Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Abuse of Ignatius of Antioch by Roman Catholic Apologist Steve Ray (Final)
02/29/2008 - James White
Apologetics for The Masses
02/26/2008 - James SwanI am subscribed to a number of Roman Catholic e-newsletters. One particular newsletter is Apologetics for The Masses by John Martignoni. The latest issue included some interesting comments on how to dialog with Protestants. John claims to have developed a line of questioning that is supposed to befuddle Protestants. When encountering "someone who has a problem with Catholic teaching and they seem to think their opinion is what the Scripture actually says," John suggests asking in response "are you an authentic interpreter of the Bible?" He explains:
"If someone says they are an 'authentic interpreter' of the Bible, then that leads to the question of infallibility. If they are an authentic interpreter of the Bible, then they must be infallible. Yet, most Protestants... will never claim to be infallible. So, that puts them in a predicament. Plus, if they claim to be an authentic interpreter of the Bible, then the logical question is: Who appointed you to be an authentic interpreter of the Bible? If they say the Bible did, then you ask them for chapter and verse as to where their name appears so that you might believe them. If they say anyone else, then you ask by what authority that person or persons appointed them authentic interpreters of the Bible. If they don't claim to be an 'authentic interpreter' of the Bible, then that means their interpretation of the Bible must necessarily be fallible- in other words, they have to admit their interpretation could be wrong. And, if they could be wrong, then why should you, or anyone else, risk the salvation of your soul on what this person is saying?"
Here we have an excellent example of obfuscation by Catholic rhetoric. This is a version of the typical, "You need an infallible authority to understand the Bible" argument. One must apply the claim being put forth to see if it works in practice. Catholic apologists use these tired arguments as if... they actually work. They do not. Rather than actually opening the Bible, looking at a passage and its context, Mr. Martignoni suggests questioning if any of us are infallible interpreters. For Martignoni, the Bible must be so cryptic, confusing, and difficult, that none of us could ever understand any of it without being infallible! Just think of how difficult it is to understand such verses like Acts 3:1, "One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer- at three in the afternoon." Imagine, for Martignoni, without an infallible understanding of this text, none of us could ever comprehend even this simple verse.
Martignoni's argument actually insults the author of the Bible. Throughout the Scriptures, it is stated and implied that the Bible can be understood. Luke tells us the Bereans "were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11). How would Martignoni approach these people? Where was the Roman Catholic infallible interpreter guiding the Bereans to read their Bibles? To be consistent, Martignoni would have to conclude the Bereans were in quite a predicament! He would have to similarly ask, "Who appointed them to be an authentic interpreters of the Bible?"
I would argue, even a non-believer could exegete a verse of Scripture and comprehend a passage in a context. Of course, that person would never savingly believe in the power of the text without the work of God's Spirit illuminating and giving understanding. The words of the Scripture would be nothing more than foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). When the Lord chastised the Sadducees in Matthew 22, he stated they were in error because they did not know the Scriptures. He further states, "have you not read what God said to you?" (Mt. 22:31). The Lord Jesus clearly held these men responsible for knowing and understanding the Scriptures. Were the Sadducees supposed to respond, "How could we? We did not have an authentic interpreter of the Bible!"
Martignoni's apologetic reminded me of a section from A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (London: Thomas Nelson, 1953) pp. 11-12. In speaking of the Reformation, the commentary states, "A dumb and difficult book was substituted for the living voice of the Church, in order that each one should be able to make for himself the religion which suited his feelings." It is pointed out how positive it has been for the Roman Church to keep the Bible out of the hands of individuals: "We must also keep in mind that whenever or wherever reading endangers the purity of Christian thought and living the unum necessarium it has to be wisely restricted."
The irony of course, is that Roman Catholics are forced to excessive amounts of private interpretation because their infallible interpreter rarely does what it says it can do. It rarely, if ever, infallibly interprets Scripture. Sure, Rome makes dogmatic pronouncements. Up until something is dogmatically defined, Roman Catholics are free to interpret Biblical passages. Also, what Roman apologists rarely tell you is that the Biblical texts used to support a dogma haven't been infallibly defined. That is, the dogma is infallible, but the proof texts supporting the dogma have not been infallibly interpreted. In essence, Martignoni's Church can't deliver the goods promised.
Martignoni then suggests methods of doing apologetics, and it was simply too ironic not to mention:
"What I would suggest, if you wish to cut down on your response time, is to steal stuff from other folks. Steal things from my newsletters. Go to Catholic.com (Catholic Answers website) and use their search engine to look for articles on whatever topic you're discussing. Don't hesitate to lift verbiage from an article here and an article there. If you want to cite your source fine, but if you want to leave that out- I don't see any problem, as long as you're doing it in private correspondence."
Irony of ironies: Martignoni doesn't direct his readers to infallible Roman documents, he directs them to Catholic apologists and websites! He directs his readers to fallible interpreters of Roman Catholicism! He then states,
"I don't know of any Catholic apologist who would mind if you quote them without citation- not for the purpose of self-aggrandizement or for profit- but for the purpose of saving a soul. After all, I don't know of any Catholic apologists who are coming up with original stuff. These arguments have been out there for hundreds of years. I always tell people that if there is anything original in any of my stuff, it's quite by accident."
Well, he does have point. The new e-pologists have not reinvented the Catholic wheel. What should be obvious, is that Catholic apologists are not infallible, and they are interpreters of Roman Catholicism, and they are not always unified in their argumentation. The very avenue of certainty Martignoni directs his readers down is a dead end. Enough of these arguments that the Bible can't be understood without Rome. Rome hasn't really infallibly interpreted much of the Bible, and based on what it comes up with by dogmatic pronouncements, I'm going to stick with the work of exegesis and the Holy Spirit to confirm the message of Scripture.
Behold Modern Roman Catholic Apologetics
02/26/2008 - James WhiteIf you thought there was a "renaissance" of Roman Catholic apologetics a few decades ago, I believe you can see this entry by Roman Catholic apologist Steve Ray as the tomb stone of any such renaissance. Recall that over the past few weeks a series of videos has appeared on my blog. The videos provide the broad context of Ignatius' letter to the Smyrneans. The audio came from a Dividing Line I did back in 2004 while teaching a class on patristics for Golden Gate. In the videos I went through the context and background of the letter, the theological issues at stake, etc.
I noted recently one blog entry that simply mocked the series but that obviously failed to interact with the arguments at all. It was the literary equivalent of "nuh uh!" And so far, this is all that has been offered by anyone. William Albrecht's videos likewise illustrate the gross anachronism into which Roman apologists are forced by their own dogmatic definitions. In each case the serious thinker is left going, "Hey, why can't anyone actually let Ignatius speak as...Ignatius?"
Given the string of apologetic blunders Steve Ray has committed of late (30,000 denominations, Jerome was alone in his view of the canon, etc.), I figured Ray would just keep busy riding around Israel on a bus and hope his constituency would not notice that once again he had been shown to be less than honest in his comments and publications. But that was way too high a hope: instead, Ray today posted the above linked blog articled titled, "Was the Anti-Catholic Correct on YouTube? Was St. Ignatius a Reformed Baptist?" Now note immediately: Ray has to keep beating the "anti-Catholic" drum, seeking to fire up the emotions of his readers through bigotry; and then he simply lies to his readers. Anyone who watched or listened to my series on Ignatius (found here) knows I specifically and clearly stated Ignatius was NOT a Reformed Baptist. So, either Ray is willing to lie through his teeth publicly, or, more likely, he has not even bothered to watch the videos, and is willing to lie out of his arrogance and ignorance, one of the two. Maybe this is the next step in the obvious attempt on the part of Rome's apologists, beginning with the Envoy hit piece years ago, to spread the lie amongst the faithful that I claim the early church was made up of Reformed Baptists? It is hard to say, but the facts are plain: Steve Ray is about as truth challenged as you can get. While he pretends expertise in the early church, he lacks the training and ability to respond in any coherent or meaningful fashion to the simple contextual reading of Ignatius' words. Instead, he is lining his pockets with the money of gullible people who follow him around Israel, hanging on his every word while letting Gary Michuta try to defend his indefensible Jerome comments, or, amazingly, referring to William Albrecht's videos for his defense in this instance! The noise you hear is Newman spinning in his grave.
But it wasn't enough for Ray: take note of how many gratuitous, unfounded insults and ad-hominems Ray can pack into just a few sentences:
An anti-Catholic recently put up a pathetic YouTube video criticizing my recent radio show where I talked about the Apostolic Fathers and how Catholic they really were. Some of these angry anti-Catholics try to twist the early Christians into pretzels — ridiculously trying recreate them into Reformed Baptists or other such nonsense. I recently wrote a blog quote quoting professor and a self-confessed “proud, dispensational, conservative, born-again fundie” from Moody Bible Institute that wrote a book entitled "Getting to Know the Church Fathers" who said the early Church Fathers "were not Evangelicals."Notice how Ray (like the Envoy hit piece years ago) refuses to use my name, but evidently forgets that the "quote" he provides does. But as a final outrage of dishonesty, Ray has the gall to quote an anonymous "theologian"! Think about it. Why would this "theologian" be anonymous? Why not use his name? The answer is simple: he knows he could never back up his words! If I am so wrong in reading Ignatius, wouldn't this be the greatest chance ever to prove it? So why are all these responses the schoolyard equivalent of "nuh uh"? Because Rome has no answers. I was simply reading the text for what it says. I don't have to twist Ignatius into a Reformed Baptist, but Steve Ray and his ilk line their pockets by turning Ignatius into a Roman Catholic. One side speaks the truth, the other side serves Mother Church with dishonesty and, in this case, simple cowardice.
If you are interested in such debates you will find these two YouTube presentations below very interesting. I consider such anti-Catholic sophists as a huge waste of time, but I appreciate the fine work of William Albrecht as the Catholic Legate. He has actually posted many such YouTube videos that are very worthwhile watching. I will post links to others when I get home and get the time.
The Sophist and St. Ignatius Part I
The Sophist and St. Ignatius Part II
By the way, a VERY reputable theologian wrote to me yesterday saying,
"I just wanted to bring to your attention James White’s analysis of your use of Ignatius of Antioch. White’s analysis may very well be the worst form of sophism I have ever heard. In fact, I began feeling really sorry for him. I was embarrassed for him. "You should be proud of your work and the fact that your strongest critics wind up making your case even better! Keep up the good work!"
To watch another video concerning St. Jerome click here. I've always felt sorry for this man myself and often said that he makes people who get too close feel like they need a shower. More later. I am in Israel now, leaving for Jordan tomorrow. Will follow up on this all more when I get home.
Now, if Ray is right, he would be wise to arrange a debate on this topic, wouldn't he? He could finish me off forever, right? Or maybe this anonymous theologian would like to step up to the plate? Well, don't hold your breath. Instead, one of the most promoted Roman Catholic "apologists" today, a regular guest on Catholic Answers Live, will be allowed to get away with documented, public dishonesty, and, in the place of substantive response, will be allowed to direct folks to the man whose only argument is "Hey, the early church believed everything I believe, and if you say otherwise, you are just wrong!" I am so thankful I do not have to resort to such behavior to defend my faith!
Tertullian and "Pontifex Maximus"
02/24/2008 - James White
The Abuse of Ignatius of Antioch by Roman Catholic Apologist Steve Ray (#4)
02/22/2008 - James White
Dave Armstrong's Short Response
02/20/2008 - James WhiteYesterday I reviewed some clips from an interview done by Dave Armstrong. I noted some of his amazing statements, and in particular, I found quite humorous his very inflated sense of importance in basically vanquishing the entire Protestant world from the field of battle. No one can respond to Dave Armstrong! Well, I knew Dave would respond, and respond he did. But he did so in typical Armstrongian fashion:
Be sure to catch Bishop James White's mocking, ridiculous "commentary" on this very interview, on his Dividing Line webcast (2-19-08). It's quite entertaining. I'll give White that much. He even features (Rush Limbaugh-like) a portion of a Three Dog Night song. Guess which one?! Oh, and then (filled with ingenious satirical ideas) White plays a Billy Joel song that starts with "h". Just think of an accusation that anti-Catholics almost always make against Catholics (that I do not reciprocate). Whew . . . The good bishop ended his "rebuttal" with a flourish:But, as all of us who know Armstrong realize, there is no way he is going to limit himself to such a brief reply. His MO is to tell you on his blog that he going to take the "high road" and ignore such things, but, then, all you have to do is go to the combox, and you will find the real replies. And verily and forsooth, that's what we have:
I'm certain that I will see, within the next two days, a long blog article about how terrible and horrible and everything else that I am . . .Sorry to disappoint you, Your Eminence, and to wreck your prophetic prowess, but I just ain't interested anymore in dealing with fools and intellectual cowards who consistently refuse to defend their positions when challenged in writing again and again. This is strictly humorous stuff, no more, and so I am glad to post it for my readers to listen to if they're in the mood for a good laugh. We all need comic diversion now and then
My own record with White is abundantly clear. Anyone can examine it for themselves. The man has been running, evading, mocking, and making a fool of himself for over twelve years.
I don't have time anymore for his nonsense. I've done my duty as an apologist by refuting his facile inanities off and on all those years. Many many papers are posted, and he has never once sustained an intelligent discourse with me without fleeing for the hills long before we actually accomplished anything or descending into imbecilic mockery and insult.
Most critiques I make of his arguments are completely ignored. I've documented this many times. No need to do it again now.
I suggest that he stick to liberals, KJV-only nuts, Mormons, and Muslims, where he does good and very helpful apologetics, and I link to that work and even recommend it. But Catholicism? Nuh-uh. He has shown himself to be in massive error and unwilling to be corrected on anything, time and again.
I never denied that some Protestants are attempting to respond to Catholics. I made it very clear that I was generalizing and that there are exceptions. One wearies of reiterating the obvious and having to explain what was already made quite clear in the interview itself.
But the overall trend is definitely toward dismissing and mocking rather than engaging Catholic apologetics. I've documented this many times, too. I speak from experience, as a veteran of over 400 written debates, and constant apologetic work on the Internet for now 12 years and running (and no end in sight). Many of our Protestant opponents come right out and say this. It's not even speculation. Look at what they say and what they do.
Dave Armstrong | Homepage | 02.20.08 - 3:36 pm | #
I should add that there is also a distinction between writing something about Catholics as a potshot and being willing to actually interact with them in a back-and-forth fashion (i.e., serious intellectual discussion, where someone is actually challenged and has to defend their POV). I was referring more so (though not totally) to the latter.Seems like the grand total there was not overly large, in DA terms: only 1300 words! Excuse me while I "flee" and "run" from DA's overwhelming argumentation. And in my absence, you might search the blog for the name "Armstrong" and see for yourself that DA lives in a fantasy world all his own.
It was simply an informal, off the cuff interview. I had no preparation (other than reading the salvation sections of my new book). I didn't know specifically what I was gonna be asked. This is what White loves to attack, because he knows full well that it isn't remotely as precise and prepared as any writing that I do. So he can pick at things and take them out of context. He is a master at that, but it is sophistry.
White himself will write plenty about Catholics, assuredly (filled with personal attacks, as with his recent spate of hit pieces against Steve Ray), but as soon as one of these Catholics responds at length, he will ignore it or mock and dismiss.
That is what I mean. Kevin Johnson is another sterling example of that. He writes plenty about Catholics, but if a Catholic dares to try to interact with him and reason with him and show him where he is in error, it is all mockery and ridicule. And of course I was banned from his site two or three years ago. I guess I asked too many difficult questions.
I was banned from White's chat room after a few appearances recently for no reason other than that I was a wicked Catholic (I was getting along fine with the people who were actually there, except for David T. King: the rudest Christian I have ever met on the Internet).
Because of that I challenged White and his sidekick James Swan to a live chat debate. They both turned me down. I later challenged four other anti-Catholics to the same debate and they all replied similarly (most with insults). I had done the same with another anti-Catholic before that (Matt Slick). That made it seven straight refusals to do a simple chat about the definition of "Christian." Very basic stuff. But these guys are all petrified of discussing it with me "live", with everyone watching.
That doesn't sound like a willingness to interact with Catholics to me: at least not with this Catholic . . . Since the same people, almost to a man, say repeatedly how stupid and dumb and clueless I am, one wonders why they are so reluctant to jump at this golden opportunity to prove that claim to everyone. But I proved that no one was willing to do so. It's all on the record now. That was the last straw for me. Apart from the Luther quote thing that I got into heavily, because I wanted to defend my friend Steve Ray, I decided at that point that these clowns were not worth any more of my time.
White used to allow Catholics in his chat room, and engage in lengthy exchanges with them (several of which are still posted on his site). But I guess he now thinks it is better to ban them. He used to have Catholics in a discussion list about sola Scriptura, that he actually invited me to, way back in 1996, before I even had a website yet. He doesn't do stuff like that anymore.
I can also cite many examples of folks who used to vigorously debate actual Catholic human beings and no longer do. Jason Engwer is one. Eric Svendsen is another. He does it occasionally, but nothing like before.
I've tried to engage Steve Hays, who is intelligent enough, to a sensible exchange, but it is all mockery and foolishness and hee-hawing among his adoring sycophants. Oh well. I did try.
There was another guy who called himself "the Pedantic Protestant" who is now off the Internet, far as I can tell.
There are a number of other nicer Protestants, who weren't anti-Catholics, whom I very much enjoyed dialoguing with in the past (I have two in particular, in mind), but who decided to basically cease dialoguing with Catholics on the usual topics that divide us.
There is Josh Strodtbeck: another sharp tack who is constantly running down the Catholic Church and Catholics; but try to have a serious dialogue with him? Impossible. It's all mockery and ludicrosity. At least with me. And I don't see him doing so with any other Catholic, either. But he is a master of the quick insult and the propagandistic caricature of what he imagines Catholicism to be.
That provides several concrete examples of what I was referring to.
Dave Armstrong | Homepage | 02.20.08 - 4:20 pm | #
Is it Ridiculous to Cite J.N.D. Kelly?
02/20/2008 - James White
Closing Statement from Long Island (1998)
02/17/2008 - James White
The Abuse of Ignatius of Antioch by Roman Catholic Apologist Steve Ray (#3)
02/15/2008 - James White
Peter Established The Roman Church? (Part One)
02/14/2008 - James SwanRoman Catholics believe Peter established the church at Rome, served as its first pope, and was eventually martyred there. This faith claim is not based on Biblical evidence. It is elusive "tradition" which posits Peter (and Paul) established the Roman Church in the early 40's. Peter is said to have remained in Rome for twenty-five years, preaching the Gospel, and eventually writing the epistles of 1 and 2 Peter. Some versions of this twenty-five year period include Peter's travels, with Rome serving as his "home base" when he wasn't on missionary trips or attending church councils. Other versions have Peter going to Rome shortly after the Jerusalem council in 49 AD, and then returning to Rome just prior to 60 AD. Yet another version has Peter going to Rome one time only: towards the end of life during Nero's reign.
Despite the differences and lack of unanimous agreement in these reports, the Catholic Encyclopedia states, "[W]e may conclude that Peter labored for a long period in Rome. This conclusion is confirmed by the unanimous voice of tradition which, as early as the second half of the second century, designates the Prince of the Apostles the founder of the Roman Church."
Catholic apologists run into some dire problems when trying to square up any of these traditions with the Biblical information. It's no wonder that Catholic Answers states,
"Admittedly, the Bible nowhere explicitly says Peter was in Rome; but, on the other hand, it doesn't say he wasn't. Just as the New Testament never says, 'Peter then went to Rome,' it never says, 'Peter did not go to Rome.' In fact, very little is said about where he, or any of the apostles other than Paul, went in the years after the Ascension. For the most part, we have to rely on books other than the New Testament for information about what happened to the apostles, Peter included, in later years."
The tradition though should at least square with the Biblical facts. True, there are no explicit verses or contexts in the New Testament establishing Peter ever being in Rome. In the handful of times the word "Rome" appears in the New Testament, Peter is not linked to it in any way that would substantiate Catholic claims. The historical information given by the Bible documents Peter's ministry in Palestine and Syria. When Paul wrote to the Roman Church, there is not even a hint or allusion to Peter being its bishop, nor is there any evidence that Peter founded the church with Paul. Similarly in the epistles written by Paul from Rome, any information linking Peter to Rome is absent. In Romans 1: 8-13, Paul indicates he hadn't yet been to Rome. Romans 15: 20-24 clearly contradicts the tradition that Paul founded the Church at Rome with Peter.
Scholars date Paul's letter to the Romans around 58 A.D. Factoring this in the timeline of Peter's twenty-five year Roman episcopacy, Peter would have been in authority at Rome for approximately sixteen years. Peter would have been well established. Search through Paul's letter to the Roman church, and you will find no greeting or reference to Peter. While it is true that simply because no mention of Peter is made by Paul does not prove he was not in Rome, the absence of these references present some practical problems. the Jesuit scholar Joseph Fitzmyer has stated,
"Paul never hints in Romans that he knows that Peter has worked in Rome or founded the Christian church there before his planned visit (cf. 15:20-23). If he refers indirectly to Peter as among the 'superfine apostles' who worked in Corinth (2 Cor 11:4-5), he says nothing like that about Rome in this letter. Hence the beginnings of the Roman Christian community remain shrouded in mystery. Compare 1 Thess 3:2-5; 1 Cor 3:5-9; and Col 1:7 and 4:12-13 for more or less clear references to founding apostles of other locales. Hence there is no reason to think that Peter spent any major portion of time in Rome before Paul wrote his letter, or that he was the founder of the Roman church or the missionary who first brought Christianity to Rome. For it seems highly unlikely that Luke, if he knew that Peter had gone to Rome and evangelized that city, would have omitted all mention of it in Acts." [Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 30].
Despite these problems, some Catholics will actually argue for positive Biblical evidence for Peter in establishing the Roman church. There are two primary verses used. This entry will focus on the first, Acts 12:17.
"But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place."
In Acts 12, we read that King Herod had "arrested some who belong to the church"(v.1). Included in this detention were James and Peter. What follows is the account of Peter's miraculous escape from prison. After being released by an angel, Peter went to the home of Mary (the mother of John). Peter described his miraculous escape to those praying for him in Mary's house. Peter's last words to these believers that evening were, "Tell James and the brothers about this." And then Luke records the crucial words: "and then he left for another place" (v.17). Some Roman Catholics identify "Another place" as Rome. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes, "[B]y "another place", Luke meant Rome, but omitted the name for special reasons." What these "special reasons" are, the Encyclopedia does not explain. However they do mention it is within the realm of possibility that "Peter made a missionary journey to Rome about this time (after 42 A.D.), but such a journey cannot be established with certainty."
Part of the tradition states that Peter ministered in Rome for twenty-five years. This requires Peter to have arrived in Rome around 42 AD. Act 12:17 records events just previous to this date. This verse though, is only utilized by Roman Catholics holding to the tradition that Peter (and Paul) established the Roman Church in the early 40's. There are other Roman Catholics who hold to the tradition that Peter founded the Roman Church towards the end of his life. Which tradition then, is correct? No definitive statement has ever been put forth.
In part two, we'll look at the second popular proof-text used by Roman Catholics to establish Peter in Rome, 1 Peter 5:13, "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Mark my son." Is "Babylon" a code-word for Rome? Has Rome infallibly explained this verse?
The Canon According To Augustine
02/05/2008 - James SwanGary Michuta's recent book is entitled, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger. Michuta and I have at least one thing in common in regard to the canon. He states, "Any bible-loving Christian will want to make such an examination [of the Deuterocanonical books], surely, rather than run the risk of spurning a set of books which may, in fact, contain God's own holy Word" (p.5). I can appreciate that Gary takes this issue with the seriousness it deserves. I'd like to challenge Mr. Michuta though on the consistency of his point about "spurning a set of books which may, in fact, contain God's own holy Word." That is, I'd like to see if Rome takes this issue with the same seriousness that Gary and I share.
In his book, Michuta points out that Augustine accepted the Apocrypha as Scripture. Gary presents various examples from Augustine quoting the Apocryphal books as Scripture. Gary states,
"Throughout Augustine's works, the disputed books are used as nothing less than inspired canonical Scripture indistinguishable from the other books of the Bible, save only that they are not accepted by the Jews. Augustine's positive viewpoint was later enshrined in the decrees of the councils of Hippo (AD 393) and Carthage I (AD 397) in which he participated" (Michuta, pp. 159-160).
I don't doubt Gary's point about Augustine's influence on Hippo and Carthage. What is interesting, Michuta then refers to a section from Augustine's City of God as a counter-apologetic against any who would argue that Augustine rejected Maccabees as canonical. He quotes Augustine stating, "These are held as canonical, not by the Jews, but by the Church, on account of the extreme and wonderful sufferings of certain martyrs." I agree with Gary that this remark from Augustine does not "overturn the whole tenor of Augustine's work" (p.160). In context, Augustine does say the Church (not the Jews) accepted Maccabees. However, this particular section from Augustine argues for much more. In this same section, Augustine refers to the Apocryphal book of 1 Esdras (or 3 Esdras):
About Esdras and the Books of the Maccabees.
After these three prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, during the same period of the liberation of the people from the Babylonian servitude Esdras also wrote, who is historical rather than prophetical, as is also the book called Esther, which is found to relate, for the praise of God, events not far from those times; unless, perhaps, Esdras is to be understood as prophesying of Christ in that passage where, on a question having arisen among certain young men as to what is the strongest thing, when one had said kings, another wine, the third women, who for the most part rule kings, yet that same third youth demonstrated that the truth is victorious over all. For by consulting the Gospel we learn that Christ is the Truth. From this time, when the temple was rebuilt, down to the time of Aristobulus, the Jews had not kings but princes; and the reckoning of their dates is found, not in the Holy Scriptures which are called canonical, but in others, among which are also the books of the Maccabees. These are held as canonical, not by the Jews, but by the Church, on account of the extreme and wonderful sufferings of certain martyrs, who, before Christ had come in the flesh, contended for the law of God even unto death, and endured most grievous and horrible evils" [NPNF1, Vol. 2, Augustin, City of God, Book XVIII. 36].
NPNF1 footnotes the citation of Esdras as "Esdras iii.and iv." Following the methodology put forth by Michuta, Augustine does seem to be using Esdras as canonical Scripture. Augustine includes Esdras with Esther and Maccabees, and even asserts Esdras can possibly be prophesying about Christ. The "Esdras" being referred to is not currently contained in Roman Catholic Bibles among the canonical books. I point this out, because it serves as proof that if, as Michuta holds, Hippo and Carthage followed Augustine, here we have an indication that Augustine accepted the spurious book of 1 Esdras (or 3 Esdras), and therefore these councils did as well. Michuta though later states, "Many things are questionable about Esdras. The Council of Carthage may have included Esdras on its list. We don't know for certain" (p.240). On page 160, Michuta states Carthage followed Augustine's view. On page 240, we don't know if they did or not.
Michuta is in this awkward position because of Trent. If Trent rejected this book, then the earlier councils were in error. Or, perhaps the earlier council was right, and Trent is in error. Gary though argues that Trent did not reject or affirm the canonicity of 1 Esdras (or 3 Esdras). This solution still fails to explain why a book that was Scripture according to Augustine (and probably Hippo and Carthage), was not able to be deemed such (one way or the other) later by Trent. Why wouldn't Trent be worried they were spurning a book which may, in fact, contain God's own holy Word?
Gary points out that Esdras was "passed over in silence" by majority vote at Trent (p.240). He notes three voted against it, eight didn't vote, and forty two voted to pass over it. I find this method of determining truth quite suspect. The very words of God were decided upon by men who could not decide, or chose not to! But this is the Roman Catholic paradigm: truth is determined by voting. Why is this method God's method? Because Rome has decided it is so. Search your Bibles for rules on voting to determine truth. Even if one tries to stretch the Jerusalem Council to work by Rome's rules, Acts 15:25 states, "So we all agreed" in regard to the messengers and letter content sent to Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. If Trent were being led by the same Holy Spirit that led the Jerusalem Council, why couldn't Trent determine the status of Esdras? Michuta states, "Those who claim then, that Trent 'rejected' Esdras are mistaken. It did not. In fact, any rejection or affirmation was purposefully withheld" (p. 241). The question for Gary Michuta is, why? For what purpose?
We've recently given Catholic apologist Gary Michuta a lot to contend with. Dr. White has put together a series of video responses to Mr. Michuta's recent video. I've done a lengthy article on Michuta's presentation of Luther's denial of the Apocrypha. My friend Carrie has been doing some excellent work on the Council of Trent, particularly the canon vote, and Michuta's understanding of it. I don't know the status of any responses Mr. Michuta may provide. Gary can add this entry to his list, as well as the implications of his view I noted months ago here.
The Abuse of Ignatius of Antioch by Roman Catholic Apologist Steve Ray (#2)
02/01/2008 - James WhiteI continue with my examination of Steve Ray's claims concerning Ignatius of Antioch (second in a series).