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Some Encouraging Notes

Dr. White:
   After reading that May 11th was the day to pray for your “conversion” to the Roman Catholic church I couldn’t contain myself any longer. As a former Catholic who by the grace of God was exposed to a bible believing church in 1987, that at the time was presenting a series on the book of Galatians. As I listened to the expository teaching the Holy Spirit opened my heart and mind to the reality that the law wasn’t going to save me but faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ would. From that point on I began a journey of seeking and learning more of what it truly means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. After reading that you were going to be prayed for I visited the Catholic Answers Forum. The comments there are unbelievable. It’s amazing to me how defensive and vitriolic they are. I guess that’s our culture today. When we can’t debate ideas we attack the person. Your books and ministry have and continue to be a blessing to me.
Sincerely, GR.

Hi James.
   I was born and bred Italian and Catholic until God opened my eyes by His irresistible grace (twice, the second “work of grace” was understanding sovereignty of the perfect Saviour). You had better keep doing what you do until your last breath – loving Catholics by telling them the truth. Most people in western evangelical churches come from this background. Its a mighty harvest – the new synagogues. Your clip on patristic consensus was the best I’ve seen you do – worthy of a great reformer, sort of took me back in my imagination.

Dr. White:
   This letter is offered as a note of encouragement. As an elder in a mutating Baptist church (from the pablum of standard SBC fair to the beauty of Sovereign Grace) I appreciate the work you’ve done to be a finely honed chisel in the hand of the Spirit and your consistent, gentlemanly engagement of error. Here in South Texas we often encounter those who grew up in the Roman church and are “seeking’ Truth and the ability to engage the mind with a well thought out “reason for the hope” helps to firmly ground the new brother or sister. To that end the distortion of the Eucharist in the 9th through 13th centuries (to what is practiced today) is a good point to diffuse the authority of Rome. If the work on the cross was a finished work (and we have it from His lips that it was), then to say that a “Propitiatory Eucharist” is offered at the Mass constitues calling Jesus a liar. If you are calling his a liar then you are doing exactly the same thing the Pharasees were dong relative to John 8.24 and the consequences will be the same. Thank you for pointing out that the distortion of the eucharist constitutes a fundamental negation of the work and sacrifice of the Lord.

   Remember to pray that God will be pleased to draw His people to Himself with great power, revealing a perfect Savior and a perfect Gospel to those trapped in the Roman Catholic system. Pray that God will use you to proclaim the gospel of grace to a Roman Catholic!

Some E-Mails Speak for Themselves

I have no questions, only a couple of comments. Dave Hunt’s book, “What Love is This?”, is excellent, clear, and for the most part fairly concise. I fail to understand why you spent so much time in you lengthy “Open Letter to Dave Hunt”, when he is so clearly correct. The entire issue of Unconditional Election encompasses, promotes, and fosters intellectual eletisim and the self-centered assumption of God’s favored status at the expense the “unelected”. In short, it represents the smug satisfaction of “knowing” you are of the “Chosen Few”. Further, it is a gross and heretical twisting of Scripture – a pseudoscience without logic other than its own self-definitions and reminds me of astrology in that aspect: That is why it is so full of contradictions and “mystery”. Yikes! Calvin, Augistine and the early Roman Catholic Church are right up there with the worst tyrants history has to offer. Your “Open letter…” only makes this more clear. I pity you and pray for you. Ray Wiberg

   Number of factual, historical, or exegetical issues responded to by Mr. Wiberg: 0. Number of factual, historical, or exegetical issues responded to by Mr. Hunt: same.

On How Theology Determines Apologetics

I would like to request James White to use his knowledge to tame Islam – rather than wasting time on other christians like William Lane Craig, who frankly is doing a very good job. Let us focus on the MAIN doctrines like Divinity of Christ, his life and message, which we all accept cutting across different apologetic styles, cutting across denominations etc. So, instead of wasting time on minor issues of differences, it will be better to spend time on those who do not accept Christ at all. Today’s challenge is Islam. I am from a place where I am seeing on TV, islamic channels that are talking more on christianity than Islam – they are using completely incorrect understanding of christian doctrines, attacking them and airing them on TV to audiene who do not know anything. If Islam is tamed at the level of best Islamic debaters, the well defined arguments can then be used by ordinary people in their conversations with muslims.

   I appreciate your desire to see Islam refuted. I share your passion, and am regularly involved in study of Islamic belief and apologetics. I am spending the majority of my study time on Islam and its apologists.
   But I cannot allow my desire to see Islam refuted to over-shadow the truth to which I seek to direct Muslims themselves. You have given very clear expression to one of the greatest dangers in apologetics: pragmatism. “We need to respond to Islam! So, let’s not worry about the specifics of the faith to which we hope to direct them!” May I suggest that our desire to see Muslims come to know Christ should only heighten our concern for accuracy in our proclamation of biblical truth? Vanilla Christianity is not what Muslims need to hear. Biblical, thorough, accurate, consistent Christianity is the only antidote to Islam.
   W.L. Craig’s theology is sub-biblical. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. His Molinism is more of a symptom of a wider theological weakness, one that, I believe, illustrates what happens when philosophy becomes the guiding force in theology. As a result there is a tremendous difference between the apologetic he represents and that which would flow from a consistent theological position. Apologetic methodology must of necessity flow from our theology. What we believe about God, His self-glorifying purpose in Creation, His nature, His power, His will, and His creatures, will determine how we defend His truth. A theocentric theology will result in a theocentric apologetic; an anthropocentric theology always results in an man-centered apologetic.
   Let me give you an example. It is common for WLC and those trained in his system to argue that the “preponderance of the evidence” points to the “greater probability” of the truthfulness of Christianity. Is this kind of argument consistent with the Apostolic proclamation? Did the Apostles claim that “there is very good reason to believe Jesus rose from the dead!”? Or did they proclaim it as a certainty, the very foundation of God’s judgment itself (Acts 17:31). Did they say there is more evidence Yahweh exists than there is that He doesn’t, or did they identify as foolish any argument raised against the existence of the Creator by the created? I believe a consistent biblical theology will result in the proclamation that outside of the Creator, who has revealed Himself perfectly in Jesus Christ, there is no grounds for human predication at all, and that Christianity is not merely the “best of a number of possibilities,” but it is the only possibility. What is more, the WLC system places the sinner, man, in the position of “neutral judge” of these “probabilities,” and again, this is something the Apostles did not do. Man is not a neutral judge of the existence of God: he is a rebel creature busily suppressing the knowledge of God. What you believe about these things will tremendously impact your apologetic methodology as a whole, and your response to Islam in particular.
   So while I encourage you to continue working toward the proclamation of God’s truth to the Muslim people, I would suggest you consider well just what it is you are saying to them, and how you are doing it. Are you trying to tell the Muslims there is a “better chance” Christianity is true than there is that Islam is true, or are you proclaiming a clear, consistent, compelling, and certainly true revelation in Christ and in His Word that means beyond all doubt that Islam is false? I hope you can see the difference, and why apologetic replies to Islam are not helped by fuzzy theology on the part of Christian apologists.

An Inquiry

Dear Mr White I am a young pastor. I was raised by a Calvinist father until he fell away from the faith. As a late teen I turned to Christ after years of hedonistic living and repented of my sins and sin wile trusting in Christ. I have continued to this day for 12 years and have seen God move in my life, answer when I call and discipline me as well. I also abhor myself in regards to my complete wickedness apart from God’s mercy now more than ever. However, I do not currently hold to Reformed Theology. My concern is this. As I continue to study and read material I find no end to this subject. Logically from all the argumentation that I read on this site and elsewhere, it seems to follow that anyone who does not believe in Reformed theology is not truly saved. Is this truly what you believe?

Dear Pastor KC:
I would honestly like to ask you where you derived, from anything on, this idea? Where have I even once said “the non-Calvinist is not saved?” I know where I have in fact attacked perfectionists and hyper-Calvinists (such as here), but I would be very interested in seeing which articles you think promote such an idea.
I suppose it is possible that you believe that since I have firmly stated that non-Reformed views, no matter what their character and history, are sub-biblical, and hence tend toward diminishing God’s glory and exalting man, and likewise introduce inconsistency into one’s theology and therefore one’s apologetics, that this means I think anyone holding such views is not a Christian, but such would surely be a major error of reading and thought. You can believe someone sub-biblical and inconsistent and not banish them from the kingdom because, obviously, unless we are going to claim perfection in our theology, each of us is functionally sub-biblical in this lifetime.

Could I be lost after years of a changed life and seeing more of Jesus and falling in love with Him while He works in my life all because I do not know Greek and can’t come to a perfect exegetical understanding of several key passages. Do I have to trust someone like yourself as my “high priest of Greek.”

Of course you could be lost, since I do not have the slightest idea who you are, and in this life we do not yet see as we shall see someday. But such is hardly the point. I must admit, it is hard not to see some intended offense in the phrase “high priest of Greek.” Do you not wish to be fully equipped to respect God’s Word by handling it aright? It almost sounds like you are indicating there is something wrong with investing your life in becoming equipped to study the Scriptures and to do in-depth exegesis. But what is more, if you are as in love with Jesus as you say, and I am not questioning that you are, the logical outcome of that love would include a deep and abiding respect for His Word, and a desire to know Him better. It would seem that loving Jesus is not antithetical to exegesis, but instead, it provides the ground for making the sacrifices necessary to be able to handle the Word aright so as to show it the respect due to Christ. Don’t you think?
You say you haven’t come to a perfect exegetical knowledge of certain passages. What does that mean? If it means “I still do not understand key texts but am open to continued study” that’s one thing. If by that you mean “I can’t refute what you say about John 6:37 but I will keep looking for a way around such texts,” that’s a completely different matter.

Doesn’t that take away one of the goals of the Reformation in the first place which as to put the scriptures in the hands of every man.

Not at all. None of the Reformers dismissed the need for in-depth study of the Word of God. But they likewise recognized that the pastor, the bishop, the leader of God’s people, needs a large “tool box” than the layman at the plow. It takes scholars to provide accurate translations in the language of the people, for example. And when traditions of men hide behind falsehoods (“All means all and that all all means!”) reference to the original languages is often quite useful. When Hebrews tells us Jesus Christ died “once for all,” in English that could be taken temporally (once for all time) or in an expansive sense, once for all men (individually or generically). But their is no ambiguity in the original (it is temporal).

I am sincerely asking as a fellow believer because of the confusion that this argument has created in my own mind and heart, and those around me, for years. Is it possible at all that this can fall into the category of “seeing through a glass dimly”, (1 Cor. 13), and “things to profound for me” (psalm 131). I hope so, because I truly believe the Lord has rescued and redeemed me, but can’t seem to even make myself believe what you believe in regards to Reformed thelogy. If you have a pastor’s heart as well as a theologian’s please respond…. IN Christ KC

Well, KC, I confess, I am less than fully confident that you truly understand the issues here, especially in light of how you started. I would recommend to your reading one of the finest books on the topic, the one that turned me from a reluctant Calvinist into a passionate one, RC Sproul’s, Chosen by God. Sproul’s conversational style would surely not cause you to refer to him as a “high priest of Greek” (though his passion for Latin might conjure up a few other terms). It, along with The Holiness of God, provides a wonderfully balanced introduction to this vitally important topic. We make the book available through our book ministry now, here. I have a somewhat similar work, also in our book ministry, titled God’s Sovereign Grace.
This work is likewise fairly conversational, and is meant to provide a biblical and theological introduction to the doctrines of grace, but with a little extra element of apologetic response included.
Now, Norman Geisler decided to respond to Sproul’s work without directly indicating he was doing so in his book, Chosen But Free. CBF is a tremendous example of how tradition can blind the brightest of minds to basic biblical truths, leading to basic, fundamental errors. I replied to CBF with The Potter’s Freedom. If you find give and take, argument and counter-argument, useful in illustrating truth, then TPF would be for you. If you do not, you might wish to stick with Chosen by God. In any case, I hope these few thoughts are useful to you.

Matthew, the New Aquinas

Dear James, I get a kick out of you greatest hits videos on your website. They are good examples of decent debating and very poor debating skills. Unfortunatley God doesn’t judge us on our debating skills, he judges us on whether or not we have acepted the Grace thast He has offered us. I just wish for once you would debate someone who knew what the heck they were talking about. Anyone who knows the Catholic faith would have defeated your arguments very easily. Secondly just because someone has 2 PHDs, like Stravinskas, doesn’t mean that they know what they are talking about, or that they can debate their way out of a classroom of intellectually challenged school-children. I find it quite absurd that you put these videos on your site trying to glorify yourself, when you pick such pinheads like Stravinskas to debate. He wouldn’t know the side of a barn door if it hit him in the head. The answer for almsgiving covering a multitude of sins is only worthy if it is united to Jesus Christ. Catholicism is not a pay as you go Christianity. It is a unite yourself to the will of God and sacrifice your will for His, Christianity. One which you have no clue of. I know that I don’t have 2 PHDs James, but I could defend the Catholic faith much better than the clowns you put on your videos. Yours in Christ, Matthew.

   The next time I see Fr. Stravinskas, Fr. Pacwa, Gerry Matatics, etc., I will let them know you think they are clowns. Thanks for writing.