June 12, 2006

2 Peter 3:9 and James White's Blog

James White has decided to engage some of my arguments on 2 Peter 3:9 and the Letterhead Argument, for which I am thankful. However, he does not credit me for the expressions and arguments by name, or by linking to my blog where he found them. For this reason, I sent him the following email:

If you are going to lift words off of my blog and paste them on yours, I would like to be credited by name please. Give the source of my blog post on yours. I own the form of the expressions. Even if you think the words and arguments are complete trash, you need to credit me for speaking such nonsense.

It strikes me as unethical to lift my words and put them on your blog without crediting me. If I ever quote you, I will link to you or type the source so people can read for themselves.

Please rectify this situation...thanks,

I hope he decides to comply with my request. He writes as if he is quoting me from the Founders blog when he is pasting my words from this blog, not my words from some other blog.

I will try to address his 2 Peter 3:9 arguments and statements as soon as possible.

If others reading this blog would like to quote me or address my arguments, then please give the source so people can read for themselves, test the arguments and arrive at the truth, whatever it may be. I will return the favor. It seems to be the ethical thing to do.

I just sent this email note as well:

I would sincerely request that you link to the sources on my blog that you quote from. I am not so interested in getting the traffic as in getting people to consider my original words in contrast to your arguments. They need to be able to compare and contrast. Also, I am interested in seeing fellow Christians behave ethically in the blogosphere. I need to be exhorted to do the same thing, and I have been so exhorted by good Christian friends. Here are the original links to put on your blog:

2 Peter 3:9 and the Letterhead Argument

Matthew 23:37 Calvinistically Considered
I also emailed this to him:
Hi James,

What do you mean by "personal"? I only want you to credit the sources that you quote, especially when they are my words. I think the Christian community should be able to investigate the primary sources for themselves and to arrive at the truth, whatever it may be.

If my arguments on 2 Peter 3:9 are so "silly," then citing the source for your quotes could only work in your favor. Why not give me credit for speaking and arguing in such a "silly" way?

It's not my desire to make this "personal." I simply want ethical behavior in the blogosphere. If you want that as well, then link to the sources that you quote please. To not do so seems unethical to me.

Then I saw the following on his blog:

UPDATE #1: Here's White's response on his blog:
Tony Byrne Demands Free Advertising

Tony Byrne, the gentleman whose comments on 2 Peter 3:9 I addressed yesterday, has demanded I link to him now. No, he can't show any misrepresentation, but I guess he wants the traffic. I find it odd that he has been sniping at me on his own blog for months but if I dare demonstrate his arguments are self-refuting, non-exegetical, and vacuous, I have breached some code of ethics! He even claims he "owns" the "form of the expressions" to his argument! What an amazing thing: if I name names, I take heat for being "mean." If I refute arguments and leave names out of it, I'm unethical! Can't win for trying, it seems. So if you would like to compare how accurately I represented his original article, here it is. Of course, that is the same link I referred to on the Founder's blog, but I guess that isn't generating enough traffic. You will see that I interacted with his arguments with complete fairness and accuracy.
UPDATE #2 (12:08 pm 6-12-06):

As I said, I care about people being able to investigate primary sources so they can carefully consider the arguments and arrive at the truth, whatever it may be. I did not claim that his efforts to refute my arguments were unethical. I said that his quoting me without giving sources (or crediting me for what he pasted on his blog) was unethical. The careful reader will discern this in the above emails. Is it absurd of me to claim that I own the form of the expressions? It's true.

I would not have considered him mean if he merely named my name on his blog. It would just be like a footnote in a book. It's only mean when you name names in order to engage in personal attacks. The reader can decide whether or not that is taking place here.

I haven't yet made an effort to respond to his analysis of 2 Peter 3:9, so I don't see how he can conclude that I "can't" respond cogently.

UPDATE #3 (6-13-06 @ 9:22pm):

Some readers might think that I said he was "mean" for naming names on his blog since that term is in quotes. I have never called him mean for naming names, not that White is saying that I did in the post above. It may leave that impression to some readers who are casually glancing at that comment, so I just wanted to clarify the matter.

Naming names is "mean" when one seeks to smear that name by engaging in unnecessary personal attacks while making arguments. Naming names in order to credit your sources and to allow people to investigate matters for themselves is not mean. We should all be concerned to speak the truth accurately and to allow others to investigate primary sources carefully. I was never interested in "free advertising" or "traffic." I specifically told him that first in a private email, then he publicly slandered me as if that was my concern. However, I was very interested in getting the hundreds of people to read my material carefully in context in order to contrast it with what was being reported.


SaintSimon said...

I agree about quoting sources - I am always being taught about this in my present study to become a licensed reader in the Church of England.

But i'm not really writing about that.

I was very impressed by your conversion story, which reinforced many of my own views. I was brought up by a very Calvinist father (a Brethren missionary in Catholic countries) , so I know where you are coming from although you have gone deeper than me in the study.

I am perhaps going the opposite way to you in that while being fully sonvinced regarding election and limited atinement, I believe we have to live and act, grateful for our own election but as if the principle of election didn't apply to the unconverted around us. I have known calvinist churhces preach the gospel only within teir unattarctive chapels at 6:30, believing that God will bring in those who are to be saved. He will, but he won't take them in there! We have to GO OUT to preach to EVERYONE. It is then up to |God to sort out who responds and who doesn't - that part is beyond our remit. We have to believe like Calvinists, but act like Arminians.

Keep fighting, and preach Christ crucified rather than any specific flavour of the faith.

God Bless.

(PS don't lecture me about the shortcomings of the Church of England -I am well aware of them, but i could't argue with God when he put me here. Some hope - our Vicar closed the Sunday service saying "Are you and Institutional Christian or a New Testament Christian?" - he would have been burned at the stake for that in earlier centuries)

SaintSimon said...

Apologies for my appalling typing in my previous comment

SaintSimon said...

Yeah OK its me again - I keep hitting publish and then thinking some more.

My concern is that you are excessively fixated with theological study and debate - fun though this is - perhaps at the expense of the more pratical aspects of Christianity especially evangelism. However, I recognise that a blog is just a snapshot of your life and we can't all do everything all of the time.

Tony Byrne said...

Hi SaintSimon,

I am glad you agree about the citation of sources. I think it's very important for readers who want to carefully investigate primary sources. Ad Fontes, right?

I am glad you read the first part of my theological background and conversion. I wrote that because blogs may make it difficult to see why someone has particular passions on some subjects. Also, I want readers to realize the far reaching theological ramifications on these Calvinistic subjects. The change in my thinking has been almost like a change in a worldview. It's quite a paradigm shift.

I agree that we must be passionate about belief AND practice. We should be very concerned to reach out to the lost according to Christ's benevolent command. Actually, I think if we reach out to all men with Christlike compassion to see them saved, we are acting like Calvinists. I am sure you would agree with this, even though I get what you are saying about "acting Arminian."

I have no desire to lecture you on the subject of the Church of England. My own theological tastes tend to be eclectic, so I welcome insight from other believers from various communities.

I am only as fixated on arguing against high and hyper-Calvinistic errors to the degree that they are fixated on refuting Arminians. The vast majority of Calvinists who are higher than I am have no problem with their constant rebuttals of the errors of Arminianism. That's fine. However, when they start to get challenged by moderate Calvinists such as myself, all of a sudden I have "fixations" and imbalances. I think this is manifest inconsistency.

I would much rather avoid all the personal character comments and stick to discussing the theological ideas. As you know, the truth matters. If we distort the gospel message, we have made serious mistakes. The key questions then are, "what is the gospel? What are the ramifications of the gospel for the rest of my thinking and hermeneutics?" These are my concerns and I see no reason to abandon them.

Thanks for taking the time to write. Don't worry about making typos on my blog. I have made my share of them ;-)

Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus,

Lockheed said...

"...I would sincerely request that you link to the sources on my blog that you quote from..."

Did not you do the very same thing in the " Contextual Cow Patties" post? The "All Without Exception vs. All Without Distinction" which "some theologians" use is the response of Dr. White to 1 Tim 2:1 etc. Why didn't YOU quote him as the source?

Perhaps it was evident in both posts who the blogger was referring to?

Tony Byrne said...

Hi Micah,

The "all without exception vs. all without distinction" concept is so common today that virtually every studied Calvinist knows it and uses it. If I had to cite every individual who said the exact statement "all without exception or all without distinction," I would have to use the entire internet to do it. It's one thing to quote a common thought or expression and quite another thing to quote a particular person's form of expression at length. When I said "all without distinction vs. all without exception", it's like typing "that old dog won't hunt." It's just a common expression within a particular subculture. In fact, the "all without exception vs. all without distinction" dichotomy is very old. It AT LEAST goes back to the post-Reformation period. I wouldn't even be suprised to see Augustine and other church fathers coming close to using the same words.

Also, when I refer to "some theologians," I honestly didn't even have White in mind. It's not some veiled reference to White because I am secretly trying to attack him. The "some theologians" are the vast majority of high Calvinists today (I am trying to distinguish them from moderate Calvinists). One man who influenced me a great deal was Dr. S. Lewis Johnson (one of my favorite teachers). He used the dichotomy all the time on controversial passages since he was a high Calvinist. R. C. Sproul uses the distinction on his radio program frequently. Virtually all the popular teachers of Calvinism today use that either/or question: "Is this all without exception or all without distinction?"

On White's blog, he wasn't just quoting common theological expressions. He was specifically quoting my expressions as contained on my blog at length. Here are several examples:

He quotes ALL of this:
1) All of the elect who will ever exist, whether born or not yet born
2) All of the unbelieving elect presently existing on earth, or
3) All of the believing elect presently existing on earth

He quotes ALL of this:
The letterhead argument of some Calvinists looks this way:
1) Peter is writing to the elect
2) The "us" in 3:9 refers to those written to
3) Therefore, the "us" are the elect.

He quotes ALL of this:
"Does the term “elect” have the same sense in proposition #1 as it does in proposition #3 (the conclusion)? Or is there a subtle change in meaning? Proposition #1 would be more accurate if it stated that Peter is writing to believers."

He quotes ALL of this:
"Even though he calls them 'chosen according to the foreknowledge of God,' he’s not writing to the elect as such, but to those elect who have come to believe by the Spirit."

He quotes ALL of this (and still hasn't linked to or referenced this article):
"He was using James White’s argument (and White got it from John Gill's hyper-Calvinistic book The Cause of God and Truth--he cites some of Gill's "exegesis" on this verse favorably in The Potters Freedom) that there is a distinction between "Jerusalem" (the leaders) and the "children".

These are SOME examples of quotations from my blog at length. They are not just general figures of speech from a theological subculture.

I hope this helps you to see the difference.

Grace to you,