Saturday, January 17, 2009

Latria/Dulia Debate with GNRHead

Mr. Lane Chaplin, who moderated the Latria/Dulia Debate that I had with GNRHead has very kindly hosted it as a full-length video.

In case you would like to follow along by reading the debate, Matthew Lankford has kindly provided a transcript, to which I have made a few minor edits. If anyone sees ways that the transcript can be improved, please let me know.


Lane Chaplin: Welcome to the Latria-Dulia Debate. Our debate today will attempt to answer the following:

Can dulia and proskuneo be used in a Religious context without being worship?

Our debaters today are William Albrecht taking the affirmative position and TurretinFan taking the negative.

William Albrecht is currently a Catholic Apologist and the webmaster of the Catholic Legate apologetics organization. William was raised into a non-religious practicing household and eventually became a Protestant. After much studying and the undertaking of a religious career William converted to the Catholic faith close to seven years ago. His contact information is or

TurretinFan is a Reformed apologist who operates the blog Thoughts of Francis Turretin. His only relevant qualifications is that he is a believer with a Bible. He makes no claims of being anyone particularly important and he debates pseudonymously in hopes of drawing the attention away form himself. His contact information is and he occasionally posts on

My name is Lane Chaplin and I will be moderating this debate. The debate will last about an hour in length and will follow the following format:

There will be a first Affirmative Constructive by Albrecht, which will be seven minutes.
A Cross Ex[amination] of the Affirmative by the Negative position, which is three minutes.
One Negative Constructive by Turretin[Fan] which will be eight minutes.
A Cross Ex[amination] of the Negative by the Affermative, which will be three minutes.
One Affirmative Rebuttal, which will be four minutes.
Negative Rebuttal, which will be seven minutes.
And a Second Affirmative Rebuttal, which will be four [minutes].

We do ask each debater to please refrain from making any comments or audible gestures during the opponents allotted time. This will not only show respect for your opponent during this endeavor, it will also allow for there to be meaningful discussion on both ends of this debate. And, as always, if your favorite debater makes a point you agree with audience please hold your applause until the end of his allotted time (heh).

Now we begin with the first Affirmative Construction by Mister Albrecht. Mister Albrecht you have seven minutes; I'll begin the clock when you begin.

[≈ 2.40]

William Albrecht: Alright from the get go, I'd like to say God bless both to Lane and to Turretin[Fan] for making this happen. And let's get down to the issues now.

The contention that I've been hearing from my Protestant brethren is that there simply is no Biblical distinction between latria and dulia in the terms of religious context. Well, the fact of the matter is, what I'm asserting is that dulia and latria are two distinct words -- used differently at times. Sure dulia is and should always be rendered to God, but it's also shown as being rendered elsewhere in references that are not directed towards God. Latria is never shown as proper towards anyone other than God -- and that is clear. But dulia is different. Of course, it should be rendered to God, of course, its service and we are to obey and serve our God -- that is clear. To me, it seems like a silly qualifier to claim that dulia can be given to mankind, but it's never shown as given to mankind in a religious context. This entails our Protestant brethren to begin to claim that since Catholics do give dulia to the Saints, that it is in a religious manner, this then leads them to say that we offer them worship, since this form of dulia is in the religious form. To me, it seems like a game of words that can be confusing to some that don't know the real issues. The reason I believe that AOMin. has to set up this task to set up this false interpretation of Biblical words is because it then allows them to say that dulia is, indeed, [a word?] used toward mankind, but never in a religious context. What AOMin. means to say is that dulia is never used toward mankind in a worship context as it is of God in the Old Testament. We would not argue with that, we do not contend, that we give the religious dulia to Mary -- that amounts to worship -- or to any Saint for that matter. These word games could confuse some, but once examined they seem anything but serious. They are silly little word games that attempt to confuse the mind of the individual. It is also contended that proskuneo, when used in a religious context, is always worship. Therefore, according to AOMin. this all amounts to Catholics worshiping Mary and the other Saints. We'll examine a bit more to see how these claims simply do not hold water. Upon the examination of the Friberg Lexicon, the the Barclay-Newman Greek Dictionary, [inaudible] Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon, and Thayer's Greek Lexicon we see that dulia can be given to mankind and never do we have the qualifier that AOMin. has seemingly adopted from John Calvin. Moving forward, the one Lexicon that Mister White of AOMin. did bring up, the BDA&G, to support his position of not mentioning a distinction, surely does. In fact the BDA&G tells us that dulia is used in many aspects of the Christian life including aspects that are tied in with the religious. Moving forward, the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines latria as such:

"As contrasted with dulia, that fullness of Divine worship which may be paid to God alone."

A Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott tells us "The veneration of the Saints is called absolute dulia. The Council of Trent declared in connection with the veneration of Saints, that through images we honor the Saints which they represent."

[this section could be continued as part of the quote] As regards to invocation of the Saints, the council declared:

[this section could be continued as part of the quote too] "It is good and profitable to appeal to help from them."

This can be found on page three hundred and nineteen of Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma from Ott.

The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia defines dulia as such:

"[...]a theological term signifying the honour paid to the saints, while latria means worship given to God alone[...]" [link:]

Then we move on and we've got The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia which tells us of latria [link:] that it is worship called forth by God and given exclusively to Him as God, which is designated by the Greek term latreuo.

So, everywhere you turn you see the clear distinction to the two terms and never the qualifier that we see certain Protestant individuals injecting. And in order to pretty much lay the ground work I've mentioned a couple of lexicons, Greek dictionaries, and I've also defined the terms as put forth by the Catholic encyclopedias.

Okay, that will be it for my opening statement.

[≈ 6:55]

Lane Chaplin: Okay, Turretin[Fan] you have three minutes for cross-examining William.

TurretinFan: Mister Albrecht, do you see any Biblical passage in which latria and dulia are distinguished?

William Albrecht: In which latria and dulia are distinguished? Absolutely. Are you asking me passages in which they both appear?

TurretinFan: No, I guess what I'm asking is this: Is there some passage out there where Scripture says it's okay to give latria to God, but it's not okay to give latria to men?

William Albrecht: Are you referring to the fact that... I'm not quite understanding... Are you trying to ask me to approach this from a theological perspective? Or do you want me to pull out a Biblical passage, which uses both terms and distinguishes between them? I don't quite understand the question.

TurretinFan: Well, the question, I guess, is getting to whether or not the theological position that your advocating is a theological position derived from Scripture. My contention is that it is not... But I'd like to know if you believe there is some Scripture passage, which, in effect, says it's okay to give dulia to men. [question]

William Albrecht: Oh, okay. I understand it a little bit clearer now. Absolutely. I believe that you are of the persuasion... You do believe it is alright to give dulia to man, right? You just don't believe it is right to give dulia in the form of a religious context. Am I correct?

TurretinFan: Well, yes, of course, I'm not saying that it's improper for servants to give service to their masters. What I'm... What I'm asking for is somewhere where the Bibles making the theological distinction that your making.

William Albrecht: You mean that dulia can be... can be used toward mankind in a religious context? Would you like me to show you an example?

TurretinFan: Sure, yeah, please provide an example.

William Albrecht: Well, it's not my cross-examination and I can't ask you a question. I'll simply (pose/post) Galatians, chapter five, verses thirteen to fourteen [Galatians 5:13-14] and I will assert that the Greek term douleuo is used in a religious context in this verse and it is indeed used toward mankind.

TurretinFan: In Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen [Galatians 5:13-14], the verse states:

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."

Are you suggesting that this says we can serve one another in this lifetime using douleuo?

William Albrecht: Absolutely.

[≈ 10:00]

Lane Chaplin: Ok, that's the end of the first cross examination. Now we'll have a negative construct by Turretin[Fan], which consists of eight minutes.

[≈ 10:14]

TurretinFan: The debate today is about whether the distinction that modern Catholicism presents between latria and dulia is Biblical or medieval in origin. Where does it come from? I would respectfully submit to you that it is not Biblical. It is a philosophical innovation designed to defend a pagan practice that was introduced into churches [?] after the time of the Apostles.

What I'll do in this speech is:
First, state the position of the Vatican.
Second, contrast that with the Biblical position.
And third, answer Mister Albrecht's arguments.

Catholicism's Position Stated

Although Mister Albrecht provided some definitions of Rome's position [?], allow me to provide what I think is a little clearer explanation. Rome's position is well summarized by philosopher, theologian, Thomas Aquinas, who wrote:

"Since "latria" is due to God alone, it is not due to a creature so far as we venerate a creature for its own sake. For though insensible creatures are not capable of being venerated for their own sake, yet the rational creature is capable of being venerated for its own sake. Consequently the worship of "latria" is not due to any mere rational creature for its own sake. Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of "latria" is not due to her, but only that of "dulia": but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of "dulia" is due to her, but "hyperdulia.""

This quotation provides the framework: "Latria" which is for God alone. "Hyper-dulia" which is for Mary alone. And "dulia" which is for the Saints. Of course, dulia can also be offered to God, but for the purposes of this discussion, we're focusing on the fact that it is offered to the Saints.

In English this distinction is sometimes expressed in the difference between worship or adoration and veneration. Adoration and worship corresponding to latria and veneration corresponding to dulia. Moving on to the second point.

The Biblical Testimony

This threefold framework is not taught in Scripture. Scripture generally teaches that all religious adoration and veneration is due to God alone. Thus, we, Reformed Christians, do not religiously venerate one another or anyone but God alone. Both the Old and New Testaments agree. Deuteronomy five (Deuteronomy 5) states:

"Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments."

Someone might point out that the word "alone" is not in the text. Fair enough. Scripture also gets more specific and more clear. Matthew four (Matthew 4) states:

"Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

The same account may be found in Luke's Gospel. But this was not new to the New Testament.
Christ is referencing the Bible to establish this doctrinal position -- that only God should receive religious adoration or veneration. Notice that Jesus doesn't rely on his own authority in rebuking Satan, but says "for it is written[...]" These same themes can be seen in the Old Testament.
First, first Samuel states, in chapter seven (1 Samuel 7):

"And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."

Scripture provides no exceptions for men to adore or venerate religiously someone or something other than God with a lesser form of religious adoration.

Having seen these two positions let us, in the third place, examine Mister Albrecht's case.
Mister Albrecht argues that latria and dulia are two different words. Well, not of course the Latin words, but the corresponding Greek words. We agree. We agree that they are different words. Latria is generally used of worship. And dulia can refer not only to worship, but also to a very high degree of service, such as slavery. The question is not whether the Greek words have different definitions in the Greek lexicons, but whether Scripture provides a basis for Rome's claims. It does not. Mister Albrecht also makes reference to [BDA&G] lexicon in support of his position, but again that lexicon and the other lexicons that were mentioned don't state that the latria-dulia distinction -- the philosophical distinction-- the question we're arguing about -- is inherent in the Greek. And, in fact, it isn't inherent in the Greek, as noted above, it's a medieval innovation -- this drawing a distinction between latria and dulia, as far as dulia being acceptable form of veneration for humans is something that didn't exist in Biblical times -- it's not a classical Greek concept that imported it in. Instead, it's a philosophical device to justify what's been done.

Additionally, during cross examination, Mister Albrecht cited to Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen (Galatians 5:13-14) Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen (Galatians 5:13-14) states,

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Now, seeing in context what's stated there we can see the fulfillment of Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen, has nothing at all to do with the idea of kneeling down before icons or statues, lighting incense and candles; it has to do with showing practical love to the brethren. It has... An example would be the Good Samaritan, he's someone who loved his neighbor. This is the kind of thing [?] Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen talks about. It's not talking about the religious context of dulia that's used in the Vatican's theology. Consequently Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen, can't provide support for the distinction that's been presented. Accordingly, we are left with the, just the, Scriptural position, already stated, which is 'that we can serve God only'. Religious veneration, religious adoration, these things are for God only.

[≈ 18:00]

TurretinFan: And when we give them to anyone except for God we are in violation of the word of God and therefore in sin.

I'm not ready for cross examination.

Lane Chaplin: Okay, thank you for that Turretin[Fan] we will now have a cross examination with Mister Albrecht cross examining TurretinFan. You have three minutes you may begin when you are ready.

William Albrecht: Okay. My contention is that latria and dulia are two distinct words. I'm aware that you also agree with such, but you place a qualifier that dulia can never be used in a religious context towards mankind. Now, as such is the case,can you please explain to me why Galatians chapter five, verses thirteen or [?] fourteen, tells us to serve one another in love (using the the second person, plural form of douleuo). I believe love being the chief religious context of the whole New Testament; and this simply doesn't get more religious than this, Tur, being used in a religious context.

TurretinFan: Well, yes, I think the answer is that the 'loving our neighbor as our self' is fulfillment of the second table of the Law. And the example I gave in my last speech about the Good Samaritan with the example how someone could serve another person without it being in a religious context. Of course, if you make all of life, which should all be about obedience, if we should make all of life a religious context, means that the word 'religious' has lost its sense.

William Albrecht: I would agree with you, but it's clearly being used in a religious context in Galatians five verse thirteen, fourteen, at least that is what I would contend. I would... I would like to ask you another question. Your contention is also is that the word proskuneo cannot be used in a religious context towards mankind, because each time it is worship. Is that your contention?

TurretinFan: Well, with my contention with regard to proskuneo is that Jesus Himself said that we should only serve God, so that's the basis for my contention.

William Albrecht: So you would...

TurretinFan: But

William Albrecht: Ok, excuse me, excuse me...

TurretinFan: But, yes, I do understand the word, that word has a broad semantic range. So, for example it can mean to stoop, or to duck down, and to bow before someone. So you see some people bowing before kings, for example. And in Acts seven, seven (Acts 7:7), with which you're familiar, you see someone bowing before a centurion, to provide another example. It's possible for people to do this without it being involved in a religious context.

William Albrecht: Okay, well, how would you interpret one Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty [1 Chronicles 29:20)]? Which reads:

"[...]they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king."

Is not the third person form of proskuneo used here?

And would you contend that that is not in a religious context?

TurretinFan: Well, there were a lot of "not"s in there, but the word proskuneo is used, the appropriate form of the word, as you described. But the, the question, the interesting thing, is that it is used equally of God and of the King. So, the first question I would want to know is whether God and the king there are two different people or if God is being described both as the LORD and as the King.

[≈ 21:30]

Lane Chaplin: Okay, this ends our second cross examination session. Mr. Albrecht you'll now have a four minute affirmative rebuttal. You may begin when you are ready.

[≈ 21:45]

William Albrecht: Alright, I think what we find here is, we find TurretinFan's, as well as anybody else who uses the arguments, in a bit of a bind here, because they've got to try to read away the plain meaning of Scripture. I've used Galatians chapter five verse thirteen to fourteen, [Galatians 5:13-14] which uses douleuo in a religious context. It shows us that we can serve one another in love; love being the chief religious context of the whole New Testament. It simply doesn't get any more religious than this. I would imagine love to be the most important Biblical concept of the Bible. We read in Matthew chapter twenty-two, verses thirty-six to forty [Matthew 22:36-40], that love is what encompasses the greatest commandments. And in Romans thirteen, nine to ten, [Romans 13:9-10], love is the fulfillment of the whole Law. So, it is a theme that cannot be escaped. It doesn't get any more religious than this. Even Galatians chapter five, verse six, [Galatians 5:6] tells us that the only thing that matters is faith working through love.

Moving on, I then posed one Chronicles chapter twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20] to TurretinFan, which, indeed, does use proskuneo here in a religious context. And what is most interesting about this passage is the clear evidence that the whole assembly falls to bow and worship God, but they also bow in (reverence/reference?) to the king. I'm not sure if TurretinFan actually read the passage, I'm sure he's read it before, he probably, maybe, didn't read it at this moment, because he erroneously, I don't know if he asserted or was questioning, whether the bowing down and the proskuneo was given to the LORD and the LORD was the King as well. Well, the fact of the matter is, the direct reading is in reference to the LORD and to the king. Therefore the proskuneo that is used here is used in a religious context towards a man.

Moving fourth I would simply disagree with lexicons and dictionaries that Turretin[Fan] basically asserts that they do not use the distinction that I am speaking of and I would suggest that he read those lexicons and dictionaries again, because they do speak (on/of/about) all of the different usages. So, I would disagree with him there and I would suggest that he read those that I had mentioned.

Turretin[Fan] also argues 'this distinction which I have shown is not Biblical, because of the fact that Catholics kneel before statues and light incense and candles' -- it is simply a caricature of the Catholic position to basically say that we have reduced all of these terms and the meanings to this kneeling down and lighting incense and candles -- it's simply much more than that. And those words that he said were nearly exactly the words that I've heard from other people use. It's an argument that's used over and over. The simple fact of the matter is douleuo is used in a religious context toward mankind and proskuneo is used in a religious context toward mankind as well. This is Biblical it can be shown in the Greek. And I, I believe if Turretin[Fan] cannot find a way to answer Galatians chapter five, verse thirteen to fourteen, [Galatians 5:13-14] away, or one Chronicles chapter twenty-nine, verse twenty, he is in a bit of a bind. There are, indeed, more passages that do use these terms and I believe that I can find more passages that use these terms in a religious context, but I'm particularly, I'm holding myself to use these terms at this moment. And I think if he can't... I truly believe Galatians chapter five, verse thirteen to fourteen, [Galatians 5:13-14] is a clear religious context. Therefore, I believe the definitions the Catholic church gives these two terms are, indeed, Biblical and I believe they are sound with the Christian faith.

[≈ 25:15]

Lane Chaplin: Okay, thank you Mister Albrecht. TurretinFan you now have seven minutes for a rebuttal.

[≈ 25.22]

[≈ 25.26]

TurretinFan: Alright, I will now try to sum up this debate and explain why I continue to believe that religious adoration and religious veneration should be given to God only. Albrecht keeps seeming to try to push the burden on me to prove that Scriptural point, which I've already made, that as Jesus has said that we should serve and worship God only. He seems to be pushing it back on me to show that there isn't a distinction. Of course, my position here is the negative; he is the affirmative and the initial burden of proof for the case, for this distinction, is on him. If he wants to use Scripture to prove his point -- and he relied on a few Scriptural verses in his last speech -- then its on him to show that those verses that he's relying on actually demonstrate the point he's trying to make.

Let's address the contentions he made. First, the contention from Galatians. He states: 'It doesn't get any more' ... 'that something doesn't get any more religious than love'. And that's interesting, but love should mark our whole life. I don't think Mister Albrecht disagrees. And, in fact, because love if the fulfillment of the Law, and our whole live must be a life of obedience to God, this would mean that our whole life was a religious context, and in short, the qualification that its a religious context is simply a meaningless qualification. But if Mister Albrecht is saying that, then it becomes clear why he doesn't see the Reformed position yet. The Reformed position is that the religious context has to do with, you know, things like church. It's maybe a little hard to put our fingers on it, if someones trying to tell us our whole life is a religious context, but I think that Mister Albrecht sees the difference between what he does in church and what he does at his work -- (or) at his office. In any event, we can move on from that, because his contention has just been very general. There's nothing in Galatians, the verse that he cited, that set out dulia in a religious context; it just sets it out in the context of life.

Moving on to the first Chronicles (1 Chronicles) passage. Mister Albrecht had cited first Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20], but this verse doesn't help him much. Why not? Because, for one thing, there's no distinction made between latria and dulia there. It's not as though they give latria to God and dulia to the king. Even worse, for Mister Albrecht's position, the verse just reports that the people did this -- it doesn't condemn it -- it doesn't condone it -- it just reports it. So, even assuming that the verse said that the -- that king David was the king here -- that was being referenced -- and that they did bow down to king David, they did exactly the same thing they did to king David as they did to the LORD, which wouldn't support the idea of a distinction at all. It would simply point out that they were doing the same thing to both. The, of course, it is possible the people recognized the distinction and that the people were doing one thing to the king and another thing to God. It's very interesting that the Greek here uses a construction such that both the LORD and the king can be the same person; there's an article used before the LORD and there's and article used before the king, but it doesn't specify king David and it doesn't force it to be a reference to king David, so there's some ambiguity there -- it's not a black and white case. Look, this same construction using an article before both is, is found in John twenty, twenty-eight [John 20:28] where Thomas, where Thomas answers and says 'My LORD and my God' -- in that case, there's... it's not expressed in English, but the article is there before both "LORD" and "God." And so, although, of course, Thomas is talking about just one person. So, the fact that the word "and" is used there isn't inclusive. What's very interesting is the Vulgate -- of course, the Vulgate takes the position that they are two different people -- but the Vulgate adds in a word and (says/said) 'they bowed to God and then to the king' which suggests they were engaging in two different activities. But, nevertheless, as I already mentioned in my cross examination, bowing down before a king is one kind of respect that we can show that's different from respect in a religious context. It's unclear how Mister Albrecht believes that this religious context is applied to king David. As far as I know, there isn't any teaching in Aquinas that we are to give religious dulia to living, or excuse me, to non-glorified human beings. In fact, it's sort of unclear to me why either Galatians or first Chronicles [1 Chronicles] is being cited as an example of why would we, why we would give dulia to Mary or the Saints, because, of course, these are both examples of what were [?] being given to living people -- people in this life -- before they're glorified. David, in fact, is a sinful man and God wouldn't allow David to build the temple, but, apparently, if we understood the argument that's made from first Chronicles verse twenty-nine, twenty [1 Chronicles 29:20] -- it's being suggested that religious dulia is appropriate for such a sinful man. This doesn't seem to be fully consistent with the doctrines of Catholicism. It leaves me somewhat confused, but the bottom line is this: we haven't seen from Scripture a distinction where Scripture approves, or condones, the religious veneration of departed believers. It doesn't approve, or condone, the religious veneration of Mary. In fact, it doesn't provide even one example, in the whole of Scripture, of anyone giving religious veneration to Mary. It doesn't give even one example in all of Scripture of religious veneration being given to the Saints -- once they're departed from this life. Even if we would grant that Galatians permits religious veneration in this life, which is, which is not [inaudible] something [inaudible] say that all of our life, or to say that love is very important and it doesn't get an more religious than love, then we've shown that love is a requirement for all of our life. But, in any event, based on these illustrations from the verses that have been cited, I would respectfully submit that no case for a distinction between latria and dulia, in a religious context, has been established.

[≈ 32:37]

Lane Chaplin: Okay, thank you TurretinFan. Mister Albrecht you'll have the last rebuttal session and this will be four minutes you may begin when you're ready.

[≈ 32:47]

[≈ 32:49]

William Albrecht: Alright. In conclusion, we find that the Catholic claims are once again vindicated by Scripture. I wish we would have been able to delve into the early church, where I believe the Catholic ever so powerful also. But it was important that we were able to stick mainly to the Scriptures. We see that latria and dulia are two distinct words. What we also see that the usage of dulia in a religious context does not equal that of worship. The cold hard facts are there. The Bible distinguishes between latria and between dulia. Dulia can and is and always should be used in a worship context when referring to God. Latria, no doubt, is to be directed to God and to God alone. But dulia is also shown to be proper [?] towards mankind. Even if one sets up the false parameters of a religious context -- dulia is still offered to men. The same can be said of proskuneo as well. And to briefly touch upon something I, some comments that Turretin[Fan] made -- he says that Jesus does say that we should serve and worship God only. And that is also the Catholic position, which I have already shown in the Bible. Douleuo in Galatians chapter five, verse thirteen to fourteen, [Galatians 5:13-14] is used toward mankind -- it is in a religious context. And as far as me not understanding the Reformed position as Turretin[Fan] claims, I'd rather stick to the Biblical position, which is as I have already shown several times proskuneo and dulia are used toward mankind in a religious context. In one Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20] TurretinFan briefly attempted to deal with it. He... He said this was intended -- that this did not deal with latria and dulia. Well, I was specifically dealing with the Greek term proskuneo, which is used in the Septuagint rendering of one Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20] and I, indeed, showed how this term is used in a religious context. I would contend that Turretin[Fan] is incorrect about the Greek being clear -- clearly referencing somebody else; I think that the whole context is clear that this is in reference to the king. The passage in... [?] the passage is also mentioned in the Matthew Henry commentary -- pointed out that this is in reference to the God and to the king -- and the Matthew Henry commentary is far from a Catholic commentary. And I believe the passage that [?] TurretinFan brought up in John chapter twenty, verse twenty-eight, [John 20:28] where Thomas calls Christ his LORD and his God -- in the Greek we literally read and we are able to tell that he is calling Him his LORD and his God -- the LORD of him and the God of him. The Greek construct is completely different as I, I just looked at it right now -- and the passage in John is clear that this is in reference to Christ being his LORD and his God. Therefore, Turretin[fan] has shown that in order to try and answer away a religious context, as I have shown, he must try and answer away a passage or try to claim the passage has some ambiguity. But I believe clearly that one Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20] is in clear reference to a religious context given to, to mankind as well. Someone would not be able to contend that proskuneo is never offered to anyone in a religious context. We would agree that proskuneo is never given to mankind in a worship sense -- ever -- it is not acceptable. But to claim that all religious context in the Bible deal with worship is simply plain silly. This is a religious context and the people are not worshiping the king in any sense whatsoever. They bow down before God and offer respect to the king. To me, it doesn't get any more of a religious context than this -- context-wise of course. So, it's important to understand the way a Catholic worships God and God alone and gives honor and respect to the Saints. No Saint usurps the role of God in the Catholic faith. And I believe this debate is very important, because it, if anything helps us understand our positions in a clearer fashion. And [?] any debate is profitable. And I would like to end by saying God bless and I really appreciate this debate and I think its been very helpful.

[≈ 36:38]

[≈ 36:40]

Lane Chaplin: Thank you for that Mister Albrecht. This now concludes the Latria-Dulia debate with Mister William Albrecht and TurretinFan of Thank you Mister Albrecht and TurretinFan for taking the time to debate the issues today. My name is Lane Chaplin, thank you for listening.

[end @ 37:08]


Thanks very much to Lane and Matthew for their assistance, and to Mr. Albrecht for debating this important issue.

Enjoy! And may God be glorified!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Child Discipline Conversation

Recently, in a computer chatroom, I had a conversation about child discipline. Someone started the topic by asking what a "rod" should be in terms of giving the "rod of correction" to a 16 month old child. I started providing some of the caveats that really need to be given, such as that (1) it must be for the child's good, not to satisfy one's own anger; (2) the severity of the chastisement must be tailored to the child's age / personality and the offense; (3) the discipline provided must be consistent; and (4) the punishment must follow as soon as practical upon the infraction. Those things said, the "rod" is the general term for any means of measured, reasonable physical correction: aka corporal discipline.

About this time in the conversation, someone jumped in who had fairly strong opinions on the topic. He (I say, "he" because I don't know whether this person was a man, woman, or child) jumped in to argue against using the rod.

His first argument was, "My parents didn't use the rod on me, and I turned out fine." (I am paraphrasing throughout this discussion)

I tried to steer the conversation back to Scripture, but I was surprised (it was a Christian chatroom after all) to find that the person wasn't much interested in what Scripture had to say about the topic. Instead, the person seemed to think the idea of spanking children was barbaric, and the Scriptural testimony was largely irrelevant.

I say "seemed to think" because he wouldn't really say what he thought about the Bible, even after being asked about a dozen times. Instead, he got increasingly hostile, eventually telling folks in the chatroom that they shouldn't reproduce and that if they'd give him their addresses he'd come over and neuter them!

When he got too insulting, he got kicked from the room (not by me), but it was an interesting experience.

The most painful irony was the fact that the guy tried to argue from his experience at the beginning, but at the end I think the crowd probably was thinking to themselves that this guy was someone who would have benefited from having his hide tanned when he was younger.

I don't mean to make it personally about this guy. It really shouldn't be that way. There are much more gracious and temperate anti-rod folk out there. Ultimately, though, they cannot make a Biblical case for their position. That's because in Scripture, corporal discipline (spanking one's children) is the norm.

That doesn't mean we have resort to the rod as the very first resort in every case, while trying to inflict a maximum amount of pain. That's a caricature. On the other hand, what the Bible tells us is that a loving father physically disciplines his son, while a foolish father coddles his son.

There are some people that try to interpret the "rod" as being things like "time outs" and revoking privileges - but believers have consistently interpreted Scripture to mean actually, you know, giving your son a few whacks with a wooden stick. Here's what one ancient commentator wrote:

Sirach 30:1-13
1 He that loveth his son causeth him oft to feel the rod, that he may have joy of him in the end. 2 He that chastiseth his son shall have joy in him, and shall rejoice of him among his acquaintance. 3 He that teacheth his son grieveth the enemy: and before his friends he shall rejoice of him. 4 Though his father die, yet he is as though he were not dead: for he hath left one behind him that is like himself. 5 While he lived, he saw and rejoiced in him: and when he died, he was not sorrowful. 6 He left behind him an avenger against his enemies, and one that shall requite kindness to his friends. 7 He that maketh too much of his son shall bind up his wounds; and his bowels will be troubled at every cry.
8 An horse not broken becometh headstrong: and a child left to himself will be wilful. 9 Cocker thy child, and he shall make thee afraid: play with him, and he will bring thee to heaviness. 10 Laugh not with him, lest thou have sorrow with him, and lest thou gnash thy teeth in the end. 11 Give him no liberty in his youth, and wink not at his follies. 12 Bow down his neck while he is young, and beat him on the sides while he is a child, lest he wax stubborn, and be disobedient unto thee, and so bring sorrow to thine heart. 13 Chastise thy son, and hold him to labour, lest his lewd behaviour be an offence unto thee.

This may be a little extreme: "no liberty" seems to be excessive. The point is that this ancient (perhaps 2nd or 3rd century before Christ) commentary clearly understood the Scriptural teaching regarding how children are to be raised as implying physically training them, noting that this is for the child's good, for the parents' good, and against the interest of one's enemies.

This last observation, "He that teacheth his son grieveth the enemy" (vs. 3 above) is quite good. The enemy absolutely hates to see us properly training our children - he loves lax discipline, because it makes his job of turning them from the right way easier.

Grieve the devil, use the rod of correction diligently.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pink on Care in Reading Material

A friend of mine brought to my attention an interesting article by A.W. Pink on the importance of being careful what we read (link). In the busy and bustling blogosphere, these important points should not be forgotten!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Christianity and Politics

I don't usually listen to the White Horse Inn. I happened to come across this episode regarding Christianity and politics (link).

Charles Hodge apparently said that having an American flag in one's church is the equivalent of singing the Star Spangled Banner at the administration of the Lord's Supper!

I enjoyed the presentation, but I found a theme that seemed odd. It seemed that the participants were suggesting that preachers cannot speak to issues of sin with respect to the political sphere. It almost sounds as though they are saying that the church can only talk about the gospel, and not the law.

On the other hand, Scripture seems to be chock full of admonitions to kings and those in authority. So, while I appreciate their concern for a clear demarcation of the roles of church and state, I think it's not quite as clear-cut as they may like.

One example I typically use is this: very often churches own property. When this is the case, they tend to get advised (more or less authoritatively) by the state with respect to temporal things, such as whether they have to pay taxes on the property, how they can use their property (zoning laws and the like), and who owns the property (if there is a dispute). It's very rare to hear that this is not proper.

If so, why shouldn't it be proper for the church to be advising the state in things moral? Why should the church-state relation be one in which the state tells the church what to do, but the church doesn't tell the state what to do?


Is Mormonism Christian?

In this short (less than 15 minutes) clip, Dr. White explains clearly some important distinctions between Mormonism and Christianity.


Sur-Response Regarding Paul the Apostle

The anonymous critic of Paul has provided a new attack on the apostle. The new attack is this:
so why does he say it doesn't matter to him what Peter James and John are? and why does he false accuse Peter of compelling Gentiles to live as Jews when Peter did not such thing but only accommodated the weaker brothers who came from James by not eating meat that would offend them, in good keeping with Paul's own doctrine? is the Paul of Galatians ignorant of Paul's own doctrine from Romans 14?

1) "so why does he say it doesn't matter to him what Peter James and John are?"

He doesn't say precisely that. Instead, he indicates that his commission is a divine one, not an apostolic one. Paul is not under Peter or James or John as a head (either any one of them or all of them together), but is instead an apostle of Jesus Christ by virtue of a special commission from God.

2) "and why does he false accuse Peter of compelling Gentiles to live as Jews when Peter did not such thing but only accommodated the weaker brothers who came from James by not eating meat that would offend them, in good keeping with Paul's own doctrine?"

The idea that Peter was not guilty of what Paul accused him is simply without any evidence. There is no reason to deny that Paul's accusation was true. Indeed, the formulation of this particular challenge is especially odd, since (as the objector notes) it would require Paul not only to challenge Peter (and indirectly, James) but also for Paul to contradict his own expressed views. This objection cannot stand.

3) "is the Paul of Galatians ignorant of Paul's own doctrine from Romans 14?"

No. Indeed, Paul is consistent in Galatians and Romans. The only supposed inconsistency is introduced by the critic who supposes both that Peter wasn't guilty as charged, and that Paul somehow forgot what he wrote in one epistle or the other. No, the same Paul was inspired to write both epistles.


Multi-Apostolic Defense of Paul Washer

I had written: "This objector's works-salvation is showing itself: note how this objector indicates that God makes a first move and then it is man that fails or succeeds. That is a great definition of works-salvation. It is to be contrasted with a salvation in which God is both the author (first mover) and finisher (last mover) of our faith." (link)

A kind reader, styling himself "Another Anonymous in America" has provided a response to this comment of mine. His response is as follows:
Calvinism has a works-salvation as well, even though it is concealed. For example, consider the sermons of Paul Washer. More than anyone else in the calvinistic movement, he emphasizes what he calls the signs of a genuine conversion by means of a very suspicious works-oriented self-introspection. "If God has started a work in you, then he will continue it." How will He continue this work? By your works . In the final analysis, calvinistic "sanctification" boils down to the real payment of what was first handed over as a "free gift of grace". How does a believer know that he is a believer? Because of his works. And there is much talk about the Perseverance of Saints. How do they persevere? Well, by persevering on their own!
How does calvinistic sanctification work? By their own subjective judgmental opinions. Where is the line between "sheep" and "goats"? Well, again a matter of subjective, personal guess work, personal attitude and opinion. So the only "salvation" in calvinism is ultimately not without works on the part of the recipient of God's grace. While I know that Calvinists vehemently deny this conclusion, I haven't seen anyone clearing up what the significant difference between a "true conversion" and a "counterfeit conversion" is supposed to be. Folks like Washer do not contribute any more clarity here but promote the idea of salvation by works more and more in the reformed minds.
(all errors and emphases in original)

I'll go line-by-line, responding to these allegations.

A) "Calvinism has a works-salvation as well, even though it is concealed."

No, that's not the case. Calvinism is the pure gospel of salvation by grace alone.

B) "For example, consider the sermons of Paul Washer."

I have considered a number of them. Although Washer does not tend to call himself a Calvinist (for his own reasons), his sermons tend to be quite Calvinistic.

C) "More than anyone else in the calvinistic movement, he emphasizes what he calls the signs of a genuine conversion by means of a very suspicious works-oriented self-introspection."

Washer's apparent emphasis on introspection is likely the result of so-called "easy believism" that suggests people should focus their attention on a decision they made, or on their holding to a certain collection of doctrines. Washer is quite right to call people to make sure that they really have been converted, as opposed to recklessly assuming.

D) "'If God has started a work in you, then he will continue it.'"

That's quite right. Scripture says so:

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

E) "How will He continue this work? By your works."

This is not quite an accurate characterization. One's works are the evidence of God's working in a person. It is not that God continues the process of sanctification by our works, but that our works are the fruit, or evidence, of the Spirit working in our lives. They are the result of a changed heart that loves God rather than ourselves.

F) "In the final analysis, calvinistic "sanctification" boils down to the real payment of what was first handed over as a "free gift of grace"."

No, that's not an accurate picture. Our works can be thought to be a payment of a debt to God, in the sense of a debt of gratitude. They cannot, however, in any way contribute to our salvation. Nevertheless, they are not worthless to us, because they demonstrate to us that God is working in our lives. The works that we do show that the faith that we have is a lively and true faith, as opposed to a dead and false faith.

G) "And there is much talk about the Perseverance of Saints. How do they persevere? Well, by persevering on their own!"

That's neither the Biblical nor the Calvinistic teaching on this subject. The Saints do persevere, but not on their own. God is described this way:

Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy ...

Unless one thinks that this is just a trivial recitation of an ability God doesn't use, the point is not just that God can keep us from falling, but that he does use this power. Why? Because he loves us.

H) "How does calvinistic sanctification work? By their own subjective judgmental opinions."

This is rather odd and inaccurate. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. That is how it is expressed in the very Calvinistic Westminster Shorter Catechism.

The Larger Catechism spells it out even more fully: Sanctification is a work of God's grace, whereby they whom God has, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

That's the Calvinist and Biblical position, not that we are sanctified by our own judgmental opinions.

I) "Where is the line between "sheep" and "goats"? Well, again a matter of subjective, personal guess work, personal attitude and opinion."

No. The line between "sheep" and "goats" is a line drawn by God, not by man. Nevertheless, we are told:

2 Peter 1:10-11
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We need to worry about believing on the Son of God. The way to test our faith is by our works. Thus, Jesus said:

Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Why? Because the fruits show the person's nature.

J) "So the only "salvation" in calvinism is ultimately not without works on the part of the recipient of God's grace."

A saved person will not be without works, but it is not those works that save them. Works show us that faith is real and living. Thus, James explains:

James 2:17-24
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

K) "While I know that Calvinists vehemently deny this conclusion, I haven't seen anyone clearing up what the significant difference between a "true conversion" and a "counterfeit conversion" is supposed to be."

I am sorry that no one has explained it to you before. Hopefully this explanation is helping. A counterfeit conversion is when someone is not truly changed in their heart, by God. It is when someone does not have true faith in the Son of God. A person with a counterfeit conversion has dead faith: his life does not bear fruit of the work of the Spirit. Such a person should be afraid for their soul - they should turn to God in repentance and cast themselves on the mercy of God in faith, trusting in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

L) "Folks like Washer do not contribute any more clarity here but promote the idea of salvation by works more and more in the reformed minds."

I certainly haven't heard absolutely everything that Washer has preached, but I haven't seen any evidence from the videos I have seen to think that this claim about him is true. Perhaps some more explanation in certain areas would be helpful, and clarity is always a good thing. Nevertheless, I am comfortable that what I have heard Washer preach is the testimony of Jesus himself and of his apostles: Paul, Peter, and James. It is the doctrine of Scripture and the faith of Abraham.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Paul's Conversion Chronology

One reader of this blog has recently provided some comments asking why it is that I believe Paul to be an apostle, and questioning the accounts of Paul's conversion as being inconsistent. Let me first address Paul's status as an apostle, and why I accept that. Afterward, I will provide a harmony of the Biblical accounts of Paul's conversion.

Why do I believe that Paul is an apostle? The short answer is that it is because I believe the Bible and the Bible declares Paul to be an apostle. For example, Paul is called an apostle in each of the following verses:

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

One might object that these are all from Paul's epistles. Of course, Paul's epistles are part of the Bible. Nevertheless, if one wanted additional demonstration, the Acts of the Apostles refers to Paul as an apostle:

Acts 14:14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

Furthermore, while Peter does not explicitly call Paul an apostle in his general epistle, Peter does refer to Paul's writings as Scripture:

2 Peter 3:15-16
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Turning from the issue of why I believe that Paul was an apostle, let's consider the accounts of his conversion. There are four accounts of Paul's conversion, three in the book of Acts (Chapters 9, 22, and 26), and one in Paul's epistle to the Galatians (Chapter 1-2). It is important to recognize that none of the conversion accounts are designed to provide a comprehensive chronological biography of Paul. Thus, each account includes details not found in the other accounts.

Accordingly, it is sometimes challenging to try to convert the Scriptural evidence into a chronological list to show the relation among the passages. Nevertheless, I have provided a preliminary chronology below. This is not a comprehensive chronology, although I think it does show one way in which the details of the accounts can be chronologically arranged. In particular, I should note that I have identified two visits to Jerusalem. None of the accounts specifically identifies (that I noticed) that there were two visits two Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the combination of the accounts seems (to me, and so far) to suggest that there was a first brief visit to Jerusalem that was terminated by God giving Paul a vision, and a second visit to Jerusalem later.

Without further ado, here is the chronology:

1. Paul Persecuting Church

Acts. 9:1-2
Galatians 1:13-14
Acts 22:4-5
Acts 26:10-11

2. Paul’s Conversion and Beginning Time at Damascus

Acts 9:3-25
Galatians 1:15-16
Acts 22:6-16
Acts 26:12-18, 20

3. Paul’s Trip to Arabia and back to Damascus

Galatians 1:17

4. Paul’s Departure from Damascus

Acts 9:22-25

Galatians 1:18

5. Paul’s First Visit to Jerusalem

Galatians 1:18-19
Acts 22:17-21
Acts 26:21

6. Paul’s Trip to Syria and Cilicia

Galatians 1:21-24
Acts 26:20

7. Paul’s Second Trip to Jerusalem

Galatians 2:1-3

Acts 9:26-29

8. Paul’s Trip to Caesarea and Tarsus

Acts 9:30

That is not the end of Paul's life or of his missionary journeys. It is, however, the end of this particular harmonious recounting of the conversion and subsequent travels of Paul.


Monday, January 12, 2009

van Genderen and Velema on the Atoment

In their massive work, Concise Reformed Dogmatics, van Genderen and Velema provide a section (Section 32) within their chapter on Christ, the Mediator (Chapter 10), called "Aspects of the Work of Christ," which includes a subsection on "Atonement (reconciliation)" and a sub-section on "Victory." These subsections may be found at pages 511-38 of 2008 printing of the Bilkes and van der Maas translation of this work.

The book provides a relatively recent discussion (the Dutch original published in 1992) of the Reformed view of the atonement as it is held in the conservative Dutch reformed churches. In general, the discussion is descriptive. While certain erroneous views are identified as errors, generally only a cursory response to the error is provided. There is little attention paid to the patristic data - although there is a surprising amount of attention paid to modern erroneous views of the atonement.

The presentation appears generally to be sound. One interesting aspect of the book's presentation is the reliance on a significant number of Dutch writers, whose works are not presently accessible in English or whose works have only recently become available in English. For example, looking through the "Some Literature" section, at the conclusion of Chapter 10, the number of English writings identified are scant.

As hinted at in the book's prefaces (both the publisher's preface and the authors' preface), Bavinck is heavily relied-upon. In this section, the work of Bavinck is supplemented with John Murray, Wentsel and others.

One particularly interesting discussion provided by van Genderen and Velema is with respect to the issue of the relation between the atonement and the gospel offer. After explaining that Dordt explicitly rejects the idea that the gospel is only for some, not for all, van Genderen and Velema explain:
It is not, however, the mandate of the church to tell everyone: Christ has died in your place; all your sins have been atoned for and forgiven (cf. Bavinck, R.D., 4:36). The apostolic proclamation is: "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them . . . . We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:19-20).
No one may conclude from the gospel of atonement that Christ has reconciled him or her with God, without more ado. This can only be confessed in faith. "I can receive . . . the satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ ... and apply to myself in no other way than by faith alone" (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 23). This agrees with Scripture. There we continually encounter the first person singular or plural: "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). "We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Rom. 5:11).
(pp. 528-29)
As one would expect, given such a clear statement of the classical, confessional Reformed doctrine of limited atonement and the consistency of the universal qualified gospel offer with the limited atonement, van Genderen and Velema identify as error the school of Samaur including Amyraut and Cameron, which (relying on Graafland) they identify as closer to Arminius than to Calvin.