Dr. James White, How Ya Like Me Now?

In the comment section of my last post Dr. Andy Jackson stated that he had kindly given us some "link love" over at his site SmartChristian.com (thanks for that, by the way, it appears that we are the only atheist site linked to your site).

I went over and browsed through some of his site (which appears to be an excellent Christian resource with a political bent). I noticed a link there that mentioned some comments that Dr. James White made about one of John Loftus' posts here.

I clicked over to Dr. White's site and found Dr. White's comments for myself (sorry, I couldn't figure out how to link it, so you will have to do some searching for it if you want to read it).

Though Dr. White is primarily addressing Loftus' post, he made one comment that I found interesting. He wrote, "That has been my experience: 'former' Christians, freed from the constraints of morality, express their hatred for the faith in the most outrageous ways, and rarely do you find a high regard for fairness or accuracy in their writings."

I found this quote interesting for personal reasons. Though, as I've explained, I hope to keep my anonymity, it might interest some readers that I was once one of Dr. White's students. I took a class in Christian Philosophy which Dr. White taught as an apologetics class.

During that (albeit, short) class, Dr. White was very complementary of my work. Because of my background, the two of us often chased rabbit trails that most of the other class members could not follow. I got an "A" in that class.

After reading Dr. White's quote, I couldn't help wondering what he would think of me now. He, obviously, doesn't believe that one can be a "'former' Christian," so would he, now, believe that I had fooled him?

More generally, do Christians think that I fooled people throughout my whole life. Did I fool my mother when I was five-years-old and I asked her to help me pray the "sinner's prayer" so that Jesus could live in my heart? Did I fool my whole church and pastoral staff when at age 13, I "felt a call to Christian ministry" and they prayed for me and held a dedication service for me? Did I fool my Baptist Student Union when they prayerfully selected me to be a summer missionary? Did I fool the first church that (after a great deal of prayer) hired me as their youth pastor and music minister? Did I fool the conservative Christian college that prayerfully selected me to be a campus leader? Did I fool the churches that, after prayer, asked me to preach at their "revival services"? Did I fool the seminary that designated me one of their outstanding students when I graduated? Did I fool the panel of pastors that questioned me, prayed about their decision, said they got God's confirmation of that decision, and then recommended me for ordination? Did I fool the church that prayed for God's guidance and unanimously ordained me to the ministry? Did I fool the missions' committee that prayerfully selected me to be a church planter for their denomination?

And most importantly, did I fool myself? I know that many of the Christian readers, here, have theologies that say that this can't be the case, but I tell you that during all of those years, I honestly believed that I was a Christian. I believed that I was a sinner unworthy of grace, that Jesus died for my sins, that I had been elected for salvation by the God of the universe. I was serious about my sanctification. I prayed that God, who had began a good work in me, would be faithful to complete it. I wept over my sin. I wept over the lost. I attempted to study to show myself approved so that I would be a faithful minister of God's Word. I prayed over every decision I made in life. I attempted to seek first the kingdom of God.

So, all that time, was I fooling myself? Or was I like the seed that grows in shallow soil with no roots so that I was blown away at the first "trial" (though there really was no "trial" to speak of)? I know that your theology may not allow for the non-perseverance of the saints, but honestly, I can describe it in no other terms. Where I once had faith, hope, and love in and for the Christian God, I now only have skepticism.

But how can one fool oneself like this? If one thinks they are expressing faith, how is that different to the person than actually expressing faith?

Whatever your theology dictates, don't you think it is telling that hundreds (if not thousands) of Christians have prayed over me and believed they received word from God that "his hand was on" me, and that God was directing them to confirm my ministry? If all of these Christians can be fooled after firmly believing that God has given them confirmation of my Christianity and my "call" to ministry, how can any Christian trust that they are hearing anything from God?

No, James White probably never prayed to God to confirm my salvation, but he did consider me an intelligent person, well-versed in Christian apologetics. But all of these churches that firmly believed that God had indicated that I was a believer and called to do Christian work, what can be said of all of them?

It seems that the Christian is only left with three options: (1) those churches didn't really get any guidance from God and only believed they did, (2) they did hear from God, but he tricked them into thinking that I was a Christian and a "called" Christian minister, or (3) that a true Christian can lose his or her faith.

Anyway, James, if you are reading this, I want to say that I enjoyed your class and still think fondly of it. Your post simply got me thinking about my past. If, by any chance, you can figure out who I am, I would appreciate it if you kept it secret. Thanks.

15 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Wow! Life throws us some interesting twists, doesn't it? But life goes on. The arguments just were not there, period.

Besides, will someone please tell him and others that I didn't write that post he refers to. The author of that post can defend it for himself and I gave the link to it. I intended it to poke some fun, that's all, and to get Christians scurrying to answers the questions.

I'm surprized that's the post getting the most attention.

Headliners get people's attention I suppose.

tim said...

If you want to get to Dr. White's article as a separate page, then go here http://www.aomin.org/index.php?query=John+Loftus&amount=0&blogid=1

Although his site is quite outdated, and he has stated that he knows this, you can search for key words and whatnot at the bottom of the main page and pull up the archived posts.

exbeliever said...

Thanks tim.

I did figure it out this afternoon and I was planning on correcting it so that no one knew I was too dense to link the article, but now your comment outted me! ;-)

Also, I thought of a fourth possibility for Christians who must explain apostasy: (4) that I'm really still a Christian in a severe "back-slidden" state and that the Christian God will someday lead me back into the fold.

I know of at least one friend who thinks (/hopes) this is the case. I think it's the least likely scenario, but we'll see.

Mark Plus said...

I corresponded with James White back in the late 1980's, and he made some mysterious threat about how my nonbelief would cause practical disadvantages in my life because I allegedly couldn't "account" for presuppostionalist bugaboos. Living nearly 20 years later I still don't know what he meant. Christians like White can't account for the fact that hundreds of millions of people have lived satisfying lives without believing in their gods, and this knowledge makes them anxious.

k7 said...

You wrote that Christians were "fooled" by you appearing to be a one of the elect. Since when did Christians get the ability to see into the heart of other human beings? And since when is it unusual for there to be unbelievers wearing the cloth?

Edward T. Babinski said...

I exchanged some debate letters with James White in the 1980s when "Alpha and Omega" was just starting out, and I hadn't been outside the fold for very long. We discussed a great many matters, starting with his hero, Jonathan Edwards. It was my debate with White that led me to study Edwards' original writings, especially on original sin and hell. Some of the things I discovered were that Edwards believed in infant damnation--he compared young children to vipers. Edwards also taught that the sight of seeing others tormented for eternity would just make the righteous praise God more. All hail being lucky enough to enjoy God's eternal snuff film!

Edwards elucidated the matter thusly:

The glorified saints will see the wrath of God executed upon ungodly men. This the scriptures plainly teach us, that the righteous and the wicked in the other world see each other's state. Thus the rich man in hell, and Lazarus and Abraham in heaven are represented as seeing each other's opposite states, in the 16th chap. of Luke. [The rich man sees Lazarus being comforted, and Lazarus sees the rich man writhing in pain.] The wicked in their misery will see the saints in the kingdom of heaven; Luke 13:28,29. "There shall be weeping and gn~hing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."
So the saints in glory will see the misery of the wicked under the wrath of God. Isa. 66:24. "And they shall go forth and look on the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched." And, Rev. 14:9,10. "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb." The saints are not mentioned, being included in Christ, as his members. The church is the fulness of Christ, and is called Christ, 1 Cor. 12:12. So in the 19th chapter, verse 2,3 the smoke of Babylon's torments is represented as rising up for ever and ever, in the sight of the heavenly inhabitants. . . [Furthermore, Jesus spoke a parable that ended with the words, "Bring them here and slay them in my presence." Luke 19:27.]
When the saints in glory, therefore, shall see the doleful state of the damned, how will this heighten their sense of the blessedness of their own state, so exceedingly different from it! When they shall see how miserable others of their fellow creatures are, who were naturally in the same circumstances with themselves; when they shall see the smoke of their torment, and the raging of the flames of their burning, and hear their dolorous shrieks and cries, and consider that they in the meantime are in the most blissful state, and shall surely be in it to all eternity; how they will rejoice! . . .
How joyfully will they sing to God and the Lamb, when they behold this! [Psalm 58:10 "The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked." And in Isaiah 30:2733, the nation of Assyria is depicted metaphorically as a human figure being sacrificed and slain by Yahweh; this act being accompanied by festival songs, gladness of heart, the sound of the flute, tambourines and lyres. ]

SOURCES FOR THE ABOVE EDWARDS QUOTATIONS [my comments were in the brackets]

Jonathan Edwards, The End of the Wicked Contemplated by the Righteous; Or, The Torments of the Wicked in Hell, No Occasion of Grief to the Saints in Heaven, Section I, "When the Saints in Glory Shall See the Wrath of God Executed on Ungodly Men, It Will Be No Occasion of Grief to Them, But of Rejoicing," and Section II, "Why the Sufferings of the Wicked Will Not be Cause of Grief to the Rightous, But the Contrary" (Posthumous Discourse, March, 1773). Reprinted in The Works of President Edwards, vol. 4 (New York, N.Y.: Burt Franklin, 1968 reprint ofthe London 1817 edition, 10 v.), pp. 506-507 and 512.

Elsewhere Edwards stated:

The sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saint for ever. . . . (The Eternity of Hell Torments [Sermon, April 1739]].)

Can the believing husband in Heaven be happy with his unbelieving wife in Hell? Can the believing father in Heaven be happy with his unbelieving children in Hell? Can the loving wife in Heaven be happy with her unbelieving husband in Hell? I tell you, yea! Such will be their sense of justice that it will increase rather than diminish their bliss. (Discourses on Various Important Subjects, 1738.)

Edwards also stated in Remarks on Important Theological Controversies, chapter 2, "Concerning the Endless Punishment of Those Who Die Impenitent" (reprinted in The Works of President Edwards, vol. 8 p. 339):

They [the saints] shall not be grieved, but rather rejoice at the glorious manifestations… of God's justice, holiness, and majesty in their [the damned's] dreadful perdition, and shall triumph with Christ; Rev. 18:20; and 19 at the beginning. They [the damned] shall be made Christ's footstool, and so they shall be the footstool of the saints. Ps. 68:23. “That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same."

Now I know why the apostle Paul spoke about God "doing away with the stomach" in the afterlife (1 Cor. 6:13)-because who could keep their food down while viewing such sights as Edwards gleefuly depicted?

CalvinDude said...

exbeliever wrote:
---
Also, I thought of a fourth possibility for Christians who must explain apostasy: (4) that I'm really still a Christian in a severe "back-slidden" state and that the Christian God will someday lead me back into the fold.
---

Yes, this is exactly the point that you forgot the first time :-) The bottom line is that God never abandons His chosen. If you were ever His, you still are and at some point you will return to "the fold"; but if you weren't ever His, then you won't. As a Calvinist, I know that God's got it under control.

I am going to assume that you are one of His and are simply backslidden--not because it makes me feel better, but because I accept your claimed testimony from before. If that is the case, you can certainly kick against the Spirit for quite some time, but in the end it won't matter (and that could, possibly, be part of the reason for the kicking against the Spirit, eh?).

So why would God allow you to become an apostate? I don't know the entire mind of God and I won't pretend to know exactly what He has in mind here. But what I do know is that God rarely (if ever) does anything for the sake of a single person. You are where you are in your life for a reason and a purpose. Whether you return to Christ or not, you are in His will.

I have, in the past, kicked against the gourds myself. I've never doubted the existence of God, but there were certainly times when I hated God. I hated God so much I wished at times that I could die and go to hell so I could get away from Him. And it was somewhat despairing to know that no matter how much I wished it, God would never leave me. No matter what happened, I knew I was one of His and I couldn't do anything to separate myself from Him. It really ticked me off at the time--I can't explain how much anger I had toward God at the time. But now I can look at it and see why it was that God had me go through it.

It wasn't for my sake that I "lost faith" in the goodness of God; it was for the sake of those who could be helped by the fact that I went through it and am on the other side. I'm not the only person who has gone through times like that, nor will I be the last to have done so. And it's not for your sake that you are going through your spiritual drought right now either. God has a purpose and a reason--and even if you are not one of His, His elect will still learn from your example. It is undeniable and irresistible. It will happen no matter how much you wish it otherwise right now.

John W. Loftus said...

Unless I missed it, why is it that people like Dr. White don't allow for dissent on his site? Why? I do. If he wants to debate these things, then let him open them up for discussion.

Otherwise he can take pot shots all he wants to knowing I cannot respond. He wins. I lose. Gee, I wonder why?

Tim said...

Dr. White has stated many times in his blog and radio show that he does not allow comments for several reasons. Some of the top ones being (1) If someone wants to debate issues or bring something up, they can always call in to the show, (2) he doesn't have the time to devote to the back-and-forth that typically comes from allowing comments. Whether you agree with him or not, he is a busy man, travelling all the time and writing books and articles and sermons.

Jason said...

So people should not be allowed to raise objections on his site because of that? Sounds weak to me.

Ken Fields said...

More generally, do Christians think that I fooled people throughout my whole life. Did I fool my mother when I was five-years-old and I asked her to help me pray the "sinner's prayer" so that Jesus could live in my heart? Did I fool my whole church and pastoral staff when at age 13, I "felt a call to Christian ministry" and they prayed for me and held a dedication service for me? Did I fool my Baptist Student Union when they prayerfully selected me to be a summer missionary? Did I fool the first church that (after a great deal of prayer) hired me as their youth pastor and music minister? Did I fool the conservative Christian college that prayerfully selected me to be a campus leader? Did I fool the churches that, after prayer, asked me to preach at their "revival services"? Did I fool the seminary that designated me one of their outstanding students when I graduated? Did I fool the panel of pastors that questioned me, prayed about their decision, said they got God's confirmation of that decision, and then recommended me for ordination? Did I fool the church that prayed for God's guidance and unanimously ordained me to the ministry? Did I fool the missions' committee that prayerfully selected me to be a church planter for their denomination?

Yes, it's possible to fool believers ... Judas comes to mind. Demas even fooled Paul. But neither of these men fooled God. The fact that you can fool me doesn't shatter my faith, in fact, it strengthens it, because you never fooled God.

It doesn't shame other Christians that you fooled them, it shames you that you fooled yourself!

exbeliever said...

Ken,

You wrote: "It doesn't shame other Christians that you fooled them, it shames you that you fooled yourself!"

So, do you believe that your god gives churches guidance about important decisions (e.g. ordinations, hiring ministers) outside of the qualifications listed in the Bible? When a church seeks to hire a new pastor, do they pray for your god's guidance? Do you think your god gives any direction to them?

Do you take it seriously when a local body of believers agrees on an issue after prayer? Do you think your god deceives these Christians and tells gives them the wrong answer?

How do you know that you aren't "fooling yourself" about your faith? The only way you will know whether or not it is "true" faith is if you perserve to the end, right? You're not at your end yet, are you?

So, you claim to have insight into my soul because of your theology, but what if you aren't even a "true" believer yourself? What if your faith whithers and dies? What is the source of your insight if you are only fooling yourself right now?

You say that I never fooled god. Can you give me any reason to believe that a god even exists to be fooled? You are very confident that he does, so tell me why.

DvW said...

EB,
You've painted a very different picture of your journey from "belief to apostacy" on this blog than you have on your previous one. I can see why you've left certain things out, but it just doesn't seem honest to list out all the "credentials" like you were "a pharisee of pharisees," and to leave out the other pieces that don't allow people to have their own judgment with a more complete picture of the facts (as you presented them previously).
Frankly, I don't think you should have to list it all the previous experiences out, you should just continue to expound on the philosophical discussions. We all have relational experiences we could say "proves" our argument one way or the other, but I'm not sure how that really brings the argument closer to a conclusion.
I'm still not sure why you have chosen to remain anon., and no matter how difficult (I am still struggling to find a good reason for self constraint) it may be, I won't reveal it in my posts.

exbeliever said...

dvw,

You wrote: "You've painted a very different picture of your journey from "belief to apostacy" on this blog than you have on your previous one."

My last blog was about my life, not just my loss of faith. I put details there that related to my experience as a person. These only relate to my experience of faith.

You wrote: "I'm still not sure why you have chosen to remain anon. . ."

I described my reasons here.

You wrote: "I won't reveal it in my posts."

I appreciate that. I would also appreciate it if you didn't let anyone else know it is me either. I don't want the same things to happen in this blog that happened in my last one.

Johnny Robertson said...

thanks for writing that post.
I never believed in eternal security to begin with, but am very secure in Rom 5:1-10
if you are interested
Johnny