Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Another Example of "Head in the Sand" Apologetics
09/21/2006 - James White
I have submitted several emails on the doctrine of Mary in the early Church to you, and yet you do not respond. You claimed on your radio show that nowhere in the early Church around the the time of the First Council of Nicea, was there any evidennce to substantiate the Catholic teachings on Mary. I gave you two or three concrete examples and yet you don't respond. I can defeat many of your arguments against Catholic teaching by simpily bringing the ancient liturgies of the Church as my primary source of evidence. The fact is you cannot argue with faith in the action and practice of the Divine Liturgy over the last 2000 years. I would glady debate you on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist any day of the week armed primarily with the Church's ancient Liturgies which proclaim this belief to the high heavens. The fact is that any Catholic that brings you concrete arguments you have no time for. You like to waste time bringing insulting statements on your website to give a false impression of Catholics as uncharitable. I will give you a nice written debate on the Real Presence for you to post on your website if you only had the courage to put it on and let people decide for themselves who has provided the real Truth.
This is the first e-mail I have seen from you. Where you sent the others, I have no idea, but as it is, if I had not seen your post on the Catholic Answers Forums I wouldn't have even gone looking for this one.
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Disrespect. That is the modus operandi of your compatriots these days, and you are walking in their steps. You will search in vain over nearly two decades of my writings that have dealt with Roman Catholicism where I have knowingly, purposefully criticized a writer for being ignorant of the facts on a matter while refusing to do the requisite reading in what they themselves have made available in writing and in debate! I have said strong things about some of Rome's apologists, but I have always shown them the respect necessary to honor my commitment to truth by taking the time to hear them out! My library would be much smaller if I did not invest in obtaining the many volumes being published in defense of Rome's claims. I grabbed my camera and, though my library is currently in a complete state of utter disarray, much of it still in boxes, I have crammed as many books as I can onto the few shelves I have. Here is just one quick shot of two shelves worth of books, the majority of which are Roman Catholic. You may recognize many of the titles ranging from Congar's Tradition & Traditions to the Surprised by Truth series, Newman's An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine and Apologia Pro Vita Sua, works by Hahn, Stravinskas, Sungenis, Shea, Madrid and the like. As I said, the order is currently (and sadly) random, but this was just one quick shot. And if you were to take many of these books down from the shelf you would find book marks, outlining, notes and the like. My point? It's a matter of whether you seek to honor the truth or whether you are just a devotee of a system. If you are just interested in defending your own viewpoint, you do not have to worry much about doing your homework. You don't have to strive for accuracy of citation. You don't have to worry about learning the language of the group to which you are speaking so that you can communicate with them properly. You just rail at the other side and call it good. I refuse to follow that path.
You, on the other hand, seem intent upon doing so. Why do I say this? Simple: I've written a book on the subject of the Marian dogmas. It was written back in the late 1990s. It briefly, but I believe accurately, addresses the push to have the "fifth Marian dogma" established in Roman Catholic theology, and to explain that concept to Protestants, I began with an overview of all of the already established Marian dogmas. Now, even if I had not debated Gerry Matatics twice on Marian issues, the fact that I have written a book on the subject should be sufficient to warrant, on your part, checking to see if I have addressed these issues therein (I have, of course). But beyond that, a Google search of aomin.org would have informed you that I made the same challenge in writing in a debate years ago, found here. In that opening statement I wrote the following:
The Nicene Church and the Marian Doctrines. If the Papacy is not evident at Nicea, surely the Marian dogmas that define Roman Catholic worship are even more conspicuous by their absence from the same time period. One need only consult the work of Roman Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott (hardly a liberal!) to realize this. For example, with reference to the Immaculate Conception Ott admits on page 201:Now, all of this information is generally available to anyone with the interest in obtaining it. You, obviously, have no interest in knowing what I am actually saying. You are only intent upon defending your position. That is why you have obviously missed my point.
Neither the Greek nor the Latin Fathers explicitly teach the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Instead, he asserts an "implicit" teaching based upon Mary’s holiness and the contrast between her and Eve. Yet, I note that J.N.D. Kelly asserts that Ireneaus, Tertullian, and Origen all felt Mary had sinned and doubted Christ (Early Christian Doctrines, 493). In any case, Ott asserts on the same page that the first explicit assertion of the doctrine as believed today is found in the British monk Eadmer at the beginning of the 12th century! Even then, he notes it ran into much opposition, including the rejection of Bernard of Clairvaux. Certainly, it’s a doctrine absent from the early 4th century and the Church of Nicea.
Likewise, the Bodily Assumption of Mary is a doctrine unknown to the Fathers of the Council of Nicea. Ott says of it, "The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus-narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries. Even though these are apocryphal they bear witness to the faith of the generation in which they were written despite their legendary clothing" (pp. 209-210). What Ott does not note is that these "transitus-narratives" were deemed heretical by the Church of the day and anathematized by Gelasius, bishop of Rome! Hence, the first documentable reference to the doctrine is from a heretical source, and that at least two and a half centuries after the Council of Nicea! The doctrine, plainly, had no part in the Church in A.D. 325, and hence, again, the point is proven: the Church of Nicea was not the Church of Rome.
Please, Matthew, do you really think I am unaware of the state of development of the Marian theology at the time of Nicea? Do you really think I would be so foolish as to say that you do not share any of the beliefs of the Nicene period about Mary? I mean, obviously, the bishops at Nicea believed in the Virgin Birth, right? So do I! That would hardly be a challenge. What I said on the program, and what I have said in writing, is this: the bishops at Nicea did not believe what you as a Roman Catholic today believe de fide about the Virgin Mary. They did not believe in the Bodily Assumption of Mary. That is not even disputable and you should know that. They did not believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary as you define it today--for as anyone familiar with church history knows, as many as seven Popes taught against the concept, and it was opposed by well known writers in its current dogmatic form well into the medieval period. The fact that Jerome would take on Helvidius many decades later shows that even the Perpetual Virginity of Mary was an issue lacking unanimous consent at the time of Nicea.
So the challenge I made on the DL, and I repeat to you, Matthew, is simple: if you are going to claim modern Rome is the "same" church as that of Nicea, show me which bishops at that council believed not some of what you believe about Mary, but all of what you believe, not just freely, but de fide about Mary. When you can do that, rather than providing scattered citations about one idea here, another there, you will have fulfilled the challenge.
Finally, I would like to see what you have already written on the following citation and resultant concept in Augustine's writings:
In other words, in respect of His divine presence we always have Christ; in respect of His presence in the flesh it was rightly said to the disciples, 'Me ye will not have always.' In this respect the Church enjoyed His presence only for a few days: now it possesses Him by faith, without seeing Him with the eyes." (Lectures on the Gospel of John, 50:13)You see, Matthew, to have seriously engaged the idea of transubstantiation in differentiation from real presence you would have to have considered and given place to Augustine's own consistent teaching that the physical body of Jesus will remain in heaven until He returns so that the Church is deprived of the physical presence of Christ. How could he say this if, in fact, he believed what you believe regarding transubstantiation? To consistently read Augustine one must take those passages where he presents the reailty of Christ's spiritual presence with His people (especially in reference to the Eucharistic celebration) and instead of suppressing the rest of his views in light of the anachronistic reading of later traditions allow him to speak for himself in his own context. And when you do so, you see the consistency in what he said above about the bodily presence of Christ and what he says here about John 6:
Who is the bread of of the Kingdom of God, but He who says, "I am the living Bread which came down from heaven?" Do not get your mouth ready, but your heart. On this occasion it was that the parable of this supper was set forth. Lo, we believe in Christ, we receive Him with faith. In receiving Him we know what to think of. We receive but little, and are nourished in the heart. It is not then what is seen, but what is believed, that feeds us. Therefore we too have not sought for that outward sense. UPDATE>>(Augustine, Sermon 62:5).
This is then to eat the meat, not that which perishes, but that which endures unto eternal life. To what purpose do you make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and you have eaten already. (Augustine, John: Tractate 25:12).
Another Educational Example
09/20/2006 - James WhiteI happened upon a new thread at the Catholic Answers Forums about Irenaeus. Since this had come up a few days ago, I clicked on it. Once again it had to do with Irenaeus' mistakenly trying to argue against the gnostics that Jesus had in essence recapitulated all the ages of man's life in Himself so that he died an older man, far older than the commonly accepted 33 years of age. The relevance of the issue is that Irenaeus is the first to lay claim to "apostolic tradition" as substantiation of his viewpoints. Since Rome would agree Irenaeus is in error, this raises a vital question: how could the very first claim of "apostolic tradition" give us a corrupt tradition? And if such "tradition" cannot survive to the end of the second century, how can anyone take seriously the claim that such dogmas as the Bodily Assumption of Mary, unknown for centuries longer, are actually "apostolic" in origin?
Well, as I noted a few days ago, Mark Bonocore, a Roman Catholic apologist, put forth a brave, but wholly erroneous, attempt to respond to my citation of this fact. I reviewed, and I believe, fully refuted, Bonocore's article here and here (and refuted another of his articles on the early church here). So what do I find in this new thread? Not only is the real argument completely missed by the various Roman Catholic writers, but as it stands right now, it currently ends with a reference to the very article by Bonocore that I refuted above, describing it as a "good article." I wonder how many there will bother to put "Bonocore + Irenaeus" into Google? Thankfully, the first two hits are to my blog. But see how a single response, even if refuted, just goes on and on and on?
Quick Update on the Catholic Forums
09/20/2006 - James WhiteThankfully, a few folks, even a few Roman Catholic folks, have spoken up and stated the obvious. Miki doesn't see how she has given herself and her compatriots a glowing black eye by her behavior, but others do. I have been saying for months that Rome's apologists seem to think a singular "reply" to a point is all that is needed. They seem to wish to borrow their own mis-understanding of "Rome has spoken, the case is closed," so as to apply it to themselves. "You've been refuted!" "Oh, have you read...?" "No, and I don't need to!" That's the prevalent behavior of those on these forums.
Ironically, I then get e-mails from folks complaining that "You always have to be right!" Does anyone else see the irony in a Roman Catholic, a follower of the allegedly infallible Papacy, making such a complaint? What would these folks have me to do? Person X, who has never taken the time to do original research or reading, accepts secondary and tertiary sources that say I have misrepresented Rome, lied about this, been refuted about that. I point out that I have, in fact, exercised great care to honor the truth in how I seek to represent others, that I have not lied about these issues, and that I have provided refutations of many who have sought to refute key points in our apologetic defense of our faith. Somehow, I am wrong to do this? I should allow false accusations to stand and this will somehow prove I'm a loving person?
One of the things that came out in Miki's comments on the program yesterday and that is representational of many others in the Catholic apologetics community is this: she mentioned purgatory as an example of where I have misrepresented Rome. Yet, when I pressed, what she really meant was that I say Rome is wrong about purgatory. The fact that in her thinking to disagree with Rome must mean that I am lying and dishonest needs to be understood. This explains the twisting of language itself and why she, and many others, do not even bother to show non-Catholics enough respect to read their primary works or check their facts. This also explains their willingness to use every form of ad-hominem argument, spread rumors without doing fact-checking, etc. It's ugly, but it is the way of Rome.
A Listing of My Insults!
09/19/2006 - James WhiteAs I'm working I'm monitoring the Catholic Answers Forums, and I just saw RyanL accuse me of hypocrisy. Now, there is no end to all the things people will accuse me of, but as we are finding out, these folks are very long on accusations, very short on documentation. But at least someone tried. Here is the post. Now, let's keep in mind the kind of stuff that is fired my direction by folks who do not even bother to read my materials or listen to my debates, and compare this list from RyanL. I'm downright proud of it. If this is the best they can come up with, well, for folks who are even slightly fair in their thinking, there is no comparison. Let's look quickly at the list.
First, I said Art Sippo misbehaved at our Toledo debate and that Art Sippo will insult you. RyanL, those are called completely documented facts. Do a search on "Sippo" on this blog for all the documentation of that you want. Ask anyone who has visited the Envoy forums about Art Sippo. Case closed. First example fails.
Second, in an article responding to a series of nastigrams from Roman Catholic apologists, I spoke of their intense hatred and emotionalism. Once again, facts are facts. Read what I'm responding to. Second example fails.
Third, responding to the same series of nastigrams, I spoke of their utter desperation. Again, read what I was responding to and see if the words are not true. And given that in each of these instances I am responding to ad-hominem, how can I even mount an argument about issues and facts when these men refuse to engage such things? Third example fails.
Next, I said no serious scholar of the Greek language would make the claims Tim Staples made. RyanL has the wrong source listed, but I was able to find the source document. As I expected, this was about Staples' misuse of the subjunctive, a common error of those who are not, in fact, scholars of the language. Colin Smith documented this fully in another article. Fourth example fails.
The next example was about Phil Porvaznik, and even Phil agreed it wasn't ad-hominem. I still have the video tapes of Gail Riplinger edited together with Monty Python Phil sent me years ago. I have the goods on him. I can insult him all I want, right Phil? Fifth example fails.
Last example given I said that I find the use of ad-hominem indicative of a lost cause. Yes, that's supposed to be ad-hominem itself. Needless to say, sixth example fails.
And that is all RyanL could come up with. Not a single one was even slightly relevant. The melt down continues....
Oh, by the way! Phil Porvaznik has extracted the Miki call today and posted it on his site in mp3 format. Here's the link. You know what is odd about Phil? He knows he can never engage the biblical issues. He doesn't even try. Might want to pray for that young man.
I Missed This One
09/19/2006 - James WhiteNot that it would have made any difference, but I might have been a little less willing to give her so much time. This was posted last evening:
Back in 1992, the likes of James White and Mark Martin did alot to confuse my faith and make my reversion back to the Church all the more difficult and painful because I had to go through one-by-one and undo all their lies before I could see the light. I know what that's like and even for the fact that Mr White is a pariah in the heady world of Prot apologia, there are still those innocents who unwittingly hang on his every word like gospel. I know what that's like--I remember. According to his blog (thanks to Jimmy Akin for giving me the head's up), I've evidentally never heard his program before--that's where he's wrong. And so, I'm agreeing to this farce of a "discussion" for the sakes of those who listen, not him. If Patty Bonds does even have a snowball's chance in chipping through her brother's overdone, self-aggrandising ego, then I'm not even going to bother. But I will bother for them.
Then I started reading down the list...more of the same kind of stuff, with one exception that I should point out. A fellow named David N. Silvey posted this:
Do you really believe that kind of language is charitable? Why can't people be respectful when talking about Mr. White? No, James is not perfect; he's made mistakes --- just like Catholic apologists. However, the kind of attacks people make on him on these forums are ridiculous. (Please note that I do not claim there is never some truth in the attacks.)Thank you Mr. Silvey! Sadly, his counsel was not heeded, as he himself would have to admit. So I get down to what was posted this morning, and discover this also coming from the pen of Miki:
By the way, have you seen White's blog recently? In three separate posts he has defended what Pope Benedict said about Islam during his speech.
Folks need to calm down when they talk about White --- or not talk about him at all.
For the record, I tried to post a bit about this last night, but my post was 300 characters too long and then my 'puter froze up. Suffice it to say that James White is seriously mistaken when he says I've never listened to one of his programs. Not the Dividing Line, but this is only a rehashing of all his past slanderous tripe from years gone by. I have not only listened to his tapes, but James himself put them in my hot little hands. I have not only met the guy face to face, but I've had him spittle all over my cute, pink dress as he was barring my entrance to Temple Square and telling me in no uncertain terms that "GOD will not be mocked, lady. YOU ARE GOING TO HELL!!!" Even while I was in a cult, he and his arguments did little to sway me.Now immediately, anyone at all familiar with me and our work in Salt Lake City knows that someone has passed the line of simple nastiness to downright dishonesty. This is just slanderous, and it is false. First, we didn't pass out tapes in Salt Lake City, we passed out tracts and, on a few rare occasions, a book (Letters to a Mormon Elder). Second, we never, ever blocked anyone's access to the Temple grounds--never. If anyone did something like that, it wasn't me, or any of our folks. Given Miki's admission that she has never even seen one of my debates, we could very well be looking at someone who doesn't even know who I am. But in any case, this story is starting to take on the aura of apocryphal fiction, to be sure. More outrageous silliness followed. One thing is for certain, truth lies fallen in the corridors of the Catholic Answers forums, and few there be who seem to mourn its passing. Here's the silliness.
And, yes, it was those same tapes, and those of Mark Martin at Phoenix Calvary Chapel and the rantings of Tommy Barnett at Cave Creek Assemblies of God, which were the impetus for me to study the ECF's and find out what they really said--not what (especially) Martin and White redacted them to say to fit their own agendas. I played them over and over and over again--and I am sincerely amused to learn, in reading James' site last week, that nothing at all has changed.
More from our Roman Catholic Fans
09/14/2006 - James White
My Dearest James: I met your sister not long ago and was intrigued to find out who her brother is. Incidentally, when I was young and stupid and didn't have a proper religious education, I used to listen to you and read your books and articles--and *then* I read the Early Fathers and Eusebius and discovered the *real* truth...that you don't (and never have) have a clue what the "truth" is. The Truth, Love, is Catholic(since that *is* the New testament Church)--and the sooner you quit with the arrogant, misological pride and shenanigans, the better off you will be. So,my actual purpose for writing, I just wanted you to know that I just finished reading your site section on Catholicism and, minus the *egregious* errors and misrepresentations which you present as "facts", I found it to be uproariously entertaining! Not very informative, but *blissfully* funny for all of its ascerbic ranting blowhard-ness and Scriptural cluelessness. The reason your audience is "getting smaller", James, is because they *are* listening to GOD--and He doesn't like His lambs being poisoned with lies like yours. If your audience is as small and smaller, as you say it is, it's because that is *His* Will. Praise GOD for small favours!!! Anyway, thanks so much for the laughs--it's been very entertaining--this site is as funny to read as a Watchtower magazine! (I'm in tears and my jaw aches! ;O) ).... In His Grace, and praying for your conversion, Miki
I am so glad you are no longer young and stupid and now have proper religious education! For, since you are now mature and smart and educated, you should be able to provide the answers that would demonstrate that your e-mail to me is something more than a passing taunt. Surely, if you can use such strong language, you can actually back up your statements, correct?
Please be aware that over the years I have gotten many e-mails like yours, but, for some odd reason, when I actually seek to engage the folks who write them, all of a sudden they find something else to be doing! It seems many in your camp are very long on allegations, but very short on substance. But, you are educated and older and smart, so I'm sure this will not be the case with you, dearest Miki.
Could you tell me about the portion of your education that gave you the ability to see into the hearts of others? I missed that part in mine. In fact, mine taught me just the opposite, which is why I tend to focus upon mundane things like facts and try to avoid that mind-reading business. I know, that makes my writing so much less interesting to most these days, who prefer mind-reading over factuality.
Let me give you an example from the material you said gave you such a wonderful chuckle. It would seem most appropriate to look at this article, wherein I interacted with an article by Karl Keating a number of years ago. You will notice that I did not base my arguments upon trying to mind-read Karl Keating. I cited his own published words, and provided argumentation and documentation that refutes his assertions. Since you have grown up and read the early Church writers, now, you should be able to go through this article and demonstrate its many silly errors, right? Surely! So, could I ask you to do so? You could do so in writing, or, if you would like, you could give me a call on The Dividing Line so that my audience can be "uproariously entertained" as well! Think of the service you'd be doing for folks!
Now if that article does not make you laugh hysterically enough, maybe this one will, for it sure seemed to tickle Peter Stravinskas when I pointed out its conclusions to him in our debate on purgatory a few years ago. I'm sure someone as smart and educated as you should be able to blow holes through that one!
So, if you can stop laughing long enough to demonstrate how mature and educated and smart you are, I'd love to hear from you. The number for the program is 877-753-3341. We even have a live program today, if your jaw has recovered enough to talk on the phone. But I sure hope you will not turn out to be another drive-by poster who sends in a mocking e-mail that upon examination hasn't an ounce of substance to it. That would only encourage me in my belief that you folks really don't know how to engage in serious apologetic interaction, and you wouldn't want to be doing that! So I look forward to hearing from you, dearest Miki!
Is Rome Really Changing? Or Have Post-Evangelicals Lost Their Foundation?
09/02/2006 - James WhiteHere is an article about Pope Benedict (evidently I really dislike that name, maybe because of its association with 'Benedict Arnold,' as I often inadvertently replace it with "Boniface" from church history) visiting "Veronica's Veil," the 13th century "relic" claimed to have been used by "St. Veronica" to wipe Jesus' face as He walked to the cross (a scene you may well remember graphically portrayed in Mel Gibson's The Passion). "We are all looking for the face of the Lord as this is the meaning of my visit to Manoppello" the Pope said. The article has a picture of the Pope before this relic.
This kind of "spirituality" is quite popular across the spectrum today, and what truly showed through plainly last year when the Pope died was how post-evangelicals have completely lost all contact with historical doctrine and a meaningful understanding of things like "idolatry" or "the glory of God." I was not at all shocked at how Roman Catholics responded to the Pope's death last year; I was, however, deeply disturbed by how non-Catholics who proclaim themselves to be faithful to biblical truth were willing to close their eyes to the reality of the Pope's teachings in light of Scripture itself. We are so "PC" today we fear speaking in accordance with God's Word! While a picture like that in the article would have been seen as clear evidence of the Pope's deception a hundred years ago, today you will hardly find any serious "Protestant" leader criticizing such activities, and those who generally do speak to the issue will be those who will not provide the kind of biblical basis that is consistent and thorough.