Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
This is Sort of Neat
03/31/2012 - James WhiteCodex Bezae Cantabrigiensis is now on line (just like Sinaiticus). Of course, Bezae is the Living Bible Paraphrase of the ancient church, so, it's truly odd. In any case, if you would like to see the earliest extant example of the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) in the manuscript tradition, click here, and go to page 236. Look for the line in the column, it will mark the start of the passage. Here's an image of the line you need to look for. That is the start of the passage.
Some Brief Thoughts Regarding Liberal Scholarship, Redaction Criticism, and Islam (Part 2)
03/30/2012 - James WhiteMuch of the Muslim apologetic against Christianity today is based upon what took place in Agra, India in 1854. A man named Ramat Allah broke with preceding tradition and attacked the reliability of the Bible using the modern, destructive forms of redaction criticism prevalent particularly in European, and especially German, scholarship. Going against the views of popular Islamic writers of his day, such as Shah Wali Allah (1703-1762) and Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), both of whom saw the Qur'anic charges of corruption as primarily relating to interpretation, not the alteration of the actual written text, Ramat Allah popularized the use of liberal European criticism as the means of defeating the Christian missionaries operating in India. Undercut confidence in the text of the Bible and you mute Christian witness. Ramat Allah (his name is also spelled Ramatullah) wrote a vitally important work, Izhar ul-Haqq, a work that even Ahmed Deedat admitted influenced him greatly. Today every Christian seeking to present the gospel to Muslims deals with the result of these events from over 150 years ago (Zakir Naik would have next to nothing to say were it not for this source). The problem is, Ramat Allah was just as inconsistent in going down that road as his modern followers are. He borrowed from a world view that is essentially antithetical to his own to prop up the Qu'ran's denials of biblical teachings. If a Muslim were to consistently apply that methodology to his own scriptures, he would have to abandon belief in the inspiration of the Qur'an. Of course, few and far between are the Muslims who self-consciously seek this level of consistency when it comes to their refutations of Christianity. When you meet one, honor him and pray for him, to be sure.
I should note, in passing, that Izhar ul-Haqq is a horrific work, a scatter-gun example of "utterly ignoring context" and grasping at the most contradictory conclusions possible, all with the goal of producing confusion and distrust in the mind of the reader. Which explains Ahmed Deedat and Zakir Naik, to be sure (though I do not think it, or anything else, could possibly explain Nadir Ahmed). Izhar ul-Haqq is as gullible in its citations as any medieval Roman Catholic monk who grabbed any forged statement of the early church as having relevance to the rise of the Papacy, or transubstantiation. It is wild-eyed in its arguments and in its conclusions, but, it continues to find an audience amongst those who truly desire to disbelieve. Just as the horrific forgery, the Gospel of Barnabas, continues to find supporters for the same reason.
Throughout Shabir Ally's presentations over the past decade and a half or so he has assumed the position that for the gospels to be true, accurate, and reliable, they must be what I would call mp3-level recordings of the words of Jesus. Rather than seeing each gospel as the work of an individual seeking to craft an accurate presentation of the teachings and actions of Jesus for a particular group, Shabir, and those who would use his method of gospel criticism, reduce the gospels to the level of the reporter at the local news station standing outside city hall trying to get a quote from a politician. This involves a fundamental misapprehension of the genre of the gospels, their purpose, and their historical setting. Of course, I cannot completely fault Shabir for this: most Christians have likewise put very little thought into the matter, and, when they look at a synoptic parallel, are just as befuddle as anyone else, having never thought through where the gospels came from, how they were written, what their relationship might be to one another, the oral tradition, etc. But in any case, the reality is that the gospels do not pretend to be a dry, word-for-word recording that could be submitted as an unbiased news report. They have a purpose, an author, and audience, and a message. And when you get multiple authors with multiple purposes and styles writing to multiple audiences at different times, they will choose their material differently, and they will phrase things differently.
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Yesterday on the Dividing Line: Does Rome Possess the Gospel?
03/30/2012 - James WhiteIt is a question every generation has to face. Often. Repeatedly. And today, it is a question being brushed under the rug in the service of ecumenism and political power and cultural defense. Does Rome possess the gospel? Many on the far side of the Tiber River have concluded that while Rome gets a few things wrong, they are not really definitional, and hence, Rome gets a pass now, and can be considered simply a Christian faith with a few odd additions, nothing more. You will not be shocked to discover that I disagree. Strongly. Passionately. That took up the first 45 minutes of the program. Here's the show. And here is the video of that 45 minute (or so) segment:
Response to Paul Owen Regarding Mormons and those in Rome
03/30/2012 - Tur8infanIn response to Dr. James White's comments on whether those in the Roman commmunion and in the LDS church are saved, Paul Owen responded:
Mormons do NOT deny that Jesus is the God-man who died for our sins and rose again. They affirm all those points explicitly. And I see no reason to deny that many devoted followers of Christ can be found within the ranks of the LDS church.
Where to begin? No, Mormons do not believe Jesus was the God-man in the orthodox sense of that term. They do not believe in the hypostatic union. No, Mormons do not hold that Jesus died for our sins in the orthodox sense of that term, they think "Although we are redeemed unconditionally from the universal effects of the Fall, we are accountable for our own sins." (source) In fact the doctrines of incarnation and the atonement are two important points of difference between orthodox Christianity and Mormonism - not to mention the denial of the Father's true divinity, in the sense of being God from all eternity.
One reason (of many) to deny that there are many devoted followers of Christ in the LDS church is that the LDS church does not teach its followers the historical Jesus. There may be followers of Christ who are very deceived for a time, but the fruit of the Spirit would include an opening of their eyes to the manifest error of the LDS church.
Of course Roman Catholics are being saved! (I think it is better to put it that way and to say “is saved”.) Anyone who receives the sacrament of baptism, who believes in Christ, and “abides” in his body (through divinely appointed channels of grace) is being saved. The notion that God would exclude a person from heaven because they formally deny that faith is the “sole” instrument of their justification is absurd, and turns God into some sort of petty cosmic theology professor, who is more concerned with a person’s lexicon than the state of their heart. Anyone who can read the rich devotional writings of Pope Benedict XVI and conclude that this is not a true follower of Christ is spiritually tone deaf.
No man can serve two masters. The fictional Mary of Rome's imagination is one master - the God of the Bible is another. It is plain that Benedict XVI is devoted to the former (here are three recent examples), therefore it is clear that he is not devoted to the latter, even if he attempts to worship God along side his idols.
The point is not that Christians are saved by perfect doctrine, but that one must trust in Christ alone for salvation - and most of those with whom I've interacted in the Roman communion are not doing that. God is a Jealous God, his name is Jealous. They trust in "Mary" (not the historical one - but the one they imagine can hear their prayers), they trust in their "saints," and they even trust in their church and their pope. They are encouraged to trust in their works to ensure their final justification. That's building one's house on the sand.
Does that mean all those in the Roman communion are lost? No. It just means that in order to be saved, one must trust in Christ alone, which means not following what the Roman magisterium and Roman heirarchy practice and preach.
I won't even go into the problems that P.O. himself has with his soteriology, beyond pointing out that it is plain that he does not hold to sola fide in the traditional Reformed sense of the term, no matter what his allegiance at the moment may be (he claims to be Anglican).
Ultimately none of us knows the inner secrets of a person’s soul and walk with Christ. We can only judge them by their fruit (and yes, heresy and false teachings can enter into that judgment). But any definition of “Christian” which would exclude the vast majority of Christians prior to the formalization of the Reformation slogans and definitions of justification is obviously short-sighted!
The vision trouble seems to be on P.O.'s side, for he has not properly seen the argument before him. We are not saying that people need to perfect doctrine, but rather that they must trust in Christ alone for salvation. People were doing that since the Apostolic era and people were doing that before Martin Luther was a twinkle in his father's eye.
The real problem is defining Christianity by self-labeling, rather than by the Gospel. There will be many on judgment day who will say "Lord Lord!" but Christ will tell them, "I never knew you."
ABN Debate Canceled---Jumbo DL Instead!
03/29/2012 - James WhiteABN just informed me that my opponent can't make it tonight, so the debate on ABN has been canceled. Hopefully we can reschedule for later in April. So, we will do a Jumbo DL instead, starting at 6:30pm EDT (3:30pm PDT). I will be commenting on this article by C. Michael Patton at the start. Very troubled by it.
Muslim By Choice Refuted En Toto
03/29/2012 - James WhiteMuslimByChoice, a channel on YouTube, often attempts to respond to my materials. Unfortunately, he (they?) have provided far too many examples of bad argumentation, poor research, and simply erroneous reasoning. Here is an attempt to respond to only a tiny portion of my opening remarks from last week in Toronto.
The KJV and "Lucifer"
03/28/2012 - Alan KurschnerDaniel Wallace wrote an article clearing up perennial confused renderings in the King James Version of the Bible. He concludes,
"[KJVOnlyists] have misread a transliteration as though it were a proper name, then assumed that the underlying Hebrew text meant Lucifer, embracing the false conclusion that calling the king ‘the morning star’ in Isa 14.12 and Christ the ‘morning star’ in 2 Peter 1.19 was to deny the divinity and goodness of Christ. This argument is thus linguistically wrong-headed and has no real basis. In short, Lucifer is not such a bad guy after all because Lucifer is not Satan."
Read it all here.
Today on the Dividing Line: Thoughts on Liberalism, Redaction Criticism, and Islam
03/27/2012 - James WhiteToday we took the time to review some issues relating to the various forms of criticism of the Bible prevalent in the West, and how these are used, and quite honestly, abused by Muslims. Then we took some calls as well. Here's the program.
Here is a video of the teaching portion of the program prior to taking calls:
Some Brief Thoughts Regarding Liberal Scholarship, Redaction Criticism, and Islam (Part 1)
03/26/2012 - James WhiteBetween 1985 and 1989 I studied through Fuller Theological Seminary. While some of my professors were conservative, most were far to my left, and the reading assignments exposed me to the full range of form and redaction criticism that is the "given" in today's realm of Christian scholarship. I can tell you, without hesitation, that the vast majority of those who embrace form and redaction criticism in all of its flavors and kinds do so out of tradition, not out of having examined the case set forth in defense of these methods. In fact, very, very few of those who glibly repeat the party line have ever even given thought to any other viewpoint. Anyone who thinks there is a fair, open dialogue in "the academy" over these topics is simply misinformed. To "get ahead" in Christian scholarship you must---not should, MUST---toe the line when it comes to the acceptance of form and redaction criticism, along with its underlying presuppositions, presuppositions that are almost never explained, let alone debated, today.
My study at Fuller (and at times, I truly wondered why the Lord had closed all other doors and put me in that context, but, now I know) forced me to consider deeply why I could not in good conscience embrace the "status quo" of modern NT scholarship. My apologetic work pushed me to examine the presuppositions, the starting points, of the scholars I was reading, and I found, over and over again, the same kind of bald anti-supernaturalism at work, even amongst those who did not openly espouse such a view in their "religious life." That is, I found many schizophrenics who would stand in a pulpit on Sunday and still say "this is the Word of the Lord" while on Monday they would stand before a classroom of ministerial students and assure them that Paul contradicted Paul, Moses may not have actually existed, and that we have little more than a theoretical basis for knowing what Jesus actually said. This kind of double-mindedness was epidemic in Christian theology then. It is still quite prevalent, but in the past decade more and more have shed the religious trappings and are seeking to be consistent, not even bothering with the religious garb any longer.
During seminary I would challenge (respectfully, my professors will affirm) various assertions as they were made. When I heard men saying the gospels were quite late, post AD 70, for example, I would ask why they would date them so late (and, as a result, deny the eyewitness authorship of, say, Matthew). Most would simply say that such and such a scholar does, and they follow that person, but when I would press for a fuller answer, the worldview issue would come to the fore. Well, we would date them late because…of theories. Theories about how documents develop (in the natural world). Theories about how the early church developed (based upon, again, how such things happen in the natural world). And of course the big reason was…they had to have been written after AD 70 because, well, they couldn't have been written before otherwise they would contain…prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem! And we all know prophecy doesn't really exist, so there! For the vast majority of seminary graduates, the late dating of the gospels is just a given. Why they are dated so late was rarely discussed, and even more rare would be an open and upfront acknowledgment of the role of presuppositions (and the predominance of a naturalistic worldview in scholarship, yes, even in Christian scholarship, which has been deeply infected with a Lordship crippling desire to be admired in the eyes of secular scholarship) in the creation of the "scholarly consensus." I only learned later in seminary and after graduation how confident scholarship had been in the past in giving even later dates, German scholarship, for example, having dated John as late as AD 175, only to have those dates thrown to the wind by manuscript discoveries. In brief, I learned that simply "going with the flow" when it comes to the "consensus of scholarship," especially in a day when humanism and naturalistic materialism has become the religious dogma of the society, and of higher education, is not an option for the faithful follower of the teachings of Jesus the Messiah.
In my recent debate with Shabir Ally, this matter came up frequently, as I knew it would. Anyone listening to my opening statement who has a knowledge of the apologetic approach of Shabir Ally knows that I made my presentation specifically with the context I would be speaking in in mind. I firmly believe that Shabir did not respond to my presentation to any depth at all, for he gave the same presentation he has given many times before, and even in his rebuttal he did not engage the heart of the argument I made. I don't believe he did so because, with all due respect to Imam Ally, indeed, Dr. Ally, I do not believe he possesses either a full and accurate knowledge of the Trinity itself (his arguments show this) nor a sound or accurate knowledge of the field of New Testament studies as it bears upon the difference between approaching the text as a supernaturalist or doing so from another perspective. So while the weight of my presentation may have been lost on him as a result, that does not change the relevance of the argument I made.
Time does not allow me to go as fully as I would like into the subject, but I would like to touch upon a few items for the benefit of my readers. One of the issues that came up was a question I asked Shabir in our first debate at Biola in 2006. For years Shabir Ally had been making a presentation wherein he presents the "snowball" argument. It is a basic anti-gospel argument based upon a rather simplistic viewpoint of the origination of the gospels. Assuming a particular schema for dating the gospels, Shabir assumes that Matthew and Luke both possessed the text of Mark, and were editing the text to suit their own purposes. I would ask him how that would work, for, of course, if they possessed Mark, so did others, and, if they changed Mark's wording, wouldn't that cause obvious problems when they sought to make their resultant literary works available to the very same community? But that issue aside, Shabir thinks there is an over-riding impetus on the part of both Matthew and Luke to "grow" Jesus, assuming, of course, an evolution in the development of Christology (another assumption that is just accepted, never proven). So, Matthew and Luke are looking for ways to "improve" on Jesus---which puts them in the category of deceivers, really, at the very least from an Islamic viewpoint, but again, we will leave that aside for the moment.
For years Shabir would present the following two texts as one of his examples of where Matthew was "growing" Jesus:
"Therefore, be on the alert-- for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning-- (Mark 13:35)
"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42)
Shabir would tell his audiences that here is an example of how Mark has a "lower" term for Jesus, "master," while Matthew has "elevated" Jesus by calling him "Lord." You can find these presentations still all over the Internet, on YouTube, etc. During our debate I pointed out to him that in fact Mark uses the same Greek term Matthew did, as a comparison of the Greek text demonstrates:
γρηγορεῖτε οὖν· οὐκ οἴδατε γὰρ πότε ὁ κύριος τῆς οἰκίας ἔρχεται, ἢ ὀψὲ ἢ μεσονύκτιον ἢ ἀλεκτοροφωνίας ἢ πρωΐ,...
Γρηγορεῖτε οὖν, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδατε ποίᾳ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ κύριος ὑμῶν ἔρχεται.
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
The Basics of Monergism and Synergism
03/25/2012 - Alan KurschnerThe "Calvinist vs. Arminian" debate is substantially a debate between what is called "synergism" and "monergism." There is no third option (unless one is willing to affirm Pelagianism). For those who are new to the Calvinist-Arminian debate, the following is a primer on the two perennial branches of theological systems in Christianity. Or to put it another way, there are two very different ways for believers to view how their salvation was brought about.
In general, the first type (the Arminian-Synergist) affirms what is called "synergism." Synergists believe that two forces in the universe are necessary to bring about regeneration in the life of the sinner. In specifics, the two forces at work (cooperation) that are necessary to bring about regeneration, or spiritual life, is the will of man and the Holy Spirit (grace).
To put it another way, the work of the Holy Spirit is dependent on the creature’s will, hence, “synergism” (working together). Synergists will sincerely say, “I believe in grace alone.” But in reality, they believe that grace is not alone (sufficient), but that man’s will is necessary for regeneration to be effective.
It could be said that synergists are “functional” Arminians because even though some will deny the label, their theology functions synergistically (thus, how they identify themselves is inconsistent with what they teach and believe).
The second group of believers (the Calvinist-Monergist) affirm what is called “monergism.” Monergists believe that there is only one force in the universe (grace alone) that brings about regeneration in the life of the sinner. In specifics, because of the deadness of man’s spiritual state, his moral inability, the Holy Spirit performs the miracle of spiritual resurrection (regeneration) in that person, hence, “monergism” (one work). Grace is sufficient to be effective, and does not depend on some action of man.
In other words, the Holy Spirit does not merely whisper in the hardened sinner’s ear, hoping that the rebel sinner will “cooperate”; rather, while the sinner is in a state of hardness and rebellion, the Holy Spirit penetrates in the will of man and performs the miracle of spiritual life (regeneration). That is grace alone. Faith does not precede regeneration, regeneration precedes faith.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13
He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47Arminians cannot affirm monergism (grace alone); they must always have the creature’s will as the final determiner of their destiny, not God. Inconsistently, Arminians pray (without knowingly) Calvinisticly, “God, change my unbelieving relative’s heart.” I have never heard them pray, “God, only whisper in my relative’s ear, but don’t change their heart unless you’ve been given permission.” In contrast, the Calvinist prays and affirms biblical truth consistently.
A Quick Report from Canada
03/23/2012 - James WhiteI have just a few minutes before I need to leave to speak at the Cambridge Reformed Bible Conference, but wanted to report on last night's debate. I intend to do a vlog (video blog) about it when I get back and address some of the key issues raised by Shabir Ally (esp. regarding his reliance upon liberal, destructive criticism in reference to denying the NT's teachings, but his continued rejection of the same kind of criticism of the Qur'an, though, he did make some interesting comments on the Qur'an's use of preceding materials, esp. in response to a question from Dr. Tony Costa). But till then I wanted to note that one video recording has been posted already, for those who wish to listen to the debate (the recording is fuzzy and difficult to watch).
My sincere thanks to the North American Muslim Foundation for opening up their mosque (Masjid Qurtabah) for the debate. I was surprised that we had a predominance of Christians in the audience (I would estimate it was 70-30 in favor of the Christian attendees). The folks had to break out extra rows of chairs to accomodate all those who came to attend the debate. I was treated kindly and with respect, and trust that should the opportunity for future discussions materialize (and we did discuss doing just that) that we would be able to return.
My opening was not a general defense of the Trinity or the Deity of Christ, but was focused upon the thesis statement, "Did Jesus Claim Deity?" Knowing Shabir's fondness for NT redaction criticism (i.e., the theoretical deconstruction of the text based upon the singular assumption that the text evolved over a very brief period of time---a window that keeps getting smaller as more manuscript finds push it back), I gave a presentation that demonstrated that the evidence for the deity of Christ does, in fact, go directly back to Jesus, and that He did, therefore, claim deity. Not only is that anathema to Islam, it is anathema to much of what calls itself Christian scholarship today, infected as it is with the spirit of the age, so I knew exactly what to expect in response. Shabir's presentation was almost identical to that which I had heard while doing a century ride on Tuesday of this week. The cross-examination period was way too short in this debate, unfortunately, but I was able to make most of my points when he asked me questions, or in my rebuttal. The audience questions were, in the main, at least acceptable, if not overly helpful to the determination of the thesis (this picture is of the line of folks waiting to ask questions). Dr. Tony Costa did ask Shabir an important question regarding Shabir's views about the Qur'an's use of antecedent sources, which, as noted above, was quite interesting.
I had great conversions with Christians and Muslims alike before and after the event, including talking to two former Muslims who greatly encouraged me in my work in this area, and one former Roman Catholic who said the Lord used A&O to bring about his embracing of Christ. All in all, a very encouraging evening, to be sure.
Once again, it is my intention to post a vlog going into more detail in response to the debate, esp. in reference to the discussion of "conservative" vs. "liberal" scholars. I think Shabir's confusion on the subject might be a useful means of explaining the issue both to him, as well as to others. Thanks to all who prayed for last night's event!
Today on the Dividing Line
03/20/2012 - James WhiteDid a Jumbo edition early today, as I fly to Toronto tomorrow, and needed to get in an "extended study session" in the afternoon. Tackled some items relating to the politics in the apologetics realm, then continued my response to Adnan Rashid's comments in a February debate, and then switched over the Bart Ehrman from October of 2011. Remember, no DL on Thursday as I will be debating Shabir Ally at an Islamic Center in Toronto, Canada. Back to our regular schedule, Lord willing, for next week. Here's the program.
And don't forget the WayBack Machine, streaming Dividing Lines from 1998 onward 24/7! You can listen on the Flash Player found here.
Early Dividing Line Tomorrow!
03/19/2012 - James WhiteI am headed to Toronto on Wednesday, have a lot, and I mean a LOT, to do before I go, so we will be doing an early DL tomorrow, jumbo edition, starting at 9:30am PDT. Plan on hitting some Bart Ehrman and some Adnan Rashid. So join us!
No Compromise. It is Coming
03/16/2012 - James White
Cerberus, the Trinity Box, and Muslims
03/16/2012 - James White
40 Arabic Words
03/16/2012 - James White
My sincerest thanks to Ivey Conerly, Marcus Pittman, and everyone else who assisted in putting together this spoken word presentation of the gospel for Muslims. Please pray the Lord will spread this video all through the Muslim world and that God, by His Spirit, will draw many to the glorious Lord, Jesus the Messiah. Many thanks to all those who contributed to make this video possible.
Update: many asked how they could get a shirt like Ivey's, so, Carla Rolfe to the rescue! Great way to start a conversation...as long as you know the two texts anyway! Every Christian should have Galatians 2:20 memorized, and it really does not take too long to memorize Surah 4:157. So click away on the graphic and it will take you over to Carla's AOMin webstore...and while you are there, look around at the other items she has done for us over the years! We really appreciate her partnership and support.
Scripture, Inerrancy, & the Role of Reason
03/15/2012 - Jeff DownsPaul Helseth's lecture which he delivered on Tuesday night at the GPTS conference is now online. You can access it here.
Dr Helseth's book can be found here and some sample pages here.
Don't Forget: 3:30pm Start Time for the DL on Thursday
03/14/2012 - James WhiteSince I will be doing a live debate on abnsat.com tomorrow evening at 8pm EDT (ironically, on the same topic of our new video, Surah 4:157), we will be moving the DL up half an hour to 3:30pm PDT (6:30pm EDT). Join us then!
Yet You Are Holy: Thoughts from Psalm 22
03/14/2012 - James White
Today on the Dividing Line: Apologetic Methodology
03/13/2012 - James WhiteAfter a brief report on ministry in Hawaii, I looked at two examples of why apologetic methodology must be derived from sound biblical exegesis and theology, not the other way around. Specifically, I responded briefly to this article by Paul Copan during the first half of the program. Here is the video of that portion:
I noted that others had already responded, including this article.
Then I started looking at a recent Reasonable Faith presentation (YouTube video found here, and the plain audio found here) including this incredible Q&A from a student to Dr. Craig wherein he identifies Cerberus as a possible illustration of the Trinity! Yes, the three headed hound of Greek mythology was the illustration Dr. Craig suggested to the student. I was left speechless as well, I assure you, but, see the video for yourself (time indexed to that specific question). We also tackled a few other questions from the presentation, and will continue our examination in future editions of the Dividing Line.
Here is today's program.
Time Change for Tuesday's Dividing Line
03/13/2012 - James WhiteWe will do the DL live from Phoenix on Tuesday at the regular Thursday time, i.e., 4pm MST, which is now 4pm PDT (thanks to the fact you all messed with your clocks again! I am red-eyeing it home from Hawaii Monday night/Tuesday morning, so, I think I will be a bit more functional for the afternoon time slot than coming straight from the airport for the morning edition. See you then!
Scripture & Seminary
03/12/2012 - Jeff DownsIf the above two topics pique your interest in the least, you will want to tune in live to the 2012 GPTS Spring Theology Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm.
The two evening sessions will be (Lord willing) broadcast live on Sermon Audio. If you click here at 7pm tomorrow, you will hear Dr. Paul Helseth on the topic "Scripture, Inerrancy, and the Role of Reason"; and 7pm on Wednesday, if you click here you can listen to Dr. Joseph Pipa on the topic a "Biblical Rationale for a Reformed Seminary."
Paul Helseth is the author of "Right Reason" and the Princeton Mind: An Unorthodox Proposal. And Dr. Pipa is the president of GPTS and author of numerous books including The Lord's Day
For further information on this entire conference you go click here
On a Personal Note...
03/10/2012 - James WhiteI spoke from 9am to 3pm here in Honolulu today, and then managed to sneak in a very quick ride up the mountain shown here (as seen from my hotel room about three miles away). I really had no idea what I was in for on this ride. I had gotten just over 6000 ft. of climbing in in Hilo, but the steepest grade I hit there was 14%. As you can see from the graphic below, I set a new record for the steepest ascent I have ever ridden, grade-wise, at a whopping 24%. Let me tell you, when you are on a 24% grade, you just keep pedaling, as hard and as fast as you can (which will be quite hard, but not very fast). Pushed my heart rate to within 3 beats of "get ready to head to glory" speed all the time going, "man, coming back down this is really going to be fun" in my mind. Thankfully, I found a windier, less steep way back down (by mistake, I must admit).
On the way down I stopped and took this shot going the other direction toward Waikiki. The weather has been quite unusual, even according to the Hawaiians, with lots of storms and cloudiness. Of course, it is supposed to clear up the day after I fly home, but the weather has indeed been quite interesting since I got to Hawaii.
I would like to sincerely thank Shane Sowers and the folks at Central Baptist Church for making this ride, and, Lord willing and weather allows, one on Monday, possible.
Yesterday's Dividing Line from Hilo, Hawaii
03/07/2012 - James WhiteYesterday I managed to sneak in a Skype-aided Dividing Line from my room here in Hilo, Hawaii. We discussed a variety of issues, including the Sandra Fluke controversy, the wild-eyed attacks on Kirk Cameron for daring to be a Christian in the United States today, etc. Then we discussed the continuation of the Great Evangelical Coverup with another example of how Ergun Caner has to sneak around to speak at willing churches these days. Then we looked at this wild-eyed attack on Reformed theology and in this case, John Piper. Then we took a call on apologetic methodology. Here's the program.
By the way, I've been informed since the program that the "Vox Day" fellow noted above is actually Theodore Beale. His wikipedia page (shudder) notes a few interesting facts about him, but likewise asserts he is an open theist, which would explain the wild, intemperate, and simply heretical language found in the above linked article. If the information is true (and you can never know with wikipedia), it says volumes.
In any case, I will be leaving Hilo in the morning, heading to Honolulu. I have truly enjoyed my time on the Big Island and with the people of Berean Bible Church. I would like to thank the pastor and elders for all their work in putting together the conference, and to those who sacrificed their time to cook and do all the other things that go into these events as well. And to the brother who lent me his bike for the week, many thanks indeed! Today I rode out the Stainback Highway, and took the picture you see here. It just goes up, and up, and up! Where you see the road turning to the left up at the horizon, the grade, according to my Garmin 800 computer, hit 14%! If you aren't a rider, well...that's steep. Managed to get in 102 miles with over 6,000 ft. of ascent over the past few days. I will always remember getting to ride in Hawaii, and truly hope to get back here again someday to tackle Saddle Road!
Live Dividing Line from Hilo, Hawaii Today at Noon, MST
03/06/2012 - James WhiteJoin me for the Dividing Line one hour late today. I can tell you now there may be an interruption along the way, as my Internet purchase will run out sometime around that time, but, we will work our way through it anyway! Join me!
03/06/2012 - Jeff DownsIf you are not aware of the exchange that took place between two giants of the faith, Charles Hodge and James Henley Thornwell, you'll want to listen to this interview with Dr. Nick Willborn. James White gets an honorable mention at the very beginning.
For more on Hodge, this new book will be of interest. For more on Thornwell see his Life and Letters.
Trent vs. Scripture and Tradition on the Priesthood of Believers
03/05/2012 - Tur8infanTrent
And if any one affirm, that all Christians indiscriminately are priests of the New Testament ... he clearly does nothing but confound the ecclesiastical hierarchy ... .
(Session 23, Chapter 4)
Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9-10
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Monday Miscellaneous from the Big Island
03/05/2012 - James WhiteGreetings and Aloha from Hilo, Hawaii--a wet and rather grey Hilo Hawaii at the moment. Just a few Twitter length thoughts this morning.
Kirk Cameron dared to state publicly what Christians simply must believe biblically regarding homosexuality being unnatural (if God defines what nature is, doesn't it follow that if it goes against His creative decree, it is unnatural?) and destructive (the evidence for that is indisputable, both in the destruction of the lives of those who engage in it, as well as the inability of such people to create life naturally). The media elites are gnashing their teeth in response, and we must understand why. As God-hating secularism becomes the norm, we must realize that it cannot stand criticism, and it cannot allow for freedom of any dissenting viewpoints. The Great State must silence all other views. This is the nature of secularism, and history shows us the banishment of free speech and thought is a necessary element of totalitarianism (and you thought 1984 was just a compelling story!). As Christians we remember the words of Jesus, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19). We expect the world's hatred. Those who court its friendship are enemies of God. John also told us, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). God may well be forcibly ripping us away from our love of the world by allowing the hatred of that world to express itself in ever more visible, and painful, ways.
Meanwhile the elitist media has gone forward with airing "GCB," another orgy of in-your-face immorality and reveling in ungodliness bannered under the most outrageous anti-Christian bigotry and insult. Isn't it ironic that this is airing while Western governments stand around in shock, incapable of understanding why their deeply felt apologies regarding accident (and generally irrelevant) Qur'an burnings at a prison have only resulted in Muslims killing more...Muslims, along with others? And the head-scratching at how the militants the West armed in Libya are now desecrating the graves of British soldiers buried there from WWII? "We thought they would be so thankful for our help!" seems to be the politicians' bewildered cry. Meanwhile, how many people lost their lives---indeed, how many Christians killed other Christians---when the same American armed forces purposefully, not accidentally, burned hundreds of New Testaments only a few years ago all in the hope of avoiding offending the same people who are burning, looting, and murdering in the name of Islam today? Welcome to dhimmitude, folks. Get used to the double standard.
Finally, Ergun Caner spoke at a church in Florida this past weekend. When another local pastor attempted to contact the host church's pastor to inquire as to whether he knew of Caner's disgraceful dishonesty, he did not get a response. The church did not advertise Caner's being there, and as with so many other speaking engagements, the recordings of Caner's sermon are handled differently than the "regular" sermons (even this time claiming "technical difficulties"). This is not the first time I have had someone write to me about this kind of situation, and it shows, sadly, that those having Caner in to speak do, in fact, know about his problems, but refuse to address them, and prefer to assist in the Great Evangelical Cover Up.
Well, looking over those few items, it sounds like the end is near! But despair not, brothers and sisters. God is still on His throne, our redemption draws near, the Spirit continues to minister life to us through the gospel, and the Lamb who was slain continues to stand in the presence of the Father, His work just as pleasing, just as finished, just as complete, just as powerful, as ever before. That is our solace, that is our rock, that is the anchor that goes within the veil. There is no power in heaven or in earth that can shake it or frustrate the sovereign God who spoke the universe into existence. Do not look to yourself, your circumstances, or the present situation around us---lift up your eyes, look to eternity, see past this evil age, and rejoice in the truth of God's perfect will.
Concluding Segment of Response to Sam Gipp (Part 5)
03/05/2012 - James WhiteOf course, this was just part 1 of his video series, so...probably more to come!
A Brief Corrective to Dr. Steve Lemke
03/03/2012 - James WhiteGreetings from somewhere between Quizno's and gate B-14. On my way to minister to the saints in Hilo and Honolulu (and hoping to be ministered to as well!). Infamous blogger and channel rat "johnMark" informed me that Steve Lemke of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (and one of those who participated in the famed "John 3:16 Conference" of a few years ago) had made reference to me in a comment found here. Lemke is attempting to substantiate the concept of "belief against the will" as part of Reformed theology. The person to whom he is responding briefly points out Lemke's error in his follow up comment, which says, "Actually they don’t because there is the expectation of God changing the person’s heart. You do not see people forced to believe as they kick and scream in protest." Exactly. Lemke quotes me as follows:
(3) JAMES WHITE — “The doctrine of ‘irresistible grace’ . . . is simply the belief that when God chooses to move in the lives of His elect and bring them from spiritual death to spiritual life, no power in heaven or on earth can stop Him from so doing. . . . It is simply the confession that when God chooses to raise His people to spiritual life, He does so without the fulfillment of any conditions on the part of the sinner. Just as Christ had the power and authority to raise Lazarus to life without obtaining his ‘permission’ to do so, He is able to raise His elect to spiritual life with just as certain a result.”
Note: “no power on earth can stop Him,” “without obtaining his ‘permission,’” “just as certain a result”
First, I am honored to be noted by Dr. Lemke, though, it does strike me as a little strange that he would cite me, since one of his conference co-patriots falsely identified me as a "hyper-Calvinist." Hopefully, Lemke realizes that this identification was, and remains, false. In any case, what Dr. Lemke does not seem to understand about Reformed theology is that God ordains the ends and the means. The ends is the salvation of God's elect. His decree renders their salvation a certainty. But what he seems to miss, as noted by the comment offered in response to his own, is that just as God's grace is irresistible, so the result of that grace (regeneration, the imparting of a heart of flesh after taking out the heart of stone, etc.,) is just as certain. God changes the heart so that my act of faith toward Jesus Christ is the natural result of my changed nature. I am a new creature, not because the old rebel decided to become something other, but because of the resurrection power of God by the Spirit. The very idea of someone kicking and screaming seems a bit ironic, in light of the Reformed insistence upon the deadness of man in sin. Surely the heart of stone contains no desire to be changed, but ignoring the impartation of resurrection life as the means by which a radical change in the will of the elect is effected again presents a fundamentally distorted view of the position Dr. Lemke, and his compatriots, seek to deny.
Response to Sam Gipp: Part 4
03/03/2012 - James White
Old Errors in New Garb: Response Part 3
03/02/2012 - James White
Continued Response to Sam Gipp's Many Errors on KJV Onlyism
03/01/2012 - James White