Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
One of the Most...Unusual Dividing Lines of All Time
01/31/2008 - James WhiteWell, I thought I would spend some time talking about the Gregg debate, but as soon as the intro music finished, I looked at my little tablet pc, which has our phone system software running on it, and who is the first caller, but Nadir Ahmed. And the attached description of the call is about why he won't be doing our debate. And it just got stranger from there! Nearly 40 minutes with Nadir covering...well, you just sorta have to listen. Then the next call was on Mormonism, and then a call back on Islam! I'm tired just thinking about it! You won't fall asleep during this one, to be sure! Here's the program (free/high quality).
Now, by the way. Nadir said it is a "lie" that there are any textual variants in the ancient manuscripts of the Qur'an. I do not have time to go into depth at this point in time, but I did want to provide the following scan of just a single page from Die dunklen Anfänge, a primarily German work edited by Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd-R Puin (Schiler, 2005). Here we have a discussion of textual variants found in Surah 2:222 in the Fogg's palimpsest. Briefly, the page not only shows a graphic showing the scriptio inferior and scriptio superior (palimpsests are manuscripts where the original has been wiped off and a new work written on top of it; they are often read by use of ultraviolet light); it gives the readings, showing how the original version of this text differed from the later standardized (i.e., called the "Uthmanic") text. Note as well that the original reading of this manuscript tended to agree with the readings of Ibn Mas'ud over against the later standardized text. The point is, here is documentation of textual variation in an early manuscript of the Qur'an, something Nadir Ahmed called "a lie" on the program today.
Steve Gregg/Calvinism Debate in California Canceled
01/31/2008 - James WhiteI have canceled the proposed debate in California with Steve Gregg on Calvinism. We will do a series of programs instead. Here is a discussion of the developments that led to this decision. And, I noted this response to Gregg in my comments.
A Textual Discussion from our Chat Channel
01/31/2008 - James White
Here is a pdf of the discussion in channel.
Appearance on apologetics.com Radio
01/30/2008 - James WhiteThis coming Friday night/Saturday morning I will be the guest on the apologetics.com radio program on KKLA with Lindsay Brooks. My daughter, Summer, joined us for the first half hour to talk about her experience last semester with Dr. Carter. Then we pretty well wandered about the apologetic landscape! We pre-recorded the program since...it airs between midnight and 2am! Maybe twenty years ago, but now, I do not guarantee my orthodoxy past 11pm at night. Anyway, as I mentioned the program airs at midnight, and then it will be available on the web at www.apologetics.com.
Making Up Catholic Answers
01/30/2008 - James SwanAfter listening to countless hours of Catholic Answers Live, I've noticed many of the questions can often be difficult, odd, unanswerable, or simply confusing. For instance, a caller recently asked Patrick Madrid something like, what happens to guardian angels after those they are "guarding" die? Do they get reassigned to a new a person, or do they retire? I admit, I'd never thought about this question. Patrick was busy thumbing through the Summa Theologiae searching for the answer, and quickly came up with his own speculative answer on the spot. You won't find that answer in the Bible, that's for sure, but to come up with any sort of answer did impress me.
The next question was about Mary. Did Mary know she was sinless? If you're like me, you do a quick scan of the Bible in your head and think, "there's no possible way Madrid can get this answer from the Bible." But lo and behold, Madrid attempted a Biblical answer. I've included Madrid's answer to hear:
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me? holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
Madrid mines from this text, "Mary needed a savior obviously." In his Pocket Guide To Catholic Apologetics, Madrid says, "Mary's sinlessness did not mean that she did not need a savior; she herself proclaimed Him to be such. Christ indeed saved Mary from sin- from all sin- but he did this for her prior to her contracting sin. We, on the other hand, are saved after we fall into it" (p.30). One thing should be most obvious: nowhere in Luke 1 does it state Mary lived her life sinless, nor can the act of being saved prior to sin be exegeted from the text. In fact, Madrid's interpretation is in direct contradiction to Romans 3:10-18, as well as countless other Scriptures that clearly teach the universal scope of sin on all of mankind. Even Madrid's Pocket Guide references Romans 5:12-19 and Ephesians 2:1-3 when speaking of original sin.
Following in the same manner, Madrid states,
"She knew that God saved her from sin in a particular way."
"She knew that God had done great things for her, and that this special gift she had been given by God, she may have not understood the full extent of it, but I think she certainly understood to some extent that she had a special grace otherwise these statements she's making I think wouldn't have, they would not have as much meaning otherwise."
She knew? Based on what? Not this text, that's for sure.The caller then asks the same question to Madrid that I would have: Could you not take Mary's statements as just pertaining to Mary being pregnant with Jesus? Madrid answers, "There's nothing wrong with interpreting it that way." Considering the fact that Mary's song is filled with familiar expressions from the Psalms and other parts of the Old Testament, and considering that the thrust of the entire Old Testament was about Jesus, the caller makes a very accurate observation. The emphasis of Mary's song is on the Messiah, and God's mighty acts of sovereignty and providence over all mankind. By allowing for this interpretation, though espousing one completely different, Madrid demonstrates something I find often in Catholic apologetics: affirm everything to cover all bases.
Further speculating on Luke 1, Madrid states, "To some extent, maybe not to a great extent even, Mary understood that God had given her a special grace, a special favor," and, "Mary had some inkling she had a special gift of sinlessness." "To what extent she knew it, how technically she was able to comprehend the details of it, I don't know, and Scripture, and Scripture doesn't tell us. That would be my guess."Guess indeed. Here Madrid argues that Mary may have only had a strong hunch on her sinlessness. Obviously, a person this side of eternity can only know their lives up to the point lived. Dr. White has made an excellent point in his book on Mary pertaining to this:
"Mary speaks of God as her savior. Are we really to imagine that she said these words with an understanding of a dogma that would not be defined for another 1,800 or more years? She would have had to have had a personal understanding of her own experiential sinlessness and the preemptive application of the merits of Christ to her in order to say these words in the way Roman Catholic theologians would have us understand them. Given that it is obvious that she did not fully understand the work of her Son at the Cross, how could she possibly view herself in such light?" [Mary: Another Redeemer? Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998), pp. 151-152].
Madrid then argues that any rational person could figure out that something unusual and different had been given to Mary. Yes indeed, something unusual did happen to Mary, and that is explained in Luke 1:35-37, but it is going beyond the text to state that Mary was given the gift of sinlessness, as if God almighty couldn't bring forth a holy, righteous savior from fallen humanity apart from making her sinless.
The host of Catholic Answers attempted to help Patrick out by referring to the angel's greeting, "Hail, full of Grace" and uses this to infer Mary must have realized she wasn't committing sin. But as Eric Svendsen has pointed out, "Modern scholarship has dismissed the translation 'full of grace' as a nonviable rendition" of the Greek term used. Svendsen notes even Catholic sources are avoiding this translation:
"Even a Catholic source such as Zerwick avoids the translation 'full of grace,' opting instead for the less theologically loaded praises 'endowed with grace; dearly loved.' The MNT task force translates it as 'graciously favored by God,' while noting that the Douay Rheims translation, 'full of grace,' is not literal and is gradually being replaced among Roman Catholic translators. The most recent standard Catholic translations the NAB and the JB, have followed suit in their renditions (NAB, 'O highly favored daughter'; JB, 'So highly favored') [Eric Svendsen, Who Is My Mother? (New York: Calvary Press, 2001) p. 129].
Madrid's last comment is the most revealing. He states to the host, "I suspect that if you and I could sit here for a couple of hours we could come up with additional ways of looking at this that would make sense according to Scripture." I believe that these men actually could do just that. How ironic that one of the typical charges made against Protestants is that of Biblical interpretive anarchy: that those without an infallible interpreter come up with all sorts of interpretations of the Bible. Here is a fine example of just that, speculation on a Biblical passage while reading one's theology into it. If anyone is guilty of misusing a text, it is Madrid's interpretation of Luke 1. To see Madrid's speculative Biblical exegesis on Mary in action, take a look at this article from Dr. White, A Biblical Basis for the "Immaculate Conception"? (A Review and Rebuttal of Patrick Madrid's Article "Ark of the New Covenant" in "This Rock" magazine, December 1991). Madrid puts forth things like, "Mary's Immaculate Conception is foreshadowed in Genesis 1, where God creates the universe in an immaculate state, free from any blemish or stain or sin or imperfection."
For the last few months, I've regularly listened to the Catholic Answers broadcast. I do this, because in order to really understand a different Gospel, particularly one I'm responding to, I find it helpful to actually read the materials they write, and listen to the shows they produce. To hear these people present Roman Catholicism from their own perspective is a revealing reminder that theology is not simply theoretical. The guests and hosts of Catholic Answers are deeply committed to their beliefs. They have a goal of bringing people into their church, and vigorously and unabashedly promote their beliefs.
One cannot accuse me of simply being cheered on by those that oppose Rome without actually checking out their materials. I don't expect everyone do this, nor do I recommend it. At times, it can be very draining and depressing. There have been times, after listening to 3 or 4 hours of Catholic Answers, I long for the clarity and wisdom of the sacred Scriptures. I long to hear the depth and richness of the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ, that by faith in Him alone can I ever have peace with God. After listening to Roman Catholic apologists speculate on Mary, guardian angels, discuss what is, or is not a mortal sin or a venial sin, and what to do to be restored to right standing with God, I'm overwhelmed by the clarity and beauty of the Bible. In fact, after listening to Catholic Answers, I have an even greater appreciation for sola scriptura.
It Is Good to Listen
01/30/2008 - James WhiteHere is an article from muslimmatters.org that is worth reading. It deals with the Ahl al-Kitab, (أهل الكتاب), "the People of the Book," which in the Qur'an, depending on context, is a reference to Christians, Jews, or Christians and Jews. I.e., monotheists who possess the Scriptures that Allah sent down before the Qur'an. It is good to listen to the Muslims as they speak amongst themselves. You learn more than when you only concentrate upon what they say to those outside their community. Note the conclusion of the paper:
Part of conveying the message properly is to make sure that the dialogue concludes without any ambiguity. In this vein, there are two ayaat in particular that lay out the ultimate choice for the People of the Book.
They are reminded with censure of their previous transgression while at the same time being given hope of a good reward should they accept the message,
And if only the people of the Scripture had believed (in Muhammad and warded off evil and had become pious, We would indeed have blotted out their sins and admitted them to Gardens of pleasure (in Paradise).
It is up to them to choose the path of success,
Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So those who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful.
If they still reject the message though, then the blame lies on their shoulders in the Hereafter,
Verily, those who disbelieve from among the people of the Scripture and the polytheists will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.
Final Advice to the Believers and the People of the Book
And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And verily, We have recommended to the people of the Scripture before you, and to you (O Muslims) that you (all) fear Allah, and keep your duty to Him, But if you disbelieve, then unto Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, and Allah is Ever Rich (Free of all wants), Worthy of all praise.
33 Ma’idah:65 34 A’raaf:157 35 Bayyinah:6 36 Nisaa:131
The Talpiot Tomb and the Princeton Seminary Symposium
01/30/2008 - Colin SmithOn January 13-17 this year, Princeton Theological Seminary held a symposium on "Jewish Views of the Afterlife and Burial Practices in Second Temple Judaism." The subtitle to the symposium was: "Evaluating the Talpiot Tomb in Context." The list of participants included James Charlesworth and Geza Vermes. I daresay most of you are saying "umm... who?" These are not Evangelical scholars by any stretch of the imagination, which is what makes the findings of the symposium all the more interesting in light of the media hoopla over this topic. I will link to the full report below, but here's a taste:
"A firestorm has broken out in Jerusalem following the conclusion of the [Symposium]. Most negative assessments of archaeologists and other scientists and scholars who attended have been excluded from the final press reports. Instead the media have presented the views of Simcha Jacobovici, who produced the controversial film and book The Lost Tomb of Jesus with Hollywood director James Cameron, and who claims that his identification has been vindicated by the conference papers. Nothing further from the truth can be deduced from the discussion and presentations that took place on January 13-17, 2008."Read the full report for yourself. May it be of use to you as you encounter those who take the drivel of Jacobovici as fact.
Steve Ray and the Protevangelium of James
01/30/2008 - James WhiteA caller asked Steve Ray about the Protevangelium of James, one of the early "infancy gospels" from the end of the second century that became the basis for later Marian dogmas (such as the concept of the perpetual virginity of Mary). Here's a review of his comments.
The Big Announcement on the Dividing Line today!
01/29/2008 - James WhiteAfter making the announcement of the Ehrman debate and conference in January of 09, the calls started. So the first half hour is pretty much about the upcoming debate, conference, and cruise, with special guest Mike O'Fallon, and the second half our callers drove the agenda...all over the road! Here's the program (free/high quality).
January 21, 2009, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: Can the New Testament Be Inspired in Light of Textual Variation? James White vs. Bart Ehrman
01/29/2008 - James WhiteThere is probably no more pressing apologetic concern than the constant attacks upon the veracity and integrity of the text of Scripture. And no one is more central in the current attacks upon the New Testament than the chair of the department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, author of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture and the NY Times Best-Seller, Misquoting Jesus, Dr. Bart Ehrman. Dr. Ehrman has been moving more and more into full and open opposition to the Christian faith, and his next book, due out mid February, makes this clear. It is titled, God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer. Clearly Ehrman is moving beyond his field of study (textual criticism) with a title such as this.
On the Dividing Line today I played clips from Christopher Hitchens, author of God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, singing the uncritical praises of Ehrman's work as the final word on the scholarly front, followed by citations from Islamic sources who likewise use Ehrman as their chief modern resource for attacking the Christian Scriptures. As a result, there is simply no greater addition we can make to the cause of Christ in apologetics than to debate Bart Ehrman as a part of our 2009 National Conference. We will be joining other ministries in presenting the topic, "God's Faithful Word in an Unbelieving World."
First and foremost, pray that God will be pleased to bless the debate, all the preparations, and most importantly, the result, to the edification of His people, all to His glory and honor. Pray for the ministries involved, and most of all, plan on being with us for the debate, our conference, and the cruise to the Eastern Carribbean. The debate is January 21st in Ft. Lauderdale (details at the links above), the conference and cruise is the 22nd through the 29th. Make plans to be with us now at this important event!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of All Ages...and wonky Too! It is TIME for the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!
01/29/2008 - James WhiteWell, after many false starts and lots of hurdles, in just over an hour I will be making the "Big Announcement" on the Dividing Line! Make sure to be listening! These folks will be! (Possible Arabic Translation: We Are So Excited About the Big Announcement!)
Athanasius's 39th Festal Letter: Not Altogether Accurate?
01/28/2008 - James WhiteThis is the third in my series of refutations of Gary Michuta's failed attempt to defend Steve Ray's comments on Catholic Answers Live. Enjoy!
Collection of Critiques on Steve Gregg
01/27/2008 - Alan KurschnerSteve Gregg's rhetoric and repetitive avoidance of engaging meaningful Biblical discussion must be contrasted with the following critiques that Dr. White provided last year on the Dividing Line.
I have placed here a collection of all the Dividing Line Radio shows with James White responding to Steve Gregg's claims and interpretations. If you know anyone who follows Gregg's teachings, send them this link so they can be provided these thorough responses.
1. Introduction to Gregg's synergism; and John 6. Here.
2. Gregg's ignorance of standard Reformed literature; his misrepresentations of the Reformed understanding of God's nature, God's love, justice, and the topic of assurance. Here.
3. His errors of Greek grammar; his misrepresentations on predestination; 1Peter 2:8; Acts 13:48. Here.
4. Full discussion on Acts 13:48 and responding to Gregg's errant interpretation of this text. Here.
5. Exposition on Romans 9. Here.
6. Part 1 - Critique of his interpretation on Romans 9. Here.
7. Part 2 - Critique of his interpretation on Romans 9. Here.
Dave Hunt and What Love is This? on YouTube
01/27/2008 - James White
Debate Set: Sunday Night, March 30th, Twin Lakes Church, Aptos, California (Updated)
01/25/2008 - James WhiteFor those who recall the series I did last summer responding to the lectures of Steve Gregg against Calvinism, a debate is scheduled for Sunday night, March 30th at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, California.
In preparation Mr. Gregg has indicated that his views have evolved, I guess would be the term, since he recorded the programs I responded to. So in downloading the literally hundreds of pages of web board posts that represent his current position, I found these comments:
I have been reading, for the past few days, the debate between Dr. White and Dave Hunt. I confess that it has been vexing, as both men seem too interested in attacking each other personally than in sticking strictly to the issues. Mr. Hunt, in my opinion, stuck more with the issues and answered James's points more consistently than James did with Mr. Hunt's points.Elsewhere, I found Mr. Gregg referring to my "raving" out how "exegetical" Calvinism is, with these thoughts:
James seemed to think that, instead of presenting air-tight arguments favoring his own traditions, he could simply say that Dave Hunt was depending upon "the traditions of man" (a term White gratuitously used about a zillion times---per page!), and that, instead of answering Mr. Hunt's strongest scriptural points, he could simply accuse his opponent of not using (what Dr. White regards as) "exegesis."
If Dr. White cannot do better than this in debate, I may have to deprive myself of sleep for two or three days before our debate, just to make it fair (I am not suggesting that I am smarter than Dr. White. I am sure that I am not! However, no matter how smart you are, when you argue against the truth, you place yourself at a disadvantage).
Then I realized that Dr. White holds to a rather narrow definition of the word exegesis. When I use the term, I am speaking of rendering an explanation of a text, based upon:Those who have read my work to any depth at all well know how far off Gregg's views are. I cannot offer any explanation for what would cause such a complete misreading of my materials. And I must confess, this is the first time since my first debate in 1989 I've had an opponent say he may have to deprive himself of sleep before the debate just to make it fair. In all those years Roman Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, proponents of atheism, homosexuality, etc...none have uttered such words.
1) the meanings of words (vocabulary),
2) the relationships of the words to each other (grammar), and
3) the relationship of a sentence to other sentences in the flow of thought (context).
By contrast, it would appear that, to Dr. White, the chief feature of exegesis is a painstaking analysis of Greek syntax (a feature of #2, above). This is a convenient (though truncated) definition for him to adopt, since he has special training in such matters of the Greek language, whereas few in his audience can understand his arcane explanations, giving the following false impressions:
1) that he knows more than they do about the Bible,
2) that his interpretation (something different from translation) must be correct, and
3) that even if his interpretation is not correct, the problems involved in understanding the text are so complex as to render it impossible for the common man to know if he is right or wrong.
So he wins his point by default---unless his opponent knows Greek as well as he does, and can clearly explain why his point is not established by his intricate arguments.
At the end of this particular post, wherein Mr. Gregg demonstrates that he has yet to have the slightest idea who I am, what I believe, what I teach, etc., he quotes from Matthew 11,
"I thank you, Father...that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes!"The irony is he doesn't read the text in its context:
Matthew 11:25-27 5 ¶ At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 "Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.In the context, Jesus is rejoicing in God's judgment, and in that context affirms that this is in accordance with the Father's will. Then we have the direct statement that to know the Father, the Son must will to reveal Him to you. There is an exclusivity in the Son's revelation of the Father, and it is one based upon the Son's will, not upon man's! If one wishes to say that it is the Son's will to reveal the Father to all indiscriminately, then why put these words in the context of judgment? No, these words are directly parallel to those in John that emphasize so clearly the divine right of self-revelation to those given by the Father to the Son.
All I can say is it is going to be an interesting debate.
DeoVolente pointed my attention to another post added to the thread I quote above. I will be honest folks: I never expected this from Steve Gregg. I mean, I obviously found his presentations horribly flawed and pointed out numerous problems with them, but never, in 19 years of formal debating (starting with Gerry Matatics in Long Island in 1989) have I ever encountered anyone who, before a debate, would make comments like "I may have to deprive myself of sleep for two or three days before our debate, just to make it fair." I suppose some may have said that privately to some friends, but I personally never heard such commentary. Anyway, on 12/1/07 Mr. Gregg added these comments:
In hearing his comments and reactions to my lectures, I got the impression that he is not going to be a very formidable opponent. He seems to neglect most of the important considerations in exegesis, and then distracts his audience from this fact by accusing his opponent of "eisegesis," "following tradition," and other canards. My assumption is that intelligent audiences will notice what he is doing, and it will weaken his case in their eyes.I am left speechless by such rhetoric, honestly. I will gladly allow the fair-minded readers of our comparative works, and the fair minded listeners to our programs, our presentations, and eventually, our debate, to decide the matter. But I simply point Mr. Gregg to two of my opponents who did, in fact, come to our debates with the idea that they were going to have an easy time of it: Father Peter Stravinskas and ACLU board member Barry Lynn. A word to the wise.
I am now much more familiar with James White's writings and debate methods, and I am more convinced than ever that my first impressions were correct. Whether he is debating Tim Warner, Dave Hunt or Norm Geisler (or me), he always resorts to the same tactics and the same name-calling. Some people have asked me whether it makes me nervous about being on the receiving end of that kind of treatment in a public forum. I don't know why it should. Only if I succumb to the temptation to respond in the same manner will I or my case look bad. I should think that Dr. White would himself be nervous every time he debates—not that his opponent will make him look bad, but that he will make himself look foolish.
The Abuse of Ignatius of Antioch by Roman Catholic Apologist Steve Ray
01/25/2008 - James WhiteFour years ago I addressed the abuse of the words of Ignatius of Antioch by Roman Catholic apologists, at that time quoting from an article by Tim Staples as my example. I then took the time to work through the text of Ignatius' epistle to the Smyrneans, demonstrating that a fair and contextual reading does not support the abuse of his words by modern Rome. As Steve Ray repeated this abuse on Catholic Answers Live recently, I have begun a series of video blogs documenting this, using the audio from the DL of 2004, combined with the text of Ignatius. Here is the first in the series. If you wish to have extra documentation, I had provided these links to the English and Greek texts even back in 2004.
Today on The Dividing Line
01/24/2008 - James WhiteAlmost felt like a new season of Dividing Lines with our new website! Had callers the first half hour, including Colonel Leino USMC calling from Okinawa! Then I addressed the Steve Ray/Gary Michuta saga. I mentioned that you might just want to be keeping an eye on the blog over the weekend and on Monday. Who knows that important information might be posted! Here's the program (free/high quality).
John Piper Responds to "A Common Word"
01/24/2008 - James WhiteI was sent a link to John Piper's video response to the controversy over "A Common Word." I am providing it here. I would go beyond Dr. Piper and say that I am not simply profoundly disappointed in the "Christian" response: I found the reply, titled "Loving God and Neighbor Together," a sad example of Christian dhimmitude. Dhimmitude is the status of monotheists (Jews and Christians, in the main) under Islamic rule. Islam severely restricts the freedoms of dhimmi peoples under their rule, prohibiting proselytization, for example, or even singing hymns too loudly. It is an attitude that is inherent in Islamic theology, and it flows from the notion that Muhammad is the final prophet, the seal of the prophets, and that sharia must be established all across the world, creating a universal Dar al Islam. I see "Loving God and Neighbor Together" speaking in dhimmi fashion for a simple reason: Islam comes after the Christian faith; Islam claims to be consistent with the teachings of the prophets, and it even claims to lead people to love Jesus Christ. Yet, it is Islam that denies that Jesus is the Son of God; Islam denies the cross of Calvary, and the resurrection; hence it denies propitiation, the gospel, and the entire heart of the Christian faith. In fact, Islam cannot define itself without doing so through the negation of Christian beliefs. I offer two citations from the Qur'an in support of my assertion:
حسورة الإخلاص - سورة ١١٢
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ ١
اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ ٢
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ ٣
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ ٤
1. Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
2. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
3. He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
4. And there is none like unto Him.
Surah Al-Ikhlas (112)
سورة المائدة - سورة ٥
َّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَآلُواْ إِنَّ اللّهَ هُوَ الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ قُلْ فَمَن يَمْلِكُ مِنَ اللّهِ شَيْئًا إِنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُهْلِكَ الْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَأُمَّهُ وَمَن فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا وَلِلّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاء وَاللّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ١٧
In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every-one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things."
Surah Al-Maida (5), Ayah 17
Surah 112:3 is clearly a denial of the Christian doctrine of Christ as the Son of God (though, I would argue, the Qur'an does not understand the Christian doctrine it denies, to be sure); and Surah 5:17 identifies as blasphemy (كَفَرَ, kafara) a belief in the deity of Christ (though, again, the Qur'an is in error in its understanding of the doctrines it denies). We must remember that Muslims believe Jesus was a Muslim: that he prayed like a Muslim, dressed like a Muslim, and most importantly, taught little more than this: "Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord" (Surah 5:117). Tremendous biblical truths, such as the words of our Lord in Matthew 11:27, "All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him," are directly denied (though, again, probably without direct knowledge on the part of Muhammad, who simply did not have direct access to the Christian Scriptures) by the words of the Qur'an, attributed to Jesus, "Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine" (5:116).
So why do I identify an attitude of dhimmitude on the part of the respondents? They did not provide a uniquely Christian response. Surely, they must know the issues that separate us (though, I confess, looking at some of the names attached, that may not be the case); so why pretend we can talk about the love of God when Christians believe the love of God is revealed first and foremost in Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, and shown in the cross of Christ, which is denied directly by Islam (Surah 4:157)? The battle is already over when, as a Christian, you start anywhere other than the central epistemological claim of our faith:
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,Contrast this with the plain words of the Qur'an, "O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah...." So by seeking some kind of common ground outside of the definitional parameters of the Christian faith "Loving God and Neighbor Together" has abandoned the only message we have to proclaim to the Muslim people! This is why it has been opposed by all those I know who know Islam and see the bold proclamation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified as the greatest means of loving the Muslim people.
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 ¶ He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Welcome to the NEW aomin.org!
01/24/2008 - James WhiteThree years in the making! Yes indeed, we knew we needed to upgrade our site a long time ago. So what took so long? Simple. We make a penny scream before we let it go, so we did not go out and buy a pre-made template. Besides, we have skilled volunteers. But, of course, our volunteers are just that: and as you all know, if you want something done, you find the busiest people to do it. But...it's done!
Now, you will see, of course, that it will take time to migrate the older articles to the new format. One of the reasons it took some time to do the new design is due to the sheer size of our site. We've been doing this for over a decade now, and stuff piles up on a website! So you will find some links going back to the old site for now, but we are working diligently to get everything up to speed. Of course, now that this new format is operational, future changes will be a lot easier, thankfully. It was the first "get caught up to modern technology" move that took so long. For those who don't know, the format we had first appeared in 2000. So old, it had become retro!
So we hope you will find our new website easy to use and helpful. I sure like the way it looks! I would like to extend my thanks to (using their IRC nicks) AOMin, Shamgar, Micah, ENielsen, Spidey and buzz for all their hard work for a very long and extended time period. Enjoy!
Why Gary Michuta Says Protestant Bibles Are Smaller (#2)
01/24/2008 - James SwanA review of Catholic Apologist Gary Michuta's examination of Luther and the Apocrypha (Part 2)
A few days ago, I posted Part 1 of my review of Catholic apologist Gary Michuta's presentation of Martin Luther from his new book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007). Mr. Michuta presented around twenty pages of argumentation on Luther's involvment with the deletion of the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles. In part one, we saw that Gary equated Luther with "the Marcionites, Ebionites, and Gnostics before him." Michuta also argued that Luther originally accepted the Apocrypha, but then in debate with Johann Eck, was forced to deny the canonicity of 2 Maccabees in order to deny purgatory. I demonstrated that during this debate, Luther still held to the belief in purgatory, so whatever his motivations were in denying 2 Maccabees, it was not because he presupposed Purgatory was untrue. Gary also presented flimsy evidence that only a year before this debate, Luther accepted the canonicity of the Apocrypha. Luther quoted from the Apocrypha throughout his career, and simply because he did this previous to his debate with Eck does not mean that he considered it canonical Scripture. Mr. Michuta attributes Luther's attitude toward the Apocrypha as the result of "theological convictions" and personal "tradition" that makes the Word of God void. While Luther indeed had "theological convictions," Mr. Michuta ignored an entire host of information on the historical reasoning Luther had toward the Apocrypha. Rather than present a balanced picture of a man's theology and historical opinion, Michuta put forth a Luther that fit with his theory on the deletion of the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles. I'd like to continue by taking a closer look at Luther's opinion on 2 Maccabees and his German Bible.
Luther's View of 2 Maccabees
Since Michuta spent time on Luther's problem with 2 Maccabees, I would have to question why Mr. Michuta would not actually search out Luther's opinion on 2 Maccabees and present at least some sort of qualifier in his book. He notes that Luther "appealed to the rabbinical Jewish canon" and "to the authority of Jerome" in his debate with Eck (pp. 250-251) about the non-canonicity of 2 Maccabees, as if this was done as a smoke-screen. Michuta quotes a secondary source explaining that Luther realized at this point he was setting up Jerome as an "infallible Pope." Rather, I would argue Luther shows something quite different: a familiarity with Jerome, the Jewish canon, and the questionable content of 2 Maccabees.
In 1521, Luther expressed these concerns quite succinctly in regard to the spurious nature of using 2 Maccabees as a prooftext for Purgatory:
"But their use of the passage in II Macc. 12[:43], which tells how Judas Maceabeus sent money to Jerusalem for prayers to be offered for those who fell in battle, proves nothing, for that book is not among the books of Holy Scripture, and, as St. Jerome says, it is not found in a Hebrew version, the language in which all the books of the Old Testament are written. In other respects, too, this book deserves little authority, for it contradicts the first Book of Maccabees in its description of King Antiochus, and contains many other fables which destroy its credibility. But even were the book authoritative, it would still be necessary in the case of so important an article that at least one passage out of the chief books [of the Bible] should support it, in order that every word might be established through the mouth of two or three witnesses. It must give rise to suspicion that in order to substantiate this doctrine no more than one passage could be discovered in the entire Bible; moreover this passage is in the least important and most despised book. Especially since so much depends on this doctrine which is so important that, indeed, the papacy and the whole hierarchy are all but built upon it, and derive all their wealth and honor from it. Surely, the majority of the priests would starve to death if there were no purgatory. Well, they should not offer such vague and feeble grounds for our faith!" [LW 32:96]
Here is Luther's synopsis of 2 Maccabees. Note his reasoning for rejecting the book, and then compare it with Michuta's understanding of Luther:
Preface to the Second Book of Maccabees (1534)...
This book is called, and is supposed to be, the second book of Maccabees, as the title indicates. Yet this cannot be true, because it reports several incidents that happened before those reported in the first book, and it does not proceed any further than Judas Maccabaeus, that is, chapter 7 of the first book. It would be better to call this the first instead of the second book, unless one were to call it simply a second book and not the second book of Maccabees; another or different, certainly, but not second. But we include it anyway, for the sake of the good story of the seven Maccabean martyrs and their mother, and other things as well. It appears, however, that the book has no single author, but was pieced together out of many books. It also presents a knotty problem in chapter 14[:41–46] where Razis commits suicide, something which also troubles St. Augustine and the ancient fathers. Such an example is good for nothing and should not be praised, even though it may be tolerated and perhaps explained. So also in chapter 1 this book describes the death of Antiochus quite differently than does First Maccabees [6:1–16]. To sum up: just as it is proper for the first book to be included among the sacred Scriptures,* so it is proper that this second book should be thrown out, even though it contains some good things. However the whole thing is left and referred to the pious reader to judge and to decide.[LW 35:352-353]
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Ahmed Deedat on the Deity of Christ: Refutation #1
01/23/2008 - James WhiteI managed to find a much higher quality version of the South African presentation Deedat made against the deity of Christ. Here is the first in a series of rebuttals of his presentation. As you watch, note the packed house to whom he is speaking. There is only one Christian missionary for every 400,000 Muslims in the world. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the field!
Today on the Dividing Line
01/22/2008 - James WhiteHad as my special guest Dr. Jim Renihan of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies. We discussed a new book he has edited, True Confessions: Baptist Documents in the Reformed Family from Reformed Baptist Academic Press. It is always a great pleasure to have Dr. Renihan on the program. Here's the program (free/high quality).
The Mysterious Luke Rivington
01/22/2008 - James WhiteThough it only shows the bankruptcy of the argumentation, many have criticized me for not turning this blog into an IIA (Internet Ignorance Aggregator) by having comments. "See, he can't respond to refutation!" is the cry. Of course, given that I have a toll-free phone number that folks can call twice a week to ask questions or challenge me, the accusation rings a bit hollow. Remember Guardian? Anyway, I have left the comments active on my recent YouTube videos (we have taken to calling them "vlogs" intead of "blogs"), and the results are predictably educational. Anyone going to my YouTube page will know who I am, what my name is, what I am doing, etc. I surely have no interest (let alone time!) to be policing the comments, so surf through them at your own risk.
Last weekend when I got a chance to sit down and watch Michuta's video, I posted a graphic showing that the anonymous video was, in fact, posted by Gary Michuta. This morning I began my ritual RSS run, and I saw a new post at Beggars, James Swan's blog. Carrie, who wrote an excellent post shedding important light upon another of Michuta's accusations of "half truths," mentioned in passing that Michuta had removed his name from his YouTube account. I immediately logged in and lo and behold, I was once again reminded of the importance of saving files, or in this case, graphics. You can find the original graphic below, and now we have the current edition. I had attempted to leave a comment on the video yesterday, asking those who were posting the most vitriolic ad-hominems why they were not dealing with the substance of my documentation, and inviting them to call the DL to make their case directly. The comment never appeared.
I have posted a five-part series on Ignatius in response to Ray. You can watch them all now, if you so choose, or, they will appear over the course of the next month on the blog, one per week (for those who prefer their doses of patristic studies in smaller packages). The next video I will put up in reference to the Michuta video will address the issues surrounding Athanasius' 39th Festal letter and Michuta's incredible assertion that Athanasius himself said his canon was "not altogether accurate," a misreading of Athanasius that could hardly be more glowing, and unnecessary. Ironically, while removing his name from his account, Michuta is busy taking pot-shots in other forums. Carrie quotes him as saying,
“What’s the difference between a propagandist and an apologist? A propagandist is mainly concerned with mocking and ridiculing his opponents for the entertainment of his co-religionists using whatever information he or she finds to be damaging. An apologist, however, takes his opponents seriously and recognizes that the opponents do have a rationale for what they believe. A good apologist feels the strength of his opponent’s position before critiquing it.”Given the documentation I have already provided (and there is a lot more to come), the irony of this kind of statement is rich indeed.
Why Gary Michuta Says Protestant Bibles Are Smaller (#1)
01/22/2008 - James SwanA review of Catholic Apologist Gary Michuta's examination of Luther and the Apocrypha
For many Roman Catholics, no discussion on the canon of Scripture is complete without at least some reference to Martin Luther. In the case of Gary Michuta's book, Why Catholic Bible Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007), Luther's position on the Apocrypha is discussed for twelve pages, and then revisited in an appendix at the end of the book for another ten pages. On the Catholic Answers forum in March 2007, Gary mentioned his forthcoming book was going to include "bombshells" on Luther. Since I have done at least a little research on Luther's view of the canon, this teaser was enough to prompt me to purchase the book. Gary was kind enough to send me a signed copy.
Michuta's goal is to demonstrate Luther's crucial role in the elimination of the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles. Since Michuta argues Catholics did not add these books to the Bible, perhaps a devious theological reason exists for their extraction. Typical in many Catholic treatments of Luther, heretical motivations from the heart are that which prompted Luther. Michuta states, "Like the Marcionites, Ebionites, and Gnostics before him, Luther's theological convictions determined what constituted the canonical Scriptures" (p. 252) , and, "Luther is quite literally, guilty of the charge commonly launched against Catholicism by Protestants today. He has, to paraphrase Scripture, '[made] void the word of God by [his] own tradition...' "(p. 253, n.648). Of course, if it is true that Luther did play a role in removing the Apocrypha, and the Apocrypha is not sacred Scripture, a similar type of charge could be leveled against Roman Catholicism: they, like the Mormons, have added to the Word of God. Luther would be owed gratitude for his role in the removal of spurious and burdensome non-biblical books.
Michuta's section on Luther follows after 244 pages of argumentation that the Apocrypha is indeed sacred Scripture, so his treatment of Luther will have to fit in to what has already been established. This is my main criticism of Gary's treatment of Luther. He forces the facts to fit his conclusion. As typical of many Luther studies, the facts don't always fit the way one wants them to, be they Catholic or Protestant. Luther did not arbitrarily remove the Apocrypha. He had particular reasons for placing it in a separate category, and those reasons were not simply based on his subjective opinion. Luther expressed both historical and theological reasons, following in the tradition of some of the great Biblical scholars that came before him, as well as expressing the same opinions as some of his contemporaries.
Michuta states, "Catholic apologists sometimes claim that Martin Luther removed the Deuterocanonical books from Scripture. This assertion is not entirely true" (p.246). Indeed, some Catholic apologists do mistakenly claim Luther took Apocryphal books out of the Bible, like Jimmy Akin, who stated Luther "cut" 2 Maccabees out of his Bible (Akin, Defending the Deuterocanonicals). This assertion though is entirely true: Luther translated and included the Apocrypha in his German Bible, as did many Bibles after Luther's. Gary attempts to argue that despite this, Luther introduced "certain innovations which were the culmination of a process of development within Luther's theology"(p.246). This was the impetus for their eventual removal. For Michuta, Luther accepted the Apocrypha as sacred Scripture up until 1518, and then, because of his ever-developing theology, began denying it in 1519, eventually culminating in the Apocrypha receiving non-canonical status in his translation of the Bible.
Did Luther Accept The Canonicity Of The Apocrypha Prior To 1519?
Michuta begins his historical treatment of the Reformer's seeming acceptance of the Apocrypha by stating, "...it appears that Luther did not always consider the Deuterocanon to be mere apocrypha. In at least one of his early controversies, he appears to have used the Deuterocanon as Scripture in its fullest sense" (pp. 247-248). Michuta posits Luther "freely quoted" from Sirach and Tobit against his Catholic opponents in 1518, and did so in a way that proves he considered both of these books canonical.
Michuta doesn't provide either Apocryphal citation from Luther. The quotation from Sirach though is easy enough to find. In Luther's Explanations of the Ninety-Five Theses, expounding on those who trust in letters of indulgence for salvation, Luther states, "They dare to expound this monstrous doctrine without shame in order to take away from men the fear of God and through indulgences hand them over to the wrath of God, contrary to the word of that wise one who said, 'Do not be without fear concerning the propitiation for sin' [Sirach 5:5], and of the Psalmist, 'Who understands his faults?' [Ps. 19:12]" (LW 31:208-209). Here, Luther refers to Sirach as "that wise one." This usage is actually quite consistent with Luther's general opinion and citations from Sirach throughout his career. In 1533 in his Preface to the Book of Jesus Sirach, Luther states, "the ancient fathers did not include this one among the books of sacred Scripture, but simply regarded it as the fine work of a wise man. And we shall let it go at that," and also "This is a useful book for the ordinary man"[LW 35:347].
One finds Luther "freely quoting" from Sirach and many of the Apocryphal books throughout his career. That he quoted from them in 1518 does not prove he thought any of them canonical. One could pull many quotes from Luther throughout his career that similarly neither affirm nor deny their canonicity, nor consider the point one way or the other. For instance, even towards the end of his life, Luther included citations of Sirach in his lectures on Genesis.
What Gary should have done, was actually refer to Luther's specific treatment of the Apocrypha in Luther's Works. Luther included a number of pages specific to his understanding of the Apocrypha, and his reasons for denying their canonicity. Gary would have found that Luther's writings are fairly consistent with the overviews he gives to these spurious books. One would think, in the twenty+ pages of discussing Luther's view of the Apocrypha, Mr. Michuta would actually refer to those writings in which Luther writes specifically about his position on the Apocrypha...but he does not! I find it suspicious that a book outlining the views of the most important theologians in regard to the Apocrypha would not consult the primary material to establish the view of a particular historical person. From Michuta's selected bibliography, he appears to only have used the older six-volume Philadelphia edition of Luther's Works, which doesn't include Luther's prefaces to the Apocrypha. This set isn't in print any longer, while the current 55 volume set of Luther's Works is readily available in many college libraries, and also available on an affordable CD-ROM. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
May I Highly Recommend...
01/21/2008 - James WhiteI have resisted all attempts at making my blog a commercial enterprise. But when I find folks who consistently do a professional job, with quick, friendly service, at an outstanding price, I can't help but tell folks about them. And I have, twice before, on this blog, mentioned Renaissance Art. I was looking for a cover for one of my biblical texts when I was in California back in May of 2006 prior to my debate with Shabir Ally. I happened to stumble across Renaissance Art. I ordered a cover...and then another, and another, and another. Today another arrived, this time for the portable sized Arabic Qur'an I've been using (lower left in this picture). Each of the covers in this picture came from Renaissance Art. Not only are they of the absolute highest quality leather, but as long as you give them exact measurements, the resultant product will fit like a glove. I have even given their products as gifts, always to the delight of the recipient. Others have taken my advice and ordered Bible covers, especially, and all, without exception, have been delighted with the results.
Now I know the readers of this blog like Bibles, Greek texts, Hebrew texts, etc., and hence have need of book covers. You may have some hardback books you would like to "soften" with a great leather cover, but do not want to pay the outrageous prices charged for re-binding a book. Here is your solution. No, I am not a paid representative, nor do I get anything from doing this other than the satisfaction of pointing folks to a tremendous company doing a great job. Check them out! They get an A+++ from me!
First Documented Refutation of Gary Michuta's Video Hit Piece
01/21/2008 - James White
Here are some of the comments left by Roman Catholics on Michuta's video. They are...educational.
This topic was brillantly debated by Gary Michuta. Gary proved every point and Mr. White was stuck with restating his platitudes. BTW, Steve Ray and Dave Armstrong were in the audience. Instead of there being a debate, why doesn't Mr. White just stop misrepresenting the truth to suit his beliefs? -- EveRachel44See why Roman Catholic apologists can get away with saying things to this kind of audience that they could never get away with in a debate with a knowledgable opponent?
Steve Ray always backs up his research, talks and videos with tons of facts. The attack on his credibility was hateful. Thank you for verifying in complete detail the truth and facts of Steve Ray's comments. -- EveRachel44
WOW! I love how you not only stated your point, but, you back it up with hard facts. Outstanding. It just proves that it is so important not to just believe what someone says, but, to actually do research and see what the real truth is. Thank you! -- dmaxmattie
No, what is pure garbage is how people like you can be presented with hard facts, names, places, and dates, and still refuse to believe what the Church teaches. James White? is a lying bigot and is leading people astray from our Lord's Church. I am a convert and people like White make me sick because I was deceived by them into hating our Lord's Church for years and years. -- IrishEddieOHara
Where is it pure garbage? Without it you fall into the Protestant Jack Chick style of criticism, the very thing you are accusing the video of! Stop parroting James White and come up with some arguments of your own. -- timothyprescott
This is a great video! I don't doubt Ray's scholarship. He has proven himself over and over again. -- cmic566
Need Something To Listen To?
01/20/2008 - James SwanIn the New York area, only one radio show dares to address relevant topics important to Christians. Chris Arnzen's Iron Sharpens Iron is a live daily broadcast featuring a variety of topics, guests and controversial issues.
For those you with basic questions about Calvinism, a recent show featured a Pastor's roundtable discussing the basics. For those of you beyond the basics, Chris interviewed Dr. Joel Beeke on a program entitled, "Meet The Puritans."
For those of you worried about Armageddon in the Middle East, Chris interviewed Gary DeMar on the theme of his controversial book Last Days Madness. For those of you though simply trying to live each day of your life to the glory of God, Chris presented a show entitled Christians in the workplace striking a balance.
I didn't believe it till I heard these interviews, but there are still followers of Sun Myung Moon (the "Moonies") around. Chris presented two shows discussing the recent activities of the Moonies. Of particular importance are their new methods of infiltrating evangelical Christianity virtually undetected. Part one had a few Moonies call in, Part two can be found here.
Remember Evangelicals and Catholics together? Hold on, now get set for Evangelicals and Muslims together! A document was recently created and signed by a number of Muslim clerics, scholars and intellectuals entitled "A Common Word Between Us And You." A subsequent document was created and signed by a number of noteworthy Evangelical Christians titled: "Loving God & Neighbor Together." Chris devoted two programs to address this "unity" between Muslims and Christians. In the first program, Chris and Steve Camp discussed, ""Peace At Any Price: Ecumenism Gone Mad." In the second program, Chris interviewed David Wood (contributor to Answering Islam).
Steve Ray Lets...Someone Else Respond (Updated--the Someone Else is Gary Michuta)
01/19/2008 - James WhiteOur main internet access is down today (I'm using my BlackBerry as a tethered modem to write this) so I will have to wait till Monday to provide a video blog, but Steve Ray just noted on his blog the posting of a video response to my documentation of his errors regarding Jerome being alone and unique in his rejection of the apocryphal books. Rush over to view this video response before it gets pulled! Why? Because it is that bad. If this is all Rome has to offer in defense of her allegedly infallible canon and her apologists like Ray, it is no wonder they have chosen to find a different way of spreading their message other than debate. The essence of the response plays games with the term "apocrypha." Instead of recognizing the real issue--Jerome's rejection of the deuterocanonicals as canon, which was the question Ray was allegedly responding to, this video tries to make it look like all Ray was saying was that Jerome used unique language no one else had ever used. It is one of the most pathetic attempts to defend an allegedly infallible system I've seen in a long time, which is why we need to grab it and save it before someone who knows better convinces the poster to pull it down. Documenting the errors of argumentation and simple logic on this one will be far too easy. For example, the poster doesn't even seem to understand the context of Cajetan's statement. He likewise helps out my cause by pointing out that after the split vote, where the apocryphal books carried only around 44% of the vote, as is the custom in Roman history, another vote was taken later, and that vote was unanimous. Well duh, of course it was, the decision had already been made. Time to look united! What an amazingly facile argument! "Hey, look, after Papal Infallibility was forced through Vatican I, those who had opposed it then supported it--and those who didn't left, so...it was unanimous!" This is apologetic argumentation? No wonder these folks don't put this kind of argumentation on display when cross-examination can be made! It is truly another banner day for documenting how poor has become the popular form of Roman Catholic apologetics.
Where are the serious Roman Catholic apologists these days? It is truly amazing.
Well, now I know who posted this video: none other than Gary Michuta himself. He joined YouTube just today to post this wonderful example of "As long as it is in the service of Rome, don't worry about the truth thing--it will all come out in the wash." Evidently he views it as his job to protect Steve Ray when Ray makes utterly absurd statements on CA Live. In any case, it is Michuta who now gets to own this mess of half-truths and deception, and own it he will. I already have a ton of citations exposing this very poorly argued video, but I will allow folks to take the time to watch it first. Save it to your hard drives, lest anyone forget. Note the ubiquitous "anti-Catholic" moniker it uses, too (always have to get that in there--that's part of the Roman Catholic apologist's handbook--union rules, even!). And while you are watching it, here are some quotes from the Jerome Bible Commentary to compare just for the fun of it:
But the writers of the Eastern church were more aware of the shorter scriptural canon drawn up by the Jews. Melito of Sardis (ca. 170) gives us our earliest Christian list of OT booksa list much like the one that eventually became the standard Hebr list (Est is omitted). Origen mentions that the Hebrews have 22 books; Athanasius, who had Jewish teachers, insists that the Christians should have 22 books just as the Hebrews have; and, of course, Jerome did his best to propagate the Hebr canon in the Western church. Some writers who favor the short canon nevertheless cite the deuterocanonical books.A distinction between canonical and ecclesiasticalwas proposed in order to classify the books, with the latter to be understood as works serving the Church for edification. Doubts about the deuterocanonical books keep recurring in the history of the Church among those who are aware of the Jewish canon. Those who prefer the shorter canon or express some doubt about the full canonical status of the deuterocanonicals include Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen, Epiphanius, Rufinus, Gregory the Great, John Damascene, Hugh of St. Victor, Nicholas of Lyra, and Cardinal Cajetan. (See A. C. Sundberg, CBQ 30  143-55.) [Brown, R. E., Fitzmyer, J. A., & Murphy, R. E. (1996, c1968). The Jerome Biblical commentary(2:523). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.]
Even at Trent, however, the Council Fathers did not specifically attempt to press the detail of Church usage back beyond the period of Jerome, for they used the Vg as the norm for Church usage, condemning anyone who does not accept these books in their entirety, with all their parts, according to the text usually read in the Catholic Church and as they are in the ancient Latin Vulgate (DS 1504). There are many difficulties here that demand investigation. First, in the period before the Vg therewas no consistent Church usage, as we have seen. Ironically, Jerome, the translator of the Vg, was very clear in his preference for the same short canon that Trent rejected in the name of the Vg. The Vg was introduced into the West over many protests (including that of Augustine) asserting that Jeromes translation from the Hebrew was an innovation against the Churchs usage of translating from the LXX. [Ibid., emph. added]
Oh, and I really should provide the entirety of Athanasius' 39th Festal letter, since this video specifically misrepresents it as can be seen in this graphic. Note how Athanasius does, in fact, specifically distinguish between the canonical, inspired texts, which are "fountains of salvation," and such works as the Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Tobit, etc. Is Michuta so lacking in understanding of these materials that he thinks Athanasius' words, "a mention of apocryphal writings" (των αποκρυφων μνημη) is equal to "the Apocrypha"?? This is the author of a book on the topic that is being promoted by Catholic Answers? Did Michuta really think no one would actually read this stuff? It is truly hard to say.
1. They have fabricated books which they call books of tables, in which they shew stars, to which they give the names of Saints. And therein of a truth they have inflicted on themselves a double reproach: those who have written such books, because they have perfected themselves in a lying and contemptible science; and as to the ignorant and simple, they have led them astray by evil thoughts concerning the right faith established in all truth and upright in the presence of God.
2. But since we have made mention of heretics as dead, but of ourselves as possessing the Divine Scriptures for salvation; and since I fear lest, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians , some few of the simple should be beguiled from their simplicity and purity, by the subtlety of certain men, and should henceforth read other books--those called apocryphal--led astray by the similarity of their names with the true books; I beseech you to bear patiently, if I also write, by way of remembrance, of matters with which you are acquainted, influenced by the need and advantage of the Church.
3. In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: Forasmuch as some have taken in hand , to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine; to the end that anyone who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led him astray; and that he who has continued steadfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance.
4. There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament.
5. Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.
6. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures. And He reproved the Jews, saying, Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me .
7. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings (των αποκρυφων μνημη). But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.
Talpiot Tomb Redux: Here They Come Again!
01/19/2008 - James WhiteGuess what! Easter is coming again! So guess what! Yup...here they come again.
You really need this book.
This is Just...Creepy
01/18/2008 - James WhiteDid you know you can watch the late John Paul II's tomb via webcam? Yeah, here's the link. The other webcam links are to outside monuments, which makes at least some sense (you can tell what the weather is, time of day, etc.), but putting a webcam on JPII's tomb is just...creepy. I suppose you could watch the flowers wilt...
Can God Enter Into His Own Creation?
01/18/2008 - James White
Today on The Dividing Line
01/17/2008 - James WhiteWell, I was going to address the rest of Steve Ray's comments on Catholic Answers Live today. I had them all cued up. But even before the program began, we had calls. In fact, we filled the lines. As a result, we covered a very wide range of topics once again, from Islam to Roman Catholicism to John 1:1 and a few others. Something for everyone! Here's the program (free/high quality).
On Obtaining Important Resources
01/16/2008 - James WhiteA brief, but important, word to our brothers and sisters who support our work.
I have been greatly encouraged by the many kind words I have read concerning my work in Islam, for which I am truly grateful. As I look at my calendar for 2008, I see eleven trips out of town, with five possible debates. Five. That's an incredible schedule already. Let's drop doctoral studies on top of all that, just for the fun of it! Yes, some folks think I'm nuts.
The only way I can keep up with the demands heading my way is to use the technology that allows it all to happen. At the same time, to do the kind of work I will need to be doing I need to continue building my reference library, and in this case, obtain some very expensive facsimile volumes. Why not just go to the library? Because they aren't in the library, at least, not within a thousand miles of me, anyway. Even if I could find the resources I need in one place, often the kind of study I am doing would require repeated reference of the materials, which you can't do when you are only visiting a library far away and then must return home. Further, to keep A&O active in other areas requires my presence here, doing the DL, making videos, etc. Besides, just as I continue to grab research materials I obtained on, say, Mormonism over two decades ago and put them to use today, this kind of material will be used over and over again in this ministry. In fact, you, our supporters, will have the benefit of seeing this material right here on the blog, placed in a meaningful context and its relevance made clear, so as to equip you for the task of apologetics and evangelism.
The vast majority of our readers are regular folks who give smaller amounts on a regular basis. That's how we keep the lights on and the bills paid. But a few prefer to meet specific needs, larger needs. And it is to those I address myself now.
I am seeking to add a series of highly valuable resources, directly relevant to my doctoral studies, to the ministry library. These are first-rate, highly valuable resources that are, to put it mildly, rare. Along with these resources it is our desire to upgrade the tablet pc so that it can be both my presentation computer and function as my full featured laptop while I am on the road (for many reasons, two being we use the laptop as the Dividing Line computer and the other is the great joy that comes from trying to get two computers through screening at the airport each and every time I fly!). I do not have assistants who travel with me: it is just me and my computer, so having one that does double duty would make the many trips facing me this year much easier. So if you would like to have a part in helping to meet these two needs, please contact us. You can call and talk to Rich, or e-mail. In any case, I greatly appreciate those of you who desire to partner with us in this important work!
Steve Ray Grossly Misrepresents Church History---Again
01/16/2008 - James WhiteHere is a tremendous example of the kind of scholarship put forward by Ignatius Press and Catholic Answers in the person of one of their "experts," Steve Ray. This kind of gross misrepresentation is simply too easy to refute, yet it is so very popular amongst Rome's adherents.
Zelph, the White Lamanite, and Other Oddities
01/15/2008 - James WhiteToday on The Dividing Line I addressed changes in Mormonism, focusing on the church's obvious retreat from the viewpoints and beliefs of earlier generations. This led me to tell the story of Zelph the White Lamanite. You'll just have to listen. Then we took calls on Islam and Roman Catholicism, so we truly covered a wide spectrum of topics today! Here's the program (free/high quality).
Also, this DL inspired ENielsen to song in our chat channel:
he fought as a white Lamanite, but couldn't save himself...
His body decomposed near the surface of a mound,
and that's where he stayed, 'till his skeleton was found!
-- By Mormons, that is. Joseph Smith."
Joseph Smith's First Vision Tested
01/15/2008 - Jeff DownsDr. White was a guest on Issues, Etc. with Todd Wilken, Jan. 14 discussing "Joseph Smith's First Vision." Program starts at 28:04. Click here to download and listen. The interview was in reference to Dr. White's article titled "Joseph Smith's First Vision Tested" in the current CRI Journal Vol. 30, No. 6, 2007.
BTW: Sandra Tanner, Bill McKeever, and John Voit will be on the BAM throughout this week.
A Kind Post Card from San Antonio
01/15/2008 - James White
The Gospel is Ours to Proclaim, Not Edit
01/13/2008 - James WhiteAs far as I know, this statement about the gospel is original with me. If someone else beat me to it, I am unaware of it, and did not consciously, anyway, utilize a pre-existing source. In any case, I have used it a lot, so Carla added a line of articles with it, including magnets and cards and stuff. Another good conversation starter, to be sure! Now if Cafe Press will just come up with some black sleeveless t's!
The Gospel is Worth Defending
01/13/2008 - James White
Did Ahmed Deedat Truly Know Greek?
01/12/2008 - James WhiteDocumentation of errors on the part of Ahmed Deedat, assisted and made even better by Sam Shamoun. Thanks Sam!
A Kind E-mail from Lou Ruggiero
01/11/2008 - James White
A Resource For You
01/11/2008 - James WhiteA channel regular mentioned I might want to fix up my YouTube page, which I honestly did not know I even had, so I took a few moments to do so today. Once I upload the next video blog (which is converting formats even as I type this), I'll have 59 videos posted, with, Lord willing, lots more coming. It is indeed easier to find videos on this page than by looking through the blog search engine, so you can find my page here.
Musings On Anti-Catholicism
01/11/2008 - James SwanIt's all too easy to get caught up in rhetoric and ad hominem with someone presenting a counter position. Paul instructs Christians to slander no one, and to be peaceable and considerate as we strive to show true humility toward all men (Titus 3:2). This goal can be easily forgotten. Particularly in written dialog, things we write not intended as offensive can come across as such when analyzed by those being written to or about.
I've recently been dialoging with a Catholic apologist over historical citations and context accuracy. During this discussion, levels of frustration have been met on both sides. I wonder if sometimes that level is reached because we build a picture of a person within our minds, and then read everything they write according to that image. Of course, this is simply human nature, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. God has given us reason, and we are to use that reason. However, I think humility requires we sit back at times and makes sure our characterization of our opponents is based in reality.
I have found that Roman Catholics have developed a notion of "anti-Catholic," and once that label gets slapped on, whatever one may write against Rome is interpreted in the worst possible way. I stand firmly with those who believe Rome teaches a false gospel. Therefore, what may come across to Catholics as anti-Catholic, I view as defending my faith against those I believe are putting forth material not glorifying to Jesus Christ. When I say this, I am not in any way implying that I hate Catholics. I do not agree with what they stand for, but this does not mean I hate them collectively, including their zealous apologists.
In this particular recent dialog with a Catholic apologist, I found a section in which the "group think" of the Roman Catholic mind came clearly to the front. I could see how my writings against Catholicism were viewed with distrust, and that my motivations were taken in the worst possible way. This particular apologist had taken snippet-sentences of my writings, and had made some striking conclusions as to my nature and intent. Here are two examples, with an explanation of what I meant, as well as the Catholic interpretation.
I stated once, "Won't somebody in Catholic apologetics do the right thing?", "Here I was said to be implying a "moral lapse" in Catholic apologists. However, if you read the context of this comment, I then went on to explain, "I have stated more than once, that these Catholic apologists, when going to print with their books, claiming to be deep in history is to cease being Protestant, should live up to their standards. If they make a historical statement, they should go deep into history to validate that statement when challenged." The charge was directed towards a particular apologist who would not admit he had hadn't actually read the source he had quoted, and how those within Catholic apologetics involved in this dispute would not admit his mistake.
I stated once, "One may think I'm nitpicking, and this is an isolated incident. . . . The current trend in Catholic apologetics is to throw Luther quotes in, regardless of what Luther actually said." The analysis given to these words was that I assert "absolute incompetence bordering on culpable irresponsibility." Note particularly the "..." These little dots mean something was left out. I was responding to Steve Ray's 11 page PDF response to my charges, and if you were to just read this little snippet, you would never realize I was quoted out of context. I actually said, "After sifting through eleven pages, I still doubt that Steve Ray cares about his methodology. Rather than simply admitting he hasn't read 'Epis. ad. Zwingli' and has no idea as to what Luther actually said on this or where he said it, I received back eleven pages of obfuscation. One may think I'm nitpicking, and this is an isolated incident. I recently checked another Luther quote used by Mr. Ray and came up with the same conclusion- Mr Ray didn't actually read what Luther said. The current trend in Catholic apologetics is to throw Luther quotes in, regardless of what Luther actually said." One can see, I noted a trend, and made specific assertions of a Catholic apologsit in particular. Interestingly, the Catholic apologist mis-citing my words above agreed with me that Steve Ray hadn't read the context of the quote he was using.
So in the mind of this particular Catholic apologist, my words are taken and morphed into something not intended. In my treatments of Luther and the Catholic usage thereof, he views my purpose to be none other than to chastise Catholics as "incompetent or even dishonest" and that I have a "strong polemical purpose to run down Catholic apologists." Obviously, this particular Catholic apologist failed to remember the paper of mine he used to link to approvingly on his website: The Roman Catholic Perspective of Martin Luther (Part Two). In this paper, I pointed out "There is a wealth of Roman Catholic authors whose opinions and research are worthy of a close look." Even more recently in a discussion with Catholic apologist Art Sippo on Luther biographies, I had to defend Catholic historian Joseph Lortz against the vitriol of Sippo. Obviously, I'm not the awful Catholic-hater I'm being painted to be.
For those you engaged in the evangelizing of Roman Catholics, keep in mind that your words might not make it to home plate so to speak. It's easy to get frustrated when a negative caricature is put forth about your motivations. Go into each discussion prayerfully and humbly, and most of all have the discussion for no other reason than to bring glory to God. This means that while the temptation to bite back may well up inside, consider that as Christians we're to expect strong opposition. You're getting back exactly what you're supposed to get back. God uses us, the weak vessels we are, to be salt and light. Pray that in each situation, you will be exactly that.
Today on the First Dividing Line of 2008!
01/10/2008 - James WhiteI'm sure some of you were disappointed that we could not make the announcement of our next major upcoming event, but once we are able to do so, I trust you will see that we needed to make sure everything was properly arranged ahead of time. I won't set at date for that until I have absolute confirmation from all the key folks that we will be ready. There are actually three, four major things coming together all at once, so when we "pull the trigger," well...you'll know it, believe me.
I did, however, make a major announcement today, and I hope that all of you who have supported Alpha and Omega Ministries will listen carefully to the program today. I announced my entrance into a Ph.D. program in Islamic studies, and spoke about my reasons for following what I believe to be the Lord's leading in this matter, my goals, and my concerns relating to the maintenance of the work of Alpha and Omega during this time period. I cannot say "no" to the many opportunities of debate, teaching, preaching, and writing, that come my way in increasing numbers. So I have to somehow work smarter, work harder, and find a way to combine all of these things in such a fashion as to glorify God through the advancement of this ministry. This will mean more work for Rich, and more demands on the ministry itself. We had some callers who likewise commented on the importance of the work. Here's the program (free/high quality).
Video Blog: Replying to Zakir Naik
01/10/2008 - James White
Eschatology Conference in Orlando
01/08/2008 - Alan KurschnerThis week I will be giving four hours of lectures on Thessalonians in Orlando. Click here to see what I will be covering and for information on the conference. Direct any questions or comments to me at vanvos (at) gmail (.com)
So It Was Raining in California...
01/07/2008 - James WhiteI just got done drying out my awesome Oakley computer bag. How could I be so careless to allow it to get wet? Well, it seems my rental car leaks...not from the top, but from the bottom. So the carpet in the back seat is soaked. Not being familiar with the car, there's no way I could know that by just looking, so, I put my computer bag on the floor this morning when I headed in from Santa Clarita to the Master's Seminary to give a teleconferenced presentation on the sufficiency of Scripture all the way over in Pune, India. I did so because I was headed down I-5, and everyone who lives anywhere near LA knows that you should be prepared to slam on your brakes at any moment on that stretch of highway, and I didn't want my computer to become a very identified and completey smashed up flying object. So, the bag got soaked, the stuff inside got soaked, and I just finished using the hair dryer in my hotel room to dry it out. That is, sadly, about the only time I've used a hair dryer in many years.
So why mention this? Well, ironically, Joanna Martens has the same problem with her car. It seems the leak is up front, not in the back, but, essentially, the same problem. How do I know this? Because she said so in a blog article, that's how! How did I happen across Joanna's blog article? Well, I was pointed to it because that wasn't all she said in this particular article. She went on to say,
Church was way cool today. James White from Alpha and Omega Ministries was teaching in one of the fellowship groups this morning. I ditched my normal routine and crashed this older-couples-only sunday school to hear the big man himself. Finding a seat 45 minutes into the shin-dig was no cakewalk, thanks to choir commitments, but regardless I got to hear the majority of the message: Islam.I think all of that was good, though, I have not had a chance to run it all past my daughter so she can translate for me. But the younger folks in my chat channel were agreed that this means I am definitely cool.
James White kicks major apologetic-argue/debate anything that is against the Bible and leave you on the floor in a fetal position sucking your thumb, butt. His presence alone is intimidating, causing the very walls in the room to vibrate. He's def. not the dude you'd want to meet alone in an alley somewhere, only if it were indeed the great White, you'd be getting the smack down on radical Biblical theology, calling you to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. You'd cry like a baby begging that he doesn't squish you between his fingers. Faithful man. If you haven't heard the dude lay it down, go to his webaschnizzle and watch/read some of his junk yourself. Men like this are so rad, and I love to just sit under their feet listening to their scholarly wit proceed from their mouth like sweet honey dripping over warm stones... music to my ears.
Seriously, I am very pleased my presentation "hit home" with just about everyone in the group (and a Bible Study group at Grace Community Church is like two normal churches in size, so this was a good group of folks). I didn't see anyone nodding off, that's for sure. I am trying to find ways to accurately and biblically motivate and excite Christians to start praying for the salvation of Muslim people and then putting some legs on their prayers by getting involved! Tomorrow I will be joining Phil Johnson in the studios of Grace to You to record a discussion about Islam, so I would covet your prayers for the clarity of the conversation, and that I would be able to have an impact in waking up a sleepy post-evangelicalism on the subject of Islam.
Talk About Lopsided...
01/06/2008 - James WhiteThe scarey thing is, there are some who can't see, or refuse to see, how utterly lopsided this affair was. Thank God for Sam Shamoun. Pray for him!
On Roman Catholic Unity
01/06/2008 - James SwanIf you ever engage those who advocate Catholic apologetics, you're probably familiar with the argument that Catholics are unified in their beliefs, while Protestants are not. A Roman Catholic apologist recently stated this common caricature in a blog entry against me:
"The same thing happens with Protestants, in their internal squabbles. This is one of the ongoing tragedies of Protestantism. Protestants can scream "sola Scriptura" and perspicuity (clearness) of Scripture till kingdom come, but they can't agree on its teaching, and so they need authoritative interpretation and a guide: the Church, tradition, councils, popes, and apostolic succession."
The claim presented states that Protestants adhere to Scripture as the final infallible authority, yet their disagreements nullify the sufficiency of that authority. Keeping this argument in mind, I'd like to contrast this with an interesting entry on the Jesuits recently posted on Steve Ray's blog. Ray quoted Catholic World News stating,
"The mission of the Jesuit order, as understood by most of its members, has changed radically in recent decades. As recently as the mid-20th century, the Jesuits were known as stalwart defenders of the Pope, who trained loyal young Catholics to defend Church doctrines. Today they are inveterate critics of the Vatican, who train young Catholics to question their faith. Is there any discussion among Jesuit leaders of a return to the defense of Catholic orthodoxy? Evidently not.
Perhaps not coincidentally, as the Jesuits have maneuvered to establish what amounts to a "loyal opposition" within the Catholic Church, the order has suffered heavily from defections and lost its ability to attract young recruits. In 1965 when Father Arrupe became superior general, there were about 36,000 Jesuits in the world. Today that figure has been cut nearly in half, with about 19,000 Jesuits remaining in a rapidly aging society. . . . "
One can see that the paradigm put forth in the first quote gets chewed up and spit out in the second quote. One of the main branches of the Roman Church is at odds with the authority structure. The Jesuits, once defenders of the Church, tradition, councils, popes, and apostolic succession now, according to the Catholic World News article, "train young Catholics to question their faith." In other words, the authority structure of the Church, tradition, councils, popes, and apostolic succession is not enough to act as a sufficient authority source for the Jesuits. The Jesuits are hardly a fringe group.
If an argument, when applied to one's own position, refutes one's own position, it is an invalid argument. Eric Svendsen's book, Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Claims to Authority [New York: Calvary Press, 2002] makes some great points about Catholic authority claims, pointing out:
“Surely, anyone who argues so vehemently against the legitimacy of Protestantism by pointing out variations of belief among Protestant denominations would first want to ensure that his own system was not also excluded on those same grounds. It is important to note that the argument is not one of degree of difference- it is that there are differences, period. One cannot, for instance, argue that his religious system is more legitimate on the basis that there is less disagreement within it than within other systems of belief. It is an all-or-nothing proposition. Either disagreements nullify a system, or they do not. Otherwise, the best one can argue is that his religious system more nearly conforms to a set standard of unity, but does not actually meet that standard. It is also important to keep in mind that the ‘diversity of belief’ argument is one that was invented by Roman Catholic Apologists. We as Evangelicals do not agree with its premise. But any system that argues for an arbitrary criterion for being the ‘true’ church must itself conform to that criterion.” [Upon This Slippery Rock, 23].
The example Svendsen uses to dismantle Rome’s claim for absolute unity is the Vatican II document, Dei Verbum. He presents an extremely pertinent issue for anyone claiming the name Christian: the authority of Scripture. Dei Verbum states:
107. The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."
Svendsen points out that this statement itself is prone to multiple interpretations within the Roman community. Conservative Roman Catholic apologists see this as a clear statement that the entirety of Scripture is without error. Some Roman Catholic scholars though see the phrase “for the sake of our salvation” as limiting inerrancy to only those sections of Scripture that teach about salvation.
Svendsen notes, “No one can tell us what the ‘official’ Roman Catholic teaching is on this issue, and Rome’s ‘infallible interpreter’ is of absolutely no advantage to the Roman Catholic apologist, for he has remained silent on the matter" [Upon This Slippery Rock, 24]. Thus, the actual teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are prone to interpretation. The Catholic apologist must use his own private interpretation to determine what the meaning of Roman Catholic teaching is. The conservative and liberal Roman Catholic can read the same document and come to two differing opinions.
So on a fundamental issue- what are, or are not, the very Words of God, Catholics are not unified. In terms of importance, this is a crucial issue. Recall the quote at the top of this entry. It was claimed Protestants need "authoritative interpretation and a guide: the Church, tradition, councils, popes, and apostolic succession." The question is...what for? If the Church, tradition, councils, popes, and apostolic succession cannot tell me what are, or are not, the very Words of God, of what value is the claim to possess an infallible interpreter? One can claim to have such, but if in practice on a crucial issue like the authority of Scripture, that infallible interpreter doesn't deliver the goods, or puts forth statements prone to interpretation of a wide range, then only one conclusion can follow: the repeated claims made to possessing such a power of unification is an empty claim.
Chasing Luther Quotes
01/04/2008 - James SwanI've spent a lot of time chasing Luther quotes, particularly those put forth by Catholic apologists. Back in November, I posted a brief review of a Martin Luther quote used by Steve Ray in his book Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church. The quote suggested Luther wrote a letter to Zwingli telling him only a Church Council could decide their differences. It's not just Steve, this particular quote is a favorite of those dedicated to defending Rome, both past and present.
I have found Roman Catholic citations of Luther often less than accurate. His words are used as a polemical tools to solidify whatever point is being made. I enjoy the opportunity to look up the quotes, demonstrate the underlying bias, and the abandonment of context. If you find a Catholic quoting Luther conceding a council would be that which could unify the Reformers, or that Luther wrote Zwingli (a man he ultimately considered a heretic), and stated only decrees of councils could resolve the Lord's Supper issues between them, your mental brakes should go on immediately.
I have never been so attacked with such vigor by Roman Catholics than in this particular instance. I've read blog articles and discussion threads obfuscating the issues I raised, along with plenty of insults and rhetoric. All testify to how awful I am for questioning this particular Luther saying. As I read all of it, it lead to one conclusion: no one in Catholic apologetics seemed to have any idea where Luther said what he was quoted as saying, and no one had any idea what the context was. In my original posting, I provided the answers to both.
Steve responded with an 11 page PDF document and then an updated version (and has also mentioned doing another revision at some point). Originally, Steve joined with the others in attacking my work on this quote. After my counter-response, Steve mentioned that he was "grateful for [my] research" and that he intended to thank me for it in his next revision. We've had some cordial e-mail exchanges, agreeing to take the discussion between us off the radar until more information about the quote surfaced.
Even though Steve and I agreed to this, I was thrust into a dispute with Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong over this particular Luther quote, with Steve linking to Armstrong's attacks off his blog. Mr. Armstrong informed his readers that he was doing research on the quote that would possibly render me "decisively refuted and embarrassed." Well, that dreaded moment finally arrived. Mr. Armstrong posted his findings.
It was claimed that Luther wrote a letter to Zwingli from which this particular quote was taken. I denied the existence of this letter, and I made the challenge to produce any letter from Luther to Zwingli. Armstrong concluded the quote wasn't from a letter, nor could he produce any such letters. I then put forth the actual treatise and context from which the quote came. Mr Armstrong concluded,
"Swan is also correct that the citation in question is indeed from Luther's 1527 treatise: That These Word of Christ, "This Is My Body," etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics (found in LW, vol. 37)."
I then provided the specific name to the treatise as it appeared in Latin, being translated from the original German. Mr. Armstrong responded,
"In a source helpfully provided by our esteemed friend James Swan, it is noted that the Latin version was entitled contra Fanaticos Sacramentariorum spiritus. This would account for the widely differing source names, according to whether one was citing a Latin or German version. Of course, the main "fanatical Sacramentarians" Luther is responding to were Zwingli and Oecolampadius; thus in common usage we can see how it could become known as simply Contra Zwingli and Oecolampadius or variation thereof."
Now that Mr. Armstrong's research has produced what I claimed all along, one would think an apology of some sort would be given. No, Mr. Armstrong does what he does best, continue to insult and obfuscate. He's put together two blog entries filled with his usual meandering reasoning (one of them is back-posted to December 15, 2007, even though it is recent). He's indeed correct the German original and the Latin translation have a difficulty in matching up. On the other hand, the Latin quote came from a Latin treatise, which means it had a context.
Mr. Armstrong should know how easy it is for Luther to be taken out-of-context, as he has written so much on Luther, and has so many books on Luther. There simply is no way he could miss this particular fact about Luther studies. I have stated more than once, that these Catholic apologists, when going to print with their books, claiming to be deep in history is to cease being Protestant, should live up to their standards. If they make a historical statement, they should go deep into history to validate that statement when challenged.
Armstrong recently stated,
"The citation will be proved (in the near future) to be a solid one, that has been used by many important people: themselves highly intelligent and scholarly. If anyone has been acting like a condescending fool, in over his head, in this current dispute, it is James Swan, not Steve Ray or myself."
Well, Dave Armstrong 2008 appears to be a lot like Dave Armstrong 2007. Dave didn't prove anything except what I originally stated. This means, Luther was taken out-of-context.
01/04/2008 - Jeff DownsThe most recent edition of the Ordained Servant (produced by the OPC) is on the topic of Encountering Islam. From the editor:
Since September 11, 2001, Americans have discovered that we can no longer ignore Islam as a political force or as a religion. The confusion of those two realms is inherent in Islam, and, sadly, is found with some Christians as well. For Christians, the danger in the confusion is to consider Muslims our enemies, when we should be seeking their salvation. Some Muslims are indeed our political enemies whom we have a duty to defend ourselves against as citizens; but, as the church, all Muslims should be the objects of our evangelistic concern. Only when we carefully distinguish between the spiritual and temporal kingdoms is such concern really possible. As enemies of God, Muslims must be told of the reconciling love of God in Jesus Christ.
Here are the articles in this edition:
Paul in Mecca, by Gregory E. Reynolds.
How Should the Reformed Church Respond to Islam?, by Bryan D. Estelle.
City On A Hill: Caesar's or God's?, by Richard M. Gamble.
The Truth about Islam, by Gregory E. Reynolds.
The Crisis of Islam, by Donald M. Poundstone.
No Dividing Line This Week, But Some Good Shows to Listen To!
01/03/2008 - James SwanFor those of you wondering how you're going to make it through the week without hearing The Dividing Line, Dr. White was on Chris Arnzen's Iron Sharpens Iron program a few weeks ago. Dr. White presented a rebuttal to the Mormon reply to Fox News, and also covered a wide range of Mormon topics. The show can be found here.
For those of you interested in Roman Catholicism, Chris also recently interviewed Rob Zins about his book, On The Edge Of Apostasy: The Evangelical Romance With Rome . The show can be found here.
Phil Johnson was interviewed last week on the theme, "Bringing The Gospel To a Hostile Culture." This interview can be found here.
Hello Gary Michuta
01/02/2008 - James Swan
"Just when I thought that James Swan has forgotten me, my book, and the issue of the Old Testament canon, he reappears on the Alpha & Omega website with a canon article.I really respect James Swan even though I have never had the pleasure of meeting him. He seems to try to base his position on research and I’m glad that he is looking into the question of the canon more thoroughly. "
These were comments from Catholic apologist Gary Michuta. No, I have not forgotten Gary. I've been busy with other issues, and I don't always get a chance to keep up with every Catholic apologetic website. For a while, it was easier to keep up with Gary's apologetic contributions when he posted on the Envoy boards. Frankly, I'm happy he hasn't participated via Envoy for a while, as the particular negative polemic put forth is beneath Mr. Michuta's friendly demeanor. As Gary states, "I find ridicule to be a cheap substitute for sound arguments so I try to avoid it at all costs." Well, by avoiding Envoy, he's being consistent with this methodology.
Gary was concerned that my recent comments on Cardinal Girolamo Seripando were at odds with the presentation that Dr. White put forth in his debate on the apocrypha with Mr. Michuta. In my entry, I pointed out that the Roman Catholic scholar, and expert on Trent, Hubert Jedin said there was a small group of scholars at the Council of Trent that were considered fairly knowledgeable on the non-canonicity of the apocrypha. Jedin states Seripando "was aligned with the leaders of a minority that was outstanding for its theological scholarship at the Council of Trent." Mr. Michuta then took a snippet from Dr. White's quotation of B. F. Westcott , who said of Trent, there was "not one who was fitted for special study for the examination of a subject in which the truth could be determined by the voice of antiquity." One can see the dilemma, I've pointed out a small group of scholars considered by Jedin that knew about the canon, while Wescott says no one at Trent had sufficient learning to come to a proper conclusion.
I asked Dr. White what he thought about Mr. Michuta's concerns:
1) I am more than happy to learn new things from folks like James Swan and others who post on his blog as well. For example, I did not know that the "yes" vote for the canon comprised barely 40% of the small group gathered at Trent. That's a real confidence booster....
2) The quote I gave in the debate was undoubtedly speaking of world-renowned scholars, those known for generations in the future. Given that almost nobody can even dig up the names of anyone at Trent (99.999999% of all Catholics couldn't do it), the two quotes contrasted by Michuta obviously have different contexts. Even the continuation of Westcott's quote [given below] bears this out. If this is the best our Roman Catholic critics can come up with to assert disunity, well...they should check out some of the stuff on the web about all of those who used to stand side by side in defense of Rome (check out how united are Matatics, Sungenis, Madrid, Keating, and Shea!).
3) But even then, it is great to see Gary bringing up this point, since it takes us back to the real issue here: the folks who knew the most about the history of the canon did not vote for the canon Michuta wants to enforce upon all believers today.
Jedin, whom I quoted, lists a few others who likewise shared similar concerns. In his book, Mr. Michuta mentions Seripando and Bertano, noting their concerns for following Jerome's view of the canon was rejected. Michuta though also speaks of those present at Trent as a singular unity, this despite the fact there were dissenters to the majority: "Rightly or wrongly, [Trent] acted in a manner entirely conservative, basing their decisions on precedent alone. The desire of the Council was to avoid tampering with the canon in any way; to offer, rather, a simple 'rubber stamp' upon the judgements of previous authorities (especially that of the Council of Florence)" [Why Catholic Bible Are Bigger, p.237]. Mr. Michuta speaks of Trent as a unified body. Interestingly, Westcott refers to Seripando's group in the same context from which Dr. White quoted, and points out their disunity:
"On the first point there was a general agreement. It was allowed that tradition was a coordinate source of doctrine with Scripture. On the second there was a great variety of opinion. Some proposed to follow the judgment of Cardinal Caietan and distinguish two classes of books, as, it was argued, had been the intention of Augustine. Others wished to draw the line of distinction yet more exactly, and form three classes, (1) the Acknowledged Books, (2) the Disputed Books of the New Testament, as having been afterwards generally received, (3) the Apocrypha of the Old Testament. A third party wished to give a bare list, as that of Carthage, without any further definition of the authority of the books included in it, so as to leave the subject yet open. A fourth party, influenced by a false interpretation of the earlier papal decrees, and necessarily ignorant of the grave doubts which affect their authenticity, urged the ratification of all the books of the enlarged Canon as equally of Divine authority. The first view was afterwards merged in the second, and on March 8 three minutes were drawn up embodying the three remaining opinions. These were considered privately, and on the 15th the third was carried by a majority of voices. The decree in which it was finally expressed was published on the 8th of April, and for the first time the question of the contents of the Bible was made an absolute article of faith and confirmed by an Anathema. 'The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent,' so the decree runs, '...following the examples of the orthodox fathers receives and venerates all the books of the Old and New Testaments...and also traditions pertaining to faith and conduct...with an equal feeling of devotion and reverence" [B.F. Westcott, The Bible In The Church, p. 256].
Mr. Michuta stated to me, "Despite the fact that his article contains no conclusion, we are left only with the title to direct us as to the purpose of the article." Indeed, this was a purposeful act. The information is what is. I felt it was simply enough to put the facts out: a Roman Catholic expert on Trent pointed out a few people at Trent were knowledgeable on the canon, but were voted down. I don't find Catholic or Protestant apologetic organizations talking about Seripando and his concerns. He's sunk into the realm of historical obscurity, a forgotten name from long ago. Seripando's group was a minority at Trent, easily overlooked, easily forgotten.
I would challenge Mr. Michuta to look at issues greater than Westcott's comment on those present at Trent. There are plausible reasons as to why Westcott would not mention Seripando,first and foremost being his was not an exhaustive treatment of those present at Trent, but rather generalized comments. Hubert Jedin named his book after Seripando, and seeks to develop a coherent picture of the man. While Seripando argued for the right cause, one wonders what would have happened had Cajetan been the voice arguing in his place.
Noting the lack of coherence among the views expressed by those at Trent above, perhaps it would be beneficial for Mr. Michuta to delve into a historical treatment of Seripando, and to update the section in his book on Trent, which presents a rather coherent unity of a council, that in reality, was not as unified as is made out to be.
P.S. from James White: I would like to announce a much greater point of disagreement between myself and James Swan. We disagree, deeply, formally, and pictorially, on the use of artificial hair coloring. Let's see which Roman Catholic apologist will run with that one!
I appreciate James Swan's thoughts here, and would like to say that I do not have a demand of "lock step unanimity" on such issues in Team Apologian. We have no Inquisition to enforce such "unity." I am thankful to have come to know that the allegedly dogmatic definition of the canon for Roman Catholics actually represented a minority of the total prelates, which was a small number to begin with. The idea that such a small number of men, standing against those with learning in the field (even if not renown outside their generation), could determine something dogmatically that is then forced upon all of Christendom is truly another example of the implicit arrogance that marks the Roman See.
Many Thanks, Brother Sam; An Apology to Shabir Ally; Why do Muslims Use Straw Men?
01/01/2008 - James WhiteFollowing the debate in Seattle I invested some time in responding to some post-debate "chatter," you might call it, in the form of comments from Shabir Ally regarding the topics we discussed during the debate (which is now available in mp3 format, and Lord willing, in DVD format very soon). In any case, I have not been able to do any more in that arena as time has precluded my doing so, but Sam Shamoun has taken the time to produce a number of replies. Two are on the crucifixion (here and here), and two on other relevant topics (here and here). Thanks again to Sam for all of his hard work for the King and the kingdom!
In light of the mention of Shabir Ally, I would like to retract what I said on the 26th regarding Shabir's upcoming debate with Dave Hunt. I do not believe Shabir is going to enjoy his time in that debate, to be sure. Indeed, Hunt's dogged refusal to listen to the other side may well result in such a confused mess that no one will have the slightest idea what either side is saying. One could only hope! But in any case, I said I was disappointed in Shabir for accepting the debate challenge. Now, on the level that Shabir himself has announced as his reasons for debating, I would still have to be disappointed, because he is not going to be learning from Dave Hunt. But on the level of being willing to engage those who present the most "common" types of arguments against your position, it is perfectly valid for Shabir to respond to Dave Hunt. I was reminded of this by the encounter with Nadir Ahmed and David Wood's mentioning that while surely Nadir does not present nearly as scholarly or thought-out arguments as Shabir Ally, still, responding to Nadir is useful because his arguments are more like what is found on the "Muslim Street" than those of Shabir Ally. And about that, David is so very correct. It is always good to meet the best the other side has to offer, and this is especially true in debating such groups as Roman Catholics, Mormons, or Jehovah's Witnesses. Yet, one must realize that the Witness at your door is probably not going to argue just like Greg Stafford; the Mormon will not have all of the FARMS materials memorized, and surely most Roman Catholics do not argue like a Hahn or an Akin. So at times you have to deal with those arguments that are more common, and nowhere is this more true than when looking to encourage our brothers and sisters who are under persecution in Muslim lands. The anti-Christian rhetoric of Islamic states is rarely on the level of what you find coming from a Shabir Ally: it is much more in the form of what we saw in my dialog with "Muslm" in our chat channel, or what you find from Ali Ataie or Nadir Ahmed. And as distasteful as it can be to engage those who do not show a proper commitment to honest representation of the other side, for the sake of those who suffer persecution around the world, we must be willing to engage them. And so I have to be consistent, and withdraw my objection to Shabir Ally's debating Dave Hunt. Instead, since I know multiple people who attempted to convince the organizers of that debate to utilize better Christian representation, I will lay the real objection at their feet. They will get to clean up the mess, to be sure.
Finally, I recently added a symbol to my "sig file" on my e-mails. Micah had been kind enough to produce some gorgeous signature files for me, and I wanted to add the cross/tricetra design (thanks Machaira!) with the Arabic phrase that reads, "Worship the one true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" to it. So one Muslim who saw it wrote back, rather mockingly saying that my Arabic is strange, because I say there is one, but then say that there are three. So I wrote back to this gentleman, who is fairly well known, and asked why it is that Muslim apologists, scholars, writers, etc., fail, very consistently, to address what it is Christians actually believe. Why the straw-men? I seriously wondered if this man could provide a cogent response, but all I got back was empty rhetoric. I will continue asking, for one thing is for sure, the fact that the vast majority of Muslims who deny my faith haven't a clue what they are denying is surely a major argument against finding Islam to be a religion that promotes a high view of the truth.