Last night was outstanding. I wish that I could have been able to share on Twitter like I hoped. “The best laid plans of mice and men…” Nevertheless, the chapel at RTS was packed and we were not disappointed by either presenters. The debate lasted about two and a half hours with a Q&A session from the audience at the end.
We were able to record and video the debate and hope to have it available soon. Unfortunately we do not have the budget to process CDs and DVDs quickly so we ask you to be patient with us.
I am not going to comment much on the actual debate, I will let others that are more apt do it; however, I will point out the one thing that always hits me when dealing with the topic of Calvinism vs. Arminianism.
First, I want to say that I was encouraged by the tone of the debate. Dr. White and Dr. Blakemore both acted like Christian brothers and not like enemies. Not a surprise, but it is always encouraging to see. Second, there is a lot that Dr. White and Dr. Blakemore have in common and it outweighs what they don’t have in common when it comes to Gospel. Nevertheless, the largest divide to me did not come when dealing with their view of sin, freedom/bondage of the will of man, predestination, election, God, or any of the normal or more popular topics that usually are discussed. Although it nearly took the entire debate to get to it they finally did, and I was glad that they did. The biggest difference in this debate was the view of the atonement. Dr. White took the classic Calvinist view that the atonement that Christ made on the cross was substitutionary atonement and in that it included the penal substitution in order to satisfy the wrath of God against our sins. Although during the debate Dr. Blakemore admitted to believe in a substitutionary atonement, he later admitted that he did not include a penal substitution in that category. This is a very serious difference in the two traditions that is often overlooked. Our beliefs on the will, election, predestination, decrees of God, and His providence will hinge on our view of the Cross of Christ and what it accomplished.
If you believe that Christ actually paid the penalty for sin and took the wrath of God in place of the sinner then you probably lean toward the Calvinist viewpoint. Now you just have to deal with the subject of the atonement and be careful not to fall into the category of universalism. This is why Calvinist view the atonement as limited in scope. If you believe that God set aside your sin and made you savable, but actually did not save you then you probably lean towards the Arminian position, but you have to deal with the justness of God.
This is where I wish that we could have explored more because it is that important, but was not the central theme of the debate. I am just glad that it came out during the debate.
Next time we hope to update you on the Friday morning session.