James R. White on 2 John 9-11 (Part 2)

James R. White blogged “2 John 9-11 Examined” on June 30, 2017:

“Let’s talk a bit about 2 John 9, as it has been thrown about a lot lately.”

Detractors of White had “thrown about” this text at him for his dialogue with Muslim Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi (apparently in a context they deemed inappropriate and compromising). Whether or not tolerant Calvinist heretic James White was “compromising” his version of the gospel, it is quite clear that White’s detractors misapplied this text to him, and demonstrated that they do NOT know what 2 John 9-11 means.

At least one thing 2 John 9-11 means is that the “greeting” and “sharing” or “partaking” is Koinonia fellowship — the greeting or sharing or partaking of 2 John 11. This is about considering the bringer of a false and anathematized gospel (Galatians 1:8-9) a spiritual brother; a brother with whom there can be spiritual fellowship despite any strong doctrinal disagreements. Both Dr. James R. White and Dr. Yasir Qadhi do NOT consider the other some kind of “muddled” believer.  White was NOT and does NOT consider Dr. Qadhi to be a spiritual brother. Thus, the text is misapplied to White.

Where 2 John 9-11 IS correctly applied to White (and those who believe like him), is in his considering universal atonement advocates to be his spiritual brethren. What Dr. White does in necessary effect is consider those zealous-yet-ignorant ones for whom Paul prayed, as his spiritual brethren (cf. Romans 10:1-4).  White writes:

“First, you always look at a text in its context, and in this case, that is determinative. Look at what John is talking about (translations mine).

‘For many deceivers have gone out into the world, the ones not confessing Jesus Christ having come in the flesh. This one is the deceiver and the anti-Christ. Watch yourselves, so that you do not lose what we have accomplished but instead receive a full reward.’

Clearly John is continuing the theme that appears throughout his first epistle with reference to the ‘deceivers’ (πλάνοι) who have gone out into the world (compare 1 John 2:23, 4:2-3, 15). They are described as those ‘not confessing Jesus Christ having come in the flesh,’ that is, there seems to have been some form of what we might call proto-gnosticism in the church in John’s day, a form of docetism that denied the reality of Jesus’ physical body. It is important to note the phrase ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸν κόσμον, ‘went out into the world.’ They went out of the church, specifically (compare 1 John 2:19 for ‘went out’). These are the deceivers, the anti-Christs, the false teachers. They have left the church for the world. John warns believers to ‘look to themselves,’ be watchful, for apostates can be some of the most beguiling of false teachers. They know our language, our modes of speech, and hence can disarm us and sneak up on us. We are to be watchful” (James R. White).

In previous interactions, White had asserted by force that it was “absurd” and an “outrageous leap” to apply 2 John 9-11 to those false religionists who deny that the Word of the cross (Christ crucified) is the POWER OF GOD toward ALL FOR WHOM JESUS CHRIST DIED (cf. Romans 10:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:18). This is astounding since the “doctrine of Christ” certainly includes not only the PERSON of Christ, but also the WORK of Christ.

White continues:

“Importantly, this is the context that immediately precedes our text, that of apostates who were once a part of the church but do not teach that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, i.e., the early docetics. So now to the main passage:

[‘]Every one going too far and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The one abiding in the doctrine, this one has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bear this doctrine, do not receive him into your home and do not pronounce greetings, for the one pronouncing a greeting participates in his evil works.[‘] [I don’t think White set this off by quotes, so I provided the single quotes there in brackets–CD]

The first substantive participle, ‘the one going too far,’ seems to indicate the idea of going outside the bounds, in this case, outside the teaching, the truth that has been given to the church concerning Jesus and His incarnation. He does not abide, remain in, the teaching, the doctrine. Given that this is a definitional doctrine, de fide one might say, the one who violates this truth has neither the Father nor the Son. These are strong words which, we must confess, few today ponder deeply” (James R. White).

The words in 2 John 9-11 ARE INDEED STRONG WORDS and men like James R. White (and, say, Douglas Wilson) DO NOT ponder them deeply. 2 John 9-11 provides important information about what a person truly believes about the true gospel that the Apostles preached.

2 John 9-11 describes people who PROFESS to believe in the true gospel of Romans 1:16 while VALUING the gospel of Galatians 1:8-9. This spoken greeting that necessarily results in partaking in the evil deeds of the accursed false gospel, is an indication of who they deem their spiritual brethren. And in calling someone a “spiritual brother,” they are revealing that they have the same father. In this scheme the true gospel is perniciously patronized, and paid empty lip-service as something “enriching,” while the damnable false gospel is valued, savored, and vehemently defended as what most “Christians” believe upon regeneration.

True Christians believe the true gospel as an immediate and inevitable fruit of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work; and false Christians believe a false gospel as an immediate and inevitable fruit of the spirit of antichrist’s counterfeiting work.

“And I will petition the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may remain with you to the age, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He abides with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I am coming to you. Yet a little [while] and the world no longer sees Me, but you see Me. Because I live, you also shall live” (John 14:16-19).

“And when the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, that One will witness concerning Me” (John 15:26).

“But when that One comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you into all Truth, for He will not speak from Himself, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will announce the coming things to you. That One will glorify Me, for He will receive from Mine and will announce to you. All things which the Father has are Mine. For this reason I said that He receives from Mine, and will announce to you” (John 16:13-15).

“Answering at that time, Jesus said, I praise You, Father, Lord of Heaven and of earth, because You hid these things from [the] sophisticated and cunning and revealed them to babes. Yes, Father, for so it was pleasing before You. All things were yielded up to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and the [one] to whom the Son purposes to reveal [Him]” (Matthew 11:25-27).

“But though He had done so many miraculous signs before them, they did not believe into Him, so that the Word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he said, ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And the arm of the Lord, to whom was it revealed?’ Because of this they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, ‘He has blinded their eyes’ and ‘has hardened their heart,’ ‘that they might not see with the eyes’ and ‘understand with the heart,’ ‘and be converted,’ ‘and I should heal them.’ Isaiah said these things when he saw His glory, and spoke about Him” (John 12:37-41).

“But God revealed [them] to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of a man within him? So also no one has known the things of God except the Spirit of God. But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. Which things we also speak, not in words taught in human wisdom, but in [Words] taught of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual [things]. But a natural man does not receive the things of [the] Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. But the spiritual one discerns all things, but he is discerned by no one. For who has known [the] mind of [the] Lord? Who will teach Him? But we have [the] mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:10-16).

“But also if our gospel is being hidden, it has been hidden in those being lost, in whom the god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, so that the brightness of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves your slaves for the sake of Jesus. Because it is God who said, ‘Out of darkness Light shall shine,’ who shone in our hearts to give the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

“For if, indeed, the [one] coming proclaims another Jesus, whom we have not proclaimed, or [if] you receive another spirit which you have not received, or another gospel which you never accepted” (2 Corinthians 11:4).

Continuing with White’s comments on 2 John 9-11:

“The first ‘you’ in verse 10 is plural, comes to anyone in the church. Now let’s remember, there were no church buildings at this point in church history. The church met in homes or, I suppose in rural settings (as noted by history), out in the countryside. But in these days showing hospitality was vital. You took people into your homes, provided food for them and shelter. There wasn’t a Motel6 on every corner. Especially in the Christian context, traveling preachers and teachers would come into an area and seek a place from which to do their teaching in someone’s home. So here we have a test provided by the Apostle:” (James R. White)

Homes and rural settings as noted by history.  Fine. No problem. But the primary issue is whether these false teachers are being considered as “muddled” or “felicitously inconsistent” spiritual brothers. Those who James White considers as spiritual brethren (e.g., Dr. Michael Brown & Dr. William Lane Craig, for instance), the apostles and prophets would lovingly call to repentance from their idolatrous worship of no-gods and their doctrinaire adherence to salvation conditioned on the sinner’s “graciously” enabled efforts (Galatians 4:8, 5:2-4).

More from White:

“if someone comes and does not ‘bear’ or carry with them this doctrine, that is, the doctrine that Jesus has come in the flesh, then they are not to be received ‘into your home.’ Clearly, the Apostle is addressing people who claim to be Christians here, as the context of verse 7 shows. One would not expect a pagan to come ‘bearing’ the proper doctrine of Christ’s incarnation. This is specifically about false teachers in the church (compare Gal. 2:4-5). This is further indicated by the giving of the greeting. In our culture saying ‘hi’ means very little, but in the ancient culture, and amongst Christians, greetings were far more important. The ‘holy kiss’ and the ‘maranatha’ were part of the greeting and parting. To give the intimate sign of Christian fellowship to such a person would signal your acceptance of their teaching, and hence would signal to others the orthodoxy of the person to whom you are giving the greeting, making you complicit in their activities” (James R. White; underlining mine–CD).

Tolerant Calvinists like James R. White and Douglas Wilson [1] are giving the intimate sign of Christian fellowship to obvious God-haters. Thus, they are complicit in their activities. White has chided William Lane Craig’s articulated Molinism by asking “Who is dealing the cards?” Craig’s “god” does the best he can with the cards he has been dealt.  When such a premium is placed on man’s “libertarian free will,” then bad things result.

[1] See “Manifestly Glorious” for Wilson’s intimate sign of Christian fellowship to God-haters, J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton.]

In Molinism, with its philosophically elaborate and incoherent construction, the card dealer is creature-man. Anyway, the point is that this idolatry is so blatant and damnable, but despite that, White still manages (somehow) to imply that he and Craig worship the God of Isaiah 40-45.  In his book God’s Sovereign Grace, White mentioned that some

“have titled this section [Isaiah 40-45–CD] the ‘The Trial of the False Gods'” (White, p.133).

The false gods are clearly in line with Craig’s Molinism, but nevertheless, White would reveal his theological balance, maturity, wisdom, and charity by giving William Lane Craig

“the intimate sign of Christian fellowship” (White).

An important clarification and comment on White’s explanation of 2 John 9-11. By counting Craig a brother in (a false) Christ James would NOT consider this judgment of “charity, maturity, and balance” a signal of his acceptance of Craig’s teaching or that it is more-or-less orthodox. Call the erroneous (Molinist) teaching “heretical” or “dangerous to Christian vigor” or “detrimental to a consistent apologetic,” or whatever. Even call it “damnable” if you wish. BUT if at the same time you consider this “damnable teaching” a teaching enunciated by a dear muddled brother who has been blanketed by years and layers of man-centered tradition or philosophy, then, well, you just acknowledged Koinonia fellowship with this glowing heretic despite your weighty windbag of criticism.

More from White:

“So with these things in mind we see that this passage teaches us to examine the doctrine of Christian teachers and to not give a basis for operation in our communities for those who are not orthodox in their teaching. Likewise, we can see the text has nothing at all to do with doing debates, outreaches, or even dialogues with those of other religious faiths. Even if we greet them, we are not doing so in the context of 2 John, for the greeting there had a particular content and meaning generally absent from our greetings today[…]Surely we are not taking them into our homes in the sense of giving them a platform from which they can teach Christian heresies, or anything of the like. Attempting to apply this text to non-compromising outreaches, interactions, debates, etc., is clearly a misuse of the passage in its original context” (James R. White).

As I said above, White’s detractors misapply this text to White when he engages in interactions with men such as Yasir Qadhi. I say this because whether or not one thinks that White and/or Qadhi compromised in their respective false gospels, it is quite clear that neither of these men considered the other of a “close enough” faith with which to join in spiritual or Koinonia fellowship.