Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Athanasius Contra Michuta #2
05/29/2010 - James SwanI recently posted Athanasius Contra Michuta #1. That entry led to the following e-mail question: "I was reading Athanasius on the canon and I noticed he included Esther in the apocryphal category but Esther is part of canonical Scripture. Can you briefly comment on this?"
Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta likewise brings out this point in Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007) along with mentioning Athanasius includes Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah in the canon. Mr. Michuta quotes the Thirty-ninth Festal letter canon list and then comments,
Protestant apologists focus on the fact that twenty-two books are described as having been canonized; making up, as they would argue, an exhaustive list since Athanasius seems to insist that "in these [books] alone, the Christian doctrine is taught." The great fourth century champion, therefore has been shown to have accepted the Protestant canon, and consigned everything outside that canon to the category of human apocrypha. This argument errs on a number of points.
Most obviously, the books Athansius listed as "canonical" do not correspond to the Protestant canon; he places the book of Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah among the 'canon,' but deliberately omits the book of Esther from the list and places it among those that are read. This canon, in fact, is unique to Athanasius himself; no other writer uses it and all other Christians canons, then and now, differ from it"[Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007), pp. 108-109. Emphasis in the original].
First, Jewish history shows the Old Testament was counted as either twenty-two or twenty-four books. Josephus states, "For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books" [Against Apion 1.8]. Athanasius likewise is aware of this tradition: "There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews..." [NPNF2 Vol.4, Athanasius, Letter 39.2-7]. Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, Epiphanius and Amphilochius, as well as other ancient voices likewise concur with this tradition. So when Protestants focus on a twenty-two book canon, they do so as the result of historical inquiry. We don't argue that Athansius presents an infallible exhaustive list, but that he's aware the Hebrew canon was limited to a particular number, and that number is different than that canonized by Trent. The canon presented by Athanasius is far closer in semblance to that found in Protestant Bibles. Athanasius leaves out the bulk of the apocrypha.
Second, Michuta states Athanasius "places the book of Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah among the canon." This wording is deliberately ambiguous. Athanasius states "then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle" as part of his Old Testament list. For Athanasius, Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah were included as additional material to Jeremiah (he probably also included the apocryphal additional material added to Daniel). He did not consider them separate books. Did he do so to try and sneak apocryphal material into the Bible? No he mistakenly thought these were part of the actual book of Jeremiah. Why was this the case? William Webster points out that it appears there was an expansion of the Hebrew canon, but involving no addition to the number of the books in the East during the fourth century. He states:
It should be noted though, that following the Septuagint, many [Eastern fathers] included Septuagint 1 Esdras with Ezra-Nehemiah, the Epistle of Jeremiah and Baruch with Jeremiah and Bel and the Dragon, The Song of the Three Children and Susanna as additions to the book of Daniel [William Webster, Holy Scripture The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Volume II, (Battle Ground: Christian Resources, 2001) p.340].
Roger Beckwith states:
The other two additions to the Greek text of Daniel besides the Song of the Three Holy Children, namely, Susanna and Bel & the Dragon, are more self-contained and usually carry their own subtitles. They were probably once independent. Indeed, the latter addition, in the original Septuagint, even begins by naming a source, 'From the prophecy of Habakkuk the son of Joshua, of the tribe of Levi' suggesting that it may have originated in an apocryphal work under the name of Habakkuk. Nevertheless, in the Septuagint version the two additions have become a thirteenth and fourteenth chapter of Daniel, while in the other Greek version used in the early church they form a first and last chapter. As the Jewish translator responsible for this latter version, Theodotion, included them in the revision of the Septuagint which is what his translation was, although he apparently omitted the independent apocryphal books, they had probably already been appended to Greek Daniel in the Jewish period. It is therefore not surprising that Irenaeus can quote Susanna with the expression 'Those words which come from Daniel the 'Prophet' (Against Heresies 4.26.3), or that Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 1.21, or 1.123.3f.) and Tertullian (On Idolatry 17-18, On Fasting 7) can pass straight from the events of the earlier part of Daniel to those of Bel and the Dragon, as belonging to the same historical sequence. Hippolytus, likewise, in his Commentary on Daniel, expounds Susanna as the opening part of the book, and at least makes reference to Bel & the Dragon, though without actually expounding it (Commentary 2.26). Even the Syrian expositor Polychronius, who declines to expound the Song of the Three, includes in his Commentary on Daniel an exposition of Bel & the Dragon, as its final item. In the Syriac Bible, known to Polychronius, Susanna often gets separated from Daniel and Bel, but in the Greek and Old Latin Bibles, and among most of the Fathers who use them, both these additions are treated as if they were part of the text of Daniel, without the canonical question being raised. And even when it is first raised, by Julius Africanus in his Letter to Origen, he receives an answer which prevents it being raised again until the end of the fourth century.
(viii) Just as apocryphal items were appended (or prefixed) to LXX Daniel, so the same was done to LXX Jeremiah. Here there was also a canonical appendix, Lamentations, which in the Greek Bible is preceded by Baruch and followed by the Epistle of Jeremy, while in the Latin Bible it is followed by Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy combined in one, in the form in which they stand in the English Apocrypha. There is reason to think that, as in the case of Daniel, the Septuagint appendices had at least begun to be added in the Jewish period; and, as in the case of Daniel once more, this was presumably done for the same purposes of edification as motivated the midrashic expansions included in some books of the Septuagint within their text. We consequently find early Greek Fathers regarding Baruch as part of Jeremiah, and frequently quoting it under Jeremiah?s own name, and early Latin Fathers doing the same. So here again it is less a question of canonicity that confronts us than a question of the text. What has happened is that edifying additions have been made to the translated text of Jeremiah, as to that of Daniel, which do not really pretend to the same authority, but are bound before long to be treated as if they did, by readers unacquainted with the original. [Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), pp. 340-342].
But what about Esther? Why did Athanasius leave it out of his twenty-two book list? Well to apply Gary's Michuta's own logic, the book of Esther is canonical because Athanasius cites from it "in a manner commensurate with sacred scripture," and Athanasius confessed that his canonical list is in itself not completely accurate. I don't accept either of Michuta's answers, but it does show the reasoning employed by Mr. Michuta backfires. He wants it both ways. He wants to argue that the list from Athanasius describes all of divine Scripture with minor distinctions, but against Protestants he wants to argue Esther was left out of the sacred canon.
I'm not aware of any further clarification from Athanasius on Esther. It's common knowledge that the book of Esther was considered antilegomena: a book previously disputed but ultimately considered canonical. Therefore, that Athanasius didn't include it in his primary canon list isn't such a stretch. The book of Esther is simply proving that there were in fact those who doubted its canonicty, both within Judaism and the church. In other words, Esther is living up to its pedigree of antilegomena. It could be Athanasius was simply following Melito. Melito does not mention Esther or classify it as apocrypha (Some speculate he may have actually left it out by mistake because one way of counting his list only adds up to twenty-one books). The Greek version of Esther includes 107 verses that is classified as apocrypha. Perhaps this factored into the decision of Athanasius. Without any explicit statements from Athanasius, one can only speculate.
Athanasius Contra Michuta #1
05/27/2010 - James SwanRecently I engaged in a brief conversation with a Catholic Answers participant. The apocrypha, the canon, and the view of Athanasius came up. He stated,
Neither Jerome (see Michuta, p. 148-152, and chapter 4), nor Athanasius, are clear opponents of the Deuterocanon. Both of them, especially Athanasius, cited books of the Deuterocanon as Scripture, a detail that supports the pro-Deuterocanon position.-snip-
I'm also glad you think Michuta's book is the best on the subject so far. I would agree, no doubt for different reasons than you, but all the same.
He's referring to Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta's book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007). As to my opinion that this is the best book on the apocrypha thus far, here is what I actually said. I was actually criticizing an argument put forth by Mr. Michuta. In regard to Gary's book, I find it a worthy effort from a Roman Catholic layman. That is, he attempted to cover information in detail (whereas most of his fellow apologists provide only a few pages). Other than that, I've written various articles negatively critiquing the information from the book. Those articles are on my own blog and here on aomin. I have no personal gripe against Gary. The few interactions we've had have been cordial. I disagree with the perspective expressed in his book, not him personally.
The comments from my opponent about Athanasius and his reliance on Mr. Michuta's book are worth looking at. The page references cited above (148-152, chapter 4) are in regard to Jerome. Michuta treats Athanasius in chapter 3, pp. 107-113. The argument from my Catholic Answers friend is that Athanasius is not a clear opponent of the apocrypha because he cited passages from the apocrypha throughout his writings. Michuta though argues more forcefully. Michuta argues on page 113 we can be sure Athanasius accepted the apocrypha because he cited from them "in a manner commensurate with sacred scripture." He further states "The best proof" is that Athanasius cites from the apocrypha just like he cites from non-disputed Biblical books. In fact, Michuta shows that Athanasius cites from both categories in the same writing, not distinguishing canon from apocrypha.
This may seem like a powerful argument at first glance. In fact, Roman Catholic apologists attempt this same line of argumentation on the Bible. Any allusion to an apocryphal book is said to be proof that the divine writers considered the apocrypha to be sacred scripture. This of course doesn't logically follow. Jude quotes from Enoch, yet that book is not considered sacred scripture. Paul quoted Greek literature, yet we don't consider that literature sacred scripture.
As a historical argument it also fails. Martin Luther clearly rejected the apocrypha but likewise quoted from it. He would quote passages from the Bible along with the apocrypha, sometimes in the same section. Simply because Luther rejected the divine canonicity of the apocrypha didn't mean he thought it had no value. Luther says of the apocrypha, "These books are not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read."
A helpful historical insight from J. N. D. Kelly could equally apply to this argument:
Jerome's conversion to 'the Hebrew verity' [i.e. in contrast to the LXX] carried with it an important corollary - his acceptance also of the Hebrew canon, or list of books properly belonging to the Old Testament. Since the early Church had read its Old Testament in Greek, it had taken over without question the so-called Alexandrian canon used in the Greek-speaking Jewish communities outside Palestine. This had included those books (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, etc.) which are variously described as deutero-canonical or as the Apocrypha. Around the end of the first century, however, official Judaism had formally excluded these, limiting the canon to the books which figure in English Bibles as the Old Testament proper. Since Origen's time it had been recognised that there was a distinction between the Jewish canon and the list acknowledged by Christians, but most writers preferred to place the popular and widely used deutero-canonical books in a special category (e.g. calling them 'ecclesiastical') rather than to discard them. Jerome now takes a much firmer line. After enumerating the 'twenty-two' (or perhaps twenty-four) books recognised by the Jews, he decrees that any books outside this list must be reckoned 'apocryphal': 'They are not in the canon.' Elsewhere, while admitting that the Church reads books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus which are strictly uncanonical, he insists on their being used solely 'for edifying the people, not for the corroboration of ecclesiastical'. This was the attitude which, with temporary concessions for tactical or other reasons, he was to maintain for the rest of his life - in theory at any rate, for in practice he continued to cite them as if they were Scripture. Again what chiefly moved him was the embarrassment he felt at having to argue with Jews on the basis of books which they rejected or even (e.g. the stories of Susanna, or of Bel and the Dragon) found frankly ridiculous. [J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), pp. 160-161].
But what settles the actual view of Athanasius is exactly what Athanasius clearly says about the extent of the canon: ...
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"Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise"
05/23/2010 - James SwanThe closest thing in the United States to a self-appointed infallible magisterium is Catholic Answers. They stand atop the Roman Catholic apologetics food chain claiming to be "one of the nation's largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization." One need only search available public records to verify this claim. If you want to know what the papacy means, you need only visit Catholic Answers for their interpretation... or maybe not.
Recently Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis made his own assessment of organizations like Catholic Answers: "They have a very light, or possibly sanitized, portrayal of Catholicism, looking to avoid as much controversy as possible" and they are "somewhat milquetoast when it comes to dealing with the more controversial and significant problems occurring in the Church and in the world. " He laments, "My assessment is that they either don't know where the real battles are or they know and choose to ignore them, and have more or less settled into a politically-correct apologetic. Except for the abortion issue, I really don't find much of a clarion call from them" [source].
Mr. Sungenis heads Catholic Apologetics International, which "stands on the forefront of Catholic Apologetics, explaining Catholicism to fellow Catholics and defending it against her opponents." In the same article, Sungenis makes a telling admission: "Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise." Indeed it is. Catholic Answers claims to be the preeminent apostolate for solid information [source]. Catholic Apologetics International though has "the help and intercession of our new patron saint, St. Robert Bellarmine, and in communion with the other great Apologists of our Faith" with the information they provide. That's a tough choice. On the one hand, one could follow the interpretations of the preeminent apostolate for solid information, or one could rely on an organization being helped by St. Robert Bellarmine.
Perhaps though one doesn't need to make such a choice. What's interesting about the criticisms from Mr. Sungenis above is they were placed between positive comments. Sungenis begins by saying,
Let me start with the state of Catholic apologetics today. Overall, I think it is good, at least compared to what it was about 25 years ago when Catholic apologetics was practically non-existent. But I think it could be much better today if we all banded together and used each other gifts and talents instead of competing with one another.
He concludes by saying,
We each have our gifts, strengths and focus. I think God is using us all, but I think He would like to see us all get along much better than we have, and that is what all three groups need to pray for.
These are interesting concessions from Mr. Sungenis, particularly since CAI has questioned the credibility of Catholic Answers throughout the years. Previous to the last presidential election, Catholic Answers heavily pushed their voting guide pamphlet. CAI says of it,
we were deeply concerned about some of its final conclusions. We believe some of these conclusions to be not only dubious in and of themselves, but an assault on the individual Catholic's conscience and the Church's collective power to reform society as a whole [source].
These are but a few of the criticisms of CA from CAI. The confusion and quarrels between Roman Catholic organizations is precisely as articulated by Sungenis: Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise. We'll continue to see Roman Catholic apologists quarrel among themselves and contradict each other precisely because they make up their own rules. For all their talk of Protestantism being anarchy, they hide the fact that they typically do whatever they want to because their organizations and endeavours are not defined by the very magisterium they claim to speak for.
The Unofficial Roman Catholic Apologist Guide to Church History #1
05/07/2010 - James SwanIt's been quite a while since I've done a blog entry for the Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary on the Bible (these entries can be found here). I'd like to branch out in a different direction and take a look at Roman Catholic historical interpretation. Remember their motto: "to be deep in history is to cease being Protestant." Let's see if this claim is true, or if it's just that: merely a claim.
Recently on Catholic Answers Fr. Sebastian Walshe addressed the topic Can Doctrine Develop? In this short mp3 clip, Fr. Walshe explains that previous to Trent's infallible declaration, there was uncertainty about which books were canonical. This admission diffuses one very popular Romanist argument. They claim that without their infallible declaration, one cannot know which books are Scripture. Yet generations previous to Trent believed they had God's word. Even those believers previous to the birth of Christ had and knew the Old Testament, this despite having an infallible magisterium. Is it therefore necessary for a church to be infallible and declare an infallible canonical list in order for one to know what God's Word is? Not at all. History shows the canon does not demand or require an infallible determiner in order to function in the church among God's people.
But the real point of historical interest in the clip from Fr. Walshe is his discussion of the Apocrypha. Walshe admits there was indeed controversy in the church as to its status. Anyone wishing to survey the historical record will see that the case against Rome's canon in history is a strong one. It simply isn't the case that the church accepted these books early on and that Luther removed them.
Walshe also says that Thomas Aquinas was not certain if the books of Maccabees should be considered part of canonical Scripture. That is, Aquinas didn't know one way or the other if the books of Maccabees were part of the canon because the church had yet to determine the status of these books.
On the other hand, Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta argues the canon always included the Apocrypha and the church did accept them. In fact, early ecumenical councils didn't have to declare the contents of the canon because there was no need to [Gary Michuta, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007) p.162]. The change in attitude toward the Apocrypha is discerned in Protestantism, not Roman Catholicism (p. 306). Michuta says that in the writings of Aquinas,
"First Maccabees is included among other citations from the Old Testament without qualification. Based on 2 Maccabees, St. Thomas responds to difficulties as to whether suffrages can be made for the damned... These are examples taken only from one book of Thomas Aquinas. Suffice it to say, St. Thomas accepted the Dueterocanon as Scripture in its fullest sense" [Gary Michuta, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007) p.215].
So here we find two very different explanations of church history from two men who have both been guests on Catholic Answers.
Karl Keating on Canon Certainty From Local Church Councils
05/03/2010 - James SwanHere's an interesting tidbit from Karl Keating's book Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Fransisco: Ignatius Press, 1988). Chapter two is dedicated to exposing the errors of Lorraine Boettner's book on Roman Catholicism.
Keating documents Boettner's error of attributing the forbidding of the Bible to laymen by the Council of Valencia in 1229. Keating points out this is historically inaccurate. It would be impossible for a council to have occurred at this location at this period in history. Keating does though go the extra mile: he suggests a council which may actually be the source for Boettner's claim.
Keating notes a council was held in Toulouse France in 1229. Keating specifically notes it was not an ecumenical council (p.45). He then goes on to describe the situation which prompted this council to restrict the use of the Bible. He notes, "Their action was a local one" and it "is hardly the across-the-board prohibition of the Bible" Boettner mentioned (pp. 45-46). Problem solved: Boettner confused a local decree with an ecumenical decree binding on the church for all ages. Case closed.
But not so fast- If one skips a bit further down page 46, one finds Mr. Keating correcting Boettner's position that the Roman church added the apocrypha to the Bible in 1546. Keating states,
The fact is that the Council of Trent did not add to the Bible what Protestants call the apocryphal books. Instead, the Reformers dropped from the Bible books that had been in common use for centuries. The Council of Trent convened to reaffirm Catholic doctrines and to revitalize the Church, proclaimed that these books always had belonged to the Bible and had to remain in it. After all, it was the Catholic Church, in the fourth century, that officially decided which books composed the canon of the Bible and which did not. The Council of Trent came on the scene about twelve centuries later and merely restated the ancient position (pp. 46-47).Keating states "it was the Catholic Church, in the fourth century, that officially decided which books composed the canon of the Bible and which did not." Now if Keating is referring to the councils of Hippo and Carthage, they were provincial councils which did not have ecumenical authority. There's also the Esdras problem. Hippo and Carthage include a book as canonical that Trent later passed over in silence. So, if Keating has these councils in mind, why is it these local councils were binding on decreeing the canon, while just a few paragraphs earlier, Keating explains local councils aren't binding on the church for all time?
I'll go the extra mile for Keating like he did for Boettner. Maybe Keating has the Council of Rome with Pope Damasus in mind. A few years back I read the following from a Roman Catholic blogger:
"It was at the Council of Rome in 382 that St. Pope Damasus decreed the final canon of Scripture. Often, it is said that the Council of Trent codified the canon of Scripture after the reformation, but the evidence points to this early council as the when the canon was finalized. The Council of Trent reiterated the canon in a response to the reformer's revision of the historic canon" [source].
The canon as allegedly defined by Damasus includes the apocryphal books, so it's important for Roman Catholics that the statement from this early Pope be used as historical proof for the Bible they claim their church has infallibly defined. Upon closer scrutiny, the distinct position held by the Roman Catholic writer above on the canon is not consistent, nor does the historical record provide any certainty for the beliefs espoused above. The historical record is important in Roman Catholicism, because the claim made by the current batch of Roman Catholic apologists is that Rome provides certainty.
Roman Catholics are supposed to believe conciliar statements which bind all Christians are those put forth by ecumenical councils. The Catholic Encyclopedia points out: "Ecumenical councils are those to which the bishops, and others entitled to vote, are convoked from the whole world under the presidency of the pope or his legates, and the decrees of which, having received papal confirmation, bind all Christians." Was the Council of Rome an ecumenical council? No it was not. It was a local council. Were the decrees issues by this council then infallible binding pronouncements for the universal church? No. The Catholic Encyclopedia states also, "only the decisions of ecumenical councils and the ex cathedra teaching of the pope have been treated as strictly definitive in the canonical sense, and the function of the magisterium ordinarium has been concerned with the effective promulgation and maintenance of what has been formally defined by the magisterium solemne or may be legitimately deduced from its definitions." So, in terms of the Council of Rome being a binding council for all, it was not. Here we find that whatever was said at the Council of Rome cannot bind all Christians. Whatever was said at the Council of Rome can provide no certainty for a Roman Catholic. Hence, it cannot be true, in a consistent Roman Catholic paradigm, that the Council of Rome infallibly decreed the final Canon.
But the Pope was at the Council of Rome, was he not? Doesn't this mean what he said at this local council binds the universal church? In the decree on the Canon, Damasus is reported as saying:
"The holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other Churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Here we can infer that the statement on the canon issued by Damasus is infallible because the Roman Church and Pope speak infallibly. But here is a rarely cited fact by the defenders of Rome. The statement above, and indeed, the entire statement from Damasus listing the canonical books, probably didn't come from Damasus. F.F. Bruce notes,
"What is commonly called the Gelasian decree on books which are to be received and not received takes its name from Pope Gelasius (492-496). It gives a list of biblical books as they appeared in the Vulgate, with the Apocrypha interspersed among the others. In some manuscripts, indeed, it is attributed to Pope Damasus, as though it had been promulgated by him at the Council of Rome in 382. But actually it appears to have been a private compilation drawn up somewhere in Italy in the early sixth century" [F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1988), p. 97).
So this statement from Damasus didn't actually come from Damasus. In fact, as far as I know, there isn't a written formal record of the proceedings at the Council of Rome to have certainty exactly what was said or decreed. Much historical speculation then surrounds the decree of the canon by Damasus. The bottom line though, is that Roman Catholics cannot have any certainty on the accuracy of this statement. Of course, they are free to believe it, but they do so on faith, not on historical verification. Thus to be deep in history, is not to be certain that the Roman Catholic Church infallibly defined the Canon in 382.
To make it even a bit more complicated, Tim Staples (who works for Karl Keating as a staff apologist for Catholic Answers) says the canon was dogmatically closed in 1442. Here's a quick mp3 clip from Dr. White on the Bible Answer Man show with Catholic apologist Tim Staples:
Staples dogmatically closes the canon in 1442, while Dr. White says Rome closed it in 1546. Anyone interested in this entire discussion can purchase the mp3 here for a few bucks.
Ah, what a tangled web they weave.
Thank You Eric Svendsen for NTRMin.org
05/01/2010 - James SwanI was contacted recently by a person who couldn't access my Reformation papers on Eric Svendsen's Ntrmin.org website. It appears Ntrmin.org has vanished. Ntrmin was one of the best sites for countering Roman Catholic apologetics. Dr. Svendsen graciously hosted some of my longer papers on Martin Luther and the Reformation, as well as providing numerous helpful articles on Roman Catholicism.
The Ntrmin website was around for many years. It also hosted a discussion forum called The Areopagus. It was there I became acquainted with Dr. Svendsen's work, as well as that of Jason Engwer (now of the Triablogue clan), and Pastor David King (author of Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith volume 1). I also met a number of other people, many of which I'm still in contact with today. This was all due to the Ntrmin website.
Dr. Eric Svendsen has authored of a number of books of Roman Catholicism. I highly recommend the following:
Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2002)
Who is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2001)
Evangelical Answers: A Critique of Current Roman Catholic Apologists (Lindenhurst, NY: Reformation Press, 1999)
He's also been a guest on the Iron Sharpens Iron program discussing these books (free mp3 downloads here).
I'm not sure what Eric's plans are in regard to his website. Perhaps he's decided to move on, or perhaps he's rebuilding it. Either way, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Svendsen for the Ntrmin.org website. I've used it often during the years, and I'm grateful for all the work he put into it. It was one of the first sites that I found directly responding to the newer breed of Roman Catholic apologists. If he's decided to take the website down, it will indeed be missed.