UPDATE: one of James White's supporters, Micah Burke, put up a post in response to my piece below. Entitled "Peter Lumpkins doesn't know who he's responding to," Burke suggests my critical commentary below is misdirected toward James White. Instead he claims my criticism presumably should have been directed toward Al Mohler since "Nearly 99% of the quote [the quote below I transcribed from White's broadband broadcast] is actually Al Mohler's own words" (italics and link original). What a rip-roaring revelation! I'd never thought of that! Of course, Burke (he apparently is a volunteer employee for White's ministry) completely ignored the two references to Pelagius that White employed in the context of speaking about Harwood which contains much of the substance driving my concern below, two references White could not have quoted from Mohler because Mohler didn't mention either Pelagius or Pelagianism in his piece. Hence, White went well beyond Mohler in theologically implicating Harwood by identifying him not with semi-Pelagianism but identifying Harwood with Pelagius himself. These are the kinds of vacuous defenses offered by James White advocates...
I've already mentioned the verbal assaults some aggressive Southern Baptist Calvinists levelled toward the presenters and participants of the 2013 John 3:16 Conference (here and here). One may now add to their literary hubris the voice of Reformed Baptist, James White. On his latest "Radio Free Geneva" internet broadcast White especially deals with presenters Adam Harwood, Eric Hankins, Emir Caner, and Steve Gaines.1
Furthermore, he deals with my little book on Calvinism predictably suggesting I haven't the faintest clue what Calvinism is. I'll respond to some of White's specific criticisms later next week. For now, suffice it to say, to believe James White, it matters not whether one is an accomplished academic theologian-scholar like David Allen, Malcolm Yarnell, Adam Harwood, Emir Caner, or Paige Patterson on one hand or a pastoral theologian like Steve Gaines, Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, and, to a much lessor extinct, a bi-vocational pastor like me on the other; we all get sliced with the same dull blade by James White. For him, none of us understand Calvinism; none of us can get Calvinism right; we all have to make "straw" arguments because we are all incapable of refuting Calvinism. Hence, from my initial listening, White's critical commentary on my brief little book remains nothing more or less than substantially White's commentary on any man's work listed above. For that, I'm grateful to be placed in the same category with the men he criticizes.
Moving on presently to the J316C, I'd like to quote some words from White's broadcast, words I think offers an accurate summation of how we might expect White to view the rest of the John 3:16 Conference platform. After reading from Baptist Press's summation of Adam Harwood's presentation, White rightly acknowledged Harwood's claim that some Southern Baptists (particularly Dr. Mohler and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS)) disagreed with his interpretation of Scripture that though sinful human depravity includes the universal inheritance of Adamic sinful nature, it does not include the universal imputation of Adamic sinful guilt.
White then says,
"Well, I would hope so [that is, Mohler and SBTS would disagree with Harwood]. Umm, since Pelagious is supposed to have been dead and gone umm, and uh, so it, uh, would have been good, uh, if, uh that were the case that, uh, Southern disagreed with that. Harwood referenced a article Mohler wrote on his blog in 2012 titled "Southern Baptists and Salvation: It's Time to Talk" along with Mohler's claim that a 2012 document signed online by many non-Calvinist Southern Baptists, called "A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation" which we have addressed before and, uh, demonstrated it was rather embarassing honestly for those who signed it...appeared to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature and the human will –– understandings that virtually all Southern Baptists have denied endquote. As described in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, semi-Pelagianism quote affirmed that the unaided human will performed the initial act of faith endquote and quote the priority of the human will over the grace of God in the initial act of salvation endquote.
"Harwood said unity within the SBC may depend, in part, on Mohler retracting his claim. So, so uh, if you're going to have...uh..if you're going to have unity within the, uh, Southern Baptist Convention, then we need to redefine history, yes, we know...we need to forget about what Pelagius said, we need to forget about what semi-pelagianism is, and synergism is, up, no no, if we're going to have unity, then we need to come up with new terms and, uh, with new ways of looking at things"2 (within approximately 10:00—14:30 min.).
It's not to hard to deduce where many aggressive Calvinists gain their abusive vocabulary toward non-Calvinist Southern Baptists. Not only did James White twice slanderously implicate Adam Harwood in defending a Pelagian understanding of fallen human nature, White grossly attributed to Harwood the mindless notion that for unity to take place in the Southern Baptist Convention, Harwood requires on the one hand we forget about Pelagius, pelagianism, and semi-pelagianism among other things and "redefine history," while inventing new terms and new ways of doing things on the other. Who would even think such absurd conclusions could be rationally deduced from either Harwood's actual words in his presentation or Baptist Press's summary of it? I challenge anyone--including White himself--to defend his jejune, mindless characterization of Harwood's words on this site.
The truth is, James White has offered the very same type of hack on Adam Harwood as he offered on Ronnie Rogers' book, a book review which I criticized at length. Nor does White possess the kind of track record which, shall we say, lends itself to fair and balanced treatment in his criticism toward others (here, and especially note here).
Even so, while James White is not a Southern Baptist, he continues to have influence among many Southern Baptists.3 White remains cozy with Founders Ministries, the largest network of Calvinists in the SBC and also is scheduled to speak at Reformation Montana, an organization apparently headed by aggressive Baptist Calvinist, J.D. Hall. I wonder if Hall and Ken Fryer's abusive rhetoric may be inspired by their relationship with James White. It seems probable though not entirely certain.
What seems certain, however, is the perception James White has created for himself that he appears incapable of offering fair, sober commentary toward those Southern Baptists who remain convictionally unpersuaded by his strong Calvinist views (indeed some scholars are convinced White holds Hyper-Calvinistic views).
White's approach epitomizes the very kind of aggression, unfairness, and emotionally-driven rhetoric from some sectors of Southern Baptist Calvinism against which I've stood the last seven years. And, for the record, I hope God gives me yet another seven years to stand against the raw, hateful, and theologically slanderous seeds ("You're a heretic!") men like White continually sow amongst our Southern Baptist Convention.
James White's "Radio Free Geneva" and critical remarks on The 2013 John 3:16 Conference, Greg Boyd, and What is Calvinism? by Peter Lumpkins (link courtesy of Alpha and Omega Ministries)
1between criticizing J316 and my booklet, White strangely criticizes Greg Boyd, a person whose views are mostly theologically repugnant to the majority of Southern Baptists
2White went on with more commentary on Adam Harwood's presentation (as summarized in BP) but nothing else was said pertaining to my present purposes
3Only recently did White remove from his website wording in his bio which made it sound as if he still taught adjunctly at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (GGBTS), wording which I questioned in private correspondence and he subsequently removed. We're assured by the present adminstration James White is not scheduled to teach and will not be scheduled to teach at GGBTS.