Jimmy Akin’s “Go Git ‘Em Boys!” post is closing in on 500 comments in the combox. I thank the few brave souls who have tried to bring some reason to the thread, despite the utter failure of the attempt. Reasoning with a mob is a tough task, believe me. The very definition of “mob mentality” involves the abandonment of reason, truthfulness, and surely…charity, once again illustrating the whole point of the pictures Akin has so grossly and obviously misrepresented and used as a club to aid in the avoidance of the fact that Beckwith had no answers Sunday night on STR because Rome’s system has no answers to provide to him.
One thing you will not find in that massive thread is anyone on the Roman Catholic side attempting to engage the issues I myself raised. In fact, for the majority, they have simply accepted the twisted version put out by their co-religionists and have no interest at all in making sure they are at least attacking me truthfully. Not that most of those folks would be up for a serious discussion of those topics anyway, as their leaders try to avoid having to grapple with such things anyway. Better to just leave folks happy…and deceived.
In any case, one of the most vociferous participants in the Akin “James White is a troll—but we say that charitably, of course, because if we didn’t, then those pictures would actually describe–us!” thread is someone using the nick “StubbleSpark.” In one of the later postings in this thread this participant made some comments that I would like to respond to, as they would be useful to a wider audience.
Many have said already: White’s actions are designed to deliberately repel the very same people he seeks to convert.
I seek to be used by the Spirit as a tool in the conversion of His elect. As such I have no interest in “deliberately” repelling anyone. However, StubbleSpark seems to believe that the elect will be stumbled by truthfulness, or, on the other hand, will be attracted by compromise. Surely, if conversion were a matter of my talking someone into making a decision that I would like them to make, then I would have to play all the games that come with our truth-starved culture so as to appeal to those ruled by emotions. But I do not believe God saves His elect outside of the parameters He has laid out in Scripture. So I do not have to play those games and compromise the message. Christ’s sheep will hear Christ’s voice. They will not be scandalized by truth. Now, those who are religious hypocrites will surely be offended by the truth of the gospel. Such was the case in the days of the Apostles, and nothing has changed, to be sure. I am sure the Judaizers howled in protest when Galatians was circulated amongst the churches, and the proto-gnostics would have complained loudly when Colossians arrived in Colosse. But such is the nature of truth. It elicits a response–positively, by grace, and negatively, in judgment.
Beckwith’s conversion is probably the most upsetting thing that happened to White since his sister became Catholic. He has all the time in the world to press Beckwith for answers to his questions but the sense of desperate urgency and impatience in his posts reveals something beyond normal panic.
From the first day I announced Beckwith’s reversion (and from what I’ve seen, I was the first to do so publicly, another “White is a bad man” move), I have said the same thing: this isn’t about Frank Beckwith. It isn’t about me. This is about the gospel, it is about truth, it is about the glory of God. It is bigger than any of us. It is the same issue I pointed to when the Pope died, and it will be the same issue I am pointing to by God’s grace when I myself die. You may note that I have begun quoting a line at the end of my major posts. It comes from Paul, Phil. 1:7:
—in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
A person who sees himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, pledged to His service, and His glory, and who then, as a result, sees the gospel as the glorious message of His King, His Lord, His Savior, and realizes it is the power of God unto salvation, the means by which God is glorifying Himself in this world, will be a Christian with a singular focus and a clear eye set upon the goal. Such a person will likewise have little reason for self-aggrandizement. He or she will see that this isn’t about individuals, it is about things far bigger, grander, and more important. It is about eternity.
As a result, StubbleSpark could not possibly be farther off base than in these words. Few, if any, of my most vocal opponents actually have a clue what motivates me. Almost none have any idea who I am, what I do, and why. This is proven over and over again in our debates. Until they get the idea that I see myself as merely an unprofitable servant, and that I fully realize that the kingdom of God will press on just fine without me when I am gone, and that I am blessed beyond words to have the opportunities to do the things I do, they will never be able to figure me out. And because of all of this, they completely miss the point of why I have taken the time to respond to Beckwith. They mistakenly think I’m “panicked” or “upset.” I’m neither. I listened to the STR program while riding my road bike in between listening to Islamic debates in preparation for my own debate in October against Shabir Ally. I’ve been writing the material on the blog in between posts on Mormonism, studying the synoptic gospels regarding the events of the crucifixion, and studying Arabic. Yeah, I’m panicked alright. Just fallin’ apart. Hardly! Anyone who would think that Beckwith’s actions are reason for panic or anything else again has completely missed the point of how much bigger than our little selves these issues are.
I’m sorry Frank Beckwith has gone back to Rome. I’m not overly shocked, as I have listened to him speak, and I think his case illustrates the truth of what I have said many times, that there are many who are non-Catholics who are so not out of conviction but out of taste and convenience. Beckwith never abandoned Rome’s view of man and of grace, and you can pretend to confess sola fide until you are blue in the face, but if you try to wed that with Rome’s view of man, it simply isn’t going to fly. But again, the reason I jumped on the Beckwith story wasn’t about Beckwith. He was the president of the ETS. Hence, this had to do with evangelicalism. It had to do with defining the gospel. Drawing the lines between truth and error. Clarifying the call of God in the gospel. Those big things that are far more important than any of us. I saw the situation as requiring address by anyone who takes the gospel seriously and who, as a result, does not want to see the gospel blurred, confused, muffled. That’s why I quickly addressed it, despite that being politically incorrect in the eyes of many. I have different priorities. Those who share my priorities will understand me and support me in that. Those that do not, won’t.
So, StubbleSpark doesn’t understand me. StubbleSpark does not even know what would truly upset me, or why. And until these folks figure that out, they will have very little meaningful to say by way of criticism.
—in the defense and confirmation of the gospel