Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
A Trip Through Steve Ray's Combox
09/29/2007 - James WhiteAs I noted last week, Steve Ray's response (titled "The Obsessed Man Continues his Rant") to my series (which he professes to have not bothered to read---can you imagine if I replied to his 30 page pdf with the same kind of attitude?) began with these kind words:
Someone informed me that James White the Baptist was continuing his rant concerning my blog on the Assumption of Mary. The guy continues to take me far more seriously than I have ever taken him. He's really just a little man full of himself an angry know-it-all who's really just a tempest in a teapot. The only reason I have ever responded to him in the past is for the sake of others reading the material. If I had nine lives I might waste some time refuting his latest rantings, but this time his preaching is not worth responding to. Let him prattle on. I have better things to do that to respond to every pontificating anti-Catholic that sets up a blog.I had not commented on the fact that he dismisses my response as "not worth responding to." I would invite our readers to examine what has been offered thus far and see if perhaps Mr. Ray may well be guilty of a little misrepresentation here. It would be easy to waste time focusing upon such kind and charitable lines as "pontificating anti-Catholic," and "a little man full of himself," but we already know that Mr. Ray operates on a gross double-standard when it comes to such things, and, you won't find any of the folks over at Jimmy Akin's comboxes calling for him to be more charitable as a result, either, will you? In any case, I believe my blog has been active at least as long as Ray's, covers a much wider range of topics, so the attempt to dismiss it as having been set up just to pontificate in his direction is another indication of just how cavalier Ray is with the truth.
But I decided to take a quick spin through the comments Ray has allowed in response to this post, since a couple of folks contacted me and said that Ray had refused to post their replies. Hence, one can expect a very one-sided set of replies, and that is exactly what you find. Here are some of the more instructive of the comments. Erik wrote,
The greatest day is going to be when James White finally reads history, understands it (he seems to have a problem with isogesis) and, realizing his mistakes, joins RCIA and becomes a Catholic apologist.That would be "eisegesis," actually, and isn't it ironic that this would be posted in this thread, when I am providing fair, accurate replies to Ray which include patristic materials? There is an element of "look, I am putting my fingers in my ears and not listening but still saying you are wrong while not listening to you" in the comments in this thread, to be sure. "Tiber Jumper," another highly unbiased source, commented,
Your testimony and work has brought far more souls into the Church than Dr. Whites blog could ever pull out of the Church. But its not about numbers but truth. Ultimately, the Truth will set us all free.If it isn't about numbers, why cite non-existent numbers? No one has a clue what numbers are accurate or relevant regarding numbers of "converts," and anyone who knows my work knows I take the long-view, praising God for the conversion stories we do hear, but looking down the road to generations to come as well. I do get wonderful e-mails from people who have come to the truth, but I generally feel very uncomfortable asking to "use" their testimonies. That's just not how I do things. Next, if you want true irony, remember that the next comment from Randy is in response to Ray's refusal to so much as pretend to interact with the refutation of his claims:
Think of the parable of the sower. Some ground is just too hard. It needs to soften up a bit. Not just him but many of those that read his site are determined not to listen to the Catholic message. They listen to poke holes but do not REALLY listen. That is in huge contrast to so many Catholic apologists who have given protestantism every chance to convince them it is true.How many times have I documented the fact that it is Rome's apologists who so often demonstrate the "fingers in the ears" methodology of apologetics? How many times do their apologists take it as a badge of honor that they have not read my books, that they do notinteract even with the criticism I offer directly of them by playing their own words on the DL? One must truly be living in a fantasy world to think this is an accurate representation of the modern situation. Next we have Z said, and again, this is written in a combox sponsored by a man whose entire persona is self-promotion,
I dont know that I want James White to become a Catholic Apologist. I think the man does more to turn people away from whatever he is promoting, simply because the number one thing he promotes is himself.As is normal with our intrepid apologists (he identifies himself as one), no examples are given. Remember Guardian, who has had to ask for three months just to come up with documentation of an allegation he made over at Catholic Answers? Regular listeners to the DL have heard the few of these folks who have had the intestinal fortitude to call in, and when challenged on these issues, their replies have been significantly less than useful. Of course, I'd be happy to have Z said call in if he would like to provide some documentation of his allegations. Given the work that I do, it is always best to have answers, and the irony is, I have always openly admitted that there are entire areas that I will not even begin to address because I either know nothing about them, or, only have a general knowledge and I don't want anyone to invest such an opinion with any extra weight. But, I have rarely found these folks to have taken much time to actually study or listen, so I can hardly put too much weight in such comments.
Then we have Dozie the Internet Mind Reader and Amateur Psychologist. He starts out with this observation:
One of the major problems in America and in the world today is the problem of people raised in dysfunctional homes that is, raised without any standard values or proper boundaries.Then we get personal...
In observing James White and his form of rebellion and his seemingly autonomous religious existence (the man has never invoked any form of religious authority over him or made reference to any limitations his religion imposes on him and his public behavior), I cannot fail but make a connection between his approach in public discourse and the environment and values in which he grew up.And this from a person who hasn't a clueabout the "environment" in which I grew up, of course. What is more, the fact that I am an elder in a Reformed Baptist Church, affirm the vital importance of church membership, etc., only shows how little these people actually care about the accuracy or factuality of their public pronouncements. But it should be remembered, for these folks, this is an apologetic argument.They are obviously not up to the challenge of actually dealing with the issues (remember the context of the combox), so this is the only mechanism open to them: lie about the person who is presenting the historical and biblical arguments you cannot possibly refute, and use your lies as your basis for ignoring the essence of the arguments. We cannot help but feel for someone who deceived and entrapped in false religion as this person, but we must recognize the existence of this kind of rhetoric. So, in the face of the obvious hypocrisy of Steve Ray to first take me "seriously" enough to offer a 30 page pdf, and then, upon receiving criticism and refutation, all of a sudden no longer take me "seriously" enough to defend his own assertions, consider the insight we gain here into the followers of Ray. Dozie opines,
In a sense, like the radical left who grew up in dysfunctional homes, here must be an example of a radical right who was raised up badly and who inserts himself in the most obnoxious manner in conversations regarding a system he is incapable of understanding and insists that we must answer to him provide him with a certain level of refutation. I do not think a Catholic has to. I have insisted that no Protestant(who is not a seeker) has a right to make any kind of demand on a Catholic for any kind of answer. The most appropriate response to James White then is to let his matter die.When you have to attack a man's family to get around his documentation of your errors, well, you are truly bankrupt in the arena of truth.
Finally, Ray chimes in in response to another comment counseling ignoring my replies to his own claims with these words,
I agree with you completely, but there are some innocent folks who might be influenced by such nonsense and it is good for them to see that guys like White and his kind are very easy to refute. If someone does not refute them, like saints have refuted heretics in the past, then others might think they cannot be refuted. Such petty, self-important know-it-alls need to be refuted so others don't fall prey to them.OK, so which is it...am I important enough to respond to, not important enough to respond to, or am I so easy to refute? Can Ray figure it out? I'm not sure, but if he is right, and I am so good at bringing folks into Rome, how come I'm not getting invitations to debate the likes of Ray, or, appear on their radio programs? I'd think if they really believed this, they'd want to give me as broad an audience as possible to get more folks into Rome! But, of course, we know this is nothing but the bluster of a man who cobbled together a pdf from previous documents and now refuses to defend his own assertions...and errors. He melted down when refuted on the 33,000 denominations error, and hence his behavior here is hardly startling. He shows how very charitable he is with this comment,
Actually James White does more for good for the Catholic Church right where he is! I know many people that have become more convinced of the Catholic Church by listening to arrogant folks like him.
Third, if I considered White important enough and I had free time with nothing to do on my hand, I would deal with his latest rant which I haven't even taken the time to read. I responded the last few times since I did have a day or so and they were interesting topics for me to expand upon.We all know if I spoke of him in this fashion we'd never hear the end of it, but again we see the double-standard: in the service of Rome, all insults are allowed. No one will call him on it, to be sure. In any case, the comments of his supporters found in this combox give us a somewhat startling insight into the mindset of those who buy into the twisted reasoning of Ray and others.
Fourth, whenever one steps into a mud puddle with White one always feels the need of a shower. I took one last week and am now on to other projects more profitable and beneficial. However, if I have time this summer I may revisit his site and read his latest and edit my papers with Addendums to deal with his "critique."
Sippo and a Reminder (Updated)
09/29/2007 - James WhiteTuretinfan has posted a reminder to Guardian that his 90 days will be up soon. As the first DL we will be doing after the cruise and debate will be 10/23, Guardian gets almost an extra week to get all that material together. I'm looking forward to the phone call!
TQuid posted a recent diatribe of Art Sippo here. Classic Sippo...though I wish he'd post this stuff on his blog, which has gone dead for months now. Anyway, compare this rant from Sippo with this sermon (listen/download) from back in July. The contrast is...striking.
Update: Guardian wrote in an indicated that his work has him traveling a lot, and hence, he knows he will not be able to call in on 10/23, but he promises to call in, eventually. For those who don't recall, Guardian had written this about me back in July:
I don't know why you all give Ole' Jimbo White the time of day. I own and have read all of White's books regarding Catholicism, and think they lack scholarship at best and honesty at worst. In fact, I've found so many things misconstrued, not just with his books but with what he says in debates and on his blog, I simply dismiss him. Now, a lot of times he does make honest arguments, but they are laughable at best, usually.When I challenged him, he called in, and asked for ninety days to make a list. Now, I really don't know why someone would need ninety days to make a list when they make claims like that, but we were happy to oblige. Guardian concluded his note to me with these words, "Regardless, please feel free to make fun of me and do ad hominem argumentation about me until I return home and can call in." Evidently, Guardian doesn't seem to know what ad-hominem argumentation is. See, I am not the one making an argument here. He is. He made claim X, and when challenged, has demonstrated that he did not have anything to back up that claim. He asked for time. He's been given time. Now he needs more time. Fine...but all this does is make the serious minded person think that maybe, just maybe, he was not quite up front and honest in his initial statements? Maybe? Possibly? And when you make the kinds of statements he made, without evidence, isn't that a form of ad-hominem argumentation? I think so.
He's the boy that cried wolf, in my opinion.
More on Steve Ray's Double-Standards
09/26/2007 - James WhiteTurretinFan (for those who do not know the real Turretin, you should! One of the greats of the church's past!) has nailed Steve Ray's hypocrisy to the wall in his post here. That Ray's own fans do not see the double standard is quite telling, to be sure. I have had a number of folks write to me and report that they added comments to Ray's comboxes, only to have them quickly deleted. Given Ray's constant discussion of converts, evidently their testimonies of converting from Rome did not fit his attempt to create the "Everyone is Coming Home to Rome" fantasy.
Assumptions and Shallow Arguments: Steve Ray and the Poor State of Catholic Apologetics (#4)
09/24/2007 - James WhiteI continue working my way through Steve Ray's attempt to defend the bodily assumption of Mary and her queenly coronation as posted in a thirty-page pdf on his website. I note that for the first time since I began my response, Ray has taken note of it on his blog. And, as is usual for Steve Ray, his reply is bombastic, mean-spirited, insulting, condescending, and hypocritical---all at the same time! Here are his words:
Someone informed me that James White the Baptist was continuing his rant concerning my blog on the Assumption of Mary. The guy continues to take me far more seriously than I have ever taken him. He's really just a little man full of himself — an angry know-it-all who's really just a tempest in a teapot. The only reason I have ever responded to him in the past is for the sake of others reading the material. If I had nine lives I might waste some time refuting his latest rantings, but this time his preaching is not worth responding to. Let him prattle on. I have better things to do that to respond to every pontificating anti-Catholic that sets up a blog.Let's step back for a moment and ponder this example of Ray's behavior. When I initially responded to Ray, I did so in the space of a single paragraph. Just one. His response, after a certain amount of bluster, encompassed a thirty page PDF. Now, if I was just a "little man full of himself -- an angry know-it-all" back then, why did he invest the time to cobble together a thirty page long PDF, even asking for assistance from Gary Michuta? What has changed in only about a month? Well, nothing, of course. Instead, the reality of this situation is painfully clear to any honest and semi-impartial observer: no matter what I do, Ray has no intention of seriously interacting with a criticism of his assertions. When I documented his errors regarding his incessant use of the "33,000 Protestant denominations going back to the Reformation due to sola scriptura" error, his response was bluster and dissimulation. And when he realized I was going to actually invest the time, not for his sake, but for the sake of those who might be impacted by his presentation, to take his 30 page PDF apart, point by point, all of a sudden it is time to duck and run. When he puts out a 30 page PDF, it is sound scholarship. When I respond, it is the mere rantings of a rabid anti-Catholic.
But consider what would have happened had I not replied to his 30 page PDF. What would have happened? "See, White has been refuted!" You would have seen it on his blog, and others. So, if I reply, I'm a ranting anti-Catholic; if I don't, I'm a refuted anti-Catholic. If I replied to his 30 page PDF with something like "I don't have time to respond to every ranting Papist who puts up a blog," you know the response would have been "See, he's just an uncharitable anti-Catholic who can't reply!" Etc. and etc. Irrationality cannot be rationally refuted--by definition. If a man does not love the truth, he will be willing to behave in any fashion necessary to continue to love a lie. But I know fellow believers have benefited from seeing his errors documented, so I press forward with my replies, as time allows.
As noted in previous articles, Ray covers a wide variety of topics prior to actually getting to the subject, including attacking sola scriptura and making assertions of papal claims. I am working on getting through those materials before addressing his attempt to use a single event in the kingship of Solomon to provide an arbitrary and inconsistent foundation for the assumption and coronation of Mary. It has been, and remains, my assertion that the use of the Solomon and Bathsheba wherein Solomon shows great deference to his mother, and yet not only rejects her request, but kills the man who prompted it, is more of an example of the desperation of Rome than it is of sound biblical exegesis, let alone sound typology, and I add to this assertion the fact that evidently no one in the early church "saw" this connection, either (just as they did not "see" the Isaiah 22 text--in both instances, the obvious reason for this is that you don't "see" connections to beliefs that do not yet exist in the context of the Christian faith). I continue my response, though I believe I will have to put off many more replies until after the conference and debate in mid-October.
In Acts 16:4 we find that this council delivered a binding decision which was even called a dogma (Greek here for decrees or decisions is dogma). Thus, long before a book with 27 writings was ever collected and codified the Church exercised authoritative leadership with a mandate from Christ.The use of the Acts 15 council by Ray is illegitimate for many reasons. First, this meeting is not only attended by apostles (councils after the apostolic period could not, by definition, have apostles in attendance) but since it is part of Scripture itself, making it normative outside of Scripture would require much more than mere assertion. There is no question that when the apostles, led by the Holy Spirit, give a decision, that decision is binding. But what does this have to do with Rome? Nothing at all, of course. But notice especially the last sentence. Let me rewrite it in a more accurate form: "Long after the Scriptures had become fully authoritative for both Christians and Jews, the Apostles taught and preached in perfect harmony with those Scriptures and in light of the coming of Christ, and immediately their written words came to have the same kind of authority that the Old Testament Scriptures already possessed."
Ray then turns, mistakenly, I think, to Irenaeus for support of his views at this point regarding tradition. Mistakenly, I say, for two reasons. First, a study of the actual content of Irenaeus' tradition does not assist the Roman Catholic cause. What is "apostolic tradition" for Irenaeus? Well, here is one of the best definitions I know of from his pen:
These have all declared to us that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, announced by the law and the prophets; and one Christ, the Son of God. If any one do not agree to these truths, he despises the companions of the Lord; nay more, he despises Christ Himself the Lord; yea, he despises the Father also, and stands self-condemned, resisting and opposing his own salvation, as is the case with all heretics (ANF 1:414-415).I have discussed the nature of this tradition in my chapter on the subject in the Soli Deo Gloria publication on sola scriptura. I will only note here that it is clearly sub-biblical. That is, the content of this tradition is not something that exists beyond or above Scripture in any fashion. Hence, since it can be derived fromScripture, it cannot fulfill the role forced upon it by Roman Catholic apologists. Further, Irenaeus, as I have noted before on this blog, likewise attributed to a form of "apostolic tradition" the idea that Jesus had in a sense "recapitulated" all the ages of man's life in himself, being more than fifty years of age when He died. This he used as an argument against the Gnostics, but he claimed he had received this teaching from those who had known the apostles. This is, to my knowledge, the earliest example of someone claiming to know something directly due to an extra-scriptural apostolic "tradition." Of course, no one takes this alleged tradition seriously today, but this only shows how quickly such "traditions" can be corrupted, or, made up. In any case, here is Ray's citation:
Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she [the Church] is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth (Irenaeus, Heresies 3, 4 in ANF 1:416-417).It is important to keep in mind that for Irenaeus, the "church" here noted would not include Popes, Cardinals, celibate priests, transubstantiation, purgatory, or the entire corpus of Marian dogmas, and it surely was not centered by divine fiat in Rome. While Rome was an important Western see of the day, and could not be ignored, the idea that the bishop of that city was the sole possessor of the keys of the kingdom of heaven would never have crossed Irenaeus' mind. With this in mind, note what comes very shortly after this citation:
Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that no lie is in Him. (V:1).Irenaeus proves his points from Scripture, and he does not say, "Well, I would go to Scripture to prove my points, but since the bishop of Rome has only gotten started on his job, I do not yet have any infallibly defined texts that I can turn to. And since I don't want to offer you just my private interpretation...how about this weather we are having?"
Ray continues: ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Second Portion of Boston College Statement
09/20/2007 - James WhiteA few days ago I posted the first portion of my comments in the Boston College debate as part of my reply to Steve Ray. In my comments I noted that Robert Sungenis had asserted that Paul had "over-reacted" in response to Peter's actions at Antioch. In my reply I pointed out that according to inspired Scripture, Peter was not walking straight in accordance with the truth of the gospel. Here is the text:
Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?So, Paul was just exaggerating a bit about this "truth of the gospel" stuff? What an amazing statement! But, as I noted then, Sungenis began his rebuttal with a defense of his statement! You will find this at the end of this clip:
Yeah, It Was a Long Summer, but Please!
09/19/2007 - James WhiteYes, the summer months are tough on ministries. Donations are down all over, including here in the ol' A&O bunker. But after getting eight copies of the same "we are about to go belly up, we need a quarter of a million bucks right now" e-mails from Catholic Answers, I started getting another one, featuring a Madonna/child graphic, for the Catholic Answers Forums. You all know about those forums: I quote from them often enough. I have now gotten at least three, possibly four, copies of this e-mail that begins,
Dear Friend of Catholic Answers,Together with the others, I'm right at a dozen or so fund-raising e-mails from Catholic Answers. And Jim Swan sent me one he got from Sophia Institute Press that began,
Our dire financial situationhas placed a key part of our ministry at risk: our popular Internet forums.
Without a substantial infusionof money, we will be forced to curtail Catholic Answers Forums.
We need you to join us as a supporter of the extremely effective Catholic Answers Forums site.
Indeed, I've brought forth into the world over two million copies of books by the very best Catholic authors, living and dead -- authors whose holiness and wisdom continually draw souls to the Church (the perfect Church) that Christ founded 2,000 years ago.I believe a number of Dave Armstrong's titles are with Sophia Institute Press.
Now, however, all this is threatened.
We may have to close our doors.
Slow sales this past summer have left us with an empty checkbook and overdue bills approaching $75,000.
If I don't pay this soon, we'll have to cease publishing.
Here's my suggestion as to how you can help all these folks out! First, make sure you are doing what God would have you to do in supporting your local church. Then, consider supporting good ministries that have a long track record of remaining focused on what is important. I think, by God's grace, A&O qualifies. We will do our best to keep working so that Catholic Answers and the rest won't have to worry about the summer slump anymore! Meanwhile, we promise not to send anyone a dozen e-mails begging for support. We will just let you know: we need it, we hope you are blessed by what we do, and we pray God will continue to give us even more opportunities in the future to glorify His name through the proclamation and defense of the gospel.
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel
Assumptions and Shallow Arguments: Steve Ray and the Poor State of Catholic Apologetics (#3)
09/19/2007 - James WhiteI continue my examination and refutation of Steve Ray's attempt to defend Rome's dogmatic teaching of the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven, and her doctrinal teaching of the queenly coronation of Mary. In our first installment we pointed out that since the Assumption is a dogmatic teaching, the highest standard of evidence is required to defend it, and we noted that the typological and probability arguments used by Rome are surely insufficient grounds for a dogmatic teaching. In our last installment we began responding to the attack Ray launches against sola scriptura, and we continue our response at that point. Ray writes,
First, when Jesus said Farewell and ascended into heaven, he did not leave us a book. In fact, there is no record of him instructing the disciples to ever write a book, nor was there an expectation that someday there would be a collection of writings attached to the Hebrew Scripture and considered equally inspired. Nor did Jesus leave a detailed manual or cataloged tradition.
Can you imagine the Psalmist who penned the 119thspeaking like this? I sure can't. When Jesus walked the earth as God incarnate, He often said, "It is written." The one who formed earth itself held in His incarnate hands the Scriptures and read from them as God's Word in the synagogue. As Jews stood before him with stones in their hands and hatred in their hearts He looked them in the eye and said "The Scriptures cannot be broken." Jesus identified the words of Scripture as the very speaking of God, so what could possibly possess someone to opine that when Jesus returned to the presence of the Father he "did not leave us a book." The book was a given. Anyone with a Greek New Testament that places Old Testament citations in bold or italics knows that the New Testament writers were a people of the book themselves. Roman Catholics constantly forget the centrality of the Scriptures to the primitive church because the Scriptures are not central for them, to be quite honest. But Augustine knew better, for he wrote,
All things that are read from the Holy Scriptures in order to our instruction and salvation, it behooves us to hear with earnest heed.... And yet even inregard of them, (a thing which ye ought especially to observe, and to commit to your memory, because that which shall make us strong against insidious errors, God has been pleased to put in the Scriptures, against which no man dares to speak, who in any sort wishes to seem a Christian), when He had given Himself to be handled by them, that did not suffice Him, but He would also confirm by means of the Scriptures the heart of them that believe: for He looked forward to us who should be afterwards; seeing that in Him we have nothing that we can handle, but have that which we may read. Augustine, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series: Volume VII, Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Homily 2, 1 John 2:12-17, section 1.It is also ironic in the extreme to find Ray saying Jesus did not leave a catalog of tradition. So? Rome, in his view, has had nearly two thousand years to sort through all of that and give us a clear, documented listing of apostolic tradition as they define it, and they have completely failed to do so. He continues,
What DID Jesus leave as an authority for the Church He was building? He left us Twelve Menone with the Keys of the Kingdom and all Twelve with the authority to bind and loose (Matt 16:18-19; 18:15-18). He promised them the Holy Spirit to lead and teach them (John 14:25-26; 15:26; 16:7). He also promised that the decisions and judgments they made regarding the Kingdom would be ratified by King Jesus in heaven.Ah, the poor Holy Spirit. Replaced by the infallible Roman magisterium again! All of those promises about the coming of the Spirit, lost in the rush to give to Peter alone the keys of the kingdom. It is not that Ray does not know the problems with his theory. He thinks he has mustered enough snippets of citations to establish the case for all time in his book, Upon This Rock (Ignatius Press, 1999). In fact, it may well be a worthwhile project to add to the long, long list of "blog articles that need to be written" a response to each citation he makes of my own work in that book. I would enjoy the opportunity to do so, though at the moment, none of my writing projects, teaching opportunities, debates, or schooling, would push me that direction in my studying. But I shall surely put it on the "list." In any case, Ray realizes that Peter did not receive the keys in Matthew 16. He realizes the verb used in the text is future, and he goes out of his way (providing an entire Appendix in the effort, pp. 263-297) to find a way to avoid seeing Peter as receiving the keys along with the other Apostles. His primary means of accomplishing this is through the use of the Isaiah 22/Matthew 16 argument. I cannot help but smile as I read his cobbled-together footnotes (which often take up the majority of his pages in his book) for once you know the subject you see how tremendously selective he is being. But what truly makes me chuckle at this point is that it is obvious he well knows he is presenting an argument (the Isaiah 22 argument) that hasn't the first scintilla of patristic support behind it. That is, if any of the early writers had ever dreamt that Isaiah 22 is somehow the very key to establishing Petrine primacy in Rome, they did not bother ever mentioning it, since I know of no such references in the early period. Since Ray loves to throw out patristic citations (even if he fails to give a full context that would make the citations relevant), he would surely be quoting any such resources in support of his thesis, but we find a strange lack of such citations in this portion of his work.
In any case, Ray asserts that Peter receives the keys by the time of the ascension, but he does not, as far as I can see, delineate any biblical basis for assuming this. He surely avoids Matthew 18 as the point in which Peter alonereceives these keys, as he must, but he does not tell us upon what biblical basis he comes to the conclusion that by the time Jesus ascends, Peter alone holds these keys. One would think that if the universal faith of the early church was in agreementwith his views, he would make note of this. Ironically, he doesn't. Why? He knows better. As the great historian von Döllinger, in his work The Pope and the Council(Boston: Roberts, 1869), 74, asserted:
Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages in the Gospels (Matt 16:18, John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peters successors. How many Fathers have busied themselves with these texts, yet not one of them whose commentaries we possessOrigen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenashas dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter! Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His Church of the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors, but they understood by it either Christ Himself, or Peters confession of faith in Christ; often both together. Or else they thought Peter was the foundation equally with all the other Apostles, the twelve being together the foundation-stones of the church. The Fathers could the less recognize in the power of the keys, and the power of binding and loosing, any special prerogative or lordship of the Roman bishop, inasmuch as what is obvious to any one at first sight they did not regard the power first given to Peter, and afterwards conferred on all the Apostles, as any thing peculiar to him, or hereditary in the line of Roman bishops, and they held the symbol of the keys as meaning just the same as the figurative expression of binding and loosing.Join this with the fact that the "chair of Peter" in many of the early Fathers refers not to the bishop of Rome alone, but to all bishops, and you begin to see why so many of the citations Roman Catholic apologists offer really prove nothing at all. Then, consider the fact that the church at Rome itself did not even have a singular bishop until around the year 140 AD. Joseph F. Kelly, The Concise Dictionary of Early Christianity (The Liturgical Press, 1992) p. 2 says, It is likely that in the earliest Roman community a college of presbyters rather than a single bishop provided the leadership. This is echoed by Ferguson, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, and the eminent church historian J.N.D. Kelly concurs, saying, with reference to an alleged early pope, His actual functions and responsibilities can only be surmised, for the monarchial, or one-man, episcopate had not yet emerged in Rome.This is in reference to a period all the way into the middle of the second century! Ask yourself this question: if Vatican I was right, and if Christians have always believed that Peter alone was given a primacy, and that Peter alone was given the keys, and that Peters successors are aloneto be found in fullness in the bishops of Rome, why would the church at Rome go for nearly a full century without a single bishop as leader, instead using the primitive and most biblical concept of a plurality of elders?
While much more could be added at this point, I would simply direct the interested reader/observer to the debates we have done on these very subjects, especially the one with Robert Sungenis and Scott Butler from Boston College (#464). Ray's work depends a good deal upon Jesus, Peter & the Keyswhich was written by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, and David Hess (I wrote the review of this work for the CRI Journal). This is the same Scott Butler who engaged the debate at Boston College. Likewise, this is the same Scott Butler who continues to possess the video tapes of the first two debates I did with Mitch Pacwa in January of 1990, but who has never made them available for viewing. Since we have established a long history of videotaping, at our own cost, our debates with Roman Catholic apologists, and giving unedited masters to them for distribution, I believe it is only fair for Butler to reciprocate, and provide us with an unedited master of these debates for distribution. I believe the same is true of my very first debate, the debate with Gerry Matatics in August of 1990. I call upon Mr. Butler to make these video tapes available.
Here is the first of two clips I will post from that debate. You may note that when the camera pans back early in this clip you will find Scott Butler is missing. As has happened more than once, our Roman Catholic apologist opponents were not overly concerned about what we had to say during our presentation, so they don't mind leaving the room while we are speaking. Almost all of the presentation is relevant, but please note one interesting point that I had forgotten. Sungenis had asserted that Paul was simply "over-reacting" in Galatians 2:14. I will tack on the beginning of his rebuttal to the second clip so that you can actually watch him defend this assertion. I think it speaks volumes about Roman Catholic "exegesis" and "private interpretation" in light of Papal claims.
Systematic Theology and Catholic Converts
09/16/2007 - James SwanI've been reading Van Til's An Introduction To Systematic Theology. Van Til notes systematic theology seeks to offer an ordered presentation of what the Bible teaches about God. He says "the study of systematic theology will help men to preach theologically. It will help to make men proclaim the whole counsel of God. Many ministers never touch the greater part of the wealth of the revelation of God to man contained in Scripture. But systematics helps ministers to preach the whole counsel of God, and thus to make God central in their work."
Here was the point that I found most interesting:
"It is but natural to expect that, if the church is strong because its ministry understands and preaches the whole counsel of God, then the church will be able to protect itself best against false teaching of every sort. Non-indoctrinated Christians will easily fall prey to the peddlers of Russellism, spiritualism and all of the other fifty-seven varieties of heresies with which our country abounds. One-text Christians simply have no weapons of defense against these people. They may be able to quote many Scripture texts which speak, for instance, of eternal punishment, but the Russellite will be able to quote texts which, by the sound of them and taken individually, seem to teach annihilation. The net result is, at best, a loss of spiritual power because of loss of conviction. Many times, such one-text Christians themselves fall prey to the seducers voice."
Of course, I had the converts to Roman Catholicism in mind, rather than Russellites. I wonder how many of these Catholic converts actually attended churches that proclaimed the whole council of God? A question I would ask is how many Catholic converts previously went to churches with strong systematic confessions of faith, like the Westminster Confession, and how often were they taught the confession, like in a Sunday School class, and how well did their minister cover all the doctrines in the confession of faith? I would expect some rather weak answers.
Van Til states, "We have already indicated that the best apologetic defense will invariably be made by him who knows the system of truth of Scripture best." I would modify this a bit and make it a negative: "the best converts to false gospels will invariably be made by those who knows the system of truth of Scripture least."
Assumptions and Shallow Arguments: Steve Ray and the Poor State of Catholic Apologetics (#2)
09/15/2007 - James WhiteWhat do all false religions share in common? While a number of answers suggest themselves, in our context, I am referring to their united attack upon the inspiration, consistency, and sufficiency, of the Bible as the Word of God. In particular, false religions that wish to make some room for Jesus in their teaching while fundamentally altering the truth about who He is or what He did will have to find a way around the Bible. They can do this in a multitude of ways, such as the addition of new "revelation," mistranslation of the text of Scripture, or, the ever-popular "you can't figure out the Bible on your own, you need us to tell you what it is really saying" maneuver.
As we look at Steve Ray's attempt to give a defense for the dogmatic teaching of Rome regarding the bodily assumption of Mary, along with her regular teaching concerning the queenly coronation of Mary (not a dogmatic definition, but, given her regular promotion of such a teaching, surely one that falls well within appropriate criticism), we once again see the "attack Scripture as a means of smuggling your false teachings into the faith" motif. Just as the Apostle Paul did not put up with such false brethren for even a moment (Gal. 2:4-5), if we wish to follow the Apostolic example we must likewise be quick to cast the light of truth upon those who wish to bring the people of God into slavery to false religion and error.
Ray spends some time attacking a very shallow version of sola scriptura. It would probably be sufficient to simply link to the many articles and resources on sola scriptura on my own website. But that would not help most folks in seeing the errors that are part and parcel of the Roman Catholic presentation.
Surely, when it comes to trying to defend the Marian dogmas, one has to attack sola scriptura. Why? Well, as Ludwig Ott put it, "Direct and express scriptural proofs are not to be had" [Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford: IL, Tan Book Publishers, 1974), p. 208.] You have to start off making the claim that everything a Christian must believe to be a follower of Jesus Christ is not in fact to be found in a "direct and express" reading of the inspired text. As Karl Keating said in Catholicism and Fundamentalism, p. 275,
Still, fundamentalists ask, where is the proof from Scripture? Strictly, there is none. It was the Catholic Church that was commissioned by Christ to teach all nations and to teach them infallibly. The mere fact that the Church teaches the doctrine of the Assumption as something definitely true is a guarantee that it is true.Ray likewise admits that "Are these Marian dogmas explicitly spelled out in the Bible? No." and "So, what about Mary? The Church has defined certain doctrines about the Mother of Our Lord. Does everything they define have to be explicitly stated in the Bible? No." Indeed, no one would ever come to these conclusions by simply reading the text of Scripture. The early church surely did not. But this is why Ray has to begin with page after page of attacks upon sola scriptura.
Ray begins with some comments on the concept of tradition:
Though many try to turn tradition in a dirty word--the dreaded T word--the Bible is not so negative. Notice these three passages in particular that mention the existence and importance of the apostolic tradition: "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." (2 Thess 2:15); "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us." (2 Thess 3:6); "Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you." (1 Cor 11:2).We have discussed tradition ourselves...much more thoroughly than Mr. Ray has. Here is just one example from our website, an article that has been posted for many years:
At this point Mr. Palm goes well beyond the scope of a discussion of the NT usage of "tradition," and begins to engage in a good bit of special pleading for his cause. The ellipses in the quotation remove a little "however" that points us back to the discussion in Kelly of how often the early Fathers cited as yet "uncanonized" Scripture, especially that of Paul. Hence, Kelly has just indicated the high viewpoint of the written testimony to the apostolic teaching, and as a counterbalance produces the statement cited. However, he doesn't stop there. He continues on:...
Logically, as it must have done chronologically, the testimony stood prior to the documents, and it would be more correct to say that the latter were valued precisely because they were held to enshrine the former. Admittedly there is no evidence for beliefs or practices current in the period which were not vouched for in the books later known as the New Testament. But there is equally nothing to suggest, and general probability makes it unlikely, that Christian teachers had these books specifically in mind on the majority of occasions when they referred to the apostolic testimony. It is much more plausible that they were thinking generally of the common body of facts and doctrines, definite enough in outline though with varying emphases, which found expression in the Church's day-to-day preaching, liturgical action and catechetical instruction, just as must as in its formal documents (pp. 33-34).
Now that is quite different than reading the entire Roman concept of "Tradition" into Kelly's words as Mr. Palm does above! Remember, Mr. Palm's "Tradition" includes, of necessity, purgatory, indulgences, Papal Infallibility, and a whole plethora of Marian doctrines. Surely Kelly would be the first to admit that such beliefs were utterly absent from the Church's instruction and belief at this stage in history. Hence, to read Mr. Palm's capitalized Tradition back into Kelly's words is a misuse of a scholarly source, to be sure.
Now I will only mention in passing that Mr. Palm's reference to the early Father's struggle against the heretics begs the issue. What was the rule of faith they used to refute the heretics? Mr. Palm's infallible Roman Tradition? In no way. The "rule of faith" was far more simple, and was, in fact, derived from biblical sources, and is fully defendable from the Scriptures themselves. Hence, the idea that this rule of faith, this tradition, mentioned by men like Irenaeus, is in fact an extra-scriptural revelation, holds not the first drop of water.
Likewise, Ray objects at one point to the assertion that Rome's claims of infallibility force her to a functional position of sola ecclesia over against sola scriptura. He writes,
But while we Catholics do not accept sola Scriptura, we also cannot be painted into a corned [sic: corner] named sola Ecclesiathe Church alone.To which I offer this reply from this article on our website:
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Greetings from Toronto! (Armstrong Update)
09/07/2007 - James WhiteI have once again made it across the border, and look forward greatly to meeting the saints here in Toronto. My flights were in the main uneventful, but now I am rushing to make some major changes to my presentations in light of some studying I was doing on the way up here. I am thankful for the technology to be able to do so (i.e., I remain very thankful for a working, wonderful laptop computer). At the same time, I will need to focus upon this task first and foremost, which may mean that an article or two I had hoped to write today for the blog will be delayed until after my travels are over.
Part of my morning routine involves scanning through the blogs I have in my RSS feed. Most of the time that is useful and even edifying, as there are some fine resources out there. I enjoy reading what Tom Ascol has to say over on the Founder's blog, and our own James Swan has been posting some great things on his blog regarding Rome's inability to meaningfully interact with Islam (a fact I have seen over and over again as I have been moving deeper into that field of apologetic work). But given the nature of my work, I likewise have to read, or at least take note of, a lot of highly unpleasant stuff. It comes with the territory I believe is the colloquial phrase. In any case, a few easy Google searches that you can save and make a part of your iGoogle home page make keeping up with what can only be called the ranting and raving of some on the net fairly easy.
I do not have time to spend on this today, so I shall be brief. This morning Roman apologist (see my discussion of the difference between a Roman Catholic apologist and a Romanist from a few weeks ago) Dave Armstrong has posted yet another inane attack upon me based upon the most ridiculous play-on-words. It is as embarrassing as his "See, Peter spoke to a dead girl, so that means we can pray to saints" argument from back in June, or his "explicit biblical evidence for indulgences" piece a few days ago. Now he and a few other Romanists have decided that if I object to the application of the title "Vicar of Christ" to the Pope, this means I would logically have to subordinate the Spirit in a heretical sense. And the reason for this? It's easy: pick a single meaning for "vicar/vicarious" to fit your absurd assertion, ignore the original context, and voila! You have yet another wonderful apologetic argument. Childish? Of course. Absurd and laughable? Obviously. Unworthy of anyone with the slightest modicum of concern for the truth? Without doubt. Meant only as a joke? Sadly, no. For Armstrong and those like him, this kind of twisted argumentation is the substance of their religion.
The serious reader knows that my objection to the term "Vicar of Christ" is based upon the fact that it is the Spirit who is sent by the Father and the Son into the world so that believer are not "left alone," as Jesus promised in John 15-16. To give that role and title to a man is blasphemous; and what is more, it would be very easy to develop the point even further, demonstrating how often Rome has claimed authority over the church that only the Spirit of God Himself could ever truly bear and wield. But to take a different meaning of "vicar" that is utterly outside of the range of meaning that I myself have used and then turn it into an implicit charge of Trinitarian heresy is simply despicable, let alone ridiculous, especially coming from a man who has never, to my knowledge, stood before an audience in defense of the Trinity against those who would deny it, nor has he produced anything of any meaningful scholarly substance on the topic that is not a mere re-hash of the sources he cherry-picks for his interminable writings.
But more than the absurdity of the specter of Dave Armstrong pretending to be the great defender of Rome is the fact that he is aided in this by the entire Roman Catholic apologetics community. Just where are the honest, concerned Roman Catholic apologists today? You see, if you are not consistent in pointing to the problems "in house," you have no credibility with me. I have taken huge hits over the years for daring to demand that if we are going to point the finger at false religion we better be consistent "in house" as well. I have long pointed out the errors of Jack Chick, for example. I denounced the Alberto comics back in the 1980s as unworthy of those who desire to speak the truth about Roman Catholicism. I have honestly criticized the really, really bad apologetics materials that you can find in "Christian bookstores," and I have publicly criticized men like Dave Hunt for their less-than-scholarly assertions in many fields. I have played clips from debates and honestly admitted when the other side had the better point, and when "our guy" tripped up. Why? Because you have to to be able to look at yourself honestly in the mirror in the morning, that's why. It's called consistency. And if you claim to follow Him who is the Truth, you better have the highest view of truth, and practice it yourself. Sunday evening I will be preaching on that topic from Psalm 15, where we read these sobering words, Ab)b'l.Bi tm,ªa/÷ rbeîdow>, which I translate, "speaking truth in his inner-most being." Who can dwell in God's presence? The one who speaks truth--consistently--in his heart--in his mind--when no one else is looking. The man who does not engage in self-deception. Ah, the glory of God's Word.
If Roman Catholic apologists want to be taken seriously, they need to realize they have to clean house. Now, of course, if their ultimate authority is Rome, and their ultimate goal is the promotion of Rome, and nothing else, then they have no reason to worry about men like Armstrong. Let him rant and rave and put out Jack Chick level materials in defense of Rome. Who cares? But if those on the far side of the Tiber manning the defensive works actually claim to love the truth, then why are they so deathly silent in the face of the likes of Armstrong? Why are converts like Steve Ray given a complete pass to throw out the most shallow, easily refuted arguments? Is it because "hey, they get some results, and something is better than nothing!"? Is it all just pragmatism? Where are the websites denouncing the behavior of an Art Sippo? Where can I find the Roman Catholic who apologizes for the hit and run tactics of a Phil Porvaznik? If they are there, they are well hidden. I can't seem to find them.
One last example and I must get to work on pressing duties. James Swan sent me an e-mail he had received from Sophia Institute, an organization that publishes some of Dave Armstrong's books. Now, to my knowledge, Dave Armstrong has never been hired by an institution of higher learning to stand before a class and teach on a scholarly subject. To my knowledge, prior to his conversion, he was an amateur "apologist," like the guy at church who reads Walter Martin books. To this day I do not believe he has ever been hired as a professor anywhere; if he reads Greek or Hebrew I have never seen the first bit of evidence of it (and by "reads" I do not mean "has BibleWorks, can left click a mouse"). I have never seen his articles published in any journals, and the level of "scholarship" in his books is, quite simply, secondary, derivative, and shows no first-hand capacity. So with that in mind, I give you here a wonderful example of the Roman Catholic tendency to turn all converts into Paul, i.e., the Paul Syndrome. I have documented other instances of this in the past. Gerry Matatics loves to claim that he was an "anti-Catholic" before conversion---which simply means he was a consistent Protestant. I asked him once, "Gerry, what books did you write against Rome before your conversion." "I didn't." "What debates did you do?" "I didn't." "What articles did you write?" "I didn't." "What tracts did you write and distribute against Rome?" "I didn't." "What classes did you teach, outreaches did you do?" "I didn't." "So why do you call yourself a former anti-Catholic?" "I was very opposed to Roman Catholicism." Well, duh. Follow the logic of that one through. In any case, here are the opening paragraphs of an e-mail promoting Dave Armstrong's books from Sophia Institute as sent to James Swan: ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Frank Beckwith on CA Live Today
09/05/2007 - James WhiteI think I will live blog Frank Beckwith's appearance on CA Live today. It begins at 3pm PDT. You can find the link here. Be watching, as I will update as the program progresses.
Start: I wonder if Yanni knows CA Live uses his music as their theme?
Well, that's interesting. I thought Beckwith did not want to be an apologist, yet, well, he isn't here just "sharing his journey," but is acting as an apologist answering questions from the viewpoint of Roman Catholicism---is he not? Sure sounds like it to me.
President of ETS: personally, Beckwith does not sound "comfortable" in this role. He didn't on STR, he doesn't sound confident here, either.
Didn't want to resign: I do hope that my breaking the story and immediately calling for his resignation had some impact upon his appropriate decision to do so.
Fordham is a Jesuit institution. Beckwith is right. He had imbibed fundamentally Roman Catholic concepts of man and grace, and never broke with Rome on these issues. I have pointed to this a number of times.
Still a Protestant. Did you notice something? Not a word about a conversion experience, a break with Rome, a true move into a position that denied Roman Catholic teachings. He just sorta "slid" into Protestantism---can you actually do that? I don't believe so.
The practices of the early church. I wonder if Beckwith will address the differences in the early views of the Supper and those of Rome today? Or will he just keep repeating the same assertions he made on STR?
What do I lose? How about...the gospel? How about...peace? These are the words of a man who never had a passionate commitment to the gospel of grace, no doubt at all. So ask yourself: how many Christian academics today who call themselves Protestants are exactly where Beckwith was?
Bad catechesis. I wonder why Rome allowed such a horrible decline in its teachings? Wait...Vatican II led to this? Hmm, how does that work?
Lorraine Boettner. Hey, let's go after Boettner. Wait a minute...if Boettner is so bad, wouldn't Beckwith's reading of Trent, as we now know he had done, (right?) have made him realize something was wrong?
Getting Southern Baptists to be Roman Catholic. Again...I thought Beckwith wasn't going to be an apologist for Rome?
This is sweet. Again, a person who has found peace in the glorious gospel of grace would not find an invitation to deny that sufficiency of grace and of Christ to be "sweet," would he or her?
Christian...but not yet Catholic. Remember James Swan's posts on how modern Roman Catholics seek to convert people not to Christ, but to Rome? You are hearing that right now.
Ah, William Lane Craig. The leading proponent of Molinism, even after the Jesuits have abandoned it!
Developed a love for Mary? "I haven't prayed the rosary." Oh, this is heart-breaking! Do you hear this? He clearly and honestly said he has not developed a "love for Mary" as yet. Can you hear the audience gasping as I can? Think about the centrality on EWTN of Mary. Oh he sounds so uncomfortable at this point! He's almost stuttering he is stumbling for words so badly. He knows the Marian dogmas are completely without foundation. What a horrible shame to listen to this! "I've only been a Catholic for four months." Really? He was raised in it and didn't know how to pray the Rosary? I assure you, I'm not the only one shaking my head at this point.
Sola scriptura and Sunday worship. Of course Sunday worship preceded anything in the form of a Roman statement on the topic. Beckwith's response is very Protestant, to be honest, not Roman. He's still a Protestant in his thinking at least on issues like this.
Richard Bennett. An "open air" preacher has called in asking about whether Frank has read Bennett's work. Beckwith hasn't. Interesting dialogue, but hardly focused upon what matters. Anyone who has listened to the STR dialogue is now appreciating Greg Koukl's questions. He got more done in discussing serious theology in three minutes on STR than we have gotten so far in 45 minutes of interview on CA Live.
Giving the Berean Beacon URL. Sorry, that's just funny. The smoke coming out of your computer is from the CA guys fuming over someone giving out the Berean Beacon website URL! :-)
Finishing up. Well, again, what a massive contrast to the STR program! Almost nothing of substance was said in the past hour. Nothing. Not only did Beckwith struggle mightily with the Marian question, but there was truly nothing in comparison with what was brought up by the studied, in-depth, focused questions Koukl asked. I truly believe those Roman Catholics who were looking for some kind of "celebrity conversion" story that would be compelling are very disappointed at this point. Tim Staples will be on in the next hour, and if he was listening, and I expect he was, he is going to be frustrated, to be sure.
Assumptions and Shallow Arguments: Steve Ray and the Poor State of Catholic Apologetics (#1)
09/05/2007 - James WhiteOn August 13th Steve Ray posted a blog article that presented the "logic" used in Roman Catholic theology that lies behind the assumption and coronation of Mary. I replied the next day here. (Ray, in his response, has the wrong date of his own initial blog article, and links not to my initial response to him, but a later one). This began a give and take that was very one sided: on one side you had Ray's dismissive insults and ad-hominem argumentation, and on the other side factual and logical refutations focused upon the facts. Soon Ray mentioned he was going to post a lengthy refutation, co-authored by Gary Michuta. This appeared on August 21st in pdf format. It is 30 pages in length, though, the actual material directly relevant to the topic is a minority of the information. Instead, the response begins with pages of standard, oft-refuted Catholic claims, stated in such a fashion as to leave the knowledgable reader without any reason to believe Ray and those involved in the production of his response are either fully aware of, or concerned about, the refutations that have been offered of this kind of apologetic materials.
In any case, the "scatter-gun" format Ray uses throws out claims on a wide range of topics. It always takes far more time to accurately respond to falsehoods than it does to enunciate them. The errors that can be spoken in a few seconds may take many minutes to refute; falsehoods found on one page may take ten to correct. And so, responding to Ray's missive is a large task, not because it is particularly compelling argumentation (it is not), but because of the wide range of assertions he makes and how long it takes to correct his misapprehensions.
Despite the fact that my attentions are focused elsewhere, appropriately so, I have taken time to put together materials relevant to the claims Ray makes. But I wish to begin by pointing out something very important.
This discussion began when I replied to Ray's comments about the assumption and coronation of Mary. I was not replying to an obscure, irrelevant theological speculation on the part of an off-beat former fundamentalist. I tend to let such obscure things pass by, as they rarely hang around anyway. The internet is filled with the theologically speculative blog post, the theoretical musings of this person or that. I scarcely slow down long enough to notice such things. It is a bit like most of the current craze in eschatological nuttiness in post-evangelicalism. Not worth the time it takes to explain it, let alone refute it.
But the concept of the Bodily Assumption of Mary, while it may seem speculative and off-beat to many, is a completely different animal when we are speaking of its place in Roman Catholicism. While the "Queenly Coronation" element is part and parcel of Marian piety in Roman Catholicism, it is not, in and of itself, a dogmatic teaching. But the Bodily Assumption is. Since very few appreciate the difference between dogma and doctrine, a word of explanation is needed.
Roman Catholic popes have taught as doctrine the concept of Mary's standing as co-mediatrix with Christ for a hundred years. Yet, this teaching is not a dogma. A dogma is a revealed truth, a definitional truth, and it is to be accepted de fide, by faith. The Trinity is dogmatically true, and is to be accepted de fide. So is the resurrection. But Rome has gone far beyond these historic, clearly biblical teachings. For example, "It is permissible and profitable to venerate the Saints in Heaven, and to invoke their intercession" is a de fide teaching of the Roman Church. Likewise, "Christ becomes present in the Sacrament of the Altar by the transformation of the whole substance of the bread into His Body and the whole substance of the wine into His Blood" is de fide dogma, as is "The Worship of Adoration (latria) must be given to Christ present in the Eucharist." So is, "The Sacrifice of the Mass is not merely a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, but also a sacrifice of expiation and impetration," "The Church possesses the power to grant Indulgences," and "The souls of the just which, in the moment of death, are burdened with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins, enter Purgatory." These are all de fide dogmatic statements. Some come earlier in church history, but some come very, very late.
In reference to authority, such statements as "The Pope possesses full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, not merely in matters of faith and morals, but also in Church discipline and in the government of the Church" and "The Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra" are both de fide statements. They are dogma. And they come much later in history than the primitive periods of the church, to be sure.
The Marian dogmas are just that...dogmas. They are not Marian speculations. They are not "nice and pious thoughts about Mary that one may or may not takes seriously." The following statements have been defined de fide as dogma:
- Mary was conceived without stain of Original sin.
- Also after the Birth of Jesus Mary remained a Virgin.
- Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven.
Now please realize, I don't live in a fantasy world. I know a large, large portion of Roman Catholics in America today can't tell the difference between the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception. And amongst those who know the difference, many are quite indifferent and could completely care less what the bishop of Rome has said on the topic. Nominalism is rampant in Rome's religion, especially in places like Italy, and surely here in the United States as well. So I know you know of a "good Roman Catholic" who doesn't believe these things about Mary.
At the same time, those folks are not believing, practicing, orthodox Roman Catholics, either. Even Rome has said that in the past, though it seems today Rome has completely lost her spine and dares not discipline anyone any longer when it comes to what they teach or believe. But that aside, truth is still truth, and if you don't believe what Rome has defined as dogma, well, don't be too shocked here, but that means you aren't a Roman Catholic. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
One Last Set of Replies to the Top Ten List
09/03/2007 - James WhiteI was directed to another set of replies to the top ten questions I posted a few days ago in answer to a question sent in by e-mail. I don't get the feeling they were offered in an overly serious manner, so I will skip most of them. But I did find some of the comments left on the blog indicative of the mindset of many Roman Catholics, and of converts thereto. Note this one:
I had seen the excitement over White's questionaire [sic] floating around the blogosphere. I really wasn't interested in it enough to visit his site, since I was pretty confident it would be nothing more than one of his typical attacks on Catholicism. I'm glad you posted it on your blog; that's the only way I would have ever read it. Interesting stuff!
Well thank you so much! The same open-minded fairness can be heard in these comments:
Though I am not a Roman Catholic, there is much to embrace and their [sic] is much mis-representation coming from the Protestant side. I did not care for James White's smug questions.
Joseph, Don't bother with his site, I have seen enough of Mr. White to be completely turned off. I have never seen someone so sure he is right in pretty much all theological matters.
Yes, well, we wouldn't want to be confident in our beliefs now! Post-modern Westerners want you to exhibit "epistemological humility," i.e., don't proclaim the gospel with confidence. Don't say one thing is right and another is wrong. But anyway, these kind comments aside, our writer had the following to say:
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 ofthe 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?
I believe I have looked carefully. I do not know what Mr. White means by unanimous consent.
The phrase is used by Rome at the 4th Session of the Council of Trent, in these famous words:
Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,--in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, --wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,--whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,--hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published.
Vatican I used similar language:
...we, therefore, for the preservation, safe-keeping, and increase of the Catholic flock, with the approval of the sacred Council, do judge it to be necessary to propose to the belief and acceptance of all the faithful, in accordance with the ancient and constant faith of the universal Church, the doctrine touching the institution, perpetuity, and nature of the sacred Apostolic Primacy...
At open variance with this clear doctrine of Holy Scripture as it has been ever understood by the Catholic Church are the perverse opinions of those who, while they distort the form of government established by Christ the Lord in his Church, deny that Peter in his single person, preferably to all the other Apostles, whether taken separately or together, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction;
Note the words of Satis Cognitum (June, 1896): "Wherefore, in the decree of the Vatican Council as to the nature and authority of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, no newly conceived opinion is set forth, but the venerable and constant belief of every age.
If he means that 100% of church fathers have to believe something for the Catholic claims to be valid, that would give, ex post facto, a limitless veto power to any one father (who would not have realized he was wielding this power when he wrote). I do not know if he means Papal Infallibility the way I have read it defended.
I mean unanimous consent isn't really unanimous consent, and that while Roman controversialists like to use it in its "big" sense in passing, they then have to make it "not so unanimous" and, in the very doctrines Rome uses it most, admit that "well, unanimous might actually be less than 50%."
I do not know what remains to be explained about the Pornocracy et al.My questions were not really intended for those willing to accept any "explanation" no matter how stretched or shaky it might be, to be honest.
The Catholics claim that the church is not free from sinful people; they say the Church is semper reformanda.Of course, no one has ever claimed that impeccability is required. But anyone who has read about the history of the Papacy knows there is a difference between impeccability and basic, simple regeneration. And for a lengthy period, the Papacy was held by men the lost world itself considered reprobates. Evidently, when it comes to the Papacy, no amount of immoral behavior, false teaching, or general improper behavior, is sufficient to overthrow the ever-strong desire for a king.
No one questions the authority of the Apostles, but what does this have to do with Honorius, I might ask? Or Innocent III? If the last portion of the last sentence has something to do with a claim regarding canonization, why would it take 1546 years to accomplish this task, I am forced to wonder?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?
I have applied the same standards to all my analysis, thank you for asking. Regarding circular logic, I believe the Romanist would say that Christ promised us that he would give his Holy Spirit, and the Book of Acts records this very event. This, and Christs commissioning of the Apostles should give us some reason to believe that their claims to authority could be valid, certainly valid enough to identify which texts this same Holy Spirit inspired.
Rome's claims do not nearly produce harmony.Well, I am not sure what this means, but it does remind me of an off-the-cuff remark one of my debate opponents made years ago. I really dont think he meant to say whathe said, but it was an honest remark. I pointed out that there was a whole stream of Roman Catholic opinion different than his own on an important point, and sort of absent mindedly he said, "Yes, there are a lot more opinions since we stopped the Inquisition." Uh, yeah, I guess so. Rome's claims...and her political power...surely did produce a form of "harmony," if you consider that a meaningful use of the term. I would say harmony that is produced by anything other than the Spirit of God applying the truth of God from the Word of God is not true harmony. Today I would invite this writer to visit Boston College sometime and see just how harmonious Rome really is. When Rome starts bringing discipline to bear on the wild-eyed liberal wackos who parade under the banner of "Roman Catholic scholarship" then we can talk about "harmony." Till then, I find the claim significantly less than compelling.
Many walked away from Christ when he explained that His flesh had to be eaten for salvation.Funny, when you actually read the text, it says they walked away because He kept saying, "And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.' As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore." That looks like it says "as a result of this," but one might need the Pope to explain the actual grammatical construction. Oh, wait...I don't believe this text has been infallibly interpreted yet. If Jimmy Akin is correct, and only eight texts have been infallibly defined, that's one text every...two hundred and fifty years. Well, I guess we could hold out and hope that by 2250 this text will be the next one infallibly determined, but the chances are not overly good.
Rome's criticism (in observing the factionalism of Protestantism) is that our claim that the Bible is a sufficient sole rule of faith has been disproved by reality, as we are in such wide disagreement on its interpretation, even in essential matters.So, the realistic factionalism of Rome would prove the magisterium insufficient, yes? Or, is the entire argument that a sufficient rule of faith is supposed to banish the sinfulness of man? Man's ignorance? Rebellion? Traditions? Given that there were false teachers in the days of the Apostles, and no one would argue that they were an insufficient guide, why is it assumed that the existence of false teachers in the days of the Scriptures means they are insufficient? Of course, these issues have been addressed many times, so I wonder if this writer has, in fact, read Goode or Whitaker or Salmon?
There may not be harmony, or even obedience in Catholicism about the use of, say, the Pill (an abortifacient), but at least everyone understands that their Church has spoken against it.As if that is the only area where Roman Catholics disagree! Given that the literary mass of the teachings of Rome is far larger than that of the Bible, upon what logical basis are we to believe that it is easier to interpret that body of literature than it is the Bible?
Incidentally, and speaking of essentials, I believe Calvin would say that Mr. White's Reformed Baptists are not part of the true church, since they do not properly attend to the Sacraments.I haven't any idea why this shot was included, but while that would have been true (does he think I am unaware of this?), what does it have to do with anything? I hold Calvin to the same standard I hold anyone else to--the very standard he would have had me use, if he could be allowed to be consistent given his historical situation. I have recently provided what is, I think, an excellent example of how this works in my debate with Bill Shishko on baptism.
Regarding Indulgences and Paul's doctrine of Grace, this textual criticism does not account for the Catholic defense that Indulgences are able to relieve only temporal punishment. Eternal punishment is cured by Christs grace alone (Cf. Paul's doctrine of grace taught to the Romans).It may be quite convenient to make such a distinction so as to dismiss the words of Indulgentiarum Doctrina,but the fact is the text speaks of God's grace as God's grace in words that would make any mind trained in apostolic doctrine as revealed in inspired Scripture jolt in revulsion. You can do your best to get around this kind of abhorrent material, butit is part and parcel of Rome's literary production, and more importantly, a part of her theology. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Material Sufficiency and Joseph Ratzinger
09/02/2007 - James SwanThe Scriptures are materially sufficient. This simply means the content of divine revelation God intends His people to have is contained entirely in Scripture. That is, all the doctrines Christians are to believe are found in the Bible. The Bible alone is a sufficient source for the believer. The Scriptures are God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16), and the very voice of God (Rom. 9:17; Gal.3:8). Christians have an infallible standard by which to judge the words of men (Acts 17:11). The Bible is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105). It was the standard the Lord Jesus used to evaluate extra-biblical tradition (Mt. 15:3-6). All things are subject to it, nothing stands by its side as its equal. There is no tradition or infallible church that shares its unique place in the life of the believer.
Some Catholics advocate a particular form of this view. Along with affirming totum in Scriptura, Catholics who maintain a type of material sufficiency also hold Tradition likewise contains the entire content of revelation: totum in traditione. This Tradition is seen as an active process of handing down truth, and that truth is a living heritage, or content. Thus, for some Roman Catholics, two vehicles carry God's special revelation in total: Scripture and Tradition. Both are infallible.
To my understanding, this is not the official view of the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, it is one acceptable view within their sect. The other would be the view that part of God's special revelation is contained in the Scripture, and part is contained in Tradition. This would be the partim-partim view. In this view, the Bible is materially insufficient. The New Catholic Encyclopedia states of those who hold this view, "Neither tradition nor Scripture contains the whole apostolic tradition. Scripture is materially (i.e., in content) insufficient, requiring oral tradition as a complement to be true to the whole divine revelation" [Source: New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) Vol 14, p.228].
While still a Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger (now the Pope) stated, "...no one is seriously able to maintain that there is a proof in Scripture for every catholic doctrine" [See Joseph Ratzinger's "The Transmission of Divine Revelation" in Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), Vol. 3, p. 195]. Ratzinger made this comment with the documents of Vatican II (article nine of Dei verbum) in mind.
Recently, a Roman Catholic stated on my blog that a Protestant using this quote as it is cited above is citing it out of context. He posited Ratzinger clearly embraced "totem in sacra scriptura- totem in traditione." He didn't provide any relevant information to explain Ratzinger's view of "totem in sacra scriptura," but he did attempt to explain what Ratzinger meant in the above citation, stating that "...he [Ratzinger] was dealing with interpretation (formal sufficiency) and not simply material sufficiency." Earlier though in the same document, Ratzinger states the problem of the material completeness of Scripture was under dispute in 1965, and that "finally the idea of any tradition of this kind was rejected." This would indeed harmonize with Ratzinger's statement, "...no one is seriously able to maintain that there is a proof in Scripture for every catholic doctrine." Both these sentences reside in the same context.
But perhaps the confusion demonstrated by this Roman Catholic is due to the ambiguity of Ratzinger's words. Ratzinger goes on to point out that even Protestants really don't believe in material sufficiency. Quoting H. Ott, Ratzinger states an ecumenical protestant should realize "... it is surely also true for a Protestant who has not forgotten the basis of the Reformation that we do not acquire certainty about God's revelation only from Holy Scripture, but also through preaching and the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit." In other words, Material sufficiency is false even for Protestants, because God uses means outside of Scripture with his people.
But this is a false understanding of what Protestants mean by material sufficiency. "Acquiring certainty" is not extra-Biblical revelation. 1 John 5:13 states, "These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God." Similarly John 20:31 states, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." The certainty I have is due to the fact that no authority can stand above God's word to validate God's word. God says in the Scriptures "I can know," and therefore, I can know! Further, by implication, Ratzinger holds that the Roman Church provides certainty, but this indeed is an unproven assertion. There is no decree from God stating that the Roman Church is infallible and provides absolute certainty. It is simply assumed by adherents of Roman Catholicism.
Ratzinger also attempts to use preaching as a denial of material sufficiency. But what is preaching? It is the oral proclamation of God's Word. What content preached will savingly penetrate the heart? Only the Word of God, not cute anecdotes, jokes, or stories. The Word of God is that which is sharper than any double edged sword, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb. 4:12), whether spoken or written. Ministers are to preach the Word in season and out of season, to correct, rebuke and encourage. The content of their preaching, if they wish to be true men of God, is the content given in sacred Scripture.
Ratzinger then uses the "inner testimony of the Holy Spirit" to disprove material sufficiency. But one only believes in the "inner testimony of the Holy Spirit" because the Bible affirms and teaches it. Romans 8:16 states, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." How do I know with certainty that I savingly believe God's word? Because God's word states my certainty is due to God's Spirit confirming the Gospel in my heart. It explains and describes what is going on inside me, in the same way the Bible explains and confirms how non-believers are spiritually dead in sin.
The real problem as I see it, is that Ratzinger speaks in ambiguous language. At times he appears to affirm material sufficiency, and then other times, he clearly denies it. It's no wonder Catholics are often confused on exactly where and to what extent God's revelation is located. Further, the giant elephants in the Catholic room are such things like the Assumption or papal infallibility. Things like this can't be found in Scripture, nor can they be traced via Tradition back to the early church. Thus, whatever form of material sufficiency men like Ratzinger or Congar attempt to embrace, they will never be able to be consistent to an exclusive source of revelation without radical redefinition of terms. In some way, partim-partim will have to be redefined to mean "totem in sacra scriptura- totem in traditione."
Thus, on one of them most vital aspects of authority, Catholics are not united as to the understanding of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. One would think the hierarchy of the Roman Church would at least provide a clear and definitive statement by which Catholic theologians could agree, particularly since the Roman Church claims infallibility and the ability to interpret God's Word. That this isn't the case is obvious to any who try to navigate through Catholic discussions on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. Perhaps a Catholic could claim the Church has spoken clearly, but because of the fallibility of men, they simply can't understand the explanations. This of course makes one wonder why the infallible interpreter causes the wisest of the Roman sect to disagree with each other, while the Scriptures give light and understanding to the simple (Ps. 119:130). Jesus and the Apostles never debated on the relationship of infallible Tradition and infallible Scripture, nor does a believer have to today. A believer can simply rest in God's promise that His Word will make one wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15), and will thoroughly equip for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17).
More in Response to our Catholic Convert
09/02/2007 - James WhiteSince I have found another response to my "ten questions" list on line, I will abbreviate the rest of my reply to our catholic convert that I began a few days ago so that I can try to wrap up some of this current Roman Catholic topic and get focused upon other issues in my studies and here on the blog.
That is very interesting, but it really doesn't tell us anything, unless what is being said is, "I did not understand the Scripture before, and I still do not, but reading them by inserting anachronistic interpretations derived from Rome makes it all so clear." Did these texts not have a meaning when they were written? And is it being asserted that no one could know that meaning until a much later time? And what if the meaning of these texts goes contrary to what Rome would later define? Have any of these texts been infallibly defined? If not, does it not follow that your understanding of them even now is fallible? And even if they have, are you sure you understand the allegedly infallible interpretation?Have you seriously considered the ramifications of Romes 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?
In fact, I have been so blessed by reading texts like these in the light of Catholic tradition. It has opened up so much greater depth of understanding of the scriptures. It has explained many verses that never madesense to my protestant way of thinking. There have just been so many more exclamation marks than question marks.
The point is not so much that I have but people much smarter and much holier than me have. Lots of saints, lots of converts, lots of amazing Christians that have an insight into the scriptures I can only dream of. They lived in many different times and came from many different culture. Catholic teaching on all of these question is massively scrutinized. To suggest that nobody has read these scriptures and remained Catholic is beyond silly. It shows a VERY narrow view of history andSo, in essence, "I really can't understand that stuff...I'll just have to trust someone else." How many times have I spoken to a Mormon and, upon bringing the Word of God to bear upon a false teaching of Mormonism, they have responded in like fashion? Is this truly a Christian attitude toward the Word of God? "It is a light...unto the path of others, who then guide me along in the darkness."
No, 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?"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?
Have I pondered what it means to persevere to the end? Of course. Is that such a thing to do. Nobody can snatch me Gods hand. I don't jump I will remain there. So I need to keep saying yes to God. I have the grace of the true Word of God and the true That is pretty powerful.
How many Catholics really believe the teachings of the church does not matter. What matters is if they are true or not. They are. Catholics that have the strong spiritual fruit are the orthodox ones. The rest are people who just don't influence my spiritual thinking one way or the other.If the defection of so many Roman Catholics from historic Roman Catholic theology doesn't matter, why does the existence of wackos on TBN count as evidence against sola scriptura?
Note how its original meaning truly is irrelevant at this point. Sola ecclesia, sola Roma.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 Christs 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?
This is a common mistake. Just because a doctrine develops in a way that was not foreseen in the early church does not make it false. Remember Catholics don't believe Sola Scriptora so they dont have to find clear teaching. All that is required is to find that scripture when read and interpreted through sacred tradition teaches the doctrine.
Not the custom or the practice but the doctrine behind it. The doctrine of the papacy more than meets that standard. In fact, protestant readings of Matt 16:18 just never made sense to me.Really? So, reading the text and recognizing that the rock is Peter's confession, which unites all Christians, and that the topic remains Jesus throughout the text, never made sense to you? But a reading that talks about "this Rock" but actually makes it "you, Peter," makes sense? Reading it so that Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, becomes the first bishop of Rome, and so Jesus is talking about the bishops of a church that would not be founded for years and would not even have a singular bishop until 110-120 years after the events of Matthew 16 makes more "sense"? Is that really what you want to suggest?
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?A bit the same as the last time.You need to understand development of doctrine. I know that is foreign to the Sola Scriptora mindset where everything has to have a proof text. Even so, protestants buy doctrines all the time that have little support in scripture and no tradition behind them. They have no logical basis for new teaching to develop. Catholics do.
Really? So, once you understand Newman's development hypothesis, you will be able to accept that doctrines that flow from gnostic thought can, over time, without apostolic foundation or Scriptural basis, become definitional of the Christian faith? Just what doctrines do I, as a Protestant, believe, that originated in Gnosticism?
Understanding deepens and grows over time. The church is there to make sure no error gets introduced. So we are not constantly relearning the same truths they did centuries ago with no hope of new discovery. We are part of a living tradition that does learn and grow. The immaculate conception cannot be understood apart from some knowledge of genetics. So the apostles could not have taught it. They would never have guessed how much of a persons nature is defined at conception.The IC requires genetic knowledge? Really? Are you sure of your own understanding of this dogma?
All the teachings about Mary are really about Jesus.Really? And you know this by infallible teaching as well?
When we learn something about Jesus it has implications for what we can say about Mary. That is why Christology grew up before Mariology. It has nothing to do with Gnosticism. Gnostics denied Jesus was physically human.Some did...but if it has nothing to do with Gnosticism, why do your own scholars identify the original sources of many of the Marian dogmas as being...gnostic? Have you read anything like Stephen Shoemaker's work, Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption (Oxford, 2006)? Is there any kind of evidence at all that could falsify Rome's Marian dogmas, once you have accepted Rome's authority claims? And if there is not, does this not demonstrate the circular nature of Rome's position?
Talking about His mother is a very powerful way to affirm that Jesus is physical and human. He not only had a body but it developed inside Mary for 9 months and therefore she needed to be prepared for such a job.Or confessing that Jesus died and rose again is an even more powerful way. Now, I know the Apostles and the early Christians did that. I do not have the first bit of evidence that they ever talked about Mary as perpetually a virgin, or immaculately conceived, or bodily assumed into heaven...so...why should I?
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 Gods 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?
This is the easiest one of all. I continue to believe in I am saved because I am in Christ. I no longer separate that from the idea of being in sacramental union with the body of Christ.just seems like you have no clue what the heart of Catholicism is. It is grace from first to last. Yes grace through the sacraments. They are part of gracenot an alternative to grace. Yes, grace by faith expressing itself through love. My Catholic faith is greatly enriched by my days as a protestant. Very little of what I learned there has been repudiated. Becoming Catholic was a refinement of my protestant faith and not a rejection of it. I am still a biblical, evangelical christian.
Will it be a difficult day when our convert discovers that the Protestantized version of Rome's gospel he has accepted is inconsistent with that taught by Rome over the years? Or will that ever happen, in light of an ever less doctrinally oriented Roman Catholicism in the West, one enamored with inclusivism and even universalism? Or will this convert do what so many others have done and adopt a "cafeteria style" Catholicism that picks and chooses what will be believed and what will not? It is hard to say, but the saddest thing is that the essence of the last question clearly went right past our convert, which would indicate significantly less than enough reading and study in both his former beliefs (whatever they might have been) and Rome's soteriology as well. Which, I think, was why I wrote the questions I did in answer to the e-mail. Of course, it is an act of God's grace that would ever allow a person to realize the importance of the question, let alone what it means to him or her.
---in the defense and confirmation of the gospel