Saturday, April 04, 2009

John of Damascus vs. An Allegedly Ecumenical Council

This is a video response (as usual, audio only) to a post by Matthew Bellisario (link). Although Bellisario starts off his post by saying "Once again we see that Turretin Fan is clueless when it come to Biblical exegesis," he fails to back it up, not identifying any exegetical errors or even providing any of his own exegesis, but simply quoting from a work attributed to John of Damascus.

In addition to what is in the video, let me add this:

According to Bellisario, John of Damascus wrote this:
I worship the image of Christ as the Incarnate God; that of Our Lady (thV qeotokou), the Mother of us all, as the Mother of God's Son; that of the saints as the friends of God. They have withstood sin unto blood, and followed Christ in shedding their blood for Him, who shed His blood for them.
(the Greek transliteration there is for the term "the Theotokos")

One question for Bellisario, since he quoted these words, does he accept them? Does Bellisario worship "the image of Christ" and the image of "Our Lady" and the images of "the saints"?

Notice that I said "worship" just as Bellisario has quoted John of Damascus. I'll even give Mr. Bellisario a bit of a break, since John of Damascus seems to suggest that he does not worship the image itself but the the thing the image represents. So, does Mr. Bellisario worship (in addition to Jesus) Mary and the martyrs? Because most Romanists won't actually admit this - they'll claim that they only worship God.


Friday, April 03, 2009

The Sort of Evangelical I'm Not

I'm not the sort of Evangelical who thinks that this "gear" (link1 link2 - same guy - two posts on his "gear") is ok. I'm the sort of Reformed believer that thinks that these verses are in the Bible:

Isaiah 44:10 Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

Jeremiah 10:14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

Jeremiah 51:17 Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

Isaiah 44:9 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.

Nahum 1:14 And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile.

Isaiah 44:15 Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.

Habakkuk 2:18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

Isaiah 44:17 And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.

Isaiah 45:20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.

Isaiah 48:5 I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.

Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto 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 water under the earth:

Leviticus 26:1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 4:15-19
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: 16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, 18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: 19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

Deuteronomy 4:23-26
23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. 24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. 25 When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger: 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

Deuteronomy 5:8 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:

Deuteronomy 27:15 Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.

Revelation 9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

I know that won't make me overly popular with the kind of Evangelicalism that is currently in collapse according to that same guy (link), but if I wanted to be popular I wouldn't speak out against sin. I'm far less concerned by the appearance that the iMonk is Romanizing (though anyone who stays around my blog will realize that I'm no fan of Rome) and far more concerned that he doesn't take the Scriptural prohibition on idols seriously. If one is going to point to a reason why the brand of Evangelicalism that accepts idols is going to perish, failure to heed God's word in Scripture is (in my view) the number one reason.

No, having idols of Jesus whether in statute, crucifix, or icon form isn't going to turn you into a Roman Catholic - but it does take your eyes away from the divinely sanctioned way in which we see Christ: the Bible and the sacraments. We see Christ in Scriptures, and we remember him and his death not through small metal symbols or statuettes but through the bread and the cup of the Lord's Supper.


Blogging and the Church

I'm sorry to see him leave the blogosphere, but here are some serious thoughts on blogging and its consequences from Paul Wallace at Reformed and Baptist (link). I realize the irony of my linking to it, as though Mr. Wallace were Mr. Big or providing the latest "new wisdom." Consider reading his post anyways.


Thanks to Lee Shelton IV (link) for pointing this out to me.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Gates of Hell shall not Prevail Against the Church

This phrase "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" is one I hear used often and misused often. The one point everyone seems to recognize correctly is that "it" refers to the church. Not any particular church, but the church: the body of Christ universal.

1. The "We will Survive" Error

The most frequent error I hear with respect to this verse is to imagine that the "gates of hell" are the battering rams of Satan attacking the church in this life. That's definitely not what the verse means, though one can even find this kind of view among the church fathers.

Gates are, as far as warfare goes, defensive only. They do not attack. When the enemy attacks the church he does so with firey darts, but not with gates.

2. Storming Hell? A potential error.

Oftentimes, someone who notices that the gates of hell cannot be offensive weapons of battle against the church assume that they represent the defenses of the kingdom of this world, and therefore interpret this verse as saying that the church will defeat the kingdom of this world, storming and plundering the kingdom of Satan.

This view is not completely out of the question. The basic concept is surely correct, that the church will and does (by the gospel) plunder and invade the kingdom of the world. There are two cities: the city of God and the city of man. We in the city of God are in constant spiritual warfare, and we should be engaged in the raiding parties necessary to bring souls out of the power of the kingdom of darkness.

3. Resurrection

But I think the best view of this verse is as pointing to the resurrection. The church, the body of Christ, all those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, will be raised to eternal life. In this view, the "gates of hell" stand simply for the bands of death.

After all, while we usually use the term "hell" to refer to the place of the damned, the term "hell" in Scripture often refers simply to the place of the dead. I think one reason people turn to interpretation (2) above is from simply hearing interpretation (1) too much. They realize that (1) is wrong, but don't recognize that this is not a warfare analogy at all.

Instead, hell is like a prison, with gates that close in the dead, so that they cannot return to life. These gates are opened with keys. This, I think, is perhaps the most crucial (key? ha!) thing that permits us to properly understand the sense of the text.

Recall that John tells us that Jesus has the keys of hell and death:

Revelation 1:17-18
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Notice that we know this is Jesus: he is the first and the last, the one that lives although he was dead, and now lives eternally. It is through faith in Jesus that we escape death. Indeed, it is only by faith in Jesus that we escape the bonds of death. All mankind will be raised, but those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to the second death.

This all makes sense in the context, for the very next verse continues:

Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

What are these keys? There is debate by some over this, but the easiest explanation is that they are the gospel: they are the way in which we are freed from the gates of hell. Thus, even as here Jesus told Peter that Peter would receive these keys, so also the same promise (without mentioning the keys specifically) is given to the other apostles:

Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

The apostles fulfilled this purpose. They preached the gospel and committed Jesus' teachings to writings: the scriptures of the New Testament.

It's important to recall that this is the metaphor of the key in Scripture: it is one of unlocking and locking. Thus, we see the lawyers criticized for essentially locking away the truth of Old Testament Scripture:

Luke 11:52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

In contrast, Jesus is said to have the key of David, and to be able to shut and close without contest:

Revelation 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

(Quoting from: Isaiah 22:22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.)

So, what is it that the verse is saying? It is saying, as best I understand it, that death will not prevail against the church, but rather Jesus will raise us from the dead - and that Jesus did show this way of escape (these keys of the kingdom of heaven) by which we can be loosed from(if he have faith like Peter did) and be bound in (if we do not have the faith of Peter) death.

In my opinion, the final confirmation that this is correct comes from what immediately follow verse 19:

Matthew 16:20-21
20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. 21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

This is the victory over death and hell, and these are the keys that Peter freely gave us, recorded in Peter's sermon in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles:

Acts 2:23-28
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

Notice how the pains of death are "loosed" because they could not "hold" him. Thus, Jesus was not left in the grave, in the place of the dead, but he was raised to eternal life, as will all those who repent of their sins and trust in him.

Dear reader, if you have not repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus, do so today. It is the only way that you will prevail against the gates of hell.


Hebrews 1:8 - A Proof of Jesus' Divinity

This is a response to a video (link) that seems to suggest that we cannot use Hebrews 1:8 to establish the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. I respectfully but firmly disagree, for the reasons I set forth in more detail in video (sorry, audio only, plus a slideshow in case you must watch something).



Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wisdom on Lying

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

Proverbs 17:7 Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

Proverbs 10:18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

Psalm 120:2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.

Psalm 31:18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

Especially appropriate for this day of the year.


Bellisario on Contraception (Again!)

Contraception seems to be a very hot topic for Mr. Bellisario, as he has yet another post on it on his blog (link).

Let's examine what he says:
Turretin Fan has posted an audio response to my earlier article on contraception. He claims that since there are not any anathemas attached to the statements by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church on the teaching of contraception, that it is not infallible doctrine. The teaching that I posted earlier is the only "officially" held position that the Catholic Church has on contraception. First off there does not have to be an anathema attached to a teaching in order for it to be infallible. This is a qualifier that Turretin Fan has invented, since the Church has never taught that in order for something to be doctrine or dogma that there must be an anathema attached to it. Where Tf gets this I have no idea. It sounds like he presents an "Ace in the hole" here, but there is nothing that substantiates this undocumented statement of his.
Yes, Mr. Bellisario actually wrote that!

I suppose that Mr. Bellisario thinks I invented this:
The Pope must attach the sanction of anathema to the decree, either explicitly or implicitly. In other words, since obedience to superiors is necessary for salvation, the anathema means that the representative of Christ on earth intends to avail himself of the full height of his God-given authority and command our intellectual assent.

Of course, that applies specifically to papal infallibility, but a similar concept exists with respect to conciliar infallibility.

Perhaps, as well, Mr. Bellisario thinks I invented this:
The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.

"Defined no dogma at all" and was a "merely pastoral council." Inconvenient for Bellisario? Yes. Invented by TurretinFan? No.

Don't get me wrong: Vatican II is still viewed within Catholicism (leaving aside the sedavacantists and similar groups) as valid and binding. Indeed the same source I quoted immediately above says: "It is a necessary task to defend the Second Vatican Council against Msgr. Lefebvre, as valid, and as binding upon the Church." And, of course, this source is the same person who is now pope.

I almost stopped my response to Mr. Bellisario's ignorance at this point, but then thought that perhaps I should make clear the link between defining a doctrine and infallibility, though perhaps poor Mr. Bellisario will think I invented this as well:
It has been sometimes said that it is impossible to know whether or not a theological definition has been issued; but very few words are needed to show that the assertion is without foundation. At times, doubt will remain about the definitive nature of a decree, but as a rule no possibility of doubt is consistent with the terminology of a definitive decree. Thus in the doctrinal teaching of a general council, anathema attached to condemned errors is a certain sign of an infallible definition.

Bellisario continued:
Turretin says I cannot defend my position in regards to the Church's teaching on contraception. I have demonstrated quite clearly that the Catholic Church has one clear teaching on this subject. (Contraception, more specifically the use of condoms). Let us dive into this empty argument provided by Turretin Fan. He claims that he has proven that there is disunity within the Catholic Church. My point is that there is no division within the "official" teaching of the Church. I do not know whether Turretin understands this or not, but individual bishops do not make up Catholic doctrine. He claims that since there is disagreement among bishops of the Church, that that in itself defeats Rome's claims of the infallible Catholic Magisterium. This however does not prove that at all.
Or to paraphrase Bellisario, "I don't care what TurretinFan's point is, I want to argue over something else!" This is a great example of the use of straw man tactics that we see over and over again from Bellisario. Mr. Bellisario seems to be unable (or unwilling) to address the points I actually raise:

1) That the teaching on contraception in Humanae Vitae is not a doctrinal definition and consequently is considered "infallible" teaching within Romanism; and

2) The fact that Humanae Vitae teaches what it teaches doesn't prevent, in practice, the bishops of his church openly holding to positions that disagree with Mr. Bellisario's position.

Bellisario continued:
It is my argument that just because there are many bishops who refuse to follow the Magisterium's clear "official" teaching on this subject, doesn't negate the authority of the Magisterium, nor its effectiveness in teaching clear unifying doctrine. All it does is demonstrate that there are and always have been those who dissent from "official" Church teaching. So no, Turretin Fan has not demonstrated that there is disunity in the Catholic Church that upsets the authority and clearly held doctrine of the Catholic Church. The Magisterium can promulgate the truth all day long, yet if bishops refuse to follow, Turretin attaches the blame on the Magisterium and claims that it doesn't solve doctrinal problems. This is clearly nonsense. Yes we have many clear examples of bishops rejecting Church teaching. So what? As I stated before, there have been times in the past where many bishops bought into heresies. The Church Magisterium however always held fast to true doctrine and dogma.
Notice how the straw man comes out again, this time attacked as "clearly nonsense." Well, you know, I'm sure my position can sound like nonsense when it is misrepresented by Bellisario, but my actual position is something with which Bellisario cannot argue (as usual).

Bellisario continued:
Turretin Fan readily admits in his audio response that he never claimed to prove that "official" Catholic teaching was divided on this issue. It is quite obvious that any Catholic who wants to remain faithful to the Church will follow "official" teachings and not individual bishop's dissenting views. Turretin Fan's argument does not upset the Magisterium as he claims it does. What would he have Rome do, go out and hunt everyone down who dissents from "official" Church teaching and off them? That may not be a bad idea....I am joking here... Well Rome has essentially done this doctrinally in her documents. In my next post I will address the teaching of the Church and whether or not the teaching on contraception by the Church is an infallible doctrine.
Ah, at last Mr. Bellisario pays some limited attention to what I was saying. Yes, I never claimed to prove that "official" Catholic teaching was divided on this issue.

Mr. Bellisario jokes about hunting down those who dissent, but these folks are "dissenting" on an issue that has not been defined. That's something that Mr. Bellisario doesn't seem to get. There are really two issues here:

1) The issues Bellisario has identified as allegedly wrong positions by bishops of his own church (bishops that still hold their office and openly teach what they teach) are not contrary to any infallible teaching of his church (though they are contrary to things that Benedict XVI has said, and they are arguably contrary to what the CCC and Humanae Vitae said); and

2) Whether or not this matter has been defined, there is doctrinal and moral disunity within Catholicism, despite the organizational unity.

The second point is really the main point of this discussion, whereas the first point is carry-over from the previous debacle where Gene Bridges schooled Mr. Bellisario on the issue of contraception.

Bellisario continued:
I also got a chuckle once again that Turretin creates a "Mr. Bellisario vs the bishop" scenario instead of "official" Church teaching vs the bishop scenario, which would be a much more accurate headline. Be that as it may, Turretin Fan has only demonstrated that there are and always will be dissenters in the Church. He also readily admits that there is clear "official" Catholic Church teaching on this matter, which defeats his argument trying to tear down the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. In my next article I will go through the wording of "official" church documents and demonstrate that this moral teaching cannot be changed, and therefore falls into the category of Church doctrine.
Again, we see more straw man arguments. Although he noted above (apparently) that it is not my goal with this argument to "tear down the Magisterium of the Catholic Church" - now Mr. Bellisario claims that he has defeated this argument that I haven't presented. It seems Mr. Bellisario has struck on the perfect way to win arguments: argue with points that the other side doesn't either present or defend.


P.S. For more on the infallibility issue and Humanae Vitae, check out my friendly Romanist opponent, Kelly Wilson at Kakistocrat (link).

UPDATE: Bellisario simply couldn't get enough of this topic and posted YET AGAIN! (link) I'll address his comments below:
I really got a kick out of Turretin's last post where he tries, unsuccessfully to substantiate, that for the Catholic church to define something infallibly it must use anathemas to do so. Anyone who knows anything about Catholicism knows this is simply not true. Turretin thought it would clever to post on the specific use of papal proclamations which we haven't even discussed so far. We are not arguing over one document as TF is suggesting. If you see my original post i used several. Then he quotes something on Vatican II which we also haven't even addressed specifically, but TF likes to use Red Herrings to hide his idiotic arguments. I guess he didn't notice that many of the documents I soured were not from VCII. I won't waste any more time on the foolish Turretin Fan because he is not rational.
Poor Bellisario, his ignorance exposed, lashes out. It's not the first time he's made this kind of comment and it won't be the last. Since he doesn't actually address the issues in this portion of his rant, there's no need for further response from me.

Bellisario continued:
It is unfortunate but I do not have the time to keep engaging with bloggers like himself because he will just lead you around in circular arguments, which is another favorite tactic of his. He figures if he writes enough nonsense that he will wear his opponent down and then he can claim victory. Well he has successfully worn me down, and yet once again he has not proven that the Catholic church is divided on the issue of contraception when it comes to "official" Church teaching. He keeps saying that he doens't intend to do so, yet what is his point? It is to try and prove that the Catholic Church is not unified in its teaching regarding contraception.
As noted above, this is Bellisario's constant retreat: the straw man. Sometimes, I'm not sure that Bellisario knows it is a straw man, but after it has been pointed out and he still repeats the same false characterizations you have to figure he's realized he cannot defeat the argument presented, so he's off to try to argue against something else.

For my actual point, see above.

Bellisario concluded:
He is trying to argue this from an untenable positions, because he refuses to acknowledge "official" Catholic teaching in favor of individual opinions. That is why i had to emphasize that there is a "official" Church teaching that all Catholics are obliged to follow. this would hold even if the teaching was not infallible. Turetin also does not understand this either. He refuses to acknowledge that individual bishops have no bearing on the "official" Church teaching, and so Catholics who follow the "official" Church teaching are not divided. The two unfortunately are synonymous to the pitiful "Reformed" apologist. I will tear myself away from this and now focus on the Catholic doctrine regarding human sexuality, and more specifically contraception. I am now working on a response to Kelly, who stopped by my blog and sided with me on part of my post against TF, yet challenged me on whether or not the Church has infallibly defined this teaching on human sexuality. My argument will be that is is infallibly defined. Thanks for reading.
As noted above, this is just a response to Bellisario's straw man. He complains about a lack of time. One solution would be for him to spend less of his time on straw men.


Bellisario vs Portuguese Bishops - An Audio/Video Response

Bellisario has tried to respond to my previous post (link to Bellisario, link to my previous post). I now respond by video (just audio, but with a mostly unrelated slideshow on top of it). This video discusses the fact that Catholicism cannot provide unity on issues like contraception. We sometimes hear claims that Catholicism's magisterium is needed to provide doctrinal and moral unity and certainty, but the facts belie this erroneous conclusion. The organizational unity of Rome may lead to doctrinal unity on some issues, but it does not on the contraception issue: one of the pet issues in Romanist apologetics today.



Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Luther: Justification is a Stand-or-Fall Article of the Christian Faith

David Waltz has sparked my interest afresh in the quotation allegedly from Luther that Justification is a doctrine upon which the church stands or falls (link to Waltz's article). I agree that the expression may not be Luther but is easily derivable from Luther's teachings.

Waltz has traced it back to Valentin E. Löscher in 1718, but -- with some help from Eberhard Jüngel (link) -- I have traced it back a bit further to my own favorite Theologian, Francis Turretin, who stated, in his Institutes of Elenctic Theology at Tomus II, Locus 16, Question 1, Section 1:

"Luthero dicitur Articulas stantis et cadentis Ecclesiœ"

You can see for yourself:

Text not available
The image above is from the 1819 printing of Turretin's work, but (of course) Turretin's first edition is much older. The second volume of Turretin's work was published in 1682, which would beat out Löscher. Turretin (at least in the editions I can find) doesn't provide any citation, and it is not clear to me whether Turretin had intended to quote or paraphrase Luther.

I don't have access, at the moment, to a first edition of Turretin's Institutes to verify that the quotation appeared in the original edition. Both Waltz and Jüngel (linked above) provide some interesting bases for the pseudo-quotation or paraphrase. Jüngel notes that previous attempts to definitively track down the quotations origin have proved fruitless.

On the other hand, the Smalcald Articles do suggest that Luther viewed the issue as being a stand-or-fall principle, and so do many other of Luther's writings. The Smalcald Articles provide a good basis for the quotation as a paraphrase when they state:
5] Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink to ruin. For there is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12. And with His stripes we are healed, Is. 53:5. And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practice in opposition to the Pope, the devil, and the [whole] world. Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.


P.S. Luthero dicitur means "It was said by Luther."
P.P.S. See p. 633 of Volume 2 of Turretin's Institutes in the Giger-Dennison edition, if you wish to see how Giger-Dennison handled this.

Steve Ray Continues to Endorse Albrecht

I wasn't overly surprised, but I was amused to see that Steve Ray is continuing to endorse William Albrecht (aka GNRHead):

"Here is a picture of me with William Albrecht, a Catholic apologist who can [sic] to the conference to spend some time with me. He is a good guy and a good apologist for the Catholic faith." (source)
Personally, I think William Albrecht is a much more brave apologist for his religion than Steve Ray is. But regardless of what I personally think of Mr. Albrecht's quality as an apologist, these sorts of endorsements from Mr. Ray (and others in the Romanist apologetic community) help to keep Mr. Albrecht on the map as a legitimate target for our criticism as representing his religion in the lay sphere.


Contrasting Views on Contraceptive Devices

Although some people (mostly conservative Romanists) would like you to think that the Roman Catholic Church has only one view on contraceptives, the issue is actually one on which there is a degree of disagreement, as illustrated in the following two articles:

On the "pro" side, Manuel Clemente, Bishop of Porto (link to article).

"Speaking to journalists, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Porto Manuel Clemente said condoms in such cases are 'not only recommendable, they can be ethically obligatory.'"


On the "con" side, Matthew Bellisario, editor of the "Catholic Champion" web site (link to article)

"Well how does this genius think that AIDS is spread? Does MR Juppe know that it spreads by having sex, and that condoms promote sexual intercourse among people in Africa that have AIDS? Condoms are not 100% effective and the disease is primarily spread by sexual intercourse. Wow, I just wonder how someone like this clown becomes a Prime Minister in any country outside of Wonderland."


Obviously, Mr. Bellisario is not making his comment directly to Bishop Clemente, and perhaps he'd be embarrassed to call one of the bishops of his church a "clown" - though he does not hesitate to law on the compliments when it comes to the former prime minister. But leaving aside the bombastic nature of Bellisario's remarks, what we see from this comparison of views is that the typical Romanist apologetic argument that we need Rome to give us unity on issues like contraception (which are not explicitly addressed in Scripture) is wrong as a matter of fact: although Rome provides organizational unity, that organizational unity masks great doctrinal and moral disunity.


Why Women are Leaving Men for Other Women

The headline of this post is the same as a recent headline in the "Lifestyle" section of MSN (link to article - Caution Inappropriate Subject Matter at Link). The article tries to take a naturalistic approach, focusing essentially on biological explanations.

For example, the article quotes Lisa Diamond, Ph.D., as stating that regarding a woman's desires, "It doesn't appear to be something a woman can control." The article, focusing on these biological explanations, also notes that men seem more "rigid" in these things and women more "fluid."

All this misses the point. The Bible has the answer to why it is that women leave men for other women, and why men leave women for other men. The answer is God's judgment on sin.

Romans 1:25-32
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

How fitting that a society who worships biology, as though biology in itself could provide the answers, is turned over to this perversion of the natural order. God has turned over the minds of this generation to such an extent that these shameful behaviors are no longer the skeleton in the closet, or even an elephant in the living room, but the open talk of all. The article puts it this way, "we've arrived at a moment in the popular culture when it all suddenly seems almost fashionable — or at least, acceptable."

May God forgive us of these sins, and show mercy on us, bringing repentance to our society before it is swallowed up in judgment. There is a solution to this problem: conformity to the Law of God (not out of servile fear, but out of love for our Creator), which may be found in the Holy Scriptures.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Ehrman is Not a Debunker of Christianity?

I was surprised to find this sentence: "Ehrman is not a debunker of Christianity," in a recent article in the Charlotte Observer (link to article).

On what basis does the author of the article make that claim? On the basis that Ehrman acknowledges that Jesus was an historical figure. Apparently, to be a "debunker of Christianity" today, one must not only be opposed to the miraculous, but also a denier of the most-well attested historical figure of 2000 years ago.

It's amazing what the world's come to.


Works of Cyril of Alexandria (in Greek) - Index Page

I realize that the Opera Omnia of Cyril of Alexandria (lived from about A.D. 375 to about A.D. 444) may not be the thing you were hoping to find today, but one never knows when one will need to refer to the Greek originals. When that time comes, you should be able to find the relevant work in one of the following five volumes:


Cross-Examination in the Atonement Debate Complete

My atonement debate with Roman Catholic "Catholic Nick" is entering its final stages, now that the cross-examination round is complete (direct link to debate posts)(link to index of debate).

There's no plan, right now, for audience participation in this debate, though parts of the debate intersect with an ongoing discussion I have with Jay Dyer (at least I think it is ongoing - Jay may have gone on to other things)(link to Jay Dyer stuff).