Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
OK, Enough is Enough Already!
08/31/2007 - James WhiteA&O is a small, non-profit organization. Though we have been around 24 years now, we remain a small, two-man operation. Though you hardly ever hear us talking about it, we are, in fact, dependent upon the gifts of those who find our work useful, encouraging, and beneficial. And yes, we could always use a lot more support than we have. I tend to offend the large portion of the religious world, so, those who agree with what we are doing and why we do it need to know we depend on your support to keep the ministry going.
Now why do I mention this today? Sure, its late Summer, and you may have noticed every ministry on the radio or television is yelping about funds. But that's not why I mentioned our status as a small, donor-supported work. I mention it because I rarely say anything about the fund-raising letters I myself receive. I just don't get into criticizing others despite the fact that you have never gotten a phone call from a fund raiser during dinner trying to get you to give money to A&O (nor will you!). I could offer such criticism, but I haven't.
But this morning I got the sixth copy of the same fund-raising e-mail from Catholic Answers, and well, enough is enough already! I mean, CA has a multi-million dollar a year budget, a staff ten times the size of ours, they have often with great humility (cough) noted that ministries like mine are small in comparison with theirs, so when I get the sixth e-mail pleading for me to help them through their dry spell---enough is enough! The letter has the title "This is the letter I didn't want to write, but I have to..." Here's how it starts:
Dear Friend of Catholic Answers,
It hurts me to write this letter to you.
But I'm afraid I have no choice.
You see, in the last three months, Catholic Answers has been hit by one of the worst financial slumps in its history.
Quite simply, we are almost completely out of money and I dont have anyone to turn to but you.
I cant go to banks for a loan. They dont make loans to non-profit organizations like ours.
I cant go to foundations for a grant. They require six months to a year before they make their grant decisions.
And I dont have any rich uncles I can turn to, either.
I have only you.
And I need you to come through for us like never before, because this is one of our worst summers ever.
So we are told that they need a quarter of a million dollars, "fast." All their projects are on hold. And what are these vital projects?
All of our projects are starving for money right now.Aaah! Not perverse anti-Catholic Protestant Fundamentalists! And how much do they need to fight off the legions of Jack Chick fans? $75,000.00! I remember when Rich and I went to Denver for World Youth day back in 1993. Might have cost $750.00, and we barely had that! I guess when you live in San Diego, everything costs ten times as much. Then there is $5,000 a week for CA Live! Evidently, the Staples/Gregg "debate" bundled with the Bible Answer Man NON-Debate just isn't cutting the financial butter.
For instance, were gearing up to go to World Youth Day in July to protect our Catholic youth from the perverse influences of anti-Catholic Protestant Fundamentalists as well as Catholic dissenters such as Catholics for a Free Choice.
So to the folks in the CA fund raising department: enough already. Don't you think the first three or four copies were sufficient to make your point? Is six really going to make a difference? Cut it out already. Have you considered maybe doing some real debates and making them available? You know, debates on the real issues where you actually prove your case? There's an idea!
David King and Sola Scriptura Today on Iron Sharpens Iron
08/30/2007 - James WhiteDavid King, co-author of the three-volume set, Holy Scripture, was Chris Arnzen's guest today on Iron Sharpens Iron. Click here to listen to their discussion of sola scriptura.
Discussed the "Top Ten List" on ISI Today (Updated with Ignatius Audio)
08/29/2007 - James WhiteI joined Chris Arnzen on Iron Sharpens Iron today to discuss the Top Ten Questions to ask of the convert to Roman Catholicism. I linked to the program before I went on, and I think as a result we got a call from a convert named Clare from Virginia. We had an interesting and I think quite revealing discussion, starting, as I recall, about twenty minutes into the program, which is found here. The conversation reminded me a little of this one. The abuse of poor Ignatius is very common, sadly. I discussed this very passage rather fully a few years ago on the Dividing Line. I was teaching a class at Golden Gate at the time on Patristic Theology. Here's the program. Almost a full hour of discussion of the direct text of Ignatius, in its original context. I ask: how many Roman Catholic apologists offer that kind of discussion? Could they do so? I would invite Clare to listen to the program. Get hold of the actual text, in its entirety, and follow along.
In any case, congratulations to Chris Arnzen on his first anniversary on Iron Sharpens Iron!
08/28/2007 - James WhiteA brother shared his journey in removing his name officially from the rolls of the Roman Church. Arrivederci Roma! Some others may wish to follow the same course--who knows, you might get to proclaim the gospel in the process!
A Triablogue Classic
08/27/2007 - James WhiteFor background: Apolonio Latar is a 22 year old student at Rutgers. His estimation of himself, and his intellect, has grown exponentially over the past few years (we have known him since he was but a teenager). There is no person wiser than a 22 year old philosophy student. Trust me. And there are few less employable folks, either. But anyway...Apolonio was waxing eloquently on the general uselessness and stupidity of yours truly, and Steve Hays decided to...respond. Thanks Steve.
What Steve Ray Doesn't Want You To Think About
08/27/2007 - James WhiteSteve Ray won't give up. I have never seen such a dogged attempt to avoid admitting, "OK, I am wrong." Here is page 16 from The World Christian Encyclopedia:
Click here for an image twice the size and, at least on my system, actually readable despite the pdf shading. Here is Ray's version.
Please note what this material, which Ray claims he has always possessed, says. Here you have the Protestant denominations listed. Let's pass over all the discussion I've offered of the inclusion of non-Trinitarians in the list, or how irrelevant sola scriptura actually is to how these denominations arose. Here are the facts Steve Ray knows, but won't discuss:
FACT: This source lists 27 Protestant groups.
FACT: This source lists 8,973 "denominations" under "Protestant"
So what does he do when he has been all along claiming the 33,000 number represents Protestants derived from the Reformation due to sola scriptura? What does he do? Well, he takes the Protestant category, lumps the "Independents" in as "Protestants" (including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Gnostics, Bogomils, and even Swedenborgianists!), then, so desperate is the man, he then grabs such groups as "Arab radio/TV network" (19 denominations worth!) and "Japanese Oneness Pentecostal" (14 denominations worth) to help pad his numbers! And so while his source limited "Protestant" to 8973 (third column from the right in the graphic I am providing), Ray ignores the delineations of the source itself, ignores that the 33,000 number included Rome and the Orthodox, ignores that 2/3 of the "denominations" are not even identified as historic denominations, ignores that sola scriptura had absolutely nothing to do with the founding of such groups as Mormonism (think about that one a second and try not to laugh), and has the temerity to post this:
My Sincere Apology:Just in passing, Ray's numbers are wrong. It's a 5.6% error, not a 0.056% error. (Hat Tip Mylo Hatzenbuhler!)
So, what do we have? Cut out the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Marginal Christian groups and you end up with 31,121 Protestant and Independent Protestant denominations. So, I sincerely apologize for being 1,879 too high when I said the number was 33,000. That works out to 0.056% in error. You all have my sincere apology :-)
However, by now, 7 years beyond 2,000 AD, I suspect my number is now too low and maybe I should raise it to 39,000, the number listed on the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary site.
In fact, if you will go through the listing of some of the other groups Ray wants to drop into the "Protestant" category and blame on sola scriptura and the Reformation, we will need to include (from the very same source he is citing):
- British Israelite (8 denominations)
- Afro-Caribbean Zionist (only one of them, but surely due to sola scriptura!)
- Gay/Lesbian homosexual tradition (Yeah, right).
- White-led Word of Faith/Prosperity (17 denominations)
- Latin-rite Catholic (Yeah, they are Protestants)
- Independent Jehovah's Witnesses (8 denominations)
- No-Church Movement
- Old Catholic (26 denominations laid at the feet of sola scriptura)
- Isolated Radio Churches (I just report the facts)
- Single Congregation(s): one single autonomous congregation (I guess this was the "it doesn't fit anywhere else" category--and, of course, this is due to sola scriptura too!)
Well, what do you say in response to all of that? You can say, "Steve Ray does not want to relinquish the baseball bat he has been using to smash non-Catholics over the head, despite the fact that it has no meaning to any serious-minded individual."
Obviously, we will not get any honesty out of Ray about his error. He is willing to throw his integrity under the bus in the face of overwhelming documentation and respond with laughter and mockery. It is the way of the Catholic Convert, evidently.
But let's consider this. Ray posted a link to page 11 of this same source, which I had mentioned in my first response on this topic. On that page you will find the following graphic. This is a listing of who has killed the most Christians over the history of the church. You will note that the vast majority have come from secular governments (communism was, and still is, great at creating martyrs). Islam is no slouch either. But there in the #5 slot is none other than Rome herself, with the blood of nearly 5 million martyrs on her hands.
My point is not to defend this source's claim at this point. Ray cites the source, he must believe it! But in any case, let's say I were to go about for a lengthy period of time claiming that Roman Catholicism is guilty of murdering 18 million martyrs, and I cited this source as my basis for so doing. And so finally one day, someone tired of hearing this argument, went to the source and said, "Hey, wait a minute---the source says 4.95 million martyrs, not 18. You have inflated the number by 3.6x! The actual number cited is much smaller!" Now, what if I replied with something like this, "Oh, so you think 4.95 million is good! What a horrible person you are! Don't you know even one martyr is too many? And besides, it lists Eastern Orthodox as killing 600,000, and we know they are really just Catholics at heart, you know! And those animists bow down to statues just like Roman Catholics do! So you see, if you put those numbers together...." Would any Roman Catholic in their right mind accept such argumentation? I would surely hope not! And yet, that is exactly what we have coming from Steve Ray, with the complicit assistance of a whole range of his compatriots in the Roman Catholic apologetics movement.
So really, if they are willing to blame the "Gay/Lesbian homosexual tradition" along with the Mormons on sola scriptura, what does this say about their reasoning and argumentation in general? Are you led to believe they are doing their homework to accurately represent, say, the early church writers, when they are willing to seriously suggest that groups as disparate as these are somehow related?
Steve Ray Posts His "Reply": A Study in Dishonesty
08/27/2007 - James WhiteLast evening I made a prediction that Steve Ray would find a way to run from the documentation of his error regarding the oft-repeated false assertion that the World Christian Encyclopedia says that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations. This is a documented falsehood. It doesn't. But Steve Ray is a fundamentalist Romanist--he still has the same mind set he had as a fundamentalist, but now he serves Rome, and just as the worst fundamentalist will refuse to accept the reality of his errors (Texe Marrs is a good example of this mindset, remember Revelation 1, 1, 1?), so too Steve Ray is loath to admit that he is simply wrong on this issue, despite the overwhelming documentation. I predicted, on the basis of his blog post, that he would attempt to spin the issue, ignore the documentation of his falsehood, and try to rally his troops with something along the lines of "James White thinks 9000 denominations is OK!" The absurdity of such a dishonest act of desperation might cause someone to chuckle, but it is the only option open to the person who thinks admission of error is tantamount to failure in the service of Rome.
Steve Ray has posted a response on the denominations issue. He has linked to it twice in this blog article. Initially, both links took you to a small graphic, not to his response. Just as I finished this article, the link changed, pointing now to a pdf of his reply. I will comment on the reply briefly below.
What he has actually posted in this blog article is more than enough to demonstrate that he is intent upon engaging in the most egregious forms of spin and smoke-and-mirrors to attempt to rescue any shred of credibility he might have as an apologist. He starts out by announcing that he is off on another pilgrimage! Bon voyage! Enjoy! But then he writes,
In the meantime, this morning I post here my response to the discussion on the number of denominations in the world today and how sola Scriptura has been a huge factor in causing, or at least, facilitating this scandalous situation. Accusing me of "spinning," the issue, James White has already started the real spin to make it sound like denominationalism and schism and factions are just fine and to remove the onus from Protestants to stop the factions, infighting to stop the scandal.It is dishonest at best for Ray to falsely accuse me of saying things I have never said, and adopting positions I have never endorsed, promoted, or enunciated. It is even worse that any fair review of my published works documents that I have written often in defense of a biblical view of the church and against the abuses of the church rampant today. Notice the difference between the defender of Rome and the biblical apologist: when I addressed Rays Marian assertions, I cited him, directly. When I documented his error on the 33,000 denominations, I cited him directly. Truth has that nature: it can provide documentation, evidence. When representing others, the truthful writer can quote that person, in context. Steve Ray can't do that. Why? Because he's peddling lies, and he is fully aware of it. This is not just a mistake on his part, he is purposefully lying to his readers. He is banking on them never checking him out, trusting him implicitly, sort of like they trust their priest, or the Pope. He knows that many of his readers are already so prejudiced, so biased, that the facts of the matter do not even enter the picture. As long as it is about James White, well, it must be true. So he doesn't need to quote me. He can't. He knows it. But it doesn't matter. Fundie Romanist apologists don't have to quote sources. "Rome is Right--Be Happy" doesn't require a very high standard of documentation and argumentation.
So how do Romanists get around being refuted? Attack the person who refuted you. Call him a "petty pope" and liken him to a "rabid dog." Then change the subject. Make something up like "He thinks its great for there to be division in the body of Christ!" and hope your followers are as utterly unconcerned about the truth as you are, and that they will just applaud your brilliance and move on to the next pilgrimage, buy the next DVD you crank out, order your next convert-story book, and keep the donations coming.
Ray claims I am trying to divert attention from his 30 page response. I guess that's why I referred to an outline of how to respond to it last evening? Ironically, when I first wrote a single paragraph in response to Ray's "logic" in defense of the Assumption and coronation of Mary, he immediately complained that people were demanding he respond right now! Of course, I never made any such demand. But, when he pastes together a response that covers half a dozen topics, co-authored as well by Gary Michuta, I am supposed to drop everything Im doing and respond in full immediately! If I do respond to him quickly, I'm ranting and raving. If I take any time, I'm trying to divert attention. Get the idea? It doesn't matter what I say or what I do, Ray's fundamentalist mindset will find a way to accuse me of something along the way. Will it matter when I do complete my refutation of his paper? Will he interact with any documentation of his errors? Of course not! Just as Dave Hunt's book is still being printed with its wide-eyed promotion of the "Hebrew original of Acts 1-15" in its vain attempt to get around Acts 13:48, so too Ray will simply find himself too busy with another wonderful DVD, another pilgrimage coming up, to worry about the rantings of a "rabid dog." Ah, the glory of Romanism.
The real irony is that anyone who is serious about interaction with me knows how often I have spoken against church hopping and church shopping. One of my most recent books is titled Pulpit Crimes, and, of course, Ray hasn't read a word of it. He assumes anyone who opposes Rome was as ignorant of the issues as he was as a fundamentalist. He has no idea how to deal with someone such as myself, so, he refuses to do so. He creates a straw-man that looks just like him in his pre-conversion to Rome days, and demands I fit his mold. Well, once again, I see into the world of the Catholic convert, and I am repulsed. It is revolting because I hold dear something that is simply unknown in that world: a love for the truth.
Update on the provision of the actual document. As I noted above, when Ray posted his article, the "here" link went to a small graphic, not the pdf. Having now obtained the pdf, I can honestly say it is one of the most glowing examples of spin you will ever read. Steve Ray should run for office. He has the mind of a politician. Refuted on a point? Shown to be wrong? Obfuscate! Don't provide scans of the actual page that shows the source's listing of Protestant denominations! No, provide scans of other pages without the explanation that comes later! Good work, Steve! Downright Jesuit of you! Join this with enough smoke and mirrors about the unity of the church and you will definitely keep your most dogged supporters on your pilgrimages and buying your DVDs for sure! Of course, the person who is actually concerned about truth, and who wants to know if you will honestly admit that you have been using a number that is over 300% above even the number in your actual source, which you claim to own, now have their response: no, you will not even admit to misrepresenting documented facts! You are as infallible as your leader, it seems---and to help to cover up that little fact, make sure to accuse me of being a pope while you are at it! Always best to throw around the demeaning ad-hominem just to keep your followers happy...and distracted.
I can't help but look at the bright side of this situation. Yes, it is always sad to see anyone sell themselves out to error and engage in this kind of gross dishonesty. But you see, the kind of person who will be influenced by this kind of outrageously facile rhetoric isn't going to be overly impacted by what I have to say anyway. Those are not the folks I believe I am called to help. The serious minded person who truly wants to think through the issues and hear both sides cannot help but be repelled by the specter of a Steve Ray. If his behavior is representative of what it takes to be a catholic convert, he has done a great service to those who love the truth by warning them off. And the fact that other Catholic apologists who well know the truth of this matter are sitting on their hands, looking the other direction, only proves my point.
Hello Envoy! Here's Another One You Can't Link To!
08/26/2007 - James SwanCatholic apologist Patrick Madrid recently put up some comments via the Envoy forum on my earlier post. Of course, Patrick can't inform the Envoy crowd exactly where my words were located, because he's banned links to aomin. To my recollection, Patrick has not explained why, but my guess would be this article from Dr.White has something to do with it (the folks over on Envoy probably wouldn't read it anyway).
Patrick thinks I'm obsessed with the Envoy forum. I believe he has visited my blog, but perhaps he didn't notice I link to many Catholic discussion forums (as well as Catholic blogs, magazines, the Catholic Encyclopedia, and the Catechism). I have interest in Roman Catholicism, particularly because of my interest in the Reformation. Since the most vocal opponents of the Reformation are the new breed of pop-Catholic apologists, I keep up with their doings, and they are typically interesting (to put it as politely as possible).
That being said, Patrick fails to realize the Envoy boards tend to provide more humor, irony, and nonsense than any of the other Catholic discussion boards I'm aware of. The Envoy forum is one of those places just to the left of the Twilight Zone. It's one of those places in which vitriol and insults are allowed (compliments of Dr. Sippo and Jerry Jet) while other people are banned simply for respectfully providing counter information. If indeed the person banned from Envoy that I mentioned was banned for profanity and not for sedevacantism, we can at least conclude at times, Envoy actually has some sort of moral code they selectively use. Kudos to their moderators for actually being able to discriminate between right and wrong every so often. Now, maybe they could take a small step forward and apply some higher moral standards to some of their other participants.
But really, the main point of my earlier entry had more to do with the current way Catholic apologetics understand those (like myself) who are not Roman Catholic. I say current, because historically, the way Catholics previously understood non-Catholics was different. Based on this changing paradigm and the ever-changing decrees from the Command Center in Rome, who knows how non-Catholics will be viewed twenty years from now?
In his debate with Dr. White, Madrid said, "I know that many of you are not Catholic and I know that many of you run the risk of going to Hell if you do not accept the truth that Jesus Christ is offering to you."
Here is my point of contention: Madrid tells his hearers at the debate that they are in danger of Hell if they do not accept Roman Catholicism. Now, when I witness to someone who is not a Christian, if they reject my message, often they do not believe what I'm saying is true. Hence, they reject the truth by willfully believing it is not the truth. Interpreted this way, when Madrid makes his plea, I assume those non-Catholics in the audience reject his position because they do not believe his position is the truth. Hence, they are not rejecting truth they know is true, they are rejecting Madrid's position because they think it is false.
Madrid's recent Envoy post though explains:
"Anyway, I absolutely stand by my comments in that SS debate about the eternal danger of willfully ignoring and/or rejecting the truth of the Catholic Church."
"My closing remarks in that debate focused on the danger of going to hell that someone who knowingly rejects the truth when he has been confronted with it."
"As I said, I absolutely stand by those comments I made at that debate regarding the danger of rejecting the truth. And, to emphasize that the fallacious conclusions Swan drew from all this were completely off target (nothing new there)... "The clarification I would ask of Madrid is simple. I have run into more than one Roman Catholic accepting me as a separated brother (even Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong used to try this line of reasoning with me, in the hopes I would likewise affirm him as my Christian brother). The usual line of reasoning is thus: I am considered to be a separated brother because I do not believe the Roman Catholic Church and her authority claims are the truth. Hence, I am not willfully rejecting the truth, because I don't believe the Roman position is the truth! Mr. Madrid, I need you to infallibly interpret your statements for me: if I don't believe the Roman Catholic Truth claims, am I rejecting the truth, and thus doomed to Hell, or am I separated brother who doesn't know any better, living in ignorance of the truth?
I'm sure some of you have a headache from all this. But Madrid probably affirms that I'm simply an ignorant separated brother, based on his posted citation from Lumen Gentium 14:
"Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it".
If Madrid's position is as I've explained it, take a moment to contrast this type of reasoning with the Bible:
"I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! "(Galatians 1:6-8)
Let the Spin Begin
08/26/2007 - James WhiteWhat do you do when documentation is provided that you have clearly, repeatedly promoted falsehood in defense of your faith? The honest man admits his mistake. But the politician spins the facts. "Oh, I didn't mean it that way." "But you said...." "Let's not be focused on the past!" We see it every day as politicians demonstrate that truth is not their highest goal. And we see it when proponents of false religions spin the truth in the service of falsehood.
Steve Ray has begun the spin process on his blog in an effort, it seems, to avoid the obvious conclusion that he has been in error, repeatedly, in claiming that sola scriptura has lead to 33,000 denominations since the Reformation, and citing the World Christian Encyclopediaas his source. This source does not say this. No reading of this source could ever lead anyone to this conclusion. It is simply deceptive. Ray may well have been misled by someone else, and simply did not bother to look it up himself. It doesn't matter. It's a falsehood, and that has been documented beyond all question.
So what will Steve Ray do now? Well, he could come clean, admit the fact, and move on. But Steve Ray's personal animosity toward me evidently precludes that path. So instead, it seems at least a part of the spin is going to come in the form of, "Oh, so 9,000 denominations is OK?" Evidently, the hope is that no one will care that the number he's been using is over three times larger than the listed number---its still big enough, when compared to our wonderful undivided unity! Why do I say this is one of the directions he is going to go? Well, because he has said so on his blog:
Enjoy this article as a preface to my upcoming response to the charge that all of us apologists are liars and deceivers who are naughty because we say the number of Protestant denominations is very high and that the huge numbers of competing, sheep-stealing denominations is damaging the integrity of the Christian faith in the world today.Did you catch that? Notice how Ray has shifted from "33,000 denominations due to sola scriptura from the Reformation" to "the number of Protestant denominations is high." Are these equivalent statements? Surely not. But, of course, no one would argue that the number of Protestant denominations is a good thing, anymore than anyone would argue the massive range of views expressed within Roman Catholicism is a good thing, either. But let's keep our eye on the ball: even if you accept the much smaller number listed in the book of actual Protestant denominations,it would be dependent upon Ray to demonstrate that it was the consistent application of sola scriptura that resulted in these divisions. One of the groups listed by Barrett/Kurian/Johnson under Protestants is "Oneness Pentecostal/Jesus Only." These are the non-Trinitarians who arose out of the Assemblies of God. Is Ray going to argue that it is the fault of sola scriptura that non-Trinitarians promote a heresy today that preceded even the Council of Nicea in church history?
I might pause here a moment to note an interesting theory that has been put forth by some Roman Catholics regarding the 242 Roman Catholic denominations number. They have asserted that this refers to nations, i.e., one Roman Catholic church per nation. This may well be the case. And if it is, lets apply this to the Protestant numbers. This would mean that Protestant groups with less than 242 denominations listed would not be world-wide in their distribution; those with more would have more than one denomination in certain countries. This seems to make some sense in reading the data given by Barrett/Kurian/Johnson. But think about what this means as well: if taking this into consideration reduces the Roman Catholic numbers down to in essence one, it would likewise greatly reduce the Protestant numbers as well, would it not? In fact, if that is the case, then the actual number of Protestant denominations would be less than a hundred. Only 27 groups are listed under Protestant in this source. Most of these have very small numbers, i.e., they are very limited in their distribution. Few have more than 242 denominations listed. Hence, though merely dividing 8,973 by 242would give us too low a number (this results in 37), the realistic number would be between this number and about 100 or so, using the same logic by which the Roman Catholic number is reduced to one.
Returning to Ray's spin, here is where he signals clearly the direction he is going:
A certain antagonist, who remains unnamed, says apologists are naughty and ought to apologize for saying there are 33,000 denominations. He stated in a recent blog that statistics state the number of denominations are actually only about 9,000 which apparently is a an [sic] acceptable number to him.
Duhh, as if the staggering number of 9,000 the scandalous escalation fragmentation acceptable in God's eyes. So, it's OK to have "only" 9,000 competing, sheep-stealing, chaotic denominations who disagree on just about everything and disregard the expressed desire of Jesus the we be one, like He and the Father are one "perfected in unity."
Of course, now if we apologists use the number is well with the world and Christendom (and our Antagonist If we reduce our number down a bit -- say,down to 9,000 -- it will all be OK in God's eyes. God will sleep better tonight knowing it is only 9,000.
How many more than "one body, one church" is too many? Ask Our Lord!
See the spin? It is not done very well, but when you've been so clearly refuted, there is not much more you can do than to play games like this. Notice he never once accurately represents even his own words (how difficult it must be to engage in such self-deception!) he is the one who has said that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations, not just 33,000 denominations. The term naughty is his own lame attempt at mockery as a means of avoiding admission of his error.
But the real smoke-blowing spin attempt is clearly seen here: he is actually so desperate that he is willing to dishonestly assert that I somehow am arguing that 9,000 denominations is acceptable. Of course, I never made such a statement, and no honest person could ever bring himself to say such a thing, but as I have pointed out, it is the essence of Romanism to defend Rome at all costs, and one's personal integrity and honesty is surely the first casualty.
And so we see Steve Ray giving us a glowing example of what it is like to give your all in defense of Rome. How far will this go? It is hard to say. The facts are not in dispute, but will Ray ever actually deal with the facts in an honest fashion? Given what we've seen from him so far, there is little reason to hope for much better.
I wonder where the honest Roman Catholic apologists are? Why aren't they writing to Ray, encouraging him to honestly admit his error, apologize, and withdraw his claims? I'd like to think someone is doing that, but if they are, I don't know about it. I've surely seen no public calls from the other side of the Tiber for honesty here. If someone knows of any, please let me know.
Surely, if we get this kind of spin from Ray on a simple factual matter that can be documented from a source that is modern and widely available, one has to wonder how much spin the rest of Ray's work exhibits? Well, we shall surely find out as I begin my response to his thirty-page reply on the Assumption topic. Those who have read it know that only a portion of it is directly on the topic of the Assumption. The rest is prolegomena. But it is interesting, and useful, to respond to it as well. So, we will be dealing with Ray's many misrepresentations of, and irrelevant arguments against, sola scriptura.
There is one thing to keep in mind, however, as we review Ray's response. Rome has defined the Assumption as a dogma not a pious suggestion. There is a difference. We will start by defining that difference and pointing out the standards that dogma would put upon the defender of Rome, and how nothing Ray has provided comes close to providing the foundation needed for a de fide dogma.
A New Convert Answers the Top Ten List
08/26/2007 - James WhiteI am thankful to TurrentinFan for noting this response to my blog article providing ten questions for a potential convert to answer regarding their conversion process to Romanism.
I have often pointed to the highly emotional nature of the vast majority of conversion stories to Rome, and have discussed the fact that conversions, per se, do not surprise me in the last. The less biblically sound and grounded post-evangelicalism becomes, the more common such movement in the various religions of men will be. Given how widely disseminated that one little blog post was (it even made the front page of monergism.com!), a brief review of this one convert's response may assist others in evaluating the relevant issues.
10) Have you listened to both sides? That is, have you done more than read Rome Sweet Home and listen to a few emotion-tugging conversion stories? Have you actually taken the time to find sound, serious responses to Rome's claims, those offered by writers ever since the Reformation, such as Goode, Whitaker, Salmon, and modern writers? I specifically exclude from this list anything by Jack Chick and Dave Hunt.
This just seems so insulting. Mr White has interacted with so many converts. I doubt he really listens to any of them. I wrestled with these questions for years. I did seek out debates.It was hard tofrom many of the protestants I respect the most because they either ignore the questions altogether or they give a shallow response that has beenrefuted many times.The ones I did find were just not convincing. James White is one of the few that has frequently debated Catholics. I was frustrated by him because his skill was in ducking the questions and not answering them. He would sound good but whenyou reflect on what he said you realized he didnt really answer the difficulty. He just smoothlythe rhetorical pin.
Notice how the very first response bristles with emotion. The convert is intent upon taking everything personally, looking to be offended, so as to avoid, it seems to me, the actual force of the questions themselves. Now, in essence, the response here is "I couldn't find any decent answers." I'm sorry, but that is really hard to believe. Surely it might be that this person struggled to locate good resources, for surely, they are not exactly lining the shelves of the local Christian bookstore (which probably wouldn't carry them anyway anymore). But anyone who can simply dismiss a Whitaker or a Goode or a Salmon as "shallow" is not really engaging the subject meaningfully. And as to the accusation against me, once again, as we had with Guardian's rhetoric which required him to request 90 days to come up with some substantiation to his allegations, we are given the accusation, but no examples. I post videos of the cross-examinations we do right here on the blog. If I was "dodging" questions all the time, why would I do that? But if it is actually my opponents doing the dodging, well, that changes the picture. So without examples, we only have the one side, which makes the debates available for all, and the other side's unsubstantiated accusations.
Now here is a fascinating assertion! Obviously, I was referring to an objective history that is not simply seeking to substantiate one particular viewpoint. But it is fascinating to see this kind of radical skepticism being applied even to Scripture, so that "every view of Scripture is subjective." That is, evidently, Scripture has no objective meaning! I wonder how far our convert will be able to take this radical skepticism of his?9) Have you read an objective history of the early church? I refer to one that would explain the great diversity of viewpoints to be found in the writings of the first centuries, and that accurately explains the controversies, struggles, successes and failures of those early believers?
This just does not exist. Every view of history is subjective. Just like every view of scripture is subjective.
I did seek out debates. I never like debates about the fathers because the protestants would always embarrass themselves.Now there is an objective, fair, unbiased, unprejudiced conclusion! Aside from my debates, who else might be in view? Eric Svendsen? Again, no examples are provided. I have often written to converts who have written to me and in 98% of those encounters my challenge to provide examples in support of this kind of accusation goes unanswered.
Even the terms of the debate were revealing. Often it would involve one father on one issue both chosen by the protestant. Essentially claiming there was a puddle of Protestantism in the ocean of early church Catholicism. Then they would even fail to defend that claim. They would just get creamed in debate.It is very hard to figure out what our convert is talking about here, and without even a single example, we are truly left with little grounds for response. But it did inspire me to break out the 1998 debate on the Papacy, which contained a fair amount of patristic discussion, and record the following clip, just to let the readers have a taste of just how horrible and bad we Protestants are when it comes to church history:
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Phil Porvaznik Convinces Me that "Romanism" Is Indeed the Proper Identifier of His Religion
08/25/2007 - James WhiteIn generations past the term "Romanism" was used to identify those who make the bishop of Rome, whom they call "the Pope," the central figure in Christianity. Since Rome claimed ultimacy in all things ecclesiastical, epistemological, theological--then it seemed quite appropriate to identify those who serve Rome, defend Rome, seek to make converts to Rome, as...Romanists.
Today political correctness has neutered most in Western civilizations. The last thing you ever want to do is offend someone, so, when a description is just too accurate, you claim you are offended by it, and voila! It is gone! Look at the abuse of this concept in such terms as "homophobia" and "Islamophobia."
Jim Swan has documented in some of his recent blog articles the fact that in modern Roman Catholic apologetics, it is conversion to Rome that is the be-all of all things. It is not conversion to Christ, but conversion to Rome, that is sought. Rome is the goal. He is quite right in his observations.
Over the past few weeks as we have again observed the incredible double standards that mark the modern Roman Catholic apologetics movement (they are Catholic apologists, the rest are all anti-Catholics; they are charitable while using every insult you can use without triggering profanity filters, anyone else is uncharitable even when focused solely upon the issues, etc.). The common theme for them all is easy to identify: as long as it promotes Rome, it is good; if it doesn't, it is bad. Rome again defines the core of their worldview.
A few days ago I posted factual information demonstrating that the claim that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations arising from the Reformation is utterly bogus. I documented that the source "cited" lists less than 9000 Protestant denominations, and that even this number is obviously 1) inflated as far as any meaningful use of the term "denomination" is concerned, 2) errant, since it includes non-Trinitarians, and 3) ridiculously irrelevant to the issue of sola scriptura. I pointed out that the actual number listed in the source is only 27% of 33,000, and I likewise noted that included in the 33,000 number are groups such as "Gnostics" (yeah, they came out of the Reformation, and they practice sola scriptura!), Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses.
I have been informed that Steve Ray is writing a response. I should hope so. The only appropriate response from Steve Ray, of course, is, "I am very sorry I have so consistently and grossly misrepresented this number for so long. I apologize, retract my assertions, and likewise wish to offer this explanation of how I could claim to cite a source I had not actually read...." I doubt that is what we will get, however, especially if the smoke and mirrors offered by Phil Porvaznik in a comment on Ray's blog is any indication. Here is what Porvaznik wrote:
People complain about the number, but it is a Protesant source, World Christian Encyclopedia, published (2001, 2nd edition) by a reputable scholarly publisher, Oxford University Press. The total number of “Christian” denominations / paradenominations in that source is 33820 as of 1995.As soon as I saw this comment I knew Porvaznik has never laid his eyes on the source being cited. Why? Because of his mathematical formula: anyone who has actually looked at the source knows it lists less than 9k groups under "Protestant," not 32,797. In other words, he's blowing smoke. He is pretending to address a topic about which he is utterly ignorant. But note, that doesn't stop the faithful apologist for Romanism. So I wrote to Phil, and he confirmed, in his response, that he has not seen the 2001 edition, though he claims to have seen the previous edition. Well, if that is the case, he is still convicted by his own words of simple dishonesty, since the previous edition likewise broke down the data in such a fashion as to demonstrate beyond all contradiction that the use of its data to allege the existence of more than 20,000 "Protestant denominations" is just as bogus and dishonest as the current 33,000 claim. Eric Svendsen pointed this out years ago.
We have to do a little subtraction since the source claims “242 Roman Catholic denominations” (i.e. basically one RCC for each country) and “781 Orthodox denominations” so we get:
33,820 (total) - 242 (Catholic) - 781 (Orthodox) = 32,797 (Protestant)
Round it up and you are still at 33,000. “Protestants” are basically those who broke away from the Catholic Church (Latin, West) in the 16th century, and all their further splinters since then. Orthodox are those who broke away from Rome in the 11th century. Granted, we could narrow down “Protestant” further and exclude others. But considering the initial big number with “Christians” being either (1) Catholic, (2) Orthodox, or (3) “Protestant” that’s what you get.
So Porvaznik has now convinced me, along with men like Steve Ray, that my forefathers were right all along. These men are Romanists. Rome is all that matters to them. Service to Rome is their highest goal. All facts, arguments, and thoughts, are to be twisted to the service of...Rome. I cannot help but recall the words of one of the greatest Romanists of all time, Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits:
That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it black. - [St. Ignatius Loyola, "Rules for Thinking with the Church", Rule 13, (cited from: Documents of the Christian Church, pp. 364-365, ed. Henry Bettenson, New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1947.)]Rome is the goal, the greatest good, the ultimate. And what do you call a religion that is focused upon conversion to Rome, following Rome, defending Rome at all costs, even at the cost of simple truth? It's called Romanism. And how do you accurately describe men who will sacrifice their integrity, their logic, their rationality, and put forth such monumental efforts in defense of Rome? They are Romanists.
A Roman Catholic Disclaimer
08/25/2007 - James SwanThe following disclaimer appears on the blog of Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong:
"To the best of my knowledge, all of my theological writing is 'orthodox' and not contrary to the official dogmatic and magisterial teaching of 'the Catholic Church. In the event of any (unintentional) doctrinal or moral error on my part having been undeniably demonstrated to be contrary to the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church, I will gladly and wholeheartedly submit to the authority and wisdom of the Church (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Timothy 3:15)."
In the proof text cited above (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus instructs the disciples to teach everything He commanded them. Where do we find the content of these teachings? That's simple, you think: in the Bible. But Roman Catholics claim an unwritten oral tradition contains binding teaching as well. The Catholic apologist cited above informs his readers he, to the best of his knowledge, is in harmony with sacred tradition. But, Catholic apologists don't have to worry about being contrary to the oral tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, because this can't be traced back to the Apostles and objectively identified like Biblical teaching. In other words, they can't point to an objective standard by which to judge the orthodoxy of their writings. Jesus instructs His disciples to teach everything He commanded, yet Rome cannot produce an exhaustive reference to use as a standard.
Next, Roman Catholic apologists have a wide field to play in when working with the Biblical text. In Providentissimus Deus, On The Study Of Holy Scripture (Encyclical Of Pope Leo XIII, November 18, 1893], it is stated,
"...the Church by no means prevents or restrains the pursuit of Biblical science, but rather protects it from error, and largely assists its real progress. A wide field is still left open to the private student, in which his hermeneutical skill may display itself with signal effect and to the advantage of the Church. On the one hand, in those passages of Holy Scripture which have not as yet received a certain and definitive interpretation, such labors may, in the benignant providence of God, prepare for and bring to maturity the judgment of the Church; on the other, in passages already defined, the private student may do work equally valuable, either by setting them forth more clearly to the flock and more skillfully to scholars, or by defending them more powerfully from hostile attack."
Well, just how wide is this field? Consider the following citations:
"Very few texts have in fact been authoritatively determined and there consequently remain many important matters in the explanation of which sagacity and ingenuity of Catholic interpreters can and should be freely exercised..."[Source: Dom Bernard Orchard, M.A., ed., A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (London: Thomas Nelson, 1953), p.60, first column (as cited by David T. King, Holy Scripture: The Ground And Pillar of Our Faith Volume 1 (WA: Christian Resources inc, 2001), 223].
"The number of texts infallibly interpreted by the Church is small...It has been estimated indeed that the total of such texts is under twenty, though there are of course many other indirectly determined." [Source: Dom Bernard Orchard, M.A., ed., A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (London: Thomas Nelson, 1953), p.59, second column (as cited by David T. King, Holy Scripture: The Ground And Pillar of Our Faith Volume 1 (WA: Christian Resources inc, 2001), 224]
Catholic apologists really don't have too much to worry about when it comes to the Biblical text. Consider Gary Michuta's interpretive paradigm of reading Biblical passages through the virtues of faith, hope, or love. Why shouldn't he be allowed to do this? Perhaps its an oral tradition taught By Jesus to interpret the Bible this way! Without Rome actually defining the Biblical text, the field is so "wide open," cows and crop circles can all equally share the pasture, so to speak.
An irony along these lines would be to ask exactly what are the infallible explanations of Matthew 28:18-20 and 1 Timothy 3:15 used by Mr. Armstrong, and if he can't produce these, to further ask how he knows whether or not his usage of these two texts is orthodox. If I could ask Gary Michuta the same question, I'd further ask him to apply his particular interpretive paradigm, and ask him if he thinks it is assisting the real progress of Biblical science.
So, in terms of a disclaimer, the fine print offered really offers nothing. The Roman Church has not used the holy power of interpretation it claims to posses. Catholic apologists can basically say and write whatever they want to.
Notice in the disclaimer, the words "Bible" and "Scripture" are nowhere referred to as even a possible standard by which to evaluate Mr. Armstrong's work. The standard presented is the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church. But what standard do we find Jesus often referring his hearers and critics to? The Scriptures! Recall the response of Jesus in Matthew 22:31 to the Sadducees, ."..have you not read what God said to you?" Likewise, when dialogging with Catholic apologists, we should point them away from their human authority and towards the same authority used by the Lord. One can spend countless futile hours trying to show a Catholic apologist he contradicts his own Church. Keep in mind though their loopholes explained above: they will always be able to wriggle out, somehow or someway. On the other hand, the words of the Bible, the real ultimate authority, were demonstrated by Jesus to silence those who spoke against Him. Paul tells us the Scriptures will thoroughly equip us for every good work. To expose an authority like Rome that claims to speak infallibly for God is indeed a good work.
Speak Your Mind on the Envoy Forums, But Don't Quote Patrick Madrid
08/23/2007 - James SwanOver on the Envoy boards, one of Patrick Madrid's posts (which has been anchored firmly at the top for months) is an advertisement for his 1993 debate with James White on Sola Scriptura. Madrid says it is "a classic you won't want to miss!" Madrid informs the Envoy folks,
"Over the years, we have received many e-mails, letters, and personal comments from folks, most of whom are Catholic, who found this debate helpful to their understanding of the problems with sola scriptura. I've also received over the years a significant number of grateful comments from former Protestants who, by their own admission, made the informed and prayerful decision to convert to the Catholic Church in some measure as a result of their having listened to this debate on sola scriptura with Jim White."Patrick appears to be very proud of this debate:
"13 years of experience has shown that this debate is very effective at demonstrating to Protestants the utter vacuousness of sola scriptura. I think that this is why it's so popular among Catholics. We typically receive an average of 2 or 3 orders a day for this debate (sometimes more), week in and week out, 365 days a year. And that says a lot about how Catholics who listen to it think it went."Madrid's Envoy forums goes by the motto, "speak your mind." So, one would think posting one of Madrid's points from this debate and voicing agreement with it would help inspire the Papal troops. Such though is not the case. I stopped over at Envoy Wednesday night and read the following post from "truthrules12":
"Why keep deleting my post... I keep writing that I admire Madrid for saying, in his debate with James White, 'those of you who aren't catholic run the risk of going to hell...' why delete this---it's in the transcript!!!!! it's the truth ---what is the problem??????"I sat back rather stunned when I read this. I didn't recall Madrid saying this. The transcript has been available (for free!) on aomin for years. Indeed, yes, Madrid did say this. The comment appears at the very end of the debate:
"In my final minute I want to say that I didn't come here to win arguments, I came here to share the truth.I came here to invite you all to the fullness of the truth which is found in the Catholic Church.And I'd like to use the words of a famous Catholic apologist, Edmund Campion, who is a priest.He was formerly a Protestant, then he converted to the Catholic church.He wrote this letter and I hope you'll give me a couple seconds over--if I go over 10 or 15 seconds.[Discussion about how much time is left.The moderator informs Mr. Madrid that 2 minutes are remaining.]I would like to use his words to make my own tonight because I know that many of you are not Catholic and I know that many of you run the risk of going to Hell if you do not accept the truth that Jesus Christ is offering to you.If you leave this room tonight and you suppress the doubt that may be in your heart about what Mr. White is saying tonight or the questioning that may be in your heart about whether or not the Catholic Church is the true church, you have to answer to God at some point.You don't have to answer to me or Mr. White.I'm inviting you to consider, to study, to pray about the Catholic position.No, Mr. White, I don't mean that in the Mormon sense of the word.I mean that in the Biblical sense of the word."
Well, "truthrules12" "spoke his mind" and had his post quickly deleted, repeatedly. He "spoke his mind" in agreement with a product Patrick Madrid promotes and sells, on a point Patrick made. I'd like to thank "truthrules12" for pointing this out (By the way, I am not this person, and recall, I was banned from Envoy for posting a link to an aomin article). I'm very tempted to purchase Madrid's MP3 version of this debate to see if he edited this comment out. One Envoy contributor pointed out "...I believe the transcript from White's site is MORE complete than the audio CD because there were a few noticeable gaps in the recording.... "
In the past, I've had a hard time with Roman Catholics on Galatians 1:6-8. I've tried to get them to admit, from their perspective, that I, as a Protestant, should be viewed as eternally condemned because I don't believe the gospel officially taught by the Roman Church. But, the answer I've repeatedly gotten is that I can only be eternally condemned if I know the Catholic Church is the true church and I still reject her. What sophistry!
Here though, Madrid breaks with the pack: "I know that many of you are not Catholic and I know that many of you run the risk of going to Hell if you do not accept the truth that Jesus Christ is offering to you." He returns to those glory years of long ago:
Pope Innocent III (December 18, 1208): "With our hearts we believe and with our lips we confess but one Church, not that of the heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside which we believe that no one is saved."
Pope Pius IX (December 9, 1854): "For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood."
Pope Leo XIII (January 10, 1890): "He scatters and gathers not who gathers not with the Church and with Jesus Christ, and all who fight not jointly with Him and with the Church are in very truth contending against God."
Pope Saint Pius X (March 12, 1904): "It is our duty to recall to everyone great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours, to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation."
Pope Innocent III and Lateran Council IV: "One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful outside which no one at all is saved..."
Well, Madrid's words will be an interesting challenge to those who believe I am simply a seperated brother that doesn't know Rome is the true church. If I were in the audience that night, it would've been I who heard Madrid's plea to embrace the Roman Church or run the risk of going to Hell. The Catholic Catechism states,
"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation."This statement has been given to me by Catholics as proof positive I am not running the risk of going to Hell. Well, perhaps Mr. Madrid has a different interpretation of this statement. Since there isn't an infallible interpretation given to the Catechism, it's really up to whichever Catholic one is talking to at the moment to interpret it for you. Despite Madrid, the Catechism, or whichever Catholic one is talking to, one thing is certain and clear:
"I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! "(Galatians 1:6-8)Many Catholics run the risk of going to Hell if they reject the Gospel or rely on their works. Paul states, "to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness" (Romans 4:5). I challenge Roman Catholics to reread Galatians 1, and consider Paul's warning.
The 33,000 Denominations Myth
08/22/2007 - James WhiteA Call to Roman Catholic Apologists to Repent of the Use of Simple Dishonesty in Their Presentations
If you have ever listened to a Catholic convert on EWTN talking about their "journey home," you have heard the argument. If you have read on-line "conversion stories," you've seen it repeated, ad nauseum. "There is only one true church, Rome! Look at Protestantism! 33,000 denominations, and more coming on line every day! And why? Because of sola scriptura!" You'll find this claim in conversion books like the Surprised by Truth series edited by Patrick Madrid. Al Kresta, one such convert, in the first installment of that series, wrote,
I wondered how Protestantism, which has splintered into over 20,000 denominations worldwide, could be what Jesus had in mind in John 17:21, when he said that the world will know that the Father sent the Son by the unity of his disciples. (Al Kresta, Surprised by Truth, p. 266)Kresta was writing a while back, before the number grew to today's 33,000. From 1998 we find this from Catholic Answers:
The one thing they reject, though, is any binding authority outside the Bible. As a result, each time a new survey of Christian denominations comes out, there is more division, not less. Today there are more than 26,000 different denominations, sects, and independent churches throughout the world. They have split over issues as central as the Lords Supper and as trivial as what musical instruments may be used at church. Each Christian, Bible in hand, must find his own Christian truths. He may choose to rely on the teachings of his local pastor, a television evangelist, or the formal teachings of his denomination, but he is not bound by any of these teachings. There is ultimately no binding doctrinal authority in hislife outside his personal interpretation of Scripture (sola scriptura).Notice now the number is increasing? Tim Staples has been really big on this particular statistical argument. For example,
But isn't it also telling that since the Reformation just 480 years ago -- a reformation claiming sola scriptura as its formal principle -- there are now over 26,000 denominations that have derived from that principle? The 1982 World Christian Encyclopedia projected in that year that there would be 22,190 denominations by 1985. The present net increase,it noted, is 270 denominations each year (five new ones a week). If we extend that projection to our time, we have well over 26,000 denominations by now.Here in Envoy Magazine we find the source to which these men are referring, the World Christian Encyclopedia, the current edition of which is from 2001, as we will see. Note Staples directly cites the source. Keep that in mind. Elsewhere Staples has said,
According to Scripture, the Church is the final court of appeal for the people of God in matters of faith, morals, and discipline. It is telling that since the Reformation of almost 500 years ago--a Reformation claiming sola scriptura as its formal principle--there are now over 33,000 Protestant denominations. In John 10:16, Jesus prophesied there would be "one flock, one shepherd." Reliance on sola scriptura has not been effective in establishing doctrine or authority.Here Staples has updated his numbers, post-2001. Same source.
Steve Ray is quite fond of this argument, too. In his response on the Assumption issue he wrote,
Our source of authority is not the Bible alone. We can thank God and the Catholic Church for that. Just look at the mass confusion this invented doctrine of sola Scriptura has inflicted upon Protestants as theyve split and scattered into over 33,000 different competing groups with biblical interpretations that go all over the map.5Now please note, Ray gives the direct reference, even the page number, to which he refers. Next, note that he is directly asserting that the 33,000 number is about Protestants only. What is more, he blames sola scripturafor the 33,000 denominations. And to make sure this is in fact Steve Ray's position, we note his words here:
World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford University Press, 2001), pg. 10.
Now what? Who knows! Tomorrow they may split again and make the FIRST New Progressive Missionary Baptist Church and the Second. And then it will probably split again into the NEWEST First New Progressive Missionary Baptist Church or the Holy First New Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. And then we will add multiple sects to the already 33,000 Protestant denominations.Note "Protestant denominations." And just last week Steve Ray said to Kevin Johnson:
Hello Kevin: Thanks for sharing your name it was not on the post. I wish I had time to dialog but unfortunately I am swamped and not able to take on detailed debates. Back in the old days I had plenty of time but such is not the case now. I hope others jump in to dialog with you. One of the problems I face Kevin is that you are one of 33,000 denomoninations [sic] that have sprouted out of the Reformation and to take the time to understand the various details that each of you hold with a multitude of beliefs and traditions would be impossible.So, Steve Ray has repeatedly made the assertion that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations. He has repeatedly said this is due to sola scriptura. And he has made it clear where he is allegedly getting his information, from the World Christian Encyclopedia. Specifically:
World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions in the modern worldSo let's test this oft-repeated argument, one that is found in the talks and writings of a wide range of Roman Catholic apologists.
Second Edition, David B. Barrett, George T. Kurian, Todd M. Johnson Oxford University Press, 2001.
The First Error: Simple Logic
Before looking at the source of this argument and the problems associated with it, it should be made clear that the entire argument being presented here can only be identified as "bogus." It fails scrutiny at every possible level. The leaps in logic and argumentation are vast. Let's just focus upon two of the obvious problems.
First, how does the Roman Catholic apologist go about demonstrating that sola scriptura is the source of these divisions, specifically? For example, when we see division in the ranks of Rome, and see strong disagreements on key issues, does it follow that the Roman magisterium is to blame for the differences of viewpoint? If a Christian believes the Scriptures a sufficient rule of faith, how does it follow that an abuse of such a sufficient source is an argument against its sufficiency? Such simply does not follow. The Scriptures can be perfectly suited to their purpose, but men are still sinners. Men are still imperfect. Men are still ignorant. And, most importantly, men still have their traditions. So while these apologists pretend it is a "given" that sola scriptura is to blame for these divisions, that assumption is insufficient to prove the argument.
Second, and related thereto, is the painfully obvious observation that only a small percentage of "Protestant" churches today self-consciously even seek to profess, let alone confess and practice, sola scriptura. In fact, a large number of non-Catholic churches embrace all sorts of concepts that violate sola scriptura, so how can the principle be blamed for the actions of those who do not even believe in it?Obviously, it can't be. In reality, those churches that specifically seek to profess, confess, and apply sola scripturaare significantly more united in their theology than those churches that look to some external, inspired/guided source of either interpretation or revelation.
So, while the "33,000 Protestant churches and it is all sola scriptura's fault argument is common, that doesn't make it at all valid. But there's an even more basic reason to reject this argument so often used by the likes of Tim Staples and Steve Ray.
The Second Error: It's Just a Lie
Whenever you find a convert to another religion citing a source, here's a word of advice. Read the source yourself. And when we do that with the World Christian Encyclopedia, we discover that almost anything said by Steve Ray or Tim Staples or others in their circles should be taken with a grain of salt--always. On page 10, the source cited by Ray, we read, ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Steve Ray and Dave Hunt: Separated at Birth?
08/22/2007 - James WhiteI know the family resemblance is...lacking, but the behavior resemblance is quite compelling. And the hat helps. (ht: MB)
Steve Ray is still a fundamentalist. Now, I use that term not in its historical sense, but in the sense Ray himself uses it, descriptive of his "former life" before his conversion to Rome. But Ray's mindset has not changed an iota from that which he describes as his own. In fact, as I was considering his recent behavior, his response on the Assumption, etc., I suddenly realized who Steve Ray reminds me of: Dave Hunt. Yes, good ol' Dave Hunt, the man who can keep repeating long-exploded arguments ad nauseum (do I have to say much more than "Spurgeon on the atonement" and "the Hebrew original of Acts 1-15"?), and who is able to see on a page of text only that which his indelibly imprinted traditions allow him to see. Hunt almost never responds to in-depth criticism of his views, and he very clearly avoids spending much time reading "the other side." And remember Dave's words to me on KPXQ a number of years ago when I pointed out that he was relying not upon the text but upon his traditions? "James, I have no traditions."
Steve Ray is Dave Hunt in papal garb. He describes his own background as follows:
I was saturated with Baptist tradition from my days in diapers. The Baptist tradition was drilled into me through years of sermons, Sunday School, Daily Vacation Bible School, WMUZ Christian radio, books upon books and daily by my mom and dad.Steve Ray claims his background was in the kind of Baptist fundamentalism that has no concept of its place in history nor its deep traditions. That would mean his was a fundamentalism marked by ignorance. He seems to think that everyone else has his past, especially those who would knowingly reject Rome's pretensions. He's wrong, but that's his assumption. He even seems to think all fundamentalists are pre-millenial rapture theorists as well (he uses that as an example in his paper). What is clear is that Ray has not seriously interacted with anything other than this kind of "Jack Chick/Dave Hunt" style fundamentalism. His writings prove the point.
I also used to claim thatI do not have tradition; I come to the Bible objectively and let it speak for itself! I was wrong. No one comes to the Bible without a preconceived tradition, engrained presuppositions or influence from other preachers, writers and opinions. Many people catch their traditions like one catches the measles, by being close to someone else that has them.
Sadly, Ray's writings are marked by constant ad-hominemcommentary and language. I took just a moment or two to collect the following from a single blog post and the first few pages of Ray's pdf response:
ruffles the feathers of anti-Catholics...I used to be in their camp I joined them in lockstep chanting the same slogans and mantras against "Catholic Tradition" and "man-made dogmas."...my old impoverished theology and anti-Catholicism and its lame attack on the Assumption and Queenship of Mary. I just learned too muchto stay a member of the Fundamentalist camp with their Fundamentalist tradition....red-faced huffing and puffing...tussle with them every time they step unto the playground with their taunts and jeers...anti-Catholic naysayers who want to jump in with red-faced indignation ...surrounded by a lot of ranting and raving ...waste my time because of one anti-Catholicwebsite, ...I used to parrot the same things in my past life.This is the same kind of language and mindset you find in the worst of fundamentalist writings, always defining others based upon your own mindset and viewpoint. Anyone who disagrees with Ray is an anti-Catholic, and many fundamentalists have the very same kind of facile mindset about anyone who disagrees with them. Likewise, Ray now considers himself so much better educated, more intelligent, than his former compatriots who are just a bunch of red-faced children on the playground, taunting and jeering. He truly believes this---just as Dave Hunt's followers believe they are just so much more faithful to God by ignoring the critiques of their traditions. See?
Many before me have noted that the converts to Catholicism who have then taken up the apologetic sword in defense of Catholicism tend to bring their Protestantism with them. Ray does so with a vengeance. And when it comes to his sources and his arguments, once again, the parallels between himself and men like Chick and Hunt are undeniable. For example:
Our source of authority is not the Bible alone. We can thank God and the Catholic Church for that. Just look at the mass confusion this invented doctrine of sola Scriptura has inflicted upon Protestants as theyve split and scattered into over 33,000 different competing groups with biblical interpretations that go all over the map.5
5 World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford University Press, 2001), pg. 10.
Ray is surely not alone in making this claim. Roman Catholic apologists across the board have repeated the "sola scriptura leads to anarchy, look at the
An Excellent Question from the Mail Bag
08/20/2007 - James WhiteLast week I received the following e-mail, and I felt it would be best to share my response here on the blog.
Dear Mr. White, For someone considering converting to Catholicism, what questions would you put to them in order to dicern whether or not they have examined their situation sufficiently? Say, a Top 10 list. Thanks.When I posted this question in our chat channel a number of folks commented that it was in fact a great question, and we started to throw out some possible answers. Here is my "Top Ten List" in response to this fine inquiry.
10) Have you listened to both sides? That is, have you done more than read Rome Sweet Home and listen to a few emotion-tugging conversion stories? Have you actually taken the time to find sound, serious responses to Rome's claims, those offered by writers ever since the Reformation, such as Goode, Whitaker, Salmon, and modern writers? I specifically exclude from this list anything by Jack Chick and Dave Hunt.
9) Have you read an objective history of the early church? I refer to one that would explain the great diversity of viewpoints to be found in the writings of the first centuries, and that accurately explains the controversies, struggles, successes and failures of those early believers?
8) Have you looked carefully at the claims of Rome in a historical light, specifically, have you examined her claims regarding the "unanimous consent" of the Fathers, and all the evidence that exists that stands contrary not only to the universal claims of the Papacy but especially to the concept of Papal Infallibility? How do you explain, consistently, the history of the early church in light of modern claims made by Rome? How do you explain such things as the Pornocracy and the Babylonian Captivity of the Church without assuming the truthfulness of the very system you are embracing?
7) Have you applied the same standards to the testing of Rome's ultimate claims of authority that Roman Catholic apologists use to attack sola scriptura? How do you explain the fact that Rome's answers to her own objections are circular? For example, if she claims you need the Church to establish an infallible canon, how does that actually answer the question, since you now have to ask how Rome comes to have this infallible knowledge. Or if it is argued that sola scriptura produces anarchy, why doesn't Rome's magisterium produce unanimity and harmony? And if someone claims there are 33,000 denominations due to sola scriptura, since that outrageous number has been debunked repeatedly (see Eric Svendsen's Upon This Slippery Rock for full documentation), have you asked them why they are so dishonest and sloppy with their research?
6) Have you read the Papal Syllabus of Errors and Indulgentiarum Doctrina? Can anyone read the description of grace found in the latter document and pretend for even a moment that is the doctrine of grace Paul taught to the Romans?
5) Have you seriously considered the ramifications of Rome's doctrine of sin, forgiveness, eternal and temporal punishments, purgatory, the treasury of merit, transubstantiation, sacramental priesthood, and indulgences? Have you seriously worked through compelling and relevant biblical texts like Ephesians 2, Romans 3-5, Galatians 1-2, Hebrews 7-10 and all of John 6, in light of Roman teaching?
4) Have you pondered what it means to embrace a system that teaches you approach the sacrifice of Christ thousands of times in your life and yet you can die impure, and, in fact, even die an enemy of God, though you came to the cross over and over again? And have you pondered what it means that though the historical teachings of Rome on these issues are easily identifiable, the vast majority of Roman Catholics today, including priests, bishops, and scholars, don't believe these things anymore?
3) Have you considered what it means to proclaim a human being the Holy Father (that's a divine name, used by Jesus only of His Father) and the Vicar of Christ (that's the Holy Spirit)? Do you really find anything in Scripture whatsoever that would lead you to believe it was Christ's will that a bishop in a city hundreds of miles away in Rome would not only be the head of His church but would be treated as a king upon earth, bowed down to and treated the way the Roman Pontiff is treated?
2) Have you considered how completely unbiblical and a-historical is the entire complex of doctrines and dogmas related to Mary? Do you seriously believe the Apostles taught that Mary was immaculately conceived, and that she was a perpetual virgin (so that she traveled about Palestine with a group of young men who were not her sons, but were Jesus' cousins, or half-brothers (children of a previous marriage of Joseph), or the like? Do you really believe that dogmas defined nearly 2,000 years after the birth of Christ represent the actual teachings of the Apostles? Are you aware that such doctrines as perpetual virginity and bodily assumption have their origin in gnosticism, not Christianity, and have no foundation in apostolic doctrine or practice? How do you explain how it is you must believe these things de fide, by faith, when generations of Christians lived and died without ever even having heard of such things?
And the number 1 question I would ask of such a person is: if you claim to have once embraced the gospel of grace, whereby you confessed that your sole standing before a thrice-holy God was the seamless garment of the imputed righteousness of Christ, so that you claimed no merit of your own, no mixture of other merit with the perfect righteousness of Christ, but that you stood full and complete in Him and in Him alone, at true peace with God because there is no place in the universe safer from the wrath of God than in Christ, upon what possible grounds could you come to embrace a system that at its very heart denies you the peace that is found in a perfect Savior who accomplishes the Father's will and a Spirit who cannot fail but to bring that work to fruition in the life of God's elect? Do you really believe that the endless cycle of sacramental forgiveness to which you will now commit yourself can provide you the peace that the perfect righteousness of Christ can not?
Funny Things on Steve Ray's Blog
08/20/2007 - James WhiteA few days ago Steve Ray moderated the comments on his blog. Which is fine. I don't even have them because, as I have explained before, I call most comboxes "IIA's." Internet Ignorance Aggregators. And surely, Ray's web-board is more than sufficient to allow anyone who wants to comment on his statements to do so--of course, I'd likewise say that board has a long-standing reputation as the very definition of being an "IIA," but that's a seperate issue. But Ray can do what he wishes with his own comboxes. And in reference to my own blog's lack of combox IIAs, if making myself available for at least two hours a week live and toll-free on the DL isn't enough to allow folks to comment, I don't know what would be.
In any case, it was what Ray said in announcing his moderation of the combox that I found educational. Here is the graphic he posted with his announcement. Isn't it...pretty? One thing is for sure: my graphics guys are pros. I pwn my opponents in that field, no question. (If that doesn't make sense to you, ask someone who is under 25 and who plays video games and understands what "All your base are belong to us" means). Do you get the idea that Ray might be...less than charitable toward "fundamentalism" (however he defines that?). It would seem so, in light of the accompanying text:
Too much spam and too many long-winded posts from anti-Catholic trollers who think they are so important everyone should drop what they're doing, study their private interpretation of Scripture and spend days accommodating them with long responses to their innumberable questions — and they want it right now! These people are bores. They tend to have no joy, no humor, no patience. They are a waste of time for me and my guests.Well, that's straight forward enough, right? And, of course, it is all personal--nothing about issues, just personal ad-hominem vitriol. Let's make sure we keep that clear.
But the contrast of Ray's prejudice with the issues-oriented presentations you will find here aside, what caught my attention was Ray's reference to "their private interpretation of Scripture." I could not help but chuckle at this statement in light of the BAM interview with Jimmy Akin I have been playing on the DL. Those who have been listening will recall that Akin made a clear statement that he knows of only eight texts that Rome has infallibly interpreted. Eight. There are a few more verses than that in the Bible, so...if Ray discusses anything in the Bible other than those eight verses, isn't he reduced to nothing other than his own "private interpretation of Scripture"? The entire Roman Catholic claim about infallible interpretation of Scripture is rendered rather moot, is it not, by Rome's failure to produce any kind of meaningful body of infallible interpretation? So what is Ray's problem with someone posting their "private interpretation" when that is all he can offer as well? If he replies, "Well, there is a magisterial interpretation outside of the infallible interpretation" isn't it true that such an interpretation can be fallible? And if his objection to these "private interpretations" is that they are fallible and hence a waste of time? But evidently, while biblically-based interpretations are dismissed as a "waste of time," Roman Catholic interpretations, evidently, are worthwhile. Sorry, but the whole idea seems quite odd, doesn't it?
Well, I'm sure it will all be explained when the Ray/Michuta defense of the "logic of the Bodily Assumption" is posted on Thursday...I mean, last Thursday, but maybe by this Thursday. Maybe. We will see.
Will Jimmy Akin Post This and Call For Ray's Repentance?
08/17/2007 - James White
Tomorrow (Thursday) I will be posting my brief response. Gary Michuta wrote the basic response and I will flesh it out and add a few items. Gary is a very good apologist and you can learn more about him at http://www.handsonapologetics.com. But first I have to finish the Study Guide for the Apostolic Fathers' DVD which has to go to the printer this week.Yes, Rome's apologists are charitable, insightful, kind, loving, and always ready to give an answer to refutations of their teachings. Behold the glory of Rome. Think any of those folks who were so angry that I dared to raise objections to Beckwith's claims will call for Ray's adoption of a more "charitable" mode of behavior? Don't count on it. Think Akin will call Ray to repent? Think the Cardinals will win the Super Bowl? One man tried to reason with Ray, who can't seem to see the difference between saying "Person X is wrong about matter Y, and here is documentation Z," and "Person X is a rabid dog and a waste of time." This seems to be a problem endemic to RC apologists, as he is not alone in suffering from it. Ray rejected the man's attempts (see the combox).
I find I am important enough to again be featured on White's blog. I just skimmed through it because it is too long-winded and goes on and on. Again, he sure takes me more seriously than I've ever taken him. Since most of his latest just seems to be his typical whining and invective, I'm not wasting my time in a lengthy response. He's not worth the time it would take to respond to his latest rant other than to say what I've known for a while. He is a waste of time and getting into a tangle with him always makes me feel like I need a shower. My guess is that a lot of people feel this way, except of course his groupies.
There, now White has another "mean thing said by Steve Ray." So today he can howl some more and write another long-winded rant. This is actually kind of sad — like poking a rabid dog with a stick. He always responds so predictably. :-)
Well, I won't be long winded---wouldn't want to delay Mr. Ray in making more money selling his wares! I just hope those buying his stuff realize what they are getting. I certainly hope Michuta's attempted response comes in at a little higher level than "you're a moron, Rome is right."
Steve Ray Illustrates the Nature of RC Apologetics Methodology
08/17/2007 - James WhiteTuesday morning I posted an article that interacted with various aspects of the Roman Catholic claim that we must believe, as a de fidedogma of the Christian faith, that Mary was bodily assumed into heaven. This has been a defined dogma of the Roman religion for less than sixty years, but it is, in fact, a dogmatic teaching. I provided a video link to my interaction with Gerry Matatics on the subject, specifically,touching on the topic of Solomon/Bathsheba and the Queen Mother.I then quoted, in full, a paragraph from Steve Ray of catholic-convert.com presenting the logic of the exaltation of Mary to this position in Roman theology. I then responded to it, point by point, as an illustration of the amazingly shallow nature of argumentation Rome uses to substantiate its claim that this is a dogmatic teaching of the Christian faith.
Now if I might, I would like to point something out before moving on. There are two very, very good reasons (amongst others) to be discussing this issue (aside from the fact that the feast marking this oh-so-human tradition just passed). First, as always, this dogma is one of the clearest refutations of the oft-repeated claim that Rome is bound by Scripture and tradition. Neither binds Rome here, for she has dogmatized a belief that did not have the slightest place in apostolic preaching or in the life of the Christian church for centuries on end. Think of how many sermons were preached, and preserved, in the writings of that period that, especially after the rise of Marian devotion, were focused upon her. And yet not a single one ever mentions this belief? How is that possible? It is painfully obvious that we have here a dogma that is the creation of later centuries, based upon documents with no more meaningful credibility than the Acts of Philip from which the Talpiot Theory took its life, and yet, Rome has had the audacity to define it as a dogma! Secondly, the very fact that Rome has done this is tremendously detrimental to the apologetic cause of true Christianity. Why? Consider the following exchange between myself and Gerry Matatics:
Did you hear what he said? We have the exact same warrant to believe in the bodily assumption of Mary as we have to believe in the resurrection! What an incredible statement, and yet, is he not being consistent with a thoroughly Roman church-centered epistemology? In any case, it must be remembered that many in the Muslim world see Roman Catholicism as the quintessential expression of Christianity. And if Roman Catholics believe in such things as the resurrection mainly because the Church tells them to, just as they believe in such a-historical fantasies as the bodily assumption, what does this tell them? And how often do those of us who stand upon the Scriptures as our foundation have to explain that Rome is not, in fact, representative of biblical faith? These things are, in fact, quite important.
And so last night I saw that Steve Ray had replied, in a sense, to my post. And once again we are faced with another documentable example of how the leading Roman Catholic apologists--the men selling the books and speaking in the apologetics conferences and traveling about on the convert circuit--handle criticism and direct response to their claims. We've seen what happened with Beckwith. We've seen the explosion of emotionalism, of ad-hominems without end, of double-standards that make the term "hypocrisy" seem so very inadequate to the task. I believe this morning I saw 770+ comments on the Akin "Go Git'im Boys!" blog entry. Steve Ray could have distinguished himself. He could have gone another direction. But, of course, he didn't.
Instead of providing a response that has something to do with the subject of my blog (the assumption of Mary and my comments thereon), Ray showed himself to have studied and memorized the relevant portions of the Roman Catholic Apologetics Manual (version 2.1). Now, again, I am still working on getting down the proper thinking. If you are a Roman Catholic you are, by definition, charitable, even if you call someone a moron and insult their parents. It is ok, for, all that is done in service of Mother Church is accepted and charitable (RCAM, 7.4.3). The corollary, discussed elsewhere in the RCAM, is that all humor is acceptable if it is offered by a Roman Catholic, but none--and we mean none--is acceptable if offered by the anti-Catholic (note the repeated emphasis upon using the buzz-phrase anti-Catholic, even if the use of the term is absurd, offensive, and demonstrates an arrogance on Romes part that is simply insufferable). Ray's mastery of the RCAM is admirable, to be sure.
I would like to invite any fair-minded person to look at the kind of invective Roman Catholics--almost none of whom have ever bothered to crack the binding of one of my books or view an entire debate--have been posting over the past ten days around the web, and compare it to the horrible thing I said about Steve Ray in my blog post. See, Steve Ray has been known for years for wearing this hat, a safari hat. He has it on all the time. It's his trademark, you might say. Here's even a shot of him from his own website. So, I described him as follows, " Steve Ray, Catholic Convert Extraordinaire and king of on-location videography, world-traveler and sufferer of permanent safari hat-hair, has provided an example of how this "logic" works." Oooh. Aaaah. See, if he had a sense of humor, or didn't take himself so seriously, he would have replied with humor, like, "James White, stock holder in Acme Shaved Head Sunscreen Company, only wishes he had enough hair to suffer the way I do!" But noooo...that would be to violate various rules in the RCAM, including treating your opponent as a human being. So, we can't do that. Besides, I suppose if anything, Ray's wonderfully kind response only shows he hasn't changed much over the years. Here is Ray's post...and my comments.
Assumption of Mary -- Assumptions of WhiteConsiderably more evidence for my existence than that of the assumption of Mary, to be sure!
I was notified that James White, the magisterial voice of Protestant anti-Catholics, had responded to my blog on the Assumption of Mary. Not only is he insulting and arrogant though it may be his sorry attempt at humor and relational psychology is also wrong and sloppy. I hope to have time to respond to his huffing and puffing but don't know if I will have the time before I leave. If I do Ito answer well and that takes time not matter what the topic.Ray's original posting actually read, " Not only is he insulting and arrogant, which has always been his style, but he is also wrong. I hope to have time to respond to his huffing and puffing but don't know if I will have the time before the end of the year. He seems to have always considered me more important that I have considered him not sure why. I am not even a PhD like he claims to be." In passing, it's Th.D., not Ph.D. Let's see. I mentioned safari-hat hair, and the rest of my post was completely void of any reference to Ray's personality or anything else. And in his first paragraph we have "anti-Catholic," "insulting and arrogant," "sorry attempt" (or "which has always been his style"), "huffing and puffing," "sloppy," and in essence the statement that he doesn't consider me "important." But, of course, these were all meant in the most charitable fashion possible...for insults, anyway. And, I note that the "I was notified" may just be a less than subtle way of saying "not like I would ever bother to look at what White has to say." Given what comes later, that's exactly what is being communicated.
By the way, White is usually the first to whine about people who use "ad hominem" arguments and comments against him. He even wept crocodile tears about it in one of our past correspondences. But James and I have not corresponded in years and the last time I did speak with him was in New York at his debate with Gary Michuta. I thought [sic] we have [sic] a cordial meeting. Before that I invited him to lunch on one of my trips to Phoenix and he "No" explaining that to have lunch with little ole me would compromise the gospel. Geez, even Jesus ate with sinners!he said he didn't like me and he only eats lunch with people he likes. Well, frankly, I dont' like him either, but I was willing to be charitable and see if we could find common ground and work toward liking each other. But he said no.Hmm, let's see...I referred to "safari hat hair" and he replied in his first paragraph with a whole string of retorts and I'm the one who "whines"? Sounds like a bit of "poisoning the well" to me. And please don't ask me what "crocodile tears" are supposed to mean. As to hanging out with Ray, or any of his buddies, that's right. I have no interest in so doing. Why? It isn't because I don't think Jesus "ate with sinners." However, when Jesus ate with sinners, he called them to repentance, and that isn't why Ray would want to get together. Secondly, Ray is a false teacher, not just a regular ol' "sinner." And as I'm sure I explained to him at the time, the point is that if someone comes with another gospel, another message, you are not to even greet the person, let alone hang out at Starbucks with them. See the previously linked article for samples of what Steve Ray has said about me in the past. He can't produce similar invective. Would you want to have lunch with someone who has spoken of you in terms like this: " He does not know love or honesty rather he wallows in hatred and anger"? I sure don't.
Interestingly, and quite consistent with his usual inconsistency, White comments in his "Year of the Cat" blog entry that, "The past five days have set new all-time records for vitriolic nastiness, at least on the part of those devoted to Rome." Geez, what a thing to say from a guy who with no provocation wrote this sarcastically about me today "Steve Ray, Catholic Convert Extraordinaire and king of on-location videography, world-traveler and sufferer of permanent safari hat-hair." So much for his consistent inconsistency.Again, any semi-rational person can compare the ad-hominemsthat fill Akin's combox to this day with "permanent safari hat-hair" and tell me who takes themselves way too seriously.
Will I respond to White and his assumptions? I hope so if I have time. But he seems to historically have taken me more seriously than I have ever taken him.It's all about Steve Ray, isn't it? He does not seem to understand that the only reason I am quoting him is that I am addressing the issue of Rome's teachings. But for him, it is all about Steve Ray. Let's say he despises me and thinks I'm the most unimportant person on the planet. Great. If his concern was the "truth" of the BA (bodily assumption), then it would not matter one wit to him whether I enunciated the arguments I did or someone else did. The fact is, his "logic" has been challenged. What will he do? He can pretend all he wants that my arguments are specious or whatever (he felt free to say so, but now we are getting the"but I am so busy I may have trouble getting around to demonstrating such simplistic errors on the part of such an unimportant person" line), but anyone who has taken the time to even semi-fairly review the debates I have done with his betters knows better. In fact, I was going to post this later, but it would work well here. Ray's right, I'm unimportant, but this unimportant person presented this case against the "queenly coronation" of Mary over a decade ago, and if he thinks his side has provided a substantive response, he couldn't be farther from the truth:
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
How to Defend the Indefensible
08/15/2007 - James WhiteI have to admit, this is one of the most amazing performances I've ever seen. This is Gerry Matatics at his best. The number of straw men and non sequiturs in the following ten minutes is limited only by how fast Gerry can talk, which is not much of a limitation (in fact, I notice he went nearly 10% over his time, something he has done many times in our debates in the past). This is Gerry's response to my comments on the "Queenly Coronation" of Mary. By Gerry's own demand, I had had to go first, for some reason, in both defining, and then denying, the Roman concept at this point. I will post that presentation a little later. Now Gerry has a great advantage, for I have had to define and rebut in the same presentation. Now he gets to respond. Will he respond to what I said? Well, listen to it.
First, he begins with a personal experience, saying that since he converted to Rome, this means that I am wrong to say that the only way for a person to believe in these Marian dogmas is to first accept Rome's authority claims. But clearly, Gerry had already given in on sola scriptura before he ever embraced these concepts. Most Roman Catholic writers say nothing more than I had said. And yet Gerry spends time refuting me on a point that really isn't even at issue. This is normative for him: he will spend much of his time trying to impress the audience with this kind of rhetoric, "proving" he is right on other topics, as if this proves he is right on the topic he is supposed to be defending. He has ten minutes here (plus the time he normally steals for himself beyond that) to do one thing: prove the Queenly Coronation of Mary. How much time does he really spend on that topic?
Next, he speaks of the Davidic king, "not a democracy, Mr. White." I had not, of course, said a word about democracies, had I? We will see later another example of this "put words in his mouth and hope no one notices when you then refute the straw man you just built" maneuver that is so very common in these debates.
Notice another Matatics-ism. He refers to Bathsheba sitting on the "right hand" of Solomon, and then cries out, "That's the very phrase Mr. White found so offensive! His problem is with the Bible!" Of course, I had referred to the idea of exalting Mary to the right hand of Christ in heaven, not to Bathsheba sitting on the right hand of her son. But any refutation is a good refutation, even if involves ignoring the context of the original statement!
Then you will note that the fact that Bathsheba failed in her intercession with Solomon is dismissed because Bathsheba was a sinner, and Solomon was a sinner. I guess an assumed principle of interpretation here is "all parallels and analogies Rome wishes to use are valid only in so far as we wish to apply them, and any and all contradictions will be dismissed on any principle we jolly well please to introduce." Of course, Mary was a sinner too, but we had already debated that part.
Note as well that once you establish a parallel, then anything that person did Jesus will do even more so. Can you imagine the carnage that would result from consistently applying these kinds of arguments? Thankfully, Rome doesn't bother searching for consistency on that level.
"If Mr. White wants to deny (that we will sit at Christ's right hand) then he has to deny the entire teaching of the Book of Revelation." More "I think I'll make up a position my opponent has never taken, and would not take, and refute him anyway. That will make me look good to my followers." My objection is not against anyone being at Jesus' right hand. My objection is to facile arguments putting Mary there and then making her the object of "hyper-dulia," prayers, intercessions, etc.
He says I have problems with this teaching because it developed slowly over time. No, I said I have problems with this teaching because it is simply unknown to the early centuries. His simply blasphemous parallel of this non-existent teaching with the divine truth of the Trinity, deity of Christ, etc., which is witnessed so clearly in the Scriptures, is another example of the Alice-in-Wonderland form of Roman thinking in this area.
Next we have the amazing twisting of my words regarding the judgment of God. Honestly, I am left wondering how Gerry pronounces these words without chuckling, or at least smiling. He well knows what my point was. He well knows what I actually believe. But those things cannot be allowed to get in the way of his defense of Rome.
Then listen carefully to Gerry say that he hopes I won't fall into the old trap of the liberals in saying the OT God was harsh and stern and the NT God is loving. But, having said that, he then attributes such an absurd position to me, and refutes me, addressing me directly as if I had ever said anything remotely like that! This is why I have often said that debating Gerry Matatics is exhausting because he uses every single kind of cheap debating trick known to man. Again, it seems as long as he is saying "you are wrong, Mr. White," it doesn't really matter to him if the position he has attributed to me is even remotely truthful or not.
In fact, the entire period of time (well over 15% of his time) he spent on this was irrelevant. He knows I have no objections to the wrath of God: my point was that Mary had become a mediator with the mediator, and that a person who fears Christ so as to need a mediator with Him is a person who has no knowledge of the believer's standing in Christ. Of course, Rome robs her followers of the truth about that, too, but my point was quite specific, and Matatics did not even touch my actual argument.
Next, he insists that no Catholic work will insist that Mary is divine and human in one person. Again he addresses me directly, pointing to me. And again, I had said absolutely positively nothing like that. In fact, I had very clearly emphasized Rome's denial of an assertion that Mary is somehow "divine" already. So again, a refutation of a straw man, by name, directly. As I said, Matatics at his best.
So there's a great example of the kind of argumentation Rome requires her followers to use to defend her dogmas. Oh, thanks be, I have been delivered from ever being in slavery to her falsehoods.
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
The Glorious Logic of Sola Ecclesia
08/14/2007 - James WhiteFew topics illustrate the circularity of Roman logic than the Marian dogmas. The more honest Roman Catholic writers admit that when you boil it all down, the Marian dogmas are to be believed because you accept Rome's authority, nothing more. "We are the true church, we have apostolic authority, we don't need actual history or tradition, we can define this kind of stuff and, if you follow us, you need to believe it." sola ecclesia with a vengeance.
But Rome's apologists loathe admitting the circularity of their authority claims, so they do their best to try to make it sound as if they really do have something other than "Because we say so" behind their additions to the gospel. But the resultant arguments are often difficult to read without staring in disbelief or even replying, "You are kidding, right?" For example, listening to Gerry Matatics trying to draw parallels between Caleb and Mary so that he actually knows how old Mary was when she was bodily assumed into heaven leaves most folks aghast at the leaps these folks are willing to take without a net of simple reality beneath them.
Steve Ray, Catholic Convert Extraordinaire and king of on-location videography, world-traveler and sufferer of permanent safari hat-hair, has provided an example of how this "logic" works. On his blog yesterday he was attempting to provide arguments for the bodily assumption of Mary, and one of these was based on Mary as the "Queen Mother." Those who have studied Rome's teachings are quite familiar with this attempted apologetic for the wholly unbiblical exaltation of Mary. I had raised the issue in my opening statement on the "Queenship of Mary" in the 1996 debate against Gerry Matatics on Long Island. I had pointed out that the kind of typology used by Rome to come up with some kind of "biblical" basis for its Marian teachings is subject to gross abuse simply because it has no real connection to the text or its context. So when Solomon has a throne brought in for his mother in 1 Kings 2, the Roman Catholic expands this into an entire "Queen Mother" position into which they can fit Mary. But, when you point to other mothers of Jewish kings who were terrible examples of sinfulness, well, there just isn't any connection to Mary, we are told. No, we are not told why. Even in the 1 Kings 2 text, when we ask, "Why did the throne have to be brought if this was a normal position?" we are told that such questions just don't matter. And when we point out that Solomon's mother did not, in fact, obtain what she asked of the king, we are quickly told that we just can't press analogies that far! The arbitrary nature of such argumentation is clear to all. Note how this comes out in my cross-examination of Matatics from 1996:
So with this in mind, let's look at the "logic" Steve Ray presents:
Follow the logic: 1) The kings of Israel raised their mothers to Queenship which became established as an official office; 2) the mothers were referred to as the Queen Mothers or the Great Lady; 3) they sat on a throne near their sons (1 Ki 2:19); 4) Jesus is the quintessential Jewish King with an eternal kingdom; 5) Jesus is the fulfillment if the Israelite offices of Prophet, Priest & King; 6) As the Davidic king, Jesus would honor his mother more than earthy kings honored their mothers; 7) It is biblical, historical, and reasonable to expect the perfect Jewish king to follow in the stead of the kingdom and his fathers by assuming his mother to a throne at his right hand. 8) It is proper and biblical to consider Mary in a position of intercessor.Logically, a response: 1) We have very little evidence to support any kind of normative position of governmental authority for the mothers of kings in Israel or Judah. 1 Kings 2 is actually an argument against this, as the throne was not normally there, and, there is no evidence that there was any further elevation of the king's mother in this fashion after this point. 2) And Bill Clinton my be called the Great Guy if Hillary wins the White House. So? 3) One did, and it was unusual, and she did not obtain from her son what she wished. 4) He sure is, which makes me wonder why folks have such a hard time with His kingly freedom to save His elect powerfully and perfectly apart from Rome's sacraments. 5) Yes, which makes me wonder why you have sacramental priests when the priesthood role has been fulfilled in Christ! 6) This is part and parcel of the circularity of the Roman position. That is, the goal is already defined by the Roman dogmas, so now all you do is posit that Jesus "would do X" which just happens to fit the dogma you already believe and are trying to substantiate. Never mind that what it means for Jesus to honor Mary in light of her being one of His redeemed servants is completely different than anything one might extrapolate from a single instance in the OT of a king honoring his mother! 7) If this is "biblical" then any kind of wide-eyed allegorical or typological interpretation is likewise "biblical." All of the factors regarding the unique glory of Christ vs. that of an entire line of kings, for example, the different relationship that exists between Mary as redeemed and Jesus as redeemer--all these things just get brushed under the rug in the service of Rome and her dogmas. But to call this kind of eisegesis "biblical" is to strip the word of all rational and logical meaning. 8) Even if all that came before actually made sense, this last assertion is such a massive leap from what came before it leaves one breathless, and I say that as one who is fully aware of Miravalle's writings in defense of Mary as mediatrix, for example. There is nothing at all in what came before that even begins to give a basis for this final conclusion regarding intercession, absolutely nothing. But in the wonderful world of Roman Mariology, even the word "logic" gets a make-over, just as such words as "brother" and "sister" do as well!
I would dearly love to see Rome's popular, traveling apologists stand up before a live audience and actually defend Rome's dogmas on this topic. They love to crank out the books and CD's on the topic, because, quite obviously, they sell. But you won't find them rushing to defend these things against knowledgable opposition, and for good reason. They know that this kind of argumentation collapses under serious examination, and the only folks who find it convincing in the long run are those who want to believe.
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
Shall We Try for 500?
08/13/2007 - James WhiteJimmy Akin's "Go Git 'Em Boys!" post is closing in on 500 comments in the combox. I thank the few brave souls who have tried to bring some reason to the thread, despite the utter failure of the attempt. Reasoning with a mob is a tough task, believe me. The very definition of "mob mentality" involves the abandonment of reason, truthfulness, and surely...charity, once again illustrating the whole point of the pictures Akin has so grossly and obviously misrepresented and used as a club to aid in the avoidance of the fact that Beckwith had no answers Sunday night on STR because Rome's system has no answers to provide to him.
One thing you will not find in that massive thread is anyone on the Roman Catholic side attempting to engage the issues I myself raised. In fact, for the majority, they have simply accepted the twisted version put out by their co-religionists and have no interest at all in making sure they are at least attacking me truthfully. Not that most of those folks would be up for a serious discussion of those topics anyway, as their leaders try to avoid having to grapple with such things anyway. Better to just leave folks happy...and deceived.
In any case, one of the most vociferous participants in the Akin "James White is a troll---but we say that charitably, of course, because if we didn't, then those pictures would actually describe--us!" thread is someone using the nick "StubbleSpark." In one of the later postings in this thread this participant made some comments that I would like to respond to, as they would be useful to a wider audience.
Many have said already: White's actions are designed to deliberately repel the very same people he seeks to convert.I seek to be used by the Spirit as a tool in the conversion of His elect. As such I have no interest in "deliberately" repelling anyone. However, StubbleSpark seems to believe that the elect will be stumbled by truthfulness, or, on the other hand, will be attracted by compromise. Surely, if conversion were a matter of my talking someone into making a decision that I would like them to make, then I would have to play all the games that come with our truth-starved culture so as to appeal to those ruled by emotions. But I do not believe God saves His elect outside of the parameters He has laid out in Scripture. So I do not have to play those games and compromise the message. Christ's sheep will hear Christ's voice. They will not be scandalized by truth. Now, those who are religious hypocrites will surely be offended by the truth of the gospel. Such was the case in the days of the Apostles, and nothing has changed, to be sure. I am sure the Judaizers howled in protest when Galatians was circulated amongst the churches, and the proto-gnostics would have complained loudly when Colossians arrived in Colosse. But such is the nature of truth. It elicits a response--positively, by grace, and negatively, in judgment.
Beckwith's conversion is probably the most upsetting thing that happened to White since his sister became Catholic. He has all the time in the world to press Beckwith for answers to his questions but the sense of desperate urgency and impatience in his posts reveals something beyond normal panic.From the first day I announced Beckwith's reversion (and from what I've seen, I was the first to do so publicly, another "White is a bad man" move), I have said the same thing: this isn't about Frank Beckwith. It isn't about me. This is about the gospel, it is about truth, it is about the glory of God. It is bigger than any of us. It is the same issue I pointed to when the Pope died, and it will be the same issue I am pointing to by God's grace when I myself die. You may note that I have begun quoting a line at the end of my major posts. It comes from Paul, Phil. 1:7:
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
A person who sees himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, pledged to His service, and His glory, and who then, as a result, sees the gospel as the glorious message of His King, His Lord, His Savior, and realizes it is the power of God unto salvation, the means by which God is glorifying Himself in this world, will be a Christian with a singular focus and a clear eye set upon the goal. Such a person will likewise have little reason for self-aggrandizement. He or she will see that this isn't about individuals, it is about things far bigger, grander, and more important. It is about eternity.
As a result, StubbleSpark could not possibly be farther off base than in these words. Few, if any, of my most vocal opponents actually have a clue what motivates me. Almost none have any idea who I am, what I do, and why. This is proven over and over again in our debates. Until they get the idea that I see myself as merely an unprofitable servant, and that I fully realize that the kingdom of God will press on just fine without me when I am gone, and that I am blessed beyond words to have the opportunities to do the things I do, they will never be able to figure me out. And because of all of this, they completely miss the point of why I have taken the time to respond to Beckwith. They mistakenly think I'm "panicked" or "upset." I'm neither. I listened to the STR program while riding my road bike in between listening to Islamic debates in preparation for my own debate in October against Shabir Ally. I've been writing the material on the blog in between posts on Mormonism, studying the synoptic gospels regarding the events of the crucifixion, and studying Arabic. Yeah, I'm panicked alright. Just fallin' apart. Hardly! Anyone who would think that Beckwith's actions are reason for panic or anything else again has completely missed the point of how much bigger than our little selves these issues are.
I'm sorry Frank Beckwith has gone back to Rome. I'm not overly shocked, as I have listened to him speak, and I think his case illustrates the truth of what I have said many times, that there are many who are non-Catholics who are so not out of conviction but out of taste and convenience. Beckwith never abandoned Rome's view of man and of grace, and you can pretend to confess sola fide until you are blue in the face, but if you try to wed that with Rome's view of man, it simply isn't going to fly. But again, the reason I jumped on the Beckwith story wasn't about Beckwith. He was the president of the ETS. Hence, this had to do with evangelicalism. It had to do with defining the gospel. Drawing the lines between truth and error. Clarifying the call of God in the gospel. Those big things that are far more important than any of us. I saw the situation as requiring address by anyone who takes the gospel seriously and who, as a result, does not want to see the gospel blurred, confused, muffled. That's why I quickly addressed it, despite that being politically incorrect in the eyes of many. I have different priorities. Those who share my priorities will understand me and support me in that. Those that do not, won't.
So, StubbleSpark doesn't understand me. StubbleSpark does not even know what would truly upset me, or why. And until these folks figure that out, they will have very little meaningful to say by way of criticism.
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
The Year of the Cat, the Week of the Troll
08/11/2007 - James WhiteLittle did I know, last Monday morning, as I fired up my iPod shuffle (the greatest invention for road bikers ever) and turned on the Stand to Reason interview with Frank Beckwith from the night before, what lay ahead. And I don't mean on the route I rode that morning, either. The past five days have set new all-time records for vitriolic nastiness, at least on the part of those devoted to Rome, anyway. I suppose there have been brief periods of similar nastiness from other groups, maybe for a day or so, but surely nothing to compare to the utter melt down of hypocrisy that can be documented this day in numerous venues. The furor over my daring to criticize the "all praise John Paul II" road tour when the Pope died was similar, but amazingly, not as nasty.
There is a temptation to collect a couple dozen doozies from Jimmy Akin's insult fest (his article attacking my sanity and identifying me as a troll was, of course, cross-posted to the Catholic Answers forums--just for maximum hatred production, I'm sure) and from the combox at STR, but anyone who has had the misfortune of running into these folks in the net is already well aware of why the pictures I posted were so spot-on accurate. Religious ferver that is based upon ignorance, prejudice, and hatred, is a powerful source, but you can't reason with those infected by it, either. Throw in a generous dosage of lies and the complicit mob-mongering of folks like Akin and you've got the makings of a really ugly example of man's religion.
Meanwhile, the original comments I left in the STR combox have been effectively forgotten, or, more to the point, twisted into something you could not possibly recognize. Since the issues I raised are still relevant, I provide them here for those who did not pursue the attempted (and quickly ended) conversation in the STR combox. I end with the last one that was relevant---that is, after that, Beckwith successfully de-railed the topic with the "I made it sound like I had never read Trent but I really did and since you took my words in their most logical fashion I will cover my hasty retreat by noting I am two years older than you are, tired, and you are uncharitable for daring to challenge my conversion and my claims in public" maneuver.
Many years ago I was on WEZE radio in Boston, MA, with then recent Catholic convert Gerry Matatics (the same Matatics who is now a sedevacantist but who had been, up to that time, a staunch defender of orthodox Roman Catholicism, at least as staff apologist for Catholic Answers). Mr. Matatics and I had done two debates the preceding week at Boston College, one on justification, the other on the Apocrypha. At one point during the radio program I asked Mr. Matatics the following question.
How did the faithful Jewish person know that Isaiah and 2 Chronicles were Scripture fifty years before the coming of Christ?
He was completely stunned by the question. For those Roman Catholics who argue that the authority of the Church is necessary for the establishment of the canon of Scripture, rather than seeing Scripture as an artifact of revelation (a point I made in _Scripture Alone_, pp. 102-109), the question poses what I think is a truly unsolvable puzzle. Over the years since I first asked the question on the fly of Mr. Matatics, I have received the following kinds of replies:
1) Some have said no one could, in fact, know, until the Papacy was established. However, this flies in the face of the fact that the Lord Jesus held men accountable to what was found in the Scriptures during His ministry, which He could not have done had this been true.
2) Some have said they could only known by reference to the Urim and the Thummim, i.e., by asking the High Priest to inquire of the Lord on their behalf. Yes, seriously, I have had some suggest this. Obviously, it suffers from many problems, but the response to the first reply would apply equally well here.
3) Some have said they would have to follow the "Jewish magisterium." That sounds great, until you realize that the Jews never accepted the very books that Trent dogmatically canonized in 1546, creating the conundrum of magisterial contradiction.
The fact is, the question points out that the demand to have an infallible authority define the canon is anachronistic at best, and, in the case of Rome's claims, unworkable in light of the fact that the first *dogmatic* and hence *infallible* definition is that of Trent, leaving us with the untenable idea that no one could truly use Scripture until after the time of the Reformation. I leave aside here all the most interesting facts concerning how even Popes rejected the final conclusions of Trent (Pope Gregory the Great rejecting Maccabees, for example). Those who have studied these issues in depth, from both sides, well know the facts of the matter.
There is one last thing I would like to note. I would like to ask anyone who claims that the Roman Catholic Church, as it exists today, has existed for nearly 2000 years, to explain something to me. When the Council of Nicea convened, around 318 (by one count) bishops attended. Could a Roman Catholic representative point me to a single bishop at Nicea who believed what you believe de fide? That is, was there a single bishop in attendance who believed, for example, in transubstantiation? Purgatory, as defined by Rome today? Indulgences? The thesaurus meritorum? Immaculate Conception? Bodily Assumption? Papal Infallibility? If these things have been defined de fide, are we to believe that the gospel has "changed" since that time, if, in fact, these things were not defined as part of the gospel at that time? Are we not left with the specter of the comments of Gerry Matatics in my debate with him on Long Island in 1996 wherein he boldly stated, before the entire audience, that we have the very same warrant to believe in the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven that we have to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave? Hard to believe? Here is the video of him saying it:
I will be reviewing a number of the comments made on STR Sunday evening this week on The Dividing Line. I did indeed feel it was a very educational exchange.
Is the use of the term "viaticum" in the 13th canon of the Council of Nicea evidence of an early belief in indulgences?
Dr. Beckwith, in his STR interview, alleged that the practice of indulgences has roots going back to the Council of Nicea, and before. He has repeated this claim in a post on the STR blog. But does such a claim withstand scrutiny? Let's examine it. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
A Word Once Again on Prejean
08/10/2007 - James WhiteI noted that the Crimson Catholic, Jonathan Prejean, has been active, well, everywhere, in the current blogsplosion of "charity" amongst Roman Catholics aimed my direction. One of the common themes is how terrible, horrible James White hung up on saintly Prejean when he called the DL! Further documentation of just how much of a low-life I truly am.
However, those who are not satisfied with just surface level accusations might have reason to think a bit more about this. First, Prejean first called the program in October, 2004. He was on the air for 22 minutes, 51 seconds. Here is the call. Listen for yourself. No hang ups. Nice conversation. Offered to send him free materials.
The second call from 2006 took place after Prejean had, shall we say, a major change of attitude. He had just, in written form, accused me of Nestorianism, snobbery, ignorance, of "crowing" about things, etc. So the call started in a much less friendly way. But, despite that, the call lasted just under fifteen minutes in length. Fifteen minutes. I wonder, if I called Jimmy Akin next time he is on and acted like Prejean did, do you think I'd get...two minutes? Ninety seconds, perhaps? Total time Prejean has gotten on the air is right at 37 minutes. Thirty seven minutes. Hmm, I wonder why some folks try to make it sound like he has not gotten a fair shake? Think they might not want folks calling the DL?
Could It Get Any Loonier?
08/10/2007 - James WhiteYesterday I posted two pictures that any rational person knows had one point and one point only: it is hypocritical to rant and scream and threaten in religious matters while claiming to be charitable and peaceful. The result of pointing out the hypocrisy of an entire group of commentators was predictable, though I didn't expect Jimmy Akin to blow a complete gasket and make such a spectacle of himself in the process. Be that as it may, the irony is that just as we chuckle a bit when Muslims pull the "We are a religion of peace and if you say otherwise we will blow you to tiny bits!" trick so too the folks at Akin's board and elsewhere just don't get the idea that calling for me to be "charitable" while throwing every possible kind of insult at me, from questioning my mental stability, intelligence, honesty, integrity---well, you name it---does nothing more than prove my point. Since last evening Akin's next "here's some gas, and here's a match" type of post has garnered, as of this writing, 301 combox comments. You do not have to read through half of them to come to the conclusion that "charity" is the last thing driving the comments of the Roman Catholics there. Hatred and animosity, yes, charity, no. So, Jimmy, thanks: debate over. Case closed. You lose.
Anyway, one comment in particular was pointed out to me, and I just had to post part of it here. You really, really have to wonder if "Paul" went back and re-read what he wrote here. Check it out:
James White is, quite simply, a moron. His arguments are moronic. He is a moron not of necessity (for that would not be something to be held against him), but rather a moron of convenience. I think his stupidity is a defense against the Truth that is the Roman Catholic Church. And, as he is becoming more stupid, I can only imagine it as a sign that he is moving closer to Rome. His arguments appear as a patter of weak hands against the door of the Church, not sure if they are thrusting away or bidding entrance. I would not be surprised if White becomes a Catholic in the next few years. Given, of course, good charity and a clear head from those whom he listens.Yes, well, my mother was a hamster and my father smelt of elderberry, too, right? (If you don't get that, never mind). In any case, did Paul really mean to say that as I become more stupid I am moving closer to Rome? Does it follow that if I reach the very heights of moronhood that I will most assuredly swim the Tiber? Is that what he really wanted to suggest?
I can't help but think of just a few months ago when, in the thread at the CA Forums calling for a day of fasting for my conversion to Rome, the thread was filled with the ever-present insults, slams, lies, etc.---all very charitable, of course. Do these folks really think that lying about me, slamming what I have written without showing the first bit of knowledge of it is supposed to attract me to this religion? Evidently, but I confess, I don't begin to understand the mindset.
In any case, to dear Paul, the charitable combox commentator there: Thank you so much for your kind words. I can assure you, the only time I will darken the door of the church of Rome is to engage her defenders in debate. There is nothing in your system to attract me. Your papacy repels me for many reasons, biblically and historically, and I would refer any honest-hearted person to the debates I have engaged on this topic. Your gospel is a shadow, a shell, a soul-enslaving treadmill of never-perfecting sacraments without a perfect Savior, without a true promise of God-centered salvation. I will never understand how anyone who once professed the true faith could embrace it, but, of course, I don't believe anyone who has, by the Spirit's power, come to know their own sinfulness and Christ's glorious sufficiency could do so. Empty profession is no bulwark against apostasy. So really, Paul, your religion has nothing to offer me. It has no attraction. I know its image as the "ancient church," shrouded in the mists of time, is but a facade. I've spent too much time in the early sources to buy the facile arguments of Rome's apologists. My feet are firmly planted on the solid, unmovable rock of Scripture, so you don't need to worry about this moron sitting next to you someday at your services. But I do thank you for joining so many of your co-religionists in proving my points for me regarding how to be charitably uncharitable. No one has ever been so charitable while calling me a moron. Many thanks.
A Great Comparison
08/10/2007 - James WhiteIt is rare that you get to provide such a contrast as this, but this one is great. First, start out with this blog entry by Steve Ray, Catholic apologist who, ironically, just finished a DVD about the Apostolic Fathers. Why is it ironic? Well, read on. Look at his entry and see if he interacts with anything relevant to context, meaning, etc. Read his combox.
Now, read TQuid's inquiry about the text, but most importantly, read the combox comments offered, especially the citation of Whelton, and David King's contribution.
In which entry do you get any real idea of the context, meaning, and hence, historical relevance, of the Basil citation? And given how long Steve Ray has been doing what he is doing, how could he not be familiar with the issues surrounding the miscitation of this text?
This is how modern RC apologetics propogates itself: ignore the other side, ignore replies, challenges, and just keep repeating the same mantra over and over again.
John Chrysostom on Matthew 16:18-19
08/10/2007 - James White
Having said to Peter, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonas, and of having promised to lay the foundation of the Church upon his confession; not long after He says, Get thee behind me, Satan. And elsewhere he said, Upon this rock. He did not say upon Peter for it is not upon the man, but upon his own faith that the church is built. And what is this faith? You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (In pentecosten 52.806.75 - 52.807.1)
Akin Loses It: White "Vile, Despicable, Childish, a Troll" A Troll??
08/09/2007 - James White
What White has done here is not humor.Then, a little later, he continues his rant,
It is vile. It is reprehensible. It is despicable. It is outrageous. If White were thinking rationally, he would see this.
Hence, White has lost his mind when it comes to this. He is not functioning as a rational agent on this topic.
James, you lose.
If you were Catholic, I'd tell you to go to confession.
What you did was vile, unacceptable, and childish. You have reduced yourself to the status of a troll.
If you can't immediately see that and make amends then no one, knowing that you are capable of this, should engage you in debate or discussions of any kind. (source)
Thus the lead apologist of Catholic Answers, a man who has been documented to have promoted errors in his arguments for Rome repeatedly over the years, feigns shock and horror while ignoring the point of the gross hypocrisy he fosters at his blog and in his comboxes---and, as a staff member in high standing of Catholic Answers---in the Catholic Answers forums. He has not only refused to acknowledge the reality of the double standards displayed with regularity by Roman Catholics in his comboxes, but he himself has promoted it, ignoring the truth so as to promote the claims of Rome. Read the lengthy rants on his blog. Does he step in and point out the obvious double standard of his fellow followers of Rome? No, he lit the match to start the conflagration, just as the imams in Islamic countries whip up the fervor of their followers. I know Jimmy Akin is more than intelligent enough to get the biting irony of "behead those who lack charity." It is a graphic, and utterly truthful, demonstration of the double-standard of his followers who can ravage others without reason while insisting that they do so out of charity. And the frightening part is, that's exactly how those who served Rome in the Inquisition viewed their work. They were so wedded to Rome as the Mother Church that they felt the imprisonment, torture, and even execution, of "heretics" was for the good of the church and of the heretics as well! And once someone becomes that warped, there is nothing they won't do in the name of God. Rome engaged in that kind of butchery for centuries, and while her followers today lack the political power to continue that kind of activity, the mindset has not been banished.
The hypocrisy of Akin's behavior should be noted. If he were truly so offended, he would not re-post the pictures which he finds so offensive. But he did. Why? Simple. He knows what the pictures are about, and he knows that to take them the way he pretends he has is absurd. But he doesn't care about that. He has an audience to impress and to excite, and so he knows if he appeals to the emotions of that group he can use the pictures to his own advantage. (There might also be a bit of "I'll cover for you, Frank...you get out of the limelight for a while, I'll draw White's fire!")
By the way, Akin tries to connect these pictures to horrible actions of jihadists around the world. I had posted both of these pictures on my blog before, and pointed out that both were almost laughable: they are of the very same kinds of people that Akin is whipping into a frenzy now (just different false religions): those who are easily manipulated into acting in irrational fashions for no serious reason at all. In fact, I had originally posted the first picture and noted it was about a bunch of folks all hopped up about Salmon Rushdie and I noted that I bet not a one of them had an actual clue about what they were so upset about. Which was the point. The second guy is in the UK and is hiding his identity--another act of cowardly hypocrisy. Hence the point of both pictures: those who are ranting and raving about me while ignoring the issues and the arguments I have presented are no different than these wild-eyed zealots. Irrational zealotry is not limited to Islam. Service to any false religion, including Romanism, can create it. Historical illustration: C R U S A D E S. And one other thing: if Akin is so righteously indignant about Islam, why isn't he doing what I am doing to refute the claims of Islam? Actions speak louder than words, even when those words are hysterically written or spoken.
Of course, Akin has been avoiding doing a real debate since he lost the only one we have done (on KIXL), and he seems to likewise be using this so as to have an excuse to keep hiding from that challenge. I had just last week begun examining our BAM encounter from 1995, documenting where he failed to respond to my very first statements in the program, so possibly he is aware that the challenge is going to be repeated by others who likewise wonder why the "lead" apologist for Catholic Answers continues to avoid those challenges? Maybe he realizes I will be pointing out his errors and inconsistencies in the "BAM Debate" as CA likes to call it, showing how he stands against even Roman Catholic scholarship in saying what he did about the e;comen / e;cwmen variant at Romans 5:1, and I likewise intend to find time to document his amateurish errors regarding his comments about the proper translation of ivdi,aj evpilu,sewj at 2 Peter 1:20. Akin pretends expertise in these areas he simply does not possess, and makes his living off of so doing. He needs means by which to avoid having to be exposed before his audience on matters such as these, and he has chosen to fan the flames of angry and venomous hatred of his audience against (note the irony here) his "separated brethren" so as to provide himself "cover."
Some have wondered why I am not allowing these kinds of vitriolic, hypocritical attacks to go by in silence. Simple. This is nothing less than intimidation, an effort to shut up those who would dare question Rome and, in this case, her newest prize "convert." And I will have none of it. I have been consistent from the first day I blogged about Beckwith's reversion to Rome. This isn't about him, and as much as Akin and the many others who join him in attacking me personally want it to be, it isn't about me, either. I have been spot-on-focus from the start, and that fact is documented, too. I knew exactly what the Roman apologetics community would do with his actions. And I knew the faith of many might well be upset as well. So what did I do? From the start I put the spotlight on the key issues. Gospel and authority. Would Beckwith say anything more than Rome has been saying all along? Would this be just another opportunity to once again edify the saints by reminding them of the firm foundation that has stood the test of time despite all the best efforts of Rome and every other form of false religion to undermine it? And in those very first posts I warned anyone with ears to hear: this is about things much larger than Frank Beckwith or James White or anyone else. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and it is more precious, more important, than any man, his wealth, status, and reputation. Today in our society we think on such a small scale, with such a focus upon ourselves and our little world of interests that we struggle to see the bigger picture, the things that are of so much more value. I will not be intimidated into silence by those who scream and shout while covering their ears. The issues are too important.
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
Gerry Matatics on Sedevacantism on Iron Sharpens Iron
08/09/2007 - James WhiteIt was almost surreal to be on Iron Sharpens Iron today to try, anyway, to talk with Gerry Matatics about his adoption of the sedevacantist position (he doesn't like the term, and prefers "consistent Catholicism," but I must say, that phraseology really communicates nothing about the peculiar aspects of his beliefs). As always, Gerry got the lion's share of the time (mainly because you can't break into him because he has the amazing ability to talk without ever pausing to breathe), but I still managed to get a few statements in, mainly after the middle of the program. I would love to hear Matatics and one of the "mainline" apologists debate this topic, I really would, but that is probably not high on the mainline apologists' list of "things to do before I die." But maybe something will be worked out. In any case, if you would like to hear the initial interview with Gerry alone, it is here, and today's program that included me...at least after the half hour part, is here.
Charitable Accusations of Dishonesty and "Doctoring"
08/09/2007 - James WhiteWhat an amazing sight greeted me this morning as I arrived at my office. Crowds of faithful followers of Rome had gathered in the parking lot in support of the Charitable Dr. Beckwith, calling for my immediate repentance and adoption of charity (i.e., stop pointing out the obvious, stop challenging Rome's claims, stop focusing upon issues rather than feelings, join hands and stand in awe of all conversion stories and give equal weight and value to all "journeys" even if they involve, in your honest belief and faith, acts of glowing apostasy and involve a denial of the gospel to which you are pledged). I admit their dress is a bit odd for this area, but their fervor could not be denied!
Yes, I know. How uncharitable of me. Dr. Beckwith can tell an audience he expected Trent to read like a Dan Brown novel (though, of course, he already knew better, having read it before), but if I use humor, it is uncharitable. I'm getting the idea. Charitable = in support of Mother Rome, uncharitable = in support of biblical Christianity and the Reformation.
Each morning this week has brought fresh reason to sit and shake one's head. This morning, I was directed to the following accusation, posted, charitably, of course, by Dr. Beckwith even as he claims (repeatedly) to be "done" with the topic. So, as a parting accusation of dishonesty on my part, Dr. Beckwith, charitably, makes the following accusation:
The point is this: to say that someone "repeatedly denied" something when the second instance, the "repetition," was a clear non-denial is in fact to bear false witness against one's neighbor. Of course, Mr. White could deny having known of the Ignatius Press piece. But, as I will show, that can’t really be an option. First, it would mean there would be no "second instance" and thus no "repetition." It's difficult to claim that I repeatedly denied something if it's not even clear I did it once let alone a second time. And second, and this is revealing, we in fact know that Mr. White is aware of my Ignatius interview, for he clips and pastes from a blog post of mine [I have inserted this as a link, and note it so that no further charges of tampering/doctoring will be leveled against me] in which I mention the Ignatius Press interview as well as several others interviews. Here's White's post in which he links to my post that mentions the Ignatius Press interview [link inserted].Now, please note the charitable means by which Beckwith ravages my character, honesty, integrity, etc., all the while very charitably ignoring the mountain of relevant, cogent, meaningful issues I have raised. If I respond to Dr. Beckwith, my response will be uncharitable, by definition, of course. (Is the pattern emerging here with sufficient clarity?)
In that post, sadly, White took isolated portions of my original post and ran them together as if they had appeared that way in the original. He did not place a “....” to indicate missing text. Thus, he doctored my original in order to make it seem as if my post was all about doing Catholic apologetics, when in fact it was a thank you to those who had written to my wife and me and to whom we had not written back. In that same post, I also link to the works of thoughtful critics of my reversion, including Carl Truemann, Christianity Today's editorial board, and Timothy George (in First Things). I encourage you to read it for yourself.
This is why character counts. And this is why Jesus said, “Follow me,” not merely, “Believe me,” though it is with faith the journey starts. This is why grace is supposed to transform us, not merely pardon us, though we indeed were pardoned at the moment we became new creatures at our conversions.
I'm through sparring on this topic. It is, at the end of the day, a colossal waste of the gifts God gave me. (I think Tim knows that already). Also, I need to prepare for my real job, Professor at Baylor University. The Fall semester begins in two weeks and I am teaching two courses, Logic and Legal Reasoning, and Law, Science and Society. I also need to get ready for the arrival of my parents from Las Vegas. They will be joining us on August 18 for my wife’s confirmation, her full reception into the Catholic Church.
I find the accusation of "doctoring," and Dr. Beckwith's attempt to read my mind and discern my motives, beyond absurd, and given the man's obvious intelligence, I can only conclude that he has no means of responding to the refutations I have offered of his claims, the critique of his reasoning, etc. So, like so many others in the Roman communion, it is far easier to attack the man, gain the applause of Rome's legions of adoring followers, and move on. Nothing new, but, I expected it might at least take a little while for Dr. Beckwith to read through the entire "Roman Catholic Apologetics Manual of Operations."
Here, in its entirety, is the huge, massive, long post to which Beckwith refers, and upon which he accuses me of dishonesty and doctoring of the text:
The "I Came Home to Rome" Tour Begins
The question "will Beckwith's reversion be used as a Roman Catholic apologetics tool" is being answered.
As I have traveled over the past three months--speaking at assorted venues around the United States--I have had inquiries from many about the deliberations that went into our decision. As I have said already, I am working on a book that will document my pilgrimage and offer an account of my journey.
Over the next two months I will be interviewed by Greg Koukl (President of Stand to Reason) on his radio program (August 5) as well as on Catholic Answers Live (September 5) and the television program, The Journey Home (September 24). Each of these is a call-in program.
posted at 17:09:12 on 07/29/07 by James R. White - Category: Roman Catholicism - edit
Now, please note: a full and accurate link to Beckwith's own blog entry is provided. Anyone who wanted to read the original was given the ability to do so. If I had any interest at all in trying to "doctor" Beckwith's post, I would not provide a link to the original for anyone to read for themselves.
Next, my actual contribution to the entry is one full sentence which is nothing more than a reference to Beckwith's own post. When I commented on Beckwith beginning to give his reasons for conversion on my blog (the fact that I have always pointed out his own assertion that he will be writing a book, and hence, till then, all discussions are preliminary, would be considered by some rather charitable, though, we know, of course, by definition, it can't be, since I am, by definition, uncharitable), I quoted his statements from the single article I have reviewed fully, which appeared in The National Catholic Register. I had not read, nor did I cite, the Ignatius Press article.
Next, until this week, I had in fact held out some hope that Beckwith would resist the siren call of RC apologetics and recognize the inherent problems involved in becoming a "star convert" (who is actually just a revert). But I know the RC apologetics world. I'm their favorite target. So when I saw his announcement that he would be on both Catholic Answers Live and The Journey Home, it became obvious to me that, in answer to a single particular question, that being would he be "used" by Roman Catholic apologists, the answer was coming to light, "yes."
Now, I quoted two portions of the article to which I had linked first that were relevant. I simply could have posted one sentence, but I chose the two portions of the text that addressed the issue, "Will Beckwith seek to have an apologetic presence in defense of Rome?" Those two sections included his statement that he was writing a book on the topic, and, that he would be on STR, CA Live, and The Journey Home.
Evidently, Beckwith's entire basis for now, charitably, of course, accusing me of "isolating" and "doctoring" and, on that basis, of, charitably, insinuating that I lack character and that this is due to a false belief I hold about the gospel, is that between the two portions of text that I cited right after giving the link to his entire blog article I did not put "..." Yes, my character would have been proven sound if, though I had directed folks to his own original words, when I put the relevant material on my blog, instead of this:
As I have traveled over the past three months--speaking at assorted venues around the United States--I have had inquiries from many about the deliberations that went into our decision. As I have said already, I am working on a book that will document my pilgrimage and offer an account of my journey.
Over the next two months I will be interviewed by Greg Koukl (President of Stand to Reason) on his radio program (August 5) as well as on Catholic Answers Live (September 5) and the television program, The Journey Home (September 24). Each of these is a call-in program.
I had put this:
As I have traveled over the past three months--speaking at assorted venues around the United States--I have had inquiries from many about the deliberations that went into our decision. As I have said already, I am working on a book that will document my pilgrimage and offer an account of my journey.Now, Dr. Beckwith illustrates for us how to charitably read someone's words in assuming that I was trying to convince folks that his original post, which I had linked to (uncharitably, I'm sure), was all about Catholic apologetics. The reasoning process whereby he comes to this conclusion he does not, charitably, share with us. I know it is uncharitable of me to point this out, but I can't help myself.
Over the next two months I will be interviewed by Greg Koukl (President of Stand to Reason) on his radio program (August 5) as well as on Catholic Answers Live (September 5) and the television program, The Journey Home (September 24). Each of these is a call-in program.
Now, I have obviously attempted to insert a bit of levity, and a bit of humorous sarcasm here, for the simple reason that I'm to the point where you either have to laugh or cry. I have raised serious, substantive issues in the original posts on the STR web board. I raised serious, substantive issues in my blog articles in response to Beckwith's The National Catholic Register articles. But only one side wants to address these issues as if they are relevant to eternity. The other side wants to "share journeys in safe places." I'm sorry, but did I miss something here? Isn't Beckwith in the camp that agrees that when it comes to life and death issues, such as abortion, you don't play games with words? Hasn't he argued forcefully for life? Is the gospel less important, less definable, and less vital? So why all these silly games, all this smoke and all these mirrors? Could it be that Frank Beckwith simply doesn't have the answers?
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
The Journey Home and Biblical Anarchy
08/09/2007 - James SwanCatholic apologist Gary Michuta was on The Journey Home (8/6/07). Marianne from Pennsylvania called in and described her method of Bible study: she opens the Bible to any page, and then gets layers of meaning from the text. She wanted to know if this was a normal method of Biblical reading and interpretation. Here is the clip:
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Gary responds that it is okay to engage the Scriptures in such fashion, and yes, there are layers of meaning one can glean from the sacred text. One can read a passage through the virtues of faith, hope, or love (note, the practice of the medieval exegetes found four layers of meaning for each verse). He also notes you can consult authorities, and of course, the ultimate authority is the Catholic Church.
If anyone in my adult Sunday School class asked this question, they would be held after class. Gary's answer would not be the answer I would give. His response is indeed a blueprint for anarchy, prompting the host, Marcus Grodi to quickly add that one must check context and actually be careful. Gary likewise has to add to his answer.
Grodi though proceeds to take a shot at sola scriptura, as if adherents of sola scriptura would advocate the approach Marianne uses! The actual understanding and application of sola scriptura is completely misunderstood by The Journey Home. Grodi wants to make sure that Marianne, though allowed to come up with her own layers of meaning, consults the Roman Catholic Church or the early church fathers. With the later, one will be hard pressed to find total unanimity on particular passages of Scripture. With the former, Grodi goes on to point out that the Roman Catholic Church has only defined the meaning of a handful of passages.
Marianne is left with a bit of a dilemma. Her choice are:
1. Come up with her own layers of meaning
2. Consult a magisterium that isn't doing its job as an infallible interpreter
3. Navigate through the differing opinions of the early church fathers
Rather, I would offer Marianne a different solution. I would instruct her to become a student of the Bible. I would first explain to her what the term exegesis means. It is "to lead the native meaning out from the words." Then I would walk her through the rules of exegesis, noting such things like author, audience, historical setting, grammar, lexicography, and so on. But most of all, I would impress upon her the holiness of God, and the holiness of His Word. It is not something to be taken lightly. If she savingly believes in Christ, the words of Scripture will be the food that sustains her. Catholics can often caricature sola scriptura as a blueprint for anarchy. I ask, is not the real blueprint for anarchy the answers given by Mr. Michuta and Mr. Grodi?
Simply Amazing Indeed -- Updated
08/08/2007 - James WhiteJimmy Akin has joined the "stone James White" movement here. Of course, as is normal with Akin, you will not find a scintilla of interaction with what I have actually said, let alone how one can be "misinformed" by the very words you read on a page as to the content of what is in the book you are reading! Once again, "All is fair in the service of Mother Church." By the way, I listened to the BAM program Catholic Answers so often promotes, and I am very, very happy they do so. I will be playing segments on the DL in the near future, but especially the section about "baptism" that Catholic Answers so often mentions. Staples mentioned it on CA Live last week, and I played his comments on the DL. "It's no wonder James White could not respond to him" was his comment, or words to that effect. So I was fascinated to get to that point while riding this morning. They are right. I couldn't respond. But...that was because we went to a commercial break as soon as Akin finished making his claim, and when we came back out, Hank took the conversation another direction! I was never even given the opportunity to respond (another reason why calling this a "debate" is such a sham). And yet, this has been repeated, over and over, as evidence of how well things went! I was amazed. But more when we get to it on the DL.
Rich was looking through the flood of "Go git 'im Jimmy" comments on Akin's blog (I saw a single person who had the ability to avoid the epidemic of Romanist Rabies long enough to go, "Uh, wait...Beckwith didn't say he had read Trent before, and, uh, you know, if you read this, it sorta sounds like....") and he ran across good ol' Guardian. You remember him. He's the fellow who talked about all my errors in my debates and, when I challenged him to call the DL, he did. When I asked for the list of my errors, he said he would provide it...in three months. So, evidently, he's hard at work. Anyway, Rich noticed something at the end of a comment he left on Jimmy Akin's blog. He's still referring to me as "ol Jimbo White." Here's the comment:
As ridiculous and however psychologically messed up Ole' Jimbo White is, there is always hope for him to come to the truth. Keep him in your prayers.
Posted by: Guardian | Aug 8, 2007 11:57:36 AM
Go ahead. Click the link to www.jamesrwhite.org. Isn't that special? Someone is actually spending money to register my name as a domain name and send it over to...Catholic Answers. I'm honored! That someone would be so desperate as to spend their time and their money in this fashion is glowing testimony that despite all the venomous hatred spewed my direction by the hoi polloi in the CA Forums, Envoy Forums, Jimmy Akin's blog, etc., they well know that it is not the Jack Chicks of the world, the Dave Hunts of the world, that challenge them. No, they know that all their proclamations of victorious defense of Mother Church are only convincing as long as they stay far, far away from www.aomin.org and the documented, reasoned, compelling argumentation against Rome's claims to be found there. That's why Envoy filters the aomin.org URL out of all submissions. That's why someone is paying money to direct folks to catholic.com using my name. They know the "answers" they repeat endlessly amongst themselves are shallow and unconvincing, and they know those "answers" do not survive the light of day, the light of examination, the rigor of debate. If they truly believed otherwise, we would have a line of callers waiting at every DL, chomping at the bit to demonstrate the overwhelming power of Rome's proclamation. But we don't. And deep down in their hearts, the Guardians of the world know they are doing nothing more than suppressing the truth, and it makes them desperate. Desperate enough to register my name as a domain name and redirect it over to Catholic Answers. The irony is, they are redirecting it over to an organization whose primary apologists are the very ones who have turned down repeated challenges to engage in moderated, public debate!
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
Dr. Beckwith Replies
08/08/2007 - James WhiteI provide the full text of Dr. Beckwith's response:
I just couldn't help myself. Below is my reply to Mr. White's questions. Each question is preceded by a number. My answer follows the question.
I really don't think these are serious questions, since they are not the sorts of questions that one asks if one is reading another charitably. That is, when reading another person's claims and arguments, one should always think to oneself--if I were so-and-so how would I reply to my inquiries? What this exercise does for the mind and soul is deeply virtuous. For it nurtures empathy--a moral virtue--but it also results in sharpening one's own arguments and reasons. After all, if you can come up with a plausible account of another's case, then it is that plausible account and not the original take that one must confront and assess. This helps one to avoid the straw man fallacy, which we are all prone to commit now and again.
Nevertheless, I respond to these questions because it will give STR readers an opportunity to see what happens when one artificially detaches analytic disputation from the virtues of the soul. It harms oneself--and in this case, Mr. White's moral development--and it teaches others--his readers--to be uncharitable and mean under the mantle of biblical authority.
1) How can a person be shocked by re-reading something they read twenty years ago. Is it your claim that you had completely forgotten everything you had read then?
The same way one feels when one runs into an old girlfriend and then wonders what one saw in her in the first place. Before you run into her, you "remember" her in one way. When you see her again, you realize that that was puppy love and not real love. And sometimes one quivers at the thought that one could have married that person.
It is safe to say that Paul re-read the Old Testament differently after his conversion and was shocked at what he found. After all, if he had read the OT correctly to begin with he would not have persecuted the church. A good friend of mine from graduate school shared with me how much more persuasive Christian apologetics works seemed to him after he had become a Christian. He told me, "These arguments that I dismissed prior to my conversion seem so convincing now." This is a common phenomenon among reflective souls.
2) Or is it your claim that you were so completely prejudiced in your twenties that you could not even read the document in a meaningful fashion?
My reading was both prejudiced and meaningful. It was shaped by my Lutheran professors and my lack of philosophical sophistication. For this reason, I read Trent more like a prosecutor looking to convict a defendant rather than a student seeking to learn. I loved my Lutheran professors, but I have since come to the conclusion that they were wrong.
3) How can someone speak of "expecting to read" something in a document that they have already read?
See answers to 1 and 2. As an aside, it is common for scholars to see things differently and more clearly (or more ambiguously, as the case may be) over time as one begins to get a fuller picture of a particular subject matter and its primary texts. Because I am an academic with different obligations and responsibilities than those involved in popular polemics, I am blessed with a lifestyle that allows me the time and resources (and brilliant graduate students and colleagues) to ruminate about and think through many texts and issues.
4) Are you claiming that your prejudices were do deep that you had actually made up in your mind things like "sticking pins in your eyes" and "flagellation"?
I was making a humorous allusion to the Opus Dei loon from the DaVinci Code. It's typical Beckwith humor. "How many Gnostic Aesthetics does it take to screw in a light bulb?"
5) How can you find "amazing" things in a document you read twenty years ago? Did you simply not read it well enough to understand it then?
I read it well, but not well enough. See answers 1, 2, and 3.
6) If you read this document, how is it relevant to claim that you had not been "told" the truth about it?
I not only read Trent. I read about it. Those commentators read the document uncharitably. That shaped my reading. Happens all the time. See answers 1, 2, 3, and 7
7) If you read the document, how could you be misinformed about its contents?
The same way that a Mormon can read the Bible a hundred times and still get Mormon theology out of it. A text is not like a box with things in it, "contents." It is something to be approached with humility and teachability. For example, at one time I fully accepted the notion of the imputation of Christ's alien righteousness as unambiguously biblical. And, in fact, one will always get that out of the text if one approaches it with entrenched Reformed assumptions (informed by late medieval nominalism, a philosophy implicitly hostile to Christian philosophical anthropology, IMHO). However, if one begins to reflect on the entirety of Christian history and the numerous exegetes who have seen different "contents," equally at home with the same text, one begins to have a fuller picture of the sorts of philosophical and anthropological issues that were at stake during the Reformation.
That's enough for now. (I know I've said that before. But this time I'm serious!).
Thank you for indulging me (pardon the pun).
Now, my comments, which, in the eyes of the Catholics currently posting on the comments thread at STR, are, by nature, ridiculous and uncharitable. No, it doesn't matter what I will say, or how I will say it. The fact that I will open my mouth (move my fingers on a keyboard) is all they need to go ad-hominem.
Let's say I said the following on a radio program. I am talking about a reading marathon I did in January of this year, and I say the following:
And let me say, if you read the Book of Mormon...which, by the way, really shocked me. I expected to read this sort of horrible book, you know, requiring people to marry multiple wives and go through temple ceremonies, and it turns out that there are things in there that are quite amazing. It talks about Jesus Christ and salvation by grace! I mean, I thought to myself, I had not been told...I had been misinformed!
Now, would any rational, indeed, charitable person, read that to mean, "I had read the Book of Mormon before. But I was so completely unfair in my reading of it originally, so completely bigoted in my opposition to Mormonism, that I was completely blind to it, and in fact, I was so biased, that I pretty much forgot every single thing it actually said, warped it so much in my mind that I inserted all sorts of things that were not in fact in it at all, and was so completely self-deceived that I could claim to have been misinformed!"? I would never have concluded that that was what Dr. Beckwith meant which is the only possible way to hear what he said on STR Sunday night. In fact...would it be "charitable" of me to read those words in such an insulting fashion? But evidently, unless you do read it that way, you are being uncharitable. (Well, let's face it: for Rome's followers, unless you smile and applaud every convert while ignoring the realities of their claims you are uncharitable).
Next, if I read his words in the most logical sense in which they can be taken, Beckwith now insists this is impacting my "moral development." May I suggest that the problem in moral development here is Dr. Beckwith's? You see, he has succumbed to the "Pauline Convert Syndrome." He is getting a tremendous amount of attention as a freshly minted convert to Rome (just as Matatics, Hahn, Sungenis, etc., have experienced in the past). As such, it is natural for him to embellish his conversion, or, to use his words, his "journey." Now, what he said on STR, and what he has said in other contexts, regarding Trent, was meant to allow him to emphasize how wonderful Trent's actual words are. The words he used on STR were misleading, and any semi-unbiased person who reads them knows this is the case. Instead of admitting this, and saying, "OK, well, I embellished my comments on Trent, sorry about that," Beckwith has chosen to make this an issue about me instead. Only the most hardened followers of Rome can possibly be impressed by this kind of smoke and mirrors.
Dr. Beckwith has, for many years, insisted that words have meaning. Words are related to other words, creating a context. Now, while I truly sit utterly amazed that Beckwith is even arguing these points, as his words seem so obvious and clear, since he has done so, I need to point out where his replies fail the simplest tests of logical coherence. Let's remember his actual words:
"If you read the Council of Trent...which, by the way, really shocked me. I expected to read this sort of horrible document, you know, requiring people to stick pins in their eyes, you know, and flagellate themselves, you know, and it turns out that there are things in there that are quite amazing, that the initial grace is given to us by God, in fact, there's a condemnation in there for anyone who says that our works, apart from grace...I mean, I thought to myself, I had not been told...I had been misinformed!"...
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Tomorrow on Iron Sharpens Iron
08/08/2007 - James WhiteOn Chris Arnzen's Iron Sharpens Iron program on Thursday I will be reviewing today's interview he did with Gerry Matatics on his views as a sedevacantist (one who rejects the current Roman leadership as valid). An e-mail account has been set up to allow folks to e-mail questions to the program at email@example.com. Remember, the program is at 3pm EDT, and you can listen here.
Beckwith Claims to Have Read Trent
08/08/2007 - James WhiteLet's make it clear. Frank Beckwith claims to have read the Council of Trent prior to January of this year, and, seemingly, he is going to use my pointing to his comments about Trent as his sole means of avoiding the dozen or so issues I have raised since yesterday (in the materials below, such as Canon 13 at Nicea/Canon 6, the actual development of the complex of beliefs giving rise to indulgences, patristic citations---all the things he has avoided even commenting upon even though he raised the issues to which they are relevant) and as his sole means of covering his retreat. And yes, I use the term retreat for the simple reason that it was Dr. Beckwith who has made particular theological and historical claims, but, when challenged, for some reason, refuses to back them up. Evidently, in the minds of many in the Roman communion (as evidenced by their comments on Jimmy Akin's blog, the Catholic Answers forums, and the STR comments thread), he doesn't have to back up what he says. That is only something those outside "Mother Church" have to do.
He likewise is referring to this statement as the genesis of "internet midrash," which I find an interesting use of the term. He has said so on the Catholic Answers forums. So I would like to offer Dr. Beckwith all the space he needs right here on my blog to explain how, if he in fact read the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent in his twenties, he could say the following Sunday evening on Stand to Reason 42:37 into the program:
"If you read the Council of Trent...which, by the way, really shocked me. I expected to read this sort of horrible document, you know, requiring people to stick pins in their eyes, you know, and flagellate themselves, you know, and it turns out that there are things in there that are quite amazing, that the initial grace is given to us by God, in fact, there's a condemnation in there for anyone who says that our works, apart from grace...I mean, I thought to myself, I had not been told...I had been misinformed!"Specifically, if Dr. Beckwith wishes to provide replies to the following, I will gladly post them:
1) How can a person be shocked by re-reading something they read twenty years ago. Is it your claim that you had completely forgotten everything you had read then? Or is it your claim that you were so completely prejudiced in your twenties that you could not even read the document in a meaningful fashion?
2) How can someone speak of "expecting to read" something in a document that they have already read? Are you claiming that your prejudices were so deep that you had actually made up in your mind things like "sticking pins in your eyes" and "flagellation"?
3) How can you find "amazing" things in a document you read twenty years ago? Did you simply not read it well enough to understand it then?
4) If you read this document, how is it relevant to claim that you had not been "told" the truth about it?
5) If you read the document, how could you be misinformed about its contents?
Finally, would not a perfectly fair minded reading of these statements lead any rational person to the conclusion that this was, in fact, your first reading of the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent?
I will gladly post Dr. Beckwith's response here on this blog for all to read, should he wish to respond to this "Internet midrash."
While reviewing the thread on the Catholic Answers forums I saw no meaningful response to any of the issues raised in the materials cited in the previous blog entry (from the comments thread on the STR blog). ...
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A Great Example of Roman Obscurantism
08/07/2007 - James WhiteI have often commented on the fact that comments sections in blogs are rarely helpful. In fact, they invite the worst of the Internet to show up to attempt to gain a very brief audience for their viewpoints. And it seems that when it comes to Rome, those who post in defense of that system believe they have no reason to actually listen to what anyone else has to say, let alone do they need to do any reading in sources other than their own. Here are two examples.
First, Steve Camp actually decided to post over on Jimmy Akin's blog. The replies are classic "we see nothing beyond our very narrow realm" types of ad-hominem filled invective. Read at your own risk.
Over at the STR blog, the number of comments have doubled fairly quickly. And since I linked to the blog this morning, a number of other folks have showed up, and, as normal, led by some of my regular RC Internet stalkers like David Waltz, the "you are so mean!" ad-hominem has taken over, ending the usefulness of the thread. This is a common tactic: ignore the substance, go personal, and you will have the admiration of the majority of mushy-thinking modern readers. But those who are not so easily thrown off track can see what happened in that commentary thread. To help others, I am collecting the comments from Frank Beckwith, to which I replied, and putting them together here in the order in which they took place. I will let the readers judge: who brought up important, meaningful questions, and who ignored those issues?
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The Beckwith Saga Unfolds
08/07/2007 - James WhiteI have been commenting on the Stand to Reason blog in response to claims being made by Frank Beckwith. You can see the comment thread here. As I noted yesterday, I will be reviewing the STR interview today on the DL. One of the issues I will be discussing early on is the fact that I felt Beckwith, at one point, took advantage of Koukl's friendship in launching into a complaint that he didn't feel the interview was going the direction he had expected. He wanted a "safe" place to "share" his "journey." While that sounds wonderfully fluffy and warm, I do wonder---would either Beckwith or Koukl let a person who had once been a leader in the pro-life movement, who switched and become pro-abortion, come on the program to just "share their journey," and use such reasoning to avoid direct, fair, relevant questions? I would surely hope not. Yet, that is what Beckwith was asking. As the President of ETS the man took an action that had implications far beyond himself (to whom much is given, much is required). This isn't about Frank Beckwith's feelings. It's about the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So Dr. Beckwith, if you don't want to be challenged, do not put yourself in the position of acting like a Catholic apologist. You can't seem to make up your mind if you are going to try to take on that mantle or not. But Greg Koukl was right up front in the very first comments he made on the program. He said there was going to be disagreement. It is hardly fair to get into the discussion, demonstrate that you simply don't have any meaningful answers (let alone biblically compelling ones), and then complain that you were just looking for a "safe place" in which to "share your journey."
Jimmy Akin has picked up the "Koukl was unfair to Beckwith" drum here. Beckwith, whose presentation lacked any kind of biblical foundation, and who struggled to even remember where Paul spoke of "working out your salvation" (Philippians 2:12-13, Koukl had to help him out with it) let alone provide a meaningful context for the passage, complained that Koukl was "steamrolling" him, using an unfair tactic in debate. It is a given that a biblically-based Protestant is going to be far more biblically oriented in his own self-definition of his views than a Roman Catholic. It is really hard to use the Bible to express so much of Rome's unique theology, at least in a meaningful, contextual fashion. So it is hardly surprising that Koukl's presentation contained far more Scripture than Beckwith's. But if Koukl's use of Scripture is wrong, then why didn't Beckwith provide a succinct, compelling refutation of his misuse of those texts? Because that is not what Beckwith is trained to do. He is not a theologian. He is a philosopher. I think one of the things that has surprised him in the response to his action is that he cannot understand why anyone would see this as such a big thing. For him, this is mainly a philosophical "paradigm shift." Let's face the facts here: Beckwith was raised in Roman Catholicism, and I have never once heard him speak of a soul-shattering, repentance bringing, heart changing conversion to the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ. Instead, we have a man who was Jesuit trained in his schooling, who admits that he continued to hold Rome's view of man and law and nature all along, who existed in "evangelicalism" for a number of years. Given the sad state of affairs in "evangelicalism," he was never challenged on these matters, but eventually found it more comfortable to re-adjust his paradigm and go back to communion with Rome. I do not see any reason whatsoever to believe that he ever had a heart-felt commitment---coupled with any level of serious knowledge of the issues involved, theologically, historically, and biblically---to sola fide. Remember, he had never even read the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent! He surely never associated himself with an emphasis upon the doctrines of grace.
In any case, I surely felt for Greg Koukl while listening to that interview. I will say this in light of the final comments I heard on the mp3 currently available at str.org: much was made of the friendship between Koukl and Beckwith. It is just here I guess I get my reputation for being so "hard nosed" in the current post-modern situation, even in the church. Friendship that includes a common commitment to the gospel is something completely different than friendship without it. I may have cordial relationships with non Christians, but I cannot think of anyone I would call a true friend who is not a fellow believer in Christ. And I could never call a man a "friend" who was leading others to trust in a false hope, leading others away from the truth in Christ. Pretending to confess the truth of the gospel, and then denying that confession, has lasting results.
As Simply as I Can Put It
08/03/2007 - James WhiteRecently Dave Armstrong has been, once again, melting down. Our favorite dendrophilic apologist (my thanks to TQuid for that wonderful term, and please note, "dendrophilic apologist" is abbreviated "da," so, it is doubly fitting) has, of late, become rather free in his insults, racking up an impressive list of ad-hominem commentary, which puts his oft-proclaimed ecumenical kindness in a bit of a bad light. But those of us who have known Armstrong for years are hardly surprised. If you address him, and begin to examine his claims, he responds either in this fashion, or, with the "I'm so hurt, I will never talk to you, or about you, again" ploy, all of which is designed to allow him to avoid having to do serious research and argumentation. His recent use of Peter's addressing the body of a dead girl and commanding her to rise (Acts 9:40) as defense for communication with the dead is just the most recent example of the kind of "apologetic" material he produces.
In any case, Armstrong is so impressed with his own standing that he seems to think he can make up definitions for words as he goes along. It has been his practice for some time to arbitrarily define the phrase "anti-Catholic" so that he can use it of others but, due to a modern reading of Roman doctrine so as to allow for "separated brethren" to be called "Christians" while still anathematizing their theology, he can't be called an anti-Protestant. So, he arbitrarily defines the phrase so that since I deny Rome's gospel saves, I am an anti-Catholic, but since he can affirm, in some inconsistent and nebulous fashion, that I am a "Christian," then he is not an anti-Protestant.
Aside from the less than impressive coherence of such arbitrary definitions, Mr. Armstrong has, once again, in his zeal, and in his anger, missed the point. Let me see if I can clarify it, if not for him ("ears to hear"), at least for someone else.
There are anti-Catholics in the world. That is, their entire "ministry," their entire theology, is defined by their negative reaction to Catholicism. In the same way, there are anti-Mormons, anti-Jehovah's Witnesses, anti-Muslims, anti-Hindus, etc. and etc. Such folks are rarely stable in their faith, and are rarely deeply involved in the worship and service of the church, either. Most are ex-members of the groups that continue to define their lives. I've met them. We all have. And, may I add, there are anti-Protestants as well. There are Roman Catholics who are so focused upon denouncing non-Catholic theology and perspectives that they clearly can be identified with this phrase.
Now, I am a Protestant apologist. As the term Protestant is so very widely defined today, I prefer a little more specificity: I am a Reformed Baptist apologist. What I do I do not because I am focused upon any one group, but because I am focused positively upon my own profession of faith, and, I consistently defend that positive profession against those who deny its truthfulness. I am an elder, involved in the regular ministry of the church and the teaching of the Word. I have written numerous books on a wide variety of topics. I have defended Christianity in debate against Muslims and atheists; I have defended the Trinity against Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Oneness Pentecostals. I have taught, in formal seminary settings, such courses as Systematic Theology, Christology, Philosophy of Religion, Church History, Greek, Hebrew, special studies in Patristics, and numerous apologetics classes. Anyone who would insinuate that my life, my ministry, my writing, my entire ministry, is somehow defined by a negative stance toward a particular religion, or by Roman Catholicism in particular, is engaging in clear and gross falsehood.
Further, to be consistent, anyone who would insist upon calling me an "anti-Catholic" would have to likewise refer to me as an anti-Mormon, anti-Jehovah's Witness, anti-Muslim, anti-unitarian, anti-fill-in-the-rest. But who does this? And even if someone were to do so, would the effort not prove, by its ridiculous nature, that it would be far more logical to identify such a person positively by what motivates them and defines their teachings and ministry?
So, just as I refer to Roman Catholic apologists, Mormon apologists, Islamic apologists, etc., the honest person will refer to me as a Reformed Baptist apologist. As soon as you hear a person, or group, doing the "let's define our critics by our own theology" routine, you need to consider that they may well be using such language not to aid in understanding, but to diminish it through poisoning the well, prejudicing the thinking of especially their own supporters and followers. That is what Catholic Answers is up to. That is what Dave Armstrong is up to. And this activity says much about their motivations and the truthfulness of their teachings.