Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The White-Ferrara Marian Debate - Some Follow-Up
08/30/2010 - Tur8infanOn Saturday, August 28, 2010, Dr. James White debated Mr. Christopher Ferrara on the topic of Mary's alleged sinlessness and immaculate conception. While the debate audio/video are not (to my knowledge) yet available for purchase, here are a few points that I'd like to address.
1) Does Ineffabilis Deus lie about the patristic testimony?
During the debate, Dr. White brought up the fact that Ineffabilis Deus lies in claiming that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is something that was passed down from ancient times. Mr. Ferrara alleged that the doctrines that were passed down were simply doctrines that form some kind of alleged basis for the doctrine, such as the view of Mary as "the new Eve."
However, Ineffabilis Deus itself states:
And indeed, illustrious documents of venerable antiquity, of both the Eastern and the Western Church, very forcibly testify that this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, which was daily more and more splendidly explained, stated and confirmed by the highest authority, teaching, zeal, knowledge, and wisdom of the Church, and which was disseminated among all peoples and nations of the Catholic world in a marvelous manner -- this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine.(Ineffabilis Deus)(emphasis added)
From this, it can be seen that the claim "this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine" is in direct reference not to the "new Eve" idea or any other pre-requisite doctrine or interpretation, but specifically in reference to "this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin."
As Dr. White demonstrated during the debate, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception did not always exist, was not a doctrine that was received from the eary patristic period, and is not rightly to be considered a revealed doctrine (just as it was not considered a revealed doctrine in Aquinas' time)
2) Thomas Aquinas' (and Christopher Ferrara's) Reliance on Pseudo-Augustine
During the debate, Christopher Ferrara raised as allegedly a work by Augustine, the work referenced by Thomas Aquinas in the following sentence: "But as Augustine, in his tractate on the Assumption of the Virgin, argues with reason, since her body was assumed into heaven, and yet Scripture does not relate this; so it may be reasonably argued that she was sanctified in the womb." (Summa Theologica, 3rd Part, Question 27, Article 1)
The Cambridge University Press 2006 edition (essentially a reprint of the edition released by the English Dominicans in the 1960's and 1970's) provides the following footnote for that sentence: "Tract on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, in the Preface: PL 40, 1141."
The reference PL 40, 1141 is a reference to column 1141 of volume 40 of Migne's Latin Patrology (PL). In Migne's PL, one finds that Migne has designated this work as "incerti auctoris," meaning that the authorship is uncertain (link to evidence).
Allan Fitzgerald O.S.A., editor of Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, does not include the work in his list of Augustine's works, and the work is usually cited as "Pseudo-Augustine" in works that cite it.
For example, internationally renowned Mariologist (and Marianist priest) Luigi Gambero writes:
The text in question is one mistakenly attributed to St. Augustine, published in PL 40, 1140-48. It has been studied by G. Quandrio, Il trattato "De Assumptione B. M. B." dello Pseudo-Agostino e il suo influsso nella teologia assunzionistica latina, Analecta Gregoriana 7 (Rome, 1951).- Luigi Gambero, Mary in the Middle Ages, p. 78, footnote 15. ...
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Peter Stravinskas Threatens to Sue Alpha and Omega Ministries
08/24/2010 - James WhitePeter Stravinskas is threatening to bring legal action against us. Why? For a single blog article and my reporting that the proposed debate between us was cancelled. You can find the discussion of what happened and how I reported it here. Notice the terrible and libelous things I said there! I said the debate had been "scrubbed." I said Stravinskas "decided he would not debate." I noted a number of (false) statements he had made in talking to Chris Arnzen (who contacted him about doing the debate in the first place), including alleging I had "packed" the audience with my supporters, etc. I reported that he was offended by my posting of three YouTube clips from the debate. I reposted one of them, the audience question Stravinskas answered very foolishly. Then I noted that I had offered to send Stravinskas the 2001 debate, as well as an unedited master of the video recording that would be made of the proposed debate.
But then I narrated the real issue here. Stravinskas demanded that he have the right to determine what would, and what would not, be posted on line from the debate. As I said at the time, Peter Stravinskas is the first person in my approximately one hundred moderated, public debates, to make such a demand. No other Roman Catholic has ever made such a demand. No Muslim, Mormon, Oneness Pentecostal, atheist, or liberal, has ever made such a demand. Evidently, Peter Stravinskas is still smarting, badly, over how badly he performed in 2001. In any case, as soon as Chris Arnzen told me of Stravinskas' demand, I informed Chris that I would send him our regular video contract, which everyone else has found perfectly acceptable. I then wrote an e-mail and sent it to Chris to forward to Stravinskas when he felt it was time to address the final arrangements for the debate. Since Stravinskas is demanding I remove the above referenced blog article (despite the fact that any semi-rational person can recognize that it simply narrates events, and contains nothing even remotely actionable), I here provide the relevant e-mails, so that the public at large, including Roman Catholics, can judge for themselves why it is we have been able to arrange debates in the past with a wide range of Roman Catholic apologists, while only Stravinskas seems to have "issues" (of course, we have had "issues" in the past, but always with Roman Catholics who refused to give us video tapes of debates they had lost). First, here is the e-mail I sent to Chris to forward to Stravinskas on the video issue (my e-mail files show this dated July 20th, 2010): ...
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If You Love Owning and Studying the Scriptures...
08/20/2010 - James White
Session XXV: Rule IV of the Ten Rules Concerning Prohibited Books Drawn Up by The Fathers Chosen by the Council of Trent and Approved by Pope Pius: Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them. H. J. Schroeder, Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent: Original Text with English Translation (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1955), p. 274-75.David King posted this as a reminder to our Roman Catholic friends who like to argue Scripture that they have not always been given that freedom---I wonder how many of them have written permission from their "bishop or inquisitor, pastor or confessor" to own and read the sacred scriptures? Oh, I know---it's just the 2,000 year old church, never changing!
Did Francis J. Beckwith Ever Leave the Tiber? (Part 4, Conclusion)
08/19/2010 - James WhiteFrancis Row Your Boat Ashore
So I think the answer to our question has been answered fully, and fairly. It has never surprised me that Frank Beckwith returned to Rome. He had never left it in key and fundamental ways. Surely he had moved from non-Catholic church to non-Catholic church, and had embraced a non-Catholic view of justification. But even here his view was inconsistent, for the only solid foundation of justification by faith is that of sovereign grace. And given that he had never jettisoned Rome’s views of nature, man, and grace, he truly never left the Tiber River. He may well have put a foot on the far side, but he never saw Rome’s gospel as a false gospel, Rome’s views of Scripture and grace as antithetical to the truth. Every time I see someone who, like him, has never staked out a knowledgeable, knowing spot on the high ground of the western shore of the Tiber, rowing back into the arms of Rome, I am not at all surprised. The fact is, it’s a lot prettier over there in Rome. Lots more to see. You have to really believe you have done the right thing to stay over here.
Ironically, Beckwith provides a lengthy quote that says substantially that in Return to Rome. It comes from Carl R. Trueman of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Trueman wrote a review of the book, Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism by Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom.* Beckwith says that the following citation “rocked” him “to the core.” I can see why. If you think about what Trueman is saying (and you really do have to listen carefully), it throws a bright spotlight on the large crowd of non-Catholics paddling around in the Tiber, whose only reason for being non-Catholic is a matter of taste, not a matter of knowledgeable conviction. Here is the citation from Trueman:
When I finished reading the book, I have to confess that I agreed with the authors, in that it does indeed seem that the Reformation is over for large tracts of evangelicalism; yet the authors themselves do not draw the obvious conclusion from their own arguments. Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism; in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic; not being Catholic should, in other words, be a positive act of will and commitment, something we need to get out of bed determined to do each and every day. It would seem, however, that if Noll and Nystrom are correct, many who call themselves evangelical really lack any good reason for such an act of will; and the obvious conclusion, therefore, should be that they do the decent thing and rejoin the Roman Catholic Church. I cannot go down that path myself, primarily because of my view of justification by faith and because of my ecclesiology; but those who reject the former and lack the latter have no real basis upon which to perpetuate what is, in effect, an act of schism on their part. For such, the Reformation is over; for me, the fat lady has yet to sing; in fact, I am not sure at this time that she has even left her dressing room. (RTR 83)
I would multiply the reasons why I, too, cannot “go down that path,” and would be so politically incorrect as to state it bluntly, “I cannot go down that path because there is no gospel at the end of that path.” So while I would put it differently at a number of points, I am saying the same thing as Trueman: a non-Catholic who is so without the conviction that the gospel matters and that Rome is fundamentally in error on these matters truly has no foundation for his or her position. Beckwith realized the truth of Trueman’s statement, and it “rocked” him for a simple reason: Frank Beckwith had never made that commitment, that act of will, to get out of the boat on the far shore.
*While it is outside the scope of this work, I will only point out that this work was terribly unbalanced and a true betrayal of the Reformation itself. It only documents the decline of “evangelicalism” as a whole. It surely does not show a meaningful understanding of the heart of the Reformation.
Did Francis J. Beckwith Ever Leave the Tiber? (Part 3)
08/18/2010 - James WhiteThat Sola Scriptura Thing
The most eye-opening portion of Return to Rome for me was Beckwith’s self-admission that he had never held to a serious, confessional, historically and biblically grounded doctrine of sola scriptura. As one who has defended this divine truth against leading Roman Catholic apologists for most of my adult life, I found the ease with which Frank Beckwith dismissed the formal principle of the Reformation shocking, but, given the context of the book, not at all surprising. I am thankful he included this section, for it is vital in evaluating his reversion to the church of his childhood. And in reference to determining whether Beckwith ever stood firmly on the far shore of the Tiber, his statements about sola scriptura provide final and convincing proof of the matter.
Beckwith narrates a conversation he had with J. Budziszewski:
Our questions focused on several theological issues that prevented us from becoming Catholic and seemed insurmountable: the doctrine of justification, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the teaching authority of the Church (including apostolic succession and the primacy of the Pope), and Penance. The other issues that most Protestants find to be stumbling blocks---the Marian doctrines and Purgatory---were not a big deal to me. That was because I reasoned that if the Catholic views on Church authority, justification, the communion of saints, and the sacraments were defensible, them these other so-called “stumbling blocks” withered away, since the Catholic Church would in fact be God’s authoritative instrument in the development of Christian doctrine. (RTR 79)
I did not find any mention in Return to Rome of Dr. Beckwith sitting down with any knowledgeable Reformed theologian and asking the same questions. In fact, the time frame during which Beckwith did all of his intensive study is so short that he would hardly have had time to examine carefully “the other side.” Of course, the assumption is that he already “knew” the “other side,” but that is simply not the case. One will scan his notes in vain for any reference to any classical works on, say, sola scriptura, such as William Whitaker’s late 16th century classic, Disputations on Holy Scripture, or William Goode’s mid 19th century work, Divine Rule of Faith and Practice. You will not find him interacting with George Salmon’s The Infallibility of the Church, or the modern three-volume work of William Webster and David King, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith. Instead, we find only a passing reference to the heavily compromised work by Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. More evidence that Frank Beckwith was very far from having landed his boat on the far side of the Tiber.
As to Beckwith’s reasoning that such dogmatic assertions as the Marian dogmas can be simply piggy-backed upon a conclusion that Rome is “God’s authoritative instrument in the development of Christian doctrine,” we find a striking similarity to his reasoning in the words of the founder of Catholic Answers, Karl Keating:
True, scriptural proofs for this are lacking. Theologians refer to a mystical interpretation of John 19:26 (“Woman behold thy son, son behold thy mother”), an interpretation that sees John as the representative of the human race, Mary thus becoming the spiritual mother. They not the doctrine is reasonable because it is fitting....
This is little consolation to fundamentalists, of course, who see little fitting about it and who put little stock in speculative theology and even less in mystical theology. As a practical matter, this kind of doctrine is one of the last accepted by someone approaching the Church, particularly someone coming to the Church from fundamentalism, and it is accepted, ultimately, on the authority of the Church rather than on the authority of clear scriptural references. (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, 279)
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On Division and Harmony with Rome (Part II)
08/17/2010 - James White
He further goes on to say that it was through his study of the church fathers and the development of liturgical traditions that liberated him with respect to his views on church tradition.
He says a lot more than that, actually, that is highly problematic, and has been addressed by a number of folks since his conversion a few years ago. I wrote an entire chapter on Beckwith's explanation of his own views as a "Protestant," and how he had remained very much in the middle of the Tiber River, theologically and philosophically, until his full return to the Roman side of that river. I have decided to post that chapter over the course of the next week, so I will not repeat it here. But consult the portion on Beckwith's comments on sola scriptura and you will see what I mean.
To be honest, the Catholic doctrine of the church has garnered a greater appreciation for me of not only church tradition but the significance of the visible church. I think we protestants have been historically too dismissive of tradition and tend to undermine the authority and presence of the ecclesiastical body.
Mrs. Robinson has already succumbed to the primary deception of Rome: the either/or conundrum. Rome presents the idea that either you have their view of the infallible church standing in the mists of time, or, you have yourself and your Bible under a tree. There is nothing in between. And, of course, there is plenty in between. Many of us have very high views of the church, her purpose, role, and authority. Mrs. Robinson may only be aware of modern American evangelicalism and its common sub-biblical views of the church, but that is only to be ignorant of the history of the Reformation itself. But it is a huge leap to move from "the church is necessary, the church is a divine institution" to "the church of Rome is the mother of all churches, infallible." If Mrs. Robinson wants a higher ecclesiology, her Reformed heritage could have provided her with all sorts of examples of high, and biblical, ecclesiology.
Upholding scriptural authority has somehow created a laissez-faire attitude with respect to the unity of body that Christ sought (John 17:20-21) and that the RCC seeks with respect to doctrine and church practice.
I would challenge Mrs. Robinson's straight-line reasoning from "uphold the divine nature and authority of Scripture" to "sub-biblical views of the church and true Christian unity." How does she propose to make this connection? Mere observance that "some who uphold scriptural authority have a sub-biblical view of the church and the unity thereof" is not itself an argument. Is there not an inconsistency in upholding scriptural authority and then ignoring the very teachings of Scripture itself?
But far more to the point is the observation that Christian unity is not based upon ecclesiastical infallibility, Roman or otherwise. It is a unity of common confession, a unity birthed by the Spirit of God who brings the people of God to a knowledge of Jesus Christ and faith in Him and His gospel. That kind of unity is the very unity ripped and shredded by Rome's constant overthrow of biblical norms and its insistence upon defining unbiblical speculation and teaching as dogma. So once again, if Mrs. Robinson is truly concerned about true Christian unity, should she not see Rome's self-serving claims and actions over the course of history as one of the primary stumbling blocks toward the accomplishment of that unity?
When Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg door, he had no intention of dismantling the church but reforming practices that had been corrupted.
True, however, Rome's reaction was that of a political system, not a church. Does Mrs. Robinson confess that the papacy of Luther's day was not just corrupt, but utterly opposed to the gospel of grace? Does that not impact the claims of modern Roman Catholic apologists regarding the "2000 year old church" and the "consistent teaching" thereof? And once Rome anathematized Luther, what was he to do? Was he wrong to say "Here I stand, I can do no other?" And given that Rome has gone even farther away from the gospel since 1521 (defining as dogma such mythological teachings as the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility, and the Bodily Assumption of Mary), should we be any less bold in our stand today?
While I do not agree with the authoritative status of the Pope as the succession of the apostolic witness, I do think there is something to be said for the preservation of historic Christianity and ecclesiastical unity that the papal office seeks to uphold.
Rejection of Rome's papal pretensions is not a mere matter of agreement or disagreement. That is like saying, "I do not agree with the prophethood of Joseph Smith." No, I reject it as a soul-destroying lie, just as I do the pretensions of a man dressed in flowing robes in a mansion in Rome who claims to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, infallible in his teaching authority. The Apostle Paul did not simply "disagree" with the Judaizers, did he? There is everything proper in recognizing the ability of Christians to "disagree" on secondary or minor issues. But we are talking about foundational things here, things that define our faith and our worship.
Did Francis J. Beckwith Ever Leave the Tiber? (Part 2)
08/17/2010 - James WhiteWhy Aren’t You A Catholic?
Dr. Beckwith narrates a conversation he had with his niece. She asked him why he was not a Roman Catholic. His response was,
I proceeded to tell my little niece that I had great respect for the pope and that I have learned much from the Church’s great thinkers, including Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II. I also told her that I agree with most everything that the Catholic Church teaches on matters concerning God and Jesus, but I disagreed with it on other things having to do with the authority of the Church and the nature of communion and some of the other sacraments. (RTR 74-75)
While this answer was being given to a young person, and hence would not be as full as might be given in another context, the fact is that the reply is telling all the same. I have often been asked the same question in various venues, and my response is, Lord willing, consistent. “Because Roman Catholicism has a gospel that does not give peace, because it fundamentally violates the Scriptural teaching on how one is made right with God. Rome has a false gospel that cannot save, hence, I have no reason to abandon the peace I have with God through Christ’s perfect atonement for the treadmill of Rome’s sacramental system of salvation.” One would think that anyone who has purposefully crossed the Tiber because they have encountered the gospel and been changed thereby would have a similar response. Beckwith’s reply is a tepid statement of taste, a general “we are very much the same, but I have a few disagreements on these side issues” type of thing that while reflecting a lot of modern evangelicalism is likewise far removed from the heartfelt motivations of the Reformation.
Having given this response, Beckwith then asked the question cited above. It likewise reflects that he was still very much in the middle of the Tiber River, for the person who has embraced the gospel of grace has not only landed his boat on the far side, but has torn the boat apart to use the wood as a pulpit from which to proclaim freedom in Christ to those trapped on the other shore. But Beckwith can speak of “permanently” abandoning Rome as something he could not yet actually justify! Surely this kind of statement demonstrates the thesis at hand, as no person who has found peace in the gospel of grace in contrast to Rome’s sacramentalism will forget to mention that as the primary reason he or she does not submit to Rome’s claims of authority.
Later, when Beckwith was asked the same question after a lecture at Boston College by Laura Garcia, herself a convert to Catholicism from “evangelicalism,” Beckwith’s response once again finds its source in the Tiber River itself. His answer says nothing of the gospel. Likewise, it says nothing of sola scriptura. It is a distinctly non-Reformed answer, one that showed no heart-felt commitment to the Reformation. (RTR 76-77) Once again, I am very much aware of the fact that there are many today in non-Catholic churches that would answer as Beckwith did. My point is that they, too, are paddling around in the river, without a solid foundation upon which to stand. The Reformation isn’t over for the person who cares to think deeply about what matters from a biblical perspective. I see no reason to believe that Frank Beckwith would have ever agreed with me on this point.
(Continued in Part III)
Did Francis J. Beckwith Ever Leave the Tiber? (Part 1)
08/16/2010 - James WhiteWhen I was first contacted about the reversion of Frank Beckwith, the then president of the Evangelical Theological Society, I immediately discussed the topic on my webcast, The Dividing Line. I held open the possibility that the report was premature, or in error, but, failing that, I immediately called for Dr. Beckwith’s resignation as the president of the Evangelical Theological Society if, in fact, he had reverted to Roman Catholicism. I did so because the entire reason for the existence of ETS, as I had heard it so bluntly stated by Roger Nicole, was to have a distinctly non-Roman Catholic society for the study of the Bible. Though Beckwith attempts to argue that he did not, really, have to leave the ETS in Return to Rome, I believe the reality is clear to everyone who has an accurate understanding of the authority concept of Rome. At the same time I predicted that Beckwith’s reversion, due to his position, would be touted by Roman Catholic apologists as yet another example of “Rome Sweet Home.” At that time I raised the question of the relevance of the president of ETS returning to Rome simply due to his position. Logically, the relevance of a conversion or reversion would be directly proportional to the person’s direct knowledge of the issues relevant to the divide between Catholicism and Protestantism. And though I had not read a lot of Beckwith’s work, I could not think of any time when I had heard Beckwith address specific issues relating to the gospel, nor had I ever heard him speak of the gospel of grace in antithesis to the gospel of Rome.
A fair and full reading of Return to Rome not only substantiates my original predictions (the cover includes these words, “Why the President of the Evangelical Theological Society Left His Post and Returned to the Catholic Church”), but it gives plentiful evidence of one fact: Frank Beckwith may have taken a dip in the Tiber River for a number of years, but he never actually got out on the far side. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, the Tiber River forms the westernmost boundary of the ancient city of Rome. To swim the Tiber, then, normally refers to someone who converts to, or in this case reverts to, Roman Catholicism. But to extend the analogy, it has become plain to me over the years that it really is not just a matter of being on one side of the Tiber or the other. There are many who do not current identify themselves as Roman Catholics who, nevertheless, surely do not have their feet planted on the soil on the far side of the riverbank. Instead, they are paddling around in the river, sometimes closer to the Roman side, sometimes the far side. In their theology, their worldview, their understanding of grace, man, authority---any number of things, they are a mixture, often a very confused mixture. Most often they are ignorant of the great issues that define the boundaries, and as a result hold to self-contradictory positions. But in any case, it seems clear, from reading Frank Beckwith’s own words, that he never chose to cross the Tiber, climb out of the water, and take a firm stand on the far side. He never said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” He never said, “This is the gospel, and that is not the gospel over there.” Instead, by his own confession, he paddled about in the Tiber River until just recently, when he re-docked his boat on the Roman side. ...
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In Whom Do You Trust? Through Whom Does your Salvation Come?
08/09/2010 - Tur8infanChristians are those who follow Christ, who have faith in Christ for salvation. They ascribe to him power and glory, which they do not ascribe to any creature. They have one mediator, as it is written:
1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
We have faith in God and in no other, thus we sing:;
Psalm 62:6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
And we remind ourselves this:
Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
What spirit then, is behind this pen?
Great indeed is Our trust in Mary. The resplendent glory of her merits, far exceeding all the choirs of angels, elevates her to the very steps of the throne of God. Her foot has crushed the head of Satan. Set up between Christ and His Church, Mary, ever lovable and full of grace, always has delivered the Christian people from their greatest calamities and from the snares and assaults of all their enemies, ever rescuing them from ruin.Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), section 4
The foundation of all Our confidence, as you know well, Venerable Brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), section 5
What Scripture will someone try to claim tells us to speak this way about Mary? There are many that teach us to speak this way about God, but none that teach us to make Mary a mediatrix or tell us to have faith in Mary.
I anticipate the usual responses from Rome's advocates for whom an absence of apostolicity is no obstacle. They will first assert that this encyclical is not infallible. Indeed the encyclical does not claim to be infallible: it is paving the way for an allegedly infallible proclamation that was to follow.
Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), section 5
Accordingly, We have appointed certain priests of recognized piety and theological learning, as well as several cardinals of the Holy Roman Church who are renowned because of their ability, piety, wisdom, prudence, and knowledge of the things of God; and We have directed them to make, carefully and thoroughly, a most diligent examination into this most important matter and then provide Us with a complete report. Through such a procedure, We feel that We are following in the clearly marked footsteps of Our Predecessors and that We are emulating their example.
The second thing that they may wish to claim is some sort of poetic license for this bishop of Rome. But are we really to take Pius IX's words only poetically? The context of his words is the preparation for inserting the false dogma of the Immaculate Conception into the religion of Rome:
No sooner had We been elevated to the sublime Chair of the Prince of the Apostles and undertook the government of the universal Church (not, indeed, because of Our own worthiness but by the hidden designs of Divine Providence) than We had the great consolation, Venerable Brethren, in recalling that, during the pontificate of Gregory XVI, Our Predecessor of happy memory, there was in the entire Catholic world a most ardent and wondrous revival of the desire that the most holy Mother of God -- the beloved Mother of us all, the immaculate Virgin Mary -- be finally declared by a solemn definition of the Church to have been conceived without the stain of original sin. Both to Our Predecessor and to Us this most devout desire was clearly and unmistakably made manifest by the petitions of illustrious bishops, esteemed canonical chapters, and religious congregations, among whom was the renowned Order of Preachers. These appeals vied with one another in the insistent request that official permission be granted for the word Immaculate to be publicly used and be added to the sacred liturgy, particularly in the Preface of the Mass of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin. With the greatest delight, both Our Predecessor and We acceded to these requests.Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), sections 1-2
One thing is wrapped up in another - devotion to Mary is an essential component of Rome's religion, though it was not a part of the apostolic faith. But the faith of Pius IX is the one in which he was raised - which he described this way:
From our earliest years nothing has ever been closer to Our heart than devotion-filial, profound, and wholehearted-to the most blessed Virgin Mary. Always have We endeavored to do everything that would redound to the greater glory of the Blessed Virgin, promote her honor, and encourage devotion to her.Ubi Primum, February 2, 1849, Pius IX (link to source), section 4
Ought not devotion to God to be closer than devotion to any mere creature? Ought not filial, profound, and wholehearted devotion be given to our Father in heaven? How did Jesus teach us to pray - to "Our mother, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name" or "Our Father"? Which is the prayer that has been prayed continuously for nearly 2000 years? Who on the other hand can produce for us some record of the "Hail Mary" before Nicaea? Who can show us one Western father from the first millennium who said something like "[Mary is] set up between Christ and His Church"?
And even if one could find a "Hail Mary" prayer very early, and some early person who mistakenly used the Marian axe to sever the head (Christ) from the body (His church), what of it? It is not what the apostles taught - it is not the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
It is an innovation whether it was developed in the 19th century with Pius IX, in the middle ages with St. Bernard, or even if it was developed earlier.
The bottom line, dear reader, is this: in whom do you trust? through whom does your salvation come? If it comes through Mary - if you are trusting in her like Pius IX did - you are not properly trusting in Christ, and you will face judgment on that dreadful day of the Lord.
On Division and Harmony with Rome (Part I)
08/09/2010 - James White
With the advent of the Vatican II Council, there has been a greater focus on scriptural authority in the RCC. I have witnessed that first hand in some recent viewings of Catholic masses on EWTN. I actually was impressed with the amount of scripture being read and taught and found little that I disagreed with in the messages. Yet, I wonder how many Protestants would even receive messages delivered by a Catholic priest, let alone watch a Catholic channel. I can’t help but believe that would only perpetuate ignorance and disharmony.
I have been engaging the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church for a number of decades now. It would be easy to become "accustomed" to the errors of the Roman system, but thankfully, I have not succumbed to that temptation. I remain as deeply moved by the blasphemy against the finished and perfect work of Jesus on calvary that is the heart of the Roman Mass as I was when I first came to understand Rome's teaching on the subject. My heart is still broken at the spiritual carnage Rome produces in the lives of millions, enslaving them to a system that has no finished sacrifice, no assurance, simply no gospel that brings peace. Despite the constant pressures to join in the ecumenical love-fest that is so popular in Western culture, I remain thoroughly convinced that as long as Galatians and Romans remain in the canon of Scripture, Rome will remain an opponent to biblical truth, and those who follow her teachings will need to hear the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ.
But I am no longer in the majority when it comes to that broad, broad field called evangelicalism, and the comments made by Lisa Robinson on the Parchment and Pen blog on August 8th, 2010, illustrate this clearly. Since Frank Beckwith picked up on this entry (I had expected him to when I saw it myself), I believe it prudent and necessary to comment upon it. It seems Mrs. Robinson views the issues that separate "Catholics and Protestants" very differently than I do, and hopefully this review will explain why I believe her position is not only one of compromise, it is tremendously dangerous, not only for her, but for her readers as well.
I, too, have observed some programs on EWTN. But when I see a man who calls himself a priest standing before a congregation, I know well what is going on. I know this is the central act of "worship" in the Roman system, and I know exactly what this religious ceremony means when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This man, ordained as an "alter Christus," another Christ, believes himself to be sacramentally empowered to bring Jesus Christ down from heaven, body, soul, and divinity, and render Him present upon the altar of the Roman Church, so that this becomes the "eucharistic sacrifice." In the offensive words of John O'Brien,
When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.
Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.
Of what sublime dignity is the office of the Christian priest who is thus privileged to act as the ambassador and the vice-gerent of Christ on earth! He continues the essential ministry of Christ: he teaches the faithful with the authority of Christ, he pardons the penitent sinner with the power of Christ, he offers up again the same sacrifice of adoration and atonement which Christ offered on Calvary. No wonder that the name which spiritual writers are especially fond of applying to the priest is that of alter Christus. For the priest is and should be another Christ. (O’Brien, The Faith of Millions, 255-256)
Does it make it any less blasphemous and untrue that Roman Catholics quote scriptures in an attempt to substantiate such teaching? I do not believe so---in fact, it only makes it more offensive that men are willing to twist God's Word in defense of such things. So why does Mrs. Robinson find it somehow encouraging that Rome reads more Scripture in the process of offering an impotent and soul-destroying "sacrifice" that perfects none of those for whom it is offered? It is hard to understand.
Mrs. Robinson refers to "ignorance and disharmony." There is a tremendous amount of ignorance about Roman Catholicism amongst evangelicals, that is for sure. There is just as much ignorance, however, amongst Roman Catholics about evangelicalism, and especially about Reformed theology. But what is worse, many Roman Catholic leaders help to promulgate this ignorance, and in fact, foster it. Just listen to Catholic Answers Live sometime to get a taste of the pop-apologetics approach to these issues, and the ignorance and misrepresentation of "the other side" that is epidemic in those quarters. There are many who are "anti-Catholic" out of pure ignorance, just as there are many who are anti-Protestant out of the same pure ignorance. It's a two way street.
But may I suggest that ignorance is not the reason for "disharmony"? The more I came to learn of Rome's dogmatic teachings, the more I desired not the slightest bit of "harmony" with her and her teachings. Rome has a false gospel. Rome has created disharmony through her arrogant ascription to herself of the title of "infallible." Rome refuses correction on the basis of Scripture, and has promulgated as dogma teachings that are utterly unknown to the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the true believer does not want harmony with such an organization. Why would we? ...
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CHRISTOPHER A. FERRARA - Founder of American Catholic Lawyer's Association
Christopher Ferrara is an attorney and widely published Catholic author and commentator. He serves as President and Chief Counsel of American Catholic Lawyer’s Association , an organization dedicated to defending the rights of Catholics. He was involved in the legal battle for the life of Theresa Schiavo and has won many legal victories for Catholic pro-life advocates at both the trial and appellate level. Mr. Ferrara is the author of four books, numerous pamphlets, and hundreds of articles which have appeared in The Remnant, The Latin Mass magazine, Catholic Family News, Oriens, Christian Order and various other publications.
DR. JAMES R. WHITE - Director of Alpha & Omega Ministries
Dr. James White is director of Alpha & Omega Ministries , an Evangelical Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, AZ. He is a professor, having taught Greek, Systematic Theology, and various topics in the field of apologetics. He has authored many books, including The King James Only Controversy, The Forgotten Trinity, The Potter's Freedom, and The God Who Justifies. He is an accomplished debater, having engaged in nearly 100 moderated, public debates with leading proponents of Roman Catholicism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormonism, as well as critics such as Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, and John Shelby Spong.
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