James White – Mr. Apologetics Misfires – Part 1

This past week I received two separate emails written by Dr. James White to two separate people inquiring about his stand on the Federal Vision controversy that continues to rage in Presbyterian and Reformed churches.  Evidently the point of contention in both letters is Dr. White’s reluctance to identify any of the Federal Visionists as false teachers advancing a false gospel.  White argued that

When a man says he  believes we are justified by faith alone apart from works, confesses the sole mediatorship of Jesus Christ, the reality of the salvation of the elect in perfection, etc., I may find his other assertions inconsistent, etc., but I am not going to ship the man off to hell.  I’ll leave that to God, thank you. It is truly beyond my imagination how anyone can be so narrow minded, so convinced of their own perfection of insight and understanding, that they could see how I have spoken against Wright, FVism, etc., debated Wilson and clearly made my point, and yet, because I will not adopt a Robbins-esque slash/burn mentality, am somehow “supporting” FVism.

I confess, other than watching a couple of Youtube videos of Dr. White in action, both in a debate setting and on his radio show, I am otherwise unfamiliar with his work either as a professional apologist and debater or as a pastor and a scholar. I have heard that his book, The God Who Justifies, is a modern classic on the topic of justification (although I haven’t read it), and, from what little I know of the man, I consider him to be an able defender of the faith.  Frankly, and from what I’ve seen, I’d hate to be on the other side in any debate with him.

Now, I’m glad Dr. White says he is opposed to the FV and it is true many of its advocates say confusing, or, properly, contradictory things, so I’m not surprised or alarmed that he has chosen to reserve judgment.  I appreciate that he understands the present danger of the FV in P&R denominations. Reformed Baptist churches like the one White pastors could be next.  I suspect White is just not up to speed on the contradictory nature of Vantilianism or it’s tremendous influence in P&R circles, which might explain his reservations concerning the FV teachers he’s interacted with, including Doug Wilson who White has sparred with in the past.  I suspect White doesn’t realize that these men, following Norm Shepherd, can fully affirm the biblical doctrine of justification out of one side of their mouth while simultaneously denying it with the other.

I suspect White is also unfamiliar with the FV trick of incorporating works as the third “fiducial” element of saving faith in terms of obedience which allows these men to fully affirm justification by faith, even faith alone, all the while denying the historic and biblical doctrine through redefinition.  It has been well documented that these false teachers simply smuggle in works of obedience as part of faith thereby making works (surreptitiously) an instrument of justification.  Of course, these men will also deny that works are an instrument in justification, yet maintain that obedience is nonetheless an element of saving faith.

I suspect White does not even realize that men like Wilson disingenuously assert that works done as the result of faith are not works at all, but are rather acts of obedience (see Hunting Wolves) and are central to Wilson’s understanding of faith.  Perhaps Dr. White needs to read Gordon Clark’s  What is Saving Faith? where Clark discusses at length the tautological nature of the traditional tri-fold definition of faith.  I suspect White doesn’t even realize how these men have been able to capitalize on the historic Reformed confusion surrounding the very nature of faith and how they’ve advanced a false gospel of salvation by faith and works because of it.

This is why Doug Wilson and others have been so successful in pulling the wool over the eyes of many within P&R denominations for years, so why would I expect a Reformed Baptist, who is not yet directly affected by the Federal Vision heresy, to correctly identify any of these men as false teachers and feigned brethren? After all, the otherwise excellent PCA report on the Federal Vision and New Perspectives on Paul wrongly identifies even those mentioned in the report, men the report correctly identifies as denying the biblical doctrines of justification by faith alone and the imputation of Christ’s active and passive obedience even within the PCA,  as “brothers in Christ.”

Regardless, my interest in White is his seemingly unprovoked attack on John Robbins. Now, admittedly, I didn’t find this particularly surprising or shocking either.  John Robbins has been a perennial whipping post for many in the largely emasculated Reformed community for years.  For example, Vantilians have routinely reviled John for his little booklet, Cornelius Van Til: The Man and the Myth.   One writer on the Puritan Boards wrote in regard to this booklet:

Didn’t Robbins also charge Van Til with denying the Trinity? When I read that I stopped taking him seriously.

To which another Van Til devotee wrote:

Well that’s worthy of stoning!

As it turns out the above writer wasn’t joking and subsequently revealed himself to be another Vantilian follower of the Federal Vision. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before these modern day Judaizers and their fellow travelers reach back into their Theonomistic roots and reinstate this OT form of punishment while claiming faithfulness to the Covenant. My guess is James Jordan is ahead of the curve on this one; locked and loaded with a box of rocks behind his FV altar ready to fire after he invokes a stream of  imprecatory prayers against some poor Christian. After all, there is some NT precedent too for Federal Visionist’s reaction to their critics in Acts 7:

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him . . . But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears, and they rushed upon him with one impulse. And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

In 2002 John Robbins wrote a piece, Pied Piper,  where he took issue with John Piper’s book Future Grace by examining Piper’s deep theological confusion on central issues of the faith. Robbins writes; “[Daniel] Fuller explicitly denies justification by faith alone and explicitly asserts justification by faith and works. Piper, his faithful student, arrives at the same conclusion.” In the review John identifies and outlines the corrupting influence of Fuller’s moncovenatalism and neo-legalism on Piper.  Of course, rather than deal with the objections raised in the review, many of Piper’s followers were quick to attack Robbins instead.  One wrote:

Men such a Robbins should have their hearts checked before they write such garbage about a brother in Christ. They set aside the law of Christ and do not consider their actions as evil believing they have done God a favor.

Of course, R. S. Clark pointed out recently on his own blog that “. . . Piper advocated Dan Fuller’s (and Shepherd’s) covenant theology and doctrine of justification but has rejected both.”  If Piper has rejected both perhaps it was due in part to the pointed critique by Dr. Robbins?  Of course few in the P&R community seem willing to give Dr. Robbins credit for much of anything.  Which I suppose is fine since I know of another person who was systematically reviled by the religious leaders in his day, so I think Dr. Robbins is in pretty good company.

Which brings me back to James White.  In addition to the above slam against Robbins, to one inquirer White wrote:

I note from some of your materials on line that you fall into the Robbins group.  I am grieved that the man attaches terms like “heresy” and “cult” to every possible difference of opinion, thus confusing the central issues.  I remember Robbins attacking me simply for not being mean spirited toward [Roman Catholic apologist] Robert Sungenis.  Sad, very sad.

To another person he wrote:

I hold Robbins accountable for this: I remember well when he attacked me publicly for the sole reason that  I was not nasty and angry when I corresponded with Robert Sungenis on a particular point of doctrine when Robbins was on the cc list.  What a mindset he has, constantly attaching “heresy” or “cult” to people’s names.  He will have much to answer for someday before God, to  be sure.

I was concerned about this libel against Dr. Robbins and wondered if White could, or even would, substantiate his charge.  John is, after all, a sinner like the rest of us, but I just could not imagine John advocating that White be “nasty,” “angry,” and “mean spirited” even to a papist apologists like Sungenis.   Was the smoking gun to be found somewhere on that “cc list” White mentioned?  So, I emailed Dr. White and asked he if he had some correspondence where John takes him to task for not being “nasty,” “angry” and “mean spirited” in his opposition to Sungenis in order to corroborate his charge?  White’s initial response to me was less than promising:

I see ______ is looking for a food fight.  I wrote to an individual and explained my position to him.  If you all want to start a Crusade, you will have to start without me.  I have no interest in such foolishness.

After assuring White that I was not interested in a “food fight,” I told him that my only point of contention is that I didn’t think he should be going around the Internet smearing Dr. Robbins’ good name without any more evidenced then just his say so. I said if John said those things then he should prove it.  I added, “Isn’t that the very least you would ask of one of your opponents in any one of your debates?”  Still not persuaded, White shot back:

Sir, I wrote a private e-mail to a member of a church where I have ministered for years.  I was not “going around the Internet.”  This is the kind of thinking I see in this group, and it is frightening.  I am not going to waste my time digging through archives for the e-mail: everyone who knows Robbins knows that what I said is perfectly in line with his behavior.  You have no grounds of accusing me of lying about it, and if you are so intent upon reading the e-mail, ask Robbins for it.  In the meantime, I would suggest you refrain from referring to individual e-mails as “going around the Internet smearing” someone’s reputation, especially when almost every article churned out by the Trinity Foundation contains all the elements I noted, including the regular attachment of “heresy/heretic” and “cult/cultic” to the personal names of particular individuals.  If that is smearing someone’s reputation, then you need to take it up with Robbins himself, whose writings exemplify this very thing.

I have, to this point, said nothing about Robbins . . . or Trinity Foundation on my blog, in my videos, etc.  _____ started this, he contacted my ministry dredging up stuff from years ago and in essence demanding I join Robbins in consigning every Federal Visionist to the fires of hell.  As I said, if you men wish to invest your time in such Crusades, I leave you to it.  I am not wasting my time with such foolishness.

Now, before moving on, and not to give anything away since progress was made, I want to just take a moment to examine the above response.  First, and as noted above, I received two separate emails from two different people where Dr. White makes the exact same charge against Dr. Robbins seemingly without warrant.  White is certainly going around the Internet making this at least twice repeated charge (are there more?) and from this he infers that I am part of some “group” – and a particularly “frightening” one at that.  Well, conspiracy theories aside, I’m not part of any group and I hardly think I’m very frightening, although I admit I know I’m in trouble when someone starts out their letter to me with “Sir.”

Second, look at how White justifies his actions.  He accuses the Trinity Foundation and John Robbins of “smearing” the reputations of others without even a shred of documentation or proof in support of this allegation and then claims that “everyone who knows Robbins knows that what I said is perfectly in line with his behavior.”  Well, I’ve known John Robbins for the past decade or so and have been following his work for longer than that. I think I can even call John a friend.  At the very least that should qualify me as part of the set of “everyone who knows John Robbins.”  Which is why I confess that what White said was perfectly out-of-line with his behavior.  Beyond that, the Trinity Foundation has not “smeared” anyone that I know of, and, besides, appealing to “everyone” is a fallacious argument (see argumentum ad populum).  Perhaps Dr. White has forgotten what it means to “smear” someone?  To smear is to advance an unsubstantiated charge or accusation against a person or organization.  John Robbins and the Trinity Foundation have been scrupulous in substantiating any charge they’ve made over the years.  I can’t say the same for Dr. White and his smear of Dr. Robbins and the Trinity Foundation.

Third (or would this be five or six), as for asking Dr. Robbins for the letter, 1) he’s dying, and 2) since White was the one making the charge the onus is on him to provide the evidence.

Fourth, it is simply untrue that Robbins consigns every FVist to the “fires of hell.”  Some of these men are demonstrably wolves in sheep’s clothing, but that is not to say all are.  Certainly any teacher who would advance a scheme of salvation based on faith and works should be marked and avoided.  I would think even Dr. White would agree with this since Paul tells us to “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”   But, here again, White mischaracterizes both Dr. Robbins and the work of the Trinity Foundation.

And, fifth, White asserts that it would be a “waste” of his time responding to my request that he corroborate his charge. This last point will be of particular importance later on since it seems to be a tried and true technique of Dr. White.  Dr. White ends his reply by informing me not to reply and that all future emails from me will be filtered and ignored.

Thinking I had completely failed Dale Carnegie along with making my case, I assumed the discussion was over and at least I am now on record objecting to his seemingly wild accusations against Dr. Robbins and the Trinity Foundation.  To my surprise later that evening I received this note from Dr. White along with a lengthy attachment:

I wasted my time finding this entire series of e-mails.  You will all notice they were sent to more than a dozen people, all of whom should be able to confirm the authenticity of the attached file.  It MORE than substantiates exactly what I summarized in my statement about John Robbins “going after” me for not calling Robert Sungenis a papist.  I had actually forgotten how strongly Robbins had done so in these publicly exchanged e-mails.  I have now provided you with the documentation you demanded . . . .  Mr. Gerety, your false statements about me are likewise utterly refuted hereby.

Needless to say, and praise be to God, this was a very welcomed about-face.  After a little reformatting I was able to read the portions of the email debate Dr. White provided in order to make his case. The debate was from August, 2000 and included a faceoff between John Robbins and Robert Sungenis with James White and assorted others as observers and minor contributors.  Before getting into the substance of Dr. White’s charges, and even into the substance of the debate itself (which, as mentioned, took place over 8 years ago– evidently Dr. White has been nursing this particular grudge for a long time), I just want to point out that I looked high and low and carefully searched the entire document and could find no instance where John went “after” Dr. White for “not calling Robert Sungenis a papist.”  Maybe that was in some portion of the debate Dr. White failed to send?  Frankly, the word “papist” is nowhere in the document.  The word “papacy” is used, but not by Dr. Robbins.  Admittedly, things are not looking up for Dr. White’s claims, which we’ll examine more closely in the next installment.

Part 2

Explore posts in the same categories: John Robbins, Theology

21 Comments on “James White – Mr. Apologetics Misfires – Part 1”

  1. civbert Says:

    It sounds like Dr White was confusing the FV’er Steve Wilkins with the Grace Evangelical Society’s Robert Wilkins. I don’t think GES is pro-FV in any sense. I don’t know much about GES, but I think they are FV. Dr. White seems to be finding Clark guilty by association because GES likes some of what Clark wrote. But to confuse GES as a Federal Vision group is itself confusing.

    I’m bummed out that Dr. White seems to have tossed Gordon Clark aside over a personal grudge White seems to be holding against Dr. Robbins. I’ve seen that kind of thing happen too often. Good men let old grievances and perceived slights prevent them from considering or listening to people they would really benefit from. Dr. White won’t consider what Gordon Clark has said because Dr. Robbins (a proponent of Clark) once stepped on his toes in an old debate.

    As for the Dr. White’s understanding of Gordon Clark’s views on the meaning of saving faith, clearly Dr. Whites has not bothered with it. Again he appears to have discarded Gordon Clark’s views based on a flimsy perception of what Clark’s view were. It’s a shame because Dr. White would benefit tremendously from a solid understanding of Clark. Dr. Whites gift as an sharp apologetic debater combined with the rock solid Christian philosophy of Gordon Clark would be an amazing combination. But I’m afraid White’s not open to the idea of learning something from Clark.

  2. brandon Says:

    Sure, I can repost, sorry for the confusion.


    Dr. White wasn’t confusing them, it was someone else in the channel. But yes, he is simply finding Clark guilty by association.

  3. brandon Says:

    I want to preface this comment by saying that I have benefitted greatly from Dr. White’s ministry. I appreciate his work very much. That said, his attitude can be very frustrating at times, as I’m sure mine can.

    A few weeks ago, Dr. White began analyzing apologetic methodolgy on his webcast/podcast. He describes himself as a presuppositionalist, but I had never heard him mention Gordon Clark, so I (yes, lowly me) wanted to either recommend Clark, or ask White’s opinion of him, so I went to the infamous #prosapologian on IRC (James White’s nick is DrOakley). Here is the transcript:

    (brandona): DrOakley I was just listening to your podcast on apologetic methodology and was wondering if you have read any of Gordon Clark’s work on the topic? I would love to have you discuss him on an episode of the dividing line some day

    (DrOakley): No, I have little use for Clark.
    (DrOakley): Clark’s “logos = logic” and his very poor understanding of faith, biblically, do not give me any reason to invest time with his writings.

    (brandona): you read his book on saving faith?

    (DrOakley): As I said, I have no reason to invest my time in reading entire books by someone. The citations I have seen from his works do not give me any reason to do so.

    (brandona): Well, ok. That explanation really kills me. I have searched far and wide on the internet for critiques of Clark from people I can trust, and all I can find is people refusing to consider him because of what someone else said (usually Van Til). I have personally benefitted tremendously from his work and listening to you talk about apologetic methodology, i really think you would agree with a lot of it

    (DrOakley): brandonada: well, that’s nice.
    However, I, and I alone, have to answer to the Lord for how I use the small amount of time I have.
    People pop in here everyday with their pet projects, their pet concerns, and are very intent upon me dropping everything I’m doing and following their rabbit trail.
    There are, of course, ten thousand topics I could delve into….
    However, I cannot do so, obviously. So, I have to determine what the Lord would have me to do.
    And Gordon Clark, as far as I can tell, had a next to heretical view of saving faith, so much so that he is Robert Wilkins’ favorite “Reformed” theologian.
    Likewise, I *did* read enough of him years ago to run into all kinds of imbalance.
    And, to be honest, his primary disciple today is the very *picture* of imbalance.
    So, given that I rarely get done the reading I need to get done in the areas I am working in, why, oh why, would I invest a nanosecond in revisiting Clark?

    (brandona): because i think he provides a tremendous resource for your apologetics. but i completely understand your time limit. i just wish people would read him, that’s all

    (DrOakley): Am I incorrect to say he holds to a view of faith that excludes repentance?

    (brandona): DrO – absolutely not

    (DrOakley): Absolutely not….I have no idea what that means.
    (DrOakley): Am I, or am I not, correct?

    (brandona): absolutely he does not believe that faith excludes repentance

    (DrOakley): So…the citations I have seen of him saying that are all made up, incorrect, etc.?

    (brandona): i don’t know, i would have to read them… i posted some quotes from his book on my blog a while back http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2007/12/02/what-is-saving-faith-quotes/

    (DrOakley): Sproul does not mention or show any familiarity with the outstanding work, Faith and Saving Faith, by the late Reformed scholar Gordon Clark. That is a shame, for his discussion of faith suffers from lack of attention to the points made by Clark.

    (brandona): Was that the citation you were referring to DrO?

    (DrOakley): http://www.faithalone.org/journal/bookreviews/clark,%20gordon.htm

    (DrOakley): The Wilkins group loves Clark’s book.

    (brandona): and the purpose of the quote with referrence to Sproul, was that to support the claim that Clark denies repentence is part of faith?
    (brandona): i am not familiar with wilkins

    (RazorKiss): DrO – don’t get too sidetracked, O bearded one!
    (DrOakley): Robert Wilkin, Grace Evangelical Society, i.e., the Zane Hodges, “no repentance in salvation” anti-Lordship group.

    (brandona): no, Robbins wrote a great article on the Lordship salvation debate critiquing both MacArthur and Hodges
    (brandona): for a great application of Clark’s view of saving faith, i recommend this article on the federal vision https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2007/12/22/the-fiducial-road-to-rome-part-1/

    …Dr. White never said anything else on the topic.

    I just find it ridiculous that someone so prominent, perhaps the most prominent Reformed apologist, as Dr. White refuses to interact with what Clark has written. The claim that I only have so much time on this earth is understandable… but, in my opinion, his time would be much better spent reading Clark than spending it being *very highly revered by his disciples in his own channel.

  4. justbybelief Says:

    Clark’s book ‘What is Saving Faith?’ is outstanding. He slices and dices the best reformed theologian’s erroneous and extraneous definitions of faith and places before us the biblical definition as ‘assent to understood propositions.’ The biblical doctrine Clark plumbs from the pages of scripture truly takes the yoke off the back of God’s children and quells the morbid introspection associated with the definitions of ‘faith’ given by many theologians today. It is the same old story. Men have just got to make salvation more difficult than God has made it. This is because most are ashamed of the Gospel. THIS IS YET ANOTHER FIGHT FOR THE GOSPEL!!!

    Clark’s book was very timely. I propose another book: ‘What is Repentance?’ In this book repentance is defined as ‘a change of mind.’

    One of my favorite sections of the book is where Clark, according to scripture, equates the heart with the head erasing this tyrannical distinction erected by Satan and propagated by his followers. I remember trying to force the gospel into my heart (that extra 18 inches) to no avail scraping my psyche raw.

    The only disappointing part of the book in my humble opinion is that Clark doesn’t come down hard enough on the likes of John Owen, Charles Hodge, Louis Berkhof, Thomas Manton, and J.T. Mueller–theologians who should know better.

    Let’s face it! If justification by faith alone is the doctrine of a standing or falling church, and God’s elect are justified by faith alone then it behooves us to know the definition of faith, or else the church will fall and we will fall with it. Again, THIS IS A FIGHT OVER THE GOSPEL!!!

    Eric Christopher Broch

  5. magma2 Says:

    Thanks Brandon for reformatting the exchange. And thank you for being willing to stick your neck out even when it’s unpopular.

    . . . I have no reason to invest my time in reading entire books by someone.

    He has a point. We wouldn’t want White to invest his time reading any books by the most important Christian mind of the 20th Century.

    And Gordon Clark, as far as I can tell, had a next to heretical view of saving faith . . . .

    I guess I’ve been impressed by the sheer arrogance of White. Here we have a man who has not read ANY Clark, yet considers himself competent enough to insinuate that Clark held a “heretical view of saving faith.”

    Not that it would make any difference to a man who is content pontificating with his head shoved in a hole, but R.C. Sproul lists A Christian View of Men and Things and Thales to Dewey on his “List of Most Influential Books.”

  6. magma2 Says:

    The biblical doctrine Clark plumbs from the pages of scripture truly takes the yoke off the back of God’s children and quells the morbid introspection associated with the definitions of ‘faith’ given by many theologians today.

    A better single sentence summation of the book would be nearly impossible to find.

    The only disappointing part of the book in my humble opinion is that Clark doesn’t come down hard enough on the likes of John Owen, Charles Hodge, Louis Berkhof, Thomas Manton, and J.T. Mueller–theologians who should know better.

    Perhaps. But, in fairness (and preaching to the choir), the confusion perpetuated by the traditional and tautological definition, at least until recently, hasn’t really been employed in a way that so successfully undercuts the central truth of the gospel. Someone could define belief as understanding, assent and trust, but the addition of trust doesn’t add anything. As Clark points out, it is a matter of defining a word by itself. To believe someone is to trust them and visa versa. Belief and trust are synonyms. Saying the words in Latin doesn’t change a thing. Really, other than the mischief that can come from the traditional definition (i.e., that there is something more that is needed than just simple belief in order to be saved), the addition of trust is a pointless appendage. In most cases it has been a matter of no harm, no foul. And, the fact that virtually no previous Reformed theologian in history has seen this clear and overwhelmingly biblical solution, or even the problem, merely once again points to Clark’s genius.

    Probably like you, when I first read the book it was like a breath of fresh air. Simple, clean and not a cobweb left behind. Why didn’t I think of that? Or, better, why hasn’t anyone else thought of that.. 😉

    I think most of the animus leveled against Clark stems from ignorance and (professional) envy. Plus, if Clark is right, Van Til is wrong. Don’t forget Clark was viciously attacked by Van Til and his associates for even proposing his solution to the problem of evil. Like White above, his attackers then didn’t even engage his arguments either. Frankly, they haven’t since. So, I’m not surprised that most modern Reformed theologians won’t even give Clark a hearing. It’s been open season on everything Clark since the 1940’s and probably even before that. Anyway, thanks for you post.

  7. rgmann Says:

    I guess I’ve been impressed by the sheer arrogance of White. Here we have a man who has not read ANY Clark, yet considers himself competent enough to insinuate that Clark held a “heretical view of saving faith.”

    You took the words right out of my mouth. While I don’t agree with everything I’ve read by Clark, to suggest that his view of saving faith is “next to heretical” without ever having read his material is downright slanderous! I can’t think of a better way to put it than “sheer arrogance.”

  8. akac Says:

    I have benefited from alot of Whites work in the past but I don’t think he is strong in these areas. It’s real shame because I don’t think he understands how important these foundational topics are and is too soon to discount Clark’s work. White would benifit from Clark and it would correct some of the wrong approaches he uses in alot his debates. White doesn’t IMHO understand the axiomatic view of knowledge and it hurts him at times.

    I remember a few years back I too was on Whites pros-apologian (or something like that) chat room and asked him about Clark. He basically said he hadn’t read him and that all Clarkian folks that he met were all “weird” . I was disappointed with his response. You know the old saying, You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it. I could say more about this but I hate to sound speculative about what I think his reasons are.


  9. redbeetle1 Says:

    civbert (Anthony Coletti),
    Are you still a member at that Federal-Vision church (Midway Presbyterian Church, Jonesboro, Tennessee). I remember you were telling me that you hoped to become an elder there, even after John Robbins had resigned. How’s that going? Elders like Ross and Sam Lindley were quite opposed to the teachings of Gordon H. Clark when I was there–they were ardently dedicated Van Tilians, so I wasn’t surprised when I found out they had threatened to bring charges against John in Presbytery for attacking their Auburn Ave. buddies (Auburn Ave. Presbyterian Church–AAPC). Ross Lindley claimed that John’s opposition to the AAPC’s teaching and practice was sinful.

    John was very clear about Midway Presbyterian Church. He wrote:
    “…[I]t has become increasingly clear to me that the current leadership of Midway is reluctant to correct false teaching about the Gospel if the false teaching is done by old friends. Because Midway Church has so many connections to men teaching a false gospelCthrough the PCA, through Pastors Conferences, through Worldview Conferences, through their newsletters, books, and tapesCI have, on several occasions, brought to the attention of the Midway Session statements made by these men, only to have my concerns dismissed by some vague reassurance that Ahe is a good man.@ I can understand a reluctance to question or rebuke old friends, but when the Gospel is at stake, one must sometimes choose between friends and Christ, and risk offending old friends. Jesus said, AIf anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple@ (Luke 14:26). The views on justification and the Gospel that are now being promoted in the PCA and in other Reformed churches must be opposed with all our intelligence and might”
    (Here’s the link to the letter John published to the members and session of Midway Presbyterian Church, Jonesboro, Tennessee back in 2003:

    Sola Fide,
    Monty L. Collier

  10. Drake Says:

    Though Robbins has bought into the whole Americanism thing hook, line and sinker, his philosophical writings and lectures have been very edifying to me over the years. However, the technique of threatening someone with the fires of hell unless they become agreeable has become quite disgusting to me after debating with Roman Catholics. Moreover, I find American Christians the least qualified to use such techniques seeing the vast majority of those who use them are totally ignorant of the issue as a big picture. If you think yourself game, read Free Disputation by Samuel Rutherford and try to make sense of the issue. From what I have read that book deals with every issue and he has thought about it the most in protestant history. I read that book twice, and have read over and over the arguments given. Trying to figure out what fundamentals one must believe to be thought heaven bound or what doctrines believed to be though hell bound is an issue no American theologian I am aware of has even come close (Due in part to our silly First Amendment) to much less, come close to solving.


  11. Rev Steve Ripley Says:

    I’m an ordained minister, familiar with Dan Fuller’s writings. I am not here to justify his theology, but question why the author of this blog spends his time bashing other ministers? Let’s focus on the task at hand ~ telling the gospel of Jesus Christ to a dying world. I know that my secular friends will not attend church because of the in-fighting. Are we doing more good than harm? Are we really showing others that we are Christians for our love for one another?

  12. Sean Gerety Says:

    It would be nice if some of your fellow ordained ministers actually knew the Gospel and would preach it. However, last I checked the Gospel is not premised on our personal obedience and righteousness in the hope that we might attain final justification, but rather the personal obedience and righteousness of another who already accomplished our justification completely outside of us.

    Maybe you guys should get your message straight and then there wouldn’t be any “in-fighting.” Perhaps in a future sermon you should spend some time explicating 1 John 2:18 or maybe even Mathew 24:24ff. Now that’s a message your secular friends might enjoy. 🙂

  13. Rev Steve Ripley Says:

    Mr. Gerety ~

    My point exactly. Exactly that your ego has gone way beyond wanting adherence to “truth.” Your academic ego has only turned off our chances of showing God’s love to those who don’t believe. Let’s focus on loving one another,sharing the truth, instead of “shooting our wounded.” To say that “we” ordained ministers did not know the gospel goes way beyond hubris. Please examine your heart.

    In Christ’s love,


  14. Pardon my intrusion…
    To the Revered Mr. Ripley,

    “I’m an ordained minister”
    Thanks for sharing.

    “I am not here to justify [Daniel Fuller’s] theology”

    “why [does] the author of this blog spends his time bashing other ministers?”
    Mr. Gerety, like the Apostle Paul, “bashes” those who would distort the precious gospel of Jesus Christ. Just because one is ordained and called a “minister,” does not mean that he preaches the gospel.

    “Let’s focus on the task at hand ~ telling the gospel of Jesus Christ to a dying world.”
    Amen. Wait a sec, though… which gospel, of which Jesus? Fuller’s gospel? The gospel of Rome? We must be clear about exactly *what* the gospel, the good news of Christ, *is*.

    “Are we really showing others that we are Christians for our love for one another?”
    Are we showing love to others by not standing against distortions of the gospel? Perhaps you are suggesting that it is better to allow folks to continue to spread a message of works-righteousness, rather than “do harm” by exposing the anti-Christian nature of their message?

    “My point exactly. Exactly that your ego has gone way beyond wanting adherence to ‘truth.’ Your academic ego has only turned off our chances of showing God’s love to those who don’t believe… way beyond hubris”
    Careful, or you might end up “bashing” Mr. Gerety.

    “Let’s focus on loving one another,sharing the truth”
    Amen again. As long as we’re clear on which “truth” we’re sharing… I’m fairly certain that’s a big issue with the Apostle Paul.

    “Please examine your heart.”
    Please, in all sincerety, re-examine your doctrine. Then you’ll be better prepared to demolish the arguments and motives of those bloggers you disagree with, if in fact your doctrines hold any water. Until then, your efforts would be better spent examining the attitude of the biblical writers toward the gospel, instead of pestering those who would defend the gospel against perversion.

  15. qeqesha Says:

    Rev Ripley,
    You ignore the reasons these ministers are getting a no confidence vote from Mr Gerety. If the message of the Gospel is being distorted, does it not follow that the love of God is being distorted? For, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life”. What kind of love are you advocating for, that is more important or above or ignores Christ’s love, which is the message of the gospel? Why does the defense of the gospel offend you?
    Your logic is hard to follow, Rev Ripley!


  16. Rev Steve Ripley Says:

    Gentlemen ~

    You’ve proven my point. Your attacks are typical of the fighting that often goes on with “Christians” ~ and that is why I have found many of non-believers to not attend the church. Have we become the Pharisees and the hypocrites. Please let us examine our souls.


  17. Really? After three years of silence on this thread, you pop up to tell us not to fight? Most people would call that irony. On the internet, I believe that’s called “trolling.”

  18. justbybelief Says:

    Ripley’s believe it or not?


  19. Steve M Says:

    The Reverend asked: “Have we become the Pharisees and the hypocrites.”(?)

    Christ routinely “attacked” the Pharisees and the hypocrites. Perhaps many non-believers were put off by such behavior. It may well have caused them stay home.

  20. Steve M Says:

    Many non-believers do not attend church because they are non-believers. Some non-believers attend church and pretend to be believers. Many of those non-believers pretending to be believers end up as church leaders. These non-believing church leaders lead many trusting church members astray.

    You suggest that we examine our souls. I think it is important as believers that we examine our beliefs.

  21. John Bradshaw Says:

    “‘The biblical doctrine Clark plumbs from the pages of scripture truly takes the yoke off the back of God’s children and quells the morbid introspection associated with the definitions of ‘faith’ given by many theologians today.”

    A better single sentence summation of the book would be nearly impossible to find.'”

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