Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Excellent Work from My Brothers
10/30/2010 - James WhiteTwo of my blog team have posted articles on their personal blogs that you really need to read, especially if you have interest in Roman Catholic polemics. James Swan, the master of all odd Luther quotes, has just blown a hole in the boat of many of Rome's pop apologists who constantly hammer away at the "Luther and Calvin believed what we believe about Mary!" line (which is bogus on its face, given the IC and BA were defined after their time) by patiently tracking down the sources, once again, on a Luther "quote" often used by RC apologists. Another great example of "Don't believe much of what you see on an RC website." Here is the article.
Meanwhile TurretinFan's blog is always a gold-mine of material (the contrast between what you read there, and at Beggars All, with what you read on the standard RC blogs is striking), and currently he is teaming up with Pastor David King in posting material on the sufficiency of Scripture. Here are two important articles (here and here). Important and edifying material for those seeking to bring the good news of a gospel that actually saves to those trapped in the darkness of Romanism.
Once again, I am deeply thankful for the many co-laborers the Lord has sent into the fields of harvest!
A Quick Report from Newberg
10/23/2010 - James WhiteI hope those who wished to listen live to the purgatory debate last night we able to do so. I had to go with straight "house sound," so it wasn't as clear as, for example, the Silverman debate was, but hopefully it was still useful.
Another clear delineation between the God-centered gospel of a powerful Savior and the man-centered gospel of man's accomplishments and cooperation was surely provided over the very lengthy period of debate last evening. Dr. Sungenis did not even make an attempt to respond to the historical portion of my presentation. Almost the entirety of the debate centered on 1 Corinthians 3. I was disappointed in that Bob assumed the audience was already fully aware of what purgatory is, as defined by Rome. He really made no attempt to explain it to any meaningful depth. I think those in attendance learned much more about purgatory from me than they did from him. At one point I asked him to define indulgences for the audience, and he wandered off into a story about David. So, I then defined it as a question, defining the treasury of merit, the excess merit of Christ, Mary, and the saints, etc., and asking him, "Is that accurate?" "Yes" was his response. That's how it went.
Unlike the calm interaction in Santa Fe, last night was anything but calm during "cross examination." I use quotes because Bob decided to abandon any and all semblance of meaningful format for something called "cross examination." He had told the moderator that we would be doing a "free form" type of cross-ex. What I never imagined he meant was what he did: argue, make points, ask a question, let you say ten words, interrupt you and tell you to be quiet, make another point, erect a straw man, and then cut you off if you object. It was a total mess for a total of 35 minutes (one 20 minute portion, one 15 minute portion). As much as I like Bob personally (he really is a nice guy on that level---then again, so is John Dominic Crossan, who remains my favorite heretic), I was really offended by the stunts he pulled last night. The audience was, too. It got silly, and when he went back to the same non-questions, all on how many judgments there are, I finally gave up and responded solely with, "Asked and answered." I refused to lower myself to that level in my portions of the cross-examination.
It is very, very difficult to do cross-examination properly. It is hard to ask contextual and meaningful questions, to really probe someone else's position. But it is worth it, and I believe I need to write up a document on how cross-examination MUST be done and INSIST upon it in the future. The "don't bother with real questions, argue your points and misrepresent your opponent" style used last night by Dr. Sungenis shows no respect for your opponent, but less for the audience. In the second portion I could hear the groans of the audience as he beat the dead horse into oblivion for the twentieth time.
But the gospel was clearly presented, the contrast between Rome's man-centeredness and the Bible's God-centeredness plainly seen, and for that I am very thankful. My sincerest thanks to all those who listened, and prayed, for the debate. I was likewise encouraged greatly, once again, by meeting those who came up before, during, and after the debate, who commented on how they have been helped and edified by Alpha and Omega Ministries. That's the whole reason we are here!
Some Exegetical Thoughts on a Debate Day
10/22/2010 - James WhiteOn debate days I try to remain focused upon the topic of the debate (I even dropped a previous opportunity to speak today when it became clear it would be a massive distraction from my primary reason for being here in Oregon today). Central to the debate with Rome over her dogma of purgatory is the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Of course, I realize that in the final analysis, any Roman Catholic (who is consistent) believes what they believe on the basis of the authority of the Roman Church itself, and all the discussion that will take place over biblical texts is, in the final analysis, window-dressing for the one who believes in sola ecclesia. Robert Sungenis demonstrated this with great clarity last month in Santa Fe when he defended the Bodily Assumption of Mary based upon the idea that Peter could define dogma for the church without reference to either Scripture or tradition. This means that when one bows the knee to Romanism, one is not only accepting a body of doctrinal teaching now (as nebulous as it might turn out to be in our modern day); what is more, you are accepting any dogmas that Rome may choose to define in the future as well! You are functionally accepting a new source of divine revelation, one that can morph and change at will. The more I interact with Rome over the years, the more clearly this becomes apparent.
In any case, I was looking again at the text in 1 Corinthians 3, and I noted a very important point. I have long emphasized that the testing by fire is meant to give a revelation of something that, at this time in our lives, we cannot know: specifically, who, in building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, is building with gold, silver, and precious stones, and who is building with wood, hay, and stubble. You can paint wood to make it look like gold, can you not? We cannot tell from a distance since we cannot see into the hearts of men. But God knows, and he will make a revelation of the truth in that final day. That is why Paul uses the term ἀποκαλύπτεται in verse 13. The testing of the judgment will make a revelation, an apocalupsis, of the true nature of the works of those who have built upon the foundation.
But what I noted in my preparation today is how the text strengthens this understanding in the lexical meaning of another word that is used by Paul: δηλώσει. Paul tells us the day (the day of judgment) will "show" or "make known" what kind of works have been built on the foundation. In fact, three terms in a row are used, and when we look at each one, we see the truth without question. Three terms are used in a series: φανερὸν γενήσεται, δηλώσει, ἀποκαλύπτεται. The first phrase, "will become manifest or evident," the second, "will be made known," and the third, "will be revealed." Each term/phrase contains the same important concept, explicitly found in δηλώσει. Note the definition of the term, first provided in BDAG: "to make some matter known that was unknown or not communicated previously, reveal, make clear"; then note Louw-Nida: "to make something known by making evident what was either unknown before or what may have been difficult to understand." You see, we do not possess, in this life, the ability to differentiate between gold and wood in the works built upon the foundation because we are talking about the intentions of men's hearts. We need an apocalupsis, an apocalypse, a revelation, a manifestation, via divine judgment, of these things. And that is what Paul is talking about: the manifestation of the truth at the final day.
Obviously, then, to twist this text into a proof text for an on-going process of purification of the souls of all the redeemed before entry into the presence of God is to twist it horribly from its original intent, and to engage in the most fanciful eisegesis.
So be listening this evening at 7pm PDT for the debate with Robert Sungenis, livestreamed at our regular Dividing Line link. Pray God's truth will be clearly vindicated!
Scripture has its Own Authority - and Christ Alone is Our Mediator - A Response to Michael Liccione
10/13/2010 - Tur8infanRoman Catholic Michael Liccione recently provided a comment in the comment box of a Roman Catholic blog that I think highlights two of the problems with Roman Catholic theology: (1) the disparaging of the authority of Scriptures themselves; and (2) the deification of "the Church."
What’s needed is a concrete, communal, continuous locus of “the sources” that is the divinely authorized subjectum of those sources. In other words, what’s needed is not “a” church but “the” Church that Jesus founded. Apart from such an body, the sources have no authoritative meaning; they are just “data” that we interpret in ways that may seem plausible to us, but which have no divine authority. Thus they leave us no way to distinguish divine revelation from human opinions about the sources.(source)
So if we’re going to see the relevant “evidence” as such, we have to see it in the way such a body sees it over time. Just as we have no access to the Father without the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, so we have no access to Christ, cognitive or sacramental, without “the” Church that is his Mystical Body.
The authority in God's Word is inherent authority, because of their authorship. Their meaning is an objective reality that is authoritative, whether or not it is recognized. Ignorance of that meaning does not diminish the authority of the meaning.
I like the way Augustine (A.D. 354-430) put it:
Our volumes are put up for sale in public; the light never needs to blush. Let them buy them, read them, believe them; or else buy them, read them, make fun of them. Those Scriptures know how to hold people guilty who read them and don’t believe.- Augustine, Sermon 198.20, translation found in John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Newly Discovered Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P. (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997), pp. 195-196.
And Scripture itself teaches:
Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Moreover, just as Roman Catholicism's view of Mary as co-mediatrix deifies Mary by placing her in position as mediator between God and man, so also Liccione's attempt to insert "the Church" (meaning the Roman Catholic Church) between men and Christ similarly deifies the church: "Just as we have no access to the Father without the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, so we have no access to Christ, cognitive or sacramental, without “the” Church that is his Mystical Body."
But Scripture says:
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.And again, we read:
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
May I call our Roman Catholic friends to this communion with God that is described by Paul in Romans, communion with God through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone, all to the glory of God alone.