Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Humor in Debates, or, James White is Human!
04/30/2008 - James WhiteDespite the best efforts of many of my opponents, the record actually indicates that I am, in fact, human....
Today on The Dividing Line
04/29/2008 - James WhiteDuring the first half hour of the DL today I played some clips from Tim Staples. I also played a commercial from Catholic Answers that identifies Staples as "one of the foremost biblical scholars in the church today." I had no idea I had debated one of the foremost biblical scholars Rome has to offer! Which made it all the more odd to listen to Staples misquote Matthew 23:37 just like Dave Hunt and numerous others in another clip we listened to. Anyway, the calls started up after the break and we covered a lot of ground with a wide variety of questions right up to the end of the hour. Here's the program (free/high quality).
The Texe Marrs Saga: Part III
04/28/2008 - James White
04/26/2008 - James WhiteHere are two blog articles I looked at today. I think a comparison of their methodology, spirit, and guiding principles, is educational. One is from a convinced and inveterate synergist, the other a convinced monergist.
04/25/2008 - James WhiteThis was just too good not to share. (ht: BC). (Updated to a much higher resolution version of the same video).
Yesterday on The Dividing Line
04/25/2008 - James WhiteWent over the opening statements in the Ehrman/Wallace debate from New Orleans. The topic of the integrity of the Bible is the central apologetic issue of our time, and Ehrman's "400,000 variants, which is more variants than there are words in the NT" argument has become almost ubiquitous. Being able to respond meaningfully and clearly is vital to the Christian who does not desire to be silent in today's culture. Then we took some calls as well. Here's the program (free/high quality).
Gay Marriage Debate: CSU East Bay (Hayward)
04/25/2008 - James WhiteHere is a play list of the five videos containing the video shot from my tiny (but high performing!) Casio Exilim camera. These are the only recordings that exist as far as I know. I did not include the audience questions because...they were audience questions (i.e., not really questions, but statements disguised as questions). I had a good mp3 recorder going, and from what I'm hearing in the other room, the sound quality on it is nearly as good as if it was attached to the sound system. We will put the mp3 in our bookstore. The debate was not even a full hour in length, so, all you can do is make broad statements addressing presuppositional issues, as you will see.
This Is Not a Calvinism Bashing Seminar. Really. We Mean It. Honest. Trust Us.
04/24/2008 - James WhiteJerry Vines, Paige Patterson, Steve Lemke, and others. We've reviewed their sermons and their lectures many times in the past (search the DL archives). The John 3:16 Conference in November. I note there is no debate scheduled to kick things off! I'm surprised Ergun Caner isn't coming! I can't wait to hear if there will be even a whisper about the particularity found right there on the face of...John 3:16?
Steve Ray on CA Live! Plus Lots of Other...Stuff Updated
04/24/2008 - James WhiteI noted this announcement on Steve Ray's blog:
The topic this Friday at 7 PM EST is "Bible Verses Often Overlooked by Protestants." It will be preceeded by John Martignoni's 1) Do Catholics take the Bible literally? and/or 2) Which Came First: The Church or the Bible?Given the man's track record, does anyone want to take bets that it will be much more "Bible Verses I Like to Talk About But Haven't a Clue What Non-Catholic Scholars Actually Say About Them"? Maybe I will get a few mp3 gifts in e-mail from TQuid to play on the next DL.
Meanwhile I was reminded lately about the incredible double standards people are willing to embrace in the service of false religion. I was reading this article about more Muslim rioting due to the rumor of someone "blaspheming" Muhammad. Remember the "Muhammad the Teddy Bear" incident a few months ago? I was reminded about how Jalal Abualrub had at one point asked that an agreement be signed that there would be no blasphemy of Muhammad in the debates. Remember, one of those debates was titled, "Was Muhammad a Prophet?" Now, while Islam demands the right to deny the crucifixion, resurrection, and the deity of Christ, without calling that "blasphemy," if you dare say Muhammad was not a prophet, you are guilty of blasphemy. The hypocrisy is blatant, but in most Western cultures, Muslims are getting away with this without anyone pointing to the double standard. What is more, the Muslims who might actually recognize the double standard are the small, small minority. The majority have no concerns whatsoever about using one standard to deny Christianity and another to claim constant reason for being offended. It is truly amazing to observe.
Since I am covering a wide variety of topics, I'd like to thank the Lockman Foundation and Dantona Industries for helping to get the word out on the Ehrman debate in January. I will be talking about the Ehrman subject today on the DL, and I truly believe that this debate will touch upon the central, key elements of the modern attack upon the Christian faith centered upon the reliability of God's revelation in Scripture. Please continue to pray for that encounter, and if you can at all attend, do so! Please also realize that your support of this ministry in the months between now and then is vital to the success of that encounter. The more folks who stand with us during this time the more focused I will be able to be on the task at hand.
Finally, I just had to note the blurb Chris Arnzen put out regarding his program yesterday.
SHANE JACKSON, raised in a nominal Baptist home in Northern Alabama who converted to Traditionalist Catholicism 20 years ago, pursued a career as a Catholic apologist, and then, in 2002, after reading the classic book The Roman Catholic Controversy by James White and hearing Dr. White debate well known Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers on "The Bible Answer Man" radio broadcast, returned to the Baptist Faith, this time with a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, will address the theme: "THE TESTIMONY OF A 'REVERT'".You can hear the interview with Shane here.
Shane, who has been blind since birth, is regularly involved in ministry outreach to the blind. He has also served on the staff of Solid Ground Christian Books (see www.solid-ground-books.com).
A Covenantal Apologetic
04/24/2008 - Jeff DownsThe following paper was handed in today to Dr. Anthony Curto for an introductory class in apologetics. It is a paper that appeared online in the past, that I reworked (and will continue to do so). You will notice that there is a large section misssing - application. While I was originally going to include critique of various cultic views (especially those of Mr. Stafford), I realized (because others were telling me) this is "introductory" class. Lord willing I will take what appears below and begin offering various critiques. Hopefully it will not take me until my 2nd semester apologetics class, which is not offered until Spring 2009. :) Any question or comments can be addressed to me.
In the opening chapter of Romans the apostle Paul describes the revelation of God and condition of mankind. Instead of giving praise and thanks to God (which should be the normal reaction), like Adam and Eve in the garden, mankind tries to hide from Him. As a result the wrath of God is being poured out upon mankind. The sin of hiding is childish because mankind knows Him, since God has made Himself known. Man does whatever he can to flee from this truth. This sin is also very serious; in turning from God we turn toward ourselves and creature-created things. Man does not live in this world all alone, with his beliefs and actions sealed off from individuals around him. In fact, man will deceive himself, others and will give approval for deception to be foisted upon society.
The purpose of this paper is to introduce presuppositional apologetics (perhaps better termed a covenantal apologetic), with an aim at using this approach when conversing with members of cults of Christianity. Sadly I am virtually alone in this endeavor. On the other hand, this methodology acknowledges that there is only one true God. Any other God, as Van Til would say, is no God at all.  So there are really only two-types of people: the Christian and the non-Christian, the believer and the unbeliever, covenant keeper and covenant-breaker. The type-types of people view is also clear from the words of Jesus Himself when he stated "you are either for me or against me" (Mat. 6:24; 12:30, NASB).
To begin we must recognize that God did not need to create - there was nothing lacking in God that "forced" Him to show His power. If fact, we are told of God that "He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things," that "in Him we live move and have our being," and "from Him and through Him and to Him are all things." When we are confronted with biblical passages that address who God is in Himself, we see that "he does not owe his existence to anything or anyone outside himself, nor does he need anything beyond himself to maintain his existence."  He created the heavens, the earth, and all they contain; but chose to commune in a special way with those He made in His image.
From the very beginning of inscripturated revelation we observe a creator-creature distinction. God is not only the creator of all things, He sustains all things. Nothing could exist nor continue to exist if He did not uphold it. And since we are His creatures, man has a natural dependence upon his maker. Scott Oliphint states “given that all men are in covenant relationship to God, they are bound by that relationship to ‘owe obedience unto him as their creator.’ The obligation of obedience comes by virtue of our being created – we were created as covenant beings. We are people who by nature, have an obligation to worship and serve the Creator.” Not only is the general creation serving God and speaking for God; but man, in a different and special way as His image-bearer is also to speak for God. In no less then scriptural terms this means that Adam was God’s prophet. And as a prophet of another, he is not to speak from his own heart nor put forth his own words. In fact, the very opposite was to take place. As God’s representative, Adam was to rule over creation; this included speaking forth only those things God would want man to speak.
Scripture and history clearly and early on, paint us a story of Adam and Eve attempting to do away with God (becoming autonomous). As Van Til stated it “when man fell, it was therefore an attempt to do without God in every respect. Man sought his ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty somewhere beyond God, either directly within himself of indirectly within the universe about him.” Adam became his own final reference point; and relying upon himself, he measured the universe by his own carnal stupidity. The Westminster Confession encapsulates the fall in their statement “by this sin, [Adam and Eve] fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.
According to Genesis, after the rebellion of Adam and Eve, they became aware of their nakedness; their reaction was to cover and hide, perhaps believing they could escape their maker’s judgment (Gen. 2:7-8). Adam, being the federal head of the human race, plunged all humanity into a state of spiritual (and eventual physical) deadness. From that day forward, man has sought ways to flee from God and the guilt of their sin. Instead of leaving Adam and Eve in their misery, God condescended with grace and He clothed them. But sin continued to reign in the heart of man - Cain hated Abel and killed him. While man would continue his unfaithfulness, God continues to preserve a people for Himself through the establishment various of covenants, promising final/full restoration.
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Theology Matters #3: Hidden with Christ in God
04/23/2008 - James White
An Introduction to Textual Criticism: Part 9--"Traditional Text" Positions: The Ecclesiastical Text
04/22/2008 - Colin Smith
The Ecclesiastical Text position could be considered, in essence, a variation on the Textus Receptus position described in the previous blog. However, while both agree upon the resulting textual tradition that must be appealed to as the authoritative text, the Ecclesiastical Text position arrives at that point in a very different way.
The main proponent of this position in recent times was Dr. Theodore P. Letis. Letis was a student of Dr. Edward F. Hills, also a staunch defender of the Textus Receptus, though on very different grounds from his protégé. Hills' works include The King James Version Defended! in which he argues that God has providentially preserved His Word in the Textus Receptus.
Dr. Letis' starting point was with the doctrine of verbal inspiration. He argues that the concept of an inerrant autograph was unknown to the Protestant Reformers and the later dogmaticians who wrote the great confessions of the church (e.g., the Westminster Confession of Faith). It is evident that these Protestant Dogmaticians favored a view of inspiration that placed inerrancy in the apographa, or the present, extant text, which for them would be the Textus Receptus. While early Princeton dogmaticians like Archibald Alexander could suggest that the autographs of Scripture may contain error (scribal, not doctrinal), Benjamin Warfield, a later Princetonian, adopted German text critical methodologies and introduced the concept of the inerrant autograph.
Letis suggests that Warfield's reason for turning away from the concept of an authoritative apograph was due to the fact that textual critics of the time were attempting to use the vast quantity of variants in the New Testament to undermine its authority. Instead of appealing to the voice of sixteenth and seventeenth century theologians, Warfield placed inerrancy in the non-extant autographs. This enabled him to engage the critics and perform critical analysis of the variants without assaulting the inerrant, authoritative Scriptures. However, Warfield's solution was, in Letis' view, inadequate, since it did not really address the issue of what the Scriptures originally said. And, indeed, as time progressed, those within text critical circles began to see that the pursuit of the original autograph might be in vain. For those who held to the apographa, it did not matter what the original text said, since the true and authoritative text was the one currently in the hands of the church: the Textus Receptus.
It is upon this basis that Letis builds his position. He believes that by surrendering the Sacred Text to the world for examination as if it were any other piece of literature, the church has forsaken her role as the guardian of the Holy Scriptures. In Letis' words, the Bible "has been lifted from its legitimate matrix within the bosom of the Church and has served countless students as a cadaver in the operating theatres of the world within the alien context of the Academy." The danger of this is that it desensitizes the student from appreciating the Bible as the sacred Word of God. The church alone provides the right context for the proper use of the Sacred Scriptures. The church, argues Letis, has always recognized that it is the "localized and extant edition" of the Scriptures that is the infallible Word, and it is this that should be retained at all costs.
Given that there are no two copies of the Textus Receptus that are identical, Letis acknowledges that text critical principles still need to be applied to arrive at the text to be considered as the authoritative text. Note that for Letis it is irrelevant which readings are "original," or even what the inspired author originally wrote. What Letis is trying to recover is the text that represents the last apographa--i.e., the text of the Protestant Dogmaticians: the Textus Receptus. In order to achieve this, he applies principles enunciated by Brevard Childs under the name of the "Canonical Approach."
As Letis and Childs explain it, the Canonical Approach appears relatively simple. There are two rules: first, the idea of an "original text" needs to be abandoned. Secondly, the reading that should be used is the one that became exegetically and hermeneutically sanctioned (i.e., canonized). Again, the emphasis is put upon continuous, recognized witness from the earliest church, through the Fathers, the versions, and so forth. Only texts that can demonstrate that kind of heritage can be considered a part of the Ecclesiastical Text.
In order to help the reader better grasp the way in which this approach to textual criticism works practically, Letis provides an entire chapter in his book The Ecclesiastical Text dedicated to the investigation of the notorious variant in John 1:18, monogenh.j qeo,j (monogenes theos). This is the reading as it stands in the Nestle-Aland 27th edition of the Greek New Testament. However, there are two other prominent readings: o` monogenh.j qeo,j (ho monogenes theos), and o` monogenh.j ui`o,j (ho monogenes huios). While monogenh.j qeo,j and o` monogenh.j qeo,j are both found in early Egyptian manuscripts, the latter, o` monogenh.j qeo,j, is rejected on the basis of lack of patristic and versional support. The question then becomes which of monogenh.j qeo,j and o` monogenh.j ui`o,j is the correct reading. With regard to these two, Letis notes that both can trace their readings back to an early date, but while monogenh.j qeo,j is found among very early Syriac versions, the Latin, and other versions from a variety of places, o` monogenh.j qeo,j is found primarily in the writings of Valentinian Gnostics.
Letis goes on to demonstrate how the reading monogenh.j qeo,j would lend support to Gnostic interpretations of John's Prologue, and attempts to show that Gnostic Coptic manuscripts could have had influence upon the text of the extant Greek manuscripts of John from Egypt. In the end, he concludes that while monogenh.j qeo,j certainly has the support of the earliest evidence, because this early evidence is from the hands of Valentinian Gnostics, there is good chance that they altered the text to suit their theological needs. By the time of Nicea, he believes that the church in both her Eastern and Western expressions had rejected this reading to be sure that no Gnostic or Arian interpretations could be applied to this passage. According to the Canonical Approach, therefore, o` monogenh.j ui`o,j would stand as the correct reading at this point since it is clearly the reading accepted by the church.
Proponents of other text critical positions tend to see the Ecclesiastical Text view as simply either the Textus Receptus position, or a Majority Text/Byzantine-Priority text position, hence it does not appear to get much specific attention in works addressing textual criticism. This means that those who oppose the Ecclesiastical Text position rarely address some of its specific nuances. For this reason, I would like to offer some points for consideration.
First, from the perspective of the Christian scholar, there must be agreement with Dr. Letis that the text under review is nothing other than the sacred Word of God. As such, it must deserve the respect of the critic. This fact does not necessarily change the practice of textual criticism, but it should most certainly keep the scholar focused on the goal of his work: restoring God's Word in its fullness to His people. In light of this, should the scholar be most concerned about whether the text he reads is the text that was held by the Byzantine church through to the time of the Reformation, regardless of the accuracy of that text (presumably under the impression that the Eastern church was somehow exempt from heresy and error), or whether the text is as close as can possibly be discerned to the words God originally inspired? To suggest that, for example, the earliest readings of John 1:18 resulted from the influence of Valentinian heretics is to assume that such a reading can only be understood from a Gnostic mindset. Surely the same could be said of John 1:1? It is obvious even in our own day that passages of Scripture that plainly communicate Christian truth are perverted and distorted by cults and critics to say whatever they want them to say. Isn't it perhaps just as possible that the tradition reflected in Letis' text demonstrates a reaction to potential misunderstanding based on a faulty hermeneutic? There are plenty of examples in the extant manuscripts of "conjectural emendation," where the scribe has altered the text based purely on what he thought it ought to say, since the way it reads, to his mind, could be taken the wrong way. I am not suggesting this is certainly the case with John 1:18, but I submit that this scenario is at least as likely as the one Letis put forward.
Second, the question over the search for the autographa raises the issues of inspiration, authority, and one's doctrine of the church. Did God inspire the authors of Scripture, or did God inspire the church to produce His Word? Did God invest the original versions of the various books and letters that comprise the New Testament with divine authority, or did He invest that authority in whatever version of the Greek text the church of the Reformation decided was authoritative? Outside of a fiat ruling by the church based solely on tradition, upon what basis would the church determine that this one particular text is inspired? It is simply untrue to say that the original readings are not extant, and on that basis determine that a search for them is a search in vain. Since the Lord has been gracious to preserve such a host of witnesses to the text of the New Testament, there is a wealth of evidence available, and it is among the extant evidence that scholars can find the original readings. Modern textual scholars can pick up a critical edition of the Greek New Testament and know for certain that between the text and the apparati, he is looking at the Word of God as the Lord originally inspired it. The work of the textual critic is not to look outside of the text to see which readings the church has traditionally accepted. This is, I suggest, to invest in the church the kind of authority proposed by Roman Catholicism, and is hardly the mindset of a good Protestant! The text molds the church, not the other way round. Rather, the work of the textual critic is to use all the evidence the Lord has provided, both within history and within the manuscripts themselves, to determine which of the readings best reflects the text that God originally inspired. The fact that all manuscripts agree somewhere between 80-90% of the time demonstrates that the Lord has already given a firm foundation. But to trust that even the godliest of men throughout church history have infallibly preserved the text of the New Testament is, in the opinion of this writer, optimistic to the extreme. This is not a low view of the church, but a Biblical view of man.
Part 10: "Traditional Text" Positions: Byzantine Priority--coming soon...
Bob Ross: the Danger of Becoming a Mirror Image
04/21/2008 - James WhiteUp until the day I dared to inform Bob Ross that he had gone way, way over the line in his personal attacks on John MacArthur, we were on friendly terms. But once I dared point out that accusing MacArthur of the things he was involved egregious violations of simple logic (let alone proper behavior), I began to experience the same kind of wild-eyed abuse from Ross that I had come to expect from the king of the King James Only folks, Peter Ruckman. A lot of folks today do not know Ross at one time took Ruckman on. The frightening thing is, Ross has become the mirror image of Ruckman. Or, were they always mirror images, and that is why Ross took Ruckman on? It is hard to tell.
Over the past few years Ross has been very busy burying any credibility he might have once had for having published the works of Spurgeon once upon a time. His childish behavior, falling very much in line with Riplinger and Ruckman's outlandish antics, have become common place on his blog and in his e-mail bulletins. Ironically, while he now invests most of his time attacking Reformed men (most often due to his own dogged insistence that he knows what others believe better than they do), he likewise has joined to his crusade an amazingly odd defense of...Joel Osteen.
For a while now Ross has been busily hammering away at that awesomely dangerous, always contentious fellow down in Florida...Tom Ascol. Yeah, that Tom Ascol, of the Founders Ministries. Anyone who knows Tom knows he has a heart as big as Texas and is as kind and friendly a brother as you could ever find, but ol' Bob Ross has been busily mocking and ranting about "the Flounders" for quite some time now. When you read the rants coming from Ross' keyboard, you cannot but help pray, "Oh Lord, don't let me end this way." I hope someone will have enough compassion on me when I get to my advanced years to make sure I don't throw everything I've done in the rest of my life under the bus in the way Ross has been busily burying his credibility and reputation with childish behavior and infantile rants.
Today I note that Ross decided to go back to his play book and launch a few salvos my direction. He evidently has been watching my YouTube videos going back over the Texe Marrs incident. I guess that was sufficient reason to insult me a few times for the fun of it---what his point is no one can really say (he often doesn't have one anymore), but I will gladly put my KJV book, and the work I've done in that area, up against anything Ross has produced anytime. He actually has the temerity to post nonsense like this:
(2) James does not comprehend what Ruckman means by the KJV's "correcting the Greek" and the alleged "mistakes" in the KJV being "advanced revelation." Ruckman actually means no more by this than what James himself practices on this matter, for James is one of the leading "correctors" of the Greek, promoting what would constitute "advanced revelation" over alleged mistakes in variant copies of Greek manuscripts and/or texts.Given that Bob Ross has demonstrated many times that he cannot even understand the plainest of statements on the part of those he intends to lampoon, investing him with expertise in interpreting either myself, or Ruckman, is a foolhardy action, one I surely will not take. The idea that anything I have ever said or promoted would amount to "advanced revelation" is so outrageous and absurd that one can only shake one's head at the person who would offer the suggestion.
For many years I hoped someone in Ross' circle would pull him aside and attempt to talk sense to him. Obviously, there is no one around him who can stop him from his self-inflicted credibility destruction. Back when he was slandering me about my belief in the Trinity, I inquired as to who he elders were: turns out, he is an elder in his church. It is a sad thing to observe, but there is evidently nothing to be done about it, other than to observe, correct when abject lies are told, and pray that the Lord would have mercy.
The Texe Marrs Saga: Part II
04/21/2008 - James White
A Reader's Hebrew Bible Release
04/20/2008 - Alan KurschnerZondervan has released its anticipated A Reader's Hebrew Bible, the counterpart to their New Testament Reader's Bible. I picked up my copy this past week and it is splendid. I will be replacing my BHS that I bring to church with this one since it gives glosses in the footnotes and other convenient features. Some of the most conspicuous features include:
- By eliminating the need to look up definitions, the footnotes allow the user to read the Hebrew and Aramaic text more quickly, focusing on parsing and grammatical issues.
- Complete text of the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible using the Westminster Leningrad Codex (4.4)
- Footnoted glosses of all Hebew words occuring one hundred times or less (twenty-five or less for Aramaic words)
- Stem-specific glosses for verb forms (Qal, Piel, Hiphil, and so forth)
- Glosses derived from HALOT and BDB.
- Ketib/Qere readings both noted in the text and differentiated appropriately.
- Proper names occurring one hundred times or less are printed in gray scale for immediate recognition.
And did I mention it is pretty? A handsome Italian Duo-Tone binding, and a nice large font size so you won't have to go blind reading Hebrew.
An Introduction to Textual Criticism: Part 8--"Traditional Text" Positions: Textus Receptus and Majority Text Only
04/19/2008 - Colin Smith
Textual scholars are unanimous in their agreement that textual criticism applied to the extant manuscripts is necessary if the original readings of the New Testament are ever to be fully recovered. Those who hold to the view that only the King James Version of the Bible is the normative text of the church cannot be considered among rational, textual scholars. This position posits a 17th century English version as the only infallible Word of God, and is, therefore, based more on tradition, misinformation, and conspiracy than on real scholarly textual research.
Precisely how textual criticism should be applied, particularly with regard to the types of evidence discussed previously, and which manuscripts should form the basis of the reconstructed New Testament are hotly disputed issues. There are two broad categories into which the diverging views can be placed: the "Traditional Text" views, and the "Eclectic" views. Within the Traditional Text views, there are those who hold to a Majority Text position, those who hold to the Textus Receptus, those who hold to an Ecclesiastical Text, and those who hold to Byzantine Priority. All of these essentially look to the manuscripts of the Byzantine family as the basis for the New Testament text. Their differences lie both in how they arrive at their final text, and in the reasoning behind their choice of this particular family. Within the Eclectic views, one finds those who are Thoroughgoing, and those who are Reasoned. The difference between them is in the degree to which the principles of Eclecticism are applied.
Traditional Text Positions
There are a variety of positions with regard to the Greek text behind the New Testament that can be identified by their common allegiance to the Byzantine text type. Of these positions, there are four that should be mentioned: the Textus Receptus position, the Majority Text position, the Ecclesiastical Text position, and the Byzantine-Priority position. In this article we shall examine the first two of these, leaving the others to subsequent articles.
Since the term Textus Receptus has been applied to a variety of Greek New Testament texts over the years, it could be legitimately asked, "which Textus Receptus?" For those who hold this position, the text in mind is the text of Erasmus and the Elzevirs--the text that was eventually used by the King James Bible translators. While it is of the Byzantine text family, this edition of the Textus Receptus is not representative of the entire Byzantine text type. Indeed, many advocates for other Traditional Text views distance themselves from the Textus Receptus due to its many variations from the majority of other Byzantine texts. Given that it includes Erasmus' translation of the last six verses of Revelation from Latin into Greek, and for the rest is based on a relatively small collection of manuscripts, there are some quite unique readings in the Textus Receptus that are not found elsewhere, even among other Byzantine manuscripts.
It appears that the main motivation behind promoting the Textus Receptus as the true Greek text behind the New Testament is theological. Often its supporters refer to it as the text of the Reformation, as if the integrity of the text is reliant upon the supposed use of the text by those great men of God who led the Protestant Reformation. However, Dr. James White in his book The King James Only Controversy clearly demonstrates that there is insufficient evidence that the Reformers specifically promoted the use of the Textus Receptus over and above other streams from the Byzantine family (see page 69). Hence, while this is an interesting position, it is not one that is widely held, especially among the majority of textual scholars.
As the name suggests, the basis of the Majority Text position is that the key factor for determining the original text of the New Testament should be quantity of manuscripts. Since the Byzantine text type is by far the majority report, and has been since the ninth century, it comes as no surprise that the Majority Text is a Byzantine family text.
While Dean Burgon could not strictly be classified as a Majority Text advocate, he clearly utilized similar argumentation when defending the Byzantine text against the Westcott and Hort text. He expressed amazement that out of 1,000 Greek manuscripts 995 copies of the New Testament that have been around for centuries would be considered untrustworthy, and the reliability of the text would be carried by a handful of manuscripts that were unknown to the church until relatively recently. Would the truth of the text of Scripture reside with a vast multitude of manuscripts that have a remarkable level of agreement, or with a handful of manuscripts that cannot agree with one another most of the time? Burgon was also very skeptical of the popular text critical principle that witnesses should be weighed not counted. He wondered if it is possible to weigh every codex, version, or church Father, or whether every critic is competent to perform such a task. Burgon insisted that number is a vital criterion for determining the originality of a reading. If number would make a difference in a jury vote, he argues, why not when determining the original text of the New Testament, especially when the manuscripts in question cover a broad range of geographical regions.
Modern advocates of the Majority Text position also use stemmatics, or a genealogical method of tracing a reading's textual history, to determine the antiquity of a particular text. Zane Hodges, the main proponent of this method, describes it as a method whereby "a valid stemma [has] the power to explain the descent of the readings in a natural way" (Zane Hodges and Arthur Farstad, The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text, p. xxv, quoted in Daniel Wallace, "Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text," available on-line at http://www.bible.org/docs/soapbox/89c3.htm). The higher up the stemma a reading appears, the more likely it is to be original. Also, each stemma should be demonstrably the father of multiple readings, which appear only below the stemma.
Finally, proponents of the Majority Text position are apt to view their particular line of textual transmission as the only pure and, therefore, correct line. All other lines are considered unorthodox or heretical. Arguments based on a doctrine of divine preservation are often articulated to defend the idea that God has preserved this particular stream of the text, and this is evidenced by the vast quantity that still exists to this day. See, for example, the comments by Wilbur Pickering in his book, The Identity of the New Testament Text, as quoted by Daniel Wallace, "The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?" Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (April 1991): 152-158. This paper is also available online at http://www.bible.org/docs/soapbox/91B2.htm.
Part 9: "Traditional Text" Positions: The Ecclesiastical Text--coming soon...
Yesterday on The Dividing Line
04/18/2008 - James WhiteCovered some interesting Catholic Answers clips and noted the parallel between their arguments and those of Arminians like Steve Gregg, and took some calls along the way! Here's the program (free/high quality).
Closing Statement, Sola Scriptura Debate, 1999, San Diego, CA
04/18/2008 - James White
God's Wrath Seen: WARNING! Disgust Level Very High in this Article (Multiple Update)
04/17/2008 - James WhiteWhen God for even a moment expresses His wrath by withdrawing His hand of restraint from the sinfulness of mankind, we are shocked at the results (and, in sinfulness, then blame God for allowing such a demonstration to take place). The link I am about to provide is one of the most shocking, disgusting examples of the perversion of the human soul I have ever read. Be warned, but, be aware. Here you read the story of a female "art" student at Yale who had herself impregnated repeatedly and then used abortifacient drugs to induce multiple miscarriages. Her "senior art" project includes (be warned again!) videos of the miscarriages and collections of blood from the process.
One of the surest signs of the wrath of God upon a culture is seen here. Not only do you have a person so warped, so evil, so wicked, so intent upon displaying her hatred of God and His ways through the perversion of her body, her sexuality, and the great gifts God has given to her therein, but you have a society that, while naturally shocked at such a disgusting display of wickedness, cannot bring itself to call it wicked. Such terms have been lost. Some might have the courage to call her "sick," but wicked? Evil? Never. The West has no moral foundation upon which to even classify such behavior any longer. [This is another reason why I responded so directly to Jalal Abualrub's ridiculous assertion that Christianity invaded Iraq: to call a society that can allow such barbarous behavior under the guise of "art" "Christian" is to destroy the final vestiges of meaning in language.]
This incident likewise illustrates the fact that our society has lost the element of shame. Nothing is shameful any longer. A society that cannot express outrage at evil behavior and place shame upon those who engage in such behaviors is a society that is sick unto death, and will not last long upon this earth.
The truly perverse nature of our post-Christian society is seen in another aspect of this story. It will not be this woman who is called to account, it will be anyone who dares to call her actions evil and repulsive. They will be the ones accused of hatred, bigotry, etc. This is the reaction of the society that has been "given over" by God.
I am once again reminded that I must spend more time and effort to consider how we must live in a world that hates the truth and hates those who speak it. The days of our freedom to do so are numbered. And the number is growing smaller. Quickly.
Though the above article appeared in the Yale Daily News, the following has just appeared:
New Haven, Conn. — April 17, 2008
Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art. Her art project includes visual representations, a press release and other narrative materials. She stated to three senior Yale University officials today, including two deans, that she did not impregnate herself and that she did not induce any miscarriages. The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body.
She is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art.
Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.
Let me see if I understand this: the "art" project fakes multiple pregnancies and multiple miscarriages so as to "draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding the form and function of a woman's body"? So, we have fake blood and fake birth matter? This is an "art" project? I have a feeling there will be more to this story before long. Not sure I want to follow it myself---the entire thing is so disgusting I can't imagine how anyone could even think of such behavior, let alone "fake" it.
Fox News has a more in-depth update showing the student presented her original "project" in the way depicted above, and Yale had to investigate fully to uncover the deception. Yet, despite this, her disgusting project will still be shown publicly! Unbelievable!
Friday Update: Yup, more to it. Back to the original story. Fox News again.
Christianity Today Poll Reveals Confusion and Ignorance of Post-Evangelicalism
04/17/2008 - James WhiteThe Papal visit has once again revealed just how little post-evangelicalism cares about the purity of the gospel. Here's a short discussion of a CT poll that illustrates the problem.
Quoting the Early Church Fathers
04/17/2008 - James SwanIt was a little over ten years ago that a group of Catholic apologists contributed chapters to the 600+ page book, Not By Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura [Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1997]. Patrick Madrid was responsible for the first chapter: Sola Scriptura, A Blueprint for Anarchy. I've heard Madrid is coming out with a new book on sola scriptura, so I've been re-reading this old presentation against Scripture as the only infallible and sufficient authority for the Church. Call it an exercise in compare and contrast: I'm curious to see what type of argumentation Madrid will put forth ten years later. Madrid made some bold, if not at times insulting assertions ten years back, including a section derogatorily entitled, "How Protestants Distort and Misreport the Church Fathers." Madrid states,
"A ploy being adopted by a growing number of evangelical apologists is what I call the 'hijacking' of the Church Fathers, attempting to press them into service for sola scriptura. This ploy mimics the Jehovah's witnesses and Mormons, who also attempt to defend their unorthodox teachings from behind a carefully-constructed facade of patristic quotes- quotes invariably taken out of their immediate context and without regard to the complete writings of the Fathers.
The practice of selective quoting from the Fathers- great Fathers such as Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, Augustine, and Basil of Caesarea- is spreading. In fact, often the very Protestant apologists who misuse and twist the testimony of the Fathers to fit their hermeneutic of anachronism (i.e., reading their own views such as sola scriptura and sola fide back into Scripture and the Fathers) are themselves accusing Catholics of 'misusing' or 'prooftexting' the Fathers" [Not By Scripture Alone, pp. 5-6].
At this point, Madrid includes a footnote mentioning Dr. White's use and opinion of the Church Fathers in defense of sola scriptura and how "absurd," it is, and how White manages to "dupe many." During his opening statement in his debate with Dr. White, Madrid stated that he was resisting the temptation "to bury Mr. White under a mountain of quotations from the Church Fathers, proving they did not teach sola scriptura." Madrid compared Dr. White's use of the Fathers to a kidnapper cutting and pasting words from a newspaper to make a ransom note. These are strong assertions indeed, and Madrid does appear confident he can prove his case. In Not By Scripture Alone, the first example put forth is a citation from Basil of Caesarea (that Dr. White used eighteen years ago during his debate with Madrid on sola scriptura). Madrid explains,
"Basil of Caesarea has provided Evangelical polemicists with what they think is the 'smoking gun' to deny Catholic claims and uphold sola scriptura: 'Therefore, let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the Word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth' (Epistle ad Eustathius). This, they think, means that Basil would have been comfortable with John Calvin's theology that 'All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them' (The Westminster Confession of Faith, 7). But if Basil's quote is to be of any use to the Protestant apologist, the rest of Basil's writings should be consistent and compatible with the theology expressed in this quote from the Westminster Confession. But watch what happens to Basil's alleged sola scriptura mindset when we look at other statements of his..." [Not By Scripture Alone, p. 7].
Madrid then lists two citations from Basil that appear to affirm "Tradition" as another equally authoritative source of divine revelation. For example, the first citation states:
"Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or enjoined which are preserved in the Church, some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have delivered to us in a mystery by the apostles by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force" (On the Holy Spirit, 27)."
One can see the discrepancy. Basil states that Scripture is to decide on matters, but then, according to Madrid, Basil also refers to a second source of revelation, the "mystery by the apostles by the tradition of the apostles." Madrid states, "Such talk hardly fits with the notion that Scripture is formally sufficient for all matters of Christian doctrine. Basil's appeal to an authoritative body of unwritten apostolic Tradition within the Church is frequent in his writings" [Not By Scripture Alone, p.8]. Has Madrid proved his case? Was Basil referring to an unwritten apostolic Tradition that held contents like the Assumption or Papal infallibility, passed down from the Apostles? Did Basil receive an unwritten God-inspired Tradition, passed down from the Apostles, able to infallibly decide between disputing parties?
It may shock you to read that William Webster, in his magnificent treatment defending sola scriptura stated, "It is also true that the Church fathers embraced a form of tradition that was independent of Scripture. This can be easily documented from their writings, examples being Papias, Tertullian, Epiphanius, John Chrysostom, Augustine and Basil the Great" [William Webster, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol. II (Battle Ground: Christian Resources Inc.), p. 139]. The explanation though of what Webster and Basil mean, in no way support Madrid's charges. Rather, the opposite is true: Madrid is the one misrepresenting Basil.
What Basil meant by "Tradition" is not what Madrid is trying to make it. Basil, in using the term, is describing "mysteries" of the Christian faith that were allegedly communicated in an unwritten form. These refer to liturgical rites of say, baptism or the Eucharist. In other words, Basil was not teaching two sources of infallible revelation, with "Tradition" functioning similarly to Scripture. As William Webster has pointed out, "This tradition referred primarily to ecclesiastical practices and customs and not to doctrine" [Holy Scripture Vol. 2, p.139]. Similarly, after discussing Basil and other Early Church Fathers, the great patristic scholar J.N.D. Kelly noted, "Indeed, all the instances of unwritten tradition lacking Scriptural support which the early theologians mention will be found, on examination to refer to matters of observance and practice (e.g. triple immersion in baptism; turning East for prayer) rather than of doctrine as such, although sometimes they are matters (e.g. infant baptism; prayers for the dead) in which doctrine is involved) [J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York: HarperSan Francisco, 1960), p. 47].
Explaining Basil's citations in greater detail, Georges Florovsky, an Orthodox theologian stated,
"In any case, one should not be embarrassed by the contention of St. Basil that dogmata were delivered or handed down by the Apostles, en musterio. It would be a flagrant mistranslation if we render it as 'in secret.' The only accurate rendering is: 'by the way of mysteries,' that is- under the form of rites and (liturgical) usages, or 'habits.' In fact, it is precisely what St. Basil says himself: ta pleista ton mustikon agraphos hemin empoliteuetai. [Most of the mysteries are communicated to us by an unwritten way]. The term mustika refers here, obviously to the rites of Baptism and Eucharist, which are, for St. Basil, of 'Apostolic' origin... Indeed, all instances quoted by St. Basil in this connection are of ritual or liturgical nature" [Florovsky, Georges, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View. The Collected Works, vol. 1. (Vaduz: Buchervertriebsansstalt, 1987), pp. 86-87].
Commenting on Basil's passages on authoritative tradition (On the Holy Spirit, 27), Emmanuel Amand de Mendieta stated,
"The whole passage has frequently been misinterpreted by Roman Catholic theologians, who imagine that in it they have found something to prove the Tridentine dogma of Tradition, considered as an equal and distinct source of revelation... In reality, this passage of Basil, the beginning of which is a little vague and lacking in precision, cannot be considered as confirming the Tridentine dogma that doctrinal Tradition is a second fully distinct source of divine revelation. In order to be convinced of the falsity of such an assertion, one need only take the trouble to read the whole passage. In brief, in all his homiletic, doctrinal, ascetic and monastic works, Basil refers constantly, and almost in every line, to the Bible, quoting, expounding, or illustrating it, or drawing out in detail what it teaches without departing from the traditional doctrine of the Church. He leaves us in no doubt that he regards the Bible, especially the New Testament, as the sovereign and all-sufficient moral and doctrinal standard for all Christians, and particularly for the cenobites under his charge. Basil of Caesarea thus taught me a never-forgotten lesson. [Emmanuel Amand de Mendieta, Rome and Canterbury: A Biblical and Free Catholicism, trans. Coslett Quin (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1962), pp. 140, 141, 143].
Just like a shell game, one must keep an eye on the ball. Madrid shuffled Basil around just enough so that one is left unsure of what exactly Basil held to. For instance, Madrid hasn't defined what contents make up "Tradition" for either himself or Basil, or even if they believed the same content of Tradition. But guess who does define the contents of tradition? Basil! Webster points out, "Basil's teaching primarily had to do with customs and practices such as triple immersion in baptism and turning to the East in prayer, practices of secondary importance" [Holy Scripture Vol. 2, p.144]. By not defining Tradition, Madrid misrepresents Basil, hoping no one will actually read On The Holy Spirit 27.66 and 29.71 in which Basil clearly points out what he means. Look through Madrid's chapter for the same definitional honesty put forth by Basil, you will not find it.
One last area should not be left unexplored. Madrid argues for the early Fathers holding to Tradition, implying that the early Fathers are in unity with modern-day Roman apologists. In other words, if Basil and Madrid were able to sit down together and discuss "Tradition," both should be on the same page as to what that "Tradition" is. For Basil, tradition included turning to the east in prayer. Is Madrid praying toward the east? Other early Fathers held that prayers should be directed west. In his Disputations on Holy Scripture, William Whitaker evaluates many of the traditions put forth by Basil, and concludes,
"The papists themselves retain not all these traditions of Basil's. They do not dip, but sprinkle; they do not pray standing upon the Lord's day, as Basil here determines that we ought; for if we follow Basil, we ought to pray standing on all Sundays from Easter to Pentecost. This the papists do not observe, shewing therein that Basil is not to be listened to upon that matter. For Basil contends most earnestly for this tradition, and adduces three reasons in support of the practice: 1. because Christ arose upon the Lord's day; 2. because we seek the things that are above. But we should do this always; and according to this reason, we should always pray standing: 3. because the eighth day is a symbol of the world to come; and therefore, says he, the church hath taught its nurslings to make their prayers in an erect posture, and that upon a necessary obligation. A similar decree was made in the first council of Nice, can. 20. But a different custom hath now for a long time prevailed. The papists themselves have taught us by their own example to reject such traditions. For these traditions of Basil's are either necessary, or they are not. If they be not necessary, why do they press us with the authority of Basil? For either we should not be attacked, if they be unnecessary; or they sin in not observing them, if they be necessary. Let them choose which they will" [ William Whitaker, Disputations On Holy Scripture, trans. and ed. William Fitzgerald(Cambridge: University Press, reprinted 1849),p. 593].
Well, it has been ten years since Mr. Madrid's accusations on Protestants quoting the Early Church Fathers. Maybe in the past ten years, Madrid has come across the same information presented above. Maybe his new book won't be filled with emotionally charged words like "hijacking," and poor historical analysis like his "Blueprint for Anarchy" chapter was. The object of the historical analysis on the early Fathers is not to make them Protestant or Roman Catholic, but to let them be who they were in their own place in history. We can only hope that Mr. Madrid treats Basil, if at all, with integrity in his forth-coming book.
Some Comments on the Rittenhouse/Badawi Debate in Southern California
04/16/2008 - James White
Today on The Dividing Line
04/15/2008 - James WhiteStarted off with a reminder of the upcoming debate, conference, and cruise in Ft. Lauderdale in light of Dan Wallace's debate with my future opponent, Bart Ehrman. Then I had a few things to say about the debate with Jalal Abualrub, we took a call on purgatory, and then I got to the Tim Staples "Who is James White?" Catholic Answers call. Here's the program (free/high quality).
A Quick Correction
04/15/2008 - James WhiteYesterday I posted a very brief response to comments made by Jalal Abualrub on his blog. Unfortunately, he has responded by demonstrating that once again the context and intention of those with whom he disagrees does not seem to be his first concern, and this is quite troubling. I had pointed out that I had taken the time to ask a friend in Norway to transcribe the portion of Jalal's comments that I posted. I mentioned that a number of people had commented that they simply could not understand what he was saying. I played those clips for my class last night, and due both to Jalal's accent, and the fact that the clips were recorded on a small camera without the use of a microphone, it was, at times, quite difficult to follow him. This is a statement of fact. Sadly, Jalal has chosen to interpret this as "mockery" of his accent. I cannot begin to understand how, or why, he would make such an unkind and prejudicial assumption about what is obviously a simple statement of fact, and was, in reality, made in the context of seeking to make sure his comments were clearly communicated to my audience! And he did so in the context of personally attacking, once again, Sam Shamoun. I appeal to Jalal Abualrub to drop this kind of behavior and instead invest his time in a deeper study of the position that he so confidently denies. I believe I have suggested he consider the possibility of a debate on the historical and theological validity of Surah 4:157 and the meaning of the phrase شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ. David Wood has likewise offered some useful suggestions to further the dialogue. I exhort Jalal to consider a very different approach than the one he is currently using.
An Introduction to Textual Criticism: Part 7--The Task of Textual Criticism: Weighing the Evidence
04/15/2008 - Colin Smith
When faced with the overwhelming task of evaluating the many New Testament manuscripts to determine the original reading of any passage, the textual critic must start with basic ground rules by which the various readings must be considered. These rules have developed over the last two hundred years, and are, more or less, adopted by textual scholars across the board. They take into consideration both internal factors (context and style, for example), and external factors (text type, age, and agreement with other versions or with early church fathers, for example). While textual scholars agree over the need for such canons, they differ over which canons should be use, or which carry the most weight.
There are three main factors that should be considered when assessing the external evidence for a reading. First, there is the date of the reading. This may not necessarily be the same as the date of the manuscript in which the reading is found. A manuscript might be relatively late, but contain a text that was copied from a very early manuscript. As Bruce Metzger notes, there are some late minuscule manuscripts that are now recognized as containing a text earlier than some of the later uncial texts. While the age of a reading is only one of many evidences that would contribute to its final assessment, a reading that cannot be traced back into the early days of the manuscript tradition is unlikely to be original.
We must be careful here because, as Dr. Maurice Robinson correctly points out, where there are only a few manuscripts, it makes sense that there will be fewer attestations to original readings. Hence, a lack of evidence for a reading in the earliest centuries of the manuscript tradition may simply be due to the lack of witnesses in that period of time (see Maurice Robinson's "The Case for Byzantine Priority," online paper available from http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/vol06/Robinson2001.html). However, there should be witnesses to that reading at a reasonably early date.
Second, consideration should be given to the geographical spread of the manuscripts that agree with a given reading or variant. If manuscripts from distant and diverse locations support a particular variant, that variant may have a greater claim to authenticity, since it is unlikely that these manuscripts could have been copied from one another. It is possible, however, that the manuscripts in question share a common ancestor, which would significantly diminish their claim to independent testimony.
Finally, the manuscript in question must be assessed in terms of its genealogy. Manuscripts that originate from the same source and maintain a close affinity to their sister documents need not be considered independently. The recognition of such family groupings can help the textual critic to reduce the number of manuscripts that need to be examined, and recognizing family traits in a manuscript can alert the critic to the nature of the text. Textual critics of different viewpoints may have a tendency to apply this principle according to their particular persuasions. For example, the identification of a manuscript as Byzantine might indicate to a scholar who favors Byzantine manuscripts that this is one to trust. However, that same identification might make a scholar who does not share this view of the Byzantine text family very wary of the manuscript--indeed, some might dismiss the manuscript out-of-hand on this basis alone. Naturally, this tendency should be guarded against most strongly.
Hort divided internal evidence into two main types, transcriptional and intrinsic. Transcriptional evidence pertains to the habits of scribes: things scribes were prone to do in the course of transcribing manuscripts. This would also include the kind of scribal errors discussed in a previous article, as well as more the more deliberate acts of copyists. Intrinsic evidence refers to the consideration of the author's style and the context in which he wrote: of all the possible variants, which is the author most likely to have written given his character, his style, his environment, and his background, as far as these things can be ascertained? Numerous rules have been proposed and refined over the years based on these considerations. What follows is a brief presentation of some of the more significant of these rules.
The chosen reading must be able to explain the existence of the variant readings.
There can hardly be any dispute that of all the internal principles, this one is of paramount importance. Variant readings did not appear out of nowhere; they all originated as a result of misreading, misunderstanding, or not liking the original word. The reading that can be shown to have given rise to all the variants is clearly the original reading.
Preference is given to the more difficult reading.
This principle is based on the assumption that a scribe would not normally substitute a common word for a rare word, or a clear reading for an obscure one. While this principle is usually true, and it is highly regarded amongst textual critics, it can be argued that the term "difficult" is often applied subjectively. For example, Acts 20:28 speaks of the church of God, "which He purchased through His own blood" (NASB). Many manuscripts however have "Lord" instead of "God." One might assume that "God" is the more difficult reading since this might imply that God (assuming this refers only to the Father) has blood, and that it was He and not the Son that died on the cross--the ancient heresy of patripassionism. In this instance "Lord" would be more acceptable since it implies Jesus, who certainly did shed His own blood for the church. The problem of using the principle of the most difficult reading here is that it assumes that "God" was a difficult reading for the original author. Yet, for the person who understands Trinitarian doctrine, and the way words are used by the New Testament authors as a whole, neither "God" nor "Lord" really presents any great theological difficulty. In the midst of the Christological debates of the third and fourth century, this passage may well have found itself thrust into the spotlight. Under these circumstances, the fact that this reading persisted, and that it did so in a variety of locations, would be of significance. But notice at this point that other factors are being brought to bear upon the reading (i.e., history and transmission) to test the theory. In other words, it is clear that this principle should not stand alone when used to give testimony to the veracity of a particular reading.
Maurice Robinson further qualifies this principle by recognizing that scribes often wrote nonsense, but other scribes rarely copied nonsense. Hence, a legitimate difficult reading would be copied into successive generations, but mere nonsense would not last beyond a few generations.
Preference is given to the reading that fits the style of the author.
Each New Testament author exhibits a distinctive writing style that is evident from words or phrases they seem to favor. This principle simply states that of a given number of variants, the original is most likely to be the one that fits the authors style. Those variants that use words or phrases that the author has not used either in this work, or in other extant writings, are probably not original. There is some controversy over this principle since, once again, it is open to subjectivism, and it is also reliant upon incomplete sources. For example, it is clear that Mark uses the phrase kai. euvqu,j (and immediately) very regularly; it is one of the stylistic traits of Mark's Gospel. However, this principle might appear to ignore the fact that Mark could well choose to vary his style. For some reason, he may want to deviate from using this phrase at a certain point, and it is just as possible that a later scribe changed the reading to kai. euvqu,j assuming that this should be the original reading. It can also be argued that since Mark's Gospel is the only evidence of Mark's writing style extant, it is impossible to be certain of his style. Once again, this principle should not be the sole determining factor for the originality of a reading, but it should be one of the factors that are considered.
Readings that are clear attempts at harmonization are to be rejected.
The emphasis here needs to be placed on clear. There is debate over the extent toward which scribes tended to harmonize passages. It is argued that harmonization occurred with such inconsistency that one should be careful when using this principle as a deciding factor. Some scholars may see the mere hint of a harmonization as a reason to discredit a reading. Such tendencies ought to be resisted, and only the most obvious harmonization should be rejected on the grounds of this principle.
Scribal habits must be considered when evaluating a reading.
This principle states that the textual critic needs to examine the scribe's style from the point of view of common scribal habits, such as transcriptional errors, harmonization, or expanding names out of piety. Included in this last category is the expansion of Jesus to Jesus Christ, or the Lord Jesus Christ. If the manuscript in question appears to reflect one or more of such phenomena regularly throughout the text, then it is possible that many, or all, of these readings are not original.
Part 8: "Traditional Text" Positions: Textus Receptus and Majority Text Only--coming soon...
A Brief Response to Jalal Abualrub
04/14/2008 - James WhiteAs I got into my office this morning after the events of the weekend I found that Jalal Abualrub had posted this article on his website. I have a class to teach in a few hours, so I have little time, but I wanted to comment on his claims as quickly as possible:
Mr White said last night that the Holy Spirit is within him. I challenge him to post the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, not only segments that make him look good as he already did. The Holy Spirit is about Truth, let us not disappont (sic) him, especially since the Holy Spirit is not within any human. I will post the entire debates for free, whole and entire!I believe Jalal is confusing me with David Wood, but that doesn't matter much. What I posted was from my Casio camera, taken by my good friend Beau Boyd from the front row. I do not have the video tapes of the debate to post. I do not know what is meant by "not only segments that make him look good." YouTube videos are limited, at least for us small folks, to 10 minutes and 59 seconds. I posted a quick clip, along with a transcription, before I left California (the transcription was necessary because Jalal's accent is causing a number of folks to comment that they cannot understand what he is saying). Last evening I grabbed two more sections, one of Jalal alone (is posting him speaking alone supposed to make me look good?) and one of me alone. These are meant to be nothing more than representative portions to give folks an idea of what took place, and to excite them about obtaining the video when it becomes available. I resent the insinuation on his part that there is something dishonest in posting these clips and even transcribing his own words so that people can hear what he actually said!
Next, Jalal Abualrub's published claims in his own books were refuted in my opening statements. Amazingly, in a scholarly debate, my opponent admitted he could not back up his statements, but that he would in ten days on his website! I'm sorry, but since the claims I demolished were in his own published works, why on earth would he need ten days to gather some kind of support? Didn't he have that support when he put the claims in print? The fact is that 1) he put in print his ignorance of the Greek article and the proper translation of anarthrous pre-verbal predicate nominatives; 2) he put in print his ignorance of meaningful modern Greek lexical resources and the proper translation of the term monogenes; 3) he put in print his ignorance of history relating to Constantine and the Council of Nicea (please compare his comments with my article on the subject, found here). He did this before we ever corresponded for the first time, before we ever met. I did not force him to do these things, I simply exposed them for the errors they are. I invite Jalal Abualrub to remove these errors from the next printings of his books (with appropriate footnoting).
Jalal says he will post the "encyclopedia" references he used. Wonderful. He has missed the point. The Encyclopedia Britannica is not a proper scholarly source. When you are in a debate, you cite your sources so that they can be examined. He did not do so. If he had, I would have been able to point out that, for example, many of his citations are in reference to the creedal formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, not to the biblical basis thereof. The fact is, Jalal Abualrub simply does not know what he is talking about on these matters, is very confused, and, evidently, intends to remain in his state of ignorance, for he has refused numerous attempts, not only by me, but by others, to correct his misapprehensions.
Finally, Jalal Abualrub points out that I did not promise to provide some kind of list of resources as he did. He is correct. I did not. I do not have to. I actually supported by points in appropriate scholarly fashion in the debate. I showed respect for the audience in so doing. I said in my opening statement that if my opponent wished to dispute any element of the text of the New Testament that I had cited, I had the critical editions of the Greek and Hebrew texts sitting on my desk. If he wishes to dispute the translations I provided, then his time to do so was Saturday evening during the debate. That's what scholarly debates are about. I brought my scholarship. I leave it to the viewer to decide if Jalal brought his.
Finally, I found this statement odd: "Next time, the topics will not be as general. Next time, I will have a bigger say what the topic and format is." I was not involved in setting up these debates. I would rather have cross examination myself, for example. But I was invited to participate in this debate only after problems developed in it. This came out frequently during Jalal's presentation, primarily in the debate with me, where he would make reference to "the man I was supposed to debate." Well, that man was Sam Shamoun. [It was hard not to chuckle, to be honest, each time he decided to go off after Sam instead of responding to the mountain of unrefuted facts I had presented in my opening statement, not only because it was painfully obvious he could not address my presentation in any meaningful fashion, but because Sam was sitting less than 60 feet from Jalal the entire time.] There would have been plenty of opportunity for Jalal Abualrub to narrow the focus, had he chosen to do so. I have no idea why "Was Muhammad a Prophet?" or "Does the Bible Teach the Deity of Christ?" are too broad.
I am happy Jalal believes things went well. At least, I assume that is what "I think that I can benefit Islam some more through more debates" means. I would be happy to debate Jalal Abualrub on Surah 4:157 and the Qur'an's denial of the crucifixion. I would really enjoy challenging his rather, shall I say, "extended" translation, or interpretation, of the Arabic phrase شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ. I just hope that in any future debates, he brings his evidence with him in the first place, rather than referring the audience to his website ten days in the future.
The Texe Marrs Saga: Part I
04/14/2008 - James WhiteSorry, this particular opening clip was recorded with a new camera before I got the settings correct.
A Portion of My First Rebuttal Period in the Debate with Jalal Abualrub
04/13/2008 - James White
A Brief Example of the Argumentation of Jalal Abualrub Against the Deity of Christ
04/13/2008 - James White
"We Are Angry" Muslims Angry Over Central Christian Belief
04/13/2008 - James WhiteIn the video posted below you will hear Jalal Abualrub say the following:
You remember my point, he said that Christians don't consider Jesus the Father. Where then he does not know the last our, because he's not divine. Oh, but he is in complete harmony with the Father. Really? One then died. And the Holy Ghost and the God had no idea what was going on - one of them died! No, the one who died is an addition, not the subtraction. Come on people! Offer the creed the same way Abraham gave it to his people. Did he ever say anything like this? We're angry. I was insulted twice here. The stuff my opponent said about Mohammed (peace be upon him in arabic). Taking stuff out of context and put in [inaudible] fabricate afterwards. And secondly, calling a son to God is the greatest offense to us muslims. So don't think you can come here and act you're angry, because we are angry. Because Allah doesn't have a son. He told you so. Jesus never said I am Lord, I am divine, I am the God, the Creator, worship Me as you worship God, the Holy Ghost is God. Adam didn't say, Abraham didn't say, Noah didn't say. They must have known another god than the one you know. I ask Allah to open your hearts and mind. Because Jesus said it in so many ways that he is not God. You just want to stick it to him no matter what. [Allahu akhbar a couple of times from the crowd]What I hope you will note is his statement that the Muslims are "angry" over...what? A belief preached and taught by centuries of Christians before Muhammad ever preached a word! This is a wonderful illustration of my assertion that Islam's own self-identification in such passages as Surah 112 involves the denial of Christian truths. Islam cannot define itself without attacking the Christian faith. It has always been this way.
I might add that later in the debate Jalal Abualrub said that it was Christianity that invaded Iraq. I replied by stating that as long as people think that way, there is no possibility of peace in our world. It is simply ridiculous to say Christianity invaded Iraq in the form of coalition forces.
[Thanks to Ragnar in Norway for the quick transcription of Jalal Abualrub's remarks cited above].
Jalal Abualrub vs. James White, Fullerton, CA
04/13/2008 - James WhiteA quick post-debate clip from ye olde Casio Audience Cam...an interesting segment from the rebuttal periods. A tremendous day! David Wood did a great job, and all of the Muslims in attendance heard a clear and compelling presentation of the Christian faith, to be sure. More when I get a chance.
An Introduction to Textual Criticism: Part 6--The Challenge to the Received Text
04/12/2008 - Colin SmithConstantin von Tischendorf was an industrious and prolific textual scholar. He expended much energy hunting out manuscripts, publishing more than any other scholar had before him, along with a number of editions of the Greek New Testament. His total number of publications exceeds 150, most of which relate to Biblical criticism. Tischendorf's life's ambition was to seek out the earliest Biblical manuscripts available, and with them reconstruct the original text of the New Testament--something he regarded as a sacred task. Between the first and second editions of his New Testament text, while visiting the monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai, he noticed some parchment leaves in a wastebasket. When he examined them he recognized the text as coming from the Greek Septuagint written in an early uncial script. According to Tischendorf, these parchment leaves were to be used for lighting the monastery oven, though, as Dr. Daniel Wallace has suggested, this might just be Tischendorf's embellishment to make himself sound more of a rescuer than a thief. Tischendorf warned the monks that the parchment was too valuable to use for kindling, a warning he was to regret issuing when he returned a few years later to find the monks cautious and unwilling to disclose anything further about their manuscripts. When Tischendorf made a third visit to the monastery in 1859, he presented the steward with a copy of the Septuagint he had recently published. The steward remarked that they had something similar and brought him a manuscript covered in a red cloth. When Tischendorf examined the manuscript, he discovered it to be that manuscript he had been longing to see all this time. It contained most of the Old Testament, the entirety of the New Testament, and a couple of other early Christian writings previously known only either in a different language or by title. He spent the entire night examining it, and eventually, after much negotiation and diplomacy, managed to procure the codex for the Czar of Russia. After the Russian revolutions, the codex was sold to the British government and it resides to this day in the British Library. This codex, named Sinaiticus after the place where Tischendorf found it, was dated to the fourth century making it the earliest complete New Testament extant today.
Early manuscript finds like this led to the publication of Greek New Testaments by people such as Lachmann and Tregelles that were not dependent at all upon the Textus Receptus, but drew their evidence directly from these earlier manuscripts. In 1881, an edition of the Greek New Testament appeared that was, by far, the most significant edition of the Greek New Testament to date: The New Testament in the Original Greek, by Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort. Unlike their predecessors in the field, Westcott and Hort did not collate manuscripts for this text. They used existing manuscripts, but refined their predecessors' critical methodology. The most significant contribution, and the one that was to have the most lasting effect was that Westcott and Hort gave scholarly, critical reasons for considering the so-called "Syrian" text (the text behind the Textus Receptus) a late and untrustworthy text. This position (and many of their arguments) has carried forward to this day, such that this is now the position of the majority of textual scholars. They also refined the identification of text types.
Griesbach had, at the end of the eighteenth century, divided the various New Testament manuscripts into five or six groups based on his study of the transmission of the New Testament text. He eventually reduced these groups to three, and named them according to what he believed to be their region of origin: Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine. Inasmuch as the manuscript in question contained readings similar to others in one of these groups, it was assigned to that group. Westcott and Hort broadly agreed with Griesbach's identifications except that they re-named the Byzantine group the "Syrian" text. They believed that the textual evidence demonstrated the Syrian text to be the latest of the text types, containing what they called a mixed text. That is, the text often contained readings of other types conflated together to produce a smooth text. They considered this to be evidence of the work of a later editorial hand (or hands) on the text, sometime around the fourth century. In light of this, they were convinced that there were no Byzantine manuscripts prior to the fourth century, and the textual evidence at that time supported this claim. They dismissed the Syrian text as more fitted for cursory perusal or recitation than for repeated and diligent study.
Along with the Syrian text, Westcott and Hort recognized the Western text, which, while an ancient and popular form of text, was characterized by paraphrase and a dangerous fondness for assimilating similar passages to destroy any meaningful differences between them. They also identified the Alexandrian text, which they considered to be one that is polished in style and more precise in syntax--hallmarks of revision to the text. Despite this, the Alexandrian text was thought to be early and an important witness to the original manuscripts.
The best text type, according to Westcott and Hort, was by far what they called the Neutral text. This text was the most free from later stylization, harmonization, or any other kind of editorial corruption. Hence, this text type is, by their estimation, the closest to the original text of the New Testament. For Westcott and Hort, Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph) and Codex Vaticanus (B) are the best representatives of this text type; every reading of these codices was to be given weight and none rejected lightly. When Aleph and B agree on a reading, especially when they agree against the other text types, unless there is very strong internal evidence to suggest otherwise, Westcott and Hort said that reading must be accepted as original.
While Westcott and Hort contributed greatly to turning the tide of opinion against the Textus Receptus, the Textus Receptus was not without its defenders. Among those defenders, the most notable of this time was probably John William Burgon, Dean of Chichester. Metzger characterizes Burgon as a leading champion of lost causes and impossible beliefs, but it is wrong to dismiss Burgon lightly. He was certainly a scholar of the New Testament text and, unlike many who would take his position today, had a lot of first-hand experience examining the manuscripts in question. Burgon was not so much an advocate of the Textus Receptus as he was a critic of Westcott and Hort and a defender of the much-maligned Syrian text type. Contrary to Westcott and Hort, he considered this text type to be the "traditional" text and was not prepared to let Westcott and Hort cast aspersions on the text which, as he believed, was the text used by the church from the beginning, without a fight.
Burgon is often criticized for the belligerent nature of his argumentation, however one must bear in mind that he believed he was fighting, against growing popular opinion in favor of his opponents, for the preservation of the Word of God. The character of a man's scholarship and the weight of his arguments should not be lightly dismissed because of the emotive way in which he may feel obliged on occasion to express them. Besides, Burgon's work is not as full of this kind of pugnaciousness as some portray, and it is not nearly as vitriolic as some of his modern-day followers. There is a scholarship to his work that demands respect and attention, even by those who disagree with him most strongly. Along with Burgon opposing Westcott and Hort were F. H. A. Scrivener, who also rejected their dismissal of the Syrian text, and George Salmon, who believed that more consideration should be given to the Western text type.
Westcott and Hort's "Neutral" text was absorbed into the Alexandrian text by later scholars, and their Syrian text became more commonly referred to as the Byzantine text. Aside from this, their approach was largely adopted by the scholarly community, and the vast majority of Greek New Testaments published since their time have been based on their work. Their attitude towards Aleph and B has been modified by later scholars to account for the numerous significant finds of early New Testament manuscripts. Aleph and B still have pride of place, but their readings are not always so readily accepted in the face of earlier and better readings now available. As will be noted later, the hallmark of the position taken by most modern textual scholars is not one that holds to a couple of manuscripts regardless of the evidence, but rather one that is constantly informed by the facts of the evidence, and does not allow tradition and theological speculation to cloud the task at hand: the recovery of the original text of the New Testament.
Part 7: The Task of Textual Criticism: Weighing the Evidence--coming soon...
Boston College Papacy Debate: Scott Butler Attempts to Respond, Ends Up Melting Down
04/11/2008 - James White
Debate Wrap Up
04/10/2008 - James WhitePretty much covered the Calvinism debate today with callers, going over a wide variety of background issues. For those who listened to the debate, a useful wrap-up. Here's the program (free/high quality).
Steve Gregg vs. James White Debate: Finale, Part 5, Cross-Ex
04/09/2008 - James WhiteA far cry from yesterday---despite the flaming ad-hominems to be found on Steve Gregg's forums, the use of rules made today's encounter quite useful. Here's the program (free/high quality).
A Quiz on Christianity: Final
04/09/2008 - James White
04/08/2008 - James WhiteMr. Gregg continues to dwell at his keyboard this evening. He writes,
Dr. White, at the end of the third debate Monday, in the process of trying to bolster his assertion that Acts 13:48 teaches Calvinism, made two significant errors (which I had considered calling him on, but I didn't want to be nit-picky). First, he misquoted the line from Acts 13:48 as "as many as were appointed to faith" (instead of "appointed to eternal life"), and second, he misquoted Philippians 1:29, reading the word "appointed" in place of "granted." Talk about eisegesis!I have not taken the time to go back and listen to the recordings. Why should I? Steve Gregg hasn't even bothered to take the time to seriously interact with the hours of response I offered to his own recordings last year! Of course, in those instances, I played extensive amounts of his own words and then interacted with them, but that is hardly relevant now, is it? It is not like I have written entire books on this topic where I have addressed Acts 13:48 and Philippians 1:29 and have done so without misquoting them (or promoting false translations of them). But why should anyone worry about published works? Irrelevant! Point out when someone paraphrases a verse while they are rushing to finish comments within a short time frame on a radio program! That's far more relevant to the issues than any published commentary ever could be, right? He goes on,
Now I felt it would be uncharitable to jump on these mistakes, because I did not wish to embarrass him. If it were coming from a person of less familiarity with the material, I would think nothing of the mistake. But Dr. White has no doubt quoted these verses more often than he can count, which makes the error seem somewhat more inexcusable.
The word "granted," in Phil.1:29, is not the same word as tasso ("appointed" in Acts 13:48). It is the word charizomai, which is well translated as "grant." It is to show a favor or kindness.Of course, I never said they were the same terms, and anyone reading The Potter's Freedom would see that I gave the proper terms. But something else I pointed out in TPF was this:
Here Paul speaks of two things that have been granted to Christians. The term granted is the Greek term ἐχαρίσθη from the term charizomai, "to give as a gift." And what has been "granted" to believers? The eye seems drawn to the final phrase, "to suffer for His sake." This is what seems to take up the mind when reading the passage. It has been granted as a gift to suffer for Christ! What a strange thought for many today who have not experienced persecution and suffering, but it surely was not to those to whom Paul was writing. But just as suffering is not something brought about by our "free will," neither is the first thing granted to us: to believe in Christ. This is the normal term used for saving faith (πιστεύειν). God has granted to us to believe in Christ. Why would this be if, as we are told, anyone can πιστεύειν, can believe?Mr. Gregg continues,
To the Calvinist, the idea is taken from this verse that faith is simply a gift. This is an important concept to them, because they intend by it that no man can believe unless given a special gift of faith at regeneration. It is an important concept, and, if true, would be good to have stated in unambiguous terms in scripture (not in merely the standard ambiguous text, like Eph.2:8-9).I am noticing more and more that for Mr. Gregg and his cadre of followers, difficult texts are automatically "ambiguous." They are very quick to point out what a text doesn't say, but oh so very slow to give us much direct insight into what it does say. So we end up with the repeated Greggian phraseology, "That might be what it means, but we just don't know." We don't know if God knows the future. We don't know if God has a decree. We don't know...a lot of stuff! Maybe this is some more "epistemic humility," or, it might just be a lot of confusion. It is hard to say. In any case, which part of "to grant as a gift" in Philippians 1:29 is "ambiguous"? Well, there doesn't seem to be anything in Scripture that cannot become "ambiguous":
The most serviceable text, outside of Eph.2:8-9 to establish this "faith is a gift" claim is Philippians 1:29. But does the word "grant" carry this much doctrinal baggage? Of course, we can speak of a gift as something "granted"—but we can also speak of the granting of a favor or a privilege.Just as the discussion of Paul's willingness to be accursed in the place of his brethren according to the flesh in Romans 9 can be "ambiguized" into a discussion of the blessings of the lineage (though we never did figure out how Pharaoh fit in there), or the direct objects of finite verbs in Ephesians 1 can be "ambiguized" away, so too the infinitival form of "believe," along with charizomai, "to give as a gift" can be massaged and run through the Ambiguizer 3000 to come out to something much less than faith as a gift of God: instead, it's just the privilege of believing, you see. Gregg goes on:
In my opinion, Paul is saying that the Philippians have not only been granted the privilege of believing the gospel, but of enduring the suffering that comes with it. Both, believing and suffering for Christ, are privileges.
I certainly would agree with that statement, and have never found it to challenge anything I have ever believed. Not all people have had the privilege of hearing the gospel. "Faith comes by hearing," but hearing is a privilege some have experienced and others have not. God had directly decreed that the Philippians would have this privilege of hearing, because, when Paul and his companions, on their second missionary journey, were casting about for some indication of God's will for their itinerary, one of them had a dream telling them to go to Macedonia, of which Philippi was the foremost city, and the first city where they ministered (Acts 16:6-12).Please note carefully the methodology here. There is everything true in recognizing that God had granted the Philippians the privilege of believing, but is that what Paul actually stated in the inspired text? And I might add in passing, given Gregg has stated that Paul could have resisted God's drawing of him, I truly wonder upon what basis Mr. Gregg can even speak of God directly "decreeing" this, unless, as I would have to guess, that decree did not actually mean anything would happen as a result. It is still difficult to know how Mr. Gregg's theology actually functions. But in any case, as is consistent with his methodology, Mr. Gregg confuses the offering of commentary with exegesis. What does the above have to do with the fact that Paul said it had been granted to them to believe and to suffer? Consider the context again:
It is clear that, had Paul's team taken one of their other planned routes, the Philippians might not have heard the gospel for another generation. God specifically granted these readers the privilege of becoming believers, by sending the gospel to them.
Phil. 1:27-28 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by [your] opponents-- which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that [too], from God.Now, I can see why God's sovereignty would be a foundation upon which to call the believers to conduct worthy of the gospel so as to stand firm in the face of their opponents. I can see why a Christian who has been called by God's sovereign grace to fulfill God's purpose in his or her life would stand firm in the face of opposition and would see their steadfastness as a sign of their salvation, and of the destruction of God's enemies. And I can see why Paul would speak of this as coming "from God." All of this makes perfect sense, and does not require us to for a moment to fiddle with the translation of the text. God granted them faith ("to believe"), and the same God who granted them faith grants to them as a gift that they should suffer for Christ's sake, just as the apostle. A wonderful text indeed! But I finish with Mr. Gregg's comments,
There is another aspect to this that Paul may also intend. One of the Philippian Christians, Lyddia, had been of the faithful Jewish remnant, and was among the first converts there. We are specifically told that God opened her heart to heed what Paul preached (Acts 16:14). No doubt other of the faithful Jews and God-fearers in that town had the same experience of God opening their hearts. For those, like Lyddia, who were looking for the Messiah, having Paul come to her town was indeed a great favor from God—in view of how many similar faithful Jews there must have been in many of the towns that Paul never visited.I only point out that even though Lydia was a God-fearer, God still had to open her heart so that she could respond to the things Paul was saying. And while again, all of this is true, none of it militates for a moment against what I said: saving faith is the gift of God, granted, given, to the elect of God. Without the Spirit of God, there is no saving faith. The point is established.
In the same thread, however, was a post that really got me going. If there is one thing I can say for the large majority of the folks I have seen posting on this topic, it is this: context means nothing to them, either in biblical exegesis, or in their criticisms of yours truly. Someone using the nick CThomas decided to demonstrate once again that the production of meaningful parallels seems difficult these days. He posted the first few moments of my cross-examination of Tim Staples from Fullerton in 2000 on Papal Infallibility. Since I went after Staples and managed, by one count, to get in 40 some odd questions, CThomas decides this makes me a hypocrite for objecting to the way Steve Gregg tried to address Romans 1 and the depravity of man. Once again, lets compare contexts.
First, Mr. Gregg claims to be my fellow Christian. Mr. Staples is an apostate, a convert to Rome.
Second, there was a scheduled period of cross-examination in the debate, and a specific format intended for it, as a part of the rules of the debate with Mr. Staples. Unfortunately, there was no such agreed upon format with Mr. Gregg.
Thirdly, this was a simulcast radio program/webcast where sound issues, connection issues, etc., join with an inability to see the other person, requiring significantly different parameters for interaction (if the audience is going to be taken into consideration).
Thirdly, Mr. Staples had just finished his period of "questioning" me, and had violated every agreement he had made at the beginning of the debate. He had taken the first few minutes to make a statement, without asking a single question. He had only managed about four questions in 12 minutes, meaning he had spent his time arguing and making statements rather than asking questions. So by the time we got to my time, I was significantly less than pleased. So I decided it would be good to have a lesson in cross-ex, and that is what I provided to him. It may have been the longest 12 minutes of his life, and I note, St. Joseph's Communications does not make that debate available.
Now, Steve Gregg said he wanted to start having some interaction. I was provided no specifics, but, I signaled Rich to keep the microphone open (we had been closing it during his portions). Nothing happened for quite some time, and when we finally did start interacting, it became quite clear that he intended to use the "I will ask a complex question, say it isn't, cut him off after a short period of time, and continue on with another question that is predicated upon whatever answer I want to attribute to him" routine. Ironically, my very first response to him he ended up confirming (i.e., Romans 1 cannot be separated out from 2 & 3, and together they proclaim the apostle's case for universal sinfulness). So I honestly do not to this point know what his objections actually were. That's part of the problem of talking over folks. The sound quality, given that Steve Gregg, as far as we can tell, is not actually at a radio studio, is marginal on our end already; if you start talking over someone, you can't even tell, in my headphones anyway, if the other person is still talking, or has stopped talking; and you surely struggle to follow what is being said. So, if you care about the audience, you just can't keep talking over each other. It did not take long for me to conclude that Mr. Gregg was going to ask a question, give me a brief time to start a response, and then cut me off (perhaps thinking his connection to the studio would trump mine, possibly?), and so I objected to the methodology. If Mr. Gregg seriously wishes to try to convince the audience that this means I was unwilling to answer serious questions, well, I can only point to decades of putting myself "out there" in far more difficult contexts---and in a much wider context than Steve Gregg has---as more than sufficient refutation of such a cavil.
So I say to CThomas, your attempted parallel is as fallacious as the attempted parallel between the mistranslation of Acts 13:48 and the contextual interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:4. Think about it.
Steve Gregg's Apology
04/08/2008 - James WhiteThe following has been posted by Mr. Gregg:
"I feel a need to apologize for Dr. White's behavior, because I am the one who brought him to our airwaves. I am hoping that, by tomorrow, he will have had time to consider what he did today, and how negatively it reflected on his position-and how it would make any thinking skeptic in our audience evaluate the intellectual honesty of Christian apologists."Mr. Gregg, I have no interest in your apologizing for me. I will not apologize for refusing to mud-wrestle with you on our respective programs. The fact is, sir, you are wrong in your presentation on Acts 13:48; I demonstrated this, and you had no answer. When I then asked you further difficult questions, you decided to engage in one of the oldest, and, I must admit, lamest, tricks in the book: the "it is just a yes or no question but I will fill it with a ton of assumptions that will require any honest man to untangle them before answering but I will preclude you from doing that so that I can get cheap debating points" trick. There is nothing new to it, and I would have actually enjoyed taking a non-believer apart who tried such a tactic in another context. But you have the advantage here: I have to consider you a fellow believer, and hence, expect of you certain standards of behavior. I am not under that constraint when debating enemies of the faith, and while I refuse to use that kind of cheap debating trick even then (a fact I can document with many examples), the fact is I refuse to drag an "intra-mural" discussion that is ostensibly on the very text of sacred scripture down to that level. Cross-ex is fine, and as I have noted, if you wish to frame your questions in about sixty seconds, give me two minutes to respond, and then you have sixty seconds to comment back, that may preclude the talking-over/interruption tactic you introduced into our conversation today.
But let me make it very clear: if you think you have impressed a serious skeptic in the audience through such sophomoric behavior as the "yes/no---do it quick or I will blow!" technique, I think this is just another indication of how far apart we are on many issues, including the very foundations upon which we seek to make proclamations to such "skeptics." I would suggest that your theology forces you to be concerned about pleasing the skeptic, for you need his cooperation to bring about his salvation. I am thankful that Jesus taught otherwise. As I noted in closing today:
John 8:43, 45-47 43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. ... 45 "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 "Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."I am so thankful I believe the Lord Jesus is powerful. He is able to subdue the rebel heart: He does not have to work out a compromise peace settlement. He will reign amongst His people without question and without partner.
I will not seek to apologize for your behavior, Mr. Gregg. I could point out that you have left many questions unanswered, questions that one might be tempted to conclude that you cannot answer. But that is between you and the Lord, you and those who look to you for teaching. But let me make it clear: I reject your "apology" for me. I do not apologize for refusing to sully the vitally important topic of man's sinfulness by turning it into a food fight. I would call you to a higher plane, sir.
A Timely Addition
04/08/2008 - James WhiteOne of our channel regulars, Lane, has put all of my PRBC Sunday School lessons on the "Common Objections to Reformed Theology" together in one place and in one accessible format. Given the constant attacks upon the freedom of God in salvation in our day, I hope some will find these useful and encouraging. Thanks to Lane for putting them together.
Day Four of the Steve Gregg vs. James White Debate
04/08/2008 - James WhiteI was, of course, very disappointed with the second half of today's program. I don't know if Mr. Gregg just became upset at the refutation of his errors on Acts 13:48 or if this was planned, but he decided to do the "This is a yes/no question---please ignore all the presuppositions and assumptions I will load into this, and answer in ten seconds and then let me add a snide remark at the end of each before moving on"---routine, which, given the gravity of the topic and the context (two professing Christians), I felt was utterly reprehensible. I will not engage in on-air food fights with folks who want to talk over me--that is not an appropriate behavior for the topic at hand, and it does not edify the listeners, who can't figure out who is saying what anyway. If Mr. Gregg wishes to seek to overthrow the testimony of Scripture to the universal sinfulness of man, let him make his case. I will respond. But I believe there are standards for those who profess to be Christians. It is one thing for a Muslim, or a Mormon, or an atheist, to behave in certain ways, but Mr. Gregg professes faith, and therefore must be held to a higher standard.
In any case, I have written to Mr. Gregg and Pastor Spurlock and included the following suggestion for the final day:
We utilize the question/answer format we use in debates where we cannot trust one or both of the participants to behave: that is, the person asking has one minute to ask a question.The person who is asked the question has two minutes to respond; the questioner then gets one minute to respond to the response. This can be done for a certain block of time, say 12 minutes (encompassing three questions by the same person), or back and forth.I believe this will allow for controlled interaction while either precluding, or making obvious, the use of disingenuous tactics. Here's the program (free/high quality).
One other note: Mr. Gregg posted this in his forum: "I almost choked when he came on afterward and said that he would never stoop to such a tactic as asking me big questions demanding a yes or no answer (like "Does Jesus intercede for the non-elect?"). I really had believed the man would participate in honest dialogue. I am saddened." I have noted that Mr. Gregg struggles to see or present meaningful comparisons and parallels. For example, he mistakenly suggested that my pointing out his promotion of a translation of Acts 13:48 found in only one committee-translated English version of the Bible (the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation) is parallel to my pointing out that 1 Timothy 2:4 defines "all men" as all groups of men by contextual indicators before and after the text. There is no logical or rational parallel between the two: I am not suggesting a meaning for "all" that is not found anywhere else in the NT, while he is presenting a meaning for the periphrastic construction in Acts 13:48 that is completely unique. The same thing appears here: I asked a direct and relevant question (which Mr. Gregg has yet to respond to), "Does Jesus intercede for the non-elect?" I did not ask it like Gregg was asking his questions, "Does Jesus intercede for the non-elect, yes or no, and you will have less than 15 seconds to answer or I will accuse you of taking too much time and hogging the conversation." As long as Mr. Gregg refuses to recognize the problems in his argumentation, little positive will come from attempting to dialogue with him. This will not stop him, however, from questioning my honesty, and, it seems, the users of his forum to question my spiritual state as well ("It is obvious that he is held under the power of another and will not be able to refuse that power.")
If You Want to be Ready for Today's Debate
04/08/2008 - James WhiteMy last comments in the Steve Gregg debate were on Acts 13:48. So, Steve will be replying at the start of today's program. Last year I addressed this issue fully, providing a lengthy exegesis of the text, examination of the relevant terms, etc. So if you want to be up to full speed even before the program begins, listen to this.
An Introduction to Textual Criticism: Part 5--The Received Text
04/08/2008 - Colin SmithThe first official (i.e., sanctioned by the Pope) printed Greek New Testament appeared as part of the Complutensian Polyglot, a multi-lingual, multi-volume work. Although it was planned as early as 1502, was complete by 1517, and received Papal sanction by 1520, it was not published until 1522. While the Polyglot was in the process of being finished and sanctioned, a Roman Catholic Dutch humanist scholar, Desiderius Erasmus, who, possibly with the encouragement of his publisher Johann Froben, produced an unofficial edition of the Greek New Testament in 1516. Erasmus' work was fraught with problems. It is possible that Froben knew of the impending publication of the Polyglot and hurried Erasmus to finish his work to beat it to publication. As a result, the work contained many typographical errors. If this were not enough, Erasmus was unable to locate any single complete New Testament manuscript upon which to base his text; hence he had to compile his text from several manuscripts. All of his manuscripts were relatively late (from the tenth to the twelfth century), and the only manuscript he had of Revelation was missing its last page, leaving him no alternative than to translate these six verses from Latin into Greek. Given the fact that study of Greek was still relatively new in the West, and that Erasmus had no other text to work from, it is not surprising that this bold move generated a number of words that are unknown in any other Greek text, let alone New Testament manuscript.
Erasmus published five editions of his Greek New Testament, the second of which was used by Martin Luther for his German translation. For the fourth edition, in recognition of the superior text contained in the Complutensian Polyglot (which had been published by that time), Erasmus made corrections in about ninety passages.
Although Erasmus' text was flawed, the fact that it was the first on the market, and that it was relatively inexpensive, secured its position as the text of the Greek New Testament for hundreds of years. While other editions followed at the hands of able scholars (Robert Estienne (Stephanus), Theodore Beza, and the Elzevir brothers who coined the term "Textus Receptus," or the "Received Text," as part of their marketing literature), they all to some extent reproduced the work of Erasmus. Indeed, to this day, when people refer to the Textus Receptus, or the "Received Text," they are invariably referring to Erasmus' work.
From the time of Stephanus' edition (1550) until 1881, Erasmus' text was refined and corrected according to manuscript finds from museums and libraries, quotations from the Early Church Fathers, and different language versions as they were available. Scholars also began the practice of making note of places where the published text varies from other manuscripts. Over time, these footnotes containing variant readings would evolve into elaborate apparati by which the armchair textual critic could evaluate the chosen readings for himself without having to examine hundreds of manuscripts. Modern editions of the Greek New Testament (such as the Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Societies texts) contain such apparati at the bottom of each page of text.
While the majority of the manuscripts in use up to 1881 were late miniscules, there were some notable codices available to scholars of the day. Theodore Beza had in his collection what has come to be known as Codex Bezae, a fifth century codex of which there are 415 pages extant containing the Gospels, Acts, and the Catholic Epistles in Greek along with a Latin translation. Also in Beza's possession was Codex Clarmontanus, of which 533 pages are extant. This is a sixth century codex containing the Pauline Epistles. While the value of these manuscripts is a matter of controversy today, they were probably superior to many others that were available to Beza. However, he chose not to make much use of them since they deviated too much from the standard text of the time. A reference to a manuscript made available by the Pope to the editors of the Complutensian Polyglot suggests that the famous (or infamous, depending on one's perspective) Codex Vaticanus was also known at that time.
During this period, some brave scholars actually departed from the Textus Receptus in their editions of the Greek New Testament. With an increase in manuscript discoveries, texts came to light from earlier periods that gave some scholars reason to question some of the previously accepted readings. These scholars were certainly a minority, and it took two events at the end of the nineteenth century to finally break the dominance of the Textus Receptus: the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus, and the publication of Westcott and Hort's Greek New Testament.
Part 6: The Challenge to the Received Text--coming soon...
Day 3 of the Steve Gregg vs. James White Debate
04/07/2008 - James WhiteHere's the program (free/high quality).
The NIV and the Titanic: What You Never Knew!
04/07/2008 - James White
Catholic Answers and Veronica's Station of the Cross
04/06/2008 - James Swan
"Originating in the Middle Ages and promoted by the Franciscans, the Stations of the Cross is a devotion to the passion of Christ from the moment of his condemnation by Pilate to his burial. Churches place fourteen images, representing scenes from the passion, spaced out on walls in such a way that a person walks from one to the other until meditations and prayers are completed" [Alfred McBride, O. Praem, Catholic Beliefs From A to Z (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 2001) p.159].
Recently John Martignoni appeared on Catholic Answers Live to answer questions on "Scriptural Apologetics." John is "dedicated to explaining and defending the Scriptural foundations of the Catholic faith." The show began with a lengthy discussion on the Stations of the Cross. This intrigued me, considering the practice appears late in church history, thus it is not a Biblical tradition. It appears to be based on a tradition that Mary daily walked the Via Dolorosa. At each place of importance, Mary knelt and prayed. Martignoni tried to present some sort of "scriptural foundation" to solidify each station, but one in particular has absolutely no explicit or implicit Biblical proof that can even romotely be mustered up for the cause of Rome: Station six- Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. Don't bother pulling out your Bible concordance and looking up "Veronica," she isn't there. The Catholic Encyclopedia offers this information on her:
"In several regions of Christendom there is honored under this name a pious matron of Jerusalem who, during the Passion of Christ, as one of the holy women who accompanied Him to Calvary, offered Him a towel on which he left the imprint of His face. She went to Rome, bringing with her this image of Christ, which was long exposed to public veneration" [source].
Before one begins to suspect the historical possibility of Veronica and this story, the Encyclopedia then notes that early relics like the towel described above were called "vera icon (true image), which ordinary language soon made veronica...By degrees, popular imagination mistook this word for the name of a person and attached thereto several legends which vary according to the country." The Catholic Encyclopedia then lists many of these several legends. This though does not deter the Encyclopedia from concluding:
"These pious traditions cannot be documented, but there is no reason why the belief that such an act of compassion did occur should not find expression in the veneration paid to one called Veronica, even though the name has found no place in the Hieronymian Martyrology or the oldest historical Martyrologies, and St. Charles Borromeo excluded the Office of St. Veronica from the Milan Missal where it had been introduced."
Well, I can think of a few very good reasons not to venerate Veronica: the Encyclopedia has presented no positive historical evidence that such a person ever existed, and it earlier confirmed the origination of her name evolved from a description of an inanimate object to the status of a person!
Now let's take a listen to Mr.Martignoni's "scriptural apologetic" for Station six:
First Martignoni informs us the source for Station six comes from the apocryphal Acts of Pilate from 100-125 A.D. Some of the sources I checked date the work from 150-255 A.D. The Catholic Encyclopedia, though an older work, states, "We are forced to admit that is of later origin, and scholars agree in assigning it to the middle of the fourth century" [source]. Obviously, the certainty that this is an early work is debatable. The actual reference to Veronica from this text is also less than compelling:
There was found there also a woman named Veronica, and she said: Twelve years I was in an issue of blood, and I only touched the edge of his garment, and directly I was cured.The Jews say: Our law does not admit the testimony of a woman.
Martignoni refers to the story of Veronica as stemming from "small 't' tradition." He correctly notes that the story from the Acts of Pilate speaks of Jesus healing a woman of a blood disorder. Note above, the story of Veronica's towel is...missing. The Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature notes,
"A late tradition represents [Veronica] as a niece of King Herod and as offering her veil, or a napkin, as a sundarium to the suffering Christ on the Way of the Cross, whose pictured features were thus impressed upon the linen. This tradition has found no acceptance since the 11th cent." [Henry Wace, William Piercy, eds., The Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1911), p. 1106].
In fact, in some translations of the section above, the name isn't Veronica, but Bernice [Willis Barnstone, ed., The Other Bible (San Francisco: Harper San Fransisco, 2005), p.366]. The reason appears to be that the name "Veronica" is found in a later Latin manuscript (the original text is in Greek). Veronica (or Bernice) appears in the text as witness on behalf of Christ. These two women may in fact be the same, as "Veronica" appears to be a latinisation of "Bernice." But, neither name may be accurate. The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VIII [Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995 (reprint)] translates the text simply as "a woman" (p. 419), and notes that only some of the manuscripts use either the names mentioned.
Martignoni states if one or two of the Stations of the Cross did not happen, well, "so what?" He states, "You can't prove it did not happen." He then states the tradition of this story goes back almost 2000 years. This serves as proof that it did happen! My challenge to Martignoni would be to document this claim. Trace the tradition of this story back 2000 years. Explain why this is not a tradition of men, like those decried by Jesus.
Where then did the Veronica story come from? I found a version of it in The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VIII, pp.466-467, "The Death of Pilate Who Condemned Jesus." The editors note of this text, "The language shows it to be of a late date" (p. 354). Here is the pertinent section:
"And this messenger returning to his inn, met a certain woman named Veronica, who had been a friend of Jesus; and he said: O woman, a certain physician who was in this city, who cured the sick by a word alone, why have the Jews put him to death? And she began to weep, saying: Ah me! my Lord, my God and my Lord, whom Pilate for envy delivered, condemned, and ordered to be crucified. Then he, being exceedingly grieved, said: I am vehemently grieved that I am unable to accomplish that for which my Lord had sent me. And Veronica said to him: When my Lord was going about preaching, and I, much against my will, was deprived of His presence, I wished His picture to be painted for me, in order that, while I was deprived of His presence, the figure of His picture might at least afford me consolation. And when I was carrying the canvas to the painter to be painted, my Lord met me, and asked whither I was going. And when I had disclosed to Him the cause of my journey, He asked of me the cloth, and gave it back to me impressed with the image of His venerable face. Therefore, if thy Lord will devoutly gaze upon His face, he shall obtain forthwith the benefit of health. And he said to her: Is a picture of such a sort procurable by gold or silver? She said to him: No; but by the pious influence of devotion. I shall therefore set out with thee, and shall carry the picture to be seen by Caesar, and shall come back again.
Volusianus therefore came with Veronica to Rome, and said to Tiberius the emperor: Jesus, whom thou hast been longing for, Pilate and the Jews have delivered to an unjust death, and have through envy affixed to the gibbet of the cross. There has therefore come with me a certain matron, bringing a picture of Jesus himself; and if thou wilt devoutly look upon it, thou shall immediately obtain the benefit of thy health. Caesar therefore ordered the way to be strewn with silk cloths, and the picture to be presented to him; and as soon as he had looked upon it, he regained his former health."
In the same volume, a document entitled "The Avenging of the Savior" claims Veronica was the woman "who suffered from an issue of blood twelve years" [The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VIII, p. 475]. In this story, Veronica has a "portrait of the Lord." This portrait has miraculous powers.
Martignoni notes that the Stations of the Cross are an act of devotion, therefore, one can still gain spiritual benefit from it. What benefit could possibly be gained from a practice not only non-Biblical, but including non-historical, and most likely fictional facts about Veronica? I've read elsewhere that plenary indulgences can be granted to those who take part in this act of devotion [Stanley Stuber, Primer on Roman Catholicism for Protestants (New York: Association Press, 1953), p.190]. Hence, an act that is part of small "t" tradition has quite an effect on a participant.
Catholics continually make the claim that to be deep in history is to cease being Protestant. Well, if one does history as Martignoni does, I would have to ask how the word "history" is being defined. If it means that anything is history because one cannot prove it did not happen, and whatever small "t" tradition is now part of Catholic practice is true because it's a nice act of devotion, I would rather not go deep into Martignoni's method of history.
Khalid Yasin and Inconsistent Islamic Arguments
04/05/2008 - James WhiteSince many Christians struggle to understand Deedat's accent, or find Naik too "foreign" to understand, you might find Khalid Yasin to be very clear and forthright.
Day 2 of the Steve Gregg vs. James White Debate
04/04/2008 - James WhiteHere's the program (free/high quality).
Greg Stafford on God's Ignorance: God As Man's Prophet
04/04/2008 - Jeff DownsRegarding the creation of mankind, the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q10) asks “How did God create man?” And it answers the question by stating “God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures” (emphasis mine). And because we are made in the image of God, we are to image Him (as only man can), in all of our being. We tend to look at this section of Genesis (1-3) as man either obeying and disobeying God strictly in their ethic (how they live their lives).
But as God’s creatures, Adam and Eve were to be Yahweh’s servant with all their being. We are told that the greatest commandment is “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (emphasis mine). This commandment, although not stated in Genesis was certainly Adam greatest commandment. And just as we are not to love and serve God in our own strength, according to our own dictates, Adam, again, was no different.
It is clear from the NT that part of the image that is being restored has to do with knowledge. What we know, how do we know it, etc. One picture of the Christian, is that he is as priest, offering up to God our own bodies (including our minds) as living sacrifices, and in doing so our minds will be transformed, to know God’s will. We are told in other places that we are to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2Cor. 10:5). In Eph. 4:22-23 Paul states “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” and in Col. 3:10 Paul continues this line of reason stating “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
If one of the goals of our sanctification is that we are “think God’s thoughts after him” as Cornelius Van Til stated, we can safely assume that in the garden, prior to the fall, Adam possessed the knowledge Paul speaks about in the above verses. The difference being, that Adam before the fall did not have to “take every thought captive,” this was a given. Adam, prior to the fall, was thinking God’s thoughts after Him.
Being made in the image of God, man was to be God’s prophet, priest and king. He was to rule over creation, he was to subdue creation and he was to proclaim the works and mind of the mind of his creator to the creation. After all, if Adam failed in any of these before the actual fall, we would have a pre-fall. But we know this wasn’t the case.
When we look at the teachings of Mr. Greg Stafford, we see the roles of prophet exchanged from man being the prophet of God, to God being a prophet for man. Mr. Stafford has established for himself (with the help of Jehovah’s Witness publications) that there is knowledge God is not aware of and can not know until man reveals it. After man says what he says, it becomes revelation for God, and now God can speak forth what Adam, a part from his image-bearing, has made known. Remember, Mr. Stafford has told us in the past, that when God commanded Adam to name the animals, God himself did not know what Adam was going to name them. God’s knowledge was limited to the free choices of man. God, now thinks man’s thoughts after him.
One important point to recognize here is that built into in Mr. Stafford’s theology, is a place for man’s autonomy. He (man) is a law unto himself. Before the fall, he can do things and say things without thinking God’s thought after him. Man, apart from God, makes decisions, which in the end, bind God and instead of man being the prophet for God, God becomes the mouth piece for man. Man becomes the final reference point and the the creator-creature distinction is blurred.
I can not say it better than Van Til at this point when he states “It is only when this point is carefully noted that the Christian and the non-Christian points of view are seen in their right relationship to one another. The two positions have mutually exclusive views of the ultimate reference point in predication” (Christian Apologetics, 2ed., 43).
[Note: The thoughts in this post are being developed for a paper I am currently writing for an apologetics class. When finished, Lord willing, I will post the paper on the blog].
FIEL and Eros Pasquini
04/04/2008 - James WhiteI saw this video on Tom Ascol's blog, and I had to repost it here:
I, too, join Tom in thanking Eros for his incredible skill as a translator. When I spoke for FIEL a few years ago, Eros made the work so much easier. But he and I also had a wonderful time talking together about the Lord and His truth. What makes the above clip from Tom Ascol so humorous for me is what happened during my time there. First, you might note that Eros and I look a bit alike. In fact, in this picture, Eros and I had decided to have some fun with that, so I lent him one of my famous loud ties just for the evening. You see, the first time I spoke, as we approached the podium, the crowd began to laugh. We looked at each other with a little puzzlement at first before we got the joke. So I began, "Look! I came all the way to Brazil just to find my long lost brother!" So we decided to take the next step and dress alike to play off on the twins idea. We got a good round of applause!
But what resonated most with Tom's torture of Eros with all the next-to-impossible-to-translate idioms was what happened with the other speaker who was with me at the Fiel conference, Pat Campbell from the St. Louis area. Pat's a great guy, but he just couldn't rid himself of his use of idioms or poetry. No matter how hard he tried, he'd still end up trying to quote a line from a hymn or something like that. Eros told him he could do that, if he would just let him know ahead of time, so he could see if there was an already published version of the hymn in Portugese, for example. So by the end of the week, though Pat tried, when he'd get to where he was about to spout off some idiomatic line or poem, he'd turn red, get all embarrassed, and Eros would just shake his head and laugh. We were all in on the joke by then. To this day when I go to St. Louis and meet Pat we laugh about our trip to Brazil together.
In any case, I have very, very fond memories of my time in Brazil and especially of Eros Pasquini. May the Lord bless the Denhams, FIEL, and Eros as they labor for the Lord.
Boston College Papacy Rebuttal: James White
04/04/2008 - James White
Michael Baigent, The Jesus Papers
04/03/2008 - James WhiteMichael Baigent, whose highest degree is in "mysticism and religious experience," who likewise wrote the work that became the source of the central core of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, his Holy Blood, Holy Grail, is about as unbiased when it comes to the New Testament as the Pope would be on Catholicism. A spinner of conspiracy theories and historical fiction, Baigent's The Jesus Papers is nothing more than another fictional attempt to make money on the back of shredding the New Testament and tapping in to decaying Western culture and its incessant desire for reasons to disbelieve. In the section where Baigent is trying to peddle his "Jesus didn't die" myth, we read the following:
Certainly the New Testament is bad history. This is impossible to deny. The texts are inconsistent, incomplete, garbled, and biased. It is possible to deconstruct the New Testament to the point where nothing remains but a heavily biased, dogmatic Christian mythology---in which case we could argue that the account of Jesus supporting the payment of taxes to Caesar was simply a later addition to reassure the mostly Greco-Roman Gentile converts to Christianity that there was nothing politically dangerous about the new faith, that it was never a political threat to Roman power.Nothing like a slightly unbiased view of the New Testament, yes? Yet this is the face of the secular world today. "Please don't confuse me with replies, nor ask me why I choose to presume guilt first; I have no interest in explaining to you why I refuse to allow the text to speak as a whole, I much prefer to simply claim that everyone agrees with me that the NT stinks as history and is a jumbled, garbled mess, so thatI can then isolate any texts I want, weave them together into conspiracy theories that I can then either sell to gullible readers, or use to get tenure at the university." Sadly, this kind of thinking predominates in the classrooms of the American educational system.
In any case, this is the context to the portion Shadid Lewis relied upon to make his argument about Jesus surviving the crucifixion. The context then is, "Context? Who needs context? Who needs to define terms as they were used in the original document? Throw context out! Let's string things together in any way we want!" This hardly gives us much reason to hope that Baigent will tell the truth about such things as lexicography, either. I note in passing, would our Muslim friends appreciate the Qur'an receiving the treatment the NT receives at the hands of Baigent? Most of these writers stay far away from the subject of the Qur'an (they want to make money and get to travel around and give talks at little gatherings, not dodge fatwas), but there isn't the slightest reason to think they would not treat it with the same disdain they do the NT. I wonder how our Islamic apologist friends would respond to that? In any case, here is the entire section from which Mr. Lewis cited in the debate on the 23rd:
But there is yet another oddity that we need to note: in the Gospel of Mark, Joseph of Arimathea is described as visiting Pilate and requesting the body of Jesus. Pilate asks if Jesus is dead and is surprised when told that he is indeed, for his demise seems very rapid to Pilate.But since Jesus is dead, Pilate allows Joseph to take the body down. If we look at the original Greek text, we see an important point being made: when Joseph asks Pilate for Jesus's body, the word used for "body" is soma. In Greek this denotes a living body. When Pilate agrees that Joseph can take the body down from the cross, the word he uses for "body" is ptoma (Mark 15:43-45). This means a fallen body, a corpse or carcass. In other words, the Greek text of Mark's Gospel is making it clear that while Joseph is asking for the living body of Jesus, Pilate grants him what he believes to be the corpse. Jesus' survival is revealed right there in the actual Gospel account.As long as one remembers this is conspiracy-driven fiction and not serious scholarship, one will resist the temptation to pull out one's hair at the unwarranted, countermanded leaps of illogic Baigent proposes with a straight face. I have reviewed this material in my response to Shadid Lewis here:
If the writer of the Gospel had wished to hide that fact, it would have been very easy for him simply to use one word for both statements---to have both Joseph and Pilate speaking of the ptoma, the corpse. But the writer chose not to be consistent. Could this be because it was too well known a fact for him to get away with any manipulation of it? This had to wait for the translation of the New Testament from Greek into Latin in the Latin Bible--the Vulgate--the word corpus is used by both Pilate and Joseph of Arimathea, and this simply means "body" as well as "corpse." The hiding of the secret of the crucifixion was completed. (The Jesus Papers, pp. 130-131).
I note that there is no way to read Baigent without realizing that his argument does, in fact, demand that the one using it preclude soma from having any semantic overlap with ptoma, the very thing Shadid Lewis then accused me of "lying" about. Baigent is also obviously ignorant of the textual variant at this point as well. But in any case, this kind of "please don't bother me about the contradictions my interpretation introduces into the text, this will sell anyway" writing is good for a chuckle, but when it is being read by Islamic apologists standing in front of an audience and video cameras, well, that says a lot about the state of that dialogue, does it not?
Day 1 of the Steve Gregg vs. James White Debate
04/03/2008 - James WhiteHere is the first hour of the five hour debate. If you wish to listen live, tune in tomorrow, 2pm PDT (5pm EDT) for the second portion! Here's the program (free/high quality).
The Entire Nadir Ahmed Debate: Playlist
04/03/2008 - James WhiteI have never tried embedding an entire playlist before, so here is my first shot at it. I am not going to extend out eleven videos of the Nadir Ahmed "debate." His behavior is so far below acceptable that it gets in the way of the subject. So here is the playlist so that those who do wish to observe the interaction can do so. You may also want to share this with anyone who gets caught up in Nadir's constant debate challenges. This debate provides all the necessary documentation for any rational and reasonable person to dismiss Mr. Ahmed as one utterly unqualified to engage in public disputation. Below the playlist I am also providing one other video I produced debunking Ahmed's "Acid Test" argument. I had prepared the slides before the debate, since Ahmed had said he would present the argument, but he did not. I did not wish to waste the effort.
And then Ahmed's "Acid Test" debunked and refuted:
Cross Examination of James White by Dennis Potter, University of Utah
04/02/2008 - James White
First DL in Two Weeks!
04/01/2008 - James WhiteDid the first Dividing Line in a number of weeks today. I played clips from the debates in Norfolk and responded to the claims made by Sami Zaatari and Shadid Lewis. Also played some clips from the "debate" with Nadir Ahmed. Also announced that starting Thursday we will have a five-day simulcast debate with Steve Gregg on the freedom of God in salvation. Even to this point I still don't know how it is going to be run. Evidently, Mr. Gregg does not check e-mail nearly as often as I do. So, I just hope it goes smoothly on the technical side. I truly have no time to worry about it, or even to prepare for it. As the banner ad on the main page here indicates, I have a debate with Shaikh Jalal Abualrub on the 12th. What the banner ads don't tell you is that on the 22nd I will be debating Dr. Michael K. Schutz, Professor of Sociology at CSU East Bay, on the campus there in Hayward, California (San Francisco area, directly across the Bay from the main campus of the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) on the subject of Gay Marriage. He's for it, I'm against it. I wonder if I'll be in the minority? You think? So to say I'm a bit under the gun for the next few weeks is a major understatement. So don't blame me if halfway through a segment in the Gregg series I start going after him about misunderstanding the Qur'an or something. So anyway, here's today's program (free/high quality).
Press Release Regarding Dr. Lee Carter's Prejudiced Attacks Upon Christian Students
04/01/2008 - James White
Glendale Community College Professor Identifies Christians as the "Religiously Insane," Tells Christian Students Their Parents Lied to Them; Says Christians Would Nail Jesus to the Cross if He Came Back
Dr. Lee Carter, a philosophy instructor at Glendale Community College, said the following to his class on October 25, 2007:
And in fact, if Jesus did come back, the most likely people to put him back on the cross would be Christians, and the most likely people to nail him to the cross would be fundamentalist Christians. They would be the ones who would be nailing that son of a bitch back to the cross, because he'd be the one who'd be refuting what they believe, and they wouldn't want that. Fair enough? So the most likely guys to be hammering in the nails, they are the guys who elected George Bush, and believe in the literal truth of the Bible, and don't believe in evolution, because they don't want to use reason, and they don't want to think, they'd rather stick to their illusions that hopefully may convince them that they don't have to be afraid at night when they are all alone, and the devil may whisper in their ears. (10/25/07)This kind of rhetoric is normative for Dr. Carter, who during the same semester identified Christians as the "religiously insane." In one class Dr. Carter informed a Christian student in no uncertain terms, in front of the entire class, that her parents had "lied" to her about the authorship of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, found in the Christian Bible), and then said he would give the student $100 if she could tell him who wrote these books, and that she should start by "Googling it." This was said despite the fact that Dr. Carter had no idea what the student had, in fact, been taught by her parents on this topic.
Dr. Carter warns Christian students that they will be challenged in his classes. It is perfectly fine to challenge a Christian student, or a Muslim student, or an atheist student for that matter. But Dr. Lee Carter's rhetoric is not an example of challenge: it is a clear example of prejudiced, bigoted behavior that goes far beyond anything that can honestly be called "academic freedom." The above cited instances were not unusual events; the mockery of Christians was a normative element of the lectures given by Dr. Carter.
This information, in a much fuller form, with full documentation, was provided to the Board of the Maricopa Community Colleges as well as the President of Glendale Community College. When asked if Dr. Carter's behavior falls under the realm of "academic freedom," the President of Glendale Community College, Dr. Velvie Green, would only say that the concerns expressed about Dr. Carter's behavior have been "addressed" with him. Repeated efforts to get a clear, final answer as to whether this kind of prejudicial and bigoted behavior will be allowed to continue under the guise of academic freedom were not answered.
I believe that if a Christian professor spoke in this fashion to a Muslim student, they would be dismissed instantly and without question. The irony is that another professor at Glendale Community College, Walter Kehowski, though a tenured professor of mathematics, was forced to fight to retain his job after forwarding to colleagues George Washington's "Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789." His greatest mistake was leaving the source of the address on the e-mail: Pat Buchanan's website. So consider the contrast: one professor has to fight for his job for even daring to note a historical, Christian statement because it was posted on a politically incorrect website: another professor is free to call Christians "the religiously insane," tell Christian students their parents "lied" to them, and say Christians would nail Jesus to the cross were He to return.
Further documentation on this topic. Includes audio links to discussions, interviews, etc.
Regarding Professor Walter Kehowski
And finally, one might note that Dr. Carter's comments are significantly more inflammatory than those in this lawsuit in California.
Please feel free to copy this press release and send it to any media outlets/sources/writers you think might find it interesting or useful. If any of you have access to such media folks as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, etc., please feel free to direct them to this information. Thank you!