By Pastor Mike Spaulding
The Tragedy of the James White Interfaith Dialogue and the Pragmatic Defense Offered by Phil Johnson
The current firestorm related to James White’s decision to facilitate an interfaith dialogue with Imam Yasir Qahdi is puzzling in the least and has become a stumbling block for many who do not understand how White cannot understand that he is “dancing with the devil” as the saying goes. Mr. White’s response to those critical of his decision has been the polar opposite of remorse and he has in fact dug his heels in and maintained that his actions were right and consistent with what Christians should be doing. Is that true? What bridges can be built to people who teach that Christians who do not submit or convert to Islam should be murdered? What madness is this that has gripped Christians today such that they believe the lie that building bridges to nowhere constitute evangelism? I won’t rehash all of Mr. White’s actions related to this in detail. You can read about that here.
What I wish to address is the support Mr. White has received. Surprisingly a couple of people with very different perspectives, one might say two people with theological beliefs very much at odds with one another, have stepped into the fray to defend Mr. White’s error. I am speaking of Phil Johnson and Michael Brown. This has added a layer of intrigue to the entire situation but has also served to obfuscate the truth of what critics of White’s decision to promote an interfaith dialogue have been saying. By engaging in what appear to be damage control activities on behalf of Mr. White, Johnson seems to have exposed himself as a hypocrite of the highest order. You can be the judge of whether or not that is true based on the information contained in this article. His previous statements seem to be completely contradictory to his stated position concerning James White’s ecumenicalism, or to use the new and improved phrase, interfaith dialogue.
Some background is in order for readers unfamiliar with Mr. Johnson’s proclivity to challenge things he deems inconsistent with Scripture. Example number one involves John Piper’s support of Rick Warren. Johnson left no doubt where he stood on that. Here is a quote and link to the article Johnson wrote about Piper and Warren.
“The fact is, Scripture commands faithful Christians to confront, rebuke, and correct those who twist or reinvent the gospel–not to ask them to speak at our most important conferences.”
Let me state for the record that I support many of Johnson’s views generally speaking. Specifically I support his insistence that we follow the Scriptures and that we identify what is inconsistent with the Scriptures. That is why it is confusing to see Johnson support James White.
White believes that through an interfaith dialogue Christians can learn the truth of what Islam is. To that end White welcomed Jihadi Imam Yasir Qahdi into a church and then set up the audience to accept what he was doing as the normal actions of a Christian by making several disarming and clearly erroneous statements. Here is an example.
The truth of Islam is that kafirs (anyone not a Muslim by birth or profession) are obligated under Islam to convert, become subject to demeaning and onerous behavior from Muslims or be killed. There is no concept of humanity or of individual human beings and therefore basic human rights within Islam. Dr. Bill Warner of the Center for the Study of Political Islam says:
There is no such thing as humanity, only the duality of the believer and unbeliever. Look at the ethical statements found in the Hadith. A Muslim should not lie, cheat, kill or steal from other Muslims. But a Muslim may lie, deceive or kill an unbeliever if it advances Islam.
There is no such thing as a universal statement of ethics in Islam. Muslims are to be treated one way and unbelievers another way.
The closest Islam comes to a universal statement of ethics is that the entire world must submit to Islam. After Mohammed became a prophet, he never treated an unbeliever the same as a Muslim. Islam denies the truth of the Golden Rule.
By the way, this dualistic ethic is the basis for jihad. The ethical system sets up the unbeliever as less than human and therefore, it is easy to kill, harm or deceive the unbeliever.
The dualism of Islam is more deceitful and offers two choices on how to treat the unbeliever. The unbeliever can be treated nicely in the same way a farmer treats his cattle well. So Islam can be “nice”, but in no case is the unbeliever a “brother” or a friend. In fact, there are some 14 verses of the Koran that are emphatic—a Muslim is never a friend to the unbeliever. A Muslim may be “friendly,” but he is never an actual friend. And the degree to which a Muslim is actually a true friend is the degree to which he is not a Muslim, but a hypocrite.
That’s why Americans were shocked when the Muslim couple in California, who were so friendly came into the office one day and murdered their co-workers.
All of this makes perfect sense to Imam Qahdi and all Muslims who practice true Islam. This is why Muslims hate Jews, refer to them as apes and pigs, and carry on a continual pogrom against Israel. Muslims insure there will be a perpetual war against Jews and Israel by training their children as soon as they are able to walk and talk to hate Jews. Here is an example of what Yasir Qahdi really thinks of Jews and Christians.
Mr. White and Mr. Johnson perhaps do not comprehend that Islam is based on dualism. Americans and indeed all nations which are part of Western civilization base their logic on the law of non-contradiction. This basic foundation of reason and logic states that if two things contradict one another at the same place, time, and context then at least one of them is false. They might both be false, but they cannot both be right. Islamic logic is dualistic. Two things can contradict each other and both be true. That’s why Imam’s such as Qahdi can sit smiling in a Christian church, make nice and pretend he is truly a friend of Christians and then when he is among his Islamic brethren reveal what his thoughts really are. See this link for an explanation.
Why does Johnson not take White to task for the very thing he previously took Piper to task over? Johnson stated very clearly on a radio interview in September 2011 that not refuting a false religion or false teacher is simply not acceptable behavior for a Christian. Here is the link.
I find it interesting that John MacArthur sees the issue clearly but Johnson does not when it involves Mr. White. Here is an excerpt from MacArthur preaching on 2 Corinthians 6:14. Even though MacArthur was not offering these insights within a context of the James White situation they are nevertheless strikingly appropriate.
“What has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” To put it another way, “what has faith to do with non-faith?” They’re by very definition mutually exclusive. If you believe this and you don’t believe this, then there’s no common ground. Because believing in the gospel and the Word of God is a totally life-dominating faith. The faithful and the faithless have nothing in common. Their ideologies are mutually exclusive. No spiritual enterprise can be attempted with the view to success that involves such a mingling….
Any attempt to get together in a denomination, any attempt to get together in an association, any attempt to get together in some kind of a ministry of evangelism, a campus ministry, a crusade, any kind of event like that, an attempt to get together in a school setting, an educational environment, and supposedly be able to commonly move toward one goal is ridiculous. Any attempt at fellowship in common spiritual life with unbelievers is ridiculous, damaging and falsely reassuring to that unbeliever.
True Christians have to separate from unbelievers in matters related to ministry, teaching and worship. And when I say teaching, I’m talking about teaching that relates to God and His truth.
So, first of all then, it is irrational to attempt to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. It should be obvious to anybody who can think that this is…mutually impossible to bring these two realms together.
Listen, pagans don’t mind joining with Christians in religious activity. They love it. But we can’t allow it. We cannot allow it. We cannot join with unbelievers in worship or ministry or any enterprise that involves God, nor can we invite them to join our enterprise. And it is because of the sacrilege of it.
Any joining to unbelievers is putting idols in the temple of God, or putting the temple of God in an idol temple. It is blatantly, overtly, intolerably sacrilegious.
Those whose passion is righteousness cannot partner up with those whose passion is lawlessness in any common spiritual enterprise. And it doesn’t help God. It’s not a clever way to achieve His purposes; it is a violation of His Word.
Can we make spiritual heroes out of the people that violate these commands? I would think, rather, that a call for church discipline would be in order. (emphasis added).
For believers, there can be no compromise. We cannot engage ourselves with unbelievers in any spiritual enterprise. That’s the issue: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers.” That is the command that sets this text in motion. And it is an unmistakable call to believers to separate from unbelievers. No one could miss that that’s what it’s saying. [Source]
I agree wholeheartedly with what MacArthur states above. Johnson and White should both be brought before their respective home church and reprimanded. This kind of selective adherence to the Scriptures is not acceptable regardless of your fan base or public support by other Christians. In this clash between truth and Johnson, White, and their supporters we see the cult of personality once again raising its ugly head. You are not right because of whom you are, how popular you are, how many books you’ve written, or your reputation. You are right when your views are consistent with what the Scripture teaches. White and Johnson are both wrong as wrong can be on this interfaith dialogue issue.
I find it even more surprising that Johnson supports White in the face of White’s continued acceptance of Michael Brown and Brown’s Word Faith theology. It was not that long ago that the ministry Johnson is associated with sponsored what was called the Strange Fire conference. During that conference MacArthur and others denounced Word of Faith theology as well as NAR and other affiliated entities. In the scorched earth approach of the Strange Fire conference speakers, even solid Bible teaching, Gospel preaching non-secessionists were called out. Apparently Johnson doesn’t hold the same view today because Michael Brown defends Hinn, Prince, Copeland, Dollar and every other Word Faith and hyper-grace teacher under the sun. This is strange fire from Johnson for sure.
Why is Johnson defending White when based on his own words expressed over many years, he should be offering correction to White and standing opposed to White’s interfaith dialogue. If White and others are truly interested in understanding Islam then they should be engaging people who have escaped Islam through faith in Jesus Christ such as Shahram Hadian and Usama Dakkok. There are also many scholars who can easily explain what Islam is and what it teaches to White. Why is he not taking advantage of these resources? I know that several platforms have been offered as hosts for this dialogue.
2 John 9-11 says that those that give a platform to a false teacher are taking part in their evil deeds. Would this also apply to those that defend such spiritual enterprises with false teachers and false religions?
Here is the glaring problem: if we cannot even agree that a conversation about Islam with a Christian former Muslim would be much more beneficial to Christians than a conversation with a radical jihadi imam; if we cannot agree that a conversation about Islam with a radical jihadi imam is worthless when you are attempting to pursue truth, then the Christian Church in America has become compromised, has lost the ability to discern, and is one step away from becoming another apologist for the lie of Satan that is Islam.
Islam is a religious man-made system comprised of the doctrines of demons and spiritual deception and wickedness. What dialogue is there to have with a belief system that says God has no Son, the crucifixion is a hoax, the Bible is corrupted and useless, and Christians are filthy people where the meaning of filthy is puss-oozing, rotten stinking corpses? Shocking? Then you don’t know true Islam and its time you woke up to the truth that White, Johnson and others are trying to sell you.
In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan the prophet approached King David with a story of a man with many riches and flocks who forcibly took a lamb from a man who had very few. David’s response of anger to Nathan’s story was appropriate and demonstrated that he knew an outrageous and ungodly behavior when he heard it. But David’s response also highlighted the fact that sometimes people can be blind to their own culpability. Nathan’s declaration to David that “you are that man” and then this statement, “Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight?” broke David and resulted in his confession and repentance.
Confession and repentance is a good place to start. After that White and Johnson can ask Christians they have attacked and maligned for standing against their error for forgiveness. If they refuse it is time to place them squarely in the compromised camp and refuse to have any more dealings with them or their ministries until they do.
© 2017 Mike Spaulding – All Rights Reserved
E-Mail Mike Spaulding: email@example.com
Pastor Mike Spaulding’s Bio:
Mike Spaulding was ordained to the ministry in 1998. Since then he has planted two Calvary Chapel churches – Calvary Christian Fellowship, St. Marys, Ohio, in 1998, and Calvary Chapel of Lima, Ohio, in 2005, where he currently serves as teaching pastor.
Mike holds a B.A. in Organizational Management, a Masters Degree in Theological Studies, and a Ph.D. in apologetics. He is the author of numerous articles including, “Leadership and Organizational Vision,” “Servant Leadership,” “The Ministry of Teaching,” “A Brief Look At Romans 13,” and “How and Why Should We Study the Bible.” He is a contributing author to the soon to be released, The Baker Dictionary of World Religions, H. Wayne House, General Editor. Mike has written for several apologetics ministries including Got Questions? (www.gotquestions.org) and the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (www.carm.org) and maintains his own radio and podcast platforms – The Transforming Word (www.thetransformingword.com) Soaring Eagle Radio (www.soaringeagleradio.com) and his blog, Dr. Mike Spaulding (www.drmikespaulding.com)
His teaching ministry is featured on the radio program “The Transforming Word,” heard on stations throughout the Midwest United States. In 2013 he launched The Transforming Word Bible Institute (www.thetransformingword.com), to enable students to study at their own pace, and serves as its President. He is the host of the radio and podcast show, Soaring Eagle Radio (www.soaringeagle.com), heard on Red Nation Rising Radio (www.rednationrising.us), Global Star Radio Network (www.gsradio.net), Prepper Broadcasting Network (www.prepperbroadcasting.com), The Fringe Radio Network (www.fringeradio.com), and WTTP FM (www.wttpfm.com) and available on all major subscription services including iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and On The Objective (www.ontheobjective.org).
You may contact Mike via email – firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing him at the address below. You may follow him on Twitter – @ccpastormike or @soaringeaglerad