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The Dividing Line 5-14-13

dividing line

Dr. White discussed the recent release by Catholic Answers of his 2010 purgatory debate with Tim Staples, then discussed a Muslim video which explains “why Protestants are Returning to the Catholic Church,” and then took calls.

James White vs. Tim Staples on BAM, 1996 (Update)

I recently re-listened to the first White / Staples debate on Sola Scriptura: Is The Bible the Only Infallible Rule of Faith? This debate is from 1996. If you listen to this debate, you’ll hear references to an earlier discussion between Dr. White and Tim on the Bible Answer Man show. I had never heard this before, so I tracked it down: The Roman Catholicism Debate on BAM (White vs Staples – I). This is a lively discussion as well. It’s an inexpensive downloadable mp3.  Since it’s an old recording, for best sound results, lower the bass frequencies and raise the highs. I mention this old discussion because it serves as a reminder that Dr. White was interacting with Roman apologists long before many of us even cared. His argumentation back in 1996 (probably a lot of it compiled without the Internet or “e books” or gizmos) was excellent, both in this discussion, and in his debate with Tim. In the BAM discussion, you’ll hear a basic outline of the White vs. Staples Purgatory debate many years before the debate actually happened. This is the 2010 debate Catholic Answers has no interest making available.

As a preview, here’s a short sample of the discussion. Hank asks if Dr. White and Tim Staples considers the other “lost.”  Here is the clip.


How to Get an Infraction from Catholic Answers

For those of you who’ve listened to the recent Dividing Line broadcast, I’d like to provide a little background on the section in which Dr. White played a Roman Catholic calling Steve Gregg’s The Narrow Path radio show. Since there’s a good chance this call may eventually get me banned from Catholic Answers, I might as well document what happened. A few weeks ago one particular Catholic Answers discussion thread caught my attention: “I called in at the Steve Gregg radio show” (some of you may remember that Dr. White debated Mr. Gregg on the Freedom of God in Salvation). The person who wrote this post (“Adamski”) stated,

I was listiening [sic] to Protestant radio (Anabaptsit [sic] radio) And this guy Steve Gregg the host went off on all you need is your bible and don’t become a member of any church.  This concept really bothers me because I have friends that are like this and they have come up with some really really strange ideas on thier [sic] own. So I called the radio show and asked him “if your [sic] an expert how do you get a different answer than Tim staples or Scott Hahn” His response is “sadly they don’t know thier [sic] bible very well.” Then I responded “then how do you come up with a different answer than John Calvin or Martin Luther.” All this was said in a calm manner but my John Calvin and Martin Luther response was not put on air and he went off on some tangent back to how one should stay away from institutional churches.

This sounded like something worth hearing, so I inquired to Adam as to when he was on Mr. Gregg’s broadcast. I was able to track down Gregg’s show calender (it took weeks for the show to be uploaded). I found the call in question and posted it on Catholic Answers in the same discussion thread. I can’t add much to what Dr. White said. Mr. Gregg made some good and bad arguments. One thing does come across in the call: Mr. Gregg was cordial with the caller, despite cutting him off from time to time. In fact the call ends peacefully between these two men. From the way the discussion was portrayed in the Catholic Answers post, I had thought it was going to be a much more volatile discussion than it actually was. I said as much to Adam, and he responded:

Yes I think he was fair with me. I just think its [sic] silly to say his version of Christianity is right because he can interpate [sic] the bible better. That’s rediculous[sic]. Luther and Calvin both great Protestant scholars claimed they where [sic] both right because the[sic] could interpate [sic] the bible better and they argued who is right. I used to go to bible study fellowship when I was a Protestant and all they did was argue.

I responded as follows:

I don’t recall Calvin and Luther ever arguing about anything with each other. Keep in mind, during the 16th century, everyone argued with everyone, including those attached to the Roman church. One need only search out the squabbles between the different orders of monks. Steve Gregg makes some good points to you, while other points were not so good. For instance, the claim that Tim Staples did not “know” his Bible previous to becoming Roman Catholic is simply untrue. As much as I may disagree with Mr. Staples, it certainly is the case he has quite a lot of Scripture memorized, and had this before joining Rome.

According to the Catholic Answers moderator Eric Hilbert, this comment of mine crossed the line and I received an “infraction.” He stated, “After reviewing your post, and your explaination [sic] for it, I have reached the conclusion that, although this post does not reach the level of contempt for Catholicism, it does show a general disrespect.” Was it because I pointed out monks fought each other in the sixteenth-century? No. Was it because I mentioned Steve Gregg made some good points? No. Was it because I actually defended Tim Staples against the charge of Mr. Gregg? No. My crime appears to be using these words: “Roman church,” “Roman Catholic,” and “joining Rome.” Another Catholic Answers participant informed me of how offensive I was: “The terms ‘Roman church’ and ‘joining Rome’ are highly offensive. What Staples joined was the Catholic Church.”

Certainly two can play at this game. I’m highly offended that those dedicated to the Roman rite think they are the Catholic church, when in fact Rome has anathematized the Gospel and set up another infallible authority over the Scriptures. Any group doing such things is not a member of the Catholic church. Certainly posting such a comment though would’ve violated the rules of the Catholic Answers forums, rules I agreed to when I signed up. Instead, I posted the following explanation from something written by… Catholic Answers:

Within the Catholic Church there are a number of individual churches, sometimes called rites. One of these is the Roman rite or Roman church. It includes most of the Catholics in the Western world. A Roman Catholic is a Catholic who is a member of the Roman rite [What is the difference between the Roman Catholic and the Catholic religion?]

I’ve replied back to Eric Hilbert’s infraction summons:

I try to abide by the CA rules as much as possible, and did not realize what I had posted while I was defending Mr. Staples had violated the rules. In the future, can I use the phrase, “Roman rite” or “Roman church” as described by this CA link?  If so, had I revised my sentence using these phrases instead, would my words still show “general disrespect” and if so, Why?  The CA link in question uses both terms, and does not capitalize the word, “church.” If I’m missing something, please let me know. Keep in mind, the link in question, written by someone on staff for Catholic Answers uses the term, “Roman Catholic.”

What’s interesting as well is Pope Leo XIII didn’t have any problem with the word “Roman” or “Roman Church” as this encyclical shows.
Mr. Hilbert also stated, “I would highly suggest you change your tone to be in accordance with CAF rules in the future.” Now the ironic part of this is that the Catholic Answers moderators are allowing this multiple rule-breaking post, Answers to James White, shame on them. The Catholic Answers moderators have done some odd moderating on me before. Back in March I defended Dr. White using the Catholic Answers rules, only to have all my comments deleted (one can still read them here). Even with this current incident, Hilbert actually deleted my last 14 posts, including comments that didn’t break any rules. Again though, I suspected this would happen, so I posted them on my blog.
I’ve been a member of the Catholic Answers discussion forums since 2004. Some of you may wonder why I would be a member, others of you are probably wondering how it is I was never booted off Catholic Answers. I became a member to interact with Roman Catholics on Reformation history. I have a special interest in historical presuppositions and the use of the facts of history put forth by Roman Catholics in regard to the Reformation. I probably haven’t been kicked off because I don’t post often. If Mr. Hilbert happens to see this, I challenge him to respond back to me as to why my defense of Tim Staples while using the word “Roman” is disrespectful and this official Catholic Answers page is not. It appears to me that either Mr. Hilbert simply applies rules haphazardly, or perhaps he’s simply looking for a reason to boot me off Catholic Answers. Perhaps this very post is the reason he’s been looking for.

Before We Were Separated Brethren…

The Called to Communion blog recently presented a number of entries on “the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” following a webpage from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Maybe some Roman Catholics are interested in unity, but I guess it depends on exactly what you read.  For instance, consider the following excerpts from this book with the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur: Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine For the Family and More Advanced Students in Catholic Schools (1875) (pp. 70, 91-93, 97-98).

Q. Does the Lord make use of apostate Catholics, such as Martin Luther, Calvin, John Knox, Henry VIII., King of England, to reform the manners of the people?

A. The thought is absurd. The lives of those men were evil, and it is only the devil that makes use of them to pervert the people still more. The Lord makes use of His saints, such as a St. Francis of Assisium, a St. Dominick, a St. Ignatius, a St. Alphonsus, to convert the people and reform their evil manners by explaining to them the truths of faith, the commandments, and the necessity of receiving the sacraments with proper dispositions, and by setting them in their own lives the loftiest example of faith, purity, and all Christian virtues.

Q. Are there any other reasons to show that heretics, or Protestants who die out of the Roman Catholic Church, are not saved?

A. There are several. They cannot be saved, because

1. They have no divine faith.
2. They make a liar of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, and of the Apostles.
3. They have no faith in Christ.
4. They fell away from the true Church of Christ.
5. They are too proud to submit to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ.
6. They cannot perform any good works whereby they can obtain heaven.
7. They do not receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
8. They die in their sins.
9. They ridicule and blaspheme the Mother of God and His saints.
10. They slander the spouse of Jesus Christ: the Catholic Church.

Q. What is the act of faith of a Protestant?

A. O my God, I believe nothing except what my own private judgment tells me to believe; therefore I believe that I can interpret Thy written word the Holy Scriptures as I choose. I believe that the Pope is anti-Christ; that any man can be saved, provided he is an honest man; I believe that faith alone is sufficient for salvation; that good works, and works of penance, and the confession of sins are not necessary, etc.

Q. Have Protestants any faith in Christ?

A. They never had.

Q. Why not?

A. Because there never lived such a Christ as they imagine and believe in.

Q. In what kind of a Christ do they believe?

A. In such a one of whom they can make a liar, with impunity, whose doctrine they can interpret as they please, and who does not care about what a man believes, provided he be an honest man before the public.

Q. Will such a faith in such a Christ save Protestants?

A. No sensible man will assert such an absurdity.

A CTC blog entry from last year asks,  Do You Wan to Go to Heaven? which addresses, “So do you mean to say that if I decide to skip Mass on Sunday, and then drop dead on Monday, I will go to Hell?” Which, after various considerations, is affirmed (but not given the typical loopholes and qualifications that many other Roman websites do). The article presents an apologetic against “once saved always saved” etc. and explains to ill-informed Protestants why going to mass is so serious for Roman Catholics that if missed, qualifies as a mortal sin: “When we ‘skip Mass’ we are deciding that we would rather be elsewhere than in the presence of God the Father, with the angels and saints, in that perfect act of worship which is the presentation of the sacrificial Lamb of God to the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.”

Compare this to: Just Why Are Only 20% of Catholics Attending Mass? Here, a priest explains why only a small percentage of Roman Catholics actually go to mass (poor homilies, poor music, poor hospitality). “A Protestant once said: “If you Catholics really believed what the Church teaches about the Mass and the Most Holy Eucharist, your churches would be full and you would see Catholics crawling on their knees to attend Mass!

Interesting. CTC is busy calling wayward Protestants to “communion,” but 80% of their fellow brethren are in danger of hell. Most Protestants, according to a Roman paradigm, just don’t know Rome is the true church. That is, many Protestants could at least make it to Purgatory due to ignorance. This seems to me to be a poor strategy for CTC. Their goal: “Our aim is to effect reconciliation and reunion between Catholics and Protestants, particularly those of the Reformed tradition.” Perhaps calling their fellow brethren to actually attend communion would be a more consistent use of CTC’s bandwidth.