Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Servetus the Cowardly "Scholar" Continues Playing Games
10/22/2009 - James White
There are few things more disgusting to me than unwillingness to be honest and forthright in your faith. If you believe X, then confess X, and don't be ashamed of X. So when I was directed today to an "interview" that "Servetus the Evangelical" did recently about his apostasy and self-promotion, I was almost made ill by the fact that they used electronic means to mask his voice! Amazing, just amazing. Whoever this fellow is, one thing is for sure: he has a credibility rating of absolute zero, and has now begun digging downward into the negative numbers. Once again, if there is, in fact, anyone in the "evangelical" community who knows the identity of this apostate who is seeking to convince others to follow him in his denial of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, I implore you by all that is good and decent, expose this man for the sake of the fellowship of faith.
Evangelical Atheists and the Gospel
10/21/2009 - Colin SmithIt seems the Fundamentalist Atheists are at it again. According to this news story, they are planning a campaign to plaster pro-atheist ads around New York subway stations. I'm not objecting to them doing this; it is, after all, their Constitutional right to exercise free speech. However, I think it is instructive to observe the Christian message (sure, they don't say they are counter-Christian, but let's not be fooled) they are seeking to address. According to the article, the posters say "A million New Yorkers are good without God." How many times have you heard Christian evangelists tout the benefits of becoming a Christian? "Jesus will make you happy, give you peace, restore your marriage, give you a healthy bank account, etc. etc." Perhaps you have found yourself pleading the same case with an unbeliever. The fact of the matter is that there are many happy, healthy, rich, atheists with good marriages that are contributing members of society. The problem is, this message of peace and prosperity is not the gospel. Sure, with Christ as Lord of your life, you might find peace, happiness, and other physical benefits. But this message would not have gone down very well in the first few centuries of the Christian church, when believers often found themselves persecuted, beaten, and humiliated for their faith. Faith in Christ often meant a loss of worldly privileges. Jesus Himself even promised persecutions to those that follow him (Mark 10:28-30); He even said that following Him would stir family rivalry (Matthew 10:34-35). Becoming a Christian is not a favor we do for God. Salvation is not an option on your health benefits. It is something that we must do if we are to have the only peace that really counts: peace with God. Yes, you can be happy, healthy, and prosperous as an atheist; but you will continue to be an enemy of God, which will profit you nothing in the end (Matthew 16:26).
I found it interesting that the group sponsoring the ads calls itself "the Big Apple Coalition of Reason." How many atheists have stopped to consider what reason is? Where did reason come from? How is it man can reason? This is not a skill we learn; and there are certainly no other animals on earth that are able to reason as man is able to. The glaringly obvious answer, which atheists (for obvious reasons) ignore, is that reason is a gift of God. As creatures made in His image, we have the capacity to think, to draw conclusions, and to express opinions founded on rationally-derived information. It is ironic, therefore, that a group founded to promote the denial of God would use in its name one of the strongest evidences of His existence.
Update on "Apologetics Without Gospel Unity" Conference
10/21/2009 - James White
Sorry, but that seems to be the way to identify it. I noted last night the 2009 National Conference on Apologetics, and how the one thing clearly not open for discussion would be...the Gospel. Why? Because Rome's gospel, evidently, is to be viewed as "acceptable" by those heading up the conference, since they are inviting Roman Catholics to speak and debate (not be debated). I asked last night how this works, since it of necessity dismisses the Gospel as being central to the apologetic task (let alone definitional of how you go about doing apologetics!). Well, Frank Beckwith, who is surely definitional of one who promotes the "Mere Christianity" model, just noted on his blog:
What a wonderful example of Christians working together to offer a reason for the hope that lies within us! I am talking about the upcoming apologetics conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, the 2009 National Conference on Christian Apologetics. Participants include many of my friends, including Protestants Gregory P. Koukl, William Lane Craig, Gary R. Habermas, and Hank Hanegraaff as well as Catholics Benjamin Wiker, Peter Kreeft, and Dinesh D'Souza.
Well, add Benjamin Wiker to the list of Roman Catholics speaking at the Conference. Think with me for a moment: "Christians working together to offer a reason for the hope that lies within us" must mean that a constituent part of the hope that is within us is not the Gospel, since we do not share a common Gospel. Or do we? I would have to ask those who will be speaking at the conference, including some I respect as sound apologists, do you share the same hope as Peter Kreeft? Dinesh D'Souza? Or am I the last odd-ball left who thinks Christianity without the Gospel is an empty religious system?UPDATE: I am aware that some of the "good guys" at this conference may have committed to speaking without knowing that the leadership would go ecumenical on them and completely change the character of the conference from what it has been in the past. I see Chuck Colson's fingerprints on this, to be sure. For those in that position I truly hope that they will openly state their opposition to Rome's gospel, Rome's denial of Scriptural sufficiency, etc., and do what they can to alleviate the confusion that will surely be the result of the actions of the leadership who has put this thing together.
More not Less Church as the Day of the Lord Approaches
10/21/2009 - Tur8infanOne of the questions that Mr. Arnzen asked Mr. Harold Camping, during the four-day discussion on Iron Sharpens Iron between Dr. James White and Mr. Harold Camping, was about whether the listeners of Family Radio have their own gatherings. Mr. Camping indicated that, aside from a small group in Almeda, California (where Mr. Camping resides), he does not encourage his listeners to gather together. As we will see below, this practice of abandoning the fellowship and communion of the saints is not only contrary to the historic creeds of the church, but also (and much more importantly) contrary to Scripture itself. In the current post we will see this shown from Hebrews 10:23-25. ...
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I Guess That's My Answer
10/16/2009 - James White
Greetings from Great Falls, Montana! I really wish the wind was whipping and it was like 20 degrees, but alas, it is a gorgeous day in the 60s. Oh well!
So while traveling yesterday I started a little firestorm by asking a simple question: why does Ergun Caner claim to be a leading apologetic figure when he doesn't do apologetics? More to the point, if you make particular claims about what you have done in the field, shouldn't you be willing to back up what you claim about yourself? Seems pretty obvious to me, and I'd think everyone in the Christian community would agree that there needs to be some level of transparency on the part of folks in leadership, and whether you like it or not, Caner is the President of Liberty Seminary. I'm sorry folks don't like it, but when you claim to head up a program of "Global Apologetics," seek to get folks to study under you, etc., then you should be able to back up your self-promoting claims, should you not?
Folks, over the years I have gotten myself into a lot of trouble by seeking to be consistent. It would be easy to play the "everything is wrong on your side of the fence, but nothing is wrong on mine" game. Lots of people do it, and that is how you "get along." I could have ignored Dave Hunt's ignorance of Reformed theology and gotten a lot more invitations to churches as a result. I could have ignored Norm Geisler's Chosen but Free, and I could have ignored Chuck Smith's attacks just recently, too. But when I stand in front of a group of Muslims, or Catholics, or whoever, I want to have a clean conscience. If I say to a Catholic debater, "You are wrong because of your inconsistent exegesis of the text, and here is why," I don't want him to be able to come back, "Yeah, well what about all the folks on your side of things who do the same things? Why don't you ever point that out?" I do point that out, which is why I am rarely invited to the "Big Circuit" of conferences and get-togethers.
So when I first responded to Dr. Caner on "Reformation" of doctrine vs. "Revolution" in soul winning, I was simply addressing an important problem in synergistic evangelicalism today (and Caner, if he's anything, is a synergist). But when I saw his own self-promotion on his website, I simply had to ask a basic question: where's the proof? And when I asked Dr. Caner directly via Twitter, things went silent. Then I found out why. When you ask him to show you all these debates, in forty states, eleven countries, with leaders of all these religions (especially Muslims), this is what you get in response:
Given that the last tweet shown here, "Pray for bitter Christians but do NOT get infected by them. Remember: Mules cannot kick & pull at the same time" was the first one posted after my questioning of him, some have assumed that is all the answer I will get, and that, together with the action he took to block my following his tweets, would seem to indicate that this is the case.
Which leaves us with Dr. Caner's claims. I was just directed to a newspaper article on Caner in which it is reported that he claims to have done 61 debates with Muslims (this was in early 2006). That is very impressive. Since Dr. Caner will not answer the question for some odd reason, could the Muslims who have debated Dr. Caner contact me and provide me with details as to how I can obtain these debates? I know a large portion of the currently active Islamic apologists in the US, and not a one of them has ever mentioned debating Ergun Caner. In fact, I could not help but chuckle this morning as I watched a video link that was sent to me wherein Dr. Caner was giving his testimony as a former Muslim (who converted, it seems as a young teenager). The person who created the video was not fair to Dr. Caner, that is for certain. But, he did point out numerous mistakes in Caner's presentation (including confusing the opening lines of Surah Al-Fatiha with the Shahada), and right at the end Caner referred to one of "our leaders," Shabir Ally, "before he died." Shabir Ally isn't dead---if he is, someone is writing e-mails in his name since I've been in correspondence with him over the past month. Clearly, Caner was confusing Shabir Ally with Ahmed Deedat.
Now, the fact remains that Ergun Caner claims to have done many, many debates--at least 61 with Muslims alone--but when asked to provide any of these debates, what do we get? A smattering of "interviews" (none of which were with Muslims), and a few folks insisting that "debate" is a very vague word anyway, so that maybe he is just including every discussion he has ever had with a Muslim (if that is so, who goes around keeping track of exactly how many times they said "Howdy" to a Muslim?).
So why should anyone care about this? Well, let me tell you why I care. I labor in this field. I invest my life in apologetics, and I am working very hard to be a good student of Islam, and a good representative of the Christian faith to Muslims. So I have to be consistent. If there is someone running about the apologetic landscape making claims about his activities that simply do not stand scrutiny, then someone needs to speak up about it. The things that Ergun Caner says in his interviews and videos are often intended to create outrage. Speaking of "towel heads" and using the other kind of mocking language he does is hardly helpful. But here's the simple conclusion of it all: I have no reason to believe Ergun Caner has ever engaged in a formal, meaningful debate with any leading Islamic apologists, and I'll be perfectly honest with you: I hope he doesn't. I do not believe it would be beneficial. But at least I can look a Muslim in the eye and honestly say, "I have called for Dr. Caner to be open and above board about his actual history in debating your representatives, and he has flatly turned my requests for information on that topic down. I do not believe anyone should claim to have done such things when they cannot back up their claims, or when they have to so alter the meanings of words that every conversation they have ever had on a plane somewhere becomes a debate."
So, for all those who think that I'm a terrible, horrible, mean, nasty man for daring to challenge Ergun Caner to back up his own PR, you go right ahead and think that way. I happen to believe that it is far more important to be transparently honest in seeking to give a sound, consistent reason for the hope that is within us to the Muslim people than it is to cover over a professing Christian's as yet unsubstantiated claims.
Obama & Gommorah: Our President's pledge to Homosexual Activists to Bring the US closer to Sodom
10/13/2009 - James Swan.
MP3 Available Here
James R. White, founder & director of Alpha & Omega Ministries, a theologically Reformed Christian apologetics ministry based in Phoenix, AZ, will address the theme: "Obama & Gommorah: Our President's pledge to Homosexual Activists to Bring the US closer to Sodom".
Today, Dr. White will air clips from Barack Obama's Saturday speech to the Human Rights Campaign, a radical group promoting super rights based upon sexual behavior, and will then provide a biblical, Christian response to each clip. Dr. White shares here the one line that, as he listened to the speech on Saturday evening, caused him to stop the recording and roll it back to make sure he heard it correctly. And though it has gotten next to no commentary (Dr. Mohler likewise saw it as the most important statement), it is without a doubt the most important part of the speech:
"You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman..." (Applause.) --- President Barack Obama, October 10, 2009
To which Dr. White responds:
"The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men." (Psalm 12:8, God)
10/11/2009 - James WhiteI was directed to an amazingly arrogant, yet, "What do you expect from Northern European academics these days?" article, found here, that illustrates one of the problems we have in our modern day due to the Internet. In the "olden days," academics (a term that could, in some contexts, refer to someone with trained insights and disciplined study, but today generally means a liberal who lacks both meaningful insight as well as any and all discipline) would come up with some kind of new theory, publish it, and unless it was truly ground-breaking, solid, and meaningful, it would be shredded by the rest of those in the field. However (and this is key), that process always took time. The history of the academy is one of disproven, shredded, abandoned theories and ideas, with only a very few surviving (ostensibly, the truth). That is as it should be. But "back then" those theories and ideas that had not yet been thoroughly examined did not become the stuff of blogs and websites, YouTube and Twitter. And that is the problem.
This particular woman's theory (one which opts for ignoring the context of the Bible and instead importing the context of pagan religious documents of the time) is absurd on its face, at least as it has been reported (one must always leave open the possibility that the press is utterly clueless, though, her own quotations seem to be unambiguous). However, you will see it being repeated as solid, "academically proven" truth by many. Fifty years from now no one may even remember the woman or her theory, as a hundred others will have come along since then, and, in the slowly moving field of academia, various papers will have been published demonstrating the absurdity of the position (the process has already begun). But in the meantime, those looking for reasons to disbelieve will trumpet the "scholarly consensus" that the Bible does not proclaim God as the Creator, when, in fact, no such "scholarly consensus" exists.
One other thing. Note that our liberal professor has an incredibly high view of herself: "The traditional view of God the Creator is untenable now." What kind of hubris does one have to possess to come along at the beginning of the 21st century and decide that everyone else before you just didn't get it, and that your insights are so grand, so sweeping, that you can make such statements? Answer? The 21st century secular liberal, for whom there is no such thing as humility, let alone balance.
Two Quick Apologetic Tips on the Trinity
10/07/2009 - Alan KurschnerThe two most frequent objections to the Trinity can be illuminated with two simple, but effective, illustrations.
First, "How can there be three and one at the same time"? This question conflates two categories into one. But Christians understand that there are two categories involved. There is one "What" (Being/Deity) and three "Who's" (Persons/Father-Son-Holy Spirit).
Here is the best illustration that I think brings out this fundamental difference in these two categories that unbelievers can immediately relate to: There is only one humanity (Being) but many individuals (persons). Individuals share in the Being of humanity, and that does not mean that I am you, and you are me — we are different persons with the same single Being.
This illustration is not intended to exhaust or explain all the elements of the Trinity; instead, it serves to illustrate this single categorical difference between Being and persons. Someone may object by saying, "Does not this analogy support polytheism, since there are billions of individuals, there can be billions of Gods or divine persons?" Let me be clear: this illustration is intended to show a single distinction between two categories — Being and persons; the point is not intended to show how many persons there are. Only Scripture can provide us this latter truth.
Next, believers are often not as aware of this second most frequent assumption that unbelievers have about the Trinity. But if you are aware of this deep assumption by those who deny the deity of Christ, you can disarm them, aiding them to the vista of Trinitarianism.
Memorize and internalize the following Trinitarian truth:
Difference in function does not indicate inferiority of nature.That is James White's statement and it will go a very long way in your Trinitarian apologetics.
There is a built-in assumption for many that if Jesus has a lesser role than the Father, he must therefore have a lesser nature. This is an illogical inference. Those who oppose the deity of Christ point to Jesus' submissive remarks about doing the will of his Father. For example, Jesus says, "the Father is greater than I am." They infer from this that Jesus does not share the same nature with the Father (this ignores that the context is talking about their relational roles, not their nature, John 14). Jesus also calls the Father, "My God." Yet those who oppose the deity of Christ ignore that this is a humble acknowledgment of the Incarnate Jesus, modeling for us humility and submissiveness (John 20:17). This exalting affirmation is exactly what we would expect from the Son of God.
Similarly, since Jesus is the agent of the Father in many respects such as the Creation, therefore Jesus cannot be fully God. And regarding the Spirit, they will make the similar false assumption: Since the Spirit is sent by the Father, the Spirit cannot have the same divine nature as the Father. Again, they will look at these statements and make the fallacious leap that difference in function indicates inferiority of nature.
By doing so, they also deny the freedom of the Divine persons to choose their roles. Or to put it another way: they assume that to be truly God, the Son and the Spirit must have the exact same roles as the Father. Do not allow them to accept this assumption. Probe them to ensure they see this point.
So a simple, but effective, illustration will show that difference in function does not indicate inferiority of nature: A husband and wife will have different roles in a marriage. Wives are to take on the submissive role, but this does not indicate that difference in function requires inferiority of nature. Does the wife have a lesser nature than that of the husband? Of course not. They both are fully human.
I hope these two simple illustrations will be staples when you come across these frequent assumptions. The former illustration depicts the difference between Being and persons; the latter illustration depicts the difference between Being and functions.
Let's praise God for the Incarnation, which itself presupposes a submissive role that brought about our salvation. We do not worship a unipersonal-Unitarian God, but instead a complementary-Trinitarian God.
The Truth About Justin Martyr's Argument in the First Apology
10/04/2009 - James WhiteI fully expected Dan Barker to use (or, I should say, misuse), the quotation from Justin Martyr's First Apology, and so I had invested a fair amount of time reviewing the material prior to our debate. In fact, in the video below, watch my face during Mr. Barker's opening statement when he mentions Justin. That is the smile of "Another prediction comes true." In fact, either in the #prosapologian chat channel, or maybe even on the DL, I specifically said, "I have a feeling Barker is going to try to go a different direction than he did in his book." Not that you can mind-read such things, and hence must, if you are to be an honest scholar, respond to someone's published arguments, but I just had that feeling. But I fully expected Justin to make an appearance, and since the debate was not the place to go over the entire presentation, I provide the background material here that substantiates the claims I made in the debate. I hope this will assist Christians in rebutting this common (and false) claim, found so often in popular (but equally shallow) atheistic writings.