Saturday, November 03, 2007

Who were the Apostles?

The Bible identifies as apostles only the following:

1. Simon Peter
2. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother
3. James son of Zebedee
4. John the brother of James
5. Philip
6. Bartholomew
7. Thomas
8. Matthew the tax collector
9. James the son of Alphaeus
10. Lebbeaus Thaddaeus aka Judas the brother of James
11. Simon the Canaanite aka Zelotes
12. Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, who betrayed the Lord,
(Matthew 10 cf. Luke 6)

13. Matthias (perhaps later displaced by Paul)
(Acts 1:26)

14. Barnabus (aka Judas Barsabas) -> could this also be Judas the brother of James?
15. Paul (aka Saul of Tarsus)
(Acts 14:14)

16. Christ Jesus
(Hebrews 3:1)

17. James the Lord's Brother (could this also be James the son of Alphaeus? or James the son of Zebedee?)
(Galatians 1:19)

But Lucian seems to claim that the evangelist Luke was also an apostle (as were, according to Lucian, many others). I can provide Scriptural documentation for the 17+ names listed above. I wonder what's the earliest documentation that Lucian can provide for the alleged apostleship of Luke? A quotation from some obscure passage of Eusebius?


Murder Update

God saves a child from the murderous intent of his mother and her doctors - twice!


Praise be to the Lord!


Friday, November 02, 2007

Any Sola Scripture Questions for the Debaters?

Recall that the Sola Scriptura vs. Eastern Orthodoxy Debate over on the debate blog (link) is wrapping up. If you have a question for the debaters, please feel free to leave a comment on any post there. This post will self destruct in a few hours.

Incidentally - Lucian seems to be the leader so far in terms of number of comments.

Sad News from Contend Earnestly

I, for one, was saddened to see this post (link) over at Contend Earnestly.

I would love the opportunity to discuss with Mr. McBee the issue, either informally backchannel or over at the debate blog (link), if he has time and interest.

An Amyraldian position makes little sense, and less now than in Baxter's day because of the greater resources available to us for study than to him.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

More of the Cobwebs

You may recall from previous posts that we've pretty clearly established that Dave explicitly rejects the teaching of Vatican II that Muslims and Catholics worship the same god.

Let's turn to justification.

Here it gets interesting, because Dave agrees with Trent that justification is not by faith alone.

However, when Dave goes to define Christianity, what does he use? A creed - that is to say, Dave makes Christianity (definitionally) about faith alone.

What's logical result: under Dave's definition, some Christians are not justified!

But perhaps this is acceptable for Dave.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Country vs. Blog

I respectfully submit that this country has a better grip on "the other reason for the season" than this (linked) blog.

Forget the risks to kids from poisoning, kidnap, etc.

Forget the risks to health from overconsumption of calories, refined sugar, carbohydrates, etc.

Forget the underlying extortive theme.

At its root the celebration of October 31 with masks, jack-o-laterns, and the like, is a celebration of evil.

Hat Tip to Russian schools for taking the appropriate approach, and to the Patriarch of Moscow for using his political influence to staunch the desensitization to evil in Russia. Gentle ribbing to brother Harris for being softer on the celebration of evil than the Russians.


P.S. And, of course, shame on Britain for this.

This Day in Reformation History

Everyone knows about the bulletin board message.
Few recall the unfundated mandate.
Frankly, the latter had more immediate, profound impact on the Reformation.

That is to say, on September 3, 1538, the King of England ordered the clergy of the church of England to provide by October 31, 1538,

"One book of the whole Bible of the largest volume in English, and the same set up in some convenient place within the said church that ye have care of, whereas your parishioners may most commodiously resort to the same and read it."

Luther posted in Latin, but the King in English: Luther against Indulgences, but the King against all anti-Christian religions.

Praise God for his blessings showered both on German and England in the 16th century!


Roman Catholics: Beware!

According to this document from the Vatican website:

1.2. Communications

The technological revolution in communications over the last few years has brought about a completely new situation. The ease and speed with which people can now communicate is one of the reasons why New Age has come to the attention of people of all ages and backgrounds, and many who follow Christ are not sure what it is all about. The Internet, in particular, has become enormously influential, especially with younger people, who find it a congenial and fascinating way of acquiring information. But it is a volatile vehicle of misinformation on so many aspects of religion: not all that is labelled “Christian” or “Catholic” can be trusted to reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church and, at the same time, there is a remarkable expansion of New Age sources ranging from the serious to the ridiculous. People need, and have a right to, reliable information on the differences between Christianity and New Age.

(Emphasis added)

Dave Armstrong's site has a Catholic label. Can it be trusted to reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church?

Of course, the same Vatican web domain claims that this is Roman Catholic dogma:
The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.

5. Cf St. Gregory VII, letter XXI to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania (Pl. 148, col. 450f.)
But Dave denies that Moslems worship the same god as the Roman Catholics, or that Islam submits to the decrees of the same God as Abraham. Notice the definite article in English ("the one God") - though obviously the "official version" would be in Latin which lacks the definite article. Likewise, notice the capitalization of God and Himself, as well as the affirmation that this God is "the Creator" (capital "C"). But perhaps you will say that "official version" is all capitals (and who knows, perhaps it is).

Ah, but here's the referenced language from the the letter of Gregory VII to Anzir:
This affection we and you owe to each other in a more peculiar way than to people of other races because we worship and confess the same God though in diverse forms and daily praise and adore him as the creator and ruler of this world. For, in the words of the Apostle, "He is our peace who hath made both one."
But Dave disagrees, insisting that I should not "ignorantly demand" that he answer questions about "my faith" (to wit, his religion) any particular way.

Consistent Roman Catholics Beware!


P.S. Quasi-Unrelated: is the President of Georgetown a Catholic, how about a consistent Catholic? (link)

P.P.S. Thanks dear Anonymous reader for the "not"!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Let's Dig a Bit Deeper into the Tangled Webs

Recall that Dave wrote:


Turretinfan" has recently taken to claiming not only that I am not a "real" Catholic (because I don't answer every question about my faith the way he ignorantly demands that it should be answered), but that I also have supposedly not "apparently" defined the word Christian anywhere. He even uses this as one of his excuses to not have a chat room debate with me.


We've already documented that this assertion is not fully true (though he is correct that the present author mistakenly believed that Dave had not provided any explicit definition of Christianity). Let's dig a bit deeper into the morass of Dave's position:

Note particularly Dave's remark: "because I don't answer every question about my faith the way he ignorantly demands that it should be answered."

Since when does Dave have ownership of the "Catholic faith." Isn't that the point of being "Catholic" that one holds to a universal (i.e. catholic) faith? Or is Catholicism really about people having their own individual faith? Of course the answers are that Dave does not have ownership of Catholicism, he's not even an ordained member of the Roman Catholic clergy, much less the pope. Now, on issues that the RCC has not dogmatically defined, I suppose it is reasonable to let Dave have some leeway for now, until those points get defined.

Note also I do not have any problem with Dave disagreeing with the "Catholic" faith, nor do I refuse to let Dave define his own personal faith. That's his business. But these are matters that the Roman Catholic Church has spoken on in one of the very few ways in which she actually speaks as an organization, namely by the mouth of the popes and ecumenical councils.

To call one's personal views "Catholic" when they are contrary to the teachings of the popes and ecumenical councils (all twenty-something of them) is bizarre. In other words: who defines what the Roman Catholic position is, Dave, me, or the writings of the RCC? Of course the answer is the writings of the RCC - and they are contrary to Dave's position. This is not an issue of me "demanding" (ignorantly or wisely) that he answer questions in a specific way - this is an issue of Dave answering questions the way the writings of the RCC answer the questions.

What's even more bizarre and contrary to historic Catholicism is to label (as Dave does) systems of theology as being properly "Christian" which are not part of the "Catholic" (universal) church.

Compare Dave's position (namely that anyone who affirms the Nicean Creed is Christian - apparently even without the filoque) to this description (a summary of work by a professor of Ancient History at a school that's known for its ancient history, Prof. Gillian Clark):
Chapter 2, ‘Christians and others’, investigates the problem of sources and the distinctions that historians have inherited from early Christian writings: Christians and pagans, Christians and Jews, Christians and heretics. Most of the sources for early Christianity have survived because they were acceptable to the Christians whose theology prevailed. How then can we reconstruct the perspective of people who thought they were Christians but whose theology was classed as heresy, or of people who were not Christians, or of the silent majority who did not write about their beliefs? Were the distinctions so clear in practice? Were Christians and non-Christians divided only by misunderstanding and polemic, or were there fundamental differences of beliefs and values? Did Christian groups offer an alternative family, a level of emotional and practical support, or of moral and religious teaching, that was not available in other religious options? Why would anyone choose the one religious option that carried the risk of an appalling public death?

(source) (emphasis added).
What do you think?

Is the official position of Rome (as Dave asserts) that heretics condemned by Rome and subject to the death penalty at the hands of the state for their heresy can still properly be considered Christians? Can anyone claim that they have read any history of the Spanish Inquisition and conclude that Rome's position was that heretics were Christians that just seriously disagreed?

Ah, but perhaps Gillian Clark is to left-leaning for you ... consider then this comment from (an allegedly Catholic encyclopedic site, but perhaps Dave will claim he knows better):

"Marriages, however, between Catholics and heretics were not subject to the same impediment. They were held as valid, though illicit if a dispensation mixtæ religionis had not been obtained." (anyone want to guess what mixtae religionis suggests?) (source)

And if marriage between Catholics and heretics was a marriage of mixed religions, and the Catholics were allegedly Christian, what would that make the heretics?

or again (from the same source, though a different page):

"The guiding principles in the Church's treatment of heretics are the following: Distinguishing between formal and material heretics, she applies to the former the canon, "Most firmly hold and in no way doubt that every heretic or schismatic is to have part with the Devil and his angels in the flames of eternal fire, unless before the end of his life he be incorporated with, and restored to the Catholic Church."" (source)

After all, contrary to Dave's implicit assertion, Rome's official position is not that the RCC is just one sect of Christianity, and that all those who adhere to the Nicean creed are properly designated "Christian" whether or not they are incorporated with Catholic Church.

Please tell me, why should Dave's personal, private interpretation of the "Catholic faith" trump either my interpretation or - more importantly - the writings of the RCC?


I stand corrected - Dave HAS defined Christianity

Here's a link to his post explaining that he has defined Christianity! (link)

I stand corrected.

And, of course, Dave's definition includes those who are under the wrath of God and the Apostles Peter and Paul, according to the Roman Catholic Church.


P.S. And of course, there's beautiful irony in Dave's first comment on his own blog combox (mine acknowleding my mistake is the second, because it took me more than a minute or so to respond): "TF keeps adding more personal attacks daily on his blog, and just keeps building higher castles of sand from his initial fallacies. Pray for his brain to understand the relationship of propositions and ideas properly. It's an amazing and pathetic display to behold." (carriage return omitted)

P.P.S. Furthermore, of course, Dave has defined Christianity in a very Protestant way (by his standards of what is Protestant), namely in a way that is individualistic. People affirm creeds (the creed begins with "credo"), systems of theology do not. But we can brush that aside for we know what Dave means (at least I think we do): if a system of theology affirms the Nicean creed it is a Christian system of theology.

Why isn't Dave Armstrong a Consistent Catholic?

Dave Armstrong has claimed that he affirms sola gratia, but the Council of Trent clearly affirms something other than sola gratia.

Why then does Dave Armstrong call himself a Roman Catholic apologist if he does not hold to/defend the teachings of Roman Catholic Ecumenical Councils?

I suggest there are three possibilities:

1) Dave really does deny sola gratia, but says he doesn't because he realizes that a denial of sola gratia is an indefensible position in the face of Scripture (if so, shame on him for being Jesuitical in his apologetic);

2) Dave really does hold to sola gratia, because he realizes Scripture teaches it (if so, good for him!) or because he realizes some of the Catholic fathers, councils, or doctors have taught (not the best reason, but ok), or as a carryover from his Protestant years (doubtful, but who knows) or for some other reason (who knows?); or

3) Dave thinks he holds to sola gratia, in essence because he does not understand the significance of sola in sola gratia (I think this is the most probable, but I'll let Dave provide his own explanation, if he so chooses.).

Let's be clear about two things:

Trent does deny sola gratia and Dave says he affirms sola gratia. Incidentally, Dave is not the only Roman Catholic so to affirm, and very few Roman Catholics are willing to explicitly deny sola gratia. But Trent did deny sola gratia, which is why it became one of the three, and later one of the five distinguishing "solas" (shouldn't that be solae?) of the Reformation.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Why Don't We Read Form Prayers?

Of course, Anglicans for many years continued to read form prayers even after the Reformation, but many (if not most) of the Reformation churches quickly abandoned form prayers. Sadly, a few are bringing back form prayers, but that's a topic for another post.

This narrative builds a frequently heard straw man (link) that I think is both sadly not entirely a straw man (i.e. some people really hold to the position represented) and also not an intentional misrepresentation (i.e. the author really thinks that extemporaneous prayer advocates really justify themselves that way).

What is the straw man? The straw man is that we oppose form prayers because we want to "really mean" what we are praying. The narrative makes a compelling argument against that straw man (or is it a straw man?). We "really mean" the form psalms we sing, and we "really mean" the Scriptures that we read.

Why then the extemporaneous prayers?

1) The example of Scripture. Scripture is full of examples of prayers, and these prayers (with one notable exception) are extemporaneous, that is to say that they are ad hoc - to the occasion.

2) The notable exception is the Lord's Prayer (RCCers - we're talking about the Pater Noster or "Our Father.") But this prayer is not presented in Scripture as a form prayer to be prayed as such, but as a template for prayer. It is pray "like this" not pray "these words."

Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

(the more specific - Matthew, providing the interpretation for the more general, Luke)

The Greek word in Matthew is ουτως = thus, like this, in this way
The Greek word in Luke is λεγετε = lay out, relate

"Say" is not a very precise translation, even though it is accurate. In short, the point of both Matthew and Luke is to provide a template, with the important matters to be included in one's prayers, sometimes summarized by the mneumonic:


Thanksgiving; and

3) The analogy to sermons/homilies. Just as a pastor tailors the sermon or homily for the congregation, applying the truths of scripture to his flock, the man praying applies Scriptural principles of prayer (such as the template of the Lord's Prayer) to the situation at hand.

4) Last, but certainly not least, the specific Scriptural admonition against rote prayers:

Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Have you ever witnessed a Roman Catholic praying a rosary, especially a non-Latin speaking Roman Catholic praying a Latin rosary, and most especially a very experienced and devout Roman Catholic senior citizen doing so with something to be done afterwards, or while engaged in something unrelated, such as driving?

Would you like to try to tell me that those prayers are not vain repetitions just like the prayers of the heathen? They are certainly repetitious, and they certainly seem to be based on a theory that if you say the prayer a lot you will be heard.


A Response to InternetMonk regarding Reformation Day

Caveat: I've never been a big fan of "Reformation Day," although I've been "Reformed" for a long time. I'm still not a big fan. I'm responding to InternetMonk not so much to disagree (though I certainly do at times) but to highlight some good points he makes, and to distinguish the good points from the bad. Source for this critique may be found here (link).

IM: "It’s fairly obvious that, at least among some Calvinists, “Reformation Day” is a new holiday to be celebrated with all the enthusiasm we once reserved for actual holidays."

Sadly, not just with the enthusiaism (which would be perfectly fine), but with the nearly mandatory requirements. "What? You're not having a Reformation Day Service? (or a Reformation Sunday sermon?) How dare you! Are you an enemy of the Reformation? Are you a friend of indulgences?" Those are not actual quotes, but the sentiment seems sometimes to swing that direction. That's not a good thing.

IM: "(Lutherans: Party on. You’ve earned it.)"

Many Lutherans are not that "Reformed" anyhow (when it comes to the celebration of holy days) ... I'm not sure adding a holiday of "Reformation Day" to their church calendar would change much.

IM: "I’m waiting for the photos of the “Dress Like a Reformer” party at a reformed church near you."

It's actually ironic but Reformed churches do hold such events (though typically more geared for the youth). It's a Christianization of some other holiday that happens to fall on the same day of the year - just the way that the equinox/solstice holidays were introduced into "Christianity." Or maybe Jesus and John the Baptist were really conceived and born at such a convenient ly preemptive time?! There's no historically documented reason to believe so.

IM: "I’ll admit to having donned the Luther costume and done the Reformation Day lecture for the students at our school on a number of occasions, and I don’t regret having done so. Most of what I said was true. Well….some of it."

Although IM is not reformed ...

IM: "In the past year, I’ve read a lot about the reformation and even more about Luther. I’m currently finishing off McGrath’s Christianity’s Dangerous Idea- a popular history of Protestantism that’s right up to speed- and I’m almost done with Richard Marius’s Luther: The Christian Between God and Death, one of the most profitable biographies of Luther I’ve ever read and I read at least one every couple of years."

Reading's good.

IM: "My reading on Luther and the Reformation has changed my mind about a lot of things. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but here’s the short list."

Like any good writer (and IM is a good writer), IM sums up the list nicely as follows:

Part of my Reformation Day will be spent contemplating what it means to say “One Lord; One Faith; One Baptism; One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.” Having a party celebrating the division of Christianity doesn’t really strike me as a something I want to do.

But of course:

A) If we wanted to celebrate the division, we pick the day that Trent voted to adopt its anathema against justification of the impious by faith alone;
B) Luther's 95 theses were about Reform not Breakaway; and
C) We celebrate the death of Roman tyranny over the Western church, not sectarianism - if we wanted to celebrate the latter we'd pick the date that the Eastern Orthodox counter-excommunicated the western church over the "heresy" of saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son rather than the Father alone.


Defeat This Man With Prayer

The man in this article (link) is an enemy of Christianity, as well as an enemy of other religions. Let us pray that God will open his eyes to the truth, illumine his mind, and regenerate his will, so that he will be repent and be converted and God will save Him.

God is great, no matter what any scoffer says to the contrary!


More on the Spirit's Testimony

In an earlier post (link) I had identified some timely articles on the Reformation view of the testimony of the Spirit.

Here are two further timely articles on the same theme (Doug Wilson) and (Steven J. Camp).


Dave Misrepresents Response by Challengees

Dave wrote: "So now "Turretinfan", "Saint and Sinner", Steve Hays, and Cory are all on record that they are young earth creationists. Do I detect a theme (i.e., intellectual suicide) in those who want to take on my apologetics, yet run from a golden opportunity to refute me with lots of folks watching, in a chat room?"

I'm not focusing on the fact that Dave discredits himself by calling acceptance of the Scriptural account of Creation "intellectual suicide" and especially by using that slur as an ad hominem on this unrelated topic (after all, one can be a good Roman Catholic and a Young Earth Creationist), but on the fact that Dave misrepresents:

a) his challenge as a "golden opportunity" (whereas it is far from golden - it's an awkward, inconvenient format); and
b) his challengees as "run[ning] from" the opportunity (whereas the present challengee has still left the door open, S&S turned him down based on lack of time, Cory turned him down for a combination of factors, and Gene turned him down because the challenge was improperly presented).

Personally, I think that Dave's mockery of Young Earth Creationism as "intellectual suicide" says more than any 150 minute chatroom debate would.

Still, if Dave could take the position of T, V1, and V2, I would be willing to debate him, as I have made clear.

Dave mockingly comments: "Right. Now Turretinfan and Cory know better what a Catholic is than a Catholic apologist and author does. Yes (and I have some oceanfront property in Kansas to sell you, too, if you are foolish enough to believe that)."

Of course, I had already anticipated this response. What Dave leaves out is that he is a self-appointed e-poligist and largely self-published author. Some (perhaps even all) of his works may have received imprimatur and/or nihil obstat, but not all of his doctrines are Catholic.

In fact, on one of the most clear issues, Dave's position is in clear conflict with another Catholic Apoligist (Tim Lang) who previously argued in comments on this blog that Muslims do worship the one true God, and was offended (I think) and stopped commenting shortly after I repeatedly asserted that the Muslims do not.

Furthermore, and this is key, Dave has apparently never defined Christianity, yet he wants to debate (or at least informally discuss) the topic. Consequently, to call such an option a "golden opportunity to refute" (emphasis added) him stretches any reader's credulity.


P.S. Dave's maturity and honesty in dealing with this situation is illustrated by his response to this post as evidenced by his description of this post on his inappropriately titled "Anti-Catholicism" web page: "additional related puerile inanities" (retrieved 10/29/2007, illustrates Dave's maturity), as well as continuing to falsely claim that his offer was "declined on 10-27-07." (also retrieved 10/29/2007, illustrates Dave's honesty: particularly considering that Dave quoted, and consequently can fairly be deemed to have read and understood: "Obviously, for now, the debate is on hold, pending Dave's decision about whether to follow Roman Catholic dogma or not label himself Roman Catholic." (retrieved at the same time, from the same place, as the previous two quotations) Imagine if we were scheduled to have 150 minutes of that! But maybe it will still happen. Maybe Dave will actually stand behind the dogmatic declarations of the church for which he is allegedly an apologist.

Reminder - Questions on the Debate

Reminder, the debate over at the TurretinDebate blog is nearly over - just time for audience questions and concluding statements. If you have any questions, please submit them if you want them considered.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Note to Lucian

On the calf/calves/cherubim issue that you have raised in comments on three different posts (two on this blog and one on the debate blog), I've started preparing an answer. Your comments raise specific factual issues, and I don't want to answer hastily.

A have a draft answer, but it's not complete.

The bottom line, obviously, is that the most obvious difference between the cherubim and the golden calf (and rebuttal to the implied argument in some of your comment) is that the former were clearly not intended to represent God, and the later was intended to represent God.