I listened to James White on the Dividing Line yesterday:
This will probably be my last post on the subject.
i) The timing was unfortunate for White. His "Two Contrasting Views of Islam" happened on the same day as what has all the earmarks of another domestic jihadist attack (in San Bernardino).
ii) His broadcast continues a recent pattern, both on Facebook and Youtube, of scorched-earth rhetoric to characterize those who don't share his viewpoint. If you disagree, he brands you a bigot or Islamophobe. The whole show was full of mockery.
I have to repeat a question I asked before: what does he hope to accomplish? Is his objective to persuade or to burn bridges?
iii) One irony is how his rhetorical tactics on this issue parallel homosexual activists. They brand their critics as homophobes while White brands his critics as Islamophobes.
Likewise, both invoke the argument from experience. Homosexual apologists ask "How many gay friends do you have?" If you just get to know us, you'll see that gays are good neighbors, too. We're not all alike. Don't lump us in with those obscene, flamboyant exhibitionists at gay pride parades. Don't lump us in with gays who frequent the bathhouses. No, we're monograms, all-American, hand-holding, boy-next-door gay couples. Right out of Norman Rockell.
Now White is using exactly the same approach in reference to Muslims. He seems to have a bad case of clientitis.
iv) James White and Rich Pierce had little exchange about how you just can please the critics. How many people over last 14 years have been calling for Muslims to denounce jihad, but when they do so, they must be liars. As soon as they do that they're not the real Muslims. Can't win for losing.
Speaking for myself, my stated position has been more specific. It really doesn't matter what moderate Muslims in the West say, because they don't speak for the Muslim world. They aren't taken seriously by their own.
The lead to come from high-level representatives in the ancient, influential centers of the Muslim world. Not from Westernized ex-pats.
v) Later, White makes fun of Ben Shapiro. For Shapiro, commitment to sharia is a hallmark of radical Islam. White accuses him of knowing nothing about the varieties of sharia and does a facepalm.
But Shapiro didn't actually say that. Moreover, for White's distinction to work, he'd need to give examples of kinder, gentler versions of sharia that can peacefully coexist with the infidel. And he'd need to show how popular that version is. But he gave no such examples.
vi) Later, White quoted Phil 2, then said it sounds like We christians believe every tongue will confess, Jesus will reign over all the earth, God's will shall be accomplished, his kingdom established. And yet we freak out when another religion says we're going to do the same thing. You can't do that! I'm that weird guy that goes you probably need to be consistent. It's a bummer!
But that comparison is so equivocal. Phil 2 doesn't summon Christians to wage war agains the infidel. it says nothing about Christians imposing this regime on the world. There's no suggestion of conversion by the sword.
Indeed, that's incompatible with evangelical theology, which attributes conversion to the Holy Spirit. Conversion, in the Christian sense, can't be compelled.
So how in the world is that seriously analogous to jihadist passages in the Koran and the Hadith? Why does White pretend these are comparable when he knows perfectly well that's not the case?
vii) Later, he attempts a comparison between Robert Dear and jihadists who frequent brothels and get drunk. He then accuses Christians of a double standard: That works for us but not to you!
Yet White keeps hectoring critics on how Islam is not monolithic. But if Islam is so diverse, why can't at true Muslim frequent brothels, get drunk, and go to paradise so long as he dies in jihad? White careens between saying we're not entitled to distinguish true Muslims from nominal Muslim, only to draw that very distinction when it suits the immediate needs of his argument.
viii) He then suggests the solution to ISIS is to change hearts, but for a lot of Christians the Gospel isn't a good enough answer anymore. Let's trust in horses and men.
But, of course, that's a caricature which he himself doesn't take seriously. White is not a pacifist or universalist. So he doesn't think evangelism alone is a substitute for the armed forces or counterespionage.
White is a very smart guy, so why does he feel the need to burn so many straw men? The whole show is talking back at critics rather than reasoning with critics. He accuses the critics of "roid rage," but he's pretty hopped up himself.