Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Great Debate X
05/28/2005 - James WhiteIn a little over two weeks I will be debating Roman Catholic apologist Bill Rutland on the question raised by the following two sections of the Catholic Catechism:
841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."  [330 = LG 16; cf. NA 3.]These sections of the Catechism, outside of the comment at the end of 1260, are taken directly from the documents of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 16 and Gaudium et Spes 22. Hence, they are not "new" as if the Catechism is saying something that had not been explicitly stated before. But the substance of these assertions truly demonstrates a fundamental difference once again between biblical Christianity and Romanism.
1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."  Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known of its necessity. [62 = GS 22 # 5; cf. LG 16; AG 7]
One thing needs to be pointed out from the start (and I assure you, I will be emphasizing it in the debate): these sections are not about children who die in infancy. They are not about those who are mentally incapable of functioning or understanding. Both sections are explicitly about functioning, mature individuals capable of religious choice and action. Note how section 841 speaks of Muslims "acknowledging" the Creator (the act of a mature individual); professing the faith of Abraham, adoring the one, merciful God (that I would reject the idea that Christians worship the same God as Muslims should be a given)--all these actions speak of maturity and hence place the topic squarely in the realm of professing non-Christians entering into heaven.
The same is true of 1260. The person envisioned here "seeks the truth" and "does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it." Such a person is active, knows and understands truth, etc. In both cases, the "infants who die in infancy" argument is rendered irrelevant. Rome is directly asserting an inclusivistic viewpoint that includes within its framework the active, convinced, worshipping Muslim or members of other non-Christian religions. This will be the debate.
Note as well, of course, that Rome's claim regarding God's universal salvific will is based upon the utter negation of Reformed theology. Once again the Reformed individual stands upon solid biblical ground to respond to Rome's teachings, while the Arminian finds himself once again in agreement with Rome at a fundamental level. This was the whole point of the very first question I asked of Dave Hunt years ago regarding his agreement with Rome on the nature of grace and the nature of man's will, and here it is again.
Amazing Stuff on Madrid's Blog
05/27/2005 - James WhiteThe oddest things happen in the weeks leading up to debates. I have observed that over the years. I remember prior to a debate on Long Island years ago Sungenis and Sippo and their followers were going nuts sending me nastigrams. And so here it is, less than two weeks prior to the Long Island debate, and what happens? Well, I have Sungenis doing his thing (oddly, the RC's going after me in other areas would go after him as well, and vice-versa, which sort of makes me chuckle a bit, in light of Madrid's own cooperation with Sungenis in the past, and the claim that following Rome leads to such unity), and then over on Madrid's web-board Art Sippo, one of the worst examples of behavior amongst their "apologists" is holding forth, engaging in the most personal, vitriolic ad-hominem you can imagine (any man who has to insult your mother is obviously not much of a real challenge), and evidently with the blessings of Madrid himself (so much for RC apologists and the "high road").
So it seems Madrid has had to get into the fray. He's posted some articles on his equivalent of a blog. Now, very usefully, he has posted the text from his This Rock hit piece against me from 1993, the one I referred to below. Here it is. Now, read that, then my response, here. I'd be happy to point you to his rebuttal to my documentation of his errors, but...there is none. A decade has passed, and there has not been any reply to my knowledge. ...
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The Dave Armstrong Arcade Game
05/26/2005 - James WhiteA while back I took the time to engage Dave Armstrong's The Catholic Verses on this blog. The response by Mr. Armstrong was 1) bluster and absurdly silly replies; 2) full-scale retreat and a "promise" (again) to stop interacting with "anti-Catholics" like me. Since then, Mr. Armstrong has returned and, evidently, has healed from his wounds, forgotten his own promises, and is now busily non-responding to me all over again (even producing reverse-color purposefully bad pictures originally taken by Mormons). Remember that cheesey arcade game where the little animal pops up out of a hole and you have to bop it back in to get points? The kind of thing you played just because you only had one token left and the real games took two? Well, I may have played that game once, but found it completely boring and not worth even that last token. Ditto, Mr. Armstrong. There is no reason to even respond to a person who, upon being shown to be in error, will reply, "Oh, I don't have to answer that! That person is anti-me, and I take an oath not to respond to his kind...until this topic has passed, anyway, or I have had more time to come up with a response or something." Such is not apologetics, it is excus-a-getics, and is not worth the time it takes to activate the RSS feed.
As Long as it Serves Mother Church
05/24/2005 - James WhiteDr. Art Sippo continues his harangues on Patrick Madrid's forums from Envoy Magazine. He writes, "Guys, I have first hand knowledge of James White, his tactics, his family and the way he acts. He is not a serious scholar. He is a bigot. He was raised that way by his father and mother who are vicious anti-Catholics." This is the kind of "scholarship" looked up to by many on Catholic web-boards. It has never crossed my mind to attack Art Sippo's parents. I have never thought of looking into the family histories of any of my opponents. Why would anyone who has the slightest concern for truth, let alone any knowledge thereof, do so? And yet this is the sum and substance of 98% of everything you will find said repeatedly, endlessly, by the folks who frequent the Roman Catholic apologetics forums. Where are the moderators? Evidently Madrid has no problem hosting this kind of blatant ad-hominem as long as it is written by the likes of Art Sippo, who is surely one of the worst examples one can find of an alleged Roman Catholic "apologist."
Another incredible example of the kind of Roman Catholic apologetics that exists is found in this tiny video clip from Apolonio Latar. A fifteen second clip, removed from all context, is supposed to be the "truth" about sola scriptura. That I have explained the relationship of sola scriptura to the issue of the inspiration of Scripture, and its normative function only after the canon is completed, is not noted by Mr. Latar's little snippet, and yet for the average participant in the RC apologetics forums, that's hardly relevant.
Of course, I have to remind myself, regularly, that these people are outside my audience anyway. I do not debate for the Art Sippos or Apolonio Latars or Xaviers or CatholicDudes of the internet. My audience is, in fact, very small, and unless God sees fit to bring a wave of repentance across Western culture, it may well get a lot smaller in the not too distant future. Those who are serious about issues of truth are few and far between these days. I am more convinced than ever that such a disposition requires the work of the Spirit in the heart, and therefore I should not be surprised when unregenerate men act like...unregenerate men. Unregenerate religious men will act in a way that shames and dishonors the truth. Unless the Spirit opens the eyes, my words can only bring about the same kind of outrageous behavior as that seen in the response of the false disciples of John 8:30-34. Indeed, if I dare try to placate such men, I will have to betray the gospel. And that I plead God will keep me from doing.
I have quoted it in the past, but I will do so again. Beza was right on when he said, "For piety has no enemies more inveterate than those who have sincerely embraced a false religion, thinking it true."
Nearly A Dozen Years, And Still Missing the Point
05/22/2005 - James WhiteThough I am nearly 6000 miles from home, I still get multiple copies of advertisements sent out from active Roman Catholic apologists (for which I'm grateful, by the way---that is not meant to be a complaint). I guess Patrick Madrid of Envoy Magazine has sent out one of late, for I've gotten more than one copy. In it he is promoting some of his past debates, including two he has done with me. Actually, the only two he has done with me, to be specific. First is the 1993 debate on sola scriptura from San Diego (the hottest debate ever---the Santa Anna winds were blowing, and the church had no air conditioning, so it was quite literally the hottest debate I have ever been at), and secondly the Veneration of Saints and Images debate from Long Island. I was just looking it over and ran across this in the description of the sola scriptura debate:
Listen as White attempts to prove that the Bible is sufficient for Christians, resorting to an array of futile arguments, including his unintentionally humorous "Unique Pen" contention (which backfired on him), his faulty "Bike Shop" analogy, and his ineffectual "Man of God" argument....
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A Thought from St. Peter's
05/20/2005 - James WhiteI forgot to add this to my brief recounting of visiting St. Peter's in Rome. As I was looking at all of the crypts and memorials, statues and monuments, to dead popes and their alleged accomplishments, I could not help but think of Shebna in Isaiah 22:15-18:
Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 16 What have you to do here, and whom have you here, that you have cut out here a tomb for yourself, you who cut out a tomb on the height and carve a dwelling for yourself in the rock? 17 Behold, the LORD will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you 18 and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land. There you shall die, and there shall be your glorious chariots, you shame of your master's house.While visiting the British Museum I ran into an amazing little item. Here is a picture of the inscription over Shebna's tomb, the very one for which God criticized him in Scripture. The lesson? Monuments to men's lives should be living, not dead; they should be in the lives they touched, the truths they proclaimed, the words they wrote so as to bless coming generations. Christians should be remembered for who they were in Christ. That's why Popes can only be honored by cold marble statues: without the gospel, everything else is vain, no matter how much sacrifice one may make.
Sungenis Rattles His Geocentric Traditionalist Mr-X Saber
05/20/2005 - James WhiteI mentioned on the Dividing Line a few weeks ago the quandry presented by those associated with Robert Sungenis. I have debated Sungenis five times, by my count. Some will recall a period when Sungenis actually attempted to behave in a meaningfully restrained fashion, but that period did not last long. All one has to do is track down the fireworks between he and his Roman Catholic critics to get an idea of what is up at CAI. Anyway, if you go back to the archives of the DL you will hear our discussion of Mr. X, the man CAI put forward as being an "insider" who actually funded the research of Bill Webster and David King that resulted in their three volume work on sola scriptura. Likewise Mr. X told all sorts of stupid stories about Webster, King, myself, and others associated with this ministry. His allegations were so absurd, so outlandish, that they were easily refuted. Then it was discovered Mr. X was a troubled teenager pulling a prank, and as we said then, Sungenis' reputation as a serious apologist was, for all intents and purposes, over at that point. Since then he has only marginalized himself even more by adopting a whole range of odd and downright eccentric positions, resulting in a wholesale abandonment on the part of mainstream Roman Catholics of his work. ...
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Troubles in Anglicanism
05/20/2005 - James WhiteLiberalism is an odd thing to observe. On the one end, liberalism has led to the ordination of an openly gay "bishop" (Gene Robinson) by the Episcopalian church in the US; but, on the other end, since liberalism has no doctrinal foundation upon which to stand, it has now led to Mary: Hope and Grace in Christ, the paper issuing forth from the Anglican-Roman Catholic International commission (ARCIC), first released in (irony of ironies, given our upcoming conference there) Seattle (after a Roman Catholic Mass--another indication of why doctrine matters), but to be released as well in the United Kingdom today at Westminster Abbey. I look forward to obtaining the entire paper, and have not yet had that opportunity, as my internet access while traveling here in Italy is still somewhat limited. But the article I was pointed to by one of our channel regulars from England (Nick) provided sufficient citations to give a good idea of what is up. I quote from the Time Online article:
Members of the Anglican church are being asked to accept that controversial Roman Catholic teachings regarding the Virgin Mary are "authentic expressions of Christian belief".
The proposals, which came under immediate attack from senior evangelicals, come in a document agreed by leading theologians and prelates of both churches and published in America tonight. ...
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Vatican City: Selling Grace
05/19/2005 - James WhiteIt was bought and paid for by the most gross selling of the grace of God in the form of the blasphemous doctrine of indulgences. Maybe that is why I could not even begin to think it was grand, or glorious, or even attractive: it stinks of the deadness of man's religion and worse, the perversion of the gospel of grace. As far as man's structures goes, to call it ornate is to engage in vast understatement. It contains art treasures beyond estimation: here is but one, the famous work of Michaelangelo, situated to your right as soon as you enter the edifice. But St. Peter's is cold, hard, unfeeling, dead. The ornately decorated crypts mock the dead bones within them: these great pontiffs, many of whom lived lives of power and luxury and wealth, took none of it with them. And while their crypts are meant to point to their great power and works, today they are visited primarily by a gawking public without a clue as to who they were, what they did, or why, and in fact, could completely care less.
Some are almost mocked by the artwork meant to honor them. This picture is very dark mainly because what it is of is very dark: this was a recent Pope (I don't recall the name---all the Roman numerals and Pauls etc. started to run together, but I'm sure someone will write to let me know), but I noted to our guide that if someone made a ghoulish statue like that of me I'd come back from the dead to anathematize them. It is just horrible. It truly looks like a skeleton in papal garments. But maybe it says more than it was meant to say.
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The Marian Prayer
05/18/2005 - James WhiteIt caught my eye—a small booklet, tucked in the fold of a chair in the corner. I normally wouldn't have seen it, but it was sticking out just enough to be seen. I picked it up. The blue-and-white cover bore the title, Devotions in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. I thumbed through the booklet, scanning a few of the prayers it contained. My eyes caught a line about “my eternal salvation,” so I backed up and started from the beginning:
O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou art the dispenser of all the goods which God grants to us miserable sinners, and for this reason he has made thee so powerful, so rich, and so bountiful, that thou mayest help us in our misery. Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinnerswho have recourse to thee. Come then, to my help, dearest Mother, for I recommend myself to thee. In thy hands I place my eternal salvation and to thee do I entrust my soul. Count me among thy most devoted servants; take me under thy protection, and it isenough for me. For, if thou protect me, dear Mother, I fear nothing; not from my sins, because thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them; nor from the devils, because thou are more powerful than all hell together; nor even from Jesus, my Judge himself, because by one prayer from thee he will be appeased. But one thing I fear, that in the hour of temptation I may neglect to call on thee and thus perish miserably. Obtain for me, then, the pardon of my sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to have recourse to thee, O Mother of Perpetual Help. ...
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An Incredible Example of RC Apologetics
05/04/2005 - James WhiteOne of the most common activities of those who defend falsehood goes like this: if you have to twist your sources out of their original contexts, and you know it, then before you do so, accuse your opponent of doing the same thing. If you have to act like a spoiled child, then complain that your opponent was doing it before you did. Just throw enough dirt and dust in the air and you can keep a fair portion of the audience off balance and "survive" almost any encounter.
A number of years ago a group of RC apologists gathered around Robert Sungenis and Art Sippo. They seemed to feed off of each other, and even mentioning them would bring you a flood of replies from half a dozen or more people, spoiling for a fight. It wasn't that their arguments were at all compelling: they use the Inquisitorial manner of debate: define yourself as the winner and then pour contempt upon anyone who would question you. Well, that group has turned upon itself over the past number of years (and my was that a spectacle), so Sippo has gathered his disciples around himself, and seems to have found a home on the Planet Envoy web board. It is here that yesterday Art Sippo, though admitting he has never listened to the debate, posted a "review" of my debate with Tim Staples on Papal Infallibility, based solely upon very fair, second-hand information. I won't post it all; if you are interested in gazing upon a true example of how fair you can expect your friendly neighborhood RC apologist to be, go here and pop on down to the article that was posted 5/03/2005 : 01:50:29 AM that starts "I never heard that debate." But here's just a portion: ...
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