In the Introduction James White writes about his book, The Fatal Flaw:
“This book examines the ‘gospel’ as presented by the Roman Catholic Church. It is this writer’s position that the Roman system does not know the grace of God, nor the power of the completed and finished work of Jesus Christ. The ‘gospel’ as presented by Rome, then, is not the Gospel taught in the New Testament. Rome has gone far beyond anything the Judaizers in Galatia ever dreamed of. If this be the case, then how can I betray the example given me by the New Testament and sit idly by while millions of Roman Catholics continue to think that what they have been taught will save them? And what of those many Christians who are being deceived into thinking that there really isn’t any difference between Romanism and Christianity?
It is my belief that the greatest act of love I can show for those involved in Roman Catholicism is to warn them — loudly, clearly, and for as long as God wills — that any system that rejects the completed, finished, and utterly unique way of redemption in Jesus Christ is not going to save them. Such a system does not know God’s power, and certainly does not have God’s blessing. Full and complete salvation is to be found in Jesus Christ and in Him alone, not in a system that gives place to man’s works and by so doing destroys the work of Christ, setting it at naught (Galatians 2: 21). This is a wonderful message— a joyous message— that redemption has been accomplished once and for all in Jesus Christ! But before such good news can be accepted, bad news in the form of false teachings must be removed. This I shall seek to do in the following pages. It is hoped that the reader, be he Protestant or Catholic, will consider carefully what is said here” (James R. White, The Fatal Flaw: Do the teachings of Roman Catholicism Deny the Gospel? Crown Publications, 1990; underlining mine–CD).
James White said that “Rome has gone far beyond anything the Judaizers in Galatia ever dreamed of.” Please note that White is discussing the SYSTEM of Roman Catholicism going far beyond the Judaizers, and not necessarily every single Roman Catholic PERSON going far beyond the Judaizers. 1 John 4:1-3 teaches that people are to be judged by the system of doctrine they believe, and thus there is no separating a PERSON from a SYSTEM. However, an important question is whether or not a given person believes every single doctrinal tenet or point of a particular system? Is a belief in “just” the doctrine of the Mass itself a damnable doctrine of demons? Certainly there are nominal Roman Catholics who might be ignorant or apathetic (or both) of official Roman Catholic doctrine found in The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) or the thirteenth session of the The Council of Trent (1551). It does not make sense to be an adherent to a particular faith one knows little about, but it happens. So the primary and important point is what does this professing individual Roman Catholic know and believe about the teachings of Rome? Does he or she believe in the damnable doctrines of the Mass or of Purgatory, etc? Does he or she believe in the damnable doctrine that Jesus Christ died for every sinner without exception? Does he or she believe in the blessed truth that the efficacious cross-work of Jesus Christ demands and ensures the salvation of all whom He represented, etc., etc.
In the Conclusion of The Fatal Flaw (under the subheading of “A word to the Christian reader”) James White writes:
“In light of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass and purgatory, and the fact that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is contradicted by these teachings, how then should the Christian respond to Roman Catholicism and Roman Catholics individually? One must first differentiate between the system and the person. The evil of Roman Catholicism lies in a system, not, by and large, the individuals who are a part of it. Only a small percentage of Roman Catholics are actively involved in promulgating falsehood. The vast majority are simply deceived, led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ by a system of religious works and duties. The vast majority of Roman Catholics have never heard the Gospel message! They have heard much about Jesus and salvation, but they have not heard the truth about these things.” (James R. White, The Fatal Flaw: Do the teachings of Roman Catholicism Deny the Gospel? Crown Publications, 1990)
In view of both these Introductory and Concluding statements in White’s book, it appears he believes that only those who “are actively involved in promulgating falsehood” are also those who have “gone far beyond anything the Judaizers in Galatia ever dreamed of.” If so, then it would be these active promulgating PERSONS who are actually walking in lock-step with the entire Roman Catholic SYSTEM.
Since only “a small percentage of Roman Catholics are actively involved in promulgating falsehood”; and since those promulgating falsehood are presumably those who have — in lock-step with the Roman Catholic SYSTEM — gone far beyond anything the Judaizers ever dreamed of; and since Paul anathematized (judged as unregenerate) the Judaizers, it would seem that by a furious and consistent a fortiori James White would also anathematize (judge as unregenerate) those Roman Catholic PERSONS who are actively promulgating falsehood.
James White says that the
“vast majority are simply deceived, led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ by a system of religious works and duties. The vast majority of Roman Catholics have never heard the Gospel message! They have heard much about Jesus and salvation, but they have not heard the truth about these things.”
What did Jesus say about the blind leading the blind? BOTH fall into the ditch. White exclaims that the “vast majority of Roman Catholics have never heard the Gospel message!” Since one cannot believe in a message they have not heard (Romans 10:14), then presumably James White would judge the “vast majority” of Roman Catholics as lost and under God’s wrath (John 3:36; Romans 10:1-4).
In 1996 James White’s The Roman Catholic Controversy was published. (the book’s subtitle is “Catholics & Protestants — Do the Differences Still Matter?) I do not possess a copy of this book, but I did find an April 13, 2005 book review by Tim Challies where White’s book is quoted from. Here is Challies quoting from The Roman Catholic Controversy:
“Those who believe James White knows nothing of grace, and there are many, ought to consider his words on page 221. ‘I conclude that the official teachings of Rome have compromised the Gospel through both addition and subtraction. Not only are the central places of grace and faith replaced with a human-centered concept, but additions are made that likewise violate the spirit of the Gospel of grace. Does the Roman Catholic gospel save? I do not believe it can. Does it follow that all Roman Catholics are lost? Not unless we believe that all Roman Catholics walk in lock-step with the official teachings of the Vatican. I am thankful there are those who know the freedom of grace even while maintaining a relationship with a Church that does not give place to that freedom in its official teachings‘ (page 221).” [underlining mine–CD]
For James White, important things to consider regarding following Paul’s example with the Judaizers, are whether or not this person is an active promulgator of falsehood or is walking in doctrinal lock-step with the official teachings of the Vatican. White said in The Fatal Flaw (1990) that the “vast majority” of Roman Catholics had never heard the gospel. In The Roman Catholic Controversy (1996) White mentions a minuscule group (presumably different from the “vast majority” never hearing the gospel) of people “who know the freedom of grace even while maintaining a relationship with a Church that does not give place to that freedom in its official teachings.” [I am originally from Utah and came into contact with many professing Mormons (many who called themselves “Christian”) who certainly did not “walk in lock-step” with official Mormon teachings. But would it not be very “curious” to assert there are AT LEAST SOME Mormons “who know the freedom of grace even while maintaining a relationship with a Church that does not give place to that freedom in its official teachings”? Methinks, yes.]
It seems that somewhere between White’s “small percentage” and “vast majority” is a minuscule number of Roman Catholics who are NOT lost, but who somehow “know the freedom of grace even while maintaining a relationship with a Church that does not give place to that freedom in its official teachings.” What does James White believe “come out from among them” means? What was Paul saying in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18? Was Paul saying that it is possible to know the freedom of grace while maintaining a relationship with darkness? with Belial? with idols? with the unclean thing? Is Revelation 18:4 in James White’s bible? Is “sharing in her sins and receiving of her plagues” while knowing “the freedom of grace” another one of those felicitous (or “blessed”) inconsistencies tolerant Calvinists like to talk about?
I think the following “Outside the Camp” article is an important and crucial corrective that relates to much (if not all) of this post: