I know I keep saying this, but I have no interest in making this one of those blogs that talks about Calvinism Vs Arminianism all of the time. First, because it’s a false dichotomy and I am neither. Secondly, because it’s just not my thing. I have LOTS of other opinions that make people uncontrollably leave comments telling me that I am an idiot.
But, well, sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do, and this is one of those times because I enjoy laughing at other people. Haven’t you ever watched Fail Army? Don’t judge me.
So THIS VIDEO is an archive of a podcast from Leighton Flowers from Soteriology 101. This podcast is a master class in trolling from a man who is much too polite for his own good. Leighton is not a troll, but he shows here that he could take a professional swing at it.
First, some background:
James White is the kind of Calvinists that makes other Calvinist make videos called “Why are Calvinists Jerks?” He is, in his own right, a very educated guy who is a Jedi Master at debate rhetoric, but he has a MASSIVE blind spot in his Calvinism. Part of his Calvinism, which he admits in this podcast, is a rejection of Free Will. His Calvinism includes Determinism, which means it is the decree of God which determines ALL THINGS. Everything that happens, including everything you ever think, feel or do is all determined by God. Not just allowed, and not merely permitted, but DETERMINED.
There is a guy named John Hendryx, himself a Calvinist who James White respects, who wrote an article explaining this view of determinism that he and White both agree on. Leighton Flowers took that article and reposted it, but anywhere that Hendryx said “desire,” or “Sin” or something vague like that, Flowers replaced it with “Homosexuality,” “homosexual desire,” etc. ALL flowers has done is put a specific sin or sinful desire in place of the vague references to sin or sinful desire in the original article. Then he put it on line and shared it with James White.
James hilariously tore it to shreds.
Much like the people who don’t watch past the first 6 seconds of one of my YouTube videos before they head to the comments to explain why I’m an ignorant savage, Dr White apparently didn’t read to the bottom of the article where Dr Flowers admits to what he’s done. So Dr White spends a significant amount of time ranting about how Hendryx (who White agrees with, but he thinks was Dr Flowers) doesn’t understand Calvinism, and is misrepresenting Calvinism, and on and on.
It’s really funny.
JAMES WHITE VS JAMES WHITE
James White spends a lot of time debating Calvinism because he thinks the Calvinistic things being said by another Calvinist are being said by Dr Flowers. And this brings us to the part where James White debates himself. Leighton included a quote from Dr White in this article that Dr White was ranting against, to show that White disagreed with the Deterministic Calvinism that his article (Actually Hendryx’s article) was describing. Did you get that? Read it a few more times of you need to.
Here is that quote of James White:
“If I have a desire toward arrogance, if I have a desire toward boasting and I act upon those desires then I’m acting upon the desires of my heart and that is what I’m judged for! Since I am made in the image of God I do not have to act upon those things, that is what makes us human beings, over against just animals.” – James White (emphasis mine)
And Dr White goes on to rant about how THIS quote is NOT his affirmation of human free will. He goes on to say,
“The point is, as human beings, we experience common temptations. But because we’re human beings, we don’t have to act on them. We have the ability to say NO. We have the ability to discipline ourselves. We have the ability to order our priorities.” -James White replying to himself (emphasis mine)
In the quote he’s replying to, he says essentially, “If I have a sinful desire and I choose to act on it by sinning, I am judged for that choice to sin. But I don’t HAVE to do that just because I desire it.” And in his reply to that quote (himself) he says, “We are all tempted to sin, but we can choose NOT to sin.”
On White’s own view of deterministic Calvinism, God determines ALL THINGS. Everything that ever happens is controlled and determined by God, and are the result of God’s specific decree. One of those things decreed by God is that every single person is born in a state of Total Depravity (aka: Total Inability, meaning inability to respond to God with obedience and love). And just to clarify, James White has stated that every act of evil IS DETERMINED BY GOD. Murderers murder BECAUSE God determined that they would. This is White’s publicly stated position.
Another article on monergism.com (the website that posted Hendryx’s original article) says this: “We deny that choice is free, because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil.” This is the foundation of the T in TULIP (read about that here).
TO THE ESCAPE PODS!
So it seems that James White is arguing not only with himself, but with John Calvin as well. But then White ends this part of his rant by saying, “I am NOT affirming Libertarian free will. But because I don’t know what God’s decree is, I can only act based upon the prescriptive will of God.”
This escape pod is meaningless. What’s worse, it again offers an example of White Vs White. Consider what he just said in an attempt to prove that he is a Determinist/Calvinist who rejects free will. He can act- (by which he MUST mean “Can CHOOSE to act” otherwise the word “can” becomes meaningless) upon the prescriptive will of God, by which he means the moral law found in the Bible. So again, he is saying “I can choose to obey (or not to obey) the moral laws of the Bible.” But why does he bring this up? Because he does not know the DECREE OF GOD- the DECREE which meticulously DETERMINES all things. The DECREE by which God sovereignly controls EVERYTHING EVER. Since he hasn’t been told what God decrees, he just has to choose something to do, like the things taught in the Bible. And he has to choose to do them, just as God commands people to do in the Bible.
But if God is determining everything that ever happens…. why do you need to know what He is decreeing? Doesn’t the idea state as a matter of definition that what God decrees WILL HAPPEN? But if that is the case, then how CAN you act on the prescriptive will of God? You CANNOT. You either will, or will not. There is no try.
The take away from this is several key ideas:
- The best way to win an argument is to quote a person back at themselves. It’s a lot less work than creating a counter argument, and a whole lot more funny.
- James White isn’t a Calvinist, and most likely no one else is either.
- The only thing funnier than your own jokes is someone else’s pain. But since that’s true for all of us, then the next time you fall flat on your face, take comfort in the fact that you’ve made someone laugh, even if that someone isn’t you. Yes, you failed. Join the army. We’ve got matching jackets.