Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Steve Ray Illustrates the Nature of RC Apologetics Methodology
08/17/2007 - James WhiteTuesday morning I posted an article that interacted with various aspects of the Roman Catholic claim that we must believe, as a de fidedogma of the Christian faith, that Mary was bodily assumed into heaven. This has been a defined dogma of the Roman religion for less than sixty years, but it is, in fact, a dogmatic teaching. I provided a video link to my interaction with Gerry Matatics on the subject, specifically,touching on the topic of Solomon/Bathsheba and the Queen Mother.I then quoted, in full, a paragraph from Steve Ray of catholic-convert.com presenting the logic of the exaltation of Mary to this position in Roman theology. I then responded to it, point by point, as an illustration of the amazingly shallow nature of argumentation Rome uses to substantiate its claim that this is a dogmatic teaching of the Christian faith.
Now if I might, I would like to point something out before moving on. There are two very, very good reasons (amongst others) to be discussing this issue (aside from the fact that the feast marking this oh-so-human tradition just passed). First, as always, this dogma is one of the clearest refutations of the oft-repeated claim that Rome is bound by Scripture and tradition. Neither binds Rome here, for she has dogmatized a belief that did not have the slightest place in apostolic preaching or in the life of the Christian church for centuries on end. Think of how many sermons were preached, and preserved, in the writings of that period that, especially after the rise of Marian devotion, were focused upon her. And yet not a single one ever mentions this belief? How is that possible? It is painfully obvious that we have here a dogma that is the creation of later centuries, based upon documents with no more meaningful credibility than the Acts of Philip from which the Talpiot Theory took its life, and yet, Rome has had the audacity to define it as a dogma! Secondly, the very fact that Rome has done this is tremendously detrimental to the apologetic cause of true Christianity. Why? Consider the following exchange between myself and Gerry Matatics:
Did you hear what he said? We have the exact same warrant to believe in the bodily assumption of Mary as we have to believe in the resurrection! What an incredible statement, and yet, is he not being consistent with a thoroughly Roman church-centered epistemology? In any case, it must be remembered that many in the Muslim world see Roman Catholicism as the quintessential expression of Christianity. And if Roman Catholics believe in such things as the resurrection mainly because the Church tells them to, just as they believe in such a-historical fantasies as the bodily assumption, what does this tell them? And how often do those of us who stand upon the Scriptures as our foundation have to explain that Rome is not, in fact, representative of biblical faith? These things are, in fact, quite important.
And so last night I saw that Steve Ray had replied, in a sense, to my post. And once again we are faced with another documentable example of how the leading Roman Catholic apologists--the men selling the books and speaking in the apologetics conferences and traveling about on the convert circuit--handle criticism and direct response to their claims. We've seen what happened with Beckwith. We've seen the explosion of emotionalism, of ad-hominems without end, of double-standards that make the term "hypocrisy" seem so very inadequate to the task. I believe this morning I saw 770+ comments on the Akin "Go Git'im Boys!" blog entry. Steve Ray could have distinguished himself. He could have gone another direction. But, of course, he didn't.
Instead of providing a response that has something to do with the subject of my blog (the assumption of Mary and my comments thereon), Ray showed himself to have studied and memorized the relevant portions of the Roman Catholic Apologetics Manual (version 2.1). Now, again, I am still working on getting down the proper thinking. If you are a Roman Catholic you are, by definition, charitable, even if you call someone a moron and insult their parents. It is ok, for, all that is done in service of Mother Church is accepted and charitable (RCAM, 7.4.3). The corollary, discussed elsewhere in the RCAM, is that all humor is acceptable if it is offered by a Roman Catholic, but none--and we mean none--is acceptable if offered by the anti-Catholic (note the repeated emphasis upon using the buzz-phrase anti-Catholic, even if the use of the term is absurd, offensive, and demonstrates an arrogance on Romes part that is simply insufferable). Ray's mastery of the RCAM is admirable, to be sure.
I would like to invite any fair-minded person to look at the kind of invective Roman Catholics--almost none of whom have ever bothered to crack the binding of one of my books or view an entire debate--have been posting over the past ten days around the web, and compare it to the horrible thing I said about Steve Ray in my blog post. See, Steve Ray has been known for years for wearing this hat, a safari hat. He has it on all the time. It's his trademark, you might say. Here's even a shot of him from his own website. So, I described him as follows, " Steve Ray, Catholic Convert Extraordinaire and king of on-location videography, world-traveler and sufferer of permanent safari hat-hair, has provided an example of how this "logic" works." Oooh. Aaaah. See, if he had a sense of humor, or didn't take himself so seriously, he would have replied with humor, like, "James White, stock holder in Acme Shaved Head Sunscreen Company, only wishes he had enough hair to suffer the way I do!" But noooo...that would be to violate various rules in the RCAM, including treating your opponent as a human being. So, we can't do that. Besides, I suppose if anything, Ray's wonderfully kind response only shows he hasn't changed much over the years. Here is Ray's post...and my comments.
Assumption of Mary -- Assumptions of WhiteConsiderably more evidence for my existence than that of the assumption of Mary, to be sure!
I was notified that James White, the magisterial voice of Protestant anti-Catholics, had responded to my blog on the Assumption of Mary. Not only is he insulting and arrogant though it may be his sorry attempt at humor and relational psychology is also wrong and sloppy. I hope to have time to respond to his huffing and puffing but don't know if I will have the time before I leave. If I do Ito answer well and that takes time not matter what the topic.Ray's original posting actually read, " Not only is he insulting and arrogant, which has always been his style, but he is also wrong. I hope to have time to respond to his huffing and puffing but don't know if I will have the time before the end of the year. He seems to have always considered me more important that I have considered him not sure why. I am not even a PhD like he claims to be." In passing, it's Th.D., not Ph.D. Let's see. I mentioned safari-hat hair, and the rest of my post was completely void of any reference to Ray's personality or anything else. And in his first paragraph we have "anti-Catholic," "insulting and arrogant," "sorry attempt" (or "which has always been his style"), "huffing and puffing," "sloppy," and in essence the statement that he doesn't consider me "important." But, of course, these were all meant in the most charitable fashion possible...for insults, anyway. And, I note that the "I was notified" may just be a less than subtle way of saying "not like I would ever bother to look at what White has to say." Given what comes later, that's exactly what is being communicated.
By the way, White is usually the first to whine about people who use "ad hominem" arguments and comments against him. He even wept crocodile tears about it in one of our past correspondences. But James and I have not corresponded in years and the last time I did speak with him was in New York at his debate with Gary Michuta. I thought [sic] we have [sic] a cordial meeting. Before that I invited him to lunch on one of my trips to Phoenix and he "No" explaining that to have lunch with little ole me would compromise the gospel. Geez, even Jesus ate with sinners!he said he didn't like me and he only eats lunch with people he likes. Well, frankly, I dont' like him either, but I was willing to be charitable and see if we could find common ground and work toward liking each other. But he said no.Hmm, let's see...I referred to "safari hat hair" and he replied in his first paragraph with a whole string of retorts and I'm the one who "whines"? Sounds like a bit of "poisoning the well" to me. And please don't ask me what "crocodile tears" are supposed to mean. As to hanging out with Ray, or any of his buddies, that's right. I have no interest in so doing. Why? It isn't because I don't think Jesus "ate with sinners." However, when Jesus ate with sinners, he called them to repentance, and that isn't why Ray would want to get together. Secondly, Ray is a false teacher, not just a regular ol' "sinner." And as I'm sure I explained to him at the time, the point is that if someone comes with another gospel, another message, you are not to even greet the person, let alone hang out at Starbucks with them. See the previously linked article for samples of what Steve Ray has said about me in the past. He can't produce similar invective. Would you want to have lunch with someone who has spoken of you in terms like this: " He does not know love or honesty rather he wallows in hatred and anger"? I sure don't.
Interestingly, and quite consistent with his usual inconsistency, White comments in his "Year of the Cat" blog entry that, "The past five days have set new all-time records for vitriolic nastiness, at least on the part of those devoted to Rome." Geez, what a thing to say from a guy who with no provocation wrote this sarcastically about me today "Steve Ray, Catholic Convert Extraordinaire and king of on-location videography, world-traveler and sufferer of permanent safari hat-hair." So much for his consistent inconsistency.Again, any semi-rational person can compare the ad-hominemsthat fill Akin's combox to this day with "permanent safari hat-hair" and tell me who takes themselves way too seriously.
Will I respond to White and his assumptions? I hope so if I have time. But he seems to historically have taken me more seriously than I have ever taken him.It's all about Steve Ray, isn't it? He does not seem to understand that the only reason I am quoting him is that I am addressing the issue of Rome's teachings. But for him, it is all about Steve Ray. Let's say he despises me and thinks I'm the most unimportant person on the planet. Great. If his concern was the "truth" of the BA (bodily assumption), then it would not matter one wit to him whether I enunciated the arguments I did or someone else did. The fact is, his "logic" has been challenged. What will he do? He can pretend all he wants that my arguments are specious or whatever (he felt free to say so, but now we are getting the"but I am so busy I may have trouble getting around to demonstrating such simplistic errors on the part of such an unimportant person" line), but anyone who has taken the time to even semi-fairly review the debates I have done with his betters knows better. In fact, I was going to post this later, but it would work well here. Ray's right, I'm unimportant, but this unimportant person presented this case against the "queenly coronation" of Mary over a decade ago, and if he thinks his side has provided a substantive response, he couldn't be farther from the truth:
I can only add to what I said there these wise words from Tertullian. When Roman Catholics do the "Well, it was fitting for God to do X" argument (this is for the dogmas that she well knows haven't the faintest connection to Scripture, the apostles, or the faith of the earliest Christians), Tertullian's words point out the real problem. God can do what He wills; there are lots of things that would be fitting for God to do, that He doesn't do. The issue is, do the Scriptures tell us God did X or not?
But if we choose to apply this principle so extravagantly and harshly in our capricious imaginations, we may then make out God to have done anything we please, on the ground that it was not impossible for Him to do it. We must not, however, because He is able to do all things, suppose that He has actually done what He has not done. But we must inquire whether He has really done it ... It will be your duty, however,to adduce your proofs out of the Scriptures as plainly as we do...(Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Vol. III, Tertullian, Against Praxeas, ch. X and XI, p. 605).
I am packing to lead a group in and have another group schedule for Rome in October and another to Israel in November. I am also trying to finish another book for Ignatius Press, negotiating with EWTN to get our Footprints series on TV and have at least 10 speaking engagements in the next six weeks and that does not even take into consideration my business and family especially my grandkids . I long for the good old days when I could relax and respond to such diatribes and nonsense, but those days are long gone. Anyway, we'll see what time allows.Ah, "diatribes and nonsense." Nothing like addressing the issue fairly and not just trying to rally the troops, yes? Well, obviously, one side can fully quote the other, and respond point by point, and the other...well, is just too busy being a world traveler to bother with such "nonsense." Of course, for a lot of folks, the "nonsense" is in saying the Bodily Assumption is a dogma that a person must believe to be a faithful follower of Christ when generation after generation, century after century passed without anyone believing such things as part of their faith. That's what I call nonsense, and the difference between us is simple: I can make the argument plain and clear, and Steve Ray has to rely upon the magical "logic" of "Well, nobody taught against it, and, well, it's fitting."Which is why I would gladly debate Ray on the Marian dogmas, and something tells me...he will always be way too busy. Of course, my schedule is just as challenging as his is, but I have to remember...this is all about Steve Ray!
For my past discussion with the likes of White, visit here. To read Jimmy Akin's recent blog "James White Has Completely Lost It", click here. You can also read the 768+ comments that people have left in response on Jimmy's site.787 at the time of my writing. Here's just one example of the kind of wild-eyed fanaticism (I would see this fellow, Esau, as being very much like the fellow in the first picture I posted who is standing in front of the sign, fist in the air, mouth wide open, screaming his emotions for all the world to hear. And...he hasn't a clue what he's screaming about, either). Here's his most recent explosion:
Yes, we must forgive people for calling James White an ignorant moronic idiot, deceiver, liar, fool, troll, stupid, just a general loser.
Of course -- we hold these truths to be self-evident!
Oh yeah, by the way:
As Foxfier reported earlier, interestingly enough, www.jamesrwhite.orgnow points to White's site, this definitely shows evidence of very suspicious activity -- especially considering that just a few days earlier, accusations were flung on this blog by "White" disciples, maligning Catholic Answers, claiming they were the ones who DECEPTIVELY owned this url since just before the accusations, this url pointed to Catholic Answers!
Come on, Carebear, Churchmouse!
Aren't you guys going to protest regarding THE DECEPTION by White & Co. as you did when you originally accused Catholic Answers!? Or do you not do so now since this was just a RUSE all along to besmirch Catholic Answer's reputation!?
Can somebody say LAWSUIT???
Or should the followers of the Prince of Liesnot be held accountable for their underhanded deeds???
Ah, now I'm the "Prince of Lies"! Let's see...I've had Mormons identify me as the AntiChrist, KJV Only folks as a "rude, crude heretic" and a "serial soul killer," and now I'm the "Prince of Lies." By the way, now this mob is blaming mefor whoever it was who registered my name and redirected the URL to Catholic Answers. Is there any inanity these folks will not post in cyber-space, I wonder? I know "Guardian" on the Catholic Answers Forums was the first person we saw advertising it, so I suggest asking him. In any case, this is the kind of hate-filled, wild-eyed rhetoric Steve Ray is willing to point folks toward.
By the way, here is what Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers says about conversing or debating with White on his blog entry linked above: "If you [White] can't immediately see that and make amends then no one, knowing that you are capable of this, should engage you in debate or discussions of any kind."Yeah, let's ignore the dozens of debates White has done that prove he is fully capable of engaging in these debates in an appropriate manner. Let's ignore the obvious application and propriety of White's identification of the hypocrisy of our support base's calling him a moron while calling him to be more charitable. Let's make up this horrible sin on his part, lie about him and say he likened all Catholics to Muslim terrorists (I've actually seen that whopper in print already), and hope like anything this gives us something to hide behind because the last thing our book tours and speaking tours need is to actually have to defend the stuff we microwave and serve up over and over again as our means of making a living.
Finally, I saw Phil Porvaznik doing his best RC comedian routine over at the Envoy forums, likewise doing his best to prop up a doctrine derived from gnostic heretics but adopted as dogma by Rome more than a thousand years later. Here is a quote he posted that is an excellent example of "historical wishful thinking," derived from an article by Frazier in This Rock magazine:
What does the Transitus literature teach us? It teaches that the Assumption didn't just pop up out of nowhere in 1950, which is often the vague assumption of non-Catholics. Indeed, the belief was so widespread in the fifth century that it is hard not to conclude that it must have originated at a much earlier date. Many scholars place the Syriac fragments of the Transitus stories as far back as the third century, and noted Mariologist Michael O'Carroll adds, "The whole story will eventually be placed earlier, probably in the second century--possibly, if research can be linked with archaeological findings on Mary's tomb in Gethsemani, in the first [century]."(Michael O'Carrol C.S.Sp., Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Wilmington: Glazier, 1982) s.v. "Assumption Apocrypha," 59.) This conclusion would seem to be supported by the fact that the doctrine flourished without anyone, especially the bishops, protesting against a growing "superstition."Of course, no serious Protestant apologist has ever said the Assumption popped out of nowhere in 1950. The assertion is that it is no more apostolic than Oreo cookies. When Frazier says it was "widespread in the fifth century" he needs to define amongst whom it was "widespread." Gnostic docetism was "widespread" long before that. These men do not seem to care a whit that by investing some kind of serious weight in such materials they would (if they are consistent) have to grant equal weight to the rest of the nonsense those religious movements spawned even earlier (like The Acts of Philip, noted before). It is so painful to watch RC apologists retort, "Oh, but...but...just because it's a gnostic work doesn't mean everything in it is wrong!" What an argument! Hey, does that mean I can find something in the Book of Mormon, and demand that people believe it, and ignore all the problems with the BoM by saying, "Hey, just because it is heretical in general doesn't mean anything"? Remember, these folks are actually admitting that while on the one hand they want to claim this is an apostolic doctrine, they likewise have to admit it somehow never found its way into the writings, prayers, or worship of any apostolic church in the world, but instead had to be "preserved" in gnostic writings from the fifth century!
Frazier claims that the belief "must have originated at much earlier date." Why? He doesn't say. Ipse dixit. Just because. Wishful thinking. And even if it did, it would have originated whereat an earlier date? Gnosticism. Then we get the "many scholars" argument, trying, desperately, to push this belief back as far as possible to give it more of an appearance of antiquity. Again, I can only see glowing parallels to the recent attempts to re-fill Jesus' tomb by moving it to Talpiot and investing in a contemporary work of religious fiction, The Acts of Philip,the hallmarks of true history. And this is the stuff of Roman dogma? It is more the stuff of pure fantasy.
So we return to Steve Ray. It seems that rabiditus comboxitus is to the point of a plague in the Roman Catholic blogosphere. The very first comment bears this out. R. Chavez wrote,
Steve, James White truly is beneath your attention. This attack dog hasnt learned a new trick in years and has stood by as those all around him have either converted outright or become much more sympathetic to the Catholic Church. The man is an island who is on an island and has no recourse butto lash out with incoherent and tired arguments against his very own mother, Mary.Such rhetoric stands as its own refutation. Why Ray and Akin and the rest don't see that is hard to say.
Your work is very important and, personally, Id rather see you contributing to the knowledge and faith of Catholics through your very worthwhile projects than busting out the whooping stick on a one trick pony whose been put out to pasture by the obsolescence of his own act.
My prayers are with you as you leave for Israel. Oh, and I will include Mr. White in my Roary intentions as well. God Bless.
Well, I just noted that Ray has announced that he is going to post a response tomorrow...written by someone else (Gary Michuta). I truly look forward to it, for one thing is for certain: when Rome actually tries to defend her dogmatizing a late gnostic fantasy as if it is part of divine revelation, her every effort to do so only shows her true nature in a brighter light. But keep one thing in mind as you read whatever response he offers: Rome does not present the Bodily Assumption of Mary as a suggestion, as a possibly pious belief you might wish to consider for yourself. No, this is dogma. So, test the arguments by the burden of proof they must bear.