Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Bill Rutland on "Misrepresentations"
08/06/2005 - James WhiteYesterday we noted further examples of the means by which Roman Catholic apologists in the tradition of Art Sippo engage in simply dishonest and inaccurate argumentation so as to maintain their audiences. Unlike those folks, we documented our assertions fully. Today I move on to Bill Rutland's comments in the same thread. Mr. Rutland was my opponent only a few months ago on Long Island in the Great Debate X. On a personal level, Mr. Rutland is just a nice fellow. He's your standard "Southern gentleman" you might say. I surely bear him no personal animosity, and though I was very disappointed in his behavior after the debate in reference to not correcting Sippo's outrageous falsehoods regarding pre-debate discussions with Mr. Rutland, he is still considerably more "restrained" than the likes of Sippo.
He responded to Robert's post as follows:
I have read both of the books by James White that you cited. Mary - Another redeemer? In all honesty is not one of James’ better attempts. As you know the book is focused on the movement to make “Co-redemptrix” an official title for Our Lady. While James admits that Catholics insist that they do not worship Mary, he then goes on to maintain that in practice we really do. I think the greatest shortcoming of the book is that he perpetuates all of the old Protestant stereotypes without even exploring what Catholic [sic] mean by the title. Others have covered the meaning of Co-redemptrix on this thread so I will defer to them.
Once again, a few citations, a few examples, would be very nice. It seems that for the Roman Catholics at Envoy, if you disagree with Rome's conclusions, then you just must not "understand." It would be nice if Mr. Rutland would provide at least a single citation to substantiate his claim that I do not "explore what Catholic(s) mean by the title." How is including chapters reviewing John Paul II's teaching on the subject, Vatican II's teaching on the subject, and Mark Miravalle's teaching on the subject, not doing that very thing?
As for The Roman Catholic Controversy, it is a much better book. Although it purports to give an honest evaluation of the Catholic faith, in the end it falls short. Art writes that White's books are, “deceptive and misleading,” an oppinion [sic] which I would tend to agree. James’ books are deceptive because of his use of selective information. As with Mary - Another redeemer?, Controversy does not explain how Catholics view their own doctrines and then give an honest evaluation. James knows Catholicism better than most Catholics do, so when he writes something that is misleading, one has to wonder if it is done on purpose.
One again looks around for examples...and finds Rutland offering one (which is most enlightening: see below). The book has been out nearly a decade, and all that has appeared in print has been a few articles in This Rock magazine (responded to on our website, of course) that addressed possibly a grand total of two pages of the book. That's it. If the book is filled with deception and misrepresentation, why not document it? Easy: what these men really are saying is "He disagrees with us, therefore, he must be deceptive." Now, of course, that is circular argumentation and irrational, but it is the heart of their apologetic. So, it is much more effective in the long run to simply repeat the assertion that the books are "bad" and "deceptive" knowing that your audience is considerably more impacted by repetitive claims based upon inherent authority than they are logical argumentation and documentation. And so it goes. Now, as if to fulfill the "we identify all disagreements as inherently dishonest and deceptive" concept, we look at the example he offers:
Pat asked for an example, so here is one. On page 138 of Controversy James is discussing “No Salvation Outside the Church” and the development of doctrine. He tries to argue that the Catholic Church has contradicted Herself on the doctrine. One of the quotes he gives in defense of his position is from Pope Pius IX:
“It must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood.”
On the face of it the Pope seems to be saying that only baptized Catholics can obtain heaven, but ... let’s see what Mr. White leaves out. Here is the FULL quote from the Holy Father:
“For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God...But the Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church is well- known; and also that those who are obstinate toward the authority and definitions of the same Church, and who persistently separate themselves from the unity of the Church, and from the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, to whom ‘the guardianship of the vine has been entrusted by the Savior,’ cannot obtain eternal salvation.” (From the Allocution, Singulari quadem. Found in Denzinger, pp. 416, 425; #1647, 1677).
Unfortunately, Rutland stops there and moves on...he does not explain how my shorter citation is allegedly a distortion or misrepresentation. But what is clear is that it is Rutland who, once again, is not reading the text very well. Here is what I actually wrote, in full:
No Salvation Outside of the Church
One of the major questions faced by Roman Catholics has to do with the issue of whether there is salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church, the topic of extra Ecclesiam nulla Salus. In reality, prior to this century, and even today in most Roman Catholic nations around the world, this is not really an issue. The traditional view continues to be taught with regularity. But in the United States and in various European countries, the issue is hotly debated, not only in the midst of Protestant/Roman Catholic discussions, but between Roman Catholic theologians and laypeople of various stripes and temperaments. Quite honestly, the strongest disagreements between Protestant denominations get no “hotter” than the conflict that exists between various “views” within the Roman communion. Charges of apostasy fly hot and heavy inside the broad spectrum that is Roman Catholicism in the United States. For example, it took me only a few moments with access to the Internet to track down file after file arguing this issue from both sides—files filled with strident language and emotion. And it is easy to see why this is. Note just a few of the available statements from the past:
Pope Innocent III (December 18, 1208): “With our hearts we believe and with our lips we confess but one Church, not that of the heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside which we believe that no one is saved.”
Pope Pius IX (December 9, 1854): “It must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood.”
Pope Leo XIII, January 10, 1890, Encyclical Sapientæ Christianæ: “He scatters and gathers not who gathers not with the Church and with Jesus Christ, and all who fight not jointly with Him and with the Church are in very truth contending against God.”
Pope Saint Pius X, March 12, 1904, Encyclical Iucunda Sane: “It is our duty to recall to everyone great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours, to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation.”
Pope Innocent III and Lateran Council IV (A.D. 1215): “One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful outside which no one at all is saved. . . .”
Pope Boniface VIII in his Papal Bull Unam Sanctam (November 18, 1302): “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence (February 4, 1442): “[The most Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart ‘into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”
These statements are illustrative of why many modern Roman Catholics have been forced to embrace the concept of the “development of doctrine” in light of the words of Vatican II not only regarding Protestants as “separated brethren” but with reference to words such as these,
Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.
While Vatican II does affirm that “the Church . . . is necessary for salvation,” and that “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by God through Jesus Christ, would refuse to enter her or to remain in her could not be saved,” the Council manages to allow both traditional and modern viewpoints to exist side-by-side without really solving the obvious contradiction. For this reason, many are insisting that Vatican II was more of a “pastoral” Council, and did not exercise dogmatic or infallible authority. Aside from illustrating the fact that having an allegedly infallible teaching authority does not result in a unanimity of opinion, it is important to realize the differing positions taken on this very fundamental issue. Any conversation on this topic will require both sides to know well what position is taken on the ultimate question of whether salvation can, or cannot, be found outside the walls of the Church.
Now, immediately, one is struck by the fact that I was addressing the wide variety of opinions within modern Roman Catholicism. Any serious or even honest review of my use of the citation would indicate this: Rutland ignores it. It is a common element of dealing with modern Roman Catholic apologists that they assume their particular understanding is "the" view of Rome, when it is obvious, beyond all question, that this is not the case. The conflict between "modernism" and "traditionalism" and all the myriad of flavors in between is so well known to anyone semi-familiar with Rome today that to argue it is ridiculous. Is Rutland denying there are Roman Catholics a good bit more conservative than even he is in their views of extra ecclesiam nulla salus? Is he saying his interpretation of the phrase is the only one that exists today? If he thinks so, I invite him to do a little more investigation of his own communion! If he wishes to argue that Rome's position has remained constant over time, that is his privilege: but do not pretend that it is not a debatable subject, nor that raising the simple existence of disagreement in Roman Catholic sources is somehow deceptive on my part. What is deceptive is Bill Rutland ignoring the context in which I placed the citation, which removes the ground of his allegation. It also leaves us, once again, without any examples from him to substantiate those allegations of deception.
Later Rutland responded to another "White lacks the necessary philosophical training to criticize Rome" posts from Mr. Prejean, and writes,
Oh how I wish your following statement on brother White were true,
quote: I really think you're giving him far too much credit by calling him dishonest. Far more likely that he just doesn't have the good sense to realize that any Catholic with a brain and access to a decent library considers him something of a joke.”
I personally know at least one former Catholic, who most certainly has a brain, that was pulled out of the Church by White’s books and tapes, I suspect he is not the only one. I concede that if my analyses [sic] was, “a bit sloppy” it was not the first time and if the Lord delay, it will not be my last. But, I did have a point to make... As I said James knows Catholicism very well, yet he will not hesitate to misrepresent what we believe if it suits his purposes. Secondly I do not believe that he is the dunce that you make him out to be. In fact, I find his arguments to be very well reasoned if you buy his beginning premise. Both in his debates and writing he is a master at slipping in an unproven premise and then building a good case on it. You may believe him to be intellectually lacking, but he is a good communicator and that makes him dangerous.
Of course, I rejoice when I have the wonderful opportunity of introducing anyone to God's grace, and especially, as has in fact often happened, to see the Lord shed His mercy upon someone who has struggled long and hard in the Roman system, only to come to discover that Christ said "It is finished" not "It has barely begun." Rutland is somewhat of a refreshing contrast to the insufferable arrogance of Jonathan Prejean, whose expertise is in math and science, not even in philosophy, history, biblical languages, exegesis, theology, etc. (note the parallel to Sippo, who is a medical doctor). But once again, we have not found Mr. Rutland willing to provide examples of his accusations of misrepresentation. The one he offered when placed in context did not substantiate his viewpoint, so how do you respond to such accusations when the accuser does not bother to provide examples? He speaks of slipping in an unproven premise--such as? We are not told.
In the next installment we will address the comments made by Patty Patrick Bonds and, if there is any benefit to be gained by it, those of Crimson Catholic, Jonathan Prejean.