Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Svendsen Replies to Sungenis
11/26/2003 - James White
Just a quick note to let you know that Eric Svendsen has rebutted Sungenis' article. It seems Sungenis didn't learn much from the Mr. X debacle. :-) Click here.
More on the Slick/Sungenis Discussion
07/15/2010 - James WhiteI continued my review of the Slick/Sungenis discussion, today discussing issues relating to sola scriptura and textual critical issues. We will continue with a discussion of tradition and Scripture on the next DL, which will be Monday afternoon at 4pm. Here's the program.
And They All Lived Happily Ever After?
03/26/2007 - James SwanIt wasn't that long ago my Roman Catholic friends directed me to the books of Robert Sungenis as the definitive works refuting sola scriptura and sola fide. He was the apologist extraordinaire, a seminary trained ex-protestant; yet another wonder-convert who swam the Tiber. There was such an amazing gathering of ex-Protestants, all living in harmony, zealously defending Rome.
I'm not really sure what's going with Robert Sungenis these days. Consider the rift between Sungenis and Ben Douglass. They are currently engaged in a web-page war. It's not just Douglas, Sungenis is engaged in battle with many others in the Catholic apologetic community. Consider the following from his current 41 page document:
"It is my personal opinion that it has gotten so bad that I think it would be safe to say that much of Catholicism and Catholic apologetics today has been taken over, to a very large extent, by Jewish influence, and I believe it is going to get worse."These are only a few quotes from Sungenis who begins, "I'm mad, and I'm not going to take it anymore." Recall Sungenis wrote the books, Not By Faith alone and Not By Scripture Alone. Perhaps the next title will be Sungenis: All Alone.
"Bill Cork often portrays me as a Nazi sympathizer and claimed in his first essay (2002) that I would have put his kids in a gas chamber!"
"Yes, my interpretation of Leo was incorrect, and I have since corrected it long before Mr. Douglass pointed it out. All he had to do was read my latest essays on the subject. But the point still remains: there is no consensus of the Fathers on the conversion of the Jews, and there wasn't any consensus in the Middle Ages as well, that is, if we define consensus as Church teaching tells us. Moreover, if he believes that the consensus of the Fathers requires us to believe what they taught, then his colleagues (Palm, Forrest, Michael, Shea, et al.) are required to believe in Geocentrism without question, since, as even St. Robert Bellarmine said to Galileo, the Fathers were in consensus that the earth was immobile."
"I've been through Mr. Michael's so-called consensus. There is no consensus, but he is too biased to see it. A consensus is when ALL of the Fathers of a large number of Fathers who wrote on a certain point of doctrine agree on that doctrine, not when, perhaps, a half-dozen or so have similar ideas."
Bob Sungenis Roots for the Cardinals
11/19/2003 - James White
The Arizona Cardinals stink. Let's face it. They got clocked 44-6 this past weekend, and they are headed for another one of their regular 4-12 type seasons. I have often said I'd be happy to volunteer to pack them up and ship them off to any city willing to take them. They are just bad from top to bottom. So why would I say Sungenis roots for the Cardinals? Well, late last night, a few hours after the Dividing Line featuring Gerry Matatics, Sungenis posted a review on his website. Well, no, not a review. I don't know what to call it. If you have listened to that edition of the Dividing Line and want some of the clearest evidence ever offered that some folks suffer from massively selective hearing, check it out. It is almost humorous, if it didn't involve obvious spiritual blindness. (BTW, Sungenis should really leave the cheesey titles to Scott Hahn. Though Hahn's define the term "cheese," at least, considered singularly, they normally carry a small amount of humor. Sungenis' article is titled, "Ding, Dong, The Witch is Dead." Excuse me?) Outside of the expected egregious misrepresentations, the whole thing is focused on a single issue. To summarize, "Hey, hey, don't listen to all those questions that didn't get an answer, just think of one thing: we have a single exception to Dr. Svendsen's thesis in a non-biblical source outside of the time parameters he examined! Wahoo! We have an exception to a rule of grammar! We win! We win! WE ARE #1!" And that's why I say Bob Sungenis roots for the Cardinals. See, it's one thing to say, "Hey, I'm a Cardinals fan, whether they win, or lose...and lose...and lose." I admire that kind of die-hard fan. But that is very different from standing there in the 4th quarter as the Cards are down by 30+ points screaming, "Yeah man, we are the BEST! We ROCK!" That's simple self-deception. And that's Bob Sungenis. He can listen to Matatics self-destruct on the level of not even being able to read a lexical entry properly and that doesn't even create a blip on his radar screen. Why? "Cuz Rome rules! WE ARE #1!" Just as the Cardinals will only get to the Super Bowl by purchasing tickets to it in 2008 (here in Phoenix), Rome will only get you the consolation prize of deception now, and destruction at the final judgment.
Today on the Dividing Line: Ergun Caner Update, Robert Sungenis on Predestination, Calvary Chapel
03/16/2010 - James WhiteDid the DL live from Kansas today, covering a brief update on the Ergun Caner front, reading an e-mail sent to Robert Sungenis and his answer for most of the hour, and the closing with the caller who had called the Pastor's Perspective show and asked about Ezekiel 36 and the heart of stone and the heart of flesh (if you recall, he did not get even a pretended answer to his specific question). Here's the program.
Robert Sungenis and the Bodily Assumption of Mary on the DL!
07/13/2010 - James WhiteI had been contacted by a number of people regarding the encounter between Dr. Robert Sungenis and Matt Slick that aired a week ago Monday, so I started reviewing the program and interacting with the claims that were made. (In fact, I started typing this post, had to stop as I was on Matt's program for about half an hour, and am now picking back up). I will continue that next program as well. I will be covering a lot of topics including scriptural authority, tradition, the early church, the text of the New Testament, exegesis, etc., so I hope this series is useful to everyone. Here's the program.
Today on the Dividing Line: Robert Sungenis on TurretinFan's Response to Christopher Ferrara, Patty Bonds on "Deep in Scripture," and Answering Unitarians
09/21/2010 - James WhiteI think that is the longest title to a DL blog entry I've ever produced! We started off looking at Robert Sungenis' comments in response to TurretinFan's article on the Immaculate Conception debate with Christopher Ferrara. I must say, Dr. Sungenis was very nice to talk to and debate in Santa Fe. He should be commended. But this article left me searching for words to describe the abject circularity of the Roman position, it truly did. I was completely amazed. Then I moved on to the September 1, 2010 edition of "Deep in Scripture" with host Marcus Grodi, where Patty Bonds was invited to give Scriptural insights. I used this as an excellent example of "Convert Syndrome," and the methodology of those who, like Grodi, specialize in "conversion to Rome" rather than "conversion to Christ" evangelism. Then we had a caller who had hung in there with us on hold the entire program, so we went a few minutes long to address his questions concerning dealing with unitarians in the Messianic Jewish movement. Here's the program.
The Mass Debate: 1999
03/08/2007 - James WhiteA few days after this debate a young lady, maybe 14 or so, came up to me after I spoke at a local church. "Dr. White, why did Mr. Sungenis hate you so much?"
Yes, it was a pretty nasty debate. It led, for a brief period of time, to a bit of a "truce," meaning that at least the 2000 debate on justification between myself and Sungenis was mild in comparison. But this was back before Sungenis combined geocentrism with some odd form of Jewish conspiracy theory and ushered himself unceremoniously out of the Roman Catholic apologetics picture. I still get a note about him once in a while, but for all intents and purposes, he has fulfilled the constant element of the titles of his own books: he is now alone.
In any case, here is a discussion of various historical truths regarding the development, over the centuries, of the concept of transubstantiation in the Mass.
DVD available here (#583)
God Centered vs. Man Centered: the Dividing Line
08/03/2010 - James WhiteCovered two primary texts on the program today, Hebrews 7:25 and James 2:14, but I did so in the context of recognizing the difference between a God-centered faith and a man-centered one. I drew illustrations from my debate with Robert Sungenis on the Mass that took place in Utah a number of years ago. An hour of biblical teaching, no calls, but I think one of the more important discussions we've had on the Dividing Line. Here's the program.
(I noted that the debate with Sungenis on the Mass was one of the clearest examples of theocentric faith vs. anthropocentric faith I know of. You can get the debate here).
If Sola Scriptura Creates Doctrinal Chaos....
01/19/2005 - James White...then why do we find Roman Catholics debating about the nature of the central act of worship in Roman Catholicism? This is one debate I may well find time to attend myself. Sungenis vs. Matatics on whether the Novus Ordo Mass is valid. But Rome is all united because of its tradition and the Papacy, yes? Hopefully a few Roman Catholics who have swallowed the "sola scriptura: blueprint for anarchy" argument will think twice. The debate is scheduled for Saturday, October 1, somewhere in Southern California, $20 at the door. Flack jackets and asbestos gloves are optional. Update: Oh, gotta check out the animation on Sungenis' site (poor Gerry will get his version up sometime in 2007).
Sungenis Rattles His Geocentric Traditionalist Mr-X Saber
05/20/2005 - James WhiteI mentioned on the Dividing Line a few weeks ago the quandry presented by those associated with Robert Sungenis. I have debated Sungenis five times, by my count. Some will recall a period when Sungenis actually attempted to behave in a meaningfully restrained fashion, but that period did not last long. All one has to do is track down the fireworks between he and his Roman Catholic critics to get an idea of what is up at CAI. Anyway, if you go back to the archives of the DL you will hear our discussion of Mr. X, the man CAI put forward as being an "insider" who actually funded the research of Bill Webster and David King that resulted in their three volume work on sola scriptura. Likewise Mr. X told all sorts of stupid stories about Webster, King, myself, and others associated with this ministry. His allegations were so absurd, so outlandish, that they were easily refuted. Then it was discovered Mr. X was a troubled teenager pulling a prank, and as we said then, Sungenis' reputation as a serious apologist was, for all intents and purposes, over at that point. Since then he has only marginalized himself even more by adopting a whole range of odd and downright eccentric positions, resulting in a wholesale abandonment on the part of mainstream Roman Catholics of his work. ...
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A Few Items
09/27/2007 - James WhiteBill Webster has posted his own testimony in light of the constant drum-beat of promoting Catholic converts. Here's his article. Bookmark that one! When someone sends you some emotional, fluffy conversion story, send them to Bill's. The contrast is striking, at least for anyone who loves the truth, that is.
Secondly, I've been Simpsonized! MB ran me through the Simpsonizer, whatever in the world that is. But when I saw the result, there were two obvious things the Simpsonizer had missed: first, I was way too thin (looked like I did after I rode the Magic Circle Bike Challenge back in 1993, my first 100+ mile ride, and I dropped to a low of 165 lbs), and secondly, the tie I had on was plain black! Impossible! So Micah reprogrammed the Simpsonizer and the result was a bit more realistic!
Finally, Mark Shea, Catholic commentator and sometimes apologist, has excoriated Robert Sungenis here, including a YouTube video featuring some of what he claims are statements made by Sungenis regarding the Jews. I have not had a lot of interest in following the Sungenis saga, honestly, but it is fascinating to read someone like Shea writing like this. He also takes on Matatics as well. My, how things have changed since the early 90s.
Sungenis on Keating on Matatics on Wheat with Mayo and Lots of Onions....
01/31/2004 - James White
No need to comment on this one. Just read it and try not to drool.
Continuation of the Slick/Sungenis Discussion on Today's DL
07/27/2010 - James WhiteToday we pressed on listening to Robert Sungenis illustrate "sola ecclesia" to the nth degree. Here's the program.
You will note I mentioned waiting for the FedEx van to show up. Well, it did, just a few minutes after the program. It brought me a package that I knew was coming, but, I did not know, for certain anyway, what it contained. Some of you who have attended my talks over the years have heard me speak on the history of the Greek text. As I go through the early printed editions I mention having seen the 1550 Stephanus text back in the late 90s, and how I informed the collector who had it that he needed to put me in his will so that I would someday have that text. Well, thankfully, that good brother decided not to wait for his homecoming. I have that gorgeous text (it is in INCREDIBLE condition for being 460 years old!) right next to me on my desk. Now to find a way to protect it so that when I speak on that topic in the future I can bring it with me. In any case, it is a tremendous encouragement to have this great monument to the transmission of divine writ down through the ages as a part of the ministry's resources.
Sungenis Blows the Proverbial Gasket
06/23/2005 - James WhiteThis speaks for itself. Sadly, Robert doesn't understand that. Thanks for making my point, Bob.
"Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise"
05/23/2010 - James SwanThe closest thing in the United States to a self-appointed infallible magisterium is Catholic Answers. They stand atop the Roman Catholic apologetics food chain claiming to be "one of the nation's largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization." One need only search available public records to verify this claim. If you want to know what the papacy means, you need only visit Catholic Answers for their interpretation... or maybe not.
Recently Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis made his own assessment of organizations like Catholic Answers: "They have a very light, or possibly sanitized, portrayal of Catholicism, looking to avoid as much controversy as possible" and they are "somewhat milquetoast when it comes to dealing with the more controversial and significant problems occurring in the Church and in the world. " He laments, "My assessment is that they either don't know where the real battles are or they know and choose to ignore them, and have more or less settled into a politically-correct apologetic. Except for the abortion issue, I really don't find much of a clarion call from them" [source].
Mr. Sungenis heads Catholic Apologetics International, which "stands on the forefront of Catholic Apologetics, explaining Catholicism to fellow Catholics and defending it against her opponents." In the same article, Sungenis makes a telling admission: "Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise." Indeed it is. Catholic Answers claims to be the preeminent apostolate for solid information [source]. Catholic Apologetics International though has "the help and intercession of our new patron saint, St. Robert Bellarmine, and in communion with the other great Apologists of our Faith" with the information they provide. That's a tough choice. On the one hand, one could follow the interpretations of the preeminent apostolate for solid information, or one could rely on an organization being helped by St. Robert Bellarmine.
Perhaps though one doesn't need to make such a choice. What's interesting about the criticisms from Mr. Sungenis above is they were placed between positive comments. Sungenis begins by saying,
Let me start with the state of Catholic apologetics today. Overall, I think it is good, at least compared to what it was about 25 years ago when Catholic apologetics was practically non-existent. But I think it could be much better today if we all banded together and used each other gifts and talents instead of competing with one another.
He concludes by saying,
We each have our gifts, strengths and focus. I think God is using us all, but I think He would like to see us all get along much better than we have, and that is what all three groups need to pray for.
These are interesting concessions from Mr. Sungenis, particularly since CAI has questioned the credibility of Catholic Answers throughout the years. Previous to the last presidential election, Catholic Answers heavily pushed their voting guide pamphlet. CAI says of it,
we were deeply concerned about some of its final conclusions. We believe some of these conclusions to be not only dubious in and of themselves, but an assault on the individual Catholic's conscience and the Church's collective power to reform society as a whole [source].
These are but a few of the criticisms of CA from CAI. The confusion and quarrels between Roman Catholic organizations is precisely as articulated by Sungenis: Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise. We'll continue to see Roman Catholic apologists quarrel among themselves and contradict each other precisely because they make up their own rules. For all their talk of Protestantism being anarchy, they hide the fact that they typically do whatever they want to because their organizations and endeavours are not defined by the very magisterium they claim to speak for.
Yesterday on the Dividing Line
10/06/2010 - James WhiteStarted off getting back to the Slick/Sungenis dialogue (first half hour), then after the break took calls on Bart Ehrman, Dave Hunt, and an attempted call from Magnus in Sweden, but our Skype set up failed! Well, we tried! Here's the program.
Second Portion of Boston College Statement
09/20/2007 - James WhiteA few days ago I posted the first portion of my comments in the Boston College debate as part of my reply to Steve Ray. In my comments I noted that Robert Sungenis had asserted that Paul had "over-reacted" in response to Peter's actions at Antioch. In my reply I pointed out that according to inspired Scripture, Peter was not walking straight in accordance with the truth of the gospel. Here is the text:
Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?So, Paul was just exaggerating a bit about this "truth of the gospel" stuff? What an amazing statement! But, as I noted then, Sungenis began his rebuttal with a defense of his statement! You will find this at the end of this clip:
The Assumption of Mary: An Analysis of the Recent Debate with Robert Sungenis
09/21/2010 - James SwanOn Friday, September 10, Dr. White debated Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis on the assumption of Mary. Dr White Discussed this debate on Iron Sharpens Iron. You can listen to it here.
Other recent ISI shows:
Jamin Hubner: The Atheist vs. Christian Debate on 'Is the New Testament Evil': One Christian's Analysis
TurretinFan: The Debate on the Immaculate Conception & Sinlessness of Mary: One Protestant's Analysis (part one)
TurretinFan: The Debate on the Immaculate Conception & Sinlessness of Mary: One Protestant's Analysis (part two)
Today on the Dividing Line: Biblical Questions, Justification, and God's Holiness and Wrath
10/14/2010 - James WhiteAnother potpourri of topics today, with calls on "repentance" in the Old Testament, dealing with anti-Trinitarian "Messianic Judaism," and a call on explaining the wrath of God to our modern culture. Snuck a few minutes of the second Slick/Sungenis conversation as well. Here's the program.
On Protestant (and Catholic) Disunity
03/22/2008 - James SwanFor years, Protestant apologists have been pointing out that disunity among Christians is not the result of sola scriptura. That is, Scripture, being the ultimate authority for the life of the Christian, is not to be blamed for 25,000 denominations (or whatever figure Roman Catholics are currently using). The argument usually framed is that without an infallible Magisterium, Protestants will never have unity. In response, Protestants are quick to point out that those with their feet firmly planted in Rome likewise have a fair amount of disunity. This response though usually falls on deaf ears. Sola Scriptura is still seen as the "blueprint for anarchy," even though logically, the misuse or abuse of an ultimate authority is not grounds for a denial of that ultimate authority.
While reading through the Robert Sungenis edited, Not By Scripture Alone, I came across the following section from Sungenis himself:
Objection #56: "The institution of an infallible pope has not created theological unity in the Roman Church."
Answer: First, Jesus himself, the infallible, incarnate word of God, did not create unanimous theological "unity" among his hearers. In fact, Jesus was disheartened that so many people argued with him and rejected his message of truth. At many points, his message divided more than it unified. Paul encountered the same opposition, among both Jews and gentile converts. Hence, it is very short-sighted to suggest that infallibility is the criterion of unity. Unity, at least demographic unity, occurs when the people obey what they hear. If one voice is teaching them, the possibility for practical unity is much greater than if there are thousands of voices all teaching something different.
Second, the unity that the Catholic Church claims to promote in her charism of infallibility is not that every bishop, every priest, and every lay person will automatically believe what she teaches. She claims that truth resides in the decrees and doctrines the Magisterium promulgates, regardless of how the remaining clerics and laity interpret the Magisterium's teachings. One has no more right to deny the charism of infallibility to the Magisterium because of disagreements among its hearers than to deny it to Jesus or the apostles because if disagreements among their hearers. To make one dependant on the other is not only illogical, it has no Scriptural precedent.
Source: Robert Sungenis (ed.), Not By Scripture Alone [Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing company, 1997] pp. 285-286].
One need not fall into the "blueprint for anarchy" trap. Simply point out that it is inconsistent for Roman Catholics to demand the Bible produce perfect unanimity, while their own apologists make a very similar argument. I would keep this Sungenis quote handy, and keep in mind, the debate is over ultimate authorites: the Bible (sola scriptura) and the Magisterium (sola ecclesia). Disunity is not the issue. Rather, the issue is whether God's Word or an alleged "human" infallible interpreter is the ultimate authority, because Holy Scripture is the only infallible interpreter of Scripture that we have extant today.
Today on the Dividing Line: Burning Qur'ans, Apostates, and Calls
09/07/2010 - James WhiteStarted off with a statement on the "Burning Qur'an's" fiasco, took a call on Oneness Pentecostalism from London, concluded my comments on Marc Ayer's claims, took more calls, and finished up with part of the cross-examination between myself and Robert Sungenis from our debate on Papal Infallibility in Florida. Here's the program.
Today on the Dividing Line: Purgatory and Modern Roman Apologists, Plus Calls
10/19/2010 - James WhiteWent over some material on purgatory at the top of the show, then took calls relevant to the same topic on subjects such as "the eucharist." A Roman Catholic intensive Dividing Line prior to my trip to Oregon to debate Robert Sungenis. Here's the program.
No Time to Slow Down!
08/31/2010 - James WhiteBack to Phoenix (I hope whoever rifled one of my checked bags at JFK and stole one of my Flip Video cameras, with half of the footage of the Silverman debate last night, enjoys watching the debate on their stolen camera---and no, I can't see that they took anything else, but, having been the victim of theft in the past, I realize it sometimes takes a while to realize other items are missing. My hope is whoever it was had to keep it small which is why they did not take other things in the bag). You know you are traveling too much when you do not even bother putting your luggage away upon unpacking it. I head out to Santa Fe for a double-header with Robert Sungenis a week from Thursday evening (the debates are on Friday). I appreciate Jamin Hubner's comments on last night's debate. It was---educational! Mr. Silverman wishes to take me up on my invitation to debate the origins of Christianity (he holds to the Osiris, Dionysius, "all borrowed from the pagans" theory that is so easily demonstrated to be false). But first I need to send him my debate with Dan Barker on a similar topic. Be that as it may, the encounter was enlightening, and I am glad Jonathann Weingarten, who video taped both debates, has a good recording of it. The audio should be outstanding on last night's debate, since he was able to plug directly into the sound system. I note that the live streaming quality was outstanding as well, due to my finding a setting to greatly enhance the volume. The location was perfect (easy to get to, the room is perfect for debate). All in all a great evening. Many thanks to Chris Arnzen, Dan Buttafuoco, Jonathan, Brian, and everyone else, for making the weekend possible.
I barely have 48 hours from the time I get home from the Sungenis debates before I will be teaming up with Michael Brown to debate Sir Anthony Buzzard and Dr. Good on the subject of Trinitarianism vs. Unitarianism. That should be quite the evening (Tuesday the 14th). I then have about ten days before doing a Skype debate on ABN, hopefully with Abdullah Kunde (the current name given to me as my Islamic opponent that evening). So as you can see, I don't have a moment's rest for the foreseeable future! Lots and lots of study and preparation, on a very, very wide range of topics (which makes it all the more challenging). I do get about three weeks "off" without a debate before the purgatory debate with Sungenis in Oregon, but then I only have a matter of days before heading to Lima, Peru! I've scheduled a return to both St. Louis and Detroit in early December, doing the Jesus or Muhammad Marathon again, live, on ABN. Don't forget the Polemics class in January, and please be praying about joining with us to get me to London in February. I have a complete breakdown scheduled for March!
Now I think I will go look for a more secure roller bag with big TSA compliant locks...
Quick Update on the Catholic Answers Forums Thread
06/22/2005 - James WhiteIn reference to the preceding article on the Catholic Answers Forum thread, I note the thread has now been closed by the moderators. But before it was closed a few more comments worth noting appeared.
First, for some reason, a number of folks on the forums have been willing to throw Bill Rutland under the bus, so to speak. One writes,
Funny. I read in the past that White doesn’t believe that K. Keating won’t debate him because he (Keating) says that he is too busy with other aspects of his apostolate. However, he expects everyone to take his word for the reason that he won’t debate Sungenis. He says something like Sungenis is not mainstream enough. Then he (White) debates someone like Rutland. I have asked in this forum who Rutland is and no one can (or hasn’t) told me. He is apparently unknown to most if not all folks here. I never heard of him before But I’m thinking that there aren’t many here who do not know who Sungenis is. Did you see the clips of the White/Rutland debate? Rutland may be a very good Catholic but he is not up to taking on the likes of White. Sungenis is. White is obviously afraid of losing. And he would.Let me say something right up front: I would love to debate Bob Sungenis on Calvinism. I really would. I haven't the first qualm about it, since it has been made painfully obvious, in our past interactions, that such would be a wonderfully clear contrast between a very man-centered religion and the glorious grace of God. In fact, I am almost certain that no one on the CA forums board has ever read this exchange from a while back (note some segments of this exceeded 200k in size!). But once again, the issue is whether by so doing you are assisting the people of God, indulging your own ego, or inadvertently helping to keep another false teacher and his "ministry" afloat. I do not trust Bob Sungenis. His credibility is shot with me, and with anyone else who has followed his tortured path to his present position, and truly, what is accomplished by vindicating Reformed theology against someone who was once with Harold Camping, and once a Presbyterian, and once a member of the International Churches of Christ, and now off on his own in the rad/trad camp somewhere, who may well be who knows where next year? Far better to find a meaningful Roman Catholic apologist who remains in the mainstream to debate the issue, not as a part of the Great Debate Series (there is not a wide enough interest for those on Long Island to invest so heavily upon it), but at a local church (still to be video taped and made available, of course). And in fact, discussions are on-going on that very subject right now. I do find it odd that none of these folks give the first evidence of even being aware of the debates I have done on this subject, nor the books written. Just another example of how these folks come to their conclusions. ...
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Quick Note From the LA Area
10/29/2005 - James WhiteGreetings from Ontario, California. I will be speaking here tomorrow and then getting back to Phoenix Monday and staying there for all of November, DV. Doesn't mean I'll ever catch up, but a month away from airports will be a true blessing.
I do not regularly look at Robert Sungenis' website, but I saw a reference to it in Karl Keating's e-letter, and just found this article posted there. If the cited e-mail is authentic (it surely looks like it is), Matatics has taken the logic of Rome's position to its ultimate conclusion: and in so doing, proved that his conversion was an error. If following Rome's claims to their logical conclusion results in your rejection of the current Roman Church, then the arguments Gerry used for years to substantiate his conversion are proven wrong, are they not? It would surely seem so. In any case, there would be much benefit in pointing out the inherent self-contradiction in the response offered as well, given the odd positions Sungenis espouses, but time does not allow for such luxuries while traveling. It will be interesting to read Matatics' "manifesto" if he ever gets around to posting it. But do not hold your breath! Gerry claimed his book for Tan Book Publishers was coming out in the early 1990s, and it is still nowhere to be seen.
Back to the Da Vinci Code on Monday, Lord willing...and finishing up the Shabir Ally debate on Tuesday on the DL. Oh, and btw...one other note. To the followers of Nadir Ahmed who are sending inane e-mails about how I am "afraid" of Nadir
Ahmed---please, stop wasting your time. Internet bullies bore me. When you come up with something meaningful to say, let me know. Start by explaining the error I pointed out in his comments in his debate with Sam Shamoun. Start with something other than acting like playground thugs. You really shame your cause with such behavior.
01/21/2011 - James WhiteI was asked to speak on the presuppositions of my debate with Robert Sungenis up in Newberg, Oregon, and here is the presentation I gave in response to the request. (The audio unsync'd for the first 2/3 of the presentation, then caught up...somehow).
07/28/2010 - James WhiteI have really lined out an incredible schedule for myself this fall. Beginning next week I fly to New York twice in August, with a trip to Detroit sandwiched in between. I will be debating twice in New York, once with David Silverman, national representative of the American Atheists, and once with Christopher Ferrara, a Roman Catholic spokesperson and attorney. In the middle of the month I will be in Detroit, doing live programs on ABN (be watching!) and recording other programs during the day, then speaking at the God and Culture Conference that weekend. While some of those costs are covered sometimes (airline tickets, etc.) others are not (rental cars, food, sometimes hotels). Then September has me in Santa Fe and Southern California on consecutive weekends (two debates with Sungenis in Santa Fe, speaking on the doctrines of grace in the Escondido area the next weekend), with a major debate on the Tuesday in between where I will be teaming up with Michael Brown to debate Sir Anthony Buzzard and another unitarian! What a ten day stretch that will be! Then in October I am up in Minneapolis for a Bible conference, and the very next weekend in Newberg, Oregon for another debate with Sungenis. Barely ten days home and off to Peru with Heart Cry Ministries to train pastors in apologetics. Some of the costs for these trips are covered by the sponsoring churches and groups, some are not.
So, I wanted to let our supporters know of the continuing need to meet the extra expenses associated with the large amount of travel I will be doing over the next few months. I'd think some folks would want to donate just to get me out of town! But even looking beyond this fall, next February I need to get back to the United Kingdom. I will be seeking to visit a number of important papyri that are housed at Oxford or up in Dublin as well. So if you can help with these ministry efforts, please do so. Few things are more helpful than to go into these debates with a clear mind, undistracted by financial concerns and shortfalls. Click here to help!
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Today on the DL: Veritas Seminary and More on Rome
07/22/2010 - James WhiteStarted off with a brief discussion about this amazing and sad story about the degradation of our culture. Then moved on to the Veritas "exoneration" of Ergun Caner, and then moved back to the Slick/Sungenis discussion, in particular, on the issue of tradition and Scripture. Here's the program.
Publishing Whatever One Wants To: Rome's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, and Current Trends in Catholic Apologetics
05/30/2008 - James SwanOver the last few years I've focused on current popular Catholic apologists, that is, those whose names you may hear on Catholic Answers, or find on The Journey Home. In order to be familiar with Catholic argumentation, the best way to do so is to actually hear them make their own arguments and interpretations of Catholic doctrine.
I purchase their books as well. I buy these books because not only am I interested in how they argue, I like to see how they document their claims. I'm sure there are much better well-trained Catholic scholars who present far better argumentation (in books that cost a whole lot more). But the books that sell, and the apologetic book your Catholic friend at work has is probably one of the many books of popular Catholic apologetics put out in the last twenty years.
I have a number of these books on my desk at the moment. For instance I've got Not By Scripture Alone by Robert Sungenis staring back at me. This book was dedicated to John Paul II, and was checked over for accuracy by two Monsignors. Hence, it obtained what is called the "Nihil Obstat" and the "Imprimatur." I'm assuming many Protestants have no idea what these two words mean.They typically appear on one of the first few pages of a Catholic book.
Nihil Obstat: "A Latin phrase meaning that 'nothing stands in the way,' the nihil obstat is a designation that must be given before a book receives impramatur, the Church Permission for publication" [Alfred McBride, O.Praem, Catholic Beliefs From A to Z (Michigan: Servant Publications, 2001), p. 117].
Imprimatur: "From the Latin meaning 'let it be printed,' an imprimatur is given by a bishop for books on certain scriptural or religious topics. It is required for all Catholic versions of sacred Scripture and liturgical texts as well as religious books that will be used as textbooks or for public prayer. Otherwise, an imprimatur is not needed for every religious book" [ibid., p. 86].
I can appreciate Rome's desire to keep some sort of official standard that Catholic writers should abide by. I can even appreciate that Sungenis took the time to obtain these stamps of approval, as well as any others within Rome's walls that do likewise. It was a recent comment in a discussion on Dave Armstrong's blog that got me thinking about this. In yet another episode of "When Catholic Apologists Attack Each Other" someone commented on a recent book by Sungenis:
"Not By Bread Alone didn't ever get an imprimatur, either. Sungenis said it was because of some technical issue, but that wouldn't have stopped him from getting one later."
Armstrong responded, "Sadly, the Imprimatur is not always a safeguard anymore. My books don't have them (except for The New Catholic Answer Bible, and my books are perfectly orthodox. And some that have them are not orthodox."
The same person then asked, "Yeah, imprimaturs don't mean what they used to. Did you submit and get turned down or just never submit them?" He then noted the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible by Sungenis was turned down, as was Not By Bread Alone.
Armstrong: "Sophia Institute Press, the publisher of my three main books, chose not to do it. It wasn't really in my hands. OSV did for the Bible: probably because that seems more 'serious': being a Bible and all."
I'll pass over Armstrong's comment that not all books with the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur are orthodox, which is an interesting Roman authority problem to say the least! Give Sungenis at least this much credit, at least he tried to get the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur (by the way, this Catholic blog has some sort of obsession over this issue, and spends ample time documenting every move Robert makes- they claim, "In the end, it is noteworthy that Sungenis has not received an imprimatur on any of his books over the last 10 years"). Armstrong on the other hand, simply puts a disclaimer on his blog, and pretty much stated above he doesn't even try to obtain them.
Well, what's the big deal? "An imprimatur is not needed for every religious book." Well, it could turn out to be a big deal for those apologists serious about their Catholicism. Say you're a Catholic apologist without the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, and a local parish has invited you to give your testimony or an apologetics lecture. You decide to bring some copies of your book to sell. The problem though is, Canon Law says leave them home if you don't have the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur:
Can. 827 §4. Books or other writings dealing with questions of religion or morals cannot be exhibited, sold, or distributed in churches or oratories unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority or approved by it subsequently.
Canon Law also states:
§2. Books which regard questions pertaining to sacred scripture, theology, canon law, ecclesiastical history, and religious or moral disciplines cannot be used as texts on which instruction is based in elementary, middle, or higher schools unless they have been published with the approval of competent ecclesiastical authority or have been approved by it subsequently.
§3. It is recommended that books dealing with the matters mentioned in §2, although not used as texts in instruction, as well as writings which especially concern religion or good morals are submitted to the judgment of the local ordinary.
Read this whole section of Canon Law here.
One has to wonder how seriously the recent batch of Catholic apologists take the above statement (§3). I just looked through my shelf of Catholic apologetic books, and many of the recent volumes do not have the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, while the older ones typically do. If Canon Law recommends something, what seems to be the problem for these folks? I'm tempted to say for some of them, their continual claims of submission to Rome fall short when it comes to having a career as a Catholic apologist. Sure, they say they submit to Rome, but they don't submit all their books for ecclesiastical approval.
It's easy to pick on the failure of Sungenis to attain official approval, and let's face it, he's produced some eclectic material. On the other hand, it seems to me many Catholic apologists don't even try to follow Canon Law on this. Why is the failure of Sungenis such a scandal, while a multitude of Catholic writers not even trying to gain the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur not? It's easy to claim that one's books are "perfectly orthodox," but one wonders if these apologists ignoring Canon Law while complaining about the orthodoxy of a fellow apologist who at least makes some sort of attempt to adhere to it have the right to complain.
I'm not just picking on Armstrong. He simply serves as an example since he's put forth a lot of effort going after Sungenis recently (by the way, Armstrong explains the problem with Sungenis and Gerry Matatics: "'Insufficiently converted from Protestantism' more than amply explains Matatics and Sungenis, as far as I'm concerned. But it's not Protestantism per se: it is an extreme form of fundamentalist Calvinism"). There are many more besides Armstrong that publish books without the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. I'm simply asking why they don't follow the guidelines their teaching authority puts forth- this just happens to be the same authority they defend in their writings.
A Miki-Less DL
09/14/2006 - James WhiteWell, we tried, but no Miki today! So, no uproarious entertainment, but still three great calls, all on the same topic, Roman Catholicism. We talked a lot about church history, doctrine, dogma, debates--you name it. Even addressed the "why you don't invest time with Robert Sungenis anymore" question. It would be a great program for all my critics over at Envoy and the Catholic Answers forums to listen to--but then again, my experience is that those folks don't listen in the first place, so that is probably not going to happen. In any case, those who did found it very useful. Here's the program.
Today on the Dividing Line
11/06/2007 - James WhiteStarted off with some comments on the Fred Phelps cult out of Kansas, took a call on Robert Sungenis appearing on the WHI, and then tackled some more of Shabir Ally's comments post-debate. Here's the program (free/high quality).
Unbelievable Programs Posted/Sungenis Comments on DL Today
03/16/2010 - James WhiteFirst, both programs I did with Justin Brierley on the Unbelievable Radio Program in London have now aired and are available for download. The first program was with Adnan Rashid, the second with Sir Anthony Buzzard. I think most of our readers will find both to be quite interesting. I really wish to pursue a full public debate with Anthony Buzzard in the future. Justin's programs can be found here. If you wish to subscribe to the podcast (as I do!), you can do so here. The specific programs are found here: Adnan Rashid and Sir Anthony Buzzard.
Next, on a live Dividing Line today (via Skype from my current location in sunless, grey Leavenworth Kansas) I will be reading and responding to this fascinating example of straw-man argumentation provided by Robert Sungenis et al, then taking your calls. The DL will air today at its normal time, 11am MST (11am PDT, 2pm EDT).
To all concerned about sola scriptura, patristics, Roman Catholicism, and related subjects. TurretinFan has posted a must-read article here.
Please remember to pray for this ministry and our upcoming opportunities of ministry, especially the May debate with Robert Price. Your support is vital.
Debates Past, Debates Present, Debates Future, on the DL
09/14/2010 - James WhiteGave a report on this past weekend's debates in Santa Fe with Robert Sungenis, a little preview of the debate this evening on the Jewish Voice Broadcast where I am teaming up with Michael Brown to defend the Trinity (no, I cannot live stream it, but, of course, it will air on the program in the near future), and then spent some time playing clips from Anthony Buzzard (one of our opponents this evening). Please pray for the debate this evening, 6-9:30pm MST. Here's the program.
Today on the Dividing Line
11/15/2007 - James WhiteAnother truly eclectic program today. Read the story about J.P. Moreland's paper at ETS from yesterday about evangelicals being too committed to...the Bible. Had a few comments to make there, for some odd reason. Then I went over the Bauman post, which led us to some discussions about Steve Ray, Robert Sungenis, etc. Here's the program (free/high quality).
Porvaznik on Debates
06/04/2007 - James WhiteFor some reason my Google blog search pulls up items from the Catholic Answers forums. This one came up a little while ago:
On James White's web site, he is advertising's a number of debates against Tim Staples, Patrick Madrid and Mitch Pacwa.
Presumably, he believes he 'won' these debates, at one point noting that St. Joseph's Communications would not want Catholics to hear them. I did notice that the debates against Mr. White are not for sale there or on Catholic Answers (except one with Jimmy Akin).
Question: Would it be worth procuring the debates against Staples, Madrid and Pacwa from James White's web site? Or would it be a disappointment, ie, did the Catholic side not do so well?
I wonder, does some "presume" that if you make the tapes of a debate available it automatically follows that you are claiming to have won? I would say if you do not make the tapes available, that might indicate you realize you lost, unless the debate is very old and you have debated the topic since that time, possibly. Also, do you think this fellow got a few quick e-mails warning him away from aomin.org? Hey, at least he was able to post the URL to our website. More than you can say for Envoy! Anyway, Phil Porvaznik always comments on this topic whenever anyone raises it. He has a "scorecard" of which debates I have won and which ones I have lost. I suppose I should be thankful that I'm batting about .384 (that would make me millions in MLB) according to ol' Phil who, of course, would never step into the ring himself. He says Sungenis won the Papal infallibility debate in Tampa, but sorta forgets to mention that Sungenis not only contradicted Staples in defending the papacy in that debate, but likewise had to assert that Roman popes can themselves be heretics (you should have heard the gasps from the Roman Catholics in the audience). But it was this comment that caught my eye:
And of course Akin won his two debates with White: eternal security and BAM (1995) radio debates so those are safe.Now, what makes me chuckle here is just this: the key argument Akin presented in 1995 had to do with John 6 and his assertion that Jesus used an "inceptive aorist" here. Since then Akin has admitted the argument was silly, but, despite this, Porvaznik still thinks he won, even though Akin has abandoned one of his most important arguments stated in the debate! You gotta love ol' Phil. Refuted repeatedly, but nothing---even obvious facts---can keep the boy down. That's the kind of defender Rome needs, one that is never rattled, even by the truth! Way to go, Phil! You deserve the "True Crusader" Award.
Quick Report from Santa Fe
09/11/2010 - James WhiteIt's a beautiful morning here in Santa Fe. I have become accustomed to arising early in the mornings of late, but this morning---I didn't. It takes quite a while to wind down after two full debates (on two widely divergent topics), so I didn't get to bed overly early either. In any case, I'm 4/6ths of the way through the "month of uber debating." The audio of both debates has already been posted by the church here. We will post them at aomin.org next week. The church video recorded the debates as well (it helps with all the citations I presented, especially in the Bodily Assumption debate) and we hope to have the DVDs and mp4s up before long.
I do believe that the person who charts out debates (i.e., does a flow chart following lines of argumentation, testing for consistency and logic) will find the first debate very enlightening. I tried as best as I could to untangle Dr. Sungenis' use of terminology to try to bring clarity to the issue, but it was difficult. Though Robert claims to understand Reformed theology, I leave it to the listener to discover if that is a sustainable conclusion. In any case, a very clear contrast between a once-for-all, God-centered gospel and a theoretical, man-centered system of synergism was presented. I wish I had asked the question I gave at the end of my closing statement during cross-examination, for Dr. Sungenis did not understand or answer the question. But I think that in and of itself spoke clearly to the real answer and hence to the resolution of the debate.
The second debate was truly eye-opening. First, I think I should point out that Robert Sungenis is the only Roman Catholic out there that I know of who will actually stand in public debate to defend the Bodily Assumption--the "big names" know better! They know there is no meaningful way to defend this concept outside of saying, "Look, the Roman Church says it, believe it!" That is all Rome has, really, and that does not hold up well to examination. But I think the Bodily Assumption is the single clearest illustration of the fact that all of Rome's apologists are simply dishonest (or deceived, or both) when they proclaim fealty to "Scripture and Tradition." The Bodily Assumption is found in neither, which is why Sungenis had to take the route, "We don't need Scripture or Tradition." Think how many times you've heard Staples, Akin, Keating, Madrid, et al talk about Scripture and Tradition, and yet in reality, neither is relevant to the dogma of the Bodily Assumption. This dogma is a shining example of sola ecclesia, the Roman Church, and in this instance, the Roman bishop, as the final and ultimate authority. What the listener will find fascinating here is that the Roman Catholic position is left fighting desperately not only against sound exegesis (as it always is), but against a cadre of sound, contextually accurate patristic citations as well. This debate is one of the clearest exposures of Rome's true nature I've ever participated in, right up there with the Stravinskas debate on purgatory.
Since I'm down to only one Flip video unit, I recorded only the cross-examination periods of both debates, which I provide here:
I will be speaking here in New Mexico through Sunday morning, and then home for the Unitarianism debate on the Jewish Voice Broadcast on Tuesday. The race continues on!
Purgatory and Indulgences, Alive and Still Heretical
08/26/2009 - James WhiteYou wonder, at times, how it is that those who listen regularly to Roman Catholic apologists do not notice the wide range of differences between them on important matters of theology and practice. Don't they cringe just a little when they hear the "sola scriptura is a blueprint for anarchy" silliness knowing that they are using a double standard? We can hope some do, and that the Lord will use that as a means of showing them His truth.
In any case, in modern Romanism in America it is common to hear a Westernized, softened view of purgatory. You see, there is no escaping the fact that Roman Catholics of the past viewed purgatory as a time of suffering and purification. The fact that indulgences were measured in "days" is not just some odd measuring system, as Tim Staples has suggested. This is obvious due to the fact that despite all the historical controversy over the "Sabbatine privilege" and the Carmelite Order, for many years people believed, and practiced, a belief in indulgences that included Mary descending into purgatory to release the person who died wearing the scapular on "Saturday." Whatever else you do with that, it's hard to get to "Saturday" without the passage of time. The modern "it's not really a place, and there's no time there, it's just a state of mind" type of thinking flies in the face of everything we know of the beliefs of the leaders of the Roman Church in the past. It relies upon the ignorance of the audience who allow today's speakers to mediate their knowledge of church history to them, chewed up and predigested.
With that being said, I was pointed to an answer given by Robert Sungenis to the question "What will Purgatory be like?" If you thought indulgences were dead and gone, well, read this:
R. Sungenis: John, the truth is, we don’t know what Purgatory is going to be like. The Church has received no revelation on its specific character, and there is no detailed information in the Bible. All we know is that it will be a time of purgation and punishment for unconfessed venial sins.First, note the phrase, "it will be a time of purgation and punishment for unconfessed venial sins." I confess I have no idea how you can have "satispassio," the suffering of atonement, without the passage of time, but I will leave that to our modern Roman Catholic advocates to figure out. It looks like Sungenis is not among them.
But there is another factor we, as Catholics, should consider. Here it is: Good Catholics have no excuse for going to Purgatory. If they are really pay attention to their Catholic faith and take advantage of all the Indulgences that are continually being made available to escape any and all punishment in Purgatory, then it stands to reason that no good Catholic should go to Purgatory. If they do, then it’s their own fault for not taking advantage of the graces God has given us. The Church has given us a multitudinous array of penances and prayers we can do in order to get a plenary Indulgence. They are just dripping, waiting for us to gather them up. So, don’t worry about Purgatory. Spend your time taking advantage of the Indulgences God gives us through the Church.
Next, think through what it means that the punishments due to "venial" sins---which can keep you out of the presence of God due to your impurity---can be removed through the blasphemous practice of indulgences. There are few things that show the reality of Romanism more than indulgences, that is for certain. Every noble attempt to make Rome's gospel look like it is just close enough to slip by the anathemas of Scripture falls to ruin upon the most basic examination of the horrific complex of doctrines that is purgatory and indulgences. That Christ's atonement does not remove my impurity, but my climbing up stairs on my knees does, is more than enough to close the door on Rome's gospel, to be certain.
Eric Svendsen on the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible
01/19/2005 - James WhiteI had not seen the sample pages of the CASB (the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible) at Sungenis' website, but Eric Svendsen started poking around and comments on one of the offered notes here. I looked at the other pages, and since none of the interesting notes had enough context to really comment, I have to ask myself: do I want to pay $34 just for the Gospel of Matthew?
Radio Free Geneva...Accomplished!
10/26/2010 - James WhiteHad a great time on the program today, covering three items: first, reminding folks that we now have the great "Read My Book" debate from 2003 available in mp3 format now, here. Then we reviewed, very briefly, some of Bob Sungenis' anti-Calvinism arguments from up in Newberg, and then launched into the real reason for the Radio Free Geneva, the recently posted podcast wherein William Lane Craig not only defends Molinism but attacks the Reformed faith. Another vital discussion of why, and how, theology determines apologetics. Here's the program!
The Unity and Certainty of Rome
08/10/2009 - James WhiteJames Swan noted a fascinating discussion on Robert Sungenis' website. He was asked about a series of lectures, and Sungenis' reply was:
R. Sungenis: John, if they advertise in America, NCR, Commonweal, First Things, etc., then it’s the same old liberal, progressive approach to theology that has basically sucked the faith out of the Catholic Church today. It is the same liberal, modernistic theology (if you can call it theology) that is taught at Catholic University of America or Notre Dame University. Although I’m sure there are some good aspects to these lectures, knowing what I know of the lecturers, their alma maters (Georgetown University, The Jesuit School of Theology, Union Theological Seminary, Catholic Theological Union, Boston College, Franciscan School of Theology, St. Patrick’s Seminary) and their allegiance to the liberal institutions for which they write and work (The Catholic Biblical Association, Catholic Theological Society, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, The Collegeville Bible Commentary) I could not recommend any of them to you. To a man (and woman) these teachers believe the Bible is riddled with historical and “religious” errors. Many of them wrote sections of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary edited by Fr. Raymond Brown and Fr. Joseph Fitzmyer, two of the most liberal Catholics in academia. For them, the Bible is mainly the work of man, and only a few parts were actually inspired by the Holy Spirit. They do not believe most of the historical narratives in Scripture ever took place (e.g., Adam and Eve, Noah) and they believe much of the Gospels were made up by either the evangelists or the generations that came after them. They question the resurrection of Christ, the immaculate conception of Mary, the infallibility of the pope, the existence of the devil or hell, and many other cardinal doctrines of the historic Catholic faith. In brief, these lectures are indicative of the sad state of affairs in Catholic academia and scholarship today. Today’s Catholic scholars took over where the Protestant liberals left off at the turn of the 20th century, and they are much worse than the Protestant liberals ever were. They simply do not have the traditional faith of our Fathers and medievals any longer.Now, in general, I think Sungenis has truth on his side when it comes to his complaint that the majority of modern Roman Catholic scholarship has been deeply, deeply infected with theological liberalism. I can't tell you how often I hear Shabir Ally or other Islamic apologists trotting out Brown or Fitzmyer to prove that this or that biblical teaching is "mythological" or the like. And when you join the likes of Bart Ehrman as the favorite go-to-source for those denying the essential aspects of the Christian faith itself, well, that doesn't speak too well as to your orthodoxy. I have often expressed the fact that modern Roman Catholic apologists live in a context of contradiction: by definition they defend Rome's dogmas, while at the same time, Rome's theologians have long ago abandoned any meaningful commitment to Rome's theology, and even when they give lip-service to the "sacred truths" of the Magisterium, everyone knows it is with a wink and a nod, fingers crossed under the folds of all those robes. Just like in many allegedly conservative evangelical seminaries, where inerrancy is "believed" but...not really, Rome's theologians find a way to talk about Papal Infallibility or the Bodily Assumption in such a way as to keep their jobs while using code-speak to let all the "enlightened" know they really don't believe such medieval silliness. Roman Catholic apologists know their own theologians are not their friends. In fact, most of their writings are a gold mine of quotes for our side! But the real problem they face is that their own leaders in Rome not only put up with the situation, they promulgate it and support it.
Now at the top of this blog entry is a picture from the 1995 debate in California that featured, on the Roman Catholic side of things, Patrick Madrid along with Robert Sungenis (seated next to each other on the left side of the image). I don't see Madrid and Sungenis doing a lot together these days. Sungenis has gone off into his own unique view of things, doing battle with Hahn and...just about everyone else on a whole host of issues. Thus far he has withstood the seemingly siren call of sedevacantism, but his unique brand of Roman Catholicism is surely more like that of the medieval period than modern Rome.
One who did not resist that call, but ran headlong toward it, is Gerry Matatics, who, despite their wishing everyone would forget it, was once the darling of Catholic Answers. I visited their offices years ago and found Gerry's desk right next to Patrick's. They did seminars together and traveled the country proclaiming the errors of sola scriptura and assuring everyone that it is a "blueprint for anarchy," to use Patrick's trademarked phrase. Notice how in these pictures both Gerry and Patrick are not holding up the Catholic Catechism or the Code of Canon Law of the Documents of Vatican II. No, they are holding up that dangerous book, which no one can really understand outside of Rome's guidance, the Bible! Of course, one wonders what version it is, since Rome still promotes one of the single worst, most atrocious English translations ever produced, the NAB. In any case, we all know Gerry is off lecturing on the soon coming World Order and how the Pope is not really a Catholic and how his small band is part of the last remnant, saved out of the great apostasy. For some reason, all that tradition, and all that "extra" help from the Pope and the "living Magisterium" didn't keep Sungenis, Madrid, and Matatics together. Will that stop them from preaching against the sufficiency of Scripture on the basis of that allegedly leading to disunity? No, it won't, but it will keep any rationally thinking and truth loving listener from believing them.
Yes, Mabel, There's a Dividing Line on Tuesday!
10/18/2010 - James WhiteGoing to be the only one this week, though, as I will be headed to the airport (aka, my Second Home) on Thursday for my flight up to Oregon (please pray for the debate on Friday with Robert Sungenis on purgatory).
Also, I wanted to thank Ryan Habbena and the folks at Conquering King Fellowship for a great job in putting together the Chosen conference this weekend in Minneapolis. It was great to get "home" (I'm a native Minnesotan), and everything was handled real well. They have posted my Sunday morning sermon on the atonement here.
I should note that I also met with my friends at Bethany House Publishers on Friday, and yes, thanks be to the Lord, I will be back on the book writing path here soon. As always, you can help me with that. Some of our faithful supporters keep an eye on the Ministry Resource List, and as resources to allow me to write more effectively (and quickly!) come up, I place them there. Even today some books arrived that will be directly relevant to the (hopefully) two book projects I will be launching into soon.
Today on the DL
09/12/2006 - James WhiteToday on the DL I discussed a response written by Robert Sungenis (found here, #13) to a single line found in my August 21 blog entry. It has been posted on the Envoy forums and was forwarded to me by another Roman Catholic who began the e-mail with these words, "Great job Mr. White! Simply dismiss any philosophical, logical distinction between latria and dulia. I guess that your contra dulia/latria argument would work if you could first prove the novel, anti-orthodox, anti-scriptural, heretical position of sola scriptura." I began the program discussing this e-mail, and then moved on to examining the pro-homosexual argument that is used to get around Romans 1, the main "Clobber Passage" as they like to put it. Here's the program.
The Unity of Rome Illustrated
07/22/2009 - James White
So, the long and short of it is this: we need to stop going to the Protestants for our understanding of Justification, whether it’s Joseph Fitzmyer’s attempt to say that justification is “forensic” in his New Jerome Biblical Commentary, or Scott Hahn’s attempt to say that “works of the law” refers only to the ceremonial law or that works are only required in “final justification.” These divergences arise because of a basic misunderstanding of how the Old Covenant relates to the New, which is the same problem we are having today when Catholic prelates deny supersessionism and teach that the Old Covenant is still valid for the Jews today. One small error can send us off in a hundred different, but erroneous, directions.Robert Sungenis
The Continuing Saga of Robert Sungenis
04/19/2011 - James SwanWhich of Rome's defenders is at the front of the battle, zealously seeking to protect and instruct the Roman church? Catholic Answers you say? No, it's none other than Catholic Apologetics International (CAI) founded by Robert Sungenis. His website states, "CAI is a Catholic lay apostolate dedicated to the teachings of Jesus Christ preserved by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It stands on the forefront of Catholic Apologetics, explaining Catholicism to fellow Catholics and defending it against her opponents."
Robert Sungenis is not your typical Roman Catholic apologist. For instance, while many of today's ecumenically minded Roman Catholics can't make any definite statements on Martin Luther's eternal destiny, Robert has no problem locating him in hell. This type of sentiment was typical of earlier generations of Rome's champions.
About this time last year, Robert said the following about Roman Catholic apologetics:
"I think it is good, at least compared to what it was about 25 years ago when Catholic apologetics was practically non-existent. But I think it could be much better today if we all banded together and used each other gifts and talents instead of competing with one another. As the saying goes, all ships rise with the tide."
"Overall, I would say that EWTN, Catholic Answers and Hahn-CUF are, for lack of a better term, somewhat milquetoast when it comes to dealing with the more controversial and significant problems occurring in the Church and in the world. My assessment is that they either don't know where the real battles are or they know and choose to ignore them, and have more or less settled into a politically-correct apologetic."
"I would expect the EWTN-like apostolates to have the lion's share of the Catholic "apologetics" community, whereas I would expect apostolates like ours to attract the deep thinkers and politically-incorrect crowd. That's just the nature of the respective animals. But that's ok. We each have our gifts, strengths and focus. I think God is using us all, but I think He would like to see us all get along much better than we have, and that is what all three groups need to pray for."
Now a year later, he says the following:
I, being an independent Catholic theologian, am able to penetrate a little more deeply and be much more critical, as I have always done in this apostolate. Although some still regard me as a "Catholic apologist," unlike Jimmy Akin and Catholic Answers I no longer consider myself an apologist for the modern Catholic Church. When compared to the Catholic Church of tradition, I have resolved that the modern Catholic Church will be required to stand on its own, for I simply cannot defend it any longer. There are simply too many doctrinal aberrations and moral laxities in today's Catholic Church that are indefensible. In light of these problems, I have assumed what I believe is the more appropriate position - that of being a prophet of warning rather than one an apologist seeking to exonerate the Church from false accusations. Today many accusations against the Church are quite legitimate and I certainly will not be a party to sweeping them under the rug. Hence, I presently take my model from that of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and all the other prophets who spoke out against similar doctrinal aberrations and moral laxities that occurred in Israel before God finally judged them. I believe that if the modern Catholic Church stays on the course it has chosen, it also will be judged by God as Israel was, and, in fact, it is already being judged as we have seen the deterioration in the Church for the last few decades. I'm sorry to have to say this, but from all my knowledge and experience, I would have to say that the last few pontificates have been an almost total disaster for the Catholic Church, especially the pontificate of John Paul II.
I'm assuming Robert isn't at all pleased by this news: Decree on the Liturgical Observance of the Cult of Blessed John Paul II.
Some may wonder if Robert is all alone, the lone prophet warning Rome of God's wraith. He's not, he's the second popular apologist turned modern day prophet to warn Rome. Let us not forget, Gerry Matatics, Catholic Apologist For the last days. The difference so far is that Gerry believes all those bishops alleged to have ascended to the papacy subsequent to the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958 up through the present (which would include John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI) are not only counterfeit popes, but are also counterfeit Catholics, since they have espoused modernist heresies such as maintaining ecumenical relations with Protestants and other non-Catholics, and have perpetuated other teachings and practices upheld by Vatican II which were deemed to be heretical by previous Catholic councils.
What's Robert's exact view now? To my knowledge, he hasn't stated he's a Sedevacantist. But his comments sure do sound like he's heading that way. From going through his website though, it does not appear he's at all interested in becoming a Sedevacantist (see for instance, his discussion here). He's debated Sedevacantists, and appears to dialog with any questions on the issue. Sungenis states,
As I have repeatedly suggested to the traditionalists, you have a much better chance of saving the Church if you fight the battle from within the Church rather than from outside. You've already lost the battle if you fight from outside... There is no reason to cut off your nose (the pope) to spite your face, since it would be quite impossible for us not to have a legitimate pope for the last six popes (as the Dimond brothers teach) and still believe Jesus' words that the gates of hell shall not prevail. We all know that the popes have made mistakes, but none of us has the mandate or the authority from God to declare that any of them are anti-popes, except another pope.
A Quick Report from Newberg
10/23/2010 - James WhiteI hope those who wished to listen live to the purgatory debate last night we able to do so. I had to go with straight "house sound," so it wasn't as clear as, for example, the Silverman debate was, but hopefully it was still useful.
Another clear delineation between the God-centered gospel of a powerful Savior and the man-centered gospel of man's accomplishments and cooperation was surely provided over the very lengthy period of debate last evening. Dr. Sungenis did not even make an attempt to respond to the historical portion of my presentation. Almost the entirety of the debate centered on 1 Corinthians 3. I was disappointed in that Bob assumed the audience was already fully aware of what purgatory is, as defined by Rome. He really made no attempt to explain it to any meaningful depth. I think those in attendance learned much more about purgatory from me than they did from him. At one point I asked him to define indulgences for the audience, and he wandered off into a story about David. So, I then defined it as a question, defining the treasury of merit, the excess merit of Christ, Mary, and the saints, etc., and asking him, "Is that accurate?" "Yes" was his response. That's how it went.
Unlike the calm interaction in Santa Fe, last night was anything but calm during "cross examination." I use quotes because Bob decided to abandon any and all semblance of meaningful format for something called "cross examination." He had told the moderator that we would be doing a "free form" type of cross-ex. What I never imagined he meant was what he did: argue, make points, ask a question, let you say ten words, interrupt you and tell you to be quiet, make another point, erect a straw man, and then cut you off if you object. It was a total mess for a total of 35 minutes (one 20 minute portion, one 15 minute portion). As much as I like Bob personally (he really is a nice guy on that level---then again, so is John Dominic Crossan, who remains my favorite heretic), I was really offended by the stunts he pulled last night. The audience was, too. It got silly, and when he went back to the same non-questions, all on how many judgments there are, I finally gave up and responded solely with, "Asked and answered." I refused to lower myself to that level in my portions of the cross-examination.
It is very, very difficult to do cross-examination properly. It is hard to ask contextual and meaningful questions, to really probe someone else's position. But it is worth it, and I believe I need to write up a document on how cross-examination MUST be done and INSIST upon it in the future. The "don't bother with real questions, argue your points and misrepresent your opponent" style used last night by Dr. Sungenis shows no respect for your opponent, but less for the audience. In the second portion I could hear the groans of the audience as he beat the dead horse into oblivion for the twentieth time.
But the gospel was clearly presented, the contrast between Rome's man-centeredness and the Bible's God-centeredness plainly seen, and for that I am very thankful. My sincerest thanks to all those who listened, and prayed, for the debate. I was likewise encouraged greatly, once again, by meeting those who came up before, during, and after the debate, who commented on how they have been helped and edified by Alpha and Omega Ministries. That's the whole reason we are here!
Today on The Dividing Line
09/04/2007 - James WhiteA real mixed bag on the program today, to be sure! Started out with a little discussion of what a Matatics/Sungenis debate would look like (would still love to see a Matatics/Hahn debate, maybe at that Holiday Inn on the Pennsylvania Turnpike!), took three calls on wildly different topics, including the deity of Christ (specifically, the use of qeo,j and ku,rioj in reference to the Father and the Son), a call on idolatry, and a call on the Word Faith movement. Then I began playing a section from Ahmed Deedat wherein he attempts to find Muhammad in the Bible (specifically, in John 16). Quite a range of topics, a little something for everyone! Here's the program (free/high quality).
Quick Monday Miscellaneous
09/20/2010 - James WhiteFirst, I will be on Iron Sharpens Iron to discuss my debates with Robert Sungenis in about forty minutes (8PM EDT). http://sharpens.blogspot.com.
Second, I forgot to let folks know about a sermon I delivered on a biblically-based doctrine of the believer's security in Christ while in Santa Fe. It is not your normal sermon on the topic, but, I think it will be helpful to folks to hear "the whole story." You can find it here.
A video preview of the sermons delivered in New York a few months ago at the JCM Summit Conference has been posted here. Enjoy!
Finally, Carla tells me there is a sale on t-shirts at Zazzle, which means the Team Apologian gear is even more affordable then ever! http://www.zazzle.com/teamapologian/tshirts is the link, and the coupon code is AUTUMNZAZZLE.
Reminding Patrick Madrid of Rome's Blueprints
08/13/2009 - James SwanAs far as I know, it was Patrick Madrid who popularized the description "blueprint for anarchy" in describing sola scriptura. Recently, Madrid posted Techno Apologetics: The "Sola Scriptura" Baptists-Can't-Dance Mix. He includes a mocking video against Dr. White. He also links to his oft-refuted article,The White Man's Burden. Yes, it's professional Catholic apologetics at its best, a dance mix video, and an article that was entirely dismantled by Dr. White.
In his recent blog article, Madrid states, "By the way, the 'Sola Scriptura is a blueprint for anarchy!' line that Mr. White quotes contemptuously in this montage (actually, I think he may have quoted it contemptuously in our 1993 Sola Scriptura debate in Chula Vista, CA) is something I have been saying for years." Contemptuously? The audio recording speaks for itself as to who responded and interacted politely, and who did not. It was actually Mr. Madrid in the 1993 sola scriptura debate who said in closing,
There is confusion reigning among Protestantism, all of them claiming to go by the Bible alone and none of them being able to meet entirely on what the Bible means. Now Jesus, pardon me, Paul said in I Corinthians 1:10, "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." Sola scriptura has been a blueprint for anarchy, folks. Just trace the historical record back to the time of the Reformation and look at all the competing sects that have arisen.
Remember, if the argument you're using works just as well against your own position, it's best not to use that argument. Over on my own blog, I have my own occasional feature called, Blueprint for Anarchy. What I've been doing is simply keeping track of all the times I come across Rome's zealous defenders disagreeing with each other, or pointing out the lack of clarity within Roman Catholicism as well as the confusion.
Robert Sungenis recently stated Rome's scholars are worse than Protestant liberals. Jimmy Akin recently chastised the interpretation of his priest saying, "This isn't exegetical rocket science." Steve Ray had some similar problems with a priest and concludes the church is "Always reforming, always in need of reform." Mark Shea accuses Robert Sungenis of lying. Sungenis says Scott Hahn misunderstands of the whole issue of justification. Over on the Catholic Answers forum, they recently had a heated discussion as to whether Scott Hahn teaches "prima scriptura." Tim Staples says he went to a mass in which the priest led the church in "the wave." Jimmy Akin says you can pray to whoever you want to, even if they aren't saints. Art Sippo says Mary should be Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces. Patrick Madrid disagreed with him. Karl Keating states, "Many Catholics are confused because some priests tell them contracepting is immoral, while others tell them the practice is morally neutral; some priests speak as though Mary had only one child, while others imply that she was the mother of the 'brethren of the Lord', some priests correctly explain the meaning of the Real Presence, while others refer to the Eucharist as only a symbol. Priests are authority figures, and lay people expect them to know and teach the faith accurately- not a safe assumption nowadays." Jim Burnham stated on Catholic Answers that Seventy percent of Roman Catholics do not understand the Eucharist.
I could go on and on. I didn't even mention any of my "We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary " posts. In those posts, you can see that Catholic apologists disagree with each other when they interpret the Bible. Then there are the big issues, like evolution. If you want to see diversity of opinion, simply try and nail down a Catholic apologist or a Catholic theologian on it. You would think Catholic theologians could at least be unified on Luther and the Reformation. Some say Luther was sent by Satan, others think he wasn't such a bad guy.
Shall we conclude that an infallible interpreter + infallible tradition + infallible scripture = harmony? The facts speak for themselves. I've got to believe by this point that Mr. Madrid is aware that this is a false argument. The misuse of a sufficient source does not negate the clarity of that sufficient source. If he wants to argue differences among Protestants means anarchy, he should be willing to first clean up his own house before pointing any fingers, or posting dance mix videos.
More on the Davidic Kingdom and Rome
07/17/2005 - James White4) First, it is a very long stretch to identify the position of Shebna/Eliakim as a definitional characteristic of the Davidic kingdom. The reference is post-Davidic to begin with: can something that cannot be traced to David be definitional of the Davidic kingdom? Next, there is no indication that this is a divine institution. Further, not only is Shebna removed from it, but it seems even Eliakim fails (22:25). We do not see it continuing after this point in any meaningful fashion, and surely the NT writers do not make any reference to the position as having relevance to the Messiah's mission or that of the church.
I might digress here for a moment to tell the story of the first time I encountered this argument. Back in the late 1980s Scott Hahn and Gerry Matatics were promoting the Isaiah 22:22/Matthew 16:19 connection in their writings and debates. So when I debated Matatics at the City of the Lord Catholic Community in Tempe, Arizona in December of 1990, I had to be prepared for its presentation. I had read the article that was being distributed by Scott Hahn, had listened to his tape that presented the argument, and had heard Matatics use it as well, as I recall. So as I was reading the text I did a simple search and discovered something that I had never heard Hahn or Matatics say or write about: Isaiah 22:22 is quoted in the New Testament alright: just not at Matthew 16:19. It is quoted, directly, by the Lord Jesus of Himself at Revelation 3:7: ""And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this." Here, directly quoting from the LXX text, Jesus, after Peter has died, applies these words to himself. Odd, if, in fact, this refers not to the King, but to the King's "prime minister" in the person of the not yet existing bishop of Rome. In any case, I was evidently the first person to offer such a response to Matatics, and he was quite flustered by it. Even three years later in another debate on the topic he had not materially improved his presentation on the topic.
One may note that there is a difference between the "key of David" and the "keys of the kingdom of heaven." I had noted in a debate with Robert Sungenis and Scott Butler that the singular "key of David" is Messianic in nature, while the keys of the kingdom of heaven, being plural, has a much different referent (specifically, to the proclamation of the gospel and the forgiveness of sins thereby). My recollection is that at one point Sungenis, in responding to my pointing out this rather important difference, said, "Singular, plural, it doesn't matter...."
In any case, the fact that the Lord Jesus cites this text of Himself post-resurrection clearly indicates that the attempted use of the passage by Roman Catholic apologists (a use unknown, to my knowledge, in at least the first 1000 years of church history) stands against the New Testament's own understanding and teaching. This particular "characteristic" of the Davidic king, as alleged, is shown to not only be non-Davidic, but a misuse of the text in the first place.
In our next installment we will look at the "Queen Mother" and see if there is any merit to this argument.