THE DEBATE SUMMARY
By Christian J. Pinto
Well, the debate between myself and James White took place last night on the Fighting for the Faith radio program with Chris Rosebrough. Planned months in advance, and preceded by controversy every step of the way (as everyone knows who has kept up with this issue), it all came down to just 90 minutes where we discussed Sinaiticus, Simonides, Tischendorf … and Jesuits. For the record, I wish to say that Mr. Rosebrough was, overall, very considerate and handled the debate fairly.
In the immediate aftermath, it is interesting that most of White’s followers have been very reluctant to claim “victory” on his behalf – something they are known for doing. While supportive of his effort, they seem to have generally cooled their typical insults against us. Well, most of them anyway. But we discovered the following Twitter exchange where Jim De Arras tweeted James White:
Jim De Arras@jmdearras2h: “I think you did yourself a disservice arguing with that moron. He will declare victory and gain followers.”
It is important to acknowledge that Dr. White wrote back:
JamesWhite@DrOakley16892h: “Brethren, brother Pinto is no more of a moron than I am a Jesuit. Let’s hold ourselves to a proper standard, shall we?”
I am certainly glad to see Dr. White make the effort to compel his supporters towards greater civility, but I can honestly say that after dealing with the Critical Text proponents for the past six months, they can be every bit as fanatical and unreasonable as any extremist on the Bible version issue. Yet the above tweeter was concerned that our side would “declare victory and gain followers.” Why? Most likely because he realized that Dr. White simply had no salient arguments against the central issue, which was whether or not Constantine Simonides was telling the truth when he claimed to have authored Codex Sinaiticus in 1840.
The Simonides controversy between Dr. White and myself has been followed for months on the CARM (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry) discussion board. After the debate, one of its senior members, Steven Avery wrote:
“… the major attempt of White, his specific claim, was flawed, failed and flunked.”
With all due respect to Dr. White, we could not agree more.
Dr. White’s arguments (or lack thereof) only confirmed the declaration of James Farrer in 1907 that the matter had never been settled and must continue to be considered an “interesting but unsolved mystery of literature.” This has been my position all along. During the debate, White continued to argue that Simonides and his uncle could not have collated manuscripts in the time allowed and mired himself down in speculations which he has no way of proving. He refused to recognize that attempting to figure out how long it might take these men (whose entire lives revolved around manuscripts) is something he simply cannot know.
White also refused to acknowledge that other scholars (like James Farrer) have completely dismissed this view, which had been argued in the 19th century. Even Simonides’s opponents disagreed because they insisted he had the ability to create hundreds (and possibly thousands) of forgeries that would have taken a much longer period of time and involved a far more complicated knowledge of history. This is why they called him a “brilliant” forger.
At the end of it all, White’s overwhelming tendency to confuse historic facts with the opinions of the filmmaker proved to be the demise of his ambition, which was to remove the question mark placed upon the controversy in 1907.
Yet his opposition was not just concerning Codex Sinaiticus, but against my entire film, Tares Among the Wheat. And why? Because it also documents the history of the Oxford Movement which was the aggressive effort of Rome to reclaim England for the Pope. The efforts of Rome and her Counter Reformation precede the 19th century for hundreds of years, and lead right up to the events that happened all the way through the work of the Revision Committee of 1881. The story of Simonides and Tischendorf unfolds during an era that was called “The Age of Jesuitism” by one of the leading historians at the time. But White wants to hear nothing about this, because it does not agree with the world as he had imagined before he saw the film.
At one point, he even threw John Calvin under the bus when a quote from the renowned Reformer disagreed with him. This is remarkable considering that White calls himself a Calvinist. Elsewhere, he dismissed the history of J.A. Wylie as mere “opinion.” The historic oracles of the 19th century were rejected in favor of White’s revisionist ideas of Church history. It only serves to show how incredibly biased he was towards the subject matter and the powerful influence that Critical Text theories can have on those who espouse the tenets thereof.
As I have said many times on our radio program, the neo-Reformers of America today are but a shadow of the original Reformation. The modern Reformed movement has been subverted by historically Romish teachings about both the Bible and history.
Please understand that the above statement does not mean I think James White is a “Jesuit.” I do not hold to that view, and I continue to view him as a brother in the Lord. He was very polite prior to the debate when we briefly spoke on the phone, and I believe he treated the subject as an important issue, which was my primary concern because of comments he had made beforehand. Despite whatever was said months ago (words that no doubt gave the impression that he would spend his time in sarcasm rather than sober discussion) he was, as it seemed to me, committed to making the best argument he could. Unfortunately for his position, his best argument did little to close the case file of Codex Sinaiticus, or what may very well be Codex Simonides.
All in all, the real concern for both sides is the defense of the Holy Scriptures. It should be noted by us all that when the original Reformers began publishing Bibles across Europe, the continent was transformed by the power of the Word of God. It was called “the blessed Reformation,” and that’s how it was viewed prior to the 20th century. Yet under the leadership of modern textual scholars who have embraced ecumenical apostates like Bruce Metzger, Kurt Aland, and the Jesuit Carlo Martini – our nation has gone steadily downhill, and society has been brought to the point where they no longer believe the Bible has any true authority.
Please understand that we do not claim “victory” in the aftermath of this debate. We just don’t see the issues that way. We believe this is about defending the faith that was once delivered unto the saints, and proving all things, to be certain the Church is not deceived concerning a very important part of the Bible’s history. To God be the glory, and in Christ alone is our victory.
It is our intention to do follow up discussions on more of the details and answer some of the specifics that were raised during the debate with Dr. White. Our hope is that the experience will be edifying for the Church and those who have questions about the important issues discussed. We extend our appreciation both to Dr. White and Mr. Rosebrough for recognizing the importance of the issue enough to act upon it.
Finally, I want to say thank you to all of you who have supported myself and our ministry through this challenging time. We give thanks to God for your prayers, your love, and your fellowship in Christ.