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A Reader Misses My Point on the Manhattan Declaration

I take it you are distancing yourself from the Nicene creed since you know the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” of the creed has a different meaning to Catholic and Orthodox, than to Protestant denominations?

Will you distance yourself from the bible also, since Catholic and Orthodox sign off on it? If I can get a Catholic to sign off on the 1689 confession, can I get you to withdraw from it too?

Hello John, thanks for writing.

There is a fundamental flaw in your thinking on this topic, both in your basic logic as well as your understanding of my own stated position. Hopefully by correcting your logical errors others will be able to see more clearly, along with yourself, the real issue in the Manhattan Declaration.

There are real and historic differences in understanding the nature of the “one holy Catholic church,” and there is no question whatsoever that the church of Nicea did not hold to the distinctives of most of the modern groups. But trying to parallel the Nicene statement with a modern statement is obviously fallacious: the Manhattan Declaration is written in the context of full knowledge of the issues that divide us. The Nicene Creed does not come from the same context, and hence is not relevant. Further, the issue at hand, that being the gospel itself, is not defined by the Nicene Creed (hence the emptiness of attempting to base any kind of meaningful unity merely upon the Nicene symbol: it is insufficient for the task from a biblical perspective).

But much more glaring is the obvious error of referring to the Bible. What does it mean that Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy “sign off” on it? Both vociferously deny the doctrine of sola scriptura, do they not? So the reality is that neither submit to it as the final authority from God, but both, in differing ways, detract from its authority through subjecting it to external authorities.

You seem to have confused my concern over the gutting of the gospel with some kind of “I don’t want anything to do with those folks” simplistic attitude of a back-woods fundamentalist. This is seen in your comment about getting a Catholic to “sign off” on the London Baptist Confession of 1689, another highly illogical offering. A Catholic who “signs off” on the 1689 is, obviously, no longer a Roman Catholic. It is impossible for a Roman Catholic to agree to the teachings of the LBCF and remain in communion with Rome. Its teachings are directly and inalterably contradictory to Roman Catholicism.

So none of your examples were, in fact, relevant to the situation we face today, where men, fully knowing the fundamental differences in the proclamation of the gospel message between Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and at least the Reformed churches (many “Protestants” are merely popeless Catholics theologically speaking), are seeking to present a “Mere Christianity” that seeks to create a unity based upon a gospel-less Trinitarianism. Christianity is fully and richly Trinitarian. But so is the gospel, and the Christian faith ceases to exist without the gospel at its core. The “Mere Christianity” of Frank Beckwith and Dinesh D’Souza and Timothy George and Chuck Colson is sub-Christian, for it lacks the very animating element of the faith, that being the gospel, the very thing the Trinity does in self-glorification, that which ties together the whole reason for creation! By pushing the gospel outside the definition of the faith (which clearly men like Timothy George do, for he embraces non-compromising Roman Catholics as fellow believers in Christ) these “Mere Christianity” proponents give to the world a new religion that has only the most external connections to the biblical faith found in the Scriptures. As Jesus told us long ago, the one who loses his life for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s is His true disciple. Today men want to separate out that troubling, controversial “gospel” for the sake of a philosophically driven unity. No believer who takes the Scriptures as his or her final authority can join in such a movement.

So, John, my concern is about those who are trying to replace the centrality of the gospel with a salvationless Trinitarianism that is not just sub-biblical, it is blatantly anti-biblical. I cannot get past the fact that a plain reading of the text of the Manhattan Declaration (a reading drawn from the worldview of the three main authors) indicates that it promotes the idea that all three groups possess the gospel, which they are to preach in its fulness (despite the fact that this means they are to preach contradictory messages). I know some fine men signed the document, and they insist it has nothing to do with the gospel, but words have meanings, and the authors of the document have made it painfully clear that it is, in fact, a theological statement, a veritable catechism of the Christian faith, according to Chuck Colson. I hope this helps to clarify things for you.

From the Mail Bag:

An honest iniquiry about Dr. White’s blog statement: I wanted to illustrate that simply taking the Qur’an as the final authority without recognizing that it is not mubinun, “clear” or “perspicuous,” on so many points (and this is one of the most vital assertions it makes, in denying the atonement of Christ!) leads to irrationality.”

How does this claim of “irrationality” differ from the Reformed ‘Sola Scriptura’ and the Catholic’s claim of this doctrine causes irrationality?

The question mixes categories and ignores the context of my original statement. The Muslim starts with the Qur’an and reads backwards to the Bible, replacing the Bible’s original context with that of the Qur’an. But while the Muslim will adopt an over-arching assumption of the corruption of the Bible, they will not even consider that possibility for the Qur’an, despite it coming after the other revelations, and claiming consistency with them. Further, the Qur’an is not clear in its text, lacking the kind of historical grounding found in the Bible. Hence, merely starting with its claims and overthrowing the Bible’s as a result leads to irrationality, as you have to accept an unclear revelation at the expense of a clear one. I illustrated this with the mention of Surah 4:157 and the Qur’an’s flying in the face of all the sources that come from the first century after Christ. The Muslim has to reject all of these sources while accepting, de fide, the Qur’anic revelation.

I do not know how to even connect this with the Roman Catholic argument against sola scriptura, as there are no connections historically or logically. One would have to prove discrepancy and error on the part of the Bible; one would have to make Rome’s traditions prior to biblical revelation, etc., to even begin to try to make a case.

Next question from the mail bag:

The only thing I wish he’d addressed better was this: Dr. White speaks of the authors’ intentions when the wrote something which was part of the Bible. But if he in fact believes that it is the Divine Word of God, why does the “writers'” intention and the context matter? It would be God’s intention that matters as to his inspiring the writer to write. God could easily have inspired a writer to write for the time (context) as well as for all times and places. Two layers of meaning. Why would God waste words that seemingly apply only to the historical situation if those same verses didn’t have great meaning for a person in any other age and place?

Meaning is carried in words. Words are spoken in a context. Without that context, words become empty containers into which we pour our own meanings, which is exactly what Harold Camping does. By removing the context, the words lack substance, and Camping can then fill them with whatever he wishes. This is classic eisegesis, reading into the text a meaning it never had.

The Bible being the Word of God does not tell us that we can simply ignore what it meant when it was first revealed. Surely there can be a “higher” fulfillment in prophecy, for example, but the prophecy still carries the original meaning it had when given. Even if one asserts “two layers of meaning” the text still has to determine both “layers,” and without context, that second layer once again becomes an empty vessel just waiting for someone to come along and fill it with their own meaning, all the while claiming they are just following Scripture. It is a very shallow view of the means by which God revealed Scripture to refer to a “wasting” of words. God chooses the means by which He reveals Himself, and we are in no position to judge on the matter.

LouRugg Listens to the DL!

   As is so often the case, commentary would be superfluous:

Message: Dr. White,

I thought I’d send you a quick note to ask if you’ve considered
getting therapy for your obvious emotional breakdown?

I also wanted to thank you for playing a portion of my debate with
Turretinfan on your program yesterday (10/8/09) and making sure that
it was made available in its entirety on your end so more people can
hear it. And also for doing a little promoting for my upcoming book.

It’s funny how a man like yourself who calls himself a Christian, who
is suppose to be an example to others, can go out of his way and mock
a highly respected fellow Christian like Dr. Caner (who you felt so
worthy to debate 2 years ago). I’m wondering how your listeners feel
about your behavior (not that you care)? But more importantly, I
wonder how Jesus feels about it? My prayer is that you won’t find out
the hard way. You really do need to repent.

It must be nice to hide behind a microphone in your quaint little
office sending your subordinates out to get embarassed instead of
going out yourself and taking some of the heat. Then again, if you’re
ignorant to the point of thinking that Turretinfan won that debate,
perhaps you’d be safer staying at home. Hey, what about the word
“REFUSE” in Ex 8:2 and Ex 10:3 do Reformers not understand? Oh and by
the way, when Turretinfan said that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart by
taking away his common sense, I almost fell off my chair. Did he get
that stuff from you, or did he make that one up on his own?

Anyway, have a great day!

Louis Ruggiero

I Get E-Mails

Dear Dr. White,

It’s been a while since we’ve either spoken or exchanged e-mails. I hope this letter finds you in good health.

The reason why I am contacting you is to let you know that my publisher is currently preparing for publication my completed manuscript refuting Reformed Theology. My finished work places special attention on the doctrinal errors found in your Potter’s Freedom book as well as R.C. Sproul’s What is Reformed Theology? and John Piper’s The Justification of God.

This will not be just any book. It has been fully endorsed by a well-known and highly respected acquaintance of yours. In fact, he’s done me the honor of writing a Foreword for it.

Because of this, I am prayerful that this book will reach many. Just before it becomes available (in about 6-8 weeks or so) I intend to make a public challenge to you on youtube to defend the TULIP. We can debate either in person or on the radio. I, naturally, will be exposing and wilting it in a very methodical and systematic fashion.

I’ll keep you informed as my publisher’s work progresses and send you the link to when the book becomes available.

Should you have any questions at all please feel free to contact me at ******.com. If you would like to speak to me on the phone, send me an e-mail and I’ll forward you my number.

Your friend,
Louis Ruggiero

You can Listen to the entire program here here

A Compelling Oneness Argument

   Well, I just about called Bethany House to ask them to stop publishing The Forgotten Trinity in light of the compelling argumentation provided by Jane in an e-mail to the ministry this morning. Here’s the text:

   Trinitarians hate the name of Jesus Christ. They literally hate Jesus name and refuse to say it when they are baptized. Thetrinity formula is worthless. Whatsoever you do in word or DEED do all in the name of the Lord. JUST SAY HIS NAME, but no you won’t DARE say that NAME because Satan has you bound and deceived. They will quote any scripture but Acts 2:38.
   It is the Roman catholic trinitarians who deny who Jesus is. The stupid trinity doctrine is a Roman Catholic invention and even the encyclopedias say the early church baptized in the name of JesusChrist. Learn some history.
   Peter said to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. You say you do,but you lie. You will not SAY the name of Jesus Christ, yet claim to be baptized in the authority of his name. You won’t say his name in baptism because it is Satan who won’t say the name of Jesus because he knows more than you do about the blood. Peter said the name. Paul said his name.
   It is because Satan is terrified of that name and hates it as do the trinity folks.
   God used Oneness Pentecostals to give the church the great songs. Dottie Rambo was baptized in Jesus name and she gave the church 2500 songs. Joel Hemphill is also used to give songs to the church. Lanny Wolfe another Oneness. I have been in a Oneness church and I know they have something trinitarians do not have. You wouldn’t know.
   The stupid trinity doctrine was invented in about the fourth century fulfilling Acts 20:28-30 and be sure that God will bring you into judgment for denying his name.You need to learn not only the Bible but history and find out what is true.You’re basically a catholic calling yourself saved. You will hear Jesus say to you someday…Depart from me I never knew you.” Be sure!

   Well, there you go. It is hard to respond to the compelling force of the “stupid trinity” argument. Very hard indeed. But, it is all a lot of people have, and they are very zealous in repeating it. Pray that God will open Jane’s mind (and control her emotions!) and bring some solid Christians into her experience who will be able to expose her to truth.