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David Allen White’s revealing and heretical encounter with an Atheist on a radio program


By Bro. Peter Dimond, O.S.B.

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-         The false ideas of “invincible ignorance” and baptism of desire used again to justify evil and heresy –


Here's a link to the radio show this article is addressing; scroll down to #15 if you want to listen










Readers of our website know that we often emphasize the significance of believing and defending the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation.  We often denounce those who attack this dogma or fail to believe in it without any exceptions, as it has been defined.  Sometimes, however, the point we’re trying to drive home in this regard, concerning the pervasive problem which we are confronted with today in the denial of this dogma as it has been defined, can be more effectively conveyed by looking at real-life encounters. 


These encounters between those who profess to hold the Catholic Faith and those who do not often show, in a more powerful way than written treatises, why it’s so important to hold this truth without exception.  These real-life encounters illustrate why those who fail to believe in this truth without exception are on the side of the evil one, even though they may purport to be devout and even uncompromising Catholics in so many other ways.


The interview (which is linked to above) which I want to analyze below is a tremendous case in point.  It demonstrates not only the importance of truly believing in the necessity of the Catholic Faith and water baptism without exception, but also the malice and the evil which lie hidden within those who deny this dogma. 




David Allen White is a name that’s familiar to some of our readers.  He is a professor of literature at the United States Naval Academy and he purports to be a traditional Catholic.  He has been on the cover the SSPX’s magazine, The Angelus.  He has taught at the SSPX’s seminary.  He is promoted prominently by numerous supposedly “traditional” groups, including the Catholic Family News, The Remnant and others.  He was a featured speaker at many supposedly “traditional Catholic” conferences.  (These groups are fast becoming irrelevant, by the way, with their tiresome repetitions of refuted arguments and their abominable failure to call Benedict the apostate even a heretic.)  On our April 14th, 2007 Radio Program, we exposed that David White, like so many others who claim to be part of the “traditionalist” movement, unfortunately rejects the necessity of the Catholic Faith for salvation. 


Well, David White was recently a guest on a radio program hosted by Hugh Hewitt.  White was on Hewitt’s show to discuss belief in God, Christianity and how they have shaped civilization.  There’s link to the program above.  A prominent atheist named Christopher Hitchens was also on the show in order to attack belief in God and Christianity.  Hitchens is the author of a best-selling book called God is Not Great.  As usually happens during these encounters, the person who is attempting to defend Christianity and Catholicism (in this case White) was put on the spot about the key issue of salvation.  Such discussions always seem to come around to this issue: whether the nonbeliever can be saved.  This is because even the nonbeliever perceives that, amidst all the discussion, this question of salvation and the existence or non-existence of eternal consequences is what ultimately matters. 


White was asked by the atheist Christopher Hitchens whether the Protestant host of the show, Hugh Hewitt, is a true Christian.  White did not respond and changed the subject.  Having ignored the atheist’s question, the radio host then asked David White what will happen to the atheist Hitchens when he dies, provided he remains an atheist.


In David White’s answer to this pointed question about salvation, he strikingly confirmed that he is indeed a heretic.  He also gave us a striking example of the deep, dark, satanic spirit of unbelief which underlies a heretical rejection of the Church’s salvation dogma.  This heresy – and thus this dark spirit of unbelief which gives rise to this heresy – is held by so many today who claim to be part of the traditional Catholic movement.  For those who hold this heresy, this evil spirit of unbelief devastates any true and meaningful necessity of the Gospel, of Our Lord, of the Church, etc., as we will see.  These heretics, such as David Allen White, are characteristically in favor of the false ideas of “invincible ignorance” and “baptism of desire.”




In the program the host Hugh Hewitt asks David Allen White: “what is going to happen to Hitchens when he dies… if he stays in the state of atheism that he’s in.”  That’s a pretty straight forward question; it’s quite easy to answer.  But just like Mel Gibson’s heretical interview with Diane Sawyer, in which he indicated that a Jew who rejects Christ can be saved – and just like Bishop Dolan’s faithless sermon which we exposed on our radio program, in which he reduced the dogma on salvation to a meaningless formula – in this radio interview we see another example of how false beliefs on salvation lead people to reject all faith. 


Remember, Christopher Hitchens is a notoriously wicked man.  He’s not only an atheist, but one of the most prominent anti-Christian apologists in the world.  His blasphemous (yet best-selling) book, God is Not Great, viciously attacks belief in God and viciously assaults the Catholic religion.  As the Council of Florence infallibly defined, a Catholic must believe, profess and preach that all non-Catholics such as Christopher Hitchens are going straight to Hell if they die as non-Catholics.  (A strong Catholic might also charitably admonish Hitchens that not only will he go to Hell as an atheist, but his pit will be even worse since he made a career out of publicly attacking the Catholic religion and the existence of God.)  If David White had any faith at all, it would be an easy answer for him to give: Hitchens is headed for Hell and thus needs to be converted.


Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra:

“The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives


 BUT NO!!!  David White answered the question by stating:


I have no business making any pronouncements whatsoever upon what happens to any individual soul at the time of death.” 


So, according to David White, an anti-Christian atheist, who writes a best-seller attacking God, Catholicism and Jesus Christ can be saved.  What an outrage!!!  What a lie!  What an awful heresy!  David White’s business (since he claims to hold the Catholic Faith) is indeed to believe and TO PREACH that all who die as pagans, Jews, heretics, non-Catholics, atheists, etc. will go to Hell unless they convert to the Catholic Faith.  But he completely rejects this.  White is a total heretic who is outside the Church of Jesus Christ. 


This heresy is so destructive to the justice of God, to the majesty of God, to any significance or meaning or power of God’s truth, that one cannot underestimate the spiritual crime it entails.  David Allen White, like so many others, holds that one can reject Our Lord, the existence of God, and even attack both and be saved.  This overturns the entire Gospel.  I will not bother to quote all the passages which demolish this heresy, since we quote them elsewhere. 


I will point out, however, that this anti-Christian heresy contradicts the preaching and teaching of the apostles from the beginning.  When the Jews rejected the preaching of St. Paul and Barnabas, as recorded in Acts 13, St. Paul and Barnabas did not hesitate to proclaim that the Jews judged themselves unworthy of eternal life (i.e. they are headed for eternal death).  The apostles thus proclaimed to the Jews exactly what White says one cannot proclaim!  As we can see, David Allen White blasphemes the Gospel.  The Apostles were apparently ignorant of the evil doctrine that “they cannot judge”:


Acts 13:46- “Then Paul and Barnabas said boldly: To you it behoved us first to speak the word of God: but because you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we turn to the Gentiles.”


The great St. Francis Xavier also shows how a Catholic must affirm that all those who die outside the Church are definitely lost, as he does in regard to a pagan privateer who died on a ship on which he was traveling.


St. Francis Xavier, Nov. 5, 1549: “The corsair who commanded our vessel died here at Cagoxima.  He did his work for us, on the whole, as we wished… He himself chose to die in his own superstitions; he did not even leave us the power of rewarding him by that kindness which we can after death do to other friends who die in the profession of the Christian faith, in commending their souls to God, since the poor fellow by his own hand cast his soul into hell, where there is no redemption.” (The Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier by Henry James Coleridge, S.J. (Originally published: London: Burns and Oates, 1874) Second Reprint, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2004, Vol. 2, p. 281.)


But what’s perhaps most important to remember here is that White’s evil answer, that he doesn’t judge whether the anti-Christian atheist could be saved, would be reiterated, in essentially the same words, by almost all of “traditionalist” priests if they were asked the same question in a radio discussion.  The SSPX, the SSPV, the CMRI, Dolan, Sanborn, Cekada teach the same abominable heresy. 


David White continued on the subject of the anti-Catholic atheist getting to Heaven by stating: “The Church has always said ‘we do not know how God will judge any individual human soul.’  It is not my place to say anything.  It’s my place to have a conversation with Christopher Hitchens… It is terribly unfair to make any assumption about what will happen to any soul; as a Catholic I can’t do that.”




Since heresy is the worst of all sins, according to Pope St. Pius X and St. Thomas Aquinas, this makes one wonder whose sin is worse: Hitchens’ or White’s?  Obviously, Hitchens is extremely evil; I don’t want to underestimate that one bit.  He might be one of the most evil men on Earth.  Considering his atheistic campaign to assault Jesus Christ and the Catholic religion, he is a living representative of the legions of Hell.  However, White is also extremely evil.  He purports to be a true Catholic, but he is nothing more than a faithless apostate.  Below is a citation from St. Thomas on heresy as the worst of all sins from the standpoint of guilt, but not from the standpoint of the corruption of the faith. 


St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 10, A. 6, Whether the unbelief of pagans or heathens is graver than other kinds?: “I answer that, As stated above, two things may be considered in unbelief. One of these is its relation to faith: and from this point of view, he who resists the faith after accepting it, sins more grievously against faith, than he who resists it without having accepted it, even as he who fails to fulfill what he has promised, sins more grievously than if he had never promised it. In this way the unbelief of heretics, who confess their belief in the Gospel, and resist that faith by corrupting it, is a more grievous sin than that of the Jews, who have never accepted the Gospel faith. Since, however, they accepted the figure of that faith in the Old Law, which they corrupt by their false interpretations, their unbelief is a more grievous sin than that of the heathens, because the latter have not accepted the Gospel faith in any way at all.  The second thing to be considered in unbelief is the corruption of matters of faith. On this respect, since heathens err on more points than Jews, and these in more points than heretics, the unbelief of heathens is more grievous than the unbelief of the Jews, and that of the Jews than that of the heretics, except in such cases as that of the Manichees, who, in matters of faith, err even more than heathens do. Of these two gravities the first surpasses the second from the point of view of guilt; since, as stated above unbelief has the character of guilt, from its resisting faith rather than from the mere absence of faith, for the latter as was stated seems rather to bear the character of punishment. Hence, speaking absolutely, the unbelief of heretics is the worst.”


The point here is that David Allen White’s heresy is unspeakably bad.  Pope Leo XIII says that he who rejects one dogma rejects all faith.  This truth was demonstrated in this radio interview; for White’s rejection of this dogma causes him to publicly reduce the necessity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of belief in God and the Catholic Faith to nothing.  But what’s most important to remember here is that what White says to argue for his heretical position is what almost all the priests today would say.




After hearing David White’s response to the question about whether he can be saved as an atheist, Hitchens responds by saying that White must admit that he repudiates the generations of Catholic teaching on salvation.  Hitchens points out that the Catholic Church has historically taught the opposite of what David White said.  Hitchens correctly points out that White must repudiate the traditional teaching of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus: that Jews, Muslims, etc. will go to Hell.  For some reason Hitchens also mentions in this context that White must repudiate (pardon me for having to mention this) the Catholic teaching that young girls who commit masturbation are headed for Hell.  (This is indeed the Church’s teaching, of course.)  White responded by saying:


“Thank heavens I don’t have to defend those who are ignorant of the teachings of their own Church.  Now admittedly this suggests flaws in the hierarchy, flaws in the way in which doctrine has been taught, and certainly misconceptions that have been forced on a number of young people.”


Perhaps White didn’t pick up Hitchens’ allusion to the mortal sin of masturbation.  If he did, White’s answer implies that he is justifying that mortal sin.  Nevertheless, the heretic White says that the traditional dogma that all who die as non-Catholics are excluded from salvation is “a flaw,” “a misconception,” “ignorant.”  This is abominable.  (As an aside, it’s interesting that Hitchens the atheist makes two complaining references to the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexual matters.  In my view, it’s obvious that the restrictions of God’s moral law in this area is one reason that he, like so many others, is enthusiastic about atheism.)


Being a worshipper of literature and not of God, David White then attempts to invoke what he calls “a higher authority” in order to justify his heretical position.  He quotes the poet Dante (!) as his “higher authority.”  White claims that Dante’s works have been guaranteed to be orthodox by Pope Benedict XV.  White explains that, in Paradiso, Dante has a vision of Heaven and asks about a pagan who lived along the Indus River who never had the chance to hear of the Christian religion.  White explains that, according to Dante’s Paradiso, such a pagan can be saved.  He concludes that such a view is Catholic because Pope Benedict XV praised Dante’s works.  This is a ridiculous attempt to justify evil and heresy. 


First, Dante’s fictional vision is heretical.  It contradicts defined Catholic dogma.   Second, just because a pope praises the works in general of a particular author does not mean that every line is safe.  St. Thomas Aquinas is a case in point.  His works have been approved and recommended by many more popes than Dante’s, yet not every line he wrote is safe (e.g. his position on the Immaculate Conception).  Further, a pope’s praise for Dante is not infallible and one could say that such praise represents an irresponsibility which lacks the solicitude a pope must have for doctrinal orthodoxy.  Thus, his argument proves nothing.  For him to assert that a poet’s fictional view of who gets to Heaven justifies an obvious heresy against an indisputably infallible teaching of the Church is appalling and fallacious reasoning.  In any case, it’s quite revealing that White, when appealing to his “higher authority” on a religious matter, quotes a poet – not a magisterial document.




As we have demonstrated many times in the past, all the traditional missionaries and saints held that all who die in ignorance or rejection of the Gospel are lost.  They held this because it’s a defined dogma.  Those who live and die in ignorance of the Gospel are damned for their other sins: dishonesty, adultery, lust, fornication, theft, fraud or whatever it might be.  That’s the traditional teaching of the Church. 


It’s ironic that David White brings up a case of a person born along the Indus River.  The Indus river is the longest river in Pakistan; it’s one of the most important rivers to the area around India.  It gave the country of India its name.  I say it’s ironic that he gives this particular example because below is a citation from the life of Fr. Roberto de Nobili, a 17th century Jesuit missionary to India.  Nobili was the first missionary to the interior of India.  Nobili was accused by some of compromise in his attempts to adaptation to Indian culture.  In other words, Nobili would have been characterized as a liberal among the Jesuit missionaries.  Nevertheless, to illustrate how completely wrong David White is, Nobili held (with all the other traditional missionaries) that not one of the non-Catholics in India could be saved.  The Brahmins accused Nobili in court of saying: 


“… that among the people of this country [India] there is none who has any knowledge of the true God and can attain salvation.” (Vincent Cronin, A Pearl to India: The Life of Roberto de Nobili, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1959, p. 99) 


I instance this case not because the authority of this missionary is something special, but rather because it illustrates how universally this truth was believed.  It thus shows how outrageous, heretical and perverse it is for David White and others (such as the CMRI, SSPV, SSPX, etc.) to say that such a view is not the teaching of the Church!  Bet let’s go even farther east, if you would like, to 17th century China:


As the mission in China grew, Franciscans and Dominicans entered the country.  Their method of evangelizing was direct, uncompromising… The Spaniards among them did not hesitate to proclaim that all the long line of Chinese Emperors were burning in Hell.(Vincent Cronin, The Wise Man from the West, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1955, pp. 279-280) 


That’s how a Catholic acts, considers, believes, answers and preaches on these matters.  That’s how one who believes in Catholic dogma answers and preaches!  David White does not so preach because he does not so believe.  The CMRI, the SSPV, the SSPX, Dolan, Sanborn, Cekada and the rest of the heretics do not so preach because they do not so believe!  They are not Catholic.  What would these Catholic Franciscans and Dominicans of the 17th century have said of one who claimed to be Catholic, such as David White, who not only says that pagans and atheists might be saved (which is evil enough) but that an atheist who attacks Christianity globally might be saved!  They would undoubtedly denounce him as a non-Catholic heretic of the vilest sort.




As discussed already, during the course of his encounter with the atheist Hitchens, David White tried to justify his position on salvation.  After White indicated that Hitchens could be saved, the host Hugh Hewitt pressed the issue.  In my opinion, deep down Hewitt sensed something in White’s answer to be incongruous with White’s claim to value the importance of accepting God’s truth.  In my view Hewitt specifically wanted to know what the Church teaches on the matter, not White’s personal views.  Before White mentioned Dante, as covered above, he actually attempted to justify his heresy by making reference to a piece of literature written by a laywoman named Mary McCarthy.  Think about that one carefully.


If there is one thing which this radio program captured, it’s that David Allen White is not a Catholic, but one whose religious dogmas are formed by works of literature.  What folly!  What heresy!  What nonsense!  What utter stupidity!


1 Cor. 3:19- “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written: I will catch the wise in their own craftiness.  And again: The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”


All of Dr. David Allen White’s study of literature is vain nonsense which profits him nothing.  For a faithful soul, some knowledge in this area might be profitable for recreation or a deeper knowledge of moral truths and how they are manifested in the variegated circumstances of people’s lives.  In his case, however, it’s pure foolishness and actually idolatry.  His use of literature represents the idolization of human wisdom to the contradiction of divine truth.  The fact that this faithless and wicked man is so admired and sought after reveals a striking weakness of vanity and evil pride hidden in so many supposed “traditional Catholics.”  They have an unhealthy admiration for human wisdom: for those who have mastered what are, in the ultimate sense, foolish works of man. 




In the aforementioned radio program, the atheist Hitchens also brought up the Vatican II sect’s recent pronouncement on limbo.  He illustrated how this goes against what the Church traditionally taught.  To this point White offered no good response and implied (by his silence) that unbaptized infants might be saved.


Near the end of the program White also mentioned that he thinks that, in the end, a revelation will come even to those who don’t believe.  The impression given is that, in the end, all unbelievers might be saved.  Near the end of the program David White also stated that we will find out in the end “one way or the other.”  In other words, we will find out in the end if Hitchens the atheist is correct, even though White presumes otherwise.  David Allen White is a despicable heretic.


I want to close this article by reiterating that this case illustrates the deep, dark problem of heresy with so many who purport to be traditional Catholics but are not.  A countless variety of other “traditionalists” would have given the same answers as White.  Those who obstinately believe in this “invincible ignorance” heresy are not Catholic.  They are truly outside the Church and on the road to Hell.  It’s not just about the Mass.  It’s not about externals or neat intellectual arguments.  Before anything else, one must have the faith pure and undefiled; otherwise that person is worthless in God’s sight.


Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “The Athanasian Creed,” Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.” (Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, pp. 550-553; Denzinger 39-40.)