Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Technology at Sea
08/31/2005 - James WhiteWell, I must admit, the Sun Princess is quite the ship. I just discovered that aside from the Internet Cafe (which I had become accustomed to on past cruises), this ship has a Wi-Fi hot spot that, though it costs the same as the Internet Cafe, allows me to use my laptop so as to get my regular mail, not just special mail sent to a special address. And so, here I am! I can blog, though I am not sure how much I will be able to do as far as pictures go, since that requires getting an FTP connection, which takes time, and given this is by satellite, might be just a little tricky. But in any case, greetings from somewhere at sea between Ketchikan and Juneau!
Today we had a session wherein Dr. Jim Renihan spoke on the topic, "That's Just Your Interpretation." It was a great introduction to the importance and practice of biblical hermeneutics. It was held in the show lounge on the ship, and the stage has the brightest, most amazingly RED stage curtain I've ever seen. I told Jim that no respectable Reformed Baptist would be caught dead speaking in front of something like that.
Personally, I am sitting on my balcony listening to the waves rolling by, watching the storm clouds dance on the mountains only a few hundred yards away as we move through the Inner Passage. It is only in the mid to lower 50s, and, of course, as always on a ship, there is some wind, so I have to warm my hands up every few minutes. But, it was 116 at my home in Phoenix last Sunday, so I will enjoy this cool weather, and the incredibly clean air, for as long as I can!
Finally, we all continue to pray for Eddie Exposito and the members of his church at this time of devastation in New Orleans and all along the Gulf Coast. We pray God will provide strength and the means of ministry to all those seeking to minister during this time of trial.
Hurricane Relief for Sovereign Grace Fellowship in New Orleans
08/31/2005 - Rich PierceMany of us have seen recent video of the devastation done by Hurricane Katrina to the city of New Orleans, the floodwaters covering the city, the damage to the SuperDome, and the people being evacuated.
Just north of New Orleans on Lake Ponchartrain is the town of Slidell, Louisiana. Slidell was hit particularly hard by the storm, with much of the town left underwater, and some reports calling it a total loss.
One of our #prosapologian channel regulars, Eddie Exposito, is co-pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Slidell, and was forced to evacuate with his family. Eddie and the members of his church will likely return to face major repair of damage, and some may experience complete loss of their home and possessions.
Alpha and Omega Ministries has taken steps to set up a Paypal fund to help provide for the needs of Eddie and his congregation as they return home and face the task of repair and rebuilding. Please pray for the members of Sovereign Grace Fellowship, and consider making a donation to meet their needs at this time.
Greetings from Ketchikan!
08/31/2005 - James WhiteGreetings from Ketchikan, Alaska! I was informed that there is an Internet Cafe with reasonable prices in port, so I quickly put something together to let you all know how things are going up here in the Inner Passage of Alaska.
Yesterday was the second of the two debates in this series, this one a four-man discussion of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was joined by Dr. Jim Renihan of the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California. We took the affirmative in confessing the historic doctrine of the resurrection of Christ over against John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, both considered to be the leading "Historical Jesus" scholars in the world. The debate/discussion was less formal than the Saturday evening debate, and lasted right at two and a half hours.
There was a great deal of direct dialogue in this discussion. We each had ten minutes to make our opening presentations (Dr. Borg is speaking in the first picutre) and then we basically asked questions and dialogued for an hour thereafter. Then we had a period of audience questions. The dialogue was respectful and amiable, despite the many temptations that would exist for it to become otherwise in light of the deeply held convictions on both sides. Once again we have proven our critics less-than-honest when they seek to misrepresent the debates we have pursued for fifteen years now. Indeed, we now have fifty-eight examples of how the truth can be defended in a respectful manner. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Heading to Sea: Quick Report
08/28/2005 - James WhiteWell, we are starting to get re-packed as we head out early in the morning for the drive to Vancouver, from whence we will head to sea Monday evening for the apologetics cruise to Alaska. Keep especially Tuesday at "high noon" in prayer, as that will be the four-man debate on the Resurrection. Pray as well for my son Joshua, who will be doing the audio and video taping of the debate. There are always unforeseen challenges, and we really want the taping to go well.
A quick report on the weekend. We packed out Emmanuel Baptist Church on Friday night as we kicked off the conference. Dr. Jim Renihan, head of the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies, started us off with a tremendous presentation of the authority and inspiration of God's Word. I then spoke on the Da Vinci Code, and then Steve Camp led in worship. It was a tremendous time! The next morning I spoke on the canon of Scripture, and then we had a round table discussion. In the afternoon Dr. Renihan and Dr. Ascol continued the emphasis upon the authority and sufficiency of God's Word.
Then, of course, came the debate. Here you see a picture of myself and Dr. Crossan chatting before the debate began. John Dominic Crossan was a tremendously amiable participant in the debate, and as a result, the debate was exactly what we desired: respectful, clear, to the point, and hence very useful. I focused upon the presuppositions that Dr. Crossan (and many in the Jesus Seminar in general) bring to the text. This led to some excellent exchanges, especially during the cross-examination period. I truly believe the recording of this debate will fill a hole in the existing material relevant to this topic, for I have surely not heard anyone approach the topic from this perspective before.
Lots of people worked very, very hard to make this weekend happen. Most especially, Rich Pierce, Mike O'Fallon and all the folks at Sovereign Christian Cruises, Larry Vondra, and my own son, Josh. My wife snapped this picture of Josh and I, and I thought it turned out rather well, especially in perspective. I was very proud of my son as he worked alongside everyone else in setting up, operating cameras, etc. It was truly a wonderful weekend all around.
Finally, some of our regulars in our chat channel have been forced to evacuate New Orleans in the face of hurricane Katrina. This is the "big one" the folks in New Orleans have talked about for years, but have dodged for the past four decades. Please pray for them and for all who are suffering at this time.
What a Tremendous Debate!
08/27/2005 - James WhiteIt is very late so I won't go into details now, just a quick note to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The debate went far better than I could have possibly imagined. I was particularly happy with the interaction between myself and Dr. Crossan during the cross-examination. Kudos to Rich Pierce and all the gang who worked so very hard to pull all of this together---Mike O'Fallon and all his folks with Sovereign Cruises, and all the volunteers who put in countless hours and a lot of hard work (including my son Josh!). The list is long and I won't start it lest in my tired state I forget someone. In any case, it was a tremendous blessing, and as I said, I could not have imagined it going any better. Thank you once again for your prayers!
What a Wonderful Evening
08/26/2005 - James WhiteWell, the 2005 A&O Conference started off on the right foot this evening. What a wonderful time we had! The Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church was completely filled. Honestly, we couldn't have seated another five folks if we tried. Jim Renihan began with a tremendous and passionate presentation of the inspiration and authority of the Word of God. It was so tremendously encouraging to have one of the leading Reformed Baptist scholars starting off our time presenting the very truths I have sought so long to proclaim. I then followed with a discussion of the Da Vinci Code and its blatant lies, and then Steve Camp closed our evening with an hour of wonderful worship and music.
What a tremendous group of believers have come out to Seattle! How encouraging they have all been! I can really tell that this weekend is indeed being prayed for by believers all over the world, and the Lord is blessing.
Update from Seattle
08/26/2005 - James WhiteWow, old home week has begun! I just went down to have lunch with Mike O'Fallon and Bill Webster, and ended up running into c0ach, solaChristo, MarieP, Life, redgoatee, Dr. Renihan and his wife, Bill McKeever and his wife--we are taking over! My son has arrived, Steve Camp is on his way from the airport as I type this, and God bless Tom Ascol, he left at like 3am his time, and will be in here soon (after a massive layover in Houston!) I am truly excited as I see all of this coming together!
08/26/2005 - James WhiteI feel like a balding psychologist! But I can't erally say that, since that would make Rich the equivalent of Roz...well, they do both start with an "R."
Anyway, things are moving fast here in Seattle. Lots of folks arriving, and that's always exciting, seeing familiar faces, as well as new ones. Always encouraging as well. Preparations are on-going at the church for the beginning of the conference this evening, and, of course, I'm focused upon tomorrow evening's debate with John Dominic Crossan. Travel issues have arisen, as they always do; Steve Camp's plane had a mechanical issue and the flight was canceled; not sure when he will get in today, Lord willing. Tom Ascol is in Florida, and we all know what THAT means. Hope he is able to make it in as well.
Rich and Mike and Larry are already hard at work getting things set up, and I am busy in my room working on my notes, presentation, questions, etc. Please keep us in your prayers, and may God be glorified!
Off to Seattle
08/25/2005 - James WhiteJust a quick note as I'm headed to Seattle. Really looking forward to meeting all of those who are coming for the conference and debate.
I notice a few folks out there who are extremely excited and happy that when I quickly put together a response to Karl Keating on his ridiculous attack upon John MacArthur that twice I referred to Pope Boniface instead of Pope Benedict. Ignoring the substance of what I wrote and focusing solely upon mixing two artificial names (shall we just call him Joseph Ratzinger and stop the pretension of the Papacy and its naming policy?), some have jumped on this as if it has some kind of meaning. One Anglican wrote,
This is just too funny. How are those of us who disagree with him supposed to take him seriously? Despite the fact that he continually alienates Roman Catholics by calling them names (Christ-crucifiers, Popish, heretics, Romish, etc.) and continually mocking the ecclesiastical offices which they hold dear, how does he expect to be effective when he cannot even get the name of the current Pope right?
One will note that 1) this writer ignores the discussions of the election of Ratzinger that took place at the time and the proper designation provided; 2) he ignores the entire substance of the post itself, 3) he confuses biblical refutation and disagreement with mocking, and finally, 4) I would like to challenge this would-be critic to provide me with a single example of my use of the phrase "Christ-crucifiers" on this blog or in my published writings. I wonder, which is more important: switching fake names (Boniface is a well known Papal name as well) in a hurry or outright lying about someone else, like this Anglican did? Interesting standards he has.
John MacArthur, Pope Benedict, and Karl Keating
08/23/2005 - James WhiteFor quite some time I have received Karl Keating's e-letter. I guess it is easier than a blog (it is only once a week or so). Sometimes there are a few things that mildly interesting. He still takes shots at Bart Brewer every once in a while, though why he would do so is difficult to understand. In any case, today Keating decided to blow a gasket in John MacArthur's direction. Now, given that Mr. Keating can not hold a candle to Dr. MacArthur's ministry and writings, I found his attack petty and cheap, especially since it played the "convert card" as well. Evidently one of Keating's staff people was once a member of John's church. Of course, hundreds, if not thousands, of those who have come to know Christ through Grace to You and Grace Community Church are former Roman Catholics, so one has to wonder at the relevance of Keating's argument at that point. Be that as it may, MacArthur made a number of the same comments about John Paul II's death that I did at the time, and Keating evidently did not like what he had to say. He cites from MacArthur,
"What I cannot understand," continued MacArthur, "is the response of some Evangelicals to what matters most about the pope: his beliefs about God and the gospel. ... Influential leaders embraced the deceased pope as a brother in Christ and the Catholic church as just another Christian denomination. ...
"During the Reformation, countless men and women died rather than deny the biblical truths of salvation. Countless others today are giving their lives as missionaries to people lost in the darkness and guilt of Catholicism."
MacArthur goes on to write about the "damning error" that is Catholicism and notes that he has released a new 90-minute lecture called "Unmasking the Pope and the Catholic System." He says that "the church I pastor is loaded with people who were saved out of the Catholic church. ... A longtime Grace to You board member and dear friend of mine is a former Catholic. He speaks with great emotion about the bondage he and his wife lived under."
Obviously, MacArthur is expressing the views common to Bible-believing evangelicals. Nothing new or exciting here. Will we get a closely reasoned, strongly exegetical response from Karl Keating? Well, you already know the answer to that.
How many times have we heard these claims before? "The Catholic Church is not really Christian." "Catholics believe you 'earn' your salvation through good works." "Catholicism is based on guilt, not truth." "People are in 'bondage' to Catholicism--and we need to save them."
Each Sunday 7,000 people attend MacArthur's church. This is what he tells them about an institution that was around for nineteen centuries before he was born and that is now headed by a man who shows not a hint of MacArthur's arrogance.
Keating is preaching to the choir. Why not refute the allegations in a meaningful fashion? Why not explain how such doctrines as purgatory and indulgences and the idea of mortal sin destroying the grace of justification do not, in fact, result in fear, uncertainty, and the epidemic Marian idolatry that we see all around the globe? And though we have often caught Keating in historical errors (which he continues to repeat without even noting the refuation of his claims, here is an example), he continues to present the myth that Rome is two millennia old. Tell us, Karl--can you name a single member of the Council of Nicea who believed and professed what you believe about the Papacy, Mary, purgatory, indulgences, transubstantiation, etc.? If not, how can you throw out these easy, yet false, statements?
Now, I am only an acquaintance of John MacArthur. We've spoken a few times and had lunch. I do not know him the way many others do, but I do know this: John MacArthur would recoil in horror if someone bowed to him and tried to kiss his ring. He would rightly rebuke anyone who addressed him in terms proper only for deity (such as "Holy Father" or "Vicar of Christ"). He does not enter the pulpit in flowing velvet clothes and gold-fringed robes. He is a humble minister of the Word of God, not the traditions of men. For someone to defend the grandiose, unbiblical traditions and claims of the Papacy in Rome in contrast to a warm-hearted, shepherding, exegetically-minded minister of the gospel is the height of absurdity. Perhaps Keating needs to visit Grace Community and compare its simplicity and focus upon the ministry of preaching with the gold-encrusted marble hallways of St. Peter's. To miss that contrast is to say much about one's own blindness to one's traditions. But Keating has only begun:
It is MacArthur who claims a divine commission: "I do have a mandate from God to compare what others teach to the gospel of the Bible." He says, "'Does the pope teach the gospel?' is a valid question."
Rosalind Moss left John MacArthur's church because she realized that, yes, the pope really does teach the gospel--and that John MacArthur does not.
The Grace to You ministry's letterhead has this slogan at the bottom: "The Bible Teaching of John MacArthur." Benedict XVI is more modest in his claims. His letterhead does not have at the bottom "The Bible Teaching of Benedict XVI" because the Pope is not trying to push his own agenda.
Please! Can you imagine trying to contrast the pretentious claims of Rome's papacy--the fawning of crowds over a man who holds an unbiblical office and accepts the most incredibly non-Christian adoration and man-worship--with "The Bible Teaching of John MacArthur"---it is simply beyond belief! Benedict XVI is called "Pontifex Maximus" and "Vicar of Christ" and that is somehow more humble than "The Bible Teaching of John MacArthur"? Hello? Is anyone else as utterly amazed at such a statement as I?
Keating says MacArthur is not preaching the gospel. MacArthur says Boniface (and by extension, Keating) is not. So who do you think can prove their point exegetically, from the Word of God? Read Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism and compare and contrast it with John's work. There is no comparison. Yugo vs. Jaguar. Hawks vs. Spurs. Royals vs. Cardinals. Internet Monk vs. Pyromaniac. No contest.
Last DL Till 9/6/05
08/23/2005 - James WhiteJust a few comments on the upcoming debate and then more from Dr. Davis on Calvinism. Here's the program.
Wow, Tough Day
08/22/2005 - James WhiteMan, today was rough. I won't bore you with details. Let's just say I hope the rest of the week before the debate goes better.
The debate presentation is taking shape, and I'm truly excited about it. I have by necessity been privy to more of the arrangements for this year's conference and debate and cruise than in past years, and let me tell you something, the amount of time and effort and detail and yes, money that goes into something like this is simply shocking. I confess my lack of faith here: I remember how this ministry started, and how little we had, so when I see just the shipping costs for something like this, well, let's just say we would never do this kind of thing if it was up to me.
Which prompts me to note: we do this (esp. the debates against two of the leading Historical Jesus scholars of our day) to bless the people of God in the long run, not the short run. Result? We need your assistance in the short run. Please pray for these events fervently. We truly desire the Lord to bless. And if that prayer prompts you to share with us in light of the tremendous stress of putting something like this on, Rich and I would be most appreciative. We have no baubles or bangles or Prayer of Jehoshaphat gadgets to send you to bribe you. Just the promise to use anything entrusted to us properly and in a God-glorifying manner.
A New Blog
08/20/2005 - James WhiteGuest blogger Alan Kurschner developed the blog infection and succumbed. Here's his new blog. No word on if a memorial service is planned. :-)
A Synoptic Clue
08/19/2005 - James Whitekta,omai is a Greek verb used seven times in the New Testament (101 times in the LXX). It is used mainly by Luke (five times), once by Paul, and once by Matthew, in Matthew 10:9. In that verse it is rendered "acquire": "Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts." This is part of Jesus' instructions to the Twelve when He sent them out to minister during His sojourn on earth.
So here is a little quiz for those interested in pursuing it. Why is kta,omai important in the study of synoptic parallels? Lord willing, I'll remember to answer that before I leave for Seattle next week!
I Needed This
08/18/2005 - James WhiteThis is, without a doubt, the funniest parody of the current state of certain corners of the apologetic blogosphere I've read. I really needed this. Thanks! Here's the hoot.
Today on the DL: Yup, More on Crossan/Borg
08/18/2005 - James WhiteWell, what did you expect? Mainly a discussion of the resurrection issue, prompted by an exchange between Wright and Borg on 1 Cor. 15:44. Here's the program.
New Article in the RBTR
08/18/2005 - James WhiteI just received my copy of the July, 2005 issue of the Reformed Baptist Theological Review (www.rbtr.org). I have a new article in this issue titled "Textual Criticism and the Ministry of Preaching" (3-26). Not too late to subscribe!
A Deep Sigh
08/17/2005 - James WhiteIt came in the mail today. I almost didn't bother looking at it. I mean, who knows better that Dave Hunt has no interest in speaking truthfully about Reformed theology than I do? I'm overwhelmed with preparations and details in reference to next week's events, so why even bother looking at Hunt's new little anti-Calvinism book, the one he did not need to write because, of course, he's said all he needs to say (that's his excuse for backing out of debating me live, in front of an audience)? But I made the mistake of picking it up, and on every page I ran into eye-rolling foolishness. Just a few examples.
Hunt holds to the Wilkin anti-Lordship nonsense, and uses it as a bat to beat on Calvinism. Such may please his cadre of followers, but it would not work well in debate. Hunt promotes the "dead faith saves" concept so that you have "absolute certainty"; then, on the basis of this, continues to run with the simply ridiculous "Calvinism is crypto-Catholicism" nonsense he pushes on a regular basis.
Next, I somehow had missed this awe-inspiring subtitle, "Calvin's Weakness as an Apologist." I had to force my eyes to the next few paragraphs...yep, Hunt displaying still more stultifying ignorance of basic apologetic issues (i.e., epistemology, presuppositionalism, etc.). Followed, of course, by the wonderfully logical follow through of how this proves Calvinism is all wrong.
I don't know...maybe it is because I've been spending so much time in Crossan and Wright and on issues like harmonizing Synoptic parallels and Q theories and Second Temple Judaism's view of resurrection and the presuppositional nature of the approach used by the Jesus Seminar, etc., but going from Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God to the dishonest, simplistic, and just plain silly arguments of Dave Hunt, is a bit of a challenge. It is truly distressing to see such blind Crusaderism on the part of an "evangelical" who is clearly ignorant of the issues and utterly beyond correction. And yet, the temptation is to just dismiss his meanderings for that very reason. Yet, the task of the Christian scholar is not to dwell upon what is most "interesting" to himself, but to always keep in mind the benefit of the people of God in general. And so I force myself to interact with the repeated errors of Hunt, even while seeking to be prepared to respond on a completely different plane to the Crossans of the world.
Today on the Dividing Line
08/16/2005 - James WhiteStarted off with some clips from the 1989 encounter I had with Robert Funk on a local radio station, and then moved over to Marcus Borg on "Bible and Tradition," starting with a saying he repeats, "The Bible is true, and some of it happened." Here's the program.
Wandering from God's Commandments
08/15/2005 - James WhiteAs I work on preparation for our conference and debate next week, I cannot help but rejoice, repeatedly, in the wondrous glory of God's Word. Over and over again, as it comes under the most close scrutiny and attack, it shows itself to stand far above its most voracious opponents.
There truly is a confidence that comes from facing the "best" the enemy has to offer. As I work in my third decade of apologetic ministry, I can honestly say that I have grown in my love for the Word of God, but also in my appreciation of its consistency, its depth, its simple truth. I am not talking about closing my eyes and whistling in the dark and "pumping up" my faith. I'm talking about seeing God's truth vindicated over and over again from numerous different directions. It is truly a blessing.
Psalm 119 is a tremendous hymn of praise regarding God's commandments, His word, His truth. The tenth verse reads,
With my whole heart I seek you;I was pondering this text today in light of the past number of months of study on the sufficiency of Scripture, and especially the fact that men can invest their lives in the study of the Bible, its history and text, and yet remain utterly untouched by the Spirit that breathed it out. There is obviously a very spiritual element to the Psalmist's relationship to the Word. There is something important about seeking God with one's "whole heart." Half-hearted devotion to truth is a recipe for disaster (remember what Paul said about those who refuse to love the truth?) And who but the Spirit of God can work within our darkened hearts that kind of consistent, whole-hearted attitude? But note as well the plea of the Psalmist: "let me not wander from your commandments." That is a good translation of the Hebrew Massoretic Text, but I noted something interesting in the LXX. There we find the Greek rendering the Hebrew with the term avpw,sh|, which speaks more to the concept of rejection than to mere "wandering." It is often translated "push aside" or "refuse to listen to." The unregenerate heart cannot long handle the sacred scriptures without finding a way to attack them and undermine the testimony they bear to the heart, to the conscience. There is no neutrality in response to God's Word.
let me not wander from your commandments!
I am truly praying that God will make the upcoming conference, debates, and the teaching sessions with such godly servants of the truth as Jim Renihan and Tom Ascol, along with the ministry of Steve Camp in music, one of the greatest times of ministry and confirmation in the truth we have ever experienced. I know I pray God will use me as a blessing to God's people at this time. Oh Lord, never let us wander from, or put aside, your Word!
A Word from Mike O'Fallon
08/14/2005 - James WhiteBack in 1999 (if my memory is serving me correctly) Mike O'Fallon contacted me and asked if I would speak at a conference at his church and then go on a 4-day, 3-night cruise thereafter. And so it started. Mike comments on how we started this aspect of the ministry.
If you have followed the ministry of Dr. James White for any length of time, you have probably wondered “Why does Alpha and Omega Ministries cruise on an annual basis?” Well, the answer will most probably surprise you and might even inspire you to continue to strive for the cause of Christ in your own experience.
As a member of a large Southern Baptist Church 7 years ago, I viewed a tremendous amount of confusion within our congregation regarding even the most basic of doctrinal considerations. What is the Gospel? What is a Christian? What is Salvation? None of our church faithful had Biblical, historical, grounded, workable answers to these questions yet they continued to push forward enormous efforts in “evangelism” without any real hold on the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints. Doctrinal chaos only increased as Billy Graham and Promise Keepers marched through our area and dispersed a well-intentioned fog of ecumenical disorder among the evangelical community. As our church only increased in our population of “almost Christians,” several theologically-minded friends and I regarded the situation at our church as grave and closing in on irreparable. We recognized that if modern protestant evangelism was to truly grow a church as a result of God-ordained conversions of the heart and mind (in comparison to false professions of faith and emotional “decisions”), then it certainly doesn’t need to be ashamed or embarrassed about Biblical Christianity being distinct and particularistic, and secondly, that if the current ambivalence in evangelicalism towards theological reflection were to continue, then evangelicalism as a movement would most certainly succumb to liberalism and pragmatic methods of church-growth and shallowness in the discipling of new converts.
My wife and I decided to approach our pastor about the idea of staging a conference dealing with foundational doctrine, apologetics, and cult evangelism at our church during the next calendar year which yielded the response, “Well O’Fallon, we’ll do it if you want to pay for it.” One of my consistent faults (which at times has been my greatest assets) is a Petrine exuberance that looks at every obstacle as a challenge instead of a defeat (as a former professional athlete, I’m extremely competitive). The last thing that I ever want to hear from someone is “we can’t” which can only be worsened by sarcasm from the one making the declaration. So, within the space of only a few hours, the genesis of an apologetics cruise was borne as a means to fund the land-based conference at my church.
To make a rather long and detailed story short, our sponsoring of conferences and debates with Alpha and Omega Ministries has done well to encourage the emergence of sustained serious theological reflection in several different venues across the United States. Our conferences have had the pleasure of having men such as Dr. Eugene Merrill, Dr. Robert Thomas, Michael Gendron, Dr. Thomas Ascol, Phil Johnson, Sam Shamoun, Dr. Jobe Martin, David King, Dr. Eric Svendsen, Dr. James Renihan, and Steve Camp, all of whom have contributed greatly to the goals of our conference and cruise. During this same time, scholastic debates between Dr. White with Robert Sungenis on papal infallibility, Dr. John Sanders on inclusivism and open theism, Greg Stafford on the deity of Christ, Douglas Wilson on the salvific state of Roman Catholics, and currently, the debates with Dr. John Dominic Crossan and Dr. Marcus Borg on the Historical Jesus and the veracity of the Biblical resurrection accounts coming up in just a few short days in Seattle, Washington, have furthered the cause of a defined and Biblical faith. We have consistently believed that an informed laity (for lack of a better term) is a genuinely evangelistic church that should never compromise its role of heralding the Gospel in a fallen world. While I am no longer at the church where the conferences began ( I have since joined a congregation where verse-by-verse Biblical exposition is the distinctive hallmark of the church), our mission has been to bring to the churchman an understanding of core, orthodox Christian doctrine in a historical framework, an understanding of proper exegesis and the applied practice of proper hermeneutics, and to engage through debate both those within the camp of orthodoxy that with whom we have important theological differences and those with aberrant and heretical tendencies. This realm should no longer be understood to be the hallowed ground of seminarians alone, for the elect of God, men and women of every stripe or position in the church, are still under the command of Scripture:
“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” 1 Peter 3:15 NASB
If we are to seriously follow this command and “be ready” to give a defense “with gentleness,” then it is necessary that a goal for all Christians should be to know what they believe and why they believe it as opposed to the tired answer I have heard so many give in response to someone with serious questions, “you should talk to my pastor….” Our goals today in our conference and cruise remain the same as they have always been:
1. To focus both devotionally and theologically on the finished work of Jesus Christ
2. To clearly declare Scripture as the ultimate authority in all matters of doctrine and practice
3. To understand our faith within a Biblical and systematic framework
4. To be able to share and communicate this faith to those outside of the pale of orthodoxy
5. To live by this faith in both word and deed
To properly achieve these established goals, we must also be aware of the tendency to frame those that disagree with our theological conclusions in the worst light possible, or even worse, to misrepresent their views in order to demonize their belief or hermeneutic. I must admit that I agree completely with the assessment of Dr. White’s next opponent in debate, Dr. John Dominic Crossan:
"I am not too happy with... the recent shift from academic argumentation ('I will make your case as accurate and strong as I can before I demolish it') to political argumentation ('I will make your case as dumb and silly as I can before I demolish you')”
We should always deal with those that we have disagreements with in clear and honest terms without erecting positional straw-men to attack as we attempt to delude others into thinking that we have accomplished some sort of victory for God by misrepresenting one another’s beliefs. Sadly, I have seen this most often occur from those within reformed evangelical community and it truly grieves me. Those of us who are monergists, or reformed in our soteriology, should be engaging one another, not continuing to marginalize each other by creating fictitious and insincere positions of those that we disagree with (Credobaptists vs. Paedobaptists, Dispensationalists vs. Covenantalists, pre-mills vs. post-mills vs. a-mills etc). We must always be able to admit that we do have differences, and be willing to confront and engage one another in those differences, but always in the context of 1 Peter 3:15 “with gentleness and reverence…” As a community of faith, we should look forward to the times that we can come together in honest, sincere debate as we seek to work through the Scriptures and sharpen one another as brothers in Christ honestly should. If Scripture is our only source of true authority, then all arguments and positions should begin and end with God’s perfect and infallible Word.
All this to say that as we look forward to this year’s Alpha and Omega Conference, Debate, and cruise, try to remember this article and the purpose and mission behind the convention and debate. Please pray for all of us, particularly Dr. White, as we seek to be obedient and pleasing to Him in all that we do and say. I pray that in all that we do our efforts shall continue to be to His glory and for His glory.
Sovereign Christian Cruises
I Really Did Blog Today
08/12/2005 - James WhiteHonestly. I posted three blog articles today. It is just that I scheduled them to appear during the cruise! A few folks have promised a few more "guest blogs" but we are really coming down to "crunch time" on the conference and cruise, so, things might get a tad thin around here for a while. Please don't let the quiet keep you from praying for the conference, the cruise, and most especially, the two debates. It is our hope they will be a blessing to God's people for years to come. Also, please remember the great costs involved in arranging these major events, and especially these large debates. Your support is deeply appreciated.
Today on the DL
08/11/2005 - James WhiteThe entire program today was a review of comments made by Marcus Borg and NT Wright specifically about issues such as historicity, worldviews, Q, and the like. Here's the program.
Pool of Siloam Discovered in Jerusalem
08/11/2005 - James WhiteOddly enough, it was found right where...John said it was. How can that be, since John is not historical? Oh sorry, been reading too much Jesus Seminar stuff lately. Here's the story. (Hat tip RW)
08/11/2005 - James WhiteOne of my favorite sound clips in our chat channel is from the popular TV show, "Frasier." In his own inimitable fashion, Dr. Crane asks, "Tell me...what color is the sky in your world?" Such a quip indicates that the person to whom you are addressing those words seems to live...elsewhere, disconnected from reality, in a fantasy world.
I would like to ask Art Sippo, "What color is the sky in your world?" As I fully expected, he has begun the process of spinning his rejection of my challenge to debate justification in his own home town. And so, as I told him I would, I am providing the entirety of the few days of correspondence between us. You will get to see the split-personality that appeared in that correspondence: the man who froths at the mouth at "prots," who only two weeks ago in response to a discussion of Calvinism had literally screamed:
Why do you think I have been hammering away at these people as hard as I have? This is the filth that the "Deformation" let loose into the world. So it has been from the 16th Century and so it shall be until the last of these blasphemers is extirpated from the face of the Earth.
Chill... I hope this gives you an appreciation for how far from historic Christianity the prot relgions have strayed and why I am honor bound to oppose them to the bitter end.
...all of a sudden becomes sweetness and light, the very model of civility---without, of course, even acknowledging his own words elsewhere. Only the brave need bother, but it was necessary to document the facts to silence the cavils of Dr. Sippo. Here's the file.
Art Sippo Declines Debate Challenge: I Am Not Nice Enough
08/09/2005 - James WhiteWell, this one will go down in the archives, that's for sure. I know many of my readers have turned the Sippo materials "off" over time, mainly because his bombastic, insulting diatribes are simply not enjoyable to read. But if you have, turn the switch back on for just a moment, long enough to digest just a tiny little sampling of a much larger body of documentation of the kind of bluster and rhetoric that flows daily from the keyboard of the main apologist of catholic-legate.com, as collected on the fly by one of the brave souls who dares to press onward in speaking the truth in the midst of the Envoy web forums:
In a state of fear and panic James White has begged me not to debate him on justification! He grovels asking that I pick any other topic but not THAT!Of course, this tiny sampling could be increased a hundred fold, not only from going to Envoy but from going to Sippo's website. Fourteen years of this kind of behavior. So, finally, I challenged Sippo to debate me on the topic he himself demands we debate. I arranged a local venue, right there where he lives. He doesn't even have to take a day off of work, doesn't have to pack a bag. We even do the video taping, and provide him, free of charge, an unedited master to distribute far and wide! After all these years of calling me a coward, a fraud, referring to me as "Pseudopodeo" (an alteration of one of my old AOL screen names), lying about me without even bothering to check facts, I finally get fed up and see a chance to combine an already scheduled event (lecture series on New Perspectivism in the St. Louis area) with the debate Sippo has repeatedly said I am afraid to engage in.
My areas of special interest is St. Paul and Justification. I know that area inside out.
It is also the only thing that matters in a cath/prot debate. As Martin Luther stated the heresy of "justification by faith alone" (JBFA)is the doctrine upon which the Deformation stands or falls. If it can be shown that the prot doctrine of JBFA is false, then the whole prot system collapses and Catholicism remains standing triumphant. Purgatory is trivial by comparison and is indeed a derivative topic from Justifcation.
This is a grudge match, James. We debated this topic before and you lost. You have written several books dealing with Justification. Why are you afraid to revisit the topic now? You should be able to do this one in your sleep.
Puragatory is out. Our respective fans what to hear us do justification. We should give them what they want.
He is too cxowardly to face me in open debate on the very doctrine upon which the prot fraud stands or falls. Why? Because he knows I will demolish him. I already have and I would do it again if he were man enough to face me.
So, what's the result? Well, it's really quite simple: Art Sippo says I'm not civil enough. Yes, the man who calls Calvinism "demonic" and refers regularly to the "deformation" (Reformation) and "prots" and whose favorite words are "coward" and "fraud" and the like, does not believe I have been civil enough to him to accept the challenge to debate. You see, as soon as Dr. Sippo began writing to me, he was all sweetness and light. I immediately pointed out the contrast and contradiction between his public behavior and his private e-mails. He did not like this. I contrasted his current statements with his past statements, and he did not like this. What was more, he asked for my personal cell phone number, and I refused to give it to him. I was quite honest: I don't trust him with it. But more, I had no intention of arranging any debate without doing it all, completely, in writing. Sippo lied about the pre-debate discussions with Bill Rutland only two months ago: why on earth should we arrange this debate any differently than we have all the others? I gave him the ministry's number and who he should talk to (Rich Pierce, the man who arranges these things anyway). Sippo demanded my number or there would be no debate.
And so, the simple fact of the matter is, Art Sippo has no intention of ever exposing himself to a public debate on any topic at all against me. He has declined every challenge to public debate, and written debate. His bluster and slander has been demonstrated to be constructed out of nothing but wet paper towels, a facade with no substance, loud fury backed by match sticks. If Sippo seeks in any forum whatsoever to misrepresent this situation, I will post, en toto, every bit of the correspondence that has been written over the past two days. Those with the slightest bit of familiarity with Sippo's long history of anti-Protestant harangues will be able to see the truth of the situation instantly.
And with the close of this saga, I turn my attention, Lord willing, finally and solely, to John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg. Seattle and Alaska are right around the corner....
Sorry, DL Cancelled
08/09/2005 - James WhiteI'm very sorry, but the Real Audio server is down, and the only man on earth who can get it back up is not available. I've done "dead" shows before that we then just archived, but it is very hard to do without interaction, etc. So, till we get the server back up, I guess it will be Thursday for the next DL. Once again, our apologies.
A Great Time at Ephesus Church in Georgia
08/09/2005 - James WhiteBack from ministering in Georgia this weekend. Had a wonderful time with the elders and people of the Ephesus Progressive Primitive Baptist Church. They have a good bit of fun with their own name, actually, since "Progressive Primitive" sorta sounds like "tall short" or "fat skinny" or "happy sad" or some such pairing. But the folks were warm and encouraging and seemed to really enjoy the ministry. One of the elders even called me shortly after I landed back here in Phoenix (I did the "let's see the whole continent while we are at it" route, Savannah to Chicago; Chicago to Phoenix thing) to make sure I had arrived safely. Great bunch of folks! I look forward to visiting with them again.
Since I got back in one piece, though, we will be doing the DL this morning live! Hope you can listen in.
OK, Sippo, Let's Debate
08/08/2005 - James White
Ignorance may be bliss but wilfull [sic] misrepresentation is virtually orgasmic. White does not over document. He cobbles together misleading combinations of citations from popular Catholic religious works and pawns them off as Magisterial statements. He also is incapable of distinguishing the devotional from the doctrinal and what is permissible from what is defined Chruch [sic] teaching. And his presupposition is always that his wown [sic] interpretation and beliefs are normative while those of the Catholic Church are questionable.
Patrick, believe whatever you want. You have free will. If you hate the Catholic Church and us who are members of it, then you have chosen to do so for your own reasons. But don't come here expecting us to take an ignorant bigot like White seriously. He is too cxowardly [sic] to face me in open debate on the very doctrine upon which the prot fraud stands or falls. Why? Because he knows I will demolish him. I already have and I would do it again if he were man enough to face me.
Let's ponder another example of Art Sippo's world. If my works are filled with "misleading combinations of citations from popular Catholic religious works" that I then pawn off as "Magisterial statements" it would be real easy to prove this, yes? Will Sippo do so? Of course not! He can't. And if someone had the guts to challenge him to provide a single example, he'd simply bluster about their being hate filled prots and move on from there.
Now, let's remember the truth here: Sippo will not debate me on the Papacy. Sippo will not debate me on purgatory. Sippo will not debate me on the Mass. Sippo will not debate me on the Marian dogmas. Sippo will not debate me on anything but one topic: he wants to reprise his outrageous behavior in Toledo Ohio on the subject of justification. He will not debate in writing, either. He is dodging challenge after challenge, but, in his little kingdom, his servants are not informed of this reality.
So, I confess, I have tired of this man's constant outrageous behavior and the utter hypocrisy of his compatriots in allowing him a platform for it. So, since Art Sippo thinks the New Perspective on Paul is his "ace," and suffers under the delusion that NPism aids him in his position, how about this: I am already scheduled to present a seminar on New Perspectivism in St. Louis (Sippo lives in the area) the first weekend in December. I have already contacted the church where I will be speaking and they are willing to assist in this endeavor. I challenge Art Sippo, M.D., to debate the following proposition at the Covenant of Grace Church in St. Charles on December 1:
"Resolved: We are initially justified before God by baptism, our justification is increased by doing good works; and subsequently, should the grace of justification be lost, we are again justified through the sacrament of penance."This is the very position of Roman theology, enshrined in her dogmatic teachings. So, Dr. Sippo, I'm coming to your area, to your own back yard. You don't have to travel. You don't have to pack a single bag. You will not debate me on every single one of the topics your compatriots have been willing to tackle: here is your one subject, justification, and I will even allow you the positive position and the first word. How about it, Dr. Sippo? I await your response.
Quick Rejoinder to Bill Rutland
08/08/2005 - James WhiteBill Rutland has provided a "response" that is again instructive to examine, though briefly, as I have limited time before heading back to Phoenix in a matter of hours.
I would like to address some of James’ comments on my comments. But, before I do, I would like to thank Pat for allowing James to post from this forum so freely. When I was over on Cross Walk, I posted something from their forum on my website and the administrators threatened me with a lawsuit if I did not remove it. Now, to the main reason for this post.
It is sorta hard to avoid the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, behind that is the idea that "Hey, maybe we should have the freedom to say anything we want in this forum and no one should have the right to expose what we say, even when it involves blatant, documentable lies about others, in any other way." Sorta sounds like that is the idea, but let's hope not.
As I stated on this forum Art got his “outrageous falsehoods” from me. I documented my post-debate discussion with James on this forum and I stand by it. If Art said anything that was incorrect it was because I did not express myself accurately, so I wish James would quit pounding Art on this subject.
I simply refer the reader to the unanswered documentation of the lies posted by Sippo (he has never retracted them) and the sad collusion of Rutland with his personal attacks here. I had written:
It would be nice if Mr. Rutland would provide at least a single citation to substantiate his claim that I do not "explore what Catholic(s) mean by the title." How is including chapters reviewing John Paul II's teaching on the subject, Vatican II's teaching on the subject, and Mark Miravalle's teaching on the subject, not doing that very thing?
Why is Mary called Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix? James attempts to tell us but is [sic] approach is somewhat like the three blind men, one who touched an elephants tail, the other its foot and the last its trunk and then described that elephant as a rope, a tree and a serpent. But "dars a whole lotta effelent bitwixted dem three points sir." Now maybe I was a bit too harsh on James, because there is no way, for example, to speak of Mary’s suffering from the Protestant theology of suffering which in the end amounts to “stuff happens.”
Once again--how is this a response? I cite Vatican II; I cite John Paul II; I cite previous papal encyclicals; I cite Miravalle. Where did I misrepresent them? Where did I misunderstand them? When I criticize the work of others, I attempt to show them sufficient respect to at least provide documentation before providing conclusions. Rutland does not seem up to the task. If this is the level of interaction he is putting into his book, well, that does not bode well at all. ...
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Mrs. Bonds on Bias and Misrepresentation
08/08/2005 - James WhiteIn the midst of the "bash White's books without providing a single example that can stand examination" spate over at Envoy, Patty Patrick Bonds decided to chime in, to use her own words. She begins with a story she has told before--but without any meaningful context:
I once asked James if he had ever, even for a moment, considered the possibility that the Catholic Church is right. Understand that in order to have an objective point of view, one has to be open to the possibility that both sides of the arguement [sic] may be valid.
His answer was predictable. No. He had never for a moment considered the possibility that the Catholic Church was right. He listed three reasons, all of which made no sense because they were not based on objective reasoning but on defending his own criteria for judging what is right (sola scriptura, etc.) So I can honestly say that James has never read any Catholic document objectively, listened to any Catholic speaker objectively, examined Church history objectively, or viewed the motivations of any Catholic objectively. He is utterly biased and all his arguements [sic] are based on his own view of Catholic teachings rather than on Catholicism from the point of view of its own Doctors and Fathers. Add to that the fact that our family had always hated the Catholic Church with a passion, and you have no reason whatsoever to believe anything he has to say about it.
If we consider the logic behind these statements, we see that one must be able to say "The faith once for all delivered to the saints may well be wrong, and I can lay it aside and assume a neutral position, so as to evaluate another religion's claims objectively." There are a number of problems with the thesis. First, it assumes that the Christian faith is merely an object of epistemological data that you can set aside so as to "objectively" evaluate counter-claims. But this is a very shallow, very unbiblical view of the faith. A person who is serious about the Christian faith realizes that to "have the mind of Christ" and to "take every thought captive" implies deep and abiding epistemological commitments that determine how we analyze any competing claim. One would have to believe one's own faith is inconsistent with the biblical record before one could abandon that teaching and consider a competing truth claim, and as I explained to Mrs. Bonds long ago (and as we continue documenting to this day on this web log), I have never had anyone in the Roman communion, or any other, offer reason for believing so. To put this in sharper focus, to follow Mrs. Bonds' argument would mean that to evaluate the claims of the Heaven's Gate Cult, I would have to be willing to evaluate their claims "objectively," admitting that "they may well be right---maybe the mother ship IS hiding behind that comet!" No, I do not have to abandon my commitment to the Lordship of Christ to truthfully examine, with accuracy and fairness, the claims of any religious group, including Roman Catholicism.
So when I informed Mrs. Bonds that I had never considered the possibility that Rome was true, I explained why: Rome has failed, miserably, to demonstrate that her dogmas are ancient, or biblical, or compelling, or even logically coherent; as soon as I started studying Roman Catholicism, I encountered her violation of sound principles regarding the ultimate supremacy of Scripture, her circular arguments for her various views of "tradition," etc. And I surely saw that the Roman system's gospel did not begin to answer to the matter of man's sin and his need for full and perfect redemption in another. So I truly wonder, does Mrs. Bonds follow her own advice? Has she read the Qur'an objectively, honestly separating herself from any pre-commitments so as to weigh, as some neutral party, the difference between believing Jesus was divine or just another messenger of Allah who was not, in fact, crucified upon the cross of Calvary? If not, why question what I said to her? ...
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Bill Rutland on "Misrepresentations"
08/06/2005 - James WhiteYesterday we noted further examples of the means by which Roman Catholic apologists in the tradition of Art Sippo engage in simply dishonest and inaccurate argumentation so as to maintain their audiences. Unlike those folks, we documented our assertions fully. Today I move on to Bill Rutland's comments in the same thread. Mr. Rutland was my opponent only a few months ago on Long Island in the Great Debate X. On a personal level, Mr. Rutland is just a nice fellow. He's your standard "Southern gentleman" you might say. I surely bear him no personal animosity, and though I was very disappointed in his behavior after the debate in reference to not correcting Sippo's outrageous falsehoods regarding pre-debate discussions with Mr. Rutland, he is still considerably more "restrained" than the likes of Sippo.
He responded to Robert's post as follows:
I have read both of the books by James White that you cited. Mary - Another redeemer? In all honesty is not one of James’ better attempts. As you know the book is focused on the movement to make “Co-redemptrix” an official title for Our Lady. While James admits that Catholics insist that they do not worship Mary, he then goes on to maintain that in practice we really do. I think the greatest shortcoming of the book is that he perpetuates all of the old Protestant stereotypes without even exploring what Catholic [sic] mean by the title. Others have covered the meaning of Co-redemptrix on this thread so I will defer to them.
Once again, a few citations, a few examples, would be very nice. It seems that for the Roman Catholics at Envoy, if you disagree with Rome's conclusions, then you just must not "understand." It would be nice if Mr. Rutland would provide at least a single citation to substantiate his claim that I do not "explore what Catholic(s) mean by the title." How is including chapters reviewing John Paul II's teaching on the subject, Vatican II's teaching on the subject, and Mark Miravalle's teaching on the subject, not doing that very thing?
As for The Roman Catholic Controversy, it is a much better book. Although it purports to give an honest evaluation of the Catholic faith, in the end it falls short. Art writes that White's books are, “deceptive and misleading,” an oppinion [sic] which I would tend to agree. James’ books are deceptive because of his use of selective information. As with Mary - Another redeemer?, Controversy does not explain how Catholics view their own doctrines and then give an honest evaluation. James knows Catholicism better than most Catholics do, so when he writes something that is misleading, one has to wonder if it is done on purpose.
One again looks around for examples...and finds Rutland offering one (which is most enlightening: see below). The book has been out nearly a decade, and all that has appeared in print has been a few articles in This Rock magazine (responded to on our website, of course) that addressed possibly a grand total of two pages of the book. That's it. If the book is filled with deception and misrepresentation, why not document it? Easy: what these men really are saying is "He disagrees with us, therefore, he must be deceptive." Now, of course, that is circular argumentation and irrational, but it is the heart of their apologetic. So, it is much more effective in the long run to simply repeat the assertion that the books are "bad" and "deceptive" knowing that your audience is considerably more impacted by repetitive claims based upon inherent authority than they are logical argumentation and documentation. And so it goes. Now, as if to fulfill the "we identify all disagreements as inherently dishonest and deceptive" concept, we look at the example he offers: ...
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Apologetics: The Importance of Honoring Truth
08/05/2005 - James WhiteApologetics is dangerous. As the Apostle said, "knowledge makes arrogant" (1 Cor. 8:1). A love of God, His truth, and intimate possession of the attitude of the Apostle, who "endured all things for the sake of the elect" (2 Tim. 2:10), is necessary for doing God-honoring apologetic activity.
Over the years as I have interacted with apologists for many different religions I have repeatedly been amazed at the willingness of these men (and a few women) to engage in the most outrageous behaviors all in the service of "our faith." I remember years ago a group of Mormons going on for months, literally, over whether Joseph Smith's 1832 account of the "First Vision" was a part of his journal or not, all the while utterly ignoring what the written words actually meant. Any ploy, any misdirection, is worthy to be used for the "higher good" of defending a particular religion's teachings.
Over the past few months on the Dividing Line and on this blog we have documented the contrast between fairly representing those you disagree with and the activities especially of modern Roman Catholic apologists. We regularly play clips, not just 15 second sound bites, but entire presentations, by leading and popular Roman Catholic apologists, demonstrating their misuse of historical and biblical sources, their misrepresentations of others, etc., on our webcast.
This morning I was sent the URL to a new thread that began on the Envoy web forums. Our readers will not be surprised to know that Art Sippo, an "apologist" whose errors have been documented here many times, is at the forefront of the discussion. But Bill Rutland, a recent opponent in debate, has chimed in as well. Once again, the statements made are so easily demonstrated to be false and misleading that it leaves one wondering why these men would engage in such an activity. But the reason is not too difficult to ascertain: they do not believe that their followers will even take the time to read an opposing viewpoint, let alone read the original sources being cited, so, they are "safe."
The thread began with someone indicating they had purchased two of my books, Mary--Another Redeemer? and The Roman Catholic Controversy. Sippo offers his in-depth analysis, referring to my "trashy little book insulting Our Lady." Not surprisingly, there is not a single citation of the book anywhere in Sippo's response. In fact, given how grossly inaccurate it is, one is highly tempted to believe Sippo does not possess it and has never read it. Surely he would feel no compunction to do so given I'm just a "prot heretic" anyway. Only followers of the Sippo style of apologetics could possibly miss the fact that pretending to review a book without ever bothering to cite it is unworthy of any serious minded individual.
On 8/2 Sippo wrote:
In his trashy book insulting Our Lady, White uses the title: Mary: Another Redeemer? He crassly states in this book that the dcotrine [sic] of Mary as as Co-Redemptrix is an attempt to make her into another Redeemer on par with Jesus. This is a lie.
Let's see who is lying. Has Sippo read the book? If he did, how did he miss the repeated citations of Catholic writers, such as Mark Miravalle, affirming a subordinate mediatorship role? How did he miss my repeated assertion of the same thing? How did he miss the discussion, drawn from the citation of Roman Catholic writers, of the entire issue of mediation, the "participation defense," and the like? The fact is, either he has not read the book (and hence is lying to his followers) or, if he did, he is lying to his followers about what is in the book in the first place. There simply is no third option. Allow me to do what Art Sippo would not: provide documentation. ...
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Out of Town
08/04/2005 - James WhiteOut of town till Monday afternoon. Can't guarantee much over the weekend, though I've been promised Internet connectivity while I'm away, anyhow, so if that pans out, I'll try to put in an appearance here. I have three blog series on my "list" to get to, but each will require a fair amount of work, so I'm not sure if I will even try to start them prior to the conference and cruise in just a matter of weeks. Maybe till then I will just post fragments of notes and quotations in preparation for the upcoming events. In any case, remember as you face a world seeking to make you compromise:
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Col. 3:23-24)
Yesterday on the DL
08/03/2005 - James WhiteWoops, forgot to provide the link to yesterday's DL! My apologies. Played clips from Tim Staples once again proving he functions on the basis of sola ecclesia and also noting the fact that Rome's apologists do not tend to worry themselves about advancing and improving their apologetic arguments, then a clip from Dr. Davis on Acts 13:48 and how tradition often functions to stop exegesis in its tracks, and some calls. Here's the program.
On the Necessity and Beauty of Godly Conflict
08/03/2005 - James WhiteGuest blogger Eddie Exposito provides some thoughts while I prepare to head to the Deep South...
When you find someone who agrees with you on every point of doctrine, polity, and practice you must either be gazing into your bedroom mirror or having fellowship with a politician, for the truth of the matter is, we do disagree. Now don't feel compelled to call up Oprah and bishop Spong to notify them that the Sola Scriptura police have now confessed division and disagreement and have admitted to the ruin of their proposed perspicuity. And this does not mean that our foundations for certainty have been eroded leaving us to seek out the Jesus consciousness in a lotus position while playing forty-two choruses of "We shall overcome" during a can't-we-all-get-along ecumeni-fest sponsored by Live9.
What our disagreements do tell us, however, is that we are constantly learning. As Proverbs 27:17 tells us "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Conflict and confrontation are good things when exercised with humility and deference. What needs to end are the vacuous notions that the mere presence of a difference in opinion constitutes a sufficient depth-charge to certainty and the cry that the challenging of published thought is meanness. Being wrong exists because the laws of logic exist and it is through a vigorous and thorough dispute that the soundness of a position is proven. Shaking the pan yields the gems.
I remember a few years back when I attended a mini-conference where R.C. Sproul was asked about his relationship with John MacArthur. These two well-known bible teachers have been good friends for quite some time despite their coming to some very different theological positions. Sproul said that what keeps their friendship thriving is that their doctrinal disputes do not live in ad hominems or a failure to concede to a particular point. What sustains their bond is their choice to love each other as the Lord has commanded and to equally love what He has said, His holy Word. Their differences are motivated by an unending desire to be right, not for the sake of personal gain, but for the glory of the One who is right. One's adherence to doctrinal truth can be seen in how close to the Scriptural mat they wrestle. Those who scream and kick the loudest hardly gear up let alone see canvas, and to actually go to the mat for truth means that one must actually believe that it exists lest we become circular Voltaireans chanting "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one." (Voltaire, Letter to Frederick the Great, 1767.)
Fidelity to Scripture must be a believer's plum as Christ is the never-moving cornerstone. Since a misrepresentation of theopneustos represents a divine slander it is both loving to correct those who have strayed into shadow and wise to accept that the line truly exists. All other hope is sinking sand.
A Thirst for Godliness: Christ and Hermeneutics (II)
08/02/2005 - James WhiteI will not belabor a thorough line-by-line examination, but I will address a few more comments made by our author. In what seems to be an attempt to create a lack of confidence in hermeneutics, we are presented with the following assertion:
Not only did the original authors of the New Testament generally avoid the sort of historical/grammatical method of interpreting the Scripture they had available to them, they often employed methods that today would be declared unacceptable by those who feel free to call biblical hermeneutics a science.He seems to borrow part of Peter Enns argument without following it to its conclusion wherein at least Dr. Enns offers a solution (albeit, a controversial one).
Without granting legitimacy to the blog writer’s assertions, as I am currently studying much of the interpretive methods in that time period before I make any argument on that at this point, I would ask him to offer a demonstration of how he would use the “pesher” interpretive method in the 21st century. One of the points that Enns examines is that such a method is foreign to our culture and us and quite impossible to duplicate. Longenecker, cited by Enns, suggests that the historico-grammatical method is the choice for the church to understand the Apostles. Enns disagrees somewhat and adds some caveats. I will not engage that disagreement other than to make the point that while our blog author references this controversial matter in passing as though it were incontrovertible, he ignores that there is scholarly dialogue and support for using the historico-grammatical method in order to understand the text of Scripture.
[JRW: I would simply add that the Apostles were most often seeking to utilize the Tanakh in the demonstration of the Messiaship of Jesus. In this case, then, they were approaching texts that most today would admit of dual fulfillment as historically given prophecies with relevance when given but a second, greater relevance in Christ. Obviously, this places the conversation in the majority of instances in a different context than that which we face in interpreting, for example, the direct assertions of Paul regarding the historical existence of "false brethren" in the church.]
So, while we are told that the Apostles are using a particular method, we are never told why the historical-grammatical method is therefore invalid. In fact, we are never explicitly told anything about the method, only that it was not used by the Apostles. ...
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Five Hours of Crossan
08/01/2005 - James WhiteI headed out to the Sun Valley Parkway again this morning and got in a 47.2 mile ride. I downloaded a series of John Dominic Crossan's lectures from the Chautauqua Conference Center in 2001 and listened to them on the drive out, during the ride, and on the way back (no, listening to Dr. Crossan does not help you to ride faster). If you don't have a number of hours to invest, I have found that the Epilogue contained in Dr. Crossan's Who Killed Jesus? (Harper Collins, 1995, pp. 211-221) titled "History and Faith" to be a wonderful ten page summary of what you will learn from reading numerous other books and listening to hours of lectures and debates. If you have the book, you might take a look at it. Obviously, Dr. Crossan provides much more significant argumentation in his fuller works, but if you want to see the presuppositions plainly stated, this sort of functions as a "Quick Start" guide to his position.
08/01/2005 - James WhiteI took a few moments to read through a few pages of a Solid Ground book I mentioned a few weeks back, Heroes of the Reformation by Richard Newton. I was struck by the fact that though it is meant for young people, in reality, sadly, given the passage of time, it would be quite appropriate for most adults today. And I was also struck by the unapologetic, obvious attempt to apply the lessons learned from history to every day Christian living. Here's an example from the section on William Farel:
Farel was a self-denying man. If he had desired to live an easy, quiet life, without exposing himself to dangers, or trials, or persecutions of any kind, he could have done so by simply giving up the cause for which the Reformers worked, and remaining in the Romish church. But his desire was to do what was right in the sight of God, and not what would be the easiest for himself. It was no easy thing to travel over the Swiss mountains at any time, but especially in the depths of winter. Yet Farel never hesitated to go when duty called him. He was always ready to deny himself for the glory of God, and for the good of men. And this is the true spirit of a Christian. Jesus said, "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Let us all try to have a self-denying spirit.I know, I know, "How quaint!" Yet I wonder how much better things would be if we took to heart such honest, simple, plain and uncomplicated exhortations to godly behavior? Here's the link to the book--oh, and I just saw that there is another volume, Heroes of the Early Church that I don't have.
But there was one thing about Farel that was not so good. It mention this not that we should try to imitate it, but that we should avoid it.
Farel was a hot tempered man. He was something like the disciples when they wanted their Master to let them call down fire from heaven, as Elijah did, on those who would not do what they wished. One day he saw a Romish procession going along the street. He went up to the priest, who was carrying an image of St. Anthony, snatched the image out of his hands and threw it in the river. This raised a great tumult, and Farel came close to losing his life. It was wrong for him to do this. It was not what our blessed Lord would have advised him to do. One of his friends, a leading man among the reformers, reproved him for this violence.
"Remember, brother," he said, "men may be led by gentleness, but they will not be driven by violence. Do not forget that you were sent to preach to people, but not to rail at them. Pour on wine and oil in due season, and try to act as a loving minister of Christ, but not as a task master or a tyrant." This was good advice for him, and it is good advice to us. Jesus said, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." Let us strive to imitate "the gentleness of Christ."
A Thirst for Godliness: Christ and Hermeneutics (I)
08/01/2005 - James WhiteI began writing an article in response to a "reformed Catholic" who took aim at John Samon's article posted 7/28, and wrote a few paragraphs before Mike Porter asked if he could respond, so I thankfully handed the task to him. But I had already sent the first few paragraphs to John, so, I include them here, followed by the first portion of Mike Porter's response.
I saw some pretty amazing words today coming from that concentration of post-reformational ecumenism and source of opposition to all things biblical and apologetic, the "reformed Catholics." I read,
We make a mistake if we think that our central concern as Christians should be to properly exegete the text of Scripture. Nor should we be entertaining the idea that such should be the primary concern of the Christian minister. Bible study of course is important but our central concern should be Christ. Men thirst for the Living Water, not how we ought to practice hermeneutics. Catholicity is based on our identity in Christ, not our ability to agree with one another on the meaning and interpretation of the biblical text.
Of course, the writer is responding to the blog article immediately below regarding honoring God by honoring His Word. I searched in vain through the article for anything that said exegesis was the "central concern" for a Christian over against Christ. That's because, of course, there is nothing in the article that could lead any person to think that was John Samson's meaning. But some--especially those who continue their pilgrimage away from believing, conservative, Reformed beliefs--do not read anything that comes from their former backgrounds with even a modicum of fairness. The caricaturing of "the old ways" is epidemic today.
There is no conflict, of course, between practicing hermeneutics and thirsting for the Living Water. But, I may ask, should it not be that those who thirst for the Living Water will thirst for the truth about the One they worship and follow? Will not such a person desire to hear only the Shepherd's Voice? And how else is one going to properly honor God and His Word than by handling it with the awe and reverence and respect it is due, and I mean by that not the physical act of handling, but that of applying our best to its interpretation? ...
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