Sep 10, 2008

White-Wilkins Debate

How many know of the famous debate that James White had with Bob Wilkins in Oklahoma City on April 22, 2005? How many know that James White tried to defend his "born again before faith" heresy in this debate? Does James sell the video of this debate on his web site? Does he promote this debate like he does the others?

From the comments by Bob Wilkins, it seems the debate was supposed to be made available to the public through Alpha and Omega, but if it is available, I have not seen it.

Could it be due to the fact that James White miserably failed? Listen to these comments from some who attended the debate. First from Bob himself.

"The debate ran two and a half hours. During the first hour we debated the relationship between faith and regeneration. In the second hour we debated the relationship between good works and assurance. Then we had 20 minutes of questions from the audience and five minutes each for closing statements. GES Partners Mike and Letitia Lii came from San Francisco for the debate. GES Board member J.B. Bond came from Stillwater, OK and he brought over 20 people from his church with him! There were about 150 total in the audience, and about 30 of those were Free Grace people. So the crowd was heavily weighted against our position. One of the people from Stillwater commented to J.B. after the debate that when I was speaking Dr. White often frowned and shook his head, whereas when he spoke I smiled and listened intently. It was clear by his comments in the debate and afterwards and by his body language that he was very upset.

Here are a few highlights:

1. Dr. White seemed unfocused the whole debate.

2. He was extremely reluctant to admit he wasn’t sure he has everlasting life. I said he wasn’t sure, and I challenged him to tell us he was sure each time I spoke. He only admitted he wasn’t sure at the very end in his closing comments.

3. His failure to respond to my comments on Matt 7:21-23, Luke 8:5-15, John 4:14, 5:24, 11:25-27, and a host of other texts was quite telling.

4. He spent about 5 minutes at one point quoting from 2 confessions and from a number of Reformed theologians. I pointed out that this was a waste of time as this was a debate about what the Bible said on these issues. I said I believed in Sola Scriptura. That really made him angry.

5. He criticized me for being overly concerned about works-salvation. I responded by saying that the reason he wasn’t “overly concerned about works-salvation” is because his view of faith is works-salvation. This too upset him.

6. I spoke with Zane Hodges about the debate the Monday after and he said he thought the reason Dr. White was unfocused and didn’t respond to my arguments was because he probably has never been confronted like that before. It is rare for someone to tell a Calvinist that he doesn’t believe the gospel, that he isn’t sure he has eternal life, and that he is preaching a false gospel. Zane said that Dr. White was probably also upset because he likes to use these times to show how great his position is. In this debate, he couldn’t do that. In fact, the glaring weaknesses of his position were exposed, especially the lack of certainty prior to death. Hopefully the Lord will use this debate in the lives of many people. Dr. White’s ministry says it will distribute this debate on CDs and DVDs. Plus we will distribute CDs and possibly DVDs too. So lots of people who weren’t even there may be influenced. We should have more details about the audio and video soon. Thank you for your support that allows us to do cutting edge things like this."

Here are some comments from some who attended the debate.

"Bob was very clear on the grace message of salvation and that we can know we have eternal life simply by faith and not by trying to look at our lifestyle. It was very obvious that Bob held strongly to the Scriptures and James White was not as clear. It was very clear that Bob knew he has eternal life while James White was not 100% sure."

J.B. ~ Stillwater, OK

"Again and again, I kept waiting for him [Dr. White] to nail Dr. Wilkin’s hide to the wall with solid exegesis and straightforward argumentation. This did not happen as much as I felt it should. It appeared that Dr. White failed to sufficiently prepare for this debate, merely picking a couple data-points and “winging it” from there. Hardly indicative of the quality of his past work and impressive reputation."

Disappointed Dr. White Supporter ~ Oklahoma City, OK

To be honest, I have not seen on Bob's web pages either, how one can order this debate. Does anyone know?


RazorsKiss said...

It can be found here.

Some of Dr. White's comments on the debate can be found here, here, here and here.

Micah said...

The video exists but it wasn't of a quality worth watching due to some issues with the powerpoint displays.

As to who said what... one party presented a Biblical case for regeneration by the Sovereign grace of God and the perserverance of the saints by the power of an indwelling Spirit and saving Lord, the other side showed pictures of old shacks and made jokes.

Stephen Garrett said...

Thanbks for that info.

I read the reviews by White. It seems people saw the debate differently.

Is there a tape of the debate that one can order so he can make up his own mind?

Thanks for visiting.

God bless,


Stephen Garrett said...

Thanks once again.

It is the first hour of the debate that I am most interested in hearing. This is where the question of the relationship of faith to regeneration was debated.

I believe in assurance and I believe in the perseverence of all the elect.

I do not believe that one is born again before he believes.

I have asked James White to debate this. So has Bob Ross. But, he seems to shy away from wanting to debate this point.

Again, thanks for visiting and God bless.


sparticus said...

I believe it is Bob Wilkin, not Wilkins. The second half of the debate can be downloaded or listened to under the link "Debate with Dr. White on Perseverance of the Saints" found here:

In addition to the link provided above, the entire audio and/or visual (DVD) can be ordered here:

Esther said...

Wow. I am genuinely surprised at Dr. Wilkin's take on the debate, and yet not really, based on his debate performance.

If he listened intently, it certainly didn't come across in the things that he said. What did come across to my husband and me was his determination to make his arguments personal and to intentionally pervert Dr. White's position at every opportunity. The *only* reason we didn't stop listening was because we wanted to hear how Dr. White would respond. If Wilkin did anything intently, it was to demonstrate over and over that he was *not* listening and had *not* done his homework. We were glad that Dr. White did not let him get away with spewing misinformation. I'm pretty sure Dr. White would've spent more time addressing the main issue if Dr. Wilkin had demonstrated any knowledge of White's position at all. Instead, Dr. Wilkin wasted everyone's time mocking views that James White clearly does not hold, which becomes obvious if one takes the time to actually listen to him.