Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Peter Lumpkins: A Case Study
03/12/2010 - James White
Thursday was a busy day for me. I had to get packed and out of my hotel room early, and I gave the last presentation of the conference on the very difficult and challenging issue of Peter Enns. I did not get access to my e-mail until I was sitting at the gate in Charlotte waiting for my flight back to Phoenix at 8:10pm EST. The first e-mail that came through was from Peter Lumpkins. As I sat at the gate I could not but shake my head in amazement at the thought process that went into what he wrote. Here is an accusation that I had made up a single chat conversation from 2008 being paralleled to the public claims of Ergun Caner relating to doing debates in a dozen countries and forty states; debating Shabir Ally and Abdul Saleeb; being born in Istanbul, living in majority Muslim countries all his life before coming to the United States, Ramadan is forty days long, etc. and etc. How can men think like this? It truly leaves me without words. But, here's what I was sent:
Subject: So Now Who is is it Making up Conversations?
Dear Mr. White,
You need to be aware of a slight discrepancy apparently on your part. Tony Bryne recently logged on my site these words:
"p.s. With respect to his first video, I [Tony] have NEVER had a conversation with White about Robert Reymond at all; no, not even in his chat room. His claim that we discussed Reymond in his chat channel is totally false."
As a result, I queried David Hewitt--the 'reconciler' (self-appointed or other I do not know) between you and Byrne--with the following:
The little p.s. Tony left on one level is hilarious and another is alarming. James White has ground Ergun Caner's name to dust insisting he made up a debate with a Muslim. According to Tony's insistence on not conversing with White about Reymond, James White apparently made up the conversation the two had. Unless, of course, Tony is now making this up (or forgotten, etc). So, if White did have the conversation, then he needs to produce the evidence--a DL phone call, a chat room thread, or other will do.
If White cannot produce the evidence, could you please explain why he should not release a public statement of repentance for making up exchanges with people he never had? Could you also explain why White should not include his own failures each and every time he names the alleged failures of Ergun Caner?
Or, better yet, James White could come here and straighten out the confusion.
With that, I am...
I'd be glad to see your evidence for the conversation between you and Tony, Mr. White. If you do not have such evidence, I suggest you read carefully the questions I gave to David.
With that, I am...
Now, of course, I have provided the logs demonstrating the conversation did, in fact, take place, as I will document below. But I wish my readers to ponder for a moment the mindset illustrated by Peter Lumpkins here. As some of you know, Mr. Lumpkins represents the "keep your Calvinism out of the Southern Baptist Convention" mindset. He is a gadfly on the Internet, and over the past few years has shown himself incapable of unbiased analysis of anything relating to Reformed theology, or yours truly (and a number of others). Recently he has rushed to the aid of Ergun Caner, not by providing any kind of rational or logical explanation for the wild claims Dr. Caner has made, and the many self-contradictions they have produced, but by engaging in "distract, cover, and impugn" tactics meant to keep the less thoughtful from considering the importance of the real issues.
We have here an example of the mindset that develops when "the tyranny of denominational traditionalism" sets in. Consider what Mr. Lumpkins has attempted to do here. The title of his e-mail says it all: without even asking first (remember I contacted Shabir Ally before I contacted Ergun Caner directly before I made any public posting on the matter), he impugns my character on the basis of...what? A single conversation noted in passing in a video that took place in a chat channel. This is not about claiming to have been born in, say, Geneva, or claiming to have debated Richard Dawkins and Zakir Naik and Pope Benedict the XVI and Captain Kirk (via time travel). This is about my recollection of a single conversation in a chat channel, and Mr. Lumpkins seriously wishes to make this a parallel to the consistent pattern of exaggeration and fabrication that has been demonstrated in the self-promotional claims of Ergun Caner. The rational mind is left wondering what Mr. Lumpkins was thinking. Let's say I could not produce the information below. Let's say the logs for that week were lost (it has happened in the past). Would there be some basis for any charge of personal sin on my part for recalling a chat channel conversation? Evidently, for Lumpkins and those who cannot see the facts and the truth due to devotion to denominational tradition, I am guilty until proven innocent (and Dr. Caner is innocent---period, no discussion allowed).
It is this amazing example of "let's try defending Dr. Caner by making every kind of incredibly ridiculous accusation we can against anyone who would dare question Caner" that is most important to see. What a shame this kind of thinking is not uncommon in certain circles.
But now to the rather easy, and I admit, enjoyable, demonstration of Mr. Lumpkin's error. A word of instruction to would-be accusers: every word you say is recorded in our chat channel. 24/7. It took less than five minutes to find the logs of the conversation I had referred to in the video.
Now, there is a chance that Polhill in the following log is not Tony Byrne. It is possible Polhill is former President George Bush, I suppose. But there is every reason to believe it is, in fact, Tony Byrne, which raises the question, why did Tony forget this conversation? Do a search on Tony's blog for Polhill. You will see he quotes Edward Polhill all the time. I found ten blog entries on Tony's blog using his name (probably more than on any other blog out there). That would be enough in and of itself, but, it is self-evident that the person posting under the nick Polhill claims to be Tony Byrne (on the technical level, we identified his IP as that of Tony Byrne, so it really isn't questionable). I will insert relevant links after his comments that demonstrate that if this is not Tony Byrne, then he has an impostor running about the the Internet who knows his own website like that back of his hand, claims to be him, and promotes his views. I suppose that is possible (I mean, who would not want to impersonate such a well known Amyraldian blogger?), but I think it is only a little more probable than our being assimilated by the Borg next year.
So here is the log. I start with when Polhill joined, and include all the relevant conversation up to the point where the exchange took place that I noted in the video, thusly refuting Peter Lumpkin's false charge against me:
[09:37] * Polhill (~firstname.lastname@example.org) has joined #ProsApologian
[09:39] (Polhill) Do you all know when the DL broadcast will occur today? 11am MST?
[09:40] (DaleNokia) i think so
[09:40] (DaleNokia) I was wondering that myself
[09:40] (DaleNokia) It should be back to the normal schedule
[09:40] (Polhill) Ok. I thought so as well.
[09:48] (Polhill) frink: Is faith not our act and therefore our "choice," albeit a determined one?
[09:48] (brigand) Polhill: Faith is a gift.
[09:48] (Polhill) brig, faith is a gift, but it is also the act of the renewed man, as Spurgeon said.
[09:50] (Polhill) The issue of the ordo salutis does not negate the true point that saving faith is our act, and therefore our choice.
[09:50] (DaleNokia) Umm
[09:50] (brigand) The supernatural aspect that's absent from the "well, we just raise them to be, and there they are!" mindset.
[09:51] (Polhill) To deny that faith is our act is to deny that it is our responsibility.
[09:51] (DaleNokia) yes it is our responsibilty but
[09:51] (brigand) Polhill: Yes, faith is ours, it's not someone else's surrogate faith believing for us.
[09:52] (Polhill) The dispute between Calvinists and Arminians is not whether or not faith is our choice. Rather, it is over the issue of it being a determined choice resulting from God's efficacious initiative.
[09:53] (frink) So regeneration comes first, changing our wills causing us to want to believe, so we do.
[09:53] (Polhill) frink, correct. So, given that, it is still true that the act of faith is ours and a choice.
[09:57] (Polhill) Nota Bene: It's a common Arminian false either/or dilemma to suggest that either faith is a libertarian choice or it is not a choice. Rather, the dispute is between whether it is a libertarian choice or a determined choice.
[09:59] (Polhill) Conviction, the bible doesn't speak of "faith" as a gift that must be accepted. Rather, it is Christ who is the gift that must be accepted through our act of faith.
[10:02] (Polhill) Conviction, I can't cut and paste the entire NT in here lol. Suffice it to say that it constantly underlines the fact that we are responsible to believe and Christ is the gift offered, just as the Reformed Confessions echo.
[10:04] (Polhill) I haven't been in here long today, no. However, I have stopped by before to see what's being discussed.
[Note: in reality, Tony is banned from this chat channel. He is technically engaging in "ban evasion" at this point.]
[10:05] (Polhill) I am a Christian, a Calvinist and find pleasure discussing theology with other believers :)
[10:05] (Polhill) I currently reside in Texas, in the Dallas area. How about you?
[Note: Tony Byrne's blogger profile indicates he lives in Texas.]
[10:09] (AOMwrkg) where do you go to church Polhill?
[10:09] (Polhill) Rich, when will the DL occur today? We were guessing 11 MST time earlier.
[10:09] (AOMwrkg) top of the hour
[10:10] (AOMwrkg) prefeed begins in 20 minutes
[10:10] (Polhill) I mentioned that above, i.e. Believers Chapel. I'm sure you've heard of Dr. S. Lewis Johnson.
[Note: Here Tony Byrne says he lives in Dallas and refers to Believer's Chapel and S. Lewis Johnson.]
[10:11] (AOMwrkg) hey Polhill....do you ever use other nicks?
[10:12] (Polhill) I have, yes. I've used BezaeMastyx in here before, twice I think.
[10:13] (AOMwrkg) any others?
[At this point the ops in channel were beginning to suspect that Polhill was a banned person, specifically, Tony Byrne, who had been a regular in channel using the nick ynottony (which he still uses on his Twitter account.]
[10:13] (Polhill) Probably *evil grin*
[10:13] (AOMwrkg) any others?
[10:13] (Polhill) How about you? What other nicks do you use?
[10:13] (AOMwrkg) only this one
[10:14] (Polhill) ahhh..ok
[10:14] (Polhill) You need something unique!
[10:14] (AOMwrkg) any others?
[10:14] (Polhill) Probably...why?
[10:14] (AOMwrkg) YnottonY ?
[10:15] Polhill is ~email@example.com * applet
[10:15] Polhill on #prosapologian
[10:15] Polhill using WilliamsLake.BC.CA.StarLink-IRC.Org [22.214.171.124] Williams Lake, BC, Canada
[10:15] Polhill End of /WHOIS list.
[At this point I did a "whois" on Polhill's nick. Note it indicates the dfw (Dallas) area IP.]
[10:15] (Polhill) I think I've used that one twice in here before, yes.
[10:15] (AOMwrkg) heh
[10:15] (NA27lrx) Oh good grief.
[I use multiple nicks in channel because I have access to more than one computer connected to the chat channel. NA27 is the unit that logs the channel.]
[10:15] (NA27lrx) Why am I not surprised.
[10:15] (AOMwrkg) (Gutenberg^) brigand, I found one match to your query: YnottonY. YnottonY (~firstname.lastname@example.org) was last seen being kicked from #prosapologian by AOMin ( not interested....bye) 30 weeks 17 hours 41 minutes ago (28.04. 18:33), after spending 14 minutes there.
[Here our channel control bot, Gutenberg, provides the last time Tony Byrne had been in channel, 30 weeks before, and records his being banned by AOMin (Rich Pierce). Note the hostmasks are the same, proving that Polhill was, in fact, Tony Byrne.]
[10:15] (NA27lrx) Congratulations on having your views presented at the John 3:16 Conference!
[10:16] (NA27lrx) You fellows have helped keep the freedom of God in salvation from being preached from many a pulpit, to be sure! :-)
[10:16] (Polhill) NA27, thanks ;)
[10:16] (brigand) w00t, the witch hunt is now on for Dr. White!
[10:16] (brigand) And the rest of us, I guess, by association.
[10:16] (NA27lrx) As you probably expected, I will be talking about Allen's reliance upon you today on the DL.
[10:16] * AOMwrkg locks and loads
[10:16] (Polhill) I thought so, yes.
[10:16] (NA27lrx) For those who are not connecting the dots....
[10:16] (Polhill) We'll be listening ;)
[10:17] (Polhill) As always
[10:17] (NA27lrx) Oh, one question...I am surmising that you provided the citation from the April DL. Am I correct?
[10:17] (AOMwrkg) of course, now I realize why you were wanting the time for the show
[10:17] (Polhill) Rich, of course.
[10:18] (Polhill) NA, of course. It's on my blog, as you well know.
[Note that Tony says the material Allen used was on his website, and, of course, it is, right here]
[10:18] (NA27lrx) I will enjoy exposing the inconsistencies of the critics yet again. :-)
[10:18] (Polhill) NA27, but what I have on my blog is just the transcript of the call, without any of my opinions.
[10:18] (Optimator) Tony?
[10:18] (NA27lrx) Yes, what was Allen's added commentary again...
[10:18] (frink) Really, doesn't John 3:16 pretty much disagree with them anyway?
[10:18] (NA27lrx) "brusquely" or something?
[10:18] (NA27lrx) I forget. I'll play it.
[10:19] (NA27lrx) Have to get the files set up.
[10:19] (Polhill) NA, feel free to discuss things, but, as the Peter passage mentions, do so with "gentleness and respect."
[10:18] (NA27lrx) I expected as much.
[10:19] (Sue2) he always does
[10:19] (NA27lrx) Like Allen did in falsely accusing me in public without even contacting me?
[10:19] (NA27lrx) Is that how that works?
[10:19] (ENielsen) Gentleness and respect, like falsely labeling someone a hypercalvinist. :-)
[10:20] (Polhill) To say that he falsely accused you is to beg the question. He has reasons for thinking you're a hyper-Calvinist, and you deny it. That's fine. We'll then just have to discuss the nature of hyper-Calvinism historically.
[10:21] (Polhill) Mr. White: On today's show, I hope you will address the vital question put on the table, i.e. is there any sense in which God wills, wishes, wants or desires the salvation of all men, in your opinion?
[10:22] * AOMwrkg finds it interesting that Polhill interrupted a witnessing exchange when this started
[10:23] (Polhill) Rich, incidentally, why did you bounce me the last time I was in here?
[Note that Tony knows he was banned last time, and since he had been a channel regular, he knows he is ban evading.]
[10:23] (ENielsen) Pol is not a hyper-Calvinist. Pol is a Ponterite.
[10:23] (Polhill) You mean to say that Polhill is a Calvinist? ;)
[10:24] (AOMwrkg) no
[10:24] (AOMwrkg) you are dogmatic
[10:24] (Polhill) AOM, so is the bible, as you know.
[10:24] (Polhill) I make arguments and document the sources, I think ;)
[10:24] (AOMwrkg) dogmatically
[10:24] (AOMwrkg) pfft
[10:25] (Polhill) That's different from "spewing talking points"
[10:26] (Polhill) The problem is not with being dogmatic, but with having the right foundation for one's dogmatism, it seems to me. If our views are grounded in scripture and in sound historical sources, then dogmatism seems warranted.
[10:26] (AOMwrkg) but alas.....tame your keyboard.....the DL is in the works and will deal with you
[10:26] (Polhill) deal with me as a fellow believer, is all I ask. Show respect, don't demean, etc.
[10:27] (Shamgar) Polhill: You must be new to the DL. DrO has always done that in intramural debates - even when the other side does not.
[10:28] (Polhill) Rich, incidentally, where did you all get the false notion that classic hyper-Calvinists were against evangelism or preaching? Hussey and Gill were not against preaching to all.
[10:29] (Polhill) Have you all not read Iain Murray and Curt Daniel on the subject? Both of them underline the fact that hypers were not against evangelism or preaching to all.
[Now, I had joined the channel under the nick I use during the DL, and here is where I asked Tony the question that he now denies having discussed with me.]
[10:29] (DrODL) Do you agree with Allen that Robert Reymond is a hyper Calvinist?
[10:29] (Polhill) I got the notion from Mr. White's blog. It's all over the place that he thinks hypers are against preaching to all or evangelizing all.
[10:30] (DrODL) How old are you, Tony?
[10:30] (Polhill) Mr. White, of course I think Reymond is hyper. He denies that God wills the salvation of all men. I've blogged it and discussed it on Gene Cook's The Narrow Mind broadcast recently.
[Well, there you have it, directly from the logs from November 25, 2008, exactly as I recalled it in the video. Mr. Lumpkin's false accusation is thereby refuted, en toto. And note he mentions being on Gene Cook's program. Here is Tony's link to that program on his blog.]
Tony did not last much longer.
Now it is plain that Polhill was Tony Byrne, and that conversation took place just as I had said it had. Will Tony admit this in public? I think he will. Will Peter Lumpkins apologize? I doubt it, but, I'm the eternal optimist. I still hope Ergun Caner will stand before the students of Liberty Seminary and admit that he is not, in fact, on the forefront of Islamic apologetics, he is not a debater, he wasn't born in Istanbul, etc., apologize for the exaggerations and errors, and start anew. So if I can hope that will happen, I can hope Peter Lumpkins will do the right thing, too.
And with that, I am...still hoping Peter will admit his error.