A Brief Condescension to James White on the Topic of Rosaria Butterfield

con·de·scend (kŏn′dĭsĕnd′) intr.v. to lower oneself…

James White’s “church,” Apologia, is reeling from a controversy revolving around its secret recording of clergy-penitent conversations and their anonymous release on YouTube against their critics. James White defended Apologia’s actions in a video late last week. Since then, dozens of Apologia church members, former members, former leaders, and Phoenix-area pastors have come forward with their own stories about Apologia’s “hard shepherding” practices of secret recordings and retaliation.

We will be publishing these testimonies.

In no uncertain terms, I believe James’ defense of this cult-like behavior of his fellow elders is disqualifying from the pastorate. I am choosing to condescend to James White on the issue of Rosaria Butterfield only momentarily, as I believe his constant attention to the subject is a purposeful smokescreen to distract his followers from the fact that his church is burning down around him.

Brevity is a Friend of Honesty

James White’s lengthy Facebook diatribes in defense of the indefensible when it comes to Rosaria Butterfield are virtual tomes, a “victory by volume” approach to apologetics that mirrors the strategy I’ve opined about before in relation to theonomists who considered many words a substitute for sound arguments.

Believing Diane Gaskins’ article exposing Rosaria Butterfield as nothing short of Sam Allberry in a skirt, I am able to do what James White is incapable…be brief.

First, James White’s caricature of us as “fundamentalists” will go unchallenged.

I care not that a man with a tattoo sleeve who brags that a Jesuit’s endorsement is on his book (as he did in his last podcast) calls me a “fundamentalist.” I am only saddened that a supposed Reformed Baptist uses such a term as a pejorative. I have called myself that term in the post Confessions of a Calvinist Fundamentalist and embrace it proudly. May the Lord bless him, despite his attacks on sincere and steadfast brothers who are pigeon-holed by their faithfulness.

Secondly, James White claims that Butterfield only gave abominable references in a ‘bibliography.’ This is untrue. She recommends them as resources and favorably cites them.

This is James White’s way of complaining about separating in a godly way from heretics, which his endorsement of Michael Brown as “a fine Christian brother” proves he is unwilling to do. What he considers a virtue, we consider a vice, and that chasm seems to have no bridge across.

White claims in his lengthy diatribes that Butterfield’s pointing to occultists and gay Romanists throughout her book amounts to just an innocent “bibliography at the end of her book.”

In the clearest possible terms, White is being intellectually dishonest. Not only does Rosaria preface arguments using these heretics as references for her position, but it is not a bibliography at the end of her book, but “Recommended Reading.”

The fact is, most of the books in the “Recommended Reading” are not in the text of the book itself at all, or even referenced. It is not a bibliography. Butterfield promotes books in a “Recommended Reading” list at the end of her books, separate from those cited, as a matter of practice in her writing.

For whether or not it is acceptable to recommend (not to mention, to favorably cite) queer theologians, gay priests, and occultic experts in witchcraft, I leave it up to the reader to make a judgment. One thing is for certain, James White is dishonest on this point (which he seems intent on making repeatedly).

Third, James White’s Facebook posts are random, chaotic, and use too many words to convey too few discernible points.

If an argument is to have a thoughtful response, it must first be thoughtfully made. I am glad that White considers Gaskins to be worth a response, but unfortunately, we cannot reciprocate. Most of what White blathered on about was much ado about nothing at all. One post, for example, went on a lengthy diatribe against King James Onlyists, which no one at our publication is, and neither is this controversy about.

White has complained about the photos selected for him by the Bible Thumping Wingnut Podcast Network, when they upload Polemics Report episodes to their website. We simply do not know how or why to respond to such vanity.

The rest of White’s arguments, at least those that are coherent, seem intent on killing Mrs. Gaskins by a thousand paper cuts, not one of which alone could even break the skin.

We simply do not have the time to respond to the kind of sub-intellectual faux-arguments presented by White in his Facebook posts. We would respond more fully if he wrote something worth a response.

Finally, White’s position was chosen before he heard our arguments against Butterfield. Whatever defense he provides is not only strained but is a foregone conclusion and a sad example of ‘digging in.’

White chose to defend Butterfield before he was aware of the substance of Mrs. Gaskins’ arguments. I’m convinced he made the defenses before reading Butterfield’s last book, and his Facebook posts seem to indicate that he’s still yet reading it.

White is quickly struggling to come up with an argument to support what was already his foregone conclusion: Butterfield is good, Pulpit & Pen is bad, and somehow I must find an argument to support my conclusion.

White’s defenses have been shallow, strained, and vainglorious examples of a partiality-of-personality run amok. He has written much but said little. Gaskins’ careful work has gone untouched by White, who has been content to complain about us in his personal feud rather than addressing the substance of Mrs. Gaskins’ concerns.

James White is acting beneath himself. We have no desire or need to assist him in the matter.

[Editor’s Note: Contributed by JD Hall]



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