Saturday, March 22, 2014

Young, longer reformed? Austin Fischer debates James White.

Austin Fischer comes across as genuine and conscientious, having wrestled with his conscience, concerning the matter of the High Calvinist doctrine of Unconditional Reprobation, in lieu of the love, goodness and justice of God. Conversely, James White comes across as a theological bully, trying to pigeon-hole Fischer into the classifications of an Open Theist, even though Fischer is not, and White also mentioned Universalism, also knowing full well that Fischer is not a Universalist either, and finally White explains that he is concerned that Fischer is not even a Bible believer. White became noticeably testy when Fischer objected at White's attempt to supply a relevant analogy of how Unconditional Reprobation would be consistent with God's love. However, I should point out that whereas White's attempt was indeed a "swing and a miss," Bruce Ware did advance a particular analogy of "Winston Churchill," in his debate with Jerry Walls, although in fairness, that analogy had core problems, rather than mere tangential flaws. Perhaps White couldn't either recall that particular analogy, or he was unwilling to advance it. The answer is anyone's guess.

Here is the issue: We can talk all we want about how "dead rebel sinners" deserve God's wrath, but the real issue (in reference to Calvinism), is exactly how they became a "damned class" in the first place, and John Calvin's Calvinism taught something about a "Dreadful Decree," and on this point, the debate became interesting. On the one hand, White was trying to juggle the matter of how God would be loving toward a given unconditionally reprobated soul, by virtue of God delaying their future judgment or restraining further evil, which is absolutely absurd considering a fixed, immutable, exhaustive decree, determining whatsoever comes to pass. (The problem is that Calvinists can't get their own story straight.) On the other hand, White admits that God *needed* the poor unconditionally reprobated soul, in order to possess an object upon which to demonstrate God's various attributes of wrath and justice. (Perhaps White didn't recall at the time, but in a previous debate with Dave Hunt, White had suggested that God had various types, levels and forms of love, which may encompass the type of love that God had for the poor unconditionally reprobated soul, and Hunt replied that there is no known type, level or form of love which would adequately fit those who are [allegedly] created from eternity to comprise a "damned class.") So in essence, White wants to talk about the fact of their state of being as a dead rebel sinner, being undeserving of God's mercy, but he was very uncomfortable in talking about how they became part of an eternal "damned class" in the first place, and how that relates to the love, goodness and justice of God. For White to say that God needed them, in order to have object lessons of justice and wrath, only reinforced Fischer's point that the Calvinistic concept of divine self glorification was a "black hole" which consumed all of God's other attributes. This issue is not new to Calvinists, and Calvinists wrestle with it in different ways, by some affiliating themselves with a Moderate Calvinism in the Infralapsarian mold, while other Calvinists simply bite the bullet as High Calvinists, in the Supralapsarian mold.

My conclusion is this: Austin Fischer is no longer a Calvinist because he ceased the self-deception and honestly dealt with the difficult issue, whereas James White is in complete denial, and demonstrated that, completely.