Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
No Time to Slow Down!
08/31/2010 - James WhiteBack to Phoenix (I hope whoever rifled one of my checked bags at JFK and stole one of my Flip Video cameras, with half of the footage of the Silverman debate last night, enjoys watching the debate on their stolen camera---and no, I can't see that they took anything else, but, having been the victim of theft in the past, I realize it sometimes takes a while to realize other items are missing. My hope is whoever it was had to keep it small which is why they did not take other things in the bag). You know you are traveling too much when you do not even bother putting your luggage away upon unpacking it. I head out to Santa Fe for a double-header with Robert Sungenis a week from Thursday evening (the debates are on Friday). I appreciate Jamin Hubner's comments on last night's debate. It was---educational! Mr. Silverman wishes to take me up on my invitation to debate the origins of Christianity (he holds to the Osiris, Dionysius, "all borrowed from the pagans" theory that is so easily demonstrated to be false). But first I need to send him my debate with Dan Barker on a similar topic. Be that as it may, the encounter was enlightening, and I am glad Jonathann Weingarten, who video taped both debates, has a good recording of it. The audio should be outstanding on last night's debate, since he was able to plug directly into the sound system. I note that the live streaming quality was outstanding as well, due to my finding a setting to greatly enhance the volume. The location was perfect (easy to get to, the room is perfect for debate). All in all a great evening. Many thanks to Chris Arnzen, Dan Buttafuoco, Jonathan, Brian, and everyone else, for making the weekend possible.
I barely have 48 hours from the time I get home from the Sungenis debates before I will be teaming up with Michael Brown to debate Sir Anthony Buzzard and Dr. Good on the subject of Trinitarianism vs. Unitarianism. That should be quite the evening (Tuesday the 14th). I then have about ten days before doing a Skype debate on ABN, hopefully with Abdullah Kunde (the current name given to me as my Islamic opponent that evening). So as you can see, I don't have a moment's rest for the foreseeable future! Lots and lots of study and preparation, on a very, very wide range of topics (which makes it all the more challenging). I do get about three weeks "off" without a debate before the purgatory debate with Sungenis in Oregon, but then I only have a matter of days before heading to Lima, Peru! I've scheduled a return to both St. Louis and Detroit in early December, doing the Jesus or Muhammad Marathon again, live, on ABN. Don't forget the Polemics class in January, and please be praying about joining with us to get me to London in February. I have a complete breakdown scheduled for March!
Now I think I will go look for a more secure roller bag with big TSA compliant locks...
08/30/2010 - Jeff DownsGreenville Seminary is hosting a class on Islam the week of September 6-10. The instructor is Anees Zaka is founder and senior missionary of Church Without Wall, based in Philadelphia, PA. He is authored numerous books including this one, reviewed here and this book both published by P&R. You can listen to Zaka preach on "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name by clicking here.
I received an Email regarding the class stating "This class is available for audit and Dr. Zaka's church has graciously offered to cover the audit fees for members of the community who would like to attend." So, if anyone is interested in taking the course, seating and scholarships is limited. If interested, contact the registrar at GPTS.
This Islam class is now on a regular rotation (it is a required M.Div course) in our curriculum; I'm pushing to have Dr. White teach this class in the future. :)
Monday Miscellaneous--From New York
08/30/2010 - James WhiteFirst, please pray for the debate this evening on Long Island. I have found a setting on the little streaming PC that should make the audio much clearer and louder for those who will wish to listen live on the regular DL link. I should have it fired up and running by 7pm EDT (unless I have to run solely on batteries, at which time I will hold off till closer to 7:30pm).
Next, our good friend Clyde Bauman, the genius behind Mylo Hatzenbuhler, has produced a wonderful new album that I've been enjoying for a couple of weeks now, Prairie Memories. I hope to have Clyde on the DL in the near future to talk about it. You can check out his album, and hear clips, here. Be careful though, I've been humming "Lord of the Rolling Hills" ever since I first heard it!
Finally, Carla Rolfe has updated the AOMin gear store, and you can find her great designs here. I especially like the Theology Matters design. That's a conversation starter! I think her next design might be, "Don't Be Quotin' No Pseudo Augustine to Me!" or maybe, "Thomas, Thomas, Check Your Sources Thomas!"
The White-Ferrara Marian Debate - Some Follow-Up
08/30/2010 - Tur8infanOn Saturday, August 28, 2010, Dr. James White debated Mr. Christopher Ferrara on the topic of Mary's alleged sinlessness and immaculate conception. While the debate audio/video are not (to my knowledge) yet available for purchase, here are a few points that I'd like to address.
1) Does Ineffabilis Deus lie about the patristic testimony?
During the debate, Dr. White brought up the fact that Ineffabilis Deus lies in claiming that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is something that was passed down from ancient times. Mr. Ferrara alleged that the doctrines that were passed down were simply doctrines that form some kind of alleged basis for the doctrine, such as the view of Mary as "the new Eve."
However, Ineffabilis Deus itself states:
And indeed, illustrious documents of venerable antiquity, of both the Eastern and the Western Church, very forcibly testify that this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, which was daily more and more splendidly explained, stated and confirmed by the highest authority, teaching, zeal, knowledge, and wisdom of the Church, and which was disseminated among all peoples and nations of the Catholic world in a marvelous manner -- this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine.(Ineffabilis Deus)(emphasis added)
From this, it can be seen that the claim "this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine" is in direct reference not to the "new Eve" idea or any other pre-requisite doctrine or interpretation, but specifically in reference to "this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin."
As Dr. White demonstrated during the debate, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception did not always exist, was not a doctrine that was received from the eary patristic period, and is not rightly to be considered a revealed doctrine (just as it was not considered a revealed doctrine in Aquinas' time)
2) Thomas Aquinas' (and Christopher Ferrara's) Reliance on Pseudo-Augustine
During the debate, Christopher Ferrara raised as allegedly a work by Augustine, the work referenced by Thomas Aquinas in the following sentence: "But as Augustine, in his tractate on the Assumption of the Virgin, argues with reason, since her body was assumed into heaven, and yet Scripture does not relate this; so it may be reasonably argued that she was sanctified in the womb." (Summa Theologica, 3rd Part, Question 27, Article 1)
The Cambridge University Press 2006 edition (essentially a reprint of the edition released by the English Dominicans in the 1960's and 1970's) provides the following footnote for that sentence: "Tract on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, in the Preface: PL 40, 1141."
The reference PL 40, 1141 is a reference to column 1141 of volume 40 of Migne's Latin Patrology (PL). In Migne's PL, one finds that Migne has designated this work as "incerti auctoris," meaning that the authorship is uncertain (link to evidence).
Allan Fitzgerald O.S.A., editor of Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, does not include the work in his list of Augustine's works, and the work is usually cited as "Pseudo-Augustine" in works that cite it.
For example, internationally renowned Mariologist (and Marianist priest) Luigi Gambero writes:
The text in question is one mistakenly attributed to St. Augustine, published in PL 40, 1140-48. It has been studied by G. Quandrio, Il trattato "De Assumptione B. M. B." dello Pseudo-Agostino e il suo influsso nella teologia assunzionistica latina, Analecta Gregoriana 7 (Rome, 1951).- Luigi Gambero, Mary in the Middle Ages, p. 78, footnote 15. ...
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Most Common Heard Statement on Evangelical Seminary Campuses...it Seems
08/28/2010 - Alan Kurschner"I don't agree with Barth, but I think we can learn a lot from him."
Live Stream Should be Up Tonight, 5:45pm EDT
08/28/2010 - James WhiteI hope to have the stream up and running between 5:45 and 6pm tonight, EDT for the debate on the sinlessness and immaculate conception of Mary. I need to conserve battery power, as I haven't replaced the external battery I was using to extend its life (I need to do that asap!). The debate is taking place at a Roman Catholic location, so I am wondering what kind of audience mixture we will have.
And on a geek note, did you know you can use an iPad as a second monitor? Though I have mine plugged in here, that is only for charging the battery. Here my iPad is a secondary monitor on my MacBook Pro. I have the PDF from which I'm pulling citations on the iPad, and the KeyNote screen on my main unit. Very useful while traveling! (The app is called Air Display).
Open Phones on the Dividing Line
08/26/2010 - James WhiteStarted off noting that Elmer Towns says Ergun Caner's "punishment" fits the "problem," then took three calls, one from Estonia relevant to Islam, one on King James Onlyism, one on the nature of hell. All three were very encouraging calls. Here's the program.
Full Moon Setting / SermonAudio App for Droid
08/25/2010 - James WhiteSnapped this picture about 30 miles into a 42 miler this morning. That full moon had made the completely dark portion of the ride---less than completely dark! It was really gorgeous. Amazingly, though it was 88 degrees, the wind made it feel almost cool at times (I am going to freeze when the temp drops into the 70s!). So as the sun was rising we got a real good view of a full moon as it was heading toward setting. Still the greatest time of day to be up and about, that's for sure!
On a completely, and I do mean completely, different topic: Steven Lee of SermonAudio.com let me know that they just released their new Droid App. I put it on my Incredible and it works great! Very good looking app, well made. If you are a fellow Droid user, I highly recommend it!
Peter Stravinskas Threatens to Sue Alpha and Omega Ministries
08/24/2010 - James WhitePeter Stravinskas is threatening to bring legal action against us. Why? For a single blog article and my reporting that the proposed debate between us was cancelled. You can find the discussion of what happened and how I reported it here. Notice the terrible and libelous things I said there! I said the debate had been "scrubbed." I said Stravinskas "decided he would not debate." I noted a number of (false) statements he had made in talking to Chris Arnzen (who contacted him about doing the debate in the first place), including alleging I had "packed" the audience with my supporters, etc. I reported that he was offended by my posting of three YouTube clips from the debate. I reposted one of them, the audience question Stravinskas answered very foolishly. Then I noted that I had offered to send Stravinskas the 2001 debate, as well as an unedited master of the video recording that would be made of the proposed debate.
But then I narrated the real issue here. Stravinskas demanded that he have the right to determine what would, and what would not, be posted on line from the debate. As I said at the time, Peter Stravinskas is the first person in my approximately one hundred moderated, public debates, to make such a demand. No other Roman Catholic has ever made such a demand. No Muslim, Mormon, Oneness Pentecostal, atheist, or liberal, has ever made such a demand. Evidently, Peter Stravinskas is still smarting, badly, over how badly he performed in 2001. In any case, as soon as Chris Arnzen told me of Stravinskas' demand, I informed Chris that I would send him our regular video contract, which everyone else has found perfectly acceptable. I then wrote an e-mail and sent it to Chris to forward to Stravinskas when he felt it was time to address the final arrangements for the debate. Since Stravinskas is demanding I remove the above referenced blog article (despite the fact that any semi-rational person can recognize that it simply narrates events, and contains nothing even remotely actionable), I here provide the relevant e-mails, so that the public at large, including Roman Catholics, can judge for themselves why it is we have been able to arrange debates in the past with a wide range of Roman Catholic apologists, while only Stravinskas seems to have "issues" (of course, we have had "issues" in the past, but always with Roman Catholics who refused to give us video tapes of debates they had lost). First, here is the e-mail I sent to Chris to forward to Stravinskas on the video issue (my e-mail files show this dated July 20th, 2010): ...
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Today on Radio Free Geneva!
08/24/2010 - James WhiteWent over Chosen But Free Three on the DL today, looking at the abject failure of Norman Geisler to provide a meaningful or scholarly response to the criticisms of his work that have piled up over the past decade since it first appeared. Took one call on Ephesians 2:8 and wrapped it up! Here's the program.
Cling to the Cross: A Gospel Message for Muslims
08/24/2010 - James WhitePlease share this with your Muslim friends, family, co-workers.
Answering Islam Episodes Posted by ABN (Aramaic Broadcasting Network)
08/23/2010 - James WhitePlease pray for the great folks at ABN (www.abnsat.com). Believe me, you get a lot of opposition when you take the stands they do on Islam. I just booked my flights to return to ABN in December after speaking (for the eleventh year!) at the Covenant of Grace Church in St. Charles December 3-5, 2010. I will be on ABN December 6-8, Lord willing. Here are the episodes from this week, in case you missed them live:
(Note: I left graphics to be used for a new opening and closing for the recorded series we have been working on, as we recognize the opening and closing currently in use is not quite...on theological topic).
Radio Free Geneva Tomorrow: Chosen But Free Three Arrives!
08/23/2010 - James WhiteI returned from Detroit to find the 3rd edition of Chosen But Free waiting for me. I have only had limited time to look over it, but I've seen enough to want to review it tomorrow on the DL, and that means...Radio Free Geneva! Join us at 11am to find out about what happened to the horrible Gail Riplingeresque appendix responding to The Potter's Freedom (it has disappeared without notification or comment--ironic, given how much Ergun Caner depended on that very appendix back in 2005/2006 in attacking TPF), and also to discover that "moderate Calvinism" has been replaced with the wonderfully fair and helpful new phrase, "the Balanced View" (BV). Yes, friends, evangelical synergism is now the "balanced view." Also, "extreme Calvinism" has become "the extreme sovereignty view" (if that doesn't strike you as odd, think for a moment---what is "moderate sovereignty"?). And though my name appears nowhere in the index, nor does The Potter's Freedom appear in the bibliography (!), there are a small handful of citations, and a couple of attempted responses. Tune in to hear the "new" argumentation on Matthew 23:37! So join us for a Radio Free Geneva tomorrow on the Dividing Line!
The Mediator: Hebrews 8
08/23/2010 - James White
2010 God and Culture Conference on Apologetics
08/21/2010 - Tur8infanThe 2010 God and Culture Conference on Apologetics was held today, Saturday, August 21, 2010, at the Oakbrooke Bible Church, in Waterford, Michigan. Thanks to some speedy recording and uploading, the audio from the conference is already available. As you will note, Dr. White spoke during two of the sessions.
- Session One: Pastor Christopher Brooks
- Session Two: Dr. James White
- Session Three: Pastor Kent Clark
- Session Four: Pastor Paul Edwards
- Session Five: Dr. James White
God and Culture Presentations
08/21/2010 - James WhiteI am preaching at the God and Culture Conference in Waterford, Michigan. Great turn out (sold out)! They are posting the presentations within 15 minutes of when they finish, so, you can sort of keep up with us here. I preached on 1 Peter 3:15 this morning, and will speak on Islam at 3:15pm EDT.
"Discussion" with Ehteshaam Gulam
08/20/2010 - James WhiteI had not intended to utilize this material. I commented on what brought this "discussion" about right after it took place, here. This morning Mr. Gulam posted on our Facebook page a question. He asked why I was "hiding" our "debate." Well, this isn't a debate, of course, and we have been hiding nothing. I was given the DVD of this encounter, as well as the one with Sheikh Ahmed Awal, last evening, before we began recording the next episodes of Answering Islam for ABN. But since Mr. Gulam made the accusation, I took the time to do a quick burn of the encounter and upload it to YouTube. It is one hour fifty-one minutes in length (I am surprised YouTube accepted the single file upload). At least the questions at the end are educational, and somewhat entertaining. Unless Mr. Gulam develops the personal ability to reflect upon his own worldview, this will be the only encounter we will be having.
If You Love Owning and Studying the Scriptures...
08/20/2010 - James White
Session XXV: Rule IV of the Ten Rules Concerning Prohibited Books Drawn Up by The Fathers Chosen by the Council of Trent and Approved by Pope Pius: Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them. H. J. Schroeder, Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent: Original Text with English Translation (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1955), p. 274-75.David King posted this as a reminder to our Roman Catholic friends who like to argue Scripture that they have not always been given that freedom---I wonder how many of them have written permission from their "bishop or inquisitor, pastor or confessor" to own and read the sacred scriptures? Oh, I know---it's just the 2,000 year old church, never changing!
Did Francis J. Beckwith Ever Leave the Tiber? (Part 4, Conclusion)
08/19/2010 - James WhiteFrancis Row Your Boat Ashore
So I think the answer to our question has been answered fully, and fairly. It has never surprised me that Frank Beckwith returned to Rome. He had never left it in key and fundamental ways. Surely he had moved from non-Catholic church to non-Catholic church, and had embraced a non-Catholic view of justification. But even here his view was inconsistent, for the only solid foundation of justification by faith is that of sovereign grace. And given that he had never jettisoned Rome’s views of nature, man, and grace, he truly never left the Tiber River. He may well have put a foot on the far side, but he never saw Rome’s gospel as a false gospel, Rome’s views of Scripture and grace as antithetical to the truth. Every time I see someone who, like him, has never staked out a knowledgeable, knowing spot on the high ground of the western shore of the Tiber, rowing back into the arms of Rome, I am not at all surprised. The fact is, it’s a lot prettier over there in Rome. Lots more to see. You have to really believe you have done the right thing to stay over here.
Ironically, Beckwith provides a lengthy quote that says substantially that in Return to Rome. It comes from Carl R. Trueman of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Trueman wrote a review of the book, Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism by Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom.* Beckwith says that the following citation “rocked” him “to the core.” I can see why. If you think about what Trueman is saying (and you really do have to listen carefully), it throws a bright spotlight on the large crowd of non-Catholics paddling around in the Tiber, whose only reason for being non-Catholic is a matter of taste, not a matter of knowledgeable conviction. Here is the citation from Trueman:
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 Catholic should, in other 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. (RTR 83)
I would multiply the reasons why I, too, cannot “go down that path,” and would be so politically incorrect as to state it bluntly, “I cannot go down that path because there is no gospel at the end of that path.” So while I would put it differently at a number of points, I am saying the same thing as Trueman: a non-Catholic who is so without the conviction that the gospel matters and that Rome is fundamentally in error on these matters truly has no foundation for his or her position. Beckwith realized the truth of Trueman’s statement, and it “rocked” him for a simple reason: Frank Beckwith had never made that commitment, that act of will, to get out of the boat on the far shore.
*While it is outside the scope of this work, I will only point out that this work was terribly unbalanced and a true betrayal of the Reformation itself. It only documents the decline of “evangelicalism” as a whole. It surely does not show a meaningful understanding of the heart of the Reformation.
Marine Videos Posted
08/18/2010 - James WhiteOne of the most troubling pictures I have seen in the Ergun Caner Scandal, and the following Evangelical Cover Up, is that of Ergun Caner lecturing to a room full of military personnel. I assumed, from the start, that he was lying to them about growing up in Turkey, being trained in jihad, etc., and I was right. Jason Smathers has posted the videos provided to him by the US Marines of Caner's presentations. You can watch them, and read his report, here. More "misstatements"? How long can anyone keep up that kind of excuse-making?
Did Francis J. Beckwith Ever Leave the Tiber? (Part 3)
08/18/2010 - James WhiteThat Sola Scriptura Thing
The most eye-opening portion of Return to Rome for me was Beckwith’s self-admission that he had never held to a serious, confessional, historically and biblically grounded doctrine of sola scriptura. As one who has defended this divine truth against leading Roman Catholic apologists for most of my adult life, I found the ease with which Frank Beckwith dismissed the formal principle of the Reformation shocking, but, given the context of the book, not at all surprising. I am thankful he included this section, for it is vital in evaluating his reversion to the church of his childhood. And in reference to determining whether Beckwith ever stood firmly on the far shore of the Tiber, his statements about sola scriptura provide final and convincing proof of the matter.
Beckwith narrates a conversation he had with J. Budziszewski:
Our questions focused on several theological issues that prevented us from becoming Catholic and seemed insurmountable: the doctrine of justification, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the teaching authority of the Church (including apostolic succession and the primacy of the Pope), and Penance. The other issues that most Protestants find to be stumbling blocks---the Marian doctrines and Purgatory---were not a big deal to me. That was because I reasoned that if the Catholic views on Church authority, justification, the communion of saints, and the sacraments were defensible, them these other so-called “stumbling blocks” withered away, since the Catholic Church would in fact be God’s authoritative instrument in the development of Christian doctrine. (RTR 79)
I did not find any mention in Return to Rome of Dr. Beckwith sitting down with any knowledgeable Reformed theologian and asking the same questions. In fact, the time frame during which Beckwith did all of his intensive study is so short that he would hardly have had time to examine carefully “the other side.” Of course, the assumption is that he already “knew” the “other side,” but that is simply not the case. One will scan his notes in vain for any reference to any classical works on, say, sola scriptura, such as William Whitaker’s late 16th century classic, Disputations on Holy Scripture, or William Goode’s mid 19th century work, Divine Rule of Faith and Practice. You will not find him interacting with George Salmon’s The Infallibility of the Church, or the modern three-volume work of William Webster and David King, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith. Instead, we find only a passing reference to the heavily compromised work by Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. More evidence that Frank Beckwith was very far from having landed his boat on the far side of the Tiber.
As to Beckwith’s reasoning that such dogmatic assertions as the Marian dogmas can be simply piggy-backed upon a conclusion that Rome is “God’s authoritative instrument in the development of Christian doctrine,” we find a striking similarity to his reasoning in the words of the founder of Catholic Answers, Karl Keating:
True, scriptural proofs for this are lacking. Theologians refer to a mystical interpretation of John 19:26 (“Woman behold thy son, son behold thy mother”), an interpretation that sees John as the representative of the human race, Mary thus becoming the spiritual mother. They not the doctrine is reasonable because it is fitting....
This is little consolation to fundamentalists, of course, who see little fitting about it and who put little stock in speculative theology and even less in mystical theology. As a practical matter, this kind of doctrine is one of the last accepted by someone approaching the Church, particularly someone coming to the Church from fundamentalism, and it is accepted, ultimately, on the authority of the Church rather than on the authority of clear scriptural references. (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, 279)
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On Division and Harmony with Rome (Part II)
08/17/2010 - James White
He further goes on to say that it was through his study of the church fathers and the development of liturgical traditions that liberated him with respect to his views on church tradition.
He says a lot more than that, actually, that is highly problematic, and has been addressed by a number of folks since his conversion a few years ago. I wrote an entire chapter on Beckwith's explanation of his own views as a "Protestant," and how he had remained very much in the middle of the Tiber River, theologically and philosophically, until his full return to the Roman side of that river. I have decided to post that chapter over the course of the next week, so I will not repeat it here. But consult the portion on Beckwith's comments on sola scriptura and you will see what I mean.
To be honest, the Catholic doctrine of the church has garnered a greater appreciation for me of not only church tradition but the significance of the visible church. I think we protestants have been historically too dismissive of tradition and tend to undermine the authority and presence of the ecclesiastical body.
Mrs. Robinson has already succumbed to the primary deception of Rome: the either/or conundrum. Rome presents the idea that either you have their view of the infallible church standing in the mists of time, or, you have yourself and your Bible under a tree. There is nothing in between. And, of course, there is plenty in between. Many of us have very high views of the church, her purpose, role, and authority. Mrs. Robinson may only be aware of modern American evangelicalism and its common sub-biblical views of the church, but that is only to be ignorant of the history of the Reformation itself. But it is a huge leap to move from "the church is necessary, the church is a divine institution" to "the church of Rome is the mother of all churches, infallible." If Mrs. Robinson wants a higher ecclesiology, her Reformed heritage could have provided her with all sorts of examples of high, and biblical, ecclesiology.
Upholding scriptural authority has somehow created a laissez-faire attitude with respect to the unity of body that Christ sought (John 17:20-21) and that the RCC seeks with respect to doctrine and church practice.
I would challenge Mrs. Robinson's straight-line reasoning from "uphold the divine nature and authority of Scripture" to "sub-biblical views of the church and true Christian unity." How does she propose to make this connection? Mere observance that "some who uphold scriptural authority have a sub-biblical view of the church and the unity thereof" is not itself an argument. Is there not an inconsistency in upholding scriptural authority and then ignoring the very teachings of Scripture itself?
But far more to the point is the observation that Christian unity is not based upon ecclesiastical infallibility, Roman or otherwise. It is a unity of common confession, a unity birthed by the Spirit of God who brings the people of God to a knowledge of Jesus Christ and faith in Him and His gospel. That kind of unity is the very unity ripped and shredded by Rome's constant overthrow of biblical norms and its insistence upon defining unbiblical speculation and teaching as dogma. So once again, if Mrs. Robinson is truly concerned about true Christian unity, should she not see Rome's self-serving claims and actions over the course of history as one of the primary stumbling blocks toward the accomplishment of that unity?
When Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg door, he had no intention of dismantling the church but reforming practices that had been corrupted.
True, however, Rome's reaction was that of a political system, not a church. Does Mrs. Robinson confess that the papacy of Luther's day was not just corrupt, but utterly opposed to the gospel of grace? Does that not impact the claims of modern Roman Catholic apologists regarding the "2000 year old church" and the "consistent teaching" thereof? And once Rome anathematized Luther, what was he to do? Was he wrong to say "Here I stand, I can do no other?" And given that Rome has gone even farther away from the gospel since 1521 (defining as dogma such mythological teachings as the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility, and the Bodily Assumption of Mary), should we be any less bold in our stand today?
While I do not agree with the authoritative status of the Pope as the succession of the apostolic witness, I do think there is something to be said for the preservation of historic Christianity and ecclesiastical unity that the papal office seeks to uphold.
Rejection of Rome's papal pretensions is not a mere matter of agreement or disagreement. That is like saying, "I do not agree with the prophethood of Joseph Smith." No, I reject it as a soul-destroying lie, just as I do the pretensions of a man dressed in flowing robes in a mansion in Rome who claims to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, infallible in his teaching authority. The Apostle Paul did not simply "disagree" with the Judaizers, did he? There is everything proper in recognizing the ability of Christians to "disagree" on secondary or minor issues. But we are talking about foundational things here, things that define our faith and our worship.
Albert Mohler on the Battle over Inerrancy
08/17/2010 - Tur8infanAlbert Mohler has provided an article updating the battle over innerancy, and mentioning the work of Peter Enns and Kenton Sparks, who stand opposed to the Biblical and historical doctrine of innerancy. (link to article) It's an interesting article to read. The one thing I don't like is that one might get the idea that the battle over innerancy is only 50 years old. It goes much farther back, with folks like the Manichaeans alleging errors in the Old Testament Scriptures.
You can sense some irritation in Augustine's response:
If the Manichees were willing to discuss the hidden meaning of these words in a spirit of reverent inquiry rather than of captious fault-finding, then they would of course not be Manichees, but as they asked it would be given them, as they sought they would find, as they knocked it would be opened up to them. The fact is, you see, people who have a genuine religious interest in learning put far more questions about this text than these irrelegious wretches; but the difference between them is that the former seek in order to find, while the latter are at no pains at all to do anything except not to find what they are seeking.- Augustine, On Genesis: A Refutation of the Manichees, Book II, Chapter 2, Section 3
The same applies to the irreligious wretches who today seek to find fault. The Manichaeans came and went, and Biologos will come and go as well. But there will always be those who will seek to find fault with the Word of God. We must always be ready to give an answer to them.
Did Francis J. Beckwith Ever Leave the Tiber? (Part 2)
08/17/2010 - James WhiteWhy Aren’t You A Catholic?
Dr. Beckwith narrates a conversation he had with his niece. She asked him why he was not a Roman Catholic. His response was,
I proceeded to tell my little niece that I had great respect for the pope and that I have learned much from the Church’s great thinkers, including Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II. I also told her that I agree with most everything that the Catholic Church teaches on matters concerning God and Jesus, but I disagreed with it on other things having to do with the authority of the Church and the nature of communion and some of the other sacraments. (RTR 74-75)
While this answer was being given to a young person, and hence would not be as full as might be given in another context, the fact is that the reply is telling all the same. I have often been asked the same question in various venues, and my response is, Lord willing, consistent. “Because Roman Catholicism has a gospel that does not give peace, because it fundamentally violates the Scriptural teaching on how one is made right with God. Rome has a false gospel that cannot save, hence, I have no reason to abandon the peace I have with God through Christ’s perfect atonement for the treadmill of Rome’s sacramental system of salvation.” One would think that anyone who has purposefully crossed the Tiber because they have encountered the gospel and been changed thereby would have a similar response. Beckwith’s reply is a tepid statement of taste, a general “we are very much the same, but I have a few disagreements on these side issues” type of thing that while reflecting a lot of modern evangelicalism is likewise far removed from the heartfelt motivations of the Reformation.
Having given this response, Beckwith then asked the question cited above. It likewise reflects that he was still very much in the middle of the Tiber River, for the person who has embraced the gospel of grace has not only landed his boat on the far side, but has torn the boat apart to use the wood as a pulpit from which to proclaim freedom in Christ to those trapped on the other shore. But Beckwith can speak of “permanently” abandoning Rome as something he could not yet actually justify! Surely this kind of statement demonstrates the thesis at hand, as no person who has found peace in the gospel of grace in contrast to Rome’s sacramentalism will forget to mention that as the primary reason he or she does not submit to Rome’s claims of authority.
Later, when Beckwith was asked the same question after a lecture at Boston College by Laura Garcia, herself a convert to Catholicism from “evangelicalism,” Beckwith’s response once again finds its source in the Tiber River itself. His answer says nothing of the gospel. Likewise, it says nothing of sola scriptura. It is a distinctly non-Reformed answer, one that showed no heart-felt commitment to the Reformation. (RTR 76-77) Once again, I am very much aware of the fact that there are many today in non-Catholic churches that would answer as Beckwith did. My point is that they, too, are paddling around in the river, without a solid foundation upon which to stand. The Reformation isn’t over for the person who cares to think deeply about what matters from a biblical perspective. I see no reason to believe that Frank Beckwith would have ever agreed with me on this point.
(Continued in Part III)
Monday Miscellaneous--From Detroit
08/16/2010 - James WhiteSettled in at my hotel in Detroit (found a Target, found Subway, have skim milk and Kashi cereal, as well as a good Internet connection---life is good). I think doing four live "Jesus or Muhammad" programs on ABN will be sufficient for the week (as well as speaking at the God and Culture Conference this weekend), so I don't intend to attempt to do any DLs while here. Instead, here is the schedule for the live programs, which you can see either on satellite, or live on line at www.abnsat.com.
Pray for the recorded programs too, where we will be addressing a wider variety of issues. Those programs will be played at various times on ABN, and will have a wide impact as a result. Pray for clarity of thought and expression, and that the Spirit would bless our efforts this week to the edification of His people and the salvation of the lost.
This is an interesting story out of Saudi Arabia. I get the feeling that the last cited cleric would not be a lot of fun to debate.
Finally, if Barry Lynn had not proven to you that the "United Church of Christ" has gone far, far beyond the label "apostate" to the reality of active opposition to all that is true, godly, and faithful, this article should finish the job. I do pray God will vindicate His truth and close the mouth of false teachers, and in a way, He is doing so. The "mainline denominations" are vanishing before our eyes. Even the secularists can recognize a fake when they see one. But there is one "Reverend" I would dearly love to debate. The cross-examination period would be most…educational.
Ah, one last "thank you" to all who not only helped with Ministry Resource List items, but who have given toward my travel costs as well. I couldn't take advantage of these wonderful opportunities of ministry without your help and partnership.
Hebrews 8:1-6, PRBC AM Service, 8/15/2010
08/16/2010 - James White
Did Francis J. Beckwith Ever Leave the Tiber? (Part 1)
08/16/2010 - James WhiteWhen I was first contacted about the reversion of Frank Beckwith, the then president of the Evangelical Theological Society, I immediately discussed the topic on my webcast, The Dividing Line. I held open the possibility that the report was premature, or in error, but, failing that, I immediately called for Dr. Beckwith’s resignation as the president of the Evangelical Theological Society if, in fact, he had reverted to Roman Catholicism. I did so because the entire reason for the existence of ETS, as I had heard it so bluntly stated by Roger Nicole, was to have a distinctly non-Roman Catholic society for the study of the Bible. Though Beckwith attempts to argue that he did not, really, have to leave the ETS in Return to Rome, I believe the reality is clear to everyone who has an accurate understanding of the authority concept of Rome. At the same time I predicted that Beckwith’s reversion, due to his position, would be touted by Roman Catholic apologists as yet another example of “Rome Sweet Home.” At that time I raised the question of the relevance of the president of ETS returning to Rome simply due to his position. Logically, the relevance of a conversion or reversion would be directly proportional to the person’s direct knowledge of the issues relevant to the divide between Catholicism and Protestantism. And though I had not read a lot of Beckwith’s work, I could not think of any time when I had heard Beckwith address specific issues relating to the gospel, nor had I ever heard him speak of the gospel of grace in antithesis to the gospel of Rome.
A fair and full reading of Return to Rome not only substantiates my original predictions (the cover includes these words, “Why the President of the Evangelical Theological Society Left His Post and Returned to the Catholic Church”), but it gives plentiful evidence of one fact: Frank Beckwith may have taken a dip in the Tiber River for a number of years, but he never actually got out on the far side. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, the Tiber River forms the westernmost boundary of the ancient city of Rome. To swim the Tiber, then, normally refers to someone who converts to, or in this case reverts to, Roman Catholicism. But to extend the analogy, it has become plain to me over the years that it really is not just a matter of being on one side of the Tiber or the other. There are many who do not current identify themselves as Roman Catholics who, nevertheless, surely do not have their feet planted on the soil on the far side of the riverbank. Instead, they are paddling around in the river, sometimes closer to the Roman side, sometimes the far side. In their theology, their worldview, their understanding of grace, man, authority---any number of things, they are a mixture, often a very confused mixture. Most often they are ignorant of the great issues that define the boundaries, and as a result hold to self-contradictory positions. But in any case, it seems clear, from reading Frank Beckwith’s own words, that he never chose to cross the Tiber, climb out of the water, and take a firm stand on the far side. He never said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” He never said, “This is the gospel, and that is not the gospel over there.” Instead, by his own confession, he paddled about in the Tiber River until just recently, when he re-docked his boat on the Roman side. ...
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Upcoming Debates and Resources
08/14/2010 - James WhiteEver feel like time is speeding up on you, and you'll never be ready for what's coming? This Fall makes me feel that way! Please pray about my trip to Minneapolis in October, not only for the conference, but for my meeting with Bethany House Publishers. I desperately need to take a break from debating in the not too distant future to put the proverbial pen to paper (in this case, fingertips to keyboard, of course) and get some writing projects done. There is a massive need for a text-by-text, easily accessible "here is what Ehrman says, but here is the other side of the story" type work. And my heart for a "Letters to a Mormon Elder" type book, except written to the serious minded, believing Muslim, is stronger than ever. Wouldn't a book you could read for yourself, that would train you in the whys and wherefores of Muslim evangelism, but that you could then hand directly to your Muslim friend, knowing it was written to communicate with them, be useful? But such projects don't just appear out of thin air, I assure you. But till then, the Ministry Resource List remains a very helpful way you can stand with me in this "Fall full of debates." The only thing more encouraging than getting resources from that list is when local churches stand with us in regularly supporting the work. As opposition to the Gospel, and especially those who proclaim it with clarity, and pointedness, increases, we will need to know God's people stand with us more and more.
In the Michigan Area? Join Us!
08/14/2010 - James WhiteDespite the fact that they used a ten year old picture that continues to float about the Internet (but looks nothing like me any longer), you can go here for information on next weekend's God and Culture Conference in the Detroit area. I'm speaking three times, but there are others speaking as well, so plan on being with us! I'm looking forward to finding out if Paul Edwards speaks more slowly in the pulpit than he has to on the air!
Tony Costa vs. Osama Abdullah
08/13/2010 - James WhiteNow, I would normally not link to anything featuring Osama Abdullah. I just do not believe he is a relevant apologist for Islam, and I think I demonstrated that a few years ago. But this debate took place on ABN using Skype, and I may be doing this in a little over a month, so I was interested in seeing how it works. I wonder if my lava lamp in the background will distract anyone? :-)
The Real Story of the Arrest of Nabeel, David, Paul and Negeen
08/13/2010 - James WhiteA lot of development has taken place over the past few weeks in the Acts 17/Dearborn situation, but with my traveling and the debates I have coming up, I haven't had time to try to keep up here on the blog. But I knew that eventually the video of the "encounter" that was the original foundation of the action of the police (which they refused to examine on the cameras to begin with, their first error in a long, long line of errors that, if justice prevails, should result in a massive judicial correction) would be posted, and it has. First, David Wood has posted a full article here. Next, here's the video:
Who is Roger Williams? I have no earthly idea, but one thing is for certain: he gave false testimony to the police, as the video clearly shows. The man claims to be a Christian. What church is he part of? Jason Smathers interviewed Williams and was told he came to the festival with a group from Trinity Baptist Church. If that is the case, I suggest the elders of that church need to speak with Williams and call him to repentance. He needs to contact the Dearborn Police Department and confess to his actions. The Dearborn Police need to apologize for their actions, and the City of Dearborn needs to drop their charges, with public apologies from the chief of police, the mayor, and all the officers involved. The officers need to be disciplined for ignoring standard protocol and legal guidelines (like, uh, watching the video offered to them?). And, of course, there are other legal avenues open to those arrested that should be pursued to the fullest. The Apostle Paul did not hesitate to assert his civil rights, nor should those falsely arrested by the Dearborn Police.
Further, those Christians who have jumped on the "attack Acts 17" bandwagon should be lining up to offer their profound apologies for the incredible things that have been said and asserted over the past few weeks. I was somewhat encouraged to see Hussein Wario apologizing (once he became aware of the Roger Williams dishonesty), though, I don't think I was included in that mea culpa.
Lessons to be learned from this situation are many, of course. David suggests this is a form of dhimmi witnessing, where Christians "buy" the "chance" to "share" the gospel with Muslims through abandoning their rights and attacking Christians who are boldly proclaiming the gospel. As I have had little conversation with those who have been attacking David and Nabeel, I can only hope that is not the case, but, I can certainly see why one would conclude that this kind of activity has been going on. But one thing is for sure: when venturing into situations like that, video coverage is an absolute necessity. In fact, in the future, may I suggest live streaming to the Internet? If the police knew the video was already available for all to see, I think things might have been different.
A Caller-Driven DL
08/12/2010 - James WhiteStarted off with some updates on what is coming up over the next few months (please pray for all the debates, and all the travel, and yes, we still need your help to make it all happen) then started taking calls...Skype calls and "regular" calls, even going a bit long. Topics were wide indeed, including a long call on apostasy, heresy, and the nature of Christian assurance. Here's the program.
Did Mohammad Have Assurance of His Salvation?
08/11/2010 - James WhiteHere is an interesting debate between Tony Costa and Bassam Zawadi on whether Mohammad had assurance of salvation. Obviously, for me, the key here is the grounds of salvation, and how this differs so fundamentally between Christianity and Islam. I posted these on my own site because what Tony possesses as a debater, he lacks as a geek. In fact, as embarrassing as this is, I had to be sent the files by mail. Yeah, the mail. Shocking!
Today on the Dividing Line: An Unbelievable Ride and Calls
08/10/2010 - James WhiteDid a review of four Unbelievable Radio programs to start off the program, discussing presuppositional apologetics, Victor Stenger, and a "liberal" who denied the resurrection of Christ (all programs I listened to this morning while on a 70 mile ride). You can listen to Justin's program here, but since that airs in London, you can subscribe to the podcast as well (that's what I do). Then we took some calls on a wide variety of topics, including Norman Geisler's new edition of Chosen But Free (I contacted Bethany House Publishers, so I have a copy headed my way). Here's the program.
Just a reminder that I do live in a desert. Here is a little shot I took of a saguaro against the backdrop of the desert mountains, brush, etc., in the early morning light. It was nice out there at that time---but it is getting deathly hot again this week, with highs the next few days topping 110, lows in the upper 80s and lower 90s. Going to be tough to get in the 234 miles I want to cover before heading for Detroit next week!
In Whom Do You Trust? Through Whom Does your Salvation Come?
08/09/2010 - Tur8infanChristians are those who follow Christ, who have faith in Christ for salvation. They ascribe to him power and glory, which they do not ascribe to any creature. They have one mediator, as it is written:
1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
We have faith in God and in no other, thus we sing:;
Psalm 62:6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
And we remind ourselves this:
Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
What spirit then, is behind this pen?
Great indeed is Our trust in Mary. The resplendent glory of her merits, far exceeding all the choirs of angels, elevates her to the very steps of the throne of God. Her foot has crushed the head of Satan. Set up between Christ and His Church, Mary, ever lovable and full of grace, always has delivered the Christian people from their greatest calamities and from the snares and assaults of all their enemies, ever rescuing them from ruin.Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), section 4
The foundation of all Our confidence, as you know well, Venerable Brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), section 5
What Scripture will someone try to claim tells us to speak this way about Mary? There are many that teach us to speak this way about God, but none that teach us to make Mary a mediatrix or tell us to have faith in Mary.
I anticipate the usual responses from Rome's advocates for whom an absence of apostolicity is no obstacle. They will first assert that this encyclical is not infallible. Indeed the encyclical does not claim to be infallible: it is paving the way for an allegedly infallible proclamation that was to follow.
Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), section 5
Accordingly, We have appointed certain priests of recognized piety and theological learning, as well as several cardinals of the Holy Roman Church who are renowned because of their ability, piety, wisdom, prudence, and knowledge of the things of God; and We have directed them to make, carefully and thoroughly, a most diligent examination into this most important matter and then provide Us with a complete report. Through such a procedure, We feel that We are following in the clearly marked footsteps of Our Predecessors and that We are emulating their example.
The second thing that they may wish to claim is some sort of poetic license for this bishop of Rome. But are we really to take Pius IX's words only poetically? The context of his words is the preparation for inserting the false dogma of the Immaculate Conception into the religion of Rome:
No sooner had We been elevated to the sublime Chair of the Prince of the Apostles and undertook the government of the universal Church (not, indeed, because of Our own worthiness but by the hidden designs of Divine Providence) than We had the great consolation, Venerable Brethren, in recalling that, during the pontificate of Gregory XVI, Our Predecessor of happy memory, there was in the entire Catholic world a most ardent and wondrous revival of the desire that the most holy Mother of God -- the beloved Mother of us all, the immaculate Virgin Mary -- be finally declared by a solemn definition of the Church to have been conceived without the stain of original sin. Both to Our Predecessor and to Us this most devout desire was clearly and unmistakably made manifest by the petitions of illustrious bishops, esteemed canonical chapters, and religious congregations, among whom was the renowned Order of Preachers. These appeals vied with one another in the insistent request that official permission be granted for the word Immaculate to be publicly used and be added to the sacred liturgy, particularly in the Preface of the Mass of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin. With the greatest delight, both Our Predecessor and We acceded to these requests.Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), sections 1-2
One thing is wrapped up in another - devotion to Mary is an essential component of Rome's religion, though it was not a part of the apostolic faith. But the faith of Pius IX is the one in which he was raised - which he described this way:
From our earliest years nothing has ever been closer to Our heart than devotion-filial, profound, and wholehearted-to the most blessed Virgin Mary. Always have We endeavored to do everything that would redound to the greater glory of the Blessed Virgin, promote her honor, and encourage devotion to her.Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), section 4
Ought not devotion to God to be closer than devotion to any mere creature? Ought not filial, profound, and wholehearted devotion be given to our Father in heaven? How did Jesus teach us to pray - to "Our mother, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name" or "Our Father"? Which is the prayer that has been prayed continuously for nearly 2000 years? Who on the other hand can produce for us some record of the "Hail Mary" before Nicaea? Who can show us one Western father from the first millennium who said something like "[Mary is] set up between Christ and His Church"?
And even if one could find a "Hail Mary" prayer very early, and some early person who mistakenly used the Marian axe to sever the head (Christ) from the body (His church), what of it? It is not what the apostles taught - it is not the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
It is an innovation whether it was developed in the 19th century with Pius IX, in the middle ages with St. Bernard, or even if it was developed earlier.
The bottom line, dear reader, is this: in whom do you trust? through whom does your salvation come? If it comes through Mary - if you are trusting in her like Pius IX did - you are not properly trusting in Christ, and you will face judgment on that dreadful day of the Lord.
On Division and Harmony with Rome (Part I)
08/09/2010 - James White
With the advent of the Vatican II Council, there has been a greater focus on scriptural authority in the RCC. I have witnessed that first hand in some recent viewings of Catholic masses on EWTN. I actually was impressed with the amount of scripture being read and taught and found little that I disagreed with in the messages. Yet, I wonder how many Protestants would even receive messages delivered by a Catholic priest, let alone watch a Catholic channel. I can’t help but believe that would only perpetuate ignorance and disharmony.
I have been engaging the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church for a number of decades now. It would be easy to become "accustomed" to the errors of the Roman system, but thankfully, I have not succumbed to that temptation. I remain as deeply moved by the blasphemy against the finished and perfect work of Jesus on calvary that is the heart of the Roman Mass as I was when I first came to understand Rome's teaching on the subject. My heart is still broken at the spiritual carnage Rome produces in the lives of millions, enslaving them to a system that has no finished sacrifice, no assurance, simply no gospel that brings peace. Despite the constant pressures to join in the ecumenical love-fest that is so popular in Western culture, I remain thoroughly convinced that as long as Galatians and Romans remain in the canon of Scripture, Rome will remain an opponent to biblical truth, and those who follow her teachings will need to hear the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ.
But I am no longer in the majority when it comes to that broad, broad field called evangelicalism, and the comments made by Lisa Robinson on the Parchment and Pen blog on August 8th, 2010, illustrate this clearly. Since Frank Beckwith picked up on this entry (I had expected him to when I saw it myself), I believe it prudent and necessary to comment upon it. It seems Mrs. Robinson views the issues that separate "Catholics and Protestants" very differently than I do, and hopefully this review will explain why I believe her position is not only one of compromise, it is tremendously dangerous, not only for her, but for her readers as well.
I, too, have observed some programs on EWTN. But when I see a man who calls himself a priest standing before a congregation, I know well what is going on. I know this is the central act of "worship" in the Roman system, and I know exactly what this religious ceremony means when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This man, ordained as an "alter Christus," another Christ, believes himself to be sacramentally empowered to bring Jesus Christ down from heaven, body, soul, and divinity, and render Him present upon the altar of the Roman Church, so that this becomes the "eucharistic sacrifice." In the offensive words of John O'Brien,
When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.
Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.
Of what sublime dignity is the office of the Christian priest who is thus privileged to act as the ambassador and the vice-gerent of Christ on earth! He continues the essential ministry of Christ: he teaches the faithful with the authority of Christ, he pardons the penitent sinner with the power of Christ, he offers up again the same sacrifice of adoration and atonement which Christ offered on Calvary. No wonder that the name which spiritual writers are especially fond of applying to the priest is that of alter Christus. For the priest is and should be another Christ. (O’Brien, The Faith of Millions, 255-256)
Does it make it any less blasphemous and untrue that Roman Catholics quote scriptures in an attempt to substantiate such teaching? I do not believe so---in fact, it only makes it more offensive that men are willing to twist God's Word in defense of such things. So why does Mrs. Robinson find it somehow encouraging that Rome reads more Scripture in the process of offering an impotent and soul-destroying "sacrifice" that perfects none of those for whom it is offered? It is hard to understand.
Mrs. Robinson refers to "ignorance and disharmony." There is a tremendous amount of ignorance about Roman Catholicism amongst evangelicals, that is for sure. There is just as much ignorance, however, amongst Roman Catholics about evangelicalism, and especially about Reformed theology. But what is worse, many Roman Catholic leaders help to promulgate this ignorance, and in fact, foster it. Just listen to Catholic Answers Live sometime to get a taste of the pop-apologetics approach to these issues, and the ignorance and misrepresentation of "the other side" that is epidemic in those quarters. There are many who are "anti-Catholic" out of pure ignorance, just as there are many who are anti-Protestant out of the same pure ignorance. It's a two way street.
But may I suggest that ignorance is not the reason for "disharmony"? The more I came to learn of Rome's dogmatic teachings, the more I desired not the slightest bit of "harmony" with her and her teachings. Rome has a false gospel. Rome has created disharmony through her arrogant ascription to herself of the title of "infallible." Rome refuses correction on the basis of Scripture, and has promulgated as dogma teachings that are utterly unknown to the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the true believer does not want harmony with such an organization. Why would we? ...
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For a Brother Who Asked
08/07/2010 - James WhiteA brother asked me about a textual variant in 1 Samuel 6:19 right as I was packing up after I spoke at the Jeremiah Cry conference in Brooklyn this afternoon. I did not have time to get him the needed information, so, here it is!
1 Sam. 6:19–7:1. Disposal of the Ark of God.—V. 19. As the ark had brought evil upon the Philistines, so the inhabitants of Bethshemesh were also to be taught that they could not stand in their unholiness before the holy God: “And He (God) smote among the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked at the ark of Jehovah, and smote among the people seventy men, fifty thousand men.” In this statement of numbers we are not only struck by the fact that the 70 stands before the 50,000, which is very unusual, but even more by the omission of the copula ו before the second number, which is altogether unparalleled. When, in addition to this, we notice that 50,000 men could not possibly live either in or round Bethshemesh, and that we cannot conceive of any extraordinary gathering having taken place out of the whole land, or even from the immediate neighbourhood; and also that the words חֲמִשִּׁים אֶלֶף אִישׁ are wanting in several Hebrew MSS, and that Josephus, in his account of the occurrence, only speaks of seventy as having been killed (Ant. vi. 1, 4); we cannot come to any other conclusion than that the number 50,000 is neither correct nor genuine, but a gloss which has crept into the text through some oversight, though it is of great antiquity, since the number stood in the text employed by the Septuagint and Chaldee translators, who attempted to explain them in two different ways, but both extremely forced. Apart from this number, however, the verse does not contain anything either in form or substance that could furnish occasion for well-founded objections to its integrity. The repetition of וַיַּךְ simply resumes the thought that had been broken off by the parenthetical clause כִּי רָאוּ בַּאֲרֹון יי׳; and בָּעָם is only a general expression for בְּאַנְשֵׁי ב׳ שׁ׳. The stroke which fell upon the people of Bethshemesh is sufficiently accounted for in the words, “because they had looked,” etc. There is no necessity to understand these words, however, as many Rabbins do, as signifying “they looked into the ark,” i.e., opened it and looked in; for if this had been the meaning, the opening would certainly not have been passed over without notice. רָאָה with ב means to look upon or at a thing with lust or malicious pleasure; and here it no doubt signifies a foolish staring, which was incompatible with the holiness of the ark of God, and was punished with death, according to the warning expressed in Num. 4:20. This severe judgment so alarmed the people of Bethshemesh, that they exclaimed, “Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God!” Consequently the Bethshemeshites discerned correctly enough that the cause of the fatal stroke, which had fallen upon them, was the unholiness of their own nature, and not any special crime which had been committed by the persons slain. They felt that they were none of them any better than those who had fallen, and that sinners could not approach the holy God. Inspired with this feeling, they added, “and to whom shall He go away from us?” The subject to יַעֲלֶה is not the ark, but Jehovah who had chosen the ark as the dwelling-place of His name. In order to avert still further judgments, they sought to remove the ark from their town. They therefore sent messengers to Kirjath-jearim to announce to the inhabitants the fact that the ark had been sent back by the Philistines, and to entreat them to fetch it away. (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (2002). Commentary on the Old Testament. (1 Sa 6:19–7:1). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.)
The Amazing Hubris of the Ruling Class Judiciary
08/05/2010 - James WhiteIf you expected full disclosure and fairness from any of the media relating to yesterday's outrageous "let's call this judicial, but it is anything but" torrent of revolutionary cultural drivel from US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, you need to wake up. How many of the reports you saw, read, or heard, noted this one little fact:
The announcement did not mention DuMont's sexual orientation, and the White House did not provide comment for this story. DuMont would only be the third known LGBT judge serving in the federal judiciary, which consists of more than 850 judgeships. The others are U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts, who was nominated for her judgeship in 1994 and sits in Manhattan, and U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who sits in San Francisco and was not publicly known to be gay when nominated in 1989. [source]
Yes, folks, this "legal" decision was rendered by none other than a homosexual. That will help explain the wild-eyed demagoguery that flowed from his pen, now enshrined in the law of the land. Check out some of these amazing statements:
"Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples."
Exactly! That's because marriage has meaning, and what we are watching is the revolutionary re-definition of a term, an institution, and hence the culture that has always found its basis in that institution. Same-sex "couples" do not constitute a marriage anymore than one man and five women constitute a marriage or one woman and two dogs constitute a marriage. Marriage is one man, one woman, producing life and family. It's just that simple, and every person reading this knows that to be true.
Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.
Remember, this is a homosexual making this "finding." Of course, religious beliefs that relationships between 50 year old men and 8 year old boys are sinful "harm" those poor 50 year old pedophiles, too, so let's be consistent, shall we? We expect this kind of rhetoric from practicing homosexuals, but to see it being said as if it has something to do with meaningful law only tells us how degraded the judiciary has become.
Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted, and having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted.
That's why, of course, no one is really concerned about orphans or widows, right? Because, hey, your dad dies? No worries! Mom runs off? Won't change a thing! This kind of demagoguery under the guise of legal opinion should be resulting in a massive chorus of condemnation, but is that what you are seeing in the media? No, you are seeing rejoicing, not condemnation. One wonders if the men of Sodom ever sunk to this level---but remember, even after God struck them with physical blindness, they continued to look for the door in the depth of their depravity. Blindness is no hindrance to the continued practice of perversion and depravity.
The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in the child’s adjustment. The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent.
Remember, this is being presented as legal reasoning, when in reality, it is nothing but pro-homosexual rhetoric being repeated by a practitioner of that lifestyle. But nothing Walker said can eclipse this absurd, revolutionary statement:
Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.
Can you believe you are reading these words, not merely as the private opinion of a moral reprobate, a cultural revolutionary, but as the conclusions of a "judge" in the United States of America? How can someone not blush with shame at the utterance of such absurdities? He cannot even say these words without exposing his own fraudulent reasoning: "no longer" shines a bright light upon the man's revolutionary desire to fundamentally alter the culture of the United States. This kind of homosexual propaganda has no place in the legal system of a moral culture, but there it is.
Why do homosexuals feel the over-riding need to force the rest of us to accept their perversity as good and moral and acceptable? Why do they insist upon fundamentally altering the very structure of the family, abusing children by exposing them to such depravity and denying them proper parental role-models? The Scriptures tell us, plainly. Those who live in constant and willful rebellion against God are idolaters. They worship their own sin, and they want others to join them. But, they are made in the image of God, so they cannot avoid the constant effort it takes to suppress the knowledge of God, and silence the scream of conscience. This is why we see them standing on street corners displaying the most incredible levels of depravity all the while screaming at families, moms, dads, "normal" people, "Shame! Shame!" if they dare show disapproval toward their behavior. Just as their entire personhood has been twisted and turned from its created purpose, so their thinking, and behavior, is twisted and irrational.
If you were not praying that God would bring whole-hearted repentance (the only hope for a culture soaked in evil), you had better start now. Your kids, your grandkids, and every generation thereafter, will be facing the results of this kind of degradation of our nation. God bless America…with heart-felt, behavior changing, Spirit-borne repentance.
More on the Depravity of Western Culture
08/04/2010 - James WhiteIt's a packing day…headed to New York for a weekend of ministry. I look forward to seeing the saints there, and I hope and pray my efforts will be useful to their edification.
I almost wrote an article about the Proposition 8 case last night, but held off, knowing that it was most likely that a Federal Judge in San Francisco, of all places, would not uphold basic morality or a worldview that has any godliness to it. I wasn't disappointed, as the decision just came down. Of course, it will be appealed…to the 9th Circuit (oi vey), and then, obviously, to the Supreme Court. This is just one step in a long process of overthrowing our Christian heritage and setting our culture on an inevitable collision course with the wrath of a holy God. It will be hard to bear the rejoicing of the ungodly over this decision, but we should realize that we see the signs of the degradation of the West all around us.
I read with sadness this article last week. Once again the maxim that corrupt judges are part of God's wrath is seen with clarity. But what is more, these corrupt legal decisions flow from an even more corrupted cultural core, a core that seeks to express its hatred of the holiness of God, and especially His revealed law. The dogma of the West is now firmly opposed to any God-centered morality, and if you wish to possess the affirmation of the culture in the form of an educational degree, you need to bow to the supreme authority of the secular worldview, especially as it touches key elements, such as the moral goodness of homosexuality (in the perversity of this view). We have known for a long time that you cannot obtain the world's approbation for your work in certain fields of science without bowing to its holiest dogma (naturalistic materialism), and the same is becoming the case in other areas. These cases are becoming more and more frequent, and once legal precedent is established, we will need to have even more serious discussions concerning the role we must bear in nations and a culture under the judgment of God. Time to dust off that Old Testament and start looking at the "remnant" passages.
The Immaculate Conception and Sinlessness of Mary Debate
08/03/2010 - Micah BurkeIRON SHARPENS IRON Radio Presents
ROMAN CATHOLIC VS. PROTESTANT
Debate on Long Island
"The Immaculate Conception & Sinlessness of Mary"
CHRISTOPHER A. FERRARA - Founder of American Catholic Lawyer's Association
Christopher Ferrara is an attorney and widely published Catholic author and commentator. He serves as President and Chief Counsel of American Catholic Lawyer’s Association , an organization dedicated to defending the rights of Catholics. He was involved in the legal battle for the life of Theresa Schiavo and has won many legal victories for Catholic pro-life advocates at both the trial and appellate level. Mr. Ferrara is the author of four books, numerous pamphlets, and hundreds of articles which have appeared in The Remnant, The Latin Mass magazine, Catholic Family News, Oriens, Christian Order and various other publications.
DR. JAMES R. WHITE - Director of Alpha & Omega Ministries
Dr. James White is director of Alpha & Omega Ministries , an Evangelical Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, AZ. He is a professor, having taught Greek, Systematic Theology, and various topics in the field of apologetics. He has authored many books, including The King James Only Controversy, The Forgotten Trinity, The Potter's Freedom, and The God Who Justifies. He is an accomplished debater, having engaged in nearly 100 moderated, public debates with leading proponents of Roman Catholicism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormonism, as well as critics such as Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, and John Shelby Spong.
Saturday, August 28th, 6pm
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Apologetics Graphic T: Hetoimoi Aei Pros Apologian
08/03/2010 - James WhiteSo I asked Carla Rolfe to come up with a design incorporating the key Greek text from 1 Peter 3:15, and she came up with this. I think it looks great. She blogged about it here, and you can get yours here. But make sure you have 1 Peter 3:15 memorized, in context, before wearing it!
God Centered vs. Man Centered: the Dividing Line
08/03/2010 - James WhiteCovered two primary texts on the program today, Hebrews 7:25 and James 2:14, but I did so in the context of recognizing the difference between a God-centered faith and a man-centered one. I drew illustrations from my debate with Robert Sungenis on the Mass that took place in Utah a number of years ago. An hour of biblical teaching, no calls, but I think one of the more important discussions we've had on the Dividing Line. Here's the program.
(I noted that the debate with Sungenis on the Mass was one of the clearest examples of theocentric faith vs. anthropocentric faith I know of. You can get the debate here).
08/02/2010 - James WhiteFirst, the last lower res pic from my riding phone---a new phone (still cheap enough to be taken on rides) with a 5.1 megapixel camera arrives today. This is eastbound on CareFree Highway at 5:43am, not quite half way through a 62.11 mile ride (fellow cyclists will recognize the distance: 100km, a "metric century"). Very odd weather we are having in Phoenix right now...it was 74 degrees out there! But, it is headed back to furnace status later this week. But I had to take advantage of the cool while I could (esp. since I leave Thursday for NY). What was I listening to? GK Beale's We Become What We Worship. Tomorrow I will have Sproul's The Holiness of God going.
On the "this is really weird" side of things, over the weekend a flood of Ergun Caner websites began showing up on Google searches. Evidently, someone (I sure hope it isn't Caner himself!) has dumped at least $800 into hiring an online reputation firm. How do we know this? Well, the firm is so good, they tell you who they are! Note this reference. It was posted by "Udentiti Online Reputation Services." Others are following up on this story with more zeal than I am, but it seems that it is a rather silly attempt to bury negative Google search results for Ergun Caner under a mountain of hits for the same article, which, as you will notice, was not written by a native English speaker. It is written in what is called Engrish, that wonderful language that flows from online translators and is often the stuff of greatly humorous labels and street signs. In this case, we learn that Caner is a Theologist, and, "Caner embrace as a Teacher and Theologian, being challenged and make each person to think and open their minds through his wonderful knowledge." Umm, right. Here's a list of some of the hits (compiled by none other than Jason Smathers), all obviously coming from the same organization, that have appeared over the weekend:
I don't know about you, but could it get any weirder? I mean, you have people running around the web pulling down conference talks and sermons, while at the same time some organization of non-English speakers is posting nonsense articles in praise of Ergun Caner as a "renowned" theologian. All while Caner continues his silence, and his critics ignore the real issues (while engaging in the politics of personal destruction). Simply amazing.
Finally, heading to New York this weekend. I'll be at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in the morning on Sunday, and Hope Reformed Baptist Church in the evening, both on Long Island. I am speaking Friday and Saturday for Jeremiah Cry's conference, "Go Stand Speak: The Forgotten Power of the Public Proclamation of the Gospel." I will be delivering a lecture on answering common objections to the reliability of Scripture (preaching in the Ehrman age), and then I will be preaching, as best I can, on the holiness of God. Just a quick trip, back on Monday (well, crossing the US and navigating JFK is never really accurately called "quick"). But, that means there will be no Thursday DL as I will be somewhere over Kansas about then I think.
Oh, one more additional note that I am adding after posting this. I just saw that Peter Lumpkins has demonstrated once again not only that he and honesty are strangers, but that there is no level to which he will not stoop to express his wild dislike of yours truly. He has produced an animated film that is, of course, nothing but a lie, as he well knows. Here is the link. Watch with amazement, then compare the thinking, behavior, and mindset, of Peter Lumpkins, Caner Defender Extraordinaire, with the truth, easily available to all:
I wonder how many more videos Peter Lumpkins will post documenting his dishonesty? One is left wondering.