Do As I Say and Not As I Do: The Tragedy of the James White Interfaith Dialogue and the Pragmatic Defense Offered by Phil Johnson

The current firestorm related to James White’s decision to facilitate an interfaith dialogue with Imam Yasir Qahdi is puzzling in the least and has become a stumbling block for many who do not understand how White cannot understand that he is “dancing with the devil” as the saying goes.  Mr. White’s response to those critical of his decision has been the polar opposite of remorse and he has in fact dug his heels in and maintained that his actions were right and consistent with what Christians should be doing. Is that true? What bridges can be built to people who teach that Christians who do not submit or convert to Islam should be murdered? What madness is this that has gripped Christians today such that they believe the lie that building bridges to nowhere constitute evangelism? I won’t rehash all of Mr. White’s actions related to this in detail. You can read about that here –

What I wish to address is the support Mr. White has received. Surprisingly a couple of people with very different perspectives, one might say two people with theological beliefs very much at odds with one another, have stepped into the fray to defend Mr. White’s error. I am speaking of Phil Johnson and Michael Brown. This has added a layer of intrigue to the entire situation but has also served to obfuscate the truth of what critics of White’s decision to promote an interfaith dialogue have been saying. By engaging in what appear to be damage control activities on behalf of Mr. White, Johnson seems to have exposed himself as a hypocrite of the highest order. You can be the judge of whether or not that is true based on the information contained in this article. His previous statements seem to be completely contradictory to his stated position concerning James White’s ecumenicalism, or to use the new and improved phrase, interfaith dialogue.

Some background is in order for readers unfamiliar with Mr. Johnson’s proclivity to challenge things he deems inconsistent with Scripture. Example number one involves John Piper’s support of Rick Warren. Johnson left no doubt where he stood on that. Here is a quote and link to the article Johnson wrote about Piper and Warren.

“The fact is, Scripture commands faithful Christians to confront, rebuke, and correct those who twist or reinvent the gospel–not to ask them to speak at our most important conferences.”

See this post for more –

Let me state for the record that I support many of Johnson’s views generally speaking. Specifically I support his insistence that we follow the Scriptures and that we identify what is inconsistent with the Scriptures. That is why it is confusing to see Johnson support James White.

White believes that through an interfaith dialogue Christians can learn the truth of what Islam is. To that end White welcomed Jihadi Imam Yasir Qahdi into a church and then set up the audience to accept what he was doing as the normal actions of a Christian by making several disarming and clearly erroneous statements. Here is an example.

The truth of Islam is that kafirs (anyone not a Muslim by birth or profession) are obligated under Islam to convert, become subject to demeaning and onerous behavior from Muslims or be killed. There is no concept of humanity or of individual human beings and therefore basic human rights within Islam. Dr. Bill Warner of the Center for the Study of Political Islam says:

There is no such thing as humanity, only the duality of the believer and unbeliever. Look at the ethical statements found in the Hadith. A Muslim should not lie, cheat, kill or steal from other Muslims. But a Muslim may lie, deceive or kill an unbeliever if it advances Islam.

There is no such thing as a universal statement of ethics in Islam. Muslims are to be treated one way and unbelievers another way.

The closest Islam comes to a universal statement of ethics is that the entire world must submit to Islam. After Mohammed became a prophet, he never treated an unbeliever the same as a Muslim. Islam denies the truth of the Golden Rule.

By the way, this dualistic ethic is the basis for jihad. The ethical system sets up the unbeliever as less than human and therefore, it is easy to kill, harm or deceive the unbeliever.

The dualism of Islam is more deceitful and offers two choices on how to treat the unbeliever. The unbeliever can be treated nicely in the same way a farmer treats his cattle well. So Islam can be “nice”, but in no case is the unbeliever a “brother” or a friend. In fact, there are some 14 verses of the Koran that are emphatic—a Muslim is never a friend to the unbeliever. A Muslim may be “friendly,” but he is never an actual friend. And the degree to which a Muslim is actually a true friend is the degree to which he is not a Muslim, but a hypocrite.

That’s why Americans were shocked when the Muslim couple in California, who were so friendly came into the office one day and murdered their co-workers.

All of this makes perfect sense to Imam Qahdi and all Muslims who practice true Islam. This is why Muslims hate Jews, refer to them as apes and pigs, and carry on a continual pogrom against Israel. Muslims ensure there will be a perpetual war against Jews and Israel by training their children as soon as they are able to walk and talk to hate Jews. Here is an example of what Yasir Qahdi really thinks of Jews and Christians –

Mr. White and Mr. Johnson perhaps do not comprehend that Islam is based on dualism. Americans and indeed all nations which are part of Western civilization base their logic on the law of non-contradiction. This basic foundation of reason and logic states that if two things contradict one another at the same place, time, and context then at least one of them is false. They might both be false, but they cannot both be right. Islamic logic is dualistic. Two things can contradict each other and both be true. That’s why Imam’s such as Qahdi can sit smiling in a Christian church, make nice and pretend he is truly a friend of Christians and then when he is among his Islamic brethren reveal what his thoughts really are. See this link for an explanation of taqiyya –

Why does Johnson not take White to task for the very thing he previously took Piper to task over? Johnson stated very clearly on a radio interview in September 2011 that not refuting a false religion or false teacher is simply not acceptable behavior for a Christian. Here is the link –

I find it interesting that John MacArthur sees the issue clearly but Johnson does not when it involves Mr. White. Here is an excerpt from MacArthur preaching on 2 Corinthians 6:14. Even though MacArthur was not offering these insights within a context of the James White situation they are nevertheless strikingly appropriate.

“What has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” To put it another way, “what has faith to do with non-faith?” They’re by very definition mutually exclusive. If you believe this and you don’t believe this, then there’s no common ground. Because believing in the gospel and the Word of God is a totally life-dominating faith. The faithful and the faithless have nothing in common. Their ideologies are mutually exclusive. No spiritual enterprise can be attempted with the view to success that involves such a mingling….

Any attempt to get together in a denomination, any attempt to get together in an association, any attempt to get together in some kind of a ministry of evangelism, a campus ministry, a crusade, any kind of event like that, an attempt to get together in a school setting, an educational environment, and supposedly be able to commonly move toward one goal is ridiculous. Any attempt at fellowship in common spiritual life with unbelievers is ridiculous, damaging and falsely reassuring to that unbeliever.

True Christians have to separate from unbelievers in matters related to ministry, teaching and worship. And when I say teaching, I’m talking about teaching that relates to God and His truth.

So, first of all then, it is irrational to attempt to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. It should be obvious to anybody who can think that this is…mutually impossible to bring these two realms together.

Listen, pagans don’t mind joining with Christians in religious activity. They love it. But we can’t allow it. We cannot allow it. We cannot join with unbelievers in worship or ministry or any enterprise that involves God, nor can we invite them to join our enterprise. And it is because of the sacrilege of it.

Any joining to unbelievers is putting idols in the temple of God, or putting the temple of God in an idol temple. It is blatantly, overtly, intolerably sacrilegious.

Those whose passion is righteousness cannot partner up with those whose passion is lawlessness in any common spiritual enterprise. And it doesn’t help God. It’s not a clever way to achieve His purposes; it is a violation of His Word.

Can we make spiritual heroes out of the people that violate these commands? I would think, rather, that a call for church discipline would be in order. (emphasis added).

For believers, there can be no compromise. We cannot engage ourselves with unbelievers in any spiritual enterprise. That’s the issue: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers.” That is the command that sets this text in motion. And it is an unmistakable call to believers to separate from unbelievers. No one could miss that that’s what it’s saying.



I agree wholeheartedly with what MacArthur states above. Johnson and White should both be brought before their respective home church and reprimanded. This kind of selective adherence to the Scriptures is not acceptable regardless of your fan base or public support by other Christians. In this clash between truth and Johnson, White, and their supporters we see the cult of personality once again raising its ugly head. You are not right because of whom you are, how popular you are, how many books you’ve written, or your reputation. You are right when your views are consistent with what the Scripture teaches. White and Johnson are both wrong as wrong can be on this interfaith dialogue issue.

I find it even more surprising that Johnson supports White in the face of White’s continued acceptance of Michael Brown and Brown’s Word Faith theology. It was not that long ago that the ministry Johnson is associated with sponsored what was called the Strange Fire conference. During that conference MacArthur and others denounced Word of Faith theology as well as NAR and other affiliated entities. In the scorched earth approach of the Strange Fire conference speakers, even solid Bible teaching, Gospel preaching non-secessionists were called out. Apparently Johnson doesn’t hold the same view today because Michael Brown defends Hinn, Prince, Copeland, Dollar and every other Word Faith and hyper-grace teacher under the sun. This is strange fire from Johnson for sure.

Why is Johnson defending White when based on his own words expressed over many years, he should be offering correction to White and standing opposed to White’s interfaith dialogue. If White and others are truly interested in understanding Islam then they should be engaging people who have escaped Islam through faith in Jesus Christ such as Shahram Hadian and Usama Dakkok. There are also many scholars who can easily explain what Islam is and what it teaches to White. Why is he not taking advantage of these resources? I know that several platforms have been offered as hosts for this dialogue.

2 John 9-11 says that those that give a platform to a false teacher are taking part in their evil deeds. Would this also apply to those that defend such spiritual enterprises with false teachers and false religions?

Here is the glaring problem: if we cannot even agree that a conversation about Islam with a Christian former Muslim would be much more beneficial to Christians than a conversation with a radical jihadi imam; if we cannot agree that a conversation about Islam with a radical jihadi imam is worthless when you are attempting to pursue truth, then the Christian Church in America has become compromised, has lost the ability to discern, and is one step away from becoming another apologist for the lie of Satan that is Islam.

Islam is a religious man-made system composed of the doctrines of demons and spiritual deception and wickedness. What dialogue is there to have with a belief system that says God has no Son, the crucifixion is a hoax, the Bible is corrupted and useless, and Christians are filthy people where the meaning of filthy is puss-oozing, rotten stinking corpses? Shocking? Then you don’t know true Islam and its time you woke up to the truth that White, Johnson and others are trying to sell you.

In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan the prophet approached King David with a story of a man with many riches and flocks who forcibly took a lamb from a man who had very few. David’s response of anger to Nathan’s story was appropriate and demonstrated that he knew an outrageous and ungodly behavior when he heard it. But David’s response also highlighted the fact that sometimes people can be blind to their own culpability. Nathan’s declaration to David that “you are that man” and then this statement, “Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight?” broke David and resulted in his confession and repentance.

Confession and repentance is a good place to start. After that White and Johnson can ask Christians they have attacked and maligned for standing against their error for forgiveness. If they refuse it is time to place them squarely in the compromised camp and refuse to have any more dealings with them or their ministries until they do.

Pastor Mike Spaulding


8 thoughts on “Do As I Say and Not As I Do: The Tragedy of the James White Interfaith Dialogue and the Pragmatic Defense Offered by Phil Johnson

  1. Why would Christians want to reach out to an Islam that despises them?
    Maybe because we are commanded to by Jesus Himself.
    Matthew 5:43-48 (NASB)
    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    • Hi Andrew:

      Thanks for writing. The title you cite is not mine. That was created by the website that reposted my article. I agree that we are to pray for our enemies and that includes ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. But no where will you find in the Scriptures that we are to invite ISIS or Muslim Brotherhood into our church and present their views as something to have dialogue about. That is misrepresenting what the passage you cited means. Go to their mosques and preach the gospel? Absolutely! Return the favor absolutely not.


  2. A bit of background. I work at Grace to You and Phil is both my boss and friend. I have had a number of troubling interactions with Brannon Howse over the last 5 years or so. Enough that I see an emerging pattern of unhinged conspiracy-driven hit pieces against the brethren. That behavior is definitely something to be alarmed about.

    I can say you have misrepresented Phil and his position on this matter. Here is a lengthier statement, I don’t see it mentioned in your article, so maybe you missed it.

    Phil makes it clear that while he would not personally do a dialog with a Muslim, what James did with Yasir falls into the realm of personal liberty, and is NOT a cause for alarm that James White is now compromised or following Chrislam or whatever other slander one wants to paint this situation with.

    As to Phil’s post addressing John Piper having Rick Warren speak at a Desiring God Conference, if one reads the full context of that Pyro post, he was careful never to condemn John Piper, but to express his concerns in a respectful way that was not setting fire to Piper’s ministry as Brannon and his crew have done to James White. In fact, Phil’s harshest criticism in that article were leveled at the shrill, nasty critics of Piper who wanted to do just that. He writes,

    “Anyway, I remarked on the radio this week that I think a lot of Dr. Piper’s critics have been too shrill, too hysterical, too trigger-happy, too eager for immediate reprisals, and too disrespectful to Dr. Piper. The reactions to that comment have been chilling. I wonder if some of Dr. Piper’s critics would have been happier if I had called for his deportation to Siberia. One blog (wholly written, evidently, on a keyboard with a defective shift key) labeled my position “LUKEWARM,” claiming I was trying to stay “SAFELY IN THE MIDDLE AS TO NOT ISSUE ANY DECISION WHATEVER.” A woman who relentlessly tried to pick a fight with me on my Facebook page finally took her beef to Twitter, where she complained that I was determined to stifle her passion.”

    Phil’s main point of contention in that article was not the idea of using a church building to host a discussion or debate between a believer and a unbeliever in the presence of watching Christians (who will allegedly be mind-controlled by the unbeliever and fall in a cult or rank atheism, or whatnot), but the idea of presenting a known pragmatist, Warren, who peddles a truncated, squishy gospel as someone worthy of our respect and consideration and left unchallenged as to his orthopraxy.

    James DID NOT do that with Yasir. If you watched the 2nd discussion, which took place in the mosque, James spent his entire time giving a defense of the Gospel and the key Christian doctrines pertaining to the nature of God and the person and work of Jesus Christ. Does that not matter to you or is it irrelevant? What Christian minister do you personally know who has preached the faith to a Muslim congregation in a mosque?

    Moreover, John MacArthur’s 2010 ShepCon address is not forbidding what James White did. (Again, his discussion was not a worship service and there was no pulpit and he certainly wasn’t doing ministry together). What John specifically addressed was Christians joining with supposed believers who claim Christ in joint spiritual endeavors. Similar to those who wanted to link up with Roman Catholics in the Manhattan Declaration, which was a big deal in the months prior to that particular conference in 2010. Context is important here.

    What I am truly alarmed by is the fact that men who name Christ have latched onto Brannon’s ridiculous conspiracy laden hysteria about James White and have joined him to destroy Alpha and Omega Ministries. Apparently without doing any amount of genuine research into the situation or the willingness to hear out White’s side of the story. He is automatically dismissed because everyone is afraid of Islam, apparently.

    I’ve listened to James White for nearly 25 years since the 90s when I was a KJV Onlyist. It is foolish — I would dare say sinful — to suggest that a man who has had a quarter century track record of solid biblical ministry and apologetics that is unquestioned, is now compromised and in need of having his life work burned to the ground because he had a dialog discussion with an accused Jihadi. As if a so-called lying terrorist sympathizer doesn’t need to hear the Gospel.

    My exhortation to you is to hear this interview James did with Christ Arnzen of Iron Sharpens Iron. Please, explain to me (AFTER LISTENING TO THE PODCAST PLEASE!) why what James did was a violation of 2 John. Why he needs to have his life work destroyed publicly. Why you feel free to pig pile on him with a gang of dishonest men.

    You are an ordained minister according to your bio who has an earned doctorate. It would behoove you most of all to do him just that rather than run with Brannon’s half-baked narrative.

    I plan to make a copy of this comment and post it to Facebook and twitter just in case it goes down the “your comment is waiting approval” memory hole.

    • Hi Fred:

      Thanks for writing and sharing your perspective on this subject. I have benefited from James’s ministry personally over the years as well. That is why I was alarmed at what I read and watched. I certainly have no intention to “pig pile on him”, although I must say that is a great phrase that I’ve never heard before. Is that from your Arkansas roots? I do not plan to spend anymore time rehashing what is already widely reported and discussed in numerous other places. Nevertheless that doesn’t mean that what James continues to do is acceptable from my point of view. You feel free to disparage Howse and “his gang of dishonest men” and “his half-baked narrative.” I have the same freedom to call James’s behavior as I see it.

      I’ve been told that James has responded with a scorched earth attack upon me and my article. I am told that White’s response was way beyond civil but I have not read it yet so I cannot confirm that. Fred, you stepped over the line with your last comments. I do not like to be threatened. That has no place in any conversation among brethren. You can post anything anyplace you want to. Threatening me to approve your challenges to my article here on my site else you will post it on social media is juvenile and undermines your previous tone and what I believe is your true intention to provide information you believe is missing in my understanding of the entire issue. If you are really interested in informing me of my error by providing background you believe is missing in the current debate then your threat is unnecessary. I’m an open book brother with nothing to hide. Happy to dialogue more with you on this or any subject. Praying God will bring clarity to the entire subject.


  3. Dr. Mike;
    I appreciate your article, though I have many questions and some may surprise you and your readers. But I mean no disrespect.
    I agree that the appearance of Dr. Whites dialog on stage with his tuxedo, bow tie, the stage with flowers, candles etc was really odd.
    It gave me flash backs of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Indian guru musing with The Beatles in 1967. My first thought was “what is James White doing?”
    I was waiting for Islam’s rendition cover of George Harrisons “My Sweet Lord”!
    Dr. James White, is in good standing, and for a considerable time, an Elder of The Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. Why didn’t White consult his fellow elders, and his pastor? If he did, why have they not come forward to defend their permission? Or an inquiry? What about other Reformed Churches? Is there some collective board, or Reformed Baptist counsel that should have stepped to referee /mediate and in matters like this? Here are some possible answers: Alpha-Omega Ministries does not operate under the authority of The Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. World View Weekend (Brannon Howse who broke this terrible story) does not operate under the Biblical authority of Grace Community Church, AKA John MacArthur or as far I I know any particular Church.
    These “ministries” have wonderful direction statements. Excellent education resources! I bought several materials from WVW rallies in Minnesota as far back as 2007, “Grave Influence” by Brannon Howse. Excellent book!!
    These ministries are self-directed. Some with tax status 501-3C. They are not accountable to ANYONE for the content of what is called “discernment”. That is left to the subject whims of the readers, followers, and loyalist that each of these organizations amass. And there’s plenty of merchandise to help the clarion call get out, and keep the war bonds going. And please, I’m not trying to be so flippant, i.e., “war bonds” the Christian social media I belong to, most all members are solidly in your camp. Myself, not so much.
    My protest is that the way this was handled. Dr. James White stands guilty and convicted in the court of public opinion. Also known as popular “discernment polls”.
    The matrix of a higher authority, i.e., elders, pastors in a recognized and ordained and unified counsel would have given Dr. James White at least some protection and a chance to articulate his version in a neutral setting. A kind of Miranda rights protocol if you will. But that doesn’t happen when believers enter in the world of the internet. Maybe we should look at that question (the broader scope). I’m taking this from how the first century apostles kept in track with one another, and separated from public discourse. (privileged to the true believers). The old testament judicial precepts also required a evidence protocol.
    Is all this to be thrown out, all because we now have the internet? And public opinion?
    Thank you for enduring my thoughts.

  4. Just so everyone knows, the five pointer guy posting here has not had any interaction with me other than his strange tweets at me and coming on to my FB page to act like an immature fanboy for someone. I have never talked with him or dealt with him in his job at GTY. I am told he works in the mail room with the volunteers. I would not put too much stock in what he makes up. You might check out his FB page as well to see his apparent Star Wars obsession. I think he is a puppet of his boss Phil Johnson and a quick look at how he seems to parrot much of what Phil says seems to reveal that this is true. BTW, you might remember how they trashed on Dave Hunt for years as well. I think this is a group of good ole boys that try to attack anyone that is not a hyper-calvinists like they are.

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