Next Wednesday Gerry Matatics will join Chris Arnzen to explain his adoption of the sedevacantist position and his assertion that that the current leadership of the Roman Church is invalid. You will want to be listening to Iron Sharpens Iron at 3pm EDT for this program. You can listen live here. Then, on Thursday, I will join Chris to review his discussion with Matatics. Remember, I debated Matatics on the subject of the Papacy in Denver during World Youth Day in 1993 (I had previously debated him on the subject in 1990 in Tempe, a debate moderated by Scott Hahn, who stormed out of the room in anger after it was over). It remains one of the clearest refutations of Rome’s claims to papal primacy we offer. A full seven hours worth of debate (real debate, not radio programs with callers, commercials, and the like, debate—the real thing) during which Matatics defended the very institution he now claims is in apostasy. It should be an interesting program!
   For those interested, I would direct anyone to every single one of the debates we have done on the Papacy in general, and papal infallibility in particular, which includes debates against Matatics, Sungenis, Staples, and Pacwa. The Staples debate in particular is an example of why, it seems, Catholic Answers prefers informal discussions to formal debates, to be sure. (And please note a standing, open challenge to Hahn, Keating, Akin, Madrid, and Staples to debate any aspect of the claims of Rome regarding the Papacy, along with the dogmatic declarations of Rome regarding the Marian dogmas).
   Speaking of which, I will be playing clips from the 7/31 Catholic Answers Live radio program. They are now advertising the Steve Gregg/Tim Staples “debate” (it was a radio program, not a debate) along with the “Bible Answer Man Debate with noted Anti-Catholic James White.” Note that I’m an anti-Catholic, but Steve Gregg isn’t. Starting to get an idea of just how malleable, and in fact, simply dishonest CA is about its use of such slurs? When your worldview and faith requires you to support godliness in sexual morality, that makes you a “homophobe,” right? And if you proclaim the historic Christian faith against the later claims of Islam, you become an “Islamophobe,” right? And, if you deny such man-made dogmas as Papal Infallibility or the Bodily Assumption of Mary, beliefs utterly unknown as dogmas to the early centuries of believers, you are now an “anti-Catholic” (I think they’d use “Catholiphobe” if it didn’t look so downright silly). Staples makes some very interesting claims about the BAM radio program that illustrate why I refuse to call un-timed discussions interrupted by commercials and news breaks and driven by callers “debates.”
   I will also be joined at the beginning of the program by Mike O’Fallon. A number of folks have been asking if there is still room to take the class on the Cross and go on the cruise in October in preparation for the Ally debate, and the answer is yes, but time is running out! Mike will be getting us up to speed at the top of the program on that.
   Next, I note that the folks over at Steve Gregg’s board are highly confused as to the meaning of the phrase “respecter of persons” (KJV) or one “showing partiality” (most modern translations) in reference to a comment I made in my replies to Gregg on Romans 9. I will actually be speaking on this particular issue this evening in our Wednesday evening service, and will bring my mp3 player along, record it, and post it, to provide a fuller discussion. In brief, look at James 2 for a great example of what it means to show respect for persons, to act in partiality. My point was simple: if God responds to men due to their being better, more spiritually sensitive, pliable, etc., than others, then He is showing partiality; that is, His response to man is based upon something in the man. This is the essential nature of synergism: the final decision as to who will, and who will not, experience forgiveness and eternal life, is man’s, not God’s. Therefore, there is something in the man that determines the final outcome of salvation. Only in monergism (Calvinism) do you have God’s mercy and grace acting freely and without being bound by the actions and dispositions of man. Hence, when the accusation is made that Calvinists make God out to be a respecter of persons, the ones making the accusation are simply not thinking through what the phrase actually means, and how it applies to synergists such as themselves, not to monergists.
   Finally, I note that Robert Sungenis has promised, again, to amend his ways regarding his anti-Jewish polemics. For those who have not been following that saga, Sungenis began veering off the path years ago, jumping not only into geocentrism, but into the promotion of some pretty wild-eyed theories regarding the Jews. I honestly have had little interest in following the goings-on, but to say that the sparks have flown and that he has been denounced as harshly as he is given to denouncing others is to put it mildly. He likewise made some brief comments about yours truly, and alleged my Reformed Baptist beliefs are far more self-contradictory that Matatics’ beliefs (that one is so self-evidently in error I can let it stand as its own refutation), and I’d love to ask him more about that, but…it would cost me. See, to get answers from Dr. Robert Sungenis now you have to…put the question in the PayPal comments box along with your donation. I quote, “If you have an apologetics question you would like to ask Dr. Sungenis, please write the question in the ‘comments box’ provided in the Paypal transaction process.” So, it will cost you $3.00 now. I wonder if Mr. X will shell out some bucks to get some answers? I sorta doubt it.
   Finally, just to get off the Roman Catholic topic before I sign off…I have been listening to a good bit of Jamal Badawi of late, and I have often heard him attempt to make the case that there was a great deal of confusion in the early Christian church over the crucifixion of Jesus. One of his most often used examples is that of the Basilideans. They taught that Jesus was not crucified and that instead, Simon the Cyrene took his place. This fits perfectly with the currently accepted understanding of Surah 4:157 in the Qur’an. And yet, if someone would just stop to ask the question, “Who were the Basilideans, and why should I believe they have anything relevant to say to the historic situation in AD 30 in Jerusalem?” they would quickly come to question the integrity of anyone promoting their name in relation to the crucifixion. Why? Simple. Here are the facts. Basilides was a gnostic teacher who flourished around 130 AD or so in Alexandria. So, he’s teaching a century after the events. He claims to have been taught by a disciple of Peter. But what did he teach? Well, that’s a good question, since his followers were so few, and his impact so small, that all we know about him is what was written about his teachings and his followers by men like Irenaeus or Hippolytus. But taking that material, we know that the Basilideans followed a supreme god named “Abraxas.” Is anyone going to argue that this was the original message of Jesus and His disciples? And Jesus was viewed as a phantom, a non-corporeal being, sent to earth by Abraxas. This movement was influenced far more by eastern religions than it was by the Jews or Jesus, to be sure. So could someone explain why a tiny group of gnostic influenced people in Egypt a hundred years after Christ should be relevant to overthrowing the combined and unanimous testimony of all of the original followers of Christ? When it is said, “Oh, they didn’t believe Jesus died on the cross,” of course they didn’t! Have you ever tried to crucify a phantom? It was their docetism (denial of the physical incarnation of Jesus, the very error warned against by John in his epistles) that led them to have to come up with an explanation for why everyone else was testifying to the reality of the crucifixion. Since they denied the incarnation, they had to come up with something to fill the gap, and they did so on the basis of the canonical gospels and their reference to Simon the Cyrene! There is nothing historically useful in the Basilideans outside of giving us a glimpse into the varied forms of gnosticism in the second century. Surely, as far as the historical reality of the crucifixion is concerned, such sources are irrelevant.

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