Update: After reflecting on the way I came across in the video, I have decided to remove it. If I expect James White to show respect and consideration toward me, I need to do the same to him. I will make another blog post sometime in the next few days discussing the situation, the response, and what transpired with regard to the radio discussion.
And immediately a Protestant Christian jumped in criticizing something I pointed out; namely, that James White hypocritically quotes Martin Luther on the back cover of the book. The Protestant Christian argued, with some merit, that just because a person disagrees with another on various issues, does not mean they can’t quote them when they do agree.
True enough, if that were the whole story, though one should be careful quoting people whose views in general are suspect. But White’s quote of Luther is as follows:
The Word comes first, and with the Word the Spirit breathes upon my heart so that I believe.
— Martin Luther
An okay quote, as far as it goes. But the problem with it for White is that Luther is talking about his own faith and beliefs, how the Word and the Spirit combine to bless him with his (implicitly great) faith.
Yet James White utterly rejects many of Luther’s beliefs: sacramental union (consubstantiation), the dismissal of four New Testament books, Marian veneration and her perpetual virginity, infant baptism, and especially Luther’s beliefs on justification and baptism.
The quote then, where Luther describes how God has enlightened him with such faith, is a bizarre one to use by White, as their two faiths contradict one another on important doctrines. This is what I criticized in my video.
Of course, the solution to this puzzle is simple: White wants to connect himself with the founder of Protestantism and so add a patina of historical credibility to his own thoroughly innovative beliefs. In fact White likes the quote because he applies it to himself, and not to Luther. The irony of such a reappropriation is palpable, but in truth White is doing what Luther set the stage for: everyone their own ultimate interpretive authority. In spite of the hypocrisy, White truly is the spiritual descendant of Luther, just in a way that neither of them would want or own up to.
But How Could White’s Book Respond to Mine?
James White was informed about my video and argued that I said something silly: namely, I explained that his book didn’t rebut any of my book’s arguments. He pointed out that his book was written years prior to my book, so how could it rebut my arguments?
Seems reasonable, but what if I told you that White’s book was rebutted 400 years earlier by two Catholics? Their names are St. Edmund Campion and St. Francis de Sales. They lived in the 1500s and 1600s and already saw the root flaws of Protestantism. Their arguments get to the heart of the differences and completely undermine White’s book.
If White’s arguments were true, they would be timeless, and so his book would be speaking to timeless truths, like St. Edmund’s and St. Francis’ did. It could then answer a book such as mine, no matter when it was written. But his arguments are not true, and so they are not timeless at all. So my criticism of his book on this matter stands as well.
My book faces the toughest issues and gets to the heart of the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. White’s skirts the edges and studiously avoids the heart of the issues.