“Mark these men. Keep an eye out for them!" A reply from James White who hides from afar
Click here to read an article by Sonny Hernandez that refutes several fallacious accusations from moderate Calvinists who cry "hyper-Calvinist" when they hear someone call Arminianism heresy.
Instead of responding to my challenge to debate, White hides behind his computer and sinks to the low of mischaracterization and libel. In a recent post on his FB page (November 22, 2017), James White brought a silly charge against Pulpit and Pen with his opening line, in these words: “I see P&P is going full-on hyper now, sadly.” Well what is White’s idea of the “content” of hyper Calvinism as he sees it? These are the words of note [emphasis added]:
There is little doubt that White has put both Sonny Hernandez and me in his theological crosshairs, as Pulpit and Pen were highlighting us in their on-line piece. First, let me say that White is putting words in my mouth. I have never said, “one must embrace all of Calvinism to be saved” or that “only Calvinists are saved.” Documentation please! Just because James White does not understand my point, he projects his own meaning onto things I have said. I said, Arminianism is heresy! Trying to defend Arminians by clever and hopeless tactics, saying they are guilty only of “blessed inconsistencies,” does not clear the many that have openly resisted the doctrines of grace. So, I am not guilty of this charge of hyper Calvinism. Furthermore, Mr. White should know better, that historically, hyper Calvinism is a position that advocates that the gospel should be preached only to those that show signs of regeneration. I have never condoned hyper Calvinism; Indeed, I wholeheartedly condemn it. But, White here appears to commit the fallacy of naming the one who is a little bit more Calvinistic than oneself, a hyper! In other words, he implies, “I am not like others that despise heresies, are harsh in tone, uncharitable; or like these Hyper-Calvinists. I call Arminians my brothers, I believe in Free Will, which, is compatible with your determining work, Lord.”
We refer to the Calvinistic teachings as the “doctrines of grace” not “the doctrines of non-essentials”! “The doctrines of adiaphora” has a nice ring to it, but I am afraid we must stick with the “doctrines of grace!” These are the heart of the gospel. Christ’s life and death, what God has wrought in Him is the gospel. How He saves is the essence of the gospel, which is the power of God to salvation. Substitutionary and efficacious atonement is the heartbeat of the gospel. Faith by grace alone saves. All these tenets are denied by the Arminian that twists Scripture. I used to think that Arminians had a set of verses and that Calvinists had a set of verses and there was a kind of theological stalemate but that at least everyone loved Jesus. Now, I know there are no “Arminian” verses in Scripture. God’s Word has one plan, all the Bible is of one cloth. There are no contradictions or paradoxes or antinomies. Those that preach another gospel are under Paul’s anathema. Arminians need to hear the powerful gospel of grace alone. One may not understand all the deep theological content of the gospel, but the gospel does include these elements: one must see himself as a sinner, T; is dependent on Christ’s choosing, U; is really saved by the cross, L; is effectually called by God, I; and can rest in God’s providential security, P. Hence, as Spurgeon said, “Calvinism is just a nickname for the gospel”. Warfield said, “Calvinism remains as the only hope for this world.” Who could ever say that of Arminianism? Wake up! The theological coffee has been brewing since Paul wrote Romans: “it is not of him that runs or of him that wills, but of God.” This is Calvinism 101.
My point, is not that one must become a theologian to become a Christian. Which Christian can plumb the depths of the incarnation and atonement? But that the gospel is what saves, and a faulty gospel does not save, no Christian ought to deny. I must insist that White is not following my thesis. I believe that those that preach a message that is truncated because of a denial of the doctrines of grace are not proclaiming the true gospel. God, by His grace, May lead people out of those places as He has done with several throughout history.
Those who oppose and hate the doctrines of grace are unwittingly fighting against God. My insistence that the true gospel is what God has wrought in Christ, is not an attempt to convert with a scheme of man, but is an exercise in faithful proclamation of the truth. I have news for you Mr. White, I was an heir of grace before the foundation of the world, let alone, before I heard of John Calvin. God, indeed, must open the eyes of those that, in time, will become beneficiaries of Jesus’s salvific work. To bring the gospel down to the lowest common denominator is wonderful, if your goal is to be so inclusive that we welcome any person that says, “I love Jesus.” But, God has called us to evangelism not to ecumenism. So, a dumbing down of the gospel is not the best way to proceed.
Finally, White issues a warning to all that will listen. He says, “Mark these men, keep an eye out for them! Few things can kill a Reformed church faster than graceless hyperism.” What a shame that White not only thinks that our theology is simplistic and rationalistic, that we are hypers, and that we have left grace for error, but that we are henceforth “marked men.” Instead of taking up my challenge to pit his conditional decree against my affirmation of an unconditional decree, he lowers himself to name-calling and misrepresentation. What do you mean by “marked men?” Are you insinuating that it is we who are the heretics and not the Arminians? Nice move!
It is important to note that James White’s actions on social media appear to not only be immature, but also predictable. Consider these steps:
Step 1: Runs to social media diary (i.e., Facebook, Twitter) to incite followers.
Step 2: Play victim, ridicule, or mock opponents.
Step 3: Devote an entire Dividing Line episode to either boast about himself, or arrogantly mock and ridicule his opponents, or possibly play victim.
This is not all. At times, he will selectively call people out to debate. Recently, he challenged what he calls the “Howsian group” to debate:
When they did not accept his debate proposal, White said [emphasis added]: “…but they refuse to put their interpretation on the line for examination. This is theological cowardice at its best.”
We agree with you Mr. White. Men that that refuse to put their interpretation on the line for examination are guilty of “theological cowardice at best"—especially when they are the ones that are guilty of what they are accusing others of doing. Mark it well.
Mr. White, my debate challenge remains. Let us debate the proposition, “Is God’s Decree Conditional?” You may take the affirmative, so you can assert as much as you like about meaningful choices of creaturely will. I will take the negative side. I await your response.