Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Polygraphing the Words of James White, Pt. 3

On August 7, James White gave a whole show over to one part of the first post I wrote dealing with White's answer to a comment made by Thomas Ross on an internet forum.  I really don't want to spend anymore than one more post.  I ask you to read everything I've written in the last three weeks on this, because it will give enough of an answer to everything White will say.

White begins again pointing out my meaninglessness -- only two mentions on his blog, both by Alan Kurschner, one just linking to someone's else's post about Psalm 12.  White mentions my erroneous position on Psalm 12, and he doesn't know what he's talking about.  I'm very sure White does not know what I've said about Psalm 12, what position I take, or what arguments I've made.  That is sufficient for his audience.  There are two main positions on Psalm 12 -- it relates the preservation of "the poor and needy" or the preservation of God's Words.  Most who argue for the poor and needy do so, like the article to which Kurschner referred, based upon the gender of the antecedent to a pronoun.  It is a faulty argument.  I proved that and I've still never received an answer from that crowd.  They're wrong.  Still.

White hasn't dealt much with me and he does now.  Why do I deal with White?  White is now the most well known evangelical defender of the eclectic text and detractor from the King James Version for the modern versions.  If you are going to deal with the issue, you do deal with White.  I'm not saying that evangelicals should be proud of that.  It's just the truth.  Several books have been written about this now, but White's is probably still the most well known and highest regarded from that crowd. Including White's book, here are other prominent ones, not in order:

James White, The King James Only Controversy
D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate
James Price, King James Onlyism:  A New Sect
Central Seminary Faculty, One Bible Only?
Two Volumes by the Fundamentalist Text and Translation Committee -- From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man, and God's Word in Our Hands

Many articles have been written and a few other books, espousing the same position as the above books, but those are the go-to volumes for an introduction to the new invention of Warfield in the late 19th century.  There are others, but those are enough to get it done for you.  You'll understand their new position by reading those books.  It is a new position in the history of Christianity, just like Ruckmanism or double inspiration is a new position.  Both of those positions originate from unbelief in the preservation of scripture.  I recognize White acts angry and rejects that accusation.  I really am not trying to get under his skin.  Preservation of scripture means something historically and biblically, and it is different than what White believes.  His position is new and changes the meaning.  His belief is actually a denial of biblical and historical preservation, while saying that he believes it.  You could hear that in what he said in all of this recent spate of videos on his website.

White says that he understands the attraction of a settled, traditional text and the association of an eclectic text with a collapsing evangelicalism.  I would wonder how much he really does understand it. The underlying philosophy, the presupposition, behind an eclectic text is the actual collapse with what we are witnessing being the physical manifestation of what already started.  It is true.  You can trace everything back to the shift from transcendent truth to immanent truth.  Truth comes from outside this world and is objective and absolute.  A change in thinking led to a malleable Bible, an eclectic one.

White acts like the idea of a settled, traditional, preserved text is of recent origin as a reaction to apostasy or liberalism.  He's got the order out of wack.  You had the settled text, then you had liberalism, then you had an eclectic text.  The eclectic text wasn't accepted by rank and file.  It took a long period of erosion like with so many doctrines to get where we're at.  The rebellion even in churches, that I know White is concerned about, is because the churches lack in authority.  You can change the meaning of marriage, because people can't be sure enough to say there is a meaning.

The belief in perfect preservation, a settled text, is not externally derived.  White says it is.  We've dealt with that.  He says it is the end of meaningful apologetic interaction.  He has a wrong view of apologetics.  We've dealt with that.  White says that the ecclesiastical text is vague.  It isn't.  It is the textus receptus.  White says that is vague, because you have several editions.  We've dealt with that again and again through the years.

White slips up when he says that even if you take a Byzantine position, you get back to presuppositions.  He quickly says then, "I guess everybody has their presuppositions."  What he does though is expose that he doesn't start with a biblical presupposition for his position.  It came out just very naturally for him.  He briefly caught himself, but didn't correct it.  There was nothing to correct for him, because that is what he believes, that is, that you don't start with presuppositions.  Textual critics say, start with the evidence and let that lead you to the truth.

One tell-tale moment for White is when he is leafing through his book looking for his presuppositions.  He says he wrote a big book.  He acts like he's telling you and then he says nothing. This is also when you can tell he is in trouble.  I've seen people like Governor Rick Perry when they are trying to tell you something that they don't know.  It's awkward and painful for him.  He paused very long and fails.

White brings up the LXX, saying Jesus quoted from it, and says that this is a problem and worthy of serious thought.  I have written again and again on that subject here.  I'm going to write on it again, maybe tomorrow.  How is that a presupposition?  The fact that it isn't a presupposition is why he pauses so long.  That argument is an argument against preservation.  The LXX, as White knows, is corrupt.  He would be arguing for a corrupt Bible.  You can't really take a propositional position from the Bible from that LXX argument.  Half of it is speculation, which is why White is so vague about it.

It really is not a good argument for White to bring up the LXX to me.  I've written on it again and again.  White has trouble himself if he's going to take that argument.  Was Jesus really quoting from the LXX?  Does White believe that?  I'd be happy to have him deal with the "tough stuff"?  Do you understand that White is saying that Jesus quoted from a corrupt translation?  Where does Jesus say He's quoting from the Septuagint?  Is that the correct view?  Does it hold up?

White says there is confusion about categories between canon and text.  We're not confused about that, but we dealt with that too.  White brings up the uselessness of men who don't take his position, but that's not true.  It's possible that some of the reformed men don't get out much, but that's not because of their text position.  White smears me as a Ruckman/Riplinger type who lies.  We've dealt with that.  It's non sequitur.  He puts me into "the nastiest group."  He says I'm right along with them. I'd be happy to find out the examples of my nastiness.  Please point it out.  I'd say lumping me with Ruckman is about as nasty as it can get.

Like most eclectic defenders, White says you can't take the ecclesiastical text or traditional text type of position without pointing out the exact edition of the TR that is the preserved edition.  This is something he says right after a long riff on strawmen.  You have very much settled on the text of scripture if you settle on the TR.  He knows that.  The reason you don't report what you think is perfect to people like White is because you'll spend the next several hours hearing about the differences between the TR editions.  That doesn't refute the position, so it is a red herring too, but it raises such a distraction that you just lost what is most important, that being, the focus on the presuppositions.  Creation of confusion on Revelation 16:5 is not a position.  It's just a criticism.

The TR, traditional text, eclectic text is a defensible position.  That is what it has the most going for it.  It arises from biblical exegesis.  It originates from scriptural presuppositions.  You might not be able to answer every question to every eclectic text critic to his satisfaction -- that is almost guaranteed -- but you can defend the position from the biblical presupposition.  The other side doesn't have a scriptural position.  They can't get theirs from the Bible.  I've never read one biblical theology for an eclectic text.  Without a biblical mooring, it is faithless.  Again, criticism of the only defensible, biblical position is not an actual position itself.  It's like an old-time preacher once said, "I like my position better than your no-position."

White says that his position, that in his book, is that there isn't anything that has ever been lost.  It doesn't take much to see he doesn't believe that.  The papyri wasn't "found" until the 20th century, so it was lost.  And again, I ask about the manuscript for 1 Samuel 13:1.  I've never met an eclectic text position that believed that we have it all available.  They hope we will find it.  That's why Dan Wallace is doing what he's doing, because these men want to find something to reconstruct the text for them.

White attacks the idea that nothing was lost after saying that he believes that nothing was lost.  He says the Johanine comma was lost.  Those who don't believe anything was lost don't believe that was lost, but this is an example of the tit for tat discussion that occurs after saying you believe you have a perfect, settled text.  White rejects that presupposition, so there will always be discussions about what is in and what is out.  He wants it.  He likes it.

Can we debate Bart Ehrmans and the like?  We could.  I would debate him if I thought it would be helpful.  I don't believe he'll be persuaded if I can beat him on textual evidence.  I know Ehrman is lying about that, but he's not going to be persuaded by a manuscript evidence argument.  This is another example of White's apologetic problem.  I'm right next to California-Berkeley and Stanford.  I debate those people all the time almost every week out in evangelism.  The Bible holds up without starting with manuscript evidence.

White says people like me can't answer an Ehrman's questions.  White can't answer our questions.  He can't square what the Bible says with what he believes.  It's pretense with him when you want to know how his belief is historical.  It isn't.   White doesn't understand what matters on this.

When White talks about the KJV translators and Erasmus, this is revisionist history.  They had a homogenous text.  We know that.  If you took all the differences between all the editions of the TR, there are very few.  This is nothing like the Grand Canyon between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

I'm going to end it there for the one hour video that he called Strawmanism. I've answered what he said there already in some place that I've written in the last three weeks.

James White came back in yesterday's program, August 11, and spent about 5 or 10 minutes talking about how out of balance his critics are.  He, of course, is balanced, and he lectures us on lacking on balance.  I've always wondered about the word balance, used by Christians.  It's not a word used in the Bible.  The point about me is that I've written way too much on this subject.  Before my flurry of posts the last three weeks, it was 10 months ago I've written on this.  If you look at the 450 or so sermons on the website of our church, I don't think you'll see one sermon on this subject.

I do more work on this than many others, because I was a biblical language major and have taught Hebrew and Greek.  We have written a book on this subject.  The way that I support my belief about the Bible is by preaching it.  I'm sure I'll keep writing on this, when I think I need to.  It's more important to me than numbers of other subjects out in the world.  It's God's Word.


Anonymous said...

“ I've always wondered about the word balance, used by Christians. It's not a word used in the Bible. “

The term ‘balance’ as used in the phrase, ‘you need to have balance’ is a device to allow for equivocation between the philosophies of man and the truth of God’s Word. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Col 2:8 It seems to me that Christians are to be radically unbalanced.

I often hear this phrase used when Biblical commands are treated as if they are mutually exclusive. We are told we can’t “love” others and proclaim Biblical truth at the same time. 1 Cor 13 says different. If two apparently contradictory commands are given they can both be obeyed. We just need increased understanding and wisdom. We don’t need “balance.” We certainly don’t need it in regard to how and where God’s Word is to be found.

I've really enjoyed and been edified by all of the unbalanced truth in this blog. Thanks.


KJB1611 said...

Thanks for this.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Chris. That's exactly what I think about balance. I used to hear that when I was in college and seminary, but it wasn't really explained. I get why they talked about it. They didn't want their grads to be trouble out there. They wanted you to fit in, find that happy medium.

You've got to obey everything God said, which means not doing just one of the things He said. That requires balance, but that isn't what they mean. They mean that you've got to accept some error, balance error with truth, or take the middle position. The balance keeps moving toward the error, I've seen. This allows error to comfortably exist, which helps your coalition grow. Fewer are excluded this way. This isn't how Jesus operated.

Dr James Ach said...

I have much more to add later, but a quick observation on your comment about teaching Hebrew & Greek:

The very first time that White blocked me on Twitter before any discussion of personal issues I'd been made aware of by his sister, or discussions on Calvinism, I had corrected a Hebrew blunder he had made and as a native Hebrew speaker from Israel, that got me curious as to what the Curriculum Vitae looked like from the colleges in which White claims to have taught SEMINARY LEVEL Hebrew at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

To this day I have never received a response from GBTS or any other place White claims to have taught Hebrew at. Perhaps that vitae will surface during your interaction with him...but I won't hold my breath.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for going through all this stuff from White. It has been very interesting. Although the subject can become very confusing and pull in a huge amount of information I know nothing about (manuscripts etc) I believe the heart of the issues is simple: Is the Bible your final authority and do you believe what God plainly says about His Word. That is it, the rest is all noise, or it seems an attempt to avoid this question.