Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Un-Bible Answer Man Strikes Again

My respect for Hank Hanegraaff continues to wane on a regularly basis. I began to give up on him as a competent apologist a few years ago when he basically allowed progressive creationist guru, Hugh Ross, on his radio program to spread his day age heresy unchallenged. Worse still was how Hank refused to reign in Ross when he would run roughshod over nervous callers who were not as articulate as he was, nor had the time to present their challenges in a coherent fashion. This one show was a turning point for me and I slowly found myself listening less and less to the Bible Answer Man program.

In addition to being a tad too accommodating to muddleheaded theological points of view, Hank has taken up something of a crusade against biblical Calvinism. It is not born out in an out and out clumsy, scattergun assault like Dave Hunt's goofy book, but it is more along the lines of snide, cutting remarks and the setting afire of bogey strawmen caricatures of what Calvinists believe and teach when Hank interacts with inquiring callers. He employs some of the most inane illustrations I have ever heard in his opposition against Calvinists.

For example, in his attempt to discredit the Calvinistic understanding of God's divine foreknowledge (what I know to be the biblical view), and to affirm the unorthodox Arminian/Molinist view of prescience in which God knows something because He saw it happening before we did (as if events in time can play out apart from God so that He has to gather knowledge about them), and to prevent God from having any decreeing hand in the sinful activities of men, Hank appeals to the divorce of 60s folk singer icons, Sonny and Cher. What is commonly called "Sonny and Cher" theology. It is a stupefyingly inept illustration, but Hank says something along the lines of, "Just because we know Sonny and Cher got a divorce doesn't mean we had anything to do with it."

Yep. Believe me, my mouth is just as agape as yours. What relevance does something we as time bound humans know already happened (operative word being already as in "occurring in the past") 30 years ago have to do with the Eternal God of Heaven knowing and planning events in detail before they happen, including the sinful acts of men (Acts 2:23-24 for instance)?

A couple of years ago, in December 2003, Hank set up a debate type program between James White of Alpha and Omega ministries and George Bryson, a pastor in the Calvary Church denomination. A person could not have asked for a more mismatched debate. It was as if some sports promoter thought a good idea for a basketball game would be the Arkansas 2A state champions against the Los Angeles Lakers. In this particular instance, Hank, who was suppose to serve as moderator, was actually on the side of George Bryson in defending the libertarian "God has to watch the cosmic DVD of life before he predestinates" view of salvation. White stuck to the biblical text in order to define his position, while both Hank and Bryson wandered down rabbit trails thick with gut wrenching stories of women being raped and children molested and "how can you say God would allow such horrible things to happen?" James later said that during an off-air commercial break, Hank told him to basically drop the Bible verses. Simply amazing.

All of that to say, Hank has taken his Calvin bashing up a notch by beginning to imply Calvinism is akin to Mormonism and other wacky cults. James White reports on his blog that in a recent edition of the CRI Journal, there is a picture (see photo) of three individuals next to one another: Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism, T.D. Jakes, anti-Trinitarianan Oneness heretic, and John Calvin. According to CRI officials, they meant to demonstrate a progression of issues: Joseph Smith is clearly outside the Church, T.D. Jakes, whom I believe like James White, is just as much outside the Church as Joe Smith, is meant to convey heretics inside the Church, and Calvin, an internal controversy among Bible believing Christians. But who are they kidding? What is the idea being conveyed with this picture to the average reader? If I were to lay out a photo of three world leaders, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Hitler of Nazi Germany, and the George Bush and attach some vague title like, "Issues in world politics," what goes through the mind of a person? Moreover, why is it that Calvin is considered the issue maker? A more apt picture than Calvin's would had been Jacob Arminius who was genuinely the detractor from orthodoxy as any one familiar with the history would affirm.

On a related, anti Calvinist note, I heard the scuttlebutt down in Pensacola Florida is that crank, pseudo-researcher, Larry Vance, has parted ways from KJVO pontiff, Peter Ruckman. "Dr." Vance (where exactly did he earn that doctorate?), who was once the darling of the Ruckmanite groupies, has apparently fallen into bed with the anti-war moonbats and has imbibed every crackpot conspiracy theory promoted by the likes of the Moveon.org crowd.

Vance published a horrific, monstrosity of a book entitled, The Other Side of Calvinism Bah Ha Ha Ha Ha... I am kidding about that last part. It is one of those Fundy Baptist publications that never saw an editor, or fact checker for what it is worth, note the words "Revised Edition" at the top in yellow. By the way, why is it KJV only publications are always in the "revised edition?" Just wondering out loud. The book tops out at 600 plus pages with superfluous footnotes and the repeated use of all capital lettered sentences LIKE THE AUTHOR IS ALL THE TIME YELLING AT THE READER. My rule of thumb: If you have to repetitiously use all capital lettered sentences to get your point across, more than likely you have no clue what your talking about.

The reason I bring this up is because Vance's book is often times used by otherwise reputable Christians as a true source of information exposing the evils of Calvinism. Listen people, if the guy is already a kook about King James Onlyism (and now anti-war conspiracies) and hopelessly defends it with erroneous research and disastrous argumentation, why do you think he is right about Calvinism?

I remember arguing over the course of several posts at the Bible Version discussion board with a gal who operates an apologetic website called Lion of Judah. She was all the time hunting down KJV advocates so as to pick a fight over their fallacious arguments. I commend her for her tenaciousness, however, at the same time, she maintains an equal disdain for all things Calvinistic. Hello, inconsistency here. On the one hand, this poor gal mocks the apologetics of KJV advocates and declares them phony; yet at the same time depends upon the very same KJV advocates who write as ignorantly against Calvinism as they do in defense of KJV onlyism. I tried to show her her problem, but she accused me of the "poisoning the well" logical fallacy. She put up the following disclaimer on the Calvinist portion of her website after our encounter:

Please note: many Calvinists employ the "poisoning the well" method. They will "trash talk" all of the following books listed below, claiming that all of them are inaccurate works written by doofuses who are "misrepresenting" Calvinism.

My dear lady, you trash talk the KJV books written by the very same doofuses you link your readers to who are misrepresenting Calvinism! If a person has an unvarnished track record of publishing symphonic levels of nonsense regarding Bible translations, then how can I trust those very same people when they write against Calvinism? How can they be model nincompoops on one issue and grand, thoughtful researchers on the other? Good grief, as my grandmother would say.



Blogger Joanna Martens said...

one time I walked into a Calvary chapel store and saw the book "the dark side of Calvinism" next to a John Piper collection...who are they kidding?
...I shoulda got a picture...

10:09 PM, September 25, 2005  
Blogger centuri0n said...

The real functional apologetics going on at CRI is James White's continuing association with them. James has an article in the same issue as the "3 heretics" picture regarding bible transaltion, and it is stellar -- a refreshing antidote to KJVOnlyism and also to those who say that translation doesn't matter, or is at best a secondary matter.

Because James continues to use the truth in love with Hank even though Hank demonstrates a lot of theological tunnel vision is what aologectics is all about.

BTW, I was in Mardel's in Tulsa last weekend and I saw that issue of CRI, and I have to tell you, my eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw that picture -- and I had read James' blog on the matter a few weeks before. So it's a fair comparison in any way to have Jakes, Smith and Calvin in the same boat?

I wonder: has Hank ever read any of the Protestant creeds? How about Luther? If he claims he has, how exactly can he call Calvin a "controversial" theologian? The ideas Calvin systematized and advanced in Geneva were foundational in the Reformation -- yet today Hank finds them to be (on the wrong side of) an internal debate.

He kills me. I can't listen to him anymore. He's troubling.

5:02 AM, October 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In disarming Peter, Christ disarmed all Christians" Tertullian 2nd century AD
Larry Vance is in good company!!!

10:36 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Wow, fundamentalist paficists. who would have thought?

5:33 AM, April 09, 2009  

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