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Archive for the ‘ RK ’ Category
Continuing the series I started with in my prior post, we’re examining the About.com article “Seven Reasons Why Mormons are Christian”, by Rachel Bruner. In our prior post, recall that we examined 1) The remarks of their elder statesmen on this topic, 2) The distinct tendency on the part of the LDS to “redefine” terms in the Christian lexicon, and 3) The necessity for a transcendental argument to settle the question.
In this installment, we will examine the first reason we are given for believing that Mormons are Christian.
I’ve duplicated the link from the article, as we will discuss the content found therein, as well. The article gives the following as support for the preceding statement:
Everything we teach and everything we do is to bring us unto Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and all our beliefs and doctrines focus on Him as our Savior and Redeemer. He is the head of our church (see Ephesians 5:23), which many people refer to as “Mormons” but that is only a nickname. The proper name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When the Nephites disputed what to call the church, Christ said:
“And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Nephi 27:8).
Now, let’s address some presuppositional commitments, before we get into the response. The “Jesus Christ” of Mormonism is who, precisely? According to the link for #1, “Jesus Christ is the firstborn spirit child of God and although each of us is a spirit son or daughter of God, the Eternal Father, only Jesus Christ is God’s son in the flesh. Born of the virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, is the only begotten son of the Father.”  Now, let’s compare this conception of Jesus to the Biblical conception of Jesus. Gill puts it thus: “[H]e is an individual, distinct, though not separate from the divine nature, he has in common with the Father and the Spirit; he subsists of himself in that nature distinctly, and independently; is not a part of another, the whole fulness of the Godhead dwells in him; nor is his human nature, which he assumed in time, a part of his person, nor adds anything to his personality; but being taken up into union with his person, subsists in it; he has life in himself, and is the living God; is intelligent, has understanding and will; knows himself, his Father and the Spirit, and all creatures and things, and does whatsoever he pleases.”
Let’s set forth these conceptions of Christ in antithesis, as they ought to be placed – we will draw from other places in Mormon writings to give us a fuller picture, as well.
|Attributes||CT (Christian Theism)||~CT (Mormon Theism)|
|Deity||Monogenes (Unique Son)||First of many spirit children|
|Conception||Miraculously, by the Spirit||In the flesh, by Elohim|
|Relationship to Satan||Lord and God over||Spirit brother to|
|Relationship to Man||Transcendent God over and Creator of  ||Spirit brother to|
|Nature||In Hypostatic Union, 2nd person of the Trinity||One of a plurality of gods, firstborn of Elohim|
|Temporality||Eternal, as God alone||One of a plurality of antemortal spirit brethren in endless temporal existence|
|Material Relationship||Essentially Spirit, took on flesh, yet immutable||Essentially Spirit, which is itself a form of matter |
|Sonship||Eternal||Began in time, in the flesh |
|Atonement began||On Calvary||In Gethsemane|
This suffices for our purposes at the moment; it does, however, clearly illustrate that the Mormon and Christian conceptions of “Christ” are fundamentally at odds! Since we have our two worldviews at antithesis on the most basic of levels, we must transcendentally argue our case(s), as what is at stake is the very intelligibility of what it is we are saying. Mormonism, after all, claims to be founded on the Christian Scriptures, and merely a continuation, to be carried along by their “living prophets”. Christianity, on the other hand, claims that the revelation of God is complete in the 66 books of the Bible, and that in that Scripture alone we may rest secure, and find certainty. So, what are we to do? Throw up our hands? Not in the least! We will argue on the level of worldviews, rather than over individual facts, in a piecemeal fashion. If Christ is the head of the church – which we both seem to affirm – which church is that, precisely? As we saw in the last installment, it is quite clear that whatever “church” the “Jesus” of the LDS is the head of, is not the church that orthodox Christians are members of. On the other hand, Scripture tells us that Christ is the head of His church, and that the church is defined as all of the elect throughout history. So, how are we to resolve this?
Let us take the doctrines of Christ, and of the Church, and set them in opposition. First, will proceed to do an internal critique of the LDS position, and demonstrate that the position of the LDS church is incoherent, and makes both “Christ” and “Church” unintelligible.
To the LDS church, we have been without a “valid” church since shortly after the apostles were martyred. At very least they point to Nicea as an example of the “great apostasy” that had gripped the “Christian” church. So, in effect, there was no valid church from at least 325 until 1820 (but probably longer than that). In the eyes of the LDS, there was effectively no church on the face of God’s earth for centuries. Only with the “Great Restoration” of Joseph Smith was the church brought back in any meaningful fashion. So, we can say that to the LDS, Jesus is the head of the LDS church, and all else is apostate.
There is a problem with this assertion, however. Are we to believe that the church who Christ told Peter that “the gates of Hades” would not stand against fell, for centuries? That God did not preserve for Himself a remnant? On the one hand, we have the Scripture that the LDS claims to believe telling us that the church will not fall; On the other hand, we have the testimony of Joseph Smith and his fellow “Latter Day Saints” that the church did fall! If, as the LDS claims, the church of Jesus Christ went into apostasy in a wholesale fashion, what are we to believe of the promises of God? Even more urgently, however, how shall we explain the seeming contradictions between the teaching of the Apostles themselves, and the LDS church, on a massive variety of points? For instance, the Apostles taught, explicitly, that God is One. So did Christ. If this is the case, how are we to believe that in reality, (as the LDS teaches) they taught that there are many gods? It is undeniably the case that the Old Testament and New Testament both teach that God is one in being However, the LDS church teaches that there are a plurality of gods. In order to make their teaching an intelligible continuation of the teaching of the Old and New Testaments, it would have to be the case that the OT and NT teach that there are a plurality of true gods. In Scripture we are told of that there is a plurality of false gods, but never that there is a plurality of true gods. Even more problematic, how are we to ground, for instance, the one and the many in a pluralism of deities? How are we to ground an objective morality in a plurality of deities? How are we to ground logic, or uniformity in a mutable, temporally-bound pantheon such as Mormonism presents us with? As Mormonism presents it, there is no visible uniformity in their ecclesiology, nor in their doctrine of scripture. Both are presented as mutable, and discontinuous – even contradictory. As such, their inability to grant us the preconditions of intelligibility in human experience and external reality make their worldview impossible.
In contrast, Christianity presents us with an ecclesiology and doctrine of scripture grounded in monergism. From first to last, the work and nature of God is the precondition for every doctrine we believe. The church is made up of those who are elected from eternity by the Father, brought to the body of Christ by the work of the Spirit, and atoned for by the death and obedience of Christ. In the Triune God, there is a foundation for the unity and diversity of the church, the certainty of revelatory and ecclesiological continuity and objectivity.
Let us move on the the doctrine of Christ. In the Old Testament, we are presented with multiple “theophanies”, as well as the express revelation of God to man. In the New Testament, it is revealed that God the Son took on flesh, and walked among us. We are told by the LDS church that God the Son became the Son at a certain point in time, and was conceived physically by intercourse with Mary. We are also told that God the Son is of the same order of being as we are, differing only in his degree of exaltation, as we (and Christ) differ from Elohim only in our degree of exaltation. We are told that Christ is of the same order as the angels, as well, since Lucifer is his spirit-brother. We are told that he did not create the world ex-nihilo, but that he organized pre-existing matter, which is conterminous with God; who is similarly temporally infinite, if not timelessly eternal. In fact, we are told that “spirit” is merely a different order of matter! He is not the eternally begotten Son, but the temporally begotten son of Elohim. On this basis, how can we affirm that by him were all things made? He, himself, is a made thing. Of pre-existing matter, to be sure, but the Father is, to the LDS, himself, pre-existent matter. Ne is no different in order, essentially, from any other human, be they humble or exalted. So, is he to be considered as creator of himself, or is he similarly the creation of another, as to the LDS, “creation” is the reorganization of pre-existing matter? This is a gross contradiction. He cannot be both creator of all and not-creator of all at the same time, and in the same sense. Further, how is he to say “I AM that I AM” in true self-sufficiency, being a created thing as any other? How is he to be “who was, and is, and is to come” in a properly eternal sense? An endless succession of moments is not, properly, eternity. Yet, to be truly eternal, there must be no change. Change, however, did occur, in the very nature of the Christ of the LDS. Hence, he is not properly eternal, nor self-sufficient, nor self-existent, nor immutable, and certainly not perfect. Perfection is to have no lack. Christ had to become, and needs still become, to be as great as his father, in the doctrine of the LDS. In short, the Christ that the LDS presents is unintelligible. He is a self-contradiction. Their adherence to the Christian Scripture merely points out the contradictory nature of their conception of Christ; the Christ shown purely by the LDS’ distinct writings is similarly self-contradictory, if not so obviously so. By presenting as “God” an exalted man, spirit child of Elohim, firstborn of the flesh, they have presented a “Christ” that is expressly self-refuting. A “Christ” who is an imperfect creation, one of many, not one of a kind except in an incidental sense, whose church fell almost immediately. This “Christ’s” “atonement” paid for nothing in any meaningful sense, was challenged by Lucifer as a being on par with himself, achieved no lasting benefit, and had to be “jumpstarted” 1800 years later in order to be even known at all. A “Christ” such as this does not resemble the πρωτότοκος that Scripture depicts. It is a weak, powerless figure that couldn’t be further from the “Faithful and True” on Revelation’s white horse.
In contrast, we have the eternal, self-existent Son of God; timeless Word before creation or time began. The Creator of all, Sovereign Lord and Redeemer; unchallengeable and unconquerable. Omnipotent, unrivaled, glorious and without peer – firstborn above all creation, He who took on our sins for the glory of God the Father, and is glorified beyond all mortal knowledge. Omniscient, unchanging, in whom all things hold together. In Him alone are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It is such a Christ that makes all else in His creation make sense, and in whom we may know, and repose in certain faith. There is no shadow of turning in Him; no contradiction, or alteration. Only in the eternal and immutable Sovereignty of the Scriptural Christ of Christian orthodoxy can we find the meaning to all we might desire, and all that He designs to reveal of His eternal purpose.
The “Christ” of Mormonism, and it’s long-failed church fail to give us coherence and an intelligible reality. They fail to ground the meaning of all creation in the person of Christ. They are mere shadows; echoes of the triumphal beauty of the Christ revealed in Scripture Alone. With the impossibility of their position, we alone can say that our Christ does that, and is truly all in all. Only the Christ of Scripture is the head of a Church worth worshiping in. May the Mormon people find Him, and may they rest in His certainty, rather than in the morass of doubt that Mormonism entails.
-  D&C 93:21 ↩
-  John 3:16 ↩
-  Original references duplicated when possible ↩
-  Gill, Body of Doctrinal Divinity ↩
-  μονογενής – single of its kind, only ↩
-  LDS.org: Firstborn ↩
-  Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders ↩
-  Matt 1:20 ↩
-  LDS.org: Jesus Christ ↩
-  Hebrews 1:5 ↩
-  Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders ↩
-  Isa 40:21-31 ↩
-  Isa 6:1 ↩
-  John 12:41 ↩
-  Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders ↩
-  “This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ” – Chalcedonian Definition ↩
-  D&C 132:19-22 ↩
-  Ensign: The Father and the Son ↩
-  1 Tim 1:17 ↩
-  Ensign: The Father and the Son ↩
-  John 4:24 ↩
-  D&C 131:7-8 ↩
-  Heb 13:8 ↩
-  “All men were first born in pre-existence as the literal spirit offspring of God our Heavenly Father…and are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity…Christ, destined to be the Only Begotten Son in Mortality, was the first spirit offspring in pre-existence” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 84). ↩
-  “God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; He was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; He was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for He is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says” (Ibid. p. 742) ↩
-  Rom 5:10-11 ↩
-  McConkie, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane ↩
-  Eph 1, Heb 12:23 ↩
-  Early Signs of the Apostasy ↩
-  The Fulness of the Gospel: The Nature of the Godhead ↩
-  The Message of the Restoration ↩
-  Matt 16:18 ↩
-  Psa 100:5, Psa 119:90 ↩
-  Early Signs of the Apostasy ↩
-  2 Cor 1:20 ↩
-  James 2;19 ↩
-  Mar 12:29 ↩
-  Exo 3:14, John 5:44 ↩
-  Also known as the problem of unity and diversity or of universals and particulars ↩
-  Doctrine of the Church ↩
-  having intervals, or gaps ↩
-  in logic, a proposition so related to a second that it is impossible for both to be true or both to be false. ↩
-  What is required to render meaningful, or make understandable ↩
-  the doctrine that the Holy Spirit acts independently of the human will in the work of regeneration; may also more widely applied to the work of God in general ↩
-  the choice by God of individuals, as for a particular work or for favor or salvation ↩
-  in timeless and immutable self-existence ↩
-  the reconciliation of man with God through the life, sufferings, and sacrificial death of Christ ↩
-  both active and passive obedience – see Gill, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book V, 3,4 ↩
-  “appearance of God” ↩
-  Out of nothing ↩
-  Rev 1:4,8 ↩
-  Phil 2:6-11 ↩
-  Col 1:17 ↩
-  Col 2:2-3 ↩
-  Jam 1:17 ↩
Her Seven Reasons are as follows:
1. Christ is Head of Mormon Church
2. Faith in Jesus Christ
3. Prophets Preach of Christ
4. Scriptures Witness of Christ
5. Mormons Act in the Name of Christ
6. Holy Ghost Testifies of Christ
7. Mormons Believe in Atonement of Christ
In this series, we’ll examine each of her claims. In this post, we’ll examine some presuppositional issues, and provide some introductory comments. For reasons not given by the author, it is deemed important that the title “Christian” be applied to the LDS Church and its adherents. When we look at the very statements of Mormon statesmen, however, we find that there is no such desire to be found numbered among Christendom.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”” .
Note this; if you follow the link, you will find that Smith specifically mentions Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians as the target of these words – so, we are being informed that none of these groups are Christian – yet the article’s author is arguing that Mormonism, on the contrary, is Christian. Keep this in mind.
“The fact is that orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian.” 
If the orthodox Christian view is Pagan – what are we to believe is ‘Christian’? Further, note that anything that “Christians” consider “orthodox” is, by this definition, pagan. If so, who is determining what is Christian, and why does it seem to be exclusively unorthodox?
“The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon….”  “Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the “whore of Babylon” whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness.” 
Pratt, apparently, is even more willing to throw out every putative Christian group in his sweeping statements. We are left wondering; who is left, by this point? The modern apostates and cults who self-identify as ‘Christian’? (Simply because they are too new to fall under this indictment, obviously.) Mormonism, evidently, is self-identifying itself as, if not the only, at least the best ‘Christian” group, isn’t it?
If necessary, we can delve more into these and similar statements at a later date, but this should suffice to pique our interest; why, if the elder statesmen of the LDS had these things to say about “Christendom”, do modern Mormons want to be considered “Christian”? We are also left wondering due to the explicit statement of D&C 1:30: that “this church” is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” Puzzling, to be sure.
It must also be understood that within Mormonism, there is a distinct tendency to “redefine” terms. As Dr. James White puts it, “Mormonism uses our language, our terminology, but it fills those words with utterly foreign meanings.” As such, when they speak of “Jesus Christ”, it can be conclusively demonstrated that we’re not talking about the same thing we are talking about. When they speak of “God”, they are similarly not speaking of the identical “God” that we are speaking of. We are not speaking of the “atonement” they are speaking of. In short; when we are speaking of practically anything in the Christian lexicon, the Mormons have a different definition for it. When we deal with issues that they raise, we must keep this clearly in mind; we must accurately represent both what we believe, and what they believe – set them in opposition, and argue transcendentally. In doing so, we will not merely be “arguing about the facts” – we will be arguing the meaning of fact, on a presuppositional level – and able to truly compare these two worldviews in a fashion that will be decisive and clear. This we will do in the remainder of our series, Lord willing.
Paul Baird recently addressed what he seems to think is the “philosophy that underpins the Christian Presuppositional Apologetics.” He’s wrong, of course, but let us show him why, shall we? He cites Chris’ citation of an argument tucked away in the appendix of PA:S&D as that supposed “underpinning.” Interestingly, he goes on to ask why “do Presuppositional Apologists not start with this explanation that PA is about establishing the need for a unique self sufficient knower and identifying that self sufficient knower exclusively as the Christian god?” Well, that is readily apparent – because we don’t believe that to be the case. It’s not only false, but ridiculously so. See, Paul is suffering from the same problems that many do. They take their own presuppositional commitments, map them onto our own, and claim equivalency. This is not only highly detrimental to a proper understanding of what it is we are saying, but highly detrimental to being taken seriously as an objector. If Paul wishes to be taken seriously in his objections to PA, he must actually understand what does underpin it. Namely, he has to understand that Reformed Theology is what determines what we are saying – and that this predates Bahnsen significantly. In fact, he needs to understand that Bahnsen himself is not the one to look to at all for this! If Paul is serious about understanding what PA is, he must understand what Reformed Theology is. It’s that simple. The proper application of Reformed Theology in an apologetic context is what gives us the Presuppositional Apologetic.
So, if this isn’t what underpins the Presuppositional Apologetic, what does? Let’s make sure we, at least, don’t miss the antithesis! What we are after, contra Paul’s assertions, is to “press the antithesis” – indeed, as Bahnsen himself puts it, “This theme of the principial, epistemological and ethical antithesis between the regenerate, Bible-directed mind of the Christian and the autonomous mind of the sinner (whether expressed by the avowed unbeliever or by the unorthodox modern theologian), remained part of Van Til’s distinctive teaching throughout his career.” Van Til, who we regard as the founder (and revivalist of) Presuppositional Apologetics, said that “It is necessary to become clearly aware of the deep antithesis between the two main types of epistemology”. In short, if it is to be said that there is a fundamental underpinning to PA, it would be the doctrine of antithesis. Says Van Til, “Rather than wedding Christianity to the philosophies of Aristotle or Kant, we must openly challenge the apostate philosophic constructions of men by which they seek to suppress the truth about God themselves, and the world…It is only if we demand of men complete submission to the living Christ of the Scriptures in every area of their lives that we have presented to men the claims of the Lord Christ without compromise. It is only then that we are truly Biblical first and speculative afterwards. Only then are we working toward a Reformed apologetic.”
We, then, cannot be considered to be trying to “establish the requirement for there to be a self sufficient knower, a variation of the argument from necessity that is usually articulated as the prime mover argument, and the assertion that that self sufficient knower can only be the Christian god.” That, according to Van Til, would simply be “wedding Christianity to the philosophies of Aristotle or Kant”! Further, Bahnsen argues, it is not this one argument which is the foundation of our apologetic. “In terms of theoretical principle and eventual outworking, the unbeliever opposes the Christian faith with a whole antithetical system of thought, not simply with piecemeal criticisms. His attack is aimed, not at random points of Christian teaching, but at the very foundation of Christian thinking. The particular criticisms which are utilized by an unbeliever rest upon his basic, key assumptions which unify and inform all of his thinking. And it is this presuppositional root which the apologist must aim to eradicate, if his defense of the faith is to be truly effective.
Our goal is to set the presuppositional commitments of believer and unbeliever in antithesis – not to make a pseudo-cosmological argument. What we are concerned with, however, is arguing by “presupposition” – not by “prime mover”. All too often, neophytes to the study of Reformed theology and its commensurate apologetic pack the baggage of non-Reformed theology and argumentation over into that sphere. This is not the “silver bullet” they think it is – it is, unfortunately, a simple error, and quite commonly made. What Paul seems to have done is to take an argument from an appendix, in a book written when Bahnsen was quite young, incidentally, and make it into an all-encompassing, foundational principle of methodology. It’s neither the case that this argument is foundational, nor that it is fundamental to our methodology. Paul would be far better served by paying attention to what Van Til laid out as those foundations, and what Bahnsen himself said were those foundations. To make such a spectacular leap of unwarranted proportions simply denudes Paul’s comments of their strength and accuracy.
Paul tells us “the argument” is “about establishing that there ought to be a god, not that there is a god.” If Paul had done the requisite study on the topic, instead of making unwarranted leaps, he would know that this is simply not the case. The PA argument is an argument “by presupposition” – it is a transcendental argument, from the impossibility of the contrary. Further, Van Til expressly states that it’s not about “establishing that there is a god.” Paul is negligent in his treatment of the position he is critiquing, yet again. Van Til tells us: “Christianity offers the triune God, the absolute personality, containing all of the attributes enumerated, as the God in whom we believe. This conception of God is the foundation of everything we hold dear. Unless we can believe in this sort of God, it does us no good to be told that we may believe in some other sort of God, or in anything else. For us everything depends for its meaning upon this sort of God. Accordingly, we are not interested to have anyone prove to us the existence of any other sort of God but this God. Any other sort of God is no God at all, and to prove that some other sort of God exists is, in effect, to prove that no God exists.” Further, he replies: “The apostle Paul lays great stress upon the fact that man is without excuse if he does not discover God in nature. Following Paul’s example Calvin argues that men ought to see God, not a god, not some supernatural power, but the only God, in nature. They have not done justice by the facts they see displayed before and within them if they say a god exists, or that God probably exists. The Calvinist holds to the essential perspecuity of natural as well as biblical revelation.” So, as we can see, Van Til says the express opposite of Paul’s assertion. Paul seemed to have implied that our recent Journal was a “waste of 30 minutes” – but with his seemingly consistent misunderstanding of our position, it becomes fairly clear that his reading comprehension and attentiveness is to blame on this score. If he had read my first paper, for example, he would know that I said “our opponent must, in order to actually address us, object to something very particular” – not to mention that I cited Van Til, just as I did above. Further, if he had read my second paper, he would know that I said: “Unregenerate men have knowledge of God sufficient to leave them without excuse; They know the God who created them exists, and enough of what He is like to well know that they are responsible to Him in all respects, and must submit to Him accordingly. They know that they are sinners against that God, and that they will have to account for their sin before Him. Yet, they do not want to hold that knowledge in the light, where it confronts them. They constantly attempt to suppress that truth, and to replace it with an unlivable lie.” Properly, I used a definite article, and was specific.
We do not argue for or about “a god.” This is incontrovertible, despite Paul’s attempted controversies. Second, we are not making some sort of “prime mover” argument, nor is the central, foundational, basic argument of the PA anything other than a transcendental argument. It’s not as if we haven’t explained what the transcendental argument is. It is not as if we have not expressed what the heart of our apologetic is. It is, however, the case that objectors consistently and unaccountably ignore these explanations, in favor of their speculative theories, which are easily countered by reference to what we have actually said. Paul keeps asking what a transcendental argument is. Paul, however, is apparently unable to read our website, OR any of the primary literature which we constantly refer to, to find out what that is. If we did share it with him, again, I have no doubt that he would begin to tell us what we are “actually” arguing, as he did in the post I’ve cited. Instead of making himself look foolish in such a visible and puzzling way, I would once again exhort Paul to take the time to actually examine what it is that we are saying, instead of reinterpreting sidebar discussions as if they are central of fundamental, in the strange and un-compelling fashion he has chosen to do so thus far. When he discusses the quotation from Bahnsen he presents, he shows no evidence of familiarity with the context of the citation. If he’s willing to make such a controversial comment on it, to the tune of an assertion that this, in juxtaposition to our stated position, is the real basis of a PA, it would make sense for Paul to argue why this is the case, would it not? Unfortunately, it does not seem to be the case that Paul even owns this book, nor that he has read it. Contrary to Paul’s assertion, this argument regarding the self-sufficient knower is being made in the context of a transcendental argument. It is pointing out the preconditions for the intelligibility of knowledge, contra solipsism and skepticism. Paul, to be taken seriously with these sorts of comments, really would be better served by reading the books he is making arguments from, as he apparently has failed to do. Chris properly used Bahnsen’s citation in context; Paul failed to do so, in a rather spectacular fashion.
-  http://patientandpersistent.blogspot.com/2011/10/fundamentally-flawed-discussing-pa_08.html ↩
-  Ibid. ↩
-  Bahnsen, At War With the Word: The Necessity of Biblical Antithesis, Introduction – http://www.reformed.org/apologetics/index.html?mainframe=/apologetics/At_War_With_the_Word.html ↩
-  Van Til, Cornelius, A Survey of Christian Epistemology [Originally “Metaphysics of Apologetics,”] (New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publ. Co., 1969), v ↩
-  Geehan, E.R., Jerusalem and Athens, (New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publ. Co., 1955), pp 24-28 ↩
-  Bahnsen, At War With the Word: The Necessity of Biblical Antithesis, 1.B.3. – http://www.reformed.org/apologetics/index.html?mainframe=/apologetics/At_War_With_the_Word.html ↩
-  http://patientandpersistent.blogspot.com/2011/10/fundamentally-flawed-discussing-pa_08.html ↩
-  Van Til, Defense of the Faith (4th Ed.), pg 34 ↩
-  Ibid., 120, emphasis his ↩
Our unborn child has been diagnosed with a very serious case of hydrops fetalis – a disorder where there is an abnormal accumulation of fluid below the baby’s skin, inside the abdomen, or other areas. Further, there is an incidence of cystic hygroma as well. What this means is that there is a extremely great chance the baby will not live to term, and if he or she does (we haven’t been able to find out as yet), there is a rather high chance that the baby will have long-term disabilities of some sort. This accumulation is not localized, but encompasses the baby’s entire body. These, as I understand, are symptomatic of an underlying genetic or developmental disorder or disease. We are working on obtaining a more targeted and detailed diagnosis in the very near future.
We have a plan in place with our regular OB (a righteous, loving, and spectacularly winsome man of God we have known for a decade, and whom we thank God for – Dr. Chuck Robinson), have been in consultation with a specialist, we are having regular weekly checkups. We’re looking for an amniocentesis appointment soonest. As of today, the baby’s heartbeat is strong. We’re 19-20 weeks right now, and we’re hoping and praying that the Lord is gracious, and allows our little to live long enough to be viable and treatable; it’s still too early for most treatments, and our prayer is that God will strengthen our little one, and mitigate (or heal – we believe that God is still in the healing business, and pray that God’s will be done) the horrific disease causing these symptoms. Please pray for us, that the Lord would strengthen our baby, Bethany, and myself as we prepare to fight for our baby’s life. The Fall sometimes has heartbreaking results in the lives of even little ones; but we still serve and trust a Sovereign God, who will bring His glory and the good of His people out of the midst of this trial. We trust, love and glorify our God because of this, and crave your intercession before the throne of grace. Whatever the outcome may be, Soli Deo Gloria. May His name be praised, and may He use this for His own glory, and our good.
On Februrary 5th, I will be debating Roman Catholic Dan Marcum (a Skype debate) on the proposition “Sola Scriptura is an essential Christian doctrine, and necessary for instruction in faith and practice“. My goal is to argue this proposition presuppositionally. I’m planning on a couple of podcasts in the near future to give the audience some preparation, and to ensure my opponent knows where I’m standing, going into the debate, so stay tuned.
The debate is as 12pm EDT – you can get directions to the chat channel it’s being held in here. The thesis: “Is the Qur’an the Word of God?”
Recently, Hussein Wario was challenged to call into the Dividing Line to answer for his recent accusations, some of which were in conversation with me. The transcript of that call on June 10th (which I did myself) is included here.
James: We received a call a number of weeks ago from Hussein Wario, who himself is a former Muslim, who from my understanding converted when he was in 8th grade, or something like that and is living in the United States now, and we had a discussion about some things; as I recall it had to do with using a restroom as a place for Muslim prayers.
Well, since then Mr. Wario has had a lot to say in regards to some of my statements, so he’s been kind enough to call in today. Let’s make sure that we’ve got a good connection here and let’s talk with Hussein. Can you hear me?
Hussein: Yes, I can hear you.
James: Good, excellent, thank you for calling in. I know you don’t have a lot of time. (…) I’ll get right to some of the things you’ve said here. After the June 6th Dividing Line, actually there was no June 6th Dividing Line, but on June 6th you made the statement on the web that you can prove that (I) “made at least 20% contradictions…
James: …in (my) recent DL webcast – does that make him less Christian?” Now, even my worst opponents grant me a little better than 80% accuracy could you explain what you were referring to there?
Hussein: Well first of all, like I said before, I’m not going to be here to talk about either of the Caner brothers, that is irrelevant. As a Reformed Christian, I’m very concerned about how you run your ministry, and how far you go with it. I was going to first write a blog entry on that 20% I am talking about, but I
haven’t come to that.
(For the reader’s context, this is what he tweeted just prior to the comment to DSpratlin about 20% contradictions, and the mention of a blog entry to @hereiblog)
@erguncaner saga almost over. Muslims critics have taken to their heels. Can his Christian critics handle their misstatements? Stay tuned… Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:48:22 PM via web
@hereiblog @erguncaner saga almost over. Time to analyze his critics and see if they can explain their “misstatements.” Can you handle it? Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:45:00 PM via web in reply to hereiblog
@JeremiahBailey @erguncaner saga almost over. Time to analyze critics and see if they can explain their misstatements. Can they handle it? Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:44:22 PM via web in reply to JeremiahBailey
@Shinar_Squirrel @erguncaner saga almost over. Time to analyze critics and see if they can explain their misstatements. Can they handle it? Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:43:53 PM via web in reply to Shinar_Squirrel
@pregador27 @erguncaner saga almost over. Time to analyze his critics and see if they can explain their misstatements. Can they handle it? Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:42:22 PM via web in reply to pregador27
Now, note this – he tends to “hype” his posts repeatedly. What is this called, when the statements are in fact untrue? Libel.
Back to the transcript.
Hussein: The reason I am calling is just because there are a few concerns that I have. It’s only (probably that?) 1, 2, 3, 4 of them, and I’ve only been listening to the Dividing Line for probably.. for less than 2 months. And I’ve already found like 4 things in here that raise questions about, you know, your integrity, or it could be just about how you do things, especially with people that you don’t agree with, so maybe we could just go to that, because I just want…
Note: Hussein has said previously: “Christians bickering in public needs to stop.” He has also said: “Dr. White is the only apologist I know who openly criticizes people he disagrees with by name.” Now you can add yourself to that list, Mr. Wario. Further, remember this? “I believe in restoration of a fallen Christian and not gossip them in public.” yet, you took the majority of this show – his show – to slanderously revile this man personally. As I said in a previous post – “I find it amazing that he attacks Dr. White himself throughout this piece, the comments, and via twitter – while trying to say that we can never publicly respond to public comments. Further, he is making public rebukes to me – while saying that we shouldn’t publicly rebuke people”
James: So you’re not going to answer any of the accusations you’ve made, then?
Hussein: Hey! This is 4 out of how many dividing lines you have done, or how many interviews you have given. This will be enough to… equal to 20% of what you have done. And it’s like, less than two months.
Let’s examine this one. Let’s remember that there are two Dividing Lines a week. 4 weeks in a month. 2 months. 2x4x2. There’s 16. That’s about 25%, give or take – if he made only one statement per show, of course. However, add an interview. Only one. It’s now 23.5%. Add another interview. 22.22%. Further, this doesn’t count videos, blog entries, or any of the other things that Dr. White engages in. Now, add in, say, 2 videos in the same time. Then you’re at 20%. At my count, he has done 15 videos in the last 2 months. So, we’re at what percentage now? Counting 2 interviews, 16 Dividing Lines, 15 videos – and 4 errors – we’re at 12%. How many blog entries did he author in that time? Let’s say, a dozen, even though I highly doubt it’s that few. Now we’re down to 8.8% – and that is just counting by a simple formula. Even granting that Dr. White made 4 factual errors – how does this even approach 20% of what he has said? How is it even remotely close? There’s a deeper problem with this, however. How many statements are made on each Dividing Line? A few dozen? A hundred? A couple hundred? That’s the real issue here. Let’s say that he makes 2 dozen statements on a Dividing Line. That’s 384 statements in 2 months, by that conservative estimate. Let’s use the same average for a blog entry, and a video. So, 45 (for the sake of argument) pieces of media produced. 2 dozen statements apiece. That gives us a .0037% error rate.
However, when we’re talking about Ergun Caner, he *makes up almost his entire history*. Do you see the problem? How many statements is that to get wrong in one lecture/sermon/speech, in every speech he gives which includes his history? An even bigger problem is, as you will see, that he fails to substantiate a *single error* – while dodging all of his *own* claims! I’m not going to give a particular percentage, because it really doesn’t matter. The arbitrary usage of statistics is demonstrated to be useless, in any case. The problem is not statistical, it is ethical. Ethical by the terms of Scripture, not opinion. The systemic falsehoods are the issue. Hussein is comparing systemic, widespread falsehoods to what are apparently isolated statements – and I have a suspicion that he gave his examples of those in this particular call. If this is so, he is left with nothing whatsoever to demonstrate this. It is apples and oranges – and Dr. White was very right to insist that he answer for his accusations by directly making them and defending them.
James: Okay, so the entire list of things that I had here, you don’t want to talk about them, you want to talk about your points, is that the case?
Here is what Dr. White is referring to: In response to the 20% claim, Dr. White sent this: @HusseinWario Why don’t you call the DL and attempt to back up your accusations? Your attempt to parallel me to EC’s overt lies offensive.
His reply was as follows: @DrOakley1689 If you let me talk, I will call the Diving Line. Would you please go back to doing what you do best? In the end, you lose.
Back to Dr. White: @HusseinWario Of course I will let you talk, if you will provide a logical, rational defense of your new accusations. (Note this – it’s important)
Again: @HusseinWario “In the end, you lose.” If being consistent at personal cost means losing, then may we all start losing together.
This was on the morning of the 7th. On the evening of the 9th, he posted these:
@RazorsKiss I have never sensed Reformed Christians this passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:22:46 PM via web in reply to RazorsKiss
@LaneChaplin I have never sensed Reformed Christians this passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:22:31 PM via web in reply to LaneChaplin
@internetbible I have never sensed Reformed Christians this passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:21:58 PM via web in reply to internetbible
@Tomjunlee I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:21:00 PM via web in reply to Tomjunlee
@Jerry_Kirby I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:20:41 PM via web in reply to Jerry_Kirby
@reformata I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:20:22 PM via web in reply to reformata
@stepcraig I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:19:52 PM via web in reply to stepcraig
@CapitalistObsvr I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:19:36 PM via web in reply to CapitalistObsvr
@ThApologeticHub I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:19:10 PM via web in reply to ThApologeticHub
@sjcamp I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:18:25 PM via web in reply to sjcamp
@thecrosschurch I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:18:15 PM via web in reply to thecrosschurch
@faithfulnews I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:17:55 PM via web in reply to faithfulnews
@jfontes0217 I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority.
As for me, I replied with the following: @HusseinWario You’ve never seen me deal with the proper place of all of God’s attributes in apologetics before then 😉 Caner’s a side issue
I received this reply: @RazorsKiss You need to start putting your energy into reaching Muslims. They are never satisfied. Enough has been said about @erguncaner
Now, honestly; since when does Hussein dictate what ministry I engage in? What does his opinion of what I should be doing have to do with what I should be doing? Muslims are not the only group in the world to which we minister, nor are they the only ones that we should minister to. Just because they are the ones he ministers to does not mean that everyone should be like him, or have the same ministry. I told him as much. @HusseinWario I address Muslims occasionally. I address a wide variety of groups. Therein lies balance. I think it would do you good too.
Later, when he tweeted Dr. White again, with more accusations, he was once again challenged to call the Dividing Line (he didn’t call in on the 8th). @HusseinWario I challenge you to call the DL today. Your fallacious reasoning evaporates when you are forced to answer direct questions.
Hussein: No, no no, when I made that statement, I was going to do a blog entry on you. I talked to other Christians, and they told me there is no place for it. Other Reformed Christians have told me. This is not about… I’m not going after you, okay? I just don’t like it the way you just go about talking about other
Christians. You have been (unintelligible) some of them…
Hussein: You wrote something about me.
Hussein: You did write about me.
James: You’ve been raising a lot of questions, and I have had to point out that some of your arguing is… not rational.
Hussein: But well, you put me in the same line as Ahmed Deedat, you know?
James: No I didn’t.
Hussein: C’mon, you did say that I remind you of Ahmed Deedat. That’s really bad
James: No, I never said that. Where did I say I remind you of Ahmed Deedat.
Hussein: Oh my. Your blog entry didn’t do that?
Note: He did not even try to argue his point. Not even an argument advanced for why this was so. he just stated it. When challenged, he simply repeated it. I can understand why someone might say it looked that way, but he didn’t even make an argument to demonstrate that such was the case. What are we supposed to think, since he won’t even argue his point?
On the other hand, Dr. White has documented, just about every time that we go through a Muslim speaker’s presentation, that the shallow argumentation they provide is in many respects a cultural thing. You are encouraged to examine the archives of that program where he more fully explains that phenomenon.
James: No, it didn’t. In fact sir, this morning you said that I shouldn’t have made parody videos about Ergun Caner. I’ve never made a parody video, so sometimes I’m not certain if you’re completely aware of what you’re looking at.
Dr. White, as did I, believed that he was referring to the viral “Dr. Ergun Caner” videos that have been making their rounds lately. There have been comments in multiple places throughout the blogs that confusedly think that Dr. White is making those. This is apparently not what Hussein is referring to, however.
Hussein: Oh, you know what? Some of the Arabic stuff you have done now muslims are after it.
James: Uh, yeah. (laughs) If you can be after a Christian, who’s not a former Muslim, missing one phrase in quoting from memory…
James: …Surah Al-Fatihah, and think that that’s relevant to everything (Hussein interjects something I can’t make out) else we’ve said… that’s a good example of what I’m talking about here. But wait a minute, where have I ever made a parody video of Ergun Caner, can you tell me that.
Hussein: Okay, you know what? You are… all I can just say is this. The way you are making fun of the Arabic, they way you have this Arabic tutor, that is like totally out of line. Like how much have you pointed out about these brothers. It’s almost like you’re not giving grace.
I believe he is saying that the video with the tutor is a parody video. This gives us a clue, I think: Muslims are laughing at Christians on Facebook because of @DROAKLEY1689 videos. Visit @erguncaner fan page on #fb Comedy central dissing!
It’s a parody because people laugh at it? William Shatner is therefore a first rate satirist – of himself 😉
James: Okay, okay, Hussein… we responded to his claims, we played them…
Hussein: But who are you to… But who are you.
Once again, he assumes this is personal. “Who are you to…” Does everything have to be an appeal to authority? Even so, he is a minister of the Gospel, responding to one who puts the Gospel to open shame. He is an apologist to Muslims as well as to other groups, responding to one whose falsehoods *were already mocked* by unbelievers. We are not only to exhort and teach, but to reprove and rebuke. You will see further where Hussein affirms this is personal. In the past he has said “This issue would not have gained any traction had Dr. James White and Dr. Ergun Caner been in good terms.”
James: …and many people commented on the fact that we were very fair and in fact inserted all sorts of other discussions about other things. In fact, I bent over backwards to say maybe you could possibly look at it this way – it still isn’t Arabic, but I bent over backwards. I just… I cannot even begin to comprehend why it is we have all this data that demonstrates that Ergun Caner has lied about his past and lied about what he is, and if anyone points that out, somehow they’re wrong, rather than the person who has stood behind a pulpit and connected this stuff with the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand your way of thinking Hussein. I really don’t.
Hussein: I don’t understand you either. Here you are, a Christian, and a caller calls you. On April 22nd. He called you up, and you discussed this on the Dividing Line.
Hussein: and you praised Kennedy, okay. John Kennedy.
James: Praised John Kennedy?
Hussein: You did praise him, you said the guy is the expert on…
James: Oh, you mean he’d done his.. he’d demonstrated that he’d actually read some stuff, yeah, I did say that he’d clearly read some stuff.
Hussein: You said he has written over a thousand articles.
James: That’s not praising, that’s just giving factual background! (laughs)
Hussein: Okay, okay, that’s fine, that’s fine! But, once the article came out, and didn’t meet your satisfaction. As a minister of the Gospel, you kinda went ahead and started (couldn’t make it out) some kind of (couldn’t make it out) you know what I mean?
James: You mean when I pointed out that it did not exactly deal with all the issues, somehow there’s a contradiction there?
Hussein: Well! I can say that there can be a problem, because like, here you are, you speculated, saying that Liberty University must be like the main advertiser of Christianity Today.
James: That’s true.
Hussein: Maybe they didn’t get to the bottom of the matter.
James: That’s a possibility.
Hussein: Yeah, but I cannot accept that from a Christian Minister to say that is a possibility!
James: Why? Why would a minister be so naive not to recognize that Christianity Today is a profit-driven organization?
Hussein: Ay, yi yi yi yi. You are a minister of the Gospel.
James: Yeah, I am. That doesn’t mean I’m naive.
Hussein: But why would you even make that kind of a statement?
James: Because it’s a factual statement. Follow the money, Hussein. Follow the money. It’s just a factual statement.
Hussein: Oh my word.
James: Ministers do not become naive, sir.
Hussein: No, no, but here you are talking publicly about something you don’t even know, such as how much Liberty university advertises on Christianity Today, and you are talking as if…
What I find amazing here is the willingness to consider Dr. White to be “out to make a name for himself” – but he is defending a corporate entity from the possibility of defending their bottom line. What?
James: So I raise the possibility that the reason that it didn’t go into the depth the way it did was because… something a lot of other people had noticed, and you somehow think that’s wrong. Okay, fine. I will leave that to the audience to determine whether that is simply being naive, or if it’s something wrong, as you said. But your reasoning, in your argumentation. For example, you have argued that you have debunked TurretinFan’s Hadith listing. I’d like to ask you, since you’re a former Muslim, could you tell me, please, could you explain to me, Hadith 2982?
Hussein: You know what, if it is mentioned in the body of the writing, whatever it is about, Hadith 28, or whatever it is you said
James: 2982, can you tell me what it says.
Hussein: I cannot tell you offhand, I have to look for it, okay?
James: How would you find it?
Hussein: Hold on just a second. I just have to look through my Hadith books. Your Hadith 957, it didn’t take me that long to find it.
James: Hussein, Hussein – you and I both know that there’s no way you can find Hadith 2982. Because there’s a piece of information missing. You and I both know that.
Note: Search “Hadith 2982“. You get al Bukhari here. You also get this. (Muslim, I believe) You also get this from AOMin. (Jami At-Tirmidhi) You also have two here, both 2982, Muslim and Ahmad. Yusuf Ali can be found here.
Now, which one am I supposed to be referencing? This is what Dr. White is talking about.
Hussein: Yeah, but Dr. White you’re not justified here, for you can just say that’s just one way to quote the Hadith. In fact, even a Muslim did not make that an issue. (I couldn’t make this out)
James: Hussein, Hussein – you could not find Hadith 2982, could you?
James: Could you?
Hussein: No, I have to look in the books!
James: You still couldn’t find it because it’s not giving you enough information to know what it is I’m referring to. You know that.
Hussein: James White cannot find it if he doesn’t have the Hadith books, okay?
James: I have the Hadith books sir, but you know, and I know, that there are different collections…
Hussein: So what are you saying here, I’m lying?
James: …of Hadith books; and therefore, you need to know what the collection is, don’t you?
Hussein: Hey, if it’s mentioned in the body I can find… you just, the whole time you were talking about it
James: No sir, you could not!
(talked over each other for a second)
James: Sir, there is more than one Hadith 2982…
James: …because there are different collections
Hussein: Anyway, anyway, anyway
James: See what you’re doing here, see what you’re doing here. See, you have not debunked the problem there.
Hussein: Hey, I have debunked the problem!
James: Okay, then answer the question – quote to me, quote to me Hadith 2982. If you can’t do it, then you are not answering my question honestly.
Hussein: I am a former Muslim, I’m supposed to be memorizing Bible verses, okay? You can’t be asking me on air…
James: I’m not asking you to quote it, I’m simply pointing out to you, Hussein…
Just two notes here. When Dr. White asks him to quote it the first time, he is expecting him to look it up and quote it. That is the sense of “quote” meant there. In case anyone is wondering, I asked him. In the second case, he’s saying it in the sense of “quote from memory” – it was unclear, it’s live, and mistakes happen. Obviously he didn’t expect Hussein to “quote from memory”, which was what he intended in the “not asking you to quote it”. He was making the point above – *which* Hadith 2982?
Secondly, note the “anyway” whenever he doesn’t want to answer the question. I was not the only one to notice this. The entire chat channel was commenting on it only a few seconds after the third time he said it.
James: …You could not find a reference…
Hussein: Anyway, Dr. White, you know what…
James: See, there ya go folks, there ya go, there is the illustration…
Hussein: Yeah, it is! It’s is always James White. He’s never wrong!
Where does this come from? Did he respond to the argument? No. What has he been doing for a solid few minutes? “Anyway”. But James is never wrong?
James: …one side has the facts…
Hussein: You are never wrong.
James: …in the argument, and the other side is just not going to answer the question
Hussein: Yeah, but you are never wrong! The Muslims are telling you, you have messed up a chapter from the Qur’an.
James: No sir, no sir I did not!
Hussein: No, but you are, hey! Your.. tutor..
Hussein: Hold on…
James: …in quoting from memory as a Christian…
Hussein: …will you let me finish please?…
James: as an illustration of how this flows through the Syrian culture, missed one phrase…
Hussein: No, no!
James: and this is relevant?
Hussein: I’m not making that an issue! What I’m making an issue is, and the Muslims have a problem with you is, the way that chapter appears, you should have corrected your tutor, and you did not correct him, and you’re not willing to take into…
James: You know what, I will gladly let the listening audience compare…
Hussein: (loud interjection, can’t make it out)
James: what you just brought up with the fact that I have demonstrated that you.. that quoting Hadith 2982, or 957, is the same as saying Bible 3:16, it’s gibberish, you know it, and I know it..
Personally, I would compare it to saying “commentary 5,18”. Which commentary? Is that a chapter? Page? It doesn’t matter, because you have no idea which commentary to use!
Hussein: You know what, James White… hey
James: and the people listening know that, Hussein
Hussein: Dr. White, I know this is all about you. That’s why you have a problem.
This is not the first time he’s made this sort of statement, nor is it the first time he’s been corrected. For instance: “I am convinced that he cares less about the Caner Brothers’ repentance but score some popularity from this saga.” Is that not criticizing a Christian in public? As well as: “All Christian leaders I have talked with who also work directly with Muslims agree with me that Dr. White has some major issues.” and “Dr. White is all about himself.” and “That was when I realized that Dr. White has an underlying problem, perhaps beyond these accusations of Dr. Caner being a liar.” and “I am utterly ashamed of Dr. White. In my opinion, he is a disgrace to the Reformed faith—sola scriptura—because of his meddling in this matter and his disregard of the scripture. He is tacitly helping Muslims with their war against Muslim converts to Christianity.” and “Oh my! I am glad to know I am not the only one. He is nuts.” Now, by this point, I hope you see the pattern of ad hominem argumentation. His responses are “to the man”, not to the argument.
Just a quick additional note to possibly help Hussein recognize what the problem here is.
Argument ad hominem is “to the person”. It is directed at who a person is, or to a person’s character, not to the statements or arguments of the person. For instance: Here is Dr. White addressing Ahmed Deedat: “Ahmed Deedat is a great example of this. So often his arguments were so shallow, so poor, so disjointed, and yet you will find men shouting Allahu akhbar! in response.” Is that ad hominem, or ad argumentum? Ad argumentum, of course. Compare that to “He is nuts.”
When I bring up fallacious argumentation, I am doing so in order to point out inconsistency. When one argues from one standard and applies it to someone else, yet do not apply those same standards to yourself, you are demonstrating that this is not what you yourself ascribe to functionally. It is inconsistency, and the sign of a failed argument. If Hussein wishes his arguments to be considered irrational, he should argue rationally.
James: It’s all about me.
Hussein: Dr. White is never wrong. Yeah! Just like you are after these brothers, and it is all about making a name for yourself.
James: Oh, oh yeah, that’s, that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I somehow forced Ergun Caner to falsely claim to have debated Shabir Ally?
Hussein: oh my word, look at this, I mean you say they brag about this, that’s why no one is taking you seriously. You just say to them, they are the ones that are bragging about this, but you are the one who actually does it…
James: Yeah, that’s true.
Hussein: I mean, what does that say?
James: What does that say? It says that the next time I debate Shabir Ally, I’ll be able to look him in the eye and say I have sought to be consistent as a Christian in answering Islam, and in exposing those who are dishonest in what they say about Islam, and how they go about the ministry. That’s something that’s absolutely necessary to do.
Hussein: Yeah, but is debate really the only way to reach out to these people?
James: Where… again, how does that flow from what I just said?
I’d like the reader to note that Dr. White has engaged in evangelism to Mormons for over 25 years. He has had very few debates with LDS representatives. His passion for evangelism to all kinds of men is very well-attested, and numerous examples of that passion for the Gospel can be found in his videos, articles, and yes, even his debates.
Hussein: No, no!
James: Where did I just say that the only way to reach out to these people is by a debate? Where did I say that?
Hussein: You are talking about integrity in the way to debating muslims, but for me I just don’t get it I see a lot of you into all this, and sometimes you even…
James: Well sir, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong about that.
Hussein: (Loud interjection, can’t make it out)
James: You don’t know my heart… you don’t know my heart…
Hussein: I don’t know your heart, but you don’t…
James: But you’re simply…
Hussein: …know Caner’s heart either!
James: …wrong, that’s not the case. I would love to have avoided this entire mess, but there’s something called integrity, sir, there’s something called standing up for what’s right…
Hussein: Which only James White has.
James: and when someone stands before an audience and makes up his entire…
Hussein: Which only James White has. That’s what bothers me.
James: No, thankfully there are others who likewise have recognized that there is a real problem here.
This is amazing. Dr. White has linked to very many people throughout the course of this – and some have also worked along similar lines and have not been linked to. TurretinFan, Gene Clyatt, Jason Smathers, Walt Chantry, and many, many others have also weighed in on this affair. To simply assert that Dr. White thinks he is the only one to possess integrity is absurd. Now, if you were to ask “which well-known apologists have shown integrity in this affair”, the list would be significantly smaller.
Hussein: But who are others out there, Muslim scholars, who are Christians, I mean Islamic scholars, who are speaking out against it, against James White, and his followers
Hussein faults Christians: “Dr. White is tacitly helping Muslims with their war against Muslim converts to Christianity.” Also, he has said: “Muslims look for opportunities to discredit ex-Muslims and even some Christians. He has given them a foothold and that should not widen the rift between Christians.”
Now, he is using Muslim argumentation? How is that consistent with his own position? How is this not “widening the rift between Christians”, by his own standard? How is he not “tacitly helping Muslims” here? How is he not taking advantage of “opportunities to discredit … *even some Christians*?”
This is inconsistent. Let me demonstrate. After this show, he sends this message to the originator of the accusations concerning Dr. White’s tutor. @YahyaSnow Who argues with @droakley1689, self-home-schooled student of Islam? You know very well, Yahya. What does he do, after all that talk about accepting things from Muslims? Note this: @HusseinWario…thanks for pointing my blog post out to white… It is in response to this: @DrOakley1689 You are in big trouble with Muslims over your debunking of @erguncaner Arabic http://tinyurl.com/22um3gp
Let me remind him of his own statement, and see if he is consistent with it. “Muslims are on a mission, please let us not aid and abet to their tactics that attempt to discredit the Caner Brothers, other Christians of Muslim background, Dr. James White, et al. We should give our brothers the benefit of the doubt before going global with what Muslims bring to our attention.”
James: Islamic scholars who are what? I don’t have followers, first of all, sir, so I really don’t appreciate that kind of language.
Hussein: Okay, fine, fine, I take it back.
I prefer friend, myself. If you’re going to be pejorative, however, at least use “loyal minion!”
James: But the fact of the matter is, most people don’t even know about what’s going on with Ergun Caner. The news is gonna get out, if the right things are not done, and repentance and confession does not take place, but, I think even that’s too late now as far as the information getting out. The fact of the matter is, for you to accuse me of wanting to use this to get my name out there, is so amazingly absurd, and I can just simply tell you, it’s ridiculous.
Hussein: It looks like that to you, but it looks that way to me, okay?
That’s a very postmodern comment. Not only that, but he just insinuated that Dr. White is lying about his intentions. Note earlier that he was offended by his (mistaken) impression that Dr. White was calling him a liar – but now he has no compunctions about doing the same.
James: Well, I think for some reason you seem to be incredibly biased about this issue. Why is it? Do you have any evidence that Ergun Caner lived in Turkey, and was trained as a jihadist?
Hussein: Hey, you have no idea what happens in a madrassa, okay?
James: Do you…
Hussein: Hey, I cannot…
James: …have any evidence…
Hussein: I cannot say that he lived in Turkey, okay?
James: You can’t say that.
Hussein: Court papers say that he went to madrassa.
James: Okay, let me ask you a simple question. How do you explain, Hussein, that the same time that Ergun Caner is standing in front of audiences and television cameras, and telling them he lived in Turkey until 1978 or 1979, he’s telling AP reporters, and Turkish reporters, that he moved to the United States in 1969? How do you explain that?
Hussein: Hey, that Turkish reporter guy? I’m having it translated for me by a Turkish lawyer, okay? I don’t think that was a direct interview.
James: How about AP then?
Hussein: What I can say is this, Ergun Caner can answer his questions
James: So you’re not going to answer the question.
Hussein: Why am I going to answer for him? The problem I have is, you dismiss him, that he’s a fake, ex-devout muslim. And you don’t have any evidence to prove that.
Note the diversion here. He has an answer for the first – or a potential answer, at least, but has no answer for the second. He was willing to answer the first, but now not willing to answer his questions? Inconsistency.
James: I have tons of…
Hussein: You don’t have any!
James: …evidence, you just ignore it.
Hussein: You do not know this guy, you did not know this guy, okay?
James: So if the only evidence you can have is that I had to know him back then.
Hussein: no, no, no, Dr. White
James: Then you can’t know anything about history.
For those who weren’t there, this was a principal argument in the Robert Price debate. Robert Price argued that we simply cannot know anything for certain from the Biblical accounts – or from anything in history. In fact, we couldn’t know anything unless we had multiple video attestations of an event!
If we have systematic doubt about historical events, even though we have documentation of them provided – we cannot know anything about history. Here Hussein is making a similar case to Robert Price. Despite the fact that we have documentation of where he was, when, we cannot know. This is what we speak of when we address “balance” in apologetics. If you are zeroed in on a certain topic, to the exclusion of all others, you tend to develop tunnel vision, and lose your balance as an overall apologist. Dr. White very, very often cautions his listeners not to only address one group of people. His consistency as an apologist, by the grace of God, lies in the fact that he not only engages with Muslims, but with Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Atheists, and a large variety of other groups. I attempt to vary my personal engagements as well.
Hussein: This is where we have a problem. He went to madrassa. I gave an example of a 3-year-old, I have a link, on my blog, who was asked questions on tv, about some aspects of Islam, okay? Prophet Muhammad say, when a kid is 7 year old they have to be instructed, when they are ten (I can’t follow it, I know some is Arabic) and all that, they have to be, you know, (can’t make it out). He talk about that, Prophet Muhammad. The court documents clearly say they went to madrassa, I don’t know how long they went, do I go about and say they were never devout, I don’t even know, because you don’t know what transpires in madrassa. Other than what your muslim friends tell you. They have an ulterior motive, they tell you what you want to hear, or make the agenda – so because of that, maybe you need to make some apologies to these brothers for some of the things you have said which are not true.
What does his having gone to madrassa for some unknown period of time have to do with whether or not he lived in Turkey, or was trained as a Jihadist? In fact, “to do that which was done on 9/11”, to use his own words? Nothing whatsoever. Just because one fact is verifiable, we ignore all of the other falsehoods? What sense does that make? Is that a sound argument? No, it is not. It’s called a “red herring.” An irrelevant fact thrown into the conversation to distract from the real issue under discussion. Further, is he seriously trying to tell us that it is typical for American Muslims in the 1970s to have been trained in terrorism? Even more pertinently, He’s only 4 years older than I am. This means that by his standard *he cannot know either*, as he was not in the US at that time. His own argument fails by his own standards!
James: Okay, well, Hussein, thank you very much. I think that, even though we didn’t get into all of the questions and things I wanted to ask you, I think we’ve made the point pretty clearly.
Hussein: Thank you so much.
James: By the way, one other thing. I’m sorry. You did take a few shots at my church in your tweets.
(Again, some context. Hussein asked me, of all people, about Dr. White’s church. Starting here, where he makes generalizations about Reformed churches: @LaneChaplin I am Reformed and know very well how our churches stink at evangelism. Time to put our passion and enthusiasm to godly use 🙂
I respond here: @HusseinWario Then you need to 1) Find a better church 2) Reevaluate where you get your evangelism definition. You can’t fault DrWhite there He replies here: @RazorsKiss What better church? Reformed churches are dying. How many people have become members of PRBC who had no church background? Also: @RazorsKiss Talk is cheap. Time for Dr. White to focus on his pastoral duties. Enough said about @erguncaner
Dying? Really? I’m left at this point wondering what churches he interacts with. Further, how am I supposed to know PRBC membership histories? I don’t even go there! Even if I did, what does that matter? So I replied: @HusseinWario That’s a very broad brush. I’m a reformed baptist – we’re always small. Talk is also cheap when you want unity w/o holiness.
He then asks a few more questions: @RazorsKiss Do you have a consistory at your Reformed Baptist church? Thursday, June 10, 2010 12:41:49 PM via web in reply to RazorsKiss My reply: @HusseinWario Nope. @HusseinWario We have a body of elders, however. Hussein replies: @RazorsKiss Do they call elders, pastors? My reply: @HusseinWario The teaching elder is most often called “pastor,” but they are all pastors. He then says: @RazorsKiss I was in Sedona last Sept-Oct. Almost came to Phoenix. Will look your church up next time. My reply: @HusseinWario I don’t go to PRBC, but both my church and PRBC have multiple elders. PRBC currently has two, we have 3.
For some reason, he also believes that all Reformed churches have consistories, engage in public announcements of repentance in a church service, and apparently that they all stink at evangelism. Perhaps his church does this, but not all do. If he ascribes to a R. Scott Clark viewpoint concerning what is or is not Reformed, in which case his comments would be accurate, he’s left explaining why he has labeled other churches as “Reformed” in the past.
Back to the transcript.
(James:)…Can you explain on what basis, given that you say that I can’t say anything about the Caner situation since I wasn’t there. Have you ever been to my church?
Hussein: No, I’ve never been to your church.
James: Oh, okay. Alright.
Hussein: I asked Josh about your church – he told me a little bit about it….
Josh 2982 😉
Hussein: …One of the guys on twitter, he doesn’t even… I don’t know his last name, but he goes by RazorsKiss – it seems like all of the Reformed people out there, they go by pseudonyms, and some of them don’t even reveal who they are…
Now, interestingly, I gave him a link to my bio quite a while ago – which gives more info than most people are comfortable with ME sharing. So that hardly applies to me. I’m surprised that he doesn’t know my last name, as well, since I provided him a link to that information. He just didn’t take me up on reading the link I offered. I just use an online “handle”. If he’s talking about TurretinFan (which would hardly be “most” Reformed people), I would direct him to this post: Pseudonymity and the Calvinists.
Hussein: …Anyway, the problem I have with you, in my church, our pastor, he has a consistory, the consistory of the church, they kinda like keep an eye on what the pastor does and stuff, and the pastor has a lot of work to do? And it seems like you’re a minister, a pastor, an elder?
James: I’m one of the elders, that’s right.
Hussein: You have a lot of time on your hands to blog about other people. Had you been a member of my church, which is a Reformed church, they probably would have told you to stop doing that.
While the reader may note, of course, that Hussein apparently has plenty of time to blog and tweet about other people himself. This irony escapes him, it seems.
James: So, Hussein, you know I’m doing two debates next week with Muslims? You think I’m going to be prepared for those?
Hussein: Ahhh, I dunno, you’re probably going to be debating about the same issues you debate about all the time.
Well, there you have it. Since debates are about the same issues he debates all the time, he probably doesn’t need much preparation time. As I’m sure my readers know, debates take a significant amount of preparation. Chiefly, because every opponent’s argumentation is different; secondly, because every opponent has said different things which must be responded to; thirdly, because every topic is slightly different, even if it is the same “debate topic”. I’ve listened to or watched a large portion of Dr. White’s debates by this point – and at least a hundred other debates that others have engaged in. I can assure Hussein – his assertion is not even remotely the case.
James: So, when I debated Robert Price, which required hundreds of hours of preparation, did I show up unprepared?
Hussein: I don’t know, I’ll find out.
I was at that debate. Robert Price is a man with a truly encyclopedic knowledge. There were literally dozens of directions he could have gone. To prepare myself to listen to this debate properly, I listened to 2 of Price’s prior debates, and several of his lectures. When Hussein makes these sorts of claims, he demonstrates that he isn’t very cognizant of what it is Dr. White does, or who the people are that he has debated. His assertions that Dr. White is “wasting time” in addressing a professed Christian debater who *does not debate* are resting upon a significantly shaky foundation, as you can see. He doesn’t know the subject he is addressing well enough to be making these sorts of claims. Dr. White has explained why he is addressing this subject, in great detail, on his blog.
James: You don’t know.
Hussein: But hey, you’re a smart guy. Maybe you should put your energy where you need to put it, okay?
Such an amazing assertion. Hussein is telling Dr. White, a 25 year ministry veteran, where he should or should not spend his time – and it isn’t here. Not only that, but saying so on his show, to his audience. The hubris in this statement is incalculable. Not only that, but he was just saying recently that Ergun Caner wasn’t accountable to James White (not that Dr. White has ever insisted he was) – but now James White is accountable to Hussein Wario? Interesting.
There were pleasantries exchanged, the phone call ended, and then Dr. White addressed a few of the issues directly after, and with the next caller. I transcribed this in order to do one thing. Demonstrate to Mr. Wario that contrary to his assertion that “My arguments can be weak (formulation) but the facts are straight.” – he has not only presented weak (and in fact fallacious) argumentation, but his “straight facts” are red herrings. There is not merely a minor problem, but a major problem! This sort of argumentation is not something to be overlooked, as long as “your facts are straight”.
Facts are not neutral, and they are not brute objects with no context, and no interpretation needed. All things must be seen in the light of Scripture, it’s call to holiness, and it’s call to wisdom that is from above. When we argue with either unbelievers, or believers, our argumentation and statements need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind – not in accordance with the world. We are not to assume ill of our brethren for no cause – and when we are confronted with sin, we must repent. When we confront our brothers, it must be in righteous judgment, not an unrighteous judgment.
I know this can be an emotional issue. I’m completely aware of this. However, what shall rule us? Shall our emotional state, or shall our renewed mind reign us in, through self-control over our members? The tongue is a raging fire, ladies and gentlemen. That small organ can drive us to shipwreck i nthe blink of an eye.
Do you want to know how we should think? Scripture tells us. “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Rom 12:3) Note a few things there. From faith comes understanding and sound judgment. This means that there is not only a command to judge soundly, but that it is possible to judge unsoundly. This also means that only by faith can we understand; as Augustine says, “I believe, in order that I may understand.” This is a key component in thinking God’s thoughts after Him, instead of following our vain imaginations. We are also not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. The key to our thinking is not self, but Christ. As Col 2 tells us, we are to attain “to all the wealth [fn] that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” Wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Christ. All wisdom and knowledge. We cannot think autonomously, from the foundation of self, and call our thinking Christian. If you are speaking, you must speak the truth in love. If you are defending the faith, it must be with both gentleness, and reverence. If you are seeking the truth, seek it through God’s word. Our brother James, and many of his friends are seeking to remove a reproach made upon the Gospel through dishonesty. Instead of joining with him, attending to the evidence which he and many others have amassed, in loving rebuke and reproof, with a public call to repentance, as Scripture demands, men are attacking the ones who have brought it to light. Listen to John 3. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Luke 11:35 reminds us: “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.” Romans 13:12 challenges us: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Eph 4 tells us: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” Do not be deceived! Instead, “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” Notice that? The truth is holy. We are to speak truth, as we are all members of one another. The old self is corrupted by the lusts of deceit. Be renewed! Lay aside falsehood! Deceit is what brings disunity, brethren.
We are to put on the full armor of God, which protects us from the evil one. Stand firm! Gird your loins with TRUTH. You must do this before any of the armor will fit. I’m sure you can see the obvious application. Until we do so, none or armor will work, fit, or sit properly. We may as well be unarmored! The breastplate is of righteousness – we must be in the truth before we are acting righteously. Our feet are protected by the gospel of peace – and peace is never brought on the wings of a lie. The shield of faith will not cover us if we believe in a lie, not the truth! Faith has an object, and that object is THE Truth! Please, think about what you say, how you say it, and whether you are saying it in accord with Scripture. Be mindful of your words, knowing that you will be accountable for every idle word. Be mindful of your calling, of the high and precious Truth which we long to share – and always be mindful of opportunities to defend and confirm the faith. With truth and love, in gentleness and reverence.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I humbly submit to my brothers who defend Dr. Caner’s history despite the lies he has been shown to have told – are you really speaking in truth? Are you really giving an answer in reverent fear of the Holy Lord? Remember whom you serve. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.