Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
"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?
How Low Will Rome's Defenders Go?
09/19/2008 - James White
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.
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!