More Heat But No Light From James White

Welcome, visitors from James White’s blog.  Please feel free to comment on this or any other post; however, I ask that you keep your comments respectful and charitable.  Also note that you do not need to be registered to comment, but the first time you comment the blog will hold your comment in moderation until I approve it; subsequent comments are posted immediately.  Thank you and God bless.

I posted previously about James White emitting a lot of heat but not much light for people searching for the fullness of the truth in their Christian faith, and recently he made a blog post ridiculing a blog post made by his sister, Patty Bonds, where she asked people to pray for her brother, including St. James and several other saints.

The sad personal issues between them are none of my business, though they are well-known as they have been made public some time back; it is enough to know that James White is a fairly popular (Reformed Baptist) Protestant apologist while his sister Patty converted to the Catholic Church some years back–obviously such a situation would be trying for many families even in the best of circumstances.

In his post, Mr. White says:

I have always wondered just what these saints are supposed to do. Do they “send grace” to folks on earth by some magical means? … Or if someone prays to Paul for my conversion, would Paul send down some kind of grace that would contradict all the taught in Romans and Galatians? Yes, I know…what the Scriptures say doesn’t really matter, and it is all a matter of what “the Church” teaches (as interpreted in the myriad of ways exhibited by Roman Catholics around the world), but it is still striking to ponder how far from the mindset of the inspired writers modern Roman Catholicism truly is.

His remarks are disingenuous, for he well knows as a professional Protestant apologist what the Catholic Church teaches about the communion of saints, yet instead of accurately portraying that belief, he deliberately caricatures it.

"For to Him, all are alive"

"For to Him, all are alive"

We ask a saint in Heaven to pray for us, and by God’s Providence and facilitation, they can hear us and respond by praying to our Father.  It is not much different than asking a fellow Christian to pray for you.

It is not “magical” when you pray for me and God hears and answers by giving me grace–it is wonderful and amazing and beautiful, but it is not some kind of conjuring; rather, it is how God has created the world and us and made it possible for us to be in communion with one another.

One obvious objection is that the canonized saints in Heaven are all dead people, and surely dead people can’t hear us, so it is at best a waste of time and at worst some kind of sorcery to ask them to pray for us.  However, in Luke 20:38, Jesus says in his reply to the Sadducees that “he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”  Further, in Matthew 17 suddenly Moses and Elijah appear before Jesus during the Transfiguration: “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.”  Connecting the two Biblical dots here can tell us that by God’s grace and power human death does not end communication (or communion) between them and God and living persons.  These are only two of the many passages in the Bible which directly or indirectly support the communion of saints.

As for this being some invention of “modern Roman Catholicism”, history is against Mr. White.  My friend Tom posted a few months back about one example from the 7th century of praying for those who have died.

So what is one to do?  Avoid polemical apologists like Mr. White and find charitable and reasonable persons with whom to engage in dialogue. (Update 7/22/09: As James White has left a forthright and charitable comment on this blog post as well as made a non-polemical reply on his blog, I retract this above statement.  I hope that we will be able to have a reasoned and charitable discussion and so, in spite of the contentiousness in discussions which have taken place between him and some Catholic apologists, as he has been respectful here, I honor that.)

Oh, and definitely pray for James White and ask the saints to pray for him.

Update: I responded to James White’s challenge.

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25 Responses to More Heat But No Light From James White

  1. May I link this to my blog? You do a far better job of answering him than I would. And thank you, by the way.

  2. Devman says:

    Hi Patty–of course you may! Thank you for your kind compliments. You and your family remain in our prayers.

  3. Therese says:

    excellent response to Mr. White Devman.

    I have been asking St. James to intercede for him and will continue to.

    Therese

  4. Lee Anne says:

    It matters not what James White thinks about whether he is being prayed for or not – it matters that Sts. James, Jerome and Jude are praying for him AND there are plenty of us here on earth praying for him.

    Thanks for this reasoned answer to Mr. White, who continues to mock all things Catholic but will one day know that his mocking is nonsense. Will it happen in his earthly life time? I pray so –

    Jesus, I trust in YOU.

  5. Greetings:

    I have replied to this entry here:

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3396

    I also thanked you for not stooping to the all too common tactic of using the “anti-Catholic” moniker. :-)

    James White

  6. Devman says:

    Welcome to my blog, Mr. White,

    As you have been respectful and charitable in your comment here and in your blog response to this post (which I have just read), I have updated the post and retracted a statement where I implied you did not engage in apologetics charitably or reasonably.

    I will endeavor to respond to your post in a future post after i check out the specific debates you mentioned. I have listened to or read several of your debates with different Catholic apologists but am not sure if I have read the ones you mentioned in your post.

    With charitable dialogue we can be more open to God’s grace to be led to the fullness of the truth, and I pray that Christ will lead us there.

    Regards,
    Devin

  7. Dave Bamber says:

    The problem is thus with Mr.White, he acts as though if any Catholic fails to engage with him properly or if he defeats any person in debate that means “Rome’s” position is somehow wrong. Being a good debator which undoubtedly White is, doesn’t equal truth. I mean it is not as if Protestant apologists are regularly beating Catholics in moderated debates (in fairness White as won a lot of his against Catholics, apart from his ones with Sungenis and Madrid in my opinion). White is also careful at always setting the parameters in any discussion in any dialogue with him so he can convince his minions of followers that he somehow always is gentlemanly in debate and the other person cant answer his question. He doesn’t allow any comments to be posted on his webpage he deleted the comments people put on his You Tube videos and then blocked them off completely and only engages people on his radio show. He then requests people ring him there and if they don’t, then somehow they are “hiding” in fear! The fact is Christ never set up James White to be the protector of the deposit of faith. Nor did He say well if someone beats you in debate or provides better arguments on their radio show, will you know the truth of the gospel. No Christ promised to guide his apostles and their successors into all truth, which James White as a reformed Baptist and a separated brethren is certainly not part of. James White as been given ample opportunities to express his views with Catholics over the years and its about time that he encouraged his fellow Reformed friends, using his line of argumentation to come out of hiding also. I mean why have David King, William Webster, John MacArthur and RC. Sproul and other reformed apologists refused to engage in moderated debate with Catholics apologists over the years? Using your line of argumentation again is it because Calvinist sophistry would be exposed? Mr.White why aren’t the reformed people that are listed above engaging Catholic in live debate, can you please answer the question?

  8. James Pratt says:

    This is addressed to Dave Bamber.

    You crack me up. Seriously, what a joke. Have you read any of the plethora of ad hominem attacks on James White by Roman Catholic apologists? I have, and it is truly pathetic. Grown, supossed Christian men attacking a man personally because they cannot refute him neither doctrinally nor theologically. Yet we are White’s minions and the Catholic apologists you support have none of their own? Read their blogs and you will discover that they have their minions as well. Furthermore, James White will not allow posts on his aomin blog that have ad hominem attacks, or simply cannot be substantiated. He is extremely fair, and does not engage in such unChristian behavior. \Protector of the deposit of faith?\ What is that? I am sure it is a Roman Catholic thing, but GOD gives faith. Therefore nobody is the protector of the deposit of faith. If Catholics are the ones who dwell in the fullness of the truth and faith, why does James White win any debates. He should lose them all easily. Both parties that debate set the parameters for the debate. It is truly disingenuous to suggest that he alone sets the parameters for the debates. He has explained why he does not allow coimments on his YouTube account or webpage because people who call themselves Christians leave comments that I wouldn’t allow my ten year old niece to read. Therefore, they are not Christians, or false converts, or have no idea about holiness. By the way, many of those people would side with the Roman Catholic apologists. I will definitely grant this one point. People who call themselves Christians and identify themselves as Protestants do the exact same thing, and I would put them in either of the aforementioned three categories. But unlike your Roman Catholic apologist brothers, James White would not allow such comments. Truly exhibiting Holiness, righteousness, and discernment which come only from JESUS CHRIST our GREAT GOD AND SAVIOR. Furthermore, if Roman Catholic apologetics and apologists are so vastly superior to James White’s apologetics that truly lack the fullness of the truth, why don’t more Roman Catholics call in to his show to prove him wrong? Don’t say it is because he isn’t fair with giving them ample opportunity to state their case. I have heard him be very gracious to people who have called in to his show and plead their case. Also, James White calls out to those Roman Catholic apologists who like to and find their ministry in debating. Sproul, MacArthur and others are not debaters. I don’t see any priests who are not debaters asking James White to debate. Besides, what would be the point in that. It is remarkable to me that you say James White has won debates against Catholics, yet he doesn’t have the fullness of the truth. How exactly can that be? Remeber I refuted the argument you want to make right now earlier when I said he does not set the parameters for all his debates alone. They are agreed upon by both debating parties. Have a great night and as I have seen that there are Catholics that pray for Protestants, I want to make it known that Protestants pray for Catholics as well. I am one of those Protestants. However, I pray to my FATHER in Heaven, and HIS SON JESUS CHRIST. Because Scripture makes it clear that we are to pray to our FATHER in Heaven, and that there is One GOD, and One Mediator between GOD and men, the MAN CHRIST JESUS. I know this is a little all over the place, and has no paranthetical breaks, but I am tired and chose not to use proper grammatical techniques or spell check – it is my birthday, I have that right lol. There, I said it, so I hope I don’t get any comments about how I am just another dumb James White apologist, who can’t write properly.

  9. Lee Anne says:

    James Pratt – Happy Birthday – only you know if you are a James White apologist or not.

    From reading your post, I would say you probably are.

    I have no desire to debate James White – and I do not think it is worth anyone’s time to do so. James White loves to debate, but not to learn, only to spar.

    As far as not permitting any comments on his site – there are ways to read comments and not publish them, as the owner of a site – but James has decided not to do that, which is his right.

    BUT you and he can say that Roman Catholics continually attack him and there is no proof one way or the other because he does not have any record of any Roman Catholic doing so.

    I am a Roman Catholic and I would never dream of attacking James White or any other person. I resent being painted with a broad brush by you and your co-hort, James White.

    I am not here to debate you, I simply wish to make a point – James White loves to hear himself spar and you have continue the sparring by replying to Dave Bamber.

    Whatever James … what ever …

  10. Travis Berry says:

    Lee Anne I think it is important to not judge people’s motives. “James White loves to hear himself spar,” is a comment that is only God could really know since man sees the outside and God sees the inside right? I think it would be helpful to you to not be so judgmental and really look at the comments put forth by James White because he is a professor of Greek and is a learned man in many other areas. PLease just make sure we are being fair to everyone by not dismissing people’s arguments based on their position alone.

  11. Robert says:

    I have no desire to debate James White – and I do not think it is worth anyone’s time to do so. James White loves to debate, but not to learn, only to spar.

    Did Dr. White tell you this or are you psychic?

    As far as not permitting any comments on his site – there are ways to read comments and not publish them, as the owner of a site – but James has decided not to do that, which is his right.

    Again, psychic??

    BUT you and he can say that Roman Catholics continually attack him and there is no proof one way or the other because he does not have any record of any Roman Catholic doing so.

    You cannot be serious…have you even read any of the material on his site?? It’s FULL of quotes by RC’s attacking him….and he soundly refuting them; pointing out the errors.

    I am a Roman Catholic and I would never dream of attacking James White or any other person.

    Really? So what did you just do?

    I resent being painted with a broad brush by you and your co-hort, James White.

    I am not here to debate you, I simply wish to make a point – James White loves to hear himself spar and you have continue the sparring by replying to Dave Bamber.

    Right…you don’t like to debate, you don’t attack…

    I have an idea; how about actually knowing what you’re talking about before you put it in a combox. IF you want to know what James White has to say; he has a toll free number…you can actually ask him rather that making baseless statements while pretending to “take the high ground”.

  12. Devman says:

    Moderator message:

    Commenters on both sides: Let us be respectful and charitable toward each other; I have allowed all comments thus far, but we want to have a fruitful exchange and not another unhelpful one.

  13. Robert says:

    To Devman,
    I was not being disrespectful…I was merely pointing it out to illustrate the difference between explaining why someone’s theology is biblically incorrect and a personal attack and/or baseless accusations. (And doing it while at the same time pretending to take the “moral high ground” by saying that “I would never dream of attacking James White or anyone.”)

    The idea is to get people to deal with the statements rather than the personal habits of the messenger.

    That goes for Catholics AND Protestants.

  14. Devman says:

    My wife made a new blog post encouraging charity in our discussions: http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/2009/07/24/we-are-all-people-people/

    Robert, I was not and am not singling you out. There are reasons on both sides for feeling affronted, but we have to break that cycle with love.

  15. Pingback: St. Joseph’s Vanguard And Our Lady’s Train » Blog Archive » Response to James White on the Communion of Saints

  16. Devman says:

    As linked to below via Pingback, my response to Mr. White: http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/2009/07/24/response-to-james-white-on-the-communion-of-saints/

    I need someone to point me to where these debates are that he mentioned, as I couldn’t find them.

    Regards.

  17. Lee Anne says:

    Robert and Travis – I am not a psychic nor do I pretend to be one. I was making statements – not attacking. You do not know what I do or do not know about James White.

    I will leave it at that.

    Blessings – Lee Anne

  18. Robert says:

    Devman,
    On the debates that Dr. White mentioned. I’m fairly certain that you can see them on his Youtube channel (they might not be full clips) I believe he also posted them on his site on one of the pages in the recent past (a few weeks or less) so just do a search for your name maybe?

  19. Robert says:

    Lee Anne,
    The only thing that I DO know is that you don’t know what you’re talking about in your post above.

    I’ll leave it at that.

    bob

  20. Robert says:

    Devman,
    I forgot to add; it’s good to see you reciprocating the charitable tone of this exchange; sadly too often people take offense at someone who disagrees and instead of providing sound refutation of the statements themselves, they just give the apologetic equivalent of “oh yeah? Well you’re ugly too!”

    just thought I’d point it out.

  21. LothairOfLorraine says:

    I am a visitor from James White’s blog, and a Catholic. I noted in his response that he wrote ‘prayer is an act of worship’ and therefore, praying to Saints is idolatry. I searched for the term ‘pray’ in my lexicon and it comes up about 400 times in the Scripture [Hb, #4994]. In Hebrew, the word is ‘naw’ and it means to ‘entreat. beseech’, etc. For Mr. White to declare that ‘pray’ is always an act of worship just isn’t an honest exegesis. The word in Greek has different meaning [#2036], but nontheless we see Abraham bowing low and ‘praying’ to his visitors and in many other verses the act of asking someone to take some action is expressed with ‘naw’. So, Catholics are asking the Saints to take prayers and petitions to God, they are not the object of worship. Mr White may not like it, but his eisegesis leaves me doubting his integrity.

  22. Is James White a bigot? I can’t say. Is he a hypocrite and an atheist? Absolutely. Let me explain. In the article from Dr. White pasted at the top of this blog, he mocks the prayers of the saints as ‘magical’ in some underhanded way of ridiculing Catholic theology.

    How ironic that Dr. White is using loaded rhetoric so common from atheists. After all, an atheist would ask, ‘how is that that a virgin gave birth’? Some sort of ‘magic’?! All just ‘hocus pocus’ this drivel about God having sex with some Jewish girl!

    You see, when James wants to deride Catholic theology and scoff at our practices, he calls it the practice of ‘magic’, but he is quick to burst into flames and be the victim of foul play when it is done to him. I can give many examples where atheists and Muslims did EXACTLY what he is doing here. He didn’t like it one bit.

    His criticism isn’t useful, and his atheism obvious. I’m still not sure if he is a bigot.

  23. Susan Peterson says:

    Lothair, I don’t think you can say that because someone uses the same techniques of argumentation as some atheists and some Muslims, that he is an atheist! I truly doubt that Mr. White is an atheist. I think he is a Protestant Christian with a rather polemical spirit. There are certainly Catholic Christians who also have rather polemical presences on the internet. Some are better debaters than others.
    I don’t think a radio show is a good forum for thoughtful debate. Well thought out written arguments are much better, as each person has the time to think and to consult references.
    I am a Catholic and I love to participate in liturgical prayer to the saints, such as the Litany of the Saints.
    I admit that it has never become to any great degree part of my private prayer, except for praying the rosary. This may be to my loss. My defense of the practice is to say that the saints are in our prayer chain!
    Susan Peterson

  24. Jonathan Dupree says:

    You may all be shocked by this statement, but I strongly believe that James White is close to converting to Islam.
    I don’t know if it will be a genuine conversion as he is in the apologetics ‘buisness’ and does make some money, I’m wondering if his conversion to Islam would make his book a no. 1 hit with Saudi publishing abiilities and so forth.

    I think than James would change his name to something like Jalaluddin and than would re-engage Catholics with more vigour.
    Believe me people stranger things have happened in this world.

  25. Devman says:

    Jonathan,

    I assume you are speaking in jest.

    I don’t think James White is an atheist nor an apostate nor do I hope he converts to Islam.

    Rather, I think he is a committed Protestant Christian who is convinced of (his strain of) Protestantism’s truth, especially against the Catholic Church and her claims. I believe he loves God and desires all men to know the truth of Christ and that he shares the truth as he understands it. Of course as a Catholic, I believe he has erroneous beliefs in many areas of his faith and is in an imperfect communion with Christ’s Church; nonetheless, I consider him a brother in Christ, albeit a separated one.

    May Christ unite us as one in his truth!