Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
A Quick Report from Urbana
04/30/2009 - James WhiteJust a quick note to thank everyone who made tonight such a wonderful success. A group of "channel rats" pitched in to do a lot of work in getting the debate video taped, including ENielsen, Dale, Algo, and brigand. We also had DaveHewitt and Celticman and wonky in attendance, too (and SN was there....in command of it all). Thanks to all who helped! I even got to meet one of the folks who has helped encourage me so much by supporting us through the Ministry Resource list.
I am working on importing video and the like, so I should have at least one section posted to YouTube tomorrow morning. It is processing too slowly to get anything up tonight.
Basically, once again, I did all the homework, my opponent had not, as far as I could tell, even Googled my name. He went through the exact same notes he had used in the Kyle Butts debate, including the exact same alleged contradictions, in the exact same order. Yes, the very items I had covered, in depth, on the DL over the past few weeks. There was not a single surprise from Dan Barker. Everything was exactly as I had expected it to be. Which means my opening presentation was zeroed in exactly where it needed to be, and I could not have been more pleased with the outcome. I have the video recording with me (the one from our professional camera), so we should have audio and video fairly quickly.
Again, thanks to everyone who made this a great evening!
A Quick Word from Urbana
04/30/2009 - James WhiteGreetings from the campus of the University of Illinois. I just had lunch with the folks from the Navigators. Most enjoyable time, though, I just don't understand how kids in college keep getting younger and younger. I was talking about stuff back in the 80s and they were all staring at me like I was old or something. But a very nice time indeed.
I have my presentation finished, and I am just resting up before heading over to the auditorium. Please pray for the debate this evening. Pray for clarity of thought and speech, pray for the audience, pray for the recording.
We still intend to do all we can to make this available live via our regular Dividing Line link. Click "Webcast" above to try the link. The debate begins at 7pm CDT, 5pm MST.
I just got a call seeking to arrange a debate after I speak at the conference in New Jersey in June. Pray the Lord will open the door for this opportunity to proclaim the gospel and defend the faith.
A final thanks to all of you who have supported the effort in putting this debate together, especially those who gave through the Ministry Resource list. That is always greatly appreciated.
I will do all I can to get a blog article up, and some video, before I go to bed tonight (or early tomorrow morning!).
1 Corinthians 1:18-24, Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, Sunday PM Service
04/29/2009 - James White
Final Dan Barker Discussions Prior to Debate!
04/28/2009 - James WhitePlayed brief snippets from two more Barker debates I listened to recently, then finished off his list of "Bible contradictions." Took some relevant calls as well. Here's the program.
Remember, no DL on Thursday; however, we will try to live webcast the audio of the debate that evening. Since the debate begins at 7pm, and I'm assuming that is CDT, then we would be fairly close to our normal DL time anyway, only one hour later. We will have no way of really testing this until the time comes to do it, so please do not expect super sound quality or the like. Obviously, we will try to let folks know if there will be no feed at all. But, we might as well give it the old college try (especially since the debate is at a college!).
The "Evil" God of the Bible
04/27/2009 - James WhiteI decided to tackle one of Dan Barker's favorite topics straight on in the Sunday morning sermon at PRBC. What about those difficult texts where God commands the literal extermination of an entire tribe, or city, or even nation?
Today's Educational System Described Nearly 500 Years Ago
04/24/2009 - James White
---John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis
Today on the Dividing Line
04/23/2009 - James WhiteStarted off with a fuller discussion of the Calvin/Servetus affair, and then took a call from England on "probability arguments" in reference to the existence of God. Here's the program.
More On the Death of Free Speech
04/22/2009 - James White
Last year I posted a blog article on the faux-marriage of Jennifer Kozumpli and Nicole Webber. These lesbians were pictured (one dressed as a man) holding an 18-month old girl, Sophie, which the caption identified as "their...daughter." I commented on how abusive it is to subject a child to such conditions, and how this again shows us how far our culture has descended into utter reprobation in its views.
You may recall that a while later I received a note demanding we take down the picture. I blogged the following at that time, and I note that the links are still active and accurate:
Back on June 30th I posted a short note regarding the abuse inherent in depriving a little child of a father and a mother that comes from "same sex unions." I made reference to a picture, posted on the Internet, in a major news source (MSNBC) as a glowing example of just how self-centered "same sex unions" have to be by nature. Here is the article I posted.
I was contacted by "jennifer kozumplik/nicole webber" (name provided on the contact page) and told to remove the image, found in the above linked article. I have done so pending my getting legal advice on the matter. You will find the image on the following websites, and something tells me "jennifer kozumplik/nicole webber" haven't contacted USA Today, MSNBC, etc., demanding that the picture be removed. As I have said many times, and as more and more people are discovering, homosexuals do not ask for equal rights: they want super-rights, including the ability to shut down all expression of belief that reminds them of the moral evil by which they have chosen to identify themselves. This is a glaring example. Note the use of this picture by such national online sources as MSNBC and USA Today. Google will provide you with lots of examples, such as this one.
The two individuals have likewise posted similar pictures on Facebook; even those without a Facebook account (such as yours truly) can see them.
Even Flickr has them as well.
I wonder if they wrote to The Ledger as well? That one even provides the very same image they have demanded I remove in a zoomable form.
Clearly, these two individuals are not camera shy, and they surely did not grant "rights" to all of these sources to post their pictures. No, the reason for this is clear: homosexuals use the cover of "tolerance" as a demand for "silence" on the part of those of us who still identify moral evil as moral evil. These individuals are glorying in their rebellion against God's moral law, and they are damaging not only themselves in their rebellion, but others too young to even understand what is being done to them. But they are intent upon making sure that no one reminds them of these facts that they know all too well.
I have been asking those "in the know," and since the picture is an AP picture, all one needs is an account with AP to post it. These individuals do not have the right to selectively determine which sites post the pictures and which do not---they lost that right when they allowed the pictures to be taken in the first place. But their demands cannot change the reality of their actions, and the actions of all of those rushing off to California so that they can pretend that marriage is a term humans get to define (instead of an institution God Himself ordained) before common sense returns to that state (Lord willing) in November. My original post only used their picture as an illustration of a general moral evil that is being promoted in our day. They are not alone in putting their own sexual desires before the good even of themselves, let alone of a little child. It is the very essence of homosexuality, and the very essence of man-centered Western culture.
So today I was informed that a laywer from AP had sent us a cease and desist order. So I've once again removed the picture, though, you can see it, repeatedly, if you so desire, even with zoom capabilities, at all the links posted above. For, as we all know, the only reason the AP came after us is that a complaint was filed with them.
Compare this zealous activity with that of YouTube/Google. I noted last week that someone had posted a disgusting, vile, clearly illegal and slanderous video in which they used my own video, but cobbled together words and phrases from other videos, so as to accuse me of gross immorality. I informed YouTube/Google of the video. Last I checked, it is still posted. When I complained, I was told it wasn't a copyright issue! So I asked to be directed toward the forms I needed to fill out on other grounds, and I did not even get a reply to the request.
Once again we see the elevation of a sexually-defined minority to the position of a protected group of elites based upon the society's fear of "offense" of these elites, while, concurrently, there is an ever lessening concern for a much larger minority group's rights, all due to the "political correctness" of the day. Somehow, long, long ago, these words were written:
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you..." (John 15:18)
Dan Barker on John Calvin and Michael Servetus
04/22/2009 - James White
Prayers For, To, and Through the Dead
04/21/2009 - Tur8infanWithin Roman Catholicism (and within some other churches as well) there are prayers that are made for, through, and to the dead. We, as Reformed believers, reject all three of these categories but on different grounds. In discussing these issues with Roman Catholics it may be useful to be able to understand the different categories and to explain why it is that we reject each. We should pray for the living, to the living and true God, through the merits and intercession of Christ alone.
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
"Islam and Friends" Makes Stuff Up, and More on Dan Barker
04/21/2009 - James WhiteStarted off reviewing the comments of the Muslim host of "Islam and Friends," took some calls relevant to atheism and Dan Barker, and reviewed more of Barker's debates, and in particular, his claim that רצח does not mean "murder." Here's the program.
For those who like documentation:
רָצַח (rā∙ṣǎḥ): v.; ≡ Str 7523; TWOT 2208óLN 20.61-20.88 (qal) murder, kill, i.e., take the life one another so as to cause a state of death...note: this action can refer to an accident, manslaughter, premeditation, or governmental execution; (nif) murdered, be killed (Jdg 20:4; Pr 22:13+); (piel) murder, kill
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.) (DBLH 8357).
The Convert Syndrome?
04/21/2009 - James WhiteI was directed to this report on a talk given by Frank Beckwith. I found the following line most interesting:
Following his return, Beckwith's faith was changed in more than name only. "I started reading the Bible much more," he said. "I used to read the Bible looking for arguments. I now read and look for wisdom."This does not ring true to me, at least, in light of Beckwith's own statements. I refer in particular to statements such as this one from Return to Rome, p. 79:
One may wonder where the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (or "scripture alone") factored in all this. To be blunt, it didn't, primarily because over the years I could not find an understanding or definition of sola scriptura convincing enough that did not have to be so qualified that it seemed to be more of a slogan than a standard.Then a little later, p. 80:
But as I slowly and unconsciously moved toward Catholicism in the early 2000s, I began to even find the sola scriptura of the Magisterial Reformation not entirely satisfactory. It seemed to me to subtly and unconsciously incorporate into its theological framework all the doctrines that sola scriptura, without a settled canon or authoritative creedal tradition, could never have produced out of whole cloth without the benefit of a Holy Spirit-directed ecclesiastical infrastructure.Now, according to his published work, since the early 2000s Beckwith was sub-Protestant in his view of the Bible and authority to begin with. He had a "weak" doctrine of sola scriptura (which really was not a doctrine of sola scriptura at all). So I wonder if the person reporting this talk missed something, since there would be no logical basis for Beckwith to claim he was reading the Bible "looking for arguments" (a pretty lousy reason to be reading the Scriptures to begin with) when in his published works he says he had already given up the idea that that is what the Bible is to be used for anyway. If Beckwith did say this, then we might well have an example here of the "convert syndrome." That is, if you listen to converts/reverts to Roman Catholicism often enough, you begin to learn the "mantra." They know what they are expected to say about their former faith, and especially about reliance upon the Scriptures, and hence they produce these kinds of statements. Again, all this depends on the accuracy of the report, but if it is accurate, we see a pretty clear problem with the assertion.
Miss USA: Christians Need Not Apply
04/20/2009 - James White
Steve Ray's Long-Time Record
04/20/2009 - James WhiteI was looking through the materials we have on Roman Catholicism in our articles section and I noted a lengthy discussion of Augustine's Sermon 131. I noticed the date: April 11, 2000. Why is this significant? Recently I have noted, in the context of his unscrupulous behavior and actions, the many errors of Steve Ray. Examining his writings and claims with knowledge of the Bible and history puts a Protestant apologist in a "target rich environment," to be sure. We have only scratched the surface of the refutations to be offered of Ray's claims. But some have suggested that I am picking on Ray because of his shameless promotion of Patty Bonds. But there is a bit of a historical problem with that claim, similar to the anachronism inherent in Roman historiography relating to such things as the Papacy. It doesn't fit the time line. You see, Mrs. Bonds contacted me anonymously on July 15, 2000. And it was not till November of 2000 that I learned of her apostasy to Rome (and even later that I put two and two together and realized that the e-mail I had responded to in July of 2000 was from her). Yet, the following section about Steve Ray is from an article I posted in April of 2000, months before the Bonds situation became known to me. Hence, I have identified Ray's work as shoddy, shallow, and easily refuted independently of his impudent involvement in Mrs. Bonds' activities. Here's the relevant portion:
Stephen Ray’s Presentation
But while we can excuse Keating on the basis of possible ignorance of the actual events of history, we cannot do so with Catholic convert Stephen K. Ray. Instead, we must soberly conclude that his treatment of this issue in his 1999 book Upon This Rock (Ignatius Press) is simply deceptive. This work is, in my opinion, the clearest example of the lengths to which a Roman controversialist will go in twisting history so as to support Roman claims. In a work that is without question one of the least accurate and scholarly works I have ever seen on the subject, one that argues in circles constantly, Ray addresses both Cyprian and Augustine’s views. However, given that Ray does not use the tools of a historian, and in fact utterly abandons any kind of scholarly methodology, the result is predictable. He early on exposes how utterly unreliable his work will be in words such as these:
Sometimes silence is more eloquent than words. This is especially true in Church history. We hear so much about what the Fathers say and so little about what they do not say. This is revealing and should play a significant role in our research. (Upon this Rock, p. 12).
Such a methodology is, quite simply laughable. Ray goes on to use this to argue that unless an early Father specifically denies Petrine primacy and succession that this is somehow "relevant" to historical research. It is painfully obvious, to any semi-unbiased reviewer, that Ray is assuming what he seems to know he cannot prove. The grotesquely anachronistic "examination" that follows is glowing evidence of Ray’s inability to accurately handle historical data and to provide any kind of meaningful presentation. Protestant apologist William Webster has thoroughly refuted Ray (see www.christiantruth.com) who, in response, has only been able to provide more thorough documentation of his own anachronistic, circular reasoning. Utilization of Ray’s means of thought could provide the basis for any kind of belief in the early church, no matter how far-fetched.
But despite this, Ray’s treatment of both Cyprian and Augustine is not just grossly flawed, it is deceptive. It is obvious Ray knows the truth of the matter, but he either suppresses that truth, or twists it into a shape unrecognizable to anyone who reads the early Fathers for themselves. When dealing with Cyprian he desperately attempts to undercut the reality of Cyprian’s view of the cathedra Petri, and likewise somehow "forgets" to cite the passages we provided above which demonstrate Cyprian’s rejection of Stephen’s meddling in the affairs of the North African Church. Though providing lengthy footnotes, he does nothing but ignore Cyprian’s real doctrine, while attacking William Webster for pointing out the obvious. But our concern is much more with the tremendously deceptive presentation regarding Augustine’s Sermon 131.
Beginning on page 230, Ray provides a completely circular argument, not based upon Augustine, but upon Ray’s desperate need to read into Augustine the concept of Petrine primacy in the bishop of Rome. His citations (as throughout the book) are meant to be relevant only given the assumption of what he is trying to prove, the pre-existing commitment to the modern Roman theory of Petrine primacy. He even takes a pathetically weak shot at my own discussion of Augustine’s view of Matthew 16:18-19 which is so poorly constructed that there is no need to refute it: it stands as its own refutation. But on page 233 we read the following: "Roma locuta est; causa finita est [Rome has spoken; the case is closed]." Look familiar? It should. As we have seen, Augustine never said this. Ray uses the same quotes Keating did: but, he then attaches an almost page-length footnote that shows that he is well aware Augustine never uttered these words! This is the deception. Keating can claim ignorance: Ray has no such excuse. Look at what Ray says:
This popular, shortened version of Augustine’s statement put to rest the contention caused by the Pelagian heretics. The full text of his statement—the exact equivalent of the shortened version above—is, "[On the matter of the Pelagians] two Councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [Rome]; and from there rescripts [decrees from the Pope] have come. The matter is at an end [causa finita est]; would that the error too might sometime be at an end." (Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, 3:28).
As we see, Ray knows that Augustine did not say the words he quotes, but, he excuses this misrepresentation by re-translating the term "rescripts" (Latin: rescripta) as "decrees from the Pope." Upon what basis does he do this? We are not told. We know that Innocent responded to the actions of the councils in North Africa. It is pure anachronism to 1) assume the North Africans held to Rome’s view of supremacy, 2) assume that the North Africans felt their actions required "ratification" by the bishop of Rome, and 3) assume that Augustine was basing his statement "the matter is at an end" on the decision of Innocent rather than (as the context shows) the Scriptural arguments he had presented against Pelagianism and the actions of the North African councils. Ray makes no reference to the actual substance of Sermon 131. He never quotes it. And what is worse, he utterly ignores the entire issue of Zosimus and the entire history of what transpired immediately after this sermon was preached! Instead, he provides two Roman Catholic citations that utterly ignore the historical context of Augustine’s words. One, from Bernard Otten, is a simply ridiculous assertion that while Augustine never said "Roma locuta est," "its equivalents occur again and again." We have already seen Sermon 131 surely does not do this, so where else do we look for these "equivalents"? We are not told. Another pro-Rome work is cited that inserts the anachronistic idea that the North African bishops felt they had to send the conclusions of their councils to Rome "for ratification," and as normal, we are not given any foundation upon which we can examine the claim. The fact that the North Africans rejected Zosimus’ clear, forceful rehabilitation of Pelagius, which included his insulting the North Africans as "storms of the church" and "whirlwinds" and which came couched within his complete claim of apostolic authority, shows this is not the case. The North Africans rejected his authority and his conclusions. So upon what basis can anyone say they felt the decisions of their councils needed Roman ratification? Indeed, as John Meyendorff points out, barely three years later these same African bishops wrote to Celestine, bishop of Rome, and said, "Who will believe that our God could inspire justice in the inquiries of one man only (i.e., the bishop of Rome) and refuse it to innumerable bishops gathered in council?" (Imperial Unity and Christian Division, 1989, p. 65). Does that sound like these men believed as Stephen Ray assumes everyone must have? Surely not. The facts are clear.
Middle Knowledge - Part 6
04/19/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the sixth and final section on Turretin's discussion of Middle Knowledge. This section delves into the philosophical arguments that undermine the concept of middle knowledge, demonstrating that the concept of middle knowledge leads to inevitable self-contradictions.
1. Two categories of knowledge are all that are required, because all true objects of knowledge are things possible or things actual (in Turretin's terms, "future").
2. Untrue things cannot be foreseen as true. In other words, unless it is true that a man will do "X" in situation "Y", God cannot foresee such a thing as true.
3. If divine providence is comprehensive (if it extends to men's acts) then men's will cannot be said to be indeterminate.
4. God's knowledge cannot be said to be uncertain. Therefore, if God foresees "X" as certain, then it cannot be said to be uncertain.
5. Middle Knowledge removes God's sovereignty over the creature, because it suggests that God is in essence depending on man's fortuitous cooperation in obtaining the ends he wishes.
6. Middle Knowledge removes God's freedom to base decisions solely on his own good pleasure, thereby contradicting the view of God presented in Romans 9.
Middle Knowledge - Part 5
04/18/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the fifth video in the series, of which (for those already weary of the series) there are six videos. This section deals with alleged proof texts of Middle Knowledge:
(1) 1 Samuel 23:11-12
This is the place where David asked God whether the men of the city would deliver David up if David stayed in the city, and God told him they would, so David left the city. Turretin notes that this was simply a question about the men's plans, not specifically about a future contingency.
(2) Matthew 11:21
This is the place where Jesus compares those who failed to believe after many miracles were done in their midst by comparing them to Tyre and Sidon and saying that the men of Tyre and Sidon would have already repented if the miracles done had been done in them. Turretin notes that this is hyperbole, much as one might say that if a person had been beating on rocks as long as he had been beating on a judge for justice the rocks would have been broken, or that if a donkey had been taught as long as a very slow pupil that the donkey would be able to understand already.
(3) 2 Samuel 12:8
This is a place where God notes additional blessings that would have come to David if David had obeyed. Turretin notes that these blessings are conditional promises, and consequently they are based on a decree of God necessarily.
Additionally, we noted that in each case the verses relate to God's knowledge after the decree, and consequently they are not really prooftexts for any kind of middle knowledge, because they do not relate to the knowledge of God before the decree of futurition.
Ministry Resources List Update/Barker Debate/YouTube Libel
04/17/2009 - James WhiteI have updated the ministry resources list here. If you sort the list by "priority" you can see what is most pressing. I have added three items that would be useful in the next week or so in preparation for the Barker debate. My thanks once again to all those who help in this vital and encouraging way.
I will be picking up where I left off on the 90 minute DL yesterday in examining the exchange between Barker and Wilson on Wilson's work on a jury in a capital murder case. Then we will look at how often Dan does what he claims Christians do, that of referring to concepts "out there" as if they have reality, something he can't do inside his functionalistic naturalistic materialism. His consistent inconsistency is the demonstration of his entire error.
Finally, I was directed yesterday to a depraved, sick video on YouTube wherein someone took one of my videos and cobbled together various words and phrases from the audio of many other videos, and produced a disgusting, slanderous video portraying me as a homosexual. I flagged the video more than 24 hours ago, but all I've gotten from YouTube is a request for proof that I "own" the original material. Remember how recently YouTube removed my video that included an obvious "Fair Use" clip of Sean Penn attacking Christians, but here you have obvious slander/libel and so far, no action at all. Evidently, if you are a Christian minister, all is fair game, especially if it is promulgated in the name of moral debauchery. Amazing days we live in. Any lawyers with expertise in libel/slander out there who would like to be of assistance? Let me know.
Middle Knowledge - Part 4
04/17/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the fourth section of the discussion of Middle Knowledge taken from Turretin's Institutes. This section deals with Turretin's six main objections to Middle Knowledge:
(1) Two categories of knowledge are enough, because all things are either merely possible or actually future,
(2) Untrue things cannot be foreseen as true,
(3) God's exhaustive providence precludes the possibility that mans' will is indeterminate,
(4) No uncertain knowledge belongs to God, therefore if God foresees men's decision, they must be certain and consequently determinate not indeterminate,
(5) Middle Knowledge would remove God's sovereignty over the creature, and
(6) Gods' freedom to base his decisions solely on his own good pleasure would be undermined.
A 90-Minute Dividing Line: D'Souza vs. Barker Demonstrates "Theology Matters"
04/16/2009 - James WhiteI really wanted to provide a useful apologetic discussion on the program today, so we started half an hour earlier. I went through some key theological foundations to apologetics from Van Til for the first twenty minutes, then reviewed key elements of the D'Souza/Barker debate. I then finished up with some discussion of Barker's claims in his book, godless, especially in reference to his comments therein regarding his debate with Doug Wilson. I truly hope this DL will be useful to those engaging in apologetics. Here's the program.
An Extra Long DL Today!
04/16/2009 - James WhiteWe will be starting the DL half an hour early today, and going for a full 90 minutes. I just listened to the Barker/D'Souza debate, and I really wanted to beat my head against a wall for a while so as to feel better. I have honestly never heard a brighter, better example of "theology matters" than this debate, so, I want to play portions of it on the program today. So we will get an early start and go for a full 90 minutes today, starting 3:30pm MST, which is 6:30pm EDT, 3:30pm PDT.
Middle Knowledge - Part 3
04/16/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the third video in the series on Middle Knowledge. This section presents the "state of the question." That is to say, it helps describe what exactly is under consideration. Thus, in this video we distinguish the issue from the issue of God knowing all possible contingent things, of God knowing necessarily contingent things (like "if the sun rises, it is day" or "if a person heartily repents, he will be saved"), and from the issue of God knowing freely contingent things prior to ALL decrees.
Instead, the question is whether God knows what men or angels (rational creatures) will freely do without a special decree preceding (if placed with these or those circumstances and in such-and-thus an order of things).
Seventy Percent of Roman Catholics Do Not Understand The Eucharist
04/15/2009 - James Swan
Seventy percent of Roman Catholics do not understand the Eucharist? There's that anti-catholic James Swan again, making stuff up about the one true church. Everyone knows, those who are members of the one true church have the benefit of the infallible magisterium. The papacy has God-given authority keeping Catholics unified!
Actually, what most who may think this about me don't realize is I probably read more Roman Catholic books at this point than Protestant books. I certainly listen to more Catholic broadcasts than Protestant. This particular fact was not something I made up. It comes from the April 6, 2009 broadcast of Catholic Answers Live. Catholic apologist Jim Burnham devoted an hour on "How to Defend and Explain the Eucharist." You can listen to Jim's statistics in this short clip. Jim says in part,
"Poll after poll in recent years has confirmed that more and more Catholics are mistaken... they have misguided views about the Eucharist. it used to be everybody understood that the Eucharist was Jesus. it was the true flesh and blood... the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine. And now more recent polls suggest that sometimes up to fifty percent depending on how the question is phrased, sometimes as many as seventy percent of Catholics can't identify that core Catholic belief..."
So, if I were to ask seven out of ten Catholics to explain the Eucharist, according to Burnham, I'd probably get a few different answers, or maybe even seven different answers. Here again we find a simple truth, typically ignored by Catholic apologists. Catholic apologists will repeatedly claim a Christian relying on the Bible as his sole infallible authority will produce confusion. They claim one must have another infallible authority, the Papacy. Yet, here is one of their key doctrines, what Burnham calls, "the crown jewel" of the Catholic faith, the Eucharist, and seven out of ten Catholics are confused on it.
In this period of economic crisis, many companies are evaluating their work plan, trying to find ways in which their company is failing and losing money. I submit, If your alleged infallible teaching magisterium is working as Burnham describes, you may want to evaluate the effectiveness of upper management at this point.
In the Multitude of Witnesses
04/15/2009 - James WhiteThose who have followed this blog for a while know that I have often repeated the same things in reference to Bart Ehrman's last two books. Imbalance, deep prejudice, utter ignoring of all relevant believing responses to the issues he raises (which he himself admits are nothing new to begin with). But I'm just a blogger from Phoenix, right? Well, you can see someone with a very different theological foundation saying many of the same things in Ben Witherington's review (parts three and four now available). But here is Darrell Bock's first review (seems like a longer one is coming), and please note the last paragraph:
There is more I could say, but I have to catch my plane now. More will be coming. Just take this as an initial indication that Jesus, Interrupted adds nothing new and understates or ignores much. Read it for yourself and see how many of the issues he raises have been addressed by others already.
Middle Knowledge - Part 2
04/15/2009 - Tur8infanThis is part 2 of the series. The first part of the series can be found here (link). The first part discussed the true doctrine of the knowledge of God, but this section defines the erroneous doctrine of middle knowledge and describes its history. As is discussed in the video, Molinism was the brainchild of Lessius, Fonseca, and/or Molina (three Jesuits who couldn't decide among themselves who invented the doctrine) in opposition to Dominicans who held to a view of free will that is similar to that of Calvinists.
The Jesuits were seeking to make God's election to be based on foreseen faith and good works, as well as to defend their view of man's free will as autonomous. The only way they saw around the Dominicans' observation that God's will consists of natural and free knowledge was to invent a third category of knowledge that they designated "middle knowledge."
This "middle knowledge" is allegedly different from natural knowledge in that it is indeterminate, not being based on the nature of God, but on a decree. This "middle knowledge" is allegedly different from free knowledge, however, in that it is not about things certainly future, or - to put it another way - it is not based on God's decrees but on the decrees of creatures.
Acts 9:7 and 22:9 Examined in Light of Dan Barker's Claims
04/14/2009 - James WhiteToday on the DL I went over Dan Barker's claims regarding the alleged contradiction between Paul in Acts 9:7 and Paul in Acts 22:9. I then continued examining his list of alleged contradictions from a debate earlier this year. Here's the program.
The New Catholic (Right and Wrong) Answer Bible, Update
04/14/2009 - James Swan
A few days ago I mentioned some of the problems with the notes found in The New Catholic Answer Bible. Recall, the author, Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong, referred to them as "the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB," written by "heterodox, liberal dissidents." Because of these notes, I felt it would be fitting to rename his book, "The New Catholic Right and Wrong Answer Bible."
Armstrong claims his insert notes are orthodox and Catholic, while the detailed verse footnotes put in by Catholic scholars are heterodox and untrustworthy. Mr. Armstrong has given further clarification: Most Catholics who bought The New Catholic Answer Bible don't read the footnotes. Dave says, "So there are some theologically liberal errors to be found in some of the notes; big wow. That's not why readers have (and buy) the Bible in the first place. Most probably don't even read the footnotes. They want the apologetic notes."
I guess I hit the target again. When Catholics start posting threads like this at the Catholic Answers forums, it warms my heart:
Can I have some examples of why the NAB's footnotes are so bad?
Answer 1: "They are detrimental to Catholic Teaching, inclusive language in almost everyone of them and for the fact that not just Catholics, but Protestants translated it as well."
Answer 2: "They are not bad. They are very helpful. They are compatible with mainstream Catholic theology. If you don't like them that is fine, but I don't think it would be the best use of your time to pursue invalidating them."
Well, these Roman Catholics seemed to be concerned about the notes. Well, perhaps you're the type who doesn't want to get caught up in this tedious debate. You'll buy The New Catholic Answer Bible and ignore the notes. At least you'll have Dave's inserts and Biblical text.... or do you? Do you have a Biblical text you can trust? Ben Douglass, a Roman Catholic, stops by my blog now and then. He left a link to an article he wrote on the New American Bible, which is the biblical text used by Armstrong's New Catholic Answer Bible: Wolf in Calfskin: The Rampant Liberalism of the NAB. Douglass points out:
J'accuse: the NAB, in many places, daringly redacts, rearranges, or otherwise mistranslates the sacred text, and it does so in the service of the modernist critical hermeneutic which is revealed in its "perverse" introductions and commentary. These comments repeatedly contradict or call into question the Catholic dogma of the plenary inspiration and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, as well as raising grave doubts about the Catholic dogmas of Christology and Mariology. The NAB refuses Scripture the submission which is due to it according to the Catholic saints: "Holy Scripture is in such sort the rule of the Christian faith that we are obliged by every kind of obligation to believe most exactly all that it contains, and not to believe anything which may be ever so little contrary to it." Indeed, it freely confesses that Scripture is wrong in places and freely disagrees. The NAB charges the Bible with contradiction, concerning which Oecumenius may be quoted as representative of the faith of the whole world: "For nothing could be contradictory in the mouth of the one and the same Spirit." Yet more, it seems that the NAB would have our Lord in ignorance and our Lady in doubt of her faith, which can only eventuate in Catholic readers doubting theirs. This Bible is a danger to the faith of Catholics; it is a near occasion for sin.
For those of you considering a purchase of the NCAB, I suggest reading Ben's essay. It appears, you not only have corrupted notes to deal with, but a corrupted translation as well. This leaves you with purchasing the NCAB for only one reason: DA's mystifying "inserts." Now, of course, the information DA provides in these inserts is probably already on his website somewhere for free. But I guess, if you want to plop down twenty bucks for an untrustworthy Biblical text, with notes putting forth "some theologically liberal errors," go right ahead.
Why though would you buy a Bible and not be able to actually use and trust it? Perhaps the right thing for DA to do at this point would be to gather up his mystifying notes, and print them separately in a small volume. The printing of the NCAB should stop, and a disclaimer should be put forth, that the NCAB has theological poison in it harmful to Roman Catholics. Will DA do this? I doubt it. He's more interested in documenting "Why Folks Are Buying the Bestselling New Catholic Answer Bible." He's more interested in praise for his work. Sure a few people might be confused by liberal wrong notes, and a corrupt translation of the Bible... but so what? In every great work, a few must be sacrificed, right?
If it were me adding notes to a Bible and selling that Bible, I would tremble before the Lord at such an endeavor. I could not in good conscience sell a book that actually corrupted God's word and say of it "The New Catholic Answer Bible is your faith's foundation in Holy Scripture and Catechesis." Then I would admit that I'm not worthy to sell God's word with any of my notes, and that task should be left for those whom God has called to be Biblical scholars, not a guy who simply claims to be an apologist. How can Armstrong add stuff to a Bible, collect cash from it, when he doesn't know Hebrew and Greek? That is arrogance. Why would someone knowingly sell a book containing blatant truth and error at the same time? Mr. Armstrong is a theologian of glory. It's all about the glory of DA.'
Recall, according to Mr. Armstrong I have the following attributes: "clueless, ignorant, dense, know-nothing, slanderer, nit wit, anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention, liar, and spewer of idiotic nonsense."I would rather be all these things than be the person knowingly selling a corrupt translation of the Bible with liberal notes, claiming the product is something a person should own. A theologian of glory would sell such a product, a theologian of the cross would rather starve.
Middle Knowledge - Part 1
04/14/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the first part of what is planned as a multi-part discussion on middle knowledge and free will. This part discusses the fact that God's knowledge is intrinsically simple (undivided) but can be divided extrinsically (as to its objects) into two categories: natural and free. These two categories exhaust all the objects of God's knowledge.
To summarize what I've put in the video, the following are the main points:
1) God's knowledge is, in and of itself, simple and undivided.
2) God's knowledge can be, however, considered by us (theologians) in relation to its objects as either natural or free.
3) Natural Knowledge is God's knowledge of the extent of his own power without considering how God plans to exercise this power. Thus, God knows what God could do, if God so chose to do it. He knows every way that he could exercise his own power, if he wished to exercise it.
4) Free Knowledge is God's knowledge of the actual exercise of his power. That is to say, Free Knowledge is God's knowledge about the world that he has made and the history that he has brought into being, as well as the future that remains to be seen.
Tom Krattenmaker on Ehrman, Me, and "Demonization": A Study in Liberal Media
04/13/2009 - James WhiteSo late on Easter Sunday someone in channel mentions that my name appeared in a USA Today opinion piece. I click on the link and find the graphic to the right. At first I didn't give it a second thought until I noticed that the guy on the left isn't wearing a tie, and hence is dressed just like Bart Ehrman. If that isn't purposeful, it should be! So I am wondering, is this taken from the debate in January? Hard to say.
The piece is titled "Fightin' words," and it is written by Tom Krattenmaker. Here is the bio offered on his website:
I am a Portland-based writer specializing in religion in public life. I write regularly for USA Today's "On Religion" commentary page as a member of the newspaper's editorial Board of Contributors. My work has also appeared in recent years in Salon, the Los Angeles Times, the Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.The sub-title on his website banner is, "on religion in American public life."
A onetime newspaper reporter for the Orange County Register and Associated Press (Minneapolis and Trenton bureaus), I have an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and a master of liberal arts degree in religion in public life from the University of Pennsylvania. By day, I am an administrator at Lewis & Clark College in Portland (which is a very cool school).
Let me say at the start that I would have been happy to talk to Mr. Krattenmaker, had he contacted me. It is always possible that he tried, but could not reach me. I only make myself available for two full hours every week on the DL, etc. But many of these writers have very short deadlines, so I guess there wasn't enough time to get "the other side" of this particular story.
Further, I see no evidence that Mr. Krattenmaker took the time to do more than look at Ehrman's claims. Counter-claims, or even a study of the relevant fields of NT studies, do not seem to find a place in the background research for the article.
The subtitle on the USA Today page reads, "Is the Bible the literal word of God, or a historical compilation written by different people in different situations over a period of years? This question has provoked some soul-searching about the very foundation upon which the Christian faith is based." Of course, the answer to the question is, "It is both." Only reductionists like Ehrman think there is a conflict between the two. The Bible is historically rooted without being limited to a mere narrative of historical events. But that answer is not even allowed at the table, of course, in the modern media.
The main portion of the article focuses upon Bart Ehrman's new book, Jesus, Interrupted, and I show up in the article as one of "Ehrman's chief critics." We would have gladly sent Mr. Krattenmaker a DVD of the debate with Ehrman from just a matter of weeks ago, but no request was made. But that aside, I am at least thankful for a link to the blog which provides to the reader a fairly wide selection of the videos I have provided in response to Bart Ehrman's claims.
Of course, though this is an opinion piece, it would still be nice to see some kind of balance provided in discussing the subject. But none is provided. For example, we have this paragraph offered up:
If the Bible is the literal word of God, Ehrman asks, how could it be inconsistent on so many details large and small? Let's start with an example appropriate to the just-concluded Easter season marking the Savior's death and resurrection: As Jesus was dying on the cross, was he in agony, questioning why God had forsaken him? Or was he serene, praying for his executioners? It depends, Ehrman points out, on whether you're reading the Gospel of Mark or Luke. Regarding Jesus' birthplace of Bethlehem, had his parents traveled there for a census (Luke's version) or is it where they happened to live (Matthew's version)? Did Jesus speak of himself as God? (Yes, in John; no, in Matthew.)If our author is aware of sound, thorough, careful yet believing responses to all of these issues, he doesn't tell us about them. Indeed, I provided the following video in response to the first of Ehrman's pet "problem texts," yet no mention is made of it:
As to the birth narratives, it should be remembered that as in all of Ehrman's criticisms, the one option that is, by nature, dismissed, is that of harmonization. Ehrman says that to harmonize is to show disrespect for the individual gospels. That sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Who would want to do that! But of course, he then uses the lack of harmony as evidence that the Christian faith is bogus! There's a huge leap from "we need to let Matthew and Mark and Luke speak in their own contexts" to "and as a result, we see that they are contradictory and therefore untrue, and unreliable as historical sources." Ehrman uses a partial truth to leap a mile down the wrong road to a complete untruth. Yes, Mark must be allowed to be Mark: he must be allowed to have his own audience, his own purposes. Ironically, Ehrman insists upon only one context and purpose for Mark, while removing him from the early Christian community, a community marked by the continuing presence of the eyewitnesses of the events of Jesus' life. He demands that we accept a theory of slavish literary dependence, where Mark is written first, and Matthew and Luke simply plagiarize him, altering his text as they see fit. The volumes of Christian scholarship contesting this kind of theory (and the resultant abuse of the text) do not even cross Ehrman's radar screen, and hence find no place in this USA Today piece, either.
Now, let me offer a little experiment here. I would love to publicly debate with Ehrman on his attacks on the deity of Christ. Of course, I doubt he would do it, since, as he reminded us in January, he's a historian, not a theologian. Be that as it may, this article demonstrates, once again, how easy it is to enunciate a falsehood and yet how much time it takes to properly refute it. We have, "Did Jesus speak of himself as God? (Yes, in John; no, in Matthew.)" Now, the paragraph from which this is taken contains a grand total of 119 words (according to Pages, anyway). Now, what if Mr. Krattenmaker had taken the time to contact yours truly, and offered me even 119 words to respond to these claims? What would I have said? Well, here are some examples. First, in response to the allegations about Mark and Luke and the "forsaken" Jesus:
Dr. Ehrman ignores the fact that Mark clearly presents Jesus predicting His own death and even speaking of His own burial. He is in fact in complete control in Mark, and His citation of Psalm 22:1 should be understood as being reflective of the Messianic nature of that Psalm and its fulfillment in Him, not as an indication of abandonment. Ehrman's reading forces us to think Luke would contradict Mark while writing for the very same audience that already possessed Mark's gospel. It is only Ehrman's anti-Christian prejudice that precludes his allowing all the data to speak and that forces him to turn Luke and Mark into enemies rather than friends. (113 words)
And another example, this on the allegation that John presents the deity of Christ, while Matthew does not:
As the great Princeton scholar B.B. Warfield pointed out nearly a century ago, the evidence for the deity of Christ found in all four Gospels, Matthew included, is overwhelming. In the original context of Matthew's gospel the words and actions of Jesus clearly transcend any merely human prophet. Ehrman is simply in error to say that the Jews of the first century believed the Son of God was merely a human: while a human could be called one of many sons of God, the language Jesus uses in Matthew (11:27 among others) and all the other gospels shows us He is the Son of God in a unique way, a way that plainly indicates deity. (117)If Mr. Krattenmaker would like to provide these replies in a future piece, I'd be happy to offer them to him!
The major failure of this piece is the ignorance it shows of even the book it is discussing. Note this paragraph:
Ehrman's book has met with a fierce reaction from some quarters, which is understandable. Who among us isn't inclined to fight back when our deepest, most cherished beliefs are challenged? But there is no need to demonize him as a "wolf" on the prowl against the church, as one critic has. His ideas, like so many other new thoughts and new insights that keep coming around with the surety of the seasons, need not be regarded as insults against God or bids to prove the Bible false.As Ehrman himself repeatedly admits, his work is not "new." In fact, the entire promotion for the book includes the assertion that "scholars" (read that liberal, far left scholars) have been saying these things for decades on end. And that is quite true. But modern Americans, ignorant of history, are gullible enough to buy repackaged versions of old arguments, as long as they are advertised well. Just like the worn-out, repudiated, failed arguments about Jesus being a mere parallel to Osiris, or Mithra, or Dionysus, were buried long ago in scholarship, the Internet, and the short memory of the West today, allow them to be dug up, propped up, and called "new" by dishonest purveyors of anti-Christian rhetoric all the time. There is big money in attacking the Christian faith today, to be sure. ...
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And Now from USA Today (Updated)
04/12/2009 - James WhiteIt looks like Google pulled up a few of my blog articles relating to Bart Ehrman. Tom Krattenmaker has written a piece for USA Today titled, "Fightin' words." Included was the following:
One of Ehrman's chief critics is the theologian and author James White, a leading practitioner of apologetics, the branch of theology devoted to defending and proving the orthodox faith. White denounces Ehrman as an apostate guided by deepanti-Christian bias. He charges in one Internet post that Ehrman has "moved far beyond the realm of his narrow expertise in his last three most popular books, all of which are designed to do one thing: destroy Christian faith."I would encourage Mr. Krattenmaker, should he find the time and be so inclined, to watch the debate with Bart Ehrman and see if I had to get "personal" or whether the facts were the focus of the encounter. Further, Ehrman's status as an apostate is front and center in all of his own publications and self-promotion, so I'm a bit uncertain as to the point Mr. Krattenmaker is making.
If criticisms of Ehrman veer toward the personal it's because his evidence - the Bible's own text - is what it is. And there is no denying the inconsistencies he surfaces between the various Gospels and letters that form the New Testament.
There is always trouble afoot when secular media types try to report on such topics. The number of those in the media with sufficient background to even accurately report on the field, let alone do so even handedly, is small indeed. Such is the case here. Rather than reporting the fact that someone such as myself is asserting that Ehrman is only presenting certain facts, and always presenting them with the worst possible spin, Krattenmaker ignores this. Further, he seems to think Ehrman is presenting some "new" viewpoint, when even Ehrman repeatedly says otherwise! Note his words:
Ehrman's book has met with a fierce reaction from some quarters, which is understandable. Who among us isn't inclined to fight back when our deepest, most cherished beliefs are challenged? But there is no need to demonize him as a "wolf" on the prowl against the church, as one critic has. His ideas, like so many other new thoughts and new insights that keep coming around with the surety of the seasons, need not be regarded as insults against God or bids to prove the Bible false.Of course, that was me "demonizing" Ehrman. As is so often the case with reporters, when you look at the context, well---they didn't, or, if they did, they ignored it. Here is the entire article he pulled that phraseology from:
I Don't Do Theology, I'm an Historical Scholar!A little different in context, isn't it? I wonder why Ehrman's quote got lost? Well, we all know why that is.
03/02/2009 - James White
So says Bart Ehrman when you challenge his highly challengeable theological conclusions and claims. Ehrman's new anti-Christian book, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them), is lying on my desk, having just arrived. I flipped the book open to the back and my eyes fell upon this statement:
There is not literally a place of eternal torment where God, or the demons doing his will, will torture poor souls for 30 trillion years (as just the beginning) for sins they committed for thirty years. What kind of never-dying eternal divine Nazi would a God like that be? (p. 276).
Now, aside from the inherent problems (poor souls = innocent souls, the issue of divine justice, the continued hatred of those under punishment for God, etc.) in this common atheistic blast, the real issue is, does this book finally signal the end of Ehrman's "I'm not a theologian, I'm just a high-brow scholar so I cannot be held accountable for all the theological pronouncements I make" excuse making? Will those in the "academy" finally see his real intentions, and start to recognize his bias? Personally, I sort of doubt it. Anyone who is embarrassed by the open profession of the lordship of Christ over the mind will not wish to risk their next invitation to some major conference by pointing out Ehrman's bold anti-Christian zealotry. But churchmen who recognize when a wolf is stalking the sheep will do well to cull some of the whopper statements in this book as excellent examples of the fact that Ehrman is no unbiased textual critical scholar. He has moved far beyond the realm of his narrow expertise in his last three most popular books, all of which are designed to do one thing: destroy Christian faith.
I might note that the quote above would be just as applicable to the Islamic view of the fire as well. Just don't ask Bart about that. As he begins his rounds on NPR, do you think someone will ask him, "So, you are saying Allah in the Qur'an is a never-dying eternal divine Nazi?" Yeah, probably not.
Now, the link provided in the online article connected to my name goes nowhere. But, thankfully, a link to the blog is provided. It is linked to an entire category, but, at least that category has a number of blog articles, and in particular, videos, relating to Ehrman. So, let's hope for the best and that some will find that information and be blessed, despite the expected liberal spin of the article.
Update: Dr. Al Mohler likewise commented on the same article, here.
On Really Believing the Gospel
04/12/2009 - James White
Why aren't you a Roman Catholic? That probably seems like an odd question to many of you. Yet, have you ever considered it? If you are a former Roman Catholic, you might have an answer to that question. But is it a valid answer? A solid answer? If it is an answer that involves "Father Mike was mean to me" or "I really don't like votive candles," then your reasons for leaving are probably less than sufficient.
I am not a Roman Catholic because Roman Catholicism is a false religion. It is headed by an imposter, a man who claims to be something he is not. The Pope is not the Vicar of Christ, he is not the head of the Christian Church, he is not a "Holy Father," and I owe him no fealty, honor, nor respect in the religious sense. Roman Catholicism is a man-made perversion of the truth. While it retains elements of the truth (having moved away from the faith slowly and over a great deal of time), it falls under the condemnation of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1. If the Judaizers were properly anathematized for their additions to the gospel, it is very clear to me that they never came close to dreaming up half the stuff Rome has added to the gospel over the centuries. Nor do we have any evidence that they attacked the sufficiency of Scripture, included grossly unbiblical offices (priests, Cardinals, Popes), or elevated anyone like Mary to the lofty heights of nigh unto divinity that Rome has over the past few centuries. The Papacy has embarrassed the Judaizers in the realm of innovation and gospel-corruption, to be sure.
So I am not a Roman Catholic by positive conviction that the gospel of grace found in Scripture is not the gospel of Rome. My positive conviction of the gospel that saves utterly precludes my consideration of Roman Catholicism, for to embrace that system would require me to abandon all I believe about Scripture (its inspiration, its preservation, its supremacy, its sufficiency), all I believe about the gospel (the sovereign decree of God, the perfection of the atonement, the power of the Spirit in bringing the elect to salvation), all I believe about the church (its form, function, and purpose). In other words, Roman Catholicism is a different religion than I profess. It is not just a variant, "another flavor."
One is either convicted that the gospel is something that matters or not. There really isn't any middle ground. Saying the gospel is important, but, not really definitional, is absurd. It is no wonder that so many today find Paul a disagreeable character, because as far as I can see, I am following very closely in his footprints on this issue. There is a divine gospel whereby God glorifies Himself in the salvation of His elect, and anything less than that isn't the gospel at all. It's a sham, a fraud, a deception. Now that kind of thinking doesn't sit well in a post-modern world, to be sure, where it smacks of "epistemological arrogance." But to say otherwise is to insist that God has not spoken with clarity and that the Lord has not preserved the gospel for His people.
The fact of the matter is that most "Protestants" in the world today are Protestants of taste rather than Protestants of conviction. They just prefer their religion the way they have it. Maybe they don't like old cathedrals, or they don't like backwards collars, or the smell of candles. Maybe they think the Pope's hat is funny. Whatever the reason, they are not Roman Catholics basically because they don't feel like it. They are not convinced that Rome's gospel is false or that her theology is blasphemous. No, they have never really given all of that much thought. They might find the Marian dogmas a bit odd, but in the final analysis, their current religious affiliation is just a matter of taste, nothing more. And let me tell you: those folks are ripe for conversion: either conversion to Rome, or, conversion to apostasy, either one. For if they have no passion for the gospel, they have no passion for Christ, and hence no foundation of faith.
A couple of years ago I wrote a review for the CRI Journal of Mark Noll's book, Is the Reformation Over? While thought provoking, the book was horribly imbalanced and unfair. I only had 775 words, so I could hardly go in-depth in my review. But Carl Trueman from Westminster Seminary had a much less restricted word limit in his review. Toward the end he wrote the following:
When I finished reading the book, I have to confess that I agreed with the authors, in that it does indeed seem that the Reformation is over for large tracts of evangelicalism; yet the authors themselves do not draw the obvious conclusion from their own arguments. Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism; in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic; not being a Catholic should, in others words, be a positive act of will and commitment, something we need to get out of bed determined to do each and every day. It would seem, however, that if Noll and Nystrom are correct, many who call themselves evangelical really lack any good reason for such an act of will; and the obvious conclusion, therefore, should be that they do the decent thing and rejoin the Roman Catholic Church. I cannot go down that path myself, primarily because of my view of justification by faith and because of my ecclesiology; but those who reject the former and lack the latter have no real basis upon which to perpetuate what is, in effect, an act of schism on their part. For such, the Reformation is over; for me, the fat lady has yet to sing; in fact, I am not sure at this time that she has even left her dressing room.
I interpret Trueman to mean "default position" in a historical sense, surely not a biblical sense. Be that as it may, his words touch upon the real problem with so many so-called evangelicals today. Thoroughly infected with a post-modernistic allergic reaction to objective truth and divine revelation, bombarded day and night by naturalistic materialism and its soul-sapping, corrosive effect upon faith, these people live in blissful ignorance of history and the reality of the centrality of the gospel to the event of the Reformation. They are far more likely to be embarrassed by the truth than convicted about it.
A true Protestant is a person who has made that act of will, that act of faith, in purposefully embracing the gospel of grace in opposition to a gospel of works and who recognizes that what he has embraced is fundamentally opposed to what he has rejected. The Apostle put it clearly and bluntly:
4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." (Rom 4:4-8 ESV)
Paul draws a 180 degree contrast between the faith of the one who does to receive and the one who believes. Clearly the Apostle did not think that the one "who works" was holding a "variant" of the same gospel. This was not a matter of mere taste, of preference. The one message saves, the other does not. But there is the rub: today you are strongly denounced by cultural orthodoxy if you think that there is a right and a wrong in matters religious, and even within "churchianity" today, you will gain many a frown by actually thinking we know enough about the gospel to identify anything, no matter how perverse, as "false" and hence "unsaving." And that is even more true in much of "academia."
It is the Easter season, and around this time you hear all about the next crop of celebrity "converts" to Rome. When people leave Rome they rarely get star status for so doing (and they rarely wait till a particular day on the liturgical calendar, either). But the "convert traffickers" like Steve Ray and the Coming Home Network will make a star of anyone. This year we have Newt Gingrich swimming across the Tiber. Do we have any reason to believe he was ever firmly planted on the other side? Not that I know of, but don't expect that to slow down the adoration and triumphalism. But once again, what do "convert" stories prove? Depends on the convert story, of course! When you encounter someone who was knowledgeably convinced of a position and they abandon it and provide sound, fair refutations of the best arguments of their former position, then you can put weight upon the conversion. But without that, all you have is another personal story that is probably a cover for a far more complex set of personal issues that lead a person from one viewpoint to another. The point being that we should not be surprised when people change their tastes. I recently started eating more vegetables. I am sure those who knew me in younger years are in utter shock! But I changed my tastes! Since "personal preference" is the foundation of many a person's religious views, then alteration of those views is hardly a surprising thing. And for the sound thinking person, when those views change, they have little impact upon the truth claims of either the religion left, or the religion embraced--except in the mind of the post-modernist, who acts upon feelings, emotions, or trends, rather than upon objective truth.
So if you really believe the gospel, you really believe the negation of the gospel is evil. Just as the person who loves God and holiness will hate sin, so too the person who really believes the gospel will find its negation, its corruption, its perversion, an object of hatred. Can they remain balanced in not tipping over to the side of those who confuse their own traditions, their own narrow personal preferences with the gospel? Yes, they can, for the Scriptures provide that balance. That danger must be faced as well, which is why we so often challenge people to examine their traditions and hold to sound, challenging, and even difficult standards of exegetical discipline. But the spectre of the shallow minded theological bigot cannot be allowed to force us over into the other extreme of "everyone's personal views are equal, there is no truth, no error." Balance comes from humility before God's Word. And that Word tells us the gospel is definable, knowable, and believable. If we really believe it, we will know what we believe, and why we believe it.
More On How Low Will Rome Go
04/11/2009 - James White
By the way, after recording this I took note that Dave Armstrong decided to join in the fun on the far side of the Tiber. Of course, that's hardly surprising, though no less reprehensible.
Mohamed Did Not Believe that the Old Testament was Corrupt - Part 2
04/11/2009 - Tur8infanMr. Bassam Zawadi has provided an answer (link to answer) to my recent article (link to article), which demonstrated that Mohamed did not know of the currently prevalent Muslim view that the Bible is corrupt. While I appreciate the answer, I must continue to respectfully disagree with Mr. Zawadi.
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The Moving Moral Landscape
04/11/2009 - James WhiteYou may have read Al Mohler's comments on the continuing efforts to overthrow the institution of marriage in the West, found here. The article ends with the question, "Do you not feel it too -- the moral landscape moving under our feet?" Surely the rapid decline of the West is disorienting, and there does seem to have been a tremendous acceleration over the past few years, and in particular, with the election of the new administration. Those who hate God's law have been greatly encouraged, to be sure. The next generation is thoroughly humanistic and naturalistic in its outlook, so far removed from grandparents and even recent history as to be safely insulated from any kind of moral direction or imperative.
Now, one can talk about all the myriad of "causes" of the degradation of Western Society for a very long time. There is much to be learned from how the forces of immorality and humanism have accomplished so much. But there is a simple fact that must be kept in mind: God blesses a nation with peace, prosperity and safety. He curbs the natural evil of men. But when God's wrath comes upon a people, He gives them over to their sin. He removes His hand of restraint, and what truly fills the hearts of men begins to be seen with clarity. He brings disaster upon the nation, some natural, some in the realm of its military (invasion, defeat), or especially its economy.
God's people are supposed to be clear in announcing God's wrath against sin---and it is truly troubling to consider how weak has been the church's announcement of God's judgment upon sin. Rare is the Christian leader who combines clarity of thought and reason with forceful, authoritative proclamation of divine truth. Sure, you'll find lots of hell-fire preachers who wouldn't know a worldview from a lug nut, but they are hardly going to be able to speak to a people intent upon rebellion. And those with the intellectual furniture to see the doom on the horizon (for humanism/naturalism destroys the very essence of the creature, man, that being his recognition of who he truly is as the creation of God) for some reason in our day are often fearful to speak with the authority that once marked the men of God. Instead of being empowered by the recognition of their standing under the Lordship of Christ, many fear the face of men and buy into the "well, you have to avoid offense" mindset. Creatures in rebellion against their Creator will be offended by the proclamation of their guilt. Attempting to avoid that kind of offense results in the kind of double-mindedness and obsequiousness we see in many of the most visible "evangelical" leaders in the media today.
Yes, I know I am saying that we need to be clear and open in proclaiming the judgment of God, yes, the wrath of God, against sin. Yes, I know, the media and Hollywood has a template all set up to use against us, the shallow-thinking religious zealot who is normally a glowing hypocrite to boot. This is nothing new. The true prophets of God in Israel often faced the wrath of the "majority" of even the "religious" of their day. Truth is rarely popular among the children of men. But we have no choice. This society is rushing headlong to destruction, and our job is to proclaim the reality of the cliff that is just around the corner. If we do not do what we are called to do, not only will we not honor our God and His commands, but the blood of those who run around the corner headlong into perdition and destruction will be required of us who sat by, afraid to be warners because we loved ourselves more than we loved God and our neighbors--the very ones we avoided "offending."
An Extra Bar of Soap for Mr. Ray
04/10/2009 - Tur8infanDr. White has already responded to Mr. Ray's latest (see here) but I wanted to address a particular line from Mr. Ray's comment: "Every time I have tangled with him in the past I felt like I needed a shower with a good bar of antibacterial soap."
Now, in context, Mr. Ray means to insult Dr. White. That's perfectly clear, and I don't want his good friend William Albrecht thinking I'm suggesting otherwise. No, it is just one of a significant number of hostile remarks that Mr. Ray provided. But there is a certain irony to it.
After all, we've been exhorting Mr. Ray over and over again to clean up his act.
And guess what: that advice has never been more timely. Mr. Ray: clean up your act. Like when someone comments on your blog: "Why did you find it appropriate to bring such a tragic family issue into this? Is this not the same as when others try to use clergy abuse to refute catholicism?" Don't respond, as you did, "STEVE RAY HERE: BECAUSE WHITE BROUGHT IT UP ... ." We all know you brought it up and Dr. White responded to it.
That makes you a liar. That's not an insult, that's not a personal attack, though it is a criticism of the way you've been acting. If we could clean up your act by giving you a nice fresh bar of antibacterial soap, we would, but the kind of truth-telling problem is a sin, and requires a stronger soap.
Recall the words of the prophet:
Malachi 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
Mr. Ray: clean up your act. Get right with Christ now. The soap that fullers used to use (think bleach) is not strong enough to remove your sins, but if you repent of your sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation, his blood can make you whiter than snow - both forensically (as to justification) and actually (as to progressive sanctification). Consider, Mr. Ray, placing your trust in Christ alone rather than in your church - give up Rome for Christ, and Christ will not let you down.
Yesterday on The Dividing Line
04/10/2009 - James WhiteTook a great call on OT studies and the general slide into liberalism in that field, played a section on the Islamic view of intercession and how Islam parallels in Muhammad many of the key offices of Jesus, and finished with a call on the topic of inerrancy and textual variation. Here's the program.
Was Anyone Saved at the Cross?
04/10/2009 - James WhiteThe folks at Reformed Baptist Fellowship have posted one of the articles I wrote decades ago on the issue of the atonement. It looks great, so I wanted to link to it here.
Bart Ehrman on the Colbert Show
04/10/2009 - James White
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Colbert wins, hands down. Bart takes it good naturedly. But when you only get a few words in edge-wise, you are going to try to go for your "best stuff." You may find the extensive review Ben Witherington is offering of Jesus, Interrupted quite useful (Part 1, Part 2), especially since Witherington and I would hardly be theological bedfellows, yet, he sees the same imbalance that I have noted, and he likewise raises the issue of why a textual critic is basically handed carte blanche to run amuck through the entire NT field of study. [Note: I have been playing with the idea of organizing my response to Ehrman canonically, sort of like Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, except using Ehrman's favorite texts, as presented in Misquoting Jesus and Jesus, Interrupted as the source material. I think this might assist especially college and university students in accessing the information].
In any case, if you would like to see Ehrman's facile assertion that Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not present a divine portrait of Jesus refuted with depth and fullness--and that nearly a hundred years ago--you will want to read B.B. Warfield's classic work, The Lord of Glory. Compare Ehrman's surface level argumentation with Warfield's in-depth scholarship and rejoice that truth abides even during times of degradation and apostasy.
More On the Pathetic State of "Apologetics" for Rome
04/10/2009 - James WhiteI fully expected Steve Ray to avoid any meaningful response to a critique of his many errors and falsehoods, and he has not disappointed. Nor am I surprised that instead of standing up and actually defending his reprehensible behavior and his simple dishonesty, he has chosen to let someone else, a layman without the first semblence of meaningful training in any relevant field, let alone even a basic grasp of the issues, to offer a "defense," William Albrecht (whose numerous errors and generally incoherent presentations have been repeatedly exposed here and in other places). Ray doesn't even have the integrity to lie well in his response. Compare what I actually said about him (and the repeated documentation of his theological and historical blunders) with his response:
Anti-Catholic James White has demonstrated a frantic obsession with me over the last few years based on what people have told me about his blog and radio shows. People tell me he claims I am irrelevant and unimportant yet to the contrary I am told he is quite infatuated and spends an inordinate amount of time trying to refute and challenge me. I don't pay much attention. I consider him a whiny, egotistical bore and a huge waste of time. I basically ignore him and his infatuation with me. Every time I have tangled with him in the past I felt like I needed a shower with a good bar of antibacterial soap.Well there you go! I truly feel refuted! But let's face it, that's all Ray has. Bluster, insult, dishonesty. And remember, he's a regular on the Catholic apologetics circuit. Truly speaks volumes, does it not?
The Atonement of Christ Debate
04/09/2009 - Jeff DownsOn June 25, 2002 Dr. Joseph Pipa, Jr. and Mr. Dave Hunt debated the topic of the atonement. It is been quite sometime since this debate has been available online. As of today, this debate can be downloaded from the Greenville Seminary audio site:
Part 1 and Part 2.
Frank Beckwith: Wading in the Tiber on Sola Scriptura
04/09/2009 - James White
Steve Ray on Tony Blair
04/08/2009 - James WhiteAs Tur8inFan noted a clear example of Ray's double standards earlier today, I just ran across another example here. Ray notes that Tony Blair, who converted to Rome in 2007, has criticized Rome's teachings on homosexuality. He opines, "We want more Protest-ants to convert and join us, but not if they bring their 'protest' with them. Leave it behind or go back where it is welcome!"
But wait! Isn't this the same Steve Ray who has assured us that the source of disagreement and dispute is sola scriptura? This is the same Steve Ray who, even after full documentation of the dishonesty of the "33,000 denominations produced by sola scriptura" fraud, continued to defend it? So, how can Tony Blair, a Roman Catholic, not be in perfect harmony with Rome's teachings? Is it possible that despite the clarity of Rome's position on the topic, he still chooses to disagree? But wait, that would render Rome's entire magisterium invalid on Ray's own principles, for he has said it is sola scriptura that is to blame for all those differences amongst Protestants! Of course, that won't work, and what you will get will be the "We have one standard in support of Mother Church, and another for...the rest of you" defense. Ah, the glory of Rome!
A New Tie!
04/08/2009 - James WhiteI like designing ties that have a particular relevance to a particular debate, so I just made this one up for the Barker debate in a few weeks. I typed up the text of 1 Corinthians 1:18-30 in the uncial font that is based upon the handwriting of P46, the great early manuscript of Paul's letters. Only Romans 1 is as relevant to a debate with an atheist as this portion of Scripture. If you would like to see it a little better, you can do so here. Since I typed this one up myself, I made it so that aside from the necessary "bleed" off the edges, pretty much the entirety of the text is fully readable (if you read uncial text Greek anyway). Normally you only get a "swath" of the text, but by trying real hard I managed to get almost all of the text onto the tie in readable form. Enjoy!
Steve Ray and Magisterial Double Standards
04/08/2009 - Tur8infanMr. Steve Ray, whom you'll remember from Dr. White's video in the immediately preceding blog post, despite supposedly "fasting from blogging and blog reading for Lent," has provided two recent blog posts in which he illustrates the fact that Roman Catholic apologetics can impair one's ability to think straight:
a) According to Ray, Warren flip-flopped on homosexuality because he lacks a Magisterium (link);
b) According to Ray, the Roman Catholic senators who voted against a conscience exception amendment in abortion cases did so because they are "stupid" and "wicked" (link).
Does anyone else notice the double-standard?
When a single "Protestant" does something bad (and I in no way endorse Rick Warren's flip-flop), it is proof of the failure of Sola Scriptura, but when 16 Roman Catholic senators do something bad (and only 9 do the right thing) it is because they are individually wicked and/or stupid. Do you see the problem with Ray's thought process? The bias there should be evident to even the most simple of readers.
Finally, while we have Mr. Ray on the hook, let's take a quick peek at the argument he uses against Warren. Ray writes:
Beauty of NOT having a Magisterium ... ... is that you don't have to have any solid positions, morals, or theology. You can waffle and change your mind. God has no opinion (obviously, or so think many) so you donít have to worry about what He might think.(see first link above, double-ellipsis in original)
a) Remember the Crusades? Seemed like a good idea to the "magisterium" of the day. Not so much these days. Is Mr. Ray willing to concede that the Roman church does not have any solid positions, morals, or theology? Of course not. Mr. Ray would never concede such a thing. But he's quite willing to throw stones at Mr. Warren's error.
b) This comment of Ray's is part of a larger propaganda campaign within Catholicism to suggest that the two choices are their magisterium or moral relativism. This false dichotomy is not just illogical it is absurd. There is a "What We Believe" page at Rick Warren's church's website. Among a number of articles, that site says:
The Bible is Godís word to all men. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is truth without any mixture of error.(source)
Now, (out of wickedness, stupidity, fear of men, an overly soft heart, or whatever) Mr. Warren may not faithfully follow his own statement of beliefs, but there they are. He claims that the Bible is truth without any mixture of error, and that God speaks through it to all men. God's opinion does matter, even though Mr. Warren gets things wrong, for whatever reason he does.
I know that may burst Mr. Ray's polemical bubble, but Mr. Ray needs to be spurred on to a balanced and honest polemic and away from his double-standards and irrational propaganda.
Steve Ray, Patty Bonds, and the State of Roman Catholic Apologetics
04/08/2009 - James White
Yesterday on The Dividing Line
04/08/2009 - James WhiteStarted off the program with a call from Dublin, Ireland on how to avoid being a "cage-stage Calvinist," that was quite useful. Also listened to Dan Barker claiming Calvin preached from the KJV, and finished the program with a discussion of "kufir" in Islamic theology. Here's the program.
The Ehrman DVDs Are Here!
04/07/2009 - James WhiteThe FedEx man just delivered our first order of the debate DVDs. I am very thankful for the hard work put into making this available. My opening presentation has been very well incorporated into the video of my speech. Very easily readable. I think you all will enjoy it! Get copies for any student heading off to school! Give one to your pastor and to all your elders! Oh, and it is OK to have one for yourself, too! Get yours here.
Tim Janis' New CD
04/06/2009 - James WhiteI had the privilege of spending some time with well known composer Tim Janis last October. We have stayed in contact since then. I have all of his many albums in my music collection, and truly enjoy listening to his artistry.
Tim just let me know that he has a new CD out of instrumental hymns, Amazing Love. If you enjoy lush instrumental music, especially the flute/recorder with an orchestral background, you'll love these settings of such hymns as Come Thou Fount, Holy Holy, Holy, and a favorite around our church, This is My Father's World.
We are not carrying the CD, but I wanted to let folks know about my friend's music. You can listen for yourself and order the CD, here. Enjoy!
The Earth is Flat, and the Qur'an Proves It
04/06/2009 - James WhiteSunday morning I was talking with a brother at church whose heritage is Iraqi, and he was telling me about a YouTube video showing parts of a debate that was very popular in Iraq. The subject? Is the Earth Flat? The debaters are both college professors. The man defending a flat earth does so on the basis of the Qur'an. When I came home lo and behold David Wood had posted the video. Here it is.
I'm sure many in the US are utterly amazed that this kind of argumentation is going on today in light of satellites and the like (just how DOES this GPS computer of mine get me to within a couple of feet of where I want to go?). There are obviously many, many Muslims who are fully aware of the reality of the modern world and who will only shake their heads at the idea of someone defending a flat earth on the basis of the Qur'an. Were there not Christians who did the same? But here is the question: given the over-arching legal power of Sharia, what internal corrective mechanism is there in Islam to allow the refutation of these kinds of people who refuse to read the Qur'an in any other way than as it was read by the first generations of Muslims? That is something to ponder when one speaks of "moderate" Islam.
The New Catholic (Right and Wrong) Answer Bible
04/03/2009 - James SwanIt was a little over year ago while skimming through the books at Borders that I came across The New Catholic Answer Bible (Wichita: Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005). Similar to someone impulsively looking at dogs and cats on pet adoption day, I couldn't resist, and took it home with me. It wasn't until I did a few web searches that I was able to figure out exactly who put this thing together. It's a collaboration between Dr. Paul Thigpen, editor of The Catholic Answer magazine, My Daily Catholic Bible (Our Sunday Visitor) and Dave Armstrong (a self-proclaimed Catholic apologist).
Recently, Mr. Armstrong took a strong dislike to my blog entry, "We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #9. In that entry, I pointed out that the Bible contributions of Thigpen and Armstrong don't seem to match up to the commentary notes of The New Catholic Answer Bible. Armstrong has finally let us know why. He refers to them as "...the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB...". Armstrong says,
"As we have come to sadly expect, the know-nothing anti-Catholic crowd (being dense as they always are about Catholic topics) would rather cite heterodox, liberal dissidents than orthodox popes and orthodox Catholic commentaries. That fits in nicely with their slanderous agenda. But the truth is far different."
When one visits the homepage for The New Catholic Answer Bible, we're told the following:
"Fireside is proud to introduce The New Catholic Answer Bible- New American Bible-Ideal for:RCIA - Religious Education -Confirmation -Bible Study- Youth Ministry -High Schools & Universities. Benefits: -Provides for a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith -Presents inquiring questions for class discussion -Teaches the roots, tradition and rituals of the faith Translation-"
That's very impressive, is it not? After reading this, one is given the assurance of a quality book of factual information. Indeed, you'll be getting the best Catholic answers, right at your fingertips, along with the biblical text. You'll' have study Bible guiding you toward "a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith." Just think of the possibilities... a Catholic could walk into any Protestant Bible study with The New Catholic Answer Bible, and be ready to defend the one true church. You could use this Bible in high schools and universities, to learn and defend the Catholic faith! The back cover boldly states, "The New Catholic Answer Bible is your faith's foundation in Holy Scripture and Catechesis."
The commentary notes though used by the Thigpen / Armstrong New Catholic Answer Bible are, according to DA "the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB," written by "heterodox, liberal dissidents." That is... not very comforting. Are we to assume the "answers" given in the NCAB commentary notes are not intended by Armstrong and Thigpen to be correct answers? I suggest they rename this book, "The New Catholic Right and Wrong Answer Bible. Armstrong and Thigpen should also explain why the reference material for the NAB was given the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: "The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free from doctrinal or moral error." Perhaps those granting it don't have the same criteria used by Dave to determine "heterodox, liberal dissidents." In fact, the declaration goes on to say, "No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur agree with the content, opinions or statements expressed." Now that's the beauty of being Rome- you can affirm and deny so as to cover all bases.
Of course, Mr. Armstrong included his usual kindness. I'm part of the "know-nothing anti-Catholic crowd (being dense as they always are about Catholic topics)." I put forth my "usual clueless ignorance." He says I'm "spewing idiotic nonsense." "Pointing out simple facts because an anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention from our ranks can't get them right to save his life is neither "debate" nor "dialogue" (as if that even needs to be pointed out). I suggest that this nitwit (with -- of all things -- a philosophy degree yet!!) pull out the closest dictionary to get up to speed on definitions." Yes, the kindness of Catholic apologists, topped off with the charge, "Lying (especially about brothers in Christ), is a very serious sin, and bearing false witness is forbidden in the Ten Commandments."
Speaking of lying, a while back, someone asked Dave, "Dave, New challenge for you. James Swan posted an article on 3-3-09 where he argues 2 Macc 12 is not a clear reference to Purgatory. You might enjoy refuting his comments, especially because he cites you by name and says you're wrong." Dave responded,
Thanks for the info, but I no longer waste time debating anti-Catholic sophists. When I did do so, for 12 years, almost all of them ran every time they faced an opposing argument. For the few who managed to not run, it was all sophistry and obscurantism. That is most unimpressive and irksome, so I have given up. I continue to make my own arguments but I don't bother with theirs anymore, because they never defend them when challenged. One has to understand how to rationally, properly assert and defend arguments. I don't have time for that. I want to dialogue with people who have some semblance of intellectual confidence in their positions.
See also this link.
But then, to make it all "Christian" Mr. Armstrong turns the other cheek and states, "Pray for this self-deluded person and all like him. They are in a very bad spiritual state, to keep doing these things. There's always hope, and they are fellow Christians, but they need much prayer. Ask the Blessed Virgin Mary in particular, to intercede on their behalf, and apply Lenten penances to their souls." Such is the world of conservative orthodox Catholic apologists like Dave Armstrong. How would Dave's prayer go? Based on Dave's comments, I've put together a prayer. Perhaps it could be something like, "Dear Mary, please help this clueless, ignorant, dense, know-nothing, slanderer, nit wit, anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention, liar, and spewer of idiotic nonsense stop quoting the notoriously liberal notes (with the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur) for the NAB. Help him to see (and embrace), the true Catholic faith found in those sections of our Answer Bible that agree with what we deem correct by orthodox scholars and Catholic commentaries.
On the DL Today: Text of Hebrews 1:8, Jehovah's Witnesses, Molinism and More!
04/02/2009 - James WhiteA wide ranging program once again! Here's the program.
04/02/2009 - James White
"We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #9
04/01/2009 - James Swan
Catholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium and church Tradition in order to interpret the Bible correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible. Let's see how they've been able to rightly divide the word of truth. Especially interesting is the divide between Rome's apologists and scholars as to the meaning of the biblical text.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
I've mentioned Catholic interpretations of Revelation 12 a number of times. Recently, Tim Staples provided his understanding of the identity of the woman in Revelation 12. You can listen to Tim's explanation here. This answer was given in the context of proving Marian dogmas. According to Mr. Staples, Mary is the "new Eve" in the earliest writings of the church fathers because "we have such a such a clear reference in the book of Revelation to the woman who gives birth to the messiah being referenced as the new Eve." Staples also says Revelation 12 parallels Genesis chapter 3.
As to the early church fathers all knowing the woman in Revelation 12 was a clear reference to Mary, Some of Rome's historians appear to hold a much different view. Luigi Gambero says it might have been Epiphanius (after 310; died in 403): who was the first: "The identification of the woman of the Apocalypse with the Virgin Mary is interesting. It may be the first Marian interpretation of the scriptural text" [Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999) p. 126]. On the other hand, Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M. thinks it was Tychonius (370 /390):
"Tychonius, a lay theologian among the Donatists, independent enough to be excommunicated by his own sect, seems to have identified Mary with the woman of Apoc. 12, and to have spoken of a 'great mystery' in her regard." [Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., Mariology, Volume 1 (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1955), p. 148]. In the footnote #180 for this citation, Carol says, 'Tychonius' view is transmitted by Cassiodorus, Complexiones in Apocalypsin, n. 16; PL, 70, 1411."
Latin text for Cassiodorus: De matre vero atque Domino Jesu Christo, et de diaboli adversitate pauca perstringit, futuris praeterita jungens: dicens, Deum ascendisse ad caelos, matrem vero ipsius aliquanto tempore in secretioribus locis esse servandam, ut eam illic pascat annis tribus, et semis; quod in magnum sacramentum, sicut Tychonius refert, constat edictum. Apocalypsis Sancti Joannis, ß16, PL 70:1411B.
Do Catholic scholars agree with Mr. Staples that the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary? Raymond Brown interprets Revelation 12 as, "The woman clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet and on her head the crown of twelve stars, represents Israel, echoing the dream of Joseph in Gen. 37:9 where these symbols represent his father (Jacob/Israel), his mother, and his brothers (the sons of Jacob who were looked on as ancestors of the twelve tribes)" [Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), p.790]. Brown points out that in "subsequent theology, especially in the Middle Ages, the woman clothed with the sun was identified with Mary the mother of Jesus)" [p. 790, footnote 32]. This would be contrary to Staples claim that the earliest church fathers saw this passage referring to Mary. Brown also says the parallel is to Genesis chapter 37, not chapter 3 as Staples insists.
The New Catholic Answer Bible commentary notes on Revelation 12 state, "The woman adorned with the sun, the moon , and the stars (images taken from Gn 37, 9-10) symbolizes God's people in the Old and the New Testament. The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah (5) and then became the new Israel, the church, which suffers persecution by the dragon (6. 13-17); cf Is 50, 1;66, 7; Jer 50, 12. This corresponds to a widespread myth throughout the ancient world that a goddess pregnant with a savior was pursued by a horrible monster; by miraculous intervention, she bore a son who then killed the monster" [The New Catholic Answer Bible (Wichita: Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005) p. 1384]. Similar to Brown and contrary to Staples, the parallel is to Genesis chapter 37, not chapter 3.
The commentary notes for The New Catholic Answer Bible were written by Catholic scholars, while the Watchtower-esque color inserts scattered throughout this study Bible were compiled by Dave Armstrong and Paul Thigpen. Insert E4 states, "In St. John's vision of heaven, the 'woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, bore a son 'destined to rule all the nations' (Rv 12:1, 5). Is it any wonder that in such a portrait, Catholics see Mary, Queen of Heaven?" Well, there is indeed wonder here- it is a wonder why Rome's scholars see one thing, while her apologists see another.