Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Prayers For, To, and Through the Dead
04/21/2009 - Tur8infanWithin Roman Catholicism (and within some other churches as well) there are prayers that are made for, through, and to the dead. We, as Reformed believers, reject all three of these categories but on different grounds. In discussing these issues with Roman Catholics it may be useful to be able to understand the different categories and to explain why it is that we reject each. We should pray for the living, to the living and true God, through the merits and intercession of Christ alone.
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The Convert Syndrome?
04/21/2009 - James WhiteI was directed to this report on a talk given by Frank Beckwith. I found the following line most interesting:
Following his return, Beckwith's faith was changed in more than name only. "I started reading the Bible much more," he said. "I used to read the Bible looking for arguments. I now read and look for wisdom."This does not ring true to me, at least, in light of Beckwith's own statements. I refer in particular to statements such as this one from Return to Rome, p. 79:
One may wonder where the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (or "scripture alone") factored in all this. To be blunt, it didn't, primarily because over the years I could not find an understanding or definition of sola scriptura convincing enough that did not have to be so qualified that it seemed to be more of a slogan than a standard.Then a little later, p. 80:
But as I slowly and unconsciously moved toward Catholicism in the early 2000s, I began to even find the sola scriptura of the Magisterial Reformation not entirely satisfactory. It seemed to me to subtly and unconsciously incorporate into its theological framework all the doctrines that sola scriptura, without a settled canon or authoritative creedal tradition, could never have produced out of whole cloth without the benefit of a Holy Spirit-directed ecclesiastical infrastructure.Now, according to his published work, since the early 2000s Beckwith was sub-Protestant in his view of the Bible and authority to begin with. He had a "weak" doctrine of sola scriptura (which really was not a doctrine of sola scriptura at all). So I wonder if the person reporting this talk missed something, since there would be no logical basis for Beckwith to claim he was reading the Bible "looking for arguments" (a pretty lousy reason to be reading the Scriptures to begin with) when in his published works he says he had already given up the idea that that is what the Bible is to be used for anyway. If Beckwith did say this, then we might well have an example here of the "convert syndrome." That is, if you listen to converts/reverts to Roman Catholicism often enough, you begin to learn the "mantra." They know what they are expected to say about their former faith, and especially about reliance upon the Scriptures, and hence they produce these kinds of statements. Again, all this depends on the accuracy of the report, but if it is accurate, we see a pretty clear problem with the assertion.
Steve Ray's Long-Time Record
04/20/2009 - James WhiteI was looking through the materials we have on Roman Catholicism in our articles section and I noted a lengthy discussion of Augustine's Sermon 131. I noticed the date: April 11, 2000. Why is this significant? Recently I have noted, in the context of his unscrupulous behavior and actions, the many errors of Steve Ray. Examining his writings and claims with knowledge of the Bible and history puts a Protestant apologist in a "target rich environment," to be sure. We have only scratched the surface of the refutations to be offered of Ray's claims. But some have suggested that I am picking on Ray because of his shameless promotion of Patty Bonds. But there is a bit of a historical problem with that claim, similar to the anachronism inherent in Roman historiography relating to such things as the Papacy. It doesn't fit the time line. You see, Mrs. Bonds contacted me anonymously on July 15, 2000. And it was not till November of 2000 that I learned of her apostasy to Rome (and even later that I put two and two together and realized that the e-mail I had responded to in July of 2000 was from her). Yet, the following section about Steve Ray is from an article I posted in April of 2000, months before the Bonds situation became known to me. Hence, I have identified Ray's work as shoddy, shallow, and easily refuted independently of his impudent involvement in Mrs. Bonds' activities. Here's the relevant portion:
Stephen Ray’s Presentation
But while we can excuse Keating on the basis of possible ignorance of the actual events of history, we cannot do so with Catholic convert Stephen K. Ray. Instead, we must soberly conclude that his treatment of this issue in his 1999 book Upon This Rock (Ignatius Press) is simply deceptive. This work is, in my opinion, the clearest example of the lengths to which a Roman controversialist will go in twisting history so as to support Roman claims. In a work that is without question one of the least accurate and scholarly works I have ever seen on the subject, one that argues in circles constantly, Ray addresses both Cyprian and Augustine’s views. However, given that Ray does not use the tools of a historian, and in fact utterly abandons any kind of scholarly methodology, the result is predictable. He early on exposes how utterly unreliable his work will be in words such as these:
Sometimes silence is more eloquent than words. This is especially true in Church history. We hear so much about what the Fathers say and so little about what they do not say. This is revealing and should play a significant role in our research. (Upon this Rock, p. 12).
Such a methodology is, quite simply laughable. Ray goes on to use this to argue that unless an early Father specifically denies Petrine primacy and succession that this is somehow "relevant" to historical research. It is painfully obvious, to any semi-unbiased reviewer, that Ray is assuming what he seems to know he cannot prove. The grotesquely anachronistic "examination" that follows is glowing evidence of Ray’s inability to accurately handle historical data and to provide any kind of meaningful presentation. Protestant apologist William Webster has thoroughly refuted Ray (see www.christiantruth.com) who, in response, has only been able to provide more thorough documentation of his own anachronistic, circular reasoning. Utilization of Ray’s means of thought could provide the basis for any kind of belief in the early church, no matter how far-fetched.
But despite this, Ray’s treatment of both Cyprian and Augustine is not just grossly flawed, it is deceptive. It is obvious Ray knows the truth of the matter, but he either suppresses that truth, or twists it into a shape unrecognizable to anyone who reads the early Fathers for themselves. When dealing with Cyprian he desperately attempts to undercut the reality of Cyprian’s view of the cathedra Petri, and likewise somehow "forgets" to cite the passages we provided above which demonstrate Cyprian’s rejection of Stephen’s meddling in the affairs of the North African Church. Though providing lengthy footnotes, he does nothing but ignore Cyprian’s real doctrine, while attacking William Webster for pointing out the obvious. But our concern is much more with the tremendously deceptive presentation regarding Augustine’s Sermon 131.
Beginning on page 230, Ray provides a completely circular argument, not based upon Augustine, but upon Ray’s desperate need to read into Augustine the concept of Petrine primacy in the bishop of Rome. His citations (as throughout the book) are meant to be relevant only given the assumption of what he is trying to prove, the pre-existing commitment to the modern Roman theory of Petrine primacy. He even takes a pathetically weak shot at my own discussion of Augustine’s view of Matthew 16:18-19 which is so poorly constructed that there is no need to refute it: it stands as its own refutation. But on page 233 we read the following: "Roma locuta est; causa finita est [Rome has spoken; the case is closed]." Look familiar? It should. As we have seen, Augustine never said this. Ray uses the same quotes Keating did: but, he then attaches an almost page-length footnote that shows that he is well aware Augustine never uttered these words! This is the deception. Keating can claim ignorance: Ray has no such excuse. Look at what Ray says:
This popular, shortened version of Augustine’s statement put to rest the contention caused by the Pelagian heretics. The full text of his statement—the exact equivalent of the shortened version above—is, "[On the matter of the Pelagians] two Councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [Rome]; and from there rescripts [decrees from the Pope] have come. The matter is at an end [causa finita est]; would that the error too might sometime be at an end." (Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, 3:28).
As we see, Ray knows that Augustine did not say the words he quotes, but, he excuses this misrepresentation by re-translating the term "rescripts" (Latin: rescripta) as "decrees from the Pope." Upon what basis does he do this? We are not told. We know that Innocent responded to the actions of the councils in North Africa. It is pure anachronism to 1) assume the North Africans held to Rome’s view of supremacy, 2) assume that the North Africans felt their actions required "ratification" by the bishop of Rome, and 3) assume that Augustine was basing his statement "the matter is at an end" on the decision of Innocent rather than (as the context shows) the Scriptural arguments he had presented against Pelagianism and the actions of the North African councils. Ray makes no reference to the actual substance of Sermon 131. He never quotes it. And what is worse, he utterly ignores the entire issue of Zosimus and the entire history of what transpired immediately after this sermon was preached! Instead, he provides two Roman Catholic citations that utterly ignore the historical context of Augustine’s words. One, from Bernard Otten, is a simply ridiculous assertion that while Augustine never said "Roma locuta est," "its equivalents occur again and again." We have already seen Sermon 131 surely does not do this, so where else do we look for these "equivalents"? We are not told. Another pro-Rome work is cited that inserts the anachronistic idea that the North African bishops felt they had to send the conclusions of their councils to Rome "for ratification," and as normal, we are not given any foundation upon which we can examine the claim. The fact that the North Africans rejected Zosimus’ clear, forceful rehabilitation of Pelagius, which included his insulting the North Africans as "storms of the church" and "whirlwinds" and which came couched within his complete claim of apostolic authority, shows this is not the case. The North Africans rejected his authority and his conclusions. So upon what basis can anyone say they felt the decisions of their councils needed Roman ratification? Indeed, as John Meyendorff points out, barely three years later these same African bishops wrote to Celestine, bishop of Rome, and said, "Who will believe that our God could inspire justice in the inquiries of one man only (i.e., the bishop of Rome) and refuse it to innumerable bishops gathered in council?" (Imperial Unity and Christian Division, 1989, p. 65). Does that sound like these men believed as Stephen Ray assumes everyone must have? Surely not. The facts are clear.
Middle Knowledge - Part 6
04/19/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the sixth and final section on Turretin's discussion of Middle Knowledge. This section delves into the philosophical arguments that undermine the concept of middle knowledge, demonstrating that the concept of middle knowledge leads to inevitable self-contradictions.
1. Two categories of knowledge are all that are required, because all true objects of knowledge are things possible or things actual (in Turretin's terms, "future").
2. Untrue things cannot be foreseen as true. In other words, unless it is true that a man will do "X" in situation "Y", God cannot foresee such a thing as true.
3. If divine providence is comprehensive (if it extends to men's acts) then men's will cannot be said to be indeterminate.
4. God's knowledge cannot be said to be uncertain. Therefore, if God foresees "X" as certain, then it cannot be said to be uncertain.
5. Middle Knowledge removes God's sovereignty over the creature, because it suggests that God is in essence depending on man's fortuitous cooperation in obtaining the ends he wishes.
6. Middle Knowledge removes God's freedom to base decisions solely on his own good pleasure, thereby contradicting the view of God presented in Romans 9.
Middle Knowledge - Part 5
04/18/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the fifth video in the series, of which (for those already weary of the series) there are six videos. This section deals with alleged proof texts of Middle Knowledge:
(1) 1 Samuel 23:11-12
This is the place where David asked God whether the men of the city would deliver David up if David stayed in the city, and God told him they would, so David left the city. Turretin notes that this was simply a question about the men's plans, not specifically about a future contingency.
(2) Matthew 11:21
This is the place where Jesus compares those who failed to believe after many miracles were done in their midst by comparing them to Tyre and Sidon and saying that the men of Tyre and Sidon would have already repented if the miracles done had been done in them. Turretin notes that this is hyperbole, much as one might say that if a person had been beating on rocks as long as he had been beating on a judge for justice the rocks would have been broken, or that if a donkey had been taught as long as a very slow pupil that the donkey would be able to understand already.
(3) 2 Samuel 12:8
This is a place where God notes additional blessings that would have come to David if David had obeyed. Turretin notes that these blessings are conditional promises, and consequently they are based on a decree of God necessarily.
Additionally, we noted that in each case the verses relate to God's knowledge after the decree, and consequently they are not really prooftexts for any kind of middle knowledge, because they do not relate to the knowledge of God before the decree of futurition.
Middle Knowledge - Part 4
04/17/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the fourth section of the discussion of Middle Knowledge taken from Turretin's Institutes. This section deals with Turretin's six main objections to Middle Knowledge:
(1) Two categories of knowledge are enough, because all things are either merely possible or actually future,
(2) Untrue things cannot be foreseen as true,
(3) God's exhaustive providence precludes the possibility that mans' will is indeterminate,
(4) No uncertain knowledge belongs to God, therefore if God foresees men's decision, they must be certain and consequently determinate not indeterminate,
(5) Middle Knowledge would remove God's sovereignty over the creature, and
(6) Gods' freedom to base his decisions solely on his own good pleasure would be undermined.
Middle Knowledge - Part 3
04/16/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the third video in the series on Middle Knowledge. This section presents the "state of the question." That is to say, it helps describe what exactly is under consideration. Thus, in this video we distinguish the issue from the issue of God knowing all possible contingent things, of God knowing necessarily contingent things (like "if the sun rises, it is day" or "if a person heartily repents, he will be saved"), and from the issue of God knowing freely contingent things prior to ALL decrees.
Instead, the question is whether God knows what men or angels (rational creatures) will freely do without a special decree preceding (if placed with these or those circumstances and in such-and-thus an order of things).
Seventy Percent of Roman Catholics Do Not Understand The Eucharist
04/15/2009 - James Swan
Seventy percent of Roman Catholics do not understand the Eucharist? There's that anti-catholic James Swan again, making stuff up about the one true church. Everyone knows, those who are members of the one true church have the benefit of the infallible magisterium. The papacy has God-given authority keeping Catholics unified!
Actually, what most who may think this about me don't realize is I probably read more Roman Catholic books at this point than Protestant books. I certainly listen to more Catholic broadcasts than Protestant. This particular fact was not something I made up. It comes from the April 6, 2009 broadcast of Catholic Answers Live. Catholic apologist Jim Burnham devoted an hour on "How to Defend and Explain the Eucharist." You can listen to Jim's statistics in this short clip. Jim says in part,
"Poll after poll in recent years has confirmed that more and more Catholics are mistaken... they have misguided views about the Eucharist. it used to be everybody understood that the Eucharist was Jesus. it was the true flesh and blood... the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine. And now more recent polls suggest that sometimes up to fifty percent depending on how the question is phrased, sometimes as many as seventy percent of Catholics can't identify that core Catholic belief..."
So, if I were to ask seven out of ten Catholics to explain the Eucharist, according to Burnham, I'd probably get a few different answers, or maybe even seven different answers. Here again we find a simple truth, typically ignored by Catholic apologists. Catholic apologists will repeatedly claim a Christian relying on the Bible as his sole infallible authority will produce confusion. They claim one must have another infallible authority, the Papacy. Yet, here is one of their key doctrines, what Burnham calls, "the crown jewel" of the Catholic faith, the Eucharist, and seven out of ten Catholics are confused on it.
In this period of economic crisis, many companies are evaluating their work plan, trying to find ways in which their company is failing and losing money. I submit, If your alleged infallible teaching magisterium is working as Burnham describes, you may want to evaluate the effectiveness of upper management at this point.
Middle Knowledge - Part 2
04/15/2009 - Tur8infanThis is part 2 of the series. The first part of the series can be found here (link). The first part discussed the true doctrine of the knowledge of God, but this section defines the erroneous doctrine of middle knowledge and describes its history. As is discussed in the video, Molinism was the brainchild of Lessius, Fonseca, and/or Molina (three Jesuits who couldn't decide among themselves who invented the doctrine) in opposition to Dominicans who held to a view of free will that is similar to that of Calvinists.
The Jesuits were seeking to make God's election to be based on foreseen faith and good works, as well as to defend their view of man's free will as autonomous. The only way they saw around the Dominicans' observation that God's will consists of natural and free knowledge was to invent a third category of knowledge that they designated "middle knowledge."
This "middle knowledge" is allegedly different from natural knowledge in that it is indeterminate, not being based on the nature of God, but on a decree. This "middle knowledge" is allegedly different from free knowledge, however, in that it is not about things certainly future, or - to put it another way - it is not based on God's decrees but on the decrees of creatures.
The New Catholic (Right and Wrong) Answer Bible, Update
04/14/2009 - James Swan
A few days ago I mentioned some of the problems with the notes found in The New Catholic Answer Bible. Recall, the author, Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong, referred to them as "the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB," written by "heterodox, liberal dissidents." Because of these notes, I felt it would be fitting to rename his book, "The New Catholic Right and Wrong Answer Bible."
Armstrong claims his insert notes are orthodox and Catholic, while the detailed verse footnotes put in by Catholic scholars are heterodox and untrustworthy. Mr. Armstrong has given further clarification: Most Catholics who bought The New Catholic Answer Bible don't read the footnotes. Dave says, "So there are some theologically liberal errors to be found in some of the notes; big wow. That's not why readers have (and buy) the Bible in the first place. Most probably don't even read the footnotes. They want the apologetic notes."
I guess I hit the target again. When Catholics start posting threads like this at the Catholic Answers forums, it warms my heart:
Can I have some examples of why the NAB's footnotes are so bad?
Answer 1: "They are detrimental to Catholic Teaching, inclusive language in almost everyone of them and for the fact that not just Catholics, but Protestants translated it as well."
Answer 2: "They are not bad. They are very helpful. They are compatible with mainstream Catholic theology. If you don't like them that is fine, but I don't think it would be the best use of your time to pursue invalidating them."
Well, these Roman Catholics seemed to be concerned about the notes. Well, perhaps you're the type who doesn't want to get caught up in this tedious debate. You'll buy The New Catholic Answer Bible and ignore the notes. At least you'll have Dave's inserts and Biblical text.... or do you? Do you have a Biblical text you can trust? Ben Douglass, a Roman Catholic, stops by my blog now and then. He left a link to an article he wrote on the New American Bible, which is the biblical text used by Armstrong's New Catholic Answer Bible: Wolf in Calfskin: The Rampant Liberalism of the NAB. Douglass points out:
J'accuse: the NAB, in many places, daringly redacts, rearranges, or otherwise mistranslates the sacred text, and it does so in the service of the modernist critical hermeneutic which is revealed in its "perverse" introductions and commentary. These comments repeatedly contradict or call into question the Catholic dogma of the plenary inspiration and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, as well as raising grave doubts about the Catholic dogmas of Christology and Mariology. The NAB refuses Scripture the submission which is due to it according to the Catholic saints: "Holy Scripture is in such sort the rule of the Christian faith that we are obliged by every kind of obligation to believe most exactly all that it contains, and not to believe anything which may be ever so little contrary to it." Indeed, it freely confesses that Scripture is wrong in places and freely disagrees. The NAB charges the Bible with contradiction, concerning which Oecumenius may be quoted as representative of the faith of the whole world: "For nothing could be contradictory in the mouth of the one and the same Spirit." Yet more, it seems that the NAB would have our Lord in ignorance and our Lady in doubt of her faith, which can only eventuate in Catholic readers doubting theirs. This Bible is a danger to the faith of Catholics; it is a near occasion for sin.
For those of you considering a purchase of the NCAB, I suggest reading Ben's essay. It appears, you not only have corrupted notes to deal with, but a corrupted translation as well. This leaves you with purchasing the NCAB for only one reason: DA's mystifying "inserts." Now, of course, the information DA provides in these inserts is probably already on his website somewhere for free. But I guess, if you want to plop down twenty bucks for an untrustworthy Biblical text, with notes putting forth "some theologically liberal errors," go right ahead.
Why though would you buy a Bible and not be able to actually use and trust it? Perhaps the right thing for DA to do at this point would be to gather up his mystifying notes, and print them separately in a small volume. The printing of the NCAB should stop, and a disclaimer should be put forth, that the NCAB has theological poison in it harmful to Roman Catholics. Will DA do this? I doubt it. He's more interested in documenting "Why Folks Are Buying the Bestselling New Catholic Answer Bible." He's more interested in praise for his work. Sure a few people might be confused by liberal wrong notes, and a corrupt translation of the Bible... but so what? In every great work, a few must be sacrificed, right?
If it were me adding notes to a Bible and selling that Bible, I would tremble before the Lord at such an endeavor. I could not in good conscience sell a book that actually corrupted God's word and say of it "The New Catholic Answer Bible is your faith's foundation in Holy Scripture and Catechesis." Then I would admit that I'm not worthy to sell God's word with any of my notes, and that task should be left for those whom God has called to be Biblical scholars, not a guy who simply claims to be an apologist. How can Armstrong add stuff to a Bible, collect cash from it, when he doesn't know Hebrew and Greek? That is arrogance. Why would someone knowingly sell a book containing blatant truth and error at the same time? Mr. Armstrong is a theologian of glory. It's all about the glory of DA.'
Recall, according to Mr. Armstrong I have the following attributes: "clueless, ignorant, dense, know-nothing, slanderer, nit wit, anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention, liar, and spewer of idiotic nonsense."I would rather be all these things than be the person knowingly selling a corrupt translation of the Bible with liberal notes, claiming the product is something a person should own. A theologian of glory would sell such a product, a theologian of the cross would rather starve.
Middle Knowledge - Part 1
04/14/2009 - Tur8infanThis is the first part of what is planned as a multi-part discussion on middle knowledge and free will. This part discusses the fact that God's knowledge is intrinsically simple (undivided) but can be divided extrinsically (as to its objects) into two categories: natural and free. These two categories exhaust all the objects of God's knowledge.
To summarize what I've put in the video, the following are the main points:
1) God's knowledge is, in and of itself, simple and undivided.
2) God's knowledge can be, however, considered by us (theologians) in relation to its objects as either natural or free.
3) Natural Knowledge is God's knowledge of the extent of his own power without considering how God plans to exercise this power. Thus, God knows what God could do, if God so chose to do it. He knows every way that he could exercise his own power, if he wished to exercise it.
4) Free Knowledge is God's knowledge of the actual exercise of his power. That is to say, Free Knowledge is God's knowledge about the world that he has made and the history that he has brought into being, as well as the future that remains to be seen.
More On How Low Will Rome Go
04/11/2009 - James White
By the way, after recording this I took note that Dave Armstrong decided to join in the fun on the far side of the Tiber. Of course, that's hardly surprising, though no less reprehensible.
An Extra Bar of Soap for Mr. Ray
04/10/2009 - Tur8infanDr. White has already responded to Mr. Ray's latest (see here) but I wanted to address a particular line from Mr. Ray's comment: "Every time I have tangled with him in the past I felt like I needed a shower with a good bar of antibacterial soap."
Now, in context, Mr. Ray means to insult Dr. White. That's perfectly clear, and I don't want his good friend William Albrecht thinking I'm suggesting otherwise. No, it is just one of a significant number of hostile remarks that Mr. Ray provided. But there is a certain irony to it.
After all, we've been exhorting Mr. Ray over and over again to clean up his act.
And guess what: that advice has never been more timely. Mr. Ray: clean up your act. Like when someone comments on your blog: "Why did you find it appropriate to bring such a tragic family issue into this? Is this not the same as when others try to use clergy abuse to refute catholicism?" Don't respond, as you did, "STEVE RAY HERE: BECAUSE WHITE BROUGHT IT UP ... ." We all know you brought it up and Dr. White responded to it.
That makes you a liar. That's not an insult, that's not a personal attack, though it is a criticism of the way you've been acting. If we could clean up your act by giving you a nice fresh bar of antibacterial soap, we would, but the kind of truth-telling problem is a sin, and requires a stronger soap.
Recall the words of the prophet:
Malachi 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
Mr. Ray: clean up your act. Get right with Christ now. The soap that fullers used to use (think bleach) is not strong enough to remove your sins, but if you repent of your sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation, his blood can make you whiter than snow - both forensically (as to justification) and actually (as to progressive sanctification). Consider, Mr. Ray, placing your trust in Christ alone rather than in your church - give up Rome for Christ, and Christ will not let you down.
More On the Pathetic State of "Apologetics" for Rome
04/10/2009 - James WhiteI fully expected Steve Ray to avoid any meaningful response to a critique of his many errors and falsehoods, and he has not disappointed. Nor am I surprised that instead of standing up and actually defending his reprehensible behavior and his simple dishonesty, he has chosen to let someone else, a layman without the first semblence of meaningful training in any relevant field, let alone even a basic grasp of the issues, to offer a "defense," William Albrecht (whose numerous errors and generally incoherent presentations have been repeatedly exposed here and in other places). Ray doesn't even have the integrity to lie well in his response. Compare what I actually said about him (and the repeated documentation of his theological and historical blunders) with his response:
Anti-Catholic James White has demonstrated a frantic obsession with me over the last few years based on what people have told me about his blog and radio shows. People tell me he claims I am irrelevant and unimportant yet to the contrary I am told he is quite infatuated and spends an inordinate amount of time trying to refute and challenge me. I don't pay much attention. I consider him a whiny, egotistical bore and a huge waste of time. I basically ignore him and his infatuation with me. Every time I have tangled with him in the past I felt like I needed a shower with a good bar of antibacterial soap.Well there you go! I truly feel refuted! But let's face it, that's all Ray has. Bluster, insult, dishonesty. And remember, he's a regular on the Catholic apologetics circuit. Truly speaks volumes, does it not?
Frank Beckwith: Wading in the Tiber on Sola Scriptura
04/09/2009 - James White
Steve Ray on Tony Blair
04/08/2009 - James WhiteAs Tur8inFan noted a clear example of Ray's double standards earlier today, I just ran across another example here. Ray notes that Tony Blair, who converted to Rome in 2007, has criticized Rome's teachings on homosexuality. He opines, "We want more Protest-ants to convert and join us, but not if they bring their 'protest' with them. Leave it behind or go back where it is welcome!"
But wait! Isn't this the same Steve Ray who has assured us that the source of disagreement and dispute is sola scriptura? This is the same Steve Ray who, even after full documentation of the dishonesty of the "33,000 denominations produced by sola scriptura" fraud, continued to defend it? So, how can Tony Blair, a Roman Catholic, not be in perfect harmony with Rome's teachings? Is it possible that despite the clarity of Rome's position on the topic, he still chooses to disagree? But wait, that would render Rome's entire magisterium invalid on Ray's own principles, for he has said it is sola scriptura that is to blame for all those differences amongst Protestants! Of course, that won't work, and what you will get will be the "We have one standard in support of Mother Church, and another for...the rest of you" defense. Ah, the glory of Rome!
Steve Ray and Magisterial Double Standards
04/08/2009 - Tur8infanMr. Steve Ray, whom you'll remember from Dr. White's video in the immediately preceding blog post, despite supposedly "fasting from blogging and blog reading for Lent," has provided two recent blog posts in which he illustrates the fact that Roman Catholic apologetics can impair one's ability to think straight:
a) According to Ray, Warren flip-flopped on homosexuality because he lacks a Magisterium (link);
b) According to Ray, the Roman Catholic senators who voted against a conscience exception amendment in abortion cases did so because they are "stupid" and "wicked" (link).
Does anyone else notice the double-standard?
When a single "Protestant" does something bad (and I in no way endorse Rick Warren's flip-flop), it is proof of the failure of Sola Scriptura, but when 16 Roman Catholic senators do something bad (and only 9 do the right thing) it is because they are individually wicked and/or stupid. Do you see the problem with Ray's thought process? The bias there should be evident to even the most simple of readers.
Finally, while we have Mr. Ray on the hook, let's take a quick peek at the argument he uses against Warren. Ray writes:
Beauty of NOT having a Magisterium ... ... is that you don't have to have any solid positions, morals, or theology. You can waffle and change your mind. God has no opinion (obviously, or so think many) so you donít have to worry about what He might think.(see first link above, double-ellipsis in original)
a) Remember the Crusades? Seemed like a good idea to the "magisterium" of the day. Not so much these days. Is Mr. Ray willing to concede that the Roman church does not have any solid positions, morals, or theology? Of course not. Mr. Ray would never concede such a thing. But he's quite willing to throw stones at Mr. Warren's error.
b) This comment of Ray's is part of a larger propaganda campaign within Catholicism to suggest that the two choices are their magisterium or moral relativism. This false dichotomy is not just illogical it is absurd. There is a "What We Believe" page at Rick Warren's church's website. Among a number of articles, that site says:
The Bible is Godís word to all men. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is truth without any mixture of error.(source)
Now, (out of wickedness, stupidity, fear of men, an overly soft heart, or whatever) Mr. Warren may not faithfully follow his own statement of beliefs, but there they are. He claims that the Bible is truth without any mixture of error, and that God speaks through it to all men. God's opinion does matter, even though Mr. Warren gets things wrong, for whatever reason he does.
I know that may burst Mr. Ray's polemical bubble, but Mr. Ray needs to be spurred on to a balanced and honest polemic and away from his double-standards and irrational propaganda.
Steve Ray, Patty Bonds, and the State of Roman Catholic Apologetics
04/08/2009 - James White
The New Catholic (Right and Wrong) Answer Bible
04/03/2009 - James SwanIt was a little over year ago while skimming through the books at Borders that I came across The New Catholic Answer Bible (Wichita: Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005). Similar to someone impulsively looking at dogs and cats on pet adoption day, I couldn't resist, and took it home with me. It wasn't until I did a few web searches that I was able to figure out exactly who put this thing together. It's a collaboration between Dr. Paul Thigpen, editor of The Catholic Answer magazine, My Daily Catholic Bible (Our Sunday Visitor) and Dave Armstrong (a self-proclaimed Catholic apologist).
Recently, Mr. Armstrong took a strong dislike to my blog entry, "We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #9. In that entry, I pointed out that the Bible contributions of Thigpen and Armstrong don't seem to match up to the commentary notes of The New Catholic Answer Bible. Armstrong has finally let us know why. He refers to them as "...the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB...". Armstrong says,
"As we have come to sadly expect, the know-nothing anti-Catholic crowd (being dense as they always are about Catholic topics) would rather cite heterodox, liberal dissidents than orthodox popes and orthodox Catholic commentaries. That fits in nicely with their slanderous agenda. But the truth is far different."
When one visits the homepage for The New Catholic Answer Bible, we're told the following:
"Fireside is proud to introduce The New Catholic Answer Bible- New American Bible-Ideal for:RCIA - Religious Education -Confirmation -Bible Study- Youth Ministry -High Schools & Universities. Benefits: -Provides for a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith -Presents inquiring questions for class discussion -Teaches the roots, tradition and rituals of the faith Translation-"
That's very impressive, is it not? After reading this, one is given the assurance of a quality book of factual information. Indeed, you'll be getting the best Catholic answers, right at your fingertips, along with the biblical text. You'll' have study Bible guiding you toward "a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith." Just think of the possibilities... a Catholic could walk into any Protestant Bible study with The New Catholic Answer Bible, and be ready to defend the one true church. You could use this Bible in high schools and universities, to learn and defend the Catholic faith! The back cover boldly states, "The New Catholic Answer Bible is your faith's foundation in Holy Scripture and Catechesis."
The commentary notes though used by the Thigpen / Armstrong New Catholic Answer Bible are, according to DA "the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB," written by "heterodox, liberal dissidents." That is... not very comforting. Are we to assume the "answers" given in the NCAB commentary notes are not intended by Armstrong and Thigpen to be correct answers? I suggest they rename this book, "The New Catholic Right and Wrong Answer Bible. Armstrong and Thigpen should also explain why the reference material for the NAB was given the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: "The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free from doctrinal or moral error." Perhaps those granting it don't have the same criteria used by Dave to determine "heterodox, liberal dissidents." In fact, the declaration goes on to say, "No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur agree with the content, opinions or statements expressed." Now that's the beauty of being Rome- you can affirm and deny so as to cover all bases.
Of course, Mr. Armstrong included his usual kindness. I'm part of the "know-nothing anti-Catholic crowd (being dense as they always are about Catholic topics)." I put forth my "usual clueless ignorance." He says I'm "spewing idiotic nonsense." "Pointing out simple facts because an anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention from our ranks can't get them right to save his life is neither "debate" nor "dialogue" (as if that even needs to be pointed out). I suggest that this nitwit (with -- of all things -- a philosophy degree yet!!) pull out the closest dictionary to get up to speed on definitions." Yes, the kindness of Catholic apologists, topped off with the charge, "Lying (especially about brothers in Christ), is a very serious sin, and bearing false witness is forbidden in the Ten Commandments."
Speaking of lying, a while back, someone asked Dave, "Dave, New challenge for you. James Swan posted an article on 3-3-09 where he argues 2 Macc 12 is not a clear reference to Purgatory. You might enjoy refuting his comments, especially because he cites you by name and says you're wrong." Dave responded,
Thanks for the info, but I no longer waste time debating anti-Catholic sophists. When I did do so, for 12 years, almost all of them ran every time they faced an opposing argument. For the few who managed to not run, it was all sophistry and obscurantism. That is most unimpressive and irksome, so I have given up. I continue to make my own arguments but I don't bother with theirs anymore, because they never defend them when challenged. One has to understand how to rationally, properly assert and defend arguments. I don't have time for that. I want to dialogue with people who have some semblance of intellectual confidence in their positions.
See also this link.
But then, to make it all "Christian" Mr. Armstrong turns the other cheek and states, "Pray for this self-deluded person and all like him. They are in a very bad spiritual state, to keep doing these things. There's always hope, and they are fellow Christians, but they need much prayer. Ask the Blessed Virgin Mary in particular, to intercede on their behalf, and apply Lenten penances to their souls." Such is the world of conservative orthodox Catholic apologists like Dave Armstrong. How would Dave's prayer go? Based on Dave's comments, I've put together a prayer. Perhaps it could be something like, "Dear Mary, please help this clueless, ignorant, dense, know-nothing, slanderer, nit wit, anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention, liar, and spewer of idiotic nonsense stop quoting the notoriously liberal notes (with the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur) for the NAB. Help him to see (and embrace), the true Catholic faith found in those sections of our Answer Bible that agree with what we deem correct by orthodox scholars and Catholic commentaries.
"We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #9
04/01/2009 - James Swan
Catholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium and church Tradition in order to interpret the Bible correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible. Let's see how they've been able to rightly divide the word of truth. Especially interesting is the divide between Rome's apologists and scholars as to the meaning of the biblical text.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
I've mentioned Catholic interpretations of Revelation 12 a number of times. Recently, Tim Staples provided his understanding of the identity of the woman in Revelation 12. You can listen to Tim's explanation here. This answer was given in the context of proving Marian dogmas. According to Mr. Staples, Mary is the "new Eve" in the earliest writings of the church fathers because "we have such a such a clear reference in the book of Revelation to the woman who gives birth to the messiah being referenced as the new Eve." Staples also says Revelation 12 parallels Genesis chapter 3.
As to the early church fathers all knowing the woman in Revelation 12 was a clear reference to Mary, Some of Rome's historians appear to hold a much different view. Luigi Gambero says it might have been Epiphanius (after 310; died in 403): who was the first: "The identification of the woman of the Apocalypse with the Virgin Mary is interesting. It may be the first Marian interpretation of the scriptural text" [Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999) p. 126]. On the other hand, Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M. thinks it was Tychonius (370 /390):
"Tychonius, a lay theologian among the Donatists, independent enough to be excommunicated by his own sect, seems to have identified Mary with the woman of Apoc. 12, and to have spoken of a 'great mystery' in her regard." [Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., Mariology, Volume 1 (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1955), p. 148]. In the footnote #180 for this citation, Carol says, 'Tychonius' view is transmitted by Cassiodorus, Complexiones in Apocalypsin, n. 16; PL, 70, 1411."
Latin text for Cassiodorus: De matre vero atque Domino Jesu Christo, et de diaboli adversitate pauca perstringit, futuris praeterita jungens: dicens, Deum ascendisse ad caelos, matrem vero ipsius aliquanto tempore in secretioribus locis esse servandam, ut eam illic pascat annis tribus, et semis; quod in magnum sacramentum, sicut Tychonius refert, constat edictum. Apocalypsis Sancti Joannis, ß16, PL 70:1411B.
Do Catholic scholars agree with Mr. Staples that the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary? Raymond Brown interprets Revelation 12 as, "The woman clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet and on her head the crown of twelve stars, represents Israel, echoing the dream of Joseph in Gen. 37:9 where these symbols represent his father (Jacob/Israel), his mother, and his brothers (the sons of Jacob who were looked on as ancestors of the twelve tribes)" [Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), p.790]. Brown points out that in "subsequent theology, especially in the Middle Ages, the woman clothed with the sun was identified with Mary the mother of Jesus)" [p. 790, footnote 32]. This would be contrary to Staples claim that the earliest church fathers saw this passage referring to Mary. Brown also says the parallel is to Genesis chapter 37, not chapter 3 as Staples insists.
The New Catholic Answer Bible commentary notes on Revelation 12 state, "The woman adorned with the sun, the moon , and the stars (images taken from Gn 37, 9-10) symbolizes God's people in the Old and the New Testament. The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah (5) and then became the new Israel, the church, which suffers persecution by the dragon (6. 13-17); cf Is 50, 1;66, 7; Jer 50, 12. This corresponds to a widespread myth throughout the ancient world that a goddess pregnant with a savior was pursued by a horrible monster; by miraculous intervention, she bore a son who then killed the monster" [The New Catholic Answer Bible (Wichita: Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005) p. 1384]. Similar to Brown and contrary to Staples, the parallel is to Genesis chapter 37, not chapter 3.
The commentary notes for The New Catholic Answer Bible were written by Catholic scholars, while the Watchtower-esque color inserts scattered throughout this study Bible were compiled by Dave Armstrong and Paul Thigpen. Insert E4 states, "In St. John's vision of heaven, the 'woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, bore a son 'destined to rule all the nations' (Rv 12:1, 5). Is it any wonder that in such a portrait, Catholics see Mary, Queen of Heaven?" Well, there is indeed wonder here- it is a wonder why Rome's scholars see one thing, while her apologists see another.