For years, if you wanted to read Spurgeon without worrying about who edited his sermons to “fit” their theology, you were dependent upon Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications. No, this Bob Ross (it’s Bob L. Ross) knows nothing about happy little trees, and I have no idea if he can paint a pretty picture in less than thirty minutes or not. But he did everyone a great service by publishing Spurgeon’s materials. Unfortunately, he could learn a lot today from the other Bob Ross, because he has taken to being simply dishonest, and that is not a good thing for a man who claims to follow Christ.
I was surprised, years ago, to discover just how irascible a fellow he could be. In some context, I don’t even remember what it was now, I found him going after John MacArthur over MacArthur’s views on the “eternal sonship” issue. Now, I have always held to Christ’s eternal sonship and have defended this viewpoint. That means for quite some time I disagreed with MacArthur and others on the topic. A brief glance, for example, at the paper I posted years and years ago on the Trinity (found here) would make that plain. But it was clear that Ross was attacking MacArthur 1) without grace, 2) without a concern for the truth, and 3) without a concern for accuracy. And so, though I disagreed with MacArthur, I likewise disagreed with Ross’ attacks upon him, and pointed out the excesses in his vitriolic and belittling verbiage.
Well, I have now learned, you never cross Bob Ross, for if you are on “the other side” on any issue, he follows the Dave Hunt methodology of reading and writing: he sees only what he wants to see in what you write, hears only what he wants to hear in what you say. Over the past few years I attempted to ignore the barbs he would hurl my direction, but of late he has become so incessant that I can’t write a word on this blog without him firing off some kind of inane missive about it. I have tried to correct him in private, but he is unwilling to accept anyone’s correction, even when it is about his own misrepresentation of what I believe (evidently he is a greater authority on my faith than I am).
A number of folks have contacted me, having seen his rants, and asked what has gone wrong with Bob Ross. I confess I have no idea. I just know he’s become addled with reference to the issues of truth. And today I find that, through his mouth-piece “Charles the Brave,” the anonymous anti-Calvinist who lacks the integrity to back up his own claims in public, Ross has now decided to get down to the nitty gritty of slandering me: here is a portion of what he is now saying:
You see, James evidently was lacking in understanding on the doctrine of the Trinity and the Eternal Sonship of Christ, so James accepted and defended John MacArthur’s view as being orthodox. Here is James’ statement in defense of MacArthur’s view, in an email of 11/11/1997:
He [MacArthur] doesn’t have a modalistic Trinity. He believes the Son has eternally existed as a DISTINCT PERSON from the Father. His WHOLE ARGUMENT has to do with the use of the term due to exegetical considerations.”
Now, in view of that statement, I had only one of two choices in regard to my thinking about James White, whom I previously thought had a sound view on the Trinity:
(1) I could think that James was also heterodox (non-creedal) similar to John MacArthur’s view, or —
(2) I could think that James was simply ignorant of what the foregoing statement implied.
I chose #2 and tried to help James comprehend the doctrine of Eternal Sonship in contrast to MacArthur’s view (at that time) that Christ was simply an eternal “DISTINCT PERSON” but was not to be described or considered to be the ETERNAL SON, as He is affirmed to be in Creedal Christianity.
But James would have none of it, and still stood by his guns in defense of MacArthur and he resorted to vilification in his remarks about me.
James said, “There seems to be the strong possibility that your rendition of John’s position is NOT UP TO SNUFF, shall we say, with reference to accuracy.” (11/12/97).
He also referred to the “SOLID TEACHING of John MacArthur” and referred to my evaluation of MacArthur’s view as “baloney” (11/14/97).
James claimed he was “shocked” when I said that MacArthur’s view was the same as Peter Ruckman’s who also denies the Eternal Sonship of Christ while affirming the eternal Person of Christ.
James quickly tired of corresponding with me, made a few denigrating remarks about me, and told me to take his name off my email list, which I did.
If John MacArthur had not later changed his views to accept the creedal view of the Eternal Sonship of Christ, James White might still be wandering in the wilderness on this matter — and so far as he has said anything about it, he may still be out there. He has never confessed and recanted, as MacArthur did.
As for James White, he has NEVER confessed and admitted his error, and who knows — does he still contend that MacArthur’s PAST position on this matter is “SOLID TEACHING” and that Dr. MacArthur’s current creedal view is “BALONEY” — as charged on this doctrine in the past?
Charles, why don’t you invite James to tell us, on this blogsite, if he NOW (1) endorses the ETERNAL SONSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST and (2) renounces the past view once held by John MacArthur which he defended in correspondence with me as being “solid teaching”?
He does not have to “apologize” to me, Charles. He should APOLOGIZE TO THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD! — Bob L. Ross
Sadly, it seems Ross has become the mirror image of those he once fought against (a common enough danger, it must be admitted). The calm reader has already discerned that Ross “sees” only what he wants to see in what someone writes: if it does not fit his current tirade or campaign, it just isn’t there. Had Ross read my paper on the Trinity and the definition of Chalcedon? Of course not. Has he yet? Of course not. Has he read the book that came out the year after our correspondence titled The Forgotten Trinity ? Of course not, for if he had, he would have had to close his eyes tightly to avoid lines like these:
And as I will assert more than once in this work, God revealed this truth about Himself most clearly, and most irrefutably, in the Incarnation itself, when Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, took on human flesh and walked among us. That one act revealed the Trinity to us in a way that no amount of verbal revelation could ever communicate. God has been pleased to reveal to us that He exists as Father, Son,and Holy Spirit. Since God feels it is important to know, we should likewise. (14-15)
But,on the other hand, what about the second understanding of the passage? Here we have the eternal Son of God, existing in the very form of God. He is equal with the Father, enjoying the privileges of deity itself. But, He does not consider that positionHe has of equality something to be held on to at all costs. Instead, out of the great love He has for His people, He voluntarilylays aside those privileges, and takes on the form of man. He becomes a servant in the fullest sense, for He lives His entirelife in service to the very ones He has come to redeem. And in the ultimate act of service, He is obedient to the very point of death upon a cross. (127)
He likewise would have had to read the sections going into depth on the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit in eternity past—but as I said, it is fairly obvious Ross has never read my works. Why should he? He seems to be personally infallible on what others believe, so why waste time with such pursuits?
Now, Phil Johnson, who has had to suffer Ross’ diatribes longer than I have, found this rant before I did, and commented regarding the citations of my letters Ross included:
I also happen to know that James White never shared MacArthur’s view of incarnational sonship, nor did he “defend” the view in the sense of suggesting that it was a correct view. He simply refused to caricature it as damnable heresy. It’s a little hard to see how that would make White a heretic—much less someone worthy of the kind of scorn Bob Ross constantly pours on him.
Furthermore, the statement quoted from James White (“He [MacArthur] doesn’t have a modalistic Trinity. He believes the Son has eternally existed as a DISTINCT PERSON from the Father. His WHOLE ARGUMENT has to do with the use of the term due to exegetical considerations”) is absolutely true and furnishes no proof whatsoever that James “was lacking in understanding on the doctrine of the Trinity and the Eternal Sonship of Christ.”
As to my statement about John’s “sound teachings,” any sensible person knows I was talking about his entire ministry, not this one issue upon which I disagreed with him but nevertheless chose to do so 1) with grace, and 2) while accurately seeking to represent John’s position, which is what Ross seems doggedly incapable, or unwilling, to do. It is just here that Ross is just like the KJV Only folks he has done battle with for years: caricaturing your opponent is the sign of a lost position, and Ross has given more than sufficient evidence of his failure at this point already.
It is embarrassing indeed to write such nonsense about someone when everyone who cares in the least bit about the truth already knows you are completely out to lunch on your assertions. Despite the readily available information (I have only discussed two sources—how many times, I wonder, have I defended the eternal sonship of Christ in debates, for example?), Ross blunders into an easily documentable lie, and for what reason? It is hard to say. I do not know what has gotten him all riled up lately, but there seems to be no end to how far he will go to attack me and malign my character, theology, and teaching.
So if Bob Ross comes ambling up to your e-mail box with another one of his false and slanderous missives aimed my direction, just give him a kind pat on the shoulder and say, “Hey, thanks, Bob, that’s great, but, should you be out by yourself this late? Can I take you home now?” And just keep smiling.