Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Da Vinci Debunked in Tabletalk
03/31/2006 - James WhiteThis month's Tabletalk magazine from Ligonier Ministries focuses on preparing believers to handle the release of The Da Vinci Code film this month. In order as they appear, the first feature article is by R.C. Sproul, "The Da Vinci Conspiracy." Then my article appears, titled, "The Fool's Folly Uncovered." Then R. Albert Mohler Jr.'s article "Historical Propaganda," followed by Peter R. Jones' work, "The Pagan Agenda of the Code." If you don't subscribe to Tabletalk, you may still want to pick up this issue, or better yet, subscribe!
Apostasy in Alaska Courtesy of the BAS
03/14/2006 - James WhiteYou may be one of those who received an e-mail from the Biblical Archaeology Society today. In case you had ever thought of supporting this group, I hope the following will give you an idea what they are really all about. BTW, this cruise costs more than three times what ours did. I wonder where that extra money is going? Hmm.
Jesus Is Not Who You Think He IsIf that doesn't prove Ehrman is on a crusade, what possibly could? Just unreal. See for yourself.
There's More to Jesus Than You Know
(And learn it on a 10 day cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage.)
Let Professor Bart Ehrman, best-selling author and prominent Biblical scholar, lead you through the mysterious Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, James, Peter, and the lost Gospels of Mark and John.
• Learn why the true meaning behind the Gospels of Mark and John might have been lost in translation.
• Learn what happened to Mary before the birth of Jesus and why she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus in the Proto-Gospel of James.
• Learn about the mischievous, but powerful, five-year-old Jesus in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.
• Learn what actually happened when Jesus emerged from the tomb and why his cross is shown speaking to the heavens in the Gospel of Peter.
• Learn how Jesus’ secret teachings, and their correct interpretation, can bring eternal life in the famous Gospel of Thomas.
• Learn why Jesus reveals different secrets of salvation to a woman in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.
• Discover how these lost gospels are changing the most powerful religion in the world.
AND LEARN IT ALL WHILE TAKING A 10-DAY VACATION TO ALASKA’S FAMOUS INSIDE PASSAGE
What Does the Reality of Apostasy Mean?
03/14/2006 - James WhiteApostasy abounds in Western culture today. Much of the confusion as to what the Christian faith teaches is due to apostates who refuse to leave the church but instead corrupt it from within. But there are many apostates who have completely abandoned the faith; some simply disappear and go back to their worldly ways. Look at the huge baptism numbers reported each year in many mega churches and then consider the fact that in most of those churches, 80-90% of those "baptized" are completely out of contact with any church within two years.
But there are always those who abandon their profession of faith and they do not simply go quietly into the world: they vocally proclaim their apostasy and seek to encourage the same attitude of unbelief amongst as many others as possible. And, of course, the Internet provides them with a ready-made platform.
The existence of apostasy is troubling to many, though, again, if people would live in light of that phrase, "theology matters," they would be significantly less liable to being disturbed by it. The fact is that the New Testament names apostates who entered that condition even during the ministry of the Apostles. Jesus gave us parables that warned us ahead of time of the reality of apostasy and its reasons (such as the parable of the soils). Entire books, like 1 John, are filled with references to those who were troubling the church who had once been leaders within her number.
A few weeks ago I specifically addressed the issue of hypocrites in the church and how the proclamation of the gospel will often compel these people into false religions or open apostasy. At that time I pointed out that a balanced view of Scripture would give us a solid foundation upon which to view the reality of apostasy. This is especially true in today's context of the church's ministry within a society under the wrath of God, where God is allowing such a wide-spread existence of false teaching that apostasy of every possible kind can be observed today. One must have a truly biblical view of salvation to make heads or tails out of what is happening around us.
Take the inconsistent position held by many tradition-bound evangelicals today, those who deny the foundational truths often called "Calvinism" and yet hold, for some odd reason, to "eternal security." Not only is their doctrine of "eternal security" unbiblical and unsound, but they have no meaningful basis for believing it in the rest of their theology. And the result is predictable: since they have no means of understanding false faith, let alone the judgment of God in causing those who refuse to love the truth to believe a lie, they are left scratching their heads at those who professed faith for a season, even a long season, and yet today deny what they once professed.
These thoughts have been prompted by a blog article by an anonymous person named "exbeliever" that I read only today as I arrived home from ministry in Auburn. I made reference to a series of questions posted on this particular blog that "debunks" Christianity yesterday. Well, it turns out that one of the contributors to this blog claims to be a former student of mine. Here are his words:
I found this quote interesting for personal reasons. Though, as I've explained, I hope to keep my anonymity, it might interest some readers that I was once one of Dr. White's students. I took a class in Christian Philosophy which Dr. White taught as an apologetics class....
During that (albeit, short) class, Dr. White was very complementary of my work. Because of my background, the two of us often chased rabbit trails that most of the other class members could not follow. I got an "A" in that class.
After reading Dr. White's quote, I couldn't help wondering what he would think of me now. He, obviously, doesn't believe that one can be a "'former' Christian," so would he, now, believe that I had fooled him?
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John Loftus "Debunking" the Faith
03/12/2006 - James WhiteI was looking over Evan May's blog this morning when I ran across a link to some comments posted by John Loftus on the "Debunking Christianity" blog. I noted with some humor the presence of Dan Barker as one of the contributors to that blog. I will never forget the radio programs I did with Barker, both by phone and in person on the Tom Leykus show many, many years ago. Anyway, Loftus, allegedly a former "Christian" with an Th.M. from Trinity (I haven't bothered to check out the claim, it's fairly irrelevant given the nature of this material) posted a series of "questions your Pastor will hate." I don't have time today to tackle all of them (I believe someone over at Triablogue already did), but I wanted to quickly note one of them as it is being repeated so often people are starting to believe it merely due to repetition. Here is the question:
"Why does the Apostle Paul, who writes most of the New Testament, NEVER quote Jesus, tell a story of his life or death, discuss a miracle or teaching?" Answer...Where do you get this stuff?Paul referred to the death of Jesus Christ constantly. Surely Mr. Loftus has read the NT at some point in his receiving a Th.M.? When Paul spoke to the Corinthians of having a commandment from the Lord, or not, he was referring to whether there was a specific teaching of the Lord contained in the apostolic teaching and preaching which was only at that time being put into written form in the gospels. But why on earth is this question even being asked, given the purposes for which Paul's epistles were written? Is it not painfully obvious that Paul was fully aware of all of these things, as were those to whom he was writing, so that repeating that common body of knowledge (seen, for example, in the Carmen Christi at Phil. 2:5-11) would be a foolish act? The entire foundation of the question shows either gross ignorance of Paul's writings, their context, and their purpose, or, more likely for apostates, a disregard for the facts and simple honesty. That has been my experience: "former" Christians, freed from the constraints of morality, express their hatred for the faith in the most outrageous ways, and rarely do you find a high regard for fairness or accuracy in their writings.
If time allows (I begin moving my office this week, which includes multiple thousands of volumes of books) I will respond to more of these alleged objections to the faith.
Finally, irony of irony, it is currently 83 degrees here in Auburn...and 50 back in Phoenix. Wouldn't you know I'd be gone the one time winter shows up in Phoenix?
Another Example of Tradition
03/10/2006 - James WhiteI noted that my brief commentary on the Comma Johanneum came up on a web board recently. One of the participants commented,
So I guess that John Calvin, Theodore Beza, the Westminster Assembly, Francis Turretin, Matthew Poole, the 1689 Baptist Assembly, Matthew Henry, John Gill, John Brown of Haddington, Robert L. Dabney, and Edward F. Hills are all to be considered "outside the realm of meaningful scholarship"?What caught my eye was the constant (and errant) assumption on the part of such folks that these great names from the past are, in fact, relevant to the current discussion. They are not. The only person on the list that could be put in the modern era (i.e., after the finding of the papyri manuscripts) would be Hills, and he honestly admitted that his reasons for accepting the Comma were theological, not historical/textual. (I note with a smile the lack of Burgon's name: at least this writer knows Burgon rejected the Comma). The others were all pre-papyri and hence, quite honestly, are not relevant to the discussion any longer, anymore than citing the viewpoints of medical doctors who lived in the 1700s would be relevant today.
Further, many of those listed could in no way be said to be textual scholars, or to have been involved in in-depth textual study, so that they somehow made a knowing "decision" in support of the Comma. Just because someone commented on the text, or even accepted it because it was in the default text they used, is hardly relevant to determining if they made a concerted effort that led them to accept it over against rejecting it.
But beyond all of this, what disappoints me most is that in reading through these commentaries there is almost zero interaction with the real issue: if you accept the Comma, you have to do so on the basis of abandoning all consistent textual practice. If you argue its textual basis is sufficient for inclusion, then you would have to logically argue for a radically different form of the NT than the TR (and none of these folks will do that). If you refuse to say that all texts with the same almost nonexistent Greek manuscripts support levels should be included, you convict yourself of defending the TR simply out of tradition, not out of a desire to know the original text. In either case, you have abandoned any meaningful position from which you can defend the text of the NT against the likes of Bart Ehrman or his ilk, that is for certain. If these folks are going to actually address these issues, they need to come up with some kind of answer that is not purely circular in nature, or, as one man on the list, purely ad-hominem in nature.