Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Dave Armstrong Arcade Game
05/26/2005 - James WhiteA while back I took the time to engage Dave Armstrong's The Catholic Verses on this blog. The response by Mr. Armstrong was 1) bluster and absurdly silly replies; 2) full-scale retreat and a "promise" (again) to stop interacting with "anti-Catholics" like me. Since then, Mr. Armstrong has returned and, evidently, has healed from his wounds, forgotten his own promises, and is now busily non-responding to me all over again (even producing reverse-color purposefully bad pictures originally taken by Mormons). Remember that cheesey arcade game where the little animal pops up out of a hole and you have to bop it back in to get points? The kind of thing you played just because you only had one token left and the real games took two? Well, I may have played that game once, but found it completely boring and not worth even that last token. Ditto, Mr. Armstrong. There is no reason to even respond to a person who, upon being shown to be in error, will reply, "Oh, I don't have to answer that! That person is anti-me, and I take an oath not to respond to his kind...until this topic has passed, anyway, or I have had more time to come up with a response or something." Such is not apologetics, it is excus-a-getics, and is not worth the time it takes to activate the RSS feed.
Ah, There It Is
04/07/2007 - James WhiteI had wanted to use this picture in my blog article last night, but could not locate it. With a little help this afternoon I was able to find it. Since Dave Armstrong posted this one of himself, I figure he likes it, and I would not want to be one to use a photo of him that he would not like. So this is Dave Armstrong, Catholic apologist. In a tree. I am fighting madly to avoid making the obvious commentary that begs to be made at this point. Really. I am. I'm biting my lip. Or my fingers. Or something. Dave Armstrong in a tree. There you go. No distortions, color fades, or anything else required. Just, Dave, in a tree.
If this just isn't enough for you, there are more. And more. And more.
From the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses
06/14/2007 - James WhiteI could not have said it better, but, it is best when someone else observes, and comments upon, the obvious. Read Armstrong's post. Not even the mention of a single point of criticism of his position. Not once. Just "Oh, woe is me! I'm a victim!" Truly amazing. Please note, I am not reviewing Armstrong's book for the sake of Armstrong. He is beyond dialogue or discussion. But his errors repeat themselves out there in the "real world," and hence the refutation of them...again...is useful for those who refuse to be silent.
Quick and Stupid Note
05/04/2005 - James White1) I do not know who put up the Dave Armstrong blog. I was pointed to it last night.
2) If they did not obtain permission from Angel for the use of his cartoon, whoever it is should take it down.
3) If you want to see how to deal with Dave Armstrong, look back a few months to what happened when I invested the time to dig into his book. Response? Bluster, sputter, retreat, collapse, invisibility, Lent.
UPDATE: DA blogged some more on his speculations concerning his anonymous pseudo-blogger. I'm sorry, but anyone in DA's position, who is constantly throwing stuff out there, is simply playing games if he then decides on some arbitrary standard as to who is an "anti-Catholic," and then on that basis, says he will not interact with them (though, of course, he can make comments about them all he wants, he just doesn't have to actually respond to refutations). As he commented on this current odd situation he just had to add, "rather, one should look to his critique of one of my arguments (quite conveniently, after I made a resolution not to dialogue with anti-Catholics anymore), as the proper way to do it." Mr. Armstrong is once again re-writing history. As anyone can see by going back to the records, Armstrong made the most recent version of his "I will not respond to anti-Catholics" promise after and as a direct result of my critiquing his book. In fact, at first, he tried to respond to my articles (here's an example). But it was painfully clear he was in way over his head, so he all of a sudden had a change of heart and issued his "don't respond to anti-Catholics" decree. Now he would have his readers thinking he actually did so before I began my review, so that I was taking the easy road in going after him only after I knew I would be "safe" from his brilliant and awe-inspiring rebuttals, which, sadly, the world cannot now see because he is so consistent in keeping his oaths. Please! Someone fax over some reality to Mr. Armstrong.
01/01/2005 - James WhiteAs you can see, I'm investing some time in properly working through the published comments of Dave Armstrong. Two quick notes:
1) The Greek font I generally use is from BibleWorks, and is available for download and installation here (this includes the Hebrew font as well). In a recent article I used the Mounce font, which does not seem to be available any longer. It used to be at www.teknia.com, and the free font avialable there may work acceptably well.
2) The replies Armstrong is posting on his blog are simply amazing. The most recent brought back up his "I can't find anyone with sufficient artistic skills to match Angelz so I'll 'borrow' his stuff again" activities. Deep, very deep. I'm glad the issue is larger than Armstrong, and the review more useful than just demonstrating his errors. :-)
Angelz Shows DA How To Do Humor the Right Way
01/13/2005 - James WhiteHUMOR ALERT! HUMOR ALERT! Granite-faced Calvinists and frigid cold Catholics need not continue reading, or even look!
As some of you know, Dave Armstrong at first tried to reply, somewhat, to my review of his book, The Catholic Verses. Then he pulled the plug on responding to "anti-Catholics," again, as he has done in the past, as Eric Svendsen so humorously documented. Then he started writing "theme songs" for me, which, of course, is not really responding, at least not in a responsive way, with words and arguments and things, see.... Well, this morning, when I read Eric's blog on the Dividing Line, little did I know that my friend Angel was listening, and getting tickled. And so, back by popular demand, I present Angel's most recent creation. There is so much fun stuff in this one, you need to look at the big picture. Check out all the details! And Dave, please read the note along the side. It's just for you! :-)
Roman Unity: If it Promotes Mother Rome, It's All Good
01/06/2010 - James WhiteMy first moderated, public debate was on the subject of Roman Catholicism. It took place in August of 1990. Since I have a few decades of experience now, I find myself shaking my head in disbelief at one particular fact over and over again: Rome's apologists just don't seem driven to work hard in their field. Further, they clearly observe the "throw everything including the kitchen sink in defense of Rome, no matter how objectively bad it is on a scholarly level."
Illustration: today Patrick Madrid took a shot at "Calvinists" in general on his blog. For someone who has yet, to my knowledge, to engage a Calvinist on the relevant subjects (of course I would, Patrick, let's set it up!) in debate, I find his surface-level retorts somewhat amusing. But what is amazing are the three links he provides for, what he calls, "quite able" refutations of Calvinism. Two are ancient articles Jimmy Akin wrote years and years ago, neither of which provide much in the way of substance. And the third is to Dave Armstrong's series on Calvin! Now, with all due respect to ol' Dave Armstrong, he is one of the clearest examples of why past canon law prohibited laymen from engaging in public disputation in defense of Rome. Serious readers in the field realize that while Dave may stumble over a thoughtful argument once in a while, it is always to be found somewhere else. He simply does not produce original argumentation of any kind, and clearly does not understand the responses that have been offered to him over and over again. So, we find Madrid once again pulling out of mothballs surface-level materials that are nearly two decades old, and promoting Dave Armstrong as "quite able" refutations of Reformed theology. One is truly left wondering if these men really think this kind of material has real weight and meaning, or if they are just too bored to do serious work in the field. I will leave it to the reader to decide.
Desperation of Armstrong Fans: Patrick
01/04/2005 - James WhiteQuick note: yesterday, when Dave Armstrong first posted his "I'm done with critics" stuff, his blog showed exactly two articles. Everything else was gone. Later in the day the rest of the material re-appeared. Obviously, at some point, an error was made in posting material (a common enough event). I've seen something similar happen at PowerLine, where all of a sudden one column takes over the content of another. In any case, when the article first appeared, that was the state of DA's blog: that article and the preceding one with a link. Nothing more in the blog section, just the side column. I mentioned this in passing, and so, of course, someone named "Patrick" on DA's blog has even more evidence of my dishonesty as a result. It is truly amazing to watch these folks do everything in their power to avoid dealing with the actual issues I have raised. Amazingly sad, anyway. Onward and upward, as one radio personality is known for saying...
The Catholic Verses: Introit
12/29/2004 - James WhiteI sometimes feel sorry for ancient artists. Their work gets plastered all across the covers of modern books, but they never get a dime for their efforts. It's a shame. That odd observation aside, I picked up a copy of Dave Armstrong's The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants (Sophia Institute Press, 2004, 235 pp.), which sports said ancient art (a di Bondone painting) on its cover. I'm a Protestant, and I have yet to be confounded by Dave Armstrong, so I thought it might be interesting to invest some time in using it as a resource here on the blog.
Likewise, I was listening to a debate between a Church of Christ minister and Bill Rutland, another Roman Catholic apologist, yesterday. I was fascinated by Rutland's bold assertions about the Greek language (I'll be addressing him in time). When RC apologists like Armstrong and Rutland promote arguments in their writings and debates that are, in fact, invalid, we have a duty to respond to them, even if we have, in fact, responded to similiar kinds of errors dozens of times in the past. Why? Because the folks you may be seeking to win to the gospel may have a copy of The Catholic Verses on their nightstand, or a CD of Rutland's in their car.
Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall win the award for brevity and concise expression, and let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage. Thankfully, there are folks "in channel" who can help me find out if there is, in fact, anything at all of substance in said replies, and if there is, I will seek to note it, again for only one reason: the edification of the saints both in their confidence in the gospel and in their preparation for the task of proclamation.
So we will begin with one of the classic passages in the Catholic/Protestant debate: 2 Thessalonians 2:15. I will start there in the next installment simply because Armstrong notes The Roman Catholic Controversy in his book, hence, his section on the verse should "confound" my own exegesis of the text. Does it? We shall see.
The Catholic Verses: Luke 1:28 (Part V)
01/03/2005 - James WhiteInterestingly, though I presented these passages and this objection in the same section from which Dave Armstrong quoted, he did not address them. He did, however, make one of the most common errors one encounters in literature such as this: the "let's look at a really basic definition in a Greek grammar and hope it applies to our particular text" mistake. Now, of course, there is nothing wrong with providing basic definitions, but in this case, Armstrong is claiming to be refuting a scholar who has invested years in learning the language, something he has chosen not to do. So Armstrong tries to quote such a basic definition as if Svendsen would be ignorant of it. The reality is, Svendsen is aware of far more about the subject than Armstrong is. DA writes,
So he tries to show by cross-referencing and Greek grammar that Luke 1:28 is neither unique nor a support for Mary's sinlessness or the Immaculate Conception. But the perfect stem of a Greek verb, denotes, according to Friedrich Blass and Albert DeBrunner, "continuance of a completed action" (Greek Grammar of the New Testament [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961], 66). Mary, therefore, continues afterward to be full of the grace she possessed at the time of the Annunciation. That cannot, of course, be said of all believers in Ephesians 1:6, because of differences of levels of grace, as shown earlier.
Again, so many mistakes in so few words. Eric was noting the fact that the perfect tense would not tell you that Mary had always had a "perfection of grace" as Rome tries to assert. Armstrong misses his entire point. Secondly, Svendsen did not say Luke 1:28 is not unique, but that it does not teach what Rome has packed into it. Third, what does Armstrong mean by "perfect stem"? Does he even know? I do not get the feeling he has any idea what Greek stems are all about, personally. He might wish to read the rest of the syntax section in sections 340 through 346 of Blass/Debrunner for a little fuller discussion of the range of the perfect in Greek. We have already noted the problems with Armstrong's explanations of Ephesians 1:6.
So in essence, neither of the two possible approaches to substantiating the Roman claims regarding kecaritwme,nh are successfully pursued by Armstrong. What we are left with, then, is his exercise in deductive logic, to which we will turn in our next installment.
James White Promotes Worship of John Calvin!
06/21/2007 - James White...or so Dave Armstrong alleges this morning. As an example of his methodology of argumentation (which often includes the, "Oh, look at that issue over there that is completely irrelevant to the point at hand, isn't it interesting?" tactic), Armstrong's attempted response to this blog entry begins by re-posting Dan Borvan's picture from Geneva of the "Reformation Wall" with this subtitle:
For this to be true, of course, it would have to follow that DA has evidence that Dan bowed down to these statues, lit candles to them, prayed to them, and sought the intercession of these men of God. Of course, Armstrong doesn't have that evidence, and, of course, Dan didn't do that, which only shows once again that Armstrong has no compunctions about constructing straw-men.
I note briefly in passing as well that Armstrong's response proves that he is unable to engage the actual texts under discussion outside of relying upon secondary sources. That is, all he can do is try to line up commentators on one side or the other and say, "See, my point is possible because these guys say so." But he is not capable of responding to the substance of the comments regarding martu,rwn, qeatai, etc., for this is beyond his area of study. Now, there is nothing wrong with someone being ignorant of the original languages, exegesis, etc., however, there is everything wrong in being ignorant of these things and yet making repeated pronouncements about the conclusions of the study of these fields.
The Most Pathetic Post I've Ever Seen...
04/05/2005 - James White...at least from an "apologist." This just appeared on Dave Armstrong's blog. You remember Dave Armstrong. Yes, he's the fellow who kept stealing Angel's artwork, having a four-year old butcher it, and posting it on his blog. Same fellow who melted down into a puddle of apologetic goo when I finally invested the time to start working through his book, The Catholic Verses, and that after years of wanting to "debate" me in writing (but, of course, never in person). Same fellow who then took an oath to stop interacting with "anti-Catholics" (convenient use of terminology)---which had the not overly unexpected result of basically killing his blog, which then went into hibernation during Lent anyway. And so now what do I find but a listing of my books and their Amazon sales ranks compared to who else, but DA! Honestly, how utterly pathetic can someone become? It was bad enough that his work was shown to be consistently shallow, and worse that his attempts to respond were shrill and panic-filled (leading to his melt down and his unwillingness to even attempt further defense), but evidently he was stewing a good deal more than anyone knew to stoop this low. Of course, there's a little problem: Amazon is not a major outlet for my works. My own ministry, other Christian ministries, and bookstores (including academic ones: a number of my works are used as textbooks in various Bible schools and seminaries) make up the majority of my distribution. Now, I don't personally care if Mr. Armstrong does in fact outsell me: the Prayer of Jabez sold more books than I will ever sell in my entire lifetime, and it remains a vapid waste of paper. But it truly amazes me that someone who utterly lacks the tools to do the work he claims to do with such expertise continues to be dragged along by the rest of his compatriots. Just another example of "as long as it is in the service of Mother Church, it is all good." What a contrast: we seek to be consistent in honor of the truth, which at times requires us to speak to less-than-popular topics (such as our exposure of the many errors of Dave Hunt). Where is that kind of consistent dedication to truth on the "Roman" side?
Checking Armstrong's Facts on the Reformers
04/26/2007 - James SwanI've been asking Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong a very simple question lately. It all has to do with one of Armstrong's books. Dave cites one of the Reformers, and I've simply been asking him if he's actually read the Reformer he's citing, in context. So far, I've gotten a massive amount of response from Dave, but a simple yes or no is yet to appear (probably never will).
Why is this a big deal? In a recent debate book by Dwight Longenecker and David Gustafson entitled, Mary: A Catholic-Evangelical Debate, the Catholic contributor cites, you guessed it, one of Dave Armstrong's books as a source for information about the Reformers views on Mary.
I find this curious, because Dave Armstrong is neither a historian nor a theologian. As far as I know, he's a guy in Michigan sitting in his attic with a computer. But yet, this book cites him as if he were an authority on the Reformers. Now, if I were to cite someone on the Reformers, I would at least want to know they've actually read the Reformers, particularly the material being cited. Well, Dave won't answer, which leads me to believe there is a strong probability he has not read the primary source material.
I found this out a few years ago when I did a written exchange with Mr. Armstrong on Luther's view of Mary. I methodically cited Luther from the standard English set of Luther's Works. This makes it quite easy for anyone to go to a library, look up the citations, and check my work. Now in the electronic age, Luther's Works are available on CD. It becomes quite difficult to obscure facts when tracking down the context can be done with ease by anyone.
Dave on the other hand primarily cited Luther's German Works. He referenced the German Weimar edition 33 times. Some of the references didn't even make sense. Then he cited numerous secondary German sources. Now, one could stand in awe of Armstrong's seeming fluency in Luther studies, if of course Armstrong spoke and read German, and had access to scores of books that have been out of print for many years. But, as far as I know, Armstrong does not read or speak German, nor does he have access to the Luther goldmine of written material.
And then comes the kick. In checking Armstrong's citations, all is not as it appears. For instance, Dave is fond of saying Luther was "extraordinarily devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary." He loves to put forth historical data suggesting Luther held a lifelong belief in the Immaculate Conception. Back when I dialoged with him, his original source for this was a Luther quote put forth by Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar, nearly 100 years ago:
"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin" (Sermon: "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527)
So, I tracked down the Grisar book Armstrong was using. Sure, the quote was there, along with this commentary from Grisar:
"The sermon was taken down in notes and published with Luther's approval. The same statements concerning the Immaculate Conception still remain in a printed edition published in 1529, but in later editions which appeared during Luther's lifetime they disappear."
The reason for their disappearance is that as Luther's Christocentric theology developed, aspects of Luther's Mariology were abandoned. Grisar recognizes this. In regards to the Luther quote in question, Grisar goes on to say,
"As Luther's intellectual and ethical development progressed we cannot naturally expect the sublime picture of the pure Mother of God, the type of virginity, of the spirit of sacrifice and of sanctity to furnish any great attraction for him, and as a matter of fact such statements as the above are no longer met with in his later works."
Even in material readily available, one wonders if Dave reads what he cites. For instance, Dave has said, "In fact, Martin Luther praised Mary and said that she should be honored in his very last sermon at Wittenberg." This is an easy one to track down. Armstrong is correct Luther mentions Mary in his last Wittenberg sermon. Luther did not say or imply though that Mary should be honored. Luther's tone is quite sarcastic, and his main point is that Christ alone should be worshiped. Luther mocks those who would call upon Mary or venerate her. Luther insists that those who seek Christ through Mary do so by the use of reason, and reason is by nature a harmful adulteress.
Dave accuses me of nitpicking over tedium like this. He wants to be taken seriously as a Catholic apologist. If it were my book going to print making historical claims, I would make sure that I actually read and understood the material presented. It has nothing to do with Dave's Catholicism. Recently on this blog I took a look at some historical assertions made by C. Gordon Olson, a Protestant.
As a layman, I do my best to read critically. If I'm going to respect someone as an authority on a particular subject, the facts should check out. With Mr. Armstrong's work, he still has yet to impress me as an authority on the Reformers. Catholic laymen should know that there are in fact Catholic historians and scholars that have put forth some excellent books on Luther. Don't settle for material that sounds good because it makes Rome look better. Check the facts; look for the truth, even if the facts come from your own camp. Simply because they do, does not mean they are correct.
More Quotable Sippo (and Dave Armstrong Again)
07/11/2008 - James WhiteThe following appears in the context of a discussion of the semantic domain and meanings of δικαιόω (justify, declare righteous). Sippo opines:
I need to lay my cards on the table. IMHO Protestantism is a demonic deception. It is founded on the philosophy of the medieval via moderna and not in any way on the Bible. Nothing remotely resembling the Protestant doctrie of JBFA ever existed until mentally disturbed Martin Luther needed a psychological catharis for his clinical depression. His solution was an amoralist understanding of righteousness as a merely formal declaration completely devoid of ontological foundation. This tallies nicely with a nominalist understanding of concepts but makes no sense in a realist worldview such as we have in the Scriptures. Even Alister McGrath admitted that this was a complete innovation ("a theological novum") unknown previously in Christian theology.Of course, that's a pretty gross misuse of McGrath's intention, as anyone who has read McGrath knows, but what's new? In any case, when I noted Sippo's inability to differentiate between "I disagree with position X" and "the person promoting position X is a liar," I couldn't help but notice Dave Armstrong had to demonstrate that he, like Sippo, lacks the same basic cognitive capacity. Once again using his "play with pictures" technique of apologetics, Armstrong accused me of doing the very thing Sippo was doing. But, to make his case, he actually had to cite me, and the truly sad and embarrassing thing for Armstrong is, anyone who reads what I said will notice that Armstrong "just doesn't get it." Being able to differentiate between a difference of opinion and saying someone is a liar does not require you to believe that dishonesty does not exist in the world. All the examples he gave lacked the one thing they needed to be relevant: a logical parallel to the actual case at hand. This is why I do not bother with Armstrong any longer: not only has his incapacity as a serious writer or apologist been documented far too many times over the years here, but the simple fact is that he is sort of like the Wall-E of Catholic apologists: he gathers bits and pieces from here and there and cobbles them together, often without sufficient background or knowledge to understand how they should or could be related, and then adds a generous helping of self-citation and a mountain of excess verbiage to give the appearance of substance. Unfortunately, he lacks Wall-E's adorable personality, or, at least, big eyes. Armstrong knows he only has one "safe" place in this world, behind his keyboard: he will never, ever venture out in the real world to face those he so confidently mocks in real debate. So while I'm sure he will get his six-months worth of satisfaction for having been noted again, I truly wonder if he realizes just how often he documents his own failure to provide a consistent and compelling case?
tiredofNJ Replies to Dave Armstrong
06/14/2005 - James WhiteI guess Dave Armstrong has gone off about the Rutland debate as well, but since I removed his blog from my RSS feed (he posted a reverse-color picture of me from years ago and I finally decided that life would be so much more enjoyable without having to encounter such material on a daily basis) I haven't seen it. But I liked what tired had to say in response to DA, and the way he said it, so here it is:
Dave's post makes two claims. One, James White did a, b, c, d, e, f-z14, and when these are linked to passing statements he made about Rutland ("Notice once again the 'poison the well' technique."), James is a hypocrite. I've never cared for this sort of argumentation, the hallmark of embittered spouses and certain political activists, storing up grievances and unloading them when opportune. These matters should be dealt with at the time or left alone; if you did try to resolve them and they were not met to your satisfaction, that doesn't make them relevant. For even if James really is the Pharisee of all Pharisees it doesn't negate his claims against Rutland. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees. He did not condone lying about them.
The second claim is that James is boasting about the debate (with occasional, subsequent mention of Rutland perhaps doing the same). Dave links us to this as James's "post-debate" analysis. This is James's post-debate analysis. I attended the debate and James's speaking engagements in the days following. He was happy with the debate. The post Dave linked to re: Rutland was in response to Rutland's false claims about the debate, not to the debate's content. James's position has always been "that both sides should simply leave these judgments to the listeners (let their arguments speak for themselves)."
If it was really "his ongoing goal, apparently, to make all Catholic dialogue opponents look as ridiculous as possible," why did James say he was happy with the debate? Why did he hold out hope as late as June 12th that Rutland would correct Sippo's errors?
The "hand-shaking controversies" section is inane. I've attended 14 of James's debates. He is always courteous to his opponent and expects the same from his audience. This is one of the reasons he has a good relationship with Mitch Pacwa (last I checked, a Roman Catholic). He did not shake hands with anyone for the rest of the weekend. He even apologized for it last Sunday from the pulpit of a Baptist church. Baptists aren't RCs.
Dave hopscotched through the interaction, picking out enough to justify another White-is-a-hypocrite conclusion ("if Rutland is guilty of these things, that it is nothing that White has not been doing himself for many years"). But those things that Dave calls "these things" were not the crux of the discussion. The issues prompting James's posts were Sippo's falsehoods and Rutland's eventual endorsement of them, nothing else.
James White: Meanest of the Mean
01/03/2005 - James WhiteIt is hard to find words to describe the response of Dave Armstrong to the review of his own published work. I mean, when you publish a book, do you expect that no one will respond to it, review it, check it for accuracy, examine it for apologetic coherence? When you claim to be able to perform action X (i.e., provide coherent, accurate exegesis and analysis of biblical passages) do you really think you should be given a pass when you consistently fail to do so? I'm sorry, but up till today the essence of DA's replies has been, "He's so mean! He's engaging in ad hominem!" Yet every example he provides refers to a statement where I am making observations, or providing conclusions, based upon the very factual and exegetical material that Mr. Armstrong has miserably failed to handle accurately (and, of course, he'd cite that as more ad hominem). ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Dave Armstrong on Presuppositional Apologetics (Updated)
04/12/2007 - James WhiteOn Tuesday I noted in passing the importance of the relationship between theology and apologetics, and how a sub-biblical theology can only result in a sub-biblical apologetic. I have been a bit concerned about some of the replies I have seen. There is a lot of confusion about the relevant categories. One glowing example of completely missing my point (and I do mean completely), is provided by Roman Catholic Dave Armstrong. The entire post is a classic example of missing categories and utter epistemological confusion (let alone a glaring example of how someone can be the prisoner of their own bias when it comes to reading what I've written), but here is one portion that stands out:
White mocks the notions of "preponderance of the evidence" and "greater probability" as antithetical to biblical Christianity and the proclamation of the gospel, yet this is precisely what the early Christians did: they proclaimed eyewitness testimony of what they had seen and heard. If they presented "legal"-type testimony, then why cannot an apologist use the same sort of argument today? No one alive was an eyewitness of these events, so it is necessarily the case that we have to make legal-historical arguments in order to do an intelligent rational apologetics.Now, lay aside the normal Armstrongian loquaciousness and hand-waving and hear how completely he has missed what I said. I never once said a word against the presentation of eyewitness evidence. I never once "mocked" the direct proclamation of the resurrection of Christ by the eyewitnesses. In fact, that was my point. The apostles did not say, "Well, we are pretty certain Jesus rose. I mean, no one can be totally certain, of course, but we think that on the balance, the best data we can give you points to the greater probability that He rose than that He didn't." My point was that the apostles did not speak in such a fashion. They did not say that God might have raised Jesus from the dead, so you get to judge the facts for yourself as if you are some kind of neutral observer and "greater probabilities" will persuade you. No, God has spoken with clarity and force, and has rendered man avnapolo,ghtoj, without a defense. That does not mean, "with an argument that is less probable than the Christian one," but without any argument. The non-Christian worldview devolves down to absurdity, and it is our task to point this out.
Sadly, Armstrong truly has no concept of what he identifies as presuppositionalism. Anyone who has spent any time at all with Van Til or Bahnsen cannot help but shake their head at Armstrong's wild swings at a phantom far removed from the truth.
Dave Armstrong continues to beat himself in the head over his utter lack of understanding of the issues involved related to his very confident claims regarding presuppositionalism. To prove his great and in-depth study, he has now told us that RC Sproul is a critic of presuppositionalism! Shocking! I am so glad to learn of this! Oh...wait! I used Classical Apologetics as a text book in my Christian apologetics class I taught at Golden Gate Seminary at least six years ago! How could I have forgotten? Oh, I remember now! I was lecturing on the methods of apologetics and was providing my students with material from both sides! That's right! I even referred them to the Bahnsen/Sproul dialogue on apologetic methodology! So, Armstrong has a book I have assigned to my students! And what does this mean? That despite having such a book, he still couldn't understand what I was talking about and properly follow the categories!
A Further Comment on One of Dave Armstrong's Arguments
04/22/2010 - James WhiteTurretinFan is providing responses to a series of arguments put forward by Dave Armstrong. In today's installment TurretinFan was responding to this argument:
Is every Christian in the world able to find enough time, and become educated enough and familiar enough with Scripture to be his own theologian? And if he consults other ones, wise enough to always get it right when he chooses?
I was reminded of my closing statement from the debate with Mitch Pacwa where I pulled out a pile of Roman Catholic magisterial documents and asked the simple question as to whether this huge pile of material (often requiring knowledge of Latin) clarified, or muddied, the words of Romans 5:1, "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The answer is obvious, and it surely exposes the above arguments' error. If it is a relevant argument that no one has enough time or education to "be his own theologian," how is adding to the deposit of faith an answer? If there is not enough time in life to become an expert on Scripture, there is enough time to become an expert on the much larger, much more difficult to master body of Magisterial documents, which likewise make reference then to Scripture? The problem is compounded by the fact that the interpretation of those magisterial documents changes from decade to decade depending on the current make-up of the Magisterium itself. So the Roman Catholic offers a problem to which he posits no meaningful solution, unless you are willing to accept the time-honored position, "I believe whatever the priest tells me to believe." And that is surely something we have all seen, over and over again.
Ad Hominem Argumentation (With Outer Space Update Added)
01/04/2005 - James WhiteFirst, Patrick reminded me that I did not include the single worst sub-title from Hahn's book on Mary, "Fetal Attraction." Yes, that one takes the prize.
A quick refresher for all those who seem to be easily confused about forms of argumentation. At the moment a fairly small group of folks are filling up the blogosphere with the constant assertion that I have engaged in ad hominem argumentation in my reviews of Armstrong's book, mainly because I have concluded sections by noting Armstrong's inability to seriously engage the topic at hand (i.e., provide meaningful exegesis). Now, Mr. Armstrong may not like that I have pointed this out. Evidently, it is not allowable in our society to point out when someone provides shallow, errant, and generally worthless argumentation in a written form: seemingly this is particularly the case when that writing appears in a religious context, for whatever anyone writes about religion is equally good with whatever anyone else writes about religion, or so we are told. In any case, Mr. Armstrong may not like the fact that I have concluded that he is not able to handle the information he claims to present in his book, but let us be very clear on one thing: that is not ad hominem argumentation. It is not, in fact, argumentation at all. ...
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The Catholic Verses: 95 Reduced to 91
12/30/2004 - James WhiteDave Armstrong lists four verses that "confound Protestants" under the subtitle of "The Binding Authority of Tradition, According to St. Paul," beginning on page 37 of The Catholic Verses. They are:
1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. ...
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Quick Thought Regarding DA and Exegesis
12/31/2004 - James WhiteDave Armstrong is responding on his blog, but I confess, it seems to be pretty difficult to follow where he's going. Here's how today's retort, which in its title speaks of "ad hominem," starts. My words are in blue:
DA has replied to my first comments on his book [see: previous installment ]. They were...predictable. Armstrong says his book is not "primarily" exegetical. Quite true. It is not secondarily exegetical. It is not exegetical in a tertiary manner. It simply isn't exegetical at all....
It does contain some exegesis, but here's the heart of my purpose (from my Introduction):
. . . only rarely do they seriously engage the biblical texts utilized by Catholics to support their positions . . . . critique of common Protestant attempts to ignore, explain away, rationalize, wish away, over-polemicize, minimize, de-emphasize, evade clear consequences of, or special plead with regard to "the Catholic Verses": 95 biblical passages . . . ultimate incoherence, inadequacy, inconsistency, or exegetical and theological implausibility of the Protestant interpretations . . . (pp. xii-xiv)
But, that's the whole point. The book pretends to "confound" Protestants with biblical passages, remember? I did not choose the title, Mr. Armstrong did.
Technically, I am not trying to "confound" anyone. It is the Bible which gives Protestants difficulty. I'm merely documenting exegetical bankruptcy, confusion, or irrationality.
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Today on the Dividing Line
02/19/2008 - James WhiteOK, I blame TQuid for sending me the Dave Armstrong clips, and Rich for pointing me to the Three Dog Night song (which I had never heard till today, honestly). But the result is...an unusual DL! Here's the program (free/high quality).
06/24/2007 - James SwanCatholic apologist Dave Armstrong is now arguing Jonathan Edwards believed the saints in heaven see what's happening on earth. Therefore, Dr. White should consider granting the validity of at least this basic aspect of Armstrong's argument for intercessory prayer to the saints:
"Jonathan Edwards would wholeheartedly agree with me on this general point of awareness of saints in heaven, of the earth, and disagree with James White."
"White can dismiss, if he likes, my exegetical and theological arguments as the raving of an unregenerate, ignorant Catholic apostate (that's what he thinks of me), but surely he can't dismiss Jonathan Edwards so easily."
This is desperate logic. James White is a Reformed Baptist. Jonathan Edwards was not. A theological argument is not valid simply because one of the greatest minds in church history speculates on the state of the awareness of those in heaven. Dr. White is under no compulsion to grant the validity of every point Edwards made. One can understand why Armstrong would argue this way: he is under compulsion to believe the theological dogmas defined by his church, despite what the Bible says contrarily.
Edwards viewed many aspects of Roman Catholicism as darkness and gross delusions. Edwards says, "Many nations are under popish darkness, and are in such gross delusions that they worship the Virgin Mary, and a great multitude of dead men, whom their church has canonized for saints; some real saints, and others abominably wicked men... they worship the relics of dead saints; such as pieces of their bones, their teeth, their hair, pieces of their garments, and the like. And innumerable other such foolish delusions are they under" [The Works of Jonathan Edwards II:634].
Chasing Luther Quotes
01/04/2008 - James SwanI've spent a lot of time chasing Luther quotes, particularly those put forth by Catholic apologists. Back in November, I posted a brief review of a Martin Luther quote used by Steve Ray in his book Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church. The quote suggested Luther wrote a letter to Zwingli telling him only a Church Council could decide their differences. It's not just Steve, this particular quote is a favorite of those dedicated to defending Rome, both past and present.
I have found Roman Catholic citations of Luther often less than accurate. His words are used as a polemical tools to solidify whatever point is being made. I enjoy the opportunity to look up the quotes, demonstrate the underlying bias, and the abandonment of context. If you find a Catholic quoting Luther conceding a council would be that which could unify the Reformers, or that Luther wrote Zwingli (a man he ultimately considered a heretic), and stated only decrees of councils could resolve the Lord's Supper issues between them, your mental brakes should go on immediately.
I have never been so attacked with such vigor by Roman Catholics than in this particular instance. I've read blog articles and discussion threads obfuscating the issues I raised, along with plenty of insults and rhetoric. All testify to how awful I am for questioning this particular Luther saying. As I read all of it, it lead to one conclusion: no one in Catholic apologetics seemed to have any idea where Luther said what he was quoted as saying, and no one had any idea what the context was. In my original posting, I provided the answers to both.
Steve responded with an 11 page PDF document and then an updated version (and has also mentioned doing another revision at some point). Originally, Steve joined with the others in attacking my work on this quote. After my counter-response, Steve mentioned that he was "grateful for [my] research" and that he intended to thank me for it in his next revision. We've had some cordial e-mail exchanges, agreeing to take the discussion between us off the radar until more information about the quote surfaced.
Even though Steve and I agreed to this, I was thrust into a dispute with Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong over this particular Luther quote, with Steve linking to Armstrong's attacks off his blog. Mr. Armstrong informed his readers that he was doing research on the quote that would possibly render me "decisively refuted and embarrassed." Well, that dreaded moment finally arrived. Mr. Armstrong posted his findings.
It was claimed that Luther wrote a letter to Zwingli from which this particular quote was taken. I denied the existence of this letter, and I made the challenge to produce any letter from Luther to Zwingli. Armstrong concluded the quote wasn't from a letter, nor could he produce any such letters. I then put forth the actual treatise and context from which the quote came. Mr Armstrong concluded,
"Swan is also correct that the citation in question is indeed from Luther's 1527 treatise: That These Word of Christ, "This Is My Body," etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics (found in LW, vol. 37)."
I then provided the specific name to the treatise as it appeared in Latin, being translated from the original German. Mr. Armstrong responded,
"In a source helpfully provided by our esteemed friend James Swan, it is noted that the Latin version was entitled contra Fanaticos Sacramentariorum spiritus. This would account for the widely differing source names, according to whether one was citing a Latin or German version. Of course, the main "fanatical Sacramentarians" Luther is responding to were Zwingli and Oecolampadius; thus in common usage we can see how it could become known as simply Contra Zwingli and Oecolampadius or variation thereof."
Now that Mr. Armstrong's research has produced what I claimed all along, one would think an apology of some sort would be given. No, Mr. Armstrong does what he does best, continue to insult and obfuscate. He's put together two blog entries filled with his usual meandering reasoning (one of them is back-posted to December 15, 2007, even though it is recent). He's indeed correct the German original and the Latin translation have a difficulty in matching up. On the other hand, the Latin quote came from a Latin treatise, which means it had a context.
Mr. Armstrong should know how easy it is for Luther to be taken out-of-context, as he has written so much on Luther, and has so many books on Luther. There simply is no way he could miss this particular fact about Luther studies. I have stated more than once, that these Catholic apologists, when going to print with their books, claiming to be deep in history is to cease being Protestant, should live up to their standards. If they make a historical statement, they should go deep into history to validate that statement when challenged.
Armstrong recently stated,
"The citation will be proved (in the near future) to be a solid one, that has been used by many important people: themselves highly intelligent and scholarly. If anyone has been acting like a condescending fool, in over his head, in this current dispute, it is James Swan, not Steve Ray or myself."
Well, Dave Armstrong 2008 appears to be a lot like Dave Armstrong 2007. Dave didn't prove anything except what I originally stated. This means, Luther was taken out-of-context.
The New Catholic (Right and Wrong) Answer Bible
04/03/2009 - James SwanIt was a little over year ago while skimming through the books at Borders that I came across The New Catholic Answer Bible (Wichita: Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005). Similar to someone impulsively looking at dogs and cats on pet adoption day, I couldn't resist, and took it home with me. It wasn't until I did a few web searches that I was able to figure out exactly who put this thing together. It's a collaboration between Dr. Paul Thigpen, editor of The Catholic Answer magazine, My Daily Catholic Bible (Our Sunday Visitor) and Dave Armstrong (a self-proclaimed Catholic apologist).
Recently, Mr. Armstrong took a strong dislike to my blog entry, "We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #9. In that entry, I pointed out that the Bible contributions of Thigpen and Armstrong don't seem to match up to the commentary notes of The New Catholic Answer Bible. Armstrong has finally let us know why. He refers to them as "...the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB...". Armstrong says,
"As we have come to sadly expect, the know-nothing anti-Catholic crowd (being dense as they always are about Catholic topics) would rather cite heterodox, liberal dissidents than orthodox popes and orthodox Catholic commentaries. That fits in nicely with their slanderous agenda. But the truth is far different."
When one visits the homepage for The New Catholic Answer Bible, we're told the following:
"Fireside is proud to introduce The New Catholic Answer Bible- New American Bible-Ideal for:RCIA - Religious Education -Confirmation -Bible Study- Youth Ministry -High Schools & Universities. Benefits: -Provides for a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith -Presents inquiring questions for class discussion -Teaches the roots, tradition and rituals of the faith Translation-"
That's very impressive, is it not? After reading this, one is given the assurance of a quality book of factual information. Indeed, you'll be getting the best Catholic answers, right at your fingertips, along with the biblical text. You'll' have study Bible guiding you toward "a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith." Just think of the possibilities... a Catholic could walk into any Protestant Bible study with The New Catholic Answer Bible, and be ready to defend the one true church. You could use this Bible in high schools and universities, to learn and defend the Catholic faith! The back cover boldly states, "The New Catholic Answer Bible is your faith's foundation in Holy Scripture and Catechesis."
The commentary notes though used by the Thigpen / Armstrong New Catholic Answer Bible are, according to DA "the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB," written by "heterodox, liberal dissidents." That is... not very comforting. Are we to assume the "answers" given in the NCAB commentary notes are not intended by Armstrong and Thigpen to be correct answers? I suggest they rename this book, "The New Catholic Right and Wrong Answer Bible. Armstrong and Thigpen should also explain why the reference material for the NAB was given the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: "The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free from doctrinal or moral error." Perhaps those granting it don't have the same criteria used by Dave to determine "heterodox, liberal dissidents." In fact, the declaration goes on to say, "No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur agree with the content, opinions or statements expressed." Now that's the beauty of being Rome- you can affirm and deny so as to cover all bases.
Of course, Mr. Armstrong included his usual kindness. I'm part of the "know-nothing anti-Catholic crowd (being dense as they always are about Catholic topics)." I put forth my "usual clueless ignorance." He says I'm "spewing idiotic nonsense." "Pointing out simple facts because an anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention from our ranks can't get them right to save his life is neither "debate" nor "dialogue" (as if that even needs to be pointed out). I suggest that this nitwit (with -- of all things -- a philosophy degree yet!!) pull out the closest dictionary to get up to speed on definitions." Yes, the kindness of Catholic apologists, topped off with the charge, "Lying (especially about brothers in Christ), is a very serious sin, and bearing false witness is forbidden in the Ten Commandments."
Speaking of lying, a while back, someone asked Dave, "Dave, New challenge for you. James Swan posted an article on 3-3-09 where he argues 2 Macc 12 is not a clear reference to Purgatory. You might enjoy refuting his comments, especially because he cites you by name and says you're wrong." Dave responded,
Thanks for the info, but I no longer waste time debating anti-Catholic sophists. When I did do so, for 12 years, almost all of them ran every time they faced an opposing argument. For the few who managed to not run, it was all sophistry and obscurantism. That is most unimpressive and irksome, so I have given up. I continue to make my own arguments but I don't bother with theirs anymore, because they never defend them when challenged. One has to understand how to rationally, properly assert and defend arguments. I don't have time for that. I want to dialogue with people who have some semblance of intellectual confidence in their positions.
See also this link.
But then, to make it all "Christian" Mr. Armstrong turns the other cheek and states, "Pray for this self-deluded person and all like him. They are in a very bad spiritual state, to keep doing these things. There's always hope, and they are fellow Christians, but they need much prayer. Ask the Blessed Virgin Mary in particular, to intercede on their behalf, and apply Lenten penances to their souls." Such is the world of conservative orthodox Catholic apologists like Dave Armstrong. How would Dave's prayer go? Based on Dave's comments, I've put together a prayer. Perhaps it could be something like, "Dear Mary, please help this clueless, ignorant, dense, know-nothing, slanderer, nit wit, anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention, liar, and spewer of idiotic nonsense stop quoting the notoriously liberal notes (with the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur) for the NAB. Help him to see (and embrace), the true Catholic faith found in those sections of our Answer Bible that agree with what we deem correct by orthodox scholars and Catholic commentaries.
Shea Not Willing to Dance to this Particular Piper
11/23/2009 - Tur8infanMatthew 11:16-17
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
Mark Shea seems unhappy (link to his post). He states:
Speaking of weird partisanship, here's yet another Calvinist sitting in the peanut gallery and cheering on the atheists because they happen to be quarreling with Catholics. Better that God be blasphemed than that any slight pettiness of the 16th Century quarrel be abandoned for one second. We must have our priorities!He's complaining because I posted a link (on my personal blog) to a debate in which a Roman Catholic archbishop and a Roman Catholic member of the British parliament got trounced in a debate with Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry (link to my previous post).
It's not the first time I posted a debate between a Roman Catholic debater and Hitchens. Shea, however, didn't make the same complaint when I posted a link to a debate between Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza (link to my previous post) some time ago.
Perhaps that's because I had positive things to say about Dinesh's performance and negative things to say about the performance of Archbishop Onaiyekan. That is still a bit odd, though, because I didn't see Shea complain when his co-religionist Patrick Madrid posted this same debate and said negative things about Archbishop Onaiyekan's performance (link to Madrid's post).
Shea mentions something about cheering from the peanut gallery, but frankly if you read my post, there isn't actually any "cheering" going on there. In fact, there was more cheering in the Dinesh post than in the Onaiyekan post.
What makes Shea's botched potshot more amusing is that so far no atheists have complained about "weird partisanship" because of my comments about Dinesh, though I spend a larger fraction of my blog addressing the false gospel of Rome than addressing the irrationality of atheism.
Although, in fairness, I did not go un-fired-upon for my posting of the Dinesh debate. Roman Catholic Dave Armstrong did mock me because my post says something nice about Dinesh's performance (link to Dave Armstrong's mockery).
So, when I post a debate that went poorly for Rome, I get targeted by Shea while he leaves Madrid alone; meanwhile when I post a debate that goes well by a Roman Catholic debater I get targeted by Armstrong.
The moral of the story: you can't make folks with double standards happy.
A Refreshing Roman Catholic Blog Post
05/02/2009 - James WhiteBenjamin Douglass and others have put together a list of common Roman Catholic arguments that, well, shouldn't be common at all. Now, posting something like this, given that it would decimate the arsenal of the most popular Roman Catholic apologists on the web and on radio today, can't make Mr. Douglass and his associates the most popular Roman Catholics around, but you have to give them a lot of credit for honestly recognizing these issues (issues I have been raising for many years). So kudos to Mr. Douglass and his associates! And a word of advice to Mr. Douglass: put on your asbestos booties and gloves before opening the resultant e-mails from the likes of Dave Armstrong and all the others who are so dependent upon these very arguments.
The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part III)
01/31/2005 - James WhiteWe continue reviewing Dave Armstrong's comments on Matthew 23. He continues with a citation from my book, The Roman Catholic Controversy, p. 101, on p. 47 of The Catholic Verses. However, he does not provide some key elements of the material he is citing, so I will provide the paragraph, but will bold what was skipped, or not included, in the citation:
Indeed, the Lord's unwillingness to become an "ecclesiastical rebel" is in perfect harmony with the Scriptural teaching on the subject of authority in the church. There was nothing in the tradition of having someone read from the Scriptures while sitting on Moses' seat that was in conflict with the Scriptures, and hence, unlike the corban rule which we saw earlier in Matthew 15, Jesus does not reject this traditional aspect of Jewish synagogue worship. He does not insist upon anarchy in worship in the synagogue anymore than His apostle Paul would allow for it in the worship of the church at Corinth. It is quite proper to listen to and obey the words of the one who reads from the Law or the Prophets, for one is not hearing a man speaking in such a situation, but is listening to the very words of God....
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More On How Low Will Rome Go
04/11/2009 - James White
By the way, after recording this I took note that Dave Armstrong decided to join in the fun on the far side of the Tiber. Of course, that's hardly surprising, though no less reprehensible.
Dave Armstrong: Hey, Look At Me! I'm Over Here! Hey, Guys! (Updated With DA's "Response")
07/12/2007 - James WhiteI was speaking in Hawaii when James Swan sent me a quote from Dave Armstrong's blog. He was talking about how he was going to attend a Catholic apologetics seminar, but, he wouldn't actually get to go in the room to listen to the sessions, because he can't afford to register. He was hoping they'd have a video feed in the foyer he could watch.
For someone who is constantly talking about how well his books do, how he has refuted every Protestant apologist, the apologist's uncle, cousin, next door neighbor, and his dog as well, it strikes me as simply pitiful that Armstrong is not even being invited in the back door, let alone to be a presenter. The man is desperate, absolutely desperate, for attention, and evidently, since I have been too busy to continue the series I started on his book, he has to find where I am active (such as the Parchment and Pen blog), and follow me over there, and post drivel like this:
I've challenged James White to a lengthy debate in his chat room twice now (the first on any topic; the second on the definition of a Christian) and he refused twice (as did his associate James Swan). I also tried to enter his chat room a few months back and was kicked out after one day, even though I had done nothing wrong and was getting along fine with most in the room. I suggested that we do a program-long chat on his webcast to become more acquainted with each other as human beings and he turned that down too. I would go on his boat cruise, too. :-) Us poor apologists aren't used to such high luxury as ocean cruises!Now, that sounds pretty impressive, right? But let's remember the facts. Armstrong has a long, long history of flip-flopping around like a salmon caught on the river bank. Over and over again he has promised to never have anything to do with me, or with any "anti-Catholic." This has been going on literally for years. On March 14, 2001, for example, he posted the following:
He even ruled out any possibility of a live oral debate that he loves so much, when I asked him if he was unwilling to do that, for his part, too. All this stuff is a matter of record. It's all documented. He has, moreover, refused to respond to some dozen or more of my papers that critiqued his (several, recently).
So we see who has and has not the willingness to dialogue between us two . . .
I don't believe I will invest the effort to respond to all of your accusations against me here.
As usual. What else is new?
That way we can see how well they stand up to cross-examination, OK?
Knowing of White's love of the cross-ex format, I offered him more time to cross-examine me than I would have with him, in both my chatroom debate challenges, but it made no difference. The man debates those whom he wants to debate and ignores those he doesn't want to debate. It's as simple as that, really.
Of course, this headline was followed by a verbose explanation, but that's just Armstrong's way. In any case, I don't think this was the first time, and even if it was, it wasn't the last. When I took the time to take apart his pretended exegesis in his book, The Catholic Verses, he melted down and once again swore to have nothing to do with "us." The fact is, Dave Armstrong goes from 'in your face' apologist to pious ecumenist and back again, with various stages in between, with nauseating regularity, and you can never tell what stage he will be in at any given time.
So, how on earth can anyone trust him to not freak out a month before a debate and cancel out after a ton of money has been spent to arrange it? See, we are the ones who put out the effort to set up these debates, video tape them, and even provide the other side with a master video to use as they wish. That's not free. I have to believe the person I am going to debate is stable enough to actually show up and debate, and one thing is for sure, Dave Armstrong may be many things, but stable is not one of them. Armstrong had a standing challenge for years to debate, but after his melt-down when I took his exegesis apart a few years ago, I realized that such an endeavor would be a guaranteed disaster.
So, now, DA has come back (starting back in March, as I recall) with a vengeance, doing everything he can to get me to mention him on my blog. He has years of history in posting distorted pictures of me, cartoons, including one with an arrow stuck in my forehead with blood splashing all over the place, etc., and now he runs about the net trying to make it look as if I fear his great apologetic prowess. In some ways it is simply pitiful, in others shameful.
But I would like to help poor Dave. I mean, it's just wrong that he isn't up there with the big boys at the RC apologetics gatherings! So, here's my idea.
I won't invest my ministry's funds in arranging a face-to-face debate with Armstrong, since I don't trust him to show up. However, if Armstrong is so confident, and has so many supporters of his work, how about he do what I do all the time? If he will fly me in, put me up, pay to have the event recorded, and provide me with a master audio and video recording, I will be happy take Armstrong on. A real moderator, with knowledge of debate format, will be necessary. No honorariums needed for the debaters. Topics galore suggest themselves: Marian dogmas, purgatory, papacy, structure of the church, any number of things. All he has to do is do what A&O does all the time, and unlike him, my history with reference to remaining consistent in my views and position is spotless. So he knows I will be there, and I figure if he's paying the freight, he will be there, too. So, there you go, Dave. Put your resources on the line like I do all the time, and we will see if your challenges are worth the cyber-space it takes to post them.
Update: Armstrong Replies--Sorta
In another example of his "stalker" type status, Armstrong actually attempted to accuse me of inconsistency regarding the "anti-Catholic" label by citing all sorts of places where I have spoken of "anti-Calvinism" or "anti-Calvinistic" sermons, materials, etc. Evidently, he can't tell the difference between identifying someone as an anti-Catholic and identifying the nature of particular materials that are written specifically to oppose Calvinism. Well, that's DA for you. But ironically, though he has been going about touting himself as the champion Roman Catholic apologist I'm afraid to debate, he managed to completely ignore my invitation to him to put his resources on the line and arrange a debate with me the way we arrange debates with others (above). Here is all he provided:
Speaking of the absurd and comical, White has posted yet another of his hyper-ridiculous hit pieces against me on his blog. I will refrain from providing it the dignity of a response this time. He's gotten enough attention that he doesn't deserve. If he goes after one of my papers or books and makes an actual argument (I know it's tough, but he's capable of rational argumentation if he puts his mind to it), I'll respond -- and he will in turn almost certainly ignore that, as is his standard, yawningly predictable practice.However, various non-Catholics challenged him in his comments section, and he finally wrote,
The real question is: "why won't James White debate me in his chat room?" He continues to have this thing on his site. He even has a forum there just for debates, so he can't say that he is opposed to it in principle.In other words, Armstrong continues to refuse to debate man to man in person, and wishes only to hide behind his keyboard where he knows that no one, and I mean no one, can possibly force him to answer a direct question. As long as you can use the written forum, you can avoid the very essence of debate, the heart of debate, which is answering direct questions that test your position for consistency. Armstrong knows he is simply constitutionally incapable of the task, but he refuses to admit it, opting instead for this kind of rhetoric.
He's simply flat-out scared to do so. He wants no part of a double cross-ex format because his whole reputation is on the line and he would do very poorly.
On Pots and Kettles
05/06/2007 - James WhiteI noted in the previous article that since I dared to ask some fair, obvious questions of a blog post titled, "James White annoys me to no end," I had people coming down on me for "picking" on a young college student. How dare I ask them to think straight and defend their accusations against me! That blog article became the grounds for the unhinged to start posting their shots at me (like Dave Armstrong).
So, this afternoon the young blogger replied. And, instantly, she's a hero! Check out the comments for yourself. Now, consider the choice I now face: if I respond (which I intended to do, simply because the reply provides a basis for discussing the common misconceptions of this young person, errors shared by many others), I will be attacked for so doing. "Look how mean he is!" If I do not, "See, he ran away, refuted again!" Such is the kind of thinking seen daily on the Roman Catholic blogs and web boards of our culture.
Headed to Chicago and Moody Bible Institute
09/19/2005 - James WhiteI am truly looking forward to the next few days as I travel with my father up to Chicago to speak at the Moody Bible Institute. My dad graduated from Moody in 1953, but has never been back, so this will be his first visit in 52 years! I am going out on a limb and predicting "a few things have changed." I will be speaking in two chapel services and in some classes, and getting to spend some time with the students. As soon as I was invited to come I arranged to bring my father along, for I knew he would want to visit again, and what better way to return to Moody than to get to hear your son speak in the chapel services? I also had Angel put together one of his world-famous (just ask Dave Armstrong) caricatures of me and my dad for the trip to Chicago. So I'm afraid my blog will become as quiet as Eric Nielsen's is all the time (inside joke) for the next few days, unless, of course, something happens while I'm away and I go running around downtown Chicago looking for wi-fi hot spots! Also, we might try to sneak a DL in on Friday, all depending on schedules. We'll try to get an announcement up early enough to let you know.
As Simply as I Can Put It
08/03/2007 - James WhiteRecently Dave Armstrong has been, once again, melting down. Our favorite dendrophilic apologist (my thanks to TQuid for that wonderful term, and please note, "dendrophilic apologist" is abbreviated "da," so, it is doubly fitting) has, of late, become rather free in his insults, racking up an impressive list of ad-hominem commentary, which puts his oft-proclaimed ecumenical kindness in a bit of a bad light. But those of us who have known Armstrong for years are hardly surprised. If you address him, and begin to examine his claims, he responds either in this fashion, or, with the "I'm so hurt, I will never talk to you, or about you, again" ploy, all of which is designed to allow him to avoid having to do serious research and argumentation. His recent use of Peter's addressing the body of a dead girl and commanding her to rise (Acts 9:40) as defense for communication with the dead is just the most recent example of the kind of "apologetic" material he produces.
In any case, Armstrong is so impressed with his own standing that he seems to think he can make up definitions for words as he goes along. It has been his practice for some time to arbitrarily define the phrase "anti-Catholic" so that he can use it of others but, due to a modern reading of Roman doctrine so as to allow for "separated brethren" to be called "Christians" while still anathematizing their theology, he can't be called an anti-Protestant. So, he arbitrarily defines the phrase so that since I deny Rome's gospel saves, I am an anti-Catholic, but since he can affirm, in some inconsistent and nebulous fashion, that I am a "Christian," then he is not an anti-Protestant.
Aside from the less than impressive coherence of such arbitrary definitions, Mr. Armstrong has, once again, in his zeal, and in his anger, missed the point. Let me see if I can clarify it, if not for him ("ears to hear"), at least for someone else.
There are anti-Catholics in the world. That is, their entire "ministry," their entire theology, is defined by their negative reaction to Catholicism. In the same way, there are anti-Mormons, anti-Jehovah's Witnesses, anti-Muslims, anti-Hindus, etc. and etc. Such folks are rarely stable in their faith, and are rarely deeply involved in the worship and service of the church, either. Most are ex-members of the groups that continue to define their lives. I've met them. We all have. And, may I add, there are anti-Protestants as well. There are Roman Catholics who are so focused upon denouncing non-Catholic theology and perspectives that they clearly can be identified with this phrase.
Now, I am a Protestant apologist. As the term Protestant is so very widely defined today, I prefer a little more specificity: I am a Reformed Baptist apologist. What I do I do not because I am focused upon any one group, but because I am focused positively upon my own profession of faith, and, I consistently defend that positive profession against those who deny its truthfulness. I am an elder, involved in the regular ministry of the church and the teaching of the Word. I have written numerous books on a wide variety of topics. I have defended Christianity in debate against Muslims and atheists; I have defended the Trinity against Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Oneness Pentecostals. I have taught, in formal seminary settings, such courses as Systematic Theology, Christology, Philosophy of Religion, Church History, Greek, Hebrew, special studies in Patristics, and numerous apologetics classes. Anyone who would insinuate that my life, my ministry, my writing, my entire ministry, is somehow defined by a negative stance toward a particular religion, or by Roman Catholicism in particular, is engaging in clear and gross falsehood.
Further, to be consistent, anyone who would insist upon calling me an "anti-Catholic" would have to likewise refer to me as an anti-Mormon, anti-Jehovah's Witness, anti-Muslim, anti-unitarian, anti-fill-in-the-rest. But who does this? And even if someone were to do so, would the effort not prove, by its ridiculous nature, that it would be far more logical to identify such a person positively by what motivates them and defines their teachings and ministry?
So, just as I refer to Roman Catholic apologists, Mormon apologists, Islamic apologists, etc., the honest person will refer to me as a Reformed Baptist apologist. As soon as you hear a person, or group, doing the "let's define our critics by our own theology" routine, you need to consider that they may well be using such language not to aid in understanding, but to diminish it through poisoning the well, prejudicing the thinking of especially their own supporters and followers. That is what Catholic Answers is up to. That is what Dave Armstrong is up to. And this activity says much about their motivations and the truthfulness of their teachings.
Friday Morning Odds and Ends
07/14/2006 - James WhiteWatching the news these days reminds me of how frightening it must be to not know God has a purpose He is working out in this world. The Mideast remains a mess, and, of course, will remain a mess until either the Lord returns or He grants repentance to a very large group of people. There is only one hope for that part of the world, and it is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Next, did you know it is hot in Phoenix, Arizona. Predictions as high as 116 today. 122 is the all-time high, however---that is a little deceiving. They moved the thermometer at Sky Harbor after that record was reached June 26, 1990 (I remember it well), and most of us feel the new location reads about 3 degrees lower than it used to. Next, it is a lot more humid in Phoenix than it was 16 years ago. When it hit 122 in 1990 the humidity was almost non-existent. Not anymore! So 116 with four or five times the humidity of the 122 sure feels warmer than the 122 did. I rode South Mountain yesterday morning, and the starting temperature long before sunrise was 89. For the next two months I'll be doing more Spinervals (cycling video workouts that are really great) and rowing, both inside.
Nothing new on the Caner front. No response to the last e-mail I sent. Stephen Atkins up in Canada did get an e-mail response from Ergun that he posted on his blog that you might find interesting. Caner plays the Servetus card. Of course, he doesn't contextualize anything (nothing unusual about that). I wonder if he'd likewise admit his soteriology is foundationally more similar to Rome's than to the Reformers? His views of the decree of God, the will of man, and the nature of grace, are all far closer to Rome than they are to Geneva. Anyway, Ergun keeps trying to project the "We are fearless, the Calvinists are afraid" scenario. It is almost humorous in light of the fact that he has ignored, repeatedly, my challenge to him to go one-on-one in front of each of his classes at Liberty with nothing in our hands but the Bible. In fact, I'd challenge him to do that with nothing but a Greek text. I'd be overjoyed at the opportunity. Does that sound like I'm afraid? And why does he ignore this every time I raise the challenge? Seems he is hoping his "fans" won't be reading "the other side."
Finally, I just did a search on my blog. Mike Kwiatkowski addressed some comments by Dave Armstrong back in June of 2005, and aside from one passing mention of his name regarding Angelz' cartoons in September of last year, I haven't said a word about the man personally for over a year. I had removed his blog from my RSS feed long, long ago, mainly after I had invested the time to go through his claims in his book, document their errors, and challenge him to provide exegetical replies. His response? Well, a bit like putting a wax candle on your dashboard in Phoenix today: total melt-down. Complete capitulation. "I won't talk to anti-Catholics anymore!" Well, I knew that was all just a cover to allow him to hide long enough for the storm to pass, and that he'd be back. Guess what? Yeah, no big surprise. James Swan informs me ol' Dave is strutting about the Internet once again, sporting an ego the size of Mount Rushmore. This is the same Dave Armstrong who will not debate in person; the same one who melted into a puddle of goo when challenged in writing to defend his own published "exegesis." You truly have to wonder after a while, especially when the documentation of these things is still on line (just do a search on "Armstrong" down in the search box). How utterly self-deceived does a person have to be to have tucked tail and run in the face of serious challenge, and then, eighteen months later, has the temerity to write of me, "a man who has eventually (usually quite quickly) fled from every so-called debate he and I have ever engaged in?" What color is the sky in his world, anyway? That's just downright frightening. I think it is time to let Angelz' handiwork speak one more time.
A Few Quick Notes
04/23/2005 - James WhiteBack from Oklahoma City. Saw the memorial downtown and was quite moved! Very, very well planned and laid out. The museum was very well made, too. Can't believe that was a full decade ago now. My how the world has changed.
I may hold off commenting more on the Wilkin debate till the DL on Tuesday. It is just hard to describe. Maybe some of the folks who were there will call in and share their views. The number of straw men that were left smoldering in the room almost set a new record. What was truly amazing is that while I briefly quoted, directly, with citation of page numbers, from Wilkin's book, he chose to quote snippets from debates, or snippets from the web, but not from my published, formal works! As a result, he questioned my understanding and commitment to the doctrine of imputation, if you can possibly believe that! Since Dr. Wilkin chose to go after me, as an individual theologian, it would have been nice if he had actually bothered to read one, maybe two, of my published works? Simple honesty, let alone respect for the audience, would seem to demand that. I do intend to go over his accusation of "eisegesis" at John 6:44---the facts are so easily documentable that it is he who is engaging in it. But we will leave that for the DL.
Finally, I hope to comment soon on this article. It is truly amazing to me that a United States Senator would be so crass, and so out of line, as to do what Salazar has done. But it sure does make one think---if this is one of the 100 most powerful men in our nation, and he has power over "law" (since the Constitution is really an irrelevant document any longer, thanks to the run-away judiciary and their willing accomplices in the Congress), and he considers the theological conclusion that Rome is a false church something to "repudiate," how long till such truth-speak is defined as hate-speech by these same men?
And finally, Dave Armstrong saw my note on Mary stains, and has fulfilled my wildest dreams by telling his fellow Catholics to get a grip (a little paraphrase there). Thank you Mr. Armstrong. Now, if you could be so kind as to go down to Chicago and try that out in front of all those folks lighting candles, I'd like to see their reaction. Or, how about cleaning the stain off the wall while explaining that? Yes, that would be interesting. But maybe Armstrong will comment on this amazing comment cited by Jimmy Akin about the same "stains"?
"You probably caught that 'Our Lady of the Underpass' story. I admit I tend to roll my eyes when people see the Blessed Virgin in pieces of toast and parking garage walls. However, lately I've been smiling at the idea of the Child Jesus scribbling pictures of Mommy all over -- just because he can, you know?"Um...yeah, wow. OK.
The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part II)
01/24/2005 - James WhiteIn the previous installment of this series I provided an introduction and the comments I made in The Roman Catholic Controversy regarding the use of Matthew 23:1-3 by Roman Catholic apologists. Let's make sure we understand what is required of the Roman Catholic apologist in order to substantiate their claims. First, there needs to be an identifiable oral tradition regarding "Moses' Seat" that is passed down outside of Scripture. This tradition must grant to the scribes and Pharisees some kind of authority that is not given in Scripture itself, and Jesus must be making reference to this tradition, and the resultant authority, and binding His followers thereto. Is that what is going on in Matthew 23? Let's see if Dave Armstrong can provide a positive defense or, will he do what most of the rest of his compatriots do: hope that an attack upon the text will be sufficient to confuse their followers into thinking they have actually provided a meaningful defense of their claims. Armstrong begins:
Jesus teaches that the scribes and Pharisees have a legitimate, binding authority, based on Moses' seat, which phrase (or idea) cannot be found anywhere in the Old Testament. It is found in the (originally oral) Mishna, where a sort of teaching succession from Moses on down is taught. Thus, apostolic succession, whereby the Catholic Church, in its priests and bishops and popes, claims to be merely the custodian of an inherited apostolic Tradition, is also prefigured by Jewish oral tradition, as approved (at least partially) by Jesus himself....
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Deacons, Elders, Armstrong, and...Luther
06/18/2007 - James SwanCatholic apologist Dave Armstrong has been attempting to justify his recent blunder in his new book, The One Minute Apologist. Recall, Dave presented Protestants as holding "...bishops, elders, and deacons are all synonymous terms for the same office." If this were simply one of his blog entries or web pages, it wouldn't be that big of deal for him. He would simply change his blatant error (If you visit DA's blog, you know his entries can appear, disappear, or change hour to hour). Problem solved. Unfortunately for him, the error is in a published book. He will have to wait for his second edition to fix it. Thus, we've been subjected to long blog entries, as Dave tries to put forth anything possible to smooth over his error.
Armstrong has dug up a Martin Luther quote to justify his error: "According to the New Testament Scriptures better names [for priests] would be ministers, deacons, bishops, stewards, presbyters . . ." In other words, Luther equivocated all these terms to mean the same thing. Armstrong then posits:
"It follows (by White's peculiar "reasoning") that Martin Luther was either: 1) exceptionally ignorant, as White claims I am, 2) a wacko on the fringe of Protestantism, leading a tiny sect, or 3) not a Protestant. 4) not a theologian (etc.,etc.). Take your pick (or throw out White's ludicrous argument) . ."
Well, before we thank Mr. Armstrong for such an invincible argument, perhaps we should make sure Luther holds what Armstrong says he does. If he doesn't, then certain conclusions follow as to the value of Dave's research. Before we delve into the Luther quote Armstrong utilized, let's take a quick survey of Luther's writings.
Sometime between 1527 and 1528, Luther lectured on 1 Timothy. This Biblical book sets forth detailed information about elders and deacons. Hence, whatever Luther says here specifically has importance as to his view. When one reads through the lectures, it is not simply a passing comment from Luther on elders and deacons. Rather, one finds long discussions as to what these offices mean. Luther clearly distinguishes between the office of elder and deacon:
"He must be above reproach. This is the first quality he must have. The man who wants to investigate, correct, and teach others should be above reproach." [LW 28:283]
"An apt teacher. Does this mean he should be trained at the university? He should be eager to teach and qualified to teach. Better yet, he should teach carefully." [LW 28:285]
"He teaches what they must learn. At the same time he instructs them in doctrine. Then he refutes those who contradict." (Titus 1:9). [LW 28: 285]
"We have heard that a bishop ought to have this gift, that he teach well and cheerfully. This is the chief responsibility and duty of the bishop: the ministry of the Word, even though our people regard religion most cheaply."[LW 28:285].
"Deacons were men who also preached occasionally. We read in Acts 6:16 that they chose seven men in the church to be in charge of providing for the poor and the widows. Those deacons also at times preached, as did Stephen, and they were admitted to other duties of the church, although their principal responsibility was to care for the poor and the widows." [LW 28:295]
"There ought to be deacons for the church men who should be of service to the bishop and at his recommendations have control in the church in external matters." [LW 28:295]
"You see, the deacon takes care of the people and is the bishop's steward." [LW 28: 297]
"Then let them serve as deacons. He imposes neither the office of teaching nor the qualifications of the bishop on deacons. Instead he gives them the responsibilities for supplies or financing. They should be serious, not double-tongued. They should not sow disharmony within the church. They should have a talent for bringing harmony, for increasing concord, peace, and the reputation of the bishop. They should not be drinkers but be attentive to their business." [LW 28:298]
"You have heard what sort of men Paul wants set up in the church. The rest is the promise which he connects to this: For those who serve well, etc.This promise which the deacons have can be taken generally to refer to bishops as well as to deacons. Paul strengthens them in this way that each is established in his own service. Yet he seems to be speaking especially about deacons, and he seems to be encouraging them. To be sure, the sense is: deacons belong to a lower order; inequality generally causes discord; and, since the lesser envy the greater, they become double-tongued. Paul now wants to interject this promise and make them content with their lot. He says in substance: Even if you do not have duties as solemn as bishops, yet you should be content with your rank. Before God you will not be lower than bishops, as if bishops were better people." [LW 28:299]
"The deacon wants to be the bishop: 'I know as much as he does, and I can preach as well as he.' That's the way they act today too. That rivalry Paul forbids everywhere. Let us have no self-conceit,Gal. 5:26. Let us not rival each other except in good. In this way, then, he now comforts deacons and wants to make them content, etc. Let each serve faithfully in his own vocation. If someone else has a loftier situation, let him not be jealous or despise his own lot. You should be careful that you serve well. [LW 28:300].
"If deacons do not seem to have so important a position, they nonetheless have the highest position in reliance on and faith in Christ. It is enough that they remain in faith toward Christ. That deacon can be free if he knows that his work pleases Christ and that his diaconate is as pleasing to Christ as is a bishop in his bishopric. Therefore he should comfort them that they may minister willingly and well and not be jealous. If some who are jealous do this because they consider that they have a gift of eloquence and good appearance, they have no confidence in pastors who do not have the same blessings. This is to ask for an official position from the world and the flesh. Give thanks! You can be as rich in Christ as a bishop.What is it to me that I do not have the same function?" [LW 28:301].
So what of Armstrong's Luther quote? The quote is from the 1523 treatise, Concerning The Ministry. The treatise was written for the emerging church of the Reformation. These early churches found themselves without pastors or supervision, so Luther was compelled to address this situation. The editors of Luthers Works explain, "Lacking episcopal supervision, the parishes were to be supervised by superintendents who would exercise the essential functions of a bishop, namely, to see to it that the Word was preached and the sacraments administered, the real work of the church" [LW 40, introduction].
Luther moves quickly to address the Roman Catholic priesthood and assert that it is invalid. Luther strongly chastises those who call themselves priests. He strongly condemns them, saying even their titles and their functions are unbiblical. He states, "On this account I think it follows that we neither can nor ought to give the name priest to those who are in charge of Word and sacrament among the people. The reason they have been called priests is either because of the custom of heathen people or as a vestige of the Jewish nation. The result is greatly injurious to the church." [LW 40:34]. Well, if the term priest is not to be used, what do we call those who run the church? Luther says, "According to the New Testament Scriptures better names would be ministers, deacons, bishops, stewards, presbyters (a name often used and indicating the older members)" [LW 40:34]. Luther is stating the priesthood (its role, powers, functions, etc), is not valid. Whatever office priests think they are holding, they are in severe Biblical error. Those who are in charge of the church are ministers, deacons, bishops, stewards, presbyters. Luther is not equivocating these terms. He is stating the papacy and its priesthood are not Biblical.
Luther instructs these new churches to pray for those whom will come forward to leadership roles in the church. He then states,
"When you have so prayed, have no doubt that he to whom you have prayed is faithful and will give what you ask, opening to him who knocks and granting to him who seeks [Matt. 7:8]. Thus you may be assured that you are not pushing this matter, but being pushed in it. Then call and come together freely, as many as have been touched in heart by God to think and judge as you do. Proceed in the name of the Lord to elect one or more whom you desire, and who appear to be worthy and able. Then let those who are leaders among you lay hands upon them, and certify and commend them to the people and the church or community. In this way let them become your bishops, ministers, or pastors. Amen. The qualifications of those to be elected are fully described by Paul, in Tit. 1[:6ff.], and I Tim. 3[:2ff.]" [LW 40:40].
If you've read my blog or any of my Luther papers, I have stated often that Dave Armstrong has trouble with Luther. The quote he uses once again proves he does not carefully consider his information before hitting "publish" on his blog. What do I think will happen? I think Dave will probably edit his use of Luther in this instance, or blame the Lutheran Scholar C.F.W Walther. Dave's blog is often now you see it, now you don't. I have demonstrated once again, Dave Armstrong struggles with context. In this instance, he has Luther's Works Volume 40, so there is no excuse.
The Catholic Verses: Luke 1:28 (Part I)
01/01/2005 - James WhiteWe know, from examining Dave Armstrong's The Catholic Verses that he has one of my books, and has looked at a portion of it, though, seemingly, not all of it (even regarding the passages that are directly relevant to his own claims and work, which I am not alone in finding quite odd). And we know that at least a few times he chooses to try to take on my position directly (like on Matthew 23). But for many Protestants, the greatest example of Rome's misuse of Scripture, and the greatest evidence that, in fact, Rome does not bow to "Scripture and tradition," is found in the complex of dogmas and teachings she promulgates on the subject of the blessed mother of Jesus, Mary. And so since we have found it difficult to get Mr. Armstrong to offer us exegesis that we can really "sink our teeth into" so to speak, we turn now to the section on Luke 1:28, one of the "95 Verses" that allegedly confound Protestants, pp. 181-190, one of the lengthiest sections in the entire work.
Now, it is only fair to note that Armstrong concludes this section by stating,
Most Protestant thinkers and opponents of Catholic doctrine would, I think, assume that the Immaculate Conception could easily be disproven from Scripture. But from an analysis of the verses cited, we see that, although it cannot be absolutely proven from Scripture alone, it cannot be ruled out on the basis of Scripture, either. What is more, a solid deductive and exegetical basis for belief in Mary's sinlessness, and thus her Immaculate Conception, can be drawn from Scripture alone. (p. 190)...
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The New Catholic (Right and Wrong) Answer Bible, Update
04/14/2009 - James Swan
A few days ago I mentioned some of the problems with the notes found in The New Catholic Answer Bible. Recall, the author, Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong, referred to them as "the notoriously liberal notes for the NAB," written by "heterodox, liberal dissidents." Because of these notes, I felt it would be fitting to rename his book, "The New Catholic Right and Wrong Answer Bible."
Armstrong claims his insert notes are orthodox and Catholic, while the detailed verse footnotes put in by Catholic scholars are heterodox and untrustworthy. Mr. Armstrong has given further clarification: Most Catholics who bought The New Catholic Answer Bible don't read the footnotes. Dave says, "So there are some theologically liberal errors to be found in some of the notes; big wow. That's not why readers have (and buy) the Bible in the first place. Most probably don't even read the footnotes. They want the apologetic notes."
I guess I hit the target again. When Catholics start posting threads like this at the Catholic Answers forums, it warms my heart:
Can I have some examples of why the NAB's footnotes are so bad?
Answer 1: "They are detrimental to Catholic Teaching, inclusive language in almost everyone of them and for the fact that not just Catholics, but Protestants translated it as well."
Answer 2: "They are not bad. They are very helpful. They are compatible with mainstream Catholic theology. If you don't like them that is fine, but I don't think it would be the best use of your time to pursue invalidating them."
Well, these Roman Catholics seemed to be concerned about the notes. Well, perhaps you're the type who doesn't want to get caught up in this tedious debate. You'll buy The New Catholic Answer Bible and ignore the notes. At least you'll have Dave's inserts and Biblical text.... or do you? Do you have a Biblical text you can trust? Ben Douglass, a Roman Catholic, stops by my blog now and then. He left a link to an article he wrote on the New American Bible, which is the biblical text used by Armstrong's New Catholic Answer Bible: Wolf in Calfskin: The Rampant Liberalism of the NAB. Douglass points out:
J'accuse: the NAB, in many places, daringly redacts, rearranges, or otherwise mistranslates the sacred text, and it does so in the service of the modernist critical hermeneutic which is revealed in its "perverse" introductions and commentary. These comments repeatedly contradict or call into question the Catholic dogma of the plenary inspiration and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, as well as raising grave doubts about the Catholic dogmas of Christology and Mariology. The NAB refuses Scripture the submission which is due to it according to the Catholic saints: "Holy Scripture is in such sort the rule of the Christian faith that we are obliged by every kind of obligation to believe most exactly all that it contains, and not to believe anything which may be ever so little contrary to it." Indeed, it freely confesses that Scripture is wrong in places and freely disagrees. The NAB charges the Bible with contradiction, concerning which Oecumenius may be quoted as representative of the faith of the whole world: "For nothing could be contradictory in the mouth of the one and the same Spirit." Yet more, it seems that the NAB would have our Lord in ignorance and our Lady in doubt of her faith, which can only eventuate in Catholic readers doubting theirs. This Bible is a danger to the faith of Catholics; it is a near occasion for sin.
For those of you considering a purchase of the NCAB, I suggest reading Ben's essay. It appears, you not only have corrupted notes to deal with, but a corrupted translation as well. This leaves you with purchasing the NCAB for only one reason: DA's mystifying "inserts." Now, of course, the information DA provides in these inserts is probably already on his website somewhere for free. But I guess, if you want to plop down twenty bucks for an untrustworthy Biblical text, with notes putting forth "some theologically liberal errors," go right ahead.
Why though would you buy a Bible and not be able to actually use and trust it? Perhaps the right thing for DA to do at this point would be to gather up his mystifying notes, and print them separately in a small volume. The printing of the NCAB should stop, and a disclaimer should be put forth, that the NCAB has theological poison in it harmful to Roman Catholics. Will DA do this? I doubt it. He's more interested in documenting "Why Folks Are Buying the Bestselling New Catholic Answer Bible." He's more interested in praise for his work. Sure a few people might be confused by liberal wrong notes, and a corrupt translation of the Bible... but so what? In every great work, a few must be sacrificed, right?
If it were me adding notes to a Bible and selling that Bible, I would tremble before the Lord at such an endeavor. I could not in good conscience sell a book that actually corrupted God's word and say of it "The New Catholic Answer Bible is your faith's foundation in Holy Scripture and Catechesis." Then I would admit that I'm not worthy to sell God's word with any of my notes, and that task should be left for those whom God has called to be Biblical scholars, not a guy who simply claims to be an apologist. How can Armstrong add stuff to a Bible, collect cash from it, when he doesn't know Hebrew and Greek? That is arrogance. Why would someone knowingly sell a book containing blatant truth and error at the same time? Mr. Armstrong is a theologian of glory. It's all about the glory of DA.'
Recall, according to Mr. Armstrong I have the following attributes: "clueless, ignorant, dense, know-nothing, slanderer, nit wit, anti-Catholic imbecile desperate for attention, liar, and spewer of idiotic nonsense."I would rather be all these things than be the person knowingly selling a corrupt translation of the Bible with liberal notes, claiming the product is something a person should own. A theologian of glory would sell such a product, a theologian of the cross would rather starve.
08/25/2007 - James WhiteJimmy Akin has added some new rules for posting on his blog:
23. The following terms are pejorative and their use as actual descriptors (as opposed, for example, to quoting someone else's use of them for purposes of critique) constitutes rudeness: "Romanist," "Romish," "Roman" (when used to mean or as a substitute for "Catholic"), "Roman Church" (when used to mean the entire Catholic Church, as opposed to the Roman church sui iuris that exists within the Catholic Church), "Papist," Papistic," "Papistical," "Popish," and any cognate terms based on the terms "Roman" or "Pope."
24. It constitutes rudeness to make inflammatory assertions that one is not prepared to back up by anything more than hearsay (e.g., "Mother Theresa prayed to Hindu idols. I know because my friend said so.").
Now, of course, Jimmy Akin can do whatever he wants on his own blog. He can get his followers all riled up and let them blather on about "anti-Catholics" and use every pejorative on the planet, and that's OK. It's his blog. If he wants to prove to all he operates on a double standard, that's his right. The Internet is still free. I would like to think my post earlier today had something to do with this, but I can't be sure, and actually have a feeling it didn't. But in any case, don't be fooled: this isn't about keeping conversation civil, since obviously, as the nearly 800 posts on his hit-piece on me illustrated, he is more than happy to have as much uncivil material as possible in his comboxes, as long as it promotes Rome. And what religion is it that promotes Rome and uses double-standards in so doing? Yes, that's right. Romanism.
I have thought about commenting on the Mother Theresa discussion (i.e., her letters revealing a fundamental lack of conviction of God's existence, her standing with God, etc.), but I am currently trying to move my attention more fully to the tasks at hand (specifically, the upcoming conference and debate), and I can't imagine the tidal wave of incoherent vitriol that even commenting on the topic would launch my direction. I've had enough of that for a while, at least coming from the city set on seven hills and her mob-like followers. (BTW, for those few Roman Catholics who do not behave as the majority, I only have to ask---why don't you police your own people? Why don't I see you decrying your mob-like folks like I decry the folks who claim to be on my side?)
Speaking of incoherent vitriol...Dave Armstrong has returned to blogging. I just happened to see a new article on his site. I truly think Armstrong is headed for a full-on meltdown soon, to be honest. The level of "shrill" is peaking. In any case, the article started, "David T. King: anti-Catholic Reformed Baptist pastor...." Poor Dave. He can't even start an article with accuracy. It is well known that David King is a Presbyterian minister, not a Reformed Baptist. Now, that is not for my not trying! We'd love to have David...but alas, my brother remains, as Bill Shishko, a Presbyterian. Anyone reading the response brother David wrote to Armstrong will once again see that Armstrong is helpless when it comes to being refuted. All he can do is throw a fit and grow more shrill, which is why I have a feeling we may see a complete melt-down (again--how many has DA exhibited over the years?) in the not too distant future.
While I was typing this little article up a discussion has been taking place in my chat channel about high-level scandal in the TBN superstar/megachurch world--that same circle that bears so little resemblance to anything I could remotely identify as the Christian faith. Seems Paula and Randy White are getting a divorce, and "prophetess" Juanita Bynum is going through something similar. Now, I hate divorce, and it is sad to see these things, but if you read those articles, you will notice something. Massive, massive, massive amounts of money. Millions. Mercedes Benz and mansions and jets and the whole Benny Hinn "fleece the sheep while the fleecing is good" experience. So it is hardly surprising, is it? The sad thing is this: divorce happens. Sin happens. But especially in the White situation, it doesn't look like anyone cares in the slightest, as all the "big shots" are just going right on, ignoring the carnage they are leaving behind. Oh my.
Dave Armstrong's Short Response
02/20/2008 - James WhiteYesterday I reviewed some clips from an interview done by Dave Armstrong. I noted some of his amazing statements, and in particular, I found quite humorous his very inflated sense of importance in basically vanquishing the entire Protestant world from the field of battle. No one can respond to Dave Armstrong! Well, I knew Dave would respond, and respond he did. But he did so in typical Armstrongian fashion:
Be sure to catch Bishop James White's mocking, ridiculous "commentary" on this very interview, on his Dividing Line webcast (2-19-08). It's quite entertaining. I'll give White that much. He even features (Rush Limbaugh-like) a portion of a Three Dog Night song. Guess which one?! Oh, and then (filled with ingenious satirical ideas) White plays a Billy Joel song that starts with "h". Just think of an accusation that anti-Catholics almost always make against Catholics (that I do not reciprocate). Whew . . . The good bishop ended his "rebuttal" with a flourish:But, as all of us who know Armstrong realize, there is no way he is going to limit himself to such a brief reply. His MO is to tell you on his blog that he going to take the "high road" and ignore such things, but, then, all you have to do is go to the combox, and you will find the real replies. And verily and forsooth, that's what we have:
I'm certain that I will see, within the next two days, a long blog article about how terrible and horrible and everything else that I am . . .Sorry to disappoint you, Your Eminence, and to wreck your prophetic prowess, but I just ain't interested anymore in dealing with fools and intellectual cowards who consistently refuse to defend their positions when challenged in writing again and again. This is strictly humorous stuff, no more, and so I am glad to post it for my readers to listen to if they're in the mood for a good laugh. We all need comic diversion now and then
My own record with White is abundantly clear. Anyone can examine it for themselves. The man has been running, evading, mocking, and making a fool of himself for over twelve years.
I don't have time anymore for his nonsense. I've done my duty as an apologist by refuting his facile inanities off and on all those years. Many many papers are posted, and he has never once sustained an intelligent discourse with me without fleeing for the hills long before we actually accomplished anything or descending into imbecilic mockery and insult.
Most critiques I make of his arguments are completely ignored. I've documented this many times. No need to do it again now.
I suggest that he stick to liberals, KJV-only nuts, Mormons, and Muslims, where he does good and very helpful apologetics, and I link to that work and even recommend it. But Catholicism? Nuh-uh. He has shown himself to be in massive error and unwilling to be corrected on anything, time and again.
I never denied that some Protestants are attempting to respond to Catholics. I made it very clear that I was generalizing and that there are exceptions. One wearies of reiterating the obvious and having to explain what was already made quite clear in the interview itself.
But the overall trend is definitely toward dismissing and mocking rather than engaging Catholic apologetics. I've documented this many times, too. I speak from experience, as a veteran of over 400 written debates, and constant apologetic work on the Internet for now 12 years and running (and no end in sight). Many of our Protestant opponents come right out and say this. It's not even speculation. Look at what they say and what they do.
Dave Armstrong | Homepage | 02.20.08 - 3:36 pm | #
I should add that there is also a distinction between writing something about Catholics as a potshot and being willing to actually interact with them in a back-and-forth fashion (i.e., serious intellectual discussion, where someone is actually challenged and has to defend their POV). I was referring more so (though not totally) to the latter.Seems like the grand total there was not overly large, in DA terms: only 1300 words! Excuse me while I "flee" and "run" from DA's overwhelming argumentation. And in my absence, you might search the blog for the name "Armstrong" and see for yourself that DA lives in a fantasy world all his own.
It was simply an informal, off the cuff interview. I had no preparation (other than reading the salvation sections of my new book). I didn't know specifically what I was gonna be asked. This is what White loves to attack, because he knows full well that it isn't remotely as precise and prepared as any writing that I do. So he can pick at things and take them out of context. He is a master at that, but it is sophistry.
White himself will write plenty about Catholics, assuredly (filled with personal attacks, as with his recent spate of hit pieces against Steve Ray), but as soon as one of these Catholics responds at length, he will ignore it or mock and dismiss.
That is what I mean. Kevin Johnson is another sterling example of that. He writes plenty about Catholics, but if a Catholic dares to try to interact with him and reason with him and show him where he is in error, it is all mockery and ridicule. And of course I was banned from his site two or three years ago. I guess I asked too many difficult questions.
I was banned from White's chat room after a few appearances recently for no reason other than that I was a wicked Catholic (I was getting along fine with the people who were actually there, except for David T. King: the rudest Christian I have ever met on the Internet).
Because of that I challenged White and his sidekick James Swan to a live chat debate. They both turned me down. I later challenged four other anti-Catholics to the same debate and they all replied similarly (most with insults). I had done the same with another anti-Catholic before that (Matt Slick). That made it seven straight refusals to do a simple chat about the definition of "Christian." Very basic stuff. But these guys are all petrified of discussing it with me "live", with everyone watching.
That doesn't sound like a willingness to interact with Catholics to me: at least not with this Catholic . . . Since the same people, almost to a man, say repeatedly how stupid and dumb and clueless I am, one wonders why they are so reluctant to jump at this golden opportunity to prove that claim to everyone. But I proved that no one was willing to do so. It's all on the record now. That was the last straw for me. Apart from the Luther quote thing that I got into heavily, because I wanted to defend my friend Steve Ray, I decided at that point that these clowns were not worth any more of my time.
White used to allow Catholics in his chat room, and engage in lengthy exchanges with them (several of which are still posted on his site). But I guess he now thinks it is better to ban them. He used to have Catholics in a discussion list about sola Scriptura, that he actually invited me to, way back in 1996, before I even had a website yet. He doesn't do stuff like that anymore.
I can also cite many examples of folks who used to vigorously debate actual Catholic human beings and no longer do. Jason Engwer is one. Eric Svendsen is another. He does it occasionally, but nothing like before.
I've tried to engage Steve Hays, who is intelligent enough, to a sensible exchange, but it is all mockery and foolishness and hee-hawing among his adoring sycophants. Oh well. I did try.
There was another guy who called himself "the Pedantic Protestant" who is now off the Internet, far as I can tell.
There are a number of other nicer Protestants, who weren't anti-Catholics, whom I very much enjoyed dialoguing with in the past (I have two in particular, in mind), but who decided to basically cease dialoguing with Catholics on the usual topics that divide us.
There is Josh Strodtbeck: another sharp tack who is constantly running down the Catholic Church and Catholics; but try to have a serious dialogue with him? Impossible. It's all mockery and ludicrosity. At least with me. And I don't see him doing so with any other Catholic, either. But he is a master of the quick insult and the propagandistic caricature of what he imagines Catholicism to be.
That provides several concrete examples of what I was referring to.
Dave Armstrong | Homepage | 02.20.08 - 4:20 pm | #
An Open Invitation
01/06/2005 - James WhiteThe RC pep rally and general back-slapping rave going on at DA's blog has continued unabated for a few days now, though I think eventually even these folks will get tired of repeating the same mantras over and over again. "Wow, that James White, we sure have refuted him, haven't we!" "Yeah, sure did! Wow, he's as dumb as a bag of hammers!" etc. and etc. At the moment, the file I've created saving the comments is 65 pages long. And if there are two paragraphs that can be taken seriously, I'd be surprised.
Most of the comments are quite humorous. But a repeated theme, one poured out regularly by the likes of "Patrick," Jim Scott (read only if you are wearing asbestos) and Jonathan Prejean is that in point of fact, I have not been dealing with Armstrong's work fairly or accurately, and more importantly, that others have "refuted me." Even little Apolonio chimed in, sorta like, "Yeah, me too, me too!" We even had a Muslim come on and join the fun, fellow by the name of Josh Wilcox. Not an overly pleasant fellow, I must say. I'm looking forward to his debate with Sam Shamoun. :-) ...
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The Catholic Verses: 91 Reduced to 87 (Part II)
12/31/2004 - James WhiteOnce again, in citing Phil. 3:10 and Rom. 8:17, Armstrong does not consider it necessary to actually handle the verses, establish context, meaning, anything exegetical. They are simply cited, and then the assumption is made that Protestants have no place in their theology for "suffering." And his source for this (if you happen to be widely read in meaningful Protestant writing you are probably wondering, since you have read lots about suffering and its role in conforming us to the image of Christ) is...himself! "He [Paul in Romans 8] is going along, talking like a good 'born again,' sanctified, 'filled with the Holy Ghost" Evengelical Protestant, and then suddenly (unless one ignores this part, as I did in my Protestant days) he becomes a morbid, masochistic, crucific-clutching Catholic and takes away everyone's fun and peaches and cream: '...if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.'" Evidently, Armstrong's audience does not include serious minded Protestants, for such writing immediately informs one that Mr. Armstrong's "Protestant" experience was anything but serious.
Armstrong writes, "There is no need to consult commentaries at this point, for our purposes." Well, even if consulting secondary sources without providing primary exegesis would be sufficient, the point is that Armstrong has no concept of the depth of writing from non-Catholic sources on the meaning and purpose of suffering; further, the Roman Catholic use of the term, especially in reference to penance, would require his proving that in the context of writing to the churches at Rome and Philippi Paul intended to communicate, through the term "suffering," the kind of thing Armstrong has in mind as a Roman Catholic, and once again, he does not even try to make this connection. It is simply assumed. ...
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For the Serious Minded
03/29/2007 - James WhiteWhen I checked on the link I have used a number of times recently for my Nicea article in the CRI Journal of July/August, 1997, I discovered it had gone dead. So I contacted CRI, and they contacted their webfolks who are busy migrating their website to a new format. They jumped my article to the head of the line and it is now available again, here. The text is there, but if you want to appreciate how well the Journal originally presented the article (art work and the like), you'll have to get the back issue.
I would like to invite Jonathan Prejean, Patrick Madrid, Dave Armstrong, and the rest of that group of RC apologists, to post links to the paper as well. Why? Well, they are all claiming the paper is a glowing example of how unscholarly I am, how ignorant I am, and why no Roman Catholic should ever listen to anything I have to say. So, how about posting this link along with the Envoy article, and my brief response (which was limited, by the way, by publication word limits)? That way, you can let your audience find out if Hugh Barbour was actually dealing with what I wrote, or was doing as I have said, writing nothing but a shameless hit piece that mocks the very nature of sound scholarship? And would it not be a great benefit for Madrid and Prejean and Armstrong to post my article as an example of just how dull I am? I mean, each of them should be able to provide a far superior summary of the main issues at Nicea, Constantine's role, the primary personalities involved, and make it all understandable to the interested layman, and do it all in 4500 words, right? I mean, since I failed so miserably at it, they should be able to pull it off, right? So I look forward to their demonstrating their integrity and honesty by posting the link along with their far superior articles.
In passing, I'm wondering if someone can help me find the in-depth, full refutation of the Talpiot Tomb claims by these Roman Catholic apologists? I mean, I would think the fact that they are so far beyond me in scholarship (especially Mr. Prejean), that they would have been providing information on the Acts of Philip and mitochondrial DNA and the like far faster than I have. So could someone direct me to their rebuttals?
Oh, and I would invite all of them to help us test out our new phone system this afternoon/evening on The Dividing Line? The toll free number is 877-753-3341. I'd love to give you the opportunity of continuing the demonstration of "ethics in defense of Rome," i.e., "As long as you are slandering critics of Mother Church, it's all fair game."
Sola Scriptura, Bad Roman Catholic Apologists, and More on The Dividing Line
07/31/2008 - James WhiteUsed a recently posted Roman Catholic YouTube video, posted by both "Jerusalem Jones" Steve Ray and Dave Armstrong, as the jumping off point to listen to portions of past debates with Gerry Matatics, comments on sola scriptura, etc. Took some calls, one on sola scriptura and the early councils, the other on the idea of an "inspired interpretation." For those dealing with Roman Catholic claims of authority, this program will be helpful. For those dealing with those Roman Catholic apologists who really are not serious about truth but do what they do for less-than-noble reasons, you will find more information about that "ilk" as well. Here's the program (free/high quality).
The New Catholic Answer Bible (Part One)
10/04/2007 - James Swan
After about a year of stopping myself, I finally picked up The New Catholic Answer Bible (Wichita: Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005). The work appears to be some sort of collaboration between Dr. Paul Thigpen, editor of The Catholic Answer magazine and My Daily Catholic Bible (Our Sunday Visitor) and Dave Armstrong (a self-proclaimed Catholic apologist). Thigpen left the charismatic movement to swim the Tiber, and holds a PH.D in historical theology. Armstrong, also a convert, calls his swim across the Tiber "Confessions of a 1980s' Jesus Freak." To my knowledge, he has no theological training.
So far I haven't been able to locate any information within the book as to who wrote either the notes or the plentiful information inserts. Amazon.com indicates Armstrong and Thigpen wrote the inserts (the Amazon link features a picture of Armstrong, so I think it's safe to say Armstrong is involved, he also links to this book from his blog). But, I haven't found either Thigpen's or Armstrong's names anywhere in the book. Well, it is around 1400 pages, so perhaps I'll come across this information yet. I wrote the publisher a few days ago asking for this information, and so far, no response. This reminds me a little bit of the old who wrote the New World Translation? Add to this, the frequent Watchtower-like drawings throughout this book, giving one that "I'm reading something a bit slippery" feel.
The book is set up like a typical study Bible with commentary notes at the bottom of each page. Whoever wrote these notes though, is still a mystery. Throughout the book are "inserts." These are one page topical overviews of Roman Catholic doctrine, basic theological, and apologetic issues. I'm going to guess these are primarily Armstrong's and Thigpen's, and there is indeed a difference in content between the inserts and commentary. The commentary appears to be written by someone with at least some exegetical training. The inserts have more of the typical current trend of Catholic pop-apologetics.
As I've skimmed through the book, one thing I immediately looked for was what particular body of doctrine was this Bible going to attempt to give "answers" to. That is, is this Bible going to defend the growing popular Catholic understanding of material sufficiency, or will it use vague language, giving it a partim-partim slant? Those adhering to material sufficiency would hold all the doctrines Catholics are to believe are found in the Bible. Those holding to the Partim-Partim view say that part of God's special revelation is contained in the Scripture, and part is contained in Tradition. I think this is a crucial question, because it will determine exactly how particular answers will be given. For instance, will non-biblical key Catholic dogmas like the assumption, papal infallibility, or indulgences be defended and proof-texted in the commentary, or will these been seen as elements of Tradition?
Perhaps this quote from Insert U1 (after page 1314) provides the answer:
"Some Christians insist that only Scripture is authoritative for Christian faith and life. They deny the Catholic teaching (and the historical reality) that Scripture is actually a written portion of a much wider sacred and authoritative Tradition, which includes other elements passed down orally and by patterns of behavior. They fail to realize that if Scripture were the only legitimate source of Christian belief and practice, the early Christians who lived before the New Testament was written and circulated could not have lived the faith. St. Paul alludes to this reality. He tells the Thessalonians how to discern the truth from error: 'Brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement [oral tradition] or by a letter of ours [Scripture]' (2 Thes 2:15). "
Insert N-2 states the following:
"St. Paul, for example, commands Christians to 'hold fast' to the traditions he has passed on to them, both those that were written down (and were later recognized as Scripture) and those that were not written down (see 2 Thes 2:15)."
This seems to be a partim-partim leaning. Interestingly, the commentary note on 2 Thes. 2:15 doesn't even address this particular issue. I was a bit shocked to find that The Catholic Answer Bible didn't have this bolded with a two-page section of commentary, as it has been a key proof-text for Roman apologists. I think this points out the difference in scholarship between the writers of the inserts and the writers of the notes. The insert writers present your standard Catholic pop-apologetics.
So, as far as I can tell, this answer-Bible will not be helpful on one of the most important issues facing Roman Catholics, that is, are Catholics defending more material than is found in the Bible? Perhaps Armstrong and Thigpen plan on doing The New Catholic Answer Tradition Book sometime in the future. For instance, in their note on the assumption, they state,
"Is Mary's assumption described in the Bible? No, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. The death of St. Joseph isn't described in Scripture, either, though it's certain that this important event took place within the years chronicled by the gospels. In fact, many events even in the life of our Lord himself were not recorded in Scripture (see jn 21:25). The assumption of Mary is only one of the many significant events in the life of the early Church that have been remembered and witnessed to by ancient Tradition."
So, this "answer Bible" is not limited to giving Biblical answers! Non-biblical answers are included in the inserts written by Thigpen and Armstrong. In the next few weeks, I'm going to post more of the answers I've found in The New Catholic Answer Bible. Perhaps the next edition should include the disclaimer: "not all answers will be Biblical."
Who Really is Anti-Catholic?
01/23/2010 - James SwanBack in one my old philosophy classes I recall lengthy discussions as to the relationship between names and reality, and then spinning around for hours contemplating the brain teaser of what it means to "mean" something about anything. The aftermath: an entire class of young minds slipped further into skepticism, as if the reality each twenty something experienced was completely unknowable. Of course, arriving at the conclusion that ultimate reality is unknowable is... to know something about ultimate reality! Ah, the futility of the sinful mind in its continual construction of Babel towers. Without the presupposition "He is there and He is not silent" the sinful mind does what it does best: it creates a worldview that can't account for the reality it truly experiences.
Despite the aspirin needed after attending such classes, it did force me early on to think about ostensive definitions, and the carefulness with which one defines terms. With theology, correctly using terms takes on the greatest moral imperative: one is speaking about the very holy God that created the universe. Think of terms that are used to describe Biblical doctrine, like "Trinity." One is using a term to describe a collection of factual data given by the Holy Spirit. If ever one should use caution, it should be with the construction of theological terms. ...
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Alexander the Coppersmith Blunders Again
01/07/2005 - James WhiteI never dreamed just how appropriate the terminology I chose was. For a number of years I had experienced the constant hatred and attacks of Paul Owen, first when he was a student in seminary, then when we was off in Scotland working on his doctorate, and now that he has returned and his spreading his unique variety of theology as a teacher. Since he seemed to live to oppose me, in whatever I say or do, I saw a parallel to Alexander the coppersmith, whose ignominy was established by the apostle Paul when he wrote,
2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.I guess having an Alexander in your life is good for you. You can't get apathetic when you have someone who simply lives to oppose you. Of course, it must be miserable that such a person has such a life, and one can only wonder at what kind of a life it is, but such folks exist. That's just the way it is. ...
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Greetings from Toronto! (Armstrong Update)
09/07/2007 - James WhiteI have once again made it across the border, and look forward greatly to meeting the saints here in Toronto. My flights were in the main uneventful, but now I am rushing to make some major changes to my presentations in light of some studying I was doing on the way up here. I am thankful for the technology to be able to do so (i.e., I remain very thankful for a working, wonderful laptop computer). At the same time, I will need to focus upon this task first and foremost, which may mean that an article or two I had hoped to write today for the blog will be delayed until after my travels are over.
Part of my morning routine involves scanning through the blogs I have in my RSS feed. Most of the time that is useful and even edifying, as there are some fine resources out there. I enjoy reading what Tom Ascol has to say over on the Founder's blog, and our own James Swan has been posting some great things on his blog regarding Rome's inability to meaningfully interact with Islam (a fact I have seen over and over again as I have been moving deeper into that field of apologetic work). But given the nature of my work, I likewise have to read, or at least take note of, a lot of highly unpleasant stuff. It comes with the territory I believe is the colloquial phrase. In any case, a few easy Google searches that you can save and make a part of your iGoogle home page make keeping up with what can only be called the ranting and raving of some on the net fairly easy.
I do not have time to spend on this today, so I shall be brief. This morning Roman apologist (see my discussion of the difference between a Roman Catholic apologist and a Romanist from a few weeks ago) Dave Armstrong has posted yet another inane attack upon me based upon the most ridiculous play-on-words. It is as embarrassing as his "See, Peter spoke to a dead girl, so that means we can pray to saints" argument from back in June, or his "explicit biblical evidence for indulgences" piece a few days ago. Now he and a few other Romanists have decided that if I object to the application of the title "Vicar of Christ" to the Pope, this means I would logically have to subordinate the Spirit in a heretical sense. And the reason for this? It's easy: pick a single meaning for "vicar/vicarious" to fit your absurd assertion, ignore the original context, and voila! You have yet another wonderful apologetic argument. Childish? Of course. Absurd and laughable? Obviously. Unworthy of anyone with the slightest modicum of concern for the truth? Without doubt. Meant only as a joke? Sadly, no. For Armstrong and those like him, this kind of twisted argumentation is the substance of their religion.
The serious reader knows that my objection to the term "Vicar of Christ" is based upon the fact that it is the Spirit who is sent by the Father and the Son into the world so that believer are not "left alone," as Jesus promised in John 15-16. To give that role and title to a man is blasphemous; and what is more, it would be very easy to develop the point even further, demonstrating how often Rome has claimed authority over the church that only the Spirit of God Himself could ever truly bear and wield. But to take a different meaning of "vicar" that is utterly outside of the range of meaning that I myself have used and then turn it into an implicit charge of Trinitarian heresy is simply despicable, let alone ridiculous, especially coming from a man who has never, to my knowledge, stood before an audience in defense of the Trinity against those who would deny it, nor has he produced anything of any meaningful scholarly substance on the topic that is not a mere re-hash of the sources he cherry-picks for his interminable writings.
But more than the absurdity of the specter of Dave Armstrong pretending to be the great defender of Rome is the fact that he is aided in this by the entire Roman Catholic apologetics community. Just where are the honest, concerned Roman Catholic apologists today? You see, if you are not consistent in pointing to the problems "in house," you have no credibility with me. I have taken huge hits over the years for daring to demand that if we are going to point the finger at false religion we better be consistent "in house" as well. I have long pointed out the errors of Jack Chick, for example. I denounced the Alberto comics back in the 1980s as unworthy of those who desire to speak the truth about Roman Catholicism. I have honestly criticized the really, really bad apologetics materials that you can find in "Christian bookstores," and I have publicly criticized men like Dave Hunt for their less-than-scholarly assertions in many fields. I have played clips from debates and honestly admitted when the other side had the better point, and when "our guy" tripped up. Why? Because you have to to be able to look at yourself honestly in the mirror in the morning, that's why. It's called consistency. And if you claim to follow Him who is the Truth, you better have the highest view of truth, and practice it yourself. Sunday evening I will be preaching on that topic from Psalm 15, where we read these sobering words, Ab)b'l.Bi tm,ªa/÷ rbeîdow, which I translate, "speaking truth in his inner-most being." Who can dwell in God's presence? The one who speaks truth--consistently--in his heart--in his mind--when no one else is looking. The man who does not engage in self-deception. Ah, the glory of God's Word.
If Roman Catholic apologists want to be taken seriously, they need to realize they have to clean house. Now, of course, if their ultimate authority is Rome, and their ultimate goal is the promotion of Rome, and nothing else, then they have no reason to worry about men like Armstrong. Let him rant and rave and put out Jack Chick level materials in defense of Rome. Who cares? But if those on the far side of the Tiber manning the defensive works actually claim to love the truth, then why are they so deathly silent in the face of the likes of Armstrong? Why are converts like Steve Ray given a complete pass to throw out the most shallow, easily refuted arguments? Is it because "hey, they get some results, and something is better than nothing!"? Is it all just pragmatism? Where are the websites denouncing the behavior of an Art Sippo? Where can I find the Roman Catholic who apologizes for the hit and run tactics of a Phil Porvaznik? If they are there, they are well hidden. I can't seem to find them.
One last example and I must get to work on pressing duties. James Swan sent me an e-mail he had received from Sophia Institute, an organization that publishes some of Dave Armstrong's books. Now, to my knowledge, Dave Armstrong has never been hired by an institution of higher learning to stand before a class and teach on a scholarly subject. To my knowledge, prior to his conversion, he was an amateur "apologist," like the guy at church who reads Walter Martin books. To this day I do not believe he has ever been hired as a professor anywhere; if he reads Greek or Hebrew I have never seen the first bit of evidence of it (and by "reads" I do not mean "has BibleWorks, can left click a mouse"). I have never seen his articles published in any journals, and the level of "scholarship" in his books is, quite simply, secondary, derivative, and shows no first-hand capacity. So with that in mind, I give you here a wonderful example of the Roman Catholic tendency to turn all converts into Paul, i.e., the Paul Syndrome. I have documented other instances of this in the past. Gerry Matatics loves to claim that he was an "anti-Catholic" before conversion---which simply means he was a consistent Protestant. I asked him once, "Gerry, what books did you write against Rome before your conversion." "I didn't." "What debates did you do?" "I didn't." "What articles did you write?" "I didn't." "What tracts did you write and distribute against Rome?" "I didn't." "What classes did you teach, outreaches did you do?" "I didn't." "So why do you call yourself a former anti-Catholic?" "I was very opposed to Roman Catholicism." Well, duh. Follow the logic of that one through. In any case, here are the opening paragraphs of an e-mail promoting Dave Armstrong's books from Sophia Institute as sent to James Swan: ...
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The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part VI)
02/15/2005 - James WhiteDave Armstrong "shows his cards" so to speak, and in so doing reveals the true motivation behind his use of Matthew 23, in these words:
Thirdly, because they had the authority and no indication is given that Jesus thought they had it only when simply reading Scripture, it would follow that Christians were, therefore, bound to elements of Pharisaical teaching that were not only nonscriptural, but based on oral tradition, for this is what the Pharisees believed. (p. 49)Here we see the full impact of Armstrong's reading, and, I believe, misreading of the entire opening to Matthew 23. The full power of sola ecclesia is here seen, for when you can turn the opening phrases of condemnation of the Pharisees for their hypocrisy into a binding of believers to Pharisaical traditions that are explicitly condemned therein, you are obviously operating with a very, very strong external authority. This is the central assertion, in my opinion, and hence will be the primary focus of my response (which, to the shock of some, I will, eventually, get to).
Next, Armstrong makes the interesting observation that the Pharisees did indeed have their "traditions" that were extra-biblical, and since he is seeking to present as positive a picture of the Pharisees as possible, he identifies the Sadducees as the "Jewish sola Scripturists and liberals of the time," an odd combination when one thinks about it. ...
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