Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Books by Dave Armstrong: Debating James White: Shocking Failures of the “Undefeatable” Anti-Catholic Champion

 
(395 pages; completed on 1 November 2013 and published at Lulu on the same day)
 
Cover photographs: Raphael, The School of Athens (1510), and detail from lower left
 
----- To purchase, go to the bottom of the page -----
 
 
Table of Contents

Dedication (p. 3):

To all who have ever read one of James White's books or articles on Catholicism, or listened to his oral debates or webcasts on the same topic: especially those who are open to following the truth wherever it leads them.

Introduction (p. 5) [read online]

1. Is Catholicism Christian? [“postal” debate of March-May 1995] (letters begin on pp. 16, 19, 31, 52, 76, and 117) (p. 15) [read original complete debate online]

2. Dialogue on the Alleged “Perspicuous Apostolic Message” as a Proof of the Quasi-Protestantism of the Early Church [May-June 1996] (p. 119) [read online]

3. “Live Chat” Dialogue on Patristic Consensus (Particularly, Mariology) + Analysis of Mr. White's Applied Techniques of Sophistry [29 December 2000-January 2001 / 2 December 2007] (p. 135)
[read online + analysis of sophistry]

4. A Refutation of the Fallacies and Circular Reasoning of James White Regarding Authentic Tradition and Sola Scriptura [27 December 2003] (p. 159) [read online]

5. Rebuttal of James White's Critique of My Book, The Catholic Verses [December 2004-January 2005] (p. 177)

6. Refutation of James White Regarding Moses' Seat, the Bible, and Tradition [May 2005] (p. 205)

7. Critique of James White's Arguments on 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and Purgatory [3 March 2007] (p. 267)

8. Reply to James White on the Council of Nicaea and Its Relationship to Pope Sylvester, St. Athanasius' Views, and the Unique Preeminence of Catholic Authority [2 April 2007] (p. 287) 

9. Reply to Mr. White's Critique of My Book, The One-Minute Apologist: Regarding Deacons as the Equivalent of Pastors and Elders in Some Denominations [16 June 2007] (p. 323) [read excerpts on Facebook]

10. Rebuttal of James White's Review of The One-Minute Apologist: On the Communion of Saints [20 June 2007] (p. 335) 

11. Answers to James White's Top Ten Questions for “Romanist” Converts [4 September 2007] (p. 353)

12. Critique of James White's Exegesis of James 2 in Chapter 20 of His Book, The God Who Justifies [9 October 2013] (p. 369) [read online]

Miscellaneous
Bishop James White on the Book of James: His Juvenile "Challenge" Will be Met [10-7-13]

Announcement of the Book and Discussion on Facebook [10-26-13]

Further discussion about the book and James White on my Facebook post showing the book cover [11-2-13]

Back Cover

Back cover photograph: Raphael, detail from St. Paul Preaching in Athens (1515)


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Updated on 17 April 2014.
 
 
 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Introduction to My Book, Debating James White: Shocking Failures of the “Undefeatable” Anti-Catholic Champion



An anti-Catholic – in scholarly usage – is not merely a person who differs with Catholicism. Nor does it refer to someone who “hates” Catholics or opposes all things Catholic simply because they are Catholic. And it doesn't refer to emotions or opposition to individuals, but rather, to Catholic theology.

The anti-Catholic is one who thinks that Catholicism is not a Christian system of theology and that to be a good Christian and get saved, one must be a bad Catholic; that is, reject several tenets of Catholicism that differ with Protestantism; or in the case of Orthodox anti-Catholics, with Orthodoxy.

But first let me introduce the man who is the subject of this book. James White (b. 1962) is a Reformed Baptist apologist, author, public speaker and debater, and elder at his church. He does many other things in his apologetics besides oppose Catholic theology, and many of these are good and worthwhile endeavors; for example, his critiques of Islam (his recent emphasis), the King James Only viewpoint, theological liberalism, Mormonism, and atheism.

By and large, in dealing with these topics, he does a good job, in my opinion, and I have often publicly commended him for it. When it comes to Catholicism, on the other hand, it's quite a different story. In that domain he falls into the typical (and rather outrageous) errors of anti-Catholic thought.

Mr. White is the founder and director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, which began in 1983. In 1990 he started concentrating on critiquing Catholicism, and produced his first two books on the topic: The Fatal Flaw, and Answers to Catholic Claims (both by Crowne Publications: 1990). His other books (out of 26) that are devoted wholly or largely to Catholicism, include The Roman Catholic Controversy (1996), Mary – Another Redeemer? (1998), The God Who Justifies (2001), and Scripture Alone (2004): all published by Bethany House.

White obtained an M.A. Degree in theology from Fuller Theological seminary in 1989. During the mid-90s as the Internet began to flourish, he began devoting a lot of time and energy to that medium, and he started his weekly webcast, The Dividing Line, in September 1998. It often deals with Catholicism. He developed a website and blog, with voluminous writings, as well.

He is probably most known (and renowned) for his formal oral debates. According to his website he has done 117 of these, starting in August 1990, including 38 devoted to various Catholic beliefs: or 32% of all his debates. He engaged in more than one debate with apologists such as Fr. Mitch Pacwa (five), Robert Fastiggi (four), Tim Staples (three), and Patrick Madrid (two).

White also has challenged me to oral debate on three occasions: 1995, 2001, and 2007. Thus, he averages a request every six years (even though – oddly enough – he constantly asserts that I am a profound imbecile and ignoramus in theological and exegetical matters), and is due to ask me again before this year is out. Perhaps this book will be the impetus.

My answer was the same in every instance: I regard oral debates as vastly inferior to written debate and I don't cultivate public speaking, in any event. I note that White is also a writer, whereas I am a writer only, so that the written medium is where we could and should best interact: the common ground.

“Debating” in the title of this volume is especially apt, as it highlights how Mr. White views himself and how he – by all appearances – especially wants to be known. I love debate and dialogue, myself, as a longtime socratic and apologist. Christian apologists (defenders of the faith: in either its Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox forms) certainly debate; if they don't, they are surely not apologists worth their salt.

The question at hand, however, is how to define a debate, what one's intentions are in undertaking one, and whether the truth is being defended while debating.

Mr. White engages in habitual “boilerplate” regarding his debates and those who (for whatever reason) decline to participate in them with him. One very common theme is his notion that writers “hide behind their keyboards” – they are (he thinks) intellectual cowards and scared to death to face him -- the Terrifying and Unanswerable Scourge of Catholics – behind a podium in a public oral debate. Here are three examples:

Dr. Stauffer: Brave Behind the Keyboard, Unwilling to Defend His Assertions (article title: 3-25-06 on his blog)

. . . Armstrong continues to refuse to debate man to man in person, and wishes only to hide behind his keyboard where he knows that no one, and I mean no one, can possibly force him to answer a direct question. As long as you can use the written forum, you can avoid the very essence of debate, the heart of debate, which is answering direct questions that test your position for consistency. Armstrong knows he is simply constitutionally incapable of the task, but he refuses to admit it, opting instead for this kind of rhetoric. (7-12-07 on his blog)

There are far too many folks who hide behind a keyboard on web forums . . . (2-3-09 on his blog)

Mr. White's typical treatment of yours truly (since 1995) is clearly observed above. I will try as much as is possible in this book to avoid documenting his constant juvenile and sub-Christian resort to personal insult, so as not to afflict readers with silly tedium (I wish to stick solely to theological issues). But removing White's ubiquitous insults of his Catholic opponents in written records is very often about as easy as removing the white stripe from a candy cane: it's so intermingled as to be impossible to extricate from the substance. I'll do my best! 

The other frequent and annoying theme with regard to Mr. White's debates and his “spin” about them, is the notion that when an oral debate did occur and the other party didn't make it available in his venue, this “proves” a tacit admission of defeat. Here's an absolutely classic instance of that polemic, from a website article (9-18-00) reprinted on 12-28-12 on his blog:

I have seen my opponents use many tactics to cover over poor performances in debates. You will find documented on this website at least one imaginative approach taken by Catholic Answers back in 1993 when Patrick Madrid attempted to do damage control after our sola scriptura debate in San Diego by writing “The White Man’s Burden” in This Rock magazine . . . 
 
But never before have we seen such complete and utter admission of defeat than we are seeing from St. Joseph Communications regarding the July debate with Tim Staples on Papal Infallibility in Fullerton, California . . . 
 
. . . we have learned that Saint Joseph’s is still not selling the audio tapes of the debate, and that more than two months after the encounter. We have been making the tapes available since the week after the debate. We made it available as soon as we possibly could. . . . you cannot, as of today (September 18th, 2000), order the debate from Saint Joseph’s. Why not?

Of course, White has never ever linked to our own first lengthy 1995 “postal debate.” He gave me permission to post it on my website, but he has never linked to it. Thus, if we follow his reasoning above, how is that not an admission that he lost the debate (especially given the fact that he left my final 36-page single-spaced response utterly unanswered)? Otherwise, why wouldn't he encourage folks read our exchange, so they can see how marvelously he allegedly did and how miserably I did?

White would respond that our exchange was not a debate in the first place, because it wasn't moderated or live in front of an audience. It would be tough to argue with a straight face that a debate must always be oral and can never be in writing. That would take out, for example, many of the famous debates in the 16th century between Catholics and Protestants, such as those between Erasmus and Martin Luther, or John Calvin and Cardinal Sadoleto. It would also entail the absurd position that the ancient philosopher Plato wrote no dialogues or debates (often reconstructions of the great Socrates engaging in dialogue).

For my part, I have had a consistent track record in favor of written, point-by-point exchanges where two parties seriously interact with each other and engage in several rounds of back-and-forth response. I have participated in well over 700 of these on my blog and earlier website, since 1996 when I first went online. I wrote at length about the relative merits of oral and written debate in a website paper dated January 2001:

It is said that in a public, oral debate, obfuscation, or “muddying the waters” is minimized by the other person's ability to correct errors immediately, and to “call” the opponent on this, that, or the other fact or argument. But this assumes that immediate, spur-of-the-moment corrections are more compelling than a correction which resulted from hours of careful research with primary sources, Scripture, etc. 

It is said that live oral debates are a better use of time; that things can be said quicker than they can in writing. But I respond that truth takes time to find and communicate. Propaganda, on the other hand (such as the norm of today's political rhetoric) is very easy to quickly spout. Evangelicalism lends itself far more easily to shallow rhetoric and slogans; Catholicism does not. It is complex, nuanced, and requires much thought and study. And thought takes time, no matter how you slice the cake. Again, truth and the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom requires time. 

It is claimed that there is more interest in oral public debates. I'm not so sure about that, especially with the advent of the Internet, but perhaps this is true. In any event, that has no bearing on my own objections. It is not public debate per se I am opposed to, but the perversion of it by unworthy tactics and methods, which is the usual result when one is dealing with anti-Catholics. So I am actually supporting what I consider to be true debate, not the pale imitations of it which pass for “debates.” 

It is asserted that it's harder to get away with lies and half-truths in the public arena. Quite the contrary, I would maintain; it is much easier to disinform and misinform, because one can put up an appearance of confidence and truth very easily, through rhetorical technique, catch-phrases, cleverness, playing to the crowd, etc. These things are by no means as "certain" as avid proponents of oral debate make them out to be. 

It is stated (by anti-Catholics) that Catholics don't fare well in public oral debates. Under my thesis, I could readily agree with that. It is true that the Catholic faith is not conducive to an environment where sophistical carnival-barker, used-car salesman types try to distort, twist, and misrepresent it at every turn (and this need not be deliberate at all: it matters not -- the end result is the same).

In an earlier paper (11-27-00) I wrote:

The Catholic position is not well-presented at such “debates” (i.e., public, oratorical ones) because it is complex, highly interrelated, and (in its complexity, spiritual profundity, and inner logic) much more a “thinking man's religion” than Protestantism is. Presenting such an outlook can't very easily be done in a time-limited debate where our opponent is playing the audience like a carnival barker or a dishonest politician. It can be done in a book or a lengthy article, or in a website which deals with all the interrelated topics (or at least links to them), so that the inquirer can learn how they are thoroughly biblical, coherent, and true to history (and development of doctrine is also another huge and crucial, necessary factor not easily summarized or even understood by many).
 
Again, it has to do with the complexity and interrelatedness of the Catholic position, and the difficulty in promulgating it in sound-bytes, as is the case in so many brands of evangelicalism. Websites are uniquely designed to teach the faith, if this complexity is granted (with the technology of links). I think the only near-equivalent to this in live debate would be a series of debates, one after the other, so that the faith can be seen in its many dimensions and in its marvelous cohesiveness: what I would call a “cumulative apologetic argument.”
 
In a debate about papal infallibility, for instance, it would be necessary to also have debates on apostolic succession, episcopacy, the nature of the Church, indefectibility, the nature of authority, NT teaching on Tradition, development of doctrine, the self-defeating nature of sola Scriptura, etc. I don't think the average Protestant has any hope of understanding papal infallibility (and “problems” like the Honorius case) without some knowledge of these other presuppositional issues. 
 
In short, then, I think that any number of Catholic apologists could and would win such a debate on content (because our argument is true, and many apologists could convincingly present it), yet “lose” it in terms of impact on the audience, and in terms of the difficulty of persuading even those fair-minded or predisposed to be convinced of our side. We should take before and after surveys of people who attend these “debates” to see whether what I suspect is true or not (and make it a condition of the debate).
 
If we must debate these sophists and cynically clever men, at least we need to make sure they have to also defend their position and not just run ours down with the standard, garden-variety anti-Catholic gibberish, bolstered with “quasi-facts” and half-truths presented in a warped, distorted fashion. Those who don't know any better will always be taken in by those tactics (which is exactly why anti-Catholics continue to use them, consciously or not).
 
Most public debate formats will not allow a fair exchange to occur, due to complexity of subject matter, and the stacked deck which requires us to defend complex truths, while the anti-Catholic escapes his responsibility of defending the generally unexamined absurdities and self-contradictions of his own position. Many anti-Catholics are never, ever willing to defend their own view beyond the usual trivial, sloganistic, sarcastic jibes.
 
It depends in large part on how one defines “debate” or being “good at it.” If by that is meant that a person is able to be quick on his feet and offer both objections and answers; sure, many anti-Catholics are (especially the more educated ones). If, however, one means by being a good debater, being honest with the facts and honestly dealing with one's opponents best shots, most professional anti-Catholics are atrocious.
These are my opinions about the shortcomings of circus-like oral “debates” with anti-Catholic apologists, and the main rationale for why I don't engage in them. If someone thinks that written debate is not debate, then this book is not for them, since it will mostly consist of written debates and point-by-point critiques. But for those who agree with me that written, back-and-forth, substantive exchanges are worthy of the name “debate,” this book will be a (hopefully helpful) close examination of the flawed theology of James White and his critiques of Catholicism. 


In fact, despite his “oral debate only” rhetoric, Mr. White has written or contributed to at least two books that consisted of debates with others: Debating Calvinism vs. Dave Hunt (Multnomah: 2004), and The Plurality of Elders in Perspectives on Church Government: Five Views of Church Polity (Broadman-Holman: 2004). He's surely debated me, too. 
 
I'm happy, as always, to present both sides and let the reader judge. This is the beauty of dialogue or even non-dialogical exchanges where at least one person defends a true position. The truth will always shine through if one is open to following it wherever it may lead. White's efforts at debunking Catholicism fail first and foremost because he is opposing what is true. “You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.”

The material will be presented chronologically, and Mr. White's words (excepting the first very long debate) will be italicized. If his position is so superior, it'll withstand all this close scrutiny, But if not . . . 


* * * * *

 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dialogue on Faith and Works and the Relation of Each to the Final Judgment (vs. Bethany Kerr)


This took place spontaneously in a Facebook post announcing a new paper of mine. Bethany is a very friendly evangelical with Calvinist leanings. Her words will be in blue.

We are justified by our faith and our works, and it is not of ourselves. It's not a contradiction when James says we are justified by works, because if we are saved we will necessarily have works...

For example, you can't control your own conception or birth, and Jesus metaphorically explained salvation as being "born again".  A baby is born, not of his own will, but of God's. A baby cannot will himself into existence, and neither can one dead in trespasses and sins will themselves into being made alive in Christ.

How do we know a baby is alive? By seeing if he is breathing, kicking, sucking, etc. By the baby's works, we find evidence he has been born. This is the way we come to the conclusion that he is alive.

In the same way, our works "justify" in that they provide evidence for our rebirth. A baby can only be born once, and likewise one can be spiritually born only once.


We don't disagree on those matters, as I noted.

So you don't believe we in any way earn our salvation?  

We can't earn our salvation by our own efforts, considered in isolation from God's grace (the heresy of Pelagianism). We can, however merit in God's sight by applying the gift of God that He gave us (as St. Augustine put it: God "crowning His own gifts"), and working together with Him. After regeneration and initial justification we can do meritorious works, enabled and bathed in God's grace.

These are not abstractly separated from salvation and put in a neat little box of "sanctification only," as Reformed and other Protestants do. Since true biblical justification is infused and transformative, works are part of justification.

Hence we find that, e.g., in 50 Bible passages I've found about the final judgment, only works are mentioned and never faith. One cannot help but to find that striking.
 


If they're not completely separated from salvation, isn't that saying they play a role in achieving salvation?

Yes, in the sense I said. The problem is that Protestants almost always misunderstand the exact sense that Catholics believe in. 90% of all such discussions require time spent simply explaining what we believe, because the misunderstandings are so massive and systematic.

If you read my recent paper vs. James White, I explain much of this in it. I wrote in the paper, citing one of my own books [Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths]:

For the Catholic, justification is not the same thing as salvation or the attainment of eternal life. It can be lost or rejected by means of human free will and disobedience. So, to assert “justification by works,” even in a qualified sense, is not at all the same as asserting salvation by works. Therefore, it is scripturally improper to assert either salvation by works alone or salvation by faith alone. They are never taught in Holy Scripture, and are both denied more than once. Justification by faith or justification by works can be asserted in a limited sense, as Scripture does: always understood as hand-in-hand with the other two elements in the grace-faith-works triumvirate.

Also from the paper:

Catholics believe we are justified by faith and also by grace-based works done by the regenerate believer in conjunction with faith, as a co-laborer with God (1 Cor 3:9; 15:10; 2 Cor 6:1). . . . The Bible elsewhere freely places Rahab's faith and works together. They are of a piece: neither can or should be ignored:

Hebrews 11:31 [RSV] By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given friendly welcome to the spies.

Notice the "because" in the verse? Moreover, it is not foreign Scripture, to expressly state that works are the cause of justification or even a central criterion for eternal life. We've already noted this in Paul, above. Here it is again (repetition being a good teaching device):

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

So you don't believe the works themselves in any way merit salvation, except in the sense Protestants believe... That our works are the fruit of our salvation and not our means of earning or keeping it?

I did read most of the article... Okay I skimmed it... But I do feel confused about what you're saying because it sounds like you're saying two things.

I have talked to many Catholics who believe that you must work In order to enter heaven... Not as a result of salvation but the cause of it. I once had a friend who I asked, if you were standing before God and he asked you why he should let you into heaven, what would you say? She replied, not mentioning Christ once, but listing her various works.


And she was very scriptural, because that is what the Bible always gives as a reason to enter heaven. I found 50 of these passages.

But in the case of Rahab the harlot, the Bible also refers to her faith, which was the cause of her works.

I will send you my book on salvation: e-book in a PM. I also have lots of material on my Justification and Salvation page that goes over all these sorts of questions.

Thanks Dave, I'll read it.

If we can tell God that he should let us in on the basis of our works, then that nullifies, "lest any man should boast."

Why does Scripture mention works only every time it discusses the last judgment and being let into heaven or sent to hell? Matthew 25 is the classic . . . I wouldn't argue that this means faith is no factor, but the fact remains that it is absent in all those accounts. Therefore, works cannot be separated from the equation of final salvation. But they are always accompanied by faith and enabled by God's free grace.

It's not boasting about works, but showing one's genuine faith via works, as in James; showing that it is a real faith and not dead, lifeless, unfruitful faith.

It's showing faith that on the basis of works, and not Christs atonement, God should allow you into heaven though. The question was "why should I let you in heaven". If the answer to "why" is "because I was good", that is boasting in your works to enter heaven.

The Bible talks about works the same reason I say a baby is alive because of his works (breathing, crying, etc.) Could a baby boast that he breathes? Or cries? Those abilities only came through the credit of God. 

Whatever you call it; it's scriptural. Our answer to God's question of why we should go to heaven when we stand before Him, could incorporate any one or all of the following 50 responses: all perfectly biblical, and many right from the words of God Himself:

1) I am characterized by righteousness.
2) I have integrity.
3) I'm not wicked.
4) I'm upright in heart.
5) I've done good deeds.
6) I have good ways.
7) I'm not committing abominations.
8 ) I have good conduct.
9) I'm not angry with my brother.
10) I'm not insulting my brother.
11) I'm not calling someone a fool.
12) I have good fruits.
13) I do the will of God.
14) I hear Jesus' words and do them.
15) I endured to the end.
16) I fed the hungry.
17) I provided drink to the thirsty.
18) I clothed the naked.
19) I welcomed strangers.
20) I visited the sick.
21) I visited prisoners.
22) I invited the poor and the maimed to my feast.
23) I'm not weighed down with dissipation.
24) I'm not weighed down with drunkenness.
25) I'm not weighed down with the cares of this life.
26) I'm not ungodly.
27) I don't suppress the truth.
28) I've done good works.
29) I obeyed the truth.
30) I'm not doing evil.
31) I have been a "doer of the law."
32) I've been a good laborer and fellow worker with God.
33) I'm unblameable in holiness.
34) I've been wholly sanctified.
35) My spirit and soul and body are sound and blameless.
36) I know God.
37) I've obeyed the gospel.
38) I've shared Christ's sufferings.
39) I'm without spot or blemish.
40) I've repented.
41) I'm not a coward.
42) I'm not faithless.
43) I'm not polluted.
44) I'm not a murderer.
45) I'm not a fornicator.
46) I'm not a sorcerer.
47) I'm not an idolater.
48) I'm not a liar.
49) I invited the lame to my feast.
50) I invited the blind to my feast.

Where does Jesus get glory in all of that list?

It's not boasting. We understand that it is from God. Yet we still did them, working with God's grace, as Paul says: "working together with him . . . " "Boasting" in the sense that Paul condemns would be saying that "I did these works with no help from God's grace at all; therefore I have earned heaven." That is the Pelagian heresy.

What he did on Calvary just seems ignored... And that is my main problem. He became sin for us. All of our sin was laid on him. By his stripes we were healed. Sin was inputed to him, and righteousness was imputed to us.

He gets the glory as the source of the grace that enabled all the works. This is what the Bible says: all that is straight from biblical accounts. If you say it is not giving God glory then your beef is with the Bible itself and Jesus and Paul's and other's words, not with Catholicism. Read Jesus' words in Matthew 25:

Matthew 25:31-46 When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

But notice that the sheep asked him, when did we do these things? They did not recall their goodness for merit. 

I hope you know I'm not trying to be annoying with these questions. 

You're not interacting with the biblical data . . . . this was the same problem with White's chapter. He read into the text things that weren't there, whereas I exegeted it and gave relevant cross-references.

When we stand before a righteous and holy God, can we really see ourselves as righteous except by his imputed righteousness? Isaiah cried, I am a man of unclean lips... Was he not a righteous man?

Yes, and now you've stumbled into why purgatory is so necessary. Thanks! We make it to heaven because we've exercised faith by God's grace, in Jesus; accepting His death on the cross on our behalf; exhibited by works. Now we have to be made actually holy and without sin, and that's where purgatory is necessary for almost all of us.

No; that is the reason that atonement is necessary. That is why when God asks, "why should I let you into heaven?" I can say , "thank you for providing a lamb to take place of me, taking on the full penalty for all of my sins, so that I could enter heaven. Thank you for your promise, your free gift." Purgatory implies that Jesus payment was not enough.

You can say that; sure. My point was that whenever Scripture deals with this exact topic, that is never what it describes as being said; rather, it's always works. And that is what you have to grapple with: why that is. The same Jesus also said:

Matthew 7:16-23 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? [17] So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. [18] A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. [19] Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20] Thus you will know them by their fruits. [21] "Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [22] On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' [23] And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' 

Ok well I will agree to disagree for now.

Like I said, you're not disagreeing with me, but multiple instances of inspired Scripture. All I've done is cite Scripture on this. James explains all of this nicely, and that was the topic of White's chapter that I replied to:

James 2:14-26 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, [16] and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? [17] So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. [18] But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. [19] You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder. [20] Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? [21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? [22] You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, [23] and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. [24] You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. [25] And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? [26] For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

Echoed by Paul:

Romans 2:5-13 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. [6] For he will render to every man according to his works: [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; [8] but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. [9] There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, [10] but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. [11] For God shows no partiality. [12] All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. [13] For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

I'm sorry I realized that sounded abrupt. I didn't mean it to sound that way. I had a baby crying in the background so had to tend to him.

We have both cited Scripture. You more than me since I was basically asking questions, but I agree with all the scripture you post. We have disagreement on the interpretation of those scriptures. You agree there, I'm sure.

No problem, Bethany! 

*****