Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Three Days of Enloe
07/12/2005 - James WhiteThere is much I could say about what I am about to post, but to be honest, I think just letting the words speak for themselves is more than enough. Any honest person who knows my work will "hear," and everyone else I just can't worry about. The following all appeared in the space of three days on the Envoy forums, written by a single man, an undergraduate student at New St. Andrews in Moscow, Idaho, a member of the church pastored by Peter Leithart, a man I once would have identified as a friend. You will search this site in vain for anything 1/1000th like what you are about to read from Timothy Enloe. I hope someday someone can get through to him. It surely won't be me.
- I think he is a person who has very serious difficulty comprehending anything outside of the "clear" contents of the insides of his own brain
- his serious lack of critical thinking ability
- doesn't have very much understanding of what he's reading
- their entirely anti-historical and extremely unsophisticated understanding of sola Scriptura relative to other sources of authority
- prominent self-defined apologists
- because I am tired of men like White getting away with these historically and theologically farcical misrepresentations of the Reformation and Catholicism. I'll wager that every Catholic here well understands White's radical distortions of Catholic beliefs, but as I myself am engaged these days in significant theological and historical reevaluation of many typical Protestant conceptions about Catholicism which I now consider to be false
- when you encounter a man like James White who is clearly simply out of his league in historical analysis of Catholicism, begin to reflect on the possibility that he is also out of his league in terms of historical analysis of the Reformation--the very thing he claims to be defending-- since he himself is a member of a tradition which openly dissents from some of the most significant utterances of the Reformers themselves about the authority of the Church and her tradition
- the rather unbiblically-expansive category he calls "works" is just a lot of late-breaking Americanized baptistic hyper-spirituality and not at all "the plain meaning" of the Apostle Paul.
- he doesn't even comprehend the questions that are being asked of his position
- ridiculous baptistic arguments similar to White's but written by Eric Svendsen. If you want to see the poverty of these men's worldview and the absolute ridiculousness of their assertions to be defending the Reformation
- men such as James White are not to be trusted. By his own words he is condemned
- Observe his behavior, how he militantly separates from everyone, including other Protestants with whom he falsely claims to share "the solas" and "the Gospel," whenever they disagree with the absolutely radical and autonomous human reason-based premises of his philosphically ridiculous concept of "exegesis" and ask yourself who (to borrow White's constant rhetorical appeal to 2 Pet. 3:16) is really "the unstable and untaught" man
- men like White simply do not have the intellectual sophistication to appreciate significant counterarguments to their utterly simplistic positions
- but I am sure I gave you worse than you gave me because at that point I was being egged on against you by White and his cronies and it was important to me, in my blindness, to be thought well of by them
- I've grown to appreciate Catholicism far more than I ever could have under the auspices of White, Svendsen and other theological and cultural philistines like them
- it becomes impossible to any longer take seriously the utterly simplistic, reductionistic polemics of men like White
- When hard questions and substantive paradigm-shakers simply bonk off their hard heads because all they know how to do is engage in childish knee-jerk reactions of speculating about the heart motives of other people and of issuing cries of "heresy" and "postmodernism" and "denial that texts mean things", etc., it really just gets to be too much
- Indeed, such a man has no comprehension whatsoever of what serious intellectual discourse means
- because I used to be complicit in their "reign of terror" and now cringe everytime I see discourse being destroyed by their paranoia and basic inability to even listen to, much less to understand, other ways of thinking
- White is no Jack Chick, but in some ways he's far worse than Chick.
- John, yes, I now believe that you were right on target in your original analysis of Svendsen as a "baptized humanist."
- It took a while for me to realize that Svendsen was, in fact, merely a fringe sub-species of what I, following many serious Reformed scholars, had always been criticizing in the first place!
- Svendsen is essentially a Christian who thinks like a pagan humanist, who baptizes autonomous rationalism as the definition of "faith," and reduces Christian truth to mere mentalisms and mechanistic formulae which explain everything without remainder
- of the "Auburn Avenue Controversy" in Presbyterian circles, which has done a marvelous job of exposing the exegetical, historical, and theological shallowness of much of contemporary "Reformed" thinking), I have come to reverse my position regarding men like White and Svendsen
- Truly, in spite of their overweening pride of place about their educations in Evangelical seminaries, they are not even the best of the Evangelical tradition but are mere fringe fanatics hanging on the edges of a much larger, more eclectic movement and yet absurdly pretending to represent the mainstream. Their "Gospel" is a reductionistic obsession with a radicalized Baconian mechanism, their concept of "truth" an uncritical Cartesian chimera, their pretensions to superior spirituality a ludicrous slander on the very Holy Spirit they claim guides their thoughts and actions
- Nevertheless, like many heretics before them they are shameless radicals in the grip of an autonomous, man-centered ideology which is only Christian in the sense that it uses some Christian terminology and quotes a lot of Bible verses. I'm tired of their arrogant pretensions to superior love of the Gospel and Truth, I'm tired of their ignorant slanders of and ungodly lack of charity towards brethren who commit the awful sin of disagreeing with the fringe fanaticism of radical Baptist theology, I'm tired of playing games with the humanist vision of "tolerance" that they confuse with biblical "brotherly love", I'm tired of their gnostic reduction of "truth" to intellectual agreement on propositions, I'm tired of their destruction of meaningful discourse between Catholics and Protestants. I'm not going to obsess over them anymore, but sometimes something has to be said precisely because they are radicals and thus don't know how to be decent human beings and restrain their slandering lips and fingers from incessantly biting and devouring others. Consequently, much of the opposition they receive is brought upon their heads by themselves, and I do not in the least feel sorry for them. They are only reaping what they constantly sow
- White's understanding of exegesis is absolutely philosophically stupid and leads only to him constantly confusing the "clear" contents of his own brain (Cartesian style "clear and distinct truths", that is) with things that God Himself has actually stated "clearly" and which therefore only people who "don't like truth" can deny. This is Fundamentalist intellectual obscurantism, not respectable biblical hermeneutics
- You'll never find anything even remotely like this coming from White's pen when he puffs up his vain imagination up about his "exegesis" and tries to beat others over the head with his mastery of parsing participles and examining semantics. You won't find anything like Poythress coming from White precisely because White is entirely philosophically incompetent and willfully ignorant of most or all of the most important foundational issues at stake in questions of exegesis and truth. He traffics in playground bully tactics and has nothing to offer but whining when he's challenged by people who are not afraid of him. He has not one shred of critical thinking ability about his own assumptions
- No one should tremble at White's "exegesis." He's an unstable and untaught man who ever so conveniently is always ready to remind those who are stable and taught that he belongs to "the free church tradition"
- which basically means he doesn't have to answer to anyone and can do and say whatever he likes with impunity. He doesn't represent the Protestant Reformation, but is a profound embarassmentto it. Catholics, run from his descriptions of the Reformation like you would run from the Plague
- a number of people have pointed out the simple fact that "Reformed" Baptists just don't produce any truly serious scholarly work that is relevant to anything outside of their own extremely narrow interests. This is, of course, fully in keeping with their self-defined, self-willed position of cultural marginality, driven by the persecution complex that is created by the fact that they are so intolerant of others's "imperfections" and so lacking in self-control in their mode of expression that they constantly find themselves being thwacked by people who are just trying to defend themselves from the Baptists's ridiculous and quite man-made demands. They bring it on themselves because of their radicalism, but can only blame everyone else. It's bizarre.
- allows him to play on the deep sense of intellectual inferiority of most of those who are drawn to him.
- most (but not all) of the people in his chatroom and who defend him on the web live their own intellectual lives vicariously through him. Very few are able or willing to actually seriously think for themselves, and most of the ones who do very quickly find themselves ostracized.
- one more way of being able to whine about the awful "persecution" he has to endure merely because he's so "faithful" to God's Word
- It's the m.o. of a manipulative, immature, unstable Fundamentalist, nothing more.
- Mr. White and his friends will want to paint the last few posts of mine as mere "ad hominem" ranting, but the history of our dealings over the last 2 years or so well shows that a very large amount of substantive argument has been made which Mr. White has entirely failed to engage on any level other than his typical appeal to the "only" rule of faith, Scripture, as distortively interpreted through his utterly naive form of hermeneutics. Many topics have been very thoroughly discussed, but White's m.o. is such that he cannot refrain from skewing things and cannot provide any kind of real answer.
- White just flat doesn't comprehend how anything outside of his own private, externally-unregulated conscience all alone with Scripture could have any kind of real authority that he has to heed. Only he and other fanatics like him have "the highest view of Scripture" that doesn't "mix" Scripture with anything else. This is so farcical a self-delusion as to leave one speechless.
- Having artificially disconnected "soteriology" from the space and time world, he can't comprehend how utterly out to lunch he is to suggest that there is no true Christian baptism apart from correct mentalisms about a mechanism of soteriology (e.g., "the Gospel"). This results in him falsely representing the Reformation's view of the Gospel as being divorcable from sacramental efficacy, and as a consequence untold texts from Reformers then and now are simply flushed down the memory hole.
- he anachronistically makes a few decades in the 16th century the focal point of all of Church history. Generations of faithful followers of Christ are mocked as "idolators" and "compromisers" by a man who hasn't the slightest ability to exercise any charity toward anything that differs from his own late-breaking fanaticism.
- White appears to get his historically ludicrous understanding of Medieval Christendom from works like Leonard Verduin's awful The Reformers and their Stepchildren.
- Absolutely asinine, but this is what happens when you don't think in terms of a worldview because all you have are disconnected "facts" strung rationalistically together in the service of a warped, single-issue ideology.
- Because, of course, White's view of the Reformation is historically out to lunch
- Whether Mr. White has any clue whatsoever about factors that influence his mind prior to his engagement in such tasks as exegesis. Forget about it. White is a self-blinded intellectual slave of Locke, Hobbes, and Descartes, and not only does not know it but cannot handle any kind of argument pressed against him from consideration of these sources. "Scripture Alone," he cries, and then absurdly claims that stuff unwittingly borrowed by his untutored mind straight out of Leviathan, the Discourse on Method, and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding is simply "the plain meaning of Scripture."
- Whether "the Gospel" is primarily a mentalism about a mechanism, with attached anathemas for "adding one little work" to "faith." Well, of course this is true, as anyone who loves truth without admixture of any "tradition" well knows! The Gospel isn't really about Christ's resurrection from the dead and subsequent proclamation of kingship over all (with attendant political consequences), for grammatical-historical exegesis naturally causes one to believe that Paul's Gospel in Galatians is all about conceptual frameworks first invented during late Medieval controversies between rival schools of Augustinians, and later refracted through the political radicalism of Enlightenment dissenters in England, who then passed on a Calvinism that was nothing but a mental flower to culturally-shrivelled men who can't even go to Rome today and appreciate the finest artwork of other Christians because their eyes are fixed instead on invisible Platonic Forms that only mastery of Greek Bible Codes can convey. Of course. It's all so simple and timeless, truly. N.T. Wright and all who even remotely sound like him are heretics because they are not gnostic "Reformed" Baptists. Got it.
- which tells a sad tale of Mr. White's inability to handle any kind of truly substantive disagreement coming from intelligent, articulate Protestants
- Because the man doesn't know how to process or respond to real arguments because he prefers surface-level modes of discourse and when challenged has little more than the quick reaching for mere gross slanders about other people's supposed lack of love for Truth and the Gospel. He's a loveless, graceless, hypocritical, self-deluded bully, and there are many of us out there in the Protestant world who desperately feel that our Catholic brothers need to know that White (and others like him) do not speak for us all and in far too many ways do not even really speak for Protestantism itself.
- For all the emphasis on "grammatical-historical exegesis", if the materials which men like White produce are any indication of the quality of their education, it's interesting to observe that so very little of the actual, well, grammatical and historical context of the Scriptures is dealt with in these institutions. At some point learning how to parse participles and systematize subjunctives simply becomes counterproductive to actually understanding the text. There's far more to interpreting any language than merely learning its vocabulary and semantical features. Excessive focusing upon mechanisms destroys the organic, situated nature of the language which is supposedly being interpreted by those means.
- so perhaps it is the case that White simply slept through those parts of the education or else discarded them as irrelevant to his Baptist radicalism's obsession with "the Gospel". Yet it is possible even with this attitude to learn just enough to regurgitate the correct answers on a test, and obtain THE DEGREE, but without really comprehending the significance of the answers for one's own worldview.
Well, there you go. The term "fixation" comes to mind. Ad-hominem is hardly adequate. Of course, if half of what was said above was true, every Dividing Line would be a comedy of folks calling in and rolling over this "loveless, graceless, hypocritical, self-deluded bully." Indeed, I'd think Mr. Enloe would be at the head of the line, just out of service to others. But, for some reason, that doesn't happen. I could wish that someone in his circle of influence might come to his rescue, for one thing is clear: he has abandoned all sense of decorum and truth in his crusade, and the comments he makes about exegesis and the gospel are quite simply frightening. Let's pray for him.