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Letters to an Anti-Theist


by James White

The following letters were written during 1986/87. They comprise the correspondence between Mr. James White, Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, and Mr. Dennis McKinsey, the editor of a periodical entitled “Biblical Errancy.” As Mr. McKinsey feels free to publish letters written to him in his periodical, and as there is no copyright on "Biblical Errancy,” we have felt free to include Mr. McKinsey’s responses. Only that material relevant to the matters addressed in the debate between Mr. White and Mr. McKinsey will be reproduced here.

In the spring of 1986 a copy of the March edition of "Biblical Errancy” was sent to James White. The full title of the paper is: "Biblical Errancy: The only national periodical focusing on Biblical errors, contradictions, and fallacies, while providing a hearing for apologists." The periodical is six pages long. After reviewing some of the supposed "contradictions” found in the May issue of this paper, Mr. White wrote the first letter of three to Mr. McKinsey. This letter was printed in the August, 1986 edition of BE. This precipitated a rather lengthy exchange, both in the size of the letters as well as the number of issues of BE in which the debate appeared. The following gives the letters written by Mr. White, and the replies of Mr. McKinsey, just as they appeared in “Biblical Errancy.” The final section comprises Mr. Whites reply to Mr. McKinsey’s final words.

“Biblical Errancy” is obviously designed to promote the distrust and rejection of the Bible as God’s Word. Anyone who has read the periodical for any time at all is very aware of this. The uniqueness of the work is not what it has to say; indeed, much of this material can he found in Thomas Paine or in the material published by the American Atheists. “Biblical Errancy” comes out on a monthly basis with the same old tired arguments and materials that atheists have been passing around for years. But, Mr. McKinsey allows for some dialogue on the issues he brings up, and this, of course, generates interest and controversy.

Someone might well ask the question, why bother debating this kind of issue? Aside from the fact that I as a Christian believe the Bible when it claims to he the Word of God, I also wished to see for myself what kind of response would he elicited from an anti-theist like Mr. McKinsey when faced with actual facts. I knew that he had made a rather simple error in regards to his claim of a contradiction between Jesus and Paul (see letters below for all the details) - that was clear. I wished to know if his drive to attack the Bible would keep him from admitting a simple mistake. If so, then I could write off ‘Biblical Errancy” and tell anyone else that it was not worth their time to read. However, if Mr. McKinsey would admit such an error and retract the false statement, then I would go on and research more of his material, given the idea that he was indeed honestly intent on the truth as he saw it. Unfortunately, the following debate makes it clear just how that issue ended up being resolved.

Another question might he asked. This debate does not deal with all the great issues of theism versus atheism. It deals with some pretty specific issues. Why not deal with a broader range of topics? First, we have done so in the past and plan on continuing to do so in the future (contact Alpha and Omega for a materials list). But one of the best ways people learn is by example. And this debate provides repetitive examples of logical errors, misinformation, and ad hominem argumentation - all the hallmarks of the anti-theist’s trade By seeing the progress of the debate, and the subtle ways in which points were avoided and other issues brought up in attempts to cloud the issue, the reader will be better prepared to meet similar tactics at work or school.

One final observation concerning the debate. The reader will notice that Mr. McKinsey exercises his position as the editor of BE by writing responses that average at least twice as long as the original letter. Hence, you will read a great deal more by Mr. McKinsey than by I in the first section of the debate. To help “balance things out” a little, I will footnote certain parts of his responses, especially in his near epic-length response to part of my last letter.

One note must be added concerning the format of BE. The letters printed in the newsletter are divided into sections with Mr. McKinsey responding to each section with a section of his own. In this reproduction of the debate, we have indicated the divisions used by Mr. McKinsey while keeping the letters and responses in one section. By cross-referencing the sections of the letters the reader will he able to follow- the argument more closely. With this in mind, here we present “Letters to an Anti-Theist.”

Continue to the first letter

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