Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Armstrong's Reading List
12/31/2004 - James WhiteMr. Armstrong has provided a reading list on his blog. In essence, this means that instead of blaming ignorance for his very shallow misrepresentations of non-Catholic theology and exegesis, we must now assert knowing deception. So far, DA has been unable to provide even the slightest meaningful defense of his own published statements and their refutation. Which is really only marginally relevant to the real issue: hopefully, aside from demonstrating the exegetical bankruptcy of The Catholic Verses, answers are being given to all those observing and learning how to speak the truth to those who likewise would handle the Word from the vantage point of tradition rather than allowing it to speak for itself with its own voice.
Quick Thought Regarding DA and Exegesis
12/31/2004 - James WhiteDave Armstrong is responding on his blog, but I confess, it seems to be pretty difficult to follow where he's going. Here's how today's retort, which in its title speaks of "ad hominem," starts. My words are in blue:
DA has replied to my first comments on his book [see: previous installment ]. They were...predictable. Armstrong says his book is not "primarily" exegetical. Quite true. It is not secondarily exegetical. It is not exegetical in a tertiary manner. It simply isn't exegetical at all....
It does contain some exegesis, but here's the heart of my purpose (from my Introduction):
. . . only rarely do they seriously engage the biblical texts utilized by Catholics to support their positions . . . . critique of common Protestant attempts to ignore, explain away, rationalize, wish away, over-polemicize, minimize, de-emphasize, evade clear consequences of, or special plead with regard to "the Catholic Verses": 95 biblical passages . . . ultimate incoherence, inadequacy, inconsistency, or exegetical and theological implausibility of the Protestant interpretations . . . (pp. xii-xiv)
But, that's the whole point. The book pretends to "confound" Protestants with biblical passages, remember? I did not choose the title, Mr. Armstrong did.
Technically, I am not trying to "confound" anyone. It is the Bible which gives Protestants difficulty. I'm merely documenting exegetical bankruptcy, confusion, or irrationality.
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The Catholic Verses: 91 Reduced to 87 (Part III)
12/31/2004 - James WhiteTwo passages are cited by Armstrong under the subtitle of "Carrying Christ's Afflictions in our Bodies," 2 Cor. 4:10 and Col. 1:24. Colossians 1:24 is very commonly cited by RC theologians and apologists in reference to the doctrine of penance, purgatory, and indulgences, all related to the idea that our sufferings can be meritorious (when they meet certain conditions) and hence "complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church"). Almost a full decade ago now I debated Robert Fastiggi in Austin, Texas, on the subject of indulgences, and in the course of that debate, took note of the comments of Bishop Lightfoot, the great Anglican scholar, regarding Colossians 1:24 and the term "afflictions" from his commentary on Colossians (as the quote is a decade old in my notes, it uses the Mounce Greek font instead of BibleWorks: converting would be rather time-intensive): ...
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Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#9)
12/31/2004 - James WhiteSaifullah and Azmy quote the less than conservative Interpreter's Bible in saying, "It is safe to say that there is not one sentence in the NT in which the MS tradition is wholly uniform." This is simply untrue, and most especially in the context in which it is offered, it is grossly misleading. First, there is a vast difference between saying "a textual variant exists in sentence X" and saying "the original form or meaning of sentence X is not known." Those serious about the subject well know the difference.
But beyond this, if all this source is saying is that when you spread a text out over fifteen hundred years of hand-written promulgation that you will find a copyist error in almost every sentence, that may well be true. However, a critical edition of either testament will contain numerous sentences in which there is no variation listed simply because a single copyist error in a 14th century manuscript, for example, is hardly relevant to the actual reading of the text. So if this is all the source is saying, why even bring it up? Isn't it fairly obvious that in all hand-written documents of antiquity minor copyist errors exist? Are S&A claiming the Qur'an is exempt from containing any copyist errors in any single manuscript in history? Surely not! So what is the relevance outside of shameful misrepresentation of the actual situation?
S&A's misuse of scholarly material and textual critical principles comes to full expression in their handling of Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph, or in Hebrew, a). To this we will turn next in our examination.
The Catholic Verses: 91 Reduced to 87 (Part II)
12/31/2004 - James WhiteOnce again, in citing Phil. 3:10 and Rom. 8:17, Armstrong does not consider it necessary to actually handle the verses, establish context, meaning, anything exegetical. They are simply cited, and then the assumption is made that Protestants have no place in their theology for "suffering." And his source for this (if you happen to be widely read in meaningful Protestant writing you are probably wondering, since you have read lots about suffering and its role in conforming us to the image of Christ) is...himself! "He [Paul in Romans 8] is going along, talking like a good 'born again,' sanctified, 'filled with the Holy Ghost" Evengelical Protestant, and then suddenly (unless one ignores this part, as I did in my Protestant days) he becomes a morbid, masochistic, crucific-clutching Catholic and takes away everyone's fun and peaches and cream: '...if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.'" Evidently, Armstrong's audience does not include serious minded Protestants, for such writing immediately informs one that Mr. Armstrong's "Protestant" experience was anything but serious.
Armstrong writes, "There is no need to consult commentaries at this point, for our purposes." Well, even if consulting secondary sources without providing primary exegesis would be sufficient, the point is that Armstrong has no concept of the depth of writing from non-Catholic sources on the meaning and purpose of suffering; further, the Roman Catholic use of the term, especially in reference to penance, would require his proving that in the context of writing to the churches at Rome and Philippi Paul intended to communicate, through the term "suffering," the kind of thing Armstrong has in mind as a Roman Catholic, and once again, he does not even try to make this connection. It is simply assumed. ...
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And You Thought I Forgot About Fractals
12/30/2004 - James WhiteI know, I had been doing real well with my fractals back in July and August, but then I ran out of time again. Well, I recently upgraded my Seractal screen saver program, and the new version creates, randomly, some very nice fractals. This one showed up this evening on my laptop (notice the odd screen resolution), and so I uploaded it to my site and am providing a link here. While it is not one that I specifically worked up on my own, it is still quite attractive. You can see the full version by clicking here.
The Protestant Verses: Can Dave Armstrong Exegete This Passage?
12/30/2004 - James WhiteI'd like to ask Dave Armstrong to provide a biblically solid, textually grounded, linguistically accurate, contextually sound interpretation of Romans 4:6-8:
Romans 4:6-8 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD will not impute sin."
I scanned through The Catholic Verses and couldn't find a reference to this passage (I may have missed it); I looked at the Scripture index to A Biblical Defense of Catholicism and it is not listed. I tried googling Armstrong's blog and website, but got no hits on various ways of listing the passage. If Armstrong has already written something that fits this request, I will be glad to look at it upon referral. But, failing that, I would simply ask: "Who is the blessed man of Romans 4:6-8 in Roman Catholic theology?" I would assume Armstrong possesses a copy of The God Who Justifies (though it is not referred to in his new book, which is especially interesting regarding the 24 page chapter on James 2:14-24 that Armstrong neglects in his book), but should he not, allow me to reproduce the exegesis I offered of this section. I would be very interested in a response-in-kind from Mr. Armstrong. (Please forgive any formatting issues, the lack of italics, and of the footnotes that are in the original. Please refer to the published work for those details): ...
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The Catholic Verses: 95 Reduced to 91
12/30/2004 - James WhiteDave Armstrong lists four verses that "confound Protestants" under the subtitle of "The Binding Authority of Tradition, According to St. Paul," beginning on page 37 of The Catholic Verses. They are:
1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. ...
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Leningrad Codex Online
12/29/2004 - James WhiteI just saw a notification on PaleoJudaica.com that the Leningrad Codex is online and searchable. Here it is. Please try to contain your excitement. Your co-workers will wonder why you are shouting when you see it.
Regarding Theological Dialogues
12/29/2004 - James WhiteIn the "olden days" theological dialogues took time. You might receive an article, or a book, from someone who lives far away, addressing your own views/publications. No one would expect you to respond the day you received it. In fact, everyone would expect that time would pass before a response would be offered. It was not only expected, it was fully understood, given the technology of the day.
I'm not sure technology has helped us in this area. Fast theology is not always good theology. Take the current discussion between myself and Eric Svendsen. I purposefully did not respond to the initial discussion regarding the extent of the atonement (even though specific statements were made that contradict my own published position). I waited. People would ask, "So, are you going to respond?" I would say, "Yes, in time." And you could just tell, "What, in time? What's wrong, White? He must have refuted you! You must be struggling to come up with a reply! You are in trouble!" Etc. and etc. Now, I know in a live debate, as we saw in the Presidential debates last month, that long pauses are not good. In reality, long pauses should mean nothing. But we all know they do, in a live debate, especially when the majority of those viewing it are not judging on the basis of substance, but on the basis of appearance. You have to be able to think on your feet and speak with clarity and speed. But in a written discussion of something as sacred, as weighty, as vital (and as little discussed) as the atoning work of Jesus Christ, speed is not of the essence. Clarity, accuracy, and above all, fidelity to the Word, is what matters. Indeed, my own reason for engaging the discussion is the edification of the people of God who read and appreciate what both Eric and I produce. And I do not see that speed is helpful or good in this situation. I think taking our time will make the conversation considerably more useful to all concerned. Such may well be best for almost all such conversations. Quality over quantity and haste.
The Catholic Verses: Introit
12/29/2004 - James WhiteI sometimes feel sorry for ancient artists. Their work gets plastered all across the covers of modern books, but they never get a dime for their efforts. It's a shame. That odd observation aside, I picked up a copy of Dave Armstrong's The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants (Sophia Institute Press, 2004, 235 pp.), which sports said ancient art (a di Bondone painting) on its cover. I'm a Protestant, and I have yet to be confounded by Dave Armstrong, so I thought it might be interesting to invest some time in using it as a resource here on the blog.
Likewise, I was listening to a debate between a Church of Christ minister and Bill Rutland, another Roman Catholic apologist, yesterday. I was fascinated by Rutland's bold assertions about the Greek language (I'll be addressing him in time). When RC apologists like Armstrong and Rutland promote arguments in their writings and debates that are, in fact, invalid, we have a duty to respond to them, even if we have, in fact, responded to similiar kinds of errors dozens of times in the past. Why? Because the folks you may be seeking to win to the gospel may have a copy of The Catholic Verses on their nightstand, or a CD of Rutland's in their car.
Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall win the award for brevity and concise expression, and let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage. Thankfully, there are folks "in channel" who can help me find out if there is, in fact, anything at all of substance in said replies, and if there is, I will seek to note it, again for only one reason: the edification of the saints both in their confidence in the gospel and in their preparation for the task of proclamation.
So we will begin with one of the classic passages in the Catholic/Protestant debate: 2 Thessalonians 2:15. I will start there in the next installment simply because Armstrong notes The Roman Catholic Controversy in his book, hence, his section on the verse should "confound" my own exegesis of the text. Does it? We shall see.
What Scripture Does Not, Cannot, Dare Not, Never Will, Say (But Not What it DOES Say) Part 2
12/29/2004 - James WhiteAfter making the eisegetical comments noted in our previous entry, Hunt writes,
Read the entire text again carefully (John 6:35–65). Christ does not say that all whom the Father draws, but all whom He gives to the Son, will come to Him,and He will lose none of them whom the Father gives Him; they will all be raised at the last day. Of whom is Christ speaking? We have seen that the Bible teaches that in God ’s foreknowledge He knew who would believe and who would reject the gospel. The former are those whom the Father has given to the Son. There is nothing here about causing a select number to believe unto salvation and choosing not to save the rest of mankind.
What an amazing display of eisegesis! The text provides clear and compelling teaching on the fact that the giving of the Father results in the coming of all of those given to the Son (6:37). If Hunt were to draw his theology from the text (rather than from his traditions), he would have to conclude that the giving of the Father precedes, and hence determines, the coming of any individual to faith in Christ. But he does not derive his theology from the Scriptures in that way. So, he leaps out of John 6, imports an error that he has been corrected on numerous times (but refuses said correction), and as a result turns the text on its head and can conclude that there is nothing about election in the passage. This is tradition at its worst: its power is supreme, and unchallengeable. He continues,
Christ says that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. But He doesn’t say that everyone whom the Father draws actually comes to the Son and is saved. All Scripture testifies to a genuine desire on God’s part for all to be saved. Salvation has been procured by Christ and is genuinely offered to whosoever will believe—but not everyone believes. God’s sincere desire for all to be saved is stated so often and clearly by prophets, Christ, and His apostles that we dare not see a contrary interpretation in this passage.
Once again we encounter the "All Scripture" ploy. When you can't exegete the text, just claim that "all Scripture" teaches your tradition, and use this to beat the text into submission. Never mind that every single time you are dragged kicking and screaming into any particular text your interpretation is shown to be wrong, you don't need to worry about particulars like that. Just claim to have dozens and dozens and hundreds and hundreds of verses on your side and all will be well. Dave Hunt cannot show us why, in John 6:44, the one drawn is not the one raised up in every instance. He knows it. But he has chosen to hold to his tradition rather than the Word. It is a sad thing to observe, but he has now proven it in three different books (if you include the second edition as another book). For Hunt, his tradition is final, and hence cannot be questioned, on any basis. And that should sadden us all.
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#8)
12/29/2004 - James WhiteAt this point our authors return to the issue of isnad, and in the process demonstrate an accute ignorance not only of the irrelevance of the topic given the history of their own Scriptures, as we have noted, but likewise the fact that to follow their reasoning is to abandon the existence of any historical records of antiquity at all. Their arguments would, in essence, close the door to inquiry into any ancient history, let alone, by definition, refute any ancient Scripture that was not canonized by a central body through the power of the sword. Setting up your parameters so that only relatively modern Scriptures like the Qur'an can "pass the test" is hardly a meritorious argument for Islamic apologists.
Next our Muslim apologists go back to comparing apples and oranges. They complain that "Another serious blow to the textual integrity of the Bible comes as we notice almost a complete absence of control methods for its transmission." I.e., the control of the text by a central authority is the only way to ensure a valid text, or so they wish to argue. They raise the issue of ijaza, the means of passing on a text, or tradition, with controls and the like (not unlike the mechanisms designed by the Massoretes with reference to the Hebrew text), once again failing to recognize that their own system precludes them having any higher confidence in the form of their own Scriptural text than that provided by the religious body to which they entrust themselves, and the singular "version" it produced in the past. The New Testament scriptures were not promulgated by armies: they were promulgated by believers. They were copied not by scribes authorized by a central religious body, but by passionate believers who wanted others to be able to read and possess this portion of God's revelation in Christ. S&A may not like the mechanism God chose, but I do not accept their ipse dixit that God is bound to their system of transmission, either.
What Scripture Does Not, Cannot, Dare Not, Never Will, Say (But Not What it DOES Say)
12/28/2004 - James WhiteOne way you can detect unfounded tradition masquerading as "biblical beliefs" is to note the prevalence of "this passage can't be saying this" combined with little or no positive "the text clearly says this" followed by meaningful exegesis. When someone can only tell you what the Bible doesn't say, but can't tell you positively what it does, they have a tradition problem.
Dave Hunt's writings are filled to overflowing with the "this text doesn't say this, since the whole Bible says this" kind of eisegesis. Whenever you see Hunt saying, "the entire Bible tells us..." just take that phrase out in your mind and put in "my tradition tells me" and you'll be right on the point. What Love is This? (eds. 1&2) is the perfect handbook on how not to do either exegesis or historical research. A classic example is given on page 420 of the second edition (334 of the original):
Yet Christ clearly says it is those who actually come to Him whom He will raise up at the last day. Calvinists read into Christ’s words what isn’t there. He actually said:...
1. All that the Father giveth me [not all He draws] shall come to me;
2. and him that cometh to me [not everyone the Father draws] I will in no wise cast out.
3. And this is the Father’s will...that of all which he giveth me [not all whom He draws] I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
4. Every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him [not all who are drawn], may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up....
5. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him [all who come have been drawn —not all who are drawn come]: and I will raise him up at the last day [all who will be raised up have been drawn, but not all who have been drawn will be raised up].
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The Extent of the Atonement: the .5th Point of Calvinism
12/28/2004 - James WhiteLast week I replied, briefly, to Eric Svendsen's comments on particular redemption/limited atonement. My 1000 word response garnered a pretty quick response over three times that length that ended with, "I did not address every point in those articles since my intent for the blog entry was merely to clarify my own position, not take on Alpha and Omega Ministries : ) " Well, I'm hoping the smiley face communicates the fact that Eric really isn't "taking on" anyone, but that we are having a conversation about an important point, only via our blogs.
I do not know about Dr. Svendsen's schedule, but I begin teaching a Jan term class for GGBTS next week, so I know that the 1000 words-->3,300 words-->6,700 words-->12,000 words-->something certain verbose RC apologists would start to notice routine won't work for me. So I will keep this "blog sized." And there is another reason why I need to do so: I honestly have not encountered Dr. Svendsen's position before, at least not as he is defining it. Hence, while my position is a known element, I cannot assume anything regarding his. That means I run the danger of speculation, which is poison to any meaningful discussion.
In his last response Dr. Svendsen wrote the following: ...
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Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#7)
12/28/2004 - James WhiteThe fundamental misunderstanding of Saifullah and Azmy regarding the science of textual criticism vitiated any serious challenge to be offered by the entirety of their article (we respond to it, however, due to the fact that most evangelicals are utterly unfamiliar with the most basic elements of the field as well, and hence might find the willy-nilly citation of obscure sources impressive or challenging). S&A note that the standard sources of modern English Bible translations are the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia for the Hebrew text and the Nestle-Aland Greek text (currently 27th ed., printed, with the 28th in the works) for the New Testament. They add that these texts are based on "editorial judgment." That is true: the main text is the result of the editorial judgment of the committees. But the texts provide the data at the bottom of the page when there is a serious textual variant. Once again we point out the difference between Uthmann's making the final decision on variant readings (decisions we cannot examine or test today) and the provision of a full spectrum of information so that all can examine the reasoning of the committee in its making its decisions regarding variants. Which would you rather have? "Trust us, we did it right the first time---or face our wrath"? or "Here's the data, here's how we decided"? We note the gratuitous and unsubstantiated statement that follows the mere recognition of textual variation in manuscripts, "There is no evidence to show that the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament texts used in the translation of these modern days Bibles are either 'original' or 'inspired' by God." S&A might want to consider that it is always best, when you are seeking to convince someone of your position, to present a cogent argument first, and then your conclusion, rather than stating your conclusions right up front without providing substantiation, and then trying to use your conclusions as part of your argument. Surely no serious-minded Christian who has read meaningfully in the field of discussion is going to find this kind of rhetoric compelling.
S&A continue, "We would also like to point out that the critical texts of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament are unique. No texts like these ever existed in the history of Christianity until the advent of modern textual criticism." This is quite true. But what is its relevance? We are not told. In point of fact, all this means is that modern generations have more reason to trust the providence of God in the transmission of the Scriptures today than ever before, and Muslim apologists have less reason to speak as they do! Knowledge of the ancient texts is only increasing not decreasing, and this is a good thing, not a bad thing, as they seem to wish people to think. Once again, the irony of those who have no means of getting past the Uthmanian revision to an original text pressing an argument like this is striking. And hence we simply have to dismiss as unproven and false the conclusion offered in this paragraph, "Therefore, even if the missionaries foolishly prefer the content over the canon, they still have to live with the fact that in either of these two cases, the 'scriptures' are demonstrably not the same today as in Muhammad's time." S&A clearly believe this: but they clearly do not understand what would be required of them to present such a conclusion at this point in their presentation.
What Edit Job is This? Part...Who Remembers?
12/27/2004 - James WhiteSo I'm thinking about trying to find some way of wrapping up the What Love is This? series of blog entries, and so I ask myself, "Given that Hunt accused Calvinists of misusing the subjunctive in Debating Calvinism, I wonder if he inserted something relevant to that allegation in this new edition?" A quick search for "subjunctive" in the e-text of the book yields nothing. So I looked for something relevant to John 3:17, the text in which the issue came up. I ran across this section:
Like most other apologists for Calvinism, White avoids John 3:14-15 and doesn't even attempt to deal with the unequivocal statement in 3:17 "that the world through him might be saved "(to which his explanation of John 3:16 couldn't possibly apply). Obviously,this further comment by Christ explains the meaning of the entire section (John 3:14 -18) pertaining to His death on the Cross, making it very clear that God gave His Son for the salvation of the entire world. (p. 338)...
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Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#6)
12/27/2004 - James WhiteWe continue our response to Saifullah and Azmy by noting their listing of various ecclesiastical traditions (Protestant, Roman Catholic, and then much smaller ones, such as Coptic, Armenian, etc.) and their statement "They all contain a different number of books. Again the scriptures are demonstrably not the same today as in Muhammad's time." Notice the massive (and unwarranted) leap between "the canon process wasn't decided by military force in the Christian tradition" (and hence there were disputed books, thankfully---can you imagine if everything written by anyone in any place was just automatically included in the canon? You'd have a mess like...that found in The Da Vinci Code!) and "the Christian Scriptures were not the same as in Muhammad's time." See, for S&A to make that point, they would have to demonstrate that, say, John 14-16, and its references to the Holy Spirit (which many Muslims try to connect to Muhammad instead), did not pre-exist Muhammad's time in the form in which we now possess them. They will seek to do this very thing later by applying utterly unreasonable standards to the field of textual criticism, but once again we are very much unimpressed with the rather obvious fact that the conclusions of S&A's "inquiry" were obviously determined right at the start, and the pretense of presenting factual evidence in support is just that: a pretense. The factual evidence utilized is not going to be used fairly, that's for certain.
Evidently I am not the first to recognize the problem with S&A's understanding of the history of Scripture, as they cite a Christian writer responding very much along the same lines. S&A simply refuse to get the point, as they insist that if there is any question about the canon of Scripture (once again simply pointing out the difference between canon-by-force and canon-by-spiritual leadership of God's people over time) then the content of the various books of the Bible that pre-existed Muhammad's time must be different as well. Any reader can see their error, of course. They insist upon an inspired canon, and once again the reader would find the discussion of the canon in Scripture Alone to be most helpful at this point.
Listening to Great Hymns
12/26/2004 - James WhiteWell, another Lord's Day passed, always hope God's people were edified by my meager efforts. I'm sitting here listening to Stuart Neill sing Hymns of The Church Triumphant from Ligonier Ministries. A Christmas gift from the Jancas (thanks!). Nice to know someone else sings the same hymns we sing at PRBC. Wonderful arrangements! Just gorgeous.
I've been thinking of an "end of the year review." But how do you summarize a year like this? Sorta reminded of the 30-second movie summaries performed by bunnies at angryalien.com (they are very funny). The Passion, rCist melt-down, Seifrid Saga at Southern...all rate up there toward the top of the list for 2004. I'll have to think some about that as my son and I take dominion over the earth again tomorrow morning.
The frailty of life and the power of creation has been demonstrated yet once again today in Asia. How awesome is the power of God's creation, and how quickly all our possessions, and our lives, can be taken away. I am reminded by such things of how fleeting is life, and how eternally worthless are all the things we surround ourselves with. Yet, if we see them as tools, means of God's blessing, and means by which we can accomplish eternal things, we can be thankful for them. It is all a matter of priorities.
A Christmas Textual Variant :-)
12/25/2004 - James WhiteFirst, a blessed Christmas to you all. For those rejoicing, may you do so to His glory. For those of you bearing burdens at this time of year, especially those who have lost a loved one in the past year, may you find God to be your consolation and comfort in all things.
Just one entry today (and yes, I wrote it yesterday and set it to appear Christmas morning). One of the most famous "Christmas" passages is taken from the King James Version:
But you may notice that the Christmas card company avoids modern translations like the NASB:
All of a sudden the "fluffy wuffy" element of the KJV rendering is gone, and we are back to that consistent message of God's holiness, man's sin, the need for reconciliation and redemption, etc. So what's the difference? Yes, it is textual in nature. In fact, it is the difference of a single letter, final form sigma, which often took a form in ancient uncial texts that could easily get "lost" in transcription. Here's a comparison:
The first is what is found in the underlying Greek text of the KJV; the second what is found in the modern Nestle-Aland text. The Majority Text supports the KJV reading, of course. So in case you were wondering about that (a lot of folks do this time of year), there is the difference.
Taking tomorrow off as I am preaching on Isaiah 7 through 9 in the services at PRBC (and teaching on 2 Cor. 5:21 in the AM Bible Study). Lord willing, back on Monday afternoon.
Concept 2 Rowing's Holiday Challenge, Stand to Reason, Craig Hazen, Richard Mouw
12/24/2004 - James WhiteNothing like an odd headline, eh? OK, here's what it's all about. Concept 2 rowing machines. Here's what they look like. OK, I got hooked on rowing while on a cruise a while back. They had these in the gym on the ship, and I loved it. Tried to get started with a cheapie Sears type when I got home, killed it in less than two weeks. Couldn't afford the real thing, stopped rowing. Well, a friend works for a gym, they had a rowing class cancel, and they had extra used Concept 2c units. I snagged one for $200.00. Enter the Holiday Rowing Challenge. Concept 2 sent out an e-mail announcing a challenge to row either 200,000m or 100,000m between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. For some reason I decided to go for it, though I hadn't rowed since like August. For a few days almost two weeks in I flirted with the idea of going for the 200K, but I would have had to have rowed about 9k a day at that point, and I just had too many other things going. Anyway, today was the last day to row. I did an 8k run, for a total for the Holiday Challenge of 120k. ...
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An Apologetic Christmas
12/24/2004 - James WhiteApologetics and Christmas. Not the most common pair, is it? In fact, for most, you'd be pretty crass to be practicing apologetics on Christmas. But is it really that odd a combination? A few thoughts.
We all know there is an all-out assault on the Christian faith that is manifesting itself in the demand to stop saying "Merry Christmas" (lest you "offend" someone--evidently, the only folks who are insensitive to offense are Christians). The major news media have been rolling out their tired, but seemingly obligatory, attacks upon Christ and the Bible, assuring us that we celebrate nothing but a myth at this time of year. Indeed, one is more likely to see Barry Lynn or John Shelby Spong at this time of year than a picture of the manger. But these attacks upon the historicity of the Christ event and the Bible require apologetic responses. How many believers will be prepared to give a cogent, clear defense of their faith in the historicity of Jesus over Christmas dinner when unbelieving family members raise the issue? And can that response be offered without the all-too-often accompanying hyper-ventilation? ...
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Sanctify Christ as Lord in Your Hearts
12/23/2004 - James WhiteEvery apologist knows the passage by heart:
1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always [being] ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (NASB)
But did you know this passage identifies Jesus as YHWH? Note the Greek of the first portion of this passage:
ku,rion de. to.n Cristo.n a`gia,sate evn tai/j kardi,aij u`mw/n(
Now, compare the Greek of the Septuagint (LXX) at Isaiah 8:13:
ku,rion auvto.n a`gia,sate kai. auvto.j e;stai sou fo,boj
See the similarity? Except when Peter draws from the LXX here, he inserts "Christ," saying we should sanctify, or set Him apart, as "Lord" in our hearts, the term "Lord" in the LXX referring directly to "Yahweh of hosts" in the Hebrew. It is hard for modern readers to climb back into the mindset and context of someone like Peter and hence to feel the weight of the use of such language of Christ, the Messiah. One thing is for sure, the early Christians did not view Jesus the way so many in our culture, and sadly, in "the church," view Him today.
12/22/2004 - James WhiteIf you do not own a PDA, and have no intention of ever owning one (though I know some who have been worn down over time and have joined the group), you can skip this one. But for the rest of us, I wanted to note (though I'm probably way behind the time) that PalmBible+ (here's the website) has upgraded to version 3.03, and my what an improvement in look and performance! I use two Bible programs on my PDA (a PalmOne Tungsten T3 as pictured; I've looked at the T5 and do not intend to upgrade. I like the smaller profile of the T3, and so far it has done everything I've needed it to do), the PalmBible+ program, and OliveTree's BibleReader (website). Each has nice features and some advantages over the other. The new version of PalmBible+ has a better navigation system, which had always been its drawback as far as I was concerned. OliveTree's offering is very fast to navigate, but is not nearly as fast loading the files. However, I have Gramcord on OliveTree, something that, to my knowledge, PalmBible+ does not offer. However, the Greek text on PalmBible+ is very readable.
With just my Palm I have access to about ten English translations, multiple Greek texts, the Hebrew text, even the LXX. I also carry all of my books on my Palm, a wide variety of Edwards, Spurgeon, etc., and by using AvantGo, I keep up with weather, news, etc. Of course, I use it for all of my scheduling as well, and I carry nearly 150 pictures (get to show off my family in full, glorious color that never gets ruined by being carried around in a wallet) and a few very interesting videos as well. Of course, I have four different chess games, Battleship, and my favorite, Bejeweled 2 (sometimes waiting at the gate at the airport gets downright boring!). It is quite the handy unit. Of course, who will ever forget Peter Stravinskas calling one of my earlier versions my "gizmo" in the debate on purgatory? Anyway, just wanted to thank [Pete] the wonderful and crazy Nova Scotian for keeping me up to date on the PalmBible+ program (he turned me on to it). And btw, if you enjoy the DL, remember to thank Pete. Without him, it wouldn't happen. Here's his website, and his blog.
Christmas Calvinists: A Brotherly Rejoinder
12/21/2004 - James WhiteI can't tell you how many of our channel regulars have been asking me, "So, are you going to respond to Eric Svendsen's comments on limited atonement?" Obviously, Dr. Svendsen's audience and my own overlap to a large degree, so when Eric makes comments about why he can't be a full 5-pt. Calvinist (and in the process makes comments about "extent" passages that are contradictory to those I have offered in such published works as The Potter's Freedom), it is natural that many would like to hear a "response." BTW, for those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Sproul's joke, a Christmas Calvinist is one that has "No L." Get it? No L. Noel. Ha ha ha.
The problem is, the blog article referred to does not really address my presentation regarding why I hold to particular redemption (limited atonement). I do not believe you start with "extent" passages: they are to be read in light of the purpose of the atonement, the union of the elect with Christ, the concept of mediation and intercession (and its results), and the nature of the New Covenant (i.e., the covenant in the blood of Christ). Nothing in the blog article I read touched upon these issues as they are central to my presentation of this great doctrine. And while I disagree with Eric on his comments regarding 2 Peter 2:1-2, 1 John 2:2 (TPF 274-277), and 1 Timothy 4:10, I don't see my presentation on the atonement being addressed. So allow me to note just two things briefly in response. ...
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Serious Exegesis of John 10 (Final Installment)
12/21/2004 - James WhiteIn examining the "serious exegesis" offered by Osborne in Grace Unlimted of key texts in John we have noted that when Arminians seek to interact with such strong statements of God's sovereignty they impress an external grid down upon the text that limits its voice and mutes its testimony. We have seen Osborne skim across the top of the text, lightly touching it, but surely not even attempting to make it appear that he is deriving his theology and conclusions from it. One final example will have to suffice, as we have many other things to be addressing.
An even semi-unbiased reading of John's Gospel reveals a powerful Savior, the good Shepherd, He who is one with the Father in the salvation of His people. He will never cast out those who come to Him (and all that are given Him by the Father savingly come). His sheep hear His voice, He gives eternal life to them, they are safe in His hand, and in the Father's hand. Over and over again we have the power of the Savior, the perfection of His Work.
This comes out most especially in John 10. But what does "serious Arminian exegesis" do with this section? Do we finally see the text put in the position of primacy, so that the first question is, "What does the text here teach" rather than "How can we get around this text and maintain our libertarianism?"? Let's find out: ...
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TBC Damage Control Continues: But No Apologies
12/21/2004 - James WhiteIs it really that hard to say, "Wow, man, how did that get in there? That paragraph is just so wrong. Dave had not been feeling well that night, and, wow, we apologize, retract, and in general do penance for having pawned such tripe off on the Christian community as a whole." But no, evidently, the powers that be at TBC feel any admission of error is death to everything they've ever done, so, the excuses just keep flowing.
As we have documented, when we challenged Hunt on what we have now officially identified as the "Prophetic Redacted Hebrew of Acts 15 Paragraph," TBC sent out in e-mail a listing of sources (none of which, in fact, were at all relevant to the wild claims of said paragraph) that they had lifted directly from a Yahwist cult website. They did so without linking to the page or acknowledging their "borrowing" of the list. So, when appraised that the rest of us have browsers and can type "www.google.com," TBC has had to come up with an explanation of their actions. Allow me to summarize. Dave is busy. He told us to find something. He didn't actually USE those sources, we just sorta went looking. We didn't cite them because, well, they are cultists anyway. We really don't approve of everyone on the list, either. But, hey, it was a start. ...
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Australia Makes Godless Judges Theologians
12/20/2004 - James WhiteI mentioned briefly a few days ago the decision by Australian Judge Michael Higgins condemning a seminar, newsletter, and website article posted by Catch the Fire ministries. You can read more about it here at the Free Republic website. Here is the actual document recording the initial decision. The judge will be releasing a lengthier decision in the future.
Reading this "decision" should send chills down the spine of any freedom loving individual, no matter what your nationality. It is plain beyond all measure that Higgins has grossly violated all semblance of judicial fairness or accuracy here. First, Higgins establishes his own theological decisions concerning truth, the meaning of the Qur'an, etc, as the "objective" view. Since when did judges become experts in Islamic law, history, and theology itself? This is why the state has no business or place intruding into this realm, and the result will always be the same: unregenerate men will act in an unregenerate fashion. Over and over again Higgins cites simple truths as if they are in fact untrue, and on that basis, dismisses the alleged protection the law gives for such "offensive actions" if they are undertaken "for any genuine academic, artistic, religious or scientific purpose." By establishing his own personal views as the "objective" truth, Higgins dismisses the viewpoint he disagrees with as unreasonable: "I find that Pastor Scot's conduct was not engaged in reasonably and in good faith for any genuine religious purpose or any purpose that is in the public interest." Folks, belief in miracles is considered "unreasonable" by a large portion of the judiciary in Western culture today. Once the rule of law is dismissed (as it has been in this instance in Australia), we are the mercy of king-priests in black robes known as "judges." ...
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An Incarnational Celebration Thought
12/20/2004 - James WhiteI will be preaching on the Isaiah 7-9 section ("Immanuel" and "Mighty God" passages) next Sunday at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. I just love this section (my first sermon at PRBC was on Isaiah 6, actually). Keil and Delitzsch made a comment regarding the use of "mighty God" that I've noted in the past:
The name gibbor is used here as an adjective, like shaddai in El shaddai. The Messiah, then, is here designated "mighty God." Undoubtedly this appears to go beyond the limits of the Old Testament horizon; but what if it should go beyond them? It stands written once for all, just as in Jer. 23:6 Jehovah Zidkenu (Jehovah our Righteousness) is also used as a name of the Messiah,---a Messianic name, which even the synagogue cannot set aside (vid., Midrash Mishle 57a, where this is adduced as one of the eight names of the Messiah). Still we must not go too far. If we look at the spirit of the prophecy, the mystery of the incarnation of God is unquestionably indicated in such statements as these. But if we look at the consciousness of the prophet himself, nothing further was involved than this, that the Messiah would be the image of God as no other man ever had been (cf., El, Ps. 82:1), and that He would have God dwelling within Him (cf., Jer. 33:16). (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (2002). Commentary on the Old Testament. (Vol. 7, Page 164). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Some might wish to see a further level of understanding even on the part of the prophet, but that is not why I note this citation. It is just so refreshing, when one has to slog through all sorts of constant liberalism in almost anything written on the OT today, to read someone willing to faithfully read the text in its own context. And indeed, we celebrate the incarnation of the Mighty God this week. Hallelujah! Amen.
A Bit More on Serious Arminian Exegesis
12/19/2004 - James WhiteI simply could not resist responding to some more of the "serious Arminian exegesis" offered by Osborne in the Pinnock edited work, Grace Unlimited (BHP, 1975). Right after the section on John 6 comes a section on John 10:14, 14-18, 27-30. One is once again impressed with the fact that Arminian "exegesis" skims over the top of the text, spending the vast majority of its time on protecting its core philosophical commitment to libertarianism (and I emphasize once again, I believe in libertarianism: God has libertarian freedom, and He uses it to free dead slaves, but solely on the basis of His free grace, never on the basis of the actions or merits of those thusly redeemed---which is NOT the libertarianism these Arminians are defending/promoting). For example, Jesus' clear differentiation between His sheep and the unbelieving Jews who were not His sheep is dismissed without the slightest appeal to the text itself. Jesus established the clear parameters and order in such passages as John 8:43 and 47: "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word."..."He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God." The Arminian understanding is not "because you cannot hear My word" but because "you choose not to hear my Word." (Please note: there is no question that these men were choosing not to hear Christ's Word: their wills were actively opposed to the truth. The point is that they could do no other because they were enslaved to sin). The Arminian simply refuses to allow for the compatibility of God's sovereignty and man's acting as a responsible creature within the creaturely realm. When faced with Jesus' bald statement to the Jews that He would lay down His life for His sheep, but that they were not of His sheep, Osborne opines, ...
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Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#5)
12/19/2004 - James WhiteRecognizing that this series might be illegal in Australia (and would certainly be so in any nation enslaved to Muslim law), we press forward in responding to our Muslim apologists who seek, through the use of what might charitably be identified as "scatter-gun" citations to sow as much doubt as possible concerning the nature of the canon of the Christian Bible. Recall how we have noted that this begs the question for the Muslim regarding their own Scriptures: the certainty one has regarding the canon of the Qur'ân is only as robust as the certainty one invests in the religio-military authority that defined it and maintained it. Our authors pull together a few examples from the period after the Reformation where ancient discussions (reflected in, for example, the Muratorian Fragment, or in the writings of Origen and Athanasius) resurfaced in the views of individuals or very small groups. But the fact remains, of course, that these instances do not represent a wide spectrum of opinion, and they did not have any lasting impact upon what had already been established over the course of the preceding centuries. ...
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TBC's "Source" on Scholarship Anti-Trinitarian
12/19/2004 - James WhiteThe source The Berean Call utilized to attempt substantiation of the wild claims about a Hebrew original of Acts 13:48 that is meant to cast doubt upon the actual translation of the passage (all in the service of anti-Calvinism) turns out to be anti-Trinitarian as well. Their statement of faith includes this line: "The Holy Spirit is likened to the wind, John 3:8; Acts 10:45, a dynamic, invisible force and is not a person. Therefore, we find that the Trinity doctrine is not scriptural but is from paganism." Gives new meaning to the old saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Let's "borrow" from the anti-Trinitarians, as long as it aids us in our blasting away wildly at "Calvinism."
Anti-Christ in a Clerical Collar
12/18/2004 - James White"There is no inerrant Bible. There is no one true Church. There is no faith once-for-all delivered to the saints." Once again Bishop Spong has expressed his deep and abiding detestation for the Christian faith, this time in a dialogue/debate with Al Mohler on Faith Under Fire. He likewise denied the resurrection, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement---i.e., the entirety of the core of the Christian faith. He is, without question, an anti-Christ. Does that surprise you? Does that make you flinch? Why? Let's remember what John said long ago:
1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. // 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. ...
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Serious Arminian Exegesis of Calvinist Prooftexts (Second Half)
12/18/2004 - James WhiteThe irony found in these exegetical notes is that the actual wording of the text is always subjugated by the author to an outside interpretational grid that itself would have to be derived from exegesis of other passages, etc. Osborne begins by stating "While there is some truth to the above statements, they for the most part neglect John's other emphasis, man's responsibility." First, this assumes a particular, narrow view of "man's responsibility" that rejects, a priori, the concept of compatibilism and the reality that God can hold men accountable for their actions while remaining sovereign and actively in control of human events (Gen. 50:20, Acts 4:27-28). But this is not strictly exegesis: it is theology. Secondly, one must establish Osborne's particular understanding of "man's responsibility" as being actually present in John's writings in the fashion he assumes it is.
Next Osborne claims, "Verses 37-40 are based upon verse 35, where we see that eternal life is dependent on coming and believing. Moreover, the present tenses of the participles indicate it does not speak about a crisis faith-decision but rather about persevering in those two states." Why are verses 37-40 based upon verse 35, and not verse 36? Isn't verse 36, with its adversative alla and its introduction of unbelief on the part of the audience a clear dialogue direction marker? How can this be overlooked? Is not the Lord explaining the giving of a particular people to the Son in light of His startling and challenging statement that these men, though they have come across the lake "seeking" Him, are in fact, not believers? There is no question, of course, that eternal life is the possession of those who are coming and believing, and that both participles are indeed expressing to us the on-going nature of this kind of saving faith, a point I have often made. But upon what basis do we pass over the fact that Jesus is explaining their unbelief in the light of His miracles and words? I suggest it is the over-arching necessity of Arminian theology, resulting in eisegesis rather than exegesis. Likewise, the citation that follows concerning the guilt of those who do not believe is quite true, but likewise based upon the assumption that if one believes in divine sovereignty one does not, at the very same time, believe in human responsibility, a concept unwarranted on any grounds, and surely one not derived from this passage. The unbelievers are accountable: but this does not in any way change the meaning of the text at hand. ...
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Serious Arminian Exegesis of Calvinist Prooftexts (First Half)
12/18/2004 - James WhiteThis morning I was noting the words of a "I'm such a soft and warm and ecumenical and Catholic Calvinist that I believe in baptismal regeneration and temporary justification and loss of true salvation" attempting to dig himself out of yet another hole he dug himself into by going way beyond the bounds in trying to take shots at yours truly. He was reduced to having to say, "It simply is not the case that only Calvinists are capable of doing serious exegesis of biblical passages, including disputed texts such as John 6 and Romans 9." Like anyone has ever claimed such a thing to begin with, of course. I have often lamented the unwillingness of non-Reformed evangelicals (since "Arminian" seems such a bad word these days) to do exegesis, or even allow for the discussion of the text on that level (Hunt, Bryson, etc.), and have demonstrated this by playing sermons by leading non-Reformed evangelicals, but as anyone can see, that's a far cry from saying they are not capable of the act of exegesis. I have often said that they are, because they use sound hermeneutics when addressing, say, the Deity of Christ. But they are unwilling to test their traditions by those same exegetical parameters when it comes to the sovereign freedom of God to save a people in Christ Jesus.
So this morning we were directed to an example of "serious Arminian exegesis of Calvinist prooftexts." Since this particular writer is fond of proclaiming my own incompentence in exegesis, I was excited to get the chance to learn what "serious Arminian" exegesis looks like. So we were referred to the 1975 Bethany House production, edited by Clark Pinnock (he hadn't completely melted down at this point, but was on his way) titled Grace Unlimited, and to the words of Grant Osborne on pp. 167-189. So I pulled this volume down off the shelf and, since the discussion had included reference to John 6, and I am outlining a book proposal of my own on the subject at the moment, I turned to the section on John 6:35-40, 44-45, 64-65, found on pp. 170-171.
Now, I first observe that it seems a bit unfair to call 606 words a representative sample of "exegesis" to begin with. When I provided a very brief outline of the exegesis of the passage in response to Geisler in The Potter's Freedom I wrote over five times that amount. But, this is what we were referred to. Here is the section, en toto ...
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The Melt Down of The Berean Call
12/17/2004 - James WhiteIt was simply out of place. When I ran into the "Acts 1-15 was written in Hebrew" paragraph in the second edition of What Love is This? it just seemed strange. And now I'm starting to figure out why.
It is not that Hunt hadn't already demonstrated a very sad willingness to not only pontificate upon topics he does not understand (proclaiming the NWT's horrific rendering of Acts 13:48 the "best" translation when he admits he cannot read a word of Greek anyway) but to utilize the worst forms of argumentation available (scatter-gun arguments that form no coherent whole, ignoring syntax, grammar, or not even understanding the actual point being made in the source he's using) and, when refuted, to refuse to honestly interact with his own error. The fact that his tradition, in his mind, is equated with the Word of God, and that he refuses to see the role tradition plays in his thinking, results in the contorted reasoning and dogged refusal to face facts that marks his crusade against Calvinism, and, sadly, casts a very long shadow across the entirety of his work. But there was just something out of place about this wacky paragraph. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Hunt had never given credence to anything even remotely like the wild-eyed theory inherent in this paragraph. So what happened?
Once I began discussing this paragraph, I was contacted by folks "in the know." Seems Hunt's editor on this new edition of WLIT? is big into some form of Messianic Judaism and, most importantly, thinks the Synoptics and other portions of the New Testament were written in Hebrew originally. Hence the origin of this paragraph. In a sense, it is obvious Hunt is not really responsible for it. He hasn't a clue what is involved in the claims being made, nor how those claims are so utterly incongruous to his entire theological system expressed in the body of his writings over the years. But, at the very same time, the name on the front of the book is "Dave Hunt," and it is sadly indicative of his priorities that finding a way around repeated refutation is more important to him than carefully handling the Word of God. ...
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It Made My Day, and His
12/17/2004 - James WhiteMy daughter headed off to New York again today (yes, though she is a wonderful young lady, she loves New York). After I got her checked in at the airport, we were standing in the terminal waiting for my wife to call, when I saw him. Barely 18 from what I could see, probably younger than my son. Brand spanking new uniform, buck private. To be honest, he looked scared. I think he was shipping out. And he was alone.
Ever since 9/11 I have adopted a particular habit. Whether in a mall, or most often these days for me, in an airport, when I see that uniform, I alter my path, walk right up to the man (or woman, once or twice), look him straight in the eye, extend my hand, give him a firm handshake and say with every bit of sincerity in my body, "Thank you for your service, sir." I've seen weary soldiers coming home rejuvenated. I've seen tears form in eyes that have seen things I will never see. "You have no idea how much that means to me" is a fairly common response.
And so I turned to my daughter and said, "I'll be right back." I walked right up to that very, very young soldier, looked him in the eye, grabbed his hand, and said, "Thank you for your service." The look in his eyes was the best present I got on my birthday, I assure you.
May I invite you to join me in thanking those young men and women when you see them? It costs you nothing but a second or two on your way to sit forever at the gate, and its value to that young person cannot be calculated. So the next time you see one of our servicemen or women at the airport, bus station, or train station, take a second to express your thanks. It will mean the world to them.
Berean Call Does Damage Control
12/17/2004 - James WhiteMore on this later this evening, I hope, but the Berean Call has started to send out an e-mail to those asking for the sources for Hunt's outrageous "redacted Hebrew text prophecied by the Dead Sea Scrolls which just happens, when translated by unnamed scholars, to not teach Calvinism" stuff. As I started looking over the list I immediately recognized its fringe nature, but then someone in channel (johnMark, followed, humorously, about sixty seconds later, by crewbear) found out that in fact the Berean Call was simply hi-jacking, without even providing a link or reference, the list, en toto, from a fringe Yahwist group's website! Here is the website. Scroll to the bottom for the list, which TBC has now sent out to at least two people who have inquired of them for the sources Hunt used. Note as well that there isn't a word here about how one can see this alleged Hebrew text of Acts, and, of course, not a word about the Dead Sea Scrolls. And, all the Eusebius citations are about a Hebrew version of Matthew. The evidence continues to pile up, and unless someone at TBC wakes up and stops the madness and says, "Ok, Ok, we blew it" and retracts this silliness, the damage will continue.
Sorry, Time In Fast Forward Today
12/17/2004 - James WhiteOK, so what am I behind on now...wanted to have an article up on the sources I've discovered that must lie behind the "redacted Hebrew text prophecied by the Dead Sea Scrolls" defense offered by Dave Hunt (turns out the editor on this self-published edition is big into the "Hebrew originals underlying the Synoptics and part of Acts" theory, and that explains where this wild little paragraph came from) by now, but time has gone into hyper-drive of late. Yes, I want to continue the textual critical discussion from back in October, as well, and I need to offer some brotherly dialogue in reference to Eric Svendsen's comments on being a 4.5 pt. Calvinist as well. Also, read today with great sadness about the continued persecution of Christians in Western nations under the guise of secular "tolerance" and "hate-speech laws," with the conviction of two Christian ministers in Australia for having spoken the truth about Islam in their own church! Do not be deceived, folks: secularism is just as inherently religious in nature as any theistic religion; and it is just as dedicated to the destruction of the light as any other false religion. Counting the cost is not far in the future for us all. Have you thanked God today for your freedom of speech? You better, since you may not have that freedom in the not too distant future. Last two "yeah, I know" items: yes, I want to get to the very shallow defense offered by some recently of Richard Mouw's comments in Salt Lake City, and I will try to remember to review the comments Jimmy Akin made on yesterday's edition of Catholic Answers, both with reference to the use of gnostic gospels (which I found interesting), his promotion of Tacelli's attempted response to Svendsen, and then his assertion that I do not "give the benefit of the doubt" to Catholic writers (eh?). No, no details were given, of course. Then he attempted to promote his own self-taught expertise in the biblical languages as well (at my expense). We'll respond on the DL next week.
A Wonderful Birthday Surprise
12/16/2004 - James WhiteMy wonderful, patient, and MUCH younger wife, informed me a few weeks ago that we would be celebrating my birthday a day early. I knew that meant that something was afoot, but I simply haven't had the time to devote to try to figure out what she was up to. I just knew that as soon as the Dividing Line was over we were to head out together. I was worried about something crazy like bungie jumping or the like. Instead, she let me choose where we had dinner, and I pretty quickly got the idea we were headed somewhere where we had to get there by 7pm or so. We finally arrived at the Glendale Arena, a new facility I had never seen before. And we were all the way to the door before I finally saw why we were there: my wonderful wife was taking me to the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Celebration! I had always wanted to see Mannheim Steamroller in concert, especially their Christmas concert. Those who listen to the pre-show during December know I play a lot of their music. Here is a picture, as best as I could take in the dark, of their opening number. I got some great video though on my little camera, with excellent audio quality. It was wonderful! I am so thankful to my lovely wife for surprising me so completely with this wonderful evening!
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#4)
12/16/2004 - James WhiteA brief installment as we continue our response to an Islamic apologetic attack upon the integrity of the canon and transmission of the text of the Bible. Our writers continue to sow seeds of doubt by making reference to canonical discussions at the time of the Reformation. It is very interesting to note how you can misuse a scholarly source by summarizing it inaccurately (something that was done to me just today by a "scholar" as well...more on that later). What you do is pile a few quick statements on top of each other, referenced, of course (unless you are Dave Hunt, anyway), all to create an illusion of overwhelming factual evidence. This is a common form of argumentation, one that is often successful simply because few of us have the time to look up all the references. So, our Islamic writers say, "Zwingli, at the Berne disputation of 1528, denied that Revelation was a book of the New Testament." So, I checked their source, which, thankfully, sits upon my shelf. The actual citation reads,
Likewise, Zwingli's denial of the Biblical character of the Book of Revelation was the result of contemporary controversies growing out of what to his eyes was an eruption of pagan superstitions at Einsiedeln. When he condemned the invocation of angels, he was shown the angel in the Apocalypse causing the prayers of the faithful to ascend to heaven with the smoke of incense (Rev. viii. 3-4). Subsequently at the Berne Disputation (1528), Zwingli declared that the book is not a Biblical book. Thus, as was the case also when Eusebius denigrated the Apocalypse because of the excesses of the early chiliasts who favoured this book, Zwingli allowed a purely ad hoc consideration to sway his judgement concerning the character of a book otherwise widely regarded throughout the West as canonical. (Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, p. 273).
One can see that Metzger is talking about the reasons why Zwingli questioned the book, and, in that context, it is an interesting example. But it hardly provides a meaningful basis to the hoped for conclusion that in reality the canon of the Bible was in a state of wild confusion and flux as late as the Reformation. Neither Luther's inability to see the harmonious nature of James or Hebrews as to their testimony to justification, nor Zwingli's dislike of the eruption of strange beliefs at Einsiedeln (similar to Luther's dislike of the Zwickau prophets) could possibly overthrow God's purpose in the establishment of the canon for the edification of the church. This is why I included a rather full discussion of the theological nature of the canon in Scripture Alone (chapter 5). I would recommend it to the reading of all interested in this particular subject.
Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible
12/15/2004 - James WhiteI've been experiencing techno-envy for quite some time while awaiting the release of the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible from Logos. I had mentioned to Hermeneutika years ago that they should seek to add the textual data to BibleWorks, but it seems Logos beat them to the punch. In any case, the textual data alone is worth the investment for those who are interested in that field of study. They are currently back-ordered, but Lord willing by January that new resource will arrive. I might even find the time to get back to the textual critical discussion we started a few weeks ago (see, I didn't forget: just a lot of irons in the fire at the moment). Wow, think of it...BibleWorks 6.0 (actually 6.0.011p at the moment!) and the SESB from Logos running concurrently. I'm in biblical-geek heaven...!
Now this is fascinating...
Google is looking to digitize millions of books (here's the article). When I saw this I could not help but think of the Bill Gates type character in "I, Robot" who commented to Will Smith (Detective Spooner) "You probably opposed the Internet just to save libraries."
BTW: in the "barely worth noting" category...
Yes, I know a certain left-leaning Presbyterian scholar is running about calling me a hyper Calvinist and even putting in writing his inability to either read or listen fairly to a word I say. But since all those who have seen his most recent blasts have immediately recognized their incoherence and their dishonesty, the collected wisdom of godly men with whom I have discussed it has been to let the man continue to condemn himself by his transparently hostile actions and his equally transparent "crusader" mentality. The facts can be discerned by reading Debating Calvinism, p. 378, this paragraph, listening to the last two Dividing Lines, and reading this article.
Woops, Senior Moment
12/13/2004 - James WhiteI was downloading some Adrian Rogers audio, listening likewise to some Herb Reavis audio, when all of a sudden it hit me: I had started reviewing the presentation of Paige Patterson at New Orleans Baptist Seminary from earlier this year, and had dropped it after I started it. Why? Simple: I forgot. I think it was right before the big "push" in October and November, and I simply forgot to continue it. Picked up this Kelly Powers stuff. I think Patterson is a definitely more interesting person to listen to, so I will try to find out how far we got way back when and get back to that response on the DL tomorrow. So many Arminians, so little time! :-)
From Sunday Morning's Scripture Reading Before Bible Study:
The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. (Ecc. 9:17)
Follow Up From Below
12/13/2004 - James WhiteOK, some of you are going, "Wow, cut Dave a break. You are harder on him than the Muslims." Yes, I am. See, I hold a Christian apologist, who is invited into the pulpits of churches all across the world, to a completely different standard than I do a Muslim apologist. I expect a Muslim apologist to be...a Muslim! I expect him to act in accordance with his worldview. But I have listened to Dave Hunt "go after" all sorts of folks for minor infractions of his dispensationalist theology without the slightest meaningful basis for doing so (outside of simply not following his own traditions) many times over the years. And yet here we have him undermining the very foundations of the Scriptures and for what reason? The fact is you could place Acts 13:48 along with John 3:16 and Romans 9:16 and a few other verses in Greek in front of Dave Hunt and he would not, by his own confession, be able to tell them apart, let alone find a periphrastic construction with an imperfect form of eivmi, and the perfect passive participle of ta,ssw. Dave Hunt ignored the advice of many of his peers and committed himself to the path he now doggedly pursues to the detriment of everything he's ever taught on the reliability and inspiration of the Scriptures, and for what reason? All I can see is a man unwilling to admit his errors, desperate to find any way at all to get around passages that, when accurately exegeted, teach contrary to his highest authority: his traditions. And isn't it odd...most in the apologetics community have recognized the propriety of exposing Richard Mouw's flawed and very one-sided understanding of Mormonism, but if Dave Hunt says the NWT's rendering of Acts 13:48 is "the best" over against all the committee-translated English versions, then drops that without a word of apology, and replaces that gross error with an even bigger one, one that requires us to follow unnamed scholars from unnamed and unreferenced sources in "redacting" the text of Acts back to a mythical Hebrew original that, when translated by these same unnamed scholars just happens to be quite different than the Greek of the canonical gospel of Acts---well, let's cut the guy a break since 1) he's done so much good stuff, and 2) this is just a book about Calvinism anyway!
Quick Addition: I was just forwarded the URL for the "translation" Hunt added to his Acts 13:48 section as well, the "Nazarene Translation 2000." Here it is. Once again one is left either fuming, or chuckling, at Hunt's work. This is actually the "21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures" not the "Nazarene Translation 2000." In fact, the proper name is the Nazarene Commentary 2000, a far cry from translation. And the level of scholarship is clearly indicated by clicking on the footnote attached to its odd translation. It reads, "Disposed: Or, ordained, predestined, marked out, appointed, destined. The Greek is TETAGMENOI [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #5021, arrange in an orderly manner, assign, dispose to a certain position]. It is not the individuals who are so disposed but the type of Life the Church will receive." Ah, Strong's. There we go. Any recognition of the periphrastic construction? Nope, of course not. [Insert "sigh" here]. Redacted mythical Hebrew texts prophecied by the Dead Sea Scrolls and the transformation of a Nazarene Commentary based upon Strong's into a translation. There ya go, folks. Gail Riplinger has moved to Oregon.
What An Edit Job is This? Amazing Statements
12/12/2004 - James WhiteThere are no footnotes attached. No names given. But a paragraph has been added into the middle of Dave Hunt's desperate attempt to escape Acts 13:48 that, when you consider what it says, is one of the most amazing examples of "destroy the foundations of your entire life's work just because you detest the freedom of God that is proclaimed in 'Calvinism'" I've ever seen. When I read it I had to sit back and catch my breath. Yes, the following paragraph appears in the second edition of WLIT?
The Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a translation. Some scholars claim that going back to a "redacted Hebrew" version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts 13:48 more like "as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved." Furthermore, even if "ordained" were the correct meaning, these Greeks still would have had to believe the gospel and accept Christ by an act of their own faith and will, as all of Scripture testifies (p. 264)
Now, I would like to ask anyone who has a means of contacting Dave Hunt to ask him to please, please document his claims here. The DSS, at least as scholars define them, were written before Acts: hence, they would have to discuss the authorship of Acts prophetically to be relevant. So, where do the DSS address the authorship of Acts? Secondly, what early church writers? How about a reference, a footnote perhaps? I am not going to respond to this paragraph as yet, but I have already invested a few hours collecting data, and am working on more. But it is beyond amazing that unnamed "scholars" could produce a "redacted Hebrew" version that gives, amazingly enough, a rendering consistent with Dave Hunt's traditions! Who are these scholars? What is their rendering in Hebrew? Has anyone seen this original Hebrew? And does it follow that we can do this with all of Acts 1-15, too, since the canonical Acts in Greek is obviously not the inspired version? What is the difference between Hunt's "redacted Hebrew" and Rome's "Aramaic original" of Matthew 16:18? Since when did Dave Hunt embrace redaction criticism? And finally, every Calvinist on the planet believes these Greeks believed with their wills and accepted Christ, which only goes to show you that Dave Hunt continues in willful ignorance of even the system he seeks to undermine.
Consider well how far Dave Hunt and The Berean Call has been willing to go here. The very perspecuity and clarity of the Word of God itself is sacrificed upon the altar of his wild-eyed fanatical attack upon the sovereignty of God's grace in salvation. He stands firmly with Rome in his view of grace and man's will, and firmly against the Reformation on the topic, and evidently, there is no price too high to pay to pursue the "cause" of "anti-Calvinism," even that of turning the Dead Sea Scrolls into prophetic devices that address the authorship of Acts. This kind of unsubstantiated rhetoric is simply reprehensible, and I call upon all who have contact with Mr. Hunt to 1) demand a full accounting of these claims, or 2) demand a full retraction of such claims with acknowledgement and appropriate apology. I would encourage those who are concerned about such wild claims and how they undermine the integrity of the Bible to consult Hunt's website for his schedule and, if possible, ask him, point blank, in the audience Q&A sessions or after speaking engagements, to back up his claims with documentation. What find in the Dead Sea Scrolls supports his contention? Which early Church fathers said the first fifteen chapters of Acts were written in Hebrew? Where can we see this Hebrew version? Has any manuscript supporting such a version ever been found? Who are these "scholars" who have provided this alleged word-for-word rendering? Why are they not cited? Does not his assertion mean the Greek of Acts 1-15 is errant and hence uninspired? These are the questions Hunt must now answer. As far as I can see, the next public speaking engagement (having missed two presentations in Calvary Chapels just today) is at the Berean Calvary Chapel in Kirkville, NY, Pastor Frank Thomas, 1/16/2005. I hope Pastor Thomas will ask Hunt about his utilization of never-before-seen Hebrew "redactions" of the book of Acts. Surely, someone needs to hold Hunt accountable for this kind of irresponsible writing.
More Changes in Mormonism
12/12/2004 - James WhiteIt would not have even been a question thirty years ago. Grant Palmer's book, in which he in essence admits what non-LDS historians have been saying for a very long time (how Smith "revised" Scripture to his own ends, for example, and how the Book of Mormon is not an ancient record), would have resulted in instant excommunication only a few decades ago. But when Palmer faced a hearing today, he was instead disfellowshipped, a lesser ecclesiastical action. A person who is disfellowshipped rather than excommunicated still has church membership, but cannot serve a church calling or be temple worthy. The message? It seems mixed, but it is surely indicative of the changes taking place as a religion much more at home in the inter-mountain West of the United States struggles to define itself in the face of the aftermath of its rapid growth in the 80s and 90s.
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#3)
12/12/2004 - James WhiteContinuing our response to Saifullah & Azmy, we note the next statement:
- Even during the Reformation, the Canon of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, was called into question.
If by this statement we are meant to understand that there was a dispute over the Apocryphal books at the time of the Reformation, just has there had been in the days of Augustine and Jerome 1,100 years earlier, that is a given. If it is simply meant to recognize that the Council of Trent reacted against the Reformation by going against the best scholarship of even the Roman communion by elevating the apocryphal books to a position they did not hold with the people of God to whom they had been committed, let alone in the views of those early Christians who had the most knowledge of the Old Testament and its canon, again, this is hardly new. It surely would not follow that Rome's action, however, impacts the existence, let alone the function, of the Bible as a whole (her aim was to add to, not take away from), and most especially of the New Testament. Yet, when we look at the rest of the paragraph, we read,
- No one had defined the limits of the Bible until the (Catholic) Council of Trent, 1546.
Such an assertion is false on its face, of course. One only need to read Athanasius' 39th Festal Letter, or consider Melito's inquiry into Palestine at the end of the second century, to know otherwise. If our authors are trying to say that Rome had not dogmatically (and hence, in the modern viewpoint infallibly) defined her canon, that is quite true. But once again, there is a vast difference between an infallible declaration on Rome's part and the clearly functioning, well known canon of the Scriptures that had been in place more than a millennia. The intention of the writers is clear in the concluding line of this paragraph:
- So, even 900 years after the advent of Islam, the Christians were bickering about which books should go into the canon and even more so the Protestants.
This kind of rhetoric may be impressive to those already following the Islamic line, but to anyone familiar with the issue of the canon of the Bible, it is a clear indication that the authors' prejudice is going to greatly influence their choice of data, their use of history and scholarship, and their final conclusions, all to the detriment of truth. Remember the opening comments that were offered: Islam doesn't have to worry about canon issues simply because the Qur'ân is a document created by a powerful, centralized religious structure, one that has a very long history of suppressing dissension and deciding difficult issues by force, not by usage over time. The very same considerations that remove the Qur'ân from such areas of dispute likewise keep us from being able to trace the text itself to its originator, and likewise force us to simply accept, de fide, the conclusions of that religious authority.
A Bit More on the M500
12/11/2004 - James WhiteM500 owners are a strange lot. One of our favorite things to do is to compare the S&W 50 Mag cartridge to...well, anything, actually. Here's why. On the left in the picture is the tried and true .22 LR (yes, first real round I ever fired, too). Next to it the ever popular 9mm, veteran of many a police side-arm. Then we have the mighty 44 Magnum of Dirty Harry fame. The .22 has a 40 gr. bullet. The 9mm a 110 gr. bullet. The 44 Mag has a 240 gr. bullet. And then, standing tall over them all, the S&W .50 Magnum. 440 gr. slug. And velocity? The 44 Mag sends its slug out around 1180 fps for a ft-lbs. energy of 741. But the 50 Mag pushes its much heavier round at over 1600 fps for an awesome 2600 ft-lbs. of energy (more than 3x the punch of the 44!). Just think of this: a .30-06 hunting rifle produces only 4% more power at the muzzle! Even Popular Mechanics did an article on the M500, available here.
What An Edit Job Is This? Part V
12/11/2004 - James WhiteI have already documented the problems with the first attempt Dave Hunt made to remove the testimony of Acts 13:48 in my open letter to him. Here's the specific section of that work. It should be noted I replied to each of the points Hunt offered in the original edition of WLIT? And though Hunt failed to even attempt to respond to the refutation of his materials, he surely dropped his "best" translation suggestion like a hot potato when he learned the Jehovah's Witnesses had beaten him to that "best" translation. This can be seen in his attempts to respond to Acts 13:48 in Debating Calvinism. Ironically, Hunt presents the same information in slightly different forms twice in the book, first on pages 103-104, then again on pages 369-370. He has dropped the "best translation" of the NWT (why? What made it not the best any longer? Hunt refuses to say). Likewise, no reference is made to the Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon, nor is any explanation ever offered by Hunt in response to these facts. They are simply passed over in silence. However, the same error of usage is repeated: "Yet none of the seven other usages of tasso in the New Testament connotates a divine decree from eternity past. Had that been what Luke meant, he would have used prooridzo (predestinated)" (p. 103). Despite being corrected here, Hunt doggedly perseveres in his error. Only one of the other seven usages is parallel in form at all to Acts 13:48 (Romans 13:1, where God establishes or ordains authorities), and even then it differs in one important aspect (present form of eimi vs. the imperfect, impacting the tense meaning of the periphrastic). Quite simply, noting that tasso has a semantic range of meaning, but only in Acts 13:48 is it used in such a fashion as to refer to the reality of God's eternal decree, is a linguistic and logical non sequitur. When John uses the imperfect of eimi to refer to Christ's timeless existence before the beginning in John 1:1, does that have to be the predominate usage of the imperfect of eimi for it to be true in that unique context? The application of Hunt's made up rules of interpretation based upon his self profession, "I do not read Greek. It might as well be Chinese" would turn the text of the New Testament to mush.
Secondly, how Hunt can opine, with a straight face, to know what Luke would have written in Greek had he meant God ordained men to eternal life is simply beyond the bounds of what can be taken seriously. Dave Hunt has no earthly idea what Luke's usage of the language would be, nor his reasons for choosing the terms he did. For someone who had already been shown to have adopted (we assume in ignorance) the translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses while missing the appearance of a definition in a Greek lexicon he was ostensibly citing (who then drops those claims without apology or retraction) while at the same time offering this kind of insight into what terms Luke would have used is quite simply insulting to the reader. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
OK, this isn't for everyone…
12/10/2004 - James WhiteI know I risk offending (without cause) the far left here, but yours truly is a Life Member of the NRA, believes the 2nd Amendment is perfectly in line with God's command for men to protect their wives and children from those who would prey upon them, and enjoys that (very, very rare) opportunity to get out of the city and "subdue the earth" in company with family and friends. I do not have time to be competitive, but I've been shooting for enough years to know what I'm doing. Today my son Josh and I went out and set up a pistol combat scenario with three targets at combat range. It's a way to practice quick acquisition of a second target after firing at the first, etc.; a way to increase one's skill and improve one's concentration. Anyway, I was using my Glock .45 ACP, and Josh his Glock 9mm. I had brought along the gun my wife calls "Roger Rabbit," since it is so massively huge, my S&W M500, and thought I'd try it in the same scenario. The M500 is the most powerful production handgun on the earth, and it was surely not designed for quick target acquisition in a 7 to 12 yard scenario. However, this gun can drive tacks, it is so incredibly accurate (it is firing a 440 gr. slug at almost twice the velocity of a .44 Magnum), and for some reason, I just don't miss with it (ask the heretical watermelons I dispatched the first day out). So I was properly pleased when not once, but twice in a row, I completed the combat scenario with one-shot "kills" on each target. Here's a shot of the 12 yard target. Too bad this beast is about as carryable as a suitcase.
Kelly Powers has commented on my using his eisegetical comments on John 6:37ff and complained I didn't link to him. Here are his comments. You will find him to be a younger version of Dave Hunt. Nothing exegetical here, so we continue searching for that, but I wanted to mention this in passing....I'll try to remember to comment some on Tuesday, but I just want to reiterate what I said on the DL: I replied because someone came into channel, dropped the URL, and left. Powers specifically mentions me and my position on John 6, and hence, it is a useful way to examine the common errors made in the argumentation of anti-Reformed rhetoric. Powers accuses me of only playing "clips" of him, but, oddly, if he would listen to the program, he would know that I have so far played him in totality. How do you misrepresent someone when you play their entire comments? He says he will debate, but only in PalTalk. I'll let the listener and reader decide.
For Those Thinking About Alaska '05
12/09/2004 - James WhiteI don't know how we will be able to top our Alaska trip this summer. The itinerary is simply out of this world. Last year I had the chance to visit Glacier Bay while writing Scripture Alone. It is, quite simply, the most beautiful place I've ever seen. Here is a teaser. I took this from the front of the ship as we glided into the bay.
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#2)
12/09/2004 - James WhiteOur Muslim authors begin their article by asking, "Is the Bible in our hands the same as during the time of Prophet Muhammad?" Immediately one must ask a number of questions: the same as that possessed by whom and where? That is, while it is very clear from the voluminous patristic sources (the writings of the early Christians) that the entirety of the biblical text as we know it today was well known long before the rise of Islam, and functional in the theological writings of the period, it does not follow that every manuscript of the day will reflect that reality. That is, given all of the factors involved in the production of biblical manuscripts, the idea of having an entire codex containing the entirety of the biblical text, or even of the NT canon, would be impractical for the vast majority of situations. Handwritten documents are vastly different than our modern printed texts. The majority of texts we have from that early period provide us with smaller collections, such as the Pauline corpus, for example, or Jude and Peter's epistles. Not only would a smaller corpus be more easily produced, but one must also remember that discovery of historical documents rarely reveals to us what any person, group, or church possessed en toto. Another element to keep in mind is that when major codices were produced (such as Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and later manuscripts) great cost was invested (the vellum alone would be quite costly, let alone the time to copy and produce it), and therefore devotional works would sometimes be included in the project (easier to do it all at once). Some have errantly assumed that the presence of such works implied, of necessity, the idea that the producers of the codex viewed the works as canonical.
Our authors continue, "Now if we apply the standards used for authenticating the integrity of the Qur'an and the hadith, such as the isnad (i.e., the chain of narration), to the Bible, the Christian missionary would be hard-pressed to present a decent isnad of his Bible going back to Muhammad leave alone Jesus." Such a claim "stacks the deck" so to speak by, seemingly, ignoring the vast majority of textual evidence (are the authors suggesting that an incomplete manuscript from the third century is not sufficient evidence of the texts contained therein?) as well as the witness of the patristic sources. There is a tremendous amount of data relating to the New Testament documents that long pre-dates the rise of Islam. Only by redefining what kind of historical information can be used to establish the text can the Muslim make such a claim.
From this point our authors transition into the first of their attacks upon the Christian Scriptures, that of the canon. We will respond in our next installment.
What An Edit Job is This? Part IV
12/08/2004 - James WhiteOne of the passages that has received a rather wide range of treatment from Mr. Hunt in his anti-Calvinistic crusade is Acts 13:48. The reason is clear to see. A quick review of the leading committee-led translations of the Bible in the English language presents a striking consistency in rendering this verse's last clause:
|KJV||and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.|
|ASV||and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.|
|ESV||and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.|
|NASB||and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.|
|NET||and all who had been appointed for eternal life believed.|
|NIV||and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.|
|NKJV||And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.|
|NLT||and all who were appointed to eternal life became believers.|
|NRSV||and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers.|
|HCSB||And all who had been appointed to eternal life believed|
There is a reason for the consistency of these translations, a reason that is simply beyond Dave Hunt's ability to address. And this raises one of the major reasons we have replied to Mr. Hunt: when challenged on issues of translation, grammar, and the like, he cries out that we are elitists, and that the gospel is simple enough to be understood by non-specialists. But if that is true, why does he make reference to the Greek term ta,ssw (tassw) here, and pretend to tell us what it means, or how it can be used? One cannot have one's cake and eat it to, as the saying goes. So if Mr. Hunt is going to engage the subject, then should he not be held accountable for making errors in relationship to it? I believe so.
Hunt has done all he can to avoid the meaning of this text by seeking to inculcate in the minds of his readers a distrust of the passages clarity. He has done so by 1) showing his ignorance of the Greek language; 2) ransacking commentaries to find anyone who would like him seek to avoid the meaning of the text (there are plenty of those folks), and 3) using the oldest cult trick in the book, the "find a translation done by a single person that is so utterly obscure no one will ever track it down" means of avoiding the text. Then realize how often Hunt has had to re-work his attempted response to Acts 13:48, and you get a good idea of just how strong this passage is in refuting the synergistic viewpoint Hunt promotes.
In our next installment in this series we will review Acts 13:48: Battle Plan #1 from Dave Hunt and then compare that with his "revisions" over time.
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission: A Rebuttal
12/08/2004 - James WhiteOur good brother Sam Shamoun over at answering-islam.org sent me a link to a new article, updated on 12/7/2004, at www.islamic-awareness.org, written by M S M Saifullah & Hesham Azmy. As with the mass of Islamic apologetic material being produced today, the article seeks to undermine the authority and accuracy of the Bible while assuming the perfection of the Qur'ân. The thesis is that the Bible we have today is not what existed at the time of Mohammed, hence, the foundation upon which the Christian stands in seeking to proclaim Christ to Muslims is not sound.
As the article is rather lengthy (16 pages printed), I will respond to it over time. Few people these days have the time to sit down and read the main article, and then an equally (and probably longer) response. But posting shorter pieces may actually help communicate a proper response to a wider audience. Also, thanks to the new blog software, the entirety of the material can be easily obtained by displaying by topic (Islam). ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
And Like the Shadow, Angelz Slips Into View....
12/07/2004 - James WhiteWhenever I see Angelz appear in channel, I know something is headed my way. It has been a while since my Puerto Rican brother has been able to find the time to draw for us. I got to meet Angel over the Reformation weekend up in Peoria, Illinois (he bought me a Quarter Pounder!). What I love about Angel is that his drawings capture the essence of a debate, or of a situation such as the current one in reviewing Dave Hunt's book. I guess he read over the recent blogs on Dave Hunt, and...well....here it is. Click here for a larger version.
Jason Engwer Replies to More Anti-Christian Press
12/07/2004 - James WhiteJason Engwer is one of the brightest young apologists on the scene, and he has written a fine response pointing out the glaring bias and inconsistencies of another of the media's regular "It's Christmas: let's blast orthodox Christian belief" articles, this time in Newsweek. I will be reviewing the article some on the DL in a matter of minutes myself. Here is Jason's review at the NTRMin site. Educate yourself before your annoying Uncle Tim nails you over Christmas dinner.
Add This Note to the Hunt Discussion
12/07/2004 - Rich PierceI forgot to mention something very important earlier when documenting the disappearance of 1 John 5:1 from the new edition of What Love is This? I passed by, improperly, the response that Hunt had initially offered. I recall a meeting in which Hunt claimed he had "replied" to my documentation of his error on 1 John 5:1. But a quick review of Debating Calvinism reveals what Dave thinks can qualify as a response. And since this will come up again when we look at his third attempt at trying to get around Acts 13:48, I wanted to mention it. First, Hunt tells us that "the verse could be taken either way" (p. 114). Later he says "I won't object. The verse can be taken both ways....Nor do I need this verse, for there are many others that declare in language that cannot be reversed that faith precedes regeneration" (p. 211). Hunt says it can be taken "both ways," but, he does not even try to substantiate this claim. If the grammatical and syntactical information provided is true, then it cannot be taken "either way." If Hunt wishes to be taken seriously, he has to realize that you have to provide a counter-argument to substantiate such a claim, yet, he does not even try to do so. Note that Hunt does not mind attempting to make it look as if such passages are confusing or difficult to interpret (while all of his "dozens" or even "hundreds" of passages are, of course, so clear that he does not even have to bother with exegeting them!) all in the service of his human tradition! So his first argument it, "verse X which Calvinists use is confusing and capable of a different meaning."
Argument number two is always the same. "This verse cannot mean what the Calvinist says because of this long list of verses over here...that I will not bother to exegete, but I'll just list them anyway." This argument is so repetitive in Hunt's writings that it appears on almost every page. It came up in our radio discussion last week. While Hunt was often citing other sources, my presentations were almost all completely focused upon exegeting the key passages. In his response, Hunt claimed he "cited Scripture" far more often than I did. Well, if you think that providing lists of Bible references is the same as offering exegesis of the text, I guess that's true. Later Hunt made the claim that I have a limited number of verses that I just repeat over and over again. Yet, when you offer exegesis and get such in-depth responses as, "Oh, well, I don't need that verse anyway, I've got all these over here," you can see why you have to keep going back over basic issues. If Hunt would even make an attempt to engage the text, we might be able to get somewhere, but that's the one thing he avoids at all costs (including the cost involved with clearly, obviously avoiding the public debate challenge that he knows I have offered to him repeatedly). Now, of course, as I pointed out in DC, every time I invested some of my limited words to inspect some of his "lists" of verses, I demonstrated that his long lists of verses carry no weight. But all that resulted in was a new list of verses. Outside of live interaction in debate, you can keep dodging the issue that way forever.
Overheard in ProsApologian
12/07/2004 - Rich PierceOur chat channel, #prosapologian, is the busiest channel in the Starlink-IRC network. You've heard a lot about it on The Dividing Line. I thought I'd share some comments that go scrolling by the screen with those of you who are not channel rats. This morning, for example...
- [08:07] [DrOakley] I think as postmodernism and its gaggle of children spread ever farther across the evangelical landscape we will often have to ask ourselves, "What would these folks think of Paul or John?" And if they think the same of us, then we are doing OK. :-)
We had been discussing some comments made by Tony Campolo regarding the Emergent Church movement. But, we had also been discussing the cruise, getting a date for the Fluffy One, and that outrageously hilarious European commercial for Ford that cat lovers hate. Just a normal morning in #prosapologian.
What An Edit Job is This? Part III
12/06/2004 - Rich PierceI have often spoken of Dave Hunt's utter entrapment in the hold of tradition. "Blinded By Tradition" is a phrase that has appeared numerous times over the past couple of years. For Dave, his tradition = the Word of God, and hence it cannot be questioned. And the lenses are so thick that Hunt honestly sees on a page of text only what he wants to see, hears only what he wants to hear.
Hunt's recent crusade against Reformed theology bears this out repeatedly. A new example has been provided by Hunt in reference to his attempt to give the most distorted, unfair, evil presentation of John Calvin he can. In Debating Calvinism Hunt had attempted to mis-identify Augustine as a "Roman Catholic" (a term that would have made no sense to him at all) by giving a grossly shallow, inaccurate representation of his view of authority. Those who encounter Roman Catholic apologists and engage them with regularity are very accustomed to seeing Augustine's words against the Manichaens ripped from their context and forced to say something that, in light of Augustine's full orbed teaching, they should never be forced to say. So it is truly sad to see Hunt giving "aid and comfort to the enemy" in his crusade to turn Augustine into a Roman Catholic. On page 244 I wrote,
- What is worse is the use of a citation from Augustine that even Calvin refuted, but that is constantly used in Roman Catholic apologetic works to this day. Hunt writes:
Augustine was one of the first to place the authority of tradition on a level with the Bible. Embracing apostolic succession from Peter as one of the marks of the true church, he declared, "I should not believe the gospel unless I were moved to do so by the authority of the Catholic Church..."
Calvin refuted just this very passage in the Institutes [footnote: Institutes I:VII:3] and any fair reading of Augustine's own writings refutes this misrepresentation by Hunt. [Footnote: For a scholarly discussion of how Calvin refuted this misue of Augustine, see David T. King, Holy Scripture, I:80-81, and Heiko Oberman, "Quo Vadis? Tradition from Irenaeus to Humani Generis," Scottish Journal of Theology, 16 (1963): 234-35)] Anyone familiar with the real Augustine realizes Hunt has created a caricature that has little resemblance to the historical reality.
Notice I provided two scholarly sources and a direct reference to Calvin's own discussion of the passage. For those who do not have quick access to Calvin, here are his words: ...
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What An Edit Job Is This? Part Deux
12/06/2004 - Rich PierceOne of the first errors many noted in Hunt's work was his utter misrepresentation of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Since the books original appearance numerous writers, myself included, have pointed out Hunt's error, but he has remained doggedly unwilling to admit what is so obvious to any unbiased observer. In my original open letter to him I wrote:
- A Glowing Example: Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the Atonement
On page 19 of your book, Dave, you make the assertion that Charles Spurgeon "unequivocally" denied particular redemption (limited atonement). Every single Calvinist who has done any meaningful reading in Spurgeon will be forced to immediately dismiss you as a very poor researcher on the basis of this statement. Here I provide the quote as you gave it, placing the materials you did not include in bold (I thank Tom Ascol for first noting this and rushing me the context). Folks who wonder if you are being fair to Augustine or Calvin should note your willingness to be completely and utterly inaccurate in your representation of someone as recent as Spurgeon:
I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ's finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker's law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work.
Anyone familiar with Spurgeon knows what he means by "the intent of the Divine purpose" here (he means what all us Calvinists mean: it was God's intention to save the elect in the atonement). But the rest of the section you quoted from makes it crystal clear:
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Overheard in Moscow, Idaho...
12/06/2004 - Rich PierceSometime last week I noted the odd, rather disconnected criticism offered by Peter Leithart of my book, The God Who Justifies. At the same time I noted that the criticism comes out of the blue; it makes no attempt to establish a context, etc. As such, I simply said, "We will see what develops." I had started to write a response, but wanted to wait to see if anything else developed (I do try, once in a while, to resist the "rush, rush, rush" mind-set that is prompted by our ever faster computers and ever faster phones and ever faster lifestyle: it took me a long time to write the book: I can wait a while to respond to a singularly bland and less than compelling criticism of the work). Well, I guess I didn't bow properly toward Moscow, Idaho or something. Anymore, you don't really have to do anything to set TGE off (which is more than a little troubling). In the midst of a truly rambling and overly long post, I encountered this:
- Yet in the course of only a few weeks a number of attacks on those Outside the
I guess if you say, "Does anyone really know what Leithart is saying" you are offering a "blunt insult" and you are, of course, "intellectually-fringe" (and do I detect some accusation of hyper-Calvinism as well?) I don't know, but I really don't get the feeling anything I would say in response to anything Leithart would say would get an overly fair review at Societas Christiana. :-) Hey TGE, maybe you should keep the promises you have made repeatedly and remove yourself from a realm that obviously causes you no end of discomfort? It's the Christmas season! Go sing the Messiah! Throw a snowball for me (no snowballs in Phoenix)! Make a snowman and name him something in Latin. Ask Doug Wilson how you can be so Calvinistic your molars hurt. Something! Just try to drop your blood pressure a bit, will ya?
What An Edit Job is This?
12/06/2004 - James WhiteThis past weekend I was again at the Covenant of Grace Church in St. Charles, Missouri (I give all that info so that if any of Dave Hunt's folks want to get the tapes, they can order them!). Friday night and all day Saturday I spoke on the topic of Debating Calvinism. I used the recording of the Chuck Crismier show from 12/1 as my outline (see the link below). I played it, and then stopped it and commented on aspects of what was said by Mr. Hunt, but also by Mr. Crismier. The folks seemed to enjoy the format.
During the presentation I mentioned something about Hunt's book with Loyal Publishing, What Love is This? In case you haven't kept up with things, Loyal was purchased by Multnomah, and Multnomah did not re-print What Love is This? Hunt indicated they were looking for a secular publisher to print the book so that they could not be "intimidated by Calvinists." Well, now the Berean Call itself is putting out a new, second edition of What Love is This? I had not yet seen the new edition, and thankfully, one of those in attendance had a copy with him that he gave to me (I traded him a copy of Scripture Alone and Letters to a Mormon Elder for it!). As portions of the radio discussion would play, I thumbed through the new edition, checking particular passages that I had criticized, areas where I had documented direct and clear error on Hunt's part. One of the first was in reference to 1 John 5:1. On page 315 of the original edition (please note that the new edition has been nicely re-typeset, is much more readable, is in hardback, and has one of the nicest slip covers I've ever seen: kudos to whoever did the design work: too bad it is used on such material, to be honest) Hunt provided the following:
That this dogma is not produced by biblical exegesis but is necessitated by the other points in TULIP is clear. Nowhere does the Bible state that regeneration (i.e.,the new birth,being born again, given eternal life, salvation) precedes faith, but there are scores of scriptures that tell us that faith comes first:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved....(Mark 16:16)
To them gave he power to become [through the new birth ] the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12)
He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.(John 6:47)
...he that believeth in me,though he were dead,yet shall he live....(John 11:25)
…that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,and thou shalt be saved....(Acts 16:31)
...and many of the Corinthians hearing believed,and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)
...the gospel of Christ...is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth....(Romans 1:16)
That if thou shalt...believe in thine heart...thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
It pleased God...to save them that believe.(1 Corinthians 1:21)
...them that believe to the saving of the soul.(Hebrews 10:39)
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is [as a result of believing] born of God....(1 John 5:1)
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Yes, A Real Blog!
12/06/2004 - James WhiteFor those of you who are net savvy, or have a real browser like FireFox, you will note that we now have a real blog, RSS compliant and all that stuff. Most of you will not really see any difference, but it will be a lot easier on me (especially when I travel) to keep current. No, Dave, I'm not asking my folks to set up a comments forum. There are more than enough web boards out there for those who like to argue to the wee small hours of the morning. Many thanks to SN, who allowed EN to set this whole thing up. Plaid rules. Don't ask, it's an inside joke. :-)
If I Misrepresented Dr. Seifrid, then....
12/03/2004 - James WhiteWhy do we find the following?
Mark A. Seifrid, Christ, Our Righteousness (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000). Contrary to the title, Seifrid denies the traditional Protestant doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ in justification. (Fred Malone in the Reformed Baptist Theological Review I:1, 109).
Seifrid will disappoint the confessional Protestant in at least two of his positions: (1) that faith is not exclusively receptive in the act of justification, and (2) his doubts concerning the adequacy of the language of imputation in regards to justification. (Guy Waters, Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul: A Review and Response [P&R, 2004], p. 234.
Yeah, that apologist guy doesn't get it, but Guy Waters studied under E.P. Sanders and is a Duke Ph.D., so how did they come to the same conclusions? The irony is, the book's first recommendation on the back is from the President of Southern Seminary. Please, don't ask, I really, really don't understand either. For those who have forgotten, here's the material.
When A Society Loses All Biblical Grounding
12/02/2004 - James WhiteWhen men no longer acknowledge their created status, the result is this. The imago Dei is more than a theological phrase. It impacts life.
TexPresby's Citation of Archibald Alexander is well worth a read.
Here are the Links to the Program with Dave Hunt
12/02/2004 - James WhiteStream the program | Save to disk (click on "save")
EMNR Makes Statement About Mouw Controversy
12/02/2004 - James WhiteOne of the larger "counter-cult" organizations has put out a statement responding to Mouw. I had a hard time following it at a few points, but it is much like my own replies, posted below. It has a useful citation from Millet affirming the very concept Mouw has identified as not being a part of LDS doctrine! Mouw has surely been shown to have completely abandoned any semblance of meaningful scholarship in his study of LDS theology, that is for certain. Meanwhile, Paul Owen attempted to defend his own role in the controversy (he was defending the idea of seeing BYU profs as the new leaders of Mormonism before Mouw ever got involved) over at Reformed Catholicism.com (here's the link). I hear Owen has started to tell folks I'm a hyper-Calvinist, too, for some strange reason. Yeah, us hypers, we are always out at the Easter Pageant of the LDS Church witnessing to folks, a common element of hyper-Calvinism. Maybe that's why I've never seen Owen doing that kind of outreach? :-) He continues to spin ever farther out into the outer reaches.
Well, Alrighty Then
12/01/2004 - James WhiteThat was interesting! Second time I've been on a national radio broadcast where the host spent more time debating me than my opponent did. :-) The host was more Arminian than Dave Hunt was, actually, so the lead ins and the questions presented were rather, uh, less than fair to the Reformed side. But that's OK, I appreciated the fact that the host, an attorney, at least recognized the need to have real conversation, and I can only hope for more of that. I challenged Hunt to a live debate once again, and he remains unwilling to do it, and even said I was lying to say he had ever agreed. I guess he doesn't remember standing at his table at the PFO Conference in St. Louis and talking to me about it. I, however, do. :-) I'll post the link here when the archive is up so those of you who missed it can catch it. I may play some clips on the DL tomorrow.
Don't Forget the Viewpoint Show Today on the Subject of Debating Calvinism with Dave Hunt
12/01/2004 - James WhiteThe program is live streamed, so listen in here.
Headed to St. Louis Friday!
12/01/2004 - James WhiteVan Lees and the fine folks at Covenant of Grace Church are having me in for a three day seminar. Friday night and Saturday I will be dealing with Debating Calvinism and Dave Hunt's attacks upon the Reformed faith and why evangelicals, and especially folks from the Calvary Chapel side of things, seem to embrace his less-than-accurate representations. On Sunday morning I will be speaking in the morning service on the Synoptic issue and how we need to allow the gospels to speak in harmony rather than in dissonance. This will be my third time to Covenant of Grace Church, and I can truly say Van Lees and his folks have come to have a special place in my heart, and I always feel "at home" while I'm there.