, White only impresses the reader with his refusal to follow his own rules for the debate. He continues to deny Hunt the right to show that various scriptures cannot mean what White asserts, accusing him of ignoring his "lexical information" while doing the same to him in return. And he has the audacity to chide Hunt for trying to win by declaration! To top it all off, White describes Hunt as using "mantra-like phrases". I stand in awe of White’s utter blindness to his own faults.
Final Remarks, by Dave Hunt
Hunt begins with a refutation of White’s interpretation of Daniel 4:34, focusing on his maligning of the character of God by making Him the cause of both good and evil. And he calls him out on the Calvinist practice of inventing terms like "prescriptive will" that is allegedly not the same as "decree". He repeats, because White keeps asserting otherwise, that God cannot have foreknowledge if He only knows what He decrees.
Final Remarks, by James White
White declares Hunt’s lexical information to be in error and accuses him of having "no concept of the issue at hand". But White cannot even follow Hunt’s simple rebuttal to his (White’s) own argument. Hunt is disputing White’s interpretation, which is based upon that of Augustine, but White thinks Hunt is instead arguing with Paul. And then White repeats his acceptance of "foreknow" as "fore-love" in spite of all Hunt’s refutation.