Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Opening Statements and..Sort of a Rebuttal Period in the Debate in Queens, NY
06/30/2009 - James White
Today on The Dividing Line
06/30/2009 - James WhiteToday we had a number of calls on a wide variety of subjects, but mainly on the Shamsi Ali debate last Thursday evening. I played some material from the debate, and I also played some clips from the Q&A at the Sovereignty of God Conference. Here's the program.
Yes, We Will Be Doing the DL Tomorrow!
06/29/2009 - James White
I can't guarantee much insight on my part, but, I am home, so, we will be doing the DL at the regular time in the morning. I had a fairly uneventful trip home, and am tremendously thankful to all the pastors and churches in New Jersey and Long Island that made the past ten days so special.
Q&A and Closing Statements in the Imam Shamsi Ali Debate, Queens, June 25, 2009
06/26/2009 - James White
Debate Report on Iron Sharpens Iron Today!
06/26/2009 - James WhiteI will be live in studio today with Chris Arnzen to discuss last night's debate with Imam Shamsi Ali. I can call it a debate (it was always a debate to begin with) since that is what Imam Ali called it! In any case, lots of interesting things to go over. Click here to listen live at 3pm EDT. I will also be posting the audience questions and closing statements to YouTube today, Lord willing and my little broadband modem allowing.
Also, I am very happy to report that the live streaming worked very well last evening! Everyone reported they could hear clearly. I am so glad that our dearest and most dedicated supporters could feel like they were part of the events even though many miles away. The little PC worked great, and the external battery gave me a solid 4 hours of streaming and still had half its bars left!
Video Presentation of Opening Statement
06/25/2009 - James WhiteHere is a small video version of my opening statement. By using the pause button you should be able to follow my opening statement pretty easily. I hope this is useful to those listening live (or, I would guess, for those who listen later as well!).
Mark Shea's Marian Series
06/25/2009 - James WhiteI have added Mark Shea's Marian series to the Ministry Resource List. I would dearly love to see some of the major Roman Catholic apologists come out of hiding, in essence, and engage in a robust debate on the claims Rome makes about Mary, but the past five years have shown a Roman Catholic apologetics community in disarray and retreat. But with their claims of the need to "turn to Mary" in this time of "distress" growing louder, I believe they should show as much bravery in defending their claims as they do in making them. But, even if they will not defend their claims, we will still obtain their materials and subject them to truthful, fair, and primarily Biblical analysis and refutation.
Let it be clearly repeated: I stand ready to engage in debate with Mark Shea, Tim Staples, Patrick Madrid, Jimmy Akin, Karl Keating, John Martignoni, Steve Ray, and Scott Hahn on such subjects as the Marian dogmas, purgatory, justification, predestination and election, etc. Given that many of these men are putting out DVDs and CDs on these topics regularly, it would seem to me wisdom personified to demonstrate the supremacy of these teachings against knowledgeable Reformed opposition.
Live Webcasting of the Muslim/Christian Dialogue Tonight!
06/25/2009 - James WhiteWell, it is time to try out that new little PC. TQuid will be helping to monitor the unit for me, so if we have a break in the stream he should be able to get it back up (a luxury I won't always have in all my debates). Click here to get to the webcast page, then use the method best suited for your system, just like listening to the Dividing Line.
Now, make sure to check back on the blog for additional information half an hour prior to the debate!
Preparations on Long Island
06/24/2009 - James WhiteJust a quick note. I spoke on "The Future of Calvinism in America" this morning at the Sovereignty of God Conference at the Bread of Life Fellowship Church in Haledon, New Jersey. I would like to thank Pastor Joe LoSardo and the elders there for holding the conference. It is always a huge task to put something like that on! I had a wonderful time fellowshipping with the brethren there.
I also noted today that Trinity Baptist Church has posted the Sunday evening sermon I preached there, found here.
Here is a picture I just took in my hotel room here on Long Island. You can see my MacBook Pro running KeyNote, the program I use for my presentations, and next to it is my ultra-thin, ultra-tiny, easily carried, yet 2300 lumen producing Casio projector, once again provided by one of the readers of this blog via the Ministry Resource List. It is vital that I am able to double check transitions, timing, etc., prior to these major presentations (such as the dialogue tomorrow evening), and that requires a second monitor or projector to get the "presenter display" set up properly. Across the room is my main "everything you need while doing the traveling apologist thing" bag, in which you will find all sorts of adapters, jump drives, and various gadgets that keep you communicating, studying, and operating on the road. So once again, to all who have kept A&O going over the years, my sincere thanks.
Last picture to share. I visited the Princeton cemetary Saturday, and while I surely did want to visit the grave of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards (and I did), there was one I really wanted to see more, one that many others miss when they visit. Here is the gravestone of a man who had a grasp of the biblical witness to the Trinity that few others have ever possessed. Likewise, his work on the inspiration of the text of Scripture remains as relevant as when he penned it. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, a great servant of God. I am thankful to have been able to visit his grave and far more grateful for his life and ministry.
Young Arminians Attack on YouTube!
06/23/2009 - James White
Greetings from New Jersey
06/21/2009 - James WhiteJust a quick note before I get some rest. Flew into New Jersey on Friday. Yesterday two of the elders from Trinity Fellowship Church in Tom's River took me up to visit the Princeton Cemetary, final resting place of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, and B.B. Warfield. Though it was raining, it was still an enjoyable visit. We could not help but wonder at the fact that the cemetary was the best seminary in the area these days, if you know what I mean.
This morning I spoke at Trinity Fellowship Church on Ephesians 1:3-14. The audio has already been posted here. I then drove up the Garden State Parkway to Montville where I had the privilege of preaching at Trinity Baptist Church to a very good crowd of fellow Reformed Baptists. I spoke from John 8, and I assume when that audio is posted it will be found here.
Tomorrow the Sovereignty of God Conference kicks off, and I have the privilege of being the first presenter. Please continue to pray for this week of ministry!
Jerusalem Jones on the DL
06/19/2009 - James White
Today on the Dividing Line
06/18/2009 - James WhiteContinued our review of Norman Geisler's "Why I am Not a Five Point Calvinist" sermon today, but at the beginning we covered another example of the bankruptcy of Roman Catholic apologetics today in the wild-eyed behavior of Matthew Bellisario and others. Here's the program.
On Tuesday's DL
06/18/2009 - James WhiteWe began with a Jerusalem Jones update, listening to Steve Ray once again misrepresent his former faith. This time, though, we provided appropriate intro music! Then we continued listening to Norm Geisler's "Why I'm Not a Five Point Calvinist" sermon, noting the regular equivocation in his arguments against the Reformed position. Here's the program.
Don't forget that today's DL will be at the normal Tuesday time, 2pm EDT.
Response to "Prophecy Channel"
06/18/2009 - Tur8infanThe video below is a response to Prophecy Channel's (PC's) response to Dr. James White. There three main sections to the video, and consequently three main sections to the response:
1. Does Dr. White think only Calvinists are Christians?
No. Dr. White acknowledges that there are non-Calvinist Christians. On the other hand, Dr. White recognizes that not everyone who calls himself a Christian actually is one.
2. Does Calvinism make God the Author of Sin?
Not by the definition of that term found in the Westminster Confession of Faith. But PC has his own definition of "author of sin." Since the term isn't a Biblical term, I'd rather not get stuck on labels. I know "author of sin" has a nasty ring to it, but what's wrong with saying that God is the "author of sin" in some remote sense of ordaining that sin will transpire. Why should that be problematic beyond being susceptible of an ugly label?
2. What about three passages in Jeremiah?
PC raises three passages in Jeremiah that say that some particular sin was not what God commanded or decreed, nor did it enter into God's mind. Three such passages are:
For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.
But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
PC's problem in analyzing these passages is this: he has overlooked the difference between the Revealed Will (what one should do) and the Secret Will (what one will do). These passages are talking about God's decrees relative to the revealed will: his commandments, not his decrees of Providence.
Furthermore, PC has a problem ahead of him. If he insists that God cannot hold men responsible for things that God has foreordained, he's going to run into a problem:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
God foreordained that the Jews would deliver up Jesus to Pilate and yet the Jews had not just sin, but a greater sin than Pilate's sin in executing Christ unjustly. That's a greater sin than the rape of a child, as shocking as that might sound. So, are you going to "blame" God for the crucifixion? Or are you going to justify God although he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass?
The True State of the Reprobate
06/18/2009 - Colin SmithOne of the obejctions Arminians like to throw against the Reformed teaching regarding election is the fact that one cannot speak of a sovereign God electing without at least implying, if not directly approving, "double predestination"--that is, that God both elects to salvation and to damnation. The Arminian objection is largely emotional: the thought of a good and loving God condemning countless masses of people to eternal torment should grieve your soul and make you wonder how a God of love could ever do anything so heinous. That God would gather millions of people and select only some to be saved is supposed to be seen as equivalent to terrorists rounding up villagers and condemning them all to die, except for some random, fortunate souls that are picked out. Just imagine the poor, depraved non-Christians being dragged into hell against their will, kicking and screaming all the way to the fiery pit shouting "Why me? Why me?" and you get the idea.
Of course, this is quite an unbiblical representation of the Reformed doctrine of election and reprobation. The Reformed view starts with the fact that we are all sinners, every last one of us (Romans 3:23). And not just that we are guilty of getting angry at our kids, or jumping in line at McDonald's, or saying something mean about a co-worker. No, we are guilty of outright rebellion against our Creator. We are all God haters, actively suppressing the knowledge of God and ignoring Him and His claims upon us (Romans 1:18 ff.) When Romans 3:11 says that there are none who seek after God, we must understand that this is saying that no-one is actively pursuing the things of God. There is no-one who desires from the bottom of his or her heart to be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). No-one wants to do God's will; it takes a work of God's regenerating Spirit to change the heart so that we are able to believe and desire to please God (John 3:3). This is what happens when God elects to save. Those God does not choose are left in their rebellion; they have no desire to do God's will, no love for God, and feel absolutely no remorse at not being of the elect.
I am a vegetarian, and I have been for nearly 20 years. Prior to being a vegetarian, I loved chicken and would drool over a juicy steak like the next carnivorous person. Now, such things do nothing for me. I have sat at the dinner table with people sharing stories of the fabulous cuts of meat they have enjoyed, salivating and causing other to salivate as they describe tender pork roasts, or succulent prime ribs, all of which has no effect on me whatsoever. I have no desire for meat, and the thought of a juicy steak does as much for me as the thought of moldy bread. People have tried to entice my taste buds with their favorite dishes of animal flesh, but I simply have no desire to eat meat, so they are left frustrated. When the turkey is being passed around at Thanksgiving, I do not feel in the slightest bit offended when the platter is passed over me. My feelings are not hurt when someone else is offered the turkey leg. Indeed, I am grateful that people are considerate enough not to pour gravy on my plate. I don't think I'm missing out on anything.
The Reformed position teaches that the reprobate attitude to God is akin to my attitude to meat. They don't want God. They have no desire for God. The last thing they want is to hear the gospel message and be told of Christ's sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. It is not glorious to them; it is foolishness and a waste of their time (1 Corinthians 1:18). In fact, you would not be dragging them kicking and screaming into hell; you would be dragging them kicking and screaming into heaven! Unless God changes his heart, taking out the heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), the reprobate would be pleased to know that he has been passed over for election, and grateful that he will not have to tolerate God's presence for all eternity.
So, in answer to the Arminian who says, "if you believe in election, that means you believe in double predestination." I say, "yes and amen!" If by "double predestination" you mean that God has elected some (a multitude, if we accept what Revelation 7:9 says) for salvation, and purposefully left the rest to their just and deserved condemnation, I say, "indeed, that's exactly what I believe." That's not to say I don't grieve over the lost; they truly don't know what they are missing, and how severe their punishment will be. However, we need to be sure we recognize that God is ultimately just in all His ways, and He does not condemn to eternal death anyone a) who doesn't want to go there, and b) whom He has not determine will go there, for the greater purpose of His will, to the ultimate glory of His name. I close this article with the words of Loraine Boettner:
The condemnation of the non-elect is designed primarily to furnish an eternal exhibition, before men and angels, of God's hatred for sin, or, in other words, it is to be an eternal manifestation of the justice of God.. This decree displays one of the divine attributes which apart from it could never have been adequately appreciated. The salvation of some through a redeemer is designed to display the attributes of love, mercy, and holiness. The attributes of wisdom, power, and sovereignty are displayed in the treatment of both groups. Hence the truth of the Scripture statement that, "Jehovah hath made everything for its own end; Yea, even the wicked for the day of evil," Prov. 16:4... This decree of reprobation also serves subordinate purposes in regard to the elect; for in beholding the rejection and final state of the wicked, (1) they learn what they too would have suffered had not grace stepped in to their relief, and they appreciate more deeply the riches of divine love... (2) It furnishes a most powerful motive for thankfulness that they have received such high blessings. (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, pp. 121-122)
New Jersey/New York Schedule Reposted
06/17/2009 - James WhiteChris Arnzen sent out this very nice graphic, which I think Carla put together, of my upcoming swing out East, so I am shamelessly swiping it! Of course, that means I'm providing Chris with free advertising, but that's OK! He has to put up with me being his taxi driver for a few days next week, so it is a fair trade.
Updates on Rome's Forgotten Apologists
06/17/2009 - James SwanI try to keep up with some of the fallen heroes of Catholic apologetics. Ten to fifteen years ago, it wouldn't be so uncommon to find the men below put forth as Rome's best defenders.
I take 44 cents out Gerry Matatics' pocket every so often. I'm on his mailing list, so the mailman brings me his newsletter. His most recent newsletter explains that his position is not a compromise with "the liberalism and modernism that has swept over the Catholic world in the last 50 years," and he offers a new set of recordings to prove it.
He then states,
So called "mainstream traditionalist" publications like The Latin Mass magazine, The Remnant, The Fatima Crusader, Catholic Family News, and groups such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, The Institute of Christ the King, and even the society of St. Pius X (still unapproved by, but ever hopeful for a rapprochement with, Rome), have all fatally compromised with this modernism, as these talks demonstrate.
At this point, I'm unsure exactly who's left in the room with Gerry. The only description that I can think of is, Gerry Matatics Contra Mundum.
Catholic Apologetics International is "a Catholic lay apostolate dedicated to the teachings of Jesus Christ preserved by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It stands on the forefront of Catholic Apologetics, explaining Catholicism to fellow Catholics and defending it against her opponents."
Here are some recent statements from CAI President, Robert Sungeinis.
"It's always amazing to me how blind Catholics are to Scripture and prefer popular science to God's inerrant word. Jimmy Akin should know better. Unfortunately, he molds Scripture to his own views and makes it teach things that it never said." [source]
"I'm sad to see Catholic Answers and Ave Maria give what basically is an anti-Catholic position of both evolution and Genesis 1 a public platform. It seems that modern Catholics will do just about anything today to accommodate the unproven theories of evolution."
"As for debating, I'll debate Dr. Collins, Catholic Answers, Ave Maria, or any other Catholic who is touting the theory of evolution as fact and has the audacity to distort Genesis 1 as Collins has done. Unfortunately, when you raise this issue to the specter of a public debate, the opponents usually run and hide. But I'll be waiting." [source]
"The problem here is that [Mark] Shea has invented a new degree of doctrinal validity called the 'pale of orthodoxy' for a doctrinal issue that has no 'pale.' "
"I wish Mr. Shea would engage me, because it is important for the Catholic community to know the truth of this matter."[source]
Well, so much for the unity of Rome's apologists. Perhaps though, it can best be explained by Mr. Sungenis:
"Yes, there is quite a variety of views in the Catholic Church, but that is to be expected. There is everything from the ultra conservative to the ultra liberal, just as in most intellectual and political issues of life. But the good thing about the Catholic Church is that it has a central body that can determine the correct answer if a controversy erupts, which is the way the RCC has established its doctrines for the last 2000 years. In the end, it is what the Church OFFICIALLY teaches that is important, while the views of its liberals and conservatives may only act as an impetus for the church to study the issue more deeply in order to come to a firm and official answer. For what it's worth, I am considered a "conservative," although I would not classify myself in that way. Sometimes I'm traditional, sometimes conservative, and even sometimes I favor liberal ideas. For me the criterion is truth and not party affiliation." [source]
My question of course would be, why are there still ultra conservative and ultra liberal positions within the Roman church after the church officially establishes a doctrine?
Catching Up on The Dividing Line
06/16/2009 - James WhiteWell, Rich is back in town, so we have the files uploaded for last week's Dividing Lines. Hopefully we will have today's program up...tomorrow!
I normally provide a description, but...all I know is I covered a lot of apologetics issues relating to William Lane Craig, Molinism, the issue of God's sovereignty and man's evil, etc., in the two programs. Here is the program from June 9th, and here is the program from June 11th.
Matthew 23:37 from PRBC Sunday School, June 14, 2009
06/15/2009 - James White
Wisdom from President Edwards
06/13/2009 - James WhiteAnd therefore it must needs be, that a sight of God's loveliness must begin here. A true love to God must begin with a delight in his holiness, and not with a delight in any other attribute; for no other attribute is truly lovely without this, and no otherwise than as (according to our way of conceiving of God) it derives its loveliness from this; and therefore it is impossible that other attributes should appear lovely, in their true loveliness, till this is seen; and it is impossible that any perfection of the divine nature should be loved with true love, till this is loved. If the true loveliness of all God's perfections, arises from the loveliness of his holiness; then the true love of all his perfections, arises from the love of his holiness. They that don't see the glory of God's holiness, can't see anything of the true glory of his mercy and grace: they see nothing of the glory of those attributes, as any excellency of God's nature, as it is in itself; though they may be affected with them, and love them, as they concern their interest: for these attributes are no part of the excellency of God's nature, as that is excellent in itself, any otherwise than as they are included in his holiness, more largely taken; or as they are a part of his moral perfection.
And therefore it is primarily an account of this kind of excellency, that the saints do love all these things. Thus they love the Word of God, because it is very pure. 'Tis on this account they love the saints; and on this account chiefly it is, that heaven is lovely to them, and those holy tabernacles of God amiable in their eyes: 'tis on this account that they love God; and on this account primarily it is, that they love Christ, and that their hearts delight in the doctrines of the gospel, and sweetly acquiesce in the way of salvation therein revealed.
Under the head of the first distinguishing characteristic of gracious affection, I observed that there is given to those that are regenerated, a new supernatural sense, that is as it were a certain divine spiritual taste, which is in its whole nature diverse from any former kinds of sensation of the mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other five senses, and that something is perceived by a true saint in the exercise of this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely different from anything that is perceived in them by natural men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men get of honey by looking on it or feeling of it; now this that I have been speaking, viz. the beauty of holiness is that thing in spiritual and divine things, which is perceived by this spiritual sense, that is so diverse from all that natural men perceive in them: this kind of beauty is the quality that is the immediate object of this spiritual sense: this is the sweetness that is the proper object of this spiritual taste. The Scripture often represents the beauty and sweetness of holiness as the grand object of a spiritual taste, and spiritual appetite. This was the sweet food of the holy soul of Jesus Christ, "I have meat to eat, that ye know not of…. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:32, John 4:34). I know of no part of the Holy Scriptures, where the nature and evidences of true and sincere godliness, are so much of set purpose, and so fully and largely insisted on and delineated, as the 119th Psalm; the Psalmist declares his design in the first verses of the psalm, and he keeps his eye on this design all along, and pursues it to the end: but in this psalm the excellency of holiness is represented as the immediate object of a spiritual taste, relish, appetite and delight, God's law, that grand expression and emanation of the holiness of God's nature, and prescription of holiness to the creature, is all along represented as the food and entertainment, and as the great object of the love, the appetite, the complacence and rejoicing of the gracious nature, which prizes God's commandments above gold, yea, the finest gold, and to which they are sweeter than the honey, and honeycomb; and that upon account of their holiness, as I observed before. The same Psalmist declares, that this is the sweetness that a spiritual taste relishes in God's law, "The law of the Lord is perfect…. The commandment of the Lord is pure…. The fear of the Lord is clean…. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart…. The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether: more to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalms 19:7–10).
A holy love has a holy object: the holiness of love consists especially in this that it is the love of that which is holy, as holy, or for its holiness; so that 'tis the holiness of the object, which is the quality whereon it fixes and terminates. An holy nature must needs love that in holy things chiefly, which is most agreeable to itself; but surely that in divine things, which above all others is agreeable to holy nature, is holiness; because holiness must be above all other things agreeable to holiness; for nothing can be more agreeable to any nature than itself; holy nature must be above all things agreeable to holy nature; and so the holy nature of God and Christ, and the Word of God, and other divine things, must be above all other things, agreeable to the holy nature that is in the saints.
And again, an holy nature doubtless loves holy things, especially on the account of that, for which sinful nature has enmity against them: but that for which chiefly sinful nature is at enmity against holy things, is their holiness; it is for this, that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and against the law of God, and the people of God. Now 'tis just arguing from contraries; from contrary causes, to contrary effects; from opposite natures, to opposite tendencies. We know that holiness is of a directly contrary nature to wickedness: as therefore 'tis the nature of wickedness chiefly to oppose and hate holiness; so it must be the nature of holiness chiefly to tend to, and delight in holiness.
The holy nature in the saints and angels in heaven (where the true tendency of it best appears) is principally engaged by the holiness of divine things. This is the divine beauty which chiefly engages the attention, admiration and praise of the bright and burning seraphim; "One cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isaiah 6:3). And: "They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, which was, and is, and is to come" (Revelation 4:8). So the glorified saints, "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy." (ch. Revelation 15:4).
And the Scriptures represent the saints on earth as adoring God primarily on this account, and admiring and extolling all God's attributes, either as deriving loveliness from his holiness, or as being a part of it. Thus when they praise God for his power, his holiness is the beauty that engages them: "O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things; his right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory" (Psalms 98:1). So when they praise him for his justice and terrible majesty; "The Lord is great in Zion, and he is high above all people: let them praise thy great and terrible name, for it is holy" (Psalms 99:2–3). "Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool, for he is holy" (ver. Psalms 99:5). "Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy" (verses Psalms 99:8–9). So when they praise God for his mercy and faithfulness; "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness" (Psalms 97:11–12). "There is none holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee; neither is there any rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:2).
By this therefore all may try their affections, and particularly their love and joy. Various kinds of creatures show the difference of their natures, very much, in the different things they relish as their proper good, one delighting in that which another abhors. Such a difference is there between true saints, and natural men: natural men have no sense of the goodness and excellency of holy things; at least for their holiness; they have no taste of that kind of good; and so may be said not to know that divine good, or not to see it; it is wholly hid from them: but the saints, by the mighty power of God, have it discovered to them: they have that supernatural, most noble and divine sense given them, by which they perceive it: and it is this that captivates their hearts, and delights them above all things; 'tis the most amiable and sweet thing to the heart of a true saint, that is to be found in heaven or earth; that which above all others attracts and engages his soul; and that wherein, above all things, he places his happiness, and which he lots upon for solace and entertainment to his mind, in this world, and full satisfaction and blessedness in another. By this you may examine your love to God, and to Jesus Christ, and to the Word of God, and your joy in them, and also your love to the people of God, and your desires after heaven; whether they be from a supreme delight in this sort of beauty, without being primarily moved from your imagined interest in them, or expectations from 'em. There are many high affections, great seeming love and rapturous joys, which have nothing of this holy relish belonging to 'em.
Particularly, by what has been said you may try your discoveries of the glory of God's grace and love, and your affections arising from them. The grace of God may appear lovely two ways; either as bonum utile, a profitable good to me, that which greatly serves my interest, and so suits my self-love; or as bonum formosum, a beautiful good in itself, and part of the moral and spiritual excellency of the divine nature. In this latter respect it is that the true saints have their hearts affected, and love captivated by the free grace of God in the first place.
From the things that have been said, it appears, that if persons have a great sense of the natural perfections of God, and are greatly affected with them, or have any other sight or sense of God, than that which consists in, or implies a sense of the beauty of his moral perfections, it is no certain sign of grace: as particularly, men's having a great sense of the awful greatness, and terrible majesty of God; for this is only God's natural perfection, and what men may see, and yet be entirely blind to the beauty of his moral perfection, and have nothing of that spiritual taste which relishes this divine sweetness.
(Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, Part III, Section III)
Greek Typesetting Help?
06/13/2009 - James WhiteI have an odd request to make of our readers. I would imagine there are some who follow this blog who know what I mean when I speak of using Unicode as the new standard for Greek fonts in typesetting. And I would imagine a few know that you can't just switch over from older, proprietary fonts, to Unicode. It generally takes a great deal of time to re-enter the text by hand.
So here's my situation. Reformation Trust is putting the 1995 publication, Sola Scriptura! back in print. However, the Greek font I used back then is no longer in use. I need to re-type, in Unicode, all the footnote citations that use Greek. There are a number of them, but it isn't a massive amount. But no one at the publisher has the expertise to do this, and it has fallen to me. However, I am less than a week out from heading to New Jersey and New York, and I simply do not have time to invest in re-typesetting Greek footnotes over the next couple of weeks. I have the document in Word or PDF formats. If there is someone who can read Greek and could change the Greek to Unicode in those footnotes, it would help us get that book out in a more timely fashion. Please let me know through our contact page if you could do that, or, drop in our chat channel and let me know that way. Thanks for your consideration!
God's Sovereignty and the Judgment of Man's Sin
06/12/2009 - James White
(Some) Patristic Views of Atonement
06/11/2009 - Tur8infanThe following is a list of several patristic quotations (previously posted at the link) that relate to the topic of the atonement. Some affirm limited atonement, some are simply germane to the topic of the atonement without necessarily affirming limited atonement. The last two show that interpreting 1 John 2:1-2 the way that Calvin did was not new to Calvin.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it is not intended to be a representative list. There are a lot of odd statements by the church fathers on the atonement, and a lot of strange theories that some of them adopted. Also, just because they adopted a view of limited atonement (in the sense of understanding that Christ was offered to bear the sins of the elect or in that he redeemed the elect in particular) does not mean that they held to a thoroughly "Calvinist" (what an anachronism to call it that!) understanding of TULIP. This, therefore, provides some patristic views of the atonement.
Ambrose (c. 339-97): Although Christ suffered for all, yet He suffered for us particularly, because He suffered for the Church. Saint Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, trans. Theodosia Tomkinson (Etna: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1998), Book VI, §25, p. 201.
Latin Text: Et si Christus pro omnibus passus est, pro nobis tamen specialiter passus est; quia pro Ecclesia passus est. Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, 6.25, PL 15:1675.
Ambrose (c. 339-97): Great, therefore, is the mystery of Christ, before which even angels stood amazed and bewildered. For this cause, then, it is thy duty to worship Him, and, being a servant, thou oughtest not to detract from thy Lord. Ignorance thou mayest not plead, for to this end He came down, that thou mayest believe; if thou believest not, He has not come down for thee, has not suffered for thee. "If I had not come," saith the Scripture, "and spoken with them, they would have no sin: but now have they no excuse for their sin. He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also." Who, then, hates Christ, if not he who speaks to His dishonor? -- for as it is love's part to render, so it is hate's to withdraw honor. He who hates, calls in question; he who loves, pays reverence. NPNF2: Vol.: Volume X, Of the Christian Faith, Book IV, Chapter 2, §27.
Ambrosiaster: The people of God hath its own fulness. In the elect and foreknown, distinguished from the generality of all, there is accounted a certain special universality; so that the whole world seems to be delivered from the whole world, and all men to be taken out of all men. See Works of John Owen, Vol. 10, p. 423.
Latin text: Habet ergo populus Dei plenitudinem suam, et quamvis magna pars hominum, salvantis gratiam aut repellat aut negligat, in electis tamen et praescitis, atque ab omnium generalitate discretis, specialis quaedam censetur universitas, ut de toto mundo totus mundus liberatus, et de omnibus hominibus omnes homines videantur assumpti: De Vocatione Gentium, Liber Primus, Caput III, PL 17:1084.
Jerome (347-420) on Matthew 20:28: He does not say that he gave his life for all, but for many, that is, for all those who would believe. See Turretin, Vol. 2, p. 462.
Latin text: Non dixit animam suam redemptionem dare pro omnibus, sed pro multis, id est, pro his qui credere voluerint. Commentariorum in Evangelium Matthaei, Liber Tertius, PL 26:144-145.
Hilary of Arles (c. 401-449) commenting on 1 John 2:2: When John says that Christ died for the sins of the "whole world," what he means is that he died for the whole church. Introductory Commentary on 1 John. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 177.
Latin text: et non pro nostris tantum. set etiam pro totius mundi peccatis; Aecclesiam mundi nomine appellat. Expositio In Epistolas Catholiicas, Incipit Epistola Sancti Iohannis Apostoli, Cap. II, v. 2, PL Supp. 3:118.
Augustine (354-430): 2. But alongside of this love we ought also patiently to endure the hatred of the world. For it must of necessity hate those whom it perceives recoiling from that which is loved by itself. But the Lord supplies us with special consolation from His own case, when, after saying, "These things I command you, that ye love one another," He added, "If the world hate you, know that it hated me before [it hated] you." Why then should the member exalt itself above the head? Thou refusest to be in the body if thou art unwilling to endure the hatred of the world along with the Head. "If ye were of the world," He says, "the world would love its own." He says this, of course, of the whole Church, which, by itself, He frequently also calls by the name of the world: as when it is said, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." And this also: "The Son of man came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." And John says in his epistle: "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also [for those] of the whole world." The whole world then is the Church, and yet the whole world hateth the Church. The world therefore hateth the world, the hostile that which is reconciled, the condemned that which is saved, the polluted that which is cleansed.
3. But that world which God is in Christ reconciling unto Himself, which is saved by Christ, and has all its sins freely pardoned by Christ, has been chosen out of the world that is hostile, condemned, and defiled. For out of that mass, which has all perished in Adam, are formed the vessels of mercy, whereof that world of reconciliation is composed, that is hated by the world which belongeth to the vessels of wrath that are formed out of the same mass and fitted to destruction. Finally, after saying, "If ye were of the world, the world would love its own," He immediately added, "But because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." And so these men were themselves also of that world, and, that they might no longer be of it, were chosen out of it, through no merit of their own, for no good works of theirs had preceded; and not by nature, which through free-will had become totally corrupted at its source: but gratuitously, that is, of actual grace. For He who chose the world out of the world, effected for Himself, instead of finding, what He should choose: for "there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. And if by grace," he adds, "then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace." NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate LXXXVII, §2-3, John 15:17-19.
Augustine (354-430): Hence things that are lawful are not all good, but everything unlawful is not good. Just as everyone redeemed by Christ's blood is a human being, but human beings are not all redeemed by Christ's blood, so too everything that is unlawful is not good, but things that are not good are not all unlawful. As we learn from the testimony of the apostle, there are some things that are lawful but are not good. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., Works of Saint Augustine, Adulterous Marriages, Part 1, Vol. 9, trans. Ray Kearney, O.P., Book One, 15, 16 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1999), p. 153.
Chrysostom (349-407) on Hebrews 9:28. "So Christ was once offered.": By whom offered? evidently by Himself. Here he says that He is not Priest only, but Victim also, and what is sacrificed. On this account are [the words] "was offered." "Was once offered" (he says) "to bear the sins of many." Why "of many," and not "of all"? Because not all believed, For He died indeed for all, that is His part: for that death was a counterbalance against the destruction of all men. But He did not bear the sins of all men, because they were not willing. NPNF1: Vol. XIV, Epistle to the Hebrews, Homly 17.
Prosper of Aquitaine (d. 463): He is not crucified with Christ who is not a member of the body of Christ. When, therefore, our Saviour is said to be crucified for the redemption of the whole world, because of his true assumption of the human nature, yet may he be said to be crucified only for them unto whom his death was profitable. . . . Diverse from these is their lot who are reckoned amongst them of whom is is said, 'the world knew him not.'
Latin text: Non est autem crucifixus in Christo, qui non est membrum corporis Christi, nec est membrum corporis Christi, qui non per aquam et Spiritum sanctum induit Christum. Qui ideo in infirmitate nostra communionem subiit mortis, ut nos in virtute ejus haberemus consortium resurrectionis. Cum itaque rectissime dicatur Salvator pro totius mundi redemptione crucifixus, propter veram humanae naturae susceptionem, et propter communem in primo homine omnium perditionem: potest tamen dici pro his tantum crucifixus quibus mors ipsius profuit. . . . Diversa ergo ab istis sors eorum est qui inter illos censentur de quibus dicitur; Mundus eum non cognovit. Responsiones ad Capitula Gallorum, Capitulum IX, Responsio, PL 51:165.
Prosper of Aquitaine (d. 463): Doubtless the propriety of redemption is theirs from whom the prince of this world is cast out. The death of Christ is not to be so laid out for human-kind, that they also should belong unto his redemption who were not to be regenerated.
Latin text: Redemptionis proprietas haud dubie penes illos est, de quibus princeps mundi missus est foras, et jam non vasa diaboli, sed membra sunt Christi. Cujus mors non ita impensa est humano generi, ut ad redemptionem ejus etiam qui regenerandi non erant pertinerint. Responsiones ad Capitula Objectionum Vincentianarum, Capitulum Primum, Responsio, PL 51:178.
Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Hebrews 9:27-28: As it is appointed for each human being to die once, and the one who accepts death's decree no longer sins but awaits the examination of what was done in life, so Christ the Lord, after being offered once for us and taking up our sins, will come to us again, with sin no longer in force, that is, with sin no longer occupying a place as far as human beings are concerned. He said himself, remember, when he still had a mortal body, "He committed no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth." It should be noted, of course, that he bore the sins of many, not of all: not all came to faith, so he removed the sins of the believers only. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 175.
Bede (672/673-735) commenting on 1 John 2:1: The Lord intercedes for us not by words but by his dying compassion, because he took upon himself the sins which he was unwilling to condemn his elect for. On 1 John. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 177.
Latin text: Interpellat ergo pro nobis Dominus, non voce, sed miseratione, quia quod damnare in electis noluit, suscipiendo servavit. In Primam Epistolam S. Joannis, Caput II, PL 93:89.
Bede (672/673-735) commenting on 1 John 2:2: In his humanity Christ pleads for our sins before the Father, but in his divinity he has propitiated them for us with the Father. Furthermore, he has not done this only for those who were alive at the time of his death, but also for the whole church which is scattered over the full compass of the world, and it will be valid for everyone, from the very first among the elect until the last one who will be born at the end of time. This verse is therefore a rebuke to the Donatists, who thought that the true church was to be found only in Africa. The Lord pleads for the sins of the whole world, because the church which he has bought with his blood exists in every corner of the globe. On 1 John. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 178.
Latin text: Qui per humanitatem interpellat pro nobis apud Patrem, idem per divinitatem propitiatur nobis cum Patre. . . . Non pro illis solum propitiatio est Dominus, quibus tunc in carne viventibus scribebat Joannes, sed etiam pro omni Ecclesia quae per totam mundi latitudinem diffusa est, primo nimirum electo usque ad ultimum qui in fine mundi nasciturus est porrecta. Quibus verbis Donatistarum schisma reprobat, qui in Africae solum finibus Ecclesiam Christi esse dicebant inclusam. Pro totius ergo mundi peccatis interpellat Dominus, quia per totum mundum est Ecclesia, quam suo sanguine comparavit. In Primam Epistolam S. Joannis, Caput II, PL 93:90.
God's Decree and Man's Evil: A Rebuttal of a YouTube Video
06/10/2009 - James White
Today's DL Went Well, Except...
06/09/2009 - James WhiteSince Rich is out of town we won't be posting the programs until he gets back. Please direct all outraged e-mails to Rich. :-) We did do the program, though, live, and covered Dr. Craig's lecture on the "Problem of Evil" delivered at Cambridge a few years ago. You should be able to hear it...next Monday or Tuesday, if you missed it live today!
Thursday's program will be delayed in posting, too, but, it will be at the normal time this week (4pm). Next week the Thursday program will be in the AM again as I will be teaching. I leave for NY/NJ the next day, so I do not yet know if we will be able to do any programs while I am on the road. I will try my best!
Tenacity of the Text - A Response
06/09/2009 - Tur8infanIntroduction
The issue of the tenacity of the text is one of the important points that was raised by Dr. White in his debate with Dr. Ehrman recently (the debate can be obtained here). One of the illustrations of the tenacity of the text is the illustration of a jigsaw puzzle set that includes 1,010 pieces although only 1,000 are the pieces to be included (with 10 pieces that are additional). Ehrman does not admit this principle of the tenacity of the text, insisting instead that there are places (at least one - perhaps many) where the original reading of a text is lost. There may, in Ehrman's mind, be 1,010 pieces but less than 1,000 of those go with this puzzle.
It's important to distinguish the issue of tenacity; in its most basic form the tenacity argument simply asserts that we have all the pieces that make up the original text. It does not say that we can easily distinguish between readings. It also does not say whether the majority text has been interpolated (the prevailing view in modern criticism) or whether the older texts are deficient (a view popular among advocates of the majority text). Unfortunately, this has not been clear (apparently) to everyone who has heard the puzzle illustration. ...
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John Gilchrist vs. Shabir Ally, Durban, South Africa
06/08/2009 - James WhiteI just received notice that a debate will be held on June 23rd, 6pm in the Durban City Hall in South Africa between John Gilchrist and Shabir Ally. I look forward to the recordings! I will be most interested in listening! It is being sponsored by the Islamic Propagation Center, Ahmed Deedat's organization. I confess I find it a little difficult to see how Shabir fits in very well with Deedat's claims. Shabir would have to admit Deedat made many basic errors of fact and understanding in his commonly viewed and praised talks against Christianity. And I wonder how those folks will handle Shabir's view that Jesus was crucified, but that he didn't die? I was thinking just a few days ago about some of the responses Shabir gave in London in our two debates back in November, and I really wonder how the South African Muslims, raised on a steady diet of Deedat, would respond? Or will Shabir adjust his replies? One thing is for sure, the IPCI will post the talks, so we will be able to find out!
"Tradition" as Viewed by Popular Roman Catholic Apologists... and a Response
06/07/2009 - James SwanIn the written disputes and published propaganda between sixteenth-century Protestants and Roman Catholics, the mass-marketing victory clearly lay in the hands of Rome's detractors. Protestants out-published Rome's apologists winning the popular opinion. Catholic works were unlikely to sell, and therefore not sought out by printers. Rome exasperated the loss by not supporting her apologists in their written endeavors.(1)
Now five hundred years later, current popular Protestant writing produce more self-help tomes, fictional entertainment, and end times forewarnings than theological treatises specific to exposing Roman Catholic error. Roman Catholic writers though have consistently produced popular works specifically geared toward evangelizing Protestants.(2) One need only visit a big-chain bookstore and scan the shelves to notice apologetic works from Roman Catholic authors typically outnumber Protestant works geared toward defending Reformation principles. Producing works distinctively for laymen, Rome's apologists have hammered away specifically at sola fide and sola scriptura. In the popular Catholic convert book, Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic,(3) almost all of those recounting their swim across the Tiber mention that a rejection of sola scriptura was key in their subsequent rejection of sola fide.
Indeed a historical irony, Protestants defending the faith against Rome's popular writers now find themselves in a similar plight as the sixteenth-century Catholic apologist. More often than not, works specifically directed to defending the solas of the Reformation are least likely to find their way to the bookstore shelf, while Rome's champions have thoroughly penetrated the mass market.(4) These Catholic apologetic works have ready and confounding answers to counter the sole authority of Scripture. A Protestant unfamiliar with Catholic authority argumentation can easily be befuddled and silenced quickly.
Papal apologists often have an eager Protestant audience. It is often the draw of Tradition (5) that so intrigues many Protestants. Catholic polemicists offer it as an historical and / or interpretive solution for Protestants lacking any connection to those generations of Christians who came before. Tradition is put forth as that vehicle which connects an evangelical with a two thousand year old historical church. With the acceptance of Tradition, the notion of an historical hierarchical authority finds easier acceptance. With these other authorities standing beside sacred scripture, Catholic apologists seek to establish a basis for promoting a gospel of infused righteousness obtained through faith, sacraments, and works, in essence another gospel (Galatians 2:6-9).
Defusing the Catholic apologetic use of Tradition causes the fall of the entire system. It needs to be exposed as an incoherent authority, fraught with double standards, and unable to meet the qualification of theopneustos (God breathed) revelation. If the scriptures truly are the believers infallible sole rule of faith, it should follow necessarily that any other rule claiming a similar pedigree will be exposed as a counterfeit. Any other infallible rule of faith will not be consistent with either the facts of the Bible or history. If the Bible is the only infallible rule, any other alleged infallible rule will fail as a template to accurately size reality. While Protestants committed to Reformation principles may currently lack a voice in the public market, the first step to reversing this trend is to understand and counter the lynchpin of Catholic argumentation, Tradition.
What is Tradition According to Rome?
The official Roman claims for Tradition are found in statements from the councils of Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II. Trent states the gospel truth and instruction are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions which have been received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the apostles themselves.(6) While Vatican I and II reaffirmed Trent's statements, Vatican II adds,
Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move toward the same goal. Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. Thus it comes about that the Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Hence both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal feelings of devotion and reverence.(7)
These statements, while giving the appearance of clarity, are in actuality the exact opposite, being oft debated by Catholic scholars as to what exactly they imply. There is not a consensus opinion as to the exact content of Tradition, the precise relationship between scripture and Tradition, and exactly how the vehicle of Tradition functions and becomes known by the church. Rome's official statements do not explicitly define whether Tradition is the second of a two-part revelation (known as partim-partim), or if both forms of revelation contain the entirety of God's revealed truth. Does Tradition function as the interpreter of scripture, or is it interpreted by scripture, or do they interpret each other? Is the content of Tradition confirmed by historical scrutiny, or is it an unwritten opinion only confirmed by a movement within the developing church? Vatican II commands Catholics to accept and honor something quite ambiguous. One wonders if individual Catholics attempting devotion and reverence toward Tradition actually have the same or a differing concept in view. While dogmatic statements from official Roman Catholic councils are put forth to clarify truth, their statements on Tradition have done quite the opposite. II.
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Bald is a Hair Color
06/06/2009 - James WhiteThe mp4's of the University of Illinois debate with Dan Barker are being processed, and I was sent a short, 36 second clip or so. I share it here.
Speaking Schedule: New Jersey/New York, June, 2009
06/06/2009 - James WhiteWe have finalized plans for my trip to New Jersey and New York, June 20th through the 29th. I will be speaking twelve times at eight different churches, including the dialogue with Imam Shamsi Ali. I should note that I will also be using my new digital projector, provided by one of God's folks out there from the Ministry Resource list; I will be streaming the dialogue live the evening of June 25th using the EeePc, also from the list, using the external battery and microphone, also from the list (I can even charge my BlackBerry off of that external battery via its USB port--tremendously useful!). I will get there on time, Lord willing, and hopefully a little less rushed, because I will be using my Garmin Nuvi 255W to navigate the New York streets--also from the Ministry Resource list. So once again, to all who have helped in that way, thank you.
I begin my time in New Jersey at Trinity Fellowship Church in Tom's River. Follow the link for directions. At the moment I will be speaking Sunday morning in the regular services, but I will also be speaking Saturday evening, June 20th. I assume the start time is 7pm, but, the website does not currently say, so, double check before you head out. Saturday evening I will be giving my presentation on New Testament reliability. I can honestly say I have never produced a lecture/presentation that has been more widely accepted and appreciated than this one. I really enjoy giving it as well.
After speaking Sunday morning the 21st I will be headed to Trinity Baptist Church in Montville, New Jersey to preach in the Sunday evening service. The service begins at 6pm.
Monday through Wednesday morning I will be speaking in Haledon at the Sovereignty of God Conference. See the banner ad on the main page for details. I believe I speak on Monday and Wednesday, but I do not have those details.
Thursday evening June 25th I will be in Queens for the dialogue with Imam Shamsi Ali at the United Presbyterian Church of Ridgewood, 62-54 60th Place (off of Metropolitan Avenue) at 7pm. Directions: 718-417-9562. Information: 631-991-1226.
The next evening (as if there will be much of me left by now!) I will be poured into the pulpit of the Masspequa Church of God, 890 Hicksville Road (Route 107), Pastor Jim Capo. Now, there are only two other churches in the US, if my memory serves correctly, that have had me preach more times than the Massapequa church: Covenant of Grace Church in St. Charles (where I have spoken the first weekend in December for nine years running, I think), and, of course, PRBC. Hope Reformed Baptist is in the mix somewhere there (see below), but probably not on the Sunday service race. Anyway, I will be speaking on "The Kingship of God: The Christian's Lost Treasure." We will meet at 7pm. If you are coming north on the 107 keep an eye out for a white fence on the right, or you'll drive right past. It is a little easier coming south from the Southern State (do I spend too much time in Long Island or what?).
The next afternoon, June 27th, I will be at the Lynbrook Baptist Church, 225 Earle Avenue (corner of Peninsula Boulevard), at 2pm, "Understanding Islam to the Glory of Christ."
That evening I will be at the West Sayville Reformed Bible Church, 31 Rollstone Avenue (off of Montauk Highway) at 7pm, giving my New Testament Reliability presentation (only time on Long Island).
I will be proving my Reformed Baptist credentials on Sunday the 28th, first speaking at 9:30am and 11am at the Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Merrick (36 Smith Street off of Merrick Avenue), and then I will head East and visit the folks at the Hope Reformed Baptist Church out in Medford, where I will again address Islam, but this time, "The Bible & the Qur'an: Their Messages and History."
Early the next morning someone will pour what is left of me on a plane and ship me back to Phoenix. :-)
The Warning Passages in Hebrews
06/06/2009 - James White
Craig vs. Hitchens at Biola Reviewed on the Dividing Line (Update!)
06/04/2009 - James WhiteI managed to just find enough time to put together a number of clips from the Biola debate a few months ago between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens. Once again, as I explained at the beginning of the program, I have been focusing on this because very few understand the underlying reasons why there is such a major difference in apologetic methodologies. We further see the tremendous impact of compromise with Rome and an abandonment of the gospel as a definitive aspect of what is, and what is not, Christian. It seems "Mere Christianity" becomes a "gospel-less Christianity." Here's the program.
Angelz is back! I just fired up my e-mail and what do I find? Another classic Angelz piece of art! He's been listening to the DL series on William Lane Craig, and I managed to get the creative juices flowing! And here's the resultant masterpiece:
Irenaeus and the Reliability of "Early" Oral Tradition
06/03/2009 - Tur8infanPeople sometimes like to think that if you go back to the earliest fathers you'll get very good accounts of extra-scriptural tradition. There is a certain amount of intuition to back this up. After all, the earliest fathers were closer in time to the gospel accounts than we are.
Intuition is wrong - at least to some extent. One reason it is wrong is that we look at the fathers with a foreshortened perspective. If you've ever looked at a mountain range from a distance and then driven up to it, you know what I'm talking about. From far enough away the mountain range looks like the serrated edge of a knife. From up close, you see that some of the mountains are miles closer or further from you. You also see the same effect when photographers take in urban scenes using a telephoto lens. Things blocks apart can look practically adjacent.
Even so it is with the "Early Church Fathers." Most of the early church fathers are not just decades but centuries removed from the apostles. Even those in the second century were about as far or farther removed (in practical terms) from the gospel accounts than you are from Abraham Lincoln.
Consequently, even as early as the second century there were a number of wildly erroneous traditions trying to take hold with greater or lesser success. Thus, for example, we see Irenaeus (lived and died in the 2nd Century) who declares that Jesus lived to be 50 years old, which today is rejected virtually unanimously.
Of course, Irenaeus also provides testimony that those who are of the Church of Rome today find helpful to their case (they don't much care about the 50 years old claim, but they like some of the other traditions he alleges). Thus, you can see folks like Art Sippo (on the newly re-opened "Speak Your Mind" forum), an apologist who is part of the "Catholic Legate" group making the following claim to try to revitalize Irenaeus:
Jesus was likely 30 or so when he started his ministry. That is close to 50 since the life expectancy of most men at that time was ~45. That age represented a man in his so-called "declining years" since it was all down hill from 30 onwards.(source).
St. Irenaeus was postulating that Jesus as the New Adam had lived out in his body all the ages of man from infancy to adolescence to young manhood to seniority. This recapitulation theory was never picked by other theologians and is of no real importance than as an historical curiosity. The only relevant thing about it is that it emphasizes that Jesus was truly human and not just a phantom.
One wonders whether this is simple ignorance on Sippo's part or a disregard for the truth in the form of a lie to try to support mother Rome. Surely Sippo is aware that Irenaeus doesn't equate 30 and 50, in fact, he specifically distinguishes them:
Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information.(Against Heresies, 2:22:5)
But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad,” they answered Him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?” Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old it would unquestionably be said, “Thou art not yet forty years old.” For those who wished to convict Him of falsehood would certainly not extend the number of His years far beyond the age which they saw He had attained; but they mentioned a period near His real age, whether they had truly ascertained this out of the entry in the public register, or simply made a conjecture from what they observed that He was above forty years old, and that He certainly was not one of only thirty years of age. For it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove Him younger than the times of Abraham. For what they saw, that they also expressed; and He whom they beheld was not a mere phantasm, but an actual being of flesh and blood. He did not then want much of being fifty years old; and, in accordance with that fact, they said to Him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?” He did not therefore preach only for one year, nor did He suffer in the twelfth month of the year.(Against Heresies, 2:22:6)
No, Irenaeus didn't mean that Jesus was thirty which is basically the same thing as fifty - quite to the contrary he made a big fuss over the fact that Jesus had a long ministry of closer to 20 years than 1 year. Sippo's comment about Jesus being flesh and blood rather than a phantasm suggests that Sippo is not ignorant of the context of the quotation - which then would suggest a measure of dishonesty in suggesting that Irenaeus was simply equating 30 and 50.
Incidentally, in the same thread, another poster recommended an article by another apologist for Rome, Mark Bonocore (link). This article has long ago (January 2005) been rebutted (link to rebuttal), and I will not bog down this blog unnecessarily be repeating what has already been said in rebuttal.
The bottom line is that just because Irenaeus declares something to be tradition and is one of the earliest fathers (though not one of the apostolic fathers), it does not mean that Irenaeus got it right. Sometimes (as with Jesus' age) Irenaeus got it horribly wrong. There's another example we can point to as well:
Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops.(Against Heresies 3:3:2)
Yes, Irenaeus thought that the church of Rome was founded and organized by both Peter and Paul. In fact, however, we can know with assurance from Paul's epistle to the Romans that Paul did not found the church at Rome. So, again, Irenaeus - while undoubtedly sincere - was sincerely wrong about what the history of the even more recent event of the founding of the church(es) at Rome was.
That's why we need Scripture to be our rule of faith: not oral tradition (even if it was written down in the second century). Oral tradition is prone to error and Irenaeus is a prominent example of that problem. Scripture on the other hand is the inspired Word of God and has been providentially preserved for us down through the centuries so that we me read and believe it. Don't let the telephoto lens of phrases like "the early church" lead you to erroneous conclusions regarding their historical reliability.
Place your confidence without reservation in one worthy of your whole trust, in God the author of Scripture, not in Irenaeus the mistaken author of Against Heresies or in your church which likewise can err - either sincerely or in a self-serving way. The wise man built his house upon a rock, and you will do well to emulate his example.
The Amazing Ignorance of the US Government Regarding Islam
06/03/2009 - James WhiteI'm behind on the news, I guess, but just read this comment from President Obama:
Now, the flip side is I think that the United States and the West generally, we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam. And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims [sic] Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. And so there's got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples.I'm sorry, but when the "top man" in the nation is this utterly ignorant of the actual geopolitical situation, it is just frightening. The actual number of Muslims in the United States is not known. Muslim advocacy groups inflate the number wildly, up to 6 and 7 million. The most recent Pew Research Center information says 2.3 million. But no matter how you parse the numbers, how can President Obama be so massively misinformed? Even at 7 million, the most inflated number, the Muslim population in the US would not be anywhere near "one of the largest" Muslim populations. And how do you get from even that claim to a "Muslim nation" anyway? Such rhetoric truly makes you wonder about the pre-election talk about Obama's Muslim heritage, it is so wildly out of balance with the truth. The level of understanding of the actual theology of Islam and its relationship to Sharia and practice demonstrated by the large majority of those in positions of governmental authority is truly alarming.
As Goes Europe, So Goes an Obedient, Servile USA
06/03/2009 - James WhiteDr. Tommy Wasserman just posted this on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog:
I am almost too depressed to blog this, but today came an evaluation from the national board of higher education in Sweden (Högskoleverket) who practically announced a frontal assault on theological education in our country. Many institutions (including the three free standing seminaries, and even some of the large faculties like Lund university) were severely criticized for being too focused on Christianity, etc, etc. The board threatens to recommend the government to withdraw the rights to grant degrees, if the institutions do not change a lot of things (our seminary will loose even the right to grant a basic degree in theology, although most of our teachers are PhD's).As the Secular West crumbles in the face of advancing Islam and under its own decaying weight, it will feel less and less inhibited in expressing its inherent detestation of the Gospel, and those who would dare live in its light. Academia is already so deeply committed to the religion of Darwinian Materialism that it does not even pretend objectivity any longer. I have been saying for a number of years now that a major paradigm shift in Christian education is coming. The major, centralized seminaries had better be working on decentralization and identification with local, sound, mature bodies of believers, because the day is coming when Caesar is going to pull the plug on the Pell Grants and other Federal monies that have allowed them to indebt students to the tune of $50 and $60,000.00 for a single graduate degree. That money will be withdrawn if those schools remain faithful to the Scriptures and biblical teaching. If they have not seen the writing on the wall they will either have to capitulate to the State Religion and provide a commensurately mutational "Christianity" that meets Molech's approval, or close their doors and sell off their properties. The wise schools should now be decentralizing, getting "lean" and finding unique ways of utilizing modern technology to do high quality education that does not require bowing and scraping before the governmental altar. The love affair Christian scholarship has had with the world will eventually come to a sudden and bitter end, to be sure. And that is as it should be.
Many have found the whole evaluation process to be very biassed and characterized by prejudism. I don't think I can go into details, but some of the questions that were put to us were remarkable, and the very tone and atmosphere when one committee visited our institution was very unpleasant.
William Lane Craig: False Teachers? Let Me Think: Umm, How About Calvinists?
06/02/2009 - James WhiteI went back to listen to the rest of Dr. Craig's comments on Roman Catholicism at the start of the show. Then we took a call from Patrick who informed me that Craig had answered a question from Hitchens in their debate by pointing to Calvinism as a false teaching. Since I knew "Good Ol' Beau" in California had sent the DVD to our Post Office Box, I mentioned this to Rich. Barry was in the "studio audience," so he ran to the Post Office and grabbed Beau's package and raced back (legally, I'm sure) to the office with it. I threw it in my computer and jumped to the cross-ex period. We actually managed to listen to the relevant portion. Hitchens asked Craig whether he believed any of the world religions could be considered false, and Craig identified Islam as an example of a world religion that is untrue in its central assertions. Hitchens then asked if teaching falsehood was morally wrong, and Craig said it was, so Hitchens closed the loop of his argument by saying that religion (in this case, Islam) was producing a lot of wrong-doing in Craig's opinion, and he agreed. So with his last question, right at the end of the time period, Hitchens asked if there were any Christian denominations Craig regards as "false." Craig replied, "Certainly." Hitchens asked him to identify one. Craig replied, "Ummm...well, I'm not a Calvinist. I think certain tenets of Reformed theology are incorrect." He then said these were intra-mural differences. What utterly amazes me is that he would refuse to identify Rome's massively altered gospel as the most obvious example, but instead would refer to Calvinism! It makes for interesting listening! Here's the program.
Don't forget! We need to move the Thursday DL to the normal Tuesday time slot, 2pm EDT, 11am PDT, as I am teaching Thursday evening at the GGBTS campus in Scottsdale.
Western Culture Collapse Update
06/02/2009 - James White
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 1, 2009
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society....
Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.
My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security....
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
June would be a good month to pray for repentance for all those trapped in sexual deviancy and in all those behaviors which destroy life and mar the image of God. It would be a good month to pray for repentance for the nation, and its leaders, who pander to such soul-destroying behaviors.
All around the world, women are denied their right to free, legal and safe abortions. Even in Europe, women are deprived of the control over their own bodies and the number and spacing of children. It is the everyday reality facing women in Ireland, Poland and Malta.
A cornerstone of the European Union is to work for gender equality and health.Therefore, women who lack the access to free, legal and safe abortions in the EU-countries such as Ireland, Malta and Poland, can no longer be ignored. The governments of these countries must be put under pressure.
It is time for the EU to secure the right to free, safe and legal abortions and render it a human right.
A human right...to murder unborn children. The twistedness of the thinking is stunning, and further evidence of the wrath of God coming upon the Secular West.
Way Late on This...
06/02/2009 - James WhiteThough the file is up, evidently, I'm the only one who can post the DL announcements, and since I left right after the program, and then flew up to Salt Lake, no one posted the DL from last Thursday. My apologies, we really need to get some other folks who can do this so that it doesn't fall through the cracks as it has this time. Especially since last Thursday's program was important. I started playing William Lane Craig's comments on Roman Catholicism. Now, I really do not want to pick on Dr. Craig. He seems like a very nice fellow. But when it comes to illustrating how theology determines apologetics, his theology, which is closer to Rome's than Geneva's by a long shot, provides the foundation of his apologetic method. He provides the clearest counter-example to a thoroughly biblical apologetic out there. Just last night in my class at GGBTS I again contrasted his opening statement in the debate with Frank Zindler with Bahnsen's opening statement, and used that as the launching point for a discussion of Romans 1 and Colossians 1 and a thoroughly Christian epistemology. So to hear WLC saying that the difference between himself and Rome is exactly the same as the difference between himself and a Presbyterian or a Lutheran is very helpful in explaining the results of paddling around in the Tiber River and never truly taking a stand on the definitional aspect of the gospel. We will, in fact, continue that discussion today on the DL. But, finally, last Thursday's program is here.
Ancient Paths TV Show
06/02/2009 - James WhiteWhen I went up to Salt Lake this past weekend I had the opportunity of recording an episode of The Ancient Paths television show, sponsored by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church there in Salt Lake (Christ Presbyterian Church). Though it will air tonight, the episode has already been posted. It is about 57 minutes in length, so be aware of that, but here is a discussion of the reliability of the text of the New Testament in the context of Mormonism.
Dave Hunt: A Man Who Refuses to Be Corrected
06/01/2009 - James WhiteI remember when I first heard Dave Hunt say it. I think it was while he was speaking at a Calvary Chapel somewhere in a Hawaiian shirt and a jacket (oddest combination I've ever seen). Hunt insisted that nowhere in the Bible do we ever see anyone elected, predestined, chosen unto salvation, but only unto service and blessing. I was lifting while listening and I thought to myself, "Wait, hasn't he ever seen 2 Thessalonians 2:13?" So when time came for writing Debating Calvinism, I certainly raised the issue.
Dave Hunt tells us that Ephesians 1 and Romans 8-9 are not about salvation. Christian theologians down through the centuries have believed otherwise, and when you find Paul speaking of "redemption" and "forgiveness of trespasses" (Ephesians 1:7) and justification (Romans 8:30) and "mercy" and "hardening" (Romans 9:18) in those very passages, it is hard to understand how he can make such a statement. That Paul is, in fact, speaking of salvation is plain beyond refutation. Yet, while these central texts on salvation are dismissed by Mr. Hunt, for some reason he cites John 6:70 and the choosing of Judas as relevant. Again Mr. Hunt violates all standard rules of hermeneutics: the choosing of Judas was to apostleship and the role of His betrayer. It was not unto salvation. This has nothing to do, of course, with the passages that speak of election unto salvation. Only by insisting that all uses of the word "choose" have to bear the same meaning, even in different contexts, can Dave Hunt make this kind of error.
Hunt repeatedly asserts that election is never unto salvation, but only to privileges and blessings. This assertion is repeated in his book and in talks he has given over the past few years. Yet, amazingly, despite its obvious centrality to the entirety of his position, Mr. Hunt does not provide an explanation of this text:
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13 NASB)
Paul speaks of God choosing the believers at Thessalonica "from the beginning for salvation." There is a direct refutation of a claim Hunt makes repeatedly. The text shows that the work of the Spirit and our faith in God's truth are the result of that eternal choice. God ordains both the ends and the means, just as Reformed theology has taught all along. No reference is found in the Scripture index of What Love Is This? to 2 Thessalonians 2:13. (Debating Calvinism, 109-110.
So Dave Hunt has been challenged on this issue. Unless he has a very compelling exegetical response to 2 Thessalonians 2:13, at the very least he should stop making the positive claim that in the Bible election and predestination are "never" to salvation, since this is transparently not the case. Does Hunt have such an exegetical response? He most assuredly does not. He did not bother responding at this point in the book, instead moving the discussion to a later point. After slaughtering Acts 13:48 (at least he didn't pull the "Hebrew version of Acts" stunt in our book!) he writes,
Yes, Paul tells the Thessalonians: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thes 2:13). The meaning of “from the beginning”is the question. Paul uses this expression three other times: “Which knew me from the beginning...” (Acts 26:5); “from the beginning of the world...” (Ephesians 3:9); and “in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia... Even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity” (Phil 4:15–16). None of these expressions is related to predestination from eternity past.
“The beginning of the gospel” is associated with Macedonia, of which Thessalonica is a city, perhaps because Paul received a unique call to that region in a vision of “a man... Saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9). Thus from “the beginning of the gospel” in Macedonia, the Thessalonians, as part of that region, were chosen to hear it. Yet their salvation came only by “belief of the truth,” not by Calvinism’s regeneration before believing the gospel. (370-371)
Sadly, Dave Hunt really does believe this is "providing a response." Noting the use of other English phrases that, in their context, have a specific temporal denotation (without showing any evidence that he is even aware of the textual variant as well) is not exegesis, it is excuse making. Is he suggesting that there is a temporal "beginning" in 2 Thessalonians 2:13? Then let him prove it from the text, not simply imply it without providing textual foundation. It is emblematic of Hunt's incapacity to deal meaningfully with the text that he can assume that if the phrase "from the beginning" appears in any one context, it will bear the same meaning in all other contexts! What is worse, he isn't even correct with his list. Limited to the English text, he assumes that every appearance of "from the beginning" represents the same Greek phrase, and it does not. Even taking the reading underlying the translation "from the beginning," the words of Paul in Acts 26:5 are not parallel---in fact, they are completely different. Likewise, Ephesians 3:9 is not even close, again not using the same words at all. And the reference to Philippians 4 uses a different pronoun---again, something Hunt would not know unless he actually checks the original languages. So in reality, despite the fact that the list would be irrelevant on a logical basis, it turns out the list is likewise irrelevant linguistically. Hence the entire first paragraph is a red herring, a waste of typesetting and paper, but a good example of how not to treat the text of Scripture. ...
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