Archive by Author

Called to Cyprian – Responding to Anders’ Historical Error

On Catholic Answers, episode #6796, Dr. David Anders makes it sound as though the issue of supremacy of the Roman bishop came up for the first time in the third century, as though “Pope Stephen” asserted the primacy of the Roman see, and as though the East acquiesced in silence.

As explained in more detail at the link (link to more detailed explanation), the issue of Stephen’s authority was raised by Stephen in the third century. It was raised in the context of a debate over whether the baptisms of the Novatianists should be accepted. Stephen tried to appeal to his own authority to settle the debate, but Cyprian of Carthage and a council of North African bishops strongly disagreed with Stephen’s authority claim. Moreover, in the east, Firmilian of Caesarea (in Cappadocia, Turkey) agreed with Cyprian against Stephen, despite being aware of Stephen’s claims.

While only Cyprian (and the council of bishops with him) dealt explicitly with Stephen’s authority claim, Firmilian’s rejection of Stephen’s position on the baptism issue reflects the fact that Stephen’s authority claims were not somehow silently acknowledged as true in the East. If Firmilian thought Stephen had authority, he could hardly have mocked positions as Firmilian did. The reason for the absence of eastern response on the authority claim issue is better attributed to the fact that the baptism issue was the central issue. The authority claim was a mere tangent at that time. Furthermore, it’s not clear how widely Stephen’s letters to Cyprian were circulated. Although Cyprian’s letters remain, it seems that Stephen’s letters have been lost.

In short, Dr. Anders’ argument from silence was wrong – both because the churches were not entirely silent, and because the absence of additional debate on the subject at that time is more easily explained as the issue being a tangent in a hotter debate. I understand that Dr. Anders contributes to the so-called “Called to Communion” site, but perhaps he should consider being “Called to Cyprian” to learn a bit more about church history.

Devin Rose’s Video – Brief Response

Devin Rose has posted a video in which he himself declares that his own book, “The Protestant’s Dilemma” — well let me use his exact words — “Destroys James White’s Scripture Alone.” (his video can be found here)

Devin claims his book has “about thirty-four arguments for the Catholic faith.” Devin says that Dr. White’s book, “Scripture Alone,” “answers none of the arguments in mine.” He claims that “James White manages to evade arguments” and claims that Dr. White attempts to argue for Protestantism by “very carefully avoiding all of those big errors and holes in it.”

In fairness, Dr. White’s book was published a decade before Rose’s book (2004 vs. 2014). Also, in fairness, Mr. Rose never cites “Scripture Alone” or any of Dr. White’s other writings or debates. So, if we’re going to talk about who is evading whom, the shoe would really seem to be on the other foot. Also, as Dr. White pointed out on today’s “Dividing Line” program, “Scripture Alone” was not primarily addressing Roman Catholicism. A better choice for Rose’s attention would be “The Roman Catholic Controversy.”

Furthermore, I don’t agree with Rose’s assessment. Chapter 5 (pp. 95-119) of “Scripture Alone” provides arguments that deal with the substance of at least chapter 8-10 of Rose’s book.

Devin’s video mentions that the back cover of “Scripture Alone” features a quotation from Luther and then points out that allegedly Luther believed in “Marian Veneration” and that Mary was perpetually a virgin. Devin then expresses surprise that Dr. White would quote Luther, given their disagreement on those points. I suppose one answer to that is that the quotation in question has nothing to do with those topics. Other answers might involve a closer look at Luther’s evolving views (something James Swan is more prepared to address than I am).

Rose says, “It’s the same silly stuff you see over and over again.” I would only agree with him in a sense very different from what he intended. It’s hard to find a word more appropriate than “silly” for objecting to quoting Luther on one subject, simply because one allegedly disagrees with Luther on some other subject.

Whilst thumbing through “Scripture Alone,” Devin says, “I’ve bought these books. I bought Protestant books. I’ve read the best they’ve got. I’ve read this book.” Who knows what Devin has actually read – his own book shows little sign of familiarity with Protestant work on the subjects he tackles.

The number “thirty-four” (in Devin’s comment about “thirty-four arguments”) corresponds to the number of chapters in Devin’s book. In a more detailed review, I provide a more detailed response/rebuttal to each of those arguments, for those interested. (link to review/rebuttal)

In brief summary, Rose’s book turns out to be full of misrepresentations of “Protestantism” based on a variety of flawed presuppositions, usually postmodernism.

-TurretinFan

David and His Son Use Similar Metaphor (or is it proto-transubstantiation?)

Roman Catholics tend to think it is highly significant that Jesus said that the cup (meaning its contents – they never seem to misunderstand that use of non-literal language) is “my blood.”  Recall that Jesus said:

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Mark 14:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
1 Corinthians 11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

Instead of understanding this according to its most obvious metaphorical meaning, Roman Catholics try to insist that we should interpret it in some kind of quasi-literal sense.  But Jesus, the Son of David, is using metaphor in much the same way that his father David used it:

2 Samuel 23:13-17And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim. And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.
And David longed, and said, “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!”
And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord.
And he said, “Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?” therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.

For David, the water represented the potential death of his men.  For the Son of David, who turned water into wine, the wine represented his own death, which we should remember, as often as we drink it.  Unless you think David was saying that the water was transubstantiated into blood — but who would be so dull-witted as to think that?

-TurretinFan

Never Thirst – Taking Jesus “Literally” can be Fatal

Roman Catholics like to try to claim that they are just taking Jesus “literally” when they interpret “this is my body” to mean that what was in Jesus’ hands was not bread but his physical body [FN1]. Three passages in John help to illustrate the problem with that approach: John 4, John 6, and John 7.  In the first, Jesus refers metaphorically to living water, in the second Jesus refers to himself as food and drink, and in the third Jesus offers drink to those who thirst.

In John 4, Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  He asks her for water, she objects because he’s Jewish, and he responds that she should be asking him for water, because the water he offers is better than the water from Jacob’s well. She misunderstands him as speaking physically, even after some further explanation.  She wants to stop the labor of drawing water and misunderstands Jesus’ comments about “never thirst.”

John 4:6-15Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

In John 6, Jesus interacts with a number of “disciples” who want Jesus to repeat the miracle of the loaves that’s reported at the beginning of the chapter.  Jesus explains that the person who believes on him will never thirst and whoever comes to him will never hunger, calling himself the “bread of life” that “came down from heaven.” Jesus insists that the bread he offers is better than the manna that the people ate in the wilderness.  Jesus talks about them eating his flesh and drinking his blood, but they take him physically and go away in disgust.  Jesus explains that the words he speaks are spirit and life.  Jesus asks the twelve if they will go away too, but Peter (speaking for the group) says that they will stay with him because they believe and know that his words are the words of eternal life.

John 6:26-71
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. 

In John 7, Jesus interacts with those at the temple for the feast.  Jesus offers the thirsty people water.  John explains to us that Jesus is speaking about the Spirit as the “rivers of flowing water.”

John 7:37-39 
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

These passages illustrate Jesus’ fondness for using food as a metaphor for trust in him.  We approach the Lord’s table by faith, coming to Him as represented by the bread and cup.  We gain a benefit from this if we do so by faith, but not if we do so any other way.  It is not the physical elements that provide the benefit we receive, it is the Spirit.

Remember what Jesus said about clean/unclean foods:

Matthew 15:17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

Unfortunately, it seems our Roman Catholic friends and relatives fail to understand this.  Christ is our spiritual food and drink, not our physical nourishment.

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Psalm 105:41 He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.
Isaiah 48:21 And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.
Psalm 78:20 Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

The blessings we receive in Christ are primarily spiritual blessings.  We drink the spiritual drink from the spiritual Rock, and that Rock is Christ.  He is our Rock, we trust in Him.

To the glory of his grace!

TurretinFan

Footnote 1: I should add that the Roman Catholic position is particularly absurd in that it takes “this is my body” as implying that the bread ceases to be bread and becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.  Likewise, it is claimed that “this is … my blood” implies exactly the same thing about the contents of the cup.  That’s quite far from taking the words literally, in which the bread would just be the body, and the contents of the cup would just be the blood.

“Many Wives” or “Other Wives” vs. “Two Wives” – Norman Geisler’s Indefensible Defense of Caner

In his so-called apology, Ergun Caner claimed “I have never intentionally misled anyone.”  I don’t see how to reconcile that claim with the many times (not just one or two times) that Caner has described his father as having “many wives” or “other wives.”  How was that not intended to mislead the listeners?

Recall that Norman Geisler attempted to defend Ergun Caner in this way (link to defense):

7. Ergun claimed his father had many wives and two half-brothers and two half-sisters, but there is no evidence for the half-brothers.

Response: Ergun’s father did have two wives, having divorced the first one.  He had three sons by his first wife (Ergun and his two brothers).  So, Ergun has two full brothers and two step-sisters (from his father’s second wife).  While speaking quickly on one occasion, he mistakenly called his brothers his “half” brothers.  This is hardly evidence of an attempt to embellish or deceive.  After all, he had the right number of each sibling, and he didn’t claim to have ten brothers or sisters!

Ergun’s father did have two wives – one after the other –  not many wives.  Yet Ergun repeatedly claimed his father had “other wives” besides Ergun’s mother.  “Two wives” does not support that claim, even if it could somehow be used to support the “many wives” claim.  Ergun also claimed that his father immigrated with “wives.”  That also does not match the two serial marriages story.

Furthermore, Ergun did not use the “half-brothers” claim only once.  He used it at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge and in two different messages at Ashburn Baptist Church.

And Ergun was not referring to his brothers when he said it.  At Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, Ergun said “I have half-brothers and sisters who don’t know Jesus.”  Likewise, at Ashburn Baptist on June 3 Ergun said, “And so in 1978, my father, my mother, my two brothers, my father’s other wives, and my half-brothers and sisters came to this country.”  And then again at Ashburn Baptist on June 5 Ergun said “I have half-brothers and half-sisters in Chicago, in New York, and in Turkey, who live here, who are still lost as geese” and again a few second later “How dare I give up! My half-brothers, my uncles, my aunts, How dare I give up!”

In short, while part of what Geisler wrote in defense of Ergun on this point is true (“two wives” and two half-sisters) much is untrue: it was not just once that he referred to “half-brothers” and he was not referring to his own brothers when he did so.  Even the true part falls short of defending the “other wives” claim or – bluntly speaking – even the “many wives” claim.

This and a number of other serious problems with Caner’s autobiographical claims are documented in the Caner Affair article (link), which is mostly an index to other posts that document a lot of what Ergun Caner has said.  Currently, the list of source posts is around 54 or so (and growing), but some of those source posts deal with more than one speaking occasion.  For example, Dr. Caner has spoken multiple times at some churches, and generally those messages are grouped together in a single source post.

-TurretinFan