I've been listening to James White review a lecture given by Paige Patterson on Calvinism. Well, it is sad that someone who has such a complete disregard for serious exegesis of Scripture, and a complete disregard for the hermeneutic of allowing Scripture to interpret itself, and who completely ignores all the Scriptural arguments that have been made against his position and never responds to them with any meaningful exegesis--it is sad that such a person is teaching future pastors and is even the president of a seminary.
First, Dr. Patterson gives a list of Scripture that seems to support Calvinism. Then he gives a list of Scripture that he says seems to support Arminianism. How does one overcome such a contradiction? By sacrificing the sovereignty of God in favor or the sovereignty of man. Oh, he wouldn't call it that. He would never say that man's supposed free will is sovereign. But then, Catholics say that they don't worship Mary and the saints, the only venerate them. They give dulia to saints and latria to God. But as Calvin said, that is a distinction without a difference.
Anyway, Dr. White gives quick and basic responses to most of what Paige Patterson had to say. Patterson did a lot of spoof-texting, that technique common to dispensationalists in particular, where they just throw out a bunch of verses without ever examining the context or the original languages. For instance, he gave a lot of "whosoever believes" verses. For one thing, Dr. White points out that this is the KJV that Patterson was using. If you look at different translations, the phrase is often rendered as "he that believes" or something like that. But the main point is that these verses, without their context, does not say who "whosoever" is. All Calvinists agree that all who believe will be saved. But Calvinists argue that man is incapable of himself to believe. Only God can grant it to a man to believe, and therefore there is absolutely no contradiction between verses such as "No man can come unto me unless the Father draw him" and "anyone who comes unto Me will not be cast out." But Paige Patterson just works on his man-made tradition that says that "whosoever" must mean anybody in the whole world. Dr. White points out that many of the arguments that Patterson makes can just as easily be made by universalists. For instance, one verse says that Jesus paid for the sins of all men. Well, without looking at the context or giving any exegesis whatsoever, Patterson tells us that this must mean that every person in all of time and space had his sins paid for by Jesus Christ. WELL THEN WHY IS THERE ANYBODY IN HELL?!!! If we're going to use Patterson's hermeneutic, then the only logical conclusion is that everybody will be saved. Patterson would of course deny that everybody will be saved, but that is just because he is being happily inconsistent. If everybody isn't going to be saved, then there is only one other logical conclusion. That would be that Jesus was a failure. Metallica can now be justified in writing a song called "The God Who Failed." Of course, I'm not saying anything new. I am just pretty much rehashing the arguments made by John Owen in his irrefutable work entitled The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. It would be nice if persons such as Dr. Patterson would respond to the Scripturally-based arguments of people like Owen before teaching students their hogwash. Of course, they can't respond to Owen. If Dr. Patterson read quotes from John Owen, including Owen's Scripture references, the students would immediately see how flatly Patterson's arguments fall. So he ignores such Scripturally-based arguments and hopes his listeners will ignore them, too, and just accept his word for it. So what do those verses mean, if it would be unacceptable to say that they support universalism or a failure redeemer? Well, a look at context would help. I am not responding to any verse in particular, so I am not being specific. Many verses don't have the words "died for all men". Instead, they say "died for all." At this point, the Arminian like Dr. Patterson eisegetes the word "men" in there to fit his tradition. But a serious student of Scripture should be more hesitant to throw in a word and instead stop and say, "All what?" That is where context comes in. More often than not, the discussion has to do with God no longer dealing exclusively with the Jews but now including the Gentiles. In such a case, it is very reasonable to assume that "died for all" means "died for all nations". This doesn't have to mean every individual ever. It just means that the work of God has spread geographically. Sometimes the verse will say something like "died for you". Here the Arminians say that "you" equals "everybody". James White says that so far nobody has been able to answer his question as to why the particular epistle this verse is found in was written to everybody and not just the church. You get the point. When Peter starts out a letter (1 Peter) with the greeting to those who "are chosen" (1:1), and refers to his readers as being "born again" (1:3, 23), as those who "love Him" (1:8), as those who are "believers in God" (1:21), "a chosen race" (2:9), "the people of God" (2:10) -- why should we assume that when Peter says "He Himself bore our sins" (2:24) that Peter is suddenly, without warning, talking about everybody? Why should not "our" refer to the same people that Peter has been talking about this whole time? Why the sudden switch? Perhaps because we're imposing our traditions on the text and making Peter switch topics when we need him to in order to fuel our tradition?
Which leads to the last thing. Patterson ends his lecture by saying that many people force their grid onto Scripture. The Calvinist sees verses that don't fit his grid, so he just cuts them out. Well. James White commends him for warning against forcing a grid on Scripture, but then points out that such a grid-forcing is what we've been listening to throughout the entire lecture. I should mention that Patterson also accuses Arminians of doing the same thing, speaking as if he wasn't an Arminian himself. He must be like Norm Geisler in that respect--he accepts 90% of the tenets of Arminianism but says he's not an Arminian. Again, a distinction without a difference.
Oh well. You can listen to this stuff yourself at http://aomin.org/dividingline.html. The shows in question are 10/28/04 and 12/14/04.