Was Anyone Else Vexed by the James White vs. Steve Tassi Debate?

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As some of you might recall, I posted a short article about a debate that James White had with Leighton Flowers.  It was supposed to be about Romans 9.  When Leighton pretty much just ignored the topic of debate, and used it as an excuse to launch into what was basically a screed against Calvinism.  After watching that debate, I thought, “What a hash, and waste of time.”  I was hoping for a well thought out position that could interact, and challenge some of the notions that I hold to.  Not to overthrow those notions, but rather to sharpen, and hone them. (Good arguments have a way of doing that.)

Well, I went into this debate with low expectations because, “I heard things.”  Let me just say that my expectations were a bit high.  It was very disappointing to me.  I have some friends who are Calvary Chapel peeps, and they usually can separate their feelings towards Reformed soteriology, and their feelings for me as a person.  We can have a chat, and discuss theology without it getting to the, “Shots fired!” battleground.  This debate was a, “bait and switch.”  James White went to Norwalk, California prepared to debate Romans 9.  When the debate started it turned into an anti-Calvinist, sneak attack.  Where Steve Tassi abandoned the rules and format of formal debate.  He used the debate as a forum to express anti-Calvinist, and anti-James White sentiments, that seemed to be fueled by his personal traditions, and a false caricature of Calvinism. (Straw Man)

I felt bad for everyone there, especially people who paid to travel there.  I felt bad for them, not just because of financial expenditures, but mainly because they were not able to get the benefit of a spirited, well thought out debate.    The debate Dr. White had with Dr. Michael Brown was much more educational and edifying for all involved.  It followed the rules of debate, and both sides presented well thought out arguments from their own positions, while remaining friendly and respectful.

I enjoy watching debates that are well done.  I get a lot out of them.  I am vexed, because in  many ways this was a waste of time, resources, and efforts.  It was also a waste of opportunity.  This could have been a great way for the men to genuinely listen to each other, to hear and understand what was being expressed.  They could have come away from this as better friends, and more understanding brothers in Christ.  I don’t blame James White for this.  I understand why he got impatient.  I could even understand why some people might have misunderstood his attempts to coax or goad Dr. Tassi into following the rules as snarky or mean.  I don’t think Dr. White was being snarky or mean.  I just said I could understand why some people would think that, so don’t be putting words in my mouth, so to speak.  I thought James did as good a job as could be expected, under the circumstances.  I don’t think I could have been so gracious to Dr. Tassi.  I was fighting my frustration just watching the debate.

Let’s look forward to more good debates, and learn from the bad ones as well.  That way they aren’t a total loss.  I learned that when you get thrown a curve ball you need to think on your feet, and be well prepared ahead of time.  If you’re a Christian who is well studied in the word of God, you can respond to most arguments thrown at you, even if they are off topic.  Also I learned that we must be patient with people who don’t see, or hear what we are really saying.  We have to maintain our composure and soldier through, just like Dr. White did.  We can do those things, and still call people on their errors, without being unloving.  Squishy doesn’t equate to loving, or non-loving.  Standing firm for, and on the word of God, is loving.

Apparently, the video won’t play on other sites, because the owner(Tassi’s ministry outreach) has disallowed it.  So here is a link to the video on Youtube so you can watch it.

Black Israelite or Black Hebrew Movement and Dr. James White.


Hey kids, remember the Aryan Church? Remember how they were decried as a hate group and run out of Idaho? Well now there is a black group that is just like them. They are known as the black Israelite movement. They are a mixture of groups that have as their core beliefs that black people in America are the descendants of the Israelites, and that they are the only people who have a saving covenant with their god, and that the white people otherwise known as edomites by the movement, will be their slaves in heaven or in the millennial kingdom if they submit to their rule now.(its hard to say exactly because there is a wide variance from group to group some believe white people won’t be there at all) Some of them also believe that they will get to rape white women when the time comes. White people are the devil. They believe the KJV is the only true version of the Bible. Some only accept the Old Testament.  They made up their own form of Hebrew, which is basically idiotic. They reject the deity of Christ, and many more heresies. Well, Dr. James White, took a look at the movement to help out a brother who has been practicing apolgetics with these groups. Dr. White used his show, to dialogue with one of their leaders, and then later attempted a semi-formal debate. I say, “attempted” because the person on the other end was just like an unreasoning beast. I think that it would be worth your while to watch these videos so that you will know what we are going to be dealing with. The atmosphere of hatred that these groups grow in, mixed with their self-righteousness is a recipe for violence. Imagine street gangs mixed with radical muslim hatred. Got the picture? So here are the videos, and pray for them, pray for all those practicing apolgetics.  Since there are so many weird variations of these groups, please forgive me if I got something wrong.  

https://youtu.be/KYtTSNjky0c

Christians, Firearms, Self-defense, and Protection of Others.

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First off, let me say that this is not a matter that should cause us to break fellowship with one another, or to become polemic.  We reserve polemics for the enemy.  We should never turn our cannons on ourselves.  No friendly fire inside the camp.  This is a matter of adiaphora.  Personal convictions on this should be arrived at via much study and consideration of scripture.

That being said, recently Dr. John Piper wrote an article on the topic.  His view is one of personal pacifism.  He does not own a firearm and does not encourage others to own one.  He strongly believes that the Bible is clear on how a Christian should respond to evil and violence.  Here is the link to his article.  Dr. James White wrote an article that expressed an alternative and different position.  His article was not polemic, nor was he demonstrating a lack of love or grace.  You can read his article here.  There have been many knee-jerk emotional responses on both sides of the issue.  People are pulling out the, “Depart from me!  You are of a different spirit!” phrase and flinging it around.  This is an issue we can disagree on.  It is not a primary article of faith.

Personally, I’ve always thought it was more loving to defend the victims of evil against evil, even with deadly force. I recently read an article from Dr. John Piper where he explains his convictions about guns, and using them in defense. He seems to be pretty clear that he doesn’t think it is something a Christian should do. I, along with many other Christians disagree with him on this issue. However, I won’t let this become a divisive issue. It is a matter of adiaphora. I happen to agree with Dr. James White’s stance on the use of weapons, and the reasons to employ them.

If I see an elderly person being mugged, I will stop the mugging. If I see two men beheading a person in the street, I will stop them. If I see a group of men gang-raping a woman, I will stop them. If you are the victim of evil men, then you better hope that God, in His providence, directs someone like me to your aid.  We are supposed to love people, seek justice, and what is right.  I strongly believe it is more loving to defend the victims against the evil of sinful men, than it is to allow those evil men to work out their demonic desires.  If it can be stopped without employing lethal force, then I believe that is what we should do.  If a person is physically able to pull someone off of their victim and hold them for the police, then they should do so.  If they are looking at a situation that requires lethal force to stop the taking of human life, the rape of a person, be they man woman, or child, or the brutalization of a person by a group of thugs, then it is more loving and just to end the evil being wrought.  It is actually hateful to allow the evil to continue.  It demonstrates contempt for law, justice, and righteousness.

On a larger scale, like the Nazis and Jews, Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to the conclusion that he must act against the Nazis.  He could not sit by and watch the genocide of the Jewish people.  America couldn’t sit by and watch it either.  I believe it is actually a hateful thing to sit by and allow evil men to murder others.  I would not feel, or reason myself to be in the will of God, by allowing atrocities to go on around me, while I sat patiently waiting for them to be finished.  I wouldn’t act out of a sense of self-preservation, but rather out of self-sacrifice, compassion, and love for the victims.  
While Bonhoeffer drew the line at killing.  He himself would not directly kill.  I would.  I would not do it lightly.  I don’t come to this conclusion with bravado or some egocentric notion of heroism.  I don’t have a Master’s degree or a Doctorate.  I am not a seminarian.  I am a Christian.  God has given me a functioning mind that can reason and think.  He has also given us His word and His Spirit.  It is our obligation as Christians to think deeply and honestly about this topic.  We should not take it lightly, nor should we lack grace for brothers with a different strongly held conviction on this topic.

Reformed Baptist vs Southern Baptist debate on exegesis of Romans 9.

I just spent almost 3 hours listening to an SBC Pastor Dr. Flowers, make a terrible showing against Dr. James White. The debate topic was supposed to be two different exegesis of the text of Romans 9. Dr. White started out by giving his exegesis of Romans 9. Then Dr. Flowers came out with a polemic sermon against several doctrines of Calvinism, without exegeting Romans 9. It was ridiculous. Yet there are no doubt, people thinking that Dr. Flowers did well. He kept using analogies, and homespun parables instead of actually interacting with the text. He would also go out of Romans 9 to impose other ideas on the text. He was practicing eisegeses not exegesis. I was very annoyed. I wanted to see someone honestly offer and logically consistent and Biblically consistent alternative exegesis, but instead it was an ambush, a gothca. I expected better from someone with Dr. in front of their name. Here is the debate if you’d like to watch or listen to it.