James White’s Testimony on His Conversion to Calvinism

, posted by Richard Coords

Calvinist James White says: “When I read The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, I was just overwhelmed with this sense of God’s holiness, His power, His transcendence, and yet His condescension, the gospel, and it’s just … I want everyone else to have the same excitement and passion and zeal that I do. But the fact of the matter is … at times they don’t, and it’s very easy to slip into an attitude of where you’re like, ‘Well, you know, if you were as spiritual as me, you would, you know,’ or ‘can’t you see these things?’ But you’ve got to remember, two years before you saw those things, were you unsaved?” (see at 2:30-3:13 in this video).

(1) This is exactly what leads many Calvinists to become very aggressive, as they are filled with a zeal for Calvinism, and then seek out non-Calvinists, in order to debate and indoctrinate. Particularly at risk, are new believers. The solution is likely that Churches would need to proactively address it head-on, and make sure to provide additional study materials in the Church library.

(2) James White’s testimony is very telling. Notice that he was swept up in a new worldview. This is very common with converts to Calvinism. Scripture alone doesn’t usually do the trick. Instead, it’s usually the exact thing that James White just described, as a person first conceives of a whole new way of thinking — in terms of God being so big and so large, by being so much more expansive in micro-managing creation, through exhaustive predetermination, and then one conversely feels so small, because they come to realize that they have no free will, and all of their decisions are preordained — and then with this new way of thinking, one looks back to Scripture in order to justify it and legitimize it.

And then comes an Arminian, who uses the Bible to shoot holes through it, and there are legitimate biblical problems with Calvinism. So a Calvinist has to choose between the Bible or their new found worldview. The stubborn Calvinist will find ways to explain and rationalize John 3:16 in order to harmonize it with their new worldview; and then, when confronted with 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 and Ezekiel 33:11, creative ways are imagined in order to get around them, such as with “of the elect” and “secret will” interpretations.

(3) I’d be interested to find out which of the following statements best reflect James White at the time of his conversion to Calvinism:

(A) He was an expert in the doctrines of Arminianism, and had published several articles in support of the Arminian interpretation of biblical election, predestination, foreknowledge, prevenient grace and the atonement?

(B) He was a biblical Scholar, though not in the specific areas pertaining to Reformed Theology?

(C) He was a layman at the time, and, though well read in Scripture, was he not well-informed in the specific matters pertaining to Reformed Theology?

(D) He was a brand new believer in Christ, and not particularly well grounded in any particular biblical theology?