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Responses to E-mails

An Encouraging Note on Multiple Fronts

   This note came through our website from DC in Tennessee:

Dear Dr. White
   I grew up in a KJO home. My grandfather wrote a book on the subject (pro KJO) and as a result was close with Peter Ruckman. In 1995 I was 20 years old and I was clueless about truth but addicted to Ruckman’s crazy ideas. I remember that during these years Ruckman went on and on about a James White who had written a book that was trying to destroy people’s faith in “the book” (KJV). I never read you book, but I certainly knew I didn’t like you (after all, you were trying to “destroy my faith”).
   10 years later. In 2005 struggled through the version issue and finally realized KJO is absurd. After realizing that the KJO position was false I knew I had to leave my IFBx church. After I left IFBx’dom for good I had no clue where to go. I knew I was lining up with Reformed folk in my worldview but I rejected Calvinism. I decided to study more so I bought Sproul’s Chosen By God. After reading a few chapters I was still unconvinced. I went out and bought Chosen But Free still believing Calvinism was false.
   Well, one day, not too long after finishing Chosen But Free I stumbled across a little book called “The Potter’s Freedom, A Rebuttal of Chosen But Free“. I immediately knew that if I was going to be fair about things I would need to read through this book with an open mind. Dr. White, you didn’t waste any time in The Potter’s Freedom destroying every Arminian falsehood and straw-man that I had ever clung to. By the time I was halfway through the book I was a convinced Calvinist. What did me in was the way you consistently exegeted the Scripture. I had no defense to what you were saying. Because of that I knew I was in error, and since then have enjoyed the fine Reformed expository preaching in a Founder’s Friendly SBC church. So, I genuinely say want to say “Thank-you”! God has blessed me because of you ministry and I am thankful for that. I hope to come and meet you someday if you ever make near East Tennessee! God bless you!

Another Loving (and Undocumented) Love Letter from Rome

Roman Catholic Conversion Stories: An Introduction Wow James, what moxie does anyone have by giving their personal testimony of how Jesus Christ has changed their lives. You attack Scott Hahn and others, or rather your midget-minded friend James does in this case, but you posted it, and concurred with him. I guess Saint Paul was a loon for giving his personal testimony of how he was changed by Jesus Christ in the Sacred Scriptures as well. We should all give an account of our conversion stories, this is how we help pass on the Gospel, just as Saint Paul did. Of course if Saint Paul was standing here in person telling you the truths of the faith as handed on by Jesus Himself you would probably call Saint Paul a dull-witt as well. Your gross arrogance is simply amphigoric as usual. Why on earth James do you think you have any authority whatsoever to teach from Sacred Writ? As you well know you constantly mutilate and pervert Holy Writ and the quotations of the Church Fathers. You alone will have to answer for your unmittigated, apathetic arrogance. Yes another love letter from Rome. You have been warned. Yours in Christ, Robert Locksley

   If TQuid wishes to respond to this, he is surely free to do so, but I think it actually confirms rather strongly the mind-set he mentioned in his article (though, Robert doesn’t seem to see that). In fact, it misses the whole point James Swan was making. But notice the appeal to authority, and that in defense of a system that only knows how to muddle the meaning of Scripture, never clarify it. And remember what happens each and every time one of these folks is challenged to back up their “you constantly mutilate and pervert Holy Writ and the quotations of the Church Fathers” accusation is made? Yeah, lots of documentation provided here, as usual. Oh, and I must say, I appreciate learning the term “amphigoric.” But the “wow” factor of using amphigoric was ruined by misspelling “unmitigated” and by connecting it improperly with “apathetic.” Seriously, I wonder what “you have been warned” means?

Oneness Pentecostalism Question

I have some christian concerns. I see u state some strong opinions on Philips, Craig and Dean. On their doctinal stands. Yet u state they do not shove these beliefs in the face of Trinitarians. [Personal information on the writer’s relationship to the UPC]. I can’t see the Trinity or the oneness belief keeping anyone from the promise land. Why not focus on the war that is really raging against the church (You and I). Just stand up for the Christian belief of repentenace and sactification and redepmtion- Throgh Christ. The world is who we need to convince to be like all of us. Not Assembly of God, UPC or independants to become like each other. What we think we have converts when we win each other to our churches? Hang on to your hat. Because at 42 and sitting around for this long. I plan on coming out for restoration for relationship for all of us believers. I am not a UPC member. Spend your time looking for unity. I quote your website. Our role is to assist the church in giving an answer to those groups that would “distort” the gospel of the grace of God. Grace is leading someone to Christ, not fighting with a swordbrother against brother. Grace is a gift only God can give.

   Thanks for writing, N. My main problem with your thesis is expressed by John the Apostle in these words:

Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:23).

   John wrote these words in reference to those false teachers who had gone out from them (2:19). These men still confessed many true things about Jesus Christ, but, they had denied certain definitional truths, such as His true incarnation. John teaches that they do not have the Son, and hence do not have the Father either. Now, they could have easily argued that these differences are just not that important, and that John should have focused upon leading folks to Christ, “not fighting with a sword, brother against brother.” I do not see any difference in this context, I really do not.
   You see, when you speak of “redemption through Christ” and “leading someone to Christ,” your statements demand some kind of definition. Both use the name “Christ.” Who is He? Is He the Father? Who is the Son? Is the Son eternal? In Oneness teaching, the Son did not have actual existence until Bethlehem. He may have been “foreknown” as an idea, but the whole point is that the Son is not an eternal Person, sharing the very glory of the Father (John 17:5). So what Christ are you leading people to? When someone asks you, “Who is Christ that I should believe in Him?” what are you going to say in response, “Oh, don’t worry about stuff like that! Just believe in Christ!” Surely not! So, I do not see how it is possible to ignore fundamental denials of central Christian doctrines simply as a basis for creating a “unity” in “leading people to Christ.” Leading? How? For what purpose? Why do they need to come to Christ? What has He done that they should believe in Him? All of these are theological questions that go back to the very issues you have decided should no longer divide us. And the end result? You have no meaningful message to proclaim in the first place. That is why we must follow the apostolic example and let inspired Scripture determine for us what is definitional and what is not.

Inconsistency?

James, As a long-time Catholic reader of yours, I am appalled by your recent postings of nastigrams from rude Catholics. How does it help your cause to pillory bad examples? Do you want us to conclude that these straw men characterize Catholics? Now, I know you like consistent standards. That is something I love about you. So I ask, if Catholic Answers began posting similar emails from Protestants, and responded in the same manner as you have, would you not be appalled at the baseness of it? After all, you have criticized them for the prominence of their Chick Tract responses. How are your actions here better? To me they seem worse, since Chick Tracts are common enough to merit a public response. To be clear, I do not say you should not respond to nasty emails or that those who send them do not deserve rebuke. I do say that the public chastisement you have chosen is inappropriate, when a discreet reply is possible. Have you considered your actions in light of Proverbs 26:4-5? These verses teach that we must be careful in how we answer fools, and I think your recent postings are a poor example of obedience to that teaching. You know that genuine apologetics demands interaction with the best possible construction of contrary beliefs. I suggest that posting the unreflective attacks of some does not advance this objective because it amounts to an implicit ad hominem attack on your part. Why ad hominem? Not because you do not make responses to the contents of their remarks, but because the selection of these shameful postings as targets implies in itself an imputation of foolhardiness to all Catholics. If this is what you intend, you should know better, as I am sure most of your readers do. If this is not what you intend, I would like to know what your objective is and why you think a public posting of these messages is proper to that end. By the way, my work schedule does not permit me to call the Dividing Line, but I will respond in writing to any reply.

   Greetings:
   First, you would have to have some idea of what kind of e-mail is sent through our website to make much of a case that I have “selectively” chosen just the bad examples. In reality, what we post is sadly reflective of the normal “chatter” sent to our website.
   Secondly, I do reject, openly, the kinds of materials that are thoughtless and mindless in their attacks upon Roman Catholicism. And I take the heat for it. But this is just where you have missed the importance of exposing this kind of rhetoric and its prevalence on “your” side of the aisle. These people are normative in your apologetics forums. They are not rebuked. They are not refuted. They are the majority. Look at the Envoy Forums, the Catholic Answers forums, the comments sections on Akin’s blog. Are you seriously going to argue that the vast majority of those who post there are not reflected quite accurately in the e-mails I have posted? I simply cannot tell you how often I get the, “Oh, you have no idea what you are talking about! You’ve been refuted over and over again!” And when I ask, “May I have examples?” I get the Miki response (silence) or, if someone actually tries to come up with a response, it is rarely anything more than some old URL listing disagreements, never anything near what would be required to back up the kind of rhetoric these folks throw out all the time.
   If I might note in passing, if someone came into my chat channel spewing the kind of venom toward Rome, the same kind of illogical, arrogant, ignorant rhetoric that appears with regularity in e-mail or in apologetics forums in defense of Rome, they would be rebuked immediately and, if they refused correction, would be kicked right out with an admonition not to return until they had cleaned up their attitude! Meanwhile, Art Sippo is free to breed followers who behave in the most atrocious manner right under Patrick Madrid’s nose and with precious few rebukes from others.
   So really, since I have often made it clear that there is a vast spectrum represented out there in Catholic apologetics, and I have often pointed to men like Mitch Pacwa as individuals I can respect for their unwillingness to engage in the kind of behavior seen in those forums and in these e-mails, I can hardly be called inconsistent. However, the very fact I can point out the fair minded apologists proves my point. They are in the small minority. The vast majority of the folks my audience is going to be encountering are like these folks who are writing to our website. They have absorbed into the very fabric of their being the kind of behaviors modeled for them by their favorite apologists. And since the use of ad-hominem is seen so regularly by many of the “big names” on EWTN, they go down that road. And since they are often being assured that their simplistic reading of church history is correct, despite the obvious fact they cannot even begin to interact with the realities of those records, they are quick to claim the entire early church for their own, confident that anyone who would disagree is just ignorant.
   So while I appreciate your concern, I would like to suggest that your real problem is not with me pointing out the empty nature of so much of the common Roman Catholic boasting at these major websites and in Catholic media (it is incessant); the problem is on your side of the border, shall we say. I’m simply reflecting it and making it known and, in the process, getting some facts and arguments out there to those who are involved in evangelizing Roman Catholics.

From the Mailbag

Anyway, I have read in many of your posts about the impossibility of justifying the Catholic latria v. dulia distinction. Maybe I’m confused about something, but this distinction seems rather obvious to me. Thomas Aquinas, for example says this about “dulia”: Wherefore dulia, which pays due service to a human lord, is a distinct virtue from latria, which pays due service to the lordship of God. It is, moreover, a species of observance, because by observance we honor all those who excel in dignity, while dulia properly speaking is the reverence of servants for their master, dulia being the Greek for servitude. So “dulia” (though given to the saints in the Catholic Church) is given to those “who excel in dignity.” It would be appropriate to render dulia (as far as I know) to our parents, political leaders…anyone worthy of honor. You certainly wouldn’t call *that* idolatry. Indeed, in the old Anglican wedding service, the bride and groom used these words: “With my body I thee worship.” Now this is certainly not something we would say today (as worship has become almost exclusively a theological concept), but it shows the way in which even a term like “worship” may be used to express the honor due to a non-saint human being. So…it is this sort of honor or “worship” which Catholic believe is due to saints (as I see it). In fact, I heard a Catholic leader on the radio recently say that we ought to see the saints as friends, brethren, not superhuman benefactors who may take the place of God for us. Anyway, my question is how you justify the rejection of any distinction between latria (adoration due to God) and dulia (the honor due to those worthy of honor as creatures). If you have engaged this topic directly at some point, it would be wonderful to be referred to that essay.

   Actually, I have addressed the issue in The Roman Catholic Controversy and in my debate with Patrick Madrid on Long Island relative to the veneration of saints and angels. The topic illustrates, very clearly, the difference between deriving your theology from God’s divine revelation in Scripture and deriving it from other sources. There simply is no biblical basis for saying it is acceptable to give service to created beings but only worship to God, for both concepts are part and parcel of the single meaning of “worship” in Scripture. “You shall worship and serve God alone” cannot be changed into “you shall worship God alone; but as long as you call your religious devotion ‘service’ you can ‘serve’ Mary and angels and saints, too.” The Bible not only does not recognize such a distinction, it denies it, both lexicographically (both latria and dulia trace back to biblical usages and both terms refer to divine worship) as well as by direct assertion. Paul refers to the idolatry that marked the pagan past of the Galatians as “service” in Galatians 4:8 (“However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves [“served,” evdouleu,sate, root term being douleuo, leading to dulia in Latin] to those which by nature are no gods”). So if one begins with the Word as your ultimate authority, no amount of quibbling from later sources will change the reality of the definition of worship. And believe me, ask Uzzah if God is serious about the topic of worship (2 Samuel 6:3-7).
   Aquinas does not define biblical terms, and his comments are not reflective of biblical usage. Later uses of “worship” in any language are, likewise, utterly irrelevant, of course, as that would lead to the common error of anachronism, reading later uses back into the biblical context. Of course, that is exactly what Rome does. I have heard many an apologist use old or middle English uses of “worship” as if this is somehow relevant to the matter at hand, and, of course, it is not. Can you picture it? A man is caught bowing down before a Baal in Moses’ day in his tent. He is brought before Moses, and when asked for a reason for his idolatry, the man replies, “Oh, that wasn’t idolatry. Don’t you know that someday, in a language that will come into broad use in about 3,000 years, you will be able to argue for a less strict use of the term?” I’m sure that would go over about as well as the, “Oh, I wasn’t worshipping the idol by bowing down and lighting candles before it, I was giving it dulia instead” excuse. Both excuses would go with the idolater under a pile of rocks.
   So the better question to ask would be, upon what basis does any Roman Catholic believe the distinction he or she embraces that allows him or her to bow down before a statue and light candles and repeat prayers will stand before the holy God who gave us His Word and who has revealed that He seeks pure worship?