James White’s Hobbit Hole Argument

So I had the delight of hearing our work mentioned again on James White’s Dividing Line yesterday. I have to thank him for continuing in doing so. The fact is, JW is good for StandardSacredText.com. Again, thank you to James White for furthering our cause.

As JW recounts it, he yet again “stumbled” upon our work now for the second time in the span of a week. It appears to me that JW is still sore about me calling him out on his tired old naturalistic argument because he keeps bringing it up. Perhaps we touched a nerve.

Particularly, JW took issue with the fact that I chose an argument [my probability argument from Bayes] that I had never before presented in public. As JW is apt to do, he compared me to an atheist that he debated one time simply because I presented a new argument. At this point I would be disappointed if JW didn’t compare me to a Muslim or an atheist. JW just wouldn’t be JW without such glittering jewels of colossal ignorance.

He then went on to complain that I didn’t present the arguments from our books only to turn around and admit that the substance of the Spirit/word/faith paradigm was indeed in my arguments even though my arguments at the debate were not carbon copies of those in our books.

Unfortunately for JW it seems that he is so stuck with his narrow and effete argument that he can’t even fathom making a different argument and as such he finds it wholly strange that someone would argue a dozen or so different arguments all aimed at the same conclusion. It seems to me that JW should have at least three robust arguments in defense of Scripture: 1.) his historical/manuscript argument, 2.) an exegetical argument, and 3.) a theological argument.

But if you watch all of his debates about the text and translation he really only has one argument, argument #1. In fact if you watch this series held in a church for church people you’ll find it’s four hundred minutes long in which he quotes Scripture a handful of times and each time it is to demonstrate why the Bible should be doubted in places. And this is because no one who holds JW’s position has a robust exegetical and theological position to defend statements like, “The Bible is sufficiently reliable” and ” The Bible is 99% God’s word” and “The original text of the NT is in the body of the Nestle/Aland 28 or it is in the textual apparatus.”

I explained in the debate that JW’s #1 argument is merely a birdy argument. Someone else has chewed up and partially digested the data and then JW gladly took those chewed up and partially digested remains and graciously offers them to the rest of us and if we politely decline then JW has to “debate” us so that he can explain to you and to the audience that birdy arguments are the best tasting arguments around.

This is not to say that all of us don’t need help from teachers and books. Indeed, the Scriptures teach us that at one point we have all been newborn babes desiring the sincere milk of the word. But there has to come a time when we grow up and recognize that there are a host of substantive, beautiful, and persuasive ways of defending the Bible and most of them can be done without appeal to modern text-critical methodology.

There are arguments to be made from archeology, philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, mathematics, theology, exegesis, history, church history, and on and on. We cripple ourselves in defending the Christian faith by limiting our arguments to textual criticism and its modern methodology – the one trick pony of JW.

But when we do present new arguments JW complains, cries foul, and then fails to rebut those arguments. He then retreats to the DL, to his rabbit hole, and tries to find grace and help in his time of need but in the end a retreat to the rabbit hole only weakens his ability to contend and overcome when outside that rabbit hole. And that is what we saw during our debate. JW was not ready because JW has spent too much time in his safe space greedily clutching his old moldy argument. So now, eleven days later instead of actually grappling with my argument he simply cries, “Bad Form!” Thanks, Captain Hook.

Maybe JW’s argument worked in his generation but it doesn’t and won’t in mine and certainly not for my children’s generation. If you are happy with old unsubstantiated stories about Erasmus and truncated historical arguments, by all means, stick with JW. But if you are tired of JW’s Hobbit Hole argument, then perhaps it is time to go on an adventure and embrace the depth and breadth that the wide world of right thinking Christian theology and exegesis offers you.

2 thoughts on “James White’s Hobbit Hole Argument

  1. My frustration with JW and essentially all defenders of modern text criticism is with their refusal to offer a defense of their presuppositions and methodology from Scripture. Ok, a lot of them aren’t believers, but JW claims to be. As a Christian, that’s the case I want to see first, and only afterward am I willing to look at evidence—and then through the lens of Scripture (Ps. 36:9). That he refuses to do so is unchristian. You touched a nerve in publicly denouncing his defense as purely naturalistic, but your charge is spot on!

    Liked by 1 person

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