Friday, March 19, 2021

James White Obsession Syndrome

Now that the COVID scare is dissipating, I'm interrupting my normal programming to make my readers aware of a syndrome that appears to infect a small percentage of people... primarily American Roman Catholic males with access to the Internet. Fortunately, the great majority of American Roman Catholic males with access to the Internet appear to be immune (in fact, they have no idea who James White is or what the Roman church actually teaches). 

For a small group though, an interest in apologetics may run the risk of developing into a full-blown James White Obsession Syndrome. What begins as simply learning to defend their church and their beliefs, if unchecked, turns into an obsession with James White. There are signs that you may be infected:

1) A lengthy amount of time is spent negatively mentioning James White on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos, and any form of social media that allows the inner-narcist to take control of a keyboard.  

2) If James White is mentioned, you feel the uncontrolable urge to add a comment about how awful you think James White is. 

This syndrome is hard to cure. There is though a remedy that may work on those who are not too deeply infected:

1) Direct the sufferer to the official Vatican website.

2) Locate the Vatican search engine. Type in the words, "James White." Typically, the results will say this: "0 results have been found for "James White"

3) Using the technique of cognizant dissonance, slowly explain to the sufferer that the Vatican has no idea who James White is, nor do they care who James White is. 

4) Explain to the sufferer that if they really want to be faithful to following the authority structure of the Roman Catholic Church, they should primarily be concerned with the issues that the Vatican is currently concerned with. Instead of obsessing over James White, they should regularly be reading all the news coming out of the Vatican and first being concerned with that.

5) If this doesn't work and they insist that James White is a significant threat, encourage them to contact the Vatican directly to ask if James White is someone the Magisterium should be concerned with. In waiting for an answer,  encourage the sufferer to fast and pray rather than mention "James White" on social media. Breaking this social media addiction though by fasting and prayer probably won't work. Most people would rather spend their time online than doing that boring prayer and fasting stuff.

This has been a public service announcement.  Have a nice day... especially the folks on the "Catholics & Reformed" Facebook Group


zipper778 said...

This is so true, lol. Thanks James.

DTK said...

Thank you, James, for this public service announcement.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you edit the Wikipedia page on Martin Luther? It says that he called for the death of Jews in the introduction but it's literally and unbelievably false (I know it, I've read his infamous and virulent tract many times and it's very far from obvious ; there's a wide difference between advocating expulsion and murder). It is giving a pitoyable and inaccurate image to the Reformer and whether we like it or not, Protestantism also, sadly, to thousands.

James Swan said...

Why don't you edit the Wikipedia page on Martin Luther?

Of what I know about Wiki, since almost anyone can edit a page, it's really not a fruitful endeavor. I foresee spending the time to edit an entry, only to have my edits deleted.

TommyK said...

James, on another note: I have Luther' Sermons from Baker Books (8 Volumes in 4 books) John Lenker. In the introduction to Vol's 1-2, the editor on page 5 mentions that Creuziger differs from Luther; and further states that some of the text was "often twisted and altered in the interest of certain dogmatical tendencies." I was curious to know if these volumes could be under some degree of editorial bias/translations? There are numerous places to where Luther sounds like a free-will preacher. What do you know of these translation/editorial discrepancies? Luther's Works seem to be more sound and accurate to his theological convictions against free will in salvation in comparison to the sermons I have from Baker. Anything on this would be much appreciated. Take care and thanks again for contending for the Reformation. Tommy

James Swan said...

Hi Tommy:

My apologies for the delay. I don't have any specialized insight to the editorial work of Creuziger other than what I've read in the introductions, both in my 7 volume Baker edition and the recent republication of the critical English edition of the Church Postil in the recent volumes of Luther's Works. Fundamentally, Luther trusted Creuziger and approved of his work. That said, over my years of interacting with Luther-texts, I'm amazed with how many hands were involved with Luther's sermons, provoking in me, at times, a sense of skepticism as to whether or not I'm actually reading Luther. For instance, LW volume 1 begins with Luther's comments on Genesis, all based on his sermons. The editors mention something like: there's parts of the sermons that are clearly not Luther's that have been edited in!

At least with Creuziger, Luther praised his efforts on the Church Postil (as compared to say, Roth's work). Whichever sermons you find suspicious, you would need to actually see whose hands put the sermon together.

James Swan said...

By the way, according to the introduction you're citing, it wasn't Creuziger that ""often twisted and altered in the interest of certain dogmatical tendencies." Rather, the text says,

"After Luther’s death, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Church Postil was often, and mostly according to the text of 1543, printed at Wittenberg and other places. But it was changed even more, and often twisted and altered in the interests or certain dogmatical tendencies. In the first complete edition of Luther’s works neither the Church nor the House Postil appears."

TommyK said...

James, thanks for the correction as well as the edification that some of Luther's writing/sermons have been tampered with. When comparing to the doctrinal aspects of Bondage of the Will; it is obvious that some translators/editors have manipulated Luther to various degrees. Luther predicted of problems within the Protestant Reformation; and the proof has manifested itself with the "liberalism" within some Lutheran Churches and seminaries. These editorial changes are sporadic and are offset by Luther's constant proclamation of faith/grace alone, etc. etc. Keep up the site!! Thanks again, Tommy

James Swan said...

The entire genre of textual criticism fascinates me, so I appreciate your comments. There is a large corpus of "Luther" material that mirrors some of the same issues of Biblical textual criticism.

Luther's sermons are at times not something he wrote himself. Rather, note takers transcribed them, and then they edited them. In some particular instances there are different versions of the sermons due to multiple people transcribing them. Sometimes bootleg editions of the sermons appeared (book sellers were trying to make money). One interesting compilation of Luther's sermons was put together by Stephen Roth and he apparently added in positive comments about Mary's immaculate conception. Luther himself re-edited the sermon and took it out!

Then there are the textual issues that happened after Luther died. I've presented some of them here on the blog. In an edition of the Table Talk, a positive mention of "John Calvin" was inserted into one of Luther's comments. In another, Luther is presented as acknowledging his errors on the Lord's Supper.

I've interacted also with people out in cyberspace (typically Rome's defenders) that argue various translations of Luther either "downplay" or "hide" this or that fact. Sometimes there is a ring of truth to this. For instance, I've come across some English translations that try to soften Luther's scatalogical language. Other times though it's simply conspiracy thinking (like Luther's "devotion" to Mary is being covered-up).

In regard to the "free will" issue, I'd have to see the contexts. As I've read Luther over the years, he is not fixated on the "TULIP" issues like many modern readers are. Even with his Bondage of the Will, he does not fixate on that issue his entire career. I have a vague recollection of some comments by the Lutheran Robert Kolb in regard to early factions of Lutherans after Luther's death vying for control of his written corpus, and one of the factions had a more um, "liberal" view of free will.