Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
09/30/2010 - James WhiteLots of calls today, covering Mormonism, Reformed issues, Islam, and finished with a call from a Roman Catholic from Australia with a question on what Reformed Baptists believe about elders in the church (went a little long for that). Here's the program.
09/30/2010 - James WhiteI will be on with Janet Mefferd today at noon my time. I have no idea if that will be live anywhere, always recorded...just don't know. But, I'll be on!
Had a great double ascent of South Mountain this morning, and snapped this picture on the way down the second time. A bit hard to see, but each of those clouds has what looks like a stalactite formation hanging from it, glowing in the early morning sun! Upside down pyramids. Just gorgeous! How sad that humanists see that and go, "Eh, atmospheric temperature variations producing minor precipitation that evaporates at altitude" and think that their knowing the mechanics exhausts the meaning of nature. Very sad indeed.
Finally, on the way home I hit rush hour, so I was sitting in a line waiting to get on the northbound I-17 freeway in Phoenix, when I looked over and saw a large billboard, black letters on a bright yellow background. It read, "We don't have an immigration problem, we have a capitalism problem." Say what?
Glenn Beck's PCness on Gay Marriage, and Liberty and Caner Turning a Blind Eye
09/29/2010 - Alan KurschnerOn August 11, Glenn Beck told Bill O'Reilly he has no problem with same-sex marriage:
O'Reilly: "Do you believe that gay marriage is a threat to the country in any way?"With a position on gay marriage such as that, it is alarming that Liberty would invite him to speak at their commencement earlier this year and confer an honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree upon him---and Ergun Caner would be giddy about it:
Beck: "A threat to the country?"
O'Reilly: "Yeah, is it going to harm it in any way?"
Beck: (laughing) "No I don't. Will the gays come and get us?"
O'Reilly: "No, OK, is it going to harm the country in any way?"
Beck: "I believe that Thomas Jefferson said: 'If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket what difference is it to me?'"
Ergun Caner on Twitter: "Glenn Beck at the LU Graduation! Love it! And I'm loving the snarking of the haters. LU folk: rejoice when they revile!" (Apr 23, 2010).In his insightful article, "Why conservatives are abandoning the 'gay' issue," David Kupelian provides an ominous analysis,
Very simply, most people in today's America, including conservatives, are afraid of "the gay issue." Although most know deep down there's something wrong with homosexuality, they don't want to be called "intolerant," "bigoted," "hateful" or "homophobic." Even though they don't really want open gays in the military, and disapprove of same-sex marriage, are repulsed by Obama's appointment of notorious gay activist Kevin Jennings as the nation's "safe schools" czar, and on and on – the "gay issue" no longer registers on their radar screen as one on which they should take a public stand.
In fact, much of "conservatism" has morphed in recent years into "libertarianism" – which is basically conservatism minus the moral, faith-based dimension.
There are many other examples, even among top conservatives. It seems most, if not all, are falling away from this jugular issue for the same reason: They're afraid, and the convenient slide from conservatism to libertarianism – invisible when the issue at hand is government spending, taxation and regulation – comes into full view when dealing with moral issues like homosexuality.
Why are they afraid? The gay activist movement relies heavily on intimidation (or "jamming," as their marketers label it) and no one likes to be mocked, marginalized, demonized, called ugly names, boycotted, persecuted, prosecuted for "hate crimes" (thought crimes, actually), fined or imprisoned....
The answer is: You better care, because once gay marriage is legalized in America – something for which there is virtually no precedent in the 5,000 years of Western Civilization – your schools will be required to teach your children that homosexuality is totally normal, your pastors and rabbis will fear preaching their faith's core moral values, and gender confusion and immorality will reign supreme in America.
(In addition, Mark Lamprecht shares some comments on Liberty University, Glenn Beck and the Gospel).
Recent Developments in Electronic Resources for LXX Studies
09/28/2010 - Alan KurschnerAt this time, one of the most blossoming areas of electronic biblical texts and research is on the LXX. Rex A. Koivisto has provided us with a status quaestionis on electronic resources for LXX research. You can download his informative article here.
A Challenge to George Bryson, and Calls on Today's DL
09/28/2010 - James WhiteStarted off with a little correction of George Bryson's FaceBook assertions that I refuse to debate him. Corrected his misapprehensions, talked a bit about the need for cross-examination in debates, and then made him an offer he can't refuse: I will gladly defend the statements of Chapter 3 of the London Baptist Confession of Faith in debate against him. I will even provide my own transportation, lodging, etc. Just one condition: we do the debate at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa. Given George's high position in the non-denominational denomination, it should be easy for him to swing such a location! I look forward to hearing back from George as to when we can arrange such a debate for 2011! Then we had a great call on why there are warning passages in the Bible, then another call from Germany (yes, a bit more speaking in tongues ensued!) and a question on Constantine and the Council of Nicea. Here's the program.
A Few Riding Pictures
09/28/2010 - James WhiteI sought out the steepest climbs I have mapped out in the Phoenix area this morning (one hits 16%) and really hammered up one of them so I could stop long enough to snap this picture. I've always enjoyed climbing best, and though I am not genetically predisposed to be overly good at it (145 pounds and about 5' 3" would be best---and that's not me!), I am still on track to climb an incredible 40 miles straight up this riding year. I actually much prefer the hard work of ascending to the hair-raising experience of descending. This morning I was coming down one of those steep climbs when one of the very prevalent desert rabbits decided that was the greatest time his tiny little brain had ever thought of to dart across the road. Impact avoided, thankfully, but just another reminder that at 35 mph on a downhill, even the smallest of items can ruin your day.
This was the first day back on the bike after my ride Saturday. I gave up on waiting for it to cool down here in Phoenix (highs 104-107 all week still!), and I really needed to do a long, long ride. So I jumped in my car early Saturday morning and drove up to Flagstaff, Arizona. Now, Flagstaff is beautiful. Pine forests and lakes and everything. But...my entire ride Saturday, which lasted just over eight hours on the bike, was between 6,800 feet above sea level and 7,255 feet above sea level. That's not exactly an "oxygen rich" altitude. And the wind picked up as the day went along. And I ended up climbing 3,560 ft as well. So, the 130 miles I covered wasn't half bad, given that I am normally riding at 1200 ft, not 7000 ft. I stopped on my last loop back to my car and snapped this picture of Lake Mary.
Ergun Caner Mocks His Critics and Returns to His Old Tricks
09/27/2010 - James White
Partial Justice...It Isn't Over
09/24/2010 - James White
A jury Friday acquitted four Christian missionaries who were accused of inciting a crowd while videotaping themselves proselytizing to Muslims at the Dearborn Arab International Festival in June.
Nabeel Qureshi of Virginia, Negeen Mayel of California, and Paul Rezkalla and David Wood, both of New York, were acquitted of breach of peace, 19th District Court officials in Dearborn said after the verdict. Mayel was found guilty of failure to obey a police officer’s order.
Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. said Friday night that he respects the decision but that the missionaries were anti-Muslim bigots pulling a publicity stunt to gain attention on YouTube in order to raise money.
“It’s really about a hatred of Muslims,” O’Reilly said. “That is what the whole heart of this is..… Their idea is that there is no place for Muslims in America. They fail to understand the Constitution.”
Do you think O'Reilly is trying to keep his job in sharia-laden Dearborn or what? Amazing, absolutely amazing. Thankfully, God knows, God judges, justice will be done.
The bogus conviction of Negeen will be appealed, and, of course, overturned. The question is, when will the real lawsuits be filed to expose the utter contempt shown for the Constitution, and the truth, by the Dearborn Police and government?
Debate with Abdullah Kunde on Assurance of Salvation in Islam and Christianity
09/24/2010 - James WhiteThe debate will take place live, via Skype, at 8pm EDT. You can watch live here. Watch, and pray!
They Call It "PayBack"
09/24/2010 - James White
Someone really needs to challenge the use of "Veritas" for these gatherings.
Meanwhile, the gospel keeps getting trampled under foot by the Great Evangelical Cover Up. Note the assertion of Mr. Khan that Christians "fear" people becoming Muslims in this new video exposing more of Ergun Caner's fundamental ignorance of the very field he is viewed as the leading expert in. Again, this is produced by a Muslim, from a Muslim perspective. I don't agree with his reactions, but the facts are the facts. And at the end you will see a comparison of Ergun Caner's jibberish about the mosque in Kabul---and as I suspected, it is just like when you try to get most of the folks on TBN to repeat the "angelic tongues" they used the week before. It's worthy of being posted on the failblog.
More Ergun Caner Errors, How NOT to Define the Gospel, and Calls, Calls, Calls, on the DL
09/23/2010 - James WhiteAnother video has been posted with embarrassing statements from Ergun Caner regarding his fundamental misunderstandings of basic Islamic terminology and concepts. Spent a few minutes at the top of the show reviewing that, then listened to a portion of an Unbelievable radio show from London where a Christian, in speaking to an atheist, offered a horrific presentation of the gospel, which was no gospel at all. It was a "try Jesus, even if you don't believe in Him" type of presentation that really needs to be challenged. Then we started with the calls, talking to Peter in Germany, and then many others, on a wide variety of very interesting subjects. A fast moving hour indeed! Here's the program.
Bryan Cross places the Cart before the Horse, Theologically Speaking (With Additional Commentary by James White)
09/23/2010 - Tur8infanOver at Called to Communion, in the comment box, Bryan Cross wrote:
In the first century, no one needed to confess that Christ is homoousious with the Father. But after the fourth century, to deny the homoousious is to fall into [at least material] heresy.This is dead wrong and gets things exactly backwards. It has always been heresy to deny the Son's divinity. Arius was a heretic before Nicaea, and the Nicene council simply affirmed (with respect to Arianism) what was always the teaching of the Bible.
The church does not make up orthodoxy. When the church does its job correctly, it merely recognizes the truth that was already once delivered to the saints. There was no new delivery in the fourth century or any of the succeeding centuries.
Of course, Romanists have to put the cart before the horse, because they've added to the gospel. If they tried to claim that it was always heresy to deny the Immaculate Conception, they'd have to treat Augustine, and the Augustinians down through Aquinas as heretics. So, they place the cart before the horse and say that it is only heresy to deny the Immaculate Conception after "the Church" makes that doctrine part of the gospel.
The absurd result is the one that Bryan Cross has illustrated above, where the Son's divinity becomes something that it was ok to deny before 325 A.D.
Amazing - absolutely amazing.
Additional Commentary from James White:
Amazing indeed. The very nature of truth itself is now determined by Rome's anachronistic reading of history and the proclamation of her own pretentious claims to spiritual authority.
The past few weeks have been rather eye-opening for me. Debating two of the three most recent dogmatic definitions from the Roman See has illustrated the reality that while Rome may claim revelation ceased with the last of the apostles, functionally, that is pure mythology. The Immaculate Conception is so utterly foreign to divine revelation and the beliefs of the early church that it makes a mockery of the claim that Rome often makes that she is guided by Scripture and Tradition, since neither could ever "guide" anyone into defining such mythology as dogma. While her arguments for other of her false doctrines manage to hide this fundamentally authoritarian character (believe it because we tell you to), there is simply no way to paper over these Marian dogmas with a plausible pretense of Scripture and Tradition.
Cross confuses the fact that Christian truth is capable of being communicated in ever widening circles of language, culture, and worldview (a truth) with the idea that Rome's definitions (and Rome had almost nothing to do with Nicea, I note, and even the Nicene symbol had to fight for acceptance, and did so on the basis of its fundamental truthfulness, not on the basis of Roman support) determine the truth. If Rome speaks the truth, she does so only derivatively, after-the-fact, not because she has any authority whatsoever to determine such things. Rome says there is one God: well and good, that revelation was given long before the city of Rome arose from the cow pastures. Rome says Jesus is truly God: once again, very good, but that revelation was made by God himself in history in the incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and recorded for us in the warp and woof of the New Testament revelation. To make that truth dependent upon a man in Rome is a reprehensible denial of the Holy Spirit's power to speak with clarity in His own divine revelation.
A Few Miscellaneous Notes on a Wednesday
09/22/2010 - James WhiteRandy wrote:
Regarding today's Dividing Line, you *do* use "Anti-Calvinist" quite a bit, along with "Anti-Trinitarian," and "Anti-Reformed" rather than calling them by their "postive" terms. So, stay consistent as to whether people should be defined by what they are positively (Arminian, Oneness believers) or whether it's fair game for folks to call each other Anti- whatever. Because, you do it too, which I've found unfortunate at times.I note that David Armstrong, Catholic Apologist and Graphic Distorter Extraordinaire, likewise did a search for "anti" on my website.
Of course, what I was referring to is the use of the term "anti-Catholic" as a buzz term meant to poison the well. When I refer to Roman Catholic apologists I refer to them as just that: Roman Catholic apologists. I refer to Mormon apologists, Islamic apologists, etc. I do not make my position the norm and then define everyone else thereby. While there are some who could be rightly described by such very limited phraseology (those who never make a positive presentation of their own positions, and are focused solely upon a single "error" to which they respond constantly), the Roman Catholic use of this phrase "anti-Catholic" is so constant and so transparently meant to conjure up images of Jack Chick that I feel my meaning was quite plain.
What is more, there is, obviously, a world of difference between identifying a statement by someone as "anti-Reformed" (as you can identify many such statements from the likes of Dave Hunt or the leadership of Calvary Chapel) and engaging in the mantra-like repetition of "anti-Catholic" that one hears on EWTN. This is a simple matter of contextualization and not engaging in basic category errors.
Next, we get some real doozies when it comes to e-mails, especially from our Roman Catholic friends. Months ago I got this one, was going to post it, but never go around to it. Since I got another interesting one this morning, I thought I'd dig it up. Julie wrote in:
ALthough Mr. White has a fair amount of knowledge, it is quite apparent (not only from his writings but from watching him speak) that his spiritual life is not very deep and is over reliant on emotion. Interestingly, the famous Carl Jung said "I have treated many hundreds of patients, the larger number, being Protestants, a smaller number Jews and not moire than 5 or 6 believing Catholics". His observations where confirmed by others: Catholics who followed their faith had less anxiety and turmoil inside then Protesants. You all need the sacraments, my friends. The Last Supper was prefigured by the wedding of Cana; a substantial change happens at both. Jesus was very anxious to have SUPPER with his disciples, not just to talk with them. It is a memorial of his sacrifice, for the pain and lacerated body are not present on the altar at Mass, but His glorified body, presenting his sacrifice forever to the Father. Jesus wants to get as close to your heart as He can. You are what you eat. Mr. White can become another Christ, but it is his chose. His calvinism probably psychological influences his lack of decision on this matter. Some of his arguments are sound, but in general he is wrong and leading people astray. May God have mercy on his soul...I wasn't aware Rome granted to its followers the ability to read hearts and minds! In any case, this next one came in this morning from a "proud convert to the Universal Church of Christ" (ever noticed how rarely these folks talk about being converted to Christ, but instead, to Rome?) named Charles:
I notice that at the top of your page you cite Luther's 5 solas. Does Mr. White also believe in the real presence of the Eucharist, Baptismal grace, and the Immaculate Conception? From my reading this website I would say not. So if not Luther, who has interpreted the Bible without error? Anyone? Are only those who are as smart as Mr. White able to discern what the Bible really means? At one point, Mr. White has to realize that he is fighting a war, not for God, but for his own personal beliefs about God. What makes him feel good inside is what must be the truth. I for one, thought not nearly as educated as Dr. White, am happy to follow, without question, a Church that at least states that Christian Dogma has little to do with an exercise of the mind, but rather an exercise of the soul and heart.One can only hope and pray such glib blindness will be removed by sovereign grace so that the gospel of Jesus Christ may become clear to Julie and Charles.
A Proud Convert (2 years) to the Universal Church of Christ.
This website is just plain ridiculous in it's premise that the Catholic Church hasn't gotten anything right. I'd rather trust the Holy Spirit than a man, no matter how brilliant and well-researched his positions.
Today on the Dividing Line: Robert Sungenis on TurretinFan's Response to Christopher Ferrara, Patty Bonds on "Deep in Scripture," and Answering Unitarians
09/21/2010 - James WhiteI think that is the longest title to a DL blog entry I've ever produced! We started off looking at Robert Sungenis' comments in response to TurretinFan's article on the Immaculate Conception debate with Christopher Ferrara. I must say, Dr. Sungenis was very nice to talk to and debate in Santa Fe. He should be commended. But this article left me searching for words to describe the abject circularity of the Roman position, it truly did. I was completely amazed. Then I moved on to the September 1, 2010 edition of "Deep in Scripture" with host Marcus Grodi, where Patty Bonds was invited to give Scriptural insights. I used this as an excellent example of "Convert Syndrome," and the methodology of those who, like Grodi, specialize in "conversion to Rome" rather than "conversion to Christ" evangelism. Then we had a caller who had hung in there with us on hold the entire program, so we went a few minutes long to address his questions concerning dealing with unitarians in the Messianic Jewish movement. Here's the program.
The Assumption of Mary: An Analysis of the Recent Debate with Robert Sungenis
09/21/2010 - James SwanOn Friday, September 10, Dr. White debated Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis on the assumption of Mary. Dr White Discussed this debate on Iron Sharpens Iron. You can listen to it here.
Other recent ISI shows:
Jamin Hubner: The Atheist vs. Christian Debate on 'Is the New Testament Evil': One Christian's Analysis
TurretinFan: The Debate on the Immaculate Conception & Sinlessness of Mary: One Protestant's Analysis (part one)
TurretinFan: The Debate on the Immaculate Conception & Sinlessness of Mary: One Protestant's Analysis (part two)
Quick Monday Miscellaneous
09/20/2010 - James WhiteFirst, I will be on Iron Sharpens Iron to discuss my debates with Robert Sungenis in about forty minutes (8PM EDT). http://sharpens.blogspot.com.
Second, I forgot to let folks know about a sermon I delivered on a biblically-based doctrine of the believer's security in Christ while in Santa Fe. It is not your normal sermon on the topic, but, I think it will be helpful to folks to hear "the whole story." You can find it here.
A video preview of the sermons delivered in New York a few months ago at the JCM Summit Conference has been posted here. Enjoy!
Finally, Carla tells me there is a sale on t-shirts at Zazzle, which means the Team Apologian gear is even more affordable then ever! http://www.zazzle.com/teamapologian/tshirts is the link, and the coupon code is AUTUMNZAZZLE.
Biblical Theology in Pastoral Practice
09/20/2010 - Jeff DownsI am currently reading Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church for fun, but also in preparation for (Lord willing) pastoral ministry. What I've read so far I am really enjoying, with one exception.
I do not understand why some theologians, when speaking of covenants, buy in to Meredith Kline's view. It bothers me that when Michael Lawrence writes on this particular issue, that Kline's covenant theology is a given.* It appears to me that the disciples of Kline build their case (their starting point) on extra-biblical revelation instead of the other way around. Perhaps there are similarities with "international relations in the ancient Near East" (55), but the ANE is not the starting point for the Christian (the reformed community has witnessed in recent years, downgrade of biblical revelation when ANE takes precedence). Lawrence subsequently seems to buy into the republication theory stating "unlike the Abrahamic covenant, however, this [the Mosaic covenant] is a covenant of works" (60). Now, he doesn't explain what he means by "covenant of works," but it raises eyebrows in light of some of the articles in this book. I am enjoying Lawrence's book and I believe he accomplishes his purpose: to help pastors put biblical theology into ordinary pastoral practice; so I do recommend it, with the one caution.
*Lawrance tells in his footnote that "this entire section, but especially the first two paragraphs, is largely taken from Meredith Kline, Treaty of the Great King." Thankfully, Lawrance goes on to state "a more recent, and more accessible, treatment of this can be found in O.Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants."
On another note, you may want to check out this recent interview with Fred Zaspel on his new book The Theology of B. B. Warfield.
Glory-Based Apologetics vs. Rebel-Based Apologetics
09/19/2010 - James WhiteI was pondering a statement I saw this morning from William Lane Craig. It represents the form of apologetics that is based upon non-Reformed theology and soteriology in particular. It is, without a doubt, far more "popular" than the methodology I am committed to. The statement contains truth, but it is placed within a matrix of sub-biblical thinking. Here it is:
"Successful evangelism involves not only harvesting, but sowing and watering, too. We must never think that because a nonbeliever remained unconvinced by our case that our apologetic has failed. For one encounter is not the end of the story." (Five Views on Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), p. 288.How many times have I said something that sounds so very similar, but is yet so very different? Maybe if I rephrased it:
God-glorifying evangelism involves not only harvesting, but sowing and watering, too. We must never think that because a rebel sinner continues in his rebellion despite the declaration of God's truth that our proclamation has been in vain. For God is always glorified when His truth is proclaimed, and He may well draw His elect in another way at another time."See, the reason even rejected proclamation is never a waste of time is because such a proclamation is honoring to God, because it is the declaration of His Lordship and truth. The impact of a sub-biblical theology, a sub-biblical view of the gospel, and a sub-biblical view of man, is seen in Craig's phraseology. Rebel sinners who reject God's truth are merely unbelievers. Their rejection of the Gospel is not a sinful act of rebellion; no, they merely remain "unconvinced." What is presented is "our case," rather than God's Kingly rights. And what has not "failed" is "our apologetic," when in fact, the real issue is whether the Holy Spirit of God will cause God's truth to come alive in the heart of that rebel sinner, bring the miracle of regeneration, and glorify the triune God through the salvation of another undeserving sinner!
Doing apologetics to the glory of God, knowing the truth about those who will hear us, is a very different thing than trusting in our "case," our "approach." A friend told me recently that he was talking to a student of WLC who said he would rather lose a debate than use my "approach." Well, I can understand that. The difference in these approaches is not a matter of taste or style, but of substance. The differences lie in our foundations, in the very Gospel we seek to proclaim to the honor and glory of our Lord.
It's not 33,000 Protestant Denominations, But Millions
09/18/2010 - James SwanThere seems to be a new conversion story every day of a lost Protestant finding his way across the Tiber. Based on these testimonies, one may be tempted to think the Roman church is growing while Protestant churches are dwindling. Haven't Rome's defenders been doing such a stellar job with apologetics, so that the conversions are coming fast and furious? Shouldn't the number of Protestant churches therefore be going down?
According to one of Rome's apologists, the opposite is true. There has been an increase in Protestant church bodies. It no longer is 33,000 Protestant denominations. John Martignoni says there are now millions:
There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Protestant denominations, and the main reason for this is sola scriptura. Now, I admit that my "experiences" constitute anecdotal evidence, but I have found nothing to dissuade me from the notion that my anecdotal evidence is not indicative of a much more widespread phenomenon. And, for clarity's sake, I define a Protestant denomination as a religious unit of one or more persons that has: 1) A particular set of beliefs on matters of faith and morals, which may or may not be unique to that group; and 2) Has its own structure of authority that ultimately answers to no human being outside of the denomination.
John's statistical conclusions come from his use and gathering of "anecdotal evidence." He's delved into his wealth of subjective experience and arrived at a conclusion about reality. That's quite a rigorous apologetic presentation, similar to a Mormon missionary arguing from a burning in the bosom.
Aside from the fact that his estimate of millions of Protestant denominations has no real evidence to back it up, there are a few other problems with his burning in the bosom apologetic conclusions. His subjective feelings have informed him that sola scriptura is the culprit. This reminds me of someone who blames a situation on one idea or a particular group of people at the expense of other factors that should figure into an equation. Secondly, his feelings don't seem to be moved when it comes to evaluating divisions within Romanism. Is sola scriptura the culprit for that as well? The irony is that this very statement from Mr. Martignoni was not written in response to a Protestant, but to Roman Catholics stating the 33,000 denominations argument should be abandoned. That is, Martignoni's is at odds with the conclusions of another Romanist. It's one Romanist opinion against another. Perhaps sola scriptura is responsible for this as well? No, Romanists are allowed to disagree with each other simply because they say they say they are able to do so.
Mr. Martignoni then gave his personal opinion of what constitutes a Protestant body. This also appears to be based on his burning in the bosom apologetic conclusions. Is this Rome's official definition? No, it's once again, John's personal opinion. Interestingly, the guys over at Triablogue have been revisiting this same subject. In this post, it is pointed out that dumping 33,00 denominations into one big pile can only be done consistently if they actually share something in common: "So the very objection to Protestant diversity tacitly assumes that all Protestant denominations have a common denominator. They must have something essentially in common that makes all of them Protestant." In other words, the 33,000 different denominations actually share at least one thing in common in order to be classified together. This post also points out inherent difficulties with Romanist argumentation and is worth a look at.
When it comes right down to it, Roman Catholic apologists like Martignoni suffer from gross double standards in their methodology. Many of their arguments and conclusions stem from their own subjective feelings and private interpretations of Romanism and the Bible. They don't even begin to point their same arguments back on their own worldview to see how consistent they are.
If You Want to Hear Some of the Trinity vs. Unitarianism Debate
09/17/2010 - James WhiteI am listening to yesterday's Line of Fire radio program with Michael Brown, and he provided some clips from the audio of the debate (we were having an uber-geek contest: he bested me with his cool pen that records audio and other cool stuff, and I had him with my uber-cool iPad connected to the net via my Droid's 3g hot spot out in the audience). He includes our opening statements and some other portions. Neat to hear! Now I need to find out what kind of pen/recording device that was before he gets an iPad! You can catch his webcast here (I subscribe in iTunes).
09/17/2010 - Jeff DownsThe guys at Christ the Center recently discussed the issue of Natural Theology and in particular Michael Sudduth's book The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology. On the panel was one of my favorite writers in apolologetics Dr. Scott Oliphint and James Dolezal. This is a deep discussing but worth the listen Click here to listen.
For Oliphint's discussion on theology and philosophy, this is the book to read.
Current Happenings in Roman Catholic Apologetics
09/17/2010 - James SwanMy busy schedule has left me little time to write, however, I do still check in on a number of Roman Catholic apologists each day. Here's what I found today.
In some cases, there really isn't anything new under the sun. Take for instance Gerry Matatics. Gerry updates his website a few times a year, if that. His recent offering is entitled, Gerry Matatics Still Alive! It's typical Gerry- an apology for not updating his site, and then information on his latest tour. Gerry's latest insights include the following against a particular brand of Roman Catholic clergy (somewhat reminiscent of Harlod Camping's view of the church):
"I have been stunned to discover by my in-depth research over the last two years into sacramental theology, moral theology, and canon law, that most such clergy today do NOT possess this mission and jurisdiction, and to discover that because such unauthorized clergy culpably violate God's law in these matters they are NOT authentically functioning to bring the graces they claim to bring to Catholics during the current crisis."
Over on Francis Beckwith's blog, he re-posted his conversion story. In case this wasn't enough, he also posted another entry with a link to his story which aired on the Journey Home a year ago. Why? How many times does his story need to be told? Well, the "story" is a main Romanist apologetic tool (if not the main Romanist apologetic tool), so I would speculate he'll continue to post it, often. My take on these stories can be found here.
This one is truly a mystery to me. Robert Sungenis is posting a link to an mp3 of Dr. White's recent debate with Christopher Ferrara on The Immaculate Conception & Sinlessness of Mary. After listening to this debate, I can't believe any Roman Catholic apologist would think this debate was any sort of triumph for Romanism. Here's an irony for those of you who've heard the debate. Mr. Ferrara repeatedly appealed to the absolute trustworthiness of Rome. If the quote below is from the same Christopher Ferrara, he doesn't trust his ultimate authority when it comes to Fatima:
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ten years after the Vatican divulged one of the church's best-kept secrets -- the third part of the message of Fatima -- a small band of skeptics and critics are still questioning the official explanation. More than 100 of them gathered at a hotel not far from the Vatican in early May for a week long conference on such topics as "Fatima and the Global Economic Crisis," "The Present Need for the Consecration of Russia" and "Is There a Missing Text of the Third Secret?" For those in attendance, the answer to that last question is a no-brainer. "The evidence points to only one conclusion: that something has to be missing," said Christopher A. Ferrara, a U.S. attorney and Catholic commentator who spoke at the conference. Ferrara pointed to what he described as a series of incongruities and inconsistencies in the Vatican's version. Among people truly familiar with the events at Fatima, he said, only a minority "cling steadfastly to the notion that an ambiguous vision of a bishop dressed in white outside a half-ruined city is all there is to the third secret."
Art Sippo is still saying things like, "EVERYONE experiences themselves as having free will (except psychotics and Calvinists)". Steve Ray is poking fun at modern evangelical services, but leaving out the fact Roman Catholics have wacky Church services as well. Perhaps he missed the episode of Catholic Answers in which Tim Staples explained why he left a particular Roman Catholic Church he attended because the priest had his congregation do "the wave."
These are just a few of my recent cyber stops. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
The Assyrian Encyclopedia Sam Shamoun on the Dividing Line
09/16/2010 - James WhiteSam Shamoun joined me live in studio today. We started off with a discussion of the debate that took place Tuesday evening on the Jewish Voice Broadcast here in Phoenix (Sam was in the audience), and then started taking calls on a wide variety of issues, including one from the ever enigmatic TurretinFan! Here's the program.
Trinitarianism vs. Unitarianism on the Jewish Voice Broadcast
09/15/2010 - James WhiteWhen I get word from the folks at the Jewish Voice Broadcast I will let you know when they plan to air the debate that took place last evening. I teamed up with Dr. Michael Brown in defending the biblical doctrine of the Trinity against Sir Anthony Buzzard, who taught at the Atlanta Bible College for 24 years, and Joseph Good. The debate took place in three stages, all very fast-moving. Michael and I worked together very well. Given the very short time periods (normally two minutes for one side to answer a question, 90 seconds for the other side to respond), we had to be focused in the extreme. If there had been differences between us on the issue that would have been an impossible time-format. But we both have extensive radio and television experience, so working with tight time constraints was not new. We were focused upon the biblical evidence, and often raised key texts that received no response from our unitarian opponents. I will ask Sam Shamoun, who was in the studio audience, for his review of the debate when he joins me tomorrow afternoon on The Dividing Line, live. So make sure to join us then!
Debates Past, Debates Present, Debates Future, on the DL
09/14/2010 - James WhiteGave a report on this past weekend's debates in Santa Fe with Robert Sungenis, a little preview of the debate this evening on the Jewish Voice Broadcast where I am teaming up with Michael Brown to defend the Trinity (no, I cannot live stream it, but, of course, it will air on the program in the near future), and then spent some time playing clips from Anthony Buzzard (one of our opponents this evening). Please pray for the debate this evening, 6-9:30pm MST. Here's the program.
Quick Turn Around: Sorry for the Silence
09/13/2010 - James WhiteAs our readers know, I have a two-on-two debate tomorrow evening here in Phoenix, where I will team up with Dr. Michael Brown in defense of the Trinity against two unitarians, including Sir Anthony Buzzard. So I have not had time for blogging, and evidently the rest of the team is just as busy as I am. My apologies. But I thought I would take a moment to note that the OliveTree app for iPad will be what is running when I do the debate tomorrow evening. I have found how to insert rather full notes, using unicode Greek and Hebrew, into the text. Since it has great menus, I can get from one text to another very quickly, and by inserting important notes right into the text, I am, in essence, creating an "apologetics study Bible" text right on my iPad. For example, I just inserted the textual critical data on John 1:18 into a note attached to that text which includes not only the NA27 data (from my Logos library) but the CNTTS data as well (from Accordance). I also included the four-point argument relating to Romans 9:5 from The Forgotten Trinity as well. This will be very, very helpful in situations where speed (and time) is of the essence, such as in debates, or in this case, the even more challenging situation of doing a debate on a television program!
I have been amazed at how the iPad has come to do more and more for me when traveling and debating. I never expected it to have the capacities that it does. Those at the debates the past two weekends have seen how I have used it to control my KeyNote presentations, take my notes, function as English Bible text, Greek text, LXX text, Hebrew text, repository of notes on relevant subjects, etc. And now that I have the 3G HotSpot via Froyo on my Droid, I can have the iPad wirelessly connected to both the Internet (for quick searches) as well as to my MacBook Pro (for transfer of files, quotations, citations, etc., using either SyncDocs with Notebooks, or DropCopy--all iPad apps).
Well, enough geek speak for the moment! Yes, I will be doing the DL tomorrow, live, at its regular Tuesday morning time.
Norman Geisler Remains Silent: the Cover Up is Working
09/11/2010 - James WhiteTwo months ago I posted the following video in which I ask Dr. Geisler to answer three questions. Two months have passed, and Dr. Geisler has remained silent. The game plan of those involved in the cover-up of the Ergun Caner Scandal is now clear. Taking a page directly from the political play book (that seems to be the new ultimate authority for many in leadership at Liberty Seminary, note the Beck controversy), Geisler and the others who have purposefully sought to provide Ergun Caner a means of avoiding public confession and repentance regarding his false public pronouncements and claims are banking on evangelicals in general to partake of the same kind of mindset one American political party is hoping will work between now and November, or at least now and November of 2012: a short memory. Westerners are easily distracted, with an attention span just a bit longer than a shoelace. We tire easily, get "bored," need something "new" to rev us up. Knowing this propensity, the perpetrators of the Cover Up know that eventually, over time, people lose their focus upon such topics as "integrity in the pulpit," "discernment in ministry," "honesty in proclamation," "consistency in apologetics," and the like. "Yeah, he shouldn't have lied like that, but hey, he's a nice guy, so let's just move on." No confession, no repentance, no restoration, just another black eye to the Christian ministry, the integrity of Christian apologetics, and the sanctity of the pulpit.
So I wish to remind folks, especially folks who might be attending "discernment" or "apologetics" seminars featuring the primary architects of the Cover Up, of the questions they might want to ask Norman Geisler, Ergun Caner, and others. Personally, I am still waiting for Dr. Geisler's insightful identification of, and discussion of, Hadith 2425. I think he should look for it right next to Bible 916.
Quick Report from Santa Fe
09/11/2010 - James WhiteIt's a beautiful morning here in Santa Fe. I have become accustomed to arising early in the mornings of late, but this morning---I didn't. It takes quite a while to wind down after two full debates (on two widely divergent topics), so I didn't get to bed overly early either. In any case, I'm 4/6ths of the way through the "month of uber debating." The audio of both debates has already been posted by the church here. We will post them at aomin.org next week. The church video recorded the debates as well (it helps with all the citations I presented, especially in the Bodily Assumption debate) and we hope to have the DVDs and mp4s up before long.
I do believe that the person who charts out debates (i.e., does a flow chart following lines of argumentation, testing for consistency and logic) will find the first debate very enlightening. I tried as best as I could to untangle Dr. Sungenis' use of terminology to try to bring clarity to the issue, but it was difficult. Though Robert claims to understand Reformed theology, I leave it to the listener to discover if that is a sustainable conclusion. In any case, a very clear contrast between a once-for-all, God-centered gospel and a theoretical, man-centered system of synergism was presented. I wish I had asked the question I gave at the end of my closing statement during cross-examination, for Dr. Sungenis did not understand or answer the question. But I think that in and of itself spoke clearly to the real answer and hence to the resolution of the debate.
The second debate was truly eye-opening. First, I think I should point out that Robert Sungenis is the only Roman Catholic out there that I know of who will actually stand in public debate to defend the Bodily Assumption--the "big names" know better! They know there is no meaningful way to defend this concept outside of saying, "Look, the Roman Church says it, believe it!" That is all Rome has, really, and that does not hold up well to examination. But I think the Bodily Assumption is the single clearest illustration of the fact that all of Rome's apologists are simply dishonest (or deceived, or both) when they proclaim fealty to "Scripture and Tradition." The Bodily Assumption is found in neither, which is why Sungenis had to take the route, "We don't need Scripture or Tradition." Think how many times you've heard Staples, Akin, Keating, Madrid, et al talk about Scripture and Tradition, and yet in reality, neither is relevant to the dogma of the Bodily Assumption. This dogma is a shining example of sola ecclesia, the Roman Church, and in this instance, the Roman bishop, as the final and ultimate authority. What the listener will find fascinating here is that the Roman Catholic position is left fighting desperately not only against sound exegesis (as it always is), but against a cadre of sound, contextually accurate patristic citations as well. This debate is one of the clearest exposures of Rome's true nature I've ever participated in, right up there with the Stravinskas debate on purgatory.
Since I'm down to only one Flip video unit, I recorded only the cross-examination periods of both debates, which I provide here:
I will be speaking here in New Mexico through Sunday morning, and then home for the Unitarianism debate on the Jewish Voice Broadcast on Tuesday. The race continues on!
To Burn or Not to Burn
09/10/2010 - Jeff DownsI had a chance to sit down with Anees Zaka and ask the question. Nothing professional about the recording.
Scripture or "Fitness" - Two Standards Compared
09/09/2010 - Tur8infanAugustine wrote:
It is by these manners of speech, when we speak of things that do not happen to God as though they did, that we acknowledge it is he who makes them happen to us, those things at least that are praiseworthy, and these only to the extent that scriptural usage allows it. I mean, we certainly ought not to say anything of the sort about God, which we do not read in his scriptures.- Augustine, Commentary on the Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book IV, Chapter 9, Section 17 (PL34:302); translation in The Works of Saint Augustine: a Translation for the 21st Century, Part I (Books), Volume 13, On Genesis, p. 251 (New City Press, Hyde Park, NY: 2002)
Latin Text: His locutionum modis, cum ea quae non accidunt Deo tamquam illi accidant loquimur, eum facere agnoscimus ut nobis accidant; ea duntaxat quae laudabilia sunt: et haec quantum Scripturarum usus admittis. Neque enim nos temere aliquid tale de Deo dicere debemus, quod in Scriptura eius non legimus.
Augustine would say that we should not say things about God that we do not read about in His Scriptures, yet we see Rome trying to create extra-biblical traditions about God and what God has done, all the time.
We see it in the Immaculate Conception dogma and the Assumption of Mary dogma. These dogmas cannot be defended from Scripture. Nevertheless, Rome (through many of her apologists) attempts to defend these dogmas on the grounds of fitness.
It is very nice to say that something would be “fitting,” but would it not be as “fitting” to preserve Mary entirely from having to watch her firstborn child (Matthew 1:25 & Luke 2:7) be crucified? Would it not be “fitting” for God to preserve Mary from the sword piercing her heart (Luke 2:34-35 & Mark 3:21-35)?
If you think it would not be fitting for his mother to be a sinner, how much less fitting that his maternal grandparents be sinners? How much less fitting that he be descended from the illicit tryst of Judah and Tamar (Matthew 1:3 & Genesis 38:6-30), or from the illicit union of Lot and his eldest daughter (Matthew 1:5; Ruth 4:10; and Genesis 19:29-38) ?
If you think it would not be fitting for such a great woman as Mary to be assumed into heaven, how does the end of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:6-11 & Mark 6:21-28) square with you? To have his head lopped off as the prize for an exotic dancer? Why should not the greatest of all the prophets (Matthew 11:11 & Luke 7:28) meet an end like Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24 & Hebrews 11:5) or Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-14)?
Man's ideas of "fitness" are an untrustworthy and reliable measure of things. God himself declares, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9) The proper measure is God's revelation of himself through Scripture. Even so, let us measure, rather than harkening unto fables and judging things according to our weak sense of "fitness."
My Attempt to Reason with Dr. Jones of Gainesville
09/09/2010 - James WhiteLast evening I attempted to reason with Dr. Jones, of "Burn the Qur'an" fame, on ABN last night. At least I tried, and made my offer to him! My call begins 3:15 into the following video, and concludes in the second video:
OK, Enough of the Small Congregation Bashing!
09/08/2010 - James WhiteAs the media ramps up for the "Qur'an Burning Crisis" of 9/11/10 (can you really believe this?) I simply had to make a further comment (beyond what I said on the DL yesterday). I'm against the burning of the Qur'an because it is not accompanied with any meaningful discussion of the errors of the Qur'an, let alone a positive presentation of the truth of the gospel. As such, it's just a dumb act of violence. And the Islamic reaction that has been threatened around the world is a reprehensible blight upon Islam, proof that the phrase "the religion of perpetual outrage" is appropriate for the large majority of what calls itself Islam. But, those issues aside, I am truly sick and tired of the constant bashing of the Florida church for being small. Is that somehow relevant? Would it matter if the church had 500 members, or 5,000, or 15,000? Would that somehow add to, or detract from, the meaning of the action? The issue should be whether those engaging in the act are doing so out of hatred, ignorance, etc., not how many are part of the congregation. I have heard the relative smallness of the congregation mentioned by news outlets, commentators, you name it, and I think the absurdity of the observation should be exposed.
Meanwhile, I was reminded today of the fact that the US military had "taken into custody," and, we are told, burned, an entire supply of Bibles that were translated into the local languages in Afghanistan. I did specifically protest that absurd act---but unlike Muslims in Indonesia and elsewhere who are threatening to kill and maim and burn and destroy, I did none of those things. I simply recognized that any government that would burn the Bible so as to attempt to pacify Muslims is unwise, and should not be asking for God's blessing upon their actions.
Remember, folks---the Muslims who are willing to riot and rampage over the burning of a few Qur'an's in Florida do not need any provocation to destest the "kafirs." They are offended by our mere existence. Think about it.
09/08/2010 - James WhiteWell...here it comes. From Friday the 10th through Friday the 24th I will be engaged in four debates---one in defense of the doctrines of grace, one on the Bodily Assumption of Mary (which I assure you will be a debate on Rome's claims to ultimate doctrinal authority more than anything else), one on Unitarianism (in partnership with Michael Brown on the Jewish Voice Broadcast, being video recorded right here in Phoenix--at least I don't have to travel to get there, the studios are within 2.5 miles of my house), and one on Islam on ABN (on the 24th). Very little overlap in topics, hence, maximum amount of study and preparation time required. I would blame whoever makes up my schedule, but that would be me.
These are all great opportunities, and I truly hope the Lord blesses. I would like to ask for your assistance in this effort. Please pray for clarity of mind and discipline of thought for me as I engage these wide variety of topics. Pray for Rich Pierce who gets the unenviable task of producing DVDs, mp4s, and mp3s of all of this. He already has a massive backlog, and has had to invest many hours in rebuilding our video PC which developed some kind of fatal system error. I believe I heard him say last evening as he was leaving that he was almost finished getting Adobe back up and operational. But at the moment, I'm debating faster than he can produce a finished product (six debates in less than a month may be some kind of record, when you include the two debates we just did in New York). Keep in mind as well that we are a small ministry, with only two employees, hence, we do not have the time to be doing "marketing" and the kind of resource development that many others focus so much time and energy on. Hence, one of the most encouraging things for me is to know that we are financially stable and able to continue to pursue these opportunities of bold witness and ministry as they arise. Along those lines, the Ministry Resource List remains for me, personally, one of the most encouraging resources we have. Every time I receive a book in the mail I know that means someone is standing with us and is basically saying, "Press forward!" I have placed a few more resources on that list, and once again express my sincerest thanks to those who have in the past aided my research and preparation thereby.
Don't forget that I will be doing my best to live stream both debates on Friday, 3pm MDT and 7pm MDT (those should be firm times). I was going to say, "Tune in," and realized just how wonderfully anachronistic that phrase has become!
Today on the Dividing Line: Burning Qur'ans, Apostates, and Calls
09/07/2010 - James WhiteStarted off with a statement on the "Burning Qur'an's" fiasco, took a call on Oneness Pentecostalism from London, concluded my comments on Marc Ayer's claims, took more calls, and finished up with part of the cross-examination between myself and Robert Sungenis from our debate on Papal Infallibility in Florida. Here's the program.
Roman Myths: Example 127,956. "Packing" the Audience
09/06/2010 - James WhiteEvery few weeks a thread pops up on the Catholic Answers forums relating to yours truly. Most are normally "eye-rollers" involving the penchant of folks to only want to listen to one side, find a quick and easy rebuttal that has little to do with truth, and move on. But recently one has popped up regarding the issues relating to Peter Stravinskas and the proposed debate that ended up being done by Christopher Ferrara (on the Immaculate Conception). Here was my last commentary on the situation. As you may recall, Stravinskas was threatening to take legal action over utterly un-actionable statements on my part simply announcing the cancellation of the debate, and why (that being his demand to control what would, and would not, be posted on line as far as clips from the debate---a demand never made by anyone before, and a demand I will never allow). During the course of our interaction, Stravinskas has been arrogant, unkind, and insulting. But given that he lives in a world where everyone calls him "Father" and defers to him, I doubt he is even aware of his behavior. In any case, he has made a false allegation against me, and I would like to point out that he, and everyone else repeating it, is once again showing their predilection for falsehood.
Stravinskas had originally claimed that I had in some sense packed the audience with my followers. This false assertion is picked up by "bona fides," one of the forum members:
But it was very clear to me from the video in the #2 link that White had salted the audience with deeply studied Protestant "experts" and that the audience was overwhelmingly stacked against Fr. Stravinskas.
This is simply absurd on its face. The debate was widely advertised on WMCA radio. Chris Arnzen did everything in his power to get both Catholics and Protestants to attend. Does this writer seriously think I was running about Long Island looking for "deeply studied Protestant experts" to attend the debate and ask audience questions? Most folks know I do not find audience questions particularly useful, and do not think a debate would be missing anything at all if that time was given to the prepared speakers instead of the unprepared audience members, who, 85-90% of the time are not even asking a question, they just want to join in the argument! When I debated Hamza Abdul Malik just a few years before on Long Island, and 80% of the questions were by Muslims or non-Trinitarians, had I just forgotten to "salt" my audience that night? When a group of little old Catholic ladies sat on the front row during the priesthood debate with Mitch Pacwa, verbally "participating" regularly, was Pacwa then to be charged with "salting" the audience? I might well consider that allegation when it comes to the amazing audiences we encountered in Fullerton in our two debates with Tim Staples, including the ever-popular "Eucharist!" shouting argument used there (and the repeatedly whispered "Heretic!" that my children heard coming from those seated around them)! But it is just absurd beyond comment to accuse me of "salting" or "packing" the audience. I had absolutely nothing to do, whatsoever, with the composition of the audience. I spoke at various churches, people attended. I assume Stravinskas did (or could have done) the same thing. ...
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TurretinFan on Iron Sharpens Iron at 8PM
09/06/2010 - James WhiteOur very own TurretinFan will be on Iron Sharpens Iron at 8PM EDT here to continue examining the claims of Christopher Ferrara regarding the truth about Mary. I just learned about it, so I'm blogging the announcement as quickly as I can.
A Holiday Ride View
09/06/2010 - James WhiteAbout the only thing I like about certain holidays is I get to ride without dodging rush hour traffic. Hence my early morning foray into the as yet still rather hot Arizona atmosphere (supposed to drop into the not-nearly-as-hot range by mid week). 89 at the start, dropped to 83 out in the northern reaches of the Valley (Jomax and Lake Pleasant Road), 86 or so when I got back. This shot is on Happy Valley Road at the top of a little rise right around 90th Avenue (I've been surprised how many people have written and said things like, "Hey, my parents live out there!" or "I grew up in that area" etc.). It was still so dark it is a little fuzzy (long exposure), but it caught the desert foreground and the crescent moon which was so amazingly bright just a few weeks ago. Another reminder of the passage of time, to be sure, and the beauty of God's creation.
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Did Augustine Teach the Sinlessness of Mary?
09/06/2010 - Tur8infanI recently received an email from someone who was trying to argue that Augustine "clearly" taught that Mary was immaculate conceived. The person writing to me provided the following quotation (emphasis is his):
To which I reply:
"Now with the exception of the holy Virgin Mary in regard to whom, out of respect for the Lord, I do not propose to have a single question raised on the subject of sin -- after all, how do we know what greater degree of grace for a complete victory over sin was conferred on her who merited to conceive and bring forth Him who all admit was without sin -- to repeat then: with the exception of this Virgin, if we could bring together into one place all those holy men and women, while they lived here, and ask them whether they were without sin, what are we to suppose that they would have replied?" (On Nature and Grace, or De natura et gratia, Migne PL 44:267)
a) In this quotation, Augustine is refusing (at the time) to address the question of whether Mary had sin. He does not assert that she was sinless.
b) Augustine is saying that there is one (Jesus Christ) who certainly had no sin.
c) Augustine is addressing the issue of actual sin, not original sin.
Moreover, just a short time before writing "On Nature and Grace," Augustine wrote "On Merits and Forgiveness of Sins," in which he spoke more clearly: ...
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Calvary Chapel Bibliology Produces Another Believing Calvinist
09/05/2010 - James WhiteI have said many times over the years that Calvary Chapel is right on when it comes to the inspiration, inerrancy, consistency, and power of the Bible as God's Word. Fault them wherever else you may, but they encourage their people to read, and believe, the Bible, and that is vitally important. They are to be lauded and commended for this.
But here's the problem: if you tell folks to believe sola scriptura they will naturally follow on to tota scriptura, which means you will have to be consistent in your teaching and theology. If you embrace human traditions in opposition to biblical truths, you will be "found out" by someone reading the Bible consistently. And that is what happens, over and over again, in the Calvary Chapel movement. The great non-denominational denomination has embraced an anti-sovereignty, anti-Reformed polemic that simply cannot stand up under consistent scrutiny. As a result, people taught by them keep running into passage after passage that seems to be saying the exact opposite of what they are hearing from the pulpit in regards to the sovereignty of God's grace in salvation. And though the CC leadership does everything it can to "inoculate" its people against these truths, the Word keeps producing truth-lovers instead! My files are filled with e-mails from former Calvary Chapel folks who have seen through the smokescreen and, despite the poisoning of the well, come to understand God's kingly freedom. I got an e-mail from one last week, and asked if I could share it, from K.W.:
Greetings and blessings!
I'd just like to let you know that your work on reformed theology has been a blessing to me. I have just left the theology of my local Calvary Chapel and have embraced the doctrines of grace.
I listened to your February 9, 2010 episode of "The Dividing Line," entitled, "Why Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel Produce So Many Calvinists." I had to laugh, because I (and many others I know) are CC-produced Calvinists, true to your observation.
My particular church tends to look at the doctrines of election and grace as a vague, amorphous blob. I've been subjected to a doubtful "pendular" hermeneutic, demanding the following:
#1: When faced with a passage that makes an unequivocal statement regarding soteriology (John 6, Romans 9)...
#2: ...Search out a so-called "problem" verse that in no way makes an unequivocal statement regarding the topic (John 3:16, Ezekiel 18:32)...
#3:...Plot each of them as two contradictory extremes that cannot be emphasized by themselves...
#4:...And try to "camp out" somewhere in between the two, doing all you can to confuse people and toss up smoke screens.
As you can imagine, I have been perplexed for the last five years. We have often prided ourselves for "simply teaching the bible simply," being free from any tradition, and letting the Bible speak for itself.
Well, we haven't done so. I have a lot of catching up to do regarding this topic, and to be honest, I am still struggling with the shock of accepting what has been presented to me all these years as evil and blasphemous. However, I now know that Christ himself taught these things, and they tend toward wonderful peace and stability.
In short, thank-you for your work! It is not without fruit!
Just as Chosen But Free has produced a small army of Calvinists simply due to its incredibly poor argumentation (and ease of refutation!), so too any continued promotion of consistent, believing Bible reading will keep producing folks who see, and bow, to God's sovereignty.
Free Theological Papers!
09/05/2010 - Colin SmithFor those who might be interested, I have started posting papers that I have written for my Th.M. on my website. As Dr. White has often said in the past (and I agree with him), the value of a theological education is not where you get it, but what you do with it. It is my hope and prayer that the work that I do is of use to the church, and that the Lord will be pleased to bless His people through it. I have re-formatted the papers slightly (reduced the line spacing and some other minor tweaks), and saved them in PDF format. There are only a handful out there at the moment, but I will add more as time permits. The link to my site is http://www.colindsmith.com--just follow the "papers" link.
An Image That Touches My Heart
09/03/2010 - James WhiteI subscribe to the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, and the cover picture of this month's issue really touched my heart. I have become more and more convinced over the years that one of the primary signs of regeneration is found in a person's obedience to, love for, and respect of, the Word of God. Christians long for Scripture. They long to read Scripture, possess Scripture, meditate upon Scripture. And there seems to be an inverse relationship between how much we love it and how much access we have to it. We in the West take it for granted, and as such, our passion is often pathetically tepid. But here you have a sister in Laos reading a burned, tattered Bible. God's enemies have tried to destroy it, but it is still the Word of Life to her. Oh, may God grant to His people a renewed love for His Word in the face of the hatred of the world!
“If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
For by them you have given me life.”
How Many Popes Does it Take to Deny the Immaculate Conception?
09/03/2010 - Tur8infanDuring Dr. James White's debate with Christopher Ferrara on the alleged sinlessness and Immaculate Conception of Mary, Mr. Ferrara questioned the fact that a half dozen popes taught or held a position contrary to the dogma that was later defined as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Dr. White provided a citation to Schaff, the respected church historian, who identified seven popes, and in turn cited an earlier scholar. I've provided a more detailed discussion on my personal blog (here), but the following abridged version should address the main points of interest. Schaff wrote:
Even seven Popes are quoted on the same side, and among them three of the greatest, viz., Leo I. (who says that Christ alone was free from original sin, and that Mary obtained her purification through her conception of Christ), Gregory I., and Innocent III. [FN233 The other Popes, who taught that Mary was conceived in sin, are Gelasius I., Innocent V., John XXII., and Clement VI. (d. 1352). The proof is furnished by the Jansenist Launoy, Prœscriptions, Opera I. pp. 17 sqq. ...(Creeds of Christendom, Volume 1, Chapter 4, Section 29)
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A "Presuppositionalist" Swims the Tiber, and More on Today's DL
09/02/2010 - James WhiteStarted off with a recap of last weekend's debates, and then moved to the comments of a former presuppositionalist who swam the Tiber. Always interesting to listen to "converts." They always expose the real reasons with their comments. I even heard another such convert yesterday claim that she had once believed that there may be only a thousand people, like herself, who were truly "saved." Worse than her incredibly naive misrepresentations of "Calvinism" was the fact that the host of the program claims to be a former Presbyterian minister! How anyone can sit there and suffer such blatant misrepresentation of one's former "faith" is beyond my comprehension. In any case, we then started taking calls on the atonement, Mormonism, God's judgment, etc. Here's the program.
Tune in Iron Sharpens Iron Tonight!
09/02/2010 - James WhiteTurretinFan will be discussing my debate with Christopher Ferrara on Iron Sharpens Iron tonight, 8pm EDT (5pm PDT). TurretinFan wrote a helpful article after the debate, and has another he's working on as well, so it should be a great program. You can listen here. Why am I not going on? Because I have four debates in 22 days coming up, that's why. Working on my presentation on the Bodily Assumption of Mary for Santa Fe right now.
OK, I Must Agree: Best Video Ever. Academy Award Time for David and Nabeel
09/01/2010 - James WhiteI think I can now retire from Islamic apologetics. What is there left for me to do? After this Oscar-winning performance, I need to cancel all my future ABN appearances out of sheer embarrassment. Did David study under Olivier? At the feet of Shakespeare? The style, the grace...sheer genius.
Of course, the point of the video is two-fold; one to introduce issues relating to the constant claim of most Muslims that the Qur'an has basically been photocopied for 1400 years (it hasn't), and the second to say something I have wanted to address but haven't had time: the International "Burn a Qur'an Day" is stupid. Dumb. Ridiculous. Started by folks who have never even read it, as far as I can tell. Far, far better than Burn a Qur'an Day would be Read a Qur'an Day: but read it knowledgeably and with insight, learning from the experience how to better proclaim a life-changing gospel to a billion people. There's an idea! Don't burn it, learn it, and then use it, to glorify Christ! Yeah, that idea will go far.