Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Doctrines of Grace in St. Charles This Week
11/30/2009 - James White
For my tenth consecutive year I will be visiting the brethren at the Covenant of Grace Church in St. Charles, Missouri, beginning Thursday evening, 7pm. We have tried, a number of times, to arrange for a debate there, but can't find opponents. So, I will be playing clips from the folks we can't get to debate the subject, and responding to them, providing as close as a "debate" as we can. Join us at 7pm Thursday and Friday, and then 10am Saturday morning. Unlike past years, I won't be able to minister in the Sunday morning service, and I will really miss that! But I will be speaking briefly Sunday morning in the Tampa area, and then out of touch for a week, hopefully getting some writing done (finally!).
11/30/2009 - James White
I am talking to Rich about doing another DL on Wednesday of this week since Thursday is a travel day and I will be out of touch all of next week (i.e., no DLs at all). We would do it at the regular Tuesday time.
I was on Mike Abendroth's "No Compromise Radio" program this past weekend. He rode 180 flat miles last week, and I rode 187 hilly miles. Of course...soon he will be sledding, not riding, so I guess I win! Anyway, just some friendly rider competition there. Here's the program.
Dan Wallace had some really interesting comments about the liberal bias, prejudice---nah, just plain closed-minded bigotry, of the "theological left" (if that is an even semi-accurate term) represented at SBL. You can read his article here.
This is Beautiful
11/28/2009 - James White
Yeah, no intelligent design here. Just random processes over time. Yup. Sure.
Zazzle Sale on Ties
11/26/2009 - James White
I just noticed that Zazzle is having a $9 off tie sale starting right now. Why should you care? Well, some of you have seen the ties I've designed for various debates that have biblical manuscripts or the like on them. For that biblical-geek in your life, might be a great Christmas gift, and $9 off is really good. I was going to add another design, and may still do so, but for the moment, here is what I have posted:
create & buy custom products at Zazzle
John MacArthur on the Manhattan Declaration.
11/24/2009 - James White
Well, it's nice to have company on this. :-)
The Manhattan Declaration
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009
(By John MacArthur)
Here are the main reasons I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration, even though a few men whom I love and respect have already affixed their names to it:
• Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. At one point the statement rightly acknowledges, “It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season”—and then adds an encouraging wish: “May God help us not to fail in that duty.” Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.
• This is precisely where the document fails most egregiously. It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct “communities.” Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as “historic lines of ecclesial differences” rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity.
• Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims. The document repeatedly employs expressions like “we [and] our fellow believers”; “As Christians, we . . .”; and “we claim the heritage of . . . Christians.” That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.
• The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light. Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.
• This is neither a novel approach nor a strategic stand for evangelicals to take. It ought to be clear to all that the agenda behind the recent flurry of proclamations and moral pronouncements we’ve seen promoting ecumenical co-belligerence is the viewpoint Charles Colson has been championing for more than two decades. (It is not without significance that his name is nearly always at the head of the list of drafters when these statements are issued.) He explained his agenda in his 1994 book The Body, in which he argued that the only truly essential doctrines of authentic Christian truth are those spelled out in the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. I responded to that argument at length in Reckless Faith. I stand by what I wrote then.
In short, support for The Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue. That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time. Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals.
On True Unity
11/24/2009 - James White
I was directed to some comments made regarding the concept of unity and Rome's constant attack upon the Scriptures and the doctrine of sola scriptura. Someone had made mention of my home church, which is partly what drew my attention. A comment was left by Joey, who said,
Your comparison is not well structured. First, you are comparing a single “organization”, i.e. the Roman Catholic Church, with “Protestantism” in claiming that the Catholic Church is more unified in doctrine. I think this is a false comparison since “protestantism” is not a single “organization”. In my opinion, the more accurate comparison is that of “Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church” against the “Roman Catholic Church”. If we allow comparing apples to apples, you will notice that unity in doctrine and teaching that doctrine to its catechumen in the “Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church“ is no different from the unity claimed by the “Roman Catholic Church”. In fact, there are more churches that are more united in their beliefs and stance than the RC Church. What I mean is that, if we look at the individual members of a particular church and asked them their beliefs, we will get a more united stance. However, ask Roman Catholic members and you will get a more diverse stance or understanding of a particular doctrine. The point is that, the problem of disunity within the Roman Catholic Church can be seen outright when individual members are examined.
This comment clearly reflects points I have made in the past, as well as Eric Svendsen and many others. I would only change the specific local body (PRBC) to Reformed Baptists in general, across the US and the world. I know those folks pretty well, having preached in their midst in the US, the UK, Italy, Brazil, and now Australia. A Roman Catholic, however, took umbrage:
Joey – you are treating Protestantism’s fragmentation and lack of unity as a strength and Catholicism’s institutional unity as a weakness. Because the First (second, or third) Reformed Baptist Church of Phoenix has repeatedly schismed from other Protestants until it formed itself into a small homogeneous group, is it then comparable to the universal Church in terms of unity? Far from it. The Catholic Church was not formed out of schism, and it is not a country club of homogeneous Christian saints, but rather a universal hospital for all of the sinners of the world. Yet in spite of this Catholic mission, she retains her unity and hierarchical structure.
I'm afraid Tim has missed the point, one that would have been a little clearer had my suggested emendation been included in the original statement. As I watch Nancy Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, promoting homosexuality and abortion as the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, I ask myself a question: what would a Reformed Baptist Church do if she claimed membership? And I can answer that one easily. The first time she promoted such godlessness the elders would have met with her and sought to bring correction. If she refused to repent, she would have been excommunicated. Period. Yes, that's why the world thinks we are so narrow minded, just like it thinks Paul was narrow minded and the Jesus of the New Testament was narrow minded. That is to be expected. But all Nancy Pelosi, or the Kennedys, or any of the rest of the Roman Catholic abortion promoters in politics have to do is go on down the road a ways to find a good liberal bishop who will assure them that all they need to do is keep dropping something in the plate and all will be well.
It is an indisputable fact that Reformed Baptists worldwide are far, far, FAR more united in doctrine, practice, piety and worldview, than Roman Catholics are. In fact, it is an indisputable fact that Reformed Baptists and Orthodox Presbyterians, for an example, are far, far more united in doctrine, practice, piety and worldview, than Roman Catholics are. Now how can this be, given the constant mantra that sola scriptura is the blueprint for anarchy? How could our common commitment to the Scriptures result in such unity in the gospel, such unity in worldview? Yet, we find a massively wide range of views expressed under the banner of Roman Catholicism, and, it seems, Rome lacks the spine, the simple intestinal fortitude, to do almost anything about it. It is very hard to give much credence to Rome's oft made claims of unity and infallibility when you know what is being taught at Boston College or any number of other such places, and how it is light years away from the confident assertions being broadcast over Catholic Answers Live. So how is it that our focus upon the Scriptures produces unity, while Rome's focus upon her traditions, her "living magisterium," etc., produces Nancy Pelosi, the Society of Pius V, Boston College, Gerry Matatics, and Catholics for Choice?
Golfer Kermit Zarley is Servetus "the Evangelical"?
11/18/2009 - James White
Steve Noel wrote this morning and identified former professional golfer Kermit Zarley as Servetus the Evangelical. A brief look at his website seems to confirm this, as he has written a few religiously oriented books, and, more importantly, says the following:
North Park University's gregarious New Testament professor, accomplished golfer, and my close friend--Dr. Scot McKnight--a well published author himself, is the director of the Kermit Zarley Lecture Series.
I had been told from the start that Scot McKnight knew the identity of this man (shame on him!). Further, in talking about his "next book," Zarley says, "But my next book after that will be a double eagle! Stay tuned." More like a triple bogey, but let's not go overboard on the golf imagery.
Evidently, if you look over the "clues" Zarley posted, they all fit, including having the same birthday as Miguel Servetus. I have not gone through the entire list, but I would assume the book endorsement by a well known evangelical would be McKnight. [Update: it was actually Billy Graham, according to the back cover of his book on Amazon]. Also, some had traced his e-mail ISP to Scottsdale, Arizona, and wikipedia indicates he lives in Scottsdale.
So, there you go. A retired professional golfer with an interest in religion has dug up all the old liberal arguments against the deity of Christ that have been popular in the dead and dying "mainstream" Protestant denominations for over a century now. Woohoo! I'm sure some of my Muslim friends are really disappointed, since, obviously, this is about as major a non-event as you could imagine. We now return you to your regularly scheduled meaningful life!
Responding to Zakir Naik on the Deen Show, Pt. 2.
11/15/2009 - James White
A Major Ministry Resource Opportunity
11/10/2009 - James White
Last Saturday evening those in attendance at the dialogue in Queens know that I asked a number of direct questions of Imam Sayeed relating to Surah 4:157. One of the reasons I did so was because I knew there were Muslims in the audience who take a different view of the text, and I wanted to illustrate that simply taking the Qur'an as the final authority without recognizing that it is not mubinun, "clear" or "perspicuous," on so many points (and this is one of the most vital assertions it makes, in denying the atonement of Christ!) leads to irrationality. I was able to pursue that line of inquiry because I have confidence in the study I have done of the text of the Qur'an at this point, thanks to those who have helped provide the opportunity of studying Arabic, and have provided the often expensive and difficult to obtain resources that are part of A&O's library through the Ministry Resource List.
I am placing an item on the ministry resource list today that would truly add to the depth and breadth of a very important aspect of the library. Nothing sells today like Gnosticism. Atheists and secularists join with a wide range of Muslim apologists in utilizing any claim they can dig up from the Gnostic sources, and especially from Nag Hammadi, to promote their attacks upon the New Testament and the Christian faith in general. So when I saw a sale today that extends only till the end of the year on the 5,148 page authoritative Coptic Gnostic Library, which contains the complete texts of all of the Nag Hammadi codices, I was ecstatic. How often these very texts are cited, yet, one almost never has access to the original languages so as to check for editorial bias or to examine context. How vital that is in examining any other ancient text, and yet these oft-cited sources are almost always presented only in English translation in the flood of books that have come out promoting Gnosticism over the past few decades. This resource is normally tremendously expensive, listing just over $700.00. But till the end of the year, with a special discount code, it is obtainable for 50% off that price, which, given the rarity of the original language material, is actually reasonable for once! I have included the code in the description on the Ministry Resource List. There is another item on the list as well that is quite important, a resource that would provide the original language texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls along with textual variants! Once again, my deepest personal thanks to all who have helped our work in this important manner in the past.
Many Thanks to TurretinFan and Steve Hayes
11/08/2009 - James White
When I landed in NY on Friday evening I found that TurretinFan and Steve Hayes had both responded to our Thursday DL caller, Wes. Steve responded here, and TurretinFan added some comments here. As you saw, TurretinFan had already linked to a rather extensive discussion he had posted a few years ago on the Grounding Objection here. I am thankful for both men's contributions.
Quick Report from Long Island
11/08/2009 - James White
Greetings from Westbury, Long Island. I managed to get the first half of last night's debate up this morning, and now that I am finished with my Lord's Day duties, I'm compressing the next portion of the debate. My camera died before the end of the debate, so I had to use my little Casio for the last few minutes, and once I start the upload of Part 2, I'll get to that portion. It will not be very long so I should have it posted by the morning.
Had a great day preaching at Lynnbrook Baptist Church this morning, and Grace Reformed Baptist this evening. I spoke on Islam at Lynnbrook, and my sermon topic at GRBC was "What is an Abomination in God's Sight." How very sad to have to constantly be thinking of how our society is losing its liberties and how so many wish to stifle free speech in the name of a totalitarian, secular political correctness that is nothing less than Orwellian in nature.
This trip has been a technological disaster! I forgot the main camera I needed to bring. I even forgot the window mount device for my GPS (the nice fellow at Hertz gave me one---he had a whole box of 'em left behind by customers!). And in the ultimate example of absent mindedness, I even forgot my debate timer (I never do that). Then, when I got to the debate last night, the zipper on my bag completely failed, and we had to literally rip it open to get my materials out! For someone who is normally pretty well organized, well...it's been interesting. I picked up a new bag today, though, that looks quite promising. It has two pockets you can get to from the outside that I can use for my digital projector and the small streaming PC, so it will help in the wonderful task of getting through TSA screening.
Pray for a video interview Tuesday evening, and for my presentation on the reliability of the New Testament at New Hyde Park Baptist Church on Wednesday. I'm hoping some of my Muslim friends I met Saturday evening will come out for that presentation. I am also planning on doing the DL at the regular time on Tuesday, continuing with Geisler's sermon.
Gheens Lectures - Stephen J. Nichols
11/05/2009 - Jeff DownsIt is always neat to see one of your professors from Bible College "making it big." :) In this case, Stephen Nichols, professor at Lancaster Bible College spoke at this years Gheens Lectures (Nov. 3). Speaking of Al Mohler, Jr., the Gheens Lectures are held on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Here are topics Nichols addressed (click here to listen or watch):
"Bearing the Image of the Creator: Theology and Beauty"
"Bearing the Image of the Redeemer: Theology and Incarnation"
"Proclaiming the Image: Theology and Preaching"
In the third lecture, Nichols mentions what would be a good bumper sticker. He almost has it right, when he says "Theology Happens (see here).
Stephen J. Nichols is the author of many good books included The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World.
I mentioned this before, but James White and Stephen Nichols spoke together back in 1994. Here are the two lectures from Dr. Nichols. One of these days, I'll post five the lectures from Dr. White.
The Smartest Southern Baptist Alive and Other Stuff
11/04/2009 - James White
That's what I was thinking this morning as I rode and listened to Dr. Albert Mohler's radio program on my iPod. If you have not subscribed to his podcast, take my advice and sign up. Few people can express Christian worldview issues like he can. Of course, he's also much more polished and urbane than I am. We end up saying the same things, but he uses a surgeon's knife, and I use a baseball bat. Well, OK, I'm exaggerating, but I really do appreciate the fact that Dr. Mohler does not seem to sleep. He is on top of things like few others, so I encourage you to take advantage of this great gift to the people of God.
Also, if you have not added www.choosinghats.com to your RSS feeds, I'd like to recommend it to you.
Please pray for traveling mercies to New York, and of course, health! Everyone is talking about the flu, and that is the last thing I'd like to pick up on my flight. The Lord has been most gracious to me with all the traveling I've been doing of late.
A Word for our Friends
11/04/2009 - James White
I wish to once again thank everyone who over the past year has used the Ministry Resource List to bless this work. Few things have been as encouraging as that list. Two brothers even sought out my personal list, which again makes me realize how our work has reached to folks we could never imagine blessing. In any case, I wanted to note that a couple of items, while they have been removed from the list, have never arrived. If you go the list you can choose a pull down menu that switches from "unpurchased" to "purchased." When I receive an item I remove it from the "purchased" list so that you can tell when your item arrives. There are a few items still on that list that were removed from the unpurchased side more than a month ago, so I am concerned that maybe they were lost in shipping, sent to the wrong address, etc.
Again, thanks to all who have helped us pursue apologetics to the glory of God through this means!
Where Do I Get That Tie?
11/04/2009 - James WhiteAs I've been traveling about I've been asked a number of times, "Where do I get your ties?" I've designed a few ties, some based upon ancient manuscripts, some from my fractal art, that I've worn in some of my debates, etc. I've posted this before, but we have a lot of new folks, so, here is the link to my Zazzle ties:
11/02/2009 - James White
And time to remember all the hard work Carla Rolfe has done in putting together "A&O Gear" for us. Below is a banner with just some of what she's done, which you can follow to her store. Share the message this season with some of Carla's great designs.