Yesterday Daniel McClellan pointed out a couple of posts on Michael Heiser’s blog (here & here) about his recent ETS papers and in one of the posts he references a post that James White wrote last year in response to his interpretation of Psalm 82. I read White’s blog regularly but I didn’t remember the post in question. Nevertheless, I believed Heiser when he said:
Frankly, I wouldn’t care at all about what AOM posted about me were it not for the tone. The AOM post has the distinct feel of calling my evangelical commitments into question (again, see the posted link, especially the last half of the post).
Those who are not undying White devotees often recognize that at times he writes with an unpleasant tone, and perhaps it’s just because we’re reading what he says and can’t see his face or hear his voice as he says it (although there’s plenty of Youtube videos that seem to have the same effect) that makes us think this, but we think it nonetheless. So when Heiser said that I took it for granted that White’s post was all that Heiser said it was up until that point. But then he said:
The AOM response is a shame, since I have directed a good number of emailers to their site in the past since there is some good material there. I’d like to continue doing that, but my recommendations will end as of this Naked Bible post unless I receive an apology for the way the AOM post impugns me. And as an integrity check, I’d also like that apology to be appended at the end of the original AOM post itself (or just remove it). I will of course post an apology here so readers see it (and amend this post). I have no interest in keeping readers from AOM material, but it just isn’t congruent for me to recommend people who need answers to questions to a site that impugns me.
Two references to being “impugned” had me interested enough to read the post in question. As I understand Hesier’s usage of “impugn” here, he didn’t intend to say that White simply challenged his views, but rather that he attacked his character, hence the call for an apology (I mean, no one in their right mind would call for an apology for someone simply disagreeing with their views, right?). So I headed over to White’s blog and read the post in question and I was quite surprised to find that there was no discernible tone to get upset about. There was, of course, a tone of confidence since White obviously feels his interpretation of Psalm 82 in light of John 10 is correct (and this should come as no surprise since he’s written quite a bit on these passages both in his published books and on his blog), but there was nothing in the post itself to get upset over. And White certainly did not “impugn” Heiser in the sense of attacking his character, although he did challenge his views as false.
So I write all this to say that it’s a rarity when I agree with White, who has responded here and is equally as perplexed as I am about the charges of impugnment, but I will say, in the interested of full disclosure, that I actually disagree with both men on Psalm 82 and John 10. I disagree with Heiser and agree with White about Psalm 82 in that I see the אלהים as referring to human beings (i.e., Israel’s unjust rulers) and not divine beings. But I disagree with White about what Jesus is doing with the passage (i.e., calling his accusers false judges). I understand Jesus to be pointing out his accusers’ hypocrisy in showing that they take no issue with the psalmist referring to unjust rulers as אלהים but they want to stone him, who does nothing but the will of the Father, for referring to himself as υιος του θεου. But that’s something better reserved for another post.