Over the past number of months we have received a number of requests for information concerning the claims of Mrs. Patty Bonds, my older sister. Though I have not seen Mrs. Bonds for a number of years, and have had no serious interaction with her in half a dozen years, her recent decision to join the Roman Catholic Church has caused many to falsely assume she made this decision fully aware of the responses and refutations of Rome’s claims that Protestant apologists have been offering for centuries. In particular, many have errantly assumed Mrs. Bonds would have sat down with me and talked about her interest in the Roman system and, with full knowledge of my responses to the claims of Rome, chose to convert anyway. But this is manifestly not the case. Mrs. Bonds had separated herself from our family years before. She did in fact contact me after she had already become enamored with Rome’s liturgy, but she did so by anonymous e-mail. And though we have gone through a number of e-mail exchanges since she made her decision known to us, what I said (unknowingly) in response to her anonymous e-mail is still what I’m saying today. Nothing has changed.
Since Mrs. Bonds has chosen to go public with her story, I have been forced out of simple love of the truth to address her claims. For the moment, I will do so by reproducing my first e-mail response to her anonymous e-mail. Then I will reproduce my response to an e-mail sent to me just recently by Roman Catholic apologist Steve Ray.
An Anonymous Inquirer
I was teaching during the summer session of the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California. I was way, way behind on writing The God Who Justifies, was away from home for two weeks, trying to keep up with e-mail by using a free ISP from a dorm room on the main campus. At one point the phones went out for the entire weekend. Anyway, in the midst of my work there I decided to check my AOL account. I rarely do this, for as pretty much every AOL account holder knows, 98.9% of everything you get in AOL is garbage anyway. Beyond this, I simply do not use the account anymore, and have only kept it active because it is still listed in some of my older books. On Saturday, July 15th, 2000, I received an e-mail from “Jane Doe” at email@example.com. Now the first amazing thing about this entire episode is that I opened and read the note. I normally do a quick scan down the list, select them all and delete them. There was nothing about the name to catch my attention, of course, and since I had to forward it to my normal e-mail account, the subject line has been lost. In any case, I did read it, and forwarded it. And despite the fact that I had all sorts of things going on (this e-mail arrived immediately after the incredible experience of debating Timothy Staples on papal infallibility, which resulted in a number of e-mail exchanges as well), I focused more attention on it than I normally would on any anonymous note. There was just something about it. In fact, I found its attitude so common, and so exemplary of the emotionally-driven nature of converts to Roman Catholicism, that I sent a copy of it to my wife along with a little note stating that this kind of thing shows why people need to really love the truth or they will end up loving a lie.
Three months later I received a call while I was in Florida (immediately prior to my debate with Robert Sungenis, also on papal infallibility). My wife told me that my parents had called, and that my sister had informed them she was joining the Roman Catholic Church. I really was not surprised, and informed my parents of this when I called them. You see, every five years for almost two decades now my sister has encountered some kind of crisis that has resulted in some new “insight” that is all-consuming. Since she left home she has been baptized twice (a total of three times to my knowledge), the last being in February of 1998 at the Northwest Community Church, Phoenix, Arizona. Each of these incidents has marked some new viewpoint that makes her past commitments invalid, it seems. In any case, other events had led to an ever widening gap between us, until we had simply parted ways, seeing each other only rarely on holidays. My sister never came to the church where I am an elder, did not hear me preach or teach, and had lost all contact with what I had been doing since the early 90s. Such is fine, of course: that has been her decision. In any case, I had come to expect some new upset on a rather cyclical 4-6 year basis, and since the last great upset had been around 1996, this was really not a surprise to me. When I returned from Florida, I contacted Mrs. Bonds by e-mail. Without going into details, I discovered that little had changed since the anonymous e-mail from a few months earlier. The issues were still the same, though it was interesting to be told that she had never been able to listen to a single one of my debates because I am so mean and intimidating to my opponents (which speaks volumes, since if she had that kind of mindset long before her conversion, she could never have fairly examined the responses I have made to Rome’s teachings). So, with this brief background, I here provide the text of my response to the anonymous “Jane Doe” message I received in July of 2000. Keep in mind: I had no idea this was my sister writing to me. As I have re-read this note, even in preparing it for posting here, I have rejoiced in the grace of God who prompted me to address the very issues that He in His wisdom knew would speak to the reality of my sister’s defection from truth. She has never been able to respond to these points, and indeed, unless God is gracious to her, she never will:
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 20:24:14 -0700
From: James White <****@*****.org>
Subject: Roman Catholic Inquiry
Even though I have been confortable being Protestant, I have always felt very attracted to some of the worship methods of the Catholic church. I have always felt drawn to the music, the sign of the cross, the liturgy and the Eucharist. They seem so rich with meaning, while sometimes our own worthip tends to be over simplified and lacking something. But of course being Baptist, I would have never said that to anyone.
Liturgy can be very attractive, especially if one’s experience of Protestant churches is that of merely attending, passively, services, without any deep passion for the truths of God. And, in so many churches today, the sermon is basically a warmed-over version of the same theme, the “4 Spiritual Laws” dressed up in another section of verses. If that has been your experience, I can fully understand why ceremony and liturgy would be attractive.
However, please let me note something else: Roman liturgy holds no attraction for me. It can’t, since I know what it *represents.* I come into the presence of God seeking to be changed by the proclamation of His truth. That is worship. Liturgical actions may, for a time, seem attractive. Talk to the hundreds of thousands who have fled Rome’s liturgy and they will tell you it is as empty as can be. It may, for a while, seem “exciting,” but mark my words: in a matter of time, maybe months, probably more like years, you will begin to realize that it no longer excites you the way it once did. And so at first you will just try to “recapture” the feeling by increasing your activity, going more often, and, for a brief time, it might work. But, eventually, you will experience, deep down inside, the realization that ceremonies, no matter how “new” they may seem to you now, cannot make up for the fact that they do not represent truth.
Well, in the past couple of years I have met some very wonderful Catholic people – people in whom I sensed the Holy Spirit. They were people who loved God intensley and who believed that salvation came from faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross. I am baffled to say the least.
I have shared Christ with Mormons for years. They are, in the main, wonderfully nice people. Dedicated to family, moral, they are normally upstanding members of the community, and are often first to say a word about the Bible or Christ in our society. If we went by what we think we “sense” and by a surface-level understanding of what Mormons confess, we might well conclude that they are Christians. However, such would be a grave error. Relying on our “feelings” and ignoring the *meaning* of words is a tremendously dangerous thing. Mormons say they believe salvation comes from the work of Christ and faith in Him as well: it is what they *mean* by that that counts.
Your friends may well be Christians who do not know Catholicism and who in fact reject its teachings about purgatory, or the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice, or the role of Mary, etc. Or, more likely, they are believing Catholics, and you are “hearing” in what they say what you *want* to hear in what they say because of your attraction to them as individuals.
So I decided to go to church with one of them and see what really happened there. I was a bit uncomfortable with the pagentry and formalism of the service, but I did sense that it was meaningful to them. The music was all scripture set to music. The readings were all scripture. The Priest spoke about the body of Christ and how we are all parts thereof and that when one hurts we all hurt and how we are responsible to each other to uplift and care for each other. I counldn’t argue with that.
Then came time for the Eucharist. I sat out at my friend’s suggestion. I just sat and observed. I felt what I can only describe as an amazing peace settle over the room as each person reverantly walked past the priest or a lay person and received the bread and wine. After the “bread and wine” portion of the service they exchanged signs of peace with each other. I only wish our greeting times in our church were as warm and loving as what I felt and observed between these people. I was impressed. I have been back once since and I again was impressed.
I can understand how you would be impressed: however, are you equally impressed with what Rome says is *happening* there? Is it impressive to you for people to bow before the host, worshipping it as God? Is it impressive to realize that these people believe they are approaching the very sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and yet, they do not believe that they are perfected thereby (contra Hebrews 10:10-14)? I must firmly and lovingly ask you: what impresses you, God’s truth, or man’s pageantry? Where are your priorities? And let me ask you: would you have been as much impressed by the simple ceremony of the Lord’s supper in the Upper Room, with only a handful in attendance, no pageantry, no vestments, no priests?
So I have launched on a study of the Catholic church. Part of that study has been a book by a man and wife named Scott and Kimberly Hahn. (Rome, Sweet Home) They were both Masters of Theology in the Presbyterian tradition. As they served together and as Scott studied he began to be convinced of the Catholic church’s doctrine. This of course set their household on edge for several years until his wife also became convinced and she also converted. It was during Scott’s search for truth that he talked with and began the study process of a man I know you are familiar with. His name is Matatics. He also converted as a result of his study.
I know them both, and have debated Matatics many times. If you wish to listen to tapes of those debates, please let me know (they are listed at http://www.aomin.org). Scott Hahn will not debate me, though he has had a standing challenge since 1990. _Rome Sweet Home_ is a very poor book, at least for anyone concerned about truth. The accounting it gives of his easy defection from sola scriptura and sola fide only show that he must have known very little of these things as a Protestant, *or,* there is much more to the story than he is revealing.
Well, for the first couple of weeks of this search (my search) I became more and more excited about what I read. The carrying over of the tradition of the sacrifices from the Old Testament into the new Conenant and the reaffirmation of the new sacrifice of Christ made total sense to me. I have always wondered why a God that was so meticulous in designing the tabernacle and the garments of the Priests (very ornate and rather “Catholic” to our minds) suddenly went Baptist at the cross and wanted plain beigh walls, no symbolizm, no liturgy, etc. Did His personality change or did ours?
Or, as Hebrews tells us, were those things shadows of a greater reality that came in Christ, resulting in their abolition? You see, Rome has indeed “gone back,” back to the old repetitive sacrifices that can never take away sin, back to the old priesthoods, back to the old ways.
I began to experience the joy of the Lord in new ways. I was elated at the idea of a continuous church from the cross to now. More and more of what I was reading made sense.
You believed the Church failed? Gracious, I hope not! The Church did not fail. The problem is, *Rome is not the primitive Church.* No one in the days even of the Council of Nicea believed as Roman Catholics do today on so many issues, such as the Papacy, Papal Infallibility, transubstantiation, purgatory, indulgences, and the entire Marian complex of dogmas. These are simple facts that cannot go away, no matter how much we “wish” they will.
Then I picked up your book and started reading. I was overcome with a cloud of depression.
Please don’t be upset, but I’m glad you were. From what you have written above, you have bought into the “feelings” argument for Rome. It isn’t based upon Scripture, nor upon a fair presentation of facts, but is instead designed to excite feelings of “newness” about the “ancient church.” It works really well….for a while, anyway. But as with everything based upon emotion and not truth, it cannot last through the storms of life. So, if my book inserted a dose of reality into your jaunt across the Tiber River, I am most glad, and, if God is pleased to halt that trek and reveal to you again the importance of *the gospel of grace,* I trust you, too, will someday be glad.
I understand the premis of your book. I understand salvation by grace through faith (faith being a gift of God).
There is a difference between understanding and loving. You may understand what you just mentioned, but do you LOVE what you just mentioned? If you do not, then your desire for feelings may well over-ride those truths, leading you into abject error. Truth is not something we just understand. We are to LOVE it. Embrace it. Hold it as precious. If you don’t, you’ll be willing to trade truth for feelings of belonging, or feelings of fulfillment, even if they are based upon error.
I understand what you are saying about the completeness of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. But I also think they believe that the sacrifice of the cross was sufficient. I think they see the Eucharist as a celebration and a ceremonial application of the cross to the needs of the day.
But as I document in the book, that is *not* what Rome teaches. If what you say is true, why have I debated Father Mitchell Pacwa on this very subject (the debate was attended by Scott Hahn)? If we actually agree, why have a debate? And why did Gerry Matatics debate me on it as well? And Robert Sungenis? No, there is no agreement. Your friends may use Protestant-sounding language, but I would strongly suggest you look into both the official writings of the Roman Church, as well as the pietistic, believing books of Roman Catholic authors on the subject, and you will discover that what I have said is true: Rome has no finished sacrifice.
I could go on all day, but in the interest of time I would just like to ask if you would correspond with me on some very important points of doctrine.
I think I just did. 🙂
I have prayed deeply and long about this. I feel God is telling me that I am on some kind of journey with Him into unfamiliary territory. I do not know what the outcome of the journey is. He has not let me see that. I just know it will be a long one. He has laid on my heart that this will take time. I may end up just one big expert on the Catholic church – a resourse for others. Or I may end up somewhere in between, or I may end up Catholic. I have no idea. I just know that in order to please God I must believe that He is and that He is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him. That is my assignment. To diligently seek Him. Will you help me? I know you are a busy man. But I am asking you to pray and see if God would lay it on your heart to assist me in this journey.
I will do what I can, but I think you already know what to do, to be honest. We have many resources available for you: I just did a very valuable debate with Timothy Staples on Papal Infallibility (7/6/00). I would start by listening to that debate, and the debates with Mitchell Pacwa on justification and the Mass. I hope to have the tapes of the May debate with Robert Sungenis on justification soon as well.
God bless you,
Of course, Mrs. Bonds did not avail herself of any of my offers. Indeed, as I noted, in later months she would claim she had never been able to listen to my debates because I am so “mean.” But I bless God to this day that when she wrote to me, without knowing I was speaking to my sister, I spoke the truth to her: the very truth I repeated, over and over again, in e-mails to her in the months following her announcement. When I sent her patristic materials, she would send them to Tim Staples or someone else. No biblical responses were provided to me on any of the main issues at stake, and, of course, nothing in the above letter has ever truly been addressed.
At first, Mrs. Bonds said she did not want to be made an issue, and I am thankful that at least one Roman Catholic apologist, Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, encouraged her to stay out of the apologetic arena and not be used (misused/abused?) as an apologetic tool by those who have not been able to experience victory “the old fashioned way” (by demonstrating the truth of their position in debate). But I knew others would be encouraging her to attach herself to me, and sadly, she has chosen to do so. Her conversion story was posted a number of weeks ago, and it identifies her as my sister. Even though she has often said I am not the issue, she has chosen to connect herself to her “anti-Catholic” brother (to use her own words).
Then I received word that she was scheduled to appear on EWTN’s “The Journey Home” program. As this meant she had chosen to go full-bore with her story, I wrote to her and informed her that we’d be watching, would record the program, and would respond to it on The Dividing Line. I also quoted Jesus’ words about how the gospel divides families. While she did not reply, the next day I found an e-mail waiting for me from Mr. Stephen Ray, a Roman Catholic apologist and author. The attitude of the words speak for themselves, as you will see. And since I addressed many of the issues I had intended to address in an article on my sister’s conversion anyway, I chose to post this instead. But what made it all the more poignant was my experience the evening before in the Coming Home Network chat channel. I had been told that Dave Armstrong, another Roman Catholic apologist, would be doing a live chat. The young Roman Catholic who posted my sister’s story, who uses the nick “Apolonio,” invited me to enter the chat. I did, but used a non-descript nick so as to just sit and observe. Another Christian joined me. It was amazing to watch. I note in the following e-mail the personal attacks and insults that were posted at me: but what is not mentioned in the e-mail was the discussion of how they might be able to contact other family members of other leading apologists. Eric Svendsen’s name was mentioned, and his wife in particular; I believe Bill Webster was mentioned as well. This was prompted, obviously, by the fact that Mrs. Bonds had just been in the channel herself. The attitude of many of the Roman Catholic apologists that came through in that chat, and then in this e-mail, is simply stunning, though it shouldn’t be. Here is the text of my response to Mr. Ray.
Dear Mr. Ray:
Thank you so much for cc’ing me your response to Mrs. Bonds. Your reasons for doing so are fairly obvious, of course, but I am still thankful.
Steve Ray wrote:
Tell your story, let James rant and rave. Very few listen to him.
Rant and rave? A fascinating choice of words, especially coming from the one who argues from the “silence” of history. 🙂 Your words would carry at least some level of weight if your work was defensible, but, as your unwillingness to expose it to direct and public refutation demonstrates you well know, it is not.
However, I do find your comments tremendously fascinating. While certainly to be expected, you seem to have a problem with someone following biblical admonitions. That is, Mrs. Bonds has chosen, against her initial statements, to make an issue of her conversion to Rome, and especially to do so by attaching herself to me, despite the fact that we have had very little contact over the past number of years, and her own emotional self-confession that she has never listened to a single debate on Roman Catholicism that I have done. (I noted last year that she would not be able to resist the temptation to “cash in” on her relationship to me, despite her initial statements to that end). Though you surely do not agree with me, you should at least be able to understand the issue in a biblical context: Mrs. Bonds has denied the faith. While only a few years ago she was baptized (for the third time), proclaiming that her position then had led her to understand, finally, the “truth,” she now denies even the faith she then professed. Are there not clear biblical mandates regarding how we are to respond to such actions on the part even of those who are a part of our physical family? Are these not “apostolic traditions” even in your system of religion? Is it ranting and raving to quote the Lord’s own words, and to inform Mrs. Bonds that, while I have hoped and prayed she would show some self-restraint and not put herself in the spotlight, forcing me to point out her history of religious instability and emotionally-based reasons for her newest religious “discovery,” that her recent decisions will force me to respond to her ever-changing assertions? I wonder if that small audience to which you refer would agree with your identification of my informing her that I will be replying to be “ranting and raving”? Indeed, had I *not* informed her of my action, would I not likewise be denounced for that as well?
Steve Ray wrote:
You will bless thousands of people by your witness. You are best off at this point to simply ignore him.
The only ones to be “blessed” would be those who are moved by emotionalism, not by God’s Word, to be sure. But I do have to wonder what you mean: if Mrs. Bonds wishes to ignore me, that is fine: but you might wish to ask her why, if she wishes to ignore me, she continues to use my name? She is caught in a difficult dilemma, one she has been put into by her handlers and mentors, and by her own desire for attention. She has written to me that I am not relevant to her conversion, yet, without my name, her conversion is just one of many stories of someone who has gone from one religious insight to another over the course of a number of decades. (Such stories do not necessarily inspire, since, logically, the chain will continue, with some new “insight” necessary to re-ignite the emotions in the future). And as I have predicted from the start, those who refuse to publicly defend their false teachings and assertions, and those who have done so and been refuted in the past, will gladly use her story to mislead others (despite its irrelevance to the actual issues at hand). So exactly how she is to “ignore” me is hard to say: seemingly, what you are counseling her to do is to continue to talk *about* me (and my family), but not to respond to me (i.e., engage in a monologue). The necessity of this is obvious: Mrs. Bonds has no more meaningful response to offer in defense of Rome’s claims than you do, Mr. Ray, and deep down inside of yourself, you know your “arguments from silence” and selective quotations about Isaiah 22:22, etc., would not last thirty seconds under cross examination. A monologue is all Rome can offer, for when your ultimate argument is, “I am right because I am right,” dialogue is always detrimental.
Steve Ray wrote:
The very fact that he is trying to scare you shows how scared and squirrely he actually is.
The actual term is “squirrelly.” Do not feel too bad, sir, I had to look it up, as I can honestly say I’ve never had occasion to use it. Your obvious ad-hominem aside, I can assure you, Mrs. Bonds does not scare me. Indeed, her own e-mails are filled with the accusation that *I* “intimidate” others, so why I would be “scared” of her is hard to say. Mrs. Bonds has no arguments that I have not heard, and refuted, numerous times in the past. Mrs. Bonds has nothing to say that is truthful that is in any way relevant to the issues at hand, in fact. Hence, the truly bothersome thing about this entire incident is the deception that will be foisted upon others, not by Mrs. Bonds (she is simply the current tool used by others that, when it is not longer useful, will be discarded without concern), but by her handlers, the same men who promote the grossest falsehoods under the guise of service to Mother Rome (i.e., gross eisegesis masquerading as meaningful interpretation, selective citation of patristic sources that ignores the simplest meaning of the term “context,” and the anachronistic insertion of utterly foreign beliefs into the words of people who lived long ago). When it becomes generally known that Mrs. Bonds to this day has no accurate knowledge of, nor response to, the truths that have caused Roman Catholic apologists no end of trouble, and that her story is not in the least bit relevant to the actual issues of truth in the defense of the faith and the debate concerning Rome’s claims of ultimate religious authority over the souls of men (TNIV rendering, “people” <g>), this episode will fade into history without much notice at all. But till then we will have to make the simple point that after 1989 Mrs. Bonds never darkened the door of the same church as her brother, heard one sermon he preached (at her own church on the subject of Colossians 3:3), never listened to his debates, and was in no way a part of his ministry, etc. Once that is understood, those who errantly assume a relevance to her decision can fairly evaluate the reasons why RC apologists make reference to such things.
Steve Ray wrote:
He is a very little man.
No, actually, I’m pushing 232 these days. 🙂 But seriously, I truly am a little man. I am irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. But if that is the case, why do I find my name on all of YOUR websites? Why does Envoy print anonymous articles in response to footnotes in articles I write on other subjects? Indeed, if I am such a little man, why does Mrs. Bonds even bother attaching my name to her story? Why is it that such a little man can, without fear of contradiction, claim to have won *at least* half of the debates I have engaged in, and in all fairness, the vast majority of them? Why did such a little man completely (and in the opinion of every RC apologist I have met) defeat a credentialed Roman Catholic scholar and priest on the subject of purgatory last year? And why have I heard others refer to the “Tim Staples disaster” from July of 2000 in Fullerton? You are correct, I am a little man, but it seems it only takes a very little man to refute the errors of Rome. And why, if I am such a little man, Mr. Ray, do you refuse to defend your ridiculous claims regarding the Papacy in public debate against me? We both know why that is. Your house is built of straw, and even a little man needs little breath to blow down such a poorly constructed scheme of falsehoods and illogic.
Steve Ray wrote:
He does not know love or honesty rather he wallows in hatred and anger. Let him roll in the mud. You take the high ground and tell the story of God’s blessing and in turn bless thousands of people.
Last evening I sat in the Coming Home Network chat room (I was informed I just missed Mrs. Bonds’ presence in the same chat room) and watched at Dave Armstrong, Phil Porvaznik and others engaged in the same kind of diatribe. Every aspect of my personality was attacked and impugned. Interestingly, when I came back under a nick they would recognize, all was sweetness and light. The hypocrisy was almost too much to take. I note this to point out that those who actually *engage* in hatred and anger (such as you yourself did in this e-mail) are the first ones to project their own attitudes upon others. I wrote to Mrs. Bonds to inform her that while I had, up to this point, replied only to those who had inquired, and that briefly, about her story, her decision to go on EWTN with her claims *forces* me, out of simple respect for the truth and love for the gospel of Christ, to explain why her conversion should actually cause the lover of truth to reject Rome’s errors. As I noted above, had I *not* done this, I would have been condemned for that, too. So it seems to me that you use a thoroughly worldly definition of love and hatred: the Bible tells us that we are to love God supremely. That means true spirituality does not compromise on His truth, His glory, His holiness, His revelation in His Word. It takes precedence over all human relationships, including familial ones. And when a member of one’s family engages in behavior that is directly condemned in Scripture (in this case, open and knowing apostasy) one is faced with a choice: honor God, or compromise and place relationship before one’s service to Christ. The early Christians knew this situation well. And you condemn me as hateful for following the biblical path. What does that tell you, Mr. Ray?
Steve Ray wrote:
If it becomes an issue, there are many who would love to help you respond to James.
This is by far the most telling statement in your e-mail, even more so than your intense personal dislike that flows through your every word. I say this because I truly see this as a confession that what I have said to Mrs. Bonds is exactly correct: she knows it, and you know it as well. To what do I refer? Well, the only apologetic “mileage” that could possibly be made out of Mrs. Bonds conversion would be based upon the idea that she was intimately involved in the work of Alpha and Omega Ministries, that she knew the doctrinal and apologetic issues and, despite knowing them, “crossed the Tiber at the widest point” as she now likes to claim.
But, that is simply untrue. Her own e-mails are full of the refutation of this very fact, including her astonishing assertion that she could never listen to me debate because I so “intimidated” my opponents from the very first words out of my mouth (even the most jaded Roman Catholic who has listened to almost any of my debates knows this is an untenable assertion) that she could not stand to listen to more than just a few moments. [I am reminded of a recent convert who attended the debate on papal infallibility with Tim Staples who would leave the room every time I spoke, but who confidently affirmed later that Mr. Staples won! I would hope he did, if all such a person heard was his presentation. How could he lose?]
But now, beyond the historical facts that Mrs. Bonds was not a Reformed Baptist, and had, in fact, in the years prior to her conversion embraced a variant, strange view of “confession” that was far more related to Rome’s concepts than anything in Scripture, your own words confirm that she did not join the Roman communion because she possessed apologetic responses to the arguments put forth by Protestant apologists, including her brother. For, if that were the case (and that is the only reason her conversion would be apologetically relevant to someone such as yourself), you would not have to offer, seemingly on behalf of an entire apologetic community (to quote you again, “there are many who would love to help you respond to James”), to undertake to reply to me! What would you be responding to, Mr. Ray? You would not be able to respond to any refutation of claims she might make regarding our family experiences, of course: you weren’t there. So, the only possible area in which you could reply would be in the apologetic realm, and why would that have to be, if, in fact, she already *knows* those things? But, as we both know, she does not, in fact, have those apologetic answers, and your response confirms this beyond all question. I already knew this: when I presented some basic citations to her, which she would have known had she ever taken the time to actually study the issues from both sides, she replied that she had forwarded them to Tim Staples. She has not been able to engage any of the issues I have raised to her since she initially informed us of her decision; yet, the newest version of her conversion story quotes Newman’s “to be deep in history” comment (a comment that anyone familiar with Newman’s about-face on papal infallibility can only cause one to sigh in sorrow at its repetition). Hence, despite the attitude portrayed in your e-mail, I am glad you sent it to me. Your words serve as a testimony to the truth I have been communicating to Mrs. Bonds from the moment I received her first anonymous e-mail. For that, I thank you.
And so the situation stands. I spoke the truth to an anonymous e-mail correspondent in July of 2000: only God can make that truth come alive in the heart. While I am grieved at my sister’s deception, I recognize that there is a purpose in all things. Possibly seeing the desperation of even making reference to her conversion as an apologetic tool will be used to reveal the true nature of the emotionally-based arguments of Rome. Who knows? But just as the truth of Paul’s gospel was in no way impacted by the fact that no one stood with him in his first defense in Rome (2 Timothy 4:16) and things became so dark for the Apostle that he could say that all who were in Asia had turned away from him (2 Timothy 1:15), so it is the case that God’s truth stands firm, no matter how often it is denied, or falsely professed.