Thursday, January 31, 2008
Those in Glass Ivory Towers Shouldn't Throw Stones
I would like to get some opinions on the following two quotes by James White. The first comes from his debate with Dave Hunt and the second comes from his website. Maybe I am wrong, but I detect a bit of inconsistency here. It seems to me that he is quite comfortable using virtually the same tactics he rebukes Dave Hunt for in Debating Calvinism.
Am I reading this wrong? I know that Mr. White often plays the misrepresentation card so I want to be cautious here. That is why I am asking what you think.
Here is Mr. White on Dave Hunt comparing Calvinism to Roman Catholicism via Augustine:
"Hunt’s entire presentation is an attempt to poison the well through poor argumentation. He is saying:
1. Augustine was Roman Catholic.
2. Calvin cited heavily from Augustine and respected him.
3. Therefore, Calvinism is suspect by association with Catholicism through Augustine."
[Debating Calvinism, pg. 244]
Below is a post from Alpha and Omega with a few observations of mine concerning White's comments:
The Arminian01/05/2004 - James White
"A fine young fellow that I've been seeing a lot of lately (has something to do with my lovely daughter, I do believe) showed me a periodical titled "The Arminian." I was first amazed that there are still folks left on planet earth that willingly, gladly, without a word of remonstrance, accept the name of themselves. "
Does Mr. White really feel this way? Does he think it incredible that there are people who would still call themselves Arminians today?
"But what was far more interesting was the fact that there was an article in it by Steve Witzki written against "eternal security." You can see the article Here. Right at the beginning you will find the author quoting James Akin, staff apologist for Catholic Answers, from the debate notes he posted on his website from our radio debate from many years ago. This is the same debate where Akin misidentified various elements of the Greek language, as we documented in a previous Dividing Line broadcast."
Notice how James White doesn’t say anything about the argument Steve Witzki was making regarding the total lack of historical precedence for the Calvinistic understanding of perseverance. He doesn’t deny that Calvin invented a doctrine that was unheard of prior to Calvin himself. Instead, he tries to undermine Akin’s credibility by pointing out that he made some mistakes with Greek grammar.
"What was so strange is that this Arminian writer seemingly has no problem borrowing from a Roman Catholic when he is arguing that church history stands opposed to a belief in the perfection of the work of Christ."
The reason Steve Witzki references James Akin is because Akin did considerable research looking into the origin of the doctrine. This research included calling numerous Calvinist Seminaries and speaking with Calvinist professors asking them if anyone taught this doctrine prior to Calvin. The answer was always “No”. This is the point that Mr. White should have addressed in this article, and not the issue of any blunders on Akin’s part concerning the Greek language. Oh, and BTW, the belief in perseverance from a synergistic perspective is in no way analogous to opposition to "a belief in the perfection of the work of Christ".
"Of course, would the author likewise follow Akin's historical arguments on such topics as the Mass, purgatory, or the Marian dogmas? We think not."
Oh good, so Mr. White gives Mr. Witzki a little credit.
"But for those who get all upset when I point out the confluence of Arminianism and Roman Catholicism (based upon the centrality of synergism to both systems), please take up your complaint with Mr. Witzki."
And what exactly was the point of all this? Wasn’t it to cast doubt on Arminianism by pointing out how it is similar to Catholicism? Does it matter that Arminianism and Catholicism have similar synergistic views of salvation? Does it matter that James White agrees with Roman Catholics on the doctrine of the Trinity? Maybe he will say that the belief in the Trinity predates the RCC, and he would be quite right about that. It is just as true that a belief in synergism predates the RCC as well, which was one of Witzki’s main points. What does not predate the RCC or John Calvin is the Calvinistic understanding of Perseverance, and this was Steve’s and Jimmy Atkin’s main point. So just what have we learned from Mr. White? Could someone please explain?
How about this:
1. James Atkin is a Roman Catholic.
2. Arminian Steve Witzki cited James Atkin.
3. Therefore, Arminianism is suspect by association with Catholicism through James Atkin.