Archive for the ‘ Sharpening ’ Category

Contact Sports

Last evening a brother pointed me to a comment by Emir Caner posted on Twitter back on the 12th of May. I have included it in the graphic so as to document that it is clearly from Emir Caner, and also to note his re-tweeting of Hussein Wario’s article “Desperate Muslims and Ignoramus Christians” as well. This demonstrates Emir Caner is in touch with Hussein Wario.

James White

HusseinWario: @emircaner Have you seen this? Were you in touch with me? I am speechless. Lord have mercy!!!
HusseinWario: @RazorsKiss Have you seen this? What do you think of it? The part about me is all speculation (also tweeted to several others, including @hereiblog) as is his habit)
RazorsKiss: @HusseinWario Yes. As you typically do, you tweeted your opinion to Dr. Caner, who seems to have mis-cited both you and the source.

Conversation with @hereiblog:
hereiblog: @HusseinWario ALL speculation? Sir, I’m afraid I don’t see it. I’m also afraid our communication on this will only be hindered by twitter.
HusseinWario: @hereiblog I was never in touch with @emircaner when I wrote my article and for James White to claim that just based on a retwt is absurd.
HusseinWario: @hereiblog @emircaner was not following me.
hereiblog: @HusseinWario So you’re not willing to give @droakley1689 the benefit of the doubt of what he means by “in touch with”?
HusseinWario: @hereiblog I don’t know if someone proofreads @droakley1689 articles. That sentence destroys his whole argument.
heriblog: @HusseinWario If one sentence destroys the whole article what do years of numerous “misstatements” by @erguncaner destroy?
Hussein: @hereiblog I give him the benefit of the doubt that he is not out to hurt people.
hereiblog: @HusseinWario If you don’t give him the benefit of doubt aren’t you doing what you accuse him of?
HusseinWario: @hereiblog That is a good question.
HusseinWario: @hereiblog There are no sacred cows @droakley1689 @erguncaner @emircaner Christians bickering in public needs to stop. Not a good witness.

Conversation picks up with me.
HusseinWario: @RazorsKiss And I tweeted my opinion to you because it is what it.
RazorsKiss: @HusseinWario Okay. I was just saying that you contacted Dr. Caner about that issue – so you two were “in contact” – as we are now.
HusseinWario: @RazorsKiss The question is, was I in contact with @emircaner as @droakley1689 alleges in his article? I hope you know the answer to that.

Apparently, the problem seems to be that he has a different definition for “in contact” than everyone else is using. Retweeting is not contact, it seems. Nor is reading his blog “contact”. Nor is Hussein contacting Emir actually “contact”. (Or being ‘in touch’, as the article states) Obviously, he knows what “in touch” means – “a coming into or being in contact”. As Hussein contacted Dr. Emir Caner, they were thus “in contact”. They were “in touch”. The content of Emir’s following tweet clearly shows that he read Hussein’s blog – as did the retweeting of that url. Once again – in contact. Once again, Hussein “contacts” Emir to let him know about Dr. White’s latest post.

Now, unless being “in touch” has a special modifier that I didn’t see in the article’s context, Hussein has been “in touch” with Emir. Emir was “in touch” with Hussein – by retweeting his blog entry url, reading it, and responding to the content of that blog entry.

Honestly? Words have meaning. Don’t try to play with them, and don’t try to artificially insert an acontextual reading of them. You contacted Emir. He read your blog, retweeted it, and responded to what you drew his attention to. You were “in touch”. Exactly how you and I were “in touch” today, and previously. While it sounds pious to state that we shouldn’t “bicker” in public – doing exactly that while saying we shouldn’t is, as I mentioned in my last posts on this topic, inconsistent. Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.


When I was listening to Phil Johnson’s sermon “Marching Orders” earlier, I found myself convicted of something.

I have to confess – the recent controversy swirling around Dr. White and Dr. Caner has caught me up in something I must repent of. It’s something very simple, but not often thought of by those who engage in contention for the faith.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus [and] with [it] eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. Remind [them] of these things, and solemnly charge [them] in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless [and leads] to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly [and] empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, [men] who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these [things], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love [and] peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses [and escape] from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2:10-26, NASB)

So, to explain my repentance, I figure this is a good time to explain why I should, as it will perhaps be helpful to others. First, let’s address the overview of the chapter. Paul is encouraging and instructing his son in the faith, Timothy, in the office of elder/overseer. In this chapter, he gives practical instruction concerning what an elder must do. Now, for full disclosure purposes, I am not an elder. However, I am a teacher, and as such, am held to a higher standard.

In verse 10, Paul gives his own philosophy of ministry – also explicated in Philippians 2 – of service and suffering for the sake of the elect. He endures, because he will reign with Christ – to deny Him is to have Christ deny us. Even if we are faithless – He still remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself! He charges Timothy to remind his flock of these things, and to remind them not to quarrel over trifling matters. This is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers. On the contrary – be diligent – be a workman who is not ashamed. Rightly handle the Word of Truth. Avoid worldly, empty chatter – it spreads like gangrene! However, note that Paul is not afraid to name names, as he does elsewhere, of people who stray from the truth. The firm foundation, however, is of God – and stands still. God is who prepares the appropriate vessels for the appropriate work.

Flee from youthful lusts – but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace – with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. Notice here – peace is always with those of God. If you have peace with the world, you’re doing something wrong. But on we go!

Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations – they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bondservant, however, is NOT quarrelsome – not given to quarreling, for the sake of quarreling. But, and this is where we get to where my problem lies:

He must be: kind to all – am I kind to all? No, I’m not – and I repent of that, and ask forgiveness.

able to teach – I pray that I at least fulfill this duty faithfully.

patient when wronged – the ESV renders this as “patiently enduring evil”. Now, what is interesting about this is that I definitely am a violator of this. I am not only impatient with evil, but I rebel at enduring it – for the sake of God, the elect, or anyone else. It means “patient of ills and wrongs, forbearing” – I have been failing miserably at forbearance in this regard. It doesn’t matter what the wrong is – or whether it is directed at another. This ties in with the next consideration.

…with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses [and escape] from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

I am fond of quoting Bahnsen, and Schaeffer – their “humble boldness” and “truth in love” are dear to my heart. I must confess, however, that I am often ungentle in my correction. I nuke when I should use a scalpel, and I use a club when I should be using a careful razor’s edge to shave away the layers of falsity.

I have kept this name to remind myself to do just that – but I’ve failed in my task, and I ask your forgiveness for this fault. Especially, I ask the forgiveness of Mr. Lumpkins. While I do not minimize the depth of his error in the libel in which he has lately engaged, I’m very sorry for not patiently enduring it, and correcting gently. It doesn’t matter how deep the wound that is made is – or how loyal I strive to be to a friend and a dear brother. I am still called to – and held to – the standard of Scripture in dealing with error – and I haven’t met it. I also ask the forgiveness of anyone else whom I’ve lately been ungentle with – or have talked about impatiently out of their hearing. It is not the standard to which I’ve been called.

It’s something I need to work on, and once again, I repent of it.


What really strikes me about atheists in general is their amazing double standards.

They can mock you, ridicule you, write thousands of words for the sole purpose of painting you as an absolute ignoramus – yet, when you tell them you’re no longer interested in dialogue, as there is no further gain to the discussion, point out their constant harangues, you’re being “childish”. It’s just utterly amazing to me.

It’s like they don’t even see it at all. I could go through dozens of places in their posts where Christianity is derided, denigrated, or ad hominems are scattered like fallen leaves – but point that fact out, and you’re some sort of anti-social troglodyte.

All I have to say is this: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?” I’m SO sorry that calling a spade a spade is so offensive to your sensibilities – that you cannot account for. If you don’t like being told that your endless meanderings are a waste of everyone’s time, then I suggest you stop wasting it – “not to wrangle about words, which is useless {and leads} to the ruin of the hearers.”

God is Sovereign over Possibility

God is Sovereign. He ordains all things, whatsoever. He is unconstrained by anything; yet by Him, all things are constrained. God is eternal. He did not begin, He did not end. He is outside of time. God is unchanging. No aspect of God is subject to change. He does not alter in any fashion.

A popular (and approaching universal) conception of possibility entails there being a multiplicity of hypothetical possibilities to be selected from. In the case of God, it is often advanced that God is selecting from amongst multiple possibilities which He has to choose from. My design is to show that such a conception is completely at odds with who God is. First, Scripture.

which He will bring about at the proper time– He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him [be] honor and eternal dominion! Amen. ~1 Tim. 6:15-16

also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will – Eph 1:11

Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; [I am] God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned [it, surely] I will do it. ~ Isaiah 46:9-11

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him [be] the glory forever. Amen. ~Romans 11:33-36

Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it? ~Isa 43:13

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, {Too} little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity. ~Micah 5:2

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. ~Rom 1:20

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, {be} honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. ~1Tim 1:17

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? ~Heb 9:14

{Abraham} planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. ~Gen 21:33

The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms; And He drove out the enemy from before you, And said, ‘Destroy!’ ~Deu 33:27

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. Then all the people said, “Amen,” and praised the LORD. ~1 Chr 16:36

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen. ~ Psa 41:13

Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. ~Psa 90:2

Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. ~Psa 93:2

Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, {we have} an everlasting Rock. ~Isa 26:4

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. ~Isa 40:28

But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation. ~Jer 10:10

Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct. ~Hab 1:12

Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind. ~1 Sam 15:29

The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek. ~ Psa 110:4

For this the earth shall mourn And the heavens above be dark, Because I have spoken, I have purposed, And I will not change My mind, nor will I turn from it. ~ Jer 4:28

For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. ~Mal 3:6

My covenant I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. ~Psa 89:34

Jesus Christ {is} the same yesterday and today and forever. ~Heb 13:8

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow ~James 1:17.

for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. ~Rom 11:29

Therefore the earth will mourn and the heavens above grow dark, because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back. ~Jer 4:28

Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. ~Psa 102:26

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. ~Heb 6:17-18

Note first: This is the consistent view of Scripture. God is Sovereign. God is Eternal. God is immutable. God is also self-sufficient, all-wise, infinite, holy, trinitarian, omniscient, faithful, perfect, loving, self-existent, just, merciful, good, and omnipresent. All of these attributes are interrelated. Therefore, if an imperfect conception of one of God’s attributes is held to, the rest are compromised.

For the concerns of this post, I will concentrate on the first three mentioned, but will refer to all of God’s attributes, to show how the argument I am making violates none of God’s attributes as listed above, while showing how the popular conception of possibility violates many, if not them all.

When we think of God, should we think of God as thinking linearly? Where every one of his thoughts follows a linear progression? To do such a thing requires that God be *changing* – having *new* thoughts. This is unacceptable, when matched against Scripture. So, how must we think of God’s thinking? Well, God is eternal. Would His thoughts not also be eternal? God, being omniscient, knows all things. God, being eternal, knows all things simultaneously. God’s knowledge of all things is also related to His ordination of all things – His sovereign decree. As God decreed all things from before the foundation of the world, He therefore knows all that He has decreed. Does God “know” that which He has not decreed? What content does a hypothetical “something” not decreed by God have? In these other supposed worlds, not decreed by God, what is the content of them? Not-real, not-decreed non-things? Such a concept, when examined, seems quite a bit akin to “God knows something about nothing”

Further, there cannot be possibility apart from God – as He is self-sufficient and self-existent; since He is, He is the only grounds that can exist for any other existence, and the only thing in existence that can provide that grounds, in His self-sufficiency. If God is perfect – and nothing exists (including concepts, I’d argue) that does not have God as it’s Creator, then this concept involves God having well-nigh infinite numbers of imperfect conceptions of His creation! Not “a creation that is imperfect” – but an “imperfect conception of creation” – almost infinite numbers of them!

When we think of God’s thoughts, should we not think of them as eternal thoughts? Do God’s thoughts escape Him? Do they go away? Are they, unlike everything else about Him, NOT from everlasting to everlasting? If God’s thoughts are, therefore, eternal – “as high above as the heavens are above the earth” – do we *really* expect all of these imperfect conceptions, and as *eternally existing* conceptions? If God’s thoughts are eternal, if they are perfect, if they are sovereign, if they are good, if they are holy, if they are immutable; etc, etc. If they are all that, God would think exactly as He intends, without changing, for all eternity, with utter control, about everything He has decreed will take place. In other words – God thinks exactly as He intends to, without error, and without change. He thinks it for eternity, with sovereign control, and with utter holiness. There IS no possibility apart from the ordination and will of the Holy, Eternal, Sovereign, unchanging God.

A possibility apart from God’s control of it is an affront to His sovereignty. A concept which is imperfect has nothing to do with His perfection. It is NOT good. It is NOT holy. Linear thoughts are not the thoughts of an eternal God. A process in which God chooses from all of the “possible worlds” in which men make “free choices” is not loving – as men are fallen, and *cannot choose God,* and neither are they free. It is also absurd.

If God chooses from among “possible worlds” – what makes them possible or impossible?

If it is God – are the ones not chosen “possible” at all? Why use the term?

If it is NOT God – what puts a condition on God? Is God then sovereign? Is He self-sufficient? Is He truly self-existent? These are things I don’t see ways around, from Scripture, and the revelation of God’s nature to us.

If God is sovereign over all things, He is sovereign over possibility, and always perfectly sovereign.
If God is eternal, His thoughts are eternal. They always have existed, always are existing, and always will exist.
If God is immutable, He cannot change His intention, His mind, His conceptions, His determination of possibility.
If God is perfect, neither His thoughts nor His actions can be imperfect, and this can never change.

We could go on and on with combinations of God’s attributes – but we MUST think linearly, as God has created us to do so; so it is hard for us to contemplate all of God’s attributes at once. Impossible, probably. We do not have that capacity. When we attempt it, however, we find it hard to reconcile these ideas. I’d welcome feedback on these things.

In summary, the concept of all possible worlds cannot be compatible with the Scriptural picture God gives us of Himself.

Suggested Reading:
Whate’er My God Ordains: A Biblical Study of God’s Control
Always Ready, Dr. Greg Bahnsen – esp. Chap. 16, Worldviews in Collision
Revisionary Immunity, Bahnsen (1975)
Science, Subjectivity And Scripture, Banhsen (1979)
At War With The Word – The Necessity Of Biblical Antithesis, Bahnsen (1990)
The Problem of Knowing the “Super-Natural”, Bahnsen (1991)

Debate Transcript

Debate: Is the Triune God of the Scriptures the basis for knowledge?

Affirmative: RazorsKiss

Negative: MitchLeBlanc


1. Introduction

* 1. I’d like to thank Mitch, and all the folks at Urban Philosophy, for hosting the debate this evening, and I’d like to compliment Mitch for his willingness to debate such vital issues. I am no sort of scholar – which I admit – but I would also be the first to tell anyone present that the pursuit of knowledge is something which every human being should be engaged. Where my opponent and I differ, I do believe, is how to properly go about doing just that! I hope and pray that those who watch this discussion will at least take in what they see, and examine it, as the Bereans did in Acts. My earnest desire is that those who watch this exchange will be edified, educated at some point, and perhaps able to more correctly understand where I, at least, am coming from.
* 2. First, the resolution. As I am the affirmative, I get the pleasure of the definition! “The Triune God of Scripture is the proper ground for all knowledge.” I firmly hold to the validity of this proposition, and further, to its ability to explain all of reality as an epistemological basis. For, you see, I’m a Christian. Christians, per their own Scripture, must be humble. They must not be proud, or haughty – or look down at others from their pedestal of superiority. As a Christian, I fully realize that of myself – I’m no different from any other man alive. I share the same Image, which I am created to reflect – and I share the same nature. A human nature. I am a creature – the product of the pinnacle of workmanship of the Creator of all things.
* 3. Since I am a creature, I do not need to be concerned about being my own basis. I need no such concern as a chair needs no such concern about its basis. It has a Creator, as do I! As a Christian, there is a fundamental difference in my thinking – and if I am correct, there is a fundamental problem with the way the entire world thinks about the basis for their own knowledge. I have heard the claim to “arrogance” before. If I ever state something on my own behalf, I will grant that such an accusation is justified. Should I comport myself rudely, as if I am superior, or as if I think myself to be who I am because I am somehow higher – I request that you point this out. However, as a creature – I claim to have a basis for my knowledge which is utterly higher, and transcendently greater than I, or any other human being can ever hope to be.
* 4. Since my claim is not based on myself, but upon a self-revelation from the Triune God described in Scripture – the claim in this case is on the behalf of another. It is conceivable I suppose, to call a perfect Being arrogant for claiming to be your Creator; to own you and the dust of the earth man was formed from It is another thing to assert that His claim to ownership is unwarranted. If what I say is true – God owns you. He owns me. He owns every particle of matter, every joule of energy; established every law we think in accordance with, and ordained every law which governs the world we exist in, at His good pleasure. In short, ladies and gentlemen; if I am correct – and God did do what His Word reveals Him to have accomplished – then every possible foundation for every way of thinking not in accordance with His perfect ordinance is utter, absolute folly.
* 5. My intent is to demonstrate that there is no other epistemological basis that can possibly compare to that possessed by a Christian holding the self-revelation of the Triune God. My goal is to show that any worldview attempting to argue from other than the Christian foundation is, in fact, borrowing from that foundation to do so. That any worldview asserting some sort of “objective” basis for the laws of logic specifically, but for nature and morality as well – is pure subjectivism wrapped up in an objective shell consisting of concepts stolen from their Creator. Concepts like universals. Universals which are abstract, binding, have inherent meaning, and apply to every person – whether they like them to, or WANT them to or not. They apply nonetheless.
* 6. Without the assumption of these universals, there is no coherent communication possible We assume that when we speak, there is a being we are speaking to, with corresponding cognitive processes, having the ability to reason, and possessing the capacity to make conclusions, based upon our communication with them. I have yet to see an epistemological basis which accounts for universals in any satisfying manner. I have a Guarantor which is self-existent, self-sufficient, able to communicate, omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, and sovereign. This grounds for our epistemology, I argue, is the only proper one.
* 2) Epistemology
* 1. When we encounter words like “epistemology”, there is a tendency to make them mysterious – to make it something only the initiated can truly understand. I disagree. Epistemology is the subject at hand every time a child asks you “why”. This endless chain of questions will eventually have a terminator. Where those questions end is where I think you’ll find your epistemological foundation. Why do we know what we know? How do we know? How is this knowledge acquired? What is this knowledge? On what basis do we know it? By what standard? On what (or whose) authority? Those questions are the realm of our discussion.
* 2. “The method of reasoning by presupposition may be said to be indirect, rather than direct. The issue between believers and nonbelievers in Christian theism cannot be settled by a direct appeal to “facts” or “laws” whose nature and significance is already agreed upon by both parties to the debate. The question is rather as to what the final reference point required to make the “facts” and “laws” intelligible. The question is as to what the “facts” and “laws” really are.’ (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 122) As is said elsewhere, by the same author; “We cannot ask how we know without at the same time asking what we know.” (Van Til, Van Til’s Apologetic, 105) In other words – the question of epistemology is central to any consideration of rational discourse. What, how, and why do you know? To go elsewhere before this is addressed, is to beg the question in the favour of your own epistemology.
* 3. So, to answer that question, we are discussing the deep things of knowledge – in fact, we are discussing whether what we think we know, is truly knowledge at all. Still further, we are questioning everything we think is a justification for the knowledge we claim to hold. Since, as Scripture says, I have “the full assurance of understanding, {resulting} in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, {that is,} Christ {Himself,}in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” – I can say, with perfect certainty, that the Triune God of Scripture is not only the proper grounds for all knowledge – but the only possible grounds for all knowledge! I will develop that further in my statement tonight, but my goal is to demonstrate that any epistemology not grounded in that self-existent, self-sufficient perfection of Being is utterly insufficient grounds for knowledge.
* 3) Proper Epistemology
* 1. First, let me remind my opponent, and my audience, that there are no brute facts. Facts are not neutral entities, and they cannot be interpreted in a neutral fashion. This is because facts can only exist in relation to other facts; further, without exception these are interpreted with reference to still other facts. This shows knowledge is interrelated and further shows that facts cannot be interpreted outside of your epistemology, which is a network of assumptions that the one holding that worldview considers to be true.
* 2. Therefore, as philosophers, we have to consider the meaning of the facts – or the concepts – we examine. Those meanings are inseparable from our epistemological foundation. When we think about anything, we are forced to place it into our interpretive grid. We judge all facts through the “prism of our epistemology”, in fact. Here is where I get to the heart of my position.
* 3. As a Christian, I have two axiomatic, interrelated foundations for my epistemology, and for everything else I encounter through the grid of that epistemology. The Triune God of Scripture – who created the universe and all it contains; who established and even now maintains the laws which govern that creation. That is foundation one.
* 4. The self-revelation of that self-existent, self-conscious, self-sufficient, omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise, immutable, eternal, and sovereign God; The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, are the self-communication of the extent, nature, and specifics of His eternal properties – which are the guarantor of the laws and assumptions which we, as creatures in the image of that God, require to operate rationally and coherently. That is foundation 2.
* 5. From those two foundations, I am able to make a rational examination of the facts I encounter, while having warrant for the knowledge I possess. Christians have the privilege of certainty. A certainty based on the most fundamental guarantor of truth. Further, as a Christian, my claim is necessarily exclusive. By the same logical laws we all recognize to be applicable, for whatever reason, a proposition cannot be true when the contrary of that proposition is true. Given Christianity’s exclusive claim – its claim to a self-existent, self-sufficient, universal, and absolute standard – any claimant contrary to Christian epistemology is therefore denied by definition.
* 6. From the position of Christian epistemology, there is more than ample justification to hold the true beliefs we hold. There is self-existence, which then guarantees all contingent existence. There is omnipotence, which can guarantee the absolute authority of God over all His creation, including willing and thinking creatures. There is the omniscience and self-knowledge of God, which guarantees that what His creatures can know is intelligible – that creatures can, in fact, derivatively know the facts about His creation, and those facts that He reveals about Himself. There is the internal “sense”, that Calvin calls the “sensus divinitatus,” which all men possess, as image-bearers of their Creator – and which allow them to recognize the God that they even sometimes deny.
* 7. However, this leads us to a question. Can someone without the axioms that Christians hold “know” anything? As defined, no. They can’t. They do not have a justification for their beliefs. However, they themselves do have true beliefs – which do, in many cases, result in success. In a sense, they do have knowledge. Not because of their epistemology – but despite it. In these cases, they are simply creatures forced to admit that despite the incoherence of their epistemology, they do, in fact, know things anyway.
* 4) The Impossibility of the Contrary
* 1. So, now we get to where the rubber meets the road. If I claim that non-Christians can have knowledge at all, even if it is faulty knowledge – doesn’t my argument fall apart? I don’t think this is necessitated. What the Christian position alone can guarantee is any contribution to knowledge whatsoever. “However, the presuppositionalist maintains that the unbeliever can come to know certain things (despite his espoused rejection of God’s truth) for the simple reason that he does have revealed presuppositions – and cannot but have them as a creature made in God’s image and living in God’s created world. Although he outwardly and vehemently denies the truth of God, no unbeliever is inwardly and sincerely devoid of the knowledge of God. It is not a saving knowledge of God to be sure, but even as condemning knowledge natural revelation still provides a knowledge of God. Thus, according to Biblical epistemology, while men deny their Creator they nevertheless possess an inescapable knowledge of Him; and because they know God (even though they know Him in curse and reprobation) they are able to attain a limited understanding of the world.” (Bahnsen, Always Ready, pg38)
* 2. What my claim really entails is that an unbeliever, trying to start from a position of epistemic autonomy, is like a child who sits on his father’s lap – and uses that position for the purpose of slapping his father in the face. The fundamental disconnect I see in secular epistemology (and Christians who use that same epistemology) is the universal lack of a solution from unbelieving philosophy for problems like that of induction, the one and the many, whether the will is free, and the like. Christianity has an answer for these – provided the Christian answers them from Scriptural revelation, and does not adopt the same principles that unbelieving philosophy does. It is even more so a problem for the unbeliever – because he doesn’t even have (not always asserted, but always present to some degree) the epistemological foundation of the Christian. An unbelieving man has no justification for his predication. He has no basis for his use of logical laws. After all, wherefore and whence do these laws get their justification? There is no area in which his thoughts, ideas or concepts can be said to be properly grounded. With feet planted firmly in midair, he asserts his autonomy over his own thinking, and his self-sufficiency for the use of that thinking!
* 3. This thinking is dangerous – to the unbeliever, and to everyone else. It is little more than, as many assert, self-worship. If the unbeliever thinks he is the ultimate, not simply the immediate basis for epistemology – I see no possible way for that assertion to be justified. (The unbeliever) “thinks that his thinking process is normal. He thinks that his mind is the final court of appeal in all matters of knowledge. He takes himself to be the reference point for all interpretation of the facts. That is, he has epistemologically become a law unto himself: autonomous.” (Always Ready, 46) It is like the famous (and farcical) story of the scientists who discover how to create life from common dirt! Excited, they suddenly stop – A voice challenges them – “I doubt you can.” “All right, then” (say the scientists) – “we will!” As they pick up shovels, they stop again, as the voice says “No, no. Get your own dirt.” This is what reasoning is like without the foundation of God’s self-existence, known through His self-revelation. It is a man trying to justify his “own” knowledge – when everything he encounters – including himself, belongs to God. The very idea is utterly absurd. Since it is impossible to have knowledge on any other basis, save that of God’s intrinsic nature and self-communication of the properties of that nature – it is impossible for any human system of reasoning to have justification at all. In short, Christianity’s epistemology is the only epistemology possible – because it’s impossible to have any other coherent, true, and justified basis for thought, perception, knowledge, or understanding of ourselves, or the creation in which we dwell.


Before I begin, I must tell you that I will be making use of philosophical arguments, in the form of syllogisms. This may be new for a few of you, in which case I invite you to follow along as best you can.

In our discussion this evening, RK will attempt to show that the very foundations of knowledge depend upon the Christian God and that any reasoning which does not presuppose the Christian God is arbitrary and descents into absurdity. RK’s position states that I enter into to reasoned discourse with my own set of presuppositions that exclude the Christian God. In doing so, the internal consistency of my logical system fails and as such does my ability to accept God’s existence, since my presuppositions limit what I will accept as evidence. Does this mean I cannot reason? No, presuppositionalists do not assert this, however, they do assert that my use of reason is contingent on their God and I am just wilfully ignorant to his existence.

First, as with any discussion of this type we need a solid definition of God. RK asserts that the Christian God is the basis for all knowledge, but what IS the Christian God? How can we define it?

There is a clear ontological error in the proposition of God. It is proposed that the Christian God is supernatural. I am unsure as to how one is supposed to interpret this description of God. This is not a positive definition, but a negative definition. “supernatural” or “immaterial” tells us what God is not (natural/material). Something that can only be explained in negative terms, is meaningless. The very definition of “being” is to have attributes, this requires more than simply non-attributes. Furthermore, the proposed positive attributes of God fail in execution. The positive attributes we apply to God are simply attributes which apply to human beings, we just extrapolate them. Human beings can be loving, but god is all-loving. Human beings can know, but god is all-knowing. How can we know that God (whatever it may be) is even capable of love, or knowledge.

As the Philosopher George Smith explains:

“All of the supposedly positive qualities of God arise in a distinctively human context of finite existence, and when wrenched from this context to apply to a supernatural being, they cease to have meaning.”

But the problem is direr than that, consider when I ask “What is a banana?”… giving me answers of the characteristics of the banana don’t do much to help me. Hearing that it is long, yellow, soft doesn’t do provide any cognitive meaning whatsoever. Smith again says (with unie representing a variable needing definition):

“To say that an ‘unie’ possesses wisdom in proportion to its nature-while stipulating that such wisdom is different in kind from man’s wisdom and that the nature of an ‘unie’ is unknowable-contributes nothing to our understanding of ‘unie’ or to the meaning of the attributes when applied to an ‘unie.’

To say that God is ‘good’ or ‘wise’ is to say nothing more than some unknowable being possesses some unknown qualities in an unknowable way.”

It simply does not seem that there is any cognitive meaning associated with purporting the term “God”. To purport that god is infinite, limitless and immaterial tells us what God is not, and never verges on explaining what he is.

With this issue established and set aside for the sake of furthering the discussion, let me move on to the crux of issue. What will be henceforth be referred to as the “Transcendental Argument for God” or TAG.

While I do not consider the transcendental argument an actual argument in the form presented (it appears more as a bare assertion), we must understand precisely what is being said.

When it is said that logic presupposes God it is meant that A presupposes B in the sense that we could not reason A without assuming B. However, it is important to note that even if to make sense of A one must assume B, it does not follow that B is true.

The Philosopher Michael Martin gives the following example:

“if I am trying to communicate to an audience by speaking to them in English, my action makes no sense unless they understand English. But it does not follow that they do. They might only understand Chinese. Scientists listening to radio signals from outer space in order to make contact with extraterrestrial life presuppose that such life is possible. But it does not follow that it is. Similarly… if the Christian worldview is presupposed by the deductive validity, it does not follow that the Christian worldview is true. It might be the case that deductive validity is a myth. TAG would not establish the truth of the Christian worldview but only the inconsistency of atheists who presuppose deductive validity.”

I think the example is clear enough, but it should be noted once more. TAG cannot establish the truth of God’s existence, only the inconsistency of atheists who hold a presupposition regarding deductive logic.

There is another manner in which the TAG asserts presuppositionalism. We have seen the first, that A presupposes B in that one cannot make sense of A without B.. but consider:

A presupposes B meaning that A logically implies B. This means that if A presupposes B, one cannot assert the truth of A and deny B.

An example is: giving birth to a human child presupposes being a woman, meaning it is inconsistent to claim that someone is giving birth to a human child but not a woman.

So we currently have two possibilities regarding the manner of how logic presupposes the Christian God.

* 1. A presupposes B in that one cannot make sense of A without assuming B.
* 2. A presupposes B in that A logically implies B and thus it is inconsistent to assert A and deny B.

With regard to (1) I shall show that we can make sense of deductive validity without belief in the Christian God.

As for (2) I do not see any contradiction in denying that Christianity is true and affirming the validity of the law of non-contradiction.

The Law of non-contradiction states that something cannot be both P and not P at the same time. (your pants cannot be both on and off simultaneously. To apply this to the TAG would be as follows:

A presupposes B in that A logically implies B and thus it is inconsistent to assert A and deny B

=The law of non-contradiction(A) presupposes the Christian God(B) in that (A) logically implies(B) and thus it is inconsistent to assert (A) and deny (B).

I do not see any absurdity in denying God and affirming the law of non-contradiction. Cleary doing so is not the same as denying that one who bears a child is a woman. Perhaps RK can show how this is absurd.

To that point RK may argue that the logical principles are dependent on God. If this is true, logical principles are contingent and not necessary. To this effect, I am almost certain that a presuppositionalist would argue that the logic is an intrinsic part of God’s nature and as such, logic is necessary. From this, it would be stated that since the principles of Logic are necessarily part of God’s nature, if God did not exist there would be no logic and subsequently no Law of Non-Contradiction. Following this line of reasoning, it would be absurd for me to deny God’s existence and affirm the law of non-contradiction.

First, one should be aware of the claim that logic is part of God’s nature. What does it mean to say this? We must first remember that:

God is defined as being supernatural. That is to say “Supernatural” is defined as being beyond nature (not natural). This is a negative definition and a broken concept. There is a fallacy committed when it is stated that God is supernatural but has a nature. Something that is beyond nature, may not possess a nature. (Fallacy of the Stolen Concept)

I am sure RK will argue that Nature and having a nature are two different concepts. This raises more issues. To argue this, you would be begging the question that we can speak of nature devoid of nature. Furthermore, basic ontology tells us that to exist is to have positive attributes. To define something as beyond nature is to define something as beyond ability, something beyond ability or something beyond limits cannot exist by definition. Yet this is not the only time in which the fallacy of the stolen concept is committed:

If God does not presuppose logic, and rather the contrary is true, how can we identify God as being God? For should God not presuppose logic, he must deny the very law of identity (that says a thing is what it is). Hence, the very statement “God exists and logic is his very nature” commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Further, when it is stated that logic is a part of God’s nature, there is a category error of the first order being made. Logic is a referrer to entities, not the entities in themselves. What does it mean to say that the nature of God is logical when logic refers only to arguments? Perhaps RK means that God has an ontological character, but I have shown that God cannot by definition.

Thus, the claim is made that it is incoherent to deny the existence of God because of his very nature. But what is this saying? It is merely a reformed version of the Ontological argument and concluding that God must exist necessarily because he is God.

If I am to accept this, RK must show the validity and soundness of one of the Ontological arguments. Otherwise, there is nothing incoherent about denying the existence of God.

However, there IS something incoherent about denying the law of non-contradiction. To further reiterate this point, consider the following:

* (1) It is not the case that it is not that P and not P (law of non-contradiction denied, meaning it would be possible for your pants to be both on and off simultaneously)

* (2) It is not the case that God exists.

From (1) we easily see a contradiction, but there is no such contradiction from (2) unless we apply a third premise stating that:

* (3) It is logically necessary that God exists.

Should RK want to make this claim, as I’ve said before, he will have to provide an Ontological argument showing that God’s existence is logically necessary.

It should also be further noted that (3) is often confused for another premise. There is a difference between God necessarily existing and God (if existing) necessarily having no beginning or end.


* (4) It is logically necessary that if at any time God existed, then at every time He existed.

While (4) is required in presumably every branch of Christianity, and with good philosophical warrant, (3) isn’t. In fact very few theologians assert (3).

Even Dr. Frame, an advocate of the TAG has stated there is nothing inconsistent about denying the existence of God and affirming the law of non-contradiction in an exchange between him and Michael Martin.

As stated before, if the Law of Non-Contradiction logically implies the existence of God, then denying the existence of God should fault the law of Non-Contradiction. But we have not been show that this is the case:

Christian Philosopher Cornelius Van Til attempted to do so in his book “The Defense of the Faith” (pg 256-257) when he says:

“All predication presupposes the existence of God … while antitheism holds that predication is possible without any reference of God. This at once gives the terms ‘is’ and ‘is not’ quite different connotations. For the antitheist these terms play against the background of bare possibilities. Hence ‘is’ and ‘is not’ may very well be reversed. The antitheist has, if effect, denied the very Law of Non-contradiction, inasmuch as the Law of Non-contradiction, to operate at all, must have its foundation in God.””

To make sense of this statement, it is helpful to reformulate into an argument (as per Michael Martin):

(1) If the Christian God did not exist, then predication would operate against a background of bare possibility.

(2) If predication operates against a background of bare possibility, the predication of P to x ( x is P) may be reversed and ~ P might be predicated of x ( x is ~ P)

(3) But if the predication of P to x ( x is P) is reversed and ~ P is be predicated of x ( x is ~ P), then the Law of Non-contradiction must be denied.
(4) Therefore, If the Christian God did not exist, then the Law of Non-contradiction must be denied

There are several problems, however. In (1) Van Til uses the term “background of bare possibility”, referring to the realm of logical possibility. We can then grant that the Law of Non-contradiction MUST hold because without that holding, by definition, there is no logically possibility. That is to say, logical possibility is determined by the Law of Non-Contradiction.

(1) States that if predication operates via logical possibility, then we may reverse the predications completely. The suggestion is to say that we can have a blanket be orange at one time and not orange at another time. Granted, but this is no way necessitates that the blanket can be orange and not orange simultaneously. Henceforth, (3) is false. Reversing the predicate does not change the Law of Non-Contradiction. As such, the argument is unsound and we can reject (4).

In closing, I have shown that there are issues with the very presentation of the term “God”, the inability of the TAG to establish its conclusion, and lastly the failure of the claim that logic is dependent on God. As I’ve said, should this be so, one could not deny God and affirm logic, but one can. It would only be inconsistent to deny God, if his existence was logically necessary, and this is not the case (note that even if God existed, he need not necessarily be logically necessary). RK has, in effect, has purported (and assumed) the conclusion of the Ontological argument without defending it.

RazorsKiss (Rebuttal):

Having success in using the laws of logic is not the same as saying that you have a warrant to be using it.

The question is about whether we have warrant for considering logic as axiomatic.

It seems apparent to me that Mitch is not providing a justification for using the law that he is using – nor did I see a case that did anything to disprove mine.

He is simply saying that it is usable – the same problem Martin falls into, in his TANG

That is not the question. On what grounds can it be considered warranted to be using abstract universals which apply to all (created) thinking beings? I have a proper ground to be doing so.

Obviously, an atheist is able to /operate/ with success using the logical laws which his brain operates according to. In fact, they MUST do so.

The question at hand is not whether – but /why/ he is using them.

Another subject I’d like to address are what clearly seem to be equivocations on his part. First, his insistence that “supernatural” is a negative definition.

“Super” is not a negative, but a maximal descriptor, as he should well know.

Mitch, with his studies in religion, should also know that “immaterial” is not the only descriptor of that characteristic of God.

The typical term is “Spirit”. The reason “immaterial” is often used is to point out that it is antithetical to matter.

Antithesis does not require derivation from his preferred term.

God is Spirit, as Scripture plainly teaches. God is NOT “not material”. That is the distinction.

I am also amazed at his choice of terminology – as if his making this (seemingly arbitrary) distinction therefore means that there is no longer any conception of God being defined by His attributes in a positive fashion – as I clearly did in my opening statement.

Further, I found his discussion concerning “extrapolating” unconvincing.

God has given us positive statements of His own attributes in His Scriptures.

In fact, He specifically speaks about the Transcendence of His attributes!

“For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:9)

Smith’s assertion to follow simply points more clearly toward the inherent assumption – that God’s self-descriptions are insufficient to be considered. They are passed over, walked by, as if they do not even exist.

While Mitch may agree with Smith – it remains a naked assertion.

When he says that: “To say that God is ‘good’ or ‘wise’ is to say nothing more than some unknowable being possesses some unknown qualities in an unknowable way;” this remains an assertion.

While Mitch may assert that there is no “cognitive meaning associated” – all this says is what we knew already. Unbelievers don’t believe, and think there is something inherently wrong with the concept.

While this may seem to follow from Mitch’s presupposed conception that there is something wrong with using the term “immaterial” – please note that I did not use the term, and that the term is being used in a very… “interesting” way.

I find it interesting that Mitch dismisses, due to an equivocation, the fact that God has many self-descriptions in Scripture – and there are many, many positive ones.

Since he was, I can’t help but think, insufficiently rigorous in that analysis, I will also turn toward his next point.

First, I have to point out that his analysis of TAG misses.. a lot of the “meat” to the argument.

I had to smile when I read this portion: “I think the example is clear enough, but it should be noted once more. TAG cannot establish the truth of God’s existence, only the inconsistency of atheists who hold a presupposition regarding deductive logic.”

The problem with saying this – is that this is precisely what I intend.

I’m not arguing for the existence of God.

That is not the point of the debate.

My intent, precisely, is what Mitch listed above.

If any worldview is inconsistent – incoherent – *especially* in epistemological terms – it cannot be proper grounds for all knowledge.

What also strikes me as interesting is that Mitch has apparently missed the central portion of the argument – it is epistemological. If your epistemology fails, it all fails. I tried to point out, in my opening statement, that the discussion was epistemological. The argument, throughout, save one small part, is completely to do with the existence of God.

What Mitch seems to be attempting is a defeater of the TAG argument. I’m not making the TAG argument for the existence of God. I’m making a case for the epistemological primacy, ultimacy, and sole sufficiency of the Triune God of Scripture. Instead, the reply is to TAG – and using primarily Martin’s work. That is not the context. It reminds me of Dr. Gordon Stein arguing against every possible theistic argument for the existence of God – except the one that Dr. Bahnsen argued for. Which happens to be the one he’s arguing against tonight!

In a similar way, Mitch’s argument was directed at God’s *existence*. The argument is not concerning God existence. The argument is concerning God’s self-asserted epistemological primacy – and the inability of any other epistemological claimant to provide knowledge in a warranted way.

He also mentions that I might argue that logical principles are dependent upon God. That is true, to an extent – but not to the extent he claims. I am going to argue that God is not only the ordainer, but creator of the logical laws we use – and that He transcends them, as we mentioned earlier, in Isaiah. The logical laws are the correlative, yet lesser reflection of God’s inherent order. So, while they are necessary in an immediate sense to created beings – they are NOT necessary, in an ultimate sense, to God. God is, as the Scriptures remind us, self-sufficient.

On that note, the rest of his argument concerning God and that claim is irrelevant – and I can move on.

In a similar vein, I certainly raised an eyebrow at this statement: “God is defined as being supernatural. That is to say “Supernatural” is defined as being beyond nature (not natural). This is a negative definition and a broken concept. There is a fallacy committed when it is stated that God is supernatural but has a nature. Something that is beyond nature, may not possess a nature. (Fallacy of the Stolen Concept) I am sure RK will argue that Nature and having a nature are two different concepts. This raises more issues. To argue this, you would be begging the question that we can speak of nature devoid of nature.”

My opponent, I’m afraid, has seriously equivocated here. Badly. To take one sense of a word, and insist that it means the same thing in every context is.. absurd.

There is a sense of the word “nature” which applies to the entirety of the created order, as “natural” entities. Physical. However, I’m sure he also knows that the “nature of” an object, person, or concept can be the “essence” of something. For instance. In the typical Trinitarian formula, God is one being – with three persons. I’m sure he has encountered this definition before, but just to help him, I’ll restate it – God is of one /nature/, with three distinct persons.

I think that this sufficiently points out the equivocation in question. Second, “(t)his raises more issues. To argue this, you would be begging the question that we can speak of nature devoid of nature” – seems an odd assertion. Are you suggesting that there are only material objects, and only they have properties? I was under the impression that you are not a materialist.

As I wrap this up, I sincerely hope that Mitch can rebut with something more suitable to the actual argument I made. When most of your argument is predicated upon equivocation (nature, immaterial), a point that is inapplicable (that I believe that the logic we are constrained by is also somehow binding upon God, and God must therefore be within the same limits, despite His transcendent nature) – it cannot succeed very far. The resolution is that the Triune God of Scripture is the proper grounds for all knowledge. Not that the Triune God of Scripture exists. Additionally, the argument is that any logical system without a warrant to justify its use is incoherent, and therefore unable to make consistent objections. Hopefully, we get back on the rails, and we can address the topics we came to discuss. Thank You.

MitchLeBlanc (Rebuttal):

RK criticizes me for arguing against the existence of God rather than his epistemology. Am I mistaken in understanding that RK’s epistemology IS the existence of God?

RK states that he is not arguing for the existence of God, and as such the point I made about the TAG being insufficient in regard to showing the existence of said deity is assumed. Surely, his utterance of “impossibility of the contrary” is an attempt to establish from his descriptor of my logical inability, to the truth of his claim. That would simply be a non-sequitur.

RK has argued that while I may have been successful in my use of the laws of logic, I am still without warrant. He also stated that he did not see a case showing that his is incorrect. Perhaps he did not see my explanation as to how the laws of logic can operate without God. According to RK, if God does not exist logic fails. If this is true, how can I affirm the use of logic with the negation of God?

Perhaps RK is thinking that I can’t, since it’s simply a self-evident fact that God exists and denying it is foolishness. Well, to him I say, show me the ontological argument you used to affirm this statement. Otherwise, it is bare unsubstantiated assertion.

If RK were perhaps to argue (as he says he is not) that since his worldview “makes sense” therefore God, that would be a form of petitio principii (begging the question):

Yahweh is the source of all knowledge

Knowledge exists.

Therefore Yahweh.

How can RK possibly argue that I did not address the claims of epistemology, when his claim that logic cannot operate independent of God was the largest focus of my statements? I have shown this very claim to be false.

I would point out that RK did not address my argument showing the laws of logic operating with a premise of denial of God’s existence, something that should be impossible for his worldview.

In regards to God as a spirit, the problem RK falls into is simply the inability to define what a spirit is, in positive terms. I have no doubt he can tell me what a spirit is not, but this gets us nowhere.

Rk also stated, with regard to logic as God’s nature that: “while they are necessary in an immediate sense to created beings – they are NOT necessary, in an ultimate sense, to God”. What does this mean? Logical principles are either necessary or contingent. He says God is self-sufficient, well precisely what is the “self” to which he suffices himself? Notice the clear personification of God, yet we seem to have had nothing with substance said to us. The laws are reflections of his order? So God’s nature is logical? We have not even established what that means! As I said, logic is a referrer to entities. So is God’s nature an argument?

RK criticized me, with regard to “speaking of nature devoid of nature”. I’m afraid he misunderstands. I am not taking one sense of the word and stating that it means the same. In fact, I predicted he would say this. The real issue at hand is an ontological one, “what does it mean to be?”, “what does it mean to possess characteristics”, “what does it mean to have a nature?”.

As for the basis of my own knowledge, it should again be noted that since RK’s claim may make sense of logic, it doesn’t follow that logic needs to be made sense of. I will use the remainder of my rebuttal to supplement my position. With that said, my epistemological declaration is perhaps best defined as that of Objectivism. First, I should define axioms:

An axiomatic concept is “is the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. It is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge. It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest” – Ayn Rand


“The first and primary axiomatic concepts are “existence,” “identity” (which is a corollary of “existence”) and “consciousness.” One can study what exists and how consciousness functions; but one cannot analyze (or “prove”) existence as such, or consciousness as such. These are irreducible primaries.”

From these axioms, I establish that of existence, identity and consciousness. In the case of the existence axiom, I can state “existence exists”. In the case of the identity axiom, which is corollary of “existence”, I can say that “to exist is to be something specific, to have identity”. This leads me to my third axiom of “consciousness”, from which I can state that “consciousness is consciousness of something”.

We can, at all times, know with certainty that something must exist to be known, this something must have identity and our knowing reflects the fact that we are conscious.

The issue posed then, is how these axioms apply to metaphysics. We can move in either one of two direction. The primacy of existence or the primacy of consciousness.

The primacy of existence, that is, taking the existence axiom prior to that of consciousness recognizes that existence exists independent of consciousness. That is to say, reality does not conform to the contents of consciousness, things are simply existent regardless of people’s subjective wishes, desires, emotions, etc. And granted that existence exists, that which exists is that which exists (identity axiom). With this primacy, consciousness does not DETERMINE reality, but identifies it.

The primacy of consciousness states that existence is subordinate to consciousness and that things are not the way they are by virtue of the fact of their existence, but rather because of the desires of consciousness. By this primacy, one would be justified in the belief that willing flying cows to rise out of the water will result in flying cows rising out of the water.

We can reject the primacy of consciousness on the basis that it rejects the self-evident truth of the existence principle. But perhaps more importantly, it commits the fallacy of the stolen concept (we are seeing that a lot tonight). It attempts to assert consciousness PRIOR to existence. Insofar as consciousness is the being conscious of something, the notion of consciousness arising prior to existence asserts the concept why denying the precondition of existence. The primacy of consciousness violates the very hierarchy of objective knowledge, we can conclude that any philosophy that is build upon this primacy cannot be consistent with rational knowledge.

Unfortunately, Christianity is one such philosophy. Christianity asserts that some form of consciousness created everything. This simply cannot be true from the outright, as the very consciousness which is purported to have created existence must exist prior to doing any creating. Stating that the Universe was “created” attempts to explain the axiom “existence exists” by asserting something prior, specifically Yahweh, a form of consciousness that created through an act of will. We simply cannot assert anything prior to existence.

As such, any question with attempts to ask “Where did existence come from?” or “How did existence come to be?” will result in answers which commit the fallacy of the stolen concept. We can see that from the very beginning, the Christian worldview has denied the metaphysical primacy of existence.

But how does this relate to the TAG? We must analyze the effect that the assertion has on the law of identity. Christianity states that identity of objects is dependent upon the will or desires of God… identity is dependent on consciousness.

Christianity, then, by definition is a form of metaphysical subjectivism.

Bahnsen (an advocate of the TAG) does not hide this fact, he states:

“the very essence of created reality is its revelational character”

The Christian worldview in regards to reality asserts that reality is a creation of consciousness. Thus, reality cannot be absolute, by definition. What is said to have created reality in the first place is simultaneously the final authority. The ultimate standard for the Christian is then merely the whim of God.

RK might reply that “God is a rational God”, but notes how this begs the question and reduces to a fallacy of pure self-reference.

The standard of reason and logic is the law of identity, but if identity is merely a derivative of consciousness than on which basis can consciousness have identity itself? If reality is a creation, and its creator is consciousness, is consciousness real? If one is to claim that it is, why do we need to point to this God to explain reality in the first place? Merely uttering the instance of a “God created reality” is a stolen concept arising from the belief that God exists.

So when the TAG tells us that the Christian worldview is the only one that can make sense of reality, is this true? A being that is perfect and omniscient surely has no need for reason in the first place. If said being is consciousness, the purpose of said consciousness is to identify the facts of reality… but what need would this God have to “reason”, since it already knows all the facts. It should be evident at this point that the Christian worldview, and the “Primacy of consciousness” has certain epistemological ramifications. When an advocate is asked, “How does God know”, surely we’d hear that “he just does”.

By this token, and insofar as the TAG asserts that the Christian worldview is the very basis for reason it is obviously wrong. The primacy of consciousness destroys reason and knowledge, it does not enable it.

How can the TAG possibly accuse all non-Christian thought as being relative, when the assertion it makes itself is that of metaphysical relativism? The entire worldview is full of ’stolen concepts’ and seeks to defend against what it commits itself.

RazorsKiss questions MitchLeBlanc:

RK: My first question: In Exodus 3:14, we read this: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” – Is this a positive statement concerning the essence, properties, or nature of God?

ML: It doesn’t tell us anything whatsoever, it’s neither positive nor negative.

RK: So, the sentence above: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” – has no content, whatsoever?

ML: Well, “I AM WHO I AM” seems to be cognitively meaningless. PIG IS PIG, DONKEY IS DONKEY, etc… it has not furthered understanding.

RK: Are you aware that this is considered to be the essential name of God in Scripture?

ML: Yes, but a name is not a description.

RK: What does the phrase “I am” mean, when in the following proposition: “I think, therefore I am”?

ML: It denotes existence.

RK: So, when God is saying “I AM” – and repeats it, this is implying self-existence, per Hebrew grammar. Are you aware that names in the Hebrew Old Testament are all intended to have meanings?

ML: I am aware now, thank you.

RK: Were you cognizant, prior to this debate, that the word “nature” has a distinct and historical meaning, when it pertains to theology?

ML: I am cognizant to the colloquial, scientific and philosophical meaning of the word. Perhaps these preclude the theological.

RK: That didn’t answer my question. Were you aware, as a student of the philosophy of religion, or any other capacity, that “nature” was used historically in a theological sense – such as in the definition of the council of Nicea, concerning the Trinity?

ML: I do recall there being an issue of difference between prior and post uses of the term. But I am unsure as to the specifics. (prior being the Arian usage)

RK: What is logic?

ML: As I said in my opening, logic is a referrer to entities.

RK: Do abstract objects exist?

ML: Yes, objects such as numbers exist.

RK: Does the abstract object “logic” exist?

ML: Logic isn’t a thing, it’s a referrer to things.

RK: Why did you just refer to it?

ML: I made a linguistical reference to logic, justified perhaps pragmatically.

RK: Do you agree that referring to “logic”, whether mentally or linguistically – as it is an abstract object – would be a reference to that object?

ML: No, I have not agreed that logic is an object.

RK: “Logic is logically necessary” – Why isn’t that definition circular?

ML: Well, to be logically necessary means that X can be applied in every possible world. You asked if Logic has any properties, so I have offered “necessity” as a property.

RK: What is the definition of an object?

ML: To be as an entity… though I think there is much debate over this very question in the community.

RK: Isn’t the most common definition for “object” – “Something that has properties”?

ML: I am not sure, I do know that Frege struggled in differentiating object from concept, as it seems that “something that has properties” would apply to concepts as well.

RK: Last question: Why are your axioms justified, as they seem to be predicated on the laws of logic; doesn’t this nullify their standing as axiomatic?

ML: Well, an axiom is “a primary fact of reality which cannot be analyzed (reduced into other facts or broken down). Are you asking why my axiom “existence exists” is justified?

RK: If they are not identical to the laws of logic, why are they thus considered justified, as axioms?

ML: Because they are undeniable.

MitchLeBlanc questions RazorsKiss:

ML: What makes the Christian God the sole basis for reason over all of the other Gods?

RK: First, all the other gods do not exist, as they do not possess the requisite properties, as I outlined in my opener. Second, the reason The Triune God of Scripture is that sole basis is because He is the self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, Creator of all things, who is both able to communicate the content of those properties, and has done so throughout history, as recorded in His self-revelatory Scriptures.

ML: All propositions of God assert him as self-existent, self-sufficient, etc… these are not unique to Christianity, what makes Christianity different?

RK: There is no other claimant for the title “God” who asserts the sum total of the properties in question, has demonstrated them throughout history, as well as communicating them to humanity with the sufficiency and perspicuity evident in the Christian Scriptures.

ML: It seems to me that your logical system is hierarchical in nature, with God forming the basis and the chain continuing on thuswards. Does the statement “God exists” logically necessitate that “God has a son”?

RK: No, as the Son is one of the eternally existent persons in the ontological Trinity. As it was famously stated at Nicea – there was never a time when the Son was not, in contraposition to Arius’ novel claim to the contrary.

ML: Since “every time I reason, I borrow from the Christian worldview”, am I to assume that I am accepting God’s existence, Jesus’ virgin birth, the 12 disciples, the betrayal of Jesus, etc as philosophical principles?

RK: Yes, as they are facts in the history of the earth that God created, and you inhabit. They are not dependent on your interpretation of them. When it comes to how you interpret /all/ facts you encounter, the noetic effects of sin will be in operation, and your denial of knowledge (as in justified knowledge) of those facts will follow of necessity.

ML: Why is it that the necessary preconditions for the intelligibly of human experience are contingent upon God being three persons and not four, the virgin birth rather than popping into existence, then 12 disciples rather than 13, etc?

RK: For the first question, because God is the one who created all things we are able to experience, and He has 3 persons. Second, the virgin birth was the means the Father ordained to accomplish Christ’s incarnation, due to the requirements of justice for payment of the penalty for sin, and 12 disciples were analogous to the 12 tribes of national Israel. To answer why they are necessary – because God is the one who determines possibilities, given that all possibilities are occurring in the realm of His exhaustive providence.

ML: That is not precisely the question. If I accept all of these factors are philosophical principles when reasoning, what effect would the 12 disciples being 13 disciples have on my reasoning? Surely, with a change in principle comes a change in reasoning altogether.

RK: Impossibilities have no effect on your reasoning. They do not exist. Dr. Craig would give you a different answer, perhaps – but I’m not Dr. Craig.

ML: So the existence of one more disciple would have no effect on my reasoning. It seems then that the manner in which the events occurred are arbitrary. I will not press this point. Does your knowledge of God arise from the scriptures that you believe he authored?

RK: No, there was no additional disciple in the 12 chosen by Christ, and following him throughout Galilee. Advancing impossibilities as arguments is not coherent. My knowledge of God is two-fold – first, through His Scriptures, which is His informational self-revelation, (despite your assertion that it lacked no coherent content earlier) and the natural revelation of His glory in the created order – which is only sufficient to convict a man, and render him without excuse for his sins of thought and action.

ML: And from your aforementioned sources, you derive the goodness, power, coherency, knowingness, etc of God?

RK: Yes, Scripture states that God is good, that He is Almighty, that He is a God of order, not confusion, and that He knows even the thoughts of men (as well as the entirety of His creation) when He “knows all things”. The Created order attests to these things as well, in a lesser, and more inferential way – but as I said, that is sufficient merely to condemn.

ML: What if God is deceiving you?

RK: “…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, [even] His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior…” (Titus 1:2-3) . God cannot lie.

ML: But God was the author (or inspiration) of those very words. If his intent was to deceive, he has just succeeded. I ask again, what if God is deceiving you?

RK: For if [the] dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith [is] futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. ~ 1 Cor 15:9

ML: Again, all scripture and proposed action of God are immediately discounted if the motivation in fact was to deceive. Can you show that God is not deceiving you in all your knowledge of him?

RK: If God intended to deceive, He would not be God. He would be Satan. Therefore, you would likely have to use the TANS argument. A God of that character is not God at all, and therefore, yet again, another impossible (redefinition) advanced as an argument. If we could win by redefining things, debates would be fairly short affairs 🙂

ML: “If God intended to deceive, He would not be God. He would be Satan.” – Is this statement not based off of information expedited to you from the same deity in question?

RK: A God who is evil instead of good, who is a liar rather than the truth, is mutable rather than immutable, and imperfect rather than perfect, unjust rather than just… we could go on. Your questions all seem to entail redefinitions. “if God had an impossible definition for any being claiming to be the God you believe in, or any god at all, could he do _X_”. To claim that the antithesis of the self-existent and omnipotent God that I believe in is possible – seems to be.. a stretch.

ML: I cannot help but feel you are being evasive at this point. Every bit of the knowledge of God you have, comes from his proposed self-revelation. If God’s intent was surely to deceive you, are you saying he could not? Would you know? Your argument is as follows: God does not deceive. Proposed being X deceives. Therefore X is not God. You are begging the question RK.

RK: Sir, I’m not going to change my answer because you continue to ask it. “God” entails the properties already outlined. If a being does not conform to those properties, as I answered in response to your very first question – that is no god at all. I’m not going to contradict myself so that you can continue your argument. Further, I’ve stated, multiple times, that God is axiomatic to all human reasoning. You’re asking me, on the basis of your presupposition, to overthrow everything I’ve said thus far, to answer a question the way you prefer.

ML: I forego the remainder of my questions to accelerate our brief conclusions and allow for the patient audience to submit questions of their own.

MitchLeBlanc (Conclusion):

In conclusion, I must say that I am disappointed that my arguments given in my introduction were not addressed. Insofar as it was proposed that if God did not exist, logic would fail. I have clearly shown that this is not the case. I am also disappointed that it was constantly asserted that I have no basis for a logical system, but never shown that I have no basis.

If logic truly is so dependent on God, why was my argument which showed the contrary not addressed? Furthermore, I must ask which reasons we have heard tonight that RK’s epistemological system should be preferred over my own. In that respect, on which basis has RK shown that the principles of logic even require justification! Creating questions for the sole purpose of answering them, isn’t an award winning tactic.

Lastly, with regards to the QandA. I proposed the question, “What if God is deceiving you?” Rk’s response that if this was the case, said being would not be God. This strikes me as very similar to the No True Scotsman fallacy. A man sits down and reads the newspaper, where it is said that a man murdered several people and he is believed to be Scottish. The man then replies, “No Scotsman would do that!” The next day, when he reads that it was indeed a Scotsman, he states… “well, no TRUE Scotsman would do that”.

I simply do not understand how it is possible to state, with certainty, that God does not (or cannot) deceive you, when such a statement is based off of only what God himself has revealed to you. RK repeatedly stated that a God who lies simply would not be God… the proper explanation perhaps is that “The God who lies would not meet my criteria for God, and my criteria is correct.” The very last point is curious, as should God indeed be deceptive, said criteria would falter immediately.

As I have said, I am saddened that several points of good discussion were dismissed haphazardly, but I am grateful to have had the chance to discuss this issue with RK.

Thank you for listening patiently.

RazorsKiss (Conclusion):

Along with Mitch, I’m disappointed that the arguments presented were not addressed. Also along with Mitch, I’m disappointed that it was mine that were unaddressed! When I rebutted Mitch, I pointed out that his conception of the necessity of created logic applying to God was at fault for the failure of his argument.

I said: “while they are necessary in an immediate sense to created beings – they are NOT necessary, in an ultimate sense, to God. God is, as the Scriptures remind us, self-sufficient.”

This seems to have been missed in the subsequent discussion, and as stated, was why I did not address his arguments along that line further. They were not against my position, but against the position he claimed I held.

I’d also like to point out that a large bulk of Mitch’s arguments rested on redefinition. I am the Christian, taking the affirmative. While he’s quite capable of considering God as other than He is – and of contemplating logical impossibilities – they are just that. Impossibilities.

When I take the affirmative, I bear the burden of definition. When Mitch rested the majority of his case on redefinition – of the terms for God, of the words I use to describe Him, and takes them out of both the historical and linguistic context which I can’t help but think he is aware of, given his field of study, it seems to indicate that he is indenting to conduct the debate on the grounds of redefinition. Nature DOES, and HAS applied to the essence and properties of the being of God. Immaterial, a word I did not use, was constructed as a straw man against my position.

Further, he also tried to build his case on another word I did not use – supernatural. I understand that he didn’t know what my opening statement was going to be – but using the terms in that way – then ignoring their context on the basis of his own (and I consider to be strange) definitions leaves me scratching my head.

We’ve heard from Mitch that I never made a case against his position. That is only partially true. As the affirmative, my primary places to “counter-attack” are in the rebuttals, and in the cross-ex. Since he did not give a positive statement of his position until the rebuttal, my only chance to reply, save right here, was in the cross-ex. A look at the cross-examination period, and the brevity of his answers leaves it clear to me that he intended to answer as little as possible. While that is his prerogative, stating that I didn’t argue sufficiently – when he knows that presuppositionalism is an indirect system, is a bit misleading.

So, I’m going to take this opportunity to expand my thoughts from the cross-ex. As I was trying to get Mitch to admit, his system is built on a presupposed absolutist logic. This absoluteness of logic itself is not stated in the axioms – it is effectively hidden beneath the 3 axioms he professes. “Existence exists”, for instance, while correlative to the law of identity, is not identical to it. To be identical, it would have to be… more similar to God’s statement in Exodus – I am that I am.

As he expresses it, in accordance with Rand, the reality is that two *distinct* concepts are presented. “Existence”, which is an abstract, and what it does – “exists”. Existence, therefore, has the property of existing. Yet another abstract – which *exists*. Further, saying that “to exist is to be something specific, to have identity” – you are once again not restating a law of logic. You are stating that to exist, you must have identity. This is, again, correlative, but not identical.

So, we have a system with axioms which use laws that require their existence. We still haven’t had a satisfying answer as to, as I asked him, why logic isn’t an abstract logic – but these other concepts are – like existence – and why they are justified. Further, they are based in nothing, whatsoever, which grants them justification. He can claim they are axioms – but objectivism has been widely criticized, as Mitch attempted to do concerning my position, for being utterly arbitrary. What objectivism assumes is that man’s existence, identity, and consciousness are autonomous, and “objective”. What is being objected to, as I stated in my opener, is a man standing with his feet firmly planted in midair, and claiming to be the standard for his own thinking.

While I applaud him for having the debate, I would have wished that he had redirected his argument to my own, that it would not have been so dependent on redefinitions, and that we could have had a more fruitful exchange in cross-examination. I was more than willing to be forthcoming. I wish he would have done me the courtesy as well. I thank you all for watching, I thank Mitch for his patience, and I thank our moderators for this evening’s debate.

Question and Answer:

EoZ: (the replacement moderator) Dear RK, “In your opening dialouge, you spoke of a limited ability to have knowledge, for those who do not have an epistimological foundation such as yourself. However, you later conceded “I see no possible way for that assertion to be justified.” in reference to an unbeliever viewing him or herself as an ultimate basis for epistimology. Could your own, conceded, limited perception, be a contributing factor, leading you to a falsely constructed conclusion, convoluted and serving as confirmation bias insofar as as a self-reassuring mechanism by which you preclude against your view being simply your belief or understanding of the facts, but as some fact, regardless of belief?” – VTS

RK: If i understand the question correctly, it’s asking if I could be biasing myself, having no independent source at all, just my own opinion.
EoZ: VTS, is his understanding correct?
VTS: in part, yes.
RK: As far as that goes… the Christian has as his basis Scripture. This is not simply standing alone – but has the “sensus divinitatus”, as Calvin terms it, also in operation due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer.
EoZ: Would you like to clarify so he understands the whole complete question, or is that sufficient?
VTS: Basically, is the “failure to see” real? Is it possible your perspective is self-serving, thus bringing you to a conclusion that is (by extension) clouded by personal bias…
VTS: does that clarify?
RK: As the Spirit is also, per Scripture, the author of the revelation, it’s the equivalent of having the author of the book standing over your shoulder, and correcting your faulty understandings, and continually adjusting your noetic “issues” as He also works to sanctify you in obedience to that revealed Word.
EoZ: Okay, to move things along. VTS, does that sufficiently answer your question or do you have more?
RK: Well, if we’re all deluded, as Paul says, we’re “men most to be pitied”. As I said, we have the Author of that revelation as our guide to the understanding of it. That is one of the reasons that I find in my experience, there tends to be a significant problem with the understanding of Scriptural principles by non-Christians. It’s not that I’m saying we’re “smarter” – by any stretch of the imagination – if you understand my theology, that’s well-nigh impossible.
vtsquire: no, I dont think that sufficiently answered my question.
RK: For a conceivable non-truth of the Christian worldview – Paul says we are “most to be pitied”. So, if you’re right, it stinks to be us. How’s that?
EoZ: VTS, so would you like to ask additional questions to further the topic, or
VTS: to put my point most bluntly, are you making a claim to knowledge, or making a claim to belief that you have knowledge?
RK: I am making a claim that I have mediate knowledge from the only possible source that is justifiable. ie: It’s not me, it’s God in me, as Scripture says.
RK: In my opener I went out of my way to point out that Christians, if they are to act like Christians, have as much claim to epistemological autonomy as a chair. God is who works in me, and through me. It’s never due to man. (Which is probably as opposite to objectivism as possible, but there ya go.)
VTS: okay, that’s a sufficient answer to me

EoZ: Okay, very good. Now, just to be fair to poor Mitch, I’m asking my question to him, then RK.

EoZ: Mitch, how could RK prove his position to you as the affirmative? How do you believe he did not do so here?
RK: Yeah! 🙂
ML: Well the problem with the position it is that it is not an argument. It’s simply a bare assertion. He could begin to prove his position to me by addressing the argument I presented which showed that logic presupposing the Christian worldview is false. I also wouldn’t mind hearing that Ontological argument which must be the basis for RK’s position (though not stated, I am sure it is there) that God’s existence is logically necessary…
EoZ: Alright, that works.

EoZ: And we got another question to Mitch from our very own VTS.
EoZ: “I have the same essential question to Mitch. They both conceded “I fail to see ________” Mitch, is it possible that this concession contains within it an admission that your position may be based on an inability on your part to be flexible in your thinking, thus leading you your conclusion, that may thereby be possibly false?” – VTS
RK: I’d like to respond to Mitch’s points afterwards, but I’ll let him get on to bed 🙂
EoZ: RK, I would let you normally, but time is VERY short.
RK: That’s fine – I have a blog 🙂
ML: My epistemology doesn’t exclude God outright, in many ways it remains completely agnostic until establishing axioms. The axioms which are undenaible are established, and then we work from there. It is possible that there is something that I’m missing from RK’s statements, but it would not be to my denial of God from the outright. In that respect, I am not similar to a materialist.

EmpireOfZombies: Okay, asking mine, and that’s it.

EoZ: Part 1. is God the ultimate standard for morality?
RK: Yes.
EoZ: Yay! Simple answer.
RK: Simple question 🙂
EoZ: Now, I’m going to post two quotes by you.
EoZ:: RazorsKiss If God intended to deceive, He would not be God. He would be Satan. Therefore, you would likely have to use the TANS argument. A God of that character is no God of all, and therefore, yet again, another impossible (redefinition) advanced as an argument. If we could win by redefining things, debates would be fairly short affairs 2:23 .. *not God at all
RazorsKiss A God who is evil instead of good, who is a liar rather than the truth, is mutable rather than immutable, and imperfect rather than perfect, unjust rather than just… we could go on. Your questions all seem to entail redefinitions. “if God had an impossible definition for any being claiming to be the God you believe in, or any god at all, could he do _X_”. To claim that the antithesis of the self-existent and omnipotent God that I believe in is possible – seems to be.. a stretch. 2:28 .. If there was a so-called “god” who intended to deceive – that being would not be any god at all.
RK: Okay.
EoZ: My questions are, if God intended to deceive, from what standard would you contrive that he is not God if your standard IS God? IF God deceives, from what standard do you derive lying as wrong for God? If it is God, and he lies, why is it wrong? What makes lying immoral if God were to do it? To me, this seems as if you are asserting a personal standard.
RK: That was precisely why I said that such questions are impossibilities, as they attempt to redefine a being that is self-existent, self-sufficient, immutable, unchanging, and etc. Such a thing is an impossibility. The point that is missed is that my relationship with God is not merely intellectual. It is personal. I know God, in my creaturely way, as Persons. I communicate, I am acted upon, and act on behalf of. In short, the question seeks to divorce God’s attributes, and to redefine God as a different sort of being – one which I do not know, do not communicate with, and do not have relation to.
RK: That should wrap it up, correct?
EoZ: Almost. I’m responding.
RK: Mitch, I appreciate the debate. Hopefully we can arrange logistics better for the next one 🙂
ML: Yes, a much shorter format is needed

EoZ: if God has freewill, why are hypotheticals not possible? Free will would denote all things are possible for God.

RK: Because there is a lack of distinction made between creation/creator, their disparate natures, and the relationship between them. God is free in that He does whatever He wills. Whatever God wills, on the transcendent level, is the determiner for what is possible – on the created level. It’s like trying to ask why a child can’t make his parent do whatever they think is possible. What the child is capable of doing do is whatever is possible for the child – but in this case, the parent can, and has, determined all possible events, whatsoever, that will come to pass. So there isn’t any frame of reference, aside from God’s self-description, to tell us this. If His word is accurate, there are no free atoms, there is no free energy – there is only God’s determination of all causal events.

EoZ: Alright, to the debaters, good job.
EoZ: Thanks for debating.
EoZ: To the audience, thank you.
.RK: Yes, thanks!
ML: Thanks….
RK: Even though you’re all asleep..
ML: (I am about to collapse)
RK: Me too. Thanks for the debate, bro. Now get to bed 🙂
ML: thanks
ML: goodnight
RK: Seeya, and thanks again.
EoZ: Night guys.

(I will likely add in some commentary soonish, so check back)


God be praised, we made it, even though it went until 3:15am for me! If I recall, that was 4:15 for poor Mitch.

I’ll likely repost the transcript here tomorrow, with the Q&A, and a few more comments of my own – but I think it went very well.

Here’s the Urban Philosophy debate transcript!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Reminder: Debate tonight!

I’m debating Mitch LeBlanc, a philosophy student at the University of Toronto, at 10:30 EDT this evening, July 31st. The debate is in a chat channel maintained by Urban Philosophy, established by the same Mitch LeBlanc! Viewing the debate requires registration at the site, so please stop by early to register!

The Resolution is: “The Triune God of Scripture is the proper grounds for all knowledge.” I am taking the affirmative.

The format is as follows: Opening Statements (2500 words), Rebuttals (1500 words), Cross-Examinations (15 questions apiece), Closing Statements (1500 words), Question and Answer (Until we drop!). I’d like to invite you to stop by and view the debate – and hang around to ask us some questions!

A Unique Opportunity: Part II

I returned to speak to the Jehovah’s Witness elder, as I mentioned in a previous post. It did not go as expected, for either of us – but God was, I think, glorified.

I believe that I was not, perhaps, honestly represented to this man by the people I talked to previously – so he got something unexpected, as well. He seemed to be under the impression that I was there to confront him about my children being part of his religion. There is an element of that, to be sure – but my primary goal was to take advantage of the opportunity to speak to their teacher. I was asked to speak to the young man previously – as I was asked to speak to this elder. My goal was, first and foremost, to faithfully present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hopefully, I was able to impress that point upon him during our conversation, which only lasted about 45 minutes. I hope and pray that God was glorified through it.

I started out with a summary of JW doctrines I requested from Dr. White some time back, which reads as follows:

There is one true God, Jehovah; He is eternal and unchanging. His name is very important to know, and to use. He has revealed Himself in Scripture as Jehovah. His first and greatest created thing is Michael the Archangel – in fact, Michael is the one through whom all other things are made. He is the master worker. He is the only direct creation of Jehovah God. It is only through Michael that all other things have been created. Michael then becomes the man Jesus Christ.

The man Jesus Christ does not have a spirit, in the sense of some other spiritual component. We possess a soul, that is the life force within us. It does not survive death as a disembodied spiritual essence. This one, Michael, becomes Jesus of Nazareth, who gave his life on a torture stake as a corresponding ransom for the sins of Adam, and he is one of the 144,000. The 144,000 are those who will be with Jehovah in heaven, and Jesus is one of that anointed class. The rest of God’s faithful servants are known as “the great crowd” – they have not what is called a “heavenly hope”, as the 144,000 have, but what is known as a “earthly hope” – they hope to live on a paradise earth. The Bible teaches that God created the earth to be inhabited, and after it is cleansed, this will be the place where the great crowd will live.

Those who are in heaven, are in the new covenant, and those who live on earth receive the benefits of the new covenant only in and through their obedience to and fellowship with the anointed class. Once a year, the witnesses gather together for the memorial supper, and during that memorial supper, the elements are passed throughout the room in remembrance of Jesus – yet in the vast majority of congregations, no one will partake. Only those who partake are those who claim to be of the heavenly, or anointed class, and those who partake are demonstrating that they are part of the new covenant. All others in the great crowd let it pass by, because they are not a part of the new covenant.

A day is coming when Armageddon will take place, the faithful will be removed from the earth, God’s wrath will fall upon the earth, and those who have not followed Jehovah’s ways will be destroyed. Then a millennium is ushered in where those who have died before this time period will be resurrected, and they are taught the ways of God. This is not a sudden resurrection, but a resurrection over time. The servants of God will teach them the ways of Jehovah, and at the end of that time, there is a test. Even the faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses who are on earth at that time will be tested. Those who do not pass the test of faithfulness will be destroyed.

There is no conscious punishment for sin, there is simply destruction, or annihilation. Those who pass the test will live forever in paradise on earth – even though, the option is held open that if ever evil is found among those on earth, they will be very quickly destroyed, that this evil does not spread. Jehovah’s witnesses are very focused upon evangelism, very focused on going door to door, in obedience to the commands of Scripture. There is one organization that speaks for Jehovah today. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, centered in Brooklyn, New York, directed by the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses – the “faithful and discreet slave”, that gives meat in due season to the members of the household, and one only finds true spiritual nourishment by listening to what is given them by the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There were 6 things objected to in that summary, which I hope to rectify soon. Those were:
1) “The man Jesus Christ does not have a spirit, in the sense of some other spiritual component. We possess a soul, that is the life force within us.”
2) “and he is one of the 144,000…and Jesus is one of that anointed class.”
3) “The rest of God’s faithful servants are known as ‘the great crowd'”
4) “the faithful will be removed from the earth”
5) “even though, the option is held open that if ever evil is found among those on earth, they will be very quickly destroyed, that this evil does not spread.”
6) “There is one organization that speaks for Jehovah today. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, centered in Brooklyn, New York”

I’ll address what I’ve discovered as to the possible inaccuracies in that statement, perhaps in a following post, but I wanted to share the fruit of that discussion.

As we continued to speak, I asked him to tell me what the Gospel is. I was given the predictable response “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – which, while true, is not the entirety of the Gospel. I then responded by asking if I could give him what I had just taught the children in my 1-6th grade class concerning the Gospel.

A) Man is sinful, God is Holy! (Lev 11:44-45; Gal 3:11)
B) Man is cursed with sin, due to the Fall of Man in Eden. (Gen 2:16-17) Man’s nature is such that he cannot do good.(Eph 2:3)
C) God, however, has a Perfect Way to satisfy His wrath (Rom 1:18) toward sin, and to proclaim His glory (rom 5:2, Rom 15:7).
D) God promised a Redeemer, from the very beginning. (Gen 3:15) The law, and the prophets all point to Him (Rom 3:21)
E) That Redeemer was born to a virgin (isa 7:14), and lived a perfect life in obedience to the law(Heb 7;28)
F) That Redeemer was crucified by the Jews on a Roman cross,(Acts 2:36) in propitiation for – in substitution for (2 Co 5:21)- our sins (1Jo 4:10)
G) That death was the satisfaction – the payment for – the wrath of God. (Rom 3:25) All who believe on Christ will be saved from the Judgement to come. (Rom 5-9)
H) That Redeemer defeated sin, overcame death (Rom 8:3) and proved the reality of His sacrifice’s power by raising Himself from the dead (Acts 17:31; John 2:19)- and now lives always to be the intercessor for His sheep (Heb 7:25)
I) Men come to Christ by the power of God (John 6:44) – by being born again of the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Pe 1:3), by the Repentance (Acts 5:31) and Faith (Rom 12:3, Phil 1:29)that both come as gifts from God – and are foreknown, predestined, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified by the power and for the glory of God. (Rom 8:28-37)

I think I was able to present most of it – and as we talked, he tended to try to direct the conversation to the Trinity argument – which I answered, and then returned to my presentation.

When we got to propitiation, we had a discussion of the atonement, justification, and the nature of man’s sinful state before God that I truly hope was extremely valuable to him. We discussed why the sacrifice had to be God, that there were two essential doctrines that the JWs truly do not properly recognize – sin, and the need for atonement from it. Personal atonement, for personal sin. He brought up the Trinity once, in relation to the early church’s witness – and I shared with him a bit of background concerning their supposed citation of Tertullian, in their book “Should you believe the Trinity?”. I’ve been working on a selection of quotations from those various Fathers, demonstrating that Trinitarian belief was something every major writer affirmed – albeit with lesser or greater degrees of accuracy. I’m also going to send him a rewritten summary, to see if he would consider that unobjectionable.

Hopefully, we can stay in contact – and he looked to be very interested in doing so. May God bless these opportunities in the future 😉

Debate: July 31st

I’m participating in a debate with the “proprietor” of Urban Philosophy, a website devoted to discussion of Philosophy, and the return of Philosophy to the forefront of people’s lives. Mitch LeBlanc is an undergraduate student in Philosophy and an atheist.

The thesis of the debate is:

“Is the Triune God of Scripture the proper grounds for all knowledge?”

I am taking the affirmative position, Mitch the negative.

The debate is on July 31st, and begins at 8:30pm. Anyone wishing to attend can register at the Urban Philosophy site, and join “Chat”.

The format is still TBD, but will likely include an opening statement from both parties, multiple cross-examination periods, as well as rebuttals. Other details still forthcoming.

On the SBC and anti-Calvinism

Just to open up, I found Timmy Brister’s timeline very useful in organizing all of the commentary concerning the John 3:16 conference. While the conference was, indeed, an SBC All-Star event – it was decidedly anti-Calvinist. Now, I am quite aware that they don’t particularly like this categorization of their stance – Dr. Allen, for example, has taken exception to this – but, on the other hand, they certainly aren’t worried about categorizing Dr. White (a good friend, and spiritual mentor), Steve Camp, and Dr. Robert Reymond, whose Systematic Theology has been very helpful to me, as Hyper-Calvinists. Now, I’ve had quite a bit of dialogue with real hypers – and I have to say… they obviously have no idea what a hyper-calvinist is.

Now, I’m aware he would also reject this statement. He has, repeatedly. However, he has also repeatedly demonstrated that he has a lack of understanding concerning the difference between orthodox, historical calvinism and hyper-calvinism; decretive and preceptive will; anthropological will/desire and theological will/desire; not to mention showing a complete lack of balance in addressing the issue of Calvinism, in general. Apparently, Dr. Allen, as a professor of systematic theology, is unable to distinguish between these things. As a member of the SBC, I find this lack of perception absolutely mind-boggling, given our historical foundation as a Calvinist denomination. I don’t doubt that he would differ with that – but the fact remains.

My problem with this entire issue – with this entire conference, is that it is a group of SBC theologians with an axe to grind. The axe, of course, being the dismissal of Calvinism as orthodoxy. In the process of attempting to paint Calvinists in a certain light, they stooped to slander, followed by libel, in defense of the original slander. Dr. Allen’s statement is as follows:

“This is important. Here is the reason why this stuff is important. Limited atonement creates a situation where there is a diminishing of belief in God’s universal saving will. Dr. Tom Ascol sums up the historic Calvinist position when he wrote ‘I believe that God desires for all people to be saved but has purposed to save His elect. I see two (at least two) dimensions in God’s will: revealed and decretive. Failure to make this kind of distinction is a failure to read the Bible’s teachings on the will of God accurately.’ This statement was made in 2006 just before the time when the debate with the Caner brothers was scheduled to take place and Dr. Tom Ascol was supposed to join forces with James White to oppose the Caner brothers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, James White is a hyper-Calvinist. By the definition of Phil Johnson in his A Primer of Hyper-Calvinism, Phil Johnson of, who is the right hand man of John MacArthur, Phil Johnson tells you the five things that make for hyper-Calvinism, and James White by his teaching is a hyper-Calvinist. Now whatever we do in Baptist life, we don’t need to be teaming up with hyper-Calvinists. It’s fine for Calvinists to get together and have debates with non-Calvinists. Fine dandy and wonderful; let that happen all day long. But it is time for Calvinists within the convention to come out and say some strong words about hyper-Calvinism.

By the way, James White is a Baptist, he is not a Southern Baptist. On April 10, during a phone call on the “Dividing Line” web cast, James White scornfully denied there is any sense in which God wills the salvation of all men. That is the total opposite of what Tom Ascol said. By the way, Ascol is right that God wills the salvation of all men. White is the one who’s wrong. The denial of God’s universal saving will is a problem.”

Now, the reasons that this is an absolutely absurd statement have been documented, quite thoroughly, by both Phil Johnson, and Dr. Ascol – not to mention Dr. White!

Phil Johnson:

if Dr. Allen thinks James White is a hyper-Calvinist by my definition, then he doesn’t understand my definition.

Dr. Ascol:

Although I must say that any conference that accuses James White of being a hyper-Calvinist loses credibility with thinking people.

Dr. White:

I simply point out that he seems to wish to establish a definition that forces one to somehow confess what God desires without providing any biblical basis for how we as creatures are to know this. Does God command repentance? Of course. Of all? Yes, of all. Do you proclaim the gospel to all? Yes, to all. Do you say it is the duty of all to believe? Surely, of course. Do you believe the proclamation of the gospel is the means by which God’s Spirit draws the elect unto Christ? Most assuredly. So what is the single basis of Allen’s accustion of “hyper-Calvinism”? My refusal to believe God decreed His eternal disappointment. I find nothing in Scripture or in the LBCF1689 that forces me to believe that God chose to create in such a fashion as to create His own unhappiness, His own lack of fulfillment. I see no reason to believe that God desires to do something He does not will to accomplish. It is only man’s limited nature that even raises the issue, for we know that the proclamation of God’s law reveals God’s prescriptive will, i.e., do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not lie, etc. Hence we ascribe to God the concept of “desire” and say God does not “desire” that man do these things. Yet, we likewise know that texts like Genesis 50:20 tell us that God has willed that such events take place, and that, in fact, He uses them to accomplish His own purposes, His own glory. The problem is in trying to read into God’s will our own self-limitations. I can freely offer the gospel to all, not because I reject election, nor because I ascribe to God a human-oriented desire that runs directly counter to His own self-revelation and consistency, but because I do not know the identity of the elect, and I have the full promise of Scripture that no man, no woman, no child, will ever, ever turn in faith to Jesus Christ and yet be rejected by Him. ALL who believe will be saved. Will any man believe outside of God’s grace, God’s granting of repentance and faith? Surely not, but again, I do not possess knowledge of the identity of the elect. Hence, I can freely and properly proclaim the duty to repent and believe to all, knowing that those who do so will be those God has drawn to Himself. I find myself completely consistent with the Apostle who likewise said he endured all the trials and tribulations of the ministry “for the sake of the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10).

As I’ve said, this commentary by Dr. Allen, and the other j316 presenters, has been discussed by many, many folks – Timmy Brister has also put together a compilation of liveblogging links from calvinists who attended, as well. A cursory search will give you a wealth of commentary. My concern, as I’ve said, is that these noted SBC theologians seem to have an axe to grind. That axe, regardless of their protests to the contray, is an anti-calvinist one. Dr. Allen is on record as saying that “Should the Southern Baptist Convention move toward 5-point Calvinism, such a move would be away from, and not toward, the gospel.” (This was met with a standing ovation.) Now, although Dr. Allen’s insistence is that he is not an anti-calvinist – the reason he says this is as follows;

One of the overriding concerns throughout Ascol’s blog post is evidenced by the four times he identifies me (indirectly each time but clearly I am included) as “anti-Calvinist” (emphasis mine). This is simply false. I am not anti-Calvinist. … Neither is it accurate to portray my recent review of the book Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue or my John 3:16 presentation as “anti-Calvinist.” One must distinguish between being against people who hold certain theological views and disagreeing with the views those people hold. I am not against any Calvinist in the Southern Baptist Convention. I do believe that Calvinism, especially five-point Calvinism, is biblically and theologically flawed at certain points.

In my book review and presentation at the John 3:16 conference, I was at pains to show this. It is apparent to me that some Calvinists within and without the SBC simply will not brook any criticism of Calvinism. To do so in their minds is to be anti-Calvinist.

Let me also say that there are occasions where I am against what Calvinists do or don’t do because of what they believe. I referenced one or two such incidents toward the end of my John 3:16 paper as well as in my book review. Why should this be a problem since Calvinists likewise reciprocate here? In fact, is not this rejoinder the result of Dr. Ascol’s own criticism of my criticism whereby he takes exception to what I have done or have not done because of what I believe? I consider this to be an example of being too thin-skinned.

Also, would it be possible for anyone reading Ascol’s blog to come to the conclusion that he is anti-non-Calvinist or anti-Classical Arminian? I suspect some could, some would, and I know of some who have. Sauce for the goose.

News flash: This is equivocation. When we say one is “anti-calvinist” – we very much do mean that someone is against reformed theology. That someone opposse it. To equivocate, as if the statement somehow means that one is personally dead set against the inclusion of Calvinists, as persons, in the SBC, is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, I would have to say that Dr. Allen knows this very well. It was a cheap attempt to score points. Yes, we recognize that, Dr. Allen. Thank you so very much for your attempt to score points off of us with your supporters via condescension. Does Dr. Allen think that we won’t recognize such cheap tricks? If that is what he thinks, I sincerely hope he understands that we do, in fact, recognize such attempts for what they are. They certainly aren’t building any bridges. In fact, it simply propagates the contrary of his insistence that he has no personal animosity, when he makes such remarks. If one treats those one disagrees with such contempt for their understanding, one cannot be surprised if we respond as if he were being insulting. Frankly, if he doesn’t recognize it as insulting, that concerns me. What on earth is he teaching? While the personal dismissal is troubling, what troubles me more is the constant misrepresentation of the positions held by the men he defames. If this misrepresentation is so endemic – as Dr. White, Dr. Ascol, and others have shown – if his understanding of Reymond, Edwards, Owen, Calvin, not to mention Scripture itself, is that flawed – as has been shown by many in the Reformed faith – what on earth can we say other than what we are saying? Dr. Allen is either woefully ignorant – in which case, what is he doing teaching systematic theology? Or, Dr. Allen is being intentionally deceitful, by misrepresenting men of God. What else can we say? Did he not expect this response, when he penned his words for this talk? Did he not expect that those of the reformed faith would examine his words, and compare them to that of historical calvinists, modern calvinists? That those he criticized would not respond? We’ve done both – and we’ve found his comments woefully lacking in historical basis, understanding, and most especially, in any sort of Biblical foundation. Far be it from me to mince words – but in any sort of factual examination of his comments, they have no basis whatsoever in reality, these men’s comments, or in Scripture. This is why we comment so forcefully in our responses. His comments are an affront – not only to these precious men of God, but to the Scripture which we regard so highly. It’s not an attempt to “score points” – but to defend the Word, and the gospel we are commanded to preach. I exhort him to take that into consideration, and to examine his comments in light of Scripture, and not in light of Dr. Byrne’s conception of historic calvinism, which seem to greatly influence his comments.

Yes, I’m a bit perturbed. I’ll admit it. This does not, however, dismiss the fact that the speakers at the J316 conference are either intentionally misrepresenting the Reformed faith to attempt to “stem the tide” of young adherents to calvinism, or misunderstand our position so badly that they are simply firing darts into strawmen constructed of various and sundry piecemeal constructs with no real foundation in real, reformed theology. This insistence is not a new one. Men have been misrepresenting Fuller as an antagonist to Gill for quite a long time. Gill has been represented as a hyper-calvinist for a very long time. Owen, Turretin, and others have also been represented as hyper-calvinist. These representations, however, are simply not true, if you examine their works. You can see a consistent representation of historic, orthodox calvinism in all of the aforementioned men; and their affirmation of it’s doctrines has consistently led to the careful and painstakingly precise exegesis that is the hallmark of the reformed faith. To say otherwise is simply to anachronistically read your own free-will requiring principles back into historic calvinism. To cite Edwards’ Freedom of the Will to somehow affirm unlimited atonement is utterly baffling. To water Owen down in such a manner is simply amazing. To wrest Scripture to an affirmation of autonomous free will, I’m sorry, is just incredible. When you do even a cursory examination of the writings of both the historical and modern champions of human autonomy, and compare them to the historical and modern champions of God’s unquestioned, and incomparable sovereignty; there is simply no comparison whatsoever in the quality and consistency of argumentation. There is no difference in this discussion, either.

Friends, I’m just plain annoyed that this debate even exists in the SBC. That men are so self-deceived that they think that championing man’s autonomous free will, as practically every other apostate denomination does, is somehow an affirmation of Scripture, simply appalls me. If you don’t like the harshness of that comment – too bad. Sneer at the “unkind” tone all you like. I do love my brethren who disagree – but the love of the brethren is grounded in love of Scripture, first and foremost. If you reject the Word of God, and it’s position on the place of man, the place of your will, and the place of your own determination in your own salvation – if you persist in the Romish pursuit of decisional works in your own salvation – if you persist in the downright slander and libel of those who faithfully preach the word of God, for the sake of your desire to preserve the choice of man, while advocating the slavery of God’s will to the will of man – expect opposition. Expect opposition when you defame men who preach the gospel without fear or favor, to all men. Expect opposition when you condescendingly assume that those who were graciously brought to transformation of their mind, lovingly corrected of their conformation to the world in their embrasure of the sovereignty of their own wills, are simply ignorant of history, theology, and Scripture. Sirs, we are most decidedly not ignorant. If we were, we wouldn’t be objecting to the unfair usage of the historical calvinists whom we have read, love, and emulate, as they emulated Christ. Expect opposition when you paint the men who have done so much to teach us the Word out to be heretics, scripture-twisters, and the like. When you tell us that the gospel we preach is nothing of the sort. I beg to differ, sirs, and I expect your opposition when I say the following. “Open union with the people of God is most desirable. It would argue disloyalty in a soldier if he would not wear his regimentals, and refused to take his place in the ranks. True, he might fight alone, but it would probably turn out to be a sorry business. If God’s people will not be ashamed of us we need not be ashamed of them. I should not like to go into a public assembly disguised in the dress of a thief; I prefer my own clothes, and I cannot understand how Christians can bear themselves in the array of worldlings.” – C.H. Spurgeon I, Sirs, think very much that you are ashamed of us. Further, I feel that you are, in fact, ashamed of the Gospel.

Sirs, a gospel which presents sin as sickness, not death; a gospel which presents a foreseen work of faith as the sole, passive acknowledgment of God in salvation of sinners; a gospel which presents Christ as dying for the never-to-be-justified, along with those who will be justified; a gospel which presents the works of faith and repentance as the requirements for regeneration; a gospel which presents certainty of salvation as a nebulous (but still within the freely willed choice of man?) “seal”, but without the decretal, sovereign will of God as the complement to and surety for it – this is a gospel without power, and not the Gospel of Scripture. There is indeed a Gospel delivered once and for all to the saints. The gospel that was presented in this conference is nothing of the sort. You wonder why there was such a response? The response was due to the sub-biblical gospel presented, the dismissive manner in which the Scriptural Gospel was treated, and the frequent, cavalier, even reckless accusations thrown at ministers of the Gospel. First and foremost, the response engendered by the John 3:16 conference was instigated by the complete disregard for Scripture shown by those who spoke. Secondly, it was instigated by the insistence of the speakers to misrepresent and redefine reformed theology. Thirdly, it was instigated by the strange and acontextual cherry-picking of quotes from reformed theologians to substantiate the claims made by the speakers.

As has been shown, by many, many folks around the web, the conference was an unmitigated debacle. It has done nothing but polarize things further – I don’t really midn that, in some ways, because it shows what they really think, when they get together, but will not say in a conventional setting – only in conferences. I challenge Dr. Allen to discuss these things publicly, in a formal setting, with Dr. White, as he has been asked to. Let the SBC see your arguments for your position. Let Dr. Byrne, Dr. Yarnell, Dr. Allen, Dr. Land, Dr. Hunt, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Keathley, Dr. Vines, Dr. Stanley, and Dr. Caner debate these issues publicly, with their theological opponents in and out of the SBC. This was an All-Star conference, as I’ve said. If they truly feel, as Dr. Allen said, that “a move toward 5-point Calvinism is a move away from the Gospel” – let’s hash it out, instead of doing this conference-sniping. Instead of skirting around the issue, let’s get this issue concerning the Gospel out in the open, and freely discussed in public. Let’s debate it, instead of sniping from the opposing sides. If you are truly against the gospel preached by the reformed, then let’s see some real discussion of that, and discussion with the men you disagree with. Like myself. Let’s see, from Scripture, how your position stacks up. Debate it. Yes, yes, good men can disagree on it.

I’m tired of the pussyfooting around. Let’s start talking to each other, not past each other. I don’t need you to tell me what I believe. I need you to show me how what you beleive accords with Scripture. “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason … my conscience is captive to the Word of God.” ~ Luther

Here we stand, my friends. We can do no other.

I’ll leave you with something from the Prince of Preachers.

It has this singular virtue also—it is so coherent in all its parts. You cannot vanquish a Calvinist. You may think you can, but you cannot. The stones of the great doctrines so fit into each other, that the more pressure there is applied to remove them the more strenuously do they adhere. And you may mark, that you cannot receive one of these doctrines without believing all. Hold for instance that man is utterly depraved, and you draw the inference then that certainly if God has such a creature to deal with salvation must come from God alone, and if from him, the offended one, to an offending creature, then he has a right to give or withhold his mercy as he wills; you are this forced upon election, and when you have gotten that you have all: the others must follow. Some by putting the strain upon their judgments may manage to hold two or three points and not the rest, but sound logic I take it requires a man to hold the whole or reject the whole; the doctrines stand like soldiers in a square, presenting on every side a line of defence which it is hazardous to attack, but easy to maintain. And mark you, in these times when error is so rife and neology strives to be so rampant, it is no little thing to put into the hands of a young man a weapon which can slay his foe, which he can easily learn to handle, which he may grasp tenaciously, wield readily, and carry without fatigue; a weapon, I may add, which no rust can corrode and no blows can break, trenchant, and well annealed, a true Jerusalem blade of a temper fit for deeds of renown. The coherency of the parts, though it be of course but a trifle in comparison with other things, is not unimportant. And then, I add,—but this is the point my brethren will take up—it has this excellency, that it is scriptural, and that it is consistent with the experience of believers. Men generally grow more Calvinistic as they advance in years. Is not that a sign that the doctrine is right. As they are growing riper for heaven, as they are getting nearer to the rest that remaineth for the people of God, the soul longs to feed on the finest of the wheat, and abhors chaff and husks. And then, I add—and, in so doing, I would refute a calumny that has sometimes been urged,—this glorious truth has this excellency, that it produces the holiest of men. We can look back through all our annals, and say, to those who oppose us, you can mention no names of men more holy, more devoted, more loving, more generous than those which we can mention. The saints of our calendar, though uncanonized by Rome, rank first in the book of life. The names of Puritan needs only to be heard to constrain our reverence. Holiness had reached a height among them which is rare indeed, and well it might for they loved and lived the truth. And if you say that our doctrine is inimical to human liberty, we point you to Oliver Cromwell and to his brave Ironsides, Calvinists to a man. If you say, it leads to inaction, we point you to the Pilgrim Fathers and the wildernesses they subdued. We can put our finger upon every spot of land, the wide world o’er, and say, “Here was something done by a man who believed in God’s decrees; and, inasmuch as he did this, it is proof it did not make him inactive, it did not lull him to sloth.”
The better way, however of proving this point is for each of us who hold these truths, to be more prayerful, more watchful, more holy, more active than we have ever been before, and by so doing, we shall put to silence the gainsaying of foolish men. A living argument, is an argument which tells upon every man; we cannot deny what we see and feel. Be it ours, if aspersed and calumniated, to disprove it by a blameless life, and it shall yet come to pass, that our Church and its sentiments too shall come forth “Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.”

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