Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Dear Wide-Eyed Tiber Swimmer:
07/30/2012 - James WhiteI visited the Tiber a few years ago. It was green. Looked disgusting. I imagine there is some bad stuff in that water, and once you get it in your eyes, well, it really messes with your vision. Assuming the best, that you will eventually get that stuff cleared out of your eyes, and your head, I'd like to give you some helpful guidance for that day when you find out things are not quite as advertised in the City on the Seven Hills.
See, once you get your vision back, you are going to discover that the primary appeal that got you to swim the river, that unity thing--well, it's bunk. It's all fiction. It doesn't exist. It is like a puff of smoke: try to reach out and grab it, locate it, and it's gone. Oh, you can find some like minded folks here and there, maybe an entire parish pretty much on the same page, but you can find that on the other side of the Tiber, too. Entire denominations worth. But the fact is, the Big Papa Man speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He has to. He's got lots of folks to keep "in the tent" so to speak. So you can find a huge amount of disagreement over there on that side of the Tiber. Go to those called "theologians" and you will find rank liberalism and heresy on every hand, even on the part of those chosen to sit upon Pontifical councils and the like. It's all politics, it's all power, and everyone knows it. Just pop on into some classes at Boston College, Notre Dame, or any of a thousand other "Roman Catholic" institutions of higher learning across the globe. Get your fill of the liberalism, the unbelief, the questioning of Roman dogmas, the secularism, the women's studies---you name it. It's all there, and everyone knows it. And here's the big secret: Big Papa and his Popettes turn a blind eye. Oh, once in a blue moon they will send the renamed Inquisition after someone, just to throw a bone to the conservatives, but in reality, they know they cannot do what they should to get rid of those folks. And so they keep on teaching, keep on educating, if that is what you call it.
Not only do you have that kind of disunity, but do be careful not to get yourself in between the Dominicans and the Franciscans and the Jesuits and any number of other groups when they start, you know, doing the unity thing. You could end up getting run over! Also---and this is very important---do not ask any of the really big questions, you know, the ones Rome has not figured out yet, despite infallibility and apostolic succession and being able to answer questions nobody ever thought to ask in the first couple hundred years of Church history, like all about Mary's virginity and stuff. Don't ask about predestination and election and that kind of biblical stuff, because, you see, while Rome can have absolute certainty about things like Mary's physical state after giving birth, when it comes to biblical topics, her tradition is pretty shallow. I mean, you'd think after two thousand years she would have found time to infallibly interpret most of the Bible, but, so far, according to lots over on that side of the river, she's only gotten to seven verses, and some folks say she hasn't even started the process! So all that unity and guidance you thought you were going have---sorry, it was pretty much just false advertising. Hope you are not too disappointed.
The 33,000 (Woops, Now 36,000) Denominations Lie Exposed...Again
07/29/2012 - James WhiteTyler McNabb, a former Protestant who has decided to do the "cool thing" and apostatize, has shown he is to be taken as anything but serious by including in his "why I converted to Romanism" announcement the following statement:
The principle of sola scriptura is not only self-defeating but the consequence of this doctrine is the creation of over 36,000 denominations.
[Note: Mr. McNabb, after posting this, edited it, without notation, removing the specific number, and instead replacing it with this:
The principle of sola scriptura is not only self-defeating but the consequence of this doctrine has had a large impact in the creation of over thousands and thousands of denominations.Note the change from directly asserting sola scriptura created over 36,000 denominations with "has had a large impact" in the creation of "thousands and thousands of denominations." Obviously, Tyler knows he cannot defend the 36,000 number. He knows it's a lie. But---where's the retraction and acknowledgement of the truth?]
I had to roll my eyes when I read this. It is so fallacious, so fully refuted, and has been for so long, that whenever you find anyone---Tim Staples, John Martignoni, Patrick Madrid, Steve Ray, and the wide-eyed Tiber Swimmers like Mr. McNabb---repeating it, you are listening to someone who simply should not be taken seriously. They are either dishonest (like Ray), or so shallow and cavalier on the matter of truth that they are willing to repeat anything in the service of Mother Rome. To find something like this in someone's conversion story (note, again, not a conversion story to Christ, but to Romanism, which itself says a great deal) reveals a lot about the level of study they have done and hence gives you a good basis upon which to judge the "weight" to be assigned as well. I may take the time to examine this statement on the DL on Tuesday, we will see. But, once again, to make sure everyone knows that the 33,000/36,000/whatever number the Romanist comes up with/ is a simple lie without defense, see here and here for full documentation.
Response to Jason Stellman
07/25/2012 - Tur8infanJason Stellman has officially announced his intention to join the Roman communion at the "Called to Communion" blog. However, in the meantime, that post has been removed. It's unclear why it was removed, but the following are comments on the post that was put up on July 24, 2012.
Part of me has wished for a while now that I was born early enough to have been a fan of The Clash back in the Seventies. The first song I ever heard by them (several years after its release) was their cover of Sonny Curtis’s hit, the chorus of which goes, “I fought the law, and the law won.” Despite being a fairly law-abiding guy, I can relate to being on the losing side of a battle, only mine was not against the law, but against the Church.
I do agree that Jason has lost a battle. Abandoning a church of the Lord for Rome is always a loss. But the war is not over for Jason. He has the opportunity to repent of this error and return to Christ.
As many of you know, I recently resigned from my pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church in America (you can read my resignation letter here, as well as some clarifying posts here and here). My stated reasons for stepping down were that I could no longer in good conscience uphold my ordination vow that as a PCA minister I sincerely accept the Westminster Confession and Catechisms as containing the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture. More specifically, I no longer see the Reformed doctrines of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide as faithfully reflecting what the Bible teaches, which is why I will, Lord willing, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church sometime in the next several months.
a) Stellman's ordination vows (assuming his were typical) also included a vow of subjection to his brethren in the Lord. It is unclear whether Stellman intends to fulfill this vow by submitting to the discipline of his presbytery, or not. While it is commendable that he eventually fulfilled his vow to alert presbytery to his changed views, such obedience is only partial fulfillment of his vows.
b) It is interesting that Jason seems to premise his change of position on his private judgment regarding what Scripture teaches. However, if Jason actually joins the Roman communion, he will be required to give up his private judgment of Scripture.
c) It's an obvious non sequitur to deny Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide and consequently say, "Rome!" Even if Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide were wrong (which they certainly aren't), it wouldn't follow that Rome is right. Rome is defined by a lot more than just rejection of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. Moreover, there are plenty of religions beside that of Rome that reject those doctrines. Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, and many others could be listed. ...
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The Dizzying Effect of the Tiber on the Mind
07/24/2012 - James White
More specifically, I no longer see the Reformed doctrines of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide as faithfully reflecting what the Bible teaches, which is why I will, Lord willing, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church sometime in the next several months.
Let's ponder this a moment. Scripture never directs us to a higher authority than God's own voice, and identifies itself as theopneustos, God-breathed. Scripture tells us we are justified by grace, by faith, and by the blood of Christ, and that works can never justify. But...that is not what the Bible actually teaches.
What does it teach? It teaches about an infallible Magisterium, and the bishop of Rome; it teaches about an oral tradition no one can identify but which existed outside of the Bible (and, in the case of the Marian dogmas, outside of---everything); it teaches about transubstantiation in all its Aristotelian glory, a never-perfecting sacrifice of Christ, propitiatory sacrifices overseen by men called alter Christus ("another Christ"), purgatory, satis passio, (the suffering of atonement in purgatory), indulgences, and the whole range of Marian dogmas and corollaries including de fide definitions of beliefs utterly unknown to the Apostles or the first ten generations of Christians. Yes indeed, that's what the Bible teaches because, of course, once you lose confidence in the Word, well, the Word becomes the slave of whatever authority you submit yourself to. And Rome has said it, therefore, that's what you are to believe.
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:Now remember, that's unclear. We can't really know what it means, or trust what it says. We need an infallible interpreter, which has instead given us these clear, compelling and truly apostolic words:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
(Romans 4:3–8 ESV)
1. The doctrine and practice of indulgences which have been in force for many centuries in the Catholic Church have a solid foundation in divine revelation which comes from the Apostles and "develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit," while "as the centuries succeed one another the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her."That is from Indulgentiarum Doctrina, a post Vatican II document defining, and defending, the doctrine of indulgences. I challenged Jason Stellman to read it. He hadn't when we met. I'll be honest, I sorta doubt he took up my challenge. Not that reading this kind of stuff will dissuade someone who has lost their foundation and are grasping for anything, but for most folks, these words are sufficient warning of the emptiness of Rome's non-gospel. They are so plainly non-apostolic, so plainly contrary to everything the Apostles cherished and proclaimed, that to believe them is to show, clearly, the true direction of one's heart. But, in any case, when you hear a wide-eyed Tiber Swimmer talking about how the Bible doesn't teach sola fide, remember that what they are really telling you is that you can't know what the Bible really does teach, and that what you should believe is what you just read from Indulgentiarum Doctrina. And once you realize that, well, you realize what Romanism really is.
For an exact understanding of this doctrine and of its beneficial use it is necessary, however, to remember truths which the entire Church illumined by the Word of God has always believed and which the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, and first and foremost among them the Roman Pontiffs, the successors of Peter, have taught by means of pastoral practice as well as doctrinal documents throughout the course of centuries to this day.
2. It is a divinely revealed truth that sins bring punishments inflicted by God's sanctity and justice. These must be expiated either on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and calamities of this life and above all through death, or else in the life beyond through fire and torments or "purifying" punishments.
Thus is explained the "treasury of the Church" which should certainly not be imagined as the sum total of material goods accumulated in the course of the centuries, but the infinite and inexhaustible value the expiation and the merits of Christ Our Lord have before God, offered as they were so that all of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. It is Christ the Redeemer Himself in whom the satisfactions and merits of His redemption exist and find their force. This treasury also includes the truly immense, unfathomable and ever pristine value before God of the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, who following in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by His grace have sanctified their lives and fulfilled the mission entrusted to them by the Father. Thus while attaining their own salvation, they have also cooperated in the salvation of their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.
Dear Jason: the Church Won? You Didn't Even Throw a Punch, My Friend
07/24/2012 - James WhiteJason Stellman just announced his defection to Romanism in these words:
More specifically, I no longer see the Reformed doctrines of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide as faithfully reflecting what the Bible teaches, which is why I will, Lord willing, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church sometime in the next several months.Just a few weeks ago I leaned over and looked Jason in the eye. He was sitting on the couch in my office, a matter of feet from where I am sitting right now. I'm sure he noted with some humor my lava lamps, which would have been directly behind me as I spoke. "If you are going to Rome, go all the way. Mary, Popes, the whole nine yards. Then debate me on it." He laughed.
As I sadly read the above cited words I could not help but shake my head. Jason knows the Apostles did not teach what Rome teaches on so many things. He knows there wasn't a single person at Nicea who believes what Rome requires him to believe de fide today, and that he has to buy into a massively complex, easily challenged house of philosophical cards to keep the Roman authority system standing. I do not understand what drives the kind of agnosticism about the authority of God's Word that has driven him into a system that offers no peace and no finished work of Christ. He refused to defend Romanism when we talked, he only wanted to pose hypotheticals that Rome has no meaningful answer to. But in any case, I can report with honesty that I gave it to him straight: if he went to Rome, he was abandoning the gospel, abandoning his call, abandoning all that is good and right and just and true, for a man-made system of endless penances, alter Christi, non-perfecting sacrifices, satis passio, and enough mythical dogmas about Mary to make the devotees of the Queen of Heaven blush. It will not satisfy, it will leave him empty and forlorn, once that initial "honeymoon" phase is over. When he sees it from the inside, when the glow of the New Convert Syndrome wears off, he will see he has accomplished nothing outside of the destruction of his own ministry and the trust others had placed in him. It is sad to see, but he will have to testify: I warned him clearly, and without compromise. I even asked him, "Has anyone else spoken to you with as much passion?" "No" was his reply.
Immature Christians are often troubled by conversion stories like Jason's. Look! A minister joined Rome! Look, another joined Islam! Another became a Mormon! Look how many have left the faith and become agnostic or even atheist! There must be something wrong! Such immaturity is borne out of an ignorance of the context of the early Church. The little epistle of First John shows us that even during the days when the Apostles still lived, apostasy was rampant. Opposition was everywhere. False teachers flourished. And the young Christian body could see, out there in the fellowships of the anti-Christs, those who had once stood with them and made a profession of faith. Has Christ failed? Is the Gospel without power? No, the problem here is a false assumption: that it is God's intention for the church to ever live in ease, without opposition, without false brethren and false teachers to battle, without persecution from the world, and tribulation within. No one who seriously reads the NT literature would come to that conclusion, but sadly, that is the idea many have. John told the young believers,
They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.There is a reason for apostasy: "so that it would be shown that they all are not of us." The gospel drives out the hypocrite, the false professor. In fact, if hypocrites and false professors are comfortable in your church, then you have a good reason to question whether the gospel is being preached with clarity and power. Christ knows His sheep. They hear His voice. They do not listen to a man who claims to be the Vicar of Christ, who arrogantly allows himself to be called "Holy Father." They are satisfied with His Word, which is why false teachers tirelessly seek to inculcate dissatisfaction and distrust in the Word. That is how they get the false disciples to follow them. And we see it happen every day. We should expect to see it happening every day. It is a fulfillment of God's Word.
(1 John 2:19)
For more on 1 John 2:19: