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55 Responses

  1. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Norm Geisler was a great apologist, theologian, and developer of young high level theologians.
    His General Introduction to the Bible written with Bill Nix in 1968 was the standard bearer for a couple of decades.
    Great man – his work is done – RIP

    ***His book Chosen But Free, both the 1st & 2nd editions had Michael “spittin’ nickels” as we used to say” 🙂

  2. Michael says:

    I don’t think he was either a great apologist or a great man.
    Wrote a lame anti-Calvinist screed and supported Ergun Caner to the bitter end.
    I threw all his stuff out long ago.
    I do concede that the Nix book was the standard for a long time…

  3. bob1 says:

    I think Geisler was considered a Thomist in his approach. Pretty sure at least one of his degrees
    was from a Jesuit university. Blessed be his memory!

  4. Josh says:

    The Fathers in Seminary article is interesting. Kidd seems to be a really good hire for Midwestern.

    The Seminary Confidential article is a yawner. If you didn’t want to go to a “liberal” seminary, I can give you a list a mile long of good ones.

  5. Michael says:

    I follow Kidd on Twitter…interesting and helpful…

  6. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael. His book wasn’t anti Calvinism – it was a, what many would call a balanced look at Calvinism and Arminianism (both positions terribly wrong and disturbing in my view).
    It was much like Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God – just from opposite sides.

    But aren’t you glad you’ve been freed from such thought?

  7. Michael says:

    That book was atrocious. George Bryson level scholarship.
    I haven’t been freed from anything…I choose to keep thinking on these matters without being dogmatic about anything but Jesus.

  8. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well it was good enough to get both yours and James White’s panties in a wad. 🙂

    I think the man’s lifetime of work was tremendous and shouldn’t be judged on one book or about someone he supported. (I don’t know about you but I would find it hard to go a 65 yr professional career without erring or pissing someone off.)

    More people who have been blessed by his work will show up to his funeral than yours or mine.

  9. Josh says:

    It was NOT Bryson level. That’s a low blow. (hilarious, but low).

  10. Xenia says:

    I got to work with Norman Geisler when he visited my old Calvary Chapel for a few days to give a presentation on creationism, I think it was. I was in the back running his Power Point program. He was a very pleasant, considerate person to work with. May his memory be eternal.

  11. Michael says:

    In some ways it was worse than Bryson’s work. Geisler decided to refine theological terms by his own fiat and invented categories to suit his definitions. Utterly dishonest in engaging with his subject. Worst piece of work by a respected scholar I’ve ever read.

  12. Xenia says:

    Michael, I wonder if you read his book now if your judgement would be the same.

    Remember, you first read it when you were quite serious about Calvinism.

  13. Michael says:

    Xenia,
    Yes, it would be.
    He utterly misrepresented Calvin, Calvinism, and the whole of Reformed theology and refused correction when those misrepresentations were pointed out.

  14. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, I hate to be the one to point this out, but you don’t know what you are talking about and obviously never read the 2nd edition.
    For those unaware, Geisler wrote his book, James White went nuts ( which isn’t a far travel) – came up with his uber Calvinist.objections which Geisler responded with his 2nd edition.

  15. Michael says:

    MLD,
    If I were home you’d now be under moderation.
    I know what I’m talking about and I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow the constant insulting of all who disagree with you.
    I stand by what I said and every Reformed scholar and teacher who reviewed the work stands with me.
    You may applaud his other works…this was garbage.

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, first off, you disagreed with me first. If you can disagree, then I can disagree.

    Secondly, at 10:13 you dismissed the man’s body of work over 1 book of over 50 and his association with someone.

    Thirdly, I don’t know why you defend Calvinism and their scholars. Think about it, if as you say Geisler misrepresented Calvinism, at least he only misrepresented Calvinism. You on the other hand left Calvinism because they misrepresented Christianity.

  17. Michael says:

    MLD,
    My response to this requires I be home, not on a phone.
    I have never said that Calvinism misrepresents Christianity.
    Never.

  18. Michael says:

    It has been impressed upon me the foolishness of re-prosecuting an issue that is over a decade old.
    Blessings on those who found something valuable in Geisler’s teachings…I do not share your experience, but it isn’t mine to share.

    I will deal with why I left Calvinism at a later date…it has nothing to do with believing it misrepresents Christianity.

  19. Erunner says:

    As Geisler died in Christ he is now home and his pilgrimage here is complete. My condolences to his family and friends who have impacted by his passing.

  20. Jean says:

    Michael,

    “I will deal with why I left Calvinism at a later date…it has nothing to do with believing it misrepresents Christianity.”

    When you do deal with this, can you also deal with the implication: If one changes their mind (i.e., left Calvinism), could one rightly assume that you concluded or at least felt Calvinism is no longer was true. Otherwise, why would you change your mind?

    Am I misreading you? If Calvinism is not true for you, then by definition, it misrepresents, doesn’t it? The other option is that you left what you still believe to be true. Is that the case?

    All this brings up the larger issue of whether you believe there is anything in theology that is objectively true? If there is, then wouldn’t Christians believe in theology that they believe is objectively true. This of course could and does change in a Christian’s life, but at any point in time, they would not seek a teaching in which they believed that what they believed is wrong or that they don’t know what they believe or believe something they are not sure about. I assume someone wouldn’t leave something unless they found something else that rang truer.

    Thanks.

  21. Jean says:

    I will admit that if grace is irresistible and atonement is limited, then Lutheranism misrepresents Christianity.

  22. Bryonm says:

    Thanks for the link for two days in s row.

    Also, I love how you challenge people to push their thinking beyond wha’s approved by group leaders. I find the older I get, the less I know. It’s a good place to live.

  23. Michael says:

    BryonM,

    Anything we can do, anytime…is our pleasure!

  24. Michael says:

    “Leaving Calvinism” is a poor choice of words to describe where I’m at.

    I made a decision to not self identify as Reformed or Calvinist because (unlike MLD) I know what those who do so believe… and out of respect, and because of the broadness of the Anglican communion, I simply choose to call myself an “Anglican” or a “Christian”.

    I do not know whether all they believe is absolutely true or not…I know I’m questioning a lot of the things that were once dogma to me.

    Many are in search of correct dogma.
    I am in search of a Person and relationship…a knowledge not of mechanics, but of Spirit and truth.

    I am an Anglican because we’re allowed to worship while in process and we get to admit to the process without shame.

    I am an Anglican…but I believe that every orthodox sect has truth in it that’s given to them by God.

    I’ve learned more about God from our Eastern Orthodox sister than from most classes I’ve taken or books I’ve read…the witness of heart and life, (like our brother Bryon’s) is the best theology of all.

    Yes, there is objective truth…I confess the creeds daily.

    Most of the rest is a matter of interpretation and personal choice…one’s best guess at the whole.

    I would never ever say that my beloved Dr. Packer or the highly esteemed Calvin misrepresented anything intentionally…but neither do their legacies demand fealty to one school of thought.

    So…if you’re looking for those beloved binaries, right and wrong or black and white…I don’t have much to offer you other than what I confess and Who I confess.

  25. Michael says:

    Reformed theology served me well and, really, saved my faith in some ways.
    It had clear and forceful beliefs that helped me to explain what the providence of God had brought to my life and as long as I believed those things I had a safe space to live in.
    It stabilized me emotionally and spiritually for a very long time and I’m grateful for that.

    Time, pain, and the deaths of “unsaved” loved ones caused me to question again…maybe it was safe for me to do so now.

    Then, one day Duane asked me a simple question and I had no good answer.
    “What’s your view on the Incarnation?”

    I had stock answers, but not profound ones.

    I’m still studying to make a proper response…

    The question reminded me of just how much I don’t know and how comfortable my “ism” had become.

    Now, I’m very uncomfortable, I don’t feel safe at all, but my spirit is alive once more.

    Hanging with priests and poets will do all that to you…

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    Hanging with you, my brother, is a privilege …

  27. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Thank you…and likewise,my friend.

  28. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, that is all fine, but I just paid tribute to Norm Geisler and his work and not only did I catch hell for it but you ripped him also showing no grace to the dear departed.
    Sixty five years of work flushed by you because you refused to see or attempt to understand that perhaps good people don’t agree with you.

  29. Michael says:

    MLD,

    You’re correct.
    I did not show proper grace or respect to the departed, because I lost all respect for him over 20 years ago.
    I believe that Christian sects have a right to define their own beliefs and terminology, especially when they have been in practice for over 500 years.
    The entire Reformed community and not a few from outside the Reformed community rejected this work as a complete misrepresentation of the sect.
    There is a list of other things I have taken exception to from the man over the last twenty years as well.
    Still…it was not Christlike or decent to off on him on the day of his departure.
    I apologize to those who were blessed by him and confess my lack of grace in speaking ill of him at this time.

  30. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Your apology is fine, however ask 3 Calvinists to describe Calvinism and you will get 3 answers – so show a little mercy if us outsiders can’t figure it out.

  31. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    A note to the general reader who may not know the background of this Geisler conversation, I just want it known that Geisler was not some raging Arminian trying to take down Calvinism.
    Norm Geisler was a Calvinist – he described himself as a moderate Calvinist and that is what he expressed in his book Chosen But Free and he also had an article about it in his 4 volume systematic theology. In the end he was pretty much a 4 point Calvinist – his view;

    1.) Total depravity extends to the whole person but does not destroy the image of God in fallen human beings;
    2.) Election is unconditional from the standpoint of God’s giving it and only one condition for humans receiving it—faith;
    3.) The atonement is unlimited in its scope—Christ died for all mankind—but limited in its application to only the elect;
    4.) Grace is irresistible on the willing but does not force the unwilling;
    5.) All those who are regenerate will, by God’s grace, persevere to the end and be saved.

    So, this became an intra Calvinist debate — among Calvinists alone. Much like most do not understand that the original Calvinism / Arminian debate was among the Reformed churches alone.

    So, upon publication, James White produce his book The Potter’s Freedom in response. Geisler in turn published a 2nd edition to his book which included an appendix – Appendix 13 titled A Response to James White’s The Potter’s Freedom. He begins this appendix expressing gratitude to White for pointing out “errata” in the first edition and pinpoints the corrections made – mostly grammatical or basic choice of words, and then takes White to task for his errors and misrepresentations.

    Anyway, I just wanted it on the record that this wasn’t an Arminian / Calvinism debate but a Calvinism / Calvinism squabble.

    There is something to be said out of all Geisler writings he only took on one sect – his own.

  32. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Geisler was not a Calvinist in any way, shape, or form.
    No one in theological history had conceived of anything called a “moderate Calvinist”…that was purely a construction of Geisler and where the huge problems with this book started.
    What he called “extreme” Calvinism was what every confessional Calvinist agreed to.
    He then rewrote the standard “five points” to suit his fancy, but which were unrecognizable to real Calvinists.
    Geisler was not a Calvinist, he was garden variety evangelical, far more at home in Calvary Chapel, than Geneva.
    You are completely out of your depth on this…quit while you’re ahead.

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – stay in your own lane and don’t be offended that good Calvinists disagree.
    I don’t understand the CC quip – back at this time their was quite a large Calvinist population in CC.

    This moderate vs extreme is much like what has happened over the past 30 yrs in the pre mil dispensational circles as some back off the extreme dispy stuff and now call themselves progressive dispensationalist.

    Hey, I don’t know if Geisler is right or James White is right. As you know I think it is all flawed and half baked because by the time Calvinism came along, the Lutherans had already claimed all the correct doctrines / theologies, leaving the scraps. 🙂

  34. Michael says:

    “Michael – stay in your own lane and don’t be offended that good Calvinists disagree.”

    Shut up…you are simply trying to twist truth and demean me.

    There is not a single public voice in Reformed theology that accepted Geislers definitions.
    Michael Horton, Jim Packer, James White, Sam Storms, Bob Reymond, Sproul, and dozens of others tried to correct Geisler…who refused to be corrected at all.

    There has never been a “large” Calvinist segment of CC, but there was “large” amounts of money to start Veritas…
    I’ve had enough…end of discussion.

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Wait, you can say I am out of my depth and that isn’t demeaning?

  36. Steve says:

    First, Michael is right about Geisler. James White took him to the wood shed.

    To switch gears: post progressive? What is next? Neo- post progressive and than progressive neo-progressive and than post-progressive-neo-post-progressivism, ect..

  37. Josh says:

    Millard Erickson also uses the Moderate Calvinist label. I wonder who used it first. I would guess Geisler, but don’t really know.

  38. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, yes White did take Geisler to the woodshed in his Potter’s Freedom – that was promptly answered quite sufficiently in Geislers 2nd edition.
    Remember, White is Calvinisms current day bully.

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, thanks for the reminder about Erickson. When I return from my walk later I will check it out. I have his large systematic theology and a 3 volume set of his theological essays.

    It’s not a matter of who used the phrase first – it is a something that predated both of them.

  40. Jean says:

    I haven’t followed the intra-Calvinism debates, but I am privy to intra-Lutheran debates. In contemporary Lutheranism, there are two typical debates: (1) Who is the most accurate Luther interpreter? and (2) Who is the most accurate adherent to the Lutheran Confessions?

    These debates often get really nasty, to the point of anathematizing a faithful theologian over one or two points in controversy.

    Some see their tradition as a 4 lane highway, with enough room for reasonable differences to co-exist. Others see their tradition as the solid yellow line running down the middle of the road. For the latter, one must agree with you on every single point down to the smallest minutiae. There is often little listening to one another.

    Meanwhile, while we’re fighting each other over questions that often were not even on the minds of our forebearers, people are leaving the church and our society is becoming more secular every day.

    It’s all quite sad.

  41. Josh says:

    Jean, yes, it happens in every group. It’s the old “no true Scotsman” thing.

  42. Steve says:

    I didn’t realize Geisler supported Ergun Caner. That says a lot. Ergun is the poster boy for theological American evangelical fraud. Bryson may be poor scholarship but I liked the guy but not because of his theology.

  43. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Agreed… and well said.

  44. Michael says:

    I’m pretty angry right now.
    There is no reason I should have to prosecute this all over again…Geisler was not a weak, moderate, or ready to chew solid food Calvinist or any type of Calvinist at all.
    He thought he was being clever by claiming the distinction and rewriting the doctrines of grace, but he just lost a lot of credibility.
    What Geisler did was equivalent to denying the Real Presence in the Eucharist and rejecting the law/Gospel distinction and then calling himself a “moderate Lutheran”.
    Millard Erickson is another matter.
    Erickson falls into the “4 point Calvinist” camp that holds to everything but limited atonement, following the thought of Moises Amyraut and called “Amyraldism”.
    I don’t know if Ericsson follows Amyraut, but that’s where the doctrine started.
    I was part of that camp on my way out.
    Erickson is excellent…

  45. Josh says:

    No need to be angry. we’re just talking about another dead dude.

  46. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I’m not pretty angry, I’m really angry.
    I don’t tell other sects what they believe…I let them define themselves and their traditions, lest I look like a horses ass.
    I spent a long time as a Calvinist…I read deeply and broadly and was able to have some of the traditions best as my teachers.
    I won’t live long enough to be as well informed of Anglicanism as I was about Calvinism…I’m just sort of skimming the good stuff off the top.
    The Reformed community had one voice on the Geisler book…

  47. Michael says:

    James White did a lot of good work before his ego and politics drove him mad.
    His debates are his best work…because he was intentional about debating the best scholars on the other side and letting them define what their traditions believe and why.
    He did lean into being mean, then he fell over into mean completely.
    I can’t hear him anymore…

  48. Josh says:

    That’s fine, but nothing to get in an uproar about. Look, the guy is dead. He left behind a lot of work. In years to come, it will either venerate him or condemn him. I’ve never been a Geisler fan. Haven’t read much of his work. My guess would be that he did a lot of good, and some bad. Lets don’t fight someone for trying to recognize the good in a fallen brother.

  49. Josh says:

    Agreed on Jame White.

  50. Michael says:

    “Lets don’t fight someone for trying to recognize the good in a fallen brother.”
    I’m not.
    I’m fighting someone who is misrepresenting an entire sect, one that I belonged to and respect.
    If people want to tout his other work, have at it…

  51. Josh says:

    So you are mad about Chosen but Free right now? That was written quite a while ago. Relax, brother.

  52. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I’m angry about MLD’s continued defense of the book in the face of factual information and the demeaning of me in the process. I hadn’t thought of that wretched book in years and won’t think about again when this stupid argument is over.

  53. Steve says:

    James White was a little mean. I think John Piper is too sometimes. Is this something inherit within reformed churches? Westboro Baptist Church which claims the 5 points of calvinism is all about being mean. I really like Sproul and Horton so don’t think it’s all bad. But being mean definitely not cool.

  54. Michael says:

    Steve,

    Confessional churches do sometimes produce mean people, both Lutheran and Reformed.
    My eyes were opened when I was privileged to spend a week in Geneva with the Calvinist glitterati…some were complete jackasses.
    Michael Horton was actually a pretty nice guy…

  55. Sue says:

    Michael Horton taught the first class my husband sat through in seminary 17 years ago. (He earned a D in that class). Horton had little time for a struggling but sincere student (my husband, a total fish out of water among Horton’s other students…accounting major and then Army grunt worker in his pre-seminary days). when he came to him for help, he handed him another book to read and escorted him out the door. Perhaps he was.having an off day. Not saying my husband didn’t deserve the “D”….but just something I picked up in those circles. It was a rough season. I learned so much in that setting, but don’t call it home today, in some part because of experiences like that.

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