Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Shouldn't You Be Eating Chocolate?
12/30/2009 - Tur8infanThe always-creative adherent to the papacy, Mark Shea, seems to think that I (TurretinFan) am not much fun at parties because I spent part of Christmas 2009 in service to my Lord, demonstrating that the rule of faith of Aquinas is different from the rule of faith of Rome today (Aquinas and Formal Sufficiency & Aquinas and the Rule of Faith) while others were out, in Shea's words, "opening presents, eating too much chocolate, singing and generally making merry" (link to Shea's article). ...
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Of Mary, there is never enough.
12/29/2009 - Tur8infanThe title of this post is the concluding line of this article from Arturo Vasquez (link to article). In the following post, we explain that in fact there can be enough and more than enough of Mary. ...
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My Response to Pastor Walsh on the Manhattan Declaration
12/25/2009 - James White
Robert George and Natural Theology
12/21/2009 - James WhitePhil Johnson wrote a great blog article that goes hand-in-hand with my preceding discussion of the consistency and (as a result) supremacy of biblical revelation and truth. It focuses upon the primary writer of the Manhattan Declaration, Robert George, a Roman Catholic philosopher and leading conservative political thinker. Read Phil's article, and follow his links. I wanted to provide one particular quotation here, as it is quite relevant to the very criticisms I and others have leveled against the document.
I asked George several times if he was really hoping to ground a mass movement in abstract principles of reason so at odds with the prevailing culture. It was a bet, he said, on his conviction about the innate human gift for reason. Still, he said, if there was one critique of his work that worried him, it was the charge that he puts too much faith in the power of reason, overlooking what Christians describe as original sin and what secular pessimists call history.
It is a debate at least as old as the Reformation, when Martin Luther broke with the Catholic Church and insisted that reason was so corrupted that faith in the divine was humanity’s only hope of salvation. (Until relatively recently, contemporary evangelicals routinely leveled the same charge at modern Catholics.) “This is a serious issue, and if I am wrong, this is where I am wrong,” George acknowledges.
Over lunch last month at the Princeton faculty club, George noted that many evangelicals had signed the Manhattan Declaration despite the traditional Protestant skepticism about the corruption of human reason. “I sold my view about reason!” he declared. He was especially pleased that, by signing onto the text, so many Catholic bishops had endorsed his new natural-law argument about marriage. “It really is the top leadership of the American church,” he said.
“Obviously, I am gratified that view appears to have attracted a very strong following among the bishops,” he went on. “I just hope I am right. If they are going to buy my arguments, I don’t want to mislead the whole church.”
I wonder what my brothers who signed the document think of George's claim that they bought into his views about reason, especially since this is a direct refutation of the biblical view of the supremacy of divine revelation and the corruption of human reason through sin? This surely explains the absence of biblical teaching, the wrath of God, etc. I'm sure "Robby" George (as those who know him refer to him) is a really bright guy, and probably as nice as the day is long. I hear Arius had a killer smile and could carry a great tune, too. None of that changes the fact that Robert George promotes a gospel that does not give peace, and a philosophy that, unlike the biblical gospel, cannot ever change a God-hater into a God-lover.
Birthday Ride, 2009
12/18/2009 - James WhiteFive years ago now I decided to celebrate my birthday by riding up South Mountain three times. The goal was simple enough: climb 100 ft in ascent for every year of my age. So, today I did that for the fifth time. Obviously, as the years have passed, each effort gets a little harder, partly due to the simple rules of mathematics, partly due to the aging of my legs. But I am thankful for the health that has allowed me to pursue this goal each year. Today I climbed 4739 ft. over the course of 42.1 miles. And yes, my legs are tired.
Over the course of the over 3.5 hours I listened primarily to two series of talks I had downloaded from iTunesU. If you have not discovered all the valuable information available from iTunesU, I encourage you to take a look at what is offered there. I listened first to three presentations made by Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, speaking at Covenant College in Georgia. (You can find these by going to the chapel services for Covenant College in the iTunesU area of the iTunes store). His second presentation was particularly compelling, and made me again desire to produce long-lasting, helpful resources for the persecuted church.
The second series of lectures came from Dr. Albert Mohler in the chapel services of the Dallas Theological Seminary. I had listened to a very much shortened version of this presentation, which, eventually, became Dr. Mohler's book, Atheism Remix, an excellent introduction to the New Atheism. The background information Dr. Mohler provides relating to the key authors (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Harris) as well as the information on the cultural shift that has catapulted them into prominence is very useful and necessary as we face a hardening form of secularism in our own nation.
So after I got back and got cleaned up I was working through my RSS feeds and came across a blog entry by Patrick Madrid. Yesterday Rich Pierce had mentioned to me that a Catholic radio station was coming on line in the Phoenix area. I found that only moderately interesting. If I wanted to listen to most of the interesting programs on such stations, I could have been doing so all along on line. James Swan kindly sends me clips from CA Live and other such programs fairly regularly, and, of course, we review them on the Dividing Line (something I note the pop apologists for Rome do not do---that would require them to update their arguments and research!). In any case, I have listened briefly to such stations when traveling (there was one up in the Mill Valley area when I was teaching a class at GGBTS) and found them horrifically boring in general. You can only listen to so many repetitive prayers and discussions about Mary. In any case, Madrid provided the following commentary:
24/7 Catholic radio is now beaming across metro Phoenix and beyond thanks to the newest station to come on line in the ever-expanding Immaculate Heart Radio network. This follows the recent launch of another powerhouse Catholic radio station in Salt Lake City, which is now broadcasting 24/7 Catholic programming across the great State of Utah.Evidently "bumptious" was Word of the Day recently. It fits Patrick's on-going effort to continue living on the reputation of being an apologist who seems reluctant to engage in a lot of apologetics. Remember, Patrick likes to claim he wiped the floor with me in our two previous debates, and he is the author of the infamous "White Man's Burden" article (and editor of the magazine that did the anonymous hit-piece based upon a footnote that never gave the reader the means of actually reading the original article they were criticizing, a true low in yellow theological journalism). Over the past couple of years we have gone through both debates bit by bit, demonstrating that once again the Roman position cannot be successfully defended without engaging in circular and fallacious reasoning. In any case, Patrick has been regularly referring to me (though rarely by name, that would violate his standards) as a "pop apologist," and now he's added "bumptious" to the list, a term which means "self-assertive or proud to an irritating degree."
If I remember correctly, a couple of the more bumptious Protestant pop-apologists live in Phoenix. So it warms my heart to know that they will now be able to enjoy listening to Catholic preachers, apologists, and commentators such as Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, Tim, Staples, Father Corapi and, of course, the ever-popular "Catholic Answers Live" show, practically any time they want, in the air-conditioned comfort of their cars, homes, and offices. Or even when riding a bike! I've heard that well-equipped bike shops carry portable AM radios to help thoroughly furnish cycling enthusiasts
First, aside from Tim Staples coming on my program next month to do a discussion on 1 Corinthians 3, it has become next to impossible to get any of those Patrick listed above, including himself, to debate any longer. Remember, I was challenged to debate first by Catholic Answers, an organization which, at the time, had as its Vice President, one Patrick Madrid. Their hesitance to accept debate challenges over the past number of years seems very odd in light of their repeatedly claiming to have cleaned my clock. If that is the case, I wonder why they wouldn't like to continue that process of cleaning, publicly? I think those who have seriously examined those debates know the reason for their hesitance. And in particular, I wonder why Patrick has not been looking for an opportunity to clarify my confusions on so many issues relating to the Marian dogmas, Papal Infallibility, purgatory, the priesthood, the Mass, etc. I stand ready to debate these issues. In fact, maybe Patrick would like to arrange a debate on, say, the priesthood and the Mass at his Envoy Institute? In front of his own students, perhaps? It would seem to me that to claim to have been victorious in his two preceding debates with me, while refusing to engage in the refutation of his points that has been provided in the years since then, is, well, downright bumptious, don't you think?
Secondly, I wonder at Patrick's use of "pop apologist." What is Patrick? I don't want to seem unkind, but let's be honest: Patrick's books have been acknowledged by other Roman Catholic apologists as surface level treatises that barely get past the "compile a bunch of articles from Envoy and call them a book" stage. I have not personally seen any serious scholarship coming from his pen. What is more, I wonder if the range of topics I address in lecture, debate, and teaching, is not significantly wider than anything Patrick has ever attempted, wouldn't this make him even more of a "pop" apologist than I would be? Has Patrick taken on Crossan, Borg, Ehrman, Barker, Ally? Upon any serious consideration, it would seem that there is a real possibility of sour grapes here as the motivating factor in Patrick's language.
Finally, for those who have not listened to the 1993 debate with Patrick (yes, coming up on seventeen years ago), you can not only obtain the mp3 from us, but the transcript has been on line for years, and I went through the errors in Patrick's attempted rebuttal on the DL in a series of programs, starting in the summer of 2008 and concluding in October of 2008. In fact, here's a video clip from one of those programs:
12/17/2009 - Tur8infanSteve Hays (and our own Alan Kurschner) have already pointed out a Roman Catholic Psalter to Mary (link to Steve Hays' post)(link to Alan Kurschner's post)(link to "psalter"). I'm not sure the depth of the blasphemy involved is fully appreciated by most readers. In the following post, I will give both some high level information as well as a specific example, so that it can be seen just how idolatrous this "Psalter" is. ...
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Mark Shea on Making the Gospel Irrelevant
12/15/2009 - James White
In the midst of the needed and meaningful discussions prompted by the Manhattan Declaration, and especially due to the light it has cast upon the degradation of a commitment to the gospel as the means of changing hearts and minds in our world today, it is educational to listen to Roman Catholic apologist and writer Mark Shea demonstrate true ecumenism in response to RC Sproul's concern over the gospel:
Of course, not everybody signs off on this. RC Sproul, for instance, goes on living in the 16th Century's passion for diagrammatic Calvinism by declaring that he will not engage in practical acts of love if this do not comport with his favorite theological schematic:
The Roman Catholic Church has a long history of using studied ambiguity in order to win over opponents. Let me be unambiguous: Without a clear understanding of sola fide and the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, you do not have the gospel or gospel unity (1 Cor. 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:21).
Cuz, as Jesus clearly says, "Enter into the kingdom which my Father has prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was threatened with abortion and you held firm to a clear understanding of sola fide and the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and did nothing to stop it."
Yes, you read that correctly. Unless you rely upon numbers and politics and Rome, you are "doing nothing" to stop abortion. What utter hubris, but then again, this is Mark Shea, so that is to be expected.
CATHOLICS DON'T WORSHIP MARY!
12/15/2009 - Alan KurschnerKeep in mind, in reading this, that Catholics DON'T WORSHIP MARY! I repeat, Catholics DON'T WORSHIP MARY! Catholics are not idolatrous!
(ht: Steve Hays)
The Economics of Roman Catholic Apologetics
12/04/2009 - James SwanRoman Catholic apologetics has come a long way. In 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. Roman 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. But times have changed. Now, there's an entire landscape of Roman Catholic apologetics to choose from. Unfortunately, with so many Roman Catholic apologetics organizations, these economic tough times have put a strain on donations.
Maybe you've heard Dr. White mention if you get on the Catholic Answers mailing list, you'll be bombarded with spam support requests. I learned first hand this is entirely true. I bought a product from Catholic Answers a few months back, and they've been spamming me for support ever since. Sometimes I get the same support request e-mail a few days in a row.
Here's an excerpt from the desk of Karl Keating sent last month:
"As you know, Catholic Answers is the largest apologetics organization in North America."
"If you could make a monthly pledge right now, we would be even more secure as we meet the needs of millions of Americans who, as I mentioned earlier, are starving for the Catholic faith more than ever before. Click here to make your pledge or send your donation."
I didn't realize that in the age of the Internet, satellite TV, and mass media publications via the big chain bookstore in town, people were starving for information about the Roman Catholic Church. Why not just go to the official Vatican website? Here you can get Rome's official answers, and not the interpretations of those answers by the largest apologetics organization in North America. And besides, for free I've got the Internet insights of a host of Roman Catholic apologists bookmarked in my favorites.
America isn't starving for information about anything. We're a culture over-stuffed with enough information that's only a mouse click away. It's like saying the obese family that regularly goes to the all-you-can-eat restaurant can't find any food. Perhaps one could argue the all-you-can-eat stuff isn't good food, so we need Catholic Answers to serve the gourmet feast of information. If that's so, then all those Catholic websites I've bookmarked are.... not healthy food.
Yesterday I received another e-mail from the desk of Karl Keating. This time, Karl let me know again about how important Catholic Answers is. Roman Catholics like Keating don't claim "I'm okay, and you're okay." If you're a Protestant, you're not okay. Keating explains:
"As you and I know, only the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth as revealed by God. Other faith communities have some of the truth. And some have more than others. But when it comes to having everything that God has revealed to man and how he wants man to worship him only the Catholic Church can make that claim."
"The fact is that, for anyone who wants to follow Christ fully and keep his commandments exactly as he instructed us, the Catholic Church is the answer. The only answer. That's why Catholic Answers has become much more than just an apologetics organization."
For those of you who think ecumenically that there isn't much difference between Protestants and Roman Catholics and we should just get along to fight bigger battles, read again what Keating is saying. Rome isn't giving away anything. They think you need Rome. This isn't going to change any time soon. If you give an inch, they are not going to give you anything back in return.
Here's some other economic pleas from Rome's defenders.
Catholic apologist John Martignoni only wants 10 cents a day:
"If just 1 in 10 of you will respond to this email, I could cut out one or two of my part-time jobs (I currently work 5), hire some full-time help, and invest in some equipment which would drastically increase our evangelization efforts by drastically increasing the amount of apologetics materials we can develop."
"I don't know of any other organization that reaches so many people with the truths of the Catholic Faith on such a small budget, nor one that raises money the way we do- asking for such a small amount, only through email, and only twice a year. I hope those facts, along with the results of the work we do, will be enough to persuade you to support our mission- to spread the truths of the Catholic Faith and to save souls for Christ and His Bride, the Church."
Of course, the oddest plea for support comes from Mr. Armstrong. To send Dave a 100% tax-deductible donation, you have to send the donation to John Martignoni. Martignoni then forwards the money to Armstrong. Well, this might be worth it, because contrary to the work of Catholic Answers, Armstrong states:
"I think it is accurate to say that I offer the most wide-ranging, comprehensive selection of Catholic apologetics available online (for free: no one pays a cent to read my blog), in addition to my books. It's been literally a constant labor of love for over twelve years now, since I began my website in early 1997."
If you're itching to send DA some $$, you can send it directly to him via Paypal. But keep in mind his website states in all caps, "DONATIONS THROUGH PAYPAL (NOT TAX-DEDUCTIBLE)". So to send him the 100% tax deductable donation, make sure it gets filtered first through Mr. Martignoni.
Gerry Matatics also needs some support, because unlike Catholic Answers, Gerry defends real Catholicism:
"I don't believe anyone else in the entire country does quite what I do full-time, traveling and speaking about real Catholicism and exposing counterfeit catholicism, and does it as much, and yet as inexpensively, as I do. I'm hoping I can interest one hundred recipients of this letter in each sending a sacrificial $100 donation, thus enabling me to raise the $10,000 (100 donors x $100 each) that I need to continue and complete my megatour this fall."
I think there's an easy solution to which Roman Catholic apologists Roman Catholics should support. If the Vatican would issue an official list of which apologists were worthy of donations, this would clear things up. Now, you may think I'm kidding, but keep in mind, Rome has time to come up with an official list of movies Roman Catholics should watch. Consider Keating's words above, and you tell me what should be important: an official list of recommended movies, or an official list of apologists?