Saturday, December 12, 2009

James White and the Manhattan Declaration

I have not been over to James White’s AOMIN site in awhile; so, while sipping my freshly brewed (and ground) Italian roast coffee, I thought I would take a peek.

It comes as no surprise that James is using the “Manhattan Declaration” as a platform for his anti-Catholic polemics. In his 12-10-09 thread, Sproul, Colson, and You, on the Manhattan Declaration, his polemic begins with a sweeping charge leveled at Chuck Colson:

Once again we see that for Charles Colson, the gospel is no longer a part of "the faith" that he refuses to compromise. That is, "the faith" has been boiled down to a skeleton of basic beliefs (Trinity, resurrection) that can unite varied and disparate religious traditions into one big (and politically powerful) group. This Least Common Denominator (LCD) form of "Christianity" is what is needed, evidently, to "revitalize the church in America." I cannot help but shake my head in disbelief as someone promotes a gospel-less Christianity and says this is what the church needs to be "revitalized" today. But it is truly a matter for deep concern that Mr. Colson believes this document is a "form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith." How can this gospel-less document be a catechism for anything other than cultural Christianity?

IMO, James has completely missed the nature/focus of MD: it is primarily a cultural, societal, political document; yet with that said, this does not make it “gospel-less”. Note the following from St. Paul’s pen (written under inspiration):

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. (1 Tim. 1:8-11.)

James then made this statement:

Without the gospel, you cannot change hearts and minds.

Amen!!! But what is “the gospel”? My threads on JUSTIFICATION and SOTERIOLOGY raise some serious concerns as to whether or not James really understands what “the gospel” is.

Further, if one grants to James that his understanding of “the gospel” is without error, one then cannot ignore the many questions which have been brought to light in MATTHEW HECKEL’S ESSAY, “Is R.C. Sproul Wrong About About Luther? An Analysis of R.C. Sproul’s Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification with Respect to Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Catholic Luther Scholarship.”

And lastly, James’ statement is a bit confusing, for James is a 5-point Calvinist. Is it not the Calvinist teaching that an unregenerate heart cannot accept/respond to “the gospel”; that God regenerates the heart so that one can/will accept/embrace “the gospel”?

Grace and peace,



Gaetano said...

Isn't James White's pushing this so hard undermining his own tradition's notion of "common grace" and "general revelation"?

Paul Hoffer said...

I agree with your sentimentws here Dave. Frankly, the rants of Professor White and others of a similar religious bent about Protestants who signed this odious document with "gasp" Catholics and Orthodox reminds me of the attitude of the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Lk. 18:9-14) more than anything that Christ taught. I wonder if he refuses as well to eat at a restaurant where Catholics frequent or shop at a store owned by a Catholic or drink from a fountain because a Catholio might have polluted it with his touch based on similar criteria.

I still scratch my head as to what Mr. White finds objectionable about the statement itself. Perhaps I am just dense but surely he has to be objecting to more than the statement calling Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Considering that he believes in the notion that there is no such thing as a visible Church as God 'elected' to save a few folks and 'elected' to damn the rest irrespective of denominational affiliation, it is sort of odd that he would care about what people call themselves. It is plain by 1 Peter 4:15 that a Christian is whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. To my knowledge, I do not know of any Orthodox or Catholics who do not so confess.

Moreover, Professor White's statement, "Without the gospel, you cannot change hearts and minds" is puzzling too. Who is the 'you' here? Is James White suggesting that he is some sort of mediator between God and men. Is he suggesting that he has the ability to change hearts and minds here using the Gospel as an aid? As a Catholic, I was taught that God alone does that. The hearts and minds of men can not be changed unless God gives us the grace to do so first. Of course, such a notion is Catholic dogma which apparently Reformed Baptist folks like White ignore particularly since he still shameless promotes the virulent lie that Catholics believe in works-salvation. The fact that the Catholic Church could teach anything true is a possibility that he has never entertained in his bigoted worldview because in his mind, there can be no truth whatsoever in anything that the Catholic Church teaches. Why? Because if a Catholic believes it, it must be false.

I realize that what I have stated above about how White views Catholics might be a polemical rendering as opposed to something a bit more irenic but suffice it to say I believe that Professor White's view is downright silly and Pharisaical. And not scriptural either at least the way I understand Mk. 9:38-41.

God bless!

Convenor said...

It would be very kind if you could let your readers know about the December issue of our twice-yearly journal 'CHRISTVS REGNAT':

You are most welcome to link to/follow/blogroll our blog:

Please pray for me!

God bless you!

St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association (Ireland)

James Bellisario said...

One has to wonder whether or not Dr. White would stand with a Catholic to stop any heinous crime. It is obvious that White would rather let innocent babies die rather than to protest the crime with a Catholic. How sad indeed.

David Waltz said...

Hi Matt,

Wow, a bit of a ‘busy’ weekend…

You wrote:

>>Isn't James White's pushing this so hard undermining his own tradition's notion of "common grace" and "general revelation"?>>

An excellent point; and when one adds the issue of “common grace” to the exhortations of St. Paul in the passage from 1 Tim. I quoted, James’ stance against signing the MD becomes quite dudious (IMO).

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hi Paul,

Some insightful reflections; I don’t have much to add, except to say that the passage you mentioned from the Gospel of Mark is worth quoting:

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:38-41 – KJV)

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hello Matthew,

You posted:

>> One has to wonder whether or not Dr. White would stand with a Catholic to stop any heinous crime. It is obvious that White would rather let innocent babies die rather than to protest the crime with a Catholic. How sad indeed.>>

Your point(s) are certainly germane; and since I cannot read James’ mind on such issues, I too am left wondering…

Grace and peace,


BillZuck said...


One should note that in traditional protestant doctrine the word of God comes in two forms the law and the Gospel. The law applies to all men, the gospel only to believers. While in Catholicism marriage is a sacrament, in protestantism it is simply a creation ordinance. The complaint by the evangelicals that the Manhatten Declaration compromises the Gospel would seem to run afoul of standard protestant doctrine.

Bill Zuck

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