Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
21st Century Errors about Prayer's Efficacy
08/31/2008 - Tur8infanOn the same Catholic Answers Live episode (May 8, 2008), in which Steve Ray seemingly endorsed 18th Century superstitions (see my previous discussion), Mr. Ray discussed another Rosary-related topic.
A caller (Willie in Fredericksburg, TX) asked:
I tell somebody I'm going to say a rosary for them, and then I do, and in the process I might have told somebody else, and so I end up with two, three, four people - I'm just wondering, is that diluting it some way? Or is better to say individual - well its probably better - but is it diluting it some by combining several people?
Steve Ray responded:
I think that's a good question, but I don't think you have any fear of that, because if you are praying the rosary with sincere intent to pray it for several people instead of just one, the weakness would not be with you, but the weakness would be with God. And God isn't weak. He can make sure that that prayer that you pray is responded to for each of those individuals, because God is perfectly capable of hearing your prayer and reaching out his wonderful fingers to touch 4, 5, 6, or 10 people just as well as one. And as long as its your intent to pray for them, and you say, "Lord, this person has a real need here, and this person there, and this person there, and this person there, and I only have a half an hour to pray Lord, but I really really want you to help every one of those people I'm going to pray for, so when I pray, would you please make up for any of my weakness of mind, and my weakness of memory, and you take care of them for me." I guarantee by my little experience with God, and by knowing who He is and what He wants to do. He actually wants to help those people more than you want Him to help those people. So I think you add as many people as you want, and you pray for them, and then you watch God work in their life.
Let's assume for a second that Steve Ray actually understands Catholicism, and further let's assume that his statements are accurate. After all, he was introduced in the show as "one of the leading proponents of the faith" and he himself stated "if I don't know something, I'm going to be honest and right up front and let you know that."
If Steve Ray is right, isn't it somewhat limited to pray as Steve proposes? Wouldn't the following be a still more generous prayer?
Lord, I only have one half hour to pray, but I really really want you to help every one of the people on Earth who has a need, and each person in Purgatory who is suffering the temporal punishment of their sins. So, when I pray, would you please make up for my finite mind and my finite knowledge of all their particular problems, and their particular names, and take care of them for me.
In fact, if God would like to help all those people, wouldn't God being willing to accept an omnibus request of that sort? I hope that most readers sense intuitively that a rosary prefaced in such a manner would not be used by God for billions of times more good than the same rosary prefaced by "So that Joe, my neighbor, will get a job."
What's wrong with Steve's answer is that he doesn't see the problem in the man's question. Prayers, including collections of prayers, like the rosary, do not have merit. I've seen this problem in other contexts, normally in the context or people talking about requesting the prayers of "Saints."
This problem usually becomes visible to us, Reformed folks, when we see Catholicism interacting with this verse:
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
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Steve Ray Relying on 18th Century Catholic Superstitions
08/29/2008 - Tur8infanOn the May 8, 2008, edition of Catholic Answers Live, I was amazed to hear Steve Ray reference (seemingly approvingly) a book called, "The Secret of the Rosary," for the idea that wearing a rosary "around your neck keeps the Devil away - it keeps the evil powers away, because they hate the rosary and they hate the crucifix ... ." I can safely say that wearing a rosary has about equal efficacy in keeping demons away as does wearing a scapular or dousing oneself in "holy water." In short, it has no power at all.
Meanwhile, enjoy the ecumenical flavor of that most lovely work:
The heretics, all of whom are children of the devil and clearly bear the sign of God's reprobation, have a horror of the Hail Mary. They still say the Our Father but never the Hail Mary; they would rather wear a poisonous snake around their necks than wear a scapular or carry a rosary.
And truly, I would rather (as Louis de Montfort claims) have a king cobra round my neck than participate in the superstitious and anti-Christian tradition of the rosary or the scapula. I think the portion Steve Ray was referring to was this:
Blessed Alan relates that a man he knew had tried desperately all kinds of devotions to rid himself of the evil spirit which possessed him, but without success. Finally, he thought of wearing his rosary round his neck, which eased him considerably. He discovered that whenever he took it off the devil tormented him cruelly, so he resolved to wear it night and day. This drove the evil spirit away forever because he could not bear such a terrible chain. Blessed Alan also testifies that he delivered a great number of those who were possessed by putting a rosary around their necks.
This may be from an eighteenth century book, but make no mistake, these superstitious beliefs are alive today, as evidenced by Mr. Ray's comment.
If You Missed This Beggars All Post, Take the Time to Read It
08/27/2008 - James White
This is an excellent post from James Swan (hey, why didn't he post it here?)! It has always amazed me to watch Roman Catholic apologists citing this patristic source or that, and when you actually take the time to read the arguments put forward, you are left shaking your head and saying, "THAT is supposed to be a compelling argument?"
MP3 Dividing Line Review: The Jimmy Akin Bible Answer Man Debate, Circa 1995
08/07/2008 - James SwanLast year, Catholic Answers started offering a two debate set for purchase. In actuality, neither product was an actual debate. Rather, they were discussions on two different radio shows. The first was Tim Staples discussion with Steve Gregg. The second was a 13 year old radio discussion between Dr. White and James Akin on the Bible Answer Man show.
It's been some time since Catholic Answers has agreed to an actual moderated debate with Dr. White. Last year Dr. White addressed why Catholic Answers would so readily make this old discussion with James Akin available, while steering clear of any actual new moderated debates with him. This led him to also critique a large portion of the old BAM discussion with James Akin. He did this over two months on eight different Dividing Line programs (8/2, 8/14, 8/16, 8/21, 8/23, 8/30, 9/11, 9/27). Sometimes he addressed it for ten minutes, other times an hour.
I went through the Dividing Line archives, and extracted all the material addressing the Akin BAM debate, compiling four MP3's, together totalling around four hours.
Dr. White's Review of the Akin BAM Debate (Part Two)
Dr. White's Review of the Akin BAM Debate (Part Three)
Dr. White's Review of the Akin BAM Debate (Part Four)
The content of these four MP3's will be extremely helpful for those of you regularly engaging Catholic apologists or evangelizing Catholics. Dr. White spent a lot of time addressing authority issues, and this is really the heart of the matter. When Catholics make authority claims, it's important to be aware of what they're saying, and what they're consciously not saying, or rather, avoiding. Also addressed are canon issues and justification.
That Catholic Answers continues to call this discussion a debate is humorous and hypocritical. The discussion ran 3 hours. During the second hour, James Akin was given much more time. During the entire broadcast, Dr. White wasn't even given a chance to respond to many of the claims being put forth. It appears Catholic Answers would rather offer a product in which an opponent is not given a fair chance to respond, rather than actually engage in a new moderated debate. I can't read the hearts of those in charge of Catholic Answers, but their tactics in providing "answers" via the materials they promote are highly questionable. Recall what Solomon stated long ago, "The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight" (Proverbs 11:1).
By the way, if you'd like to hear Dr. White's Bible Answer Man discussion with James Akin, you can purchase it on either CD or MP3 here. If you'd like to spend almost double the price Aomin charges, visit Catholic Answers.
The Loving Roman Catholics of the Catholic Answers Forums
08/01/2008 - James WhiteJames Swan informed me that an old thread on the CA Forums got some life today. Someone asked about the video below, which is just the brief closing statement from the Papacy debate in 1998. Phil Porvaznik immediately jumped in with his pre-fab list of refutations---the same ones he would never dare use in public against me, because he knows better. But, he knows he's in "safe waters" and can play the "big fish" role there. Once again, the idea is not "what is the truth of the matter" but "what can I say to keep someone from leaving Rome?" Very different apologetic standards on opposite shores of the Tiber, to be sure.
In any case, this morning a loving, insightful Roman Catholic by the name of Terry O'Brien (terryobrien80 is the screen name) chimed in with, "All you need to do is get the "Bible Answer Man Debate" tape set with James White vs. James Akin to see what a moron White is." Yes, the same BAM discussion we examined a few months ago on the DL. Anyone want to place a wager on whether ol' Terry has ever even listened to that entire program? Probably not. O'Brien was challenged on his attitude, and his response was right along the lines of Art Sippo, "The truth shall set you free. And the truth is that White doesn't know his **** from his elbow I never claimed to be nice. I just keep it real." Ah, all is still sweetness and light in the realm of the CA Forms. I wonder when I'll get my next dozen fund-raising e-mails from Catholic Answers begging me to help them keep their wonderful forums open? It's been a month since the last spate, so, I'm sure they will hit soon.
Christ the Unbreakable Pothook
08/01/2008 - Tur8infan
Steve Ray (a Roman Catholic apologist and pilgrimage tour guide) has again provided an argument for the papacy via his blog (link to Ray's blog). Ray's argument for the paaccomes in the form of a reply to an objection based on the peg in Isaiah. Apparently, this was the “only issue” about Roman Catholicism that “unsettled … scripturally” one of the readers of Ray’s blog (according to the article Ray links to) and additionally it was a question raised by a caller to a radio show where Ray appeared.
If either that reader or that listener happens to find this blog, I’d suggest to him that this is a minor objection. There are many more serious issues with Catholicism that should leave him feeling unsettled scripturally: Rome's views of justification, purgatory, indulgences, papal infallibility, transubstantiation, worship by use of images, veneration of relics, and many more come immediately to mind. In fact, the peg in Isaiah would be so far down the list of possible issues with Rome that I doubt I have ever raised this particular objection, though Ray claims that “I know because I used to propose this as well.”
In the discussion that follows, I will explain the context of the objection (typical misuse of Isaiah 22) and explain some better objections both grammatical (the pluralization of "keys" demonstrates that a different figure of speech is being used) and exegetical (Eliakim in Isaiah 22 points to Christ, as confirmed by Scripture). Additionally, I will explain the objection (since many readers may never have heard of it) and address both legitimate and illegitimate rebuttals to the objection. By the conclusion, the reader will have seen that although the objection posed is not a particularly strong one, and not one that we should favor, an exegetical understanding as to why such an objection is improper confirms that the position Ray advocates in essence attributes to his church what is properly ascribed only to Christ, for the government is on Christ's shoulder. It is Christ upon whom, like an unbreakable pothook, we can safely hang all our hopes. It is by faith alone in Him alone, that we are saved....
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