Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
05/30/2006 - James WhiteGreetings from Long Beach Airport. On my way home after spending yesterday with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and the entire crew at The Way of the Master here in Southern California. I talked, quite honestly, non-stop, from yesterday morning at 7:30am till yesterday afternoon at 4:30pm. We shot a great deal of footage (high def!) on Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, and Islam. I had a wonderful time with all the guys, and really enjoyed getting to meet Ray and Kirk, both of whom proved to be genuine, passionate brothers with a real love for the Lord. They were greatly encouraging, and I look forward to coming back here next month to shoot more footage relating to apologetics and evangelism.
I'm shooting for a 2pm DL tomorrow, yes, on Wednesday. I have not checked with the Powers That Be on that yet, but I will once my flight gets in.
Also, I think some of our readers would find the Bible Study lesson Sunday morning at PRBC to be useful/helpful. The section in the synoptic study brought us to the subject of Christ's rejoicing in the context of judgment. Here is the study (streaming/download).
05/27/2006 - James WhiteMight get a little slow around here for the next two weeks. I will be gone a good bit more than I'm here, with questionable internet access. But I'll do my best. We will shoot for a Wednesday afternoon DL next week, though it would be best to go for an earlier time, like 6pm EDT instead of 7pm.
Oh, no new developments in the Caner debate: we can't even get the proposed moderator to respond to e-mails. Unless he is doing missions work in Zambia or something, this is just completely unacceptable. It is one thing to not have time for unsolicited e-mails. I have that problem all the time. Folks are constantly sending me this or that paper asking me to review it, comment on it, etc., and I simply can't do it. But we are talking about formal arrangements for a rather large public event here. And it has been two full weeks since I began asking direct questions, and so far, I haven't even been given the courtesy of a single response, even a short one saying, "I'll get to you, sorry!" The saga remains utterly amazing.
Ironically, arranging the Spong debate was a breeze in comparison. Shabir Ally and I are discussing arranging for the UK debates next year. Amazing what can happen when both sides are even semi intent on actually making the thing happen.
Finally, for those feeling ecumenical, here is a cure. A post by Art Sippo from yesterday. Let it bathe you in its light and love and joy:
Catholicism represents the historic Christianity against which prots are protesting. Our claims to authenticity are unsurpassed and the prot cults enviy [sic] us for them.
Last year I crticized [sic] Mr. White's trashy book Mary-Another Redeemer? because he asserted the exact opposite of what we Catholics teach in the doctrine of the Co-Redemptrix. He did his usual superfical [sic] job of misrepresentation which I demolished i8n [sic] a paragraph or two. Mr. White (aka Pseudopodeo) reacted violently to my criticism, but he did not deny or refute what I said. He couldn't, because I was right and he knew it.
There has been a cottage industry of anti-Catholicism among those of the Calvioid [?] tradition form [sic] the very beginning of the Deformation. It has been necessary because they feel threatened by Catholicism. And IMHO, Calvin himslef [sic] was a man of dubious morals and motives who was a murderous religious megalomaniac. There is something of the demonic about him. It also seems to me that the same is true of those who follow him. To me every year Pseudopodeo looks more and more like Anton LaVey (the founder of the Church of Satan). It is frightening.
Kudos and a Recommendation
05/26/2006 - James WhiteWhen I find a product, or a business that provides a service, that is particularly useful, I like to share that with my readers, since many of us share common interests. So, when I find a particular tech gadget highly useful (like my uber-secret debate weapon known as the HP TC1100 tablet pc), I mention it here (or others sneak snapshots of it during debates).
Now, while I love techie stuff, I likewise like leather...leather Bible covers, for example, or leather covers for my gadgets. Years ago Levenger.com used to tempt me sorely, for example.
Well, when I went over to LA for the Biola debate I made a stupid mistake. I left a metal clip attached to the inside of my book bag, and it just so happened to end up right up against the nice Levenger book cover I had on my favorite copy of the Qur'an. Just about tore a hole right through the leather, the bag was so badly beaten up by the baggage handlers. So I look at the Levenger site and they no longer offer the book cover. So I Google "leather book cover" and fairly high up I find this site. I am impressed by the visuals and the prices, too, so, concerned that my Greek/Hebrew diglot may suffer the ravages of air travel, I order a cover for it. In no time at all it arrives, and fits like a glove (the black leather cover in the picture). I am quite impressed. So a thought crosses my mind. I've been tremendously disappointed with the two covers I have for my tablet pc. So, I contact the same folks and ask about "tweaking" my order. We have to go back and forth a bit to get the details right, but today the brown leather cover shown on the tablet pc arrives and, of course, it fits like a glove. So, while I don't get paid to mention it, I figure these folks are good at what they do, they ship fast, and their prices are quite reasonable. So if you are looking for a very nice Bible cover for that favorite Bible of yours (no Scofield or Ryrie versions, please!), or you have likewise discovered the joys of the tablet pc, you might try these folks out. They've produced some great stuff for me.
Today on the Dividing Line
05/25/2006 - James WhiteWell, we started with a call, then the phone went dead for about twenty minutes, then the calls started to come back in. Here's the program.
Also, please note, we will probably only have a single DL next week, probably on Wednesday, and none the week following. Sorry, traveling!
05/25/2006 - James WhiteThe DL will be live this afternoon at 4pm. I might even have something other than a plastic table to sit at today! I have been listening to the sounds of hammers, drills, saws, all day...and the wood for my bookshelves is supposed to arrive next week! The trees finally grew up, I guess. Not sure what I will do with a functional library again! Guess I'll have to finish writing that book...what is it called again? Oh, yes, Pulpit Crimes! Yes indeed.
Speaking of library resources and the like, I rarely make mention of these things, but a small number of folks have let me know that they would like to know when a particular need arises, a special need, a special project, to which they may wish to contribute. I have a set of reference works I would very much like to have available to me as I follow the Lord's leading in my studies and future work. Given their nature, they are tremendously expensive, all of them together adding up to just over a thousand dollars. With all the continued expenses of construction, I felt it best to let folks know about this and let the Lord take care of the need through His people, in His time.
Tim Guthrie of Winning Truth Ministries Writes to Me
05/24/2006 - James WhiteThe following came through our website:
I just completed reading your email exchange with the Caners. I am floored by your lack of understanding of the proposed Thesis. Could it be that you are so caught up in your own intellectualism that you miss the simplicity of the Thesis. I had my 13 yr old look at it and he got it right without any coaching or assistance. You guys can only hope that your ingnorance does not get out to the general community. I know why the Caners did not answer your question about their view of your salvation - it was a trap thrown down, waiting to attack them - which you did even with a NO ANSWER. You guys are unbelievable. What is really sad, is that I was enjoying your material until I read your email exchange and saw the purposeful attempts by you and Tom to change the subject, trap the Caners, and claim your superior intellectual gifts and appraoches. You guys are George Pattons - only you are on the losing side of this one on all fronts! P.S. Why would God create anyone destined for or pre-chosen for hell. Would that not be a violation of the biblical principle of making the most of your time and doing all to the Glory of God? Get a grip guys - this stuff is crazy!!!!!!!!!
Greetings, Tim. Thanks for taking the time to read the correspondence. Most folks came away from it with a very, very different take than you did. I find that somewhat interesting.
Since your thirteen year old can understand the proposed thesis statement, could you please have him/her, or yourself, if he/she is too busy now that school is out, answer all the questions I have asked about it so that I can join him/her in understanding it? I would especially be interested in the grammatical and syntactical issues I raised, and even more so, just how he/she is able to determine that a unitarian universalist would not be able to defend this thesis while the Caners can. I look forward to his/her explanation.
I'm afraid our "ingnorance" is already out there for all to see, Tim! I mean, I posted the correspondence myself. But as I noted above, you are in a small minority who has read the material the way you did.
I must congratulate you on seeing through our Calvinist trap! Tom and I worked into the wee small hours of the morning on that one, carefully crafting it. You can't imagine how hard it is to come up with these things. I mean, think about it: I have to somehow craftily guide the Caners into never calling me "brother," never referring to me in any fashion at all that would lead one to believe I am a Christian. Then, I have to repeatedly refer to them as fellow Christians. Then I have to get them to not only treat me like an unbeliever, but then I have to somehow dazzle them so that when I ask a simple question of them, they go silent for three weeks (that was the tough part of the plot). Yes indeed, but you have seen through all that hard work! I guess anyone who can figure out that thesis is way ahead in seeing through all of our best planned traps!
Yes, I live my life looking for opportunities to attack the Caners, Tim. I don't know what I did with my life those first few decades, but then, one day, it hit me! True fulfillment will be found in attacking the Caner brothers! And I've been at it ever since. Well, till now. You've seen through me, and I'm sure you will let them know, so...!
Now, what is more, you've managed to discover our "change the subject" ruse, which has been so completely effective until now. I mean, most folks, when they read the correspondence, find the Caners raising all sorts of issues, but when refuted or shown their logical errors, ignoring the replies or changing the subject. But not you! No, you have seen through those repeated efforts to get the Caners to respond to meaningful questions! There is no fooling you. That kind of thing is a trap! Yes indeed.
Now, your last question---is that a trap? I mean, it looks like an innocent question, but, as we have now learned, questions can often be traps! What makes it look like a trap to me is...well, the fact that it shows you have never listened to anything I've ever said on this subject, read any of my relevant books, etc. How many times have I said election is always unto life, not unto death? How many times have I pointed out that God has to exercise grace to elect someone unto salvation, but He does not have to expend any energy at all to justly condemn those in Adam? How many times have I pointed out that the only really consistent position from which a question like yours could be asked would be one of Open Theism (are you, perhaps, an Open Theist?)? So, is this a trap, perhaps? Or are you seriously suggesting that the precept "make the most of your time" is somehow relevant to God's eternal decree regarding His self-glorification and the eternal covenant of redemption?
Kudos to the First Presbyterian Church of Oak Ridge, Tennessee
05/24/2006 - James WhiteI get a weekly e-mail from John Shelby Spong (no, it isn't personal: it's mass produced). The things people write to him are often utterly amazing to me. But today's was most notable. Grimes G. Slaughter (that's what it said, honestly) wrote:
I have just been fired as a Jr. High Sunday School teacher at the First Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, TN, because I would not represent the Bible as perfect and infallible to the children. I have lots of proof to the contrary: I have many versions of the Bible on my hard drive and can search any of them for any word or phrase in a fraction of a second. It is possible that I have found ugly and evil content of which you are unaware. I would be pleased to send you a list of what I have found. Apparently "The Sins of the Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love' is exactly what I need. I intend to procure a copy soon.
Oh no! Grimes has a computer Bible program! Who would have thought of that? Why didn't we believers come up with a computer Bible program? How will we defend ourselves against this new onslaught? The faith is doomed!
OK, well, laughter is good for the soul. Anyway, congratulations to the First Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for kicking an unbeliever out of a teaching position. Good to see such an appropriate action! Now the real question is, did they likewise kick this unbeliever out of the congregation? I would surely hope so! But, sadly, the idea of church discipline is pretty...out of date, shall we say?
Past Two Dividing Lines
05/23/2006 - James WhiteRich just informed me that I forgot to give the link to last Thursday's DL. My apologies. Here she is.
Today on the DL I basically provided an hour long lecture/discussion of key issues related to Islam and the debate with Shabir Ally. Specifically, Mr. Ally has been writing on two of the topics of the debate, the issue of ibn Mas'ud's response to the Uthmanic revision of the text of the Qur'an (and whether he was, in fact, whipped/beaten or not) and my giving the wrong reference to the citation I quickly read during the cross-ex portion (I provide the proper source on the program today), and the Mark 13/Matthew 24 issue of whether Matthew is trying to "exalt" Jesus by changing Mark's text and calling Jesus "Lord." Got into a lot of background information as well during the course of the program, so you might want to have something to take notes on as there is a fair amount of information contained in this one. Here's the program.
Art Sippo Rewrites History
05/22/2006 - James WhiteIt has been quite some time since I have mentioned the name of Art Sippo on this blog. After years of enduring his outrageous behavior, I challenged him to debate on his own pet topic in his own home town, and he would not do it. Amazingly, he cited how "mean" I am as a reason, which left just about everyone who has watched his acidic mean-spiritedness pour forth from his keyboard for years in utter shock...or fits of laughter.
Well, at the time I wondered now long it would be until Sippo started to re-write history. Evidently he thinks nine months is sufficient time for his followers to lose all memory of his running from a perfectly legitimate debate challenge (here is the last article I wrote about that particular issue) and who knows, maybe it is? But the Internet has a long memory, and documentation is documentation.
So what is Art telling folks now? Well, here it is:
Mr. White indeed did make an offer to debate me, but his offer was unacceptable. We could not come to terms concerning the conduct of the debate and White acted in a discourteous and un-Christian manner towards me. He refused to discuss the terms of the debate with me personally and selected a venue that was completely unaceptable (sic). I informed James that I would not debate him unless it was done in mutual respect. He then sent me a long note filled iwth (sic) lies and insults confirming to me what I have known for years. The man is delusional and has serious mental problems. He needs professional help which I have counseled him to seek for many years. Sadly in the prot cults, you apparently like demagogues and so you facilitate irrational and sub-Christian behavior instead of love of neighbor.
Classic Sippo, isn't it? Complain about how unloving folks are while insulting them and calling them insane. Isn't it great? I haven't gone over to the Envoy forums in a long time, so I don't know if Sippo still has any followers (many saw through him at the time he ran from this challenge), but I imagine he probably does, or is trying to rebuild his fan base even now. I knew this would happen, because when he ducked and ran back in August of last year, I wrote,
If Sippo seeks in any forum whatsoever to misrepresent this situation, I will post, en toto, every bit of the correspondence that has been written over the past two days. Those with the slightest bit of familiarity with Sippo's long history of anti-Protestant harangues will be able to see the truth of the situation instantly.And so, if I see one more example of this kind of utterly fallacious re-writing of history, I will indeed go back to my archives and post the entirety of the e-mail exchange so anyone can judge for themselves if Art Sippo can tell the truth or not. For those who may be new to this blog and have no idea who Art Sippo is, click here for a selection of blog articles that will not only expose Sippo's inability to deal with biblical texts on a meaningful basis, but likewise document the fact that when Art Sippo complains about people being mean and nasty and arrogant and insulting, we should think about Ted Kennedy complaining about people being Democrats, or Elton John complaining about profanity. Indeed, our friend Angelz captured the truth about Art Sippo long ago:
An Illustration from the Recent Debate at Biola
05/20/2006 - James WhitePheme Perkins is a Harvard trained Roman Catholic scholar from Boston College. Her special interests, like so many today, include all things gnostic. Under current research projects is included, "Gnostic revealers and their discourses as evidence for emergence of Johannine traditions." To say Dr. Perkins represents the left side of the theological and scholarly spectrum is to engage in a small bit of understatement.
So why do I mention this? Those who have listened to the Shabir Ally debate know that my primary emphasis in the encounter was to assert that if Muslims are going to deny the inspiration of the New Testament as it exists today (notice I purposefully allowed for the opening up of the textual critical issue) they need to do so on consistent grounds. Using one form of argumentation to attack the New Testament while rejecting that same kind of argumentation when it is applied to the Qur'an is inconsistent, and inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument. Allowing liberal theologians and historians to run amok in New Testament studies while demanding the most conservative viewpoints possible in defending the Qur'an would involve fallacious argumentation, and I asserted that this is what I have heard, consistently, from Islamic apologists in my studies of their arguments.
Most in attendance (I heard audience reaction) found Shabir Ally's claim that the Gospel of Thomas is earlier than the Gospel of Mark incredible. I found the claim incredible as well, as this screen capture of my handwritten notes on my tablet pc prove:
So, when we got into cross-examination, I asked Shabir about this. I got what I would call a classic answer, at least as far as my study has revealed to me the argumenation of Islam's defenders. Islamic apologists will cite a single source as if this is sufficient to establish a point. While in a debate that might be acceptable for time's sake, when the vast majority of published material contradicts your position, you need to give more than a single work. In this case, Shabir first said, ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
So They Do Listen in Hollywood...But Just a Little
05/19/2006 - James WhiteBack from seeing the matinee showing of The Da Vinci Code. First, the critics, as normal, don't watch the same movies I do. I am not a critic, but as far as I could tell, on the cinematic level, it was a well done film. Ian McKellen, that God-hating homosexual actor who rips up Bibles in his hotel rooms and thinks the Bible should have a "fiction" sticker in the front is stellar once again---he has that incredible ability to not be Ian McKellen playing X, but to be...Gandalf or Magneto or in this instance, Teabing. A tremendous talent for which he will have to give answer someday, to be sure. Hanks did seem a little, stiff, but that may be his understanding of what a Harvard professor would be like, I don't know.
Before discussing the surprising elements of the film, I should note that J.S. and I went to the first showing, so there were a number of...interesting folks in the theater. At one point, when Sophie lightly identifies Mary Magdalene as a "whore," and Teabing responds with disdain, I could hear a woman down front react with shock and horror at Sophie's statement. I wonder how many complete Grail followers we had in the theater today? It was hard to say.
OK, the biggest thing I was wondering about for over a year was this: how closely will the film follow the book, especially when the primary characters get to Teabing's home and the heart of the "grail story" is told? This is the section of the book that contains the vast majority of the lies and deception promulgated by Dan Brown. I was going to bring my mp3 recorder and catch both this scene and the one in the jet, but I forgot to bring it with me. But in any case, this was where I noted the greatest departure from the actual wording of Dan Brown's material. Clearly, Howard and others were not only aware of the criticisms of Brown's material, but evidently, they recognized a good portion of the criticism was perfectly valid. They could hardly take out the "Jesus was married and had a daughter" stuff. But there were statements in Brown's book that were not only missing in the film, they were completely re-worked. The entirety of the objectionable material from the discussion in the jet was removed from the corresponding section of the film.
For example, the idea that Christ was "made" deity by Constantine, so clearly a part of Brown's book, became a point of dispute in the film. That is, instead of both Teabing and Langdon working in harmony to present the grail legend to Sophie, in the film they actually end up arguing, Langdon taking a line that would voice at least a few of the refutations that have been offered of Brown's complete rewrite of history. Instead of speaking of the "deity of Christ" or referring to the church's "newly minted deity," Teabing refers to Christ's "immortality." And instead of all of Christ's followers believing He was just a man prior to Nicea, now "many" of His followers had that view, while others did not. Clearly, someone in Hollywood took the time to look into some of the more obvious errors in Brown's work and tried, without completely killing the book, to limit the damage.
So while some specific, glowing errors are absent, that is hardly enough to redeem the film. The central thesis, and its utterly a-historical nature, remains unchanged. If anything, the emphasis at the end was even stronger, with some women in tears at the end of the film, so moved by the story of "the Magdalene."
The presentation of the Roman Catholic Church, and Opus Dei in particular, was brutal. I mean, brutal. The hardest thing to watch was the self-flagellation scene with Silas at the beginning. Just horrible. There is nothing redeeming in any of the Roman Catholic characters at all. Of course, Rome did provide Brown with some of his ammunition. At one point Teabing very disdainfully throws a copy of Malleus Malleficarum to Langdon (the medieval Roman Catholic production laying out how to deal with witchcraft). It is pretty easy to find a lot of silly stuff coming from the Papacy during that period. But still. The idea that to destroy Rome is to bring freedom to the entire world is just a bit on the silly side. OK, it is way over on the silly side.
One thing is for certain: just as the book is designed to inculcate doubt about the veracity of the Bible and the entire Christian faith, the film moves that idea out of the printed page and presents it with compelling images on the screen. And given that our culture is made up primarily now of those who are visually oriented, used to "sound-bites" instead of lengthy periods of concentrated thought, and who are trained to disbelieve and think in the most muddied fashion, The Da Vinci Code will once again highlight the reality that the evangelistic task today must be apologetic from the start. We are seeking not only to proclaim the facts of the gospel anymore. No, now we must deal with the very existence of truth itself! Those who refuse to see that this is part and parcel of what it means to proclaim the good news in Western culture today are simply ignoring the reality all around them.
Thursday Odds and Ends
05/18/2006 - James WhiteShabir Ally Debate mp3's Available! Click here to order. No, we don't have the DVD's yet, for two reasons: 1) we don't have the tapes from Biola, and 2) these mp3's were taken from a tape in one of our two cameras that had an audio feed. Believe me, we want the DVD's as badly as anyone else, and will get to them as soon as we can.
Well, it definitely looks like The Da Vinci Code is taking it on the chin from the critics. That may well mean nothing, but then again, I had wondered how such a dialogue-driven plot with lots of esoteric explanations of signs and symbols and the like was going to translate onto the screen. In any case, yes, I plan on seeing a matinee of the movie in the morning. Don't really have any choice, do I?
Speaking of the most over-blown movie story of the past decade, I hope no one was overly shocked to hear Sir Ian McKellan say that the Bible should have a disclaimer at the front identifying it as fiction. We all know that is Hollywood speaking---gay Hollywood, in this particular situation. Of course, I could not help but chuckle because as you listen to the audio (story here, audio linked in the story) you catch two things: first, I don't think Matt Lauer has even read the silly book, since his set-up had nothing to do with the actual plotline (even Tom Hanks knew that); but moreso, when McKellan says the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front you can hear someone, not in the frame, give a nervous little, almost surprised, laugh. Hanks? Howard? I don't know, but it sounded like someone was really thinking, "Oh, great, the reviews stink and now you have to go and add this?" In any case, I was hardly surprised at McKellan's comments. He's an obviously brilliant actor who must know quite well what God's Word says about his lifestyle. It takes a lot of energy to suppress that truth, so you can hardly be surprised when someone in his position tries to identify as "fiction" the very Scripture that speaks so clearly to his own sin. UPDATE: Dan Phillips sent me this link where McKellen, on his own website, confirms that he tears Leviticus 18:22 out of Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms.
And finally, this just in. Randall Terry has moved from Roman Catholic Lite to the fully leaded version. Here's the story. I'm sorry, but moving from Charismatic Episcopalian to Roman Catholic isn't exactly the most surprising Tiber crossing. But the story is interesting for what it does, and doesn't say.
A Banner Day on the DL
05/16/2006 - James WhiteWell, we set new records for connections to our Real Audio server and had at least 62 people in channel at one point (maybe more when I wasn't paying attention) during the program today, proving, with overwhelming evidence, that Tom Ascol should be the host of the Dividing Line! But since I haven't asked Tom to start doing that, I guess you are still stuck with me. Anyway, had lots of callers (are you shocked?) on the program today, and everyone seemed to enjoy the discussion. Here's the program.
Caner Correspondence File
05/16/2006 - James WhiteWell, many thanks to C.S. and T.S. for taking that mess of a correspondence file and typesetting it in PDF format. For those who have struggled to read it, you can now have the entire file in gorgeous PDF format with fully readable fonts and formatting that makes it very clear who is saying what. Click here for the file.
And don't forget, Tom Ascol is joining me this morning for the Dividing Line. We will be taking your calls, first discussing the Pulpit Crimes conference and then transitioning, rather naturally, I would say, into the subject of the October 16th debate and the issues that have come up in trying to make this event happen.
Finally, a huge string of comments have been posted on Tom Ascol's blog concerning the Caner situation (found here). As of this posting there are 105 comments. Part of the discussion has been the charge that it was inappropriate for me to post the correspondence, as if Christian leaders are to hide behind the cloak of "privacy" so as to shroud their behavior, actions, words, and motivations. I have posted twice in the comments thread on this very issue, for those interested. Also, Tom announced this morning that he will be on the DL and will be seeking to spread the message of the Mac Cult to the benighted PC world. Sadly, this entry almost immediately generated 26 comments. The Mac Cult is almost as avid in its promulgation of its cultic beliefs as the Mormons! Of course, some of those comments were from centuri0n, hence, they really don't count as they don't really mean anything (though I'm sure you can get a t-shirt with his picture on it displayed on a Mac screen) and also from a Gordon Conwell student who, as part of his slide into liberal apostasy, has likewise converted to Mac. And so we may not get to the Caner situation since Mac-ists tend to be sort of...focused on their crusade. We will see! :-)
Let the People of God Judge
05/15/2006 - James WhiteLet me summarize quickly. I will expand upon this on The Dividing Line Tuesday morning when I am joined by Dr. Tom Ascol.
1) I have posted the entirety of the correspondence between myself, Tom Ascol, Ergun Caner, and Emir Caner, that has been written since March on the topic of our debate October 16th. I believe the people of God need to be able to see who has been trying tirelessly to arrange a meaningful debate and who has been doing everything they can to avoid that very thing. Here is the file. (The file is in pdf format: if you can't read pdf, here is the html file, but the html file is not pretty, and is much less readable than the pdf. The pdf is 39 pages long, the html around 54). In many ways, it speaks for itself.
2) The Caners believe I am a non-Christian heretic. They refuse to refer to me as a fellow believer. This tells you all you need to know about their viewpoints of Calvinism.
3) The Caners refuse to allow for a three hour debate, though they could do so, and have admitted as much. They wanted only two hours, and compromised on a mere 2.5 hours. Ask them.
4) The Caners have been all over the map on format. Right now they want some form of Parliamentary debate format. What they do not want, in any way, shape, or form, is a debate long enough, and formatted enough, to where they would have to actually engage in meaningful textually-based cross-examination on the key biblical passages that contradict their position.
5) The Caners are insisting upon using a thesis statement that has no meaning. It is not even written in proper English. It could be used and defended by a Unitarian Universalist. They refuse to use a thesis statement I have proposed that is clear and unambiguous. Here is their proposed thesis:
Here is my proposed thesis:
The fact is the Caners are doing all they can to make sure to protect themselves from serious interaction and examination in this "debate." I believe they are seeking to be so disrespectful and uncooperative that Dr. Ascol and I will simply give up the attempt and let them off the hook. I provide the entirety of the correspondence so that once again, as in the previous exchange between myself and Ergun Caner, the people of God can see the vast difference between their attitudes and reasoning and that presented by myself and Dr. Ascol.
Be listening to the DL Tuesday morning for a full discussion of this situation. And as I noted in one of the last e-mails in the above linked file, our phone lines are open for Ergun and Emir Caner to call as well. I for one would love to hear either one defend their thesis statement live. They would be welcome to call.
Today on the DL
05/11/2006 - James WhiteProvided updates on the Caner debate (discussions on the format/thesis, etc.), progress on setting up the Glasgow debates with Shabir Ally for May of 2007, announced that Tom Ascol will be joining me on the DL next Tuesday morning, and then took calls, the first on Romans 7, the second from a "former believer" who wanted to demonstrate that the Bible is not reliable. Went about nine minutes long. Here's the program.
WOOPS! Double Booked Myself Again
05/11/2006 - James WhiteSorry, but I double booked myself this morning. I will have to move the DL back an hour. I'm on WVNE in Worcester, MA talking about The Da Vinci Code this morning! Completely spaced it! So, I'll do that, then run in and do the DL! My apologies. I don't have a secretary! So, for the many time-challenged folks out there, that means it will be 12pm (that's noon for those of you in Rio Linda and most of the rest of California including the SF area where Micah lives) PDT, 3pm EDT. :-)
My Lectures on The Da Vinci Code
05/11/2006 - James WhiteWith the release of The Da Vinci Code right around the corner, a quick reminder of our resources is in order. For my 20+ part blog series, all in one file, on the book's many Biblical errors, click here. For the mp3's of my Auburn University lecture on Da Vinci (and my presentation on the resurrection for the faculty), click here. I also addressed the book over the course of three weeks in the Sunday School classes at PRBC, and those are available here.
Brian Flemming and Debating
05/10/2006 - James WhiteWhen I was speaking in London earlier this year I played a few sections from The God Who Wasn't There, the film produced by Brian Flemming. I did so because the work is such an excellent example of leaps of irrationality, confident presentations of falsehoods as facts, and simply bad argumentation---and yet, it is so representative of the kind of "scholarship" we encounter in the mainstream media all the time. Even the lay-audiences chuckle at much of what is said in the film, as any believer who has taken the time to do even a little reading can see through much of its rhetoric.
So today I'm sent a link to an article by centuri0n wherein he discusses Brian Flemming's requirements for "debate." When I first read what he posted I figured this was a joke. centuri0n is known for attempting to be humorous. I know, since he was once a regular in my chat channel, until he got famous and someone put his picture on a coffee mug. Now he's way too famous for us little folks anymore. Well, I follow the links (had to repair them, but hey, he's famous, not techy) and no...it isn't a joke.
Brian Flemming ends his film giving us a glorious example of why theology matters: he goes into the chapel where he went to school, and points the camera at three different spots in the chapel where he was "saved," where he "gave his life to Jesus." He then turns the camera, inserts himself in the frame, and denies the Holy Spirit. I guess that was meant to have some kind of impact or something.
I recall mentioning to an audience at Auburn University that I sort of doubted Flemming would be available for serious scholarly debates anytime soon since it is so painfully obvious he has simply ransacked the folks out underneath the left field bleachers looking for his "scholars" to help him defend his apostasy and attack the faith he never truly entered. So when I saw his own blog article laying out conditions for "debating" him, I read on. He provides a "statement of belief" that anyone must sign if he is going to take them seriously. Here it is:
I believe it is possible that Jesus did not exist.Now, the patent absurdity of such a document hardly needs demonstration. At least one line doesn't even make sense ("I believe that any claim can be part of Christian tradition and also be false." What?). But obviously, the whole point is that to sign such a document means you already agree with Flemming and hence, why would you want to debate him? It would be like my making Shabir Ally sign a statement agreeing to the Athanasian Creed before I would consider him "worthy" of debate. Absurd, of course.
I believe there is no evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ that dates to the time of his alleged life.
I believe there are no written eyewitness accounts of the existence of Jesus Christ.
I believe the names of the Gospels were added well after their composition, and there is no good reason to believe that these names correspond to the original writers.
I believe there is no good reason to believe that any of the Gospels were written by disciples of Jesus Christ, or that any eyewitnesses to Jesus were involved in their composition.
I believe the Bible is not infallible.
I believe it is common for religious cults to make things up.
I believe it is common for religions to influence each other, and for young religions to be derived from older religions.
I believe that any claim can be part of Christian tradition and also be false.
I believe that no figures such as "God" or "The Holy Spirit" or "Satan" performed any supernatural actions that had any significant effect upon the formation of early Christianity.
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct.
And so you have to wonder, is this just a big joke? That is surely possible. No rational person could post such a thing with any level of seriousness. However, the blog entry continues:
If you are unable to sign the Statement, we cannot talk any further, for one or both of the following reasons:I suppose this, too, could be part of the joke, but it sure doesn't sound like it. And if this is actually meant to be taken seriously, we have the equivalent of a King James Only Fundamentalist demanding that I sign the statement of faith of Pete Ruckman's Church prior to debating me. Utter irrationality, total nonsense, complete melt-down on any level at all. Now, given how horrific Flemming's film is, we really shouldn't be overly surprised, but it is still an amazing thing to observe.
1) You are not familiar enough with the facts to be ready for a meaningful discussion at this time.
2) Your capacity to understand the facts is so compromised by your religious ideology that a conversation with you would be pointless.
I will say this: I would actually suspend my normal parameters and debate Flemming if he was actually willing to stand before an audience in a truly scholarly debate. Though he is not a scholar, he is at least "published" in a sense (i.e., his film), and hence the encounter would be useful to a wider audience. But I won't hold my breath.
Moving the DL Tomorrow
05/10/2006 - James WhiteI have the opportunity to be on the drive-time call in talk program on KPXQ tomorrow afternoon, 5-7pm, so we are going to move the DL to the morning time, 11am. Sorry if that messes anything up for anyone, but that's the wonderful thing about a webcast. You can take advantage of other ministry opportunities as they arise.
More Photos from Biola...and Angelz
05/10/2006 - James White
Shabir Ally Debate Report on the DL Today
05/09/2006 - James WhiteDespite a less than happy Real Audio server, we managed to get the DL in today. Those who tried to listen live only got portions of it, but the archive should be fine. I spent the entire hour going over the Ally debate and providing some background. Once we started having technical difficulties I had a little more trouble staying overly focused (I can see Rich working on stuff, making phone calls, and can see all the folks in channel whining because the feed died), but anyway...hopefully was useful for those who were not at the debate. Here's the program.
A Great Evening at Biola (Updated)
05/08/2006 - James White
Once again I wish to thank all the faithful believers who prayed for last night's event at Biola University in Los Angeles. It was truly a wonderful time. The staff did a great job setting up the event, and I am very thankful to Beau Boyd and the "El Torrito Gang" for all they did to make this happen. I love seeing young men and women with a zeal for God's truth taking the "bull by the horns" so to speak and getting things done.
Fred Butler from John MacArthur's church has done me the favor of reporting on the debate here and providing some nice pictures as well, which will save me a lot of time! He even took a picture of my tablet PC! My tablet is famous! Now I just have to remember to reset the battery time settings before each debate (doh!). (Quick update: here is another report from Patrick Chan).
The incoming e-mails from students who were there have been wonderfully encouraging as well. I am sure, given that we did a three-camera shoot, that the DVD's will look spectacular. Please do not ask me when the mp3's will be available! Obviously, we will get them out as soon as we can, and I'm sure Rich will make this a high priority in the video-editing schedule.
I mentioned in my closing statement that I have already been talking to Shabir about scheduling a debate on the deity of Christ for May of 2007. I would like to arrange it for the University of Glasgow in Scotland, since he has debated there before, and I have friends in that area as well, and a church up near Stirling has contacted me about doing an apologetics conference for them in May of 2007. And I made the offer nearly irresistible: I promised that if Shabir will accept my challenge to debate in Glasgow, I'll wear a formal kilt for the occasion!
The main reason I'm not going to wax too long in reporting on the debate, aside from Fred's fine blog entry, is that I will be doing The Dividing Line tomorrow morning and will give you a full report then. In fact, if folks who were there would like to call in, that would be great as well. Till then, once again, many thanks to all who worked so hard to arrange the debate, to those who prayed, and please continue to pray not only for our upcoming debates but also that the Lord will open the door for a 2007 debate on the deity of Christ in Scotland.
Finally, a special shout out to Beau Boyd, mentioned above. This is the only picture I have right now of Beau, making sure he's covering my back after the debate. He was the first one to contact me about doing the debate, and he stuck it out even when it got tough. He and Jer (below) also dragged themselves out of bed this morning to take me to the airport, which turned out to be a long ride thanks to a massive traffic jam a few minutes from LAX. And then another special shout out to Jer and Marissa, who not only gave me a cactus and tulips upon arriving at LAX, but they later admitted that my debates were involved in their starting to date! I honestly have no idea how that could happen, or what it means, but I thought it was great anyway.
So, be listening tomorrow to the DL for a full report! See you then!
Quick Addition: Just got some more pics. This one shows Beau in the foreground, Marissa next to him; behind Marissa is The Gripper, Eddie Dalcour, who along with Beau made for an impressive set of body-guards! The fellow right next to me is from Columbia, and he really enjoyed the debate, and behind him is a Master's Seminary grad as well. I am waxing eloquent on something here. I do recall talking to a lovely young lady at one point about a text of Scripture and just watching her brighten as she came to understand the point (she is a new believer). I will admit, being around these young folks is rejuvenating, especially when I realize they are the same age as my son! Excuse me while I go chug some Geritol....
Uber Fast Debate Note
05/08/2006 - James WhiteJust a quick note before I hit the sack. Thank you to everyone who prayed. The Lord blessed greatly. I honestly can't see how the debate could have gone any better...well, aside from my accidentally turning my tablet pc off for a moment during my rebuttal period anyway. But the response from the students, staff, just about everyone, has been tremendously positive. I was going to try to pull a picture of Shabir Ally and myself off of my camera and post it...but I'm just too tired. Suffice it to say that once again, the Lord has been most faithful. Oh, and we had at least 2,500 in attendance! It was great! Largest live audience I think we've ever had, and we did a three-camera shoot, so the DVD's should be great! An all-around great evening, so once again, praise to our Lord and many thanks to all of you who prayed for the event. More tomorrow when I get back home.
Just a Quick Note
05/05/2006 - James WhiteI'm very focused upon finishing my debate notes, studies, etc., so blogging will have to wait till next week. I deeply appreciate the kind notes from those of you who have written saying you and your church will be praying for the debate Sunday evening. That really means a lot. I am enjoying the role of "underdog," and am likewise finding great encouragement in going through each and every alleged textual variant/"error"/"contradiction" Shabir Ally presented in one of his recent debates and cataloguing the proper responses and various errors found in these allegations. My experience down through the years has truly been that as you study the arguments of those who seek to dissuade you from faith in God's Word, your faith grows as you find the consistent errors of argumentation and fact. That is surely my experience again today. Lord willing, I will be able to blog a quick note on Monday. Till then, may God be honored and His Word glorified!
An All Canadian DL
05/04/2006 - James WhiteAll our callers today were from Canada, which was sort of odd. Two great calls, and I likewise played, and reviewed, a discussion of John 6:44-45, once again pointing out where sound, consistent exegesis will always lead you to the same conclusions. This will be the last DL before the Biola Debate, so Lord willing, next week on Tuesday I will have a full report for you. Please remember to pray Sunday evening! I would love to hear from any churches that will be praying for this encounter! It would be most encouraging. Here's today's Dividing Line. Update: I wanted to add as well how encouraging our first caller today was. Some might find the discussion we had...less than heart-pounding (it was on the canon), but this young man mentioned how our small ministry had been used of the Lord to keep him strong in the faith while others around him were giving in to the pressures of liberalism and unbelief. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. If you want to know why Rich and I do what we do, and have been doing it now for twenty three years, and hope to be doing it twenty three years from now, listen to that call. What a privilege to know our materials, books, website, mp3s, debates, etc., have been used of the Lord in this way. I truly needed that word of encouragement!
Two Odds and Ends
05/02/2006 - James WhiteFirst, for all the procrastinators on the West Coast who are all of a sudden scrambling to get tickets to the debate this Sunday evening at Biola with Shabir Ally: I put this link up earlier, but not everyone has figured out the deep things of computer searching, so, here it is again: click here to get details and tickets. While I look forward to meeting many of you, please remember that I can't meet a thousand folks in one night, either. Your presence and prayers are greatly appreciated.
Secondly, beginning, as I recall, sometime last year, a gentleman who denies the deity of Christ by the name of Patrick Navas began writing to me. He sent me a huge velo-bound "print-out book" similar to ones I've received over the years by "experts" on every topic under the sun. I saw very little new as I thumbed through the book, but the main reason I could only chuckle and set the work aside was that he was very intent, in his e-mails and letters, to make sure I knew he had taken me to task on 1 Corinthians 15:28. The problem is, I have not written almost anything on 1 Corinthians 15:28. His entire "response" is based upon...a phone call on The Dividing Line! As far as I can tell from looking at another article that arrived today, he doesn't even bother to give the date of the program. So, an off-the-cuff response to a caller on a program is his sole grounds for writing pages and pages of "rebuttal." I'm sorry, but it is very, very hard to take such folks seriously especially when they in essence are begging you to take notice of them. He has been sending his little missives to a group of folks (and he likes to make sure you know he has done so). When you've published an entire book on the Trinity and someone like this has to focus upon a phone call on an unidentified Dividing Line, you know someone has missed the boat.
Today on the DL
05/02/2006 - James WhiteCovered a veritable plethora of topics today, making for a rather daedal program (hey, it's the Word of the Day!). Got everyone in the mood by having another Mylo Hatzenbuhler concert in the pre-feed, including that incredible classic, "Who Let the Hogs Out?" Anyway, having recovered our senses after that, I noted with some humor the attempt of LDS scholar John Tvedtnes to address the issue of the Doctrines of Grace, and how you have to work pretty hard to make some of the other representations of Calvinism we've seen look "good." Then I took a few calls, and then looked at Brandon Cox's claim that Adrian Rogers' "masterful exegesis" of Romans 9 had converted him from being a "Calvinist." So we listened to some of my response to Rogers from 2002 on that very passage. Here's the program.
For Those Wondering...
05/01/2006 - James WhiteNo, the Caners remain in silent mode. No responses to any e-mails, no response to the previous blog article, Dividing Line discussions, etc. The silent treatment continues. With the Shabir Ally debate this week (you'd think they would both be quite interested in my engaging one of the leading Islamic apologists, given their background, but despite repeatedly referring to this, neither has ever responded or shown the slightest interest in the debate) I don't really have time or interest in pursuing the matter. Once the debate is over, I will call their offices and seek to speak directly to them.
BaptistFire.Com, Meet StrangeBaptistFire.com
05/01/2006 - James WhiteMost of my readers are familiar with BaptistFire.com, the conservative Baptist website that is, sadly, likewise rabidly anti-Reformed, grossly one-sided, and anonymous as to who is involved in promulgating its articles. Well, a number of folks have gotten together to launch www.StrangeBaptistFire.com, a website which will debunk the constantly misleading, imbalanced, and often easily refuted materials posted on BaptistFire.com.
Now, one of the key arguments you will find against Calvinism on BaptistFire is Adrian Rogers' sermon on Romans 9. I reviewed this sermon August 31 and September 14, 2002 on The Dividing Line. Those programs are available here.
I wasn't asked to submit anything to StrangeBaptistFire.com, but, if I had been, this is what I would have sent in:
I suppose, in some very rare instances, there is a reason for men to be anonymous in their writing. I suppose if a fatwah was proclaimed upon someone so that for the safety of one's family one had to remain anonymous, that would be perfectly acceptable. But in the vast majority of instances, there is only one reason for anonymity when writing upon theological subjects: refusal to be held accountable for what one says.
Whoever is behind BaptistFire.com chooses to present the most horrifically one-sided materials. It is not that they do not know there is another side. They just refuse to acknowledge it or deal with that it says. This makes for "easy" theology: by remaining anonymous and refusing to do the work required of a sound theologian, you can say what you want and ignore its utter decimation in the marketplace of ideas. Who cares if the other side shreds your arguments with regularity? You just have to live on the "margin" of folks who either 1) do not know how to find out what the other side is saying, or 2) have such a strong desire to continue believing what you are teaching that they will join you in willfully ignoring the refutation of their own beliefs. And there is an amazingly large audience to be had under those two heads.
Refusing to hide behind the cloak of anonymity requires one to be held accountable for what you say and how you say it. If you engage in the use of double standards, that will be made clear through the examination of your known writings. But if you hide your identity, you can speak out of both sides of your mouth with impugnity.
There is no room for Christian cowardice in "speaking the truth in love" and even in addressing things which are difficult and divisive. No one is persecuting the folks at BaptistFire.com; they do not need to hide for the safety of their wives and kids. The only reasons they could possibly have would be 1) they know they cannot defend their positions and hence avoid all challenges by remaining unknown; 2) they could lose financially if their one-sided, often grossly erroneous, writings were exposed, or 3) they are double-minded and double-tongued in that they act/say one thing in "real life," but write/speak otherwise on their website. In any case, none of these constitute a meaningful defense for Christian anonymity in the promulgation of falsehoods, which is what BaptistFire.com is all about.
I have written to BaptistFire a number of times, challenging them to come out of the closet, come into the light of the truth, and engage the issues. They have consistently refused to do so. It is my prayer that eventually one of their number will be convicted about their behavior, leave the group, and "spill the beans" so that real accountability can be brought to bear upon the horrifically flawed materials posted on that website with regularity.
Till then, I will rejoice that I do not have to hide my face in shame when I proclaim God's truth. I do not have to blush knowing that I am hiding the truth, presenting only a lopsided argument against my own views. And I will not hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, either. My name is James White. I'm the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, www.aomin.org. And every person behind BaptistFire.com knows one thing: not a one of them would ever be caught dead standing before a live audience in a debate against me on the very central issues upon which they pontificate with regularity on their website. That doesn't make me special: it does, however, reflect very, very badly upon them.
Does Omnibenevolence Mean Unibenevolence?
05/01/2006 - James White
James White, I'm not reformed in my theology, but I did want to ask you a sincere question. How do you reconcile God not being omnibenevolent with simplicity. When you claim that God only wants some people to be saved, you are really claiming that God is only partially loving. By doing this, you are destroying God's simplicity and really saying that God has parts. But you cannot have an actual infinite number of parts, thereby reducing God to a finite being. Whatever God is, He is wholly and completely. If God is love, then He loves infinitely, wholly, and completely, but in your theology, you destroy the metaphysical attributes of God by really implying God is only partially loving. You might reply by claiming that God has more power than He uses, but this is a category mistake. Omnipotence is a metaphysical attribute, not a moral attribute. How do you reconcile this situation?
John Frame wrote a response to open theism titled No Other God. Chapter Four of this work is titled, "Is Love God's Most Important Attribute?" Open theists, and Arminians in general, present the idea that omnibenevolence is the central aspect of God's character, and hence, all other aspects of God's being, whether attributes referring to His being (omnipresence, for example), or moral attributes (holiness) are to be subsumed under this over-arching attribute of "love." Of course, it is very difficult to prove this kind of assertion on any fair reading of the text of Scripture. Surely you can find great praise of God's love, of God's grace, God's mercy (those three, while related, are not necessarily identical in all instances and at all times) in the Scriptures. But, any fair reading will also show you that God's holiness, God's Lordship, God's kingship, the demonstration of God's power, the vindication of God's righteousness and judgment, the demonstration of His wrath, are all equally lauded and acknowledged truths. Of course, a lot of that comes from the dread Old Testament, and given that many in evangelicalism today are canonically challenged, it is easy to see how those themes fade into obscurity in their every-day theology. Frame comments,
Theologians are wrong when they think that the centrality of their favorite attribute excludes the centrality of others. These writers are (as often among theologians) right in what they assert, but wrong in what they deny. Ritschl is right to say that love is God's essence, but wrong to deny that holiness is. And that kind of error is sometimes linked to other theological errors. Often when a theologian makes God's love central, in contrast to other attributes, he intends, contrary to Scripture, to cast doubt on the reality or intensity of God's wrath and judgment. (p. 52)
In response to the question quoted above, who denied God's omnibenevolence? Evidently, our writer assumes omnibenevolence must mean unibenevolence: that is, that if God is all-loving, then He will not possess the capacity His creatures rightly possess: discrimination in the matter of love. We are not only not unibenevolent, as image bearers of God we, like Him, are able to possess, and express, different kinds of love. I do not love my cat as I love my children (and I think anyone who does is simply wacked). I have and properly express all different kinds of "love," from loving my wireless laser mouse to loving my Tablet PC to loving my Felt F65 road bike---but none of those kinds of love come close to my love for God's truth, God's people, my family, my friends. If faced with a choice, I am going to choose based upon discrimination in my love. I am going to save the mother of my children before I save a stranger. I am called to love my wife as Christ loved the church. And my ability to do this is clearly reflected in God's own actions. The love He showed Israel he did not show the Canaanites, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, or the Babylonians. This is a simple biblical fact. All the "God loves you!" smiley face t-shirts do not change revelational reality.
Hence, I reject the assertion that omnibenevolence equals unibenevolence, i.e., having one equal, undifferentiated, indiscriminate warm fuzzy. There is no biblical basis for thinking otherwise.
Now, our writer expresses a very common human failing in these words: "When you claim that God only wants some people to be saved, you are really claiming that God is only partially loving." Notice the unstated assumption: love = extension of redemptive grace. What is the only logical conclusion to be derived from such thinking? Either 1) God's love demands God's failure; i.e., God will be unhappy and unfulfilled throughout eternity because He tried, but failed, to save those He loved (more than one theologian has held this position); or, 2) universalism. God will conquer all in the end, all will be saved. But in neither case can God show redemptive, saving love to undeserving sinners while, at the same time, expressing His just wrath and anger against the rest. By insisting upon this concept, our writer robs God of His freedom, let alone His ability to freely chose to love redemptively. The false dilemma is clearly seen: by denying the difference between the love God shows to all of creation in providence in the merciful suspension of His immediate and just judgment upon all sinners, and the special redemptive love He freely bestows on vessels of mercy, our writer creates a false unibenevolence and on that basis says God is only "partially loving." That makes as much sense as noting that I love my wife in a way I do not love a woman in Bosnia and saying I am "partially loving" as a result. I am not supposed to love the woman in Bosnia in that way, and God is under no compulsion whatsoever to love redemptively (which involves the extension of mercy and grace). To say otherwise is to say that redemption can be demanded of God, that grace is not free, but can be demanded at His hand. That is, in essence, the sum of this kind of objection.
And so we see that the rest of the objection bears no weight and has no merit for it is based upon a misuse of terms.