4/30/04: What Brouhaha?
[2nd Response to Akin Here]
took a few hours off of writing tonight to sorta
de-compress, came back over to the office to do a little
more work on an article, and found it necessary to put on my
helmet and dodge a flood of incoming fire, both in channel
and then in the "blogosphere." Though I had commented
only on Jimmy Akin's ruminations about me, and then replied
to theological issues raised by some of his commentators, he
has chosen to post a rather lengthy response to a much wider
set of "issues." He calls it "The James White
Brouhaha." And he starts out his comments with,
"Although I personally find James White as abrasive as
later adds, "and however un-Christlike White may be in his
demeanor...." Wow, how is that for a "How do you do?"
Why Mr. Akin chose to start out on the "slash and burn" road
I'm not sure. It sure doesn't help in setting up a
future debate! But I'm sure it is my fault, for some
reason, and should I find such a comment offensive, I'm sure
it is just because I am the abrasive, un-Christlike
Now, for those who may not know, Jimmy Akin is "Staff
Apologist" for Catholic Answers. For those who
have somewhat lost track of Catholic Answers, they
are the organization that gave Gerry Matatics his start in
the apologetics world. Back in the 1980s they were big
on challenging folks to debate, and Matatics was their main
man. But in early 1990 that all changed, and over the
years the emphasis on debating has waned greatly. For
a while it was Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, and James Akin.
Then Madrid left and began Envoy Magazine, and Akin
took over most of his duties, appearing frequently on their
national radio program, and handling a lot of the writing
and editing in This Rock magazine. So, with
that brief history, some brief replies, following Mr. Akin's
will avoid personally commenting on whether I find Mr. Akin
abrasive or not. I do find his discussing issues such
as "inceptive aorists" without having any background upon
which to do so "less than useful." I do not seek
"fans," and have not, at the time of this writing, even read
the comments on Akin's blog to which he refers.
2) Outside of the gratuitous insults, some of
our readers could read this paragraph and honestly think it
was written by someone I will be debating later this year!
:-) I recognize what God did for me in my salvation,
and that my baptism was my witness to others of what God had
already done in my heart, which is what made it so special
and meaningful, rather than an empty action looking forward
to some hoped for fulfillment (in one view), or one that
allegedly put me in a "state of grace" before my heart was
ever touched by grace.
3) Here is the obligatory attack upon my
scholarship based upon the "you can't do scholarship unless
an agency of librarians approved by the gov't says you can"
argument, one that, I do believe, will self-destruct in the
not-too-distant future for other reasons. For now, I
invite Mr. Akin to try a little harder, examine the work I
have done in my field, and dare demonstrate that the years I
spent on those degrees produced published work below par for the field
in which the degree is claimed.
Keeping in mind that those degrees are in apologetics, scan
down the list of my work here and
see if you can figure out a logical basis for Akin's
comments. If scholarship is something you buy from a
school you can argue as he does: if it is something you
do consistently in teaching and writing and research,
then I think the rational person can judge for themselves.
Oh, and as to the "why go that route" question, the answer
is simple: obedience to Christ's call on my life as seen in
my commitment to Alpha and Omega Ministries and the
Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.
Dear Alexander: Are
there any depths to which you will not sink? Any cause
you will not aid? I have been very open in promoting
the propriety and viability of doing advanced educational
studies within the purview of the local church. Now
you slander me by saying I have been deceptive!
Witness to the deception, Alexander, or again admit your
constant lack of honesty and forthrightness!]
4) I do not claim infallibility in anything.
And I deny it to Mr. Akin as well. And since I
continue to grow in my sanctification and therefore in the
assurance of my salvation on an experiential basis, I do not
use the term "infallible" of my certainty. I say it is
sufficient, and it is part of saving faith. How any
Roman Catholic can claim to have something superior in light
of the never-perfecting sacrifice of Christ and the entire
sacramental system of Rome, I have no idea.
5) Chris Arnzen arranges the Great Debates on
Long Island. And he talked to Mr. Akin twice
regarding representing the Roman Catholic position in debate
on Long Island. Mr. Arnzen is the singular person who
arranges these debates, and hence is as official as you can
get regarding the Long Island debates. And, if we were
to arrange a debate as part of a future ministry cruise, for
example, Mike O'Fallon would be the one who arranges it.
When I debated Dr. John Sanders on Open Theism at Reformed
Theological Seminary in Orlando in 2002, I never spoke to
Dr. Sanders until the day of our first debate. Mike
O'Fallon did all of that work, and properly so. It
would be ridiculous to say that since I did not personally
speak to him on the phone beforehand that he had not been
challenged to do the debate. Hence, if Mr. O'Fallon
calls Mr. Akin to discuss arrangements, that is just as
"official" (and, given my schedule and inability to do a
good job working on arrangements and the like, much smarter)
than if I did it myself.
6) A debate has a thesis, a format, and equal
opportunities for discussion. I am sorry Mr. Akin
thinks a widely-ranging call-in radio program is tantamount
to a formal debate. I find that utterly without merit,
and leave it to the reader to decide.
7) No one has ever once contacted us to my
knowledge about any irregularities regarding the KIXL
debate, including Mr. Akin. Why wait years to even
raise the issue? I have never listened to the debate
myself, and hence have no idea if what Akin says is true or
8) We had considered installing blog software
that would support comments, but I do not have the time to
monitor such a feature to begin with, and unlike Catholic
Answers, which has a multi-million dollar budget and a
staff at least six or more times larger than our own, the
only other staff person does not have time to mess with it
either. My blog developed out of the fact that it took
me far too long to post new articles on the main page, and
the "blog" idea allows me to discuss a wide variety of
issues and to keep folks up to date on upcoming topics on
The Dividing Line.
Now, as I said
earlier, I would like to arrange a debate with Mr. Akin
either in 2005 or 2006, depending on our schedules.
Despite Akin's dismissal of my education, I happen to teach,
regularly, and it has gotten more and more difficult to
arrange large "events" (like this November's conference and
cruise) around my teaching duties, let alone my publishing
deadlines. Hence, I would like to involve those who
have expertise in making such things work (Mr. Arnzen, if
Mr. Akin would like to join the likes of Patrick Madrid,
Mitchell Pacwa, Gary Michuta, and Peter Stravinskas---all of
whom have engaged in the debates on Long Island; Mr.
O'Fallon if he would rather not travel by air that far in
hopes of combining the event with his future plans for the
ministry), for I know my strengths and my weaknesses, and
organizing and arranging such things is not something
I handle with expertise. The Lord has given me great
colleagues and friends who are the "detail" men, and they
are the ones who will get in touch with Mr. Akin.
4/29/04: God Gives His People an Apologetic Response
But the LORD
is the true God; He is the living God and the
everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the
nations cannot endure His indignation. Thus you
shall say to them, “The gods that did not make the
heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and
from under the heavens.” (Jeremiah 10:10-11)
Jeremiah 10:11 is
the only verse in Jeremiah’s prophecy that is written in
Aramaic rather than Hebrew. As a result, many feel it is a
gloss or interpolation. However, a much more logical reason
exists. Charles Feinberg notes, “It should, however, be
remembered that Aramaic was the lingua franca of the day; so
the pagan idolators would be able to read the judgment of
God on their idolatry.” And in a textual note, he also says,
No one has
ever explained why an interpolator would introduce it
here. It was a proverbial saying; so it was given in the
language of the people (so Streane). The best
explanation appears to be that it is in Aramaic so that
the exiles could use these very words as a reply to
solicitations by the Chaldeans to join in their idol
Feinberg, “Jeremiah” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary,
What does this mean? God's people found
themselves in the midst of idolatry, under constant pressure
from those around them to give in to the temptation to join
the worship of Yahweh with the worship of other gods (just
as we are today tempted to give in on the "offensive"
aspects of the truth of God, especially regarding the
gospel). God gave his people the very words they were
to use in rejecting the temptation of those around them, in
a language they could understand! And do not fail to
note that the reply was not "politically correct" either!
They were not to say, "Oh, we would like to share
with you a different way that we think is a
bit better than yours." No, they were to say that
those false gods would perish! When it comes to the
"non-negotiables," why are so many today bent upon
More from Jimmy Akin's Blog
After responding to Jimmy Akin's blog
note, I took a moment to read the comments attached to it. I
found them fascinating. Some were your standard "ra-ra" kind
of comments from folks who obviously are not big on fairly
evaluating apologetic material and logical argumentation. One
fellow, Brad Haas, was all excited about Dave Armstrong's
"work." Sorry, but anyone who can read Armstrong's meandering
diatribes and go, "Ooh, that's good!" isn't going to find much
of what I have to say useful anyway. Sorry, Brad. A number of
them likewise made reference to the BAM show as if it were a
debate (obviously, covering dozens of topics, sometimes with
less than 60 seconds to make a comment, is anything BUT a
debate). One wrote, "Hearing White fumbling after you asked
him 'Do you know with absolute infallibility that you're
really saved?' was only one of a number of times where I felt
you completely destroyed the Protestant position." It has been
a number of years since that BAM program, and I generally do
not go back to listen to things from that far back, but to
give a meaningful response to such a question would require,
in the Roman Catholic context, differentiating between their
claims of epistemological certainty and infallibility and my
own understanding of the nature of man, the authority of the
church, etc., and then would require relating this to the
nature of saving faith, the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and
the nature of sanctification (which would likewise require a
discussion of the relationship, and differences between,
justification and sanctification, again in the Roman Catholic
context). So I suppose if that question was asked and I had
less than a minute to respond it would be nigh unto impossible
to do anything but "fumble" in the eyes of one who
probably accepts Rome's claims to infallibility without giving
the matter a second thought. But it is surely odd how folks
can listen to the same program and come away with completely
Be that as it may, the comment I found most interesting
speaks to an interesting aspect of Alpha and Omega
Ministries. One of the comments referred to my blog where
I wrote on the recent "abortion rights" march (I have a hard
time with such euphemistic terminology: "holocaust rights"
would make as much sense). But, the day before, I had written
on the new Vatican document on the sacraments. In that article
I had quoted from the WCF and demonstrated that it was
anything but "eirenic" in its rightful rejection of Rome's
denial of the finished, completed, perfect work of Christ in
its theology of the "Eucharistic sacrifice." The contrast of
the two was too much for the writer, who considers the
proclamation of a finished, perfect work an "attack" on
Christ's "very Body." He calls it "slander" to identify Rome's
beliefs in the fashion of the WCF. Of course, let us remember
how many thousands died over the centuries at Rome's hands for
refusing to believe her doctrine of the Mass as a propitiatory
sacrifice. I wonder if the person who was offended by my
rejection of Rome's doctrine is likewise offended at the
history of his own communion? I wonder if he is offended at
the Popes who pursued entire crusades against peaceful
evangelicals in the Piedmont Valley? Am I offended by Rome's
teachings? Of course. I'm offended that she would pretend to
lord over the consciences of men with her man-made traditions.
But I am most offended that she would turn the finished,
perfect work of Christ into a repetitious sacrifice that never
perfects anyone for whom it is made, and that in direct
contradiction to the inspired Word of God.
Now, I can either channel my "offense" into speaking
the truth with clarity and forcefulness to those who have been
given a false hope by Rome, or, I can go the Jack Chick route
and just produce prejudiced bluster. If I had not very
clearly, and very carefully, explained why Rome's sacrifice of
the Mass is a blasphemy to the finished work of Christ (the
subject of my very first book, in fact), then I would have no
basis upon which to complain of the man's comments. But I
have, and I simply point out that what he calls "slander" is
nothing more than "historic, exegetically based Reformed
teaching on the key passages on the atoning work of Jesus
4/28/04: Jimmy Akin and Catholic Answers
Last year, right after the Great
Debate on Long Island, I got in contact with Jimmy Akin again.
We had tried to get him involved in the annual debates on Long
Island, twice he had agreed, and twice had pulled out.
This had led us to be hesitant to even ask, since it is so
hard to "fix" things when one of the participants pulls out.
Anyway, rather quickly the issue became formulating a topic,
but right then I had a ton of things hit me all at once,
including travel, teaching, a publishing deadline, and in the
meantime the folks back on Long Island arranged this year's
debate opponent anyway. So the convo ended. I've
heard that Jimmy Akin has made comments about being willing to
debate on Catholic Answers Live, and have even recorded
some comments (just never to around to playing them on the
DL). So I found this entry on Akin's blog most
Jimmy vs. James:
Two Diff'rent Guys This Time
me when your going to throw down with James White of A&O
say. Don't have anything scheduled with him at the moment,
but am open if the right topic and venue comes up.
We heard he
is afraid of you......
presume to know what's in another's heart in such a matter,
though I do detect signs that there are certain subjects
that White doesn't seem to want to debate--not for
intellectual reasons (e.g., Catholics and Protestants aren't
close enough on them to make it profitable to debate them)
but for some other reason.
It is my
understanding that Mr. Akin does not like to fly, hence the
problems in getting him across the US for the New York
debates. But, we had been inviting Catholic Answers
(including Karl Keating) to debate in San Diego (their
home base) for quite some time. In fact, we had
contacted them first before getting Mitch Pacwa to debate in
December of 1999 in El Cajon. In any case, since we have
a lot of friends in the Southern California area, I am certain
an appropriate debate can be arranged with Jimmy Akin.
There is still the matter of his errors on the "inceptive
aorist" at John 6 to address, of course, so possibly a debate
on the issue of election and predestination would be possible
(Jimmy Akin was once associated with the Presbyterian Church).
Soteriology would be relevant, given his book on the subject.
Of course, I think the Marian Dogmas are the single best
illustration of how Rome does not function on the basis of
"Scripture and Tradition," so I would definitely challenge him
to defend one or more of those dogmas.
As to what "certain subjects" Mr. Akin is referring to,
I have no idea. Surely when picking a topic it is
important to make it one where there is a clear issue at stake
so that people will be interested in attending and you can
make an important point. There are certain topics that
are simply not worth debating since they do not allow for
meaningful interaction. "The Pope's Personal Motto is
Goofy" just wouldn't fly (though I would support the thesis).
In any case, let's look at the schedule for 2005/2006
and put something together. Possibly a two-night
encounter, one night I defend, one night Mr. Akin defends?
I know there is talk of cruising to Alaska again in the
future, so if not in Southern California, somewhere on the
West Coast might work out as well so that we can make the
debate part of the cruise experience (like this year in LA).
In any case, to the person who wrote to Catholic Answers:
since Jimmy Akin and I have only done one debate (and no, it
was not on BAM. That was not a debate anymore than Open
Lines Friday is a "debate" on Rush), on KIXL radio in Austin,
I very much look forward to a truly formal debate, with video
cameras, proper moderation, and topics that will allow the
truth to be clearly seen.
4/27/04: They Marched for Murder
She looked into the camera and said,
"I think it is just sad that we have to be here today." She
was talking about being one of more than half a million people
gathered in Washington in support of "abortion rights." Yes, I
agreed: it is very sad. The march was called the "March for
Women's Lives." Given that nearly half of those who lose their
lives in the murder of unborn children are women, the title is
tragically ironic. And the woman's statement, meant to say
that we should be "beyond" the debate over abortion, reminded
me of the description of those who become accustomed to evil
in Isaiah 5:20, who call evil good and good evil. You see, we
live in a day when the humanity of the pre-born child is so
clearly documented, so forcefully proven through our modern
technology, that every possible excuse that could be offered
has become absurd on its face. When I listen to the mindless
rhetoric shoveled out by those who seek to defend this "right"
I am forced to recognize again the truth that total depravity
extends to the mind of mankind, so that "they became futile in
their reasoning and their senseless hearts became darkened"
(Romans 1:21). This is all that can possibly explain how we
can have such compelling, convincing evidence of the humanity
of the pre-born child and yet these image bearers seek to
continue the holocaust of innocents with every fiber of their
being, all the time fleeing in panic from any logical
challenge to their tortured reasoning. Yes indeed, those who
refuse love the truth will be caused to love a lie.
Oh God, save the little ones. Melt the hearts of stone
of those who murder them. Grant repentance, we pray.
4/25/04: New Vatican Document Released
A fairly major Vatican document has
been released, Redemptionis Sacramentum. It
addresses the 'proper' celebration of the sacraments in the
Roman Catholic Church. It has a number of interesting
statements, many of which would be excellent "blog fodder,"
but this one was most interesting:
celebration of the Eucharist in the Sacrifice of the Mass is
truly the origin and end of the worship given to the Eucharist
outside the Mass. Furthermore the sacred species are reserved
after Mass principally so that the faithful who cannot be
present at Mass, above all the sick and those advanced in age,
may be united by sacramental Communion to Christ and his
Sacrifice which is offered in the Mass." In addition, this reservation also permits the practice of
adoring this great Sacrament and offering it the worship due
to God. Accordingly, forms of adoration that are not only
private but also public and communitarian in nature, as
established or approved by the Church herself, must be greatly
And a little later:
worship of the Eucharist outside the Sacrifice of the Mass is
a tribute of inestimable value in the life of the Church. Such
worship is closely linked to the celebration of the
Therefore both public and private devotion to the Most Holy
Eucharist even outside Mass should be vigorously promoted, for
by means of it the faithful give adoration to Christ, truly
and really present, the “High Priest of the good things to
come" and Redeemer of the whole world. “It is the
responsibility of sacred Pastors, even by the witness of their
life, to support the practice of Eucharistic worship and
especially exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament, as well as
prayer of adoration before Christ present under the
There was a day,
not too long ago, when you could assume that just about every
well-read, theologically concerned "evangelical" would read
those words with nothing but utter disdain and deep sadness
for anyone who would believe such teaching. At least I
thought most of us had some idea of what Rome means by
"Sacrifice of the Mass" and what is involved in seeing people
bowing before a tabernacle or monstrance or ciborium.
Even if people were not fully aware of all of the details of
Roman theology regarding the Mass, transubstantiation, and the
like, there was a general recognition that the sacrifice of
Christ is so sacred, the gospel so holy, that to engage in
this kind of activity, which is so plainly based upon human
tradition and unbiblical teaching, is to bring great offense
to God. The language of the Westminster Confession is anything
but "eirenic" when it addresses this topic:
In this sacrament,
Christ is not offered up to His Father; not any real sacrifice
made at all, for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but
only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by
Himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual
oblation of all possible praise unto God, for the same, so
that the popish sacrifice of the mass (as they call it) is
most abominably injurious to Christ's one, only sacrifice, the
alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect. (29:2)
Private masses, or
receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other, alone, as
likewise, the denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the
elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about, for
adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious
use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to
the institution of Christ. (29:4)
That doctrine which
maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into
the substance of Christ's body and blood (commonly called
transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any
other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to
common sense, and reason; overthroweth the nature of the
sacrament, and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold
superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries. (29:6)
has not only become foreign to our post-modern world, but,
sadly, has become foreign to many who claim to be "Reformed"
as well. "Popish sacrifice," "abominably injurious,"
"repugnant," "cause of manifold superstitions" and "gross
idolatries" are not phrases born of compromise or a spirit
that finds anything in the source of such teachings a ground
for "getting along" and "dialoguing" about our "perspectives."
Such descriptions assume that the truth about the sacrifice of
Christ is knowable and known; that to pervert that truth is to
separate oneself from the very gospel of Christ; and that to
refuse to speak boldly in defense of the very death of Christ
on the cross is to show oneself a friend of the world and an
enemy of the faith. On a simple gut level, a person who
loves the redemptive message of the cross cannot possibly sit
idly by when someone begins promoting Rome's doctrine of the
never-truly-propitiatory, never-truly-finished, always
on-going, non-perfecting sacrifice in the Mass. You
might as well say it is manly to sit by while someone insults
your wife while smiling and nodding and saying, "I appreciate
your perspective." When I read the above cited Roman
Catholic document blithely quoting Hebrews 9:11 while ripping
it completely out of its context and, in fact, attaching it to
a teaching that is a direct and unmitigated repudiation of the
precious truth of Hebrews 9:11-12, I am offended.
If you are not, and you are not a Roman Catholic, and you
understand the basic issues involved, may I ask why not?
If your entire hope rests solely in the finished work of
Christ, in the sufficiency of His sacrifice, the completion of
His atonement, the all-encompassing perfection of Him as
Prophet, Priest, and King---how can you see those words,
realize how they impact hundreds of millions of people
adversely by driving them away from the truth, and not have a
visceral, holy reaction of indignation? I confess, given
how people can get all passionate about sports teams,
fashions, eschatologies, periods of history, or any number of
other such things, I truly wonder how someone can truly be
trusting in the gospel and yet not have passion about
its denial and perversion!
One answer, these days, seems to be found in a simple
line of reasoning: "Triune baptism joins you to the new
covenant. Hence, objectively it makes you a Christian.
Therefore, Roman Catholics are Christians. Therefore,
ecumenical dialogue within the 'church' is healthy, so let's
all chat about our perspectives and viewpoints and see if we
can't increase the level of unity in professing Christianity."
Sounds good, right? Except, one little thing is missing:
the gospel of Jesus Christ. Triune baptism,
without the gospel, and especially in the context of a
denial of the very work of the Triune God, is a mockery of
the words being spoken and the Christ-commanded ordinance to
which it is but a shadow and empty shell. Without faith
in God's truth, there is no Christian baptism, no creation of
this "big tent church" that includes within its boundaries the
kind of Christ-dishonoring, soul-destroying teaching as that
cited above from the new Vatican document. Paul no more
made room for the false brethren who, likewise, sought to
bring believers into bondage in his day than we should in
ours. The irony is, the very ones who refuse to follow
the Apostolic example provided by Paul are the very ones who
speak of "apostolic succession" and begin playing around with
buzz-words like "tradition" and "the development of doctrine."
If you start feeling the pressure to compromise, to douse the
flames of your passion for the truth of the gospel in exchange
for the empty husks of a Christ-denying ecumenism or a
deformed catholicity, remember what is most important, and ask
yourself a simple question: do I fear the face of men, or of
Armstrong Installs Keyboard #3
DA continues producing record volumes of verbiage, but,
thankfully, did learn that stealing Angel's images is, well,
illegal. So, he pulled the new ones someone had produced
for him. I guess he'll have to find a real artist now.
Reading the comments section on his blog is simply
entertaining, though somewhat frightening. Thankfully,
after the necessary response to my comments from the
DL, Dave says he is going to avoid me like the plague.
Of course, I've seen that promise before. :-)
Pat Tillman (1976-2004): A Class Act
I've known about Pat Tillman for a
decade. I began hearing
about him when he was a walk-on at ASU here locally. The
reason I remember him was the consistency of the comments
about him: "He's too small for his position, but he makes up
for it with a big heart, a huge amount of discipline, and a
lot of thinking." When the Cardinals drafted him,
everyone said, "He's too small. He won't make it."
He did. And when he turned the sports world upside down
by turning down millions to become an Army Ranger for a
whopping $18,000 a year, you had to give the guy credit.
So today the media here in Phoenix has been almost
wall-to-wall covering his death in action in Afghanistan.
Why all the attention? Well, here in Phoenix, we
all knew the name. So, someone we felt we knew has been
killed in action. A guy who had "made it" financially
and professionally gave it all up to serve his country.
That's the story.
But I really wonder. I have not heard a word
about Tillman's spirituality. I don't think he would
really like all the accolades: he seems to have been a humble
man. But I have often thought that our high-speed,
high-tech culture is exposing, so very quickly, the one thing
that really, really concerns me: war is a horrible thing.
It is supposed to take place in service of justice and right,
in opposition to tyranny and injustice. War tests the
moral fabric of a nation. Dedication to what is right,
what is just...to freedom...these are the things that make a
nation willing to pay the steep price seen in Tillman's death.
But when we no longer believe men are created in the image of
God---when we don't believe God is King and that He demands
justice from His creatures---when we betray our own alleged
love of human life by the constant denigration of that life
through our immorality---how long can this nation stand firm?
Yes, I really wonder.
Thanks to Major Storms
I truly enjoyed having Major Storms,
USMC, drop by and visit with
us on the DL yesterday (here's the picture I had on my
refrigerator during combat operations of he and Major Rich
Leino (Major Storms is on the right). He still has the
cool sunglasses (no, they are not Oakleys, but I did not point
that out, since that would not be nice of me). It was
very enjoyable to get to meet a fellow brother in Christ that
I've prayed for, and who has served the US with distinction.
Now I hope to get to meet Major
in the not too distant future, too! Here's another
picture of Major Storms outside his HQ tent in Iraq. And
for those of you who listened to the program, the Major
mentioned the Camel Spider. I knew I had a shot of one
around (Major Leino was quite the digital photographer over
there, and I have a number of interesting pictures). As
I said on the program, this is NOT something I would want to
see anywhere near me unless I was armed with a can of RAID,
or, better, had permission to unleash a few rounds at the
thing! Man, that is definite proof of the curse, isn't
Anyway, since the Lord was gracious to Jay and Rich, please
remember "my" current military friend in Iraq, Steve Decker.
I haven't heard from him yet, but I hope to soon. Pray
the Lord will protect him, strengthen his faith, and give him
a steady hand.
James White: Bad, Bad Man
Dave Armstrong wrote a nearly 4200 word "response" to
Angel's cartoon, and, of course, it is all my fault.
See, Wilson was right: it doesn't matter what you say.
then ignored copyright laws, demonstrated he has no one around
him who can do original work, took the caricature below, and
proved he is beyond all rational discourse yet once again by
attaching various altered forms to his fantasy "debates"
(remember, DA has never debated me, and will not do so in
person). As I said a few weeks ago, since there is no
substance to the man's methodology or study, but no end to his
time to tap away at a keyboard, what do you do when he starts
in with his irrational diatribes? Hopefully the clear
demonstration of his incapacity to
engage in meaningful exegesis (indeed, even to know what the
term means) will help some who have been impacted by his sheer
volume of verbosity.
4/22/04: Why I am Not a Calvinist
Heh, woke you up, didn't I?
That's the title of the new book by Asbury Seminary professors
Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell (IVP). I will be briefly
reviewing the book today on the DL. And for the
legions of time-challenged folks out there, 4PM MST has an "S"
in it. That means "Standard." Unless you live in
some of the few places that honor the passage of time by not
messing with their clocks, you are now on "Daylight" time.
Hence, 4PM MST is 4PM PDT, 7PM EDT.
4/22/04: Don't Mess With a Man With a Pencil
Ah, see? This is called a professional caricature.
See how it is accurate to life? How it has a context?
A message? Helps you to remember something, makes a
point, etc.? So, Dave, in the future: please note that
these are copyrighted by Angel (don't steal them). Find
someone on your end of things who actually has the ability to
put out this kind of effort. And...try to track down a
point worth presenting in visual form. It really helps.
4/21/04: A Very Wise Thought
I was listening to Doug Wilson's
sermon on Galatians 1:6-9 this morning while working out
(listening to such material allows me to do research for
upcoming events, such as the debate in November, while
"redeeming the time" and keeping this old body functioning
semi-properly). Anyway, one thing he presented really
hit me in a very positive way (see, you can learn from those
with whom you disagree!): he quoted Thomas Watson (nope,
haven't had time to dig it up yet) who said, in essence, that
when we go through trials, we often wrongly focus upon the one
through whom the trial comes (enemies, heretics) rather than
the One who sent the trial. That was a great
insight. He was saying that we should rejoice when folks
lie about us and attack us. In fact, he used the
language of rejoicing that we have "arrived" at a position
where we have done enough in the kingdom for anyone to notice
us enough to bother lying about us. I really appreciated
the presentation, since I confess I have often of late found
it easier to focus upon the attacks than rejoice in the
victories. It was a good reminder that I need to avoid
the sin of worry and, in fact, the sin of discontent, and
should truly treasure the encouragements of family, friends,
and those who have been touched by this ministry.
A second thought that I also appreciated was this:
Wilson said that so often when dealing with one's enemies
it simply does not matter what you say. There is no
reason to go back over what you have taught or preached and
ask yourself, "What could I have said differently?" since it
doesn't matter how clearly you express yourself: heretics
will always twist what you say. That is so
self-evident from my own experience that you'd think I would
not be surprised to hear it expressed. But I was.
What should shock us at any time is when false teachers
actually represent us accurately and show some desire to
not twist our words! Over the course of the past
decades of ministry I have seen this so often you would think
it axiomatic by now!
Now, was there anything I took issue with? Yes,
there was. But I reserve the right to talk about it in
4/19/04: Wow, I Feel Sooooo Much Better
Proving that reasoning and refutation
are but minor irritations, Dave Armstrong has reposted his
mauled graphic of me. However, his rather less than
talented artist removed the blood from my face this time (as I
said, I'm so thankful and feel so much better now). And
he has chosen, in his own inimitable style to post it on one
of his fantasy "debates," where he takes something I've
written, works his wonderful Socratic magic (i.e. writes ten
times the amount of material and hopes the verbiage will
dazzle his audience), and puts "Dave Armstrong vs. James
White" at the top. You know, it never crossed my mind,
back in 1988/89 when I first started listening to tapes from
Catholic Answers and started replying to their claims
that someday I'd have folks like DA shooting blanks at me from
long range. That's OK. Anyone who took the time to
read the exegesis comparison and follow up knows the score.
And proving that all things work together for the good, Angel
has indicated I should be keeping my eyes on my e-mail in-box.
Never know when he might provide us with one of his artistic
commentaries on Mr. Armstrong's apologetic endeavors.
Upcoming New York Trip
I should be posting a more detailed listing of my
speaking engagements in New York beginning May 15th in a few
days. I look forward to the opportunity of once again
meeting with the saints in the New York/New Jersey area.
Truly Hilarious: A Blast from the Past
Richard Abanes posted this from
almost ten years ago now, and since I am trying to get ready
to teach two classes tonight and don't have time to blog
anything overly meaningful today (at least until tonight), I
thought this would do:
NEWS FLASH - May
"In Colorado, Betty Parker spied on her neighbor, Gary Clowes,
for weeks [six, to be precise], convinced he was conducting
rituals. She saw people dressed in 'robes of the devil'
sacrifice animals and heard them utter unintelligible chants.
Betty then persuaded members of her church to break into the
Clowes home with crosses, stakes and prayer books only to find
a dramatic group rehearsing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
Unfazed, Betty still insists they were 'the children of
4/16/04: Kudos to the African Anglicans
The Gobbler (don't ask) sent me
link. Kudos to the African Anglicans for standing up
and being counted. God bless them for it.
Armstrong Tries to Defend His Actions
Amazingly, after posting his horrific image, Armstrong
has tried to turn the tables by accusing me of posting
something even worse than his blood-stained Charlie-Mansonesque
picture. Remember, Armstrong just posted the picture: no
context, no words, no application to any particular issue.
Just Rome's arrow (replete with Papal flag) sticking out of my
forehead with blood flowing from the wound. And how does
Armstrong defend this? By saying we did something much
worse by posting the cartoon Angel drew of Patrick Madrid (see
the blog archive). And what makes that picture as
bad as his bloody one? Well, obviously, poor Patrick is
going to get stoned, literally. Of course, as anyone
knows who has listened to the debate to which Angel is
referring (oh, what, look at context?), this very issue
came up in the discussion, and to my amazement (and most
everyone else's), when I asked whether the latria/dulia
distinction would have held up when a person was found
worshipping an idol (hence the idol in the background), his
response was that the Israelites had a particular penchant for
idolatry, one that we no longer struggle with! And it is
this amazing response that prompted Angel's cartoon. I
truly wonder if Armstrong has even listened to or
watched the debate, so as to have a context? Probably
not. He surely gives no evidence of knowing anything
I do not need to waste much more blog space on this
one: the truth is clear for anyone who wishes to see it.
Just three notes:
1) Armstrong is either feigning some kind of mock
amazement and hurt, or, is simply completely clueless as to
what I believe and teach. In either case, he writes:
By implication, not
only Pat Madrid, but all Catholics who hold to the Church's
teaching, are the equivalents of worshipers of the Golden
Calf: the rankest, most primitive, despicable form of
idolatry. I need not establish that this is not in the
slightest degree related to Catholic veneration of images or
the Mass. That is too silly to waste time on. I just wanted to
establish exactly the point that James' caricaturist (with his
permission) was trying to make, in this "accurate" and
"perfectly on-target" caricature. I'd like to hear from
Protestants: do you think this is a fair portrayal of
Yes, Mr. Armstrong,
that is exactly what I have been saying, and said,
clearly and without apology, in the debate with Patrick
Madrid. The latria/dulia distinction does not
hold and cannot survive examination and hence yes, your
prayers to Mary and your bowing to statues is idolatrous,
hence the need to warn you to flee from that which offends
God. Now, you can seek to throw post-modern dust in the
air if you wish, and appeal to the "crowd" by asking
Protestants for their "feelings," just as Madrid asked the
Catholics in the audience if they "felt" like they were
committing idolatry. None of this deals with the simple
fact that it is not up to you to define idolatry: God did that
2) The impossibility of the task of trying to
deal with Dave Armstrong's rhetoric is illustrated by the fact
that at one point he actually argues that I misrepresented his
drawing because I said the arrow was between my eyes.
Armstrong points out it is in the middle of my forehead!
Oh goodie! A distinction without a difference!
Perhaps Mr. Armstrong would like to illustrate for us the
functional difference between taking an arrow between the
eyeballs and one in the middle of one's forehead?
3) Finally, Armstrong complained again that I
have "ignored" his rebuttals of my position. Yes, in
general, I find them to fall so far short of meaningful and
relevant that I do not believe them worth the investment of
time. Want proof? OK.
Here's a response to his most recent attempt to "respond"
to the exegetical comparison I posted a while back.
4/15/04: Dave Armstrong's Sense of Humor
I've taken a great deal of heat for
having *any* humor on this blog, and especially for the
cartoons Angel was so kind to provide. No matter
how accurate his commentary, or how perfectly on-target the
satire, there are some who just don't believe there is any
room at all for the use of sarcasm, satire, or humor in
Each of the cartoons we have presented have not only
been accurate in how they look, but they have had a clear
application to a particular situation, as anyone knew who
listened to the debates or programs to which the cartoon
referred can attest. And in no case was anything even remotely like
violence suggested. Angel is a professional.
Well, as Rush Limbaugh always says, you really need to
leave such things to the professionals. Today Dave
Armstrong, Roman Catholic apologist extraordinaire, posted an
altered version on his blog. <see below>
Yes, Rush is right. Leave such things to the
professionals. So, the next time you think about
complaining about Angel's professional cartoons and the points
they make, remember what the "other side" thinks is funny.
Update About Three Hours After Posting the Above:
Evidently some of Armstrong's supporters pointed out that his
posting a grotesque redrawing of me with a Roman Catholic
arrow stuck between my eyes, blood all over my face, and in
Charles Manson-style red, "Veni Vidi Vici" written across
the picture, was not only tasteless and simply disgusting, but
it was anything but funny. Then, without apology,
Armstrong put a self-serving list of his own writings he says
I have ignored on the web page that, only a little before, had
hosted the bloody picture of me. So I pulled the link.
They Knew Me Too Well!
Well, it shouldn't shock anyone that
the folks in #prosapologian correctly guessed my
eschatological viewpoint! And before you hit the "send"
button, please realize I have informed our volunteers to
delete, trash, and otherwise ignore any e-mails wanting to
debate eschatology. That I still do not do. There
are plenty of places on the web where you can find any number
of folks who will invest the rest of their natural days in
arguments about the subject. Just not here. :-)
Today is the BIG DAY!
And the current #prosapologian poll
Historic Pre-Millennial 31%
Post-Millennial Non-Reconstructionist 3%
Post-Millennial Reconstructionist: 3%
Pre-Trib, Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist: 3%
Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!
Yes, after many, many years of avoiding the "eschatology"
question, I will finally "take a stand" tomorrow on the DL and
"make it official." In fact, we have been taking a poll
in #prosapologian all day long, and as of this evening, the
folks who know me best have placed their "bets" and have
Historic Pre-Millennial 33%
Post-Millennial Reconstructionist: 3%
Pre-Trib, Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist: 3%
Who is right?
Tune in tomorrow at 4pm MST (which, for those of you who are
temporally challenged, is the same as PDT at the moment) to
More from the Mailbox
Another brother wrote and began his letter, "You have done all
former students of Dr. Norman Geisler a great service in your
very helpful book The Potter's Freedom. I am one
of those former students and I don't know how many of us you
have heard from, but I just had to write to say, "Thank you."
I am grateful to Dr. Geisler for his clear and insightful
teachings in other areas, i.e., bibliology, apologetics,
theology proper, etc. But I found his teaching on the
doctrines of sovereign grace in soteriology to be confusing
and misleading. The problem is that his explanations
sound scholarly and reasonable, but, as you have shown, he
really is masquerading as an Arminian."
The rest of the letter went into detail on the issue,
and I truly appreciated it. I can't say how many former
students I've heard from (almost all written correspondence,
i.e., non-electronic, is handled by Rich Pierce), but I do
know I have heard from some, and this brother's experience is
not uncommon at all. I'm thankful The Potter's
Freedom has been a blessing to him and so many others.
From the Mailbox
I rarely talk much about the correspondence we get (partly
because, obviously, I only see a small portion of it).
But I thought today I'd share some of what Rich Pierce plopped
on my desk this morning. MR from Lexington, KY wrote, in
I languished in the
[seeker sensitive/warm fuzzy preaching] church for a few
years....Well I left about a year ago and have since wandered
into all kinds of churches. All the while I've had a
sense of not knowing exactly what I should be primarily
looking for. But because of your ministry, and others
like John Piper, I've discovered one of the main things I need
to be seeking in a local church - sound, reformed, biblical
teaching, or in Spurgeon's words, "the religion of God's own
church"....I'm now speaking more confidently and, yes, more
compassionately with others about Jesus Christ.
I'll add a second
after prayer meeting tonight. :-)
4/11/04: God's Promises Are Firm
This evening I preached at
Acts 2. When I finished, I then had a privilege that
only a few fathers have in this life: I baptized my daughter
upon her profession of faith. I baptized my son last
summer. Both of my children have now professed faith in
our Lord and Savior, and I have had the inestimable honor,
privilege, and joy of administering the Christian ordinance of
baptism before the
congregation of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. It
was wonderful to look out upon the congregation and see so
many who were important in the lives of my children, who
taught them and encouraged them and modeled the Christian life
for them. I started to list names and realized I was
running the danger of skipping someone, so I will just mention
those godly men who have taught them, such as Don Fry, Simon
Escobedo, Mike Porter, Warren Smith, Jim Broyles (who, along
with Rich Pierce and Warren Smith, is to be thanked for making
the sermons at PRBC available on the web), Eddie McKee, Jim
Callahan, and Ed Ricketts, along with the godly women like
"teacher Dianna" and Mary Ricketts and Gail Flock who
ministered to them when they were so very young. Tonight
was truly a "family celebration," and a wonderful reminder
that God is faithfully building His church.
4/8/04: Quick Pageant Update
As many of you who listen to the Dividing Line know, we
were very concerned that our outreach at the Mesa Easter
Pageant would be ended by the arrival of KJV Only street
preachers, some of whom have become regulars in Salt Lake City
at the General Conference. Well, it has been a pleasant
surprise. We still firmly believe signs are not
effective for Mormons; of that there is really no question
from our perspective. But since they are there, we have
to adjust. The folks who have come with Jim Webber have
good signs: Scriptural, and not designed simply to offend.
The KJV Only guys have less useful signs, and are still
antagonizing folks, but again, what can we do about it?
So we have started trying to use their presence to get our own
conversations going, and who knows, maybe by trying to help
them "tune" their message, might influence them in the "right"
direction, even if not all the way to our viewpoint? In
any case, I was talking to an LDS woman this evening who was
just absolutely certain that we shouldn't be there because we
had not studied Mormonism enough to say it was wrong. As
we tried to reason with her, we eventually came to the issue
of the nature of God, and I mentioned the LDS distinction
between Elohim as the Father and Jesus as Jehovah, the Son.
"We don't believe that!" she insisted, and even though I
pointed her to "The Father and The Son: A Doctrinal Exposition
by The First Presidency and The Twelve" found in Talmage's
Articles of Faith (p. 466) she refused to believe me.
Well, we tried. Keep us in prayer as we have two more
nights of work in Mesa.
DL Half an Hour Early Today
The DL will be live today at 3:30PM MST, half an hour early
due to the need to drive across the Valley (and this is a big
valley!) to minister at the LDS Easter Pageant in Mesa.
Sorry I did not post this earlier, but I have not had access
to the computer until now. We will report on the
situation at the Pageant on the program, and take your phone
4/7/04: Daniel Peterson: Lion Behind the Keyboard
He claimed, with much bravado, that he would debate me
"anytime, anyplace" on a radio program in California. He
has yet to back up his words, of course, though he has often
been given the opportunity. Today Dr. Peterson, in his
customary fashion, is alleging dishonesty in how we have
attempted, vainly, to get Dr. Hamblin to engage the issues of
the LDS temples in a meaningful fashion. Since Peterson
and others have been willing to falsely make accusations
publicly, we here provide the
entirety of the correspondence between myself and Hamblin
since March 17, 2004 when he initiated the most recent contact
between us. Further interaction can be
viewed here. Most will not
find anything of benefit in watching Dr. Hamblin dodge every
rational attempt to establish grounds for debate, but for
those who care, here is yet another example of how LDS
scholars behave when invited to engage the issues outside of a
post-modern "lets all just get along" context. Remember,
this is not some inter-varsity dispute: these men use all of
their abilities to foster, defend, and promote a system of
teaching that enslaves millions and keeps them from a
knowledge of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Those who have sought to transfer this battle from that of
truth vs. error to the "academy's" post-modern ground of
"dialogue" would, it would seem, if they are consistent, have
to fault the Apostles for their response to false teaching in
the early church.
Hamblin's "final word" and a note from
Daniel Peterson added
to the above linked correspondence file.
4/6/04: Dr. Hamblin Declines Internet Debate
Despite Dr. Hamblin's constant reiteration of his desire to
debate the topic of temples on the Internet, when I responded
to his very first counter-proposal, accepting all his
conditions, but not yet arriving at an acceptable thesis
statement, he ended the negotiations and said he was not
interested. Hence, our challenge to debate publicly
before cameras, in written form in published venues, and even
in the form he himself promoted, on the Internet--all have
been declined by Dr. Hamblin. Be watching for the DVD's
and CD's of the debate with Richard Hopkins.
4/5/04: Center for the Study of New Testament
Manuscripts Needs Your Assistance
Just got a letter about an incredible
opportunity the CSNTM has to greatly advance our knowledge of
ancient Greek manuscripts relating to the Old and New
Testaments. They need
another $6k to make their goal. This work is vital, so
consider helping them.
Visit their site and see the
interaction with TGE.
I would direct you
to the current blog by TGE, but it is so completely beyond the
bounds of decorum that it makes any further discussion of that
particular illustration of FVism/NPism/Medievalism-Gone-Awry
And I Thought Utah Would Be A Rest…
Just back from Utah! I’ll be reporting on our two debates on
The Dividing Line Tuesday, so make sure to listen in.
Briefly, both debates went very well. We did not get much
cooperation from the UofU as far as the venue was concerned,
but we persevered and made it work anyway. The video taping
went very well, so keep an eye on the ad column to the right
for announcement of the availability of the debates in mp3,
CD, and DVD formats. As normal, the debates were handled in a
respectful fashion, and the issues were very clearly presented
for those who were in attendance. Many thanks especially to
Jason Wallace, Mike Kwiatkowski, and Brandon Anderson for
their help in setting up, etc.
Kwiatkowski, Jason Wallace, James White, Rich Pierce, Brandon
Of course, while I was in Utah I was forwarded more of
the amazing saga of Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications, a man I
thought was an “ally” up until just a few days ago. I
knew he had made some comments about my previous work, The
Potter’s Freedom, regarding the issue of regeneration. I
did not pay much attention to his comments at the time, since
it was obvious to me he did not understand what I was saying,
and I simply did not consider it an important issue. Well, as
you will see if you read down this blog, Mr. Ross has decided
to not only comment, but seemingly engage in an extended
tirade/crusade on the issue now that my debate with Dave Hunt,
Debating Calvinism, is in print. Despite my attempt to
clarify Mr. Ross’ confusion in the blog entries below, he
seems to be beyond rational correction (or dialogue). While
in Utah I received an e-mail containing these comments:
(2) JAMES is
refuted by the fact that this verse eliminates the idea that
one can be regenerated and still not yet be a believer in
Christ. It plainly says that the one who believes in Christ IS
born of God. Unless James could show elsewhere in Scripture
that one who is regenerated IS NOT a believer, this verse
crushes James' view to powder.
entire “issue” is the assertion that in the ordo salutis
the exercise of saving faith is absolutely coterminous with
regeneration: i.e., that there cannot be any period of time,
seemingly, even a moment, between regeneration and the
exercise of saving faith. Even if a person says that 1) God
uses means to draw His people unto Himself (i.e., the
proclamation of the gospel) and 2) that the exercise of saving
faith is utterly inevitable and certain as the result of
regeneration (both truths I would affirm), evidently one is
still unorthodox in one’s view. 1 John 5:1 says that anyone
who is currently believing has been born of God (i.e., the
rebirth is that which gives rise to and results in saving
faith), but evidently, to be truly orthodox and worthwhile,
you must believe that though there is a logical order in the
ordo salutis, that there is not the slightest temporal
“gap” between the experience of the elect in regeneration and
the resultant act of the new nature in believing in Christ.
I have outlined the issue simply because most folks
have no idea what on earth Ross is seeking to argue about.
Personally, given the battles we face today on all fronts,
arguing with Mr. Ross regarding minute temporal points of the
ordo salutis is of no importance to me. I thank those
who have forwarded Mr. Ross’ complaints, but I would like to
note I do not need anyone to invest their time in forwarding
any more of his materials. I have confirmed my belief in the
relevant portions of the London Baptist Confession of 1689,
and if Mr. Ross disagrees, he is free to do so. I will allow
the fair-minded person to consider my work and judge it on its
This situation does, however, raise the opportunity of once
again addressing, briefly, the issue of debates. Given the
number of debates I have done over the years (fifty two such
moderated, public debates since 1990) many people assume that
I simply live to argue. Such is not the case. I truly seek
to choose debates that address issues that will help the body
of Christ to “give an answer” and speak the truth. I do not
feel the slightest necessity to engage in needless arguments
(such as the one with Mr. Ross) as if I am the “big gun” in a
small Western town. For example, many have wondered about the
scheduled debate with Douglas Wilson on the nature of the
covenant and the concept of Roman Catholics being properly
referred to as Christians, as brothers, due to the experience
of Trinitarian baptism. Well, I believe the topic is
important: it is causing great confusion amongst those who
seek to proclaim the life-giving gospel to Roman Catholics.
Hence, it is a topic that is important and, it seems to be a
topic that I can address from a position of strength and
knowledge. There are many topics I simply will not address
because unlike many, I do not claim to be an expert on
everything there is out there. I have areas of strength, but
I likewise have areas of weakness. There are many, many who
are far more capable than I am in their study of particular
issues, but, they lack the ability to speak publicly or to
present their great knowledge in an understandable, clear
fashion. Debating requires a group of skills that not
everyone possesses: you need to be able to speak with
clarity, think on your feet, respond to questions quickly and
recall facts and scriptural passages on the fly, identify
logical errors in your opponents’ argumentation almost
instantly, and communicate your position with conviction and
passion while remaining respectful and controlled. As a
Calvinist I believe any gifts I have were given to me by my
Lord to use in His service and to His glory. Just because
someone else does not have the same gifts does not make me
better, or worse; I am just different, and must use my gifts
under the direction of the Holy Spirit in the service of His
Church. I foresee a time in the not too distant future when I
will be limiting not only my traveling, but the number of
debates I do in the course of a year. I have been averaging
one debate every ten to twelve weeks for four years now, and
that pace is difficult to maintain.
Regarding an Internet Debate on Temples
with Dr. Hamblin
A few weeks ago Dr. William Hamblin, associate professor of
history at Brigham Young University, declined the invitation
offered to him to debate the thesis, “The Building of Temples
is Consistent with New Testament Christianity” in a public
setting before video cameras. Shortly thereafter a discussion
occurred, referenced on this blog, regarding debates, etc. On
April 2, 2004, I debated Richard Hopkins on the same subject
on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City
(audio and video recordings will be available soon). During
the conversation with Dr. Hamblin prior to the Salt Lake
debate, I indicated that, after the weekend of debates in Utah
(I also debated the issue of homosexual marriage the next
evening, also at the University of Utah), I would consider his
challenge to “debate” the issue in written form on the
Internet. I remind the reader that we have a standing
challenge to Dr. Hamblin and to others who have been, or
currently are, associated with F.A.R.M.S., to join in the
dialogue that has been taking place now for a number of years
in Utah. In cooperation with Jason Wallace and Christ
Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, we have now done ten
moderated, public debates in the Salt Lake area. Those who
have taken the time to either attend (we had one couple drive
from Texas for the two debates April 2-3) or to view the
debates on video know well that the debates are handled
respectfully and properly. All accusations made against the
debates that we have heard have come only from those who did
not attend or have not actually viewed the debates. Also,
please note that I also suggested to Dr. Hamblin that if we
are going to invest the time to write our positions in a
debate format, we should consider pursuing a publication
project with a major publisher. Dr. Hamblin has not shown any
interest in following that route, either. Hence, I respond
now to the challenge to debate the topic of temples in written
form to be posted on the Internet.
Both Dr. Hamblin and I teach in undergraduate
and graduate contexts, he for Brigham Young University, I for
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and Columbia
Evangelical Seminary. I am currently teaching Systematic
Theology II and Development of Patristic Theology, and I’m
sure Dr. Hamblin has a busy teaching schedule as well. I do
not know of his current publishing schedule, but I know that I
have hundreds of pages of publishable material to produce this
year, along with at least four more debates, along with
teaching during the summer session at the main campus of GGBTS
in Mill Valley, CA, and teaching an apologetics class in the
Fall as well. Hence, simply due to time constraints, I
propose a very controlled, concise exchange on the topic that
allows for sufficient time to write our responses without
cutting too deeply into class preparation time, etc. Hence, I
am proposing the following format and thesis. I am doing so
in public, and propose that the debate be posted “in process,”
i.e., as it takes place, so that our readers can follow
along. We invite Dr. Hamblin to provide a counter-proposal.
Once an acceptable format for both sides has been agreed upon,
we can proceed with the exchange.
Proposed Thesis: The Building of Temples for Worship
and Priesthood Activities is an Essential Element of New
Opening Statements: Hamblin: 3000 words White: 3000 words
First Cross Examination: Each participant will provide three
questions of less than 250 words, to which the respondent will
answer in less than 750 words.
First Rebuttal: Hamblin: 1000 words White: 1000 words
Second Cross Examination: Same format as first.
Second Rebuttal: Hamblin: 500 words White: 500 words
Closing Statements: Hamblin: 1500 words White: 1500 words
I propose doing the debate in two-week segments; that is, the
opening statements would be posted two weeks from the agreed
upon initiation of the debate; cross-examination questions due
four days later, with responses due ten days later; first
rebuttals due two weeks later; etc.
The debate would be posted at
www.aomin.org and a website of Dr. Hamblin’s choice,
concurrently. We hope to hear from Dr. Hamblin regarding his
counter-proposal by April 9th, 2004.
One Quick Note About "Blog Wars"
There can't be a war without two sides. You will
note I have refrained from posting anything in a number of
days. Has this slowed down the vituperative rhetoric
from certain quarters? Not in the slightest. Even
when I returned to my hotel after defending the institution of
marriage in debate (remember, I just want to live in my little
enclave and let the culture self-destruct) I found more
rhetoric flying about without the slightest bit of provocation
on my part. You know, someone who can keep arguing
(and in fact become more and more
the other side has left the room probably wasn't listening in
the first place. J
4/1/04: Heading to Salt Lake
That normally means I'm headed into unfriendly territory, but
given the current bombardment at home, I think I will enjoy
the time away....
Friday night the debate on the issue of temples with a
Mormon representative at the University of Utah, Saturday
night a debate on homosexual marriage, same venue.
DL this afternoon/evening: your calls, some comments on
TGE, Dave Armstrong, Bob Ross, and the Open Theists amongst
Random thought: the
Yamaha Road Star Warrior
is the prettiest piece of
machinery I've ever seen.
Bob Ross on the Warpath
not recall ever having mentioned Bob Ross in anything I have
ever written, nor in any of my public talks or sermons.
Despite this, for some reason, Mr. Ross has decided to engage
in a crusade to warn "true Calvinists" that I am not really a
Calvinist. I assume this is because of my recent book
with Dave Hunt, I don't know. In any case, I am having a
number of things forwarded to me, and truly, the last thing on
earth I want to do is respond to someone who calls me a
Pelagian. I mean, what could be more absurd anyway?
Today I received a number of quotes, produced by Ross, from
Spurgeon, Gill, and Pink, which concluded with this:
It is obvious from
these brief quotes from Spurgeon, Gill, and Pink that James
White holds a view on Lazarus which is in direct contrast to
that of these Calvinists. It seems that James' sole purpose in
referring to Lazarus is an effort to support his "logical"
apparatus to sustain his Pelagian-like view that "command
implies ability," and that this necessitates his theory on the
new birth that "life precedes faith." He must have Lazarus
alive before he hears the Word of Christ, for this is the "ordo
salutis" view of the new birth which James is determined to
prove. -- Bob L. Ross
Mr. Ross, there
wasn't a word those men said that I did not completely agree
with. You do not understand me and are misrepresenting
me. Christ's Word brought life to Lazarus, as Spurgeon
said. Ross writes:
No one was ever a
more staunch Calvinist than Dr. Gill, and he always associated
the use of means with the power of the Spirit in calling men
wholeheartedly. Never said anything other. I agree
fully with the 1689 London Confession:
When God converts a
sinner, and brings him out of sin into the state of grace, He
frees him from his natural bondage to sin and, by His grace
alone, He enables him freely to will and to do that which is
spiritually good. (9:4)
At a time appointed
by and acceptable to God, those whom God has predestined to
life are effectually called by His Word and Spirit out of the
state of death in which they are by nature, to grace and
salvation by Jesus Christ. Their minds are given
spiritual enlightenment and, as those who are being saved,
they begin to understand the things of God. God takes
away their heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh.
He renews their will, and by His almighty power He sets them
to seek and follow that which is good, at the same time
effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ. And to all
these changes they come most freely, for they are made willing
by divine grace. (10:1)
I would appreciate
it if Mr. Ross would go back to doing what he does so well:
publishing Spurgeon's works. I publicly reject his
misrepresentation of my writings, and exhort him to aim his
literary cannons where they might do some good. As for
me, this is the last I will have to say about it. There
are more important issues to address.
Update: I do
sometimes feel like I have fallen down the rabbit hole and
things have become very, very strange indeed. Now I read
that Bob Ross wants to debate me! On what? I have
no idea, since I have agreed with every quote he's produced.
So I guess we are supposed to debate his misunderstanding of
my position. Yeah, right. Is it a full moon or