Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
On the Dividing Line Yesterday
06/30/2006 - James WhiteYesterday on the DL I reviewed the first portion of Paige Patterson's comments in the Patterson/Mohler discussion at the SBC, once again noting, with not a little bit of thankfulness, the lack of rancor in the discussion and the fact that Patterson, though still giving what I would consider surface level answers to important issues, is on a completely different plane than most of his synergistic contemporaries. You can't help but like Paige Patterson, and you can't help but truly admire Al Mohler, especially given the physical circumstances he was facing. Then we took a call from a Presbyterian challenging me on some statements I made in last Sunday's sermons, then a call from Australia on Islam. Skipped the break and still ran out of time! Last DL till July 11th when I get back from the UK. Here's the program.
Apology and Clarification
06/29/2006 - James WhiteIn an earlier post I said Ergun Caner was "no serious scholar," and I wish to both apologize for, and clarify, that statement. Aside from allowing myself to give place to the frustration that Dr. Caner's behavior toward me has created, for which I apologize, I should have been significantly clearer in my words. I was referring to the fact that thus far Dr. Caner has not shown the slightest scholarly interest in dealing with the issues of soteriology, Baptist history, etc., that have arisen in our correspondence, in a fair and proper fashion. His comments about hyper-Calvinism, for example, or his statement that Esau was hated for what Esau did, etc., have surely not found their origin and source in careful scholarly reflection. And his teaching his students that Spurgeon denied particular redemption likewise reflects the same kind of attitude we find in so many others: when it comes to Calvinism, we don't need to engage our minds at a high level. Just run with "what works" and be done with it. Hence my unclear and hence unfair comment. Dr. Caner may well be a fine scholar in other areas, but he has not shown any interest in applying his intelligence and scholarship to this particular subject, which is also witnessed by his repeated references to "Dr. Dave Hunt" and his "fine" work.
By the way, only one person even mentioned this in an e-mail. I simply wished to clarify, and apologize. His dismissive tone toward me for all these months is not an excuse for reciprocation on my part.
P.S. I watched an interview with Ergun Caner today. It was recorded sometime in the past couple of years. In any case, it truly broke my heart. He spoke with passion about seeking to see Muslims come to know the true Jesus. It broke my heart because I tried to share with him my same passion, but was rebuffed at every turn because I am a Calvinist. I got the feeling he would rather have no one debating Shabir Ally than to have a Calvinist doing it, even if the topic does not touch upon issues related to Calvinism. In any case, no matter how often I raised the topic and tried to get him to talk about our common ministry in that area, I was ignored and rejected. How very sad. Be that as it may, I found the interview quite interesting, and found Ergun Caner well-spoken and interesting.
Straitgate Needs Your Assistance
06/29/2006 - James WhiteAs many of you know, for years www.straitgate.com hosted various of our real audio files for free. Then it went down. Now, its proprietor, Steven Luker, is ready to get it going again, but he needs your help. If you find Straitgate to be useful, please click here to read how you can help keep it around.
One of Those Special Promises
06/29/2006 - James WhiteI spoke last evening at PRBC on Jude 1-4, just drawing out some thoughts and making application. And I was struck by a phrase that once again pressed upon my mind in a new and fresh way. I noted that one could (and someone probably has, I honestly do not know) with benefit write a book solely upon the greetings found in the New Testament epistles. The theology found therein is striking, rich, and deep. And the same is true here. Here is the text: "Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ" (my translation). Now, if you are reading the KJV/NKJV or reading the TR (since the most common TR doesn't bother with providing textual variants), it reads "sanctified" rather than "beloved." You need to have the BibleWorks fonts installed (they are generally available on line) to follow this, but here is the difference in the two readings:
Calvin dismissed "beloved" because the textual data available to him was quite limited. However, with the discovery of the great uncials and the papyri, the reading has been given a strong foundation. Surely, both terms are true; that is, we are surely sanctified by God the Father just as we are beloved by Him. But in this case I think the more ancient reading provides us with a biblically consistent statement.
The Father is the source of salvation itself, the fountainhead. Ephesians 1:3 expresses the same truth when it blesses God the Father for blessing us with every spiritual blessing, for choosing us, and for predestining us in love (Eph. 1:4). So Jude is recognizing the loving foundation of soteriology itself: the love of God the Father. The "called," the elect, are "beloved," perfect passive participle, loved in completeness by God the Father, and, in the same way, "kept," guarded, protected, also in perfection, by God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And the form of the language "bookends" by putting the article first, and then the substantive at the end, i.e., "the beloved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ called ones," similar to verse 3, "the once-for-all delivered to the saints faith."
These words echo the same glorious thought we find in John 6:37ff. God the Father gives the chosen ones to the Son; the Son perfectly saves them. Here, God the Father in love chooses; the Son keeps those who are thusly chosen. Same glorious truth.
And we should also see the connection to the often grossly misunderstood and misrepresented term "foreknow" when used with God as the one doing the action. Very few of those who throw the term around, making the action, when God is the one doing it, equal to some philosophical concept of mere prescience, take the time to consider what anyone else has said about it. But even then, when they see someone speaking of how "foreknow" means God lovingly chooses to enter into a relationship with one who has yet to even experience birth, they mock the concept rather than providing a meaningful response. But here we have the same concept, where God's love and His election of a particular people are connected together in the divine words of Scripture.
There is much more to be gleaned from this tremendous passage, but I thought I would share these thoughts on the blog today. Change of pace from the past two weeks!
When Call-In Radio Programs Become "Debates"
06/28/2006 - James WhiteYou may get the fairly regular fund-raising e-mails from Catholic Answers like I do if you have ever signed up for their forums. I noticed one arrived last night, and could not help but chuckle:
FIRST, you'll receive Jimmy Akin's "Bible Answer Man Debate" audio series. From non-Catholic misinterpretation of the Reverence due Mary to the Protestant notion of justification by faith alone, the central differences between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians are tackled in this three CD-series of debates between Jimmy Akin, Catholic Answers director of apologetics and evangelization, and James White, director of the Fundamentalist apologetics organization Alpha and Omega Ministries.Remember, "Fundamentalist" is a Roman Catholic buzz-word, always meant to engender visions of Jack Chick. Anyway, the irony is that Akin referred me to a paper he has written on what is necessary for him to consider a debate challenge. I would say I would agree with the vast majority of what his paper notes. I would also say that if he took his own writing seriously he would stop calling his BAM appearance a "debate" of any kind. He demands equal time for a debate, rightly so. Nobody gets equal time on a call-in radio program. He demands a clear thesis that is debatable, rightfully so. Just what was the clear thesis statement on BAM again? Uh...right.
Of course, this "masterful debate" (their words) would normally cost you $28 from them. Save your pennies. We offer it as well, but for what it is: the BAM discussion with Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers, available here, #468, and it's $10.00.
Monday Morning Quarterbacks
06/28/2006 - James WhiteYou've seen the phrase before. It refers to those who through the omniscience of hindsight can tell you exactly what Brett Favre or (let's date ourselves a bit) Roger Staubach should have done on that last drive of the big game. When we say "hindsight is 20/20" we are simply acknowledging that we are time-bound creatures, and we cannot see the future. Speculation about "what might have been" can either result in really cool science fiction or in the sad spectre of a person who cannot come to grips with what really did take place in the past. But in either case, as time-bound creatures, we simply cannot do anything about "what might have beens."
I appreciate all who have been writing in and expressing their opinion on the "to continue/not to continue" topic. As I have said, I am reading the e-mails, and am thankful that the vast majority are supportive, even those who are saying, "Don't do it." But what I do not understand is the Monday morning quarter-backing that is going on in some instances. Since there seems to be plenty of blame flying around, let me make a few comments.
First, don't shoot any of it Tom Ascol's way. He graciously agreed to get involved when Ergun Caner rather unilaterally demanded a two-on-two debate. But he said from the start that apologetics and debating is not his "thing," so he would follow my lead and let me take point. Which I did. So if you are one of those who feel that despite bending over backwards to treat the Caners as brothers that "our side" has erred in even trying to reason with these men, aim your guns my direction.
Next, I am uncertain how anyone could have known, unless you work at Liberty, I guess, that Ergun Caner would behave in the fashion he has behaved. It is one thing to arrange debates with unbelievers or rank heretics. This challenge grew out of repeated statements by Ergun Caner in the context of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been open about his anti-Calvinism in many contexts, and that long before he and his brother showed up on the Founder's blog. But it has been my desire, from the start, to arrange this debate not as some prize fight with handlers and agents and the like, but as a discussion between fellow believers on vital and important theological issues. As such, I did not see any reason to be impersonal or to even avoid honest discussion of key issues from the start. And if my overtures of brotherhood had been accepted and returned, none of this would have happened. But they were not. If you wish to blame me for that, please feel free. Like I said, hindsight is 20/20, and if you wish to live looking backwards, I can't stop you. Just be careful. Those who are always looking backwards tend to end up running smack dab into the future.
A Couple of Quick Notes
06/28/2006 - James WhiteThe e-mails keep pouring in. Many thanks.
Our audio server site, which hosts the DL and our mp3s, crashed last night. They say they have been working on it all night, but last we checked, their work has been somewhat in vain. We hope to see it back on line soon. The joys of technology!
Finally, was reading an article last evening in the Reformed Baptist Theological Review, and wanted to once again make sure folks know about this tremendous resource (well, except for my articles in it, the rest are great!). www.rbtr.org.
By The Way...
06/27/2006 - James WhiteI would like to personally thank every one of you who has written in on the "Caner Situation" (for lack of a better description). I have been overwhelmed, truly, by the sheer volume of e-mails, and by the deep sincerity, devotion, and passion, almost every one evinces. I have read them, and would love to respond to each one, but I simply cannot. Not only would I not have time to do so, but I have found that even when I do, the result is, "Oh, thanks for writing back! By the way, I've always wanted to ask you..." and this is followed by three pages of theological inquiry. Of course, that's what the DL is for anyway. I can answer a question by voice a lot faster than I can in writing. Anyway, I wanted to thank all of you who have voiced your opinions, especially since the vast majority have likewise included the comment that you are praying about the situation as well. Whether you were in the 70% saying "press on, don't let this die," or the 30% saying, "It has gone too far, give it up," I deeply appreciate what you have had to say.
Spong, Caner, Lynchburg, Orlando, and You!
06/27/2006 - James WhiteWide ranging DL today. Started off with a clip from Bishop Spong on the nature of the "church" being in "exile" which provides an excellent insight into his deeply secular worldview. Then I moved into explaining why we need your support not in Lynchburg but in Orlando in reference to the Caner saga. Mike O'Fallon mentioned in channel that we could possibly move our schedule around a bit in Orlando to allow for Tom and I to do a two-man presentation/discussion on the Caner debate, assuming, of course, we can get the Caners to start treating us like human beings and actually work with us to set up a meaningful debate with a format and topic that make at least some sense. The point being that even those who are all fired up to go to Lynchburg would get more direct access to the debaters in Orlando at the Pulpit Crimes conference and be able to ask questions than they could ever have trying to squeeze in to the debate itself. Then we took calls the rest of the hour. I never got to the Roger Olson article I wanted to review, nor the clips from Paige Patterson from the SBC, but there is always Thursday! Here's the program.
Irony of Ironies
06/27/2006 - James WhiteI noted a few weeks ago the fine sermon by our brother Roy Hargrave on "The Idol of Evangelism," found here. We have a fine and ironic example of this mindset in the words of that anonymous blogger, he who lacks the courage to even identify himself, Charles the Brave, the man who provides Bob Ross with an outlet on the web for his various meandering attack pieces, in that today he attacks Tom Ascol and me in a piece based upon Google satellite images! Yes indeed, here it is. I guess he forgot to mention that even Spurgeon's church today is much different than it was in the days of Spurgeon himself. Why? Because Peter Masters isn't evangelistic? Surely not. What these shallow thinking troublers of the brethren today ignore is the reality of the situation of the church today in Western culture. Sound, solid, God-honoring churches are a blessing upon a nation. They seemingly think that God is bound to always be building mega-churches. The idea of an increase in godliness in a small church that produces disciples who are true disciples in all of life is totally lost on them since their theology is a quarter inch deep. The idea of faithfulness to God's truth in the midst of widespread apostasy is likewise beyond their very limited horizons. Of course, we don't find Charles the Brave evangelizing Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims. We only find him aping Bob Ross attack pieces on Christian leaders.
The irony here is that I will be speaking at the Metropolitan Tabernacle one week from today. My first subject will be the Da Vinci Code and how we can use this cultural event as a springboard for...evangelism! You truly have to wonder if Charles, or whoever he really is, is actually a Calvinist double-agent, seeking to make the Synergists look silly? Maybe this Da Vinci painting holds the answer....
In the Interests of Consistency
06/26/2006 - James WhiteI have added Ergun Caner's response to Tom Ascol's letter to the pdf file. Sorry to keep making you download the same file, but it's easier to keep it in one place, I guess. The irony is that I had posted Tom's e-mail last night, though Caner evidently did not bother to check that before firing off this missive, and hence implies we would not want it made public. As I mentioned last evening, I will discuss this situation on the DL tomorrow, but then I am focusing upon other projects until I return from the UK. At that point I will write an open letter to Dr. Caner, going back to the initial challenge I made to him, and, on the basis of his own current claims, demonstrate how we must proceed if, in fact, his claims to actually want a debate are true. If he is, in fact, just trying to find a way to get out of the debate through being offensive and irrational, that won't work, and that will be that. Here is this morning's installment of "As Liberty Turns." I will not be replying to it. I don't believe Tom will be either, at least not for now. Given the documentation of the past four months, we could take up to a month to respond without any problems.
26 June 2006The updated file of the current correspondence is still here.
Dear Dr Ascol:
Well, for the first time in this discussion, I have come to the conclusion that posting private correspondence, which usually takes place between Christian gentlemen behind the scenes, might be helpful if posted. This is one e-mail that I believe should be posted, but I doubt if you will do it. This will stay private, or scrubbed, much like Brad Reynolds exchanges:
1. For the record, your quote of my words at the SBC was correct. I did use the word “pimped.”
2. I do love the fact that Dr. Falwell is willing to give this debate as big a stage as possible.
3. He believes, as we do, that this is a vital issue in the SBC, and MUST be confronted to as large a crowd as possible.
4. Of course, since no one is making any money on this debate (as Emir and I stipulated- no tickets and no “entry fees”) your concern over being “prostituted” is not really valid.
5. HOWEVER, before you storm off...please do not feel too superior. Would it change the equation if we were offering to pay you for doing a CRUISE to teach?
6. Yes, Dr. Ascol, we understand your desire not to be pimped. Does that extend to traveling on a cruise with Dr. White...along with others...for free...as the advertised speaker? Apparently I am not as accomplished at this “pimping” thing...
I am sorry you feel the way you do, Dr. Ascol.
And On a Completely Different Note
06/25/2006 - James WhiteI spoke three times on Sunday at PRBC. In the Sunday School I began addressing Frank Page's book on Calvinism. In the Sunday morning service I began a series on baptism, continued in the evening service, specifically looking at the texts in Acts used to promote household baptism as normative. Yes, this relevant to, and in preparation for, the October 19th debate with Pastor Bill Shishko on baptism up on Long Island. No, I don't have the details of the location yet. All I know is, Bill is my brother (he even admits I'm his!), this is a debate between two Christians that will be undertaken in the bonds of Christian love, a shared commitment to the Lordship of Christ, and the edification of God's people. And for that reason, I am looking forward to it. For those who do not know Bill Shishko, he is the pastor of the Franklin Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Long Island, and has moderated the past number of Great Debates on Long Island. He has been greatly appreciated for his ability to keep things running on time and without delays. He will be a great debate partner even though we will be adversaries in this context. Anyway, I've been listening to his presentations and debates on baptism, and hence am addressing the same issues in my sermons. When these pages are updated, you will find the Sunday School lesson here, and the sermons here.
So, You Tell Me....
06/25/2006 - James WhiteThe e-mails are running 70-30. Seventy percent want me to press forward, hold my nose, and let the truth do the speaking on October 16th. Thirty percent say, "These men are not serious, there is no way to reason with them, get out while you still can."
I would like nothing better than to never have anything to do with the likes of Ergun Caner again. You will note I am not referring to him as "brother." I've grown tired of trying to bend over backwards and absorb his constant insults while going, "Oh, he's just a brother with tradition issues." No, the man is mean-spirited, angry, insolent, and has an ego as big as the Glamour Shots on his website. I am definitely the victim of trying way too hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt. One of my many, many faults.
Stephen Morse just posted this on his blog:
Later as I heard him destroy Romans 9 in a sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church, I simply wrote him off as an angry, yipping puppy. His rhetoric and vitrolic verbage doesn't interest me in the least and it makes him look like a jr. high punk....The longer I read the interaction between Drs White and Caner though, I struggle to see the difference. The more they dialogue the more they are beginning to look like each other....Dr. White... Give it up already. Who cares what they (the Caner ilk) think of you... those who respect you and enjoy your ministry are beginning to think ill of you. It won't make you look any better and it certainly doesn't reflect well on your testimony of Christ's work when you end up looking as bad as they do! Be the bigger man and let the little boys have their fun... it doesn't reflect on you at all but when you join them at their tired ploys... it does.Yes, it is devastating, after having invested so much effort to carefully, painstakingly respond to each claim, demonstrate the twisting of facts, the straw-man argumentation, and the like, that Ergun Caner, a seminary president no less, has been throwing out over the past four months, to be accused of starting to look like Caner himself. It truly makes you wonder if it is ever worth giving an answer. But there are many who think as Pastor Morse. Some of my closest friends have said, "James, drop it. That man is beyond all reason. He just wants a show, he does not want a debate. Give it up." Now, I happen to agree with them. Ergun Caner is no serious scholar, he is no serious theologian. He is the Baptist version of Art Sippo. The fact that he has done everything in his power to avoid every demonstration of his errors as well as avoid ever putting himself in a position of having to actually debate me--you know, actually interact, get to the text, demonstrate you know what you are talking about---proves that point. On that level the correspondence files alone have ended any and all scholarly or apologetic credibility Caner ever wanted for himself. And given his behavior, honestly, all we have to do is sit back and he will implode on his own. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
I'm at a Loss for Words
06/23/2006 - James WhiteI have added Ergun's morning installment to As Liberty Turns to the pdf I created yesterday, along with my response. I am so tired of the whole thing I am not even going to bother posting it here on the blog in its entirety. As normal, I have responded to each of his points (a courtesy he has almost never extended to me), so it is rather lengthy. Here is the updated version. Hopefully using the same file name won't cause anyone download problems. It is now twenty pages long in pdf format, so if you don't have twenty pages, you have the old version. I am so very thankful that I took the barbs of many to post the correspondence starting back in February. As you will see in today's exchange, Ergun Caner is completely rewriting history, and I am able to quote his own words to correct his imaginative reconstruction of the past.
In any case, do pray about this situation. It truly seems to me that the Caners are doing everything in their power to make us lose all hope that anything could possibly be accomplished by pressing forward with this debate. Only the prayers of God's people will be able to restrain the spirits of men that evening so that His truth will be made known.
This Speaks For Itself
06/23/2006 - James WhiteTo be honest, this kind of correspondence deeply saddens me. I am hesitant to post it, but I do so for mainly one reason: it seems the Caners are doing all they can to force any logically thinking person to run from even considering trying to engage in meaningful dialogue and debate with them. They are insisting upon their incoherent thesis without ever bothering to explain what it allegedly means; and now they are plainly stating that, unlike all the challenges first provided to them, the debate will be on "Omnibenevolence." In my response I will provide documentation from Caner's own keyboard demonstrating that once again he is trying to change history. But the following truly speaks for itself.
23 June 2006
Dear Dr White:
Once again, for those who are not revising history, I have decided to respond. As a Christian and a gentleman, I do want all to know that I shall copy this e-mail to others, and will more than likely post it on all websites, as soon as I get time. Unlike others, I do not have time to spend every waking moment cyberstalking.
Emir, I will handle this one, and then I shall leave this alone. October is the time for this- not four months prior. If Dr White wants to actually debate on level ground without stomping his feet and whining, then we shall have a debate, on the topic to which we all agreed.
1. You stated that the topic has been “demonstrated to be incoherent.” Actually, the moderator, who has won almost twenty national debate championships, has noted the topic was valid. The large number of encouraging e-mails we have received have seen this as coherent. Apparently the only people who imagine the topic as incoherent are those who simply do not want to debate God’s omnibenevolence. So, if you and your people do not want to debate, simply say so. We want to debate the topic. Just because you do not LIKE the topic does not mean it is invalid. You want us to define our terms before the debate, which is illogical. Defining terms is part of the purpose of debate. I see no reason to play my cards now. The debate is in October. Not now.
2. You continue to use man-made terms that you and those of your ilk want to revise (monergism and synergism, hyper Calvinism, etc.). You continue to prove our point- MOST evangelicals, including the millions who support Dr. Falwell, do not adhere to a 16th century movement , or 17th century Dortian parameters. We use biblical terms, in the biblical context.
3. As for your continued reference to my Esau statement, please continue to do so. The full biblical context of Esau, and others that you can cite, is clearly in OUR court.
4. As a matter of fact, this is a perfect illustration of the debate. In our brief history:
A. You called for the debate, speaking to your minions on your internet show.
B. We had no desire to debate you, since Dr Geisler had already adequately answered you.
C. You e-mailed that Dr. Geisler had NOT adequately answered you, which either illustrates your lack of clarity or blind adherence to your philosophical system of Augustinian predeterminism.
D. Finally, I agreed, but only if you were not allowed to narrow the debate. That is your manipulation of which we are all so fond.
E. The topic was resolved.
F. Then you whined about the time. Even though presidential debates are shorter, you somehow believed you deserve a bigger stage.
G. We offered the site. LU shall swallow the costs of taping. You are still not satisfied.
H. You want to narrow the topic, to fit your liking, and lengthen the time. That is not going to happen. Debate on a level surface.
Let me quickly add that I have not seen Dr. Ascol in this same light. Even though he and I would disagree vehemently on the topic, I have found him a calm Christian gentleman. I do believe we will be able to debate fairly, across the spectrum of Calvinism and Baptist theology.
Dr. White, in Oct 1960, Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the desk of the UN. He screamed “we will bury you!” His boorish behavior was followed by interrupting speakers, and loudly proclaiming his victory. I see parallels. Apparently, you believe this is all for show. That would be backed up by the fact that you cannot sneeze without posting it on your site.
James, you claim that we do not understand doctrines? Well, if that is the case, we stand in the stream of the vast majority of evangelicals who will not accept your doctrines of reprobation. In truth, we clearly understand, and we do not buy into it. We refuse to be categorized as Calvinism or Arminianism, Augustinianism or Pelagianism. I am a biblicist and a Baptist.
And neither will we be manipulated (my students call it being “punked”) into a limited debate topic, or a protracted debate time.
Either come, or don’t. Either debate the topic or admit you do not want to. In either case, Emir and I, and our respective schools, shall be there, on Monday, October 16, 2006, to debate the Omnibenevolence of God.
Until then, I shall just smile, every time I receive some e-mail. Every single e-mail proves our point. Neo-Calvinists cannot answer our points, so you attack us. Classic ad hominem. If our system of theology has brought disrepute to Christian theology, because we do not believe in neo-Calvinism, then we will gladly stand in that stream. From Norman Geisler and C.S. Lewis all the way back, we have church history, and logical biblical thought on our side.
I hope to see you October 16, 2006. And please, find your own URLs. You seem to have much more time than I do to do these things.
Wow, What a Day
06/22/2006 - James WhiteOK, you know how you come into your place of business in the morning with an idea of what you are going to try to get done? And know the feeling at the end of the day when you realize that though you have hardly taken the time to take a deep breath you didn't get anything at all done of what you had originally planned? Yeah, that's today.
OK, well, if you want to sit at your screen and stare and sort of drool and go, "No way...no, can't be...he just said that? What?" then don't forget today's "As Liberty Turns" installment, found here. I couldn't make this kind of stuff up if I tried.
On the DL today I went over the Caner situation (prior to getting his final reply, please note), then took calls on that situation and, for some reason today, textual critical questions. Today's DL is found here.
Finally, Sam Shamoun has written two articles I'd like to refer you to. Shabir Ally has put together some replies regarding our debate, and Sam has replied to them. Here is his article. He has also written this article which may be of interest to my readers. Well, almost anything Sam writes will be of interest to my readers for that matter, so here is his main index page. Bookmark it, and remember to pray for brother Sam. He knows the meaning of being "in the trenches" like few others do.
Major Developments in the Lynchburg Debate Saga UPDATED
06/22/2006 - James WhiteWell, as some of you have been wondering what has been going on regarding the October 16th debate in Lynchburg with Ergun and Emir Caner. I had sent a note to Dr. O'Donnell once again, since it had been a full month since we had first contacted him, and had asked that he respond by the 20th. He replied on the 21st. I replied the same day, and this morning Ergun Caner's response arrived (though, for some reason, it was not sent to me, I had to get it through Rich Pierce).
I have been criticized for posting these e-mails. I believe this interaction will vindicate that decision, at least for those who value truth and honesty. Anyone with access to the first two correspondence files (found here and here) along with this new one (found here) has a full basis upon which to judge the behavior of everyone involved, including myself. But just to quote a portion of my response to Dr. Caner today:
Well, Dr. Caner, though I had, in my worst moments, considered that this was indeed your mindset and your purpose, I had never expected to receive written confirmation of it. But you have provided it anyway. I am simply amazed.
OK, evidently, you are saying the following:
1. This is our house. We will do what we please.
2. We choose the format. Tough if you don't like it. Tough if nobody uses it in theological debates. Tough if it doesn't allow for meaningful and extensive cross-examination like you do with others. We don't want that anyway.
3. We choose the thesis statement. We will not answer your questions about it. We will not respond to the fact that it could just as easily be used by a universalist. Tough. We like ambiguity. Live with it.
4. We would rather behave like this in private, please.
5. If you don't like it, go away. Otherwise, show up. It's not important to us. We are part of the biggest university around and you are no more important than spam anyway.
Seems like a fairly good summary to me.
You will have to read the file to believe it. But there it is.
Now, ironically, Ergun Caner began his e-mail this morning by noting that Emir had called him to bring his attention to it. Emir Caner is a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Ironically, until a couple of hours ago, I was scheduled to speak in an apologetics conference at Southwestern in September, the night after Kirk Cameron spoke, and the night before Emir Caner was to speak. I was scheduled to speak on Mormonism and related subjects. Now, I guess it could just be a massive coincidence, but out of the blue (I had been told to purchase my airline tickets only a few days ago) I was just disinvited from speaking and have been replaced on the program with a discussion of the Word Faith movement (revised schedule here). I asked if Dr. Caner was still speaking. He is. Evidently the change in direction for the apologetics conference was from speaking about groups like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses to speaking about the Word Faith Movement. Well, stranger things have happened.
Once you read through the new correspondence document, you will be up to speed. We have tried to set up a debate long enough to really engage the text of Scripture. Liberty won't have it. We have tried to use the best format available, allowing for lots of interaction and cross-examination. Nope, won't happen. So we are left with a 2.5 hour debate, parliamentary style format, and a thesis statement understandable only upon translation into Tongan. But we will do all we can to make the freedom of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ clear as best we can in the situation in which we have been placed.
UPDATE Dr. Caner has replied. I have placed his reply, and mine, in the above linked pdf. Here is the text:
Dr. White, as one who debates so often, you should know- attempting to change the topic of debate is a concession of defeat. I am thrilled you have posted your response. We have apparently found one of the many topics that are the hyper Calvinist’s weakness.
And thank you for proving my thesis concerning manipulation.
We shall be there, Oct 16, to debate the stated topic.
Emir, please make sure we post these interchanges as well. I keep getting e-mails from his own camp, confused by his stance.
Dear Dr. Caner:
Yes, changing the topic normally is such an indication. Of course, what confuses me, and anyone else, is how you could possibly read what I sent to you and think that I am changing the topic. Your thesis statement has been demonstrated to be incoherent. You have refused to respond to any of the criticisms I have offered of it. Given that you have had plenty of time to do so, I can only conclude that you do not, in fact, have the ability to respond to the questions asked of you regarding your statement.
Next, I have offered a plain, clear statement that directly addresses the difference between your synergistic system wherein God tries, but fails, to save each and every human being, and my monergistic stance wherein God "works all things in accordance with the counsel of His will" and saves every single one of those the Father gives to the Son through the perfect work of the Son on Calvary and the perfect work of the Spirit who brings spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead at the exact time the divine Trinity determines. Everyone knows this is the issue, and to say that focusing upon whether God seeks to save every individual equally or whether He has an elect people chosen solely by His good pleasure is changing the topic of a debate on Calvinism only shows, once again, sir, that you have no idea what you've been preaching against all along.
Finally, as it has been proven, repeatedly, your dishonest use of the term "hyper-Calvinism" is a canard, and to be honest, much more of an indication of "defeat" than an accurate representation of the difference between monergism and synergism. I am once again left simply speechless by such a retort. Given that you are the man who stood before thousands of people and television cameras and turned Romans 9:11-13 on its head, preaching the most incredible example of eisegesis I think I've ever heard, I truly wonder if you have applied the same kind of eisegetical reading skills on the e-mail you received (and to which, evidently, you have no meaningful response?).
And thank you for proving my thesis concerning manipulation.Given that you do not offer any foundation for your statement, I will have to take this as an indication that you cannot provide evidence of "manipulation," and admit such.
We shall be there, Oct 16, to debate the stated topic.Whatever it means. :-) I.e., "We demand this thesis statement. We will not explain it. We will not defend its awkward phrasing, its ambiguity, the fact that it could actually be used by heretics. It is our thesis statement. We demand you use it, or we will claim you lose!" Sorry, I can do nothing more at this point but smile. What else can be said?
Emir, please make sure we post these interchanges as well. I keep getting e-mails from his own camp, confused by his stance.Yes, please do post them. All of them. In completeness, as you yourself requested, Dr. Caner, initially. And please send me the URLs. I'd like to have reference to them. All of mine can be found listed on my blog at www.aomin.org.
Hide, or Don't Hide, the Credit Cards! :-)
06/21/2006 - James WhiteMike over at Solid Ground let me know of a big inventory reduction sale they have going at the moment, including some great stuff on justification and all. I like to let you know when folks like Solid Ground offer great deals since these kinds of books just don't appear very often on the shelves of your local Christian bookstore...well, at least most Christian bookstores I encounter, anyway. I know there are some out there that have doctrinal standards, but let's face it, they are few and far between. There's all sorts of stuff on this sale list. Lots of stuff on justification, the covenant, and I noted some of Tom Nettles' books there, too. So take a look, if you dare. Go ahead. The wifey went grocery shopping. She'll never know. [ big grin ] Here's the list.
Today on the DL
06/20/2006 - James WhiteWell, definitely an interesting program today. Started out with Karl Keating's e-letter and some stuff about comments on Jimmy Akin's blog. Then we talked about the PCUSA moving to adopt new terminology for the Trinity, like "Mother, Child, and Womb." I'm not making this up. Then I looked at Greg Boyd's attempt to get around John 9. Then, in response to the invitation/challenge I posted last night, "Shane," who had posted a number of things about me on Jimmy Akin's blog, had the courage to call in, so we talked the last twenty some odd minutes of the program. Shane is going to call back when he has the documentation he needs to back up his accusation that I engaged in dishonest behavior in my last debate with Tim Staples. I look forward to hearing from him. And while he's looking things up, he might want to check out this article, and this one, too. They might help! All in all a very interesting hour. Here's the program.
Note on the Dividing Line / Liberty Debate Issues
06/19/2006 - James WhiteDue to summer time scheduling issues, tomorrow's Dividing Line will again have to be at the normal Thursday time of 4pm MST/PDT, 7pm EDT. This would be a great time for all those folks on Jimmy Akin's blog, who seem to know so much about me, like "Shane," to give me a ring so we can talk about stuff. It is so odd that folks will accuse me of being "brave behind the keyboard" when I host a program twice a week with a toll free number, and when I challenge them to put feet to their accusations, well, all of a sudden they are so very busy whenever the DL is on, they just can't pick up that phone! I would love to respond to the accusations of "cheap debating tricks" that Shane and others have posted, given that the litany of cheap debating tricks used by Roman Catholic apologists over the years that I could list, and document, is long indeed. I especially liked the one about how I allegedly try to make Roman Catholic apologists look bad by pronouncing Greek words differently than they do. I had not heard that one before. Anyway, the DL will be live, the phone lines open.
Also, tomorrow is the 20th, and as you may have seen, that was the day I requested a final response from the Caners on why Dr. O'Donnell, the head of the debate program at Liberty University, has refused to respond to any correspondence from the opposing side. Obviously, if you will not even show the kindness of responding to requests for information, you cannot function as the moderator, since you are, again, obviously biased toward one side. Hence, unless I have an e-mail explaining this situation tomorrow, we will be discussing our need to obtain a fair, unbiased moderator, which again opens up the subject of agreeing to a meaningful debate format that allows for the very kind of biblically-based interaction that the audience so clearly wants to see and experience.
Another Reason Why I Do Not Have "Comments"
06/19/2006 - James WhiteOne of the greatest draw-backs to "comments" sections is they allow people to post lies, innuendo, and rumor with impugnity. The thread on Akin's blog, for example, on his hit-piece against me (you know, the "Mr. Kettle, Mr. Pot is on line one, something about color?" post?), has taken a complete left turn into a Roman Catholic debate over the merits or demerits of Peter Stravinskas, my opponent in the purgatory debate on Long Island a few years ago. Oddly, none of the Catholics claimed Stravinskas won that debate. A number admitted that in public debate I have performed professionally and respectfully. Anyway, mentioning that debate started things off, and I didn't even follow how many comments came after that, but it added up to many pages. In any case, earlier, a completely anonymous person identified only as "Chris," with no contact information, posted the following hit-piece:
I'm a reformed baptist, and thus I am to a certain degree a fan of James White. I do have to say though, that whilst he appears to be a reasonable sort of fellow on the Dividing Line etc, to try and have a sensible interaction with either him or the rest of his cohort, whether the others at aomin, or his group in the Phoenix church, is near impossible. To even raise questions to him/them about other points of view gets a very antagonistic attitude. To try and get even a semi-intelligent response from them on IRC is impossible too. Sorry James, I'm torn. In some ways I like the work you are doing. In other ways I think you've become very insular.See what I mean? How do you respond to something like this? It is grossly unfair for some anonymous person to make such personal, cutting, unfair, and untrue, comments in such a context and in such a fashion as to preclude any meaningful response. The chances are very, very good that this person is not even a Reformed Baptist at all. But if he is, I challenge him to contact me. I'd love to know what nick he allegedly used in our channel (I have logs---it's amazing what you find when you go back and look at what was actually said). When did this person visit my church? How about providing some specifics? This kind of "knife in the back---anonymously, of course" attack is disgusting, but the Internet, and nigh-unto unmoderated comments threads that often take on the aura of a feeding frenzy, encourage them.
By the way. Insular? Traveling more widely than ever, studying whole new areas of scholarship, and I'm becoming insular? What an odd statement.
Lana from Nashville Writes:
06/19/2006 - James White
Dear Sir...I'm writing to inform you that, first off, you're a liar. Perhaps that is too strong a word. Maybe you are just too stupid to check your facts before publishing something so blatantly wrong and misdirected. Let me first correct you by saying Geron Davis & Kindred Souls were not the group that led in worship at the event you refer to in your article published on your website on 7/1/05. You say "after watching portions of that program..." referring to the Pastor's Conference at the SBC last June in Nashville, TN. Not real sure who you saw, but I can tell you it was not GD&KS. Their name was on the program (as you VERIFIED) but they were not at this event. I would like to say and think that had you actually seen Geron Davis & Kindred Souls lead in worship you MIGHT have been blessed. I'm not sure, however. After spending some time this evening perusing your website and your "beliefs" it seems that you have a veil over your eyes Mr. White. Let me tell you what I DO know. I DO know that Geron Davis is a man who loves the Lord and loves people. He is a man who is full of unconditional love for people from every walk of life. I've never known anyone who knows as many people as Geron Davis and no one who is loved by more people than he is. He has, personally, been an example to me of what it means to love people with the love of Christ. His ministry is a viable ministry that touches the lives and souls of people around this country. I work for his minsitry and happen to know of the countless people who have come to know the Lord, experienced miraculous healing, prodicals who have returned home, & lives restored to Christ through what he and Kindred Souls do on a weekly basis. I also KNOW that Geron Davis and Kindred Souls are good friends...and in good standing...with many Southern Baptist constituents around the country. Another thing I DO know is the Bible talks about those who cause dissention among the brethren...that those are men who lend themselves to the work of the devil. I've thought about what the purpose would be to publish something that is just, first...wrong and then why you would want to try and discredit someone's ministry? I can't wrap my mind around anything other than just evilness. What exactly is it you do Mr. White to promote the Kingdom of God? To help those who do not know Christ, come to know Him? To lend a hand of support to those in need of a spiritual boost? Honestly WHAT does your ministry do to glorify God? Fighting? Arguing? Stirring up dissension? Bullying? Lying? Where is THAT in the scripture? Mr. White, you clearly are knowledgeable about the Word of God, but it seems you lack wisdom and revelation about how to apply it to your life. I pray that you might consider a different approach in your ministry. Maybe consider taking a path that doesn't include attacking those in ministry that ARE making a difference for the Kingdom of God. Hey..I got it...go into any Lifeway Christian store and pick up some of Geron Davis and Kindred Souls music. You know...those are the ones affiliated with the SBC!!! If anything...at least you'll know what they LOOK LIKE!!!...
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06/17/2006 - James WhiteHow do you let a ridiculous situation just die? Every time Jimmy Akin and I trade blog articles I throw my hands up in frustration before long realizing that there is nothing that can be said that cannot be parsed into oblivion if someone is willing to go to such lengths. Surely this is not the first time I've encountered someone who will constantly accuse you of doing what their own writings demonstrate they are intent on practicing with regularity and evidently impugnity. The "double standard meter" I installed a while back on my system exploded as I read the next installment on Akin's blog. But I'm finally getting old enough to realize there is simply nothing you can do about such things. Speak the truth, realize lots of folks are not listening to what you are saying and are so biased and prejudiced against you they will believe whatever they want to believe, and trust the rest to the Lord. I would love to simply drop all of this, but there is one thing that needs to be addressed, aside from the "You are so mean and that's why nobody will debate you, you obnoxious, mean-spirited dolt" kind of stuff. And that is the issue of ad-hominem.
Words have meanings. In debate (which is what apologists do, at least once in a while---Akin has done so as well, though not very often), the term has a fixed meaning. Here is that accepted, fixed meaning:
An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of "argument" has the following form:Look again at the alleged ad-hominems Akin noted in my own blog. Obviously, if I were to take his writings and mark off everything I could possibly take as merely offensive, or, even more, every term that disagrees with my own conclusions, I could accuse him of being a mean-spirited, ad-hominem using, insulting Catholic apologist. But that accomplishes nothing relevant to the truth. And this insistence upon expanding this phraseology out to where it can cover basically anything at all considered "offensive" is just another illustration of how empty this kind of thing is. Rather than focusing upon the real issue ("is the Corban rule, as viewed by the Jews in the days of Jesus, relevant to how we should test Rome's claims today?"), 90% of the rhetoric that has been posted has in fact been ad-hominem itself: "White's arguments are to be dismissed because he has a character flaw---he's mean!" The irony is thick on this one.
1. Person A makes claim X.
2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
3. Therefore A's claim is false.
The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).(source)
Oh, one other thing: listeners to the DL will note that in admitting his error relating to Greek that I had never "contacted" him about it Akin has once again proven the thesis that the folks at CA just don't think there is anything worth knowing about what folks "out here" are saying. Remember when I played the phone call from the Roman Catholic to Akin who challenged him on this very point and raised my own refutations of his statements? See, if the Catholics put out a claim or argument, it is our job to obtain their materials and respond thereto. If we refute their claims, we are supposed to call them at home to do their research for them. Just amazing. He then complains that I have never admitted an error regarding Greek or anything else. First, that's false. Second, Jimmy Akin hasn't been busy proving me wrong. And given this kind of rhetoric, and the hit pieces he's posted in the past, he's not overly intent upon getting in that kind of apologetics business any time soon, either.
But that is it for me. I need to get back to Pulpit Crimes. I am preaching for four weeks at PRBC soon; teaching at the School of Theology in London soon; have a little debate on baptism to be preparing for with Bill Shishko, and another with John Shelby Spong a few weeks after that. I will let what I'm writing and the presentations I'm doing give testimony as to who is doing serious, biblically based, full-orbed apologetics work.
Quick Conference Note
06/17/2006 - James WhiteJeff Downs has organized a conference that those of you back east should be aware of. Read about it here.
The Results of Misrepresentation
06/16/2006 - James WhiteWhile no end of interesting illustrations could be mined from continuing to review Jimmy Akin's desperate attempt to avoid admitting he simply doesn't care to keep abreast with developments in his area of self-professed expertise, I likewise find the task most distasteful. I have not invested much time perusing the comments on Akin's blog, but I did look through a few of them. I have no problems whatsoever with those who have blogs that in essence are web-boards with specific topics introduced by a single person or group of people. Isn't that what many blogs have become? Akin writes an article. It has a particular topic. Then, the comments section becomes a "thread" with all sorts of folks chiming in. How is that at all different than the web-boards that populate the Internet and that I have found to be an endless black-hole into which you could quite honestly pour the entirety of your waking hours and never plumb the bottom? The only difference I can see is that on such blogs, one person, or group of people, get to determine the threads. Other than that, I see no difference. Now, I noted numerous complaints that I do not allow comments on this blog. Why? For the same reason we do not have a web-board. It would mean the end of writing books, chapters, articles, or anything else, as well as the end of debate preparation, research, etc. If someone wants to read the wide variety of opinions on theology and apologetics held by those who frequent the Internet, there are tens of thousands of sites that will allow you to do so. There are far fewer places where you can go and read about apologetics and theology from a Reformed Baptist perspective in words by someone who is directly involved in practicing that form of apologetics. I see little benefit in setting up a mud puddle at the bottom of each article so that those who wish to have a ready supply of mud can fling it with gusto and zeal. Let's face it. Some who write comments have good insights. But the insightful and meaningful comment is the exception, not the rule. The majority of comments, especially in apologetics threads, are made by those who lack any foundation upon which to speak, and I simply see no reason to provide a platform for the expression of the collective ignorance of the "religious Internet."
By the way, for those who have become completely confused, it is not ad-hominem argumentation (or even an expression of mean-spiritedness) to refer to someone as "ignorant." I am ignorant of many things. Wide swaths of human knowledge mock me by painting me as the ignorant man I am. Anyone who takes offense at the use of the term is muddled, pure and simple. And when it comes to theology and apologetics, ignorance abounds...and is evidently quite blissful as well (to fulfill another popular proverb).
One comment left on Akin's blog was posted in our chat channel, and I checked it out. It gives me a good segue into some commentary on the continuing Caner saga:
Aha, I just noticed that James White is a Reformed Protestant, believing in the Calvinist doctrine that God predestined some people for hell; in fact, that God CREATED some people KNOWING that they would go to hell and spend their eternal existance in utter torment....
If he can worship such a god, I know I can't. That's what drove me away from Protestantism in the first place.
But if he does believe in "preservation of the saints," then James White can rest easy when it comes to MY soul, because I did "accept Jesus as my savior" in a Protestant church. According to Calvinism, I could now engage in witchcraft or become a mass murderer with no repentenance to the very end, and I would still enter heaven. Makes converting to Catholicism look rather innocent by comparison!
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Continuing with Akin and False Charges of Ad-Hominem Argumentation
06/15/2006 - James WhiteI continue responding to Jimmy Akin and his blog articles. I am aware another has been posted, and given the string of, well, simply amazing comments posted as well, we once again observe the same kind of behavior we observed last year regarding the Catholic Answers forums and the Envoy forums. In any case, Akin continues,
Notice that he's begun with an ad hominem. My post was titled "Korban & Sola Scriptura," because I was interested in talking about an issue rather than an individual, but for White the headline--the first thing he wants his readers to see in introducing the matter--is to say something nasty about me.
Let's track the amazing double standard that appears in this blog entry. I documented, thoroughly, that Jimmy Akin, as the head of apologetics for Catholic Answers had attempted to respond to a question that related to me and my arguments related to probably the key issue between us, sola scriptura. In documenting this I demonstrated that Jimmy Akin, by saying (and proving by his poor reply) that he was unfamiliar with what I was saying about the Corban rule, is a decade behind in his research. Either he does not care what people write in response to articles in This Rock magazine, or say in debates against folks like Mitchell Pacwa, etc., or he doesn't think anyone can come up with any kind of argument that is worth his notice. In any case, I find it somewhat humorous that Akin would take the title as "nasty." Nasty? Saying he is a decade behind in doing the research or study I would think would be part and parcel of his regular duties as the lead staff apologist at Catholic Answers is "nasty"? Well, OK. I invite folks to wander past a single blog entry by Art Sippo, or the Envoy message board, or even the comments section on Akin's blog right now, and get an eyeful of "nasty." Not even a comparison.
I was informed today that Jimmy Akin had made some comments regarding sola scriptura, the Corban rule, and my comments on the subject.
Actually, the third point was a piece of misinformation: I did not comment on White's comments. I deliberately avoided doing so.
Yes, I'm certain all of Mr. Akin's readers got just that impression from his original article. I'm sure everyone took this statement, "I haven't read or heard specifically what James White may have been doing with this passage, but it is a staple of Protestant anti-Catholic apologetics" which was then followed by a discussion of this "staple" of Protestant anti-Catholic apologetics and an alleged refutation thereof, to mean, "I do not know what White says, and I am not commenting on it at all, and in fact, I am carefully avoiding commenting on what White says, since I don't know, but instead, I am commenting on something completely different, because I'm sure White is not a Protestant anti-Catholic, and he would never be presenting the Corban rule in the same way as all the others." I'm sure everyone reading the article got that very impression, and no one was actually thinking that Akin's comments had any relevance to me at all. Well, except for the fellow who dropped me a note about the article. He somehow missed that part. ...
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Jimmy Akin and the Actual Definition of "Ad-Hominem Argumentation"
06/14/2006 - James WhiteI confess, if I had written what Jimmy Akin posted on his blog recently, I would not be calling into webcasts that have fairly wide-ranging audiences to advertise it. And I likewise do not know why Mr. Akin would suggest that responding to his personal attack post would in any way alter what I said in response to his discussion of the Corban rule. But, since he called The Dividing Line and raised the issue, I will take the time, somewhat reluctantly, to respond.
James White has periodically complained about certain Catholic apologists not wanting to interact with him, and this week I was reminded of why.Correction: I do not seek "interaction" with Catholic apologists. I don't want to go by Starbucks and hang out a while. What I have noted is the unwillingness of certain Catholic apologists to defend their position and do their homework. There is a major difference. I have challenged Catholic Answers to debate various issues, and as you can see by scanning through the three dozen or so debates we have with leading Catholic apologists, they are not at the top of the list for being willing to respond (if you don't include Matatics, anyway, and believe me, they don't want to be reminded he was once their poster-boy convert-apologist). I likewise linked, in my previous response, to a number of historical situations where they have taken demonstrably false and cheap shots in the past. My "complaint" at this point was simple: if someone wrote to me and said, "Why does Jimmy Akin make such a big deal about [fill in the subject]?" and I did not have Akin's books or was unwilling to even do a web search of his on-line materials, I would not reply by saying he was presenting a "common anti-Protestant ploy and here is why it is wrong." I would ask where he has made these statements, check my resources, look at his books, and interact from there. Akin did not do so, and as a result, he gave his correspondent a surface-level, and in fact, misleading and false response. It's just that simple.
Now, Mr. Akin has, in the past, used sources with such solid reputations as Texe Marrs to attack me personally. In this blog article he includes some great lines. I wonder what prompted such a shrill reply? Perhaps his unwillingness to simply say, "Oh, I'm sorry, my response was, in fact, incorrect and misleading"? Now, if Mr. Akin wants to publicly say, "I do not believe it is my job to know what Protestant apologists believe," that's his right. I wish he'd come right out and say it. But given that I purchase, and read, not only his books, but those of Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, etc., and have many times played sections from their radio program on The Dividing Line and interacted with their claims (refuting them where necessary), I can at least say that when I comment on their beliefs, I am doing so on the basis of direct reading, as an apologist should. Now, it is clear that the primary goal of Catholic Answers has been, for a very long time, to marginalize, often through the liberal use of mockery and sarcasm, anyone who responds directly to them. Here is an example from 1994. While they wish to make it seem that I am obsessed with...me, the fact is it would not matter who it was who was pointing out, and documenting, the errors in their arguments. I would simply ask Mr. Akin, or Mr. Keating, or Mr. Staples, a few basic questions. If they are apologists, then who are they studying who opposes them within the sphere of Reformed and Evangelical Christianity? Who has published books directly citing them of late, responding to their own arguments? Who has done around three dozen moderated, public debates against their leading apologists? Given how much time they spend going after Jack Chick, are they seriously suggesting that Chick provides a deeper, more challenging critique of Roman Catholic theology than that offered by myself, or Bill Webster, or Eric Svendsen, or David King? Is it really a wise apologetic stance to simply refuse to grant legitimacy to those who take you on directly, and by name? How many of their critics have published as many books in as wide a variety of areas? How many have taught Greek and Hebrew, Church History, and the like? There may have been a day, back in, say, July of 1990, when they could dismiss me as irrelevant. But they need to remember, they challenged me to my first debate. Now the "he's not credible, he's not relevant" argument just doesn't work. ...
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Southern Baptist Convention, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Jimmy Akin on the Dividing Line
06/13/2006 - James WhiteAnd when I say Jimmy Akin, I mean it. He called the program (right at the end...we went long to give him enough time). The first 40 minutes or so included clips from sermons at the Southern Baptist Convention and a discussion of the dogged unwillingness of many to address the important issues with any sense of seriousness; then we took a call on Jehovah's Witnesses, then we talked with Jimmy Akin. He wanted to point out that he had actually written two replies to me, and I had only commented on one, and he was correct. I had not seen the first he had written, which is found here. Now, I will be glad to reply to it (brief summary: try to dismiss those who are responding to your materials all you wish: the fact remains sola scriptura is a key topic, my argument has been out there in print, being discussed in debates, for over a decade, and if you want to be the "director of apologetics and evangelization" for an organization that has often started its radio programs (over the strains of Yanni) as one of the "largest and most trusted apologetics and evangelization organizations in America," you shouldn't be willing to give surface-level replies that show you do not listen to those who are giving replies to your claims), but given the "heat" of the article, I may give it a few days to cool off. Besides, I will be out of pocket for a few days anyway, so we will see. Anyway, here is today's Dividing Line.
Letter to Dr. O'Donnell and the Caners, 6/13/06
06/13/2006 - James WhiteThe following e-mail was sent to Ergun Caner, Emir Caner, Brent O'Donnell, Tom Ascol, and Rich Pierce at 3:28pm MST, June 13, 2006.
Allow me to state right up front that in light of the public nature of the debate and the issues that separate us, I will be posting all attempts at communication concurrently on my website.
On May 13th, 2006, I began adding Dr. O'Donnell's e-mail address to the cc list of our communications. Since that time we have asked a number of direct questions of Dr. O'Donnell relating to the format that has been proposed by the Caners. We have asked for a bibliography of texts used at Liberty, and the rule book that Dr. O'Donnell would be using, so that we might be able to evaluate the format to see if it would provide sufficient interaction for a real debate to actually take place. And though my system has received return receipts from Dr. O'Donnell's e-mail address for each of the e-mails sent to him, as of this date, a full month later, we have received no replies from Dr. O'Donnell.
I realize it is possible that there might be a few extreme reasons why Dr. O'Donnell has not engaged in any correspondence whatsoever on this issue in a full month now. It is possible there has been some tragedy in his family, a death or the like, that has taken him far away from any means of communication. It is possible he is in Nairobi doing missions work amongst tribal peoples where there is no electricity or access to the Internet. But barring these rather unlikely scenarios, it seems Dr. O'Donnell has simply chosen not to provide us with the kindness of even a short, "Busy until June X working on a book, won't be able to respond till then..." type of e-mail.
This once again raises the very serious issue of Dr. O'Donnell's willingness to function as moderator for this debate. Moderators must, by definition, be even handed and fair. Possibly the relationship that exists between Dr. O'Donnell and Dr. Ergun Caner, who is President of the Seminary, might be an insurmountable impediment to his taking on this role? Whatever the case may be, I simply cannot see any likely reason why our reasonable requests for a response from him on important issues would be met with silence for a full month. Could I ask for a response, please, as to why this is? And given that we have had to deal with the "silence" issue in the past, I will assume a lack of response by Tuesday, June 20th, is an indication that Dr. O'Donnell will not be working with us on this debate.
Quick Dividing Line Note
06/13/2006 - James WhiteWe will be doing the DL live today at the normal Thursday time, 7pm EDT, due to scheduling conflicts. See you then!
Jimmy Akin Replies
06/12/2006 - James WhiteA few days ago I posted an article showing that Roman Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers had demonstrated a basic lack of research in responding to a question regarding the Corban rule, Matthew 15, and sola scriptura. I documented that one of the leading Catholic apologists was unaware of the specifics of the discussion regarding Jewish sources, Tractate Aboth, the Jewish view of tradition, etc., as it relates to this issue, even though this information had been available, published, on the web, and had appeared in debates with Roman Catholic apologists, in my own works, for a full decade. The question had been asked of him why I make such a "big deal" out of the Corban rule, and in my response I pointed out the substance of the argument: that given the background of how the Rabbis viewed their "traditions" as coming from Moses outside the written Scriptures and hence being "divine" in origin Jesus' words give us an inescapable example, a vital paradigm, that we must follow: when men claim "divine tradition" we test it by Scripture, we do not simply accept the claim at face value. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for allowing this allegedly divine "tradition" to make void God's Word. Hence, when Roman Catholic apologists rather glibly respond to Matthew 15 with, "Oh, He was just talking about human traditions there," we must respond, "No, He was not, for the Jews believed the very tradition He singles out was divine in origin."
Now in reading Mr. Akin's response I was struck immediately by the odd way he begins. "James White has now supplied a current description of his thought on the korban passage and sola scriptura, so let's look at what he says." A current description? This almost sounds as if Mr. Akin is trying to say I had not, in fact, plainly made these arguments a decade ago. I note he does not actually address the reality that he gave a false answer to his correspondent in his initial blog article and that he had no reason for doing so other than the attitude, prevalent, in my experience, at Catholic Answers, of not seeming to care much about what anyone is actually saying about current apologetic issues. I am reminded of my debate on purgatory with Father Peter Stravinskas, who had clearly never read any of my books, articles, or listened to any of my debates, and hence was caught utterly unprepared, for he obviously did not think anyone outside Rome could have anything meaningful to say on the subject. That seems to be a fairly common problem with many people: many non-Catholics get caught flat footed by a sharp Roman Catholic apologist because they make the same kind of assumption in reverse. But for someone in Akin's position, it makes no sense.
Now for some reason Mr. Akin begins with a discussion of what is a plain teaching and what is not, which, to be honest, strikes me as little more than sophistry. The Jewish claim about the Corban rule is parallel to the Roman claim about its "tradition." Let's keep our eyes on the ball. Note just a brief example:
...The argument is plain: Jewish tradition about the Corban rule made it a tradition that had a divine pedigree, though passed down outside of Scripture. Jesus specifically subjugated it to Scripture, hence, to follow His lead, we, too, would have to test all traditions by the higher standard of Scripture.
"To follow His lead" is another way of saying "to follow his example," so here Mr. White acknowledges that he is appealing to Mark 7 as a passage in which Jesus is teaching by example, and thus he must be able to find in this passage a "plain teaching" that "we are to examine all traditions by the higher standard of [Scripture]."
A difficulty for this claim is the one faced by all instances of trying to derive "plain teaching" from teaching by example: The extent to which the example is to be followed is often not clear.
It is too easy to improperly minimize or maximize the extent to which the example applies.
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Tony Byrne Demands Free Advertising
06/12/2006 - James WhiteTony Byrne, the gentleman whose comments on 2 Peter 3:9 I addressed yesterday, has demanded I link to him now. No, he can't show any misrepresentation, but I guess he wants the traffic. I find it odd that he has been sniping at me on his own blog for months but if I dare demonstrate his arguments are self-refuting, non-exegetical, and vacuous, I have breached some code of ethics! He even claims he "owns" the "form of the expressions" to his argument! What an amazing thing: if I name names, I take heat for being "mean." If I refute arguments and leave names out of it, I'm unethical! Can't win for trying, it seems. So if you would like to compare how accurately I represented his original article, here it is. Of course, that is the same link I referred to on the Founder's blog, but I guess that isn't generating enough traffic. You will see that I interacted with his arguments with complete fairness and accuracy.
2 Peter 3:9 and the "Letterhead Argument"
06/11/2006 - James WhiteThis is surely the most popular passage cited (almost never with any reference to the context) to prove that God could not possibly desire to save a specific people but instead desires to save every single individual person, thereby denying election and predestination. The text seems inarguably clear. But it is always good to see a text in its own context:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.Immediately one sees that unlike such passages as Ephesians 1, Romans 8-9, or John 6, this passage is not speaking about salvation as its topic. The reference to "coming to repentance" in 3:9 is made in passing. The topic is the coming of Christ. In the last days mockers will question the validity of His promise. Peter is explaining the reason why the coming of Christ has been delayed as long as it has. The day of the Lord, he says, will come like a thief, and it will come at God’s own time.
This fact needs to be emphasized. The context is clearly eschatological, not primarily soteriological. Though men like Ergun Caner dismiss this observation, they do not bother providing a rationale for their dismissal, nor, evidently, do they think they need to. A basic rule of sound exegesis involves recognizing context first and foremost. Passages that are specifically addressing a topic are given priority over passing comments made in contexts that are not specifically addressing a given subject. A comment made "in passing" may be relevant and important, but the fact that it is, in fact, made in passing, and not in a context specifically on a given subject, must always be kept in mind.
This is also an important observation regarding those who seek to ask in-depth questions of passing comments rather than allowing them to be what they are by nature: passing comments. Demanding deep specificity and great depth of information from a phrase or even just a few words that are not even the subject or focus of a text is illogical. We will see how this is important when looking at some "Calvinistic" interpretations of the text as well. ...
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Final Response to Dr. Caner on Falwell.com
06/09/2006 - James WhiteFinally, this definition of "Neo-Calvinist" concludes,
Calvinism is the only Gospel. Simply put, when a person holds this narrow view, they become exclusivists. They believe that Calvinism, and only Calvinism, is the preaching of the Gospel. One historian wrote, "Calvinism is just another name for Christianity."1 If that is true, what does that say about the myriad of preachers throughout Church history who were not Calvinists? Were they even saved?
The "historian" to which Caner refers is Dr. John Gerstner. Sadly, Dr. Caner did not read Dr. Gerstner directly. No, take a look at the footnote. He's giving us a secondary source. And his actual source? A paragon of fairness and accurate research perhaps? No, it's Dave Hunt. Oft-refuted, never willing to debate, let's cite the NWT--OK, no, let's say this meaning isn't in the lexicons--no, wait, OK, let's say it was originally written in Hebrew--ack, no, never mind, didn't really mean that--Oh, look, Spurgeon denied limited atonement unequivocally--uh, I mean he contradicted himself, Dave Hunt.
I wonder. Does Dr. Caner believe his version of synergism is, or is not, the gospel? If he believes it is the gospel, doesn't he have to answer the same questions about Calvinists that he asks us to answer about others? Should someone actually preach a message they do not believe is the most accurate representation of the gospel itself? I've never understood this objection outside of the fact that if a person cannot think clearly they may be emotionally impacted by it. Is that the reason to offer it? I certainly hope not. Gerstner was saying nothing more than what Spurgeon said:
And I have my own private opinion that there is no such a thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering, love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that (2/11/1855).
(I note parenthetically that I have been informed Dr. Caner teaches his classes that Spurgeon was an Amyraldian, a "four-pointer." I would love to hear his response to this text and its plain promotion of 'particular redemption.')
11) Dr. Caner comments regarding the phrase, "the doctrines of grace":
They may believe in the "Doctrines of Grace" for themselves, but they hold to the "Doctrines of Damnation" for most people, unless they view the damnation of souls to hell as a work of grace.
No, it isn't a work of grace. But that is hardly the point, is it? Damnation is a work of justice. We all deserve justice. Some get grace. Who decides? Is God's grace freely given by His sovereign choice, or can it be demanded by sinful man? That is the issue. I wonder, would Dr. Caner lodge the same objection to the glorification of the grace of God in the eternal state? When the redeemed stand around the throne, would he likewise say, "Well, you can sing about the grace of God all you want, and call it glorious, but look at all those who are damned! It's not grace for them!" Would this be a meaningful argument? Hardly. "Oh, but they were offered that grace, and refused it!" Of course they refused it. The only thing we differ on is whether it makes any sense to say freedom was "offered" to corpses, grace was "offered" to slaves. ...
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Jimmy Akin More than a Decade Behind
06/08/2006 - James WhiteI was informed today that Jimmy Akin had made some comments regarding sola scriptura, the Corban rule, and my comments on the subject. In looking at his blog article found here I was just a little surprised to discover that Mr. Akin, the lead apologist for Catholic Answers, has not done his homework on this particular subject, and in reading the comments left by Roman Catholics on this blog entry, it seems the majority of them are happy to go on second-hand research as well, a sad state of affairs. The question Akin is responding to is, "What is the Korban Rule, and why does James White make such a big deal about it when he speaks of sola scriptura?" Of course, I do not make a "big deal" out of it. I have addressed the issue in relationship to the failed attempt by Rome's apologists to get around Jesus' plain teaching that we are to examine all traditions by the higher standard of God's Word, even those that claim to be divine in origin. Here is the basic presentation I made in The Roman Catholic Controversy a decade ago:
Traditions and the Scriptures
Another vital passage that deals with the doctrine of sola scriptura is found in Matthew 15:1-9:
Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." And He answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH. "But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God," he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’"
Here we find the Lord providing us with the example that we must follow. The Jewish leaders objected to the fact that the disciples did not follow the rigorous hand-washing rituals of the Pharisees. They identified this as a breaking of the "tradition of the elders." They firmly believed that this body of tradition was authoritative, and some even believed that it had been passed down from Moses himself, though this is surely without warrant. But does Jesus accept this claim of authority?
Not at all! Instead, He launches a counter-attack against these leaders by pointing out how they nullify the command of God through the following of their own traditions, specifically in this case, with reference to the corban rule, whereby a man could dedicate his belongings to the Temple and hence not support his parents in their old age. The Lord Jesus holds this traditional teaching up to the light of Scripture, and finds it wanting.
It is vital to realize that the Jews viewed the corban rule as part of the 'tradition of the elders.' This was, to them, a divine tradition with divine authority. They did not simply view it as a mere "tradition of men," but as a concept revealed by God and passed down into the body of such teachings entrusted to the "elders" of the faith.
The parallels to the Roman claim regarding Sacred Tradition are many. While Rome may claim divine authority for her supposedly sacred traditions, and even subjugate Scripture so as to make it a part of "Sacred Tradition," needing other aspects such as the supposedly apostolic, unwritten traditions, and the authority of the magisterium of the Church, the person who wishes to follow the example of Christ will hold such traditions up to the light of Scripture, knowing how fearful it is to be found guilty of nullifying the word of God for the sake of merely human traditions. The Lord Jesus subjugated even this allegedly "divine tradition" to the higher and hence supreme authority, the Scriptures. This is most important, for the most common response to the citation of this passage with reference to Roman tradition is, "Well, the passage refers to testing human traditions, not divine traditions." Yet, when it comes to authority, any tradition, no matter what it’s alleged pedigree, is to be tested by the known standard, the Holy Scriptures. (pp. 68-69)
Further, in responding to a Catholic Answers article in This Rock Magazine over a decade ago now, I wrote (note especially section 3): ...
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More Sneak Previews
06/08/2006 - James WhiteActs 10:42 "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead."
Let's consider what we can learn from this description of preaching in the early church. First, we see that it is a divine command. "He ordered us to preach to the people." Christ, to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given (Matthew 28:18), commands us to preach. It is not an optional activity. It is not, "Well, if it is convenient, we will invest a little effort." It is a command of Christ to His church. Preach. It is an imperative.
In this context preaching "to the people" had a particular meaning; those doing the preaching knew there would be resistance and a cost (John 9:22). This was due to the content of the message. To proclaim the One crucified by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem as the "One appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead" was to take a stand that admitted no compromise. Anyone who would knowingly confess Christ in this manner was taking a definitive step with lasting results. But given that this is a command, obviously, those fulfilling the command could not choose to edit, alter, or soften, the message itself. It was an all-or-nothing message. They were not testifying that Jesus might be the Judge of the living and the dead. They were not testifying that Jesus was the Judge of some of the living and some of the dead, either. This was a message that was directed at each and every person in whatever audience they addressed (since, we would assume, everyone fits into the two rather all-encompassing categories of the "living" and the "dead").
Note as well that proclaiming Jesus as the Judge of the living and the dead is not quite the same thing as saying Jesus will be your best buddy. It is not the same as saying believing in Jesus will fix your financial woes and straighten your teeth and improve your marriage. In fact, accurately identifying Jesus as each person's judge is anything but attractive. In fact, outside of the work of the Spirit of God in a person's heart, this message will repel. Think of it: "Hello Mr. Criminal. You know you are guilty. And here comes the judge."
This message was delivered in the form of a testimony. We testify to these things. "I swear that this is true. I've experienced it myself. I have acknowledge Jesus to be the judge of the living and the dead, and I have put my faith in Him so as to receive forgiveness of sins." By testifying we are putting ourselves on the line as a matter of integrity, but we are also joining our audience as fellow sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. It is only as the redeemed that we point others to the Redeemer, as those forgiven testifying of the source of forgiveness.
And finally, there is a key term used here that has truly been lost in the large portion of preaching and proclamation today. Solemnly. This is actually part of the term "to testify." Our testimony is to be solemn, serious, fitting of the subject of proclamation. There is something unnatural about speaking of eternal judgment, redemption, forgiveness, lordship, and life, in the context of light-hearted entertainment and Hawaiian shirt informality. I'm sorry, but it is hard for me to take a man seriously who rides a Harley into the service, for example, or who is going out of his way to be viewed not as a herald of a majestic person with a weighty message but as my buddy, my pal, my next door neighbor. This kind of seriousness, fervency, gravity, is not inconsistent with the joy that marks one's own testimony of redemption and forgiveness. Nor does it mean one's proclamation has to be boring, stiff, or lacking in interest or even appropriate humor. Sadly, we live in a day when many who come into the fellowship lack basic listening skills or the discipline to listen for almost any length of time at all. An appropriate, topic-sensitive use of humor can "refocus" an audience so that you can press home an important statement. But humor can never become the vehicle of real Christian preaching. When we testify that Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead, that is not a joking matter. One cannot but speak of such weighty matters with a solemnity fitting the subject.
Continued Response to Dr. Caner
06/08/2006 - James White5) Reformed brothers. So, which is it? Am I a Reformed brother? If so, why refuse to answer that honestly asked question? Or are there some Reformed brothers as long as they aren't my kind? We just don't know.
6) Is there a meaningful parallel between the charismatic controversy of years past (who actually won that battle? Compare the "worship" at TRBC today with that thirty years ago and you might wonder as well) and the current anti-Calvinist movement in the SBC? Well, all controversies have parallels, however, there was no historical foundation in Southern Baptist life, or Baptist life in general, for the unique claims of the Charismatic movement. But once again, there most certainly is solid historical foundation for Reformed theology in Baptist history. This isn't even an arguable point. So on the most meaningful level, no, there is no parallel.
7) "In the same regard, the present controversy cannot be blamed on all Calvinists or Reformed Baptists." Please note that last phrase. Reformed Baptists. That's me. Hi. Nice to meet you. See how the two terms go together? Yes, that's not an oxymoron. Yes, I know all about those who say it is.
8) Caner refers to those who do not make this a test of fellowship. But we are still wondering, does Dr. Caner make the reverse a test of fellowship?
9) Now we have a new term, "Neo-Calvinist." Sadly, this new term starts with an old term misused, "hyper-Calvinist." And such a bad person is "obsessed." No one wants to be obsessed, of course. And surely we can see the wisdom in not thinking that the almighty Kingship of God and His freedom to act in His own creation as He sees fit should ever function as a prism, a lens, for our theology. One could be forgiven for wondering out loud if it is not far more dangerous, and common, to allow the almighty will of the fallen creature man to function as the over-riding obsession of one's theology?
10) Sadly, Caner again illustrates either his ignorance of, or unwillingness to accept, basic historical theological definitions. He writes that "Neo-Calvinists" believe:
Double Predestination. Simply put, they believe that a small group of people are predestined, even before the Creation, for heaven, and that the vast majority of the world is predestined, even created for, hell....
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Another Pulpit Crimes Sneak Peek
06/07/2006 - James WhitePaul knew he was going against popular intuition. He wrote, "For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (vv. 22-24). Please do not miss his self-confession. "I preach Christ crucified" he says. "I preach a message I know will offend both main groups in my audience. It will offend the Jews because they seek for signs, they have a particular view of what the Messiah is supposed to be, so, I know that to preach Him crucified is to put a stumbling block in their path. And the Gentiles seek after wisdom, and the idea that the Jewish Messiah's death is God's means of reconciliation is ridiculous in their eyes."
How completely unlike the attitude that prevails today! Can you imagine if Paul were to present this preaching strategy in many college and seminary courses today? "I know what my audience will find attractive. So I intend to give them just the opposite." He would never graduate! Today we are taught to take surveys of our areas, learn what is attractive to our "target audience," how long the service should be, what tempo the music should have, what colors most attract and have the best emotional appeal, how the pastor should dress (you don't want to intimidate!) whether you should even have a pulpit (it should be warm and attractive and friendly-though a bar stool is enough for most), and how long the preacher should go in telling his heart-tugging, sentimental stories before closing with affirming the essential goodness of the audience and assuring them of God's love for them. The Apostle would not have the slightest idea what has possessed us, it would seem. He knew what would automatically attract, and he purposefully, willfully, said, "No, I will not do that."
Response to Dr. Caner on Falwell.com
06/06/2006 - James WhiteWell, what a disappointment to discover that the blog article I referred to above is actually written by Ergun Caner, not Jerry Falwell. I saw falwell.com and since my current internet access is expensive and has to come in "bursts," I assumed if it was on falwell.com.... But I was disabused once I went off line and started to read the entire article. Oh well, still worth responding to. But as I am still working on Pulpit Crimes, I will break this response up a bit.
I am not a hyper-Calvinist. R.C. Sproul is not a hyper-Calvinist. John Piper is not a hyper-Calvinist. To believe in all "five points" is not to be a hyper-Calvinist. To believe God's choice of election is eternal in nature is not to be a hyper Calvinist. The term "hyper-Calvinism" has a meaning in and of itself, and it is irresponsible to think any one person, or group of people, has the right to redefine language itself so as to violate all standards of truth, honesty, and integrity.
Evidently, the anti-Reformed forces within the Southern Baptist Convention, Calvary Chapels, etc., have decided to follow the lead of the Main Stream Media in using redefinition based upon falsehoods, rather than biblical debate and compelling theological argumentation, as their chief weapon of choice. Norman Geisler, thankfully, knows theology well enough to know that he cannot use the term "hyper-Calvinist" of simple historic Calvinists because that term has an already defined meaning. So he comes up with a slightly less offensive term (though hardly any more accurate), "extreme" Calvinists to describe those who hold to the historic Reformed position on soteriology. But his counterparts in the Southern Baptist Convention have chosen to abandon all pretense to historic scholarship and simply grab hold of the moniker "hyper Calvinist" as their bludgeon of choice. If you believe God elected from eternity to glorify Himself by saving an undeserving people in Christ Jesus apart from any merit on their part, while revealing His justice and wrath in the just punishment of others who loved their sin and hated Him, and He did so freely, without any external compulsion, you are a hyper-Calvinist. Never mind that was the viewpoint of men like Spurgeon who wrote against hyper-Calvinism. Our modern Southern Baptists who rely upon such scholarly sources as "the Hebrew original of Acts 13:48" Hunt do not need to worry themselves about such minor folks as Spurgeon. Everything, it seems, is fair game in "the battle for the churches." ...
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Nothing New Under the Sun
06/06/2006 - James WhiteFor the couple of folks who thought Jerry Falwell looked displeased at the end of Ergun Caner's anti-Calvinism sermon a few weeks ago, well, he wasn't. Caner is giving the Liberty line, to be sure, from what Falwell says here. And what is so tremendously sad is to see the single reference in the entire entry is another "as cited in Dave Hunt...". You are simply left shaking your head.
I will reply to this blog entry a little later, as it seems Dr. Falwell makes reference to a comment I made to Ergun Caner in our first correspondence (i.e., regarding 2 Peter 3:9 being in an eschatological context). Of course, he offers no more refutation of what I said than Dr. Caner has. More to come!
Another Quick Sneak Peek
06/06/2006 - James WhiteA quick unedited sneak peek at Pulpit Crimes:
I have come to view this concept of preaching as one of the greatest signs of the decay of modern evangelicalism in Western culture today. It is so blatantly unbiblical, in fact, so patently absurd in light of even the briefest scripturally-inspired reflection, that it must be a sign of God's judgment that so many can so easily imbibe such a perversion of God's truth. Do these words strike you as harsh, even unwise? I fully understand. We live in an age where right and wrong, truth and error, have become matters of opinion and dispute. The language of the New Testament crashes upon the modern ear with offense, leading many to consider the Lord Jesus, His Apostles, and those who seek to emulate them down through history to our very day, harsh and out of step with our enlightened, if yet obviously confused, age. Error and falsehood today are excused as artifacts of our coming to understand that truth is not really knowable, and that we are arrogant if we dare forget our creatureliness long enough to say "what I am saying is right, and what that man is saying is wrong." "Yeah, hath God said?" (Genesis 3:1) has become the watchword of the modern mindset that has been taught to disbelieve God's ability to reveal Himself to His own creatures, and sadly, this way of thinking has infected major portions of what is widely identified as "Christianity" as well. Believing that God is the Creator is foundational to any kind of Christian worldview; but the corollary that if God is the Creator then we as His creatures can communicate only because He is the origin and source of that ability is forced upon us by logical necessity. A Christian world view that does not look to Scripture for its lifeblood is a pretense.
Working on Pulpit Crimes
06/04/2006 - James WhiteI am currently "out of pocket" working on writing Pulpit Crimes (which also explains the blog silence). So, here are a couple of unedited sections from a "notes file" I have put together. This material then becomes incorporated into various chapters in the process or organizing the book. Since I am often asked about the writing process, I thought some might find seeing these early stage notes interesting.
2 Timothy 2:2 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
The foundation of Christian education is in the church. Obviously, Timothy had to 1) know what was truly Pauline/apostolic 2) know the men well enough and long enough and observe their lives so as to know that they are faithful and that they have the ability to teach, and 3) know how to entrust these things, teach these things, to these faithful men. Sound theology is something that is precious and must be entrusted to the next generation.
2 Timothy 4:1-4 2 Timothy 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Solemnly (tie in Acts 20). That is one's primary attitude toward the ministry of preaching. Solemnity. First priority: preach the word. At all times. Not just at convenient times. Reprove, though no one likes to do so. Rebuke, because it is necessary. Exhort, because there will always be those who are faint-hearted. With patience and instruction, since it takes repetition and teaching. Things won't get easier. Sinful men hate the consistency of sound doctrine. Men will allow their desires, their emotions, to determine who they will and will not listen to. They will accumulate to themselves, like people hording up treasure, teachers who will tell them exactly what they want to hear. They will purposefully turn their ears from truth, since they know what the truth is, and they will turn aside to myths. Truth, or myth. No middle ground. The apostle knew nothing of the modern state of confusion that reigns in academic circles and trickles down to the pulpit.
Yesterday on the Dividing Line
06/01/2006 - Rich PierceStarted off with a quick discussion of the use of Messianic prophecies by Islamic apologists, including connecting Isaiah 9:6 to Mohammed (except, they have to sort of skip a few portions of the text). Then a call on witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses took the rest of the hour, providing a great opportunity for "practical evangelism" training on the topic. Here's the program.