Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Bishop/Overseer and Steve Ray
10/29/2008 - James White
Head of Church-State Promotes Protestant Concept of Separation of Church and State
10/28/2008 - Tur8infanZenit news reports (and Global Catholic News repeats) that Benedict XVI has asserted, “the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions.”
In context, Benedict stated:
The [Roman] Catholic Church is eager to share the richness of the Gospel’s social message, for it enlivens hearts with a hope for the fulfillment of justice and a love that makes all men and women truly brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. She carries out this mission fully aware of the respective autonomy and competence of Church and State. Indeed, we may say that the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions.(insertion of "Roman" and emphasis are my own) This is an interesting claim coming from a man who is both the head of a church and the head of state of small nation. In fact, as the Vatican's own web site announces:
Even though Vatican City has no direct access to the sea, by virtue of the Barcelona Declaration of 1921, it is allowed to sail its own vessels flying the papal flag. However, the Vatican does not avail itself of this right at this time.(source - cache of source)
That was not always the case, as many ships - even warships - have flown under the papal flag. As described by the Rosary Magazine:
The Flag of the Vatican(source)
The papal flag is comparatively unfamiliar outside of the Eternal City. The war flag of the defunct temporal power of the Pope was white and in its center stood figures of St. Peter and St. Paul, with the cross keys and tiara above them. The flag of the merchant ships owned by the subjects of the States of the Church is a curious combination, half yellow and half white. In the banner used by the Crusader King of Jerusalem, Godfrey, the only tinctures introduced were the two metals, gold and silver, five golden crosses being placed upon a silver field. This was done with the intention of making the device unique, as in all other cases it is deemed false heraldry to place metal on metal.
For more information on how the Church of Rome began to accept as an inescapable fact the general separation of Church and State, see this interesting book on the "The Last Days of Papal Rome" (link).
Benedict's comments are generally in accord with the spirit of Vatican II, but they are as out of touch with history as can be. The movement for separation of church and state is not properly attributed to Catholicism but to "Protestantism" (broadly used) and more especially to the Separatists and Baptists. To be deep in history is to cease to be a Post-Vatican-II adherent to Catholicism.
More Marian Idolatry: the Marian Smudge (Tried Windex?)
10/27/2008 - James White
Mary Worship Still Alive in Catholicism
10/21/2008 - Tur8infanBenedict XVI is reported (link to report) as recently praying to Mary: "We implore you to have pity today on the nations that have gone astray, on all Europe, on the whole world, that they might repent and return to your heart."
This is a prayer that is openly idolatrous. Mankind needs to turn, not to the heart of Mary, but to the Son of Mary, Jesus Christ the Righteous. The true and proper object of worship is God alone.
Matthew 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Benedict XVI is also reported as praying to her, "If you will not help us because we are ungrateful and unworthy children of your protection, we will not know to whom to turn."
This prayer demonstrates the underlying blindness of Catholicism. There is a place to which not only all of Europe in general, but Mr. Ratzinger in particular ought to turn for help, and whose protection should be sought: the throne of the Most High God, by the intercession of the Son of God, Jesus Christ with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
But though Jesus is the Son of Mary, and though Mary is greatly blessed to be the Mother of our Saviour, yet Jesus himself said:
48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
It is almost as though Jesus was concerned lest some might foolishly fall into the trap of worshiping his blood relatives! Indeed, here is Jesus' own condemnation of the error of adoration and veneration of Jesus' mother. They do not hold a special place in the kingdom of God, but are like all those who do the will of God. Yet Catholicism, as can be seen from this event, continues to elevate Mary improperly to the status of, in effect, a goddess to whom prayers are offered.
Benedict XVI did not even omit to provide a sacrifice to this de facto goddess. It is reported that, "In a gesture of filial love, the Pope then offered the Madonna a golden rose." One is reminded immediately of the similar offerings presented by the Philistines to the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament, particularly given Catholicism's claim (or at least the claim of her apologists) that Mary is the "ark of the New Covenant."
Finally, we should note that Benedict XVI is reported not to have left Jesus entirely out: "...The secret of Pompeii is the rosary: "This prayer leads us through Mary to Jesus." But, in fact, the Rosary leads men away from Jesus, as can be seen in the idolatry illustrated in the prayers above. Benedict XVI is reported to have claimed, "The rosary is a spiritual weapon in the struggle against evil, against all violence, for peace in hearts, in families, in society and in the world."
But, in fact, sadly it is an extra-Scriptural innovation: unknown to the apostles and unpracticed for centuries and centuries following Christ's ascension. The Early Church Fathers didn't say the Rosary, and neither should you: it is a tradition of men, not of God.
There is One Mediator and Only One Mediator
10/15/2008 - Tur8infanIn a recent blog post (link), Dave Armstrong (a lay advocate of Catholicism) has made the remarkable argument that "there is one mediator" in 1 Timothy 2:5 does not rule out what Dave calls "mini-mediators." Dave doesn't comment on whether "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD," rules out mini-Jehovahs or whether "One Lord, one faith, one baptism, " rules out mini-Lords, mini-faiths, and mini-baptisms.
Naturally, he also doesn't comment on whether "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble," rules out mini-Gods. I suppose that he might be excused from these oversights with respect to other uses of "one" in Scripture except that the verse in question does not say only "there is one mediator" but also "there is one God" - in fact the quotation, "There is one mediator," requires one to omit "One God, and" in the usual translation of the text:
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Dave also doesn't comment on the fact that the term "mediator" is only ever used of Jesus in the New Testament (See postscript below for more discussion). That's true whether we speak of the English word for mediator in KJV, the Latin word for mediator in the Vulgate, or the Greek word for mediator in the original. Instead of dealing with these troubling details, Dave waves his hand and claims that Scriptures teach the concept of mini-mediators. Of course, it doesn't take a genius to guess that Dave cannot find the term "mini-mediator" in Scripture either. Instead, he declares that:
1) When Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 9:22 of "by all means sav[ing] some" - that means Paul is a "mini-mediator";
2) When Paul speaks in 1 Timothy 4:16 of "sav[ing] both yourself and your hearers" - that means Timothy is going to be a "mini-mediator";
3) When Paul speaks in Philippians 2:12-13 of "work[ing] out your own salvation" - that means the Philippians are going to be "mini-mediators";
4) When Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 4:15 of "all things [being] for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God" - that means that Paul is a "mini-mediator";
5) When Paul speaks in Ephesians 3:2 of "the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward" - that means Paul is a "mini-mediator";
6) When Paul speaks in Ephesians 4:29 of the words from the Ephesians mouths "minister[ing] grace unto the hearers" - that means the Ephesians will be "mini-mediators";
7) When Peter speaks in 1 Peter 4:8-10 of "good stewards of the manifold grace of God" - that means that the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia are going to be "mini-mediators";
8) When John speaks in Revelation 1:4-5 of "the seven spirits who are before his throne" - that means that angels are going to be "mini-mediators";
9) Whenever Paul or anyone else uses the phrase "grace to you" or the like - that means that the person using the phrase is acting as a "mini-mediator."
There a number of significant problems with Dave's methodology. For one thing, Dave more or less simply assumes in each case that the activity involved is somehow a "mini" form of what Christ does as mediator. Another problem is that in order for Dave's overall argument to work, Dave essentially has to reduce Jesus' mediatorial role to that of being a grace conduit, with God (the Father) being the source and believers (or all men - one is not really sure whether Dave applies a "prevenient grace" concept here) being the recipients. There are other problems to be sure. For example, the idea that the "seven spirits who are before [God's] throne" are consequently to be implicated in mediation is particularly far-fetched. But the two I've identified above may be viewed as the primary problems. ...
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A Quick Look Across the Tiber (With Updates)
10/08/2008 - James White
I was contacted by someone at a university out east asking if I would be willing to debate Roman Catholicism there if they could find someone to join in the debate. I indicated that would be fine, but that they might have some trouble finding a suitable opponent. Evidently, in calling around, one of those asked to engage in the debate contacted Art Sippo, who, of course, declined. Now, realize, I did not go looking for this, someone contacted me and wanted to set something up. But, the facts of the matter are never overly important to Art Sippo.
Yesterday I noticed a new blog entry on Sippo's website. Here it is. Now, you may recall that at one time Sippo declined a challenge to debate live and in public in his current city of residence on the subject of his own choosing. Why? Because...I'm not nice enough, that's why. Now, that would be like Shaq complaining that Spud Webb is too tall. In any case, please note the title of Sippo's entry. Sippo likes to refer to me as "Pseudopodeo." Many years ago my e-mail address included the biblical term ὀρθοποδέω, orthopodeo. It means "to walk straight in accordance with a rule." It was what Peter was not doing in reference to the Gospel in Galatians 2:14. Sippo has used his playground version of this biblical term for quite some time now. Notice how he begins. "It has come to my attention that the Protestant controversialist know (sic: known) affectionately as "Pseudopodeo" is jonesing for a debate." No, a campus group is looking to arrange a debate is the reality.
He continues, "He is trying to sucker some unwitting Catholic into another of his own sided lynchings in a Protestant venue with an Anti-Catholic moderator." Aside from Sippo's continued existence in a fantasy world, the reality is that when I debated Sippo in 1991, the moderator was...that infamous Anti-Catholic Patrick Madrid, then Vice President of Catholic Answers. In fact, when I debated Gerry Matatics for the first time in Long Beach the moderator was another infamous Anti-Catholic...Patrick Madrid. And the location of that debate? A terrible Protestant venue known as...a Roman Catholic church. And when I debated Matatics on the Papacy at the City of the Lord in Tempe, AZ? The Protestant venue was...a Roman Catholic organization, and the Anti-Catholic moderator was...Scott Hahn.
The irony is that the vast majority of my debates with Roman Catholics have been in Roman Catholic venues, or in secular venues, such as catering halls. The moderators have been either Roman Catholics, Jews, or on Long Island, Pastor Bill Shishko, the Moderator of Moderators! Sippo once again blusters out of his deep well of ignorance, playing to his audience but once again showing his deep disregard for truthfulness in the process.
Obviously, Sippo is still in hiding, smarting from his running from my challenge back in 2005. He lost a few disciples over that one, and is still unwilling to engage in meaningful debate. Note the absurd condescension of this man who knows no bounds in his ability to insult. Let's remember these words of the inimitable Sippo:
Mr. White is an ignorant bigot who has no academic credentials. He was raised by bigots to be a bigot and would parade around in a white sheet burning crosses on people's lawns if there was any money in it. In a strange bizarro parody of Christian discipleship, he hates his enemies and does bad things to people whom he doesn't like. He also is a big whopping LIAR and likes to slander anyone who has the temerity not to kowtow to him. He is known affectionately as Pseudopodeo by those who know him best.
The original URL for those comments was http://www.envoymagazine.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1025, but don't bother looking. The poor folks charged with the clean up of the Envoy forums came along with their electronic scoopers and picked up that mess fairly quickly.
Update: Sippo replies with his normative maturity. Note that in the strange, strange world of Art Sippo, my pointing out his own behavior is "slandering" him. Keep that in mind: quoting Sippo to Sippo is slanderous.
Meanwhile, Sippo is not the only one making quite the spectacle out of himself over on the far side of the Tiber. TurretinFan pointed me to the outrageous comments of "The Catholic Champion," Matthew Bellisario, this morning as well. As most of you know, this month is the 25th anniversary of the founding of Alpha and Omega Ministries. We set up an e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that those who have been blessed by this ministry could share how the Lord has used our little ministry in their lives. I have been posting some of them, and have a lot more to go, to be sure. They are very encouraging, and folks have enjoyed reading about others who have had similar experiences to their own. Of course, I have never presented these as apologetic arguments. They are simply testimonials related to celebrating a quarter century of God's goodness to us in this ministry.
Well, I shouldn't be surprised that a guy who would write about my hats (here) would write this. Let's ignore the context, let's ignore the reality that these testimonials are not only wide-ranging but are not presented as apologetic arguments, and let's create a simply inane basis for an accusation of hypocrisy. Evidently, wild-eyed fanaticism is not limited to Islamic responses that ignore context, either. Here are Matthew's words:
I recall reading many times on Mr White's blog how he just could not stand all of these Catholic conversion stories. Now, on his blog his latest entry is a Catholic who converted to the "Reformed" church because of Dr. White. You see, this "Dr White" is two-faced when it comes to these types of things. It's not OK for a Catholic to post a conversion story, but it is quite OK for him to do so, blowing his own horn so he can show just how great he is. The latest entries on his blog have been littered with people hailing him and his ministry as if he were some sort of prophet. And of course he just cannot resist posting these letters or emails. He also thought it was so great to have professional photos of himself posted on his blog as well. Talk about pride and arrogance. No one Catholic is permitted to post a conversion, but for White it's OK. Well, I will call this for what it is. Two-faced arrogant pride.
Ah, well, it is always good to once in a while take a gander across that smelly green river called the Tiber and be reminded of why I haven't the slightest desire to cross it.
Update: The "Catholic Champion" demonstrated that Art Sippo's penchant for not getting the point of a rebuttal is endemic. This speaks for itself.
Way to Go Vatican!
10/03/2008 - James WhiteRoger Ebert mentioned the following in his review of Bill Maher's Religulous (ht: SH):
His two most delightful guests, oddly enough, are priests stationed in the Vatican. Between them, they cheerfully dismiss wide swaths of what are widely thought to be Catholic teachings, including the existence of Hell. One of these priests almost dissolves in laughter as he mentions various beliefs that I, as a child, solemnly absorbed in Catholic schools. The other observes that when Italians were polled to discover who was the first person they would pray to in a crisis, Jesus placed sixth.···Yeah, there you go. Rome in all her glory.
Art Sippo and the Early Church
10/02/2008 - James White
I just saw the following comment by Roman Catholic Art Sippo, posted on Patrick Madrid's web board:
The Bible per se was not fully defined until 350 years after the time of Jesus. It could NEVER have functioned as the sole rule of faith. In fact, until the Bible was readily available via the printing press in an affordable form in the 16th Century, no one in their right mind would have proposed what the Protestants did. It was just plain not feasible.
What makes me chuckle here is not only Sippo's ignorance of the polemical writings of the early church (can you just see those who fought the Arian resurgence after Nicea bemoaning their inability to do so because the Roman Church hadn't defined the canon yet?) but his blindness to his own double standards. Just how is having ten times the amount of written material in the alleged "traditions" of Rome helpful here? Of course, Sippo would direct us to the wonderfully nebulous, unidentifiable, always changing, never to be defined until it is time for a new dogma no one believed in the early church concept of "tradition." It is this kind of bluster that makes the Envoy board look so wildly odd to everyone out in the real world. Of course, the above citation may disappear once Patti Scissor Hands sees it, as is so often the case, but, thankfully, she has no editing privileges on my blog.