The Potter’s Freedom by James R. White

When engaging in a debate it is important–rather let me say–it is imperative to represent your opponent’s view fairly and accurately. After reviewing your opponent’s position, your opponent should be able to say, “Yes, that is exactly what I believe.” Many books have been written, contributing to the theological discussion of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in the doctrine of salvation. Is God free to choose men to salvation? Is man free to respond by faith to the message of the gospel? White, an apologist for Calvinism, takes issue with an older work, Chosen But Free, written by Norman Geisler, in this book of his own, The Potter’s Freedom.

White has two main problems with Geisler’s depiction of extreme Calvinism (as Geisler calls it), moderate Calvinism, and Arminianism. The first problem is that Geisler redefines the terms of the argument. He calls himself a moderate Calvinist all the while defending the doctrine usually referred to as Arminianism. Thus, he appears in a slightly better light, while pushing his opponent into the dark corners of extreme Calvinism. The second problem is that in redefining the terms he has misrepresented Calvinism as a system of doctrine as most theologians understand it.

White clearly accomplishes his purpose in his book. He takes lengthy quotations from Chosen But Free to demonstrate the re-interpretations and misunderstandings. He walks through the cardinal doctrines (TULIP) of Calvinism and also shows how Geisler misrepresents them on the one hand, and how Geisler himself does not hold to any of them, making it a misnomer to refer to himself as a moderate Calvinist.

I do not recommend White’s book, however. I would recommend that White hire an editor who is not afraid to fix the style and remove unnecessary repetition. It drones after a while. The tone and rhetoric are too much for me. I am not a big fan of emphasis! and there is a lot of it once you get past the Introduction. If you are still interested, read the Introduction–it is really all you need, and it is well written. White complains that Geisler’s book does not contribute to the conversation but muddies the waters. I would, unfortunately, say the White has not really contributed anything either. The world did not need a 375-page response to Geisler. White could have said it all in a blog post.

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