Monday, December 04, 2006
A review of "The Potter's Freedom" by James White
If I had to choose any modern text to defend the doctrines of grace, it would be "The Potter's Freedom" by James White. Well over 6 years ago, Dr. Norman Geisler wrote a book called "Chosen but Free." At first glance, one might think that "chosen but free" might be a defense of Calvinism, hence the word "chosen." But what James White effectively demonstrates is that Dr. Geisler will have nothing to do with what he called, "extreme Calvinism." But because I haven't read Dr. Geislers book, thus rendering it unfair for me to comment on it, I will choose not to comment on James' refutations. Fortunately, "The Potter's Freedom" is more than a refutation of "Chosen but Free," but a defense of the Reformation.
Many protestants (particularly baptists) are unfamiliar with their roots. If you fit into this category, it would be of much interest for you to find out where you came from. Most people who have had any kind of History course knows enough about the Reformation to know that the Catholic Church split as a result of Martin Luther. But little do they know what started all the controversy. Was it over the sacraments? Indulgences? The Mass? Purgatory? No. It was a debate between Luther and Erasemus over the depravity of man. In fact, Luther wrote a book called "The bondage of the will" which is still in print today. In it, Luther discusses the fact that man is enslaved to sin and incapable of generating saving faith within himself. Therefore, something needs to happen that is out of man's control!
This is where God comes into the picture. God saves us because we are incapable of saving ourselves! It is more than mere cooperation between God and man; God alone saves. This is one of the major themes in Dr. White's book. Dr. Geisler presents a man-centered gospel while James White proclaims a God-centered one. Dr. Geisler believes that God didn't actually come to save, but to make salvation only a possibility. Is this what the Bible teaches? Or is God a powerful savior who saves perfectly without fail?
The introduction of the book is primarily devoted to the question, "Why write such a book?" Obviously, Dr. Geisler is highly respected among Christian apologists and scholars, so James White seeks to explain why he wrote this book. One of the foremost reasons is because James White loves the truth. Because Dr. Geisler is on such a high ranking among scholars, he should be held only to the highest standards of scholarship. Unfortunately, Dr. Geisler has failed to represent Calvinism correctly in most of his arguments. Therefore, James White felt the need to respond to "chosen but free." And i'm thankful he did, because the result was an outstanding work of biblical scholarship! But even if you haven't read Dr. Geisler's book, I would still recommend "The Potter's Freedom," as it is a defense of the Reformation and the Doctrines of Grace. In fact, I know of no single book which addresses the subject of Calvinism in such a scholarly, in-depth way than "The Potter's Freedom" does.
***This is the same review that appears on my Amazon.com book review Site