Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
A Quick Hello From the Front
09/18/2006 - James WhiteNot much time for anything but writing, but...
Miki says she will call the DL as long as I do not dominate the conversation with sophistry and anger. Yet, she has never listened to the DL, so, how would she know...oh, never mind. If you want an example of more of this kind of thing, check out the melt down at the Catholic Answers forums here. "Catholichead" asserts I lied about Irenaeus in that thread, but, as with all of these folks, sorta forgot to actually back up what he said. Here is a sample (first entry/second entry) of what I've said about Irenaeus, here refuting Mark Bonocore, who is elsewhere promoted in that thread by Phil Porvaznik.
Speaking of Bonocore, looking at that thread I clicked on one of the links and couldn't help but chuckling at the kind of argumentation that some folks find compelling and convincing. Look at one portion of this interaction with Bonocore:
JW> 7) You wrote: Now, while it is true that, in Matt 18:18, Jesus bestows a similar authority to "bind and loosen" upon all of the Apostles collectively, it is to Peter alone that Christ entrusts "the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven." So, what are these Keys? What are they suppose to signify?" When, specifically, did Christ bestow the keys ALONE to Peter? The Greek verb in Matthew 16 is future in tense. Hence, if this does not take place in Matthew 18:18, when does it? And, can you cite patristic foundation for saying the keys differ in authority and meaning from the power of binding and loosing? >>
:-) First of all, the way you pose the question is shamefully deceptive, and based on an incorrect understanding of the Greek. In comparing Matt 16:19 and 18:18, the "bind/loose" statements are each arranged in two couplets. The first verb in the couplet is an active aorist and the second is a perfect passive participle which is best translated into English as a passive future perfect. Thus, the verses literally say "Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in Heaven." The obvious meaning of the Matt 16:19 &18:18 statements is that whatever the Apostles (and their successors) bind upon the faithful (i.e., faith or morals) will not be their own teaching but what has already been bound upon the Church by God in eternity. So, I am overwhelmed by your misuse of the Greek.
Now, keep in mind, Bonocore has never taught Greek in any context to my knowledge. But the "Catholic Legate" style has even led them to attempt to refute Eric Svendsen's work on a particular Greek phrase though they had to start their effort by admitting their lack of training in the subject! As far as I know they never got very far on that project. In any case, when faced with such argumentation, you can either dig down and provide a substantive response, or, you can attempt to blow smoke and obscure the fact that you really have no idea what you are talking about. And that is what Bonocore does here. Note the question I asked: "When, specifically, did Christ bestow the keys ALONE to Peter? The Greek verb in Matthew 16 is future in tense. Hence, if this does not take place in Matthew 18:18, when does it? And, can you cite patristic foundation for saying the keys differ in authority and meaning from the power of binding and loosing?" Now, a serious response would involve examining dw,sw and providing some kind of exegetically sound foundation for the absolutist position of the Roman See regarding the concept of papal authority. Remember, absolute claims of authority cannot be substantiated by "maybe's" and "possibly's." Is this what Bonocore provides? Of course not. Instead, what you do when you don't really have an answer is you accuse the person who has asked you a question you cannot answer of some kind of wrong-doing--it is always best to accuse them of what you are about to do yourself--and then make some assertions about something utterly irrelevant to the original question, hoping your readers will find the resultant reply compelling. The clear thinking reader runs into this kind of stuff constantly in politics, and it is just as prevalent in theology and apologetics.
Providing us with an incredible example of this kind of non-response, Bonocore starts out with an accusation. I have, he claims, been "shamefully deceptive" and I do not understand a topic I have taught for years and Bonocore has not. Now, keep in mind what I said. I said dw,sw is in the future tense ("I will give" not "I am right now giving to you, Peter, in contrast to the others, alone, the keys"). How is this shamefully deceptive? Well, you can read the rest of Bonocore's paragraph till the sun grows dark in the sky and you'll never find out. Though he ends with another assertion of the "misuse of the Greek," he never even touches on the only assertion made, that being that the verb in 16:19 is future in tense! Now, it is possible he simply doesn't get the point. It is possible he hasn't read my books on the subject, or just doesn't follow the point. Instead, he victoriously overlooks dw,sw (I said "verb" not "verbs") and looks at a completely different aspect of the text which has nothing to do with what I said, and on the basis of that, accuses me of misusing the Greek! This kind of errant apologetics is what Rome's defenders tout as providing a "refutation" of my work.
And finally, the Islamic apologetics community seems as liable to dispute and disruption as the Roman Catholic one (witness Keating vs. Matatics, Sungenis vs. Everybody). I have mentioned a few times in the past the Peter Ruckman of Islamic apologists on the net, Nadir Ahmed. He and his followers use the basest forms of bullying tactics. I have demonstrated Ahmed's utter incapacity to deal with scholarly subjects on the DL in the past. Well, we got the following e-mail just today:
Mr. James White, Can you tell us why you are running from Nadir Ahmed. He has called you out in a debate and you are afraid of him. It seems like you only like to go after weaker opponents of the Islamic community like Shabir Ally! Shabir Ally is to much into liberal Biblical scholarship rather than Islam. So he is a very confused man. You are fooling no one.That's been the mantra, "You are afraid!" Pretty hard to deal with irrational folks like that, isn't it? They truly have no idea that their actions prove so clearly the bankruptcy of their own position.
Odds and Ends
09/18/2006 - James WhiteI think it would be useful for thoughtful folks--you know, folks who think before they open fire, burn, or go to war--to read what Benedict XVI actually said in his talk that has resulted in such outrageously inane and violent reactions from so many. Here is the talk. Here is the relevant portion:
I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on-- perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara-- by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was probably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than the responses of the learned Persian.
The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship of the three Laws: the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qur'an. In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point-- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself-- which, in the context of the issue of faith and reason, I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.
In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: There is no compulsion in religion. It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat.
But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels,” he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words:
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.
God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death.......
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Odds and Ends
09/06/2006 - James WhiteFirst, an "I told you so" that is not much of one. I have said many times that homosexual activists cannot allow freedom of speech or expression. Their ultimate goal is to silence anyone who would even whisper God's standards. They do not want equal rights, they want super-rights, all based upon sexual behavior. And as long as they have deep pockets and politicians can "use" them and be used by them, they will continue racking up success in their campaign. So I have repeatedly said the days are coming, and indeed, are here, where open and honest discussion of what the Bible itself says about homosexuality will be limited and in fact will put one in danger of the authorities. Here is a story illustrating this very thing from the UK. Note that this special "police unit" exists not to protect British citizens from criminals, but instead is there to support homosexuals! And note especially the admission that the arrest was based simply upon the leaflets containing relevant biblical citations! You have to wonder where all the proponents of "free speech" are hiding these days. Hat tip to PC.
Next, I have been informed by eyewitnesses that Jerry Falwell, in announcing the upcoming debate at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, referred to myself and Tom Ascol as "hyper Calvinists." This is most disappointing. For one thing, I'm sure the real hypers are truly upset that we are taking over their turf and illegitimately at that! They sure know we are anything but hyper-Calvinists. But I had hoped for better from Dr. Falwell, who should know that there are historical definitions of these terms and that it is inaccurate to use the phrase of myself or Dr. Ascol. I will have to write and correct his misapprehension. We wouldn't want too many flaming straw men in that fine new sanctuary! The fire marshal would not like it!
Ups and Downs
09/01/2006 - James WhiteFirst the ups. We've got the stolen property covered (bless you all); Conan could not get through my door (then again, neither can I--but that is temporary); the monsoon knocked out our alarm system and scrambled its brains, hence the failure---that is fixed, and even improved; bars for the windows are coming next week (thanks, BD!). So, for those asking about what to pray for, a renewed focus on finishing this writing project, and protection from evil men.
And for the downs, here's another loving e-mail from a kind, considerate, thoughtful member of the Roman Catholic Church:
Dear Mr. White, I'm glad to see your sister saw the light and crossed over to the fullness of the Faith: The Catholic Church! No wonder she crossed over, she got tired of hearing a bigoted, uneducated and very false gospel: T.U.L.I.P = Totally Useless Lies In Printing. On another note, I ordered the debate between you and Patrick Madrid on "Does the Bible teach Sola Scriptura?" You demonstrated perfectly how one can use many words, while saying absolutely nothing! In fact, you must have realised you were being badly defeated during the debate because you got down in the desperate dirt of Anti-Catholic arguments, which are all so poorly formed and terribly embarrassing in light of the facts. Anyways, you clearly lost the debate and Patrick Madrid proved that you are out of his league. + Cameron
At times you truly wonder if these folks have any idea how this kind of behavior only proves the bankruptcy of their own position? Truly amazing stuff. Some might wonder if these kinds of hit-and-run writers ever provide any kind of substantive argument, the answer is, "No, almost never." But we continue to take the high road by refusing to treat them as they treat us. In any case, we can hope and pray that Cameron, and those like him, will someday listen more fully to what we have been saying in defense of God's voice in His Word. (Quick update: I tried to write back to Cameron but guess what? Yeah, not a valid e-mail address. Shocking!).