Amazingly, it continued on.  Mr. Sungenis sent a message with an attached 24-page letter.  The material that is preceded and followed by *** is from his letter.  This is the file I wrote and then imported for mailing.  I fixed a few typographical errors in the actual e-mail that I may have missed here. Until June 4th, this concluded this series.  However, things just get stranger and stranger….

At 02:57 PM 4/16/99 -0400, wrote:

>Letter to large for e-mail. On attached file for your convenience.

I spent far too much time on this, especially given the attitude you have shown, Mr. Sungenis. Your comments fall far below the standard of civil behavior (especially your final comments). Aside from your explanation of the passage you quoted from Mr. Gallegos without knowing the context, I don’t believe further arguing with you on these passages would be fruitful. We’ve said all we need to say. I think the interchange speaks for itself.

***From the intrusion of your posts into the Bonocore/Engwer debate, and your recent challenge to debate Mark Bonocore, you are the one who seems to be in a constant debating mode. Your posts were brought to my attention since Mark is an apologist for Catholic Apologetics International, the organization I run. As for your remark that I have “only one debate” on Long Island, I fail to see the relevance, unless perhaps you are taking an opportunity to boast of your “busy” schedule so we will all think you are so important and admired. But just for the record, James, I have two more debates in May.***

Intrusion? Mr. Bonocore focused his opening statement on *me.* I asked him questions. If I had realized he was in the Art Sippo camp, I wouldn’t have bothered, since the reasons would be self-evident.

***Ah, correction: Mr. White’s quote of Gregory of Nyssa’s supposed support of sola scriptura is on all the posts he sends to everyone, since it is tagged on to all his e-mails. Since he felt compelled to advertise this quote from Gregory all over the world, I thought it was high-time to address his remarks.***

Ah, correction: that citation is one of 8 on sola scriptura in my e-mail file.

***Yes, you are correct here, James. Although I think it is a real possibility that you keep bringing up these out-of-context quotes from the Fathers regarding Scripture in an effort to convince yourself that the Father is supporting sola scriptura, even though your alter ego knows differently.***

Please, you are not a mind-reader, Mr. Sungenis, though you may play one on TV. 🙂 As I demonstrated, the out-of-context charge is your burden, not mine. That does seem to be the difference between us: one alleges, the other proves.

***If its your own translation, then surely you saw the context in which Gregory was writing. By your own admission, then, you decided not to translate any of the context of the passage. You thought that just by throwing a bone to your constituents that all of them would think Gregory was supporting sola scriptura, knowing they would probably never look up the quote themselves.***

Sorry, missed it again. I demonstrated the context does not vitiate the quote; I “admitted” nothing, since I reject the charge you have made as ludicrous and disproven. I am throwing bones to no one (though, I confess, I might be casting a few pearls here, given your constant attitude), and as for folks looking things up, I’m the one constantly encouraging folks to do that. That’s why I encouraged you to look up your own quotes. 🙂

***I challenge you to show me one place, in any of my books, where I call my opponents dishonest and deceptive, except for you.***

Except for me. Well, that’s special. Thanks muchly.

***This is a LIE, Mr. White, and you know it. Your quote is not “your own translation.” It is taken verbatim from NPNF, word for word. I suggest everyone get Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 5, and turn to page 439. Look on the left hand column, in the second paragraph, starting from line 25 and read the quote. You will see that it is the same exact rendition that Mr. White said comes from his Greek tagfile that he translated himself. Tsk, Tsk, Mr. White. Now I know who I am up against.***

Yup, you are right, Mr. Sungenis. My tagfile is indeed the NPNF. I’m glad you pointed that out, since here is my translation, which I use in IRC, and which I use in my public presentations on the subject:

Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-95): “…we make the Holy Scriptures the canon and rule of every dogma; we of necessity look upon that, and receive alone that which may be made conformable to the intention of those writings.” On the Soul And the Resurrection..

I thought that was what was in my tagfile….it was, at one point, anyway, but I must have overwritten it with the older version. Of course, you call that a lie. I leave it to any semi-unbiased person to judge. However, I can prove to you that I did translate the passage, and was using my own translation, even in public presentations. I have the PowerPoint presentation with that particular screen as the final example, and am attaching the .jpg of the screen. [Click here for this .jpg] However, given your attitude, that will not suffice. You’ll accuse me of manufacturing it. So, I remembered that I can prove it, at least to anyone willing to listen. I delivered the lecture I used this in on March 30, 1999 in Chicago. It just so happens that the tape of that talk is available, and, the Real Audio is available on the web: Fast forward to 47:00, and you will hear me read it, exactly as it is found in the attached jpg. I know that won’t stop you from calling me a liar, but it will prove the truthfulness of what I have said.

***Your lie above speaks for itself.***

I’m sorry I had an old tagfile on my home computer, Mr. Sungenis. It is truly terrible of me to have three different files on three different computers. What a sin!

***Ad hominem?? Come now, James. Your skin is way too thin to be doing this kind of stuff. The only thing I said was that your attempt at quoting Gregory was “sleight-of-hand.” I explained what I meant by that, i.e., that you took Gregory’s quote out of context. And this is typical of you: to take an intellectual criticism of your methodology and try to turn it into an ad hominem accusation, so that you can come out smelling like a rose. But that was then, this is now. After your blatant lie, noted above, I frankly don’t know what to think of you anymore.***

You insinuated much that you now duck, Bob, and we all saw it. But, let’s get to the passage and its context….

***Mr. White, with your blatant lie I cited above about “your own Greek translation” of Gregory’s quote, my opinion of you has already deteriorated to the point of disgust. Now you make me even more ill by bringing up this subject of the Greek of Romans 5:1 – a subject that you and I have already discussed at length in several e-mails we exchanged. I already admitted that error to you and told you I would change it in the next edition. So it is a dead issue, but you want to resurrect in an attempt to get the focus off of you and your inadequacies. Sure you don’t work for James Carville or Paul Begala?***

Bob, again, you seem to be struggling with the issue of “context.” I pointed out that it would be unfair to accuse you of dishonesty in such a situation. It was, I believe, a fair and quite applicable example, was it not? Your anger and hostility keeps you from recognizing it.

***By the way, Mr. White. You even told another lie. Above you said, “he may not like me, but he’s surely got to believe I’d catch the error upon the first reading of his comments.” But this is not what you told me in your e-mails. You said that a student of yours happened to be reading the book where your name was mentioned [he could find all these places by looking in the index under ‘White, James’] and brought this Greek matter to your attention, upon which you proceeded to write me a letter. Tsk, Tsk, James. That’s two lies.***

No, not even one, so far, Bob. Mike Porter did call me and refer me to the page. How does that in the least have any reference to what I said? The fact remains that it would have been silly of you to *purposefully* deceive your readers, because the deception would be easily recognized. And, I might point out, you are doing nothing more than proving my point with this constant accusation of dishonesty and lying.

***Regarding our correspondence on Romans 5:1, would you like me to bring that out for everyone to see, James? I would be most happy to do so. Not only did I freely admit my grammatical error, but I also showed you your grammatical error, didn’t I James? In fact, you still owe me a letter regarding this. I pointed out that your interpretation of the aorist participle of Romans 5:1 was in error. Remember me citing Burton’s Grammar and all that stuff about context? If you don’t, as I said, I’ll be happy to reproduce that correspondence so that everyone can see that your not the Greek scholar you pretend to be.***

Feel free, Mr. Sungenis, since I made no error. I’d be glad to demonstrate that your grasp of the language is quite limited, your knowledge of the grammar very shallow, and that you simply don’t know what you are talking about (it is even worse when you attempt to address issues of textual criticism, but others are already taking care of that). I did cut off the discussion, since you were obviously in way over your head, you were becoming, as you are now, hostile, and just as in my recent attempt to reason with you regarding the contradictions in Roman teaching over time, you simply argue in the most grand circles (always with a liberal dosage of ad-hominem argumentation thrown in for good measure). While some might find your slavish defense of the indefensible entertaining, I assure you, I don’t.

I challenge you to put up the correspondence, Robert. I’ll be glad, upon returning from Long Island, to demonstrate that you cannot get around what Romans 5:1 says, and that you continue to misunderstand even your favorite citations from grammars on the topic. I *seriously* considered posting it myself, but chose not to do so. If *you* don’t, I’ll try to find the posts myself and post them. You are barking up the wrong tree, you are in error, and there is no question of this.

***Just for the record, James. If your student bothered to read footnote 53 on page 341 of Not By Faith Alone, he would have seen that I had already said that dikaiothentes was an aorist participle. Thus, it was an obvious mistake for me to refer to it as an perfect passive on the next page, when I meant to say aorist participle. But don’t worry, it will be corrected. And as I promised you, when I correct it I am going to launch into a whole diatribe against your interpretation of the aorist participle of Romans 5:1. You have only yourself to thank for that.***

Well, the term “diatribe” is probably the best here, to be sure. But Bob, please remember: those of us who do not let our emotions get the best of us have the advantage. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get around what the blessed Apostle said in Romans 5:1. You’ve come up with at least two imaginative ways so far, but, neither works. The harder you try, the more shrill you will become, and the more obvious it will be to all observing that you are in trouble.

***And while I’m on the subject, what is this comment supposed to mean?: “Now, why Mr. Sungenis cannot return the favor, but chooses the “let’s paint James White as a deceiver right from the start,” is beyond me.”

Playing the martyr again, James? Now lets just put this in perspective. Scenario #1: I put a grammatical error in NBFA on Romans 5:1. You pointed it out to me. I acknowledged it and said I would correct it. Scenario #2: You keep putting Gregory’s quote out of context as a tag on your e-mails and challenge John Betts to answer it. I answer it for him and say that your quote is out of context. You then accuse me of ad hominem remarks and then bring out my dirty laundry to make me look bad. What’s wrong with this picture, James? The difference between me and you is that I admit my errors.***

Bob, your attempts to insinuate that I am purposefully misleading people were plain for all to see. Do you deny that you said:

“Notice that Mr. White does not give the exact place where one can

find this quote in “On the Soul and the Resurrection.” …Once you read the context, you’ll know why Mr. White does not give the exact reference – because the context doesn’t support what Mr. White is trying to say.”

Now, maybe you want to tell us all that such words contain no insinuations, but, I think anyone who reads them knows better. Of course, your own language betrays you, as the following demonstrates:

***Playing dumb again, James?***

Your kindness is overwhelming, Bob.

***You know exactly why I “insert” Church and Tradition into this matter.***

Well, yes, I do: you can’t deal with these passages outside of the anachronistic constraints of your ultimate epistemological authority: Rome. Rome tells you what you are to see in the early Church, and voila! you see it. But, I like to prove my point before coming to the conclusion, hence the question.

***Because the definition of sola scriptura demands a recognition that Church and Tradition are not infallible on par with Scripture. And once one sees this, then it becomes obvious why Gregory does not include Church and Tradition in opposition to Scripture in this present text: BECAUSE HE’S NOT TRYING TO DEFEND SOLA SCRIPTURA!!***

Again, let’s try to let the Fathers speak for themselves, OK? Do you think you could try to do that? He didn’t speak of “Tradition” in this passage. I didn’t say “Here Gregory pits Scripture against the Church and Tradition.” The very term “Tradition” with a capital T, whatever that means to you (and that would be different than what it means to other RC’s), is anachronistic to the extreme. You ASSUME its meaning, but assumptions are dangerous things. Gregory explains that we Christians make the Scriptures the “canon” and “law” of EVERY DOGMA. His is a positive statement. He doesn’t mention capital-T tradition. I again challenge you to find a single place where he uses such terminology of “Tradition” or the Papacy or anything else you’d like to add into the mixture. And he says that those things ALONE (monos) are to be RECEIVED that are commensurate with the SCRIPTURAL standard. His words are quite reminiscent of these from Basil:

Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): We ought carefully to examine whether the doctrine offered us is conformable to Scripture, and if not, to reject it. Nothing must be added to the inspired words of God; all that is outside Scripture is not of faith, but is sin. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Prolegomena, 2. Work, 3. Ascetic (iii).

Now, Bob, I quote this because I agree with it. He is saying what I would say. YOU would never utter those words in ANY context, since they would not be TRUE for you (assuming that which you do not assume for me).

***You keep reading sola scriptura into the text because your Protestant mind set forces you to do so.***

No, Bob, remember: I don’t have a system that demands that I find in the Fathers the basis of my faith. That is your burden, not mine. On this issue, the bias is plainly and inarguably *yours.* YOU read into it concepts of Tradition and Church athority derived from the middle ages and beyond, not I.

***If he was talking about sola scriptura, then we would expect Gregory to give a detailed explanation of how Scripture is the only infallible source we should turn to in order to answer questions of the faith. But all that your quote from Gregory does is tell what Gregory thought of Scripture – he thought it was the word of God. Wonderful. So did every other Church Father, but none of them, NONE OF THEM, ever said about Scripture what you must say in your definition of sola scriptura, that is, that Scripture is the ONLY infallible authority for faith and morals.***

You know, that sounds a lot more like a confession of faith on your part than the calm, reflective conclusion of a fair and honest study of the passage. Gregory DID say that Scripture is the canon and rule of EVERY dogma. Please, Bob, where do you find him saying this of Tradition, or the Papacy? Can you show me? I’d like to see. He said that we are to receive ALONE (monos) that which is conformable to that standard. I am reminded by such words of Augustine’s assertion that Scripture “fixes the rule of our doctrine.” Same concept.

Let me try to make you aware of something, Bob: Gregory didn’t know about our debate on this issue. I don’t have to force him into it. I can just listen to what he said, the way he said it. I don’t have to make Gregory into a “sola scriptura man.” I can let Gregory be Gregory. That’s my advantage again: you are the one with the burden on your back of anachronistic papal claims. I am very glad to not have to bear that burden.

***Now let me turn the tables. I gave you a quote from “Against Enomius” in which Gregory stated: “While the Church teaches that we must not divide our faith amongst a plurality of beings….” Now, if someone were to use your premise that you can’t talk about one authority when you’re mentioning another, they might then conclude that from this quote it looks like Gregory must not believe that Scripture is an infallible authority since he doesn’t mention Scripture as teaching him anything about the Trinity. Of course, you would be the first one to bring this doubter to “On the Soul and the Resurrection” to show him that Gregory did believe in the infallibility of Scripture, wouldn’t you James? Well, I’m doing the same thing, only in reverse.***

Bob, that’s some of the worst argumentation I’ve ever read. Think about what you are saying: “Well, sure, Gregory said Scripture is the canon and law of EVERY dogma, but hey, that’s just what he thought of Scripture. He must have thought just as highly of Tradition, even though I can’t say where he ever said that! And hey, he said the Church teaches something, so, that must mean that he believed the Church had infallible authority, too!” BTW, you again ignored the refutation of your exceedingly poor citations of patristic sources: I pointed out on that VERY passage that the teaching of the Church was derived FROM Scripture! Come on, Bob, can you even begin to engage a *serious* discussion of these passages, or is your precommittment to Rome *so* overwhelming that you can’t even see the contexts for what they say?

***The only thing the Church would pronounce “Black” that is “White,” is you. 🙂 ***

Touche! Nice touch. And, if Rome still had the authority, she’d turn me black, too, at the stake, as she did so many of my forefathers. Woops, sorry, you were being humorous, and I went and made a serious point of it. But, you must admit, this debate couldn’t have taken place a while back.

***Oh, the ol’ red herrings of Mr. White. There is no Catholic who would ever deny that Scripture is the “rule and law of every dogma” since none of the Church Fathers ever claim that the Church believes anything contrary to Scripture.***

That’s very nice, but again, your cavalier dismissal doesn’t work well. First, it is patently obvious that Rome doesn’t believe that: the Bodily Assumption of Mary is found neither in Scripture NOR historical “tradition,” hence, for Rome to utter such a phrase is to render all language meaningless. Second, it is a tautology to say that the early Fathers did not assert the Church believed anything contrary to Scripture: except when they were arguing with each other, at which time they would say the OTHER guy didn’t really represent “the” Church. The fact remains that we have here a statement of the *ultimate* (i.e., not shared by another) authority of Scripture, which is, again, the whole reason I cited the passage to begin with.

***If Scripture is not the rule and law of every dogma, then Scripture is not infallible, and therefore it is useless as an authority. As a matter of fact, James, that’s why we believe in Tradition – because the Scripture tells us to believe in it (2 Thessalonians 2:15). And until you find us a Scriptural command that rescinds the command in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, then we’re just going to go on taking Scripture at its word, because it is the “rule and law of every dogma.”***

I’m glad you believe that, Bob: unfortunately, Paul didn’t mention “Tradition” there, but instead refers to something already delivered to the Thessalonians in the preaching of Paul, and in his first epistle. As less strident RC apologists admit, Paul is referring to the gospel in this passage.

***Gregory shows us what this means in, for example, his remark to Eunomias:

“And if he [Eunomias] says that he has some of the saints who declared Him to be a slave, or created…..Let him, or some other on his behalf, produce to us one such phrase (and there could never be found in those inspired Scriptures which we believe any such thought as to support this impiety), what need is there to strive further upon points admitted with one who not only misrepresents the words of the saints, but even contends against his own definitions.” (Against Eunomias, Book III, 1).

Notice that Gregory uses Scripture to back up what the saints have taught, and dare says that we should not expect Scripture to disagree.***

Excuse me, Mr. Sungenis, but your ability to turn *any* statement from its meaning to a support of your thesis is most disturbing. Do you really mean to suggest to us all that it was Gregory’s thought here to make Scripture merely “back up” the words of “saints”? Gregory is here challenging Eunomias to provide FROM SCRIPTURE a basis for his heretical teaching. Remember, he had already said:


But if the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures is freely placed within the reach of all, and nothing is forbidden to or hidden from any of those who choose to share in the divine instruction, how comes it that he endeavours to lead his hearers astray by his misrepresentation of the Scriptures…


Again, the passage speaks of the Scriptures as the source of these truths, and he upbraid Eunomias for *misrepresenting* the Scriptures. I don’t know why you keep bringing up these passages, because they say the exact opposite of what you wish them to say!

***Since Eunomias is disagreeing with traditional Church teaching on the subject of the Trinity, of course Gregory is going to push Scripture as much as he can, because that is the only thing Eunomias listens to.***

Excuse me, but where does Gregory speak as you speak? You almost make it sound like Scripture is Gregory’s “back up plan” when the *real* authoritative teaching would be “traditional Church teaching.” Yet, it is obvious that Gregory believes that the Scriptures teach the eternality of Christ and that He is the creator of all things: the Church likewise teaches this, not as some separate “tradition” but exactly *because* the Scriptures, which are inspired, teach this.

***This is why Gregory says,

“…though Scripture itself gives them no ground for such opinions, they arm themselves against piety as though they drew their evidence from that source. Now since they can by no means show any passage of the Holy Scriptures which leads us to look upon the pre-temporal glory of the Only-begotten God….” (Ag Eunomias 3, 2)

Here Gregory shows us that Eunomias keeps quoting Scripture to prove his point, much like you do Mr. White, but never gets it correct. ***

Again, Robert, I have to wonder if you are reading one thing and posting something else. These are wonderful passages you are providing that prove the accuracy of my original citation! Gregory says that Scripture provides no grounds for Eunomias’ position—he doesn’t even mention “tradition” while saying that—and he says that Eunomias arms himself “against piety AS THOUGH they drew their evidence from that source.” See those words AS THOUGH, Bob? Gregory then says that they “can by NO MEANS show any passage of the Holy Scriptures….” Where does he say that Eunomias “keeps quoting Scripture to prove his point”? His point is that Eunomias CAN’T do that, since the Scriptures do not use the terminology he is proposing of Christ. And, you missed a rather important passage right before the one you cited:

Though we have spoken hurriedly of these matters, let the careful man read the original text of the Holy Scripture, and fit its dark sayings to our reflections, testing whether it is not far better to consider that the meaning of these dark sayings has this reference, and not that which is attributed to it at first sight (Ad Eunomias III, 2).

It sure seems to me that here Gregory invites that horrid thing called “private interpretation,” i.e., he invites the careful man to read the original text of Scripture and make a decision! Why would he do that? Why not just say, “The Pope has spoken, the case is decided, don’t ask further questions”?

***Gregory even chides Eunomias for saying that Enomias claims to “abide by those things which are known to us from the beginning…” (Ag Eunomias 3, 6) but yet now refuses to accept those things, and thus Eunomias tries in vain to argue his case from Scripture.***

The term “cut and paste” has been thrown around a lot. Here’s another example of it. In this chapter, Gregory says that “The divine Scripture knows how to use the word ‘Son’ in both senses….” The Scriptures KNOW how to do something? Fascinating thought. But, that point aside, it is next to impossible again to figure out how you can make the connections you do. Your snippet citation is so a-contextual as to boggle the mind. Here is what it really says:

But how does Eunomias, in the case of the divine doctrines at least—he who “preserves the natural order” (for I will use our author’s very words), “and abides by those things which are known to us from the beginning, and does not refuse to call Him that is begotten by the name of ‘product of generation,’ since the generated essence itself” (as he says), “and the appellation of ‘Son’ makes such a relation of words appropriate”….

How is that little snippet in the slightest relevant to this issue? What does “natural order” mean, then?

***As for Gregory showing us how much he values the tradition of Church teaching, it is obvious that Mr. White has never really read much of Gregory, for if he did, he wouldn’t make such a conclusion.***

Excuse me again, but, you have quoted a lot of stuff, but so far, haven’t even come *close* to providing a single meaningful reference in support of your contention, and yet you say *I* am not reading Gregory? Bob, I can read Gregory: you read Gregory with Roman colored glasses, and see all sorts of things that are not even close to being there.

***Here’s a rather obvious one: “Let [Eunomias] first show, then, that the Church has believed in vain that the Only-begotten Son truly exists, not made such through adoption by a Father falsely so-called, but existing as such according to nature, by generation from Him Who Is, not estranged from the nature of Him who begot Him…And let no one interrupt me and say that what we confess should be confirmed by constructive reasoning. It suffices for the proof of our statement that we have a tradition coming down to us from the Fathers, an inheritance as it were, by succession from the Apostles through the saints who came after them” (Jaeger Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Vol. 2, pp. 84-85).

Had enough, James, or should I give you more quotes?****

Well, we have certainly had enough to discover that context and an accurate reading of the basic language of Gregory is not something you seem to be either willing, or capable, of giving. I’m absolutely amazed at the willy-nilly, cut-and-paste, who-cares-about-context argumentation you have provided thus far! What is more, you cited that in yesterday’s e-mail, and I replied to it then.

***Because Gregory doesn’t believe in sola ecclesia, Mr. White. Gregory would never have accepted your caricature of the Church. Gregory, as is obvious by the quotes I mustered for you, believed in Church, Tradition and Scripture.****

That is surely your belief: you have, thus far, failed miserably to substantiate your assertion, at least in the manner you must to establish your anachronistic use of Gregory. He believed in the Church, obviously: but not in the way you do. The Church he believed in was subserviant to the Scriptures, and derived her faith therefrom, and then proclaimed, and passed on, that divine faith. As to “Tradition,” you have certainly used the phrase repeatedly, but we’ve found it to be an unwarranted insertion over and over again. And as for Scripture, yes, he believed it to be the canon and rule of EVERY dogma. Where he said that of the other two sources, well, you’ve yet to show us that quote.

***Typical of James to pick what he thinks is the weak link in the chain and then rest his case on it. But his words come back to bite him. By the way, James, I say “we make Scripture the canon and rule of EVERY dogma” every day, especially for people like you who will only listen to Scripture. As I said above, that’s why I believe in Tradition – because Scripture tells me to believe in it. So if in Tradition I find the doctrine of the Assumption, and if the Church (which Scripture also tells me is the pillar and foundation of truth), which has been around a lot longer than me, tells me that the Assumption was part of Tradition, shows me where this is found, and, by the way, also shows me where Scripture gives implicit witness to such an event, then I have a lot of evidence to confirm this belief. Otherwise, I’m just left with people like James White who seem to be telling me things contrary to Scripture (viz., that we are not to hold on to tradition, even though the Bible tells us so in 2 Thess 2:15).***

A tremendous example of sola ecclesia, Bob, thank you! One of the finest examples of arguing in a circle to avoid saying what you must say that I’ve seen in quite a while! The Assumption is not in Scripture. Nor is it in Tradition. That is a verifiable, historical fact. But, you demonstrate your true epistemological commitment to sola ecclesia by saying, “Well, if the Church (which is the pillar and foundation of the truth) tells me it is in Tradition, well, then it is, period!” Such an argument is so circular it is dizzying! Do you have an infallible definition of 1 Timothy 3:15, or are you giving us your personal opinion on that? You tell us you believe Scripture because Tradition tells you to: yet, you then tell us that you believe in tradition because Scripture commands you to (your misuse of 2 Thess 2:15 has already been addressed). Which is it? And you tell us that you know what is in Tradition only because the Church tells you what is there. Bob, the Bodily Assumption is not a part of the historical “tradition” of the patristic period. *Your own scholars admit this.* But you seem to close your eyes to this, rather tightly, and say, “Hey, if the Church says it, it must be so.” That’s sola ecclesia to the nth degree, Bob, and that alone refutes your assertion that *I* was misrepresenting the RC position above. Thank you for that glowing example.

***Get ready everyone! Here is a great moment in apologetic history: Mr. White is actually going to quote the context of the passage in question. Drum roll, please……….****

I imagine you think such comments are useful?

***Gee, and I was getting all excited when I heard the James was going to quote the context of the passage to prove his point. Darn!

How, pray tell, does this prove your argument, James?? Even if your assessment that Gregory is talking about “names” were correct [which it is not, because he’s talking about “being,” not “names”], are you suggesting that “the doctrine; whose traditions are constantly preserved in writing in the churches” (Against Eunomius, I:13, NPNF II, V:50) does not speak about the divine names? Gee, let me see: Gregory is writing between 335 and 394. How many Fathers, Greek or Latin, came before Gregory and spoke about the Trinity? Yes, about three dozen or so. Do you think perhaps there may be some information in those three dozen Fathers about the “names” of the persons of the Trinity? If you answered “yes” you are correct. There are volumes on this topic. And will they disagree with the divine names of Matthew 28:19? Not on your life.***

You miss the point yet again, Bob, but in doing so, prove mine. Thank you muchly. That means that the traditions referred to are sub-biblical teachings that are based upon the Scriptural revelation. Great! If you know the debate, you just destroyed any meaningful use of your favorite passage in 2 Thessalonians. I’ve given up trying to get you to see these things, but others can, and will.

***No, Gregory didn’t hold to “Sungenis’ understanding of authority” because Gregory didn’t know me. But that just proves the point even more for us. Even though Gregory did not have as well-defined an understanding of Tradition that the Church has since dogmatized at Trent, the fact remains that Gregory depends on this Tradition, on par with Scripture, even without a dogmatic statement from a Council like Trent. Where then is Gregory getting his sanction for depending so heavily on Tradition, if it wasn’t even dogmatized as yet? It just shows you that Tradition was part of the very fabric of his and the other Father’s thinking, without even being told by conciliar dogma.***

It is amazing that you can use Tradition like that without once finding it in Gregory in the context in which you use it. Truly amazing. Anyway, Gregory makes reference to the teaching of the Church: he does not make it revelatory, he does not make it inspired, he does not make it a canon, he does not make it a rule of EVERY DOGMA as he does Scripture. By now, that point is pretty plain to everyone who has bothered to slog through this discussion.

***I would suggest you use Greek letter in a file, rather than this gobbledegook.***

I did. I told you what font it uses. It is the commonly used font for use in Perseus, TLG, etc. I assumed you would have it on your system.

***Not so fast, partner! I will get this Migne reference from Joe Gallegos, and then we’ll see what the context is. If your analysis of the context is anything like you exhibited with the last quote from Gregory, then I’ll make sure I double-check it 🙂 By the way, though, I’m glad to see that you are really getting interested in context, so much so that you are even quoting the context. Remarkable. I guess I shouldn’t give up hope yet.***

If you need Sgreek, it is available for download at the Perseus. Here is the URL:

Once you have it, you won’t have to wait for Mr. Gallegos: you can see what the context says for yourself.

***But you took credit for it when you were speaking with John Betts, that is, without telling him that Don Kistler was the editor and that you only wrote one chapter.***

< sigh > There’s that ol’ deceptive James again, so stupid he’d claim he wrote the whole book when he wrote only one chapter.

***Just by the fact that you have to ask me that question shows that you either didn’t do your homework or that you are lacking in true scholarship, since both would have required you to tell the reader that Basil may not have been the author.***

I see. Well, 1) I knew it, and 2) does it follow that your use of an unverified secondary source without context above shows that you are lacking in true scholarship?

***And you’re telling me this for what reason……..?***

Too obvious to answer.

***Bogus alert!!! No, James. Doing what Basil (or Gregory) did, is not a “Protestant concept.” Protestants don’t begin arguments by stating that if they were to go to their tradition then they would win the argument and the discussion would be over. They begin by saying: “tradition may or may not be relevant here, but that is beside the point. It is not trustworthy, so let’s go to Scripture.” ****

Double bogus alert! Basil or Gregory did not such thing. That is your misreading of him, as I demonstrated.

***Trying to pick on the weak link in the chain, again, eh, James? How about if you answer me regarding where Scripture tells us to rescind the command of 2 Thessalonians 2:15, then we’ll debate Marian dogma.****

I’m sorry you don’t like to deal with that: but, it happens to be the best example Rome offers. Tell me, Bob, what newly defined dogmas would you like to discuss that have been dogmatized in, say, the past 200 years? Care to suggest some others, rather than Mary, since you seem hesitant to utilize them?

And, of course, that command has never been rescinded: but, since it refers to the gospel, and, since you can’t even BEGIN to make application of that passage to the Marian dogmas (since, of course, you’d then have to prove that Paul delivered those dogmas to the Thessalonians, and we all know that’s not the case), you seem to be blowing a rather large amount of smoke here.

***Wrong again, James. Read the second part of Basil’s statement. When Basil says, “If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them.” he IS declaring himself the winner based on tradition. Basil claims that as far as he’s concerned, if his opponent doesn’t accept the tradition that Basil brings to the argument, then Basil can simply reject his opponent. If that’s not winning, what is?***

Take off the Roman-colored glasses for a second, Bob. Think about it for just a moment. “The brethren over at Second Baptist think we should paint our building brown, since that is their way of doing things. But, our way of doing things is to paint it white. Now, if they don’t follow our way of doing things over there, obviously we don’t have to follow their way of doings things over here. Instead, let’s go to a higher source to decide.” So, you think that by saying that I’ve proclaimed “our way of doing things” the “winner”? Again, fascinating to anyone who has eyes, or ears, to hear.

The passage is indeed plain: both customs in Basil’s view are to be tested by a higher authority: God-inspired Scripture. Do you test your traditions in that way, Bob, just like Jesus commanded in Matthew 15?

***Gee, James, I really thought you were a cut above the Jack Chicks and the Dave Hunt’s of the world, but it looks like you’re not. You can get sanctimonious all you want, but you’re not impressing me one bit. You show me what else Basil means by “custom” or “tradition,” as I asked you above. By the way, I couldn’t help but notice that you DIDN’T tell us what you thought Basil meant by “custom.”***

Just decided I’d quote it to make sure everyone who reads it gets a real good dose of your style and mannerism.

***Oh, I guess you are so much smarter than Basil, then.***

My point, of course, was that I don’t appreciate people like you (and Karl Keating) undercutting the biblical testimony to the personality and deity of the Spirit of God just to provide a prop for your unbiblical traditions and claims for authority.

***Gee, I must have made an impression on Mr. White. Look, he’s going to the context yet again! Wonders never cease. I’ll bet this, however. I’ll bet its the first time Mr. White has ever read the context of Gregory’s statement.****

Again, your kindness is overwhelming. I hate to burst your bubble, but this passage is marked in rather old yellow marker in my set of Eerdman’s. Sorry to disappoint you so.

***Oh, James, you’re really beginning to annoy me with your petty objections***

I don’t doubt it, Bob. I’m sure your followers normally just take your word for it. Providing all this context and demonstrating that you are so horribly twisting the patristic sources is probably indeed annoying.

*** – the canned objections you seem to be using all the time, but have absolutely no weight behind them whatsoever, except to the ignorant which you prey on.***

There is a truly scholarly and weighty objection!

***First of all, you have some wild phantasmagoria of what I and the Catholic Church believe tradition to be. You paint it with all kinds of irrelevant caricatures and the like.***

Sorry, can’t do that. Nobody knows what tradition or Tradition or sacred tradition or Sacred Tradition is: Rome won’t say. YOU certainly don’t know. No one does. It is whatever is convenient for it to be at the time. So, it’s hard to caricature it, since it is always changing, always changeable. Obviously, Rome can put anything she wants in it (as she has done with the Marian dogmas): history is irrelevant to Rome at that point.

***The point remains, and it is a point you just can’t stomach, that Gregory referred to tradition and the saints as an authority to resolve the issue at hand. Gregory states: “….for it is enough for proof of our statement, that the tradition has come down to us from our fathers, handed on, like some inheritance, by succession from the apostles and the saints who came after them.” Stop quibbling about speculative and irrelevant material.***

Well, THAT is a tremendous response! “Stop quibbling about the context that determines what he’s doing! Just accept what I say!” Sorry, Bob, might work for some folks, doesn’t work for me.

***Again, this just show you don’t understand the issues, James, and I am beginning to doubt whether you are the best spokesman for this. Monogenes is just as much a part of Tradition as it is part of Scripture.***

I see: and who told you this? Is it a part of “Tradition” as in revelation? Or is it a part of “Tradition” because “Tradition” is sub-biblical and does not contain anything other than what is in Scripture?

***You seem to want to play this game of saying that if a proposition can be found in Scripture then this means that it either isn’t found in Tradition or that we don’t need Tradition. If you would stop playing the either/or game for just two seconds and realize that Tradition is never going to disagree with what Scripture says, then we can get somewhere. But you’ve made Tradition into a behemoth. ***

No, Rome did that. Didn’t need me. And yes: you keep quoting 2 Thess. 2:15. That’s your baggage, not mine. If the “oral tradition” of that passage contains nothing but what is in Scripture, then what is its use? And yes, proving over and over again that the term “tradition” in many of the Fathers was used to refer to beliefs that are derived from Scripture IS relevant.

***I challenge you to find me one doctrine in Catholic Tradition that disagrees with what Scripture teaches.***

There are many, Bob, as you know: but none you could possibly believe, since, as we’ve seen, you believe in sola ecclesia. The Church interprets both Scripture and “Tradition” for you: hence, the game is rigged from the start. No matter what I show you, you just say, “Nope, the Church says it means this.” We’ll see you prove me right on that observation in these words:

***Because Gregory and the rest of the Fathers view the Church as their authority both to tell them what Scripture is and what Scripture says. Do you deny this? If so, show me where one Father ever says that he is going to go against what the Church teaches and will rest his case with the Scripture alone. Just one, James.***

Again, you can’t possibly accept any passage that demonstrates that any early Father believed the Scriptures to be the ultimate authority, guiding and informing the Church (not the other way around). We’ve already seen that in the mental gymnastics you have used to get around every single passage presented thus far. You are told to believe that these men believed in sola ecclesia as you do: and so you see them believing that, whether they did or didn’t. You may be so entrapped you can’t see this, but it is glaringly obvious to everyone else.

***Yes, but as said before, it doesn’t matter whether you did or did not suggest it. You are not the criterion for evaluation, Gregory is. Let me say it again: sola scriptura inevitably means that the Church and Tradition are not authorities on par with Scripture, and cannot be ultimately depended upon to enlighten us as to what Scripture means.***

If you mean “ultimately” as in “infallibly,” quite true. If you mean “ultimately” as in “ever, or normatively,” with reference to the Church, false.

***That being the case, if you are going to claim that a certain Father is teaching the doctrine of sola scriptura, you’re going to have to show us where the Father says something even close to what I just stated sola scriptura to be.***

Hello, Bob, again: I quote these passages to demonstrate that these men did not believe as you believe. They were not engaged in our debate. I said that before, remember? Please hear it this time. It is YOUR burden to prove, not assume, that they held to YOUR viewpoint, which includes YOUR concepts of “Tradition” and YOUR concepts of an infallible, authoritative Church centered in the single person of the bishop of Rome. You ASSUME that constantly: but *proving* that is a completely different issue.

***Cease giving us quotes where the Father merely extols the virtue, accessibility and quality of Scripture. I have no problem with those dimensions. Give me a quote in which the Father uplifts Scripture as his ultimate authority in the context in which he demotes the Church and Tradition as his ultimate authority. Then I’ll leave you alone, I promise.***

The very first passage we started with makes the Scripture ALONE the canon and rule of EVERY dogma. I reject your implicit elevation of “Church and Tradition” so as to force me to show someone “demoting” them from a position they didn’t have in the first place.

***Just as I suspected. Mr. White can’t find a Father who does what I suggested above. I rest my case. You would think that if there were a Father or Fathers who did, that Mr. White would just be lavishing us with every reference from every Father. But no. What do we get? The same refried beans he gave us earlier. All you’ve done is convince me even more of where I stand. Congratulations, Mr. White, for confirming my faith in the Catholic Church.***

That old crutch, Bob? That doesn’t even work when the LDS missionaries use it. Those are the words of a person who can’t come up with an answer. You CAN’T find Gregory using those terms of anything but Scripture, and you KNOW it.

***I already did that in this letter. He shows that the Church, and its Tradition alongside, is the ultimate authority for every dogma.***

Where? You’ve not cited a SINGLE passage that even BEGINS to make such an assertion? Where is it? Where does Gregory use the term canon, or rule, of Tradition? Where does he speak of dogma? Where does he use MONOS, Mr. Sungenis? I asked these questions before: you deleted them. Where, Bob? You know you can’t find it, it doesn’t exist.

*** I suggest you read them again. Here’s one, in case you forgot: “for it is enough for proof of our statement, that the tradition has come down to us from our fathers, handed on, like some inheritance, by succession from the apostles and the saints who came after them.” Notice that he says “proof,” Mr. White. The proof of his doctrine comes from “the fathers” (something you deny), from “succession from the apostles” (something you deny), “and the saints who came after them” (something you deny). Do you see anything here about “Scripture alone,” Mr. White??****

Again, you have to ignore the full context, as provided, as you did above, where you ran from it while throwing sand in the air but ignoring the issue: the context speaks of the sub-biblical use of terms IN SCRIPTURE. Such in no way, shape, or form 1) vitiates his statement that began this discussion, nor 2) substantiates the huge edifice of anachronistic medieval theology you attempt to place upon it.

Now, you then graciously provided me with a lengthy excerpt from your book. I really didn’t need it, I own the work. But, you ended with a passage that so clearly captures the kindness, fairness, and maturity of your work, that I felt it had to close this chapter in our discussions, for, I can tell you this, I have no intention of wasting more time with someone who writes like this:

***The only time I like beating somebody up is when they have such a cocky attitude to go along with their ignorance. I’m sure Art and John will be more than satisfied that I have sunk you deeper into the hole than you already were.

I will, however, give you an olive leaf, James, when you show me that you want one.***


Well, I thought that would be the end.  But, the debate mentioned above took place on Long Island on May 6th.  That resulted in some fascinating unsolicited e-mails.  Then, around the beginning of June, the following correspondence was forwarded to me.  Since it demonstrated that the attitude seen in the preceding materials continues on, and is not, as Mr. Sungenis has attempted to suggest, just an aberration, it is useful to examine.  Click Here for the continuation of the saga…


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