Monday, August 03, 2015

More James White on the Version Issue: Either He Doesn't Know What He's Talking About or He's Lying

Is it possible that Christians were wrong on the doctrine of preservation of scripture for hundreds of years?  Were they bibliological apostates?  That's a big, serious charge, but it is the one that James White has been making again and again in recent videos to erase the record of biblical and historical beliefs on the preservation of scripture.

In every century, men will be wrong in doctrine.  It is an entirely other matter to say that the confessions agreed upon by essentially every believer were wrong.  The statements made about the preservation of scripture were repeated again and again, and no one offered an alternative.  It is much more likely you are wrong. To overturn the established doctrine, you better do a great job of exegesis to show that they were not true.  James White does not do that.  Like he deals with most of his contemporary detractors, he calls them names -- "reformed scholastics."

White gets a pass from almost all evangelicals, except for those to the far left of him, because they long ago capitulated on preservation along with a percentage of fundamentalism.  Most evangelicals relegate this issue to a non-essential with the biggest problem the division they say it causes.  White will mention this too on a regular basis.  However, it is a very serious problem because the Bible is a supernatural book.  It's God's Word.  When you subjugate it to the human laboratory for testing and twisting and probing, it takes on a different nature.  If it isn't preserved perfectly, then it lacks in authority, something less than full authority.  These men know this. They know it.  White knows it.

White's position is that a percentage of the words of scripture have been lost and are in need of restoring.  It isn't a settled book to him.  More work needs to be done and post-enlightenment textual criticism, a rationalistic exercise, is the means.  In this new video and others, he implies that Calvin is an example of someone from the applicable era that was doing this.  He's the historical go-to guy to establish that some of those men were doing the same thing.  This is called a spin.  He is spinning Calvin.

Everyone knows that errors were made in hand copies.  That's all Calvin was writing.  The position of the day was that an error made in one was corrected in another.  Yes, they compared manuscripts, but it is a lie to say that's the same as textual criticism and also ignore what they believed and taught.  To equate what they believed with textual criticism is a lie that in published form started with Benjamin Warfield, that we've talked so much about here.  The authors of the confessions did not believe that providential preservation was textual criticism.  They believed they possessed the Words in the apographa (the hand copies) in an identical form as the autographa (the originals). That was their belief, what we might call a presupposition.  That is also their point in the confessions, that the original language text was kept pure in all ages.  White denies all of that.  It was not kept pure in all ages to him.  There hasn't been an age to White that it has been pure since shortly after its inspiration.  That age is off in the future, that is, unless we redefine pure, which is something less than Tide detergent.

What is the presupposition of White?  You don't hear it. He doesn't refer to scripture one time to reveal what believers should expect for preservation.  He doesn't do this.  His kind do not do this. The only one I hear do this is Ehrman and Ehrman reports it, and then says God didn't do it, explaining why he's an apostate.  White just won't say.  It's painful.  Part of it is that he and people like him don't believe their own position and they are fudging or spinning.  White will say he believes in the preservation of God's Word.   It is Clinton-esque, because he means "Word" singular, not plural.  You know this.  He doesn't believe we know what the Words, plural, are.  He doesn't think that anyone can know what those are and the biggest exercise in his quest here is to show that we don't know what they are either.  He uses a lot of ridicule to do this.  The antics don't mean anything, but they work like the scoffers of 2 Peter 3 succeed with people about Christ's second coming.

White's entire manner of operation is to attempt to cause doubt to those who believe in perfect preservation by questioning particular texts of scripture.  He requires them to indicate to him an exact hand copy of the Greek text that has the particular wording of the textus receptus.  If you can't do that up to his standard, then your entire belief must fall.  You must recant.  Recanting is denying the biblical and historical position for the critical text position, the modern version position.  There is no longer a settled text and the words are now in doubt.  He will only stop bothering you if you come to his position or call your position a preference alone.  It can only be a preference.  It cannot be a matter of doctrinal division.  You must be fine with his position or yours, but yours especially cannot be superior.

If White can get you to admit that you are unsure about even one word of scripture, that we don't know what the exact wording is, you are now the same as him.  He will be satisfied with that.  If you say that you do know, then you are vague. Vague means that you cannot produce a hand copy or at least show it in microfilm.  Even if you could, White could argue against it.  None of this is based on scriptural presuppositions, so it is all faithless.  The idea of faithlessness is what grates on White.  He hates that.  I understand it, but it's true.  And that faithlessness is what has produced the new understanding of inerrancy that continues on a sliding scale.

White's modern opponents he smears with the idea that they are cloistered away with reformed theologies, reading one after another, while he's out there fighting the good fight with the only method that will work in the real world.  None of what he says here is true, either because he doesn't know what he's talking about or he's lying.  I'm not saying there aren't a few people who just sit and read books without participation in any spiritual warfare, but you can't broadbrush all the opposition like that.  It's not true.

In the new video by White, he reads Thomas Ross's giving of his credentials in answer to a baseless attack on a Logos forum that said that his kind could "care less what the original Greek and Hebrew said." Thomas does care and he gave a brief synopsis as an answer to the inaccurate charge.  The absurd provocateur could not recognize that none of the books Thomas included were double inspirationists or English preservationists.  All of those books believe that preservation is in the original language.

White excludes the context for Thomas's inclusion of his bonafides and proceeds to mock Thomas for including them.  That's how he starts.  If Thomas was a "backwater" hayseed English-onlyist, White would have mocked that.  You can't really have it either way with him.  This is how he operates though.  Evangelicals love it.  White blatantly lies about Thomas by saying that he started off a response like that.  This was not how Thomas started.  This was how he answered the man who said he didn't care about original languages.  How else do you answer someone who says you don't care about original languages?  Why did White need to mock Thomas for that?

White complains that he is always attacked when he provides a resume.  People don't point out arrogance of White because he touts his credentials, which he does as much as anyone I've ever seen from a human being, but because of how he acts.  This is another example of it.

At 1:06:20, White says that he has "dealt with every strain of King James Onlyism."  He uses "strain" as opposed to "type," even as "strain" makes it sound like a disease he's dealing with.  I would agree that White has dealt with every type of KJVO.  Thomas could have phrased this a little better.

I would say that White has not debated anyone who could debate him.  He might say that he takes them as they come, all of them, and maybe he's right, but there are men that could do a much better job debating him than those he has chosen.  I've never seen him take on one of them.  D.A. Waite and Jack Moorman and Theodore Letis were very bad at debating, actually even at speaking.  Those who want to hear or watch a debate, at least want someone taking their position who can do the job.  I understand that someone like White will debate a Gipp or a Riplinger, because they do represent a sizeable group of revivalist fundamentalists, who take an indefensible and novel position. I can also see how White is bothered by the assertion, because he has debated many, many now.

White is also true when he asserts that the Ruckmanites cause most of the trouble and get the most attention.   I think White is right to say that Ruckmanites have caused many church splits.  I know this to be true, but taking on a different Bible than the King James has caused more church splits than the Ruckman position.  Many men have brought in a new Bible to a church and split it wide open.   Young people stay.  Old people leave.  Does White oppose those splits too?  Thomas wants to see a debate with White that will represent the biblical and historical position and argue it like he would want it to be argued.  I hope it happens sometime.

Just after 1:08, White gets to his main problem with Thomas's comment.  Thomas wrote:
I wish Mr. White would agree with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of faith he subscribes to as an elder at a Reformed Baptist church and recognize that "The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages," and recognize that when his own confession of faith quotes 1 John 5:7, Mark 16, etc. it means the Textus Receptus is the Word of God, not a critical text that did not exist nor was in use by God's people and thus was not kept "pure in all ages."
I think that is a good comment from Thomas. That sets off a very important consideration for White, that I mentioned above.

White asserts after 1:09:20 that Thomas's comment is "vague purposefully."  I laugh.  It's not true. I believe what Thomas is writing, and there isn't an attempt to be vague.  That is a red herring.  White must do a little more exploration before he could make that conclusion.

By being "vague," White means that someone must state his position on what each exact Word of the originals are.  If you just say that you believe in perfect preservation, that is vague.  You can't say that you believe that believers were led by the Spirit to the proper wording, like the Holy Spirit indicated the 66 inspired Books.  No, you've got to tell him what those words are, and then there is haggling over how trustworthy was that particular hand copy and the degree of authenticity of the textual evidence, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Is it sure, likely, probable, possible, or doubtful?  We don't know, so we are to get specific about applying terms like that?  Obviously, the Bible itself becomes vague and unsettled with White's ideas.

White would argue, no, we're more sure because we believe the science.  The science is sound.  We can't say with certainty what the exact words are, but we are left with a high degree of certainty, higher than the writings of Plato -- one handed applause for that.  Roar from believers, happy that Plato loses to the Bible.  This is not the historic or biblical way to deal with the Bible.

How we should deal with the words ironically is how White deals with the canon.  White goes totally presuppositional with the canon.  He rejects the Roman Catholic approach to the canon.  He says the canon is a theological matter.  Why? Why can't the canon be historical and scientific?  The loss of a whole book is too devastating to White, so he chooses to go presuppositional, even though the textual critic world treats these, the canon and the words, the same.  This is what is vague.  Why the different approaches?

White uses a documentary type of method.  This the method of modern science.  If you can't produce the document now, it didn't happen.  You can't say it happened.  Warfield brought this method back from Germany and thought he was saving evangelicalism by implementing it on the text of scripture.

The method of believers has always been to trust God's leading through His Spirit.  That resulted in a settled text and established one from which one could not take away nor could one add.  Only a settled, established text, which is the nature of God's Word, could be added to or taken away.  They assumed that God would do what He said He would do.  They believed that.  It was done.  Then believers just went about living what they trusted was perfect, until the enlightenment and the advent of modern rationalism.

More to Come


Steven Avery said...

"You can't really have it either way with him"

This is what we now call "lose-lose argumentation"

A key part of Critical Text and contra TR-AV posturing. (I picked the term up from James Snapp, who saw it frequently from CT people.) It is interesting because rarely do the people who argue that way have even the remotest sense that they are being fallacious in positioning. (And I think I will go to a fallacy forum and see how they categorize this structure.) Sometimes it is "both ends against the middle".

Steven Avery

KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

Thank you for this post.

I intend to publish a reply also, Lord willing, although I have not gotten around to it yet.

I would like to debate Mr. White on the topic below.

The Scriptural paradigm of preservation fits the King James Version and its underlying Greek text better than the Greek critical text and modern Bible versions translated from it.

Affirm: Thomas Ross

Deny: James White


The Scriptural paradigm of preservation fits the Greek critical text and modern Bible versions translated from it better than the King James Version and its underlying Greek text.

Affirm: James White

Deny: Thomas Ross

Tyler Robbins said...

Bro. Ross,

I hope you contact him via his website, talk to Rich Pierce, and try to get something set up. This is a dialogue that needs to happen, and I'd be very interested to hear it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I would be glad to debate him too.

Steven Avery said...

Be aware than when James White came off very poorly in his youtube back-and-forth with Brandon Staggs on Acts 8:37, both Rich Pierce and James White quickly battened down the hatches to get any difficult questions taken off their comment forums, no matter how cordial. Especially some made by James Snapp (eclectic, not TR or AV) and myself. We have the before pics documented. I would say that parameters of time and publication and follow-up should be carefully decided. Also, keep in mind that "good debaters" often means little more than that they know all the cheap debating tricks. Even if the winner is on your side (e.g. Michael Brown against anti-missionaries) it often is largely do more to attitude and talking skills rather than the facts on the ground.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I've debated some, taught a little in our school. I get what really winning a debate is, and then what really winning it is -- two different types of winning. Ultimately, people have to be persuaded in their will, and the winner in the debate, might not win there, because the other position just resonates. For instance, when White and Ehrman debated, more of the truth was on White's side of course, but I could see how Ehrman would come off better to an unbelieving crowd. They don't get persuaded really by winning a debate. I think a debate is mainly, not solely, for the already persuaded.

People don't think you won a debate unless you win the rhetoric. I saw that with Christopher Hitchens again and again, until he met William Lane Craig. You can know all your material, say what needs to be said when it needs to be said, but how you say it makes a difference, just like these presidential debates. The one with the best zinger is sometimes considered the best winner.

I've called into shows in the SF Bay Area here, and they hold the button. If you don't have preestablished rules, you're getting a worse situation sometime then if you never had the debate in public. That's why I likely wouldn't call into White's show. I would need guarantees for something like that and I don't think you get it in a hostile call-in show with no moderation.

Until there would be a formal debate, I likely would not debate him, but I'd be glad to.

TBush said...

"That's why I likely wouldn't call into White's show. I would need guarantees for something like that and I don't think you get it in a hostile call-in show with no moderation."

You simply aren't aware of how much latitude Dr. White gives to folks who call in. Call in--make it happen--have a bit of dialogue--he'll only cut you off if you can't stop run-on sentences.

bibleprotector said...

"Then believers just went about living what they trusted was perfect, until the enlightenment and the advent of modern rationalism."

Totally agree.

Logan said...

This is right. James is a talented debater, and he has invested deeply into his anti-KJV position (he would deny he is anti-KJV, but the 'proof is in the pudding!') and I think he's simply incapable of retreating. It's called the sunk-cost fallacy. The cost (to HIS EGO/REP) of stepping down from his stance is too much for him to deal with, so he's basically getting by on his talent and credentials. It's hard to watch. I really like White on some issues, but this one is painful to watch.