Monday, November 04, 2019

A Challenge to James White on Apologetics and Text Criticism

A friend sent me a copy of comments apparently posted today to FB by popular internet apologist James White (JW) responding to the recent Text and Canon Conference (find audio here), in which he began with the following (bold and underlined added):

I have gotten through 4+ hours of the Text and Canon conference from last weekend. A great deal to talk about as time permits, but two things right now:
First, to my fellow apologists who do not buy into TROnlyism and who seek to give a defense of the NT against atheists, Muslims, etc., in the public square (something that to my knowledge the TR Only position has yet to attempt in any major way), you will need to tune into the arguments being put forward by the TR Only guys, because *they will be taken up and used against you by the atheists and Muslims.* ....So, you will have atheists and Muslims, in particular, quoting these guys in their favor against you. ....

So, JW believes that content from our conference will be used by atheists and Muslims to disprove the Christian faith and the Christian Scriptures?

In light of his statement, I want to issue a challenge to JW. I am going to provide embeds below to five videos posted from just one Muslim apologetics channel (Muslim by Choice), which feature clips from James White’s teaching on text criticism. These videos are posted by Muslim by Choice in order to support the Muslim contention that the NT is hopelessly corrupted. One will also note that Muslim by Choice sometimes tandems clips of JW’s teaching with similar teaching by Bart Erhman and others.

My challenge to JW is to post at least five similar videos in which Muslim apologists have posted teaching from advocates of the Traditional or Confessional Text to support their attacks on the integrity of the Christian Scriptures.

If he is able to find five such videos (which, admittedly, I am doubtful he will be able to locate), I will then match them with five more videos in which Muslims apologists have posted clips from his teaching, and then (if he can find them) he can post five more videos, and so forth, until we see who runs out of material first.

This should allow us, in a fair and open manner, to see whose views on Scripture are actually more prone to being used by atheists and Muslim apologists in order to promote their cause. This, then, will help us evaluate which approach to the text of Scripture, in fact, provides the strongest defense of the faith (apologetic) in the “public square.”

Here are my first five videos:

On Mark 16:9-20:

On 1 John 5:7, Mark 16:9-20, and John 7:53-8:11:

On Mark 16:9-20:

On 1 Timothy 3:16:

On Luke 23:34:


Update (11.5.19): After I posted this someone also shared with me the following video which essentially makes the same point of this blogpost "challenge" in a perhaps more entertaining and less time consuming manner:


Anonymous said...

Are you aware of the dishonest editing practices of MuslimbyChoice?

Anonymous said...

How do you not realize that this post is self-refuting!? Muslim by Choice (MBC) doesn't ever engage any of James White's actual arguments about the transmission and historical reliability of the New Testament. Instead MBC takes James White's comments about textual variants out of context and then uses them to attack the Textus Receptus/KJV Onlyist positions. Way to cut off your nose to spite your face.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Can you demonstrate how MBC engaged in "dishonest editing practices"? It seems to me that he just plays rather extended sections of JW's teaching, unedited and without comment, in which JW denies the authenticity of passages like the traditional ending of Mark.

MBC does not need to add his own commentary because JW's words (and Ehrman's BTW) prove the point he wants to demonstrate: that (according to his belief) the NT is hopelessly corrupted and even the Christian apologists, like, JW, admit this.

My point is that JW's comments on the Text and Canon conference are unfounded and hypocritical. Robert Truelove, for example, has hours of video up on youtube and FB. Has MBC made even one video clip using his content? No. Why? It does not support his point.

Friend, wake up. The reason Muslims are interested in having "dialogue" with JW is that his teaching on text supports their overall view on the supposed corruption of the Christian Scriptures.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


MBC does not need to "engage" JW's actual arguments, because he is confident that JW's own words make his point for him.

MBC is not attacking the TR or those who advocate for it, because we affirm and defend passages like the traditional ending of Mark.

Do you not see that by embracing the modern critical text and all of its unending uncertainty about the content of God's Word JW is actually supporting the Muslim view that the Christian Scriptures are corrupt while their Scriptures have been faithfully preserved? These videos patently demonstrate that.

I, of course, offered this "challenge" tongue in cheek. JW will not be able to produce even one video that MBC will post of a Confessional Text advocate. It does not fit his narrative. I, however, can offer scores of other examples where JW's teaching has been so used.

Let that sink in, and think about it.

Dewald van Ellewee said...

Would encourage everyone to watch the full debates. These videos are cut short to take him out of context and misrepresnt him so as to dishonestly decieve those who watch the videos.

I like James White, simply because he is consistent, fair and above all puts the authority of scripture first. The fact that there are no videos of him misrepresenting those whom he debates shows that he has integrety and that he cares about those whom he debates and that he proclaims truth.

To those who intend to decieve others through such dishonest means, are clearly not intrested in truth. God's truth will prevail, it's a good thing that this does not depend on us, but on the God of truth.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for your comment.

Can you please give us specific examples of how these video clips misrepresent JW's views? They are fairly lengthy clips wherein JW denies the authenticity of various traditional texts from the Christian Scriptures. Is this not what JW teaches?

Also, doesn't JW on the DL often play short clips from various persons out of context? Think about clips used in the "Radio Free Geneva" introduction. How much of the audio from the recent Text and Canon Conference has JW actually played on the DL? Very little, in fact. Has he played it fully in context? Do you apply the same standard to JW that you apply to MBC?

Yes, I'd encourage anyone interested in this topic to watch JW's various dialogues with Muslims in full and also evaluate how Muslims have made use of his teaching to promote their own apologetic ends. Also listen to the lectures from the Text and Canon Conference and other material promoting the Confessional Text and make your own judgment about which position best defends the Christian faith in the public square.

Bonuracalvi said...

I regret that I wasn’t able to attend the text and cannon conference, but I look forward to diving into the many talks and lectures. I fail to see how using the KJV as ones primary bible somehow undermines Gods word and gives ammo to atheists and Muslims. As Gods people we should judge righteously and fairly. The KJV is a fine translation.

Howie Jones said...

Dr. Riddle,

Your challenge is both responsive and reasonable, as are your rejoinders so far in this posted thread.

I thought Robert Truelove's (or was that you?!) interview with Pastor Poh Boon, a man who is "majorly" engaged with Muslim evangelism and discipleship, was an objective demonstration and open showcase of your points (I could not find that interview link again, might you post it here?).

To perhaps an even weightier and foundational consideration concerning a Muslim's (or anyone's) response to the text of Scripture, in contrast to its symptoms: it matters not what an opponent to the gospel does or thinks, we ought never retreat to pragmaticism or rationalism because we assay that's only what will be heard by the lost. That's not Bible. Such reasoned reaction is folly; and, it has an apologetic shelf-life.

Psalm 119:89, 1 Peter 1:23; etc. / WCF, 2LBCF Ch 1:8.

Anonymous said...

You guys should arrange for a debate.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


JW and I were both approached by a church in Roanoke, Va in January 2018 with an invitation to do a "dialogue" on text criticism. I gave initial agreement to the event but JW turned the offer down. I was told by the elder who invited me that the reasons JW gave for not accepting the invitation were: (1) there would not likely be sufficient interest in such an event to draw a large enough crowd and (2) he would have to fly on a small plane (a "puddle-jumper") to travel to the event. The elders of the church which invited us can verify the accuracy of my account.

A short time later, however, JW invited himself to the Text and Canon Conference and challenged me and Robert Truelove to a debate. He did this on social media without ever contacting us before hand. We declined this offer but invited JW instead to engage in a formal written debate (disputation) on the topic with us. He rejected this offer, claiming that he had already done a written exchange on our position with Doug Wilson (who does not hold our position) and did not have time to do or interest in such an exchange.

You'll have to ask JW why he has been unwilling to engage in a charitable, serious, and sustained exchange with our position.