Transcript of James White's Eight-Minute Rant About My Supposed Profound Ignorance, on His Dividing Line Webcast (4-20-04)
Saturday, June 12, 2004
I will reproduce White's words in the following partial transcript of this show (which I downloaded last night), with some commentary of my own (in blue), where matters of simple factuality need to be clarified. I use brackets ( [ ] ) to indicate laughter, etc., on James' part. His words speak loudly and clearly for themselves, and are self-refuting.
The one-hour broadcast (MP3 format) is available for purchase for $1.00 at White's website. To get right to the "commentary" on yours truly, go to the 1:59 mark. It runs till approximately 10:45 (almost nine minutes). The text below is a complete, absolutely unedited transcript for this portion of the show. All italics represent White's own frequent emphasizing of words:
Those of you who have been following the blog, uh [laughter], just, I don't know, what do you do with someone like Dave Armstrong, you know? I mean, really, it is a question that you face, because, just simply by being out there, I mean, uh, if you read his materials, he's very very high on himself and, uh, makes sure that you know how many books he's written.
Simply advertising one's books (I am in full-time ministry, after all, have to support a wife and four children, and don't get all the speakers' fees that White receives) is automatically arrogant? If so, then James is far more arrogant than I am; his books are all over his website.
Of course, they're vanity published,
This amounts to a baldfaced lie. I have exactly one book in print that is "vanity published," by 1stBooks Library -- now AuthorHouse -- and that is More Biblical Evidence for Catholicism. A Biblical Defense of Catholicism was published a year ago by Sophia Institute Press, a very reputable Catholic publisher which deals with mostly classics. It is rated at a 39,026 sales rank on amazon.com today, whereas White's The God Who Justifies, published at about the same time (by Bethany House) as my preliminary publishing of my first book, is at a 96,191 rank. My second book with Sophia, entitled, The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants, will be coming out this very month. Dr. White knows this because I dealt with one of his own arguments in the book, and informed him of it; even offered to include his reply in the book. I have written all the notes for the Catholic Answer Bible, published by Our Sunday Visitor, the largest Catholic publisher (61,832 sales rank on amazon today). I wrote one of eleven conversion stories in Surprised by Truth, which has sold some 200,000 copies and was the biggest Catholic bestseller after the Catechism (20,554 on amazon, after almost ten years); not to mention numerous articles in all the major apologetic magazines, and appearances on two nationally-syndicated Catholic talk shows. This is hardly merely "vanity" publishing, but it's a great-sounding one-line lie, and put-down, isn't it?
but how many books he's written, and uh, you read the top of his page, and it's [mocking tone] exegesis and history and apologetics and philosophy and all this stuff, and you know, in your heart of hearts, that this fella, uh, bless his soul, has no idea what he's talking about. He's read some books, but the important foundational stuff that allows you to actually make sense out of all that stuff, he's clueless; he has no idea what he is talking about, but he writes constantly!
Why, then, has Dr. White, challenged me to debate him live some 5-6 times now, through the years (from as far back as 1995 -- and he was insulting me back then already, just as he does now), if my thought is so utterly worthless? Does he seek out the very worst opponents he can find? What does that make him, then?
I mean, he must live on two hours of sleep and must type at 130 words a minute. That's the only way that you could possibly produce the kind of verbosity, uh, that he produces. So what do you do? Cuz, it's sorta, sort of; it's really disturbing to me, uh, that I hear from people, and they go, "well, well, whaddya think about what he said about this?" And I sorta, I sorta; I, it's really hard for me to go, "well, have you really thought about, you know, the foundation of this argument, and the background of this argument?" People need to learn how to examine argumentation! And see through fluff! Uh, see through stuff that shouldn't even be called an argument; it's complimenting it way too much to call it an argument! And [sigh] it's just, how do you deal with folks like that?
I mean, uh, you know, he posts this horrific image of me, with an arrow sticking out of my head; blood everywhere, and tries to say, well [mocking, derisive tone] "you had that Angel cartoon about Patrick Madrid and you were stoning him!" Actually, you know, I think Patrick, not only, since he's in Envoy Magazine and they use cartoons all the time, but I think he would be, he -- if you really got him on an honest moment -- he would have to admit that that's one of the best caricatures of himself he's ever seen. I mean, he looks good in that! He really does! He looks better than, well, I think I look alright in mine, too, but he looks good! He looks really good. There's no arrow sticking out of his head. There's no blood anywhere. And everyone knows that it was a part of the debate
that we specifically talked about whether Moses would have stoned you, had you used this kind of argumentation.
Whether someone "looks good" or not is absolutely irrelevant. I looked good in mine; this Angel is a very talented caricaturist (as I have already said several times), and I love visual caricatures. The point we objected to was the message being sent. White tried to deny that his caricatures had even a "hint" of violence. I think most people would say that stoning is more than a "hint" -- with all due respect to White's awesome argumentative prowess. Thoughts conveyed in these pieces go beyond what is literally portrayed. In less than a second, the nine or so rocks being flung at Pat's head would bash his brains out (there would even be -- GASP!!!! -- blood!!!!). It would not be a pretty sight. White literally believes that Catholic practices and dogmas would have merited such capital punishment under Mosaic law (in this, he simply follows Calvin; it is no new charge). That's far more ugly and offensive than anything I've done. The artistic quality is not at issue; it is the lies promulgated in these caricatures which are troublesome.
[Richard Pierce, President of White's Alpha and Omega Ministries] He looks better than Spurgeon did in the one with Dave Hunt.
Well, uh, but see, now Spurgeon was just a background thing there. I think . . .
[Pierce] Well, he's also being strangled.
[laughter] He was not being strangled; he had a gag in his mouth, but
uh, uh, no, I mean, he really looks good! This; I'm sorry, but Mr. Armstrong's artist isn't an artist. He has no; he shouldn't be doing what he's doing, okay? He's not good at this. Angel is a professional. He knows what he's doing, and he's good at it, and he's making a point. There's no point in anything Mr. Armstrong, in his disgusting little graphic, has produced. But he's got a new one; I mentioned last night on the blog, he's got a new one; they took the blood off. [laughter] It's still the same thing, and [laughter] if anyone's . . . do you know what they could have done, and this is so simple; this would have actually maybe communicated something. And it might have been funny.
But they blew it. Uh, what they could have done, is, if you look at my graphic, the one that's on my blog, the first one that Angel did for me, do you notice something about those little arrows? They're little play arrows. They have the little rubber suction cup on the end. If they had just taken the Roman Catholic one, with a suction cup and stuck it to my forehead. No blood, and then just slightly change, the, uh, visual of the face, to one of surprise or "duh" or something like that, it might have been funny! It might have actually, you know, maybe you coulda made a point with it or something.
I totally agree -- though my long, sad, experience with White gives me no reason whatsoever to believe that he would ever find anything having to do with him "funny" --, which is why I withdrew the original counter-caricature after all of three hours, and apologized for the offense that the blood caused. I wrote very candidly on my blog, that I would have preferred a caricature (I can't draw, myself) almost exactly like what White describes. But you would never know all that, listening to White's extended ad hominem attack on his webcast. Furthermore, White denied that our caricature made any point at all. It was obvious what the point was, and this is proven by White's comments above. He knows what we were trying to say (nothing complicated; it was simply a take-off of his caricature, with our "arrow" hitting its mark; no rocket science here . . .).
But he couldn't see past the blood; he wouldn't acknowledge my public apology and removal of the caricature, and he went beyond all that and accused me of hatred, using deliberately provocative, alarmist, hysterical, propagandistic adjectives like "Charlie-Mansonesque" and "Columbine" in describing our caricature (and he has the nerve to attack the low nature of political discussion, below?! LOL). It is Dr. White, not I, who emerges from this mostly unnecessary controversy with all the mud on his face. He is still obliged as a Christian to extend forgiveness to me, as I apologized, and he knows full well that I did. For all the details on this tempest in a teapot, see my Anti-Catholicism Page, section for Dr. White. Our new cartoon there by Rhys Tuck (totally original), is a satirical comment on White's ludicrous sub-Christian-level behavior throughout this whole ridiculous fiasco. White, quite predictably, was not amused by it, but mocked it in a few sentences on his blog as the work of a childish mentality. Heaven forbid he would ever grasp any point or argument I ever make. Oh, sorry; I forgot that I am incapable of constructing any rational argument. Forgot my place there, for a second . . .
[Pierce] Yeah, but there's only one problem with that.
[Pierce] The problem is that it would have required him to have some original artistry.
[laughter] That's true!
[Pierce ] And I would like to point out that, as the President of the organization . . .
[Pierce] . . . [clears throat] at the bottom of the page where that appears . . .
It's got a little copyright there.
[Pierce] Copyright . . .
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[Pierce] So in fact, Mr. Armstrong had to steal it, and modify it.
Yeah, well, he's done that before, and I've pointed out to him that he shouldn't do that, but anyway, that's, that's, aaah, whatever. I'm not overly concerned about that.
I was unaware that it was (potentially) a violation of copyright law to do any parody of other work at all. Once I was made aware of that, I immediately removed even the second version of the caricature without the blood. White is concerned with far more than simply "stealing." He wouldn't even give me permission to post his own artist's caricature of himself that is permanently at the top of his blog.
Um, but I am, the point is, that would have been funny; that would have been, "oh, ha ha ha", coulda got a little chuckle about it, but the fact that Mr. Armstrong can't see what the first one was all about, and refuses to acknowledge, [mocking tone] "you know, that was really dumb to post that, that was . . ", you know, he just won't do that.
I won't? Why, then, did I remove it, apologize, and publicly comment that it is not the way I would have ideally done the caricature? Three hours! You would think it had been up for three years, with all the stink White has tried to create from this. What I opposed mainly was White's refusal to let the issue drop, and accept my apology, and his absurd, groundless accusation that the caricature proved some sort of malicious hatred or contempt on my part. All this shows is that White either doesn't read my blog, even stuff concerning him, doesn't remember what he reads, or is deliberately lying about what has been discussed at extreme length on my blog. I allow plenty of criticism on my blog of myself -- and I get more about dealing with White than about any other subject -- but White's blog doesn't allow feedback, so he is immune from such trivialities.
That illustrates, then, what happened in my response to his writings. When you respond to him, and I don't know if anyone followed it, if they went to his blog -- we provided some of the links and stuff -- but, I went through, I provided, I quoted from his book, and then I quoted from the article I had written. And the whole point was to illustrate the difference in exegetical methodology. I have one. He doesn't. And he doesn't because he doesn't know the field. He's just; he doesn't know what he's doing! I mean, that would be like my trying to, to, write to a CPA and criticize uh, an audit that he's done on a major corporation. I'm not trained in that. I don't know the terminology. I don't know the basics, the foundational rules that you're supposed to do and why you put this in this ledger and why you put that -- I don't know that stuff. It's not my area, I; you can go to school and learn those things. Uh, but he hasn't done so.
And so, I just provided as an example. Well, he writes this response which has nothing to do with the text; it has nothing to do with exegesis; it just simply proves my point, but that's one of the things [mocking me] "see, he just ignores this." Well, okay, yeah, I did, because it wasn't worth responding to! I mean, it's just that bad! So, I did respond to it, after he said I wouldn't, and so I responded to it, demonstrated that it had no connection with reality whatsoever, it was really really bad, and his response to that was basically to accuse me of attacking him, and all the rest of this stuff, which for him means, I pointed out that he doesn't know what he is talking about.
[See the resulting paper: Comparative Exegesis of Hebrews 8 / Sacrifice of the Mass]
When do, where do you draw the line? I mean, it would be so much easier to just ignore all these people, but the problem is, we're one of those few folks that actually gets out there and we get our hands dirty. We actually take on these, these individuals, and show where the argumentation's bad, and you're gonna end up with dirt on your hands, and on your face, when you wallow with some of these folks, and we try to figure out where the line is. This guy [sigh], sadly, there are people who write recommendations of his stuff! I mean, you got Scott Hahn, all these folks, which amazes me. Uh, because you [laughter] look at some of his books, and it's just like "wow! there's just no substance here." It's just rattle rattle rattle rattle, and quote John Henry Cardinal Newman and that's the end of the subject. And there's no meaningful argumentation going on at all.
Where do you draw the line, because eventually, I have to trust that the people who are reading these things, and are concerned about these things can eventually go, "hey, wait a minute, that wasn't even a response; that's not even a meaningful argument," without my having to hold their hand and show that to them. But, sadly, in a postmodern world, where, for a lot of folks, if you can produce a response, and spell it right, that somehow means something. The view of logic, rationality, the ability to examine argumentation; let's face it, folks, listen to the political dialogue in our nation! There's not a whole lot of meaningful discussion going on there! And yet you get people all excited; you know, I could play my Howard Dean .wav [audio file] here, you know. [laughter] It's just like, "whoah!" People, people look at this kind of stuff and as long as your mouth is moving, somehow you're making a point! Instead of going, "you know what? That person didn't answer that question, either!, that person didn't answer that question, either," wow! you know, all the rest of that kind of stuff . . . it is, it is, it's a daily battle as to how to decide what you respond to and what you don't.
Well, on a much higher level; on a much much much higher level; uh, on a, on an extremely much higherly [sic] level [derisive laughter], . . .
Then White moved on to another subject.
[Both my words and White's will now be in black again; with his indented]
Of course, even White's fellow Protestants (even other Reformed folks) receive the same treatment when they disagree with him. For example, Presbyterian Kevin Johnson has recently often been the target of the same sort of derisive, condescending mentality from Dr. White (it ain't just me, folks, not by a long shot). On the very day I am posting this, White wrote about Kevin on his blog (6-12-04):
"Another Response from Johnson that falls below the level of warranting blog space."
I have provided the link (as White himself did) for the reader to decide if the material is worthless or not. Likewise, on 6-9-04, White wrote about Kevin Johnson:
I do not know if Mr. Johnson is just being difficult or just does not understand much of what I am saying, but it would be a great exercise in futility to go back over each of the many "no, you completely missed the entire point of what I just said" portions of his response.
And in a lengthy response to that which (of course) doesn't deserve any response (6-1-04), White replies in his usual condescending, patronizing manner, to Kevin:
One of the main problems with this new breed of "Reformed Catholicism" is that it uses lots of buzz phrases and flowery words that, in the real "space time world," mean nothing. I am reminded of the "ecclesiastical text" view that sounds so fine, but cannot answer a single textual question put to it.
. . . I simply refuse to follow you, for you cannot offer me the first meaningful biblical reason to follow you.
. . . Note the shift: The first statement is broad and general, as rCism always is; when challenged, now we look to particular incidents of failure. I know most of our readers can see that kind of false argumentation quickly, but some of those more heavily influenced by modern American "sound bite" thinking struggle to see it, hence I point it out.
. . . Have I "dismissed outright" Mr. Johnson's position, or have I demonstrated inconsistencies an identified those places where his argument is made up solely of his own ipse dixit? Let the reader decide.
. . . Mr. Johnson may wish to curb his enthusiasm for rCism and stop lumping everyone into a big pile and blasting them with the rC Mantra Gun in the future: it is hard to defend universals such as those that fill his statements (as documented before).
Further such examples could be multiplied indefinitely . . .