Monday, April 14, 2008
Before you set out to read any of this, know that the following post was written in April of 2008. Since then, Josh contacted me with a sincere letter of apology - one that I accept wholeheartedly. We've reconciled our differences in terms of methodology, and I believe it's beneficial to include our correspondence here before you even set out to read the rest of the post. It's a testimony of the grace of God working in the hearts of those who don't deserve it (myself included). If it wasn't for God's grace, I know I couldn't have forgiven Josh. All praises to Him. Here are the emails from 9/9/08:
I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to write and offer you a sincere apology for some of the things that happened a few months ago. To say that a lot can happen in a short time is an understatement. I've been involved in quite a bit more discussion with opposing viewpoints since then, and I began to think about the course of action that I took with you. I've tried to implement the golden rule in the situation, and I realize that I would have felt the same way you did had someone acted toward me in that manner. It was poor judgment on my part to publish our comments on my Bebo page in the manner and format that I did, ESPECIALLY without even discussing it with you first. As I prepare to enter seminary next year and become acquainted with more Christian scholars, I realize that there is a proper way to handle doctrinal disagreements, and I did not follow that propriety. Above and beyond a Wesleyan Arminian, I want to be a defender of the Christian faith. In doing so, I see very clearly that I need the partnership of those in the Reformed tradition. Though I want to continue to discuss issues of soteriology, I don't want to do so with hostility toward Christian brethren. I've known I was wrong for quite some time now, and I thought the solution was to simply move on and not make the same mistake again. However, the Spirit of God, who is continuing to sanctify me, would not let me alone until I submitted this apology to you. I hope you will receive it with the same sincerity that it's been given.
P.S. Feel free to post this in whatever forum you wish.
First, I want you to know that I do not view your letter as a sign of weakness in the least. I know unbelievers would scoff at what you've written and declare it as such, but I see it as a sign of strength; that strength that comes from the Lord. I am truly appreciative of this. I believe it takes great courage to write as you've done, and I forgive you sincerely. Thanks for taking the time to write me about this. Since I included so much great material on that post I wrote, I'm going to leave it up, but I'm going to make this an update at the very beginning letting everyone know that you've apologized and we've reconciled before they even set out to read that article. I think it provides a great example of how God works in the hearts of all of us. I pray that your time in seminary goes well and that you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
Thanks again and take care,
Here's the original post from April of 2008:
BREAKING NEWS! I figured I'd get this out so you could say you heard it here first!
Apparently I was in a debate recently in Youtube comments. Yes, you heard right... I said "Youtube comments." Well at least that's what the person I replied to in the commenting section on Youtube is claiming it was. This writer finds it humorous that the one making these claims didn't believe he got a meaningful response or a coherent answer in 500 characters or less. :)
Ligonier gave me permission to post a video by R.C. Sproul that deals with how salvation is because of God's choice and not because of our works. Since it's on Youtube, as with most of the videos I post, I allow comments. I received one from a person by the name of JoshRatliff who started off with saying,
"As the Arminians are also accused, Sproul approaches this text with the presuppositions derived from seminal truths given by Calvin. "Hate" is an idiom of preference(Lk. 14:26). "Election" has a much broader term when taken in context with the whole of Scripture(1 Tim 5:21, 1 Pet 2:6). Also, I Pet 1:2 debunks the point he was attempting to make about foreknowledge. There are other great truths that can be discussed in in Rom 9 concerning choice. Anyone can e-mail me to finish the discussion."If anyone has any idea what he's saying about the "Hate" issue, please share it with me because I'm still confused as to it all. The rest of the comment pretty much showed that he doesn't believe that God chooses people unto salvation even though Scripture says differently. (Eph. 1:4-5)
Well, I responded back to the part I actually followed in his comment and a few more comments after that then "Waalah!" - all of a sudden, he claims we were involved in a debate and claims victory for himself by such statements as "It is a little lengthy, but at least read over it, and you'll get a feel for the Calvinist's erroneous position." and "[I HAVE RECEIVED NO FURTHER RESPONSES FROM EITHER CALVINIST]" Obviously Mr. Ratliff needed to give himself an "atta-boy" for his ability to utterly confuse the opposite side. (Apparently he needed to, too, since it's been posted for 10 days and only one person has posted a response comment as opposed to his earlier post that is boasting 20.) You can read all of our comments here and his reply to them here. He starts off this endeavor by saying
"This is a recent debate that I engaged in with a Calvinist by the name of Lane Chaplin. The first comment that you'll read is my response to a video Chaplin had posted on YouTube. This video contained R.C. Sproul's teaching on Romans 9. Sproul was misusing the text in order to preach his doctrine that God predestines man giving him no choice in his salvation. Things really got interesting when Chaplin abandoned the debate altogether and allowed his friend who goes by "5xSola" to take over. From the beginning, you will see that Chaplin had no real understanding of my position. We had to spend a great deal of time at first getting past his accusations of me trying to change a part of speech in Romans 8. If you don't wish to read through all of that, simply scroll about half way down to the dividing line where "5xSola" begins responding and you'll actually see some more intelligent interaction.
It is a little lengthy, but at least read over it, and you'll get a feel for the Calvinist's erroneous position. Again, the debate is more informative toward the end. You might be unfamiliar with some of the terminology we use, but feel free to contact me and ask any questions you like. I would be more than happy to discuss it with you!"
"From the beginning, you will see that Chaplin had no real understanding of my position." Amen. I still don't. It's kind of impossible if one doesn't explain it, Mr. Ratliff. Knowledgeable readers will read the comments and see the utter obfuscation in the comments. Several people that I sent this to agreed that he wasn't exactly "being clear" in what he was putting forth.
Let me say now that I don't devote an enormous amount of time reading and giving serious thought to Youtube comments. Whether it's the professing atheist "educating" me about Mithras or the Satanist giving random assertions followed with "Hail Satan", I just haven't found Youtube commenting to be an edifying medium as a whole. Not only that but other responsibilities take time. For example, this week I'm helping James White gather material for his upcoming debate so when I come across a comment that begins ""Hate" is an idiom of preference(Lk. 14:26)" I generally reject or approve them, maybe post a response (within 500 characters, of course :) ) and move on. Occasionally I do have some sincerely want to ask a question or even disagree with me on stuff without resorting to obfuscation and presenting their discussions with amity, but those are few and far between. After being on there for a year and posting videos, I can pretty much tell the sincere comments apart from those that support the "Greggian Ambiguity" philosophy. I will say that although Mr. Ratliff wasn't clear with what he presented, he was very cordial in his private messages to me on Youtube when he informed me that Youtube wasn't allowing him to comment on the video when he tried despite everyone else who tried being able to and his ability to comment on other videos.
Eventually, after asking several friends to read the comments and try to make heads or tails of what Mr. Ratliff was saying, myself and others gave up because there's only so much obfuscation that one can take. It's true that there hasn't been much of a serious apologetic based on exegeting Scripture from those who oppose Reformed theology just as we saw in last week's debate with James White and Steve Gregg which I was really looking forward to because it was said that "Gregg was the one to beat." (endquote) To say I was disappointed is an understatement. If you have to make other people utterly confused as to what you're saying and what your position is to then go off and claim victory for yourself and say the other party didn't really approach the topic intellectually, well, that just shows how coherent your position actually is. All those who heard James White and Steve Gregg last week can attest to that. It's called "assuming your position". For example, Mr. Ratliff basically asserted things like "Also, I Pet 1:2 debunks the point he was attempting to make about foreknowledge." Oh, so that ends all debate apparently. It's random assertions and assuming your position that makes Arminianism or any non-Calvinist position fall flat when it's taken in light of all of Scripture. At least when Calvinists say "this is this" they can go to this and this chapter and verse to show you where it is, take Scripture as a whole, and exegete it from there. I've seen very often that non-Calvinists can find something in the Bible like the word "foreknoweldge" (which is a noun) and assume that it's that way throughout Scripture even though it's a verb in Romans 8:29! Even after all this, I still don't agree that ignorance is bliss, though. I was Arminian Southern Baptist and one time and miserable. It should really come as no surprise at this point to share that Mr. Ratliff is an advocate for Dave Hunt's position on Calvinism as you can see here on his website. Take his poll for example:
|In light of my recent debate and video, what is your view on salvation?|
|a) I believe that a person must choose to repent and be saved. (Anthropological Freedom)|
|b) I believe that a person must work hard to go to heaven.|
|c) I believe that God predestines certain men to be saved without any choice of their own. (Calvinism)|
The video he speaks of is Dave Hunt's. Yes, folks; Dave Hunt. Those of us who are familiar with Hunt's "work" in the field of Reformed Theology may find it ironic that Mr. Ratliff accuses people of not approaching topics intellectually yet promotes Hunt in this respect.
Again, here are the comments, here is his post, and Advil is available online here.
Editor's Note: Mr. Ratliff has informed me in the comment section that his website is a personal blog which is why he used the term "debate" even though it is public to the entire world and anyone possessing a computer with an internet connection. If all you have to do is claim a site to be personal to say whatever you want however you want, then what would stop me from doing that here or on the Youtube site regardless of the audience and regardless of the facts?
Ah, that's right... integrity.
For those of you who read the assertion about "corporate election" by Mr. Ratliff and are still a little puzzled by it, you may be interested in this presentation by James White. He refutes the point within the first 20 minutes. Mr. Ratliff has challenged me to an audio debate, but taking into account how the last one went :) and my other responsibilities, I'll pass for now; in the future, perhaps. In the meantime, you can listen to people much better qualified than myself that I have learned from who have already refuted the arguments time and time again in the past. For example, give this 20 minutes in. I'm sure you will find it edifying... unless you promote Huntegesis, that is.:
Mr. Ratliff wrote a new post called "The Calvinist" where he makes the following statements. I'll just answer them now for argument's sake:
I received an e-mail on YouTube a few moments ago, and apparently my Calvinist friends have happened across my Bebo page. They don't seem too pleased with my posting their comments. They really seem to be offended that I called it a debate. Lane Chaplin wrote in a blog on his page that he found it "humorous. "
"5 x Sola" called it the "great covert debate." I suppose they were upset because it wasn't official with a moderator and so forth."
If someone can read this post and get the idea that I was upset in an angry way, we can talk about getting help with your eisegesis in this matter, too. Just email me. I am upset in the fact that someone is trying to promulgate that it was a debate whether official or not. These are Youtube comments, folks. Let me repeat for those obfuscationally challenged... "These are Youtube comments."
They claim that I was "confusing." You can decide for yourself. Chaplin was the one who decided to stop commenting altogether after I expressly told him that I would clarify anything "confusing" about my position. Instead of doing this, you will see from his blog that he just chooses to make light of my comments saying that he has no idea what I'm not talking about. In light of this, I have challenged him to a moderated audio debate. I'll keep you posted concerning the details.Certainly you can decide for yourself. If you read that and understand what he's saying in the majority of those comments, please enlighten me. Mr. Ratliff's attempt at "clarifying his position" included such assertions as "Concerning election, I'm not refuting it, I'm seeking to let the Scriptures speak- not simply read redemption into Rom. 9:11." and "I was not refuting that God is the noun and foreknew is the verb in Rom8:29. But if you take Piper's view on foreknowledge, 1Pet1:2 would read,"Elect according to the election of God." Rom 8:29 would be equally redundant." ...Yeah. As far as the debate is concerned, I've already addressed that above. You may be able to read about my decline in a post on his site soon where he may state that he won another "debate" by default declination. Just a guess if prior actions prove to repeat themselves. He continues:
In other news, "5x Sola" has responded to more of my comments. I have too much philosophy homework to put them together in the same format as the last blog. (Plus, I'm afraid the Calvinists might find my house if I do, JK!) At any rate you can view the rest of the debate (oops, I mean comments) here:If any of my Calvinist brethren aren't having their baby-eating night tonight, perhaps you might like to respond to him here, too. As I've already stated, I gave up wading through obfuscation a long time ago, but I may still give it a shot depending on what's posted in the future, time permitting, and Lord willing. If you decide to, remember the link for Advil is still posted here for our convenience.
Mr. Ratliff saw fit to write "one last update" in which he says "I know that you all are probably as tired of this as I am, but I wanted to give one last update as to the situation with the Calvinists." Apparently he's so tired of the issue he initially brought up that he wanted to write another post. ...Yeah. Also, he claims that his comments weren't confusing because he's found people who haven't found them confusing, either. When I played basketball, didn't do well, and knew it, my Mom always told me that I did great, too. Family members and close friends don't count necessarily, Mr. Ratliff. I've had people I don't even know read your comments and tell me that you run around the situations presented and obfuscate points made, sir. I sincerely hope you aren't relying on those.
I'm not going to comment on this issue anymore after this; I'm conserving rope. :) If you read this, that's probably all that needs to be said.
One last thing to address that I meant to in the last paragraph, but didn't. Mr. Ratliff said, "The sad part in all of this is that it has served as a diversion from the main issue, and that is the Calvinist position of unconditional election. I really want people to know the truth that God's grace is a free gift that takes absolutely no work or effort to receive, and this is one avenue that I thought would be beneficial."
Here are plenty of resources for you and those who you want to know the truth to study, Mr. Ratliff.
Here are a few to stream, too:
Here's a little more info on Dave Hunt's "credibility":
In light of recent events, I find these three sermons quite appropriate.
END OF POST