In his response to my e-mail on the latest edition of Outside the Camp (www.outsidethecamp.org/jameswhite.htm), James White wrote sarcastically:
"Your kindness and the fact that your theology is so attractive and evidences the Spirit so strongly I am sure will be noted by your six or seven readers."
Without the sarcasm, this means, "You're unkind and I'm kind. Your theology is unattractive and mine is attractive. You do not evidence the Spirit and I evidence the Spirit. You have very few readers and I have tons of readers."
Let us focus mainly on James White's view that his theology is "attractive." Since his theology is "attractive," it follows that he has more people who agree with him. He sees this as a positive thing and as proof that he is right. Notice what he said in "Hyper Calvinism Revisited":
"I suppose there is one thing that is good about exposing these people: their numbers do not grow. There is nothing attractive in hyper-Calvinism."
As I have shown in the latest edition of Outside the Camp, I am far from being a Hyper-Calvinist. But notice White's emphasis. It is on being "attractive" and thus growing in numbers. To White, this is validation that he is on the right track -- that he is "attractive" enough to gain and increase a following. And thus, to White, if there are very few who agree with a person (because that person's theology is unattractive), that invalidates the person's theology. His standard is attractiveness and numbers. Since this is his standard, then, if he were consistent, he would have to say that the biggest "churches" in America are on the right track, since they are very attractive, as evidenced by their immense numbers. Thus, according to the standard of attractiveness and numbers, the "ministries" of people like Bill Hybels, Robert Schuller, and Joel Osteen must be right on -- and must be more right on than the "ministries" that attract fewer people.
But we who are of Christ have a different standard. Our standard is the Word of God. Let us look into what the Bible says about attractiveness and numbers.
First, let us look at attractiveness:
"And I heard the voice of Jehovah, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said, Behold me. Send me! And He said, Go and say to this people, Hearing you hear, but do not understand; and seeing you see, but do not know. Make the heart of this people fat, and make his ears heavy, and shut his eyes, that he not see with his eyes, and hear with his ears, and understand with his heart, and turn back, and one heals him. Then I said, Until when, O Lord? And He said, Until cities lie desolate without [one] living [in them], and the houses without man, and the land is laid waste, a desolation; and [until] Jehovah has sent mankind far away, and the desolation in the midst of the land [is] great. But yet a tenth [shall be] in it, and [it] shall return and be consumed like the terebinth and like the oak that in being felled [yet has] its stump (the holy seed [is] its stump)." (Isaiah 6:8-13)
"And the Word of Jehovah was to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see an almond rod. Then Jehovah said to me, You have seen well; for I will watch over My Word to perform it. And the Word of Jehovah [came] to me the second time, saying, What do you see? And I said, I see a boiling pot; and its face [is] from the face of the north. And Jehovah said to me, Out of the north, evil will be set loose on all those living in the land. For, behold, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, declares Jehovah. And they shall come, and they will give to each his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against its walls all around, and against the cities of Judah. And I will speak My judgments against them regarding all their evil, [those] who have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods, and have worshiped the works of their hands. And you must gird up your loins, and rise up and speak to them all that I command you. Do not be terrified before their faces, that I not prostrate you before them. For, behold, today I have made you a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against her princes, against her priests, and to the people of the land. And they shall fight against you; but they shall not overcome you. For I [am] with you to deliver you, declares Jehovah." (Jeremiah 1:4-19)
And He said to me, Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to the nations, the rebelling ones who have rebelled against Me. They and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this day. And the sons are stiff of face and hard of heart. I am sending you to them. And you shall say to them, So says the Lord Jehovah. And they, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear (for they are a rebellious house), yea, they shall know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them and of their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are with you, and though you are living among scorpions. Do not be afraid of their words, and do not be frightened by their faces, though they are a house of rebellion. And you shall speak My Words to them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, hear what I am saying to you. Do not be like that rebellious house of rebellion. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving to you. And I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me. And behold, a roll of a book was in it. And He spread it before me, and it was written on the face and the back. And written on it were weepings, and mourning, and woe. And He said to me, Son of man, eat what you find. Eat this roll, and go speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and He made me eat that roll. And He said to me, Son of man, make your belly eat, and fill your bowels with the roll, this that I give to you. And I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey for sweetness. And He said to me, Son of man, Go! Come to the house of Israel and speak with My Words to them. For you are not sent to a people of deep lip and difficult of language, but to the house of Israel; not to many peoples of deep lip and of a difficult language, whose words you cannot hear. If I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to Me, for all the house of Israel are strong of forehead and hard of heart. Behold, I have made your face strong over against their faces, and your forehead strong over against their foreheads. I have made your forehead as an adamant harder than flint. Do not fear them, and do not be frightened by their faces, though they are a house of rebellion. And He said to me, Son of man, all My Words which I speak to you, receive into your heart, and hear with your ears. And go! Come to the exiles, to the sons of your people, and speak to them, and say to them, So says the Lord Jehovah, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. And the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a sound of a great tumult, saying, Blessed be the glory of Jehovah from His place! And there was the sound of the wings of the living creatures touching each one to the other, and the sound of the wheels along with them, and the sound of a great tumult. So the Spirit lifted me up and took me, and I went bitterly in the heat of my spirit, but the hand of Jehovah was strong upon me. Then I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, those dwelling by the river Chebar. And I sat there where they were sitting. I also dwelt there seven days, being benumbed among them. And it happened at the end of the seven days, even it happened that the Word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. And hear the Word of My mouth, and warn them from Me. In My saying to the wicked, Dying you shall die; and you do not warn him, and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, he, the wicked, shall die in his iniquity. But I will require his blood at your hand. And you, because you have warned the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his way, he, the wicked, shall die in his iniquity. But you have delivered your soul. And when the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die. Since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered. But I will require his blood at your hand. But you, because you warned him, the righteous, so that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, living he shall live because he is warned. And you have delivered your soul." (Ezekiel 2:3-3:21)
Was the message that Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel were sent by God to preach an attractive message? Did it serve to make people agree with or like Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, to make the numbers grow? What was the indication that Isaiah's and Jeremiah's and Ezekiel's preaching was a success? A consistent James White would have to come down on Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and even God Himself: "What, God? The preaching is meant to make the people's hearts fat, to make their ears heavy, and to shut their eyes? To expose their idolatry and bring judgment? What kinds of a preachers are you, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel? I don't see the numbers around you. You're not attracting people. You're angering them. They want to kill you. You know, if you were more kind, less harsh, manifested the fruits of the Spirit, you'd see that your message would be more attractive, and you would have many more people be receptive to your message."
And how about Jesus Christ? Was His message attractive?
"And coming near, the disciples said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables? And answering, He said to them, Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but it has not been given to those. For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have overabundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. Because of this, I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled on them, which says, In hearing you will hear and in no way understand, and seeing you will see yet in no way perceive. For the heart of this people has grown fat, and they heard heavily with the ears, and they have closed their eyes, that they not see with the eyes, or hear with the ears, and understand with the heart, and be converted, and I heal them." (Matthew 13:10-15)
What?? That's the reason Jesus Christ spoke to the people in parables? That's just the opposite of what the fashionable preachers out there are saying! They say that Jesus spoke in parables to put the truths in story form so that the people would understand it better! But Jesus Christ said it is so they would NOT understand. And what of all Christ's preaching against the highly esteemed religious leaders of the day? A consistent James White would have to say to Jesus Christ, "What, Jesus? The preaching is meant to make the people's hearts fat, to make their ears heavy, and to shut their eyes? To expose their idolatry and bring judgment? What kinds of a preacher are you, Jesus? I don't see the numbers around you. You're not attracting people. You're angering them. They want to kill you. You know, if you were more kind, less harsh, manifested the fruits of the Spirit, you'd see that your message would be more attractive, and you would have many more people be receptive to your message."
"Then coming, the disciples said to Him, You know that hearing the Word, the Pharisees were offended?" (Matthew 15:12)
Gasp! Didn't Jesus know that the Pharisees were offended at the Word? Where's the kindness? Where are the fruits of the Spirit?
"Then everyone who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in Heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny him before My Father in Heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to divide a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a bride against her mother-in-law. [Ones] hostile [to] the man [shall be] those of his [own] house. The [one] loving father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And the [one] loving son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. The [one] finding his life shall lose it. And the [one] losing his life on account of Me shall find it." (Matthew 10:32-39)
Oh, would a consistent James White have a time with this one! "What kind of words are these, Jesus? These are just inflammatory. They're not gentle. They're not attractive. You're saying you didn't come to bring peace but to make enemies within households? Now that's not going to go over well, Jesus. People aren't going to like you for that. Isn't your goal to increase your followers? With that kind of talk, you're going to turn them all away."
"Blessed [are] they who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they shall reproach you, and persecute [you], and shall say every evil word against you, lying, on account of Me. Rejoice and leap for joy, for your reward is great in Heaven; for in this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)
"Woe to you when all men speak well [of] you, for their fathers did according to these things to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26)
What?? What would a consistent James White say of these things? "No, Jesus, you have it all upside down and backwards. It is an evidence that a person is BLESSED when all men speak well of him, because that shows that his theology is attractive and that he is being kind and evidences the Spirit. It is an evidence that he is WRONG when he doesn't have large numbers of people who agree with him and who like him. It is an evidence that he is WRONG when he is persecuted, reproached, slandered, and made fun of. It shows that his theology isn't attractive."
Now let's see some passages on numbers:
"Jehovah did not set His love on you or choose you because you were more in number than any people, for you [were] the fewest of all peoples." (Deuteronomy 7:7)
"And Jerubbaal (he [is] Gideon) rose early, and all the people with him. And they camped by the spring of Harod, and the army of Midian was north of him on Mount Moreh, in the valley. And Jehovah said to Gideon, The people with you [are] too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, that Israel not glorify itself against Me, saying, My hand has delivered me. And now then, cry in the ears of the people, saying, Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and leave Mount Gilead. And twenty two thousand of the people returned. And ten thousand were left. And Jehovah said to Gideon, The people are still [too] many. Bring them down to the water, and I will refine them for you there. And it shall be, [he of] whom I say to you, this one shall go with you, he shall go with you. And any of whom I shall say to you, This one shall not go with you, he shall not go. And he brought the people down to the water. And Jehovah said to Gideon, Everyone who laps of the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set him apart. And everyone who bows on his knees to drink, [set apart]. And the number of those lapping with their hand to their mouth [was] three hundred men. And all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water. And Jehovah said to Gideon, I will deliver you by the three hundred men who lapped, and shall give Midian into your hand. And all the people shall go, each to his place. And the people took the food in their hand, and their rams' horns; and he sent away every man of Israel, each to his tent. But he kept hold on the three hundred men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. And it happened on that night, Jehovah said to him, Rise up, go down to the camp, for I have given it into your hand." (Judges 7:1-9)
"Except Jehovah of Hosts had left a remnant for us, a few, we would be as Sodom; we would be as Gomorrah." (Isaiah 1:9)
"And it shall be in that day, the remnant of Israel, and the escaped ones from the house of Jacob, shall not any more lean on him who struck him. But they will truly lean on Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel. The remnant shall return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though Your people Israel is like the sand of the sea, [only] a remnant of it shall return; a decisive end, overflowing [with] righteousness." (Isaiah 10:20-22)
"For so says Jehovah, Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the head of the nations. Cry out, give praise and say, O Jehovah, save Your people, the remnant of Israel." (Jeremiah 31:7)
"In those days, and at that time, states Jehovah, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and it is not; and the sins of Judah, and they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant." (Jeremiah 50:20)
"I will also leave a poor and weak people in your midst, and they shall trust in the name of Jehovah. The remnant of Israel shall not do injustice, nor speak lies. And a deceitful tongue shall not be found in their mouth. For they shall feed and lie down, and no one shall frighten [them]." (Zephaniah 3:12-13)
"The burden of the Word of Jehovah against the land of Hadrach, and its resting place, Damascus, (when the eye of man, and all the tribes of Israel [shall be] toward Jehovah), and Hamath also borders on it; Tyre and Sidon, though [they are] very wise. And Tyre shall build a fortress for herself, and shall pile up silver like the dust, and gold like the mud of the streets. Behold! The Lord will expel her, and He will strike her wealth in the sea, and she shall be consumed with fire. Ashkelon shall see and fear; Gaza also shall writhe in great pain; and Ekron shall be ashamed for her hope. And the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth. But the remnant, even he, [shall be] for our God. And he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron, like a Jebusite. And I will camp around My house from an army, from one passing by, and from one returning. And an oppressor shall not pass through them again. For now I have seen with My eyes. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! He is righteous and being victorious, humble, and riding on an ass, even on a colt, the son of an ass." (Zechariah 9:1-9)
"As also He says in Hosea, I will call those Not My people, My people! And those not beloved, Beloved! And it shall be, in the place where it was said to them, You are not My people, there they will be called, Sons of the Living God. But Isaiah cries on behalf of Israel, If the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. For [He is] bringing [the] matter to an end, and having been cut short in righteousness, because [the] Lord will do a thing cut short on the earth. And as Isaiah has said before, Except [the] Lord of hosts left a seed to us, we would have become as Sodom, and we would have become as Gomorrah." (Romans 9:25-29)
"So then, also in the present time a remnant according to election of grace has come into being." (Romans 11:5)
It's plain that to judge by numbers is to be carnally minded.
"Go in through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are the ones entering in through it. For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life, and few are the ones finding it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
A consistent James White would have to say, "The reason few are finding it is because your message is so unattractive! Just spend a little time consulting with me about how to bring in the numbers, and we can have this all turned around! You and me together, we'll make it so it's the broad way that leads to life and the narrow way that leads to destruction. Wouldn't that be more positive? And don't tell people that the way is narrow -- you'll just turn people off. And the more people you turn off, the more it shows that your ministry isn't really a valid one."
The following passage encapsulates what the "popularity" and "numbers" approach is all about:
"For a time will be when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own lusts, they will heap up to themselves teachers tickling the ear; and [they] will turn away the ear from the truth and will be turned aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Who are the popular preachers? Who are the preachers with the numbers? Who are the preachers with the attractive theology? They are the ones whose audiences DO NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE and HEAP UP to themselves teachers who TICKLE THEIR EARS. It would be easy enough for me to get the crowds. All I would have to do would be to tell the people what they want to hear -- to speak peace to them when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). And to James White, that would legitimize my ministry, since my theology would become "attractive."
Lastly, here is a response to what White calls "kindness" and things that "evidence the Spirit.":
"For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in [this]: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, Walk in [the] Spirit, and you will not fulfill [the] lust of [the] flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another; lest whatever you may will, these things you do. But if you are led by [the] Spirit, you are not under Law. Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit [the] kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Against such things there is not a law. But the ones belonging to Christ crucified the flesh with [its] passions and lusts. If we live in [the] Spirit, let us also walk in [the] Spirit. Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:14-26)
We most certainly need to heed this passage. But are we guilty of not being kind and not manifesting the fruit of the Spirit when we say what we do about the self-righteous religionists (including James White)? Let us take a look at what the Bible says.
Just two verses before the Galatians 5:14-26 passage, Paul says that he wishes that the professing Christians who brought in a false gospel would literally emasculate themselves (cut off their private parts). Was the Apostle Paul guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he said this? Was this an attractive message?
Was Paul guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he called certain people haters of God (Romans 1:30), fools (1 Corinthians 15:36) accursed (Galatians 1:8-9), dogs (Philippians 3:2), liars (1 Timothy 1:10) and bastards (Hebrews 12:8)? Was this an attractive message?
Was John the Baptist guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he called certain people vipers (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7)? Was this an attractive message?
Was Jesus Christ guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he called certain people hypocrites (Matthew 6:2,5; 7:5; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13,14,15,23,25,27,29; Mark 7:6; Luke 6:42; 11:44; 12:56; 13:15), vipers (Matthew 12:34; 23:33), dogs (Matthew 7:6; Revelation 22:15); swine (Matthew 7:6), children of hell (Matthew 23:15), fools (Matthew 23:17,19; Luke 11:40; 12:20; 24:25), blind (Matthew 15:14; 23:16,17,19,24,26; Revelation 3:17), serpents (Matthew 23:33), of their father the devil (John 8:44), liars (John 8:55; Revelation 2:2), and a synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9)? Was this an attractive message?
Was James guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he called certain people adulterers and adulteresses and enemies of God (James 4:4)? Was this an attractive message?
Was David guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he called certain people fools (Psalm 14:1; 53:1; 92:6; 94:8; 107:17), brutish men (Psalm 92:6), and haters of God (Psalm 21:8; 68:1; 83:2; 139:21)? Was this an attractive message?
Was Isaiah guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he called certain people fools (Isaiah 19:11), brutish (Isaiah 19:11), blind (Isaiah 56:10), dogs (Isaiah 56:10,11), seed of the adulterer and whore (Isaiah 57:3)? Was this an attractive message?
Was Jeremiah guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he called certain people liars (Jeremiah 50:36) and said they had a whore's forehead (Jeremiah 3:3)? Was this an attractive message?
Ezekiel likened those religionists who spoke peace to and fellowshipped with and worshipped with idolaters to fornicators , adulteresses, prostitutes, and whores. He said that they prostituted themselves, spread their legs to all who passed by, multiplied their fornications, played the whore, poured out their lewdness, and bared their nakedness in their fornication (Ezekiel 16). Was Ezekiel guilty of being unkind and not evidencing the Spirit when he said these things? Was this an attractive message?
Of course, the answer is that NONE of these people were guilty of being unkind or not evidencing the Spirit when they said and did these things. In fact, they are examples to us as to what we are to say, especially to the self-righteous religionists, whom most of these words in the Bible are describing. Let James White and all preachers like him preach their attractive theology to all the minions of God-haters whose ears are tickled by them. Let the numbers of those who desire to have their ears tickled serve to validate his ministry. Let him continue to ridicule the ones who are speaking the unpopular truth. He and his friends are on the broad road that leads to destruction, and many there are who are on that road -- from the irreligious and unconcerned to the moral religionists of every stripe. As we who believe the gospel walk the narrow road that leads to life, let us continue to proclaim the truth and expose the lies of the self-righteous religionists like James White and rejoice that we are deemed worthy to be dishonored on behalf of His name (Acts 5:41).
"For the Word of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, [it] is [the] power of God. For it has been written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the understanding ones. Where [is the] wise? Where [the] scribe? Where [the] lawyer of this world? Did God not make the wisdom of this world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world [by] wisdom did not know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save the ones believing. And since Jews ask for a sign, and Greeks seek wisdom, we, on the other hand, preach Christ crucified (truly an offense to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks), but to the called out ones, both to Jews and to Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God; because the foolish thing of God is wiser [than men], and the weak thing of God is stronger [than] men. For you see your calling, brothers, that [there are] not many wise according to flesh, nor many powerful, not many wellborn. But God chose the foolish things of the world that the wise might be put to shame, and God chose the weak things of the world so that He might put to shame the strong things. And God chose the low-born of the world, and the despised, and the things that are not, so that He might bring to nothing the things that are, so that no flesh might glory in His presence. But of Him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, both righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that even as it has been written, He that glories, let him glory in [the] Lord. And when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with excellency of word or wisdom, declaring to you the Testimony of God. For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and Him having been crucified." (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2)
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter