Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 5:1 (Spring 2001) p. 92
The Potter’s Freedom: A Defeanse of the Reformation and a Rebuttal of Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free. By James R. White. Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2000, 343 pp., $17.99.
Several features give unusual importance to The Potter’s Freedom for contemporary evangelicalism in general and Southern Baptists in particular. First, the debate involves two effective and passionate Christian apologists who affirm inerrancy without equivocation. Both also have trained themselves to detect error destructive of Christian truth and have active ministries of positive instruction in the faith and debate against error. Second, it has immediate implications for the current turmoil in evangelicalism over Open Theism. Third, these doctrines under discussion reflect the give-and-take of the Southern Baptist theological renewal. Fourth, White presents an argument that corresponds perfectly with the theological concerns of Southern Baptists in the early generations of denominational life.
Geisler’s book prompted the strong response by White in its claim to represent “moderate Calvinism” as opposed to “extreme Calvinism.” Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure so is one man’s “moderate Calvinism” another man’s Arminianism. Along the way of defending his moderate version of Calvinism, Geisler seeks to repudiate every distinctive doctrine of Calvinism and replace it with his own stylized theology. James White could not let this redefinition go unchallenged. Not only, according to White, does Geisler give misleading signals with his nomenclature, he badly misrepresents Calvinistic arguments and argues his own case poorly, employing a number of exegetical and logical fallacies.
In this review, I will summarize the polemical strategy of White, evaluate his arguments and interaction with Geisler, and relate the issue to contemporary Southern Baptist life.
Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free [CBF] warned his readers against a system of thought that he considered a “hideous error, … shocking, …hav[ing] a devastating effect on one’s own salvation, …theologically inconsistent, philosophically insufficient, and morally repugnant.” It makes its adherents go through “exegetical contortions.” Geisler names the system that he describes as “extreme Calvinism.” He intends to defend a kinder gentler version of Protestant doctrine that he prefers to call “moderate Calvinism.” [White, 17–19]
James White cannot conscientiously allow Geisler to go unchallenged on these unkind and ungentle charges, particularly in light of the mangled portrait of historic Reformed theology set forth by Dr. Geisler. An artist would go far in his credibility to compare his talents w...
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