Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Our Anniversary: And You
09/30/2008 - James White
This month marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Alpha and Omega Ministries in October of 1983. We are not planning anything spectacular...just keeping our nose to the grindstone and preparing for London, Duke, and Bart Ehrman---the things we need to be doing. We are not big on blowing our own horn, but that doesn't mean we do not need encouragement and support like anyone else.
So we have set up an e-mail address, email@example.com. I would like to invite our supporters to drop us a line about what Alpha and Omega Ministries has meant to you over the years. I'd like to read these notes myself, and then pass some along here on the blog during the course of the month. So if this ministry has been used of the Lord in your life, let us know. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Pictures from the Bellflower Debate
09/30/2008 - James White
I noticed him sitting off to my left. A photographer with a big camera and a big lens. I really did not give it much thought, though, it was a bit unusual. I was focused on other things, so by the time I got to my hotel that night, I had pretty much forgotten about it. Until he contacted me after I got home and directed me to a web page with his pictures on them. I've done a lot of debates, but I've never had a truly professional photographer there to take pictures. Or, if I did, I've forgotten all about it! In any case, Brandon Adams took some great shots during the debate. He managed to position himself so as to use the background perfectly. These are probably the best debate shots I've ever seen, so, I thought I'd share a few with you. They turned out a whole lot better than the debate itself did! Too bad he couldn't be at the debate the next day with Farhan Qureshi. In any case, here they are....
The Dividing Line for September 30th
09/30/2008 - James WhiteToday on the DL we got back to the 1993 sola scriptura debate with Patrick Madrid. Here's the program (free/high quality).
"Speak Your Mind" Fan Club
09/30/2008 - James SwanHere's a recent commendation about my interests in the Reformation from one of my Roman Catholic admirers. This time, the kudos come from one of the moderators of Patrick Madrid's "Speak Your Mind" forum:
"Swan's attempts at scholarship may be posted here, but not his misrepresentation and outright falsehoods about the Catholic Church. He lacks any semblance of charity in his treatment of the original Christian faith, and seems intellectually dishonest on top of that. Yours in Christ, Patti"
Well, thanks Patti. She says that I lack "any semblance of charity," but if I recall, it was the moderators who banned me from posting because I dared to link to an article from Dr. White. In fact, during my time posting on Madrid's forums, I spent most of my time interacting with Art Sippo, a "charitable" man who has continually called me names, including "Nazi" on the same forum. I guess the standard for Madrid's forum is that slander coming from Roman Catholics is not uncharitable. I can't even link to any of my "uncharitable" posts from the forum, they've been deleted as well.
Just what are the misrepresentations and falsehoods Patti is so concerned over? She made her comment in response to the following paragraph that is found on my blog:
There is also the problem of Catholic apologetic double standards. The Catholic apologists assume Trent was following the tradition of the church, and there was no teaching of "faith alone" previous to Luther. In other words, Luther invented "justification by faith alone." It didn't exist until Luther. It can't be verified in church history. It can't be true. On the other hand, when the same historical standard is applied to certain Catholic dogmas, like Mary's Bodily Assumption, Purgatory, Indulgences, etc., this same historical standard is swept under the rug and hidden. One has to seriously question why a standard that Catholic apologists hold Protestants to is not likewise applied to their own beliefs. Wade through the corridors of church history and search for the threads of all Catholic dogma. One falls flat of linking many of them back to the early church, or in some instances, even the Bible."
Patti deleted this paragraph from the forum. It would be very interesting for Patti to actually prove that this paragraph is "intellectually dishonest," rather than simply deleting it. It seems simple enough. In fact, I realize how time consuming written discussions are, so she doesn't even need to trace everything I mentioned. I would be happy with one, say for instance, the Bodily Assumption. Go ahead, Patti, trace that one through "Tradition" back to Apostolic teaching. Want an illustration of this?
The Deen Show MailBag on the Trinity
09/29/2008 - James White
Sunday AM Sermon, Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, August 3, 2008: John 17
09/27/2008 - James White
Mohamed Did Not Believe that the Old Testament was Corrupt
09/26/2008 - Tur8infanToday, many Islamic apologists like to claim that the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is corrupt. They feel the need to claim this, because they are aware of the fact that the Bible is inconsistent with Islam.
There is a problem for their position: it is not the position of their prophet, assuming that Surah 62:5 is itself not corrupt.
Surah 62:5 The similitude of those who were charged with the (obligations of the) Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is that of a donkey which carries huge tomes (but understands them not). Evil is the similitude of people who falsify the Signs of Allah: and Allah guides not people who do wrong.
Notice that the Surah compares the Jews to Donkeys carrying "huge tomes" that they do not understand. Notice that the Surah alleges that the Jews "falsify the Signs of Allah," but the most natural reading of the Surah (at least in this translation) is that they falsify not through destroying the text, but through misunderstanding or misinterpreting the text.
Notice that is says "huge tomes" not "no tomes" or "tattered tomes."
And, in another translation, we see the same concept:
62.5 The likeness of those who were charged with the Taurat, then they did not observe it, is as the likeness of the ass bearing books, evil is the likeness of the people who reject the communications of Allah; and Allah does not guide the unjust people.
Notice how the text parallels "books" and "communications of Allah." Notice also that in this translation they are described as rejecting them - presumably because like donkeys they don't understand what is in them - perhaps simply because "Allah does not guide" them.
And it is not the only place in the Koran that such an idea can be found. Recall that it is recorded:
[2.285] The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His apostles; We make no difference between any of His apostles; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course.
And in another translation:
Surah 2:285 The Apostle believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His apostles. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles." And they say: "We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys."
Notice that it is says "books," not "book." What's even more interesting is that we are told that the Surahs were themselves orally proclaimed at first - which would suggest that the "books" do not even include the Koran. There is no need, however, to go that far. The fact that the plural form is used is enough to establish the fact that Mohamed did not hold to the idea that the books were corrupted, for if they were corrupted why would he teach that he believes in them?
And we need not rest on only those two places, for there is at least one more:
[20.133] And they say: Why does he not bring to us a sign from his Lord? Has not there come to them a clear evidence of what is in the previous books?
And again, in another translation:
Surah 20:133 They say: "Why does he not bring us a sign from his Lord?" Has not a Clear Sign come to them of all that was in the former Books of revelation?
Note how Mohamed here actually states that there is "clear evidence" or a "clear sign" as to what the content of the "former books" or "previous books." These are not books hopelessly lost in obscurity in the mind of the author of this Surah.
The problem here is that Mohamed simply was not well informed. He did not know the content of the books himself, for we have no reason to believe he was ever provided with an Arabic Bible, and he could not read the Greek or Hebrew original languages.
If you are a Muslim, doesn't this sort of thing cause you a bit of concern? Aren't you bothered by the fact that your prophet accepted the books and "believed in them," while you must not? For the books declare that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God - God incarnate - the sacrifice to satisfy the justice of God and bring forgiveness to all the people of God.
Today on The Dividing Line
09/25/2008 - James White
Today I started off with Osama Abdullah's allegation that Jesus "ran" from His own creation when He fled to Egypt. Of course, He was an infant in His mother's arms at the time, but hey, let's not let reality get in the way of a good argument! Then we took a call on the role of presuppositions in the study of Scripture, and then dedicated the last half hour to the 1993 sola scriptura debate with Patrick Madrid. Here's the program (free/high quality).
The Great Sermon Notes Controversy
09/25/2008 - James White
So this morning I see a shot of Mark Driscoll's sermon notes, found here. And so I thought it might be helpful to some folks if I posted my own. So, here is exactly what I had in the pulpit with me when I preached this sermon on John 3 a few weeks ago. Here's a PDF (ignore the blank second page---I did!). I attempt to preach from the original language text as often as I can, and I use color to indicate areas of focus. Just having the text colored differently is normally sufficient to remind me of a point I wished to make regarding that word, phrase, clause, etc. That is my entire contribution to the current discussion about sermon notes.
Ancient Christians Had Bibles
09/24/2008 - Tur8infanA common myth that we hear from time to time from a number of different directions, is that Bibles were in essence Gutenberg's invention: a testimony to Northern European printing ingenuity, but not an ancient practice. Of course it is true that printed Bibles necessarily followed the development of printing, but Bibles were being made long before then. Likewise, others will claim that even if Bibles existed before the Reformation, they were so extraordinarily scarce that ordinary people could not possibly have them.
Indeed, I recently had the pleasure of interacting with a lay apologist for Catholicism who, buying into the myth, apparently believed that people didn't have Bibles before the sixteenth century. He didn't say so, but I think he was somewhat surprised to discover just how many European and non-European languages the Bible had already been translated into before Luther ever nailed his 95 theses to Wittenburg door on October 31, 1517. He seemed to have a mental picture of the Bible surviving from the apostles to the reformers in Latin copy locked away in bishops' chambers.
But this picture of the world is far from the reality that Bibles were the treasured possession of the faithful since the time of the early church. Even in Europe, before Luther, Wycliffe and his followers produced manuscript (hand-written) English Bibles for the laity in an era and religious climate in which such production could get one killed. Others produced Bibles in the common tongue long before that, with Jerome publishing the Bible in Latin not to place out of reach of the common man, but to place it into the common tongue.
But even if someone is well-versed in the fact that Jerome produced a Bible - one may wonder whether his monumental task of producing a Latin Bible from copies of the the Greek and Hebrew originals was the first time that the Bible had been assembled as such. It was not.
Codex Vaticanus and Siniaticus represent essentially complete "codex" forms in which the whole Bible was assembled as a collection. They are normally dated to the 4th century.
Even earlier, the notable papyrus P72 (which is often dated to the 3rd century) contains what appear to be page numbers at the top, which indicate that the books contained in it were at some point bound together into a book form. It's less impressive in the case of P72, because in that case Scripture was bound together with other books that are plainly not Scripture.
Nevertheless, it is interesting to note something even more significant than the page numbers: the heading of the section of the papyrus at which 2 Peter begins reads: "Peter's Epistle 2" using the Greek letter Beta to represent the number two. That single character, Beta, has an important significance for the issue of the canon of Scripture. That single character demonstrates the fact that at least a mental and/or implicit canon of Scripture already existed in which there were (at least) two epistles of Peter.
That is page Kappa Gamma (23). On the facing page, Kappa Beta (22), we have the end of Peter's first epistle, which is similarly indicated at the foot of the epistle by "Peter's Epistle 1" using the Greek letter Alpha to represent the number one. Thus, we can see not only that the books were identified by the designations A and B, but they were even bound in that order.
We may take that kind of designation for granted, because we are used to Bibles today with their handy table of contents (canon). Nevertheless, that kind of designation demonstrates already in the earliest documents that we have, a recognition of the fact that there was more than one epistle of Peter, and that apparently as early as A.D. 200 there was already an established convention as to which epistle was A (1 Peter) and which was B (2 Peter), such that someone would use such an abbreviation in the heading of the book. P72 is interesting because, although it is no longer complete, it contained both epistles of Peter as well as the epistle of Jude, which further serves to demonstrate that the epistles did not simply circulate as individual letters in the early church.
Furthermore, P46 (dated to about 250 A.D.) contains a collection of Paul's epistles, while P45 (of similar date) contains a collection of the gospels and Acts. The only early physical copy of the New Testament is a single fragment (P52) that is from John's gospel, but which is too small to determine whether it was part of a larger codex.
In short, the physical documents we have speak to the fact of the recognition of the canon by the earliest Christians, and attempts by early Christians to bind the canonical books together into Bibles.
With that archaeological background we should not be surprised to hear Augustine testify:
Call this fancy, if it is not actually the case that men all over the world have been led, to believe in Christ by reading these books.(NPNF1, Vol. IV, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, Book XVI, Section 20.)
Nor should our ears be shocked to hear Chrysostom telling his congregation:
Wherefore I exhort you both to obtain Bibles, and to retain together with the Bibles the sentiments they set forth, and to write them in your minds.(NPNF1, Vol. XIV, Chrysostom's Homlies on the Gospel of John, Homily 53.)
Of course, we will gladly acknowledge that Bibles in the ancient world were not as cheap and easy to get as Bibles are today. Praise be to God for the printing press and the Internet! And surely in many places today, the population is literate to a greater degree than ever before. Praise be to God for this advance in education! But recall what the solution was in the days of Caesarius, bishop of Arles (470-543):
Moreover, since what a man procures in this life by reading or good works will be food of his soul forever, let no one try to excuse himself by saying he has not learned letters at all. If those who are illiterate love God in truth, they look for learned people who can read the sacred Scriptures to them.(Fathers of the Church, Vol. 31, Sermon 8.1 of Caesarius of Arles)
And even before Christ, the Word of God was read to the people of God, even if there was not then a full scroll in every hand, Scriptures says that they read from the Scriptures:
2And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. 3And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
For this is God's command and the way to preserve the faith:
16Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; 17And then the LORD'S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you. 18Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 20And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: 21That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
H.T. to Pastor David King and his research on the Early Church in this book (link) to whom I'm indebted for conveniently providing the quotations above.
Today on The Dividing Line
09/23/2008 - James White
I intended to get back into the sola scriptura debate but I first wanted to report on the debates this past weekend. That took the first half hour, then we took a call on the Granville Sharp Rule (see the video below), and then I wanted to work through Surah 5 in reference to the "people of the Gospel," and that took the rest of the time. Here's the program (free/high quality).
Starting with this program I am only posting a portion of the program. Nobody needs to watch a talking head for an hour, so I will post just portions that are particularly interesting...if there are any! Below is the call on Titus 2:13.
A Wish List at Solid Ground Books?
09/22/2008 - James White
You know how Amazon has a "wish list"? I wish Solid Ground had a "wish list," because this volume would be right up at the top of mine. With such swill as The Shack being promoted by non-discerning "evangelicals" today, oh how wonderful it would be if Bunyan's work had a re-birth amongst those so desperate for sound reading and instruction! This 920 page behemoth looks like a real coffee-table edition that will beg to be read. So note to Mike at Solid Ground---you need a wish list!
Did Jesus Claim to be God? James White and Farhan Qureshi
09/22/2008 - James White
The last debate of the weekend took place outside Escondido, California. I had the privilege of engaging young Farhan Qureshi. I hesitate, honestly, to speak of how much I respect this young man, and pray for this young man, simply because I know he might take heat for my doing so! But I truly did find in him a debater who, like Shabir Ally, actually listens to what I am saying and who seeks, as best he can within the parameters of the epistemology forced upon him by his religious faith, to respond to my position as I enunciate it. This is unusual in Islamic debaters, as my debates with Osama Abdullah showed, for I had to come to the conclusion that once I stood at the podium, Mr. Abdullah turned on his iPod and listened to music or...something, since one thing was obvious, he was not listening to me. Mr. Qureshi sought as best he could to respond to what I was actually saying, and that made this a worthwhile debate.
I only have the video clips from my now famous "audience cam," and those only of the rebuttals, cross-ex, and closing. The professional video will be available...when it is available. The recordings of the Jalal Abualrub debate took about five months to get to me, so, I hope these come more quickly, but I really have no control over that. Despite this, I can guarantee you that I will find in the comments on YouTube, "Why don't you play the Muslim debater's comments? You are deceptive! You are scared! Blah blah blah." Happens every time.
I will address the debates more fully in my comments on The Dividing Line tomorrow. Be listening!
Santa Fe Conference Audio
09/22/2008 - Jeff DownsThe audio for the Sata Fe Conference on Biblical Discernemnt, recently mentioned here, is now available online for you to download. Click here to listen to the following:
"Reliabilty of the New Testament Documents", Dr. James White
"Examining Mormon Proof Texts", Bill McKeever
"FAQ About the Faith Movement", Rob Bowman
"Reasoning From the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses", Ron Rhodes
"Q and A Session", All Speakers
...and much more.
Prayer is an Act of Worship - Be it to Mary or a Tree
09/22/2008 - Alan KurschnerFor although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. - Rom 1:21-25
Pray that these individuals will find the proper object of worship.
Yusuf Estes on the Deen Show: Part 8 (Conclusion)
09/22/2008 - James White
More from the Islamic Debates in California
09/21/2008 - James White
Here is my first rebuttal from Saturday night's debate with Osama Abdullah. The debate was supposed to be on the reliability of the New Testament, but Osama decided to do the "scatter gun" thing, raising a dozen different topics or more, throwing out everything he could think of, all the while completely ignoring my presentation and the material I presented. So, here are my comments in my first "rebuttal" period.
Just a quick note (I just arrived back in Phoenix), the debate yesterday with Farhan Qureshi was vastly superior to the debates on Saturday, and I will try to get a clip of that up as soon as possible.
Many thanks to all who prayed and supported us in this weekend, and a special thanks to George Saieg and David Wood for their hard work this weekend. And a special thanks to BB the BAD Reformed Baptist, and his Italian side-kick, WFP. Don't even try to figure that one out.
A Quick Clip from Bellflower
09/21/2008 - James White
I engaged in two debates today in Bellflower, California. I have never done two debates in one day before, so that was quite the interesting experience. David Wood likewise debated today. Just a quick clip of the second rebuttal I offered in the first debate on the crucifixion against Osama Abdullah.
The Irony of Challenges
09/19/2008 - James White
As most of you know, this coming weekend will be filled with opportunities to proclaim the Gospel of our glorious Jesus Christ. I will be presenting and defending the Christian view of sin and redemption Friday evening, the atoning work of Christ and the accuracy of the New Testament documents on Saturday, and the deity of our Lord Jesus on Sunday. I am working day and night to get my presentations ready (please pray for me!), and I pray that the resultant debates will be useful to the people of God all around the world and in particular the persecuted believers who suffer under Islamic oppression. Pray that the recording of the debates will go well.
Of course, only a few weeks in the future is London, more debates and preaching, and then, just a few weeks after that, Florida and the encounter with Bart Ehrman and my defense of the inspiration of the New Testament.
Truly, the next four months will be a tremendous challenge, and a tremendous blessing. In just a few weeks we will celebrate twenty five years of ministry. Alpha and Omega Ministries started in October, 1983. We have seen many come and go during those years. We have been around a while now, but we are still a small ministry in the eyes of the world. We like to think of ourselves as "lean" rather than small, content with God's provision, not seeking the large facilities and all the attendant distractions. Yet, for such a small ministry, the opportunities before us are amazing. Truly, when two young married couples got together and started this ministry twenty five years ago we never could have dreamed of the outreach that would be accomplished. At the time, we just wanted to witness to Mormons. But the Lord had larger plans.
The irony of challenges is that in my experience, right as the pressure reaches maximum is when something else will come along that makes you realize your utter dependence upon God and your own self-limitations and incapacities. I would imagine we have been less impacted by the economic down-turn than most, simply because we do not have almost any "major" donors. Our support comes from people just like us who see the unique nature of this ministry and, after taking care of their duties to their local church, seek to help us as well. We don't have any high-flying Wall Street folks pouring money through our mailbox. So, when those high-fliers are getting shot down, that's not a major issue for us.
But $4 gas and $4 milk gets to everyone eventually, and so yes, we've felt it as well. Now unlike some, you won't be getting six copies of the same e-mail from me seeking to scare you into giving or all your children will end up in some kind of cult group. But we have new folks coming to our website and listening to The Dividing Line all the time, and since we almost never mention support and donations, sometimes they figure we are already "set." So let me explain that like most everyone else, we do what we do through the generosity of God's people. I take many very unpopular stands on tough topics, so it is hard to "market" a ministry like this in a compromising, frightened evangelical context. So we stay small so we can stay truthful. But even the smallest ministry needs support. So please remember us when you are considering your role in the support of Christ's kingdom. We are not a church, and we strongly believe that believers should support their local fellowship first before looking anywhere else. If that is all the Lord enables you to do financially, then would you please pray for us? And if, after doing what is right regarding the church, you choose to assist us in continuing our work in proclaiming and defending the Gospel, we would be deeply appreciative. We promise to use those funds to the glory of God and the furtherance of the kingdom of Christ. You can go here to help us as we move into this very challenging and exciting period of ministry and proclamation.
How Low Will Rome's Defenders Go?
09/19/2008 - James White
Yesterday on The Dividing Line
09/17/2008 - James WhiteSorry about being slow in getting this blogged. We had a death in our fellowship, the funeral was today (the Lord gives, the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord), and I am attempting to be as focused as I can be on preparation for this weekend. I appreciate those of you who even today stood with us in support as well. That is very encouraging.
Yesterday I reported a bit on my trip to New Mexico, discussed the upcoming debates this weekend, took a call on Western Muslim apologists and how they differ wildly from their counterparts in Islamic countries, and then dove back into the sola scriptura debate from 1993. However, we only covered...seven minutes! Still, important materials. Here's the program (free/high quality).
May I Highly Recommend....
09/15/2008 - James White
Sometimes I wonder at the level of theological dialogue and discourse today, especially when I have those precious few moments to rummage through the words of the giants of the past. One of those men was John Owen. I have been greatly blessed by his writings, and greatly challenged as well. He calls us to think far beyond the level that passes for "normal" in our day.
Logos is close to closing its pre-publication sale on the entire set of Owen's works. You can get the details here. If you have the Libronix library system, this is one set that is worth three modern sets of theological writings in worth, simply because Owen does not struggle with the mind-numbing, heaven-minimizing, earth-chaining burden of humanism that has so infected us today. He can speak of God's truth as a whole, God's purposes as true, and hence, he speaks with power and authority. I highly recommend his works, and as many of you are indeed building a library in Libronix format, this is a set to consider getting while it is still on sale.
A Comparison of Islam and Christianity
09/15/2008 - James White
I was noticing news reports concerning the rise in violence against Ahmadi Muslims in the news this morning. Evidently, an Islamic scholar, Dr. Aamer Liaqat Hussain, during a television program commemorating the 1974 act by Pakistan's parliament that declared Ahmadis "non-Muslims," argued that the murder of Ahmadis is a "religious duty." This sparked violence and murder, including the shooting of Abdul Manan Siddiqui, an American medical doctor, while he was seeing patients.
The violence spawned by "heresy" on the part of orthodox Muslims stands in stark contrast to how believing, Biblical Christians respond to heresy. Compare and contrast the Ahmadis with, say, Jehovah's Witnesses. How do we respond to those who deny central aspects of our faith? We surely identify their error. We refuse fellowship with them as well. And we train our people to proclaim the truth to them. We write books, produce pamphlets and tracts, even post YouTube videos refuting their claims. But we do not walk into their homes or offices and shoot them dead on the spot. We do not burn down Kingdom Halls and destroy the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses. But this is exactly what orthodox Islam does when its adherents are excited by the religious rhetoric of their leaders.
It is important to note that as soon as this observation is made, Islamic apologists---rather than condemning the violence against Ahmadis---will instead point to historical events like the Spanish Inquisition. Of course, some of you noted that I specified "Biblical Christians" above, and of course, I reject the Roman system as a Christian system in the first place. But even here the Inquisition did not work like the rampaging fanatics in Pakistan. As wrong and heretical as the inquisitors themselves were, they had rules and guidelines, and what is more (and frankly, what is scary), many of those inquisitor believed they were doing God's will by "aiding" in the repentance of their victims! All of this goes to show the importance of recognizing that God did not give to the Church the sword, but gave to the Church the Gospel, by which men's hearts are changed.
So as you see the violence raging yet again in Islamic countries, reflect on how this arises from the religion itself, and how we must be thankful that God has changed our hearts by grace, not because we are better than those rampaging through the streets in Pakistan, screaming out their religious hatred. We are not better than they. They follow a man of war, we follow the Prince of Peace.
Yusuf Estes on the Deen Show: Part 7
09/15/2008 - James White
Humorous Note from New Mexico
09/14/2008 - James White
I am speaking at the Discern 08 Conference in Santa Fe, and we just had a Q&A section. Some of the panel included Rob Bowman, Bill McKeever, Ron Rhodes, and myself. At one point Ron Rhodes was asked about Calvinism and Arminianism. Since the question was not addressed to me, I did not intrude upon the response. But toward the end of our time Ron Rhodes had to leave to catch his flight. So, after he said his goodbyes but was still walking down the aisle toward the back of the sanctuary, I quipped on the microphone, "Now that Ron is gone...can I talk about Calvinism?" Thankfully, everyone laughed, nothing was thrown toward the stage, and Ron seemed to appreciate the humor as well.
Continuation of the White v. Sabin Trinity Debate, 1999
09/12/2008 - James WhiteHere is part 2 of the debate from 1999 on the Trinity.
Wilkins and A False Gospel Revisited
09/10/2008 - James White
One of Bob Ross' devotees, a fellow named Stephen Garrett, posted this on his blog today:
How many know of the famous debate that James White had with Bob Wilkins in Oklahoma City on April 22, 2005? How many know that James White tried to defend his "born again before faith" heresy in this debate? Does James sell the video of this debate on his web site? Does he promote this debate like he does the others?
I had to chuckle when I read this. I would very much like to have the video available, just like I'd like to have the video of the debate with Crossan and Borg available, but when there are production and editing issues with the video, that puts it at the end of the line, at least until the others, that have no such problems, are finished. We don't have big donors to pour money through our doors so that we can hire folks to do these things. It is especially time consuming to attempt to drop powerpoints into the videos, which will be needed for this one. But since Mr. Garrett doesn't think we've been pushing the debate hard enough (exactly how that is to be measured, we are not told), maybe I will have to cover it after the Madrid debate? I have, in fact, commented on it a number of times, but Garrett conveniently forgets to mention that. He does, however, demonstrate that he is a bit challenged in the use of a search engine:
From the comments by Bob Wilkins, it seems the debate was supposed to be made available to the public through Alpha and Omega, but if it is available, I have not seen it.
If Mr. Garrett would open the "store" link at aomin.org, go to the search section, click on "advanced," enter "Wilkin" and check the "search descriptions" box, he would find this. That will display for him 444MP3, which, as you can see here, contains a rather extensive description of the debate. One will note that this was not just inserted or something, it has been available since shortly after the debate itself.
Later Garrett reproduces a quote from a "disappointed James White supporter." Oh my! Anonymous "supporters"! Goodness. Pick up the mp3. Listen and be amazed. And wonder at someone like Garrett who claims to be a "Calvinist" and yet would support the Hodges/Wilkins position, as he does in this entry.
Yesterday on The Dividing Line
09/10/2008 - James WhiteWe continued the discussion of the 1993 sola scriptura debate with Patrick Madrid on the program yesterday. The last ten minutes or so we took a call from Florida on the subject of "prophet" Joel Hemphill, his attacks upon the deity of Christ, and his willingness to "minister in music" in Trinitarian churches. Here's the program (free/high quality).
Monday Morning Miscellaneous
09/08/2008 - James WhiteJust a couple of quick notes. We will be continuing our review of the 1993 sola scriptura debate on the Dividing Line tomorrow. I have to chuckle when I see people commenting on the video, "Hey, let it go! It was 15 years ago!" The double standards are amazing. Madrid is free to make claims about the debate that simply do not correspond to the reality, but if I dare point it out and review the material, I am the one who is doing something wrong. Truly amazing. Besides, have the real issues of biblical authority versus papal supremacy changed in the 0.7% of church history that has passed since our debate? I think not.
I would like to thank Todd Lindstrom for permission to use his wonderful music in the new introduction and outro for my videos on YouTube. We have Todd's albums available in our bookstore, and you can visit his website here.
Next, I'm headed off to Santa Fe, New Mexico this weekend. Here are the details. I will be speaking on the reliability of the New Testament, the Marian dogmas, and Islam's denial of Christian truth. I hope to see my friends from the New Mexico area there!
Finally, we got a call from Joel Hemphill at our offices last week. He wanted to talk to me about this article. I wasn't in, so Rich took the call. Mr. Hemphill wanted to complain about the article, so Rich asked him what was inaccurate about what it said. So then he said he wanted to discuss the Trinity. He did object to the final line about wolves who sing, so Rich asked him if he felt it was moral to sing for money in Trinitarian churches. So he said he wanted to talk about the Trinity again. Evidently, going from being Oneness to being Arian causes a great deal of confusion. I wish I had been here to talk with him, but should he see this, I would like to remind him that I take phone calls, live and toll free, for two hours a week during The Dividing Line at 877-753-3341, so he would be welcome to call in and express his viewpoint during the program! I'm sure our listening audience would find that most interesting indeed.
Yusuf Estes on the Deen Show: Part 6
09/08/2008 - James White
Yesterday on the DL
09/05/2008 - James White
Sorry to be so slow in getting this linked. I like posting the video with the audio, and it took me all day to get around to uploading the video (I wonder how many will be able to notice why?). In any case, yesterday we had a fairly technical program. Alan Kurschner and I discussed his paper on the textual variant at Luke 23:34, "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" We devoted the entire hour to the subject (as you can see from the earlier blog entry providing graphics on the subject). Here's the program (free/high quality).
James White vs. Robert Sabin on the Trinity, 1999, Part 1
09/05/2008 - James WhiteWhile we have made this debate available in audio format for almost a decade, this is the first time we've made it available in video format. The quality is far below our normal video recording (single video camera, poor lighting, etc.), but it is still usable. In fact, you can see the text on the screen as I used PowerPoint (for the first time in all of my debates). I have posted two portions of the debate as of the date of this posting, and at the moment, I cannot find the rest of the video tapes containing the rest of the debate. So all I have right now are the two 40 minute opening statements followed by two twelve minute rebuttals. I wish I could post the cross-examination and closing statements, but as of the time of this writing, I can only give you a link to the audio of the rest of this debate, here.
Mormonism and Heaven
09/04/2008 - Jeff DownsI finally get to post something. Well, nothing of real substance (i.e. the particular post that is). You will forgive me as I am currently in seminary, and since I started I've had no real breaks (summer included). And so at this point, this is the best I can do.
For those interested in Mormonism, you may want to listen to the interview Dr. White participated in this past Tuesday (8/2/08). The topic was Mormonism & Heaven. The MP3 link is here.
Graphics for the Dividing Line of 9/4/08
09/04/2008 - James WhiteToday I will be joined by Alan Kurschner to discuss the textual variant at Luke 23:34. I have placed the variant in brackets in the following citation to give you an idea of what we are talking about:
[But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."] And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.I here provide two graphics that we will be referring to on the program. The first is the textual data taken from Reuben Swanson, New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Luke (London, 1998) and the second is a blow up of the relevant portion of Codex Sinaiticus. Join us this afternoon for The Dividing Line!
The Argumentation for Mary's Perpetual Virginity by Epiphanius
09/04/2008 - James SwanMany Roman Catholic websites will refer to the early church father Epiphanius of Salamis (310/320-403) as a source to substantiate early traditions concerning Marian doctrines. For instance, on Mary's perpetual virginity, This Rock Magazine, December 1991 and This Rock Magazine, February 2002 use him as historical support, as does EWTN. Recently I posted an argument for Mary's perpetual virginity from Epiphanius. I'd like to share a few more of his arguments in favor of Mary's perpetual virginity. While it may be true that a particular church father held a Marian view similar to what Rome teaches today, Catholic apologists rarely explain the reasoning or differences between the current view and the ancient view. The argumentation used by ancient writers rarely matters for Catholic apologists. It cannot be denied that Epiphanius believed in Mary's perpetual virginity, but would the modern Catholic apologist grant the validity of Epiphanius's argumentation?
Epiphanius states, "For I have heard from someone that certain persons are venturing to say that [Mary] had marital relations after the Savior's birth. And I am not surprised. The ignorance of persons who do not know the sacred scriptures well and have not consulted histories, always turn them to one thing after another, and distracts anyone who wants to track down something about the truth out of his own head." Well so far, these words could be from a host on Catholic Answers Live. Let's take a look at the argumentation used and see how Biblical it is. Below are six arguments from Epiphanius in support of Mary's perpetual virginity.
6.1 Why this ill will? Why so much impudence? Isn't Mary's very name (i.e. "Virgin") a testimony, you troublemaker? Doesn't it convince you? Who, and in which generation, has ever dared to say St. Mary's name and not add "Virgin" at once when asked? The marks of excellence show from the titles of honour themselves. (2) For the righteous received the honors of their titles appropriately for them and as it became them. "friend of God" was added to the name, "Abraham," and will not be detached from it. The title, "Israel," was added to "Jacob" and will not be changed. The title "Boanerges," or "sons of thunder," was given to the apostles and will not be discarded. And St. Mary was given the title, "Virgin," and it will not be altered, for the holy woman remained undefiled. Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide) 78. Against Antidicomarians, 15,4 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), pp. 604-605.
7.2 To begin with, when it fell to the Virgin's lot to be entrusted to Joseph she was not entrusted to him for marriage, since he was a widower. (3)He was called her husband because of the Law, but it plainly follows from the Jewish tradition that the Virgin was not entrusted to him for matrimony (Ibid.p. 605).
8.2 So we are told in the Gospel, for it says, "Mary, his espoused wife;" it didn't say, "married wife" (Ibid. p. 606).
7.5 For how could such an old man who had lost his first wife so many years before, take a virgin for a wife? (Ibid.).
8.4 In the first place, the course of nature entirely confutes them. An old man of over eighty did not take a virgin as a sexual partner to begin with; she was committed to his protection. (Ibid., p. 606).
8.5 If even today (many of the faithful) strive to remain virgin, pure and continent in his name, wasn't Joseph more faithful? And Mary herself, "who," as scripture says, "pondered all things in her heart?" After a dispensation of that sort, as such greatness and importance (how could it not be wrong) for an elderly man to have relations once more, with a pure and honored virgin, a vessel which had contained the Uncontainable and had received such a mystery of a heavenly sign and man's salvation? (Ibid., p. 607).
10.5 But nowhere have we heard that Joseph fathered (more) sons. Indeed, he did not live many years after his return from Egypt, for it was the Savior's fourth year, while Joseph was over eighty-four when he arrived from Egypt. And Joseph survived for another eight years; and Jesus in his twelfth year, as it says in the Gospel according to Luke, he was sought for on their journey to Jerusalem, when he could not be found on the road (Ibid., p. 608).
20.3 For even if it was expected that the Virgin would have relations with Joseph, an impossibility because of his age, the holy scriptures show us in advance, and confirms our notion, (to) convince (us) that, although the thing is possible despite the sacred childbirth, no man(may) ever again approach the Virgin for sexual relations- convincing us in the same way in which the angel convinced Joseph that his suspicion was unfounded (Ibid., p. 616).
7.5 Joseph was the brother of Cleopas but the son of Jacob surnamed Panther; both of these brothers were the sons of the man surnamed Panther. (6) Joseph took his first wife from the tribe of Judah and she bore him six children in all, four boys and two girls, as the Gospels according to Mark and John have made clear [Mark 6:3; John 19:25] (Ibid. p. 605).
9.1 Where can I not find proof that the Virgin remained pure? For a starter, let them show me that Mary bore children after the savior's birth! Let these designers and reciters of deceit and mischief make the names up and give them! But they can't show them because she was still a virgin and perish the thought, had no sexual relations! (Ibid., p. 607).
17.7b "And he knew her not." For how could he know that a woman would receive so much grace? Or how could he know that (the Virgin) would be so highly glorified? (8) He knew that she was a woman by her appearance, and her womanliness by her sex, and knew that her mother was Ann and her father Joachim, that she was related to Elizabeth, that she was of the house and lineage of David. But he did not know that anyone on earth, especially a woman, would be honored with such glory. (9) He did not know how wondrous she was until he had seen "that which was born of her." But when she gave birth he also knew the honor God had done her, for it was she who had been told, "Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with thee" (Ibid. p. 614).
In all of these arguments, one is hard pressed to find Biblical support. Some of the argumentation is very similar to material found in the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal source. Epiphanius doesn't argue that the brothers of Jesus are cousins, as most of the current pop-apologists do. Rather, his view is that these are children from Joseph's previous marriage. This would be a minority view among Roman Catholics today. Epiphanius states that incorrect views on Mary's virginity stem from ignorance of the sacred scriptures. I would not deny Epiphanius knew scripture, I would though argue his incorrect views on Mary are the result of poor exegesis and tradition being foisted onto the Biblical text, rather than letting the text speak for itself.
San Diego Debate Location Established - The Great Debate Series
09/03/2008 - James White
The Great Debate Series
$10 - One Day
$15 - Both Days
Students free with valid ID
September 20, 2008
16705 Bellflower Bl.
Registration 9:30 AM
Was Jesus Crucified or Substituted?
Debate 10:00 AM 12:30 PM
Dr. James White
Can We Trust the Qur'an?
Debate 2:00 PM 4:30 PM
Professor David Wood vs. Apologist Farhan Qureshi
Can We Trust the New Testament
Debate 6:00 PM 8:30 PM
Dr. James White
September 21, 2008
2449 S. Centre City Parkway
Registration: 1:30 PM
Did Jesus Claim to Be God?
Debate 2:30 PM 5:00 PM
Dr. James White
Is Muhammad a True Prophet?
Debate 6:00 PM 8:30 PM
Professor David Wood vs. Apologist Osama Abdullah
Defining and Defending the Gospel: Galatians 2:1-10
09/03/2008 - James White
Today on The Dividing Line: 1993 Sola Scriptura Debate Review Begins
09/02/2008 - James White
We began listening to the 1993 San Diego debate on sola scriptura with Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid today. We will continue this review over the course of the next few programs, with the exception of this Thursday when we will be examining the textual variant at Luke 23:34 with Alan Kurschner. Many have commented that they find this kind of close review of these debates to be very useful and helpful, and surely we hope that will be the case here. Please note that the video below is not complete: the computer recording the video shut down, so, we lost about 13 minutes. The mp3 recordings, however, are fine and complete. Here's the program (free/high quality).
The Carmen Christi: Philippians 2:5-11
09/02/2008 - James White
This is the PM sermon from the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, August 31, 2008, on Philippians 2:5-11.
Patrick Madrid: Stuck in Neutral after Fifteen Years
09/01/2008 - James White
Beginning tomorrow on The Dividing Line I will be reviewing the 1993 sola scriptura debate with Patrick Madrid from San Diego, California. [We will have a special guest, Alan Kurschner, on Thursday, to discuss the important textual variant at Luke 23:34, and then continue the review of the debate after that]. I listened to the full debate for the first time in many years a few days ago, and I must admit: my memory is an odd thing. I had not recalled how simply nasty Madrid was in that debate, let alone how many incredible blunders he made, and how he utterly failed to even attempt to respond to my biblical argument, even going so far as to clearly mock the use of the original languages in doing exegesis! The circularity of his argument is so clear, I think it will be most useful to go over the entire debate, just as we did the veneration debate, so as to let the listener decide if Madrid's claim to being the champion Roman Catholic debater, undefeated, in fact, has any merit.
Today Madrid demonstrated that his study of this issue has been stuck in neutral for nearly a decade and a half now, something I find to be common amongst the leading, popular Roman Catholic apologists. It really does not seem the "big boys" are overly serious about their subject: once they find a set of arguments that keep the faithful happy, they are more than content to repeat them ad nauseum, ignoring their repeated refutation. Indeed, when Catholics find videos filled with contextless snippets accompanied by techno music and graphics focusing upon my forehead powerful and weighty---well, you can figure out what that says fairly easily. Anyway, today Madrid posted some comments on his web board. Now remember, this is the web board that filters out URLs to aomin.org, and automatically changes "Roman Catholic" to "Catholic" for you (a wonderful service to the users!). It is likewise the forum where Art Sippo rages, and Patti, one of the moderators, follows him around, editing his posts, and deleting those of others who make valid and telling points against Roman Catholic claims. In other words, "Speak Your Mind" means "Agree with Us." In any case, Madrid wrote,
As I explained to White in that debate, there is no question of a request for universal negative involved here. His "universal negative" argument was a red herring in that debate, just as it is a red herring for you to attempt it here.
There is nothing in the Catholic refutation of sola scriptura that involves asking Protestants to prove a "universal negative." You should drop that claim, as White was forced to drop it, since it is irrelevant to this discussion. No one here is asking you or any Protestant to prove a universal negative. To keep insisting that we are asking this of you is to simply miss the point.
This is currently found here (I say currently because things tend to get edited on the Envoy forums). Now just as Madrid erred 15 years ago in our debate, he continues to this day, only demonstrating how rare it is to find a Roman Catholic controversialist who seriously considers what is being said in response to his claims. They are far more likely to simply dismiss their critics as "anti-Catholic fundamentalists" and move on from there rather than seriously engage a critical response to their position. The fact is, Madrid did depend upon the common demand to prove a universal negative, and the recordings make this very clear. As I pointed out from the start, the Bible claims it is an infallible rule of faith. It tells us that our ultimate authority is that which is God-breathed, and the Scriptures are God-breathed. It places all other authorities beneath this ultimate authority. But nowhere does the Bible enumerate every possible false authority that man might attempt to join to Scripture, or to which man might subjugate Scripture. Every time a Roman Catholic says, "Oh, well, sure, the Bible is an infallible rule of faith, but where does it say it is the ONLY infallible rule of faith?" they are doing exactly what I said fifteen years ago they were doing: demanding that we disprove every possible contender someone might wish to propose. Obviously, if the Roman Catholic apologist has the slightest interest in truth, he will gladly step up to the plate to demonstrate, using the very same standards and argumentation he uses against sola scriptura, that Rome's authority and traditions are binding upon the Christian. Of course, this would require them to prove that their traditions are theopneustos, and I have found most of them to be very hesitant to make that claim, yet, this is what is required to substantiate their argumentation. We will see over and over again in our review of Madrid's arguments in the upcoming programs that the only way for his argument to stand is for him to assert that Roman traditions are theopneustos.
In our debate Madrid strongly asserted that THE Roman Catholic position is that of "material sufficiency" (evidently, his knowledge of the views of the past, the partim partim view of the majority at the Council of Trent, etc., is lacking), yet, he then went on to quote passages that would only be relevant to the more conservative partim/partim view of tradition. When it is convenient for him to use one viewpoint (which provides a grounding for traditional dogmas based upon oral tradition) he will do so, but then he will immediately retreat to the safer "material sufficiency" viewpoint to deflect refutation of the very claims he just finished making! If anyone were to seriously attempt to graph out the arguments Roman Catholic apologists use to defend Rome's circular claims of infallible authority, the resultant mish-mash would look like a road map to Washington D.C.
So tune in tomorrow on the DL for the beginning of this important series!
Yusuf Estes on the Deen Show: Part 5
09/01/2008 - James White