Question [representative of several]: In the newest edition of What Love is This? you make a very interesting claim on page 264: “The Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a translation. Some scholars claim that going back to a ‘redacted Hebrew’ version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts:13:48 more like ‘as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved.’” I’d like to know where the Dead Sea Scrolls refer to the Book of Acts, and which early church writers and conservative Christian scholars were of the opinion you express.
Answer: I offer no footnotes for this brief paragraph because the source or sources are not important. The phrases, “were probably written” and “some scholars claim,” show that I am not presenting my own opinion gathered from personal research. I am only stating (as something of possible interest for anyone who may wish to pursue it further) that certain people believe this idea. My argument, however, is in no way dependent upon such opinions.
Yet James White treats this paragraph as of major importance and has even attempted to recruit critics to confront me about this in my meetings. Certainly, any basis for the idea that the first 15 chapters of Acts were originally written in Hebrew is tenuous at best—but that doesn’t matter. The fact that some people (including some scholars) believe this to be the case is all that I stated, but it is clearly not relevant to my arguments. It was not wise to include this brief speculative statement and it will be deleted from the next printing.
The three pages I devote to Acts:13:48 offer many solid reasons for rejecting this verse as evidence that certain persons are predestined to salvation and the rest of mankind is predestined to eternal torment. A multitude of scriptures refute this Calvinist theory. None of the many reasons I put forth for my understanding of this passage rests in even the remotest sense upon the opinion of certain persons that the first 15 chapters of Acts may have been originally written in Hebrew.
Thus it is rather sad that James White has spent so much time refuting a casual statement upon which I place no essential importance, while avoiding the major scriptures and arguments I set forth. This is a continuation of the same modus operandi to which I called attention in my closing argument in our co-authored book, Debating Calvinism:
White relies on a few passages whose interpretation is arguable. His strongest case that God predestined only an elect to salvation comes from Acts:13:48 and 2 Thessalonians:2:13. Yet his interpretation does not fit God’s character as so clearly established throughout all of Scripture.
Hundreds of scriptures (I have cited scores of them) declare in the clearest terms that God loves and desires the salvation of all. Some of these White explains away by interpreting “world” as “elect,” and “all men” as “all classes of men.” “Whosoever” suffers a similar fate – along with God’s love. But dozens of scriptures to which I called his attention won’t allow such mishandling, so he didn’t respond to them in this debate—nor did he refer to them in The Potter’s Freedom.
White claims to go by all of Scripture, but he repeatedly cites the same few texts….Pointing to God’s sovereignty as justification for His predestination of multitudes to damnation whom He could save, White refuses to consider the hundreds of scriptures in which God pleads with Israel and all mankind to repent and turn to Him.
How can God be sincere in pleading with and offering salvation to those whom He has from eternity predestined to eternal torment? Spurgeon, whom I am accused of misunderstanding and misquoting, said, “Now, was God sincere...? [U]ndoubtedly....He sent his prophets, he entreated the people of Israel to lay hold on spiritual things, but they would not....”
White selectively offers Paul’s quotation of Psalm 14 in Romans 3, that none seek after God, as proof of man’s inability to seek God. Yet he sidesteps scores of exhortations for men to seek God, assurances that if they sincerely seek they will find Him, and the many examples of those who have sought and found.
White has no rebuttal for Christ’s exhortation to “strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Lk 13:24), for the prodigal’s repentant “I will arise and go to my father” (Lk 15:18), for good ground being an “honest and good heart” (Lk 8:15), for faith being attributed to individuals (Mt 9:22; 15:28; Mk 10:52; Lk 7:50; 17:18, etc.), etc.
Non-Calvinists can assure all men, “God loves you, Christ died for your sins.” We know that all are saved eternally who believe His promise to “whosoever will”!
Years ago, White accused me of maligning Calvin by reporting his unChristian conduct in Geneva and said he would refute such “calumnies.” I’m still waiting, as I am for any Calvinist to explain how God could be said to love those whom He could have saved but for whom the Father didn’t even send the Son to die.