Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
To Dave Hunt: The Bereans Called. They Want Their Name Back
02/02/2005 - James WhiteIt started December 12th, with the following entry on this blog:
There are no footnotes attached. No names given. But a paragraph has been added into the middle of Dave Hunt's desperate attempt to escape Acts 13:48 that, when you consider what it says, is one of the most amazing examples of "destroy the foundations of your entire life's work just because you detest the freedom of God that is proclaimed in 'Calvinism'" I've ever seen. When I read it I had to sit back and catch my breath. Yes, the following paragraph appears in the second edition of WLIT?And over the past month and a half we have waited. The desperation of Hunt's ministry was obvious: at first they sent out a list of "scholars" to support the citation that was pirated directly from an anti-trinitarian Yahwist website. Google theology. Outrageously funny, if this wasn't the Word of God we are talking about. We've laughed about the prophetic Dead Sea Scrolls (since, obviously, they could not have said anything about the authorship of Acts since they predate the New Testament period) and wondered who these early church Fathers were who likewise addressed the "Hebrew original" of Acts 1-15. One of our channel regulars wrote a hilarious Da Vinci Code style spoof on the entire claim, The DaveHunti Code. I even speculated on how Hunt might try to defend this paragraph. But I never, ever expected the kind of utter melt-down that appeared in the pages of The Berean Call today.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a translation. Some scholars claim that going back to a "redacted Hebrew" version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts 13:48 more like "as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved." Furthermore, even if "ordained" were the correct meaning, these Greeks still would have had to believe the gospel and accept Christ by an act of their own faith and will, as all of Scripture testifies (p. 264)
Before documenting Hunt's outrageous response to the refutation of his false claims, let's look at that paragraph again. Is there any evidence that this paragraph is presenting anything more than the same kind of argumentation that precedes and follows it regarding Acts 13:48? Is there anything to tell us that this is really an unimportant, nigh unto irrelevant paragraph, just thrown in for the few who might wish to look into the idea? Surely not. It is presented as straight-forward argumentation in the very same vein as everything before and after it. Its purpose is clear: first it is claimed that two ancient sources (Dead Sea Scrolls and early church writers) "indicate" that the first 15 chapters of Acts were "probably" written first in Hebrew. This is not presented as the wild-haired, fringe opinion it actually is. It is presented soberly as a probability, and what comes after it(which is part of Hunt's argument against Acts 13:48 teaching...well, that it teaches) is based upon the idea that the first 15 chapters of Acts were, "probably," written in Hebrew. The rest of the claim makes no sense without this as its basis.
Next, we have asked, and obviously will never find out, where the Dead Sea Scrolls and early church writers made these claims. Even if you buy Hunt's new position (how many does this make on Acts 13:48 alone now?), the fact remains he made these claims, but continues to refuse to document it because it "doesn't matter." The fact is, the claim is bogus, and Mr. Hunt well knows it.
We are then introduced to "some scholars." We are not told who these scholars are, and Hunt isn't telling, because once again, there are none. There are Yahwists and some fringe folks but Hunt well knows he can't provide names to defend this claim, let alone defend this "Hebrew" from which this "translation" is allegedly derived. No one can produce this "redacted Hebrew" text, and anyone even slightly familiar with the actual process of translation (Hunt has publicly confessed he knows nothing about it, which at first brought charges of "elitism" against myself and others) knows that there is no such thing as "word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents." Doesn't exist. The entire claim, from start to finish, is bogus and absurd. The editors at Multnomah would have shot this paragraph down in flames, and rightfully so. But Hunt had a problem here: his editor was his source for this silliness. And so there it is, forever a part of What Love is This? 2nd Edition, soon to be 3rd Edition. I wonder if he will even bother with a note indicating the deletion of the paragraph? You will forgive me if I am skeptical.
And so how does Dave Hunt respond when refuted? When I first announced I was going to do the Multnomah book with Hunt, I heard from a scholar who had debated Hunt a few years ago on a completely different topic. And he mentioned to me, "One thing I can say about Dave Hunt: I have never, ever heard him admit he was wrong about anything." After having close interaction with him now for a number of years, I can confirm the statement. It matters not how clear the error is. He will find a way to avoid taking responsibility for it. And that is what he has done here. Let's see what he has to say:
Answer: I offer no footnotes for this brief paragraph because the source or sources are not important. The phrases, “were probably written” and “some scholars claim,”show that I am not presenting my own opinion gathered from personal research. I am only stating (as somethingI don't know about you, but reading this is difficult. It is hard to read someone who has been so clearly caught in an error, so clearly refuted without hope of recovery, engage in this kind of blatantly dishonest obfuscation all in a failed attempt to save face. Can you imagine Hunt using this kind of defense when he is caught exaggerating in a book on Roman Catholicism, or Mormonism? "Oh, I know I said evidence exists about the Papacy engaging in this kind of evil deed, but look, I don't have to back up what I write. That's really not my own opinion, you see, so it really isn't important. And no, I can't tell you whose opinion it really is, really, because that's not relevant either, since I have hundreds of verses that support my view, see, and besides, James White is an elitist Calvinist...." Let's take it apart briefly:
of possible interest for anyone who may wish to pursue it further)that certain people believe this idea. My argument, however, is in no way dependent upon such opinions.
Yet James White treats this paragraph as of major importance and has even attempted to recruit critics to confront me about this in my meetings. Certainly, any basis for the idea that the first 15
chapters of Acts were originally written in Hebrew is tenuous at best —but that doesn’t matter. The fact that some people (including some scholars) believe this to be the case is all that I stated, but it is clearly not relevant to my arguments. It was not wise to include this brief speculative statement and it will be deleted from the next printing.
The three pages I devote to Acts 13:48 offer many solid reasons for rejecting this verse as evidence that certain persons are predestined to salvation and the rest of mankind is predestined to eternal torment. A multitude of scriptures refute this Calvinist theory. None of the many reasons I put forth for my understanding of this passage rests in even the remotest sense upon the opinion of certain persons that the first 15 chapters of Acts may have been originally written in Hebrew.
Thus it is rather sad that James White has spent so much time refuting a casual statement upon which I place no essential importance,while avoiding the major scriptures and arguments I set forth.
I offer no footnotes for this brief paragraph because the source or sources are not important.No, he offers no footnotes because the paragraph is a lie. Even suggesting something that would, without doubt, utterly deny the doctrine of inerrancy and the transmission of the text of Scripture over time is here said to be unimportant by Dave Hunt, and that just to avoid admission of error! Unbelievable.
The phrases, “were probably written”and “some scholars claim,” show that I am not presenting my own opinion gathered from personal research.Let's try applying this throughout Hunt's work: whenever he refers to unnamed scholars, just remember, what he's saying is unimportant and irrelevant. Just keep that in mind. And, though Hunt hasn't done this research, he will present it to you, but, if it happens to be wrong, well, it's not his research anyway, right? I do hope the reader will keep this in mind when reading Hunt's use of church history to ravage Calvin or Augustine.
I am only stating (as something of possible interest for anyone who may wish to pursue it further)that certain people believe this idea. My argument, however, is in no way dependent upon such opinions.Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! There is nothing, absolutely nothing in the text to support this idea that, "Oh, all I was doing here, really, was providing a little aside for some folks who might be interested in theories relating to Hebrew originals, and I thought they might be interested in this theory---not really a well grounded theory, I admit, and, in fact, I can't really tell you who believes it, and can't provide references, see, but, I just love providing these little tid-bits of background information for those who just want to dig so much deeper!" Yeah, sure. Please! Anyone who can believe that will believe absolutely anything. And please note the desperate, "Umm, and my arguments are not at all impacted by the fact that I allowed this completed wacked-out paragraph to appear in my book. Really. Totally unrelated. I mean, just because I am so desperate that I would at first offer the NWT's translation of Acts 13:48 as the best should not be held against me. Because I took that out (without apology, of course---once it is gone, it is gone, and I didn't really make that mistake anyway)---and I will take this out, too, and that means my other arguments are fine and dandy and you really shouldn't start wondering about just how discerning I am or why all those mean Calvinists say I refuse to accurately represent their beliefs and all that. Trust me. Really."
Yet James White treats this paragraph as of major importance and has even attempted to recruit critics to confront me about this in my meetings.Yes, silly me! Thinking a paragraph that promotes the idea that we haven't a clue as to the actual inspired text of the first fifteen chapters of the vitally important book of Acts is just so reactionary of me, isn't it? Oh, I don't know, I guess I'm just odd about people who undermine the very faith of the saints in the Word of God. It bothers me when folks who have taught in the very same conferences and seminars I have make up fraudulent stories and pawn them off on the Christian public. And yes, I have asked folks to confront Hunt so as to obtain the very information he continues to refuse to offer, since, obviously, it doesn't exist.
Certainly, any basis for the idea that the first 15 chapters of Acts were originally written in Hebrew is tenuous at best —but that doesn’t matter.Tenuous? How about nonexistent? But it doesn't matter? Hunt claims the DSS "indicate" this. They don't. Hunt claims early church writers "indicate" this. They don't. The entire argument about how to render the Greek phrase offered in this paragraph is based upon the idea of the Hebrew originals and the claim of certain "scholars" to provide a translation of a text that doesn't even exist! But, we are assured, "that doesn't matter." That doesn't matter? How can one even begin to respond to such utter nonsense?
The fact that some people (including some scholars) believe this to be the case is all that I stated, but it is clearly not relevant to my arguments. It was not wise to include this brief speculative statement and it will be deleted from the next printing.Does Dave Hunt think his readers will not even bother to go back and look at the paragraph itself? He offered this mythical, fraudulent "translation" of a mythical Hebrew text by mythical scholars based upon mythical assertions by mythical early Christian writers and mythical Dead Sea Scrolls just so that he could prop up his failed attempt to make the text read differently than it does in all committee-produced English translations of the Bible! How dare he insult the intelligence of his readers to say that all he stated was "some people" (including unnamed scholars) believe this to be the case? He then used it to support his argument! The text is plain (at least the text as it stands today: you can believe this paragraph will disappear very quickly!), its function was plain, and it is painfully obvious that Hunt was not merely suggesting this as an odd view of some, but was using it as a further support of his central thesis on Acts 13:48! It is simply dishonest to attempt to say otherwise! Further, if it was "unwise" to include this, why? If Hunt was actually doing what he says he was doing, then why remove it? Why was it unwise? The incoherence of this desperate and failed attempt to save face is astonishing.
The three pages I devote to Acts 13:48 offer many solid reasons for rejecting this verse as evidence that certain persons are predestined to salvation and the rest of mankind is predestined to eternal torment. A multitude of scriptures refute this Calvinist theory. None of the many reasons I put forth for my understanding of this passage rests in even the remotest sense upon the opinion of certain persons that the first 15 chapters of Acts may have been originally written in Hebrew.We have refuted Hunt's tortured exegesis repeatedly. The fact that he has, without notation, edited What Love is This? to remove his earlier mistakes explains the origin of this paragraph: once he had to pull his previous errors, he had to find something to prop up his crumbling position. And anyone who has followed this saga consistently can only smile sadly at the repetition of the "multitude of Scriptures" canard. When you don't have anything left to say, just keep pointing off in the distance to your "hundreds of verses" and all will be well. Once again, it would be humorous to see Hunt fleeing so quickly from the viewpoint he included in his own book were it not for the fact that he does so without the first thought of actually apologizing for his error. One thing is obvious: for Dave Hunt, what Acts 13:48 means is a foregone conclusion: he will not be confused by the facts.
Thus it is rather sad that James White has spent so much time refuting a casual statement upon which I place no essential importance, while avoiding the major scriptures and arguments I set forth.What is sad, of course, is watching the utter melt-down of Dave Hunt, all because he simply will not admit his errors. He is refuted time and time again, and his dogged insistence upon infallibility forces him into ever more embarrassing errors. Is there no one to stop him? Is there no one with the intestinal fortitude at TBC to say, "Wait, Dave, stop, that's enough. You are wrong. Admit it."? Will no one step up? No one who he would listen to? It seems not. The changes Dave has made to his own book show that he knows it is he, not I, who must flee from certain passages (1 John 5:1, for example). He knows he cannot back up his final claim (if he could, he would debate me: he won't). It is pure bravado, the actions of the man fleeing the darkened woods crying, "I'm not afraid! I'm not afraid!"
As I said on the Dividing Line today: I warned Dave. I exhorted him not to write What Love is This? I warned him that he was getting into something beyond his study, beyond his capacity. I was not alone. Many others tried. Many far better known than I. He has refused correction. He has driven his own ministry over the cliff of lost credibility and shown himself willing to engage in the most obvious forms of false argumentation, and then, when refuted, shown himself utterly unwilling to take responsibility for his mistakes.
Some might say that love would cover a multitude of sins, so we should just sweep Hunt's errors under the rug. Isn't he a nice, elderly man? Doesn't he say lots of true things? Such would be a betrayal of the truth committed to us, my brothers and sisters. Love does cover a multitude of sins, but we are never, ever commanded to cover over the mishandling and, in this case, the twisting and perversion, of God's Word. How can we point at Joseph Smith's gross errors regarding the Bible and turn a blind eye to Hunt? How can we point to the mistranslations in the NWT and give Dave a pass? Are we not to hold one who willingly walks into the pulpits of churches around the world to a higher standard? Dave Hunt has passed the line of "reasonable errors." He has entered that of purposeful, knowing deceit in the service of his own crusade against the freedom of God's grace in salvation. He did not listen to me, and obviously, will not listen now. I pray someone will stand up to him and stop him before he does even more damage to himself, and to the truth.