Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Another Mighty Eclectic Dividing Line!
08/04/2009 - James WhiteA wide ranging program for your listening enjoyment and edification today, to be sure. Started off with Tim Staples on purgatory and idulgences; went on to some Gail Riplinger zaniness; took a call on 1 Timothy 2:1-7; finished up going a few minutes over to cover claims made by Shabir Ally in a debate in South Africa recently. Here's the program.
Dr. James White on Justification and the Uniqueness of Christ
08/19/2009 - Tur8infanOne of Dr. White's speaking engagements while in Australia was to give a talk on Justification and the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ. While I am told that a YouTube video may follow, you can get the audio now at the following link (link). That site has a handy embedded player. If, however, you'd like to just download the mp3s, the links are (part 1)(part 2).
Enjoy to your edification!
01/01/2005 - James WhiteAs you can see, I'm investing some time in properly working through the published comments of Dave Armstrong. Two quick notes:
1) The Greek font I generally use is from BibleWorks, and is available for download and installation here (this includes the Hebrew font as well). In a recent article I used the Mounce font, which does not seem to be available any longer. It used to be at www.teknia.com, and the free font avialable there may work acceptably well.
2) The replies Armstrong is posting on his blog are simply amazing. The most recent brought back up his "I can't find anyone with sufficient artistic skills to match Angelz so I'll 'borrow' his stuff again" activities. Deep, very deep. I'm glad the issue is larger than Armstrong, and the review more useful than just demonstrating his errors. :-)
A 90 Minute DL Today!
12/17/2009 - James WhiteWe will be starting the DL half an hour early today (pre-feed at 3pm MST, 5pm EST, program at 3:30) so I can cover the entirety of the interview just recently posted with Dr. J. Ligon Duncan on why he signed the Manhattan Declaration. I want to play as much of the interview as I can, and interact with it, hopefully to the edification of a wide variety of fellow believers. I seek to plead for a proper balance in the examination of this vital topic. While I do not believe the document, as written, should be signed by anyone who holds firmly to the centrality of the Gospel as the sole means by which we can change the hearts and minds of men and women, I likewise do not believe it is at all proper to accuse men like J. Ligon Duncan or Albert Mohler of being "ashamed of the Gospel" or otherwise seeking to subvert the gospel message. I think Dr. Duncan gave a clear explanation of why he signed it, and I will continue to disagree, but hopefully by allowing him full expression of his position (which also came about because the interviewer, Pastor Kevin Boling, did such a good job) we will be able to further delineate the issues, suppress some of the less useful criticisms coming from both sides, and really identify the central issues that should be of concern. I hope you will listen in!
Yesterday on the DL
02/23/2007 - James WhiteWell, evidently, I answered all possible questions on textual criticism, or, bored the world to death with that series, so we moved on to listening, sort of on the fly, to last weekend's sermon by Johnny Hunt in which he once again did the "here's the template, we are all going to keep repeating this, without modification, without accuracy, and without responding to the refutation of these claims, until we have driven every biblically-literate person from our midst" thing that is starting to mark an entire spectrum of Southern Baptist ministers. I pointed out that this kind of "believe what I say but don't expect me to develop my position consistently" preaching leaves those who are exposed to it as their own source of edification dangerously under-developed and incapable of responding to the apologetic issues of the day. Eventually we took some calls, one of which was, in fact, on a textual critical issue (the fact that the LXX version of Jeremiah is about 1/3 shorter than the MT version). Here's the program (free/high quality).
And On a Completely Different Note
06/25/2006 - James WhiteI spoke three times on Sunday at PRBC. In the Sunday School I began addressing Frank Page's book on Calvinism. In the Sunday morning service I began a series on baptism, continued in the evening service, specifically looking at the texts in Acts used to promote household baptism as normative. Yes, this relevant to, and in preparation for, the October 19th debate with Pastor Bill Shishko on baptism up on Long Island. No, I don't have the details of the location yet. All I know is, Bill is my brother (he even admits I'm his!), this is a debate between two Christians that will be undertaken in the bonds of Christian love, a shared commitment to the Lordship of Christ, and the edification of God's people. And for that reason, I am looking forward to it. For those who do not know Bill Shishko, he is the pastor of the Franklin Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Long Island, and has moderated the past number of Great Debates on Long Island. He has been greatly appreciated for his ability to keep things running on time and without delays. He will be a great debate partner even though we will be adversaries in this context. Anyway, I've been listening to his presentations and debates on baptism, and hence am addressing the same issues in my sermons. When these pages are updated, you will find the Sunday School lesson here, and the sermons here.
Is William Webster Telling The Truth?
04/03/2007 - James SwanI received a private message over on the Catholic Answers forum informing me William Webster was being accused of lying about the edition of the Bible called the Biblia Complutensia which contains a statement from Ximenes, Archbishop of Toledo, against the canonicity of the apocrypha. This Bible was published by the authority and consent of Pope Leo X. The assertion of Webster's lack of truthfulness reads:
"I hate to admit this but I think Webster's assertions are wrong. I found a book about Cardinal Ximenes, Pope Leo X and the Complutensian Polygot. It was on Questia com. From what I read there is no preface condemning the Apocrypha books. What Pope Leo does condemn are pseudo-Apocrypha books. But who really knows... perhaps the Vatican isn't telling the truth (maybe they fudged the real documents). After all the Vatican has all of these secret documents (I tried to check some of them out on the Vatican web-site) that the average person isn't permitted to read."This was the first time I've come across such as assertion. If this is indeed the case, I would have to ask this person to explain this statement from the preface of Ximenes:
"The books which are without the Canon, which the Canon receives rather for the edification of the people than for the establishment of ecclesiastical doctrines, are given only, in Greek, but with a double translation."
If pseudo-Apocryphal books are meant, this is equally as awful for the Roman Catholic dealing with the historical record. Well, this is not what is meant. Ximenes meant the apocryphal books.
Regarding Theological Dialogues
12/29/2004 - James WhiteIn the "olden days" theological dialogues took time. You might receive an article, or a book, from someone who lives far away, addressing your own views/publications. No one would expect you to respond the day you received it. In fact, everyone would expect that time would pass before a response would be offered. It was not only expected, it was fully understood, given the technology of the day.
I'm not sure technology has helped us in this area. Fast theology is not always good theology. Take the current discussion between myself and Eric Svendsen. I purposefully did not respond to the initial discussion regarding the extent of the atonement (even though specific statements were made that contradict my own published position). I waited. People would ask, "So, are you going to respond?" I would say, "Yes, in time." And you could just tell, "What, in time? What's wrong, White? He must have refuted you! You must be struggling to come up with a reply! You are in trouble!" Etc. and etc. Now, I know in a live debate, as we saw in the Presidential debates last month, that long pauses are not good. In reality, long pauses should mean nothing. But we all know they do, in a live debate, especially when the majority of those viewing it are not judging on the basis of substance, but on the basis of appearance. You have to be able to think on your feet and speak with clarity and speed. But in a written discussion of something as sacred, as weighty, as vital (and as little discussed) as the atoning work of Jesus Christ, speed is not of the essence. Clarity, accuracy, and above all, fidelity to the Word, is what matters. Indeed, my own reason for engaging the discussion is the edification of the people of God who read and appreciate what both Eric and I produce. And I do not see that speed is helpful or good in this situation. I think taking our time will make the conversation considerably more useful to all concerned. Such may well be best for almost all such conversations. Quality over quantity and haste.
Monday Miscellaneous--From Detroit
08/16/2010 - James WhiteSettled in at my hotel in Detroit (found a Target, found Subway, have skim milk and Kashi cereal, as well as a good Internet connection---life is good). I think doing four live "Jesus or Muhammad" programs on ABN will be sufficient for the week (as well as speaking at the God and Culture Conference this weekend), so I don't intend to attempt to do any DLs while here. Instead, here is the schedule for the live programs, which you can see either on satellite, or live on line at www.abnsat.com.
Pray for the recorded programs too, where we will be addressing a wider variety of issues. Those programs will be played at various times on ABN, and will have a wide impact as a result. Pray for clarity of thought and expression, and that the Spirit would bless our efforts this week to the edification of His people and the salvation of the lost.
This is an interesting story out of Saudi Arabia. I get the feeling that the last cited cleric would not be a lot of fun to debate.
Finally, if Barry Lynn had not proven to you that the "United Church of Christ" has gone far, far beyond the label "apostate" to the reality of active opposition to all that is true, godly, and faithful, this article should finish the job. I do pray God will vindicate His truth and close the mouth of false teachers, and in a way, He is doing so. The "mainline denominations" are vanishing before our eyes. Even the secularists can recognize a fake when they see one. But there is one "Reverend" I would dearly love to debate. The cross-examination period would be most…educational.
Ah, one last "thank you" to all who not only helped with Ministry Resource List items, but who have given toward my travel costs as well. I couldn't take advantage of these wonderful opportunities of ministry without your help and partnership.
More on the Depravity of Western Culture
08/04/2010 - James WhiteIt's a packing day…headed to New York for a weekend of ministry. I look forward to seeing the saints there, and I hope and pray my efforts will be useful to their edification.
I almost wrote an article about the Proposition 8 case last night, but held off, knowing that it was most likely that a Federal Judge in San Francisco, of all places, would not uphold basic morality or a worldview that has any godliness to it. I wasn't disappointed, as the decision just came down. Of course, it will be appealed…to the 9th Circuit (oi vey), and then, obviously, to the Supreme Court. This is just one step in a long process of overthrowing our Christian heritage and setting our culture on an inevitable collision course with the wrath of a holy God. It will be hard to bear the rejoicing of the ungodly over this decision, but we should realize that we see the signs of the degradation of the West all around us.
I read with sadness this article last week. Once again the maxim that corrupt judges are part of God's wrath is seen with clarity. But what is more, these corrupt legal decisions flow from an even more corrupted cultural core, a core that seeks to express its hatred of the holiness of God, and especially His revealed law. The dogma of the West is now firmly opposed to any God-centered morality, and if you wish to possess the affirmation of the culture in the form of an educational degree, you need to bow to the supreme authority of the secular worldview, especially as it touches key elements, such as the moral goodness of homosexuality (in the perversity of this view). We have known for a long time that you cannot obtain the world's approbation for your work in certain fields of science without bowing to its holiest dogma (naturalistic materialism), and the same is becoming the case in other areas. These cases are becoming more and more frequent, and once legal precedent is established, we will need to have even more serious discussions concerning the role we must bear in nations and a culture under the judgment of God. Time to dust off that Old Testament and start looking at the "remnant" passages.
The Catholic Verses: Introit
12/29/2004 - James WhiteI sometimes feel sorry for ancient artists. Their work gets plastered all across the covers of modern books, but they never get a dime for their efforts. It's a shame. That odd observation aside, I picked up a copy of Dave Armstrong's The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants (Sophia Institute Press, 2004, 235 pp.), which sports said ancient art (a di Bondone painting) on its cover. I'm a Protestant, and I have yet to be confounded by Dave Armstrong, so I thought it might be interesting to invest some time in using it as a resource here on the blog.
Likewise, I was listening to a debate between a Church of Christ minister and Bill Rutland, another Roman Catholic apologist, yesterday. I was fascinated by Rutland's bold assertions about the Greek language (I'll be addressing him in time). When RC apologists like Armstrong and Rutland promote arguments in their writings and debates that are, in fact, invalid, we have a duty to respond to them, even if we have, in fact, responded to similiar kinds of errors dozens of times in the past. Why? Because the folks you may be seeking to win to the gospel may have a copy of The Catholic Verses on their nightstand, or a CD of Rutland's in their car.
Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall win the award for brevity and concise expression, and let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage. Thankfully, there are folks "in channel" who can help me find out if there is, in fact, anything at all of substance in said replies, and if there is, I will seek to note it, again for only one reason: the edification of the saints both in their confidence in the gospel and in their preparation for the task of proclamation.
So we will begin with one of the classic passages in the Catholic/Protestant debate: 2 Thessalonians 2:15. I will start there in the next installment simply because Armstrong notes The Roman Catholic Controversy in his book, hence, his section on the verse should "confound" my own exegesis of the text. Does it? We shall see.
Bill Webster Responds to Gary Michuta, Part III
04/01/2007 - James WhiteThe Teaching of Major Western Theologians of the Middle Ages
The perspective of the Glossa ordinaria is reflected in the views of the most influential theologians of the Church throughout the Middle Ages. They separated the Apocrypha from the canon, consistently citing the Hebrew canon and Jerome as authorities. Bruce Metzger affirms this reality:
Subsequent to Jeromes time and down to the period of the reformation a continuous succession of the more learned Fathers and theologians in the West maintained the distinctive and unique authority of the books of the Hebrew canon (Bruce Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (New York: Oxford, 1957), p. 180).
A thorough documentation of the views of the Western theologians of the Church from Jerome to the time of the Reformation can be found here.
The majority view is that expressed by Cardinal Cajetan (Tommaso de Vio Gaetani Cajetan), the great opponent of Luther in the sixteenth century. Cajetan wrote a commentary on all the canonical books of the Old Testament which he dedicated to the pope. He stated that the books of the Apocrypha were not canonical in the strict sense, explaining that there were two concepts of the term canonical as it applied to the Old Testament. He gave the following counsel on how to properly interpret the decrees of the Councils of Hippo and Carthage under Augustine:
Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage (Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament, In ult. Cap., Esther. Taken from A Disputation on Holy Scripture by William Whitaker (Cambridge: University, 1849), p. 48. See also B.F. Westcott A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (Cambridge: MacMillan, 1889), p. 475.
This is a fair summary of the overall view of the Western Church from the Middle Ages to the sixteenth century. Jerome's opinion dominated. ...
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Who Was One Of The Best Scholars at Trent, And What Did He Think Of The Apocrypha?
12/28/2007 - James SwanFor Roman Catholics, the Council of Trent made the official pronouncement on the canon of Scripture, and in that pronouncement determined the apocrypha was sacred Scripture. What criteria did Trent use to determine which books of the Bible were canonical? Some of the answers I’ve been given are, "Trent did not determine the canon, they simply reaffirmed the canon," and "The Holy Spirit determined the outcome of Trent by His presence among this infallible council."
I’d like to take a look at the second answer. Now, is the Holy Spirit another way of saying “the majority vote”? If so, where does this precedent come from? Does “the majority vote” go against the opinions of the best scholars at the Council of Trent? What if those who were considered some of the best scholars on the canon at the Council of Trent thought the apocryphal books were not Scripture?
There was a group of scholars at the Council of Trent that were considered fairly knowledgeable on this issue. One particular was Cardinal Seripando. The Roman Catholic historian (and expert on Trent) Hubert Jedin explained “he was aligned with the leaders of a minority that was outstanding for its theological scholarship” at the Council of Trent.
Jedin is worth quoting at length:
“[Seripando was] Impressed by the doubts of St. Jerome, Rufinus, and St. John Damascene about the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, Seripando favored a distinction in the degrees of authority of the books of the Florentine canon. The highest authority among all the books of the Old Testament must be accorded those which Christ Himself and the apostles quoted in the New Testament, especially the Psalms. But the rule of citation in the New Testament does not indicate the difference of degree in the strict sense of the word, because certain Old Testament books not quoted in the New Testament are equal in authority to those quoted. St. Jerome gives an actual difference in degree of authority when he gives a higher place to those books which are adequate to prove a dogma than to those which are read merely for edification. The former, the protocanonical books, are "libri canonici et authentici"; Tobias, Judith, the Book of Wisdom, the books of Esdras, Ecclesiasticus, the books of the Maccabees, and Baruch are only "canonici et ecclesiastici" and make up the canon morum in contrast to the canon fidei. These, Seripando says in the words of St. Jerome, are suited for the edification of the people, but they are not authentic, that is, not sufficient to prove a dogma. Seripando emphasized that in spite of the Florentine canon the question of a twofold canon was still open and was treated as such by learned men in the Church. Without doubt he was thinking of Cardinal Cajetan, who in his commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews accepted St. Jerome's view which had had supporters throughout the Middle Ages.”
Source: Hubert Jedin, Papal Legate At The Council Of Trent (St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), pp. 270-271.
“For the last time [Seripando] expressed his doubts [to the Council of Trent] about accepting the deuterocanonical books into the canon of faith. Together with the apostolic traditions the so-called apostolic canons were being accepted, and the eighty-fifth canon listed the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) as non-canonical. Now, he said, it would be contradictory to accept, on the one hand, the apostolic traditions as the foundation of faith and, on the other, to directly reject one of them.”
Source: Hubert Jedin, Papal Legate At The Council Of Trent (St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), p. 278.
Jedin also documents a group of excellent scholars that stood against “tradition” as being on the same level of authority as scripture:
“In his opposition to accepting the Florentine canon and the equalization of traditions with Holy Scripture, Seripando did not stand alone. In the particular congregation of March 23, the learned Dominican Bishop Bertano of Fano had already expressed the view that Holy Scripture possessed greater authority than the traditions because the Scriptures were unchangeable; that only offenders against the biblical canon should come under the anathema, not those who deny the principle of tradition; that it would be unfortunate if the Council limited itself to the apostolic canons, because the Protestants would say that the abrogation of some of these traditions was arbitrary and represented an abuse… Another determined opponent of putting traditions on a par with Holy Scripture, as well as the anathema, was the Dominican Nacchianti. The Servite general defended the view that all the evangelical truths were contained in the Bible, and he subscribed to the canon of St. Jerome, as did also Madruzzo and Fonseca on April 1. While Seripando abandoned his view as a lost cause, Madruzzo, the Carmelite general, and the Bishop of Agde stood for the limited canon, and the bishops of Castellamare and Caorle urged the related motion to place the books of Judith, Baruch, and Machabees in the "canon ecclesiae." From all this it is evident that Seripando was by no means alone in his views. In his battle for the canon of St. Jerome and against the anathema and the parity of traditions with Holy Scripture, he was aligned with the leaders of a minority that was outstanding for its theological scholarship.”
Source: Hubert Jedin, Papal Legate At The Council Of Trent (St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), pp. 281-282.
January 21, 2009, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: Can the New Testament Be Inspired in Light of Textual Variation? James White vs. Bart Ehrman
01/29/2008 - James WhiteThere is probably no more pressing apologetic concern than the constant attacks upon the veracity and integrity of the text of Scripture. And no one is more central in the current attacks upon the New Testament than the chair of the department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, author of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture and the NY Times Best-Seller, Misquoting Jesus, Dr. Bart Ehrman. Dr. Ehrman has been moving more and more into full and open opposition to the Christian faith, and his next book, due out mid February, makes this clear. It is titled, God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer. Clearly Ehrman is moving beyond his field of study (textual criticism) with a title such as this.
On the Dividing Line today I played clips from Christopher Hitchens, author of God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, singing the uncritical praises of Ehrman's work as the final word on the scholarly front, followed by citations from Islamic sources who likewise use Ehrman as their chief modern resource for attacking the Christian Scriptures. As a result, there is simply no greater addition we can make to the cause of Christ in apologetics than to debate Bart Ehrman as a part of our 2009 National Conference. We will be joining other ministries in presenting the topic, "God's Faithful Word in an Unbelieving World."
First and foremost, pray that God will be pleased to bless the debate, all the preparations, and most importantly, the result, to the edification of His people, all to His glory and honor. Pray for the ministries involved, and most of all, plan on being with us for the debate, our conference, and the cruise to the Eastern Carribbean. The debate is January 21st in Ft. Lauderdale (details at the links above), the conference and cruise is the 22nd through the 29th. Make plans to be with us now at this important event!
Islamic Apologetics and New Testament Transmission (#4)
12/16/2004 - James WhiteA brief installment as we continue our response to an Islamic apologetic attack upon the integrity of the canon and transmission of the text of the Bible. Our writers continue to sow seeds of doubt by making reference to canonical discussions at the time of the Reformation. It is very interesting to note how you can misuse a scholarly source by summarizing it inaccurately (something that was done to me just today by a "scholar" as well...more on that later). What you do is pile a few quick statements on top of each other, referenced, of course (unless you are Dave Hunt, anyway), all to create an illusion of overwhelming factual evidence. This is a common form of argumentation, one that is often successful simply because few of us have the time to look up all the references. So, our Islamic writers say, "Zwingli, at the Berne disputation of 1528, denied that Revelation was a book of the New Testament." So, I checked their source, which, thankfully, sits upon my shelf. The actual citation reads,
Likewise, Zwingli's denial of the Biblical character of the Book of Revelation was the result of contemporary controversies growing out of what to his eyes was an eruption of pagan superstitions at Einsiedeln. When he condemned the invocation of angels, he was shown the angel in the Apocalypse causing the prayers of the faithful to ascend to heaven with the smoke of incense (Rev. viii. 3-4). Subsequently at the Berne Disputation (1528), Zwingli declared that the book is not a Biblical book. Thus, as was the case also when Eusebius denigrated the Apocalypse because of the excesses of the early chiliasts who favoured this book, Zwingli allowed a purely ad hoc consideration to sway his judgement concerning the character of a book otherwise widely regarded throughout the West as canonical. (Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, p. 273).
One can see that Metzger is talking about the reasons why Zwingli questioned the book, and, in that context, it is an interesting example. But it hardly provides a meaningful basis to the hoped for conclusion that in reality the canon of the Bible was in a state of wild confusion and flux as late as the Reformation. Neither Luther's inability to see the harmonious nature of James or Hebrews as to their testimony to justification, nor Zwingli's dislike of the eruption of strange beliefs at Einsiedeln (similar to Luther's dislike of the Zwickau prophets) could possibly overthrow God's purpose in the establishment of the canon for the edification of the church. This is why I included a rather full discussion of the theological nature of the canon in Scripture Alone (chapter 5). I would recommend it to the reading of all interested in this particular subject.
An Escapee From the Playground
03/13/2007 - James WhiteSometimes I just sit here at my desk staring at my screen when Rich forwards some of the e-mails we get. The Internet creates "thugs," bullies with a lot of hot air but zero substance who thrive on acting out their childhood playground fantasies from behind a keyboard. Almost every group has them, sadly. I've run into KJV Only types like this, Muslims (Nadir Ahmed is a good example, and his followers), Mormons, you name it. And here's some kind of Oneness type guy who just wrote to me. I normally would not even finish reading a childish taunt like this, but some folks in the church today think Oneness denials of the Trinity really do not matter and we should all just "get along." So here is Terry's taunt, and my brief response below.
Hello Dr. White, My name is Terry and I think you are taking alot of lost souls to hell with you. This trinity doctrine you preach is from the devil himself. If you want to debate doctrine then you can find me on the trinity board CARM.org since no trinitarian will debate on my board unless you are not scared then I will be glad to host the debate. My board address is http://tonguespeker.proboards81.com/index.cgi? or we can have it at Forums.delphiforums.com/goldblack/messages which my friend Bob Caplinger runs. I do believe that the debate you had with Bernard was unfair because noone would let him speak when he wanted to. And he still beat you hands down. I would love to see you debate Hicks or Bayer or even Hanby and Blume.Anyways my friend Bob Caplinger is dieing to debate you. He will hand you your lunch befor it got started. Well are you going to take the challenge or run with your tail between your legs like all the other Trinitarians do on the internet. Matt Slick has already been defeatedby Bob Caplinger and I. I think Cohen Rehckart has defeated him also, your next. Step up or get out.Well, Terry, your kind note has provided me with a chance to illustrate the kind of tactics false teachers such as yourself utilize on the Internet. Let me likewise clear up your obvious confusion.
I have challenged Dr. Bernard to debate. I have offered to come to his school and debate before his students. He has consistently declined my challenge. Aside from a few radio programs, which were not debates, we have not debated at all, so what you are talking about I cannot begin to tell.
Secondly, your words communicate such a massive spirit of arrogance and hostility it is obvious to me you are not interested in a debate. You want a food fight, a screaming match wherein you are only interested in one thing: consolidating your small following of folks who will cheer you on no matter what you say, or how badly you are refuted on a biblical, historical, or logical basis. Now, if that is why you engage in polemics, I gladly leave you to it. That is not why I debate. I debate for the glory of God, the edification of God's people, and the salvation of the elect God draws unto himself. I am irrelevant, which is why I find your taunts and bullying pathetic. The only folks who are impacted by such playground tactics are folks who, like you, have the wrong reason for engaging in polemics anyway.
By the way, "get out"? Get out of where? Your taunt does not even make sense.
Further, sir, anyone with a modicum of respect for the subject of how God has revealed Himself in Scripture, and how He desires to be worshipped, will never enter into such a discussion with someone who begins with the kind of attitude you have displayed. I do not fear you, I fear God, and I will not drag his truth through the mud so that you can stroke your ego. Consider well your ways, sir.
A Balanced View of Church History and a Blessing in the Philippines
01/09/2009 - James White
Interestingly as a flaming Pentecostal, I was not hesitant to accept this strange system of doctrine called Reformed Theology when I encountered it on your site. While your debates on Calvinism served to fortify my already strong conviction of Calvinist doctrine (I had been 'converted' before by some other Calvinist teachers). It was your love for Church History that dragged me into loving to listen to your debates and the Dividing Line. It was my dipping into Islam and Romanism at one point to see if they had any valid claims to being the replacement of Christianity or true Christianity, respectively. Now, I'm a recovering Pentecostal who affirms God's absolute sovereignty and literally LOVES Church History. The difference is that through your site, podcasts and debates I can now balance Church History with a proper theology and doctrine of Scripture. God bless you. (And Rich too, I guess ;) )
I often hear you mention London and US but do you know that even in Asia (in the Philippines) your ministry has been used by God? I am grateful to have bought your book "The Roman Catholic Controversy". Your ministry has been used by God to straighten my views and become a 5 point Calvinist (though I never like this terminology to the biblical view of salvation). It has been 3 years now since I've accidentally accessed your web page. The debates are great! Yet, it also reminds me that debates is not the end all activity but merely the beginning of a life long study for the truth. It is my prayer that more than the information, argumentation and refutation of false doctrines; the Holy Spirit will use such intellectual grounding into a deeper relationship and walk with God among Christians.
You have encouraged me to study the Scripture deeply. More than studying, to walk with the Lord in a committed way. I praise the Lord that He used your ministry to inspire a young corporate auditor to love Greek and Theology. I could not imagine how corporate controls and governance theories blend with soteriology, Trinity and etc. But the Lord works in very mysterious ways! I said to myself, "I would rather be an expert in the things of God and about His love and character than be an expert in the things of the world that tomorrow fades away." May the Lord bless your ministry greatly and may he cause you more to be humble because our God is using you for the edification of His people. When the time comes that God will pass on the torch to the next generation, I pray that people like me who heard the Gospel will walk your walk and face the errors that christians and non-christians hold with boldness in public debates or personal engagements. May we never be ashamed as you provided as an example to not be ashamed of the Gospel.
You will not be alone in your ministry as you stand in the pulpit delivering your opening, rebuttals and closing parts. There are a lot of us who join you in our own pulpits in the corporate world who stand for God and a commitment for truth. As you do your God given task, we will also do our assignment and God will knit together our efforts for His glory. But, Dr. White, we don't have the luxury of time to go in the libraries and read theological books as much as you do. So, at times, God prompt us to read AOMIN for some resources and validate the information through our own research. May the Lord continue to provide you the strength, vission and passion to share your gift to the church even here in Asia. God bless you richly... all of you in AOMIN!
The Sydney Atheists Visit Me on My First Night
08/16/2009 - James WhiteI would generally never schedule an event the same day as a trans-Pacific flight, but this time around I was to speak on "Why Otherwise Sane People Say They Actually Know Jesus" at St. John's Ashfield Anglican Church twelve hours after landing. Though I was feeling "OK," those who have traveled large distances know how you often feel "just half a bubble off," a little slow on the uptake, or as I describe it, "fuzzy brained." So I was just praying I'd be clear in my speech and hopefully encourage some of the brethren. Duncan Lockard, one of the two young university contacts who, along with David Ould, have arranged my time here in Sydney (Gerard O'Brien being the other), gave me a ride to the church. We talked with Andrew Katay, the senior minister before the service. Originally some discussion had taken place about taking some questions after my presentation, but that idea had been dropped, and I was just to give the evening sermon as a regular part of the normal service. So I was ready to do that when immediately before the start (I'd say within sixty seconds) Andrew informed me that a group from the Sydney Atheists were in attendance and that they wanted to ask questions.
So, during the opening music I re-arranged my presentation as best I could to shift it from "edification of believers only" to "that plus lay a foundation for talking to members of the Sydney Atheists who are in attendance." This is where being fuzzy brained does not help, as re-arranging sermon texts and points during music immediately before you speak is generally to be left to those who are clear of mind, to be sure. But, I made the switch, and once I opened it up for questions, the first, and last, came from the atheists down toward the front. The first was on how the Bible had been used (or abused) in the past to support various beliefs that we today reject, to which I responded, as I did in my debate with Tim Staples more than thirteen years ago, that the abuse of a sufficient source is not an argument against the sufficiency, or in this case, the inspiration, of said source. I emphasized the need for consistent exegesis based upon sola scriptura and tota scriptura. Then at the end another of the atheists, who was wearing an 'A-Theist' t-shirt, but who had been listening closely, asked about what I had said about man suppressing the knowledge of God (Romans 1:18-20). "What does this spiritual element look like, and how is it that even the most open minded skeptic can look at the same data you look at, and not see the evidence of God?" I focused upon the contradiction of the phrase "open minded skeptic," reminding him of the example I had used earlier of pots and dishes claiming they have no maker. I emphasized that if we are, in fact, the creations of God, the very idea of "open minded skeptic" is incoherent. I then discussed the fact that the spiritual element of man cannot be separated out from the rest of man's created nature. Why do some never see? I pointed out that regeneration is a gift of God's free grace, and that it cannot be demanded of God. I had to be rather brief, but it definitely made for an interesting evening.
I am uncertain how news of my visit made it to the Sydney Atheists, but after the service I was certainly encouraged to visit with a number of Australian brethren who all said the same thing: they listen to the Dividing Line and find it very edifying.
So in just a few hours I will be at Sydney University for the debate with Abdullah Kunde. I don't feel overly fuzzy brained this morning, so Lord willing a good nights rest will allow me to think clearly when the interaction begins.
Of Air Guitars and the Way International
10/07/2008 - James WhiteI will briefly summarize how Alpha & Omega ministries helped change the direction of my life to the glory of God.
As the end of my college career approached, I was unsure about my future and even more doubtful of my Christian beliefs. I was recovering from a serious drug habit, and also still grieving the loss of a best friend who took his own life due to his own drug addiction. My despair only deepened as I tried to enroll in church again in some attempt to fix myself. Growing up in a traditional Christian home in the religious climate of the South, I was implanted with the deep roots of fideism - the lackadaisical kind that doesn't encourage deep study of the Scriptures but instead "just taking it by faith and living a good life."
Well obviously I hadn't lived a very good life; even though I professed faith at a young age I had steered dangerously off course during college. During that time of reckless living I was introduced to a lot of arguments against the Bible and the existence of God. As I tried to go through the motions of church for a second time, it was obvious that there were many complex intellectual questions about Christianity. There must be more to this than just having faith; indeed, who is the object of this thing called faith? I remember praying one night for God to grant me wisdom and discernment because I just wanted to know the truth about Him so that I could truly love and serve Him. Conviction from the Holy Spirit didn't come right away, but at the advice of C.H. Spurgeon I continued to pray for the Holy Spirit's presence. I knew Christ had died for me, but had I really thought the implications of it through or was my decision of youth misdirected? Oh the joy of an answer from the Lord!
A few weeks later during a conversation with my pastor about Bible translations, I was loaned a copy of The King James Only Controversy. I had mentioned Gail Riplinger to him (after seeing a video about modern Bible translations), and apparently he had already read this book. I read through it carefully, and literally had the roof of my worldview blown away. Dr. White's concern for bringing clarity and truth to the Scriptures was something I had honestly never encountered in all my years of sitting in church. Had God really communicated propositional content to man so that we can know things about mankind, the world, and most importantly God Himself? Looking back, I know God was preparing me for what was to come.
Needless to say, after finishing the book I purchased an NASB study Bible?ok so that part is really a coincidence but it's a funny one!
Later that year it was time to find a job, and I decided to roll the dice and accept an offer that would relocate me from Virginia all the way out to Boise. The Lord's providence is truly amazing. I found a church there, and befriended a slightly older guy named Drew. He had been raised in a group called The Way International, which denies the deity of Christ. During a conversation, Drew mentioned that he really came to know Jesus as Lord for the first time while reading a book called The Forgotten Trinity. When he told me the author's name, a little light bulb went off; was this the same James White? Eventually, Drew and I became roommates so that he could save money for his upcoming wedding. Just picture a philosophy major and a computer geek sitting in the living room playing air guitar and singing to the Dividing Line intro music! Yup, pretty scary huh?
It's been a year since all those wonderful things came to pass, and the Lord continually motivates me to learn and apply His truth. I am passionate about theology and apologetics, and in addition to learning basic Greek in my spare time I am planning on going back to school to study the Bible in greater depth. I owe so much to Alpha & Omega ministries; the edification provided by your debates, books, and podcasts is simply beyond measure! Praise God from whom all blessings flow, and thank you guys for all your tireless effort in proclaiming and defending the Gospel.
08/09/2006 - James WhiteIn case some of my readers were wondering what kind of response my reply to Jerry-Jet received, I must sadly report that the level of response was...not encouraging. Just a few representative samples:
Notice folks--all you have to do is quote from the Bible and Jesus' own words and it strikes Satan so hard that he tries to trot out all the big time LIARS with MORE lies and even tries to dress them up as being THEOLOGIANS or EXEGETES or use big words and say that the plain words of Jesus and the Bible mean things OPPOOSITE of what they say.
Jesus said to EAT his Body and DRINK His Blood or you do not have life in you.
Jesus doesn't LIE.
The people who do not obey his command and CHOOSE to not EAT His Body and DRINK his Bood are the real liars.
I'll tell you this: if you want to eat crackers and drink grape juice with them you can do it in Hell--the Eucharist is never served there!
Tell me Oh protestant agents of Satan--why does your beloved King James Version of the Bible say in 2 john 7 that Jesus IS COME in the flesh and refer to the Eucharist and NOT change the words and LIE by changing the tense to AS COMING in the flesh to refer to Jesus' incarnation?
King James agreed with the Douay Rheims--what's the matter--is King James not a BIG enough liar for today's Protestant? I guess not--the NIV crowd changes TRADITION in the Bible where it is referred to as something we should hold fast to to TEACHING. Tradition is only used in that version of Protestant LIES in conjunction to the traditions of the pharisees where it is used in a negative light.
The Greek word for both is the same--but what do the Protestant LIARS care? They're bound and deternmined to LIE even more than King James.
They LIE about Mary--she isn't highly favored she is even more than FULL of grace--it's just that that's about as close as you can get to the Greek in English.
The Protestants who do not know these things are indeed our separated brothers--the people who do know better are agents of Satan and are no better than all the heretics for the last 2,000 years that just fail to OBEY the authority of God!
Message to all the Protestant LIARS forums out there: be prepared to deal with the Fullness of Truth that resides in the Catholic Church! Many of your Protestant posters will ask you questions in angst once they hear the truth--LIE all you want to--the REAL Bible doesn't LIE but the people who CLAIM to believe in Sola Scriptura are selectivists, rewriters of the bible and most definitely LIARS!
Jesus never debated the Devil--why should Art debate White?
There is no debate with liars. White will not listen to the Church--why would he listen to anybody else? He should be treated as a publican and a sinner!
Ironically, I do not see anyone, even Roman Catholics, replying to Jerry-Jet, and surely no one scolding him for his behavior. Maybe he's a "known entity" there? Maybe they just sort of ignore him? Hard to say. But in any case, that's about as deep as the response got. I guess we should not be overly surprised. As others in that thread have noted, while they are sure I am wrong, and probably a mean, nasty fellow--neither have they taken the time to actually read any of my works completely, or listen to the debates we have done with leading Roman Catholic representatives. The bias would be embarrassing in any other context, but given the closed nature of the system, the folks there just don't seem to see it.
By the way, in reference to Sippo's melt-down last year, here is the documentation. And for those who only read the blog but who haven't sort of dug into what else we have on the website, you might find this listing useful if you are looking into Roman Catholicism. I looked over my report on my debate with Tim Staples in 2000 on Papal Infallibility and actually enjoyed remembering various of the details. Lots of stuff like that is available for your enjoyment and edification.
Even before posting this, Jerry-Jet has provided more "response." Just a sampling:
All Sola Scriptura is is LIES on to of LIES!Yes, well, doesn't look like Jerry-Jet is quite yet to the point of being able to consider other viewpoints fairly. Well, we hope and pray!
I haven't yet gone into an ENCYCLOPEDIC discussion LINE by LINE and WORD by Word about how such people are liars and how the truth is not in them!
I will say this: I find it curious that someone like myself is assuredly isn't a great theologian can just speak a few words about the FULLNESS of Catholic truth and receive the response that has been received here.
Since I've been here we've had the BIGAMIST Lutherans who believe in NAZI biographers--we've had GEOCENTRISTS who deny the whole world's common sense--we've had the Creationists clothed as Catholics when they're REALLY Protestants--and now we get part of James White's cadre of Satanists.
Baptists and Calvinism: An Open Debate
08/03/2006 - James WhiteA Public Statement
Since February 27th of this year, plans have been underway to schedule a debate on Baptists and Calvinism. Drs. James White, Ergun Caner, Emir Caner and Tom Ascol initially agreed to participate in this event which was scheduled to be held at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia on October 16, 2006. Over the last five months, efforts to negotiate the terms of the debate at times degenerated into heated, antagonistic exchanges between the four participants. In both speech and tone too much of the communication has been perceived and/or characterized by sinful attitudes that have not honored the Lord Jesus Christ. We acknowledge our responsibility in this and deeply regret that we allowed it to happen. Each of us longs to represent Christ honorably and our intent is to conduct further negotiations in ways that will do so.
Through ongoing communication out of the public eye we have come to terms regarding the debate. It remains scheduled on October 16th and will involve all four of us. The topic will be, "Baptists and Calvinism: An Open Debate." The length will be three hours. The format will be modified Parliamentary. The place will be Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.
We are committed to engaging in a debate that will highlight the significant differences that exist between our respective views of how the Gospel of God works in bringing salvation to sinners. We believe that such debate can be conducted in a lively, vigorous exchange that need not violate the standard for Christian conduct that God has given us in His Word. Our goal is to do exactly this. The issues on which we disagree are important. It is because of our love for Christ and His truth that we believe these issues are worth debating. However, we regard this as a fraternal debate and intend to approach it not as antagonists, but as brothers with strong disagreements.
To that end we are asking those who have followed the issues surrounding this debate to join us in prayer that the Lord will guide us as final preparations are being made and that He will help us to conduct ourselves in a manner "worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Sincerely in Christ,
My thoughts: Tom Ascol has commented briefly on his blog, so I thought I'd add a few thoughts myself. Those who know me (and I speak of a small number of folks, really) know that I am passionate about the truth and that I debate not out of a love of controversy (I fully understand the desire Calvin had when heading for Strassbourg prior to his providential encounter with Farel) but because I believe it is necessary and God has called me to the task. I have never, ever wanted this debate challenge to be anything other than intra-mural in nature. Just as I am looking forward to my exchange with Pastor Bill Shishko within the bonds of Christian charity and brotherhood, so I have always hoped that no matter how strongly the two sides feel on the topic that this, too, could be handled in the same context, with a common confession of faith in the resurrected Lord and in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures. I have repeatedly expressed my heart-felt desire that our focus be on the people of God and their benefit, their edification, and I truly hope that we have now come to a position where this common goal will take us through any other difficult issues that need to be faced over the next few weeks before we stand before the folks at the Thomas Road Baptist Church and discuss this vital issue.
I would still like to encourage folks to avoid traveling to attend this debate. Why? Because it is primarily designed for students from Liberty University. We cannot guarantee entrance to the debate should there be a healthy turn out from the student body. This debate will be recorded and made available in DVD, CD, and mp3 formats. Tom and I will be discussing the debate at the conference in Orlando less than two weeks later. Instead, if you wish to support the on-going ministry of engaging in God-honoring, truth-displaying debates, click here! And then pray for Ergun, Emir, Tom and myself, that on the 16th we will be able to have a God-honoring, edifying, brotherly exchange on the truly vital issues that center around the issues of monergism and synergism, how to understand the expression of God's love, the atonement, etc.
Some First of the Week Notes: More on the Beckwith Situation
05/07/2007 - James WhiteThese things go in waves, don't they? Especially when it comes to Roman Catholicism. Well, better to address the issues openly, demonstrate that we do so for consistent and biblical reasons, and provide, by our refusal to engage in the same kinds of behaviors common in our critics, that dedication to the truth honors God and edifies the saints.
Well, let's see. Paul Owen has demonstrated his utter inability to even pretend to be unbiased in joining in the ridiculous "outrage" that I would dare to make public mention of Dr. Beckwith's reversion to Roman Catholicism. I long ago stopped worrying about what Owen thinks, but the level of dishonesty to which he has sunk in recent years is lamentable on any level. Note just this one absurd line from his comments on the situation: "Nor would a frowning Reformed Baptist congregation which spends every waking hour contemplating the beauty of TULIP (especially the “L”) be very attractive to these great saints of old." The only way you could possibly write such a line is either you are 1) desperately disconnected from reality, or 2) you are desperately dishonest. I'll let Owen's history speak for itself at that point. Every generation needs its Alexander the Coppersmith!
Ironic, isn't it, that Patty Bonds is back on the scene at a time like this. I had gotten word that she was going to be on The Journey Home again a few weeks ago (oh, am I not supposed to mention that, either? Am I "outing" someone again? It is so hard to know!). Whether this will be a repeat of the program from years ago, or a new one, I do not know. For those interested in the story, here's the information.
Then we were informed that over on the Catholic Answers Forums they have posted a "poll" using my direct words in my opening statement on sola scriptura from 14 years ago against Patrick Madrid, but without telling anyone who wrote those words. So far, the large majority say it is an "accurate" statement of the doctrine. I wonder how the poll would have been impacted by having my name attached to my own words?
I was asked by a Roman Catholic today if I had followed Matthew 18 with Frank Beckwith. Uh, no. Frank Beckwith was not a member of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. I had, and have, nothing personal against Frank Beckwith; there is no matter of personal sin between us, which, of course, is what Matthew 18 is about. This question, together with Owen's rhetoric, once again shows how most people see these issues as personal things, when they are not. My reason for noting the reversion was simple: I knew this would once again raise the issue of the gospel, the sufficiency of Scripture, and would require the faithful to once again speak the truth in love in defense of the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints.
Now, let me be quick to add something that will once again result in howls from the post-modernists who have little concern about truth and honoring the God who gives is: if the church Dr. Beckwith has left has the courage of its convictions, they will place him under discipline. I do not know what kind of church he was a member of, if he was a member of a church at all. But if the New Testament means anything at all, or has authority and is normative for our practice---confessing the faith, and then denying it, is grounds for discipline. This should have been done in the case of Mrs. Bonds, but to my knowledge, was not. It should be done now out of obedience to Scripture in reference to Dr. Beckwith. I can assure you, beyond all question, that anyone who was a member of a Reformed Baptist Church that uses the London Baptist Confession of 1689 would be placed under discipline and, barring repentance, excommunicated, for such an action. The post-modernist cannot understand this. The post-evangelical cannot either (since they have almost never seen the church exercise discipline for any reason, let alone a doctrinal one). But the honor of God's truth, the health of the church, and the edification of the saints, requires that those who go out from us be marked as such. The reason this probably won't happen is simple: very few alleged "Protestants" today actually believe converting to Roman Catholicism involves a denial of the gospel. I surely believe it does.
"Oh, that is so unloving!" No, believing otherwise is. You do not show love for God by subjugating His law and His will to man's whims. You do not show love for Christ and His gospel by allowing it to be trampled underfoot without result. You do not show love for God's Word by pretending it is not clear enough to address what the gospel is, or what we should do about apostasy. You do not show love for God's people by modeling for them a lack of concern for the purity of the body or obedience to the Word. And finally, you do not show love for Francis Beckwith by allowing him to think that such a profound abandonment of justification by grace through faith, the finished work of Christ, the imputed righteousness of Christ, the sufficiency of Scripture, etc., can be engaged in without the people of God calling him to repentance and, should he not do so, making a clear statement that he stands opposed to what he once professed. It is this final reality, which requires a belief in the objective truth of the gospel, that scandalizes so many post-modernists today. But the honest hearted reader knows I am speaking in perfect accord with the New Testament itself.
Theology, Morality, and the Caribbean
01/16/2010 - Tur8infanA reader named Charles wrote in with the following comments:
My question is, isn't following Christ following his morality. I have read plenty of your arguments but why don't we ever discuss morality. Who cares about theology if the morality is flawed. God isn't going to test us on our understanding of the 2nd Council of Carthage or Martin Luther. I am not arguing this solely against your website, but against any apologist website that puts emphasis only on words and not on actions. We would all be blessed to put our polemics aside and work to make this planet one that truly reflects God's wishes. Of course, I suppose the argument would lie on what is morality, but that's why we have the Bible...right? Anyways, I don't agree with everything you have on your page but your heart seems to be in the right place. I suppose I would challenge you to defend Christian morality rather than Christian theology. After all, my Lutheran friends are rather offended by your theology. haha Let's find common ground.Theology matters.
On the one hand, it is good, proper, and necessary to preach about morality. On the other hand, without proper theological foundation, emphasis on morality easily becomes legalism. But to get right to the basic question, we do address both Christian morality (example from Dr. White) and Christian theology (of which you're already well aware).
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
From A Special Ops Soldier Overseas
10/03/2008 - James White
Dear Dr. White and Mr. Pierce
I am currently serving in the Army in the Middle East on my third tour (fifth, if you count pre-9/11 deployments). I am in a special ops unit and in my job, I travel extensively around the country and interact closely with the local population. As a result, I am not able to attend church very often while I am deployed. I rely heavily on books and my iPod to provide me with Christian teaching, encouragement and a steady diet of biblical exegesis during these times. It can be very difficult to resist discouragement and bitterness when you are cut off from the public means of grace and Christian fellowship for a long time while simultaneously dealing with friends and acquaintances who are killed or severely wounded in the line of duty. I've seen up close and personal the horrors of what the Islamic religious/political dream of a society really looks like in a real world situation. I'm not talking about the war, I'm talking about the day to day life of rank and file Muslims and the brutality which I believe to inherent in the Islamic worldview. It is truly disheartening to see western, secular liberals falling all over themselves to accomodate and frantically bow and scrape before Muslims in an attempt to appease them. They can never be appeased except through Islamic dominance and dhimmitude of all other peoples. They are engaged in a strenuous effort of delusion and self-destruction of Western civilization.
But that is not why I wrote this email. I wrote to let you know that your work has had an incredible influence on me ever since I became a Christian while in drill sergeant school in the mid-90's. The articles, books, tapes and now, iPod broadcasts have provided me with the tools I need to be confident and encouraged in my Christian walk and have called me back to a life of holiness when tempted to stray over and over again. As a direct result of your ministry, I've had the opportunity to debate Roman Catholic students while in college and grad school, engage in countless street evangelism ministry opportunities, teach Sunday School classes (using videos of your debates as examples of how to engage various viewpoints), and engage in evangelism to Mormonism and Catholics (the communion in which I was raised). I once helped lead a team to Nauvoo, Illinois during the dedication of the temple on the site of the original to hand out tracts and talk to Mormons. Your book "Letters to a Mormon Elder" and "The Potter's Freedom" were required reading for those who wanted to attend during the train-up classes (as well as the Westminster Confession of Faith and, of course, copious Scripture). I don't take pride in any of this because I was merely following what I felt was your example in trying to be consistent with my professed faith in Jesus Christ, which is the example of the Reformers, the early Church Fathers and of course, the apostles. I'm only an unprofitable servant, doing what little I can do. I only tell you this because I want you to know what an impact Alpha and Omega ministries has had on my life.
Your book, "The Potter's Freedom" was instrumental in leading me out of the church I was converted into (Plymouth Brethren) into the PCA. I was licensed to preach in the PCA and am currently serving as an elder in my home church....My wife is Reformed, my Christian friends and family always get your books as gifts, and my children are being catechised daily using the WSC during family worship. I've been strongly convicted by your ministry of the need to present a consistently CHRISTIAN apologetic for the faith when I interact with unbelievers, and I have labored to study men like Bahnsen, Van Til, Reymond and other presuppositional apologists. When dealing with cultists and false religionists, I've been strongly convicted by the demand to be honest and fair in knowing and accurately presenting my opponent's position, which has led me to read and study Mormon Scripure and publications, the Quran, and Catholic Magesterial publications As a lay preacher, I fear the day I will stand before God to give an account for what I have taught others and I know I can always count on my worn out James White books when I cover texts you have exegeted.
Now I don't want you to think that I only rely on you. I read the Puritans, Dabney, Calvin, Luther, Knox and Edwards as well as well as many others. But if I had to point to one ministry that has most affected my very small and feeble efforts to minister to the people of God and labor in the Word, I would without hesitation point to Alpha and Omega ministries. You have been a strong encouragement to me and a strong rebuke when I am tempted to be lazy or lax in my Christian walk. I pray for you and your ministry, your family and your health. I am so glad that you have started engaging Islam and have done so by learning Arabic and studying the original sources. Your recent work has been very helpful in witnessing to Muslims I come into contact with while over here. If you ever wonder who you are reaching or if you have made any real impact, then please rest assured that for me and those around me, your work has been tremendously used by God in changing people's lives and equipping us for the work of the ministry, for the edification of the Body of Christ.
I hope to be back home in North Carolina by the time the "Truth War" conference kicks off in Durham, and I pray that I will be able to attend. I'm sure you will receive tons of emails like mine and will not remember this one. But that's OK. I would like to simply shake your hand and thank you for your labors. God bless you and your elaborate staff (that's a joke, by the way).
Forget this one? Hardly, this one is in my "top ten." I pray God will preserve your life and allow us to meet next month.
A Response to "SolaSaint" on the Puritan Board
09/19/2011 - James WhiteThe following was posted to the Puritan Board today. I would like to respond to it:
I have been listening to the Dividing Line by James White lately and I have found him to be overly harsh with many who don't line up with him theologically. I really like him and his stand for the truth and in the past have always enjoyed his apologetic approach but he really seems to blast some of the top apologists in Christianity when they don't line up with him exactly. He blasted William L. Craig last week for a comment made in jest about a debate opponent becoming a Christian. He roughed up Michael Licona this week on his new book on the Resurrection about using non cannonical literature. He has really bashed Giesler lately and I agree with him on standing up to him, but he is really taking it to an extreme by using harsh rhetoric. Poking fun at Giesler an Caner won't win too many to the faith or the cause of apologetics.
Don't get me wrong, I'm an apologist and I do like James White but I think he is the one being unbiblical lately in his attack of other Christians. We don't need to bash each other but come in love and edification. I know White has tried to get Giesler to reply and I'm not sure where he is at with that, but when is it right or allowable to get ugly with anyone, especially a believer?
Anyone have an opinion either way on this. Am I wrong or has James gone a little too far?
Dear Mr. SolaSaint:
I am amazed that you can give consideration to the issues I have addressed regarding men such as William Lane Craig, Mike Licona, Ergun Caner and Norman Geisler, and put them all under the rubric of simply "not lining up with" me "theologically." Please allow me to set the record straight. These are not matters of minutiae, irrelevancies of interpretation. As most know, I do not in any way, shape, or form, focus upon such things. Let me demonstrate from the examples you yourself provided.
First, William Lane Craig was not jesting with his atheist opponent. He was being perfectly serious in suggesting that his opponent become a Christian "who simply doesn't believe in inerrancy." Can you make heads or tails out of such a suggestion, sir? What was Craig asking him to do? Believe Jesus died and rose from the dead solely on the basis of the "greater probability" of the event from a historical perspective? What if his opponent then asked, "But, even if I believe that, what does it have to do with me…and don't answer by reference to the Bible, since, of course, I don't believe it is a divine revelation to begin with." What then? Given the context of the debate, was it not obvious that having this as the final statement made by Craig that night communicated very clearly that the authority, accuracy, and consistency of the Bible is very low on his list of apologetic priorities? Do you think this was a wise way to end the debate? Do you think it is wrong to point this out and discuss it and point to a better way? Why is it "harsh" of me to do so?
Second, if you believe I was criticizing Mike Licona for making reference to non-canonical sources, you completely and utterly missed the entire point of my examination of his book. But first, did you notice I was actually reviewing what Licona wrote? Is that permissible? Or is it "harsh" to review books that are in the public domain? How many others actually took the time (as I have done) to both exegete the relevant text (Matthew 27:51ff) and to read Licona's entire section from his book? I did not criticize him for using non-canonical sources, of course. I said I did not think the Greco-Roman parallels he provided match up to the text in Matthew 27. There is a major difference, obviously. I further indicated that the Old Testament citations he raised were not contextually linked either. So you have simply misunderstood my entire discussion of that subject, and I would direct you to the blog article I posted on the topic, and to a re-listening of the program for a corrective of your misapprehension.
Next, I began responding to Norman Geisler's viewpoints, primarily on Reformed theology, eleven years ago. My replies have been fair, and thorough. Geisler's response has been neither. Have you read the incredible appendix he wrote for his second edition (which, thankfully, was removed from the third edition)? In any case, that is not the issue any longer. The issue now is Geisler's taking the lead in perpetrating a cover up in the evangelical community, a cover-up of monumental proportions, a cover-up that has no substance. Do you agree that Ergun Caner lied in making up the story of his alleged expertise in Islam and his being trained in jihad, born in Istanbul, etc. and etc.? If so, have you seen repentance from Caner? Or do you see him speaking at apologetics conferences around the nation with Norman Geisler, still speaking on the subject of Islam? Are you involved in witnessing to Muslims, sir? If so, how can you not see the continuing damage Geisler and Caner are doing, with the willing if silent assistance of so many "apologists" in the "discernment community" who sit quietly for fear of the power Geisler wields? Are you amongst those who say "Well, it is just time to move on," as if sweeping such things under the rug is a viable option?
Norman Geisler knows what he is doing here. His engagement in the Licona dispute shows that he is more than capable of quickly responding to challenges to his position. And yet he has remained obstinately unwilling to admit his own errors and his role in covering for Ergun Caner for over a year. Do you think we should just be silent? Let it all blow over? I mean, who really cares if the Christian community refuses to deal with such dishonesty with openness and integrity? It's just the Muslims we are talking about anyway, right? Well, sorry, but that is not an option for me. And yes, it has been very, very costly to my ministry and to me personally. But I do not see compromise on matters of ministerial and biblical integrity to be an option just because it might make a few more people "like" me. The names we remember from church history are not of the compromisers, but of those who stood for the glory of God and the truth of the gospel, whatever it cost.
You may not like the idea of a "What About Hadith 2425?" t-shirt. That's fine, you don't have to buy one. But what have you done about this situation? Have you called for Caner's repentance? For Geisler to come clean and answer the questions he knows he cannot answer? What would you be willing to do? Anything at all?
Many think using any humor at all in light of the silence of the perpetrators of the Great Evangelical Cover-Up is wrong. So, if I use humor I'm harsh, if I don't use humor I'm even harsher. Seems like I'm in a no win situation! So let's just forget about it and…do what? I am still in the arena dealing with Islam. I do not have the luxury of closing my eyes and ears and pretending all is well at Veritas Seminary. That is only for those who do not have to worry about standing before Islamic apologists while seeking to bear witness to the truth.
A Few More Thoughts on the SBC Inquisition
11/26/2008 - James White
In a matter of weeks I will be engaging Bart Ehrman on whether textual variation precludes the possibility of inspiration. It will be a vitally important debate, one that I hope will be of tremendous benefit to the entire body of Christ. And though I have no reason to think Dr. Ehrman is spending a lot of time focusing upon my position, I surely am focusing upon his. Hence, I have extensive reading and studying to do over the next number of weeks. I trust our regular blog readers will keep this in mind, and pray for me as I prepare for this vital encounter. [By the way, there is still room for you to join us for the debate, and even the cruise!].
I will continue my response to David Allen on Tuesday of next week. I must admit I am grieved by this whole situation. I know there are some who live for "blog conflict" and the like. I am not one of them. When I engage in controversy I try to do it for the sake of the furtherance of the truth of the gospel and the edification of God's people. I must admit, I am sick and tired of those who seem utterly intent upon promoting a narrow agenda, one-string banjo players who seem to have little else to do in life but to pluck their very limited number of notes.
In any case, this entire "he's an X" "no, you're a Y!" childishness makes me ill. Evidently, for a whole group of folks, the idea is this: hyper-Calvinism is dangerous (it is). Therefore, anyone with a higher Calvinism (one that seeks internal consistency in theology and exegesis, and does not find a lot of comfort in "antinomy" and "mystery") than these folks is to be stigmatized as a "hyper-Calvinist," even if they have shown, demonstrated, and proved their balance as a churchman, evangelist, preacher, theologian, or apologist. In the process, men of old who said and taught great things are harangued and attacked without the slightest effort to distinguish between the good and the bad in their writings and teachings. It is even to the point that if you interpret particular texts in a particular way, you are "hyper," even when those using these terms are utterly incapable of even attempting to prove you have mishandled the texts. It is amazing, and it is sad.
It was mentioned in my chat channel yesterday that, ironically, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) addressed this sixty years ago. Evidently, they did not have to identify those who disagreed with Murray as "hyper-Calvinists" back then. Too bad their maturity is not possessed by all today. (Click here for the article).
I guess the best way to refute the false accusations against me is not by playing the "my expert defines it this way" game. It is by simply living a balanced Christian life, demonstrating that the accusations are vacuous, and those making them little more than troublers of the body of Christ. Let the reader mark them out now and ask a simple question: what will they have accomplished ten years from now? Let time attend to the witness chair.
In any case, I did wish to briefly comment on the abuse of the historical sources that David Allen utilized. He claims to have a huge Puritan library, and I don't doubt that he does. He chided folks for not reading original sources. Yet, it seems to me that his presentation was massively dependent upon...secondary sources, in particular, as he himself stated, Tony Bryne and David Ponter. This comes out especially in his attempt to enlist Jonathan Edwards in the cause of denying particular redemption. It seems highly likely to me that Allen pulled the single citation he read on the topic directly from Tony Bryne's blog, where it appeared back in May of this year. It is a single citation from The Freedom of the Will.
From these things it will inevitably follow, that however Christ in some sense may be said to die for all, and to redeem all visible Christians, yea, the whole world, by his death; yet there must be something particular in the design of his death, with respect to such as he intended should actually be saved thereby. As appears by what has been now shown, God has the actual salvation or redemption of a certain number in his proper absolute design, and of a certain number only; and therefore such a design only can be prosecuted in any thing God does, in order to the salvation of men. God pursues a proper design of the salvation of the elect in giving Christ to die, and prosecutes such a design with respect to no other, most strictly speaking; for it is impossible, that God should prosecute any other design than only such as he has: he certainly does not, in the highest propriety and strictness of speech, pursue a design that he has not. And, indeed, such a particularity and limitation of redemption will as infallibly follow, from the doctrine of God's foreknowledge, as from that of the decree. For it is as impossible, in strictness of speech, that God should prosecute a design, or aim at a thing, which he at the same time most perfectly knows will not be accomplished, as that he should use endeavours for that which is beside his decree.
Please don't ask me how anyone can read this and find universal atonement in it. I truly do not understand it, for it is clearly Edwards' intention to emphasize the specific purpose of God in the salvation of the elect. But this is not the first time I've encountered folks who can read phrases like "a particularity and limitation of redemption" and think it is actually saying the opposite. Traditions die hard. I would direct anyone to read the conclusion of Edwards' treatise (from which the above comes: in the eye-strain edition of Edwards' works, it is page 88 of volume 1) and see if it was his intention to give aid and comfort to the viewpoints of David Allen.
I wrote to a published Edwards scholar and inquired as to his opinion. He responded that it is very obvious that Edwards held to particular redemption, and noted in passing two texts indicating this.
This is certain, that God did not intend to save those by the death of Christ, that he certainly knew from all eternity he should not save by his death. Wherefore, it is certain that if he intended to save any by the death of Christ, he intended to save those whom he certainly knew he should save by his death. This is all that was ever pleaded for. (Works of JE, Vol 13, Yale UP, 1994, 211).
"Now can we suppose that Christ came down from heaven and went through all this upon uncertainties, not knowing what purchase he should get, how great or how small? Did he die only upon probabilities, without absolute certainty who, or how many, or whether any should be redeemed by what he did and suffered?" (ibid, 212).
Now, Dr. Allen seemed to want to fault modern Calvinists for not reading original sources. He also assumed we would all be shocked at what he was saying. I found that more than a little condescending, to be perfectly honest with you. It seemed hard to avoid the conclusion that he was accusing Sproul and Piper and MacArthur and Dever of being either ignorant or dishonest...or both. And though he had the temerity of accusing me of being a hyper-Calvinist, he didn't show the slightest familiarity with The Potter's Freedom, let alone the arguments it presents regarding particular redemption. In any case, it seems to me that Allen pulled his assertion about Edwards (which he presented with great flair and showmanship) directly from Byrne, and that without examining the context. Which seems to be the very thing he was busily faulting the rest of us for doing.
Well, as always, such situations as this one give us an opportunity to grow and learn. As such, we should be thankful for them.
A Further Response to Gary Michuta and John Betts on 1 Esdras
04/23/2007 - James Swanby William Webster
In the articles I posted on the status of 1 Esdras and its relationship to the Councils of Trent and Hippo/Carthage, there have been 3 main responses to which I want to give a brief reply. The first response has to do with Gary Michuta's assertion that Trent passed over 1 Esdras in silence, the second is the charge that I am misleading people about the preface to the Biblia complutensis and the third is a response that John Betts, a Roman Catholic apologist, wrote some time ago to what I have written on 1 Esdras and which is now being used by other Roman Catholics such as Art Sippo, who states, "My good friend and Catholic Apologist John Betts has written an essay that deals with this and literally puts the matter to rest DEFINITIVELY" (Found here).
1. Gary Michuta has stated categorically that Trent passed over 1 Esdras in silence and therefore there is no contradiction between Trent and Hippo/Carthage. But such an assertion is clearly untrue. Trent has spoken quite clearly. 1 Esdras is not canonical. Nowhere in the official list of canonical books is 1 Esdras to be found. The only books that are canonical are those listed by Trent. This is just obvious. There is no silence here. For example The New Catholic Encyclopedia in referring to 1 Esdras states:
"The Council of Trent definitively removed it from the canon" (New Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw Hill, 1967), Volume II, Bible, III, pp.396-397). This authoritative Roman Catholic source clearly states that Trent did not pass over 1 Esdras in silence. It definitively removed it from the canon.
Gary Michuta suggests that it is possible that the canon is not closed for the Roman Catholic Church, but such is not the case. The term canon means that a definitive list of inspired books has been promulgated and it is a closed list. The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about the canon from a Roman Catholic perspective:
"The word canon as applied to the Scriptures has long had a special and consecrated meaning. In its fullest comprehension it signifies the authoritative list or closed number of the writings composed under Divine inspiration, and destined for the well-being of the Church, using the latter word in the wide sense of the theocratic society which began with God's revelation of Himself to the people of Israel, and which finds its ripe development and completion in the Catholic organism. The whole Biblical Canon therefore consists of the canons of the Old and New Testaments" (Catholic Encyclopedia, Canon of the Old Testament).
Note here the Catholic Encyclopedia states that the term 'canon' signifies a closed number of writings. The council of Trent spoke clearly and definitively on the issue of the canon and that is precisely what authoritative Roman Catholic sources say as well:
"According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent...The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon.That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. II, Bible, III (Canon), p. 390; Canon, Biblical, p. 29; Bible, III (Canon), p.390).
This is also confirmed by Yves Congar: "...an official, definitive list of inspired writings did not exist in the Catholic Church until the Council of Trent" (Yves Congar, Tradition and Traditions (New York: Macmillan, 1966),p. 38).
According to Congar and the New Catholic Encyclopedia the first infallible decision on the authoritative declaration of the canon, from a Roman Catholic perspective, was the Council of Trent, not Hippo and Carthage. The English translator of the Council of Trent, H.J. Schroeder, O.P., wrote:
"The Tridentine list or decree was the first infallible and effectually promulgated declaration on the Canon of the Holy Scriptures" (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (Rockford: Tan, 1978), Fourth Session, Footnote #4, p. 17).
These Roman Catholic sources state categorically that the list of canonical books promulgated by Trent was infallible, official and definitive and that Trent definitively removed 1 Esdras from the canon. This does not constitute silence. 1 Esdras (from a Roman Catholic perspective) was infallibly, officially and definitively excluded from the canon. The argument from silence has been shouted down by the Tridentine decree itself.
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Bill Webster Responds to Gary Michuta Part I
03/28/2007 - James WhiteA few days ago I played a clip of my cross-examination of Gary Michuta on the issue of the canon of Scripture. I had noted that Gary had commented elsewhere that he felt "embarrassed" for me at this point in our debate. I personally think the cross-examination went very well, and exposed some very weak replies. In any case, Michuta is putting out a book, Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger: The Untold Story of the Lost Books of the Protestant Bible from Grotto Press. I'm sure it will be most interesting. I am hoping it will have the citations from Trent about "passing over in silence" the question of the difference between the LXX and the Vulgate and Esdras.
But, while silence may be golden, we aren't really into silence around here. So I am very pleased to introduce our "guest blogger," Bill Webster. You are encouraged to visit Bill's website, here. Despite many other duties, Bill has taken the time to write a full, lengthy discussion in response to Michuta's comments But given how full it is, I will need to break it up. So here is part one, but let's remind ourselves of the context once again:
This DVD available here (#516)
A Response to Gary Michuta
In his debate with Gary Michuta on the canon and the Apocrypha James White brought up an important issue that reveals a discrepancy between the decrees of the North African Councils of Hippo/Carthage (AD 393/397) and the Council of Trent (AD 1546). This issue is important because Roman Catholic apologists have long asserted that the canon of Scripture was authoritatively and definitively defined for the Church by Hippo/Carthage in the 4th century AD. And yet the historical facts reveal that Trent rejected abook received by Hippo/Carthage thus manifesting a contradiction between the North African councils and Trent. ...
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On Being "TR" (Truly Reformed)
09/12/2007 - James WhiteJonathan Bonomo has replied to the immediately preceding article. While I truly have no desire for this conversation at all (Mr. Bonomo's ability to embrace contradictory gospels so as to see both Baptists and Roman Catholics as his brothers is far more important, and telling, than anything that comes below), I feel it necessary to clarify some issues.
Mr. Bonomo wrote the following:
When I speak of a Baptist tradition, I am speaking broadly of a basic doctrinal paradigm which reduces Christianity to a personal thing - a matter of merely personal salvation which ordinarily happens apart from any material means (i.e. the ministry of the Church in Word and Sacrament); says that one only becomes a member of the church because one has been saved outside of her rather than being saved by God through her (which is the historic Reformed position); therefore reduces the church to a mere collection of like-minded individuals, the sacraments to mere memorials of what is absent and badges of profession rather than sacred signs of what is present and actual means of grace; and thinks it is ok to break away from the rest of Christendom by claiming that they alone possess true Christian Baptism and therefore think it permissible, good, and necessary to re-baptize anyone not baptized in an age of accountability. This is what I mean by the term Baptist.There is, of course, one main problem. Mr. Bonomo claims to be a former Reformed Baptist. I can only interpret these words as an attempt to describe his former confession, which happens to be my confession. But no Reformed Baptist who has the first level of knowledge of the LBCF, or who has read more than a few paragraphs of RB theological writing, could ever write such a description of his faith. So how is one supposed to respond to such a straw man? Are there "Baptists" about whom the above would be true? There certainly are. If Mr. Bonomo would like to say, "Oh, I didn't mean Reformed Baptists, I meant these Baptists over here..." then great. But his post did not make that distinction.
The citation is a straw man, and an obvious one. It is loaded with "bias words," such as the repeated use of "mere" and "merely." It loads all sorts of false assumptions into its assertions. Briefly:
No RB "reduces" Christianity to merely a "personal thing," "merely personal salvation" etc. I challenge Bonomo to substantiate such assertions from the LBCF. The effort itself would be highly educational in viewing the thinking of one who has moved from one set of convictions to another. As one who has written in defense of the divine nature of Christ's church, and the biblical pattern of its governance (Perspectives on Church Government, 2004, pp. 255-284), I find the insinuation that RB's have no ecclesiology and no belief in the divine nature of the means of grace to require me either to question Mr. Bonomo's motivations or his knowledge of the subject he is addressing.
No RB denies God uses means in the salvation of the elect. No RB denies the normative role of preaching (a means of grace) in that divine work. One does not have to adopt some form of sacramentalism to recognize God uses means.
RB's do believe the New Covenant is perfect and complete, that as Scripture so plainly states, those in that covenant have the law of God written upon their hearts and their sins forgiven. RB's recognize that this is descriptive of the work of God in regeneration, and hence, we accept and believe the teaching of Hebrews 8 regarding this truth, and see it perfectly in line with the apostolic example, consistently found in Acts, of baptizing repentant, confessing believers. So while we recognize the existence of false professors in our midst, we insist that we are being consistent in protecting boththe font and the table: anyone baptized upon profession of faith proving themselves to be reprobate was not properly baptized at all, for the symbol has no connection to reality in them. Further, we insist that while the external Christian fellowship may be marred by false professors and false brethren, it should be the intent of the elders to protect the fellowship, recognizing that the true church is that made up of the elect, and that the number of those in the New Covenant today and the number of the elect who have been regenerated are the same: the New Covenant is unlike the Old at this very point (back to Hebrews 8, Jeremiah 31).
No RB would ever view the church as "a mere collection of like-minded individuals," as the fifteen sections of Chapter 26 of the London Baptist Confession makes so painfully clear. No person who ever took seriously their claim to be a Reformed Baptist, and who has read Chapter 30 of the LBCF on the Supper, could assert that we reduce the ordinances "to mere memorials of what his absent and badges of profession rather than sacred signs of what is present and actual means of grace."Surely we are not sacramentalists, and I will gladly go to the text of Scripture to prove any insinuation that God's grace operates in some ex opere operato fashion, and since this writer seems to think Rome's sacramental theology is no barrier to the gospel, I have a feeling we are very, very far apart on these issues. But again, the "mere" language he uses is nothing but straw-man argumentation which gives him the power to define his views as the standard and any variation is thrown into one of two extremes. Surely he must realize that a self-conscious Reformed Baptist who reads Calvin carefully is far removed from a KJV Only independent fundamentalist who would never dare crack the bindings of the Institutes, so why paint with this broad brush, especially under the title provided?
If the citations of the LBCF are not sufficient, just note Bonomo's reference to "an age of accountability." Again, it is very hard to believe Mr. Bonomo was an RB when he uses this kind of language. Common term amongst Baptists in general? Yes. Reformed Baptists? No.
No RB would view himself as having "broken away" from Christianity because he is convinced the Bible teaches that baptism, like the Supper, is for believing, repentant people. When I join with my Presbyterian brothers in defending the gospel against the heresies of Rome, I will try to remember we are not fellow Christians.
Finally, one has to wonder: does Mr. Bonomo believe that anyone possesses "true Christian baptism" and just how would anyone know? I know it is tremendously naive of me, but I thought we determined these things on the basis of inspired writ, not on the basis of traditions, whether ancient, or derived from the Reformation. And indeed, this seems to be the real "rub" here. How does one determine Christian baptism?Does one do so by appealing to direct, inspired revelation? Upon what consistent biblical teaching would one conclude that this is no longer a valid thing to do, and that a tradition could be established beyond Scriptural examination?
I said I would be brief, so I shall add only two things. First, it troubles me greatly that Mr. Bonomo can have such clarity of conclusion that he can identify my views of baptism as "heretical" while at the same time identifying Roman Catholics as his brothers. Does anyone else find it odd, and in a certain way, very sad, that a "Reformed" person would even find it useful to be comparing Baptists to Roman Catholics while allowing Rome's gospel to go unchallenged? While promoting a form of sacramentalism that, I would assert, compromises the freedom of grace? Which leads me to the second point,one I made in essence in my previous post. What makes someone Reformed? For Bonomo it is clearly one's sacramentology. Fine. He is excused from calling me Reformed. However, I won't be using the term of him, either. Why? Because I think it is far more definitional of the term to insist upon such things as the solas and the centrality of the gospel and the fact that Rome's gospel is a fraud than it is to hold a particular sacramentology. And I will gladly allow our readers to determine who is more consistent with the foundational tenets of the faith--Bonomo and his dismissal of Baptists, or myself and Bill Shishko in our taking our positions to the final court of Christian arbitration, the Word of God, and that before the people of God, all to their benefit and edification? Mr. Bonomo is certainly free to continue to express his views about Baptists and display proudly his Reformed credentials. I will continue to introduce as many as I can to the doctrines of grace, the solas, and the great truth of justification by grace through faith, and let the readers decide.
Second Response to Joel McDurmon
02/03/2009 - James WhiteOn January 30th, Joel McDurmon posted an article on the American Vision website regarding his attendance at my debate with Bart Ehrman on the 21st. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to specific statements that appeared in that article.
I would like to begin with Joel's concluding comments:
In the end, despite all of the helpful information and engaging points, the debate proved little beside the limitations of evidentialist apologetics. If manuscript evidence forms the basis of our trust in the veracity of Scripture, then we cannot conclude veracity one way or the other. Without the prior existence of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, revelation in any form cannot exist.It is hard for me to understand how the debate was even relevant to "evidentialist" apologetics, since the topic hardly lent itself to a comparison between apologetic methodologies. I suppose someone could argue, "You should have begun, 'You know the Bible is true, Dr. Ehrman, but you are suppressing that knowledge, so you must repent and recognize the existence of the one true God," but that would have led to a very short debate that would not accomplish any of the goals we had in providing encouragement and edification to the people of God. Besides, I would never suggest that because Joel has written a book, Manifested in the Flesh: How the Historical Evidence of Jesus Refutes Modern Mystics and Skeptics, that Joel is an evidentialist. Presuppositionalists speak of evidence all the time: and when I present what God has done in the preservation of Scripture when speaking to believers, it is always within the over-arching paradigm of the sovereignty of God over all human affairs. But that was not the debate's subject nor its purpose. As I wrote in my work on Scriptural sufficiency, Scripture Alone:
The divine truth of the sufficiency of Scripture is based firmly upon the bedrock of the nature of Scripture and God's sovereign rulership over His creation. That is to say that scriptural sufficiency is not a doctrine unto itself that can be separated from the rest of revelation. It is the necessary result of sound beliefs concerning God and His purposes. To believe what the Bible teaches about God, the gospel, the church, and the Scriptures, is to believe in Scriptural sufficiency, the ability of the Bible to function as the sole infallible rule of faith for the church, its ability to equip the man of God for every good work God by His Spirit would call him to perform. Christ's Church hears in the words of Scripture the voice of her Master (pp. 19-20).My position on this matter is truly not in question. So why does Joel ask,
We can consider New Testament textual evidence to be among those "many other incomparable excellencies," but yet must admit that the persuasion of its veracity comes not from that evidence, but from the Holy Spirit. Ehrman, despite whatever errors he may commit, knows at least this much, and Evangelicals should acknowledge it.I well know conviction is spiritually born: but the Spirit uses means, and the people of God need to see that we are not pitting faith against truth but placing faith in truth when we trust in His Word. I truly do not know what Joel means when he says Ehrman "knows" that persuasion of the truth of the NT comes from the Spirit of God. I suppose you could say that he knows this, and is suppressing it, but outside of this, I really cannot interpret that last line meaningfully in light of what I know of Dr. Ehrman's position. ...
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A Presbyterian Statement from the Past (1845)
09/22/2005 - James WhiteThe following can be found here.
The question presented to this Assembly by Overture from the Presbytery of Ohio, 'Is Baptism in the Church of Rome Valid?' is one of a very grave character, and of deep practical importance. The answer to it must involve principles vital to the peace, the purity, and the stability of the church of God.
After a full discussion carried through several days, this Assembly has decided, by a nearly unanimous vote, that baptism so administered, is not invalid.
Because, since baptism is an ordinance established by Christ in his Church, (Form of Gov., chap. vii; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20,) and is to be administered only by a minister of Christ, duly called and ordained to be a steward of the mysteries of God, (Directory, chap. viii, sec. 1.) it follows that no rite administered by one who is not himself a duly ordained minister of the true Church of God visible, can be regarded as an ordinance of Christ, whatever be the name by which it is called, whatever the form employed in its administration. The so-called priest of the Romish communion are not ministers of Christ, for they are commissioned as agents of the papal hierarchy, which is not a Church of Christ, but the Man of Sin, apostate from the truth, the enemy of righteousness and of God. She has long lain under the curse of God, who has called his people to come out from her, that they be not partakers of her plagues.
It is the unanimous opinion of all the Reformed churches, that the whole papal body, though once a branch of the visible church, has long since become utterly corrupt, and hopelessly apostate. It was a conviction of this which led to the reformation, and the complete separation of the reformed body from the papal communion. Luther and his coadjutors, being duly ordained presbyters at the time when they left the Romish communion, which then, though fearfully corrupt, was the only visible church in the countries of their abode, were fully authorized by the word of God, to ordain successors in the ministry, and so to extend and perpetuate the Reformed churches as true churches of Christ: while the contumacious adherence of Rome to her corruptions, as shown in the decisions of the Council of Trent, (which she adopts as authoritative,) cuts her off from the visible Church of Christ, as heretical and unsound. This was the opinion of the Reformers, and it is the doctrine of the Reformed churches to this day. In entire accordance to this is the decision of the General Assembly of our Church, passed in 1835, (See Minutes of General Assembly, vol. 8, p. 33) declaring the Church of Rome to be an apostate body.
The decision by the Assembly of 1835 renders the return of a negative to the inquiry proposed by the Presbytery of Ohio indispensable on the ground of consistency; unless we be prepared to admit, in direct contradiction to the standards of the Presbyterian Church, that baptism is not an ordinance established by Christ in his Church exclusively and that it may be administered by an agent of the Man of Sin, an emissary of the prince of darkness; that it may be administered in sport or in blasphemy, and yet be valid as though administered by a duly commissioned steward of the mysteries of God. ...
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An Attempted Syllogism Examined
11/03/2009 - James White
It has long been understood by sound Christians that the Scriptures are the Word of God, yet, as Peter expressed it, they were spoken by men. "Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" is Peter's phraseology. Everyone knows that the language Paul uses in Ephesians, for example, differs in tone from Galatians, reflecting the fact that this is a real human being speaking, and he was in a very different state of mind when writing the one than when he wrote the other. Only those who hold to some kind of dictation theory where a mechanical method of inspiration is posited struggle with the reality of the different styles found in Scripture. So the fact that Scripture is a divine revelation that enters into human existence through human agency is the teaching of that divine revelation itself. It is traceable through the "thus says Yahweh" of the Tanakh into its fuller explication in the New Testament.
Next, it is likewise understood by sound students of Scripture and theology that the Bible teaches (note, I did not say tradition teaches) certain truths about the person of Jesus Christ that cannot be compromised. His deity, His eternal pre-existence, His full humanity, His incarnation, etc. These biblical revelations have provided the guide posts, the walls, so to speak, outside of which we dare not wander, in thinking about the Person of Christ. Fully God, and fully man, without sin, the perfect sacrifice.
Recently Frank Beckwith sought to defend Rome's gospel by reference to the above truths. Though he never explains the basis upon which he does so, he makes an argument that just as the Bible can have a divine and a human component, and Jesus likewise is divine and human (though, I would argue, there are differences between those two), salvation must share the same divine/human combination or dichotomy. For the argument to hold, however, it would require us to have some particular reason to parallel the hypostatic union with justification by faith, and Dr. Beckwith does not provide us with any basis. He presents the parallel, based upon Rome's confusion of justification and sanctification, denial of the imputed righteousness of Christ, etc., but he does not tell us why we should think that because Jesus was the God-Man this means the gospel has to be partly God's work and partly man's (a synergistic system). Further, in quoting the Roman Catholic position Beckwith embraces not only the concept of infusion, but that "Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life." Of course, only God's grace makes it possible for this to happen, however, we are still doing the meriting and, of course, there are those who do not "cooperate" and thus lose the grace of justification, becoming enemies of God. And so the real issue of the Reformation remains the same today as it was then: it is not the NECESSITY of grace that is at dispute, it is the SUFFICIENCY of grace that is the focus of the debate. And, of course, so many of those who are non-Roman Catholics today actually agree with Rome against the Reformers on that topic, and are thusly crippled in resisting Rome's teachings. Beckwith makes the assertion:...
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Athanasius Contra Michuta #2
05/29/2010 - James SwanI recently posted Athanasius Contra Michuta #1. That entry led to the following e-mail question: "I was reading Athanasius on the canon and I noticed he included Esther in the apocryphal category but Esther is part of canonical Scripture. Can you briefly comment on this?"
Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta likewise brings out this point in Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007) along with mentioning Athanasius includes Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah in the canon. Mr. Michuta quotes the Thirty-ninth Festal letter canon list and then comments,
Protestant apologists focus on the fact that twenty-two books are described as having been canonized; making up, as they would argue, an exhaustive list since Athanasius seems to insist that "in these [books] alone, the Christian doctrine is taught." The great fourth century champion, therefore has been shown to have accepted the Protestant canon, and consigned everything outside that canon to the category of human apocrypha. This argument errs on a number of points.
Most obviously, the books Athansius listed as "canonical" do not correspond to the Protestant canon; he places the book of Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah among the 'canon,' but deliberately omits the book of Esther from the list and places it among those that are read. This canon, in fact, is unique to Athanasius himself; no other writer uses it and all other Christians canons, then and now, differ from it"[Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007), pp. 108-109. Emphasis in the original].
First, Jewish history shows the Old Testament was counted as either twenty-two or twenty-four books. Josephus states, "For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books" [Against Apion 1.8]. Athanasius likewise is aware of this tradition: "There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews..." [NPNF2 Vol.4, Athanasius, Letter 39.2-7]. Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, Epiphanius and Amphilochius, as well as other ancient voices likewise concur with this tradition. So when Protestants focus on a twenty-two book canon, they do so as the result of historical inquiry. We don't argue that Athansius presents an infallible exhaustive list, but that he's aware the Hebrew canon was limited to a particular number, and that number is different than that canonized by Trent. The canon presented by Athanasius is far closer in semblance to that found in Protestant Bibles. Athanasius leaves out the bulk of the apocrypha.
Second, Michuta states Athanasius "places the book of Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah among the canon." This wording is deliberately ambiguous. Athanasius states "then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle" as part of his Old Testament list. For Athanasius, Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah were included as additional material to Jeremiah (he probably also included the apocryphal additional material added to Daniel). He did not consider them separate books. Did he do so to try and sneak apocryphal material into the Bible? No he mistakenly thought these were part of the actual book of Jeremiah. Why was this the case? William Webster points out that it appears there was an expansion of the Hebrew canon, but involving no addition to the number of the books in the East during the fourth century. He states:
It should be noted though, that following the Septuagint, many [Eastern fathers] included Septuagint 1 Esdras with Ezra-Nehemiah, the Epistle of Jeremiah and Baruch with Jeremiah and Bel and the Dragon, The Song of the Three Children and Susanna as additions to the book of Daniel [William Webster, Holy Scripture The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Volume II, (Battle Ground: Christian Resources, 2001) p.340].
Roger Beckwith states:
The other two additions to the Greek text of Daniel besides the Song of the Three Holy Children, namely, Susanna and Bel & the Dragon, are more self-contained and usually carry their own subtitles. They were probably once independent. Indeed, the latter addition, in the original Septuagint, even begins by naming a source, 'From the prophecy of Habakkuk the son of Joshua, of the tribe of Levi' suggesting that it may have originated in an apocryphal work under the name of Habakkuk. Nevertheless, in the Septuagint version the two additions have become a thirteenth and fourteenth chapter of Daniel, while in the other Greek version used in the early church they form a first and last chapter. As the Jewish translator responsible for this latter version, Theodotion, included them in the revision of the Septuagint which is what his translation was, although he apparently omitted the independent apocryphal books, they had probably already been appended to Greek Daniel in the Jewish period. It is therefore not surprising that Irenaeus can quote Susanna with the expression 'Those words which come from Daniel the 'Prophet' (Against Heresies 4.26.3), or that Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 1.21, or 1.123.3f.) and Tertullian (On Idolatry 17-18, On Fasting 7) can pass straight from the events of the earlier part of Daniel to those of Bel and the Dragon, as belonging to the same historical sequence. Hippolytus, likewise, in his Commentary on Daniel, expounds Susanna as the opening part of the book, and at least makes reference to Bel & the Dragon, though without actually expounding it (Commentary 2.26). Even the Syrian expositor Polychronius, who declines to expound the Song of the Three, includes in his Commentary on Daniel an exposition of Bel & the Dragon, as its final item. In the Syriac Bible, known to Polychronius, Susanna often gets separated from Daniel and Bel, but in the Greek and Old Latin Bibles, and among most of the Fathers who use them, both these additions are treated as if they were part of the text of Daniel, without the canonical question being raised. And even when it is first raised, by Julius Africanus in his Letter to Origen, he receives an answer which prevents it being raised again until the end of the fourth century.
(viii) Just as apocryphal items were appended (or prefixed) to LXX Daniel, so the same was done to LXX Jeremiah. Here there was also a canonical appendix, Lamentations, which in the Greek Bible is preceded by Baruch and followed by the Epistle of Jeremy, while in the Latin Bible it is followed by Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy combined in one, in the form in which they stand in the English Apocrypha. There is reason to think that, as in the case of Daniel, the Septuagint appendices had at least begun to be added in the Jewish period; and, as in the case of Daniel once more, this was presumably done for the same purposes of edification as motivated the midrashic expansions included in some books of the Septuagint within their text. We consequently find early Greek Fathers regarding Baruch as part of Jeremiah, and frequently quoting it under Jeremiah?s own name, and early Latin Fathers doing the same. So here again it is less a question of canonicity that confronts us than a question of the text. What has happened is that edifying additions have been made to the translated text of Jeremiah, as to that of Daniel, which do not really pretend to the same authority, but are bound before long to be treated as if they did, by readers unacquainted with the original. [Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), pp. 340-342].
But what about Esther? Why did Athanasius leave it out of his twenty-two book list? Well to apply Gary's Michuta's own logic, the book of Esther is canonical because Athanasius cites from it "in a manner commensurate with sacred scripture," and Athanasius confessed that his canonical list is in itself not completely accurate. I don't accept either of Michuta's answers, but it does show the reasoning employed by Mr. Michuta backfires. He wants it both ways. He wants to argue that the list from Athanasius describes all of divine Scripture with minor distinctions, but against Protestants he wants to argue Esther was left out of the sacred canon.
I'm not aware of any further clarification from Athanasius on Esther. It's common knowledge that the book of Esther was considered antilegomena: a book previously disputed but ultimately considered canonical. Therefore, that Athanasius didn't include it in his primary canon list isn't such a stretch. The book of Esther is simply proving that there were in fact those who doubted its canonicty, both within Judaism and the church. In other words, Esther is living up to its pedigree of antilegomena. It could be Athanasius was simply following Melito. Melito does not mention Esther or classify it as apocrypha (Some speculate he may have actually left it out by mistake because one way of counting his list only adds up to twenty-one books). The Greek version of Esther includes 107 verses that is classified as apocrypha. Perhaps this factored into the decision of Athanasius. Without any explicit statements from Athanasius, one can only speculate.
Talk About Scholarly Hubris
11/27/2010 - James WhiteSome will remember that I invested some time responding to Michael Heiser, the academic editor for Logos Bible Software. Years ago one of Michael Heiser's supporters contacted us, promoting his views of Psalm 82. Rich Pierce had some brief interaction with him. In any case, since I had been asked a number of times about Heiser's views, I took some time to explain why I reject them. Here is my blog entry, and here is another by TurretinFan. You will notice that both entries are actually understandable to, well, plain ol' Christians. I wrote mine so that fellow believers would understand the issue, and could interact with Mormons and others who utilize this text. That's why I do what I do, and I'm sure that's why TurretinFan does what he does, too.
I have commented many times that after attending the ETS conference in 1998 in Orlando, I have never gone back. I had a good time there, in general, and the book deals are great, but I was badly turned off by the academic snobbery that pervaded the place. I'm sure there were plenty of fine servants of the church there, but they were vastly overwhelmed by the nose-in-the-air academics who would never dirty themselves with plain ol' ministry that would involve abandoning their specialized vocabulary and actually explaining things so as to edify the body. If knowledge puffed up physically, we never would have gotten anywhere because the doors would have been impassable. In any case, I made a commitment then that I would never allow myself that kind of hubris---Christian scholarship is a practice of SERVANTHOOD, period, end of discussion.
So this morning I was referred to this article posted by Michael Heiser. It is the quintessential example of scholastic hubris. He goes to lengths to make sure that everyone knows he does not take my criticisms seriously---which is why he presented a paper on the topic at ETS, of course. But, as he notes,
The Psalm 82 paper was also prompted by criticisms posted in 2009 by Alpha and Omega Ministries (AOM). That I really don’t consider these criticisms serious is indicated by the fact that they have existed on the web since 2009 with no online response on my part (though many have emailed me the link and asked me to respond). Rather than engage people on the internet on these matters, my choice was to submit my views to public peer review at an academic evangelical conference (and I’ve actually done that several times now at ETS in a piecemeal sort of way via other papers). Eventually, I will be merging the two papers to submit to a peer-reviewed journal, hopefully sometime in 2011.
See, "peer review" is the standard of orthodoxy in the rarified air of the academy. Never mind every journal pouring forth heresy and soul-destroying skepticism is "peer-reviewed," and never mind "peer reviewed" normally means "completely disconnected from the body of faith," this is the only standard by which truth is now known. Of course, just about every discredited, nutty theory of the past hundred years first appeared in a "peer-reviewed" journal, too. Too bad having a "church reviewed" journal doesn't seem to be a really big idea these days. But this clear statement of his priorities (and his disrespect of anyone who actually takes these matters to the believers as a whole rather than keeping them strictly in the academy) was not enough, he had to repeat himself for emphasis: ...
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BBC = Bumbling By the Carload
10/06/2008 - James White
The SillyBrit pointed me to another wonderful example of the "yeah, we are biased, we don't care, its the new journalism" mentality of the modern Left. Here is a BBC article making the rounds, written by Roger Bolton. I would like to think Mr. Bolton was not purposefully trying to be a complete snob toward believing Christians, but his writing makes it hard to conclude otherwise. Let's look at some of the more notable comments found in this BBC production.
Under the picture provided above a caption is provided, "What is probably the oldest known bible (bible? How about qur'an?) is being digitised (yes, that proves it is a British production), reuniting its scattered parts for the first time since its discovery 160 years ago. It is markedly different from its modern equivalent. What's left out?"
I am truly left wondering if Mr. Bolton himself has ever studied Codex Sinaiticus? I have more resources on the subject than the time to read them, but when I get a few moments I do enjoy reading works like the one pictured here. If I only worked in NT subjects I'd spend a lot more time on the issue, since I have such a passion for textual critical issues. But I was recently reading through portions of this work on a flight to...somewhere (I lose track), and my, I got odd looks from my fellow passengers. Almost as odd as the looks I get when reading books filled with Arabic quotations. In any case, one of the frustrating things about this article is the obvious assumption on Bolton's part that believing Christians are a bunch of bumbling fools without the first interest in the history of their own faith. And given Bolton's main source is...Bart Ehrman (just how important is that debate in January?), I have to note that Ehrman likewise hints broadly that Christians have in essence "hidden" the history of the Bible and, in general, are ignorant thereof. That is partly true, but it is not because those of us who are not ignorant of the truth do not make every attempt to spread that knowledge far and wide. Ehrman even claims to be the first one to write a layman's level book explaining textual critical matters. I guess he skipped The King James Only Controversy, which did just that long before his own book came out (he was referring to MisQuoting Jesus---I would say there is a lot more discussion of textual variation in my work than in his).
Getting back to the article, is א (Aleph, the designation in textual critical works for Codex Sinaiticus) "markedly different" than modern Bibles? Well, aside from its age, its language, its form, to what is Bolton referring? Two things: a warped, "textual scholar spins stuff for the ignorant media" view of how "different" its text is from the modern Greek textual platform (NA/UBS) together with the "if it was bound together as one volume, that must mean the original creator viewed all the books as canonical" claim. That's the extent of it. The well-read Christian already knows this, so evidently we are not the folks Bolton is trying to impress.
The article gives a little background and mentions the fact that א is going "on line" (see it here). Then we get this amazingly condescending paragraph:
For those who believe the Bible is the inerrant, unaltered word of God, there will be some very uncomfortable questions to answer. It shows there have been thousands of alterations to today's bible.
Oh no! Surely, no one who believes the Bible is the inerrant, unaltered Word of God has ever run into a history of the Bible! None of us have ever poured over Sinaiticus, marveled at such a treasure...oh, wait, even Tischendorf was a Christian who believed the Bible was the Word of God. Well, so sorry, chap (please read that with a British accent). I guess I can't blame Bolton---Ehrman likewise gives the impression that "born agains" are these ignorant, back-woods folks who don't know anything about the Bible. He promotes the viewpoint regularly, whether he knows it or not, so possibly Bolton is just following his sources? In any case, the idea that the publication of א is going to present "questions" that we Bible believers have not fully worked through long, long ago only shows how little Mr. Bolton knows his subject.
The Codex, probably the oldest Bible we have, also has books which are missing from the Authorised Version that most Christians are familiar with today - and it does not have crucial verses relating to the Resurrection.
Notice the assumption that "inclusion between leather covers = inclusion in the canon." He clearly has no idea that this is a disputed claim, and is simply following Ehrman, who, sadly, often forgets to provide "the other side" to the ever-hungry media. Yes, א contains non-canonical books, specifically, the Shepherd of Hermes and the Epistle of Barnabas. Both were, at some point in time, viewed as canonical by small groups of believers, often by those from the area where the books were actually produced. But it is a long leap from this historical observation (one known to any first year church history student in Bible college) to the uncritically promoted conclusion that this means the original copyists/producers of א believed these books to be Scripture. It is just as likely, and in fact, more likely, that they did not. Why? Because א was produced around the time of the Council of Nicea, and the fortunes of both of those books had fallen off considerably by that time. They were considered by many to be good books to be read for edification, but not part of canonical Scripture (to borrow the conclusion of Athanasius writing just a few decades later). Having them copied and included no more made them canonical than including John MacArthur's study notes makes them canonical. It was easier to have such a major project as that represented by א done in one fell swoop rather than having lots of smaller projects, and the result was a very, very large book. But one book is easier to transport/carry than multiples, and evidently, that is what happened in this case. But the specifics aside, I can only shake my head at the condescending attitude of the media today that would assume that if you believe in inerrancy you must be an IQ-challenged dolt without the first clue as to the history of your own faith. And I hope the reader finds Bolton's quotation of the words of Barnabas at least somewhat revealing: how dare Barnabas contain such words...except...that they come from the New Testament (Matthew 27:25).
At this point Ehrman comes into view, and of course, what I found interesting was Ehrman's repetition of his "the Bible can't be inspired because it was not copied perfectly in every single instance" argument: the very essence of our debate in January. Listen to this paragraph:
And although many of the other alterations and differences are minor, these may take some explaining for those who believe every word comes from God.
Sadly, the answers given...for centuries...often by leading Christian scholars in the United Kingdom seem to be utter news to this writer. This level of ignorance is truly amazing. Later he opines,
Fundamentalists, who believe every word in the Bible is true, may find these differences unsettling.
Yeah, us fundies have never heard of Sinaiticus alright. Amazing, just amazing. Can Bolton really believe Sinaiticus is news? We move on,
Mr Ehrman was a born again Bible-believing Evangelical until he read the original Greek texts and noticed some discrepancies.
The Bible we now use can't be the inerrant word of God, he says, since what we have are the sometimes mistaken words copied by fallible scribes.
Someone needs to get this story straight, and I think Dr. Ehrman should be on the front lines correcting all these misapprehensions...unless it is his own story that has caused them. Ehrman has directly, clearly said that it was not the textual issue that caused him to lose his faith, it was theodicy, the problem of evil. Yet, he does not seem overly intent upon correcting this kind of false assertion. Sadly, MisQuoting Jesus sold a lot better than God's Problem did, so, when you are depending upon your role as the "reverse Paul," maybe it is acceptable to allow the readers to think you converted for reasons you say you did not, as long as it "helps the cause."
This may not sound like a heavy-weight argument, but I intend, early on in our debate, to ask a basic question of Dr. Ehrman: "Why?" Yes, "why?" Why do you believe God could not have inspired His Word in writing (outside of chiseling it in a mountain side) until Gutenberg, at the earliest, and probably, not until computerized technology came about? Can you give us something more than "Well, I just don't think He would use imperfect human beings to transmit His Word over time...or, he'd remove their humanity from them long enough to over-ride any possible copyist errors anyway"? I hope my question will be answered in the opening statements, honestly, but if it isn't, I will be asking that one pretty early on.
Four variants are noted in the article. Note that Bolton never gives the references. He leaves it nebulous so that it looks a lot more nefarious than the reality. Regular readers of this blog will have to chuckle just a little bit at this one:
Nor are there words of forgiveness from the cross. Jesus does not say "Father forgive them for they know not what they do".
Who was it who did an entire hour on the textual variant at Luke 23:34 just recently on their webcast? Oh, that was me and Alan K.! Yes indeed. And did we not discuss the two readings of Sinaiticus? In fact, I posted graphics from the manuscript to aid those listening to the webcast (found here). And yet somehow, I still believe in the inerrancy of Scripture! How can this be?
Isn't it odd that we conservative, Bible-believing Christians produce hour long webcasts going in-depth into the text of א but all the BBC can do is give vague references without even providing the citations of the relevant texts? And why even raise well-known textual issues like John 7:53-8:11, unless you are either writing this solely for shock value, or, you really have no idea what you are talking about?
Once again, this is all we can expect out of the leftist media today, almost anywhere. There is no counter-balancing in sources, no checking of facts. Just throw it out there, assume anyone who is not a good secular humanist is an ignorant and gullible person fresh off the farm, and think you have practiced true journalism. My, how far the BBC has fallen!
Why Gary Michuta Says Protestant Bibles Are Smaller (#2)
01/24/2008 - James SwanA review of Catholic Apologist Gary Michuta's examination of Luther and the Apocrypha (Part 2)
A few days ago, I posted Part 1 of my review of Catholic apologist Gary Michuta's presentation of Martin Luther from his new book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007). Mr. Michuta presented around twenty pages of argumentation on Luther's involvment with the deletion of the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles. In part one, we saw that Gary equated Luther with "the Marcionites, Ebionites, and Gnostics before him." Michuta also argued that Luther originally accepted the Apocrypha, but then in debate with Johann Eck, was forced to deny the canonicity of 2 Maccabees in order to deny purgatory. I demonstrated that during this debate, Luther still held to the belief in purgatory, so whatever his motivations were in denying 2 Maccabees, it was not because he presupposed Purgatory was untrue. Gary also presented flimsy evidence that only a year before this debate, Luther accepted the canonicity of the Apocrypha. Luther quoted from the Apocrypha throughout his career, and simply because he did this previous to his debate with Eck does not mean that he considered it canonical Scripture. Mr. Michuta attributes Luther's attitude toward the Apocrypha as the result of "theological convictions" and personal "tradition" that makes the Word of God void. While Luther indeed had "theological convictions," Mr. Michuta ignored an entire host of information on the historical reasoning Luther had toward the Apocrypha. Rather than present a balanced picture of a man's theology and historical opinion, Michuta put forth a Luther that fit with his theory on the deletion of the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles. I'd like to continue by taking a closer look at Luther's opinion on 2 Maccabees and his German Bible.
Luther's View of 2 Maccabees
Since Michuta spent time on Luther's problem with 2 Maccabees, I would have to question why Mr. Michuta would not actually search out Luther's opinion on 2 Maccabees and present at least some sort of qualifier in his book. He notes that Luther "appealed to the rabbinical Jewish canon" and "to the authority of Jerome" in his debate with Eck (pp. 250-251) about the non-canonicity of 2 Maccabees, as if this was done as a smoke-screen. Michuta quotes a secondary source explaining that Luther realized at this point he was setting up Jerome as an "infallible Pope." Rather, I would argue Luther shows something quite different: a familiarity with Jerome, the Jewish canon, and the questionable content of 2 Maccabees.
In 1521, Luther expressed these concerns quite succinctly in regard to the spurious nature of using 2 Maccabees as a prooftext for Purgatory:
"But their use of the passage in II Macc. 12[:43], which tells how Judas Maceabeus sent money to Jerusalem for prayers to be offered for those who fell in battle, proves nothing, for that book is not among the books of Holy Scripture, and, as St. Jerome says, it is not found in a Hebrew version, the language in which all the books of the Old Testament are written. In other respects, too, this book deserves little authority, for it contradicts the first Book of Maccabees in its description of King Antiochus, and contains many other fables which destroy its credibility. But even were the book authoritative, it would still be necessary in the case of so important an article that at least one passage out of the chief books [of the Bible] should support it, in order that every word might be established through the mouth of two or three witnesses. It must give rise to suspicion that in order to substantiate this doctrine no more than one passage could be discovered in the entire Bible; moreover this passage is in the least important and most despised book. Especially since so much depends on this doctrine which is so important that, indeed, the papacy and the whole hierarchy are all but built upon it, and derive all their wealth and honor from it. Surely, the majority of the priests would starve to death if there were no purgatory. Well, they should not offer such vague and feeble grounds for our faith!" [LW 32:96]
Here is Luther's synopsis of 2 Maccabees. Note his reasoning for rejecting the book, and then compare it with Michuta's understanding of Luther:
Preface to the Second Book of Maccabees (1534)...
This book is called, and is supposed to be, the second book of Maccabees, as the title indicates. Yet this cannot be true, because it reports several incidents that happened before those reported in the first book, and it does not proceed any further than Judas Maccabaeus, that is, chapter 7 of the first book. It would be better to call this the first instead of the second book, unless one were to call it simply a second book and not the second book of Maccabees; another or different, certainly, but not second. But we include it anyway, for the sake of the good story of the seven Maccabean martyrs and their mother, and other things as well. It appears, however, that the book has no single author, but was pieced together out of many books. It also presents a knotty problem in chapter 14[:41–46] where Razis commits suicide, something which also troubles St. Augustine and the ancient fathers. Such an example is good for nothing and should not be praised, even though it may be tolerated and perhaps explained. So also in chapter 1 this book describes the death of Antiochus quite differently than does First Maccabees [6:1–16]. To sum up: just as it is proper for the first book to be included among the sacred Scriptures,* so it is proper that this second book should be thrown out, even though it contains some good things. However the whole thing is left and referred to the pious reader to judge and to decide.[LW 35:352-353]
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Shea's Tangled Web in Defense of Tobit
01/25/2013 - Tur8infanOver at the "National Catholic Register," Mark Shea provided a piece responding to a reader's concerns about the apocryphal book of Tobit, which is included within the canon of Scripture by the Council of Trent. I'm afraid the reader of Shea's response has been seriously disserviced by Shea's misleading answer. ...
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Steve Ray Lets...Someone Else Respond (Updated--the Someone Else is Gary Michuta)
01/19/2008 - James WhiteOur main internet access is down today (I'm using my BlackBerry as a tethered modem to write this) so I will have to wait till Monday to provide a video blog, but Steve Ray just noted on his blog the posting of a video response to my documentation of his errors regarding Jerome being alone and unique in his rejection of the apocryphal books. Rush over to view this video response before it gets pulled! Why? Because it is that bad. If this is all Rome has to offer in defense of her allegedly infallible canon and her apologists like Ray, it is no wonder they have chosen to find a different way of spreading their message other than debate. The essence of the response plays games with the term "apocrypha." Instead of recognizing the real issue--Jerome's rejection of the deuterocanonicals as canon, which was the question Ray was allegedly responding to, this video tries to make it look like all Ray was saying was that Jerome used unique language no one else had ever used. It is one of the most pathetic attempts to defend an allegedly infallible system I've seen in a long time, which is why we need to grab it and save it before someone who knows better convinces the poster to pull it down. Documenting the errors of argumentation and simple logic on this one will be far too easy. For example, the poster doesn't even seem to understand the context of Cajetan's statement. He likewise helps out my cause by pointing out that after the split vote, where the apocryphal books carried only around 44% of the vote, as is the custom in Roman history, another vote was taken later, and that vote was unanimous. Well duh, of course it was, the decision had already been made. Time to look united! What an amazingly facile argument! "Hey, look, after Papal Infallibility was forced through Vatican I, those who had opposed it then supported it--and those who didn't left, so...it was unanimous!" This is apologetic argumentation? No wonder these folks don't put this kind of argumentation on display when cross-examination can be made! It is truly another banner day for documenting how poor has become the popular form of Roman Catholic apologetics.
Where are the serious Roman Catholic apologists these days? It is truly amazing.
Well, now I know who posted this video: none other than Gary Michuta himself. He joined YouTube just today to post this wonderful example of "As long as it is in the service of Rome, don't worry about the truth thing--it will all come out in the wash." Evidently he views it as his job to protect Steve Ray when Ray makes utterly absurd statements on CA Live. In any case, it is Michuta who now gets to own this mess of half-truths and deception, and own it he will. I already have a ton of citations exposing this very poorly argued video, but I will allow folks to take the time to watch it first. Save it to your hard drives, lest anyone forget. Note the ubiquitous "anti-Catholic" moniker it uses, too (always have to get that in there--that's part of the Roman Catholic apologist's handbook--union rules, even!). And while you are watching it, here are some quotes from the Jerome Bible Commentary to compare just for the fun of it:
But the writers of the Eastern church were more aware of the shorter scriptural canon drawn up by the Jews. Melito of Sardis (ca. 170) gives us our earliest Christian list of OT booksa list much like the one that eventually became the standard Hebr list (Est is omitted). Origen mentions that the Hebrews have 22 books; Athanasius, who had Jewish teachers, insists that the Christians should have 22 books just as the Hebrews have; and, of course, Jerome did his best to propagate the Hebr canon in the Western church. Some writers who favor the short canon nevertheless cite the deuterocanonical books.A distinction between canonical and ecclesiasticalwas proposed in order to classify the books, with the latter to be understood as works serving the Church for edification. Doubts about the deuterocanonical books keep recurring in the history of the Church among those who are aware of the Jewish canon. Those who prefer the shorter canon or express some doubt about the full canonical status of the deuterocanonicals include Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen, Epiphanius, Rufinus, Gregory the Great, John Damascene, Hugh of St. Victor, Nicholas of Lyra, and Cardinal Cajetan. (See A. C. Sundberg, CBQ 30  143-55.) [Brown, R. E., Fitzmyer, J. A., & Murphy, R. E. (1996, c1968). The Jerome Biblical commentary(2:523). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.]
Even at Trent, however, the Council Fathers did not specifically attempt to press the detail of Church usage back beyond the period of Jerome, for they used the Vg as the norm for Church usage, condemning anyone who does not accept these books in their entirety, with all their parts, according to the text usually read in the Catholic Church and as they are in the ancient Latin Vulgate (DS 1504). There are many difficulties here that demand investigation. First, in the period before the Vg therewas no consistent Church usage, as we have seen. Ironically, Jerome, the translator of the Vg, was very clear in his preference for the same short canon that Trent rejected in the name of the Vg. The Vg was introduced into the West over many protests (including that of Augustine) asserting that Jeromes translation from the Hebrew was an innovation against the Churchs usage of translating from the LXX. [Ibid., emph. added]
Oh, and I really should provide the entirety of Athanasius' 39th Festal letter, since this video specifically misrepresents it as can be seen in this graphic. Note how Athanasius does, in fact, specifically distinguish between the canonical, inspired texts, which are "fountains of salvation," and such works as the Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Tobit, etc. Is Michuta so lacking in understanding of these materials that he thinks Athanasius' words, "a mention of apocryphal writings" (των αποκρυφων μνημη) is equal to "the Apocrypha"?? This is the author of a book on the topic that is being promoted by Catholic Answers? Did Michuta really think no one would actually read this stuff? It is truly hard to say.
1. They have fabricated books which they call books of tables, in which they shew stars, to which they give the names of Saints. And therein of a truth they have inflicted on themselves a double reproach: those who have written such books, because they have perfected themselves in a lying and contemptible science; and as to the ignorant and simple, they have led them astray by evil thoughts concerning the right faith established in all truth and upright in the presence of God.
2. But since we have made mention of heretics as dead, but of ourselves as possessing the Divine Scriptures for salvation; and since I fear lest, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians , some few of the simple should be beguiled from their simplicity and purity, by the subtlety of certain men, and should henceforth read other books--those called apocryphal--led astray by the similarity of their names with the true books; I beseech you to bear patiently, if I also write, by way of remembrance, of matters with which you are acquainted, influenced by the need and advantage of the Church.
3. In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: Forasmuch as some have taken in hand , to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine; to the end that anyone who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led him astray; and that he who has continued steadfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance.
4. There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament.
5. Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.
6. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures. And He reproved the Jews, saying, Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me .
7. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings (των αποκρυφων μνημη). But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.
A Response to Dr. Tommy Wasserman
02/18/2009 - James WhiteLast week when a caller to The Dividing Line asked about resources on textual critical studies, I noted the plethora of information to be found at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog. One of the contributors to this blog is Dr. Tommy Wasserman from Lunds Universitet in Sweden. I was surprised, and very disappointed, to read Dr. Wasserman's comments today on that otherwise fine blog. I say disappointed in how badly Dr. Wasserman missed the context of my brief comments. Let's look at some of the things he had to say.
Until very recently, I was unaware of the Christian apologetic James White. Apparently, he has recently debated with Bart Ehrman on whether the Bible "misquote" Jesus or not (alluding to the title of Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus).I am assuming an "apologetic" in Sweden is an apologist in the United States. In any case, I am going to assume from his wording that while he is aware of the debate with Bart Ehrman, he has not, in fact, listened to the debate. Hence, he would not be aware of how clearly Ehrman noted the shift in his own thinking over the past "fifteen" years or so away from a discussion of the original text. He is probably not aware that Ehrman made those comments directly in response to my citation of Moises Silva's words in defense of the "original text." This should be kept in mind, since the regular readers of my blog would be aware of that context, one that I had not only commented on rather fully on The Dividing Line the same day as my blog entry, but had been discussing regularly for a couple of months.
On his Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog he commented yesterday (here) on Bart Ehrman's recent announcement that a second edition of The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Questionis (eds. Bart D. Ehrman & Michael W. Holmes) is in the pipeline, in which he found "a very telling statement."Here is where I fear there may be some linguistic problems cropping up. Perhaps Dr. Wasserman's grasp of English syntax is impacted by his current location and language usage? I honestly have no idea. But it is very obvious that I did not find Ehrman's announcement of a second edition of the work in question a "very telling statement." English readers know what I was referring to: I was referring to Ehrman's own assertion that the most "exciting" thing that has happened over the past "15-20 years" is the very paradigm shift that Wasserman seems to have completely read out of my blog article. May I quote from an interview with Bart Ehrman posted on the very same blog on which Dr. Wasserman is posting to substantiate the context I attributed to Ehrman's words? From the entry of September 25, 2006:
For me, the most exciting thing about being a textual critic over the past 15-20 years has been seeing how textual criticism has moved beyond its myopic concerns of collating manuscripts and trying to determine some kind of "original" text to situating itself in the broader fields of discourse that concern an enormous range of scholars of Christian antiquity. Textual critics are uniquely situated to contribute to these larger concerns, meaning that now, finally, the work textual critics do can be seen as widely important and relevant, not simply of relevance to textual technicians.
So, given that in our debate Bart had clearly expressed this same idea, and that the nexus of this revolution has been a fundamental shift in the paradigm upon which he is operating, how could Dr. Wasserman so completely misread my intentions? It is possible Dr. Wasserman entertains the idea that unless one is amongst the elite in the field that one cannot possibly have anything meaningful to say. I hope not (though that attitude is rampant). But thankfully, Dr. Robinson, in the comments section, recognized that Wasserman had skipped over my real intentions. More on that later.
So before continuing to examine Wasserman's blog entry, let's note that 1) Wasserman does not give evidence of being familiar with the content of the debate with Ehrman, and 2) he has misread the title of my blog entry, thinking that the "telling comment" is about the mere production of a new edition of The New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis. The telling comment to which I was making reference, in context, was that more had happened in the last fifteen years "than in any comparable fifteen year period" in the history of the discipline. I interpret this in light of my recent interaction with Ehrman, and Ehrman's own words. And so we continue with Wasserman's comments:
It is apparent that White knows very little of what he is talking about. Just because he happens to strongly disagree with Bart Ehrman's views of the transmission of the NT, which I am not trying to defend, he seems biased against everything associated with Bart Ehrman in a very unfortunate way.
Once again, I would like to hold open the possibility that Dr. Wasserman simply does not read English as well as Swedish. There is nothing in what I wrote that substantiates not only the dismissive and insulting comment, but more importantly, his assertion of "bias against everything associated with Bart Ehrman." This flows, of course, from his having completely missed the point of my blog entry. I welcome a new edition of the above work (one that has been in my personal library for years). It is painfully clear from my comments that I was not addressing the mere publication of a second edition. I was very much attuned to the underlying claim from Ehrman: that past 15 years is a watershed period. Why? Because of the shift in the paradigm to which I make reference.
At this point Wasserman is so far off the rails that the rest of the commentary is not overly useful, but for the sake of edification, I will review the rest anyway.
Ehrman's monograph from 1993, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture was already out when the volume on the Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research came out in 1995. To a great extent, the latter volume, with contributions from a wide range of twenty-three leading scholars, reflects a consensus on the status questionis in most areas of the discipline, while in some other areas a variety of views are represented. (Admittedly, the "Byzantine priority"-position held by e.g., Maurice Robinson is lacking.) In any case, I am quite confident that the second edition will in no less degree reflect the "width and depth" of scholarship in the field.Such is all well and good, but likewise irrelevant to my entire point, as we have now seen. I would note in passing that given Ehrman is working on a revision of Orthodox Corruption, there seems to be no limit as to how far the "bleeding edge" of scholarship will be willing to take this new direction, now that it is no longer shackled to the "myopic concerns" of the original text!
A lot has really happened in NT textual criticism in the last fifteen year period, which has very little to do with postmodernism. A lot of significant work has been and is being done in an increasing pace, most notably at the leading centres in Münster and Birmingham. In addition to a steady stream of new MSS (e.g., 26 more papyri and many more uncials, minuscules and lectonaries), we have seen the publication of new major editions, and significant developments in methodology. And, yes, even some new scholars have entered the field ;-). As one of those, who, btw, has not "thrown in the towel on the 'original text'," I very much look forward to contributing to the second edition.Again, Wasserman misses the point. Let's say a lot has happened in fifteen years. No one would dispute the assertion. However, what I quoted did not say "a lot has happened." It said that the past fifteen years arguably represents the busiest period in the entire history of textual critical studies. Would Dr. Wasserman wish to dispute the context in which I placed Ehrman's words? Do I need to post a clip of the audio from the debate where Ehrman makes note of this very thing in response to Silva (and in the context of condescendingly dismissing Kurt Aland's statements regarding the tenacity of the text of the NT)? Does he wish to argue that Ehrman's own words do not fit perfectly in the context of his own statements quoted above from 2006? He would have to do so if he is going to actually interact with what I said, not his misreading thereof.
I am glad Dr. Wasserman has not "thrown in the towel" on the original text. Elliott's insulting comments regarding Greenlee's book illustrates how deeply (and how quickly!) the abandonment of the "myopic concern" of the original text has penetrated into the "textual critical community," if such a thing actually exists. In fact, I commented fully on this on the DL:
Finally, Dr. Wasserman added,
(Besides, White could have mentioned where he got the announcement from in the first place.)I was sent the announcement in e-mail, actually, before I saw it in my RSS feeds.
Now as I noted above, Dr. Maurice Robinson provided a comment to the blog article:
Tommy has suggested that "It is apparent that White knows very little of what he is talking about." And yes, perhaps White is unaware of the more recent film acquisitions and investigative research being undertaken at Muenster and Birmingham, as well as the photographic work being carried out by Dan Wallace. But it is clear in White's comments that this is not what he is addressing; rather, his comments relate to the issue of underlying theory and praxis rather than material matters.
I have often promoted the work of CSNTM (I note Ehrman took a totally unwarranted and insulting shot at Dan Wallace and CSNTM in our debate, a shot that depended upon his continuing misrepresentation of "evangelicals"). I am aware of the work that is being done. But Dr. Robinson is correct: even if I were ignorant of these things, that isn't what I was talking about.
Speaking from a solidly evangelical perspective (and differing strongly with White on text-critical issues), I would say that, from an apologetic standpoint, White has put his finger directly on a real problem, holding up a proper mirror to evangelicals within the discipline.Exactly. I hope Dr. Robinson will affirm that I have bent over backwards to accurately represent his position (I have inserted a footnote in the new edition of The King James Only Controversy that is nearly a full page in size providing the information Dr. Robinson himself provided to me in defense of his position). I respect his work and his dedication to the discipline. Despite what some say about me, I am actually fully capable of respecting people while disagreeing with them on various issues.
As White notes on his blog, the "paradigm shift" is in fact a "shift in worldview" (the latter not included in Tommy's quote), and this shift in fact does represent "an abandonment of the paradigm of the preceding generations."
The issue of the Greenlee review and subsequent comments posted here also seem to reflect this very point: the evangelical worldview and text-critical model is simply belittled or ignored due to the paradigm shift.
In any case, I am thankful that Dr. Robinson saw the point of my post, and how Dr. Wasserman had missed it. I hope my clarification will be of assistance to my readers, and to Dr. Wasserman as well.
A Calvinist Responds to Michael Spencer, Internet Monk (Part II)
04/15/2005 - James WhiteI cannot comfortably say that the reformation of the church needs to remake it into the image of what I saw in the conservative resurgence in the SBC. I support much of that reformation, but where is the humility? The generosity of Jesus? The flavor and aroma of grace? I have had enough of war metaphors, because I have seen enough war. No more.
I'm not able to look into men's hearts like you seem to be able to so as to see their humility level. But this isn't why you are not like me anyway.
I am not like you because I constantly find Jesus taking me out of the places and labels other Christians find essential, and instead showing me that he is more, greater, deeper, wider than any way I can try to limit him. He was greater than my fundamentalism. He was greater than my Charismatic phase. He was greater than my liberal, seminary student days. He was greater than my years as a youth minister on church staff. Now I am finding he is greater than my years of Calvinism.
Again, lovely words, but I reject the idea that truth about Christ is a limitation of Christ. If He is "greater" that just means you were ignorant before...not that what you believed that was true is now false, or, worse, that nothing is true or false outside of your experience anyway.
There is a visible horizon with Jesus, because there are things I can understand and affirm in the creeds and confessions.
There's a spot where we are different: where did the inspired Scriptures go? ...
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Beckwith Claims to Have Read Trent
08/08/2007 - James WhiteLet's make it clear. Frank Beckwith claims to have read the Council of Trent prior to January of this year, and, seemingly, he is going to use my pointing to his comments about Trent as his sole means of avoiding the dozen or so issues I have raised since yesterday (in the materials below, such as Canon 13 at Nicea/Canon 6, the actual development of the complex of beliefs giving rise to indulgences, patristic citations---all the things he has avoided even commenting upon even though he raised the issues to which they are relevant) and as his sole means of covering his retreat. And yes, I use the term retreat for the simple reason that it was Dr. Beckwith who has made particular theological and historical claims, but, when challenged, for some reason, refuses to back them up. Evidently, in the minds of many in the Roman communion (as evidenced by their comments on Jimmy Akin's blog, the Catholic Answers forums, and the STR comments thread), he doesn't have to back up what he says. That is only something those outside "Mother Church" have to do.
He likewise is referring to this statement as the genesis of "internet midrash," which I find an interesting use of the term. He has said so on the Catholic Answers forums. So I would like to offer Dr. Beckwith all the space he needs right here on my blog to explain how, if he in fact read the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent in his twenties, he could say the following Sunday evening on Stand to Reason 42:37 into the program:
"If you read the Council of Trent...which, by the way, really shocked me. I expected to read this sort of horrible document, you know, requiring people to stick pins in their eyes, you know, and flagellate themselves, you know, and it turns out that there are things in there that are quite amazing, that the initial grace is given to us by God, in fact, there's a condemnation in there for anyone who says that our works, apart from grace...I mean, I thought to myself, I had not been told...I had been misinformed!"Specifically, if Dr. Beckwith wishes to provide replies to the following, I will gladly post them:
1) How can a person be shocked by re-reading something they read twenty years ago. Is it your claim that you had completely forgotten everything you had read then? Or is it your claim that you were so completely prejudiced in your twenties that you could not even read the document in a meaningful fashion?
2) How can someone speak of "expecting to read" something in a document that they have already read? Are you claiming that your prejudices were so deep that you had actually made up in your mind things like "sticking pins in your eyes" and "flagellation"?
3) How can you find "amazing" things in a document you read twenty years ago? Did you simply not read it well enough to understand it then?
4) If you read this document, how is it relevant to claim that you had not been "told" the truth about it?
5) If you read the document, how could you be misinformed about its contents?
Finally, would not a perfectly fair minded reading of these statements lead any rational person to the conclusion that this was, in fact, your first reading of the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent?
I will gladly post Dr. Beckwith's response here on this blog for all to read, should he wish to respond to this "Internet midrash."
While reviewing the thread on the Catholic Answers forums I saw no meaningful response to any of the issues raised in the materials cited in the previous blog entry (from the comments thread on the STR blog). ...
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A Brotherly Response: Updated! See Below
04/05/2010 - James White(Please see the end of the article for an update from Jim Elliff.)
I was directed to an article posted by Jim Elliff relating to…well, what I do, and I am compelled to provide what is hopefully a brotherly rebuttal and response.
On Thursday April 1 Craig Evans debated Bart Ehrman at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on the topic, "The Biblical Accounts of the Resurrection: Are They Reliable?" I am looking forward to hearing the recordings of this encounter. Evidently this encounter prompted Jim Elliff to write an article titled, "Public Debate with Bart Ehrman: A Bad Decision."
Pastor Elliff presents a general denunciation of (seemingly) all public debates with atheists, apostates, religious leaders from other faiths---in general, all "false teachers." Evidently, then, all teaching about apologetics should be one-sided, never involving interaction with false teachers of any kind. Pastor Elliff insists this is a biblical injunction. He writes,
First, because Ehrman is a false teacher and we are forbidden to give such men a forum to express their views.
I would agree that we are not to give false teachers a "forum to express their views" within the context of the worship of the church. That is what church discipline is all about. But that is a different thing from expanding this out to a general denunciation of any direct interaction with false teachers "on your turf" (whatever that might mean). I see no evidence that the apostles invited false teachers into the church to "dialogue" or debate, but surely Paul dialogued (debated) regularly with those who opposed his message (primarily Jewish opponents, but there is no reason to assume he did not respond to all false teachers, no matter what their views) in the public square. Neither text Elliff cites (2 John 10, Romans 16:17-18) speak to public disputations or encounters in an educational institution or in any context outside of the worship of the church. Pastor Elliff writes,
Inviting a false teacher to present his errant views in order to persuade students and the public is like allowing a gunman to shoot randomly out into an audience of military personnel because it is assumed the troops have body armor. For one thing, body armor cannot shield against all shots, and for another, there are many people attending who have no armor at all. At last week’s debate, for instance, there were many people from the public who were not even believers. Some young people also attended, and some seminary students who are not yet prepared for the effects of doubt-producing verbiage.
I appreciate the pastoral concern, however, I don't find this thinking realistic at all. The Bart Ehrmans of the world already "own" the "turf" of the educational system. Our society is soaked with their arguments and their "doubt-producing verbiage." They are the darlings of the media. Their books are the texts our children read in the university. They are on CNN and Fox, YouTube and Vimeo. We are the ones who can hardly ever get our views expressed in the public square, and even then, we almost never get to do so in a fair, moderated way so as to expose their errors. I have learned the value of cross-examination, of being able to ask the tough questions that no one else will, and about the only time that happens is in a scholarly, moderated debate. So, I really wonder if Pastor Elliff is unaware of how pervasive is the "doubt-producing verbiage" today, and, does he really believe the answer is to hide behind walls raised by ecclesiastical silence? Surely the church should be addressing these issues head-on in our teaching (as we surely do in my fellowship), but I would suggest that the proverbial horse is already well clear of the proverbial barn door. Our members will be encountering this "doubt-producing verbiage" day in and day out. How valuable it is to be able to provide them with direct refutations that demonstrate that we can stand face-to-face with the most probing critics of the faith! Pastor Elliff continued,
The assumption was that they would see Ehrman lose the debate and the Christian view would triumph. It didn’t happen. Now the work in evangelism by the friends who naively brought them is that much harder.
This is surely a naive and foolish assumption to bring into a debate with the leading critic of the Christian faith! But again, it could be said that unbelievers coming into that debate had the exact same assumptions, only in reverse. But I am again left wondering how Pastor Elliff's solution solves anything: how is the Christian believer aided by only getting to hear refutations of Ehrman that avoid engaging Ehrman himself? Again, they are going to hear his views on NPR and CNN and everywhere else, so, how is it better to get a response to Ehrman only in an ecclesiastical context, far from Ehrman himself? In fact, does it not follow that there are gifted men in the church who are called to "refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9) and that they would be the best ones to be dealing with Ehrman? How many local pastors can engage Ehrman's claims regarding the text of the New Testament? Is it not wiser to engage him in a formal debate context, and then make that specialized kind of refutation available for those who do not have the calling, or the training, to engage such issues?
Next, Pastor Elliff tells us that "the minority position almost always gains some followers regardless who wins the debate." But again, I find this thinking confusing. Preaching the truth will always have a result, and sometimes, it is a negative one. The lost are always looking for new ways to express their rebellion, are they not? I well know that when I debate, false professors amongst the flock may well find this to be a good reason to "jump ship." But, is that a bad thing? Unregenerate men move from religion to religion, unbelief to unbelief. Does Pastor Elliff believe God's elect will be taken in? I would hope not, hence, I do not see how this is a relevant argument. ...
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Of Squeamish Calvinists and Hyper-Arminians
03/18/2009 - James White
"Unless you impute human-like irrationality to God, I will call you names." This seems to be the attitude of many squeamish Calvinists on the net these days. Unless you are willing to drag God down to the level of a flummoxed suitor, who is torn between contradictory desires, you will be called to repent and labeled with terms meant only to damage your ministry, nothing more.
Those who have not been on the frontlines find it amenable to sit in their comfy computer chairs and opine away at the keyboard. They know they will never be called upon to present a consistent defense of the faith, especially in the face of competing world religions. So they have little concern about the use of words like "tension" and "mystery," which are so often used to do little more than cover over contradiction and irrationality. Some actually think they are giving a meaningful apologetic when they openly confess the contradictions in their proclamation.
There is everything right in pointing out that God is God and is under no obligation to explain Himself beyond what He feels is appropriate, right, and self-glorifying. Man has no grounds upon which to demand further explanation than God in His sovereign power and grace deigns to give. But it is quite another to take the revelation He hasgiven and turn it on its head, forcing it into self-contradictory and absurd stances. And to what end?
It seems many modern Calvinists are very squeamish about God being...a big meanie. The post-modern dedication to servile fear of the Horriblus Maximus of the offended man has propelled many into the realm of "God editing" so as to avoid that great cultural heresy. We need a God who is sufficiently like us that He can be as double-minded and bemused as we often are. Never mind His eternal existence outside of time, His imperturbable majesty, His solitary sufficiency. We need to insist that God has freely and inalterably decreed that which completely bums Him out. God has issues. He's conflicted. He has decreed to glorify Himself in the salvation of a peculiar people. He has chosen to glorify Himself in the just punishment of sinners, and He has even chosen to glorify Himself through the patient and gracious withholding of punishment of those sinners, replete with gifts of joy and happiness even in their rebellion, all to demonstrate His justice and mans unyielding rebellion. But since we as creatures cannot even begin to imagine such eternal consistency, such transcendent purpose, we get nervous. Such a God, being so...different, is in danger of offending the creature, man, and that simply is not going to be allowed. If one is going to dare to assert that God possesses a divine and eternal decree, one needs to soften that decree with some conflict, some issues, some doubt on God's part.
"Yes, God has chosen a particular people...."
"What? Thats not fair! What about all the other innocent people!"
"Well, they arent really innocent, but anyway...."
"But, God has to love everyone the same, you see, or I will be offended and will refuse to express warm fuzzies His direction!"
"OK, well, you see, God is actually conflicted about this eternal decree thing. He would like to save everyone, and really, really wants to, and will be eternally bummed that He didn't, and will often regret His actions, but He's in a tough spot. See, there's this idea of the demonstration of cosmic justice and all...."
"Oh! Well, if He is conflicted and is sort of acting against His own desires, much like I often have to do, then thats good. I like a God I can relate to."
Ah, wonderful! And all is well.
Now, if you dare to question this perspective, the response will be swift, and predictable. The reply will not be based upon providing sound biblical exegesis that overwhelms you with evidence that God is, in fact, deeply conflicted, and has been, eternally. It is hard to come up with that kind of idea from the descriptions of the Triune Yahweh in the Bible. Oh, sure, there are a few anthropomorphisms that can be shared gleefully with the open theists and the inclusivists and the universalists, etc., but you won't be in any danger of getting hit with a ton of sound exegesis on all the passages that plainly state that God is pursuing an eternal purpose that will result in His own singular glory. No,the retort you will receive will have little to do with exegesis, and everything to do with monikers. Nick-names. Associations.
Want a modern example? Consider Robert Reymond, a fine theologian, teacher, and godly man. Hyper-Calvinist! is the cry when he dares to point out the absurdity of attributing to God a self-imposed internal conflict that results, inevitably, in His own eternal unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. If you ask, "But, how do you respond to his actual argument?" you get back, "Hyper-Calvinist!" Evidently the very harshness of the phrase (especially its association with various and sundry nutcases on the Internet) is meant to stun your thought processes and cause you to curl up in the theological fetal position. You are to immediately run for cover, or join the growing throng that is gathering wood and fire to rid the earth of such a vile creature. The idea that the phrase has historical meaning is not in the forefront. The fact that it had a meaning in Spurgeon's England that is different in many respects from modern day America is likewise cast to the wind. No, once the Hyper epithet has been used, you might as well try naming your kid Hitler and get away with it. The argument is over.
What has this mini-Reformed-jihad gotten us? Well, thanks to these folks most are afraid to even admit to owning a single volume of John Gill's works. Heres how the conversation goes.
"Well, I noted that on that particular text relating to the resurrection John Gill said...."
"JOHN GILL!!?? You're a hyper-Calvinist!"
"What? I was talking about his comments on the resurrection."
"But he was a hyper-Calvinist, and every person who has ever read a word he wrote is a hyper-Calvinist, and every person with one of his books in their library is a hyper-Calvinist, and every person who has ever owned a John Gill book believes and lives and thinks exactly like John Gill, and is therefore a hyper-Calvinist. And to agree with anything John Gill ever said is to prove, beyond all dispute and argument, that you are a hyper-Calvinist!"
"But...John Gill masterfully defended such things at the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the resurrection...."
"I can't believe you are a hyper-Calvinist! I had so much respect for you before!"
About the only positive thing I can see that has come from the SC movement (Squeamish Calvinists) has been the sale of plain book covers---used to hide The Cause of God and Truth so that you don't offend them when they are scanning your library shelves for evidence of unorthodoxy. But the general fear that exists in those writing for the Reformed community at running afoul of one of these self-appointed label-makers is most lamentable. If you dare disagree with the comments of Spurgeon or Murray (never mind being able to fairly, soundly cite others who have done the same) your reasons for doing so will not matter. Labels defy reason, they defy argument, they defy consistency. Allow me to throw myself upon the sacrificial pyre in hopes of edifying the reader....
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One Last Set of Replies to the Top Ten List
09/03/2007 - James WhiteI was directed to another set of replies to the top ten questions I posted a few days ago in answer to a question sent in by e-mail. I don't get the feeling they were offered in an overly serious manner, so I will skip most of them. But I did find some of the comments left on the blog indicative of the mindset of many Roman Catholics, and of converts thereto. Note this one:
I had seen the excitement over White's questionaire [sic] floating around the blogosphere. I really wasn't interested in it enough to visit his site, since I was pretty confident it would be nothing more than one of his typical attacks on Catholicism. I'm glad you posted it on your blog; that's the only way I would have ever read it. Interesting stuff!
Well thank you so much! The same open-minded fairness can be heard in these comments:
Though I am not a Roman Catholic, there is much to embrace and their [sic] is much mis-representation coming from the Protestant side. I did not care for James White's smug questions.
Joseph, Don't bother with his site, I have seen enough of Mr. White to be completely turned off. I have never seen someone so sure he is right in pretty much all theological matters.
Yes, well, we wouldn't want to be confident in our beliefs now! Post-modern Westerners want you to exhibit "epistemological humility," i.e., don't proclaim the gospel with confidence. Don't say one thing is right and another is wrong. But anyway, these kind comments aside, our writer had the following to say:
8) Have you looked carefully at the claims of Rome in a historical light, specifically, have you examined her claims regarding the "unanimous consent" of the Fathers, and all the evidence that exists that stands contrary not only to the universal claims ofthe Papacy but especially to the concept of Papal Infallibility? How do you explain, consistently, the history of the early church in light of modern claims made by Rome? How do you explain such things as the Pornocracy and the Babylonian Captivity of the Church without assuming the truthfulness of the very system you are embracing?
I believe I have looked carefully. I do not know what Mr. White means by unanimous consent.
The phrase is used by Rome at the 4th Session of the Council of Trent, in these famous words:
Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,--in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, --wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,--whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,--hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published.
Vatican I used similar language:
...we, therefore, for the preservation, safe-keeping, and increase of the Catholic flock, with the approval of the sacred Council, do judge it to be necessary to propose to the belief and acceptance of all the faithful, in accordance with the ancient and constant faith of the universal Church, the doctrine touching the institution, perpetuity, and nature of the sacred Apostolic Primacy...
At open variance with this clear doctrine of Holy Scripture as it has been ever understood by the Catholic Church are the perverse opinions of those who, while they distort the form of government established by Christ the Lord in his Church, deny that Peter in his single person, preferably to all the other Apostles, whether taken separately or together, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction;
Note the words of Satis Cognitum (June, 1896): "Wherefore, in the decree of the Vatican Council as to the nature and authority of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, no newly conceived opinion is set forth, but the venerable and constant belief of every age.
If he means that 100% of church fathers have to believe something for the Catholic claims to be valid, that would give, ex post facto, a limitless veto power to any one father (who would not have realized he was wielding this power when he wrote). I do not know if he means Papal Infallibility the way I have read it defended.
I mean unanimous consent isn't really unanimous consent, and that while Roman controversialists like to use it in its "big" sense in passing, they then have to make it "not so unanimous" and, in the very doctrines Rome uses it most, admit that "well, unanimous might actually be less than 50%."
I do not know what remains to be explained about the Pornocracy et al.My questions were not really intended for those willing to accept any "explanation" no matter how stretched or shaky it might be, to be honest.
The Catholics claim that the church is not free from sinful people; they say the Church is semper reformanda.Of course, no one has ever claimed that impeccability is required. But anyone who has read about the history of the Papacy knows there is a difference between impeccability and basic, simple regeneration. And for a lengthy period, the Papacy was held by men the lost world itself considered reprobates. Evidently, when it comes to the Papacy, no amount of immoral behavior, false teaching, or general improper behavior, is sufficient to overthrow the ever-strong desire for a king.
No one questions the authority of the Apostles, but what does this have to do with Honorius, I might ask? Or Innocent III? If the last portion of the last sentence has something to do with a claim regarding canonization, why would it take 1546 years to accomplish this task, I am forced to wonder?7) Have you applied the same standards to the testing of Rome's ultimate claims of authority that Roman Catholic apologists use to attack sola scriptura? How do you explain the fact that Rome's answers to her own objections are circular? For example, if she claims you need the Church to establish an infallible canon, how does that actually answer the question, since you now have to ask how Rome comes to have this infallible knowledge. Or if it is argued that sola scriptura produces anarchy, why doesn't Rome's magisterium produce unanimity and harmony? And if someone claims there are 33,000 denominations due to sola scriptura, since that outrageous number has been debunked repeatedly (see Eric Svendsen's Upon This Slippery Rock for full documentation), have you asked them why they are so dishonest and sloppy with their research?
I have applied the same standards to all my analysis, thank you for asking. Regarding circular logic, I believe the Romanist would say that Christ promised us that he would give his Holy Spirit, and the Book of Acts records this very event. This, and Christs commissioning of the Apostles should give us some reason to believe that their claims to authority could be valid, certainly valid enough to identify which texts this same Holy Spirit inspired.
Rome's claims do not nearly produce harmony.Well, I am not sure what this means, but it does remind me of an off-the-cuff remark one of my debate opponents made years ago. I really dont think he meant to say whathe said, but it was an honest remark. I pointed out that there was a whole stream of Roman Catholic opinion different than his own on an important point, and sort of absent mindedly he said, "Yes, there are a lot more opinions since we stopped the Inquisition." Uh, yeah, I guess so. Rome's claims...and her political power...surely did produce a form of "harmony," if you consider that a meaningful use of the term. I would say harmony that is produced by anything other than the Spirit of God applying the truth of God from the Word of God is not true harmony. Today I would invite this writer to visit Boston College sometime and see just how harmonious Rome really is. When Rome starts bringing discipline to bear on the wild-eyed liberal wackos who parade under the banner of "Roman Catholic scholarship" then we can talk about "harmony." Till then, I find the claim significantly less than compelling.
Many walked away from Christ when he explained that His flesh had to be eaten for salvation.Funny, when you actually read the text, it says they walked away because He kept saying, "And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.' As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore." That looks like it says "as a result of this," but one might need the Pope to explain the actual grammatical construction. Oh, wait...I don't believe this text has been infallibly interpreted yet. If Jimmy Akin is correct, and only eight texts have been infallibly defined, that's one text every...two hundred and fifty years. Well, I guess we could hold out and hope that by 2250 this text will be the next one infallibly determined, but the chances are not overly good.
Rome's criticism (in observing the factionalism of Protestantism) is that our claim that the Bible is a sufficient sole rule of faith has been disproved by reality, as we are in such wide disagreement on its interpretation, even in essential matters.So, the realistic factionalism of Rome would prove the magisterium insufficient, yes? Or, is the entire argument that a sufficient rule of faith is supposed to banish the sinfulness of man? Man's ignorance? Rebellion? Traditions? Given that there were false teachers in the days of the Apostles, and no one would argue that they were an insufficient guide, why is it assumed that the existence of false teachers in the days of the Scriptures means they are insufficient? Of course, these issues have been addressed many times, so I wonder if this writer has, in fact, read Goode or Whitaker or Salmon?
There may not be harmony, or even obedience in Catholicism about the use of, say, the Pill (an abortifacient), but at least everyone understands that their Church has spoken against it.As if that is the only area where Roman Catholics disagree! Given that the literary mass of the teachings of Rome is far larger than that of the Bible, upon what logical basis are we to believe that it is easier to interpret that body of literature than it is the Bible?
Incidentally, and speaking of essentials, I believe Calvin would say that Mr. White's Reformed Baptists are not part of the true church, since they do not properly attend to the Sacraments.I haven't any idea why this shot was included, but while that would have been true (does he think I am unaware of this?), what does it have to do with anything? I hold Calvin to the same standard I hold anyone else to--the very standard he would have had me use, if he could be allowed to be consistent given his historical situation. I have recently provided what is, I think, an excellent example of how this works in my debate with Bill Shishko on baptism.
Regarding Indulgences and Paul's doctrine of Grace, this textual criticism does not account for the Catholic defense that Indulgences are able to relieve only temporal punishment. Eternal punishment is cured by Christs grace alone (Cf. Paul's doctrine of grace taught to the Romans).It may be quite convenient to make such a distinction so as to dismiss the words of Indulgentiarum Doctrina,but the fact is the text speaks of God's grace as God's grace in words that would make any mind trained in apostolic doctrine as revealed in inspired Scripture jolt in revulsion. You can do your best to get around this kind of abhorrent material, butit is part and parcel of Rome's literary production, and more importantly, a part of her theology. ...
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Guessing About God: Mormonism's Inability to Resist the Onslaught of Modernistic Skepticism (Part 10--Final Installment!)
05/09/2011 - James White
One aspect of that scriptural heritage that Christianity cannot shake is the identification of several divine beings as gods (Gen 6:2, 4; Deut 32:43 [LXX, 4QDeut-q]; Ps 29:1; 89:7; Ps 97:7, among dozens of others). There are even divine beings called the sons of God. Other literature is in agreement. In the Dead Sea Scrolls angels are repeatedly called gods (אלים). Even rabbinic and Christian literature recognizes the existence of other gods.
The modern notion of monotheism largely has more to do with philosophy than religion or the Bible, but in religious arenas it rests on the traditional decoupling of divine beings from the “god” taxonomy. Although the Bible makes reference to other gods, the ontological transcendence of God is so absolute that people just find it acceptable to consider him the only God. Mormonism, of course, has much the same approach. God will always be the highest God for humanity, and so Mormons largely consider themselves monotheistic. They worship one God. Ask a traditional Christian about the “sons of God” and the other divine beings in the Bible and they’ll respond, “Oh, they’re just angels,” or “they’re just subordinate/contingent/created beings.” Ask a Mormon about divinized human beings and they’ll point out that they will always have God above them. For Latter-day Saints, there is one God. Don’t Mormons believe that God is not the absolute highest God, though? Don’t they believe he had a God, too? Many of them do, although it’s not a notion to which they are bound. Additionally, according to the Bible—or at least the original version of portions of it—Yahweh was also not the highest God. The Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls show in Deut 32:8–9 that Yahweh was considered one of the sons of El, also known as Elyon. It states that Elyon divided the nations according to the number of the “sons of God.” Elyon gave Israel to Yahweh. It wasn’t until around the beginning of the monarchy that Yahweh was conflated with El.
We come now to the main reason I titled this series as I did. You see, Mormonism’s foundations are clear for us all to see. Joseph Fielding Smith put it bluntly when he said Smith “was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:188). Smith’s view of divine revelation, his claim of near constant latter-day revelation, and the resultant books of “scripture” he produced, tell us much about his viewpoints. And one thing is obvious: he wasn’t a German rationalistic liberal. He did not embrace the foundational principles of liberal theologians or simply destructive critics who took over just about every theological institution in Europe long ago, and who predominate, especially in Old Testament departments, in schools of theology in the United States. There is no evidence that his “inspired translation” of the Old Testament is based upon accepting rationalistic viewpoints such as the JEDP theory---just the opposite, his alterations, scattered as they are, show only a naïve “prophetic” impulse (how else do you explain finding an extra chapter of Genesis that is all about…you!?), not the sharp knife of the modern critic that begins with the assumption that these books are but the end result of a long process of unguided, natural historical processes. I do not think Smith would have understood the words of Gerhard Von Rad who, in commenting on a text in Deuteronomy 26, opined, “Deuteronomy is, after all, not the work of a lawgiver, but a collection of cultic and legal materials which are in part very heterogeneous and which have scarcely been brought into agreement with each other” (Von Rad, Deuteronomy: A Commentary, 1966, p. 158). Smith seriously believed he was “translating” the very handwritten records of Abraham when he was actually looking at Egyptian funerary documents from around the first century, so there is little reason to count him amongst the followers of modern destructive critics.
To understand McClellan’s assertions here, one must embrace a particular (and very popular) view of the Tanakh in particular that is fundamentally skeptical and unbelieving in its origins and practice. For those unfamiliar with the background, allow me to briefly summarize. Most Christians look at the Bible as a single volume with different chapters. But, of course, that is not an accurate perception. The Bible came to us over a long period of time through the hands of many different authors, as many as 40 in the Old Testament, less than a dozen in the New. Conservatives view the process in the Old Testament as taking about a thousand years, less-conservatives about six hundred. Some of the books of the Old Testament are anonymous in their authorship, others are not. If you embrace modern principles of skeptical criticism, you do not look at the Old Testament as a whole; you do not even look at the individual books as singular units. Instead, you are free to atomize the text, that is, cut it up into parts, and set these parts at odds with one another. Hence, some theorize that these documents are the end results of long periods of evolutionary editing (redaction) with all sorts of different sources providing the initial compilations, that are then edited over time. So, you might have one writer initially emphasizing one element or view, say, a priestly view; then another writer presents a different view, and he might be identified by his use of certain terminology, say, his use of the divine name Yahweh, or his non-use thereof, etc. Some of the sources used might be pagan in origin; sometimes the biblical writers are assumed to have been, well, quite dull and dim-witted, to be perfectly honesty with you, borrowing haphazardly from this or that, resulting in a poorly constructed compilation of contradictory views. But even this, then, goes through redaction, or editing, over time, where later writers, sensing these problems, attempt to correct them by editing and changing the text. ...
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Is Hebrews 11:35-37 a Proof for the Inclusion of the Apocrypha to the Canon?
01/05/2012 - James SwanI came across a Roman Catholic blogger referring to one of my articles and using it in support of including the Apocrypha in the canon of sacred Scripture. He set up a Protestant straw man argument that states, "The New Testament Never Alludes to the Deuterocanon." Then my article is cited as stating "Hebrews 11:35-37 appears to be a reference to 2 Maccabees 7." I found it fascinating that this Roman Catholic blogger (who identifies himself as "an attorney in D.C.") would reference my article and ignore the argumentation that led to my concluding remarks. Below is the entirety of my article.
Is Hebrews 11:35-37 a Proof for the Inclusion of the Apocrypha to the Canon?
The author of Hebrews states, "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). The certainty that God has spoken, and has done so in a fixed number of inspired books has swung open the doors to several confessions of faith. The London Confession of Baptist Faith opens by stating, "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience." The Westminster Confession states that God committed His word to writing, "for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world." The confession adds, "those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased." This point, while seemingly innocuous and held to as a basic Christian presupposition, is a point of contention between historic Protestants and Roman Catholicism on the extent of the fixed canon of sacred Scripture. Roman Catholics since the sixteenth century Council of Trent are required by dogmatic decree to accept an additional set of books almost all exclusively written during the intertestamental period known as either the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon. While the argument over the inclusion or exclusion of these books generally takes place in the realm of historical analysis, certain internal biblical arguments for either inclusion or exclusion are likewise put forth. One such internal argument is based on Hebrews 11:35-37.
Hebrews 11:35-37 states, "(35) Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection. (36) and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. (37) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated."
These verses, while intended to be a statement supporting the exposition and implication of biblical faith actually serve as a popular proof-text in the debate over the extent of the Hebrew canon. Those of Roman Catholic persuasion argue these verses are at least an allusion to 2 Maccabees 7:1, 13-14, if not a direct reference. These verses state,
"(1) It came to pass also, that seven brethren with their mother were taken, and compelled by the king against the law to taste swine's flesh, and were tormented with scourges and whips. (13) Now when this man was dead also, they tormented and mangled the fourth in like manner. (14) So when he was ready to die he said thus, It is good, being put to death by men, to look for hope from God to be raised up again by him: as for thee, thou shalt have no resurrection to life."
Is this parallel justified? Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis argues that there are "over two dozen such allusions between the Deutero-canonicals and the New Testament" [Robert Sungenis, Not By Scripture Alone (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing), p.278]. He lists this passage along with many others. According to Roman Catholic apologists, the reason for such parallels are due to the fact that the Bible used by the New Testament writers was the Greek Septuagint. Roman Catholics hold this Bible translation contained the Deuterocanon, and the disputed books were treated implicitly as sacred scripture by the New Testament authors, as well as the early church. Recently, Roman Catholic apologists have had a boost of support from a recent book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger by Gary Michuta. Mr. Michuta has presented the first full-length defense of Apocrypha inclusion coming from a Roman Catholic perspective in quite a while.
Michuta argues that Hebrews 11:35 is indeed a reference to the Maccabean martyrs, and is so with "a high degree of certainty." First, there are no other examples presented in the Greek Old Testament of persons undergoing torture and not accepting deliverance for the hope of a better resurrection."[Gary Michuta, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Port Huron: Grotto Press, 2007), p. 37]. Second, 2 Maccabees twice explicitly refers to a "hope for a better resurrection" as does Hebrews 11:35. Third, Michuta finds linguistic similarities between the words rendered "tormented" (or "tortured") in Hebrews with Eleazar's martyrdom in Maccabees. Hebrew 11:36 mentions "mockings and scourgings" as does 2 Maccabees 7:7, "So when the first was dead after this number, they brought the second to make him a mocking stock: and when they had pulled off the skin of his head with the hair, they asked him, Wilt thou eat, before thou be punished throughout every member of thy body?" Michuta summarizes these points by stating, "Apart from dogmatic prejudice, this reference to 2 Maccabees is unquestionable, and both Catholic and Protestant scholars rightly acknowledge this point of contact between Hebrews and the Deuterocanonical book of 2 Maccabees."[Ibid., p. 37].
If it can be established that the New Testament writers quoted the Apocrypha as Scripture, it would follow that the Protestant Bible is missing inspired God-breathed books. Michuta concludes his book by stating, "The removal of the Deuterocanon is indeed a matter of supreme importance, since it affects the very Word of God Himself; and its effects can be shown to have been devastating in both theology and practice"[Ibid., p. 308]. Has Mr. Michuta and Roman Catholic apologetics proved their contention? Did the writer of Hebrews implicitly consider the Apocrypha as God inspired scripture, and quote it as such in Hebrews 11?
At stake in such a controversy is the very certainty of the word of God. If Rome is correct, the Old Testament that the author of Hebrews believed in is not the same Old Testament that that the Westminster divines believed in. When the author of Hebrews stated the word of God is living, active, with a piercing sharpness, have Protestants dulled the blade by leaving the Apocryphal books out? Can Protestants consistently and actually find comfort and exhortation in the testimonies of faith found in Hebrew 11 if they actually deny the Biblical books from which the author compiled his list of faith's heroes?
Before delving specifically into answering these questions, it is crucial to review the immediate context surrounding the passage in dispute. The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts his readers to persevere amidst trials and persecution (Heb. 10:19-39). He reminds his readers that earlier they had earlier stood their ground "in a great contest in the face of suffering" (Heb, 10:32), even while being "publicly exposed to insult and persecution" (Heb. 10:33). They need to persevere (Heb. 10:36), because they are those who do not "shrink back" and are destroyed (Heb. 10:39).
They are those who are to live by faith, and are themselves part of a great community of saints. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) described at length in Hebrews 11, they are those whose faith was authored and finished be their great high priest, Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:3). Hebrews 11 presents a substantial panoply of specific events in Biblical history, beginning at creation, and taking the reader on a rapid journey through Hebrew history. The writer mentions and expounds briefly on specific individuals: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. All these mentioned have explicit Biblical references to substantiate their place among the heroes of faith. The writer of Hebrews also speaks of Israel collectively living by faith during the Exodus, and the claiming of the land promised to them by God.
Noting his limitation by time, toward the end of the chapter the writer ventures from the specific to general. He is unable to specifically expound with greater depth on others included in the great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 11:32). These though, are no less important: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets (Heb. 11:32). Similar to those presented in Hebrews 11:1-31, these names also find explicit mentioning in the Old Testament. These people would have been as familiar to the Hebrews as were those the writer did expound on. Hebrews 11:33-40 appears to be expounding on the names just mentioned:
"(33) Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, (34) quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. (35)Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; (36) and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. (37) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (38) (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. (39) And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, (40) because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect."
P. E. Hughes states this description is "spontaneous and unstudied" [William Lane, Hebrews 9-13 (WBC 47B) (Waco: Word, 1991), p. 385]. William Lane says these verses "presupposes a rather detailed knowledge of the OT and of Jewish history on the part of the writer and the congregation addressed" [Ibid., p. 385]. He further expounds on this section from Hebrews noting the section includes nine short clauses in vv 33-34. He speculates, "The first three appear to form a group prompted by the antecedent reference to those named in v 32b" [Ibid., p.385]. Verse 33 describes those "who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions." This verse clearly applies to those mentioned in Hebrews 11:32. Verse 33 first notes those "who by faith conquered kingdoms." As Albert Barnes noted long ago, "The meaning is, that some of them subdued kingdoms, others obtained promises, etc. Thus, Joshua subdued the nations of Canaan; Gideon the Midianites; Jephtha the Ammonites; David the Philistines, Amalekites, Jebusites, Edomites, etc." [Albert Barnes, Notes, on the Epistle to the Hebrews (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1876) pp. 293-294]. Here easily documented Biblical figures correspond to the description offered. These also "performed acts of righteousness." As John Gil described, these people "exercised vindictive justice, in taking vengeance on the enemies of God, and his people; civil righteousness, in the discharge of their offices; and moral righteousness, in their conversation before God and men" [John Gil , The Collected Works of John Gil (electronic edition) (Baptist Standard Bearer, 2002)]. These people also "obtained promises," promises from God to their posterity, specifically promises to be in God?s people, ruled by His Messiah.
Specific acts of courage and faith then follow. Some who lived by faith were able to "shut the mouths of lions." While some of the intended audience may have thought of Samson killing a lion in Judges 14:6, the reference was most likely to Daniel in the lion's den (Daniel 6). Daniel was also able to "quench the power of fire" as recorded in Daniel 3. Others "escaped the edge of the sword," perhaps an allusion to David as recorded in 2 Kings 6:16 in which David fled from Saul's deadly pursuit. Some "from weakness were made strong" may be an allusion to Samson who at times received increases in bodily strength, or David, who in times of weakness was refreshed by the Lord. Some "became mighty in war" and "put foreign armies to flight" could refer to most of those names mentioned in Hebrews 11:32. Recall how Gideon overthrew the camp of the Midianites.
From the preceding, it is obvious the writer to the Hebrews assumes his readers are quite familiar with the history of the Jewish people as recorded in the Bible. William Lane implies through his exposition of this section that the examples given in 11:32-40 not only show a deep familiarity with the biblical record, but possibly a correspondence to Jewish extra-biblical history as well. Lane points out that these two counts of divine deliverance reported in the book of Daniel are linked and mentioned together in Jewish tradition in 1 Maccabees 2:59-60; 3 Maccabees 6:6-7; 4 Maccabees 16:3, 21; 18: 12-13 [Lane, p.386]. He also states, "The reference to David is not surprising since he holds such a firm place in the exemplary tradition (e.g., Sir 45:25; 47:2-11; 1 Macc 2:15)" [Ibid., 384]. Lane see verse 34 as not only deeply biblical, but also "richly illustrated in the early Maccabean resistance to Seleucid repression at the time of Antiochus IV Epipihanes (cf. 1 Macc 3:17-25; 4:6-22, 34-36)" [Ibid., p. 387]. Despite Lane's appeal to Jewish tradition, one thing is most certain; the names and descriptions presented in Hebrews 11:32-34 are first and foremost biblical. Lane himself is most aware of this. Commenting on the overall structure of Hebrews 11, he states, "In brief, the introduction, first two examples, and conclusion of Heb 11:1-40 take the form of a list of attested exemplars who receive divine approval in the pages of Scripture" [Ibid., p.319]. It is to the controversial verses that we now turn. Does the writer to the Hebrews abandon the Biblical text, or does he have a different Old Testament than that used by Protestants?
Hebrews 11:35 states, "Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection." Some commentators see "Women received back their dead by resurrection" as an allusion to the widow at Zarephath of Sidon, who saw her dead son come back to life by the faith of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24). Jamieson, Fausset and Brown point out the oldest manuscripts read, "They received women of aliens by raising their dead." They point out "1 Kings 17:24 shows that the raising of the widow's son by Elijah led her to the faith, so that he thus took her into fellowship, an alien though she was" [Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on Hebrews (ESword Electronic Edition, 2008)]. Other commentators see the verse alluding to the Shunamite in 2 Kings 4:36. William Lane argues the language in 35a parallels that used by the LXX in 2 Kings 4:37 which states, "The woman?received her son."
"Others were tortured" is the first glimpse of a possible Apocryphal allusion. Barnes notes, "The word which is used here - t?µpa???? tumpanizo - to 'tympanize,' refers to a form of severe torture" that also is described in 2 Maccabees 6:19-29 [Barnes, pp. 294-295]. Likewise, William Lane sees the word translated as "tortured" as the rack or stake to which people were tied to, as described in 2 Maccabees 6:19, 28. Calvin notes that some have translated the word as "imprisoned," but likewise agrees, "the simple meaning is, as I think, that they were stretched on a rack, as the skin of a drum, which is distended" [Calvin, The comprehensive John Calvin collection 2.0 (Ages Digital Library, 2002)].
Lane also sees "not accepting their release" as a statement "amply illustrated by the behavior of the ninety-year-old scribe, Eleazar, who refused the pretense of renouncing commitment to God so that he might 'be released from death' (2 Macc 6:22). He willingly chose the rack and endured a brutal beating" [Lane, p. 389]. In 2 Maccabees 6:30 Eleazar states, "But when he was ready to die with stripes, he groaned, and said, It is manifest unto the Lord, that hath the holy knowledge, that whereas I might have been delivered from death, I now endure sore pains in body by being beaten: but in soul am well content to suffer these things, because I fear him." Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, and John Gil, state a similar opinion. John Calvin comes close to locating the allusion away from the Apocrypha, but likewise states, "Now though they say that Jeremiah was stoned, that Isaiah was sawn asunder, and though sacred history relates that Elijah, Elisha, and other Prophets, wandered on mountains and in caves; yet I doubt not but he here points out those persecutions which Antiochus carried on against God's people, and those which afterwards followed" [Calvin, The comprehensive John Calvin collection 2.0 (Ages Digital Library, 2002)].
"So that they might obtain a better resurrection" is best understood as a contrast with those children restored to their mothers mentioned in verse 35. The "better resurrection" is one in which death does not return as it did to those sons given back those their mothers. Lane states, "The reference to the refusal of release and the enduring of torment in the context of a firm expectation of attaining the resurrection shows unmistakably that the allusion in v 35b is to 2 Macc 6:18-7:42, where the Jewish historian recounts the martyrdom of Eleazar and of a mother and her seven sons at the hands of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his officers. Specific reference is made to the hope of the resurrection in the account of the sufferings endured by three of the seven brothers, as well as in the encouragement offered to them by their mother (2 Macc 7:9, 11, 14, 22-23, 29)" [ Lane, p.389]. On this phrase, Albert Barnes comments that, "No particular instance of this kind is mentioned in the Old Testament; but amidst the multitude of cases of persecution to which good men were subjected, there is no improbability in supposing that this may have occurred. The case of Eleazer, recorded in 2 Macc. 6, so strongly resembles what the apostle says here, that it is very possible he may have had it in his eye" [Barnes, pp. 294-295].
The phrase, "and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment" can find support for the abusive persecution of the prophets documented in 2 Chronicles 36:23; Jeremiah 20:7-8; 37:15-16, 18-20; 38: 6-13. John Gill notes "As Samson by the Philistines; Elisha by the children, whom the bears devoured; Jeremiah by Pashur, and others; the Jews by Sanballat and Tobiah, when building the temple; the prophets, whom God sent to the Jews, as his messengers, and scourgings; or smitings, as Jeremiah and Micaiah, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment; as Joseph, Samson, and Jeremiah, Gen 39:20. Now of these things they had trial, or experience; their graces were tried by them, and they patiently endured them" [John Gil , The Collected Works of John Gil (electronic edition) (Baptist Standard Bearer, 2002)]. The abuse described does again find support from 2 Maccabees 7:1.
"They were stoned," finds mention of Biblical support from 2 Chronicles 24:20-21 in which the prophet Zechariah was killed in such a way. The New Testament though infers Jerusalem used this method against God's prophets often in the past (Matt 23:27; Luke 13:34). Jewish tradition gives various accounts of the stoning of the prophet Jeremiah in the Midrash Aggadah and 4 Baruch, a theme picked up on by the early church in The Lives of the Prophets, a work attributed to Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis (315-403 C.E.).
"They were sawn in two" could refer to the tradition about the death of Isaiah in which he was found hiding in a tree trunk, and thus killed by a saw for taking refuge in a tree. The Ascension of Isaiah was well known in the early church. It had wide circulation, with manuscripts extant in Ethiopic, Coptic, Slavonic, Latin and also, some segments of it can be found in Greek. The tradition concerning Isaiah's dreadful death by Manasseh was popular in Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic circles. John Gill reviews different versions of the story found in Jewish tradition, and then notes how widely accepted it was in the early church by Justin Martyr, Origen, Tertullian, Lactantius, Athanasius, Hilary, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nyssene, Jerome, Isidorus Pelusiota, Gregentius, Procopius Gazaeus, and others.
The phrase "they were tempted" could allude to many different biblical personages, like Job, tempted by Satan. John Gill sees Eleazar and the seven brethren with their mother tempted to deny the faith and renounce the worship of God in 2 Maccabees 6:7. Albert Barnes likewise locates one of the descriptions of those tempted in the Apocrypha: "Amidst the sorrows of martyrs, therefore, it was not improper to say that they were tempted, and to place this among their most aggravated woes. For instances of this nature, see 2 Macc. 6:21, 22; 7:17, 24" [Barnes, pp. 295-296].
"They were put to death with the sword" presents the opposite of those who, in verse 34, "escaped the edge of the sword." Eighty-five priests were slain by Doeg 1Sa_22:18. Lane points out, "Elijah escaped the wrath of Jezebel, but other prophets had not been so fortunate (1 Kgs 18:4, 13; 19:10). The prophet Uriah?was 'struck down by the sword'" [Lane ,p. 391]. Lane though adds, "The fate of being murdered by the sword was certainly not an isolated experience in the OT or in the post-biblical period (cf. 1 Macc 1:30; 2:9, 38; 5:13; 7:15-17, 19; 2 Macc 5:24-26)" [Ibid., p, 391].
Elijah and Elisha certainly "went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated." Zechariah 13:4 infers that this was the standard garb of a prophet. Within the early church, 1 Clement urged believers to imitate "those who went about in goatskins and sheepskins, heralding the coming of Christ; we mean Elijah and Elisha, and moreover Ezekiel, the prophets" (1 Clement 17:1).
1 Kings 18:4 records prophets hiding in caves. Certainly the biblical prophets fit the description "men of whom the world was not worthy." 2 Maccabees 10:6 records, "And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts." Albert Barnes likewise finds Apocryphal allusion: "Compare 1 Macc. 1:53; 2 Macc. 5:27; 6:7. The instances mentioned in the books of Maccabees are so much in point, that there is no impropriety in supposing that Paul referred to some such cases, if not these very cases. As there is no doubt about their historic truth, there was no impropriety in referring to them, though they are not mentioned in the canonical books of Scripture. One of those cases may be referred to as strikingly illustrating what is here said. 'But Judas Maccabeus with nine others or thereabout, withdrew himself into the wilderness, and lived in the mountains after the manner of beasts, with his company, who fed on herbs continually lest they should be partakers of the pollution;' 2 Macc. 5:27" [Barnes, pp. 296-297].
It seems highly probable the writer to the Hebrews alluded to the Apocrypha in chapter 11. The parallels Roman Catholic apologists suggest particularly in verse 35 and 2 Maccabees seem likely. "Others were tortured," "not accepting their release" and "so that they might obtain a better resurrection" appear to be the closest points of contact with 2 Maccabees. As noted above, other vague points of contact could be inferred, but not with the same level of certitude of these three statements. Within the arena of rhetoric and polemics, the above study demonstrates that Protestant exegetes do not disagree with the possibility of Apocryphal allusions in Hebrews 11. Protestants are not hiding the fact that 2 Maccabees may be what the writer to the Hebrews has in mind.
Did the writer of Hebrews therefore implicitly consider the Apocrypha as God inspired scripture, and quote it as such in Hebrews 11? This does not necessarily follow. Other non-biblical books are quoted in scripture, but not treated as Scripture. Jude quotes from the Apocryphal Book of Enoch in Jude 14, and some see a possible allusion to the Assumption of Moses in Jude 1:9. Paul quotes pagan poets and philosophers on Mars Hill, and an allusion to the Penitence of Jannes and Jambres may be found in 2 Timothy 3:8.
Even within Hebrews, the writer may be alluding to spurious accounts concerning Jeremiah and Isaiah in 11:37. Sensing the weight of such a criticism, Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta states, "The reference to the noncanonical book, The Ascension of Isaiah, in Heb 11:37 does not negate my point. It is not my contention that Heb 11 used only information supplied by Scripture, but that it uses only biblical figures to illustrate supernatural faith. That is clear from the preceding context. The reference to those who were 'sawn in two' is an expansion on the biblical figure of the prophet Isaiah. One can find numerous expansions of biblical figures in the New Testament from apocryphal sources, but none introduces new biblical characters" [Michuta, 41]. Does such an explanation satisfy? No, for it is an invention of Roman Catholic apologetics to weave around an obvious flaw in argumentation. On what basis does one decide that expansion is an allowable method in the usage of non-biblical material for the inspired writers? It is a created distinction. There is nothing within the dogmatic statements from Rome noting this as an accepted method of biblical interpretation.
Roman Catholics argue that since the Septuagint contained Apocryphal books, they were considered scripture. This argument fails for a number of reasons. First, it is not certain that simply because an Apocryphal book was found in an LXX that the Jews considered it scripture. Like the early church, the books could have been included to be used for reading and edification but not considered inspired scripture. Second, the extant evidence shows different Apocryphal books are included in different early manuscripts. That is, no early manuscript contains all the Apocryphal books argued for by Rome. Some of the early manuscripts actually contain 3 and 4 Maccabees, writings not considered canonical by Rome.
Contrary to Roman Catholic claims, it does not follow that Protestant Bibles are missing inspired God-breathed books. Rather, the writer to the Hebrews included both heroes of faith from the Bible and Jewish tradition. For the writer of Hebrews, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. This did not mean for the writer that God's hand cannot be seen in extra-biblical history. As in our own day, the promises of Scripture are to be clung to as God's hand of providence directs history. Since each ounce of history is directed by God, the lives of his people both from the Bible and those outside the Bible, can be seen as examples of those who live by faith, and referred to for encouragement.
100 Verses for Witnessing to Mormons - Vintage
11/03/2012 - James White"The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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." (Hebrews 4:12 KJV). The ability to utilize the Word of God accurately and correctly in the witnessing situation is a great asset. When dealing with people who already have a faith structure, it is vital.
This booklet outlines 100 verses of Scripture that have proven effective in the witnessing situation with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or, the Mormons. This listing of verses is the result of many hundreds of hours of one-on-one and sometimes one-on-twenty witnessing, ranging from people's homes to street corners, Mormon pageants, and even the Temple in Salt Lake City during General Conference. They have been tested under fire, and, when properly used, have proven their worth.
Of course, any verse without a context is a pretext, and you will want to be thoroughly familiar with the context of each of these passages. Still, the ability to quote a verse from memory and skillfully utilize that text in debate is needful to the person who wishes to be truly equipped and prepared. Most conversations between a Christian and a Mormon will be moving far too fast for looking up verses in the concordance of a Bible, and I have found that being able to quote a verse quickly and accurately gives the Christian the advantage of keeping control of the conversation, an occurrence all too rare in most cases.
This booklet alone cannot provide you with all the information you need to be properly prepared to enter the battlefield. Study of Mormon doctrine is important, and even more important is the study of the basic Christian doctrines. Hopefully memorizing 100 verses will set you on a life-long course of Scripture memorization that will help you grow in the knowledge of God's Word and in your relationship with Him. I openly acknowledge the great influence of one of the best missionaries to the Mormons, Wally Tope. Though not specifically involved in the production of this work, his book On the Frontlines Witnessing to Mormons provided me with my "basic training" years ago, and that influence can be seen in the Scripture selections found herein.
How Do I Memorize that Many Verses???
Different people memorize in different ways. Don't believe the old excuse that you simply cannot memorize verses - I feel anyone is able to accomplish that task. When you think about it, you memorize a great deal of information every day. How many phone numbers do you know? How many addresses? Most of us, if we sat down and took the time to do it, could create a long list of names and phone numbers and combinations and codes and so on and so on. Hence, you are able to memorize Scripture is you really want to. That is the key - you must desire it with all your heart, and be willing to make the commitment that it takes to get the job done.
Repetition is important in learning. Somehow you must devise a system whereby you are able to review your verses on a daily basis. This is not something that will end after the 100th verse is memorized - it will go on for the rest of your life if you really want to keep the verses fresh in your mind. My system began by keeping a master list of all verses memorized, as well as those being worked on. Once a verse is memorized, it is placed on the list and reviewed each day for ten days, a place for a mark being available for each of the days. When the ten day review is over, it is placed in a category that is reviewed once every week or month.
But how do I memorize the verse? The most effective method I have found involves quotation and writing. Read over the verse three or four times, noting the natural breaks and rhythms. Begin trying to quote from memory, making sure to check your accuracy - you don't want to start off memorizing it incorrectly! Once you can quote it ten times straight, take out a sheet of paper and begin to write it. Check the written verse for correct-ness. Write it again, and check it again. Write it at least 5 times. This seems to really ingrain the verse in the memory. Make sure to review it each day for at least 10 days.
Once you begin to have a fairly extensive list, you may want to upgrade your system. I eventually had to go to a 3 X 5 card system. This is especially handy in reviewing a long list of verses, as it cuts down on having to look up each verse in the Bible. It is also helpful to be able to categorize the verses in general category headings.
There are numerous variations on the above method, and you may not like any of them. No matter how you do it, make it a priority. Without a commitment to following through you will never get the verses down. Believe me, the thrill of being able to answer the attacks of a whole group of Mormon Elders while pushing forward the claims of Christ on their lives is well worth the effort of memorization.
But Which Version Do I Use??
That is a very good question. Most would immediately answer - "why, King James of course!" It is true that since the LDS Church accepts only the KJV, it is the one familiar to most Mormons. However, many Christians today perfer memorizing the Word in a translation that re-presents both modern language and modern textual inform-ation. As many of these verses will mean much to you in your personal life, the choice is up to you. I personally began with the King James Version and switched to the New American Standard at a later time, a situation which presents its own problems, to be sure. If you choose to go with a more modern version, realize that you will need to be able to give a good, quick, concise and accurate explanation of how we get the Bible, including textual history and translation. Most Mormons don't know a thing about the subject whatsoever, and rarely does a Christian have to go very in-depth. But if you use another translation other than the KJV, you will have to give a good reason for it. For the sake of simplicity, I will follow the KJV in quoting the verses, and will point out translation difficulties when they arise.
The Program ...
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