Saturday, March 04, 2006

James White's Eisegesis of Matthew 23:37 (part 1 of 3)

James White’s interpretation of Matthew 23:37 is a masterpiece of eisegesis. Notice I said eisegesis, and not exegesis. What’s the difference? Wikipedia explains that "the word exegesis means ‘to draw the meaning out of’ a given text. Exegesis may be contrasted with eisegesis, which means to read one's own interpretation into a given text."

Matthew 23:37 declares with a clarion call the heartfelt desire of Jesus to save the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem, however, were not willing to come to Jesus. This verse annihilates the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace and unconditional election.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (NASB)

The verse is so simple even a child could understand it. Calvinists, however, are befuddled by it. In an attempt to squeeze it into his Calvinistic theology, James White on pages 136-139 of The Potter’s Freedom borrows from John Gill’s tired old argument. Online you can read Gill’s exposition of this passage which runs over fifteen hundred words or you can buy James White’s book and get a three page makeover. It’s all the same. All the arguments of modern Calvinists are the same, if you’ve heard them once you’ve heard them a hundred times.

Gill and White argue that "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" refers not to all of Jerusalem but only to the Jewish leaders. The children were not unwilling, only the leaders of Jerusalem were unwilling. Jesus is condemning the Jewish leaders and is not speaking to all of Jerusalem.

Their reasoning? White give four points. We will examine the first point today and look at the others at a later date.

White’s reason #1: "It is to the leaders that God sent prophets."

When I read this I almost fell out of my chair laughing! White says that God sent the prophets to the leaders, and not the people? The Bible says otherwise.

Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman. Ezekiel 33:2

Ezekiel was sent to all the people, not merely the leaders. The same was true of Jeremiah.

Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD'S house and said to all the people. Jeremiah 19:14

In Daniel’s prayer, he stated why God sent Judah into Babylonian captivity.

Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. Daniel 9:6

White should put away John Gill and read the Old Testament. He might learn something.

James White: Color him Old Testament handicapped.


At Saturday, March 04, 2006 6:42:00 PM, Blogger David B. Hewitt said...

Hey Charles --

Not having had the privilege of reading Dr. White's book, could you provide us with more of the context of what he was saying in that first point?

As you know, taking things out of context will likely destroy the intended meaning.


At Saturday, March 04, 2006 8:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Excellent post! I'm debating a young man named Nathan White via the internet on this same topic of irresistable grace, total depravity and Ephesians 1. By the way I like your point about James White being 'Old Testament handicapped'. That's the problem with Calvinists -- they don't seem to meditate on the entire Book of Scripture. They get stuck in the rut of their circular logic (John 6, Ephesians 1, Romans 8-9, etc.)

You would think irresistable grace, if it were true, would span both testaments. I can't get a straight answer out of any of them -- is Calvinism a NT theology or does it apply to both OT and NT?

If it applies to both testaments then the Calvinist has a real problem in Genesis with Cain. We clearly see God seeking out a lost man. They call Cain totally depraved which is not a Bible term -- do you think they know that? Doesn't seem to stop them from using it...

God challenged Cain to 'doest well' but we know Cain refused to repent and obey God. So, if God called Cain and He did, and Cain refused to repent and obey and then believe the gospel of Genesis 3:15; I think it couldn't be any clearer that Cain blows up the whole irresistable grace thing in the beginning of the Bible. And, why would God even bother to call Cain to doest well if Cain was totally depraved and unable to respond to the things of God? Now that doesn't make any sense either...

But there you have it! God loved Cain as much as He loved Abel and He went after Cain because of His love for him.

Keep up the good fight Charles!

In Him,


At Saturday, March 04, 2006 10:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog! Can't wait for parts 2 and 3! James White is a bully. Glad to see you taking him on.

At Sunday, March 05, 2006 9:12:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Hello, David!

There are two more installments in the series. I suggest for now you read Gill's eisegesis from which White gets his argument.

Hello, Eye!

Excellent work. Keep posting!

Hello, Werner!


Hello, Scripture Searcher!

Love your name! Will examine John 6 at some future date. Thanks for the request!

Hello, Scott!

Since I'm not an Arminian I can't really respond to you. I also didn't know the SBC had Arminian churches. You Calvinists are so wise. I learn so much from you guys.

My buddy was really involved at one of the most respected arminian megachurches. We both served at these churches before God showed us the truth on these doctrines.

You mean since Satan filled your heart with error and malice? You guys are so bitter. Don't let the root of bitterness destroy your ministry.

If you're all about running down SBC churches then I have just a word for you:

The Lord rebuke thee. (Jude 1:9).


At Monday, March 06, 2006 1:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott, you are so prideful. Repent! Do you see the damage you are causing?

At Monday, March 06, 2006 2:43:00 AM, Blogger Tony Byrne said...

Calvinists are not uniform in their interpretation of Matthew 23:37. I also addressed White's view on the verse here:

Matthew 23:37 Calvinistically Considered

John Murray (I link to his article on my blog) and others do not interpret it as White does. White usually takes a decretal reading of things, being very high in his Calvinism.

However, to be fair and honest, one should not speak as if White's interpretation is "THE Calvinist" view. It's not. Calvinism is not monolithic, and the "Calvinism" that is pervasive today is really the high Calvinism of Owen and the post-Reformational Protestant scholastics. The relatively recent flood of puritan reprints has caused this resurgence. Any other so called "Calvinism" that is not identical to the scholastic view is completely foreign to the modern reader.

Anyway, beware of broadbrushing Calvinism. It's not monolithic. One can historically distinguish between moderate, high and hyper Calvinism. In your swatting, beware of blending them together as if there is no difference :-)

At Monday, March 06, 2006 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Scott

If your confidence is in scripture why not use some? I disagree with it but only YnottonY has given a substantive response to Charles' EXEGESIS. You have provided nothing.

Charles, thank you for your blog! Calvinists are a tiny minority in the SBC but a majority on the blogs. We need more bloggers like you!

IMB - South America

At Tuesday, March 07, 2006 2:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charles, excellent post! Don't let the naysayers get you down! Funny how you use scripture and they don't.

John the missionary

At Tuesday, March 07, 2006 8:18:00 AM, Blogger Gordon said...

Charles, it is great to find your blog. Great argument here. It's good to see more non-Calvinistic Baptist blogs developing.

At Tuesday, March 07, 2006 3:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Congratulations! Looks like a direct hit...

From James White's website:

Charles the Brave on the DL
Literally in the fifteen minutes or so before the DL began today I was given the URL to an attempt on the part of anonymous anti-Calvinist blogger "Charles" (who has been spamming Reformed blogs for a few weeks now) to interact with my comments in The Potter's Freedom on Matthew 23:37. So, I took the first half hour reviewing the text and Charles' comments.

I like that, Charles the Brave -- has a bit of a Medieval ring to it.

Keep up the great work!

In Him,


At Tuesday, March 07, 2006 7:07:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Charles, excellent post! Don't let the naysayers get you down! Funny how you use scripture and they don't.

Someone clearly hasn't listened to White's response.

Read this post and then listen to White's response. Then ask yourself, Who goes through the context of the passage (beginning at Matthew 23:13 and concluding at Matthew 23:37)? Ask, Who looks at the individual words?

Who addresses the key issues and stays on the topic of Matthew 23:37?

Who is the one who jumps to irrelevant passages to refute what the other person was not claiming?

If you think that Charles has then you could encourage him to call in James White on Tuesday. White has publically offered Charles the entire hour on the Tuesday broadcast to declare for the world White's eisegesis. Will Charles take up the opportunity to have a legitimate discussion or Will he remain hidden behind a keyboard and anonymous name?

I have my suspicion but I would be glad to be proven wrong.

In Christ alone,

At Tuesday, March 07, 2006 9:39:00 PM, Blogger David B. Hewitt said...

Hey Eye, Charles:

I know, I said I probably wouldn't be back -- well, I guess I am, at least for this one comment.

Dr. White did indeed address this blog on the Dividing Line, but I have to ask, Eye -- did you listen to it? James White discussed the context of Matthew 23:37 and explained his comments about the prophets being sent to the leaders. He never denied that prophets in the Old Testament were sent to everyone in Israel. However, Jesus was not talking about those prophets in the context of Matthew 23 in relation to his hearers. Yes, Jesus mentions former prophets two verses earlier, but it is in relation to his CURRENT AUDIENCE. Listen to the Dividing Line; you will find the whole context of Dr. White's arguments for Matthew 23:37.

It's my understanding that this blog is interested in truth. Well, the link to that particular program of the DL is available at on the main page. You might be surprised at what you find.

David Hewitt

At Tuesday, March 07, 2006 11:06:00 PM, Blogger Matt Gumm said...

Charles, congratulations on your annihilation of irresistable grace & unconditional election! With just over 500 words, you've managed to undo at least 400 years of wilderness wandering led by those dirty, rotten Calvinists!

I am curious, though, how do you read John 6:35 and following, where it seems to state unambiguously that it is the Father's will to give to the Son certain people (v. 37), and that no one will come without the Father drawing them (v. 44)?

Perhaps I'm simpler than a child, because I don't really understand why Jerusalem's unwillingness to come to Jesus would do anything but prove that they are sinful, and reject the very one who came into their midst.


At Wednesday, March 08, 2006 10:20:00 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

I was listening in to the Dividing Line, I guess you weren't available to call it.

At Wednesday, March 08, 2006 5:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Will you be calling "The Dividing Line" next Tuesday the 13th to speak with James? I would love to listen to some one on one dialogue regarding this passage.


At Thursday, March 09, 2006 9:50:00 PM, Blogger Correy said...

Looks like Mr Charles is in way over his head.

Got to love when he says stuff like.

"this verse annihilates the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace and unconditional election."

Wow Charles you really did prove every calvinist wrong with this verse. James White must be fleeing for cover.


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