Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
David Allen on John Owen
11/29/2008 - James White
The Q&A section of the John 3:16 Conference was mildly interesting. Thankfully, at least one Calvinist asked a direct, clear question. Noting that David Allen had chosen to spend the vast majority of his time repeating the arguments of Ponter and Byrne (rather than dealing with biblical materials), the question was asked if he would do more than the "read my paper on such and such a website" response and comment on Owen's argument for the atonement, which they referred to as the "double payment argument." Finally some serious argumentation to interact with.
A Former Calvinist "Saved Out of Calvinism"
11/28/2008 - James White
Avoid the Mad Rush of Black Friday!
11/28/2008 - James WhiteTake my word for it, you just gotta have Mylo's Christmas CD in your Christmas music collection! How anyone can get along without such classics as "Heifer Bells" or "Winter in Nordakota," I can't imagine. And if you haven't hummed along to "Checkout Gals," you haven't lived! So hustle on over to Mylo's website and get your copy of A Very Mylo Christmas before the big rush hits! And while you are there, check out Mylo's other classic albums, the perfect stocking stuffers! [For those new to my blog, Mylo Hatzenbuhler, aka, Clyde Bauman, is a great friend and brother in the Lord, and hence I want to do all I can to get his great music out there. If you enjoy a great sense of humor, Mylo is your man!]
One of Mylo's friends, Carla (who is stranded in Canada, poor thing), has developed a line of Mylo gear here, and she likewise is the designer of the A&O gear here. Make sure to visit Carla's stores along with Mylo's and avoid all the rush and hustle of traffic and the crush at the mall!
Thanks from Brazil
11/27/2008 - James White
On behalf of E610 Ministries International, our deepest thanks and praise for the work God has led you to continue for twenty-five years now. Even more today I personally am benefiting from the web site as the Lord has recently asked me to serve Him by moving to Brazil where I am doing long term mission work while also working to complete my M.Div at CES. Not only are the dividing lines encouraging and edifying, they also connect me to apologetics happening real time at home in the good ole US of A.
Prior to moving in to full time Missions, E610 relied on your video tapes and CD series extensively for training with our street evangelists who remain at work back in the USA today for His glory. We have links to your site at our believers area at E610 and continue to support the work you are doing in prayer and petition to our risen King, that He might continue, protect, and bless the work you continue this and each day.
Thank you – to you and Rich, to your family, who make sacrifices in order for you to take time to devote to your work with AOMIN and please know how important each installment is that you make. Keep the tape rolling and know you are all loved and appreciated deeply across the world. I never imaged years ago when I began following AOMIN I would be listening from the mission field. Praise God for His provision to us all.
It's BACK!!! The Uber Bible Available Again!
11/26/2008 - James White
If you lay very quietly...very still...and listen intently, with this Lockman NASB not too far away...you will be able to hear it...moo. Yes indeed, the Uber Bible, the single best leather bound Bible I have ever owned, is back in stock! Rich just got it back in the bookstore today, here. This is a preacher's Bible. It lays open. It hangs over your hand. The leather is the softest, smoothest, most awesome feeling stuff you'll ever happily carry in your hand. I love my copy, and you'll love yours! It was out of stock for a good year or so, but now it is back! Had to let you know as soon as possible!
A Few More Thoughts on the SBC Inquisition
11/26/2008 - James White
In a matter of weeks I will be engaging Bart Ehrman on whether textual variation precludes the possibility of inspiration. It will be a vitally important debate, one that I hope will be of tremendous benefit to the entire body of Christ. And though I have no reason to think Dr. Ehrman is spending a lot of time focusing upon my position, I surely am focusing upon his. Hence, I have extensive reading and studying to do over the next number of weeks. I trust our regular blog readers will keep this in mind, and pray for me as I prepare for this vital encounter. [By the way, there is still room for you to join us for the debate, and even the cruise!].
I will continue my response to David Allen on Tuesday of next week. I must admit I am grieved by this whole situation. I know there are some who live for "blog conflict" and the like. I am not one of them. When I engage in controversy I try to do it for the sake of the furtherance of the truth of the gospel and the edification of God's people. I must admit, I am sick and tired of those who seem utterly intent upon promoting a narrow agenda, one-string banjo players who seem to have little else to do in life but to pluck their very limited number of notes.
In any case, this entire "he's an X" "no, you're a Y!" childishness makes me ill. Evidently, for a whole group of folks, the idea is this: hyper-Calvinism is dangerous (it is). Therefore, anyone with a higher Calvinism (one that seeks internal consistency in theology and exegesis, and does not find a lot of comfort in "antinomy" and "mystery") than these folks is to be stigmatized as a "hyper-Calvinist," even if they have shown, demonstrated, and proved their balance as a churchman, evangelist, preacher, theologian, or apologist. In the process, men of old who said and taught great things are harangued and attacked without the slightest effort to distinguish between the good and the bad in their writings and teachings. It is even to the point that if you interpret particular texts in a particular way, you are "hyper," even when those using these terms are utterly incapable of even attempting to prove you have mishandled the texts. It is amazing, and it is sad.
It was mentioned in my chat channel yesterday that, ironically, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) addressed this sixty years ago. Evidently, they did not have to identify those who disagreed with Murray as "hyper-Calvinists" back then. Too bad their maturity is not possessed by all today. (Click here for the article).
I guess the best way to refute the false accusations against me is not by playing the "my expert defines it this way" game. It is by simply living a balanced Christian life, demonstrating that the accusations are vacuous, and those making them little more than troublers of the body of Christ. Let the reader mark them out now and ask a simple question: what will they have accomplished ten years from now? Let time attend to the witness chair.
In any case, I did wish to briefly comment on the abuse of the historical sources that David Allen utilized. He claims to have a huge Puritan library, and I don't doubt that he does. He chided folks for not reading original sources. Yet, it seems to me that his presentation was massively dependent upon...secondary sources, in particular, as he himself stated, Tony Bryne and David Ponter. This comes out especially in his attempt to enlist Jonathan Edwards in the cause of denying particular redemption. It seems highly likely to me that Allen pulled the single citation he read on the topic directly from Tony Bryne's blog, where it appeared back in May of this year. It is a single citation from The Freedom of the Will.
From these things it will inevitably follow, that however Christ in some sense may be said to die for all, and to redeem all visible Christians, yea, the whole world, by his death; yet there must be something particular in the design of his death, with respect to such as he intended should actually be saved thereby. As appears by what has been now shown, God has the actual salvation or redemption of a certain number in his proper absolute design, and of a certain number only; and therefore such a design only can be prosecuted in any thing God does, in order to the salvation of men. God pursues a proper design of the salvation of the elect in giving Christ to die, and prosecutes such a design with respect to no other, most strictly speaking; for it is impossible, that God should prosecute any other design than only such as he has: he certainly does not, in the highest propriety and strictness of speech, pursue a design that he has not. And, indeed, such a particularity and limitation of redemption will as infallibly follow, from the doctrine of God's foreknowledge, as from that of the decree. For it is as impossible, in strictness of speech, that God should prosecute a design, or aim at a thing, which he at the same time most perfectly knows will not be accomplished, as that he should use endeavours for that which is beside his decree.
Please don't ask me how anyone can read this and find universal atonement in it. I truly do not understand it, for it is clearly Edwards' intention to emphasize the specific purpose of God in the salvation of the elect. But this is not the first time I've encountered folks who can read phrases like "a particularity and limitation of redemption" and think it is actually saying the opposite. Traditions die hard. I would direct anyone to read the conclusion of Edwards' treatise (from which the above comes: in the eye-strain edition of Edwards' works, it is page 88 of volume 1) and see if it was his intention to give aid and comfort to the viewpoints of David Allen.
I wrote to a published Edwards scholar and inquired as to his opinion. He responded that it is very obvious that Edwards held to particular redemption, and noted in passing two texts indicating this.
This is certain, that God did not intend to save those by the death of Christ, that he certainly knew from all eternity he should not save by his death. Wherefore, it is certain that if he intended to save any by the death of Christ, he intended to save those whom he certainly knew he should save by his death. This is all that was ever pleaded for. (Works of JE, Vol 13, Yale UP, 1994, 211).
"Now can we suppose that Christ came down from heaven and went through all this upon uncertainties, not knowing what purchase he should get, how great or how small? Did he die only upon probabilities, without absolute certainty who, or how many, or whether any should be redeemed by what he did and suffered?" (ibid, 212).
Now, Dr. Allen seemed to want to fault modern Calvinists for not reading original sources. He also assumed we would all be shocked at what he was saying. I found that more than a little condescending, to be perfectly honest with you. It seemed hard to avoid the conclusion that he was accusing Sproul and Piper and MacArthur and Dever of being either ignorant or dishonest...or both. And though he had the temerity of accusing me of being a hyper-Calvinist, he didn't show the slightest familiarity with The Potter's Freedom, let alone the arguments it presents regarding particular redemption. In any case, it seems to me that Allen pulled his assertion about Edwards (which he presented with great flair and showmanship) directly from Byrne, and that without examining the context. Which seems to be the very thing he was busily faulting the rest of us for doing.
Well, as always, such situations as this one give us an opportunity to grow and learn. As such, we should be thankful for them.
Phil Johnson on "Desire"
11/26/2008 - James White
The Pyromaniac himself has weighed in on the John 3:16 Conference allegations that if you don't believe God is eternally bummed about failing to save those He desires to save you are a hyper-Calvinist. You can read his always well-written blog entry here. Hopefully by now you have gotten to the heart of the issue on this matter: Dr. Allen, and most of those who oppose Reformed theology (but who likewise seem utterly unwilling to engage the topic when the other side will be equally represented), find the term "hyper-Calvinism" a useful pejorative. Useful in the sense that it helps them to try to insulate their followers from actually hearing what the other side has to say. Hence, when I seek to be fully consistent in my beliefs, and as a result, refuse to portray God as having eternally decreed His own unhappiness, I am labeled a "hyper-Calvinist" (despite the fact that it is painfully obvious Calvin surely agreed). I see no evidence that God will be standing upon the parapets of hell weeping for eternity because of His failure to accomplish His will. I can proclaim God's command to repent and believe to all men, and I can do so with passion, not because I pretend to look into God's heart and mind, but because I know the reality of God's wrath, the sin of man, and I believe implicitly the promise of God that anyone who turns in faith to Christ will be saved. And as I noted on the DL yesterday, while the synergists get a lot of mileage out of preaching "Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life if you will only let him into your heart" the absolutely necessary counterpoint to their feel-good proclamation is "however, I can never tell you He can truly save you perfectly and completely because, after all, my entire point is that He is helpless aside from your cooperation." Do they consistently follow through on that point? Of course not. Most embrace the "I have my ticket punched and I'm on my way to heaven, don't bother me about consistency or the work of the Spirit in my life" viewpoint. Makes not a lick of sense, but since they almost never put themselves in a position where they can be challenged on the topic (I was a part of an SBC mega church once: I know the culture, and if "Pastor" says it, you better believe it, brother) the incoherence of their systematic theology is rarely highlighted.
I am thankful Phil can put up with my slightly "stiffer" form of Calvinism. I would be more on the Reymond side than the Murray side, for example, and I am for a pretty obvious reason, I hope. How many of my Reformed compatriots are taking their soteriology into the contexts I do? Not many. When I have Roman Catholics and Mormons and JW's and Oneness Pentecostals and liberals and Muslims and atheists picking apart every book I write and every article I publish, well, the result is to be expected. I'm a bit focused on consistency. Sorta comes with the territory. If I can't back it up with sound and consistent exegesis, well, I'm not likely to find that position amenable to my faith. That's why I take the position I do regarding 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4: I simply have not found any counter-exegesis that makes any sense of the passages. And I am not one for doing the, "Well, Super Theologian X held a different view" routine.
I note also a very fascinating exchange taking place in the comments on Tom Ascol's last blog entry, found here. Malcom Yarnell scares me. Evidently, if I find my Presbyeterian brothers to be co-laborers in the kingdom, firm believers in the gospel of grace, compatriots in the battle against the powers of darkness and brothers in their passion for the freedom of God in salvation and the glory of Christ as Savior and Mediator, I'm just not quite "Baptist" enough for him. Of course, I also ran across this comment from him that made my head spin: "In response, please note that I consider the Roman Catholic church in the same way I do Lutheran and Presbyterian churches, although I do prefer the latter’s doctrines in some ways: the churches hold to innovations that countermand the New Testament, and thus may be classified as sub-New Testament." - Malcolm." "Prefer the latter's doctrines in some ways"???? I am simply left without words at such a statement. Amazing, just amazing.
The Reliability of the New Testament Text
11/26/2008 - James White
My presentation on the reliability of the New Testament from Durham, North Carolina. Warning! Long one! Might not want to try to watch this without a good connection!
London Report and a Response to David Allen
11/25/2008 - James WhiteWent about seven minutes long today so I could conclude a few thoughts in response to David Allen. First I gave about a 15 minute report on the London/Durham trips, then I launched into a Radio Free Geneva! I contrasted how Dr. Allen has treated me with how I approached the Mark Seifrid situation back in 2004, and then played his specific comments. I will be following up on Tuesday of next week (there will be no DL on Thursday for obvious reasons). Here's the program.
Watch as Your Free Speech Rights Flow Fast Away...
11/25/2008 - James WhiteThere is not the slightest chance this is not part of seeking to make us all dhimmis. Keep preaching while you have the freedom to do so!
A Brief Introduction to the Qur'an: The Structure of the Qur'an
11/25/2008 - Colin SmithThis is the first part of a very brief survey of the Qur'an. In this series, I intend to provide a framework within which the Christian can study the Islamic scriptures and begin formulating his or her apologetic. In this first part, I will quickly outline the basic structure of the book. Subsequent parts will deal with how the Qur'an handles material familiar to Christians from the Old and New Testaments.
The Qur'an is not so much a systematic book of history, doctrine, and exhortation, but rather a collection of sayings, speeches, and law compiled over a period of time. It consists of one hundred and fourteen suras, which can be regarded like chapters, each of which is subdivided into ayat, comparable to verses in modern editions of the Bible. The suras vary in length from three or four ayat (e.g., suras 91, 108, and 110) to the longest sura, 2, which has two hundred and eighty-six ayat.
The suras are not in chronological order, and their proper order is a matter of scholarly dispute, though there is little argument that some fall within the Meccan period of Muhammad's life, and others fall within the Medinan period. The standard presentation of the suras is, generally, from the longest to the shortest; however this does not represent the chronological order, and no Muslim would deny this fact. Given that the Qur'an was revealed (as Muslims believe) in stages over a period of time, it is natural that the thematic content of each sura would depict the time in which it was written. On this principle, one can presume that the earlier suras would be more emphatic concerning the nature of Allah, asserting His unity and uniqueness over and above the pagan gods, and the later suras would have a greater emphasis on the Muslim community, with much more legal and disciplinary content.
Each sura has a title, usually drawn from the text or the theme of the sura. The purpose behind these titles seems to have been largely mnemonic, since each pertains to a distinguishing aspect of the sura that would, perhaps, make it memorable. For example, sura 19 is called Maryam, or "Mary." The mother of Jesus is not the only subject of this sura, which goes on to relate, among other things, stories pertaining to Abraham and Moses; it is the story of Mary, though, that makes this sura unique. Stories of Abraham and Moses abound in the Qur'an, but Mary's story is seldom, if ever, repeated elsewhere. Sura 16, on the other hand, is called Nahl, or "The Bee," and it has a general theme of Allah's supreme authority over all nature, and his giving of signs to demonstrate his control over all things and provision for his creation. In the course of the discussion, the bee is set forth as an example of a creature that Allah has created that provides a source of nourishment and healing for men in the form of honey (ayat 68-69). The reference to the bee was probably considered unusual and memorable, and hence the sura took its name from these few ayat.
Many editions of the Qur'an have a title bar at the top of each sura indicating its numerical order, its name, an indication of its chronology in terms of Meccan or Medinan, and a count of the ayat in that particular sura.
All suras, except for sura 9, begin with what is known as the bismillah: bi-smi llahi r-rahmani r-rahim, which can be translated, "In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful." This phrase may well date back to the time of Mohammad, and its omission from the ninth sura might simply be explained by the fact that the first aya of that sura indicates the words following are from Allah, thus making the declaration of the bismillah unnecessary.
If you have been following the videos and discussions pertaining to Islam on this site, you will know that for Muslims, the Qur'an is the word of Allah, given directly to Mohammad through the agency of the angel Gabriel. For the Muslim, therefore, anything the Qur'an teaches is the final authority on that subject. This is important to bear in mind as we consider how the Qur'an presents stories familiar to us from the Old Testament, which is the subject of the next installment.
David Allen's False Accusation
11/24/2008 - James White
David Allen is a Dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He spoke at the John 3:16 Conference recently--the "lets circle the wagons and warn everyone about the Calvinists" get-together that was lacking the one thing that truth demands: serious interaction with the other side. Well, serious exegesis likewise was nowhere to be found, too. But in any case, I was quickly notified after his talk that he accused me of hyper-Calvinism, and after reading some reports from those in attendance, briefly commented on the absurdity of the charge. [He has written in defense of his accusation here]. I noted with some humor that the likes of Hunt and Patterson and Vines and Allen were safely ensconced in the friendly environs of a super-church in Georgia while I was standing before audiences of Muslims and Christians in London proclaiming the glory of the person of Christ and calling all those who could hear me to faith in Jesus Christ. In case Dr. Allen is unaware of this, hyper-Calvinists do not call all men to faith in Christ. That is why they don't like me and attack me at every opportunity. Obviously, my unwillingness to ascribe incoherence and inconsistency to the will of God does not mean I do not freely and openly call all men to faith in Christ. I put together some examples from my trip to London (and the debate at Duke). I think they speak for themselves. What hyper-Calvinist speaks as I do here?
I will play David Allen's comments on the DL tomorrow and interact with them. Till then, I simply point out that he seems to wish to establish a definition that forces one to somehow confess what God desires without providing any biblical basis for how we as creatures are to know this. Does God command repentance? Of course. Of all? Yes, of all. Do you proclaim the gospel to all? Yes, to all. Do you say it is the duty of all to believe? Surely, of course. Do you believe the proclamation of the gospel is the means by which God's Spirit draws the elect unto Christ? Most assuredly. So what is the single basis of Allen's accustion of "hyper-Calvinism"? My refusal to believe God decreed His eternal disappointment. I find nothing in Scripture or in the LBCF1689 that forces me to believe that God chose to create in such a fashion as to create His own unhappiness, His own lack of fulfillment. I see no reason to believe that God desires to do something He does not will to accomplish. It is only man's limited nature that even raises the issue, for we know that the proclamation of God's law reveals God's prescriptive will, i.e., do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not lie, etc. Hence we ascribe to God the concept of "desire" and say God does not "desire" that man do these things. Yet, we likewise know that texts like Genesis 50:20 tell us that God has willed that such events take place, and that, in fact, He uses them to accomplish His own purposes, His own glory. The problem is in trying to read into God's will our own self-limitations. I can freely offer the gospel to all, not because I reject election, nor because I ascribe to God a human-oriented desire that runs directly counter to His own self-revelation and consistency, but because I do not know the identity of the elect, and I have the full promise of Scripture that no man, no woman, no child, will ever, ever turn in faith to Jesus Christ and yet be rejected by Him. ALL who believe will be saved. Will any man believe outside of God's grace, God's granting of repentance and faith? Surely not, but again, I do not possess knowledge of the identity of the elect. Hence, I can freely and properly proclaim the duty to repent and believe to all, knowing that those who do so will be those God has drawn to Himself. I find myself completely consistent with the Apostle who likewise said he endured all the trials and tribulations of the ministry "for the sake of the elect" (2 Timothy 2:10).
"Ladies and Gentlemen, James White is a hyper-Calvinist." So accuses David Allen. Ladies and gentlemen, David Allen is making false accusations. I repudiate the false accusation, and assert that my confession of faith, and twenty five years of ministry and evangelism, expose the accusation for what it is. But who I am is irrelevant: I challenge David Allen to stand before the students and faculty of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and engage me on one battleground only: the inspired, inerrant, living text of the sacred Scriptures, the Bible. Do what was not done in Georgia: go to the text consistently and in depth and deal with John 6, John 10, Ephesians 1, Romans 8 and 9, and do so without hiding from the challenge of those on the other side. I have proven my ability to engage in such debate fairly and with honor and respect. I do not have to accuse David Allen of anything. I don't have to try to scare people away from listening to him. Go ahead! Listen! Examine! Study! But unlike those at the John 3:16 Conference, I have proven my ability to engage the best they have to offer, directly, without hiding. There would be no greater opportunity for the students of SWBTS to see the exposure of one their own leaders have identified as a "hyper-Calvinist" than in such an encounter! Will that happen? I doubt it, since the facts are clear. I'm not a hyper-Calvinist, and the last thing the leadership wants is both sides to be presented with fairness and clarity. And that, my friends, speaks volumes, does it not?
The Pope Clarified Luther's "Idea of Justification"?
11/24/2008 - James SwanA few people sent me this link, Pope Clarifies Luther's Idea of Justification (Says It's True, if Faith Is Not Opposed to Love). It's a review of statements made by the Pope on November 18, 2008. This means we're reading what someone heard Pope Benedict XVI say, rather than reading an entire context of exactly what was stated. I mention this because as I read through the link, I was left with more questions about exactly what the Pope meant than definitive papal statements of clarification on either justification or Luther. I wondered if the Pope actually spoke in such ambiguity or if the reviewer simply put down "the gist" of what he heard.
Running through the entire article is the phrase "works of the law." Typical Roman Catholic theology interprets Paul's use of the term "law" to mean "ceremonial law." The Pope's reported statements would concur. The Pope stated Paul's understanding of "law" is the "collection of behaviors extending from an ethical foundation to the ritual and cultural observances that substantially determined the identity of the just man -- particularly circumcision, the observance regarding pure food and general ritual purity, the rules regarding observance of the Sabbath, etc." But Paul actually uses the general term "works" rather than "works of the law." By limiting Paul's meaning to "ceremonial law" Roman Catholic theology is then able to promote some other kind of law required for salvation. This understand is contrary to both Paul and Luther. Neither limited the law to the ceremonial law. Both saw that any so-called particular righteous deed, inclination, or behavior that one assumes can contribute to justification is in actuality a worthless act. [for an excellent overview of Paul's understanding of "law" as opposed to "works of the law," see Dr. White's book, The God Who Justifies, pp. 181-184].
For Luther, justification was actually totally of works, but those works were perfect and performed by the perfect savior, Jesus Christ. These works are acquired by faith, imputed to the sinner. Luther says,
"[I]f you desire to believe rightly and to possess Christ truly, then you must reject all works that you intend to place before and in the way of God. They are only stumbling blocks, leading you away from Christ and from God. Before God no works are acceptable but Christ's own works. Let these plead for you before God, and do no other work before him than to believe that Christ is doing his works for you and is placing them before God in your behalf."
According to the link, these "works of the law" merely served to distinguish Israel from the pagans. But now, being "in Christ" distinguishes Christians from such people. The "works of the law" therefore are no longer needed. The Pope then states "To be just means simply to be with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Other observances are no longer necessary." This is one of the puzzling ambiguous statements offered in the link. It doesn't clarify at all what it means to be justified. How is one "in Christ"? Isn't it by the sacraments in Catholic theology? Isn't this a type of "observance"? Isn't Rome merely substituting one set of observances for another? This understanding is contrary to both Paul and Luther. Luther stated, "Only faith justifies; the Mass, purgatory, monastic vows, and all things fall."
After this discussion, the article finally gets around to Luther. It doesn't put forth any definition of Luther's understanding of justification or what is meant by "faith alone." It simply states:
And it is because of this, the Bishop of Rome continued, that Luther's expression "by faith alone" is true "if faith is not opposed to charity, to love. Faith is to look at Christ, to entrust oneself to Christ, to be united to Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence, to believe is to be conformed to Christ and to enter into his love."
"Paul knows," he added, "that in the double love of God and neighbor the whole law is fulfilled. Thus the whole law is observed in communion with Christ, in faith that creates charity. We are just when we enter into communion with Christ, who is love."
First, Luther's understanding of justification was never opposed to charity or love. This seems to be the typical Catholic misapprehension about justification by faith alone, that is, if faith alone saves, one is given a licence to sin. Paul answers for Luther in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them." Faith performs good works, not to keep one justified, but out of heartfelt gratitude to God graciousness. Luther never saw faith alone opposed to serving the neighbor in love and charity. Luther stated, "We receive Christ not only as a gift by faith, but also as an example of love toward our neighbor, whom we are to serve as Christ serves us. Faith brings and gives Christ to you with all his possessions. Love gives you to your neighbor with all your possessions."
Second, the Pope offers this definition of faith alone: "Faith is to look at Christ, to entrust oneself to Christ, to be united to Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence, to believe is to be conformed to Christ and to enter into his love." This is another ambiguous statement that most would simply pass by with agreement. Trent states that "Faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification." One therefore has to question exactly what the Pope means. Does he mean only to describe the beginning of the process of salvation, or does he mean that clinging to Christ and His perfect work imputed to a sinner by faith alone is the sole means of justification? Does the Pope mean that faith linked to a process of being "conformed to Christ" will result in possible everlasting peace with God, or does he stand with Luther in proclaiming that a sinner viewed through Christ's perfect work stands righteous before God now and forever?
Third, the article states, "Paul knows," he added, "that in the double love of God and neighbor the whole law is fulfilled. Thus the whole law is observed in communion with Christ, in faith that creates charity. We are just when we enter into communion with Christ, who is love."
Again, ambiguous statements. Is it the duty of the Christian to perfectly fulfil "the double love of God and neighbor" in order to eventually achieve everlasting justification? Does one have to go through a process of fulfilling this "whole law" by maintaining communion with Christ? Are we only just "when we enter into communion with Christ" through baptism or the sacraments, only to have this state taken away by a sinful action? Jesus tells us he came to fulfill the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17). That is, the only one who has ever perfectly fulfilled "the double love of God and neighbor" is Christ Jesus, and "through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses (Acts 13:39). Luther would have nothing to do with a process of eventual salvation:
"St. Paul teaches everywhere that justification does not result from works but from faith alone, that it does not come in installments but all at once. For the 'testament' comprises everything: justification, salvation, the inheritance, and our most prized possession. Through faith it is enjoyed all at once, in order to make it perfectly clear that no work but faith alone affords such blessings of God as justification and salvation, and that faith makes us children and heirs at once and not in piecemeal manner, as good works must be performed. As children and heirs we then freely perform all manner of good works without anything of that menial spirit which presumes to become pious and meritorious by such service. Merit is unnecessary. Faith gives everything gratuitously, gives more indeed than anyone can merit" [What Luther Says, Volume II (St Louis: Concordia Publishing, 1959) p. 710].
So did the Pope clarify Luther's idea of justification? Well, if the article accurately put forth the Pope's statements, he did not. Rather, he used ambiguous language and didn't even scratch the surface of what Luther meant by "faith alone." Perhaps the Pope only meant to demonstrate that "faith alone" is not a rejection of Ephesians 2:10. This would be a helpful clarifying statement for Roman Catholics, many of whom think that "faith alone" equals eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. For an overview of Luther's understanding of the relationship between faith and works, see my paper, A Look at Justification By Faith Alone and Good Works in Luther's Theology.
Testimonials During Thanksgiving Week
11/24/2008 - James White
I want to praise God for what he has done through you guys. My introduction to your ministry came through The King James Only Controversy. Then as I was learning about the doctrines of grace you were again very helpful in both my understanding and defense of those truths. From Mormonism to Jehovah's Witness to now Islam, your ministry has been a huge blessing in my life.
I was a KJV-Only proponent for seven years. I taught Bible studies on the superiority of the KJV and embraced the circular arguing and double-standards upon which this divisive teaching depends. I read James' King James Only Controversy at least three times and the Lord used it to open my eyes and mind. I am deeply grateful for his work and the skillful and well-researched writing he presents.
Don't ever let anyone dissuade you from your work due to the false argument, "no one ever changes their minds on deeply held traditions." That isn't true. You have changed mine and my whole family is grateful.
Brothers James & Rich…
I can’t begin to even tell you what kind of blessing AOMIN has been in my Christian walk over the last 9 years. I was a new believer when I found www.aomin.org. Your books, tapes, and videos really helped me through the “cage-stage” years! I thank God for raising up men like you. I admire your love for the local church and the emphasis you always put on it.
May the Lord Bless and keep you and AOMIN going strong for another 25 years (if not more!).
I love you guys in the Lord and thank you (and your families) from all my heart for your hard work and sacrifice.
Closing Statements from Duke University
11/21/2008 - James WhiteHere is a brief clip from my encounter with Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah at Duke University last evening. The evening was very short (less than two hours), but it may well be a preview of things to come, as Dr. Shah wants to do more in-depth debates in the future! I am excited about what 2009 will bring.
Unbelievable: Both the Radio Program, and the Comments
11/21/2008 - James WhiteHere is the video from the Unbelievable Radio program with Justin Brierley on the Premier Radio Network in the UK (http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable). Abdullah al-Andalusi (Abdullah from London, as I referred to him before, or, Mujtahid2006, by his YouTube moniker) and I did the program, Justin Brierley hosted. You can see my little video camera down in the bottom of the screen to the left, but this is a better view since Yahya Seymour had a better angle. Well, sort of a better angle. The lights cast a shadow across my eyes, making me look wonderfully evil. Or wonderfully tired. Or both. In any case, my video cut Abdullah in half, and the audio did not sync up with the video, so I'm grabbing Abdullah's video and putting the Unbelievable URL across it. So here you go, the radio discussion from London from Thursday, 11/13/08.
Now, I was looking at some of the comments left by Muslims on this video on Abdullah's version. These are so bad, so...incoherent, they really speak for themselves. Someone named mustafagtgt wrote some doozies:
According to Mr. White, God was seized of his knowledge, seized of his power, seized of his independence, seized of his sovereignty and seized in essence became Godless! If a Christian first ponders on the implications of God becoming a human then it will be evident enough that God seized to become God.Then we have this insight from tolerancelastic:
Did you guys notice how Mr. White tried to avoid the entire dilemma of the Trinity by attacking Islam and the Quran? James White and other Christian apologetics are hypocrites. David (the guy who wears glasses) is another example.
James white has a big ego because after these debates he always makes his own little rebbutle videos and then posts them on Youtube.
notice how James White keeps throwing in words such as "essence", "nature", "person" etc. this is a clever strategy. he thinks his point is proved just because he phrases his statements using certain words. but when you examine carefully, it just doesn't stand to logic.And finally, this classic from stingray2525:
i mean, James White says that Jesus was fully God and fully man. and he expects us to believe in that nonsense! lol well, i say James White is fully human and fully monkey.
no brother, you are wrong! you have given too much credit to james white.Further evidence of my assertion that comboxes should be called IIAs....Internet Ignorance Aggregators.
a monkey can spend his whole life, grow old and die with the assurance of having hair on his head, while james can only give that assurance to others to not cause any accidents to people who might get blinded by the reflection of the light bouncing from his shiny head
sorry james, just thought you should know it is unfair for the monkey to be put on the same plate with you.
Cross Examination with Shabir Ally, Monday in London
11/20/2008 - James White
New Resources in the AOMin Bookstore
11/19/2008 - James WhiteWhen Shabir Ally contacted me and told me he was going to be in the UK at the same time I was, and we arranged to do the debate which took place last Monday night, I immediately began thinking about the topic I was going to have to defend: Is Jesus Prophesied in the Bible? I got hold of Rich and said, "Please call Bill Webster and get a copy of his book, Behold Your King shipped to us right away." I had had a copy, but, alas, it disappeared. So Rich did so, and I found Bill's book tremendously helpful in the preparation I did for the debate.
The study of biblical prophecies that focus the attention upon Jesus Christ is a true blessing. I sure found it encouraging and edifying. Bill has put a lot of time and effort into providing a huge number of resources relevant to the Jewish interpretation of the key texts as well. It may be "trite" to say "a great gift idea," but everything we are adding to the bookstore would, in fact, be a great gift idea for elders and teachers and evangelists and apologists. Get it here.
We had tried to get this out last year, but we have finally gotten past our hurdles. We have added an appendix updating the text to reflect some of the developments since this book was first published, including a review of Mouw's infamous "apology" in Salt Lake City. This work is still one of the most complete documentations of Mormonism's historical doctrine of God available. Pre-orders yours here.
Don't forget this gem either! Anyone who has listened to my debates knows how often the issue of textual variation comes up, so every resource you can get to assist in evaluating such claims is important! Get yours here.
A Wednesday Dividing Line
11/19/2008 - James White
Today I did a DL from Durham, North Carolina. I played a section from the Shabir Ally debate on Monday and discussed the upcoming ministry here in North Carolina. Here's the program (free/high quality).
Going to Try a 2PM EST (Noon MST) Dividing Line Today!
11/19/2008 - James WhiteI might be a few minutes late for that, but hey, it's a webcast! Hope those of you who can will join us.
Shabir Ally: In Defense of Double Standards
11/19/2008 - James WhiteHere is a clip from the Monday debate where I gave strong evidence of the inconsistency of Shabir Ally in his constant dependence upon the most radical, left-wing "Christian" scholarship for all of his assertions regarding the New Testament. He does not adopt the same scholarship when it comes to the Qur'an, of course, and it is this use of double standards that, for many clear-thinking believers, renders his arguments null and void. I quoted...Shabir Ally on the point. You see, back in 1996 when Shabir debated Robert Morey, he made a very strong and clear pronouncement that you can't wear two hats when arguing against the Qur'an, one the hat of a Christian, and one the hat of a "Western scholar." Listen:
The mythological consistent Muslim. Does such a thing exist? I am uncertain. I think if there is one, he will have to be one who never even talks about the New Testament, and hence, never engages in serious scholarly debate and dialogue. I say this because I believe there is a fundamental flaw in Islamic theology and history, and the modern Islamic apologist is forced to live within the parameters of that error. Specifically, his sacred text is ignorant of the contents of the Old and New Testaments (relying, it seems clear, upon an oral recitation of stories therefrom rather than from the text itself) while at the same time claiming consistency with them! As a result, the modern Muslim must find a way to attack the earlier texts when it is made clear that his own is inconsistent at this point, but, to do so, he must use the very same kind of argumentation that refutes his own scriptures. A part of me truly feels sorry for the Muslim who is trapped in this situation, but the only way out is to recognize that Muhammad was in error, the Qur'an is not a divine revelation, and to "come back" to the earlier divine revelations that reveal to us the divine Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Now, Shabir actually offered a defense of his use of double standards. I'm not sure anyone fully understood it. I surely did not. The audience didn't look like they were following him either. But in essence, here is what he said. Try to follow this reasoning. James is telling me that Muhammad and the Qur'an are wrong. But, I believe in God because I believe in Muhammad and the Qur'an. So, if James is right, then I must become an agnostic if I reject Muhammad and the Qur'an. So, it is fine for me to examine Christianity as an agnostic (i.e., assume the worldview behind naturalistic materialism and the most radical form and redaction critics) because to become a Christian I would have to first become an agnostic. Follow that?
Of course, the clear thinking person would realize that his argument would, if it is consistent, have to work this way. For me, James White, to become a Muslim, I would first have to reject the New Testament witness to Jesus. To do so, I would have to adopt the destructive criticisms of naturalistic materialism that assumes, from the start, that since most of what calls itself divine revelation is false, all that claims to be divinely inspired must be merely the thoughts and opinions of men, the result of natural processes, not supernatural ones. Therefore, I would have to apply the same standards to the Qur'an, and hence agree with Wansborough and Crone and Cook and Ibn Warraq, etc., in finding the Qur'an to be an edited, redacted piece of literature, filled with incoherent passages, without an over-arching organization or context. I would have to join Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch from the University of Munster who recently noted that his own studies have led him to conclude he cannot be certain about the historical existence of Muhammad. There is surely less evidence for the Muslim to garner in defense of the life and history of Muhammad than for Jesus, and since I would have had to have rejected Jesus by these standards, I surely would have to reject Muhammad as well. Hence, Shabir's argument would force me to reject both Christianity and Islam, would it not?
So once again we are faced with the insoluble problem of the inherent double standard of Islamic epistemology and apologetics. By definition (Surah 112:3) Islam denies the central affirmations of the Christian faith. This cannot be changed. Therefore, Islam must attack the only foundation upon which its Scripture can actually stand, and in doing so, is self-refuting.
Tim Staples and Double Standards
11/19/2008 - James SwanCatholic Answers occasionally airs a show dedicated to taking calls from non-Catholics. The shows are usually very cordial, as Rome's apologists seek to influence the callers to "come home to Rome." Tim Staples hosted the show recently, and spent time interacting with a Baptist on the correct interpretation of Matthew 5:32. What exactly is the interpretation of "marital unfaithfulness"? The Baptist caller wanted to know.
It wasn't Tim's interpretation that caught my attention, rather it was this short MP3 clip which I isolated from the answer given. The caller first presents an interpretation given to him by a Catholic priest, that the "marital unfaithfulness" means "incestual adultery." Staples quickly informs the caller that that interpretation is only "a way" to interpret the passage. Tim then points out the Roman Catholic Church does not have one infallible way of interpreting Matthew 5:32. Rather, there are several way to interpret the verse. He then states, "There is a lot of freedom with regard to the interpretation of Scripture." But the most striking statement was Tim's affirmation that even the verses infallibly defined by the Roman Catholic Church "are left open to other interpretations as long as you don't deny that which has been infallibly interpreted."
Tim didn't mention exactly which verses the Roman Church has infallibly defined, but from his answer, it wouldn't seem to make a significant difference anyway. According to Tim, Roman Catholics are still free to come up with their own interpretations of even infallibly defined verses (as long as they don't deny the infallibly definition). Tim's answer shows that Catholic claims to infallible interpretation are chimerical. For all the claims to interpretive certainty, they typically can't point to an established authoritative interpretation of any verse. They themselves then provide their own interpretations of Scripture.
But here was the irony of the answer from Tim Staples. The claims for interpretive certainty and the charges against Protestant private judgment are so oft-repeated by Catholic apologists, that they run on auto-pilot. Within the same call, Tim actually stated the typical Catholic argument for Catholic certainty and Protestant interpretive anarchy. I've isolated Tim's statements in this brief MP3 clip. Tim states,
"For 1500 years, the Church always understood that nobody has the authority... just as Saint Peter tells us...of private interpretation.... to think that you or I can run around and interpret the Bible however we want and start our own church and that sorta thing that we see in Protestantism... that is completely alien to the Christian Church for the first 1500 years of the Christian era..."
It amazes me how easily a Catholic apologist can contradict himself within the span of a few minutes. Refuting Roman apologists involves simply listening closely for the double standards. They will typically refute themselves, as did Tim Staples. Learn to evaluate their arguments, and then apply them to their position.
Rebuttal of William Albrecht's Response to the November 4, 2008, Dividing Line Program
11/18/2008 - Tur8infanMr. William Albrecht (aka GNRHead) is an apologist promoted and endorsed by Steve Ray (a lay apologist and pilgrimage tour guide who frequently appears on the “Catholic Answers” radio program). By way of background, I should point out that I am not usually this harsh in my criticism of Internet videos. I recognize that a lot of folks slap such videos together in a hurry. So, before presenting this critique, I made sure that Albrecht was aware that this was coming, and offered him the chance to withdraw or clean up his video in advance.
Naturally, he refused. I didn’t expect otherwise. I encourage everyone, before they read this article to listen to the November 4, 2008, edition of the Dividing Line (link). Mr. Albrecht called into the show and discussion ensued between him and Dr. White.
With that background, I proceed to address a video by Albrecht. I’ve provided a full transcript in seven segments from the following video source (source). Albrecht doesn’t have the clearest enunciation of his words, so in some places I have been forced to make an educated guess as to what he was trying to say. Also, I have tried to eliminate unintentional stutters and/or filler (“umm” etc.) in the interest of simply providing what Albrecht was trying to say.
For those unwilling to read the entire 5,000 word article, here is the summary. The video was long on rhetoric short on substance. The few matters of substance raised are easily dismantled, because Albrecht’s methodology is (apparently) to simply insult and denigrate those who disagree with him, rather to present a cogent and coherent argument. Finally, a lie on Albrecht’s part with respect to the historical facts of the Dividing Line (DL) is exposed.
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Why My Trip to London Was So Enjoyable
11/18/2008 - James White
Two words: Roger and Doug. Roger Brazier and his family and the Edmonton Baptist Chapel (left of the picture) and Doug McMasters and his family and the Trinity Road Chapel. My dear brothers standing with me at the debate with Shabir Ally last evening. My most profound thanks to these two men for all they did for me in London!
A Missing Verse!
11/17/2008 - James WhiteYesterday for the first hymn at Trinity Road Chapel we sang #31 in the Christian Hymns hymnal, one most of us are familiar with, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, King of Creation." But two of the verses differed from what I am accustomed to in our Trinity Hymnal, and two really struck me in light of the open, unbridled, unrebuked attempt to overthrow all morality and truthfulness in Western culture (as seen in the preceding video of the pro-homosexual hate mongers in California). I had never sung these before, as they are not included in the American version:
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.
Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.
Amen and amen!
Is it Prideful to Claim the Book of Judith has Historical Errors?
11/17/2008 - James SwanBack in 2004 I attended Dr. White's debate with Catholic apologist Gary Michuta on the Apocrypha. The cross-examination period was the key moment in determining whose position actually made the most sense of the historical facts. One of the questions Dr. White asked Mr. Michuta was about the historical accuracy of the book of Judith. Judith claims Nebuchadnezzar reigned from Nineveh (Judith asserts Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Assyria, ruling from Nineveh). The problem Catholic apologists face is that the historical and Biblical evidence does not bear these claims out. Nebuchadnezzar was actually the king of Babylon, and did not rule from Nineveh.
Here is a brief MP3 clip of the actual question and answer from the 2004 debate. In Mr. Michuta's response, he assumes Judith is scripture, and appeals to problems of Biblical inerrancy as an answer. That is, non-Christian scholars have attempted numerous times to indict the Bible of an historical error, only to eat their words when either archaeology or textual analysis resolve the alleged error or contradiction. Michuta assumes the same is the case with the historical claims of Judith. He concludes that he isn't going to answer the question, because in actuality, it presupposes a non-Christian worldview. He treats Judith as an historical work. Since it is Scripture, any errors must be alleged errors.
In his book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger, Michuta reaffirms this method of response: "The best way out of this dilemma is not to enter it at all. Biblical inerrancy is not based upon our feeble abilities to solve every problem" (p. 322). Michuta further states, "The problem at the heart of this line of argumentation [by Protestants pointing out historical errors in the Apocrypha] is one of pride. It places the intellect in the role of judge, allowing it to sit in judgment upon the Word of God" (p. 323).
But it appears it's not only Protestants who struggle with pridefully using their intellect to judge the Bible. Those in charge of The Jerusalem Bible likewise struggle with this pride. They state, "...[H]istorically he was king of Babylon and was never styled 'king of Assyria,' and Nineveh was not his capital city." I hear the complaint already, "The Jerusalem Bible was produced by liberal Catholics." Okay, well the Thigpen / Armstrong New Catholic Answer Bible likewise seems to have a pride problem. It states, "Any attempt to read the book directly against the backdrop of Jewish history in relation to the empires of the ancient world is bound to fail. The story was written as a pious reflection on the meaning of the yearly Passover observance" (p. 442).
But the most fascinating example of pride comes from a very recent broadcast of Catholic Answers Live. Tim Staples was asked directly about the historical errors in the book of Judith. Tim answers by stating Judith is not strict history, but is rather an extended parable, and he reluctantly uses the phrase "didactic fiction." Here is the brief MP3 clip of the actual question and answer from Catholic Answers Live. I've never done a study on this, but I wonder how many Biblical "extended parables" actually contain seemingly historical facts that are in error, but get passed over because they were not meant to be correct facts. Staples position implies that if Judith is actual history, it is indeed in error.
Tim goes on to further assert that the book of Jonah is not a historical book, but is rather a "timeless story." Ironically, Michuta chastises higher critics in his book for attacking Jonah and the rest of Scripture with charges of historical error (p.323), and by doing so I assume he considers Jonah a historical and prophetic narrative. (As an ironic aside, one of the popular Catholic charges against Luther is that he denied Jonah as history).
Michuta concludes someone with humility would simply accept the canon of Scripture as given to the Roman Catholic Church:
"It takes humility to accept the canon of Scripture as given to the Church. But once we have made such an act all the glories of the Bible open up to us. we may humbly submit our intellect to the text, sitting at the Master's feet like little children, knowing that even if the power to solve all difficulties is beyond us, there is nevertheless a solution. To do otherwise would be not only anti-Protestant (since it violates Sola Scriptura), but anti-Catholic and anti-Christian as well" (p. 323).
Catholic Answers often promotes Mr. Michuta's book as the definitive source for information about the Apocrypha. I wonder if Gary Michuta considers Tim Staples "anti-Catholic" for his position on Judith and Jonah? That would be a "Catholic Answer" I'd like to have. He probably would not. I'd probably get an answer that states since Staples doesn't treat the book as history, he doesn't fall under the condemnation of "pride."
Rome's authoritative statements on issues like this are rare, if not completely absent, so a Catholic apologist is able to affirm what another Catholic apologist denies. Where is Rome's infallible help on this issue? Is the book history or an extended parable? I think before any Catholic apologist ventures into an Apocrypha debate or offers a "Catholic Answer," perhaps they should at least figure out which genre the book is before they decide what is really prideful or humble.
Closing Statements, Prophet or Divine Son of God Debate
11/15/2008 - James WhiteThough I did not get much video (other than most of Sami's opening statement), I do have the audio of Thursday's debate, so, I here provide the two closing statements with the nice picture the Brazier's provided me with their uber-super-duper digital camera. I think these statements exemplify the contrast of the entire debate.
Apologetics Without Apology
11/15/2008 - James WhiteI spoke on "Apologetics Without Apology" at Trinity Road Chapel in London on November 15th. I worked out of 1 Peter 3:15, and then we took questions. It was a great time, and may be useful to those who are just being introduced to the topic of apologetics. It also contains exhortations for us old-timers in the field as well.
Please continue to pray for my time here in London, and then in Durham. I still have most of my work ahead of me, actually, and it will be a real challenge. Please support A&O as we seek to get prepared for the January conference and debate with Bart Ehrman as well.
A Deep and Abiding Love of the Deep Truths of God
11/15/2008 - James White
I first encountered Alpha and Omega several years ago, when looking for apologetics resources. I freely admit that I was a young, ignorant and theologically shallow wannabe apologist, with a heart to defend the faith, but none of the knowledge or theological depth required to do so. Due to the patient teaching (and often correction) of Dr. White and the men and women he has surrounded himself with, I've come to an understanding of the doctrines of grace, and been granted a deep and abiding love of the deep truths of God - the theology necessary to truly defend our God, and His Word. Further, I've been exposed to such a wide variety of works, authors, fields, disciplines, and apologetic arenas, I can honestly say that there is no better training ground in apologetics and applied theology than at the feet of Dr. White, Rich and the other people peripherally involved in his ministry. I'm now working on church history and apologetics classes for my own fellowship, and seeking to pass on what I've learned! I'm deeply indebted to Dr. White, and all of his faithful companions in the ministry of the Word of God - and I look forward eagerly to the day where I am allowed to witness Christ bestowing upon him the crowns he has been graciously gifted to earn, along with a hearty "well done, good and faithful servant." He is truly an exemplar of Titus 1's description of the faithful overseer, and carries out 1 Peter 3's injunctions as we all should aspire to do. We owe this man, and his faithful fellow-bond-servant Rich, a great deal for their faithful, and usually unknown service on behalf of the Kingdom of our Lord.
May they continue to be richly blessed by God through us, as they bless us through their ministry.
A Friday DL
11/14/2008 - James WhiteSorry to be running behind again, but such is life lived out of a suitcase. We will try to do a DL today at 1pm MST (3pm EST). That's just over an hour from now. :-)
Popes Testify that Catholicism and Islam Worship the Same God
11/14/2008 - Tur8infanOccasionally, I point out that one of the biggest reasons to reject the doctrines of Rome, is that Vatican II dogmatically taught that God and Allah are the same: that Muslims worship the one true God. As well, Vatican II teaches the Jews worship the one true God. This doctrine is false. Those who reject the Son of God reject God, and both religious Jews and Muslims do reject the Son of God.
I get a variety of reactions from those who are part of the Roman church when I point this out. Sometimes the reaction is disbelief that Vatican 2 actually taught that. Other times the reaction is an argument suggesting that Vatican 2 actually taught something else, such as that the Muslims are right to be monotheists. A few agree and try to come up with some way in which Muslims worship God by worshiping the fictional conception of Allah (an interesting squirm, but not particularly availing). Finally, a few acknowledge that it is what Vatican II taught, and accept it.
Below, I will point evidence supporting my contention that the Roman church teaches that God and Allah are one and the same - and that Muslims and Jews worship the same God as Rome does. I hope that this will give those readers of mine who identify themselves with the church of Benedict XVI some pause. I hope they will consider the fact that this is not a true doctrine: that it is contrary to Scripture.
The following is my evidence from the mouth of your two most recent popes, John Paul II (JP2) and Benedict XVI (Ben16).
"As I have often said in other meetings with Muslims, your God and ours is one and the same, and we are brothers and sisters in the faith of Abraham."
JP2 1985 (source")
Nevertheless, neither religious Jews nor Muslims have the faith of Abraham, for they reject the Son of Abraham.
"We are all children of the same God, members of the great family of man. And our religions have a special role to fulfil in curbing these evils and in forging bonds of trust and fellowship. God’s will is that those who worship him, even if not united in the same worship, would nevertheless be united in brotherhood and in common service for the good of all."
JP2 1985 (source")
Notice that JP2 acknowledges that the worship itself is different, but asserts that it is worship of the same God.
"In the final analysis, prayer is the best means by which all humanity can be united. It disposes people to accept God’s will for them. It also affects the relationship of those who pray together, for by coming together before God in prayer people can no longer ignore or hate others. Those who pray together discover that they are pilgrims and seekers of the same goal, brothers and sisters who share responsibility for the same human family, children of the same God and Father. It is my ardent hope that the Day of Prayer for Peace to be held in Assisi, at which Christians of all Communions and believers from all the great religions have been invited to participate, will be a beginning and an incentive for all believers in God to come often before him united in prayer."
JP2 1986 (source")
Nevertheless, those who have not received adoption are not the children of the Father. Likewise, Muslims and Christians have different and competing goals - not the same goal.
"I thank you for your visit, all representatives, leaders, of the Muslim community here in Uganda. Archbishop Wamala said that you are cooperating and that in doing so, you are also accomplishing the will of God, our Creator, our Father. God has created all of us, men and women, the whole human race, to cooperate–to cooperate in order to improve the world. He, our God, committed us, the world, to being inhabited, to being used, not abused, not abused, used, and to serving the human being, human existence. It is necessary to cooperate all together, for the riches of the world are sometimes in danger and the human community is many times is in danger. It requires the cooperation of all of us who believe in the same God, the one God of Abraham, the Father who gave us his son Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for your visit."
JP2 1993 (source")
Nevertheless, the Muslims do not believe in the same God, for they do not even know God.
"We Christians joyfully recognize the religious values we have in common with Islam. Today I would like to repeat what I said to young Muslims some years ago in Casablanca: “We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection” (Insegnamenti, VIII/2, , p. 497)."
JP2 1999 (source")
What joy is there in the fact that there are those on the road to hell who happen to acknowledge some parts of the truth? This truth partially known will not save - it will only increase the condemnation of those who, like the Muslims, reject the one true God.
"This year is also the 40th anniversary of the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, which has ushered in a new season of dialogue and spiritual solidarity between Jews and Christians, as well as esteem for the other great religious traditions. Islam occupies a special place among them. Its followers worship the same God and willingly refer to the Patriarch Abraham."
Ben16 2005 (source")
But James said:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4
I'm not suggesting that we cannot be kind to Muslims. We can, should, and must. Nevertheless, we need to distinguish between being kind and respectful to them as people and endorsing or esteeming their religion. Islam is a path to judgment, part of the broad road that leads to destruction. Friendship with Islam as such is an unkindness not a kindness to the members of that religion. Those siding with Islam are siding against Christianity.
To parody an old saw, we must love the Muslim not Islam: the man not his religion.
Hopefully, this settles the matter of what Rome teaches, as well as illustrating some reasons why what Rome teaches is wrong. You will notice that in each case, the quotation is taken from the English translation provided at the Vatican's official web site. These are not my own translations. Now, I call on those of you in the Roman communion to consider whether Scripture teaches that one can both be one who worships God and who rejects the Son of God. If you see that the Scriptures do not teach that, I urge you to come out from the Roman communion and into fellowship with an Evangelical body that maintains not only the historic but Scriptural distinction between the followers of Christ and all other religions, including the religions of Mecca and modern Jerusalem.
Former Open Theist
11/14/2008 - James White
At one point in time I truly had a great deal of disdain for the Reformed view on just about any Christian doctrine you can think of. I was a self-avowed Open Theist and got most of my theology from that end of the spectrum as well as Dave Hunt and his Berean Call. Reading, "What Love Is This?" changed all that and sent me on a search that led me to where I have been these past 4 years: A full fledged 5 Point Calvinist, Amillennial, Orthodox (Partial) Preterist.
In these past 4 years, I have benefited immensely from your ministry. It has given me a greater appreciation for just how unique the Christian faith is in comparison to the religious systems of the world. I now have a fully realized view of Scripture and the authority of such in the believers life. Christianity is not simply a set of doctrines and do's and don'ts anymore, it is the full demonstration of God's Spirit and His undying Grace towards undeserving sinners, of which I am chief (ht: the Apostle Paul). The Christian faith, especially in it's Reformed configuration, is truly beautiful to me. I have your ministry and your unwavering defense of the faith to thank for that deeper appreciation of Christ and His work.
May the Lord continue to bless your labors in the harvest and sustain your work for another 25 years,
Just a Quick Picture
11/13/2008 - James White
Too late to do much more than post this picture of the debate at Trinity Road Chapel in London. The debate this evening was with Sami Zaatari. Mr. Zaatari was...vintage Sami, claiming victory before I even spoke, often talking about how I "failed" to do this or how he "refuted" me there, without providing any substantive scholarship. That aspect of the debate was unpleasant, but once again, that is "the Muslim street." Demonstrating the double standards, and pressing home the clear words of Scripture, is always a joy and a privilege. More as time allows.
Another "Out of Africa" Note
11/13/2008 - James White
Congratulations on your anniversary which is evidence of God’s persistent and enduring grace in this ministry.
In 2003 I received a Dave Hunt audiopak and in it was a tape called “Debating Calvinism”. As an ardent free-willer and a flaming arminian I lapped the debate up and was enraged by Mr White’s argumentation. I was really angry as most arminian’s tend to get when they are confronted with the undiluted exposition of the doctrine of God’s sovereign grace in salvation. I lapped up the book “What Love is this?” and gave it to a friend who attended a church plant in Pretoria South Africa started and pastored by Joel James of Grace Community Church and the Master’s Seminary. An ongoing discussion lasting years ensued – he gave me a long-letter by James White in response to that book.
Eventually over time as God had mercy my views started changing and so did my theology. One day the penny dropped. As Spurgeon stated, it was almost like getting saved all over again. From an arminian Pentecostal I became a reformed Baptist and have since grown lapping up the richness of this evangelical tradition. From a Calvin-hater in spite of knowing nothing about him or his writings I became a “Calvinist” – not because of Calvin but because of Jesus, the prophets and the apostles. I started the Institutes (1536 version) last night and as an Italian ex-catholic I am enthralled at what I am reading from a young man saved in the midst of error and apostasy.
On behalf of myself and the others who have benefitted from your ministry in South Africa we wish you Godspeed and hope to see you here in the future. I will be forever grateful to James White for standing on scripture alone and leading me to a better understanding of my “Perfect Saviour who never fails and His Father who is greater than all”. I have recently got a pyromaniacs T-shirt from Phil Johnson and will have to add an aomin sweater to my wardrobe. I am thrilled to see you partnering PJ in this upcoming conference. I have been telling my pastor Tim Cantrell, also from the Master’s Seminary that we NEED both of you guys out here TOGETHER. Man, won’t have to take my Ritalin for weeks! We are busy involved in organizing a John Piper event that will co-incide with Rick Holland and the Resolved Team in 2009. We need the “Pyro” and the “Great White” hot on their heels to keep the flame burning!
Another Important Addition to Your Apologetics Library
11/12/2008 - James White
I mentioned last week another valuable resource for the serious apologist that we would be making available through Alpha and Omega Ministries. Well, here it is, Comfort's new textual commentary on the New Testament. Sure, we have the Metzger commentary, but that is limited to the variants chosen for inclusion in the UBS text, and there are many other important variants to address. So here is a volume to add to your library that will help you deal with the growing amount of anti-biblical argumentation appearing on the Internet, whether that comes from atheists, Muslims, Mormons, or any other group devoted to the destruction of faith in the validity and trustworthiness of the New Testament. When you purchase your apologetics works through us, you help to keep this ministry moving forward, keep the Dividing Line on the air, and keep the debates going. This would make a great gift for the apologist in your life! And if you are the apologist...well, it would make a great gift for...you!
Has God Removed His Hand of Restraint Even More?
11/12/2008 - James White
Hatred toward the Christian faith is growing in response to the elections of November 4th. Here is an incredible video that shows you the mindless hatred of the supporters of homosexuality toward a little Christian woman. Watch toward the end as the stomp on the cross they have ripped out of her hands. Remind you of Romans 1? It should. You can't tell me these people are not God haters. It is written across their faces.
Also, did you notice the chant, "Shame on you!" What incredible hypocrisy! Those proposing the overthrow of morality, the violation of marriage, the destruction of a divine institution, have the audacity to speak thusly? Surely it has come true:
11/12/2008 - James White
Sorry! I got my signals crossed with the homefront. I won't be able to do the DL today. My schedule (seven hours advanced from Phoenix) and Rich's don't mesh. Maybe Friday. We'll try.
A Dividing Line Today from London: Debate Report
11/12/2008 - James WhiteI intend to do another DL today from here in London. Would like to report on my debate in London last evening with Adnan Rashid (I don't know why Adnan wasn't smiling in this picture, as he has a wonderful smile!). We had a great and blessed time, and a good group turned out as well. I will discuss the topic, our exchanges, and take your calls as well. Unless something changes, I plan on doing the program at 8pm here in London, which would be 1pm in Phoenix, 3pm East Coast time. If my plans are forced to change I will try to announce that as soon as possible, but, of course, when traveling, I can't always control such things. Here is a short clip from the audience q/a portion of the debate.
Coming To Your Place of Worship!
11/12/2008 - James WhiteIs this some completely misguided group of Islamic radicals who got a misprinted version of Al-Bukhari that included the term "pink" in the description of appropriate facial coverings? No, these are tolerant, open-minded liberal criminals from Michigan who last Sunday stormed a church in Lansing, disrupting the service and in general seeking to create mayhem and blasphemy. Why that church? Well, read the article. Another fulfillment of a Scriptural truth: "The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men" (Psalm 12:8).
A Greatly Encouraging Note from Indonesia
11/12/2008 - James White
I am an Indonesian who live in Indonesia. I discovered your site around the year of 2000. Since the internet connection we had at the time was dial up connection I could only benefit from your writings. Nevertheless, they helped me a great deal in dealing with RCs, Islams, and Jehovah Witness.
Two years ago, we had better internet connection and thus I could benefit from the Dividing Lines and also your Youtube files and other large files. I downloaded them and in one case I trans(cribe-late) your debate with Hamzah Abdul Malik into Indonesian and posted it on my blog. Your most recent material that I benefit is the materials on 'I AM statement'. In my most recent discussion with Islam they are forced to admit that Jesus did explicitly claim that He is GOD. This is quite an achievement because this is one of the most common objections we face here that has been so difficult to defeat.
A Review of Cultural Events and a Refutation of False Accusations on the DL from London
11/11/2008 - James WhiteTook a look at some of the expressions of hatred toward God's law and God's people being expressed in Western culture post-Obamacoronation, noted that he is planning on acting on his promises to immediately rescind executive orders Bush put in place to prohibit federal funds from being used in other countries to kill unborn children (as well as that restricting the funding of embryonic stem cell research), etc. Also took a few minutes to comment on the further false accusations leveled at me relating to erronious or unbalanced definitions of Calvinism. Here's the program (free/high quality).
A Trophy of Grace
11/11/2008 - James White
I am a 6 time arrested convicted felon and former i.v. drug user, the Lord begin to draw me back in 1995, and after a long process of seeking various paths beginning with the Catholicism I was raised under, he providentially set me one night in 1997 right up front in a meeting with the one and only Dave Hunt! My disdain for Protestant preachers was high at the time, being raised in the town were Jimmy Swaggart ministries is located, but , my sister had promised me that this guy was not a preacher…….,and he gave a very convincing presentation of how you can trust the Bible to be what it claims to be,and then he told us not to take his word for it but to be like the Bereans and go home and study the Scriptures to find out for ourselves if these things were so. I did what he said, the Spirit moved, and I was born again.
My wife was a third generation Mormon, and her grandfather, who served as a bishop, was trying hard to convert me , someone at my new church told me of your book, Is the Mormon my brother, and so, armed with the Scripture and your book, I was able to show my wife the error of Mormonism and she was led to Christ as well. Longer story, made short, in 2001 I surrendered to the ministry and started as and assoc. Pastor at a small So. Baptist church. After much study, weeping and gnashing of teeth, along with discovering your program, the dividing line, I became soundly, theologically reformed in 2003.
I thank God for Alpha and Omega ministries, I have read many of your books Dr. White, and I listen to the Dividing Line regularly. As the most unlikely guy to wind up being a preacher that I know, and having absolutely no seminary training, your ministry along with others, has, and continues to give me my theological education, so I Praise the Lord for Alpha and Omega, keep plugging away, and know that your efforts are helping to produce what is clearly a resurgence of sound doctrine and theology all across our land.
A Dividing Line Today!
11/10/2008 - James WhiteWe will try to do a DL from London today at 1pm MST (8pm here in London!). Join us then!
Grounded in the Scriptures
11/10/2008 - James White
Couldn't pass up the opportunity to give testimony to the blessing AOMin has been over the past few years. I was involved with the JWs before becoming a Christian, and when I had been a charismatic Christian for a few years, nearly became a Roman Catholic. The articles and audio from the ministry were invaluable to me in getting my head straight about the Trinity, the authority and canon of scripture, and any number of other issues that should be baseline teaching for a Christian, but sadly aren't nowadays.
Since getting a decent grounding in those things, and, in God's mercy, becoming a member of a sound local church, I've been greatly helped by AOMin in witnessing to many, online and offline, atheists, Muslims and JWs. It's particularly encouraging to be able to direct skeptics who insist that Christians are anti-intellectual to the many tremendously intelligent resources you provide. I absolutely thank God for your ministry, and pray for you every day.
Striking a Chord
11/08/2008 - James WhiteEvidently I struck a chord with many of my fellow believers (and evidently some unbelievers) with the video I posted on Wednesday morning. Since it was posted it has been viewed an amazing 3.1 times per minute! It is already the 5th most watched video out of the 303 videos on my page. It received 6,000 views the first 24 hours, and today it has been viewed 14,330 times. It is humbling to think so many have taken the time to listen to this brief discussion of the world-view implications of Obama's election. I trust the call it contains to a biblical worldview will be an encouragement to many more. Thanks to those of you who posted it and made it available to a much wider audience.
11/08/2008 - Jeff DownsChristopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson debated on the campus of Westminster Theological Seminary (East) on October 30, 2008. The debate was moderated by Dr. Scott Oliphint, professor of apologetics at WTS.
The debate can be heard by clicking here. The debate is the 12th item on the list.
Update from the PyroManiac/John 3:16 Conference
11/08/2008 - James White
I noted last evening the irony of my being in London to do four debates on Islam (one on the Trinity and Shirk, one on the Deity of Christ, and a two-parter with Shabir Ally on Jesus and Muhammad in the Bible) and the "John 3:16 Conferenc" in Woodstock, Georgia. As those of you who travel thousands of miles across seven time zones know, the day of your arrival can be a little bit surreal, and I wrote that post in that state. Hence its brevity! In any case, I noted last evening that Phil Johnson had commented on the issue as well, and his post can be found here. I thank Phil for taking time out of his busy editing schedule to post that. I will be seeing him at the end of this journey. Unfortunately, last I knew, his travel schedule will not allow him to attend the dialogue with Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah at Duke University the evening before our conference begins. In any case, I am thankful for the clarification.
I am living proof that a "high Calvinist" can be biblically grounded and yet can stand firmly against hyperism. I am often identified as a "compromiser" by the small cadre of hypers out there, some of whom live behind a keyboard. I drive them nuts since I am obviously unashamed of my Reformed position and in fact identify it as the heart and soul of my apologetic zeal. I fully know how my views could become cold and academic, and I know there have been those in the past who have fallen into that trap. Of course, I can identify the dangers of loss of balance in reference to almost any theological position, any divine truth. Beware the genetic fallacy when evaluating argumentation! It is one of the most common flaws in modern thought.
In any case, the hypers detest me, and there is a reason for it! I do everything they detest while upholding the Kingship of God in glorifying Himself in the salvation of His elect. Meanwhile, the synergists of all stripes, including those modern Southern Baptists who refuse to use historical terminology of their position (indeed, who rarely have sufficient "system" in their "systematic theology" so that their views can be identified in any consistent fashion other than "non-Reformed"), will continue to throw the "hyper-Calvinist" moniker around as a scare tactic, hoping, it seems, that their significantly less than compelling argumentation will be enough to keep the promising young minds in their churches from considering Reformed theology. But, alas, just as is the case amongst the Calvary Chapels---when you direct folks to the Bible, you are directing them to the very heart and soul of Reformed theology, the living text itself. So you have to try to overlay it with as much human tradition as you can lest they see with clarity the power and freedom of God that shines from every page! That seems to have been the purpose in this conference in Georgia as well. Give the pastors some kind of argumentation to use---not a full response, not a meaningful exegetical position to espouse, but just enough of a response to deflect interest.
Well, much to do in preparation for this time of ministry, so I shall leave it there. Continue to pray for the upcoming debates here in London!
From a Former Mormon
11/08/2008 - James White
Words can not express how happy I am to have found your ministry. Your ministry was one of the solid rocks of doctrinal information I found after my conversion from Mormonism. It is your ministry's constant incisive arguments that have taken away what ever appeal Roman Catholicism once had for me when I was lost and unsaved. The weekly pod cast of The Dividing Line is one of the high points of my week. Thank you once again for your ministry it is truly used of God.
A Quick Refutation of Dr. Allen from London
11/07/2008 - James White
Isn't it ironic? I am in London, England, preparing to do public debates with Islamic apologists, seeking to present and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Lordship, and the Arminians are all gathered at Johnny Hunt's church to try to convince folks not to listen to the Calvinists. Don't you find something just a bit ironic in that? I'm out on the front lines pressing the claims of Christ and calling Muslims to bow to His lordship while those who will falsely accuse me of being a "hyper-Calvinist" are safely ensconced in the friendly environs of Georgia, sniping at Reformed folks---who, of course, were not invited to participate, debate, or discuss.
I noted in a report of today's presentation by Dr. David Allen (provided here) these words:
James White is a hyper-Calvinist by the definition of Phil Johnson. Oct. 10 on the Dividing Line White denied God wills the salvation of all men which is against Tom Ascol.
Let it be known that I believe God uses the proclamation of the Gospel as the means by which He draws His own unto Himself; be it known that I believe we are commanded to evangelize, and any Arminian Southern Baptist who has not been in Salt Lake City at the General Conference or outside the District Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses or outside the national convention of the American Atheists or who will not be calling men to faith in Jesus Christ after defending His deity here in London next week need not attempt to argue this point with me. If you believe you have to affirm that God is disappointed in Christ, disappointed in His attempts to do something He tries to accomplish but can't, to avoid being called a "hyper-Calvinist," then let's stop playing games about the meaning of words. If you can evangelize, call men to Christ, believe in common grace, etc., and still end up smeared by the "hyper" name, then clearly the debate has devolved down to a level beneath what is proper for believers.
I did notice with some sadness that, as usual, the main thrust of the presentation was not biblical at all. And this will always remain the difference between the Reformed and those who cling to man's sovereignty. One side will be able to open the Word, the other will always have to gloss over surface-level discussions. Such is the nature of the situation.
So once again I contrast the difference between how Reformed folks address these issues (seeking debate and dialogue, providing in-depth exegesis, taking our beliefs to the marketplace, proclaiming Christ on the front lines) and how it is approached by others (monologue, never dialogue, shallow, surface-level interpretation).
James White - Debates in London
11/07/2008 - Micah Burke
Download a Printable flyer. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Eight Years of Blessing
11/07/2008 - James White
AOmin, I am excited about this opportunity to say "thank you." I thought this opportunity would only come in Glory.
Thank you for being vessels used for Christ's kingdom. You guys are very capable men who could make a lot more money somewhere else, but you choose the better path. That decision has made a world of difference in my life.
James, thank you for making me think for the past 8 years. I have enjoyed your books. Your simple discussion of the hard topics is a breath of fresh air, especially after reading John Owen. I am even working through Dudes and the Door with my daughter, and she is enjoying that book. Most importantly, thank you for developing my critical ear through your debates and Dividing Lines. I have been witnessing to a Jehovah Witness for the past 3 years, and I am able to hear his inconsistencies due to listening to your working through your opponent's sermons and lectures. Your eternal crowns are definitely multiplying with your passive investments in your listeners/readers.
Rich, thank you for challenging me in using my abilities for Christ's kingdom. After hearing about all the things that you do to keep AOmin running properly, I know you are very talented man who could be successful in many different fields. Your sacrifice for the Church has challenged me to search for ways to serve our loving God outside of lectures and sermons. Serving others with the hammer, computer mouse and a whole lot of duct tape has been fruitful. It opens up many possibilities for evangelistic Bible studies. Rich, thank you for your hard work.
Charges of Mariolatry Clarified
11/06/2008 - Tur8infanIntroduction
Dr. White, on yesterday's special edition of the Dividing Line, provided answers and some cross examination of one of the critics of an article I wrote a while ago on the worship of Mary in Catholicism. Dr. White did an excellent job, I write here simply to briefly summarize two of the relevant points, for those listeners who, like the caller, were confused.
1. External Critique
This critique of Catholicism is an external critique. We are not saying that Roman Catholicism today says, "We worship Mary." Instead, we are saying that actions and attitudes expressed by Benedict XVI and others amount to worship: they are worship. Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
2. External Judgment
This critique of Roman Catholicism is based on the actual events and expressed opinions of the members of Roman Catholicism identified. It is not based on reading their minds. We are not suggesting that the average person at the Vatican kneels in front of a statue and says to themselves, "Time to worship Mary." No, instead, we are saying that the expressed attitudes towards Mary (such as asking Mary to turn their hearts or the hearts of others) are inappropriate - that they amount to worship of Mary.
Our goal here is to warn folks that what they are doing is wrong. We are not trying to suggest that "Joe Roman Catholic" knows that he is worshiping Mary when he recites the Ave Maria, when he bows to a statue of Mary, and when he otherwise venerates Mary and departed believers.
Honor the Word of God
11/06/2008 - James White
I have had the pleasure of listening to Alpha and Omega ministries for about 8 years now. Although I have been truly edified by all I have watched and listened to, there is one priceless thing I have learned above all else, and that is how to honor the Word of God. Before I became aware of Dr. White's ministry, I knew very little about the principles of hermeneutics and exegesis that I have seen faithfully taught here throughout the years. I believe this is the main theme that embraces every endeavor of this ministry, whether it be outreach to Mormons or Muslims, and even other Christians. I take with me a gift of knowledge that will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Thoughts on the Day After an Historic Election
11/05/2008 - James White
We Still Want to Hear from You!
11/05/2008 - James WhiteI still have, well, literally over a hundred testimonies to publish, and yes, I know, October is officially over, but hey...after twenty five years, we can celebrate a bit longer! So if you just forgot to send in your testimony at email@example.com, you still have time. Eventually we will have to shut down that address (yes, that's right, spammers have no honor), but for now, you can still get yours in. I have been greatly blessed by the many I have already read, and look forward to any others that may come in. Here's another from my testimonies folder.
I would first like to thank you for the opportunity to respond to you and your associates and tell you just how much I have enjoyed and appreciated your ministry. I first learned of you this year when I saw one of your videos on youtube. I've been hooked ever since.
I very much appreciate the way in which you handle the Word of God, and the respect you've shown your opponents in your debates. You've handled yourself in a very professional and Christ-like manner. I've tried to take notes on how best to handle situations I might someday find myself in when dealing with cults and other religions. Between your ministry and that of the late Dr Walter Martin, I've learned a great deal in how to handle these sorts of challenges to the faith.
I know it must be hard for you and your family to be going around all the time here and there in your ministry, but I just want you to know that the Lord sees all that you're doing and someday it will be worth it all. As a young minister myself, I know how hard it is to do the work of the Lord and to understand his will sometimes. The road may get tough, but take heart because it won't be much longer til the Lord comes for his Church. I feel that we don't have that much longer to wait for his appearing, as long as we remain faithful and true he will see us finish this race that we find ourselves on.
I'm praying for you in your upcoming debate with Bart Ehrman, I've watched the man before in several instances and know that he will use every trick he can to dilute the Word. It is my prayer and hope that you might say or do something that might reach him and the Lord can bring him back into the fold.
I'de like to especially note that I've really enjoyed your recent debates on Islam, someone has got to set the record straight between Christianity and Islam. Your debates on Catholicism have been great too, keep up the good work! I've also very much enjoyed that series you did on Church history, and have learned alot from it.
William Albrecht on the DL
11/04/2008 - James White
William Albrecht was on the DL for the last 45 minutes of the program today. I played some sections from his videos, and we attempted to dialogue about worship and a few other issues related to Roman Catholic apologetics. I will very gladly leave it to the audience to decide who is able to reason on the matters of faith and history, and who does so in very tight circles. Here's the program (free/high quality). (Note: about 30 seconds from the end of the program, right as I was going to thank William for calling, I accidentally cut him off as I tried to move my cursor on the phone program. I immediately noted this, and thanked him for calling anyway.)
Don't forget that there will be no Thursday DL, but that I will attempt, as best I can, to arrange for at least one or two programs next week while I am in London, and then in Durham the week after. Please pray for me as I continue to prepare for five debates and a tremendous amount of preaching and teaching.
The Works of Thomas Manton, Alpha and Omega Ministries, and You
11/03/2008 - James WhiteThe works of Thomas Manton, highly recommended by Spurgeon and others who know sound theology, are back in print. I know many who frequent this blog know the name, and know the wealth of sound biblical writing this set represents. And now, you can obtain this set, at a tremendous price, and help support Alpha and Omega Ministries, all at the same time.
We know that our small cadre of readers and supporters are a unique group. How else could it be, given that I have pretty much offended every religious group imaginable as I have sought to "walk straight in accordance with the gospel" over the past twenty five years? We do not seek the popular road. Consistency in handling the Word of God and in the proclamation of the Lordship of Christ keeps us from appealing to a wide range of today's churchianity, to be sure. So when I mention resources I have found useful or edifying, many of those who support us are interested in obtaining them. So, given the current economic situation and the many efforts we are making to promote the claims of Christ (London, Ehrman in January, just a few weeks later debates in Connecticut), why not provide another way folks can be blessed, get great materials to assist them in their Christian walk, and support the ministry as well?
So you will see a quickly expanding list of materials available from A&O, starting with the set above. Can you get these elsewhere? Sure, but when you get them from us, you not only get a great price, you help to keep the Dividing Line on the web. I wish I could link to another resource (I just obtained for myself in fact) that I'm excited about, but that will come a bit later.
So keep an eye out for these new items. I will try to introduce them as best I can here on the blog, but you can find them in the bookstore too. When you obtain these items from us, you are helping to keep the ministry moving forward.
Dividing Line Time Tomorrow Changed!
11/03/2008 - James White
Don't forget! We will be doing tomorrow's DL at the normal Thursday time slot, 4pm MST, 6pm EST (3pm PST since you all are still confused on the time issue this week). William Albrecht has promised to call in, so, we will see if he has bothered to read any of our books, listen to any of our debates, and if he understands the very foundation of our assertion that there is no DIVINE distinction between latria and dulia.
God Defines Good - Not Man
11/02/2008 - Tur8infanAtheist John Loftus has the following argument against Christianity. I don't bring it up because Loftus is any kind of a genius of argumentation, but because we see this same argument in various forms from various atheists. Here is the argument:
If God is perfectly good, all knowing, and all powerful, then the issue of why there is so much suffering in the world requires an explanation. The reason is that a perfectly good God would be opposed to it, an all-powerful God would be capable of eliminating it, and an all-knowing God would know what to do about it. So the extent of intense suffering in the world means for the theist that either God is not powerful enough to eliminate it, or God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is just not smart enough to know what to do about it. The stubborn fact of intense suffering in the world means that something is wrong with God’s ability, or his goodness, or his knowledge. I consider this as close to an empirical refutation of Christianity as is possible.(source) I answer:
a) God is perfectly good, he is all knowing, and he is all powerful.
b) God is also perfectly just.
c) There is suffering the world, and there is happiness in the world.
d) The answer to why there is suffering is easy: there is sin and God is just.
e) The more puzzling thing is why there is any happiness in the world.
f) The reason is that God is not only perfectly good and perfectly just, but also merciful.
JL claims: "The reason is that a perfectly good God would be opposed to it, an all-powerful God would be capable of eliminating it, and an all-knowing God would know what to do about it."
JL doesn't know what "good" is. That's the problem. JL seems to think that the goodness of God is measured by what God does for him! How foolish! God is the creator and we are the creature. We exist for His pleasure, not the other way around. When sin is punished by suffering and death, that is God being good. JL may not like it, but what JL likes is not the standard of good.
JL claims: "So the extent of intense suffering in the world means for the theist that either God is not powerful enough to eliminate it, or God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is just not smart enough to know what to do about it."
JL's dichotomy (well, "di-" is not technically correct prefix because he provides more than two options) is false. God is powerful enough to eliminate all suffering and to eliminate all happiness. God is smart enough to know what to do to eliminate either suffering or happiness. The reason for God not eliminating either of these is not an insufficient degree of care. God does care what goes on in the world, and what goes on is precisely what He has decreed.
But again, notice the premise in JL's reasoning: if God does not care to eliminate JL's suffering, God does not care enough. This characterization makes sense only from the backwards viewpoint of anthropocentrism: a man-centered view of the universe.
JL claims: "The stubborn fact of intense suffering in the world means that something is wrong with God’s ability, or his goodness, or his knowledge." As noted above, however, the problem is actually with JL's apparent view that "goodness" is measured by man's standard, not God's standard. JL seems to overlook the possibility that something is wrong with the standards he's using, and instead points a crooked finger at God. Furthermore, since JL overlooks the problem of sin, JL hasn't seen that the real difficulty is not suffering, but happiness.
For more, see the interesting video from Pastor Voddie Baucham that I previously embedded (link).
Let me be clear, there may be some for whom Loftus' internal critique would work. There are some for whom their conception of God is as anthropocentric as Loftus'. I hope, dear readers, that you are not among them. If you are, I would exhort you to obtain a copy of Dr. White's "The Potter's Freedom," and read it. In that book, Dr. White powerfully explains the fact of God's sovereignty. It's available at the Alpha and Omega Ministries bookstore (link) and probably a number of other venues.
Back in the Days of Cassette Tapes (Hey, That Wasn't That Long Ago!)
11/02/2008 - James White
I just wanted to briefly provide a testimony to let the ministry know how much of an impact that Alpha and Omega has had on me and my family. I started listening to the program back in high school prior to the days of cd-burners and mp3's and actually started to record the programs on an audio cassette in order to listen to them on the way to work after I graduated and began attending college. Your program gave me a passion for the Word of God that continued to blossom and grow even as I decided to attend Bible College in order to further my education and eventually practice full time ministry. I really appreciated the debates with Roman Catholic apologists which greatly helped me to further my understanding of the true nature of the Gospel. While at first I was resistant to the doctrines of grace, I understood how arguing from that perspective was the only one that could biblically and soundly defeat the opposing arguments from not only Roman Catholics, but from other perspectives as well; from atheism to mormonism.
Eventually, through hearing your defense of the Gospel of God's grace so many times, and from my own personal study of the Word, I came to see the truth of the nature of man and what it truly takes to raise him from the spiritual death he is naturally born into. It was when I understood this that my mind was finally open to understanding the very nature of the Gospel and set me free from the chains of my previous traditions. To understand that it is the work of the Holy Spirit by the sovereign hand of God that causes someone to awaken from spiritual death and see the glorious love of God through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross has helped me greatly understand my role in evangelism. I can see the difficulty some have with Calvinism due to those who are practicing hyper-Calvinists, but I now long for others to come the same understanding of the Gospel that is so clearly taught in Scripture, that frees us from the fear of man. Thank you Dr. White, and thank you Alpha and Omega for being a beacon of God's grace in these perilous times.
Because of your ministry, I have been continually equipped in my study of God's Word which has helped me grow and better provide an answer for the hope that is within me.
Another One Who Didn't Like Me! :-)
11/01/2008 - James WhiteI came from a charismatic background and as you can imagine there wasn't much emphasis on biblical exegesis of any sort. I grew up arminian and when I came of age I essentially ended up with the half-baked semi-pelagian free-will man-centered doctrine that is so prevalent on christian radio today. A certain bible answer man was my favorite teacher at that time because he seemed to be one of the first to actually demonstrate that you could be a christian and have a brain. A couple of years back a friend of mine let me borrow "What Love is This?" by Dave Hunt. The author mentioned this person named James White a few times in that book (as well as in his magazine) wonder of wonders you ended up on the Bible Answer Man around the time I finished the book. There was supposed to be a "debate" between yourself and George Bryson and I was anticipating that he would wipe the floor with you. From the very beginning it became clear that Bryson was having a tough time and so the moderator of the debate decided to join and debate against you (?!) What I heard in those few hours was one of those defining moments in one's life. There was the Bible Answer man being questioned about certain verses in the Bible (John 6, Gen 50) and he was DODGING THE BIBLE! Now I've told you before I didn't like you after that interaction, but I had to give the debate to the one who was faithful to the scriptures. Long story short, that lead me on a journey through much reading, and many Dividing Line broadcasts. It was during those years of listening to the Dividing Line that I was able to hear the reformed faith articulated and defended in the most convincing fashion I've ever heard. The nuance and precision of the argumentation as well as the application of these truths were nothing short of life-changing.
It is also important to point out that since I became a "calvinist" i have had many opportunities to present the biblical view of God and man to others in my local body.
*One of the elders arranged a debate in which I was called upon to defend reformed truths and it had a convincing impact on those who heard.
*I was called upon to present a defense of "calvinism" to a group of friends at a 20 somethings bible study and you wouldn't believe the things that happened as a result of that interaction.
One of them came to me and said:
"I used to be afraid to share the gospel with certain people, but now that I know that God's in total control I just speak the truth and leave the rest up to him"
*Another who was a staunch Arminian when I met her has actually come to embrace the biblical understanding of God's grace. (I was also able to show this person the value of expositional teaching and also explain the importance of doctrine in our day and our generation specifically. which has also been a staple of your teaching.)
*I've got a friend who attends Liberty University (!) who described himself as a "four-pointer". I pointed him to your site and shared a few of the things i've learned and now he's embraced limited atonement.
*I am currently in the middle of another bible study in which I am able to present a brief history and an "in-depth" look at the five points with a few friends.
It's funny, people always ask me what seminary I went to. I honestly believe that the time i've "spent" with you is more beneficial than if I had gone to some of the seminaries that are out there today.
So praise God for Dave Hunt, George Bryson, and that Bible Answer guy. You were not treated fairly on that show but I can tell you that it has borne fruit in my life and in the lives of others. I know you all are small, I know you may not be a big name, I know you attract much unfair criticism, but brother, you have been used MIGHTILY by the Lord!